Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wednesday, July 30th, Hotel Zum Kaiser, Swakopmund, Namibia

Being in a beach town, I had to check out the surf.  Last night, I went out in the shorebreak for a few minutes.  Today's venture was to take a seal, dolphin, and pelican cruise out to the end of a point where the Atlantic provided some waves locally.  Those of you who know me will understand that I just have to see some waves every now and then.

  But the afternoon "Town Tour" was the best of the day.  I had been wanting to see the conditions inside what seems like the last vestiges of segregated, poor housing areas.  Today's tour, by Hafeni Tours and Travel, was everything I wanted.  They took about a dozen of us into the township in Swakopmund to introduce us to its way of life.
Guided by a young man who had grown up there, he walked us through the markets,
helped us visit a kindergarden,
took us to an orphanage, showed us a crafts store operating as a business incubator and skills training facility,
and treated us to an African meal finished with an acapella performance by the group Vocal Galore.  I recorded a video of their performance, and they agreed to let me show a segment of it on YouTube.  Here's a link to a previous performance of theirs.  Pat and I bought two of their CDs, and I predict they will be very successful.

To see the photos we took today, click on: Wednesday, July 30th, Hotel Zum Kaiser, Swakopmund, Namibia.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tuesday, July 29th, Hotel Zum Kaiser, Swakopmund, Namibia


First, let me apologize for not providing some commentary on an important wildlife sighting on Friday.  You might have noticed a few shots of two cheetahs walking near some trees in the distance.  We saw some trucks parked ahead of us, and as we approached were told that they had seen some cheetahs on the ridge line across the valley to our right.  Backing up quickly, and looking out the windows to our far right, we saw three oryx running full speed with a large trail of dust behind them.  Not far behind in the dust, we saw the cheetah chasing them.  Grabbing our cameras, and readying them for shots, we saw the second cheetah, and a small jackal trailing behind.

Soon, as usual, the cheetahs slowed, and the oryx opened up a big distance between them and the cheetahs.  By then, we had stopped the truck, and were aiming our cameras in the right place.  Thus, the shots you see are of them sauntering over to some trees (to mark them) on the far side of the grassland.  The whole thing took probably two minutes, but was very exciting.

Today, we made a long drive up the west coast of Namibia to the coastal town of Swakopmund, and to the Hotel Zum Kaiser.  On the way, we saw some of the most exotic and amazing geology there exists.  The Nambian desert, and the geology around it, illustrates the last half billion years very well.  And tells the story of the last 20 million years in exact detail in full color.

Here is a photo of the landscape we encountered in Western Namibia today.  For many miles east of the great sand dunes, between them and the Great Escarpment, there are rows of large pieces of the once ocean floor which are tilted upward on their seaward side. I’ve read all the geology I can find on the subject, including the excellent book by Nicole Grunert, Namibia – Fascination of Geology.  Here is my take on this amazing geological phenomenon. 

First, Namibia was the western leading edge of an ocean which formed a belt between two frozen land masses (Congo and Kalahari) in Gondwanna, that super-continent that formed down at the South Pole about 540 million years ago.  Half-covered in glaciers, it moved northward over 400 million years, and then was split apart by the mid-Atlantic Ridge. 

Second, during the separation of Africa and South America in the last one hundred and thirty million years, exposed volcanic magma dove under the leading edge of Southern Africa and lifted up the land to form the Great Escarpment, a huge plateau almost a mile above the sea.  At the same time, a new ice age lowered the sea almost 200 hundred feet.

What resulted was the largest, most powerful waterfall in the history of the planet pounding down on a seafloor which was still being carried toward the Escarpment by the magma.  Weighted down by the water, and tilted up like waves in a shallow surfline, these pieces of the ocean floor formed the strange lines of seabed tiles we saw today the Kuisep River valley.

And where did all that erosion end up.  Well, most of it is far out to sea.  But the millions of tons of sand dunes stretching for 75 miles south of here is some of it.

That's my theory.  It's consistent with all of the science I've read.  Hope it helps you see this land a little clearer.

To see the photos we took today,  click on: Tuesday, July 29th, Hotel Zum Kaiser, Swakopmund, Namibia.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday, July 28th, Desert Camp, Sossusvlei, Namibia


Many million years ago, the earth in the middle of Namibia lifted up about a thousand meters.  It's called the great escarpment.  What storms traveled east from the Atlantic crashed into that wall, eroded it and caused both a slope of eroded rock, and a river flowing back to the Atlantic.

The winds in this area flow like the water and the storms - east to west, and west to east.  Paralleling the beach, these dunes built to huge proportions, and created a virtual sand dam on the river a few miles from the beach.   A reservoir of water existed and life blossomed.
That lasted a while, until a line of dunes east of the dam created another one upriver.  That dried up the first, and it became the "dead pan" we hiked to this morning.

Local trees, dated at 800 years old still stand in the pan, and provide some nice seats in the amphitheater of majestic views.

