Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Around the Cape in a motorbike sidecar

One of my South African travel bucket list items I got to tick off during 2017 was going on a motorcycle sidecar tour in the Cape.  A visit to a conference in Stellenbosch had the opportunity arise to join a tour from Spier via Strand and Gordon's Bay as far as the Stoney Point penguin colony in Betty's Bay and back and I just could not say no come rain or shine.  Which turned out to be the case. Literally.

The guide from Cape Sidecar Adventures picked two of us up from the hotel on a wet and dreary day.  We both received calls from the owner early morning already to check if we were still interested to go even though it was wet out, and we were both still game.  So the trip was on.  Kitted out in rain pants and leather jackets my companion for the day slipped into the sidecar while I hopped onto the back of the bike.  The first sheet of rain hit as we went through Stellenbosch but neither of us wanted to miss out on the experience and with the guide willing we kept going.

Chapman's Peak may be rated as one of the ten most scenic roads in the world, but I've got to be honest, the R44 from Gordon's Bay to Rooi-Els doesn't have to stand back one step.  It really is a stunning drive along the coastline even with rain in your face.  Ordinarily, this specific tour would go on to Kleinmond but once we got to the penguins at Stoney Point it started coming down a bit so we settled for hot chocolates in the coffee shop before backtracking to Pringle Bay for a fish and chips lunch by a fireplace. Did we mind being slightly wet (because the layers kept most of the water out)? Hell no. We were having too good a time.

The weather started clearing on our return journey so we got to stop at a couple of the viewpoints along the way.  The views really are stunning but the highlight is definitely being able to go on a trip on one of these beautiful historic bikes.  Being able to tick this off my bucket list is one thing, but now I am hooked and next up would love to do their full day Peninsula Tour with visits to Hout Bay, Chappies, Cape Point and Boulders in Simon's Town.

PS, I would have loved to take some stunning pictures of our ride, the scenery and the bike itself, but the weather just didn't play along and I kept the camera hidden away cosy and dry for most of the trip.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Scuba diving party in Port Elizabeth

Parties are getting more and more sophisticated.  Back in our days it was kids coming over and eating cake and sweets while watching a video and playing.  These days parents are pulling out all the stops to make a child's birthday party a memorable one and with two kids, a boy and a girl, we've been to everything. Movies, ice skating, trampoline park, pool parties, supertube, survival parties and more.  But Drama Princess had a first the other day.  A scuba diving party hosted at ProDive here in Port Elizabeth. 

The kids had a swim in the dive pool while waiting for everybody to arrive before the full safety briefing by one of ProDive's qualified dive masters.

They were then given their diving gear...

... with the dive master kitting them each out individually to make sure everything is in order.

Then it was time to get in the water and the fun to start.

Miggie showing off her scuba look.

Some of the kids "got it" immediately...

... while Miggie's mind told her she has to come up every time she wanted to breathe in.  The dive master brought her back to the shallow side and spent a few moments with her to put her mind at ease and to help her get used to breathing underwater. 

Then there was no stopping her.

I wondered beforehand if Miggie would enjoy a scuba party and if she would even go under water.  Any uncertainty was cleared up very quickly and the kids at the party absolutely loved it and would have spent all day in there if they could.  I did my diving qualification many years ago and haven't dived for a while, but I remember the feeling and I can imagine while the kids loved it.  It's really something different and if you're looking for something out of the ordinary for your child's next party, then you should really consider doing this. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Hole in the Wall - an icon of the Eastern Cape

The Hole in the Wall near Coffee Bay on the Wild Coast truly is one of the iconic sights (and sites) of the Eastern Cape and South Africa and recognised worldwide. 

Hole-in-the-Wall was named by Captain Vidal in 1823.  Vidal was captain of the Barracouta and was sent by the British to survey the coastline between the Keiskamma River and Lourenço Marques (present-day Maputo). He took his ship as close as 800m from the coast and described the phenomenon of a natural archway which he then named the "Hole-in-the-Wall".

The local Bomvana people refers to the formation as ‘EsiKhaleni’, the Place of the Sound or Place of Thunder.  During certain seasons and water conditions, the waves clap in such a fashion that the concussion can be heard throughout the valley.  

