Socks and Underwear

Socks and Underwear

Saturday, October 1, 2011


My friend from home came to South Africa for only a couple of weeks but we managed to have an eventful trip and I enjoyed myself thoroughly and I am pretty sure he did as well. We traveled far and spent a couple of days on the road but I think it was worth it for my friend to see such different and beautiful parts of South Africa. And although I had seen almost every area we had traveled to, there were activities I had not done for my two years so I managed to have a fresh experience.

Here is the basic itinerary of our trip: Joburg => Sabie => Through Kruger into Mbabane in Swaziland (long day) => Back into South Africa to Coffee Bay (really long day) => Plettenberg Bay => Hermanus => Cape Town. When all was said and done we had put 4000 km on the rental car, ate like kings, and jumped off of many ledges of varying height.

I only uploaded the pictures from the first half of the trip but I will (eventually) get to the second half.


I have missed a couple off opportunities to kloof and would have been remiss if I didn't try my best to do it before I left. Thankfully, my friend was up for a bit of adventuring so we got in there despite the cold water. A "kloof" is a canyon in Afrikaans and basically you hike, climb, jump and swim along the river. It was incredibly fun.

A fellow from the backpacker guided us through and roughly split the kloofing into 4 different sections of which I can only remember 3 and the last part was the hike up the kloof back to the car. The first part was made up mostly of the smaller rocks and the gentle flow of water seen above. The second part which I did not include a representative picture of was characterized by much larger boulders that required some difficult maneuvering. There were frequent slips resulting in small cuts and bashed fingers, shins and tail bones. Minor injuries really make you feel alive, don't they?

The next time I go through High School this is going to be my senior picture and my quote will be "Don't go chasing waterfalls, please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to. I know that you're gonna have it your way or nothing at all but I think you're moving too fast."

While beautiful in its own right, this crevasse leads to a stunning water fall called Pixie Falls. I couldn't bring my camera because there was no way it would not have gotten water logged so just imagine water falling from top of the rocks to the water below.

We ended at Mac Mac falls which was a rewarding finish. We attempted to swim to where the falls was but there were too much resistance and our stamina was all but depleted. Later on at the beach, my friend and I agreed we would not go down the falls in a barrel.

Panorama Route

I should mention that many of these pictures if not most are not mine but my friend's. He bought a swanky new camera for the trip and it had a nice panorama function which came in especially handy for the Panorama route. This drive is along the Blyde River Canyon which I had not seen on my 2 previous visits to the area. After kloofing we headed out to see as much of it as we could before it started to rain. Our first stop was the Three Rondavals which are the three cone shaped peaks in the center of the picture. Well alright it is more like one cone (rondaval) and two domes but it's pretty close.

Next stop was the Bourke's Luck Potholes. The water has done funny things to these rocks which in turn makes the water split off into different streams, then gather into pools and then converge again at the bottom. It was fascinating to watch but we had a quick once over so we could see one more part of the route before the rain came.

Our last stop was at Lisbon Falls which was nice and large but it didn't move us as much as it might have if we hadn't been directly under Mac Mac falls earlier in the day. After this we raced out to see God's Window but the clouds and the rain rolled in so we didn't get much of a view.


After two years I managed to go to just about every game park in South Africa except for Kruger. I had heard all the rationalizations for not going- it is too big to see anything, too expensive, too busy with people- but I figured I would give it a shot for my last adventure. We focused on the very southern part of the park since we were only driving through it for the day but it was probably the best game park experience I had in South Africa.

We spent all day in the park and saw many interesting animals but the day instantly was noteworthy after we saw this wild dog. We actually saw two wild dogs that appeared to have just been fighting each other and this one had a damaged leg. Too bad for the dog but it was nice and slow when it skittered off so we got a nice view.

I have seen elephants in many game parks and while I have become somewhat jaded, I really never tire of seeing them. It was a nice change of pace to be with someone seeing them for the first time because the joy is contagious. Anyhow we were in the right place and time for a large herd of elephants to cross the road. There were a couple elephants that bucked at the car to let us know that they didn't really like us being so close to them and it made me think what I was going to do when the elephants charged the car. I didn't come up with much more than to curl up into a ball and cry hard enough to make the elephants pity me.

All the rare and most interesting animal sighting were near the end of the day. We had to get out of the park but it is hard to pull yourself away from staring at rhinos in the middle of the road. Also the rhinos were quite expertly blocking our path and there was no way I was going to just drive past like they couldn't destroy the car without hesitation. We called the insurance company later to find out if we were covered in the event of rhino collision. We were covered if you are curious.

We saw a leopard! It was just walking in the middle of the road. It did not even seem to care that we were right in front of it and then following it as far as we could. It was probably groggy from waking up from a CAT NAP but a sleepy leopard sighting is still a leopard sighting. The giddiness in the car afterwards was at the level of school girl giddiness.


