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Spanafrican Adventures's Blog

The latest news on Spanafrican Adventures operations

2017 Poorts and Passes: George to Patensie Cycle Tour

2017 Poorts and Passes: George to Patensie Cycle Tour

Our friend Julia Colvin is organising a cycle tour. We are going to joing her. Why don't you join us too?

12 day self-supported cycle tour through the magical Karoo and Baviaanskloof worldheritage site

Inclusive of meals, transfers, escort through the reserve, and comfortable accommodation

50-94km cycling per day on carefully selected routes through a unique and inaccessible region of South Africa

October 21st - November 1st

R9,300pp

Contact Julia Colvin on 0768190615 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

www.facebook.com/PoortsandPasses/

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2016 Poorts & Passes Cycle Tour by Julia Colvin

2016 Poorts & Passes Cycle Tour by Julia Colvin

Text and pictures by Julia Colvin, tour organiser

Encompassing some of the most scenic parts of the country, this 600km, 12-day cycle tour is an absolute gem to suit your pocket and thirst for adventure. Staying in comfortable accommodation with hot showers and great food, this tour is a perfect blend of history, culture and wilderness

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2016 Poorts & Passes cycle tour by Jonathan Invernizzi

2016 Poorts & Passes cycle tour by Jonathan Invernizzi

​Writing a pictures by Jonathan Invernizzi. 2016 participant

The Karoo, a place I had first visited together with my family as a child, has always held a special place in my heart. A land of vastness, of sweet and succulent lamb and even sweeter jerepigo, of stark beauty, mysticism, colourful characters and star-filled night skies. Something I've long come to realise is a visit here is never one to be rushed. So when my girlfriend, Julia, suggested that I come along on a cycle tour through the Karoo and Baviaanskloof (an area I hadn't visited yet), I jumped at the chance. What better way to enjoy the Karoo than by the slow immersive meander that only bicycles can provide? My enthusiasm was tempered slightly when she went on to explain that this was going to be somewhat more of a working holiday. My duties were to include sharing the driving of the back-up vehicle, mechanical support for the bicycles and chef for some of the evening's meals among other tasks. No free ride for me it seemed…

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Hiking in the Drakensberg on Video

Hiking in the Drakensberg on Video


Hiking in the Drakensberg Mountains with Spanafrican Adventures

For the last 10 years I have extensively been hiking in the Drakensberg Mountains. To commemorate it I put together this 11-minute clip which, I hope, captures why I love the Drakensberg so much. Enjoy!

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2016 Cycle Tour in Mongolia

 

A campsite with a view.

Writing and pictures by Charles Hughes, 2016 participant.

Going to bed with the sound of rain hammering down on my (not very watertight) tent, was rather depressing, but not nearly as bad as waking up, in my now damp sleeping bag, to the sound of even heavier rain still pounding down on the flimsy structure. I tried comforting myself with the thought that a tent always makes the rain sound worse than it actually is, but still, I was disappointed that our last riding day in Mongolia looked to a wet, cold and muddy affair.

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A 3-day hike in the Little Berg - Amira, Sook Leen and Hermina - March 2012

A typical scene in the Little Berg with the ever-present layer of Clarens Sandstone


One of the perks of working as a mountain guide is that you meet lots of interesting people. Amira from Algeria, Sook Leen from Malaysia and Hermina from Romania, are all now living and working in London. They met eight years ago when they started working in banking and have lived there ever since. They came to South Africa for a wedding but also took the opportunity to see more than just Franschhoek. Amira, being the most adventurous of the three, convinced Sook Leen and Hermina to join her for a hike in the Drakensberg. It was out of their comfort zone but a very enjoyable experience, it seemed.

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Pondo-Pedal – A Wild Coast Ride from Port Edward to Mtentu

A piece of paradise


A few weeks ago we joined our friends from Active Escapes for a ride along the Wild Coast. The Wild Coast is an incredible 300km stretch of virtually pristine coastline from Port Edward to East London. I usually guide their Wild Ride mountain bike tour in the Wild Coast which runs from Kei Mouth to Port St John’s, a 200km ride of sheer fun and fatigue. However I had never visited this northern part of the coast.

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Amphitheatre Heritage Hike - Bernhard and Christine - February 2012

Bernhard and Christine with the iconic Amphitheatre


Bernhard and Christine from Cologne in Germany had hiked to Zulu Cave with me in February last year. They enjoyed their trip so much that they came for a second trip this February. I was once again happy to assist them with another hike. On their last visit they have only experienced the berg from the foothills so it seemed appropriate to share the experience of having a bird’s eye view of this incredible mountain range from the top of the escarpment. The easiest way to do this is by hiking to the top of the Amphitheatre from the Sentinel Car Park via the famous Chain Ladder.

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Giant’s Castle with Markus and Christiana – February 2012

Markus and Christiana from Munich with Giant's Castle


Giant’s Castle, the easternmost point on the Natal escarpment, is a prominent peak in the Drakensberg. 3314m above sea level it is the 10th highest point in South Africa and can be ‘easily’ climbed on foot via the Giant’s Castle Pass, its head being only 2km from the summit.

While researching for their 3-week holiday in South Africa, Markus and Christiana from Munich had read about the Giants Castle in the Drakensberg Mountains, and decided to start their journey with a hike in the area.

