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December news and greetings 2011

2011 has been a year which has provided a combination of super tours and new discoveries. We have met some interesting people and reinforced old friendships. We have experienced some real personal challenges. Outeniqua Adventure Tours, is still here, still operating, and we are as keen as ever to show off our lovely part of the world. The tours that we have put together and completed have been fabulous. We started the year with a very novice cycle group, (actually old school friends), who had heard about us, through the grapevine, and decided try a cycle safari in the Karoo! None of them had done anything like a five day cycle before, (although there were a few running and canoeing marathons among the group). They all found that it was an amazing experience, and that this was just another way to enjoy seeing the country. The Little Karoo as always, worked its charm, the quiet and lonely roads are always appealing to those accustomed to the crowded bustle and busy roads of a city environment.

Our spring tours were quite spectacular this year. Winter rains at regular intervals, in most of the Western and Northern Cape, produced flower displays in the veld which are seldom seen in such profusion. We had an extremely successful trip with a group of inspiring women, visiting the SAA Observatory at Sutherland. Wow! It was suitably cold (by SA standards) and what was a highlight for all of us, was an amazingly clear view of Saturn, with rings and moons easily visible through the large telescopes. It was a very clear night and we were fortunate in having an excellent guide who was able to show us many interesting features in the night sky. We travelled on to Namaqualand, and, there again, we were treated to a wonderful display of spring flowers. Unfortunately, the rain that was keeping the flowers going, quite spoiled our plans, as we were unable to reach our special destination, the Tankwa Karoo National Park, a particularly desolate, but starkly beautiful, part of the Western/Northern Cape. Our intrepid driver (Dave) was not about to get stuck on any muddy roads with a group of women! A quick (which turned out not to be so quick!) detour to Prince Albert was decided on, always a happy alternative. As it happened, our return to George was again disrupted, this time by a massive rockfall on the Outeniqua Pass, outside George, resulting in an extra 300kms to get home!

Our annual Seniors’ trip was again most successful. This time we chose a combination of flowers and whales and, as something new, an excursion to the West Coast Fossil Park. Quite an amazing collection of huge fossils are here on display, with very competent and informative guides telling us about, and showing, the amazing evidence of life in our province, millions of years ago. The annual Tour de Griff, held as always in early October, was fabulous. We found somewhere rather special to take the group this year, and cannot wait to re-visit this destination. A luxury lodge, Bosch Luys Kloof Private Nature Reserve, tucked away in the Swartberg, near the spectacular Seweweekspoort, with scenery and hospitality that was breathtaking. (as was the cycle up out of the valley!) We are indeed privileged to be able to share these places with so many special people. Personally, this year has had many highlights.

Dave and I completed yet another Argus (both proudly wearing our 21Club shirts). We were not particularly well trained, but the weather was kind and we had a really enjoyable ride. For a change, we stopped frequently along the route, even stopping for photos at the top of Chappies! I had some fairly extensive surgery to my troublesome foot, and after lots of rest and rehab, (Dave doing all of the housework), I am mobile, pain free, and getting back into shape. Huge thanks to the Dr and all the angels who made this possible. More Griffiths highlights : we had a fabulous holiday in Botswana with Helen and Andrew. Never having been there, we were enthralled by the magnificence of the country, the game, the birds, the hospitality, everything. Not having been camping in the bush quite like this before, it was a huge adventure. A bathroom break in the middle of the night takes on a whole new dimension! For Dave, the driving on sandy roads was great fun, evoking memories of many past fishing expeditions on sandy KZN beaches. Another highlight, for us, was the return to South Africa, from the UK, of our daughter Geraldine, husband James and their two children. What an unexpected delight to have our family all in the same country again. 2012 is already looking more promising. What we have seen, and decided on, is that with the dearth of the more casual overseas visitors, we need to focus more on our South African market, to encourage them and to help them to explore and enjoy the wonder that is all around us. We have, with a local expert, developed an interesting trip, tracing Boer war commandos in the southern parts of our country. We have not as yet had much response, but we are ever hopeful. Our pre-Argus cycle tour is back on track for next year, with some regulars, and some promising newcomers from the USA. Our sincere thanks to all for the friendship and support which has made this year, although not an easy one, as memorable as ever. We wish you all safe and happy holidays and a blessed and exciting 2012.

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