Port Elizabeth

Second day in Port Elizabeth after a frugal breakfast, incomplete (asked for bacon and eggs that have never arrived) served in the kitchen area of ​​the ugly Sir Roys Hotel, we take the car and decide to reach the Cape Francis Lighthouse a really nice place , rich in cliffs where we stop to have a snack together with seals and cormorants, the sea is beautiful, we take a long walk. Then we return to Port Elizabeth where we stop to eat something before returning to the hotel. Tomorrow we start towards the Garden Route a tourist route that crosses a region with an almost Mediterranean climate. It runs between the Indian Ocean and the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma mountains. It moves between the sea and a vegetation that combines the fynbos and the temperate forest.

Even the waters of the ocean are famous for their marine life: coral reefs, dolphins and sea lions; but above all, the Southern Right Whales that from July to December visit the numerous bays to give birth or breastfeed the calves.
Our next stop will be at Knysna.

 

Cape Town

the first day of stay, as weather allows us, we decide to go to explore the Cape of Good Hope peninsula, take the car and head south, take the highway to the Cape Peninsula where you can cross the walking park going from the Cape of Good Hope to Punta del Capo where the lighthouse is located. parked the car we decide to reach Punta del Capo from the Cape of Good Hope on foot with. a path not really easy but with breathtaking views

 

we stop on the way back to boulders beach, famous for its colony of penguins of the Cape, which are all stationed around this beach of sand and granite. A sunset before returning at the hotel

We visit, the day after, the Table Mountain Park early in the morning before the clouds arrive (and Stefano shatters a hand slipping on a wet and muddy stone slab …) then at the port to try to visit Robben Island, Mandela’s famous detention prison. a visit to a historic district where some original houses of the first Dutch settlers were kept.

towards De Hoop

Departure very early in the morning, the day is long and interesting, proceed to Mossel Bay and then head to Swellendam from where we will have to travel the 50 kilometers of unsealed road that separate us from the nature reserve of De Hoop. We stop at a supermarket to do a little shopping, the cottage that we have booked has the kitchen, but there are not many grocery stores in the reserve (indeed no one). We follow the unpaved road considering that ultimately it is much better than our paved roads. We arrive at the entrance to the reserve where we stop to pay the admission ticket. We continue the journey and the road gets a little narrower and in worse conditions but we still arrive at the reception of the De Hoop Collection resort at an acceptable hour. We unload the luggage, the cottage is one of those with two bedrooms, the table in the middle of the living room-kitchen is elegantly laid with red tablecloth and napkins, the refrigerator is huge and we fill it with our groceries and veggies (including some bottles of excellent South African wine) We go back to the car and drive straight towards the sea, at the reception they told us that the whales have arrived with their cubs, we drive along a long and narrow unsealed road, close by the Fynbos and the very high sand’s dunes, under control of ostrichs, Bontebok, Monkeys, guinea fowls, Eland, Herons, Pelicans, Vultures. We climb a huge sand dune and when we are at the top, in front of us, the show of the Indian Ocean, slightly choppy and in the waves a few meters from the shore the blow of the Southern Whales, our dream has come true and we can go back to the cottage because now it is dark. Tomorrow we will melt our cameras.

A nice dinner with spaghetti, meat, salad and an excellent Shiraz

from Bongani to St. Lucia

At 8:00 am we leave! The first ten kilometers are of unsealed road, within the protected area and we meet everything: rhino, zebras, monkeys … We continue for almost 600 km between forests of tall trees and firs: it seemed to be in Switzerland! We turn around outside Swaziland passing from the Mpumalanga region to KwaZulu-Natal. In the late afternoon we arrive in St. Lucia. We chose this small town to visit three interesting parks: iSimangaliso and Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park. The hotel, the Serene Estate is beautiful, modern, and welcoming, the owner lady makes us sit down to manage with us the activities we will do on the three days of stay and she will arrange to book. Let’s see the sunset on the beach and stop to watch the full moon that is an incredible red !!! A large sign at the entrance to the beach, initially ignored by us, warns that it is dangerous to walk around at night, because hippos and crocodiles can be met along the roads. Panic absolute, then we run into the car. The streets of the small town are invaded by signs indicating the possibility of encountering hippos, rather dangerous animals, in fact in South Africa they are the leading cause of death.

