A Travellerspoint blog

South Africa

T.I.A. – This is Africa!

An acronym to explain the unexplainable in Africa

all seasons in one day 88 °F

Traveling in South/Eastern Africa blew our expectations away. Everyone was extremely friendly, honest and hospitable. We’ve traveled in poor countries before, however it’s more of an eye opener in Africa because of the huge differences in wealth and class living side by side. There were a few things however that defied all logic and common sense that caught us off guard and there was no way to for these situations to be explained other than simply reminding ourselves that we were in Africa... here are a few of our favorite T.I.A. moments.

  • Bartender runs out of beer on New Year’s Eve
  • Ask for wifi password and hotel staff gives it to you, but doesn’t turn on the router, nor do they know what or where it is
  • Without prior safety talk, a scorpion walks through safari camp while clients are all wearing flip flops
  • Aircon isn’t cool enough so hotel staff turns the temperature up to a higher number
  • Dealer in casino will pay you twice on blackjack b/c they forgot who they paid out already
  • New cycling safari advertised on website but once you get there they’ll tell you it’s BYOB
  • Hotel staff will clean your room before you leave on the day of your checkout
  • You can freely carry a knife through any airport, yet the second you step into a security line outside Africa, it is goodbye knife
  • Hostel staff will be using the kitchen in the morning to make their breakfast, and be annoyed with the paying guests who are in their way
  • Mini bus driver will head straight for police checkpoints without actually have a license or registration

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Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 03:25 Archived in South Africa Tagged africa Comments (1)

Cape Town, South Africa

An amazing end to an awesome road trip

all seasons in one day 98 °F

Look out San Francisco cause Cape Town may just offer more beauty, better weather, and a scenic coast drive that rivals Highway One… in fact, we found that it has more variety of activities in a smaller area. Table Mountain and Lion’s Head both offer great walking/running routes and a little bouldering for fantastic views of the coastline and the city.
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The beaches are beautiful along the coast and the water is a bright blue color. Along our drive to most south western tip of Africa at the Cape of Good Hope, we stopped in at a shark center and a penguin habitat. Boulders National Park is home to a pretty amazing penguin population and the park is designed to let you get up close and personal with them. It was shocking that they let us actually swim in the same waters and sun bath with them on the same beach, but hey… T.I.A! We really enjoyed our time with the awkward little animals.

We highly recommend driving around the peninsula and stopping at the cute little towns. With Robin’s eagle eyes for food she spotted Mama Lucy cooking up some pork fat and we were able to have our last real African meal with corn grits (mieliepap). FYI, there is a toll to drive Chapmans Peak but it has stunning views of the bay on a nice winding road.
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Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 03:06 Archived in South Africa Comments (3)

Garden Route, South Africa

Our top road trip so far!

sunny 86 °F

Of all of our road trips so far, South Africa’s Garden Route wins our award for Best Road Trip Vacation and highly recommend it to our loyal readers :) The malaria free scenic drive has so much to offer that even in 10 days, we couldn’t fit it all in. We picked up a very small tent claiming to be for “2 Adults” that would make a great light weight backpacking tent for a 12 year old! It was pretty funny comparing our little tent next to the incredible multi-room tents that we saw being used. Having our rental car and tent allowed us the freedom to stay inside many of the National Parks in some of the most beautiful campsites we’ve seen; our favorite being Stormsriver. It has tent spots right on the ocean with access to multiple hikes, swimming and funny mini marmot looking animals called Dassies.
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We used our rental car for our own self-drive safari in the Addo Elephant National Park, where there are over 400 elephants! It was so exciting to be our own guides, stopping for as long or little as we wanted. We felt as though we had learned a lot about tracking from our Botswana safari guide, and managed to see everything from A-ntelopes to Z-ebras including some up close lions that just finished off a porcupine earlier that morning.

Of the numerous activities along the route for the adrenalin junkie, we gave sand-boarding and sand-sledding on the Sunday River’s Dunes a try. Although getting a few winter snowboard runs in was fun, you could get some major speed on the sled and definitely recommend it.
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The Cango Caves in Oudstoorn was another attraction we enjoyed. We did the “adventure tour” of the cave which promised for some narrow passage ways, crawling, and getting through obstacles such as the post box and up the chimney but child’s play compared to the birth canal in California’s Santa Cruz.
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We celebrated Robin’s birthday with an ostrich braai an ostrich egg breakfast. Then we got up close and personal at an ostrich show farm where the birthday girl had the ride of her life.
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The Napa Valley of South Africa sits just outside of Cape Town and the tasting rooms are a dime a dozen in Stellenbosch. A highlight was the wine and chocolate pairing, a cheese and wine pairing, and a tasting room that over looked zebras, wildebeests, springboks, and guinea fowl.
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Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 09:06 Archived in South Africa Comments (1)

Johannesburg, South Africa

Most people did not recommend coming here, but...

sunny 80 °F

We had mixed feelings about going to Johannesburg (or Jo-burg as the locals call it). Everything we read online and everyone we met advised against it because of crime and nothing much to do there. We decided to give it a shot and found a great deal for renting a flat in Standton. The Standton mall at Nelson Mandela Square was reminiscent of LA with its flashy people and shops. It would have been completely awkward a year ago to be walking around in such a fancy place with our backpacking packs, but apparently we’ve gained some courage since being on this trip.
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On the bus ride from Botswana we drove past a few townships and shanty towns outside of Johannesburg. It was comforting to be heading to a nicer part of town but there was an eerie feel to the whole city. There wasn’t a house without bars on the windows and big walls around the property topped with rows of electric fencing. The apartment complex we stayed in had a really big park like backyard and over our first bottle of S.African wine, it made us wonder how all the neighborhood cats and birds survived without getting electrocuted on the daily!
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When it comes to tourism, Jo-burg could use an overhaul. We kept our itinerary short, visiting the Apartheid Museum for some history and the Carlton Center for a 360 degree view of the city. The views were nice, but it was a shame that they neglected washing the windows or adding any up to date information regarding the skylines that you could see.
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Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 05:09 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

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