Tomorrow, we have another long drive north and west to the coast of Namibia.  I may get to actually dip my toes in the Atlantic.

To see the rest of the photos we took today, click on Monday, Desert Camp, Sossusvlei, Namibia.

Sunday, July 27th, Desert Camp, Sossusvlei, Namibia


Another traveling day, deeper into the desert.  We're driving on an ancient seabed, bordered by an escarpment left over from the splitting of the continents, and the Atlantic ocean.  It's been scraped once or twice by glaciers, and split a few times after the big one.  A truly fantastic paintbrush of geological shapes and colors.

The tour guides have the routes planned so that we get toilet breaks mostly every two hours, and we stop somewhere for lunch around noon.  Today's lunch stop was in a town recommended to Kiboko recently, and the cafe also contained a classic old car, and a menagerie of garden ducks, geese, and a cat.

The mountains in Namibia all seem to be floating on a sea of yellow grass which appears to be rising upward and sometimes contains lake mirages.  It's broken up by plumes of dust as another car approaches in the distance.

The Desert Camp where we will be staying for the next two nights is on the edge of a huge mass of sand dunes in western Namibia.  Tomorrow, we'll be doing another all day drive and hike to a popular old dried up reservoir (called a "pan").  Surrounded by immense sand dunes, it is often featured in science fiction movies.

To see the rest of the photo taken on our transit today, click on Sunday, Desert Camp, Sossusvlei, Namibia.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Saturday, July 26th, Canyon Lodge, Fish River Canyon, Namibia


The day started out right, our covering 300 kilometers and arriving at the South Africa – Botswana border at about 2pm.  Well, not exactly the border, m This 38,000 hectare joint park has an entrance where your visa is stamped out of South Africa, but you don’t enter Botswana or Namibia until you exit the park on the other side.  Each country shares the money you spend inside, and park staff work for a third-party contractor.
ore like a mutually- controlled, free trade zone known as the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

But the park actually belongs jointly to the local successors to the Bush tribesman and the colored peoples of South Africa.  We’re staying at the House Lodge, an elegant elevated series of wooden cabins and walkways above the ground in the midst of a huge sand-duned grassland.

But back to entering the park.  About twenty miles up the road, while photographing some antelope, our front left tire went flat.  Now, this is in an area where little to no cell phone coverage exists, and not many people travel.  And if you remember our fat tire on the first tour, the problem was that the lug nuts were tightened so much that they could not be loosened to change the tire.   Ditto. 

Two hours later, with the help of a park visitor who gave Kembo a ride back to the entrance gate, and two park staff who brought him back and helped provide extra weight on the pipe which was used to crack the lug nuts, we were on our way very late to our next stop. 

But what a stop it was.  The plan was to meet up with staff from the lodge 50 miles into the park, and transfer to a large four-wheel drive truck.  That’s the only way to get to the lodge, as its 50 miles farther across 90 sand huge dunes.  Just before we got to the trnsfer point, we spotted a leopard which had just killed an Africa squirrel, on the side of a hill about 150 feet from us.   Playing with it, like any cat does with its food, we took dozens and dozens of photos.  Unfortunately, we had to leave long before we wanted to, in order to make our connection.

The location and environment is almost beyond description.  Reached by driving many miles of sand dunes, the cabins overlook a huge dry red-sand waterhole resting under the biggest, brightest sky you can imagine.

In our two days at !Xaus Lodge and two days at  Fish River Canyon Lodge, we did morning, afternoon, sunset, and night game walks and drives.  They were all mesmorizing.  Combined with great meals and the serenity of your dreams, we felt like we were in quite another world.

To see the photos we took on Wednesday and Thursday, click on: Wednesday and Thursday.
To see the photos we took on Friday, click on: Friday
To see the photos we took on Saturday, click on: Saturday.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesday, July 22nd, Vergelegen Guest House, Augrabies Falls National Park, South Africa

Each day, we rotate seat placements to partly get to know each other better, assure some equity of window photo opportunity (though most times lately we get out), and because most of us want to have a full two-seat position – possible for all but one of us with the current load.  It’ll get near impossible on the weekend when we have 14 people and 16 seats.

Five hundred kilometers went by quickly today (fewer road blocks), and we transitioned from deep agricultural lands to marginally possible to raise sheep.  The McCooks have been fun to be around during this time especially because they raise sheep in Australia, and he (Cookie) is the guy who sizes up the quality and weights of sheep back home when they are being sold to buyers (bound for China these days).  They are great to talk with, and we hope to visit them when we take our great Australian travel about.
Those strange looking grass balls perched in the top of telephone poles are the colonies of nests of social weavers.  They even invite small potential prey (kestrel falcons) to the colony because the falcons protect them from snakes.

