Friday, 29 July 2016

And then we were nine!

We blinked our eyes…and then we were nine! Earthstompers has hired 3 more staff members since October 2015. We are offering more tours than ever, with happy clients touring week after week in Cape Town and along the Garden Route. Thanks to our AWESOME hard-working team:

Hendrik Human (owner), started the Earthstompers Family in 2006 with his trusted VW combi

…and a little ways down the road, he met his match; Chrissy Human (owner) – together they make it all happen!

Since February 2013: Stephanie Harris – Awesome Earthstompers guide

Since September 2014: Charlene Pepler - Awesome Earthstompers guide & Partner in our newest product; Cape Food & Wine (

Since January 2015: Rochelle Gouws– Awesome Earthstompers guide

Since October 2015: Cindy Schalkwyk – Marketing, Tour coordinator & Awesome Earthstompers guide

Since July 2016: Ferne Skibbe – Awesome Earthstompers guide

Since 8 June 2016: William Hendrik Human – his job is to be the cutest baby ever and to keep Mom & Dad (Chrissy & Hendrik) awake all night!

Since July 2016: Nicolene Vermeulen – Tour coordinator and reception

Our team is filled with amazing talent and each member has interesting stories to tell. Over the next weeks I will tell you what makes each of them unique and what path led them to Earthstompers.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Latest at Earthstompers

Here we are, July 2016 and I haven’t even introduced myself! My name is Cindy Schalkwyk, I joined the Earthstompers Family in September 2015 and pretty much “jumped straight in”.

Knowing from a young age that I wanted to work in tourism, I studied hotel management after school while managing a local restaurant at the yacht club in Mossel Bay, my home town. From there I went more toward the accommodation side of things, managing a local Guest House and then a Backpackers. This got me hooked on the travel industry and I carried on managing two more hostels after that. The one is in Coffee Bay on the Wild Coast, probably my favourite part of the country! The other was close to Mossel Bay, in Sedgefield, on the Garden Route. This is where I was introduced to the Tour Operator industry and more specifically, Earthstompers. I decided after about a year in Sedgefield, I could really see myself as a tourist guide in South Africa and applied to do my guiding course. I wish to one day have my own tour company, where I can take people on tours through the magical places I’ve seen in South Africa.

I wanted to find a job where I could learn and train to be the best tour operator. The Earthstompers Tours that stayed with us on a weekly basis really caught my eye, with their attention to detail when booking guests and checking guests in at the hostel. Not to mention their awesome guides!! All girls might I add. J Since I hail from the Garden Route, it has a special place in my heart and I knew that it would be incredible to guide tours there, so I asked Hendrik to let me know if he had any vacancies, and the rest is history…

I don’t only guide our Garden Route & Addo tours; my job description also includes marketing our Earthstompers products, attending events and conferences and making new business connections. I really enjoy this part of my job as I have been involved in the youth travel industry for the past few years and can now continue to work with some familiar faces. I also assist with coordinating weekly tours, daily admin and soon to be part-time babysitter for Chrissy & Hendrik’s baby boy who arrived on 8 June! William Hendrik Human J <3

I’m very happy to be representing a company with such high standards and sincerity. When I take people on tour, I am proud, not only of my country but also of Earthstompers and all the hard work Hendrik & Chrissy have done to get where they are today. 10 years of operation! By being on the road as well as in the office, it gives us an advantage in knowing our product standard, making sure it is consistent and also building relationships stronger than ever before.

I would like guests to see South Africa through a real local’s eyes when they come on tour with us. Enjoy our country like we do, see the places we love and really have an experience they never expected would happen! With Earthstompers’ tours, I am happy to say I have already had many tours that even exceeded my own expectations. The endless gorgeous landscapes, ever-changing vegetation and a unique sunset and fire every night J This country is one-of-a-kind and you just can’t help but fall in love with it!

Follow our adventures on Instagram and Facebook

Thursday, 5 November 2015

For the love of food!

We at Earthstompers are foodies, and we consider good food (and drink) to be an important part of our tours!  The local cuisine of a country tells you a lot about the people and everyday life, and our goal is for you to dine the way South Africans do while on tour.

