Anja & David Zimmerman - December 2009
NOTES FROM ANJA (taken from her diary)
DAY ONE … December 1, 2009
Accommodations: African Dream Guest House on Francolin Street
Owner: Stefan .. goes by Fannie. ( www.campsbay-guesthouse.co.za)
Wake up to incredible ocean and mountain views … mtn. “Lion’s Head”. Hendrik, our guide, picks us up and we drive to the famous “Table Rock” (Tafelberg). Take the Gondola to the top … has rotating floor board .. everyone gets a spectacular view.
Mountains rugged and impressive, largely of sandstone. We hike around the top of Table Mtn. .. enjoying views to all sides .. simply breath-taking! (Met an older couple from Yorkshire England; Nadia Chapman and her husband .. reminder: Google “Auckley Sailing Club” (“Sail free” .. their school which enables disabled children to sail).
Then drive to the Capetown “waterfront”. All very new, modern and European looking. The planned trip to “Robben’s Island” .. where Nelson Mandela had been imprisoned is ‘sold out’. Lunch at the waterfront; tried “Windhoeck” (local beer .. good, still like Hansa Pilsner best). Waterfront is a combination of marina, shops & restaurants.
Had our first experience with the “car parkers” which we later discovered are everywhere that cars park. These men point the way to perfectly accessible parking spots, then let you know they will look after your car while you’re away. This service is in exchange for an expected tip.
Everything/one is preparing for the 2010 Soccer World Cup. They had “human foosball” games set up … entertaining to watch. Each player is “strapped” in place .. can only move in limited direction. Anja tried her skill at kicking a soccer ball. Does not get it through the hole, but neither do any of the guys.
Next, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. National flower, the King Protea. Also liked the “pin cushion” flowers.
On drive back, stopped at Clifton Beach. Neat small beach cottages tucked away on the hill leading down to the beach. Very cool rock formations on this secluded beach. Grabbed coffee at Camps Bay Beach. Our Guest House is at Camps Bay. Light Sushi Dinner at beach front strip … early to bed.
DAY TWO .. December 2, 2009
Cape Area Tour .. drive Victoria Road .. through Constancia and Simons Town to Penguins Boulder Beach. See baboons on the side of road .. even baby-baboon clutched on mother’s back. The Penguin beach was fantastic; fine white sand, remarkable boulder/rock formations, and penguins sunbathing and playing all around. Families with children playing amongst these wild birds; fascinating to observe these creatures. In an attempt to get some great photos .. Anja gets bitten by a startled Penguin .. don’t think (hope) they have rabies!! J Just a little scratch left behind.
Drive to Table Mountain National Park to Cape Point .. “Cape of Good Hope”. Stunning view of Point and adjoining beach! Most southern tip of the continent (one says ‘meeting of two oceans’ .. but actually is the Atlantic. We see the Indian ocean in a few days).
Windy day .. but sunny. Hiked up to the lighthouse for scenic photos. Discovered that the Cape of Good Hope is not the end of the peninsula, but the point prior to that. David got his first real trial of his new Tilley hat. It stayed on his head despite the winds. Lunch at the ocean-view restaurant. First taste of Peri-Peri Sauce – very spicy. Underestimated the South African sun .. quite strong!!
Stop to admire African Art / road-side display. Beautiful stone/rock statues .. too heavy to bring home!
Take the “Chapman’s Peak Drive” for a scenic drive … watch windsurfers and kite-boarders at Chapman’s Bay.
Onto Hout Bay .. walked the Marina (working / fisherman wharf). Southern Right Whales come to this area to breed.
Remember .. “soap sellers”. Coffee in Capetown .. Hendrik runs into a friend from NYC .. small world. Anja buys jeans .. accidentally brought Carl’s .. ooops. Hope he’s not looking for them.
Dinner at La Med … local ‘hang out’. Casual ocean-front dining. A few beer .. ready for bed. Is this only Day two?? Have taken in so many impressions already!!!
DAY 3 – December 3, 2009
Wine Region / Stellenbosch Vineyards
Rental of Harley Davidson Motorcyles ..1200 Sporters (Hendrik rode a larger bike with windshield … he knew better!). Doo Rags .. yikes .. not the best look for me! Rode through Capetown, via Highway N1 to the wine region. Wine area absolutely beautiful .. amazing how green everything is!
1. Backsberg Vinyard – favorite the Sauvignon Blanc. Lunch in the gardens “lamb on the spit” … I tried the Ostrich Carpaccio .. fantastic! Won’t lose weight on this trip!!
