‘The Wild Woman Interviews’ is a series of Q&As with women who do interesting, brave and inspiring things. The name hints at how nature, the outdoors, travel, the natural cycles of life etc. motivate and influence their passions and pursuits.

This month’s Wild Woman is Saray Khumalo and actually needs no introduction. Earlier this year, Saray became the first black African woman to summit Mount Everest. She is an award-winning mountaineer and a business executive with over 15 years’ experience in industry-leading blue-chip companies which drive innovation and change both locally and internationally. I chatted to her about her love for mountaineering, her passion for inspiring other African women and also about ‘Summits with a Purpose’, her initiative to help educate South Africa’s youth. 

Continue Reading "Wild Woman Interview: Seven Summits and Breaking Stereotypes with Saray Khumalo"

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of taking a whirlwind trip around the Overberg as part of #OverbergFam2019 – a familiarisation trip supported by Wesgro and SATSA – to explore this special region in a little more depth.

Veering off the beaten track (i.e. the N2) as far as possible, our itinerary took us from Elgin to Barrydale to Swellendam to Malgas and finally De Hoop. Along the way, we enjoyed an incredible array of experiences – from a chilly morning game drive at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve to an exquisite overnight stay at Schoone Oordt Country House and all manner of treats in between.

While I’m no stranger to the Overberg, this trip introduced me to a few quirky new experiences. Here are five I’d highly recommend to anyone who might be craving a leisurely spring road trip:

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It’s slightly terrifying how fast this year is going, isn’t it?

And also how it’s becoming increasingly difficult to connect and enjoy quality time with the people who matter most. Unless you actually pin down a date, time and venue for getting together, it’s definitely not going to happen spontaneously. (I’m sure the world was different at some point not too very long ago.)

So, when my mom recently managed to round us all up for a quick two-night break at Duinepos Eco Cottages in the West Coast National Park, it felt like nothing short of a miracle!

Continue Reading "Snaps: A Quick Break in the West Coast National Park"

‘The Wild Woman Interviews’ is a series of Q&As with women who do interesting, brave and inspiring things. The name hints at how nature, the outdoors, travel, the natural cycles of life etc. motivate and influence their passions and pursuits.

This month, I’d like you to meet Fatima Sait. At the end of 2018, she quit her job and – within the space of two months – completed all the necessary courses to become a certified mountain guide. I came across her profile on Instagram recently, while scrolling through #fishrivercanyonhike pics and found her exuberant love for nature and exploration both inspiring and infectious. 

Continue Reading "Wild Woman Interview: Fatima Sait on Mountain Guiding & Exploration"

I can’t believe it’s almost been a month since we set off on the Fish River Canyon hiking trail in mid-June!

It feels like yesterday we were still gathering our gear and sorting out snack packs.

After Ryno and Chantel invited us to join them at the end of December, we had a good six months to get everything in place, do some training and prepare ourselves mentally for the challenge up ahead.

Despite the wealth of articles and guides available online, there were a couple of questions that I couldn’t really find a satisfactory answer to prior to embarking on the journey.

So, I thought I’d answer a few of them here.

Continue Reading "5 Fish River Canyon Questions Answered"

A couple of months ago, a friend shared a post on their Instagram stories with the hashtag #AccidentallyWesAnderson and, immediately, I was intrigued.

Clicking on it, I found myself scrolling through a host of whimsical images from all corners of the globe that, indeed, seemed to have been snapped on one of Wes Anderson’s gently magical movie sets. What made all of them so arresting, however, was the fact that they depicted real-life places that weren’t even *trying* to be anything but themselves.

Continue Reading "Snaps: #AccidentallyWesAnderson in Springbok"

When it comes to dreams of travel, there’s an outright war being waged within my soul.

While one side yearns to explore places unknown – inhale their strange air, indulge in their exotic cuisine, listen to the unfamiliar song of the languages the locals speak – the other side desperately longs for a grand return to so many I’ve been before. To retrace the footsteps of the woman I was back then, to see what she saw and maybe even point out a few of the things she missed; to sink my teeth into the delicacies I’ve never been able to find back home; to stake my claim for some sort of familiarity; but mostly just to be there again.

Portugal is one of the places I wish to return to most poignantly. Porto, in particular.

Continue Reading "Take me back: Porto"

About a month ago, we headed to Wilderness for Andre and Danielle’s wedding – a wild and wonderful beach-meets-forest affair.

Despite a storm breaking out in full force on the afternoon of the nuptials, it was a truly beautiful and joyous occasion.

Apart from celebrating their promises of forever to each other, we also got a chance to rediscover a few of the trails in this lush section of the Garden Route National Park.

Continue Reading "Snaps: Walking in Wilderness"

Taking time out to admire the natural beauty all around you while hiking a particularly tough trail can be pretty hard.

When your backpack straps are cutting into your shoulders (still tender from the previous day’s abuse), your legs are burning and all wobbly, and you can’t quite seem to catch your breath, the last thing you want to do is veer off course in pursuit of an even rarer view.

Most hiking trails, of course, discourage – nay, flat out forbid – you to leave the main trail for your own safety, as well as the conservation of the fauna and flora that would suffer underfoot.

However, when setting out on the five-day Otter Trail between Tsitsikamma and Nature’s Valley, you will have a couple of opportunities to take legal – and highly recommended – detours to some pretty damn magical spots. Because most of them come at that time of day when your energy levels have reached a real low, you may be tempted to skip them and just forge ahead.

But let me tell you: they’re totally worth it! Shrug off your backpack and leave it on the path – with no one else on the trail except your group, they’re 100% safe – and go have some fun. You’ll feel refreshed and inspired when you return, ready to take on the road ahead with more vigour.

Here are three of the Otter Trail’s most noteworthy detours you simply can’t miss out on:

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“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable” – Mary Oliver

When I first read this line of poetry a couple of years ago, it rang so pure and true in my soul, it became my life’s motto in an instant.

Not that I’ve always been super successful at this – sometimes the slog of daily life becomes so all-encompassing, it’s all too easy to lose that sense of wide-eyed wonder.

That’s kind of where I found myself at the end of 2018: looking back on a year of incredible opportunities and fulfilling projects but just completely exhausted to the bone. I felt an overwhelming longing for simplicity and the need to immerse myself in nature.

So, when a spot opened up in the group my cousins had organised for the Otter Trail, I grabbed the opportunity without a second thought.

Sure, I only had ONE week to get my gear together (fortunately I’m kitted out with most of the basics).

And no, I wasn’t fit at all (in fact, I think this is the least fit I’ve been in about 10 years).

But, let’s face it – when you get the chance to piggyback on another group’s booking for this trail with its notorious 1-year waiting period, you take it!

This also, of course, put me in the advantageous position of having absolutely no time to burden myself with too much reading and research; conjure up any unrealistic expectations or think too much about the dangers (like the Bloukrans River Crossing) lying ahead.

Fortunately, I still had a roll of expired Kodak Gold and decided to put it to good use snapping some of the spectacular scenery that surrounded us for the five days we were on the trail.

While I love the mood and grain of these images, no camera can capture the true magic of these pristine spaces. In a world where truly wild places no longer seem to exist, the Otter Trail offers an unforgettable taste of somewhere almost ‘untouched’.

Continue Reading "Snaps: The Otter Trail on 35mm film"