Tropical Penguins

Monday, January 30, 2012  at 6:58 AM
backpack cape town south africa by danalynn c

I was thrilled to discover there there are several colonies of tropical penguins close to Cape Town, so naturally Chris and I had to take a day trip out to see them.  We went to the most famous place, Boulder Beach (just past Simon's Bay, about an hour's ride from Cape Town) and spent the morning ogling the funny birds.  Completely unafraid of humans, they nested beneath boulders, close to fences, and right under the tourist boardwalk.

backpack cape town south africa by danalynn c
I was so excited!

backpack cape town south africa by danalynn c
Boulder Beach is aptly named for the extraordinary boulders 

backpack cape town south africa by danalynn c
The penguins were dozing in the morning sun

backpack cape town south africa by danalynn c
Most of the penguins were nesting, still a few weeks away from hatching though

backpack cape town south africa by danalynn c
Goodbye for now, penguins!
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Photo-Essay: First Day in Cape Town

Friday, January 27, 2012  at 6:58 AM
backpack cape town south africa by danalynn c
We started the day by exploring the V&A Waterfront, which had a carnival-like atmosphere.  This sign helpfully gave directions and distances to many global landmarks, such as the South Pole and San Francisco (you know, in case we were lost and wondering where to go!)

backpack cape town south africa by danalynn c
I was tickled by this pirate ship, which set sail from the middle of the waterfront docks.  Unique cruise ship?  Glorified water bus?  Pirate enthusiast with too much time? Who knows...

backpack cape town south africa by danalynn c
As the day heated up, the crowds increased.  After people-watching for awhile, Chris and I decided to escape the crush of people and head to a lesser-populated place

backpack cape town south africa by danalynn c
Just north of the commercial V&A district was a long, lovely, quiet stretch of boardwalk

backpack cape town south africa by danalynn c
Exploring the beautiful and iconic Bo-Kaap neighborhood in the shadow of Table Mountain

backpack cape town south africa by danalynn c
Bo-Kaap is historically the center of Cape Malay culture (an Islamic South East Asian group) in Cape Town

backpack cape town south africa by danalynn c
Ending the day overlooking the Atlantic Ocean from the Cape Town waterfront
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Hiking in the Garden Route National Forest

Monday, January 23, 2012  at 6:58 AM
While volunteering in George, Chris and I took the opportunity to go hiking in the nearby Garden Route National Forest, which was beautiful!  The forest was a mix of indiginous tropical rainforest (you half expect Tarzan to come swinging along on a nearby vine) and neatly-planted pine forest that was cultivated for the logging industry.  Eucalyptus trees, an invasive species, also appeared frequently and gave a distinctive sharp fragrance to the area.

A chameleon that we found on the road--Chris almost stepped on it since it was blended so well with its surroundings!

Exploring the indigenous forest on a small trail.  We were carefree until we stumbled across a puff adder in the middle of the trail, then we were much more cautious...

Chris right after his near-death encounter with the puff adder

After our scare with the venemous snake in the forest, we decided to leave the small forest trails and hike to the top of a nearby hill.  These beautiful flowers blanketed the top of the hill

Hiking back at the end of the day through the cultivated pine forests, content with our day's explorations
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Refining Horseback Riding Skills in South Africa

Wednesday, January 18, 2012  at 6:58 AM
One of the main points Chris and I wanted to focus on at this Helpx in South Africa was working on our horseback riding technique.  Before arriving, I was a beginner and Chris had some experience, but riding every day drastically improved our skill levels!

george south africa horse backpack
Right away we learned the proper technique for brushing and tacking up (putting on the bridle, blanket and saddle) a horse

george south africa horse backpack
We also had plenty of experience with putting on rope bridles and leading the horses to exactly where they needed to go

george south africa horse backpack
We were able to hone our skills in the riding corral 

george south africa horse backpack
Of course, most of our experience came from riding on the trails themselves!  Here, I'm readjusting my stirrup length

george south africa horse backpack
The most exciting part?  Learning tricks!
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An Average Helpx Day (with horses!)

Monday, January 16, 2012  at 6:58 AM
Chris and I decided that a Helpx would round out our time in Southern Africa, so we decided to work on a horse ranch, helping out with guided horse tours, in the Garden Route of South Africa.  Here was a typical day for us:

6:00AM--Wake up and get ready to start the day!

george africa horse ranch backpack helpx
Walking to grab the horses for the day (here, from left to right, we have Calico, Aladdin and Ben)

7:30AM--Walk to the neighboring field to grab the horses we needed to feed that day.  A few horses were fed every day, while most were only fed if they were being ridden (all spent much of their time grazing).

 8:30AM--Start brushing and tacking up the horses that were going out on a ride in the morning.

george africa horse ranch backpack helpx
A waterfall that crossed the road in the Garden Route National Park--this was the endpoint of one of the horseback rides

9:00AM--Either lead a tour on horseback through the Garden Route National Park or help out with daily chores (cleaning, caring for tack, refilling supplies).

12:00PM--The ride is finished, so it's time to untack the horses, turn them loose to graze and prepare lunch.

george africa horse ranch backpack helpx
Our grass was getting long, so we set some of the horses to graze on our front lawn!

