North America, Africa · 45 Days · 29 Moments · August 2017

Jo Sue's voyage in South Africa

11 October 2017

Wednesday, October 11. Today was the last day of this journey and it went out with a bang, not a whimper! We drove into Botswana, specifically to & through Chobe National Park, where we did a morning game drive and one on a boat in the afternoon: the best safari day of all. Most exciting was the lions, up so close at one time (there's a pair in 1 pic) and including a chase by them after a warthog! I got part on video. There's a croc there and others you'll recognize. Tomorrow we leave. Rita & I get home sometime on Friday. We have 3 connections! This has been an experience of a lifetime. I'll likely catch myself watching for elephants crossing Wiltshire Blvd! And this ends my journal. Until the next journey...

10 October 2017

Tuesday, October 10. Today was Victoria Falls day. We started by taking an optional helicopter ride over the falls. I was a bit disappointed because the water level is low at this time of year making them, at least from above, less spectacular than Niagara or Iguazu Falls. However, when we hiked the trail across from them, we were treated to lots of thunderous falling water and many, many rainbows 🌈- which we wouldn't see when water levels are high. It was a great day: spectacular views and lots of hiking and walking. Victoria Falls lived up to her reputation! Tomorrow is the last safari: a game drive in Chobe and a river cruise down the Chobe River, all in pursuit of animal sightings. PS. That's a warthog dining outside the door of my room!!

9 October 2017

Monday, October 9. This morning 18 of us board the shuttle to the airport for the extension trip to Victoria Falls. We arrived in the afternoon, got settled, and went 2 1/2 our sunset cruise on the Zambezi river, which is the fourth largest river in Africa. There's a picture of part of what our hotel looks like as well as the view of the river from my room. We had the most extraordinary experience on the cruise. Both our guide and the captain of the ship said they had never had such an outing where so many animals were seen. The one of the river with some lump-looking like rocks is actually five hippos. We were up very close to the bank later when two jumped into the river and seemed to charge the boat. We saw elephants galore, including a pair crossing the river and, when arriving on the other side, spent several minutes playing with one another! We were like kids giggling at the unusual scene. I have a video of that. There's also a picture of another of the many boats on the river.

8 October 2017

Sunday, October 8. Last day in Cape Town & South Africa. 😓Began the day with a visit $ terrific experience. A couple here started a non-NGO project that benefits kids from single-parent or no-parent homes. They are educationally so astute. They are providing these kids with what they need to succeed and the kids were amazing: bright, articulate, and inspirational. What a treat! We then ventured into the national botanical gardens, a world heritage site. It was a perfect day to wander through the beautiful flora of this country. Next we did a quick stop in the Muslim area of town. When they became free from the Dutch, they painted their houses different colors to transform the all-white houses of the Dutch. The day/evening ended with a farewell dinner. It's amazing how bonded this group of 39 has become and how sad it was to say our goodbyes. 18 of us are going on to Vic Falls, up at 4am. Will be able to post only if the hotel has wi fi. There til Thursday, arriving home on Friday.

7 October 2017

Saturday, October 7. Today was one of the highlights of the trip. We started out in the morning driving south from Cape Town along the western coast of South Africa, with it's crashing surf and spectacular views. We stopped at the Cape of Good Hope, the most south western point on the African continent. The experience was amazing. We drove further to take in Cape Point where we rode the funicular to the top to see the lighthouse and more far-reaching views. After lunch at a local seafood restaurant, we proceeded to Boulders Beach, the home of one of two large penguin colonies in South Africa. I've posted a couple of pictures of some and have the most adorable video of one waddling down a hill, which I can't attach to this post but will be happy to share with anyone who's interested when I get home. It was a long, exciting, packed day that left me exhilarated! Rita and I had a quiet dinner in the hotel restaurant. Tomorrow is our last day here ending with our farewell dinner.

6 October 2017

Friday, October 6. Free day. Turns out the tour to Robben Island had a few cancellations and I could have gone but didn't. Am sorry cuz the morning was a bust. Rita and I wanted to visit the Jewish complex: Jewish Museum, Holocaust Center, and Synagogue, hassled to get there (tho part was a wonderful walk thru a huge park) only to be told all were closed due to the holiday Sukkot. Who knew? We then went to the brand new Museum of Contemporary African Art. The building (note glass elevator & 6-story winding staircase) is spectacular (a sculptured out silo!), the sculpture garden, and the art interesting. I liked some but didn't love other exhibits. Rita stayed for a tour; I walked to and all over the Victoria & Albert Waterfront, which is jammed with shops, restaurants, beautiful surroundings, and bands and singers (good ones!). I walked more than 17k steps!! Caught a beautiful sunset over the ocean, a short walk from our hotel. Note SM's Palisades Park-like area next to the ocean.

