The Swansong of Quo Vadis and How the Other Half Lives

While the hiking function of Quo Vadis might have terminated with a whimper, the game viewing segment of our “hike” bore testimony to both Malcolm’s generosity as well as the capacity of the German contingent to once again  drink themselves into a stupor. For them, the wealth of game was a distraction.

But as Julie Andrews would sing in the Sound of Music, “Let’s start at the very beginning”.

Main picture: Malcolm’s shack in the Olifant’s North Game Reserve

On the Saturday morning the hike commenced with the members challenging conventions by refusing to commence the hike. Their objection – a smattering of rain drops – intimidated them. Even the most resolute ultimately succumbed to this mortal foe. None would show their mettle. With my nod of (dis)approval, we trooped off to sunnier climes: Malcolm’s magical bush veldt home.

Quo Vadis members braaing at Woodbush

En route we stopped off at Tzaneen with Arnold & I shopping for a week’s worth of groceries and the Germans shopping for two weeks’ worth of booze. Even with Malcolm’s plaintive pleas still ringing in their ears, that he was already overstocked in the booze department, they could not desist from destocking the liquor store.   

Malcolm’s mansion is located on a private game reserve called the Olifant’s North Game Reserve – so-called to distinguish it from the Olifant’s South Game Reserve – where Janine has her mansion. Apparently as they could not mutually agree on whether it should be a 10-star mansion or a bush cottage, each has their own. It is accessed through a 1930s era farming
area called Griekie for indigent white farmers. All of these game reserves abutting the Kruger no longer have any fencing. Consequentially game can now wander through the private reserves from the Kruger National Park.

Lions on ONGR

Malcolm’s residence is “hidden” on a ridge line. It comprises four wings, two with two bedrooms apiece. The main wing – the living area – comprises a kitchen, lounge and dining room. Clearly no cost was spared in its construction. It is a far cry from the usual hiking huts to which we are accustomed. But it came with unwelcome news, the myriad instructions, the do’s and don’ts all at the behest of Janine, or so Malcolm alleged. Wasn’t Malcolm aware that we were a bunch of slobs with a total disregard for norms and conventions?

This only cast a temporary pall over the Germans as they had more pressing matters at hand like getting stuck into the booze. A bruising battle then ensued for control of the cooking. With the Germans more concerned with getting as much grog down their throats as possible and both Malcolm and I deferring to Arnold it was ever generous Mr. Paikin who gratuitously accepting the title as Cooking CEO.

Before commencing the meal , we had to endure a lecture on the decorum and etiquette of eating. Each was handed their own personalised serviette ring as well as own serviette to be used for the duration of the stay. Eating meat with one’s hands was declared verboten  as apparently only the starving untermenschen may do so. Well I was starving but obviously not starving enough to relax the rules but my eating style or lack therefore did allow me to be accorded the designation as ein schwein.

As regards the cooking, Peter will have to up his game otherwise we will have to employ Paikin as the resident chef in future. This exalted position on his Linked-In CV will enable him to attain even more magical hights in his evolving career.

Game was plentiful with elephants, giraffes and zebras in abundance. Lions had their very own cafeterias well-stocked with tender young impalas. Many of the days were overcast and cool which for me was more reminiscent of Port Elizabeth during the 1960s and 70s than the Lowveld in summer.

On the Wednesday, we attended a nature walk. James, our guide, introduced us to the Lowveld’s fauna and flora. The most unusual was the tree dwelling toad, with their white nests in the branches and the velvet mites. For those of you who log their hiking mileage, I suggest that this three-hour excursion be claimed. Otherwise how do you justify it your wife. In retrospect, it was probably sensible that we did not hike Magoebaskloof as the complaints of aching muscles after a 3-kilometre 3-hour walk bears testimony to our unfitness and progressing years.   

Amongst the impala 2-month old snacks were some larger meals such as these

With most of the Club’s members now spread over the world, having the ilk of Arnold and Kurt or Malcolm and Clive for that matter, on the same hike in future, is highly unlikely. So it was on a fitting note that Quo Vadis closes a chapter in our lives.

