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Africa / Victoria Falls

Including: South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland

Adventures Abroad Tour SA2
1-800-665-3998
www.adventures-abroad.com

Click here for pictures of this trip


Table of Contents

Tips for this trip. 1

Other notes: 2

AIDS Information. 3

Day 0 Travel 4

Day 1 Arrival and Orientation. 5

Day 2 Johannesburg to Soweto to Pretoria and back to Johannesburg, South Africa. 5

Day 3 Johannesburg, South Africa to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. 9

Day 4 Victoria Falls to Zambia and back to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. 11

Day 5 Victoria Falls to Botswana and back to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. 15

Day 6 Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe to Johannesburg, South Africa. 19

Day 7 Johannesburg to Hazyview, South Africa. 20

Day 8 Hazyview to Kruger and back to Hazyview, South Africa. 21

Day 9 Hazyview, South Africa to Mbabane, Swaziland. 25

Day 10 Mbabane, Swaziland to Hluhluwe, South Africa. 27

Day 11 Hlehluwe to Durban to Port Elizabeth, South Africa. 28

Day 12 Port Elizabeth to Knysna to Oudtshoorn, South Africa. 31

Day 13 Outshoorn to Cape Town, South Africa. 32

Day 14 Cape Town: Robbins Island to Winelands (7 bottles)  to Table Mountain. 34

Day 15 Cape Town: Cape Peninsula. 35

Day 16 Travel Home (30 hours) 37

Adventures Abroad Itinerary for Tour Code: SA2 South Africa. 37

About MARTIN CHARLTON   Adventure Abroad Tour leader 42

Email from World Relief president Dr. Clive Calver about Zimbabwe. 42


Tips for this trip

·         If you go with Adventures Abroad, make sure you pack pants with an elastic waistband.

·         If you have any water crossings with your luggage – put everything in a huge plastic garbage bag before you put it in the suitcase. Just in case your suitcase gets dropped into the water!

·         If you have laundry done, make sure every piece has a tag where they can staple the item identifier.  One of my T-shirts did not have a tag and they can’t/won’t/don’t staple the color-coded paper the garment so my shirt almost got lost.

·         If you are a runner or like to go for walks for exercise, forget about doing that on this continent.  It’s too dangerous; you may get robbed (or eaten).

·         Irvin’s travel tip - If you don’t feel well, skip the day and stay in if possible. Your health is more important than sight seeing.

·         Bring ear plugs – animals are noisy at night!!

·         Make sure you try Rooibos Tea –“Red Bush” tea.  Also try the Appletiser and Grapetiser drinks.  Very tasty.

·         About the airplane seat - I flew on South African air on 747 economy class. I was very comfortable in my window seat UPSTAIRS on the airplane. There’s a big storage bin between your seat and the window to you have lots of room.  Also VOD (video on demand) to watch any movie you want any time you want. South African Air  phone is 1-800-722-9675

·         Arrive a day before the tour starts.  I slept 12 hours straight so I was rested and ready to start non-stop travel for 16 days on the tour.

·         On soap stone carvings look for black shoe polish.

·         If you’re going to Robbens Island in Cape Town on a very hot day, prepare to be very uncomfortable in the bus part of the tour.  They pack 60 people on a bus!

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Other notes:

·         I highly recommend this tour! Adventures Abroad has tours that go to over 100 countries. Over 5,000 people travel with them.  15 years in business.  Jeannie Deagle (x 6242) was my booking agent.

I had absolutely no criticism about this trip.  At one point we were eating such good food, I kinda wished that we had more opportunities for exercise.  We saw so many things and we were on such a tight time schedule to see everything.  I wish that we could have had more time to enjoy, learn and absorb the things we were seeing. Like I would have liked to see the museum in Pretoria and in Durban, but I understand that had to say on schedule to other things later.  That’s the advantage of going on a tour vs. traveling on your own – Martin knew there are more beautiful and wonderful things to see, so we didn’t doddle at the sights.

·         I was on 6 flights on this trip. International Flights:

Atlanta, Georgia USA to Cape Town South Africa to Johannesburg (18 hours total)
Johannesburg to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe to Johannesburg, South Africa
Johannesburg to Cape Verde (Isle de Sol) to Atlanta, Georgia (19 hours total)

Domestic Flights

Durban to Port Elizabeth South Africa
Cape Town to Johannesburg, South Africa

Bus rides

Johannesburg to Kruger (2 nights) to Swaziland (1 night) to Zululand (1 night) to Durban

Port Elizabeth (1 night) to Oudtshoorn (1 night) to Cape Town (2 nights)

·         If you ask for a cup of tea, and the waiter asks you if you want a “cloudy day”, it means tea with milk. A  “moonlit night” is no milk.

·         There are special rules for the golf courses on this continent. What to do if there is a hippo on the course, if a crocodile is sleeping near the water, if a monkey or baboon picks up your ball and runs away with it.

·         Hippo is responsible for the most people deaths in Africa than any other animal. Cape buffalo is second.

·         I got Adventures Abroad RBC Travel Insurance Company for Voyageur Travel Insurance. 19 days Unlimited coverage. $229.  It included “Terrorism coverage”!  (While I was on this trip a bomb went off in Bali)

·         Web sites:

Winery that we visited in Stellenbosch www.delheim.com

Apricot, peach & almond Nibbles.  They are made by Bellair Natural Products PO Box 206 Montagu 6720, Klein Karoo. Web site is www.lando.co.za/bellair.

www.sandtoncity.com International Shopping center across from our hotel in Johannesburg

TIME MAGAZINE Article “Death Stalks A Continent”   article at http://www.time.com/time/2001/aidsinafrica/cover.html

TIME MAGAZINE Statistics  from http://www.time.com/time/2001/aidsinafrica/map_flash.html

World Relief  www.worldrelief.org

 

·         ART FROM ZIMBABWE in the Atlanta Airport!

There is a permanent exhibition of the sculptures of Zimbabwe in the transportation tunnel between the "A" and "T" concourses underneath the airport.  They are made from locally quarried springstone with mallets, hammers, and chisels. Some sculptures are over 10 feet tall. They show the sad, even tragic recent history of the nation through tenderness and deep concern that only this style of art can convey.  "Traveling Family", by Amos Supuni and and "Protected Family" by Joe Mutasa.  For more see

http://www.atlanta-airport.com/sublevels/airport_info/kids/club_exhibits_01.html

 


AIDS Information

This is what I wrote down when Martin was reading off Time magazine and the United Nations statistics:

18 million Africans have already died.  4 million were children. 

There are over 12 million orphans. There is huge economic crisis to take care of the sick and dying and orphans.

Of those that have it in N. America 80% are male (44,000 new cases).

In Africa 35% male (4 million new cases are expected a year)

Since 1990 life expectancy in Botswana dropped 15%.

A story came out that if you sleep with a virgin you will be cured of AIDS. Rape increased significantly. People need more education.

TIME MAGAZINE Statistics  from http://www.time.com/time/2001/aidsinafrica/map_flash.html

South Africa

20% of adult pop have aids (up from 13% on 1997)

42,000 orphans

250,000 die each year

Namibia

20% have it

57% are women

67,000 orphans

18,000 die each year

Botswana - highest per capita GDP

36% have it

66,000 orphans

24,000 die each year

Swaziland

25% have it

12,000 orphans

7,100 die each year

Zimbabwe

25% have it

160,000 died in 1999

900,000 orphans

life expectancy dropped to 43 instead of 65 years old.

Zambia

20% have it

650,000 orphans

99,000 died in 1999

24,000 die each year

 

The Zulu village promotes abstinence from sex as a defense again aids infection.  Women must take a virginity test.  In Bulwer they get a sticker on their forehead if they pass the test.

Also see TIME MAGAZINE Article “Death Stalks A Continent”   article at http://www.time.com/time/2001/aidsinafrica/cover.html

1992 February 13 Atlanta Journal Newspaper article "Viruses point to Gabon as AIDS birthplace."

In 1992 the World Health Organization estimated that there were 10 million AIDS infections around the entire world.  The Sub-Saharan Africa infections numbered 6.5 million.

Only 1.8 % in Gabon have AIDS. Only 3% infection rate in Guinea and Cameroon.

30% infection rate in Uganda, Zaire, Kenya, and the Ivory Coast.

2003 March 15 Atlanta Journal Newspaper article: http://www.accessatlanta.com/ajc/epaper/editions/saturday/news_e3271da47411e10200a1.html

Life expectancy climbs to record high in America
M.A.J. McKenna - Staff
Saturday, March 15, 2003
Life expectancy for Americans has edged up to an all-time high, while the death rates from several major killers have sunk to new lows, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. Based on data from 2001, Americans can expect to live 77.2 years on average, the Atlanta-based federal agency said. That's a slight increase --- about 10 weeks --- over the rate for 2000, when life expectancy reached 77 years.

Life expectancy has risen for men and women and for white and black Americans, the report said. On average, men can expect to live 74.4 years on average, women 79.8 years, whites 77.7 years and blacks 72.2 years. Meanwhile, the chances of dying from heart disease, cancer and stroke, the three most common causes of death, decreased in 2001.

"A lot . . . has to do with changes in behavior," said Elizabeth Arias, a statistician and lead author of the study released Friday. "For instance, the decline in smoking --- from 50 percent of the population in the 1950s to about 25 percent now --- has a lot to do with decreases in heart disease and cancer." Deaths from heart disease decreased by 4 percent from 2000 to 2001, continuing a trend that began in the 1950s. Cancer deaths, which have inched downward since 1990, declined by 2 percent. Stroke deaths decreased by 5 percent and deaths from accidents by 2 percent.

The number of deaths from HIV/AIDS declined by almost 4 percent, continuing a downward trend that began in 1995. And in the biggest single improvement, deaths from influenza and pneumonia decreased by 7 percent.

But the report contains negative news as well. The rates of death due to high blood pressure and kidney disease increased, by 3 percent and 4 percent, respectively --- particularly noteworthy since both diseases disproportionately affect African-Americans. And the rate of death due to Alzheimer's disease rose by 5 percent.  In a one-year jump that officials hope will not be repeated, the rate of deaths from homicide rose by 17 percent from 2000 to 2001. That resulted from the 2,953 deaths in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks being classified as homicides. If the attacks had not happened, Arias said, the homicide rate would have decreased by 1.7 percent. The numbers of deaths analyzed throughout the study are compiled from state death certificates issued in 2001.


Day 0 Travel

Getting settled for my long ordeal of a flight.  I had a comfortable window seat upstairs on the 747. 6 seats abreast. Storage compartment by my seat and the window give me room to spread out my stuff.  Lots of leg room.  Even with my back pack under seat in front.  No one in the middle seat. Girl in the aisle was obviously best friends with the girl behind me so I asked the girl behind me if she wanted to switch seats.  She was so excited that now she could sit next to her friend.  A couple hours into the flights they made a point to thanks me and express their gratitude saying that it was definitely a “God thing” that I offered to switch.  They were on a mission trip to Mozambique.  I had an empty seat next to me, then a pastor is sitting in the aisle seat near me. Lots of people on mission trips on this plane.

The plane trip was not that bad.  Said goodbye to Jim at 9 am at the airport in Atlanta.  Fly  to Cape Town. On the ground for an hour to refuel, then fly to Johannesburg.  18 hours total.  We had dinner (beef or chicken), snack, lights out for 8 hours, then breakfast. I watched 4 movies with video on demand. (VOD). Ya Ya Sisterhood, The Importance of Being Earnest, Something About a Boy, and Windtalkers.

When we were on the ground in Cape Town I walked around the airplane and saw a couple of people that I knew.  There is a group of 40 people on this plane on the Adventures for Singles trip to South Africa.  Met a lot of people in the group. Talked with Joan (went to Russia years ago).   They are only going to  Johannesburg, Kruger, and Cape Town.  My adventure is a lot more extensive since it’s 10 days longer and it’s just a little more expensive. They see one country and my trip will take me to seven countries including Victoria Falls .

The flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg was 1:45. The airport was a non-issue. I saw the Atlanta Singles group meeting near the baggage claim. I didn’t check any luggage (had everything for 3 weeks in my carry-on). I did not stop to talk to anyone.  That “get-on-my-own” feelin’ kicked in. 

I breezed through customs. Got information on the “Magic Bus”. It was R80 (US$8) with door-to-door service instead of R250 (US$25) for a taxi. I change some money, then caught the bus across from Terminal 4. That’s a good feeling to walk quickly and know exactly what you’re doing. Kindly saying “no” to all the taxi driver that want your business. I’d rather take an airport bus any day. I checked into the hotel. It’s located inside the circle road around Johannesburg on the North side. Nice room. Slept 4 hours. Now I’m sitting in McGiney’s pub waiting on my dinner. Chicken Pie with vegetables. It is about US$3. I think I’ve figured out this easy exchange rate US$1=R10.

It was a very good idea to arrive a day early to orient yourself and relax. I remember Hanoi – I should have gone to the Perfume Pagoda the day that I arrived early. I’m not pushing it on this trip. No one else to bother with or worry about . Just myself to take care of and that’s perfectly fine with me.

Day 1 Arrival and Orientation

Friday.  First day of the official tour. Orientation meeting was at 5:30. I could tell at this meeting that this was going to be fabulous trip. 20 people in the group. Good trip leader. His name is “Martin”. He seems to really know what he’s doing. No surprises in the orientation . Oh yes. One surprise. He said the water was OK to drink in all the hotels where we are staying, except for one because the water is too salty. We can also eat all the salad and fruit that we want. I think I’ll still try to be careful.  Breakfast and dinner are included in the tour. Every tip to whoever should get a tip is also included.

We met till 6:45, then Martin arranged taxi’s for us to dine at Brown’s. Very nice restaurant and an excellent meal. At least 6 choices for appetizers. They call it a “starter”, main dish and dessert. “Line Fish” is the fresh fish of the day. I had the “Game Plate” which was ostrich.  Creme Brule for dessert. I’m definitely going to gain weight on this trip.

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Day 2 Johannesburg to Soweto to Pretoria and back to Johannesburg, South Africa

7:30 am wake up call.  Buffet breakfast in the hotel. Departure at 9 am.  It is 33C, Sunshine, clear sky.  Louis is our bus driver. This bus is big enough for 40 people.  There’s only 20 of us so we can each get a  row of our own.  Sightseeing in Johannesburg. There’s not much history here so really not much to see. Soweto is a must. 

Population in  South Africa 41-45 million.  There is a “Brain Drain” here.  About 13,000 South Africans left the country last year.  They emigrate to Britain, Australia, New Zealand and US For the higher salaries. Doctors and nurses are leaving. To UK to make more money.

About Johannesburg

Per Martin – Johannesburg is almost as dangerous as Columbia. One of the most dangerous places in the world. Everything you’ve read about what happens is true.

It is located in the Gauteng (pronounced “Ho-ting”) province.  It means “place of gold”

This is third world county with a first world infrastructure.

Pop of Johannesburg is about  1 million.  It is 6 million if you include Sandton and suburbs.

It is a new city. Not much history.

35%unemployment rate. However, in Soweto, it's a 80% unemployment rate..

Many offices relocate from Johannesburg to Sandton.

Very high price for real estate here.  Small yards.

It never snows here.

There are 9 provinces (states) in South Africa.

Gauteng (Johannesburg) is in the smallest province but it yields greatest percent (36%) of the GDP for South Africa and 28% of the GDP of sub-Saharan Africa.  It has 43% of S. Africa’s urban population, accounts for 60% of the fiscal revenue, contains 30% of the world’s gold reserves.  Working mines have yellow mounds that are clearly visible from the air.

There is 40% unemployment rate here. It is more tolerable here (compared to other countries ) because everyone looks after each other.  That is definitely not the case in the Western world.

The real business activity is Johannesburg occurs all along the pavement. Street hawkers selling their wares. Other businesses have moved out. Banks stayed though.

Police and security cameras now help keep the city going and business is starting to come back.

Martin said that crime is so bad cause it’s easier to kill and rob, than to just rob.

Stock exchange founded in 1887 moved from downtown Johannesburg to Sandton in 2001.

This is  a very new town, new sky line. If a building is more than 50 years old, it is town down and a new one is built in it’s place.

Gold mine dumps are being reworked to reclaim the land.  There is 1.5 grams of gold dust per ton of dirt.  There were over 400 mine dumps in Johannesburg. Now there are about 100.  If gold price drops below 287, the gold mines close.  Now it’s about 312 so the gold mine dumps throughout the area are open.

The last published statistics on crime were from 1999. The president stopped publishing the statistics so people are skeptical about any number they hear.

A 3000 square foot house may cost 1 million Rand.  (US$100,000) In Pretoria, a 3 bedroom is R580,000 (US$58,000). 1 bedroom R28,000 (US$2,800)

There are armed response unit signs on every house.  Murder rape, home burglary is very common. If the alarm goes off, there is no phone call to verify. They just show up with guns ready to shoot. Many many people are armed.  You must have a permit to carry a gun. It is OK  to run a red light if you feel threatened.

A LoJack type of system that demobilizes the car via GPS system. There is a very high success rate to get the car back.

