The Republic of South Africa
December 31, 2007
Hello one and all – finally I am back home in Durban where night has fallen and we are a mere 2 1/2-hours away from 2008! Lesotho was simply amazing in every way, shape, size and form . . . I wish that you could experience that which I have just enjoyed.
I have learned so much and so many valuable lessons from the Basotho people and as this year draws rapidly to a close, these lessons will become my pillar of strength in the new year.
Today was another very early start with and long and winding roads ahead of us endlessly traversing the rugged but aesthetically pleasing Lesotho countryside. More often than not whilst we were with in the Kingdom, I got out of the vehicle and walked alongside it taking photographs of Allen carefully negotiating the road conditions to ensure that we were safe at all times.
We came across a remote village. From a distance a thick column of smoke brought us to believe that someone’s house was on fire. I felt desperate – imagine your home burning to the ground on the last day of the year . . . seemed to make my trials and tribulations of the past year diminish in size. As we approached the village and the homestead the ever familiar ‘Sweeeeeeets’ from the kids along the roads pealed out and once at the homestead, we asked the villagers what was happening. Smiling, they told us that they were brewing home made beer for the New Year. Another WOW – imagine the punch from that brew I thought. Hey – what ever – it’s new year right and when you have nothing else at your disposal, I suppose a little rot gut would be harmless and indeed a fun way to celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of another! Just as long as they all don’t go up in smoke.
We challenged the road clinging to a mountain pass overlooking rivers and valleys as we descended into the valley. Then, looking up, I saw yet another long and winding road and Allen smilingly told me that that was OUR road . . . the trip up Rama Pass would put us at a very high vantage point which when we ultimately reached that point, we were standing on a very narrow saddle in very cool conditions due to the altitude with breathtaking vistas on either side of us. I have never seen such rugged untamed beauty in my life and the site will remain with me for ever. I have once more taken many photographs and they will be launched when I return to the US. I do hope that you will enjoy the experience through my lens.
There was a very uneventful border crossing out of the Kingdom and back into the Republic of South Africa and a long dusty road back to Underberg and Himeville where I had left my rental car.
The entire journey was one breathtaking moment after another and the finest way to end the year.
Saying goodbye to 2007, I cannot help but reflect back at the year just passed. I celebrated my 50th birthday which sadly was spoiled by the evil intent of another. I find it very sad when people have all the time in the world to waste trying to ruin someone else. Isn’t that pathetic? Imagine if we all used our energy in a positive way to enhance each other on this journey – wouldn’t the world be a gentler and kinder place – like where I have just been? Will we ever learn that that which we sew we ultimately reap . . . sew ill will on another and it is going to come back to you in some form or another. But that’s for people to discover themselves I guess.
We said goodbye to our CEO Michael Kerneklian who has retired from the travel industry to seek greener pastures. We wish him well in his future endeavors.
Dominik Zakrzewski has accepted the position of Director of Operations and will oversee the entire operation managing all of the Collections but specializing in East Africa and the wonderful product that we have in position there.
Joining us in early 2008 will be Eric Ord who will head up the Southern Africa Collection. Native to Zimbabwe, Eric was born and raised in Hwange and the Victoria Falls area before his family settled in East London which is my birthplace. In fact, Eric even attended Selbourne College which is where my late father went to school. He went on to explore the sub-Continent in depth and comes to us with a wealth of personal knowledge and experience. We look forward to Eric joining the growing team.
Another new addition is Alassane Coulibaly who will head up our West Africa Collection. This is especially exciting for us because Alassane is native to Mali and knows the region and all of its magnificent nuances intimately. Alassane will be at hand to assist you with exploring the western portion of the Continent and in collaboration with Eric, Alassane will resuscitate the Dakar stop-over in conjunction with South African Airways’ nightly service to Johannesburg from both JFK and Washington Dulles. We’re equally delighted to have Alassane on board and look forward to sharing his wealth of personal knowledge with you.
With much delight I have appointed Rebecca Ngotoane as our on-site Operations Coordinator in Johannesburg. Rebecca and I go way back spanning a friendship of almost 25-years. Effective April 01st, Rebecca will be our liaison person on the ground in our own suite of offices in Johannesburg from where she and her team will monitor all movement of our valued passengers across the Continent. It gives me a great thrill to welcome Rebecca back to the team – we worked together back in the day when I owned and operated The Travel Consultant in Pretoria. On April 01, Dominik, Rebecca and I will cut the ribbon in celebration of the new office in Johannesburg and of course, we will keep you informed every step of the way.
We’re equally delighted to have long time associate Ed Ewert working alongside us this coming year. Ed was a former passenger turned Africa Fundi and will be heading up our photographic safari to Zambia in November – be sure and review our Zambia Collection where you will find a link to Ed’ site where you can view his masterpiece photography at leisure – perhaps you’d like to join Ed’s Photographic Safari which promises to be most informative and enjoyable. Soon, Ed will start blogging the progress and let you know the inside details via THE ‘KH’ LIST!
That wraps up the new appointments for the time being but be sure that there are more developments on the drawing board that will surprise you as I announce them.
To my past team, my current team and my growing team, may I extend my personal warmest wishes for a wonderful 2008? Thank you for unending tolerance and understanding as we evolved through project metamorphosis, changed the entire look of our website and the masterful hand of Joe Ruoto our IT Manager, and as we stand on the threshold of a new year, my sincere thanks to all of you who have traveled to Africa with the ORIGINAL 2AFRIKA. So many fools have tried to clone our business model and failed . . . I think that they ought to spell clone clown! That of course my personal opinion – each to his own!
I wish you well, joy, happiness and peace throughout 2008 and remind you that is Africa is on your radar in ’08, talk to us, the ORIGINAL 2AFRIKA, INC established in 1994!
As always, my warmest African wishes to you from Sunny South Africa where there are only 3 hours left to 2008.
Good night and Happy New Year!
Kenneth R. Hieber
P.S. – I am off on safari on Jan 02 for 4 nights . . . I will indeed try my utmost to Blog the journey as it proceeds but if not, look for a slur of day-to-day Blogs when I return to Durban and before I travel to Johannesburg where I will meet with Rebecca and familiarize myself with the area once more. Many stories coming up before I return to what I believe is a cold and snowy New York City – and pay particular attention to my Blog on January 02 regarding the barn swallows of Mount Moreland.
For further information on this Safari or any other Safari in the ORIGINAL 2AFRIKA Collection, visit us on the web at http://www.2afrika.com/
The ORIGINAL 2AFRIKA, INC. remains committed to Corporate Social Responsibility in Tourism.
If you would like to comment on this Blog Post, please communicate directly with the ORIGINAL 2AFRIKA Founder & President, Kenneth R. Hieber, electronically via firstname.lastname@example.org