An open-ended adventure by Brian
  • Day17

    Jo berg

    March 25, 2019 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    We arrived in Jo Berg after a relatively short flight ( it took longer to clear immigration than to fly here). Our car was waiting for us to bring us to the Fairlawns Hotel. It’s a very nice boutique hotel, and at one time, must have been a very grand house. The hotel boasts beautifully landscaped, extensive grounds. You wouldn’t think you were in a built up area at all. Our room is enormous - one of the largest was have seen anywhere, and overlooks a picturesque courtyard.

    As our flight home is not until late in the day, we will just have to sit by the pool and enjoy some more leisure, before returning to reality.
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    Joanna Gomez

    These are just amazing photos. I hope you have REALLY enjoyed the whole experience. Personally, I think you have to bring your Travel Agent with you next time :-)

  • Day16

    White pearl 2

    March 24, 2019 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    We spent a very relaxing four days at the resort. We did not do a lot apart from the occasional walk on the beach, eating lots of very nice food and of course drinking some nice wines. Brian did sample a couple of the local beers which were very welcome as we reclined on the beach loungers ( Brian said he only had the beers because our butler had tramped across the beach to see if we needed anything and he did not want to disappoint her!). All in all a very satisfactory stay, we would certainly recommend the hotel.

    Our sojourn finally came to an end and we set off on the drive to Maputo to catch our flight to Jo Berg. The first 45 minutes was over a very rough, sandy, potholed track which is barely passable. After that we had a smooth ride to Maputo. From a distance it looks like a very modern city with high-rise towers of offices and apartments. However, as you pass through the city to the airport, you see the very poor housing, streetside markets and open sided shops much like you would see in India. Fortunately the airport is quite modern and efficient.
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  • Day13

    White Pearl

    March 21, 2019 in Mozambique ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    To conclude our trip we thought that we would need a holiday to recover from our exertions, so we selected four days at this resort. It has 22 separate bungalows but at present has only 10 guests. Because we are staying for 4 nights we get various goodies thrown in, along with the free drink, tours, and massages. We also get a butler by the name of Olivia ( actually a butlerette) . She is on hand to serve all our meals, drinks etc. As soon as we settle anywhere she appears to offer drinks, food etc- we believe that she thinks that Anne is not eating enough because every time she chooses a light meal, we get the raised eyebrows and are asked “is that all!”

    Today we went on an ocean safari. We set off in a RIB to hunt for dolphins to play with. We were given a half hour long, stern lecture, on how to behave around the dolphins, but in the end, we only found two who were busy feeding and not at all interested in playing today. We continued on, and Brian snorkelled around the reef to see the many varieties of fish. Anne stayed safely on the RIB, doing what comes naturally to her - chatting with the skipper and of course keeping a sharp eye out for sharks!

    After that adventure it was 10:30 - time for the first beer of the day. From there we progressed to a lounger for a while then a gentle beach walk before a delicious lunch and a bottle of wine, then an afternoon siesta. It’s all so exhausting!!

    The resort is wonderful . There are endless empty beaches, lots of places to lounge, great food and very friendly staff.
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  • Day12

    Rhino lodge 2

    March 20, 2019 in Mozambique ⋅ 🌙 25 °C

    We concluded our time at Rhino Ridge with a couple more game drives and of course a lot more food. Some more pictures are attached.

    Today we moved on and after a four hour drive arrived at the border with Mozambique. After about half an hour, we completed the formalities of buying a visa and headed to White Pearl - a beautiful beach resort about 11 kms over the border. It took an hour to complete that distance. The first few minutes, we drove on a beautifully paved road and then we were on a sandy trail. However, the journey was well worth it as it is a wonderful spot on an empty beach- more tomorrow!Read more

  • Day10

    Makakatana lodge

    March 18, 2019 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    We stayed three nights here. It was billed as a wetland area park so we were looking forward to seeing some good wetland birds etc. Overall it’s been a bit disappointing. On the good side of the ledger, we did have our own personal guide for the whole of our stay, so we had an entire truck to ourselves. The guide was named Hans and had just finished his training and this was his first real paying job. He is 23 yrs old and because he looks like a young Leonardo Di Caprio, Anne could forgive him anything! The rest of the lodge staff we also quite young, but despite being helpful and friendly, they were poorly organised, which made for an uneven level of service. The accommodations are comfortable but basic. All the basic requirements of a lodge are here but somehow it just doesn’t click together. The lodge is in a state owned wild life park, There are no predators here and the animals are fairly sparse. Possibly this is due to part of the area being given over to forestry which gives the animals a good place to hang out away from the public gaze. We were also unfortunate in that the wetland part of the park is an estuary which used to be salt water but has become blocked from the sea, so is now turning into fresh water. At the time of our visit due to heavy rains inland, the lake has risen by over one and a half metres and the water was very muddy. This has driven the water birds away and allowed the hippos to hide in the reeds while still being in the water. It was also egg laying time for the crocs so they were all away on dry land laying their eggs!

    Despite these challenges we did spend a pleasant couple of days chugging around the lake with a sprightly eighty year old who seems to know each hippo by name and could tell us which ones has just given birth etc. We also visited the private beach which was very pleasant but was very open and not a place for any swimming or snorkelling. It was also accessed via a very steep soft sand slope about 50 ft high. Going down was ok - you just had to slide down, but coming back was quite a struggle to climb - the only way to do it was on your hands and knees (not the most elegant look!) but the end result was a lovely picnic lunch served by our lovely “Leonardo”, sitting in the shade with a gin and tonic.

