My experiences living in Cape Town and travelling in Africa

Posts tagged “lifestyle

Flying over Langebaan Lagoon

langebaan lagoon from the air

Last week I was lucky enough to go flying again with my mate Hilton Mundy, this time in a Sling 2 light sport aircraft. We had planned to fly around Cape Point for me to take some pictures but the infamous south-easterly was howling across around the peninsula so we discussed some alternate routes and decided to head up the coast to Yzerfontein and West Coast National Park and then come back along the beach.

Pre flight checks on the Sling 2 lsa

It was a perfect morning for flying at Morningstar airfield, just as the sun was peeking over the trees we pulled the aircraft out of the hangar, did the preflight checks and we were all set. There was no one else around as we taxied to the start of runway two zero, waited for the oil temp to reach normal and made our final radio call before takeoff. continue reading + 12 more photos


Going for a quick flight over Riebeek Kasteel

I have always had a love for aviation and a few years ago I took a step towards something I had always thought I wanted to do which was getting a pilot’s license. I started flight training with a friend of mine, Hilton Mundy at a little airstrip called Delta 200 out near Melkbos, up the West Coast from Cape Town. For various reasons I stopped my training but Hilton carried on and while it was a long road he eventually got his Private Pilot’s License (PPL) about 5 months ago. Having followed his progress and sharing a love of aviation, ever since I have been looking forward to going flying with him.

Rory Alexander Photography

It was a couple of weeks ago that the weather was favourable and we were able to get up in the air. Taking off from Morningstar Flight Academy, where Hilton completed his license, we pulled the Ikarus aircraft out of the hangar and after a bit of trouble continue reading + 5 more photos


Garden Route Rally 2012 – Photo Essay

A couple of weekends ago I was invited to the Garden Route Rally with stages being held over two days between George and Knysna. This was the final round of the South African Rally Championship and I was lucky enough to follow Jon Williams and the Sasol Racing Team who took 1st and 3rd in the overall for the year. The spectator points could have been better but thanks to the wonderful hospitality from the Sasol team it was still a great weekend and I did get quite close to the action on a few of the stages as you will see. Enjoy.

see 11 more photos


Waking up in Wilderness

Last weekend Guy McDonald and I travelled to the Garden Route area for the final round of the National Rally Championship. Friday’s stages were in George while Saturday’s were to be in Knysna so we decided to stay in Wilderness, right in the middle of the action. Set behind the seaside village, along the banks of the Touw River is the Wilderness section of the Garden Route National Park where you can either camp under the stars or stay in the log cabins like we did.

There is something about the smell of a log cabin that reminds me of continue reading + see 13 more photos


Touring Table Mountain National Park

On the third of a series of weekends away with SANParks we did a tour of Table Mountain National Park including some of the lesser known attractions of this diverse and rather spread out park. Although we all live and work at the base of Table Mountain there is a lot more to this National Park that stretches all the way from Signal Hill to Cape Point, Cape of Good Hope. Once again transport was provided by the Green Cab meaning we could sit back and enjoy the views as we made our way to our first stop Boulders Penguin Colony.

We were shown around by the Section Ranger for Boulders who told us a little more about the penguins, in particular how some of looked a little unkempt with fluffy feathers and even patches of no feathers. However this is perfectly natural when they malt and starve for 2-3 weeks while they can’t fish because of continue reading + 15 more photos


CHAMP is f*#^ing brilliant

Champ follows three actors, struggling to get real theatre work, behind the scenes of their current gig working in a shopping mall as entertainment for all the little kids. The premise of this play is actually very close to home for me and here’s where I’ll let you in on a little secret. click here to find out what my secret is


A Faulty dining experience

I am not a die-hard fan but I did watch several episodes of Fawlty Towers growing up and think John Cleese is hilarious, so I was excited when Guy McDonald invited me to join him for Faulty Towers The Dining Experience which forms part of the inaugural FNB Variété Festival from 6th-20th of October 2012.

The venue was The Villa at the Cape Sun Hotel, a perfect location for what was to unfold. We were having a drink and chatting when Basil Fawlty appeared. He was hard to miss, being close to 7 ft and a remarkable resemblance to John Cleese in the original TV show. Then I noticed Sybil standing by the ticket desk with an old phone wedged between her left ear and shoulder chatting away while scurrying between all the other guests, collecting empty glasses, was Manuel the waiter.

