Tag Archives: travel

Hidden South African Gems – Port Alfred

I officially graduated from Rhodes University. I am no longer a Rhodent, I now part of the upper echelon of Old Rhodians. Supposedly. But #Rhodent4Life!

My gran was supposed to come down to South Africa from the UK to celebrate my grad, but her goat attacked her. How’s that for an excuse? It was a pretty bad injury, and I’m glad she stayed home and rested and recovered, though it did make some of our “grad-weekend” plans seem a bit dull…

Port Alfred

We figured we could make a beach weekend out of a weekend in Grahamstown, so we booked in a B&B in Port Alfred that was absolutely stunning, right on the beach front. PA is only 40 minutes away (30 if you’re one of the students I tutored last year who did the trip daily), so it seemed convenient at the time. It wasn’t really, because we spent most of our time in GHT, so it was a little bit wasted. But gorgeous nonetheless.

I know my mom will probably hate me for putting this up, but she is beautiful and it's her birthday on Saturday, so all my love to her, lying on some super comfy bed in a really neatly and perfectly finished B&B bedroom

I know my mom will probably hate me for putting this up, but she is beautiful and it’s her birthday on Saturday, so all my love to her, lying on some super comfy bed in a really neatly and perfectly finished B&B bedroom

I was glad to have the opportunity to visit PA again, as beach trips were seriously under-utilized in my time at Rhodes. It made for a great day trip, though one that was difficult to over do, because it was just that little bit too far away. I do regret not spending more time checking out Bathurst as well, which is a quaint little place.

Taught mom how to take a selfie. Not sure if it was a mistake to have done that or not...?

Taught mom how to take a selfie. Not sure if it was a mistake to have done that or not…?

Port Alfred is basically just another one of those gorgeous small towns along the South African coast. It is especially beautiful because it is situated in the Eastern Cape, and somehow most places there are beautiful. It’s a stunning coastal visit that still holds it’s small-town simplicity.

Rock pools

The kind of place that makes you want to attempt to capture each crashing wave and the incredible rows of shells, and the crystal clarity of the water, but its just too beautiful to ever adequately do it justice

We got a local’s recommendation to check out the Three Sisters rock formation just up the coast from Port Alfred, about a 15 minute drive. We were about 45 minutes too late, but if you ever get the chance, make sure to go just before and for the duration of low tide. It truly is a wonder to behold.

This seemed like a good idea in the time before I did it. Then I realised that I am pathetic and spider webs can be icky but it was too late to turn back...

This seemed like a good idea in the time before I did it. Then I realised that I am pathetic and spider webs can be icky but it was too late to turn back… I promise I didn’t Photoshop that sky either.

Port Alfred is just another one of those places that reminds you just how beautiful South Africa is, and how lucky we are to have such simple yet breathtaking places right on our doorstep, and a reminder to take advantage of it before we as humans do the inevitable.

How I ended up in Africa

Spike Reid. Adventurer. Writer. Explorer. Photographer. Gentleman. Motivator. Friend. Opportunist. British. He’s a climber, a sailor, a mountaineer, an expedition leader. He was even mine once.

Spike

Spike discovered an opportunity to deliver a rare Land Rover Defender 100 from Cape Town to Nairobi for an Englishman who is now working up in Kenya. Spike needed a co-driver, and I had decided that this was going to be my year of adventure, so I said “Yes”. And what an adventure it was!

Spike would laugh at me beforehand when I expressed my reservations about going to ‘Africa’. “But you live in Africa!” he would say. I think I can now conclusively state that I do not, in fact live in Africa. South Africa in particular is very different from the likes of Stone Town and Moshi.

Stone Town

Google also didn’t help. This was my first holiday “on my own” and I had little experience in planning this kind of trip. Google told me: “BEWARE!” Beware of the water, beware of the fruit, the vegetables, the disease and, of course, the malaria. So I got my prophylactics, purchased some go-to snacks (3kg of them to be precise), and made sure I had a well-stocked first aid medications kit. I was glad to have the snacks (particularly the nuts and fizzers), and with the amount of mozzie bites I got, I happily endured the trippy dreams in prevention of the malaria.

***

So it turns out that Africa is very African. I expected a few ‘big towns’, and Arusha and Nairobi did meet (and somewhat exceeded) these expectations, but I didn’t expect just how rural many of the “towns” were. The corruption in the police also took me by surprise. Yes, we got stopped by every group of traffic cops we passed by (ons blanke), but by the end of the trip, not one monetary bribe was paid.

