|March 2-4, 2005
|We return to Johannesburg and stay with Annie and Ken again with Liz continuing on home to Cape Town.
I can never get enough of Ken's amazing Brai - spelled with a capital 'B' now. Evelyn is longing for a real
bed and shower. Again we take full advantage of their generous hospitality. Again we stay but one night,
then we are off to Kruger National Park - with Annie and the Brai-master, Ken. Kruger is South Africa's
best national park, containing thousands of wild African animals. Having just returned from the Serengeti,
Annie was truly concerned that we'd be disappointed when comparing parks. Annie need not be
concerned. Between Annie's hospitality, Ken's brai's and amazing stories, and the ultra-modern camping
facilities offered in Kruger, our three day trip to Kruger was in many ways more memorable the Serengeti.
|March 8-28, 2005
|If you want to see the true color of any country. Drive through the country. Petrol and car rentals are expensive in South
Africa; so, we rented the smallest, most economical car that offered a trunk. Ford Ikon. Every low-end economy car has it's
fair share of problems, this car had those problems, and then some. But this isn't the story of car maintenance, but instead
of our three weeks drive from Johannesburg to Cape Town. This journey will take us thru Lesotho, down to Durban,
through the Wild-coast, the Garden Route, and eventually arriving on Liz's front step in Cape Town.
|Organizing any trip has its challenges, but how does one pack for three weeks for a
trip through a country that one has never visited. Evelyn and I each packed our small
luggage plus backpacks and Allan left his large suitecase in Jo'burg. And we still
felt cramped in the car. We managed to leave Jo'burg with only small problems (we
travelled North instead of South getting on the highway), and made fairly good time
once on the highway. Day 1 had Allan crossing the Lesotho border for a passport
stamp, then driving until dusk where we stopped at the first of many wonderful B&Bs.
|Our original plans were to stay at the Little Switzerland one night one. Lucky for
us, we didn't arrive by sunset. A not so special hotel that costs $200 per night
instead of the $40 per night we paid at the B&B. This was a hotel that made
money from conventions, not the average traveller to stray by.
We spent our first night in Fouriesburg at Mountain View B&B owned by Richard
and Dot Salmon. Richard and Dot were great hosts, Richard ran out to greet us
when we drove up the long drive to their home and B&B. They had lived in the US
for 27 years and had lots to discuss with us. Dot cooked a huge breakfast for us
and another couple the next morning.
|The evening of Day 2 had us arriving in Durban North to visit Evelyn's cousins, Lee
and Tristan. This time, our driving problems came from improper directions.
Follow highway 7 until it merges with such-and-such road. The end of the
highway had us driving around downtown Durban where KFCs could be found
every 100 feet. And every building looked deserted or ready for demolition. Not a
nice introduction to Durban. We checked our map of Durban, and with a few
twists and turns were able to exit the downtown Durban area and find our way to
Lee and Tristan's home in a more affluent neighborhood of Durban. Of course,
we had a brai that evening.
|Double click on any
photo to enlarge.
|Of course, no trip to Durban would be without a stop at Umshlanga Rocks, the new casino, Sibaya for a live
stage performance or a visit to the new Usharka Marine World. I mean what else can your typical tourist do?
Durban is relatively unknown outside of South Africa. Durban is South Africa's third city after Jo'burg and
Cape Town, a tropical town very similar to Hawaii's climate on the Indian Ocean and has yet to be discovered
by most travellers.. Lee and Tristan treated us to the high-energy dance performance, "African Foot Print"
and we treated them to a five star dinner at Aqua at the new casino.
|After visiting with Lee and Tristan, we travelled about an hour to visit with one of Ev's uncle - Arthur and his
wife Christine in the Durban area of Hillcrest. Most of our time was spent on the beach, catching lobsters,
and eating muscles. Sounds fun, except from the food poisoning from the muscles.
|And no visit to South Africa, would be without a visit to Lynn and Dudley, Eve's second uncle and wife. With
their quaint oceanside retirement home and extraordinary graciousness.
