Kilimanjaro September 2015 Over-Fifties Summit

September 18, 2013
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Download article as PDF Trip Overview   Price: US$3699 From an older climbers point of view (Over 50s doesn’t really mean only over 50s, but older climbers in general with an interest in a slower pace, an easier approach and plenty of time to get to know the terrain, history and culture of this fascinating region) Kilimanjaro offers an opportunity to challenge one of the world’s principal peaks with a surprising level of comfort and without too many technical challenges. What is unique about this trip? This is a personally guided trip. I work with established local operators to create a compatible route structure and a time frame suitable for a gradual altitude adjustment. I am also available at all […]

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Kilimanjaro 2013 Over Fifties Summit Report

September 9, 2013
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Download article as PDF Please check for current information… Kilimanjaro occupies a mythic status among the world’s great mountains. It towers nearly 20,000ft about the surrounding Maasai Steppe, the highest freestanding mountain in the world, and an iconic backdrop to some of the most beautiful and ecologically important wilderness and wildlife areas in the world. It is an International Heritage Site, and in itself an important series of biomes among the half a dozen or so tropical highland regions that punctuate the Great Rift Valley complex. It is also a relatively easy mountain to climb – although I confess I was reminded several times on this trip to be more specific in future about what precisely the word ‘easy’ implies. […]

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MS Expedition West Africa Cruise 2014

May 12, 2014
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Download article as PDF (All in-line images are original, but the featured images at the end of this post belong to Gary Arnt of Everything-Everywhere and are licensed to the author but otherwise copyrighted) A few days before embarkation I had the pleasure of spending a few days with Dave Van Niekerk of High Constantia. Dave, who those of you who read the blog of my previous trip will know was the wine aficionado who enthralled a shipload of discerning travelers with one of the most unusual interpretive travel presentations anywhere. This, incidentally, is one of the most unique and pleasing aspects of this trip. Who would expect a trip of Africa to feature wine? But wine is very much […]

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Kenya and the Case for Tanzania

September 26, 2013
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Download article as PDF The recent Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya (September 2013) has tended to highlight insecurity in that country. The current situation owes its roots to the ongoing insecurity in Somalia, a situation that has its origins in the 1991 coup against General Mohammed Siad Barre, which set in motion and interlocking phase of warfare, warlordism and general insecurity in Somalia that has persisted more or less unchanged until the present day. The current boget on the map is the al-Qaeda associated militant group Al-Shabaab, a splinter group of the earlier Islamic Courts Union (ICU) which grew in strength from a general breakdown of law and order following the 1991 coup, and the gradual proliferation thereafter of […]

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Lemosho Route

August 4, 2013
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Download article as PDF Lemosho Route is the longest of the Kili outfield routes, and it is sometimes regarded as the second timers Kilimanjaro route, although it is also for anyone with an appetite for a quieter trail and a more remote atmosphere. Some would say that the beauty of the trail is a little less accessible than some of the other routes, but I do not always subscribe to that, and certainly the rolling Shira Plateau, which is one of the principal features of the trail, adds an interesting texture, quite as it allows for a more moderate process of acclimatization. Lemosho also has the added potential of big game sighting on the lower reaches, requiring sometimes that the […]

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Fly Fishing in the Smokey Mountains National Park

June 1, 2013
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Download article as PDF From the Super 8 Motel astride the junction of the I-40 and I-75 the prospects did not seem superb – although the weather at least was promising. A low swelling upon the south horizon, barely discernible behind a deep spring haze, indicated the Appalachians close to their southern extremity, and the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Therein lies a concentrated fly fishing culture that is undiluted by any trickery other than the ancient and respectable deception of the fly. To prove this, just outside the mountain hamlet of Townsend, sits Little River Outfitters, a toothsome, compact little fly fishing centre with that exclusivity of purpose that so delights the heart of a true fly fisherman. No […]

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Dry Fly Headwater Fishing in South Africa

