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Prince Albert Microadventures

Review by Bokkie Botha, first published in the Prince Albert Friend

On the back cover of the book it says, “Micro adventures are for everyone – young and old, tall or small, fit or funky. Pull up your socks and get out of your comfort zone. Discover gorgeous views and endless vistas; feel the silence, listen to the wind and greet the sun. Meet the tortoise and the kudu. Connect with nature and your inner adventurer; open your eyes & meet the people – have loads of fun!”

And that is exactly what this fascinating book is all about. Every page of Microadventures contains valuable information which deserves to be read, from the dedication right through to the Table of Contents on page 165. It’s a book to dip into or read straight through, enjoying good vibes along the way. Micro adventures is also a book of good advice for new or seasoned adventurers. Chapter headings give the clues: for example, There’s No Shame in Pushing, Prince Albert, The Elements, Respect and Responsibilities, Leaving behind More than Footprints, and many more.

Local Prince Albert adventurers have contributed short personal insights on their explorations. These represent all parts of the community including historical, botanical, photographic, and physical experiences.

Geographically, the book encompasses local areas as well as casting its sights on wider locations. Steffi Rohrbach, who wrote and prepared the book, is herself a macro adventurer. She has travelled all the routes and had all the adventures described. The book is filled with maps, and, where helpful, elevations. The fine drawings and many photographs show the jagged, rugged mountains, wind pumps and wide open spaces, as well as many of the young and older people in the community. There are useful addresses, telephone numbers, and web sites. Every chapter has signposts to further information and where booklets may be bought. Trail runs, cycling tours and events, hiking, stargazing, ghost walks, support for local institutions, food, restaurants, cooking lessons, and more, are covered, without ever falling into the information overload trap.

Two quotes to give a ‘feel’ for the writing:

“Tortoises normally know exactly where they’re going and don’t like to change direction. Unless they’re crossing a very busy road and are in acute danger of being run over, don’t pick them up. They’ll most likely pee on you, which is not only unpleasant, but puts them in the danger of dehydrating.”“Kudu: when watching these antelopes move, full of grace and almost silently, you’ll quickly understand why collectively they’re called a ’ghost of kudu’.” First published in the Prince Albert Friend

This ”Great Little Book of Prince Albert MicroAdventures” by Steffi Rohrbach provides an in depth insight into the wide variety of the activities available in Prince Albert and its surrounding area.  Ranging from many varied attractions in the village to hiking trails and cycle routes (both easy and more demanding) the book demonstrates the type of activities available for both young and older adventurers.  Steffi has researched each and every one of these attractions and this is a guide which is well worth purchasing in order to obtain the maximum out of your stay in Prince Albert – whether of a short or longer duration. Highly recommended for those who enjoy getting out and about and meeting new interesting folk and exploring new vistas in the Karoo.  Alan Tonkin – De Rust Heritage  Find it here on the de Rust Heritage website.

I actually don’t have the right words to tell how impressed I am with your book. I think it is just perfect, thick enough thin enough, like the tone and just everything . It is a must have for every Karoo lover. Arno Botha – Prince Albert Cycles

Stef, your book is bloody brilliant. You have written it with such sensitivity, passion and compassion. So very well done.  Gay – Gay’s Dairy, Prince Albert

One of my friends has published a book which reveals some of that charm and which is bound to prove interesting and extremely useful to locals and visitors alike: Steffi reckons that “microadventures are for everyone – young and old, tall or small, fit or funky.” She encourages visitors to Prince Albert to get out of their comfort zone and “discover the gorgeous views and endless vistas; feel the silence, listen to the wind and greet the sun. Meet the tortoise and the kudu. Connect with nature and your inner adventurer; open your eyes & meet the people – have loads of fun!” Her book includes info about all manner of adventures, from gentle strolls with the ghosts of Prince Albert to energetic mountaineering in boots or on a bike. There are contact details, directions and distances for scenic drives or cycles; coffee and lunch adventures and even a list of books for those who prefer to travel from their armchair. It’s light enough to pop into a backpack and you can buy it from The Lazy Lizard, Watershed Art Gallery, Prince of Africa, the Tourism Bureau or contact Steffi directly on Each purchase ensures a donation of R5 each to the Prince Albert Tekkie Fund (PACT) and the Piccolos Project and yes, they feature in the book. Ailsa Tudhope – The Storyweaver. Find her monthly newsletter here!

