Friday, July 26, 2019

Our African Safari May 2019

Travel Quote:  "Africa changes you forever, like nowhere on earth.  Once you have been there, you will never be the same.  But how do you begin to describe the magic to someone who has never felt it?  How can you explain the fascination of this vast, dusty continent, whose oldest roads are elephant paths?  Could it be because Africa is the place of all our beginnings, the cradle of mankind, where our species first stood upright on the savannahs of long ago?"  -- Brian Jackman


I didn't let the grass grow much under my feet after returning home from South America.  About a month, actually.  At the end of April, my good friend and fellow hiker, Bobbie, and I traveled to South Africa for a 2 week safari adventure.  Trip of a lifetime for Bobbie, especially.  She's a little senior of my senior........

We flew from Sacramento through Atlanta on Delta to Johannesburg, South Africa.  Spent a day there (not long enough) and then flew on to Victoria Falls, where we spent 3 nights.

We saw the Falls (really nice, but IMHO not nearly as spectacular as Iguazu Fall in Brazil/Argentina), took a lovely sunset cruise on the Zambezi River, and did a day water/land safari in Botswana in Chobe National Park. 

It was near the end of our time in Victoria Falls that Bobbie began feeling a bit tired and under the weather.  Cough, sore throat, ear ache, overall malaise.  We flew on to the Kruger area and got settled in at our lodge at Kambuku Sands.  We spent 4 nights there.  There was a total of 8 safari/game drives - 2 each day.  Bobbie managed two of them, then she really started to go downhill.  At one point we arranged for her to be taken to a doctor in the nearby town (45 minutes away by car)..  He said she had a respiratory infection, gave her antibiotics and said to rest.  They didn't help and by the end of our stay there, she was really sick.  The staff at Kambuku were wonderful - while I was out on safari, they came to our suite and brought Bobbie food and tea and juices, and did the same again at night when I would be at the lodge with the other guests having dinner.  I was really worried about her, but there was little I could do, and she would shoosh me out in the mornings and late afternoons to go on the game drives so she could sleep in relative peace and quiet. 

I knew I had to get her to our next and final destination of Cape Town, because there were better medical facilities there.  But I also was afraid if the airlines saw she was really sick that they'd deny us boarding.  And then we'd be up the proverbial creek without a paddle.  So I arranged with our travel insurance company (YES, people, BUY THE INSURANCE!!!) to be met at the airport and then taken to a private hospital in Cape Town.  I told Bobbie that she needed to muster all of whatever strength and fortitude that she had and try to act well enough, long enough, to get us on the plane and on to Cape Town.  Well, she did it.  And we got her to the hospital and then she spent the next 8 1/2 days in intensive care there, with severe pneumonia and a raging ear infection, secondary to the pneumonia.  It was scary.  But the hospital took excellent care of her - her doctors were terrific and she soon turned the corner and started feeling better. 

In the meantime, I would spend early mornings with her at the hospital, then go off for awhile and tour around the city, then come back late in the day and spend a couple more hours with her, then head back to the hotel.  We stayed an extra 4 days because of her illness, so I was able to see a lot more of Cape Town than I had ever imagined.  It's truly a wonderful city and the surrounding areas are also lovely.

The travel insurance company (Generali Insurance, btw) was absolutely terrific and if not for them reaching out to me constantly and letting me know what to do, etc. I might have stressed myself out as well and would surely have had one or two meltdowns.  They also arranged for a nurse escort for us on the flight home, which made both Bobbie and me feel more comfortable, knowing we had medical care available inflight. 

In spite of the medical troubles, both Bobbie and I enjoyed our trip immensely.  She did get to see all of the "Big 5" before she became too ill, and other than missing Cape Town, she said she had no regrets at all. 

I've posted a lot of pictures.....get a cuppa and sit awhile.  I hope you'll enjoy them.


Thanks, Delta, for getting us here safely!!

This is President Mandela's home in J-Burg.  People still come by and place small stones alongside his property, as a sign of respect.

Arriving in Victoria Falls - what a greeting!


 Just a normal afternoon in town - warthogs crossing the road

A Day at the Falls

It gets really wet at the Falls!!

 You can bungee jump from this bridge.  See the rope?

 A really cool chair carved from local wood

Chobe National Park Day Trip
In the morning, we took a boat safari and saw a lot of elephants (Bobbie's favorite), birds and hippos. And a few Cape Buffalo.  We had a nice buffet lunch at a restaurant then loaded into jeeps for a land safari in the afternoon, where we saw a lot of zebra and impalas.  


Time to fly to Kruger!!

The road into our Lodge property

 Local watering hole

 View from the lodge pool

Our bungalow


Hammock - nap time!  (in retrospect, I think this is when Bobbie   really started to go downhill.....)

