If you are thinking of going on a short break to Dar Es Salaam, don’t. Nothing of interest exists there bar a port to get to and from Zanzibar and an airport to get the hell away from there! And that’s what I was doing at 4am, heading to South Africa’s Mother City, Cape Town to meet up with Mum and Dad after they had finished their mini cruise along the southern tip of Southern Africa. We were staying with friends (Noon and Graham) in Fish Hoek on the Cape Peninsula 15 miles south of Cape Town for a few days before travelling up to Pretoria, Zambia and then onto Botswana. It was going to be a whirlwind 10 days but I was really looking forward to plus the added bonus of seeing Mum and Dad again, staying in luxury, seeing Victoria Falls and then a river safari in Chobe in Botswana.
Noon and Graham run a small B&B in Fish Hoek overlooking the beautiful bay of Fish Hoek and site of the last fatal shark attack in South Africa. Noon and Graham were amazing hosts guiding us around the Cape on various tours. The following day we took the car round the spectacular and stunning cape. The scenery was dramatic, high cliffs, rolling beaches, big surf and many inlets and small towns providing amazing photographs. We were heading for Boulders Bay where penguins mingle with sun seekers relaxing on the beach. After a beautiful lunch we headed down to the Victoria and Albert waterfront to wander round the shops with Table Mountain towering behind the city providing one of the most amazing backdrops to any city in the world.
The following day we headed out to Cape of Good Hope and walk the steep climb up to Cape Point and up to the lighthouse and bask in the amazing views out to sea and the dazzling coastline. There was to be more climbing and walking to follow the next day as I joined Graham and a few friends to climb Table Mountain in search of a rare orchid called a Dias which only bloomed for a couple of weeks a year. We took the cable car up to the summit of the mountain where we were greeted by a blanket of thick fog, commonly known as the tablecloth. We found the rare pink orchid within two hours and then continued trekking around the top of the mountain for 7hrs.Only after the trek had finished did the cloth and we were blessed with striking views of the Cape Town and Devils Peak below and around us. Time flew by in Cape Town and although we didn’t get out to Robben Island I knew that i would be back to explore Cape Town further as it was fast become one of my favourite cities in the world.
It was time to move further north and head to Pretoria in true style abroad the luxury world renowned Blue Train. I had been on numerous trains in my travels so far, but this was sheer 5* luxury. Instead of the dusty cramped 6 people to a cabin, I had a whole cabin to myself, my own porter and butler and the most amazing food and wine. We departed from Cape Town early morning and soon Table Mountain was disappearing behind us as we headed out through the wineries and out in the mountainous region of central South Africa. The views from the speeding train were again dramatic, high red stoned mountains towering above the grape vines and barren lands around them.
We reached Pretoria on time and in style, where we had a nights rest here before flying to Livingstone in Zambia to see the mighty Victoria Falls. We arrived in Livingston mid morning and were shuttled straight to our hotel. The Zambezi Sun which was an amazing hotel and was only 20m away from the Zambezi River with the falls less than a mile away. We were so close to the falls that you could hear the Mosi-oa-Tunya (the smoke that thunders, ie the falls) from our rooms. David Livingstone discovered the falls for Western civilisation in 1855, but due to platonic shifts they had been there many millions of years before he ventured there. The falls are around 1700m long and 128m tall and are one of the most impressive waterfalls in the world. We took a guided tour from the Zambian side around the very wet viewing areas. They are simply spectacular to feel, see and hear the immense power raging from them. After the tour in the afternoon I decided to do another most thing whilst at the falls – bungee jump over the Batoka Gorge and the Zambezi and right next to the falls. This is the third highest bungee in the world at 111m tall and I was scared, very scared to do both a bungee jump and a bridge swing. Mum and Dad even came along to see if I would do it and survive!! Standing on the platform ready to jump you really question your sanity but a leap of faith and a bit of a scream I was plunging to the river below. One of the most exhilarating, scariest, adrenaline fuelled things I have ever done but I am proud to say I managed it!
My heart beat eventually slowed down by the next day and we were off on our travels again for a short 3 day stopover in Botswana. We were heading for Chobe National Park, situated int he top right hand corner of Botswana and only 3 hours drive from Livingstone. The park is part of the legendary Okavango Delta and is different from most safaris in the fact that most of the game can be observed from a boat. We had two days safari here, one afternoon on the boat and then a whole day in the car around the park. It was an amazing couple of days safari packed with wildlife around the river. The abundance of birdlife is astonishing and we were treated to close up views of the graceful and beautiful African River Eagle to name but one of the many birds spotted. Along the river we spotted many hippos, crocs and big herds of elephants. During the drive through the park the next day we had had close encounters with giraffes, lions, impalas, gazelles and more elephants. We were all very impressed with the abundance of wildlife on show and for me a completely different safari from the Masai. The luxury holiday was over and I was sad to say goodbye to the folks, they had treated me to a once in a life time experience and it was so special to spend time with them and to experience such an amazing trip with them. We all flew back to Johannesburg together and for Mum and Dad to fly back to the UK and me to wait for a week for my friend Sarah to arrive before heading up to Mozambique.