Great Drives

Kruger NP Goes Flat Screen

Posted on Oct 2, 2013 | Comments Off on Kruger NP Goes Flat Screen

kruger map sm

The Kruger National Park has installed flat screen television screens to enhance information dissemination to tourists in the park.

The screens have been installed and are already in use at the gate and camp receptions. Making use of text, images, audio and video, the screens will present visitors with content such as updates on the developments of the park, park rules and regulations, emergencies like road closures, park events and campaigns, scientific research and other projects, rare animal sightings and more.

“The expectations from the public are changing, they want the speed on access to information; they want prompt delivery of the answer, rather than guidance or instruction. We were looking at introducing the kind of communication and marketing tool which would afford us a chance to communicate in an interactive way with our tourists, when Anglo American responded positively,” indicated Mabasa.

The screens were donated by Anglo American and Phillip Fourie, Head of Safety and Sustainable Development, for Anglo American’s thermal coal business at Paul Kruger Gate, presented them to the park.

“Anglo American believes that the impact of mining should be positive and to the benefit of South Africa, its people and the environment. We look forward to a successful partnership with Kruger National Park,” he said.

“Like broadcast media, these TV screens will allow us to disseminate information on time; allowing tourists to respond by either making follow-ups with our front office staff or contacting the relevant park officials for more information,” concluded Mabasa.

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CNN’s view of 10 of the world’s best motorcycle rides

Posted on Aug 14, 2013 | Comments Off on CNN’s view of 10 of the world’s best motorcycle rides

An interesting post by CNN. Do you agree – or have other rides to add?

The original article is at: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/08/12/travel/motorcycle-rides/index.html

By Christopher Baker, for CNN
August 13, 2013 — Updated 2325 GMT (0725 HKT)
Few activities offer the feeling of freedom, speed and adventure than a long trip on a motorcycle. Here are some of the top views to be had while biking the world.
Few activities offer the feeling of freedom, speed and adventure than a long trip on a motorcycle. Here are some of the top views to be had while biking the world.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Taking in France and Spain, the Pyrenees Loop is a favorite with European bikers
  • Dales and Moors in north England offer nonstop bends, fast straights, wild scenery
  • California’s Pacific Coast Highway takes in redwood forests, ocean cliffs

(CNN) — Nature’s beauty seems so much closer from the seat of a saddle.

Bikes offer a more intimate connection with the people of the places you pass through.

No wonder adventure motorcycling has grown massively in the last decade.

The 2004 “Long Way Round” and 2007’s “Long Way Down” TV documentary series (both featured Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman’s round the world rides) helped spark the trend.

In 2011, the Motorcycle Industry Council reported that sales of adventure touring bikes were up 14.2% across 12 major brands.

There are hundreds of scenic roads worldwide, but the greatest rides are spiced by the thrill of twisties and smooth hardtop where motorcyclists can crank open the throttle.

Here are 10 of the best rides worldwide, whether for a day out or a longer adventure.

All are in places where motorcycles can be rented or where tours are organized.

1. Ceuta to Marrakesh loop, Morocco

2,570 kilometers (1,600 miles)

Bikers on this route journey through an exotic realm of ancient kasbahs (citadels), souks (bazaars) and desert cultures.

After rolling off the ferry at Ceuta, riders switchback through the wild Rif Mountains to Fez, then traverse the Atlas Mountains (snow-capped in winter) to hit the Sahara at Erfoud.

More on CNN: 10 thing to know before visiting Morocco

Snaking west through the Todra Gorge, the route passes palm groves of Ouarzazate and the imperial city of Marrakesh.

Beyond, the Tizi n’Test Pass runs down to the Atlantic coast at Agadir.

It’s two days from here along blacktop to Casablanca, then the final 321 kilometers (200 miles) via Tangiers to Ceuta.

Edelweiss Bike Travel, +43 5264 5690

2. Pyrenees Loop, France and Spain

2,410 kilometers (1,500 miles), Bilbao to Biarritz

A head turner for its sensational scenery and mind-bending hairpins, this route is a favorite among European bikers.