Just your casual African petrol station not too far out of Arusha

Just your casual African petrol station not too far out of Arusha

I was lucky to have had the opportunity to go on this trip. It was different, it was educational, and it took me right out of my comfort zone, which was ‘fun’ for me, but which Spike probably didn’t enjoy so much – if you ask any of my family, you would learn that I am not the easiest of campers, though I generally happily take on the challenge.

***

Here are my tips and warnings for planning a (camping) trip to Africa:

1. Use local currency – US Dollars are not as widely accepted in the more rural areas as Google claims. It also works out substantially cheaper.

2. Take antimalarials. Get your yellow fever and tetanus jabs up to date.

3. Don’t take too much food, but easy and healthy snacks are nice to have with you because ‘healthy’ options are rather limited.

4. Check when the rainy season is. We weren’t affected by it (somehow – we were there in the rainy season, but all the ravines were dry as anything – it still made for some awesome 4×4-ing).

5. Water. We bought water. It was pretty reasonable, and out of sealed bottles you know you can trust it. Obviously this is for drinking, and if you’re as fussy as me, you can cook your pasta in it too. Don’t forget you also use water for brushing your teeth.

6. Make sure your guidebooks are up-to-date. Ours wasn’t even that old, but the recommended campsite no longer offered camping. Also related to campsites: don’t purchase drinks from the bars – they are so overpriced! Grab your G+T’s from local spazza shops in the towns.

London Ice Sculpting Festival 2014

I had a huge list of events that I really wanted to get to on my stay in London, but because London is so huge and buzzing, I didn’t manage to get around to doing most of them! I am glad I got to go to this event though, it’s absolutely the kind of event you would not easily experience in South Africa, even in the middle of winter.

Faces through the ice.jpg

The London Ice Sculpting Festival was held on a particularly bright winters day in Wood Wharf. This posed a challenge for the sculptors participating because the glaring sun was melting their massive blocks of ice. The sun shining through the ice was beautiful though.

Tribal ice.jpg

There were a number of countries participating, and you could tell which countries were able to get a lot of experience in ice sculpting: Russia and Canada were significantly good, while Africa seemed to have a slightly different style. All the participants were incredibly skilled – the sculptures they worked on were certainly not easy or basic.

The tools they used were quite interesting too. Electric chainsaws (plugged in to a power source, even in the puddles forming below them), soldering irons, and even your normal domestic clothes iron (it seemed like a normal domestic iron – I could be wrong, but it would probably work just as well anyway). Sculptors were required to wear chainsaw-resistant trousers – those are seriously hardcore trousers!

Russian ice sculpting.jpg

Castles and stuff

USA vs. UK? My friend went to the USA over the December break and she absolutely loved it, particularly when she got a whirlwind experience of New York just before the Polar Vortex hit (it’s quite a contrast to our Sunny South Africa Decembers). When she met me in London just afterwards, she was surprised at how less urbanised London was. Yet London is such a progressive city too, how can there be such a difference?

She was expecting more of the Starbucks on every corner (or Costa’s in UK) and big chain stores like Primark and H&M to pop up wherever you decided you needed one, but we ended up having to Google these places and then walk for ages (well, more ages than you would in NYC by the sound of it at least) just to find the shop you are looking for. One of my favourite things about the UK, particularly London, is how accessible everything is. One of my other favourite things about the UK is that they offer you this accessibility alongside all their rich history and heritage.

Dramatically viewing the scene.jpg

After the family festivities of Christmas, Kenilworth Castle opened their gates for free public access, as a Boxing Day treat. It was rather chilly, but the sun was cheerily brightening up the crisp blue skies, as it attempted to heat up frozen children noses. This may sound cute, but not when a particular “children” is moaning about how cold they are and how they want to go home because they have no interest in the ruins of a castle that held many royals (including PRINCESSES, sweet child!).

Kenilworth Gardens .jpg

Thankfully, the organisers also hosted a duck race. We felt very foreign when we heard about this: isn’t animal racing like this considered to be animal cruelty? It turned out to be a really fun event involving thousands of numbered rubber ducks going downstream. You place a bet on a number, and if yours makes it to the end first, you win! It was all very novel, and definitely worth celebrating with some mulled wine.