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Mafadi with Bradley, Ruan, Peter and Donovan - January 2012

The escarpment illuminated by the first beams of sunlight

The first hike in 2012 was Mafadi, our most popular hike in the Berg. Bradley, Ruan, Peter and Donovan, 4 fun-loving law students from Pretoria, made up a super vibrant party. It was their first trip to the escarpment so this was a great adventure for them, a great way to charge batteries before the start of their final year at university.

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New Year's Eve at Tarn Cave - December 2011

 
Tarn Cave is big and deep overhang in the Clarens sandstone with fantastic 180-degree views.


Finally, this year I had the opportunity to spend a New Year’s Eve in the Drakensberg. Our friend James Voortman had scheduled a combined meet for the Mountain Club of South Africa and the Mountain Backpackers hiking club of Durban, and invited us to join them. Tarn cave, one of the finest natural shelters in the whole range, was the chosen venue. Located in the Bushman’s Nek Area in the southern Drakensberg, a 10km moderate walk from the main camp, this deep overhang in the Clarens sandstone has great vast panoramic views all the way from the Devil’s Knuckles to the Garden Castle.

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A 3 day hike in the Cathedral Peak Area - December 2011

The long steep climb to Cleft Peak


Sue and Roger are ones of the many South Africans living in the UK. Christmas is always a good time to come back home for a family holiday, recharge and take a break from the long, cold, rainy English winter. For them, a few days hiking in the Drakensberg at the start of their holiday was the quickest way to switch off from the busy city life.

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An Afro-Italian hike to Mafadi - November 2011

The party on the escarpment. From left to right: Simona, Tank, Valerio and  Elna.


A few months had elapsed since my last visit to the High Berg so I was really excited to this hike. This time the party was made up of Valerio and Simona from Italy and Elna and Tank from Pretoria, a nice Afro-Italian mix. This was my 6th hike to Mafadi in 2011 but, no matter how many times you hike in the Drakensberg, it is always a different and inspirational experience.

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Zulu Cave - Greg and Michelle - October 2011

Greg and Michelle with Sterkhorn


After a 2-month ‘break’ running our cycling tours in the Indian Himalayas, I was happy to be back in the mountains I love so much. American siblings Greg and Michelle were looking for an overnight hike that would allow them to experience the real wilderness of the Drakensberg. Zulu Cave is one of those overnight spots that are close enough from camp to make it easily accessible in a day, but far enough to feel remote.

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From Mafadi to a hike in the Little Berg - August 2011

Sunrise from our campsite at the bottom of Leslie’s Pass, in the morning of the 3rd day.

It was the beginning of August and this was to be our last hike of the long cold winter of 2011. A few cold fronts had swept across the Drakensberg so I was expecting the passes and the escarpment to be partially, if not fully, covered in snow. For this reason my plan was to do the route the opposite way around: up Leslie’s Pass and down Judge’s Pass. This way, most of the route to Mafadi would be on the warmer northern slopes where the snow melts quicker. Once on top, if the colder southern slopes on the other side of Mafadi carried too much snow, we could always retrace out steps and go back down the same way. In the end, things didn’t go according to the plan but this still ended up being a great hike in the Little Berg.

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Mafadi with Gilly and Mark - July 2011

Brilliant picture on top of Mafadi. You can tell it was “quite” chilly.


UK-based Gilly and Mark had decided to spend their honeymoon in South Africa, Gilly’s mother’s country of origin. Being outdoor enthusiasts they had planned a very active holiday, including some good challenging hiking in the Drakensberg.

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Mafadi Trek with Charly and Charlie - July 2011

Cathkin peak and its other companions just before dark.


Charly from Belgium was coming to South Africa to take part in the Big Five Marathon in the Entabeni Game Reserve. But he wanted to take the challenge a little further and hike to SA’s highest peak a few days after the marathon. He admitted it would have been better if he had had a few more days rest in between. He had done Kilimanjaro by 3 different routes and according to him that was a child’s play in comparison with Mafadi.

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A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011


Once on top we were surprised to see that the Berg was mostly covered in snow, especially on the southern slopes.


This year winter arrived early and in full force. At the beginning of June, a powerful cold front coming from the south west left the whole High Berg covered in snow, a beautiful wintry sight like I hadn’t seen in years. However, I was hoping that most of the snow would be melt for my next hike in 2 weeks time. It wasn’t going to be.

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Mountain rescue practice with the Mountain Club of South Africa - June 2011

MCSA rescue team members keeping low waiting to be hoisted up the helicopter.


All search & rescue operations in Kwazulu-Natal are lead by the KZN section of the Mountain Club of South Africa (MCSA) in conjunction with the provincial Emergency Rescue Medical Services (EMRS), the South African Polices Services (SAPS) and the South African Air Forces (SAAF)). The MCSA rescue team are all volunteers who regularly attend rescue sessions, cliff practices and helicopter practices.


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Vaalribbokkop and Zulu Caves, a hike with friends - June 2011

Not a bad spot for lunch, is it? It was a spectacular day.


Even though I have been spending lots of time hiking in the Drakensberg lately as a mountain guide, I was looking forward to sharing the Berg with some of my friends, just for the sheer love of it. Without the weight of responsibility I could relax and admire the mountains I love so much.

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