Why 2017 is the year dot.

In the original year dot the Earth was a healthy planet, but over time humans have multiplied, made some poor choices and the Earth is now in crisis.

How do you fix a planet, where do you even start?

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Actually, it’s simple; you download an app and you Do One Thing.

The #DotChallenge is an acronym for Do One Thing and works on basic maths.

I can commit to saving 3500 litres of water a month by having a shower instead of a bath. Big deal. But if a hundred or a thousand or a million people in my city do the same thing, it makes a huge difference.

Once you start making small changes to save water, conserve energy and reduce waste it starts becoming a way of life.

The DOT app provides ideas or DOTS that you can commit to and covers everyday actions relating to water, waste, energy and conservation.

It is an easy way to create awareness, start conversations and change mind-sets and habits.

The app was launched on 1st January 2017. Download here for Android and here for iPhone.

When the world goes dotty it will be a good thing.

For a full explanation of the DOTChallenge and the app, click here.

These guys are totally dotty

Two intrepid adventurers will be rowing the Cape to Rio route to raise awareness for the DOT Challenge and you can follow their progress on the app, and see the number of dots grow as more people download it and start adding their dots.

Clyde Barendse and Braam Malherbe will be rowing 6700km over 2 to 3 months in this tiny craft, the Mhondoro.

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The boats weighs about a tonne fully laden, which is quite a weight to propel by rowing.

It has a tiny cabin that contains the navigation equipment, charts, personal gear, a tool box, medical kit and provisions. There is just enough space for one person to curl up and sleep or two people to sit with the door closed during extremely adverse weather conditions.

On the other end of the boat is a much smaller cabin that houses the auto and manual helm that controls the rudder. The rudder can be programmed via a remote by Braam or Clyde while they are rowing. During rough conditions and large swells the back rudder will be used to allow the boat to surf the waves. Approaching the waves side on would cause the boat to capsize, although it is designed to automatically right itself.

The rest of the space on the boat is taken up by the two slide rowing seats. For the entire duration of the trip Braam and Clyde will be strapped to the boat.

The days and nights will be a never ending cycle of eat |  sleep  |  row | repeat.

Eating.

The boat is stocked with freeze dried food sufficient for 90 days. Only 30% of the meals are wet food, and are of the boil in a bag variety, cooked on a Jetboil in 3 to 4 minutes. The average meal contains 800 calories and extra treats include biltong, almonds and macadamia nuts.

This is not a foodie adventure, its pure survival.

Water will be obtained via a battery powered Schenker Water Maker. The battery is charged via the solar panels on the top of the cabin and the hatch. A hand operated water maker is on board as a back-up.

Entertainment

To break the endless eat, sleep, row routine, Braam and Clyde will take turns to go overboard into the sea every day, attached to the 40m line. This is bath and toilet time, recreation time and a chance to observe and record what is happening in the ocean.

They will be taking photos and video with a GoPro Hero 5 and a low light 4k camera.

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The 1st January was the planned launch date but poor weather conditions prevented Clyde and Braam from starting their epic journey, and they are still waiting for the go ahead from the weather gurus.

Download Windy.tv  This is a great app to see how wind, currents and swells will affect their trip, and give you your daily weather where ever you may be.

Follow the conversation at #DOTChallenge and #CapeToRioRow

FOLLOW THE CAMPAIGN ON SOCIAL MEDIA

DO ONE THING

Facebook /DotDo1Thing

Twitter @DOTDo1Thing

Instagram @DOTDo1Thing

Earning your stripes is so last year, get out there and go dotty.

I have downloaded the app and created my profile. I challenge all my blogger friends and every one of my 98 000 Twitter followers to do the same.

We will make a difference.

I can’t fix the planet but I can DO ONE THING.

Zip-lining West Coast style

Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort is 170km from Cape Town on the N7, situated just after the top of the pass with the same name. The Cederberg Mountains shimmer in blues and greys in the distance and the road we arrived on continues its twists and turns for another eight kilometres to the farming town of Citrusdal, appearing as a hazy mini land at the foot of the valley.

We arrived just after nine in the morning on a perfect Cape West Coast winters day. Impossibly blue skies contradicted the chill in the air, and the bright sun lights up rocks and trees in copper tones.

Trees in winter Piekenierskloof Di Brown

Sitting on the deck overlooking the Olifant’s River Valley we dived in to welcome bowls of creamy butternut soup, warm spicy breadsticks, and steaming hot coffee. Bellies full and bodies warmed we were ready for our adventure. Zip lining !

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Safety trumps fashion as we gear up and listen to the briefing of the do’s and don’ts when zip lining. I don’t think the full body harnesses suits many people, but I do feel reassured that it won’t come off under any circumstances. The lovely Shammy Shamrock manages to own the look, styling in her bright colours, clips and safety gear.

