Monthly Archives: October 2015

South Africa – Safari drives, Elephant interaction and leopard search (day 11)

by Debbie Ross
founder of the Womens Travel

Our discovery of Africa’s Big 5 and more continued on game drives today.
Some of the group took part in an Elephant Interaction session. Amazing!

Another early morning start as the sun rises over the trees. The first animals to greet us are Zebra, Red billed horn bill, Nyala (male and female), wart hog and then there were lions. Eight males lions were them lounging on the road way, slowly waking up for their morning hunt.  We were very close, no one moves as we watch in silence.

South Africa October 2015 1712South Africa October 2015 1714South Africa October 2015 1718 South Africa October 2015 1719South Africa October 2015 1722South Africa October 2015 1725 South Africa October 2015 1726South Africa October 2015 1731South Africa October 2015 1733

South Africa October 2015 1736

South Africa October 2015 1743

We continue along the roadway spotting colourful birds and hippos lounging in the water hole. Time for a coffee break.  John wants to test out the tracker seat. He decides it’s not the place he wants to be, it’s just a little to close to the lions.

South Africa October 2015 1756South Africa October 2015 1761South Africa October 2015 1765South Africa October 2015 1762South Africa October 2015 1768

South Africa October 2015 1771South Africa October 2015 1773

We head back to the hippo water hole to see if they are out of the water.  They are a little more visible and so is a great big crocodile. A giraffe watches us from the safety of the trees. Further along the road we came across bones left over from a lions meal. Just a short distance from our lodge we are stopped by a large herd of about 200 cape buffalo crossing the road.

South Africa October 2015 1778South Africa October 2015 1776South Africa October 2015 1777South Africa October 2015 1784South Africa October 2015 1788

South Africa October 2015 1794South Africa October 2015 1800

Back to the lodge for another hearty breakfast. My clothes are getting tight. I wonder why!  Mid morning our driver guides take us to the Elephant Sanctuary.  On the way we saw some wildebeest, giraffe and there are a few warthogs hanging around the sanctuary.

South Africa October 2015 1807South Africa October 2015 1809South Africa October 2015 1811South Africa October 2015 1814

The Elephant Sanctuary is home to 14 rescued elephants.  The first one we met is 19 year old Jubulani who was rescued as a young calf when she was stuck in a mud hole.  Next up was baby  Mumbo who could hardly contain his excitement in meeting the people.  We were able to touch the elephants, feel their rough skin and their smooth ivory tusks. The handlers gave us pellets to feed to the elephants.  It was such a thrill to be so close to these very large, majestic creatures. The elephants are free to roam the park but they choose to stay near the sanctuary where they know they are well fed and protected.

South Africa October 2015 1880South Africa October 2015 1845South Africa October 2015 1853South Africa October 2015 1866South Africa October 2015 1875South Africa October 2015 1881

Back at the lodge we enjoyed a delicious lunch in the spacious dining room.  The monkey’s eagerly watch for patrons to leave their table, then they swoop in and steal the leftovers.  Today we relaxed by the pool, enjoyed spa treatments and kept cool. It’s another hot day, close to 40 degrees celcius.

South Africa October 2015 1888South Africa October 2015 1890South Africa October 2015 1895

Late afternoon I headed back to my room to get ready for the evening safari drive.  I heard a trumpet sound and went out to the balcony to see what was out side of my room. To my delight it was a pack of elephants.  I watched in awe as they walked across the savannah, stopping to graze in the trees.  What a thrill!

South Africa October 2015 1899

Back in the jeeps we head out for our evening game drive. along the way we see buffalo, jackal, horn bill, a large termite mound and a giraffe skeleton and skin.  Eventually the skin will be eaten, as the rains come and soften the skin the scavengers enjoy another meal. We come across a family of about 50 baboons, Nyala and Zebra.

South Africa October 2015 1903South Africa October 2015 1905South Africa October 2015 1907 South Africa October 2015 1908South Africa October 2015 1910 South Africa October 2015 1911 South Africa October 2015 1912

South Africa October 2015 1918 South Africa October 2015 1919South Africa October 2015 1922

South Africa October 2015 1915South Africa October 2015 1927

We head over to a water hole which is always a sure place to spot some wildlife. This evening there’s a family of hippos and one has baby by her side.  Our drive cruises along the waters edge to try and get a closer look.  There are buffalo vultures, a buffalo skeleton, vervet monkeys and a boom snake hanging in the tree.

