July - August 2012
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  • Day24

    Johannesberg South Africa

    August 18, 2012 in South Africa ⋅ 🌙 9 °C


    We woke this morning, sad to the prospect of packing and leaving South Africa. It's always sad to see a holiday come to an end, but this time seemed more difficult than ever, just getting comfortable and settling in to Cape Town. South Africa was a beautiful place, but it's here in Cape Town, that we enjoyed our stay the most. It's an awesome and charming city, that has just got under my skin, and it was even more difficult to leave this time, than the last. Even Nat, more than ever before seemed extremely melancholy to leave.

    Packed and checked out, the trip home went extremely smoothly thankfully. Our flight path was first to Johannesberg, clearing customs, flying to Sydney, clearing customs again, and back to Melbourne. The Joburg-Sydney flight was much quicker coming home, being just on 12 hours, rather than over 15. Clearing customs was quick and painless, and I was relieved to bring in 7 bottles of wine, along with a piece of the Drakensberg and my Porcupine Quill.

    The whole trip went smoothly, and as well as could be hoped. It was a pleasure to enjoy with my girlfriend Natalie, and was a few weeks to never forget, with many great memories to treasure forever. I can only look forward to the next adventure, coming in 2013
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  • Day19

    Cape Town

    August 13, 2012 in South Africa ⋅ 🌙 9 °C


    Today we were back on the City Sightseeing Bus around about 9AM bound for the 'World of Birds' on the other side of Table Mountain, near Hout Bay. The weather was cool, cloudy, with sporadic patches of sunshine from time to time. As an avian enthusiast, fond memories of this place from my previous visit were well re-lived in Nat's company. This place allows you to get up close and personal with the animals, with very little in the way of mesh fencing and safety precautions. They generally let you get in the cages, and within touching distance of the birds and animals. My favourites from last time were there, my beloved friendly owls, and a big black raven, which made amusing and crazy sounds with a proud look on its face. There were other animals here too, Llama, squirrels, antelope and a honey badger. A highlight was a monkey cage, where you were permitted to allow the monkeys to actually jump on your back! Very cool.

    The weather treated us well, being relatively pleasant and even sunny, until we reached our destination for lunch at Hout Bay, when the heavens opened up and rain came thrashing down. The restaurant here was very cool, called the Wharfside Grill, designed in the theme of an old-style cargo ship. With the weather so bad, we elected to take the Sightseeing bus next to the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town. All under shelter, it was a nice aquarium, taking us an hour and a half or so to wander through, the highlights being giant Spider Crabs and a very active octopus.

    From here, we grabbed a drink at Mitchells Tavern at the waterfront and then to dinner at the Bayside Harbour House. The food was fantastic, the experience only sullied by a vile, rude waiter who bordered on both racist and sexist. Lol, terrible. We grabbed a cab home for an overall enjoyable day.
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  • Day18

    Cape Point

    August 12, 2012 in South Africa ⋅ 🌙 11 °C


    Breakfast at Sweet Lemon was delicious, with cold meats, cheeses, fresh bread and customised bacon and egg meals prepared for each guest. With our tour driver Shanli having being forced to leave us early for another tour, we received a replacement driver, Adrian. By 9am we were on the truck, bound for Cape Point.

    What a spectacular drive it was, a little overcast, but clear enough, arguably the most beautiful scenic coastal drive around. From Cape Town, we drove right down the coast line, via Hout Bay and Simons Town, all the way to Cape Point, the most south western tip of the African Continent. It was just as enjoyable for me the second time, and Natalie loved it.

    Arriving at Cape Point, we were all given free time to explore. Nat and I went hiking, to all the various lookout points, taking in the spectacular views from all angles. We walked all the way down to the lighthouse, right on the tip of the point. We then jumped on the truck to the Cape of Good Hope, to take a quick photo. The serenity here was somewhat spoiled by the swarms of tourists.

    Next up, was a stop off at a Penguin Colony near Simons Town. Here, for a small entry fee, we could view dozens of little African Penguins, running around, just doing their thing. Amusingly, as we departed, a tourist registered a complaint with staff of the reserve, as to why Emporer penguins weren't available for viewing, despite their picture appearing on the wall on a list of all the worlds penguins. Some people are really, really stupid.