Au revoir, auf wiedersehen, see ya
Quo Vadis 1989 to 2020
Quo Vadis members sheltering from the rain at a hide overlooking the Olifant’s River
Difficult hill climb up the 3 steps
Breakfast prepared by Arnold after an arduous morning game drive

Lost in the Mists at Magoebaskloof

Tempis fugit. Time flies.

This trail has been the entrée of many a person into hiking. So it was with Malcolm Royal about 20 years ago and his fellow Outbound Adventure Mate, Peter Glover, five years ago. In the case of the latter, it was contemporaneous with a decline in hiking standards within the Quo Vadis Hiking Club. Whether Peter was instrumental in this decline in refusing to adhere to hiking norms such as carrying a hiking pack or whether he merely epitomised the general lowering of standards as the members of the Club reached old age, I am not sure. Whatever the reason, we have now set the bar so low that hiking is optional. So it was this weekend.

Main picture: One of the numerous bridges on the Magoebaskloof Hike

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Quo Vadis: NDE, LBJs & other TLAs

With Quo Vadis’ resident chef not being in attendance on the Barrett’s Coaches Hike at Kaapsehoop, I expected some twittering in the ranks about the attendees’ inability to prepare food. Little did I expect that a member of long standing, and generally not given to being ill-disciplined, would sink to a new level of incompetence: he forgot his food altogether.

The generous members of Quo Vadis stepped into the breach and offered their own food to a Comrade in order to prevent him from contracting anorexia.

This was but one of the numerous incidents which beset the hike to Barrett’s Coaches on the Kaapschehoop Trail in August 2018.

Main picture: Rob & Dean in front of one of the many huge rocks littering the area

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Lesoba Hike June 2018: A Series of Firsts for the Quo Vadis Hiking Club

From the swansong of Arnold Paikin to the debut swan dive of Clive Cameron, it was a weekend of high drama as norms, precedents and etiquette were summarily ignored and cast aside. It was an object lesson of how to let one’s hair down and to hell with precedent and regulations. The only redeeming feature was that everybody enjoyed themselves without killing themselves in the process.

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Report back on the Suikerboschfontein Hike in October 2016

The simple hiking hut eponymously called Oom Japie se Huis was probably originally the living quarters of one of Dr Okie van Niekerk’s ancestors, all of whom have resided on this huge plot since 1911. 

It overlooks various streams that ultimately flow into the Komati River. Being on the escarpment, it is more Highveld than Lowveld. At this time of the year, the brown grassland is crying out in its anguished thirst, tortured by the expectation of the imminent summer rains.

Main picture: Huts among the sandstone rocks at Rooikrans Camp

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The Num-Num Trail in June 2016

The Num-Num Trail is located in the Skurweberge between Machadodorp and Badplaas. There are a number of trails on this site and one is theoretically able to start at any point on the trail. Our usual starting point is the Pongola Express which comprises an actual train’s dining car together with a carriage. On this occasion Saturday’s hut was Candlewood with its panoramic view of the full drop of the Uitkomst falls.

Main picture: How the The Pongola Express managed to take a wrong turning and end up in the Skurweberge, I will never know 

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The Fish River Canyon Hike: August 2006

As 2016 will be the 10th anniversary of this hike which from a personal perspective was noteworthy in that I hurt my back so badly on the descent on day one that it ultimately culminated in my 2nd back operation a few months later. As a commemoration, I have elected to reprint / re-issue the two blogs on this hike as one blog: The Report Back and the irreverent – or maybe that should read irrelevant – awards. Of the 9 of us who completed this hike, Walter Baumgartl has since passed on, long before his allotted time.

 Main picture: Fish River Canyon – Viewpoint at the Start. Naturally the only way down, is down Continue reading

Report back on the Giant’s Cup Hike – October 2015

The die has been cast. Age and lack of ability cannot be reversed. We will have to accept that Quo Vadis is an ex-hiking club; it is no more. This does not imply that the Club is extinct like the Dodo but rather that its modus operandi will have to accord with the new realities.

Thinking back on the days when Mike Brown, Kurt Radzom, Mick Crabtree and I were hiking together 25 years ago, it is unbelievable that the Quo Vadis Hiking Club would ultimately be transmogrified into the genteel Quo Vadis Slack Packing Club. Continue reading