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S O U T H   A F R I C A

17.12.2010, 11:00   ---   Travelling light  

After a 35-hour journey I arrived in Cape Town on Tuesday morning, waited for my luggage, the conveyor belt stopped… brilliant, obviously my backpack had not found the way to South Africa ! But after 6 weeks in Egypt you’re not being shocked easily any more and totally relaxed I followed the guy from my airline to his office to fill in the baggage claim form. He told me about a thousand times how sorry he felt and seemed to be quite confused that I didn’t freak out – I suppose he never had had such a relaxed customer. :-D
With only my hand luggage I made my way to the hostel and it was a totally different experience to travel with such a light luggage. At the hostel everybody was really nice and helped me out with toiletries, towel, shirts... everything you need.

My first impression of Cape Town was about high walls, barbwires and electric fences – everybody seems to build his own little fortress! And there is no public transport, so you only have the choice between walking and taking a taxi. I spend my time with strolling through the city, explored the shopping centre by the waterfront and climbed the Lion’s Head. That’s a Mountain just next to Table Mountain with a beautiful view over the city and the coast.

Two days ago I got the relieving message that the airline found my bag in Abu Dhabi and yesterday – two days late – I finally got it back. I’ve never been so happy to see this heavy bastard! ;-)
Now, Florian (from Germany ) and I just organised a rental car and we’re gonna travel along the Garden Route for a couple of days.


26.12.2010, 17:00   ---   Big animals and a sudden ending

A bit more than a week ago we left Cape Town with our rental car and heaps of wild animals, nice beaches and my first rainy day after six weeks in the Egyptian desert were awaiting us. Just after leaving the city we passed the first townships, plenty of simple and tiny panel sheet huts, demonstrating the vast contrast between poor and rich (and sadly also black and white usually). The streets are full of hawkers selling the weirdest things to the car drivers and I’ve never seen as many hitchhikers as here in Africa . We also had to get used to the security precautions that we were adviced to take care of: Locking the car’s doors while driving, keeping the windows closed, never leaving any valuables (or at best nothing at all) inside the car and not walking on the streets alone after nightfall.
First of all I fulfilled my dream of a close encounter with the Great White Shark. On a boat we left Gansbaai towards the ocean (eventhough we were still scarily close to the shore) und with baits of fish heads (no food!!) the big predator of the oceans was attracted. Three sharks found the way to our boat and already from the distance they were awe-inspiring. And then we entered the freezing water – 12 degrees! A metal cage was attached to the boat, from where could get really close to the Great White, or actually he could get close to us. It was totally different than expected, not scary at all, just fascinating!! The animals didn’t show any aggressions, instead they were swimming around us totally calm and relaxed, really cool!
Another highlight was the Addo Elephant National Park . You can drive around in your own car for game-viewing and we also hired one of the so-called hop-on-guides, who explained a lot about the animals and patiently searched for meerkats with us. Sadly we couldn’t find any, also no lions and rhinos (it’s not a zoo…), but plenty of elephants, buffaloes, zebras, antelopes, warthogs (they were especially funny, eventhough quite ugly :-D ), turtles… some of them even had babies, so cute!
And all of a sudden everything was over – car crash! We were driving on a two-lane road and collided with another car, which was trying to overtake us on a non-existing third lane. Luckily nobody got injured, but anyway it was a bad start for Christmas. Our rental company couldn’t supply another car for us and so we were taken to Plettenberg that night and got a lift by the breakdown service back to Cape Town on Christmas Eve – Merry Christmas!

Back in my hostel I met some nice Germans – Ronja, Marcus and Tino – and that night we had some drinks for Christmas. As a German you don’t get any Christmas feeling in this hot weather and also without family, but we did our best! So on Christmas Day we went to Camps Bay, chilled on the beach with many other people, refreshed ourselves in the cold Atlantic and later we had some cold drinks while watching the show drive of those “cool” blokes with their big cars.