Duck racing .jpg

Castles are definitely one of the things you absolutely HAVE to visit in the UK: each one has a pretty unique story, and to think that people actually lived in those freezing stone halls with no electricity, yet still managed proper grandeur – it’s a humbling experience (as in: how badly do we really need it?).

kenilworth characters .jpg

Cuppa 1800′s tea?

Mom insisted that we had to do something cultural. We simply HAD to. But what educational things can you do in London when you only have 3 hours to spare? You simply can’t do museums and galleries any justice in that minimal amount of time. So we hopped on a train and headed down to Greenwich, on what was possibly the wettest day of my UK stay.

Masts and rigging always look so spectacular!

Masts and rigging always look so spectacular!

It's quite high up there, but mom is steering us true!

It’s quite high up there, but mom is steering us true (sort of…)!

 

The wet weather didn’t deter, however, and we really felt empathy for the poor sailors who would have had to deal with so much worse when they were aboard and sailing the Cutty Sark itself, in her hay day.

My brother isn't even very tall yet. The conditions must have been seriously cramped!

My brother isn’t even very tall yet. The conditions must have been seriously cramped!

 

She’s a recently refurbished old-school boat (tea clipper). She burnt down in the refurbishing process, and has recently been completed and opened up to the public again. She has an extensive history, that covers things from the tea and wool trade, coal delivery, and even served to educate new sailors. I couldn’t quite gather what made her so significant (apart from all that she’s been through), but I think this is also due to the fact that I am severely lacking in ship and nautical appreciation. I will work on that shortcoming soon.

The hull of the ship sits in a rather large hallway with a coffee shop at the back. It's incredible to think that there is a whole great big ship right above you. Then you think of the weight of it and how much cargo it used to carry and you suddenly feel very small and fragile.

The hull of the ship sits in a rather large hallway with a coffee shop at the back. It’s incredible to think that there is a whole great big ship right above you. Then you think of the weight of it and how much cargo it used to carry and you suddenly feel very small and fragile.

Things that stuck out for me was that she seemed rather fast. The museum housed in the ship itself really do a good job of demonstrating what it was like to sail the ship using a number of multimedia platforms. It’s an interactive and fun experience; they even had a ship sailing simulator to give an indication of how fast she sailed from eastern Australia to London.

In memoriam

 

It is an interesting visit even if you know nothing about anything to do with the ship, though some kind of knowledge of it’s existence would have helped us. Most people would have some motivation to visit it, though I think I was a bit unprepared. It’s definitely something nice to do in Greenwich that is a little less conventional than just visiting the Meridian (which, granted, is worth a visit as well).

Ship in a bottle (and the most hipster camera around)

Ship in a bottle (and the most hipster camera around)

You could say I’m some kind of hot fox…

… because I’m a serious browser! I love to shop, but when I say “shop” I don’t actually buy anything, so it’s definitely more of an aggressive and distracted browsing…

I came to London, knowing very well that I would be shopping quite a bit, but somehow forgetting that I had experienced a lot more of the Internet than the last time I was here, somehow. I have been in my absolute element, and I have pretty much only scoured Oxford Street in the West End. Below is a collection of some of the funniest and some of the most interesting things I have found so far.

"Dear Santa... I want it all." So true of my shopping explorations. So many wonderful things!

“Dear Santa… I want it all.” So true of my shopping explorations. So many wonderful things!

Clothes oxford

I nearly bought that dress for a Christmas party, but as you can see there was a little problem, and I didn’t have time to buy heels to make up for it. Why don’t they make short long dresses yet? The PJs would be appreciated by many students at Rhodes, and the panda skirt would be purchased in a heartbeat for a lovely friendle of mine who is mad about pandas. Pity that I come from South Africa, and the Rand is depressingly weak at the moment. Also: leggings absolutely everywhere! I still can’t decide if people should be allowed to wear leggings as pants (it depends if the way I wear them counts as wearing them as pants or not).

An array of drinking chalices

An array of drinking chalices

Some of these are appropriate for my four-year-old cousin, some of them she would absolutely love inappropriately. Either way, this is a really fun shop.

Some funky quotes to keep you inspired and motivated on your browsing way

Some funky quotes to keep you inspired and motivated on your browsing way

Quotes on posters, quotes on money tins, quotes to buy for your house, and quotes as graffiti. Everywhere you turn there is someone offering up their own piece of wisdom. I guess that’s just the world today, right?