5 October 2017

Thursday, October 5 Drove to Cape Town. First view of Table Mountain in the distance. Traffic jam going up to the cable car; an hour or more wait in line to go up but so worth it! Spectacular views and walk around it. Visited District 6 Museum commemorating 2/11/66 when it residents were removed, "labeled," & sent to segregated areas to live: aparteid realized. Very emotional. Toured the city on the way to the hotel: huge surf! Home hosted dinner. Our hostess Brenda's brother was Mandela's driver & security guard after his release. He was in Brenda's home! She asked him what he missed most during his 27-yrs in prison. Hearing babies cry was his answer. She's a remarkable women doing lots of good in her community. Big heart; compassionate. Terrific day!

4 October 2017

Wednesday, October 4. Rained overnight and clouds broke into another gorgeous sunny day. Started w/ a visit to Stellenbosch Village Museum (see 1709-built house & the first bathroom! Then to wine country w/ a stop to where Mandela was released from prison. Proceeded to Anura Winery for tour & tasting. 🍷Back to Stellenbosch (2nd oldest town in S.A.) where we had a free afternoon. A group of us (who've bonded) met for dinner. Returned to the hotel to a magnificent sunset reflecting on the mountains w/ full moon appearing in one of the views. Fabulous day!! Head to Cape Town in the A.M.

3 October 2017

Tuesday October 3: Left George on a gorgeous day to travel to Stellenbosch (wine country). On the way (pix of scenery along enroute), we stopped in Swellendam - 3rd oldest city in So Africa settled by Dutch. Visited Drosty Museum (3 buildings, pic of 1), ate lunch at delightful out door restaurant (umbrellas). Note old Dutch Reform Church. Gorgeous drive w/ fields, orchards, mountains, and lovely views. Hotel rooms have spectacular views - out of town looking over vineyards w/ lights off in the distance. Tomorrow is wine tasting!

2 October 2017

Monday, October 3 Good day! Drove to town of Knysna where we went on a boat ride on the estuary. Lovely and we're served champagne and spring rolls. Pix include the Indian Ocean (big surfer area), on the boat, mouth where estuary meets the ocean (only place Lloyds of London won't insure!), & scenery along the way. Nice day & off to Stellenbosch tomorrow (wine country).

1 October 2017

Sunday, October 1. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, we were up at 3:30 this morning, left at 4:30, and flew out of Hluhluwe at 9:30 arriving in George at about 11 AM. Our program director had thankfully changed transportation arrangements so that we flew from Hluhluwe to George directly rather than through Johannesburg resulting in a half of day of free time. Unfortunately our hotel in George, while nice, is miles from anywhere. He stopped the bus at huge mall that had lots of restaurants where we had lunch on our own at a restaurant of our choosing. We then spent the rest of the day at our hotel given there was nothing planned and nowhere to go and nothing to do. Also this town has no taxis. Plus we had to eat dinner here tonight and, because there was a huge function, the only option was the buffet. I thought the day was a complete waste of time. This is the 1st of 11 trips w/ this company that is a disappointment, at least so far ☹️. Hopefully tomorrow will better.

30 September 2017

Saturday September 30. Safaris today in a game reserve (Umfolozi Game Reserve) outside of Hluhluwe (pronounced shish- louie!). Very different from Kruger. Greener, plusher, more bush. It drizzled all morning but the animals live it and we're out! Parades of elephants and a family of them who "mock charged" our vehicle! There's a picture of our guide (Zulu) who was terrific. Back to our rustic lodge where a hot shower hit the spot! Up at 3:30am tomorrow to drive 4 hours to an airport and fly to George and"civilization." Having a wonderful time.

29 September 2017

Friday, September 29. Long day. Drove back into South Africa from Swaziland. Photos of some scenery and then from a visit to a replica of a Zulu village. Some interesting information but it was a bit commercial. Staying in the bush at an old game hunting lodge. Getting up at 5a for two safaris. Internet only in the dining hall and we're way far away from it. Will do another quick entry tomorrow as we have to get up at 3a on Sunday to take a charter jet to George to start the Garden Route. Then civilization.

28 September 2017

Thursday, September 28. Today we travel through some of the countryside and went into the capital of Swaziland, which I love. It's very green and clean here and an interesting country. The king here (people like the monarchy, don't want democracy) has 17 wives. Every year up to 100,000 virgins do a reed dance for him from which he selects a wife! We visited a glass blowing factory which is much like Murano's in Italy. Pictured is a peacock from their garden and a blown glass African mask. Also went to a candle making factory. You see a man who made an elephant while we watched. Visited a couple of arts and crafts markets as well. Tomorrow morning we head back to South Africa.
I forgot to mention that we were told that the storm was the equivalent of a category 2 hurricane!!!!

