Its in the small details: Orange River / Richtersveld

While paddling down the Orange River one was allowed to appreciate the vastness and expanse of the Richtersveld. However, when you manage to cast your eyes down to terra firma – there are little gems scattered around that are equally impressive.

This little prickly creature is less than 2cm tall.

“Sout slaai” (tr: salt salad)- Would go well with tequila

Its in the small detail – these flowers are about 0.5cm in diameter.

The most reactive non-metal on the periodic table – Flourine (cf earlier post on Fluorspar in the evening fire)

Home sweet home.

Evidence that there was a flurry of activity next to where i slept before waking up.

A lone inflorescence with a view

Next post is going to require some brushing up on my plate tectonic theory.


A (not so small) taste of what is to come

Brief intro:

I have moved out of the bush and back to Pietermaritzburg. For a weeks holiday I went to Cape Town before heading up to Namibia to paddle on the Orange River and through the Richtersveld. As there are 800 odd photos for me to edit and delete – here are a few to get things going:

Sea Point, Cape Town – before heading north.

En route up the West Coast

Sunset on the Orange River, Namibia.

First day paddling.

Hammerkop nest on the rock face.

Time to stop for lunch.

View for the afternoon while eating canapés and drinking wine.

Proof that a Cape Clawless Otter had been visiting us during the night.

Not all the water was flat,

nor was it slow flowing.

Fortunately no crocodiles or hippos when we ended up swimming.

Not a desolate dessert by any stretch of the imagination.

Some had to work harder than others.

Hunched shoulders and big eyes is a successful way to shoot a rapid.

Not a bad vista.

Last night on the river.

The evening campfire with Fluorspar (Calcium Fluoride) scattered on it.

More photos to follow at a later stage.


Karas, Namibia

After a breathtaking drive up from Paternoster to Vioolsdrif (north of Springbok) I arrived at the river which will be my home for the next week.

I will be taking an electronic sabbatical for the duration of my time on the Orange River and in the Richtersveld. My trusty steed (Camera) is exempt from that blanket decision. I suspect my camera and I are going to be worked extra hard.



Typed by my thumbs & sent via my BlackBerry.
Peter O’Farrell (BVSc MBBCh).
Mseleni, KZN, South Africa.

Departing from the Bush in a cloud of smoke.

So my year and a half in the bush is rapidly coming to a close. Within a weeks time I will have packed up the contents
of my chalet and be heading south. Between Scuba-diving gear; a kite-surf rig; my camping gear and of course my
mountain bike with associated gear – the packing will be required to be extra efficient.

As things stand at the moment I will be starting at Northdale Hospital as a medical officer in the orthopaedic department.
My accommodation is on a small holding in the centre of Pietermaritzburg.

The last few months have been a little more chaotic than usual. I decided to attempt writing exams again – so my spare
time was spent mostly pouring over anatomy and physiology books.

What follows is a brief pictorial description of my last few months in the bush. The time has been great. I will depart from
here with mixed feelings.

Waiting for sundowners in Hluhluwe Game Reserve (when staying at staff accommodation there are places one can
alight from ones vehicle that the general public doesn’t have access to).

A Buffalo crossing the river down below.

The morning view.

The view from my chalet (overlooking the runway that was the beginning of many adventures to distant clinics)

The Inglis’s on their return from six months traveling around southern Africa (

Doing a “rogain’ style adventure race in Karlkloof (using a map and compass to find various points in the shortest possible time).
We decided to call it quits after seven hours, we were not the last.

Friday afternoon surprise. Walking home we discovered the fruit of a strong wind and an maximum ambient temperature
of 40degC: a run-away bush fire.

Which spread rapidly torching houses instantly.

…including my neighbours house.

Paddling down the Pongola River. two days, 42km, stacks of birds. Great fun even though we ended up paddling 30km on the second day.

Sunset on the Pongola river.

Our guide, Menzi with a small Tiger fish.

A good camp fire is essential.