South Africa covers less than 4% area of the continent.  It has less than  6% of the people on the continent, but it provides more than 50% of the electricity output, more than 50% of the cars, homes, banks and ATM machines.

S. Africa is entirely self-sufficient for all agricultural products, but farming conditions are substandard.

The world’s largest man-made forests are here. Pine and eucalyptus.

19,000 of the 23,000 varieties of plants are endemic to S. Africa.

6,000 of the 8,500 plants in the Cape Floral region are endemic.

US$10,000 is a very very high salary.   A very good teachers may get about US$4000.  Average per capita income US$3,500 per person per year.

 

SOWETO

Abe is our guide through Soweto.

It  was a half hour drive from Sandton to Soweto. They took to the places where it looks like a very nice community now. I’m sure there are areas where there are thousands of shacks that we didn’t see.  Tour lasted a couple hours.

Soweto means “Southwestern Township”.  It is an “Informal settlement,” a squatter camp.

There are 3.5 million people in Soweto.  Many are illegal immigrants.

51% are women. 45% of the people are less than 25 years old.

In 1904 bubonic plague so they relocated people to Soweto area in 1905.

There are four entrances to Soweto. You must have a permit to reside here. All traffic is regulated.

Cost of homes R200,000 to 1 million (US20,000 to 100,000).  There are 23 houses are registered to millionaires.

The walls aren’t very high here  because high walls imply snobby people and they don’t want that in Soweto.

There are public phone booths available on the street.  Most people don’t have phone in their house.

I saw an electric lawn mower!

People position thorny bushes (acacia branches) or huge rocks along road in their yard so no one drives on the grass.

People and children are waving at our huge bus as we drive by.

Before 1990, owners rented from the government. Now they only pay water and electricity and secure deeds and pay a mortgage.

2 years ago there were 1,200 shacks with a population of 6000 in the squatter camps. They are how relocated.

Some neighborhoods have a drug problem. Mostly marijuana, not much worse. Alcoholism is also a problem too.

On the street corner there is a ‘Toilet for hire”

A preschool is a “creche”.  We visited one.  There are 46 kids 4-8 years old, 35 kids 2 months to 4 years old. 8 am to 5 pm. Cost is R60 (US$6) a month includes food. There are seven orphans living here now.

A average family here has from five to 10 kids here.  An upwardly mobile family has one child.  Middle class may have 3.

There are four types of traditional healers:

Witch doctor – dead animals, sea shells

Sangoma – a spiritualist

Herbalist – herbs heal. These healer have put pressure on the existence of plant life here so they are careful to only harvest in a responsible manner.

Faith Healer – prayer

40 percent of the people who go to the hospital have gone to a traditional healer first.  The government is using these traditional healers to educate the AIDS awareness campaign.

Martin said that three months ago the government said that 50% of the people in South Africa have aids.

There are over 200 funerals in Soweto on a typical weekend.  A funeral may cost up to R5000 (US$500). It costs R1500 (US$150) to buy an ox to kill as part of the ceremony.   Cremation is not usually done here, but they are running out of burial space. They are encouraged to bury in the upright position.

There are 9 hospital in Soweto. We drove to the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.

It is 173 acres. It had 3,200 bed hospital. 11,000 on staff. 570 doctors.  Cost is R13 (US$1.30) to enter the hospital grounds. Workers are charged in proportion to what they are paid.  A “Surgery” is a private doctor’s consulting room. The hospital was built in 1942 for the war. After the war it became a public hospital. 

Many people visit relatives in the hospital. There is always a taxi any time of the day or night. Taxi (vans and buses) are the a primary means of transport, Public transportation is not that good.

There are more than 4000 registered mini-bus taxi’s here. But they clone (copy) the registration so there are realistically a lot more. Taxi’s start at 3 am. They load FIFO.  Cram as many people as possible in.  I saw 17 people crammed in a minivan taxi.

Martin told us about a bad accident that killed 20 people.  The taxi driver had removed the steering wheel in an attempt to fit more people in the vehicle. He was using vice grips to steer.

20 oxen day are killed here  to cater to (feed) the taxi drivers.  BBQ, boiled and cooked.

They speak Zulu here and eat lots of meat.

There are unique hand signals to flag down a taxi. The position of the hand and fingers indicates where you want to go.

He showed us a bottle of clear liquid (in a Smirnoff bottle). He called it “Glosseria”. He said they put it on their skin in the winter and it protects you from the bitter cold. I can’t imagine what was in that bottle.  Water maybe?

There is no government assistance for the unemployed. If you are working, a percent of your salary goes to unemployment insurance fund.  You can draw from that fund if you become unemployed. Draw until that money runs out. Sounds like forced savings.

“Informal Settlements” reduced from 12 to 3.

The police make R400 a month. South Africa loses more police officers in the line of duty than any other nation.  In one six-month period, 244 police officers took their own life.

Police have to put criminals in the trunck. They don't have back seat cages.

An AK47 costs R140.

 

Hector Pieterson Memorial Museum in Soweto

We spent about 40 minutes in the museum. Seems like that was enough, but two hours would have been better.  We do have a lot to see and do.

There were uprising from ’76 to ’86.   Hector Zollie Pieterson was the first to die. He was only 13 years old.  There is a monument “to honor the youth who gave their lives in the struggle for freedom and democracy.  This museum only opened 6 month ago on 16 June 2002.

Sign to boycott work:  “Notice: Ladies and Gencleman No work tomorrow. Please people you must not go to work.”

Sign on a business door:  “Closed on account of tear gas”

Bantu education policy - In 1975 for every R644 the government spent on the white students, only R42 was spent on the black student.

Sign:  We are not fighting. Don’t shout. Just release our fellow student”

The poor people in Soweto respect the rich.  The rich are sort-of their role models. The height of the walls is an indication of he crime rate in the area. Not so high walls in Soweto.

We drove by Vilakazi Street.  From ’46 to ’64 Nelson Mandela’s house.  All the Mandela kids were born in that house.

Origin of Afrikaans came from the Dutch. 1925 it was declared the official language. Blacks saw Afrikaans as a symbol of superiority.

There are 300 churches here in Soweto.  40% Christian, <1% Muslim, 12% African independent church (AIC).

We drove by Vista University.

Zulu is the most common language in Soweto, but 70% know English.

Informal settlements have communal water taps.  No gas – they cook with paraffin.  It’s a haven to illegal immigrants.  There is no good way to tell how many people live there.

Instead of begging, small businesses are starting to emerge . A car wash, barber. Under tents on the side of the road.

On the way to Pretoria we stopped at the Voortrekker Monument. There are not that many monuments in Africa. I’m glad we got to see this one.  

I got a picture of me by the  “The women till the field and defend the Laagers while the men are out on commando.”  It’s a marble relief frieze of Voortrekker history.  We spent about 30 minutes there. I wish that we could have spent more time in the museum, but we had to get to Pretoria.

Pretoria

Pretoria was beautiful. Hundreds of Jacaranda trees full bloom with fragrant purple flowers. 66,000 Jacaranda trees here.  They only bloom in October so are all purple this week.

Pop of Pretoria – 2 million.  Founded in 1860 .

UNISA University is here.  135,000 foreign correspondence students. The largest in the world.

We had lunch in the Venning Park Rose Garden.  I had “pancakes” which were crepes with spinich and feta cheese.  Drank Rooibos Tea –“Red Bush” tea. Everyone has discovered the Appletiser and Grapetiser sodas here. Yum.  What a beautiful place for lunch.  Two brides were being photographed while we were there.

The US Embassy looks like a big cement bunker. Other embassies are in old  Dutch homes. We saw the Union Building.  Sign on the statue in Church Square: Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger 1825-1904.

Pretoria Railway Station – 1912

The cost to ride the Blue Train from Pretoria to Cape Town was US$1000 per person.  Now with the competition, price is lower.  A 2002 rate sheet has a price of US$665 for the Luxury Suite.

City Hall statues on each side are “Andrea Pretorias” on a horse. The town was names after him. The other statue is “Martinea Pretorias”  We saw the Transvaal Museum – there is a huge dinosaur in front.

Melrose House

This house is named after Melrose Abbey in Scotland. It has beautiful 1868 late Victorian architecture. It was the British headquarters in the war. Everything in this house came from Britain (UK).

We got here at 4:20 pm and it closes at 5. I guess that’s why we spent such a short time at the other monuments, so we could see as many things as possible in a short time.  Martin is a good guide. Definitely knows what he’s doing.

What a beautiful day for touring. Feels like 78F.   It’s about an hour ride back to Sandton.  A lot of people commute this distance . It’s cheaper and nicer to live in Pretoria.

We got to the hotel at 6. Dinner was at 7.15.  We walked across the street to Sandton City to Montego Bay restaurant.  I had an appetizer of shrimp with avocado and a nice sauce. A (very big) roast lamb shank with mashed potatoes and vegetables. It was a lot of food. The price on the menu was R65 (US$6.50). Unbelievable.

T Bone steak 500 grams (cow) was R65 (US$6.50) and fish of the day (Line Fish) is R66.50 (US$6.65). These are very high prices for locals. Considering that US$10,000 is a very very high salary.   A very good teacher may get about US$4000.

I did not get dessert. It was hard to resist. Mary got the death by chocolate and she wasn’t kidding that she wouldn’t share.  She actually ate the whole thing.  Now that is my role model! I hope they have something very chocolate tomorrow.  I’ll try to do dessert every other night.

It was a long dinner. A couple hours. It was nice to start to get to know the people on this trip. True travelers. Lots of good stories and experiences to share.  Got back to the hotel at 11 pm.

Our room was on the seventh floor and I did the steps up and down at least three times. That should justify a big dessert tomorrow.  Martin said that too much good food and not enough opportunities foe exercise would be a problem on this trip.  Such a problem!

What a great day.

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Day 3 Johannesburg, South Africa to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

We got our 7 am wake at 7.20. I was up at 6.30. Go figure. I didn’t think that I was morning person. Vacation is different. I also figured that I’m on the other side of the equator so everything is backwards here. Nice breakfast buffet again. I’ve gotten my glass of milk every day so far. Yogurt and fruit. They kept trying to take my plate away before I was done eating.

Bags in the hallway outside our room at 8 am.  8.30 bus leaves the hotel.  We had to make sure we saw our suitcase so it got the airport. 30 minute bus ride to the airport.  Group check in. We only had to take care of our carry-on bag. Martin gave us our boarding pass and we had on hour to kill in the Johannesburg airport. I have not bought any postcards yet.

The flight to Victoria Falls was one of the roughest flights that I have ever been on.  Per Irwin “We Rock ‘n’ Rolled our way to Zimbabwe. We “wiggled and waggled our way to Zimbabwe”. 

Suzanna’s note: Irwin supplied numerous adjectives for this journal.  I was so in awe of most situations and encounters that I was at a loss for words. I would solicit Irwin’s verbose vocabulary to try to encapsulate the moment in a sentence. Easier said than done. I hope that when I read this, I can re-create the moment in my mind… I digress.

It was a 20-minute ride to the A’ Zambezi Hotel 2 km outside of the city.  Martin said that the (unfortunate)  situation is Zimbabwe enabled us to move up to a nicer hotel (four star).  They are really starving and destitute in this country. Tourism money brings in enough for sustenance living, but not as many people are traveling there so hotels are not full.  Sad situation.

Beautiful 30C.

Zimbabwe 

Pop 15 million (<1% are white 80,000)

1,503 whites are being deported and their land is being distributed between 160,000 black families.

Whites owned 75% of the best farms in the country.

Most of it is going fallow because most of these people have never farmed in their life.

In 2000 Mubabwe (leader) expelled all foreign correspondents.  He is quite a Marxist thinker.

In 1980 there were 300,000 whites. They switch to black rule here and all the whites are all leaving (or being forced to leave).  Before 1980 it was Southern Rhodesia, but now “Zimbabwe”.  Subsistence villages scattered all over the country.  I noticed them from the airplane window.  They live in what looks  like mushroom huts.  Round thatch abodes.   75% are Shona tribe (they make the stone sculptures), 20% Ndebelly tribe.

Zimbabwe government plans to buy 4.4 million acres from white owners for redistribution to blacks. Prime Minister Robert Mugabe Nov. 1981 .  Marxist now. “You cannot overhaul capitalism over night”

In 1965 development started here in Victoria Falls. Population is 20,000. They are ALL employed in tourism sector. There is no other industry here.  There is ZERO crime rate.  VERY VERY safe city.  That’s a first for all the places that I’ve traveled.  I remember getting off the bus by myself in Siam Reap, Cambodia and trusting that I would get back to the hotel safely.  Zero crime here. They know that if something, however so small happens to one tourist, that it would get out to every tourist.  So few tourist are here that they can’t afford any bad press. Thus, no crime. Nice.

Suzanna’s note: Statistics come spewing from Martin mouth – he’s so full of so much information.  My writing obsession causes  me to try to write the numbers down.  I know these are numbers that you can’t obtain from tourist books.  So this is my disclaimer – I’m not positively sure that I have gotten all these number down correctly.  I tried to record everything that Martin narrated correctly, but I was on vacation, and this is only my hobby. OK , that’s my disclaimer.

Statistics for Zimbabwe - 65% unemployment.  80% are involved in farm life. They grow maize, coffee, tobacco, fruit and vegetables.  There is a 65% inflation rate now.

50% of people are less than 18 years old. The life expectancy is 43 year. In 1980 it was 60 years.  (WHAT A DIFFERENCE AIDS MAKES!)

Zimbabwe makes more money on people who hunt animals than the money they make on Victoria Fall’s tourists. The country produces a lot of arms (weapons). No oil and no sea ports (land-locked).  Casinos bring in some money. 

There are 11 languages spoken here. English is the official language.

There are no fences around national parks.  Animals have a sense that they are safe in the park area so they migrate to the (unfenced) parks. Go figure.  They have smart animals here.

The length of the Zambezi River is 2,700 km (1600 miles). It is the 4th longest behind Nile, Migel, Congo.  It flows to the Indian Ocean.  We are 1000 km from the source here.

The exchange rate is US$55=1 Zimbabwe$, or US$1=Zim$500.  You can change your money at the bank, or on the black market.  Each of us gave Martin $20 and the bus driver changed it somewhere.

Zimbabwe money is very volatile. We each gave Martin US$20 and the bus driver exchanged it. The rate is very different at the back vs. on the black market.  Bank is ~ 55. We got 10,000 back so it looks like our rate was 500.

The price for something depends on where you exchanged your money. Martin said someone just signed for bottle of wine to go on the room bill.  When they tried to check out, they were asked to pay US$100 for the wine unless they could absolutely prove that they exchanged at the bank. 

In 1996 this place was packed with tourists.  Not many people now.  There are only 3 tents in the camp ground. Martin said it should be packed full this time of the year.

We checked into the A’Zambezi River Lodge at 2:30 pm.  Phone 263-013-4561/4. What a nice place to spend 3 nights.

At 4 pm we have a boat ride on the river. This is a extra perq from Martin.  Wow, he upgrades our hotel, and now a boat trip too.  I didn’t put on any mosquito stuff and I didn’t need it either. Martin challenged us to try to get a mosquito bite.    All drinks were included on this boat trip, thus the name “booze cruise”.  What a vacation this is.  The falls are 4 km down the river so we are going 6 km up the river.

We stopped the boat to gawk at MANY MANY hippo’s.  It reminded me of whale watching in Alaska. Hippos stay down 1-2 minutes.  We also saw many birds. Zambezi Stork, , Goliath Herring – tall white bird. Water Buck on the shore.

We stopped at the island where Livingston spent his last night. They took him in dugout canoe to the falls the next day.   This boat doesn’t take people on the island because the monkeys have gotten a little to aggressive and we “don’t want to risk you getting rabies”.  Too many people eating lunches and feeding them.

We saw a beautiful sunset on the Zambezi River.  OK Irwin, I’m at a loss for adjectives again. I just can’t convey the moment appropriately enough for others to understand the mood, the setting, the ambiance, the ere.  You had to be there to see the “African Queen” boat outline against the pink and red setting sun.

Dinner are buffet-style at our A’Zambezie lodge in the Amulonga restaurant.  I ate impala / antelope and wart hog ribs. Very good vegetables too.  I got one glass of red wine and one bottle of “still” water. The waiter asks for “One thousand dollars, please” yeow.  (US$2). 

The entertainment at the A’Zambezie Lodge was very good. Ok. At first I had to admit that the horn and the drums were a little annoying when we were trying to eat. This is their culture. I watched the show and I truly came to appreciate what they were doing when I understood what the dances were all about. Martin said that they sing about things - circumcision ceremony, wedding, the rain, paper. It’s not necessarily religious or singing to a god or gods. By the end of the night a lot of people from our tour were dancing with them. When the show was ending and they danced into the kitchen, Irwin didn’t follow into there.  Nope no washing dishes.

Martin said groups of guys get together and to put on a show. They ask to perform for hotels for free just for the tips. There are a lot of desperate people here. And here we are leaving food on our plate when they take it away....

There are cute Vervet monkeys on the grounds. Also not so cute wart hogs walking around.  I walked back to the room slowly so you don’t bother the hogs.

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Day 4 Victoria Falls to Zambia and back to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

7 am departure. 