Breakfasts usually offer the choice of a hot breakfast with eggs & bacon, as well as fruit, yogurt, cereals, muesli, or toast.
Lunches happen mostly on-the-go; we try to make use of local farm stalls and markets as much as possible.
For dinners the group gets together and enjoys a sit-down meal. Meals are carefully chosen to give you a taste of true South African cuisine, and each establishment prides themselves on the dish they serve.

As you will quickly learn, South Africans love making fire, whether it is for ambiance, or cooking, or both! There is great skill in controlling the heat of the coals to cook food to perfection without drying it out or burning it.

The Potjie
“Potjie” means “small pot”. This is a one-pot-wonder dish that is prepared on the open fire.  Traditionally the dish consists of your choice of meat, a variety of vegetables and potatoes. Everything is layered inside the pot and left to cook for a duration of 4-6 beers. ;-)

The Braai
Similar to a barbeque, but with real wood and real meat (not charcoal or minced patties). South Africans braai very frequently; on average once a week or more.  All the meat and vegetables get grilled on the open coals and served with a salad. Braaiing is a very social event; people gather around the fire and chat while the food is getting prepared.  On tour you will have the opportunity to braai twice!

Traditional cooking
We also have delicious traditional, home-cooked meals. One that we offer on tour is called Bobotie. It is thought to originate from the Indonesian dish, Bobotok. The recipe was adopted by the Cape Malay. They would grind up scraps of left-over meat, mix it with spices, add some bread and pour an egg-and milk mixture over before baking in the oven. This dish is very tasty and a bit spicy, and goes great with a good red wine.

Speaking of good red wine...sampling the local wine is a must while in South Africa!  The Cape is home to 500+ wineries, producing some of the best wine on the planet.  Most guests are impressed not only by the quality of the wine available, but by the prices - you can get a very decent bottle of wine for R100, which is about £4.70 GBP/ $7.20 USD / E6.60 Euro. Enjoy!!!

Special dietary requirements: we are able to cater for certain dietary requirements and food allergies, such as a vegetarian or gluten-free, but unfortunately are not able to cater for strict halaal or vegan diets. If in doubt, ask us!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Whale watching - Hermanus, South Africa

This week, I went on a whale watching boat trip in Hermanus with Southern Right Charters. We offer this trip as an optional activity for our guests on tour every Monday in whale season, which lasts from roughly July to December along the coast of South Africa.

I've seen whales from the shore in Hermanus area, but it is really special to be able to see these huge creatures up close from the boat. They say that the Southern Right Whales that we see along the coast are ten times as big as an African Elephant - weighing about 45 tons each!

We were lucky enough to see three different species of whales on our trip - Bryde's Whale, Humpback Whale, and Southern Right Whales.

We also got to see a variety of behaviours: breaching, spyhopping, and tail slapping.

Thank you to Robin and the team at Southern Right Charters for having me along, and for taking great care of our guests week after week!


waving at us :)

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Up close & personal with the Great White

Today’s blog comes from Franzio Fortuin, our Earthstompers intern.  He recently had a chance to participate in Shark Cage Diving, one of the AMAZING optional activities we offer on Mondays of tour.  Thank you Marine Dynamics for giving him this opportunity!


It’s common amongst us humans to have mixed feelings when it comes to “sharks”. I myself had my doubts about them, mainly because they look like they are constantly hungry and you are on the menu.

But I recently had a change of heart towards my friends from the ocean.  I was privileged enough to get an experience of a lifetime: I went Shark Cage Diving.

Outline of the day's activities
The day starts with an early pick up in Cape Town at your accommodation between 4 and 6 in the morning. We then had a 2-hour drive to Gansbaai; once we got there we enjoyed a lovely breakfast and a briefing about the dive.  We got into our diving gear, which consisted of a wetsuit, goggles, and boots (the company provides all the gear you need – you just wear your swimming costume). The water can be anywhere between 12º C and 20º C, so the wetsuit and boots help you keep warm.

