Africa 2012: The Big 5 Animals and Camping at Chobe National Park, Botswana

Leaving straight in the safari truck from our river cruise, we made our way to Chobe National Park for a game drive and camping. Everyone who goes on a safari had the big five animals in their mind: Lions, Leopard, Buffaloes, Elephants and Black Rhino.

Elephants and Buffaloes were almost guaranteed sights and I had no interest in seeing a Rhino since we saw one yesterday, so our main “targets” were the lions and leopard. We were told lions can be seen maybe 3 days out of the week and leopards are super rare, sometimes not seen for weeks due to their reclusive nature. So, we were definitely not holding our breath since we’re only doing one day game drive.

But, as it turns out luck were on our side. We haven’t even reached the national park yet when we spotted our first Lion sighting. He was literally just hanging out on the side of the main street! Our driver quickly made our way closer, but so does about a dozen of other safari trucks. It got really annoying since some cars were being selfish and blocked the road, which made it harder for others to get closer. But the lion got up and changed place, and we were able to track him down to get a closer look.

It was about 36C out that day. Even the king of the jungle himself was heavily panting and cooling himself down under the shade…

This is a blurry shot, but the elephants were also looking for shade under the hot, unforgiving sun!

A few minutes later, we arrived at the entrance of the national park.

We drove a straight line and found a bunch of elephants crowded around a water source. It was extremely fascinating yet intimidating at the same time, since some of them did get pretty close to us!

These deer-like animals below are called macdonalds, due to the “M” shape on their butt that resembles the golden McDonalds arc. They are very common and can be seen pretty much everywhere throughout the park. They’re also fast food for the lions I guess…

Saw a huuuuuge herd of african buffaloes!

We drove around for an hour or so with nothing very exciting happening. From the pictures a game drive could seem overwhelming and full of sightings, but in reality you could drive for 30 mins with nothing to see. You are in the wilderness after all and we can’t predict the behavior of the animals.

But then, we got our second sight of a lion later that day, a lioness to be exact!

There weren’t many other safari trucks around, so we were able to spend quite some time admiring this beautiful cat.

Soon enough, the sun started to set and the park were bathed in a pinkish hue. We were doing another aimless drive for what seemed like hours, probably our last round of the day, when our driver stopped the car rather abruptly.

He spotted a LEOPARD!!! Later on we learned it was the first Leopard sighting in weeks.

We quickly made our way closer, close enough to see the details of her beautiful coat and the muscle definition on this animal every time she moved. So elegant, so quiet and calculated. I swear I could watch her for hours and hours…

We were EXTREMELY lucky to have spotted her while she was on the ground. Not even five minutes later, probably aware of our presence, she went off to a nearby tree and started climbing up. Another group arrived soon after and were only able to admire this leopard from afar.

On another note, I always thought if I happen to be stuck in the middle of nowhere in Africa, I would just climb a tree and stay there. Now I know that even climbing a tree won’t save me!

The sun was quickly setting, so we headed to our camp site to settle for the night. It was fine while the sun were still out… but come night time things got pretty scary. I realized we were literally in the middle of nowhere in Africa, with no towns nearby or electricity and everything was pitch dark. We had no light source save for the bonfire and some weak lantern in the common area. None of us brought flash light with us so we had to rely on our iphone’s light to get around.

Thank god we didn’t have to build our tents at least, and the accommodation inside were actually pretty nice. We had a (thin) mattress with sheets, pillow and blanket. Our toilet were pretty much natural though… so I try to use it as little as possible :x

We had dinner (prepared for us) around the bonfire and talked with other members of the tour. Throughout the night kept hearing noises and low growling from somewhere that seems not too far off from the camp site, which became increasingly concerning to me. But later on we were told by our guide that the sounds was actually the rumblings of the stomach of the elephants passing by. Our camp site were located between their water source and their night time dwelling, so we were warned that some of them might even pass through our area during the night!

After a satisfying dinner and conversation, we went off to bed since we had to get up early for a morning game drive.

Africa 2012: Crossing the border and River Cruise at Kasane, Botswana

After spending a night at Victoria Falls, we woke up bright and early at 6:30am to cross the border over to Botswana. We crossed at the Kazungula post, which is an interesting point as it’s the place where four countries (Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia) borders each other.

