Nicola Ann Art
Five-star Safari & Adventure At Motswari Geiger’s Camp
FROM ESWATINI BACK TO SOUTH AFRICA Resuming our Southern Africa adventure, we left Piggs Peak, Eswatini and explored as much off-road as possible before reaching the five-star safari experience Motswari Geiger’s Camp in the Timbavati and Umbabat Private Nature Reserve, South Africa in time for the afternoon and evening game drive. JUST THE TWO OF US We had the entire camp, a ranger and a tracker to ourselves, the only two booked in at the main reserve. A novelty, something neither of us had before experienced; as if deliberately arranged, but so happened by sensational chance.  MOTSWARI GIRAFFE’S NEST Straight after the afternoon game drive, the ranger dropped us off at Motswari Giraffe’s Nest, so that we could witness the dramatic sunset; well worth cutting the drive short. While enveloped by untamed wilderness, as far as the eye could wander, we spent our first night in a luxurious nest, high above the ground in a treetop overlooking Xanatsi Dam.  The chef had prepared our dinner and breakfast, with bowls of snacks and as many soft and alcoholic drinks as desired. Both the food and the drinks would last at least a few days.  STAY ALERT – DON’T GET HURT We […]
Southern Africa Adventure Memel-Zamani, South Africa to Bulembu, Eswatini
While exploring off-road through the Free State we stumbled upon Memel.  Memel-Zamani now being the official name in recognition of the Zamani township – a settlement adjoining Memel to the west in which several thousand black Africans reside. During the apartheid era, Zamani was separated from Memel by a golf course which acted as a buffer between the two, now however the golf course no longer exists, houses have been built on it and the buffer zone has disappeared. The town and township are now adjacent in one small location.  We paid R20 each to visit a tiny museum housing several display cases with artefacts from the Great Trek. Everything else, except a convenience store, was closed, including the hotel on the main street and an art gallery. A ghost town with a few people scattered around.  Please Note: For copyright purposes, I have considerably reduced the resolution of each image below. Bulembu, Eswatini From Memel-Zamani, we meandered through Piggs Peak reaching Maguga Lodge in Eswatini just after sunset.  Last year we drove through the derelict Havelock Mine in Bulembu, Eswatini, without stopping. This year we made a point of returning, ensuring time was on our side to explore another ghost town, which is now […]
Another Daring Off-road Adventure through Southern Africa
SOUTH AFRICA, LESOTHO, MOZAMBIQUE AND SWAZILAND INDESTRUCTIBLE TOYOTA LAND CRUISER 79 FOR HIRE This time around we added a fourth country to our Southern African feat. Lesotho. Instead of using my 4×4 as we did last year, we hired a Toyota Land Cruiser 79 from A robust and exceptional fully equipped self-contained 4×4 camper that exceeded our expectations. Except for one minor incident that occurred while on tar cruising through Lesotho.  DURBAN THE BEST PLACE TO START Our adventure started in sweltering hot Durban, and what should have taken just over 3 hours took us almost 5 hours while driving off-road via Richmond. Through townships and lush KwaZulu-Natal hills and valleys that most people would advise against facing. I know… “Never throw caution to the wind. It could whip back into your eyes and blind you.” SANI PASS NOT YET TARRED We thought this may be the last time we get to experience Sani Pass as its authentic self, with a series of hairpins, twists, dongas, drops and picture-perfect scenery. Sadly, it’s soon going to be all tar from the ruins of the Good Hope trading store to the Lesotho border post. I’ve driven it a few times so had to […]
BELLA ROSE, OYSTER 545, UP FOR SAIL, AN INDELIBLY SENSATIONAL SAILING ADVENTURE FROM MALTA TO SICILY TO THE GREEK ISLANDS TO ALBANIA TO MONTENEGRO TO CROATIA TO VENICE. SUMMER OF 2019. Part 5: SAILING FROM CROATIA TO VENICE We sailed to 13 islands/towns in Croatia –– Cavtat, Dubrovnic, Sanj, Mljet, Lastovo, Hvar, Primosten, Skradin, Kornati Bay, uvala Balvanida, Pula and Rovinj –– before the overnight venture to Venice. Something I had always longed to do was sail up and down the canal in Venice alongside Piazza San Marco, up to the entrance of The Grand Canal. Such magnificence! The last time I’d visited Venice was in 2003, a completely different experience arriving by plane than by yacht, as though a first time visiting the city this time almost 20 years later. We spent a couple of days exploring Venice and the islands before shutting Bella Rose away for the winter. Perhaps we’ll return to her early next year for a skiing adventure over the Dolomites before the summer sailing in 2020. Photography taken in Croatia Photography taken in Venice
BELLA ROSE, OYSTER 545, UP FOR SAIL, AN INDELIBLY SENSATIONAL SAILING ADVENTURE FROM MALTA TO SICILY TO THE GREEK ISLANDS TO ALBANIA TO MONTENEGRO TO CROATIA TO VENICE. SUMMER OF 2019. Part 4: SAILING FROM ALBANIA TO MONTENEGRO Batten down the hatches! A stunning night engulfed my being upon departing Albania for Montenegro; a band of fiery orange exploded along the horizon, beneath a sparkling indigo sky. What a farewell to an enthralling adventure in Albania. Further excitement ensued the moment we dropped anchor at a bay just outside The Bay of Kotor. The police by RIB descended upon us like a honey badger on a swarming beehive. I’d prefer not to refer to the word ‘arrested’… So… with great theatrics, the police escorted us to the nearest customs office.   The responsibility fell completely on us, of course. We attempted to push the boundaries but got caught. The consequences dealt by draconian hand!  Indeed, I shall share further in the article to be published by the sailing magazine. Please Note: For copyright purposes I have considerably reduced the resolution of each image below.
