I have been a committed environmentalist for most of my adult life and a sometime entrepreneur. Those convictions were also responsible for me being a co-founder of ecoafrica.com – an inbound ecotourism website – way back in 1995 (other web properties included krugersafari.com and krugerpark.com). Ecoafrica and the web properties were sold during and before 2009 and it has been sad to see some of them disappear recently. Originally I graduated with a degree in electronic engineering from Stellenbosch in 1979 and followed it up with an MBA in 1994. I am something of a permanent student, so in line with my “green” interests completed an MPhil in Environmental Management in 2004 and a BPhil in Renewable and Sustainable Energy at Stellenbosch’s Sustainability Institute in 2009. My personal philosophy is outlined here.
I was employed by Stellenbosch University‘s IT division as Director: Institutional Software Solutions. My role entailed technical responsibility for the design, development, procurement and maintenance of institutional (large) software solutions and information systems. My 35-year career at the university came to an end upon retirement in 2022.
As I entered what I call the “community phase” of life, I joined Jonkershoek Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS) as a volunteer wildfire-fighter, but resigned after 5 years’ service. A lifelong love of hiking and mountains led me to become a member of the Stellenbosch section of the Mountain Club of SA .
I am married to Marion who hails from the Koo, and we have been blessed with two lovely daughters, Leigh and Heather, and now, two grandchildren so far. Leisure time is spent windsurfing, reading, travelling, sea kayaking, cycle touring and hiking. The university has generous leave conditions and I work hard at exploiting them optimally. My motto for this phase of my life is: ¨Play hard, work smart¨.
My father, Felix Pina, was Dutch, from Wassenaar. He emigrated here with his parents and brothers after WWII and settled at Koelenhof near Stellenbosch. There was a romantic theory that we are the descendants of Sephardic Jews, but my brother’s recent research into the roots of the Pina family indicates that we descend from French Huguenots who fled to the Low Countries. My mom, Cynthia Pina (Visser), was a Capetonian through and through and I was born on the slopes of Table Mountain as well, but lived most of my adult life in Stellenbosch, before retiring to Rooiels on the Kogelberg coast.
I am a football fanatic. World Cup 2010 was an absolute highlight, a spectacular and uplifting experience. I played competitively for almost 30 years, and coached too. I have always followed Ajax Amsterdam, Oranje and FC Barcelona – it’s a football philosophy thing.
I would have loved to have been a virtuoso jazz pianist – or a rock star – but sadly the love of music was never matched by raw talent. So although I took piano lessons in my mid-thirties for three years, I ended up frustrating myself no end. There has been a recent, enjoyable re-acquaintance with the guitar, however.
Above Kasteelspoort, Table Mountain (photo by Peter Groves)
visited 29 states (12.8%)
November 1999 This trail represented a reunion of sorts for those who had walked the Tsitsikamma Trail. Unfortunately, the whole group couldn't make it, but Watty, Peter, Big Ron, Charlotte, Lorette and Nico did. Boosmansbos Nature Reserve straddles the Langeberg...
Northern Kruger Park: July 1999 The Nyalaland was our first Kruger wilderness trail (FAQ). It's one of the less popular trails in Kruger, but it has a special place in our hearts. Some low-res photos follow...
June 1999 The Cederberg is probably my favourite wilderness area. Little can compare to the remoteness, the silence and timelessness of those mountains. Ron and I resolved to tackle one of the classic wilderness routes - Algeria to Wuppertal, by way of Crystal...
30 April to 5 May 1999 The night before the hike proper was spent in Kalander Hut, within the De Vasselot area of the Tsitsikamma National Park, on the bank of the Groot River. It was a dark night, punctuated by plenty of snoring and characterised by awkward...