Cradle of Humankind: Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve

Phew! What an amazing road trip! We finally reached Johannesburg, our first and last point of this woweeee holiday. We were still in awe of the road trip we had accomplished in only sixteen days, and this all by ourselves *pat on the back* With two cars we clocked almost three thousand kilometres and motored across half of this big and wonderful country. Well, almost half…oh, okay, half of half…whatever-rrr. We “burnt rubber”, as the saying goes, but little did we know that rubber would really be burning. After the Elephants and a night full of trunks were tooting or was it snoring wild dreams, we were sooo ready to head up north. Johannesburg here we come! It was blerry hot. We had the car air-con on full blast which helped a bit. Who am I kidding…it helped zilch, nada, nix. Try driving and panting for air while pleating your forehead in the hope that those salty sweaty pearls will not plop into your eyes. After driving for six and a half hours through dry and empty landscapes, only stopping once, we decided to overnight in Bloemfontein, a city which loosely translated means “blooming fountain” or “fountain of flowers”. Forget blooming anything, to us it was just !Yay! People. Food. Bathtub. We did not feel like exploring. Pooped as hell. The next morning it was hotter than the devil’s *cough-cough* and one could even see heat waves dancing on the never-ending tarred road. The car was making strange noises and we also needed to fill up the petrol tank, so after almost three hours into our journey, we stopped at a service station. As we tried to leave, the car started to make funny noises, which got louder and louder with each metre, so we stopped and discovered that the whole front wheel arch on the right had melted onto the tyre! Geezus! It was a big and fancy car, but all that modern manufactured “plastic” apparently couldn’t stand the heat. Luckily our rental agent sorted everything out, but we still had to wait for an hour before a replacement car was brought to us. We were, after all, in the middle of nowhere. We used this time to have an early lunch, twiddle our thumbs…and fret. The new car was a snazzy little thing, emphasis on little, and we just about managed to squeeze all our luggage in. Daddy long legs sort of folded himself into the front seat. Phew, there was more than enough space, even if the seat was sorta the same length as his shoe 😜  How happy we were when we finally got home. Yoo-hoo!

A day before our flight out, we decided to go on one more safari, just because it was around the corner (a forty five minute drive corner) and also because “someone” was gaga about wild animals wanted to see more wild animals, probably for the last time in this year, so we visited a privately owned Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve that is situated within the Cradle of Humankind, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Reserve is quite large, considering its close proximity to Johannesburg, Pretoria and other cities or towns. It was also founded by a former stockbroker, Ed Hern, who I personally know from my many years working at the Stock Exchange. Here’s something to smile about… According to their website, the reserve started off with, amongst others, two white rhinos, renamed “Ouvrou” (old woman) and “Bulle” (bull), that were imported all the way from…wait for it…a zoo…now get this…in Germany! A zoo in Germany! Mein lieber Scholli!!

It is possible to do both a walk and/or a self-drive tour, depending on what you want to see. No! You cannot cuddle a lion nor tickle a crocodile (some idiots do try) but you can stand next to a curious Marabou Stork or be brave and visit the slithering snakes in the Reptile Park. There’s also a wonderful eatery where you can sample a typical local “snack” of chips with a boerewors roll, washed down with a cold creme-soda milkshake.

Boerewors Roll and Creme Soda Milkshake

Driving within the wild animal enclosure is also easy as the roads are okay. Dusty and unpaved, but okay. Well, it depends on your car. We had mother-dearest’s flat as a pancake low-lying Merc AMG sports car which scraped over stones and bumpity-bumps. Eish! We did not expect “natural” roads because at Addo everything was tarred. Added to that, at the furthest end of the reserve, surrounded by hungry-looking wild dogs and far far away from humans, or the exit gate, a thingy inside the car started making peeping noises. Buckled up? Yep. It didn’t stop. We looked again and geezuz, the petrol gauge was on red. So the German one of us started freaking out, like we’re going to be eaten alive or something 😱 Duh! The heat would have done us in before that because the windows had to stay closed 😰 Anyway, we manouvered the pancake car around a lazing animal or two trying to make a u-turn and slowly, very slowly edged our way towards the exit. The tortoise got there before us, but as soon as we hit the main road, tarred of course, we added some speed and found a petrol station only about twenty panicky minutes away. Glug-glug-glug. That was us drinking ginger beer instead of something spirity. Thankfully we’d seen most of the animals at the reserve, and oh, the handsome one also took lots of photos. Ende gut, alles gut (all’s well that ends well).  😀 😇  Enjoy these awesome photos!

