Sunday, 28th August 2016 saw an early arrival at King Shaka International Airport. The first of 13 YAP participants for this year’s incoming tour, had arrived! Bubbly and vivacious, Sophie Terhyden, arrived earlier than the others and that allowed us to take her to lunch and get her Euro payment exchanged into SA Rand, so that we could kick the Tour off, on a positive, financial note. Thanks for arriving early Sophie!
Later on, Adrian Pretorius, President of the Durban 41ers who then hosted a welcoming function at his home, joined us. This took the form of a traditional South African braai. Lots of good 'unbroken chain fellowship' ensued with the likes of Keith Kewley, Dash Singh and other, well-known, Durban 41ers. Rather bleary eyed, but eager Young Ambassadors climbed aboard the hired Mercedes Sprinter bus the next morning, bound for St Lucia and the Zululand 41ers. We had removed the rear row of seats to accommodate luggage, which also removed the need, to lug a trailer around the countryside.
Roche Terblanche, our contracted driver, took to his task like a duck to water & made the seamless transition from 'driver' to 'friend' and really fitted in well with his new fellow travellers and was an instant hit as he 'played Dad', to the group. Thanks must be recorded to Past President Koos Coetzee for arranging such a perfect candidate for this task. Peter Harding, our 41er DC, led the charge on this next exciting leg of the trip and was ably assisted by Richard Stone, an old ARTSA convenor! After travelling some 160km from Durban to Richards Bay, they made the connection and the travelled a further 75km to the St Lucia Ski Boat Club, to view the flora & fauna of that area by spying crocodiles, hippopotami, avian feathered creatures with all sorts of vibrant hue and feather, small antelope that all seemingly 'own the town' and move around the town, at THEIR leisure!
The early evening was rounded off with fellowship, around the traditional potjie. An early start saw the group off on an excursion to Dinezulu Zulu Cultural Village, where all sorts of Zulu culture was shown to the YAP’s. The ladies even learnt, or tried to learn, how to balance the large Zulu beer gourds/vessels, on their heads. These cultural exchanges were followed by the greatly anticipated trip into the Umfolozi and Hluhluwe National Game reserve to hopefully see first hand, in the wild, the BIG 5! The group was extremely lucky to see 3 of the 5 as with all animals in the wild, they are generally elusive! This therefore increased the need and desires to spot the Leopard and the Lion. The pressure was on and I was asked by the YAP’s to 'make it happen'! No pressure!! Lunch was served at the famous 'river picnic site' on the Umfolozi River, in the Game Reserve and was thoroughly enjoyed by all who felt, at this stage, extremely close to nature, with Rhinos and babies eating/grazing, peacefully nearby!
Chris Swartz and 41ers DC, Keith Dempsey met the group in Durban at the World Cup 2010 Moses Mabhida Stadium and they were taken around on a sightseeing adventure of this sporting precinct. The Toti Splash Waterworld was a blast where lunch was enjoyed. Supper took the form of a Sosatie (kebab) Braai with Craft Beers and was enjoyed by all.
Ramsgate beachfront and the enjoyment of some delicious waffles at the famous ‘Waffle House’, was the highlight of the next day, followed by a truly great evening of fellowship and lasagne supper with the 41ers and Round Tablers at the world famous 'Sheppie 83 beachfront clubhouse'. Sheppie, as always, put on a good show and thanks must be recorded to Tom Pearson and his team. Thanks also to Ian and Sharon Smith who very kindly accommodated everyone at their Honeywood Lodge and Spa. The Wild Coast Walk Adventure, was the mid tour break, which saw all participants set out at low tide to walk the 2 hour walk from the Wild Coast Sun, to Mnyameni River mouth. This expanse of beach was interspersed with an informative stop off at the 'petrified forest' which showcases the amazing preservation and fossilisation of huge trees that are evident along this stretch of coast. These ‘stone forests’ are also scattered with really interesting ‘shell middens’ that relate an amazing history in the form of fossils that have been found. Truly a heritage site, that needs to be protected at all costs!
The arrival of the hungry, ‘Wild Side Walkers’, saw them tuck into gourmet hot dogs. The afternoon was spent kayaking across the river and a hike up to the ‘waterfall rock’ and huge rock pool, which was accessed by a 5-metre ‘jump on the wild side’.
