Lower Sabie Rest Camp
Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park
Our South Africa trip began with flights from Louisville, Kentucky to Washington, D.C. where we were supposed to join our friends Jackie & Tony and Ed & Marilyn for a flight to New York where we were supposed to spend the night.
Well, we got off to a rough start. Our plane was late, and we got into D.C. just as our next flight was leaving the gate. Our travel companions were concerned, and we were in near panic mode. But, fortunately, after a night spent in Washington, we caught an early morning flight and made it in time to catch the long flight to South Africa on South African Airways.
It was a 16-hour, 8,000-mile, non-stop flight, by far the longest flight we'd ever been on.
I don't think any of us got as much sleep as we would've liked, but the flight wasn't too bad and the airline took good care of us. Still, we were glad to get on the ground in Johannesburg. We arrived around 8:30 a.m. South Africa is six hours ahead of U.S. Eastern time. We don't have watches, but the others made the adjustment.
We got through customs quickly and our bags came fast. Though they were checked all the way to Cape Town, this was our point of entry into the country, so we had to pick them up and re-check them. With nothing to declare, we got re-checked fast.
Then we stood in line to get our American dollars converted to South African rand. The conversion rate was 7.70 Rand for each U.S. dollar. It will take getting used to seeing 70R for something that would cost about $9 in the U.S.
While waiting for our last flight and being a little disheveled, we all had a drink and a toast to our trip.
Finally, we were on the last plane - a 2-hour, 800 mile trip to Cape Town. After our adult beverages, Linda & I could barely keep our eyes open. I was already asleep by the time we taxied out to the runway. Then we sat there. The pilot came on the intercom.
"Ladies and gentlmen, we have a passenger onboard that is ticketed for another destination. We will be returning to the gate." I was too tired to care, but those seats weren't nearly as comfortable as on the long flight. With the extra hour of delay, we were ready to be done with flying.
Flying into Cape Town is beautiful. There were mountain ranges all around as we descended. Beyond the mountains we could see the city and the coast. To the west of the city is the Atlantic Ocean and to the east is the Indian Ocean.
Finally, we were on the ground. What a relief! All our bags arrived, too.
Exiting the terminal we were greeted by Jackie's sister, Carolyn, and by a guy that was delivering our rental van. Of course, we were an hour late, so we were glad they were still there.
We piled into the van, a 10-passenger Toyota Quantum, and Tony took the wheel. Oh yeah, in South Africa, they drive on the left side of the road and the driver's seat is on the right side of the vehicle. Another difference to get used to.
Yikes, Cape Town drivers are a bit crazy and the highways were a little scary. But we finally made it safely to Carolyn's Durbanville Hills Villa B&B (no longer a B&B).
We got all our stuff in our rooms and took a little tour. But we were anxious to get showers and get refreshed.
As soon as we were all ready, we piled in the van and drove to the Cape Town Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, where we joined Carolyn's husband, Sheldon, and their kids for dinner at Willoughby & Co.
While waiting for everyone to arrive, I went outside and took some pictures of the waterfront, with Table Mountain in the background.
Soon, I joined the others and we ordered seafood like Mozambique prawns a local fish called "kingclip" and sushi.
The prawns and fish were very good, but the sushi was outstanding!
We had a great evening, but were ready to call it a night. On the drive back to our accommodations, at least three of us fell asleep.
We were in bed by 9:00 local time (3:00 p.m. U.S. Eastern) and it wasn't long before we were asleep. Happy to be here.