African Wild Dog (Lycaon Pictus)

 

 

South African Cheetah (Acinonyx Jubatus Jubatus and Fennec Fox/Fennec (Vulpes Zerda)

 

 

White Lion Cubs

 

 

White Lion

 

 

 

Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra (Equus Zebra Hartmannae)

 

 

Blue Wildebeest (Connochaetes Taurinus), or common Wildebeest, and white-bearded Wildebeest or Brindled Gnu

 

 

Blesbok or Blesbuck (Damaliscus Pygargus Phillipsi)

 

 

Sable Antelope (Hippotragus Niger) and Waterbuck (Kobus Defassa)

 

 

Common Warthog (Phacochoerus Africanus)

 

 

 

Springbok (Antidorcas Marsupialis) and South African Ostrich (S. c. Australis)

 

 

Crocodiles and Pygmy Hippopotamus (Choeropsis Liberiensis or Hexaprotodon Liberiensis)

 

 

Python, Eastern Green Mamba (Dendroaspis angusticeps), also known as the common Mamba and a Puff Adder (Bitis Arietans)

 

 

Yellow Mongoose (Cynictis Penicillata), sometimes referred to as the red Meerkat

 

 

Cape Ground Squirrel (Xerus Inauris)

 

 

African Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis Aethiopicus)

 

 

Cattle Egret (Bubulcus Ibis) and a White Stork (Ciconia Ciconia)

 

 

Marabou Stork (Leptoptilos Crumenifer)

 

 

 

Secretary Bird (Sagittarius Serpentarius)

 

 

Southern Masked Weaver or African Masked Weaver (Ploceus Velatus)

 

 

Long-tailed Widowbird (Euplectes Progne) and Blacksmith Lapwing or Blacksmith Plover (Vanellus Armatus)

 

 

Helmeted Guineafowl (Numida Meleagris)

 

 

 

 

 

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Addo Elephant National Park

Day fourteen: We spent the night of day thirteen in Jeffrey’s Bay only because we had too much fun in Knysna and the oh so interesting Monkeyland (📢 what? ⌛️ you’re closing?? but…but…but..! Yes, we were the last ones who had to be escorted out, duh! obviously 😳). Despite driving fast for one and a half hours and trying very hard to ignore the stunning beauty of the Tsitsikamma Forest which seemed to nuzzle both sides of the road (waa-haaa-sob-sniff), twilight was looming and there was no way we were going to reach the Addo Elephant National Park before the sun waved bye-bye for the day. A quick search on the internet, a short call and yay, we found somewhere to spend the night! Our room had a view of the ocean (see below) but seriously, it was a bit hazy because the only thing we could see were plates full of huge pieces of deliciously fried fish. We were starving! Forget tired, our growling stomachs needed some serious feeding. A restaurant called the Kitchen Windows Beach Restaurant, was highly recommended and just happened to be almost around the corner. Wow! What an amazing place. The ambience, the friendliness, the sea almost at your feet, the fingerlicking good food, and the wine! Hic. The W.I.N.E!!! Oh! My! Goodness! Slurp. Burp. Hic. Oh, and they make a mean whiskey Dom Pedro too! We only managed a few one glass each…Shhh!

 

The morning of day fourteen was nice and sunny, with a gentle breeze removing toast crumbs fanning our cheeks while we ate breakfast. We were really excited about our next adventure (toot-toot-parp! Elephants!), so much so that between tea sipping and jam on toast, we managed to find somewhere to stay for the night. So with SatNav dearest up to date, we pointed the car in the direction of the highway, promising not to stop until we reached Addo. After surviving heavy morning traffic through Port Elizabeth, sniffing the sea for the last time on this trip, then hop-bopping on an ancient and very patchy tarred road, and finally, with wheels spitting gravel and dust on the dirt road leading up to the guest farm, we reached the welcoming gates of De Old Drift (below). It was hot, hot, HOT! Sssst! We were so tempted to jump into the sparkling pool, clothes and all, but we settled instead for a complimentary bottle of ice-cold water (glugg-glugg) as we had a date with some elephants. The guest farm has a large citrus orchard, is next to the Sundays River and is surrounded by raw nature. One could also see some bucks wandering nearby. The farm also lies in the pampas (basically in the middle of nowhere), and the only sounds reaching our ears were lots of sssss’s and other strange insect noises. This prompted one of us to ask about the snake situation because, you know, there are some milky-white hairy delicious foreign legs wearing shorts and sandals now here…She assured us that the whole property was surrounded with electric fencing, so if and when a creepy crawly, slither-roo or any other hungry gnasher touched the fence, then ZAPP! it was off to animal heaven. Okay, we believe you…not. We checked all the nooks and crannies of our lovely quarters, but found nothing, not even a spider. The delightful young lady was right. Unfortunately we had no time to dawdle as we still needed to drive by the “don’t-blink-or-you-will-miss-it” petrol station before we reached the park. We intended to do a self-drive tour then join a group for a guided sundowner tour.

