De Addis Abeba a Ciudad del Cabo (From Addis Ababa to Cape Town)


The Mother City
April 19, 2012, 3:31 pm
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We’ve arrived (albeit a week ago) in the Mother City, our final destination (well, for the purpose of this trip and the blog anyway) and one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Cape Town.

Dinner on the patio

Dinner on the patio

Although we’ve just been here seven days, a lot has happened. We’ve enjoyed delicious wine again – both at Steenberg for Gus’ 50th birthday party as well as at a few of the many gorgeous vineyards in Franschoek and have eaten amazing food, I’ve started running again (man, that’s been hard going but I had to start somewhere. The beautiful scenery helps take my mind off my screaming lungs and heavy breathing just a bit), we’ve told just about everyone now that we’ll be moving to Melbourne in a matter of months (we’ll be travelling by plane this time!) instead of settling in Cape Town as originally planned (Cape Town will just need to hang on for a little while longer) , we’ve driven along Chapman’s Peak Drive, one of the most amazing mountain roads in the world (and stopped for champagne and sunset views along the way), we’ve been for mountain walks and have climbed Lion’s Head, which will probably be one of the most memorable walks for me for a while as that’s where Alberto proposed. I wasn’t quite expecting it, I swear!

Beautiful Steenberg

Beautiful Steenberg

The valleys of Franschhoek

The valleys of Franschhoek

Enjoying delicious wine at Moreson in Franschhoek

Enjoying delicious wine at Moreson in Franschhoek

Hout Bay and the Sentinel

Hout Bay and the Sentinel

Chapman's Peak Drive

Chapman's Peak Drive

So with at least five more weeks to go, I’m sure we’ll have many more good times in Cape Town, a city that is rather special to me (and not just for recent obvious reasons :-p ).

My surprise

My surprise

For now though, I guess this is my last installment for the blog as we’ve reached the place we intended to after leaving London five months ago.

Thanks for following our travels and reading about our many adventures – it’s been great to know you’ve been travelling along with us.

Our African journey was emotional, definitely challenging and at most times amazing, but nothing quite feels as right as being home!

Goodnight and good luck!

Goodnight and good luck!



The Beauty and the Berg
April 19, 2012, 3:02 pm
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Our Easter weekend was a special one – we spent it with friends at Paul (and Candice’s) family farm, Shawswood, in Howick in the Natal Midlands. We were gathered there to be part of Emma’s christening and to celebrate Candice’s 30th birthday (themed ‘A Pink princess party’). It was great catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while, we had a good amount of fun and shared lots of laughs. The farm and its surroundings are beautiful too and we were made to feel so welcome there – I was quite sad when it came time to say goodbye.

Gorgeous Emma with her godmother, Bron

Gorgeous Emma with her godmother, Bron

Pretty in pink!

Pretty in pink!

The farmhouse at Shawswood

The farmhouse at Shawswood

The Natal Midlands

The Natal Midlands

After leaving Shawswood, we spent two days in the Southern Drakensberg. The Drakensberg mountains are amazing (each time I come home and whether it’s a new part of the country I visit or a familiar one, I always marvel at how beautiful the landscape is). The berg is the highest range in Southern Africa and according to trusty Wikipedia, ‘geologically, the range resembles the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia’, so it’s no wonder I loved the Simiens too.

Taking in the view from Stromness

Taking in the view from Stromness

Birdwatching in the garden

Birdwatching in the garden

On our second day we drove up Sani Pass and into Lesotho for a four hour hike. Sani Pass is a notoriously treacherous (even more so in winter when parts of the road freeze over) piece of 9km road (I’m not even sure you can classify it as a road) that winds up over the Lesotho mountains. We went up in a 4×4 driven by a man named Stuart, who told us he’s driven the pass thousands of times. It’s recommended that your mode of transport is a 4×4 (there’s no way our little Nissan Micra rental would have made it) but apparently from the Lesotho side, border control will allow just about any type of vehicle to descend the pass. Watching the 4×4 mini bus taxis trying to navigate the switchbacks was pretty unnerving!

On the way up the Pass

On the way up the Pass

The infamous Sani Pass winding up the valley

The infamous Sani Pass winding up the valley

Last section of Sani Pass (can you see the bulldozer and the pub?)

Last section of Sani Pass (can you see the bulldozer and the pub?)

Our hike to Hodgson’s Peaks and Giant’s Cup was great, even if it was a little fresh (the thermometer said it was 6 degrees outside). Our company for most of the walk included Basotho ponies, sheep grazing on the hillsides, their bells tinkling as we walked by, and their shepherds who most of the time we could hear but not see as they sat camouflaged and wrapped up in their blankets. Thankfully we failed to attract the attention of the shepherds’ dogs who Stuart said can be quite vicious, neither did we meet any weed smugglers along the way (parts of the track form the smugglers’ route).

Welcome to Lesotho!

Welcome to Lesotho!

We couldn't resist taking a photo of this . . .

We couldn't resist taking a photo of this . . .

Hodgson's Peak

Hodgson's Peak

After the scramble to the top of the southern peak, we came back down to warm up and have a drink at the Sani Top Chalet, apparently one of the highest pubs in Africa. We then climbed back into the Land Rover and held on for a wide-eyed descent.
All in all, it was another good day in Africa!