After lunch, we arrived at Augrabies Falls National Park, where if we'd been here a couple of years ago, we'd have been drenched in the parking lot from the flood of water coming over the falls.  As it was today, we watched much less water spill down the Orange River over a really gorgeous canyon.  
And we were joined by a beautiful gecko named after the park,
and a baboon who kept a very close eye on us.  These locals have learned to open car doors, slip inside narrow windows, and appear to be well on their way to hijacking ATM machines.

For the next few days, we head into Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park on the border between South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana.  We'll be at the Vergelegen Guest House, !Xaus Lodge, and the Fish River Canyon Lodge, and we'll be game hunting again, and operating off generators and salt-water desalination.  Back again posting by the weekend.

To see the photos we took today, click on Tuesday, July 22nd, Vergelegen Guest House, Augrabies National Park, South Africa.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday, July 21st, Calvinia, South Africa


Calvinia is like Craddock, only a smaller town (four main streets).  The museum was also the town’s synagogue.  We’re lodged in connected stucco structures on a main street which contain quaint little living rooms, bedrooms, and bathrooms with furniture dating from the early 1900’s.   
Today was a driving day, and our first day with this tour group and larger tour vehicle.  There are currently nine travelers, and we’ll pick up five more in a few days.  The seats sit higher off the ground, but the first step up to the bus is lower, to Pat’s delight.  
Kembo had ambitions of getting us here earlier in the day (2pm), but the road work delayed us again until 4pm.  It matters when planning rest and toilet stops, and we did have one side of the road ablution.  Once we checked in, we walked a few blocks to the museum and back.  We’re all having dinner at the hotel’s main facility at 7pm, and I’ll upload this from their wifi while there.

To see all of the photos taken today, click on Monday, July 21st, Calvinia, South Africa.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday, July 20th, Breakwater Lodge, Cape Town, South Africa

In our last day in Cape Town, we chose to go to the Kirstenbosch Gradens. Kirstenbosch was established in 1913 to promote, conserve and display the extraordinarily rich and diverse flora of southern Africa, and was the first botanic garden in the world to be devoted to a country's indigenous flora.
Kirstenbosch displays a wide variety of the unique plant life of the Cape Flora, also known as fynbos, including sugarbushes , pincushions and heaths . Plants from all the diverse regions and biomes of southern Africa are also grown at Kirstenbosch, including a near-complete collection of cycads . The Botanical Society Conservatory is a custom-built glasshouse to grow and display plants from the arid regions that cannot survive outdoors.
There are over 7 000 species in cultivation at Kirstenbosch, including many rare and threatened species.  Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden lives up to its reputation as the most beautiful garden in Africa and one of the great botanic gardens of the world. Few gardens can match the sheer grandeur of the setting of Kirstenbosch, against the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain.

Tomorrow, we leave for our second tour.  We'll be traveling for four days up the west coast of South Africa, eleven days in Namibia, four days in Botswana, and the last two in Zimbabwe at Victoria Falls.  Stay tuned for lots of photos and commentary.

To see the photos we took there, click on Kirstenbosch Gardens.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saturday night, July 19th, Kylemore B, Cape Town, South Africa


If the weather had cooperated, we would have joined our good friends, Anne and Margaret, on the high seas to Robben Island.  It's where Nelson Mandela spent most of his time in prison.  But it didn't, and we still met for lunch (they treated) to say good-bye, and promise to meet again soon.  We'll miss them and Albert, and have re-doubled our commitment to visit Australia soon.

In the afternoon, we took a taxi to the National History Museum near a large park in the city center.  We were impressed with their sections on  early earth history.  South Africa's birth within the split-up of the super-continent (Godwana) was well-displayed, and we could better understand what we have been seeing over the past three weeks as a result.

At 6pm, we met up with the other members of our new tour, and our guide (Kembo) to go over the itinerary for the next 21 days.  They are Canadians and Australians, and once again are seasoned travelers.  We're on our own tomorrow, and will join up with them on Monday morning.

To see the few photos we took today, click on Saturday night, July 19th, Kylemore B, Cape Town, South Africa.

Saturday, July 19th, Cape Town, South Africa


Yesterday was Mandela Day in South Africa, and citizens were inspired to contribute 67 minutes of their time to the global movement for good.  All of us should take up that challenge every day, and share with each other the many ideas which we have as to how that can be accomplished.  Listed below is a text of an article appearing in this week's Cape Town Magazine, which contains ideas for visitors to this great city at any time they are here.

