A small-town’s struggle for freedom against apartheid January 28, 2015
1 week down! January 26, 2015
So I have been away from home for a week and it has gone extremely quickly! This week has been great as I have had a chance to settle in and get to know the City. I have met life long friends who I have been able to share experiences with and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself. Michelle my friend from the hostel is great company, we’ve done everything together this week and we’ve had a ball. Smile 90.4 is such a great station to be working at, I’m one lucky person to have been given this internship. Everyone at the station is so welcoming and helping get as much out of this experience as possible. The past week has been a nice gradual introduction to the station, next week is going to be more full on as they are currently on ‘downtime’. Today I shadowed the news team, helping them…
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The Wilderness Secret – Clifford’s Cave January 21, 2015
Wild walks and cave dwellers …
So after a big weekend in PE and George, it was time to get back on the road, albeit for all of about 20 minutes down the Kaaiman’s River pass and into Wilderness. It has always been one of those places driven by and never visited. That was about to change.
It’s a pretty striking view when you come out of the pass and the viewpoint on the N2 nearly does it justice but hides so much from view. If you are not in rush, head up to Wilderness Heights in the direction of the Map of Africa and you will truly get an understanding of what a spectacular part of the world this is.
After being blown away by the view of the town and the Touws river mouth i turned around and stared down at the “Map of Africa”, Its resemblance is uncanny right down to two different rivers, The Kaaiman’s and Silver, meeting at its point much like the Indian and Atlantic do in Cape Town.
I started to like Wilderness and i hadn’t even arrived yet.
I made my way back into town and sought out the Fairy Knowe Backpackers, which is beautiful hideaway right next to the Wilderness National Park. Within walking distance to town, 90% of the activities and some beautiful hikes, it’s a definite for a place to crash when you pass this way
The Backpackers is run by fellow by the name of Digby, who upon my arrival bombarded me with a gazillion things I could do, canoeing, horse riding, paragliding, hiking, abseiling and kloofing to mention just a smattering of what you can do in this super beautiful place of the world. I spent two days here i would recommend at the very least four!
After a quick run around of the facilities of the Backpackers, which is set on about 10ha of land covered in indigenous bush and forms part of the Pied King Fisher trail, i set about planning the next two days with a sinking feeling I wasn’t going to experience a smidgen of what i wanted to do.
Digby also makes a hell of an effort to get everyone socializing by offering a cooked meal in the evening for 55 bucks, the plate of food you get could feed three and is damn tasty. A bunch of us sat around a dinner table and had a great chat about just about everything worth shooting the shit about. He also offers a killer breakfast for 35 bucks, cooked or healthy and did i mention the daily fresh-baked muffins?
There are also the usual’s, free wi-fi, an epic bar, comfy sofa’s, a few idiot boxes although with a location like this who needs it! The self catering kitchen is super well equipped and there is a porch that catches the morning sun and is an excellent place to start the day with a coffee looking over the lake bordering the Backpackers. There is also a great outdoor area under some Milkwoods next to the bar with hammocks, a fire pit and braai area which was set upon this earth for the sole purpose of dropping anchor and never leaving.
The room i was given was a double, super comfy, an epic duvet that didn’t require additional effort to keep warm and goes for 350 a night. Fairy Knowe Backpackers also offer out of season rates so check HI South Africa for great deals.
I got up the next morning to a chilly sunrise and headed to the Wilderness National Park, which was a 10 minute walk from the Backpackers, my Wild Card got me in free and i immediately headed in to a thick indigenous forest which was very much alive. There are two routes to follow on this hike up to a spectacular waterfall.
The Bosdruif and the way more chilled stroll along the banks. Do both, the Bosdruif loops back onto the chilled route, but offers a spectacular view from the peak of its route, it’s a steep hike but the reward is worth it. The walk is through amazing bush, thick forest and runs parallel to the Touws river.
Go early as later in the day there is a fairly steady stream of people visiting the falls, I got there and had the place to myself for an hour, if you feeling brave scramble up above the waterfall and there is another Waterfall and a fantastic swimming hole. It was super cold but after the Bosdruif i needed it.
Reluctantly i packed up and a walk that should have taken me three hours had taken me closer to five, with the numerous views, photo opportunities and the desire not to leave the falls. I would recommend packing a picnic and spending the day up there, it’s well worth it.
