South Africa 2014

Are we having a Knysna time?

Monday, November 10th, 2014

In a word, yes. Today, Sunday, was a free day with no organized activity until a dinner boat cruise in the lagoon. The town of Knysna is situated around the lagoon which is protected by headlands with a gap out to the ocean. A bit like St John’s harbour with Signal Hill on one side and the Battery on the other. However, there were no large ships in the lagoon which must be quite shallow. I have since learned that due to treacherous passage through The Heads commercial vessels entering do so at their own risk. – no insurance.

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Wake Up Call

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Inexplicably, our day began at 5:30am with a wake up call. With no telephones in our rooms this consisted of someone knocking on our door. We did not request one. Later, at a decent hour, the hotel front desk informed me it was requested by our guide who, when confronted, denied the accusation. Anyway, this irksome event had a silver lining as it allowed us to be completely packed prior to 6:30 when the restaurant opened for breakfast. After all, we had to get an early start as our first activity of the day began at 10am, a mere 4 1/2 hours later and it was going to take at least 10 minutes to load the bus and drive to the dock. Aloe? Are we detecting a pattern here?

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Oh!

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Oh, oh, oh.

Oh My!

Oh. My. Goodness.

I’ll try to flesh out today’s experiences bit better tomorrow.

Last night a lion paid me a visit in my (malaria pill induced) dreams. And then today, in the flesh. We are in an altered state here.

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Altered State

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

In the coastal waters of BC we have occasionally experienced the thrill of seeing a pod of Killer Whales. We also have the thrill of bear sightings, but these are usually tinged with a good dose of caution/fear. My very first Orca sighting, now many years ago, was on board a BC Ferries vessel headed for Duke Point on Vancouver island. While I have seen them many times since, I can still recollect the feeling of exhilaration I experienced that very first time. Likewise, I can still be that young boy camping in the Rockies the day when the hair on the back of my neck stood up with the thrill and the fright of confronting my very first bear whilst on the path to the outhouse. I have seen many since (some in our own back yard) but the first encounter is deeply imprinted. Now they are a bit routine.

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Altered State, Part 2

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Even in our state of extended exhilaration, there are still some difficult choices to make each day. The first decision of the day – should I answer the 5am wake up call – is not difficult. We can’t wait to jump aboard our Land Cruiser for the 6am safari and so there is really no decision to be made at all. Other than deciding where to point the camera, there are really no decisions to be made at all while out on the hunt.

The first difficult choice of the day comes around 9:30 when we have to decide what to order for breakfast. There there are six items on the menu and we are only here for 3 days. I suppose in order to avoid making it difficult I could have ordered two breakfasts each morning, but gluttony is one of the 7 deadly ones and to be avoided, even when on vacation.

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Hard to say goodbye

Friday, November 14th, 2014

This morning (Friday Nov 14) we took our last of the six safari drives we enjoyed during our 3 day stay at Kapama. Each trip out of the compound was different and exciting in it’s own way and none of us wanted this sojourn to end.

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On the road to Joburg

Friday, November 14th, 2014

After reluctantly departing the Buffalo Camp we were greeted by our new guide Marshall. Off we went for the 300km trip to last night’s stop at Hazyview (think Smokey Mountains but tropical fruits grown on a commercial scale and eucalyptus tree farms). En route we stopped at several scenic vistas mostly along the Blyde River. We had a couple of short walks which was nice as we have not been doing too much of that for the last several days. We all fought sleep on the bus, most of us unsuccessfully. The canyons and valleys were great.

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TIA

Monday, November 17th, 2014

Saturday was another travel day, maybe 5 hours to get from Hazyview to Johanisburg. Marshall, our guide was much more considerate and we had several stops along the route. He also spent a good deal of time discussing various social issues; education, politics past & future, justice, property rights, health care as well as a good deal of geological history and agricultural. A fourth generation South African, we enjoyed and appreciated his thoughtful perspective on so many topics. TIA – This is Africa & Marshall helped us get a better feel for what’s going on.

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Stan’s the Man

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

History records that Stanley Livingston was the first white man to behold these falls which he named after his Queen. Since then, countless more have visited and now we are among them.

But first we had to get there, which meant flying from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls which is located in a different country, Zimbabwe. As a result we had the opportunity to feel the effects of Canadian foreign diplomacy first hand. I suppose this is a good thing since so often it seems the diplomatic efforts (or any other efforts for that matter) of most of our political leaders have little or no impact on our daily lives. (Brian, be calm). Apparently, not long ago our fearless leader made a few comments concerning Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe’s fearless leader) at the UN. The result? Canadians entering the country now pay a $75.00 single entry fee. Americans pay $45.00 for a double entry fee. As it happens most of our group will exit Zimbabwe only to return to get to the airport. Another $75.00 entry fee is required for the hour or two we will be back in the country. Thanks Stevie. No doubt the comments made at the UN were well deserved but who knew a Zimbabwean despot could influence election outcomes in Canada?

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Another Day, Another Country

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

After a leisurely breakfast at our hotel

We departed Victoria Falls and drove for about an hour to the border crossing from Zimbabwe into Botswana for the final leg of our journey. (Final for most, but several in our group carry on to the Okavango Delta for yet more TIA adventure).

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