May 8, 2013
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Download article as PDF They say that the pinnacle of a fly fisherman’s art is mastery of the dry fly. In fact there are those that say that the use of any other technique is not fly fishing at all. I am sure that this is overstating the point, but the small stream, small tackle principal is definitely addictive, and in my experience at least it is easier to catch a fat, torpedo sized trout in one of the warm water dams and reservoirs of the Eastern Cape of South Africa than it is to tempt a seven inch wild bred brown trout to rise up for a dry fly on the crystal clear streams of this superb fly fishing […]

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Fishing the Headwater Streams of the Western Cape

March 3, 2013
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This entry is part 10 of 11 in the series Getting the Reels in Motion - Fly Fish Africa 2013

Download article as PDF This entry is part 10 of 11 in the series Getting the Reels in Motion – Fly Fish Africa 2013The Western Cape hinterland of Cape Town enjoys a well fleshed selection of fly fishing opportunities, quite a few of which are along the lines of stocked dams and reservoirs, but there are also a good number of wild stock streams and rivers, all within a few hours drive of the main metropolitan area. The best of these can be found in the Hawequas Mountain Catchment Area in a wide arc between the towns of Ceres in the north and Grabouw in the south, including Wellington, Worcester, Villiersdorp and Somerset West. Fishing these streams was without doubt […]

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Lagoon and Estuary Fishing in the Western Cape

March 3, 2013
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This entry is part 9 of 11 in the series Getting the Reels in Motion - Fly Fish Africa 2013

Download article as PDF This entry is part 9 of 11 in the series Getting the Reels in Motion – Fly Fish Africa 2013By the time I made my way down towards the East Coast – that is the coast of the southern rump of South Africa – I had begun to run into a time crunch and could not really make the best of the opportunities available. I did, however, pull into the small coastal town of Hermanus, usually famous for its Southern Right Whale breeding runs, but also located at the mouth of the Klein River and one of the recognized coastal fly fishing hotspots along the East Coast. Hermanus itself is a lovely spot. In the African […]

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Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Town

February 25, 2013
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Download article as PDF On the comparatively  verdant, eastern facing slopes of Table Mountain lies one of South Africa’s most under rated, but nonetheless superb attractions. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is a world renowned destination, covering five of South Africa’s six biomes, and underwritten by a commitment to the preservation of the natural plant heritage of South Africa, but particularly that in and around the Cape itself, recognized as a bio-diversity hotspot. I do not intend to articulate the peculiarities of the Fynbos biome in this article, here instead is a link to the Wikipedia page  on the subject, which details the technical attributes of the flora of the Western Cape region. As a botanical garden Kirstenbosch is the equal […]

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Cape Town, a few sights and sounds

February 23, 2013
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Download article as PDF Here are is a gallery of images, sights and sounds of Cape Town, the Mother City, Parliamentary Capital of South Africa and one of the coolest cities on the planet. Enjoy.

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Vergelegen Estate, Somerset West

February 20, 2013
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Download article as PDF Rating: Vergelegen Estate in Somerset West, just outside Cape Town in the Western Cape, is among the premier infield wine destinations accessible from Cape Town. Somerset West is a little bit of a bedroom community for the Cape, and on the surface has a slightly industrial flavor, with the main freeway running through towards Cape Town being dominated by a large strip mall complex of the type that has ruined significant expanses  of the United States over the last twenty or more years. Off the main strip, however, a far more agricultural aspect dominates, and then turning into the gates of Vergelegen Estate an immediate ambiance of another age floods the senses. There was a time, […]

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Shark Cage Diving, Gansbaai, Western Cape, South Africa

February 17, 2013
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Download article as PDF It has been one of my bucket list items for some time to get to Gansbaai in the Western Cape for the famous white shark cage diving that in recent years has become such an iconic venture travel activity in South Africa. Gansbaai is located at the southern end of Walkers Bay in the Western Cape, an hour or so drive from Cape Town, and at the opposite end to Hermanus, arguably one of the loveliest of the little towns that dot the coast of the Western Cape. Just by way of background, Gansbaai is the closest launch point to Dyer Island and Geyser Island, both hard offshore, and each part of a carefully managed nature […]