 

 

Addo Elephant National Park

The park does not only have elephants, and it was quite surprising to see such a variety  of wild animals freely roaming around. The were Greater Kudus, Plains Zebras, common Warthogs (with babies) and Black-backed jackals, to name just a few…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…and of course, the Southern African Lion, sitting in the shade, posing and preening…

 

 

 

 

The HIGHLIGHT, African Bush Elephants. Yummy, yummy, yummy, I’ve got green bush in my tummy. Elephants eat a lot. Really, A LOT! Bushes, trees, grass, plants, any vegetation they can get their trunks on. Vegetarians. They also drink a lot, which means that they’re always near water of some sort. Hmmm, all that green stuff and they’re still sooo big. Scary big. Oh nooo, this person prefers to be a carnivore, thank you very much…hahaha!

 

 

 

 

It was very interesting to see the interaction of the whole herd towards the little ones, and especially how cheeky these young ‘uns were! There was the littlest one, hiding under one of the adults, then coming out to tease his bigger “brother”, and then running for it before big brother wacks him…(last pic) 🐘. It was so funny! What a wonderful and fantastic day! We were so near to them that it was sometimes scary, but after giving us the BIG eye, they carried on as if they didn’t just scare the shit hell out of you. Amazing animals! Amazing experience ❤️ There’s nothing more pray, pray humbling than having one or more of these “gentle” giants surround your car…just for a sniff… 

 

 

 

 

Hoo-hoo-a-a-cheep-cheep: Monkeyland & the Birds of Eden

Day Thirteen: After an interesting night spent with strange-looking spiders lurking in the toilet and heavy insect repellant smells still clinging to the hairs of our nostrils, we said our good-byes and headed off to our next “we-do-not-know-where” destination. We used the national highway that takes you all along the beautiful coastline and through one or two national parks, a few lush and indigenous forests, many towns and quaint villages, about ten rivers and three large tranquil lakes. This was one of the most interesting and greenest roads we’ve travelled on so far. The highway cuts right through the centre of the town of Knysna (pronounced NIZE-NA) and after driving along the Knysna River, we were so impressed that we decided to stop here.  It was hot. Ssstt! We parked next to an old “Choo-Tjoe” Trolley (see below) at the Waterfront-Knysna Quays then hurried over to get some much needed shade, and ice-cream. We peeked into a few delightful little boutiques and curio shops, strolled along the marina with its bobbing boats and fancy yachts, then stopped to admire the famous lagoon. We were quite sad that we were not able to spend more time here, but we put it on our bucket list for next time. Oh, and we almost, almost ended up buying a big fat diamond engagement ring. She said…!Yikes! 😱 Let’s get outta here…

 

The interesting statue below is carved from cypress wood. The Berlin Pub near to it sold ice-cold German beers, but was totally ignored by the German. The other one wanted to sip that bitter yucky stuff just for some relief from the plip-plip-plip heat, but…DRIVING!!