2. Fairview Vineyards “Goats do Roam”; favorite wine Spice Route Shiraz. Wine and cheese tasting. Bought the dessert red (infused with Brandy .. strong and delicious .. best with little chunks of blue cheese). Got David a t-shirt.
3. Delheim Vineyards .. beautiful grounds! Many German named wines “Spatzendreck”, “Edeldreck” ..favorite .. their sparkling wine! (This vineyard used to belong to Hendrik’s family).
Coffee “pick me up” in Stellenbosch … (where Hendrik went to the Africaans University of Stellenbosch). Very European town, street cafés, restaurants, shops.
Fun riding the Harleys!! David’s first time on the road since getting his license … he loved it!! The country side is beautiful, ostrich ‘pastures’, cows, goats, sheep … vineyards, palm trees mixed into the landscaping … many flowering bushes (it is summer-time here in December!)… simply gorgeous! (Helmet hair though!!! Had to resort to “clipping” my hair today!! Arrived a bit late to Franshoeck .. in the dusk with sunglasses .. tricky!
Overnight on the farm “Bo La Motte” in a lovely cottage overlooking a private lake/pond, fruit trees, grape vines, with the dramatic mtns behind. Still a working farm with guest cottages … and five dogs .. happy to bark at our motorcycles. David made friends with them .. playing fetch! Inn has received a “green” award .. very environmentally friendly.
Walked to dinner in the French town of Franshoeck @ English Pub (very diverse .. a mix of English, Dutch, German, Greek). Hansa Pilsner .. still my favorite beer here! Night cap “Springbokkie” (Amarula & peppermint liquor) … very tasty!! Walk home a bit strenuous with strong headwinds. Stars fabulous though.
DAY 4 – December 4, 2009
Breakfast at the “Salmon” Bistro in Franshoeck .. more great food! Rode Harleys back to Capetown … another sunny day, clear blue skies .. temperatures starting to feel like “Africa”
Got to ride a few mountain roads. Great fun but had to head back to get the bikes back on time.
Harley salesperson, Thomas, happy to see us back safe and sound (yet another German person we’ve met!) David let him know that was his first motorcycle ride. He seemed to be happy he had not been told that when we picked up the bikes.
Back into the VW … drove back to the Stellenbosch Area … via N 2. First glimpse of poverty. The roadside shacks, “ChantyTown” (near Mitchel’s Plain) went on and on …. Make-shift shacks, using scrap-metal, wood, etc … one next to the other. Apparently many immigrants from poorer African regions move and live there.
Checked into the Rosenview Inn (attached cottage/rooms w. covered veranda .. the views remain impressive.
Worked in a bit of relaxing time … off for coffee and browsing in Stellenbosch .. hunted for souvenirs. The African Market in town was interesting … the African mask were too “creepy” looking to me, and most else there was a bit “junky”.
Toured the strawberry farm called Mooiberge. Hilarious … they have colorful, animal shaped, metal figures in the fields as “scarecrows”. Very tacky, but funny! Apparently the University students used to make these.. The little shop on site is a mix of mini-grocery & ABC store. We stocked up on some good wine and beer for our journey!
Hendrik met up with a college buddy .. Brandon, and we went to La Romantica for dinner. A semi-casual restaurant, good food, busy, sat outside .. lovely evening. Drank nice wine … had a bottle of the desert wine with Hendrik on the porch as a night-cap (not anticipating the repercussions the next morning. LOL )
DAY 5 – December 5, 2009
DRIVE TO KNYSNA
Planned an early start … but were “dragging” a bit. The very loud cooing local doves woke us early ..needed Alex and his bb-gun!! Another two course breakfast … always starts with fruit/cereal/yogurt buffet, then eggs, bacon, sautéed mushrooms, yummy whole grain toast, jam & coffee. Great start to our busy days! So much to see …
Leave “False Bay” area .. drive cross-country towards Garden Route. Unbelievable .. Baboons trying to cross highway .. mother-baboon with baby on her back … bad monkey!!! Farmland green and well kept. Ostrich farms, cows, sheep .. even saw two elephants as “farmer’s pet”. First “African fast food” at “Steers” .. great burgers .. served on ceramic plates .. as little ‘packaging’ used as possible. (Drive approx. 4 hrs).
On our way to Knysna .. too windy to para-glide (in Wilderness) .. on to the Elephant park near Plettenburg Bay . Fun elephant experience .. first tour their “stables” .. then get to feed and pet the elephants. Funny how they will “cup” their trunks to take your piece of fruit. Skins rough and dry, but smooth behind the ears. They flap the ears to “cool” their bodies (major veins on back of ears). Our guide, Trust, did a nice job.