A bull elephant did some damage to the hotel grounds last night. The staff was busy cleaning up the mess. A wart hog was wandering around this morning. I ate him last night! He was delicious.

We saw the falls from the Zambia side in the morning and the Zimbabwe side in the afternoon.

The name of our guide to Victoria Falls is “Charity”

Charity Cleve

Utc Zambia

Box 61081

Livingstone, Zambia

Tel: 002603323739 * 324413

Email: Charityutczam@zamnet.zm

The Victoria Falls or Mosi oa Tunya - "the Smoke that Thunders", are truly a magnificent sight. Here the Zambezi pours 545 million litres (120million gallons) of water per minute into a narrow chasm more than 100m (330 ft) deep. The mist and the spray may reach 500m (over 1500ft) into the sky and may be seen up to 30 kms away. David Livingstone is reputably the first European to see the Victoria Falls and in 1855 he wrote "On sights as beautiful as this, Angels in their flight must have gazed " .

ZAMBIA SIDE OF THE FALLS

We drove a short distance to Zimbabwe border station.  Got a passport stamp out of Zimbabwe, and another stamp into Zambia.  We walked over the Victoria Falls bridge that goes between Zimbabwe to Zambia. 

The bridge is 111 meters (350 feet) high. Built in 1903- 1905.  Prefabricated in UK.  Bridge was widened in 1930 and in 1970 for traffic.  This was the highest bungee jump at 90 meters. Cost is US$100 to jump.  Now highest jump is 216 meters.  The level of the now calm pool of water below rises 40 feet where all the water is channeled.

The falls on Zambian side is dryer side now (in October).    We saw Eastern Cateract. A cataract is a water channel. There are nine cataracts now. The basalt rock face surface is exposed.

The rainy season starts in October. Water flow now is 5% of what it’s like in April.   Nov, Dec flow is 20,000 cubic liters per minute.  Peak flow is 550,000 cubic liters/minute. 

At peak flow (March to May), where we are standing you would get totally soaked. Don’t even bother taking your camera near here. It will be ruined.   You only see a spray of water and hear a thunderous roar. You can’t see any of the waterfall, only the mist.  Rain coat or poncho doesn’t work either.  Mist falls down over you and up under the coat or poncho.  You’re guaranteed to be soaked.  Airplanes must fly higher because of the mist.

The falls are low now so at least we’ll be able to see them. October is the best time to see the Falls.  The falls are 1.7 km wide.  The exposed rock is about 1 km wide now.  I took so many pictures.

It’s going to be very very hot there. And dry. 

It’s starting already – the poor people selling things.  Copper bracelets here.  They ask you where you are from then start rattling off the president’s trying to impress you with their knowledge.

There is a nice paved walkway with safety rails.  It’s very close to the edge.  Before this was built it was very dangerous to walk around here.

We walked back to the Zambia border station. Got a passport stamp out of Zambia, and another stamp back into Zimbabwe.  If you spend the night in Zambia, then you must pay another US$30 to get back into Zimbabwe.  A double entry visa is US$45.

Population in  Zambia 11 million.  The growth rate is 2.5%.

Next we’re headed to visit the Muluni Village (about 1.5 hours).  It’s only 9:30 in the morning and about 84F.

Mukuni Village.

Address is PO Box 6133 Livingstone, Zambia

7000-8000 people live here. aybe 20-30 may have a job with an income. Subsistence living.

This village has been here 700 years.

It is the largest village in Livingston.  This is typical of how most people south of the Sahara live .  Some people never leave the village their entire life.  Cattle is the family’s wealth. Women’s job is to fetch water.

In 1964 only 100 university graduates living in Zambia.  Now they have learned how to make money

There is a male chief and a female chief and they are not married. They choose from the royal family.  The female chief had more power. But when the white people came, they recognized the male chief so he came to have more power.

The chief lives in the “palace”. Chief has one wife. He is in power for life.  If you become a bad chief, the female chief gives you poison and you die. Then they choose another chief.

1855 David Livingston came to the village. He was the first white person. He was never allowed inside the palace.

They money that we give to visit the village goes to build more permanent buildings.

More than 50% of the 7000 in this village are less than 18 years old.

There are five water taps in the village.  Before they had to walk 6km to the Zambezi river for water.  Six years ago electricity became available.  They don’t really need it because there are very few things that they use that require electricity.

Soil is granular red.

Chief owns all the land.  The village is about 7 km across and the chief is in the middle.

Main source of fuel is wood.

If you want to build a hut, you ask the chief permission.  Also need permission to expand your enclosure.

Addresses are “near family X”. there are no hut numbers or street names.

There are no toilets in the village. They have to go outside the village .

Women build the huts and maintain the property. Since they don’t have to fetch water they have more time so this is a better maintained village.  A hut roof lasts 7-8 years. Hut walls last 20-25 years.  Either mud between wood posts or on the outside. The termites eventually eat the walls.

We went inside a village home.  The are was enclosed with a reed wall. Washing room in the back.  Also a small chicken coop.  They are building a kitchen.

I saw a  hut with an empty J&B bottle. They (women) brew lots of beer and the men drink it. Small problem with too much drinking. Small “Jail” to hold problems people. 

This village is self-managed legal and judging system.

There are 73 recognized tribes in Zambia.

Usually married around 16 years old. Cost is 11 cows for a bride.

They eat “thick porridge”, corn meat, vegetable.

One cow costs US$100.  1 kg of meat is Z$4000 (about US$1)

Lots of missionaries visit here.  All school and clinics are associated with missionaries.  School is not necessarily free..  Exam fee is US$3. Uniform is US$10. One third of the children do not go to school.

It was very impressive in the village the way everyone helped each other. No way does that happen in America.

10:45 and we are leaving the village in a bumpy dirt road that is grated about 2 times a year.  He said you can spot the drunk drivers here because they are driving straight. They don’t try to weave around the pot holes.

On the drive back to hotel we stopped in town around noon.  Some people got off the bus to shop. I stayed.  I passed on all the shopping. Just don’t want to deal with  it or tolerate it. This trip will be a lot less stressful if I avoid that ordeal.  I know they are poor, starving, need the money but… I really want to enjoy my trip too.  So I relaxed and had lunch back at the hotel.  I passed on the traditional food: Capenta – little dried fishes and Bobo and got a sandwich. 

We met again at 3 pm. We saw “The Big Tree” and Zimbabwe side of the falls.

Bayobab Tree “The Big One”.

This tree is 1400 years old!  These trees are used on maps to mark locations.

45% of the trunk is water.  The elephants can smell the water in the truck.

It is up to 100 feet in diameter.

They only flower for 24 hours some time between Oct and Dec.  Fruit in April.

There is a big ditch dug around this tree and a fence protection. 

It is sometimes called the “Upside-down tree” because it looks like the roots are on top.  It is now a National Monument.

The truck has some carvings “ 1830” and “1855”.

Every single part of the tree can be used for something.

ZIMBABWE SIDE OF THE FALLS.

The US$10 cost to get in was included on our tour.

 Pix of sign:

Devils Cataract is shown first on the left side.

Cataract Island

Main Falls

Livingston Island (then Horseshoe Falls 95m tall)

Rainbow Falls 108M

Eastern Cataract 101M

I went down the steep stairs to Cataract View for views of Devil's Cataract; also saw the statue of David Livingstone.

At the end of the 30 minute hike you can go out to Danger Point.  The final viewpoint is nearest the falls bridge.  You can perch right on the edge of a cliff and peer down into the abyss.    When I was on the Zambia side , I took a pix of a guy who climbed out to the big rock here on the Zimbabwe side – looked like bad idea to me. 

OK. That’s a new one. I finished the walk (hike) on the Zimbabwe side of the falls. There’s only two buses in the empty parking lot. The lot should be full this time of year.  I got accosted by one aggressive guy trying to sell me a wood elephant. “Two for the price of one”. Now he’s standing 5 feet from me watching me write this. Anyway. Before he asked me where I was from.  I told him that I am not interested in buying “I am going over here to pray” and I pointed to the stream.  He gave me a very quizzical look.  “To pray?” he said. “Yes, to pray to my God”  “Your God?”  He was very perplexed.  He’s obviously never heard that one before.  I walked away and left him standing there with his elephants.

 

Geez, they won’t leave you alone.  They keep asking “where do you come from” I really don’t want any guilty feelings here.  I don’t want to converse.

There was a sign in the hotel for Victoria Falls prices for tourists in US dollars

Helicopter 75

Elephant ride 90

Village tour 40

Tour of falls 40

Chobe day trip 120

Bungi 90

Sunset cruise 20

That night we saw traditional dancing show.

Makishi stilt and pole dancing

Hope for good hunting dance.

Good hunting celebration dance.

Fishing nets too close to crocodile dance.

Pick up 88 pound steel with his mouth dance.

Dance by men who think they are worthy and are trying to move up the social ladder in the village.

After the show we had dinner in the Victoria Falls Hotel.  Hotel was founded in 1905. Expensive rooms. Exquisitely maintained.   The cost of the rooms in high season (July to Oct) Single is 360-373. Standard suite is 600. Presidential suite is 800.  Double is 193 per person per night.  Web site is Tufh.zimsun.co.zw

We had an awesome buffet dinner. I had a whole plate full of desserts first:  Very good chocolate mousse, spice cake, lemon cheesecake, creme eclair.  Then dinner, then I had more choc mousse and really good vanilla and strawberry ice cream. The crocodile for dinner was ok. Lots of cartilage, chewy pieces.  That was different. It was not like Aliigator at all.  Alligator is like chicken, and crocodile was more like fish. The piece I got seemed to have something like cartilage – it was a little chewy.

After dinner we walked around the hotel. Wow.

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Day 5 Victoria Falls to Botswana and back to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Wake up call at 6 am. Bus departs at 7:30.  Boat safari and truck safari in Chobe today.

The hotel needs to have more coffee ready at breakfast .  Our group was all there then another group of French people arrived for breakfast.  Their traditional way of greeting is a kiss on each cheek.

I’m really starting to feel the stress of travel today.  Pepto Bismol is good.  We are really on the move constantly.  I’m trying to take the time to relax.  I’m glad I went back to the hotel yesterday instead of dealing with the shopping ordeals in town.

Wow.  There is a noticeable difference when we crossed the border from Zimbabwe to Botswana.  Immediately after you cross the border there are very good paved roads.  Drainage ditches. Big banana and orange plantation. There are more vehicles, and nicer trucks and cars in this country.  Many prosperous cabbage, potato farms.  There is a big tractor tilling the soil.  Looks like fertile dark dirt. Big horned cattle crossing the road.  We saw a man with enough cattle for 2 brides!  That’s a rich man.

The roads are so good here that they have speed bumps to slow you down.  That’s a Speed bumps are “sleeping policemen”.

There are some nice houses in Botswana.  Cement block or better.  Roads are also nice. Lighted roadway.  Power lines along the road so residents have electricity. 

I noticed that there are no bicycles in this country!  If they have any money it goes to food and not a luxury item like a bicycle.  They are just that much poorer here.  Oops. I just saw one bike.

We passed a sign “Zazugula  70 km to the border.”

Lots of Mulberry Grape plants around here.

There is always a little patch of green on the side of the road because of the water run off. Animals come to eat it so you have to watch closely so you don’t hit them.  The grass on each side of the road grows to 7 feet tall so they cut it back to make it safer to drive.  Then the animals don’t come as close to the road.  Baboons and monkeys like to rest on the warm road in the morning.  This is a good time to visit this country because there is not much vegetation yet. You can see a long way. The first rain has come already so there is a little green. All these trees are not dead. They are just waiting for the rain.

I ended up sitting in the back of the bus today. I can barely hear the speaker to I won’t write much today.

BOTSWANA

From ’66 to ’91 the Botswana economy grew 15% a year (faster than any other country) from mineral wealth.  There is a 2% growth rate in this country now.

The government made a conscious decision to make tourism very expensive to preserve the environment.  Hunting safaris are expensive here.  Some people pay US$15,000 to kill an elephant in private reserves.  You can’t pay any amount to kill rhino, leopard, cheetah or lion. All protected.  Cape buffalo, hippo OK.  You only pay for the chance to try to kill it.

US$3500 per annum average per capita income is the same as South Africa and Namibia. 

They have a Democratic government.

The AIDS growth rate is the highest here.  35% of the pop has AIDS.

Botswana has 30% of the worlds gem quality diamonds.

The currency in Bots is the pula.

Botswana flag is Blue, black stripe, blue.

There are elephants crossing the road!  Wow. There are huge piles of doo doo in the road.  There are many many elephants here.  Some people say there is an elephant problem.  But really it’s a people problem – too many people!  Elephants eat 500-600 pounds of food and drink 130 liters of water a day!   They really are quite regal creatures.

There are huge warehouses of ivory here. It was acquired my legal means so they want to lift the International ivory import bans. 

This was in the Atlanta newspaper on 11/12/2002.  The American delegation at the UN Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species offered a proposal to allow Botswana’s government to sell nearly 45 tons f elephant ivory woth millions of dollars. International trade in elephant ivory is illegat, but Botswana, along with four other southern African nations has sought permillions to sell existing ivery stockpiiles and ivery from elephant culled in herd- managemetn programs.

We went to the Mowana Safari Lodge in Kasane, Botwana.  A month before this lodge was supposed to open, it burned down to the ground.  President Clinton and Hillary visited here in March 1998..

We board the boat at 9:40 am for a 3 hour safari..  There are life jackets if you fall into the water, but he said “you are basically a floating appetizer so I recommend that you swim to the shore as quickly as possible.”

We picked up a “box breakfast” on the boat.  Fruit, cheese, sandwich, juice. 

This river goes along the border of Botswana and Namibia. There are 80 types of fish in this water.  We saw:

Elephants - Martin estimated that we saw 700 elephants today!   They spend 20 hours a day eating.  They only digest 40% of what they eat.  They can drink up to 70 liters of water at one time.

Hippos. Lots of hippos. Big pods of hippos. They put the small ones in the middle.  Hippo is responsible for the most people deaths in Africa than any other animal. Cape buffalo is second.

Cormorant

Water Buck (there are also Reed buck and Bush Buck around)

African Fish Eagle – half of the body is white.

Red Lechwe – like an antelope

Cape Buffalo  - You cannot domesticate a Cape Buffalo, but you can domesticate a water buffalo.  Very hard to kill a Cape Buffalo with old weapons.  An injured buffalo is more dangerous than a live buffalo.

Jacana bird

Heron

Lilly Hopper – fan feet to walk in lilies.

Egret

Greater Egret

Squacco Heron

Impala

Crocodile 2-12 feet long

Kudo – big winding horns. 2nd largest antelope in Africa

Hippo fly – they bite humans

Black Smith Glover bird

Egyptian Geese

Baboon

Hammer Kop bird – builds the largest nest of any bird. You can find anything in their nest.  Nest may weigh up to 80 pounds with bones, panty hose, electrical wire, aluminum foil.  “kop” means “head” in Afrikaans.

Red Billed Wood Hoo Poo

Pied Kingfisher

Guinea Fowl

White faced Ducks

Baboon

Vervet monkey

Water Monitor – like a lizard

Water Buck  - pix after Macho

Papyrus reed on the shore.

THE BIG 5” includes Buffalo, rhino, leopard, lion, and elephant.  So named because they are the hardest to kill.

We followed an elephant along the shore.  He must have know that everyone on our boat was watching.  He seemed to really show off for us.  Trish named him “Macho”.  Our boat followed him as he walked along the shores.  He stopped to dig up mud and spray it on his belly and back sides.  Then back to land to kick up dirt and spray it over the mud on his body.  Then the finale’ – he had to do “bioligical things” with quite a show of his manhood.

Elephants lumber along when they walk. Their trunk swings back and forth like a girls’ pony tail when she’s running.  They bumbled down to the water. They seem so excited when they get near the wate, then they run right in and get wet.  Elephants are fun to watch because they are always doing something. It seems like they are looking at us also.

Martin is really looking out for us finding more wildlife than I’ve ever seen at one time. He raised his hand to slow the boat and drift up beside a tire (a crock-a-tire perhaps?).  That was the first bit of pollution that I’ve seen on this river.  “We don’t slow the boat for cattle.”  A cow is a “domestic buffalo”.

I told myself OK no more hippo pictures. Then he finds a big pod of hippos with their backs out of the water.  I took three more photos.

Lunch was at the game lodge.  Very nice buffet.  I’m still full from the food we got on the boat.

Chobe National Park

Moremi Game Reserve. Our guide is Tawana.

It’s 1:45 pm.  We’re in three 4-wheel drive safari vehicles for 21 people. Open and everyone has a window seat.  We went throught the Sedudu Entrance to the Chobe National Park. There is a cool breeze blowing. Very nice day.

11,000 sq km (4,500 sq miles) and combines river flood plains with open pans and riverine woodlands.  Tawana said that we may see lion , giraffe. Probably won’t see zebra because the park is so big, they only come by the water in the evening. We will see elephants.  In 1994 there were 45,000 elephants.  There are maybe 100,000 elephants here now Tawana said.  They live to be 65-78 years old.  The live as long as they have teeth (they have to eat to live).

