Monthly Archives: December 2009
didn’t have internet access so falling behind on notes, will come back and fill in
it’s Dec 31 – Happy New Year!
Leaving Cape Town, we decided to take the scenic route to Swellendam. It is a very old town, many building constructed in the 1800`s in the Dutch architecture, Dutch Reform Churches; many thatched roofs. What`s interesting it that many newly constructed homes have thatched roofs too. Spent the night at a small B&B, African Shades which offered a full, delicious breakfast. From here we continued on the scenic route, the Garden Tour. The views were so breathtaking we had to stop about every 15 minutes, 3000 meter high mountains, very craggy, eagles soaring overhead.
The route took us to a wine region were we did Port tasting and a wonderful lunch. Everyone we met was so friendly and helpful. Bringing home several inexpensive, excellent ports.
On to George where we spent the night at a no name hotel. Further down the road near Plettenberg, we visited Monkeyland http://www.monkeyland.co.za/ free roaming monkies, 9 species. Very close by was an Elephant Sanctuary were we led elephants, got to pet and feed them; each of these facilities was focused on education – showed large dispays on anatomy, habits, etc.
Lunch at Plettenberg was along a spectacular beach and then we decided we had to drive back to Swellendam to stay at the same B&B, African Shade!!
Driving back to CT the next day, we stopped along a beach. There were a few people at the entrance, but as soon as we walked away from there´- no one – we had the whole beach to ourselves, walked for about an hour. The wind was pretty strong so we got exfoliated in addition to a beautiful setting and great place to gather shells.
Lunch was at a sort of co-op – combo restaurant, winery, nursery owned by 230 South Africans.
We flew to Cape Town on Kulula Airways!! Arriving at my nephews home in Hout Bay in time for a lovely Christmas dinner. Ending the evening with some very nice Schnapps.
Today we spent well over 4 hours at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden – one of the best gardens we´ve ever been too. Plants beyond amazing, laid out in a very consumable way; enjoyable to see so many local visitors picnicing and really enjoying a local treasure.
Later in the day we did a panoramic drive heading south of Hout Bay to Cape Point, the most southern point on the African continent. Along the way we stopped in Boulders to see the the vulnerable African Penguin. We saw young ones molting, pairs trading places to sit on their two eggs (only one usually survives), grooming (themselves and each other) and mating. http://www.aboutcapetown.com/penguins.htm
PS typing on German keyboard and it`s not querty; typos will occur. Also have other letters available like ö ä ü!
Shortly after arriving at the Royal Legend Lodge around 4 pm, we left for our first animal viewing – it was just the four of us, the driver and a spotter. It turned out that these guys could see stuff you and I would never have seen. The next morning we departed at 5:30 am, returning to the lodge around 8:30 for breakfast and a day of leisure, out to look for more animals at 4:00 pm. Our last drive was on the morning of the 26th. Over the course of 4 game drives we saw the following animals: lions, buffalo, jaguar, elephants (4 of the Big 5), giraffes, hyenas, jackals, hare, tortoises, hippos, warthogs, and many kinds of birds (we kept a list and Í`ll add them in here later)
Sorry for the delay, no Internet in the area we were visiting. After finally getting to Jo´berg, spending the night we had a car pick us up at 6 am to start our drive to the Kruger National Park area. Went via Panoramic Route, stopping along the way at Blyde River Canyon (rivals the Grand Canyon – and yes, we´ll be uploading pictures so check those out) on to Bouke´s Luck Potholes, and God´s Window.
We didn´t get to these "sites" until after driving for 3 hours through the countryside. Our drive Pieter (Africaans spelling) was a retired police officer with lots of factoids to share and lots of opinions! 80% of the population is black, over 27% unemployment, main languages are Africaans, Zulu, then English. There were miles of rolling hills planted with maize; mining for copper, phosphates, and coal. The government has built small houses for very many people but they are located several miles outside of any town, too far to walk. so they have shuttle buses running routes up and down the main thoroughfares picking up people for 5 rand (less than a dollar but that is a lot of money when you earn 100 rand a month). And, shuttles are only able to cover a select route, meaning you have to change several times in the cities (we have to research the taxi wars that happened not too long ago).
Back to the sites – our guide would drop us off and give us a certain amount of time to see the sites or shop. Everywhere there were stands with locally made wares, from bracelets to 3 foot tall wooden giraffes to batique placemats. There are signs promoting the fact that these are sanctioned vendors, encouraging visitors to buy local handcrafts.
Finallz got to the Private Game Reserve at Timbavati (outside of Kruger National Park). KNP is over 2 million hectares, our reserve was about 70,000 hectares. As we pulled in the Royal Legend Lodge there was about 6 giraffes grazing the tree tops, boy were we excited to finally have arrived. The main entrance was a thatch roofed atrium area where we were received with cool clothes to wipe our faces and fresh fruit juice. Our friend Jan was the only other guest at the lodge. After dropping our bags in our indiviual "hut", we were whisked off to our first drive around the reserve. (our hut was a king sized bed surrounded by mosquito netting, bathroom with inside and outside showers, ceiling to floor windows overlooking the reserve, even the toilet looked out there. had a viewing deck too).
More about the drive later…..
our flight to london was great, received unsolicited upgrade to World Club – ability to lie down completely flat totally spoiled us. our flight to Cape Town took off 4 hours late – had to de-ice the wings twice. although caused horribe slip to our schedule, much preferrable than crashing. We missed our flight to Jo’berg, missing our departure for Panoramic Tour. So – we’re spending the night in Jo’berg near the airport. Pick up at 6 am to start our drive to Kruger Park. so we’re starting everything one day late, but actually great way to get over jet lag so we can enjoy what we’re seeing.
we’ve read to so many cautions about jo’berg we were paranoid when a gentleman offered to show us to where to find hotel shuttles. there is no way we would have ever found it on our own – so how much to tip him? we still have to figure out the local currency and habits.
Drove down from our Oregon paradise to the SF Bay Area. Catching an evening flight for South Africa tomorrow. Planning on seeing Avator (2-D) tomorrow afternoon; hearing it’s well worth seeing on the big screen.
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