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SOUTH AFRICA March 2015

How do you spend three weeks in South Africa without taking over 2000 photos?
You don't.

However, I will limit the number for this 'report'.
A group of eight 'Hippie Seniors' travelled with Latitude 31 on the 'You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet Tour'. We stayed in cabins, backpacker hotels, houses and B&B's. Our transportation was a ten-seat Toyota van with a trailer.
Our two guides, Bertus and Jeff, gave us a thorough and complete overview of the beautiful and complicated country of South Africa.


South Africa is ANIMALS. We stayed three nights in Kruger National Park and visited a reserve where we saw all of the BIG 5.


There are so many more than the BIG 5.
During the trip, we encountered, up close and very personal, many of the animals and birds we have only seen in zoos.

These are photos that I took!


You might think there is nothing that could top the creatures of South Africa, but not so.
From Johannesburg we flew to Port Elizabeth on the southern coast. The Garden Route, the southwest area of the country around Capetown, has some of the most varied and breathtaking scenery I've ever seen.
The coast, which includes both the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean has the bluest blues, the wildest surfing waves and rockiest coastline I've ever hiked.


Within these oceans swim the most impressive creatures you can imagine. We did an excursion titled 'Swimming with the Great Whites'. Since I am writing this, I did survive, although the photos might make you wonder why I didn't at least have a heart attack.

And on the edges of the ocean reside some of nature's most precious creatures.
We visited one of two mainland colonies of wild Jackass penguins.
Away from the coast, South Africa encompasses many different types of scenery and plants. On our many hikes we enjoyed rivers,


waterfalls,
colourful plants,



mountains,



and caves!

No trip to South Africa would be complete without some tastings and purchasing of South African wine, brandy and olive oil.




The trip had special moments including cooking and eating an ostrich egg
(the equivalent of twenty-four chicken eggs),
'riding' an ostrich,
visiting the largest Rastafarian community outside Jamaica,
delicious and cheap restaurant experiences,

and some of the most beautiful skies I have ever viewed.


But no visit to South Africa can escape the politics. The Apartheid museum in Johannesburg was powerful and disturbing. It was an emotional visit to Nelson Mandela's stark cell in the former prison on Robben Island. The Townships are troubling and distressing. Although I never felt afraid during the trip, we were all very aware of the heightened feeling of unease and watchfulness. Security guards, razor wire and guard dogs were common. Even in free restaurant parking lots Bertus paid someone to keep an eye on our van and trailer.

I leave you with one of my favourite photos. We were stopped for road construction. This enterprising woman was selling fruit to the occupants of the cars.


I am so glad that I got to visit this remarkable, distinctive, extraordinary country.


TIPS for this type of trip:

1. Travel with a guide or a tour company to ensure your safety at all times. Be cautious, but not paranoid.

2. Because the animals are not always (but sometimes) right up close to your vehicle, take a camera with a good zoom capability to ensure you can get close and clear photos. I used a Canon digital point and shoot with a small lens (and I love the resulting colours and clarity).

3. A steak or seafood dinner with an alcoholic drink was often the equivalent of $10!!!



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