Ambling onto The Boland Trail

One of the  easy overnight hikes in the Cape Mountains, within a 100km of Cape Town.

You could go hunting for toadstools in the pine forests of the 70 000 ha Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve, or you could heft a pack onto your back and head up through the Fynbos onto the mountains for the night.

I chose the latter and armed with essentials like camembert and wine, joined Tim Lundy’s small hiking group on the trail up towards the peaks, climbing above the morning mist and leaving the dams glinting far below in the valleys.

We’d chosen to hike from the Nuweberg base to Landdroskop / Shamrock Hut (12km, about 3hrs of moderate hiking, staying over and hiking 7km back down to the start the next morning).

DSC01903Clear streams spilled into hidden valleys, and we stopped to fill our bottles, abandoning city H2O for brackish spring water.

We soon reached the overnight huts, which offered basic dorm accommodation with bunk beds, woodburning stoves and outside “eco” toilets. Two decks and a ‘braai lapa’ (barbecue area) gave us the option of cosying up and ‘braaiing’ (barbecuing), or stretching out on the deck and watching the sun go down.

From the deck of Sham­rock Lodge hut we had massive views over the mountains to the Boland valleys and farms. The next morning we offered oats and honey to the sunrise, stretched and ambled down into the valley for Springbok Pies and coffee at Peregrine Farm Store.

For more information on the Hottentots Holland Reserve and its hikes visit:

Running Mapungubwe – South Africa

The Mapungubwe Transfrontier Wildrun® – A three-day trail running safari adventure through Zimbabwe, Botswana and South African game reserves.

Day 3 – South Africa

Unexpected rain overnight, splattered the dust and cooled the morning. We stood, takkies in hand, ready to splash from the Maramani Community Base Camp in Zimbabwe, across the Limpopo River into South Africa, for the last leg of our trail run into the wild places of the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Park.

Elephant dung cooled and pools of urine marked the path, lion spoor lay fresh over the large lilypad steps of the pachyderms. The rangers paused and held us back, checking the dense riverine undergrowth, before waving us forward.

An old SADF vehicle and barbed wire fenceposts, slowly rusted away the history of old border wars, reminding us that these Parks were once the last bastion against communism and the “gevaar” Africa represented to the Nationalists.

We jogged on, vigilant for far more present danger. The confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo rivers, was marked by a deep pool and a Fever Tree. Beyond, Zimbabwe and Botswana loomed, no more than a stroll over a dry river bed.

Across the veld, against a backdrop of sandstone and conglomerate ridges, elephants stretched their trunks up into the trees. We stopped in the valley, watching them ambling silently through the Mopane scrub, as we munched baby potatoes and sourworms, sipping our morning tea. A pair of black eagles swooped above us, hunting the dassies scurrying over the rocks.

We ran on timelessly through the land, our bodies synching into the rhythm of the herd.

Three bodies buried in massive clay pots, with a wealth of beads and bangles, led archeologists to Mapungubwe’s Lost City of Gold, where communities an aeon ago, lived and played and worshipped their king.

We climbed the 147 steep steps up to the summit, guarded by scores of Baobabs on the surrounding hills. We stepped onto sacred ground, foundations of huts and shards of pottery and beads still evident, transported into an era of early trade with the Arabs, and a peaceful community living off a fertile land. Sadly, the community suffered a period of great drought and disease, and moved away – possibly to Greater Zimbabwe.

Many of the local runners, rangers and officials, who had joined us on the tour of the site, found the experience profound, never having had the privilege of experiencing the place, but realising that their ancestors could have lived there.

10km to go, we raced over rocky tracks, through fine red silt and down to the Limpopo for our last race crossing back into Zimbabwe and the Maramani Community Base Camp. Although we had previously seen crocodiles in the river, we abandoned all fear, splashing and playing  in the water to the finish of our 90km three-day journey.


A final night around the campfire. Eland steaks, mielie pap and sauce topping an extraordinary day, the stories unfolded and the stars came out to play.

Massive thanks to the team that successfully pulled off the World’s first Transfrontier Wildrun. Three outstanding and mind blowing days of cruising the game trails of this ancient landscape. Thanks to the phlethora of immigration and customs officials from all three countries who worked with Wildrun to unlock this iconic primal running experience. Special thanks must go to: Owen and Tamaryn Middleton of WildrunRoland Vorwerk of Boundless Southern Africa, Marion and Fran Siebrits and their crew for the delicious catering, the Wildrun team and the SANParks Honorary Rangers for working so hard to look after the participants and make this event exceptional. Then of course to all the landowners, Sentinel Ranch, Shalimpo & the Northern Tuli Game Reserve, Peace Parks Foundation, the team from Mapungubwe National Park and others who helped to make this event a reality.

Really looking forward to what will most certainly be a capacity event in 2017.

‪#‎wildrun‬‪#‎ExploringWildplaces‬ @wildrunnerza#Wildrun #ExploringWildplacesSee:



AfrikaBurn – a journey into the interior

Once a year, millenials, hipsters, ageing hippies and middle class urbanites abandon their mundane existences and head into the parched hinterland of South Africa to experience a burst of freedom and self-expression in the desert at AfrikaBurn. Transforming the Tankwa Karoo into a fantasy village of theme camps, art, costumes, music and play for a week, AfrikaBurn gives, shares and liberates.

IMG_2798As the Burn begins, the vast space fills with thousands of Burners camped in the desert shale like refugees pimped to party in the dust.


SUV’s are parked, masks and costumes clamber onto mutant trucks blaring beats, fur covered Vespa’s and dayglo bicycles, to follow the fire, music and play.


AfrikaBurn culminates in a series of primitive ritual burns of massive artworks built for the event – crowds clamour, sparks shower and tribal nudists cartwheel around the fiery pyres.

Burn fires

Regrouping through the night around nothing and everything, trails of LED lights follow the moon and the music.


Until the sunrise gong signals a new day, giant bubbles catch the breeze, yoga mantras float on the morning and coffee percolates tired souls.

AfrikaBurn sunrise bubble

Jack Kerouac grafitti scrawled above the Chinese barrister in the coffee tent, sums up the experience: “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

IMG_2942Dusty, partygoers revive and pull on tangled fishnets, corsets, and monster faces. Dancing aliens relentlessly follow the trance and Elvis dances to disco, masked bodies spin on hula hoops.

BurnersHeat forges mirages of vessels sailing across the plain, towards supernatural towers, welded steel beaks and eyes glare across the Binnekring (Inner circle).


The sun reluctantly sinks, tribes gather and disperse and press in again as fires flicker and the burn continues.


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