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)

 

 

 

 

 

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… 

 

 

 

 

Hic-hic and baa-baa

Day seven: Vineyards. Wineries. Distilleries. So much to see, so little time. We will not talk about the weather again because it changes quicker than a tossed salad. Between brushing our teeth and tying our shoe-laces, the skies went from clear to cloudy and now it was drizzly. Taking this into account, we decided to visit a few wine estates around the corner.

Diemersdal Wine Estate, Durbanville

The heavens opened up as soon as we arrived, forcing us to scamper into the first building with an open door. Dripping wet and shivering, we asked if we could taste some wines. No problem, so we were escorted to their lovely and cosy tasting room. Diemersdal is more than three centuries old, has a view of the Table Mountain and lies in one of the Cape’s oldest wine regions. There were many wines to be had, but we only ordered eleven. Oops! One of their staff was German so it was nice to sip and chat. We also found out that the owner of our favourite wine shop in Germany would be visiting them the next day, so we arranged for her to include the wines that we liked in her purchase. We loved the “8 Rows Sauvignon Blanc” best and the “Pinotage Reserve 2012” was also lekker! The sun shone by the time we were finished, so we walked around and admired the Cape Dutch buildings and gardens for a bit before driving to the next farm.

 

Fairview Wine and Cheese, Paarl

A very interesting story is that while cultivating new land not so long ago, prehistoric stone tools were discovered, proving that hominids lived here more than 700 thousand years ago. The first wine produced on the farm was only in 1699. Another interesting and funny little detail about the farm is that in the 1900’s their wines were prescribed by a doctor…for sick children! It was a strong dessert-style mixture, and only to be taken by the teaspoonful. Phew! The farm was also previously called Bloemkoolfontein (Cauliflower Fountain). A mouthful, even for me, so glad that they changed the name to Fairview ✍. We sat in an amazing tasting room a glass wall on one side, where one could see their maturation warehouse and cellar. Barrels and barrels of delicious wine in the making! We chose eight different wines to taste and these were served with their very own produced goat cheeses. What a culinary delight! Like they say in German, Gaumenschmaus 😋 This made us hungry for more, so after finishing with nibbling and sipping, we had lunch at the adjacent Goatshed Restaurant. It was…Wow! Not only do they produce their own wine and cheese, but also beer. All foods are fresh and home-made. They also have goats E-I-E-I-O

 

The Goat Tower at Fairview Wine and Cheese, Paarl

The owners, Cyril and Beryl were visiting France when they fell in love with goats’ milk cheese. They were inspired to start the first goats’ milk cheese production in South Africa. They bought Saanen goats (Swiss origin) which are known for yielding a lot of milk. These arrived on the farm in 1980. With help and assistance from an Italian who settled in South Africa after WW2, the cheesery slowly developed into what it is today. Saanen goats do not do well in hot temperatures, so all the sheds have sprinklers on the roof to cool them off. These cute and entertaining ones in the photos below are only a few of the thousand or so kept on the farm. We admired them for ages, especially being stumped by the male sitting in the middle. His horns were bigger than the “door” but he managed to get them through anyway, and just in time to stop the lady coming down from the top. “You cannot pass me” he seemed to say. Men!! A few minutes later the other lady came down. As they say, there’s power in numbers girls, so they rushed past Big Billy and joyfully hopped as soon as they reached the grass below. Nyeh-Nyeh! It was really funny 😂 E-I-E-I-O, with a baa baa here and a baa baa there, here a baa, there a baa, everywhere a baa baa…we headed off for home 😆

 

Fairview Wine Estate (left) and Ruitersvlei Wine Estate, Stellenbosch (right). We could not visit the latter…you know…too many cheeses make legs go wobbly…oops!

 

On the way home, just a block or two from the house, we saw hundreds of Egyptian Geese at the lake. They migrate there every year and according to residents, are quite a pest. They are tolerated though…

 

Life’s full of sip, so it’s okay to wine!