We weren’t even inside and the show had begun. Basil called for Manuel to bring out the hor d’oeuvres but Manuel’s English isn’t very good and so he replied quizzically ‘Orders?” Basil a little frustrated repeats “hor d’oeuvres” but Manuel still only manages to hear “Orders” and isn’t sure what he’s supposed to do. So Basil simplifies the request to “Nuts” and Manuel finally gets it ‘Oh, yes the nuts. I go” and disappears round the corner. A little while later he returns simply carrying a tray of nuts and weaving between the guests. Basil notices that Manuel is just carrying the nuts around and not offering them to the guests. “No, no, no. Manuel you have to serve the nuts. Serve the nuts.” Manuel nods and Basil continued greeting the guests. I then watched Manuel who proceeded to pick up a single nut, throw it into the air and (more…)


Walk before you run the Table Mountain Challenge

This morning I joined Nicole Biondi for a hike on Table Mountain. In two weeks time she is participating in the Table Mountain Challenge, a 37km trail run around the iconic Table Mountain. She will be part of a relay team, running the second of three legs which is said to be +/- 12kms from the block house above Rhodes Memorial to Constantia Nek. As part of the preparation she wanted to walk the route and have an idea of what was in store and so that’s what we did. After leaving a car at Constantia Nek we drove to Rhodes Memorial and started the uphill climb to the block house at 7:00am just before the sun rose.

Sunrise from just above Rhodes Memorial at 7:10am

The climb up to the block house, on the slopes of Devil’s Peak, is continue reading + 8 more photos


Sunrise over Hout Bay

It feels like  only just got back from my trip to America and now I’m off again but locally this time – more to follow in future posts.

The States was great though and if you haven’t seen any of my photos yet be sure to check out my post on Chicago’s buildings and skyline , a time-lapse of the six days of flying at Oshkosh and why it took me an hour to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. After three weeks of summer in America it has been quite a shock coming back to winter in Cape Town and even more so when the deck outside my room was covered in hail.

Winter in Cape Town is not all bad though as in between the cold fronts and rainy days we do get some absolutely glorious days when there is no wind, the sea is calm, the air is clear and the sky is blue. It’s days like these that make you forget all the rain and damp. It’s days like these that remind you just how magic a place Cape Town is to live. It’s days like these that even driving to work one just has to stop and admire the city in which we live. And it’s days like these that I have to stop and take a photo to share with you.

Panorama looking back towards Hout Bay from the Chapman’s Peak viewpoint at sunrise

Do any of you have a view like this too, on your drive to work?


I’m going to America !

That’s right, later today I leave for America. This will be only my second time visiting America and considering my last visit barely lasted three days I can hardly contain my excitement as this time I will be spending nearly three weeks in the USA while visiting as many different states. And yes, you guessed it. I’ve started another blog where you can follow my adventure so check out Rory in America.

Why am I going to America? Primarily for Oshkosh.

Like most of my friends over the past few weeks you’re probably wondering what the hell Oshkosh is. Well, in a sentence, it’s the greatest aviation show on earth. Those of you who know me and have been following me will know that I am a little obsessed with anything to do with flying. I even book international plane tickets not based on the most direct route or the cheapest ticket but by aircraft type. Seriously, who does that? Well me,  and so I will be flying with Emirates from Cape Town to Dubai on an Airbus A340 so as to be able to fly on their A380 from Dubai to New York before catching an internal flight to Chicago.

I teamed up with my friend Hilton Mundy, who founded ShortFinal.TV, last year to film a behind the scenes documentary called In the Jump Seat during the 2011 Ysterplaat Air Show. We have just finished the editing of this and it is in production so if you haven’t ordered your copy yet then do it now – here.  We are both passionate about aviation and so it didn’t take long for Oshkosh to appear on our radar (excuse the pun). Hilton had decided he was going and it didn’t take a lot of convincing to get me on board. We are joining the guys from Air Adventure Tours who take over other aviation enthusiasts from South Africa and organise everything including catered camping on the airfield a mere 5 minutes walk from the flight-line.

Just like visiting New Zealand last year, this is going to be another dream come true for me and so come fly away with me on my new Rory in America blog.


Above the clouds at 1000ft

The other day I was driving to work. I had to go in early and there was thick fog but as I climbed out of Hout Bay over Constantia Nek it cleared and you could see that it was only in the low-lying areas. Being winter the sun wasn’t up yet but 15 minutes later when I was making my way over Ou Kaapse Weg there was this beautiful scene as the sky was lightening and the air was clear while this thick blanket of fog lying over Cape Town. I always have my camera on me nowadays and I had to stop and take this picture.

