The next morning we woke and headed to the airport for our quick flight back to Durban. We got some early morning entertainment with a couple who I don’t think they could’ve disliked each other more who proceeded to keep up a heated argument from the time we got to the gate through the flight and upon landing. What a nightmare! Durban was beautiful weather once again and we were greeted with temps in the 70s and sunny skies. We headed back to the Gateway mall and took the shuttle back down to the Moses Mabhida stadium for our last match, a second round game featuring Holland v. Slovakia. Dave and I grabbed a few beers and sat in the sun people-watching for awhile before the game started. We were up in the nosebleed section again but it made for great viewing of the field and with all the crazy wind, you could actually see the stadium moving (mostly the roof as it is covered in tarp-like plastic). That night, we arrived back at our guesthouse “African Dreamz” and ate dinner at a great Italian restaurant in Umhulanga, close to where we watched our USA v. England match a few weeks ago. I had an awesome butternut squash ravioli dish and Dave had a great fresh pizza.

We had our last breakfast at the guesthouse and said goodbye to Durban and Africa. I can’t believe that the trip has finally come to and end. It seems that it was so long ago that we were in Kruger spotting animals and just starting our jouney. Africa has been an incredible and unforgettable place – great people and culture in a beautifully diverse country. I am so happy that I didn’t listen to all the hype about how unsafe and corrupt the country was; sure it was the World Cup and sure we didn’t go anywhere too remote, but overall there was no point on the trip that I ever felt threatened or scared for my life at all.

Now I am sitting in Durban’s new King Shaka airport reflecting on the life changing experience I’ve just had. I’ve officially been bitten by the international travel bug, so now the only question is…where to next?

The sun sets on our African adventure...

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The next morning was foggy and gray, the first ugly day we had in Cape Town and the day of our flight out to Port Elizabeth. Some of the flights were delayed due to the crazy thick fog, but we lucked out and left on time. The flight to PE was short, probably about 1 hour, and right along the coast. Dave and I landed and were welcomed with lovely weather once again, sunny skies and a nice coastal breeze. We got upgraded on our rental car which was a KIA Cerrato, apparently completely South African made, which was brand new and pretty nice. We drove down to the beachfront and checked into our guesthouse called “Margate Place,” right around the corner from the Uruguay team’s host hotel. We dropped our bags and headed out to a development called “The Boardwalk” which houses several restaurants, shops and a casino just across the street from the beach to get lunch and walk around. We ate at “Dulce Cafe” which was super tasty and highly recommended (the “tramezzinis” are great, similar to paninis on softer bread), before walking down to the beach. We took a nice stroll along the water and picked up a few crafts from the artisans displaying their work, then stopped at Barney’s – a beachfront pub – for a sundowner. We relaxed for a bit back at the guesthouse then headed to a place called “Primi Piatti” for dinner, a modern Italian chain eatery, where wecaught another match on TV and ate some great pasta (I had the linguine with curry-cream sauce, tasty and spicy).

Seaview Lion Park

Vervet Monkeys drinking at the watering hole

The next day, we drove about 30 minutes outside Port Elizabeth to Seaview Lion Park, a small reserve/park where they breed and sell lions, white lions and tigers to other game parks in South Africa. One of the big things I wanted to do on the trip was pet lion cubs, and here we could do that so I was pretty excited! We drove through the park and saw giraffes with little ones, zebras and Vervet monkeys – which were playing around and drinking from the watering hole. We parked our car in one of the designated areas and got out to view the lions in their large pens. We were able to get surprisingly close to them, provided there was an electric fence.

White Male Lion at Seaview Lion Park

Dave bent down to take a photo of one and apparently she thought he either wanted to play or she was hungry and she crouched down and pounced – lucky the fence was there! There were a few white/albino lions that were absolutely gorgeous, a few large males and a full grown tiger. It was sad to see them enclosed after being in Kruger and seeing them wild, so that was a downside.

We headed up to the main house where the cubs were housed and for only 50 Rand (about $7USD) we headed into their pen to pet and hang out with them. It was almost midday, so of course they were busy napping but petting them and scratching their ears and holding their paws was amazing. One of the little guys woke up and walked around a bit then took an interest in Dave’s jacket’s zipper and started chewing on it.

Little guy!

