Browsing Category

South Africa

Destinations, Feature Trips, South Africa

A Cartwheel at Nature’s Valley

October 1, 2012

Road tripping along South Africa’s Western Cape, finished with game drives and indigenous forest tours and stays in treehouses, we returned west toward Cape Town, enjoying scenic pit-stops along the way. One of the best quick detours off the highway: a Garden Route classic – Nature’s Valley.

Some people visit for extended vacations; we stayed for a cartwheel.

And it was beautiful. Continue Reading…

Destinations, Feature Trips, South Africa, twoOregonians Tour the Cape

Are Game Drives A Suitable Substitute?

September 27, 2012

“You’re not going to Kruger National Park? Shame.”

I know, it was a shame. The near-mythical stories of wild African animals roaming the bush and crossing the rivers, attacking prey and staring tourist in the eye send a surge of excitement through most any traveler’s heart…but we knew we’d chosen to focus our trip on the Cape, and veering off course by 1,700 kilometers to go north to Kruger wasn’t in the cards.

Thankfully, there are alternative ways and places to spot South African wildlife. Continue Reading…

Destinations, Feature Trips, South Africa, twoOregonians Tour the Cape

The Questionable Ethics of Wildlife Tourism in South Africa

September 25, 2012

“When we think of Africa, we think of its wildlife. Yet it is the African wildlife that the tourism industry too often exploits, abuses and neglects in pursuit of profitable tourism. In order to turn a profit, the industry trades, hunts, butchers, cages, orphans and experiments on its most valuable resource.”
-Fairly Wild

Wildlife Tourism in South Africa: Ethics, Experience, and Eyes-Open Travel

I was maybe thirteen when I overheard an adult bragging about his hunting trip to Africa. I honestly don’t remember the details, but his slick mustached smile and grand hand gestures illustrated the point: he had spent big bucks to have big fun in hopes of bringing big bragging rights back to Oregon. Continue Reading…

Destinations, Feature Trips, Photography, South Africa, twoOregonians Tour the Cape

Stumbling Into Myst

September 23, 2012

So, I have this thing for relating travel destinations to games (board or otherwise).

Remember that computer program Myst? In the 1990s, I sunk ages into solving its digital riddles. Analyzing puzzles, traversing other-worldly landscapes, pulling at threads in a storyline until the mysteries finally unraveled. The game appealed to my inquisitive, persistent mind.

Imagine the fun a few decades later (um, can that be true?!), when Ted and I stumbled into the real-world graphics of Myst 2.0 at the Robberg Peninsula, 8 kilometers to the south of Plettenberg Bay, South Africa.

Robberg Peninsula, South Africa

Classic Myst, Circa 1990s

We pulled into Robberg Nature Reserve at 4:30pm.

“Park entry closes at 5pm, visitors must be out by 6pm.”

A race against the clock? Okay, fair warning. Continue Reading…

Destinations, Feature Trips, South Africa, twoOregonians Tour the Cape

What Lies Beneath: Caving and Craft Beer

September 19, 2012

As I wiggled like a worm through damp crevices, claustrophobia gripped me. I trepidatiously advanced into the belly of the earth, one.five kilometers away from sunlight, deep within the recesses of Mother Nature’s time capsule, where beauty wore darkness to veil its secrets.

I eagerly agreed to visit the Cango Caves, just ninety minutes from our lodging in Wilderness Bay, South Africa, not knowing just exactly what to expect. Bethany stayed behind to catch up on work. I took the car across a major mountain pass, up up up and then down down down, threading my way inland, looking for what is known as one of Africa’s seven natural wonders.

Guests can choose between two routes at the entrance of the caves. Both are guided. Neither are for the faint for heart. I chose the first route, an easier distance which didn’t require tight squeezes or belly crawls. However, the caves manager talked me into the second route, extolling the additional beauty I would behold, and assuring me that I could “turn back and wait” if at any time I felt uncomfortable.

Okay. Considering I get claustrophobic if I wake up with a pillow on my chest, embarking on the second option was my equivalent to shark cage diving or jumping head first off the world’s highest bungee. But I agreed, and off I went. Continue Reading…

Destinations, Feature Trips, Featured Partners, Featured Places, South Africa, South Africa Tourism, twoOregonians Tour the Cape

Better than a Bicycle Built for Two: Canoeing in South Africa

September 18, 2012

The verdict after all day on the water? Ted and Bethany are way better at team-canoeing than riding a bicycle built for two. (Oh, Victoria, British Columbia! Cycling in Stanley Park really got the better of us…but that’s another story for another day.) This story finds us in South Africa on an August winter morning, unsure of whether we’d be in for a day of sprinkles or blue sky.

