After a rainy Saturday evening in Magaliesburg, Joe and I decided to go for a hike in Mountain Sanctuary Park. The sun was only listlessly trying to push through the clouds, but we were determined to do something outdoorsy on our country weekend. Mountain Sanctuary Park is a privately owned nature reserve in the Magaliesburg Mountains, about an hour from the town of Magaliesburg. To get there we had to cross Breedt’s Nek Pass, on a rutted, boulder-strewn dirt road. The views are great but this road is not for the faint of heart, especially after rain. We passed a hapless couple getting their VW hatchback hauled out of the mud by a tow truck.
Joe and I needed a to get away. But we didn’t have much money or time to get away with. So last weekend we decided to take a short trip to Magaliesburg, just an hour or so from Joburg, and spend the night at a B&B. I was excited at the prospect of getting away from the city, albeit for a short while, to relax in the sunshine and frolic in grassy mountain meadows. We awoke on Saturday morning to leaden gray skies and chilly pouring rain. Ew. The weather forecast predicted little change for the rest of the weekend. We nearly opted not to go at all, but we’d already put down a deposit. So we went and I’m glad we did.
Joe and I just returned from Lionsrock, a wildlife sanctuary about three hours from Joburg near the town of Bethlehem. Lionsrock is a haven for mistreated animals — mostly big cats – rescued from zoos and circuses around the world. Lionsrock, which is a lodge for vacationing humans as well as a sanctuary for retired cats, was founded three years ago by Four Paws (Vier Pfoten), a Vienna-based organization devoted to alleviating animal suffering. Lionsrock residents.
First, a few words of thanks: Thanks to WordPress for “Freshly Pressing” me for the second time in three months. Wow. It was great to get a second chance because this time I actually understood and appreciated what was happening when my inbox started to overflow. Thanks to everyone who read, commented on, liked, and subscribed to my blog. I’ve tried to respond to as many of you as possible but if I haven’t, rest assured that I’ve read and appreciated every comment. Thanks to my mom for coming to visit and giving me an excuse to do fun things that create fantastic blog material. Thanks to Joe, the man behind the blog, for improving my photography, making my photos look amazing, and teaching me so many interesting things about South Africa. Now, back to Cape Town. Mom and I did several fun things during our trip that I wasn’t able to cover in the first two posts, so I’ve compiled a few of my favorite photos to illustrate them: Riding the Hop On Hop Off Cape Town Sightseeing Bus. For someone who thought she disliked group tours, I certainly did a lot of them last weekend. We wanted to visit Kirstenbosch National […]
Mom and I were in Cape Town for three days — we had lots to see and no car. I’m usually not a fan of group bus tours, but when Mom suggested a tour of the Cape Peninsula with a company called Daytrippers, it seemed like a good plan under the circumstances. Alexi, our charming Daytrippers guide, fetched us from the guest house at 8:45 a.m. To my relief, our touring vehicle was not a bus, but a cute van towing a bike trailer. (For some reason I did not take any photos of the cute van or the cute tour guide. Apologies.) We headed south out of Cape Town and marveled at the crystal blue sea and lovely beachfront suburbs. Clifton, a spectacular Cape Town suburb along the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula.
My mother and I had just arrived in Cape Town – it was 11 a.m. on a Friday. The shuttle dropped us off at our guest house, a tiny, no-frills place called Lionscape in the shabby-chic neighborhood of Tamboerskloof. Paul, the proprietor, helped carry our bags upstairs. Lionscape. This place flies below the radar — we had trouble finding it because there is no sign. It’s a great deal though — R300 (about $45) per person per night during Cape Town’s high season. Nothing fancy, but adequate and with amazing views of both Cape Town and Table Mountain.
Summer in Joburg is not what you might expect. Some days it’s warm and sunny and other days it’s cloudy and cool enough for jeans and a sweatshirt. Even on days when people here say it’s hot, I find it quite comfortable. I mean, 80 degrees Fahrenheit (sorry non-Americans, I still can’t figure out Celsius) with zero humidity? That’s downright chilly compared to the steaming inferno I experienced in D.C. a few months ago. But today I finally had to admit that it was hot. Blazing blue sky, scorching sun, 86 degrees. Still no humidity so completely tolerable. But real summer nonetheless.
Joe and I recently returned from a trip to Swaziland, where we worked on a story for World AIDS Day. It was an eventful trip so I’m dividing my account of it into three parts. We left for Swaziland a day early so we could visit the Jane Goodall Institute Chimpanzee Eden, a nature reserve for rescued chimps near the town of Nelspruit, about four hours from Joburg. Joe wanted to investigate a potential story and I wanted to see the chimps. It was also a good opportunity to see another part of South Africa. Nelspruit is a popular jumping-off point for people visiting Kruger National Park. It’s in the Lowveld, which means it’s lower elevation than the Highveld, where Joburg is. It’s also much hotter and damper. The town is bordered by rainforest.
Joe and I spent Sunday afternoon at the Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden, a national botanical garden northwest of downtown Joburg. Technically it’s within the city limits but you would never guess you’re in a city while you’re there. “Garden” doesn’t properly describe this place; it’s a large nature reserve with a complicated maze of hiking paths, a bird-watching hide, and spectacular waterfalls. The main garden area – which includes swaths of green grass and an extensive collection of indigenous and endangered southern African plants – was filled with families lugging blankets, coolers, and picnic baskets. But once we walked up into the hills we didn’t see many other people.
Joe and I left Durban on Saturday morning. But before going back to Joburg we decided to spend the night near the Drakensberg Mountains, which Joe calls the ‘Berg. At a gas station an hour outside Durban, Joe went online and found a guesthouse called the Antbear. We liked the look of it. There was no answer when we called so we decided to take a chance and just go there. The road to the Antbear (although I actually took this when we were going, not coming).
Let me back-track and explain the purpose of our trip to Lesotho. Bear with me because this will take time. On a map, Lesotho looks like a small dot in the middle of South Africa. It’s nick-named “the Kingdom in the Sky” and is one of the few places in Africa where it snows. Lesotho’s Maluti Mountains are among the highest in Southern Africa – many peaks are over 10,000 feet. Typical mountain scene in Lesotho.