Digby recommended i do the railway line hike to Victoria Bay, after doing it twice, it is something you have to do when you visit Wilderness. Seriously. If you don’t you missing out. It’s not strenuous, but the views, the hair-raising crossing of the bridge across the Kaaiman’s, scrambling through old railway tunnels and finally a spectacular view of Vic Bay make it an epic experience.
Just as you pass through the first tunnel, there is a cave, like no other you have experienced. It is inhabited by Clifford. He has spent nearly six years turning it into a seriously amazing spectacle, its is decorated with shell mobiles, drift wood and all manner of things. It has an amazing Garden and can sleep upward of ten people. It’s hard to describe in words, it is something you have to see for yourself.
Drop by, don’t be afraid and hook him up with some moolah, as technically he is homeless, despite owning the finest cave in the Southern Hemisphere. I went back the next day to shoot more images and it just re-enforced that this cave is in fact a living breathing work of art perpetuated by a slightly mad genius.
Shortly after the cave comes the harrowing bridge crossing, I normally have no issue with heights but some casual efforts to grab some imagery resulted in me realizing that walking down the middle of the track wasn’t the best idea, stick to the rickety walkway. After that the rest of the walk is über chilled but still spectacular. Go in the afternoon for better light.
As i headed back to the Fairy Knowe, I was bushed. I showered, ate and crashed into oblivion. The next morning felt like I was attached to the bed and after a slow start i headed back out to the cave to shoot some more images of the Cliffords cave.
It didn’t take long before lunchtime had come and gone and i needed to get moving to my next stop. After a packing and another chat with the super cool and seriously knowledgeable Digby, I reluctantly headed towards Sedgefield and Myoli Beach to experience the AfroVibes Adventure lodge, knowing i hadn’t got close to getting the full Wilderness experience.
** I shot the cave in detail and when i get a chance to actually look at the photo’s i’ll do a full story … it was incredible.
Fairy Knowe Backpackers Lodge is well positioned, with Wilderness being at the pivot of all that can be enjoyed on the Garden Route. The many adventure attractions of Wilderness are on the doorstep: from amazing hiking trails, to endless beach walks and stunning canoe trips through the Wilderness National Park to the waterfalls.
TEL: +27 (0) 44 877 1285
Here is the link for this webpage: http://www.goinghomeless.co.za/wild-walks-and-cave-dwellers/
My volunteer did some facepainting with some kids in Knysna January 12, 2015
Face painting with the kids from the local township and safe house in Knysna in South Africa. All done by my volunteer
“Today my volunteer had a special outing planned for the kids from the safe house, a boat trip on the famous Knysna lagoon followed by a lunch of KFC.
Knysna is one of the most famous and well loved estuary towns of South Africa with the lagoon being a huge integral part of its tourism industry. Sadly though the lagoon is not often experienced by the kids of the township so it was extremely special that my volunteer could give them this opportunity.
We went down to the Knysna Waterfront and waited in line for our turn to board “Three Legs” the boat on which the kids would be going. As it is still school holidays the boat was really full but the kids managed to get great places with Thombi and Angelo sitting right by the end of the seat close to the water. Even little Toffee was excited sitting quietly with a huge grin.
The navigator started “Three Legs” up and off we went on the open water with the guide entertaining us with great commentary full of jokes. “Three Legs” went all the way up to the Knysna Headlands were the sea comes into the lagoon and the kids loved it when the swells became more choppy and the boat rolled around. Luckily our navigator was very experienced so we were never in any real danger. The kids got to see what Leisure Isle and the other side of the lagoon looked like from the water with the cliffs jutting out and their caves at the water’s edge.
We then turned back to the Waterfront and set foot on dry land after a good 75 minutes on water. You could see the enjoyment on the kids’ faces and the happy smiles. Then it was time for them to have their lunch with KFC Streetwise 2 meals for all of them-a big favourite- before heading back to the safe house. Once again the kids all nodded off in the car after a very successful and fun-filled morning.
My volunteer has lots of fun filled activities planned at the safe house over the next few days. They will be decorating (and eating) gingerbread men, face painting, arts and crafts fun and making their own pizzas from scratch (and once again eating them) so they will only have an outing again next week although they will be far from bored and extremely entertained.
