The Garden Route National Park’s (GRNP) extensive system of diverse biomes entices many in search of the revitalising effects that nature has on the soul. Its varied terrain also promises unadulterated fun! Voluptuous mountain ranges that extend for many miles, stand sentinel over a collection of lakes, rivers and estuaries. Surrounding these sweeping liquid landscapes are fertile tracts of Southern Cape indigenous forest and fynbos.

The GRNP is considered one of the gems within the South African National Parks (SANParks) stable, and is a transcendent example of the country’s unique fauna and flora. A myriad of outdoor recreational activities can be enjoyed throughout the park, such as hiking, birding, mountain biking, forest excursions, canoeing, snorkelling and swimming.
The SANParks Week initiative was launched almost a decade ago to encourage South Africans from all walks of life to enjoy the many attributes these natural playgrounds have to offer. The initiative, in partnership with Total SA, is in line with SANParks’ vision statement of “A sustainable National Park System Connecting Society”.
The week grants free access to most of the 21 national parks for day visitors, especially people from the local communities. This does not in include free access to accommodation facilities and other tourist activities.
Free access to the Garden Route National Park will take place on the 14 – 18 September 2015


Tsitsikamma peak time upgrades ‘won’t hamper visitor experience’

The first upgrades in a million rand improvement project in the Garden Route National Park’s (GRNP) is set to start early in 2016. The upgrades will be done in an eco-friendly manner and will make ample provision for universal access.
Although the summer season (December to February) is one of the most popular visitor times for the area, SANParks assured prospective visitors they “will not be affected by the upgrading process at all, as they plan to vacate the existing office building before December,” Lesley-Ann Meyer, Area Manager, explained.
“We’ve planned for all activities within the park, including the restaurant to operate fully throughout,” Meyer said.
The first upgrades will be done to the entrance gate and administration building.
During the upgrades, visitors will be able to access the park through a newly developed temporary access route just behind the new office building. These upgrades are the first improvements in a more than R17 million upgrade program for the GRNP.

The Garden Route National Park has seen a significant increase in visitors over the past two years, SANParks said in a statement.

General Manager of the GRNP, Jill Bunding-Venter, speaking at the 2015 Garden Route National Park Awards said “overall guests to the Park showed an impressive increase by a staggering 19% since 2013.

“Day visitors also increased by 19, 5%,” he said, while “overnight visitors increased by 17, 75% in 2014 as compared to 2013”.
The Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park appear to be the most popular in the park, as it scooped the Best Camp of the Year at the aforementioned awards.
The Tsitsikamma region was praised for exceeding its targets set for 2014/2015. Figures illustrate a significant improvement in terms of finance, tourism, People & conservation and conservation management.
Interested in going to the Garden Route National Park? Here are a few must-dos:
The Park attracts all kinds of adventurers with its multiple activities. Most of the activities are water-related (think snorkelling, kayaking, swimming, black water tubing and stand-up paddling, for example), which is why it’s so popular during the summer season.
12 of the park’s hiking trails have Green Flag status, and it is the only National Park in South Africa with as many concentrated day and overnight nature walks that meet International standards.
The iconic 1000- year old Outeniqua Yelloowwood is a must-see. The tree is open to members of the public and can be accessed via segways that go up around it.


Book now for Sasfin Plett Wine & Bubbly Festival

Beach or mountains. Wine or bubbly? Book your tickets now for Plett’s second festival dedicated to wine, bubbles and the finer things in life.

Tickets are now on sale for the Sasfin Plett Wine & Bubbly Festival on 9-10 October. Early bird special is available now.

There will be more than ten local producers from the area. Not only can you eat local and drink local, but you can also sample the amazing bubbles from international house-brand Piper-Heidsieck; one of France’s oldest champagne houses and the official champagne of the award-winning Oscars.

Leading up to the weekend event extravaganza, you will find an entire week of wine farm and sporting events linked to the festival.

Friday and Saturday’s grand tasting at the main event will showcase the local wines and bubbles and the international sparkles of Piper-Heidsieck to try with artisan cheeses, breads, canapé platters and of course – beautiful, succulent coastal oysters. Sip, stroll and enjoy the sun and sea just steps from the Indian Ocean at Plett’s Central Beach.

So go ahead and celebrate now…POP! We all know that sound…drink up, get ready and we’ll see you the 9th and 10th of October on Plett’s Central Beach!