Day six: Thick and heavy clouds everywhere, and the possibility of it raining for the first time since we’ve landed in the country is very high. It’s one of those days that all you want to do…is wine. Where better to do this than in the attractive Cape Winelands. Some of the best wines in the world come from this region (heard it through the grapevine…yakkity-yak 😂). It is not far from Cape Town city itself, so one can spontaneously take a leisurely drive to explore the region, like we did. One could also join one of the many tours on offer, or hire a personal tour guide. Prices for both options vary, depending on what you want to experience. Whatever option you choose, you will not manage to see everything this amazing region has to offer, let alone visit all the vineyards. You need time. Lots and lots of time. It is a very enormous and geographically interesting area, stretching a little over 22300 square kilometres and largely mountainous, some reaching 2000 metres. There are several ranges (many with fascinating sandstone peaks), cliffs, canyons, caves, waterfalls, rivers, natural pools, springs, forests and other wonderful attributes of nature that simply cannot all be seen in one little holiday, possibly not in a lifetime. The Mediterranean climate, where summers are hot and dry and winters cool, wet and windy is excellent for the vines. They really thrive, though the winelands have also been affected by the crazy global climate changes in recent years. It has been snowing more than usual during winter so there are more snow-capped mountains peaks in the summer. As mentioned before, there are so many vineyards, very old and very new, so we opted to visit the ones in the second oldest (330 odd years old) European settlement town called Stellenbosch. Cape Town was the first settlement. Stellenbosch is also known as the “City of Oaks” due to all the oak trees lining the streets. These were planted by its founder and namesake, Simon van der Stel. Stellenbosch is a very beautiful town situated in a valley with mountains and hills as a backdrop. Oh, and we only managed to visit three wine producing farms this day. All that sipping and spitting can be quite loopy…uhm…merry…uhm…tiring…hic 😵

Van Ryn’s Distillery

This has nothing to do with wine. It’s the only brandy distillery in Stellenbosch, and home to the award winning best brandy. The current distillery, dating back to 1905, is in a historical and well-preserved building complex on the banks of the Eerste River. The original building, still intact, apparently was built with stones collected from the river. As you enter the door, you are greeted with a very friendly welcoming smile…and a tasty little cocktail. After booking a tour of the working distillery, and while you wait for it to start, you’re encouraged to sit in their amazing lounge. What an impressive ambience! Where better to sip your cocktail than on a comfy old sofa or an ancient wing-backed leather chair. It feels like you’re back in the 1900’s! It was not easy having to get up off the couch, as one could simply sit there all day, but it was time to tour. We could gape at their historic copper potstills, deeply inhale brandy fumes in their maturation cellar and be bowled over by a very amusing and entertaining cooper. With funny anecdotes, “drum” beats and jolly banter, he took us through the entire wooden barrel making process. It was such fun!!

At the end of the tour we had a tasting of some of their international award winning spirits together with confectionary and cheeses. A must do if you’ve never tasted the stuff before, or if you’re a brandy lover or connoisseur. Cheers!

 

Neethlingshof Wine Estate

The first reaction as you enter the gate is WOW! There in front of you is a kilometre-long avenue with stone pines on either side. If you’ve ever seen one of their wine bottles, then you’ve seen this very image on their labels. Then another gasp as you exit the tree-lined avenue. Beautiful landscaped gardens and Cape Dutch buildings with a panoramic view of the winelands. The wine estate dates back to 1692 where it was called De Wolvendans, roughly translated as “The Wolves Dance” or “Dances with Wolves” (sic). About 96 years later Charles and Maria Marais bought the farm and started making their own wine. When their only daughter married Johannes Neethling forty years later, he became joint owner and changed the name of the then very prosperous estate to Neethlingshof. Maria was widowed very early, yet she still managed to run the whole business right up to when she sold it to her son and son-in-law.  She still engaged in the running of the estate right up to her death at age 68. She was one of the first female vintners in the young South Africa at the time and the Maria Noble Late Harvest is a wine inspired by this memorable and gutsy woman. The grand historic manor now houses the Neethlingshof restaurant where we had our winetasting. We could sample five different wines and nibble on delicious tit-bits. Yes, you really have to spit it all out after rolling it over your tongue or swirling it in your mouth. Sometimes a sip or two “by mistake” fell down your throat. So what, sip happens! We were not able to tour their cellar as bookings have to be made at least 24 hours in advance, and not because we had wobbly legs. Tsk-tsk…It was a lovely experience anyway the wines we had were really good.