Healing Rhinos and Other Souls

I’ve been totally immersed in Healing Rhinos and Other Souls! It is one of the most compelling books I’ve read over quite a long life of reading. Rohrbach does a great job of making the reader really know Walter, Topsy, and their world. Visiting South Africa is #1 on my bucketlist. Thank you for bringing these wonderful people into my life. I hope Topsy is still alive and well. Susan Holder, Tennessee

Biography of an animal loving vet and other related stories – I really enjoyed this book. The truth resonates and the sense of humour is appreciated. The point of view leaves the reader at liberty to understand the value of a person who is gentle with animals and humans, no bragging. Just told with a talented pen and one who understands the way of life in that place and time. Priceless. – Kindle customer, Canada

 Beautiful South Africa Let me first say that I loved this book. I read at least one book a week so my standards are high. While learning how difficult it was to be a vet in South Africa we are introduce to an amazing man named Walter and his interesting wife named Topsy. Reading about Walter you realize what an amazing and humble vet he was. The author also paints a beautiful picture of the outback as well as the dangers. Walter manages to embrace his love of country with his amazing connection with its creatures. – L Weiss

Von der Lebensgeschichte von Walter Eschenburg bin ich beeindruckt und begeistert. Frau Rohrbach gebührt großer Dank, dieses reiche Leben aufgeschrieben zu haben.
Ich selbst stamme aus Hinterpommern und bin der Sohn (Peter Eschenburg) des in dem Buch erwähnten “”Uncle Boli” (Bogislav Eschenburg) . Als kleines Kind war auch ich wiederholt in Juchow und wurde zusammen mit Jörgen Dennig in der dortigen Kirche getauft. Die Schilderung des Lebens auf dem Gut Juchow ist von Frau Rohrbach mit viel Feingefühl wunderbar beschrieben. Beim Lesen fühlte ich mich in meine Kindheit zurückversetzt. Lübeck, Hinterpommern, das Leben auf dem dortigen großen Gut, 1945 die Flucht in den Westen Deutschlands: Alles hat Frau Rohrbach eindrucksvoll aufgezeichnet.
Diese Buch müßte unbedingt auch in deutscher Sprache erscheinen. Peter Eschenburg

Five Stars – great read, I felt that I was in the bush. Caroline Muller

Net om te sê hoe ek jou boek oor oom Walter se lewe geniet het: baie dankie daarvoor! Ek het hom -en Topsy – absoluut belewe soos ons hulle deur die jare leer ken het. Kon die boek nie neersit toe ek eers begin lees het nie. Somtyds hardop gelag, dan weer ‘n traan gepink!” Sita van Niekerk

Beautifully written full of heart and SOUL! – Absolutely loved this book. Was reluctant to take this one on since I’d been on a stream of biographies and thought that justice could not be done to a story written by other than the person for whom the story was about. Was I wrong! This is one of my favorites. Rohrbach obviously cared so much for Walter and his life story that she did not miss a beat in making sure the story flowed wonderfully. Anyone would have been honored to have meet this man and lucky to have had him as their veterinarian.”- Rebekkah Hammond

Superb Reading! A very well written book, full of a great many interesting stories. The author takes us through Walter’s life from childhood. The family are accidentally trapped in Germany as WWII starts and endure a lot before they are able to return to South Africa after the war. This part of the narrative alone was fascinating, never-mind the stories that follow. Walter lead an absolutely remarkable life and was a remarkable man himself. Highly recommended! – Mikey B

Dr Walter Eschenburg’s Biography – I knew Walter and love reading both about him and listening to the stories he had to tell. You can really hear his voice. I have to thank Walter for saving my pony from African horse sickness on two occasions. He was a wonderful vet who worked tirelessly despite the heat. I would have loved to have accompanied him on his rounds but don’t think I could have kept up with him.” – Sophie Neville

“A Special Story – A most wonderful story and great read for all those who are interested in the bush and (sometimes atypical) bushveld medicine!” – E A G Herschell

“Great – The author and the person she’s writing about are both great story tellers. Quite a few humorous stories. Also provides a good view on the effect of ww2 on the people. – Brian Eschenburg

Healing Rhinos – A really wonderful account of Walter`s career as a Bushveld vet and also that of his family`s sojourn in Germany during the war. I loved it Tha Eschenbergs were/are very special people. – Margaret Pleming

Africa at its best – Loved this book, perhaps because I know the person who wrote it, but would have loved the down to earth approach to the life of an African vet. – Angela Ashworth

Thoroughly Engaging You are transported into two worlds – worlds that you would never imagine. The first part of this book relates the amazing childhood of an extraordinary vet – a world of Germany in WWII and then you are transported into a world of Africa. A world of excitement and appreciation of nature that keeps your interest and enjoyment. I hated to get to the end of the book. There is so much more I would have loved to read. – Mary Anne Tarver

Ein Tierarzt mit Wurzeln in Luebeck – Sehr lebendig wird das Leben in Südafrika erzählt und die Erinnerungen an die Zeit und die Familie in Deutschland. Ein liebenswertes Buch, leicht zu lesen – obwohl bisher nur auf Englisch. – Kaete47

The One Rule-Book Club review in the Prince Albert Friend – Steffi, a qualified vet turned eco tourism fundi, has lived in Prince Albert since 2005.
“Healing Rhinos and Other Souls” is her first book, a memoir about a friend, Walter Eschenburg, who was a much respected if unorthodox vet and a great storyteller.
After a childhood spent in a German castle, escaping the Russian army, it is in the harsh South African bushveld, the beautiful Waterberg, where Walter settled as a pioneering wildlife vet. Steffi knowledgably transcribes his encounters with charging rhinos, irate cows, angry giraffes, snakes, amorous elephants, cats, dogs and donkeys.
I met Walter a few times and delighted in reading about his intriguing life, so full of satisfying episodes of laughter, silly escapades and some tearful deaths. While reading the first half, I was completely oblivious to my surroundings, becoming completely drawn in by their accidental presence in the middle of the 2nd world war and their miraculous escape, family intact. Later Steffi describes the tragedies and miracles of nature and how Walter made the difference, and I still sat reading!
It is a story of a life well lived, and as our book club knows, I love a true story with a bit of travel…Healing Rhinos was just that!!! – Di Steyn

