Oh to Travel on Gravel in the Klein Karoo

Road tripping is definitely part of what an adventure travel blogger does. Give me the gravel to travel on and I’m there!

Once again I had to head to the mountain scapes
of the Klein Karoo and we started out our adventure journey just outside the outskirts of Mosselbay.

It’s here you’ll find the sign Herbetsdale, turn right and head towards the small hamlet placed in the folds of the foothills before you wind your way through Cloetes pass. The next stretch of red road follows the Langeberg mountains and guides you gentle towards the great Gourtiz River.

We dance with dust devils, watch the ostriches parade their feathers and hear the “croo croo” of the Blue Cranes while they clump together and feed on what ever the veld has to offer. I take in a deep breath of the dry air, look admirably over the semi arid landscape, it definitely bares its own beauty, this solace playground of earthly tones.

The cross over the Gouritz River is dry, and river bed is packed with thristy stones that hasn’t seen a drop of water for a long while, it reaches out into the stone abyss on both sides and I mesmerizingly stare out and imagine it in flood, it must be quite a magnificent sight. In the meantime it lies and waits patiently for the moisture to arrive.

The next climb is into the mountain section, the reds of Rooiberg. The slatety gravel roads wind towards the small town of Van Wyks Dorp, we skip past it and head to our Olive farm homestead that is laid out on the rocky slopes of this hilly destination and our accommodation for tonight. Later that evening we soaked in the quiet surroundings, lit a fire and cracked open a bottle of wine. This is always soul food, this is escapism at its best.

The new day arrives, Autum delivers another crisp clear morning and the warm light filters its way into every corner of the small stone cottage. Lazily we gather our backpacks and head to the kloof for a morning of exploration between the cliff faces. We follow the trickle of mountain water trailing among the rocks and discover lush green spots hidden far from the rest of the world. Later that morning as we stumbled out of the kloof, hot, sweaty and happy, breathing in the herb filled air of this sun baked land it made us appreciate the magnitude this jagged landscape that has been carved out in time.

A quick shower and a little freshing up is next, our curious wanderlust has not been depleted and it was time to ramble into town…

We headed back to the small “dorpie” of Van Wyks dorp. With the likes of the “Van Wyks dorp mall” and many of the other quirky stops. Indulging in the quaint little shops, sites and galleries the town has to offer, before finding ourselves in a charming little pub called Spekboom with friendly folk and excellent country side hospitality. It was just on the beer o’clock hour and time to quench our thirsts.

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The afternoon cools down as the day light dissipates into another soft sunset over the valley. Tomorrow we will be heading over the mountains and explore new passes, with this in mind, we light another fire, crack open a bottle of wine and soak up the natural beauty of the Karoo boime.

Next day….

Dawn, its time to pack up and go. With the promise of the new days discovery ahead of us we enthusiastically pack, slam a road trip breakfast together and head out. The dust track works its way up the mountain range of the Rooiberg and slowly we climb towards the lookout point of these majestic earth formations. Its alluring curves pleasing the senses of our minds, how awesome.

Eventually we leave the mountain range behind and the flat landscape opens up as we point the nose of our vehicle in the direction of Calitzdorp for a much needed cup of java and a stretch. Next up, the Groenfontein road that edges its way along the Nels River. The scenic route has a lot to offer the day traveller and our stops included a look over the very empty Calitzdorp Dam, a make shift drive inn, Peter Bayly’s wine farm and a taste of the local nectar he produces, the karoo gallery of Robert Young where he captures the emotions of people in his very visual storytelling photos. The meander ended with a journey past the Redstone Hills so elegantly placed among the foothills of Swartberg Mountians in arid Klein Karoo.

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It’s time to get back to the tar road and head home. Exhausted and happy we wind our way back to the cool coastal stretch of the Garden Route. The sun sinks into the west of land and the earth cools down gently.