When we were driving into the park, it looked very dry and barren.  There was one green tree surrounded by brown ones.  As we approached the river the river, there were more green ones.

We can’t drive off the road, but the “road” is just deep soft sand.  There is no pavement.  This zig –zag path snakes around the bushes where lions may hide.  Tawana said that it has not rained this year.

We have half a tank of gas at 22 kph. This park is 11,700 square km.   We saw:

Sculls – did I really mean “gulls”?

Kudu - I actually wrote “Acudu” in my journal.

Impala

Elephants (“Ellies”)  Zoo’s sell elephant dropping for fertilizer “zoo poo”

Lion - There are maybe 300 lions in the whole park.  A lioness may live up to 17? years.

Hippo - We saw a hippo out of the water with a baby! 350 kilo baby about 6 months old.  I took a picture of it with mama.

Pulu antelope – semi-aquatic

Yellow billed stork

Kettle egret

Lilac – breasted roller

Guinea fowl

Umbrella Acacia – poison to humans, baboons and elephants

Bateleur – like a big eagle. He was sitting in the tree posing for us.

Kudu – pix of 2

Termite mound – 11 feet tall!

Baby elephant maybe 1-2 days old!  So small. Still stumbling behind mama.

Giraffe – great picture!  They usually run away. This one was standing,  posing for us.

Crocodile

We stopped for lunch.  Per Irvin “There is a hot wild wind blowing.”  It is quite warm.

I took a picture of a lodge in the background of the landscape. He said it is in Namibia across the river.

The ride back to the lodge is about 7 km.  The speed limit varies from 60 to 80 but he is only going 50.  We’re getting very wind-blown in this vehicle.

What a good day.  We saw 3 of the “Big 5” today.  Hippo, elephants, and cape buffalo.

Oh yeah, not such good day for one person - “it” hit on the safari in the park. 

We got back to the lodge at 7. What a long day, I was so tired.  Dinner in 30 minutes, but none of our room keys worked.  What a pain to walk all the way back to the office.  I got ginger ale for roommate and a hair dryer. But there’s no place to plug it in. The shaver plug in the bathroom didn’t have a 3 prong. We can use the plug for the water heater, but you have to sit in the floor cuz the cord is not long enough. So we didn’t even use it.

7:30 buffet dinner at the hotel. I had yummy wart hog ribs, some chicken, beef stew.  I also need to mention that the veggies are very good here. Tasty carrots, cauliflower, eggplant one night. They had a delicious mixture of julienne veggies on the grill one night. There is always quite a salad bar too.  I have not had any lettuce and I don’t take anything that looks like it has mayonnaise.  There’s always some cucumber type dish, fruit salad. Other odd looking things.  Oh, fresh slices of avocados. Bowl of cashews. Yum.

When I was walking back to the room, three wart hogs were eating the grass between me and the stairs. I just kept walking towards them and they scattered like they were afraid of humans.  Martin said that if you corner them, they will definitely fight back, but otherwise they’d rather not bother with you.

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Day 6 Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe to Johannesburg, South Africa

No wake up call. Very nice relaxing morning. The serve breakfast till 9.30. Bags out at 11. Bus leaves at 11.45. 

There some folks in the group that signed up to do an ultralight flight – two seater plane with a little engine. I think they set wake up calls for 6 am, so everyone in the group got calls at 6.   I went back to sleep till 7.30. Shower, wash hair, leisurely breakfast buffet.

 Jan said Irwin, Peter, and David’s flight was cancelled . There was a lot of wind last night and there was some damage to the ultralight plane What a disappointment. Irwin had wanted to do that all his life.  I’m sure they’d rather be totally safe though.

It’s still amazing to me that we can drink the water in all these hotels. That is one of the big advantages of traveling with a group. Martin said his group used all bottled water until he talked to others in the hotel and the staff said the water was OK to drink.  I would be nervous being the one to see if the tap water was potable.  It’s just so yucky to travel when you feel yucky.  I’ve been doing maximum doses of Pepto every day. I sure need it.  Some people get stopped up, I get the opposite.  Oh, maybe too much information.

Flight from Victoria Falls to Johannesburg is 1.5 hours. While we were waiting, Irwin and David walked out to the tarmac to look at the ultralight planes that they didn’t get to fly in.  I walked out there too and took their picture.  I think a security guard got in trouble because he didn’t see us exit the building.

Flight was from 1 to 3 pm. It’s now 4:15 and we’re on the bus at the airport headed into the rush hour drive to Sandton.  We’re going back to the familiar and very comfortable Holiday Inn.

7 pm dinner at five-star restaurant named Le Canard. Very good.  The presentation was spectacular. Never seen that before. Silver dome plate covers on all ten of our dinners. The waiters lifted them all at once. I started to cut into my chicken but I had stop because they had to pour flaming gin over it.  What a show. I have never seen chicken put together like that. A leg with thigh dark meat and a big wing drumstick with some white breast meat put together like it was one piece. It was a seven course decadent, delectable meal.  The presentation was impeccable. The cost of our dinners is always included in the tour, but we pay for drinks.  A glass of red wine was US$1.60, white wine US$1.10, a bottle of Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon US$14.50, Martini US$2.00 (they had no idea how to make a “dirty martini” so I had a “dry” one).

There are pictures of famous people that have eaten here in this restaurant:

Peter Ustinov

Bill Gates

Nelson Mandela

Dionne Warwick

Phillip Michael Thomas (Miami Vice)

Michael Flatley (Lord of the Dance)

Boris Becker

Jane Godall

Nice, long, enjoyable dinner.  We took taxi’s home.  We didn’t get back till 10.30 pm.  It was too late to send an email and this was our last chance to access the Internet for awhile.

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Day 7 Johannesburg to Hazyview, South Africa

Wake up call at 6.30.bags out at 7.30 and leave at 8 am.

Johannesburg to Hazyview is 262 miles. We traveled east through beautiful landscape. Corn field, lots of horticulture. Very rich soil. Farmers irrigating with well water. Travel to Whitbank and Middleburg, then we turned North at Belfast and through the mountains.  Very scenic. The highest peaks in Drakensburg are 10,000 feet.  We traveled from 2,000 to 5,000 feet.

We stopped for lunch in Lydenburg. I had a very good trout platter.

 

Lunch in Lydenburg.  It means “town of suffering”.  Most people died of Malaria here.  There is an original school house and church dated back to 1851.  1000 acres cost R100,000-500,000 in this area.

We saw Olive trees.  They are the only Olive trees in South Africa (for Marty’s and my martini’s!)  Tobacco drying sheds here.

Near Ohrigstad there is a small micro climate.  This is the “high belt”, an inland plateau in the Drakensburg escarpment.  There are tall prickly pear cactus and aloe plants everywhere.   Also Bougainvillea and Jacaranda trees.   In some communities it is illegal to plant Jacaranda tree because they suck almost as much water at the Eucalyptus.

We passed a field of outhouses!  That was quite a sight.  The government poured the cement slab for the homes and provided an outhouse with each slab.  They never built the homes.  It really was a field of outhouses!  Sometimes, even when the government does build the homes, the people don’t want to move out of their shacks (“informal housing”).  Instead of relocating 2 km away, they’d prefer to still live in their shacks with no facilities. After the homes are built, they are warned and sometimes are physically forced out of the shacks.

Mandela made a promise to build 1 million homes. He did build half a million.  The current government claims that they have built 1.2 million homes in the last 7 years.  But there are at least 7 million still homeless.  Government tries to release state land to people.  It is still a big problem.

There have been a lot fires in this area.  Many natural fires are allowed to burn. A wide variety of plants sprout after the fire because the high heat is required for the seeds to germinate.

At least 100 million (or 75,000 hectares) of trees must be planted annually to sustain fuel for the population.  Reforestation is being privatized.

 

We had many scenic stops after lunch throughout Mpumalanga Park:

Blyde River Canyon

We saw “The 3 Rondovels” in Blyde River Canyon. A “rondavel” is a round hut in Africa.  The canyon is 30,000 hectares, 26 km long gorge.  800-1000 meters (2500-3000 feet) down.  Striking rock formations.

Blythe River means “joy river”.  Truer River means “sorrow river”.  The men left the women to explore how to get around the canyon.  They did not return by the specified date to the women named the Sorrow River. The women started to make their way back assuming the men were dead. But they all met up here so named Joy (Blythe) River.

After we got back on the bus I solicited opinions and overall, fellow tour members concur that the grand canyon is far more spectacular.

Bourkes Luck Potholes

Cylindrical holes 15 million years old. Up to 30 meters deep. Discovered by a man named Bork, a gold prospector.

Gods Window - Over 3000 foot drop.  You could see a long, long way over the mountains.  Such perfect weather today. Seems like it may be got up to 85F today.

There are many souvenir shops at these stops.  They are not pushy for you to buy things and they wait for you to ask how much before they start trying to bargain.  I was noticing a newspaper under the items for sale.  The paper was dated June 25, 2002.  They have to pack all this stuff up every day. This is October 17 so they have been using this newspaper over 4 months!

5:00 and were leaving Gods Window.   We’re riding around with 20 people in this huge air conditioned bus made for 44. Everyone can have their own row .  Martin has been here 14 times now so he really knows a lot of history and good stories. He knows exactly how long to allow at each place we are the lead bus with about 4 following us.  We have a 1 hour drive to Hazyview.

Harries Original Pancake House is in Grasscop. It started here and now It’s a chain across Africa now.

Kowin’s pass so named for the Sutu chief.

Near Hazyview, it looks like the banana trees are wearing condoms.  Big blue bags so the baboons and elephants don’t see the fruit. Sounds logical. Actually they put the bags over the fruit so it ripens evenly.

We arrived at the hotel about 6.  We’re staying in another “fine quality Protea Hotel”  They have quite a sense of humor. Vaseline Intensive Care lotion had a sticker on it “Just think of it was shampoo for bald people”  The foam bath had “Just add partner and mix”.

Our room at the hotel in Hazyview had a sliding glass door. The building had a thick thatched roof.   We spend two nights here, then we’re in a different hotel every other night of this trip.

There were very loud frogs outside.  The pool at this hotel was in a perfect setting. It was so picturesque. WHAT A VIEW!  Adjacent to the pool, there was a trampoline and swing set in the playground.   I spent an hour on the swinging.  I tried to go as high as I could to soak in the view that went on forever.   That’s a good memory to try to recreate in my mind when I’m sitting in my office in Atlanta.

Day 8 Hazyview to Kruger and back to Hazyview, South Africa

Wake up call was at 5:15. Departure at  5:45 with a breakfast box of enough food to make our lunch also.

30 minute bus ride from Hazyview to Kruger.  Then an all-day safari until 5 pm. We started our safari at 6:30 am.  It’s 7 am now and we have absolutely perfect weather. There’s a little coolness in the air so it’s even a little chilly now but it’s going to be a hot day. The temperature was 33C (90F) yesterday.  There is very good light for pictures.  The sunlight is shimmering on the grass.  We stopped to eat our box breakfast at 7:45 to 8:15.

Kruger is 365 km long and 45-67 km wide.  Kruger park is the same size as Israel.  There are 2 million hectares in the park.  1000 km of paved roads.  We’re going to mostly stay off the paved roads.

There are 8 gates to enter/exit the park. We came in through the Kruger gate. We’re in three open 4x4 safari vehicles for 20 people. They convert Toyota and Nissan pickup trucks  to hold safari seats. 2 people per bench so everyone got a window seat.  Our (distractingly gorgeous) guide’s name was Andre.  He was excellent (at finding game). I love the accent that people have in this country.

Kruger has 360 km border with Mozambique. People from Mozambique try to enter South Africa through the park. Police don’t have to do much work to catch them because the lions do that for them. If four people start, maybe one may make it to South Africa and  he is “scared shitless”.

There are 504 species of birds and over 147 different mammal species in this park. If we don’t see Rhino here, we will definitely see them at Hluhluwe.  The were greatly sought after by the trophy hunters.

We used the “Clock system” for viewing . The front of the vehicle (or boat or bus) is always 12 o’clock.  If you see an animal, you call out “Antelope at 9 o’clock!”

At 8:45 we got onto the dirt roads. Rock and roll.  The roads are smoother here. However, in Chobe I sure did need a sport bra.  We did a potty stop at 11:40 am. It was 36C.  We headed South where there are no places to get food so we should have a our lunch with us.  At 12:40 pm it was 41C. Very dry heat. I truly was not uncomfortable because there was no humidity. (the hot air is nice when you wash clothes, they are dry within a couple hours.)

Our exciting leopard sighting happened within the first two hours of the safari. Another truck spotted the leopard, and they radioed to our other two trucks.  That’s a great advantage to having experienced guides with radios. Our truck got there and Mr. leopard had moved back in the brush. OK. Now time to be patient. With the binoculars, I am positive I saw a dark cat-like creature in the brush so I claim that as my leopard sighting. I think we hung around there at least 30 minutes.  It was great fun watching other cars come by and stop and look.  They had no idea what to look for and where to look being on their own. They probably thought we were looking at the “ellies” (elephants).  There weren’t very many ellie sightings in Kruger. No good close-ups like we saw in Chobe.

Up to 1 million people may visit the park in a year. Mega coaches can go through, but only on the paved approved roads.  Most people go through on open vehicles now.  They were only allowed in this park 4 years ago, but they may disallow them because people are pretty stupid sometimes. I can’t believe the lady in the car between us and the lion. She was about 20 feet from the lion.  Her car window was down and she had her baby in her lap.  The baby made a noise and the lion looked up.  That baby would make a good appetizer!  Here’s some more stories:

Kruger Story:

A man parked his car near a watering and stopped the engine so he could watch the animals for awhile.  When he was ready to leave, his car wouldn’t start. He was hoping someone else would come by, but no one drove by. You can’t get out of your car so he was stuck for the night. He tried to go to sleep in the back seat and woke up to a rhino, or I think it was a hippo. Two huge front legs on the hood of his car. Yeow. What a scare. He jumped out and started running as fast as he could. Barefoot and no shirt. He made it 3 km to a safe place.  The next morning they found the car. Half of it was pulled into the water.

Other Kruger story

A big bus broke down in the park. The driver had to get under the bus to try to fix something. Lions came but the lions were too big to fit under the bus. They kept swiping at the bus driver under the bus. The lions finally got bored and left.

Andrew (our guide) true story

He help the film crew of the Discovery Channel to make a  movie called “Eternal Enemies”. It’s about Lions and Hyena’s.  They filmed it near Crocodile Bridge.  The lions in the film are true man-eaters.  The lions were not taking the bait so they could be filmed. They were busy with their own kill – some Mozambicans.  They drove the truck up on top of the (dead) people to get the lions away.

 

Here a (partial) list of what we saw in Kruger:

Hyena doodoo – It is white because the Hyena has a high calcium diet.  Small white droppings.  Pregnant women eat it for the calcium.  He told us that you can add some water to it and use it as toothpaste.

Water Buck – We saw 2 males grazing

Kudu – They walk so quietly!

Duiker – Fully grown they are still small.  50 cm at the shoulder

Vervet monkeys – A whole troop of them! They have different a call for a cat on the ground or an eagle in the sky.

Guinea Fowl – Hard breast plate so bus drivers always slow down when they see them on the road.  They can come straight through the windshield (they call it ‘wind screen’ here).

Steenbok – A dwarf antelope.  Shoulder is 52 cm.

Wart Hog – Both male and female have tusks.  During a drought wart hogs are the first to die so it is a good sign when you see them.

Marabou Stork – Carnivorous birds.  3 meter wing span.  Massive bill.  They look like vultures. Their head and neck are bare. It’s easier to keep clean when they feed on animals. Easier to stick their head in a rib cage.

Martial Eagle – 2.2 meter wing span.  Very powerful. Can kill a springbok.

Wildebeest

Euphorbia Candelabra plant

Giraffe – Humans have 7 neck vertebrae.  Giraffes also have 7.  They take little naps that total maybe one hour per day that they sleep.

Lions – At Muhlambamadrube we saw a lioness eating her lunch and two male lions under the far tree.    A buffalo kill usually lasts 3 days. This is second day and it is mostly consumed. There were eight lions here yesterday.  It was near a man-made watering hole where a windmill pumps ground water up to the reservoir.  There are some nervous Impala around.  They are so thirsty for a drink of water, but there are lions everywhere.

Redcrested Korhaan

Zebra

Rhino – We found a large torn up area with lots doo doo where a male was marking his territory.  There are less than 3000 black rhino left in the world.  There are about 3500 white rhino in this park.

Water Buck – Straighter antlers.

Baboon – I took a close picture of the dominant male.  He had just been in a fight and he was very agitated.  They mate 170 times in one week!

Hippos – and they are out of the water! Baby and four adults.  Thick skin but lions can kill them.  They almost look pink because of the mucus gland that secretes they very own sunscreen protection.  Most animals move away from water for safety. Hippos go into the water for safety.    Hippos kill more people in Africa than any other animal.  They have very poor vision.

Heron

Elephants – In the summer time You might not ever see an elephant in Kruger.  We saw plenty on our safari.  Ellie plops (doo doo’s) look like a “half loaves of whole grain bread” per someone in our group.  Yup. That’s a pretty good description.

