Learning Field Guiding in Southern Africa

Hi!

I have been spending the last 2 and half months living in the bush between Selati and Karongwe game reserve in Southern Africa, within the Limpopo province.

I am currently studying my FGASA level 1 with Ecotraining

We have been working on Tracking, Navigation, Survival, 4×4 Drives and learning loads about Mammals, Big 5, Insects, Trees and much more!

I was very privileged to encounter a Cheetah on foot, and here are some pictures that I would love to share with you.

Ecotraining is an awesome training provider, and the quality of training is superb, everyday, we go on drives and walks. This week, we have ben walking in the bush with a rifle for 4 hours in the morning and 4 hours in the afternoon, carrying a rifle as well, to learn rifle handling techniques and safety.

Typical day is:

  • Wake up at 4am
  • Coffee and a rusk
  • 5am Walk
  • 10:30am Breakfast
  • Theory
  • Exercise (Gay Time Gym)
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon walk/drive
  • Campfire and chilling
  • Get lucky with elephants next to your tent at night!

It can be very easy to over eat in the bush and exercise is a must. I started a gym group called Gay Time gym, where we do Yoga, sit-ups, pushups and many other core exercises. We also play ultimate Frisbee to keep fit as a fiddle!

It is awesome taking time out to live a simple and rewarding life style out in the bush.

I have produced a Game called Ranger Rom. You can download it for Tablet and Phone on both Android and Apple. Please download and have a play, it will teach you about wildlife.

Google Play

Apple Store

I will be off to Botswana for December, and hope to get some awesome experiences out there. Until then, Succulent Karoo!

selati

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Off to Africa – a life long dream

Hi Everyone!

It has been a while since I last posted any cool technical articles and so on. Well I am off to Africa!

I was surfing in Indonesia in April this year and that is when the penny dropped for me.

Romiko surfing indonesia

I realised that:

We make a Living
by what we Get
We make a Life
by what we Give

This was my answer. I realised that, I need to follow my passions, and it is possible to work and live life, in harmony!

This is where Ranger Rom was born.

Romiko thinking about Ranger Rom

I love technology. I take pride in the work that I believe in. Ranger Rom is proof of this. It uses state of the art technology from Amazon EC2, S3, CloudFront, Ruby On Rails, ImageMagick, Jekyll and all sort of cool stuff that could take 10 blogs to write on, seriously! Since working on Ranger Rom, I enjoy developing products, because it enriches peoples lives, but most of all, it’s fun.

I realised that I had a choice in life, and now is the time for change. Now is the time to step out from the sheep, pull the wool over the eyes of the wolf; and make a stab at something new and creative.

I might fail, I might fall hard, but at least I will have no regrets when I am 113 years of age, sitting on my bed, going – I wish I did that when I was young.

I encourage you all to live simple, keep the luxuries in life low. A lower carbon footprint and more money to go travel. You do not need to work 9 to 5, year in and year out. You can make a CHANGE and still WORK. You can do the same job but only for half the year, instead of the entire year. There is a will, there is a way!

But this has now changed, and I encourage you all to follow my New Adventures, but more important to follow your dreams and your heart. Today I have posted the first chapter, and yes, it is based on a true story. I am going to the bush for a long time. In between breaks, I will be doing crazy things to, like Paragliding from Mozambique to Madagascar and surfing enormous waves. However, my primary goal is to give back to nature. There will be breaks in between, to earn an income, but ultimately my goals is a balance between my career and what I do outside of it. I believe I can do both a 50/50 split.

Below is Ranger Rom’s first news report to read, so please feel free to join the world of Ranger Rom!

Ranger Rom – Off to Africa

Romiko and Ranger Rom in nature

Ranger Rom is all about promoting wildlife awareness by creating cool games for kids and adults to play. Scheduled for release on the IPhone and Android at the end of this month! IPad and Tablets will soon follow over the next couple of months.

First Cross Country milestone–Paragliding

It was Friday afternoon and Jamal and I checked out the charts for the weather and the conditions were looking good! We headed off to Manilla Paragliding in NSW at 4am on Saturday. I have been itching to fly after only being back at work for 3 days, all I can think of is to fly!