Our taxi driver, which is the same guy who drove us from the airport, dropped us off at the gate and told us that from this point on we had to go by foot and will be met by our tour guide once we reach Botswana side. Yes, we literally walked to cross the border!

Before crossing over to Botswana, we were told to walk on this liquid sanitizer on the ground which supposedly kills any bacteria / diseases that might have hitched a ride on the sole of our shoes. All cars passing by also had to go through this liquid. Only in Africa…

This is where things gets scary for me. As an Indonesian citizen, I needed a visa to enter Botswana. I’m a pretty seasoned traveller so of course I made previous arrangements to this taken care of, which was already quite an ordeal since there was no Botswana embassy in Singapore (but thankfully we found other ways). Except at the immigration border, I was told that it wasn’t actually a visa. I got a permission to get a visa, which means I still needed to actually get my visa at another port of entry.

After a few minutes of deliberation, we decided it would be best for me to separate from the group and get my visa, since we don’t want everyone to miss the river cruise. Our tour guide called up another guy, who drove me to the port of entry (I think it’s the one that borders Botswana and Namibia) and stayed with me while I process the visa. Not gonna lie, I was pretty scared of being essentially alone in a country I had never even heard of until we started planning this trip!

But the guy I was with was really nice, we ended up making conversations and he taught me some words in his language while the lady at the visa counter took her sweet, sweet time processing my visa. In the end, I was held back by over an hour before I finally got my visa and was driven back to the tour office to catch a small boat to the river cruise!

I’m sure S, K and J were relieved to see me again… just look at their faces! :P

I soon caught up with all the picture taking and animal watching.

We saw a ton of hippos cooling themselves down in the river. It was really hot that day. Did you know that hippos are one of the animals you should be scared of? we were told that if a hippo decides it would chase you down, you would have very little chance to live since it runs quite fast and weighs a ton. So it’s like being hit by a car I guess?

This is the Zambia / Namibia side! I don’t remember which one, but I think we saw all four of the countries.

Elephants are so cute! We spotted this family cooling themselves down and splashing water on each other.

After the river cruise, we went back to the tour office to have lunch. Then we were off to Chobe National Park for a day of game drive.

Africa 2012: Night Game Drive and Starry Night Dinner at Vic Falls, Zimbabwe

After a full day exploring Cape Town, we woke up bright and early for our flight to Zimbabwe. We flew to VFA using British Airways with a few hours transit in Johannesburg.

We found it amusing that on the flight going out of South Africa, they bug(?)-sprayed the entire plane before taking off to Zimbabwe. I’m guessing it’s to prevent airborne disease transmission, but it left the plane smelling like toilet cleaner and not really a smell I wanted to travel with.

Day 6 – November 8, 2012

About an hour after leaving Johanneburg, we arrived at Zimbabwe. This dry terrain is all you see out the window, a vast difference from the lush South Africa. It’s crazy how worlds apart they looked, even though they’re really only a few hours flight away.

The VFA airport was pretty chaotic. There were only three immigration booth, and the line was long as everything was done manually including getting visa on arrival, which was literally just a sticker with handwritten notes on them. We spent over an hour before we were able to get out. Then we got a taxi from outside the airport which costed us a hefty US$8 per person.

A few years ago, I had heard about the crazy hyperinflation that hit Zimbabwe in 2006/2007 and peaked in 2008. As a result of this, the zimbabwean dollar became pretty much non-existent and is worth nothing more than a monopoly money. We used our US Dollar, Rand and Botswana Pula for monetary transaction. They don’t really take credit cards without charging fees, so we dealt in cash.

Here’s a picture of Serena handling thousands of US dollar in cash to pay for all of our activities in Zimbabwe…

Everything in Zimbabwe was remarkably more expensive. This is our dodgy adventure lodge at Vic Falls and was the cheapest accommodation we could find. Even then it wasn’t very cheap at US$80 per room especially for the kind of place we got, with leaky bathroom that wet the floor after each sh0wer. At least it felt clean…?

After dropping off our stuff, we were picked up promptly for our night game drive in a legit Safari truck!

