Written by KenDurham on 11 Jan, 2004
The Hartbeespoort dam region is a focal point for many different people and activities. The lake created by the dam has brought people from all walks of life to the area for the associated activities surrounding the water. The landscape of the region is vast…Read More
The Hartbeespoort dam region is a focal point for many different people and activities. The lake created by the dam has brought people from all walks of life to the area for the associated activities surrounding the water. The landscape of the region is vast as well. From the desert-like conditions to the rocky mountain cliffs, to the lush vegetation around the lake, there is something for all.
There is the cable-car trip on the longest single cable in Africa. It is on the Arendsnes farm. In English that means "Eagle’s Nest." This area is the home of the Black Eagle, which is on the endangered species list. This eagle has a white V of feathers on its back and white panels under its wings. It is by far the largest of the eagles in South Africa, measuring up to 84cm in height. You may also see the African Hawk Eagle (see picture below) in this area too. The hawk eagle is dark with a white spotted breast and grows up to 65cm tall.
On Sunday mornings the rumble of hundreds of motorcycles can be heard throughout the region. It is the weekly ride to the dam for breakfast from Johannesburg and Pretoria for the men and women bikers.
There are the many game preserves in the region. Visits to the Cradle of Humankind, the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, Leopard Lodge or the Planesberg National Park are all within short drives of this area. For family water fun, there is the lake, of course, but a short distance away is the Valley of the Waves located in the Lost City of Sun City.
In Broederstroom there is the outdoor flea market. Be prepared to barter, for it is the way of life here. Be prepared, for there are all kinds of salespeople here as well. The vast majority are honest. However, beware: there are a few that will approach you for donations or to pawn gold or silver trinkets. My suggestion is to be firm, say "NO," and walk away. Yes, they will follow you and keep trying, but by staying firm they will eventually leave you alone.
Definitely the vendors in the stalls are great to deal with. Each stall carries a wide variety of African items, from artwork to zebra wood carvings and from "Zulu" tribal reproductions to African metal works or stone carvings. Some have suggested prices on the articles, others do not, regardless you still barter.
It will benefit you to walk through all the stalls before buying, even if you find that "perfect" item. I visited the market on two separate occasions during my 7-week stay and found that prices varied greatly. One of my goals was to purchase a set of African drums similar to bongo drums in North America. On my first trip I found a pair for 700Rand. Bartering brought it down to 500Rand, still more than I wanted to pay. During my second visit to the market I spotted a pair of drums and by bartering for them ended up paying 130Rand. In US funds at the time I went from $100 to $18 in cost – great savings.
Try it, it’s fun!!! Be fair, they do have to make a living. Great bargains can be had.
For more information visit their website .
Written by Linda Kaye on 04 Oct, 2005
The Kruger National Park, named for Paul Kruger, President of the Boer Republic in the late 1800s, is home to over 150 different kinds of mammals and 500 species of bird life. It is best known for the BIG FIVE: leopard, lion, rhino,…Read More
The Kruger National Park, named for Paul Kruger, President of the Boer Republic in the late 1800s, is home to over 150 different kinds of mammals and 500 species of bird life. It is best known for the BIG FIVE: leopard, lion, rhino, elephant and African buffalo (Cape Buffalo).
Kruger occupies over 7,724 square miles in South Africa, measuring 217 miles north to south and 37 miles east to west. Although the accommodations inside the park are expensive, there is one big advantage. Park guests have a little more time for game viewing since they don’t have to get to the exit gate by a specific time. I imagine the animal sounds at night inside the park must be a thrill of a lifetime.
Early reservations are required for those wishing to stay inside Kruger Park. Choices range from huts and safari tents to cottages, bungalows and lodges. Tariffs for accommodations vary between $28 USD to $250 USD per night.
We entered the Crocodile Bridge Gate at the Southern end of the park. It was early morning, about 6:30am, and there was already a line to enter. After paying and securing our passes, we proceeded on the main road. It was a foggy morning and the sun was just starting to peak through the low clouds. We commented that we would probably not see anything right away because of all the traffic in the area. Then, all of a sudden, barely visible through the fog was a huge elephant, grazing just off the road. We name this beautiful site - the Elephant in the Mist.
Guided Safari Tours: There are guided safari tours, which I would highly recommend if you are limited on time and not on a tight budget. Riding in a safari vehicle, provides a better view of the surrounding area than a typical automobile. For a half day game drive expect to pay $46.00 per person; full day $61. This usually includes park entrance fee, light breakfast, bottled water and cool drinks, and a professional guide.
