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Posts from the ‘South Africa’ Category

Kruger National Park, South Africa

The freezer in the general store at Skukuza Camp contains various cuts of wild meat. Let’s go look at wild animals before devouring them.

Photo by Ron Mitchell

Camping in Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park encompasses 7,523 square miles (19,485 square kilometers) of game reserve. The best way to see Kruger is to camp. We return the camping gear that we purchased back to Sportsman’s Warehouse, and book a safari tent for less cost.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Ground Hornbill

Our little Honda w/out 4WD proves adequate for game drives, and dodging the most beautiful Ground hornbills I had ever seen.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Lions resting near the side of the road

Lions sleep in the weeds during the day, yet another reason for rules that keep you inside your vehicle.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

This guy just would not move on

Stay a safe distance from elephants. This one delays us for about fifteen minutes.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Well hello there!

A family of giraffes cross the road and brings Mare to tears. Baboons do what Baboons do.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Baboons

Temperatures soar back at the safari tent, which comes equipped with a fan and refrigerator. We stay cool by rinsing in showers in the shared bath across the road, as well as frequent dips in the pool.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

After the storm – Sunrise Safari

An evening thunderstorm cools things, while lightning bolts create strobe light effects under the clouds. Sleep to the sounds of the jungle…an insectophony if you will.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

African Wild Dogs

We wake early and get in line to wait for the gates of the Camp to open. Drivers, start your engines. Colorful, energetic wild African dogs surround our early morning ride!

Photo by Marilynn Windust

We follow our safari guide “friend,” as do the wild dogs

Let’s follow the hired guide in the fancy safari truck. Maybe he knows where the lions sleep today. And he does. After “guiding us to them,” he says, “I’ll send you the bill.” Oops. He does not send a bill, but I guess we made a faux pas.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Thanks safari guide!

White Rhinos are plentiful.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

White Rhino

A lioness, (spotted by Mare) claims the river bed. For some strange reason, we’re starving.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Lioness in the river bed

Back at camp, we are the fenced-in population, while the animals watch us. Signs prohibit throwing food over the fence to hyenas and monkeys.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Living the Braii life – with the wildlife

Let’s live the braii life…Warthog, Impala, Blue Wildebeest, and Gemsbok dominate the grill tonight. Where else could this happen? That wildebeest may have tasted better had I not dropped it in the dirt, but what an exotic feast!

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Adios Kruger NP

A giraffe bids us farewell on our final morning drive back to “civilization.” Wait a minute, let’s turn around and purchase one last batch of wild game meat for the road.  Ron Mitchell

Graskop, South Africa:  The Blyde River Canyon

Cliffs, valleys and canyons of the Drakensberg Mountains meet the Blyde River near the small town of Graskop, South Africa.

Photo by nice fellow tourist

Blyde River Canyon

We decide to chill out in the cool here for a few days. Take in some sweeping valley views from the Valley View Backpackers Hostel.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The view from the Valley View Backpackers

This area offers a myriad of adrenaline activities like white water rafting, canyoning (kloofing) and candlelight caving, but we’ve done it all at some point. If you’re not afraid, where’s the fun?

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Lone Creek Falls

Let’s drive the Panoramic Route. Breathe in the mist at Lone Creek Falls.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Mac Mac Falls

God’s Window proves to be foggy during our entire stay…hope that’s not a sign!

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Berlin Falls

Walk a short way to a crease in the canyon and see several more surprising waterfalls.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Lisbon Falls

After viewing the Three Rondavels, Blyde River Canyon lures us into a strenuous hike to its belly.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The Three Rondavels

The Belvedere Day Hike starts at Bourke’s Luck Potholes. Much larger than ones we dodge on the road, they are formed from whirlpools at the confluence of the Blyde and Treur Rivers.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Bourke’s Luck Potholes

We swim in sweat, just an hour into hiking this humid heat. The trail grows difficult weaving up and down into the canyon. Slick boulders, thorny vines, and washes help us lose the trail several times. Watch for snakes.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Descending into the Canyon

The canyon walls and river exude beauty and awe, but we’re too gassed to appreciate it. Got to hike at least two more hours to make it out of here, and our legs are gone. Hey, here comes that adrenaline when we get lost again!

