Carlos Gonzalez

Spanafrican Adventures’s Founder

Accredited Hiking Guide in the Drakensberg Mountains

Carlos hails from Barcelona, Spain. After completing his Honours in Physics he paid off the student loan working as a computer analyst. This was followed by a move to the fiscal haven of Andorra, working in the computer department of a bank, for six years. One of his fondest memories, apart from the tax breaks, was working till dawn on the arrival of the new century, ensuring that the bank’s computer systems didn’t crash.

Living in the heart of the Pyrenees he got to enjoy many active pursuits in the great outdoors. However, life soon took on monotony and a new challenge was needed. He decided to take up long-distance triathlon. After 5 years of hard training and perseverance he achieved his ambition by qualifying for the 2003 Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. He had other dreams too, and it was around this time that he decided to leave behind all that was familiar and comfortable. He quit his job, put his suit and ties into storage (which incidentally he has never retrieved), sold his flat and car, then flew half-away around the world, bike in tow, to the most southern tip of South America. 18 months and 33,000 km’s later he reached the Arctic Sea in Alaska. Somewhere between Bariloche and Bogota, he met his South African wife, Bridget Ringdahl, with whom he shared the road (and his tent) for several months. Although they needed to part ways in Cartagena, he knew where he would be headed next.

Life has been good since his arrival in South Africa. It was September 2005 and he fell in love with the country straightaway. Places like the Drakensberg, Wild Coast and the Midlands provide all the inspiration he needs. After the taste of freedom, working in an office again was out of the question. He has since qualified as a nature and mountain guide, and as his friends joke, embarked on a serious love affair… with the Drakensberg, where he spends most weekends.

He’s also a member of the Mountain Club of South Africa rescue team for the province of Kwazulu-Natal.

In between, he continues his adventures with Bridget, having recently cycled in Morocco and Indian Himalayas and hiked in Nepal. He’s got a long list of other trips he’s keen to do, but one thing is certain – South Africa is where he calls home!

Hiking in the Drakensberg

Bridget Ringdahl

The Blonde on a Bike

“Pedaling has been natural to me since the tender age of three. Cycling is practical, fun, it gets you to the corner café, across countries, continents, keeps you fit and is by far the most efficient and environmentally friendly transport option around, being virtually carbon neutral.”

Bridget’s Blog

 

Bridget is a traveller and adventurer at heart and have over the years cycled over 30 000km across South America, SE Asia, India, Tibet, Nepal, Sweden, South Africa and the Indian Himalayas.

Asia

After completing her BSc Honours in Environmental Sciences in Cape Town, she headed off to the UK. It was during this this time that she set off on her first bike trip that was inspired by friend Cathy who had been cycling through India. Bridget joined her on a largely unplanned and spontaneous 5600km trip through central India, along the coastline of Vietnam, across up to the hilltops of Laos. She continued alone through SW China from where she tackled the Friendship Highway across the plateau of Tibet, finally ending in Nepal where she took up a volunteer teaching post in the foothills beneath Dhaulagiri.

It was during this time that mountains really started to grow on her and she has since been fortunate enough to have completed many of the well-known treks in Nepal.

Sweden

Another study break ensued and she completed her Masters in Environmental Sciences in Sweden’s Lund University. During these student days she crossed Sweden by bike in mid-winter. 6mths later, she cycled from Lund to Stockholm in summer (far more sensible and enjoyable!). Having saved some of her scholarship she decided to do something useful and travel another continent by bike. South America offered another fabulous mountain range, the Andes!

South America

From the glacier encrusted paradise of Patagonia she followed the Andes Mountains and crossed more than 15 passes between 3000m – 4700m in Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. Somewhere along the way she met Carlos and together they ended up in the high mountains of ‘no-go’ country Colombia.

South Africa 

Since these two long distance trips Carlos and Bridget have ‘settled’ in Howick, the ‘foothills’ of the Drakensberg, which they have explored and hiked from tip to top!

More recent bike trips include: 800km across the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and most recently 2500km cycling ‘the highest roads in the world’ in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir in North India with passes well over the 5000 metre mark.

When Bridget is not riding or hiking

She coordinates the WESSA/WWF Eco-Schools Programme, which helps schools to improve environmental learning and management at a local level www.wessa.org.za

And what else….

Loving and walking homeless unwanted hounds at the SPCA, pottering about in the garden, reading, writing and taking action around local environmental sins!

In 2007 Bridget released two books documenting her cycling adventures in 2000 and 2004:

  • Blonde on a Bike – in India , South East Asia, South West China and Tibet and
  • Blonde on a Bike in South America

Unfortunately, those books were sold out and are currently out of print.

Descending from Sach Pass