Durban delights
April 11, 2012, 1:46 pm
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Durban involved more laziness and some family time with my aunt, uncle and cousins.

My cool cousin Tyronne and Alberto

My cool cousin Tyronne with Alberto

I wonder if Chloe will start a new trend?

Tys and Mish's gorgeous girl, Chloe - will she start a new trend?

Alberto celebrated his birthday in Durban and we started the day off with a walk along the beachfront followed by lunch at a nice pub overlooking the Valley of a Thousand Hills (which is conveniently situated just past the Comrades Wall of Honour so I got to see my name in lights – or rather fixed to a concrete brick – and it felt quite cool).

Along Durban beachfront with Stellie

Along Durban beachfront with Stellie

It's up there - on the Wall of Honour

I've earned a place on the Wall of Honour

A birthday surprise

A birthday surprise

We did do a little bit of exercise and hired a tandem bike to ride along the esplanade, we hopped on the Skycar for a trip to the top of the Durban football stadium, had a picnic on the pier by the Umhlanga lighthouse and you guessed it – we did a bit more shopping too!

Tandemming outside the stadium

Tandemming outside the stadium

Durban skyline from the Skycar

Durban skyline from the Skycar

Umhlanga Rocks beach

Umhlanga Rocks beach

 



Joburg – shopping centres, traffic and one precious baby
April 11, 2012, 1:12 pm
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And then it was on to Joburg to catch up with my schoolfriend Candice and her husband, Paul, and of course also to meet the newest addition to their little family – gorgeous six month old Emma.

Hello beautiful!

Hello beautiful!

Wouldn't it be cool if we could suck our toes?

Wouldn't it be cool if we could suck our toes?

We spent our week chilling, chatting, cooking, shopping (Alberto just about has a complete insectless wardrobe now) at the numerous shopping centres dotted around Joburg, enjoyed a picnic with goodies from the organic market and spent lots of time with Emma.

Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton

Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton

A common Joburg sight

A common Joburg sight



Mpumalanga rocks!
April 5, 2012, 1:40 pm
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After a somewhat shaky welcome to South Africa, things drastically improved, starting off with our eventual arrival at Nelspruit Backpackers. Natalie and Paul and their three kids (plus the three dogs and two cats) soon made us feel at home. Their warm hospitality, their kind and friendly travel advice and the laidback atmosphere of their home/backpackers made me remember some of the things I miss about South Africa.

It seems that some nasty little bedbugs followed Alberto from Maputo so after nuking some of our clothes and throwing out a few more, we had a much needed mini shopping spree (never thought I’d be so excited to see a shopping centre, after a few hours in one though, the feeling soon passed) which also lifted my spirits after my horrible illness the day before.

For our first weekend, we hired a car to explore a little bit more of the surrounding area. I’ve never visited this part of the country before and Mpumalanga’s beautiful – I definitely want to go back. After a slow drive with the Drakensberg escarpment keeping us company for most of the way, we stopped off at Maholoholo, a wildlife rehabilitation centre situated between the mountains and the Kruger National Park. The guys at the centre really do an impressive job and are obviously passionate about what they do – rescuing lions and cheetahs severely injured when caught in snares (not a nice thing to see at all), nursing orphan rhinos as well as rehabilitating leopards, numerous birds of prey and wild dogs.

Lovely leopard at Maholoholo

Lovely leopard at Maholoholo

Lord of the beasts

Lord of the beasts

Just some of the vultures at Maholoholo

Just some of the vultures at Maholoholo

The orphaned rhino

The orphaned rhino

We camped that night at Swadini, an immaculate resort within the Blyde River Canyon nature reserve (the ablutions at the camping grounds were spotless and SO much cleaner than any of the bathrooms we’d used during the last four months!) and were up early the next morning to see the beautiful sights of the Blyde River Canyon.

Swadini camp grounds

Swadini camp grounds

We stopped off at various viewpoints (including God’s Window) along the way, the Three Rondavels spot being my favourite, and visited the famous Bourke’s Luck potholes.

Blyde River Canyon

Blyde River Canyon

Blyde River Canyon with one of the Three Rondavels

Blyde River Canyon with one of the Three Rondavels (top right corner)

Bourke's Luck potholes

Bourke's Luck potholes

The aptly named 'Wonderview'

The aptly named 'Wonderview'

With the afternoon still ahead of us, I persuaded Alberto to drive to one of the Kruger gates (at R48 – approx. £4 – per (local) person per day, it’s certainly money well spent). We spent the next three hours driving around spotting elephant (Alberto almost drove into this guy, he didn’t see him as he stepped out almost infront of us), giraffe, rhino, hippo, fish eagles, various types of buck, zebra and warthog. I could have happily stayed for hours more but it was getting dark and we had to get to the gates before they closed. And to round off a really great day, I even saw the Jock of the Bushveld memorial that’s placed outside one of the gates!

Front row seats for a prime viewing

Front row seats for a prime viewing

Giraffe bum!

We got to see their faces too . . .

Rhinos!

Rhinos!

Beloved Jock

Beloved Jock