The love and legend of the Pansy Shell

It has been told that there once was a young sailor that tried to sail across the vast ocean alone. On his crossing he encountered a storm and feared for his life after the boat capsized and found himself drifting alone. Eventually he lost consciousness and it seemed that death was imminent. The young man woke the next morning on a beach of golden sand with the voice of what sounded like an angel in the distance. The first thing he noticed was the pansy shells lying next to his side, gently picking up the delicate form and staring at it wonder. He then raised his head towards the horizon just to see the most beautiful form of what seemed like a woman, with long flowing hair and features that were human but also fierce. She disappeared under the surface of the blue ocean only to return each morning with a gift from the sea. She never came near enough for him to encounter and she would simply slip away into the waters if he approached. He stayed on the small island until rescued by a passing ship and left the island almost broken hearted with only the small pansy to remind him of her…
Once upon the shores of his own country he would often wander along the beach and low and behold there was always a pansy shell waiting for him somewhere. So if you pick up this beautiful shell, know that there is love out there looking for you.
Written by Travelbug Rose Blogger
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#Knysna #gardenroute #meetsouthafrica

The Sphinx of Sedgefield

The 1km stretch to Gericke’s Point

Not only are these impressive fossilized dunes South Africa’s highest vegetated fossil dunes but they are the most remarkable looking rockscapes in Southern Africa as they jagged their way along the Garden Route, stretching between the Kaaimans and Brenton on Sea.

The stretch from Wilderness to Gericke’s Point

Gericke’s Point or the “Sphinx” as it’s known to us, is situated in Sedgefield and the striking accumulation of solidified sand stretches into the ocean to create an intricate reef structure with rock pools and sharp ridge protrusions where many a fishermen or spear fishermen bide their time waiting patiently for the most impressive catch of the day to pass through.

Many a rock pool has been formed by these jagged edged formations

It’s here you’ll find the beach amblers lazily meandering their way along this stretch of rock and sand, at low tide, to fill their curiosity, day dream or just escape the pressures of life and breathe in the salty air of the Indian Ocean as it works its way to shore.

Looking back towards Sedgefield and Swartvlei beach

To the right of the Sphinx formation is a surfing spot frequented by the odd surfer that walks the mere 1km stretch from Swartvlei beach to catch that special breaker pushing its way to the rugged shore line.

Here they play among the wild and untamed watery ways of the sea just for the exceptional moment of catching the ultimate wave that will give them the thrilling adventure they have been waiting for all day.

I watch as they bob, paddle, surf and tumble in the unruly ocean waters just to do it all over again. In between they are visited by the odd local water dwellers that zip past or hang for a while.

These creatures are as entertaining as the rubberized board sitters and way more advanced in ocean manoeuvres and you can’t help giggling at the ease of their gliding motions as they pass the splashing arms and legs of their land counterparts.

But in the end they have to part ways and the human sapiens have to leave behind the rolling and tumbling of the right point break and head back to the earthy soil and familiar ground.

Strolling back to the car park I cross more rock pools reflecting the cloudy sky of the the Southern Cape in the late afternoon, I look back and admire a few more impressive looking rocks before leaving behind the rusty looking Sphinx and its ocean mysteries only to return on another day.

#Sedgefield #gardenroute #meetsouthafrica

www.exploreknysna.com

Lotus weavers of Cambodia

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bb3RRAYhhCO/ While in Siem Reap, Cambodia on a cycling outing one day I came across this little spot. I was aware that the weaving of silk is a popular practice here, but I had no idea that they wove this chamie like fabrics our of the stems of the Lotus flowers.

Altought I was near the Tonlé Sap lake the Lotus fiber weaving takes place in Cambodia on the spectacular giant lake of Kamping Poy near Battambang.

It’s here, they farm all during the year from generation to generation in order to extract and sell the seeds.

The Lotus (nelumbo nucifer) is on a aquatic perennial which spreads for thousand hectares in Cambodia. The pink and white flowers are sacred in certain parts of Asia and you can see why.

Their beauty is delicate and seems to be almost porcelain from a distance. This timeless tradition comes from Burma and was brought to Cambodia by Samatoa in 2009 and they developed the unique handmade process in order to make an exclusive fabric which could be commercialised and create many jobs in Cambodia.

The Samatoa then trained and educated underprivileged women living around the spectacular lotus lake of Kamping Poy near Battambang in Cambodia to relieve poverty after the rule of the Khmer Rouge.