|Ev & Roy, proprietor, of White Clay
|Next stop: Coffee Bay on the Wild Coast, and the land of
Evelyn's Childhood memories. Pictures are of Evelyn's
boarding school in Umtata (we think). The Petrol station
where we needed to fill-up with petrol since the drive to
Coffee Bay was two hours back and again without known
petrol stations. This is also where Allan struggled 30
minutes to open the gas cap of the evil Ford Ikon. Our
amazing view and dinner at the White Clay Lodge. Lynn,
thank you for arranging our stay with your brother. At
$50/night, White Clay Lodge is the most amazing location
and value to be found on this planet. Our visit down
memory lane also took us to Hole in the Wall, Ocean View
Hotel, and KwaTshezi Lodge, formerly Lagoon Hotel.
|Former Lagoon Hotel
|After Coffee Bay we travel to Ganubie to meet Eddie and Barbara (Shirley's friends) for lunch. New friends
who have traveled the world, including California, and have interesting stories to tell us plus directions to Port
|Unfortunately, we arrive in Port Elizabeth (PE) around dusk, and find ourselves wandering the roads around
PE for two hours before we find ourselves in the beach area. Unfortunately, Eddie's directions were not how
to get to the beach area. This is also the second time that we are forced to drive 10 kilometers on a highway
before finding a turnaround exit. Arriving in PE around 8pm, we find that most of the hotels are fully booked,
and we are forced to stay at an expensive Holiday Inn. A simple room that is twice what we have been paying
for nice B&Bs along the way. We successfully find a restaurant with decent food, and get a good night's
sleep. The next morning we awaken to find that the city of PE has been transformed into the Iron Man
Triathalon arena. We have a leisurely breakfast watching the athletes, but find exiting PE nearly impossible
because of the Triathalon. Two hours are spent driving around PE and discovering all the roads are closed.
Only when we are about to give up and spend a second night trapped in PE, do we find a traffic cop who
explains how to exit the PE road maze onto the highways and freedom.
|From PE, we travel uneventfully to a small community called Nature's Valley. We have decided NOT to drive
around some unknown town this evening, and have stopped in Nature's Valley because the location allows
us a couple of daylight hours to look around at the town. We stop by several B&Bs, but find that all are
booked full except for a quaint little B&B called the "Stay a While". The B&B is run by a retired couple who
tell wonderful stories of how the local baboons broke into their house, casually ate everything from their fruit
bowl while they watch, then casually left the home exiting out the front door. This seemed like a story from
Stephen King, and Evelyn's first reaction was: "The woman puts doilies on all her furniture".
|The couple were not vampires. Instead, we chatted for hours with the couple during breakfast, becoming
good friends, and promising that we would send them photos of us at our first opportunity. But, their story
of the baboon wet my appetite for more simian stories. And by amazing coincidence, Monkeyland was a
short drive up the coast.
Monkeyland is the world's first free roaming multi-specie primate sanctuary. Allan feels that he has gone to
monkey heaven. Hundreds of free roaming monkeys that are each more entertaining than the next. With a
tourist shop that carried enough monkey items to break the back of any Visa or Mastercard.
|Next stop, a location that we dare not tell anyone. This is were we discovered the Phantom Forest Lodge.
Phantom Forest is an Eco-Reserve offering romantic Tree Suites, Body Boma massages, and elegant
We had heard about the Phantom Forest from a fellow traveller in Istanbul, and had pinned hopes on
having dinner at one of the resorts elegant restaurants. Seems we were a month late in making
|Instead, our frugal budget dictated that we stay in a modern B&B
owned by a nice dutch family in Knysna. Here we had a nice seafood
dinner and walked to the movies in the evening.
|The next day we stopped in Arniston. A quiet beach community
recommended Annie and Ken. A quaint spot where B&B's abounded, but
only one had available rooms. A small wanna-be B&B that called itself a
"Bed and Biscuit". We got a nice room with a jar of biscuits - breakfast was
extra. Who would have thought a small little town would be so popular.
|Our final stop on this cross country adventure is:
|TALL WORLD TALES