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Playing with Penguins,

2012-01-16_simonstown (29).JPGSimons Town Sunset
Whether it is the African Penguins that take over the path on our morning runs, or the playful seals that pop out of the water to say hello at breakfast time – Simons Town is full of wildlife and natural beauty!
PACHAMAMA, docked at False Bay Yacht Club, is surrounded by stunning hillside which makes sunset and sunrise quite spectacular. Simons Town is also the Naval Base for South Africa, and during WW2 over 300 boats were repaired here. The perfect spot to fix up Pachamama for the next Atlantic crossing!
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Thank you so much Robert and Humphrey to mashine the part for Pachamama’s steering system!!
Life has been both hectic and exciting for the TOPtoTOP crew here in Simons Town. Here, the Schwoerer family is joined once again with TOPtoTOP supporter Anne-Marie and film-maker Jacqui!
On the 8th, Kirsten, a new friend of TOPtoTOP took the entire family on a drive to the Cape Point. There, we went walking to see the cliff face and hiked to “Cape of Good Hope” ~ the most south-western point of the African Continent.
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Salina was very amused by the little creatures with scrambled up the hillside ~ called a “Rock Dassie”, similar to huge guinea pig. Andri also spotted a humungous ostrich on the water front!
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On the top of Cape Point, there was a sign showing the distance to other cities around the world – here we could see our next destination, Rio, “only” 6055 km to go! It is after 7 years and 7 months Pachamama sails again in Atlantic waters!
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The next day, Anne-Marie (a Biologist & Zoologist) and Jacqui had an incredible time together on a speedboat to visit the nearby “seal island” – both absolutely fascinated and in love with the adorable animals. Here on the island the seals are safe from the hungry Great White Sharks! The record number of Great White Sharks seen in the bay during their feeding season is over 60! This made some people on the small rubber dingy quite nervous…
A big thankyou to Swiss General Consul Irene Flueckiger for visiting us on PACHAMAMA! 🙂 View image
Dario has also had a great time exploring Cape Town – firstly by climbing (literally) to the top of Table Mountain! – Thank you so much Riaan and Louis to be my climbing partners this days and become my friends, Dario!
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Also a quick thank-you to our wonderful new friends who invited us all onboard their Yacht Panacea for Dinner!! Thanks Agnes and Bertil! View image
Then it was time to have some family time for the Schwoerers and adventure time for Jacqui and Annemarie!
The family enjoyed wonderful hikes in the national park of Jonkershoek. There they met Guy Palmer THE expert of biodiversity at the Jonkershoek Scientific Services: He confirmed that the climate is also changing here. The rain patterns have changed what has an impact to the flora. See their website Cape Nature (www.capenature.co.za) to learn more. Read more about the unique flora from Annemarie’s report. Finally we like to thank John & Lizelle from Strand and Rene Buetzer from the Swiss Club in Cape Town to make this days a highlight in our expedition.
Jacqui spent her time on the western coast, in Laangeban, playing with the wonderful crew at windchasers!
The wonderful thing about TOPtoTOP is that even after PACHAMAMA has left the shores or the family and their entourage has hiked to the next town or country or city, the impact they leave behind is immense. TOPtoTOP is sustainable and ongoing action – this was best highlighted with these pictures we received from the school TOPtoTOP visited in 2010 in Pangbouche, Nepal!
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Since their visit to Nepal, TOPtoTOP asked their dedicated supporters to try and find some schooling materials for the local primary school. The reply was fantastic, and the small community from Yankallila, South Australia, managed to send over plenty of school books to help the students with their education! Many thanks to our TOPtoTOP coordinator in Australia “Hanna” and the Rotary Club of Yankallila for your effort to make a change!
Everyone was so proud to see the familiar children better equipped for the future.
THANKYOU YANKALILLA!
Meanwhile there was also an amazing clean up happening in Port Louis; Mauritius:
Here is what TOPtoTOP Mauritius shared with us:
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“Nature was on our side Sunday morning for we were blessed with a bright sun and glorious weather as we started up the Montagne des Signaux. This time our team had grown to 11 and we happily trudged our way up the side of the Mountain, whilst enjoying the view of the city of Port Louis on our right. We could also see the whole northern part of the island, up to Gunners Coin, Flat Island, Ile aux Serpents and Ile Ronde.
The very act of ascending the mountain and watching Port Louis shrink gradually was a liberating one, for we felt that we were leaving our daily worries and routines behind us, back in the city…and that with each step we took we felt lighter and happier. We came across a few persons engaged in their daily walk. Although the mountain side is quite bare, we did find beauty in its flowers and birds!
We arrived at the top of the Montagne des Signaux after 1h30 minutes and spent some time enjoying the view of the North West and West coast of Mauritius. For some members who did the climb after a very long time or the first time, it was fun trying to recognise buildings and places amidst the fast changing scenery of our Capital and its surrounding towns and villages.
Now the Montagne des Signaux is cleaned from Monday to Friday by Government authorities, and we were not expecting to find a lot of waste along our way. To our surprise, we gathered 3 bags of plastic waste at the top itself, after having filled the two available bins. And 4 more bags on our way down! Could you imagine creation of so much waste in just two days time??? Montagne des Signaux is a favorite spot for fit people who love to run or walk up the mountain, and is yet still filled with so much litter!
Jordy, one of our volunteers wished to appeal to people to be more careful about the way they treat our environment: “Please do not forget you can be an example to your family and friends, so try to keep the mountain clean by bringing your litter down”. Our youngest volunteers of the day were Jordy, David, Ruvin and Jude. They were so energetic and eager during the clean up and we look forward to having more youngsters like them with us for our clean ups!
We are very happy to start 2012 in this spirit and look forward to creating mere awareness about TOPtoTOP as we move forward!”
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TOPtoTOP is also featuring on the UNFCCC website, which you can see here;
http://unfccc.int/meetings/durban_nov_2011/items/6531.php
or directly viewed here;
http://www.rtcc.org/climate-change-tv/unfccc-videos/dario-schworer-top-to-top-climate-expedition/
This expedition report is going to finish with a wonderful message that we found ;
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“We have to stop speaking about the Earth being in need of healing. The Earth does not need healing. We do. Our task is to rediscover ourselves in Nature. It is an individual choice. And now on where do we begin?
We begin exactly where we are right now when we look at the world as a mirror when we discover that our sense of freedom and authenticity is linked to the well being and authenticity of others… and that includes the animals, the trees and the land.”
~ Botanial Gardens, Capetown.

