As you know, I went to South Africa for 3 and a half weeks, so I’m going to let you know what we got up to.
We stayed with my grandparents, like we normally do. This year, my sister’s best friend for 15 years came with us, so this holiday was slightly more touristy for her benefit. However, she did say that she enjoyed “living like a local”, as we stayed with family and friends.
We went to Robben Island, infamous for being where Nelson Mandela was held prisoner for nearly 20 years. I’d already been to Robben Island, but that was a few years ago so it was nice to go again and learn more about it. What made it better was that the tour guides had been prisoners themselves, so they really knew what they were talking about. Mandela’s prison guard, Christo Brand, also came to talk to us for a little bit, and said that when he first came to work at Robben Island, he was 18 years old (my age!!) and that what he saw was not prisoners, but people. He has recently written a book called “Mandela: My Prisoner, My Friend”, if any of you are interested!
On the boat trip to and from the Island, we saw quite a lot of wildlife, including seals, penguins and a whale (but I was on the wrong side of the boat, so I only saw the whale very briefly). But this wasn’t a big deal, because on one of the days we went to Kalk Bay Harbour and there were loads of seals, and we also got to see another whale.
We spent a week in Plettenburg Bay, in which we walked around Robbe Burg and saw more seals; we went to Addo Elephant Wildlife Park, which is a bit like a smaller Kruger Park, except it was made to protect the declining elephant population and I think there are around 600+ elephants there now. We also saw plenty of birds, zebras, a lion, and many warthogs- we even nicknamed one “Spy Hog”, because when we saw our first elephant on the right side of the car, Spy Hog was halfway up the hill on the left just standing there, watching us for about 20 minutes! Eventually it moved off, but then we saw it’s little head poke out of the bush only a few steps away from where it was standing beforehand.
We ate so much food while we were away. I really need to start doing some exercise to get rid of the weight I must have put on! However, the food we had was amazing, and often well deserved, like when we climbed up Skeleton Gorge to reach the top of Table Mountain. My Grandpa said that it would take 45 minutes to reach the top of the Gorge, and 30 minutes to go across the top of the mountain to the Cable Station. It took us nearly 3 hours to reach the top, because some members of our group were less fit than others. But it was nice to take it slowly. The trek also included a clamber across a waterfall, which was probably the best part of the whole climb! The way back down was quicker, I think it only took us an hour, but I think it was harder because by this point, my legs would tremble whenever I stopped, so going down steep ladders and climbing down rocks proved to be more difficult! We didn’t go all the way across to the cable station, because according to the signpost, it would take us another three hours, so we walked on for a little bit before heading back.
If you’re unaware of the electricity situation currently happening in South Africa, they are having “load shedding”, which is basically where Eskom, the power supplier, turns of the electricity for 2 hours in certain areas, because they are having a bit of a technical problem. Well, it’s a bit more than that, but I don’t know it all, so you can google it if you’re that interested! This meant that on a couple of nights, we had to turn on torches and light candles. It didn’t really cause that much trouble, and it was nice to sit in the dark and talk. We also went out onto the veranda to try and see how many houses had back-up generators, as well as looking at the stars.
We have a few traditions when we go to South Africa, one of which includes going to Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden (which is where we set off for our Skeleton Gorge trek), and we also went to Cape Point, and walked all the way up to the lighthouse. My 87-year-old Grandpa made it all the way up to the top and back again without too much effort! My sister, our friend and I were approached by a guy who was trying to convert us to Christianity, and as kind as he was, we weren’t really interested. His friends were waiting for us at the top, and by this point I had walked ahead, so I missed the photo opportunity!
So those are just a few of the highlights from our trip this year. If you ever get the chance to go to South Africa, it is definitely worth it, because there is so much to do, and it’s so different to any other country I’ve been to. Although in saying that, I think it does have some similarities to certain parts of America, but I’ve only been there once and that was about 8 years ago!
*All photos taken are my own*