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Spanafrican Adventures's Blog

The latest news on Spanafrican Adventures operations.

CapeStorm talk: Cycling the Highest Roads in the World 24/02 - A fundraiser for Funda Nenja


Funda Nenja -literally translates from isiZulu as 'learning with the dog'. Every Friday afternoon about 10 volunteers and 65 dogs with their handlers gather in Mphopomeni township to share interspecies and multicultural communication. The vision of 'Funda Nenja' is to develop respect and compassion for all living things by promoting a bond with a dog, using dog training as a vehicle. Education on animal welfare, the need for sterilization, humane handling of animals, as well as kind, gentle dog training methods are included in the weekly classes. The dog handlers learn the need for self-discipline, commitment, responsibility which, in the long run, develops personal growth and self-worth. The dogs learn that interacting with humans can be fun and rewarding, resulting in increased confidence and happier dispositions. Every dog that takes part in the program is fitted with a collar and lead, and the handler is given training treats, both for the afternoon lesson as well as for training at home during the forthcoming week. Most weeks, however, numerous dogs and their owners are reluctantly turned away as there are never enough resources available for all.

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Himalayan Tours 2011

The first 50km pass up Rhotang to 4000m

Due to the popularity of the Himalayan cycle tours we led last year, we are running 2 more in 2011 to 'Cycle the Highest Roads in the World' in the Himalayas of Kashmir in Aug and Sept.


This 17 day high himalayan experience will take you through the most spectacular landscapes of Ladakh crossing passes over 5000m.


The cost is ZAR 13,100 (includes all accom, transfer, jeep support and meal expenses except your flights around R7000.

Trip dates are as follows (JHB- Delhi- Manali- Leh Rtn):


Trip 1: July 31st – August 16th
Trip 2: August 21st – September 6th

Spaces are filling up ! Feel free to forward this info to anyone that might be interested. Also see earlier blog posts.

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First time riders

Timi, just freshly one day out of school, kitted up on her 2nd hand Trek, 2nd hand panniers (from my first Asian trip)

 

Most school leavers in SA head off for a week of drunken debauchery at the seaside town of Ballito or Margate. Not Timia. Just yesterday she finished her final exam of her school career and today at 5:30 am together with friends Keegan and Daniel, they set off on an pedal powered adventure to Cape Town. A trip that will no doubt have a profound impact on the way they see the world from now on, well at least that is how it was for me.  With a hodge-podge of second hand and make-shift panniers, I was impressed by their half empty bags indicative of a minimalist approach . I admire the courage and spirit of Timia, even more so that she only started to ride about 2mths ago.  She set herself a challenge and she's stuck to her plan, still leaving Howick as planned, even though it was a drizzly damp summer day. I joined them for the first 45min and was very tempted to just keep going...

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The Hima-lasting days

The Chandrabhagga range from the Kunzum-la pass

The Chandrabhagga range from the Kunzum-la pass

The Indian Himalayas are indeed a spectacle, each day has been filled with impossibly beautiful landscapes that always seemed to get better.  We covered just over 2500km crossing 12 passes, 4 of which were over 5000m.

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Zanskar, the last outpost of Ladakh

Our first view of Nun, one of the 7000m  giants of the Kashmiri Himalayas
Our first view of Nun, one of the 7000m giants of the Kashmiri Himalayas
 
Zanskar valley, one of the more isolated and remote areas of Ladakh that has retained much of the Ladakhi (Zanskari) tradition. We cycled amoungst the giants of the Indian Himalayas - Nun and Kun (over 7000m) and alongside the snouts of giant glaciers. Stunning vibrant crimson and yellow high altitude sedges lined the way, while munchkin marmots were at play. A lonely chorten marked that we were once again in a buddhist area. Vast stretches were unpopulated and those that were consisted of a handful of homes where farmers diligently harvested barley, wheat, fodder and collected dung for the winter that isolates them for 6mths of the year. A herd of 200 yaks nonchalently munched away at sparse vegetation while the dzos were milked for their super rich milk. Gumburanjon, a shark's fin of a granite monolith marked the way to the Shingo-la pass.
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Pangong Tso (Lake) and along the Indus

Now heres a real Munchkin. Marmots are amazing little fellows choosing to live only above 4000m. They delighted me whenever the roads got high. I thought of names for them: Milo, Molly, Marmelade and Marmite. A good start, so I thought.

