Africa: Capetown - Durban - Sodwana - December 5, 2004 to January 11, 2005
by
Kinsley ThomasWong - http://XtremeBigAir.com

Archive of Kinsley ThomasWong and Team XtremeBigAir's World Famous Xpeditions!

I first met Fred Steele of Aqua Air Kiteboarding School at La Franqui, Leucate - France last July 2004. Fred was xtremely helpful with my initial planning for this trip. 
As soon as I came back from my Annecy-Leucate xpedition, I started calling travel agents and searched the web for tickets to S.Africa.  Most of the round trip tickets to S.Africa during December were all in the $1700 to $2200 range.  I found SkyAuction.com has the best price: $1350 for leaving out of SFO to Capetown.  However, my experience with SkyAuction.com was not pleasant. Here is my advice if you want to use SkyAuction.com:
  1. SkyAuction.com does not have Telephone supports.  Everything is done through Email!
  2. Look at the last winning bid for the items that you want to bid and you will have a sense of how much you are going to pay for the tickets and very important: all the additional costs that will come with the tickets: leaving on the weekend, tax and services, leaving out of your airport, leaving on the black out dates.  Even after you spent hours and days bidding and won the bidding item, you are NOT going to have your flight tickets yet until it is actually in your hand.  It took me 2 weeks of email back and forth with SkyAuction.com before I finally got my tickets. (Final winning bid: $900 - Actual cost: $1350).
  3. If you have time and patience, then SkyAuction.com is for you. 
Country:
Region:
Currency:
Language:
Airport:
Electricity:
South-Africa
Africa
South-west corner, Caperegion The south-african Rand
The first English besides that there is "afrikaans" and a native african
In Cape town, 25 minutes from kitebeach
220V

Cape town is getting more and more popular with tourists from all over the world. Since the segregation ended for more then ten years ago the economy is growing rapidly . South Africa is one of the worlds most beautiful countries due to it's cultural and natural diversity. Cape town is also for the south-africans the place to be during the summer holidays. You can visit very diverse touristic places, from the biggest and most luxury malls to the wildparks where you can visit the "Big Five". Because of the great climate and the rich cultural heritage you can eat the best food you ever ate in your life, in and around Cape town there are numerous good restaurants where for 6 € you can have a great dinner. So the Western Cape is one of South Africa's best tourist attractions, and for good reason. From the famous icon of Table Mountain to huge winelands and beautiful beaches to world-class restaurants.

WIND & CLIMATE

The best time to leave for Cape town is the south-african summer (european winter). This season starts in November and ends in March. Within these months you can go kiting almost everyday. You will have to bring all your kites as the wind varies between the strong southeaster and the the less strong westerly winds that fill up the days between the southeaster periods. The further you drive south the stronger the wind gets when there is a southeaster blowing. The watertemperature is despite the warm air very cold and you need to bring a full wetsuit and a shortarm wetsuit, the water temperature varies between 8 and 14 degrees. The air temperature is a lot better and makes up for the cold water, and varies roughly between 22 and 32 C degrees and has an average of 27 degrees. Make sure you use sun protection as the sun is intense.

KITESURFING IN CAPE TOWN - South Africa:

While in Cape Town area, I stayed at the Surf House (telephone: 021 5543262) owned by Grant Brown and Sheree Smith.   The Surf House is locating at Blouberg Strand, a walking distance to the beach but 30 minutes from Cape Town.  Both Grant and his wife are Paraglider pilots. You can visit:

http://www.CapeTownGuru.com to book your accommodation at the Surf House.

Dolphin beach, in the area Blouberg Strand, better known as "kitebeach" is the best visited beach by the kitesurfers. It is about 30 minutes driving from Cape Town.  I recommend you stay at the Surf House in Blouberg area and skip the metropolian Cape Town.  But there are so many spots around Capetown that you really need a car to make use of the full potential that the western cape has to offer. It has spots for every level kiter, from flat shallow waters to big wave spots. You can also make the best downwind down-the-line waverides of your life from Sunset beach to Kitebeach to Big bay. When there is no wind in Cape town, there is is almost always wind in Langebaan. It's a hour drive north up the West Coast, but it's worth it. You will find two spots namely Langebaan "the main beach" and Sharkbay (named after the harmless litlle sandsharks that swim around). Especially Sharkbay with it's warm shallow waters is perfect to learn the newest tricks and to learn kitesurfing. 

