Victoria Falls

Hi everyone!

We arrived to the Victoria Falls International Airport in Zimbabwe around midday and were able to obtain the new Kaza Visa without a hitch. For those of you planning to visit the falls and would like to view the falls from both the Zimbabwean and Zambian side this visa is for you. It costs $50 USD (cash only) and is a multiple entry visa for both countries for a period of 30 days. You can obtain 3 of these visas per year, which is handy for us as we will be returning to Vic Falls on our overland tour for 2 days.

We split a cab into town with a nice Finnish couple and were dropped at our backpackers, aptly named Victoria Falls Backpackers. We chose this over Shoestring Backpackers despite it being outside of the city center as we read people had security concerns at Shoestring. Staying a few kilometers outside of the town center also meant we ran into or out of town each day, killing two birds with one stone! We had a great place to set our tent up and the weather was delightfully warm compared to our last week so we were happy campers, pun intended.

Our first order of business was to head into town and buy our groceries for our 4 day stay. Browsing the grocery store we realized how spoiled we had been in South Africa with the incredible selection and quality of food available. We would have to be creative in our meals using what was available. We made a tuna pasta salad our first evening and it was pretty dreadful. I had a really hard time with it and think tuna is a no-go for a while now. We improvised after that failed attempt by making porrige and toast each morning for breakfast, eating a late lunch at a restaurant, and making popcorn as a snack each evening. We had full stomachs and that is all that mattered! I forsee multivitamins in our near future.

We headed to the Zimbabwean side of the falls the next day for our first day of exploring. It was a solid 5 km run to the falls and we encountered baboons and warthogs on our way through town. The cost to enter the falls from Zimbabwe is $30 USD per person. About two-thirds of the falls are on the Zimbabwe side, and the remaining one-third on the Zambian. We walked the entire length of Zimbabwean side, getting absolutely soaked along the way as the water was still very high from the rainy season. This meant there was a lot of mist generated from the falls and therefore not the most clear viewing. We are interested to compare this trip with our trip in August to see the difference the water level makes, we will let you know!

Despite not having the clearest views the falls were impressive beyond belief. The power of that much water flowing over the edge of the cliff was captivating. We enjoyed stopping at all the viewpoints to take in the different angles of the curtain of water. The lighting was tough for picture taking so we are dark in a lot of the pictures but you get the idea!

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The following day was a relaxation and laundry day. It was quite expensive to have our laundry done but we desperately needed it, so we dug out our bar of laundry soap and handwashed and hung to dry as much of our laundry we could do. I had a smile as I was washing and Chris was hand wringing and hanging the clothing thinking of if our mothers could see what we were up to. It took a solid few hours to get it all done and I stopped to think how essential a washing and drying machine are at home. Another reason to be thankful for all that we are blessed with in our “regular” lives.

The following day we headed to the Zambian side of the falls. This required us to be stamped out of Zimbabwe, walk a few kilometers in no-mans-land to Zambia, and then be stamped into Zambia. After being stamped out of Zimbabwe and on the walk to Zambia we crossed the famous Victoria Falls Bridge where they have all of the adrenaline activities. This is also the bridge made famous in 2012 when a bungee jumpers rope broke and she plummeted into the crocodile infested Zambezi river below. Luckily she survived with minimal injuries. We stopped to watched two girls who were getting geared up to do the bungee and we were pretty taken aback with what we saw. First of all the rope was in much worse condition than the rope that was used for our jump in South Africa. Second of all they use regular bath towels around your ankles to pad them against the rope they use. Finally, the best part of all, rather than attach a backup line to your chest like they did in South Africa for our jump, they put a lifejacket over your head. Just incase you end up in the river, right? With all of that being said hundreds of people jump and they are fine yadayadayada, but my personal recommendation if you would like to bungee would be to do it at FaceAdrenaline in South Africa. It was an extremely professional operation and very focused on safety.

The rest of the walk between the two countries was a little dodgy as there were hundreds of trucks waiting to cross the borders and hundreds of people milling about trying to sell you things. We made it with no issues and paid the $20 USD entrance fee for the day to enter the Zambian Vic Falls Park.