 

Knysna Yacht Club with part of the vast lagoon which flows into the Indian Ocean

 

 

Monkeyland

Only about a forty-five minute drive from Knysna, and just outside the beautiful holiday resort Plettenberg Bay (“Plett” as it’s lovingly called), is a free-roaming (fenced) primate sanctuary called Monkeyland. It covers about twelve hectares of indigenous forest and has several private nature reserves around it. The best and only way to see everything in Monkeyland is to book a walking safari tour. Done and dusted! As we sat outside waiting for our safari guide, a brown squirrel monkey jumped out of nowhere and bounced on the head of an unsuspecting “sipping-a-drink-female. Le Moi! Okay, so the curly wispy afro did look like a wild bush and the sipping-through-the-straw was a bit loud, but still, there was no reason to scare the living daylights out of an afro mop(pet). A wanna-be blood-curdling scream gathered at the bottom of my dry-from-shock throat but that got stifled just as quickly when the sun-tanned guide appeared and said “howzit everyone”. It took quite a while for my thumpity-thump booming heart to settle down, but all in all it was an amazing experience, retrospectively. The trembling legs even managed to cross a swaying rope bridge, alone! Only one person at a time could walk that bridge 🐒 🐵

Our guide was fantastic and had a great sense of humour. The safari is very informative and extensive with a lot of walking, talking, ooh-ing and aah-ing. You can look, but not touch, even if the animals are curling around your feet (or jumping on your head). There are more than seven hundred primates and we were lucky to have seen ten of the eleven species in this wonderful monkey paradise. Yes, they are all ex-captives brought here to be physically and emotionally rehabilitated, then left to be free in their natural lifestyle. Strangely enough, almost none of the monkeys here are from South Africa, probably not even from Africa at all. Click on these amazing photos for further information…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birds of Eden

The Birds of Eden is a free-flight bird sanctuary under a fifty metre high mesh dome, is right next to Monkeyland, and also a rehabilitation aviary for more than two hundred and fifty species of formerly caged birds. Here you will mainly find African birds, but there are some also from South America, Asia or elsewhere, and one or two unknowns. There are no guided tours, but it’s an easy two kilometre walkabout at your own pace through two or more hectares of beautiful forest and waterways. As for the birds! Oh my word! The first one as we entered the sanctuary was cheeky enough to shout a big “Hello!” to us. Another tried to peck our toes, or walk on our shoulders and yet another tried to chew my ear! To crown it all, a bird also pooped on Le Moi! Eeeew! A very good day hahahaha. As the saying goes, if a bird poops on you, it brings luck. Well, I agree!

 

The hadada or hadeda ibis below is probably the loudest screaming bird ever! They’re like everywhere in your garden and the noise starts before the cock crows. Early!

 

 

 

 

Male and Female Golden pheasant or Chinese pheasants. The men are colourful and the females a boring brown. Why, mara, why??

 

 

 

Red-shouldered macaw “picking”. It refused to leave us alone, following us until we managed to “hide” up a tree-house. Funny!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knysna turaco (Tauraco corythaix), a local!

 

 

Please stay off the grass – a Scarlet ibis that can read…and obey 😂

 

 

 

 

 

White-faced whistling ducks. The German spent what felt like hours with these lovers, and the not so impressed loser watching them canoodle in front of him. Aw, shame…

 

 

 

Flamingos and Spoonbills are not so easy to get this close to in the wild, so it was nice to have this eye-to-eye with them.

 

 

Chinese goose – not a species for the Christmas roast…oops!

 

A Black swan (Cygnus atratus) is also not found everywhere…

 

 

 

 

 

Cape Agulhas to Mossel Bay

Day twelve, with a dozen impressions. Last night was our first sleep “alone” in this very big country. We survived, hee-hee! Our room for the night, with a full view of the ocean, was a very large honeymoon suite, with beds for four people (???), a couch, dining area and TWO bathrooms, both en-suite. Just the definition of their en-suite was a bit puzzling. The one at the end part of the room had an open air shower (no roof) with big leafy plants. It looked more like a tickle zone. The other one…hmm. A bathtub on a raised bed full of white pebble stones and big enough to swim a lap or two, a basin and a toilet all squatting right there in the middle of the room. No walls. No privacy. Orgy? Cough-cough. Oops! So one of us decided to go get tickled and meet some crawling thingies, and the other turned on the taps and foamed bubbles almost to the ceiling. We slept well. The morning sounds of splashing waves, chirpy (and thirsty) birds and sizzling bacon started the day off well.Honeymoon Suite, Oceanview Guesthouse in Struis Bay (Struisbaai), Western Cape, South Africa

 

Cape Agulhas

This is the geographical tip of Africa and also the point where the two oceans, the warm Indian and the cold Atlantic, meet. The different ocean currents, winter storms, high roaring waves and strong winds have caused many a ship to perish in this area, estimated at 150 so far. We did what most tourists do when here, we posed! Hee-hee. As you can see, it was quite windy, but we walked all the way, and back, from the southernmost tip of Africa to the Cape Agulhas Lighthouse. The whole area has a boardwalk so it’s easier than tramping on stones or clambering over rocks. Shh, we did that…we clambered…