Before I have time to wonder if I am nervous, I am on the first platform being clipped in and looking over the dam to my landing point some 90 meters away. Natasha, our guide is calm and reassuring and with a big smile, she sends me on my way.

 “I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky” sings R.Kelly in my head and I forget about the lines, the harness and the helmet and embrace the freedom. For a moment it is just me, traveling in the air looking up at the endless blue and down at the rocky ground, burnt trees and vivid greens of the new growth.

Yes, I am flying and it’s awesome.

The line Pikenierskloof Di Brown

This is a perfect experience for first timers or anyone who is keen to try but is a little apprehensive about the thought of zip- lining.

Some zip-line adventures involve platforms that are extremely high up and bolted to rock faces or trees and the views looking down  are knee trembling sheer drops into a wild abyss. Totally awesome if you have zip-lined before or are hooked on adrenalin rush adventures, but nerve wracking if you have even the smallest fear of heights and do not know what to expect once you take off.

The zipline platforms Pikenierskloof Di Brown

The platforms here are a manageable four to six meters above the ground making the leap of faith into fresh air an easy one.

They also have a braking method that I particularly enjoyed as I am not any good at the traditional method of braking which involves using your  gloved hand to push down on the line behind your head.

This method has you positioned with both hands in front of you, slightly above your head, holding onto two  handles that are attached to a metal runner clipped onto the line. It gives you full control of your speed as it’s as simple as “push up  to go pull down  to  stop” After the first slide, for the first time ever, I was a zip- lining pro and it felt good.

Views from the zipline Piekenierskloof Di Brown

Waiting my turn to do the second slide I got distracted by the incredible abandoned building next to the platform . Wandering through the remains of  this home with no roof and  crumbling walls, the windows reveal magnificent views and I pause to think about who might have lived here, what is their story and why did they leave such a beautiful place. Hopefully I will find out next time.

Piekenierskloof views Di Brown

On the 16th January 2016 a wild fire raged out of control and for two days the staff and every available hand fought the flames that approached from all sides. The burnt vegetation is still visible no more than twenty meters from the hotel buildings. Staff members tell me that the expertise of Jan Horn, the GM of Piekenierskloof, and an ex Firefighter for the City Of Cape Town, is what saved the resort.

The existing zip-lines that crossed the valley were all burned down or damaged and we were there to celebrate the re- opening of the first three of the seven new slides.

The Shadow Minister of Tourism toasts the success of another WestCoast adventure attraction.

James and Nadia, ready to fly Di Brown

Piekenierskloof took this opportunity to make this adventure even better than before and the new slides are longer, traversing down the valley rather than across it, making them even more exciting.

Its easy Piekenierskloof zipline Di Brown

The remaining four lines will be open to the public around the end of August 2016 and promise to provide thrills to all who dare to #ZipLineKloof. I can’t wait.

Ziplining at Pikenierskloof Di BrownZipline Piekenierskloof Di Brown

The cost for zip-lining is extremely affordable at ZAR150 per person for three slides or ZAR250 per person for all seven slides.

Other activities worth looking at are target shooting, MTB routes, hikes and walks.

For the less active give your taste buds some excitement with pure West Coast flavours that involve chocolate and other tasty treats paired with local wines and / or Carmien Teas. This is Rooibos and citrus country where you get the very best, very fresh.

For after action relaxation the Piekenierskloof Wellness Centre can soothe and pamper you, or you can refresh in the heated indoor pool or swim outdoors where the views are truly magnificent.

Pknsklf pool Di Brown

Piekenierskloof is part of the WestCoastWay Berg Route. This route offers a variety of tastes, culture, adventure and nature and is a comprehensive way to discover and explore the area.

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How to book and all the details.

For zip-line bookings in the pre-scheduled time slots (and with at least a day’s notice to ensure availability) contact Natasha on 022 9213574. Guests must arrive at least 30 minutes prior to complete an indemnity form at Reception and bookings are weather permitting.
For more information on Piekenierskloof and the West Coast Way Berg Route, as well as the list of 101 Things to Do on the West Coast visit www.westcoastway.co.zaor call West Coast Way on 0861 321 777. Connect with West Coast Way on Facebook and Twitter at WestCoastWaySA.

Facilities available at Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort

  • Accommodation • Child Friendly • Bar • Restaurant (Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner) • Outdoor Pool • Indoor Heated Pool • Wheelchair Accessibility (Chalets 9 & 16, Hotel Room 217) • 4 Star Tourism Grading • Trip Advisor • Conference Facilities • Wedding and Function Venue • Tuck Shop • Un-Guided Nature Walks • Online Booking Facilities

Contact: Reservations +27 (0)22 921 3574  | pkloof@dreamresorts.co.za

Pikenierskloof dam Di Brown

 

Great White Sharks. Discover, protect and fall in love.

