A Wilderness Experience With Heart

At least once in life we find ourselves faced with the question, Am I brave enough? Do I have what it takes? And sometimes, most times, the only way to find out is to take the leap…

One such time now faces the team of 27 who are about to embark across one of the most inimitable and isolated wilderness areas in the world, for six days, covering 360 kilometres – on mountain bikes.

My wimpy muscles twitch fearfully at the thought, but these adventurers are ready to trade safari vehicles and airplanes, their usual mode of travel, for dusty mountain bikes to complete the 10 year anniversary Challenge4ACause expedition through the rugged landscape of Namibia’s Damaraland Desert, from 15 – 22 July 2017.

Representing Relais & Châteaux in the challenge are Shan Varty and Anthea Boehmke (Londolozi), Paul Harris and Nicola Harris (Ellerman House), Julia Geffers (Relais & Châteaux Paris), and Hidehiro Kubo (Relais & Châteaux Japan). They will be joined by 21 other riders.

Those who have ridden before have called it one of the best wilderness experiences of their lives.

Cycling for as much as five to seven hours a day, they’ll pass through 2.5 million hectares of vast expanses, striking terrain and distinctive desert-adapted wildlife like zebra, springbok, oryx, giraffe, rhino, hyena and elephant. Along the way, they’ll arrive to a fully-equipped camp of tents set up by the support team, with meals and drinks awaiting and the odd lion’s call in the distance.

Beyond the natural beauty and sense of accomplishment (and panicky pulmonary palpitations… can lungs palpitate? This is definitely a good way to find out) of such an expedition, what is driving them is something more philanthropic, something tugging at the heart.

With the cyclists, suppliers and partners helping to raise funds through the event, proceeds from C4AC 2017 will go toward uplifting local communities, enriching lives, funding conservation projects in Africa, and making a tangible difference in Africa’s wildlife, landscapes, and people.

The projects supported by this year’s C4AC include many of those funded daily by our African and Indian Ocean Island Relais & Châteaux hotels and lodges, as well as the:

  • Save the Rhino Trust:  protects the highly endangered desert-adapted black rhino population in the Damaraland. This region is home to the largest free-ranging black rhino population in the wild. SRT has provided consistent patrolling and monitoring of black rhino over the last 25 years. Our contributions help fund their anti-poaching units.
  • The Wildlife ACT: The Wildlife ACT is a non-profit organisation whose main objective is to bring our endangered and threatened wildlife back from the brink of extinction. Their conservation efforts largely focus on the endangered black rhino, African wild dog, cheetah, and vulture populations; as well as threatened elephant, lion, leopard, and white rhino species.
  • Good Work Foundation: a South African NGO on a mission to unleash the untapped potential of millions of people living in rural areas. GWF aims to provide a world-class education and to lead a focused, achievable and digitally-[em]powered education model for rural Africa.

We will keep you up-to-date with the Challenge4ACause adventure as it unfolds.


Watch the Video…


 

 

Mystery, Mindfulness & Mielie Bread

There are times when you might not want to eat mindfully. On an airplane, for instance. Or when on day four of hiking the 90km Fish River Canyon in Namibia the only foodstuff left in the backpack is Smash (* instant mashed potatoes, mmm…). I haven’t hiked the Fish River Canyon, but I’m sure that if it got to the stage where Smash was the only option for survival, I’d be sending my mind off to nap in the furthest, darkest lobe of my brain. And I would be second-guessing my choice of hiking partner.

There are times, though, when your mind wants very much to be there alongside (above?) you, when it stands on end like the fine and flirty hair of your forearms when you meet that person who completes your sentences. In that cute way, not the won’t-let-you-get-a-word-in way.

One of those times occurs as you enter through the glass doors of Greenhouse, The Cellars-Hohenort in Cape Town’s award-winning restaurant, masterminded by Executive Chef, Peter Tempelhoff and Head Chef, Ashley Moss.

It happens as the waiter slips your chair out and you fall into its cushion. As the menu arrives and the drinks are filled and refilled. As the first of the eleven dishes arrives on the table before you. Yes, eleven. Because after the first bite your senses will be shouting, “Yes, yes, we’re all here, now bring us more!” Because they’re demanding like that. And because they know a good thing when they see it. And sniff it. And taste it.

The light is dim, romantic, and you can detect the mystery of night through the windows of Greenhouse’s, well, greenhouse. The stars twinkle a little brighter, I’m sure of it. Because as yours is sure to be too, my mind is present. I am here. Or there. No, no, definitely here. My attention attunes to each detail because each detail is something unexpected. And so satisfying.

You don’t need to go to Tibet. Although if you do, I’ll gladly join. You don’t need a course or CD or textbook in mindfulness. Sitting down to a meal at Greenhouse will show you the way. Just go slowly.

We would be doing the restaurant (the chefs, the waiters, the farmers, the fishermen; the whole team involved) a disservice by baring it all here for you to see. But in the name of calling that mind to attention, allow us to give you a taste of the mystery that flows from the garden at night into each dish, flavour and texture. From the mielie bread and popcorn butter, the bacon brioche and banana cream, to the Atlantic tuna and kimchi, the soured fynbos honey with that Karoo lamb.

This is The Greenhouse Experience… Take a look at the menu here.

“Most of the time, we are eating on autopilot, eating on the run, eating our worries or anxieties from the day’s demands, anticipations, irritations, and ‘to do’ lists. If we are not conscious of the food we eat, if we are not actively thinking about that apple, how can we taste it and get the pleasure of eating it?

“Eating an apple consciously is to have a new awareness of the apple, of our world, and of our own life. It celebrates nature, honoring what Mother Earth and the cosmos have offered us. … As the apple becomes more real and vibrant, your life becomes more real and vibrant. Savoring the apple is mindfulness at work.”

– Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life, by Lilian Cheung, Thich Nhat Hanh