Cederberg, Cederberg Wilderness Area, Algeria campsite, explore, adventure, West Coast, South Africa, travel, gypsified, road tripping, south african road trip, backroad adventures in south africa

Winter wandering along the West Coast: Cederberg Wilderness Area

The final leg of our West Coast trip was spent at CapeNature’s Algeria rest camp in the Cederberg Wilderness Area.

After stocking up on a few groceries, visiting Strassbergers leather shoe shop and popping in at the Rooibos Tea Factory in Clanwilliam, we headed on into the mountains.

Even though it was a couple of degrees colder here, the skies above were clear. So, we agreed to do the camping thing once again.

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Lamberts Bay, sunset, yo yos, camping, explore, adventure, West Coast, South Africa, travel, gypsified, road tripping, south african road trip, backroad adventures in south africa

Winter wandering along the West Coast: Lamberts Bay camping

On the short (and possibly illegal) drive from Elands to Lamberts Bay, we encountered several cars heavy-laden with surfboards and saw a few stoked-looking bodyboarders changing into and out of wetsuits at Doringbaai.

This spelled only good things for Lamberts, which made Guillaume step a little more firmly on the accelerator.

True as bob, popular surf spot Yo Yos was pumping: 3 – 4ft lines marched into the bay, with a stiff, yet gentle offshore wind combing the perfect a-frame peaks. Surfers whooped as they carved up the playful walls, the sun slowly setting behind them, leaving streaks of incandescent pink, orange, purple and blue in its wake. (This beautiful description courtesy of Guillaume).

We witnessed all of this from the neighbouring municipal camspite, where we were pitching our tent for the next two or three (we hadn’t quite decided yet) nights. Guillaume had gallantly sacrificed his surf to help set up the camp in the last bit of light.

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Elands Bay, Lamberts Bay, West Coast, South Africa, travel, gypsified, road tripping, south african road trip, road signs, backroad adventures in south africa

Winter wandering along the West Coast: Lunch in the Elands Bay cave

After a warm and cosy night at Die Opstal in Paternoster, we packed the bakkie once more and set off bright and early towards Lamberts Bay.

With only 150km to cover, we decided to take it super slow and stop ever so often along the way. Instead of tracing our way back along the R399 via Vredenburg, Guillaume took us on a scenic back road adventure through St. Helena Bay, where the prevalence of Lucky Star branding suggested that this must be the tuna and sardine canning capital of the West Coast.

The chilly morning skies were clear and blue, forming a striking contrast with the rolling green farmlands unfurling to the left and right.

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Paternoster, West Coast, South Africa, travel, gypsified, road tripping, south african road trip, atlantic ocean view

Winter wandering along the West Coast: Paternoster

At the beginning of June, Guillaume and I set out on a little road trip up the West Coast.

We’d been looking forward to it for a while, as it marked an important milestone for us: the end of our long distance relationship.

After living and working in Riversdale for almost two years, Guillaume was back in Cape Town for good and we wanted to celebrate with a bit of adventure.

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Rod's Trail, Betty's Bay, mountains, hiking, overberg, overberg hiking, adventure, travel, explore, fynbos, kogelberg

Snaps: Rod’s Trail, Betty’s Bay

While the past week or so has been a rather stormy one down here in the Western Cape, I must say, we’ve really been blessed with some particularly pleasant winter weather.

And nowhere is a bright winter’s day more beautiful than in Betty’s Bay. Anyone familiar with that side of the world will know that for 80% of the year it’s a high energy zone – all gale force winds and stormy seas. But when it decides to take a breather and… just… rel…ax, it’s seriously the most exquisite place in the world.

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Cute white alpaca at the Alpaca Loom Coffee Shop & Weaving Studio

An adventure of unparalleled cuteness? Alpaca my bags!

It was just before 8am on Heritage Day morning and Marli and I were rushing along Agter Paarl road in an effort to get her to a trail run – that would be starting in about t-10 minutes at Spice Route – on time.

I was still a little groggy and bleary-eyed and not yet able to fully appreciate the picturesque scenery unfolding (at top speed, I might add) around me: spring-green vineyards with hazy purple mountains towering above them, white ducks kicking up concentric waves in otherwise glassy dams, little houses sending tentative columns of smoke up into the blue – preempting the braai fires that would later be lit.

You know, the standard sort of winelands prettiness one can expect from this time of year.

And then I suddenly found myself doing a double take – as though my body responded to what I’d seen before my mind could quite register.

It was a simple black silhouette on a sign post – recognisable in its absolute ridiculousness, unmistakable in its unexpectedness:

“Alpacas!” Marli and I exclaimed in unison.

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The naming of things

“Nadia. What does it mean?” our guide, Nhlanhla ‘Lucky’ Mavusa, asked me as we made our way – slipping and sliding – down a steep embankment to a collection of 4 000-year-old rock paintings in Swaziland’s Nsangwini Valley.

