Loves and life on the Garden Route in South Africa

Through the eyes of volunteer coordinator and crazy cat lady, Sharon

My volunteer did some facepainting with some kids in Knysna January 12, 2015

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Lion and a butterfly

Face painting with the kids from the local township and safe house in Knysna in South Africa. All done by my volunteer

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Lion and a princess

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Another butterfly

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Lion and a cat

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Tiger

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Smiling tiger

 

And another outing for the safe house kids with my volunteer in Knysna…

“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.

Getting ready to board...

Getting ready to board…

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.

This is the life

This is the life

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.

Enjoying the experience

Enjoying the experience

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.

Yummy!

Yummy!

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”

 

What I get up to as a volunteer liaison part 2

Once again I have taken my volunteer’s name out for anonymity

Swimming like fishes

Swimming like fishes

“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.

Slide in the sky

Slide in the sky

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”

 

What I get up to as a volunteer liaison…

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.

Kids listening totally enthralled to Sanparks employer Denzil's stories about the Knysna elephants

Kids listening totally enthralled to Sanparks employer Denzil’s stories about the Knysna elephants

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”

 

Oudtshoorn, more Karoo visits September 8, 2014

So on Thursday I have a tour to Oudtshoorn with an overseas volunteer. For those that don’t know about Oudtshoorn, it’s largely regarded as the ostrich capital of South Africa and is a pretty town found in the Karoo with gorgeous old sandstone historic buildings.

I shall be first taking our volunteer to the Cango caves to do the heritage your. I can’t wait to see these natural caves and rock formations in undeniably Africa’s most popular ‘show caves’. The Cango caves have had excavations that prove humans have lived in the entrance dating as far back as the Middle and Later Stone Ages. Africa truly is the home of mankind!

Cango Caves

Obviously an ostrich farm will have to also be on the cards and I’ve decided to take him to the Cango Ostrich Show farm. One thing I will do though is not encourage ostrich riding which I think is not necessary and cruel.

Cango Ostrich Farm

Last but not least is a visit to the Cango Wildlife ranch which is actually an accredited zoo. One of the things they offer is crocodile cage diving! Yes you read that right!

However I will also not encourage any cub petting as I don’t feel that it’s an ethical thing to do to any wild animal. We shall just observe them.

Cango Wildlife Ranch

As the town I live in is a 2 hour drive from Oudtshoorn, I don’t visit there as much as I would like to. I’m really starting to love the Karoo and it’s very unique beauty. Hopefully I will take lots of stunning photos and upload them at a later stage on here.

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Monkey madness! February 5, 2014

Filed under: animals,knysna,Out & about,volunteering,wildlife,youth — shadreyer @ 11:33 am
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Volunteer Jasmine Burford’s experiences while volunteering in Knysna, South Africa

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I’d already had a wonderful experience seeing various species of monkeys at Monkeyworld on my second day of my visit. 

However, there were two more experiences with monkeys (one which I was lucky to capture on camera), and the other which I unfortunately was not there to witness but heard about from our volunteer liaison, Sharon. 

On my first day, I had been warned that there were vervet monkeys very close by which were often seen in the garden and were relaxed around humans, but we were of course advised not to approach them. I had been desperate to see them up close, as I wouldn’t have believed it unless I had seen them. (The whole being in Africa thing still hadn’t sunk in!) But fortunately, I did get to see them. 

I’m not sure what day this was exactly, but we had just returned from somewhere and were bringing…

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The penultimate post!

Volunteer Jasmine Burford’s final days in Knysna South Africa

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I’ve finally made it on to post about  my final days in South Africa, albeit a little later than I intended to!

It is really strange to still be writing and sharing my adventure when it seemed so long ago now. It is really nice to reflect though, as I get to relive the incredible experiences all over again!

Okay, so here goes…

The last two full days of my trip (Tuesday and Wednesday) held some of the most moving experiences of the whole trip for me. After school had finished on the Tuesday, me and the other volunteers went to the local Children’s Home in the township. This is a place I had been really hoping I would get a chance to visit, because I knew how much the children would appreciate people like us, who just wanted to give them some attention and a bit of a distraction…

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