I’ll be back for more adventures, for there is always a new a discovery to be made on the other side the Outeniqua Mountains and it’s Klein Karoo

Knysna’s Need for Speed

Many would ask..a travel blogger at a motor sport event ? But being a dedicated adventurer and a Garden Route girl, this is part of my many tourism activities in the area and it was time to go and see what the fuss was all about. The first day of arriving at the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb was pretty daunting. Mostly guys, motor journos with huge cameras, the rush of engines revving and you could almost smell the testosterone in the air.

“Ok, I’m here, now what?” My mind queried me. So I do what I always do, I shut down the noise in my head. Slowly, I started moving along the pit lane and watched. Step by step the air of anticipation started to swirl around me , it’s intoxicating, you breath in the fumes of fuel and the energy sizzles in your vains as you feel the trembling mechanics rhythm its way into your body. I suddenly felt alive…

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It took me at least half an hour to even think, never mind touch my camera, as I was absorbing this new found vibe. I obeserved the intensity of each team, facial expressions, hands in every where and the raw mechanics of the metal passion. This is not just racing, this is pure love and I get it.

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The momentum went from inwards to outwards as cars where repositioned from their cosy hubs to the pit lane. The game was on, the time has drawn near for man and machine to come together and give all they got to love of the sport. Engines pitched, rubber spun as each competitor was lined up and fingered a count down, the flag flick flacked once and the world went from a mere moment in time to rush hour in a heart beat. It has begun..

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Each day became a height of excitement and the euphoria of Jaguar Simola Hillclimb was my reality. I took in the moments, felt the rush, craved more with each day and my camera was working over time. Closer, faster, more intensity; was fast becoming part of me. Feeling each car fly by me and the thrill of it’s roar stays behind and lingers like lost caress.

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By the time the weekend wound down and the hype of the wins, losses, broken engines, bruised egos and money spent, I felt like I hit the blues. Drained by the stimulation reaching its peak and of adrenaline slug that was plugged so quickly. It was over…

A fleeting adventure that will stay with me. I still sit and explore my mind of moments on track, the people the spectators and the competitors. I remember the smiles, the conversations and sharing of excitement. As a whole, this is not about a winner, it’s about a culture, a passion and the pleasure it so overwhelmingly delivers. You truely rocked my world. Thank you!!

www.jaguar.co.za

Lipstick & Gears

Life is pretty much about the company you keep and being a girl with an inclination to have a passion for adventure I find myself pretty much in the company of men. However, that has nothing to do with being boyish, as a matter of fact, I love being a girl, I have just inherited a passion for thrill seeking and risk-taking, it is pretty much ingrained in my genes.

Having said that, when I was invited by AKA Tours on the launch of their Motorcycle tour, I hesitated for a while, I have not been on a motorcycle for a good few years, even then that was more like a scooter!! How difficult could it be?? I spent about another 10 minutes thinking about it and then full-heartedly agreed!! Well here we go Rose, I thought to myself.

It was late afternoon when I arrived in Mosselbay and headed to offices of AKA Tours. Greeted by Bert and Jovanka with comforting smiles and warm hospitality. My tummy was doing somersaults though, eish, I thought and took a deep breath, this is going to be interesting. Bert introduced me to AKA 1 a Honda XR190CT adventure bike and even though small it still looked huge to me. With a gentle introduction I was soon on the bike and slowly the engrained grey matter started working , somewhere stored in my memory bank is a bike riding manual. In no time I was zipping around the building corners of the small industrial area. Ok, I was ready… right??

Dawn broke and the grey skies had a promise of a typical drizzly Garden Route morning. Let’s hope it clears. We rigged at AKA Tours HQ. Brian our other riding companion, I met the night before at route briefing, this made us 3 riders and a back up vehicle driven by Jovanka. We kitted up an took off in the direction of Great Brak.. the open road was calling..

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Day 1
Mosselbay to a Hartebeespost Guest House, which was situated on the edge of the Baviaan’s judt outside Uniondale. 252km to go. Our first stop was for breakfast at the Peperboom in Geart Brak, only 25 km down the line, but it was a good intro session for me. I relished in the warm coffee and tasty breakfast this early as it was a wetish morning and the rain still hasn’t disapated completely.