We took a drive around the small village. Everything in Vic Falls seems to be bathed in golden rays…

Then we reached the entrance of the national park, which has Zebras and Warthog grazing outside in the entrance. Not sure what they’re grazing at cause there seems to be nothing on the ground!

We drove around for a few hours and saw a few Giraffes. They really do walk ever so gracefully.

And of course, some african elephants…

Also spent some time watching some rhinos feeding. They got really scary and aggressive at some point because (I assume) we got too close to them. The baby was so cute though!

Other than that we also saw monkeys, kudu, antelopes and Impala crossing our roads. Pretty mild yet fascinating stuff for our first game drive.

We watched the sunset and broke out some local Zambezi beer before heading off to our starry night dinner. Since there is (obviously) no electricity at the park, it got really really pitch dark pretty quick. We had to use a torch to be able to see the road clearly.

Then, finally something exciting!

A herd of elephant was caught crossing our path. The herd probably consisted of about 8 elephants. They let the kids pass by first as one of the adult watched us warily.

We waited for the elephants to cross the road before continuing to our dinner point.

Save for the few candles we had on the table, the place was really dark. Since it was a clear night, we were able to see so many beautiful stars in the sky. Too bad my camera can’t capture the view!

Dinner was cooked by our chef on the spot. It was delicious! The meal consisted of a rice dish, chicken curry and some sort of beef and vegetables. I had seconds of course :)

After dinner we headed back to the lodge. Our next day consist of crossing over the border to Botswana!

PADI Scuba Diving Certification Trip to Tioman

Two weeks after the quick KL trip in June, I went back to Malaysia again. This time I went for my PADI Open Water Certification with my friends AP and Melvin. We managed to get a really sweet deal with Simply Scuba for only S$365 at the diving expo earlier that year! Their SSI Certification is even cheaper, but since our other friends all have PADI we decided to make things less complicated and got the same thing.

Getting to Tioman was quite the journey. Friday night after work, we took a 6-hour night bus to Mersing. We arrived at Mersing around 1-2AM and resumed our journey with another 3-hour night ride on the jetty. I was fully asleep throughout the jetty ride (I’m talented at catching some Z’s no matter the situation), but AP and M went up to the dock to see night stars and was treated a view of starry skies!

We arrived around 5am and was assigned to our respective room, and went for a quick nap before going off to our first lessons at 8am.

Our room was complete shit. I guess accommodations for diving trip is not always the best, and we didn’t pay that much at all for this trip anyway, so it was alright. I consider myself not very high maintenance but I definitely was having problems with the bathroom being a bit sketch and missing tiles here and there… let’s just say I was pretty ecstatic to be back in Singapore after that.

HOWEVER! We did have an awesome beach access from our room! This was the sunset view right outside our door….

AP and I went for the Open Water certification while M went off on his own to do his advanced certification. We did a total of five dives in two days and now we are a happy, certified divers :D

I found diving to be relaxing and natural. I didn’t have any problems being under water and have to thank my dad for putting me in the water since I was a 6 months old baby. I guess all those swimming lessons I did when I was younger is good for something!

In one of the dives, which involved descending down via a rope, I was the first one in the water going down. This was an example of when visibility was low and we couldn’t see anything beyond five feet in front of us. Our instructor had to help one of the group members who was having trouble so we were left slowly descending down by ourselves.

It was really creepy being the first one down. At some point, I looked back to AP, who was right behind me and wanted to tell her that I really can’t descend more because I was scared, but then managed to tell myself to keep going. There is just something eerie being in an open space yet not being able to see anything around. It was one of our deepest dives at 18 meters down.

There was also another dive where the current was incredibly strong, that we didn’t have to fin our feet to get around. Just stay still and the current will take you away. Of course, this had to be done cautiously and under supervision of an experienced diver, or else you might end up getting lost. There was actually a group of 7 divers who were lost in the sea for over 24 hours that same weekend. They were really lucky to be spotted by some Indonesian fisherman the next day.