 

The R319 Road

This incredible regional road was both a bit scary and exciting. Scary because it was very empty. We did not see any human being for miles on end, just naughty monkeys with hanging toolilys. The roads stretches on and on…and on…yawn, seemingly never-ending, but we stopped a lot to admire the wonderful nature and of course, the birds. It was not easy just getting out of the car as we were so scared of stepping on snakes, but thankfully none of them wanted to meet with us. After about a hundred or so kilometres, the road ends, in the middle of nowhere, and joins the N2, also in the middle of nowhere 😜 We took the national road because we were undecided as to where we would like to stay overnight, so wanted to find a place before it got dark.

 

Mossel Bay

We reached the small coastal town of Mossel Bay, the half-way stop along the Garden Route between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. After an almost three hundred kilometre drive we were tired, hungry and happy. Before we could enjoy the beach sand between our toes, we had to search for a lodgings first. A few calls later we found a B&B on the hilltop overlooking the town and with a lovely view of the sea. Room good, parking nasty. Imagine sinking down from the street above and having to curve into a narrow parking space with thick pillars everywhere. It’s easy, said the old man (owner). Yeah right, then you park the car. He did. The next day he offered to “unpark” it for us, probably because the burning clutch whiffs and smoke was making his dogs bark in terror.

Mossel Bay is also known for the renowned oil-from-gas project which started in the apartheid era when the threat of oil sanctions (or higher prices) against South Africa were looming. There are quite a few natural gas stores off the coast of this harbour town. It was interesting to see the town where my father spent a lot of his time and knowledge as part of this project in their early days. We did not linger here longer than necessary as there were other exciting stuff waiting on the road ahead. Stuff we were not so sure of 😊

 

The Garden Route: Penguins, Whales and a fantabulous Sunset

Day eleven: Eleven is a good number. We woke up early, more due to excitement, packed our bags and sniff-sniffed our teary good-byes. We were leaving the comfort-zone of a very warm and wonderful family, where we were spoilt rotten and entertained beyond measure, to embark on a two week road-trip adventure. This was a spontaneous decision and we had no time to plan any details as to what and where. So with a “local-but-not-so-local-anymore” woman in the driving seat and a German GPS reader sitting next to her, we pointed the rental car towards the highway and drove out of the bustling city towards the coast. We were now excitedly beginning a memory-making trip along one of the most beautiful coasts in South Africa, the wonderful Garden Route. No strategy, no blueprint, just drive, stop where we find it to be interesting and find somewhere to sleep before it gets dark. Simple, methinks 😇 It was not even an hour before our first stop. Well, more like a “OMG this is so WOW, where can we…there, over there…quick…STOP!” If it was possible we would have pulled the car over every ten metres or so, that’s how impressive it was, but the verge of the road was very narrow and no stopping allowed. There were one or two nice parking spots before and after Gordons Bay though, and as you can see from the following four photos, we were rewarded with wonderful and breathtaking sceneries. Click on pics for info…

 

Stony Point Nature Reserve at Betty’s Bay

It’s only a 30-minute drive between Gordons Bay and the little coastal town Betty’s Bay, but with a few more “ooh-aah” stops in-between and getting seriously lost trying to find the Penguin Reserve (yes, it’s a village and yes, it is possible to get lost in it), it was almost mid-day when we reached Stony Beach. It was also very windy and the air a bit nippy. No matter, because there they were, welcoming us with curious eyes, the Dassies (Rock Hyrax). They were nearer to us than those on Table Mountain and so cute that one had the urge to pick one up for a little cuddle. These are wild animals and their environment should be respected, especially when their babies are around, that is why we kept our distance. Zoom-zoom!

The Nature Reserve is more known as one of the biggest breeding colonies of the African Penguin in the world. Not only the penguins, but on the outlying rocks, three species of Cormorant birds also breed here. You will not find anywhere else where you are so close to the Penguins in their natural habitat. It’s also not crowded with humans so one can enjoy the natural sounds of crashing waves, braying birds (they sound like donkeys) and oinking bird calls. Simply amazing! Oh, and believe it or not, the reserve was previously a whaling station which stopped operating in the mid-1950’s. Two African Penguins chose this site to breed, and the rest, as they say, is history. Nature happened and won. Also keep your eyes open, as there are “pooping-in-flight” seagulls (plop!), sneaky lizards and other crawling thingies too. Enjoy the photos!

