miércoles, 12 de octubre de 2022

Mauritius, a trip canceled due to the Pandemic, come true

Hello, I'm back with my blog. Today I want to tell you about the trip I took with my family in April 2022. This trip was planned for April 2020, which we canceled due to the Corona Virus.

Virus free and ready to board

My family and I arrived in Cape Town in July 2019, for my husband's work. In December before Christmas, my husband came with the proposal to visit Mauritius again. We had done it before in 1999. After settling into our new house, as we previously lived in Switzerland, and having visited some places in South Africa like the Garden Route, we were ready for an adventure in South Africa's neighbouring country, Mauritius.

We celebrated Christmas, our first in Cape Town and started 2020 visiting new places in our new country. The date for the Easter holidays was approaching, but the pandemic arrived and with it all our travel dreams vanished. We already know the rest, because we all live the same reality.

Air Mauritius did not return the money for the flight and the two hotels with which we had reserved if they returned the advance payment, although one took a year to pay us.

But in April 2022, the miracle happened and the borders were opened for travellers. Mauritius, here we come! On April 4 we flew from Cape Town to Johannesburg and from there to the wonderful island. Air Mauritius allowed us to use our flights that we had booked. And my husband and I went in Business class, what better way to celebrate!

The Covid test at Hotel Shanti

And we arrived at Hotel Shanti, in the south of the island. At the reception they gave us a Covid test. If someone in my family tested positive, it meant we couldn't stay in this hotel. Fortunately, no one tested positive, or so the hotel employee told us.

The fun started, enjoying the Hotel Shanti. There were few tourists in the hotel: English, French and us, Swiss-Mexicans. We really enjoyed two days off. On the third day we traveled by taxi to the airport to pick up the car we had booked as we wanted to explore the island.

We were very struck by the response of the Mauritians, because even on the beach they wore masks. Very obedient to government rules.

Baie du Cap, Morne Brabant and le Chamarel

We left the hotel to tour the south of the island. Our first stop was to go up to the small mountain of Maconde view point in the town of Baie du Cap. It was wonderful to see this little town from the top. And there were no tourists!

One of the most famous places on the island is the Morne Brabant. And we went there. Mont Brabant Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island.

There we were walked enjoying the turquoise blue water of the Indian Ocean.

The trip would continue by looking for one of the most famous restaurants on the island: La Varangue sur Morne. There we tasted authentic dishes of the island. Like mine with shrimp and a rice.

After this culinary break, we travel to the next attraction which would be Chamarel.

This place is known as the Terre du 7 couleurs. We payed our entrance tickets and arrived at the viewpoint in front of the Cascada de Chamarel.

This place is made up of dunes of 7 colors in the middle of a forest. The giant tortoises of Seychelles are also one of the attractions of this place in addition to the layers of these dunes formed by the erosive activity of the soil and the combination of minerals from the rain. Red, brown, violet, green, blue, purple and yellow are the predominant colors.

I highly recommend this experience, because you get to know more than just the island's beaches. Chamarel has a mythical charm. Mountains close to the beaches and that wonderful waterfall. The tourist should not hesitate to visit this attraction.

Back to the Shanti Hotel. That night a sunset on the beach and a delicious dinner awaited us. The next day would be the last in the hotel, since we would change residence to the north of the island, since we had rented a villa for the next few days of our vacation. I will tell you about this in the next Landing. Thanks for reading me!

sábado, 6 de agosto de 2022

Visiting the Kruger Park in 2021

Our flight from Cape Town

Hello, I am back in this blog to tell you about an adventure that has been one of the most important in our lives as expats in South Africa: the Kruger Park.

Almost six months have passed since our visit to this mythical place. Since we came to live in Cape Town in July 2019, it had always been in our dreams to visit it.

We only knew Kruger Park from tourist stories and television reports. But finally, the dream was about to be fulfilled. And obviously, as always, my husband was very excited telling us all the details of our journey through the park.

At the Tintswalo Terrace

The adventure began by plane: to Mpumalanga!!!!!

Our house for this days: Grant

We traveled from Cape Town to the province of Mpumalanga. We landed at Hoedspruit Airport. Arriving here was like landing in the middle of the African jungle. Not far from the landing strip were the most coveted animals for photographers and tourists.

The adventure begins

Stepping off the plane, we were greeted by the warmth of the African savannah. It was cloudy luckily. It had rained a lot in the last few weeks and when we were traveling in the hotel transport, our driver told us that when the vegetation was thick, you couldn't see the animals very well because they hid in the tall bushes. According to him, the best time to see the animals in Kruger Park was during the South African winter.

