We 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.
Capetown 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.
Zimbabwe has no currency of its own. Their official money is the United States dollar. The worn bills are never removed from circulation since they can’t print replacements. Tourists bring new money into the country. The government loves those $50 USD entry fees.
When the locals found out I was from Oakland, they asked me to come onto the stage and teach the locals a few dance moves. I obliged and they learned quickly. The buffet dinner after was amazing. I ate springbock, crocodile, warthog and mopani worms (fried).
The 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)
On 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.
Funny, 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.