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).

31 December 2014

Table Mountain via Kasteelspoort and Corridor Ravine

I have hiked up Table Mountain numerous times, but yesterday was the first time I went up on the Camps Bay side of the mountain. Thanks to R, who seems to go up on the various routes up table mountain often, K and I got a different experience up the mountain.

We started at intersection of Kloofnek, Signal Hill and Table Mountain - and the first few kilometres is quite an easy countour path (I see it is often referred to as the pipe track); with glorious views of Camps Bay and Lion's Head. Unfortunately, the thick tablecloth at the top meant that the views from the top were non existent.

The push up Kasteelspoort is relatively steep, but well maintained path. With the strong wind and thick cloud, I found the last push to be difficult but I think this route is actually easier than Platteklip Gorge.

We stayed only for a short while at the top (given the absence of any views); and and down the Corridor Ravine - about 1 Km away. The descent was steep, on a rocky and sandy trail which eventually meets up with a jeep track around the base. Once we cleared the cloud, there was a great view of the 12 Apostles Hotel and surrounding area.

I am not sure I can rely on Strava's data from yesterday, but it looks accurate based on the other data I have seen. The full path was approx 14 Km, with the one major ascent, which is a good distance and route profile for a day hike.

27 December 2014


Reuben Reifel is one of South Africa's most well known chefs; especially with his more recent appearances as a judge on Masterchef and in TV adverts. Last year, our trip to Franschoek was not planned in advance; so getting a table at a well known restaurant was out of the question. So, this year these things were planned better ...

The food lived up to the reputation - simple style, great presentation and amazing taste.

The starter, which M & I shared, was probably the most different - trout with various pickled vegetables. 

M had the Kinglip with oyster and mussel sauce and I had a chicken and prawn curry. M doesn't like mussels much but there want much left on the plate afterwards! The curry was surprisingly sweet but very flavorful. I didn't think all the accompaniments worked though - the chilli oil for example didn't make sense with the style of curry and I didn't like the carrot sambal (bottom right of the picture) at all. 

The sparsely named "salted caramel tart" turned out to be an elaborate chocolate based dessert - really rich and decadent. I had the panna cotta, with various fruits - a combination that was far superior to the other versions I have had before with berry coulois as a topping for the panna cotta. Ultimately, I suppose that is one of the key differences between the fine dining and regular restaurants.

Swartberg Pass

I read an article some years back on the spectacular unpaved Swartberg Pass connecting Prince Albert and Oudtshoorn; and have wanted to drive over since. 

It is one of the best mountain roads I have traversed (admittedly some in Peru were at night). The narrow road winds itself up the Swartberg mountains with scenic views of the valley below on one side and the cliffs on the other. It was a cloudy day, and the temperature dropped  15 degrees to a chilly 12 degrees at the top! 

The drive down to Oudtshoorn was shorter; with the fertile ground below. It's well worth the detour!


The original plan yesterday was to try to go see the Cango Caves, but I was aware that getting tickets without booking was unlikely. I also wanted a detour; and the co-owner of the BnB at Graaff-Reinet highly recommended the first part of the detour - driving through Meiringspoort. It's a spectacular gorge, with a small river and the N12. Clearly the local authorities have worked out the touristic propositions and there are lots of rest places (with braai and toilet facilities) along the route. With a public holiday, it was very busy - and the caves didn't work out - but the detours were definitely worth it!

26 December 2014

Hester Rupert Art Museum

Housed in an old Dutch Reformed Church, which was saved from demolition by businessman Anton Rupert, the art gallery has a wide variety of South African artwork, mainly from the 1960s. There is no real theme, but there is probably something of interest for everyone. 

25 December 2014


I didn't do a lot of South African history at school, but for some reason the town of Graaff-Reinet stuck in my memory. Looking for a slightly alternate way to drive to Cape Town, I decided to stop here and then follow the Swartberg range. An old town, it has some spectacular architecture - especially around the magnificent old church in the centre. Almost everything is closed today - giving this old town an even more deserted feel. 

