If you follow me on Instagram and Twitter, you’ll know that Katarina and I – #RTroadtrip on social media – travelled through Gansbaai recently. We were celebrating this destination’s GOLD for Best Responsible Tourism Destination at the International Responsible Tourism Awards in London.
I hate to go on about the whaling up a volcano thing, but it was really hectic. Even though, as I said, I will totally do it again, I now want to know exactly what I’m getting myself into before I start walking anywhere.
Katarina is a serious hiker. It might actually be more fitting to describe her as someone that dances up a mountain. If it is not the Drakensberg, then she’s skipping her way along the entire Wild Coast. She mentioned briefly we will be doing a ‘little walk’ and that I should bring comfortable shoes. Maybe now might not be the right time to throw in that she is also currently training for the next Two Oceans Marathon, but hey, seeing as I most certainly do everything but dance up a mountain and have never reached the top of Hole in the Wall, let alone the Drakensberg, the 56km Ultra Marathon difference between us will be helpful for context.
Now, seeing as we were in whale country and as most of them already left, I immediately went online to ensure there’s no chance someone gets the fright of their lives and think a long lost gentle giant tragically beached. Right next to a skipping Skandanavian dancer. While on a ‘little walk’.
And this, to my relief, was the very first thing I read on the Beachcomber website:
You’ve heard of unwashed, malnourished hikers doing the Fish river canyon. You’ve encountered backpackers with tons of gear, pots, pans, and a folding stove — eating some gritty dried paste and raving about it.This is not for you? But you love hiking. In fact, nothing suits you more than a day in the wilderness, except perhaps, a day in the wilderness followed by a slap up meal in a local restaurant. You’d enjoy weeklong expeditions, if only you could jump in a car at the end of the day and head off to a comfortable bed.Congratulations, you are a confirmed Slackpacker.
My newfound identity secured, I had no problem to drive the Cruiser in the direction of Franskraal and look for the little foot on the rock before a blue hut just as we entered Pearly Beach. No problem at all. In fact, I was actually excited.
ABOVE: Jason Stonehewer in his little blue hut with tales as wide and mysterious as the sea.
The remains of a tortoise we passed in the first 5 minutes. Signs are erected all over South Africa, and yet drivers are as blind to them as the animal itself. It is SUCH a sad thing for me.
Jason showed us all kinds of wonderful things. The below a seed (I forgot the name, but will ask him to comment below and remind me) of an invasive species.
The invasive species would slowly be brought under control by these little brown bulbs. Again I’m going to ask Jason to comment and remind me below in the comments.
Here are some ‘Kooigoed’, which translated means ‘Bed stuff’. The indigenous people used it as mattresses. It is super soft and I recon it would make a great bed!
You can also heal yourself with ‘Vygies’ from the dunes. These succulents have amazing medicinal value.
Jason was the first person to successfully explain it to me in less than 3minutes and I think that is what I love about this guy: he is so down to earth and so knowledgeable and so darn nice that anything is simple and conversational.
The sequence can be seen anywhere in the world. In all shapes and forms. He reminded me so much of my greater connectivity to the Universe.
He also reminded me of (one of) my favourite quotes of all time, by Neil DeGrasse Tyson:
When I look up at the night sky, and I know that, yes, we are part of this Universe, we are in this Universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the Universe is in us. When I reflect on that fact, I look up — many people feel small, ’cause they’re small and the Universe is big, but I feel big, because my atoms came from those stars. There’s a level of connectivity. That’s really what you want in life, you want to feel connected, you want to feel relevant you want to feel like you’re a participant in the goings on of activities and events around you. That’s precisely what we are, just by being alive…
I travelled courtesy of Gansbaai Tourism.
Opinions expressed are my own.