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John Marcassa’s Garden Route Tour

John Marcassa’s ride on the Garden Route earlier this year was his third trip. Last year he was in Mongolia and shared his story here. Before that, he’d been on the Spectacular South West Africa tour in 2013. And he’s planning more.


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“It’s like riding with your best friends,” he says. And John rides a LOT. “With Renedian, there are great places to go, the camaraderie is great, the accommodations wonderful, food fantastic and the scenery is wild!


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Drawing a favourite part of the ride out of John was not easy. He liked it all, but finally narrowed in on riding the canyons and the mountain passes. “In the canyons, you’re riding 10 feet away from rock walls on a nice twisty road with excellent pavement,” he says. “You know you’re not in the Alps and you’re not that high above sea level but they’re still mountains and the vistas are amazing. It reminded me of riding through the Smokey Mountains. It’s not like Northern Ontario where I come from where the roads are twisty but you can’t see that far because of the trees.”


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And then there was riding along the seaside on Chapman’s Peak Drive on the southwestern tip of South Africa south of Cape Town. It’s widely purported to be one of the most scenic drives in the world.


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While the riding activities were nurturing for heart and soul, the ancillary activities provided the heart-stopping moments. John tried bungee jumping for the first time in his life. “There was only one second before the jump that I asked myself what I was doing,” he says. “It goes totally against your nature. You don’t just go jumping off things, especially when they’re 216 metres above the ground.” It wasn’t like he was an outlier in the group—most of them went.


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He also enjoyed Monkey Town, a wildlife center for monkeys and apes. “They’ve taken in monkeys that have been injured and rehabilitated them.” John laughed as he commented. “It really feels more like you the tourist are caged in. It’s amazing to have the little monkeys climb on you, feel their feet, and take food from you. It’s quite astounding to see how many different kinds of monkeys and birds are there.”


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The ostrich neck massage at the ostrich farm was a new experience for John. He explained. “You hold a bucket of food in front of you. The ostrich approaches from behind, reaches over, and as they’re bending down to reach the food, their necks are giving you a massage. There’s a feeding frenzy and food disappears quickly. If you’ve ever had a therapeutic massage where they pound their fists on you, that’s the kind of massage you’re getting. It feels like an arm with feathers against your neck.”


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In between rides with Renedian Adventures, John’s got other destinations in mind. He’s still working three days a week in his dental practice but he’d like to take a bit of time off and ride either to Alaska or Newfoundland. He’s never been to either place.


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“I’d also like to do the Waterfalls and Wildlife or Spectacular South West Africa again but this time from Cape Town to Windhoek. You can take the same road but the scenery’s different when you ride it in a different direction,” he notes. “It always seems longer when you’re going somewhere and quicker when you’re coming back. You’ll always live longer if you’re going someplace, especially if it’s somewhere you haven’t been before.”

Photo credits: John Marcassa