Expedition Africa opening eyes to the beauty and history of our area.

Following Expedition Africa has not only been a rather interesting exercise in managing one’s social media activity but also renewed this scribe’s interest in the beauty and history of an area where I have roots dating back to the 1800’s. Although aware of these roots I really never paid much attention to the history of the Gamtoos valley, wonders of the Baviaans or indeed the entire surrounding area. That was until Expedition Africa that has made me so much more aware of just what an amazing area we have on our doorstep.

The short article on Expedition Africa ‘s website yesterday on the natural phenomena of the Bergvenster natural arch created by natural weathering of the Enon conglomerate and the manmade Philips Tunnel, the first tunnel scheme in South Africa certainly piqued my interest to start exploring a little more. https://fireflyafrica.blogspot.co.za/2013/11/phillips-tunnel-in-hankey.html

Although Natal born & bred I have ties back to the Gamtoos area where my great grandparents must have farmed (I wonder if I can make a land claim) and where my grandfather CJE ‘Charlie’ Smith’ was born. Schooled in Cradock,  Charlie went on to play cricket for the then Transvaal earning his Springbok colours at Wanderers against Australia in October 1902.

But I digress so back to the race.

The ‘dark zone’ in the Baviaans was always of major concern to the organisers and it seems for good reason for one of the leading teams. Skylotech. The Swedish team, one of the favourites for top honours had an encounter of an African kind when they came face to face with some buffalo. There was no danger as a patrolling buffalo watch team were there to intervene and the Swedes were able to continue unscathed but with a story to tell their childern and grandchildren in years to come about their encounter in the African bushveld.

Several teams managed to get through the dark zone before it was shut down to ensure team safety so those who beat the clock certainly have a huge advantage. Thunderbolt (Australia) seems to have grabbed the lead from Skylotech (Sweden) with East Wind (Japan), Nantes (France) and the leading South African team Nevarest Jabberwock in hot pursuit.  The leading teams will have started Leg 8 by the time you read this post. Leg 8 sees the teams having to do some rope work before getting back onto their kayaks for a paddle down the Gamtoos. No doubt we will see the leading teams jockeying for position over the next few hours. My money is on the Swedes starting the run ahead of the Aussies on the run into Jeffreys Bay.

To see the route that Expedition is following there is a very informative video on YouTube


that will give you a better idea of where they have come from and where they are going when read with the live tracking http://www.kineticgear.org/gps-tracking/