A Travellerspoint blog

Earth, Wind and Fire


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Whew...yet another full, exhausting day over here on the Cape with our private peninsula tour. After our amazing breakfasts, we were ready to meet Ian in the lobby at 9:00. Ian is the same gentleman that picked us up from the airport. He kinda reminds me a little of my dad and kept us entertained and informed for almost 9 hours straight...which is no easy task when we’re firing questions at him left and right. On the way out of town, I enquired if we’d be going through Camps Bay at all and if it’d be possible for a super quick pit stop for Hard Rock pins. Request granted and we were off and running.

To start things off, he gave us a little bit of his background and a whole lot of info on Cape Town and South African history. This all rolled right into our first stop at Hout (meaning timber) Bay. Ah yes, he offered up the option for scenic lookout points and as Brenda said, “Jackie will never turn down an opportunity for a photo.” So stop we did...over and over again 😀 The day had started off cooler (like 73), windier, and a tad overcast, but by the time we stopped, the skies had cleared out pretty well.

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Lucky for us, Chapman’s Peak Drive was open today. It is considered one of the most scenic drives in the world that is super twisty and narrow with sheer rock face on the one side and plunging cliffs on the other. Add onto that it is a haven for cyclists and for us it feels like you’re on the wrong side of the road, and well it is quite the harrowing experience. But there are phenomenal views for miles!! Ian was telling us there is actually a huge cycle tour through the area where they cap it off at a max of 35,000 riders 😳 I can’t even imagine!! At various spots along the drive they also take full advantage of the winds for kite surfing. So we got to see some of that taking place at a distance as well.

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All this earth we were covering was leading us down to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. This is the area at the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula where the two ocean currents meet. There are some 8200 species of plants in the Cape’s floral kingdom, making it the smallest but richest in the world. All along the road, there are signs warning of the baboons and how to encounter them (not exactly signs we’re used to seeing in the US, so Ian made sure to get me a front row photo op of the sign...and later on the baboons 😝). Neil had actually mentioned the crazy baboons to us the last time we talked to him. And well, he was not kidding in the slightest!! They look so cute and fuzzy...until you see their teeth as they stop in the middle of the road and just stare at the cars. I swear the one stood up on his back legs with his hands out like he was just waiting for someone to hand him a snack. Thankfully no one was dumb enough to try that, and I quickly shut my window as soon as we saw the first one near the cars.

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We made our way down to the tourist area with the sign everyone takes photos at...I mean we didn’t come all this way not to have proof of it right?! It was also nice to move away from the tourists and just stand and listen to and watch the waves crashing around. Just gorgeous blue water and all sorts of white caps...and a giant rock with African fur seals sun bathing in the middle of it all. We didn’t bother to go up by the real tourist trap...the defunct Cape Point Lighthouse that was a dud from concept through construction and now is basically tourist central according to Ian. Instead he took us off the beaten path to where there is a monument to Portuguese explorer Dias, as well as some more incredible views.

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Then we were off toward Simon’s Town and our lunch stop. He took us to this great restaurant called Seaforth that is right on the water, with some absolutely delicious food. It was far too windy to be able to sit outside, but that would’ve been really incredible. I am not a fish person at all, but even I thought the kingklip fish of the day Brenda had was phenomenal. I followed Ian’s lead and went with a local Cape Malay chicken curry dish that had such tasty spices and came in the cutest little pot. 😋

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And then it was time for Boulders Beach and the African penguin colony 😍 The members of the town thought it was oh so cute back in 1982 when 2 pairs of breeding penguins decided to set up house on their beach. Fast forward to now, when some 2200+ penguins have overtaken the place, and not everyone is still so enamored with them. They have raised walkway platforms where you can go to see the cute little guys just frolicking in the waves, walking around on the white sand, or sitting on their eggs trying to mind their own business. My favorite was watching them ride the waves into shore, then waddling up and shaking off the water. Day made!!

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From 🐧 to 🌸 we were on the move again. Even though the weather had heated up, Brenda agreed to take a quick jaunt through the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. Luckily we were able to find her enough shade that I don’t think it was too painful. I on the other hand am always up for a Garden and the sunnier the better 🤷🏽‍♀️ Sadly it wasn’t nearly as colorful as I would’ve liked, but with the giant, imposing mountain as a backdrop, I was still very impressed. By that point we were almost back to central Cape Town. After winding our way through the traffic, Ian dropped us off and will be back Thursday to collect us one more time.