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Coming through…. Ouch!

Climbing rocks and searching for markers, we’ve forgotten about watching for snakes. Shoot, we have to stop just to slow down our heart rate. Finally, we reach relatively flat ground and have only an hour of hiking back to the Potholes. Perhaps we enjoy hiking because it still scares us.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

So are we on the trail now?

Tonight, we celebrate with cold beers and peri-peri chicken livers and gizzards at Caninmambo Restaurant, a Portuguese/Mozambican joint. Next adventure, a grand finale of wild animals in Kruger Park, a South African highlight.       Ron Mitchell

St. Lucia, South Africa: Extremely Hip

The “Hippo Crossing” road sign into the small town of St. Lucia gives us an initial impression of gimmick tourist trap.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Really?

That is, until we cross the estuary where several hippos grazing underwater lift their heads up for air, several feet from the road.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Yes, really!

After getting settled into Bib’s International Backpackers Hostel, I head out for supplies.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Braving the street – before dark

At the liquor store, Burt the owner learns that I’m from the United States. “Stephen King just left here yesterday,” he says. “He comes here a lot on holiday and we’re good friends.” Burt always gets a free copy of King’s books, and asked me to send him a copy of mine. I laugh. “Don’t expect a great novel.” Bert gives me the PO Box for the bank where his wife works. “Can’t send it to my house, mail gets stolen in South Africa.”

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Hippos enjoying just a small part of these protected wetlands – the view from our table at the Deep Sea Angling Club

Friendly folks talk to us everywhere in this town. St. Lucia had transformed from fishing to tourism. Over a dish of lamb curry at the Deep Sea Angling Club, a patron tells us that the iSimangaliso Wetland Park protects five distinct ecosystems and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. He also warns us about walking around at night. “That’s when hippos come out of the water to graze on land.”

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Definitely don’t want to run into this guy on the street

Hank Swatter tells us a story about his father, who is a rare survivor of hippo attack…One night about two years ago, their “sausage dog” starts barking. Anthony Swatter goes into the yard without a lantern, expecting to catch a burglar. He startles a hippo, who attacks him and gouges his abdomen with his tusks. Then hippo bites down on Anthony’s leg and flings him into the bush, snapping off the leg with his teeth. Hippo tries to gouge again, when Anthony swings a desperate punch onto hippo’s sensitive lips. Hippo resumes grazing, while emergency medical staff attend to the victim. Anthony lives with a prosthesis and colostomy bag. (Google “Man loses leg in hippo attack” if interested)

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Our first Rhino sighting

Let’s drive though Hluhluwe Game Reserve and spot some animals. From the safety of our little Honda, we have a front row seat to watch a grazing rhino.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

No comment

A monkey along the way has a serious case of “blue balls!”

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Buffalo

Buffalo, waterbuck, and colorful nyala are not bothered too much by our presence.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Waterbuck

There is something new and thrilling around every corner here in Southern Africa.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Nyala

I wonder if Stephen King’s next book will involve hippos.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Yikes!

Ron Mitchell

Getting High in Africa via the Sani Pass to Lesotho

In the foothills of the southern Drakensberg Mountains, I cook ostrich burgers while Mare books a four-wheel tour up the Sani Pass. Our little Honda cannot do this “road.”

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The southern foothills of the Drankensberg

From Sani Lodge Backpackers, in Underberg, SA we climb into a 1975 Land Cruiser with six other tourists from northern Holland. “Speak English to me!” Matthew the driver shouts. Land Cruiser takes two hours to drive thirteen miles on this exhilarating ride.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The “road” up the Sani Pass

Bang, bump scrape and twist over boulders and through streams up the Sani Pass. Hairpin turns raise the hair on those who are not bald. Our destination is the country of Lesotho, which has the highest low point of any nation on earth, as well as the second highest point in Africa, after Kilimanjaro.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Hang on!

