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South Africa was always a long cherished dream of Margs and mine to visit. Originally scheduled for 2001 the trip was interrupted by the tragedy of the World Trade Towers in New York, and the subsequent uncertainty over what was going to happen next. So, we confined ourselves to India and had a great trip to Kerala, Mysore and Bangalore. So finally I managed to get across to South Africa where I had arranged to meet a good friend, Meghan and we would take the trip together. I flew in from Mumbai while Meghan landed a day later out of Canada, so quite a long trip for her! I also needed to meet Gordon, Margs second cousin, who was the last member of her family that I had not met and even during our 28 years together had not managed to touch base with. The whole trip seemed to be jinxed though and right up to the moment of landing, ill luck dogged me all the way. While the trip was later than planned, all the internal arrangements fell apart the day before leaving. I could only wait and once arrived in the country, rebook accommodation around the place along with internal flights to the game parks and so on. However, it all turned out fantastically in the end with the only down side being a canceled balloon flight from Sun City.

My first stop was in Johannesburg, where I met up with Gordon, Margs cousin, and had a couple of nights at his house on the outskirts of the city. Even though at the start of the trip and then at the end we were in Jo’burg, I never did manage to see the center of the city, as we always seemed to go around it on the freeway system. From Johannesburg Meghan and I went to Cape Town for five days, arriving just on lunchtime. As the Hotel room was not ready by then and the weather was perfect, we went straight up to Table Top Mountain and spent the rest of the afternoon there. A great place with great views and quite flat as it looks from below. Not being too energetic it was the cable car both up and down, but a good walk around the whole top was a great way to get some fresh air and exercise. A few poses on various rock features made for some great photography shots! Kruger National Park was on our agenda, as was Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana, so at the end of the trip, it was quite a good look a round the place, but like always, never enough time to see everything!
South Africa is on the African continent's southern tip and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean on the south and east. These oceans meet off the Cape of Good Hope and you can see the turmoil kicked up by the clash of currents there. It shares its borders with Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique and Swaziland, and it is quite easy to go from one country to the next. The kingdom of Lesotho als forms an enclave within the southeast part of South Africa. The southernmost point of Africa though is Cape Agulhas, located about 160 km southeast of the Cape of Good Hope and not at the Cape itself!
The San people first settled the base of the continent, followed by the Khoikhoi and then the Bantu-speaking tribes. The Dutch East India Company landed the first European settlers on the Cape of Good Hope in 1652, who became known as the Boers or Afrikaners. Speaking Afrikaans the settlers as early as 1795 tried to establish an independent republic. After occupying the Cape Colony Britain took permanent possession in 1815 bringing in 5,000 settlers. Anglicization of government and the freeing of slaves in 1833 drove about 12,000 Afrikaners to make the “great trek” north and east into African tribal territory, where they established the republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. The discovery of diamonds in 1867 and gold nine years later brought an influx of “outlanders” into the republics and spurred Cape Colony Prime Minister Cecil Rhodes to plot annexation of the States. The “inevitable” war between the Boers and the British and Commonwealth troops finally broke out on Oct. 11, 1899. The defeat of the Boers in 1902 led in 1910 to the Union of South Africa, composed of four provinces, the two former republics, and the old Cape and Natal colonies.

Jan Christiaan Smuts made South Africa a charter member of the United Nations in 1945, but he refused to sign the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Racial separation had became dominant in the country and restrictions on Bantus (black Africans), Asians, and Coloureds (any nonwhite person) were restrictions were continually being imposed, heralding in the era of apartheid. Black voters were removed from the voter rolls in 1936. Over the next half-century, the nonwhite population of South Africa was forced out of designated white areas. The Group Areas Acts of 1950 and 1986 forced about 1.5 million Africans to move from cities to rural townships, where they lived in abject poverty under repressive laws. South Africa declared itself a republic in 1961 and then severed its ties with the Commonwealth while continuing its apartheid policies, going against strong world opinion. In 1960, 70 black protesters were killed during a peaceful demonstration in Sharpesville. The African National Congress (ANC), the principal anti apartheid organization, was banned that year, and in 1964 its leader, Nelson Mandela, was sentenced to life imprisonment where he spent most of it on Robin Island, off Cape Town. Black protests against apartheid grew stronger and more violent. In 1976, an uprising in the black township of Soweto spread to other black townships and left 600 dead. Beginning in the 1960s, international opposition to apartheid intensified. The UN imposed sanctions, and many countries divested their South African holdings. Apartheid's grip on South Africa began to give way when F. W. de Klerk replaced P. W. Botha as President in 1989. De Klerk removed the ban on the ANC and released its leader, Nelson Mandela after 27 years of imprisonment. Finally in 1993 an interim constitution was passed that dismantled apartheid and provided for a multiracial democracy with majority rule. The peaceful transition of South Africa from one of the world's most repressive societies into a democracy is one of the 20th century's most remarkable success stories. Mandela and de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
Johannesburg, where Meghan and I landed and yet did not actually travel into the center to see - so we had to make do with seeing it from a far!
Cape Town and what a classic place, - great whites, wine, Table Mountain and much more. A great time here!
Who would not take a photo of the bridge to no-where, this one found in Cape Town!
Another view in Cape Town with part of the mountains in the background. Great fine weather we had, except the day we went wine tasting, and with a wine or two inside you, it did not matter!
A seal colony at Seal Island just off Hout Bay outside Cape Town, and it makes a nice way to spend a couple of hours on the way down to the Cape!
south of Cape Town and the coastline is scattered with little fishing harbours like this one at Hout Bay
One of the main roads leading into Johannesburg and we had a few days here with Gordon before disappearing down to Cape Town, and then coming back up to Kruger Game Park
The countryside around Stellenbosch where we went and did some great wine tasting. The rain had cleared up in the afternoon!
South Africa is the place where ostriches can be found outside your back door - especially if your holiday home is in a private game park!
Johannesburg is full of restaurants just on the outskirts and this was a nice Mediterranean style one while another close by was a game restaurant, that we had a good meal in the night before we left
Out in the country and the sunsets are a treat to behold and nothing like relaxing at the end of the day with a glass of South African wine watching the sun set!
These houses are typical of ones found in private game states, where residences can be owned, shared or rented accordingly. Golf, game viewing and just peace and quiet are the rewards!
On the broader scheme of things, we were delayed in waiting for this mammoth truck to pass, highlighting the growth and prosperity of the country
Weaver birds seem to be found everywhere and the nest, which is built by the males, must be perfect, or else the female will demolish it!
White roses seemed to be abundant around the Cape area and made for a great contrast in colours
A riot of colour is found all over the country - or it appears to us it is! This is a multitude of bougainvillea flowers in full profusion
These impala wander freely around one of the private game estates, this one not with hunting allowed, but some are also hunting estates actually helping to fund preservation efforts
Outside Stellebosche and we came across this ostrich that was not too afraid of us and wanted to give a good show for the camera!
A kudu in the bush and Meghan and I were lucky to sight all the big five on our trips through the game parks, Lion, Elephant, Leopard, Buffalo and Rhino!
A baboon in the bush just sitting and watching us. We sighted him, plus troops of other monkeys on our trips around
A rhino in the bush and more of him and his many colleagues of many other species can be found in the pages of this chapter, as in Kruger and Mvuradora
A wild boar an I am sorry to say, but hey taste delicious! What else can a Chef do but try the different meats!!!
An elephant in the bush and I must admit they make very efficient road blocks! We saw quite a number as we were traveling around, so thoroughly enjoyed their majesty!
At Kruger and the zebras are there for all to see and nobody should go to South Africa without visiting one of the game parks!