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...

Friday, November 3, 2017

Koffiebus and Teebus on a moody day in the Karoo

The Karoo Heartland has a unique beauty which I have really learned to appreciate more and more as I have gotten older.  If you're a forest or beach person then the Karoo may not be for you, but if big skies and open spaces feed your soul then there is no better place.  One of my favorite Eastern Cape Karoo Heartland landmarks is the Koffiebus and Teebus mountains outside Steynsburg.  Although there are many similar Karoo koppies throughout the whole region, the fact that there is a thick one (the coffee pot) and a thin one (the teapot) next to each other like this is quite noticeable.  

Monday, October 23, 2017

A Ninja Turtle problem in East London


I was in East London a couple of weeks ago and noticed the neighbourhood watch board on the guesthouse gate.  Neighbourhood watch groups do an amazing job getting residents together and curbing crime in residential areas and I live in a suburb with a very active neighbourhood watch. Looking at this board though I thought to myself that we're very lucky in our area not to have a Ninja Turtle problem like they do in East London.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Beware the Warthog

 
Being from the Eastern Cape we all know that there are areas where you have to be very careful driving at night.  Unlike our friends in the Big Smoke it's not robbers and highjackers we have to be careful of, but rather Kudus.  These big antelope jump fences up to 2 meters tall and come and browse on the side of the road after dark, often jumping into the road and colliding with cars when they get startled by the bright lights.  Because of this Kudu warning road signs is a regular sight on the roads of the Karoo Heartland.

But lately, a new sign has stuck its head out.  A Warthog warning sign.  Now warthogs don't jump fences, for that their legs are way too short.  But they do burrow underneath and they can often be seen on the side of the R75 road towards Graaff-Reinet from Port Elizabeth.  Hence, Beware of Warthog signs. 

For some reason, I just want to sing, "Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase. Hakuna Matata! Ain't no passing craze..." when I drive past them. Go figure...

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The road is long...

When I downloaded this photo of me sitting in the road near Jansenville in the Karoo Heartland from my camera onto the laptop and saw it, the first thing that came to my mind was "The road is long..." from He ain't heavy, he's my brother by The Hollies.  The tune, melody, words, everything.  It's probably also the best description of my life lately.  Between work and personal life it's been busy, busy, busy with lots of time spent on the road and driving my desk when I'm not, catching up on admin.  I wouldn't have it any other way though because I love what I do, but in the process blogging was the one thing that was left on the luke hot back burner.  There just hasn't been much for blogging and I really need to make a plan to change that.  But a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step and the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.  So at one stage or another, I need to get back into blogging and this is as good a time as any.  I posted for the first time in over six weeks on Port Elizabeth Daily Photo earlier this week and its time to get Firefly the Travel Guy going again after this break.  So, "The road is long, With many a winding turn..."

Monday, August 28, 2017

A couple of surprises in the Camdeboo National Park

No visit to Graaff-Reinet will be complete without a visit to the Valley of Desolation yet I wonder how many people actually realise that the Valley of Desolation is located within the Camdeboo National Park, which actually reaches all the way around the town, and that you can also go game viewing in the park.  On our long weekend in Graaff-Reinet we spent our Saturday exploring the town's historical heart on foot and kept the Sunday to explore the Camdeboo National Park.  The plan was to spend the Sunday morning doing some game viewing, head back to Camdeboo Cottages, where we were staying, for lunch and some R&R before aiming to the Valley late afternoon for sunset on the mountain.    

The entrance to the game viewing area is just past the turnoff to the Valley of Desolation and takes one straight into a typical Karoo landscape of low Karoo bush and grassland, mountains in the distance and the Nqweba Dam on the other side towards tow, and big skies.  Lots of big skies.  The park has about 19km of gravel roads which we found to be in a very good condition and no problem for the Polo to navigate.  

The Camdeboo National Park isn't quite Kruger or Addo, but if you are in the area and enjoy game watching then it's well worth a drive through.  The Game viewing area is home to buffalo, which we unfortunately didn't encounter on this trip, and game species like eland, black wildebeest, gemsbok, red hartebeest, blesbok, springbok and mountain zebra.  Friends of ours in the park the same time than us even spotted the elusive rooikat (linx) near one of the waterholes.  Our timing seemed to have sucked and we missed it.  The park is also home to over 240 listed bird species of which we did spot a few so I imagine the twitchers would love the park. 

After a quick picnic at the park's picnic site, which we had all to our own, we took a drive to the bird hide next to the Nqweba Dam.  The dam level is quite low at the moment which means not a lot of animals or even birds around.

After a bit of kicking our feet up at the guesthouse, we took the road out to the park again in the late afternoon and made our way up the mountain towards the Valley of Desolation.  After a stop at the toposcope lookout it was time to show the KidZ what the Valley looked like.  I've been up here many times over the years and it never gets old.  Ok, just wait.  The Valley is old, over 200 millions years old, but I mean I never get tired of it.  Hahaha....     

It is an awe-inspiring feeling standing there looking at the towering dolerite columns with the vast Karoo stretching out beyond.  The dolerite pillars rise up to a height of up to 120 meters and were formed by volcanic and erosive forces over a period of 200 million years.  It's hard to explain the beauty of the place and not everybody who visits "gets it", but the Valley of Desolation is a truly special place.

I made sure we got there early enough to go for a walk along the Crag Lizard Trail, a 1,5 km sircular trail that shouldn't take you more than about 45 minutes to walk.  I want to say the only reason I did it was to go and find the Geocache located just beyond the turning point, but for the first time I got to see more of the Valley of Desolation and some of the further columns which you don't get to see from the main view point.  We made it back just in time for the sun to start setting and found that it was disappearing behind the mountain and not over the valley as it does in summer. Darn!

We quickly hopped back in the car and made our way a bit down the mountain to an alternative lookout point I was told about on my last visit, making it just in time as the sun disappeared over the distant mountains.

And with that sunset our long weekend in the Gem of the Karoo also came to an end.  So what do we take home from the weekend?  That Graaff-Reinet is the perfect weekend destination for people living in the Eastern Cape with a variety of historic and natural attractions to keep you busy with during your stay.  I also came to the conclusion that people from the interior passing through and heading to the coast and don't realise what they are missing.  But that really goes for anybody who hasn't had the opportunity to explore Graaff-Reinet and the Camdeboo National Park.