27 September 2017

Continuing with Wednesday the 27th: Our day started with one of our group members being interviewed on the equivalent of the today show. We were to visit a school but teachers were on strike protesting corruption in the government so there was no school. However we heard from the headmaster and I requested that the girls he brought to dance on the today show do a performance for us, which they did. We then left for a rather long drive to Swaziland with a couple of stops along the way. It was a quiet day and all ended well. Most pictures are of things we saw along the way.
Last night was quite the experience! Where were staying in our Safari camp, which consists of somewhat structured tense, each individual's, and quite a distance away from the main lodge. At our last dinner there, which was held outside, it started to rain. By the time I got back to my tent it was raining fairly hard and then the wind kicked up such that the Velcro on the flap that hill down one of the windows was torn loose in the window blew open. With no one to help me, because there was no way to communicate between tents or with the lodge, I struggled and finally got it mostly closed. The winds them picked up to speed I've never experienced before followed by torrential rains and the noisiest thunder I've ever heard. I had phone asleep at 10 o'clock and then was awaken by the noise of the storm! And I am a very deep sleeper. In the morning, and thank goodness the storm had passed, I just covered that several of my items were wet. But I dealt with that later.

26 September 2017

Tuesday, September 26. 2nd safari in Kruger. Great animal day, especially because they all came out after a 44-minute rain (much needed here)! We waited at a coffee/pit stop and we're greatly rewarded. Look for the leopard snuggled next The the big rock that has a round rock balancing on it. And see if you can find the lion sleeping next to the other picture with a big, big rock. We watched the rhino cross the road also saw a pack of wildebeest and a bunch of impalas run as a huge hyena speeded through where they all were grazing. The IPhone pix aren't the best but they can be uploaded into Journi so you get to see something. Tomorrow we leave Kruger. We stop to visit a act and head to Swaziland where we'll learn about and experience people from the Zulu tribe.

25 September 2017

First safari of the trip. Today is Cultural Heritage Day; 1st pic is of one of the waitperson in traditional dress. Pictures of animals (some I saw only on my camera so not uploadable to this app. Uncleuded here are: elephant, zebra, giraffes (my favorite -- note the one where he is at a watering hole with impalas and baboons and had to spread legs and bend knees to reach down to ythe water!), a white rhino, a kudu, and Marshall eagle. Saw but not pictured: lions, water buck; cape falcon. A repeat to a different part of the park tomorrow. Up at 4:30!

24 September 2017

Sunday, September 24. We spent the day on the road today traveling to our Safari camp in Kruger National Park. Some of the photos are from our travel along the Panorama Route showing views of and surrounding Blyde River Canyon. We arrived at camp where they serve a sumptuous buffet. Pretty surprising given the rustic nature of the accommodations! We're up at five for a 6 o'clock leave on ours all day Safari

23 September 2017

Saturday, September 23. Today was called "scars of apartheid experience." We visited the town of Soweto; a lovely memorial to Hector Pietersen, a 12-year-old who was killed at the beginning of the student uprising on June 6, 1976; and met and heard his sister, who is there with him at the time, speak. We had lunch at a local café, heard some terrific music, and ended the very long day with a visit to the spectacular Apartheid Museum, where they were featuring a special exhibit about Nelson Mandela. The last picture posted here was written in memory of him after his death. It brought tears to my eyes and I wondered whether our president would be brought his knees with embarrassment about himself if he read it. I quickly decided that he wouldn't. Anyway it was an interesting, informative, and inspiring day.

22 September 2017

Friday, September 22. We took a tour of downtown Johannesburg stopping at the African Museum, the Constitutional Court, and then the Old Fort Prison where both Mandela and Ghandi were political prisoners. We went to a mall in the afternoon to check out some arts and crafts and then had a great welcome dinner at a restaurant called Mayo. Getting to meet our fellow travelers; so far, so good. The ones I've talked to are nice and interesting. Our Program Director, has a rule: no political talk, which may be a good thing!! Tomorrow we visit Soweto and all things apartheid.

21 September 2017

Ode to Joy! Praise be flat bed seats in business class! And South African air is phenomenal. After only an hour of sleep on the redeye from DC, I slept five hours after dinner and another three after breakfast on the flight from DC to Dakur to Johannesburg. Arrived and had a light dinner and am now in my room unpacking. The one picture is of taking off from Dakur and the other is of a beautiful orchid arrangement in the lobby of the hotel here in Johannesburg. More interesting things to say and see tomorrow.

20 September 2017

Arrived early this morning from LA. Just over an hour of sleep on the red eye. All-day layover in DC. We "Club/Lounge hopped" all day: United, Turkish, and Lufthansa! A different kind of travel! Off this evening to J'burg through Dakar, Senegal (refuel). Hoping for better luck in the sleep department! 😴

19 September 2017

The journey begins! Rita and I checking in at United on our way to D.C. Then to Dakur and finally J'burg.

27 August 2017

Just to let you know, this journey begins late on September 19 and ends on October 13. See you later in September!