Nitro can go off road but may be too stylish


first_imgAnd I sure wouldn’t want to scuff up the eye-catching Inferno Red Crystal Pearl Coat, either. This is a midsized SUV, a first for Dodge, that’s probably best suited for navigating the suspension-rattling potholes endemic to Los Angeles. There is also enough road clearance for fording those temporary winter streams some of our roads and streets become. And with its flared fenders and high-line styling cues (think a scaled down Hummer or Land Rover), this midsized SUV makes a stylish statement. New for 2007, the truck shares Jeep’s lineage, which shouldn’t be surprising. By Gregory J. Wilcox STAFF WRITER The 2007 Dodge Nitro looks buff enough on the outside for some serious off-roading and is a pussycat on the inside. I don’t know how well-suited for the former the Nitro is because I certainly would not want to get in the dirt with the 20-inch chrome wheels that are standard on the model we tested. “The 2007 Dodge Nitro is going to heat up the midsize SUV market by giving consumers a quality vehicle with masculine good looks, exceptional performance, unsurpassed utility and features that will surprise and delight,” said a statement from George Murphy, senior vice president of global marketing for Chrysler Group. It’s too soon to address the quality issue. But it looks as though the Nitro could live up to some of those other boasts. It’s definitely an eye-pleasing, macho ride. Dodge attributes the masculine appearance to a number of elements. They include the signature Dodge crosshair grille with its three-dimensional ram’s head, those prominent fender flares and good body size. The latter is not overdone, and I could park the Dodge in the family garage without rearranging any of the clutter. (I couldn’t do that with several other test vehicles.) These design elements even carry over to the mirrors and door handles. Designers also pushed the Nitro’s wheels to the corners. This reinforces performance and off-highway capabilities. Drive Time had the R/T 4×4 model with a 4.0 liter, V6 single overhead cam engine. It definitely provides lots of pep and seemed to want to jump away from stoplights and stop signs. There is lots of space inside, too. The rear seats fold down in 60/40 fashion. The leather trimmed seats are comfortable and the cabin featured a six-speaker sound system with a subwoofer and rear seat video system and a gaming system. Nitro features a thick, comfortable four-spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel and the dash has a three-pod, four-gauge instrument panel. These are black with gray and white graphics and orange pointers. There are many places for stuff, too. The center console has room for hand-held PDAs, cell phones or coins; there are driver- and passenger-side door compartments; and a map pocket behind the driver’s seat. What Dodge calls the Load ‘N Go floor is also new, and you wonder why somebody didn’t think of it before. It’s a sliding rear floor panel that holds up to 400 pounds and makes loading and unloading cargo an easier task. The leather-trimmed seats are comfortable and the cabin also featured a six-speaker sound system with a subwoofer and rear seat video system and a gaming system. In addition to Dodge Nitro R/T, the two other models offered in the U.S. are the Dodge Nitro SXT and Dodge Nitro SLT. And this is a fairly affordable ride. “What might end up surprising people and finally sealing the deal is that it’s a great truck to drive, particularly in an urban setting; that it sports a stylish, roomy and comfortable interior; and that it blows most of the competition away when it comes to power-to-price ratio,” concluded the Web site Automobile.com. Drive Time agrees. [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Abseiling & rapp jumping in SA