Shoes. OMG shoes. So many weird and wonderful types... I have this problem that even if they are ugly, I want to try them all on! I also have a problem that I don't actually end up liking any of the nice ones either, so I find the purchasing of shoes to be rather problematic

Shoes. OMG shoes. So many weird and wonderful types… I have this problem that even if they are ugly, I want to try them all on! I also have a problem that I don’t actually end up liking any of the nice ones either, so I find the purchasing of shoes to be rather problematic.

It took me ages to find boots! It turns out there were quite a few unanticipated purchases that have been made since arriving…

The best part of the shopping experience: the food of course. So many treats available at every turn, it's no wonder that high up on my shopping list are a new pair of jeans (in my current size...).

The best part of the shopping experience: the food of course. So many treats available at every turn, it’s no wonder that high up on my shopping list are a new pair of jeans (in my current size…).

Not to worry about all these sweet things though, I am off to gym today (the first time since I’ve been here, how shameful!), which also means I’ll need new gym gear. I optimistically brought along some running clothes. Unfortunately, it really is cold here, and I don’t much fancy running in this unfamiliar area in the dark. So, gym for me! I will also get the added benefit of attending spinning classes which means I won’t completely die on the 110km cycle race that is the Argus in early March 2014.

I have many more hidden shopping districts to attend to shortly, but for now I have done one of the bigger and more important streets. I’ve got that out the way, now I can learn to be less of a tourist and find all the local spots to save some cash and still look as fabulous as everyone else here does.

Freshly brewed cake

I am finally in England, and I finally have my degree! Could that be any more exciting?

Brace yourself

Winter is certainly not coming, it is most definitely here. Feel it! It is wonderful. Before I tell you anything about the most perfect cake in my life right now, I need to give you some advice, especially if you are not from a cold country. Just because it’s cold, doesn’t mean you need to be cold too! I arrived with my South African winter coats, bracing myself against the cold. I expected the cold, and I was ready to deal with it. Little did I know that you can actually wear a genuinely warm jacket, and you don’t have to feel the cold at all. You can also get really stylish jackets too (fancy that…), so there is no excuse! This revelation has saved me, and I look forward for my next few weeks in this bitter yet beautiful city.

Another great thing about being here in the big city is all the new coffee opportunities. I can continue to hone my skills in the brewed art, however finding a good cup of coffee has been surprisingly difficult thus far. And my English Granny complains about the coffee in SA? She clearly doesn’t know what she’s talking about. One coffee that does not fail, however, is this delicious and delectable coffee cake.

This espresso sponge cake with mocha buttercream frosting is truly the best cake recipe I have stumbled upon yet

This espresso sponge cake with mocha buttercream frosting is truly the best cake recipe I have stumbled upon yet

As I must have mentioned before, this blog is largely about me learning to cook and bake, and become a better food photographer. You are joining me on my learning experience, my delicious food-journey, venturing into the unknown as I experiment with new foods and techniques. Obviously, this learning takes some proactivity, so I started an online cooking course, which turned out to be super handy and educational! It was kind of basic, but there were definitely a few technical tips in there that I picked up and they did have some great recipes that you had to complete as part of the course before you could move on. That includes this amazing coffee cake, which has literally become my favourite cake recipe ever thus far, and some amazingly simple sugar/butter cookies that are easier and simpler than mine.

Pam agreed with me on the coffee cake and on the biscuits. Hi Pam

Pam agreed with me on the coffee cake and on the biscuits – delicious. Hi Pam

The coffee sponge is so light and fluffy, with just enough coffee that it’s not overpowering but that you still get sufficient coffee flavour. The instruction video describes the ‘beautiful caramel coloured cake batter’ but I thought it looked basically the same as normal cake batter. It was still a very tasty cake batter (had to make sure there was enough coffee in there of course… There was).

It was literally the largest cake tin I have baked in - it was unnecessarily large, and I ended up with a single layer cake, contrary to instruction

It was literally the largest cake tin I have baked in – it was unnecessarily large, and I ended up with a single layer cake, contrary to instruction

I made this cake during my final exams, and it certainly kept me going for a portion of my studying. Unfortunately, it sat beside me, smelling wonderful, and it didn’t keep me company for long enough. Made for a good study snack of course at least.

Make sure to let your cake cool...

