Full circle, we made it!

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December 18th 2014
Published: December 25th 2017
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We really enjoyed the enforced extra day in Cradock, and felt refreshed and ready to carry on the following day. Albert had made good time and had arrived about midnight in the Mercedes Benz replacement vehicle so had a reasonable night's sleep. The car is very comfortable and together with the trailer provides much more space than we had previously.
We set off to Addo Elephant Reserve for the night and surprisingly saw no elephants, but did see Buffalo, Kudu, large tortoises, a Jackal trying to eat a tortoise and some very large mice. Three black rhinos turned up at the waterhole together with a spotted Hyena.
From Addo we travelled on to Tsitsikamma Park through a rather dull area of mixed seaside dormitory towns, shopping malls and industrial units.
Our pitch is very dramatic here in Tsitsikamma, right on the rocky shore with big breakers and gulls and Rock Dassies chasing around. However there is a very strong wind which made cooking difficult this evening and it is freezing. We came into our tents about 8.30pm to stay warm but we haven't managed to warm up yet. 11 December Hermanus
We have been here for 2 days and I am afraid I have been very lazy and not recorded anything for the last few days. After Tsitsikamma we spent a night in Knysna which was a pleasant small town by the sea but nothing very exciting. However Hermanus is a lovely place, a pretty town on a huge bay backed by mountains and where for a few months of the year whales are resident. Unfortunately this is the wrong time and the last whales were seen about 3 weeks ago. We seem to miss the whales in most places we visit, probably because we wait until it is warmer.
The town has lots of good restaurants and there are easy cliff footpaths and trails for walking.
Since Knysna our journey feels as though it is coming to an end as the wild, challenging and sometimes physically demanding locations have been replaced by more urban surrounds, the remote campsites giving way to guesthouses with real beds, the wildlife less evident but retail "opportunities" increasing by the day. I feel sad to leave the more isolated regions behind but Jim is very happy to have a comfortable bed!
All the houses here and in Knysna seem to use security companies as well as being well secured with gates, locks etc. It is difficult to know how much crime there is locally but all the signs on houses give the name of their security company with the warning "Armed Response". The homes here are a far cry from the squatter camps seen en route and around the mining areas. There is a lot of building of new (tiny) homes taking place in the camps and townships but it will clearly take much longer before reasonable homes are available to everyone.13th December. Cape Town
We made it! Back where we started our journey on the 9th October but this time in Sweet Ocean View, another of the Sweet Cottages.
Today e started by taking the cable car to the top of Table Mountain and then spent the afternoon at Kirstenbosch Botanical gardens where, apart from seeing the plants, we watched some kind of fancy dress gathering. They might have been recognisable characters but not to us, perhaps we are too old to know them.
15th December Cape Town Ruth nd Albert dropped us off at the Waterfront before they set out on their long journey back to Jo'burg. We have had a great trip with them and enjoyed their company and their humour. I hope they enjoyed the journey too. Albert seems to know people wherever we go which is always interesting and he has taken us to some excellent restaurants. He has 20 years experience in Southern Africa and is very knowledgeable about birds and wildlife.
They started Ark Safaris three years ago and their approach is to customise trips wherever possible to the needs of their clients. So for us that meant slowing down walks so we could look at birds and take photographs. Albert and Chris were very patient and never rushed us. Usually they have small groups of family or friends and couples. Ruth is keen to ensure that clients can choose to have familiar foods or try local specialities if they wish.
Allthe stops we have made with them have been worthwhile and th e standard of the accommodation has been much higher than we expected with the lodges often furnished with antiques and providing delicious breakfasts.We really wish them luck with their business. They are so hardworking and committed to giving clients good experiences that they deserve to succeed.
Their website is www.arksafaris.co.zaand for an unforgettable experience we would definitely recommend them.
We used the last few days in Cape Town to go wine tasting again, walk along the seafront and visit the V&A Waterfront. I thought the abbreviation meant Victoria & Albert but it is actually Victoria and Alfred, her son. The last day we spent a couple of hours having a lovely lunch overlooking the harbour, facing Table Mountain and watching a sea lion dipping and diving in front of us.
Cape Town has a superb location, is close to the beautiful wine region of Stellenbosch and Franshoek and has plenty to see. What I don't like is the steep streets and difficult parking where most buildings have their own parking but squeezed within security gates making entering or leaving difficult as a result of the lack of space. When we dropped some people off after the wine tasting the driver had to manoeuvre to line up in order to exit and he asked for the gate to be open 4 times before we managed to get through it with a few centimetres spare on each side.We do not know the extent of crime here but everything is locked and double locked. To reach our room in Sweet Berries house, a very nice area, we have to unlock an outer metal security door, the front door and then the door to our room and the staff ensure all doors are locked all the time.
So we are now packed and waiting for the taxi to the airport. Since we arrived on 8th October we have spent 49 nights camping , 23 nights in guest houses or lodges visiting 52 different locations across 7 countries. We found the journey less physically demanding than we expected but I found it much more emotional than I imagined, for example walking with the San and in some areas such as Lesotho seeing how difficult life is for people there. We have seen so much it is impossible to know where to start when describing it.
Now we are looking forward to being home for Christmas before we leave on the 28th December for Dubai and New Zealand where I shall post the next blog if all goes to plan. We wish you all a good, peaceful Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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18th December 2014

So glad you made it full circle and that you enjoyed the company of Ruth & Albert - such wonderful hosts - so many happy memories to take with you and treasure - we often think of our time with them both. Hopefully we can catch up in Du
bai in the meantime a very Merry Christmas from us two.
18th December 2014

Drink up Jim

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