Self-Guided Tours: The advantage of the self-guided tours is that we set the schedule. If we happened on a group of animals, we had the luxury of spending time watching them, and sometime watching them watch us. The baboons were especially curious about these strangers in their world. Our best sightings were on the small side road, away from the main paved roads. It was down one of these side roads that we found a large group of zebra and wildebeest. Several of the zebra had nursing babies. We stopped our car, turned off the engine and enjoyed watching the animals graze and interact with each other.
Among our wildlife sightings were the rhino, Cape Buffalo, hippos, giraffes, zebras, elephants, warthogs, baboons vervet monkeys, impala, kudu, nyala, and wildebeest. Our favorite-feathered friend was the yellow-billed Hornbill, who appeared to enjoy posing for our cameras.
From the Crocodile Bridge Gate to Lower Sabie is only 35km, but it took us almost four hours. Lower Sabie is a Main Camp, one of many inside the park. Main Camps offers restaurant facilities, snack bar, souvenir shops, fenced picnic areas, restrooms and a chance to get out of the car and stretch. Kruger is so large that in the two days we spent there, we only covered one small corner of the park.
In November, December and January (summer months in Africa) gates open at 4:30 in the morning and close at 5:30pm. In July, opening is at 6am, closing at 4pm. Be sure to keep your receipt (travel document), as you will need to present it as you leave the park.
Daily park entrance tariff is $18 USD for foreign guests.
When our friends first told us about the Rhino Walking Safari, it really didn’t faze me. But, the more I thought about it, the more concerned I became. Being on foot in the African bush, looking for rhino sounded a little dangerous to me.…Read More
When our friends first told us about the Rhino Walking Safari, it really didn’t faze me. But, the more I thought about it, the more concerned I became. Being on foot in the African bush, looking for rhino sounded a little dangerous to me.
Our guide, Andrew, came to our chalet the evening before our tour, to introduce himself and let us know what to wear, what to take with us, and what we could expect.
He also provides wildlife tours inside Kruger Park with our clients safely into a large, well armored safari vehicle. Andrew casually mentioned that the rhino tour was twice the cost of the wildlife safari because of the danger. He quickly pointed out that the danger was to him, not us. He would be in front with a rifle and would be our first line of defense.
Okay, now I am really getting concerned. I think to myself, what happens if we come up on a rhino, something happens to Andrew, then what happens to us??? Not wanting to be the only one of our party to admit fear, I simply smiled, took a deep breath, and said nothing.
Up early the next morning, we followed his instructions regarding light colored clothing, hat, long sleeves, good walking shoes and sun block. We piled into his SUV for the 30-minute drive to the Kwa Madwala Private Game Reserve.
At the headquarters building inside the reserve, we were introduced to our driver and our tracker, and asked to sign forms regarding liability. (Oh, my goodness).
After a quick bathroom break, we piled into a safari vehicle to begin our adventure. The tracker rode on the front where he had a good view of the road and surrounding areas as we drove. Once he located rhino tracks, the vehicle was parked and we were given last minute instructions.
Okay, now I feel GREAT!
Off we went, leaving the security of our vehicle far behind us. The weather was pleasant: partly cloudy skies gave us some relief from the sun. We walked for almost two hours; saw giraffes, evidence of large animals, and lion and rhino tracks. The sheer anticipation of seeing one of these huge beast was exhilarating- like pulling the arm on a slot machine and watching the "7s" roll and one by one stop on the payline – all except that last one.
Quote for the Africa in Focus Website: The objective will be to view the animals without impacting their natural behavior, and sensitivity to the animals is top priority. This experience is exciting and exhilarating, as you will experience what it feels like to be just another animal in Africa’s wilderness.
Despite the efforts of our guide and our tracker, we found no rhino. However, we had the most excellent walk through the African bush you could imagine.
