Monday, September 30, 2013

Table Mountain

This morning, we took a tram up to the top of Table Mountain.

Table Mountain is a flat-topped mountain overlooking the City of Cape Town. It is 3,653 feet above sea level.

Our guide told us that people can climb the mountain in about 3 hours, but that would require a significant amount of actual climbing. He said you could also walk the trails up to the top, and that it would take about 6 miles. I think my entire walking team should come to Cape Town to conquer Table Mountain! :)

The tram ride up to the top was pretty spectacular. First of all, it's a steep climb, and very fast. We were in a fairly large tram with lots of people, but the inside of the tram rotated as we climbed up and down. Very cool! I was so taken by the motion of the tram rotating, and the view as we climbed that I forgot to worry about riding in a tram.

The views from the top were phenomenal, and boy, did we luck out with the weather. Table Mountain is often covered in clouds, which form a "table cloth" over the mountain. This morning was clean, sunny, and probably in the mid-70s when we were there. Many locals who I spoke to said it was the most beautiful day here in quite a while.

Table Mountain - one of the new 7 wonders of nature. (I didn't know we had a new set of seven wonders)

the view from the tram looking down, as we climbed up

getting higher...

nearing the top!

the view from the top

what are those guys doing on the side of the building?

I was kind of fascinated with the cable system for the tram

You can see Robben Island in the distance. This is where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 of the 27 years he served behind bars.

tram coming up (or down)

spotted this as we were waiting for the tram to go back down: trash, recycling, and.... post box?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

African Penguins!!

This one is for my Mom!
(for those of you who don't know, my Mom LOVES penguins!)

This afternoon, we went for a visit with the African Penguins at Boulders Coastal Park, outside of Cape Town. According to this site, the African Penguins have found their home at Boulders beginning in 1982. They began breeding with just two pair of penguins, and now the colony has grown to about 3000!

Welcome to Boulders!

Do not attempt to shake hands with the penguins...

Penguins - that-a-way!

cute little fella

snuggly penguins

strike a pose

gotta do a selfie with the penguin!

you can see a lot of penguins sunning themselves on the lower part of the rock

A colony of penguins (I looked it up!)

closer look at the colony

you can see here how close they are to the water...

...and how close we are to them!

one last visit with the snuggle penguins

the pretty wooden path that we walked along

"...the easiest place in the world to make the acquaintance of penguins!"

Our hike up and around the Cape of Good Hope Scenic Trail

We went on an unplanned hike along the Cape of Good Hope Scenic Trail today. We were told that the Cape of Good Hope is the southernmost tip of Africa, but apparently, that may be a misconception (if you are to believe everything you read on Wikipedia).

We were on a coastal drive of Cape Town and the surrounding area all day. When we arrived at the Cape of Good Hope, we saw that a lot of people (and there were a LOT there) were hiking up to the top of a cool looking rocky hill. We thought we'd hike it, and told our guide. He seemed a little surprised that we wanted to hike up it, but we told him that we've been sitting on our tuckusses a lot over the last week, and that a little hike sounded good. He offered to meet us "at the top" with his car. I took that to mean that the trail only went a little past what we could see, and that we'd hike up there, and there he'd be.

Boy, was I wrong!

We reached what I originally thought was the top, saw that it continued on, so continued with our hike. We kept on going, as the crowds thinned out, and at some point we realized, "oh, this trail goes ALL the way OVER THERE to the lighthouse!"

Good thing we brought water and Krave Jerky!

It was a GREAT hike - so gorgeous, as we were surrounded by beautiful rock formations, and the Atlantic Ocean the whole time. The weather was in the low 60s, and it was sunny and clear. Pretty ideal, really. Plus, I felt like I was getting in some good exercise - a first on this trip, really. :)

I didn't have my GPS Walk tracker on, and didn't bring my Fitbit with me on this trip. We probably hiked for one hour, fifteen minutes or so, so I'm guessing 2.5 - 3 miles. It was just lovely, and again, so pretty. I'm sure it would have been a "Linda Imlay Approved Training Hike". ;) Glad it worked out.

here we are at the Dutch sign for "Cape of Good Hope"

The start of the Cape of Good Hope Scenic Trail

starting our climb - I love stairs!

Richard and Pete starting off - this gives you a sense of where we started

selfie with the Atlantic Ocean

Dick, the Conqueror

A tourist going off-trail, and getting mighty close to an Ostrich. Tourist: 0. Ostrich: 1.
(just kidding - nothing really happened...)

Richard, Pete & Dick at what we originally thought was the top

the views were all so pretty!

this gives you an idea of how far/high we hiked at this point. After this, it was on to the lighthouse/parking lot where our guide was waiting for us

Dick, adding his touch to a rock sculpture

this gives you a sense of how far away we still were from the end. The parking lot is at the top right corner of this photo

picturesque shot of the great wooden trail and the lighthouse

almost at the end - looking back at where we had been

One more photo from our visit to the village

What a special moment: I made some new friends at the local village that we went to visit Friday morning. They loved seeing the photos that I had just taken of them.

Thanks to Pete for taking and sharing the photo!!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Greetings from Cape Town!!

After a long day of travel (boat, car, plane, tram, tram, plane, car...) we arrived in Cape Town yesterday evening.

The cooler temps were welcomed change after the 100 degree+ weather that we had in Livingstone. :)

It was dark when we arrived last night, so we were unable to see the view from our balcony. When I woke up this morning, imagine my surprise when I opened the drapes in our room!!!

On a side note, here's something I posted in Facebook last night:
Greetings from Cape Town! Apparently, my reputation precedes me. We're staying at a lovely hotel filled with Master and Contemporary South African paintings. I was taking them all in when we first arrived, and one of my friends mentioned that I was an artist. Our host said, "Oh, yes. I know - I've read her blog!" Oh, dear...

Friday, September 27, 2013

PS: It's Hot!

"It's hot. Africa hot. Tarzan couldn't stand this kind of hot."
(From Biloxi Blues)

Yep, it's hot. Lucky for me, it's a dry heat (obviously) which isn't too bad. We're staying hydrated, wearing hats, and those cool chill things around our necks.

Nonetheless, make no mistake: it's hot. :)

Village Visit

This morning, we were treated to a visit to a local village along the Zambezi River, here in Zambia.

The village supplies the local produce for the lodge in which we are staying.

Our guide, Edith, gave us a tour of her amazing village where about 30 families live.

She showed us her bountiful garden, and explained her process to us. She also showed us different trees and plants from which they make medicines, cooking oils, dyes, etc.

Edith in her garden

here is a photo of a village woman carrying a pot on top of her head. Edith told us that they build their neck muscles early in life so that they can carry large, heavy objects on their heads.
Village Life

Edith explained to us that many of the people who live in the village also work at the lodge in which we're staying. She also told us that her parents lived in this same village and lived to ages 95 and 105. Amazing.

a few houses in the village

Edith showed us to the center of the village where they have the community areas.
They are in the process of building a primary school for the children here.

Edith, showing us the underground oven in the community area

a village woman working at the shop that carries many of the goods made by the villagers. Each piece is not necessarily made by only one person. Often several people make a single object

Edith, showing us how to crack open, and ground a nut from a local tree that is used to make cooking oil

Edith's house and surrounded structures - she built her house structure herself. It was beautiful

Edith, and a few of her grandchildren

we had fun hanging out with these children while we were waiting for our boat

Edith's grandchildren "pushing" our boat back into the river

Edith and her grandchildren waving goodbye to us