After we were dressed we got on the boat, and soon we were off to see some Great Whites. We went to “shark hotspots”, where they typically see a lot of sharks, and we indeed saw many sharks (including quite a few large ones!). We spent some time at the shark hot spot to give everyone a proper chance to meet the Great Whites.

The cage is attached to the side of the boat, so 8 persons at a time can get in the cage and go below the water to see the sharks as they swim by.  Visibility is usually 6 - 8 meters underwater. Those not in the cage still have a great view from the boat deck of the passing sharks.

Snacks, drinks and hot chocolate were served on board to the guests, which is a nice addition. Once everyone had seen the sharks more than a couple of times, we headed back to the shore. Before we got on the bus again to head back home they served us with some nice hot soup and some bread to warm us back up.  All in all, we were out on the water for about 3 hours.

This experience was probably one of the most amazing things I have ever done in my life. Having a space of less than 2 meters between me and the largest predatory fish on earth was absolutely breathtaking. To me, these animals are amazing creatures that deserve more respect and conservation then what they are currently receiving, because in actual fact they are an endangered species.

But the sharks weren’t the only thing that stood out in this experience. What also caught my eye and stole my heart was the brilliant staff of the shark diving company Marine Dynamics.  Every single person who I came into contact with was informative, helpful, professional and just down right friendly. What really stole my heart was the sincere passion and commitment these people have towards their job and I could see that every person took pride in his/her position whatever it may be.

Not only does Marine Dynamics offer amazing service to their clients but they offer lifesaving service to the most important element of their company, the marine life. They save on average 100-130 birds per year, including the South African Penguins who are also an endangered species. They have now started to build a Rehabilitation Centre in Gansbaai called the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary (APSS) that is due to open this month. The aim of the centre is to get injured animals to a safe and secure facility in time to start its rehabilitation much faster and increasing its chance of survival and to restore the natural balance for the wildlife in Gansbaai. The APSS was founded by Gansbaai local, owner of Marine Dynamics and life-long birder, Wilfred Chivell. And this is not all, please read more about the many conservation efforts Marine Dynamics is involved with here.

These are two of the reasons why we at Earthstompers choose to work with Marine Dynamics: to give our clients the best service and quality experiences, and to support a company that looks after the environment and the marine life that calls it home.

I am Franzio Fortuin, up close and personal with the great white of the ocean.   

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Ebola! In South Africa?

“Fear of Ebola highest amongst people who did not pay attention during math and science class” - New Yorker Magazine :-)

I know many blogs and articles have been talking about Ebola; but I would just like to emphasize a few of the facts again, as it seems some were not paying attention in geography class either!

Many people think Africa is a country; Africa is not country but a continent, Africa consists of more than 50 countries.  Africa is 30,221,532 km2 (11,668,599 sq. mi) in size; this is the second biggest continent of the world. The continent is bigger than China, Japan, USA, India and Europe combined.

West Africa is where the outbreak of Ebola began. Countries are considered high risk, and include Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
East Africa is Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, famous for wildlife and safari holidays, with no Ebola cases.
Southern Africa is where South Africa is found (our home - Cape Town and the Garden Route) along with our neighbours Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

I understand that distance these days is not an issue with air travel, but just so you understand how far Cape Town actually is from West Africa I will compare distances for you below:

West Africa to:
  • Madrid, Spain – 3600 km – 2236 miles
  •  London, United Kingdom – 4936 km – 3067 miles
  • Recife, Brazil – 3026 km – 1880 miles
  •  New York, USA – 7061 km - 4388 miles
  • CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - 5797 km – 3602 miles

Yes people, Cape Town is much further from the Ebola outbreak than Europe and South America.

Is there Ebola in South Africa?
No cases of Ebola have been reported in South Africa or in Southern Africa (that includes our neighbours Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique), so no you cannot get contaminated with Ebola in South Africa. SOUTH AFRICA IS EBOLA FREE! The last case in South Africa was in 1996, no cases reported since then. The craziest part of it all is that your chance of getting Ebola in South Africa is not as high as getting Ebola in Europe or in the USA where there have been confirmed cases of Ebola in the last few months.

