This past July I has the unique opportunity to visit South Africa for a couple of weeks!!! My wife and I traveled there for our first time to visit one of her best friends, and see many of the awesome sights along the way.
We started our journey flying from Nagoya to Hong Kong, and after a short stopover there we flew to Johannesburg to start our trip. There is a lot of history here, recent history at that! We made sure to stop at the Apartheid Museum to learn about everything that has happened in South Africa in the last 50-60 years. With the help of a local guide, we also visited the Maboneng neighborhood downtown and did a local art walk - a very interesting look at how this area is really looking to improve its image and make it safer for residents in the area.
A highlight of the time in Johannesburg was taking an all day bicycle tour through Soweto! We visited the township's many areas, from very poor to more affluent. I would recommend reading about the history of this place, and I know that I personally came away with a greater understanding of life here - as well as a greater respect and appreciation for the luxuries that I have in my day to day life, including things I often take for granted: clean water, healthy food, flushing toilets, steady income. Everyone we met was extremely friendly, happy to talk (In English too - one of 11 official languages in South Africa!) and we really came away from our time in Johannesburg with a great appreciation for this city and all it has been through over the years.
Our trip continued with a 30 hour train ride down to Cape Town! It was my first sleeper-train, and I thought it was brilliant. A highlight for me was being able to take a shower on the moving train! Really! Imagine: A cool wind blowing in brought the open window, watching the African Sun rise over the plains! It was truthfully one of the best showers I've ever had!
As we got closer and closer to the southern part of South Africa, the terrain really started to change! It became much more mountainous and GREEN! Farms appeared all over. We started seeing vineyards. It was completely different from what you would normally expect from Africa.
We stayed with my wife's friend while in Capetown and she was a great guide! We visited vineyards for wine tasting & food (I love venison!), spent a day climbing Table Mountain to watch a sunset, went north to stay in a "Cave Resort" and got to experience the sky without any light pollution (the Milky Way is very visible and looked absolutely amazing!). CapeTown is a beautiful city, very active and I wouldn't say any trip to South Africa is compleat without spending some time here.
We finished up our vacation by renting a car and heading East along the Garden Route. It's a beautiful trip through rolling hills, coastlines, and protected parks that is definitely on the highlights of our trip. We visited the very Southern tip of South Africa (L'Agulhas), went whale watching, traveled to a city called Knysna and stayed in a treehouse (complete with outdoor bath, giant spiders, and mosquito netting!), and stayed at the Addo Elephant Reserve where we were able to see wild Elephants, Zebra, Ostrich, Kuduu, Springbok, LIONS, and the very famous Flightless Dung Beetle (an endangered species!). We also very briefly saw a CAPE COBRA, one of the most dangerous snakes in the country! I thought it was cool, my wife ... Not so much!
Spending two weeks in South Africa like this will surely remain a forever remembered trip for my wife and I. Possibly even a once-in-a-lifetime trip! I surely hope to get back sometime, there's plenty we did not see and do in South Africa - and of course, I'd love to experience more! This was only the beginning of our busy Autumn though - just a month later, we already had our next adventure set: My sister-in-law's wedding in Scotland! So, until it's time to tell that story - see ya later! :)