    During our game drives, we did see quite a few animals - antelope of different types were fairly common as were zebras.. There were a few giraffe, a solitary elephant and a variety of birds. As there are no predators in the park, the animals eventually die of old age.
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  • Day10

    Rhino Ridge

    March 18, 2019 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    We were picked up at our lodge and driven to our next destination, Rhino Ridge. The first part of the drive was very quick - then we entered the park! It took another hour to reach the lodge via a succession of rutted and washed out tracks, I was certainly glad that I was not driving! Nothing less than a sturdy four wheel drive vehicle would have made it - having said that, a German couple we talked to, drove themselves there in a Toyota Yaris! Dread to think what would have happened if they had found themselves in the middle of a herd of elephants or rhinos!

    The lodge is wonderful and sits on the edge of a ridge with great views looking across the park which is huge. You can see the animals moving around in the valleys below us. The rooms are all set up to make the most of the views and are extremely comfortable. Meals are all delicious, so we are continuing to work on expanding our waistlines further! All the staff are Zulus - apparently the park used to be the personal hunting reserve of Shaka the king of the Zulus. All are extremely nice, always smiling and once you have introduced yourself, they remember your name - amazing gift when you think how many people they must meet.

    We have done the usual morning and evening game drives and have seen lots of rhinos ( not all of them of a friendly disposition) and many elephants. Last evening as we were returning to the lodge almost in the dark we suddenly found ourselves right behind a herd, with a number of babies. That was OK till we realised that we had passed part of the herd already who were in the bush off the road. Consequently we were between some of the elephants and the babies- not exactly position A! Anyway we had a few minutes of squeaky bum time before they all passed by after giving us some dirty looks.

    The lodge does offer as an extra, a walking safari, where instead of getting up close and personal with these beasts in a nice big armoured truck, you attempt to do it without any protection on foot - needless to say the option was declined. As far as I could see, all the guides could run faster than us!
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  • Day7

    Fugitives drift 2

    March 15, 2019 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    I think I understated our visit to Roarks Drift. The telling of the narrative took two hours and the battle was described in great detail as the drama shifted from room to room in the burning hospital. It was very vivid and real as the main buildings are still standing on the exact site that they were on the day of the battle.

    The next day we went off to the site of the Battle of Isandlwana where the Zulus won a major victory - since the British were armed with breach loading rifles and the Zulus had only spears, it was quite an accomplishment. The telling of the battle took about 4 hours as we moved from point to point around the site. The telling became quite emotional especially as our guide is a Zulu whose grandfather and great grandfather had both fought in the battle. We were also able to follow the path taken by the few Brits who managed to escape as they tried to cross the river at Fugitives Drift which is where we are staying. It’s a little difficult to fully appreciate the battle as today the place is covered in short grass and bushes,whereas at the time of the battle, the entire place was covered with elephant grass which was 6 ft high - it would have been extremely difficult to see your enemy at any great distance. It was a well worthwhile experience ( at least for Brian, Anne was seen to ‘ rest her eyes’ on occasion). In the pictures, the white cairns mark where the remains of the soldiers lie. It was a couple of months after the battle before the Brits could revisit the site, so all that remained were mere skeletons making the task of identifying the soldiers impossible.

    The memorial for the Zulus was very interesting. It is in the shape of a necklace and each section represents the different battalions who fought in the battle. The shape also shows the fighting formation of the Zulus, where the centre represents the head of a buffalo and the flanks represent the horns which try to encircle the foe. In the case of this battle the right horn did not close but turned away instead.

    The circular huts that you see in the pics are interesting. No one lives in these apparently - they are built for the spirits of the dead to live in.

    Our visit here has been very pleasant. The lodge is very comfortable and the staff could not be more helpful or cheerful.

    We leave here today to continue on to a wetland area to another lodge and more wildlife.
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  • Day5

    Fugitives drift

    March 13, 2019 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    We concluded our visit to Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse with another nice walk in the hills, then another fine dinner. By this time all our clothes had strangely shrunk and become a little tighter than before.

    We checked out in the morning and set off on a three and a half hour car trip to our next destination. Our driver was quite efficient but paid little heed to the numerous bumps and potholes on the road. We arrived somewhat shaken but not stirred just in time for lunch - just what we needed - more food!

    Our bungalow here is very nice with great views across the countryside. It’s all part of a game reserve, so antelope and zebras abound.
    In the afternoon we went off to Roark’s Drift where our guide took us through the battle step by step. It was very well done and he painted very realistic word pictures of the battle as it progressed. Well worthwhile a visit.
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    Joanna Gomez

    What a room!!!

  • Day5

    Cleopatra Farmhouse

    March 13, 2019 in South Africa ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    We gamely ate our way through our second 6 course dinner last night. The number of guests here has gradually dwindled, the first evening it was 16 for dinner, last night it was 6 and this evening I think we are down to 4 guests with a new couple arriving today. In the meantime we are the only guests and as soon as we sit down anywhere we are immediately asked if we would like anything by one of the many staff and family who are here, very much in the lap of luxury!
    This morning the weather outlook was not very promising with thunder showers forecast for the middle of the day. Immediately after breakfast we were driven about 15 min to highmoor state park. Due to the weather outlook our driver waited for us while we went for a modest hike. It’s very nice up there with wide vistas all around of cliffs and rolling moors. We spent about an hour walking up there before some threatening clouds forced us to return to our vehicle. Our timing was perfect as we had no sooner returned to the farmhouse when the rain started in earnest. There was nothing else to do but sit in our comfortable armchairs by the fire and enjoy a nice cup of coffee.
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