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The Orlando cooling towers in Soweto

Soweto, the Adrenaline-Seekers’ Capital of South Africa

I was in a speeding car with three other people, careening toward the Orlando Towers — a decommissioned-power-station-turned-entertainment/adventure-center — in Soweto. “I wonder if they’re going to make us bungee?” someone asked. “There’s no way I’m doing that,” said Meruschka, as she wove in and out of traffic in our Volkswagen rental. “Me neither,” said Jenna. “I don’t want to do it,” said Paul. I sat in the back seat, trying not to feel carsick, only half paying attention to the conversation. “I’ll do it,” I said, not really thinking I’d have to. The Orlando cooling towers in May 2014. I didn’t have time to take proper photos during my most recent visit. (Read about the history of the Orlando Power Station.) View from the top of the Orlando Towers in September 2015, when I took photos with a group of bloggers during the Soweto Wine Festival. (We didn’t jump that day.) The narrow walkway in the middle is the part that you bungee from. Looking down from the top of the tower, also shot in September 2015. Meruschka had invited me and two other friends to participate in an Amazing-Race-type treasure hunt around Joburg called KnowJozi, sponsored by Bidvest Car Rental. There were […]

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Paragliding Over Reunion Island (With Video)

Sorry for the delay in my final #GoToReunion blog post. I can’t believe my Reunion Island trip was two months ago. (Where has the time gone?!) I was delayed because it took me a while to figure out how to cobble together my shaky video footage from our Reunion paragliding adventure. Well, actually I never did figure it out. My lovely and talented friend Fiver came to the rescue and figured it out for me. Before I show you the video, a few words about paragliding. I had never been paragliding before and didn’t really know what it was about. Perhaps there was a time when doing something like this would have made me nervous. But over the last couple of years I’ve bungeed off bridges and swung from stadiums and done all kinds of ridiculous things. I’m pretty much up for anything these days. Basically, paragliding is attaching yourself to a sail-like parachute, running off the edge of a big hill, swooping around in the air for a while, then landing. Paragliding solo obviously requires a lot of training, but pretty much anyone can paraglide in tandem with an instructor with no training whatsoever. That is what I did. Apparently Reunion Island is […]

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That Day When I Flew Over an Erupting Volcano

I’ve just returned from a weeklong trip to Reunion Island with six other blogger/writer/photographers, as part of a camapign called #GoToReunion. We experienced so many amazing things during those seven days; by the end of the week I was already struggling to remember what we’d done at the beginning. Yesterday I began the long, slow process of sifting through my pictures from Reunion, trying to wrangle them into some kind of order so I can edit them and put them into my blog. I started with our first major activity — a 40-minute helicopter tour of the island with Helilagon. As I scrolled through the pictures, the memory of that experience returned, and my jaw slowly dropped. If not for these photos I might have convinced myself that the Reunion helicopter ride was a dream. It was that surreal. I haven’t yet sifted beyond my photos of the helicopter ride. I need to blog about it before the memory fades. Did I actually fly over a lava-spewing volcano on a tiny island in the middle of the Indian Ocean? Well yes, it appears I did. I’ve been lucky enough to ride in a few helicopters in recent years (see here and here), even as recently as last month during the […]

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I’m Going to Reunion Island (!)

I’m a strong believer in limited exclamation point usage, which is why the above exclamation point appears in parentheses. (I underuse exclamation points but I overuse parentheses, as you can see from this sentence. Go figure. Every blogger has her own punctuation quirks.) Anyway. I’m more excited about this upcoming trip than I have been about any other trip in a long time, so I couldn’t resist the exclamation-point-parentheses combo. I’m going to Reunion (!) and it’s freaking exciting. Reunion Island, or Île de Réunion en français, is a tiny, volcanic island in the Indian Ocean, quite close to Mauritius. Although Reunion is close to mainland Africa (a four-hour flight from Joburg), the island is actually part of France. I have several friends who have been to Reunion, and I’ve yet to encounter anyone who hasn’t said it’s one of the most amazing places they’ve ever been. Reunion Island has become a popular holiday destination for South Africans, as it’s a relatively short flight and South Africans no longer need a visa to go there. Hence, my upcoming trip. I’ll be going to Reunion for a week with six South African blogger/photographers — Natalie, Andy, Daréll, Tony, Mike, and Carlinn — courtesy of […]

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South Africa’s Wild, Wild Coast: Part 1