Bongani day 2

Wake up before dawn to have a cup of coffee and a scone before leaving for the morning safari. We climb the jeep led by our Simeon and at 06:20 we leave for the usual three hours tour of safari. We go around the long and the wide but we do not see much, nyala or nkudu are our recurring photographic subjects, some are also very beautiful, but we do not see predators of any kind. We go back slowly towards the resort but at a certain point our driver leaves the road and climbs up a path that leads to a large clearing where we discover with amazement that the resort have set up the tables and all the necessary structure for the main breakfast. A waiter welcomes us with a huge bowl of hot water, soap and a towel to make us wash our hands. There are tables with fruit, cereals, there is a counter that makes only toasted bread while another is dedicated to eggs and bacon made express. We sit together with other guests to have breakfast in front of an impressive natural spectacle.
After a hearty breakfast, we go back to the Range Rover and return to the resort to rest, waiting for lunch and the second safari around 15:30. Elisa decides not to rest and strolls through the internal streets, meeting: impala, monkeys… that circulate quietly among the bungalows. We are surrounded by security men who, I must say very discreetly, monitor the surrounding area, to prevent those who stay in the resort from being confronted by some dangerous animal, since there is no fence. Plentiful lunch and … away, it starts again !!! This time the most fascinating meeting was with the black rhinos! We arrived when it was already night, thanks to the intuition of Simeon who heard them from a distance. What a thrill to see them so close in their habitat !!! We return to our “apartment” and it is almost time for dinner.

 

Ndzuti day 4

It is almost 7 am when we are woken up by Justin, soft breakfast and after half an hour we leave for the safari. It is very cold, but there is a clear sky that allows us to see the mountains to the east.
This morning the animals do not want to show! Justin tries to follow the tracks left by the lions, but we wander for an hour to no avail! We stop next to the pond where three hippos are dozing in the water and many impalas are drinking. Warthogs also arrive.
After a coffee and a piece of cake, we return to the camp to have breakfast. This morning the chef is preparing char-grilled chops and mushrooms, to be added to eggs, beans, fruit, etc. etc..
We early stop with a taste, but the family of Cape Town that is with us eats abundantly of everything. If I think that in three hours we have lunch …
Unforgettable afternoon with the routine safari led by Bruce in search of animals that do not want to show.
We manage to saw a distant rhino. We return to the camp accompanied by Bruce and Judy, Mama Seena the handyman chef has prepared the dinner we consume around the crackling fire chatting with the couple of Cape Town. The bitter cold wins over the desire to stay out and talk, so we come back for a last coffee before going to bed. Tomorrow we leave for the south towards Nelspruit where we will reach our next destination, the Bongani mountain lodge.

NDZUTI Day 3

Another early morning safari with the boys (daughter and boyfriend of the camp managers)
They decided to change route to try to meet the elephants.
We almost immediately encounter a beautiful owl, motionless on a branch, we photograph it and slowly leave again. An impala group crosses the road quickly and stops on the other side to observe us. We glimpse a couple of giraffes intent on eating, then we reach a small lake where three hippos are immersed. A few hundred meters later here is a lone gnu that stops, turns and stays there a few moments, the time to be photographed. Stop to have a coffee and eat a little cake prepared by a very good black chef. We continue the journey, but not even the shadow of elephants, only some of their excrement. A myriad of buffaloes go up a hill and we stop for a while to let them pass. It is almost 10:00, it is late and we must return for breakfast, but also because the Dutch family that shares the same structure with us, must leave. Breakfast with scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, corn and chicken balls, fried and fried fish triangles, fruit salad … in short, for us a lunch !!! In reality the real lunch will be served around 15:00. We salute the gentlemen who leave and we go to rest. In the meantime, other guests arrived in the camp.
A couple of young South Africans with two children aged 7 and 4.
We go out again for the evening safari, accompanied by the guys Justine and Saber, looking for other animals to photograph. We return to darkness without having seen much
We have dinner in front of the fire.

 

Ndzuti Day 2

Wake up at 6:45, soft breakfast and off for the first safari of the day with Bruce. The sky is gray and it is quite cold. Along the narrow streets of the bush we look to the right and left to catch a glimpse of some early morning animals. Along the river a herd of big buffaloes are drinking and we approach it to take them up close. We continue the path and immediately afterwards we realize the presence of a magnificent and solitary rhino that moves away with incredible agility.
Among the dry grass we notice a couple of lion cubs, but soon after a buffalo carcass is surrounded by other small and adult lions. An imposing lioness observes us at a short distance, while the others continue to eat. We watch them for a while, then we continue to return to the field where we expect the real breakfast !!!
At 11:30 Jude, offers us a new bush excursion and we obviously are happy, also because the field is so small that you really do not know what to do to pass the time.
It starts again and this time with her driving the Range Rover. Along the way we meet the buffaloes returning from the river: they are really so many !!! We also note some small, well protected by adults. After passing a small tented camp, we return to observe the lions and we find them all there around to make banquet with the poor buffalo. This time we notice the presence of two huge male lions that have been added to the others: they are truly the kings of the savannah! A few vultures a short distance await their turn next to a puddle of mud. We do other laps following the fresh traces of other animals, but without success. On the way back we come across a small family of warthogs who move away after watching us for a few moments. We are back at the camp, it is almost 13:00 and at 3:00 pm we have lunch.
We have time to take a nap!

in the late afternoon we return to have the lions met in the morning, a further big male has been added to the group and the little ones are scattered around, legs in the air, with an improbably full belly. We also feel the need to fill our stomachs and return to the camp for dinner.

