Saturday, January 07, 2012

Zebula - South Africa

The Place: Near Bela Bela (prev. Warmbaths) in the Limpopo province, saw the New Year in around a fire with Liz, Nick, and Karen on Zebula game reserve.
Some features: The game is plentiful, with Wildebeest, Eland, Red Hartebees, Impala, Giraffe, Waterbuck and Warthog all roaming freely around the reserve. Hired some bikes for a unique game cycle which was a great experience - came skidding to a halt when rounding a corner so as not to collide with a giraffe! Zebula also has a golf course so smacked some balls around with Liz, Nick and Karen after a game of squash and swim in the morning.Went on a game drive through the neighbouring game reserve (Mabalingwe) and were lucky to spot black backed jackal and mongeese, and many interesting trees including the euphorbia candelebrum (or naboom) and the Marula tree. Also witnessed a funny/ sad scene in which a dung beetle had built the perfect ball only to be ambushed by another who kicked him off and ran away with it at pace.

Cape Town - South Africa

The Place: Arrived in Cape Town to spend Christmas with family and catch up with old friends.
Some features: Stayed in a house overlooking Fish Hoek beach, a great spot for walks and runs down to the beach. Ran a 12k circular route with Liz down to the beach then along to Glencairn and back round via Blackhill Rd. Met up with Gordon for some fish and chips at Kalkies. Lazed on the beach at Clifton and Camps Bay with Liz and Jason. Spent a day with Lauren, Mark and Jason, heading to Moyo for lunch, De Toren wine estate for a wine tasting followed by Brass Bell for a few beers. Surfed at Muizenberg before a climb up and down Platteklip gorge, Table Mountain with Liz, and then to finish the day having sunset dinner at the Red Herring in Monkey Valley, overlooking Noordhoek beach.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Knysna - South Africa

The Place: After stopping off at the beach at Victoria Bay, we drove to Lake Brenton where we relaxed for 3 days at a house in Brenton Park overlooking Knysna.
Some features: The view of Knysna was really good from the house, and we were joined by the local deer which came up to the house to greet us. Spent a morning and ate lunch at the heads to soak in more views. Liz and I ran a 14k from the town , around the vlei and up and down the steep hills to Brenton Lake - a killer run - but much needed after all the Biltong and red meat we consumed in the Karoo. We were lucky enough to chance upon the Knysna Rocks Festival which was another great way to spend the day.

Knysna Rocks Festival

The Event: Liz and I spent a day at the Knysna Rocks Festival on a sports field at the Waterfront. The line up included Sleep in Transit (a young local band), Die Heuwels Fantasties, Elvis Blue, Holiday Murray, Johnny Clegg and Prime Circle.
The festival started midday so had a bit of time to spend just wondering around while the pre-acts played, picking up promo items, drinking beers and playing croquet and a bit of swing bat set up by the sponsors.
Felt nostalgic when listening to Johnny Clegg belting out the old hits - O Siyeza and Impi, the type of nostalgia you feel in London hearing old iconic African songs - even if they weren't your favourite when living in SA!
Prime Circle were great as the headliner and it was good to hear a new cool band, Holiday Murray, from Cape Town - we made sure to buy their CD before heading back to London.

The Great Karoo - South Africa

The Place: On a road trip through the Karoo, we stopped along the way at Karoo National Park, Klaarstroom, then through Meiringspoort pass to De Rus and Oudsthoorn.
Some Features: We took a game drive by night at the Karoo National Park and spotted a family of African Wild Cat (strangely similar to the domestic house pet!); and a game drive by day spotting the impressive Red Hartebees, Birchell and Mountain Zebra, Ostrich, Springbok and Steenbok.
Walked a 10k hike with a ranger the next morning, the ranger being required due to the presence of Lions (which unfortunately we didn't spot). We did however, see the Black Eagle, klipspringers and more Red Hartebees.
Following the National Park, we stayed over in a cozy log cabin, just outside of Klaarstroom, a town nestled within an amazingly green valley in the sparse and dry Karoo. The cabin had a balcony overlooking the valley and cool little boma where we braaied at night.
From Klaarstroom we drove through Meiringspoort pass and the town of De Rus to get to Cango (via Oudshoorn) where we toured the impressive caves.
Liz and I had a run in the morning (12ks) which was really really hot, not surprising in the Karoo, however it was 8 in the morning before breakfast, and still felt like a good 30 degrees.
After breakfast the owner took us on a short game drive, before we set off for Knysna.

Kimberley - South Africa

The Place: Kimberley, the beginning of the Western Cape, when driving from Joburg.
Some features: Kimberley's Great Hole, the largest man-made open cast diamond mine - dug to a depth of 240m before being using machinery and mining to a depth of 1097m (De Beers mining company - with Barney Barnato and Cecil John Rhodes). The Star of South Africa (48carats) was found in Kimberley, not to be confused with the Cullinan I (Great Star of Africa), at 530 carats, cut from the Cullinan diamond, which was the diamond mounted in the Sceptre of the Crown Jewels.
Interesting Fact: Kimberley was the first town in South Africa to make use of electric street lamps.