Yet another quick coffee pick me up at the Park .. then off to Knysna. On our ride back, we came across yet another area of “Chanty Towns” along the highway. Stopped to take pictures … so sad, yet such a reality. Some of the young girls were crossing the street, posing for pictures. Drunken .. with missing teeth … so sad.
Stayed at incredible Guesthouse “Headlands House“ near “The Two Heads”. Have never seen a more dramatic view!!! Two huge rocks/cliffs mark the “mouth” of the ocean feeding into a river / to lakes in the area. Stunning landscape; much forestry in this area.
The Guest House was first class … floor to ceiling glass windows overlooking the Indian Ocean. Bouquets of flowers in the room .. private balconies .. bathrobes … pool in courtyard .. and incredible breakfast buffet.
Dinner near the ‘two heads’ at Curnuti’s. Wonderful food, great wine … surprised that we were almost the last to leave on a Saturday night. Chatted with a young newly-wed couple from the wine region. Nice to converse with some locals … very interesting and entertaining.
DAY 6 – December 6, 2009
Knysna Area / off to Storms River
Coffee in bathrobes on the balcony … sunshine .. views … life is good!!!! Really didn’t want to leave this place.
Drive to “Wilderness” to para-glide. We were told the weather was “iffy” … and truly too misty/cloudy upon arrival. Oh well .. can’t control the weather … on to Storms River. (Anja on a mission to find a terracotta “sun” for collection .. made a few spots .. no luck yet).
UNBELIEVABLE .. the highest bungee-jump in the world .. approx. 620 feet high. Stopped to watch for a while. This takes some courage …. Or you have to be crazy!! No participation!! Anja bought wooden carved souvenirs “guinea fowls” .. Hendrik helped ‘negotiate’ the price!! ☺
Next stop/destination … Tsitsikamma National Park @ Storm’s River. Beautifully maintained Park with log cabin lodging … ocean front; crashing waves onto the rocky coastline, blue waters, & tropical flora. Stunning .. yet again!!
Took a hike through the woods, over suspension bridge … up the mountain to look-out spots! Loved the rocky beaches .. rocks are worn totally smooth, waves crash … loved the “clacking” noise of the water running off the rocks/beach. Water blue and impressive .. but 16 degrees C!!!! Planned on scuba diving in the morning … might not happen … weather a bit cooler than normal, and very windy. Luckily Hendrik always has a backup plan!
Dinner in the Park … yummy grilled fish … always nice wine. Pinotage was “developed” in South Africa .. so we’re sticking with what we like! Cozy evening in our cabin … all that fresh air .. ready for an early night.
DAY 7 - December 7, 2009
Off to Jeffrey’s Bay
Awake to the sounds of the construction workers at the Storm’s River Cabin. Wanted to throw things at them! They were louder than the crashing waves against the rocks.
First rainy day of the trip .. wet and cold. Who would guess . Summer in Africa! J Wanted to tour the “Big Tree” .. closed due to road construction .. also a first. Had fun throwing rocks off high bridge spanning another part of Storm’s River. Off to Hendrik’s cousin’s farm “Brakke Duine”… Johann (the dad) and Choppy … to take an off-road 4x4 jungle and dunes ride. Amazing the long gravel roads that span the country/farm area .. they are maintained by the government, but not paved. Blue Monkeys live wild in trees on the side of the roads; also sheep and cows in pastures. Apparently they are quite a nuisance to farmers .. if they get into the house, they’ll make a mess and destroy things.
Took a Toyota double cab through the jungle, Johann drove, great fun!!! (The heavy duty “bush pig” had recently been confiscated by the police .. long story). They take groups of people in their own vehicles on this route; many get stuck … we got the experienced ride!! Dunes are so impressive, vast & beautiful … the contrast to the farmland and hills on the horizon is amazing. We discovered Buschbock and Lynx tracks in the sand.
Finished off the afternoon with a boat ride on the lake .. a boat which Choppy had built himself. Quite the party boat .. home-made, speakers, picnic tables, rope lighting, grill, steering cabin double functions as a bar!! They played Afrikann music … sounds a bit like German disco music! J
Choppy has a huge shop/barn .. quite the bachelor with many hobbies. Built his own jeep .. re-builds the cabs for the fertilizer sprayers. Still cold .. and wet … quick coffee at Johann’s house and “hit the road” again toward Jeffries Bay.
Snack at local café’ .. small world .. even in Africa. The folks at the table next to us knew Hendrik’s family .. Hendrik went to school with their daughter!