 

Die Bergkelder Wine Centre

Die Bergkelder is Afrikaans for The Mountain Cellar, and the first of such in South Africa. This is a really sensational place! We were very impressed by everything we saw, sipped and swallowed. No, no spitting out of such lekker stuff! Another surprise was how “young” the Bergkelder is. Founded in 1967 means that the two of us, !oh-my-golliwog! are older… 😱 Whatever. We booked a wine tour and did not have to wait long for it to start. There’s a maturation cellar with more than 20 thousand barrels of wine. You also take a refreshing stroll on a little footpath along the banks of the Plankenburg River, cross a little bridge set in a green and plush big garden to enter the mountain cellar. After a short informative audio-visual before you are escorted to one of the many stone alcoves. There are five different wines to taste on this tour, and each wine is presented in a different alcove. Each alcove has hundreds, maybe thousands of old and dusty brown bottles stacked against their walls. The lights, soft and slightly dimmed, turns the creepy “dungeon” to a very romantic room. Then after a short walk down an amazing passage with half a million bottles flanked on each side, you enter a cellar filled with French oak casks. Wow! These beautifully carved casks are more than three hundred years old! Oh, and we were told that all the bottles lining the walls were full of wine, but undrinkable. Hmmm?? We could drink some other grape products though, like “Black Gold”, the most divine and unusual coffee and chocolate brandy! 😋 …and we didn’t have to spit it out…No, it’s not one of theirs, but it was served from their bar area. The end of the tour takes you through their bottling plant which is really big…ten thousand bottles per hour big! 🙀

Did you know that Die Bergkelder has a unique range of Fleur du Cap unfiltered wines? Yes, they launched this wine in 1998. The natural flavours and varied characters of the grapes are retained in the wine, with the least amount of human tampering.

 

 

Fish and Ships with Vicky and Alfie

Day Five. We now have the “slow down, it’s Cape Town” mojo. We even woke up later than usual. It could’ve been due to all those corks popping last night, the lovely warm weather, despite it being a bit cloudy, or the laid-back atmosphere of the city and its people. Ooh, we were easy, easy like a Tuesday morning, whoa…yeah! 🎼🎧🎤 Europe was so far away!  After a light breakfast we headed off to the city centre. These two photos were taken from where we were staying. A lovely and leafy suburb overlooking the city which sports a golf course, or two, and a few wine estates. From here you can see the city below (romantically fabulous at night with all the sparkling lights), and the Table Mountain (photo on the left), which was covered with a “tablecloth”. The highway in the foreground was empty, but the closer you got to the city, the crazier the traffic was. The national school summer holidays, locals, visitors from the other provinces, and people like us, the international tourists, all contributed to the busy and vibrant mayhem on the streets. A good mayhem as there’s no stress, no rush, no anger, just an easy bumper to bumper don’t worry be happy attitude 🚗

Two Oceans Aquarium

The aquarium is in the very famous and popular V&A Waterfront. At this time of the year it is always bustling here, so we were grateful to have been with family, or else we’d still be riding around in circles looking for parking😓 The aquarium itself is not as big as others we’ve visited, just busier, but there’s a lot to see and do. More than 3000 marine animals from the two oceans, the Atlantic and the Indian, are shown here. A lot of families with young children visit and it was fun to hear the little ones (the big ones too, wink-wink) screaming with excitement at all the amazing animals and having fun at the interactive displays. We squeezed ourselves into a small gap in the large crowd at the penguin exhibit, just to see them being fed. Interesting, but seeing them in the wild is much more exciting. The aquarium also boasts a kelp forest. Enjoy the photos!

