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South Africa

Curious what backpackers do in South Africa? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • So we finally arrived in the mother city after which was probably the most gruelling flight I've ever experienced. To keep it short, I had terrible after effects of some bad Japanese the night before and spent the whole plane ride running to the bathroom and getting no sleep at all.

    The connection in Jozi was a mad rush with everyone scattering around getting their bags re-checked. The plane ride to Cape Town was actually good and I snuck in an hour or so of sleep.

    Arriving in Cape Town, we picked up our rental car for the week, checked into our Airbnb in De Waterkant and took an afternoon nap. After the nap we decided to walk to the V & A waterfront, do some shopping and get some dinner which I desperately needed in my depleted state. The fresh South African air with the natural beauty of Cape Town already started rubbing off on me and I started feeling better and more energised. And lo and behold, there we run into Albert and Heidi as well while having dinner!

    All in all, great to be back in the land of milk and honey!

    - Chris
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  • After watching a spectacular sunrise over Table Mountain while having a coffee, it was off to the cable cars. The ride up was mesmerising, with the views from the top even better! The weather was perfect and we were able to see all the way to Cape Point and the Stellenbosch mountains. Interesting fact, it is believed by geologists that Table Mountain is probably the oldest mountain on earth, being 6 times older than the Himalayas.

    After that we went for a nice brekkie at Knead on Kloof Street. We decided to make a trip around Chapman's Peak and headed over to Boulders Beach to see the world famous penguin site. It was about this time that Laura started feeling a little queasy as well. We got a couple of photographs and decided to head back home to relax a bit for the afternoon. On the way back Laura started getting really sick and it seemed like she now had exactly what I had a day before. The ride back wasn't pleasant for her to say the least, and we ended up cancelling our fine dining dinner plans in favour of just staying in and recuperating from the jet lag and now officially stomach bugs for both of us.

    Hopefully tomorrow we will both be energetic enough to go for our much anticipated run along the promenade.

    - Chris
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  • After a few days out of commission, I'm writing a big catch up on everything that we've done so far. Other than the mystery illness that got both of us, the trip has been busy and full of fun!
    I never would have thought I'd have taken so many pictures of rocks, but they really are that beautiful! The view from the top of table mountain was out of this world, including seeing the spot where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet.
    I was so happy that we got to see the penguins at Boulders Beach on Friday that I tried to convince myself I wasn't feeling as bad as I was (spoiler alert: it didn't help). Even feeling so terrible, it was awesome seeing the funny little penguins swimming, playing, and sunning themselves on the beach. I think I'd fit in nicely there...except for the smell 😷
    Saturday was spent recuperating by the pool, baking in the sun, and I will admit, I started to feel a lot better after a dip in the pool.
    Saturday evening was the first stop on our family tour, meeting Christiaan's Tannie (Aunt) Lennie, Oom (Uncle) Hermie, all the cousins and their kids for a braai. Considering I hadn't eaten in about 36 hours at that point, the food was amazing, and it was great to meet one part of the extended family. Sunday morning the tour continued with a drive through the amazing wine lands to Stellenbosch to meet more cousins (and their very cute dogs), and our final stop on the family tour was to see Tannie Christa, so it was great to finally meet everyone I've been hearing about for so long!
    The rest of Sunday was spent continuing our Cape Town > Port Elizabeth drive, with our overnight half-way stop at the Garden Route Game lodge something I'd really been looking forward to!
    Our safari rides Sunday evening and Monday morning were amazing, we saw elephants, lions, cheetah, rhino, giraffe, and tons of antelope.
    Continuing the long drive to Port Elizabeth, with a stop for lunch in Knysna, and now on to see Ma en Pa Ferreira!

