A Travellerspoint blog

Home Again

March 9

Well, we made it home successfully. We managed to get a little walk around the neighbourhood in Cape Town, before leaving to return the rental car at the airport and check in. All our flights were pretty much on time, although we had to wait about an hour for our luggage in Toronto, before we could re-check it to Saskatoon. There was a huge amount of luggage on our flight. We could not believe how much luggage some people were travelling with - maybe they were moving to Canada??? We did manage to get some sleep on the long flight from Addis Ababa to Dublin. We didn’t even get off the plane for the Dublin stopover. They refueled the plane and changed the crew with all of us on board, just waiting for about an hour.
By the time we made it to Saskatoon, we figured we had been travelling for 31 1/2 hours. Kalindi met us and took us home where we spent the night. Then back home on Friday after playing with the grandkids for awhile. Safe and sound again!

Posted by katdill 13:34 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Return to Cape Town

March 5 & 6

semi-overcast

We left Oudtshoorn fairly early and travelled down R62 towards Cape Town. R62 is a lot like Route 66 in the States. Signs proclaiming you are on R62, T-shirts you could buy, etc. We had to pass thru several mountain ranges, but the road was good and there wasn’t lots of traffic. We stopped at Ronnie’s Sex Shop between Ladismith and Barrydale. This is a bar/cafe with walls covered in people’s names, business cards, etc. We had a cup of coffee for a break there. Quite the place...
The mountains ahead

The mountains ahead

Ronnie’s Sex Shop

Ronnie’s Sex Shop

The bra collection

The bra collection

Wall of business cards

Wall of business cards

Roadkill Cafe

Roadkill Cafe


We didn’t drive directly to Cape Town, but did a little detour thru Stellenbosch wine country. We did travel thru the Huguenot tunnel which is nearly 4 km. through the mountain, which has to be much easier than going over the pass. We stopped at a winery and bought a couple of bottles to bring home with us. Nice country, but so much traffic!!
One of the many flag men (which are often women) on the road construction jobs. They stand out in the sun all day, waving their flag at cars, who often don’t seem to slow at all.

One of the many flag men (which are often women) on the road construction jobs. They stand out in the sun all day, waving their flag at cars, who often don’t seem to slow at all.

A view of the winery, Morganhof.

A view of the winery, Morganhof.

The shack ghetto on the edge of Cape Town, complete with satellite dishes.

The shack ghetto on the edge of Cape Town, complete with satellite dishes.


We found our hotel, The Grey Hotel, in Cape Town with out much difficulty and got settled in. We have the smallest hotel room ever, with the biggest bed - larger than a king! There is less floor space than bed, but it works for us. We contacted Vicki and Julian to make arrangements for picking them up tomorrow morning. We had supper at a little place just a block from the hotel, recommended by the desk clerk, The Petit Tart. It was a very eclectic place with good food. We picked up supplies for breakfast at a Spar and turned in for the night.
The Petit Tart

The Petit Tart


We picked up Vicki and Julian outside the apartment they are staying in. It is quite a challenge to get to it, but MapMe got us there. They said even the taxi drivers have trouble finding the place. Our first stop was Table Mountain. After parking and walking a short way uphill, we got into line for the cable car. The line is huge and you keep getting moved from one segment to another, but you are still waiting in line. After about an hour we got into the cable car and made it to the top. It is lovely up there, we had a sunny day so we could appreciate the view and the fynbos that grows up there. We did a little walking on the trails and then had a cold drink before heading back down. We even saw another Dassie.
Part of the lineup for the cable car

Part of the lineup for the cable car

Looking up from the cable station

Looking up from the cable station

A view from on high

A view from on high


A dasssie on Table Mountain

A dasssie on Table Mountain

Julian and Vicki with the view

Julian and Vicki with the view


Once we got back to the car, we drove over to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. We had lunch at the Moyo Restaurant, sitting on the patio in a tent like gazebo. Good food and lovely ambiance. We spent a couple of hours walking around the gardens. It is a huge place and would take several days to see it all, but we did enjoy what we did see. It clouded over after lunch so we could walk very comfortably without being too hot. Julian wasn’t feeling well and so we took them back to their apartment, instead of going out for supper. We had supper at the piano bar in our hotel and enjoyed it very much.
Lunch at Kirstenbosch