Valley of Desolation

Located in the Camdeboo National Park outside Graaff-Reinet, the valley is best known for its spectacular rock formations  against a backdrop of the Karoo. The late afternoon sunshine lit up sections spectacularly - but I didn't manage to get such good photos :(

18 December 2014

Movie: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

The final instalment of The Hobbit, starts with the spectacular sequence of Smaug burning down Laketown and his ultimate demise at the hand of the Bard. Unfortunately, this is also probably the only real highlight of the movie - a franchise that has strayed often too far from the story, and extended the plot line for no real reason. 

The entire movie is about a battle - but much of it feels forced and over the top for no reason. As an example, it feels strange that suddenly the emergence of the 13 dwarves would immediately turn around the fortunes of the Dwarven and Eleven sides against the thousands of Orcs - a battle that was clearly being lost. 

All in all, while being entertaining from an action movie perspective - the series has not risen to the heights of Lord of the Rings. It's sad - I think the Tolkien universe has a lot to offer - but not in this way.

15 December 2014

The Foo Fighters

In one of my classes in high school, I sat next to a guy who was Nirvana devotee - his pencil case was devoted to Kurt Cobain, he doodled Nirvana logos all the time, and etched Nirvana on desks. This was still a few years after Nirvana disbanded, but I was introduced to Nirvana and related bands such as Foo Fighters through him. Although I really got into Nirvana, I only occasionally listen to Foo Fighters; thus when the concerts were announced, I didn't rush to get tickets.

I did however read about their amazing concerts, and given that Kaiser Chiefs were also on the bill; I sourced some tickets via gumtree (at cost - so no scalpers prices required). The concert itself was sold out of standing and golden circle - but quite a lot of the stadium seating remained open.

I am glad I went - this was one of the best, if not the best, concert I have attended. It did not have pyrotechnic effects, or amazing lighting effects. It was just a long and energetic performance with amazing crowd rapport from Dave Grohl.

I have avoided parking at the FNB Stadium previously - but the park and ride options this time around were not ideal. The parking itself was easy to access, and well controlled; getting out however was a nightmare with very little co-ordination and control of traffic flow. Once inside the stadium, the food and merchandise stands were equally badly managed with long queues, so much so, that we ended up missing most of BLK JKS.

The last performance of Kaiser Chiefs I attended also involved Jared Leto's 30 Second to Mars, and featured Jared Leto climbing up scaffolding "to see the crowd better". Clearly front man Ricky Wilson (who also donned the Kaizer Chiefs jersey with his name on the back) learnt something - the performance was amazingly athletic; with him running across the stage, and climbing scaffolding a few times. I haven't heard much of the new album; but the performance was a combination of some of the great hits together with the new album and it was great to hear them live again.

After a couple of songs from the Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl commented that they are not "a 1 hour 30 minute band, not a 1 hour 45 minute band ... not a 2 hour 30 minute band" but rather, they will play until they can't play no more. This is not a new claim by headline acts - but for once the band delivered. For close to 3 hours, with no breaks in between, the Foo Fighters went through their repertoire - songs from every album, a song from Queen, and even a song with Dave Grohl drumming (cover of a Cheap Trick song).

The performance was a perfect example in how the live performances can be so different (and in my mind better) than the recorded albums. From additional chorus renditions, to leading the crowd through singing choruses, to long musical interludes within the song - it was an amazing concert performance.

13 December 2014

Movie: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

Of the three Hunger Games novels, Mockingjay is the most complicated - but I don't think it warranted a split into two parts; especially when the first part of the story is basically a set-up towards the finale. The acting is mostly mundane (including very wooden performances by actors such as Julianne Moore), and nothing really happens - although the experience does feel a bit short-changed. I think movies like these, should really be released close to each other, or just combined to be one large movie.

