We've had a cracking month in South Africa - it's been a great start to our African adventure and a good way of getting into the swing of being backpackers again. We have managed to fool quite a few people into thinking we are still in our twenties so am happy with that!
We've had quite a busy time and done so much over the last few weeks. We had a great time in Cape Town, a city with a truly spectacular setting between Table Mountain and the ocean, with beautiful surrounding beaches like the upmarket Camps Bay. The views from Table Mountain were also amazing and Robben Island (where Mandela et al were imprisoned) was interesting too. Another highlight was spending the day with Kearney, a South African who took us to his house for an Afrikaaner braai (barbeque) with his parents, all of whom carried guns 24/7 - bit surreal!
We also loved Stellenbosch, a university town surrounded by vineyards - we spent a fun day cycling round the wineries with some Dutch friends, tasting delicious wines in each one. We stopped in sleepy Knysna on the Garden Route, where I bought a lovely painting for only 4 pounds and then headed (on a 12 hour coach jouney) to Coffee Bay on the Wild Coast. We spent a couple of chilled days on the beach before heading up to Durban, a cool city by the sea where they're gearing up for World Cup madness.
We headed from there to Johannesburg, where despite its bad reputation we had a couple of good days - we checked out the Apartheid museum there which was fascinating. Yem was taken aback when they made us 'swap identities' at the entrance - I was made to go through the 'Non-Whites' entrance, whilst Yem went through the 'Whites Only' entrance. It struck home to see all the legislation the regime brought in to bring full apartheid into effect - the first was the 'Prohibition of Inter-racial Marriages Act'!
We've spent the last few days on a safari in the Kruger National Park, which is apparently the size of Wales! Our guide Louis was great and Yem also turned out to be a champion wildlife spotter - we saw lions, cheetahs, leopard, rhino, elephants, hippos, giraffes, impala, kudu, lots of birds and a wee leopard tortoise. The highlights were a herd of elephants of all sizes very close to us, baby rhinos and hippos and the most beautiful leopard, apparently a very elusive creature.
South Africa is a very complex country with lots of problems and tensions, and we have enjoyed talking to so many people about how they see the place, and their hopes and fears for the future. The World Cup will see the eyes of the media on the country, and hopefully the event won't be spoilt by reports of crime against tourists - many people here are concerned about this. In the last few weeks we've felt the tingling excitement building and the warm up match between SA and Thailand really brought everyone together, which is hopefully a sign of things to come....
Tomorrow we're off to Mozambique for more adventures, hopefully to include lots of beach time and diving!
Soph & Yemi xxxxx