The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront – V&A Waterfront

The V&A Waterfront, or just “the Waterfront” is situated in South Africa’s oldest working harbour which is set at the foot of the Table Mountain. It was named after Queen Victoria and her second son, Prince Alfred (Alfie), who visited the harbour in 1860. The area is not only a working harbour or entertainment venue, but it’s also a residential and commercial hub. There are many restaurants (big and small) which serve local or international cuisine, luxury hotels and holiday appartments, and ta-daaaaa…shops galore. So after taking a boat ride to Robben Island and back, relax on one of the restaurant decks overlooking the harbour, sip a glass of fantastic local wine and eat some freshly caught fish. The view of the mountain, with the ships, boats and cruisers at its feet will make your soul sing. It will not matter if the sun is shining or not…Afterwards, take a stroll along the quay and listen to various artists singing, join in with the traditional dancing, or simply just sit on a bench and take it all in. Unforgettable! ❤️

 

Kissing Jackasses and a flying Mercedes…

Day four. Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man look outside to see if the weather is nice. There are a few non-truths about Cape Town. One is about the weather. No, it does NOT rain every day, just every other day, and mainly in winter. Yes, it can be windy, and no, you will not be blown over to the other side of Table Mountain. Rooftops, trees and other stuff will fly, but not you. You might have a slight lift-off experience and could be blown over to the other side of the road, but that’ll be all. So if you’re visiting during late spring or early summer, then beware of the Cape Doctor, a strong and determined south-east wind which will blow away everything polluting the city. Grab a pole and hold on tight! Another more talked-about non-truth is…the passion gap. It’s a Cape Town thing and everyone has one. No, no, no, not true! We’ll elaborate on this one later 😁, after telling you about our day. It was a bit cloudy, no rain, and we were chauffeured by the birthday boy for an excursion to the coasts and mountains in and around the city. Our first stop was at the…

Boulders Beach Penguin Colony

On the shores of the False Bay, is Simon’s Town, home of the South African Navy. Not far from here you will find the penguin colony, which is home to the African or Jackass Penguin. It is a very popular tourist attraction where many come here to see the penguins in their natural habitat. Surprisingly though is that this “natural habitat” is right in the middle of a busy residential area. You have to walk down a street, with houses on both sides, to get from the car park to the entrance of the visitors centre from the car park. The adjacent neighbours, the many cars and lots of human traffic poses a threat to these endangered penguins. The amazing bit though is that the penguins only started settling here in the early eighties, despite it being a residential area. So you see, this time the humans were there first. Once you’ve paid your entrance fee at the visitors centre and passed through the turnstiles, do not expect any of these cute little fellas to waddle or sashay towards you in greeting. You have to use the wooden walkways to see the penguins. A tourist at the time: Is this their dance floor? Hmm, no comment! The walkways meander right through the colony and it’s amazing how near they are. We’ve seen some cuddling, kissing, fighting, fishing and also sleeping. We’ve also seen some really mind-boggling people leaning over the railing just to get that one photo or selfie of themselves patting a penguin. Oh please! There are those of us who still remember the time when there were no boardwalks or restrictions. It was fascinating and not many had the guts to touch a penguin. Those who tried were promptly nipped by a razor sharp beak. So please stay on the walkway! It is for the safety of the animals…pun intended…

Chapman’s Peak

Chapman’s Peak is a mountain about fifteen kilometres south of Cape Town and has a very spectacular scenic road running between Hout Bay and Noordhoek called the Chapman’s Peak Drive, or Chappies, as it’s called locally. Chappies took seven years to build and was officially opened in 1922. The road meanders high above the coastline, with breathtaking views, very shear drops, white beaches and sometimes a stubborn baboon or two blocking your way. It is definitely a “must-do”! You should note a few things though. Chappies is now a toll road! This has advantages as there are not many cars about and you can stop to take some photos. Very few opportunities to park your car along the roadside exist, and it could be deliberate as the drive could or could not be quite treacherous. After many rockfalls, (some were fatal), the road was closed for a few years (twice up to now) and measures taken to ensure that the road is safe from falling rocks and other perils. If it is or has been raining and for the few days afterwards, the road will be closed completely. A light drizzle, like when we were there, is not (yet) considered a threat, but even if the sun is shining, and the authorities feel it necessary to do so, it will be closed. It was a bit “spooky” driving there as we were the only ones on this long and curvy stretch of road. Memories of days gone by when we cruised with our open-top cars, bumper to bumper, people everywhere, and with not a worry that anything might fall on your head…those were the days my friend…Did you know: a very famous car brand commercial was filmed on this very drive in early nineties. The car drove too fast round a bend and plunged one hundred metres down a cliff. Mr White, the driver, was not injured, as he was driving one of the safest cars in the world. The one with the star. A classic advert at the time…