The Zambian side, although only containing one-third of the falls, was more impressive than the Zimbabwean side at the time that we visited as you are much closer to the falls and thus they were much clearer. We did a short hike down to the ‘Boiling Pot’ and on the way witnessed one of the more hilarious wildlife encounters in all of our travels. A local couple was ahead of us and each had a bottle of water and the girl also had a bottle of orange Fanta. A baboon came out of the bushes and sat on the path obstructing the way. From his body language we could tell he wanted something, baboons are notorious for shaking people down for food. However, it quickly became apparent that what he was after was the orange Fanta! She placed the bottle on the ground and the cheeky devil walked by it and picked it up as you or I would and walked away with it! He promptly began pouring it on the ground and drinking it. Chris and I joked he prefered Coke but takes Fanta as a second option. We were happy our backpackers had warned us not to carry any food with us as the baboons will do anything to get it!

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That evening was spent by the fire chatting with several other guests. Luckily one of those guests happened to be on the same flight as us the next day and mentioned he had been contacted by priceline who he booked with to let him know the flight had been changed. We hadn’t received any communication so we quickly got on the horn to get things figured out. It had in fact been delayed by several hours, which is better than being earlier!

We were able to sleep in a bit the next day before heading to the airport. We were rather annoyed at the airport as they have implemented a new $50 USD departure tax and despite having booked our flights before it was implemented (which we vehemently argued until we had to board) they made us pay it. Most tickets now include this tax but because ours were booked pre-tax, it should have meant we were exempt. Something to bear in mind when booking tickets from the Vic Falls Airport!

We made it to O.R Tambo airport in Joberg a few hours later than originally planned but made it through passport control and customs without a hitch. We were picking our car up for our second month in South Africa at the airport so it was much more convenient. My next post will cover the first week back in South Africa!

Namibia: Our 7 day overland tour

As most of you know, Chris and I are not massive fans of organized tours or groups while traveling. We often find it is not a very authentic experience and for us that usually equates to it detracting from the experience. However, we ended up in a major time crunch to make our flight from Windhoek, Namibia to Victoria Falls. We wanted to see Namibia along the way to Windhoek, but every do-it-yourself option we explored did not fit our budget or time constraints. We therefore turned to overland tours and found a 7 day tour that fit our needs. We begrudgingly booked the tour to leave from Cape Town and to end in Swakopmund, which is a 5 hour drive away from Windhoek. We found a shuttle service that would take us from Swakopmund to Windhoek on the day before our flight.

The day of our tour departure we rocked up to the office with a slight apprehensive feeling. Immediately we recognized the tour was almost at capacity as we counted 20 other people waiting to be checked in. It was an hour of introductions where we all immediately forgot each others names while we waited to hit the road.

We finally got rolling and Chris and I were both very impressed with the layout and comfort of the truck. Each person had a locker for their belongings which was big enough to fit all of our bags, including our tent. The seats were large and comfortable and came with a pocket holder where you could store water bottles, books and other knicknacks you wanted access to while driving. There were overhead bins where you could store daybacks, snacks and other larger items. The windows were large and all opened the entire way for photo taking opportunities. Best of all they had a cable we could plug our ipods in to listen to music, and a cooler for our beverages!

Our first stop was at Table View, where we were rewarded with a spectacularly clear view of Table Mountain. The viewpoint really put into perspective the size of the mountain and how it towers over the city of Cape Town.

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The next stop was at a large shopping mall where we all had an hour to pick up anything we would need for the tour. Chris and I grabbed a bunch of snacks and a book each to help pass the time in the truck. After we picked up the things we needed we continued on to the Cederberg region of South Africa which was to be our campsite for the night. We arrived to our campsite shortly after noon and had a quick lunch with a round of introductions. The group was over 50% Dutch, and I will leave it to you to decide if this was a good thing or a bad thing! After lunch we had a tutorial of how to set up our tents, and went to work getting them ready for the evening. These tents were heavy duty safari camping tents, compared to our lightweight hiking tent they were positively enormous. We were also provided with nice thick matress pads which was a major step up the “glamping” ladder for Chris and I. We set our tent up next to the Australian couple, Nathan and Ayesha. We became what we all joked as ” fast friends” due to the amount we had in common and the fact they were absolute legends.