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After a quick chat with Michel at the front desk to get some info and recommendations, we took a short break up in the room. Then we were back out in search of dinner, wishing we had actually written down the recommendation 🤦🏽‍♀️ Thankfully Brenda pinpointed the area, and then it was just a matter of finding the aubergine (eggplant to us Americans) fries he told us about. Love Thy Neighbor restaurant, with its Greek inspired dishes it is!! We actually sat outside in the courtyard behind this big old church. A central feature of the menu is the large wood burning hearth, right out there in the courtyard, where we actually watched them make our zucchini and aubergine pizza. We of course had the eggplant fries and washed it all down with some local 🇿🇦 cider called Savanna. Unfortunately they were out of the meatballs we also wanted to try, but that just meant room for baklava and ice cream with this molasses syrup (not too shabby of a swap out).

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We got back and purchased a bottle of wine from the hotel with plans to throw open the windows and sit and enjoy the evening. We ended up going with a red wine, which sadly neither of us were huge fans of, but it still made for a nice time just soaking in the atmosphere. And quite the atmosphere when we could hear chanting or singing coming from one or two places. The only thing we could figure was mosques having their evening call to prayer. Yet again, not our everyday occurrence.

So there ya have it...today we covered quite a bit of earth, making our way through the wind, finishing off with dinner by the fire. I’d call that a smashing success 😊

Posted by JackiesJourneys 13:38 Archived in South Africa Tagged penguins chapmans_peak kirstenbosch cape_good_hope Comments (0)

Set the Table

From all the delicious tables we ate at, all the way up to Table Mountain


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Day one in Cape Town did not disappoint. I mean, I really do feel bad for all you guys suffering through the snow and cold back home. But more than anything I feel really happy to have just walked home in 73 degrees at 9:30 at night (yep, I’m that kinda mean 🤷🏽‍♀️). So good luck and can you make sure all that white crap is gone by February 9th?! Thanks 😉

Back to our day (yep, I’m selfish like that too 🤣). I had an amazing 6.5 hours of sleep, but I don’t think Brenda was quite so successful. I guess there was loud music and car lights, but I was blissfully unaware. Anyhoo, we were up and slowly moving around 7:30ish. First order of business was the hotel breakfast! We were thinking typical continental whatever, but were dazzled with baked omelets and delicious bacon and egg dishes made to order 😋 The owner, Ursula, then came over to introduce herself and give us the lowdown and answer any questions we had. Talk about amazing customer service right there!!

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We didn’t really have a plan for our free day, but with Ursula’s help, we set off toward the big red hop on hop off bus office. This way we could get transportation to and from Table Mountain, as well as a trip down to the V&A (Victoria & Alfred) Waterfront. She also gave us the scoop on the reputable ATM to use and the ones to avoid at all cost. And since this was basically going to be a picture perfect day (sorry guys 😎), we had ideal conditions for Table Mountain. You need to take this giant cable car to the top and it is completely weather dependent. Too much wind (which can be a regular occurrence in these parts), and it’s a no go.

We got on the red line no problem and were on our way toward Table Mountain. By buying tickets for the cable car from the bus company, we saved ourselves time in one of the lines. About 30 minutes after arriving, we were loaded in and on our 5 minute, 2500ish feet, climb to the top. It’s really kinda great the way there are 360 degree views and the floor spins so everyone gets a chance to see out the windowless sections.

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In 2011, Table Mountain was voted one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. And well in a word...WOW!!! And breathtaking popped into my head more than once also. On a clear day like today, we could see for miles. Off one side is the V&A Waterfront and Robben Island, and the giant Cape Town Stadium. And then you follow the paths around and the back side has all these neat little bays and cliff faces and we think we even heard water from a Falls at one point. People actually do full on hikes and rock climbing and abseiling up there, but we just stuck to the paths and the photos we could deceptively make look dangerous. Over on the Lion’s Head side, the fire I mentioned from yesterday seemed to flare back up between the time we arrived and the time we left (so within about an hour and a half). But I don’t think it was anywhere near as bad as last night. I also wonder if they were using helicopters hoisting buckets of ocean water to put it out, as we saw said helicopters later in the day near the beach.

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Having seen all the sights, we caught the cable car back down and hopped back on the bus. Brenda stuck to the covered area, but I opted for the open air section. Once I survived the initial shock of practically first degree burning my legs on the seats, it was actually quite a nice ride. We followed the coast line around and got to see some of the beach communities. We also learned that do to the direction of the winds, the water is actually cooler in the summer than it is in the winter. But I don’t think that deterred people today from frolicking in the sunshine.

