Tag Archive: South Africa

This blog was written some months back. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how I missed publishing it. I beg your indulgence. This “back blog” completes my series on South Africa’s Western Cape.



This morning, we bundled and layered up good for a cold day at sea. No matter how cold it gets, we were ready for the whales. Humpbacks or Southern Rights, we’re eager to see them whales. The sun was out. But the water’s far from calm. Our premium whale-watching cruise was cancelled for safety reasons.






We were hoping till the last minute. Quite frankly, I hardly paid attention to the majestic seascape offered by Plettenberg Bay as I mulled over the idea of seeing them Southern Rights in their own territory. All too often, our sleepy demeanor was disturbed whenever our coach coasts along the Adriatic and Indian Seaboard while our Tour Director points somewhere off the blue waters. A whale? Where? I couldn’t trust my eyesight and I simply obliged by snapping photos here and there. Upon review, I was dismayed to find nothing other than what looked like rocks off the ocean.






Well, no whales today. And we leave tomorrow for our safari. Tough luck. Instead, we headed for the Birds of Eden to while away that frustrating afternoon. On other days, this could have been an interesting afternoon. The photos speak for themselves. Those are beautiful birds. But. They. Are. Birds. 🙂







As we exited the bird sanctuary, we found a Monkey park right beside it. Also baboons right outside the bird park. They all looked busy. Either they found something to eat and share among themselves or they are simply on a “stroll”. Either way, they scare me. They look very aggressive. So unlike the safari “beasts” who didn’t seem interested in humans.







And so, the day ended with some despair over the botched whale watching adventure. Coming on the heels of another botched adventure (cable car ride to the Table Mountain, no less!), we knew we just had to find our amusement elsewhere. Like a food adventure? Very well. Thank God South African cuisine didn’t disappoint.

If there’s something I learned not to miss here in Africa, it’s reading the signs. Oh sure, mind those signs. It can save your life!


BE WARNED! No wonder we had to sign so many waivers.

Funny. Amusing. Or scary? Having signed so many WAIVERS here, it becomes nearly obligatory to mind those signs. You don’t find much of them anywhere else.


Baboons really scare me. Reminds me of their my scary episode with their cousins in Kathmandu, Nepal.


This got me off that tempting bench by the river. In a heartbeat!

So, before you claim an empty bench and relax with a frothy hot cocoa, READ. For all the dangers they pose, I must say though that those signs are nearly inconspicuous.


Zebras by the Hotel entrance.



What could be more exciting than an African Safari?




Entabeni Rock and the Resident Wildebeests



Lion and cheetah sightings. Staring down cape buffaloes and warthogs. Admiring giraffes and waiting for hippos to come out of the water. Keeping still and quiet while a rhino sidesteps your safari cruiser. EXCITEMENT. MUCH!




Safari Animals. Awesome experience!



A break between the morning and afternoon safari drives meant lunch in a garden setting and a visit to the Pedi Village within the Entabeni/Legend Wildlife Park and Game Reserve. AND A PEE BREAK. Of course. Those bladders can only hold it for so long. Unless you have the nerve to pee in the bush and risk a leopard passing by or stepping into a thicket within feet of a pride of lions feasting on a wildebeest.





Pedi Village within Legend Wildlife Park




Lunch was great. As with every meal served in Entabeni. Food quality and service quality is tops. Mediterranean this noontime, after an African bush dinner last night. Those meatballs, gyros, squid rings and feta salad are savory, “light” and ideal in-between-safari drives meals. But they need to do something about those toilet locks!




Greek Salad in Africa?


Mediterranean Light Lunch In Between Safari Drives



So there I was, lining up to pee. Only 2 toilets for women. I took the one on the right. Locked myself with the key on the keyhole. I shouldn’t have. But I wanted to shed my thermals under my safari suit as the afternoon sun kept us warm enough. When done, I turned that key right, left, up and down. No luck. I was locked in. I looked behind me and assessed the size of the toilet window. It meant getting up on the water closet and swinging out of the window into what looked like a private garden guarded by 2 pet dogs.




Behind is the toilet facilities where IT all happened.