Get involved this Mandela Day

31 Ways you can contribute 67 minutes of your time towards the global movement for good 
On Mandela Day (18 July), people around the world are encouraged to spend at least 67 minutes doing something positive for their communities in honour of the 67 years that the late South African president Nelson Mandela spent fighting for social justice and a free, democratic country.
The unofficial international day of philanthropy was inspired by Mandela’s speech on 27 June 2008 (his 90th birthday celebration) in London’s Hyde Park. In his address, Madiba called on leaders of all nations to help change the world for the better. “It’s in your hands now,” he urged.
Celebrated each year on the late statesman’s birthday, International Nelson Mandela Day aims to inspire a ripple of good deeds throughout the world, and looks to encourage individuals, communities, governments and non-profit organisations to take one small step towards the larger leap of making a positive imprint.
This is the first Mandela Day since the global icon passed, and since he’s no longer around to anchor the occasion, it’s more important than ever to uphold the values for which he struggled and to share his message for peace and humanity with future generations.
Take a look at how you can get involved with Mandela Day in Cape Town this year with our handy guide to ways to make a difference for 67 minutes (and beyond).
Donate educational materials to Breadline Africa at the V&A Waterfront. Breadline Africa, an internationally registered charity based in South Africa, aims to better the lives of the less fortunate by converting old shipping containers into essential community structures, like schools, libraries and health clinics. The organisation has teamed up with The Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy for the Mandela Month Container Activation, a drive hosted at Clock Tower Square at the V&A Waterfront that calls on citizens to donate educational and developmental materials, including books and toys, for children up to six years old. Folks can drop by at any time of day to leave their donation (blankets are also welcome) from Tuesday, 1 to Friday, 18 July 2014. Visit to find out more about the container programme.
Clock Tower Square | V&A Waterfront | Dock Road | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 418 0322
Volunteer your time for the Operation Smile awareness campaign at local malls. This year, the folks at Operation Smile, an organisation that provides free surgeries to children and adults born with cleft lips and palates, will be setting up camp at various malls in the Western Cape to create awareness for the work that they do. Volunteers are needed to hand out flyers, assist people in signing-up to help at Operation Smile, decorate dolls and just spread the good word. There will also be a collection drive for mirrors, toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, stationary and adult patient gowns. And, as if doing good wasn’t incentive enough, those who give their time will get a T-shirt for their services. Go to for more information.
Operation Smile will be set up at Blue Route Mall in Tokai and in Stellenbosch and George.
Spend time at the Animal Rescue Organisation. This haven for creatures great and small is in need of a little facelift, and for Mandela Day, human friends are invited to do 67 minutes of painting, gardening and rabbit and pony tending. The Animal Rescue Organisation aims to provide support and care for animals in Cape Town’s more impoverished areas by providing veterinary treatment at mobile clinics and finding homes for abandoned cats and dogs. The centre could also do with paint, plant and pet care goods, so perhaps if you can’t volunteer your time, you can still help out by dropping off a few necessary items.
5 Olieboom Road |Schaapkraal |Ottery|Cape Town| +27 (0) 21 396 5511
Drop off books for Prestwich Primary School at the Cape Quarter Lifestyle Village. TheCape Quarter Lifestyle Village in De Waterkant has teamed up with a few partners to host a Mandela Day book drive on its premises. Bring along an old book or buy a new one at the Bay Bookshop (and get 20% off) to put in the box that will go to the young readers at Prestwich Primary School in Green Point . The collection closes at 5pm on Wednesday, 16 July, and all the donated books will be handed over to the school the following week.
27 Somerset Road | De Waterkant | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 421 1111
Help out at the Athlone School for the Blind. Located in Bellville-South, the Athlone School for the Blind provides education and skills training to students, from pre-school-age all the way up to grade 12, who are blind or visually impaired. A number of the pupils live in the school’s hostel, and many others come from families that cannot afford to pay for their children’s education and well-being. Therefore, the centre is asking members of the public to either donate their time by painting a mural in one of the classrooms and helping in the planting of a vegetable garden, or to donate several much-needed items. These include storybooks, toys, blankets, clothing, toiletries and treats for the kids. Contact the Athlone School for the Blind to find out what else they need. The school will be celebrating Mandela Day on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 due to the holidays.
Athlone Street | Glenhaven | Bellville | +27 (0) 72 509 7667
Run, walk or ride for orphans. Spend a fun-filled afternoon on Mooiplaas Wine Estate (in Stellenbosch) where Newkidz on the Block, a non-profit organisation that links orphaned and vulnerable children with foster families and homes, is hosting a Mandela Day 6.7-km run, walk and trail cycle on Saturday, 19 July 2014. Dubbed Endorphins for Orphans, the event calls on members of the public to join in a bit of exercise around the scenic estate and then enjoy some live music and cheese, wine and olive tasting, all for a great cause. There are different time slots for the various races, and each slot will accommodate 67 participants, who will all get medals for their efforts. Folks don’t have to participate in the strenuous activities and are more than welcome to join in the festivities – there’ll even be a jumping castle for the little ones – as all proceeds will be going back to the organisation. Go to for registration, which costs R195p/p for a single event, R250p/p for the run and cycle and R30p/p for non-participants over the age of 12.