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Kariega Game Reserve, Private Conservation With a Difference

February 14, 2013
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Download article as PDF Rating: One thing that South Africa does very well is private conservancies equipped with luxury bush camps and lodges. There are a good number of these out there, some with iconic names, others small, specialized and obscure. It is these establishments that help place South Africa very much on the front line of African wildlife conservation, as well as offering a unique diversity of eco-tourism options that are not always available in other African destinations. Kariega Game Reserve is one of the more comprehensive of these private conservancies, located in the Eastern Cape close to the coastal town of Kenton-on-Sea, encompassing two important local rivers – the Bushmans and the Kariega – and within a transitional […]

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Grahamstown, Academia in the Eastern Cape

February 14, 2013
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Download article as PDF Grahamstown is a very odd place. The middle of Africa is hardly the place that you would expect to find deep academia, but as I rolled out of the Karoo after weeks of back country and bucolic country towns it was most unexpected to arrive in this little Oxford or Cambridge, or any other blue ribbon university town anywhere in the developed world, right here in South Africa. Grahamstown is the seat of Rhodes University, one of South Africa’s most respected academic institutions, established in 1904 with a grant from the Rhodes Trust, and one of four Universities in the Cape. It is probably not as august as Stellenbosch University, located in the Western Cape, but it […]

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Highland Lodge, a Little Oasis in the Stormberg

February 9, 2013
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Download article as PDF Rating: The Eastern Cape is an odd landscape of high desert, alpine highlands and the soft hill country that falls away from the southern Drakensberg. Without the obvious open plains and thundering hooves appeal of the popular imagination, this region is no less intrinsically African than the Serengeti, or other iconic landscapes that speak so eloquently of Africa. It is Xhosa country in the main, although large areas of it were uninhabited before European settlement, and there is therefore a mature, settled and stable mood about the region that is quite unusual in the African context. Highland Lodge is situated just outside the small Stormberg town of Dordtrecht. It’s principal raison d’etre is fly fishing, with […]

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Highland Lodge, Eastern Cape, Home of The Bloody Big Fish

February 8, 2013
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This entry is part 8 of 11 in the series Getting the Reels in Motion - Fly Fish Africa 2013

Download article as PDF This entry is part 8 of 11 in the series Getting the Reels in Motion – Fly Fish Africa 2013It was Wolf Avni who urged me to make a point of visiting Highland Lodge just outside Dordrecht in the Eastern Cape, enthusing in his inimitable way about some environmental anomaly that produces outrageously big trout. I had earmarked Thrift Dam as the likely source of the big fish I wanted before the end of the Eastern Cape leg of the trip – this is after all big fish country, but having failed to land that big fish, my hopes shifted to Highland Lodge. I drove up from Queenstown early in the morning, reaching the Stormberg at […]

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Thrift Dam, a South African Fly Fishing Legend Exposed

February 5, 2013
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This entry is part 3 of 11 in the series Getting the Reels in Motion - Fly Fish Africa 2013

Download article as PDF This entry is part 3 of 11 in the series Getting the Reels in Motion – Fly Fish Africa 2013Thrift Dam was suggested to me by author and adventurer Kevin Thomas as being something of an oddity on the South African Fly Fishing circuit – this for reasons of it having been at one time an experimental water administered by the Rhodes University Ichthyology Department in the study of trout in South African waters. According to Kevin, it was reputed to hold some of the largest trout in any South African water. The other point he mentioned was that he had heard that it was now inaccessible without a four-wheel-drive vehicle. I added it to my […]

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Tenahead Lodge – A little too remote for comfort