16 November 2014

Cape Town Tango Ensemble @ The Orbit

The Cape Town Tango Ensemble (or at least a part of them) flew up to give a recital at The Orbit last night; with support from some local musicians (Elena Zlatkova on violin and Tambinkosi Mavimbela on double bass) with Melanie Scholtz providing vocals. The ensemble is featured quite often on Classic FM (and the Cape's Fine Music Radio), and their live performance did not disappoint. The performance was a mixture of "classic" tango music, heavily featuring Argentinian composer Astor Piazolla, as well as the ensemble's own compositions.

14 November 2014

JPO's 3rd 2014 Season, 2nd Concert: Azerbaijan

For the 2nd and last concert of the season, the JPO had a special concert on the music of Azerbaijan, sponsored by the Azerbaijani Embassy. Earlier this year, the JPO was the orchestra for the Gabala music festival, and the return leg featuring music from Azerbaijan was a good showcase of global music.

Every piece performed was a good departure from the traditional fare. Quite a bit of the music felt like film scores - of a piece trying to tell a tale. The cultural influences of Arabian and Western European musical styles made a great contrast - and was very enjoyable to listen to. I particularly enjoyed the Piano Concerto - which had amazing contrast between the Western and Arabian styles; for both the orchestra and the pianist.

This is the type of concert that the JPO should perform more of. Unfortunately, the marketing seemed to be a let down once again, and the attendance was very poor. A pity - it was a great concert. I would actually go as far as saying, it was one of the best JPO concerts I have been to.

Amirov's Azerbaijan Capriccio
Hajibeyov's Caravan
Amirov & Nazirova's Piano Concerto on Arabian Themes
Ibramimova's Confession for Cello, Piano and Strings
Garayev's Adagio & Waltz from the Seven Beauties Ballet

Conductor: Yalchin Adigezalov
Cellist: Aleksey Miltykh
Pianist: Saida Tagi-Zadeh

09 November 2014

Movie: Interstellar

It is part a movie about extinction - of humans, part a movie about exploration and the bravery of explorers of the unknown; and partly a movie about mysticism and time travel paradoxes. Interstellar is visually stunning, with an amazing cast and script that manages to narrate what survival of the human species beyond Earth might actually mean. 

In a near future, Earth's agriculture is failing, people have died in mass from starvation, and it is clear that the end is nigh. Almost as a last ditch attempt, Matthew McConaughey leads a team to a different galaxy via a mysterious wormhole to try find a new world for humans. Others have gone before to try identify potential worlds - now is the time to pick one so that humanity can continue. The plot, with its twist and turns is amazing (complete with the very well known time travel paradox) - and the only negative I have is the last few scenes before the finale as Matthew's character re-connects with humanity. If it was to be done, it should have been done a lot better. I am not sure if it needed to be done in the first place.

The visuals are spectacular - not only of the strange and alien worlds (much filmed on Earth, not necessarily effects); but also of Earth itself, as it grinds to dust. This is a movie that must be watched on a big screen - the bigger the better. With only two Imax cinemas in South Africa, the choices are limited - but it is certainly worth it.

30 October 2014

JPO's 3rd 2014 Season, 1st Concert

To call it a 3rd season is overly generous - after all, there are only 2 concerts!That said, the line-up for both concerts is quite interesting and some shows are better than no shows! Last night's concert, in some ways, encapsulated two of the big problems with the current state of the JPO - poor communication and poor attendance. I am a subscriber, but I only got a SMS about the concerts the day before - certainly not the best way to advertise at such short notice. There were apparently emails, but quite a few people didn't seem to get them. There were apparently a few radio ads also - but in the age of so many communication mediums, it is quite sad that the JPO can't seem to get the word out that that there are actually performing! Poor attendance obviously flows from poor communication and marketing, and it certainly doesn't help the JPO's financial position, sponsorship and ultimately its future prospects.

Starting the evening off, was Grieg's Holberg Suite. I have heard most of the individual components a number of times on radio - especially Sarabande and Rigaudon - but this was the first time I have heard them all together. It was a fun piece, and very easy to appreciate - and certainly a good piece to kick off a concert!