From Bilbao you spin east on the N260 (a legendary biking road worming into the Pyrenees), hit La Seu d’Urgell, then wind north to Andorra, dropping back to Spain at Bourg-Madame for 48 kilometers (30 miles) of twisties coiling down to Ripoli.

At Figueres you can stop at the Dalí museum before rolling along the Mediterranean coast to France.

The D117 from Perpignan threads through narrow mountain passes to Col d’Aspin, with grin-inducing bends all the way to Biarritz.

Pyrenees Motorcycle Tours, +33 (0)5 62 45 08 11

3. The Great Ocean Road, Australia

Blue sky, white sand, red hot wheels.
Blue sky, white sand, red hot wheels.

290 kilometers (180 miles)

This one-day ride from Melbourne to Petersbrough winds through shoreline rainforest, skirts sensational surfing beaches and unfurls along the rugged Shipwreck Coast, renowned for limestone pinnacles piercing the sea like witch’s fingers.

More on CNN: World’s 10 ultimate drives

It’s a perfect northern winter ride.

Big Boyz Toyz, +61 (0)8 9244 4293

4. California and the American West

5,630 kilometers (3,500 miles), Los Angeles to San Francisco (the long way)

This undisputed champion of road trips weaves together many of the West’s iconic national parks.

From Los Angeles, Route 66 traces back in time to Arizona, the Grand Canyon and mesmerizing formations of Monument Valley.

More on CNN: 10 easy ways to experience Navajo Nation

Heading north, the road takes in Natural Bridges National Park, then arcing west takes in Bryce and Zion national parks.

You can twist the throttle across the Mojave Desert to Death Valley then skirt the snow-capped Sierra Nevada northbound to Lee Vining and Yosemite National Park — unrivaled in grandeur.

EagleRider Motorcycle Rental & Tours, +1 310 536 6777

5. Cape Town Circuit, South Africa

1,690 kilometers (1,050 miles)

Fantastic roads, amazing scenery and excellent climate — South Africa is perfect for a one- or two-week fly-ride vacation.

From Cape Town the wild coast heads east then the road turns north over the Olifantskip Pass to Addo National Park — a good chance to shoot big game with your camera.

A throttle-open ride across the Great Karoo to Oudtshoorn heralds dizzying switchbacks — via Route 62 — over the Little Karoo Mountains to sample the wines around Robertson before closing your loop in Cape Town.

Motorcycle Tours South Africa, +27 12 804 3805

6. Pacific Coast Highway, California

Tempting to stop at every turn.
Tempting to stop at every turn.

320 kilometers (200 miles), San Luis Obispo to San Francisco

No top 10 would be complete without this stellar ride.

Civilization disappears quickly as you dance a thrilling two-lane tango past seal-strewn beaches, redwood forests, plunging cliffs and the crashing surf of Big Sur.

Also en route — the fishing town of Monterey, the surfing capital of Santa Cruz, and everyone’s favorite city with a famous bridge, San Francisco.

EagleRider Motorcycle Rental & Tours, +1 415 647 9898

7. Dales and Moors, Yorkshire, England

440 kilometers (270 miles) from Kendal to Whitby

This one-day ride across North Yorkshire offers nonstop bends, fast straights, wild scenery and gentle vales dotted with market towns.

The A684 launches you over the Pennines to Hawes, gateway to the Yorkshire Dales National Park via Aysgarth to Leyburn.

Turn south here to Masham for Ripon and Thirsk, then over the heather-clad moors via Pickering to drop down to the peaceful fishing village of Whitby, where you can celebrate an exhilarating ride with fresh fish ‘n’ chips and a pint of ale.

White Rose Tours, +44 01423 770 103

8. Fjordland, Norway

450 kilometers (280 miles) Bergen to Andalsnes

The land of the Vikings is biking Nirvana. The road network takes in terrific switchbacks and awesome fjords — some crossed by ferries.

You begin in Bergen and head for Gudvangern where a ferry takes you through Naerlandsford, the world’s longest and deepest fjord.

Beyond Belstrand, you’ll need to drop gears as you climb over Gaularfjell to Moskog, then Stryn and Eidsdal, where a ferry links to the Trollstigen road, zigzagging crazily to deliver you exhilarated to Andalsness.