Bottelary Road | Stellenbosch | +27 (0) 21 981 5425 | +27 (0) 83 283 0576
Help Stop Hunger Now SA package meals for children. More than 4000 volunteers are needed at Canal Walk Shopping Centre in Cape Town to help assemble meal packages for children at unregistered crèches around the country. Stop Hunger SA invites organisations, corporate companies and individuals to donate 67 minutes of their time on Mandela Day to put together packs containing soy, rice, mixed vegetables and a vitamin-rich supplement. These food boxes will be enough to provide three meals a week for one pupil throughout the school year. Philanthropists can register to volunteer in an assembly line, and those who are able to make a large contribution can sponsor one or more packaging lines for R9000 and a team of up to 25 members to assemble the meals. Get more information and register online at
Century Boulevard | Century City | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 705 6278
Spend time with the elderly at Laingsburg public library. Spend your 67 minutes for Mandela Day with the old and wise residents of Laingsburg, a small town in the Great Karoo. Members of the community and anyone with time to spare are invited to come have tea and cake and to have quality conversation with the elderly who are usually too busy taking care of their grandchildren to take time off for themselves. Email for details.
Collect much-needed goods for the Friends of Valkenberg Trust. This non-profit organisation works with staff at the Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital in Observatory to help comfort patients during their stay at the facility and support them on the road to recovery after they are discharged. The trust is looking for volunteers to coordinate collections of several different kinds of goods, including non-perishable food, clothing, unwanted household items and DVDs, that can be dropped off at the hospital on Mandela Day. These goods will be sold in the hospital’s second-hand shop, and profits will go toward the hospital’s efforts. Why not ask friends and folks in your neighbourhood, office or school to do a bit of spring cleaning and see what they have – then organise a quick excursion to deliver the items?  Go to for more information and email for specifics.
Help out at the Domestic Animal Rescue Group (DARG) in Hout Bay. DARG is a shelter that looks out for abandoned and abused domestic animals, and the facility needs a little bit of a makeover to make it more accessible and hygienic for the four-legged charges. Volunteers can come paint, clean and help with maintenance and repairs to the building; otherwise, the doggies and kitties could do with some exercise, grooming and extra love.
Main Road | Hout Bay | | +27 (0) 21 790 0383
Donate your time and talent. You don’t need to be a Rockefeller to donate something valuable. Your time and talent can even rival the purchasing power of cold, hard cash. So either volunteer to help with the day-to-day tasks undertaken by local charities, or offer a specialised service based on your own unique skill set: cook someone a delicious meal, design a pamphlet, offer some website tips or write a press release that could help a start-up business, or visit an elderly member of your community and help them out with repairs around the house. Baffled about where to start? Take a look at our overview of charities in Cape Town.
Save the world, one sandwich at a time. Buy a loaf of bread, a chunk of cheese, and a few tomatoes, then make a couple of sandwiches and hand them out to those in need on your way to work. You could make this venture even simpler: buy a big bag of whichever fruit is in season (it’s normally cheaper, and more delicious), and do the same. Rather give food than money to those in need; though, if you would like to donate money, there are plenty of Cape Town NGOs adept at allocating funds to the proper channels.
Buy the Big Issue. Just do it; don’t pretend you have a copy stowed away somewhere in your secret garden when a vendor comes past. Forking out the cash is a small thing, but it’ll make a big difference; as the proverbial saying goes, “the change is in your pocket”. Or, for that matter, spare R2 for the folks selling the ‘Funny Money’ pamphlets – you may even get a chuckle out of it.
Neighbourly love. Live next door to a single parent? See if you can babysit for an evening. Otherwise, visit a lonely elderly pensioner for a cup of tea, and while you’re there, change blown light bulbs, or give them a hand with another household chore that needs attention. The trick here is to keep your eyes open, and to notice the people around you.
Say thank you. Make someone else’s day by simply saying ‘thank you’. It can be as easy as taking a security guard a cup of coffee, or helping your kids draw a thank you card for their teacher or librarian. Similarly, random acts of kindness never go unnoticed: give way to another car in traffic, offer your seat to someone when travelling on public transport, encourage a colleague at work – be kind in any way you can. These gestures may seem small, but the ripple has to start somewhere.
Go local. Instead of employing a commercial company, support people in your community by hiring them to do jobs in your home or for your business. Additionally, consider buying foodstuffs or clothing tied to non-profit partnerships:
  • Khayelitsha Cookies: Devoted to making the best biscuits in South Africa, Khayelitsha Cookies is just as committed to their responsible, equal-opportunity hiring policy. The company only employs previously unemployed women from Khayelitsha, and then endows them with an invaluable, long-lasting skill set. The cookies can be found in the biscuit aisles of Pick n Pay and Spar grocery stores in the Western Cape.
  • Earthchild Clothing: The original donors responsible for financing the Earthchild Project, a non-profit organisation focused on the holistic development of children, teachers, schools and communities, this clothing line still gives a portion of their proceeds to this innovative initiative.
  • Cape Craft and Design Institute: This not-for-profit company is a joint initiative of the Provincial Government of the Western Cape and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology which supports craft producers, many of whom are poor people looking to enter the mainstream economy, and helps connect all involved in the product-to-market chain. Look out for CCDI handmade crafts at exhibitions, collective shops and festivals.   