Rain, mud, and hail greet us at the Sani Top. One passport stamp and we enter into a different world.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Welcome to Lesotho

Chinese workers construct a road, while shepherds tend their flocks. Matthew explains that the Chinese want to colonize the country, where the British and Dutch have failed. He’s originally from Lesotho, and speaks the language.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Shepherd on top of the Sani Pass

Teenage boys tend sheep here in the summer for three or four years as a rite of passage into adulthood. Each shepherd has a pack of dogs, mixes of Bernard/Border Collie/Lab who protect the flock from jackals at night. One dog serves as a pet, to keep shepherd warm at night.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Shepherds passing the time playing home-made guitar

To pass the time, one shepherd makes music from a homemade guitar, which also serves as a wind instrument.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Ron loves this as much as Matthew!

Driving through deep mud, and over boulders next to sheer drops, some tourists are tense. But Matthew has a wide smile on his face. This 74 year old guide loves his job. He’s driven this pass over 3,000 times.

Photo by Ron Mitchell

Making friends

Through tundra that never freezes, we stop for a box lunch at about 10,000 feet. Mare befriends Lerotholi Hamotangoaner, a typical teenage shepherd.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Heated floors. Who would’ve guessed?

Matthew takes us into a hut. The circular stone wall is crafted like a jigsaw puzzle without mortar. Flat stones under the mud floor absorb heat from the fire. “Think they’re backwards?” Matthew asks. “They have heated flooring.”

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Not the best day for views from the top

Dung, mud and clay line the floor and walls. Dried dung provides fuel for fires, where smoke meanders through the thatched roof and doorway. Our gracious host shares bread and home brew made from millet/sorghum. Take a small sip simply to be polite (nasty stuff). Drakensberg Adventures shares tour revenues with the locals, a positive reoccurring theme that we’re noticing.

Photo by friend from Holland

At Sani Top Chalet

Time for a real beer at the Sani Top Chalet, the highest pub in all of Africa. Locals love Maluki beer so much than none is left for export.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Descending back into the foothills of the southern Drakensberg

The descent down Sani Pass has changed, due to the constant rain forming new streams. Finally, under the fog a green valley reveals a taste of the beautiful Drakensberg Mountains. We’re still high. What an excellent adventure!

Ron Mitchell

 

Venture to Bulungula, South Africa

Bouncing over sharp rocks and ruts, dodging sheep, goats, cattle and pedestrians, our little Honda takes two hours to drive twenty-five miles. On the dusty road to Bulungula, Mare bitches every time I hit a pothole. I grip the steering wheel so tight that it just might crack.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The road to Bulungula

We get lost often. Friendly locals give us directions, but they’re unaccustomed to maps. We can’t understand their accent anyway.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The map to Bulungula

Finally, we park and then lug our backpacks about five football fields to the community owned Bulungula Lodge. It’s worth the drive.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Finally our destination is in sight!

Gotta love their vision:  “being part of a solution to environmental problems through reduced consumption, appropriate technology, and creative thinking.”

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The hike to the Lodge from the parking area

We experience rural Transkei life on the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape. Little things, like using clay for sunscreen.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Employees of the Lodge show off their painting skills and their painted faces

Mare and I chill outside of our hut, taking in the scene. A river winds through green hills, greeting the Indian Ocean on a forested coastline of white sand.

Photo by Ron Mitchell

Home in Bulungula

This Fair Trade accredited, eco-friendly lodge opened in August 2004. The local community owns and runs it, after purchasing the establishment for two Rand (about 22 cents). Using solar panels and recycled water, in 24 hours the entire lodge consumes the amount of electricity that a toaster uses in an hour.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Photo of photo on display at Bulungula Lodge

The Bulungula Incubator Project focuses on education, health, and sustainable livelihood. They received The McNaulty Prize last year, which recognizes the very best in high impact leadership.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Photo of a photo on display at Bulungula Lodge

Luckily, the honor bar serves cold ones. Sip a few fireside to a serenade of bongos and a guitar. We chat with Herman, a volunteer who teaches plumbing, building, and electrical to the locals, recent applications to this community of 6,000.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Hanging out sharing with fellow travelers and listening to local music

A handful of fellow travelers come from New Zealand, Germany (of course), France, Italy, and Switzerland. Jenny from the U.K. proves to be the most inspiring. She lost her husband five years ago, and is traveling alone on the BAZ Backpacker bus at the age of 78!

