African Adventure - Our last day....

We were scheduled to leave Port Elizabeth for home at 4:00pm. We had so much fun at the game park the day before, we decided to go to another one before we left the country. We went to Sea View Game Park. As we drove in on the dirt road we were greeted by this magnificent giraffe.

And just in case we didn't get our fill the day before.....there was another big guy.

Here is a beautiful peacock posing for us.

Then we went to find the newest babies. Here is Chuck trying to make friends with a juvenile giraffe. The giraffe did not want to be petted.

But the best part of this trip was the baby lion cubs. We were able to cuddle with them. What a treat....this is the last picture I took in South Africa

All too soon we were on the airplane and on our way back home.

We had a most wonderful vacation.

Thank you for letting us share it with you.

Nancy and Chuck

Elephant Game Preserve

It is a game park that has several hundred elephants. We drove through the park in our car, but we were not allowed to get we'd want to.

Below is a movie I made of the elephants in the waterhole.

Tomorrow we leave South Africa for home. But before we leave we have one last surprise.

Table Mountain and the Southern most tip of Africa

In Cape Town, New Years day is a day that the "colored" (not black and not white) people, dress up in their minstrel clothes and party, party, party. I so wanted to be able to be downtown to see the festivities, but there just wasn't enough time. On our way to Table Mountain, however, we were on the fringes and here are a couple of pictures.

They were collecting money for some purpose. I gave some money just to be able to get a better picture.

I know they had a great time.

Next are some photos from the top of Table Mountain. The photos are looking down on Cape Town.

The white strip on the picture below is Camps beach where we were at a couple of days ago.

We then headed out of town to get to the southern most tip of Africa. Here are some pictures we made on the way there.

I promise I did not feed him!!

We finally arrived at the southern most point of Africa. This is where the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean meet.

The next morning we drove to George. We went through these lovely mountains on the way..... It was like being in a fairy tale.

Here is the hotel we stayed in. It had a thatched roof. The first time I had ever been inside a building with a thatch roof.

Well I learned something new. If a building has a thatch roof, this is the way it looks inside. This is the ceiling in our hotel room.

I caught this authentic steam train. We couldn't ride it because it was full.......maybe next time.

We went to a zoo. Here is a crocodile.

A rare white Bengal tiger.

And for a fee, we were allowed the privilege of petting a cheetah. (Yes, I really did this and No, he was not drugged!!) This cheetah will be leaving South Africa soon for a zoo in Philadelphia.

Cape of Good Hope

On New Years Eve we went to the Cape of Good Hope.

It was an all day trip to get there and back to Cape town

On our way down we stopped at this wonderful Italian restaurant to have a morning cup of coffee. For all of you who know Chuck, a second cup is necessary about 10:00am. I just loved the restaurant and took this picture to share with you. You would think we were in Italy.....all the way down to the restaurant owner (pictured here) who spoke in the most delightful Italian accent.

Our next stop was in Boulder to see the penguins. There are thousands of them here. Why they pick this particular beach over any other is a mystery to me. At one point of the beach were people swimming with them. What a great sight.

About lunch time we happened upon this wonderful outdoor seafood restaurant. This is the best advertisement I can give for South Africa.

Lobster Bisque, 2 wonderful seafood dishes and some yummy chocolate cake for desert, plus our drinks. Total for lunch for 2 about $20

On to the cape.

Here are some pictures.

And the proof we finally made it there. This is not the southern most tip of Africa. (That will come later) Cape of Good Hope is the southwestern most and the more familiar point.

Capetown, South Africa

Chuck and I flew from Joburg to Capetown on December 30th. Upon arriving we went to the car rental desk to get our car. (Yes, we rented a car knowing that in South Africa they drive on the other side of the road from us.) We had to work as a team...Chuck at the wheel, me with the map. We both felt like we had dyslexia as we found our way (safely) to our hotel. Unfortunately, I was concentrating so on making sure we stayed on the left side of the road, I forgot to take any pictures.

After getting our room, we ventured out to explore Cape Town.

First we went to the top of Signal Hill to get an overall look of the City.

Here is a view of some of the city with Table Mountain in the background.

Looking down on Camp's Bay

These little guys were everywhere we went. They are called Guinea Fowl. They are sort of an icon of South Africa.

Next we went to Camps Bay and had lunch. Ribs, Chips and Iced Tea......just like down home!!

White sand, Atlantic ocean. Very nice beach, but the water was cold.

After visiting the beach, we went to the Victoria Wharf

We took a ride on a real steam boat.....just like in "The African Queen."

Chuck and a new friend!

We had a wonderful first day in Capetown!

Johannesburg, South Africa

The day after our gorilla trek, Saturday, December 28, we flew to Johannesburg, South Africa to begin the second half of our vacation. There were no jet ways on the planes. We had to climb the steps to ascend and descend. My thigh muscles were so sore from the mountain climbing to see the gorillas that I could hardly make it. We arrived in Johannesburg about 7pm and we stayed in the same hotel we stayed in on our way to Nairobi the week before. Here is a view of the backside of the hotel. It was a lovely place to stay. We knew we were not in the bush anymore. (electricity, air conditioning, paved roads, etc.)

The next morning we went to the World Bazaar. It is a flea market that is within walking distance of our hotel. We were warned to be very careful because of pick pocketers and to return to the hotel no later than 4 pm. After than bit of information, I chose to leave my camera at the hotel. Chuck took his however and the following pictures are some he took at the World Bazaar. Besides having many, many stalls of African crafts, lots of food and other items, there were street performers.