Hout Bay

The Republic of Hout Bay. Hahaha, it’s not really a republic, but this is what the locals have been calling it since the eighties. A “republic” was declared to promote the town and some say also as a statement that they had nothing to do with the then apartheid regime. Others say it was because Hout Bay is sort of cut off from the rest of the Cape Peninsula as you can only reach it via three mountain passes, one of them the Chappies. Whatever the reason, this promotion worked. They even issued passports which were very sought after. A close friend even boasts a few immigration entry stamps from various countries of the world. Hout Bay has a boat and yacht marina, a craft market and some of the best fish and chips eateries in the area. You know they are fresh because firstly the air smells very fishy and stinky, and secondly you can see fishermen offloading freshly caught fish. The fish factories are nearby. Another attraction are the many seals that swim here (look between the boats) and the view of the Chapman’s Peak across the harbour. Sit down, eat and enjoy the bustling yet laid-back atmosphere.

 

Flying to Cape Town after Dom Pedro’s

Day Three. Oh. What. A. Night! Oh. No. Is. It. Morning. Already?! Yep, we were on our way again, this time to the beautiful city of Cape Town…So with a slight “babalas” (South African speak for: what the hell was in those cocktails) and lots of excitement we took the train to the airport. The Gautrain rapid rail system was built for the 2010 World Cup and is still in use today. It is also reliable. From the station two blocks from where the family stays to the airport is only fifteen minutes. It does not get better than that! The O. R. Tambo or Johannesburg airport was also extended and renovated at the same time, so hosting the World Cup was a great benefit for the region. The other “new” and seemingly helpful benefits which we encountered at the airport left a slightly unpleasant taste in my mouth. As soon as we entered the terminal, a man came towards us offering to help carry our bags and promising a speedy check-in. We thought this was a nice service and I even went as far as praising the airport administration for even thinking about such a service for their  travellers. Hrmph! The check-in was speedy alright, but only because there was no-one else ahead of us. He walked with us right up to the security entrance, all the way asking for money. We gave him a brown note. He refused and insisted that he wanted HIS money. What money, we asked. Well, he said, we “hired” him to carry our bags, so we must pay for this service. What?? He even took out note and said: “You see this, this is a blue Mandela. This is what I must now get from you”. He was whispering, which was odd, and on closer inspection, the wooden “name plate” in his hand was a big worn out toblerone chocolate box! We refused to give him anything. He tried to threaten, but we just walked into the security area. It turned out that this man was part of a scam trying to get money out of unsuspecting tourists. What was funny is that another person tried to polish our shoes while we were “discussing”…Eish! A lesson learned, but this did not spoil our mood. You see, we’ve travelled many places near and far, and believe us when we say that this nonsense can happen anywhere in the world, and in places that no-one would suspect is even possible…It’s not just an African thing…so there!

Here are some aerial photos taken from the plane. The very first one is just outside of Johannesburg. The next two are en-route and the last three are during the descent towards Cape Town International Airport.

Hello dear family and thank you for having us. We were welcomed with open arms and spoilt with this lovely dinner spread. My family know how to cook! Eat and be merry 🍴Babalas totally forgotten hee-hee…Oh, and the photo below is me the night before sipping and enjoying a wonderful creamy dreamy local cocktail called Dom Pedro. That little glass, or two, or five, is what caused the babalas…YOLO…enough said. And guess what! The German is now an expert at mixing a Dom…did I say YAY, or was that YOLO?

Dom Pedro Cocktail Enjoyment