I dropped my bag through the window, prepping myself for the “escape”. Only to remember my cellphone was in the bag! No worries, those ladies knew I was locked in and sought help. Frankly I was more worried about the pet dogs by the garden. Thought if I survived the lions and the rhinos, jumped clean out of this toilet window, only to be bitten by 2 pet dogs, THAT WOULD REALLY BE FUNNY. All that barking either sent a message of sympathy (for me) or warned the owners of my impending intrusion.




Pit Stop for Lunch and a Pee, plus more. Lunch was served in the garden… right side of this photo, under the trees.



Safari rangers to the rescue. These 2 gentlemen were trained well to guide you, protect you and save you during the safari drives. Were they also trained well to rescue old ladies out of a toilet window? Juan got in through the window to test the keys and locks, and then advised me to watch him get out again. He didn’t want me to jump out. Instead, he asked another fellow to help him pull me out. Well, not exactly pull me out. I climbed out as told: upper torso out the window, then right leg out (aaargh) onto the right arm of one rescuer, left hand on another rescuer’s head for balance, the other hand held by one of the rangers, then pulling the rest of me out the window, left leg on a rescuer’s thigh, and finally piggy back on the other fellow till my feet touched ground. All that time, the 2 pet dogs happily watched as if it was a show.




Lunch. 2 x of this serving.



That episode worked up my appetite such that I had 2 plate servings. Thank you Juan. Thank you Pedi Village Guide. I’m sorry this old hag can’t recall your name. I promise NOT to lock the doors anymore anywhere here.





“Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.” – John Muir


The view takes your breath away. And that’s not an overstatement!



Oh, that lonely bench again! I see it everywhere. With a promise of a perfect view!


Knysna Heads. Imagine pre-steam ships going through that gap sailing into the lagoon. I can sit here all afternoon till sundown just staring into those breakers, watching the tides flow without breaking a stride to spill out into the vast Indian Ocean. Truly, an impressive view especially when the tides lift and flow over the rocks and sandbars.



Walking Towards the Rocks and the Lighthouse


The scenery before we stopped to appreciate this lagoon view somehow prepared us. My, this is really prime property with this premier view! The rocks, the tides, the lighthouse. Sitting on that bench with a cup of good brew or a flute of champagne should complete the deal. And don’t tell me it’s too early for my bubbles!



The Lighthouse


Framed by the Bus Window. So Lovely On This Wintry Day!


So, what did we miss? This foodie missed something big time. We passed it on our way to the lighthouse. Didn’t give it much attention as we were eager to see the views from the rocks. Read about it. But it didn’t stick. Aaahhhh….. This old hag must be losing it.



I want to cry. Waaaaahhhhh!


And we just passed it without giving a hoot! Waaaaahhhhhh.


And it’s just not the view. Breakfast all day in this cafe. Good coffee and wine selection. No pretensions. Just good home-cooked comfort food. EASTHEAD CAFE. Yay! Knysna truly surprises. The lagoon, the waterfront, the quays, the lighthouse, the quaint cafés and bistros. I can live here!



The Coffee Connection in Old Knysna


Lemon Meringue Pie and a Frothy Coffee @Coffee Connection


You lose some. You win some. In the “Old Knysna” I didn’t miss checking out Coffee Connection. This social hub has the best lemon meringue pie I ever tasted. Climbing up the stairs to go to the loo, I noticed how quaint the staircase, flooring and restrooms are. As it turned out, this 20-year old coffee hub is housed in an 18th century building which has since become a landmark in the “Old Knysna”. Nice. I got my frothy coffee, the best pie and the old charm of an 18th century landmark edifice. Swell.






Easthead Cafe just had to wait for my next visit! Maybe I can spend more time here in Knysna. Charming place. Good food. My neighborhood!

Nearly a half hour’s drive from the principal town of Oudtshoorn lies the limestone mountains of the Klein Karoo. The Cango Caves claim to have one of the biggest stalagmite formations in the world. Now, I’m not a big fan of caves and stalagmites or stalactites, but thought the supervised tour would be a good opportunity to spend a “productive” hour or so.




This is the “atrium”. Looks like a hall waiting for a concert to commence!



The caverns and tunnels opened up to “atriums” like the photo above. Like there’s a big hall ready for a concert. The stalagmite formations are very impressive. I had to deliberately stop snapping photos after convincing myself that one can only have so many photos of these natural wonders.




Dripstone caverns. Cango Caves claim to have the largest stalagmite formations in the whole world.