Dinner saw the famed ‘East Coast Lobster on the Braai’ make its debut, this was coupled with the most succulent of rump steak, which gave it the rightly deserved title of a true ‘Surf & Turf’ meal. Even our vegetarian participant enjoyed the experience (yes we do cater for all tastes and dietary requirements!) She had salad and cheese all nicely sliced by a Norwegian Pewter Cheese slicer!
The next morning saw a lazy start and the plan was to be back at Izotsha Creek Estate by 3pm so that we could get everyone safely to Underberg/Sani, by nightfall. After a sumptuous brunch, the group made its way back to the Wild Coast Sun, on foot again, where the bus was waiting. The walkers did extremely well and enjoyed the walking experience. Half an hour later, the YAP’s enjoyed a nice hot shower and was refreshed and on their way, via Kokstad, to meet up with the 41ers and Tablers at Alex & Jen Mc Arthurs Snow hill Ranch.
Sani Pass, the actual climb from Himeville to the top of the Mountain, is done only in a group of 4x4’s and this was arranged through the Round Tablers at Sani 152. Basi Tours did the actual transfer and the YAP’s enjoyed an unforgettable tour of the Basotho Cultural Village and of course too enjoyed ‘a drink or three’ at the ‘Highest Pub in Africa’. A great thanks, to the Mc Arthurs who hosted the entire group for two nights on their farm. A baby donkey, recently born on the farm was a cuddly talking point as the sun set to the tinkling of ice in sun-downer glasses, on another fabulous day in Africa.
Pietermaritzburg is always an excellent stopover on the way to the mountains. DC George Wessels, Angus Flockhart and Nico McNamara made sure that our YAP’s saw some Lions! Although these were of the “ex circus” variety, coming from the infamous Brian’s Circus, and the Lion Park, however, they were indeed lions. Now we just needed a leopard! The afternoon Karkloof Canopy Tour was an excellent adventure that was enjoyed by all. ‘Zip lining’ through the treetops, is an exhilarating experience that should be tried at least once, so come on, face your fear. On to a ‘Shebeen Evening’ organised by Past RTI President Waldo Thole in Dundee! The Round Table Clubhouse was the venue for this traditional type of evening. Here our YAP’s learnt to do ‘Gumboot Dancing’ another famous South African weekend pastime. This was followed by another Game drive followed by a visit to a really large Milk Dairy. The evening function was again filled with tradition, where YAP’s were each given a small black cast iron three legged pot and encouraged to prepare their own, ‘potjie’. A really great function enjoyed by all. Thanks to Waldo and his team for organising this interlude in Dundee. Next morning early, Stuart Cumming a 41er, transported Anja and Tim Segenberger, to the airport for an early return flight home, to attend a family wedding. The rest of the group travelled on to Van Reenen’s Pass and the Green Lantern for the 41ers AGM.
The YAP’s enjoyed clay pigeon shooting in the afternoon, after lunch. Thereafter all got prepared for the Night of the Stars theme evening and there were many laughs as revellers donned some authentic and no so authentic outfits. The Outgoing YAP’s from South Africa were also there to enjoy fellowship and make new friends with the Incoming YAP’s. Many a friendship was made between the YAP’s and some of the parents of the outgoing group, on this evening. The morning saw the power presentations by both Incoming and Outgoing groups and was well received by the general body of the 41ers and spouses attending the AGM. Hopefully these presentations will encourage 41ers to participate and send their youngsters on a once in a lifetime experience. This was followed by a bus trip to the Cheetah Lodge, to see more cats. The group was not disappointed. Some also took the opportunity to visit Clarens, for some country shopping. The evening function, which saw a new 41ers Board inducted as the new leadership of the 41ers of Southern Africa, was as always, a glittering affair. After staying over at a B&B next to the smallest church in South Africa, it was time to say our farewells to all at the AGM and wend our way back to the Airport. The group stopped off at Gateway for some last minute retail therapy and were seen off at the Airport by the YAP Convenor. A memorable YAP tour had come to an end with the only negative...it was too short!
It is already planned that we can enjoy an extra week as we take in the Eastern Cape and Border areas on our way to and from the AGM in Bloemfontein next year. Watch this space!
I thank all the co convenors and locality organisers, for all their hard work and input into what has been, by all accounts and feedback, a great, but short tour.