    Our final group dinner was to be at a Pub/Grill on the Cape Town Waterfront called Krugmann's Grill. It was fairly low key, this was not what you call a 'party tour group.' Our waiter named 'Clever' had a unique sytle and provided great service. There was no grand finale for our tour, sleep around 10.
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  • Day17


    August 11, 2012 in South Africa ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C


    What better way to spend our last full day in Africa than on a wine tasting tour around Stellenbosch, Franschoek and Paarl? Pick up was again at 9am with the African Fish Eagle Tour Group. Stellenbosch was our first destination, blue skies and sunshine greeting us and arrival, that would remain through out for a beautiful day. Our first Estate was Zevenwacht, where we enjoyed a Cellar Door tour, four wines, and five delicious cheeses. Second, also at Stellenbosch was the Saxonberg Estate, for four more tastings. The wines here were quite delicious! We again enjoyed some free time to wander the city centre of Stellenbosch, walking around the streets, even prettier with the white buildings in the bright afternoon sun. We returned to Diamond Works, and rather than talk about Nat's ring again, picked up some fresh Tanzanite Jewellery in earring form!

    Next up, was a drive to the nearby wine region known as Franschoek, the Rickety Bridge Estate, for lunch and tasting in a pictureseque setting. Lunch was Pork Belly for me, a tasty one at that! After some photos, we headed towards Paarl via the Hugenot Memorial, a testiment to free religion, an influence brought about by the Hugenot family.

    We stopped by at Nelson Mandelas former prison, the Victor Vester Prison (in lieu of our inability to get to Robben Island earlier in the week.. lol), before arriving at our final destination for the day, the Laborie Estate in Paarl. Four more wines for tasting here, along with a brandy, which was not my thing. The desert wine here, a chilled Port, was arguably the pick of the tour. From here, 6 bottles of wine heavier in our luggage, we headed back towards Cape Town.

    Dinner for our final night was enjoyed again at Posticino. Pizza and pasta bake as something different, and equally as delicious, packed out for a Friday night. Sadly, we returned to the Hyde, for our final sleep before facing the prospect of returning home to Australia.
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  • Day16


    August 10, 2012 in South Africa ⋅ ☁️ 19 °C


    Ughh another early start. Thankfully, our 5.30AM Breakfast was to be the last early morning for us for the duration of our holiday. Clear skies and sunshine greeted us as we boarded the truck bound for Hermanus. After a fuel stop and brief random osterich encounter, we arrived at our accomodation, Baleens Guest House, around noon. Whilst awaiting lunch, we took a stroll down to the lagoon.

    With our optional whale watching boat tour not available (booked out..) we took the truck into the city centre of Hermanus. Hermanus is renowned for its shore-based whale watching, in fact it's supposedly the number one place in the world to be able to see whales without boarding a boat. So with clear blues skies (and bit of wind), the right season, and the reputation, a few hours of not a fish to be seen, had me extremely dissappointed. In time however, relief.. Whales spotted!

    A few hundred metres from shore, Two Southern Right Wales, heading towards us, accompanied by dozens of friendly dolphines, jumping up, breaching the waves alongside them. Awesome viewing!! Rather than catch the truck back home, Nat and I alone, decided to take a coastal walking track back. What our guide advised was probably about 4 or 5k, turned out to be about 12kilometres. It was a pretty walk though, and we managed to clear it in just under 2 hours, making it back for dinner just in time!

    Dinner was out again tonight, in the city centre at a place called Lemon-Butta. Another awesome meal, probably the best of the tour; DimSum, Baby Kinglipper (Massive for a baby, a popular deep-sea fish) & Belgian Chocolate Cups for dessert. Our wine was also particularly great, a white with red pepper flavors. Also very affordable, half the price we'd have paid for it back in Australia. We enjoyed some Olympic viewing at the lodge, before going to sleep around 10.30pm.
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  • Day15

    Tsitsikamma National Park

    August 9, 2012 in South Africa ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C


    A sleep in day, relatively speaking, breakfast being in the sunny but chilly courtyard of our hotel at approximately 7.30am. On todays agenda, was a rainforest hike along the Blue Duiker Trail at Tsitsikamma National Park. The trail took us from the roadside, down the mountain, through beautiful, thick and exotic jungle. The path was wet, slippery, muddy and treacherous at points, including a difficult river crossing before a waterfall (where we had to build a make shift bridge-crossing from logs). At the bottom, we came out near the suspension bridges on the coast. Dassies were spotted hiding in the bushes along the way.

    Lunch was at a beautiful scenic town called Plettenberg Bay, on the beachfront near Beacon Island. Nat and I shared a delicious seafood snack platter. Next, we took the truck up to Knysna Heads, for spectacular views of the coast and city.