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Announce “I am going shark cage diving” and I guarantee you will get one of these three reactions.

  1. You are so brave, I am way too scared to try that
  2. It is so wrong, I am a conservationist
  3. Can I join you? A selfie with a Great White would be awesome

 

I won a Shark Cage Dive with Marine Dynamics and my first reaction was all 3 points above, coupled with a large dose of sheer terror.

So great was my fear that it took me 4 months to claim my prize.

Fortunately, all three initial reactions and my abject terror were way off base and totally unfounded.

As a self- professed coward who likes to pretend to be a ninja, and has bragged about going shark cage diving, it is true confession time.

Shark Cage Diving really is not scary. Not even a little bit.

As someone with an overactive imagination and a dominant drama queen gene, my fears were plentiful, and not confined to being eaten to death, or slightly maimed by a Great White.

I was very concerned about the cage.

Was it strong enough, would I be claustrophobic, what if I hated it and wanted to get out.

What if it came loose from the boat and I was trapped inside it?

 

 IMG_3293 IMG_3285 IMG_3283Reassuring cage facts.

Although the sharks are not known for attempting to bite the cage, if it came to that the cage would win every time.

Professionally engineered from 25mm stainless steel squared tubing covered with 6mm security mesh, the cage will not rust or break, and as an extra precaution it is checked thoroughly after every dive.

My claustrophobic  fears were stilled when I saw that there is a lid on the top of the cage, but it was not locked down, so a push from inside, or a call to the crew who are always right there and it is lifted up in seconds, allowing you to get out. At all times there is a meter of space between the sea water and the top of the cage, so even the biggest heads will fit comfortably, and drowning is not a concern.

The boat “Slashfin” is the only boat in the industry that was designed to accommodate the shark cage, as well as the sea conditions specific to the area. It is also the only boat made entirely from aluminium, so rusting and sinking is not going to happen. Ever.

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The cage is winched into the water and firmly secured on both ends to the side of the boat using multiple safety ropes.

The cage sits snugly up against the boat and moves as one with it in the swell as the sharks drift by.

Numerous floats are placed between the boat and the cage to prevent bumping, and in the unlikely event of the cage becoming detached from the boat, it would float. This means that sinking to the bottom of Shark Alley while trapped in a cage is not a valid concern. Good to know.

Renting a wetsuit might not bother some, but I had a bit of an “eeeeuw” reaction to the thought of that. Wetsuits are quite personal, I think. Not quite in the category of underwear, but close.

The first time I rented a wetsuit I was so excited about having a surfing lesson that I never gave it a second thought. The wetsuit was dry, and I was totally focussed on contorting my lumpy body into it, so no further thought process could occur.

The next time I needed to don one of these rubber onesies I was preparing for a shark cage dive.

Probably as a diversionary tactic, my mind started wandering into the territory of the potential “yuk factor” of sharing a wetsuit.

I am sure some people wee in a wetsuit. From fright, physical need or don’t care less attitudes, whatever the reason, someone else’s smelly urine has been in that wetsuit.  Other nasty facts popped into my head like Stratum Corneum or skin cells from someone else’s body. Most people shed about 30 – 40 000 of these every hour, and you are in your wetsuit for 2-3 hours. That is a lot of skin cells!

Then there is Micrococcus Sedentarius, a horrid little bacteria that produces volatile sulphur compounds and is the reason for yukky, smelly feet.

The wetsuits include hoods, and that tapped in to my personal number one on the yuk factor scale, Sebum from dirty, oily hair. You know that awful hair smell I am talking about? Aargh, it is just too gross to contemplate.

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Fortunately, Marine Dynamics know all about these nasties and have a rigorous wetsuit cleaning process, with a huge dedicated washing and air drying area. They use a specialised wetsuit washing product, and add an extra rinse in the cleaning process. I saw it with my own eyes, and chatted to Bruce Bulelani who manages it and checks each  Reef wetsuit after it has been washed. There are over 100 wetsuits in circulation and an extra 25 brand new ones on standby.  Every 6 months the wetsuits are replaced. This means you will never have to put on a wetsuit that is not pristinely clean, sweet smelling in a rubbery way, and bone dry.

The actual dive.

Looking like a stunted penguin, but happy in my nice clean wetsuit, booties, gloves, weight belt and mask, I climbed into the cage. My emotions were all over the place, ranging from apprehension to excitement, and everything else in between. My first thought was registering the coldness of the water, but that was rectified in under a minute as the wetsuit did its job. The next task was finding the foot bar and grab rail for when we got the shout to “go down, look left” from the spotting crew above us. Being a shorty, this involved a bit of a stretch, but worked just fine.