Local legend tells that the Mpako River once formed a landlocked lagoon as its access to the sea was blocked by a mighty cliff.  A beautiful girl lived in a village near the lagoon.  One day she was seen by one of the sea people who became overwhelmed by her beauty and tried to woo her.  The sea people were semi-deities who look like humans but have supple wrists and ankles and flipper-like hands and feet.  When the girl’s father found out he forbade her to see her lover. So at high tide one night, the sea people came to the cliff and, with the help of a huge fish, rammed a hole through the centre of the cliff. As they swam into the lagoon they shouted and sang, causing the villagers to hide in fear. In the commotion the girl and her lover were reunited and disappeared into the sea.  

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The views of Coffee Bay

At the bottom of the beach in Coffee Bay is Bomvu Hill offering stunning views of both Coffee Bay to the north side and Bomvu Bay to the south. The village is located to the left just out of the picture next to the Nenga River. 

Looking at the Coffee Bay view the white building at the top of the beach is the Ocean View Hotel where I have now stayed twice already.  Comfortable accommodation, great dinner buffet, direct access to the beach and they offer tours to Hole in the Wall.  I haven't had a chance to stay at one of the backpackers in Coffee Bay yet but would love to experience that side and vibe of it as well, but if you're looking for hotel accommodation in Coffee Bay then Ocean View is the way to go.

Looking south Hole in the Wall is about 7 or 8 kilometres down the coast.  Coffee Shack Backpackers is located just on the other side of the rocky beach below. To the left-hand side of the hill is virtually a sheer drop down to the Indian Ocean below.  Next time I visit Coffee Bay I want to do a surf lesson. Time for me to try something new.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

I finally got to visit Hole in the Wall

One of my absolute travel highlights during 2017 is the fact that I finally got to visit the Hole in the Wall near Coffee Bay on the Wild Coast.  It was somewhat of an embarrassment to be somebody promoting and marketing the Eastern Cape but having to say that I have never been there. It's not the closest destination to where I live in Port Elizabeth though so it's not like I could just pop up to go and see it.  About two years ago I was in Coffee Bay en route to Durban and wanted to go, but circumstances led to me not being able to.  It means that this time around there was no way I was going to miss it again. Non at all.

Coffee Bay is a good 6 1/2 hour drive from Port Elizabeth and knowing that I left PE early to give myself enough time to see one of South Africa's iconic geological attractions.  After checking in at the hotel in Coffee Bay and declining the invitation of gin and tonics from a few travel colleagues who had arrived already, I headed the 8 km or so down the coast towards Hole in the Wall.  There are two options to view "the wall".  One from the hill above and the second from the rocky beach.  I opted for the former first and followed the track up the hill.  What a sight! 

After taking in as much from the viewpoint as I could I headed down to the bottom.  Rather than leaving my car at the normal parking spot and allowing myself to be harassed by the "informal guides", I wangled my way into the grounds of the Hole in the Wall Hotel and after a chat to the GM made my way out the gate and along the path to find myself face to face with this Wild Coast icon.  I literally felt like I could spend all day here and if I had brought a towel and lunch I may well have done just that.  Finally I can tick one of the big things off my South African travel bucket list. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Spending a day in the Tsitsikamma - video

I have always wanted to make travel videos.  When I started working as a tourist guide in 1998 I had a little video camera which I filmed my tours with.  Back then I didn't know anything about editing.  The video was basically what I shot and I had to make sure the video was rewound just far enough for the next shot to start where I wanted it to.  All those videos are somewhere on VHS tapes in a cupboard at home.  Somewhere I kinda lost the whole video thing and started enjoying photography and blogging.  But as a blogger I started to feel like I'm falling further and further behind many other travel bloggers who started including more video on their social media platforms.

A few weeks ago we headed out to the Tsitsikamma for a day and I decided that it was time to give video a go again.  Rather than go out and take photos all day, I took video clips on my DSLR camera and on returning downloaded a very easy to use video editing program.  This week I finally had a chance to play around with it and once I started I couldn't stop.  I realise that with the DSLR obviously not having an anti-shake like a video camera has I should probably have used a tripod, but I live and learn.  I must say that I was quite impressed with the end result.  Obviously, I still have a lot to learn, but you can definitely be sure that you will be seeing a lot more video from me in future.

So here it is, my first video called A day in the Tsitsikamma.  What do you think?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Going surfing in Coffee Bay


One of the very popular activities to do when young international backpackers visit Coffee Bay is to learn to surf.  Most of the backpacker lodges in the area offer surf lessons and there is always somebody walking around with a surfboard either heading for the waves or out of it.  This young lady just finished her surf and was making her way back to where her friends were waiting for her. Now surfing is something I have never tried and something that is still on my bucket list.  Perhaps next time I visit Coffee Bay...