PART 3: The Greek Islands to Albania | BELLA ROSE, OYSTER 545, UP FOR SAIL | SUMMER of 2019
BELLA ROSE, OYSTER 545, UP FOR SAIL, AN INDELIBLY SENSATIONAL SAILING ADVENTURE FROM MALTA TO SICILY TO THE GREEK ISLANDS TO ALBANIA TO MONTENEGRO TO CROATIA TO VENICE. SUMMER 2019.  Splice the mainsail! Part 3: SAILING FROM THE GREEK ISLANDS TO ALBANIA Albania… Yes, Albania! A surprise indeed. Let’s sail to Albania, Captain! Albania? You heard correctly! Okay! Really? Yes, you too heard correctly…   I know what! Let’s do the other thing we do best… Remind me, Captain said nudging gently. Trail… Of course, Sail & Trail.  We attempted to hire a 4×4; however, ended up with a Fiat Panda. We can’t take this off-road, or can we? Of course we can, but we’ll keep it to ourselves. Well, let’s just say the Panda made it. We almost didn’t and turned back a few times, for dongas the size of the Fish River Canyon and sheer drops along single tracks as high at the Rockies caused a few near-death experiences. Fffff… Formidable! For at least 100 kilometres, we took on rugged terrain. Brave or plain… irresponsible? I really prefer not to judge!
Bella Rose, Oyster 545, Up For Sail, an indelibly sensational sailing adventure from Malta to Sicily to the Greek Islands to Albania to Montenegro to Croatia to Venice. Summer 2019. Shiver me timbers! PART 2: SAILING FROM SICILY TO THE GREEK ISLANDS  First stop, Zakynthos. A Greek Island in the Ionian Sea. Navagio beach, aka Shipwreck beach, brings in more tourists, accessed by boat only, than any other tourist attraction in Greece, including Athens.  Second, third, etc., stops included: Kefalonia, Poros, Sami, Kisaka, Kioni, Lefkados, Antipaxos, Paxos, Corfu and Erikoussa. However, they are going to have to wait until magazine publication… I know! A killer! The rest of the words in images… Feel the sounds, smells, throbbing heat and rejuvenating tranquillity…
Jul 08
Bella Rose, Oyster 545, Up For Sail, an indelibly sensational sailing adventure from Malta to Sicily to the Greek Islands to Albania to Montenegro to Croatia to Venice. Summer 2019. All aboard! Part 1: Malta to Sicily Whilst relishing writing the magazine articles reflecting my latest sailing adventures, resistance suddenly turned futile… How do I wait for them to be published…? “…Sail away with me honeyI put my heart in your handsSail away with me honey now, now, now…” Again, the futility of resistance when it came to the decadent gelato brioche sandwich smothered in fluffy cream. A very delicious reason for the overnight sail from Malta to Siracusa, Sicily. The evidence will be revealed in the published article… Watch this space… The images below portray the journey from Malta to Siracusa. Words? Are they really necessary?
