Southern Africa Snapshots, Part I

South Africa, Swaziland & Zimbabwe wrap-up.

I recently returned from two weeks in southern Africa, booked through Gate1Travel with incomparable Anni Hennop as a guide. The continent and the countries we visit provide a kaleidoscope of both positive memories and insights that are hopeful distressing.

Quick takeaways: Enormous income inequity. Vibrant but often violent history. Compelling scenery. Trash and litter (especially plastic bottles) despoiling the landscape. Wonderful wildlife.  Poaching remains problematic. Cultural and creative richness that sees people through and gives hope. Property crime rampant. Political corruption. Go visit and see for yourself.

Meanwhile, below find an image or two from every  place I visited and thing I saw at the beginning of the trip. Visit my Facebook page for more.

Day 1 – Arrival Afternoon

Watershed, an art and design center on Cape Town’s Victoria & Albert Harbor waterfront.

Day 2 – On the Road from Cape Town

Cape Peninsula Drive, one of the world’s most scenic highways. Parts are hacked into steep cliffs. Some stretches offer spectacular scenic views of beaches and bays. Parts lead though the fynbos, known as the smallest but richest of the six floral kingdoms on the planet with some 1,100 species of indigenous plants.
Wild seas. even during calm weather, at Cape Point where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet. Whales are commonly sighted. Seals live on rocky outcrops. Birds fly past.

Boulders colony of African penguin, a species found only on the southwestern coast of Africa.
The stunning Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, one of the finest in the world. In addition to stunning flora and views of Table Mountain, the gardens show wonderful Zimbabwean stone sculptures. Perfect melding of natural beauty and art.

Day 3 – Table Mountain,  Greenmarket and Langa Township

The first cableway to take passengers up and back down Table Mountain was opened in October 1929. The current version is a Swiss ROTAIR that swiftly makes the 2,200-foot +/- trip in just minutes.
Misty morning on Table Mountain, but clouds occasionally parted to reveal fine views of the seacoast on one side and the city on the other. Miles of trails lure hikers, runners and nature-lovers, including an easy summit loop from the top station of the cable car.
Colonial architecture abounds in certain parts of Cape Town.
The vendors of Greenmarket Square sell pretty much the same fabrics, trinkets, jewelry, wood carvings, beadwork and other items that we were to see virtually everywhere on the trip from Cape Town to Swaziland. But here, it was new and novel.
Africa is the source of most of the world’s largest diamonds. The Cullinan, number two in terms of weight but the most famous, came from South Africa and now can be seen in the Tower of London where the Crown Jewels are kept. Cape Town still has a diamond industry, including the Schimansky workshop and showroom.
Arts training for Langa Township’s youth includes pottery, plus mosaic making, dance, music and more.
A walking tour includes a brief stop at a smoky outdoor grilled meat market with sheep and lamb carcasses and heads in various stages from ready for butchering to ready to buy and eat. Close-ups are not for the squeamish.
Langa has some solid housing stock but also the first shantytown we were to see.

Subsequent days will appear on following posts.