After our first 2 game drives, Bobbie and I had already seen plenty of the Big 5 - Cape Buffalo, Lion, Leopard, Elephant and Rhino. 

I love how birds attach themselves onto the cape buffalo.  They like to eat the little insects and bugs that are on the buffalo's hide.

Kudu.  Aren't their horns amazing?

My favorite - the lions

Waterbucks - I call them bullseye butts.

I loved the African Painted Wolves, also known as the African Wild Dog. 

Peek a boo!

Zebras and giraffes often hang out together

Isn't this a beautiful bird?  It's a lilac breasted roller

Yellow bill hornbill

 Look how close the male lion is to the vehicle!!

White crown shrike bird

She was yawning.....

 The bird in the tree below is a Marshall eagle.

 My favorite bird.  Crested barbette yellow. 

This little leopard cub was NOT amused we were close by.  It takes about 2 years for 'new' animals to get used to the humans and the vehicles.

Night game drive.  We started late in the day and came home in the dark.

Table set for dinner at the lodge.  Each night, dinner was set up in a different spot around the main lodge.  Two nights we ate outside by the watering hole.  It was magical!

 African sunsets are amazing.

It's a millipede!!!

The speed limit on the roads around the reserve are 25 MPH.  This is the reason.....

 View from our lodge pool.

 Snort's favorite is the elephant.  He is quite enamored.

 This is a big ant hill.

A leopard with her kill from the night before, an impala.

Cape Town

 On the first tour day in Cape Town, after Bobbie had settled in to the ICU and was stable, my tour guide, Rory, took me out to the winelands for a day of wine tasting.  I loved it.

Wines paired with chocolate - what could be better?

As part of the Cape Winelands tour, Rory took me to two great little towns - Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.  Very upscale, very nice.  Great shopping for local handmade items. And, of course, wines.

The Hugeunot Monument, dedicated to cultural influences that the Hugeuenots brought with them to the Cape colony.  The Huguenots were primarily French and Belgian Protestants, who fled their from persecution by the Catholics in their home countries.

Look at the beautiful wood in this small church!

This was our last winery stop - La Motte.  It was my least favorite of the three we visited.

 This was a daily necessity in Cape Town.  Kept me sane.

 Yes, there are penguins in South Africa.


On Day 2, Rory took me to see penguins and the Cape of Good Hope.  We had a great day.

 Yep, an ostrich.  Who knew?

Someone is being really nitpicky!!

 It was a hefty climb up to that lighthouse!

 This area reminded me a lot of our Big Sur region in California.

 This is Rory, my most excellent tour guide in Cape Town and now a great new friend.

The marina/wharf area.  Lots of shops and restaurants and live music.  Very fun.

I was so bemused by these window cleaners.

View from up by Table Mountain back down to the city and ocean

The cable car up to the top of Table Mountain.

You can really see how the wind affects the local trees

 Sports arena

This is someone's private yacht.  I so needed to go introduce myself....

No city is complete without a ferris wheel.

The famed Table Mountain is in the background.  Gorgeous weather!

The Botanic Gardens in Cape Town

These are stunning gardens and quite a large area.  I really enjoyed visiting this place.

 Some scenes from my two days on the HOHO bus around Cape Town.  Gorgeous beaches and views.

Cape Town is a very windy place

Another part of the port area of Cape Town

One day in Cape Town I took the ferry out to Robben Island,   where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 20+ years.
You have to get on a bus to be escorted around the island and inside the prison. 

This is the rock quarry that the prisoners worked during the days.  They just dug out rocks and moved them from one place to another.

View to freedom....

Cemetery for original leper colony

Former prisoners are now tour guides inside the prison.  This guy spent 14 years here as a political prisoner. 

 Mandela's cell.  They slept on the floor.

Exercise yard.


 One day in Victoria Falls we each took a microlight flight over the Falls.  It was crazy!! Bobbie loved it, but I was quite freaked out.  I've bungee jumped, para-glided and para-sailed, so I thought this would be a piece of cake.  I was soooo wrong.....


Sunset boat cruise on Zambezi River near Victoria Falls

Sorry, the hippo below is slightly blurry.  I grabbed the shot as fast as I could while his mouth was opening, but my hands were shaking.

Our hotel room patio in Victoria Falls

Baboons fooling around

A warthog being lazy on our lawn


Hippo Hollow - a place we stayed for one night after we arrived at airport near Kruger.  The Reserve gates had closed for the day by the time we got there, so we needed to wait until the next morning.  We actually saw a hippo at the hollow!

She's on the mend!  Bobbie looking a lot better and happier now!  

Time to go home!

Flying over Lake Tahoe area on our way home

 The agriculture of Sacramento area


Stay tuned for more Pig Tales!  Next up - 3 week Alaska cruise June 18, 2019-July 9, 2019.  On the Maasdam.