Jun 11
SAILING SAFARI TO AFRICA West and east are the usual directions sailors turn in the Mediterranean but Nicola Beykirch bucked the trend and headed south instead, to Tunisia Words & Photography By NICOLA BEYKIRCH Published  By SAILING TODAY Following on from our trip across the Mediterranean in Bella Rose, an Oyster 545, Captain Barry and myself had left her in Malta (see ST 264). The next leg of the trip was to head to Africa. We couldn’t wait to get the shopping done and the yacht prepared to start our next exploration. For a few hours after leaving Malta, the sea appeared a dirty green, more green than blue. the further we sailed away from the island, the more the sea turned a radiant cobalt blue. The next day was a full day at sea, and with 1m choppy swells, I couldn’t shake the seasickness. despite using a patch, wristbands and taking tablets, I still felt constant nausea…
Tower Bridge opens up for the new “Pocket Superyacht” Oyster 565
A thrilling experience to behold, from the top of Tower Bridge on Thursday evening when Oyster launched their new “pocket superyacht”, the evolutionary Oyster 565.   Through the dramatic glass floor across the high-level walkways, 42 metres above the River Thames, the bridge below the glass opened and the new Oyster 565 smoothly sailed beneath our feet, after tacking up the river into the wind. Everyone oohing and ahhing with delight; champagne glasses clinking.  Chief Executive and Owner Richard Hadida passionately added: “Words cannot describe the excitement I feel to see Oyster enter such an exhilarating phase in its evolution. The 565, fondly known as our “pocket superyacht” is everything an adventurous couple or young family could want.” The Boat International Article here.  
Purification Ritual Durban Beach
My eyes and ears were attracted by the glee two hundred church worshippers clearly experienced on the beach, involved in prayer and baptising ritual.  Adorned in white uniforms, blue and green sashes, people were dunked into the waves, held under for a few seconds and came up gasping and chanting in an unrecognisable African language.  Some women were veiled, in the background, singing and dancing. Holy staffs with flags dug into the sand around groups of people.  In the middle of the action, yellow and white plastic containers were being topped up with sea water and sand, waiting to be taken home after the baptismal and healing ritual. I kept my distance, mesmerised by the simpleness of it all. The joy and rapture each person in the group experienced, from young children enjoying the shoreline and the elderly, the ‘ikhehlas‘ and ‘ugogos‘ relishing the purification ritual. 
London’s Free-for-All Brick Canvas at Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel
Overhearing a couple animatedly talking about the best graffiti they’d ever seen near Waterloo, I had to find Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel for myself. Rough and ready, the tunnel sparkled with colour. Artists bending over their cans and preparing themselves for their next masterpiece. A queue of boldly dressed people patiently waited to enter The Vaults, a place that offers everything to those that dare. Once I’d immersed myself in the vibrancy of the art, people and atmosphere I headed the way I came in and noticed two teenage girls playing with hula hoops. Approaching them, I asked if they were practising for a show. “We’re going to be putting on a show, firing up our hoops. Have a butchers,” the one encouraged. With my camera perfectly poised, I eagerly awaited their fire dance… I had no idea Banksy launched Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel to fame in May 2008 with an exhibition called The Cans Festival. With a comical play on The Cannes Film Festival, Banksy invited international street artists to adorn the blanks along Leake Street tunnel with their signature art, as explained further by Leake Street Arches here.
Sailing Today Magazine Hot Off The Press
A Med-Time Story Majorca To Malta: Island Hopping On A Grand Scale By Nicola Beykirch Published  By Sailing Today Almost a year had passed before stepping back on the deck of Bella Rose, our year old Oyster 545. Berthed at Palma, Majorca for the winter, we couldn’t wait to throw off the bowlines, once again crisscrossing the Mediterranean…
Amakhosi Safari Lodge KwaZulu-Natal South Africa
This time, our adventure through Swaziland, as much off-road as on-road, prevented us from making the evening game drive at Amakhosi Safari Lodge, northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.   With hunger at bay, three trips to the waffle station at The Royal Swazi Spa Hotel near Mbabane, Swaziland later, we thought we’d given ourselves enough time to explore off-road and make the game drive.   Speaking of Swaziland, or now known as The Royal Kingdom of Eswatini, I ponder whether they’ll change their flag, as South Africa did…   After checking Google Maps (yes, as mentioned before, not always a good idea), we decided to head for the 4×4 only dirt tracks from Nhlangano through to Mhlosheni in Swaziland, straight through the Swaziland / South African border post as shown on Google and then onto the N2 freeway towards Pongola. Around thirty kilometres later we’d then arrive at the private game reserve, Amakhosi Safari Lodge, just in time for the sundowners in the heart of the African bushveld.   U-Turn Well, Google maps indicated a border post that did not exist, which was supposed to lead straight onto the N2 freeway about twenty kilometres outside of Pongola. A camouflage army tent […]