|Coming to you live from South Africa!
The ship arrived in Cape Town, South Africa at sunrise on Sunday October 3. Let me tell you, Cape Town is beautiful from the water, particularly at sunrise. Robben Island was off to our right pulling in to the port, the World Cup Stadium directly ahead of us, and the gorgeous Table Mountain behind that. After meeting with the diplomats and customs agents, we were finally about to get off the ship around 10:00 A.M. and Nick and I spent most of the first day walking around the port looking for a camera for me and iPod speakers for him. Not much to tell besides that the mall at the Prince Albert Port is quite nice and the 7-Star Hotel, The Table Bay, was even nicer. It was a Sunday so lots of people were out and about though we were didn’t stand out nearly like we did in Ghana. That evening, Nick and I went to a restaurant called Beluga because it was half price Sushi and half price drinks. We got the “Blonde Platter” which included raw tuna wrapped in seared Tuna, salmon roses (with caviar on top), California rolls, raw salmon strips, among a few other rolls I didn’t recognize. It was a steal for what we got. There were some SAS girls at the restaurant so we decided to follow them to Long Street. It is literally the longest street in Cape Town and is where much of the popular restaurants and bars are located. The Dubliner was an Irish Pub with a live musician playing American songs and for some reason we chose that one, but it was very fun, the girls got up on stage and sang, and there was a good mix of natives, Brits, and tourists there to have fun.
The next morning, we woke up at 8:00 A.M. to go Great White Shark diving with a group of about 25. We took a long 2-hour bus ride and finally made it to the place in Gansbai. It was windy so the water was pretty rough; the captain said if it was any rougher, we wouldn’t have been able to go. We got out a couple miles off the coast, and the crew threw in a fake seal, some fish guts, and half a fish on a hook. Soon enough, 4-5 Great Whites would come up go for the bait, and the crew would pull it away. It was UNBELIEVABLE. Then … they told us to put on our 7mm thick wetsuits :/ 8 of us (Stacy, Nick, Adam, and I included) put on our wetsuits and waited for the sharks to come back, and waited, and waited. The anticipation was killing me. After waiting for about 45 minutes and moving locations, they finally returned, they tied the 15 foot long cage and it was about 2.5 feet wide. 8 of us jumped in the 15 degree Celsius water. We’d wait with our heads above water, holding the top of the cage, until the captain yelled, “DOWN AND TO THE RIGHT!” So we’d all push ourselves to the bottom of the cage, hold onto the underwater railing, and look to the right. Sure enough a massive Great White comes into view, eyes up the bait, and goes for it. CROKEES LOOK AT THAT CREATURE! As Steve Irwin used to say. Each group was allotted 15 ‘passes’ of the shark going for the bait, but a couple of us got to go twice :) It was an incredible experience, a little scary when the shark got really close to the cage, but never once did the shark act like he knew the cage was even there. He was there for one reason and one reason only: the bait. After a long day of shark diving, we headed back to Cape Town, and got ready for dinner. One of the most popular restaurants in town, Mama Africa, is where we decided to go the second night for some REAL African food. It was a hoppin’ atmosphere and we got to try Crocodile (tasted a lot like chicken), Ostrich, Antelope, and boar (all tasted a lot like beef, but a little richer in flavor).
The next morning, Tuesday morning, Stacy, Adam, and I were all scheduled for the same safari. The group took a bus to the Cape Town Airport to take a flight to the Durban Airport (Northwest). Both airports were just recently redone for the World Cup and were in pristine condition for an airport in Africa. We arrived in Durban, took a 2 hour bus ride to the zuzuland out in the middle of nowhere S.A. There we were staying in a tree lodge up on stilts because in the rainy season, the property can be underwater. That being said, the area is currently suffering of an 8 year drought and many of the rivers are dried out. In one of my pictures, you can even see the ribcage of a rhino because he is so thirsty. The bungalows were great, the food was even better, and the safaris were once in a lifetime. We saw rhinos, giraffes, antelope, elephants, zebras, water buffalo, and baboons among a collection of different bird species including the vulture. No lions or leopards though :( The guide told us the rain scares the cats. Fun fact: lions sleep for 22 hours per day; the other 2 hours they spend hunting and drinking (water of course). If the lions have a big meal, like an elephant for example, they will sleep for 2-3 days. The game reserve was the oldest in South Africa, Africa, and most believe the oldest in the world. It was 100,000 acres! On the flight back, the captain of the international rugby team – the Springboks – was on our flight.
The last day, we took the cable car to the top of Table Mountain. Unfortunately we didn’t end up hiking because we wanted to spend some time on the internet, but it was still very fun and gorgeous from the top. The cable car was a little freaky, but not as freaky as the Great Whites. Just as a point of reference – The Rockies are 75 million years old, Table Mountain is 260 million years old.
Needless to say, South Africa was a great success. That is probably the last time in my life I will see most of those animals. If anyone is looking for a new spring break destination, I think they should seriously consider South Africa. It is a wonderfully different country: recently gaining independence from the British; recently unified. There’s so much to see, from rugby matches to incredible hikes to the penguins down on the southern most point of Africa. So many stories; so many memories.
Much love from the middle of the ocean,