We wore our hiking clothes and packed the rain jackets. Canoeing on the mind, we headed for a classic Garden Route excursion with Eden Adventures.

Pulling up to the entry kiosk at the “Ebb & Flow Wilderness Section South Camp” point of the Garden Route National Park, we paid our 22 Rand each (a total of about $5.45 for the two of us) and drove just a bit further into the park. Down by the reeds and the river stood a brown building on stilts, hovering high enough to avoid seasonal floods and provide an overlook to the fifty or so canoes and kayaks waiting down below. Continue Reading…

Destinations, Feature Trips, Food, South Africa, twoOregonians Tour the Cape

Local Food + Pink Martini: Dinner at the Veg-Table

September 16, 2012

We were out driving around the Cape of South Africa, stopping from time to time to ask residents what they might recommend, explaining that we love finding small scale producers and local food. The next thing we knew, a woman in Sedgefield was scribbling down a phone number for a fellow named Brett. “Give him a call,” she said.

And oh, we are so glad we did.

On a Wednesday night, we pulled off the rural road and our car headlights illuminated the promise enchantingly hidden in the woods: “Veg-Table Private Dining Room.”

Love the sign. It loosely translates to, “This way for slow, cow-friendly food”

Down the dark drive, we pulled up to a little cabin, lit with candles and filled with music swirling through the rustic rooms and drifting out the open doors… Crackling open flames danced on the hearth and smiles crossed our faces as we were shown to a tiny table adorned with antique green and white fabric and perfectly mismatched giraffe figurines. Continue Reading…

Destinations, Feature Trips, South Africa, South Africa Tourism, twoOregonians Tour the Cape

Half a World Away from Stumptown: Visiting the Knysna Forest

September 13, 2012

Oregon = forests. Timber industry history shaped many a town and family tree. Ted’s great grandpa was a logger, and we know our beautiful canopies and leaves and bark and needles (almost) like the back of our hands. (Though that whole “Oregon Pine” thing left us a bit flummoxed at first.)

South Africa’s forests and woodcutters, on the other hand? We drove down the N2 highway through the Garden Route’s “Knysna Forests” and didn’t understand what we were seeing. Our foreign eyes couldn’t make out the distinctions and our shallow knowledge of South African history left us without context. Four hours (guided! thankfully not lost in the woods) changed all that…

Ted and I met Dennis, our guide, at the Harkerville filling station off the N2, just beyond the city of Knysna, climbed into his trusty Toyota 4×4, and set off for a visit to a beautiful patch of remaining indigenous forests. Continue Reading…

Destinations, Feature Trips, South Africa, South Africa Tourism, twoOregonians Tour the Cape

twoOregonians Tour the Cape: An Introduction to South Africa

September 12, 2012

South Africa is a country of complexity and beauty, tension and freedom. It’s large enough to justify a year long visit on its own while accessible enough to explore well in a few weeks’ time.

We struck a compromise: two and a half months inside the borders split three ways between slow-paced visits, temporary rootedness, and zippy road trips around the country’s Cape.

What could two travelers from Oregon learn about South Africa, and what could we share with the world? In our upcoming posts, we do our best to dispel a few myths, reveal a few secrets, and share our real-life glimpse into this far (from Oregon!) corner of the planet. Continue Reading…

Destinations, Feature Trips, South Africa, twoOregonians Tour the Cape

South African Tidbits (Culinary and Otherwise)

September 6, 2012

Two months in South Africa: too many observations and iPhone snaps to count.

Ted and I shared more than a few good chuckles over celebrity chefs and celebrity pine* trees. We’ve wondered out loud and shared conversations with hosts about the state of the country’s government and policies, we’ve visited programs doing admirable work to empower the disenfranchised in local communities, and we’ve visited the absolute class acts of tourism establishments along the Garden Route and in the heart of Cape Town.

We’ve also collected an amusing assortment of observations and oddities, and it only seemed right to share them with you:

Continue Reading…