On the way back, I tried the infamous Ramly Burger at the Mersing terminal. I wanted to see what the buzz was all about, and while yes, it was delicious, I will never touch Ramly burger again. Why? Because I got a REALLY bad diarrhea that night after getting back to Singapore. I’m just thankful it started after I’m safely in my apartment and not while I was still in Tioman, or worse… on the bus ride to Singapore -_-. I referred to this incident as “getting ramly-ed”.

A Quick Weekend Trip to Kuala Lumpur

Let’s take a quick break from Africa, shall we?

Back in June, I took an impromptu trip up to Kuala Lumpur to see my good friend Harry. He moved to KL last year from Singapore and got an awesome two bedroom condo there ALLLLL to himself, so there’s really no reason for me to not visit!

I booked things very last minute, like literally the day before, so I had to get to KL by bus. I booked with Luxury Tours & Travel coach after looking at all the options, since they pick up conveniently close to my place at Concorde Hotel on Orchard Rd. The journey itself took approximately 5 hours with minimal traffic. It was annoying going through immigration twice (once for Singapore side then once more for Malaysia side), but the rest of the ride and the bus itself was very comfortable. I chose to fly on the way back though, since I heard traffic getting into Singapore is hellish.

Once I got to KL, I took a taxi to H’s place. Traveling in Malaysia by myself is not a problem since I kind of understand Malay, it’s about 90% similar to Indonesian. KL itself reminds me a lot of Jakarta – a big, chaotic metropolitan city with not much else to do but eat and enjoy the night life.

H’s place is really really nice! We took a quick dip in the awesome pool. I’m still a bit miffed that he pays the same rent as I do in Singapore, and he gets a whole two bedroom condo to himself in the middle of KL and I only get a small bedroom!

Then he took me to one of his favorite lunch place at a nearby mall, Madam Kwan’s

I LOVE char kway teow!

Right outside the mall is the famous Petronas Twin Tower, which lights up brilliantly at night. Unfortunately I was only there during the day.

At night H took me out with his friends for a quick peek at night life in KL, which like Singapore is dominated by a bunch of expats. We went to this new place called “The Pool”, and partied till 3AM. I was absolutely knackered the next day so we just had a quick brunch with his friends (I forgot where, was still nursing my hangover) and couch potato-ed at his condo for the rest of the day watching some TV shows.

We had a quick dinner with his friends again at a nearby Indian-Malay place. That Chicken Tikka Masala was the bomb.

I left soon after dinner to catch the bus to KLIA airport for my flight back to Singapore, and that concludes my super quick trip to KL!

Africa 2012: Boulders Beach and Cape of Good Hope

We continued our drive down the southern coast of Cape Town after our random wine tasting at Cape Point Vineyard

Day 5 – November 7, 2012

Our first stop is Boulders Beach, known for its colony of wild African Penguins. We paid our R45 entrance fee and were happily on our way for some penguin sightseeing!

Except we went to the wrong beach. The penguins are at a part of Boulders Beach called Foxy Beach, which is fortunately just a short walk away from the beach we accidentally went to. So we took the boardwalk down, and it wasn’t long before we started seeing penguins around us!

Met this cheeky little guy, picture courtesy of Serena.

When we got to the entrance of Foxy Beach, we simply showed the ticket we bought at the other beach and they allowed us to go in. We walked a little bit to the beach, all the while seeing penguins left and right!

Apparently this colony was started by just a pair of penguins in 1982, and have since multiplied in size

Can you spot the pair of penguins walking side by side? I’m extremely proud of this shot :)

The wind was still super strong which results in medusa-like appearance by my hair, and sand in our eyes.

After Boulders Beach, we continued on to Cape Peninsula, which includes Cape of Good Hope, the most south-west point of continent of Africa. Not as cool as being at the south-most point of Africa but this one is definitely more scenic! We paid R90 of entrance fee since it’s part of a national park.

Spotted a family of baboons inside the park! How cute are the babies??

Also spotted some Zebras, which was actually hard to spot when in the wild. But we knew something interesting is around when there are a bunch of cars parked on the side of the road..

Tons of Ostriches as well!

