Cruising  ~ The Cat’s Meow Style ~  July – December, 2011

An Adventure of a Lifetime



Welcome back!! We hope you will enjoy finding out what in the WORLD we were doing after having done so much work on The Cat’s Meow.

Well………we decided it was time to take a break from the boat, from the water, from the life we had been living, and to do something totally different.


We had met Colin Garland during the winter of 2010, when he did a photo & video presentation at the Porto Bello restaurant in Puerto Escondido. After the great photos of whales in the Sea of Cortez (right in our backyard, actually), Colin showed photos and a video from his work and adventures in the country of South Africa. He has been spending the months of June, July, and August doing research in the Kruger National Park, and later in August he often takes people on safari for two weeks. Both of us were very interested in the Africa trip, so we spoke with Colin after the presentation and decided right then that we could not miss this opportunity! This was just too good to pass-up. So, we saved our nickels and dimes and made the plan to go to South Africa during August of 2011. What a good idea that was!!!!


In early August, we flew from the Baja to NYCity. We had two nights there, so we enjoyed taking the Metro downtown, walking along the busy streets, just being tourist in “the big city”. We ate a pretzel with mustard from one of the street vendors; we went to the Grand Central station terminal; we ate New York pizza…we had a good time. However, instead of flying out of JFK at 8:30 a.m. as planned, our flight was delayed until 8:30 P.M. (!!) so we spent the entire day at the airport….not a good beginning. Finally aboard South African Air, we had a very good flight with good food, movies, and great staff aboard.



   Eating a pretzel on the streets of  New York                                                               Grand Central Terminal



                                                      What else can you do while waiting at JFK allllll day……???


 When we arrived in Johannesburg, Colin and his assistant Cathy met us and sped us off to a friend’s home in Pretoriaskop for the first night. Early the next day, we departed for our two-week safari adventure.



       Outside the Park:  a good place to buy great fruit                                                                             First thing seen, inside the Park


Ken, a boater we met in Puerto Escondido, also was in our group, and since we all knew Colin and Cathy, this trip was even easier and nicer than most could have been. We were a party of three with two guides – what a deal!!


Cathy, Colin, Robin, Martin, and Ken in country


While one can stay in different types of lodging within the park ~ permanent tents, rondells, “chalets” ~ but we went the “cheap route” and we slept in a small tent for our two weeks in the park. It was quite nice ~ we could hear the animals just outside the fence of each of the five compounds we stayed in (the electrified fence that protects the animals from the people), and we could see the stars. Colin has a van that he uses when university students are doing their internship with him and to drive his other clients (like us) around the Park. He gets the van to the gate in the wee dark hours of the morning, trying to be the first car in line to leave the compound and into the park each morning, while the rest of us struggle to wake up and dress and make some hot coffee or hot chocolate and wander to the van so we can depart at six o’clock sharp, when the gate is opened. Note: while August is nice and warm, or hot, in the US of A, it is winter in South Africa! We were wearing up to five layers of clothing every morning, hoping to be able to peal some off during the daytime.



    How we spent most of our days while in the Kruger Park                                                        Typical night scene, tents to each side of the van


Each day we drove through different parts of the Kruger Park, looking for animals. Since Colin and Cathy had been there since June, they knew where the animals were, what they liked to do, who had babies, etc. What a wealth of information!!! And, within the first half-day of being in the Park, we saw the Big Five: elephant, lion, cape buffalo, rhinoceros, and leopard!! Awesome. 


The “Big Five”:



                                     African elephant(s)                                                                                                                         Rhinoceros




                                           Cape buffalo                                                                                                                                 Leopard







Being with Colin & Cathy made it a wonderous time in the Kruger. They could spot an animal where we only saw brush. Colin would lean out of the van (absolutely NO leaving the vehicle is permitted on the roads in the Park!!) and read the prints left by the animals in the dirt of the road. We saw sooo many things, such as the cheetah in the tree, the herd of at least 2,000 cape buffalo stampeding to the waterhole, the leopard mother teaching her cub to get into the tree for the kill she had stored there, the herd of stampeding elephants, fighting elephants, and on and on…..