Loved this one

Tasty jacket!

We discovered that we could go in the pen with “the boys” – the male lions of about 13 months of age, which were huge. They were probably 2/3 of their full grown size, probably bigger than me, and napping as well. Preston, one of the boys, was awake and interested in us so we got to pet him and sit with him for a bit.

Preston and I

Dave bent down to pet one that was sleeping and he backed up into the electric fence – not a good idea: it gave him a 12,000 volt shock in the butt that he said he could feel in his toes. No wonder the lions don’t get close to it! The experience was incredible though, getting so close to such phenomenal and dangerous animals was exhilarating and I’ll never forget it. If you’re in the PE area, I recommend going to it as it’s inexpensive and allows you to get up close and personal with the lions. You can also pay a slightly larger fee to go in the tiger pen if interested.

Max, the feisty one

We headed back to PE to the park-n-ride for the Uruguay v. Korea second-round match. After lunch at “Cubana” on the water, a chain here in SA of cuban-inspired dishes, we hopped the bus to the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in downtown PE. The match was fun and the Korean fans were great, they were chanting and drumming and someone even had a gong. Uruguay edged them out so now Korea is done in the tournament. It started raining pretty heavily halfway through the game so we tried to get out as quickly as possible and back to the bus. Luckily, this park-n-ride had their stuff together and within 20 min we were back at our car and heading back to Barney’s to catch the USA v. Ghana second-round match. We shared a table with a brother and sister from San Francisco and the place filled up with both South African and USA supporters. Unfortunately we lost and USA’s tournament run was over. I’m happy for Ghana though, as they’re the only African country still in the WC. I’ll be rooting for them from home!

Jeffrey's Bay

Our last day in Port Elizabeth, we headed north to Jeffrey’s Bay, the infamous surf spot of the Eastern Cape. Unlucky for us, it was ridiculously windy and a little chilly so we didn’t get to see any surfing (we did encounter a few wind surfers taking advantage of the weather). We stopped in a few surf shops and had lunch on the water then headed towards St. Francis Bay, via dirt road that was way too long and muddy and gave the car a good workout and paint job. With not  much to see in St. Francis and the weather still holding strong, we headed back to PE to relax and enjoy our last night. We ate dinner at a place called 34 South in the Boardwalk and had a great seafood dinner and bottle of wine for less than $50. That is definitely one thing I’ve noticed here, that food has stayed pretty cheap even with the WC here (even at the stadiums the beers are about $4, not $8 like in the US).

J-Bay - not so great surf

We arrived in Cape Town around 5pm and made our way to the apartment  we rented right off of Long St. Long is similar to Tempe’s Mill Ave. or maybe even Bourbon St. in new Orleans. (except for the excessive blowing vuvuzelas). We stayed at an apartment building called “Flatrock” on the top floor and had a killer view of Table Mountain and Long St.

Cape Town, South Africa

View from our balcony of Table Mountain

The apartment was very modern with a nice big balcony and heated tile floors. We drank some of our Stellenbosch wine and headed downstairs to grab some dinner. Most of the p

Table Mountain

Doesn't do it justice...

laces were packed so we tried a new restaurant called “Meat Co.” which just opened for WC visitors. Not bad, but they were out of steak (really?) and our “rolls” actually came as platters. All in all it was still good, but shark diving took a lot out of us and we headed to bed soon after.

The next morning we woke up to a gorgeous sunny day and figured we HAD to hike Table Mountain. We got there early and snagged a good parking spot close to the trail head, so we decided we should hike it instead of taking the cable car to the top. It was a beautiful, scenic hike, but it was HARD. Think about climbing vertically for a good few thousand feet (Note: for you Phoenicians out there, it’s about twice the size of Camelback – Echo Canyon trail). I recommend doing it though, you don’t get anywhere near the same experience taking the cable car and the scenery on the way up is unbelievable. You have a panoramic view of Cape Town as you’re walking under waterfalls.

Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa

One of the many beautiful scenes on our hike of Table Mountain

Our weather was perfect, warm in the sun and cool in the shade with killer views of the city and waterfront. Once on top, we took some photos and grabbed a snack in the cafe/restaurant then took the cable car down. They have a great little cafe up there as well as tourist shop, toilets, phones, etc. The cable car has a moving floor so you get a 360 degree view of the ride.

Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa

Dave and I on top of Table Mountain...check out that view of Cape Town

We headed to the V&A Waterfront to catch the USA v. Algeria and England v. Slovenia matches on TV at “Quay Four” a great waterfront restaurant/bar that served beer in liter tabletop taps and we joined some South Africans at their nice couch setup right in front of a flat screen and fireplace. The bar was probably 80% Americans and 20% English and the entire place was packed wall to wall once the matches started. When Landon kicked that insane goal and the US  finally beat Algeria in injury time, the place went nuts!! We were all buying shots for each other and singing and dancing around and even starting a new trend – vuvuzela beer bonging. It was definitely a night to remember (or not haha).

Quay Four, Cape Town, South Africa

After the USA beat Algeria at Quay Four

Brody on the vuvuzela bong

Boulder’s Beach and Cape of Good Hope


I'm King of the World!

The next day, we grabbed breakfast at “Lola’s Cafe” on Long St. (get the Eggs Lola – amazing) then headed to Boulder’s Beach in Simon’s Town to see the resident penguin colony. It’s a national park so make sure you bring your Wild Card if you have one (we forgot ours and there’s no way to look up your name), but the entry fee is still only about $5USD. We walked along the boardwalk and checked out these neat creatures waddling along the beach and playing in the water.

Well Hellooo!

We saw a mother keeping her eggs warm in a little makeshift den and some penguins molting their layer of fluffy gray feathers.

We ate lunch in Simon’s Town, a quiet, small community built around the main harbor which doesn’t consist of a whole lot of stores or restaurants. Once fueled up, we drove down to the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point, situated in Table Mountain national park with it’s claim to fame being the most southerly point of the African continent. Brody, Dave and I hiked a bit and took photos of the place which really is gorgeous – unspoiled by any development and home to several types of plants and animals. We came across a wild ostrich eating close to the water’s edge and a baboon hanging on the side of the road. The weather was beautiful still but a bit windy on the coast. Once leaving the park, we decided to drive up the western side of the peninsula on the way back; driving through towns including Camp’s Bay on the other side of Table Mountain. This drive was incredibly beautiful, similar to Big Sur with the road winding right on the edge of the mountain dropping off into the ocean on the other side (not many guardrails here either).

Enjoying the Cape of Good Hope

Brody, Dave and I at the Cape of Good Hope

Back in Cape Town, we headed back down to the V&A Waterfront for dinner at a great Thai restaurant before walking to Greenspoint Stadium for the Holland v. Cameroon match. Unfortunately for us, Holland was already through and Cameroon out, so the game could have been much more interesting. The stadium is beautifully designed architecturally, and super efficient. We got right through security, and the best part was that the bathrooms had their own level in the basement and never got crowded. I’d have to say this was the best stadium of all that we’d been to.

Holland v. Cameroon - Greenspoint Stadium, Cape Town

Holland v. Cameroon - Greenspoint Stadium

I wish we had more time to spend in Cape Town, it seems like a city so diverse and rich with cool pubs and restaurants and shops, including the Greenspoint Market which we didn’t have time to get to. On my next trip, I’d spend probably a week here – including more time in Stellenbosch/Franschoek and surrounding areas.

Goodbye Cape Town!

Our drive out of Franschoek took us through winding passages in between mountains that looked more like Scotland than South Africa. No guardrails and hairpin turns made it a little more exhilarating until we finally leveled out closer to the ocean. Hermanus is a small coastal town, with rocky cliffs and no real sandy beach. The weather was perfect, albeit a little cool and windy.

Indian Ocean, Hermanus, South Africa

Enjoying the view in Hermanus

We checked into our hostel, the Hermanus Backpackers Inn, which was a great hippie-vibe house converted into a hostel-posters all over the walls, painted murals, etc. We had one room for all five of us, which had two sets of bunk beds and one queen-sized bed. The place was full of tourists from all over, hanging out on the couches, playing with the dog outside, and smoking cigarettes on the porch. After grabbing a beer at the backyard bar, we walked down to the “city center” for dinner and to watch the night’s match.