Chris and I went for a quick run while the rest of the group finished setting up their tents and getting ready for their dinner out. We opted not to go for the “traditional dinner and wine tasting package” as we had been in South Africa for almost a full month at that point and had plenty of both along the way. We stayed back at camp with our tour guide and were treated to a delicious beef stirfry. After the group got back we socialized for a few hours before it was time to turn in for the night. It was definitely a cold night spent in our tents, we all slept fitfully while battling to stay warm.

The next morning we got an early start and headed towards the Orange River that straddles the border of Namibia and South Africa. It was again a long day of driving in the truck but we passed the time easily with a few games. Our favorite had to be everyone taking turns plugging their ipods into the speakers and putting them on “All songs, shuffle” to see what people were really made of. A few hilarious songs made there way onto different peoples ipods and we had lots of fun teasing them about it.

On a quick stop to restock snacks and food I made a trip to the local pharmacy to grab a nasal decongestant. It was a rather hilarious experience as even though it is OTC the pharmacist still checked it and received a dispensing fee, and then locked it in a small cage with the receipt which I walked up to the cash register to be rung in. It certainly would cut down on the number of scripts that mysteriously walk out the front door!

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Once at the campsite we got our tents up and then Ayesha, myself and another girl on the tour got a workout in before dinner. While waiting for dinner to be finished we dabbled into a few bottles of wine, having been deceived by the size of the camping mugs we ended up well on our way to a good night. After dinner we headed to the bar area where Ayesha and I performed a dance number to Chandelier, and had an epic photoshoot compliments of Maren. Poor Maren had booked the accomodated tour but when she showed up there was a mixup and to make a long story short, she was stuck on our camping tour. God love her with multiple bottles of wine she championed her way through the mistake!

The next morning some people went canoeing, while a group of us stayed back and relaxed on the river jetty. I managed a run despite all of the wine! We had lunch and then quickly broke camp as we still had to cross the border and make it to Fish River Canyon before sunset.

Unfortunately, the border took longer than expected (not naming names, Matt) so we were in a bit of a hurry to make it to the caynon. Luckily we arrived just in time and Ayesha, Nathan, Chris and I were able to walk along the rim of the canyon as the sun set and get some amazing pictures. We did see two different snakes on our walk though, which I could have lived without!
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It was an early night at camp as we experienced a bit of rain, and we were all pretty tired from the previous nights adventures.

The next day we drove into the Namib-Naukluft Park where we did a quick canyon walk before setting up camp. Ayesha and I were able to fit a great run in while the sun set over camp.

I must make mention at this point the quality of food on tour. I admit my expectations were quite low after my safari in Tanzania, where the cooking was resourceful, but basic. I will never forget our grated carrot, butter, and bread sandwiches. The food was outstanding on this tour and I felt we were very spoiled! Ostrich and beef mince bolognase, beef stirfry, tuna pasta casseroles, braai’d porkchops and peanut cabbage sald are just a few examplea of the meals we experienced while on tour!

The next morning was our earliest start, waking at 4:30 am and the wheels were turning by 5 am. The reason for the early start was we were to climb Dune 45 for the best view of the sunrise that morning. We started out and it was absolutely freezing, I was again reminded the fickleness of the desert. Luckily it was steep enough that we warmed up a bit on the way up. The climb in the sand was exhausting in the same way walking through deep snow is. We made it to the top early enough that we were able to watch the changes in the sky as the sunrise progressed. It was a spectacular sunrise and once the sky brightened we got an even better look at our surroundings. The contrast of the red sand dunes and the brilliant blue sky was absolutely stunning. The Namib desert has some of the most interesting scenery we have experienced. It was a much more typical desert than that of the Jordanian desert, but still so unique.

