Of Dirt Roads and Dorps

My latest book (100 DORPS / 1000 THINGS) are just about done and dusted, with a couple of weeks to go before printing. As part of the book, much of the past few years have seen me exploring gravel roads and out-of-the-way dorps in order to get photographs, interesting stories and a handle on what the ‘TOP 10 Things To Do’ are in each of these little hamlets. Of all the dorps, few are as great a place to chill as Nieuwoudtville or Loeriesfontein, two little rural hideaways secreted away in the Northern Cape. Quiver tree forests, exceptional mountain biking, the stunning trails of Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve, the quirky tin symphonies of the Fred Turner Windmill Museum, and a region rated internationally as a botanical treasure trove means this is a country escape not to be missed. More info on www.northerncapetourism.org.za or www.nieuwoudtville.co.za

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Oorlogskloof Mountain Run 2013

There’s no other trail run in SA (or the world) quite like Oorlogskloof. This race – part of the SPUR Country Classics Series presented by Quantum Adventures – will bomb you past herds of mountain zebra and troops of giant baboons, tunnel you into the very core of the earth as you navigate craggy sandstone cracks and Gollum-deep grottos, or traverse the plunging escarpment looming above the desolate Knersvlakte far below. OLK 2013 was a race of extremes, with soaring temperatures and ever-changing botanical biomes, and anyone who ran the gruelling course will surely be back for another Northern Cape fix next year.

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Travels with Mrs Marais

… and the kids, plus family and assorted mates of course, to go and get muddy and married in the Eastern Cape. My cameras took a back seat for once, but when you trip through the Amatolas, along the Wild Coast and through the Tsitsikamma Forests, you have to occasionally slip the Nikon or Go-Pro out the bag. The images below are just a few of the unforgettable moments from two weeks spent with top people, and in some of the most beautiful spots on the planet.

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Merrell Tsitsikamma MTB Challenge 2013

Next time you cruise the N2 past Storms River, check out the primal forests rising up on either side of the highway. Spiderwebbing through these ancient trees and pine plantations, you will find some of SA’s most glorious mountain biking and trail running routes, so make a point of stopping to investigate these trails. And if you’re in the area during mid-April, don’t miss out on one of SA’s fastest-growing MTB events, the MERRELL Tsitsikamma MTB Challenge. With routes ranging from 28km and 40km to the 70km humdinger, there’s something here for every level of mountain biker. Come on, go get outside!

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