Written by samepenny on 23 Jul, 2001
In advance of our trip we were given guidelines on tipping in South Africa. A Rand here, a Rand there. Hogwash! We realized on arrival that the Rand (at that time worth about 12 US cents, now stronger) wasn't a tip for anything! We…Read More
In advance of our trip we were given guidelines on tipping in South Africa. A Rand here, a Rand there. Hogwash! We realized on arrival that the Rand (at that time worth about 12 US cents, now stronger) wasn't a tip for anything! We made a family decision to tip in South Africa as much as possible at the same level we would tip in Texas. What does that mean?I tipped our hotel maids daily. Their wages are small. They use their tips to buy groceries on their way home after a long, hard day. We were in luxury hotels. What was the point of under-tipping or not tipping? I tipped the maids the South African equal to about $4 per day, sometimes more. (We also left unneeded clothing along the way, with a note explaining that the items were left on purpose.) We tipped the equal to about $1 per bag for porters. We tipped waitresses at least 20% of the total of our bill and then some if the tip still looked meager. We also shopped and tried to buy handmade items whenever possible. The works of art offered are often wonderful. We bought wood and stone carvings and made made clothing of fabric made in Africa. Don't miss the silk scarves designed by Mike Fitzpatrick in a brand called "Legends of Africa". Incredible! The Mike Fitzpatrick scarves are sold at the Skylight Gallery in the Victoria Wharf part of the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront Mall. Tel: +27 (0) 21419 0358. They are pure magic!On returning home our cousin Rodney completed our shopping desires by sending us by ship a large, carved giraffe. Thanks to Rodney! You know who you are and my thanks also for your reading IgoUgo.Interesting souvenir items are certainly the South African coins. A handful of pocket change may reveal some that go back decades. More impressive gifts would truly be gold coins that come in several values. The famous KrugerRands. Close
Written by samepenny on 08 Jul, 2001
My trip to Johannesburg was difficult. By day we were out trekking around seeing Rotary projects, but by night we dined, made new friends and got to know each other across international, cultural and financial borders.
I will always remember the teachers who worked so…Read More
My trip to Johannesburg was difficult. By day we were out trekking around seeing Rotary projects, but by night we dined, made new friends and got to know each other across international, cultural and financial borders.
I will always remember the teachers who worked so hard to bring literacy to a huge population of very poor children. I will remember the teachers who were teaching poor day care workers to read and teach reading so that they could improve the lives of the very young children in their care.
I will remember the kind hotel maids who picked out anything we had thrown away that looked like it might have gotten into the waste basket by mistake and laid the item on the desk on a clean piece of paper so that we would know it had been found. The things we threw away must have amazed them! They greeted us smiling morning and night as they worked through an incredibly long shift. They managed to keep our room tidy although it looked like an explosion in a J.Peterman catalog. Clothes, bags, books, boots nearly everywhere. They thought that we might want to sit on the furniture instead of using it for storage.
I will remember the women who rescue orphan children and the women who mother those that are dying. The women who taught other women how to sew and plant gardens. Bless them all.
I will remember all the Rotarians who were our guides, drivers, nanies, translators and newly found sisters and brothers.
I will remember the songs, the smiles, the hopes and the plans for the future of a country that has so much and so much to lose.
I will remember the dreams of Mandela. I will not let the darkness overcome me. He will be remembered by history as one of the most remarkable, talented and wise leaders in the world.
I will remember all the South Africans who wanted us to be happy there, to have a good time, to eat well, to drink good wine, to see the penguins and to return.
As I being to plan a return trip to South Africa I find that I really miss the place and the people. It's a long series of flights from Texas, but I anticipate that it will be wonderful. A homecoming to friends and relatives. I'm going further afield, out into the Velt and along the Vaal River as I seek to discover more of what there is to see and enjoy under the Southern Cross. I am eager with anticipation.
Written by samepenny on 19 Sep, 2001
I was tired when we got to Londolozi. Jet lag! If you can get a night's rest at the airport hotel in Johannesburg, you will start off your safari in better shape. I did participate in all activities. How could I…Read More
I was tired when we got to Londolozi. Jet lag! If you can get a night's rest at the airport hotel in Johannesburg, you will start off your safari in better shape. I did participate in all activities. How could I miss anything?
I have been asked about handicap accessibility. Frankly, it is better in South Africa than in many places in the United States and Canada.
All paths in Londolozi camps are smooth and without steps even if they are steep. It would be possible for someone using a wheel chair to get around with help for pushing on the steep places. Our bathroom was plenty large as were the public toilets in the boma.
The major obstacle is getting up and on to the Land Rover. We rode on a fairly high seat which required an inelegant scramble for me to achieve. A person with limited mobility could ride on the front seat with the Ranger. However that person would require help getting into the King Air and might need to be driven to Londolozi. (about 40 minutes) Something done in any case when the weather is poor.
The game drives last 3 1/2 to 4 hours. You have 2 game drives per day. Once away from camp there are no toilet facilities. The Ranger and Tracker can locate a safe place for an emergency toilet visit. They would stand guard nearby with a loaded gun! Obviously more difficult for women. If you require a lot of toilet visits per day, you may want to see if your doctor can give you some medicine to get you through your safari experience. We managed by cutting down on liquids prior to drives.
