Travel Blog: Pride of Africa
Liz Pearl @PK Press
This was most definitely a bucket list trip and it exceeded my expectations. South Africa is a country filled with cultural, bio and eco-diversity, natural beauty, and a checkered if not ignominious political history. South Africa is a fascinating country that remains multicultural, multiethnic and multiracial. It was interesting to learn about the origins of Afrikaans as well as the British and Dutch cultural influences seen in architecture and heard in language. We were fortunate to meet several professional national tour guides eager to share a wealth of knowledge and charm. All of the SA natives we encountered were friendly.
On my personal Facebook page I shared many incredible sights captured in photographs. The (borrowed) binoculars were ideal for zooming in on the fine detail of wildlife, flora and fauna. However, the natural habitat of wildlife can truly only be fully appreciated in person‒up close and personal. The abundance and variety of brightly coloured flowers and brilliantly camouflaged animals are beyond imagination. The Cape Peninsula’s coastline is decorated with giant Pink Protea (SA’s National flower) and eye-catching Blue Jacaranda sub-tropical trees blooming with indigo-coloured flowers. The iridescent blue feathers of a blue-eared Starling, and the bold leopard spotted-pattern are sights to behold. It’s easy to get caught up in bird watching. Not to mention the action clips: leopards mating, African wild dogs running as a hunting pack, hungry hyenas and vultures chomping on a bloodied impala carcass. These action-packed daily safari scenes are way beyond Disney. A day on safari is an entertaining drama of unfolding adventure and natural beauty including moments of surprise, awe and serenity. Of course, some sights are difficult to appreciate; the work of predators is not a pretty sight (or smell). We learned so much about wildlife including: mating rituals, fresh tracks, symbiosis and dung!
It’s easy to indulge in the liberating sense of glory in this free and wild place far removed from the crowded and polluted urban jungles. Seeing The Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and Cape buffalo); The Little Five (ant lion, leopard tortoise, elephant shrew, rhino beetle and buffalo weaver; The Ugly Five (hyena, wildebeest, vulture, warthog and the marabou stork); and many other lesser known species roaming freely in their natural habitats is truly awesome.
The usual flawless glossy wildlife postcards, vibrant African printed art, and my personal favourite: a classic khaki Rogue Safari hat (“made in Africa for the African outdoors”), which in fact, I wore every day. In the bush, the summer heat is scorching and the sub-Saharan sun is intense. The unique art handcrafted by the natives (indigenous black artists) is detailed and creative, including intricate metalwork, beading, basketry and weaving.
Cape Town, “The Mother City”–the coastal city in the Western Cape is attractive, diverse and metropolitan. We enjoyed the tourist sights and regions (Table Mountain, Castle of Good Hope, Company Gardens, Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, Bo Kaap, Clifton Beach, etc.), and the hospitality offered by locals. We stayed in Camps Bay where we relished the Atlantic Ocean views, the sandy beaches, and the trendy restaurants and boutiques. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is a one-of-a-kind real-life “Secret Garden” UNESCO site.
The Cape Peninsula is truly magnificent with diverse landscapes, vegetation and wildlife. We toured the popular rocky Cape of Good Hope, Chapman’s Peak, and Boulder’s Bay etc. Of course, the adorable African black-footed penguins are a crowd pleaser. It’s a pure joy to observe the “Jackass” colony.
Safari is a unique experience for wildlife and nature lovers. We enjoyed hours of early morning and late afternoon open roof jeep rides in two distinct private Game Reserves: Timbavati and Sabi Sabi, located within Kruger National Park. The safari terrain includes thick bush, dried-up river beds and open savannah. The Panorama Route between the two regions is heavenly (includes God’s Window) and many other memorable vistas along the way. Highly recommended. Riding in the customized jeep Land Rover we can see as far as the horizon‒picturesque sunsets to be treasured with quenching sundowner drinks and gourmet snacks. The iconic Tree of Life (Baobab) is seen throughout the African Savannah. The luxury safari lodges are seducing with soft neutral tones and textures highlighting the African Bushveld (sub-tropical woodland eco-region of Southern Africa.) In each camp the lodges were impeccably decorated, the rangers were very knowledgeable and keen, and the accompanying trackers were exceedingly skilled. The food is plentiful and delicious.
Favourite sightings: gentle giant giraffes, intelligent elephants, lazy hippos, enormous rhinos, graceful impalas, muddy hippos submerged in the water hole, calves and cubs of many species, mischievous baboons (Rafiki), nasty clan of spotted-hyenas (Shenzi, Banzai and Ed), nimble nyalas and kudus, striped zebras (African wild horses), colourful red-billed Hornbill (Zazu), grande herd of Cape buffalos, unattractive warthog (Pumbaa), and unfortunately we did spot the unusual looking aardvark (Arthur).
If I had to pick a favourite, I’d say the magnificent Lion Pride resting in the shade in a perfect family portrait position (Mufasa, Sarabi, Simba and Nala). There is no question as to who is the Lion King. This majestic scene is reminiscent of Disney and National Geographic.
Decadent food and drink: fine SA wines produced in the lush Constantia and Franschhoek Valleys, Cape Port, Shiraz, Pinotage, and many more. A feast for the senses: red, white and bubbly wines paired with rich chocolates, sweet chewy nougats and creamy artisanal cheeses. Our tastebuds are awakened with sweet, salty, zesty, scented and textured gourmet delicacies. Way too much eating and drinking on our visits to lovely countryside winery estates. And an abundance of fertile land sprouting indigenous flowers and assorted fruit trees. Bliss.
- To satisfy my interest in safari wildlife I will follow SabiSabi Instagram and blog.
- I’m so excited for the 2019 release of Disney’s live-action The Lion King featuring a star-studded cast including Beyoncé as Nala. (I have seen the original movie and theatre production too many times).
- I’m looking forward to creating an extensive photo book with colourful photos and captions–travel memento.
- I can’t wait to start planning my next bucket list trip. There is so much beauty in the world to explore.