We arrived at Cape of Good Hope, the most wouth-west point of Africa continent. We tried to take some pictures with the sign but failed miserably as the wind was just too strong! I did manage to snap a cute pic of K and J though :D

Then we took the cable car ride up the hill to Cape Point  for R49 since we weren’t about to hike up. Once you get up there, the view was absolutely gorgeous!

Spotted Singapore and apparently I was 9,667km away from home.

Kudos to Serena again for capturing a decent picture of me amidst all the wind. My face wasn’t even visible in the other pics thanks to my hair…

We drove back to Cape Town, which took nearly two hours, and had a traditional South African dinner at a restaurant called Karibu in Waterfront.

I had one of their Braai menu (Afrikaan word for “grill”), with a side of Chakalaka, a South African side dish that reminded me of mexican baked beans. I think this was called “Devil’s Peak”, which had Boerewors, Lamb Chip and fillet Sosatie.

The food was good but I guess it was nothing too memorable since I can’t recall what I had without looking up the menu online! It’s definitely a tourist place to go when you want to try some exotic meats. They had ostrich, venison and springbok on the menu.

We went home for a good night rest before our early morning flight to Vic Falls in Zimbabwe!

Africa 2012: Chapman’s Peak and Wine Tasting at Cape Point Vineyard

Karen and Jason, Serena’s friends from San Francisco were due to arrive in Cape Town that morning. Serena and I picked them up from the airport and from there, we went straight to Camps Bay for some Cape Town sightseeing — without even dropping their luggage off first! We hit a ton of spots that day and I’ve got to give it to them both, they didn’t complain or seem tired at all from their long flight from London…

Day 5 – November 7, 2012

It was such a gorgeous day, the sky was as blue as it can be and the sun was out in full force… except, so was the wind. It was possibly THE windiest day I’ve ever experienced, ever!

Serena drove us up to Camps Bay for a quick brunch, as well as to show K and J her favorite place in Cape Town. Here is an illustration of how windy it was: Karen put down her bag on the ground while taking pictures, and her hand bag was blown off a few feet away into the sand by the wind!

On our agenda that day was Chapman’s Peak, Boulders Beach for some Wild African penguins and Cape of Good Hope.

First stop is Chapman’s Peak, arguably the most beautiful point in Cape Town.

We parked our car, ran up the small hill for some quick pictures and gasped at the beautiful scenery in front of us. Chapman’s Peak is definitely a must-visit spot on a good day! The sea looks rough, peppered with little white waves due to the super strong wind.

I am amazed Serena managed to take a decent picture where my hair doesn’t look like it has a life of its own!

There’s me desperately trying to keep my hair down, while everyone else look so effortlessly… normal -_-. And if you were wondering why I’m not scared my dress will get blown away by the wind, it’s because Karen lent me a pair of shorts. Thanks :D :D

We continued our scenic drive on the freeway by the ocean, which included crazy half tunnels like this!

Our next stop was Boulders Beach, which was quite a bit of a drive away from Cape Town. But since we had some time to kill, we allowed ourselves to get a little side-tracked and made a left to Cape Point Vineyard ;)

This is a typical sight in South Africa – Grape Vines as far as the eyes can see!

Wine tasting in South Africa is crazy cheap, especially compared to Singapore where alcohol cost an arm, legs and your firstborn.. So for only ZAR60 (S$8.64), of course I chose the flagship tasting menu!

The wind kept blowing off our wine glasses, so we had to hold them down by the base!

After the wine tasting, we were off to our next destination: Boulders Beach and Cape of Good Hope!

Africa 2012: Waterfront and Signal Hill, Cape Town

Tired, completely drained after our Great White Shark cage diving, and not to mention still covered in dried salt water and chum mixture, Serena and I closed the loop of our road trip with a 2-hour drive back to Cape Town.

We got back to her apartment, took a much needed showe, and for headed back to Waterfront for dinner since I didn’t get to spend much time there when I first landed in Cape Town.

We made reservation at Sevruga, one of the trendy waterfront restaurant at the pier. I just have to show you this picture of their menu! This seems to be a common practice in South Africa where they serve their regular menu and have a little “asian” side menu consisting of dim sum and sushi. And they called dim sum “asian tapas”… which, if you think about it, actually made sense!

