Sunday, 24 September 2017

Holidays at Ongha yaNaghonda Village

Ongha is situated in northern Namibia, in the Ohangwena region and form part of the ‘Four-O-Regions’ of the country. The first people started to settle here in 1940 with a headsman named Naghonda. Hence, the name of the village is derived from the headsman’s accepted name in Oshiwambo known as Ongha yaNaghonda. The main language here is Oshikwanyama. When school holidays approached, plans were already proceeding as to where we will be spending our holiday. In two days after school closed we were on our way to Ongha with my parents’ trusted mode of transport the ‘Ondobe Liner’ an Iveco minibus my uncle drove. On the way one will see homesteads are interspersed with flat landscape and between fields one will come across Makalani Palms, Mopane and Marula trees. I was always excited regardless of taking this journey multiple times, as I was going home to see my family.

I preferred the August holidays as Mahangu pearl millet harvest season completed. However this was the April holiday that fell perfectly in time for Mahangu harvesting. Here we follow the cycle of the sun as during this period the Namibian sun is harsh. The wake-up call was usually 5 am, each of us have to head to the elimba store room for kitchen items to pick up a knife to cut off the heads of pearl millet plant and Oshimbale a truncated cone basket which is used to collect and carry. 

During the harvesting a few of people (inclusive of both men and women) cut the heads of the pearl millet, whereas others collect and carry to the Oshipale threshing floor to dry. At 8 am one of the women will head back to the house to make breakfast and bring mepya in the field. Everyone retires into the homestead at 12:00 as the sun is at its peak and looking forward to quenching their thirst with Oshikundu pearl millet drink, as lunch is being prepared. 

Afternoons usually consisted of milling the threshed and chuffed grain from previous harvests with wooden stamping stocks to ensure there is flour to cook Oshifima stiff pearl millet porridge, to brew Oshikundu pearl millet  drink and  Omalodu iilya pearl millet and sorghum beer. Milling was always fun, time passed as humour-filled conversations were shared. When milling was completed, preparations were underway.

The evenings were consumed with story-telling as it is an important part of spending time together as a family, and of cause everyone had something to contribute. On nights when it was full moon we played games, diila-ekende (also known as blikkie-vol-maak and fill-the-tin) and hide-and-seek was a favourite, as the Oshiwambo homesteads are open and spacious. 

It was a long day, so we fell asleep peacefully. 

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Wildlife, Nature and the Sunrise

Botlierskop you beautiful place!

I recall the days my parents would get excited when it was school holidays. They were filled with so much joy happy as they got to ship us off the farm/village for a month but of course this was the best opportunity for alone time. My brothers were rebels well maybe I too, as we were very often reluctant on making our way there! We made some of the most incredible memories there. The farm/village was a place my eldest brother Tuhafeni, baby brother Diago and I could fully immerse ourselves in nature, however the scorching sun often gets its way as it gets pretty hot in Northern Namibia. The ability to run in the Mahangu maize, Sugar-Cane, Corn, Beans, Spinach fields was reviving and being able to share such times with all my cousins was a blessing.

Botlierskop Private Game Reserve is situated between the Outeniqua Mountains and within close proximity to Mossel Bay as well as George right in the heart of the Garden Route. It is only 4.5 hours drive from Cape Town. The game reserve is home to 4 of the Big 5, rare antelope species and unique bird life. Visit to find out more.

Spending time there was refreshing however one night there is not enough. The scenery alone is breath-taking! Right upon arrival late afternoon two of us went on a horse riding safari whilst the rest went for the elephant back safaris. This was my first time going horse riding and I must say I rode like a pro. As soon as we got within close proximity to the animals with our leader it was a tab bit scary as they all glanced at us from afar. When the evening approached we all sat and worked in the lounge until the call for dinner finally arrived, yes we really really love to eat! Straight after dinner we finally had time to enjoy the tented suites, really something so unique. Off to bed we head, as the day was long and exhausting.

The next day we had a 6 am call for our morning safari, yes it was freezing cold and being seated in an open vehicle was a ridiculously tough test. Experiencing views of the sun rising, wildlife, nature and a stop for our morning tea was truly an incredible feeling.

