Traveling in Southern Africa
More than ever before, our recent trip in Southern Africa has made me realize how traveling makes us see instead of merely look. As I journey I do not take anything for granted. Even the routine such as eating, bathing, sleeping, talking get framed with attention. With each travel the new experiences stretch mind and open heart a bit more. As outer surroundings widen the world within also broadens. Traversing gives contour to the routine at home because you see them with new eyes. You don’t have to go to a distant land. You may choose to go to plains if you live in the mountains or visit small towns if you live in the big city. “Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before,” advises Dalai Lama.
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
So, this year we traversed an unknown territory, Southern Africa. The countries included South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
Our first stop was Cape Town, South Africa’s most urbane city. We stayed at Abbey Manor Guest House, (built in 1905) set at the foot of the Table Mountain. The house overlooked the city where elegant Dutch buildings abut ornate Victorian structures and imposing British monuments. A section of Twelve Apostles mountain range was visible from our verandah.
Our introduction to the town was a long drive along pristine Clifton and Campus Bay beaches with a stunning backdrop of Twelve Apostles mountain ranges.
South Africa’s most impressive natural wonder is Table Mountain. It rises 3,500 feet above Cape Town with a distinctive mountain plateau. The prominent peak to its right is Lion’s Head with a chain of adjacent mountains cascading into the sea. A cable car carried us up as it turned 360 degrees to give a panoramic view of the surroundings. We walked the whole afternoon taking in views of the city and ocean below. Also, in view were many of the peninsula’s 2,200 species of bushes, plants and birds.
Next day we walked around the Victoria and Albert Waterfront, admiring handicrafts, selecting from some tacky some splendid African curios. Then we strolled along the cobble stone streets of Malay Bo-Kaap neighborhood. The sweet tang of Malay curry wafted through the air as bright pastel colored Georgian style homes were shining under the sunlight.
Our third day was spent at the Boulders Beach Nature Preserve where we greeted a colony of African Penguins on white sand. Large boulders create sheltered coves for its 300+ inhabitants.
Chapman’s Peak Drive was miles of boundless seascapes with drop away cliffs on the one side and a steep rock face on the other. The incredible ocean vistas reminded us of the Amalfi Coast drive in Italy. On our way to the Cape we came across ostrich and elands. We arrived at Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve which we thought was the most southern tip of Africa where Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet but discovered that that point is 300km further south at Cape Agulhas.
On our last night in Cape Town we went for an elaborate African dinner and entertainment. The Gold restaurant, that prides in serving delicacies from African continent did not disappoint. We loved the food and the drum performance.