Thursday, 12 January 2017

Earthstompers Year End

On Sunday we had our annual staff Christmas/New Years party. It was so exciting to have the ENTIRE team there, as this is the first time ever that this happened.  Our team has grown over the past year and now includes 4 guides, 4 office staff, a marketing position and a part time bookkeeper and babysitter for prince William J


Hendrik & Chrissy organized an amazing excursion which we all thoroughly enjoyed. It’s no secret, we are all omnivore foodies and also Love us some good wine. 

The location could not have been chosen better.  We were booked
for a cooking demonstration at The Chef Tiaan Studio at the stunning Spier Estate between Stellenbosch and Somerset West.

The weather was supreme, the excitement levels high and the smells coming from Chef Tiaan’s kitchen, to die for! Chef Tiaan has a very relaxed manner around the kitchen, making you feel at home and like you’re an old friend visiting at his house. The space is creative and stylish, yet simple and comfortable. There is no doubt that he has serious skills on all fronts!


He started us off with bread, cold meats and cheese while he demonstrated how you create baby spinach snacks with puff pastry blankets. He made the whole process seem fun and like zero effort, while holding conversation and answering questions.


While we were munching away on the spinach pastries and enjoying our bubbly, he was already prepping the dessert; Chocolate Fondant topped with strawberry sorbet and sprinkled with crushed almond brittle – all home made in front of our eyes. The sorbet is left to chill in the mixer while we move on to the veggies for the main course.
Who knew carrots aren’t always orange! Purple, orange and white (rainbow) carrots were lightly boiled before roasting in the oven with some broccoli, covered in honey and herbs. Mmmmmm. Potatoes were salt roasted – fascinating and very fun to do!


The big event, the meat!! We roasted some fresh pepper and coriander corns and crushed them. Covering the whole fillet with liberal amounts of olive oil, you dip the meat in the crushed pepper and coriander and let it sizzle and seal in a hot pan for a few minutes before popping it in the oven for exactly 18 minutes says Chef Tiaan ;) This was served with a delicious, creamy mushroom sauce.


*Tips from Tiaan: To test how your meat is faring in the oven, stick a knife in and leave it for a few seconds. Take it out and hold the blade against your lower lip to feel the temperature. If it is still cold, your meat is undercooked. If it is too hot, you’ve overcooked it.  Remember that the meat’s temperature rises with 10 degrees when you remove it from the oven and it carries on cooking! The blade should be warm only, then it is ready.


Last but not least was the preparation of the salad. Easy, chunky, no fuss and frills but absolutely gorgeous and delicious!


The highlight of the day was eating this delicious meal. Every single piece of this day was perfect. The food, the presentation thereof, the wine and of course the company!


Thanks to Tiaan for sharing how everyday people like us, can cook like that!































Saturday, 10 December 2016

Kruger National Park safari extension option, coming soon!



In the past year and a half we have worked hard on expanding on our safari extension packages. Our guests have the option combine their Garden Route & Addo tour with some more in depth safari time on a private game reserve of their choice. We have partnered with a few of our favorite reserves in the malaria free Eastern Cape and are now branching out to offer safari extensions in the biggest National Park in South Africa, Kruger National Park.

 I just got back from Kruger earlier this week, after doing a 3 day educational safari to see how we  can link it up with our packages. Everything was arranged for us. I got picked up from the airport (OR Tambo, Johannesburg) and transferred to a lodge close by for the night. The next day (day 1) is the transfer to Kruger. This takes about 5-6 hours. You arrive in time for your first game drive that afternoon, followed by an awesome dinner. The days start bright and early with a snack and coffee before the sunrise game drive after which you have breakfast. Every day includes the morning- and afternoon game drives, breakfast and dinner.

 Kruger National Park is not only the biggest, but also the oldest National Park in South Africa, with a surface area of 19,485 km²! It is so big, it feels like a country in itself! As you drive through the park, the scenery and vegetation is constantly changing. Some areas have rivers and lush trees, some parts are wide and open with Acacia trees dotting the horizon and other parts have big rock hills and winding roads, giving you a birds’ eye view of the veld below. We had plenty of game encounters over the 3 days, including; hyenas, lion, rhinoceros, buffalo, kudu, impala, blue wildebeest, waterbuck, tortoise, elephant, giraffe and bush babies.

        
Besides the awesome game, which is the whole reason to visit Kruger, we also had fantastic, local food! We got spoiled with a bush braai on the first evening. Tables were set up in the middle of the veld, surrounded by candles and fires, with our food being prepared very traditionally on the open fire. When we started getting ready to leave, we spotted the hyenas lying about 50m away … A very exciting dinner, indeed!



We were there over summer so it was extremely hot (35-40 degrees celcius!) Each person or pair had their own hut (room) which was very comfortable, each fitted with its own air conditioning, en suite bathroom and a small kitchen space outside.  All rooms come in twin room setup, no double beds.  

I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience and am very excited to be offering this to our guests in the near future! 





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 (www.capefoodwine.com)








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. I will "interview" each of them and 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.

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

breaching
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!

 -Chrissy

spyhopping
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.