About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

26 December 2009

Roadtrip: Augrabies to Lamberts Bay

Today was the longest drive, starting with some spectacularly long and boring roads between Augrabies and Springbok; which then turned to a really spectacular road down to Lamberts Bay.

The first part of the road from Springbok, to around the town of Bitterfontein meanders through rocky mountain passes, with some fairly spectacular colours of Fynbos (imagine all that in full bloom!).

The second section, around the Olifants river valley, from about Klaver to Clanwilliams is spectacular due to the contrast of the green vineyards, the river below and the irrigation scheme on the hillside. All contrasted with the rest of the rocky landscape! And the twisted roads make a spectacular combination!

Muisbosskerm: A Seafood Experience

A colleague told me of this restaurant at Lamberts Bay, but he did not give me any details. I only decided to come through to Lamberts Bay after passing Springbok, and struggled to find a place to stay - until I got hold of the owner of a brand new campsite directly opposite Muisbosskerm (they are the same family).

The restaurant holds a spectacular position - on the beach, about 3 Km from town, so quite secluded. And it seems very popular, such that most people book in advance to get in.

Basically, it is a buffet style restaurant, and you pay either for the option with Crayfish, or without Crayfish. You are adviced to pace yourself, because the food keeps on coming; and it keeps on getting better. It starts with some roasted mealies (corn/maize), fruits, smoked fish etc; then the mains start - variety of fish grilled, then hot bread, variety of potatoes, salads etc, then the meat before more fruit, coffee and koeksusters. The food is basic, but very good - very hearty and homely. The atmosphere is amazing and the scenery stunning.

Need to come again, and bring a party!


Forever the butt of jokes, Pofadder is not really remote nor is it that small. The people (or those that were hanging out by the petrol station anyway) are very friendly too.

Where can one get such a permit?

Where does one get such a permit, and what are the requirement for such a permit. The long straight road between the Augrabies turn off and Pofadder is calling.

Augrabies National Park

One needs more than a few hours to really explore Augrabies National Park. The main attraction, the waterfall is created by the Orange river being pushed into a narrow gorge - and while it is a spectacle, it cannot really be compared to a falls like the Victoria Falls (not that I was expecting that). Once it is in the gorge, the river seems a lot calmer. But the highlight for me was the really alien like landscape of the park itself - lots of rocks with some greenery by the water.

There is some wildlife, but I didn't see much more than birds, a gemsbok and a lot of dassies.

25 December 2009

Roadtrip: Delareyville to Augrabies

Vryburg was a surprisingly large town, as was Kuruman - and the only restaurant open in Upington at lunch time was the local Spur (which was pretty full). Beyond, that the road to Augrabies was pretty deserted, and except for a few places; pretty long and straight. It is no wonder that the next challenge for the land speed record will take place in the Northern Cape.

Even after a fairly early start, I arrived at the Augrabies National Park, just after 3:30pm, which I discovered was a bit too late. Due to the public holiday, visitors who had no reservations were only allowed in before 3pm, and since I had no reservation, I had to make some alternate arrangements to stay the night. The Falls Guest House, just outside the reserve is beautiful, in one of the wine farms, and quite well priced. Slight change in plans, so the falls will only be tomorrow.

Desert Wine

Upington may not be as famous as Stellenbosch, but it is the centre of the "Orange River Wine Route", which apparently specialises in sweet wines. This picture does not do the contrast of green vineyards against the surrounding semi-desert landscape justice.

Engineering Birds

Quite a few telephone and electricity poles on the N14, near Upington, is covered with humongous bird nests. This one was particularly impressive.

Long Road Ahead

The 160 Km of tarmac between Kuruman and Upington, was rather lonely with other vehicles very few, and far between. The road wasn't particularly interesting either - largely long and straight.