1:00PM--Grab the horses for the afternoon ride and start brushing and tacking up.

george africa horse ranch backpack helpx
Oiling tack was a great afternoon activity, since it could be done in the cool and shady stables
2:00PM--Again, either go on a ride or help with chores (ideally in the shade to avoid the scorching afternoon sun).

5:00PM--Afternoon rides are done and now the horses become excited, since it's their dinner time.

6:00PM--Horses are away, the stables are locked up, it's now time to prepare our dinner!

george africa horse ranch backpack helpx
The end of a long day on the ranch
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Photo-Essay: A Day in Wilderness (Beach)

Friday, January 13, 2012  at 6:58 AM
These sea snails lived in the surf at Wilderness Beach (in the Garden Route of South Africa).  Each time the surf came in, the snails would be swept up and deposited somewhere new in the sand, but they seemed to take it as a matter of course

We had the beach to ourselves in the early morning light

The reflection of light off the sand was fantastic

The Indian Ocean water was quite warm

The water was a beautiful muted teal color, but swimming very far out was discouraged because of the proliferation of sharks!

Soon we were no longer the only ones on the beach, but we were still able to explore in peace

A lovely day spent in Wilderness, South Africa!
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Nomadic Cost of Living: December

Thursday, January 12, 2012  at 6:58 AM
In December, Chris and I tackled many new countries as we headed south.  We traded long stays in a single spot for long bus rides traversing new countries, and saw many novel sights!

Transportation Total: $221.50

Housing Total: $40

Food Total: $213

Other Items Total: $188.50
-$105 of this was on Visas

Total nomadic cost of living for October: $663

This month, Chris tackled Dengue Fever in Rwanda.

We also had a crazy 33-hour bus ride in Tanzania.

Monkeys and alligators were encountered in Malawi (I was pretty excited!).

I was attacked by a baboon at Victoria Falls (not as much fun as seeing the monkeys in Malawi).

After all this excitement, we ended the month with a calm visit to the countryside in Botswana.

hitchhike semi truck Zambia Africa
Hitchhiking in Zambia
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Transportation in South Africa

Wednesday, January 11, 2012  at 6:58 AM
south africa bus countryside by danalynn c
The view from our bus window traveling from Pretoria to George

Chris and I decided to opt for taking a bus in South Africa rather than hitchhiking for one main reason:  carjackings are fairly common, so most people will not chance picking up hitchhikers.  Not wanting to get stranded (or find ourselves in a dangerous situation), we opted instead for the absolute cheapest bus we could find--the City to City bus, the lesser-known and cheaper version of Translux (a relatively nice busline).  Intercape, the most well-known bus company, was more than twice the cost of the City to City bus.  However, we were still amazed at the quality of the so-called 'cheapest' bus--it was clean, the seats were comfy, there were frequent breaks at rest stops, it was air conditioned and a two movies played in the evening.  Compared to our literally falling apart bus which broke down in Tanzania, we felt like we were living the high life.  Not such a shabby alternative to hitchhiking after all!  Next stop: George, the coastline, and white sandy beaches!

Mining is a huge industry in South Africa and we passed by many mines on our 15-hour bus trip
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Doing the Tourist Thing in Pretoria

Monday, January 9, 2012  at 6:58 AM
Chris and I had fun exploring Pretoria for a few days as stereotypical tourists, quite a change from much of the past few months in rural Africa!  

In front of the beautiful Parliament building in Pretoria

Exploring the Voortrecker Monument, which was erected to remember the Voortrekkers, the pioneers who left the Cape Colony to venture further inland in South Africa

Many of the old buildings downtown looked very European, reflecting the aesthetics of the early European colonists

Watching a wedding procession pass through the cultivated gardens in front of the Parliament building with the skyline of downtown Pretoria in the distance

Hanging out in a park in downtown Pretoria, loving the huge old trees

Venturing into a huge modern mall for the first time in about six months--it was a bit mind-boggling!
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Farmer's Markets in Pretoria

Saturday, January 7, 2012  at 4:02 AM
Pretoria (South Africa) was lovely, but one of the most memorable experiences there was an early morning farmer's market that Chris and I went to with our CS host.  This market only happens for a few hours one day a week, and you have to get there very early--we went at 6:00 AM  and the entire market ends around 9:00AM!  It was a bustling mixture of local foods, handicrafts, farm-fresh produce, and cut flowers.

pretoria south africa market backpack
A vendor arranges his handicrafts

pretoria south africa market backpack
Roses are grown en mass locally and shipped worldwide for sale--I admired the brightness of these ones

pretoria south africa market backpack
The market was lovely in the early-morning sunlight

pretoria south africa market backpack
There were plenty of ducks and geese scoping out the market for free treats

pretoria south africa market backpack
A jaffle shop, where bread is filled with savory meat and rice, then toasted into a round pocket shape (with the savory bits as the filling).  A local snack and very tasty!

pretoria south africa market backpack
Chris' first taste of the jaffle

pretoria south africa market backpack
We loved the bustling atmosphere in the market!
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