Sunrise in Ponta d’Ouro, Mozambique. The start to a rather eventful day which included an early morning work related drama
(people overdoing it the night before and then paying dearly) followed by good diving and relaxation.

Sundowners in Ponta Malangane, Mozambique.

This is me signing out from Northern KZN. Word of advice: If you haven’t visited this part of the world, you need to .


Lunar eclipse

So I am back studying and generally not feeling all that creative (mentally or with my camera).

At the end of May I completed my community service, Planning on staying on at Mseleni (northern KZN) while studying for my Surgical Primary exams before looking for a new job.

Here are some of the photos taken (while studying last night).





Day 9 – the sea.

Perspective, it has an ability to warp ones views on things.

Nine days ago a whole bunch of us (250 teams) set off from Heidelberg (outside Jo’burg) and headed towards Scottburgh (south of Durban). 122 teams finished.

It was a mountain biking fest. Incredible scenery and vistas. Uphill; downhill; single track; jeep track; forestry roads; district roads; contour paths down cliff faces. Some of the days were the toughest days of Mountain biking / racing / physically pushing myself that I can remember.

All came to an end today with a quick (less than four hours) cycle to the sea (75km). A distance that seems to be a mere warm up now. A distance that can be done with 1xbuckled front wheel (the result of a crash that somehow ended with my partner fracturing a rib – probably closely related to my front wheel).

Over the next few days to weeks I will edit the few photos I have taken and post them. I will endevour to get some of the official photos taken by Kelvin Trautman – a true master photographer. The images he managed to capture really do reflect what we have done, seen and gone through for the preceding nine days.
I may even try to distill some of my thoughts out into some vaguely eloquent writings. On second thoughts probably not. Enjoy the photos.


Typed by my thumbs & sent via my BlackBerry. Peter O’Farrell (BVSc MBBCh). Mseleni, KZN, South Africa.

Day 8

McKenzie club to Jolivet.

99km starting off on one side of the ‘Umko Valley’ (Umkomaas River Valley) descending on single track mostly on a cliff edge. That did limit the amount of time spent savouring the view in favour of staring straight ahead and concentrating on the track.

I have perfected the art of ‘tuck & roll’ (Kt) when dismounting my bike in a hurry. Unfortunately this resulted in me landing up in a thorn bush three times today.

I have also used up all my tubeless tyre plugs (Gunter – the ones you bought when we first converted to tubeless). We seemed to have escaped lightly in the mechanical / technical department. Today saw two fractured clavicles; one fractured hip and countless slashed tyres (the latter being from some of the shale that was to be found on the route).

One of the competitors has a small yellow warning sign on his back. “stupid should hurt”
That statement sums me up today. The initial part of the statement an indicator of my mental status and the latter part my physical well being.

Tomorrow is the final leg – 76km to Scottburough.


Typed by my thumbs & sent via my BlackBerry. Peter O’Farrell (BVSc MBBCh). Mseleni, KZN, South Africa.

Day 7

Underberg to McKenzie Club

One of the fellow cyclists described the way he was feeling as: “up and about” He then elaborated: “up to sh*t and about to die…”

To paraphrase the MC, anyone planning to emigrate should do the joBerg2c before leaving in order to see what they are leaving behind.
This trip has been and incredible fest of panoramas, vistas and touching the communities that the race passes through (from the schools which benefit from sponsorships as a result of being involved in the race villages to the local communities along the route).

Anyway – a misty start in the foothills of Giants Cup, first through poplar lined district roads followed by every combination of the following:
Pine and eucalyptus plantations, oak forests, jeep track, single track, downhill racing sections.
All meant a great days cycling even with one thornbush encounter and “T-boning a T-junction” due to my front brakes failing.

At 84km it was an easy day. In preparation for tomorrow which is the penultimate day and a hard climb.

Go to the joBerg2c website ( and look at the pictures that have been uploaded.

Typed by my thumbs & sent via my BlackBerry. Peter O’Farrell (BVSc MBBCh). Mseleni, KZN, South Africa.