An Upside Down Christmas

Because I am lucky enough to be able to ‘work from the road’ today I am working from a wine estate in beautiful Stellenbosch. Yes, I am working despite being surrounded by stunning gardens and endless bottles of wine!

It’s 30 degree, tourists are coming and going; wine tasting, having lunch and enjoying the heat. On the rest of the estate, the social enterprises that are based here (go-karting, dirt road biking, potteries and an education centre) are hustling with activity.

And there’s Christmas music in the background. Continue reading

The rise of the ‘Voluntourism’ package

There is a lot of controversy around volunteering; whether its beneficial to both parties, why it is so expensive, whether short term placements have any benefit over long term ones…the list of negatives go on.

Despite the ongoing arguments, volunteering is a part of modern day life that isn’t going away. With more and more people wanting to explore the ever more accessible world yet also wanting to leave their mark on the world, there comes a difficult decision. Should we choose to be selfless and spend our hard earned vacation in one place, volunteering our time and skills? Or should we spend our time being selfish, traveling, exploring and discovering several new places in one trip? The voluntourism package enable us to avoid making that decision.

Read on to hear more about this in an article I was asked to write for one of my favourite blogs…

Above And Beyond Travel

Today, people around the world are looking for ways to make their travel and holidays more meaningful. Gone are the days where people want to return home with a suntan, local crafts and the need to up their exercise regime to burn off the results of an all-inclusive resort.

We want to return home knowing we have seen and experienced somewhere new to us, to it’s fullest extent; that we have infiltrated somewhere as more than a tourist and also left our mark on a little piece of the world.

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The idea of combining travel with volunteering has been well established over the years with the concept of ‘voluntourism’ taking on a life of it’s own. A hybrid of ‘tourism’ and ‘volunteer’, the term refers to travellers taking part in voluntary work to help a community in which they are holidaying.

With people choosing to do more with their time…

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Home is where the caravan legs stay down

To start from the beginning and find out what this adventure is all about, click here.

If we have stayed anywhere longer than a night or two, our habit so far seems to have been two weeks maximum. Despite promises of low crime rates, a friendly community, development initiatives and beautiful landscapes we were skeptical about Pringle Bay. We knew we needed somewhere to call home for a while longer so we can we find our feet (and patch the holes in the caravan). A few days into our time in Pringle Bay it feels like this is it. We have set up camp next to a family friend of the boy’s and already feel like one of the locals.
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The Mother City

To start from the beginning and find out what this adventure is all about, click here.

So we unexpectedly found ourselves in the Mother City. A last minute visit to Cape Town from some of my favourite people from home and more tyre troubles led us to speed down the last bit of the west coast (with promises that we will be back) to get to civilisation, tyres and friendly faces.

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A very cloudy view of Table Mountain!

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Exploring the Concept of Voluntourism

“…Like the term or not, voluntourism is taking more of a leading role in the way that we travel. As people search for ways to add meaning to their travels, a holiday incorporating an essence of volunteering seems like the perfect way to give back whilst exploring a new country and culture.

Instead of returning home from a 2-week holiday with a suntan, local crafts and ideas of a country based on an all-inclusive resort, people now want to come home with more.

As travellers, we want to meet and get to know people, and leave knowing we’ve contributed to an aspect of another person’s life and community by sharing our experiences and skills whilst learning from theirs. And we want to have an adventure!”

Originally appearing on Love Puffin’s travel blog, click here to read the full article and interview.

The ‘Romance’ of Caravanning

To start from the beginning and find out what this adventure is all about, click here.

I have no idea why I thought that caravanning (aka living in a 2m x 4m box on wheels) would be romantic. Maybe it’s the association with the old fashioned gyspy, horse drawn caravans. Maybe it’s the lack of prior consideration of how and where our basic needs will be met. Maybe it’s the emphasis on the fact that you can pick up and move on, discovering somewhere and something new as and when you want, sharing that experience with someone.

Now having been caravanning as a lifestyle not a holiday, I can definitely say it’s not romantic. It’s hard work and stressful. It’s frustrating. It’s tiring. Theres no escape from the other person, no matter how much they have annoyed you (unless you want to sit on a beach in the dark, cold wind on your own!).
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West Side Story: Chapter 2

Since Port Nolloth we have been heading south and stopping at places we like the look of (or that have gas stations). Having been disappointed so far in our search for a friendly, small, quanit fishing town with a welcoming atmosphere and opportunities to fish for our own supper, we pinned our hopes on Honderklipbaai (Stone of the Dog). Our journey here was hassle free through expanses of land covered in different types of flowers, past rocks with seals sunbathing and round a number of tortoises crossing the road.

First seal sighting

First seal sighting

We got used to keeping our eyes peeled for tortoises in the road

We got used to keeping our eyes peeled for tortoises in the road…

Even though some were missed right at the last minute!

Even though some had a narrow escape!

Two weeks later, we are still here and haven’t been disappointed.
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Namaqualand Flowers

Part of the reason we left the Midlands when we did was so that we would make it to Namaqualand during the infamous flower season.

The Cape Wild Flowers are one of the natural wonders of the world. The arid areas of the Cape West Coast and the semi desert of Namaqualand, transform into a floral wonderland.

Heading straight west we drove through areas known for their flowers but it wasn’t until we started to go south along the coast that we really saw variety and flowers in abundance. The flowers pop in in single bursts or clumps of contrasting colours amongst the green, dry foliage. The region is know for being sparse and arid outside of Flower Season but in the two months the flowers are out, people head here in droves and tourism picks up. For many of the B&Bs and other accommodation offerings, Flower Season is their busiest time of year and it keeps them going.
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West Side Story: Chapter 1

We made it to the West Coast! All the way from East to West with a caravan and two dogs! There were definitely times when I didn’t think we would get here (nothing like a bit of melodrama to make changing a tyre easier, hey?)

After spending the night on the side of the road, at the top of a mountain pass and in an empty truck lay-by, we carried on with the last stretch to Port Nolloth.

Morning view from the side of the road

Morning view from the side of the road

Our first sighting of the Atlantic was coming into Port Nolloth past all the white chalky earth heading towards the ferocious looking waves with wind howling past us. Our first point of call was of course the beach where the four of us stood for a few moments and took in the salty smell, wind and waves. It was instantly obvious the West Coast is very different to the East and the water is SO cold!
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Go West; Where The Skies Are Blue

Our route took us to Kimberley purely because I wanted to see The Big Hole so that’s just what we did. Arriving late at night, we needed to find a caravan park quickly and relied our trusty ‘caravan guide’ to advise us. Several hours, many unanswered phone calls and just as many wrong turns later, we made it to a park. There we no staff (and no other guests) around so we let ourselves ‘in’, found a spot and settled in for the night.

The Big Hole

The Big Hole

We spent the morning wandering around the newly made, old town set up around The Big Hole to show how life used to be in mining times. It was literally like stepping back in time and felt kind of like the Wild West.

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