 

Hermanus

Here you can have a whale of a time hee-hee. Seriously, Hermanus is a beautiful bustling coastal resort enveloped in mountains and where one can do whale watching without a boat. Yes, the Southern Right Whales come here every year (July to December) to breed and to rear their offspring. Nowhere can one sit on a rock or bench to watch whales that are often as close as only ten metres from the shore. Please don’t worry about missing a whale sighting. Go ahead, browse in a tourist shop or have coffee and cake, BUT keep your ears open. When you hear the sound of a kelp horn, stop what you’re doing and run to the shore. Hermanus has the only Whale Crier in the world! No, not the sobbing kind, but a man with a kelp horn and a good set of lungs. This whale crier “tradition” started as a publicity stunt in 1992 to alert the public when whales were sighted. It has become a tourist attraction and is part and parcel of the whale watching season. We were there in January, so did not see any whales 😞

After some lunch, freshly caught fish of course, and a long walk around the town, we set off towards the south. Driving through a few amazing nature reserves, we headed for the Danger Point Lighthouse near Gansbaai. We were too late, entry was closed, and soon it would be dark. Time to look for overnight accommodation. It was easy. A phone call later and we had a room. The only thing is, it was an hour and a half away. We agreed to drive without any stops…but…

…as you can see below, the sun was already setting. We just had to stop! Added to that we were forced to drive a major detour route because a lot of roads were washed away by heavy rains in the weeks before. Fortunately we were getting nearer to our lodgings in Struisbaai. We were also hoping to see more of the sun setting.

Sunset at the R319 close to Struis Bay, Western Cape, South Africa

AND WE DID! After motoring at full speed (legal of course…okay, just a bit faster…shh) we reached the coast. Stopping with screeching tyres and spitting gravel, and an excited GPS man almost falling out of the car, we had thankfully arrived just at the right moment for him to take these fantabulous and amazing sunset photos at the southernmost tip of Africa. Oh. What. A. Day!

ps: Without stops and all that nice stuff, the journey would only have been about three to four hours. It took us the whole day, from sunrise to sunset, and we enjoyed EVERY single minute. We were pooped and so ready for bed! Tomorrow is another day. ZzzzzzZ!

 

The Cape of Good Hope: Pleasing, Playful, Passion Gaps.

Day Ten: Aaah! this is the life *happy dance* Our front teeth are still intact, the weather is good, health even better (so much delicious food and…uhm…fermented thirst quenchers) and best of all, the exchange rate is very, very good. You’re probably wondering about the teeth mention. Well, nowhere else in South Africa will you find so many people sporting a front tooth gap like here in the western Cape region. The Passion Gap, also known as the Cape Flats Smile. This is a debatable phenomenon because it’s not clear why the four top front teeth, whether healthy or not, are deliberately removed. There are arguments about it being fashionable, traditional, or for health reasons, or because the fishermen did it, or peer pressure, or just because it is so, but the one reason that seems to stick is: that it’s mainly for sexual reasons. I’ll just leave it right here. These gaps are mostly adorned with gold or pearly white artificial teeth, or left as is. As I have a front tooth covered in gold (it’s just a third of my tooth), many presume that I too have a Passion Gap. Hahahaha! Nooo, the gold bling-bling thing was just me being a rebel at the age of 21 (official coming of age at the time) and also just because I could 👍 All my dental work was also completely sponsored, which made my decision to shine easy. Regrets? Never!

Oh, as this is also our last day in the beautiful city of Cape Town, our chauffeur for the day,  brother dearest, is taking us to one of the “must see” areas in the region. So yabba dabba doo, off we go, to the good old Cape of Good Hope.