02.01.2011, 22:30   ---   Happy New Year  

The last week in Cape Town passed like nothing and now I’m already back on the road towards Namibia along with Ling (from Hong Kong) and Michael (from Canada ).
I really enjoyed Cape Town , it has quite a laid-back atmosphere and there is indeed some public transport. I spent most of the time with Ronja and Marcus, we wandered around the city, chilled at a park, fed some squirrels, at night we had some drinks at Long Street… brilliant!
One day I joined a wine tour to Stellenbosch. We visited four different vineyards, learnt a few things and tasted a lot of different wines in beautiful scenery.
Also very cool was a tour around the Cape Peninsula ! First of all we took a boat to see the huge seal colony on a little island and afterwards we went to the penguin colony at Boulder ’s beach. Soooo cute how they toddle along the beach! :-) And last but not least we visited the Cape of Good Hope . It’s actually not the place where the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean meet as most people think, but it’s still beautiful. We fought against the crazy storm und spotted many Dazzies (the look like an over dimensional guinea pig) along the way. With the wind on our back we cycled back to the visitor’s centre, where we got picked up by the tour bus.
Then it was already New Year’s Eve and we had a cool party on a catamaran with 60 other people. There was a DJ on board, snacks and all-you-can-drink alcohol and we cruised along Cape Town ’s coast. Just the fireworks were a bit poor, but apart from that it was a fantastic New Year’s Eve!!
On New Year’s Day we just slept in first of all before taking the last chance to drive up to Table Mountain . That’s not even too easy when you’re too lazy for the 3-hours-hike, as the cablecar doesn’t run as soon as it’s too windy (and it seems to be too windy quite often). Also the clouds get stuck at the top of the mountain very often and on New Year’s Eve the queue was too long, so they didn’t even sell any more tickets at noon. But we were lucky on our last day, after queuing for 1,5 hours we could finally walk around on the big plateau, enjoyed the views, spotted some dazzies again and also watched the beautiful sunset while waiting in line again to get back down.
This morning I was at Robben Island to visit the jail, where Nelson Mandela had been imprisoned for 18 years during the Apartheid along with many other freedom fighters. It was kind of a mass processing, but still very interesting and the tour guide was even an ex-prisoner.  


10.01.2011, 11:15   ---   Off to Namibia

The last week was just awesome! Travelling with Ling and Michael is totally relaxed and works out very well, we’ve seen so many beautiful things, saved a turtle’s life on the highway and had a lot of fun.
We spent the first two days at the Cederberg Wilderness Area. That’s a beautiful mountain range with plenty of rock art and good hiking. It’s not always very enjoyable at 42 degree though, but it’s okay as long as you take some refreshing baths under waterfalls or in the river. Wow, and we saw soooo many baboons! You actually see them everywhere in southern Africa sitting just next to the streets, so nothing special so far, but there where about 40-50 baboons hanging around at one place, really cool!

Instead of heading straight north to Namibia from there we decided to spend some more time in the northern part of South Africa and the detour was well worth it!!
I quickly bought a tent and then we spent two nights camping at the Orange River right in the middle of a vineyard, had a very relaxed time and ate heaps of grapes. By the way we explored the Augrabies Falls National Park . There’s the world’s 6th biggest waterfall and it is quite impressive! We tried to do one of the hikes, but because of the terrible heat and apparently missing signs along the track we skipped it in the end. Instead we drove through the area watching out for giraffes. We had already given up hope after a while, as the vegetation was only small bush land – not actually a giraffe-friendly environment. But all of a sudden behind a slope: Trees and a family of giraffes!! :-) These animals are really cool! And on the way back we also found a group of monkeys playing in the trees.

We spent the last three days in the Kalahari, at Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park , and saw soooo many animals! The landscape is beautiful and changes a lot, from red sand dunes with little bushes to huge green plains with plenty of trees and yellow flowers. Wildebeests, springboks, gemsboks and so on are around everywhere, feeding grass or relaxing in the shade. All the other animals, especially the predators were hiding a lot better and you need some good luck. But we can’t complain at all as we found eagles, bat-eared foxes (foxes with huge ears), jackals, hyenas, giraffes and a cheetah and shared our campground with a bunch of ground squirrels. And the best of all was a leopard! It was sitting not even 10m away from us in the bush and was truly fascinating! One night we joined a night drive on a special game viewing vehicle, that was cool. Apart from two African wildcats we didn’t see anything new though, but learnt a lot about the animals.
We were absolutely lucky to see almost all the animals this area has on offer – apart from the lions! Even after 3 days we haven’t seen one, but that’s the wilderness, not a zoo…

Yesterday we crossed the border to Namibia and only a few metres further we were welcomed by a family of meerkats, curiously checking the environment and quickly disappearing in their hole. :-) That are simply the funniest and cutest animals in the world and I always hoped to see them in the nature. So that’s quite a good start for our journey through Namibia !

   

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