Taken from the top of Ou Kaapse Weg just before sunrise


Bontebok Breakaway

It was the coldest and wettest day we’ve had this winter in Cape Town and there was some doubt as to how enjoyable our weekend away was going to be at the Bontebok National Park, just outside Swellendam, but I for one was looking forward to getting away and the chance to unwind, whatever the weather. While it rained for most of the 240km journey out along the N2 and was still drizzling when we arrived, all of our spirits were lifted as we were dropped off at our awesome wooden chalets overlooking the Breede River and we were excited to see that they had heaters in them too.

The chalets at Lang Elsie’s Kraal Rest Camp are fully equipped and are ideal for two adults but can accommodate more by use of a sleeper couch. Each one has an outside deck with covered braai area and the hiking trails start at your doorstep.

Having unpacked, settled in and put on another layer of warmth we headed to Die Stroom function facility, where we had a braai with Bulelwa, the Park Manager and some of the rangers. As we sat around the table we got to know more about the park and continue reading + 2 more photos


Hiking to the top of Elsie’s Peak for panoramic views

As you may or may not know I’ve been spending quite a lot of my time working on my photography recently and have started a new blog to showcase my best images so if you haven’t already go check them out at Rory Alexander Photography.

Anyway, on to this post, a hike which I did back in March.

Elsie’s Peak signboard

It was a public holiday and we had to work because of deadlines looming but instead of wasting the entire day we decided to go for a quick early morning hike and then start working. Needless to say it was well worth it with awesome views over continue reading + 6 more photos


Avro Shackleton MR.3 engine run at AFB Ysterplaat

Last Saturday I joined Hilton Mundy of ShortFinal.TV at the SAAF Museum Ysterplaat in Cape Town to film the engine start of the only remaining airworthy Shackleton MR.3 aircraft in the world. I was also lucky enough to be inside during the event filming the action from inside the cockpit. Here are a few of my photos from the day as well as the videos edited by Hilton Mundy.

The SAAF Shackleton being towed out of the hanger

see 6 more photos + 2 videos


Serenaded at the Strandloper

It was a beautiful morning and so we decided to earn our breakfast by walking from our accommodation at Duinepos to the Geelbek Restaurant. We had only just started walking along the road when we saw a group of ten eland that crossed the road in front of us. We experienced that special something of being able to walk freely amongst nature and wildlife; as we stood watching them, they stared back at us. Eland are the largest antelope with a shoulder height 1,5 to 1,75 m and can have a mass up to 900 kg.  Both sexes have horns, which have one to two tight spirals. They seemed to be hungry too and after checking us out returned to browsing the fynbos as we continued on our way.

At Geelbek we met up with and were introduced to Eddie who was going to be our tour guide for the day. Eddie has in fact just retired as a ranger from the West Coast National Park but having worked there 22 years he knows the park like the back of his hand and who better to show us around. continue reading + 7 more images & a video


Quad biking on the dunes in Lamberts Bay

…The next morning we woke early, got dressed in our new Hi-Tec gear and gathered at the Green Bus for the next instalment of our Wild West Coast Adventure.

The sun rose to reveal a beautiful dawn with just a few clouds in the sky proving the old adage correct. There had been talk of cancelling the morning’s itinerary if it was wet but now it looked certain that we would get to do what was probably the most anticipated  activity of the weekend  – quad biking on the dunes in Lamberts Bay. We did first have a two-hour drive to get there but we had Piet, a West Coast Tour Guide, ride along with us who was a font of information on the area. He explained how the dunes in the WCNP are moving inland at a rate of 3 metres a year and may one day cover the R27 and how the trains on the Sishen-Saldanha railway line that are up to 4km in length, including 10 locomotives and 342 cars, are some of the longest production trains in the world.

By the time we got to Lamberts Bay the weather had closed in but it wasn’t raining so the quad biking was still on. At West Coast Safaris and Quads, we were greeted by Johan who gave us a quick demonstration on  how to operate the quad bikes, which were fully automatic so even a complete novice would have no trouble. Then a safety briefing and we were ready to go.

I had been quad biking before but this was different. continue reading + 6 more images


Wild West Coast Adventure with SANParks

Quad biking, sand boarding, bird watching and delicious seafood are just some of the attractions of the West Coast outside of the flower season. This last weekend we got to experience a selection of these as guests of SANParks on  a weekend of discovery.

We all met up at the SANParks offices in Kirstenbosch gardens from where we were taken by the Green Cab to our base for the weekend, the West Coast National Park. As much as I like driving it was actually a pleasure to be driven and before we knew it we had arrived at the park which is just 120km  outside of Cape Town, perfect for a weekend away. There are several options of accommodation within the park and we stayed at the Duinepos Chalets nestled in amongst the natural fynbos.