DATE: 9 and 10 October
VENUE: Central Beach, Plett
COST: All tickets include 10 wine tasting coupons, R20 discount on a bottle of wine and a commemorative glass. Additional wine coupons and food available for purchase during the festival.
Early Bird Special R180 pp
Day Pass R200 pp
Weekend Pass (for both days) R350 pp
Book Tickets Online or get yours from the Plett Tourism office.•


Monday 31st August 2015
A History of Christianity : Part 3 of 6 : Orthodoxy
Empire to Empire ruling from Constantinople to Russia
Orthodox Christianity prides itself on its faithfulness to tradition
10H00 at Formosa Garden Village Lounge
Co-Ordinator: Michael Lond 044-533-0018

Monday 31st August 2015
U3A Film Club : Magic in the Moonlight
A romantic comedy of the 1920 period
Written and directed by Woody Allen
18H15 at Formosa Garden Village Lounge
Co-ordinator : Brian Hardy 044-533-5489

Tuesday 1st September 2015
Italian Conversation
10H00 at 12 Challenge Drive
Co-ordinator: Brenda Hardy 044-533-5489

Wednesday 2nd September 2015
Ballet : The Rite of Spring
We will see the original version of the ballet and then
see the Mariinsky Ballet’s performance of the work
10H00 at Formosa Garden Village Lounge
Co-ordinator: Michael Lond 044-533-0018

Friday 4th September 2015
Tai Chi class by Jennie Anderson
09H00 to 09H45 at St Peter’s Church Hall
Please present your U3A card on arrival
Co-ordinator: Jennie Anderson 044-533-0089

Friday 4th September 2015
French Conversation
10H30 at 7 Glennifer Street
Co-ordinator: Merle Decot 044-533-5879

Friday 4th September 2015
Mah Jong : Ancient Fascinating Game
13H30 at Formosa Garden Village Small Dining Room
Co-ordinator: Amelia White 044-533-0113

Drinking beetroot juice reduces high blood pressure, trial shows

One glass of beetroot juice a day is enough to significantly reduce blood pressure in patients with high blood pressure, conclude researchers who conducted a placebo-controlled trial in dozens of patients.

The trial, conducted at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) in the UK, was funded by the British Heart Foundation, whose senior research advisor Dr. Shannon Amoils remarks:

“This interesting study builds on previous research by this team and finds that a daily glass of beetroot juice can lower blood pressure in people with hypertension – even those whose high blood pressure was not controlled by drug treatment.”

The researchers publish their findings in the journal Hypertension.

Beetroot contains high levels of inorganic nitrate. Other leafy vegetables – such as lettuce and cabbage – also have high levels of the compound, which they take up from the soil through their roots.

In the human body, inorganic nitrate converts to nitric oxide, which relaxes and dilates blood vessels.

For the trial, Amrita Ahluwalia, a vascular pharmacology professor at QMUL, and colleagues recruited 64 patients aged 18-85. Half of the patients were taking prescribed medication for high blood pressure but were not managing to reach their target blood pressure, and the rest had been diagnosed with high blood pressure but were not yet taking medication for it.

The patients were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group consumed a daily glass (250 ml or around 8.5 oz) of beetroot juice, and the other group had the same except their beetroot juice was nitrate-free (the placebo).

The patients consumed the juice every day for 4 weeks. They were also monitored for 2 weeks before and after the study, bringing the total trial period to 8 weeks.

The trial was double-blind, which means neither the administering clinicians nor the patients knew whether the beetroot juice they were given was the placebo or the active supplement.

First study to show lasting reduction in blood pressure from dietary nitrate
During the 4 weeks they were taking the juice, patients in the active supplement group (whose beetroot juice contained inorganic nitrate) experienced a reduction in blood pressure of 8/4 mmHg (millimeters of mercury).

The first figure is the reduction in systolic pressure (when the heart is pushing) and the second figure is reduction in diastolic pressure (when the heart is relaxing). For many patients, the 8/4 mmHg reduction brought their blood pressure back into the normal range.

In the 2 weeks after they stopped taking the juice, the patients’ blood pressure returned to their previous high levels.

The team notes that this is first study to show evidence of a long-lasting reduction in blood pressure due to dietary nitrate supplementation in a group of patients with high blood pressure.