“What does what mean, Lucky?” I replied, a little confused.

“Your name!” he exclaimed.

“Oh! Hmmm… well, I’ve looked it up. In Russian it apparently means ‘hope’ and in some other language it literally means ‘nothing’, which kind of sucks.”

A moment of silence from Lucky.

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The impossible question of the bucket list #BlogVember

The only quick answer to the bucket list question is exactly what Susan Sontag said in the quote above. Word for word.

I’ve always had a sprinkling of wanderlust in my soul, undoubtedly inspired by my parents, who have only ever needed half an excuse to hit the road in search of adventure and never thought twice about lugging their kids around on whirlwind tours – whether it be of Europe, Namibia or the vast network of roads criss-crossing our country. (Thanks Mom and Dad!)

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Living the little things


The other day I was walking along Sea Point Main Road on a mission to draw money and get face cream or hair conditioner or some such mundane toiletry from Clicks, when I found myself captivated by a series of completely ordinary slice-of-life scenes playing themselves out around me.

The wind was pumping, sending flyers, sweet wrappers and leaves into colourful whirlwinds on the pavement.

Outside a Chinese takeaway shop, two bright red and gold paper lanterns were being bashed to and fro, their long tassels tangling and untangling in the wild dance. Underneath one, a wooden ladder had been set up and on the ladder a man – maybe the owner, maybe a manager, maybe just a good friend – squinted into the oncoming gust. He had a pair of scissors in his hands, and in the split second it took me to walk past, I saw him ascend the rungs and start to trim the tassels.

I suddenly realised that this was a first: I had never seen someone trim the tassels of a Chinese lantern outside a takeaway shop before and wondered at the sight. It was entirely ordinary. Nothing I had ever thought about, let alone, hoped to one day witness myself. Yet there was something poetic in the moment that caught the breath in my throat and made me feel glad I had been a passer-by just then.

A few steps further, I saw a family huddling around a table in KFC. The kids in their swimming costumes looked wild-eyed and elated, while the adults seemed wind-swept and exhausted. One little girl stood on the sill of the large window, leaning against the glass, swaying from side to side, holding an ice cream in her right hand. She momentarily lost control of her momentum, sending the ice cream hand smashing into the window pane and leaving a sticky white smear in its wake. Turning to the scene of the crime, an expression of horror flickered across her face, but almost immediately settled back into dream-like serenity when she saw the ice cream was still pretty much intact.

Shooting her mother a glance, she quickly started wiping the mess she had made with her other hand, probably hoping that no one had noticed. I giggled to myself and longed for the simplicity of ice cream cones and swimming costumes and hiding from the wind on a summer’s day.

Later that evening, while attending a show in Stellenbosch, I found myself zooming in on a guy in the band’s back line, playing the tambourine with all the seriousness of a heart surgeon doing a triple bypass. I was completely mesmerised by the way he seemed to snatch the rhythm up from somewhere mid-air and shake it out with a snap of his wrist, his eyes pinched closed in musical rapture. He was pouring his very soul into the menial task of playing the tambourine and it was beautiful.

Mulling over each of these random occurrences now, I can spot the golden thread stringing them all together like semi-precious stones.

It’s something Guillaume and I talk about a lot and, I guess, it comes down to ‘ living the little things.’ Appreciating the moments between moments, because they are, after all, what life is really made up of.

Just before I started writing this, I got a notification that someone had favourited one of my tweets… a tweet I had sent way back in 2012 (who knew I even tweeted back then – haha!). Serendipitously enough the favourited tweet ties in perfectly with ‘living the little things,’ linking to a post on Letters of Note about an astronaut Dad writing to his one-year-old son.

The quote I shared said: “Basically, I miss the elemental things of Earth that we are blessed with each day on the planet but often take for granted.”

This is preceded by said astronaut dad listing a bunch of things he was homesick for:

fresh air blowing in my face. Green, green grass and swaying trees. Birds chirping. Tulips popping up in spring.

Taking hot showers. Lying on the couch. Falling asleep with two big pillows surrounding my head. Diving into the swimming pool after a long, hot run.

Tinkering in the garden. Looking out over the lake as the sun sets. Feeling the warmth of the sun. Gliding across the water in a kayak with fish jumping in my wake.

All tiny little things we hardly take note of, but no doubt enrich our lives.

Living in an era where we practically have the world at our fingertips and on our doorsteps, it sometimes feels like if we aren’t living an epic life, we’re really not living at all.

So, we update our Facebook feeds with glittering ‘Life Events’ – far-flung travels, anniversaries, degrees, engagements, births, weddings, starting dates of dream jobs.

Our profiles become an unrealistic shining resume of epicness, odes to our greatest moments, while we conveniently gloss over the in-between.

While I’m a big fan of celebrating the big things, I don’t think it should be at the cost of the little things.