Hermanus Backpackers Inn, Hermanus, South Africa

Backyard bar at Hermanus Backpackers

I have to say, I’m pretty pleased with the no-smoking in restaurants law back in the States as the chimney sitting at the bar smoked his entire pack next to our table. I’m pretty sure this aggravated my sinuses so it was hard for me to fully enjoy the evening. However, the place we ate was called “Tapas” which rightfully so, specialized in small dishes to share. When we arrived around 5pm, we found out the kitchen would be closed until 6pm so all we could have were drinks.

Hermanus, South Africa

En route to the Tapas bar in Hermanus

Of course by about 5:45pm we were all starving so they finally  brought out some of our food. Everything was really good – we ordered a cheese plate, chorizo (which by the way was more like kielbasa  smothered in a bbq type sauce with onions) ratatouille and some other items. After our dinner, Brody decided that we should all do a shot of something. Since he was feeling a bit creative, he wanted to create his own shot which would someday become famous – the Hermanus Hammer (we have video of this historical/hysterical event). I think our waitress was throroughly confused and disgusted at our request for grape fanta, jager, vodka and red bull. And it was good!
The next morning, we woke up and packed our things for Gansbaai, where we would go cage diving with Great White sharks, about a 40 minute drive from Hermanus. Gansbaai is even smaller than Hermanus, with it’s claim to fame being shark diving and whale watching.

Great White Shark Diving, Gansbaai

View from Great White Shark Tours

We arrived at Brian McFarlane’s place, who was the pioneer of shark diving, and promptly discovered we were indeed wearing wetsuits. We had thought maybe we’d be in drysuits, but I guess the water wasn’t cold enough for it (about 12 degrees Celcius, so around 60-something Farenheit – not too bad). They provided us with a nice big breakfast buffet and anti-nausea medication which I thought might be a bit contradictory, as well as a quick breifing on what we were getting ourselves into. There were about 40 people

Lots of wetsuits ready to go!

Lots of wetsuits ready to go!

on our boat, however only 20 or so would actually go in the water. We boarded the two-level boat and grabbed hold for our 20 min ride out to Dyer Island, where the cage was waiting for us and apparently where the sharks like to hang out. After anchoring and reeling in the cage, I understood why the anti-nausea meds were handed out: the boat rocked side to side, side to side, side to side, you get the point. Dave said we’re supposed to look at the horizon since it stays put, instead of the boat or the water, so I did that quite a few times. We were all eager to get in the cage so as soon as the boat anchored, we made sure to be in the first queue (8 people in the cage per session).

Great White Shark diving, Gansbaai, South Africa

Good to go!

The sharks came over pretty quickly since we had a nice big tuna fish head luring them in. The Great Whites were massive – about 12-16 ft. long and weighing around 1 ton each. They would swim right by the cage and the boathands would yell out where it was and we’d all go underwater to look at them (Dave touched one on it’s side fin), as well as the other fish swimming by.

Great White Shark, Gansbaai, South Africa

One of the mid-size Great Whites we saw

They are such incredible creatures, so powerful and dangerous but serene just the same. It was almost more comforting to come in contact with them in that setting, as opposed to always being afraid of a shark attack in the ocean. They are more curious than anything, not the stereotypical violent attackers (we all remember Jaws) they are perceived to be. The sharks would swim by the cage and around the boat, then play with the foam decoy and thrash around at the surface. Their eyes are so black you can’t even see a pupil – just a concave black spot on either side of their snout, and they swim with their mouth slightly open so we got a nice flash of razor sharp teeth each time.

Great White Shark, Gansbaai, South Africa

Going for the decoy

Great White Shark, Gansbaai, South Africa

Smile for the camera!

We went in one more time (much colder for some reason) then the last round of the last group went in. One of the big sharks took a liking to one of the girls and started to try and put his snout in the cage – scary! We left the spot and took a quick trip around the island to see the enormous amount of seals (obviously the reason the sharks hang around) sunning on the rocks and playing in the water. After another quick trip back to land, we viewed the DVD that the boathands put together during the trip and ate some hot chicken soup before starting our trek to Cape Town.

Great White Shark diving, Gansbaai, South Africa

Relaxing before round 2

Overall, the shark diving was incredible. Nothing to be afraid of unless you lose your grip and fall in where there is no cage. Everyone told us that it is best to go in winter when the sharks are more abundant so I’m glad we did it when we did. I would definitely go again.