The Land Rover Defender goes where the game goes. Your Ranger and Tracker decide and off you go. It can get darn rough! Likely to be avoided if you have back problems. Often I was holding on with 2 hands. Up hill and down, through rivers, through and over trees, sometimes quickly if there are radio reports of a good sighting. Bang, crash, crunch!
Well worth doing!
First, you have to get yourself to Africa. Johannesburg, South Africa. You can fly in to Cape Town on a South African Airways flight from Atlanta. That's my choice for the future. A good travel service can make the arrangements. Likely you will…Read More
First, you have to get yourself to Africa. Johannesburg, South Africa. You can fly in to Cape Town on a South African Airways flight from Atlanta. That's my choice for the future. A good travel service can make the arrangements. Likely you will fly for a long time on very large jets.
A change of planes in Johannesburg and you find yourself on a new, nice Dash 8 operated by South African Airways. A 50 passenger prop plane. About an hour flight, a cold drink, a sandwich and your plane lands at Skukuza, the airport for Kruger National Park. Very hard working flight attendants!
You are far away from big city life at Skukuza. The terminal building has a thatch roof. The baggage handlers shake your hand as they hand you your tiny bag (weight limits are severe for the next leg of your journey.)
Your game preserve will meet you nest to a 'meeting post'. Each place has its own 'meeting post.' Londolozi, Mala Mala, Sabi Sands, etc. A kind woman will ofter your muchies and another cold drink, beer if you please. You will have a few minutes for shopping and then.....
Weather providing, you step down in size of airplane again. This time to a 12 passenger King Air for a 6 to 10 minute flight to Londolozi. At this point, I'm really getting excited. Let's do it!
All of our flights were comfortable, service was very good and once in Africa, the views were wonderful. Do not over pack. Save your baggage weight for your camera gear.
Attire, is all safari casual. No point in packing fancy clothes. You will need a jacket, hat etc in cooler weather. Also appropriate protection against mosquitos.
Incredible! I love airplanes! I love flying! I love Londolozi! I'm ready to return or to another CC Africa property.
Written by samepenny on 20 Sep, 2001
The greatness of Londolozi is that the animals are in their own home and the people are visitors. Every effort is made to reduce the impact of people, increase the well-being of animals and give work and educational opportunities to the local people of…Read More
The greatness of Londolozi is that the animals are in their own home and the people are visitors. Every effort is made to reduce the impact of people, increase the well-being of animals and give work and educational opportunities to the local people of the district.
What is called the 'Londolozi Model' works so well it has been copied all over the world. Famous for saving leopards, the people at Londolozi take care of all the animals. Described in 'hectars', the size of the free range of the animals is huge.
Londolozi requires visitors who are willing to spend a lot of money for the experience of seeing the animals. The price varies with the season, but is about $700 per person at this time. That price includes everything you need except some alcoholic drinks. You also must tip and tip well. You make up one tip envelop with the contents divided among all the staff including all the people you don't meet. We choose to tip our Ranger and Tracker separately. That is OK.
After you visit Londolozi, all you want is for it to succeed.
Take a deep breath and realize that you get a great deal for your money. Obviously many fine animals are protected from poachers. In a nation with terrible unemployment, the CC Africa properties offer good jobs to many people. Many educational opportunities and job improvements are offered to staff.
We shared our game drives with other people in our camp, a total of 5 in our Land Rover. When I go back, I would like to book at least 2 private drives with a focus on the type of photography I want to do. If I want to wait for the light to change, I want to be able to do it. Private drives are extra charge and must be booked when you book your basic reservation.
The animals we saw included but were not limited to, the Big 5, lion, rhino, Cape buffalo, elephant and leopard. Most especially we saw giraffes, all sorts of bird, hippos, herds of all sorts of light footed creatures, and zebra. Plenty plenty!
A visit to Londolozi will change your life. I promise.
Written by Tryon on 25 Aug, 2000
I was awestruck and a little nervous as we rumbled north from Durban toward the traditional Zulu capital of Ulundi. Our white Jeep Cherokee seemed fit for the trip, but I had been warned in serious terms that this was not a completely safe journey.…Read More
I was awestruck and a little nervous as we rumbled north from Durban toward the traditional Zulu capital of Ulundi. Our white Jeep Cherokee seemed fit for the trip, but I had been warned in serious terms that this was not a completely safe journey. Over the last six months alone, there had been more than four thousand armed car hijackings in the greater Johannesburg area alone. I didn't want to know the number for all of South Africa.