An adventure tour is available where one can view more drip stone caverns while fumbling on all fours. Not for me. As we walked through the tunnels and passageways, I was peeling off layers of shirts I earlier put on as the cave temp rose. Besides, I was quite content to see and photograph “Cleopatra’s Needle”. All of 9 meters and “only” 150,000 years old. Easily, it’s the main attraction inside the Cango Caves.








The many drip stone formations which took millions of years to form are breathtaking. And that’s coming from someone who doesn’t dig caves and stalagmites/stalactites. Amazing how these caverns can exist beneath these limestone mountains! As we were leaving, I reviewed some interior shots and found this. I couldn’t make heads or tails off the last photo. Can you?







You don’t go to Africa to visit a zoo, right? But then again, you may not get so lucky with your safari drives so…… consider this a “preview” of what’s good to see. This is Cango Wildlife Ranch just outside Oudtshoorn, the principal town of the Little Karoo.




Cango Wildlife Ranch in the outskirts of Oudtshoorn. South Africa


The leopard we missed in the safari.



As it turned out, we missed 1 out of the Big 5. The LEOPARD was very elusive. We saw the lions, cape buffaloes, elephants and the rhinos. Four out of 5 ain’t bad for a first safari adventure. More so if one has seen more antelopes that one can name, plus the cheetahs, hippos, baboons, wildebeest, warthogs, crocs (or were they alligators?) and many bird species.





Simba’s Dad?


In the animal kingdom, I’ve got to admit the male lion with his lovely mane is so much lovelier than the lioness.



It was a cold, rainy day when we reached the Wildlife Ranch. Protected by disposable raincoats, we passed the hanging bridge and boardwalks to view the many animals, crocs and birds. I was reminded of “Residence Inn” in Tagaytay, only better. At least the lions, tigers and leopards freely roam around a rather limited but adequate space rather than put in cages too small to drive them crazy over time.




The wildlife ranch (zoo to many) is well-kept, clean and nearly odorless. And the guides are very very good.


No tigers in Africa. But there’s one here in Cango Wildlife Ranch.



Some visitors came for photo ops with the beasts. There was a man looking a tad tentative for his pictorial with a cheetah. The beast must be fed well to be so unmindful of visitors and obedient to its trainers or zookeepers. We had a very playful guide touring us around. Twice, on a bend, she hid to surprise me with a tap on my shoulder or a “bite” on my leg. Each time, it earned a mild scream from moí. She was good!




Cold and rainy day.


To this day, I wonder what he’d do if that cheetah so much as roared.



Small and manageable, the ranch must be a hit with children too young for safaris. The flamingos, bats, vultures and other birds look happy residents. The ranch is well kept, clean and nearly odorless. The visit is best combined with a visit to the Cango caves some distance from the town, if you have time to spare. But don’t forget to leave some time for wine tasting in this wine region. There are a number of wine estates here with superb dining outlets. Now, wouldn’t that complete your day!




Now, that’s a real vulture!


Friends who know me know that I don’t have much interest in shopping. I do not begrudge those who do, but I’m always armed with a good book (or even a map!) to while away the time while my buddies do the shopping. A good brew or a glass of syrah helps too. My family would always spot a good corner in some cafe or bar where they’d deposit me while they shop.




The Exotic Pates of Africa: Crocodile Meat, Impala, Ostrich, Springbok, Kudu Pate.


Rooibos Tea. No caffeine. Really!



But I’m a sucker for food items. And if they come in small packages, I’d surely knock them off the shelves. Out of Africa and Taste of Africa offered such African delicacies that I couldn’t resist snatching up bags of the caffein-free rooibos tea. Good and healthy. And how about the pâtés from such exotic meats like crocodile, impala, kudu, springbok and ostrich? Yeah, quite a find! These I most certainly need to bring home.




Chair Made With Ostrich Leather!


Benches Made with Ostrich Leather. Love the Blue Color!



Small parcels like those pâtés and local teas are fine. But how about the ostrich leather chair and benches from Berluda? I want those! I probably should have purchased one of those ostrich leather bags or purses instead. But retired that I am, I would likely spend more time on that chair than carry a bag to wherever. And so I left without any ostrich souvenir. 😂




PLEASE> No more biltongs.


Love the colors!


Knysna Quay is a treasure trove of curio shops and coffee bars!