first_imgIt’s only recently that abseiling has become an activity in its own right. Really it’s just the method climbers use to get off mountains – or special services forces use to descend deserted buildings into enemy territory in adventure movies – but it’s fun, and so it’s become available as an activity in its own right.You can hang out high over Cape Town abseiling from Table Mountain. The “long drop” is 112m high – and about a kilometre above the city – making it the world’s highest commercial abseil.Bungee jumpingWeehah! South Africa has the second highest commercial bungee jump in the world – it’s official. There are three abseil routes on the spectacular western head at Knysna, further up the Cape east coast – including a really high, very exposed site hanging right out over the crashing waves.Not far from Knysna, and also with fantastic views, you can do a combination abseiling and kloofing (canyoning) trip down the Storms River Gorge, which involves a 100m abseil into the gorge, a tubing trip down the river, a short walk out of the gorge and then a cycle back to the village.You can abseil down buildings in Durban and Johannesburg, or even rapp jump if you like. Rapp jumping is abseiling with the ropes attached to your back instead of your front, so you go down facing the ground – and at a run, if you’re in a hurry.To find out more about the above abseils, and a whole lot of others around the country, check out our list of abseil operators – most of whom offer plenty of adventure activities besides.ABSEILING, RAPP JUMPING OPERATORSAbseil Africa offers abseiling off Table Mountain, including a 112-metre controlled descent off the famous landmark, and Kamikaze Kanyon, which features a 65-metre cascade of water. Other options include the Table Mountain Summit Walk and team building.Adventure Realm is a company based in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. It caters to individuals, small groups, scholars, corporates and intrepid travellers. Among the offerings are rapp jumping, scuba diving, 4×4 driving, quad biking, orienteering, archery, rock climbing, paintball, white water rafting, horse riding, offroad buggy driving, and sailing. Rapp jumping opportunities are available in both Durban and Johannesburg.Ashanti Travel Centre and Lodge has a nice selection of adventure activities. They include abseiling on Table Mountain and kloofing in Kamikaze Kanyon. Other activities on offer are diving with Great White Sharks, hiking and sleeping on Table Mountain, downhill mountain biking, paragliding, sandboarding, scuba diving, sky diving, and surfing.Ceres Zip Slide Tours presents 1.4 kilometres of zip line fun, with eight slides of between 100 and 290 metres. The action takes place in the Schurweberg Mountains, below the Koekedouw Dam, in Ceres, a 90 minute drive from Cape Town.Downhill Adventures offers a 112-metre controlled abseil descent off Table Mountain. It’s the world highest commercial abseil and it features stunning views of one of the world’s most beautiful cities.Eden Adventures offers kloofing, abseiling and a combination of both in the beautiful Kaaimans Gorge on the magnificent Garden Route. Another option is abseiling at Robberg in Plettenberg Bay, another spectacular site.Extreme Scene is an adventure tour operator based in Cape Town. They offer kloofing in the Kamikaze Canyon and abseiling down the 65-metre high Thunder Falls.GoVertical Mountaineering Adventures offers some exciting options, including abseiling in the Magaliesberg and near the Hartebeespoort Dam, rock climbing in the Magaliesberg and at Eagles Rock near Harrismith. They lead tours in the Drakensberg and to Mount Kilimanjaro (the highest mountain in Africa), as well as offering mountaineering in the Drakensberg. Other activities include trekking, kloofing, and caving.The Oribi Gorge Hotel, Conference and Adventure Resort presents a number of adrenaline-filled activities, including white water rafting, the wild slide, the wild swing, hiking and bike trails, and abseiling. The abseiling includes the highest natural abseil in the world at 110 metres. It’s an experience for the adventurous and the brave.Outsidedge operates in and around Gauteng and the North West Province. The list of activities on offer includes abseiling, rock climibg and kloofing. Abseiling takes place at Broederstroom and is appropriate for anyone, even those with no experience.Over the Top Adventures offers abseiling at the Howick Falls, the second highest waterfall in South Africa at 107 metres in height. The abseil takes place next to the thundering falls and you’re met at the bottom by an inflatable two-man kayak. Over the Top also presents rock climbing, hiking, rapp jumping, white water rafting, and team building.Perlemoen Escapes offers various tours, including for golf, game and bird viewing, leisure/health and hydro, and extreme sports. The extreme sports options include bungee jumping, rafting, abseiling, kite surfing, surfing, and sky diving. The bungee jumping takes place from the Bloukrans Bridge over the Storms River, the highest commercial bungee jump in the world.Purerush Industries, based in Johannesburg, offer something different. Rapp jumping takes place at the massive Orlando Towers in Soweto, while they also offer freebording which, they say is like snowboarding on the street; street luge and butt boarding; mountain boarding; sandboarding; and adventure trips of up to four days in duration.Operating in the beautiful Southern Cape, Quad Biking Adventures offers combos that also feature abseiling next to the Kaaimans Waterfall, canoeing on the Kaaimans River, and kloofing.Roc ‘n Rope Adventures is based in Waterval Boven in the Mpumalanga Highlands. It’s an awesome place for rock climbers and recognised as one of the best rocking climbing destinations in South Africa. Roc ‘n Rope also offers abseiling, mountain biking, fly fishing, and horse riding. In addition, they present a good number of rock climbing and abseiling courses.The Simonskloof Mountain Retreat features kloofing and abseiling in the Nuy River Gorge. Rafting and boulder-hopping are also on the menu. Small groups, consisting of six to eight members are hosted, for anywhere from one-day to two-and-a-half day adventures.Sabie Backpackers and Extreme Adventures is located in Sabie in Mpumalanga. For those in need of an adrenaline injection, they offer the Big Swing, abseilling and repelling into the Sabie Falls.Spirit of Adventure is located midway between Durban and Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal at the Shongweni Dam. A wide range of outdoor activities is guaranteed to get the adrenaline pumping, including abseiling, rap jumping, rock climbing, white water rafting, guided mountain bike rides, game walks and drives, hiking, rafting, canoeing, 4×4, and an assault course.Stormsriver Adventures is an adventure company that places a premium on enriching the environment and the communities in the areas in which it operates. They offer a unique eco-wilderness adventure with the Tsitsikamma Canopy Tours that takes place in the Tsitsikamma indigenous rainforest. It involves travsering from one platform to another along a steel cable suspended 30 metres above the forest. Most of the platforms are located in giant Yellowwood trees.Unreal, based at Sun City, features the ZIP Slide 2000. It is the world’s longest, highest, and fastest zip slide. Measuring 2 000 metres in length, it is 280 metres high, and the average speed attained is 120 km/h! A BIG adrenaline rush!Wild Cave Adventures are based in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage area. They offer a tantalising mix of options, including abseiling, caving, rock climbing, mountaineering, wild caving, trekking, kloofing, and teambuilding. Besides abseiling at the Cradle of Humankind, excursions are also undertaken to the Swartberg Mountains and the Magaliesberg.SAinfo reporter and South African TourismWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Mopane worms to alleviate hunger


