A Travellerspoint blog

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My Last Night In Cape Town...

Last night was our last in Cape Town. How did we spend it? We went for dinner at a restaurant called Golds, and it was one of the best experiences of my life.

Perhaps it was the friendly greeting we received, walking into the restaurant. Which immediately led to our introduction of traditional African drumming. Or, perhaps it was the several course meal (I lost track after 3), consisting of chicken, springbok, veggie dishes, ostrich (big smile), and dessert. In-between each meal, there was dancing, singing, face painting, and 24k gold dust being thrown in the air. It was even added to some of our meals.

Regardless of the reason, I can honestly say that yesterday evening opened my eyes further to the beauty of African culture. Beyond the food and the land is a history, rich with tradition.

What a way to end our stay in Cape Town (but, we'll be back someday).
Today, we head back to Joburg, for a one night stay at Michelangelo's. Tomorrow, Sun City!

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Posted by Dwayne Ashley 12:46 Comments (0)

The Palace of the Lost City (pt.1)

The Palace ... What can I say??! Based on luxury alone, I thought I'd experienced it all...until I spent a couple of nights here. I think luxury and opulence come here to visit, when they need inspiration.

Built in 1992, each piece of this multi-complex hotel has been meticulously pieced together. Some of the artwork and finishes have been sourced from as far as indonesia.

The casino, kids arcade, cinema, and a man-made beach, with wave pool highlight some of the activities the Lost City provides.

Of course, I had to by-pass all of that and head straight for the Zip Slide ride. At 2km in length, reaching speeds upto 160km p/hr, this is the longest zip ride in Africa. The experience of diving and being suspended by nothing but a harness was, for lack of better word, exhilarating. And anything that exhilarating deserved to be finished with a beer ;-)

The food (sorry no pics this time), was all prepared with careful attention to flavours. On our first night, we ate at The Raj, which of course is indian cuisine; Lamb Masala, with basamati rice and garlic naan. The second night, we went italian; Lamb and artichoke canolleni...(notice a theme).. YUM!

If I haven't mentioned already, food is cheap here. I couldn't tell how many times we've had dinner for four, which consisted of at least 2 bottles of wine, appetizers, pre-dinner drinks, dinner and dessert (yah, lots of food), and paid no more than $1500Rand (apprx) - which converts to about $185 CAD.

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Posted by Dwayne Ashley 07:46 Comments (0)

The Palace of the Lost City (pt.2)

During our stay at The Palace, we had an opportunity to go on a game drive through Letsatsing Game Reserve. Traveling through it we saw lots of different animals, but it wasn't until I got to the Elephant Wallow, where I was truly blown away.

Being face to trunk :-) with an elephant is intimidating. The sheer size of it forces you to respect its power. However, touching one and being able to feed two baby elephants (3yrs and 5mth old), helped me appreciate their gentleness as well.

Strangely enough, a rhino snuck up on us, while everyone was paying attention to the elephants (at least, it felt like it was sneaking around). He (or she, didn't check), just sort of hung around in the background... took a dump, peed a little (it was more like a geyser) and walked away (I'll try not to read too much into that).

The animal life encountered was a definite primer for our stay in Kruger park.
Overall, I think this place is more of a kids paradise, than a casino. The inspiration for the property itself is based on a make-believe, lost city legend. It all comes across as a disneyland/fairytale world, which is fine by me, because its beautiful! Did I mention the surrounding jungles with hidden pathways, lazy river, and a 2km (?) maze...?

To my little guy, I'm not making any promises, but I will definitely try to bring you here to experience this firsthand...

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Posted by Dwayne Ashley 12:51 Comments (0)

Joburg On My Mind

Last night was my final in Joburg... and I managed to survive and tell the tale.

At least that's how I would've imagined it prior to leaving Toronto for South Africa. The amount of stories of rape, theft, and just random acts of violence, was enough to make me fearful of traveling here.

Let me present to you 'a truth', based purely on my personal observations, as well conversations had with the people that live here; Joburg is a metropolitan city, no different than Toronto and New York. You are guaranteed to find neighborhoods that are shady enough to avoid, regardless of time of day. As for violence, yes, it exists here, and yes, there is more than a little bit to be found. But show me a city where violence and crime doesn't exist. Even some politicians here, appear to be lousy and corrupt...typical.

The point is, the people are generally good, and hard working. The weekday mornings are filled with people commuting to work. And the weekends are filled with people looking for food and parties.

I should also point out the diversity of people I've seen, while sitting at a cafe in Nelson Mandela Sq.. It never occurred to me before, but people across the world are curious about SA, and are more than willing to satisfy that curiosity, by finding out for themselves what this place is about.

As my driver to the airport today put it; just use your common sense as you move through the city, and listen to your instincts. Joburg has its problems, but with proper judgment, traveling here shouldn't fill you with fear.

(Note: I'm on the final leg of my journey. Today, I transfer to Kruger park, for what I hope to be an incredible 4 day experience)

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Posted by Dwayne Ashley 05:46 Comments (0)

Kruger National Park - Kapama River Lodge

Ending this trip on a safari, may be the best way of preparing for the harsh reality of everyday life (5 more days til we return). Two weeks of non-stop pampering is enough to spoil any person. I'm currently on my first day at Kapama River Lodge, and they are definitely not about the pampers. Its rough and rugged... with a little bit of luxury.

To put this into perspective, picture if you will, grade school camping trips. These trips took you into the woods, where you stayed in wooden lodges, ate in communal dining halls, and slept on bunk beds. Now, add a world class chef, premium bar, swimming pool, spa, and a personal spa-like bathroom... (I swear, I'm not being pampered).

Getting to Kruger was a quick flight from Joburg to Hoedspruit. Flying over Kruger, you get a sense of the vast size of this place. Completely undeveloped, but signs of life everywhere. Tracy and I have gone out on one safari so far, and already we've encountered:
-A cheetah with its kill.
-A rhino sharing a meal with its daughter.
-A herd of Buffalo's
-And a family of elephants!

If you recall, in a previous blog entry, talked about an elephant's power and gentleness (at The Palace, lost city)? Well, forget the gentleness, I had a true taste of its power as it chased us away, while its family foraged for food. If you have never been chased by an angry elephant, then you haven't lived (I'm sweating, and my heart is still pumping hard)!!

At this point, it's time for dinner and bed. As usual, dinner was magnificent! I've put on, at least, an extra 100lbs over the last few weeks. We have a 5am wake up call, and 10am bush walk (I've been advised to be prepared to climb a tree if needed).

Hopefully, I'll live to tell the tale...

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Posted by Dwayne Ashley 12:51 Comments (0)

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