The lotus fabric is 100% ecological, natural and renewable and just absolutely exquist.

Find out more Lotus Farm

Insta My Knysna

Do I love where I live, absolutely!! The Knysna Region has so many facets.
It consists of oceans bliss, stretches of beach, vast lakes, country lifestyle, indigenous forests, rich culture, artisan foods and crazy adventures.
Take a walk with me into a world that has more to offer than the average place.

The Red bridge in Knysna This was the third bridge to span the Knysna River. It is situated further upstream on better founding conditions, as the previous bridge had been washed away in a flood in 1916. Designed by the PWD, this bridge is completely different in design to the earlier bridges with only two, long, 46m spans so as to prevent a recurrence of pier damage by flood debris. Construction of the foundations started in 1918 with the steelwork for the two riveted deck trusses, made in England, arriving by ship in 1922. The completed bridge, with a 3m wide roadway, was opened on 1 May 1923. It was succeeded in 1955 by the wider, concrete (White) bridge situated further downstream, but remained in use by local traffic until 1973. It was completely refurbished in 2014. www.exploreknysna.com #exploreknysna #gardenroute #HowzitSouthAfrica @instagram_sa

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For the love of the Garden Route

I have recently been asked what my favourite place in South Africa is to visit and why? It was easily answered; “The Garden Route of course”.

This might sound like cheating but living in the Garden Route of South Africa is an absolute privilege and I am constantly encouraging people to visit my alluring piece of Utopia.

Why do I love it so much. It’s simple really, from the long white beaches that strectches for miles, so much so that sometimes you never see another person, to the huge indigenous forest on the foothold of the mountain ranges that frames our coastline, the Garden Route offers more natural beauty and tranquillity than most destinations I have been to.

You have to go far to see the perfect sunset or sunrise, but not me, a mere walk to the end of the road were I live does that, not to mention the view points, water edges and bird hides, all waiting for you to capture that flawless moment when the sun merges with your horizon. Its not difficult to become a visual story teller as my life in pictures unfolds infront of me, everyday.

For the adventurous explorer in me, this is truly the natural playground I have been looking for and there is more often than not a leisurely hike, a forest or beach walk, a paddle on the river, an ocean excursion or a paragliding flight involved in my daily life.

Out there is fresh air to breathe, a place to clear your mind, to surrender yourself to nature and what she has to offer, all while taking in a new discovery everyday, yes everyday, for once you get take a deeper look, the magic starts happening.

Garden Route, You ask? Not only is it the greenest part of South Africa and constantly looks like an over grown garden but it has a foodie aspect too and almost every thing we savour comes from the coffers of our farmlands and oceans as our reputation for the food basket of South Africa is slowly proceeding us.

It’s here among the mountains that we grow, pick and harvest most of what we eat and quence our thrist with crafted drinks, from “Karrie” to craft beer. And many an artisan of food can be found in our farmers markets, farmstalls and earthy slow food restaurants.

A Saturday morning outing to the Wild Oats, Outeniqua or Harkerville Market is the shopping experience in my world of food and the odd baker, honey producer, mushroom picker, herb grower and the other plant and pluckers do the rest.

With this I invite you to step into my world. A place that has the most moderate climate on earth and indulge in its splendour and extraordinary resources and when you leave our shores, mountains and countryside, you will do so with a smile, only wishing to return….

Wilderness Accommodation

Explore Knysna Accommodation

The Pursuit of Wind and Water

The ocean has a way of inviting the adventurous, the risk taker and the adrenaline junkie. It pulls them in and moulds them into the sports freaks of the sea.

Some sail, some paddle some even venture into the depths, but the kite surfers expose themselves to the elements of water and wind. They bare their bodies to become the vessels, attach themselves to a kite sail and uses the forces to drive them.

You watch these mobile water adventurers as they sweep around waves and skim over the surface of this vast body of water we call the ocean and which in itself isn’t a kind force, dancing with the wind and mocking it with the glee on their faces.

Once done, they emerge from the ocean like little Neptune figures, dripping with the salty remains of the blue planet, smile endearingly at each other as they share their watery passion and there they will return!!

