Yay, Africa was calling! After a smooth night flight to Johannesburg where we got transferred to our hotel for the night in Pretoria and did not much more than waiting for our room, powernapping and meeting our tourguide for the next 14 days. It turned out that our booked trip turned into a private tour as nobody else booked a seat for that date. Yay, a minibus for only the two of us! We booked the Southern Magic Accommodated Tour operated by Acacia Africa and booked through STA travel in Zurich as I made good experience on my last years 4 months sabbatical already. After a nice dinner, starting taking the malaria prophylaxe we went to bed early to be ready for the next day we will be on the road again.
The start was a bit of a driving day, up and down the hills stopping at Blyde canyon with breathtaking views before heading to Hoedspruit, Nsele Lodge for the next two nights. Saw on the way already giraffes, zebras, buffalos, monkeys, antilopes - amazing. Later on we arrived then in Nsele Lodge, where we were the only guestes and we had a yum dinner. Next day our first safari / game drive was awating us in Kruger - yay!
Kruger Nationalpark - meeting the Wildlife
At 6 am we started - the lodge is about 50 km away from the entrance gate of the Kruger National park - a park with it size of Israel - crazy! Olaf - the owner from the lodge drove us in his cool safari car all day and we were so excited especially when I spotted the first Elephant Family! Although it was a long and hot day I never got bored exploring the wildlife and every zebra amazed me again - their perfect structure compared with the green of the grass - Just wow! But I would be lying if I would not have hoped to get the big 5 in front of the camera lense :-) we successfully have seen many elephants - could watch them for hours as well, a big herd of buffalos and we have also seen a lion family - worth to have the binaculars with us, but unfortunately too far away to capture them. Still amazing seeing them walking through the grass! Talking about the vegetation it was amazing how it changed every now and then. As we are kind of inbetween rain season and summer - we could see the park getting green and vegetation growing - which is great to see for a region who is struggeling getting enough rain and water - on the other hand it made it more difficult to spot the animals. Unfortunatley we didn‘t succeed in seeing a rhino or a leopard. But there is still hope as we‘ll have oder game drive laters on the trip in Zimbabwe and Botswana.
But not only the big animals impressed me, the variety of birth, the different types of antilope and just to see such a huge piece on earth saved and protected made me incredibly thankful. Seeing elephants living peacefully and having the feeling you are in a zoo but changing roles with the animals was definitvely a highlight of this trip.
Too sad to hear that there is still an issue with poachers who are hunting rhinos after their horn even in kind of protected areas is the dark side of the business here and I do hope that all the initiatives come to success that this get stopped!
Back at the lodge we enjoyed another delicious dinner where we had the possibility to try the special amarula schnapps (selfmade) - and we desperately needed it after we met a wild redlip
Polokwane and the outdoor museum
The next day was more ov a driving day into direction Polokwane (formerly known as Pietersburg) we drove up and down the hill, passed eucalyptus forests, warning signs of hippos crossing the road (didn't happen) and stopped on the street to buy fresh avos, banannas, pomelos and mangos before we had lunch at the mall of the north - a huge shopping center where we found some wifi signal to tell our loved ones that we are still alive :)
In the afternoon we stopped at an open air museum to learn and see how the people and the tribes lived in the past - was very interesting and I can tell you wildlife has become another meaning or how the african like to say every now and then when they have fun stories to tell: WELCOME TO AFRICA!
late afternoon we checked in at the lovely destiny inn - where we got a very nice room and a lovely kind of fish&chips dinner where we were talking about the plans of the next days - for tomorrow it would mean - a lot of driving and entering into Zimbabwe - yay looking forward to a new country where long power outages are reality :-) curious what we will experience there - stay tuned and follow the story about Zimbabwe and continue reading after completing the Zimbabwe and Botswana chapter :-)
Capetown - back to the Citylife
Easily and smooth with a lot of time at the airport in Joburg we made it by Mango Air to Capetown (love the name and the look of the airline :-)) where we got warmly welcomed and picked up by the driver of our hotel - the Treehouse Boutique Hotel in the Greenpoint area, not to far from Waterfront. We got warmly welcomed by the staff and informed that they upgraded us to the lookout suite who has an amazing terrace and panoramic view over the waterfront and the harbour wow! We wanted to go up to the tablemountain later in the afternoon but unfortunatley it was too windy and the cablecar was not operating. So we figured out what to do the next days and decided to book a private guided tour the next day along the Peninsula to the cape of good hope,including a stop to see the penguins and to combine it with a tour through the vinelands of famous Stellenbosch as well.For the day after we booked a tour too to get an overview about the city as well & taking the opportunity of visiting a township as this is - in my point of view a part of the culture and history too.
For the remaining first day we were strolling along the waterfront before taking an uber for dinner to Carne SA. - an amazing place for various meat and a good opportunity yo try the safari platter and taste what you have seen in the past weeks (sorry dear antilopes and friends). But I also have to say that the chocolate cake is at least as good as the meat and was something to die for. We got picked up then by the driver of the hotel - what a great start into the citylife :-)
Meeting the good hope and some wine glasses
Next morning - as mentioned before, we were heading with our drivers into the surrounding of Cape Town. It was a beautiful day and windy as well but really cool to drive along the coast and to see one beautiful beach and place after the other and somehow weird to know you’re driving on the edge of a continent :-) we made various photo stops along the way and the first longer one was at the cape of good hope nationalpark. We decided to walk up the stairs to the lighthouse, but it was so incredibly windy that beat’s sunglasses got blown away while he was wearing them on the nose! All good hope gone for the sunglasses (hopefully the baboens - monkeys) will have fun with it :-)
Back down we quickly drove to the sign of the most southernwestern point - the cape of good hope and were luckily faster than the chinese buses and did not have to queue for a shot - but also here the wind was crazy - one women just fell on the ground and Beat also had his challenges :-) we got fun pictures of it - not perfect at all but you can see the fun we had down there :-).
