African Odyssey: Part One

My family and I recently returned from Africa. The three of us visited South Africa, Zambia and Botswana and I’ll be sharing some of my stories and photographs from the road with Vagablond readers. It was an amazing adventure!

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA — This is a beautiful and dynamic city, with more mountains than I ever imagined. We did an all day tour down to the Cape of Good Hope (below); I had no idea it would be so spectacular. Along the way we spotted wild ostriches and yes, plenty of tour buses. Everybody wanted to have their photo taken at the Cape of Good Hope sign.

Following lunch at Bertha’s in Simon’s Town, we went to see the colony of African Penguins (also known as Jackass Penguins as they sound like jackasses…although I didn’t think so). Only 10 percent of the original 1.5 million African Penguins remain today, and at the Boulders (a sheltered cove between Simon’s Town and Cape Point) you can view this vulnerable bird.

Our final stop on the Cape Tour was Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, located on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain about ten miles from Cape Town’s city centre. This is the oldest botanical garden in the world that features indigenous flora. Established in 1913, you’ll walk amidst dozens of gardens, including the spectacular Protea Garden.

South Africa is well known for its wine — it’s been in the grape biz since the late 1600’s when the French Huguenots arrived. We took a day-long guided wine tour to the three main wine regions: Paarl (Seidelberg Wine Estate); Franschoek (La Motte) and Stellenbosch (Thelema Mountain Vineyards). Unfortunately we can’t bring wine back on the plane in our carry-ons due to the “no large liquids” mandate but were able to order a case from Seidelberg that would be shipped through a U.S. distributor.

Winery But back to Cape Town: it truly is stunning, especially the views from Table Mountain. It was sunny and we took the cable car to the top (they closed it down later that afternoon due to high winds) where we hiked around with a 360-degree view. It was very cold, so I popped into a restaurant and warmed up with South Africa’s version of a mocha that’s called a chociccino.

Back outside, I realized I could see both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans at the same time. I also noted that San Francisco is about 10,000 miles from Cape Town. We’re a long way from home!

Table Mountain Yesterday we toured the city and the Victoria and Albert Waterfront where we had a leisurely seafood meal at Baie Seafood Restaurant.
In fact we had such a late lunch that we stayed in our hotel, ordered from Mr. Delivery and watched a movie. We have a spacious two-bedroom suite at the Romney Park Luxury Suites and Wellness Centre located in the Green Point area of Cape Town.

I took advantage of the spa and had a wonderful 90-minute La Stone Therapy massage. Your dollars go far here, and the service was only $70 US. Romney Park also has a wonderful outdoor pool that we enjoyed late one afternoon after a day of touring. Nearby is Ristorante Posticino for pasta, pizza and panini. Dinner for three with wine at the casual neighborhood restaurant was $30 US.

You don’t want to roam around the city at night, it’s not advised. Daytime is fine. Except for a few springtime sprinkles one morning, and a touch of grey now and then, we were mostly met with brilliant skies and matching blue waters during our four days here.

Other city highlights were the Castle of Good Hope; St. George’s Cathedral where Desmond Tutu spoke; Company Gardens; Greenmarket Square in the heart of Cape Town for African curios and handcrafted works of art; and miles and miles of oceanic vistas and high mountains.

romney park

Planning a two-week trip to Africa can seem daunting. I booked ours through African Treks. The affable owner Nadine Bergamyer was born in South Africa and now resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her husband Jeff. She was a pleasure to work with and our trip was glitch free!

Posted by Sue Frause on October 27, 2006 in Travel

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