My favorite kiting spots in Cape Town are Big Bay for nice waves riding and Shark Bay for warm and flat water.


Big Bay:  The main launch point is directly between the rocks that mark out the bay. The predominant wind direction is SE, so its best to launch from the left hand side of the beach (facing the ocean) - if you launch here it's very easy to get out as most of the waves jack up in the center. Big bay gets busy on the weekend and the rule here is that if you have 5 windsurfers downwind of you, you have to go downwind of them - pretty simple!

The other great thing about Big Bay & Horse Trails is that it usually 5kts lesser wind than at Dolphin Beach - doesn't seem like much, but when you're hanging onto an 8m on 20m lines - rest assured that Dolphin Beach is Nuking and possibly undoable.

Horse Trails:
In a SE wind, Horse Trails is downwind of Big Bay (the otherside of the northerly rocks) - so when Big Bay is packed out with kite or windsurfers - head downwind - and you have a big beach with smooth water in between set waves. 

Langebaan, South Africa
If you’re relatively new to kitesurfing and not into the heavy waves of Blouberg or you just want to play in warm and flat water, then Shark Bay of Langebaan is the destination. Langebaan is quaint fishing village consists of a 13km long lagoon with a nature reserve at one end and an iron ore shipping pontoon at the other. The wind is constant – usually South East – making for flat water. The wind kicks off around midday and build up until about 5-6pm – you can start off on 16m & be maxed on a 6m by the end of the day.

Getting there – head north on the Weskus coastal road out of Cape Town and after approximately 1 hour take the left hand turning at the sign post: Langebaan. Follow that road and it takes you into Langebaan.

Kite spots in Langebaan:

Opposite the restaurants in the main town – this has a sandy beach. The water tends to be flat with small chops regardless of the windstrength. The beach extends about a mile before there are rocks (at the Windsurf Centre/Shop) so this is a very good spot for learners as aside from the conditions, there are lots of other kitesurfers about to help out. The only thing to watch out for is that the tide is fairly strong between the beach & the island.

Shark Bay - Water is warm and super flat here.  Make sure to check the tide before you go as there isn't much riding area if the tide is low.

OTHER ACTIVITIES

- ParaGliding, HangGliding, Windsurfing, Surfing, Hiking, Scuba Diving with Sharks, Golf, Visit Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was inprisoned), the wildparks, the huge malls or drive along the beautiful and famous Garden route and West Coast.

S.Africa Web Links:
Durban and Mozambique: Aqua Air Kiteboarding School
www.mozambiqueconnection.com
Cape Town area:
SunTrax - http://www.suntrax.co.za
www.windswept.co.za
www.capesport.co.za

Sodwana - Pisces Scuba Diving and Kiteboarding Instruction: www.PiscesDiving.co.za


Things you must do while you are in South Africa:
1. Try some Biltongs (dried meat) from a Meat Market
2. Eat Pies and Sausage Roll!
3.  Do at least 3 to 5 days, self-driving in the Kruger National Parks
4.  Visit Blyde River Canyon
5.  Have a Braai (bbq) with the locals
6.  Drive up the West Coast from Blouberg to Langebaan.
7.  Hiking up to Table Mountain in Cape Town
8.  Visit Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town
9.  Drive from Water Front to Cape Point


========================================================================

Tuesday December 07, 2004

Early Sunday morning, I left San Francisco and arrived at Cape Town around 10 p.m. on Monday night. That was one long journey to reach South Africa: almost 35 hours in-flight time.

I am staying at the Surf House which is a few blocks from the kite beach in Blouberg.  Blouberg, also known as Table View is about 30 minutes from Cape Town. 

All of my house mates at the Surf House are kiteboarders:  Wim, Norje, Tjalling, and Sofie.  This morning around 7 a.m.,  I hitched a ride with Tjalling (from Holland) and Sofie (from Belgium) to the kitebeach.  We kited 2 hours and came back to rest.  From Kitebeach (Dolphin Beach), you can go downwind all the way down to Big Bay: that is a very long down wind. 