Make sure to let your cake cool…

The other problem with a single layer cake was that there was just too much icing for it, but there would have been just too little for a double layer one. I topped the cake with toasted walnuts the first time, but was disappointed by their flavour (which I was pretty new to), so I used pecan nuts the second time. I need to find a way to use pistachios, those are amazing (and addictive…).

The walnuts looked pretty good on this single layer espresso cake, but I do prefer the pecan nuts, as I used earlier in this post

The walnuts looked pretty good on this single layer espresso cake, but I do prefer the pecan nuts, as I used earlier in this post

The cookie recipe is one for the books; or one for your mental recipe book, as it is that easy to remember and execute. They use a really basic 3-ingredient cookie recipe, that works according to a ratio, and can be adapted to your tastes. In these, you add a dash of lemon zest, which gives them a perfect dash of flavour. The cookies are straightforward and reliable, as a genuine cookie should be.

Christmas sugar/butter lemon cookies

Christmas sugar/butter lemon cookies

Happy Christmas indeed!

The recipes are both from my favourite online shopping site, and they can be found here and here. Enjoy!

Jay Bay for a Day

Although I am not a huge fan of staying in the remote isolation that is Grahamstown, staying in the Eastern Cape does have a few perks. It can be especially beautiful, and staying in G’Town means I’m not too far away from places that offer much in the way of aesthetics (well, until I go back to Gauteng, which happens to be this coming weekend).

One weekend, we casually decided to pop on over to Jeffrey’s Bay. It’s less than two hours away, so it is perfect for a day visit (or a night over, if you have the time). Unfortunately, we went on a day that was particularly dull, so we didn’t get to see J-Bay in its true glory.

Let's go to the beach, beach, let's go get - oh wait...

Let’s go to the beach, beach, let’s go get – oh wait…

Obviously, I was most excited to have new foods to try. I was in my element, and I nearly bought a brownie at every place we stopped. But that is why we have budgets. It was a charming and new culinary experience, and J-Bay certainly had a bit to offer.

Love Food Cafe had a perfect menu for my tastes, but unfortunately don't cater for gluten intolerant folk

Love Food Cafe had a perfect menu for my tastes, but unfortunately don’t cater for gluten intolerant folk

The motivation for going to this beach town, known to me for its surfing reputation, was the factory shopping. RVCA, billabong, and other cool outlet stores were calling (after all, summer was meant to arrive soon, which means bikini season!). I am almost as obsessed with bikinis as I am with brownies and food, so endless cheap bikinis was like a tiny slice of heaven. Bikinis tend to be more expensive than brownies, which is unfortunate, but not too much so when you’re in J-Bay! Though, you can’t have both at the same time with maximum effectiveness, if you know what I mean. Why can’t we have our cake and eat it? Because there are only so many hours in a day that one can spend exercising.

Factory shopping is the best kind, am I right?

Factory shopping is the best kind, am I right?

I love to shop, but I never buy anything. I think I have a fear of the commitment to the clothing, because I just love to look at it all, but I am scared to try new things. So I didn’t buy anything, but that doesn’t mean that the retail therapy didn’t work.

We were also fortunate enough to see a little bit of a surfing competition, but by this stage the weather was really rubbish, so we returned to our backwards little G’Town.

Junior Surfing competition

Junior Surfing competition

Zim Spoils: Part 2

I shared with you the first few days of my Zimbabwe/Victoria Falls trip. What follows is the remainder of that beyond-gorgeous experience. We really maximised our time there, and it was worth every minute of it.

Our second morning in Zimbabwe was an early one, a bitterly cold one that seemed to feel the need to prove that it was, in fact, winter. We were collected from the hotel and driven to a lovely boma where we awaited the arrival of another new form of transportation.

My mother dearest feeding her elephant

My mother dearest feeding her elephant

Riding an elephant was kind of like riding a horse, except the saddle was a lot less supportive: I constantly felt as though I was sliding uncomfortably close to the handler (called a Mahout) in front of me, so I got a really good inner thigh workout by trying to maintain my personal space-bubble. The elephants themselves were lovely, although a bit intimidating, particularly when they started to get a bit aggressive with one another. They were still very tame, however, and they were a pleasure to be around.