Cape buffalo – They were in the water.  (Not Water Buffalo).  You cannot train a Cape Buffalo.

Ground Horn Bills  - 90 cm.  We saw three big black birds with red eyes. Outside of the National Park they are rare.

Rooibok (Impala) 92,000 in the park. There were up to 145,000 at one time but Impala are food for so many animals.  They are the true “fast food”.  They have a black “M” on their butt so we started calling the “McDonald’s” By the third safari they we’re simply NABA or NABI’s (not another bloody antelope / impala ) Someone would say “NABI’s at 9 o’clock”  and we’d keep driving.

Impala’s give birth about six months after mating. They weigh 60 kilos and the baby is 6 kilos.  They can put off giving birth up to 3 weeks until the first rains start to come.  They all give birth at the same time because there is safety in numbers.

There is a huge variety of animals here. We saw 23 species in one day.  There is lots more grass here in Kruger. It’s 1-2 feet high all over. Compared to Chobe that was barren.  It was easier to see the animals there.

In February, 2000 there was a huge flood here.  Water level of the rivers rose till it was almost over the train bridge.

We saw a big statue of the three men who were the founders: Piet Grobber, Paul Kruger, and James Stevenson Hamilton

We drove about 150 km in our safari today.  We entered Kruger park at Skukuza. We did the loop paved road that goes over the Sabie and Sand Rivers.  Then head south. To the Stevenson Hamilton Memorial Tablet, Renosterkoppies Dam, Muhlambamadrube.  Down to Afsaai (Afsan), then west on Voortrekker Road (Voortrekkpod) 31 km up to Pretoriuskop (Pretoriuskop). Around the Fayi Loop and the  Shabeni Loop. Then out the Numbi Gate (Numbihek).

You CANNOT hang out of the truck because you can’t change the profile of the vehicle.  Do not call attention to yourself.

At one time Bushmen were considered animals.  In the old days, when hunters returned from a safari, they would give a final count of how many animals shot.  Included in the count were the number of Bushmen shot.

There is a computer email system here called “Bushmail”.  You pay about US$1000 for a modem to the email.

I’m glad that we got to go to Chobe too. There were so many elephants and such different terrain in Chobe.   Kruger, there is more grass ground cover.  More lush vegetation.

All the people in our truck got to see a rhino!  The other truck went straight and passed the historical site sign. Andre radioed ahead that we were going to turn. After about 1 km, he points to the left and calmly says, there is a rhino.. Yup. There was a rhino.  She was huge – the size really shocked me. I guess you don’t ever see a human standing next to one on TV so you can’t gauge the size.  Seeing it in real life was amazing.  It was a female with a baby. Of course we were all so excited. You can’t help but to make some noise. She got up so I got a good picture of her body.  Andre radioed that we spotted her, but I heard the response that it was a few kilometers back for them so the other trucks didn’t join us.

We were in those trucks from about 6.30 am to 6 pm. They took us back to the hotel so we were quite wind-blown by the end of the day.

Dinner was a delishous BBQ outside.  We had great bread pudding the first night and not so good the second night.   Drinks were very inexpensive.  Wine was R12 (US$1.20).

The waiters needed a little more training carrying and delivering drinks.  He dropped two glasses of red wine.  One glass went on Liz's shirt.  He left to bring back another glass and it ended up spilling into Victoria's purse.  Lucky she wasn’t sitting there.   Liz asked for some soda water to clean and wash the accident off her shirt  and they tried to charge her for the drink.  

Also, the waiter made Martin pay for Joan and my drinks again last night. I’m positive that we paid cause I gave him a big tip.   There are two tour groups here and I think they just got confused. Martin said it’s gotten a lot better over the years as the staff is better trained on how to handle tourists.  This staff has never ever in their lives eaten at a restaurant, so they really have no idea what we expect. Tourists are a little demanding some times.  And everyone at the hotel was so nice.

Laundry was very very cheap.   US$3.40 for about 30 pieces including 4 pairs of presses pants.  Too cheap!

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Day 9 Hazyview, South Africa to Mbabane, Swaziland

No wake up call today. Bags out at 8.30. Departure at 9 am.  Porters always handle all our luggage.  They pick it up from the hotel door and we have to ID it before they will put it on the bus.  That way we always know our bag is with us.

Today we are on the road again.  We’re going South to White River and Nellspruit. About 1 hour.  Then East along the Crocodile River.  2.5 hours to get to the border crossing at Jeppes Rief on the northwest tip.  We’re on the N4 now.

In Nellspruit we did a potty stop at a shopping mall cause someone needed a pharmacy and a bank. On every row in the parking lot there are at least 3 police officers. The community pays for them to protect the shoppers. They help load bags and prevent abductions of women by themselves.

Swaziland is the “Switzerland of Africa”. This is one of the most scenic drives on the tour.  Banana, sugar cane, citrus fruit plantations.  All irrigated land.  We will pass by every fruit and vegetable imaginable.  Dates, palms, pistachio, mango, tobacco, papaya, avocado, oranges.  Economic growth in this area is about double that of the rest of the country because of the industry and agriculture. 

I started reading a book on the bus today.  I didn’t want to, but I did.  I can’t remember the last time that I had time to read a book for pleasure and this is my vacation.  Richard finished reading it then he “forced me to take it”. I brought a book of my own to read and I left it in the second hotel cause I’d rather enjoy the scenery and type or write instead of reading. But, like I said, Richard forced me to take this book. I had 3 Swazi newspapers to read  and I still had to write about the day before, but I opened up the book and I was on page 100 before I knew it.  I told him it’s his fault if there is nothing about Swazi in my journal since I’m reading now.

We were driving by huge agricultural farms, but right after we crossed the border to Swaziland, there is a dramatic change to subsistence living.  There are swarms of small children waving at us.  Waving is the national pastime here. 

About Swaziland:

There are only 3 kingdoms on the planet: Lesotho, Monaco, and Swaziland.

Currency is the Elangeny is one to one with the rand.

World oldest iron ore mine is here.  43,000 years old!?!

Sr. Willioam Pigg – a French prospector

Pop almost aa (11??) million.

Their life line is sugar cane, cotton, tobacco, citrus fruit. Subsistence farming here. Their wealth is determined by the number of cattle that they own.

They grow 7.5 million trees here every year. Pine trees grow in about 15 years.  They mostly export unbleached craft paper pulp is exported to Korea, China, Thailand.  There are huge industry-owned mills to process the pulp.

There is a “Reed dance” once a year.  Topless single women dance for the king.

Swazi Culture The Umhlanga Or Reed Dance

By Richard M. Patricks, SNTC. July 2000.

 

In an eight day ceremony, girls cut reeds and present them to the queen mother and then dance. (There is no formal competition) It is done in late August or early September. Only childless, unmarried girls can take part.

 

The aims of the ceremony are to:

1. preserve giris' chastity

2. provide tribute labour for the Queen mother

3. produce solidarity by working together.

The royal family appoints a commoner maiden to be "induna" (captain) of the girls and she announces over the radio the dates of the ceremony. She will be an expert dancer and knowledgeable on royal protocol. One of the King's daughters will be her counterpart.

Day 1: The girls gather at the Queen Mothers royal village. Today this is at Ludzidzini, in Sobhuza's time it was at Lobamba. They come in groups from the 200 or so chiefdoms and are registered for security. They are supervised by men, usually four, appointed by each chief. They sleep in the huts of relatives in the royal villages or in the classrooms of the four nearby schools.

Day 2: The girls are separated into two groups, the older (about 14 to 22 years) and the younger (about 8 to 13). In the afternoon, they march, in their local groups, to the reed-beds, with their supervisors. The older girls often go to Ntondozi (about 30 kilometres) while the younger girls usually go to Bhamsakhe near Malkerns (about 10 kilometres). If the older girls are sent to Mphisi Farm, government will provide lorries for their transport. The girls reach the vicinity of the reeds in darkness, and sleep in government-provided tents I marquees. Formerly the local people would have accommodated them in their homesteads.

Day 3: The girls cut their reeds, usually about to ten to twenty, using long knives. Each girl ties her reeds into one bundle. Nowadays they use strips of plastic bags for the tying, but those mindful of tradition will still cut grass and plait it into rope. 

Day 4: In the afternoon the girls set off to return to the Queen Mothers village, carrying their bundles of reeds. Again they return at night. This is done "to show they travelled a long way".

Day 5: A day of rest where the girls make final preparations to their hair and dancing costumes.

Day 6: First day of dancing, from about 3 to 5 in the afternoon. The girls drop their reeds outside the Queen Mothers quarters. They move to the arena and dance keeping in their groups and each group singing different songs at the same time.

Day 7: Second and last day of dancing. The king will be present.

Day 8: King commands that a number of cattle (perhaps 20-25) be slaughtered for girls. They collect their pieces of meat and can go home.

Today's Reed Dance is not an ancient ceremony, but developed out of the old "umcwasho" custom. In "umcwasho", all young girls were placed in a female age-regiment. If any girl fell pregnant outside of marriage, her family paid a fine of one cow to the local chief. After a number of years, when the girls had reached a marriageable age, they would perform labour service for the Queen Mother, ending with dancing and feasting

 

We stopped the bus to take photos of the Mugati Valley.  Yup, it reminded me of Switzerland.  They do love to see tour buses here. Martin said that they used to surround all the people and aggressively beg when a bus would stop to take picture.  But they were shown how to acquire things to sell and that is a lot better way to get money.  They left us alone during our picture taking . It was actually quite a pleasant experience.  I was “allowed” to totally enjoy and admire their beautiful country without the harassment hassle.  Truly a wonderment of a vista that I captured in my mind (and hopefully with camera).

Foreign assistance helped train the Swazi people to make money.  They trained people to make beautiful glass figures and candles.  We stopped at the Swaziland candle factory and the Ngwenya Glass factory. They employ over 70 people. They only use recycled glass.

Estimate yesterday temp down to 15C (I thought 50F)

We had lunch at a Protea Hotel. There is a huge casino here.  A lady had just hit the jackpot and money was pouring out of the machine.  An armed guard and another official were standing nearby.  I asked if it was OK to take a picture, the ecstatic lady said yes, but the official said “no photos”, so I had to leave. 

Our hotel in Swaziland  is in the Usuto Forest near the  town of Mhlambanyati.  The hotel is right in middle the largest man-made forest in the world. Threre are massive stands of pine trees and large Eucalyptus farms too.  They determined that Eucalyptus trees suck too much water that the water table was dropping.  So now they are planting pine.

Dinner was at 7:15.  Many people in the group met for before dinner drinks (BDD’s).  They had a nice fire burning and comfortable couches.  Irish coffee was R15 (US$1.50). My vodka on the rocks was only  R7 (US$0.70 cents). They couldn’t do a martini.  Joan wanted a Manhattan and  they couldn’t do that either.

This dinner was another one to remember.  5 things to choose.  I tried three of them.

This is a good indication of how good the food is on this trip - Mary brought 10 packs of M&M’s and she has not eaten a single one. I haven’t eaten a single tootsie roll that I brought.

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Day 10 Mbabane, Swaziland to Hluhluwe, South Africa

Swazi wake up call was at 7 am. Bags out at 8, bus leaves at 8.30

It is misting rain now. I think it rained all night last night. We slept in very comfortable beds with thick down comforters.  Definitely did not need air conditioner. They provided an electric heater but the comforter was warm enough.

Martin said last time he was here 3 weeks ago it was hot here, then freezing cold at lunch time. Today it’s cool morning maybe 60 degrees. Hopefully it will warm up later.

We also visited the Swaziland National Museum. It had cultural and historical exhibits.

There was also a traditional homestead adjacent to the museum.  Mantenga Cultural Village.    It’s a living museum of all things traditional and represents a classical Swazi lifestyle during the 1850's. The building materials are strictly traditional: poles, grass, reeds, leather strips, earth and dried cow-dung.  They live in big, round thatched bee-huts with a very low, small door. You have to crouch down and waddle your way inside. 

King Sobhuza II Memorial Park was across the street. It is a tribute to Swaziland’s best loved king.  "Paramount Chief" under British, led Swaziland to independence.  Born 1899, ruled from 1921 - 1982, died aged 83.  Danced 61 iNcwalas at Lobamba III (one km. from Museum) Queen mother Lomawa of Nxumalo 1 Ndwandwe clan.  Nice gardens all around.  Email is staff@swasimus.org.sz

Sobhuza II's wives and children

Tourist literature often states "100 (or 200) wives and 600 children." However, a list of wives & children compiled by this writer in 1986, shows:  King Sobhuza II (1899 - 1982) married 70 wives, who gave him 210 children between 1920 and 1970 (i.e. three children per wife, on average). About 180 children survived infancy, and ninety seven sons and daughters are alive today (July 2000).

We’re on the Swazi M18 Highway

AIC’s – African Independent Church.  Broke away from mission churches because they didn’t respect the traditional African culture.  30% of all Christians are AIC members.

Masked Weaver birds build their nests up-side-down hanging from the tree.

We stopped for lunch at Nisela Safaris.  It is a private game reserve. Officially opened by his Majesty King Mswati III on 11 Sept 2001.  The sign in front says “Clean Ablutions” (bathroom).

I held a lion cub!  I ordered my sandwich, then Marty and I paid R60 (US$6) to hold a lion cub. His name is Mtsishi and  he was 11 weeks old.  He was also  quite feisty because his doggy friend wasn’t in the pen with him.  They picked him up and I tried to take him but couldn’t figure out how to hold this big soft playful creature. I finally figured out to hold him under the bum. So I took him and my legs were starting to shake. A truck drove by and grabbed his attention so his ears perked up. David had my camera and I hope we got some good shots.

Marty tried to hold him next.  What a bad time for a camera battery to die. Oh no. David ran to the bus to get another battery, then they tried it again.  Such fun. The cub was so cute and handled by humans since birth. But he’s still a wild animal with two sharp teeth so far.  He started climbing up on Marty’s shoulder and head. Yeow. She handled him great.

We traveled to the South East corner of the country at big bend, south to the South Africa border at Golela. At 2:30 pm we got stamped out of Swaziland, walked across the border, and got stamped back into South Africa (our third time getting stamped into S Africa). My passport is getting full. I think I’ve used 4 pages so far. Martin said he gets a new passport every 2 years.

There was a big box of condoms on the South African side of border crossing. They try to give as many away as possible for free.

Were on the N2 to Empageni. We’re headed to lake St. Lucia area on the Indian Ocean.  It is the largest wet land region in South Africa. It is a UNESCO protected area. Our hotel is built on an arm that stretches into the lake.  There are 700 hippos in the lake and 350 species of birds in St. Lucia wetlands region.  Over 6000 pelicans nest on this lake.

We passed by a huge field of tall thin plants – Sisel or Century plant.

The lake has dropped to one meter deep so we have to come in by land to get to the St. Lucia hotel.  We had to   ride 1.5 hours on dirt roads through Zulu chief’s land.   We got off our big bus, loaded the luggage into a trailer, then loaded us into 3 off road vehicles to the lodge.

Notes on the drive:

We passed a Zulu Medicine Woman walking along the side of the road.  Her mother and a male apprentice were with her.  Before someone is trained, the Medicine person and that person must have the same dream on the same night that they are the next apprentice.

Zulu woman are virgins till about 9 years old.

It cost a man R40 to buy a woman for 6 months.  She usually has a baby so she only cost 10 cows instead of 11 if he wants to marry her.

Zulu’s brew Marula beer.  It is 70% alcohol.  Any elephant that drinks that would get really zozzled.

The women are not allowed to drink alcohol or smoke.

One cow costs US$2000.  It cost 11 cows to marry.  One cow goes to the mother and 10 to the father.  If you make a girl pregnant, you must give her father a cow for the mistake.

 

Lake St. Lucia is very salty. Nisela resorts were very very nice. We had individual room bungalows.  There were walkways built to each individual bungalow/room.  The lodge had about half a mile of raised walkway over the marsh.  A big window in the room looked out to a great view.  There are also time shares also in the area. 

At dusk (sun was setting) we did a hike.  Our guide must have known hundreds of bird calls. I made the mistake of to ask him what whistle he used to pick up girls.  We stopped and he told us about his two wives. It was starting to get dark and we still had to walk back to the lodge. We were walking on the hippo trail at night!  Yeow..

Our guide’s grandfather has 4 wives.  His father has 8 wives and 60 children. So he should have 16 wives if he follows tradition.  So far he has 2 wives and 12 kids.

That night before dinner they arranged for some of the Zulu’s to do a traditional show.  It was different from the other tribes that we’ve seen. No drums, just scantily clothed men singing and chanting.  Very good harmony. Mostly singing sanding in one line doing arm and leg movements, then going around in a circle in different body postures.

Dinner was excellent as usual. Pumpkin squash soup, then salmon for starters. I have to say that I don’t really care for the salmon here. It's white. Seems to contain chewy fibrous material. Something that’s fibrous so it’s very chewy. Maybe I got a bad piece.  I also had  Mexican chicken, good veggies and chocolate cake with pudding.