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Pat is a local guide who takes me surf fishing. He collects bait along the coastal walk, snagging sand crabs and cutting open some sort of cockle called “red bait,” that appears on the shore at low tide.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Catching crabs and slicing open shells for “red bait”

Pat catches a black fin. I of course catch nothing…not an unfamiliar theme.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Fishing near Bulungula

Mare and I bounce back out over the road that brought us to this magical place, and she barely bitches about the potholes.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Leaving Bulungula

Touched by the people of Bulungula and the folks supporting this project (www.bulungulaincubator.org), we’re inspired, refreshed, and ready for the next adventure.     Ron Mitchell

Driving the Garden Route in South Africa

Twist around mountains and bays. This sure does not look like the Africa that most of us imagine.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Knysna, South Africa – On the Garden Route

From our cabin in the town of Knysna, when you look over top of the razor-wire fences, views of the lagoon seem like a dream.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Sometimes all of the security stuff can be a real kill-joy

Onward drive to a roadside aviary. “Birds of Eden” is the largest, single free flight aviary in the world.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Birds of Eden Sanctuary

Here, exotic birds have no fear. Previously caged birds are released into a free flying environment.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Free Bird

Driving along the garden route, we bed a few nights in a cabin at Storms River Mouth National Park.

Photo by Marilynn windust

Storms River Mouth

After another heart-pumping shoreline hike, along the first section of the Otter Trail (a premier five-day backpack), the real fun begins with our first self-catered braii.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

First leg of the Otter Trail

I sizzle some wild Kudu steaks over a wood fire, while the ocean crashes into the rocks below. Oops, one of my corn cobs rolls down to meet the waves. Kudu turns out to be tender, with a hint taste of liver.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Good thing this trail is well marked!

As soon as we turn north off of the Garden Route, temperatures soar into the hundreds. A long hot drive brings us to a bed at the Orange Elephant Backpackers, right outside of Addo Elephant National Park.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

It does not get much better than this!

We drive our own safari, like many people. Organized tours are always available as well, but we all see the same things.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Wow!

A herd of elephants cool themselves in the black mud of a water hole.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Warthogs on patrol

Warthogs scurry around with no clear direction.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Dinner – Kudu. Glad I didn’t see this guy before dinner….

Ah, I sure hope that that Kudu does not know who we grilled the other night!

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Get out of the road please

Dang Zebras, they hog the road.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Buffalo and friends (?)

A lone Buffalo enjoys his own water hole. Who would argue?

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Addo Elephant National Park – A highlight!

Now, this is beginning to look like the Africa that most of us imagine.

Thank you, Abundant Universe.                           Ron Mitchell

Mossel Bay, South Africa: The Origin and Survival of Humans

The caves at Cape St. Blaize saved humanity from extinction. Twice. Of course, Mare and I must hike the St. Blaize Trail eight miles along the rugged coast in the brutal African sun to visit.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The Point area of Mossel Bay

Most recently…75,000 years ago, the Toba Super Eruption in Sumatra, Indonesia created a volcanic winter ice age that lasted about 10 years. It took 1,000 years for the earth’s weather to thaw out to normal levels. The population of humans was reduced to 10,000, with only 1,000 approximate breeding pairs. On the edge of extinction, the caves at Mossel Bay saved our race as we currently know it. They eventually walked through Asia to the Americas. (The Bering Strait was void of water as oceans were shallower)

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Hiking the St. Blaize Trail

The mild climate in the caves at this southern tip of South Africa never drops below freezing, and does not get unbearably hot. The abundant shellfish here provide proteins and Omega 3 fatty acids, which are responsible for our brain development. Perhaps I should be eating more shellfish?

Photo by Ron Mitchell

This is farther away than we thought…

Seriously, this stuff is supported, accepted, and based on ongoing research. We met Advocate De Waal Lubbe at the “1 Point Village Guest House.” He gave us copies of his articles which site numerous scientists. He also told us how to get to the caves. “I get goose bumps when talking about this,” he says.

Photo by Ron Mitchell

Our destination is finally in sight!

