by Ted Klenk
I searched the web for extra information before I left on my trip, I wanted to
add a bit more for anyone that is also looking for some extra information.
One discovery was that South Africans are using the web extensively to
advertise their businesses and excellent deals can be one via email or even a
quick phone call to the hotel or place of interest.
picked US summer (South African winter) to travel. Thinking that we could beat
“High Season” fares that we always get over Christmas, we were unhappy to
find out that “High Season” was kicked back to June 1st.
first stop was Cape Town,
about which there is plenty of information on the web but not too many good maps
to download if you decide to rent a car. On
that note, rent the car for a week at a time to ensure the best deal…just like
in the USA. I actually worked out
the price on the web and then called Budget (I was familiar with their location
in Cape Town Airport) in the US and organized a car from home. Keep in mind when
booking a car that if you are traveling with a load of luggage, you will want a
car large enough to keep everything in the trunk (boot) as not to have to worry
about it sitting out on the seats while you are walking around the top of Table
Mountain etc. Just like most
places, if you leave things visible, they will most likely be gone when you
are many things to see and do in Cape Town.
Make sure you have enough time to do it all or you will have to return
again (not a bad idea really!)
even if you’ve done it before..get there early to miss out on the crowds but
if you are not in a hurry, anytime is good.
Be aware that the weather can close everything down. I made this priority number 1, working out that we would try
every morning until we got up. We
got up on the 2nd day.
Island was a unique trip. A
boat ride out of Cape Town Harbor and a bus tour around the island complete with
a walk through the prison. The tour
guides are former prisoners that were on the island and really tell the stories
from their hearts.
spent some time in picturesque Hout
Bay, taking the boat out to Seal
Island to see the seals, and of course the big wave surfing site called
Dungeons (not the advertised goal of the trip). Be sure to check the times
because they only sail up until noon.
backside of Table Mountains is Kirstenbosch
National Botanical Garden. With their new hothouse, they have a great
collection of Southern African plants…it’s a plant lovers paradise.
course what would a visit to the Cape be without a tour of the wine
farms? Check the link for your
what about the place where “the Two Oceans Meet”, Cape Point, part of the Cape
Peninsula National Park. It’s
a great drive, great views and a nice place to eat at the Point.
On the drive to the point, there is a choice of which way to drive.
Either way is great, so go out there on one route and return on another.
on your time in Cape Town, you probably can squeeze most of this in over 3 or 4
days. Because of our hotel’s (Breakwater
Lodge) central location near the V
& A Waterfront, we were able to walk to this great complex to shop and
eat every night!
this sightseeing and touring, plenty of walking was done so this lead us to all
of the fine places to eat without feeling guilty!
While South Africa is a meat lover’s paradise, Cape Town has great
seafood and we tried to stick to this menu.
Town Fish Market in the waterfront and On
the Rocks in Bloubergstrand,
of the places we tried. And though
many vacations may not include mall shopping, you must check out Canal
Walk…390 stores with a theme park next to it and all a few minutes drive
from downtown Cape Town.
Cape is very set up for tourism, service is good, the curios are widely
available wherever there are attractions so shop around for prices.
covers my 3 ½ days in Cape Town. It
helps to know the area so for the first timer, you probably will need more time
to see it all and of course, I need an excuse to go back again in a few years.
the Cape, we drove up the coast to Knsyna.
During the day the drive can be
quite scenic, but we left very early and chugged through the worst mist I’ve
ever driven in. Once we checked
into the quaint Yellowwood Lodge,
we drove down to the Quay-the waterfront shops that Knysna boosts.
Once again, we were within an easy walk to the downtown section of Knysna.
This area is what bought us back here after only driving through a few
years ago. But that is not the main
attraction. The center of the Garden
Route with the lagoon, lakes, Knsyna
Heads, the town of George, the
Wilderness and its beautiful beaches, and a drive through the forest, could hold
you here much longer than our 2 days. If
you have the time (we did not), the Featherbed
Nature reserve could be a nice trip (or eco-experience) as well. Ferry rides
start from the quay and there are all kinds of trips available.
there wasn’t as much foot traffic as in Cape Town, we continued our restaurant
experiences and found a great spot right at the heads called Paquitas…check
the photos on the web site, if location means anything, they have it!
brochures list many places to stay,
and most have web sites.
