We're back in South Africa to enjoy some more hospitality from Vanda's brother and sister in law, Stefan and Naski. We had intended to stay 1 week or so before heading off on our overland Africa trip. But the overland tours were all booked up until mid July so we've ended up staying 3 weeks with them. It's winter now in South Africa and we had a bit of a shock when we arrived at 6am to find a frost on the ground!! At least the days are sunny and warm with clear blue skies and temperatures of 20-22. It's also their dry season so no rain.
Lucky for us Stefan is between jobs so he was able to take us on another Road trip, this time to Kruger National Park. We spent 4 nights staying in the park, at 2 different camps, and spent each day from dawn until dusk wildlife spotting. We were really lucky and saw loads of wildlife, with young, and really close up. We saw lots of elephants, giraffes, wildebeest, hippos, crocodiles, cape buffalo, zebras, impala, kudu and rhinos - both Black and White ones. Rhinos are increasingly targeted by poachers and additional measures are being put into place to protect them. It's hard for us to understand the mindset of those who would choose to kill such stunning and gentle creatures just for their horn. We were also lucky enough to spot 3 leopards, on 1 occasion we watched the leopard for several minutes walking along a dry riverbed before taking a chance at catching an impala for its dinner. It was a half hearted attempt and the impala got away but it was amazing to witness. We also followed a hyena along the road -they've got such attitude and seem to walk with an arrogant strut. We also saw 2 Black backed jackals and some small wild cats- the civet and genet.
We've been on an interesting walking tour around a part of Jo'burg that few tourists get to see. An area of the city where minority groups have settled and have opened shops and businesses. We visited an egyptian perfume shop; a clothes shop selling Muslim clothes; a Hindu prayer shop; a halal butcher; an egyptian hooka (hubbly bubbly) shop; and a whole street called 'little Somalia'. It was interesting to see all the different cultures and nationalities living and trading side by side. In particular we enjoyed the somalian area where the local traders came out to greet us. It seems they have very few white visitors and we ended up being the tourist attraction with the locals taking our photos! They even gave a little speech to welcome us. We felt very safe walking around the area and the guide explained herbs and spices that they use in cooking and we saw traditional coffee being roasted and ground. It was interesting see that over 70% of the group were locals from Johannesburg- who had never been to this part of the city! It seems that a lot of local south Africans stay within their own areas, that they consider to be safe, and have a fear of visiting places that other racial groups call home. Chatting to some of them over lunch at a lovely indian restaurant their views have changed and they would now feel safe visiting these areas on their own to shop for traditional foods etc. Stefan and Naski shop in these areas already as they are used to eating and living amongst different cultures having come from Dubai.
We enjoyed meeting some of Stefan and Naski's friends at a cauldron party- where there was lots of hearty soups and a cauldron full of gluhwein.. We all kept warm around the fire pits but there was no naked dancing or spells cast (as far as we were aware! )
Went to Gilroy's english pub in joburg with some of Stefan &Naski's friends. C was very excited to see english style ales brewed there. We enjoyed watching the locals dancing to the live entertainment - whilst V has been known to dance on the tables she declined joining in on a sunny Sunday afternoon (yes- they really were dancing on the tables! ).
We also had fun helping Stefan & Naski host a wine tasting party. They belong to a wine tasting club who meet once a month & this month there were 14 Pinot Noirs to taste. They take it a bit more seriously than our wine tasting evenings we enjoy with Pete and Ali & co. They even provide spitoons (what a waste ;-)).
South Africa does produce some lovely wines and are very reasonably priced so we have enjoyed trying quite a few.
On Sunday we went to watch the Lipizzaner horses- beautiful white performing horses. The only other place you can see them is in Vienna, where the breed originated. We saw how the young horses are trained as well as a synchronised performance to music which was amazing. After the show V enjoyed meeting some of the horses and feeding them a few carrots.
We're making the most of the last few days in Jo'burg, enjoying the warmth and cosiness of real fires and watching the complete series of Jonathan Creek, as well as making a fuss of the 8 dogs..