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After the sunrise we made our way back down the dune to the truck where our amazing team had a hot breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast and most importantly coffee, waiting for us. We quickly ate and then hit the road to go even deeper into the Namib Desert. We were heading towards Deadvlei, or the Dead Valley, where there was the option to climb the highest dune in the area (Big Daddy) to get to the Dead Valley, or do an easier walk to arrive there. Chris and I chose Big Daddy along with a group of about 10 others. It was similar to the morning climb of Dune 45, except it was hotter now as the sun had risen, and it was much steeper with the sand less compact. I will admit it was challenging, but the view from the top was indescribable. 360° of pure awesomeness. There were mountains, dunes, the Dead Valley, and beautiful blue sky everywhere you looked. Climbing Big Daddy was an all time travel highlight, if you are in Namibia do not miss it!

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We thought the view from the top were going to be the best part of climbing Big Daddy, but the descent has to be one of the funnest things I have done. You simply run down the side of it. It is quite steep so you can get going really fast, but the sand is soft enough that you sink in a lot so you have excellent traction. It was a ball running down!

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Once at the bottom we were in the Dead Valley and the landscape was unlike anything else. It is a salt pan so the earth is dry and cracked, and the trees that grew when water was present are believed to be 900 years old. The sun has scorched them black and they do not decay because they are so dry and there are no termites present. This place is a photographers dream!

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We headed back to camp to pack up and have a quick bite to eat before continuing on. Our guide in training, Matt, cooked up an incredible potjieko (the traditional South African pot dish cooked over the fire that I have mentioned previously) for dinner. Chris and I opted out of the desert walk so we were able to watch him in action preparing the meal and pick up a few tips on how to prepare a potjieko. Our camp for the evening did not have electricity so we were treated to some of the best star gazing of the trip. There was also a watering hole at the camp and we were lucky enough to have a group of mountain zebras stop by for a drink.

The next day we made our way to our final destination, Swakopmund. This town is considered the adventure capital of Namibia and is where you can go skydiving, dune boarding, 4 wheel dune bugging adventures etc. Nothing particularly appealed to Chris or I (or fit in the budget) or Nathan and Ayesha so we headed to our lodge and relaxed for a few hours before our group dinner.

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We headed to a place called Napoltinas, an Italien restaurant (go figure), for dinner as a group. Nathan, Chris and I split three different pizzas and surprisingly they were quite good. One even had oryx on it, which I didn’t particularly enjoy but the guys did.

Conveniently attached to the restaurant is one of the towns only bars. We headed over as a group and had an absolute blast dancing the night away. The DJ played all the songs that made every girl yell, ” I love this song!!!” and had us all dancing so hard I really was afraid the wooden floor was going to give way. We introduced the group to “icing,” which is the art of buying a smirnoff ice and in a creative way having someone find it at which time they have to stop everything they are doing, take a knee, and drink it. Every single guest on the tour made it onto the dance floor which was awesome and made for a really fun night!

The next day Nathan, Ayesha, Chris and I spent the day relaxing and getting caught up on planning and emails. The resident cat, Sparkles, who I had met the evening before but had forgotten, spent the day relaxing with us. That afternoon we went for a long walk on the lovely beach where we found a really nice restaurant that we decided to make dinner reservations at for our last night together.

We headed to the restaurant for sundowners before dinner as they had a really nice outdoor seating area with a perfect view of the sunset. Corkage was $6.5 so we brought along a 1.5L of rose.

The restaurant itself was in a converted ship, and our table was where the steering wheel of the vessel would be. We split three appetizers; calamari, shrimp and john dory. I had a filet of king klip wrapped in phylo pastry with a coconut, cashew sauce over spicy rice which I cannot rave about enough! Chris had the king klip with a beautiful tartar sauce. The food was really excellent but the company was even better! We were so sad to say goodbye to Nathan and Ayesha, they are definitely the best couple we have had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with. I know we will meet up again in the (near) future which makes me very excited!