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Day 11 Hlehluwe to Durban to Port Elizabeth, South Africa

This was a LONG day. 13 hours of travel.  5:15 wake up call (I thought this was a vacation!)  Bags out and leave at 6 am for a boat crossing across Lake St. Lucia to False Bay Resort. We went by boat with our day packs.  Gary, the bus driver did the 1.5 hour ride over land with our luggage back to the bus. The lake is only 1 meter deep so it would take 2 boat trips to do us and luggage - but to heavy if do both at once.  Lots of (very salty) water splashed into the boat.

We got a box breakfast/lunch on the boat.  After the boat ride, we had a 20 minute ride in the Safari trucks. We were going 70 km per hour in those open trucks.  There were many kids are walking to school with no shoes on. I asked our guide about that. (I remember our guide in Cuba bragging that everyone had shoes)  Well, our (cute, white) guide said that he never wore shoes either till he got older.

This morning we had our third and final safari in Hluhluwe Umfolozi Park.   There is an animal corridor that connects Mflolsi and this park.  The logo on our safari truck is “Bushland Game Lodge. We know our Game”.  This park looks very different. Hard packed dirt roads. He said it rained just yesterday. It’s very green now.

We saw 7  rhino is the first 10 minutes.  Saw 10 rhinos total in the whole day. The day before it was rainy so they didn’t see any rhinos.   This trip just keeps getting better and better.  It’s 9 am and it feels like about 65F to 70.  We’ve been so lucky with the weather. 

About Rhino’s:

There are  1400 white rhino (there were only 50 at one time in 1850). 400 Black rhino.

50% of the world’s population of rhinos are here.

White rhino puts it’s baby in front and the black rhino puts it’s baby in back (just like humans!)

They send many rhino all over the world to restock. Kruger was restocked from here.

Rhino can go up to 40 km per hour.

Around 1960 when they were experimenting with drugs to transport the rhino, they ended up killing six rhino until they finally figured out the right drugs and the right combination of drugs to sedate them to move them.  That was a great sacrifice, but look how many they have saved now.

Rhinos were poached to get their horn. Aphrodisiac and analgesic qualities. They did try to prevent poaching by going ahead and cutting off the horn of live rhinos. It’s made of exactly the same material as our fingernails.  Well this didn’t work at all. Poachers would track the rhino for days, find out he had no horn, so they kill the rhino anyway so they wouldn’t waste time tracking the same useless rhino.  Or they would kill it anyway to get what was left of the nub horn.

We stopped to eat our bag breakfast. It had 2 sandwiches-cheese and tuna with butter. Hot dog, good smoked meat, crackers, cheese, yogurt, apple, juice. Too much food.

The safari was about 3 hours.We saw lots of species:

Rhino

Yellow-billed kite bird.

Nyala – male and female are a “ram” and “ewe”

NABI – “Not another bloody impala”

Bush Buck – Our guide said you don’t see these very often.

Monkeys - If you feed monkeys, they get aggressive. You can’t train them. So they have a saying “If you feed it, we shoot it

Birds of Maphumulo

Elephants - This day is “Close encounters of the ellie kind”.  We had quite a scare with a young male elephant. He was very very close, too close to the truck in front of us. They couldn’t move or take photos.  We taking lots of pictures.

After the safari, our bus (with our luggage) was waiting to pick us up. It’s 11:30 and we’re on the road to Durban.  It should take about 2 hours. 

Yesterday we passed by a huge eucalyptus forest.  For the past hour we’ve been driving by sugar cane fields. The Zulu’s refused to work in the sugar cane fields to Indians were brought over as indentured servants for five years. Then they are given the chance to go home or stay.  Now, many of the Indians own sugar cane plantations and most of the workers are black (Zulu’s)

We had a couple hours city tour of Durban.  About Durban:

Durban crime rate is just behind Johannesburg. Per Martin en entire day spent in Durbin is not so nice as a day that you could have used to see other beautiful parts of this country.

Pop 4 million.  33% Indian (Asian) living in townships (like Soweto).  The blacks in Durban are mostly Zulu.

Largest sea port on the continent.

A busy modern city suffering from over population. 

Francis Farewell Square . The two original settlers.

The most shark infested waters in the world are here. Nets are a penetration barrier. There is a “Sharks Board”. A group of people who monitor these nets. Very controversial because they kill other marine life too , turtle and porpoise.

The Golden mile.  The two block behind this mile is the seediest part of town – brothels, rooms by the hour.

Adventures Abroad did spend 2 nights in Durban. However, people on Adventures Abroad trips had too many bad experiences so the company made the decision to not stay one night.  Trip reviews and comments reduced it to one night, and now we only stay an afternoon. 

Many cameras being installed to monitor the streets. There is a very high vacancy rate in the central business district.

1890-1914 Gandhi led the struggle for Indian independence from Britain.

Helton and Ordinance Road. Prince Alfred. Turn right on Smith.

WWI and WWII memorials. City hall is now the Natural History Museum and Durban art gallery .

Sign in square: Natal Centenary 1824-1924

15 minute stop in the square. Big maze of one-way streets . No white people.

Pix of West Street . Welcome to Durban sign in the distance.

“You don’ t have to see crime to feel unsafe”

Vessels are piloted out of here by helicopter.

North Pier Village.

Vasco do Gama clock on the “Victorian Embankment”. A Mile long stretch.

Diesel is R3 per liter. Petrol is R3.5

We have had great weather today. After the city tour of Durban, we drove to the airport.  It was just starting to mist rain.  We got to the airport 4:15 pm for a 5:15 flight to Port Elizabeth (PE) .  Arrive in PE at 6.30, then a 10 minute ride to the hotel. It’s in a prime location.  We had a great view of the Indian ocean from our room.  Water in Indian Ocean here is 25C.

Population 2 million in PE.  It has the 3rd largest harbor in South Africa.  Major auto manufacturing here.  They are really promoting the garden Route so more people come to stay in PE.

50 percent unemployment here estimate for the eastern cape.

Dinner was on our own tonight. There was food on the plane so some people didn’t even eat dinner. Ok I have to admit that I went to McDonalds. I was “testing the consistency of product throughout the world”.  The fries tasted exactly the same. I took a photo of the McDonalds menu.

Hotcakes, hash browns, coffee R17.05 (US$1.79)

EggMcMufin, hash browns, coffee R14.95 (US$1.49)

It was very cheap.We were supposed to give our receipts to Martin and he would reimburse us. I didn’t.  After our McDonalds dinner, Joan and I did walked along the Indian Ocean for awhile. It was a beautiful moonlit night.  Joan stopped to have a beer with Trish and Charles (another fun Miami couple). I went back to the hotel and did the steps . Twelve stories in our hotel. Up and down twice.  That’s one thing I can say about this tour- not many  chances for exercise.  You certainly cannot go out walking with wild animals round.

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Day 12 Port Elizabeth to Knysna to Outshoorn, South Africa

Got three wake up calls this morning. 6.10,6.35,6.40.  Was supposed to be 6:30 wake up, 7:30 bags out.  8 am departure.

Morning tour of Port Elizabeth  (PE)

We drove along the Indian Ocean on what looks another south beach type of street.  Holiday flats and apartments all along the street, beach on the other side.

We went to the market square and Donkin Square. There is a memorial to Sir Donkin’s wife Elizabeth.  The plaque said “…she left an infant in his 7th month too young to know the irreparable loss he had sustained and a husband whose heart is still wrung by undiminished grief. “ he erected this pyramid August 1820.

There is an old church with old Victorian houses built 1870’s. The homes are protected monuments .The owners cannot change the facade.

We saw a horse memorial that is dedicated to the animals that died in the wars.

8:45 am now and we’re on our way.  We’re taking N2 to N12 to Oudtshoorn. R62 to Cape Town. We are 750 km from Cape Town.  Our first stop is 2 hours away to Storms River.

We stopped at the bridge to Storm River. It was built in 1956.  Bridge is 188 meters (600 feet) long . Ravine is 120 meters (400 feet) deep.  The architect in Rome never visited the site. It appears as if it’s floating on air.  These single span concrete bridges revolutionized travel along the Garden Route. And made a great place for bungee jumpers.

The next stop was to see  Die Groot Boom “The Big Tree”.  We did a 500 meter walk into the forest to see this 800 year old Stinkwood? Yellowwood.  Wow a chance to walk! You have to pay for these opportunities! R4.  There are up to 1000 types and varieties of plants within 1 hectare of forest here.  Stats on the tree:

Height is 36.6m

Trunk length is 18.3 m

Crown spread is 32.9 m

Trunk content is 50.9 m (circumference)

Girth 8.9 m.(8 adults) diameter

We’re going down to the mouth of the Storm River in Sitsikamma National Park.  It means ”place of much water”.  This is the second most popular National Park in South Africa. (Kruger is first).  The park is 80 km along the coastline and 500 m wide.  The “Otter Trail” is one the most popular trails in the world for trekking. Only 12 people per day are allowed on the trail.  It’s a 4-5 day hike that you must book at least a year ahead.  Storm River cottages are only US$20-40 to rent.  Very cheap!

These mountains are up to 5000 feet high.  We’re driving by one of the last stands of original forest in existence.

We spent 1 hour 15 min here at Storms River Mouth. We did a 1 km hike. The entire hike was on a planked walkway. At the end was a 20 yard? Suspension bridge.  It’s another beautiful sunny day. I waded in the Indian Ocean and watched the huge waves break on the beach as I ate my sandwich.

The next stop was at the Worlds Highest Bungee Jump 216 m.  It’s off a 453 m (1,500 feet) long bridge.  216 m (700 feet) gorge.  A Koisan Village is located here.

The stop was  Plettenburg Bay.  After you cross Bloukrans Bridge you’re in the Western Cape.  There are so many beautiful homes and views. Imagine seeing sand beaches out of your front windows and mountains out of your back window.   Property taxes are about R700 (US$70) a month.  That doesn’t seem that bad (for us).

As we get back on the main highway in Plettenburg, we saw shacks with no power and no toilets.   We’re on our way to Knysna.   We passed a lagoon that is 18 square km. 

We spent a whole 30 minutes in Knysna.  I saw a sign on a leather shop that said Internet Cafe

. I zipped off a quick email.  1856 Anglican church in Knysna.  St. George Church. The first church in Knysna. Built 1849-1853.  Name of restaurants here: “Wok This Way” (Chinese food) and “Zanzi Bazaar”.  Cost of housing here:

1 BR condo R172,000 (US$17,200)  Walk to beach.

2 BR 1 batch R320,000 (US$32,000)

3 Br 2 Batch R410,000 (US$41,000) garage and carport

4:30 and we’re leaving Knysna. It’s a 2 hour drive to Oudtshoorn.  We passed by a town with 5 rivers and 4 lakes in this 28 km stretch of the road.  We stopped to see the famous train bridge where the “Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe” railroad.

It’s 6 pm and the sun is starting to set.  The shadows on al the ridges are spectacular.  We’re driving through beautiful green mountains. We going through the Outeniqua Pass in the Outenique Mountains. It means “Mountains Laden with honey”.  Highest point in the Outeniqua pass is 800 meters (2,500 feet).  Highest George Peak is 5,000 feet.

We’re only going 30 km inland but it takes over an hour to travel.  There are two other passes through these mountains.  You can catch a glimpse of a road cutting into the mountainside. Gorgeous views through these valleys this time of day.  Martin timed it perfectly of course.

We stopped the bus for a photo op in the mountains and I had to put my sweater on.  3 weeks ago Martin was here and there was snow on the tops of some of these mountains. Very unusual.

There is a huge temperature difference from the Garden Route to the Karoo. If it’s 20 in George, it could be 40 here in the Karoo (desert). 200 mm of rain a year.  They predicted 37C degree in Oudtshoorn today. Very hot city.

The Karoo looks very green and lush from the recent rain here now.  Martin said that is very deceptive because 8 months of the year it’s dry.

Hotel is very nice.  Protea Hotel sign in front says “Special R385” (US$38.50 – not bad for a four star hotel)  They met us with drinks as usual.  Joan and I got a second glass of wine.  We drank  it sitting on the chairs on the patio behind our room.  It was very nice view and such a fun experience.

Dinner was very good, as usual.  Martin asked to sit our group outside. I felt a couple raindrops, but he knew that it wouldn’t rain. After all, we’re in the Karoo, the desert.  Sure enough, it didn’t rain.  The name of the restaurant was “Die Fine Keuken”. I ordered the beef. The waitress said that they had very good ostrich.  I asked for the beef.  No, I don’t want the ostrich, I wanted the beef.  She mentioned the ostrich again, and I told her that I’m sure it’s good, but would really like to eat “cow” tonight. That was a good choice.  I knew what to expect when I got beef.

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Day 13 Outshoorn to Cape Town, South Africa

Wake up call at 6:15. Breakfast and bags out at 7.  Leave at 7:45 am.

We didn’t need the 6:15 wake up call. We were up and ready to start the day.  Outshoorn is a very nice little town. Very safe.

We stopped to take a picture of a Sandstone house.  There are 15 sandstone houses in Outshoorn that are protected historical sights so they can’t change their appearance.

At one time there were 750,000 (or 95% of the world’s population) of ostriches’ here. Feathers were worth their weight in gold.  There is not much demand for feathers now. Most go to Rio for Carnival, New Orleans for Mardi Gras, and Las Vegas.

OSTERICH VISIT - We visited the Highgate Ostrich farm.

Est 1887 it is oe of the first ostrich farms in the valley

Ostrich Chariot – It’s designed for 4 ostriches but two of them pulled it 30-35 km/per hour. You can’t train them, so you can’t stop it and you can’t steer it.  After they learned that, it was never used (again).

Every 8 months the ostrich looses it’s feathers naturally.

Rio gets a ton of feathers every year from here.  French ladies don’t use as many.

Ostrich eats 11 pounds of food a day. 98% of the ostrich body is used when it is processed.

Hooper family has owned this farm for 5 generations.

To hard boil and ostrich egg it take 1.5 hours.

One Boa may take one whole day to make.

Ostriches hate getting wet. 

Female lays 12-15 eggs in a nest. If you take the egg, she will lay another one. You can make her lay 70 eggs for one breeding season.

One ostrich lived to be 87 years old.

Takes 42 days to hatch an egg.  36C temp. Only 50% of them survive.  Lung infections are common. Ostrich babies are taken away from this area for 3 months because of a viral problem.

It takes 18 months to become an adult. 80% of eggs are fertilized.  An ostrich may lay up to 2000 eggs in a lifetime.

Ostrich Embryonic development.

They can run up to 80 km an hour.

Feeding – one did grab my fingers and scraped them all the way up to the finger tip like he was trying to pull a ring off!

Ostrich's have been know to kill a leopard.  Staple diet is alfalfa.

They have 80 breeding pairs here.  Male eye weighs 60 grams, and their brain weighs 40 grams. They have 3 eyelids.

Egg shell is 2 mm thick. It can stand up to 147 kilos.

It takes 5 to 12 hours for a baby ostrich to kick it’s way out of the egg

8 to 10:30 – Visit Ostrich farm

We passed by a fiew “Feather Mansions” in the county.

On our way to Cape Town.  We went through Tradouws Pass. 1200 feet highest point .

This afternoon was a bus/travel day. The stop at Barrydale was perfectly timed for a potty stop. It is a big fruit producing area. They had lots of packs of dried fruit. Peaches, pears, apricots.  Real fruit roll-ups. I got a little bottle of a liqueur because it had raspberries on the label.  I also got a bag of Apricot, peach & almond Nibbles.  They are made by Bellair Natural Products PO Box 206 Montagu 6720, Klein Karoo. Web site is www.lando.co.za/bellair. Lunch stop was in an hour, but I think I ate too much fruit anyway.

Lunch was in another quaint little town named Swellendom est 1740’s. The streets are lined with oak trees and there are pristine Cape Dutch and Victorian houses here. It’s about 78F.  We sat outside by a babbling brook. I had Minestrone soup and Roibos Tea US$2.30.  We’re about 130 miles from Cape Town. What a beautiful county to drive through and perfect setting outside.  I never expected Africa to look like this. Big, rolling fields of rich farm land wheat fields, cows, and fruit trees.  Huge farmhouse mansions with beautiful mountains in the distance.

Now we’re taking N2 into Cape Town through Sir Lowry’s pass.

Approaching Cape Town (CT) we drive by a HUGE “informal housing” township (shacks).  They have no electricity, no water, no toilet.  About 800,000 people (maybe more) live in these shacks.  Martin said some people that work in our hotel may live in squalor like that.  About 10,000 people a month are added to the township.  Mozambicans, Angolans, Zimbabweans. This is a 3rd world country with a first world infrastructure.

It’s 6 pm and it’s still light out. Air is cool. When we we’re driving into Cape Town we could see the back side of Table Mountain.

Population is 700,000 to 3 million. It’s hard to get an exact number. It’s realistic to say the population of CT is 1.5 to 2 million.

An apt is 1 million Rand or more here.

We checked into the hotel, then headed right back out. We went to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront.  This is one of the world’s most successful urban reclamation projects. It was a derelict container port.  Now it has wooden walkways, shopping malls, craft markets, restaurants, Imax Ciniema.  About half the people are tourists and the other half are locals.  This is safe area to walk around.  We had about an hour to walk around.  I went all the way to the end where the Clock Tower is located.  I got stuck on the wrong side of the swing bridge while 4 yachts sailed into the harbor.  I had to walk quickly to get to the dinner restaurant and at the very exclusive Quay Four restaurant on the waterfront. 