Help your community in crisis and disaster situations. Cape Town can be unpredictable when it comes to natural events like storms and fires, which is why it’s a good idea to have as many hands on deck as possible when these acts occur.  The city’s Disaster Management volunteers have helped during infernos on Table Mountain, flooding in informal settlements and oil spills along the coastline, and anyone can join the regular meetings for training and information sessions. Call +27 (0)21 794 2493 (ext 228 or 221) to find out how you can get involved.
Spend 67 minutes at Living Hope in Fish Hoek. This non-profit Christian organisation is calling on individuals to help make its Capri campus on Kommetjie Road a little bit better for the community members who rely on its service. Bring along some tools and some friends to assist with maintenance tasks, like gardening, painting and cleaning, or lend a hand at the healthcare centre by serving tea and lunch to patients, cleaning up wheelchairs or sanding and varnishing furniture. Living Hope offers educational, health and social programmes for people living with HIV/AIDS in communities in the Cape Peninsula, including Overcome Heights, Masiphumelele and Red Hill. Volunteers are welcome to help in Capri from 10am to 3pm.
931 Kommetjie Road |Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 784 2800
Help #ExposeRapeCulture with the Rape Crisis Centre. There are several ways that men and women can help the Rape Crisis Centre with its Mandela Day campaign to challenge the myths and stereotypes that perpetuate sexual abuse and rape: firstly, individuals can post a picture of themselves on Facebook or Twitter holding up a statement that exposes or questions rape culture; use the tag #ExposeRapeCulture and include @RapeCrisis or RC Cape Town Trust in the post. Alternatively, activists can join the workshop on Monday, 14 July 2014 that’s aimed at helping individuals plan their own Mandela Day action in support of exposing rape, whether it’s a talk at a school, a T-shirt for colleagues or a letter to a member of Parliament. These actions will be filmed or photographed when they take place on Friday, 18 July 2014 for the Rape Crisis social media pages. The workshop takes place at the Rylands Public Library in Gatesville from 11:30am to 3:30pm. Finally, those who can’t give their time can make donations to the Rape Crisis Centre so the organisation can continue with the training programmes, law reform work and campaigns it does. Visit for more information.
Boulevard Balu Parker | Gatesville |
Help Cape Town Beach Cleanup achieve its goals for Mandela YEAR. The folks atCape Town Beach Cleanup have decided to take their 67 minutes efforts to the next level and transform Mandela Day into  Mandela Year by tackling several long-term projects. The organisation, which does community upliftment work in Joe Slovo Park, aims to give facelifts to three parks, paint a crèche wall, stock the primary school’s library with good-quality reference books, put together a one-year feeding plan for 50 little ones at the crèche and do a home makeover for a family of orphaned children. Volunteers can drop by on Friday, 18 July between 10am and 5pm to do some painting or work in the parks; donations of materials – from brushes and rollers to paint and thinners – will be more than appreciated. Folks can also make donations towards the library and feeding projects, and bigger organisations can even opt to sponsor groceries for a month or more. Email to confirm your visit on Mandela Day or to get involved on a long-term basis.
Join Mandela Day efforts at the V&A Waterfront. The V&A Waterfront is set to be a hub of activity on Mandela Day. For starters, a shipping container, which has been made over into a childcare centre to be donated to Breadline Africa, has been erected at the Clock Tower Square, and visitors can drop off blankets, books and toys for kids up to six years old every day from 9am to 5pm until Friday, 18 July. On that day, Archbishop Desmond Tutu will speak, host painting and reading activities with children and officially hand over the container. To mark the occasion, the entire area will be a carnival of fun, with buskers, balloon sculpting, face painting and more. Additionally, kids of all ages can spend their 67 minutes creating Mandela-inspired artworks for the little patients at Somerset Hospital at the Artjamming studio between 9am and 4pm. The activity costs R67, which will go towards improving the children’s wing at the hospital. Booking is advised and can be made by emailing
V&A Waterfront| Breakwater Boulevard |+27 (0) 21 408 7500
Build kennels for dogs in Khayelitsha. Join Mdzananda Animal Clinic, the only permanent veterinary service offered in Khayelitsha, for 67 minutes of reconstructing wooden pallets into dog kennels for their four-legged charges on Friday, 18 July (if you are coming as part of a corporate or work group) and on Saturday, 19 July (if you are coming as an individual). Volunteers are asked to donate either R67 or R167 (whichever they can afford) to cover the cost of the doggie houses and to bring a hammer, paintbrushes and any additional materials, like wood and nails, to assist in the building. The not-so-handy can help paint the clinic, plant some greens or arrange items in the charity shop, and everyone is also encouraged to bring old clothes, bric-a-brac and books for the store. Folks can also get lunch catered by Learn for Earn for an additional R50. If you intend on participating, RSVP via email to
21297 Govan Mbeki Road | Khayelitsha |+27 (0) 21 433 1942  
Join the knit-a-thon at the Mandela Rhodes Place Hotel and Spa. Spend your 67 minutes knitting, crocheting or sewing at the Mandela Rhodes Place Hotel’s knit-a-thon for the Little Fighters Cancer Trust, which offers assistance and support to families affected by childhood cancer. Visitors are invited to bring their knitting needles to the hotel’s atrium to make blocks that will be sewn into blankets or quilts, or they can also drop off some fabric, blankets and activity books and crayons if they don’t have much time. Volunteers will get yoghurt, chocolate mousse and coffee while they knit, and they also have chance to win several great prizes, including a stay at the city hotel. Drop by anytime between 11am and 4pm on Mandela Day.