The wind comes from SE which is port tack and side shore here.  Sofie was on 9M, I was on 11M, and Charlie was on 12M.  Nice rolling head high waves were on the inside with a white soft sandy beach.  The Atlantic Ocean water here is COLD. Yes you need a full 4/3 wetsuit.  The weather here is just like in Pismo Beach during spring time.  Cool in the morning and night, sunny and warm in 70F-80F+ during the day. The wind is usually light (12M kite) in the morning then it gets up to 20-35kts during the afternoon. 

This afternoon, Sofie and I went to Big Bay.  There are nice long waves and super smooth water on the inside.  Sofie was overpowered on the 9M.  I went out and rode waves for an hour on my 7M.  I was being super careful as I am trying to nurse my lower back from sciatica.


Wim, Norje, Tjalling, Sofie, and I went out to dinner at Peter Blue, a popular restuarant/bar where kiters meet up at end of the day downwind ride.


Wednesday December 08, 2004:

We woke up and went out to Kite Beach at 7 a.m. this morning.  I took pictures for Tjalling Alkema. 
Tjalling and Sofie kited for a few hours there.
At noon, Wim, Norje, Sofie and I went to Langebaan around noon.  It was cold and super windy there.  Langebaan is about  40 minutes up the West Coast from Blouberg.  The drive up to Langebaan reminded me of Baja California.  West Coast of South Africa is desert-arid with the cold Atlantic while the East Coast of South Africa is sub-tropical with the warm Indian Ocean. 
Came home and we all at the Surf house had a Braai (BBQ).


Thursday December 09, 2004:

Today all of us: Grant Brown, Sheree Smit, Adrian, Wim, Norje, Tjalling, Sofie and I went to Langebaan again.  We stopped by Yserfontein to checkout the surf.  I bought and tried out a bunch of the local's favorites: Chicken pie, sausage roll, Biltong (dried meat, sorta like jerky).  I also learned that a truck is called "a Bakkie" (pronounced: buck ee).  It was a great day.  Everyone kited and had a blast.  I kited on the 11M in my short since the water was warmer with light wind.  Shark bay with its shallow and flat water in most places, it is really a nice place to practice your kite tricks.


Friday December 10, 2004:
The wind had been blowing strong all night long.  Today it is a Super windy day with wind averaging 29 kts.  I took the bus to Cape Town hoping to go up to Table Mountain but the cable car was closed due to high wind.  The bus ride to Cape Town was a great adventure.  It costed around $1.5US each way but the adventure was priceless.  I was jam packed in a small minivan with crying babies. 

Cape Town is quite a busy cosmopolitan place.  I will not be surprised that the next few years Cape Town will be Los Angeles version of South Africa.  I trekked all over town and found "Adventure World" and booked my tickets to Kruger Wildlife National park.  Finding my way back to the bus station was another adventure but I eventually found it and made it back to the surfhouse late in the afternoon.

Angelo wanted to take kiteboarding lessons so we took off on his Vespa to visit Brian Wilson's Surfshop: Sun Trax.   The wind was still so strong that if we weren't being carefull, we would fall off the Vespa. 

Angelo, Nicoleta, and I rushed up to Big Bay just about 15 minutes before the sunset.


Saturday - December 11, 2004
At 7 a.m., no sign of any wind.  Tjalling and I went to a flying site "Hay Stack" located in Durbanville, on the outer skirt of Cape Town.   Durbanville is so much like San Luis Obispo with rolling hills and vine yards.
There were enough light thermals so new training pilots were able to do some reverse launches and flights.  Tjahlling got in about 7 flights and we left there to go back to Blouberg around noon.

2 p.m. Still no wind in Blouberg.  We phoned up to CapeSports shop in Langebaan (long track) and found that the wind was light there.  In anticipation of stronger wind in the afternoon, we left Blouberg and headed up the West Coast to Langebaan.  We got there and a few kiters were out on 20M and 16M kites. 
We decided to chill out at Driftwoods with cold beers and some fish and chips. 
          

