Sunday, May 9, 2010

Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia

OK, after the failed Namibia post, I decided to make a post of a much easier trip, our trip to Victoria Falls and Etosha National Park. The reason it is such an easy post is because there are not many pictures to include. Why? Well, it begins with the trip to Victoria Falls, where "spray" does not begin to explain the amount of water that pummels you from the falls. Luckily, my camera made it through the bath with no damage, however my travel companions cameras did not turn out as well. The viewfinders were gone, so the rest of the trip consisted of literally "pointing and shooting" without any idea of what was in the lens. Luckily, we had mine. So I take a bunch of photos, until my camera gets stolen in Botswana. After a chase involving metered cabs and minibus taxis, I gave up and declared it gone.
Besides the camera mishap, it was an incredible trip-- I got to see four of the big five animals, a wonder of the world, and eat truly local Zambian food with my hands.
We started by flying into Victoria Falls airport in Zimbabwe, spent a few days there before crossing into Zambia, and then from there crossing into Botswana, before crossing back to Zimbabwe to fly home.

So, we have pieced together enough photos from the group to represent our trip. As a side note, chronologically they ARE in order, but for some reason the blog posts them down to up, so they are in reverse chronological order... oops.

Sorry for the chronology issues... I PROMISE I will do the next one correctly.

Picture 1&2: LIONS! we saw four female, and one young male lion while on safari in Botswana. The second is a picture of the lions leaving their perch on top of the mound to chase a warthog that was walking in front of them. The second is their return to the hill after FAILING to catch the warthog. Did you know warthogs are faster than lions?

Picture 3: My final big 5 animal, LEOPARD! Our safari guide actually had to drive off road (not allowed) to take us to this tree where the leopard was hanging out it. A pretty rare spotting in the park we were in, we were all ecstatic.

Picture 4: Giraffes just chilling, walking along with our safari bus.

Pictures 5&6&7: Taken from our river safari. The first is the sunset, the second a family of elephants that had come to the river to drink. The third was an elephant that was pulling grasses from in the river. He would literally submerge himself underwater to dig with his tusks, and stand up with his tusks covered in mud and grasses. I just realized I didn't include any of the hippo pictures, but there were a bunch of those too!

Pictures 8&9: At the border of Zambia and Botswana. There were a bunch of small boats like the one in the first picture that were taking goods up and down the river. The second is what we crossed the river in. We all had to board these barges to take people and cars and trucks across the river to Botswana. They were powered by these huge tractor engines which had to have a guy hand pumping the fuel! Not surprisingly, while we were trying to cross there were some technical difficulties with our barge, and it took about an hour and a half to get across the river.

Picture 10: An image of the Zambian border. It was a pretty casual border crossing...

Pictures 11&12&13: Victoria Falls!

Picture 14&15: Elephants and warthogs that were just hanging out in the bushes along the road to Victoria Falls.

Picture 16: The view from Victoria Falls hotel. There is constantly a view of the spray from the falls, as well as an almost constant rainbow (I can't remember if there is a rainbow in this one...) We certainly didn't stay here, we chose the nicer accommodations of a backpackers... but we did go for high tea one day.

Picture 17: The street outside our backpackers. Not only were there gorgeous flowers and trees along the way, but elephants! Since we were on the outskirts of town, the elephants crossed by our backpackers both nights we were there on their way to the game reserve just outside of town. We got a VERY close look at the elephants!

Finally, Picture 18: The last, but first, picture, of our welcome to Zimbabwe thanks to the Victoria Falls Airport.

Namibia 1

So, I have failed on keeping up my blog... but I am going to do my best to post more in the next few weeks because we have an updated internet system! so I can now upload more than one picture every 3 hours or so.
I decided to start with some pictures from our Spring Break trip to Namibia.
We had 10 days in Namibia. We started by taking a bus to Namibia (20 hrs!!) where we met a tour which took us to the sand dunes in Soussesvlei, where we spent three days. Most of it was just enjoying the scenery but we also climbed a lot of sand dunes, visited a petrified forest, and saw some of the most gorgeous sunrises and sunsets I have seen, mostly from on top of dunes. After that, we drove ourselves to Etosha National Park where we safaried (verb?) for three days. Finally, we went to the seaside town of Swakupmond, where we 4x4ed on the dunes, went to the beach, and relaxed after our busy vacation. We hopped a flight back home, and were back in Cape Town about 18 hours earlier than the bus.

