Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE


@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Peter van Kets’ The Eighth Summit Launched with David Becker at The Book Lounge

Peter van Kets

The evening of Peter van Kets’ arrival in Cape Town for the launch of his book, The Eighth Summit, was cold – relatively speaking. Not the kind of cold portrayed on the cover of his first book, admittedly, for what could possibly compare temperature-wise to the adventure narrative that took the extreme athlete skiing across Antarctica? It was certainly one of the city’s nippier nights but that proved no deterrent to the large crowd that gathered to celebrate the author’s latest success. Nor did it prevent a warm mood filling the inside of The Book Lounge with congenial laughter, vibrant conversation, delicious snacks and fabulous tales of grit, courage and humility.
Peter van Kets and David BeckerThe Eighth SummitThe author was joined by peak performance coach, David Becker, who chatted to him about how “an ordinary person” gets to do some pretty extraordinary things.

“This is a man,” said Becker, “who in 2007 won the Atlantic rowing race in a double with his friend, Bill Godfrey. He then, despite promising his wife that he would never do it again, rowed solo across the Atlantic, going for 76 days, non-stop!”

In 2012, after 25 days in extreme conditions over 742 kilometers of indescribably tough racing, he arrived at the South Pole with his friend, Braam Malherbe. They completed the Scott-Amundsen Centenary Race to the South Pole taking a joint third position with Team British Green/Centrepoint.

Those who’d come to listen to Van Kets heard about his passion for the environment. A former teacher who is passionate about the conservation of the planet, he spoke about the attitudes that foster his resilience. Van Kets read a quote by his hero Muhammad Ali, which has particularly impacted on his thinking:

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

The author insists he is “just an ordinary guy” who has some amazing friends. Van Kets, who passed through Wynberg Boys High, says he never won a race at school and never captained a sports team. He learned to push himself mentally and endure incredible hardship to reach “the eighth summit”, that place inside yourself that you have to come to terms with.

He described the physical conditions – not for the squeamish – including a wickedly funny account of how to pee in a boat, as well as the terrifying weather conditions and the extreme good fortune that enabled him to survive. The adventurer took comfort in audiobooks and music and a daily phone call that inspired his focus during the hours of enormous physical pain and exhaustion. He spoke of an extract by Theodore Roosevelt he had stuck inside the cabin that kept him going as he crossed the Atlantic alone. In particular these words strengthened him while facing an unavoidable storm, requiring strength of purpose in unimaginably arduous conditions:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Before returning to the wintry street, many bought books and waited in the queue for Van Kets to sign their copies. Those who stepped out into the night were buoyed against their own inner challenges, made a little braver for having been to hear the author’s inspirational words that were simultaneously funny, tough and kind.

* * * * * * * *

Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) tweeted from the launch using #livebooks:

























Facebook gallery

Book details

» read article

Join Peter van Kets for the Launch of The Eight Summit at The Book Lounge

The Eighth SummitJacana Media and The Book Lounge invite you to the launch of The Eighth Summit by Peter van Kets.

The event takes place on Tuesday, 15 July, and starts at 5:30 for 6 PM.

Van Kets will be sharing stories from his greatest expeditions – incredible, unsupported adventures across the Atlantic in rowing boats and across the icy high plateau of Antarctica on foot and sledge.

See you there!

Event Details

Book Details

» read article

Join Peter van Kets for Dinner at the Launch of The Eighth Summit in Johannesburg

The Eighth SummitJacana Media and the Gordon Institute for Business Science invite you to the launch of The Eighth Summit by Peter van Kets.

The Eighth Summit is a motivational memoir that recounts and takes inspiration from three epic expeditions undertaken by Van Kets: winning the Woodvale Atlantic Rowing Race in 2008, rowing the Atlantic single-handed in 2010, and trekking unsupported to the South Pole in 2012.

Van Kets will be chatting to Kelvin Watt about these three expeditions. Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 19 June 2014
  • Time: 6:00 PM
  • Venue: 26 Melville Rd
    Johannesburg | Map
  • Guest Speaker: Kelvin Watt
  • Refreshments: Catered supper
  • Cover charge: R250
  • RSVP: 011 628 3200,

Book Details

» read article

Be Inspired by Adventurer Peter van Kets’ New Book, The Eighth Summit

The Eighth SummitOut this month, The Eighth Summit by Peter van Kets:

What does it take to row 5,500km across an ocean? Or to trek 500 miles through Antarctica? How do we achieve incredible things?

Peter van Kets has done this and more and yet he could be the average guy next door. A teacher in East London with a fondness for the ocean, Peter was given a rare chance to compete in the 2007 Atlantic Rowing Race.