Multiple competition winner, Russian pianist Andrey Pisarev, played a double concerto bill of Chopin's First and Second Piano Concertos. Like the performance last year, Andrey Pisarev, seemed to be in his own world; looking only at the piano or the conductor during his performance. His fingers flew across the keyboard - something that was quite fun to watch, especially in the virtuoso parts of the performance - but he was far more reserved. It was a great performance, and I think I am getting to like Chopin more and more - but not necessarily as personable as Alexander Lubyantsev last year.

28 October 2014

Movie: La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty)

Lavishly set amongst some of the finest art and architecture in Rome, La Grande Bellezza, or The Great Beauty is a visual masterpiece - but with seemingly no plot and no real storyline. The film revolves around a great (fictional) Italian author, Jep Gambardella, who starts to question his lavish, partying lifestyle upon his 65th birthday - but doesn't really come to any meaningful conclusions. It is a visual masterpiece, backed by an amazing sound track - and in a few places - some amazing dialogue (his assessment of the failures of one his ego-seeking friends is probably worth the ticket price); but there is no meaningful story, and in the end quite unsatisfying.

26 October 2014

War Horse

The UK's National Theatre's performance of War Horse has had rave reviews and the marketing hype for the South African performances has been like no other theatre performance. The hype is definitely warranted - this is certainly one of the best live performances (of any genre) I have attended.

Part of the spectacle, is off course the puppets - especially the large horse puppets - whose movements are so well crafted, that the puppeteers blend into the background; and are completely unobtrusive. This is not Punch and Judy - the puppets manage to convey amazing emotion, and natural movement; and presence -  that it is sometimes easy to forget that these are actually puppets.

 Backing the puppeteers amazing craft, is a superb cast of actors and lighting and stage effects - that manage to completely portray the horrors and cruelty of war. It is a visual feast, that sucks the audience in completely. It is a great story - but it is amazing creativity that has managed to translate the story so completely for a stage performance.

25 October 2014

Johnny Clegg - Best, Live & Unplugged

Johnny Clegg's current tour is more than just a musical performance of his best hits, arranged acoustically. Yes - all the big hits are there, including performances with Sipho Mchunu - but there are also a few obscure pieces. But more than the music - it is a discourse on South African culture.

In between the songs, Johnny Clegg discussed difference in instrumentation, the impact of migration on the change of culture and its eventual impact on new styles of song and dance. It was not just a speech, but as he put it a "show and tell". Off course, this is all wrapped up within the wider context of South Africa's history - not only apartheid, but going further back to colonial times such as the Battle of Isandlwana and its inspiration for Impi.

20 years into South Africa's rainbow nation - the discourse in cultural roots, transformation and amalgamation is still missing. While this is a very personal discourse from Johnny Clegg, it provides a glimpse into how various traditions of culture and music have influenced South African music.

22 October 2014

Movie: Dracula Untold

There have been a few "origins" movies in the past few years - movies to explain the origins of a famous character (or in the case of Planet of the Apes, an entire species). And in most of these, a feature has been to humanise the characters even more. 

In this regard, Dracula Untold, boldly ventures forth into turning one of the major villains in modern English literature to, not only a hero, but one that should be applauded and revered. The movie does manage to expand the powers of Dracula, and how he comes to actually save Europe from being taken over by the evil Ottoman empire (where the emperor seems to have an army similar to Game of Thrones' Unsullied); and eventually becomes a vampire in order to defeat this army and save "his people".

Plot holes aside, there are two impressive acting performances by Luke Evans (in the title role) and Charles Dance (as Dracula's sire) and great visual effects. It is a fun action movie - but ultimately, it is different to the original concept of Dracula - and thus ends up making a new anti-hero, as opposed to rehabilitating a villain.