Cape Point 

The drive down to Cape Point from where we were staying is very scenic and interesting. After a bit more than 95 minutes, we reached our destination. The attraction here (other than a restaurant and curio shop) is to reach the top of the “new” Cape Point Lighthouse. The old lighthouse was built too high up the cliff which caused problems for the sea farers as it the light could not be seen from the sea below, especially when it was foggy. The new one is a bit lower, and has the brightest light of all the country’s lighthouses. You have to leave your car at a parking lot as it’s not possible to drive up to the top. Only too right! Too much beautiful flora and fauna will be damaged by exhaust fumes and engine noises. You have two options to get up there: take a deep breath and climb those steps as you can see in the photo on the right (it only takes about fifteen minutes…apparently…but some short person did not believe it) OR you can opt for the Princess and the Pea route 👸🏻 (fairytale yes…but still) and use the Flying Dutchman, a funicular, like we did. See, Mister armed-to-the-teeth 📷📷 is still fresh and now ready to start clicking. We used the steps on the way down, which was much better as we could extensively explore the interesting areas we’d seen from the top.

The next few photos depict the Cape of Good Hope (with Diaz beach – left photo) with such an amazing rocky coastline, which also seems to fascinate the little black lizard. Contrary to popular belief, the Cape of Good Hope is NOT where the two oceans, Indian and Atlantic, meet, nor is it the southernmost tip of Africa. It is however the most south-western point of the African continent. Diaz beach is “only” twenty minutes of wooden steps away from the top of the cliff but worth it. Here you will mostly be alone to enjoy thundering waves or the soft beach, or maybe not. A few hungry baboons might also suddenly show up. They’ve been eyeing you on your way down, so will be expecting a picnic party. Seriously, they can be very aggressive and will stop at nothing to get hold of your bags! It is safer not to carry anything and better anyway because climbing back up is strenuous and almost three times longer than going down.

As the whole area is a Nature Reserve, you will find many beautiful and unique flowers and plants. There are also lots of snakes, or why would there be such an ominous warning?! We fortunately did not see any. Blrrrr!

We expected to see baboons but definitely not any ostriches! There were so many roaming on the rocky beach (not the Diaz) and the three of us were alone here, so it sometimes felt a bit scary. An ostrich would suddenly run towards you then stop in mid-trot. After a while animals and humans felt comfortable enough with each other, so much so that they (the animals) started prancing and flaunting in front of the camera! The fun ended for us when three bus-loads full of noisy tourists stopped by. We left immediately.

On the drive back we followed the False Bay coastal route and, near Castle Rock, were so lucky to see fishermen returning from the sea with their catch of the day. The lively exchange between the “givers” and “takers” seemed to be over in no time. Fresh fish needs to be transported in time. We walked between the anchored boats and cooler vans, taking in the smells (not recommended) and wishing we had a cooler bag or something so as to buy a fish or two.

We passed through beautiful and/or attractive towns like Simonstown, Fish Hoek and Kalk Bay then stopped over in Muizenberg. You know you’re in Muizenberg when you see the colourful wooden beach huts on the beach. They are one of the most photographed objects and found in many travel and/or other brochures and advertisements. Muizenberg also has a vast beach which is very popular because it is shallow and most importantly, WARM. One can stroll on the beach, scream on the water slides, take surfing lessons, do the catwalk (a 3km coastal walk) or explore the town and make merry. Why not take the train which runs all along the coast between Simonstown and Muizenberg. The railway line is almost on the water and it’s amazing. Try it!

Last but not least, the tourists! Heehee…

At the Cape of Good Hope - South Africa

 

 

Bo-Kaap, Birds, Braai and an ice-cold Beer

Day nine: We do not know what day it is anymore and that’s okay. Okay, one of us will always know what day, time and…whatever…but he has settled in very nicely to the laid-back and now-now-just-now culture of South Africa. Time? Punctuality? Hmmm…What’s that? Hahaha! As we say in Afrikaans, “môre is nog ‘n dag”. In other words, life goes on, OR tomorrow is another day. Sister-in-law dearest was taking us out and about, and the first stop was the colourful Bo-Kaap.