South Africa has been monitoring for Ebola at all incoming airports since the start of the Ebola outbreak, unlike many cities in Europe and America that only started with monitoring of passengers in the last weeks/months.

Still concerned about getting Ebola in South Africa?
You cannot get Ebola if you do not come in to contact with a person’s body fluids that has the virus, this virus does not get spread through air like flu. (Yes, your odds of touching somebodies blood while on holiday are not that great, only if you have some weird fetish that we rather do not want to discuss!) So no, you cannot get Ebola in South Africa because nobody here has Ebola, so you cannot get in touch with those body fluids. People getting Ebola are the unfortunate family members and the very brave and unselfish medical personal that are in direct contact with these patients daily.

Your chance is bigger dying of lightning strike, car crash, plane crash, shark attack or even falling off a chair than catching Ebola – are you never going to sit on a chair again? These are just a few facts that came up when I googled. We have not even touched on terrorism threats or public violence in your own home country. Yes, you might be safer along the beautiful Garden Route of South Africa than you are back in your hometown.

Please people don't panic, don’t cancel your planned dream holiday, don’t make any hasty decisions. Do your research and come to Cape Town and the Garden Route, we do not have Ebola down here; we do not even have malaria down here. We just have awesome sunshine, beautiful scenery, beautiful beaches, great food, great wine, many adventures, great people, some awesome wildlife and nature down here.

I’m not a writer, journalist, scientist, geography expert, doctor or Ebola expert; I'm just a tour operator sharing my views on Ebola in South Africa. In no way am I trying to underestimate or undermine the seriousness of this disease. Ebola is sad and real and we have to take utmost care to get this under control.

Of course you must take great care of yourself and your loved ones when traveling, but the panic, paranoia and stupidity regarding Ebola is making me sad and angry. Tourism figures for next year in South Africa are already starting to suffer because people are making hasty decisions and are not being realistic. Think before you talk and think before you act! All that is changing in South Africa is that summer is here, the weather is getting better and better and the tourist season is already upon us!

As you can see, life goes on in South Africa!

Greetings from a sunny and warm Cape Town

Hendrik Human

Friday, 17 October 2014

Franzio's Blog

This week we are giving our blog over to Franzio, our intern from Boland College, who will be helping us in the office in 2015.  Welcome Franzio.  :)

Have you ever had that feeling that you had to be exactly where you are in your life and had to go through all the things you did to find yourself where you are at this given moment in time?  I do.  I know you might have that feeling of “why do I have to be the one who’s life is not that glamorous and doesn't have all the things other people do” well… I've been there, but I managed to drag myself out of that hole and on to the bend of it for now.

I grew up in a family of five, three children of which I am the youngest. Ever since I can remember my parents could never go all out and just give me and my sisters everything we asked for, because they just didn't have the money. My dad had a job (well he had many jobs) but he just couldn't manage to hold on to it for very long. My mother also had a job for a while but her salary had to pay the bills and put food on the table. So I never had anything just handed to me, if I needed money for something I had to work in the garden of our neighbours or wash their car or do an odd job, I've always had to work for everything I wanted, and that’s one characteristic I still own today. With that same mentality and hard work I finished school and passed matric with a bachelor’s degree, the first for our family. I had the capacity and ability to enroll at a University but sadly I didn't have the financial capability to do so.

My first year after I finished school I went to look for colleges that offered bursaries to people who can't afford to go to a University. And I found one in Paarl called Boland College. I went there and enrolled myself. In my first year I finished the year at third best student at the college, putting my stamp down as a force to be reckoned with. In my second year my dad lost his job and my mother was also unemployed, we had it hard at home but I never showed any of it at college because in that same year I finished the year as top student, I refused to believe that I was destined to follow in my parents footsteps. I studied hard even if sometimes there was no power, I had to make a choice “will I just let up and drown in my misery or will I stand up and fight for what I wanted from life, my circumstances fueled and pushed me on to do better and be better than everyone else.

