“Adventure may hurt you, but monotony will kill you” – Anonymous
Four months of enforced lockdown is a long time, but there at last seems to be light at the end of the COVID tunnel. Good news is that our BEYOND EXPEDITIONS team – consisting of adventurer Peter van Kets and photo-journalist Jacques Marais – are once again ready to set off into the most moer-and-gone reaches of South Africa.
We have received all the necessary permissions for our next mission – once again driven by ISUZU (SA) and supported by DUNLOP. This fourth BEYOND EXPEDITIONS adventure was originally scheduled for September this year as BEYOND BICORNIS, a four-country journey with a focus on Rhino Conservation in southern Africa.
The ban on any cross-border travel forced us to shelve this plan, and we also felt that we needed to focus on the devastating effects the pandemic had wreaked on the lives of ordinary South Africans, especially in the local tourism-, travel- and hospitality industry.
However, we did not want to lose the essence of our BEYOND EXPEDITIONS journeys … These adventures into the most remote corners of the African continent very much aim to showcase the most incredible landscapes, cultures and experiences offered by Mother Africa; we wanted to continue doing this, while simultaneously assisting those in need.
We therefore completely re-imagined our 2020 expedition by changing the name to ‘BEYOND LOCKDOWN’. Firstly, we wanted to symbolise that there will be an eventual end to all the mental dissonance and financial hardship, and secondly, we felt we had to find ways of helping those who have been hardest hit by the lockdown.
“We are leaving on #BeyondLockdown on Monday, August 3rd”, says Peter van Kets, “and we will go feral with immediate effect along a clockwise route meandering through some of SA’s wildest places. In many ways, this will be our most meaningful and heartfelt journey as we connect with communities hard hit by the lockdown”.
The BEYOND EXPEDITIONS Team will kickstart the adventure in one of their favourite local tourism regions in all of SA: the Namaqua West Coast. This first #localislekker stop will aim to capture the ‘Search for the Big One’, as they join local fishermen and crayfish divers to dip into the Big Blue in search of the bountiful treasures of the Atlantic Ocean.
The long road awaits and, along the way, the team will endeavour to find those characters who can best share the quirky stories, culture, history and cuisine of the regions they visit in their trusty ISUZU vehicles. Van Kets and Marais will be accompanied by Peter Kirk and Zane Schmahl, who will help capture this incredible journey.
From Namaqua West Coast, the expedition heads into the wide-open spaces of Northern Cape, where the foursome will camp wild at Kalahari Trails Nature Reserve. Here, they will meet up with the !Khomani San tribe to experience the ancient art of dune tracking, and also comb the desert at night with utra-violet lights to study wind spiders and scorpions with Professor Anne Rassa.
The journey turns eastwards from here for a wild camping adventure on a remote island set in the vast Vanderkloof Dam on the edge of the Free State, but only after a strenuous 23km paddle with Karoo Adventures. Next up is free-diving the Marico Eye and a visit to the lost #Lotlamoreng Village in the North-West Province, followed by a colourful urban graffiti ride in the Jozi urban jungle.
The lovely Limpopo Province looms on their radar next, with a much deserved slow-down in Magoebaskloof Forest, where they will take time to breathe and reconnect with nature near Tzaneen. The highest peak in the northern Drakensberg is calling, though: a full day of adventure and trekking in the high Mariepskop ecosystem beckons, before they set of to navigate the geo-trail through the ‘oldest mountains on Planet Earth’ near Barberton.
They continue eastwards towards the sub-tropical splendour of iSimangaliso, where they will experience the ultimate ocean adventure on the coast at Utshwayelo Lodge, right on the Mozambique border. And as a last hurrah, they will go Wild Coast bedonnerd at the iconic ‘Hole in the Wall’.
“We will be on the road for three weeks and estimate that we will connect with at least twenty tourism community projects”, explains Jacques Marais. “Our hope is to re-ignite #localtourism through highlighting and promoting these far-flung community adventures, and by enticing people to visit the breath-taking landscapes within which they are set”.
As part of the process, the BEYOND EXPEDITIONS crew will create a full quiver of visual collateral – including professional Stills photographs, 360 Degree Imagery, Aerial Footage and broadcast-quality Video – for each of these off-the-beaten-track destinations with which they will be able to market themselves.
This is the tip of the tourism iceberg awaiting the general public once local travel options open up completely, and we call on the authorities to make this happen to help all those South Africans at grass roots level. And we promise you, these are all places YOU want to visit … you never know where those back roads may lead.
You can follow the Beyond Lockdown adventures on social media from the 3rd to the 20th of August:
YouTube: Ozone Africa
Podcast: oZONE Podcast