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  • After our epic road trip from Cape Town through the Western Cape and onto the Garden Route, we finally reached Port Elizabeth. It's always great to see family, and seeing Ma en Pa Ferreira was wonderful! We've spent quiet 2 days now with me relaxing by the pool, getting a bit too much sun, and working my way through a few mystery novels, while Christiaan finds projects to fix around the house. So far he hasn't found something he can't fix, including the wiring of the gate lock that opens with a code. (Pretty impressive, since I thought I married a CA, but apparently also got an electrician!)
    Since I'm as good as a little kid, not being able to drive a manual car, Christiaan gave me some driving lessons today. I feel like the main takeaway was, when in doubt, just use the clutch. I got through the whole thing without stalling! But driving around a flat parking lot, I'm not sure my skills were really put to the test.
    Tomorrow we visit some friends near Jeffreys Bay and head off to the farm for the night, before the wedding festivities begin in Graaf-Reinet!
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  • On Thursday afternoon we headed over to the Abbott's farm to see Johannes, Lize, and their girls Emma and Mia. It's always nice to catch up with friends on our trips back to SA, so we're glad we made time to visit, even on such a busy trip.
    After leaving the Abbotts, we headed out to the farm for the night, passing the first of what will probably be many signs pointing the way towards our final destination, Graaff-Reinet!
    The Farm proved to be the best possible place for some more driving lessons, and I managed to only stall the car about 10 times 😳 But my driving instructor had me doing lots of difficult maneuvers like pulling away on an uphill, reversing up a hill, and driving straight from a stop. My first lesson was when in doubt use the clutch. My second lesson is when in doubt make sure you're in first gear (stalled 3 or 4 times that way).
    Some Biltong and avocado toebroodtjies (sandwiches) for lunch, and we're on the road to Graaff-Reinet! Next stop the Murray wedding! 👰🏼👦🏼💍🍾🎉

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  • We arrived in Graaff-Reinet where we are staying in Anthonij Rupert's hotel for the weekend. For those of you that don't know, the Rupert family is one of the most successful and wealthy families in South Africa. The hotel is amazing with beautiful pools and Cape Dutch style architecture.

    The Friday evening after arriving we went to Mark and Dorrette's rehearsal dinner which included a braai (lamb and boerewors) the traditional South African way. It was great catching up with all our friends over some Castle Lites, Savannahs and wine.

    Today it was all about getting up early, having breakfast at 6:30 and leaving for our hike in the Valley of Desolation before it started getting too hot. The weather forecast for today is 43 degrees, so it's going to be a scorcher! The views from the National Park were breathtaking! It's mind blowing how the rock formations and cliffs were formed by nature millions of years ago and it's living proof of the great powers of God. While on the hike we also stumbled upon baboons, monkeys and the ultimate highlight, two beautiful Kudu bulls.

    Heading back to the hotel now for some chilling by the pool before we start getting ready for the wedding.

    - Chris
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  • Arriving in Graaff-Reiner was like driving into the middle of the desert. The sky was bright blue and cloudless, and the landscape was barren and very arid. We enjoyed the pool at our hotel, and baked in the dry heat, with humidity levels under 10%, it was unlike any weather I'd experienced before.
    Friday night we found ourselves surrounded by friends at Mark & Dorette's wedding rehearsal dinner. We enjoyed some Karoo lamb and shared our plans to manage the expected heatwave Saturday.
    Saturday morning we were up at 6am, which was still an hour after sunrise, and headed up to the Valley of Desolation to enjoy the amazing views before it got too hot. The landscape was breathtaking, and at ~1,500 meters above sea level, you could look down to see the birds flying below our lookout point. I enjoyed all the views except the one of Christiaan perched on the edge of the rocks. I told him next time I'm taking out life insurance on him before a photo op like that again!
    After relaxing by the pool in the early afternoon heat, and a relaxed lunch at a local restaurant, Polka, it was time for the wedding! My first Afrikaans wedding, and the pastor was nice enough to give us an English summary every few minutes. Mark & Dorette both looked so happy and in love, they didn't stop smiling the whole night! From the church we headed to the reception for dinner, dancing, and lots of (Afrikaans) speeches. The after-party kept us out until 4:30am, so we finally turned in just as the sun was coming up. A wonderful day celebrating two of our favorite people!

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  • We were supposed to be arriving at our apartment in NYC at this moment but instead our flight from PE to Joburg yesterday was delayed and we ended up missing our flight to NYC. Coming in to Joburg we had terrible lightning and turbulence, the pilot circled for about 20 minutes and at times it felt like we were never going to get this plane on the ground.

    After sorting out the mess with SAA, we decided that we should just make the most of the situation and get a hotel in Sandton and do some touristy things during the next day before we leave for the airport. We had a yummy breakfast at Tasha's in Mandela Square, took a selfie in front of Madiba and went to the Joburg Zoo afterwards. It was a nice experience, seeing some monkeys from Madagascar, tigers and other exotic animals. I have to say the zoo is kind of run down, with little upkeep and effort being made to make it a tourist attraction. It's a pity that so many Government run institutions are falling into neglect in our current system.

    Let's hope all goes well with our final flight tonight.

    - Chris
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  • We made it to Cape Town! Check out the view from our airbnb; pretty awesome, hey? Our plans are starting to come together for the week. We will miss Nick's mom and Scott who unfortunately had to cancel their plans to join us here, but we are going to make the most of the week by doing tourist activities and visiting Rachel's friends and former host family.