    If yesterdays dinner was good, this was better, a trendy deli restaurant called 34 Degrees South on the waterfront in Knysna. The whole area, was a very modern and pretty esplanade. We shared snails, a steak and ostrich fillet along with a delicious Leopards Leap Shiraz. Dessert was mousse and strudel.
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  • Day14


    August 8, 2012 in South Africa ⋅ 🌙 5 °C


    The rain continued this morning, but began to ease after breakfast. With last nights game drive being so dissappointing, we decided to go for another morning game drive, before leaving Addo. The rain was off and on, but viewing was much, much better today, including a great encounter with some elephant, getting so close you could almost pet them. We also managed to spot some Spotted Hyena, Zebra, Osterich and Buffalo.

    From Addo, we headed towards Knysna, passing over the Storm River Bridge. Next, we stopped for a walk at the Tsitsikamma Big Tree; a giant Yellow-wood, standing 36.6 metres tall and over 1,000 years of age. This walk was a testiment to the unpredictable changing weather of the Western Cape, starting in radiant sunshine, and finishing soaking wet, as a random storm passed us over within an hour.

    We headed now towards Bloukrans Bridge. On the way, we passed a disturbing scene, a horrorific car wreck with two vehicles. Clearly, several people here had been killed, one man clearly visible with his arm hanging out the window (possibly severed) and plenty of blood. According to collaborated views of people on the tour, it seemed at least five people had been clearly killed in the two cars.
    Bloukrans Bridge was the site for Bert and Nela to complete their 216 metre Bungee. The rest of us watched on, and enjoyed lunch and drinks.From here, we reached out accomodation, the Lagoona Inn in Kynesna itself. The rooms were clearly the most comfortable and luxurious of our tour to date.

    After watching some amusing acting on African TV, we headed out for our first dinner out at a restaurant since beginning the tour. The Quay Four Restaurant in Knysna, right on the waterfront. We enjoyed crumbed mushrooms to start, Nat having Crayfish, and me the Angelfish along with a delicious Durban White wine. For three courses and wine, the whole lot cost Nat and I about $60AU. We got our Olympic fix before heading to bed around 10pm.
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  • Day13

    Addo Elephant National Park

    August 7, 2012 in South Africa ⋅ 🌙 5 °C


    We woke at 5.40am, freezing, to find that the electricity was still out. That meant packing in complete darkness. Rain was falling heavily outside. After breakfast we said goodbye (with little regret) to the Wildcoast, and set off towards Addo Elephant National Park.
    Lunch was at Georgetown, a pretty city built in 1820. It displayed a combination of Dutch and English architecture as well as a few very nice cathedrals. We took some time to walk around the city, exploring a cathedral and noting a loud protest going on at the Town Hall.

    We arrived at Addo around 2pm, our accomodation here being small forest cabins located in the Main Camp. The camp was a fenced off area, from the surrounding game park, nearby to a reception, shop, bar and restaurant. There were also viewing areas on the camp perimeter, with a hyde near a drinking hole. We attempted an afternoon game drive, but with the rain well and truly persistent and steady, there were few animals active. For a place renowned for its elephant sightings, we managed just the one. We did manage to see some Jackal, Zebra, and a massive herd of Buffalo.

    Dinner at camp was lamb and vegetables. From there, Nat and I headed to the bar for some rest, enjoying some red and white wine, a chocolate mousse for dessert and some Olympic Viewing. We took one final attempt to spot animals at the waterhole hyde around 9pm, but with the rain still falling, there was nothing about. We put up our umbrella and made the trek back to our cabin to sleep.
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  • Day11

    Kei Mouth

    August 5, 2012 in South Africa ⋅ 🌙 5 °C


    We enjoyed our longest sleep in yet, awaking for breakfast around 8am. Our itinerary for the day involved exploring the beaches of the Wild Coast, first at Kei Mouth itself, and then the nearby Morgan Bay. We walked both beaches, exploring the rockpools and enjoying a milkshake at Kei Mouth. At Morgan Bay, we headed to the bar for drinks and some Olympics Viewing, away from the cold blustering wind.
    The beaches were both really underwhelming given their high reputation. Dinner was Kudu & potatoes. Power failed us around dusk, and did not return for the entire night. After dinner, we attempted to teach our tour guide poker by candle light. This did not go... smoothly and the game was essentially declared... VOID.
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