From Blyde River Canyon to Ndzuti Safari Camp

We left the hotel immediately after breakfast to reach our next destination located in a private reserve La Klaserie. Almost 50 kilometers of unpaved road, with the last 10 almost impassable, to reach the Ndzuti Safari Camp. The resort is enclosed in an electrified fence, with a common room equipped with every necessary comfort and four bedrooms with bathroom and double shower (in the sense that is so large that a queen bed can fit in).

We wander in the garden waiting for lunch, surrounded by leaping Impala. After a delicious lunch with chicken, grilled vegetables, baked potatoes and a fresh salad, our guide Bruce takes us on an open 4×4 car equipped with nine seats, to bring us to the first photo safari.

We walked a long time between bushes and cliffs, meeting a nice group of Impala, then along the banks of a stream, check the brown head of a lioness, we stop to take some pictures, then Bruce decides to cross the river to see the feline better. Along the way we cross three male giraffes walking around the bush who pose for a nice photo shoot. When we are on the other side of the river, after a few hundred meters, on the sandy shore there appear three lions (the lioness with two puppies). We also shoot a fair number of photographs here and then we move along the bank of the river, where we stop to drink something (wine from the Stellenbosh region rather than a tonic with Gin or a soda) that our guide had brought with himself. After having admired the sunset, we resume our journey back to the hotel along paths and searching for the last animals with a powerful torch brandished saber-like by our guide.

Returning to the hotel, after a freshening up and a chat we arrive at dinner always accompanied by some animal (two hyenas and a jackal)

Johannesburg

First night in Johannesburg in a very good hotel “ the Genesis Suites & Conferencing .”

After breakfast, prepared by us in the delicious cuisine of our apartment, we book a tour for tomorrow morning in Soweto. Four hours drived by a personal guide for a total of 1200 rand (about 81 €).

With the car we head towards the city center. We park at New Town and go to visit the Museum Africa,

housed in the old fruit market on Bree St.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This museum houses several exhibitions including one on the evolution
of South African music. but really interesting the “Apartheid, from birth to fall.” illustrated by a lot of photos, with the addition of documentaries and newspaper articles. Admission is free.

After we walked to reach the corner of Jeppe St. and Miriam Makeba St. where stands the massive Turbine Hall, considered one of the most extraordinary buildings in the city.

 


We visited Gandhi Square, where there was erected a monument to Mahatma who lived here over 21 years, until 1914, becoming a prominent lawyer, having suffered humiliation and discriminations for the color of his skin.

 

It’s three of a sunny afternoon, we decided to see the city from above, 

and so we reach the top of Africa (15 rand per person). A special elevator brings us quickly to the floor 50, 

 

where is possible to enjoy a wonderful view over the city from above.

The sun is about to set and we go back in our apartment during the trip we had crossed a neighborhood rich with spectacular villas, home for whites, then a woefully poor suburbs, which makes us understand that the path to equality is still far away.

Blyde River Canyon

Day dedicated to the observation of Blyde Canyon from various points. There is a beautiful sun and it’s hot.

The resort where we stay is charming and the chalets, built with local stones, surronded by the forest. Some labels indicate not to feed the animals, especially the baboons, in fact it seems that the latter have the habit of entering housing and stealing everything they find. We try to be careful not to leave doors or windows open and walk out to reach the first observation point at about three kilometers, the Lower Viewpoint. The descent is steep but easy. We arrive along the banks of the river where there are also small waterfalls. On return we decide to continue, always by foot, to go see the Upper Viewpoint, the same seen last night, but now we have time to stop and observe more carefully. We immediately notice the lake and the river that goes into the canyon: really beautiful !!!

In front of us rises the Three Rondavels, huge circles of stone from the grassy top, beautiful !!!