Exploring our natural environment is something we do need as living beings, 
so go and do it, you know it will be crazy-fun!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

A Hot West Coast Escape

Oh hey there Darling!

It was 38 degrees in Cape Town yesterday, a very gorgeous day indeed as it calls for some beach therapy. Off we go with a scenic drive from Bloubergstrand to Darling. It is often great to get away from the bustling city. The scenery had a northern Namibian feel to it; the clear lands, fynbos, lush green plantations, trees, free roaming goats and cows. Pure beauty!

This quaint town known as Darling dates back to 1853, with historical Victorian and Edwardian buildings reflecting the cultural heritage. The town received it’s name from the Cape Colony governor, Lord Charles Henry Darling.

Our first stop was the Darling Cellars, established in 1949 and previously known as the Mamreweg Co-operative Cellar. Here the white wine maker took us on a cellar tour and intensively elaborated on the wine making process; the growing the grapes, fermentation, storage, bottling and quality control. The wine maker took us through the tastings by elaborating on the different wines and their ingredients.

I love history, therefore I was super stoked that we had a chance to pop into the Darling Museum. This museum contains structures with both Victorian and Edwardian styles, the interiors portraying the way communities lived in the 1800s-1900s, in terms of life at home, business, church, a school classroom and their butter production process.

We were unfortunately not allowed to take pictures within the museum.

The Darling Brewery was next, by this time we were all physically drained by the heat! All we wanted was to stay in the van as it was way cooler than stepping out in the hot burning sun with the hot air glazing on our skin. Personally I do not drink beer however there is something I love about the taste of the Sun Gazer which is one of the Brews of the brewery, and I loved the different styling of the beer labels, very artsy!

This brewery is focused on craft beer and are currently refurbishing their space. A new restaurant right in the front of the brewery is under construction mentioned Phillipa, the co-owner. Phillipa took us through the brewery and elaborated on their processes, machinery and the brewing the beer. This was followed by a short drive to Darling Brew restaurant which is located within the town centre and here we indulged in beer tasting over a scrumptious light meal.  

Activities after beer tasting and must do's whilst in D-Town:

The Taste of Darling Wine Shop (for the wine enthusiasts) 

 Darling Sweet (for my fellow sweet toothies)

 The Flying Pig (for those that love good  coffee / pork)

 The Flying Pig

We can all chill here, talk life, read life changing books as we sip on coffee and of course have a bite of red velvet cake.

Take time and visit Darling, my darling!

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Smells like birds and monkeys

Animals are beautiful creatures and are so similar to human beings in their mannerisms.

Both animals and human beings thrive on emotions, self awareness, intelligence, humour and culture.

I am not the biggest monkey fan but I am open to learning.  Recently we visited Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary which is a very lush and green (perfect for monkeys!). It was beautiful to see how the different monkey species interacted with one another. I was particularly drawn to the Ring tailed Lemur, Squirrel and Spider Monkeys. These monkeys all had distinct appearances and mannerisms, which was very intriguing! The squirrel monkey is referred to as one of the most intelligent species of primate. It has the largest brain to body mass ratio of all the monkey species in the world.

Our guide mentioned that one of the monkeys fell in love with him, or it was more like an infatuation, I thought it was really cute, Time was limited so we could not visit the sanctuary for a very long period to fully grasp everything that takes place there. On our way out of the sanctuary the Spider monkey was there to bid farewell to use in style, this monkey literally maneuvres like a spider and it sure was a little frightening. What a great way to end off our time there!

Right next to Monkeyland is the World of Birds Wildlife sanctuary where we had stopped for a few minutes. It is the largest bird park in Africa and hosts over 3000 birds. This parks' layout is topical and filled with numerous trees, very green indeed. I love the bridge walkways leading to the various corners of the park and enable you to see the free roaming birds. The birds tend to fly away when you start taking too many pictures, it sucked as I tried to get the right angle! A few of my favourite birds here were the white and black Swans, Flamingos, Ducks, Cranes, Guineafowl and Lorikeets.

If you're into birds and monkeys, this sure is an ideal addition to your bucket-list / wish-list whatever you would call your list.

Till the next write up!

Monday, 15 June 2015

216m Jump!

