Out of (South) Africa

One of my many firsts in South Africa was my first hot air balloon flight
One of my many firsts in South Africa was my first hot air balloon flight
After 32 hours of airports and airplanes, I am back from South Africa.

The last 10 days have were an amazing experience and I have to give a big thanks to South Africa Tourism for the opportunity to visit a country which had been high on my list of places to visit.

Here is a short list of some of the things I did and saw in South Africa:

  • Went swimming with great white sharks
  • Visited my 123rd UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Went on my first hot air ballon flight
  • Took an overnight train from Cape Town to Johannesburg
  • Went rafting on the Orange River
  • Visited the 2nd largest waterfall in Africa: Augrabies Falls
  • Witnessed the live capture of a sable antelope which included a vet shooting a tranquilizer dart from a helicopter
  • Saw zebras, giraffes, multiple species of antelope, seals and penguines
  • Got kissed by an elephant (which is more action than I’ve gotten in years)
  • Got enough frequent flyer miles to make it to the Premier level of the United frequent flyer program

Continue reading “Out of (South) Africa”

South Africa Update

I’ve only been in South Africa for a few days, but it seems as if I’ve been here a week. I’ve already taken hundreds of photo and I’m sure I’ll be taking 100’s more before I leave.

So far, in just the few days I’ve been here I went on a safari, got to take part in the helicopter darting and capture of some sable antelopes, visited the world’s biggest hole, went rafting down the Orange river, went on an ATV excursion and visited the 2nd biggest waterfall in Africa: Augrabies Falls. Needless to say, my days have been busy. (Today, one of the guys on the tour broke his arm in an ATV accident. That has been the downer for the trip so far.)

Tomorrow we fly from Uppington to Cape Town. There I’ll be exploring the city, visiting Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned and doing a cage dive with Great White Sharks. After that we take the Blue Train to Johannesburg and see some elephants before leaving.

I’ve already have begun mentally planning a return trip to the region to see more of the country and also explore Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland, and Zambia. Ideally, I’d like to do it by car.

I know several of you in South Africa have contacted me regarding meeting up in either Cape Town or Johannesburg. I don’t know how much time I’ll have in either city. I’m being kept pretty busy, but I’ll try to repsond when I get time. I would certainly like to do at least one meet up while I’m here.

Expect some photos and articles to start appearing on the site about a week after I land back in the USA.

My trip to South Africa was sponsored by South Africa Tourism

8 Facts You Might Not Have Known About South Africa

I’m off to South Africa today so I thought it would be fun to share some of the facts I’ve picked up in my research:

  1. The world’s first heart transplant was performed in Cape Town at Groote Schuur Hospital in 1967 by Dr. Christiaan Barnard. In addition to having performed the first heart transplant, he also performed the first heart/lung transplant. The donor of the first heart transplant was a white girl who also had her kidneys donated to a black recipient, which was extremely controversial at the time.
  2. South Africa is by far the largest producer to strategic minerals. It produces 90% of the platinum, 80% of the manganese, 73% of the chrome, 45% of the vanadium, and 41% of the gold.
  3. The two biggest man made holes in the world were excavated in South Africa. The Big Hole in Kimberly and the Jagersfontein Mine are both gigantic, open pit diamond mines. Both mines were designed to extract diamonds from underground Kimberlite Pipes which come from the mantle of the Earth.
  4. South Africa is home to the world’s largest bird (ostrich), largest mammal (bull elephant), smallest mammal (dwarf shrew), largest reptile (leatherback sea turtle: 1500 pounds), largest earthworm (African Giant Earthworm), fastest animal (cheetah), tallest animal (giraffe), and the largest fish (whale shark).
  5. The second highest waterfall in the world is in South Africa: Tugela Falls. It checks in at 948m, 31m less than Angel Falls in Venezuela.
  6. The best example of a living fossil was found in South Africa in 1938: the Coelacanth. The fish was thought to be extinct since the Devonian period and is considered the linked between fish and tetropods.
  7. In 1879, the largest defeat of an army with gunpowder to an army without guns occurred in South Africa. 1,400 British troops were defeated by 30,000 Zulu warriors armed primarily with spears and shields. Over 1,000 British were killed (71%) vs 3,000 Zulus (10%).
  8. South Africa has 11 official languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu.

What other interesting facts about South Africa do you know? Has anyone else traveled there or planning a trip soon?

My Most Frequently Asked Question

Only 12 human beings have set foot on the Moon...and that is all they've talked about since.
Exactly twelve human beings have walked on the moon.

That’s it.

One dozen representatives of our species have escaped the clutches of the Earth’s gravity and walked upon another celestial body. For a brief period of time, these twelve men experienced something no other humans have experienced before or since.

After their short time on the lunar surface they all returned to Earth to something they had to suffer every single day for the rest of their god damn life: people asking them what it was like to walk on the moon.

A guy like Neil Armstrong exchanged 45 minutes of moon walking for a life time of every single person he’d meet for the rest of his life all asking him about those 45 minutes.

I am nothing close to being an astronaut, but like an astronaut I am well traveled and I have also found that I am being asked the same question almost every single day.
Continue reading “My Most Frequently Asked Question”

I’ll be speaking at Blog World 2010

I just wanted to let everyone know that I’ll be speaking at Blog World Expo in Las Vegas on Friday, October 15 at 11:00 am. I’ll be the first speaker in the travel track at the show and my presentation will be an extended version of my TBEX speech on “Travel Porn”. Given the time allotments, it will be longer and more in-depth than my TBEX speech, and it is probably the last time I will give the speech in public. (I don’t want to become a one trick pony) If you are going to be attending the show please stop by.

The rest of the travel track at the show also takes place on the 15th. It includes:

  • Travel blogging after 40
  • How to get noticed by travel PR
  • How to film a kick ass travel video

Also, if you are in Vegas let me know if you would like to meet up. I’m going to tentatively plan a meet up (location to be determined) in Vegas around 5-7pm. If you are a attending the show, that should be between the last event and the first party of the night.

Anatomy Of A Road Trip….or, Living Out Of A Car

This is my car. There are many others like it but this one is mine.
This is my car. There are many others like it but this one is mine.
On September first of 2009 I set out on a 3 month trip of the American and Canadian West. In those three months I put on about 13,000 miles and visited 2 provinces and 25 states.

On July 28 of this year, I headed out for a month to visit the Canadian Atlantic Provinces. On this trip I visited 6 provinces and 16 states and drove over 6,000 miles.

At some point during this last trip I realized that I had spent 4 months of the last year traveling and living out of my car. An entire third of a year road tripping.

Toss in over a month and a half of driving through Australia and three weeks of driving around New Zealand, and I’ve spent almost half a year of my last three and a half years of traveling in a car.

Continue reading “Anatomy Of A Road Trip….or, Living Out Of A Car”