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By the time we got to the V&A and started to look in the shops, we realized it was almost 3:00 and we should probably grab some lunch. More fresh, healthy food from this place called Pure Good was just what we needed. And ohhhh soooo affordable! Yet another of the bonuses of Cape Town is how far our dollars go. Gorgeous, giant salads for less than 5-bucks?! Yes please!!

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Refueled and ready to go, we looked through all the stalls and shops in the Watershed. This is a great market chocked full of African crafts. After making a few purchases, we were confused about where the rest of the Waterfront action was. Turns out we just hadn’t gone far enough down, so off we headed toward the clock tower and the rows of restaurants and more cute shops. They have this really crazy swing bridge that actually pivots (or swings) open to allow large boats through. At one point they had to open it and as it was closing back up, something large swinging through there caught Brenda’s eye. She pointed it out to me, and then we proceeded to see one or two more. Not quite sure what it was, we moved on to buy some gelato (vacation’s not all about healthy salads after all). While eating my cone, I walked over to read the sign about Robben Island (the place that housed Nelson Mandela for 18 of his 27 years in prison) when I spotted a sign about the South African fur seals. I waved Brenda over to tell her that’s what we saw, then she pointed out Robben means “seal” in Dutch. Two mysteries solved!!

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We did some more wandering before heading back to catch the bus. Sadly the first stop we went to we had missed the last bus of the day. So back to the other stop we went. By this point (5:30), traffic was pretty crazy and it took the bus awhile to get through there. Warm sun, long day, rocking bus...that is nap inducing circumstances right there. Luckily we did not doze off and miss our stop!!

We headed back to the hotel for a break before figuring out what to do for dinner. At this point, we got to meet Michel (Ursula’s son), who was just as kind and helpful with our myriad of questions. He was already gone by the time we made it back downstairs to search out dinner. But we had the general idea of where he had recommended, so off we went. Things were all fine and dandy, until we started to get followed by a guy begging for money or milk for his kid. All we could do is ignore him and keep walking, until he finally latched onto another couple. After they got away, he did give us a second try, but we kept our cool and ended up finding an absolutely amazing place to eat.

Initially we kinda just headed into the building to get away from him, but then we heard live music and saw this great courtyard. We asked someone what the deal was and found out there was a steak place and a chicken restaurant (Roast and Co.) that shared the courtyard. We said we were thinking chicken, and luckily the person we were chatting with was able to hook us up with a table. We each ordered a quarter chicken, split 3 different tapas type plates, and had a bottle of South African wine...all for the cost of roughly 40-bucks (total, not each!) 😳😍 And everything we tried was absolutely delicious. Nothing like a nice leisurely meal to cap off an already perfect day!!

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Posted by JackiesJourneys 14:14 Archived in South Africa Tagged table_mountain Comments (0)

Around the World in 33-ish Hours


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Saturday, January 26, 2019.

Actually, that’s not true as it is currently Sunday, the 27th, 12:15ish, somewhere over way Northern Africa. We are about 2.5 hours into our 11.5 hour flight on a Joon plane (never heard of this Air France partner, but it’s a nice plane). They just fed us yet again, and I thought I’d get a jump on this before I end up dozing off some more.

So let’s backtrack to Saturday morning when it all began. And if I’m gonna remember this accurately, I gotta start with those frigid-diculous temps. Brenda said it was registering -17 with a feels like of -26 shortly after she got up. That’s just plain ridiculous and thee absolute perfect time to head for warmer climates.

In the weeks leading up to the trip, we had gone back and forth and all around trying to figure out how to get to O’Hare. It wasn’t so much the drive down or leaving a car parked there two weeks (although that wasn’t so appealing either). The biggest problem was with the thought of driving home after 30-some odd hours of travel and making sure we stayed awake. I was really pushing for teleportation, but that didn’t quite come through for us. The next best thing was Brenda finding two truly amazing people who offered up their driving services (we are oh so thankful Angie and Kyle!!). One giant weight off our shoulders right there!!

After Angie picked Brenda up around 8:00, they swung by and got me, and we were on the road about 8:15ish. Another huge weight lifted was clear roads for the drive down. We made great time and headed into the terminal only to discover that the check in counter wasn’t even open yet 🤦🏽‍♀️ But no problems as we ended up chatting with a French guy in line behind us, as well as the American college student on his way to France for a semester abroad. His mom made us promise to wake him up if we noticed him sleeping in the terminal during boarding 🤣 Luckily it didn’t come to that and he made it aboard all on his own (but we did have our eyes on him).