I took off form Mount Borah West and the wind was strong, whilst soaring the ridge I got parked and felt very uncomfortable, used a little speed bar to get out ahead and then did some figure of eights to gain height and turn and burn over the mountain to avoid rotor winds and turbulence on the lee side of the mountain.

Once I got over the mountain, it was all about looking at the ground for some trigger points where thermals would be released.

When I finally could see Barraba, it dawned on me that I have made my first real cross country flight and the feeling I had inside was fantastic, it is hard to describe, perhaps some form of euphoria!

I met some awesome pilots and some crazy pilots whilst away on the Christmas season, and learnt as much as I can about the art of flying, there is so much to learn and I am looking forward to learning as much as I can.

Paragliding has opened up a new avenue where you can be at the mercy of natures wrath and meet amazing people who are just as crazy!

Here is the flight path and data, just like life, it has it’s up’s and downs! Sunday, was not as great, but still a lovely flight, the conditions were very thermic on Sunday and stable, bombed out in the north west and had a long walk back for 4 hours in 45 degree heat, lesson learned? Carry lots of water and have a back up plan if you need a pick up!

Barogram

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Data

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Map

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Well, that’s it, if you would like to try out something new and exciting and challenge yourself mentally, then Paragliding is definitely worth a try!

Manilla Paragliding

I would highly recommend going to Manilla Paragliding, cool people and an awesome teacher. Check out http://www.flymanilla.com/

Into the sun

Cheers

Papua New Guinea, Boiling Point–Part 2

Imagine a day out on a banana boat, landing on a local island and picking chicken eggs for the day, and boiling them in a ocean volcano, followed by pine apple picking and to finally finish the day off with some ocean fishing.

It was a really fun experience hanging out with some local people on Mushu Island, and spending an awesome day out “shopping” for food.

We found some wonderful and friendly people to host us on Mushu Isalnd, which is just off the coast from Wewak. I have decided to post  bits and bobs of our experience in PNG without having a chronological order, it just makes it more fun!

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Above is a map of how we get their, basically phone George and he will pick you up on a Banana boat. Let me warn you Wewak has nasty pick pockets, not violent, but they opportunists, so keep your stuff in FRONT POCKETS. We had no issues at all.

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A roaming banana boat

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We found some pine apples with our local friend Jorge, who lives on Mushu Isalnd.

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Above we boil our eggs in the ocean volcano in Victoria Bay, by Kairiru Island.

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Caught some mackerel for dinner, I used a traditional PNG fish wooden stick, if you may call it that Smile

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We were well looked after with food on Mushu Island as well. We ate Bread Fruit, Fish, Chicken (Their is a chicken farm on Kairiru), Sagore and lots of other nice foods.

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Accommodation

Again, lets keep it local, you can live with George, and he has an amazing Guest House on the island, well it is his home and he runs the guest house faultlessly.

You can contact George on:

+675 729 78746

Surfing

There is great surf to be had here, best time to come is mid January to mid March. The kids here are passionate about surfing, the problem is…..and this gets to me…they do not have enough surfboards.

Has anyone thought of using the local chinese traders to get help get second surf boards over on containers? I think this can be a solution. We working with George to perhaps send him to Sydney to learn how the craft of making surfboards, so it is a possibility, either way, we should be aware that kids in PNG LOVE surfing, but don’t have the equipment, and I seen these guys surf on little wooden boards and getting barrelled off their heads!

Chronicles of Papua New Guinea–Part 1

17th December 2012

Port Moresby – Gordon

After a decent flight from Sydney to Port Moresby via Brisbane we were left with no transport from the Airport to our hotel (Flying Fox Inn – 311 2551), which is near Gordons Market in PM. The accommodation was basic, and only locals from different parts of PNG were staying there. We took a stroll in Gordon’s Market and tasted Betel Nut for the first time, a bit of a crowd gathered around us, whilst Jamal and I started chewing and spitting this nut for the first time. I got a bit of a high to be honest and started feeling dizzy and very very talkative!

So, as I was saying, back at the airport, we had no transport arranged, so if you going, I highly recommend to arrange transport beforehand, we eventually got some of the friendly guys from the Flying Fox Inn to pick us up.