They say bungee jumping is pretty cray-cray right?!

I can't believe I jump off the highest commercial bungee jumping stop in the world, the Bloukrans Bridge which is right above the Bloukrans river and is approximately (216 m/709 feet. Seems a little frightening but believe me the thrill during the jump is exhilarating (the entire notion of R-Kelly's I believe I can fly definitely makes perfect sense here!).

As we drove to Face Adrenalin I was a bit more quiet as my thoughts took over. I was unsure whether I was anxious or excited. We stepped out of the vehicle to quickly snap a couple of photos of the Bloukrans Bridge before our weighting and registration for our jump. After the weighing and registration we moved on to get strapped up into harnesses, the guys assisting where all such lovely beings and they threw in a few jokes to lighten the mood. Photo here, photo we head to the bridge with Clive one of the guys from Face Adrenalin team. He demonstrated to us how to do the jump accordingly to obtain the best experience. I jumped second and Boy..Oh...Boy was I excited. One of the guys on Face Adrenalin team asked who I trusted the most from my colleagues and I said all of them, he chose my colleague Sofie to strap my feet together. Thereafter I stood up and looked down before I jumped and I thought to myself...THIS IS IT!, I am going through with it. The team had a count down to and I jumped on two, ahhh there I was flying like one of the birds of this earth and feeling the fresh wind on my skin which was super refreshing and mind-blowing (pounding fists in the air and literally high-10-ing myself). You need to do this in order to understand what I am talking about. Finally upon descending just after a minute I was so ready to get back up, it felt like I spent an hour down there. One of the guys on the team came to my rescue and up we ascended to the top of the bridge, with a huge smile of cause. Finally back up on the bridge and I looked down and wow I just jump off here?!

After the jumping experience on to the bridge we walked to get unstrapped from our harnesses by the team and receive our certificates and photos, and yes after receiving that certificate I AM NOW A CERTIFIED BLOUKRANS BUNGEE JUMPER!

One would ask, why go through with it? I always say "life is too short and risks are what life is about", everyday is a risk we take (more like survival off the fittest). You are not living until you take a risk.
                                                      What an AWESOME moment!

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Diving with the Great White Sharks

Still cannot believe I did this!

Just two and a half hours’ drive from Cape Town, you’ll find a company called Marine Dynamics, situated in Kleinbaai…the hub for the Great White Sharks. Upon arrival, my two colleagues and I received a very warm welcome from the Marine Dynamics team and they directed us to the restaurant where a delicious breakfast was ready for us. Kelly, the Marine Biologist from Australia, then briefed us on the company and the work they are involved in. She was very enthusiastic about the work they do and it all resonated in the manner in which she delivered the information to us. She ensured us that we would be safe and there was no need to be afraid. Apparently the most dangerous part of our day was our drive to Kleinbaai!

As we left the restaurant, we started feeling nervous, but quickly ‘convinced’ one another that "we got this"! The crew members assisted us with our life jackets and water jackets before heading out to the boat, Slashfin that was awaiting us for our diving experience. Slashfin was purposely built for shark cage diving. This means it contains similar qualities of the Great White Shark such as "its sleekness, elegance, power and steadiness in order to enable the boat to slice through water and to endure extreme sea conditions" (Marine Dynamics, 2015). Off we sailed and along the way we experienced great views of the sunrise as well as different birds flying over the boat, pure magic!
Quickly we arrived at our diving location which was within close proximity to Dyer Island that is renowned for its Cape Fur Seal colony, with approximately 60 000 seals on this Island.

With our wet suits on, it was time to decide who would get into the cage first. As soon as Kelly had suggested we should get in first, my immediate response was “yes, of course!”, but my colleague Sofie said "no ways, we'll rather be part of the second group". She sounded a little frightened… I must add. While waiting for our opportunity to get into the cage, sea sickness got the best of me and thus I was unable to stand upright.

While my other colleague Thami, and Sofie were enjoying watching the other people and their fearful faces, I sat in a corner trying to be strong. After drinking a glass of water, I then told myself, “shake it off Nela and get into that cage!”