On foot in the Garden Route – Jubilee Creek

I often speak about hiking in the Garden Route, mostly because it is one of the most picturesque places to hike in. Day rambles, or even a couple of hours are quite doable in the area, just pop into a SANParks Office and collect a brochure of the region, it’s that simple. The walk I do most is Jubilee Creek, as it is my absolute favourite and more often than not I find myself wandering with a camera in hand and inspecting the trees, ferns and other little features the forest has to offer. The calming effect of this wandering about seems to clear your head and your mind seems less busy in these dense green spaces. Besides that, I indulge in the fresh air and drink water from the coca cola coloured streams along the way. The treat under foot on the soft rich earth always seem to smell the best in the early mornings and the leaves the greeneries glisten with pearl drops of moister captured in the breaking dawn. The Black Witch Hazel gathers and stores most of this moisture and they seem to burst of liveliness as they slowly disperse their fluid onto the forest floor the feed the roots of the trees and other plants in need of water. Not only is Jubilee Creek a beautiful forest hike but it is filled with history of a bit more than a century and a half ago. Reminiscence of the gold mining era can be witnessed along the way and you can’t help wondering what happened here in the forest all those year ago, but in time the forest has reclaimed its earth and filled it with a wealth of its own. The path cuts into the forest along a creek and the constant bubbling of water and birds are the only sounds that can be heard in and among the shrubs and branches. The 2.4 km section of the Outeniqua Hiking Trail ends up near a forest waterfall where you can cool down and relax for a while. Often, we remove our shoes and plonk our feet in the crisp cool water of this pool while admiring the surroundings of indigenous trees and lush ferns. The route doubles up on itself and you usually see things in a slightly different way when heading back. The sun breaking through the trees scattering its rays about the timber and florae is a feature that only the forest knows how to do well. The hike ends at a picnic spot next to the creek and is perfect if you wish to stay and indulge a bit longer in the forest environment. So next time you are out and about in Knysna head to Bibby’s Hoek on the foot hold of the Outeniqua Mountains for and exploration into the Goudveld Forest and discover why this area is loved so much and why many of the mysteries of the region are located here among the trees.

Part 1 – To “Hell” with a Donkey and a Pack

“The Red Stones hills of the Swartberg”
Groenfontein Farming

Every now and then I get asked to go on an adventure and I might add that they are normally a day out and about experiencing a path, a tree, a flight, a zip line or something like that, but nothing prepared me for this one! I am chuckling as I say
this as I never thought I would be this crazy. Unfit, still recovering from breaking my leg last year in a paragliding accident and under no circumstances prepared to hike at all, I agreed to do the Donkey Trail….oops?!?

But opportunities like this are few and far between that missing out on this one would just be bizarre. To top it all, I invited one of my best friends along to join me. “Hi Glenda, bring a backpack, a few warm items and hiking shoes, we are doing this trail into the Swartberg mountain range, it will be fun…” And with complete trust, she agreed.

We met up in Mossel Bay and then meandered our way through the back roads of the Klein Karoo. Our destination, Living Waters, is situated near a little dorpie called Calitzdorp. The dirt road that runs between there and Oudtshoorn is quite a spectacular little track and we romantically gazed upon Red Stone Hills, well-kept farms, old cottages and small communities of waving locals. Historically the Klein Karoo is a rather interesting place and we discussed the wealth created by ostrich feather industry, the Boer war and roosterkoek as we bided our time travelling along the dusty track.

Nearing the home of the Donkey Trail, that is neatly nestled in the Groenfontein valley on the foothold of the Swartberg Mountains, we found ourselves bouncing along a farm road that eventually led us to the old but restored country home of Erika, we had arrived.

Cottages
“The farm is filled with original Karoo cottage”

It was with an abundance of energy that a young man greeted us, with”Hello, are you Rose?” as he skipped down the stairs. “My name’s Andrew” said the tanned open-faced young gentleman in front of me. “Let me show you to your cottage, it’s John’s Cottage, further down the road” The cottage seems to slant as it is placed on the side of a hill overlooking the valley. The soft evening air of the Karoo greeted us on the small stoep. We took a moment to observe the view before listening intently to Andrew’s packing instructions in preparation for the next days’ travels. Glenda and I sifted through our luggage to find the perfect items to add to our day packs, adding water bottles, cameras and an overnight change of clothing for our stay in the mountains.

These tedious head-scratching decisions built up a thirst and we dropped everything and headed back to the Country Homestead for our briefing, a wise decision! Barging in through the kitchen door and eager to meet up with Erika and the rest of our party I happily received my first glass of wine and just relaxed with some chitter chatter in front of the fireplace, there seemed to be a buzz of excitement as we got to know our fellow hikers while lounging in the comfortable sofas.

