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.