His decision to grasp this opportunity would change his life. Together with Bill Godfrey, he rowed across the Atlantic and won against the odds. Then he came back two years later to row it alone – a truly epic feat. After that he joined forces with adventure runner Braam Malherbe to represent South Africa in the unique Scott-Amundsen Centenary Race to the South Pole, one of the most gruelling endurance events ever staged.

Peters feats of endurance in the face of endless ice, snow and saltwater are testament to the power of the human spirit and the greatness possible when an ordinary person sets out to do extraordinary things. In rowing the Atlantic and trekking the Antarctic, he has come to understand what it takes to conquer the limits of your mind. To conquer your Eighth Summit.

About the author

Peter van Kets is one of the world’s top professional endurance adventurers, a conservationist and an international keynote/inspirational speaker. He has been involved in numerous expeditions around the world.

Book details

» read article

Join Marion Whitehead for the Launch of Passes and Poorts South Africa at Kirstenbosch

Passes and Poorts South Africa: Getaway's Top Scenic Mountain RoutesJacana Media invites you to the launch of Passes and Poorts South Africa: Getaway’s Top Scenic Mountain Routes by Marion Whitehead.

Passes and Poorts South Africa provides a detailed guide to more than 40 of the most scenic mountain passes in the country, and is packed with information to enrich both the driving and the armchair travelling experience.

The event will take place at the Botanical Society Bookshop at Kirstenbosch on 4 June, when Whitehead will talk you through some of the most breathtaking passes and poorts in South Africa.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

Book Details

» read article

Marion Whitehead’s Passes and Poorts South Africa Launched with Justin Fox at Kalk Bay Books

Marion Whitehead

The weather was threatening and a cold wind blew off the sea from the Kalk Bay Harbour, but hardy nature lovers are seldom deterred by such matters and, unsurprisingly, Kalk Bay Books was filled to capacity for the launch of Marion Whitehead’s Passes and Poorts South Africa: Getaway’s Top Scenic Mountain Routes earlier this week.

Marion Whitehead and Justin FoxPasses and Poorts South AfricaThe author was joined by Getaway journalist and novelist, Justin Fox, author of Whoever Fears the Sea, in a splendid conversation that held the audience in thrall. Fox, who had worked with the author at Getaway Magazine, where she had been a “tyrant” of a sub-editor, recalled Whitehead’s first book, Passes & Poorts: Getaway’s Top 30 Scenic Mountain Routes in the Western Cape.

“It’s much more than a guidebook. It’s much more than a book about passes and poorts,” he said. “She uses the pass as a way to get into the landscape, into the history and culture, the flora and fauna, the geology and history of the area. The passes and poorts, as she has written about them, are a vehicle to get into a comprehensive view of the environment. That’s what makes it such a remarkable book.”

Whitehead said she had always been fascinated by the mountains and the way they transported her into another realm. “It’s an easy way into the wilderness. You get quickly to the hikes, the mountain bike trails, and all the special places where you see the special plants. Higher up, every thing seems better.”

While working as a tour guide, preparing to take her qualifying exams, she had done a project on the passes and poorts in George, where she had lived. Explaining the difference, she said, “A pass has altitude, whereas a poort goes along the river, that cuts through the pass.” She reflected on how each pass had its own particular challenges. “Meiringspoort, for example, you’re always looking up. There’s a good chance you’ll get a crick in your neck! It’s ideal to have an open-topped car for that one!”

She had researched the history and development of the passes using the writings of Charles Mitchell, who had been the Surveyor General of the Cape in early days of the British Colony. She mentioned that a wagon careering over the mountain pass would have struggled to keep upright. “Wagons were top heavy and didn’t do well in passes. It was crazy travelling in those days. If you remember… our grandmothers travelled in ox wagons,” she said.

Fox noted that she had taken all her own photographs for the book and asked her about her work rituals. She said that the golden hours were in the early morning and late afternoon. “If you’re going to photograph, you need to stay nearby the pass. The poorts are in deep shadow early and late, so midday is the right time for photographs.” She downloads photos at night but by day she is out and about, driving, talking to people, checking out the hikes, the good spots to eat.

Fox praised the book as an excellent travel guide. “It’s all there, with suggestions of different places to go and no shortage of original things to do.”

* * * * * * * *

Liesl Jobson tweeted live from the event using the hashtag #livebooks

Facebook gallery

Book details

» read article

Join Marion Whitehead for the Launch of Passes and Poorts South Africa with Justin Fox

Passes and Poorts South Africa: Getaway's Top Scenic Mountain RoutesJacana Media and Kalk Bay Books invite you to the launch of Passes and Poorts South Africa: Getaway’s Top Scenic Mountain Routes by Marion Whitehead.