After Kruger we drove into Swaziland and stayed for the night. The next day we continued down towards the coast. I am sure there are things to do and see in Swaziland but we were really driving through because it was the most direct route to where we wanted to go. It also brought up my tally of Southern African countries I have been to.

It was a lovely drive. We managed to get lost because we were busy looking at the scenery and conversing but the people we asked for directions were kind and helpful so it all worked out.

Swazi merchant shack. It is pretty similar to a South African merchant shack but a trained eye can tell the difference.


The Bloukrans bridge. The jump is 261 m. There are jagged rocks at the bottom to dash your brains out and demolish your bones if the rope happens to snap.

They somehow managed to get a pretty decent picture of my jump. This is deceiving because it looks like I am going to push out with my knees at this point and do a nice dive but in actuality I got the Fear at this point and my legs locked up and I just kind of dropped in that position.

My friend had a much more graceful dive off the bridge. They should use this picture for advertisement. I will accept payments on his behalf.

Again, they did an excellent job at taking the photos at the right time. They got me just at the point were my weighty head started to tip towards the ground so it looks like I managed to dive off.

All the adrenaline was dumped into our bloodstream and then our blood violently sloshed into our heads, how could we not be thrilled?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Extreme Tubing is Extreme

I didn't finish everything about Peace Corps, I didn't even come close. Luckily, Peace Corps taught me how to cope with failure and broken promises so I will be able to move on. Next time I am in the same location for a long period of time and with internet I will try again.

Tom is here now and we have started our trip. We stopped over in Sabie first and did a trio of activities. Our first one was tubing down the Sabie river. Unfortunately I have no pictures of the actual event because the guides warned that the camera would get destroyed and they were correct in saying so. We went down the largest rapids I have been in and it was a great deal of fun. I am in a bit of a rush because we have a long trip ahead of us now, hopefully I can get to the rest of it later!

Post tubing. The adrenaline and endorphins are allowing us to smile for the photo.

I found this watch near the beginning of Peace Corps in the ocean. The tubing killed it. Poseidon giveth and he taketh away.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


This country has been good to me as far as vacations go. Being low on funds and a dirty backpacker didn't prevent me from seeing much of South Africa and many parts of the rest of Southern Africa too. I cannot say whether other Peace Corps volunteers in other countries have such rich opportunities to explore on a volunteer stipend but I am thankful that I was able to travel as much as I did. Having seen and done so much here has made me ashamed of how little I have traveled in my own country which I will have to start remedying when I get back. Highlights and ahem official trips:

Wild Coast (Coffee Bay)

Cape Town and more and more and more and more/ WHS: Robben Island / WHS: Cape Floral Kingdom

Blyde River Canyon / Fanie Botha Hike

World Cup

I never posted anything decent during World Cup. Here is a short one to make up for it.

That's my hooligan face. The face painting on the left cheek is of an American Bald Eagle flying with an English Palace Guard in its talons. If I were British I would describe it as cheeky. Incidentally, I got a chance to be an actual soccer hooligan, not my finest moment but I stand by my actions.

Top Five World Cup Moments

1. Winning in the final moments to beat Algeria. It was my Vuvuzela-ing that inspired Landon Donovan to score that goal. He told me so. Afterwards there were Americans and Algerians celebrating in the same areas without a skuffle. The Algerians I talked to were in good humor about everything and nice guys.

2. Traveling on a packed Khumbi to a watch a game in a fan park. Fervent nationalism is ok when it is put towards something innocuous like world sporting events. It was a lot of fun trying to sing songs we all knew (Most everyone was 3 sheets to the wind) which eventually got around to Bingo was his Name-o and other classics. I think all of the other soccer fans thought we had lost our minds.

3. Being in a taxi in downtown Pretoria during their win against France. Every radio and t.v. was tuned to the game and after each goal everything pretty much shut down for a 3 minute period to dance/blow vuvuzela/cheer. It was amazing.

4. Wallet returned to volunteer with everything from Taxi Rank. You could tell that most people were going out of their way to make sure everyone had a good time without problems. One of the more impressive stories was of a volunteer who left behind his wallet on a taxi which is usually a situation where you can kiss that wallet goodbye. But in this instance it was returned to the volunteer intact. The driver took the wallet out in an empty taxi to meet him 15 minutes away. Maybe that last part doesn't sound like much but it is quite remarkable based on normal taxi behavior.

5. Returning to my site and talking with people in the neighboring village. With wide grins, they welcomed me and asked if I was visiting for World Cup. For context it is important to remember that I lived in a village hundreds of kilometers form the nearest stadium and this was after I had already been at site for a year. These guys were a few beers deep but it was a nice change for people's default reaction to strangers to be hospitable and welcoming. World Cup often brought out the best in people.

This is a pretty accurate picture of what it was like being there: blurry!

Parent's Trip

This is another one that I failed to document at all. Here are some highlights featuring moments from: Kimberely / Mountain Zebra and Addo Elephant Parks / The Garden Route / West Coast

The Kimberly mine is the largest hand dug hole in the world. It is a bittersweet accomplishment because of course it was all for shiny gems and was essentially done with slave labor but it is still an amazing feat.