The food was awesome and the restaurant had a great ambiance to it. Too bad that means they have dim lighting and my food pictures came out shitty, but hey.. I tried!

I had their Truffle fillet, served with mushroom cannelloni, truffle salad and gaufrette potatoes (R200). The meat was very tender and delicious but I was disappointed to not detect any truffle aroma at all, which is the reason why I chose this dish to begin with. Such a let down for a dish that bothered to mention truffle twice in its description. The rest of the dish was amazing though.

This is how South African pays for their parking. With an automated machine!

After dinner we were going to go straight home but as we were exiting Waterfront, Serena changed her mind and told me she’s going to take me “somewhere”. We went to the same road we took to go to Camps Bay but she made a right at the peak to a very dark road, and at the top of the road (which I later learned is called Signal Hill), we were greeted by this absolutely amazing, glittering view of Cape Town.

I took these pictures with my iPhone so they aren’t the best, but I was completely flabbergasted at the scenery. I guess it’s just one of those things you had to witness yourself!

Africa 2012: Great White Shark Cage Diving at Gansbaai

Someone, I forgot who, once told me South Africa has one of the biggest population of Great White Sharks. So being the marine life lover of course I made it a point to see them in their habitat while I was there! I booked a cage diving tour with Great White Shark Tour and begged Serena to come with me. Originally she wasn’t going to do it because she’s not very fond of water activities, but after much convincing and promises of an epic trip she finally caved.

Day 4 – November 6, 2012

We woke up early and drove one street down to the GWS office. We had a quick breakfast there, paid our tours and waited around for other people to arrive. The sea was nice and calm that day, which undoubtedly makes for an excellent boat trip. Lucky us! :)

Brian, the owner of the tour, briefed us on what to do and what to expect out there. He remarked that we were a lucky bunch because the weather wasn’t so great last week, but now it’s beautiful and sunny! They handed us each these over sized neon orange wind breaker to protect us from the cold sea weather. At first we laughed at how ridiculous we looked in it, but later on I was really grateful to have them because the wind was icy cold and we were still damp from being under water…

Soon after the briefing, we were led down to the bay and onto our boat. I’m so glad I booked with this tour. Their boat looked so much more sturdy than the other boats we saw there and I definitely don’t want to mess around when it comes to dealing with great white sharks!

We came across two Southern Whales on the way to the Shark Alley! It was a mother whale and her albino(?) calf. They quite far away, and we were informed that we can’t come too close. The coast guards are watching to make sure no one disturbs the whales.

We took the boat for about 20 minutes before we slowed down and finally anchored. Brian explained that they’re going to start chumming the water to lure the sharks to our boat. Then, the first batch of people can come down to the cage for underwater viewing. The cage accommodates only about 8 people at a time and there were maybe 30 of us on the boat. I didn’t go as the first batch because I wanted to wait so I can observe where I want to be to get the best view.

It didn’t take too long for the sharks to come around. Not even five minutes later, our boat was surrounded by 3-4 great whites and everyone, including me, was VERY excited. And then the first jump came…

We witnessed many heart-pumping jumps as Brian baited the sharks with a large-sized fish head and a decoy foam bait. I knew great whites are capable of jumping out of the water while hunting, but I had no idea they could jump that high out.

It’s crazy how fast they swim when they’re ready to attack. You can’t really see them underwater since the visibility wasn’t so great, so they literally looked like they charged out of nowhere. Truly a magnificent predator.

Despite being called “cage diving”, you don’t actually “dive” under water the whole time with a tank or anything. You just float around in the cage with a mask on and then duck your head underwater when people frantically shout “down down DOWN!” (meaning a big shark is coming towards the cage). The crew were really good at spotting the sharks and telling you when to duck down.

Serena and I went as the third batch. We had difficulty putting on our wetsuits because it was skin tight and really thick, but we got some help from the crew. I observed that the best spot is to the left of the cage since Brian was sitting behind it and kept pulling the bait towards that area, so you are almost guaranteed a front seat view of the shark charging right at you. After putting on the suit and our little water booties, I quickly went for the left of the cage.