Jeffries Bay … a surfer community .. lovely beach town … beautiful blue Indian Ocean (still cold .. 16 degrees C!!).. beach scattered with incredible shells.
Guesthouse “African Perfection” .. another ocean view to wake up to. Highly recommend this spot. Definitely a surfer hotel. Had surfboard stands in the lobby and guest room. Signs asked that guests wax their surfboards outside.
At night, see “calamari boats” on the horizon. They fish 24/7 for three to five days (until max capacity). Not dangerous .. but hard work. They use lines with hooks .. very tedious.
Before dinner drinks at Hendrik’s Uncle Skips beach condo … brandy with a hint of coke .. quite nice! Everyone so very welcoming and hospitable!
Dinner at “The Viswijf “ … one of the nicest places in town. Anja tried the Springbock Carpaccio .. fantastic!! The seafood platter was the most expensive item on the menu .. at $21. Food and wine very affordable here! Exchange rate .. $1 = 7 African Rand.
Day 8 – December 8, 2009
Addo Elephant National Park
Beautiful sunshine, but still winds too strong .. couldn’t head out to deep sea fish with Uncle Skip as planned .. (bummer again). We headed to make it a day at the Elephant Park; they boast the largest population of African elephants there. You drive through the park in your own vehicle .. all animals wild and free-roaming.
Came across red hartebeest, elephants, kudu, warthogs, leopard tortoises, flightless dung beetles; found a buffalo cadaver, and bushbuck horns on side of road.
Were totally surprised to come across a “google earth” truck filming the area. Will check on the web to see if we’re “on it”!!
Fun “seeking” out the animals. Longest drive of the trip .. six hours .. ahead of us to get to the Free State .. Bospoort. (Hendrik’s parent’s farm)
Country-side changes … wide open ranges .. the dramatic mountains start “rolling”, still beautiful, but much drier. Unfortunately, we had a bit of an accident along the way. A large, male Blue Monkey comes dashing across the highway .. we hit it straight on. Monkey dead, car damaged, but all are fine .. nerves a bit rattled. Who wants to get stranded in the middle of nowhere?!! However, all went well.. the car still operable after a bit of roadside repair work. David sent back down the road on foot to look for car pieces. Occurs to his halfway there that there may be more monkeys where this one came from. But luckily, he was not attacked .. and we drove on to Bospoort.
Arrived late, 11:00 PM .. and still were severed a hot dinner off the grill .. then a “sundowner” .. and off to bed in their thatched-roof, stone guest house. The night sky had so many stars .. never seen anything quite like it … and of course the constellations are “upside down” (Southern Hemisphere).
Day 9 – December 9, 2009
Bospoort Private Reserve
Awake to sunshine and a warm breeze .. yet another stunning view of the rolling hills, open fields, and a river below. Simply fantastic!
A big bacon, egg.. and all the works breakfast with Hendrik’s wife, baby & parents .. on an outside patio. Life is good!
Farm has old fashioned ‘party line’ telephone system. About 10 other farms on the line - the type of ring you hear determines if it’s for you or not. To call out, you have to talk to an operator. Reminded me of “Mayberry”!
Went tubing down the Caldon river .. in good old-fashioned tire tubes. Water red and murky, lots of clay soil here; but gorgeous landscape. Great sunshine .. working on the tan, enjoying a beer and scenery. Had a local “spa”treatment by smearing mud all over. Supposed to be good for your skin. This is gold and diamond mine area .. one of the largest diamonds was found here, so I decided to “hunt” for diamonds … found pebbles of what is probably quartz … but fun!
Relaxing day .. a huge thunderstorm came through .. good time for a book on the veranda. Saw the most incredible rainbow with vivid colors right in front of us after the rain showers. Actually was a double rainbow .. never saw anything like it .. and so close .. it felt as if one could touch it!
Thatch roof ‘chalets’ have one drawback, they can leak. Rain trickled in onto the bed .. onto both pillows. When the rain stops, the leaks stop! ☺ Life on a farm!
Dinner at the main house with the family and Henriette and Ulrich came to visit (friends from a nearby farm). Nice wine, roaring camp fire, entertaining conversation .. and huge t-bone steaks on the fire pit. Lovely atmosphere. Interesting conversations with Hendrik senior about South African politics, and the current state of the country.
Day 10 – December 10, 2009
On the Farm - Bospoort
Started the day with a ‘game drive’ on their 1200 acre property. Saw Blessbock, Wildebeest, Reebock, Springbock and Zebras. Equipped with binoculars .. fun to watch the herds run off as we approach. The cattle kept on the land was interesting … local types and even a Bhrama.