Lunch at Kirstenbosch

Walking the gardens

Walking the gardens

One of the many lovely flowers

One of the many lovely flowers


Don with an amazing Aloe Tree

Don with an amazing Aloe Tree

Don inspecting the Wild Almond Tree

Don inspecting the Wild Almond Tree


An Orange Breasted Sunbird in the garden

An Orange Breasted Sunbird in the garden


Supper in the Piano Bar

Supper in the Piano Bar

Posted by katdill 21:48 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Oudtshoorn

March 3 & 4

sunny 30 °C

We left Plettenberg Bay and drove south along the coast. We stopped for a look around in Knysna and visited the Knysna Heads, which are the two headlands which bracket the channel to the harbour from the sea. Very spectacular scenery!
The view from the lookout on Knysna Heads

The view from the lookout on Knysna Heads


We wanted to find a park or reserve to have our picnic lunch. When we asked at the information booth, she suggested a drive out of town to a reserve. Well, we went down “Phantom Pass” road, which started out paved, then gravel, then pretty much a one lane logging road over the pass. Luckily it wasn’t too long and we rejoined a paved road. We finally gave up on going to the reserve after not finding any convenient picnic areas and ended up finding some shaded picnic tables outside a little country store full of antiques, called Totties Farm Kitchen.
Inside the entrance to Totties

Inside the entrance to Totties


It was close to local cricket field where a match was going on. We also had some little boys begging for food from us as they watched us eat - made me very uncomfortable. I gave them a package of rice crackers I had bought that I didn’t particularly like. Later, I saw an older boy sharing some treat or food with them. I think they weren’t as hungry as they acted and were practicing begging on us.
The cricket players on the green

The cricket players on the green


The area from Plettenberg Bay towards Cape Town is called the Garden Route and is quite scenic with lots of hills and valleys.
The beach at Wilderness

The beach at Wilderness


We puttered along stopping at beautiful beaches or scenic views finally arriving at our accommodation in Outdshroon about 4:00. It is on out of way city filled with beautiful Victorian buildings. Our B& B is a heritage house that is associated with the Dutch Reform Church across the street. The pastor’s wife runs the B&B and some of the money goes back to the church.
Our heritage house B&B

Our heritage house B&B


Another beautiful house down the street

Another beautiful house down the street


We did some food shopping and then sat on the balcony in the shade, drinking beer, and using the WIFI. While we were shopping I discovered that at least some of the shops here keep quite reasonable hours.
Posted hours in a shop window

Posted hours in a shop window


It was nice to be able to walk to a restaurant for a change but had to try four different places before we found one that wasn’t fully reserved for Saturday night out. We ended up at the Black Swan Restaurant and had a lovely meal.
Sunday morning after breakfast, we drove to the Cango Caves for the 10:00 tour. The tour only takes an hour, but it was interesting. The caves aren’t as spectacular as the caves in Vietnam, but they are easy to see as they have walkways and steps built to make it as safe as possible.
Cleopatra’s Needle

Cleopatra’s Needle

Don in the cave

Don in the cave


We then took a circle route over the Swartberg Pass to a town called Prince Albert. This road was terrible, steep, winding, gullys eroded into it, narrow. Yikes! Some spots were so narrow that when we met traffic it was stop and let them go by. Once we got to the top, the road going down on the other side was better, but still very steep.
These are the mountains we crossed

These are the mountains we crossed

Part of the road on the way

Part of the road on the way

Another view

Another view


Sign at a viewpoint on the way up

Sign at a viewpoint on the way up

Rocky rough country

Rocky rough country


We had lunch in Prince Albert, using the picnic tables in front of a closed Biltong shop.
Cute little place demonstrating typical Cape Dutch style