Wale Street | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 556 8200
Help Habitat for Humanity build 67 houses in one week. Individuals and organisations are asked to donate their time or money to help Habitat for Humanity and the Nelson Mandela Foundation build 67 houses for people living in Pelican Park from Monday, 14 July to Friday, 18 July. Volunteers don’t have to be experts and can expect to get involved with tasks like cement mixing, brick passing and plastering and bagging walls. On the fourth day, the teams of helpers will work around the clock in a 24-hour blitz-build to try to hit – and even exceed – the target, and then on Mandela Day, the houses will be officially handed over to their new owners.  Contact Adrienne Burke at for more information.
Join the knit-a-thon at Noordhoek Farm Village. While you’re hanging out at the Noordhoek Farm Village you can pop by the bandstand and knit a square, or even just a section of a square, that will go towards making blankets for Madisencane Crèche in Masiphumelele. The area was recently devastated by a fire, and the little ones need to keep warm during winter. People can also donate wool or funds to buy wool, and if they have more time, they can even knit scarves, socks or gloves to give to the children. The box of yarn with knitting goods will be at the bandstand between 9am and 4pm every day from Friday, 11 July until Mandela Day, and completed squares can be dropped off at the Noordhoek Tourism Office. for more information.
Village Lane | Noordhoek | +27 (0) 21 789 2812
Become a bookworm. Donate new or used books to The Bookery at its new location on Plein Street, or pop by before Mandela Day to spend an early 67 minutes covering books in protective plastic before they go on the shelves. The centre, which sets up and supports libraries in needy areas, is also looking for fiction and non-fiction reading material for school-aged children (from 6 to 18 years). Those looking to make a longer-term contribution can donate funds or a certain specialised skill that could help The Bookery serve the communities it supports.
79 Plein Street | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 461 4189
The gift of life. Donate blood at your local hospital, and you’ll feel dizzy with the knowledge that you’ve potentially saved someone’s life; a single donation could aid up to three people in need and only takes about 30 minutes. To find a blood drive in your area on Mandela Day, visit the Western Province Blood Transfusion Service site or call +27 (0)21 507 6300. Alternatively, there are currently thousands of South African citizens waiting for life-saving organ donations, so take the time to register with the Organ Donor Foundation (+27 (0)800 22 66 11).  
Minimise your negative impact on the environment. Start by spending your 67 minutes implementing a recycling system for your rubbish: separate your food waste from your solid waste, create a container for the recyclable items and consider making a worm farm to compost your biodegradable left-overs. Look into installing solar panels so your geyser can run on renewable energy, and buy a geyser blanket to reduce the amount of power needed to heat the water. Find ways to limit the amount of water you use, such as installing eco-friendly taps and shower heads that minimise flow. Interested in sowing more serious seeds?
  • Plant a tree with Greenpop. This Cape Town-born social enterprise is devoted to raising environmental awareness, planting in under-greened communities and combating climate change. You can donate a tree (R120 – R140) or donate your time: every Wednesday they call for volunteers to help plant at schools, crèches, orphanages or similar institutions. Contact will be planting 67 trees with Personal Trust International (Pty) Ltd for Mandela Day. 
  • Recycle: A large portion of household and office waste can be recycled; it’s just a matter of knowing what and how. Take a look at this extensive guide on recycling in Cape Town and start doing your part for the environment. 
Drop into the Douglas Murray Home. Donate your time or some much-needed goods to the Douglas Murray Home, which is located in the suburb of Retreat in the Cape Flats and provides care for 80 elderly and frail men and women.  People can donate dry and perishable goods, personal products or money, and they can also spend some time with the residents. The folks at the home could also use some assistance with grooming and cleaning the residents, meal preparation and maintenance around the home and in the garden. Volunteers need to book for a specific time when they want to visit the home by emailing
52 Gordon Searle Street | Retreat | +27 (0) 21 712 2146
Make HOPE bracelets for the Chaeli Campaign. The Chaeli Campaign, a non-profit organisation that offers support for children living with disabilities, will be at the Blue Route Mall in Tokai from 10am to 5pm for their Mandela Day challenge. For R67, shoppers can make and purchase HOPE (Helping Other People Everyday) bracelets – all the charms, beads and twine will be provided. Volunteers will get to make three pieces of jewellery: one to keep for themselves, one to pay-it-forward to someone else who might appreciate the gesture and the third to go back to the Chaeli Campaign. Email for more information.
16 Tokai Road | Tokai | +27 (0) 861 242 354 
Volunteer at Oranjezicht City Farm. You can help this urban agriculture initiative, which aims to provide hands-on community gardening education in order to create access to fresh organic vegetables, in a number of different ways: work directly in the garden farming and operations; share your knowledge with youth and adults by giving talks and demonstrations; update the website, newsletter and articles; take photographs for the communications division; or provide administrative services, which involve volunteer coordination, legal, fundraising, accounting and auditing. The garden is situated next to the corner of Sidmouth Avenue and Upper Orange Street in Oranjezicht, and urban farming takes place on Saturday mornings from 7am onwards. Go to for more information or contact Sheryl at +27 (0)83 628 3426 or Kurt at +27 (0)83 508 1066.
Feel inspired with these magical Madiba moments caught on tape.
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Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday, July 18th, Kylemore B, Cape Town, South Africa