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Day 14 Cape Town: Robbins Island to Winelands (7 bottles)  to Table Mountain.

7 am wake up. 8:15 departure.  It’s going to be a good day.  I never saw oatmeal on any breakfast buffet this whole trip, but all I had to do was ask.  Well, I got my oatmeal this morning. Yum.  They call it “porridge”. I guess it is considered a poor man’s meal so they don’t routinely offer it.

9 am and we’re on the boat to Robbens Island. It was a “very lively” 30 minute boat ride.  I successfully held onto my oatmeal.  Some other people were not so fortunate.

The island is a UNESCO protected site. 3.5 hour tour. Island is 524 hectares. 5.4 by 1.5 km. After the boat ride, we were loaded onto buses for the first part of the tour. I have never seen a buses like this before.  60 people packed like sardines.  2 seats, a thin aisle, then 3 seats. The speakers are bad and no one (including me) seemed to like our guide.  He was very arrogant. He lectured us about a man named Mandolisa Sobuquay. In his opinion, this person was much more important than Mandela.  I had never heard of the man before.  Maybe I should have done my homework.

Some people on the bus asked him questions.  He took a very long time to explain that sometimes he doesn’t like to answer questions. He likes to tell the whole long story, and the story “may (or may not) contain the answer to their question”.  He is trying to pour emotion into the story to (un)effectively communicate the conditions.

He is facing us talking. So he starts to explain the mountains on the left. Everyone looks to the left, but the mountains are were on his left (and our right).

In 1846 the island had was leprosy hospital. In 1960, the first prisoners arrived.  Up to 2000 prisoners kept here at one time. Most criminal prisoners and political.  Nelson Mandela (NM) was there 17, 18, 19, or 27 years depending on who is talking.  NM got a 5-year sentence in 1962. He got a life sentence in 64. He was incarcerated from 1962-1990.  He was transferred from Robben Island in 1981 to Pollsmoor prison.   “It took decades of confinement to help to develop political maturity” – a quote from a short movie on the boat.   Mandela wrote many letters to those in power. It finally worked. 1989 Oct first release of political prisoner. He left May 1991.

20 staff people live on the island now. 5 diesel engines provide electricity for the island.

We saw the nature side of the island.  Saw “NABA” -  Not another bloody Antelope.

Then they took us to the limestone quarry.  In 1974 quarry was closed. Material mined here was only used to build road and building on the island. Glare and dust damaged their eyes.

We got off the bus for the second part bus tour. Our guide was  “Tulany”. My notes from his talk:

Apartheid in prison: Colored, Asians (Indians) were given more food than blacks. They had a work quota. And they were punished if they didn’t make quota.

The guards knew all the languages of the prisoners. They censored the mail and removed not necessarily the political information, but good news too.  They did not want to see any of the prisoners smile.

This guy is graphic and effective. Do the 20 school children visiting here really need to be hearing all this?  Well, yes.

His family came to visit. They were punished for visiting. His father is now  blind and in a wheelchair.

He was sentenced to 18 years at Robbens Island.  He was here because he was opposing the evil system. He always had a clear focus. They did not break his spirit. They tried. He seems to feel no revenge. He has heard the political and economic “I’m sorry” that he needed to hear to keep going with his life.  But he has not heard a direct apology from those who directly hurt him. It seems he has released most anger.

He told us this so we don’t repeat history. I hope those school kids learn that.

We walked the long way back to the boat to see the penguins.  There are 5000 pairs of penguins here on the island.  They were named “Jack Ass” penguins because of the loud noise , but now they call them “African penguins”. They were renamed to the African penguin two years ago.

Next stop is lunch and wine tasting.  Stellenbosch is in Wine Land.  In 1650, they planed the first grapes in this area.  300 years of wine making here.  South Africa is the world’s seventh largest wine producer with about 3 percent of the world market.  The industry supports 300,000 jobs. In 1995 over 400 new wines came from this area.  We visited Delheim winery.   Wes site is   www.delheim.com

“You cannot make a good wine from a bad grape. The most important part of the process is the harvest of the grapes.”  They have to import oak for the barrels from the U.S because the oak here grows to fast. It’s too pourous so they can’t use them for barrels. 

We tasted eight  bottles of wine!  We were “sloshed” then Martin tells us that  able Mountain is OPEN so we jumped on the bus and high-tail it back to Cape Town.  The hotline number to call to see if Table Mountain is open is usually not current.  It’s better if you know someone who lived in CT. You can call them and they can look up to see if the gondola is running to let you know if it’s open.   We drove up the hill and  Martin jumped out and bought 20 tickets and we walked right up to the gondola and got on.  We arrived just in time to take the last Gondola ride up at 6 pm.  The gondola to Table Mountain can hold 60 people. It takes 3 minutes to get to the top.The floor rotates so you turn 360 degrees in those 3 minutes.

We spent 45 minutes at the top. Wow. Wow. Wow.  What a spectacular views of the colorful setting sun. 360 degress all around. I wish I didn’t wear my jacket. I got quite warm walking around. 

There are over 350 hikes, walks or climbs up to the top of Table Mountain. 2-5 hours to the opt. easy or technical climbs. Skeleton Trail starts in the botanical gardens.

What an awesome day. Robben Island in the morning. Wine tasting in Stellenbosch ...and a nice lunch, then Table Mountain.   It is like we had three separate mini vacations in one day. Amazing luck with the weather. 

Dinner was beyond excellent. Great little place. Incredible variety of food .Exquisitely prepared and presented.  The restaurant was packed with locals too. Knowledgeable wait staff. Owner came to explain everything. On the menu  in great detail. Scrumptious.  Line Fish – Cajun Mahi Mahi. R60.  I split dinner with Marty.  So much food!

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Day 15 Cape Town: Cape Peninsula

9 am departure.  Today is Friday.  Another day of Martin dragging our butts all over Cape Town and I’m loving every minute of it.  Another beautiful day.

We went to the Cape Point and The Cape of Good Hope. We went down the Atlantic West side and up the Eastern side (Indian ocean) to the Cape Peninsula. Then up the East coast to False Bay side.

We stopped at Cape Peninsula National Park.  Winds greater and 100 kph sometimes.  Over 70 is normal.   The beam from lighthouse can be seen 65 km out into the ocean. Strongest beam in the world. I hiked up to the lighthouse.

There are no words to describe this experience. Everyone who has visited here knows what it’s like. The salty smell, the sounds: birds, waves feeling the warm calm wind blow away the sun shining down. The shimmering kelp floating in the water, waves crashing against the rocks, the color of the water aqua, green and blue with big white fluffy waves appearing out of the calm water. Further out then rolling toward the cape.

What also made the stop exciting and unforgetable was the baboons.  They are very aggressive here.  One was sitting on the “baboons are dangerous” sign.  A crowd started to gather.  A lady put her drink on the ground so she could take a picture and the baboon jumped off the sign and grabbed her drink.  She chased the baboon and it turned on her.  It  ripped her jacket that was around her waist. I saw another baboon steal an ice cream from child in stroller. He scratched the child’s face. Another one jump on a car, then onto a lady’s back and took her ice cream.

Oh yes, and I can’t forget to mention the nude swimmers that we saw on the beach as we drove down to the Cape of Good Hope.  The water is very, very cold water here.  We saw them running into the surf.

What a fabulous day. For lunch we stopped at a delicious seafood restaurant names Bertha’s (Bertha is a cat who watched us eat.). I had a super good Caesar salad, with real anchovies. Then I had the line fish cooked in lemon butter with new potatoes and veggies.  Mayo sat next to me. She and Michael had the mussel pot. Wow.  Cooked in a tomato sauce. After that relaxing lunch, back on the bus for a short ride to see, “the little cute animals”, as Martin would say. What a production.

In 1982 the first breeding pair of penguins appeared. Now there are 3000 pairs of them. Resale value of the homes in the area has dropped dramatically. Penguins are loud and stinky and the beach is now off limits to humans!

I do feel sorry for the people that have houses there. Martin said it used to be a quiet secluded beach. Then a couple pengees show up. How cute. Then a couple more. Cuter. Then 100 more, then a thousand and before you know it, they close the beach to humans to protect the animals and thousands of tourists come to see them.  About 5 years ago, it was a fun surprise to stop the bus and escort all the tourist down to the beach. Turn the corner and surprise, there are hundreds of cute fellows on the beach.  Now they’ve built a big official parking lot with big signs and curio stops.  You have to walk about 10 minutes to get to the beach where you pay about R10 (US$1).There a walkway to the left and one to the right.  There was lots of construction too. That place is going to look totally different in a couple months.

On the end of the left boardwalk there were about 20 penguins right next to it. You could look right into their cute little face.  I took some good pictures of a couple. One was in the middle of molting.  Very scruffy looking but still cute.  Yup it will be good income for the area, but an inconvenience for the locals.

Socially, geographically economically, this area is very different than the rest of the county. You really forget what country you are in.  28 species of whales are here or pass by here. Aug to Oct whale watching. Humpback, Southern Red Whale.

I took a picture looking at Camps Bay.  The “12 Apostles” mountain tops are covered in clouds. The far left side of the picture is the top of cable car.

Chapmans Peak Drive (11 km long) was closed 2 years ago so we must criss-cross the peninsula.

There were hundreds of purple flowers in bloom. What a picture! Geraniums, heather, Protea. 3 weeks ago Martin said this was totally black from wildfires. 85 % of the world’s species of geraniums come from  S. Africa.

There are over 400 ship wrecks along the Cape coast.  Some people think this Cape is the southern-most point, but it’s not.  Cape Agulhas is actually the most southern tip of Africa.

We were blessed to have a very rare, clear view all the way across False Bay. You can see the outline of the mountains across the bay.  Driving around False Bay we could see the long line of sandy beaches. Called the “Strand”.  Beach to Sir Lowry’s Bay.

Dinner our last night of the tour. Our group usually filled two tables. There was six single women and the rest couples. The singles filled in the empty seats on each table. Unlike other trip.. There wasn’t anyone that you did not want to sit next to. Such fun people on this trip.

I split the blue cheese souffl with Jan, then got the Cajun calamari - another starter for dinner. Still too much food, but  I definitely had room for dessert.  Peter asked which one, and it was the brownie with cappuccino ice cream without a doubt. Yum Yum. I had one pair of clean pants with an elastic waist band to wear home tomorrow.

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Day 16 Travel Home (30 hours)

Roommate Joan had a 6:15 wakeup call and 8 am departure for Namibia. Ok, I think I’m really glad that I didn’t do that. I’m a little worn out. I hate to admit it but I think I'm ready to go home. I had a nice breakfast with Irvin and Jan, Liz and peter. I checked out of the room, took a taxi to the airport at noon. I should be home in 30 hours.

I took a domestic flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg. I had to collect my luggage and  haul it to the international terminal. There was a very long line to check bags. I got to the gate 30 minutes before boarding. There was no time to try to find an Internet terminal.

Talking to a guy next to me. He’s from Miami. He’d been to Mozambique to hunt. Private reserve. They killed a cape buffalo, bush buck, and something else. I asked how much he paid and he said US$1300. Not bad. He said he’d heard of paying up to 50,000 us for the opportunity to try to kill an elephant.

The people in the area are really glad when an animal is killed.  That’s their only opportunity to eat meat. They certainly aren’t allowed to kill any.  The man said they are having the heads mounted and shipped to Miami.  The country can definitely use the income.  The reserve provides the guns and all the transportation. Amphibious off-road vehicles.

On the flight back I watched three movies: Reign of Fire, Men in Black 2, and Mr. Deeds. The flight was 19 hours with a refeuling stop.  I’m going to claim that I’ve been to one more country” “Ilha do sal” Sal island in the Cape Verde Islands to refuel the plane. I slept a little, but basically I was moving for 30 hours.  I was glad to get home and get a big kiss from Jim.

 

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Adventures Abroad Itinerary for Tour Code: SA2 South Africa

Begins in: Johannesburg  Ends in: Cape Town  

Day 1 Arrival Arrive in Johannesburg, South Africa. Overnight Johannesburg (Sandton). Dinner if required.

Day 2 Johannesburg - Soweto - Pretoria - Johannesburg

After a brief look at modern Jo'burg, we take a morning tour of the township of Soweto. Soweto unto itself is actually one of the largest cities in Africa with an estimated population of 2 million. It also has one of the most dubious histories of any city in Africa, as it was the site of some of the more infamous events during the struggle against apartheid. The name "Soweto" simply stands for South Western Township, due to its location outside Johannesburg. It was here that thousands of black workers were forced to live in order to provide labour for the gold mines.

We will see the good, the bad, and the ugly of Soweto -- from affluent neighbourhoods to poverty-stricken squatter camps; the world’s largest hospital, Baragwanath; and the former homes of Soweto’s Nobel Laureates, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. We also visit the excellent new museum dedicated to the victims of the 1976 Soweto Uprising. This afternoon we visit Pretoria, the administrative capital of the Republic of South Africa. Pretoria was also the capital of the province formerly called the Transvaal but renamed Gauteng, a Sotho word meaning “Place of Gold”. The Boers, Dutch farmers who were the first Europeans to settle in South Africa, founded the city. Surrounded by hilly countryside, this relaxed capital is known for its colourful gardens and lush green parks. We will see Church Square, dominated by its statue of the Boer Republic’s first President, Paul Kruger, and lined with buildings of architectural and historical interest. From here we will see the University of Pretoria, the State Theatre, and make a stop for a panoramic view of the city at the Union Buildings, the administrative headquarters of the Government of South Africa. We will also pay a visit to Melrose House, a restored late 19th century manor house that was the site of the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging, which ended the Anglo-Boer War on May 31, 1902.

On our way out of the city we will travel on to the Voortrekker Monument, with its impressive marble friezes of the Great Trek of 1838, when the Boers trekked away from the Cape to escape British rule. Today we learn much about the struggles that led to the formation of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal, the Union of South Africa, and today’s “New South Africa.” Overnight in Johannesburg. Breakfast and dinner.

Day 3  Johannesburg, South Africa - Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Today we fly from South Africa to Zimbabwe, where we will spend three nights at one of the world's most spectacular waterfalls, Victoria Falls. The area has been inhabited for hundreds of thousands of years. The first known name of the falls was Shongwe, but the current name did not come into being until the Scottish missionary David Livingstone was brought to the falls in 1855 and named them after Queen Victoria. The falls and the adjacent town are on the mighty Zambezi River, the fourth longest in Africa, which is also the border with neighbouring Zambia.

Overnight in Victoria Falls. Rainbow Hotel or similar. Breakfast and dinner.

Day 4 Victoria Falls - Botswana - Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls is located roughly where Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Botswana come together. Today we make a morning excursion into Botswana to visit Chobe National Park, the most prominent feature of which is the huge concentration of elephants. It is not only the elephants that make this very special park worth visiting, but also the astounding natural beauty. This park has an amazing variety of habitats, ranging from floodplains, baobab, and mopane trees and acacia woodlands, to verdant flood grasslands and thickets bordering the Chobe River. Flowing along the parks northern boundaries are the Linyanti and Chobe Rivers, while in the south the Savuti Channel brings life to the Mababe Depression. Over and above the elephants, the Chobe National Park has an amazing variety of game, and many brilliantly coloured birds. The densest concentrations of animals in the park are found in the area along the Chobe River; it is here that we concentrate our bird watching and game viewing as we travel along the river by boat. We also include a game drive via open safari vehicles. This afternoon we return to Zimbabwe. Overnight Victoria Falls. Rainbow Hotel or similar. Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Day 5 Victoria Falls - Zambia - Victoria Falls

This morning we cross the Zambezi River Bridge and view the falls from the Zambian side (in low water season--August to February--the falls may be dry at this end of the gorge). These immense and awe-inspiring falls are known to the local Kololo people as the "Mosi-oa-Tunya," or "Smoke Which Thunders". The official name for this breathtaking spectacle is Victoria Falls, named by David Livingstone in 1885 when he "discovered" them. This 2km (1 ¼ mile) gorge is spanned by the Victoria Falls Bridge, which was commissioned by Cecil John Rhodes. The bridge was completed by 1905, but Rhodes never lived to see it completed. It now provides easy access between Zambia and Zimbabwe and normal form filling and leisurely queuing has to be done at the border post to pass from one side to the other. The bridge has an amazing view of the Falls and the black shiny basalt rocks opposite, on which sits a lush green mist-soaked rain forest. One special vantage point is the Knife Edge Bridge, which affords views of the eastern cataract, the main falls, and Boiling Pot, where the river turns into the Batoka Gorge. We will also visit an authentic Zambian village to see the traditional way of life in this quintessentially African, and very seldom-visited country. We will pass through the town of Livingston, named for missionary and explorer David Livingstone. The main street of this quaint colonial town is the important Mosi-oa-Tunya Road, sections of which are lined with classic colonial buildings. These Victorian tin roofed houses with wooden verandas, many of which are decaying, are a typical example of the English settler architecture. In 1905 settlers moved in to the higher ground at Livingstone to try and escape Malaria. Livingstone became the capital of Northern Rhodesia in 1911, but the capital was moved to Lusaka in 1935. Livingstone then returned to being a lazy quiet little town with much charm. It still is, despite the general air of neglect. However Zambia is encouraging tourism and there is a feeling of change and optimism in the air. We return to Zimbabwe in the early afternoon. This afternoon we photograph the breathtaking falls from the Zimbabwean side. The clouds of mist that can soar up to 500 m (1,640 feet) above the chasm below creates its own rainforest around the falls, and at this time of day, often many rainbows. While walking the paved path through the dense rainforest, you will notice the profusion of interesting species of plants found in this nature enclave -- ebony, ferns, fig trees and lianas. The falls plunge 108 m (350 feet) into the Zambezi River, and they truly are one of the most spectacular sights in Africa. Overnight in Victoria Falls. Rainbow Hotel or similar. Breakfast and dinner.