Cute little place demonstrating typical Cape Dutch style


We continued the circle route past Meiringspoort waterfall. This is a lovely canyon with wonderful red rock. Don climbed up the path to see the waterfall, but I chickened out and stayed in the car. It is so dry here that the waterfall didn’t have a lot of water going over, but people were swimming in the pool below. The waterfall is 60 metres high.
The waterfall reflected in the pool below

The waterfall reflected in the pool below


Then back to our place, through long stretches of road construction, to have a shower and get ready to go out for supper. Our hostess had made a reservation for us at Buffelsdrift Game Lodge which is 5 km out of town. We had a drink and supper out on the balcony overlooking their waterhole. There were 3 hippos in the water and as the sun went down, they came out and went off for their nightly foraging. Lovely spot and excellent food.
Three hippos on their way for supper

Three hippos on their way for supper

Posted by katdill 06:44 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

On to Plettenberg Bay

March 1 & 2

semi-overcast

We left Port Elizabeth and drove along the coast road for a little way. We saw a water monitor crossing the road - you just never know what you will see on the road - cattle, goats, sheep, turtles, etc.
We stopped in Jefferies Bay for a coffee break. We sat outside with a view of the beach at a little cafe called Tasty Table.
Water monitor crossing the road

Water monitor crossing the road


Then on to Tsitsikamma National Park, where we stopped by the bridge over a deep canyon and had our picnic lunch. We did a short hike in to see the Big Tree, just to add to our collection of big trees. This tree is approximately 1000 years old and 36 meters high. There were other big trees, some live and some dead, around it in a very nice native forest. We were going to go for another hike in the park down by the water, just a short one, but when we saw how much it cost to go in the park, we decided not to do it and instead we did a free one. The girl at the information booth had told me this trail, Goesa Walk, was a pretty level walk. Well, she was wrong - it was climb down to the little stream at the bottom, walk along the stream, and then climb back up out of the valley. But it was a beautiful walk through native forest.
The Storms River gorge from the bridge

The Storms River gorge from the bridge

Don with the Big Tree - sure is hard to get a good picture of such a big tree

Don with the Big Tree - sure is hard to get a good picture of such a big tree

Some of the lovely wild flowers

Some of the lovely wild flowers

Fynbos (or fine bush) alongside the road

Fynbos (or fine bush) alongside the road


Interesting plants

Interesting plants

And fungi pictures for me!

And fungi pictures for me!


It was then time to go on to Plettenberg Bay to find our accommodation. We had some difficulty with this and I had to enlist the help of a local woman to assist us in calling the owner. (My phone was out of airtime!) But we got settled in and it is in a lovely house. The host doesn’t live here and there are some other people staying upstairs. I even got to use the washing machine and dryer! We went over to The Fat Fish for supper. This restaurant I had read about in a blog and it was very good. They were very busy and as our host told us, most restaurants here have lots of outdoor eating space, but not so much indoor. It was looking like it would rain and was quite windy, so they were all reserved indoors. However, they did find us a table if we could be done by 7:30. No problem, the service was quick and we didn’t even feel like we had to eat and run.
The front of our room

The front of our room

Our room

Our room


It did rain during the night, but neither one of us heard a thing. This morning we went over to the Robberg Nature Reserve, which is very close to where we are staying. We did a hike out on the rocky promontory which should have taken us 2 hours. It took almost 3 - I’m pretty pokey at climbing rocky trails up and down! We saw, heard, and smelled the seal colony that lives out there. So many beautiful plants and views of the ocean. There are several large caves which they say were lived in from 4000 to 3000 years ago. We couldn’t go in the caves, but they were impressive. We were lucky it was a cloudy, rainy morning. Doing that hike on a sunny day must be very difficult!
A view of the beach from the trail

