Monthly Archives: August 2013

Cape Town

There is no arguing that Cape Town is a beautiful city, blessed with one of the most breathtaking settings anywhere in the world. It’s also a city that’s had a somewhat checkered past, a history that still haunts many people.

From 1948 until 1994 apartheid – “the state of being apart” – was the law here. We all remember the pressure put on South Africa by the world, and with the hard work of Nelson Mandela and the ANC, apartheid was abolished in a peaceful manner. But there are still vast economic differences between the races. Blacks in South Africa are slowly catching up educationally and economically, but it’s a slow go, and in the meantime, millions still live in huge ghettos or townships.

We visited one of those townships yesterday — Langa. Our guide was articulate, charming, and has built himself a successful business starting with nothing. He took us to one of the local businesses — a beer shop. The beer is homemade and is sold in 5 liter jugs. Traditionally every one sits around and drinks from the same jug (it’s really a metal pail). Most of us had a sip – it was pretty tasty, kind of like watery beer (it’s low in alcohol – only about 2%).

We had lunch with one of the local families, still in Langa, a middle class family with a comfortable house. A marimba band entertained us and after lunch we were all given a djembe drum, a brief lesson on how to play it, and we all drummed until we couldn’t feel our hands.

Today we saw a different side of Cape Town — Stellenbosch and the wine country. By contrast we were driving through vineyards against a backdrop of mountains, we could have been in Tuscany but the wine estates are more luxurious here. 

We’re heading home in a couple days, it’s been an amazing trip and it won’t be our last to Africa.

Our guide in Langa, a Xhosa township

A typical room in Langa that houses 3 families


 

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Cape Town, South Africa

August 13, 2013

I’m sitting in the Victoria Falls airport waiting for our fight so I thought I’d write a little since I’ve already had one water, two beers, three bags of chips and two chocolate bars (every time I buy a beer the bartender can’t make change so I take it in chips). I’m trying to keep my hands occupied. We’re flying to Johannesburg and then we’ll fly on to Cape Town. We have another long layover in Joberg (more time for shopping which is what everyone in my group is doing at the moment) but we’ll probably be starving by then and need the time for eating.

Speaking of eating, we haven’t missed any meals on our safari. Our days generally start with a 6 o’clock wake up drum, knock or call depending on the camp, then breakfast at 6:30 and a game drive or some other activity at 7. With a stop for nature and tea, coffee and cookies (always homemade and always delicious — still debating if our favorite was the rosemary shortbread or peanut butter), then back to camp for brunch at 11. Tea time at 3 which consists of tea, coffee, a savory snack and a cake or some other sweet like banana bread.We usually had an afternoon drive or activity that would include a “sundowner” drink and snack, then back to the lodge for dinner around 7. 

After dinner we would generally go back to our cabins where we had to stay until our wake up call the next morning. All of the cabins were stocked with an air horn which we were to use if we had an emergency. Some nights we would sit around the campfire and enjoy the bright stars but generally we were pretty tired and would retire early.

You may be wondering why we had to stay in the cabin at night. All of the camps are located within or just adjacent to the national parks. The animals were almost always active, and at night the predators come out, though many of the animals that seem docile can be dangerous. We had one incident on a game drive where a baby elephant crossed the trail in front of us and just as we passed the mum came running out of the thicket to cross behind us. She flagged her huge ears out, trumpeted, and charged our jeep. Luckily we were safely out of her way.

Cape Town, August 14, 2013

We’re back in civilization now. Cape Town is the oldest city in South Africa and certainly one of the most beautiful in the world. We spent the morning visiting a penguin colony and touring the shoreline around to the Cape of Good Hope — the southwestern most point in Africa. Rain was forecast but our luck held and we had nice weather, if perhaps a little chilly at times. I have been so surprised by the weather — I don’t know what I was thinking but southern Africa can certainly be cold this time of year.

After lunch we spent the afternoon at a botanical garden then back to our hotel for another wonderful meal — another great day.

Aerial view of Victoria Falls

Penguin colony in Cape Town

Hubert & Kathy, Cape Town, South Africa

Protea, Kirstenbosch Garden, Cape Town


 


Zimbabwe

August 12, 2013

We arrived in Zimbabwe yesterday and have been making the most of our short stay. Yesterday we flew back to Victoria Falls town, then walked around the Falls, had cocktails at the beautiful old Victoria Falls Hotel, then up very early this morning to visit a lion sanctuary for  breakfast and a walk with the lions. Afterwards we went for a helicopter ride over the falls. After lunch I’m going shipping before our sunset cruise in the Zambesi. Whew. Who knew there would be so much to do in little Victoria Falls.

Barnaby and I are having an incredible time. Everything and everyone have been amazing. Yesterday morning on our way to the airstrip we saw a pride of young male lions — four young lions — what a way to say goodbye to the bush. 

Here are a couple photos. I’ll write more when we get to Cape Town and have more time. 

 

 


Africa

August 4, 2013

 

We’ve been in Africa for over a week and will be leaving Botswana tomorrow. This is the view from our tent cabin. No Internet. Will post more soon.