I was glued to the car windows like a child. I couldn't believe I was in Africa. Just yesterday, I had been comfortably ensconced in the familiar surroundings of my own home. Now, I was entering the endless hills of Zululand.
A few days earlier, I had been asked to come teach a class in basic electoral democracy, a political campaign class, to members of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) Youth Brigade, an IFP party organ made up of young and old. Of course, I accepted. This Texas boy had never been so far away from home, and I relished the opportunity.
The IFP is one of the many political parties in the new South Africa. It is the largest party in the Kwazulu-Natal province, a hybrid political jurisdiction created when apartheid was defeated, by combining the richer Natal Province with the traditional Zulu lands. Most, but by no means all, IFP members are Zulus.
My mission was to instruct them in the basics of electoral democracy. Having had only one free national election before, they were unschooled in even the most basic precepts of nonviolent political campaigns. But they took their newfound freedom seriously, and they were serious about learning to do it right. The very fate of their home was in the balance.
For several days, we worked together in classes that stretched from morning into the night. In a short time, we grew as close as family, we with the common goals of peace and freedom.
Toward the end of the final day of classes, the leader of the IFP Youth Brigade announced that we would stop early. They had a surprise for their teacher.
Behind the small hotel was a very large, grassy area. We all walked out, wondering what we would find, though some of the students had knowing smiles. The first thing I saw as we rounded the corner was a low-burning ring of fire on the green grass. And then I heard something.
A chorus of voices began singing in low, beautiful harmony. The Zulu dance began. There were about thirty of them; men, women and children, dressed in traditional clothing fashioned from animal skins and pelts. I still don't know what they were singing. I just know that they were prayers, and I felt a tingling run up my spine. A strong, loud chorus, thirty-strong. And sounds of night birds whistled through their lips. And - the dancing. Lifting their bare feet far above their heads and slamming them audibly to earth in one of the most amazing feats of athleticism I have witnessed. My students were proud, so proud of their heritage, so pleased to offer me this wonderful gift, this tremendous honor. I was humbled and deeply touched, both by the generosity of the gesture and by the beauty and spirituality of what I was seeing.
We all watched for thirty or forty minutes. Occasionally, one of the students, not wearing the traditional clothing, would be overcome by the sound and rush out to join the dancers for a few seconds, and return to us, smiling and laughing.
At one point, one of the grown men who was dancing locked his eyes onto me from maybe twenty yards away. I stared back as he moved straight toward me, the Zulu warrior, kicking high, high into the air. I was determined not to flinch or seem afraid, thought it looked ominous. It took thirty seconds, our eyes locked, until he was in front of me. He kicked and I felt the breeze from his foot on my face. Suddenly, he was flying in the opposite direction, rejoining the others.
I don't know why, but I cried when I watched the Zulu dancers. It was one of the most beautiful, touching experiences of my life.
Written by JenRich on 14 Mar, 2003
When evening came on our first day of the Dolphin Trail, the beautiful view compensated for my aching thighs as we made our accent to the top of the ridge and Misty Mountain Dairy . After a Jacuzzi bath in our lovely…Read More
When evening came on our first day of the Dolphin Trail, the beautiful view compensated for my aching thighs as we made our accent to the top of the ridge and Misty Mountain Dairy . After a Jacuzzi bath in our lovely cabin followed by good wine, food, company, and hot packs on sore legs, I thought I just might live.
A row of newly built and very comfortable cabins are a short distance from the main house that Val and Dav, our hosts, live in. Our warm, cozy cabin had two twin beds set side by side, a counter next to a wardrobe, sitting area, wall of windows facing the ocean, and a porch with comfy chairs that faced the ocean. The aura was like a cocoon set in a lovely seashell. Around our huge Jacuzzi tub, Val had thoughtfully places several red hibiscus flowers. The Jacuzzi was my first stop and after a good long soak I felt I would keep my legs after all.
Before dinner we sat in the den attached to their large country kitchen so we could visit with both Val and Dav while we sipped sherry. Dinner was buffet style and since we were such a small party we put the tables together so the six of us could eat family style instead of separate tables. Lasagna, hot vegetable salad, green salad, chicken, vegetables, and cobbler were all delicious and we attacked the food with hardy appetites from all our exertions.
Dav, who is in his 60s, built a substantial part of the Dolphin Trail, linking it to other trails in Tsitsikama . He related difficulties other hikers had and also the story of a feisty 70-year-old woman who got up early to "look around the dairy" before their hike got started. With that story I went to bed with the resolve to tackle the second day.