A view of the beach from the trail


Looking along the side of the promontory

Looking along the side of the promontory

Looking across the gap to the beach on the other side

Looking across the gap to the beach on the other side

The blackened roof of the cave

The blackened roof of the cave


Coming down the sandy trail from one side to the other

Coming down the sandy trail from one side to the other


Climbing back up on the return trip

Climbing back up on the return trip


For lunch we went to a small restaurant fairly close to our place, Off the Hook. Then we came back and rested for awhile. We both found the steps up and down on the trail were hard on our joints.
In the later afternoon we visited a boardwalk near us in hopes of finding some birds. There were a few there but they were not very cooperative about getting their pictures taken. We visited Sanctuary Beach and got to see some dolphins playing in the surf. They would catch a wave and ride it a little ways. Then we went to the main beach which is close to Fat Fish. Don had a walk down the beach and I sat in the shade and watched the action. We had another great meal at Fat Fish, out on the patio this time as it was much nicer weather.
More lovely wildflowers

More lovely wildflowers

I’d love to have a specimen like this growing in our yard

I’d love to have a specimen like this growing in our yard

A view of Sanctuary Beach

A view of Sanctuary Beach

Sand sculptures done by a local trying to earn his living

Sand sculptures done by a local trying to earn his living

Posted by katdill 10:54 Archived in South Africa Comments (1)

Addo Elephant National Park

February 28

semi-overcast 25 °C

We got up at 5:30 am so we could be at the park gate when it opened at 7:00. We got there 15 minutes early and had to wait for the park to open. We had a great day driving some of the 120 km of roads they have in the park. We didn’t see either of the big cats, lion and leopard, but we saw lots of kudu, elephants (tons of elephants), some eland (which we haven’t seen before) and even meercat and yellow mongoose. They gave us a map of the park which has photos of 40 of the birds and animals you can expect to see in the park. By the time we were done the day, we had seen 22 of the 40. We had some confrontations on the road with buffalo, which you have to be very careful with. At the slightest thing, they can decide to charge you - very temperamental and dangerous. We also had the elephants demonstrate that they own the roads a few time. Such fun having an elephant traffic jam!
The park buildings at the gate

The park buildings at the gate

A large herd of buffalo watching the road

A large herd of buffalo watching the road

A large leopard tortoise beside the road

A large leopard tortoise beside the road

One of the many warthogs, such a handsome fella!

One of the many warthogs, such a handsome fella!


Part of a herd of elephants - so many elephants!

Part of a herd of elephants - so many elephants!

Elephant jam, gives a good idea of how big they are!

Elephant jam, gives a good idea of how big they are!


We ate our picnic lunch sitting in the car at a waterhole. So we could eat and watch the warthogs, zebra, and kudu around the waterhole. There are lots of warthogs in this park.

We were told about the flightless dung beetles that they have in this park. They are endangered and we were warned to avoid driving over the elephant dung on the road or the beetles so we wouldn’t kill any. We saw lots and lots of them on the road and Don was often dodging around the beetle on the road.
Dung beetle warning sign

Dung beetle warning sign

Dung beetles with the ball of dung that she lays one egg in

Dung beetles with the ball of dung that she lays one egg in

Warning sign at a viewpoint. It is always “Leave vehicle at your own risk” while in the park.

Warning sign at a viewpoint. It is always “Leave vehicle at your own risk” while in the park.


We worked our way up to the main gate and camp, where we could get out and have some ice cream. We visited the interpretative centre and the blind they have set up there. Then it was time to start working our way back thru the park so we could leave by the gate we came in - which we only did because it meant we spent more time in the park. And on our way back was when we saw a herd of eland and we got a good picture of the mongoose.
Meerkat

Meerkat

Yellow Mongoose

Yellow Mongoose

Eland

Eland

White Stork

White Stork

Lovely scenery

Lovely scenery

Posted by katdill 20:39 Archived in South Africa Comments (1)

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