That evening we went to the chinese restaurant opposite the Flying Fox Inn, food was pretty good and the waiter was super friendly, who offered to take us on the Kokoda trail if we ever came back to PNG.

18th December 2012

Vanimo Airport

3AM wake up call and we were off to Vanimo!

We landed in Vanimo really early in the morning, and had again not arrange any plans, so there we were at Vanimo airport loitering about with the locals, when a white guy (Peter) approached us and recommended we stay with them at their Lodge. Now our plans was not to stay at any surf lodge, mainly because it is very expensive ($200-$400 / Day), however, since we were a bit tired from all the flights, we thought it might be a good idea for one night and then we will try find accommodation in one of the local villages, of course near as possible to the surf!

Vanimo Surf Lodge

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We got to the surf lodge, which was a 5 minute drive from the airport, and it was pretty nice, but K300 for one night is way too much money, and frankly a rip off, the food was mainly noodles and local fruits and we could not justify the amount of money we had to pay each to stay there for ONE NIGHT. They also charge a Reef Fee which is 30K per day, we found out later that the locals that we lived with who own the reed never get the money, so it seems it goes somewhere else, to some other association perhaps, we don’t know, but we feel the locals get no benefit from these reef fees.

We did some surfing and the waves were ok, around 3ft, We surfed at a place in Lido Village called “Lefties”.

So, in Lido, there is two main surf breaks “Righties” and “Lefties”, it is great, since usually if the right is not working, then the left will be.

19th December 2012

Lido Village

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This village, which is located next door to the Vanimo Surf Lodge is awesome, the people are friendly and to be honest, I never met such nice, friendly and hospitable people like this for a long time. We might a local guy by the name of Solomon who gave up his house for us to stay in, and all we had to pay was 75K a day, that is around $32 a day, much better than K300 at the surf lodge. So we were ecstatic to find such a cool place to live.

Solomon was awesome, he even made us a toilet by breaking down his patio to use the wood for the toilets, I would never find this sort of helpfulness anywhere else I have been before.

I managed to get my Hammock setup between some trees as well, and slept outside as it was much cooler outside than living inside the hut. The local kids loved the hammock to, and they followed me around and tried to help whilst I got it pitched up.

We were so taken back by the cool people in the village, and contemplated on why back home we don’t even speak to our neighbours, where, here, in one evening, we had gathered neighbours from all parts of the village and spent a wonderful evening together.

Solomon’s Guest House

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Phone: +675 715 101 27

So, this is the official day that Solomon’s guest house was born, and we were honoured to be the first guests of such a wonderful host family! If you planning on going to Vanimo in Papua New Guinea, then I highly recommend to live with them, expect to pay them between 75-95 Kina per day. Which is $30-$45 /Day. Just get a PMV (Public Motor Vehicle) from Vanimo town, outside the bank to Lido Village ask for Solomon or Adam, in fact Adam runs a PMV transport mini bus business from Vanimo to Lido, and is Solomons uncle, so you might be lucky and meet him on the way to Lido, his PMV is blue. You can phone him on 715 101 27.

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We had a very early surf today, and then went off to Vanimo Town, it is very small, and the people in town are amazingly friendly, but be warned, the town is very dirty and Bet Nut spit is everywhere!

Reef Fees – GoodBye

Solomon’s uncle owns the reef “lefties” and “righties” so we did not have to pay any reef fees per day anymore, which we were happy about, so here we are living cheap and surfing uncrowded waves, what more can you ask for?

 

 

Food

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The food was absolutely amazing, they treated us like kings and cooked us 3 meals a day. We ate:

Sagore, PineApples, Paw Paw, Bread Fruit, Tare, Sweat Potatoes, Fish and lots of other local grown fruits and vegetables.

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Above is a picture of Sagore and a piece of chicken as well as sipping on coconut water.

Summary

The first few days, proved to show that PNG has some awesome people, food, culture and uncrowded surf, but you need to LIVE WITH THE LOCALS to get the benefit.

This ends part one of my blog post, in future posts we will look at some videos of Lido and talk about all the adventures we went on there Smile Perhaps post a video or two on as well. Until then…..

Chile Surf Yoga Trip April 2012

Just bought my tickets for a trip to remember, surfing big lefts in Chile, I am so excited to go and learn about the country, people and explore the places. Will be travelling with Maurice/Julie and some local surfers here in Sydney.

