Posts Tagged ‘Adventure’


A little over a year or so ago, I read about Gerry Van der Walt from Wild Eye Photo Safaris as being the one to watch on Periscope for wildlife. I started watching him on safari tours and it was amazing to see the lions, hippos, elephants, rhinos, big cats, etc ~ and all of it was live. But I became “hooked” when I switched over to Snapchat which is my preferred forum for seeing all the wildlife updates. Gerry posted lots of the baby animals. Seriously, what’s cuter than those amazing strong animals as tiny (and not so tiny) babies. Cue: Heart Melting!!

Gerry and the rest of the Wild Eye team are very consistent with updating their social media, so much so that when Gerry went quiet for a few days ~ I became worried something happened on one of the safaris. Those animals do get close to the vehicles. Turns out, I missed the snap where he said he was going somewhere without wifi and he would be off-line.

The photos and snap stories are so amazing and I shared many of them with my husband and daughter. Through Gerry’s instagram account, I found a youth photographer, David whose award-winning photo is now on exhibit at the National Museum of Natural History’s Nature’s Best Photography Exhibit.  If you’re in Washington, DC and have an interest in wildlife/photography, I highly recommend seeing the exhibit. The “Leopards” photo was taken while David was on a safari in the Timbavati Private Reserve.


Youth Photographer viewing “Youth Photographer” winners at the Museum of Natural History

I’ve dreamed about going on a safari ever since those Wild Kingdom TV shows back in the day. Whenever my husband and I discussed going, it always came down to time and money. Mostly money. It seemed out of our reach. And I’m not a fan of being on tour groups where I’m required to be around a lot of people and on their schedule. I was overwhelmed with the logistics, money and basic planning. I didn’t want to go on a trip of a lifetime and not enjoy it because I didn’t know what or where to go. It seemed too daunting to tackle.

Things changed this past fall when one day Gerry asked on Snapchat “What’s keeping YOU from going on a safari?” My first thought was “the logistics” and secondly, I thought about the cost. It must be common to everyone because he immediately addressed how Wild Eye can organize a tour based on a budget provided by the guest.

I took a chance and emailed my per-person budget along with possible dates. Gerry wrote back within hours and asked pertinent questions about my preferences: which were the top animals I wanted to see, luxury v. eco-lodge, and did I prefer to be with other people or on a private guide. A few days later, Gerry recommended we go on a privately guided safari in the Timbavati Private Preserve in South Africa with Michael from Wild-Eye. Having already seen David’s (youth photographer) great photos from Timbavati, I was sold.

Timbavati borders Kruger National Park and, because there are no fences, the animals go back and forth between the park and the preserve. Bottom line, we wouldn’t be going on this trip if I hadn’t stumbled onto Wild Eye through periscope. They’ve made it too easy to plan such a fabulous adventure.

More on the details of planning in my next post but if you want to follow Wild Eye to see their fabulous wildlife images, you have your pick of social media outlets:

  • Gerry (Wild Eye founder) is on Instagram/Twitter/Snapchat as: Gerryvanderwalt
  • Gerry’s The Wildlife Photography Podcast is on Itunes/Soundcloud
  • Our guide is on Instagram and Snapchat as: Michael.Laubscher
  • For additional info on Wild Eye click here

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Georgetown Bridge

If you’ve ever watched those sleek boats glide over the water and wondered what it’d be like to be the one racing along then come out to the “National Learn to Row” clinic at the Dee Campbell Boathouse in Old Town (Alexandria, VA) this Saturday, June 7. They’ll teach you the basics on the erg and even get you out on the water.

It’s a very DC thing to do ~ Washington DC was recently ranked “Fittest City in the US”  by the American College of Sports Medicine. I’m guessing that fitness includes Northern Virginia seeing as we’re so close. Click here for additional information on Learn To Row!

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Guest Blogger: Logan, 15 years old

We are frequent visitors to Regent’s Park, many times as a short cut to a friend’s flat in St Johns Woods. A couple of weeks ago, we came across Gorilla Circus ~ Flying Trapeze School. They are located at the corner of Outer Circle Rd and Avenue Rd on the north side of the Regents Park. The closest tube station is St Johns Wood (Jubilee Line).

We stopped to watch the school for a moment but ended up staying longer since we were all mesmerized by the wanna-be acrobats swinging through the air. I could tell John and Logan were tempted. Me, not so much ~ I have limited upper body strength. Logan made arrangements for a class which took place yesterday. She agreed to be a guest blogger and here’s her story:

After seeing the Flying Trapeze School, I was interested in going but hadn’t looked into it any further. Coincidentally, my friend said she went to the school and loved it. She asked if I wanted to go with her and she made the arrangements for a class which was yesterday. The maximum number of students is 10 and we had 9 in our class. They told us we would have a warm-up, practice on the lower bar and then we would go on the flying trapeze.

First, we did basic warm up which included jumping jacks, stretching side to side, running in place and a few balance exercises. Then everyone went over to the lower bar, they explained we would hold the bar, bring our legs up, hook our legs onto the bar and reach back. There were two people helping everyone up on the lower bar so don’t be intimidated if you feel you wouldn’t be able to lift yourself onto the bar. 

The instructors worked with you on your level of expertise so if you are more experienced, they offer more difficult “tricks.” Having never been on a trapeze, I was at the beginner level with the majority of the class. After my turn on the lower bar, they hooked a safety belt around my waist and we walked towards the ladder. It was very fast paced and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to do it but most of the people were worried too so it was reassuring. A few people wore jeans which I think made it more difficult. It’s better to wear tights/leggings.

We were briefed as to what would happen on the flying trapeze along with commands that would be called out. A person from the class was chosen to be an example and the instructors called out the commands which were:

  • Ready: bend your knees
  • HUP!: Gently jump from the platform with your arms extended straight out (locked arms) 
  • Tuck: put your legs onto the bar
  • Release: drop your hands and reach out

After the lower bar practice, we waited for our turn. I was nervous but concentrating on watching the other people so I could learn from them. Climbing the ladder turned out to be the scariest part of the whole thing but you’re hooked to a rope just in case. Once at the top, there’s a platform assistant who hooks you into the safety ropes and he holds onto the back of your belt so you don’t fall off the platform while reaching for the bar. The bar is heavy so reaching out to grab it is difficult because it felt like it was going to pull me right off the platform. Thankfully, the platform assistant was strong enough to hold me back. I followed the commands and “hupped” ~ I’m very happy they don’t say jump because that sounds more terrifying to me. “Hup!” seemed much less scary.

Grabbing onto the bar

Grabbing onto the bar

Ready To Fly

Ready To Fly



Knees Hooked

Time to get those knees hooked!

Hands Off, Arms locked and reaching

Hands Off, Arms locked and reaching



Flying Trapeze

Flying Trapeze

It was thrilling and I’m happy I did it. I want to go again. It’s an interesting work-out but the instructors are all very nice and supportive. There were all different age levels in our group. The minimum age is 8 years old but no maximum age. If you don’t “get it” on your first try, there’s usually time for another attempt.  I think my parents would enjoy it so I’m hoping to go again with them.

I have to admit, watching my 15-year-old be brave enough to do the Flying Trapeze has at least peaked my interest in wanting to try it. Since it seems very safe and the instructors didn’t “shame” anyone who missed the “hand off”, I might go just for the fun of flying on the bar.  If you’re interested, click here for all the pertinent details and let me know how you like it.

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