Our adventures in South Africa

In August 2009 seven individuals bonded together by their friendship, love of photography and their desire to see this great country headed off to South Africa for two weeks.  The first week five of us (Viv, Lynn, Colette, Peter and myself, Shay)  travelled to Johannesburg and based ourselves in Kruger National Park.  For the second week we flew to Cape Town where we were joined by another two friends.    

An adventure like this just doesn’t happen, no, it takes a lot of planning and all the credit must go to our ‘leader’, Viv, a long time traveller to South Africa, and her friends there, Shirley, Caron and Steve who did so much to make this the holiday of a lifetime.    

Kruger National Park  

Shirley, who lives in Tzaneen in the Limpopo Provence, worked tirelessly for a number of months to book us accommodation in Kruger Park

The group with Shirley & Johann outside their home in Tzaneen

and to get a rental car that would suit our needs for photography.  However, on top of this Shirley and her husband, Johann, shared their home with us for two nights.  Her generosity did not end there either, as she also acted as our guide and drove us around Kruger Park.  She drove for many hours, from dawn to dusk, for all the five days we spent in the park.   

She had prepared marvellous food for us to eat while we were in the car.  She was infinitely patient as she helped us track down animals to photograph and when we would spend ages asking her to move forward a bit or backward a bit so we could all get that killer photo.  Our trip would never have been as good without you, thank you so much Shirley.    

 Our  experience in Kruger Park was truly amazing, the accommodation, the food, the weather and of course the animals and birds were just fantastic.  In total we drove over 2,000 km including the drive to and from the airport in Johannesburg. Although we didn’t get to see all the ‘Big Five’, we decided it was best not to be greedy and to leave some for our next visit.  See some of my images from Kruger National Park here.    

Cape Town

The second part of our adventure was in Cape Town and here we were joined by another two friends, Brendan and Paul.  Again we are grateful to Viv’s friends,    

Caron and Steve, who looked after our accommodation and transport needs.  They also prepared a beautiful ‘braii’ (barbecue) for us in their lovely home.    

The Cape Town adventure was very different to the Kruger Park but just as wonderful.  Fortunately we had good weather with no rain.  On our first day we were taken to the Gugulethu Township and attended mass in St Gabriel’s  Catholic church.  This was a truly wonderful experience, a beautiful choir, and lovely friendly people who made you feel welcome and safe.  Our tour of this and the neighbouring township of Langa with our guide Sindile gave us an insight into life in these overcrowded shanty towns with tiny single room homes built from wood, corrugated iron and plastic.  Yet with such physical desolation the pride and beauty of people themselves shone through with their laughs, smiles and the grind of their daily lives.    

Every day was filled with more wonders from this beautiful and diverse country.  We visited: the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point, Table Mountain & Cable Car, Robben Island, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, the village in the wine region of Franschhoek, Hermanus where the whales swim in the bay and where the brave Lynn, Peter and Paul went shark diving in cages, and numerous little and beautiful villages around the Cape peninsula like, Hout Bay, Kalk Bay, Simons Town, and Boulders to name a few.  We also visited the trendy Victoria and Albert Wharf a number of times which although expensive by South African standards (& sometimes even ours) it does have many great restaurants, shops and local arts & crafts.    

One of my personal favourites was our last night out when we were brought by Caron and Steve to La Pigalle restaurant in Cape Town itself.  A lovely restaurant with magic food and the drink just flowed, but the highlight was a magnificent jazz band that had the place rocking, plus I got a little birthday cake!  Thank you all!    

MG_05221 A day in the wine country in Franschhoek