Where Indeed? Pretoria, Johannesburg, Kruger National Park, Durban, Garden Route, Knysna, Hermanus, Cape Agulhas, Cape Town, wineries in Stellenbosch and Paarl –
Where Could I Go In South Africa in the 70s?
On A Farm In The Magaliesburg Mountains:
I always wanted to tell this story:
Many large farms have hunting rights in certain areas. The Witwatersrand – that’s a real place – is beautiful and unspoiled territory. Our friend Retief owns a farm and a hunting lodge there.
He is near the Magaliesburg Mountains, a mecca tourist destination for any outdoor sports. Country restaurants, boat launches, numerous guest houses, and lodges cover the area.
There are even tents, yurts, and motorhomes.
And plenty of chimpanzees! Retief loved his hunting lodge and the band of chimps lived in this area – they came with the farm. He developed a rapport with them, just like you would with a sheep, a bear, or a wallaby.
It was still October and it was cold at night, and warming up during the day.
Summer was on its way.
In the chilly evenings when Retief returned home, the chimps jumped around him for attention and tried to get into the house. They chattered at him and looked annoyed –
it’s cold out here!
Okay, people… this is like raccoons living in your attic, so don’t feel too sorry for the little apes!
One night after a week of this Retief noticed the “married couple” walking around; they had mated for life and always held hands.
They scampered ahead of him and Retief finished his rounds of the farm.
He was tired and spent and as his headlights beamed up a curve in the road, there, on a low tree branch, sat the Chimpanzees, Ma and Pa Kettle, holding hands, as usual.
She had found a burlap potato sack and draped it over her body to keep warm. She chewed out a hole for her little wrinkled face. She peered out, her eyes searching up at her mate while clutching his hand.
He had used the part discarded for the hole as a head covering! He stood there with this frayed beany-sized cap on his head as he shivered. His teeth were chattering and his other arm was wrapped around his body.
And Retief lost it and fell over laughing! … I could just picture it.
Windows in holiday camps are left open most of the year to let in gentle breezes. From the guest lodges, near the Magaliesburg Mountains on Retief’s farm, in the middle of the night, people could hear this deep belly laugh forming slowly at first and then rumbling from the main house.
Retief was remembering in his dreams, that night when his babies used their last bargaining chip to go inside. It has been years and he still laughs openly at the thought.
You can’t buy memories like that!
What’s On Parade?
There is no end to the activities available in this country. They seem to have it all, mountains, plains, deserts, mighty rivers, and wonderful beaches.
There’s plenty to do and fun in the sun and great places to visit.
And the list is endless:
Sun City Rules!
You asked, “Where could you go in South Africa?” Landlocked by South Africa is an Independent Homeland called Bobutiswana.
There is a luxury resort and casino there, called Sun City!
There is a five-star golf course, frequented by Ernie Els and many Masters Tournaments are played there.
Ernie has a house situated on the golf course. Ernie Els works from home!
The entertainment is legendary and vagassy. All off it just 150 km from Johannesburg.
(Read here about Sol Kerzner and Sun City)
No expense has been spared. People come from around the world to experience this mega amusement park. Foreigners can visit Sun City at an amazing discount!
(I’ll tell you more in a minute…)
The amenities, accommodation, and things to do far outweigh – dare I say it –
a fantasy vacation.
A Dizzying Exerience!
My dear pseudo-mom and mentor Dorothea visited me there. We set out on a journey into the heart of South Africa, to see the paradise known as Kruger National Park.
It is a sprawling area of 7,500 square miles. It is 200 miles long, and 25 to 50 miles wide. To put that into perspective, it is comparable in size to Israel and slightly smaller than Belgium.
Giving as much space as possible to the animals that live in the park, there is never enough accommodation available for people.
This protected haven is a wildlife sanctuary, and you must book a whole year in advance…100% worth it! The roar of a lion carries farther than anything you’ve ever heard.
We stayed inside the gates at KNP and I had not been there after dark before. We left our rondavel – round hut – for the dining pavilion.
It was a ten-minute walk down dusty lanes, lined with hundreds of identical huts nestled in the jungle. If you could find the number there was one near the front door.
Dusk falls like a stone in the southern hemisphere and we minced along …
It would be easy to get lost out here.