That night Chris and I awoke to a very familiar, but out of place noise; purring. We both sleepily looked at each other, and then at Miss Sparkles who was happily purring away in our bed, and then both panicked a bit. How did she get in? We must have left a door open? I jumped up and turned the lights on and checked both doors, which were shut and locked. I then walked into the bathroom where we had left the windown open a crack, which was enough for her to sneak her way in. Chris and I laughed and were going to kick her out, but she slyly hid under the bed until we had given up and turned the lights off and got back in bed. She then made her way back onto the bed and happily slept with us until the next morning.

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The next day Chris and I headed to the capital cit, Windhoek, where we caught our flight to Vic Falls the next morning. Our time there was unremarkable as we really just used it as a stopping over place.

What a post! My fingers are exhausted but I am happy to share with you our incredible experience with Nomad Tour. I highly recommend the company, we were very impressed with them. This tour has us very excited for our big tour in a little under a month!

Up next is our time in Vic Falls!

A slight change of plans

Hi everyone,

Our original trip itinerary included 45 days in Nepal to see the country and complete the Annapurna Circut. Due to the recent earthquakes and continuing aftershocks it is uncertain whether trekking is safe. They are bringing in experts to assess the situation but it is highly unlikely the results would be available before we headed to the country. These reasons led us to the decision to cancel our Nepal segment of the trip and save it for when the country has recovered and stabilized. This means we have an extra 45 days to work with, and we needed to decide what to do with it.

We used the very rainy weather in Cape town to do some research on different options for the extra time. We are in love with Africa so we began researching options for spending the time here. We found several overland tours that interested us so we contacted multiple companies inquiring about availability and price.

We received replies from all companies so we sat down and scrutinized the different itinerary options as well as the prices offered. We narrowed our options down to two tours, one 45 days from Johannesburg to Nairobi, and the other 49 days again from Jo’berg to Nairobi but taking a different route. We wrote emails inquiring about the possibility of discounts and then waited to hear back.

Once we heard back it was fairly obvious which option we were going to take, and I am excited to share with you our final decision on the 49 day Johannesburg to Nairobi tour. We delt with Tshokwane Safari company to book the tour and couldn’t be happier with the customer service we received. The actual tour operator is Africa Travel Co, or ATC, which is a very well established and reputable company in Africa. It starts July 19th and finishes on September 5th. We will visit Kruger National Park in South Africa before crossing into Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda to trek with the gorillas, and Kenya. We are SO excited for this epic adventure!

South Africa Part 5: Our final week

There were several towns after Mossel Bay that we could have stayed in, but we decided to go all the way to Cape Aguhlas, the most southern point in all of Africa. It made for a long day of driving but the other towns didn’t have highly recommended backpackers to stay in. We checked into the backpackers there and immediately fell in love with the place. It was so homey and the staff were absolutely amazing. They had an indoor braai fireplace, with the back of the fireplace consisting of a window so it didn’t close off the room and still gave off heat. The couches were situated around the fire and were more than a little inviting. They had a fully equipped kitchen, and best of all there was a lovely place on the comfy lawn for our tent. It was perfect.

There was a bachelor’s party going on over the weekend, so our first evening was spent having a few drinks and observing the hilarity of the boys. They had the bachelor in a pink dress and hat! The chef cooked up a massive braai, and even let us braai up our chicken. It was delicious!

That night was the first night we experienced rain. Our tent held up very well, but it made for a damp feeling night. The next day the rain continued heavily, so the staff kept the fire burning all day. We cozied up on the couches for the day and I was able to catch up on some blogging and we both were able to catch up on a lot of relaxing. That evening was part 2 of the bachelors, so it was again very entertaining. The best part of the whole evening was the border collie who loved playing pool, and kept catching the balls when the guys would try to make a shot and running away with them. It was adorable! We had another very rainy night in our tent, but it held up no problem!