We did it!The water was extremely cold, but that was the least of our concerns. We had roughly 10 shark encounters with one female and the others were all juvenile male sharks. What an amazing experience to see those wild ocean creatures up close! Once one of the sharks slammed into the cage with its tail and we all jumped backwards as we were frightened from the sudden knock. It was simultaneously scary and awesome! After 45 minutes in the cold water, we were more than ready to warm up. I remained at the front of Slashfin for our return trip as the sea sickness crept up on me again. According to Thami and Sofie, viewing the sharks from the top deck was awesome! Needless to say, I was a tad bit jealous as I could not make it up there. However, the Marine Dynamics team took really good care of me and I appreciated their efforts.

Before heading back towards the harbour, our skipper Pieter steered the boat towards Dyer Island, for a close up of the Cape Fur Seal colony. Upon our return to the Great White House, warm soup was waiting for us in the restaurant, which was really delicious after being in the cold for four hours. During that period we were able to watch the video of our experience, which was so surreal!

Before departing to Cape Town, the team also introduced us to their Penguin and Bird Sanctuary, which opened February 2015 as a marine bird rehabilitation centre for diseased, injured, oiled, abandoned and displaced marine birds and African penguins.

Another item of the bucket list! 

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Three musketeers on safari

A very early morning start to our day indeed…I was more excited than ever as I would see Elephants and Giraffes for the very first time in person!!!

The drive to the game reserve was picturesque and makes you appreciate nature so much more. One would literally snap copious pictures before even reaching the Big five.

Upon arrival at Aquila Private Game Reserve, we received a very warm welcome. It was freezing cold there as the reserve is situated in the Little Karoo, the semi desert part of South Africa. The safari experience started with a scrumptious breakfast buffet and we definitely looked forward to it as the variety was plentiful and… we were starving!!! Before embarking on the game drive we had an opportunity to explore the surrounds of the game reserve and the views of the adjacent mountains are truly breath-taking. My colleague, Thami immediately spotted the elephants from afar and with my other colleague Sofie and I's bad eyesight, Thami had to explain several times before we both got a glimpse of those beauties. This happened throughout the entire duration of our game drive as he spotted most of the animals before anyone else.

Finally the game drive was underway... our ranger Freddy started our game drive with a visit at the animal rehabilitation centre, as the game reserve highly accentuates wildlife conversation in order to re-introduce the wildlife such as Cheetahs, Crocodiles, Leopards and Lions within the Cape Region. It was sad to see this wildlife in confined spatial areas and not in their natural environment, but I do understand the cheetahs are a captive bred and are thus controlled to ensure the worldwide cheetah survival initiative. As for the Lions they have been saved from a heart-rending destiny whereby these animals were placed within small spatial areas and hunters would be granted permission to shoot them.

As the game drive continued to the main reserve Freddy stopped the vehicle, he would then pick up animal manure and ask us all which animal within the reserve did we presume it could belong to and of course there would be one or two individuals who would get it right. I thought it was a great way to obtain knowledge about the wildlife on the game reserve and made us use the knowledge we had about the wildlife. Freddy had a great sense of humour as he would occasionally engage in jokes and it helped us all loosen up and feel more at ease during this experience. We then continued our drive along the waterhole where we came across Hippos, my colleagues and I named them the “lazy ones” as they laid in the same position we had left them. There was a moment that were Freddy stopped our game vehicle in the middle of nowhere as our refreshment stop, we hopped off the game vehicle looking up to the beautiful African blue skies, mountains views,  the wildlife within a distance and of course some sparkling wine!, this was truly an incredible moment “time stood still” for a little while here.

Before the game drive Freddy stated that there was a possibility we might not see the Big five or the other wildlife on the game reserve, however we were fortunate enough to see the big five (Buffalo, Rhinos, Elephants, Leopard & Lions) as well as the other wildlife on the game reserve (Elands, Giraffes, Hippos, Ostriches, Springboks & Mountain Zebras) .

After our game drive we indulged in a delightful lunch and yes…it was just as marvellous as breakfast! With such a fantastic day behind us a little snooze on a way back home “Cape Town” was essential.

In a nutshell, we had a great safari experience and our ranger truly made our game drive extraordinary by ensuring we that saw a variety of wildlife.

Welcome to Africa Baby!!!