Tracks – Walkabout with Dad

Day 1 – Arrival Day

16 September 2018

Dad arrived in great shape considering he has been traveling for over
28 hours. Between driving to the airport, getting there 3 hours early,
transferring flights in DC to fly to Johannesburg (With a touchdown in
Addis), a long line in immigration, another transfer to his Cape Town
flight to find me waiting for him at the Cape Town airport guest arrival
waiting area. I think everyone in the airport knew I was waiting for my dad to arrive
and how very excited I was for him to walk out the doors.

Our adventure begins after a good nights sleep for Dad.

Day 2 – Cape Point

17 September 2018

I planned for the first real day in South Africa to be a mellow recovery day. I know how difficult the flights and time zone changes can be but Dad woke raring to go.

Unfortunately, the day did not go as planned. We had tickets to go to Robben Island but due to high seas, the trip was canceled. We quickly made an alternate plan and headed out to Simonstown to see the endangered penguins and to Cape Point for a walk up to the lighthouse. It was a rather stormy day.
Disappointed that we did not make it to Robben Island but the day was
awesome regardless.

Day 3 – Timbavati

18 September 2018

Off to the airport to go on Safari in the Greater Kruger Area.

We are staying at Bateleur in Timbavati

I have never seen such a large buffalo herd hanging out at a watering hole. They are not my favorite animal but they are one of the Big 5 and
thus on most peoples must see list while on safari in Africa. They are impressively fierce and powerful. Never confuse a buffalo as your
friendly neighborhood herd of cows. They are unpredictable and give little warning before charging.

Day 4 – Timbavati

19 September 2018

Our first full day at Bateleur in Timbavati. We were so very lucky to see leopards on our first morning drive. Leopards are very elusive and it is never a guarantee that you will see them even when in the Kruger area. Bateleur is amazing. They have 7000 ha that they alone traverse. No bumping into other game vehicles. You really do feel that you are out there alone with the animals.

Day 5 – Timbavati

20 September 2018

Our second full day at Bateleur in Timbavati.

OH MY – What a day – the cheetah sighting was just incredible.

Day 6 – Timbavati + Hermanus

21 September 2018

Today we spent the morning at Timbavati before flying back to Cape Town. Gosh what I wouldn’t have done to just stay at Timbavati. Alas, the time has come to explore another area.One last game drive with our amazing tracker Temba and the rest of the crew at Bateleur before grabbing the shuttle back to the Hoedspruit airport, catching a flight south, retrieving our rental car, and setting out down the coast to Hermanus. I think my Dad’s favorite meal of the trip was in an Asian fusion, sushi, and grill, (I believe it has been renamed to Lemonicious). With great trepidation and skepticism he ordered the seared tuna after multiple guarantees that he would absolute love it. He did.

Day 7 – Hermanus, Agulhas, Grootvanderbosch

22 September 2018

After another look at the whales along the boardwalk in front of our B&B we set out to Agulhas.
Doesn’t everyone need to visit the very tip of the African continent where the warm waters of Indian Ocean and the frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean meet?
After the coast we headed inland to our cabin in the mountains passing fields filled with nearly electric-dayglo yellow flowers growing. I think it was likely a mustard cover crop but wow – what a color.

We arrived at our cabin in the mountains after many miles passed on gravel roads in time for a waterfall hike. It wasn’t much of a waterfall but it was still a nice walk.

Our cabin for the night Grootvanderbosch

Day 8 – Grootvaderbosch, Garden Route Game Lodge

23 September 2018

What beautiful mountains – we began the day with a hike at Grootvanderbosch before once again hitting the road to the Garden Route.

Had I known in advance that my dad was going to be so enamored with the South African coastline we could have just kept going but hindsight is hindsight – next trip…

Day 9 + 10 – Garden Route Game Lodge

23-24 September 2018

All in all the Garden Route Game Lodge was a bit lacking in every imaginable way from the drives, guides, game, and food – all except the company and the view from our cottage.

Perhaps seeing this Black Mamba was a foreshadowing of the one I would see swimming in the “pool” in Ghanzi, Botswana.

Day 11 – Bontebok National Park

25 September 2018

We set out early from the Garden Route Game Lodge for Bontebok National Park. This is a sweet little park that was established to protect the Bontebok that was critically endangered at the time. It is all plains game so you are able to safely walk, bike, hike wherever you would like in the park on designated trails and roads. It was a rather windy day – we ended up making the same hike twice in search of Dad’s missing hat that we didn’t discover was missing until we returned to the cabin. Always good to rewalk a hike in reverse to see what you missed the first time. Our little cabin had a beautiful view of the distant mountains and overlooked the meandering river.
The Bontebok really are quite stunning.

Day 12 – Bontebok National Park + Cape Town

26 September 2018

It’s another one of those – Had We Known Days…

Had we known that our Robben Island tickets would be cancelled yet again due to high seas we would have just stayed out at Bontebok and made it a leisurely trip back to Cape Town with a stop or two along the way. Instead we were up early for the sunrise and our drive back to CT to catch the boat.

With our plans for the day cancelled, we had another unscheduled day in Cape Town to fill. Believe it or not, my Dad wanted to go shopping to find a special gift for my Mom (how sweet is that? I don’t know if my Dad has ever willfully went strolling around shops looking for the ever elusive “perfect” one of a kind gift). After covering nearly the entire VA Waterfront we returned to the shop of a woodworker to buy the perfect little bowl to hold all of the shells he gathered along the route.

After the VA Waterfront we headed down to Camp’s Bay and then for a hike.

The fog in Cape Town very much reminds me of San Francisco.

Day 13 – Cape Town – Table Mountain Hike

27 September 2018

The weather did not cooperate with us on this day but we went anyway.

The night before the scheduled hike Nicholas, the guide I hired, called to say that we should likely cancel our hike given the predicted weather. We had permits to hike Dias Gorge and I didn’t want to miss out on using them (though, I do think we were the only ones that day to do so. They only issue 12 a day for this restricted route that climbs a gorge on the backside of Table Mountain). After a lot of convincing to assure him we were willing and able to go regardless of the conditions, and setting the pickup location, he offered to supply a raincoat for Dad to wear. Apparently, all it took to convince him that we really were “up for the trip” was to say we were from Vermont. A ski holiday in Vermont left quite an impression on him. Enough that he considered anyone who could survive a winter in Vermont, certainly could handle any weather Table Mountain might have in store. And boy did it have weather in store for us.

The intention was to hike the gorge, walk across the table, take in the magnificent views from the top, and descend on the tram to the base of the mountain in Cape Town. From the photos, you can see those plans did not happen as planned. It was wet, it was windy, and it was slippery; yet it was still absolutely stunning in a misty and moody kind of way. The fynbos definitely didn’t disappoint (unfortunately, the Roi Dias were not in season). Once we reached the top, Nick had access to the hiking club cabin where we stopped for a bite to eat, and a bit of shelter from the elements, while we assessed the best route back down the mountain. The winds were so fierce (to put it mildly) the tram was down for the day. There was little point in walking across the table for the view as we were in the fog layer. We decided the best route was back the way we came, with the top portion walking on the access road before joining the trail mid way down the mountain.

It wasn’t until we were back at the car that I fessed up to my bummed knee and Dad’s age – two truths that would have made him refuse to take us on this adventure – but points that definitely cemented his opinion that Vermonters are tough cats. All-in-all a day that will be remembered.

Day 14 – The Last Day

28 September 2018

The dreaded day arrived. My Pop left me behind and I drove back to the Eastern Cape to begin the Ulovane Trails Guide Training on Amakhala. Many wonderful memories made.

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