Now heres a real Munchkin. Marmots are amazing little fellows choosing to live only above 4000m. They delighted me whenever the roads got high. I thought of names for them: Milo, Molly, Marmelade and Marmite. A good start, so I thought.
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Leh

Lonely Leh Gompa

Lonely Leh Gompa

Imposingly the Leh Palace is built on a crag overlooking the town, above it a little gompa (monastry) is perched, almost lonely against the vast blu, cloud-puffed sky. Below the old city, densely built, slowy crumbles and decays. The main bazaar is a bustle of old Ladakhi ladies selling their fabulous apricots and vegetable grown in their home gardens, chatting and knitting with their long grey braids, the belching tata truck and horn blasting jeeps do little to disturb them.

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The Great Manali-Leh Highway

More fabulous landscapes en route to Pang

More fabulous landscapes en route to Pang

After an extraordinary  2 weeks that took us out of the incredible Spiti Valley to rejoin the main route to Ladakh, the Manali Leh highway. We have crossed passes over 5300m, slept in roadside dhabbas (truck-stop tents), missed a shower for 8 days, sucked on oxygen thin air, camped alongside shimmering high altitude turquoise lakes, eaten ravenously, delighted in seeing 'blue sheep' (bharal) springing effortlessly from rock to rock in the thin air. We submerged ourselves in a geological fantasy of mountains thrown up in all directions and the detail of delicate flowers clinging to the edge of a high pasutres and enjoyed the company of some fascinating cyclists.  Leh, the capital of Ladakh provided us with comforts such as hot water, chocolate cakes and internet alongside the fascinating ancient Buddhist monastaries and the sustainable Ladakhi culture that is changing so rapidly.

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Lovely Lahaul – Leaving Spiti

Lahualian summer flowers below the Rohtang pass.

Lahualian summer flowers below the Rohtang pass.

From Spiti we crossed our first high pass, the Kunzum-la (4600m) and enjoyed the change from high altitude desert to cascading waterfalls, grassy slopes and snow peaks in the distance. The wild Chandra river and precipitous drop-offs kept us on guard all the way to the junction of the Manali-Leh highway.

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Spectacular Spiti

Munchkin at Kalpa village monastry

Munchkin at Kalpa village monastry

The Spiti valley lies close to the Tibetan border following the Tibetan Hindustan Highway. It  is an amazing landscape in its strange starkness. Scree slopes, narrow gorges, raw rock and the raging Sutlej River below in a desert like dry environment that is emphasised by the brilliant green of the sporadic pea and apple orchard culitivated slopes. Little tibetan style villages and ageing buddhist monastries cling to cliffs. Its been incredibly hot, the dazzling light and the high-ish altitudes of 3000- 4700m make for challenging conditions not to mention the rough roads.

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The trip begins: Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh

Nonchalant cows on every street corner

Nonchalant cows on every street corner

One day in Delhis chaotic belly was enough,  and the city was in floods after a typical monsoonal downpour - we headed swiftly out on a 'luxury' bus  for Shimla in the foothills of the himalayas.

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Heading for the Himalayas

A snippet from Google earth of the Himachal Pradesh, the area through which I plan to cycle -  a crumpled paper of landscape that will ensure there is never a dull/lazy moment on the bike!

A snippet from Google earth of the Himachal Pradesh, the area through which I plan to cycle - a crumpled paper of landscape that will ensure there is never a dull/lazy moment on the bike!

Its over four years since my last big bike trip through South America, another one beckons! (Despite a little 2 week bike-jaunt in Morocco and 13 000km of cycling around the midlands between then and now – this doesn’t quite count).

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