You only have one life, so why spend it rotting on the couch? South Africa’s top outdoor photographers break down the barriers to entry for DIY adventures you can get stuck into this weekend.
1 GRAB A BUDDY
“The truth is that you don’t need to travel around the world to go find adventure and getting out of that mindset is really important,” advises BMX guru Wayne Reiche. “Living in South Africa, we are blessed with countless amazing spots. I have some of my fondest memories doing nothing more than a day mission with a backpack. It really comes down to just getting off the couch and making the mental decision to get out there. It also really helps to surround yourself with like-minded individuals who will motivate you to join or who will make you feel bad for not joining.”
2 GET CREATIVE
“Admittedly adventure means different things to different people,” says Kelvin Trautman, who’s photographed his share of gnarly trips. “But I find the biggest hindrance to people going adventuring is that they assume it means traveling far from home to wild and remote places. Adventure can be on your doorstep too, and is often the best way to start. Sleep in a nearby cave, bike to work, catch and cook your own lunch. Get creative and get outside your comfort zone close to home.”
3 GET LOST
“Don’t make the mistake of thinking that adventure is far away,” says adrenalin all-rounder Tyrone Bradley. “Getting out of your comfort zone is all it takes to make you feel present – so pack a few changes of clothes for different weather conditions, fill your tank and drive two hours in any direction. Getting lost is the best way to activate your senses. Be spontaneous and go with it.
“Also, stay curious. What’s on the other side of that hill? Where does that road lead? And don’t overthink it. No ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’. The sayings ‘A bad surf is better than no surf’ and ‘assumption is the mother of all f*ups’ come into play here.“
“Don’t rush - it’s about smiles, not miles. Take the time to develop that conversation with a stranger, because he’ll be able to direct you to where you didn’t know you wanted to go. There’s nothing like being completely lost in nature to make you feel wonderfully insignificant. Go camping near mountains. Their scale is humbling. Climb one if you can.”
4 JUST START
“My top tip would be to just start,” says Jacques van Zyl, one of South Africa’s premier climbing photographers. “It’s the hardest part of anything and if you’d like to have more adventures but for some reason aren’t, my guess is that you feel like you can’t. But you can.
“I never thought that I would end up in the crazy places I have and do the things I’ve done and meet the people I’ve met. I haven’t even done that much, but already my adventures have defined me and made me a better, more enriched and open person. There is a lot to gain. So just start, and the rest will take care of itself.“
“My second tip is to make time. Our lives are mad and we chase our tails day and night. So if you want to get out, you need to take a stand and incorporate time for your adventures. In return, you’ll realise that we’re all caught up in a never-ending race against the clock and could do with some perspective, which is exactly what you’ll find on your adventures. So, make time.”
5 INSPIRE YOURSELF
“Get inspired by exploring the coastline, mountain or river close to home,” recommends surf lensman Alan van Gysen. “Chances are there are incredible little discoveries you never even knew existed a short drive from your home. It’s one thing to be inspired by others, it’s quite another to be inspired by yourself. Go out, see the gems your beautiful country has to offer, and inspire yourself to take the next step.”
6 CHANNEL YOUR INNER CAMEL MAN
“If, like most of us, you’re a city-slicker stuck in a 9-5 and you feel like true adventure is something only possible while you are young and irresponsible, stop and think again,” says surf snapper Sacha Specker. “Don’t forget that there is always something to delve into nearby. Share the adventure with somebody and it becomes double the adventure.
“Travelling to Fiji is not always an option to cure your travel bug. Pack your bags on Thursday evening. Finish off your work week with your gear in the car and ready to start the excursion directly from the office. A simple hike through your nearest mountains or forest and spending the night in the tent you carried with you or beneath the stars, preparing the food and coffee you packed the day before with nothing more than a wood fire made with your bare hands will ignite your inner ‘Camel Man’. Keep it simple, affordable and close to home. Sometimes 24 hours off the grid and some dirt under your fingernails is all you need to re-set your train of thought and make any weekend an adventure-filled weekend, alone or with friends or family.”
7 SLOW IT DOWN
“Instead of jumping from place to place, only spending a few days here and a few days there, I would suggest staying longer in one spot and really immersing yourself in the new environment,” says skate and street photographer Jansen van Staden. “Get to know some people, find places that are off the tourist track. Get lost and find your own way around. After you’ve checked in at your backpackers or wherever you’re crashing, leave your phone and GPS there. Chat to old people. Listen to their stories.”