Tag Archives: adventure

Chilling in China

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We recently returned from a rather magical trip, travelling China.

As promised, here’s a little post and some pics.

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Into The Wild

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I went on my first hike this past weekend, up into the misty Drakensberg Mountains. Here’s how I got a little piece of my soul back…

Since coming back from my Grand Indian Adventure, I lost touch with my wanderlust and need for nature. While I have loved trying out the young-professional-rents-own-apartment life, I began feeling off-kilter without some sort of hippie happiness to keep me grounded. I’ve been on a few missions around the country to some beautiful and raw places since, but this hike into the wilderness really reminded me how much I need these sort of getaways and man, I feel better for it.

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I was lucky enough to go with a group of really great, seasoned hikers who helped me learn the ropes and remained patient when I got complete stage fright crossing the rivers. We signed in at Didima Camp in Cathedral Peak (for a grand total of R55 each) and headed out despite the rainy, misty weather.

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The hiking experience was incredible and rather unreal to be honest. The weather may have been cold on the hike up, but it was so very beautiful seeing the mountains and vast expanses of greenery all draped in thick mist and juicy rain drops. 

It’s surprising how quickly you get used to carrying a huge backpack over rocks and up hillsides although we did stop a few times to swim in natural pools, drink fresh berg water and feast on snacks. On the very last stretch before the cave, we spotted a little puff adder hissing bravely at us next to the trail, but the rest of the berg creatures remained tucked away from the rain.

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What fascinated me the most was the unofficial Hiker’s Credo. For example – out of respect for other hikers, you must dispose of fruit peels etc, out of sight so as to not leave any sort of trail behind you. There are also these sporadic man-made pebble pyramids called cairns, that signal to other hikers that they are headed in the right direction. I got a kick out of adding rocks to them as we went past, as an unofficial signature in an unofficial guestbook.

After 5 hours of trekking, we finally made it to Xeni cave and set up camp by decorating our abode with candles and getting hot water for coffee on the boil. Surprisingly, I slept like a baby that night – snug in my sleeping bag, only waking occasionally to see more and more of the candles burn out until just one soldier was left glowing in the darkness.

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We woke up the next morning to a misty view, shared some breakfast and washed up in the waterfall that runs over the front of the cave. Mama Nature presented us with a beautiful day of sunshine and breezes, perfect for river swimming and picnic pit-stops on the hike home. Luke and Richard (both talented videographers) set up their drone to fly overhead and got some insane shots of us hiking through the valley –  I seriously can’t wait to see the footage!

The berg was pretty much flawless and I had precious time to take pics and get some journaling done. Yes, I may be absolutely buggered and stiff in the most bizarre joints, but it was completely worth it to just disappear into nature, silence and stillness.

Here’s to the year of the Cave Dwellers!

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Transkeing

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Happy month of extended weekends and wasted work hours looking forward to them! It seems the rest of the country spent the long weekend exploring, catching up with friends and celebrating 420. Well, we did all of that and more at a little slice of paradise I like to call, Shark’s Point.

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A group of us headed to the Eastern Cape in the early hours of Friday morning and after 9 hours of driving, plenty of dirt roads and questionable padkos later we arrived at our destination — self catering chalets conveniently situated somewhere in between Heaven and Utopia.

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Thanks to the super planning/spreadsheeting/food-buying and meal-planning skills of our team lead, DJ Fuego Heat, we ate like kings in between the sundowners, camp fires, mesmerising sunsets, sunrise swims and evenings of stargazing. Two of my favourite meals included freshly bought local crayfish (ten rand a pop!) and braaied bananas stuffed with chocolate. Yes, you heard meh. 

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We dossed in rustic cabins in amongst spiders and goats and spent our days snorkelling in rock pools, hiking up hilltops, sucking at bat-and-ball games and getting our tan on. The boys insisted on surfing despite the fact that:

A. We were on one of the world’s sharkiest coastlines with a fatal attack occurring at Port Saint John’s, three weeks ago.

B. The place itself was called Shark’s Point.

C. We saw an actual shark, in the water, where they were surfing.

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We were however also blessed with occasional schools of dolphins and fantastic weather. On the very last night we all sat on the hillside during a power outage and watched the lightning over the ocean before a beautiful thunderstorm broke out over the valley. This place was pretty much the best parts of a Drakensberg and beach holiday, rolled into one setting.

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This post isn’t actually a #humblebrag, but rather encouraging you all to get out there and explore this country! If rallying up a group of mates, roughing it up in nature and meeting the friendliest locals in all the land sounds like your idea of a good time, then check out www.sharkspoint.co.za for your next long weekend.

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TBT: 4OOO ft up in the air for the Sunset

A little throwback blog post from 2011, when I went skydiving. What a freaking rush!

A group of us left at the crack of dawn yesterday morning,still sleepy and hungover from the craziest party at the Willovale hotel the night before.Driving out into daybreak and out into the sunrise,we flew along the windy dirt roads to get to Atlas Angels Sky Diving School.Today we would begin our static line course,so that after a few jumps,we will be able to skydive without an instructor.

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Now I am the biggest scardy cat in the universe.I don’t even do roller coasters .I panic.But this year I promised I’d change that.I promised I wouldn’t be THAT girl who sits out.I needed to do this for myself and my mentality.I want to live a fearless life.

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After a full day of lessons and training,a few yummy toasted sandwiches and pills to calm me down,we finally marched out in the dying sunlight and into the wintery air and climbed into the tiny tin plane.

I have never been so scared in my life,as when that little box with the 8 of us ,shredded down the tiny runway and up into the sky.

1000 feet

2000 feet

3000 feet

4000 feet.

I started crying.I cannot do this.I cannot jump out of a plane ,with the world looking like a Picasso artwork below us,and free fall out into the below zero temperature.

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I was fifth to go.The door flew open and the sound of the air tearing into the toy plane was deafening.My boyfriend calmed me down and another mate reassured me that I could do this.I watched as one by one my friends climbed out the door and let go,flung back by the inertia into the abyss below,hoping their parachutes would open.I was not doing this.

Then,my turn was up.Second to last.I shuffled to the door and waited for it to open.The sound came flooding in and I yelled at the instructor and said “I am very,very scared” and before I had time to make a decision he yelled “CLIMB OUT!”

9 hours of training kicked in.

“RIGHT HAND OUT!

RIGHT LEG OUT!

LEFT HAND OUT!

LEFT LEG OUT!

CHECK IN!

ARCH!

And just like that I was freefalling into the last rays of sunlight.I arched into the blue sky and watched the parachute explode open above me.This was unreal.I did my checks,unable to breathe and eventually looked around me.

I was fucking hanging alone in the sky,the fields motionless and blurred below me.The rolling hills soaking up the last drops of Autumn sun.Not a sound but the wind.

I screamed.I screamed and screamed.I had done it!

For 7 minutes I glided along.Watching the colourful parachutes descending below me.I got ready to make my landing.And missed it,getting caught un-current.

I crashed down the side of the bank and super-manned through the cold grass into the dark.I felt my ankle pull behind me and I came to a holt,buried in the veld.It was over.I lay on the ground laughing,laughing like I had never laughed before.Then the tears started.Then I wasn’t sure if I was laughing or crying or having an asthma attack and I picked up my shoot and ignore my bleeding ankle.I started to walk directionless,when a four wheeler came roaring down towards me.A high five and I was up and away to the rest of the troop.We all hugged and cheered and had a beer to watch the distant lights twinkle on the hills.The darkness highlighting the galaxies in the night sky above.

Living.That was it.

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Sound like your cuppa? Check out Skydive Durban here.

J xx