YAP Tour 2017 to South Africa [Helene Thierrichter]
Tour Members: (Austria-Jakob Riegler & Helene Thierrichter, Belgium-Apolline Dozot, Marie-Astrid Colson & Louise Kindermans, Denmark– Katharina Paul, Germany– Stefanie Neumann, Lorenzo Reinhardt, Aliena Scheuer, Luca Schlake & Paul Schwen, India– Raoul Golani & Dhanshree Shah, Italy– Pietro Facincani, Ettore Pedron & Marco Vignola)
The adventure started on the 27th of August in East London where Nico McNamara, our tour guide, and Kenny, our bus driver, picked us up and drove us to the beach house of a 41er in the buffalo city. We all met there for the first time and got to know each other. It was amazing that from the beginning the whole group consisting of people from Italy, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark and India got on very well with each other. After a welcome lunch at the beach house, we were divided into pairs and went home with our host families with whom we spent the rest of the evening together in their house.
We just stayed in East London for one day in which we visited the museum of the town, the „Venom Pit Snake Park“, a village of a South African tribe where the people speak Xhosa. In the evening we were invited to eat with the 41ers in their club house (East London No1). There Nico asked Paul from Germany to say thank you in the name of the whole group to the club for hosting us and he gave them a YAP-cap as a memory. Like this we did it as well in all hosting clubs.
After East London the journey went on to Kirkwood. Before arriving there in the “Aloe Tented Camp“ we made a tour in a boat on the Kowie River and had lunch in Port Alfred. In the evening we ate dinner together with the 41ers in the camp and beside a campfire we danced and had a lot of fun together.
On Wednesday the 30th September we visited the area of the Daniell Cheetah Project and were able to touch a leopard. It was an amazing experience for all of us. On the way to our next stop – Port Elizabeth – we drove through the Addo Elephant Park where we could see elephants, ostriches, zebras, warthogs, kudus and big dung beetles. In PE we got hot dogs and burgers for dinner in the club house and were picked up from our host families after it.
Again we only stayed one night there and the next day we started our way to Knysna, but before getting there we stopped in Tsitsikamma and took part in a canopy tour in the pouring rain. (the only rain that we had for the whole tour) Despite the rain, it was a lot of fun flying through the trees. The day before that day we decided to make national days and dedicated one day to every home country of the people of the group. On that day we had our first national day – it was Indian day – and on the way to Knysna we listened to Indian music and ate Indian sweets. In Knysna we were invited to have dinner with the 41ers there in the house of one of them. Because of the big tragic forest fire, which took place in May, most of the houses of the 41ers burned down and so only two families could provide us space to sleep. Twelve of us slept in one house and four in another one.
We all went to the Spur the following day for breakfast and spent some time at the Waterfront. The second boat tour we did on the sea of Knysna (JohnBen) and afterwards we left the city again and headed to George. Before driving to the club house we stopped at a beach (Wilderness) where we just hung out. It was so nice, but unfortunately too cold to go swimming. After that refreshing break we went on to George where many club members had been already cooking for us when we arrived at the club house. They cooked different kinds of meat (springbok, ostrich, chicken) in pots as well as bread. After dinner and a party we went home with the host family to who we were alloted when we arrived in the club. We did not have the time to stay longer in George.
The following day (Saturday 2nd September) we left to Oudtshoorn. On the way we stopped at an ostrich farm where we first tried ostrich meat and ironically had the chance to ride those animals afterwards which was very scary but funny as well. After a visit in a zoo where the Indian guy Raoul encouraged himself to swim with crocodiles we were invited for dinner in the club house in Oudtshoorn. We all were divided again to sleep in the houses of host families. I had the luck to sleep with Aliena and Lorenzo from Germany and Jakob as well from Austria and with Nico and Kenny at an ostrich farm where we got an ostrich egg and ostrich meat for breakfast. After going and climbing through the Cango Caves there we ate again at the club house and stayed another night in Oudtshoorn.
Belgium day was on Monday, and we got delicious chocolate while heading forward to Graaff Reinet. As always we needed a toilet break, so we stopped in a small villages called Willowmore and Aberdeen. When we arrived in Graaff Reinet we still had a little time left before dinner and that is why a 41er took us for a walk through the town and we stopped in every pub there (there were not that many, it is a really small town).
German day was the following day on which we drove through the Camdeboo National Park where we saw especially Sprinboks, Chamois bucks and Kudus, we visited the village (Nieu Bethesda) of the artist Helen Martins and, furthermore, we got to know the Valley of Desolation. In the Valley of Desolation we all could enjoy the sunset and the stunning landscape together. This was very special and unforgettable.
After the stay in Graaff Reinet the journey continued to Queenstown, where we stayed in a resort of a 41er. On that day it was Austrian day and Jakob and I shared typical sweets and food with the group. We laso stopped in Cradock and had lunch with some local tablers.
Danish day was the next day on which we had to leave Queenstown. Before heading forward to Aliwal North the Danish girl Katharina prepared some typical breads with us for breakfast. On the way to our penultimate destination we made a stop to see paintings of bushmen and then we drove to a land house of one 41er where we were able to do target shooting practice. In the evening we ate steak with potatoes and salad in the golf club in Aliwal North because they told us that they had to close down the Round Table clubhouse. After the dinner we made a party together like all the other days as well. We all in the group had already felt so united. It was as if we knew each other for a long time.
During the drive to Bloemfontein, our last destination, we realised that there was not that much time left for us in South Africa. Nico invited us all to a farewell lunch because after it we would just eat in the hotel. We stopped at the Waterfront Mall and we ate at the Ocean Basket.
The last stop was the Black Mountain Hotel where the AGM 2017 took place. The whole weekend we stayed there with a lot of 41ers and could participate in the meeting in which we made a presentation of our trip. It is impossible to summarise all those amazing moments we lived together. When we had to separate us on the airport in Johannesburg, nearly all of us had to cry and we were all so sad that our amazing trip that we did together ended on that point.
Without Nico and Kenny it would not have been the same. Thanks to Nico the trip was perfectly organized and we had a lot of fun. All the people there received us with open arms and were so nice to us. It was a pleasure for all of us to be in this beautiful country and it is so good to know that we can always come back and that we all gained lots of new friends.