Cape Town to Port Elizabeth

  

After my bus trip to Joburg, I flew to Cape Town and met my family for a week and a half road trip across the Garden Route and mountains of South Africa. It was great being in Africa with my family, and sleeping in B&Bs rather than backpackers lodges was definitely an improvement.

Before even beginning the trip, getting everyone there proved an interesting challenge. A couple of days before my family, I flew into Cape Town and had to meet a South African gentleman who I was going to stay with. Never having met him before, I looked up his picture on LinkedIn and hoped that I could find him at the airport. All I knew was that he would arrive at 9:45 pm. Unfortunately, there were two flights (one domestic, one international) in different terminals arriving at exactly that time. Luckily I guessed correctly and wasn’t stranded. Meanwhile, my brother traveled through London on his own, and my parents and sister came through Atlanta. In Atlanta, they wouldn’t let my dad on the plane because he didn’t have two full pages empty passport pages. Somehow he got pages added, made it the next day and we were on our way!

The rest of the trip was great and we saw lots of South Africa’s natural beauty. The people were so friendly too. Highlights of the trip included:

Hiking Table Mountain (They make it sound easy but it’s not!)

Driving to the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point

Acting cultured in South Africa’s wine country (Winelands)

 

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A hike in Swellendam

The Retreat at Gronfontein, which used to be an Ostrich Palace during the booming ostrich feather and meat business of the 1920s. My siblings and I were also the youngest people there by a good 40 years

Knysna, where we hiked along the coast and met crazy British people. Knysna also has one of the most dangerous harbors in the world (It was closed in the 1950s because something like 20% of the ships that attempted to come through sank).

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Everybody in Knysna (Jon couldn’t make it 😦

Storm’s River and Tsitsikamma National Park. One day in the rain we took kayaks up the river and jumped off bluffs, swam and floated on little rafty things.

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Storms River Kayak Adventure

 

Addo Elephant National Park – actually we never made it into Addo, but we did a safari at a private game reserve up the road. It was great, maybe better than safaris I’ve done in Masai Mara. We saw lions hunting (eventually killing a giraffe), antelope, gazelle, impala, wildebeest, hippos, elephants, rhinos, and a few other things that I’ve probably forgotten.

Finally, we arrived in Port Elizabeth where my family flew to Joburg and I drove to my friend’s house in George to spend a couple of days.

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Somewhere on the coast

 

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Journey to Johannesburg

I completed the final leg of my bus adventure from Kenya to South Africa! It’s been a wild ride, filled with memorable experiences and unforgettable people. It’s been long at times and less than comfortable, but I’m glad I did it and will remember this trip for the rest of my life.

The bus from Lusaka to Johannesburg takes a cool 24 hours. Add to that the 7-hour ride back from Livingstone and waiting time in-between, and my final stint took about 35 hours. Fortunately for me but unfortunately for this blog post, the trip was rather uneventful. As always, however, interesting things happened at border crossings. When I arrived at the Zimbabwe border, we waited in a stuffy, crowded building for almost an hour to stamp our passports. When I got to the front, I only had a $100 bill to pay the $30 transit visa fee. The agent took my money, quickly stuffed it into his shirt pocket, and declared that he didn’t have any change for me. I should have seen that one coming. When I persisted in asking for my change back, he said I should go see the lady at the cashier’s office. Of course she didn’t have change either, and I apparently insulted her deeply by asking if she really didn’t have any change at all, so I came back and asked the guy again for my change please. He said I should come back the next day, or better yet, on Tuesday and they would have the money. I told him that was stupid and he started to get really pissed. He handed me the dirtiest $50 bill I have ever seen, and said that after visiting another counter to receive my transit visa, I should come back and beg him for the remaining $20. So I went to the other counter and got my visa, asked the nice gentleman there for the $20 they owed me and got my money without a problem. I waved the money at the jerk’s window and bolted out of that office into Zimbabwe as fast as my legs would carry me.

After a long drive through Zimbabwe, we arrived at the South African border crossing. This one looked more like crossing from Mexico to the US, complete with barbed wire fencing, trenches, searchlights and police vehicles. This one also took a long time, but the staff were incredibly friendly. They only asked me how long I wanted to stay in SA, before stamping my passport and letting me through. I was expecting a full-fledged arsenal of questions so this was a pleasant surprise. Borders and all I finally arrived in Johannesburg and met up with my South African friend’s family. It’s great to finally be here and know that I’ll be flying (thank God) to Cape Town tomorrow to meet up with my family for our gallivanting around the country.