Next stop was Simons town / Boulders Bay who is known for the cute little penguins you can observe them - they got protectednow - in the past the beach was accessible for everyone. Slowly we got hungry and our guide brought us to Berthas were we had a delicious Calamari / Fish & Chips lunch - don’t know if I ever had such delicious Calamari! Good fish makes us thirsty right? So we headed into direction Stellenbosch, which has more than 200 different wine companies. Our guide’s preferences are more boutique vineries instead of big commercial ones which suits our taste perfectly. Unfortunatley, the first one we attempted to go was closed already as it was a sunday and this one had special wines they keep in barrels for 8 year. A pity - but there are other opportunities - and so we ended up at Rust en Vrede for a tasting of 4 different wines. We got a very nice waiter who explained the story of each wine and we decided to bring one bottle of a limited edition back home for my mum’s birthday - Mummy, I hope you gonna enjoy it 😄As a thank you, one tasting was offered by them and in addition we got another glass from the wine of our choice. So if you’re counting, we were heading to the next stop with having 5 glasses of wine already.
From the next place you had a fantastic view over the vinelands and we decided go go for the chocolate & wine tasting where we got 5 different wines to taste and for each wine a special
chocolate was allocated. It was really cool but as we also like to eat some cheese to the wine, we ordered a cheese platter and another glass of our favorite from the tasting.
11 glasses of wine in such a short period (no, they were not completely filled but still enough) we went back, happy to had a perfect day with lots of fun. Before going to sleep we were heading to waterfront for delicious sushi at Willoughby & Co. it was sooo good and close that our uber driver dropped us at the hotel where we has a good sleep.
City and Townshiptour and a challenge after sunset
Next morning (oh I didn’t mention the fantastic breakfast you get here) the same guide was awaiting us to show us Cape Town - the City - yay. We first stopped at Bo-Kapp, the quarter known for its colorful houses
- and he explaimed the history about it & we tried out the special donuts you get there the “Koeksisters”. Then we walked around the city
centre and found out the center of the town is not too big and has lovely parks, history of course too and cool shops, local markets and a flowermarket which is open 24/7- whenever you need
flowers.We stopped at the Truth Café, very hip and cool place. They were also struggling with the load shedding which is on stage 4 these days but the power just returned when we entered.
After that we drove to the Township Langa, where a local guide showed us around in the museum about the time during the Apartheid, we could see how people live, learned about the problems and challenging they have, but also about their pride, hope and future they believe in. Also there you do not only have very poor people - yes they are there and exist but do does the middle-and upperclass. We learned about different projects, couldn’t resist to buy some art from a local market and also handed over some shirts to the people living in the so-called hostels - multiple families - every family in one!! small room, kitchen and toilet facilities get shared. These are also the families waiting to get a small simple house from the government where they could move in but nobody knows how long the waiting time and the queue is.
We also got a delicious lunch there but as there was still load shedding, we didn’t get pap (=african polenta) for instance.
It was a very interesting day as well and we enjoyed it a lot. Since the weather was looking great, no wind, no cloud and the cablecar was showed as open we decided to take the chance and going up.
But when we arrived there, it looked different again - the load shedding was affecting the cable car as well and although they tried and the queue was huge, we decided after 45 minutes to leave and take an uber instead to Signal Hill to see the sunset at least from there. Also Signal Hill is a lovely place -you just have to be prepared that you won’t be the only one there :-) after enjoying a wonderful sunset we were facing another challenge: no internet signal on signal hill! Luckily the hotel assured us to pick us up no matter where we are and so we called them - but unfortunatley, the wind was too strong and we could not hear each other! So we walked down further along the street and we finally managed to agree on a pick up point at a coffeeplace further down the road - which took us about 25 minutes to walk which was fine. But then - surprisingly we could not find our driver and when we called the hotel again we found lut that he could neither find us as he was supposed to be there as well. But finally we found him yeah! Challenge was that there were other people waiting and he was in an official taxi car while we were watching for a hotel car :-) at least we made it safely back home and just headed down the road for a phad thai before ending the day with a schlummi and a view over capetown by night.
Last day and night
Wow time is flying and our last day in Cape Town started - weatherforecast great again! I asked the Tablemountain team how the operation looks for today but as the load shedding takes place ln the same high level as the day before (4), they could nor guarantee for anything. We kept on watching the page while doing some small shopping of things we want to bring back home but the cablecar didn‘t open. As a consequence the Zeitz Museum - which would have been an alternative - was closing at 4pm as well (when the next shedding is foreseen) and so we took a ride on the cablewheel at waterfront which was lovely and fun and returned back by a fun uber driver who was celebrating his atomic kitten cd to the fullest :-) and I had time to relax by the pool, on the balcony, while the other part went for a jogging run. For dinner we decided to go to Marcos‘s African Place which was recommended by different people and we could not have asked for a better place for our last evening in Africa - it was simply amazing having traditional food and music - Beat could even try to play the drums :-)Sadly everything has come to an end and by saying goodbye to the fantastic hotel staff we were heading to the airport for coming home.
Thank you Africa - we had a truly amazing time! Surely there are different problems as well - but you face them across the world and didn‘t impact the magic we could experience during almost 3 weeks ❤️