South Africa and Zambia Summary

South Africa FlagThis past three weeks have comprised a number of firsts for us, first time in both South Africa and Zambia, but also it was the first time we have used a travel agent, rather than planning and scheduling everything myself. Overall, the past three weeks were a raging success, and as expected, we experienced mostly positives, but also a couple of  negatives. Continue reading

Cape Town – A Welcome Return

View From Our Room - Life Is Really Tough

View From Our Room – Life Is Really Tough

After three days in Zambia, we were very happy to return to Cape Town and the exceptional Victoria & Alfred Hotel. Mind you, after three days at the Royal Livingston in Zambia, paying 5-star prices, but receiving budget motel standards, we would probably have been happy at a Motel 6.The distance between Livingstone and Cape Town is only a couple of thousand miles, but it took about 12 hours from hotel to hotel. Continue reading

Final Arathusa Lodge Safari

Andy, Judi, Ranger Cedric and Tracker Derek close-upWith our 05:30 wake-up call this morning came the realisation that this was our final safari and shortly we would be moving on to other adventures. Immediately on leaving the cabin and heading along the path towards the Lounge, we heard an animal noise that we both thought was a bird, so we happily continued. While enjoying a quick cuppa and chatting, we described the noise, at which point the Rangers advised it was a Hyena. Gulp! had we known it was Hyena, we would have retreated to the cabin and called the Ranger. Ha Ha! City Slickers and proud of it. Continue reading

Arathusa Lodge Safari Drive # 5

Zebra herd at the edge of the airstripHeading to the Lounge area for the pre-safari afternoon tea, we spotted a couple of female Waterbuck grazing at the edge of the path, just outside our cabin. We stopped and thankfully they turned around, retreating into the bush. Continuing towards the lounge area, we had only taken a few steps when we spotted a large male Waterbuck walking along the path towards us. Oh! did I mention he had huge horns and he stopped in his tracks, watching us intently. Definitely time to practice discretion or valour, so we beat a hasty retreat to the cabin and phoned the desk. We were advised, if it was a Waterbuck it would walk away without bothering us, but if it was a Buffalo stay inside and they would send a Ranger. Fairly comfortable that it was Waterbuck, we again ventured outside, following the path to the lounge. We spotted him about 5 or 6 feet off the path and he watched us as we walked passed. Now that’s what I call getting up close and personal with wild life, but wait, read on for our even closer encounter with a big cat. Continue reading

Arathusa Lodge Safari Drive # 4

Elephant juvenile male in a staring contest with our Ranger trying to get us to moveThis morning started with the customary 05:30 wake-up call from the on-duty Ranger. Once dressed we headed out for the 250 to 300 yard walk along the path to the lounge area. It isn’t too bad during the day, but in the dark of night, we never felt overly comfortable, although we know we could always phone for a Ranger for an escort. A quick cup of Ceylon Tea and we were off to climb aboard the vehicle. Continue reading

Arathusa Lodge Safari Drive # 3

Shadow, the female Leopard in clearing with close up on face

Shadow, the female Leopard in clearing with close up on face

Between breakfast and lunch I spent a few hours back at the cabin working on the photographs I had taken on the first two drives. Then, we have a short break after lunch before returning to the trough for afternoon tea. A quick cuppa is the perfect prelude to our afternoon safari. Cedric’s group has now grown to 6, with new arrivals Kim and Samantha, a couple of very nice young ladies, who are having a girls weekend break from husbands and kids. Continue reading

Arathusa Lodge Safari Drive # 2

Lions young male trying to look fierce

The morning safari drive starts just before sunrise, so our morning started with a wake-up call from the on duty Ranger at 05:20. While getting ready we heard sounds nearby from an obviously large animal and since we have a 250 to 300 yard walk to the lounge through the bush we called for an escort. The Ranger came to check it out and advised all was clear, it was only hippos in the water. He’s probably thinking, huh city folk. We reached the lounge without incident, or animal sighting and enjoyed a quick cuppa before heading to the vehicle. Continue reading

Transit to Sabi Sands and Safari Drive # 1

Leopard male cub about 9 months old just outside the resortOur tour guide from the winelands tour yesterday collected us at the hotel and drove us to Cape Town Airport for our 2.5 hr flight to Hoedspruit. Wow, after flying A380’s, 747’s and 777’s we got a shock when walking out of the terminal building, as the plane was a turbo-prop and the overhead lockers were tiny. Fortunately the cabin crew were brilliant and stowed the bag that didn’t fit in one of the empty seats. The flight was actually rather pleasant with the cabin crew serving a light lunch, water and a couple of rounds of drinks. On arrival the airport it is an old military base with a single room terminal that only opens for the couple of daily flights. Our guide met us at the building and off we headed for the 2 hr drive to Arathusa Lodge, with animal sighting starting almost immediately.

Note – While we did not wish to observe any lion/leopard kills, I have included photographs of the Lions gorging on Giraffe, which may not suit all readers. Continue reading

Judi’s Special Activity, Oh! and Wine Tasting

Cougar's clawsWe departed Cape Town on April 15th for a short drive to Stellenbosch, a small town about 30 miles from Cape Town that is in the heart of the Western Cape winelands. It is the 2nd oldest European settlement and is known as the city of oaks, due to the many oak trees lining both sides of most streets. The first day we walked around the town, which has an eclectic mix of small bars, cafes and restaurants serving the many tourists and university students. For our only full day we had a day of wine tasting planned, but made a small change to accommodate Judi’s special treat.

The picture may provide a clue to Judi’s special activity, so read on to find out.

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Robben Island – From Political Prison to Tourist Attraction

Judi-at-the-Robben-Island-sign-at-the-harbour.jpgRobben Island is a small flat island about 2 miles in length and about 1 mile wide that lies almost 5 miles off the mainland. Translated into English it means Sea Island. The island’s use as a prison was started by the Dutch in the 17th century, but it is best known as the home of Nelson Mandela for 18 of his 27 years in captivity, as a political prisoner. The prison is no longer in use, but the island still has a small population of people who work as tour guides for the many daily visitors.

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