The next day we drove to the monument saying we had reached the most southern tip of Africa and then continued on to Hermanus which is one of the best land viewing whale watching in the world. Unfortunately the whales don’t show up until July 1st, so we had a very rainy day spent at a local pub watching the waves smash against the rocks. The remainder of the day was spent recouping on the couch alongside the worlds fattest cat. We treated ourselves to a luxurious dorm bed for the night to give the tent a chance to dry out. After almost 3 weeks straight of sleeping on the ground (we are too cheap and have too little room to purchase floor mats) the bed was a heavenly change. I did not anticipate a dorm bed being a luxury, but that is the beauty of being on the road, the unexpected things that happen.

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The next morning was again very rainy and windy as we headed to Bettys Bay to view one of the only mainland based penguin colonies in the world (usually they settle on islands to protect them from predators). As tempting as it was to not leave the car we braved the weather to walk the boardwalk through the colony. They were so unbelievably adorable it was worth getting soaked for. They all had their nests and some were sleeping inside and others were waddling about braving the weather as well. They were so close to the boardwalk and there were so many of them that I could have watched them for hours had the weather not been so poor.

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We then headed to Stellenbosch where we had to pick up money from one of the wine tour agencies as we had originally booked for two tours there but only did one before heading to Franschhoek. We had a delightful lunch at a local cafe, where I had a pecan, blue cheese and rosemary tart, Chris had a roast beef sandwhich, and we split a potato and cheese soup.

It was then time to head back to Cape Town. I was nervous as the major highways and the roads within Cape Town are the most hectic we have experienced and thus the most risk for an accident. We made our way to our backpackers, Atlantic Point in Green Point, with only one close call. If you are driving always be cautious of the minibuses, called shared taxis, as they stop without warning or indication.

We again opted for dorm beds as the weather was proving to be continuously atrocious and our tent needed a bit more drying out.

The next day we dropped our car off first thing in the morning with the hope there would be no extra charges. When we pulled in there was a massive sign listing things that were acceptable to be wrong with the car and things that weren’t. Scratches to the rims were listed as acceptable, where dents were listed as unacceptable. I scratched the left side rims quite severely on my first day of driving so I was apprehensive about whether they would be deemed acceptable. We both sighed a huge sigh of relief when we were told it was in good condition and we wouldn’t be charged anything extra!

A friend we had met at the backpackers in Hermanus and was staying at the same backpackers in Cape Town picked us up from the rental agency and we headed down to the Cape of Good Hope. It was another horrifically rainy day, so most of it was spent in the car. Chris and he climbed to the top of the Cape of Good Hope in the rain while I opted to enjoy a hot coffee.

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The following day was again torrential downpouring so we stuck close to the backpackers relaxing and recharing our batteries. By the end of the day we were a bit shack happy and hopeful for sunshine the next day.

The following day we awoke to brilliant sunshine and were so happy to be able to finally start exploring Cape Town. We started with a free walking tour, and were happy with the 2 hour tour. We saw all the major sites including where Nelson Mandela gave his first speech as a free man, and where the apartheid documents were written. After the tour we stopped by the organic food market and enjoyed a sampling of many different vendors food.

The first Thursday of each month in Cape Town is called first Thursdays and all art galleries, restaurants and pubs in town stay open late. A group from the hostel went to take it in that evening, and it was very hustling and bustling. Art galleries are not particularly Chris nor I’s favorite thing, so we enjoyed the supper at a local restaurant the most. I had a mushroom patty burger with creamed leeks and shaved parmesean, it was delectable.