February 4, 2013
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Download article as PDF Rating: Separating the South African Eastern Cape settlements of Rhodes and Maclear is a three thousand meter plus escarpment falling away from the southern rump of Lesotho, and the Southern Drakensberg. A road exists between the two settlements, mounting the escarpment at a point known as Naude’s Pass at an altitude slightly higher than 3000m. It is a breathtakingly beautiful scenic drive, winding slowly up through the higher reaches of the Witteberg, and the bleak, sparsely vegetated and perennially damp highlands at the upper reaches. Set in a slight valley at the absolute headwater of the Bell River, a tributary of the dominant local Kraai River, is a small farm – Tenahead Farm, whereupon stands the […]

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Fishing in Rhodes, Eastern Cape, South Africa

February 3, 2013
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This entry is part 1 of 11 in the series Getting the Reels in Motion - Fly Fish Africa 2013

Download article as PDF This entry is part 1 of 11 in the series Getting the Reels in Motion – Fly Fish Africa 2013(The image on the left is Tony Keitzman in 1992 with a prize winning trout) Leaving KwaZulu/Natal and entering the Free State is also about leaving the brash, California style mindset of that particular part of South Africa and entering an older, more culturally defined region of the same country. South of the Orange River things are very different. The perennial South African color issue is less sharply defined here. There is far less of that clear black/white divide in the south than there is in the north, and more of an historical blending that reveals a […]

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Rhodes, A Village at the Center of the World

February 3, 2013

Download article as PDF There is nowhere in sub-Saharan Africa that is less African in aspect than the tiny Hamlet of Rhodes in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. The landscape surrounding Rhodes is that falling off the southern rump of the Drakensberg, immediately adjacent to Lesotho. It is composed of soft, interlocking hill country clad in alpine type vegetation with a tangible Scottish moorland character. Rhodes itself, albeit something of a tourist town, is a village of perhaps one hundred and fifty houses as well as a mini township. The architecture is minimalist, giving the whole settlement a slightly fairytale character, but very much in keeping with the architectural styles of the period. Currently Rhodes is the epicenter of […]

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South African Rural Architecture

January 28, 2013

Download article as PDF Leaving Natal and entering the Orange Free State, or the Free State as it is more correctly known these days, my journey began to drift into older and more established regions of South Africa. The Free State is an agricultural province, and from here I move into the Eastern, Western and Northern Cape, older still. I found that I began to encounter small roadside towns with snatches of old colonial and even earlier architecture, and I thought the best way to showcase this would be to build a gallery under the general title of South African Rural Architecture. I will update it as the journey continues, so enjoy.

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Fishing – or Not – the Beautiful Thukela River

January 28, 2013
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This entry is part 4 of 11 in the series Getting the Reels in Motion - Fly Fish Africa 2013

Download article as PDF This entry is part 4 of 11 in the series Getting the Reels in Motion – Fly Fish Africa 2013The Thukela River proved to be a disappointment. The story begins a few miles south in the Giant’s Castle Reserve where I fished the Bushman’s River, catching several ten inch brownies, but once again, as had been the case everywhere so far, that big fish eluded me. I had deliberately avoided seeking any advice on the upper Thukela River, located within the Royal Natal National Park, because I suspected that if I did someone would warn me that fishing hereabouts would be a waste of time. The Berg region had just received a comprehensive dousing thanks to […]

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Small Stream Fishing on the the Bushman’s River

January 25, 2013
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This entry is part 5 of 11 in the series Getting the Reels in Motion - Fly Fish Africa 2013

Download article as PDF This entry is part 5 of 11 in the series Getting the Reels in Motion – Fly Fish Africa 2013After spending a week or so at the coast to take refuge from a wave of turbulent weather that washed over the sub-continent towards the end of January, and after taking care of a little bit of business, I set off towards the Drakensberg uKhahlamba National Park to test out the fishing in one or two of the many rivers that flush off the flanks of the escarpment, feeding ultimately into the catchments of the two big brothers of KZN rivers, the Thukela and the Umzimkulu. I had already fished the Umzimkulu outside Underberg, unsuccessfully I have […]

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Giants Castle, Drakensberg uKhahlamba Park