After breakfast, off in the 4x4 to tour more of the countryside; and we got dropped off on a hill top to hike back to the house. Fun exploring by foot; rugged area … felt like being in the movie “out of Africa”. The vastness of this land is remarkable … standing on the mountaintop looking down …fields and mountains to every side .. reaching as far as the eye can see … and hardly another farmhouse in sight!!
Hendrik says the neighboring farm we were hiking through is for sale for $150,000. Comes out to about $85 an acre.
Hendrik showed us an old cave where ‘bushmen’ used to live. Bushman paintings/sketches still exist on the sandstone walls .. very cool. Most had been destroyed by a prior farmer who was superstitious; really a shame.
Not enough outdoor activity yet, had horses saddled up for us and rode around looking for wild animals. Very well trained horses, responded to every command .. a pleasure to ride. David’s urge for a cold beer set an end to this adventure.
Lunch today at the “lapa” (which they call the guest cottage we stayed in) .. outside under the thatch-roofed patio. Hendrik and Erin’s daughter, Simone, is the happiest baby and enjoys everyone’s attention.
First time trying “kudu” meat, absolutely delicious. Salads here prepared with pineapple chunks .. different, but delicious. Did I mention, lunch at 4:00 PM. The pace here is easy going and relaxing. Hendrik Senior and his wife, Mariki, have been so welcoming and wonderful hosts. Hope to welcome them to Charlotte soon.
Drive to Bloemfontaine … reservations made at the Hobbit Boutique Hotel. We are told this house is Tolkin’s birthplace. Stayed in the “Keeper of the Keys” room. Great service at hotel. Needed a long hot bath after spending time on the farm. The bathroom had an antique shower/tub combination; very cool.
Day 11, December 11, 2009
Bloemfontein & ‘Stone Safaris’
Breakfast outside .. the temperatures rising. We’ve had an unusually cool “winter” in South Africa. Day before departure, good opportunity to hunt for souvenirs. Found an oil painting of a shanty town; and strolled the Mall for gifts. The Mall was too “American”, hard to find original things. Hendrik’s mother’s loyal VW finally had enough after the monkey-accident; overheated and steaming. Plan B … got a rent-a-car, and made our way to a Safari Camp ‘Stone Safaris”. Erin and baby Simone joined us for this adventure. Arrived a little late, but Hermann (the guide there) still geared up the 4-wheelers and we were off hunting for animals. As it turns out, dusk is a great, so many animals were active, saw: antelope, blue wildebeest, kudu, impalas, 2 huge rhinoceros, white blessbock, zebras, turtle & ostrich. Exciting!! The camp has lions and tigers in contained areas. Well, if you consider chain link fence containing a full grown male lion!! J
Fully-equipped wooden cabins were our sleeping quarters for the night. We grilled steak, mushrooms & corn-on-the cob for dinner .. with good red wine.
Day 12 – December 12, 2009
7:00 AM “Game Drive” on the 4000 hectare game preserve. Saw many of the same game we saw last night .. but couldn’t find the rhinos. Great fun .. “dusk” proved to be a better time for animal viewing. David spots an abandoned ostrich egg, which the driver collecs.. He later traded us for another that has already been emptied and cleaned. Get to feed a baby bock. Sucks down two baby bottles in seconds. Bought Zebra-hoof souvenirs for the boys .. finally something ‘original’.
A farewell breakfast with Hendrik and family … then on our way to the International Airport in Johannesburg. Past Soweto (the shanty town of Johannesburg .. apparently the population there is higher than in Jo-Berg itself! Unbelievable!
With road construction the drive took more than the anticipated 3 hrs, but we arrived in plenty of time. Goodbyes with Hendrik. He was a fantastic guide and put together an unbelievable trip .. we have so many memories and new experiences .. and gained a good friend in the process!!
One can tell that the entire country is in preparation for the FIFA World Cup Soccer Tournament in June 2010! At the pace of work completed, and the proportion of work to be done .. it seems questionable if they will finish on time.
Our flight actually delayed a bit. So we entertained ourselves at the airport for a few hours .. now on our way to Dakar to refuel .. then head via Washington to Charlotte.
This has been a trip I wouldn’t ever have wanted to miss .. but missed the boys .. and our Home Sweet Home.
Is this only Day two?? Have taken in so many impressions already!!!Anja Zimmerman.
Hendrik was a fantastic guide and put together an unbelievable trip .. we have so many memories and new experiences .. and gained a good friend in the process!!..David & Anja Zimmerman.