Knysna very early in the morning so never saw the Plettenberg
Bay area..another area to explore (another time).
We watched the sunrise at Storms
River Bridge over coffee and then continued east until Cape
St Francis, an area I hadn’t visited since they built a tar road to it.
Though the old 29km corrugated dirt road had its own flavor (dirt
mainly), I didn’t seem to miss it at all and quite relaxed on the drive only
to be shocked at all the development since I last visited. The web shows a
number of cottages to stay in if you wanted to relax, surf, fish but we were on
the move and after a quick breakfast in Jeffreys
Bay, and a visit to its surfing outlet stores, we headed up the coast to East
London for a few days.
London is often bypassed by tourists traveling to Durban because it might
not have the tourist attractions the other cities might boast.
I first visited there in 1974 and stayed over a few extra days, well
actually 12 years, so I guess there must be something about this place.
are some great places to eat, shop, surf, fish, and whatever you want to do to
East London, we drove north through the Transkei to Port
Edward, and on past Durban only stopping to check out another big mall, Gateway
which is said to be the largest mall in the Southern Hemisphere (see “how
husbands earn points”).
When we finally escaped the mall, it was back to the N2 (highway) through
Zululand for another few hours until
we reached the turnoff for Hluhluwe
Umfolozi Game Park. (Hluhluwe
"Shoushlooee" is close enough). The park covers 96 000 hectares, and comprises three reserves: Hluhluwe,
Umfolozi - two of Africa's oldest game reserves, both founded in 1895 - and
the linking Corridor Reserve, proclaimed in 1989. To
Hluhluwe Umfolozi is home to 1,600 white
rhino and 370 black rhino - an impressive number which means you are
very likely to see one or both species. It also contains the rest of the Big
Five; buffalo, elephant, lion and leopard, as well as many other species
including blue wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, waterbuck, nyala, kudu,
bushbuck, warthog, cheetah, hyena and jackal plus about 24,000 impala.”
I couldn’t have written it any better.
We spent 2 days driving around the park and still did not complete the
southern half. The underlined animals above were what we saw and while
the “Cats” were spotted on these days, we missed them (another reason to go
back). We even saw the 1 pack of
wild dogs twice! The accommodations
were great (in the park—Hilltop) and the town of Hluhluwe is about 15 km
from the northern entrance to the park if you require supplies.
After Hluhluwe, we headed northeast
towards the Jozini Dam and the private Pongola
Game Reserve (South Africa’s Best Kept Secret). We stayed at the exquisite Inyati
Lodge, “set on a
hillside overlooking the Pongola River”.
We looked down into the river on a ?herd? of hippos, and the riverbank
covered with crocodiles. Animals
came right up to the lodge at night and we took photos of some during the day
about 20 yards below the lodge. This area caters to all types of requests, game
watch, fishing, boat tours and we even went Elephanting across the river at another reserve, White
Elephant. What a great
experience! And if you like to
fish, the dam, a massive body of water 30km long and up to 8km wide, has tiger
fish. (check these
pictures). There is also a houseboat
that caters for fishing called the Shayamanzi.
After dragging me from this reserve, we traveled inland through
Vryheid and Dundee, stopping at the Blood
River Monument. The “other
side of the story” or the Zulu side across the river opened
in 1998 and gave an eye opening perspective to Zulu life and their ideas on
the battle that took place here. If
you visit there, you have to visit both sides…the Zulu side was free.
We ended our tour with a few days of ‘recovery’ at Mazeppa
Bay on the Wild Coast. This was
a great experience both from the beautiful
views of the land & seascapes and the great culinary experiences
provided by our hosts.
So, what is next? Well, we missed the Drakensburg Mountains. I guess I better go back to see them, and I wanted to see some of the inland areas from Cape Town north, but the mist was so bad on the drive up (early morning in the winter), I stuck to the roads I knew rather than go another way. There are so many new things to do there now and I am sure that by the time I return, there will be even more. Whale watching, diving with great whites, some of the best surfing in the world can all add to a vacation experience. As I edit my 12 hours of video, 1200 digital photos (now 2300 after video capturing and scanning the 35mm’s) and scan in the 12 rolls of 35mm film, I actually watch the photos zoom by on the computer screen over and over and can’t wait to go back.