  • Day #3. When you realize you can't possibly have all the fun you want to have in a place the natural thing is to just get out of town and see if you can find something else to take your mind off of all you are missing. :-) So it was with the last day of our stay in Cape Town. We took a trip to the Cape of Good Hope (in the background of Nancy's picture below) and while down there we stopped and saw a penguin colony, one of the most beautiful botanical gardens we have ever seen and lovely little coastal towns that dot the coast along the entire Atlantic seaboard until the mountains finally just could not allow any more development. We got home just in time to check out of the country and grab a drink (or three) and watch the captain maneuver us out of the little port.
    It was truly a remarkable experience and before the trip if you would have told me that the one city, more then any other, that I would want to come back to for a longer visit would be Cape Town, South Africa I would have laughed at you. But funny things happen when you travel around the world and you realize that many of your preconceived notions are just plain wrong. It is what makes traveling fun and certainly will make our next visit to Cape Town even more fun. Now we are off to Namibia. Not something I would have ever really thought I would have ever said. :-)
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Republic of South Africa, Südafrika, South Africa, Unie van Suid-Afrika, Afrika Anaafo, ደቡብ አፍሪካ, Sudafrica, Sūðaffrica, جمهورية جنوب افريقيا, República Sudafricana, Cənub Afrika, Паўднёва-Афрыканская Рэспубліка, ЮАР, Worodugu Afriki, দক্ষিণ আফ্রিকা, ལྷོ་ ཨཕྲི་ཀ།, Suafrika, Južnoafrička Republika, Sudàfrica, Jihoafrická republika, De Affrica, Sydafrika, སའུཐ་ཨཕ་རི་ཀ, Anyiehe Afrika nutome, Νότια Αφρική, Sud-Afriko, Sudáfrica, Lõuna-Aafrika, Hego Afrika, افریقای جنوبی, Afrik bŋ Worgo, Etelä-Afrikka, Suðurafrika, Afrique du Sud, Africa du Sud, An Afraic Theas, Afraga a Deas, દક્ષિણ આફ્રિકા, Afirka Ta Kudu, Južna Afrika, דרום אפריקה, दक्षिण अफ़्रीका, Afrik Disid, Dél-afrikai Köztársaság, Հարավային Աֆրիկա, Africa del Sud, Afrika Selatan, Sudafrika, Suður-Afríka, 南アフリカ共和国, სამხრეთ აფრიკის რესპუბლიკა, Afrika Kusini, Оңтүстік Африка республикасы, អាហ្វ្រិកខាងត្បូង, ದಕ್ಷಿಣ ಆಫ್ರಿಕಾ, 남아프리카 공화국, جٔنوٗبی اَفریٖقہ, ئەفریقای باشوور, Afrika Dhyhow, Africa Australis, Sawusafirika, Zuid-Afrika, Afríka ya Súdi, ອາຟະລິກາໃຕ້, Pietų Afrika, Afrika ya Súdi, Dienvidāfrikas Republika, Afrika Atsimo, Āwherika-ki-te-tonga, Јужна Африка, ദക്ഷിണാഫ്രിക്ക, दक्षिण अफ्रिका, Afrika t’Isfel, တောင်အာဖရိက, Sør-Afrika, Mzansi ye Afrika, Süüdafrika, Sud Afrika, Afrika-Borwa, Sud-Africa, ଦକ୍ଷିଣ ଆଫ୍ରିକା, Mauling Aprika, Afryka Południowa, África do Sul, Africa dal Sid, Afurika y'Epfo, Africa de Sud, दक्षिण-आफ्रिका, Àfrica dû Sud, Mátta-Afrihká, Mbongo-Afrîka, දකුණු අප්‍රිකාව, Južná Afrika, Južnoafriška republika, Koonfur Afrika, Afrika e Jugut, Јужноафричка Република, iRiphabhulikhi ye Ningizimu Afrika, Afrika Borwa, தென் ஆப்பிரிக்கா, దక్షిణ ఆఫ్రికా రాజ్యం, Ҷумҳурии Африқои Ҷанубӣ, แอฟริกาใต้, Timog Aprika, Aforika Borwa, ʻAfilika tonga, Saut Aprika, Güney Afrika, Riphabliki ra Afrika Dzonga, جەنۇبىي ئافرىقا, Південна Африка, جنوبی افریقہ, Nam Phi, UMzantsi Afrika, Orílẹ́ède Ariwa Afirika, 南非, iNingizimu Afrika