Thursday, 26 May 2016

Shamwari Game Reserve - and the fastest animal on the planet!

130 kilometres per hour - the fastest animal on the planet. In the pre-dawn light, six pairs of eyes scanned the landscape for our quarry. This was his habitat - he had been seen two days before and last night there were fresh tracks. With twenty years experience as a guide, Frans was confident he knew the animal well enough to flush him out. We passed by giraffes and antelope with barely a glance, stopping only briefly to investigate two large grey shapes a few hundred metres from the rough dirt road. On any other morning we may have been excited by the white rhinos, but not today.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Surviving a riot at The Nekkies, Knysna

The Nekkies, Knysna
The plume of smoke rose hundreds of metres in the air, like a dirty tornado, as if  the weather gods were suddenly, unreasonably, angry with us. Then the traffic stopped. All we could see ahead was a long line of cars - and the smoke. We assumed there have been a car accident - a bad one. We were wrong! Judging by the sirens and all the emergency vehicles racing toward us it had not happened very long ago. Strangely, there were no ambulances - just police cars.

I wanted to wait it out but David doesn't do waiting very well.  It

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Botlierskop Private Game Reserve, South Africa

Lion at Botlierskop 'Never run from a lion. You will just die tired.'

With that advice ringing in our ears, our guide pointed his remote at the electronic gates separating the lion enclosure from the other animals at Botlierskop Private Game Reserve. I had finally made it to the Africa of my dreams. Now it seemed I stood a good chance of being served as breakfast to the King of the Beasts.

We were on our first morning game drive - the sun just peeping over the horizon. The Land Cruiser had open sides - no windows, no wire mesh, nothing between us and the lions. The guide didn't appear to have a weapon. Someone asked if the vehicle could out run a lion.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

The Winelands, South Africa - Vergelegen, Delaire Graff, Zorgvliet and Asara Wine Estates

I came to South Africa for the animals. David came for the scenery. Neither of us went home disappointed. With safari parks coming later in our trip, our first stop after leaving Cape Town was the Winelands - a region rich in history, architecture and beautiful scenery. Centred around the towns of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl, and set against a mountain backdrop, this is one of the prettiest regions we have ever visited. The myriad of wine estates seem to compete with each other for the prize of most picturesque.

Friday, 29 April 2016

The Cape of Good Hope - Cape Point, Chapman's Peak Drive and African Penguins.

Cape Point, Cape of Good Hope
We can't say we weren't warned. There were signs everywhere and at least one local told us to lock the car even if we were standing next to it. 'They will open the doors and steal your food'. We have been the victims of car break-ins twice in recent years and it was not an experience we wished to repeat.

David, however, just sometimes won't take advice - and he was hungry. He opened the boot of our car to retrieve a couple of bread rolls from his backpack. Within seconds the thief had leapt from the bushes and dashed toward us. David threw the rolls back into the boot, slammed the lid closed and retreated, leaving me trapped in the front seat with the thief staring malevolently down at me from the roof of the car parked beside us. It was as if he was daring me to be foolish enough to open the door.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Cape Town, South Africa

With its beautiful colonial buildings, stunning setting in the shadow of Table Mountain and slightly exotic edge, Cape Town is one of the great undiscovered tourist destinations amongst Australians and North Americans. We had 48 hours here before we began our South African road trip and it wasn't enough.

The biggest surprise about Cape Town is how modern and orderly it felt. We arrived so long after dark that even David was concerned about navigating to our hotel. We need not have worried. The route to the city was sign-posted and well-lit and driving in Cape Town turned out to be no more difficult than driving in Sydney. Arriving at night had the benefit that we had the roads very much to ourselves. Within an hour of touching down we were safely ensconced in our hotel room.

Friday, 15 April 2016

South Africa - Cape Town to Port Elizabeth via The Winelands and The Garden Route.

Africa - I had visions of elephants, giraffes, lions and zebras loping across the veldt, silhouetted against the setting sun, David and I giving chase from the back of a jeep, binoculars in one hand, long lens camera in the other.

As it turned out my 'wind in the hair, communing with wildlife' dream didn't quite match up with D's idealised view of the dark continent. Did you know they make wine in Africa - on picture-postcard estates with beautiful views, magnificent Cape Dutch architecture and flowering yellow rose bushes at the end of each row of vines? I didn't! Did you know they have modern cities with orderly traffic where driving a car is no more fraught than Sydney in peak hour? I didn't. Well they do and it turns out that this little corner of very bucolic and European Africa is the bit David brought me to.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Sydney, Australia - The top 5 things tourists do which locals avoid.

Have you ever wondered whether Egyptians visit the pyramids, Parisians climb the Eiffel Tower or New Yorkers wander around the Statute of Liberty? David and I have done all these things as well as countless other iconic activities around the world, but I have often wondered whether locals living their lives every day in the shadow of such massive tourist drawcards ever bother to visit them.

Mention Sydney and 'Things to do' to any tourist and I can almost guarantee which activity will be the top of their list.  It has become so popular it is almost synonymous with the city. Yet I haven't done it, nor has David, our adult children, or most of our friends. I am sure you can guess what I am talking about: if you have been a tourist in Sydney you have probably done it yourself.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Captain Cook Cruises Hop On Hop Off Sydney Harbour Explorer

Captain Cook Cruises Hop On Hop Off ferry
'Get out on the harbour!' - This is the one piece of advice I always give visitors. You can't truly appreciate Sydney without seeing it from the water. I also used to say it didn't matter whether you went on a tour or a ferry, but David and I recently spent a day with Captain Cook Cruises Hop on Hop Off Sydney Harbour Explorer and the experience was so much better than riding the ordinary ferries I can't believe how much we have missed over the years.

Friday, 18 March 2016

One of a Kind apartments, Canberra

One of a Kind apartments, Canberra
One of a Kind apartments, Canberra prides itself on its eco-friendly design and environmentally sustainable business practices. I sometimes worry about the massive carbon footprint David and I create with our constant travel. At One of a Kind my conscience was able to take a break for a few days.

The apartments are quiet, modern  and well-located.  David, not a green warrior in any sense of the word, just loved the tranquil surroundings.