A road trip through South Africa.
Virtual 10-day itinerary:
- Cape Town
- Cape Peninsula National Park
- Wine Route
- Panorama Route
- Kruger Park
With a flight we leave for Munich airport and at speed we are able to take a photo of the tail of our South African Airways plane with the colors of the South African flag, then we immediately run to the gate so as not to miss our connection. Destination: Cape Town or Cape Town, South Africa.
We land at lunchtime and after a stop at the hotel for luggage storage, we go out for a tour of the city. It's late April, the weather is gray but it's not cold, more or less like our early autumn. We head towards the Castle of Good Hope, a Dutch fort built by the East India Company as a stopover to the east for the supply of ships bound for the Spice Islands. We then continue towards the Museum of Natural History where the origin of the African people and their wildlife is represented, through life-size plaster specimens, with a real leap back to prehistoric times with a truly realistic atmosphere.
We do not miss a visit to Bo Kaap, also known as the Maltese neighborhood, highly regarded for its brightly colored houses and a joyful atmosphere. The neighborhood is located on the slopes of the hills near Table Mountain.
The next day we wake up early and head towards the Cape Peninsula National Park where we sail towardsIsle of Seals aboard a boat.
Here they are up close, the seals, many, looking for rest after a fishing trip and with a full belly.
We leave for the Cape of Good Hope, the extreme tip of Africa, where the two oceans meet: Indian and Atlantic. In reality the southernmost point is another, Cape Agulhas, but the fame is all for the Cape of Good Hope, which for the sailors of the past represented the point most exposed to the fury of the sea.
The sky has cleared up and the sun makes the colors of the Cape even more suggestive, from the top of the coast the show is even more breathtaking. We would like to take a dip in that sea but it is not the ideal season and time is running out. We leave a piece of heart here and head to Simon's Town at the Boulders beach to meet the much desired Cape penguins, the size of a duck.
Very nice, you would not stop observing them, and up close they make themselves look curious and now accustomed to the walkways of visitors who cross the colony on the wooden piers to avoid disturbing them excessively.
We continue our virtual trip to South Africa and leave Cape Town for a day to explore the Garden Route and Wine Route. On the outskirts of the city, after leaving behind the last neighborhoods farthest from the center with brick houses, we come across the first slum. Our gaze falls on an infinite expanse of sheet metal shacks that sees no end, not even on the horizon.
The contradiction in South Africa is as remarkable as the color of its people's skin: black and white. Excess is very close to poverty, sometimes a few meters or a few kilometers are enough to change view.
We thus reach our first winery on the Wine Route to taste the South African wine obtained from vines from Europe, probably planted there by the Dutch since 1600. We also stop at Stellenbosch, a small and nice colonial-style town, full of centuries-old trees that fill the streets. To quench our thirst, we enter a place frequented by the numerous students of the University of the city, one of the most important in South Africa.
Upon returning to Cape Town, at the end of the day, we admire from the Garden Route Robben Island, the island infamous for having been the prison of anti-apartheid activists, such as Nelson Mandela.
Let's also take a last look at the Table Mountain which finally shows itself in all its splendor, free from the clouds that very often hide its flat summit, which it is difficult to admire.
The next day we leave Cape Town and take the flight to Johannesburg where we stop only for the night and a short tour of the city, strictly by taxi to avoid inconveniences for our safety, as suggested by the local guide. We stop for dinner in one of the clubs in the center, where we taste crocodile meat accompanied by African music and we let ourselves go wild dancing. The next morning we wake up early and with the sun on our back we head towards the region of Mpumalanga.
On the way we stop to visit a Ndebele village with the typical colored geometric representations that characterize the facades of their thatched-roof buildings. The murals of the houses are painted by the Ndebele women also adorned with bright colors and dedicated to the creation of crafts in colored beads.
Thus begins the Panorama Route and we run into the Lone Creek Falls, majestic waterfalls immersed in a spectacular forest area just a few steps from the main road. The waterfall has a height of almost 70 meters.
We proceed on the Panorama Route and meet a South African fruit peddler.
We continue our journey on the panoramic road and reach the most spectacular point of our panoramic route: the God's window and Pinnacle.
The next stage stops at Potholes. The fresh water pools gathered in a deep canyon that looking at them from above seem to have been carefully designed by a skilled painter.
More villages, more dances, more Africa, more traditions.
Il Blyde River Canyon gives us another wonder: the Mac Mac Falls, two twin waterfalls.
We conclude our Panorama Route reaching the village Pilgrim's Rest. A dive into the past of the miners engaged in their unbridled gold rush of the 1800s. Every house, every shop, every office has been restored with the style of the time. Even the interiors, furnishings and equipment are the same. It seems to be catapulted into the feverish era of hunting for the most precious asset of the time, among brigands, gold diggers and women of dubious interest.
We wake up early in the morning and after a quick breakfast we face the longest journey of our South Africa tour. Destination, nothing less than: Kruger Park!
Between sun and rain, we cross the prairies and villages of the wonderful Mpumalanga region. We begin to glimpse the African bush, the typical vegetation of the nature reserve, where 4 days of safari will await us in search of the big five.
The long road we have traveled ends in front of our lodge inside a Private Reserve of the Kruger Park. The lodge built in wood is in perfect harmony with the vegetation in which it is immersed.
The rangers are waiting for us for our first late afternoon safari until sunset, to start enjoying the wilder side of our virtual trip to South Africa.
We leave on board our jeep and we begin to see the first animals.
It is night and the ranger invites us to follow a night hunt for lions, lionesses for the truth. We accept the challenge. Absolute silence, remote observation, it takes time, we move away and patiently wait, we turn off the headlights, we hear a sudden rustle, more and more loud, the dust rises, the noise has the sound of an escape, a race against time . It ends with a new grave silence. That of the captured prey. It is cruel but it is vital. We are indescribably fascinated.
We go out again at dawn, it's cold, we cover ourselves with the blankets that we find on the jeep, but the sun rises early in Africa and in no time at all the heat makes itself felt fiercely. We continue with our safari.
Last evening stop of our safari in South Africa. We go out in the hope of meeting the king of the forest: the lion. So hard to see, so shy and lonely. But during our break for a short brunch, we hear the roar of a lion in the distance. Powerful, deep, it seems close, but the ranger reassures us - "It's not ... But let's get in the jeep right away!" - he tells us, perhaps as a precaution or perhaps to run to find him among the vegetation. Who knows.
After a long time we can catch a glimpse of it. By now the sun has set and it is dark, we follow it for a short distance, it greets us with a powerful roar and so we go away.
Here it is in all its royalty.
The next sunrise we go out for our last morning safari and continue to fill our eyes with animals and vegetation.
Thus ends our virtual trip to South Africa, we leave Kruger Park and take the flight that takes us home. With regret we leave a piece of our heart in Africa, here in the midst of the wildest nature. And the Sickness of Africa enters the stomach. Now we understand what it is.