Edelweiss Bike Tours, +43 5264 5690

9. Istanbul to Anatolia, Turkey

Modern and ancient tech meet.
Modern and ancient tech meet.

2,980 kilometers (1,850 miles) Istanbul to Anatolia

Istanbul provides a superb starting point for an exotic circuit, taking in Cappadocia’s troglodyte houses, ancient Roman and Byzantine ruins and the beauty of the Black Sea and Taurus Mountains.

More on CNN: Best of Istanbul

A ferry across the Sea of Masmara links you to Bursa, then Safranbolu, and the eerie volcanic landscapes of Cappadocia, riddled with Christian churches.

A ride west via Konya to hit the Aegean coast — taking in the Greco-Roman town of Ephesus — closes the loop.

MotoDiscovery, +90 830 438 7744

10. Chasing Che, Cuba

2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles)

Chasing Che Guevara’s ghost down the highway of an enigmatic Communist island nation that resembles a Hollywood stage set is a thrill in itself.

Classic American cars and creaky ox carts are companions on your clockwise loop from Havana to Baracoa, with plenty of time for salsa, cigars and rum.

More on CNN: What to do in Havana

For five decades forbidden fruit, Cuba recently opened to U.S. citizens on licensed group motorcycle tours offered by Texas-based MotoDiscovery.

MotoDiscovery, +53 830 438 7744

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Sydney celebrates Macau GP’s 60th anniversary

Posted on May 22, 2013 | Comments Off on Sydney celebrates Macau GP’s 60th anniversary

Macau GP 60th launch IMG_1383

Kevin Barlett (with microphone), Vern Shuppan and Mike Smith tell tales of the simpler days of motor racing.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Tonight Macau Tourism opened a free exhibition under Sydney Town Hall (entry off Druitt St) to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Macau Grand Prix. The exhibition boasts free entry over the next four days and it’s a well told tale of motor racing history. To celebrate the opening, MC Mike Smith of Helen Wong tours introduced racing legends Kevin Bartlett and Vern Schuppan as well as Fernanda Ribeiro, the first winner of the Ladies car race in Macau in 1956 (in a Fiat 1100 she told iTT). There are some race simulators to try your hand at emulating Mark Webber (careful – the steering is very direct) and some great open wheelers, old and new, to inspect.

The 2013 Macau GP will be held over two weekends November 9-10 and 14-17and there’s information about packages to attend.

For more information visit

www.macau.grandprix.gov.mo

www.macautourism.gov.mo

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Unknown wonders: Wolfe Creek Crater

Posted on May 20, 2013 | Comments Off on Unknown wonders: Wolfe Creek Crater

Wolfe Creek Crater: the second largest meteor impact site in the world. Dainis Dravins – Lund Observatory, Sweden.

Australia is famous for its natural beauty: the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, Kakadu, the Kimberley. But what about the places almost no one goes? We asked ecologists, biologists and wildlife researchers to nominate five of Australia’s unknown wonders.

It is a testament to the size and isolation of many parts of Australia that it wasn’t until 1947 that the second largest meteorite crater in the world was discovered. Known as Wolfe Creek Crater, this imposing feature is located about 145km from Halls Creek in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. It can be reached after a two to three-hour drive down the Tanami Road, only accessible to conventional vehicles during the dry season.

Its discovery came during an aerial survey of this part of the Kimberley region, when geologists Frank Reeves and NB Sauve, along with pilot Dudley Hart, spotted an unusual circular structure almost a kilometre in diameter. Naturally intrigued by what they saw, they were keen to inspect it a little closer.


While known by Indigenous Australians for thousands of years, Wolfe Creek Crater wasn’t officially ‘discovered’ until 1947. Dainis Dravins, Lund Observatory, Sweden.

 

Two months later, Reeves and Hart reached the site on foot and made the first detailed investigation. Their suspicion that it was a deep crater was confirmed after they climbed up the outer sloping flanks of the structure and looked down to the floor, some 30 metres below. As they made their way up the slope of the crater rim they would have seen rusty balls of rock scattered on the ground or fused to the laterite.

