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Peps and Pete Travels "On pleasure bent again"

Memory Lane

SOUTH AFRICA | Sunday, 17 June 2007 | Views [768]

We flew back to South Africa from Zimbabwe, picked up our cute blue VW Citi Golf which we christened Charles and drove to Lydenburg. This is the town where I was born and I really wanted to go back and check it out, and show Pete where I was born. It is interesting 'cause when I lived there it was quite a one horse town, but it had become a local tourist destination for avid South African fly fishermen, and so the town has grown a lot.

Our next destination was Durban to stay with my Grandpa, but we stopped in the Drakensberg en route. The Drakensberg are a a 200km long mountain range and a world heritage site. We stayed in Tendele which is a camp area right at the base of the Amphitheater - a section of the range. It was amazing to wake up in the morning and watch the sun rise and the colours change against the canvas of the mountains. The drakensberg are an impressive looming mountain range and were a highlight of our time on South Africa.

We spent 5 days with Grandpa, so while we mostly did family stuff we did take a few excursions. We visited a bird sanctuary where they rehabilitate injured birds of prey. Those that can be released are, but those that cannot survive in the wild are kept and used for bird shows and other educational programs. It was an excellent show. We also drove into Durban to check out the waterfront, but as it was a wet and windy day we did not spend much time there.

The wildcoast is a stretch of unspoilt coast line located in what was the former transkei. We spent 2 nights at Coffee Bay which was great. It is a really small village where some of the roads are just dirt tracks, and a place of real unspoilt beauty. This should be a definate spot for those interested in unspoilt african coastline!

We stopped in Queenstown, where I went to school, and spent time visiting old friends. Then we took a slow trip down the garden route stopping in Jeffries Bay and Knysna.  The garden route is yet another gorgeous section of South Africa, and one to which we will return.

Once in Cape town we stayed just near the backpacker area of Long Street. Long street is really vibrant full of bustling restaurants, bars and cafes. It was a great place to stay in cape town. We drove around Cape Town and checked out Camps bay and hout bay as well as doing a drive to Stellenbosch to have lunch at a winery. We also took a trip out to Robben Island - the place wher Mandela was incarcerated for 18 of his 27 years as a political prisoner. We were taken around the prison by a former political prisioner and visited the Quarry where men were forced to work for 8 hours a day. It was a thought provoking experience and a fitting conclusion to our time in South Africa.

We had planned to go up table mountain, but the weather turned and striong winds forced the closure of the cable cars. It was dissapointing to miss out, but yet another reason to come back to this beautiful place.

Visiting South Africa as a former resident is a bittersweet experience. I am glad to see the progress and growth and to feel the positive vibe, sad to hear about the destructive nature of crime, sade to have left and even sadder to have to acknowledge that I could never go back. But the country is vibrant and moving forward, the people are positive about life and hopefully South Africa's star will continue to rise.

Tags: Family

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