Posts Tagged ‘driving’

Welcome To Banoka

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

Willie negotiates the last of the bumpy track into the campsite. Over the sound of the jeep’s engine we hear singing. We round the last corner of the well worn track and come to a stop in the camp’s welcoming area. Camp staff have come out to greet us and they are singing a traditional Botswana welcoming song. We have arrived at Banoka Bush Camp (check out the great article on Mahlatini website)
As we step down from the dusty jeep we are presented with a cold face towel and an even cooler drink. We’re introduced to the camp managers – Mish, Lops and Claire. An air of “relax, slow down, your here” surrounds us and we feel instantly at home. They are all genuinely happy to meet us and the pride they take in their work is immediately evident.
We’re escorted to the camp’s expansive dining and meeting area to receive our camp safety briefing. As we pass through the entrance we notice the huge waterhole which the camp is built around. At least a dozen hippo are wallowing around in the shallows and their loud grunts and growls are a perfect accompaniment to our extensive camp briefing.
What a way to start our safari.

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African Vino

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

The distinctive taste of the full bodied South African red wine slips across the pallet as the sun descends slowly in the southern African skyline. The stunning mountain range to the north towers over the Stellenbosch wine region and we soak it all up at the Rust En Vrede winery’s cellar garden.

We have spent the day touring the Stellenbosch area – the pride of South Africa’s wine industry.  Hundreds of wineries are dotted throughout the spectacular landscape and visitors to the area could spend days here soaking up the delights which the area has to offer.

Tasting Rust

Whilst Stellenbosch is known for its spectacular wines, it is also home to a large university and a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Indeed, one could stay in the region for a week and not get through half the wineries and activities.  We just might have to come back!

As our wine tasting comes to an end we reflect on the fact that “life is very good indeed”.

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Flustered Feathers In Full Flight

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

We are admiring the vastness of the Atlantic ocean on the drive toward the Cape of Good Hope when, all of a sudden, our attention is drawn to something on the road ahead of us.

Our minds try to make sense of the picture of a flustered female ostrich running at a pace straight toward the car.  Her stubby wings are flapping around as she wobbles down the road like a drunk marathon runner.  I stop the car and she stops in the centre of the road. Further down the road we get to see the reason for her running – an obviously horny male ostrich.  He also stops.

Flustered Feathers

The large female (standing well over 8 feet tall) sizes up the situation.  Our small Ctiroen car ahead of her and a large horny male behind her.  What to do?  After a brief moment she moves to one side of the road and runs around our car and sets off on a new escape path.

The chase is on again.  The over-sexed male is not going to let this one get away so he starts moving his gangly legs again and gets up to quite a speed as he passes us without stopping.

We look at each other in disbelief and start laughing at the comical scene we just witnessed.  Welcome to Africa!

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Rounding The Cape

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

The rather cold southerly breeze lets it’s presence be known as we start the steepish ascent of Cape Point. Nothing stands between southern Africa and the Antarctic so the wind is given free passage to where we stand.
Below and to our right is the infamous Cape Of Good Hope, the feared yet welcome landmark to many sailors.

The Princess is enjoying the display of coastal flowers that line the pathway leading up to the lighthouse and I am enjoying the views one gets to take in from this rugged peninsular.

Flowering Cape

Noisy seabirds dart across the sky above and below us – each of them on a mission.  Thousands of birds nest on the cliffs that tower above the Atlantic coastline below.  A precious piece of bird real estate.

In the relatively warm waters of the bay below us several humpback whales are enjoying the last of their annual migration.  No doubt the huge great white sharks that also call this bay their home are not too far away.

Cape Point – not the most southern part of Africa but certainly one of its best known landmarks.

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Mountains and Sheds On The Cape

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Our small Citroen rental car’s window is filled with the distinct shape of Table Mountain as we motor along the impressive freeway toward Cape Town.  It looks like someone has sliced the peak off a huge mountain and forgotten to put it back.  An incredible sight despite having seen it in magazines and on TV.

A glance at our watches tells us that we have been traveling for over 20 hours since we left Hong Kong however we are wide awake with the thought of spending the next six days in Cape Town.  We have only just arrived on the Western Cape however the aerial views of the rugged mountains, extensive vineyards and the southern Atlantic ocean have piqued our desire to explore this beautiful region in detail.

Flat Top Welcome

Our short journey to Hout Bay, a small town south of the city, takes us past several shanty towns – millions of people call this part of South Africa home.  This is our first close up look at these communities and we are quite shocked at the number of flimsy shacks that have been erected here.  It becomes painfully obvious to us that despite the demise of apartheid the black majority in South Africa are still a long way from living the dreams held by Nelson Mandela and other staunch anti-apartheid activists.  That day will come.

We follow the instructions sent to us by the hosts of the B&B we will be staying at and before long we are driving through the forested winding road that links Hout Bay to Cape Town.  Huge houses surrounded by acres of land are visible behind tall fences.  Electrified wires are strung across the top of the fences and warning signs send a message to those who have nefarious intentions.  This beautiful suburban area is a stark contrast to the sprawling shanty town landscape on the outskirts of Cape Town city.

Our history lesson begins.

Our fellow avid traveller Jen Miller (Jen Reviews) has written some great articles on “100 Best Things To Do In South Africa”  Please check out Jen’s excellent articles for some great advice on when visiting South Africa.

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Safest Place To Walk? – On The Road

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Xi’an city is quite well laid out and there are no lack of footpaths for one to walk on.  However, it seems that the locals are more comfortable walking on the road.  This could be due to the fact that some drivers seem to prefer to drive on the footpaths!

The proliferation of cars, bikes, buses and trucks mean that the roads in China are becoming increasingly busy.  However, the average pedestrian has no qualms about sharing the roads with the traffic.  Indeed, we were privy to people wheeling elderly parents in their wheelchairs against the stream of oncoming traffic.

Old men and women pushing cardboard laden pushcarts, bikes stacked with gas bottles and water, wheelchairs with elderly passengers aboard and young and old foot traffic are all commonplace on the streets of Xi’an.  And what’s more – the drivers of the fast moving (and not so orderly procession) of vehicles take this all in their stride.  The incessant beeping of horns reminds the foot traffic that they may become a hood ornament if they are not too careful and, for the most part, they seem to obey.

The streets are not a place for the fainthearted and visitors to Xi’an (and other Chinese cities) should opt for the footpaths (if they are not taken up with cars and bikes) rather than walking on the roads.  The locals seem to be rather accustomed to the practice but tourists probably don’t have the street smarts to compete with the traffic.  Besides, the “gawking” that tourists tend to do leads to even less awareness.

Travel tip – keep your ears open because the friendly reminder from an approaching car may be the only thing that keeps you alive in these parts!

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