In the dining restaurant, everything is on the menu, and you can test your creativity.
There is always crocodile tongue – yuk, or ostrich steak.
Try the eland; it tastes like beef and is delicious!
With this type of dinner, wine, and entertainment, you would think we were in a big city hotel restaurant… not so.
The buildings are constructed using timber poles, with thatched roofs and screened-in porches. The tables are lit by kerosene lamps.
In Game Reserves, you are never deprived of creature comforts but you always know you are in the jungle … does that make sense?
The waitstaff was friendly, efficient, and informative.
While at dinner I noticed that the other tables were equipped with powerful flashlights (”torches”, they call them). But there wasn’t one at our table!
“BYOT” – said our server – (bring your own torch) – “because when you leave the dining pavilion and try to find your way back to your rondavel, it will be pitch black!”
This is in the heart of jungle country, where wild animals roam. It is unspoiled and primitive. It’s a game reserve – there are no street lights. And they weren’t kidding about the blackness!
Knowing their love of self-sufficiency I was too embarrassed to ask for help.
I knew we were unprepared and I was responsible.
Going back to our hut, we were hugging each other and inching down the lane.
We had some security in that we weren’t on a dark, isolated New York City street.
Maybe not… but we could hear the animals grunt… and roar!
The hairs on my arms stood up!! …
We clung to each other and I did not have much faith in our surroundings – we were protected by a wire mesh! … Wait – a – minute…!
… Didn’t anyone in this country believe in danger?
Every twig that snapped under my foot sounded like a gunshot because when we did not hear them, there was NO SOUND! … Quiet… Were they listening to us?
It took about 25 minutes to creep back to the rondavel; I was having heart palpitations, but since we were safe – in our little round hut – my bravado kicked in: “Well Dorothea, how about our little walk? Think we should do it again tomorrow?”
I was so glad she was there for me to cling to. We were still shaking, and Dorothea had tears in her eyes.
If you are going for the gold, stay in a luxury lodge outside the gates, and go on a safari!
Bring your friends. (To go on a South Africa Safari Vacation – Link)
My Guardian Angel Is Overworked – Big Time!
The next day we leisurely roamed the park on unpaved roads, squinting for game.
Under NO circumstances are you to feed an animal. This can result in multiple fines.
Giraffes sauntered by, and elephants drank at a watering hole… wildebeests and springbok grazed… like in the movies. Peaceful … like feeding Bambi on the side of the road!
This was a very erroneous impression on my part… I could not have been more wrong.
It was the hot time of the day and most critters lay in the shade to cool off.
The rangers told us that the heat ticked them off and they roamed around roaring at night. Those roars resonate through the wilderness.
We will never get over our encounter in the wild; it was like swimming with sharks!
My imagination runs loose when I remember that thrilling day – it was so scary!
Everywhere we roamed in the park, there were signs saying, STAY IN YOUR CAR!
Now, here is scare #2 – on the second day in Kruger Park.
So there I was standing next to a field of grass, 3 feet high while leaning against my car, because – wait for it – I wanted to stretch.
What part of STAY IN YOUR CAR did I not understand? Dorothea said several times… “Wouldn’t you be safer in the car?”
Unlike Bambi on the roadside, these animals are WILD, wild. They do not raid garbage cans!
They hunt for their food.
If one happens to attack you, the animal will not be put down. YOU will be asked to leave.
You will not be compensated for any loss of life … They’re strict!
Other vehicles pulled up and hurriedly left, because, I presume, they did not want to see bloodshed – my bloodshed. While another vehicle stayed, the driver sent me withering looks.
To top it all off, I was standing next to an American car which was not available in South Africa. (How we imported the Firebird)
The whole picture told the story … Dumb Yanks … don’t they know anything?
(I am using very kind language here)
Eventually, I processed the stupidity of my actions and left the area with my head down.
The memory makes me cringe.
My angel must have acted out behind the veil, on my behalf – big time!
The Eastern Cape – Transkei
Along South Africa’s east coast, there is an area called The Transkei, an Independent African Homeland. It is landlocked on three sides by South Africa and rests along the Indian Ocean.
I wrote about the Transki when my Mom celebrated Christmas in South Africa. in 1984.
Here is just a little recap:
The highways are first-class, but they are slow. The Transkei-ans allow their livestock, to roam on highways and freeways and anywhere else they want to go!