I am now currently in my final year at Boland College and I am the front runner for a number of major awards at the college to name a few: top student at Boland College Paarl, top student of all the Boland Colleges in the Western Cape. But my personal and most prestigious event in the year was when I won a tour with Earthstompers Adventures for being the student that showed the most potential and interest in the Tourism Industry while we went on the College’s annual three day tour. I now have the divine pleasure to spend time in the offices of one of Cape Town’s best tour operating agencies, Earthstompers Adventures.

False Bay
Being granted this opportunity means that I can now start to build my future in the image I want it to be. I went on the tour last week with a number of international tourists and it was an amazing experience that I will never forget. I had to travel from Paarl to Stellenbosch at 05:00 in the morning because my pick up point was at Stellenbosch train station so I had to catch a lift with our neighbour who works in Stellenbosch only downside was that my pick up time was 08:30, which made it a further 3 hour wait. But the day started awesome, the first people I met was an interesting couple from the UK, Shara and Will. I really had my breath totally taken away almost around every corner for the whole duration of the tour, the first time came when we drove through False Bay and saw the beautiful Atlantic Ocean waters, looking across the water we could see Table Mountain and Devil's Peak in the far I was actually trying to control my emotions. And as always in the Cape we saw only a bit of the thousands of plant species we find in the Cape Floral Region.

Hang around with this guy, you will find the whales!
In no time we were in Hermanus doing some whale spotting from the cliffs in Hermanus, wow it was absolutely amazing. After trying to spot some whales I took a walk through Hermanus and took some awesome pictures with the Hermanus whale crier and some soldiers and their equipment who were there for an exhibition during the whale festival, man I have to say I gained a new respect for our soldiers in South Africa. 

Our tour group
The evening we went to book in at Cape Agulhas Backpackers, the most Southern backpackers in Africa. There I started to chat with more of the other tourists, and they were really amazing people, not that different than South Africans actually. I tried to learn the names of all the people on tour like: Katherine, Hendrik, Roy, Amy, Janik, Carlo, Steffi, Danielle and some others as well.

The food we had for dinner was out of this world amazing, I'm a South African and I have never tasted a potjiekos (stew) that tasted that amazing, and I wasn't the only person that thought so - everyone that finished their food said the exact same thing, okay maybe in a different language but it meant the same thing every time “delicious”. The next morning for the first time I woke up with a beautiful view of the pool outside the sliding door of my room, as for someone who has to share a room with someone else every night, that was really amazing to see and experience.  

Karusa Wines
On the second day we went to Oudtshoorn, and it was a long drive but it was really worth it. We enjoyed a nice meal and did some wine tasting at Karusa. After that one of the highlights of the tour took place …the “Cango Caves Adventure Tour”, my arch nemeses. I am not a guy for tight spots where I can’t get out or could get stuck, and the caves are exactly that. So you could say it was a sense of “fear factor” for me, and I have to say it was amazing so “Franzio fear is not a factor for you”. I came out on the other side alive.

Wilderness National Park
I was making good friends with the other tourists and we began to talk a lot more and even started to learn a little bit of German from the guys on tour. We had to do some canoeing in Wilderness and once we reached the top after a little hike we had a swim under the waterfall that flows downstream again. That water was so cold but it was so much fun to just do it.

Bloukrans Bungee
But I have to say highlight for me of the tour was the bungee jumping from the highest bungee bridge in the world, which was undoubtedly the best part of the whole tour I still get shivers when I think about it. After I made that jump I thought to myself “I would have never made it this far if I gave up back when it all seemed to be too much to carry for a young person like me” but I am here and I am fighting for what I want and want to achieve.

I am currently spending some amazing time in the office with two really influential, motivational and inspiring people; they are the owners of Earthstompers Adventure Tours, Hendrik and Chrissy Human. Winning this tour and being where I am right now proves that you don’t have to come from a rich family to gain success in life, all it takes is hard work, dedication, commitment, a never say die attitude, people that believe in you and a dream that’s worth fighting for.

I am Franzio Fortuin and this is my story.