Namibia was the land of 2000 pictures and it is a little overwhelming to try and post them all at once. Hence, I have labeled this post Namibia 1. It is mostly pictures of our group, and a few of scenery. The next posts will be scenery and animals!
So, a quick summary of the photos, hopefully in the order in which they appear!

The first three are from the drive to Soussesvlei. The first shows Springbok, the national animal of South Africa, which are a dime a dozen in Namibia as well. The next is a huge bird nest (for those of you who know about my fear of birds, I have almost gotten over it since being in Cape Town!) where up to 100 or 200 birds can live. Net is a zebra skull we saw on the side of the road, that had been cleaned off by vultures. Although a little gross, it was a pretty cool find. The pictures are out of order, but the next is a gas station we stopped at on the bus ride from Cape Town to Namibia, followed by a picture of Farley, Stacey and I in Etosha National Park at the watering hole near our campsite. The next picture is back to Sossesvlei, where along the drive we happened to drive over the Tropic of Capricorn and decided to take a picture. The next is back in time again, waiting to board the bus in Cape Town. Then, it jumps to Etosa for a few pictures. First is the group on safari, the second is the flat tire we got on the Mercedes they gave us to drive through the game park, and finally, a picture of the first elephant we saw (we were very very excited after seeing a million giraffe and zebra). Finally, the last is along the drive to Soussesvlei again, when Milner (our tour guide) let me drive the huge safari truck.

OK, sorry for the disorder and confusion, I promise the next posts regarding Namibia will be much more coherent. I will make sure to scroll through my pictures in a chronological fashion!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

This will be a quick post but I wanted to put up a few pictures from my homestay weekend in Ocean View. The first is my homestay sister and I with the local market's camel. The next is my room (it was a really nice home), and finally my homestay parents. I had a great time staying with them and getting to know more about their community. Ocean View is a product of Apartheid- my family was forced from their home in nearby Simon's Town and relocated to Ocean View when Simon's Town was designated a white area. I am really grateful for having the opportunity to hear a first hand account of apartheid- it's something I didn't really have a tangible understanding of until this past weekend.

OK, well I have a plant test I should be studying for so I'm going to hit the books now.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


So this is a little late again, big suprise, but it has been a hectic (I'm trying to use some South African lingo and hectic is very popular here) week of school work. TGIF still applies in Africa!

The bottom few pictures are from around Cape Town- the sunset was taken at Rhodes Memorial, a cool monument right near our house, just above UCT campus. The colorful houses are from the BoKaap region right near the city center. We spent some time just walking around and exploring. The one with all the trees and the mountain in the background was from a concert we went to at Kirstenbosch Gardens, a huge garden near our campus. Otherwise, the pictures are from last weekend!

Last weekend I travelled up the Western Coast as far north as Lamperts bay. We had an incredible trip. Words can't describe how fun it was. We drove up early Saturday morning with 6 of us in a little compact car, surfed Sat afternoon, stayed at a backpackers in Elands Bay Saturday night, and then explored and surfed Sunday morning before returning home. The Western Coast was so cool partially because there was nothing there at all. My friend Perri and I walked down the beach a little ways away from the surfers, and realized the entire beach was uninhabited. There was nobody around, and nothing but beautiful, untouched coastline. How much of the African continent's seaboard is like this?
The pictures are mostly from Eland's Bay. The one with the cacti (?) is the view from our hostel, the one with the cave is a spiritual site for rites of passage rituals, the walls were covered with handprints from teenage boys passing into adulthood.
Anyways, here are some pictures of that, it was a great trip and I couldn't have been happier.
This weekend we are staying in one of the townships around Cape Town in a homestay. We leave this afternoon and get back Sunday afternoon. I can't really say anything about it as I'm not sure what to expect but I am guessing it will end up here eventually!