We had been waiting 6 days to go Great White Shark Cage Diving which continued to be cancelled due to the horrible weather, but we were finally able to go the next day. We were picked up at our backpackers in Cape Town at 8:30 am and brought to Gansbaai where the boats leave from. We were delayed leaving by 2 hours as a government official decided to do a spot inspection of our boat. This was a blessing in disguise because as soon as we got out to the cage a shark appeared, whereas the morning tour waited 2 hours and 40 minutes for their first shark! Our guides hurridly distributed the wetsuits and shouted at us to dress quickly as the shark was waiting for us! I was ready first and before I realized what that fully meant I was tossing my feet overside the boat and clamoring into the cage. As soon as I was in the cage by myself the full gravity of what I was doing hit me. I had just willingly climbed into a cage (that seemed much sturdier before I got in it with the knowledge a shark was circling) first out of our entire group. I felt incredibly vulnerable. Quickly they jammed the cage full with 7 other girls and began instructing us when to duck down and view the shark. The sharks were so close that you only needed a 15-30 second breathhold to view them, no snorkel or dive gear required. To see a great white in its natural habitat was an indescribable experience. They are magnificent creatures demonized by the media which is resulting in their dwindling numbers. A South African comedian named Trever Noah (who will replace Jon Stewart on the Daily Show, check him out!) said it best in one of his comedy shows. He said that he couldn’t understand why people are surprised when a shark attacks someone in the water, especially if they are surfing. He said you are in their natural habitat, what else would you expect? It would be the same thing as skateboarding through Kruger National Park and being surprised when you are attacked by one of the animals there. I couldn’t agree more!

The sharks were very fiesty, and for those of you who didn’t see my facebook videos it even slammed into the cage trying to get the chum. I won’t deny I was shaking from adrenalin and fear, but the company we went with, White Shark Diving Co was very professional and most importantly took safety very seriously. We had an amazing few hours taking turns in the cage. We were incredibly lucky and were able to see 5 different great whites and having numerous closer than anticipated encounters. A few fellow travelers from our backpackers went with a different company and waited several hours without seeing a shark before finally seeing one for a brief amount of time.

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Our final day in Cape Town was gloriously sunny and we woke up early to make the hike up Table Mountain. We took the myCiti bus there from Green Point and it took a bit of figuring out so I will share it with you in case anyone else wants to use the bus! Take the 108 OR 109 to the Adderley Station, then transfer to the 107 and take that to the Kloof Nek stop. At the Kloof Nek stop walk up the small hill towards Table Mountain and you will find the shuttle bus that will take you to the lower cable car! Easy once you figure out the route, unfortunately the routes are a bit difficult to understand. You can always call the toll free number on your card if you need help figuring out a route. Don’t forget to tap in at the start of your journey and out at the end. You do not need to tap out if you are transferring buses. In total it will take 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on the day of the week.

We climbed the Platteklip Gorge trail to the top of Table Mountain. They say at most it should take 2 hours, we hammered it out in an hour. It is no joke of a hike, make sure you bring water, sunscreen and a hat and sunglasses (we brought none of the above and sorely regretted it). We had a very clear day so were rewarded with spectacular views. We watched a few people abseiling and think it would be great fun to try if we had more time. We walked around the top for a while before taking the cable car down. I really enjoyed the hike up but I think the hike down would be rather treacherous. The cable car is a nice option for the way down.

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The next day we left on our tour to Namibia! Stay tuned for my recap of our experience!

South Africa Part 4: The Garden Route

Hi everyone!

The Garden Route is the 300 km stretch between Mossel Bay and just beyond Plettenberg bay. It is one of the most famous drives in South Africa with people taking anywhere from 3 hours to 3 weeks to complete it. We started our route further east in Jeffreys Bay, and ended in Cape Town, so we drove much more than just the Garden route, but I will cover only the garden route section in this post. We took our time and completed the drive From Jeffreys Bay back to Cape Town in 8 days. Below is our itinerary and recap of our activities along the way!

From Jeffreys Bay we drove an hour and 15 minutes to the Tsitsikamma National Park. The park is famous for two things; its massive trees, and being home to the worlds highest (natural) bungee jump. Apparently there is a higher jump in Australia but it is from a crane rather than something in a natural setting. Chris and I have been very tame with our adrenaline sports thus far on the trip, so we decided to break the streak by tackling the bungee. We rocked up to the bungee place and in no time we were in harnesses. Then we had an agonizing wait looking at the bridge and watching others jump before it was our turn.

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Finally we were given the safety brief and instructions for jumping and then lead to the bridge. At the back of the bridge a walkway has been constructed, and while you walk you can see everything below you. The walkway itself was malleable, so it had some give to it. It was really terrifying but all I kept thinking was, “If I can’t make it across this, how will I possibly jump off?”