first_imgRay Maota Dried mopane worms are sold at a market. (Image: Mira Terra Images) The Kruger National Park is home to  theblack rhino, which is distinguished fromthe white rhino by its pointy upper lip. (Image: Goallover.org) MEDIA CONTACTS • William Mabasa Head of Public Relations and Communications +27 13 735 4363 RELATED ARTICLES • Going wild over indigenous silk • Kruger Park marks 110 years • Black rhinos return to Serengeti • Wildlife poachers to be taken downThe Kruger National Park is allowing locals in the area to harvest mopane worms during the festive season as part of a poverty and hunger alleviation pilot project. Mopane worms are a local delicacy in the northern region of South Africa.The locals of the Nxanatseni region of the park between Punda Maria and Phalaborwa in Limpopo have been given permits to harvest the worms between 15 December and 28 December 2010, for their own consumption.Situated in the east of the country, the Kruger Park is part of the portfolio of South African National Parks (Sanparks), which manages a system of parks representing South Africa’s indigenous fauna, flora, landscapes and associated cultural heritage.Sustainable harvesting of wormsThe pilot project will be monitored closely to assess its impact and prevent over-harvesting.William Mabasa, the Kruger’s head of public relations and communications, said: “With high unemployment levels in the rural communities outside the park around the harvesting area, we want to contribute positively towards the wellbeing and livelihoods of families, especially during Christmas time.”Mabasa said that many people in Limpopo province and elsewhere in the country eat mopane worms, as they’re an important source of protein.“Scientists will monitor the ecological, social and economic impact of the harvesting process before, during and after the project has taken place to ensure that it does not negatively affect the ecosystem,” he added.Rangers from the park will escort the 60 selected harvesters to the harvest area and guard them throughout the project.Mabasa said, “The harvesters will be divided into six groups of 10 people each, with each group being accompanied to the harvesting zone by a ranger and guide who will protect them against attacks from animals.”Sanparks is associated with tourism and recreation, spiritual experiences, employment and business opportunities. The mopane worm harvesting project is meant to extend these benefits to include sustainable utilisation of natural resources – one of the parks authority’s key policies.Local delicacyInsects form part of people’s diets throughout the world and in South Africa, the mopane worm (Imbrassia belina) is a delicacy amongst many people in the northern region of the country.Mopane worms are actually large caterpillars that feed on the mopane tree (Colophospermum mopane), which grows in Southern Africa’s drier semi-desert, bushveld and grassland areas.The worms are known as mashonzha, masonja or amasonja among the locals and form part of a multi-million rand trade in edible insects, providing a livelihood for many harvesters, traders and their families.Although they usually feed on the mopane tree, their diet can include leaves of many other indigenous trees. This gives the worms a wider range than just the regions where mopane trees grow. Besides humans, the worms and eggs are vulnerable to disease and consumption by birds.Traditionally the worms were harvested for subsistence but harvesting has become more commercially driven. Because people want to cash in on the lucrative mopane worm business, over-harvesting in one season can lead to a smaller harvest in the next.Mopane worms are preserved by drying in the sun or smoking to add more flavour. They are eaten in the dried state or may be soaked until rehydrated, before being fried to a crunchy texture.South Africa’s premier game parkThe Kruger National Park is South Africa’s premier game park and boasts a variety of species, including 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals.The park was established in 1898, initially to control hunting and protect the diminishing number of animals, and is the largest game reserve in South Africa. Covering almost 19 000 square kilometres, it’s comparable in size to the entire country of Wales.The Kruger is now a part of the 35 000 square kilometre Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a peace park with no internal borders that joins the Kruger to Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park and the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique.Although wildlife is its drawcard, its boundaries also encompass over 255 historical and cultural sites, with more yet to be explored.Other national parks managed by Sanparks are: Groenkloof, Table Mountain, Marakele, Golden Gate, Camdeboo, Mountain Zebra, Addo Elephant, Garden Route National Park, Bontebok, Agulhas, West Coast, Karoo, Namaqua, Richtersveld, Augrabies, Kgalagadi, Mapungubwe, and Tankwa Karoo.last_img read more

