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Friday 24 Feb
Cape Town, South Africa

A farewell to Southern Africa

Despite still feeling extremely groggy (and the Merc surviving without a scratch!) I managed to get up on time and drove off to the Brazen Head pub to pick up the box of wine and my sunglasses that I'd left there before the night really started getting crazy (otherwise that would have been the 2nd pair of sunglasses I'd lose on this trip)! Just my luck for arriving on a "Thirsty Thursday" in Cape Town's university party town...

Headed back to Cape Town International airport early enough, head pounding all the way.

My flight was due to leave at 8pm that night, but I had to drop the car off at the airport by 11.55am (I arrived in the nick of time) so was forced to waste the entire day in the airport. At least I got some time to sleep off the hangover and also managed to secure a FIRE EXIT seat for the flight back home. I went to the South African Airways desk and made up a story about being hospitalised with damaged capillaries after my cramped flight over from London.

At 8pm we took off over a lit-up Table Mountain. Couldn't have asked for a better view, it was the perfect send-off! Slept soundly on the flight that night, despite experiencing the downside with FIRE EXIT seats: people walking on your feet while queing for the toilet. You can never win, next time I fly Business class.

Southern Africa has been a truly eye-opening experience. It wasn't anything like I was expecting and has turned my view of Africa completely upside down. Until this trip I'd only experienced the far north and east of Africa, which delivered on my expectation of a 3rd-world continent, but I was truly surprised by how 1st-world South Africa was, followed closely by Namibia. Even Zimbabwe seemed to have a better infrastructure than parts of east Africa.

Everything from the safe driving and drinkable tap-water, to the great roads (the gravel roads in Namibia were better than some I drove on in Australia) and well developed tourist industry. It all really took me by surprise and has given me a whole new perspective on Africa.

Some racism still exists though. I never saw an inter-racial group of school children walking together .. always a group of whites or a group of blacks, plus off-the-cuff derogatory references toward blacks were made when I was in Zimbabwe... but it was good to hang out with the mixed-race students in Stellenbosch where black and white seemed to get along well and both were ready to work together in the new South Africa.

Even the homeless people I encountered on the way seemed to be doing ok, and sounded somewhat posh! Perhaps this was the accent. Saying "Ya" instead of "Yes" always has a ring of colonial British snootiness about it. Laughing

Here are a selection of highlights from the trip....

- Diving with Great White Sharks

- The diamond-mining ghost town of Kolmanskop which is being smothered by the Namib desert

- Photographing huge Namib desert sand-dunes and Quad-biking

- Seeing hundreds of elephant and giraffe on safari in Zimbabwe

- White water rafting and jumping gorges in Victoria Falls!

- Getting nicely toasted on a wine-tour

Overall very happy with the Western Cape. Friendly locals, beautiful women, endless possibilities and a perfect climate. What more could anyone want?? Already planning a return trip ... despite a few niggles on the trip, my tour largely went smoothly and to plan. I've really fallen in love with Southern Africa and safety was never an issue in my experience (although there was one dubious charge made to my credit card, but that could happen anywhere, and was easily resolved).

Would I move here? In a heartbeat.

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Sithern Efrika

Travel blog by peterforan

Great White Shark cage diving

Great White Shark cage diving


20 days to sample the "other" down-under... a trip covering parts of South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe in February. Cape Town to Vic Falls get the treatment, while I mix in a safari or two... Now where did I put that elephant gun?

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    Yellow billed hornbill