19 October 2014

Movie: Gone Girl

M has been raving about the works of the author Gillian Flynn since the beginning of the year. Based on Gone Girl - I can see why. The plot is superbly paced, with some great twists - and enough ambiguity in its ending, to cater for multiple versions of "why". The acting is superb, and this is an excellent twist on the "whodunit" genre. Perhaps, I should read the books ...

11 October 2014

Adapt or Fly

Pieter-Dirk Uys' new one man show, Adapt or Fly, currently on at the Market Theatre, feels like a farewell show - a compilation of his time in South Africa's theatre circuit. I haven't seen his full one man shows before, so the format was a bit strange - the combination of political commentary, various characters and impersonations and personal reflection did not have a cohesive theme - but that is not to say, it was a bad show. It was not a stand-up comedy routine, but it was not a play. But it was funny, often serious in its subject matter, and sometimes poignant.

It was just strange - but completely worth it.

06 October 2014

Movie: Roadmap to Apartheid

In Roadmap to Apartheid, shown in the recent Tri-Continent Film Festival, the film-makers compare the Israel to Apartheid South Africa, with the Israelis taking the position of the oppressive regime. With the recent war in Gaza, it was a timely documentary, even though the movie was released in 2012.

There are striking similarities - but there are just as many striking differences. For example, the Apartheid South African economy was almost slavery, while Israel does not depend on Palestinians for its economy. Likewise, the demographic differences are more equivalent - unlike minority oppression in Apartheid South Africa.

That said, the Israeli occupation is brutal - and this is a great documentary in providing context to a number of key issues - such as what exactly is a settlement, or what are the 1967 borders, and for that matter, what was the original border. It is in the brutality, and the exposure of the brutality that the movie is at its most powerful. It does not require equivalence to other immoral regimes to be itself, a immoral regime. It is also one sided - not that it excuses Israeli oppression - but at very least, the context of Palestinian movements has some foundation other than political rhetoric.

The documentary ends in a surprisingly upbeat tone - focusing on the BDS movement, which has gained increasing prominence in the recent past. While I think the BDS movement has laudable aims, unfortunately, it will require political will to actually reverse the scenario. Sanctions against Apartheid after all were political in nature - not just at individuals and companies. For the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to end, it requires compromise from both sides, and it requires visionary leadership from both sides. Fundamentally, I think the conflict is fuelled by, what is effectively racism, on both sides. For it to end, it will require a Mandela, or a Gandhi, on both sides. 

What it means for the interim, is just more conflict.

28 September 2014

Movie: Miners Shot Down

Miners Shot Down (IMDB, website) is possibly the most important social documentary on South Africa in the past 20 years. As per the director's comments after the screening yesterday, this film is unequivocally about the miner's story - and it pulls no punches. 

It is actually mind numbing to realise that there is no re-enactment - that the videos; pulled from news organisations, Lonmin, the police and the commission of enquiry - is all real. And it does feature footage and interviews with most of the key players in the story - the miners, the mine bosses, the trade union leaders, the police and journalists. And it is an indictment on the failure of broad based economic transformation - in the words of one of the mining strike leaders - the sons of the miners continue to be relegated to mining, while the sons of the mining bosses continue to be their sons' bosses. It is a cycle of poverty and damnation that has not been addressed where it matters most.

Ultimately, what puzzle me most is, not the question of police brutality - images of Ferguson etc. shows that this seems to be an universal trait when the police are militarised. It is not the question of pressure from Lonmin either - after all, private citizens and corporates have every right to request for political intervention and support of their side of the story. It is rather, how the decision that was made by unnamed persons in the police hierarchy was arrived at. After all, it is clear that the police were instructed to disarm violently - but in the haze of the tear gas and gun smoke, it seems that there is no clear explanation on why and how the decision was arrived at.

The repercussions of the Marikana massacre have already started, and will continue for years to come. Sadly, as the 5 month strike this year has proven, the engagement between miners and the mining bosses continue to the toxic. And while Julius Malema's assertion that Cyril Rapamphosa is a murderer responsible for Marikana is difficult to directly justify - the moral culpability seems too strong to refute.

