South African Survivor fans will undoubtedly recognise the face of Nicole Capper, but what you may not know is she’s a petrolhead, too. She’s smart, beautiful, and a big car fan. We talk with her
Nicole Clapper played a great game of Survivor, forming an alliance with Rob Bentele early on. Despite many setbacks, the alliance remained strong and Rob eventually won the title of sole survivor. Nicole finished in an impressive second place after a harsh jury session. Nicole Clapper is as at home on the red carpet as she is hiking or climbing in a remote location. She’s no stranger to performance cars, nor is she afraid to get down and dirty in a 4×4.
What car do you drive and what kind of cars are you into?
I have recently been test-driving the Mahindra range and am a big fan of the XUV 300. I am, however, a complete juxtaposition when it comes to cars. I love my red-carpet luxury cars and with my magazine Luxuria Lifestyle South Africa, I am often in the most luxurious supercars at launch events and reviews. However, between VIP events, you will find me in the mountains exploring everything from South Africa’s nine peaks to Kilimanjaro to Everest base camp. I need a vehicle that is tough and ready for rugged terrain and I am no stranger when it comes to 4×4 tracks and off-road.
How did you get into a life of adventure?
I always had a passion for both motorsport and adventure. My dad used to take me into the Drakensberg when I was a child and we would often go climbing and exploring. That’s where my passion for the mountains was born. My passion for cars was born in his garage where he and his brother used to build cars. Everything from Lotus Sevens to an AC Cobra, which is still one of my favourites.
What made you decide to go on Survivor?
I decided to pursue brave adventures to set an example for my kids, one of whom is fighting a life-threatening disease. I believe life is for the living and adventure is the way, not just to set an example, but to take people with me into the mountains.
As part of my organisation, Uprising, not only do I raise funds for children with rare diseases but I actually take people into the wilderness to go on transformational journeys and experience the true beauty of nature. Survivor was a logical step for me, after falling in love with adventuring in the mountains I decided to truly experience what it was like to survive and live off nature alone and the experience turned out to be so much more than just the Bear Grylls adventure I had hoped for. I also discovered my true power in embracing both my light and my darkness and for this I am truly grateful.
Tell us the most interesting thing about Survivor that we don’t get to see on TV.
The most interesting thing about Survivor is that it is as tough as you think it is, and while the TV show is focusing on the drama unfolding between personalities, we are still literally building everything that we sleep on and fighting for everything we eat. We do not get sandwiches at the end of the day, there is no bed waiting for us and there is no time off from Survival. Toilet breaks are definitely the most interesting as you need to learn to dig holes and mark your holes with Xs so that nobody else and uncovers your spots in your designated toilet area. Because you don’t have toilet paper, wet wipes or any kind of soap; the ocean becomes your best friend. You literally use the ocean to wash up after every toilet break, brush your teeth, cook your food, scrub your body and wash your hair in the ocean waves.
And what are you up to nowadays?
I like to consider myself a serial entrepreneur. I brought Luxuria Lifestyle to South Africa as an international luxury magazine and events company, and have since hosted the large Luxury Lifestyle event globally in Johannesburg. I have also set up the organisation Uprising. I am a co-founder of The Impact Hub which starts crucial and sometimes controversial conversations with leaders in South Africa (ticketed events in Sandton). I also consult in the field of marketing and strategy and I’m working on other projects which will be launching in 2020 and beyond.
A life full of adventure is bound to have some scary moments. What has been your scariest so far?
Some of my scariest moments would be when I lost my luggage in Nepal at the beginning of my Everest base camp journey and proceeded to hike into the mountains with the clothes on my back. I was arrogant and over-excited and I was quickly humbled by the mountains. When I reached base camp and triumphed on my mission, I also experienced failure of epic proportions. I fell ill with altitude sickness and attempted to climb back down without medical support. I was evacuated by chopper the following morning to Kathmandu Hospital where I was treated for pulmonary and cerebral edema and made a full recovery. My love for the mountains remains but I have a reinforced respect for Mother Nature.
What defines adventure for you?
I started this journey because climbing and hiking is one of the most relatable sports that most able-bodied people can try. My pursuit is to remain as relatable as possible in my adventures but I do understand that not everybody is an adventurer at heart so for me adventure is not just getting out to tag a peak or summit a mountain. Adventure is any activity, thought process or decision that makes you step out of your comfort zone.
Any words of advice for armchair travellers to get them motivated?
I would encourage armchair travellers to shortlist their bucket list destinations and make some real out-of-reach goals, then list some tangible easily accessible and realistic goals as well and then start taking them off one by one. Take off on your next free weekend and go and camp somewhere. South Africa has some of the most accessible, safe and beautiful outdoor experiences in the world.
If you could only drive one car for the rest of your life what would it be?
Definitely an AC Cobra kit car, hand-built, that I would spec out myself. Cobalt blue with white Racing Stripes and a V8 engine.
Television show: Obviously Survivor. If not Survivor, Peaky Blinders
Movie: I’m a mom, Moana
Band/Singer: Matchbox 20
Place on earth: Nepal
Camping site: Injesuthi in the Drakensburg (shhhh don’t tell anyone – it is my favourite off-the-grid place)