The short break made me a little more at ease with things before hopping back on the bike and heading to George, the countryside swept past us and the air was filled with the smells of farm life, dairy farms, fields with green wheat sprouting and the pepper smell of grass that is so fimiliar to me.

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By the time we hit the first section of 7 passes road between George and Wilderness, the curves became a journey of natural forest and bubbling streams that crossed over yesteryear bridges and it oozed timeless antiquity. Here we stopped to listen to the whispers of time gone by and take in your natural surroundings, even if it was for just a moment.

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We wound our way down to the coastal section of the Garden Route before turning to edge our way along the foothills of the Outeniqua Mountains. This part of the world is filled with forest, farmlands and the odd little stop over. The next 56km felt like a mysterious journey. You can’t help imagining what it must have been like to have build this road, the path the elephants walked. Each section in perfect balance with nature as we swept though this section with ease.

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Knysna, our second stop for the day. The skies have cleared a bit and our visit to the alluring motorcycle room is a welcome break, remenesing through the old machines and reliving my miss spent youth. We snacked and chatted a while before remounting the bikes and headed for the most historical section of the Knysna forest.

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By now I was super excited to actually experience the next section of history on a motorbike, somehow the feel of it was different, more open and more in touch with the outdoors. The beauty fills your being, you slow down and take in the green world around you. It’s here among the trees that most of the areas history was made, it relives in your soul and you can feel it. The return of the soft drizzle was a cool welcoming feeling while we navigated our way to the top of the Prince Alfred’s pass, the end of the days treking was near. We entered the Karoo through the town of Uniondale and a warm breeze with the whiff for Karoo bossie welcomed us to the hardy entrance of the Baviaans. It was time to rest our weary bodies, in my minds eye the days happenings played itself over and over again, overwhelmed by excitement, adrenaline and nostalgia, I smiled to myself before closing my eyes. Today was a great day!!

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Day 2

Waking to the soft light filtering through the window and the sounds of vast plains of the Karoo was a pleasurable moment. I stretched out like a farm cat before leaping out of bed. Coffee was the first thing on my mind. A misty dawn greeted me. What will today hold? Breakfast, kitup and ride was the oder and willingly I mounted the little Honda, come baby lets go and explore!! The spirit of adventure was high and road was calling. Zipping past the sheep farms and open veld only to stop to take in the views of the Karoo dynamics

It was the entering of the Baviaans left my with eerie anticipation. Almost like having something that is untouched in front of you and the burning sensation of reaching out and being the first. It causes havoc with your soul! The steep inclines, sharp corners and stone walled channels engulfs you and you can’t help feeling surrounded by mother earth and all you can do is surrender to its magnificence. Slowly we dropped into the valley while staring at every picturesque elevation that towered above us.

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Our afternoon break was at a place called ” Uitspan“. Being in the company of curious adventurous we went of to explore the kloof, clambering over rocks and satisfiying our wanderlust for nature. With laughter and smiles we discovered the cool wanders of this little hidden gem before feeding our hungry stomachs that by now was threatening suicide. Who new that there were places like these?

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Heading back to the farm house the Karoo sky changed into picturesque landscape of cloudious wonder and we marvelled at it until the promised thunder storm closed in and we were left with glorious rain and lighting display. We gathered round the huge table of our abode and replayed the days expidition with easy conversation and a beer. Tomorrow our adventure ends, but not until we take on the Klein Karoo.

Day 3.

Day breaks with the promise of clear skies and we gear up for the ride. I look back as we leave, saddened by the idea of leaving, but all good things need to end and with the journey home still ahead I focus on our new discoveries ahead of us.

First stop is Uniondale, we refuel the bikes and enjoy the countryside hospitality of a small cafe. The freshly brewed coffee slips down with ease and we are now ready to rock the back roads of Klein Karoo and its ostrich farmers.