Sunday - December 12 - Thursday December 16, 2004
Once in your life time, you must go on a safari in Africa to experience things that you would probably never find anywhere else: the obnoxious smell of the stinky flies attractting flower plants, watching the warthogs drink water from a mud hole, the lions protect their recent kills under the cirling vultures, hundreds of wild buffalos tromping around, a chameleon lizzard that imitates a tweed blowing in the wind, the elephants, wilderbeasts, rhinos, kudus, hyennas, giraffes, etc. in the wild plains that go on forever.  If I have a chance to do this over again, I would rent a car from Jo'berg and do a self driving safari tour to the Kruger Park. 
 

We camped out during the first two nights.  Our group was a diversity of visitors from Dutch, Australia, U.K., Canada, Swizerland,  U.S., and Brazil.  


The last day of our tour, we visited the Blyde River Canyon, the third largest canyon in the world!
The views at Blyde River Canyon are breath taking!





December 17, 2004
It was so nice to come back to Blouberg and hang out with Sofie and Tjalling.  We kited at Big Bay.  I was so happy that my bad back finally eased up and I had a great time kiting on 11M at Big Bay.   Dinner at Mimmo's's Restaurant was super delicious. 


Saturday December 18, 2004
All three of us entered the second annual enduro race to Robben Island.  I was superlit on my 11M.  The whole 14km ride completed in 22 minutes, I was skimming the water on my back fins and most of the time was completed out of the water. 


December 19, 2004 - Sunday:
The wind was so strong up to 40kts.  Sofie, Tjalling, and I drove up to Strand beach in False Bay.  The wind was much lighter but super gusty there.  We drove back to Big Bay and watched the windsurfers.  Wishing I had my 5M since the waves at Big Bay were really nice.


December 20, 2004 - Monday
Adrian, Grant, Sheree, Wim, Norje and I went to Sharkbay in Langebaan.  The wind did not picked up until 11 a.m.  By end of the day, I was on 7M kite.  We stopped at Driftwoods restaurant in Langebaan and had a few dozens of very fresh oysters with chilled beers.    Sofie is leaving tomorrow so we had a farewell Braai for her. Today I have acquired a new title " the Braai Master" after cooking up the storm: 4 racks of lams, ostriches, sausages, chicken, etc.


December 22, 2004 - Wednesday
My back was still hurting yesterday but I couldn't stand sitting around so I went and kited with Wim at Big Bay on 11M kite.  Woke up this morning and I was still in great pain.  It was a big challenge for me to drive with a tweaked neck and back.   Finally I got a car so I went big today: drove out to visit the Tygerberg Zoo then hiked up the Table Mountain then the Two Oceans Aquarium. 




December 23 - 24, 2004 - Wilderness
I finally got a rental car so today I decided to visit Adrian Helpburn in Wilderness.  About 5 hours up the East coast from Cape Town is Wilderness.  Just a few kilometers south of Wilderness town is the Map of Africa paragliding site.  It is 153m a.s.l.   The prevailing S.E. wind works well here. On the South or South west wind, it would be great to fly here as the ridge extends for many miles.  On the good day, you can soar from the Map to Adrian Helpburn's house and keep going...If it is too strong S.E. wind, it time to go kiteboarding here.  Wilderness is very lush and beautiful.  At the "Map", I met a bunch of friendly local pilots.  They made sure I got warmed up with good S. African wine before I take off.  The launch is huge.  I flew for an hour and saw the whitecaps started to build up so I toplanded.


Wilderness is such a beautiful place.  Adrian Helpburn's has a nice B&B right on the cliff of Wilderness.  I went to sleep to the sound of waves crashing and woke up with blue sky and pufffy cummulus clouds.
The East Coast of S.A. is totally different from the West Coast.  From Cape Town to Wilderness, I drove across miles and miles of farm lands with giantic mountains.



December 25, 2004 - Xmas Party at the Surf House!
Wim, Tjalling, and I kited at Kitebeach today.  The wind was blowing from South West - right hand.  We were on large 15 and 16M kite.  The water was nice, clear, and warmer today.
Sheree made some killer chicken wings and roasted lamb.  Arthur made an incredible "Ostriches Potjie".  We basked under the warm South African sun, drank champagne, and other smoked.  It was a fantastic Xmas Party way into the night.




