His trademark silver-grey beard, dark sunglasses and booming but warm voice make him one of the recognisable faces on the small screen. Johan Badenhorst is an expedition leader and narrator of Voetspore, an adventure series.
Last Sunday’s edition explains why the Afrikaans-medium travel show is arguably the most popular on SABC channels. And one doesn’t have to understand the language to enjoy this programme.
Although it has subtitles, its strength is not in the script. It is in scenic images and encounters with people from different cultural backgrounds.
In the previous episode, Badenhorst and his team of explorers travelled to Namibia - a country known for its rolling desert sand dunes, windswept Atlantic beaches and diverse wildlife.
Their experiences at the Etosha National Park revealed the rich diversity of the country’s fauna and flora as well as the friendly hospitality of local Herero people.
In the special series Voetspore Reünie, 12 adventurers who have featured on the show in the past 17 years reunite to reminisce and reflect on their past travel experiences. They remembered with fondness and nostalgia some of the colourful and memorable characters they have encountered during their travels.
It was also a time for a get-together over fine food and wonderful wine.
The 12 adventurers who honoured the reunion were William Warren, André Bester, Nobert Coetzee, Gideon du Preez Swart, Lourens Human, Rey Janse van Rensburg, Francois Marais, Stefan Sonnekus, Pierre van Heerden, Simon Wearne, Badenhorst himself and his son, Streicher.
Badenhorst junior had been with the team since the age of nine until 16, when he had to respond to the demands of university education.
In his diaries, Badenhorst records that the Nelson Mandela factor has also helped to soften attitudes among hostile villagers and local authorities.
“The old man made it possible for us to travel the continent with the blessing of the local people. This had been the case over the past 150 000km,” he wrote.
* Voetspore Reünie airs on SABC2 on Sundays at 7pm.