We had a fantastic time in Madagascar - awesome scenery, amazing wildlife, happy and friendly locals (and a few creepy crawlies!) But we were both happy to get back to a bit of luxury with Stefan & Naski. We had 1 day at home before we set off on a road trip that Stefan had arranged to show us a bit more of South Africa. We set of at 2am on Saturday (to avoid the traffic through the city) and made good progress until we had a tyre blow out at 7am - the main highway is an A road with trucks thundering past so we were all on duty to try and keep Stefan & Craig safe whilst they changed the tyre on the outside (luckily the traffic isn't like city traffic at home!) We travelled 1400km on the first day and visited Cape Town on the day of Nelson Mandela's funeral - after watching some of the memorial on TV we went to the beach for a paddle in the south Atlantic ocean before driving up Signal Hill for a lovely view of Robben Island, which seemed quite appropriate. The clouds hung over Table Mountain, like a table cloth, so we didn't go up to the top in the cable car (much to Vanda's relief!) The next day we visited Cape Agulhus - the most southernly tip of South Africa, where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic.
We spent the next 4 days travelling along some of the famous Garden Route passing vineyards and orchards and quaint seaside town and enjoyed picnics by the sea. We visited National Parks to spot birds and took some interesting roads to get off the beaten track - although the dirt roads were better than the main highways in Madagascar! We spotted wildlife as we went- including Ostrich, Springbok, baboons, vervet monkeys and numerous birds including buzzards and blue cranes (the national emblem of South Africa, but not often seen).... We spent approx 4-5 hrs a day on the road and there was still very little traffic - very different to the UK (especially the week before Christmas!) We spent our last day staying at a game lodge, with different types of buck , water buffalo, wildebeest free to wander around the bungalows and lodge. In the morning we had a drive around and saw lots of white lions and other big cats that they breed. They were in large fenced areas but it was still sad to see such majestic animals in captivity.
We spent many hours driving through amazing scenery with lots of barren scrubland surrounded by mountains. It really gave us a feel for the size and scale of the country.
We're now back at Stefan & Naski's getting ready for a big christmas gathering - there will be about 20 of us, including friends, neighbours and extended family. Everyone seems to have left Jo'Burg for the coast as the shops are still empty and the mood relaxed - none of the christmas panic we are used to! Shall go for a dip in the pool when we're back from shopping, before wrapping up the pressies to go under the tree.
We're thinking of you all and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.