Bo-Kaap

This is one of the the most picturesque suburbs of Cape Town which lies on the slopes of Signal Hill, is near to the city centre and, depending on where you stand, has amazing views of the very famous Table Mountain. The first thing that hits you while looking for a rare parking space are the brightly painted and quaint little houses. A beautiful sight for inquisitive eyes👀 We walked mainly along the Chiappini Street which to us was the most colourful street. Each house has it’s own little charm and the residents are probably “tourist numb” by now. Imagine having all these camera clicking people day in and day out staring at your cute little house…hee-hee. We were also stopped by an elderly man who warned Mr. Click-Click (he has one of those big fancy ones) to be careful and watch his camera as he had seen too many tourists been robbed in the area. We thanked him graciously but could not get our heads around it as the streets were almost void of people. He meant well though, but our fingers were cramped and our knuckles white from holding on too tightly onto our possessions. Jokes aside, this area is a major tourist attraction not just for their colours, but also for the history of the people. Most residents have ancestors who were slaves brought to the Cape by the Dutch from as early as the 16th century. They hailed from other parts of Africa, as well as Asia, Indonesia, Java and Malaysia. The Bo-Kaap was formely known as the Malay Quarter and the people as Cape Malays (probably now too, but it’s not politically correct anymore). As mentioned before, not all are descendents from Malaysia, but the name stuck. They’re also very famous for presenting one of the best and oldest carnivals in South Africa every year since the mid 1800’s. It’s called the “Kaapse Klopse” or just “Klopse” or once again, the politically incorrect version, the “Coon Carnival”. The Dutch gave their slaves only one day off per year, on the 2nd of January, and allowed them to celebrate however they wished. They would thus dress up as minstrels, sing and dance, always accompanied by drums, whistles, banjos and other instruments. This tradition has survived both slavery and apartheid and is one of the best and biggest highlights in Cape Town. Think Rio de Janeiro, but only think, because it’s better in Cape Town. Yes, someone is biased 😇 They spend most of the year preparing this colourful event and we had a little taste of it while we were sitting and enjoying some delicious roti and curry at one of their traditional restaurants. A marching brass band came to practice in a park opposite to where we were sitting and the music was really enjoyable. With a dripping and sticky sugar syrupy koeksister in one hand and toes that could not stop tapping, we ended off our jaunt in the Bo-Kaap. By the way, a “koeksister” is a lovely South African dessert or just a nibble-at-any-time pastry thingy made from dough plaited and fried in hot oil. It is then dipped into a sugar syrup mixture while still hot, then left to cool. Some roll it in coconut too. For most of us in the family, it was our Sunday breakfast, dessert after lunch, tea and coffee snack and the last bite before bed. After all, the dreaded Monday was looming 😬 Enjoy the pics! Don’t forget, click on them for more information.

 

Green Point

Green Point is a very trendy and hip suburb of Cape Town, with a gay-friendly culture and buzzing nightlife, which is also set at the foot of Signal Hill, quasi around the corner from Bo-Kaap. There’s this big square, red and white striped lighthouse squatting on a green lawn between the busy main road and the ocean. The Green Point Lighthouse, initiated by an English Sir, was built by a German immigrant and started operating in 1824 for the first time. Other than new lighting, the lighthouse has remained in its original form since then. After jay-walking across the main road (zebra crossings are decorations – it’s Africa) we entered a lovely park which seems to be quite popular. The Urban Park is big and includes an outdoor fitness area, play area, adventure area and areas for all sorts of events like art, exhibitions and markets. There’s also a Biodiversity Garden where we saw various birds and swimming thingies in the water. Next to the Urban Park is a golf course and next to that a large stadium. The “new” and famous Cape Town Stadium (with its own jail if you get naughty while in there) was built especially for the Football World Cup 2010 and can also be viewed from the inside. We were too pooped to do a tour, but we had just enough energy to walk along the very long and interesting promenade. Next time, maybe 😉

 

Braai … and the Beer Drinker

It was a very hot and enjoyable day. Someone was also quite thirsty…glug-glug-glug…😋 A braai (barbie or barbeque for the ill-informed 😛)  is what South Africans do. Always!!! Anywhere and everywhere in the world. Weather is irrelevant. It’s the event of all events. It’s the gathering of men around the fire and the women in the kitchen hahaha! It’s a man with a beer in one hand (he throws some over the braai) and a braai-fork in the other sort of thing. The braai boss. Seriously, women are just not allowed to braai! As if we want to, so there! A braai is about food, people and fun! And the right fire lol…There’s always a lot of everything: boerewors (South African sausage), meat (all kinds) and chicken. These are served with freshly cooked hot pap/mieliepap (maize meal stiff porridge), a tomato/onion gravy or relish, salads and other lekker stuff. Drink a refreshing beer, or a glass of wine, before, during and after…YUM! Oh, and to South Africans a barbie is a plastic doll and a barbeque is a spice flavour. Just saying 😜