Two years on Island Blue - New Years 2005
Island Blue is such a beautiful place, it must best be enjoyed by spending two years there. So an intrepid team from essa, 6 in all, decided to spend 2004 and 2005 there.
New year's trip down Orange River - December
El Dorian trail nearby Carolina - December
Social responsibility Day - December
Take 32 inner city kids (from the Hillbrow Twilight Children's Centre - ages 11 to 21), and apply one piece of Magaliesberg cut to size. (Held at the Marais Farm). Activities ranged from hiking (in plakkies) and volleyball, to a course on grass identification, and a boardgame based on AIDS related questions. The end of the day saw a war cry competition that included some impressive dancing, shouting and BoyzIIMen moves, with the Red team giving a fine rendition of 'You are my destiny'.
Swazi White Water Festival - December
Annual Dinner - The Marais Farm, Magaliesberg - November
Vaalputs nuclear site! - November
The Vaalputs Nuclear Waste Site is reportedly a beautiful place to spend a few days, mountain biking, hiking and birding. It lies on the boundary of two distinct ecological zones, so is quite a diverse place
Soutpansberg - November
Formal Dinner - October
Picture the scene.... Mt Everest, many people, all in formal gear and eating gourmet food from the best cutlery, drinking fine wines from crystal goblets, looking at the beautiful views.... Okay, it is not the Himalayas but rather Harrismith and it is ESSA Formal Dinner rather than a gathering of elite mountaineers. Which makes it more fun.
Bivane River Boating - October
A dam release on the Bivane River in Northern KZN attracted the attentions of ESSA, who dispatched several crocs and kayaks to see what it was all about.
Rock Climbing - October
A motley crew of old has-been climbers, brand spanking new climbers and curious types visited Waterval Boven's stunning rock faces to partake in a bit of vertical moaning. It was fun and relaxing - nobody had the inclination to push grade for once...
Croquet - September
Pictures of sunny croquet on lush green lawns, basking in golden sunlight and dainty ESSA people dressed in white, sipping Pimms cocktails and conversing in measured tones enter the mind. Is this how it happened? Find out
El Dorian bridle trail nearby Carolina - September
Equine thrills and spills were enjoyed by some ESSA members on the El Dorian horse trail in the Mpumalanga Highveld.
Tswaing Crater- August
ESSA, with new found buddies, Astronomical Society of Southern Africa, paid a visit to the Tswaing Crater near Pretoria
Winetasting - August
Sometimes ESSA types try to put a thin veneer of civility over themselves by taking part in winetasting events. They are quite fun and well run, but normally by the 15th glass, the point is being missed...
Micro-brewery visiting - August
Sometimes ESSA types give in to their true nature and seek out beer. A fun tour of the Gilroy's Brewery was enjoyed by an appreciative ESSA crowd
Winter and spring kayaking - August-October
The desperate souls that make up the hardcore of the ESSA paddling community have been starved of regular beatings on the Vaal (no water seems to flow there anymore) so have sought adventure on the frigid Ash River in the picturesque Eastern Free State, the Orange at Thunder Alley and the rather smelly Klip River near Meyerton. For the sakes of all concerned, lets hope that rains come freeing these folks from spending any more time than necessary in the wastewater of JHB! Anyways, some of the kayakers have really been gaining some good experience and there is now a significant grouping of reasonably good ESSA paddlers. They are even quite friendly...
Stargazing - Haartebeeshoek Radio Observatory - July
A group of ESSA stargazers made the journey out to Haartebeeshoek and braved the cold to gain insights into the stars, helped by having some members of the Astronomical Society of SA along
Thailand backpacking - July
A couple of ESSA regulars decided winter was getting the better of them, and thus headed off to the Far East for some exploration of Thailand
Winter Drakensberg - June
The Amphitheatre became somewhat crowded when ESSA hauled a large group of winter wonderland warriors up to the plateau for some photography and general relaxing in this stunning spot
Sodwana Diving - June
Diving (and learning to dive) the reefs of Sodwana
Imvelo Mountain Bike Classic, Swaziland - June
This Swaziland festival of mountain biking and other adventurous activities was once again well attended by ESSA types.
Urban Dinner - May
Some ESSA souls embarked on a dinner with a difference - to a Soweto shebeen. The night was frigid, so the beers were cold, and the food was just great!
Ash River Kayaking - May
It's cold, but paddlers must still get their fix. The place where the water flows is the As/ Ash river near Clarens. Chris M was not keen because he thought it wasn't cold enough yet! Has Chris been spending too much time at altitude, we wonder?
Caving in the Sterkfontein Area - May
This area is famous for paleantology, but there are buried treasures of a different kind to be found in the area
Matlapa Hike, Mpumalanga
Soutpansberg Mountain Retreat - April
Gareth's family farm in the magnificent Soutpansberg was crying out for more ESSA visitors, so the cry was heeded and a group set off to enjoy the many treats this place has for the visitor...
Easter on the Olifants - April
A decent sized group of kayakers and croccers took on the Olifants River above Manoutsa, enjoying all this magnificent section of river has to offer. The gorge is a bit too deep for the Easter Bunny, so it was reported that easter eggs were few and far between...
Archie took a group of croccers down a section of the Olifants.
Thunder Alley Croccing and kayaking - March
A small group went down this familiar stretch of river for a weekend, enjoying the nice water level.
Nylsvley blobbing weekend - March
Some birds were spotted, but not too many. It was a blobbing weekend after all!
Ruwenzori Expedition - February/March
The Ruwenzori Expedition was the first major expedition of the year for ESSA. A team of assorted peak-baggers went in search of the summits of Margerita Peak and Mt Elgon, both in Uganda. Mt Elgon was climbed, but noxious weather stopped the attempt on Margherita. Nevertheless, the team returned with stories of the amazing beauty and natural phenomena (giant heather and lobelia, monster bogs) of the Mountains of the Moon. More...
Crocodile River Valentines Love Boat Cruise - February 14
The rains came late, but boy, did they come! The Croc, 20 minutes outside JHB was pumping, so an ragtag bunch of kayakers and croccers decided that Valentines day could best be served by bobbing down this normally placid river. It was an exciting trip, with some largeish rapids, many spills and lots of fun. More likely that relationships would have suffered though...
Assorted Ruwenzori training trips a.k.a. Magaliesberg Marches, Suikerbosrand Slogs, Drakensberg drudges
The Rwuenzoris team (well most of them anyways) were training hard for the feared bogs and steep inclines of the Ruwenzoris, so most Sundays in January and February saw expedition members embarking on long walks in the mountains/ hills of Gauteng, and a trip to the Berg was also undertaken. Some anonymous team members trained by walking up steps at work...
Mweni Drakensberg - New Years 2004
The second New Years trip was a hike (reportedly rather tough) in the Mweni area of the 'Berg<
Island Blue - New Years 2004
Most of the country looked barren, and the Olifants River was but a trickle. Go up the road to the start of Island Blue, and an oasis is found. The deep, forested ravine of Island Blue was chosen as a fine site to host a new years party (lots of outrageously beautiful pools to swim off a hangover...). A great few days, but the New Years Party had to be skipped due to the sudden appearance of a huge downpour. The tents were all pitched in the path of a flood from a week previously, so the only person who had a sound night's sleep was 8 month old Connor, blissfully unaware!<