Here are samples:

Chuck took my picture as I posed with these camels

Mountain Gorilla Adventure

We had originally planned to go with Carol and Frank to Burundi after Christmas. Before Christmas, we talked with some visiting missionaries who had been to visit Dianne Fossey’s compound in northern Rwanda. They had gone on a trek up the volcanoes and had seen the mountain gorillas. Since there is unrest in Burundi anyway, we decided we would try and see the mountain gorillas instead.

Kibogora is very isolated from the rest of the world. Deciding to go see the gorillas is not a minor change in plans. But with the use of a satellite phone and connections some missionaries had in Kigali, we were able to find out that it might be possible, if they tour had space available. All the tour offices were closed down for the holidays so there was no way to confirm.

Chuck and I decided we would take a chance and try to see the gorillas. If we could not see them, we would just spend a day in Kigali instead. At least we would have tried.

On the day after Christmas, Carol drove us one hour on dirt road to get to the paved road. We took a taxi (Volkswagen bus) for six hours to Kigali. We went to a hotel and checked in and then proceeded to the tourist bureau to get permits to see the mountain gorillas. When we arrived at the tourist bureau, they were closed.

We went back to the hotel and Chuck left me there while he went out scouting around. He came back an hour or so later with a taxi driver that could speak English. He wanted to introduce me to the drive and make sure I felt comfortable with him. Chuck contracted with the driver to pick us up at 5:00 am the following morning and take us up to the Dianne Fossey compound, where the gorilla treks start from.

The next morning our driver showed up and took us to the compound. We got there at 7:30 AM and were the first to arrive . When they opened the office Chuck went in and asked if they could take us up. They have strict limitations on tourists visiting the gorillas. Only 8 persons per gorilla family. There are 4 gorilla families. So only 32 people a day can see them. It just so happened that Chuck and I made up numbers 31 and 32.

The cost to see the gorillas is $250 US dollars per person. Chuck pulled out his credit card and they said no credit cards. Luckily, Chuck had exactly 5 $100 US dollars in his wallet - (and that is all he had). He pulled out the money and gave it to the man.

Chuck's version of the Gorilla Trek:

Nancy relayed the story of the getting to the gorillas. I am going to interject something before she continues with the African Adventure. She forgot to mention a very exciting adventure we had getting from Kibogora to Kigali.

The adventure started December 24 when Carol hired Daniel to go into Changugu (2 hours) and get us airplane tickets on the bush plane to Kigali.

Daniel went all the way to the little airport only to find out that there would not be a flight on our travel day, December 26. Therefore, he implemented the backup plan and purchased three seats (one seat for our luggage) on the Okapi taxi/bus.. Total cost of 3 seats and the services of Daniel was less than $10.

We left Kibogora at 7:30 AM the morning of December 26, 2003. Our Okapi taxi was scheduled to depart Changugu at 8:30, and would take about 30 minutes to reach our rendezvous spot. We drove for an hour on the dirt road and parked in front of the banana store at the junction with the paved road.

We waited there for about 30 minutes. There were a bunch of other people waiting there also. Apparently it was the "in" place to hang out. While we sat there watching down the road, waiting for the Okapi taxi to appear, the bystanders stood around and watched us!

Carol and Nancy used the toilet at the back of the banana store (and said that it was interesting), but I stayed with our luggage, watching the road and the bystanders. Finally, the Okapi arrived.

Here is a picture of our taxi.

Here I am at my jump seat by the window

Here is the inside view - note how everyone is using the white knuckle seat belt technique.

We were the only white guys in the taxi. We were feeling like glow in the dark stickers when one of the passengers spoke to us in English and it put us at ease. We learned that all the other passengers were members of an acrobat troop from the Congo. They showed us pictures of themselves piled high in the air on top of each other. They were on their way to Kigali to perform. I took a picture of Nancy with the troop so we could e-mail it to them later.

We arrived at Kigali about 1 PM. We drove to the tourist office to obtain our permits to view the gorillas only to learn that the President of Rwanda had announced that December 26th would be a state holiday. The tourist office that sells permission to view the gorillas is only open until noon on state holidays and was vacant when we arrived, so we could not purchase our permits. We had to improvise and get our permits at the base of the volcano where the gorillas live. Here is the field and mountain we climbed to get to the Volcano National Park where the Gorillas live. Another adventure that Nancy left out was the actual trek up the volcano to view the gorillas. It was straight up! The guides drove us to a farm field at the base of the volcano. Then we started walking. The park was at the top of the farm fields. After about an hour of strenuous climbing, we reached the park and a group of armed park rangers. Then the fun began. It was hand over hand up the hill, and if you grabbed a plant for help it turned out to be a stinging nettle. Ouch! We observed the gorilla family for our allotted hour. They moved and we had to follow. It was difficult to keep our footing. Everyone of the tourists fell on their butt at one time or another.

Here are a few photos that give some idea of the trek experience.

Here is the field and mountain we climbed to get to the Volcano National Park, where the gorillas live.

These are the guards just on the edge of the National Park. It is their job to protect the gorillas from poachers. There are only about 300 gorillas at this time, they are almost extinct.

Here is a picture of Nancy taking a picture of a gorilla. Notice how high we had to climb. It took us a long time to reach the top and by the time we got there Nancy was huffing and puffing.

Here is the gorilla whose picture Nancy was taking.

A young gorilla.

The silver back.

Here is a short movie of a mother gorilla and her baby that Nancy had the presence of mind to make.