In Knysna Quays, we did some craft shopping. There are nice beadwork to be found here. Matching African neckwear and bracelets. Got a couple of those. In the Elephant Park, there are more souvenir items like magnets, keychains and headwear. If you’re into safari vests and jackets, you’d find some with the words “Cango Wild Ranch” or “Knysna Elephant Park” emblazoned on the chest.




The Knysna Elephant Park Sun Visor (Thanks Beth!)


Refrigerator Magnets, and other souvenirs.



In Hout Bay before our boat ride to the Seals Island, there were street vendors with local handicraft for sale. Bulky souvenirs I call ’em. I’d stick to my small parcels of table delights!




Craft finds in Hout Bay


Wooden Bowls from Hout Bay

Ebony and Ivory. Black and White. Remember the Beatles song composed by Paul McCartney? Named “Song of the Century” this song assumes more relevance as South Africa struggled out of apartheid to give more meaning to the song’s message of whites and blacks living in harmony.



From Cape Town through Barrydale and Oudtshoorn to Knysna with sleepovers along the way in the lovely landscape, seascape and flynbo gardens of South Africa. I wanted to see them elephants in the wilds. So, why here in Knysna Elephant Park?




We hold hands. They hold trunks. Sweet!


Remember Paul McCartney’s Ebony and Ivory?



Well, these are abandoned elephants now cared for in a controlled but free-range environment just outside the lovely town of Knysna. For a few rands, you can buy buckets of apples and oranges to feed the elephants. Amazing how these young mahouts trained these animals to stand behind a metal bar, waiting to be fed, every time a tractor “van” unloads park visitors. My only regret is that the baby elephants are blocked out by the bigger ones come feeding time. Once I tried feeding the baby who was reaching out with his trunk to pick up an orange, only to be loudly and angrily shooed off by the adult elephant. The not so little one scampered off. Hungry. Poor baby. 😒🐘




Ready with our buckets full of apples and oranges!


Here, Baby. Mommy has a bucketful of oranges for you! Sssshhhh….



I’m sure it’s an altogether different experience seeing them in a wildlife park. But the vastness of this park assumes a natural habitat where they graze freely, even if their residents are a little spoiled and “bucket-fed” by park visitors. Since you can’t get up close to one in the wilds without risking being trampled upon by these beasts, this experience is good for first-timers like us. Interestingly, many safari accidents involved elephants more than lions, leopards or some other fierce animals. Just remember that an elephant’s foot, measured in circumference, multiplied by 2.5 approximates its height. So, if you’re following some elephant tracks in the wilds, you’d have an estimation of this animal’s size.




Mommy Elephant or Daddy Elephant? (AT KNYSNA ELEPHANT PARK)


More park visitors off the tractor van. More food!



Feeding the elephants should be an exciting experience for kids. If I was thrilled getting an elephant’s trunk hover and snatch up the orange on my palm, what kid won’t? Yet for all its size, I am amazed how gently and quietly these big animals move. A big one can sneak right behind you and snatch that apple or orange before you’re ready! One actually nudged one of the ladies, nearly pushing her back with the elephant’s trunk. Naughty elephant! so remember NEVER to turn your back on an elephant. 🐘🐘🐘




One of the lady visitors got a nudge on the back. Naughty elephant!


My Sweet Caroline! (At Knysna Elephant Park. South Africa)



Gentle giants. That’s what they are. Moody, maybe. But they have such a sweet, endearing nature. Men as predators of these gentle creatures make me sick. Those beautiful tusks are their curse. Many of the elephants in Knysna Park were orphaned when poachers killed their parents to retrieve those prized ivory tusks. Knysna provided a sanctuary for them. One can only wish time will come when these animals are spared from poaching and allowed to live in the wilds without the threat of extinction.




They’re moody. They’re sentimental. They’re sweet. Orphaned elephants in this sanctuary in Knysna are cared for with tons of love and affection.



TRIVIA: Male elephants are called bulls. Females are cows. And the baby elephants are calves. Just like cattle. When you see a herd of elephants, it’s likely the adult elephants are cow elephants. All female. Why? The bull elephants stay with the herd only till the young reach puberty. Then they’re on their own, coming back only for mating purposes. Those bastards! (Excuse my French)

I was looking forward to visiting Simonstown not only to check out the Jackass Penguins in Boulders Beach but likewise to visit Jubilee Square. Ever heard the story of “Just Nuisance”? That’s the name of the Great Dane who “served” in the Royal Navy back in the 1940s.