We cannot go inside of the caves because of current excavation/research at this archaeological site. Above the caves a world class golf resort was built, but went bankrupt with the economic problems in South Africa.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

St. Blaize Caves with research buckets placed nearby

Well, good thing the resort has re-opened, as Mare and I underestimate this rugged eight-mile hike in the sweltering sun. We are saved, not by the caves, but by the resort, which provides cold brews and a taxi ride back to the guest house.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Finally out of the cave

Scientists agree that super volcanic eruptions are the biggest threat to our existence. Especially the one predicted in Yellowstone, America. Mare and I just may have to stay in South Africa longer. The caves will save us. Luckily for the human race, we won’t be breeding!                by Ron Mitchell

Shark Cage Diving in South Africa

Mare and I love adrenaline adventures. South Africa’s coastal town of Gansbaii is the place for shark-cage diving. We book it, along with a room at Backpacker’s Hostel in nearby Hermanus, where drunken youths revel in obscenities and keep us awake for two nights.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Hermanus, South Africa on a rainy day

We decide to cancel the dive, but not because of the party. A rainy day gives Mare time to do research on cage diving. She felt uneasy about it from the beginning. According to Marine biologists, (not George Castanza):

  1. Sharks will normally disappear at the sight of humans, unless attracted.
  2. Chumming (throwing fish and blood into the water) changes predator behavior…an unnatural situation for sharks. (It happens 250,000 times a year in South Africa)
  3. Great Whites may be associating humans with food, near beaches.
  4. Shark cage diving has been banned in Australia since 2012.
  5. This adrenaline adventure gives a false sense of bravery. I mean, the cage is attached to the boat and simply dropped under water level. It’s too safe!
  6. Taunting sharks is not sustainable tourism.
  7. It’s akin to feeding bears. “A fed bear is a dead bear.”
Photo by Marilynn Windust

On display at the hostel…

Let’s drive to the continent’s most southern point, Cape Agulhas, where warm waters of the Indian Ocean collide with the frigid Atlantic. Wind howls over flat terrain. Waters churn and spray over rocky shores.

Photo by Ron Mitchell

Where the Indian meets the Atlantic

Watch the sun rise over the Indian Ocean, and set over the Atlantic. Nah. That would take all day. Despite the surprising number of beach homes here, there’s not much to do. After munching on fish cakes and squid at a café on a gorgeous beach, we head inland.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The beach in Cape Agulhas

The road twists around massive wheat farms, hills, mountains, and scrubby terrain. Temperatures soar at 104 degrees Fahrenheit. We’re exhausted after eight hours of driving, when “Ronnie’s Sex Shop” appears roadside in the middle of nowhere.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Ronnie at Ronnie’s

Bras and underwear hang from the pub’s ceiling, where we have a well deserved cold one. Ice cream and T-shirts are for sale next door. Is this a mirage? Actually, the place has nothing to do with sex. Ronnie is a mellow, friendly fellow whose creative gimmick will refresh any long journey.

Photo by Ron Mitchell

With only two bras and three pair of underwear I have none to spare

Finally we relax in the comfort of the Bisibee, an immaculate Guest House in the town of Oudtshoorn. Here, we toast the Great White Sharks.  There are plenty of other adrenaline activities available for our indulgence.

 

South Africa: Changes in Perception

Driving a rental car on the left side of the road, behind a steering wheel on the right makes me feel like a dyslexic postal carrier. “Left! Left!” Mare continually reminds. South Africa continues to stretch our brains.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Keep Doors Locked!

Outside of Cape Town, narrow roads twist around mountains where baboon warning signs replace city mileage posts. Reports of baboons opening unlocked car doors, while the owner is off taking photos of scruffy foliage and turquoise bays, are on the rise.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The Penguins at Boulders Beach

Stop at Boulders Beach and stroll the boardwalk down to a Penguin Colony, one of only two on the mainland. Groups of penguins nest in the sand, while others gather on the shore and contemplate joining their comrades hunting in the frigid water…all of this under the brutal hot African sun.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Protecting their eggs in the hot African sun

Drive onward to the Old Lighthouse in the Cape of Good Hope section of Table Mountain National Park. Look down at the treacherous rocks and waters around the Cape, once believed to be Africa’s most southern point.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Looking down from the base of the Old Lighthouse on the Cape of Good Hope

We take a photo at the marker of the Cape of Good Hope before moving on, with future plans to visit the actual southernmost point on this continent, Cape Agulhas.