A coal stove
“The Hearth’

Erika carefully outlined the hike and the rules and regulations of the area. There was that feeling of apprehension again as I realised that I have not done any fitness training for a while. I took a deep breath of air and looked around for some reassurance from the team travelling with us, and there seemed to be a comfortable air about, so I made a conscious decision that this would be one damn thing that I would definitely complete, no matter what! Later that evening, while munching away on the deliciously cooked dinner prepared by Johan, I realised that although I might crawl up a mountain at least I wouldn’t go hungry, hallelujah!

Dinner
“Farm style cooking”

Our mellow Karoo evening ended up in laughter as we were challenged to try and squeeze a note out of a Kudu horn. Instruments are definitely not my forte but making an ass out of myself obviously is, this I know now as the evening ended on a “High Note”! Still giggling Glenda and I headed back to our cottage later that evening leaving behind warm good night wishes and lingering smiles. I silently looked up at that mountain lurking in the distance and wondered “How the hell I am I going to get over that…?”

Ready to go
“Ready to take on the trail”

Morning broke, and we made a few last decisions about gear. A chill in the air had persisted through the night and we wrapped up warmly prior to making our way back to the homestead for breakfast. Nibbling on some fruit and dousing the inside of our bodies with warm coffee seemed to be in order before it was time to aim for the donkey kraal.

Buddy
“Each Donkey has his or her personal gear”

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I was eternally grateful to be relieved of the extra load by our long-eared companions Buddy and Zuma and I watched as they patiently stood their ground while being rigged for the long journey. The start kinda lingered in the air for a bit before Erika addressed us one last time and then reassuringly ended with: “Go to Hell” and we did…

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An interesting fact is that this trail is not a new one but one that has been journeyed by many residents from Gamkaskloof renamed the “Hell” after a stock inspector, Piet Botha entered it via the steep pass known as “die Leer” from the western side, he described it as being like Hell to get into the Kloof and the name stuck. The Donkey Trail was the re-opening of the earliest path used until 1962 when the first road was built into the Gamkaskloof. Many went via this path to trade goods, visit friends and family and even to go to school.

Fauna & Flora details
” Discussing the fauna & flora of the mountain region”

Whilst looking up I couldn’t help but have an overwhelming feeling of respect. Life is a breeze in comparison to back then, with this in mind I put my head down and started my climb of 15km up the second highest mountain in South Africa.

The rock-strewn outcrops of the mountain presented an interesting biosphere of plants, insects and animals and every now and then Andrew stopped and pointed out some of the finer details.

Donkey Rest
“The pace of the Donkey is an important aspect of the hike”
Resting and repacking
“Resting and readjusting the packs”
view over the valley
“The view while climbing the Swartberg Mountain”

The journey was a slow easy one with the slowest person, or Donkey, depending on the moment, setting the pace. The first 3 Hours of the trail was mostly a zig-zag climb up the side of the mountain before heading into a single track path, it then plummets into a gorge, this is where we dislodged our packs and enjoyed the cool spring water, lunch and a breather. The break presented exciting chatter about the landscape and I typically wondered how many souls have passed through it before us?

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Do not be mistaken, if I could hike this path backwards I would, as the views are breathtaking and you cannot help but stop and stare at the magnitude of mother nature and her endless panoramic beauty.

Donkey treats
“Donkey treats”

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During the final hours of the journey, we started to climb, yet again, over the curved escarpment. This led us onto a gentle steady slope before edging the dragons back up into the so-called teacup of the mountain saddle. It was tough and the constant climbing and fatigue of the day had set in, but one foot in front of the other gets you there. By now I was at the back of the pack and with guide Joel by my side we edged out the last of the mountain side step by step.

Dragons Back
“The final approach, into the teacup of the saddle”
trekking
“Looking back over the valley at my guide Joel before the final climb”

Bursting with joy that was mingled with exhaustion I reached the top, the smile on my face must have been the broadest it’s ever been, I made it! “Welcome to the top of the second highest mountain in South Africa”: said Andrew and put out his hand for me to shake it. “I don’t shake hands, but a kiss on the cheek will be fabulous thank you” I blurted out. We all laughed and made our way to the waiting others.