We arrived to the platform and were given our jumping order (with me being the second jumper while Chris was jumper 6 or 7) before the DJ kicked into high gear with awesome music to distract us from the inevitable.

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The first person jumped and hardly seemed phased at all. Before I knew it I was getting geared up to go. Honestly, from that point on time speeds up and everything seems to be a blur until the moment I was fully ready to go.
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As soon as the guys working said jump forward to the edge, time seemed to warp and slow down enough for me to think, “Am I really doing this?” Then I heard, “3,2,1 BUNGEE!” and I am bending my knees ready to launch off the platform. For a split second it felt like one of those dreams with the falling sensation that wake you with a start, but then I was free falling and luckily I did not have any ground sensation. Then the bungee gently recoiled, and the full realization that I did it hit. I had 3-4 recoils where I was spinning and continuing to have a whole lot of fun.

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As the recoils subsided I became increasingly aware I was dangling upside down by my feet. I kept feeling like my feet were going to slip right out of the holds and I was going to plummet to my death. The irony is not lost on me that I was more afraid waiting to be brought up than jumping off the ledge. A guy propels down to you and gets you into a seated position for the ride back up. He was very entertaining, a welcomed distraction to how high in the air we were. As my feet touched the platform I let out a massive sigh of relief!

Chris had several jumpers ahead of him, and I was thankful I didn’t have to wait long before jumping. The more you wait, the more the anticipation builds. Finally it was his turn, and they rigged him up with a proper arm strap to secure his shoulder (unlike the toothless wonder running the rope swing in Banos, Ecuador who simply duct taped his arm). He kind of looked like a bird with a wounded wing, it was adorable. When he jumped he had one arm in the air with a closed fist, much akin to Superman. It was epic. He too felt uncomfortable during the wait to be brought back up.

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After our big jumps we headed to the onsite restaurant for a lunch and a celebratory beer. It was well deserved!

We did a quick bit of backtracking to the Storms River Bridge before continuing on to Plettenberg Bay. We found our accommodation, African Array Lodge, in the Coast to Coast book. (This is a book with all of the backpackers in South Africa in it. It is free and available at all the backpackers. It is very useful!) The lodge was one of our all time favorite backpackers/hostels. It had an absolutely incredible 360° view and Matthew and Vicky who own the lodge were the most welcoming people and made us feel at home immediately. Both the sunrise and sunsets each day were breathtaking. Each evening three fires were lit; one on the lower deck, one on the upper deck by the bar, and one in the living room with comfy couches and the t.v. South Africa has really driven home how social a fire can be, and that you can be creative with your indoor fire spaces.

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Our first evening at African Array Lodge was spent around the fire during load shedding listening to a Mr. Jimmy Anderson sing and play the guitar. Jimmy is walking from Cape Town to Cairo over the next 2 years to raise awareness for water rights, and promote his amazing music (Check out his facebook page called Walk the Talk). He is one of the most inspirational and interesting people Chris and I have the pleasure of meeting. His music is really amazing, we bought one of his cds to have for our car. It was a really special evening.

The next day we headed into town to hike the Robbeg Peninsula. It was a warm and sunny day and we had a very enjoyable day hiking the entire peninsula. We stopped for a while to watch the seal colony, which reminded us of our time in the Galapagos Islands. At the end of the hike we stopped by the Nelson Bay Cave, which is an archeological site dating back to 125 000 years ago. They had a section of the rock wall exposed so you could see the different time periods throughout the dirt, it was fascinating. I geeked out for you Patrick!

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That night was spent much like the previous; around the fire listening to Jimmy’s incredible music.

The next day we set out early without knowing exactly how far we were going to make it. We stopped in Mossel Bay for a delicious lunch, but decided to press on as it was very windy and cold along the coast which would make for a miserable evening.

That marked the end of the Garden Route for us. To be honest, it was no more beautiful than anywhere else we visited in the country, but it was as spectacular. I would recommend it just as highly as Route 62!

Stay tuned for my next post on Cape Aguhlas, Hermans, Bettys Bay, and Cape town!