I am reviving this blog a second time to document a new adventure. In May this year, my husband (and Oliver’s dad), Peter, is attending a conference in Pretoria, South Africa. Peter backpacked through Africa in the early 90s, although not South Africa, which still was in the grip of apartheid and under sanction. He started in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, and travelled through Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi. He was on the road for 6 months. I will ask him to post some pictures and memories to the blog at a later date.
Peter is keen for the whole family to travel to South Africa and join in a safari adventure.
Peter will fly first and then Oliver (9), Louisa (5) and I will fly a few days later to meet him. We will fly from Sydney to Johannesburg and drive to Pretoria. Pretoria is one of three capital cities in South Africa. Interestingly, South Africa has separate capital cities dedicated to the executive (Pretoria), the legislature (Cape Town), and the judiciary (Bloemfontein). So perhaps somewhat like Canberra?
While waiting for Peter to finish his conference commitments and for the first of three legs of our trip to start, we hope to visit a cheetah research and breeding centre as well as the “Cradle of Humankind” World Heritage Site, where it is claimed humans originated from.
A few days later we plan to travel on The Blue Train from Pretoria to Cape Town: a 27 hour, 1,600 kilometre journey through the heart of South Africa. The Blue Train was part of a plan in the 19th century to build a train line for steam engines from Cape Town to Cairo. The line was built in the 1920s but only got as far as the Zambezi River; far from Cairo. Today it still runs around mountains, across deserts and over grasslands from the top to bottom of South Africa and back. We can watch the African world go by out the windows of luxuriously restored carriages; the Blue Train is billed as “a window to the soul of South Africa”. Half way to Cape Town we stop in Kimberley; an historical diamond mining town and home of the famous De Beers company.
In Cape Town we will stay on the V&A (Victoria and Albert) Waterfront at Cape Grace Hotel, which sits below Table Mountain. From here we hope to visit Cape Point (the Cape of Good Hope), the most south-western point of Africa, rich in maritime history. Peter and Oliver also hope to visit a Cub Scout Troop while we are there.
From Cape Town we will fly to the edge of the Kalahari Desert and Tswalu Kalahari Game Reserve. Tswalu is South Africa’s largest private game reserve covering 100,000 hectares. Kalahari Bushman have lived here for 20,000 years. Unlike many game reserves, Tswalu welcomes children. We will stay in The Motse, which means “village” in Tswana, in little houses made of local stone, red clay, and Kalahari thatch. On game drives we will see lions, cheetahs, giraffes, rhinos, zebras and many more animals.
Finally we will fly from Tswalu to Johannesberg and then on to Sydney.
Peter is enjoying planning this trip, although mindful of important contingencies. Many game reserves do not allow children under 12 to participate in game drives (thus his careful choice of Tswalu). We also are sticking to malaria free areas (which rules out for now amazing destinations such as Kruger National Park, in north-east South Africa, and KwaZulu-Natal, also north-east, with its rich and fascinating Zulu Kingdom history).
Over the coming few months I am going to encourage Oliver and Louisa to learn and post about South Africa and to help decide our day-to-day plans. We also need to plan our luggage carefully because there are very restricted weight limits on the small plane that will fly us from Cape Town to Tswalu. So lots of time to think about new bags, trial packs and safari clothing!
If you’ve been to South Africa and have any suggestions for things to do and places to visit, please post in the comments. More soon!
Sounds very exciting! Good luck with all your planning… I haven’t really got any great tips except to remember some hard lollies on the flight – we found the descent at the end of the flight hard on both kids’ ears and sucking on lollies can encourage the pressure either side of the eardrum to equalise.