The patients in the active supplement group also experienced a 20% or so improvement in blood vessel dilation capacity and their artery stiffness reduced by around 10%. Studies show such changes are linked to reduced risk of heart disease.

There were no changes to blood pressure, blood vessel function or artery stiffness in the placebo group (whose beetroot juice did not contain nitrate) during the period of the study.

The authors note that the reduction achieved in the active supplement group is comparable to that of medication; the average reduction in blood pressure that a single anti-hypertension drug brings is 9/5 mmHg.

The study concludes:

“These findings suggest a role for dietary nitrate as an affordable, readily-available, adjunctive treatment in the management of patients with hypertension.”
To put the importance of these findings in context, the authors note that large-scale observational studies show that for every 2 mmHg increase in blood pressure, the risk of death from heart disease goes up 7% and from stroke by 10%.

Natural products to lower blood pressure are ‘more appealing’ than pills

Commenting on the findings, Prof. Ahluwalia says:

“This research has proven that a daily inorganic nitrate dose can be as effective as medical intervention in reducing blood pressure and the best part is we can get it from beetroot and other leafy green vegetables.”

She says one reason the findings are exciting is because increasing dietary nitrate is something patients can easily work into their daily lives and see a positive benefit.

“It is hugely beneficial for people to be able to take steps in controlling their blood pressure through non-clinical means such as eating vegetables,” Prof. Ahluwalia adds. “We know many people don’t like taking drugs life-long when they feel ok, and because of this, medication compliance is a big issue.”
Researched By : Kátia C. Rowlands – Pilates Instructor & Personal Trainer – 082 513 4256•

Should you get a pet bird?

Thinking about getting a pet bird? Here’s an overview of things to consider before making that commitment. I walked into my vet’s office and heard a cheery “Hello!” I rounded the corner and found the reception area empty, except for the doctor’s pet birds. As nice as it sounds to have a pet that can welcome you when you walk in the door, choosing the right bird goes far beyond “Polly wants a cracker.”

Types of Birds
From talking parrots to tiny yellow canaries, birds are fascinating creatures. But the needs of different birds are as varied as the colors of their feathers. According to the Humane Society of the United States, the following birds have a long history of selective breeding in captivity and are considered domesticated strains of wild species: canaries, finches, cockatiels, parakeets & lovebirds. These birds are relatively easy to care for and are recommended for families looking for their first bird. In general, smaller birds are easier to take care of than larger birds. But beware, even little birds can make a big mess! Cleaning the birdcage will become a regular part of your life once you have a bird. On the other hand, the following species have not undergone the same process of long captive breeding and genetic selection. The Humane Society considers them to be wild birds, even when they’re bred in captivity: conures, parrots, macaws, cockatoos, toucans. Because of their natural, wild traits, these birds are much more demanding pets and require their owners to make a serious commitment to care for them.

Lifestyle and Lifespan
There’s a lot to consider when choosing a pet bird. To help you make a well-informed decision, talk to a bird expert, such as a reputable breeder or a vet who specializes in avian companions. Here are a few general things to keep in mind when looking for a pet bird. First of all, consider how much time you can devote to your feathered friend. Some birds, like finches and canaries, generally don’t like to be handled by humans. They prefer to live in small flocks, so consider getting more than one bird at a time. (And be sure to get a cage that is large enough to allow them to fly around inside. Ask for a “flight cage” at the pet store.) These beautiful little birds are known for their lovely songs, making them a good option if you want a pet to look at but not touch. But if you or your kids prefer a bird that tolerates being handled, consider a parakeet or cockatiel instead. Keep in mind that even these relatively mild-mannered birds can bite or peck, so talk to a knowledgeable bird expert to learn how to correctly handle and care for a pet bird.
Other birds, like parrots, need daily exercise and extended periods of human interaction outside of a cage. Some birds can form very close bonds with their owners. If that relationship is neglected, a pet bird can become depressed and unwell. Before getting any bird, find out what living conditions are best for a particular species so you can provide the right environment to keep your bird happy and healthy. Also think about a bird’s life expectancy. Parakeets live an average of 12 to 14 years, but an African Grey Parrot can live 50 to 70 years! When taking in a bird with a long lifespan, plan ahead for the bird’s continued care in case it outlives you.