Sorry for the bad formatting again!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Just a few more pictures of the trip. It takes so long to upload pictures here, our internet is slow, so it's just a few highlights since I last posted.
The first is a mural in the city made up of handprints.
I'm not sure what order the pictures are in but...
-One is of my friends Farley and Perri and I going to the J&B Horse race last weekend. We were VERY underdressed. People showed up in bright colored dresses and feathers and suits and heels, a very posh affair.
- The penguins are at Boulders Beach, a stop on our penninsula tour. There is also a picture of the Cape of Good Hope.
- One picture is from our hike up Devil's Peak (attached to Table mtn but a little off to the side)

In other news, classes started on Friday. It was a big wake up call since thus far we have basically been on vacation in Cape Town. I have been keeping busy by going to markets, walking around the city, surfing, hanging out with my housemates, and trying to become a little more South African.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Hello all
I finally had the motivation I needed to start writing this thing, I WAS ALMOST ATTACKED BY A BIRD ON THE TRAIN YESTERDAY!!! It was life changing so I have decided to start this blog. I've been in Cape Town for over a week now and am absolutely in love.

This post will not be pretty, but I wanted to post some pictures and update you guys a little bit-- please keep in mind I am a science major not an english major.

The first picture is the dorm that I stayed in for orientation. It is called Grasa Michelle after Nelson Mandela's wife. We stayed here for the first 4 days of orientation before moving into my house. I dont have a picture of the house yet, but it is great. There are two houses on one property, the other house has 11 people and mine holds 9. I have a great single room on the second floor looking out onto table mountain.

The second picture was from the waterfront, a really touristy upscale area with old buildings and great views. This is also the departure location for the ferry to Robben Island, the prison where Mandela was held. Also by the waterfront is World Cup central. They just expanded their stadium, and we got to attend the opening game of the stadium, which was a match between two South African club teams (see picture).
Another picture, I think they are out of order now, is of a building in one of the townships about 10 min outside the nicer neighborhoods of Cape Town. This picture is of a community center type building with some HIV/AIDS awareness grafitti. We visited two volunteer sites located in townships. One was in Kayleecha, which is the largest township, which 'houses' about 1,000,000 people. Visiting the townships undoubtedly makes an impact on everyone because the "houses" are just pieces of metal thrown together, with no running water or electricity, and people and animals just wandering around. At the same time, many of the students I have talked to have come from the townships, and although they admit they were lucky to make it out of the townships, they loved them. So, it is an interesting contrast between the great communal aspect of the townships and the lack of opportunity within them. There is apparently a great township braii (barbeque stand byob that cooks you huge bowls of meat, and is apparently a 6 hour ordeal-- I'm going on sunday) that has now been added to my list of destinations (Grandma aparently Jamie Oliver visited this braii on food tv).

So many elements of the city are odd juxtapositions. This divide between extreme poverty in the townships and extreme wealth at the waterfront. There is no real middle class. As you drive past downtown, the skyscrapers are backdropped with a mountain, and you ask yourself what is out of place, the mountain or the skyscrapers. UCT as a great university, but then still does registration by waiting in ques to get courses approved and then standing in another line for 'data capturing' where they enter your classes into the computer. It is an example of the classification of the country as both first world and third world.
A couple of favorite words thus far...
- Robot for street light
- Hump zebra(cey-brah)for speed bumps (deriving from the fact crosswalks are called zebracrosses)
The most commonly used words, possibly used more than the word like in the US...
-Keen- everyone asks, "Are you keen to hang out tonight?" or keen to go do dinner, or keen to leave, or keen seems the possibilities are endless.
-Dodgy- Usually for dive bars.
-Howsit?- instead of whats up
-Is it?- "no way"
Orientation has been keeping us pretty busy, but I have gone surfing multiple times, and have been exploring little towns around Cape Town. I went to a concert for a band named Goldfish who were really good, and the convert was at a venue at Camp's Bay at sunset which is beautiful (photo included). Today I hiked around Table Mountain, and then explored City Bowl. Yesterday I surfed. The day before we went on a peninsula tour, where they took us to see the penguins, and we hiked out to the Cape of Good Hope (the farthest point South West of Africa- they used to think it was the furthest point South), and a couple of other stops including a township where a group of kids danced and which was incredible.

Ok well that was really long, but still feels really incomplete. I love it here. The people are so friendly and interesting, everywhere you turn seems like it should be on a post card, there is an infinite amount of stuff to do and things to explore.

I am going to try and keep up better with this, I just got behind in the beginning. Pictures from the peninsula tour and hiking and my house to come soon!

As they say here, Cheers.