Known as “shale balls”, these rusty rocks provide the evidence that the structure was a huge meteorite crater. These rust balls represent the deeply weathered remains of an iron meteorite that exploded when it collided with Earth about 300,000 years ago – clear and stark evidence of what made the crater.

The hole that it gouged out of the Devonian age quartzite rocks varies in diameter from 950 to 870 metres. The only bigger crater undoubtedly made by a meteorite impact is the Meteor Crater in Arizona.

Travelling at cosmic velocity, about 15km per second (that’s 40 times faster than a bullet from a high-powered rifle, or like crossing Australia in less than five minutes), the massive chunk of iron would have exploded on impact with the earth. Most of the meteorite, which was probably getting on for 100,000 tonnes in weight, would have been vapourised, along with huge quantities of the quartzite rock into which it ploughed.

Very little of the meteorite remains today, but sufficient has been collected for us to be sure that this was what made the crater. Like all iron meteorites, this one contained small quantities of nickel. In the weathered shale balls this nickel has been incorporated into what turned out to be a nickel-iron carbonate mineral not found anywhere else and which was new to science. This was named “reevesite” after Frank Reeves.


The ‘eye’ of Wolfe Creek Crater. Dainis Dravins, Lund Observatory, Sweden.

 

Although only “discovered” in 1947, the structure had long been known to the local Indigenous people, probably for thousands of years. The local Djaru people call the crater Kandimalal. In their dreamtime stories two rainbow snakes crossed the desert and in doing so formed the nearby Sturt Creek and Wolfe Creek. The crater is the place where one of the snakes emerged from the ground.

Huge quantities of sand have blown into the crater since it was formed, so it would have originally been far deeper. Its base is essentially flat, except for a slight rise in the centre. This is a feature of many meteorite craters and represents where the earth rebounded following the explosion.

There are a number of sink holes in the centre and unusually large trees grow here. These are mainly species of Acacia and Eucalyptus, some growing up to 8m high. It is likely that the trees draw on the summer water that is trapped in these sink holes. The relatively large number of dead trees interspersed with healthy ones attests to periods of lower rainfall. The sink holes are arranged on two intersecting lines and probably reflect the location of stress fractures formed by the explosion at the base of the crater.

As well as higher moisture levels, this central vegetation patch has higher soil salinity and nitrate content. One of the consequences of the higher soil moisture content has been the production of a circular, darker patch within which more vegetation grows. So when viewed from above, the crater looks remarkably like a huge eye peering up at the sky.


The vast expanse of Wolfe Creek Crater. Flickr/Neeravbhatt

 

Wolfe Creek Crater’s future looks pretty secure. It has legislative protection in the form of Class A Reserve status in a National Park. Its isolation also affords it an added protection.

Fortunately the chances of the crater sitting on a huge resource of iron ore is remote. Virtually all would have been pulverised when this traveller from the asteroid belt made its violent contact with the Earth at a time when the only terrestrial inhabitants to have viewed the spectacle would have been a few bemused giant kangaroos and diprotodontids.

Next: Christmas Island. Read all the unknown wonders here.

 


Map of Wolfe Creek Crater Google Maps
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Road Trip: the Alaska Highway

Posted on May 18, 2013 | Comments Off on Road Trip: the Alaska Highway

Alaska Highway sign

The Alaska Highway across Canada’s British Columbia and Yukon is stunning, but even more memorable than the road trip itself are the people Anne Kostalas meets along the way

Alaska HighwayView larger picture

The Alaska Highway is 1,500 miles of open road through north-west Canada. Click the magnifying glass icon to see a bigger version. Photograph: Anne Kostalas

There is something about a highway through the wilderness that attracts eccentrics. The 1,500-mile Alaska Highway, which crosses British Columbia and the Yukon for most of its route, has its fair share. Even the construction of the road, which turned 70 last year, was anything but normal.

US soldiers were ordered to build the road – described as one of the greatest engineering feats in history – through unmapped territory. They endured extreme cold, mud and mosquito-infested forests. The highway, which joined the contiguous US with Alaska, was a response to the attack on Pearl Harbor. It enabled the Americans to transport planes to Russia to fight the Germans, via a chain of airfields and remote airports. Remarkably, it was built in just eight months, carved through rock and forest from Dawson Creek in BC to Delta Junction in Alaska, providing a wartime morale boost for the US.