If she wasn’t volunteering at the safe house and also thanks to the fundraising she did, the kids would be sitting bored stiff at home so I think they will truly have a school holiday they will never forget and cherish these memory”
Once again I have taken my volunteer’s name out for anonymity
“After the yesterday’s previous outing to the forest it was decided on-pretty much by the kids- that the beach would be the outing for today. I use the term “beach” very loosely as in actual fact we ended up going to the “Green Hole” at Leisure Isle which is really just a shallow type of moat which circles the island on the one side and is really safe for little kids especially as our local municipality and 4 lifesavers on guard. That in itself was a great relief as ALL the kids were in the water apart from Lamla, one of the teenagers, who was not feeling 100% that day.
As soon as we got there my volunteer smothered the kids in factor 60 sunscreen before they all ran down to the water’s edge and started splashing around. Some of the kids are really good swimmers considering they have had no formal lessons and there is no public pool in the township for them to practice swimming. They were like little fishes apart from little Beauty who was a little bit more cautious and got really animated every time she saw a crab.
I had bought my laptop with so caught up with work leaving my volunteer fully in charge with the kids which is no mean feat when you have 11 kids ranging from 4 years old to 17 years old but she coped like a natural. She is actually so good with the kids, firm yet gentle and patient and the kids are already showing trust and respect with her.
After quite awhile the kids got tired of splashing around and came back for cool drink and to dry off. On the way back to the safe house we could not resist to just let them have a little bit more fun and stopped at a local park where the kids got to play on the swings, slide and round-about. Little Beauty was particularly enthralled with the slide-which seemed abnormally high to me- and went sliding down it repeatedly. Even little Toffee got into the “swing” of things and braved its heights and finally slid down it after a bit of nervousness.
My volunteer and Lamla then spent time working on their biceps and triceps pushing the younger ones on the swings while I got to bail out of the hard work by taking photos.
Once again on the drive home-just like the day before- heads started nodding, everything went quiet and the kids started dropping off drained from expending so much energy”
And this is what I do as a volunteer liaison in Knysna…. An insert of one of my days…. My volunteer’s name has been taken out for anonymity
“As it is school holidays in South Africa at the moment, our volunteer knew that her placement at the safe house would be filled with lots of fun with the kids starting from her very first day.
The children all live in the township of Concordia East on the top of the hill above Knysna town so the first order of the day was to decide on what would be the day’s outing. It was decided that a trip to Diepwalle (Deep Walls in English) would be a great and educational outing too. Sandwiches were made for a picnic and fruit, cool drink and chips were bought, a blanket packed and then it was off to the forestry station taking a windy road through the indigenous forests home to the elusive Knysna elephants known to be the most southern free-roaming elephants in the world. On the way we spotted Vervet monkeys sitting on the road that quickly sprang into the tree tops and brought shrieks of laughter from the kids.
Once at the South African National Parks board (Sanparks) forestry station, the kids enjoyed their picnic giving them energy for the rest of the outing. It was then time for a tour of the museum with the guidance of Sanparks employee, Denzil, who explained all about the elephants. Denzil is employed by Sanparks to monitor, track and catch data on the elephants for ongoing research so is quite the elephant expert. As they have a large bull elephant skeleton at the museum, he was able to give the children information and ask them questions using the skeleton as a guideline. Little Tracy even learnt that elephants do not snack on humans when they are hungry-which is pretty much all the time!
A final tour on the history of the woodcutters in the museum ended our time there with the children starting to lose focus and getting fidgety so it was on to the next stop of our outing.
Our next stop was down the road to the big tree which is a really famous Outeniqua Yellowwood found in the forest and estimated at being well over 600 years old. This was followed by a boarded walk through the forest enjoying all the greenery and nature around us and trying to hear the call of monkeys and baboons and sightings of the shy Knysna Loerie-a local bright green bird with red feathers underneath topped with a white crest on its head. It is a bird indigenous to these forests and often seen as a mascot for Knysna. Sadly we had no luck spotting the Loerie or primates.
By this time it was time to head back to the safe house with all the kids dropping off one by one to sleep exhausted from all the food and fun. A true Knysna outing of forests and elephant stories and hopefully one that the kids will have fond memories of for life”