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Country #16: South Africa

June 2, 2011

As you can tell from our previous posts, we got to do a lot of really cool things in South Africa, ranging from an awesome safari to climbing Table Mountain to wine tastings.  Plus, Mike and Brad were with us, so we got to enjoy everything with them.  Let me fill you in on what we did the rest of the time.

Sunset at the game reserve

After we finished our safari, we drove back to Johannesburg to catch a flight down to Cape Town.  Our first day in the new city was spent exploring and spending time on their pier which reminded us a lot of San Francisco.  Everything was so nice and it didn’t feel like the Africa that we had seen in Tanzania. 

A lot of that day was spent at the Two Oceans Aquarium.  We arrived just in time to watch the predator feeding which was fun to witness.  They dropped food from the top of the aquarium and all of the fish would race around to try and get their portion.  The tank also had sharks and large turtles in it, but they get fed differently and on select days, so unfortunately we missed that.  We spent the rest of the time wandering around the entire aquarium where they had everything from penguins and frogs to seahorses and stingrays.

Steven also got a chance to shoot this pretty neat, short clip of one of the aquariums.  It was mesmerizing with all of the movement:

One afternoon, we drove around the coast a little ways to see the pretty views and check out some of the beaches.  They were very nice-looking beaches and we stopped to do a little shopping and eat a good meal just across the road from the sand.

The next morning we were headed out to Arabella to spend our last few days in South Africa there.  We took the scenic route to get there and although it took longer, we got to see even more of the coastline – it was a beautiful drive.  We also stopped at Simon’s Town where a colony of penguins lives.  Apparently, they are normally in the water and you can swim with them but the water was too cold for even the penguins!  We watched them edge out onto the rocks but they would never get in.  Mike and Brad saw them get too close and get knocked into the water by a big wave – Steven and I were behind them and missed it!  It was fun to see them all walking and hoping around and then covering the new born babies.

Another sight on our way out to Arabella were the Cape Flats.  This is an area that, in the 1950’s, became home to individuals the apartheid government deemed non-white.  Race based legislation forced these non-white people out of the city into government built townships.  Today, the area is still very poverty sticken, with high unemployment, high crime, and so on.  A crazy sight to see intertwined within the beautiful city of Cape Town.

Something that Steven and Brad always had their hearts set on was shark cage diving.  Basically, you go out in a boat and they throw some chum (blood and ground up fish guts) in the water to attract the sharks and then everyone on the boat takes turns getting into a cage that is attached to the side of the boat.  Then the crew puts a large fish on a line and gets the sharks to come in close so that you can “swim” with the sharks.  Sadly, they were not able to go because there were 8 meter swells the whole time we were there.

So instead, the guys all played a round of golf at Arabella.  The golf looked questionable due to the rain (which seems to be following us everywhere) but it held off long enough for them to play for a while.  It was a beautiful course and they all really enjoyed getting out and hitting a few balls.

We ate some great food while we were in South Africa.  My favorite was probably at Makweti, but we had tons of good food in Cape Town and Hermanus too.  One restaurant we ate at in Cape Town was called 95 Karoom.  It was recommended by our hotel and turned out to be excellent.  We stopped at a place on a drive outside of Cape Town and got big seafood platters that had many things for us to try – all of it was good.  One morning we wandered into a restaurant on Long Street – I can’t remember the name of it – and had brunch.  The sandwich I ordered was great and Steven is still talking about the drink that he got which was frozen lemonade with blended in mint.  In Hermanus, several people recommended we go to the new pier for dinner at Harbour Rock.  It had great views of the waves crashing in and really good food (fresh sushi!) plus a great fireplace that we sat next to.

We loved South Africa and I think it may now be one of our favorite countries – up there with Jordan.  Steven still wants to go shark cage diving so I’m sure we will be back there one day, plus, there is still a lot that I want to see!

Jen

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