I find it very strange going from backpacking by ourselves and having our own itinerary to following a guide and being part of a group of 20 on a big touristy bus. Sometimes I’m kind of embarrassed and start to miss doing things on our own. Then I have these other moments where we are driving through the curves of the mountain sides, over rolling hills that should be green but have been painted over with a bright yellow by the growing wheat fields. I’m constantly reminded that unless we rented a car and drove it ourselves, this was the only way we were going to see so much of this beautiful country. I guess you could say I’ve grown up as a backpacker when it comes to traveling and only recently have experienced my first all inclusive. I can only remember one tour that was somewhat like this one, not as long of a trip though and that was in Australia on the Whitsundays Islands. So you can say its been a few years.
I have spent the first week of this trip with my face pressed up against the window of the bus, watching the landscape whip passed me so fast that I can barely take it all in. I smile and nudge Mark at every small thing I see and get overly excited about dogs in a yard, baboons eating on the side of the highway, cows frolicking in a field or a huge tree filled with about 6 low hanging bird nests that resemble bees hives. I have been blown away by the crinkled snow peak mountains as our backdrop when we stopped and toured the Cango Caves, driving above turquoise-blue streams that wind themselves in and out of the forests we pass. I cant count the number of glowing gold sand beaches curving along an endless bow shaped beach. The scenery so far has been the highlight of this trip and everything else in-between has been an added bonus. Im not sure I can ever capture the full beauty of the silver skyline or the crisp fresh air smell at every view point or nature walk enough to really share with you all but then again I am still struggling with reminding myself that I am here, that I have finally made it to Africa.
We’ve done a lot of little tours here and there between driving, staying in some pretty nice hotels that I would otherwise never pay to stay in. Its been a nice treat to sit back and let the itinerary happen without having to build it, to be told what time to be ready and what we are doing next. Although, I would change a few things here and there to tailor it to my preference, but other than that, its not a bad way to see a country. And even though we are the youngest in the group by at least 10 years, we have met and befriended a lot of very kind people from all over the world.
Today we flew from Port Elizabeth into Durban, a gorgeous and laidback beach front city. We walked down to the beach and dipped our toes in the Indian Ocean for the first time in our lives. The salt, so heavy in the air, caused our sunglasses to almost fog up to the point of not being able to see. The wind is much warmer than the Western Cape without that crisp bite from those surrounding mountains.
Based on raved reviews by our tour guide, we headed to a nearby Indian restaurant, DeMa, for Durbans famous curry and what they call Bunny Chow. No, you’re not eating a bunny or bunny like food as it sounds. It is basically a delicious curry with whatever protein you desire stuffed into a bread bowl. It is absolutely delicious and reasonably priced at R11 (10$cnd) a bowl.
Both of us feel the same way about the trip from here on out — we feel that now, things will start to pick up. This week has such a rich itinerary with about 5 safaris in two different parks, Zulu tribes, cruising on Lake St. Lucia for crocs and hippos and of course, more panoramic landscapes as the Eastern Cape is so different from the Western Cape we have been driving through.
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