You can check out their website here: Chile Retreat 2012

I always wanted to check out South America, and no better way than to travel with people who are from Chile. I am really appreciative that my work, Readify,  has let me take unpaid leave.

Waters in Chile are freezing, and I don’t have a 4/.3 wetty, Maurice has been kind enough to offer one of his to use, so that puts me to just buy a hoody, booties and some gloves.

The average swell height is 4-6ft, perfect, I am a bit concerned that I might fall in love and stay there and just become a surf bum, ha ha!

Another place that I am definitely keen to surf will be Chicama in Peru, I guess I will plan this for 2013.

Well, I am hoping to survive the PNG trip, which is now only 2 weeks away, we changed the plans and will be travelling from Vanimo To Madang, and have cut out the mountain climbing, mainly due to timing, we would rather be surfing or diving instead.

Here are some picks of the last trip the guys had in Chile.

I am, well….Excited! Peace….

Papua New Guinea–Tickets Booked and High Level Plan

A friend of mine Jamal Abreu and I are heading off to Papua New Guinea on 17th December and fly back to Sydney on 8th January. Our aim is to be totally immersed in the culture and nature of Papua New Guinea, we want to not only surf but explore the variety and diversity PNG has to offer, off the beaten track.

High level plan

  • Fly into Ports Moresby, then catch connecting to Madang
  • Surf undiscovered spots
  • Avoid the tourist hot spots and go off the beaten track
  • Camp out with the local villagers
  • Learn as much as we can about the cultures we encounter
  • Visit the Volcano Manam
  • Climb Mount Hagen
  • Surf wherever we find breaks
  • Fly to Ports Moresby an fly to Syndey

Route

The route is simple. Land in Madang, climb mountain Hagen, head back to the coast, surf our way up to Vanimo, using Public Transport, Tractors, Donkeys, Boats, Foot, whatever we can climb onto, and umm PMV’s.

Stars on the map represent our main waypoints.

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Equipment

Travel as light as possible, this means, very small day pack, and surfboards.

  • Surfboard bag with makeshift wheels
  • Hammock (Tenth-Wonder-Hammocks-and-Tarps) , Non Waterproof – keep it as airy as possible.
  • Hammock
  • Water proof Tarp (hex shape)
  • Camp gas stove, flints
  • Medical Kit  + Tea Tree Oil
  • Antibiotics
  • Cheap ass phone (not getting machete’d to pieces for an IPhone)
  • Water purification bottles (Aquapure-Traveller)
  • two shorts, two shirts, long sleeves, hat , perhaps some underwear
  • waterproof leggings + thin shell jacket (Mountains)
  • light airy hiking shoes
  • Mosquito repellent
  • rash vest, reef boots
  • torch
  • camera (need to figure out what to take that is not advertising MUG ME)
  • Surf boards ( 2 or 3)

Vaseline (Very useful, umm for lots of things)

Local Knowledge

Have met a local Australian, who lives in the Jungles and with the tribes of PNG, hooking up next week to get knowledge and tip on how to act and behave with the local tribesman. I think there is allot of misconceptions about PNG, so will document and found out how the place ticks first hand. There is not allot of information out there on PNG, so hoping this will be the first of many trips back to PNG.

Surfing

Here is a nice inspirational video on surfing in PNG. Click the link to view.

PNG Surfing Video

There is a surf association in PNG, and we keen to meet up with some of them in Vanimo, however, we will be spending our time finding un-surfed spots.

PNG Surf Association

    Safety

    From what I have gathered from the Lonely Planet guide, Papua New Guinea seems to be a surprisingly friendly place once you get out of the major cities. In fact it is encouraged to travel the same way the locals do and most villages will accept, and offer a hand to stay with them for a few days, that to me is even more friendly than our urban jungles. How many strangers in London would let you stay for a couple of nights, no obligations?

    Of course, with any place you go to, you need to me friendly and courteous to others and of course have some street smart savvy with you.

    Some Pictures from the net

    I guess, this is how people see PNG to be, I think with over 800 languages, there will be all sorts of cultures, definitely keen to meet with them, hopefully and I am sure that most are friendly.

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