Trip to South Africa 2016
Group tour: Cape Town, Cape Area
The next part of my trip was a group tour organized by Studiosus which started in Cape Town and ended in Stellenbosch.
This was our travel route: Cape Town via Swellendam to the Garden Route Game Lodge. 2 days later via Cape Agulhas and Elim to Hermanus. 2 nights later via Betty's Bay to Stellenbosch. From there we made day trips to Franschhoek and the Cape of Good Hope.
The weather was promising in Cape Town, and so we went up to the Table Mountain by cable car.
In the following a kaleidoscope of Cape Town views - the city, the Town Hall, modern and old buildings, Green Market Square, the Parliament, Green Garden, the colourful Bo Kaap quarter, one of the many Golf I that I saw in South Africa, the Waterfront.
Then our overland trip began. Our first destination was the oldest town of South Africa: Swellendam. We saw old Cape Dutch houses and one of the churches in town.
Our final destination of this day was the Garden Route Game Lodge, a small, private game reserve close to Albertinia.
The game drives were done in open vehicles which was a challenge because of the icecold, strong wind which was difficult to stand although we all wore the heaviest possible clothes.
But, anyhow, the sightings were interesting, and the tour guides were excellent.
Beautiful Blue Cranes were one the most interesting sightings. We saw a couple with one chicken. When they feel threatened the male immediately pretends to have a broken wing to attract the 'enemy's' attention - while the female with the chicken silently leaves towards the opposite direction. Our guide showed this to us by just leaving the car and taking a few steps in their direction. It worked instantly!
Another interesting sighting was the interaction of two elephant bulls. The older one was 31 years, the younger was 12 years old, and we could feel how they love each other. They were playfighting, and the older, bigger one was kneeling down to be an adequate fighting partner for the younger one. In the next 'battle' the younger one seemed to have immediately learnt from the older one, because he was then kneeling down himself (although without practical purpose in this situation).
Between the game drives, we enjoyed our breaks, too. During the day temperatures became hot, and it was time for a cool fruit punch. In the evening we had our first 'springbokki' at the bar. It is a mint liquor with a layer of Amarula on the top - a divine beverage :-)
Leaving the lodge, we drove to the southernmost point of Africa: Cape Agulhas. The Cape Agulhas National Park has an interesting and beautiful flora, too. There is even a lighthouse of Egyptianizing architecture :-)
Our group at the southernmost point of Africa, Cape Agulhas, where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet.
Lunch break in a fisher village nearby
Elim, a former mission station, had an intensive atmosphere of the past. Cape Dutch houses, an abandoned gas station, and the heritage center with lots of exhibitions from the life of former generations at the Cape.
In Hermanus we stayed in a hotel that resembled an Italian house. After a delicious breakfast we made a boat tour. Whale watching!
At first we joined a boat with people in cages - they were shark-diving. But unfortunately there were no sharks to see. We went on, looking for whales, and indeed, we found one. Is was a Souther Right Whale, as they said, and it had a baby with it. (Although I did'nt see the baby.) It was difficult to take photos in the up- and down-moving boat, but at least you can see that we really met the giants of the oceans. In the town of Hermanus there is a whale figure and comparing with this figure it is more easy to recognize the whale on the photos.
Moving on to an island by boat, we also saw seals (very smelly!).
Hermanus has a cliff path from which you can also try to watch whales. We indeed saw one close to the coast and several water fountains of whales in the far.
Our next visit was to the Harold Porter Botanical Garden in Betty's Bay. The weather was clouded and a bit rainy, but still the flowers in the garden were beautiful. There were many sorts of Protea, the famous South African flower.
In Betty's Bay there is also the 'Stony Point' with a penguin colony. It was very funny to watch these little guys lead their lives.
A colony of cormorants and rock hyraxes also lived there.
Sorry for the shaking camera in the following video - I was just giggling...
After visiting these funny folks we drove along the coast to the old town Stellenbosch, our home for two nights.
From Stellenbosch we made a trip to Babylonstoren which is an old fruit and wine farm. The manor house dates back to 1777. The ample garden is beautiful, and the vineyards look great in the area of Simonsberg.
The next item on our programme was wine tasting at Haute Cabriere in Franschhoek. The vineyard is owned by a family which is originally German.
Further in Franschhoek we saw the Huguenot memorial. In its garden a big Protea grew which is the national flower of South Africa. A Hadeda Ibis was looking for food in the lawn.
We spent our lunch time in the center of the city. One of the shops sold both goods typical for South Africa: Wine and Biltong (dried meat).
Sometimes we passed the so-called townships. Although the huts are small, they have electricity, and they look clean.
This evening we were invited by a Xhosa family in Stellenbosch. Our hosts were very charming. We were received by children dancing, drumming, and singing for us. The dinner was excellent, and we were shown traditional clothes. The evening was totally awesome!
On our last day together we made a trip to the Cape of Good Hope. Our first stop was in Muizenberg where people were busy training with their surf boards. The wind was cold, but people had fun nevertheless.
Then we reached the Cape of Good Hope with the Cape Point. Unfortunately the weather was worse than expected, and so the glass of sparkling wine that we had, as it was our last trip together, had to be drunk in the rain.
Final relaxing days in Cape Town
After this trip with the group I changed the hotel and went back to The Andros Boutique Hotel in Cape Town from where we had started our tour. It is a very relaxing, beautiful hotel with very attentive staff. I never felt so pampered before in any hotel in the world. Every wish was fulfilled before I could utter it. OK, except for the temperature in the rooms. There it was cold, icecold in my opinion, and somebody had to come to my room and adjust the aircondition before I could feel fine in there. But these last two days of my trip were the first ones during which I could really relax. My trip had been beautiful up to now, but with few relaxing times. Here it was as if heavy weights fell off my shoulders - no hectic, no noise, no time schedule, no getting up early - it was just blissful!
My last day in South Africa I spent in Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. The hotel, of course, had brought me an illustrated book of the garden to my breakfast table, informed me about a guided tour at 10 a.m. and organized a taxi for me after I had just uttered "Kirstenbosch". :-)
I am sure that Kirstenbosch is the most beautiful botanical garden in the world. Its location at the slope of the Table Mountain and its ultimate variety of plants, flowers, trees, shrubs, grasses, cactusses and lancscapes can hardly be beaten. Walking the 'boomslang', a path leading through the tree tops is an exciting experience. A sudden flurry almost blew us over the railing! And finally, there are some small and interesting animals living in the garden - and obviously enjoying their lives.
The visit to this garden was a beautiful ending of my 3-weeks trip to South Africa which had been exciting, colourful, interesting, and beautiful.
Go to Part 1 of this trip: Click HERE