Get a life, James Herriot! – “Whenever anecdotes about vets are mentioned, people of a certain age are bound to be reminded of the innumerable stories of Alf Wright – alias James Herriot – the author of over 20 books (beginning with “If Only They Could Talk”, in 1970) about sick animals, sick owners and their treatment in the Yorkshire Dales. Personally, I found many of those stories rather contrived, especially after the first couple of volumes, and soon stopped reading them. Now at last comes a book about the experiences of a vet that not only seem very real, but which are also about the area in which we live – the Waterberg. Healing Rhinos (the title aside), is the wonderful story of the life of a beloved and highly competent, if occasionally unorthodox vet many of us living in and around the Waterberg were fortunate to have known: the late Dr Walter Eschenburg. Walter was and still is regarded as having been one of those truly exceptional vets, who had an innate empathy for animals big and small, wild or domesticated; who (with few exceptions) almost immediately developed a reassuring communication with them; and who would apply his considerable intellect and veterinary skill to finding solutions to their maladies, using whatever equipment and material he had at his disposal. But Walter was not only a fine vet. He was a remarkable person too. He loved people (including his delightful wife Topsy and their family), nature, the environment, humour, conversation, problem solving, teaching, story telling – and good food. In some respects, he was too good for his own good, too modest, too self-effacing, and there were those who took advantage of these attributes, failing to pay him for his services. Stephanie Rohrbach, a qualified vet herself, German-speaking like Walter and an old family friend, set out years ago to capture Walter’s history and his often outrageous, even unlikely, but always amusing stories. Walter knew that his experiences needed to be recorded for posterity and co-operated willingly with Stephanie’s project. The result is this new book, published, sadly, four years after Walter’s premature and unexpected passing. The content is a blend of first and third person memoirs, cleverly compiled, with an easy flow, if a little repetitive in places. While acknowledging the subject’s few shortcomings, like his difficulty with financial administration and his inability to drive slowly, the book is unashamedly a eulogy to a dear friend. As the author notes in her foreword, “This is not a work of fiction, nor is it, strictly speaking, a biography. It is a life-story, a memoir, and a collection of anecdotes. It is a story told by many voices, a picture painted with words. It is my picture of Walter”.

It commences with Walter’s childhood, when in 1939, his family unfortunately chose to visit Germany from South Africa for a family reunion – and ended up having to remain there until the end of World War Two. This section offers a fascinating perspective of the conflict through the memories of a child; and his travails provide a glimpse of the strength of character of the man he was to become. After the family’s safe return to SA, the book moves on to describe Walter’s affinity for animals on his father’s farm on the Highveld, leading to his decision to study veterinary science and to go into private practice. Along the way, he had the great good fortune – he was always saying how fortune smiled on him – to meet and marry Topsy Graham, a beautiful young farmer’s daughter and agricultural college graduate. Off went the young couple to their first practice, in Potgietersrus (now Mokopane). And then the stories really began: wild Brahman bulls, reprobate buffalo, lucky escapes, inquisitive elephant, failed tranquiliser darts, cows in calf, a confused circus lion – and another that disappeared, escapades in a succession of clapped-out vehicles, unusual house guests, hungry (and other) snakes, ingenious improvisations and more, tumbling off the pages in rapid succession: the best fireside tales ever. Get a life, James Herriot! The book’s title is misleading: although there are a couple of stories about rhino, there are so many other fascinating and arguably more rewarding tales told in this absorbing, engaging volume it is a pity the author chose the over-used rhino theme to brand her work. Many indeed were the souls – reptilian, avian and mammalian (including human) – that were bolstered, saved or redeemed during the course of this wonderful gentleman’s career and life, aided and abetted by Topsy and his able assistants Paraffin, Flying Machine and George, as they moved first to Naboomspruit (Mookgophong) and later, to Vaalwater.

We can be grateful for the memorable colourful thread Walter Eschenburg wove through the Waterberg tapestry. And we must thank Ms Rohrbach for having brought so many of his entertaining anecdotes together to paint an accurate portrait of his character, for the enjoyment of all of us who love the world he loved.” – Richard Wadley


Ich bin in Südafrika gewesen, war begeistert von den Menschen und der Natur.
Der Buschtierarzt war ein Vetter ersten Grades von mir, den ich ausserordentlich geschätzt habe und
der uns mit einem Berliner Arzt zusammen bei uns zu Hause in Berlin besuchte.
Das Buch habe ich erst nach dem Tode von Walter Eschenburg in die Hand bekommen, obgleich ich
seine Lebensgeschichte durch Erzählungen kannte, war ich überraschend fasziniert von diesem Konvolut von Buch. Review on von Buchschlagzzz