We got a really close up view of the inside of an elephant's mouth, teeth and all when we feed them after the ride

We got a really close up view of the inside of an elephant’s mouth, teeth and all when we feed them after the ride

After awarding the elephants some treat, we were served an unexpected breakfast of our own, which almost makes up for the excessive price tag of the once in a lifetime opportunity. It was really great, but certainly not the kind of thing you would be able to pay for on a regular basis.

Waiting for breakfast, which was accompanied by Mazoe, a popular juice concentrate

Waiting for breakfast, which was accompanied by Mazoe, a popular juice concentrate

Granted, we were at a highly popular international tourist destination, but everything was really expensive! We had the option of bungee jumping or the bridge swing, but they were heavily priced, so we opted for the zip-line instead (definitely not because I was too scared to attempt them, because I’m not, obviously…). It was fun, but not as thrilling as the other two extreme sports undoubtedly were.

Zip lining above the Zambezi

Zip lining above the Zambezi

We attempted to visit the market while we waited for a shuttle to collect us and take us back to the hotel, however we ended up at the wrong market. Take note: the market is in a well-established building with charming little shops that we only found after spending so long in the less-established market that our bus arrived before we could rectify our mistake. At least we were genuinely supporting local business.

My brother waiting impatiently to be collected by the bus after being dragged around shopping

My brother waiting impatiently to be collected by the bus after being dragged around shopping

We concluded our final day in Zimbabwe with a sunset Zambezi river cruise, complete with Gin and Tonics (to ward of the mosquitos) and some crocodile meat hidden in the platters that ensured I only ate the non-meat items – aint no way I’m having croc, I’m not that open-minded just yet…

A charming welcome before boarding the boat

A charming welcome before boarding the boat

The hungry hungry hippo calls his friends. There ended up being about seven in this area eventually

The hungry hungry hippo calls his friends. There ended up being about seven in this area eventually

Elephant on the banks of the island in the middle of the Zambezi. It had just been banging it's head against the tree to get fruit

Elephant on the banks of the island in the middle of the Zambezi. It had just been banging it’s head against the tree to get fruit

The sunset over the zambezi was a perfect way to end a lovely holiday in Zimbabwee

The sunset over the zambezi was a perfect way to end a lovely holiday in Zimbabwe

Zimmmm-babwe and Vic Falls

I had the pleasure of expanding my African explorations over this Vac. To my gran’s surprise and displeasure, this exploration included a bit more than we had anticipated. We were not aware of the fact that Livingstone, the airport we were traveling into, was not in Zimbabwe, where we were going to be staying, but rather in Zambia. We only discovered this when we landed. Not too smart on our side for not having checked, but we just never thought that a travel agent would send us via a completely different country without telling us. It caused some hassels for my gran and cousin, and made our transit time substantially longer, but it wasn’t all that bad. We got to see some exciting things and really get into the African experience, complete with African Time.

There were elephants on the side of the road, you know, just casual. And then some idiot decides it's a good idea to GET OUT OF HIS CAR to take photos. Thankfully, the elephant chased said idiot away.

There were elephants on the side of the road, you know, just casual. And then some idiot decides it’s a good idea to GET OUT OF HIS CAR to take photos. Thankfully, the elephant chased said idiot away.

We stayed in the gorgeous Safari Lodge a short drive away from the Victoria Falls National Park. The view from our accommodation was stunning: our first evening found us sipping drinks watching the sunset over the Watering Hole. The animals weren’t shy either, and we got to see loads of different wildlife just in that evening.

Victoria Falls - Safari Lodge, Zimbabwe. Absolutely stunning bush accommodation

Victoria Falls – Safari Lodge, Zimbabwe. Absolutely stunning bush accommodation

Sunset over the watering hole

Sunset over the watering hole

The service at the hotel was pretty good, apart from the fact that there was some kind of miscommunication regarding the sleeping arrangements, and they were unable to fix this, which was understandable given that we were not overly keen on being roomed too far away from one another. The rooms themselves were really comfortable, with a choice of fan and/or air-con, and huge mosquito nets over the beds, which my brother was ever-thankful for. He was paranoid that we were going to end up with malaria, particularly as my mother had decided that we were not going to take tablets this time. None of the three of us got bitten at all, and we all seem to be doing okay… My bro was not impressed by the lack of TV, but he made do, using that time to sleep as much as possible, as teenaged boys do.