 

Day 6 Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe - Johannesburg, South Africa

Today we fly from Victoria Falls back to Johannesburg, South Africa's financial centre and largest city. This "Place of Gold", as the Sotho word for Gauteng Province suggests, harbours the gold fields of South Africa. These are just part of one of the largest industrial regions in the Southern Hemisphere. No one could have imagined the repercussions when an unemployed miner found a stone bearing traces of gold in 1886. This seemingly insignificant event led to the discovery of the world's richest natural treasure trove. People flocked to the area from all ends of the earth and the open pastoral landscape changed almost overnight. Shantytowns sprang up and were rapidly transformed into modern concrete cities. Johannesburg became "The Gold Capital of the World", and the entire country was catapulted into an economic boom. Industrial development was confined to certain areas so that city dwellers may still find rural places and leisure resorts to retreat to. Evidence of Jo'burg's continuing position as the centre of the world's gold mining industries can be seen everywhere. Today in the new South Africa, Johannesburg continues as the country’s--indeed the entire region’s--economic powerhouse, and is evolving into a very vibrant cultural melting pot. Overnight in Johannesburg-Sandton. Holiday Inn Garden Court Hotel. Breakfast and dinner. 

Day 7 Johannesburg - Hazyview

From Jo'burg we head off through the vast wilderness of Mpumalanga (formerly The Eastern Transvaal), the "Land of the Rising Mist". Along the way we travel from the vast grasslands of the High Veld, with its huge farms and ranches, down to the drier Low Veld region characterized by rocky hills and acacia scrub forest. This is an expansive landscape of mountains, valleys, rivers, waterfalls, primal forests, and colourful flora. Steeped in a history of pioneers and fortune-seekers, we will pass many Gold Rush towns and farming communities en route. Lydenburg ("town of suffering") established by Voortrekkers in 1849 lies at the bottom of Long Tom pass. This pass, named after the big gun used by the Afrikaners during the Anglo Boer War, is one of the most scenically dramatic in the country. It links Sabie on the escarpment with Lydenburg on the Drakensberg plateau. The area around Lydenburg and neighbouring Dullstroom has many streams and rivers well stocked with trout. Fishermen from all over the world come to try their luck or pit their fly fishing skills against the slippery fish in these famous waters. Highlights of our sightseeing today is the spectacular Blyde River Canyon. This great escarpment is the kind of place where brochures and guide books run out of original adjectives to describe the fresh mountain scenery and magnificent panoramic views. The Blyde River Canyon is one of the most spectacular in Africa and its cliffs rise between 600-800 m (2,000-2,640 feet) from the river bed. At the "Three Rondavels viewpoint" is an unforgettable view of three huge rock spirals rising out of the far wall of the canyon. Their tops appear to have a hut-like rounded roof. Where the Blyde River ("river of joy") and the Treur River ("river of sorrow") meet, water erosion has formed one of the most remarkable geological phenomena in the country, known as "Bourke’s Luck Potholes". Over thousands of years, surreal cylindrical rock sculptures created by whirling water, have formed a series of dark pools which contrast artfully with the streaked white and yellow lichen covered rocks. Following the road and the Treur River south, there are further viewpoints; Wonder View, God’s Window and the Pinnacle. Their names help to conjure up the indescribable vastness of the scenery. From here we continue to Hazyview, near the Kruger National Park. Overnight in Hazyview. Hazyview Protea Hotel or similar. Breakfast and dinner.

  Day 8 Hazyview - Kruger National Park - Hazyview

Early this morning we enter South Africa's largest game reserve, the Kruger National Park, named after Paul Kruger who was the first to initiate the setting aside of this area as a reserve in the 1890s. Here we transfer to open safari vehicles and make a full-day excursion through the southern sector of this fascinating and beautiful park. The Kruger is an enormous area of flat veld, broken by rivers, and comprised of mixed vegetation and terrain. The park, officially founded in 1926, supports more species of wildlife than any other African reserve--over 137 mammal species, 49 fish species, 112 reptile species, and nearly 500 bird species! With some luck we may see and photograph lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, zebras and many other wonderful African animals. Return to Hazyview in the late afternoon. Overnight in Hazyview. Breakfast and dinner.

Day 9 Hazyview, South Africa - Mbabane, Swaziland

We travel south today and enter the Kingdom of Swaziland, an independent country completely landlocked by South Africa and Mozambique, and smaller than Kruger Park! Naturally fortified by beautiful mountains, Swaziland remains one of the last kingdoms in Africa, a continent once dominated by colonialism. The pace of life here is relaxed and the lifestyle traditional; we will see rural people working their farms and tending their herds as we make our way to Mbabane, the capital city. On arrival in Mbabane we will make a stop in the local craft market before checking in to our hotel. Swaziland -- one of three African monarchies -- once spread from the Lourenco Marques in Maputoland in the East to the Limpopo River which separates modern day Zimbabwe and South Africa. Today, Swaziland covers an area of 17, 364 km² (6,704 sq miles,) roughly the size of Wales, Hawaii, or Kuwait. The kings of Swaziland date back a considerable time to when the Royal line of Dlamini lived in the vicinity of Deloga Bay. The Nguni people are recorded as having entered the territory of Swaziland around the year 1600. Under the leadership of Dlamini III, settlement took place in 1750, along the Pongola River where it cuts through the Lobombo Mountains. The land they entered was neither vacant or sparsely populated, it was teeming with game, rich in natural resources, a haven for crop raising and cattle rearing. Overnight in Mbabane. Mountain Inn or similar. Breakfast and dinner.  

Day 10 Mbabane, Swaziland - Hluhluwe, South Africa

This morning we travel into the Swazi Lowveld, an area of tiny villages and endless rolling hills planted in sugarcane. Just outside Mbabane we will make a stop at small but excellent National Museum where we will learn about King Mswati III and his forbears. We will also see the National Parliament buildings located next door. Later this morning we cross back into the Republic of South Africa, and travel into the province of Kwazulu-Natal. This area is a nature-lover’s paradise, boasting unforgettable untamed African wilderness. This is the traditional homeland of the Zulu people whose informal economy was historically based upon livestock, subsistence agriculture and hunting. The Zulus have lived in southern Africa for over 300 years and have maintained their traditions and customs perhaps more than any other indigenous southern African ethnic group.

In the late 18th century, the Zulu clan was but one of a number of small groups among the northern Nguni. By the 1820s, a powerful Zulu state had emerged under the control of Shaka. Historians contiune to debate the reasons for the rise of a militarised and authoritarian Zulu state. It is possible that the expansion of international trade, in ivory, cattle and possibly slaves, from Delagoa Bay after the 1760s sparked competition for resources and trade routes and promoted political centralisation among the various northern Nguni chiefdoms. Other reasons advanced by historians to explain the rise of the Zulu state include population growth, following the introduction of maize in the 18th century, which put pressure on scarce resources; severe drought and ecological crisis in about 1806; and such innovations as the short stabbing spear and new formations in battle. This afternoon we settle into our comfortable home in the African bush, situated in close proximity to the Umfolozi, Mkuze and Hluhluwe National Parks, as well as the breathtaking and unique St Lucia Wetlands. Overnight near Hluhluwe. Bushlands Game Lodge or similar. Breakfast and dinner.  

Day 11 Hhuhluwe - Durban - Port Elizabeth

This morning we will participate in an early morning game drive through Hluhluwe game reserve. Umfolozi/ Hluhluwe Game Reserve is the oldest conservation area in Africa, established on 30 April 1895, and is famous for saving the White Rhino from extinction. The area currently boasts the largest Rhino populations in Africa, and both the Black and White Rhinos are endemic to the area. Apart from the "Big Five," the area is also refuge to the endangered Wild Dog and the elusive Cheetah. Today's game drive will be 'Safari style,' and will allow for an unforgettable, "Out of Africa," experience.

This afternoon we travel toward the Indian Ocean and continue on to Durban, the Garden City of South Africa. This area was opened up to white settlement by the Voortrekkers in the early 19th century, though the Portuguese were navigating the coast here as early as the late 15th century. Vasco da Gama was the first European to sail along this coast, giving it the name Natal to commemorate his Christmas Day arrival. In 1899 the British and the Boers went to war, but under reconciliation in 1910 formed the Union of South Africa with an agreement signed in what is now Durban’s modern-day Main Post Office.

This evening we fly from Durban to Port Elizabeth, the start of the famous "Garden Route." Overnight Port Elizabeth. Holiday Inn Garden Court or similar. Breakfast and dinner.  

Day 12 Port Elizabeth - Knysna - Oudtshoorn

Port Elizabeth is South Africa's fifth largest city and the third largest port. We will tour this city, visiting the Market Square and the beaches of Algoa Bay. Port Elizabeth is very English in character. From Port Elizabeth, we travel along the world-famous Garden Route to Knysna. This route is parallel to the ocean, and features lakes, mountains, beaches, and steep cliffs. We pass beautiful Jeffery's Bay, a popular surfing beach. The Tsitsikamma Forest Park contains many huge Yellowwood trees -- the national tree of South Africa. We will see "The Big Tree" which is 800 years old! This part of the garden route reminds one somewhat of the Oregon Coast (USA) or the Cornwall Coast (Britain) with its sand dunes and great surf beaches. Knysna affords tremendous views of a lagoon and the surrounding mountains. The town was founded in 1817 by George Rex, reputed to be an illegitimate son of King George V. Known for its picturesque lagoon, the town was first established as a timber port. Separated from the ocean by the imposing Knysna Heads, Knysna is proud of its Riviera atmosphere with its sidewalk cafs and shops. We continue through the towns of Wilderness and George to Oudtshoorn (pronounced "Oats-horn").Overnight Oudtshoorn. Breakfast and dinner.

Day 13 Outdshoorn - Cape Town

This is the ostrich capital of South Africa with thousands of these unusual birds dotting fields throughout the area. Big bodies but small brains, these long legged creatures eat pebbles to aid digestion and are particularly attracted to the odd earring or glinting necklace from unsuspecting tourists. At the turn of the century ostrich feathers were in such demand that the fashion conscious paid a premium and feathered the nests of the barons who built magnificent mansions known as "Feather Palaces." This fine architecture can still be seen around the sedate and pleasant town. There are several ostrich show farms which still sell the beautiful downy feathers but now make more money out of the desirable soft strong knobbly leather. There is also an export demand for the eggs, one of which makes an omelette for 20 people. The bottom suddenly dropped out of the feather market in 1914, leaving ostrich farmers penniless. There were some 750,000 domesticated ostriches on Little Karoo farms in 1914; today there are about a tenth of that number. Today it is not merely the plume feathers of the males, but the whole birds, that are utilised. We will have a tour of one of the regions main ostrich show farms before continuing our journey to Cape Town. From Oudtshoorn we travel through the Huis River Pass with its spectacular rock formations. The little farming town of Ladysmith was named after the beautiful Spanish wife of British Cape Governor Sir Harry Smith. The town of Swellendam, established in 1745, is the third oldest in South Africa. Here we see several historic buildings built in the charming Cape Dutch style. These buildings have whitewashed walls and black, thatched roofs. We pass through a wheat growing and sheep farming area on our way to Cape Town. In the late afternoon we cross the Hottentot's-Holland Mountains, the centre of South Africa's apple growing region, to arrive in Cape Town, one of the world's most isolated and beautiful cities. Overnight in Cape Town. Breakfast and dinner.

Day 14 Cape Peninsula & Table Mountain

Today we enjoy a tour of the Cape Peninsula, including a visit to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve and Cape Point. The Nature Reserve is a wildflower, bird and animal paradise on 77 km² (30 sq miles) of the Cape Peninsula. Here we may see South Africa's national flower, the King Protea, as well as orchids and ericas. The reserve is also home to eland, springbok, bontebok, baboons, and zebras. Within the reserve are Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope, the most southwesterly point on the African continent. We travel along Chapman's Peak Drive, rated among the world's most spectacular marine drives, and stop at the beautiful town of Hout Bay, which once declared itself an independent republic! Late this afternoon we will take a gondola trip to the top of Table Mountain, Cape Town's most famous landmark. Please Note: Views from Table Mountain in Cape Town are spectacular -- but only on a clear day! The order of days spent in Cape Town may be changed in order to go up Table Mountain on the clearest day. Should the weather be too cloudy, and/or winds are too high to travel safely in the gondola, the Table Mountain visit may be abandoned and the programme adjusted at the discretion of your Tour Leader. Overnight in Cape Town. Breakfast and dinner.

Day 15 Robben Island & Cape Winelands

This morning we make a excursion by boat to Robben Island, site of the famous (or infamous) prison in which Nelson Mandela and other Apartheid Freedom Fighters were incarcerated for many years. Accompanied by a local site guide, we will tour the island and the former prison facilties and learn much about life on the island, its now famous former inmates and staff, and about this dark period of South African history. Later we travel through the rolling winelands of the southwest Cape. The Cape vineyards were originated at Constantia by Jan van Riebeeck in 1685, and were advanced in 1688 by Hugenot refugees who brought their vine seedlings and skills with them from France. The Cape's different soils and climatic variations allow a wide variety of wines to be pressed, from exquisite sweet whites, through dry whites to fruity reds. Along our route today, we will see the wine estates, with their delightful Cape Dutch houses, with thatched roofs and decorative gables. Time permitting (the Robben Island excursion can vary in duration depending on space availability and weather conditions), we may visit a wine estate for a tour and tasting. We will visit Stellenbosch, South Africa's second oldest settlement. You will notice some of the finest examples of traditional Cape Dutch architecture along the town's oak-lined streets. Overnight in Cape Town. Breakfast and dinner.

Day 16 Departure

Departure from Cape Town. Breakfast. 

 

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About MARTIN CHARLTON   Adventure Abroad Tour leader

Before joining Adventures Abroad in 1994, Martin completed a BA degree in Geography, and had travelled throughout Europe, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Martin has travelled to over 60 countries and has led over 75 Adventures Abroad tours covering areas such as South Africa, Vietnam, the Silk Route, East Africa, Greece, Turkey, West Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, England, Central and Eastern Europe.


Email from World Relief president Dr. Clive Calver about Zimbabwe

From:  "WorldRelief" <wr@wr.org>

To:  <suzanna>

Subject:  Prayer Request from Clive Calver

Date:  Fri, 20 Sep 2002 09:49:49 -0400

 

AN URGENT PRAYER REQUEST FROM WORLD RELIEF PRESIDENT CLIVE CALVER

Dear Friend,

I just returned from Zimbabwe where six million people are in desperate need of food.

 The intensity of the crisis in southern Africa is increasing faster than expected and the situation has deteriorated most in Zambia and Zimbabwe, where a disaster will only be averted by immediate action. 

Right now, many families have literally nothing to eat.  Malnourished children display the classic symptoms of hunger - distended stomachs and orange-tinted hair.  People talk about the "shades of brown" as they look out at barren fields, scorched by the sun. 

The people of Zimbabwe have come to such a place of constant suffering that it has become a part of their daily lives.  Without immediate help, many will die in the coming weeks and months.

An elder in one of the communities I visited said, "We are grateful for visitors from other countries who hear our cry for food - we are really starving.  In the past when there was drought we could at least buy food.  Even if you have money there is nothing to buy.  Now that you have observed our situation, we have hope."  

Many of those suffering are Christians - our brothers and sisters in Jesus.  Desperately weak from hunger, they don't even have the strength to walk to church.  Helplessly watching their people suffer and die, community leaders cry out for help.  "All we have to live on is black tea," one man told me.

If my heart aches, how much greater is my Heavenly Father's pain?

It is imperative that the Church acts now.  Together, we - the Church - can save thousands of lives in Jesus' name.  We can be the "hands of Jesus" to the hungry in Zimbabwe and across this troubled region helping our brothers and sisters in their hour of distress.  And we can show others that the love of Jesus is real, because we - His Church - live out what we preach.

Please, will you join me in prayer:

- That Jesus will protect His people in Zimbabwe and across southern Africa;- That the Church worldwide will grasp this opportunity to "be Jesus" to families in peril;- That the light of Christ will shine as churches distribute food;- That this place of constant suffering will feel God's peace.

With love and peace in Christ Jesus,

Dr. Clive Calver

President, World Relief

To learn more about our work around the world, please visit our website at www.worldrelief.org

 


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