Getaway (South Africa) - - Escape -

This month Chris Ber­tish will hop on a cus­tom­made six-me­tre board and em­bark on the first-ever transat­lantic SUP cross­ing, all alone, from Morocco to Florida (7 500 kilo­me­tres). WHY IS HE DO­ING THIS?

‘I can’t think of a bet­ter place in the world right now than to be on the open wa­ter. Life is sim­ple on the ocean – all you think about is the sea, stay­ing alive and man­ag­ing your men­tal and phys­i­cal state. This project has been a huge un­der­tak­ing to bring into re­al­ity, but it’s go­ing to have a mon­u­men­tal im­pact on the lives of mil­lions of chil­dren in South Africa, and gen­er­a­tions to come.’ Chris will be rais­ing money to set up long-term fund­ing an­nu­ities to feed chil­dren, pay for life-chang­ing surg­eries and build schools. Re­searchers in SA will be track­ing Chris, his en­vi­ron­ment and ex­pe­ri­ences, and he’ll be col­lect­ing ocean data him­self that will be broad­cast in weekly classes for chil­dren at the Two Oceans Aquar­ium in Cape Town. Watch Chris dur­ing the trip on the­supcross­ or tweet him: #the­SupCross­ing


‘My pad­dle craft is the ul­ti­mate sur­vival kit – it’s built with ev­ery pos­si­ble tech­ni­cal safety as­pect, in­clud­ing a wa­ter maker. It has VHS ra­dio, a spe­cial wind in­stru­ment and a top fore­cast­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tem (via satel­lite).’ That said, he’s also tak­ing a life raft, emer­gency grab-bag, flares, wa­ter blad­ders and mul­ti­tool for re­pairs, plus hand-held back­ups of vi­tal gad­gets: VHF ra­dio, sat-phone, man­ual wa­ter de­sali­na­tor, GPS and ex­tra so­larpanel unit.


• in­te­grated GPS/radar sys­tem, plus a man­ual com­pass;

• AIS (au­to­matic iden­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tem) to com­mu­ni­cate with nearby ves­sels;

• in­Reach Ex­plorer per­sonal lo­ca­tor bea­con;

• In­marsat BGAN (broad­band global area net­work) for in­ter­net ac­cess;

• two sets of so­lar-panel units to power all elec­tron­ics;

• au­topi­lot sys­tem;

• per­sonal drone;

• nu­mer­ous GoPros;

• Wi-Fi for live stream­ing.

#TrekSouthAfrica is a six-month project record­ing our di­verse coun­try­side and the peo­ple who live in it. Fol­low the team, and you can get an in­ti­mate look into all of SA’s wilder­ness ar­eas. Sam Che­val­lier shares his im­pres­sions so far How does this Trek work?

The way we ex­plore each des­ti­na­tion de­pends on its fea­tures. So we did a self­drive 4x4 sa­fari in the Kruger Park but hiked in the Drak­ens­berg. The team [of six] vis­its each place to­gether, spend­ing four to five days there. There’s no way to pre­dict one day to an­other.

What have you en­joyed the most so far?

Learn­ing about the wildlife that is unique to an area – in the iSi­man­gal­iso Wet­land Park, peo­ple were ex­tremely knowl­edge­able about that. I’ve met peo­ple who are de­pen­dent on their en­vi­ron­ment and so have a deep con­nec­tion with it. In the Ceder­berg, for ex­am­ple, I learnt about the lo­cal ecol­ogy from some of the farm work­ers. I also went San track­ing – that’s a skill mankind has truly lost.

Is there any­thing that has sur­prised you?

It’s in­cred­i­ble to see how peo­ple live so dif­fer­ently within the same coun­try. The weather cre­ates a dif­fer­ence – I’m cur­rently in Limpopo as we speak, and we woke up at five this morn­ing to avoid the heat. The peo­ple here seem so used to it. An­other ex­am­ple: of­ten the kind of land­scape de­ter­mines the type of em­ploy­ment within an area, so the di­ver­sity of SA’s biomes truly al­lows for in­cred­i­ble di­ver­sity in our skills set.

Any one high­light that stands out?

Walk­ing through the Hluh­luwe-Im­folozi Park and com­ing across a young male lion. He got up out of the dry riverbed with a deep growl, then pro­ceeded to sub­mit into the thicket away from us.

Where does your love for na­ture come from?

A big turn­ing point for me was do­ing my hon­ours at the Sus­tain­abil­ity In­sti­tute in Stel­len­bosch. We did a mod­ule on biomimicry, which is learn­ing from unique, re­silient de­signs, func­tions and pro­cesses within the nat­u­ral world. It helped guide me into the per­cep­tion of how in­tel­li­gent the world we live in ac­tu­ally is. Fol­low #TrekSouthAfrica on In­sta­gram or Drive South Africa’s Face­book page.

ini elec­tric ‘I re­cently picked up a m s. It will be travel gui­tar in the State ill keep me tough out there, so this w com­pany and sane!’

Sam (on the right) near Gi­ant’s Cas­tle, with fel­low Trekker Luyanda Mfun­disi (left) and Sam Mt­shali, man­ager of the re­sort.

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