Namibia Adventure

In May of 2014, Catherine and I took our 32nd combined trip to South Africa and Silkbush Mountain Vineyards, and then our very first trip to Namibia. Planning our Namibian adventure was actually an adventure in itself; Catherine spent the better part of January 2014 researching and preparing the varied intricacies of the trip. (Her research was supplanted by our favorite African travel consultant, Denise Best, (  who lives in GA and has assisted several friends in planning African “trips of a lifetime”).There was so much to see and experience we decided to stay three weeks driving across Namibia in addition to our two weeks in the Western Cape, on SILKBUSH and then in Stellenbosch.

Incidentally, the distances in Namibia are substantial; we covered by car at most 60% of the country, one week driving ourselves and two with our very enjoyable guide, Richard “Zubee” zu Bentheim [email protected]. If visitors have less time, flights in light aircraft can be arranged at greater cost and you really miss out on much of the flavor of the country. Like much of Africa, much of Namibia deserves to be seen more slowly and digested deliberately with the locals.

BTW, Namibia is the first country in the world to incorporate environmental protection into its Constitution. From this, many tourism options spring, providing real monetary and social benefits for the local communities who provide them and, in return, a very enjoyable and gratifying Namibian experience for tourists. We visited the highest sand dunes in the world and the largest game reserves in Africa. We visited local communities, tribal lands and developed an appreciation for Namibia, it land, its wildlife, and its tourist-friendly peoples and amazingly diverse cultures. The country has earned its nickname, the Arid Eden!

This trek also became a geological safari because of the varied and ubiquitous rock formations throughout the country. Geologically, the Namib area is composed of a wide range of rock types, ranging from 1,265 million year old granite to the present day formations making up the Namib Sand Sea. The area is just west of the Great Namibian Escarpment, a feature formed by the uplift of the entire southern African continent about 120 million years ago. In the north and southeast, we saw many lavas or “volcanics” which are exposed rock outcroppings. Namibia’s highest point is the south at 6,500 ft. above sea level. The lowest naturally is the long Atlantic coast line or sea level.

We were totally awed by the local habitats, wildlife, and traditional cultures and rituals here, and we knew our tourism dollars had a beneficial impact on the environment and wildlife conservation. We’ve chosen just over two hundred pictures from the several thousand we actually took throughout our Namibian journey. We hope they and the accompanying text will give you multiple impressions into our most wondrous adventure. Take a look at Gallery 11 ( on Namibia and enjoy the ride. Botswana, Tanzania, and Kenya are all great game camp safari areas we have also enjoyed, but Namibia is a different sort of adventure in Southern Africa; please give it due consideration.

Lion’s Drift Pinotage Penetrates St. Pete

Florida Silkbush Team Bruce Alexander and Dave Jefferson with Wood Fired Pizza’s Peter Taylor

Because there are so many wines available, new wine farms such as Silkbush have to make special efforts to distinguish itself.  A nice package, competitive price, an unusual variety from an exotic location is appealing but it’s only when buyers in restaurants and wine shops actually taste the wine and carry it that consumers can buy it and drink it. Introducing retail establishments to Silkbush’s wine is a face-to-face-and-taste undertaking. Accordingly, I found myself in late January in St. Pete, peddling Pinotage, and having a delightful time.

For those who haven’t been there, St. Pete is St. Petersburg, Florida, co-founded in 1888 by Peter Demens, formerly Pyotr A. Dementyev, a Russian aristocrat who, orphaned at age 4, spent much of his youth in the original St. Petersburg. As a liberal minded, well educated and outspoken person during turbulent political times, he was exiled from Russia in 1880. Thirty years old, he came to the US, anglicized his name to Peter Demens, and headed for his cousin’s orange grove in Jacksonville, Florida.  Soon after, he bought land in Western Florida and began producing railroad ties for the Orange Belt Railroad. When Orange Belt could not pay him, he assumed ownership of the railroad. He then extended the railroad to undeveloped land on Tampa Bay, named the area St. Petersburg, and the rest is history.

Silkbush’s South African Pinotage is an ideal accompaniment to picnics and grilling and St. Pete, sporting 360 days of sunshine per year is a perfect match for outdoor fun.  Located on the west coast of FL, “Tampa Bay/St. Pete” is home to over 4.8 million people and has three major league sports franchises, the NFL Buccaneers, MLB Rays and the NHL Lightening.   With air conditioning taming summer heat, the area’s beauty and bay has made “Tampa/St. Pete” a major retirement area and tourist destination.

Silkbush’s local representative is Bruce Alexander.  Bruce retired from a career in public relations has decided he can’t play golf every day so he’s started a new career in imported wine.  Living in downtown St. Pete, Bruce enjoys patronizing area restaurants such as Wood Fired Pizza and local wineshops including American Spirits in the Publix Mall, both of which now carry Silkbush’s Lions Drift Pinotage.

My 30th Trip to South Africa

Chronologically, I may not be a kid anymore, but on this beautiful May day in 2000 I felt like one: we had actually purchased a farm in Africa! That the Wabooms River (more a strong, year-round creek) was still flowing strongly behind me in late fall was very encouraging. The Wabooms rages in the winter and then becomes tame for the rest of the year. But it’s always comforting to farmers to see running water year round. Dave Jefferson

On Friday, September 14th, I’ll make my second trip of this year to the Beloved Country, and my 30th trip since April 1994, then my first trip to South Africa. If “self actualization” is being confused between work and play, being in the Western Cape is near-perfect self actualization. However, the trip from CA (10,000 miles) and the time zone changes (9 or 10, depending upon Daylight Saving status in CA) is strictly work. Continue reading “My 30th Trip to South Africa”