Once the desk opened, we were checked in and through security in no time flat (whew!). The only snafoos there were the people in the line next to us who shattered something glass all over the floor. And then there was the couple in front of us with a toddler; teeny, tiny baby twins; and an absolute butt load of things to get scanned. Brenda did also feel like the TSA agent took an inordinate amount of time looking at her passport. But she’s cut her hair since the photo, so she didn’t think that much of it. Plus there was no time to think as we were off to find lunch.

Having just been at O’Hare, I was all set to go back to the same Frontera for an amazing Mexican torta. Brenda thought it sounded good, and was happy to see they had tables to sit at, so Frontera it was. Chicken Milanese for both of us, with all the free water we could pound down. At the end it was taking a while to get our bill and Brenda remarked how the way it was set up, we could just walk right out. I said we probably shouldn’t start the trip off in airport jail, but that I may just throw my money down and then walk out. Happily it did not come to that.

From there we opted to walk from one end of the terminal all the way to the other before heading to our gate. Oh yes, and we were on the lookout for a chocolate shake for Brenda, but alas there was no McDonald’s and no shake to be had. So we get to the gate and I pull my passport out to look at the boarding pass inside when all of a sudden Brenda says something and starts reaching for it. I’m like what’s happening when she whips her passport out, only to open it up and reveal my photo 😳 Nothing like the fraud investigator committing identity fraud getting through security 🤷🏽‍♀️🤣 Turns out the check in counter lady gave us the wrong passports and we never looked and TSA didn’t figure it out either. But that did clear up why her lady studied it so long.

Airport jail avoided again and passports back in the rightful owner’s hands, we finally boarded our Air France flight bound for Paris. By the time we were on board, it was up to a balmy 13 degrees, but it had also started a little snowy sleet mix. It didn’t seem too bad, until we pushed back from the gate and off in the distance were the brigade of 20-some plows all winding a conga line onto the runways. It was quite the sight to see!! But at 4:04pm, we were finally wheels up.

We were about 3 rows from thee furthest back, but it wasn’t a very full flight at all. They fed us more than enough, and fairly tasty food at that. We both dozed on and off, but I don’t think there was any great sleep to be had. We touched down early, but then spent all kinds of time taxiing around. By 6:36am, we were getting to the gate and stepping off into 44 degree temps. Not a bad increase over where we’d started out our day...but it’s only gonna get better from there 😎

So bizarre to see Paris sunrise wasn’t until well after 8:00. As we were perplexed by that, I was also pondering how there was now food to be had in the gate area when just a few short months ago we were left to breakfast on pringles and coke. But no need to question it too much...instead just go buy some delicious pain an chocolat and enjoy the heck out of it, even though I really didn’t need it 😝 And on that note, it’s a wrap. Hopefully I’ll be able to post this tonight from Cape Town, moments before I completely collapse into bed.

Me again from the comforts of our fabulous hotel, Rouge on Rose. Just a quick note to finish up the days events before we crash hard. Not much to say about the flight from Paris to Cape Town other than it was loonnnnng!! Thankfully the tiny baby right in front of us got moved. Actually, now that I think about it, we had no baby issues on either flight. Just descent into Paris we heard one, but that was all (yay!!)

So we left rainy Paris, watched some movies, slept through some movies, ate, then ate some more...all while trying not to go stir crazy. Arriving into Cape Town shortly after 10:00pm, it was a glorious 74 degrees. Customs and immigration was a breeze. We thankfully didn’t have to suffer too long at baggage claim, and then Ian was right outside the door waiting for the “Ebel Party.” More on Ian later as we found out he’ll be our driver two other days.

Driving into central Cape Town didn’t take long at all. More on the area and hotel when my brain isn’t so sleep deprived and fuzzy (as an indication, I looked down earlier and thought to myself “it’s noon-thirty in the States.” So yeah, must sleep soon 🤦🏽‍♀️). There is one interesting tid bit. As we were flying in, Brenda pointed out a red lit trail kinda thing on what we assumed was Table Mountain. Turns out it’s not a trail but actually what appears to be several fires burning along various paths or roads. We can even see and smell it from our hotel room. Hopefully the winds let up and they get it all under control fast.

Ok 12:40am means I gotta go. Until next time...