Canada mapThe characters who live along the route are every bit as fascinating as the story of its construction. Marl Brown, the 80-year-old curator of theFort Nelson Heritage Museum in northern BC, sports a long white beard because, he says, he hates shaving. The former mechanic’s collection of vintage cars was the inspiration for the museum. His favourite is the 104-year-old McLaughlin Buick with its “mother-in-law seat” that can tip the rear passenger out the back.

At Double G Services near Muncho Lake, three hours west, truckers share road tales of bobcats, lynx and grizzlies. There are shelves of fresh bread and an Alaska licence plate with a picture of Sarah Palin, which reads: “Where the air is cold and the governor is hot!” They agree both caribou and tourists are stupid, and discuss the merits of a moose bumper.

More than 300,000 people drive the Alaska Highway every year between May and September and, as the last US frontier, it is on the to-do list of many Americans. There are bears, wild sheep, bison and moose to photograph, against a backdrop of increasingly spectacular mountains as you travel north and west.

At Liard Hot Springs RV Park on the eastern edge of BC, we had soaked in the waters with full-time RVers – people who have sold their homes in retirement and are on the move constantly.

“You have to really get on well with your partner to do this,” warns one.

Alaska Highway Sign, Dawson Creek. Photograph: Patrick Bennett/CorbisMany have their dogs along for the ride – yorkshire terriers and pomeranians are being exercised all along the highway.

A woman named Button (her mother loved the actor Red Buttons) oversees the Signpost Forest Visitor Centre at Watson Lake, over the border in the Yukon. In 1942, a lonely GI working on the highway started the tradition of leaving a sign pointing the way home. More than 70,000 signs have since been left here by travellers on the road.

Every road trip needs good snacks. Look out for cinnamon buns atTetsa River RV Park , west of Fort Nelson, and the Canadian favourite “butter tarts” at the Yukon’s Rancheria Lodge. The lodge has a long history of sheltering travellers from storms. It hosted 100 unexpected guests last year when the road was washed away in a flash flood. Stories from the 1940s tell of strangers having to sleep two to a bed.

Marl Brown at the Fort Nelson Heritage MuseumMarl Brown, curator at the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum Photograph: Anne KostalasThere is a quirkiness to road-stops here. At the Toad River Lodge in northern BC, you can eat a toad burger (which comes with a hot dog, too) under a ceiling covered in baseball caps, or drink a coffee while a stuffed wolverine watches over you at the Yukon Motel on Teslin Lake.

We spot a moose at Sikanni River RV Campground. Campsite owner Jackie says it is called Dandelion, and appears every summer. Soldiers from black regiments built a bridge in record time here, an achievement credited with helping end segregation in the US army.

John Rusyniak, who runs the Wilderness Lodge in Tok, Alaska, got a taste for the north when he rode his motorbike up the highway in the 1970s and moved there. Many have similar stories.

There is plenty to do along the way – fishing in holes, panning for gold at the MacBride Museum in Whitehorse, daring to walk the Pouce Coupe trestle bridge, the Alaska Highway House museum in Dawson Creek and the sausage rolls at Johnson’s Crossing Bakery – but it is the memory of people of the Alaska Highway that will stay with me.

 

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Great Drives – US Route 66

Posted on Mar 16, 2013 | Comments Off on Great Drives – US Route 66

US Route 66

Great Drives – US Route 66 is one of the worlds great touring highways, also known as the Will Rogers Highway and colloquially known as the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, was a one of the original highways within the U.S. Highway System. Established on November 11, 1926—with road signs erected the following year.  The highway, has become one of the most famous roads in America, It runs from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before ending at Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles, California, covering a total of 2,448 miles (3,940 km)  It is recognised in popular culture by both a hit song and the Route 66 television show in the 1960s.

US Route 66 has many quirky roadside attractions and iconic symbols of a gone-bye American era of automotive travel.  A lot of the towns have gone into decay as they were bypassed by more modern interstate freeways, but the romance lives on. Route66 trip site

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