Passes and Poorts South Africa provides a detailed guide to more than 40 of the most scenic mountain passes and is packed with information to enrich both the driving and the armchair travelling experience.

Whitehead will be in conversation with Justin Fox, author of Whoever Fears the Sea and former editor of Getaway magazine.

The event will take place on 27 May at 6 PM for 6:30 PM. Don’t miss it!

Event Details

Book Details

» read article

Explore the Country with Passes and Poorts South Africa: Getaway’s Top Scenic Mountain Routes

Passes and Poorts South AfricaNew from Jacana Media, Marion Whitehead’s new travel guide, Passes and Poorts South Africa: Getaway’s Top Scenic Mountain Routes:

Many of the modern passes in South Africa still follow ancient animal migration routes; others are engineering masterpieces that challenge gravity. All take travellers deep into rugged and wild terrain where nature reigns supreme.

Passes and Poorts South Africa provides a detailed guide to the most scenic and is packed with information to enrich both the driving and the armchair travelling experience, from fauna and flora to the personalities behind the passes.

Activities highlighted in each area include favourite hiking trails, mountain biking tracks and 4×4 routes. Each chapter ends with tips on where to eat and stay, from bush camps and self-catering cottages to luxury lodges and hospitable guesthouses.

Many passes can be done as drives or weekend trips en route to some of South Africa’s most popular holiday destinations; driving others is an adventure in itself. Full-colour maps assist in travel planning and the routes and points of interest are illustrated with photographs by the author.

About the author

Marion Whitehead has long had an affinity for mountains. She developed a passion for mountain passes and poorts when she worked for a time as a tour guide and this became the subject of her first book, Passes & Poorts: Getaway’s Top 30 scenic mountain routes in the Western Cape. The freelance photojournalist loves roaming the country, looking for more exciting routes to share with readers.

Book details

» read article

Discover Joburg’s Natural Beauty with Gauteng Hikes and Walks by Tim Hartwright

Gauteng Hikes and WalksForthcoming from Jacana: Gauteng Hikes and Walks by Tim Hartwright.

Gauteng may be the Place of Gold, but it is also home to many hikes and walks that most Gautengers don’t even know about.

This book will help you discover them while giving you a more intimate encounter with Gauteng, a province shrouded in the beauty of indigenous vegetation, mountains, rivers and waterfalls.

Tim Hartwright covers both the shorter walks in urban parks and rural areas, along with overnight trails such as Suikerbosrand.

He explores the unique places that are right on every Gautenger’s doorstep, one of these being the Braamfontein Spruit, and shares the rich heritage we need to preserve in our city.

Numerous private trails have blossomed in areas closer to the main metropolises of Gauteng. Shorter weekend and day hikes have come into vogue and in most cases these trails cross private land rather than that belonging to the state. Most municipalities have embraced hiking as part of their commitment to the outdoor recreational activities they offer their residents and visitors.

Explore the various nature reserves, historical, archaeological and geological sites.

Included in the book:

• Detailed description of around 60 hiking and walking trails in Gauteng, including the history and geology, fauna and flora of each area.
• A difficulty rating is included, helping you decide if it is suitable for the whole family.
• Brief descriptions on how to get to the route with GPS coordinates for starting points.
• Security information and emergency numbers.
• Contact details for trail – to know if you should book in advance to walk the trail.
• Comprehensive maps for each hike or walk.

About the Author

Tim Hartwright is the owner of Jacana Travel Marketing & Reservations and also chairman of the Footprint Hiking Club and the Braamfontein Spruit Trust, an environmental organisation concerned with monitoring the wellbeing of the Spruit and public open spaces and parks in the suburbs of Johannesburg. As such, he walks all these areas on a regular basis. He sees his position as that of supporting the work that Johannesburg City Parks does in maintaining the more than 2000 public open spaces that fall under its control. Tim walks on average 1,200 km a year, many of which are featured in this book.

Book details

» read article

“The Beauty Is in Its Vastness”: Obie Oberholzer Discusses the Subject of His Book Karoo

KarooRhodes University’s Faculty of Humanities has shared an article by the Weekend Post on Obie Oberholzer’s latest book, Karoo: Long Time Passing. The photographer explains that he’s been passing through the Karoo since 1977 without ever stopping to do it justice, which he says is reflected in the title of the book.

Oberholzer discusses the challenges of photographing the landscape and speaks about what drew him to it: “Most people simply view the area as big and bare. It is exactly that which attracted me to it – the beauty is in its vastness.”

Celebrated photographer Obie Oberholzer, who lectured at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, for many years, has released a new book of images capturing the timeless beauty of the Karoo.

“Oberholzer turns the mundane into the extraordinary,” was one reviewer’s assessment of the photographer’s 10th book, titled Karoo: Long Time Passing.

Book details

» read article