January 25, 2013

Download article as PDF The Drakensberg uKhahlamba National Park comprises a number of individual conservation areas that collectively embrace the Drakensberg Escarpment under state protection as areas of supreme natural beauty, a fact which also exists under the purview of the United Nations as an International Heritage site. Giant’s Castle is not regarded as the most outstanding of the family of preserves that make up the park, but it is certainly one of the most accessible from the Midlands, and is without doubt a stunningly beautiful place. The most practical access to the park is via the small town of Mooi River, from where it is well signposted. The entrance gate lies some thirty-five miles from Mooi River, on a […]

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Fort Nottingham, a Little Meander in the Morning

January 25, 2013

Download article as PDF One morning I found myself with a few hours to kill in the central Meander town of Nottingham Road, waiting, as one does, for the local coffee shop with WiFi to open. I had noticed a sign indicating the route to Fort Nottingham, KZN, and being something of a military enthusiast, I thought that I would investigate. Fort Nottingham lies about seven miles out of Nottingham Road, and is not in the slightest bit military. In fact it is another of those most unexpected surprises that make travel so enjoyable. There was plenty of signage all the way from Nottingham Road announcing, with no small amount of fanfare, the imminent appearance of Fort Nottingham, and when […]

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Amazian River Lodge, Underberg

January 22, 2013

Download article as PDF Rating: The Umzimkulu River begins its journey in the highlands of the Drakensberg, reaching the ocean near Port Shepstone. In between it meanders through the hills and foothills of the Berg, a soft landscape of picturesque farms, grass clad hills and occasional copses of woodland. In the distance the ramparts of the Drakensberg Escarpment diminish slowly, and begin to fade into soft focus. It is a lovely landscape, so unexpected in Africa, but also, in many ways, so very African indeed. The river, and the many lakes and dams hereabouts, support strong populations of wild-bred rainbow and brown trout. The climatic and geographic peculiarities of the southern Drakensberg breed large fish, and where they are stocked […]

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Giant’s Cup Resort Drakensberg

January 19, 2013

Download article as PDF Rating: My visit to Giant’s Cup Resort located a few miles outside the southern Drakensberg town of Underberg was to sample the fly fishing for which, not only the region, but also Giant’s Cup itself is highly rated. On the surface Giant’s Cup is a discrete resort located on a family farm nestling in a 110 hectare enclave within the 5000,000 hectare Drakensberg Park. Under the surface it is much more than this. The property is owned in part, and managed by Wolf Avni, author and fly fishing supremo, who brings to the establishment the authenticity of a man deeply knowledgeable about both trout fishing and trout husbandry. Giant’s Cup operates an in-house trout hatchery that […]

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Spioenkop Battlesite South Africa

January 19, 2013

Download article as PDF Spioenkop (lookout, or spy hill), or Spionkop  as it is frequently, but incorrectly spelled, is another of the better known battlesites that litter the South African Battlefield Route. It is located  about 20 miles southeast of Ladysmith, and was fought as part of the British attempts to break the Siege of Ladysmith that took place between 30 October 1899 and 28 February 1900, and which was one of the defining sequences of the early stage of the Anglo/Boer War. I visited Spioenkop Battle Site in the midst of a low pressure system that was at the time subjecting much of the country to torrential rain, so it was a damp and rather morbid visit, possibly in […]

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Spionkop Lodge: A History Unto Itself

January 19, 2013

Download article as PDF Rating: My visit to Spioenkop Battle Site on the KwaZulu Natal Battlefield Route included a stay as the guest of Raymond and Lynette Heron, owners of the lovely Spionkop Lodge. The Spionkop Lodge complex is an upgraded farm compound with its own historical significance in relation to the iconic Spioenkop battleground that it is named after, being that it was British Commander Sir Redvers Buller’s headquarters and command center for the conduct of the Spoenkop assault. The lodge is set on a working farm a few hundred meters off the main road between Ladysmith and Winterton in the heart of the KNZ Battlefield Route. Visually the collection of buildings that represent the lodge and its detached […]

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