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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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Trailblazing in the battlefields (Tugela River)

We started just below Sterkfontein Dam and relished the first section of the "Berg n Bush Descent" race, that took us skirting along the edge of a sandstone cliffs.
Kwazulu-Natal is reknowned for having some of the most superb trails and mtb-ing routes in the country. The best part is that many of them are right at my doorstep or not too far afield and keep me more than satisified during the 'in between the long distance bike trips' . Last weekend 18 of us headed up to fabulous bushveld trails at the threshold of the Drakensberg and delighted in exploring over 100km of sweeping descents, rocky climbs, tussocky ambles that end up dropping from the escarpment to the Tugela river. The area is also steeped in history.Some of the most famous Anglo-Boer battles in history unfolded here. Following these fabulous trails through the most challenging and rugged african bushveld,  it is hard not to appreciate what the poor British and Boers went through.
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A Ride on the Wild side

Our beautiful Wild Coast. For the last 2 years Sarah has been organising bike trips along the wildcoast. This year she very generously offered to take her friends! see for more info about Sarah's tours

South Africa’s ‘wild coast’ is one of the last stretches of unspoiled coastline along our 3000km of beach. The roughly 280km stretch, starts from at the Kei River mouth and ends at the Umtavuma gorge marking the boundary between the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces. While far it is far from wild, in the true sense, it is simply the fact that the area has remained mostly untouched relative to the natal north and south coast, which are blotted with garish developments, strip malls, sugar monoculture,  pseudo Tuscan holiday homes and the high rise hotels. By contrast it is pristine, and is characterized by sweeping grasslands, wide-open empty beaches, dazzling estuaries, deep gorges, thick swathes of indigenous forest and waterfalls that cascade into the sea. Rolling hills provide the backdrop and are dotted with homesteads of the traditional Xhosa huts that have been there for centuries.

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Day 1: Kei Mouth – Xhora River

We shared the ride with a pack of friendly vagrant dogs that were quite familiar with the ferry procedure and a some local fishermen
Day 1: 46km 4hr20 ride time: Starting from the great Kei River mouth and the boundary of the former 'homeland' of the Transkei we headed north for 220km to Port St Johns. Never could I have imagined how spectacular and unspoiled this coastline really is, just goes to show what we expect as 'normal' . Sun-kissed and inspired, I lapped up all the details, the landscapes and the sweat  in a blissful but tough 5 days of fun and fabulous riding.
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Day 2: Xhora River – The Haven

Bay after bay, they were all beautiful.

Day 2: 39km , 4hrs30 ride time:  Today we crossed the Xhora, Jajura, Ngadla, Xhixini, Ngabara and finally the Mbashe river mouths, all named so beautifully with the Xhosa click. Passing through the Dwesa forest reserve I was astounded by the size and the condition of this incredible pocket  of coastal forest, certainly one of the largest in South Africa.  We whizzed up and down excrutiatingly steep jeep tracks through Dwesa enjoying once more a completely different environment, to surface again in signature grasslands dotted with aloes. The final crossing was the Mbashe, strong currents were a little concerning. Just as well we only met the fisherman later that evening.  He had spotted a Zambezi or two while he had fished in the lagoon around about the same time we made our epic crossings. Photos of proud fisherman and their sharks on the walls of the pub at the Haven were another reminder that we were definetly in shark territory.

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Day 3: The Haven to Coffee Bay

Without doubt one of the most spectacular days. The tough 47km day was a perfect 'sample' of the wildcoast: wide open beaches, steep sugar-loaf hills, pockets of thick indigenous forest and the sprinklings of friendly villages along the way. Arriving at the landmark 'Hole in a Wall' was a highlight on the trip.

Day 3: 5hrs to pedal 47km,  This was without doubt one of the most spectacular days or riding (also one of the toughest), encompassing every element of the wildcoast: Wide open sandy beaches, headlands jutting out to sea, the last remaining pockets of coastal forest on our eastern shores, exquisite estuaries, quaint villages, relentlessly steep hills, sweeping grasslands and views enough to make you want to ride off the edge...

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Day 4: Coffee Bay – Mpande

Crossing the murky (very possibly shark-infested) Umtata river mouth.

Day 4: 46 km, 7hrs.   Coffee bay will remain with me as being ironically the most disappointing coffee experience of my life (not a decent cup in sight and the barely acceptable instant we found at the backpackers came at a hefty price !) . Apparently it was named after a ship carry coffee beans ran aground in the late 1800s, although a few beans seeded themselves the conditions proved too harsh for the plants to survive. Nowdays its a grubby little rubbish strewn village in a beautiful setting where lots of travellers end up smoking up the rest of their travel budgets.

Glad to leave we were welcomed with more excrutiating sharp climbs through rondavel hamlets scattered across the hillsides that dropped down once more to the most exquisite estuaries.

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Day 5: Mpande to Port St. Johns

View from Mpande where we spent our last night
Day 5:  32km in 8hrs. Deceivingly easy to start with, we enjoyed graded road rolling up and over the hills clocking up our best average time to date : some 20 odd km in as little as 2hrs. However once that ended some serious bundu-bashing and sandy tracks brought us back to the wildcoast ( so appropriately named) It took us another 5 hrs to complete the final 15km which brought us to our finishing point at 2nd beach Port St. Johns. 
An incredible 210km trip along a spectacular coastline. Definetly rates as one of my top rides ever!
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