Walked out of my room and there was this little guy having a snack, saying "hi"

Walked out of my room and there was this little guy having a snack, saying “hi”

Our first proper day in Zim had us doing one of the things I have wanted to do for a while, and we got to do it in one of the most appropriate settings as well: a helicopter flight over the Victoria Falls and the Zambezi. It was absolutely gorgeous. It was obviously a bit pricey, as helicopter “flips” (as my gran refers to it) generally are, so we opted for the shorter flight, but it was one of the most breathtaking experiences ever. The flight itself was fun, something really worth doing, but we could not have chosen a more special wonder to view. The hospitality at the helipad was also great and we bought a DVD afterwards.

We got to look super-stylish in our headphones as we flew over the most spectacular views ever

We got to look super-stylish in our headphones as we flew over the most spectacular views ever

Could it get more picturesque?

Could it get more picturesque?

It's hard to comprehend the massive amount of water that just constantly cascades over those rocks

It’s hard to comprehend the massive amount of water that just constantly cascades over those rocks

A driver took us from the helipad to the Victoria Falls National Park, where the entrance fee, in dollars, was pretty steep, particularly for foreigners (not part of SADC). Once inside, there was an easy-to-follow route along the one side of the gorge into which the powerful waters fall. It was magnificent to behold.

Endless falls

Endless falls

Rainbows everywhere! You can't see it, but this one was a full rainbow that went right across, and it was double... #doublerainbow

Rainbows everywhere! You can’t see it, but this one was a full rainbow that went right across, and it was double… #doublerainbow

"May this stupendous grandeur and wonder of nature forever inundate each and every human heart with a fruitful and fulfilling sea of oneness - peace. Do not stop dreaming! One day your world-peace-dream will inundate the entire world. - Sri Chinmoy"

“May this stupendous grandeur and wonder of nature forever inundate each and every human heart with a fruitful and fulfilling sea of oneness – peace. Do not stop dreaming! One day your world-peace-dream will inundate the entire world. – Sri Chinmoy”

It is difficult to describe the sheer awesome power of that water as it crashes down. The “Smoke That Thunders” is a very appropriate name, with that smoke being a wet haze that rises up from the depths of the gorge, and condensing to rain down on you unexpectedly. Rain jackets are a must, however, they said that the more wet you get, the more blessings are falling upon you. So maybe just take one for your camera, and hope for warm weather.

It's also fun to just get caught in the rain

It’s also fun to just get caught in the rain

Don't forget your raincoat!

Don’t forget your raincoat!

Speaking of the weather, I was not expecting the weather we had while there. I thought, “hey, middle of winter, there will probably be a chill in the air. I’ll take some shorts for hiking, perhaps.” I packed jeans and long sleeved shirts. I luckily had some lighter vests for under these, and the shorts for hiking. If I hadn’t, I would have been most uncomfortable in the summer heat. It’s like they only had winter at night, and the daytime sun makes the weather forget what season it’s supposed to be in. The nights were fairly chilly though, as is often the case in the middle of the bush.

Tram ride through the bush, could we be any less mainstream?

Tram ride through the bush, could we be any less mainstream?

Old-school tramming

Old-school tramming

Our last activity for that day was the Tram ride. We booked many of our activities not expecting much else apart from the activity itself. The tram ride we had booked because we had heard that we could take a harnessed walk along the underside of the bridge. While we found out at the last minute that this was not the case with the evening tram ride, rather that was an activity forming part of the morning ride, ours was still an altogether pleasant experience. It was an old-school tram, leaving from one of the oldest hotels in the area, Victoria Hotel, with an enthusiastic and friendly tour guide who was full of useful information. They kept our glasses topped up, mine with gin and tonic water (to ward off the mozzies), and we got a serving of light snacks.

Victoria Falls Bridge was the final stop for our sunset tram ride

Victoria Falls Bridge was the final stop for our sunset tram ride

Mumzy with her G+T

Mumzy with her G+T

The tram took us to the bridge that overlooks the Victoria Falls and serves as the border crossing between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Here we were treated to champagne and a theatrical presentation by a “136-year-old” man who told us about how he was involved in the construction of the bridge. We got to take pictures of the falls in the sunset, and made our way back home on the tram, looking out for game in the bush on the way.

Jean-Jacques is allegedly 136 and was involved in the construction of this interesting engineering feat

Jean-Jacques is allegedly 136 and was involved in the construction of this interesting engineering feat

It had been a long day so we had a pretty early night. There were more activities to come in the morning.

To be continued…

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