I can't deny, that at that moment, the only thing that came to my mind was, well, it would be nice to see even one little animal that rises from its hiding place. To our good luck, the driver-guide-ranger had been completely wrong.

African Sunset

The Elephant in the tree's water intake

We arrive at the lodge. The Tintswalo Safari Lodge. As normal in these hotels, we were received by almost the entire team. From the doorman, the receptionist, the manager, the chef and our butler.

The manager explained to us that in the Manyeleti area, where we were staying, it was not a place where the malaria-transmitting mosquito was established. The malaria problem was further north of Kruger Park. In any case, we always use mosquito repellent, pants and long-sleeved shirts to avoid any bite.

After having our welcome cocktail, we arrived at the room. The Lodge Grant, named so'i in honour of an English colonizer. The manager told us that a few days ago they had seen a cheetah in front of our lodge.

Lonely hyena

But what we saw was a family of elephants. The manager told us that a couple of years ago an elephant had broken the pool in our room, so now the entire lodge is protected with an electric fence. Luckily the elephants could no longer approach any room. But he did not rule out that the lodge was not visited by carnivorous inhabitants or other types of wild animals dangerous to humans such as a rhinoceros, buffalo. Any animal from the savannah could approach.

The first safari drive of the trip, but with rain

The first adventure of that afternoon was about to begin. After our afternoon snack in the lobby-restaurant area, our ranger picked us up and drove us to the Jeep. We were ready for the first Safari.

We learned a lot about African nature. Especially from temperature changes. From one second to another, the rain surprised us, but it was no problem, because our ranger gave us our raincoats. Despite the rain, we saw many animals on our first tour, such as lions and rhinos.

You will see many zebras and Wildebeest
 in every safari trip

Back at the Lodge, we were greeted with hot chocolate. Delicious dinner awaited us. Soon we would go to sleep to continue with the morning safari.

Meeting the Cheetah brothers, the vultures and the lion brothers

The first adventure of that second day in the Kruger was the miracle of seeing a family of Cheetah brothers eating an antelope. The ranger explained their behaviour to us, because the Cheetahs are animals that have to watch while they devour their prey in a group. Who are your enemies? The lions and the leopards. If neglected, these animals can steal their prey.

Cheetah brothers

Not far from them are also hyenas and vultures, who will seize the skeleton of the antelope when the cheetahs are satisfied and retire to digest their food.

I can't deny that seeing the vultures waiting for the cheetahs to finish was not scary. Luckily they were focused on the cadaver. Seeing the vultures waiting in the 'trees to come closer to eat, gave me chills. Especially since they are approaching the group of cheetahs, jumping.

Lions family

In that round, we saw a family of a lion with several lionesses. Tired, saving energy to hunt for the next dinner after dark. We saw a hyena walking alone in the last rays of the sun before the rain surprised us again.

Eat, sleep, repeat! See you tomorrow!

Eat, sleep, repeat. We arrived at the Lodge with our welcome drink before dinner. That night we slept like little angels, happy to have experienced so much African wonder. But the state of admiration did not end that night, the next morning we would get ready for the next safari in Kruger Park.

domingo, 27 de marzo de 2022

Windhoek, Namibia: Sleeping in the German Castle, Heinitzburg

Hotel Heinitzburg

Now back to finish the recount of our vacation in Namibia. We leave Swakopmund, a beautiful vacation beach, and drive to the nation's capital. We arrive in four hours by car and drive through desert roads to the desert of the pavement.

We were lucky to stay in front of the swimmingpool

Doing the Covid Test to fly home

View from the Garden Terrace

We arrived at the Heinitzburg Castle Hotel. It looked like a medieval castle and was an oasis in the heat of the afternoon. We settled in and booked a table at their Garden Terrace restaurant.

But the time to rest had to wait. We drop off our bags and drive to the Covid Testing Station. We were right on time because in two days we would be flying back to Cape Town. We waited a bit, because a group of women (that we met in the Solitaire gas station) got ahead of us and they were like 10 women who were escorting a famous woman from Africa, from some country neighbouring Namibia. We got a little desperate seeing how they got into the line, justifying that they were a group.

Our room

Well, we did our tests and went back to rest in the hotel pool. We were very lucky to have two rooms on the garden side, facing the terrace. The holidays were coming to an end and soon we would be back with our pets Chica and Lola.