Cattle Country

Vryburg and Kuruman advertise a lot of cattle ranches - but this one particularly vexed me. Since "Brahman" refers to the high caste in Hinduism, the priests and scholars. Does this imply that the ranch is owned by a Hindu (an Indian rancher in Vryburg would be particularly interesting cultural mix at farm fairs I would think) or does the rancher think that his cows are particularly holy (and thereby much better than the rest). And off course, the stand out question - is the rancher ranching for beef or for milk?

Roadtrip: Morning Notes

It is easy to wake up early when camping; especially when you go to sleep a lot earlier :) I have not had so many mosquitos pestering me, since my time in the Amazon (where even heavy duty DEET had very little impact) - however, these mossies were definitely of the lower evolution chain - very slow and easy to kill - and my all natural insect repellant did work quite well (except it did nothing for the annoying buzzing noise). There is also a very strong wind this morning; and while my tent was very secure; it did make quite some noise!

The campsite/B&B is quite nice - much nicer than I would expect in a small town to be honest. The cheese maker and his wife also run a conference/wedding/function venue and it seems to be very well organised. There are also two caravans here - but these are more permanent residents - two contractors; working for about 15 months in a nearby plant (I assume it is the towering NWK mill by the road). The two contractors have gone home for Christmas; and the other two people from last night who were also looking for accommodation are not here; maybe they did find somewhere else.

Today, the intention is to drive all the way to Augrabies; and maybe have a good lunch at Upington; since it is the only big town between here and Cape Town, and it should have restaurants/takeaways open.

24 December 2009

Roadtrip: Midrand to Delareyville

I got away later than expected; closer to 15h30 instead of the wished 13h00. Part of that was due to work commitments; and part of it due to delayed planning in packing a few minutes before leaving.

As expected; the scenery on the road was rather dull - miles and miles of farmland; although the greenery against the red soil; against a clear blue sky could be quite a contrast at times.

The traffic was quite light; so it was easy to maintain a decent speed limit; but with the amount of police coverage; I didn't try to go too fast. I counted at least 5 roadblocks in the trip, with many more patrols.

Initially I thought of stopping at Baberspan Bird Sanctuary, but there was a notice on an e-coli outbreak in the dam; so I didn't see the point in risking the area. Delareyville was only 30 Km further, so it made sense to continue - although I started regretting the decision when I couldn't find a single place to stay. The first B&B I tried was open when I got there; but the receptionist abruptly said they were closing down for Christmas. After driving around the town a bit (small, pretty unremarkable), I came to a B&B and camping site (Pigmy B&B) just outside the town. Owned by a cheese farmer and his wife; it has pretty good facilities (decided to save some money and camp) although there are a lot of mossies around.


I am taking the long way to Cape Town - via the Northern Cape; visiting Augrabies, and then the west coast. It's a long weekend; and a good time to travel I think. Haven't really done much planning - booked no accomodation; though do have a tent, sleeping bag, lots of water and some snacks. Will try to post blog posts along the way ... if there is 3G coverage off course!

Movie: Avatar

Part Sci-Fi, part fantasy, part a crusade against greed and rampant destruction of the environment; Avatar is a visual feast. It is a stunning blend of CGI and live action; and the CGI is better than any other movie I have seen before; in terms of facial animation, movement and even the explosions. I watched it a 3D cinema, and while the 3D imagery was immersive; I think it actually detracted from the movie.

The storyline of the movie was however rather thin and predictable. This was a standard storyline from other movies that explored colonialism. It is a mix of "modern" people meeting a new race, not understanding them, infiltrating their ranks, falling in love, gaining acceptance, betrayal as the "modern" people try to commit genocide; and off course requiring the adopted hero to save the day. And even the alien world - while fantasticaly created in amazing level of detail; is not really that much different from Earth - the Na'vi (the intelligent alien race) has similar cultural traits to most aboriginal cultures in the world; the animals are a lot like existing or past animals on Earth (the triceratops look alikes etc).

But it does push the boundaries of movie making; and champions environmentalism and the impact of pursuing large civil projects over understanding the environmental impacts. It is a movie worth watching simply because of its scale and visual beauty.