Posted by JackiesJourneys 14:46 Archived in South Africa Comments (1)

Born Free [Safaris]

An African Adventure Awaits!!

Hello and welcome to the latest installment of “Where in the World is Jackie?!” Currently there’s not too much to report, as I’m merely sitting on my couch. But in less than 48 hours, I will be leaving on a jet plane bound for far warmer and sunnier conditions (insert dancing now) on the world’s second largest continent: AFRICA!! And since it is oh so large, there is no way to cover a lot of it in two short weeks time. But if you’re gonna go, ya might as well go all the way and just head to the southern most tip – cause really, who doesn’t think the idea of an 8.5 hour flight followed by 11.5 more hours in the air doesn’t sound simply delightful?! Tis the price one must pay to travel, but it will be oh so worth it.

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But before I launch into some logistics about what’s to come, perhaps a little backstory would be nice. First off, I will not be embarking on this journey alone. My fellow traveler is none other than Miss Brenda…who tackled Australia with me four years ago (yep, we’re all about the “A” continents!!). And well frankly without Brenda, I do not know if I would be hitting up Africa at all. It was never one of my bucket list destinations. I had plenty of other places to keep my mind preoccupied, but then she started talking about South Africa and Cape Town and safaris and all the animals and fun stuff…and well eventually I jumped on board. This all goes back to at least November of 2016 (as that is the date of the first item that is in my “South Africa” travel folder).

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So basically I’m saying this trip has been years in the making. There were other travelers that came and went from the conversation, but we just couldn’t make it work. Well more accurately, between Groupon, Travel Zoo, our own searches, and various random agencies and web sites, we could never get what we wanted for a price we were willing to pay. Then life happened and talk of Africa fell by the wayside. I went to Europe in August and had an incredible time. But as any good traveler knows, you’re mentally trying to book your next adventure before your current one even ends.

So after Europe, with one week of vacation left to use, I was on a mission to make something else happen. I was really looking for a New Year’s Eve/Birthday extravaganza, but I just couldn’t convince Brenda of that. Instead, she jumped back on board with Africa. Having been down this road before, as well as having my mind focused on other parts of the globe, I pretty much left it up to her to figure it out. First, she solved my only one week of vacation dilemma – just use my last week from 2018 and my first week from 2019. Next she was in contact with a travel agent who was coming up with some decent ideas. But then I went back to that trusty South Africa folder and discovered an email from Julianne, one of the other potential travelers along the way, and she had been working with this company called Born Free Safaris. On Monday, October 22, Brenda submitted a generic request for info and divine intervention stepped in to match us up with Neil…our Africa whisperer.

After one rather extensive phone conversation with Neil, Brenda was very impressed and practically gushing about him (if she were the type to gush that is). Being South African and having actually owned a safari lodge, Neil is a wealth of knowledge. She told him exactly what we were looking for and gave him our budget, and we left him to work his magic. He said it was gonna be tough – also considering short notice and it being summer there – but he’d see what he could do. About 30 hours later, we had a truly amazing proposal in which he was able to secure a lot of his favorite affordable (but still oh so splendid) accommodations, hitting all our requests and then some. So really the question wasn’t should we do this, it was how can we not do this?! That being the case, we were locked in and all ready to finalize things one short week after sending out that initial information request…and only 90 days from setting off on this adventure of a lifetime. And seriously, if anyone is ever thinking about Africa, let me hook you up with Neil. He’s awesome!!!! I just wish he was coming on the trip with us 😝

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It’s been kinda odd though not having to really figure anything out for ourselves. There was no master spreadsheet to create or hours of research to be conducted. There was the trip to the travel clinic and some shots and pills to procure, but thankfully nothing too crazy. And then there was the long anticipated wait for our final packets to arrive and to commence packing. I am happy to report that that is going well. One area of concern is the current situation in Zimbabwe, but we are hoping and praying to get in and out of Victoria Falls without incident.

On that note, here’s a quick rundown of where we’ll be focusing our efforts. First up is the Cape Town, South Africa area and their surrounding winelands. From there we are heading to northeastern South Africa and the game preserves around and including Kruger National Park. Finally we’ll be taking in the sights and sounds of Victoria Falls. Time and wifi dependent, I plan to check in here with some regular updates. Thanks for traveling along with us.

Have passport, will travel!!

Jackie 😎

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Posted by JackiesJourneys 21:11 Archived in USA Tagged waterfalls wine south_africa victoria_falls Comments (0)

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