Franschhoek is Capetown’s Napa Valley

Africa 389We stayed on a family farm/vineyard in Franschhoek. The farm was a combination of fruit orchards, olive trees and vineyards. The fruit is all shipped to the EU in their winter, Franschhoek’s summer. The olives are pressed into their own olive oil and the grapes are turned into their own label wine by another winery. We stayed in one of 6 guest cottages. They were quite luxurious and well guarded by the farm dog Joey. He is walking with me on the farm in top photo. As a guest, all tastings in the tasting room along with bread and their olive oil were complimentary. A bottle of wine appeared in the room each day.

Franschhoek was the highlight of our trip. One hour drive out of Capetown, they cooled in the evening from Capetown’s fog and boiled during the day under the sun. Sounds like Napa Valley. This valley was like vineyards in the Swiss Alps. amazingly beautiful terrain. Ran across a couple from Scotland who spend their winters here in their home. Charles Branson just bought a boutique hotel here to add to his hotel collection. We will return. Africa 377 Africa 385Africa 387


Africa 335Capetown is quite a beautiful city. We stayed in a hotel at Victoria Wharf. The area is much like San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, even with the morning fog. No sour dough French bread though. I would have to say it is actually nicer, cleaner and better organized. We purchased a two day pass on the double decker red tourists busses and saw the city in its entirety, even the three wineries and vineyards within the city limits. The southern coastal area of the city looks like the French Riviera with multi million dollar residences built down the cliffs to the beaches. There are numerous beach districts along the coast road with these homes.

We road the cable car to the top of Cable Mountain for spectacular views of the city and Southern tip of Africa.  Africa 338Africa 348Africa 352

Double Rainbow at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe to the Right, Zambia to the Left

Africa 269Africa 316Africa 238Africa 277The falls drop off into the river below for over one mile in length. The river is part of the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. We flew into Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe from Johannesberg on none other than British Airways. The falls experience was quite wet to say the least. One walks the length of the falls on a paved walkway at the top of the cliff for the entire one mile stopping at numerous pop out viewing areas. The mist was a wet experience. Very beautiful none the less. The town of Victoria Falls was small but interesting. Never felt threatened. Was quite vicious for tourists 10 years ago. Plenty of warthogs roaming the streets during the day and elephants late at night but we were snug in our beds by then. Plenty of great restaurants run by expats.

Bull Elephant Having a Leisurely Lunch

Africa 121The male elephants are solitary and loners. They are huge. The female elephants also have tusks. The elephant packs are always females and their children. The male elephants visit females at night as needs arise. They stay to themselves the rest of the time. Glad our Avis “whatever it is” can out run the elephants. They are also one of the Big Five. (Not the Avis rental)

The King of the Jungle and One of the Big Five

Africa 204On an evening drive (24 passenger truck) we came upon an entire pride of lions. This guy was lying in the middle of the road. Took one look at me (front seat) and licked his chops. Never felt so wanted. Funny thing, he could have hopped into the truck but they never do. Vehicles are an amazing barrier to all the animals. If you get out they will either run or attack.We followed him down to the intersection, peeing or marking territory along the way (the lion) (captured on video) and as we rounded the turn there were 4 more lions as my batteries died.  Trust me.

Safe and Sound Inside Our Rest Camp For the Night Behind Electified Fences

Africa 209Funny, we sleep within electric fenced compounds to keep the free range animals away from us. That is a hyena on the sign. This area of Kruger Park is blessed with a lot of hyenas. They will run around the perimeter fencing at night looking for a way in. Guess they like people. We were in the Free Range area of Kruger Park. If the animals wish, they can roam into either Zimbabwe or Mozambique. There are no border fences. The other half of Kruger Park is sectioned into Private Reserves. These Private Reserves are completely perimeter fenced with electric fences to keep the animals in. Each Private Reserve covers many square miles of territory. The animals are protected and controlled by the National Park system within these reserves and lead as normal of a life as they would Free Range. The government leases concessions within these reserves  for the luxurious private tent camps. This is where the Americans and Europeans go on safari and spend $500-1,000USD  per night per person to see the animals. Rumor has it that the big five in the reserves have GPS attachments. One should be guaranteed a sighting for $1,000 a night. We did Kruger Park like the South Africans. Stayed in the Rest Camps and took the same 3 hour long evening or late afternoon game drives for $25 USD per person. Our ensuite, air con bungalows with full kitchen ran $85-125 per night for two. Rest camps have restaurants, swimming pools, coin op laundries, general stores etc.

Amazing Diversified Wild Life

Africa 017 Africa 113 Africa 140Africa 113Africa 140Africa 207This guy was sunning on the road inside our rest camp. He was about 16 inches long. Not what I would call very camouflaged. There were tons of interesting whatevers to see. Saw a few snakes, one very poisonous crossing the road. There are 74 species of snakes in Kruger Park. The bird life was over the top. Large, small, colorful, weird and funny looking. We had an animal guide for the park and were able to verify over 30 different birds.