We entered via Potjiesberg pass and wound our way through orchards farms. The landscape flattened out and the home of the ostrich became more imminent. Miles of them, running along the fences, racing with us while their odd formed bodies makes it seem like a huge waddle, all while prancing their feathers as if they knew we were looking.

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We reach the hamlet of Herold as we exit the into the Langkloof, a quick tea break is due to wash down the road dust and replenish our souls. Now the Montagu Pass lied ahead, the last of the winding passes of our adventurous excursion. It’s here that riding became a skill for me as it plumited down to the rivers. Not to be outdone by the other alluring roads, this Pass must be the most classical of them all. With its stoned walled edging it offers the most attractive historical ride and once again we are charmed by its old fashioned bridges and road building.

A visit to a rocky stream, a timeless bridge and the old Toll House that was used in times gone by was inevitable. Satisfied by our little explorations we neared the end of the road and made our way back to Mosselbay.

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I parked my motorbike, took in a deep breath of air and savoured the moment. Reluctantly I dismounted the little Honda with utter pride. I’ve done it!! 545km later the euphoria of what just happened over took me and I was in awe. Who ever knew that I would be part of such an epic journey and live to tell the story. It was one hell of a ride and definitely a bucket list adventure…

Thank you African Karoo Adventures for including me in your shared love.

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Tips for riding like a girl.

1. Wear comfy underwear. Yes I mean full briefs

2. Nothing wrong with a bit of zambuk or lip-ice

3. A cotton scarf, it’s cooler than a buff

4. Leave those funky shades at home and opt for lightweight pair.

5. A good pair of hiking boots is wonderful

6. Forget about being stylish. Easy hair ties and Sun cream is the best. Pack light.

7. Comfy T’s are great. It gets hot under that riding gear

8. A good pair of gloves if you have.

9. A cell phone camera is your best friend

10. Lastly enjoy every moment. Be sensible and keep your wits about you

Enjoy the Ride!!

The Water that Became Stone.

It’s 200 million years ago and earth is moving, cracking and shaping its way out of the Pangaea super continent. Slowly but surely water seeps in the earths new crevases, hollowing the soft stone and forming the water filled caves of the earth. But the new mystery lies quietly below for few more million years before the forces of nature rips and tears into her rock formations.

It’s now 4 million years ago and slowly the earths liquid dissipates and leaves the empty cavities exposed to the air for the first time, it’s now that the mineral formations start to grow, graciously turning the dripping water into stone…

The Cango Caves has been known to modern man for a couple century now and as a tourist entering a space that has only been familiar to us in such a short period of time the magnitude barely sinks in.

The mystery of these interlinking chambers of limestone and dolomite has left us wondering about these hollow spaces ever since. It holds some of the most spectacular limestone dripping formations and crystals known to mankind.

South Africa’s numerous limestone and dolomite areas was suitable for what is called karst development, which is a topography formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone, dolomite, and gypsum and is characterized by underground drainage systems with sinkholes and caves.

Dripstone Caverns
These ancient rocks are among the oldest known on Earth and the Precambrian rocks of South Africa are the oldest formation of this considerable size. Imagine that!!

Our very own Cango Caves is edged deep underground in the Swartberg Mountian folds and is most likely the best explored karst and our premier cave in South Africa. It’s also known as the longest cave formation of its kind.

Undiscovered by humans the cave was occupied animals only until about 10,000 years ago before it was discovered by the Khoisan which used the entrance area as a shelter. It seems that they didn’t explore deeper into the cave as it was said that the believes were that the place was filled with spirits and other unknown dwellers.

But today we are privileged to be able to simply get into our vehicles and drive to these magnificent stuctures, buy a ticket and glimpse into a world that we merely see a tiny millisecond of. Take some time to absorb the space that you move in and let your guide whisper a few secrets of it past.

For more information visit:

www.cangocaves.co.za

Hints and tips:

1. Wear comfort shoes

2. Take a camera of cell phone for pictures

3. Watch the video in the room on the 2nd floor.

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”

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
Book a romantic weekend
www.exploreknysna.com
#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!!