This was at at the Mountain Zebra National Park. I want to say this a Hartebeast so I will. It didn't have much of the Big 5 but the scenery was amazing and we saw many ungulates.

This is an impala which is a common sighting in game parks. Tour guides often say they are the McDonald's of the wild because they are "fast food". They also happen to have a white "M" on their butts. This is undeniable proof of Intelligent Design.

Addo Elephant Park. There was a hide you could sit in and watch elephant at this watering hole. It has be reaffirmed that they don't snort the water up their trunks for a drink. Well, they do but then they squirt it in to their mouths. This is directed at anybody learned in the ways of elephant ear, nose and throat passages, can they just snort it all they way through the trunk if they had to? This is important.

We spotted this elephant walking in the trees and followed it as it came out to the street. It then proceeded to walk right down the car path and walk straight at the tiny car behind us and just about crushed it. The lesson to be learned there is that elephants always have the right of way.

My parents and I went to the most Southern Point of Africa in Cape Agulhas. At that point is the official line separating the Indian and Pacific oceans. I bet it was really hard finding that line.

PENGUINS! They smell terrible but watching them waddle around is amusing.

This is actually from when my sister came to visit and we saw penguins but now is the time to talk about penguins so you must excuse the trip mixing. I have never been closer to stealing a penguin egg than at this moment. College did not prepare me for the decision. Ultimately I decided I wouldn't be able to properly raise a penguin in the desert so I left it be. I know, I made the wrong decision.

The greatest man I know. I will give you one guess what his name is and what his relation to me is.

Southern Right Wales playing. I was able to see a whale breech only once but it was incredible.

Post Office Tree in Mossel Bay. The Portuguese used it to post messages back and forth to each other on voyages. Who says post office history can't be fascinating?

The hike out to see these cave paintings (Pictographs) in Clanwilliam just about killed my parents. For our effort, I discovered that I draw slightly worse than these early human ancestors or relatives. Who says prehistoric human art can't be fascinating?

Augrabies Waterfall during the low season. There were pictures of the falls during floods and it is much more intense. They don't let people in during those times because they would probably die. Who says waterfalls in the Northwest Province of South Africa can't be fascinating? I'll stop that now.

There were hundreds of these brightly colored lizards at the falls. This one would have made a great companion for my pet penguin.

Namibia : Fish River Canyon (WHS: Richterveld- Ais Ai Transfronteir Park- I am just slipping this in here because technically I only went to Namibia side but I am counting that as my visit to the park because it was hard to get out there.) / Sossusvlei

And the Rest of Nambia in:
Lost Blogs Post Volume III: Nambia Part II - Episode 2 Dune King

That big white part in the middle of the picture puts the vlei in Sossusvlei. I am sure its creation is complicated but it was explained to me that the geography and wind make it so the it is a hot windless dead zone. In my experience this was true.

We raced out of the camp as early as we could to sit on the dunes and watch the sunrise. It was a moment to realize how lucky I was to be able to do what I was doing.

My name is Noah. I climbed a dune and I own a puffy blue coat.

We sort of leached onto another tour group and the guide was telling us that the trees in the vlie (salt flat) are 900 years old. Apparently there was also a Playboy photo shoot next to these trees. Yes I also posed next to the trees. I am saving that picture for my collection of pictures where I am standing like a oddball next to trees, I already have quite a few.

WHS: St. Lucia / ImFolozi-Hluluwe

When I was in St. Lucia I met a couple of French people who were going to the nearby game parks and they let me come along. It was especially fun because all their exclamations were as French as T.V. and movies have led me to believe. "Oooh lalalala, Magnifique!"

Road snake. The rarest of all pathway snakes.

Just once I'd like to see a rhino do something violent with that horn. Is that too much to ask?

Cape Buffulo from a distance. Still, it can still be seen that they are massive. Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

If you think this is a giraffe then you are correct.

Would a cowboy look silly or even cooler riding on a zebra? I bet Marlboro has already done extensive research on this very question.

This warthog was right at the gate with many humans milling about (including me) and no one was particularly worried. I feel he is just acclimatizing us all until he springs his trap.

The only lion, or large cat, I have seen in a game park. I slightly got out of the car to take a better picture and the lion stood up and looked straight at me with those yellow eyes (my god he had yellow eyes). I don't know if I have ever been that immediately terrified before.

Baboons are pretty much everyone in South Africa and this was on the way back to St. Lucia. This one makes the cut because it is carrying a bouncing baboon baby boy (I don't know if it is a boy but "girl" ruins the alliteration, it's not bouncing either).

WHS: Drakensurg / Lesotho

I did in fact complete my WHS Quest and the rest of the sites are coming soon: WHS: Cradle of Humankind / WHS: Vredefort Dome/ WHS: Mapungubwe