Piton de la petite Riviére Noire

Top to top organised again a great trip in Mauritius. This time we headed to the highest peak on the island, Piton de la petite Riviére Noire. We were 25 people leaving the harbour early in the morning.
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The general manager for White Sand Tours Asraf Khodabux orginased a bus for us. Our driver Niraj Gungoo took us throw the beautiful National Park where we started our hike. The group was a great mix of different ages and nationalities. The youngest was only 4 months old! Half of the group was from Mauritius and the other half was sailers from Canada, Estonia, France, Australia and Sweden.
The hike up was beautiful and the ones that did not fear the last steep part of the hike got to enjoy the amazing view from the top. About 828 meters over sealevel. Niraj Gungoo told us about what we could see from the top and some intresting history about Mauritius.
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After many photos and some food we returned down picking about 8 bags of rubbish on the hike down.
After a nice mountain our driver took us to a beautiful beach in Riviére Noire. The children were swimming and luckely there was one place open for some food and snacks even that it was a Sunday.
Late in the afternoon this mixed group of people that now knew eachother a little bit better returned to Port Louise. Tired and happy!
Thank you everyone that organised this day. A big thank you to Dario and Sabine and also to Asref and Niraj. I also want to give a thank you to the mauritian people that were our local guides and showed us their beautiful country!

new videos from the Indian Ocean Crossing

We’ve had a busy couple of months in the Indian Ocean and have several videos to share:

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clean up le pouce

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Hello, my name is Gillen. I live on a catamaran called Chaotic Harmony and we are sailing around the world for now. I come from Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia.
We first met the family of Dario, Sabine, Salina, Andri and Noe from Top to Top at Langkawi in Malaysia in November 2010 but since then they have a new baby girl called Alegra. They were visiting schools to tell the dangers of plastic in the water and how it affects the turtles and sea life and collecting the beach rubbish. The kids like to come to my boat to watch DVD’s and play games.
We met up with ìTop to Topî again at Rodriguez Island in the Indian Ocean and again a few days later at Mauritius where we currently are berthed in a marina together at Port Louis.
Dario asked our family if we wanted to climb a mountain with him and his family on Mauritius and Celesta from Sogno Díazul and on Thursday the 22nd September 2011 I climbed my first mountain all the way to the sumit. The mountain is called Mount Le Pouce which means “The Thumb”. My family stayed on our boat and did some jobs that needed to be done like the dishes.
Most of the mountain is just walking until we got near the summit where we had to start climbing. The paths are very wide until about half way when they got narrower and became one person only so we had to walk in line. We saw a very important message on the way up!
On the way back down we took out garbage bags and collected as much rubbish as we could. Plastic water bottles, chip packets, paper and tissues were the main bits of rubbish. We got about 5 bags of rubbish from the one trail down.
When we got to a clearing at about the third the way up we went down a different path which took us on a winding trail of thick, dense jungle and eventually led to a place that looks like the Australian bush with eucalyptus and acacia trees.
We walked about 4 kilometers down and through the foothills until we reached the edge of the city and then we got a taxi cab back to the boats at the marina. Selina and Andri fell asleep as we were all very tired from walking and picking up other peoples rubbish.
It was a great day and even the taxi driver that took us to the start of the trail climbed with us all the way. We ate lunch at the summit and even saw about 8 monkeys but they did not get my apple core. I shared my chocolate with Selina and Andri and the taxi driver.
When I got home my feet were white from being wet from the wet grass and I have two big blisters but it was still good fun but tiring so today I am resting.
I think the Top to Top expedition is great and people should not litter our world.
This is Gillen signing off. Over and Out.
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