Your budget is another important factor to consider when choosing a bird. For starters, large birds can cost thousands of dollars to purchase. Cages and other supplies can also be costly, even for smaller birds. As of March 2008, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates that a small bird will cost its owner $270 in “set-up” costs and $200 in regular annual costs. Find out what you need to buy to properly care for your bird before making the commitment to bring one home.

Birds have specialized dietary needs. A handful of seeds just won’t cut it for every bird. Before choosing a bird, find out what kind of food it eats. Does it need fresh fruit and veggies? A special kind of seed? Nectar and pollen? Make sure you’re up to the task of properly feeding that winged companion.

A Word of Caution
Although birds can spread germs to people, the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) maintains that illness caused by touching or owning birds is rare. However, people with compromised immune systems, including children under the age of 5, are at greater risk of getting diseases from animals. Visit the CDC website to learn more about the germs that birds can pass on to humans and how to protect yourself.


NSRI Plettenberg crew rescues Dubai tourist injured at sea

The National Sea Rescue Institute Plettenberg Bay crew had a busy weekend, undertaking rescue operations just off Robberg Point after a tourist from Dubai was injured on board.

A whale watching vessel, while NSRI crew also took part in exercises to hone their lifesaving skills.
The NSRI said in a statement on Monday that the tourist from Dubai had been on board Ocean Blue Adventures’ whale watching boat, Damara on Friday when the boat got into difficulty whilst negotiating a wave.
“At 10:25am on Friday August 14, the NSRI Plettenberg Bay duty crew were activated following a request for assistance from Ocean Blue Adventures reporting multiple casualties, on their whale watching boat Damara, with injuries sustained to some passengers after the boat reportedly negotiated a wave, 1 nautical mile off-shore of Robberg Point,” said Sea Rescue spokesperson Craig Lambinon.
He said the sea rescue craft, Leonard Smith, was dispatched to provide assistance to the Damara.
“On arrival at the scene it was found that a passenger from Dubai, a tourist, aged approximately in his early 40’s, had suffered a broken nose, lacerations to his lip, back pain and a fractured left arm,” said Lambinon.
A doctor, who happened to be a passenger aboard the Damara was administering medical assistance to the injured man, he said.
“NSRI medics assisted with treatment, as well as treatment to a number of other passengers complaining of back pain and some suffering from motion sicknesss.”
Medics stabilised and transferred the injured tourist onto the sea rescue craft, as well as two women who had motion sickness. The tourist’s wife, who complained of back pain declined to be transported back to shore on the rescue boat. The Damara transported other passengers who were injured, and medics provided medical attention to them once they reached shore.
Lambinon said on Sunday the NSR Plettenberg Bay crew, together with the Plettenberg Bay Mountain Rescue and WC Government Health EMS teams “conducted a joint rescue exercise to hone [their] joint operating skills in JOC (Joint Operations Command) and in patient extrication techniques and patient care at Robberg Nature Reserve”.

During the exercise, “past rescue operations were re-enacted where difficult rescue extrication of patients were experienced in an effort to increase skills levels,” he said.
Each rescue service shared skills specific to their expertise in patient care, patient extrication and high-angle rope rescue techniques with each other, he added.•


Monday 24th August 2015
The building of the Greatest Wildlife Industry – A Centenary Investment 1895 to 2015
Dr George Hughes presentation covers the historical development
of the conservation and wildlife industry in South Africa
10H00 at Formosa Garden Village Lounge
Co-Ordinator: Christo Vlok 044-533-5155

Tuesday 25th August 2015
Italian Conversation
10H00 at 12 Challenge Drive
Co-ordinator: Brenda Hardy 044-533-5489

Wednesday 26th August 2015
The Genius of Design : Part 2 of 5
Designs for Open Plan Living
In the 1920’s and 1930’s designers explored
the dreams of the American consumer
10H00 at Formosa Garden Village Lounge
Co-ordinator: Henri Timme 044-535-9041

Friday 28th August 2015
Tai Chi Class
09H00 to 09H45 at St Peter’s Church Hall
Please present your U3A membership card
Co-ordinator: Jennie Anderson 044-533-0089

Friday 28th August 2015
French Conversation
10H30 to confirm with Ingrid
Co-ordinator: Ingrid James 044-533-0212

Friday 28th August 2015
Mah Jong : Ancient Fascinating Game
13H30 at Formosa Garden Village Small Dining Room
Co-ordinator: Amelia White 044-533-0113