Errrr, do I have your attention now? The story certainly got my attention. You see, Just Nuisance is one very popular and well-loved dog who has become part of the town’s history. Story goes that sailors in the town’s naval station regularly fed this Great Dane who has acquired a taste for fries, beer and other drinkers’ crumbs. When these sailors went for R & R in Capetown, the spoiled canine would follow them, hopping on trains even. For sure, this dog felt he “belonged” to the Royal Navy and counted many sailor friends. So loved was he that a bronze statue in Jubilee Square was made in his honor.




Penguin Colony at Boulders Beach. Simonstown. South Africa.


Jackass Penguins or African Penguins? (Photo Credits to E. Ong)

The Penguins. Not The Dog.


But wait. We’re talking about the Penguins here. These tuxedo-ed residents of Boulders Beach have been here for a while. There was an entire colony of these African Penguins just a few meters from Seaforth Restaurant where we had lunch. An entire colony! There they were going about their business, unmindful of us camwhoring tourists. There were signs warning visitors from feeding nor touching them. Good thing they built a boardwalk where we can actually “follow” them, watch them, photograph them, observe them. These look like “happy birds” not “angry birds” who wouldn’t hesitate to interact with humans swimming in the nearby waters. We found some nesting, with those cute-sy “holes” in the sandy beach. Others busily playing by the shore. I can imagine them rolling on beach towels laid out by beach swimmers on some summer days. Happy Feet!





Penguins Having A Party! (Photo Credits: E. Ong)


Play Time for these African Penguins!


African Penguins in Boulders Beach. Some on the boulders. Others a-swimming!



Check out this video of these charming birds. Just a glimpse of Happy Feet in this penguin colony.





That’s the Boardwalk around the Penguin Colony in Boulders Beach


I wonder what these 2 Jackass Penguins Are Saying To Each Other

Leaving Capetown is an ordeal. It’s heartbreaking to leave a place as lovely and postcard-pretty as Capetown. The sea and mountain sceneries are in perfect harmony here. Whether you are facing the Atlantic or the Indian Ocean, you will be dazzled by these magnificent backgrounds. The coves, where sailboats blow across the waters like toys, pulled by their colorful sails, can render the romantically-challenged quite desperate. Ahem. I can’t count the number of times I listened to the surf of the ocean and heaved a deep sigh in this lovely South African city.




There is much to do in Cape Town. Like revisiting all those places we’ve seen. Its charm drives you to do that.


The sound of the Ocean lulls one to an almost melancholy state. The surge and the spray just in time to wake you from that mindless state.



Off to the farm, the caves, the ranch we go. But first, some serious business. LUNCH. And what perfect pitstop. The R62 Deli in Joubert-Tradauw Wine Estate makes your day. Place is so intimate it makes you feel like you dropped in on your best friend’s for some home-cooked meal. As with many perfect meals, lunch here is simply made with the simplest, freshest ingredients. It leaves just enough room for everyone to indulge in their wines, be it rosé, Sauvignon or shyrah.




I almost grew tired spotting and snapping shots of the rainbow.

The resident mascot of Joubert Tradauw Wine Estate’s R62 Deli



The bean soup reminded me of my best Hungarian goulash somewhere in Eastern Europe, and the salads couldn’t be more Mediterranean. I can stop there, maybe even skip the dessert (a rare occasion) and linger around the wine estate on this pleasantly cool day. The very playful dog (Jacquie?) made everyone feel at home. I bet he’d tag along for a stroll. We also sneaked in and checked the small kitchen where more bean soups stewed, fresh arugulas and fruits ready to compose a salad, a chocolate cake freshly-baked and ready to be sliced.




Freshly-harvested greens and fruits. Straight from the farm. And their wines go well with the Klein Karoo tapas.




I want to remember every detail through an old sepia-colored filter. Call me romantic. Or romantically-challenged? But this tiny place is oozing with charm that even an ordinary brew of coffee would likely taste better.  But wait, hand me that French Chocolate Cake! 



French Chocolate Cake!


At the end of this dining area is the small Mediterranean-style farm kitchen which is open for everyone to step in to check what’s cooking!


I can drink gallons of coffee or tea here.