After dropping our bags we went out for a quick tour of the park and to the lagoon for a swim as it was a very warm day despite the cloud that was blowing in off the Atlantic Ocean. While the West Coast National Park may not be able to boast the big five it is home to several of the smaller cats like the caracal and African Wildcat as well as several antelope such as springbok, eland, red hartebeest, bontebok and my favourite, kudu, which we were lucky enough to see.

Anyone who has visited Cape Town will know just how cold the Atlantic Ocean is.  Even in summer, the beaches are packed but there are very few people in the water. The Langebaan lagoon however is usually several degrees warmer making it a great destination for water lovers and some of our group took full advantage of this. continue reading and see 7 more photos


In the Jump Seat – DVD Teaser

In December of last year I teamed up with Hilton Mundy, who founded ShortFinal.TV, to film a behind the scenes documentary called In the Jump Seat during the 2011 Ysterplaat Air Show incorporating Wings and Wheels right here in Cape Town. If you have ever wanted to fly, wondered how aerobatic teams prepare their displays, thought about how many crew it takes to pilot a helicopter or dreamt of breaking the sound barrier in a fighter jet then this DVD is for you!

Hilton and myself in the 22 Squadron hanger at Air Force Base Ysterplaat

In this video, filmed over four days at the Wings and Wheels Airshow at Air Force Base Ysterplaat in Cape Town, we follow three pilots from their pre-flight briefings to post-flight analysis. With all-access passes and exclusive interviews, we bring you some never before seen footage of these pilots and their aircraft in action.

The pilots we followed were continue reading and watch DVD trailer


Camping in the Kgalagadi

Having been out of the country for two years, when a friend said there was seat going begging on a trip to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, I jumped at the opportunity and I could barely contain my excitement about getting back into the African bush and my first chance to photograph wildlife with my DSLR camera. The Kgalagadi is located in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, crossing over the border into Botswana and the border of Namibia forms the Western boundary of the park.

With the trailer hitched on we set off from Cape Town at 4:00 am heading towards Clan William, Calvinia and then up Van Rhyns Pass, the border between the Western and Northern Cape provinces with this spectacular view on the way up.

The landscape changes dramatically once you are over the pass and I strongly recommend taking some loud music with you to avoid falling asleep at the wheel as there is no radio or cell phone signal and the road is long and straight. We stopped in Brandvlei, with 37°C on the dashboard temp display, and a guy at the petrol station asked ‘have you ever been to the Devil’s Pit?’ to which we shook our heads and he replied continue reading & see 6 more photos


Enjoying what St James has to offer

On the 2nd January I packed a few bags, my wetsuit and moved to St James where I was going to be house sitting for friends of mine who were on holiday in Thailand. Working freelance I hadn’t really had much of a holiday since getting back from China as I had to take work when it came up so I treated this week like my own holiday. It was like a summer beach holiday with perfect weather most of the time. I was greeted with this view every morning.

Panorama of sunrise over False Bay viewed from St James

So all I had to do was open the curtains to  check the surf conditions and for the first 4 days it couldn’t have been better with regular swells and no wind. A friend of mine had been trying to get me to go longboard surfing and staying so close to Muizenburg I couldn’t really say no. Suffice to say the very first day we paddled out, after renting boards from the Surf Shack, I managed to continue reading & see 4 more photos


Western Cape Regional Aerobatic Competition

On the 29th of October I drove out with my friend Hilton Mundy to the Saldanha Bay Airfield for the Western Cape Regional Aerobatic Competition. Hilton started ShortFinal.tv to fuel his passion for aviation as well as further his skills in filming and editing. I too am passionate about aviation and wanting to further my skills in photography and film so off we set with our Canon 550D cameras in hand and reflective vests on to capture the action on the ground and in the skies.

Silver Falcon 5 flown by Major Beau Skarda

As a treat two of the Silver Falcons Aerobatic Display Team of the South African Air Force were there and we got to get up close and personal with – continue reading, see 7 more photos & a video>


Huge waves on the rocks at Llandudno Beach

One of my favourite places to go is the end of the rocks on the left hand side of Llandudno Beach especially when there is a large swell running. As the waves crash against the rocks spray gets thrown 10s of metres into the air which is spectacular to watch. As I was driving home a couple of months ago I could see the large sets of swell rolling in so I grabbed my camera and went down onto the rocks to capture this to share with you.

spray being thrown up after a wave crashes on the rocks

When the sea is this wild it can be very dangerous at the end of these rocks. Several people have been washed off the rocks and some have even died. My dad and I once had a close call a few years back. We had been watching the waves down at eye level through a gap in the rocks and I asked “what do we do if a really big wave comes that reaches us; Do we run or stay put?” to which my dad replied – continue reading, see 4 more photos & a video>