Saturday, June 18, 2016

South Africa - June '16

Day 1 - Cape Town
We took a 11D8N guided tour to South Africa in June, which is the beginning of winter.  Temperature is generally between 8 to 18 degree celsius with some colder days. We flied to Cape Town from Singapore via Johannesburg. SG to Joburg, 10.5 hrs,  Cape Town to Joburg, 1 hr plus.

Cape Town city tour - Parliament House, City Hall

Castle of Good Hope

Table Mountain at the backdrop

During the apartheid days, the houses of the coloured people (non-black nor white) were not supposed to have house number.  Houses were differentiated by colours.

Police patrolling on horses

After the city tour, we adjourned to an Ostrich Farm for ostrich lunch

Ostrich meat and egg for lunch.  The meat is quite tough.  Ostrich meat and egg is supposed to be low in cholestrol

Cable car ride to Table Mountain - One of the New 7 Wonders of the World.  The other new wonders include Halong Bay and Jeju Island

One of the world's 3 rotating cable car

The guide told us that 40% of the time the mountain is not accessible due to strong wind.  We were fortunate to be able to visit the top though the mountain was quite misty.

Day 2 - Cape Peninsula
Scenic drive through Sea Point, Clifton Beach, Camps Bay, Hout Bay

Boat trip to Duiker Island for seal watching

Scenic drive through Chapman's Peak

Lobster lunch at Fish Hoek

Very sweet and fresh oysters - 130 Rands for 6 (approx S$13)

Simon Town, Boulders Beach - African penguin watch

Unlike penguins in Australia which appear at dusk, African penguins appear during the day

Cape Point Nature Reserve - took a funicular ride to hillcrest of Cape of Good Hope.  This place is the most southern tip of South Africa 

Day 3 - Wine land of Western Cape
Birds of Prey Centre

Walking tour at the pretty township - Stellenbosch with the backdrop of the Hollentots Holland Mts, oak lined streets and lanes

Wine Tasting and lunch at the scenic and award winning Lanzerac vineyard.  Chocolate was paired with the wine.  Pinotage is the award winning wine of the vineyard.

Lunch and dessert was very satisfying

The scenery at the vineyard was awesome

South Africa national flower

The restaurant with a fireplace

Squatters along the highway.  The box like structures are communal toilets. 20 people shared one toilet and electricity is mostly tapped illegally

The 10 minutes helicopter ride over Cape Town was fun

Helicopter view of Signal Hill, Lion's Head and Table Mt

Helicopter view of Cape Town Stadium which hosted the world cup - can sit 60,000

12 Apostles (SA's version)

Shopping at Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. Most of the shops at the mall carry Australia brand.  The whole place has an Australian vibes.

A quaint, old school and luxurious barber shop

Day 4 - Cape Town to Johannesburg
We took an early morning flight from Cape Town to Joburg - about 1 hrs plus

The Voortrekker Monument - commemorate the Battle of Blood River in 1838

Pretoria city tour - Kruger House Museum, Church Square, City Hall, State Theatre and Opera House. SA has 3 capitals -legislative, judicial and administrative capital and 2 parliaments, north and south. Pretoria is one of the capitals.

These look like public housing

Statue of Mr Nelson Mandela

Day 5 - Sun City
1st Game drive at Pilanesberg National Park.  The drive started at early morning 6 am.  Temperature was below 10 degree - around 5 to 8 degree, I guessed.

This was the most fruitful trip amongst the 4 game drives we had in search of the Big 5. We managed to sight 3 of the Big 5s - lions, rhinos, elephants.  We didn't manage to catch the other 2 - leopard and buffalo. They are the 5 most ferocious animals in SA, thus the name Big 5.  The chance of sighting buffalo is far and rare.  The ranger told us at time he could not sight any buffalo for 4 months.

Sun City Main Hotel which we stayed. Nice hotel with comfortable beds though pillows too flat.

Cascade Hotel

High tea at the majestic Palace Hotel.  Only patrons and hotel guests are allowed to enter the hotel.  The guard at the entrance checked like a hawk.

Food was not fantastic but the ambience, pretty cutlery more than make up for the lacklustre buffet spread plus the price is cheap by Singapore standard - 235 rand (approx S$23)

The restaurant manager, at our request, agreed to take us up to King's Tower, which is supposed to have a panoramic view of the whole resort.  Unfortunately the tower was closed for renovation.  The manager had kindly brought us to this inner court for photo taking.

Day 6 - Entabeni Game Reserve
We arrived at Entabeni after 3 hours plus drive from Sun City. We drove through a stretch of gravel road, alighted from the coach and transferred to a jeep that took us to our lodge, the Ravineside Lodge. The reception and dinning area is separated from the accommodation. We are not allowed to walk to our accommodation.  The ranger will drive us back and forth to our accommodation for safety reason.

The lodge we stayed, in the midst of wilderness.  3 lodges plus one common area are built in one cluster. Some of our tour mates heard trampling of elephants/rhino (?) outside their lodge at night.

2nd Game Drive - late afternoon drive upon arrival at Entabeni Game Reserve. It was drizzling that afternoon.  The drive was from 4pm to 6pm plus.  Sun set around 5pm.  It was freezing cold.  I guessed the temperature that night could be close to zero degree celsius. Not a very fruitful drive as the animals are usually not active in cold weather.

We sighted an awesome sight - a herd of wildebeests

The hippos refused to surface from the water

Day 7 - Entabeni
Entabeni Mountain
3rd Game drive - morning drive after breakfast

Wildlife Centre for endangered species - white lion

Pedi village 

The dining area of the lodge we stayed

4th Game drive - afternoon drive.  The 2 days stay at the game reserve was really "hard work"- we kept having meals and more game drive after each meal......:)

Basking in the beauty and wonder of nature 

Day 9 - Johannesburg
We took a 4 hours drive back to Joburg and had lunch at Carnivore Restaurant -Africa's Greatest Eating Experience - a selection of grilled game including zebra, crocodile, impala

Lesedi Cultural Village - guided tour of the homesteads of 5 natives - 
Zulu, Xhosa, Bosotho, Ndebele, Pedi

We had early dinner after the cultural show at Lesedi Village before returning to the hotel at Joburg.  We took an afternoon flight the following day to fly back to Singapore.  Overall, it was a good trip.  Lots to eat (too much, meat especially, indeed), made some new friends and have a better understanding of the beautiful land of South Africa.

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