We recently returned from a wonderful tour of South Africa, Swaziland, Botswana and Zimbabwe. The scenery, the wine tastings, the hotels and food were fabulous. However, visits to a soup kitchen and a school were heart wrenching.
We started in Cape Town with a trip to the top of Table Mountain. Then an expedition to Boulder Beach to see a colony of hundreds of penguins. The journey to the Cape of Good Hope was breathtaking and the added delights of ostrich and baboons along the way added another dimension.
We saw the “Big 5” animals on our safaris and, on occasion, were surrounded by elephants and Cape buffalo. Two lions passed by our Jeep so close we could have stroked them. The gentle giraffes regarded us at very close quarters with their lovely eyes and long eyelashes. Hippos, rhinos and a gorgeous leopard were also on hand. Of course hundreds of impala with the big M on their bottoms – a “McDonalds” treat for the lions.
A home-hosted dinner at some rather well-to-do South Africans homes one night made us realize how people must protect themselves. All homes are surrounded by high walls and topped with electrified wire. There is a feeling of unsettlement as the government completes its land transfer - where much of the land will be given to the black population with absolutely no payment made to the white farmers.
Having travelled to many many places in the world I need to say that throughout this journey every washroom we visited – be it in a hotel or a service centre – was pristine. How refreshing is that!!!
Our hotels and lodges were first rate, comfortable, welcoming and we really hated to leave each one. People everywhere were some of the most hospitable we’ve met anywhere in the world.
In Zimbabwe the mighty Victoria Falls crashes down and tourists from around the world come to view this spectacular site. We stayed at the gracious Victoria Falls Hotel where we felt like royalty; however, there is 95% unemployment in Zimbabwe and 2000% inflation. There was one gas station operating in close proximity to the hotel and cars were lined up for over a kilometre hoping to get gas. Two other gas stations had been taken over by the baboons.
The great mixture of cultures makes for a wide variety of food choices in the country, from the traditional food of various cultures to the cosmopolitan cuisine that is available in many large cities throughout the world. For locals, African food is centered around vegetables, with maize (corn) as an important staple, often in the form of a porridge known as pap. As visitors, we enjoyed absolutely fantastic food…many types of wild meat such as ostrich and kudu and delicious vegetable dishes. We were lucky enough to sample many of these at our welcome dinner at the fabulous Africa Cafe. Here, platter after platter was brought to our tables by lovely girls dressed in colourful African dress. Then they performed lively African songs in true African hospitality. Throughout our tour the food was exceptional!
There is so much more to say about South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls. This is just a taste of what you will experience. These are destinations which simply must be added to every travellers’ bucket list and this particular tour is simply the best!