After a bit of rain this morning, Quinton took us for a drive through Cape Town and out to some wine country estates.  We began with a tour of the city, got a lay of the land and the seaside reclamation areas, and saw the colorful house paint protests against oppression.

Our wine-tasting was at Fairview, a remarkably well-presented wine and cheese estate at the foot of Paarl Mountain.  The flight of eight wines and selected cheese was excellent, and contained a unique single selection of two Shiraz from the same year, prepared under the same conditions, one from dry clay soil on the other side of the mountain, and the other from wet sandy ski near the property.  Pat liked one, and I liked the other.
We then had lunch at the Winery's restaurant, the Goatshed,  before driving to several more wine estate stops along the route to Stellenbosch.  I particularly enjoyed the stop at the gates to the prison where Nelson Mandela was released, and Quinton sharing his memories of the day and its drama.

In the afternoon, we walked around in the town of Stellenbosch. A university town, it was the second oldest European settlement in the province.  Founded in 1679 by the Governor of the Cape Colony, its soil, water, and climate made it perfect for school, military, and viticultural adventures.

We ended the day with a dinner at a traditional Africaaner restaurant, and continued our tradition of not being able to finish the huge meal without doggy-bags.  To see the few photos we took tray, click on Friday, July 18th, Kylemore B, Cape Town, South Africa.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thursday, July 17th, Kylemore B, Cape Town, South Africa


Out first tour ended last night, and we are so grateful for the work of Quinton Conroy, Africa's Child Safaris, and Kiboko Safaris.  We will stay in touch with Quinton and his family, and want them to see an album of photos of Quinton in action to partially make up for keeping him busy with us.
We're cocooning in Cape Town today in a rainstorm, enjoying speedy wifi and later the Two Oceans Aquarium.  I may get to learn more about the "informal communities" here, and I'll include photos and commentary in a later post.

To see the photos we took today, click on Thursday, July 17th, Kylemore B, Cape Town, South Africa.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wednesday, July 16th, Kylemore B, Cape Town, South Africa


It's Ken's birthday!  Pat's brother and wife Dianne are staying at our house in Santa Rosa, and we sure hope they are celebrating his birthday in great style.  We toasted him at breakfast this morning from South Africa, and then moved out of the Breakwater, and traveled by tour bus about 300 hundred yards to the high rise apartments directly across the waterfront lagoon from the One and Only Hotel (which spent $26 million on its opening night gala).
We're delighted with the apartment, which is only a short walk from all of the restaurants and stores.  After getting a full tour of the apartment, and an orientation to the security and entertainment equipment, we unloaded our laundry and are doing a big wash.

We'll let you know what we're doing next when we figure it out.

To see the photos we took yesterday on our trip to the Cape of Good Hope, click on Tuesday, July 15th, Kylemore B, Cape Town, South Africa.  Or to see today's photos, click on: Wednesday, July 16th, Kylemore B, Cape Town, South Africa.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday, July 14th, Protea Breakwater Lodge, Cape Town, South Africa


What a beautiful day!  On the road early to make the long drive between Knysna and Cape Town, we got to see the south coast of the country.  Several clear views of beach breaks from the top of hills helped make my day, when we weren’t passing sheep, canola oil seed fields, and a variety of high income communities built in the 1950’s once this coast had a decent road to it.  It is truly amazing how this country can support such a disparity between the housing of its people.  While I understand that apartheid was ended, segregation of residences has not.

When we reached the top of the valley overlooking Cape Town, the views were spectacular.  Four million people wrapped around a large bay with a point extending all the way out to one of the southern most points in Africa.

Descending into town, we topped that view off by driving up to the mountain gondola taking visitors to the top of Table Mountain. 
A distinct floral environment, and one of the oldest rocks on the earth, it proclaims itself one of the seven natural wonders of the world. 

To see the photos we took today, click on Monday, ProteaBreakwater Lodge, Cape Town, South Africa.