Photo by nice stranger

Had to do it!

On the road again, still processing the depth perception of driving on the left and steering from the right, we twist around Chapman’s Peak. Considered one of the world’s best ocean drives, this 6 miles of this road contains 114 sharp curves, leaving little time for the driver to sneak views of blue bays and bizarre rock formations below. Arriving in Hout Bay, we look for lodging.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Scenic drive around Chapman’s Peak

Backpackers Hostel has no vacancy. Neither do two other places. Time for a beer. Over some raw oysters and grilled tubes of squid, our kind waitress telephones the few remaining lodges in town. She finds us a room. Luckily it had a private bathroom…one of those oysters was bad (hey, it happens sometimes).

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Hout Bay

Just like back in Cape Town, our actual experience with the people has been friendly and hospitable. We have not felt threatened in any way. Every country has dangerous areas and desperate people. While we continue to be diligent, South Africa continues to stretch our brains.

 

 

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA: First Impressions

From much of the literature, and conversations with Cape Town locals on our 22-hour flight, we deplane expecting to get robbed and stabbed. Arriving at the hostel too early to check-in, a young man with an “I Dream of Jeannie” hairstyle and a nose ring looks up from smoking a joint. “Leave those backpacks here or they’ll rip them from your back.” We relax with a brew and dine on ostrich burgers tonight. Our travel plan for the next three months includes renting a car to explore South Africa and neighboring countries. (And move to a different hostel)

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Capetown, South Africa

Let’s walk Cape Town for a week…

Shops, restaurants, and yachts larger than our house line the Waterfront. Fresh seafood is plentiful, from delectable sushi to Mozambique shrimp. We get lost near Sea Point along the Atlantic shore. White folks with pepper spray strapped around their wrists are walking their Jack Russell Terriers, and we ask a man for directions. “Stay away from the blacks,” he advises. “They will knife you even after you’re robbed.” Hmm…it’s time for a beer! Mitchell’s Scottish Ale House seems appropriate.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The Waterfront

Televised NFL is out of the question, so we hop a train to what many call the world’s most spectacular Cricket venue. Not understanding the game, $2.00 beers and hot dogs win us over. The athleticism of Cricket players surprises me.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Newlands Cricket Stadium with the Castle Brewery conveniently located nearby

The proprietor at hostel “Atlantic Point” cooks-up a traditional Braai, a South African “meat grill” of beef, lamb, chicken, boerewors (farmer’s sausage), with beers.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Braii, African Bar-B-Q

We meet Shannon at the Braai, a thirty-one year old geophysicist from Houston who works on a gas/oil exploration ship. The next day we hike with her up the steep, high-stepping Platteklip Gorge Trail.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Platteklip Gorge Trail

This trail gains 2300 feet in elevation up Table Mountain in under two miles. At the top, views of Cape Town and numerous bays blow us away. We are happy to take the cable car back down.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Looking down on Lion’s Head from the top of Table Mountain

In the morning, barricaded streets give us the impression that a “fun run” is getting started. Turns out to be a massive march of black people celebrating the 103rd anniversary of the ANC (African National Congress).

Photo by Marilynn Windust

ANC supporters marching to the Cape Town Stadium

The ANC is a social democratic party founded in 1912 to unite Africans against white majority rule. Supported by the communist party, it has been in power since the establishment of multi-racial democracy in 1994. Ironically, we pick this day to visit the District Six Museum, which powerfully displays how apartheid affected the daily lives of regular folks being forcefully removed from their homes and segregated. I’ll bet that the Sea Point folks are nervous today. We’re starting to question our travel plans as well.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Just one of the disturbing displays at the District 6 Museum

The proprietor at our hostel relaxes us. “Don’t worry, the Sea Point and Cape Town locals are neurotic paranoid about danger,” he says. “The best way to see South Africa is to drive, and the only way to do Kruger National Park is to camp.”

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Table Mountain

Feeling a range of emotions from paranoid to safe (alcohol helps) the amazing beauty and fresh air of South Africa wins out over our fears. We purchase a tent and sleeping bags and rent a car. After all, we’re here to explore South Africa and neighboring countries.