In a piece titled, ‘What happens when your epic journey ends and all that changed is the scenery?‘ Chris Colin says if he could give his younger self some tips about travel, the first thing would be:  “stop looking for epic crud.”

He continues:

Travel seems big from the outside — epiphanies, transformations, the radical pffft of the mind blowing. But up close it’s just a bunch of tiny stuff. When’s our train again? How come American money isn’t this colorful? Huh, the squirrels look weird here. Turns out tiny stuff is what life itself is made of.

So, here’s to the little stuff, the moments between moments, the pillows under our heads, the morning cups of coffee, the smiles between strangers, holding hands while crossing a busy road, watering the garden, walking the dog, goodnight kisses, laughing at silly jokes, eavesdropping on conversations in the bus, taking pride in our tiniest tasks.

My grandfather’s passport

It was just over year ago that my Oupa Marius passed away. He breathed his last – a peaceful sigh, my brother said – surrounded by loved ones on the 16th of June 2013, which also happened to be Father’s Day.

While it felt sudden and unexpected to me at the time – I mean, I’d spoken to him just a few days before and he’d said that he was feeling better and would be heading home from the hospital soon – I guess it wasn’t really.

He was going on 89 and had lived a life fuller than most.

In the time he walked this earth he had been many, many things: a husband, father, grandfather. A teacher. A writer. A cultivator of crops. A singer. A laugher of the highest order – it would always start deep in his stomach, bubbling up and inevitably end with him wiping tears from the corner of each eye. A lover of God’s good creation with a passion for exploration.

He was an adventurer and traveller who knew exactly how to get off the beaten track. And if you happened to be with him when the whim to take the road less travelled hit, boy did you just have to hang on and surrender to the ride.

In my oupa’s mind, roads marked with no entry signs in the Kruger National Park only meant better game viewing opportunities. And those who said you couldn’t 4×4 with an Elantra obviously lacked imagination and guts.

I think it’s this part of my grandfather’s character that I adored the most. Cursed with a tendency toward timidity, I have always envied and admired that sort of robustness.

(So much so that, in recent months, when faced with a challenge or posed with an out-of-my-comfort-zone opportunity, I’ve taken on the mantra: “What would Oupa Marius do?”

And always end up thinking: “Actually what wouldn’t he do?”)

Of course this resilience went hand-in-hand with the sort of free spirit you simply couldn’t quite pin down. It was no doubt the driving force that had propelled him and my Ouma Naomi to the furthest reaches of the earth.

I recognise the fluttering of that spirit so poignantly in myself… although I haven’t allowed it to move me nearly as often as I would have liked it to… yet.

So, last year, while spending time with my gran and the rest of the family before and after the memorial service, I was struck by the sudden urge to see, touch, inspect the passports my grandfather had filled over the years.

At first I found this urge weird and completely out of place. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So finally decided to ask my gran if she knew where they were and if I could have a look at them.


Taking up her walking frame she accompanied me to my Oupa’s study. Filled with books, magazines, files, stamps and all sorts of bric-a-brac that he had spent hours poring over, the study had become a place of comfort and commemoration to most of us. A shrine.

She opened one of the desk drawers, scratched around for a bit and finally brought forth a pristinely preserved specimen of the all-too-familiar green booklet.


Casting a quick look over the front page, my Ouma handed it to me and said it dated back to the late 70s and early 80s. She mentioned a stamp or two I might spot and then left me to indulge my curiosity.

Although the passport had by no means yet been filled, what I found inside captured my wanderlusting imagination.


From Transkei (yes, you needed a passport to get to the wild coast in the old days) to Turkey, Italy to Iran, Cyprus, Malawi and Bahrain, my grandparents had travelled to a delectable selection of unlikely destinations.

While I remember them visiting Australia and the US in their later years, I had no idea that their taste for adventure had been so all encompassing. I suddenly wished that I had known this earlier. That I could sit down and ask my Oupa about Iran. What was it like back then and if he thought there was any comparison to the politically-isolated place it is today. Which spots I should visit when I finally take those trips to Turkey and Malawi. If Cyprus should feature on my destinations-to-visit list.


My Ouma must have seen how taken I was with the outdated document and graciously told me to keep it as a memento.

It sits safely on my bedside table and every now and then I turn to it for inspiration.

Although my Oupa was a particularly well-travelled individual there were a few places he (and his passport) never got to explore. A few of the places I simply have to see for myself.

South America with a backpack, for one. Oh, and also India. Morocco, Costa Rica (the sloth sanctuary in particular) and Zanzibar. I’m not too sure about Scandinavia, but I’m willing to bet he wouldn’t mind visiting again. And, of course, gorilla tracking in Uganda.

So, I hope Oupa Marius’ passport is ready for take two, because it’s coming along. A tangible token of his special spirit of adventure.