All in all, it is a great tragedy - for all of us.

24 September 2014

Movie: Boyhood

Boyhood is one of the most critically acclaimed movies, ever. Artistically, as a project, there has been very few with such a grand vision, and even fewer that have pulled it off. 12 years in making, the movie follows the story of a boy as he grows up from age 6 to 18 - with all characters playing the same part, and growing up together. 

But it is not only the concept. The story is simple - the characters, are no superheroes or specifically special; but it manages to stitch together an amazing story, with effectively everyday events. It is a story of a modern family I suppose - divorced parents, remarriage, step siblings, moving homes, changing friends, changing environments (from cellphones that could only text to smartphones for example) and changing music. 

As an artistic endeavour, it is amazing and deserves all the accolades it has received.

Movie: Guardians of the Galaxy

I did not know anything about this Marvel franchise - and to be honest, I was not expecting much more than a standard superhero movie. It has all the trappings of superhero movies - heroes with difficult pasts, villains that want to destroy everything, and helpless innocents to protect in between. What I was not expecting was a comedic gem intertwined with 70s and 80s music hits. Guardians of the Galaxy is not an amazing movie - but it is different to other superhero movies, and great entertainment.

13 September 2014

Movie: Lucy

I wanted to watch Lucy after the trailers, and expected the standard sci-fi plot line - a person gains super-human powers, and there is some ticking timebomb that the heroine needs to stop. That the powers come from ingesting a new synthetic super drug, and the timebomb is a set of a Korean gangsters makes this plotline a bit mundane. But where, the movie really fails is in the pseudo philosophy discussions it tries to disseminate as what holds the movie plotline together. It is scientifically dubious (to put it politely) and nowhere as compelling in other sci-fi plotlines that have tried similar tricks (Matrix comes to mind specifically). Even Morgan Freeman, as the aged genius scientist cannot really rescue this movie - the trailer is the only really good thing about it.

10 September 2014

Initial Thoughts on Apple Pay

There is not much detail available on Apple Pay, announced at Apple's keynote yesterday - but my first thought, was that it resembles an update of Secure Electronic Transaction (SET). Like Apple Pay, SET theoretically allowed for a system where a payment transaction could be conducted without the merchant knowing the payment details and the bank knowing what was purchased. SET and other token based systems (such as a credential based payment system I developed in my PhD) haven't really taken off - although one can argue that Bitcoin is also an evolution of such a system.

The advantage Apple Pay does have, over all others before it, is the massive install base of iPhones and the Apple brand. As long as Apple itself does not fall prey to payment card breaches (and Apple Pay's design of keeping card data on the phone itself, mitigates this risk); Apple should have better success compared to previous attempts. Furthermore, if Apple Pay does work, extending the service to include non-credit card type transactions - such as integration with bank accounts - should not be a challenge either.

07 September 2014

The Otter Trail - Day 5

In the various guides I have read about the Otter Trail, the details of Day 5 seems to be particularly brief. This is a great pity - while the walk itself is relaxed and relatively easy; it was some of the most scenic parts of the hike.

The walk starts off with crossing a gentle stream - Kilp River - that runs next to the rest stop. The biggest challenge in the day's walk is the steep climb up the gorge to the top; a strenuous walk in context of the previous days' efforts.

Most of the walk from here is on the top -  mostly flat with a few ups and downs - along the coast. There are absolutely gorgeous views of sea as it crashes into the rocks below at the bottom of the cliffs, lots of sea birds and the fynbos and proteas in bloom. It is a very scenic walk.

The hike ends with a very steep decent on to the beach of Nature's Valley - a long golden stretch of sand. It is still a bit of a walk to the car park, where we thoroughly enjoyed the hot showers on offer. We finished off our stay at Nature's Valley's (only?) Restaurant with some burgers for lunch - before starting the trek back home.

