Getaway with the girls
Charel, a former soldier with the South African Military and qualified military engineer, lives to dive and loves to travel. His philosophy in life is to live in such a way that he can look back years from now, smiling about the fact that his days have been worth more than any amount of money in the bank. In his blog, Project Exploring Soldier, he shares his adventures with those who like a good story – and these include a few budget travel tips and some really great images.
“My girlfriend and I are both scuba divers and have been fortunate enough in the past to have made a living out of taking people on excursions to beautiful places like Thailand, Madagascar, France and so many more. We’ve seen what a big impact going underwater can have on a person, and the good it does for people to travel, to escape their comfort zones and try something new.”
“There’s nothing like exploring a new environment or indulging in long, leisurely days lazing about in the sunshine and lovely afternoon dips in the swimming pool followed by sundowners in the right kind of paradise. Here are a just few of my favourite things to do and places to go – local to South Africa – that can just as easily open your eyes to the beauty of what we have right here on our own doorsteps.”
River rafting for days
This is a place where the best entry level rafting experience awaits you. The Orange River and The Richtersveld have a lifelong partnership and offer fully inclusive rafting options stretching from two to seven days, with a group of highly experienced and very lively guides to aid you on this journey of a life time. This adventure is for the whole family and could possibly be one of the best bonding experiences out there. Raft from the Richtersveld desert on the longest river in SA, and after a long day on the rapids, you’ll arrive at a ready-made camp to enjoy a night of stories around the camp fire while gazing at the stars.
Sailing for the whole family
If you’re a fan of the Cape, at least one boat trip is in order given that the city was founded by the maritime industry. Set sail from the V&A Waterfront aboard a leisure yacht for sundowners, overlooking the beautiful Table Mountain over the horizon, or climb aboard a speed boat or one of the bigger boats (which normally carry up to a 100 people) for a cheaper ocean adventure. You could also take a drive to the laidback harbour of Simons Town where you’ll have a much better chance of seeing marine animals like dolphins, whales, penguins and even sharks every now and then.
Explore the mysteries of a cave
Enter the world of the Cango Caves where a walk through misty odours and humid temperatures awaits. Led by experienced cave guides, you’ll learn the difference between stalagmites and stalactites in your choice of five difference languages offered. There are two routes to choose from, namely the Heritage Walk which is more for families, and an Adventure Walk for the brave. Located only 29km from Oudshoorn, this is the most popular tourist cave in South Africa with tours lasting, on average, about 60 minutes and costing between R110 to R165 per adult. After one of these hikes you can explore Oudshoorn and its many farms, ride an Ostrich or go for a game drive through the Karoo landscape.
Climb the splendour of a mountain
The Drakensberg Mountain Range stretches about 1000 kilometres with the highest point being Thabana Ntlenyana – a staggering 3482 meters above sea level. The northern region of the Drakensberg has an area called the Amphitheatre, which is about five kilometres in length. It’s in my opinion one of the most breath taking mountain ranges on earth, and it has a little secret that not many people know of – the Tugela Falls – the world’s second highest waterfall, falling from a height of 948 meters. You can enjoy a Gorge hike on a jungle path that begins in the Royal Natal Nature Reserve where you can either set up camp for the night, or stay in a self-catering unit. The hike can be completed within one day, so day permits are also available. This one is a must-see for all nature lovers.
Scuba dive the Ghost Fleet
If you have a love for the ocean and like a good ghost story, Durban’s Ghost Fleet is the place for you as it can be dated back to the early 1800s. There are 141 wrecks scattered along Durban’s coastline, starting from Umhlanga and running all the way down to the Bluff, but only four of these wrecks are open to recreational divers namely Coopers, T-barge, Fontao and Hawthorne. Coopers, which is my favourite, sits 30 meters below the surface and has an abundance of pelagic fish life with beautiful coral growth covering the bow of the boat. Legend says it’s an old whaling ship because of what appears to be an old harpoon like structure on the bow, but one can only speculate as there is no solid evidence of where the ship came from. You need an Advanced Open Water Scuba licence to dive any of these wrecks but courses can be arranged from a few places in and around Durban.
Read more about Charel’s travels, his life on a kibbutz in Israel, living in the French Alps, his adventures as a scuba diving guide in Thailand, riding dirt bikes on the Red Dunes of Namibia, rediscovering his roots in The Netherlands and his Road Tripping Guide of Africa at www.projectexploringsoldier.com
Durban Get It Magazine – August 2017Women of substance