This done I settled down, enjoying the absence of sea sickness in the cage, and did a few practice runs submerging and looking around.

It struck me for the first time that I was out in the open sea, a visitor in the territory of a might predator. Strangely this did not make me fearful. The first shark that came along was about 2 meters away, she swam past us twice, looking slightly bored. Then another one came by, and another, it was like watching a graceful dance. One shark did come face first towards the cage, but it was not with any jaw snapping sense of menace, but more an inquisitiveness to see what this was. Somehow, this was so different to seeing these ocean kings in an aquarium. You realise how large and powerful they are and how much space they need to in order to move uninhibited.

I had expected sharks being lured towards the cage, teeth flashing, bumping the cage while we screamed in delight and terror. What I experienced was so much better than that.  There is a collective gasp when a shark swims close to the cage, but for the rest of the time you are silent, lost in awe of these beauties. They are graceful, they appear intelligent, they are so much bigger than you imagine. Some seem to be more playful and breach out of the water, others drift lazily past and a few swim fast, darting about as though in a hurry.

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I expected a cheap thrill but instead I fell in love.

Getting out of the cage the reaction was unanimous.

Bright eyed, grinning, shivering saying

“That was awesome, but nothing like what I expected.”

If you do a shark dive and still want a selfie with a menacing looking shark, you have missed the point somewhere.

Seeing the Great White Shark where it is supposed to be is a privilege, and a very humbling experience. I made me rethink every thought I have ever had about sharks, recognise their vulnerability and respect them for their instinct to survive.

The ethical issue. I am no expert, but I do have a brain and I have done some homework.

There are many companies offering close encounters with wild animals and claim to do it in the name of rehabilitation or research, when in fact it is primarily a profit making enterprise that pays lip service to conservation. I believe companies like this should not exist as they promote misconceptions.

Wildlife is wild and should never be viewed as a plaything for humans.

That said, I do not believe Marine Dynamics is one of these companies. If your concern is that Shark Cage Diving taps into this, do some homework and then make an educated decision.

The motto of Marine Dynamics is Discover and Protect. These are not just words. Speak to any of the staff and they positively glow with pride when they tell you about the sharks and the latest developments in the research being conducted by the Dyer Island Conservation Trust.

The Trust was started by Wilfred Chivell who is the owner of Marine Dynamics and Dyer Island Cruises. These 2 companies fund the trust, which contributes in a meaningful way to global research on Great White Sharks. The trust publishes scientific papers and Partners of the trust include  Department of Environmental Affairs;CapeNatureSANCCOB (Southern African Foundation for the Care of Coastal Birds); Animal Demography Unit – University of Cape TownMammal Research Institute – University of PretoriaWWF (World Wildlife Fund); Overstrand Municipality; Birdlife OverbergWESSA (Wildlife Environment of South Africa); the Two Oceans Aquarium Cape Town.

Marine Dynamics welcomes all shark lover, especially green and responsible travellers, with an educational tour that will knock your socks off and leave you as a true Great White Shark ambassador

TIPS

  • Seasickness is the only downside to the dive. Take tablets for motion sickness and listen to the advice from the crew. If you do throw up,don’t be embarrassed, the crew are used to it and will sort you out. I believe that a certain effort is required for the luxury of viewing any wild creature in its natural environment. Being sea sick is worth it for the joy of being so close to the sharks.
  • Wear a swimming costume underneath your clothes. Getting into a wetsuit and maintaining your modesty do not go well together.
  • Take a few photos if you must, then spend time just watching. The memories will always be greater than any picture.
  • Do a little research as the Marine Biologists on board are happy to talk Great Whites and answer any and all questions.
  • Keep an eye out for the guy at the back of the boat making the chum mix. The birds love it and hundreds of them fly in for a feast
  • Spend some time on the top deck for great views of the sharks.
  • Make a weekend of the adventure, explore the caves, have dinner at  the Great White House, take a walk along the cliffs and visit the nearby village of Stanford.

The surrounding area is beautiful as you will see from the pictures below.

The beach at Klipgat Cave

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 The view from Klipgat Cave20150207_120646

 One of the cottages at The Great White House

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Stanford. The repeat #shotleft destination.

L o c a t i o n.           Lo  c  a  t  i  o  n          L   o   c   a   t   i   o   n.  

143 km from Cape Town

Mountains & rivers  |    Birds & bush   |     Food & wine   |   Beer & cheese

 Adventure   |    Pamper  |   Relax

  Explore 

via

Horse   |  kayak  |  quad-bike   |  bicycle  |  car  | boat  | small plane

Walk or hike the

heritage  |  history   |  fynbos & flowers  |  markets & crafts  |  birds  |  antiques  routes

STANFORD-VILLAGE-INFOGRAPHIC
This infographic was created by
Xplorio for the Stanford community.