Dinner al fresco

We dined with a formidable view of the city. The heat had subsided and there was a delicious breeze blowing. The feeling of the castle was there and the rooms also had that touch of charm.

Windhoek by night

Shopping Center and a German Restaurant

Grove Mall

The next morning, our plans weren't many. My husband would have a work visit to a veterinarian and my daughters and I would visit the largest shopping center in Windhoek. Back to school was just around the corner and I had to find some things for school.

A very german architecture

We got up and quietly enjoyed breakfast on that magnificent terrace of the hotel. Without haste we get ready and drive to the Grove Mall.

We stayed there until after two in the afternoon. My husband arrived and we went to eat at the Rocco Mamas Burger Restaurant, a chain that we met in South Africa. Well, apparently in Namibia many products are imported from South Africa and the stores in the shopping center were the same as we know in Cape Town.

And the test that did not arrive

Having fun at the
german restaurant

We did not receive any results of the covid test by email, we drove back to the clinic to ask for the result. Sure enough, someone had made a mistake in our data, but fortunately we were negative and we could travel by plane back home.

The vacation routine returned and we spent a very pleasant afternoon in the hotel pool. In the evening we would go to dinner at the famous German restaurant Joe's Beer Garden. The best decision we would have made.

The restaurant seats about 600 people. So it was not a problem to find a table, because in times of Covid, tourists are scarce. The place was packed with locals and some German tourists and us of course.

Back home with 

My husband was happy because I tried a typical German sausage with French fries and salad. He had a a chicken Cordon Bleu.

And that's how our vacation ended. The next morning, we had a leisurely breakfast and flew with Airlink, the South African airline, without any problem. Thank you very much for reading me. My next story will be about our vacation in the famous Kruger Park. Until next time!

domingo, 27 de febrero de 2022

Smelling like a seal: Cape Cross

Hello, I'm still with the story of Namibia. This time to tell you about a very interesting place near Swakopmund, Cape Cross, the paradise of the seals. We traveled by car from the Strand Hotel. It took us an hour and a half to get there. The tour was along the coast and the desert. On the way we try to pause to contemplate the sunken ship. But we couldn't even get out of the car, because immediately the crystal sellers came out of their hiding places to show us their treasures. A car in front of us was his object of attention, and we decided instead to continue the journey towards the seals. But we took nice photos from the window. 

The paradise of precious stones 

Namibia is famous for having precious crystals. On our way back, my daughter bought a Rose Quartz crystal. Obviously there were no vendors. Only tables exhibiting the pieces. The tourist could pay by depositing the money in a small metal box that nobody could move because it was fixed to the metal table. Good method. Although everyone can take them without paying. We arrived at the park entrance. The tourist is greeted by two metal seals. The door leading to the sanctuary. We saw few tourists on the way. We were really only two families and they were already finishing the tour of the beach. Cape Cross harbours around seals. The sanctuary is protected and you have to pay the entrance at the booth near the beach. 

 80,000 t0 100, 000 of Seals 

The first impression when seeing them is surprising. It wasn't cold but I put on a cap so the wind wouldn't ruin my hairstyle. It was a sunny day and the seals' skin shone with its natural oil. Your protection against the cold. The shock of the visit was seeing dead seals on the sand. Few adults, but many babies that did not survive their journey to predatory gulls or other adults that crushed them. But it was so nice to hear them calling their moms as they moved on the beach! On certain parts of the road, seals could get through. The fence was open, but they didn't do anything to us. 

When somebody knows were you went just by smelling  you!

Many of them were under the raised wooden path, sheltering from the sun. On leaving, right at the entrance, a group of seals had landed, making it impossible for us to cross. My husband and daughters got through with no problem, but one of them got mad at me when I ran away. But it was more his laziness to get up than the trouble I gave him. We get back in the car and find our way to the Fish Corner restaurant at Hentiesbaai. A seafood and fish restaurant. When the waitress showed us to the table, she immediately asked us: Did you visit Cape Cross, right? The smell of seal gave us away. 

Luckily our table was outside and almost all the diners had left or were paying. I ate fish cakes. My eldest daughter spaghetti, the youngest and my husband fish and chips. Back at the hotel, the first thing we did was take a shower. When we were ready, we went for a walk along the boardwalk and then had dinner at a typical tourist restaurant, nothing special. The next morning the journey would continue to Windhoek. The last station before returning to Cape Town. I will continue this story next time. Thanks for reading me!