SOAKING UP THE EXPERIENCE: Presenters Valiant Swart and Denvor Phokaners arent just about the journey, they are loving the adventure in SABC2s new travel reality series, Mooiloop!

With music as a common interest, it has certainly made the teaming up of Valiant Swart and Denvor Phokaners an easier partnership for SABC2’s new 26-part travel reality series, Mooiloop! Debashine Thangevelo found out how their off-the-beaten-track road trip has been going…

VALIANT SWART

IN his 24 years in the entertainment industry as a poet, songwriter, singer, composer and guitar player, Swart, 47, also explored television as a presenter for kykNET’s docu- mentary, Veertig Dae Deur Die Delta (Forty Days Through the Delta) and in the drama, Song vir Katryn.

On being approached to co-present Mooiloop! with Denvor Phokaners, he says: “The way these things normally happen, it was a phone call out of the blue. I was really happy to get the offer and agreed immediately. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been involved with several pitches and pilots for similar productions, but nothing materialised. SABC2 came through at exactly the right time.”

And he is having fun with his travelling partner in their cultural explorations.

Swart says: “I only met Denvor at his screen test and we clicked immediately. He’s a great guy: lively, funny, intelligent and totally high on life. We became firm friends in a very short space of time. And it helps that he doesn’t mind jumping out of planes and off bridges – I don’t do heights.”

Mooiloop! explores small towns dotted all over South Africa and will be taking Pasella’s timeslot until its return.

“But it has interesting people, big hearts and cool activities,” he says.

Swart confirms they will probably only finish filming and travelling by October.

While spoilt for choice on sharing his unforgettable moments to date, the presenter shares: “It’s difficult to single one or two out because we have so many good people who do exceptional things. At the same time, I had some really wacky experiences in just about every town we visited. I ate a sheep’s head in Schonkenville, Parys. It was prepared by the sweet- est women imaginable. And I’ve met some really poor people who go out of their way to better the lives of others in their communities. Touching stuff around every corner, if you care to look.”

A buff when it comes to travel shows, he says a crucial element is having “a fine balance between being informative and entertaining”.

He continues: “To me, it’s the same as making music – if I enjoy the music I make, the audience will enjoy it with me.”

Interestingly, Swart also com- posed and recorded the theme music for this travel series.

On the anchor of this show, he motivates: “We visit people from all walks of life and in a way we hold up a mirror for viewers. We show South Africans as we really are: fun-loving, warm-hearted, caring, and, sometimes, completely nuts.”

DENVOR PHOKANERS

A BUSINESSMAN as well as a singer-songwriter, Phokaners’ more notable exploits in the TV realm were back in 2010 when he was a business mentor and judge in SABC1’s Rize Mzansi, a reality competition for entrepreneurial companies.

“More than 10 years ago, I did a travel programme called The Singing Buffalo. It was a 12-episode show for SABC2 and was anchored by South African actress Angela Killian.

“In my other life, I have also done some business programmes and I played Gershwin D Fortune in Colour TV on SABC2.”

Of his new role, he says: “I love the medium. It is going to be a new challenge and adventure. ‘Travel’ and ‘adventure’ are magic words for me. Combine those two and I am ready to go – that is what attracted me to the show. I love travelling and I have travelled a lot internationally.

“But there is something special about our country. I am the kind of person you can give 30 minutes to get ready to go to the Amazon jungle.”

On being partnered with Swart, he praises him: “Valiant is a legend. He entertains us with lots and lots of stories from his experiences on the road as a musician.

“It’s so funny because everywhere we go in these small towns, you always hear someone shouting: “Jinx, Jinx”, referring to his character in Song vir Katryn. But he is a total gentleman and a consummate professional. I am learning so much from him.”

As for who brings what to the table, he laughs: “Valiant might be a rock star but he is poep scared of heights. He suffers from vertigo in a very bad way. I am the adventurer. From a travel perspective, I think it works very well. They get me to do things that would frighten the life out of him.”

A highlight for Phokaners was jumping out of an aeroplane.

“I have never walked into a crocodile enclosure with crocs only a metre away. And I did on the show. So far my highlight has been the town of Riebeek Kasteel in the Western Cape. I have totally fallen in love with the town. If I could, I would move there tomorrow. Visiting with the South African music legend Anton Goosen was a big highlight for me. I grew up with his music. At the age of 10, his concert was the very first rock concert I went to. I regard him as South Africa’s Bob Dylan.”

A madcap adventure to inter- esting nooks and crannies in the South Africa landscape, where culture, heart, lifestyle, cuisine and music overlap to create a beautiful, warm and vibrant environment in these hidden gems, is exactly what Swart and Phokaners unearth in this travelogue.

• Mooiloop! airs on SABC2 on Wednesdays at 7.30pm.