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It took us another 30 minutes before we reached base camp and the chill factor in the wind hadn’t changed much since we left that morning. I was convinced by now that it snowed the day before, the horizon was slowly sucking up the sunlight and we had to move briskly towards our camp and really was looking forward to exchanging my water bottle for a cup of coffee.

Moving tenaciously along the sunlit grassland I noticed the gentle change of the biosphere in our elevation, we were are surrounded by Pin Cushion Proteas and the Sugar Birds chirped out their screechy songs as they indulged in the nectar of these beautiful African flowers.

To the Camp
” Heading to the Camp, the last stretch “

It’s so gorgeous up there and it made the last footpath to camp a pleasure. The sight of a freshwater stream, tents poised on the rocky outcropped slopes and bustling camp sure was a welcoming sight. Sebastian handed me a cup of coffee and it was time to relax. My hands enfolded the rustic cup which I quickly brought to my lips and I literally let the warm liquid slide down my throat, this was pure bliss.20170926180110-01

Basecamp consisted of 4 parts; A Kitchen tent with an outlook, meal tent, sleeping tents and an outhouse with a view. This is all positioned within the angles of the rocky slopes and is accompanied by a cool mountain stream of crystal clear water which runs along the camp site. This cool source of water is used for drinking & swimming, but very much excluded swimming that night!

Camp site
“Our Camp in the rocky outcrops”

The sun set, the chill factor increased, it was a quick bird bath for us out of the small basin filled with hot water to wash off the excess sweat and clean the smelly bits, we splish-splashed our way with minimalistic effort and slipped into our warm gear. It felt good and we headed to the kitchen tent for supper.

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“Our little outhouse with a view”

With slight amusement I stared at the yummy warm pasta called “Pasta ala Boer” it was just the perfect way to end the day, hungry I wolfed down my food and the worms in my stomach clapped and cheered with each mouth full. I managed to wangle one more cup of java before being given a hot water bottle and sent to bed. We closed ourselves up between the four canvas walls of our tent and wriggled into our sleeping bags for a good night’s rest. The wind restlessly worked its way around our tent, pulling at the corners like a naughty child, noisily howling for all to hear, but we were safe and I closed my eyes and let the warmth seep into my bones, tomorrow will bring another day…

The Hell is waiting
“The view towards the valley called Hell”

to be continued…..

For more info please visit www.donkeytrail.com

or visit their Facebook Page The Donkey Trail
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Sky Hanging in the Garden Route

The crisp fabric falls onto the sandy area of the Kleinkrantz dune, with care I lay out my glider, turn my face into the wind once more to get the feel of the air. A slight nervousness niggles somewhere deep inside. I take a deep breath and bring the glider to life, it hovers over me like a buzzard on the hunt, active and reactive.. I turn and face the edge of the sand dune, everything becomes still and focused. There is always a certain calmness before take off and within a few steps I’m airborne. A sharp left turn towards the dunes, I find the much needed lift of the cool updrafts and the elevation is almost immediate. A few more turns into the wind, zig zag, zig zag and up.

The long stretch of beach cliffs lies ahead, I wriggle in my harness to get comfortable, check everything, hook my speed bar over my foot and slowly let the flight begin…

#Wilderness #SouthAfrica #GardenRoute

Learn to fly

Sisal in the hands of a Crafter

You come across the most fascinating treasures in life sometimes. Today I met this gentleman at Timberlake Village in Wilderness South Africa His name is Raphael, he is a crafter that normally uses wood as his medium but this all changed when he met Gerhard Schoonsraad in 2013.

Together they developed and grew this captivating craftsmen ship with a plant, that is not indigenous to South Africa but seems to have thrived here on South African soil.

Sisal as it is commonly known, with the botanical name Agave Sisalana and is a species of Agave native to southern Mexico but widely cultivated and naturalized in many other countries. It yields a stiff fibre used in making various products.

This woody herb with a rosette of thick fleshy spiny leaves that are shaped like a sword, measuring up to 2 metres long.
It is this hardly plant that Raphael unearths and brings to life in shapes of wooded beauty. He travels the length and breadth of South Africa to remove them, bring them back to his workshop and transform them into existence.

This amusing creations has been sold world wide and he produces hundreds of them for international orders. George passed in a tragic accident a little while ago and the business was bought by a gentleman named Bevan van Druten that owns Driftwood Sculptures. Together they continue to make, display, exhibit their creations to the world.


So when you need a home craft with a difference, do visit him on the N2 near Wilderness, Western Cape