                                             Mr. Kudu                                                                                      Cape buffalo stampede to waterhole



                                         Black rhino                                                                                                             Young giraffe



Lilac breasted roller                                                                                       Pastoral scene in the Bush



                                        Out in the Bush                                                                                                   Bushwalk guides



Mating pair of lions                                                                                   Cheetah in the tree, scoping out the area for game




              Two zebras                                                                                              Three young cheetahs




                                           Baby wild dogs                                                                   Mama leopard and cub



While it is impossible here to demonstrate all that we saw and all that we did in the Kruger Park, we tell you that it was definitely a grand time!


South African sunset



After our two weeks in the park, we all flew to Cape Town and then drove to a small town called Hermanus, known for “the best land-based whale watching in the world”. From our condo, we saw right whales frolicking in the water just across the street!!! Cape Town and Hermanus are at the southern tip of South Africa, where the Atlantic and the Indian oceans meet. Weather is a factor. One day, we had balmy sunny weather, the next day it was blowing 42 knots of very cold wind + rain.


Old whaling station in Hermanus          





                                View from our balcony one day……                                                                                                …view from our balcony the next day


To a person, everyone we met while in South Africa was friendly, and helpful. It was quite interesting to listen to people ~ including on TV shows! ~ speaking Africans, which is a mix of Dutch, English, and tribal languages. South Africa is obviously going through huge changes in their social and economic structures, which can and does involve struggles between races; and there is an obvious difference between those that have and those that do not have much.


Township outside of Cape Town



Ken, Colin, and Cathy all left South Africa after our stay at Hermanus. The two of us rented a car and just decided where to go and what to do for the next 11 days. We drove through the wine country, saw the wildflower bloom, went through a cave, and explored some of the coastline. 



                Driving (notice where we are on the road) near the wine country                                                                   Wildflowers in bloom



                              Martin & Robin with Mark, of the Dung Beetle Bar in Barrydale                                                                                Robin enjoyed the hot springs



Hiking in the Tsitsikama Park  


We found great places to stay ~ we stayed two or three nights at each location ~ most of which were separate cabins with wonderful views and great appointments, averaging us about $45US per night. Not bad!! 



                                                                   Mtn. Resort near the Cango Caves                                                                View from our bungalow near Knysna


     Our little chalet in Wilderness    (note the fire in the fireplace! Brrrr!)


Although we are not fans of many “typical tourist venues”, many of the locals suggested we go see Monkeyland and Birdland. And….we are so very glad we did!! Both of these parks are natural vegetation covered with netting, both are of many hectares (a hectare is larger than an acre), and both allow the visitor to walk among the monkeys and the birds ~ no cages. These places were impressive.




                In Monkeyland, we walked among the ring-tailed lemurs…                                 …and among the birds in Birdland (that parakeet is lovin’ on Martin)



                                                                                Knysna Lourie 


We spent one more day and night in Cape Town before departing for the USA.  It was fun to find the South African Market, where all sorts of wares were for sale, and that night we found some great African music being played in a very cool restaurant/bar. A great way to end our trip of a lifetime…..and, the last nights’ lodging came with a ………!!!



                                                                African Marketplace in Cape Town                                                                        Cooool place with great African jazz


                                    Our very own cat for the night!



Our South African adventure took about five weeks total, and during that entire time our cats – Toes and Squeak – were at our friend Pat’s home in La Paz. It was the hottest part of the summer in the Baja. Pat and Lisa (who was staying there as well) took very good care of our furry family members, and we will always be so grateful for that.


Believe it or not, there are still a few months left in 2011 ~ but, since we have gone on for so long here, we will come back for a short one next time………Cruising ~ The Cat’s Meow Style!