06 September 2014

The Otter Trail - Day 4

Day 4 of the trail is the longest and most strenuous (so far at least). The day is complicated by the crossing of the Bloukrans river, and unfortunately low ride was around 07:30 this morning (or at 20:00). The river itself is a grueling 10km hike from the 3rd day rest-stop - which is itself longer than any of the other day's hikes.

We started at 04:00, and it was quite disconcerting  to hike in the dark, while hearing the waves crash into the rocks below. With a spotlight, it was easy to see the bottom of the cliffs, and the path was often quite high up. 

Although the trail is well marked, it is quite difficult, with rocks and mud; and I lost my footing quite a few times. I was also quite tired - although not in pain as such - and unfortunately ended up slowing my friends quite a bit.

We made it to the river by 09:00, and the tide was coming in. We further managed to miscount the number of survival bags (2 less), and although RS and D shared a survival bag, they had to come back with a bag to get me. By this time, the crossing was even more difficult, but we did manage to get across safely - although my bag managed to get wet (courtesy of a few holes from rocks) and I managed to loose my glasses courtesy of a wave that was well over my head.

After some coffee and rusks on the other side, and some rudimentary attempts at drying (I was not the only one with a wet bag) - the hike to the next stop started. The 4km was even more strenuous given the exertions already undertaken; carriage of wet items, and some fairly steep climbs. We arrived at the stop in dribs and drabs - but were having lunch by 14:00 ... And complaining of all the pains and aches.

The Otter Trail - Day 3

Day 3 was rather short in distance, and quite relaxed - we only started after 9:30 and made it to the next rest stop by 14:30. 

Unlike the previous two days where the hike was through forests, most of today's hike hugged the coast, through fynbos and grasslands. The coast is quite rugged, making for some amazing scenery.

The day starts by crossing the Geelhoutbos river, which flows right past the rest stop. The crossing is simple - just walk across a the river resembles more of a stream than a river. The next two rivers are harder - for the Elandsbos, we had to wade through at ankle height, and the beach was a good place to stop. The Lottering river, right next to the next rest stop, was a harder affair, with the water at thigh high (although there was deeper parts). 

Later in the afternoon, a large pod of dolphins swam past the river mouth - adding to the whale we saw earlier in the day to our marine mammal count for the day.

05 September 2014

The Otter Trail - Day 2

I woke up this morning with, what I thought was the wind howling outside. It actually took a fee minutes to realise that it was just the waves crashing into the rocks below the cabin. Relieved that I didn't have to trek through wind and rain, I strode outside to try catch the sunrise. Unfortunately east was more behind a hill, spoiling the perfect sunrise on the water imagery!

I managed to get a cellphone signal on the edge of the rocks, where I managed to update my blog. But I also got unfortunate news of an attempted fraud on my credit card - and so spent the next few minutes of my flaky signal canceling the card!

After a decent breakfast of oats so easy and instant cuppachino (our standard breakfast for the hike) we finally got walking. The second day route features a number of climbs, and is hopefully the most strenuous day of hiking. 

The climbing starts immediately, and quite difficult at that - and is only the easiest of the three big climbs. After the first climb, there is an amazing rocky lookout point overlooking the area. 

As we were leaving the outcrop, we met some rangers who were doing trail maintenance who assured us that only the final climb was bad; and it was actually pretty easy going until then. Our experience was unfortunately the opposite - and I certainly feel that the section between the outcrop and the bottom of the last major climb was the most difficult stretch. 

Just over the 75% mark, at the bottom of the last climb, there is a well marked detour to an amazing sandy beach. We spent a good couple of hours; and even though I am not a big fan of beaches; I think. The beach itself was worth the hike.

The final climb was actually not too bad - and the final lookout point had some amazing views. The way down to te second night huts, once again on the beach, was a bit steep - but otherwise unremarkable (in otter trail standards I suppose).

We had dinner of Chinese instant noodles; with some biltong; and even had a visitor in two genets that seemed to be very friendly. They were pretty easy to photograph - and it seems that at least some of the hikers feed them.