PART TWO: SOUTH AFRICA (and Swaziland)
The number one place I wanted to take Hannah to was the Cheetah Experience. I went here last year and since that day dreamed of getting to take her. We lost a full day but I told her that if this was the only thing we would do in her time here then it would still be worth it. I think she agreed afterwards, but luckily things were even more amazing as we went on. Hover over the picture to see the full caption.
We hitched to pick up our car in Bloemfontein and were off to begin a new part of out journey.
First stop: Cheetah Experience.
We saw male lions.
Male lions are always lazy unless they are on Nat Geo for some reason.
We spent some time with caracals (sometimes called the African lynx)
Very friendly animals as long as you’re on their good side
Play time with cervals, too. When this one jumped to catch the rope, it was completely above Hannah. Cervals can leap 7-10ft in the air!
Hannah got a little choked up being with such an incredible animal
These beautiful animals are tamed but not domesticated.
These guys were pretty energetic.
Play hard, rest hard is these cheetah’s motto.
Leopards and cheetahs are easily confused but once you know the differences, you’ll never forget: The leopards spots are called rosettes, they are more of a cluster of black spots with a dark brown spot in the middle. The cheetahs spots are a solid black dot. The leopard is built for strength so it is very solid and stocky, with shorter legs. The cheetah is built for speed, so it is very slender with long legs. The leopard is nocturnal, so it is more active at night. The cheetah is diurnal, so more active during the day.
Baby leopards and caracals are playmates until a certain point when the leopard becomes stronger and can hurt the caracal by only meaning to play.
One of my favorite pictures of the day
I can imagine this little guy ever hunting anything down. If I saw him I’d lay down and invite him over to play.
This baby black leopard kept sneak attacking me when I turned my back on him or knelt down. Good thing he’s nearly harmless.
Black leopard are my favorite animal.
Cheetah Experience scores you major points with the girlfriend.
From there we drove as far as we could make it towards Cape Town. The 11+ hour drive there is flat and uninteresting for the most part. ALMOST as boring as Kansas, Nebraska or one of those other states no one really cares to ever pass through more than once:
This car gave me awesome Walter Mitty vibes.
The strangest and most eerie mountains. Winding roads through misty mountains with the occasional family of baboons running across the road.
This was one of my favorite drives along the Garden Route.
A running joke in Cape Town is that it has four seasons—sometimes in the same day. It rained the first two day we were there and I found the town VERY frustrating (it earned its very own post coming up soon).
Looking west at the Atlantic Ocean towards the US.
Anywhere you go, there are reminders of South African Apartheid. In many ways, it still exists. The South African Museum is a diamond mind packed full of paleontology, zoology, archaeology, photography, and so much more. One could spend a week exploring it and still struggle to take it all in. I’d visit Cape Town again just for this museum.
It’s all sunshine and rainbows from here on out.
Our last day in Cape Town was sunny and the city under the sun is much more exciting.
Lion’s Head can be seen from anywhere in the city. Unfortunately we weren’t able to hike it because of the rain.
Hiking Table Mountain was also on the list but we decided to head on to the famous Garden Route.
We started claiming the ‘best house’ on the coast in Hout Bay coming out of Cape Town. I think Hannah upgraded her house every few seconds because they just got bigger and better as we went on.
It looked like a wave could literally sweep away a house at any given moment.
Hannah: “Has there been a single meal that wasn’t a burger Me: “Nope, I don’t think so.” My love for burgers rivals Hannah’s love for popcorn.
Cape Town 2015.
Ocean spray is really cool when you can capture it on camera. It’s really hard but we tried for a long time.
Such a captivating drive.
But watch out for the baboons!
Our attempt to do a beer/wine tasting failed the first time through Stellenbosch, but we redeemed ourselves and did it on the way out of the Eastern Cape.
Oh, you think you fancy, huh?
We hung out with Mandela in several different places (I think this is actually in Pretoria).
2015. Our classic backpack shot.
The Indian Ocean is much warmer than the Atlantic.
Abby, Hannah’s awesome little sister, just turned 20 so we celebrated her birthday with the African penguins in Simon’s Town.
Check out those funny little guys.
After having been around penguins roaming around making noises, I have to say that penguins and pigeons compete for the least entertaining birds alive. Hannah and I never could agree which was more lame.
I think he was more interested in me than me of him. That’s not true, but he looks very intrigued, doesn’t he?
We thought the Cape of Good Hope was the southern-most point on the African continent. We ended up detouring over 75 miles just to get to this sign.
This is the Bloukrans Bridge. We drove across this bridge and when we got to the other side, I jumped off of it head first and fell for 600 feet!
I hope to post the video of my bungee jump soon!
It’s great getting to know people. We got to know the person running the hostel we stayed at when Hannah first arrived in Pretoria, and she invited us to stay with her for a night just outside of Mossel Bay. The house was right on the shore and the sound of waves were relaxing all through the night.
Amazing part of the trip was hanging out with Rosie. She’s from South Africa but just so happened to be going to Texas A&M with Hannah this fall so we spent a few days with her. Small world.
We picked up shells for hours it seems.
Muizenberg was a small town with a lot to offer. Nestled right in the armpit of False Bay, lots of surfers and whale watchers flock to this area.
Don’t ever forget about the baboons crossing.
KFC runs the streets here the way Wal-Mart and McDonald’s does in the States. Every other block there is a KFC.
We continued up the coast and spent a few days in Durban where we got really good, cheap Indian food, and a few other places. It was all beautiful and worth spending time in. We went through Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve north of Richard’s Bay where we got stuck in a mud puddle for a couple of hours. One car stumbled up on us and freaked out that we were outside the car trying to wedge sticks under the wheels. He said lions were just spotted in the area and that we should be on the lookout. We didn’t unfortunately see any lions, but we still got to see a lot of things. We also went through the Isimangaliso Wetland Park just northeast of that. I’ll keep this brief; almost as brief as our trip through Swaziland:
Zebras puzzle me. I look at them and see a horse/donkey, but with a really nice hair-do.
Not too sure what this is, but it was big.
Now that I think about it, a lot of big game looks weird.
White rhinos are what’s up, though. We saw quite a few of them. This one was about 10-15 meters from the car
“Well I guess there’s multiple ways of doing a safari.” -Hannah
The silhouettes of these trees are phenomenal.
There’s a Pumba with a missing tusk.
St. Lucia has hippos walking around residential areas, sleeping in people’s yards.
I’m on a path to nowhere.
We drove through Swaziland for about 4 hours, during the night and only stopped once to take a picture of the ‘Welcome to Swaziland’ sign. That picture and the stamps on our passports are the only things we got. We basically extended our trip by almost 6 hours just to say, “we’ve been in Swaziland.” It wasn’t worth it.
Hannah is back in the U.S. starting graduate school at Texas A&M while I finish my last year of Peace Corps. One more year apart before I come back to the States. We both agreed we were okay with small amounts of time apart, but never 1-year plus again after this.
Till next time,
Jody and Hannah