Numerous hawks circling in the clear sky. We note that on the opposite side of the canyon some people are walking. We think it’s nice to see that place too. We reach it by car, because it is quite far, but once we arrive … how wonderful !!!! Besides the lake and the river, we notice a dam and the Three Rondavels are illuminated by the sun, now at sunset, which makes them even more fascinating with their pink-red rocks. Here we await the sunset surrounded by a peace and a regenerating silence, while a baboon bows us from afar, sitting comfortably on a rock.

Return to the Blyde Canyon Forever Resort for dinner time, the day draws to a close and the 15 km walk will make you feel, it will be the age

Tomorrow we go to the Kruger National Park where we hope to meet the Big Five …

Soweto

At 9:00 we leave for Soweto with a driver of the Boyang Gape Tours, who also serves as a guide,

First stop at the last Mandela’s house, where he lived until his death. Photos of the rite in front of the gate. What is striking is not so much the house, but the flowerbeds that are on the road, where the plants are surrounded by many rocks, much of which are painted and with dedications to the great man.

We stop to look at the Soccer City, the headquarters of the World Cup in 2010, which has the shape of a pumpkin African, now owned by China. It rises and dominate  the abandoned railroad tracks that served the mines on the outskirts of Soweto.

We arrive in Soweto and our guide shows us a residential neighborhood, with magnificent villas, built with bricks of different colors. We go close to see, from the outside, the house of Mandela’s second wife Winnie. Over the road and at some distance the image changes: line of studios apartment, each of which can live in more people with a shared bathroom (some are occupied by men, others by women).

We begin to see social differences !!!! The guide tells us that since he became President Nelson Mandela, things are slowly changing, because it has provided an opportunity for these men to be reunited with family, buying small houses built for them.

Here is Kliptown, where in 1955 was drafted the Freedom Charter. We are in the Walter Sisulu Square (dedicated to), where stands the Freedom Charter Monument, built of brick in the shape of a cone.

Our guide tells that he take us for a walk. We go into a slum, welcomed by people of all colors, smiling and friendly, despite the apparent poverty. The children then are beautiful and joyful, meets us, embraces us. We enter through the narrow streets unpaved, right and left almost all sheet metal shacks, people coming in and out. In the main square there is a fountain, and  here women, do the laundry. more flush of water run trough the streets, but there is no smell !!!! Let us leave this place with sadness, melancholy, but also anger. Why so many villas only a few tens of meters?

To the north of the famous Vilakazi St. is the Hector Pieterson Memorial. The square is dedicated to the 13 year old boy killed by police during the Soweto uprising. Next to it stands the Museum that offers an interesting reconstruction of life in Soweto and the history of the struggle for freedom. They retraced the tragic events of 16 June 1976, when a peaceful protest of students, against the introduction of Afrikaans as the language of instruction, was violently suppressed by the police and Hector Peterson was killed. Very interesting and well organized museum !!!

After seeing, from the car, the Regina Mundi Church, which played an important role in the struggle against apartheid, thanks to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, we arrive at Mandela House. This small house was rebuilt some time ago, Mandela lived there with his first wife Evelyn and later with the second Winnie. Interesting and full of family photos, furniture and many other items. In the garden under a tree, manuka, a raised arm with a clenched fist, carved out of marble gray, recalls the date of birth and death of the great man.

A few steps from the house of Mandela is that of Desmond Tutu.

We return to Johannesburg and are almost 14:30

We start

Ended the preparation phase, almost four months, today we fly to reach the dreamed South Africa.

An Emirates flight awaits us with its two stops and tomorrow morning at noon we will be in Cape Town. We, then, take a British Airways flight to go to Johannesburg from where we start our vacation in the Rainbow’s Country

hugs

 

South Africa

We Go1 Johannesburg  2 Soweto3 Blyde River Canyon4 dal Canyon a Ndzuti Safari Camp5 Ndzuti Safari Camp 26 Ndzuti Safari Camp 37 Ndzuti Safari Camp 48 Bongani Mountain Resort9 Bongani Mountain Resort 210 fm Bongani to St. Lucia11 St.Lucia 212 St Lucia 313 St Lucia – Durban – Port Elisabeth 414 Port Elizabeth15 Knysna16 Towards De Hoop17 De Hoop Natural Reserve  — Cape Town 1&2

 

The Rainbow Country, huge, rich, and fascinating, we have prepared this travel, six months in advance, studying at coffe table and on the internet , trying to find the places most famous (and not) to visit.
We have dedicated time to choice of city and of the lodgements, using the resources of Trip Advisor , Booking and Hotels while for the flights, by the official sites of the British and South African Airlines . For the cars we used Rentalcars and
economy car rentals

For tours and visits to be made in each location, we used the internet and guidebooks, trying to prioritize and make choices that would allow us to expand the most of our opportunity to touch and see the Rainbow Country.