If you should hit an animal, even if it isn’t your fault – btw, it’s always your fault – you will be arrested and detained. (Read more about Transkei, Link)
The Transkei Penal Code still applies and it’s like being arrested in a foreign country … they are nice people! But if you are charged with a crime you will be prosecuted under the code.
Please… no roadkill today.
The Transkei is very beautiful and offers numerous game reserves and national parks.
There are water parks and water sports of all kinds and gorgeous beaches.
The land is still a bit laid back – not mainstream. They cling to the past and they don’t want
a modern lifestyle.
Umtata – now called Mthatha – is the capital city of the Transkei! Nelson Mandela grew up in the area and there are monuments to him everywhere.
My friend, Betty was born in Umtata – before Nelson Mandela!
In her day, the population was about 22,000 and today it is more than 200,000!
You COULD say, “On the way down the coast of South Africa we stopped in Mthatha, the capital of the Transkei”. Go for it … NO ONE will know where that is!
The Cape Of Good Hope!
South Africa hugs a 2,800 km coastline. It starts at the Mozambique border in the east and runs past Cape Town to the Atlantic Ocean and Namibia – South West Africa – in the west.
Cape Town rests on one of the stormiest capes in the world … They call it The Cape Of Good Hope, just to encourage you… They are bluffing!
The hope is that you will get out of the “cape rolls” alive. The cape rolls are waves that are 30 feet high! (The whole story “From Cape Town To Belgium”)
Now For The Real Southern Boy!
Contrary to popular belief, Cape Town is not the southernmost tip of Africa.
That distinction goes to Cape Agulhas located 232 km southeast of Cape Town.
L’Agulhas was discovered in the early 1400s by the Portuguese. Bartholomew Dias christened it Cabo Dos Agulhas – Cape of Needles.
There are shipwrecks from before the 1500s all along the Cape of Needles coastline.
It had a shipwreck reputation from a young age.
There is a lighthouse that has been there for over 150 years. It’s a museum and you can climb 71 very steep steps up to the top if you feel strong enough… the structure is very old, and it’s windy up there!
Cape Agulhas is a shopping mecca and a wine and seafood extravaganza.
It is deemed one of the finest game-fishing spots in the world!
Amberjack, Tuna, Marlin, you get the idea – Don’t tell anyone!
How Can I Do This?
With an 18.5/1 currency exchange rate with the USD and the SA Rand, you can go anywhere – and beyond!
All we talked about is not too far from Victoria Falls and Kariba Dam in North Zimbabwe.
I bet you really, really want to go there now!
By 18.5/1, I mean that for 100 USD you would receive 1833.00 Rand. A five-star hotel room for an adult, costing R450 will only cost about 25.00 USD!
There are things on offer there that you can’t get anywhere else –
You can go to game reserves, and the best surfing beaches in the world with shark nets,
climb Table Mountain, and go on Safaris!
You will see “Elephant Crossing” signs, and Zulu warriors and you will have perfect weather most of the time.
If you mention the beautiful scenery and beaches, and the fabulous exchange rate, you never know where the conversation will lead.
I am fiercely proud of all the places I have visited in the world. I just like dropping a name or two, that’s all.
Where could you go in South Africa now? … Where indeed…?
Here is a useful tip:
The standard of medicine in the country is very high. It is a renowned destination for teeth whitening, skin tightening, and plastic surgery of any kind.
Because of the fabulous exchange rate, for us… not for them… I was able to have a tooth implanted for R300.00 which would have cost me $1,800.00 – for one tooth!
In my Canadian money, it costs a mere $25.00.
Quite frankly, for a few thousand dollars, you could fly first class to South Africa, and stay for one month in five-star accommodation.
You could see your doctor, go on a safari, lie on the beaches, and visit the wineries.
You will eat wonderful food, and meet the nicest people in the world.
Yes, I know, other people are nice too – tell me about them!
Where did you go to that was different from how you grew up?
Did you have to make huge adjustments to live there?
I suspect it is easier to adapt to a warmer climate than a colder one.
But not always…
What kind of people did you meet?
What was the most exciting thing that you did?
Please leave a comment in the box below and I will get back to you within 24 hours.
Regards, Corinne :-)))