We round a bend and there it is: a metal gate with a sign for Dwesa/Cwebe Nature Reserve. Finally! I was starting to feel like we’d never make it. Now we’ll have just enough time to get to the beach before sunset. The smartly dressed park ranger, a stout woman with curly hair and a wide smile, walks out to greet us. We exchange the usual pleasantries. “We’ve booked a chalet in the nature reserve,” I tell her. The ranger looks confused. “You’re not booked at the hotel?” she asks. “No. A self-catering chalet.” “Eish! You’ve come the wrong way.” The ranger explains that this is the entrance to the Haven Hotel, which is inside the Dwesa/Cwebe reserve on the north side of the Mbhashe River mouth. The self-catering chalets, however, are on the south side of the river mouth. There is no bridge across the river mouth. To reach the chalets, we’ll have to backtrack and drive about 40 kilometers to the other side. It takes my brain a while to absorb this news. We left Durban at 7:00 this morning and it’s now after 4:00. The sun is very low in the sky already — winter days are short in the Eastern Cape. […]

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How (Not) to Jump Off a Stadium

The Commonwealth Games, an Olympics-like sporting competition involving athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations, are headed to Durban in 2022. The 2022 host city won’t be officially announced until September 2015, but it turns out that Durban is the only bidder. (Edmonton, Canada, initially submitted a bid but later withdrew it.) So…yay! It’s not 100% confirmed but the Commonwealth Games are most likely coming to Africa for the first time ever. (Incidentally, the Olympics have also never been held on African soil. WTF? This needs to change.) Last weekend I was invited to Durban, along with a few other journalists/bloggers/instagrammers, to do fun things in the city and create some hype for the Commonwealth Games bid. Mainly we hung around Moses Mabhida Stadium, built for the 2010 World Cup and one of the most beautiful stadiums in South Africa. Looking up at the roof of Moses Mabhida Stadium. See that narrow walkway going across, near the top of the frame? Store that away for later. Our morning started with breakfast on the Durban Beachfront, which is one of my favorite places to hang out in Durban. I drank a smoothie and watched the cyclists roll past, soaking in the sun. Durban beachfront Instagram. […]

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I Jumped Off a Bridge. Here’s the Video.

I’ve already mentioned my birthday bungee jump a couple of times (see posts here and here), but it’s taken me more than a month to edit the video footage from the GoPro camera I wore during the jump. I’m finally ready to tell the story. I jumped from the Bloukrans River Bridge, on the border of South Africa’s Eastern Cape and the Western Cape provinces. Bloukrans is a bit more than an hour’s drive from Knysna, where I stayed during the Knysna Oyster Festival. The bridge is 216 meters (709 feet) high. I can’t believe I jumped from that seemingly tiny space at the top of the arch.  The Bloukrans River bungee jump is run by Face Adrenelin and is the highest commercial bungee jump in the world. There are higher places in the world to bungee-jump (see list here) but apparently the other places aren’t commercial, whatever that means. At any rate, I don’t see myself doing any non-commercial bungees so I’m pretty sure this is the highest bridge I’ll ever jump off of. I didn’t have much time to psychologically prepare for the jump, which was a good thing. I mentioned off-hand that I might like to do it and somehow, a little more than 12 hours […]

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Things I Was Wrong About: Oysters, and the Highest Bungee Jump in the World

I’m in Knysna this week, as a guest of the Knysna Oyster Festival. When I originally got this invitation a few months ago, I accepted because I’d heard Knysna is lovely and I knew it would be a great place to spend my birthday. I didn’t plan to eat many oysters though. I used to think I didn’t like oysters, but it turns out I was wrong about that. My first oyster of the week, from Quay Four Restaurant in Knysna. I learned that I actually love oysters once they’ve been doused with lemon juice and Tabasco. (Photo: Theresa Lozier) I also used to think that I would never go bungee-jumping in a million years. I was wrong about that too. These images are from a GoPro camera — courtesy of my new Instagram buddy @scrumpyjackson — that was strapped to my head during the jump. There is video footage too, which I cannot wait to share but it will take me a while to get it edited and ready for prime-time. I’ll do a full-on post about the jump in a few weeks. I went bungee jumping on my 40th birthday, which was yesterday. In fact I leapt from the highest bungee jump […]

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Zip-lining Through the Magaliesberg on an Autumn Easter Weekend

Nearly four years after my move from America to South Africa, I’m still disturbed by holiday season-inversion. Celebrating Christmas in summer is surreal, and I will never adjust to my July birthday — which used to be a summer rite of passage — now falling in the middle of winter. However, Easter in autumn (or fall, as we Americans call it) is a holiday season-inversion that I actually enjoy. Autumn isn’t so different from spring, after all, and somehow this holiday lends itself well to the end of summer. Easter is also a bigger deal in South Africa than it is in the United States. Both Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays so everyone gets a four-day weekend. Fall colors are more muted here than they are on the East Coast of the U.S., but still beautiful. I shot this during a weekend Instagram gathering at Modderfontein Dam on Joburg’s East Rand. I did quite a few cool things over this Easter weekend, including a great Instawalk (see photo above) and lunch at a delicious Turkish restaurant in Mayfair. (You’ll have to wait a bit for that post.) But my most notable Easter weekend activity was a zip-lining adventure in the Magaliesberg Mountains. My friend Nina […]

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