December 26 - 29, 2004
During the last few days, we had been getting light South West wind.  I kited at Sunset Beach and Big Bay.  On December 29, Tjalling and I went to Lagoon Beach in Milnerton.  This spot usually is calmer with smaller waves than Dolphin or Kite beach.  I had a blast kiting on Grant's surfboard.

December 30, 2004 - Cape Point
This is the furthest Southern end point of Africa and the two oceans: Atlantic and Indian.  You must visit here if you are in Cape Town.  Make sure not to miss the walk out to the lower Light house. 

Lars and Yen from Germany joined me on this trip.  We drove from Blouberg to the Water Front in Cape Town.  On this Atlantic Ocean side, we visited Camps Bay.  Then off to a Fisherman town of Hout Bay, winding through the high cliff of Chapman Peak Drive, down to a big huge beach in Kommetjie.  Witsand Bay, Misty Cliff, then off to Scarborough to check out the surfers on some nice long lefties and finally to our destination: Cape of Good Hope - Cape Point Light House.  There were endless of paragliding sites and kitesurfing beaches
We took the Indian Ocean view drive on our way back where we meandered through Simon's Town, Fish Hoek, and Muizenberg.




December 31, 2004 - Happy New Year!

Jan 01, 2005 -
Recovered from party last night
Fred showed up !!!

Jan 02, 2005 - Plettenberg - Jeffreys Bay
We left Cape Town and drove through the Wildnerness, Knysna, etc.
We stopped at Plettenberg and kited for a few hours.  
Then we droved on and checked into Island Vibe at Jeffreys Bay.


Jan 03, 2005 - Coffee Bay - Bomvu River
Woke up and we walked around Jeffreys Bay.  It started to rain hard so we drove and drove in the rain all day.  We managed to check in the Coffee Shack Backpacker in the pouring rain...
It was an experience to cross the river to get to our room.

Jan 04, 2005 - Shelly Beach - Durban
Woke up in a bright sunny day.  We walked up the hill at Bomvu River, Coffee Bay and then drove on to Durban.
We drove to Port St. John then off to Port Edward and took the N2 along the coast to Durban.
There were so many beach so we choose Shelly Beach to check it out.  No wind...
We arrived to Durban and checked in to one of the best Backpacker in the North coast of Durban: The beach bum in Casurina Beach. 

Jan 05 ,2005 - Sodwana Bay
We could not get our visas to Mozambique since the Durbam Moz. Ambassy office is closed until Monday Jan 10, 2005 so we went to Sodwana Bay.


When you are in Sodwana, be sure to contact Louis Olivier for Kiteboarding Instruction or Scuba diving.
Pisces Scuba Diving and Kiteboarding Instruction: www.PiscesDiving.co.za
Email: pisces@telkomsa.net   Phone: 082 6511 870

Louis Olivier , Melanie and Savannah.

Jan 07, 2005 - Scuba Diving

Jan 09, 2005 - Lake SiBaya
Lake Sibaya is about 30 km from Sodwana.


====================================

Here is one of Fred's emails in regarding to S.Africa's destination:

Been thinking about your trip down to South Africa and wonder where else you might be heading;
Wind wise, last year was SHIT for wind in Cape town around that time,  normally you have nice consistant winds in Dec, Jan to March in Cape town so you never know,
I recommend staying at Windswept in cape town.
www.windswept.co.za with Mike, hes an IKO examiner.  Nice cheap place to stay, close to kitebeach (walking distance) and there are always people going up the coast to either big bay or Langabaan (flat blue lagoon) and home of cape sports centre www.capesport.co.zaProblem with Langabaan is that its 100km from cape town but it too gets good winds.
Winds in cape town are hectic to say the least so kite sizes are SMALL - I use my 10 guerilla and 7 GTO with most guys staying on 10s and heavy guys on 12s.  When there is no wind there is really NO wind.  And when it comes it comes big and strong, from 0 to 15knots then after about 20mins 25+.  Wind direction is SE (cape doctor) or NW which makes the swell along the coast.  The wind lasts for days then changes direction so from SE to NW for two days, a day lull then pumping SE again for 4 or 5 days.  Water temp is FREEZING so you need a steamer.  There is a kite repair place in Cape town and Mikes place is close to all the other kite shops in cape town.
Durban:
Durban has better and more cleaner waves and the water is WARM which is a big bonus. Unfortunately if you are in Durban you are limited to spots being close to the place you stay.  My partner for Aqua Air,  Sin lives in Durban and knows everyone so it would be better to hook up with him if you go that side.  I prefer durban for waves and the warm water.  There are alot of spots up and down the east coast of South Africa.
Port elizabeth and that area on the south coast of SA are nice but the wind plays games all the time and the consistancy is in Cape Town and Durban.
Travel SA:
Flights internally in south africa are easy and frequent from JOHANESBURG to DURBAN or the CAPE.  Your looking at USD 100 return to most places in South Africa by plane. If you hire a car it is in the high season and is expensive by african standards about 50 USD a day, you can get deals but driving in SA is a bit dodgy, especially at night. 
In SA you NEED TRANSPORT!!! forget the buses and trains!! they don't work.  In cape town and durban all the accommodation run to the airport and usually out to the pubs and back.  Kite beach in Cape town is MILES from the city so city fun is limited but with all the kiters there you will no doubt hook up with like minded people.

Mozambique:
Capital: Maputo
Wind in Dec - March, consistant 12 - 18knots so 14,15,16m kites are the norm, the odd 20+ day does happen and the wind is heavier so I tend to only go down to a 13 then if it honks 9. 
Water, warm (like durban big sharks as well, but only out DEEP) Shorts and a rashie to protect from the sun.
Cost of living:  about the same as SA, decent meals are in the region of 15 to 25 dollars. Sometimes less, sometimes more.  
Spots to kite, in Maputo we kite in the bay, shallow water light chop. South there are lots and lots of spots to kite only accessible by 4x4.  favourite is Ponta do ouro, which is on the border between durban and moz.  lots of backpackers accom.  Nice point break, flat inside section.  Wind is not as consistant as durban or maputo.  Good spot to go diving.
Accom at ponta is about 25 dollars a night. 
www.mozambiqueconnection.com  is a good link for info on Moz.
In moz you need a car to go anywhere or you fly which is expensive.  I should be there so closer to the time you can stay with me of course!!!! I moved out of my place before I left so I have to find new digs etc etc. 
What I recommend is:  fly to Joburg, then to Cape town.  Stay for a week in Cape town, shoot over to Durban on an internal flight - discover durban then either fly durban Maputo(about 100 USD) you can either get a visa in durban for about 18 USD or one when you arrive at Maputo airport for about 25 USD.  Then spend a week in moz.
Best option would be hit durban meet up with Sin and hopefully me and we all drive up to Moz and do a bit of a kite mission via ponta.
... Fred 

Information from Brian Wilson of SunTrax:

For good basic accomadation mail Helen at helre@netactive.co.za - you need
to be here in Blouberg - any problem and I can put you up for a couple of
nights until you get sorted.
Look for Bloubergstrand, North of Cape Town at
http://www.suntrax.co.za/mapcape.asp

For Cape Town you will ideally need an 8.0, 12.0 and 16.0 but would leave
out the 16.0 if you want to rest occasionally! - even with an 8.0 you will
be overpowered some days -however for Mozambique and Durban the 16.0 would
be beneficial.

Ideal wetsuit in Cape Town is a 4/3 long sleeve but a 3/3 Short sleeve will
also suffice in summer - air temp is around 30 daytime. In Durban a shorty
is fine, or your 3/3 s.s.

......

Any other questions Kinsley don't be shy to ask.

Best regards

Brian Wilson
Suntrax
Tel/fax 27 (0)21 5560044
cell; 0824656696
13 Bayside Centre
Tableview
Cape Town
www.suntrax.co.za
info@suntrax.co.za
Mon - Fri 9am-7pm
Sat         9am-5pm
Sun       9.30am- 2.00pm