South African-built drone to fly in 2012


first_img16 August 2011The Seeker 400 prototype, a South African designed and built unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone, is due to make its maiden flight in the first quarter of 2012, says local defence company Denel Dynamics.UAVs can be used for national security, crime fighting, disaster management, election monitoring, and search-and-rescue operations.According to Denel UAV executive manager Tshepo Monaheng, the company’s decision to invest in the UAV, which is funded from its balance sheet, was based on global requirements for such capability.Israel and the US dominate in the global market which is estimated at US$14-billion per annum, however there is scope for South Africa to use local skills to create UAVs.Denel Dynamics is a division within the Denel Group with its core business covering tactical missiles, precision-guided weapons and unmanned aerial vehicles.Deployable in most conditionsDenel said the Seeker 400, which is deployable in most conditions, is larger and has more capabilities than the previous Seeker II. It is capable of staying in the air for 16 hours and can simultaneously operate two payloads. It has a range of 250km, but with the use of tactical ground stations, this can be extended to 750km.“There is already a launch customer for the Seeker 400, who operated the Seeker I tactical UAV in the early 1990s,” Denel said. “Two other countries, which currently operate the Seeker II, are also interested in the Seeker 400 because the new aircraft can be controlled by simply using their existing Seeker II control stations.”The Seeker 400 flight test programme will run for most of 2012, with production expected to start by the end of 2012. It is planned that weapons be added to the aircraft, with several countries having already expressed interest in an armed version of the UAV.“Globally, UAVs are becoming ever more important and more widely used,” Denel said. “Although costs are coming down, UAVs are not necessarily cheaper or easier to operate than crewed aircraft – some top-of-the-range UAVs are very expensive.”But the fact that they have no human on board means they can be sent into high-risk environments and can be kept aloft much longer than conventional aircraft, Denel added.Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

Joint India-Japan military exercise in Mizoram


first_imgA 25-member team of the Japanese Ground Self-Defence Forces is scheduled to undergo a joint military exercise with Indian Army soldiers at the Counter-Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School in Mizoram’s Vairengte from October 19 to November 2.The aim of the exercise is to share experience gained during various counter-terrorism operations in the respective countries, Defence spokesperson Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh said on Tuesday.The joint exercise is under the Army’s annual Dharma Guardian training programme. The scope of the exercise will cover platoon-level joint training on counter-terrorism operations in jungle and urban scenarios, he said.“Dharma Guardian is a series of military training exercises undertaken by India with various countries. The exercise with Japan is crucial and significant in terms of security challenges faced by both nations in the backdrop of global terrorism,” Wing Commander Singh said.last_img read more