Being underwater and in the cage was possibly the most uncomfortable feeling. The water was piercing icy cold and extra fishy due to the all the chum, but in the end it was well worth it when I managed to be RIGHT in front of the shark when it charged at us and even bit at the cage relentlessly before letting go. The adrenaline rush was incomparable to anything I had ever experienced, and those sharks really do have crazy sharp teeth. I saw it myself from less than 30cm away. Simply amazing!

After about 20 minutes in the cage, we pulled out. Personally for me it was more than enough since I couldn’t have lasted a second longer in the ice cold water. You have the option to go back in the cage later if you want, and many did, but I really could not bring myself to get into the water again.

You actually get to see the shark more clearly from on top of the boat, so I climbed up to the top deck and spent the remaining time there, enjoying the aerial view of all the sharks. It’s an eerie feeling seeing so many great whites lurking around your boat at the same time!

After about 2-3 hours of shark watching, we left the shark alley. Brian then took us around to see the seals but on the way there, we got a little something more than we bargained for.

The mother Southern whale and her calf were seen again, this time much closer to our boat so we turned off the engines and observed from afar. The calf kept poking his head out of the water, as if looking at our boat curiously, and getting closer and closer.

Suddenly, before we know it, everyone was screaming in excitement. The calf decided to check us out and swam towards us, and then glided right next to our boat!

It only lasted a few seconds, but we got a good glimpse of the baby whale. The mother never got as close to our boat, but we were able to see her just fine as she was herding her calf off.

Then we went to the seal island, with many of them swimming around, in and out of the water like this guy right here.

After that we sailed back to the office, watched our shark videos and back on the road again to Cape Town. Our road trip had come to an end :(

Africa 2012: Cape Agulhas, the Southern-most point of the continent of Africa

Day 3 – November 5, 2012

I was still heavily jetlagging so I was up really early at 630am. While waiting for Serena to wake up, I couldn’t resist throwing on a bath robe and laid down at the patio. The weather was absolutely perfect outside!

Earthbound, being a Bed & Breakfast, obviously served us breakfast that morning. They had us fill out a little form the day before of what we would like to have for breakfast, which was then brought to us in a cute little picnic basket! They even have a little milk bottle for our cereals which I think is suuuuper adorable.

After breakfast we packed up our things, checked out and drove south using Route 328. Our next destination is Cape Agulhas, which is the most southern point of the African continent. Since Mossel Bay is also on the way, we decided to stop by and have a look around too.

But first, Route 328.

While Route 62 and 60 was beautifully scenic and different, Route 328 presented something that felt very familiar to me. Of course, it’s just like the drives around SoCal! I know I sound like a broken record by now when I keep saying how similar everything looked to California, but it really is.

This reminds me of the drive up to Big Bear

We also saw a TON of Ostriches by the side of the road! Here is one of them:

After a few hours of driving, we finally arrived at the southern coast of Africa and made a right to Mossel Bay which had us drive next to the ocean for awhile. Now tell me this doesn’t look like the drive up Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu!

There wasn’t much to do at Mossel Bay, so we just took a few pictures and went on our way to Cape Agulhas via Highway N2. We stopped by a small town called Swellendam for lunch and fill up on gas.

I ordered steak frites while Serena got oxtail soup. One thing to note is that Malay/Indonesian cuisine is quite prevalent in South Africa. I wouldn’t have expected that! We kept seeing curry, sambal and oxtail soup on the menu.

A short 30-min drive later, we finally arrived at Cape Agulhas, where the Indian and Atlantic ocean meets!

The area around Cape Agulhas is still largely under construction but they were nice enough to build this monument for people to take pictures of.

We then continued on to our next destination. Google map told us to go back to Route 317, and we always trust google map, even when the road was pure dirt road like this:

Little did we know that this dirt road would continue on for a long way, about 46km. We kept wondering if we were going in the right direction and was starting to feel nervous since there were NO other cars around, until we finally hit Route 43, which is a normal highway. From then on it was a smooth, nicely paved drive to Gansbaai!

Gansbaai is a very small town by the beach consisting of just two small main roads. Our hostel was really nice, but aside of a few houses, a gas station and a restaurant, there wasn’t much else to see.

We were still excited though, since the next morning we went out to the ocean for some Great White Shark cage diving.