South Africa Tour, First Days

We all safely arrived in Port Elizabeth in South Africa after a variety of flight connections. A restful “kombi” (mini-bus) ride took us to the Kariega Game Reserve a couple of hours away along the Indian Ocean and past pasture and valley.  Gradually the landscape became more and more remote until we arrived at Kariega, a great sweep of hillside, valley, brush and plain.  We’ve had two game drives and two stuffed tastey, smorg meals so far.. and we’ve been here less than 24 hours! The first days of a tour are always full of energy, and all the more so when you’re looking at wild elephants, lions, impalas and a host of boks.  The photos tell the story of day one as TourMagination’s South African adventure 2020 takes shape.

As the group was travelling to near Mossell Bay, a beautifully placed town on the edge of the Indian Ocean. Tour leader Len Friesen writes: The rain itself is welcome in a land where fresh water has become a significant issue of late.  And it’s more of a drizzle in any event.

We arrived here late yesterday afternoon, having left Kariega Game Lodge in mid-morning.   And even before that we took our final game drive; our final game drive led by the wonderfully engaging Reece.  This time we chanced upon a pack of lions, or is it a herd?  I can’t be sure without my first cup of coffee.  But they were quite the sight, sprawled out on the meadow of a valley floor after a morning feed of maybe blesbok, bush pig, warthog, eland, kudu, impala, nyala our countless other animals that we saw. I may have misspelled some of the animals but did I mention that I hadn’t had my first cup of coffee yet?

In any event, it was a five star final drive.  We returned to the mail lodge for another sumptuous breakfast, packed our bags, and were on our way to Mossell Bay, driven by Charles and emceed by Faisal.  Faisal identified himself as “coloured”, or “colored” depending on whether you are reading this in Canada or the USA.  And that identification was a wonderful entry to race, identity and politics in past and present South Africa. What makes Faisal so terrific is not just his sense of humour but his candid description of life then, and life now.  It was rich.

Oh, and the scenery.  This stretch of South Africa from Port Elizabeth to Mossell Bay is dramatic, with vast windswept beaches to deep deep-cut gorges to mountain ranges and we took them all in as Faisal told his stories.  At one point he allowed us to stop and dip our toes in the Indian Ocean.

Then Mossell Bay, which happens to have been the first point of white contact with the peoples of this great land when the Portuguese landed here in 1488.  There are many layers to this land, and we are well into it all.

Today we head for Cape Town the Mother City, though I expect to see a mountain or two en route.  Plus the penguins!

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