South Africa October 2015 1940South Africa October 2015 1941South Africa October 2015 1937South Africa October 2015 1938

South Africa October 2015 1929 South Africa October 2015 1930 South Africa October 2015 1931

South Africa October 2015 1943South Africa October 2015 1949South Africa October 2015 1951

Time for a sundowner. We get out of the jeep to stretch our legs, enjoy a cocktail and admire the spectacular view of the sun setting behind the mountains.  It’s so peaceful.

South Africa October 2015 1955South Africa October 2015 1957South Africa October 2015 1958South Africa October 2015 1963Darkness has fallen. As we begin our drive back to the toward the lodge John gets radio message that someone has spotted a leopard.  He quickly drove to the location and goes off road to hunt down the elusive leopard. He takes us on a 4 wheel journey through the long grasses, over logs, rocks and dried up river beds.  What a thrill.  Unfortunately we did not spot the leopard but we did see a bush baby. They are nocturnal so can only be seen at night. Perhaps we’ll see the leopard tomorrow.

South Africa October 2015 1968 South Africa October 2015 1969

Accommodation: Kampama Lodge, Kruger National Park


South Africa – Safari and Bush Walk! (day 10)

by Debbie Ross
founder of the Womens Travel

This area supports the greatest variety of wildlife species anywhere in Africa. We spent two full days enjoying safaris at the lodge. Our days start very early with a 5.30am morning game drive with coffee and tea served in the bush. Game drives are in 9 passenger open Land Rover type vehicles. We’re back for a hearty breakfast around 9.00am. Later in the morning one of the Lodge naturalists took us on an Interpretive Bush Walk. Lunch is served on the wooden viewing deck so we don’t miss a thing! The afternoon was free to relax or take advantage of the lodge’s Wellness Centre. After high tea, we’re out again in the late afternoon for a second game drive at 430pm,  We enjoyed  Sundowners,  sipping cocktails in the bush, watching the sun set.

The group was excited about our morning drive.  Everyone settled into the jeep and driver guide John headed off to show us the sights.  Frist stop was a watering hole which is usually pretty active in the morning.  We came across some gazelles and a large herd of cape buffalo. After a long night of being on guard against predators the animals relax and enjoy their breakfast.  The giraffe, warthogs and bush buck pause for a moment to watch us drive by.

South Africa October 2015 1473South Africa October 2015 1483South Africa October 2015 1505

South Africa October 2015 1526South Africa October 2015 1532South Africa October 2015 1574

After driving for a while we met up with the rest of our group and stopped to stretch our legs and enjoy a coffee break.  Our trackers serve up some coffee, tea, hot chocolate and biscuits.   Thankfully there are no lions nearby,

South Africa October 2015 1539South Africa October 2015 1536

Continuing our drive we came across a hippo.  She was a bit too shy to come out of the water and they must stay under water during the day to protect their delicate skin from the sun. The bush buks, cape buffalo and zebra was quietly grazing on the sparse grasses and trees.

South Africa October 2015 1549


South Africa October 2015 1556South Africa October 2015 1565South Africa October 2015 1583

We returned to the lodge around 9am, just in time for a hearty breakfast.  The food at the lodge is plentiful and delicious.  Guide John has offered to take some of us on a bush walk.  Before heading our he briefed us on the need to walk in single file, be very quiet and if we wanted his attention to slap our thigh.  John carries a rifle just in case we were to come across one of the big five as they might be aggressive towards a person on foot.  Our walk was very informative, John pointed out various plants used for medicine, beautiful birds, dens carved into old termite mounds, he taught us how to identify which animal belongs to the various dung. This one belongs to the cape buffalo.  It was a fresh one so we knew they must be nearby.  As we continued our walk we came across two cape buffalo resting under a bush away from the noon heat.  It’s 37 degrees celcius today. The animals are seeking out the shade to keep cool. The buffalo spotted us. As they stood up I could feel fear trickle through my body.  John put plan A into action and instructed us to back away and walk in the other direction with guide Freedom while he warded off the buffalo.  Fortunately a few loud yells was all that was required and no guns were involved.  We were quite happy to head back to the safety of lodge after our exciting encounter with the buffalo.

South Africa October 2015 1584

South Africa October 2015 1601

South Africa October 2015 1589 South Africa October 2015 1591 South Africa October 2015 1590South Africa October 2015 1595South Africa October 2015 1599South Africa October 2015 1598South Africa October 2015 1600

After a delectable lunch everyone found a quiet spot to relax and unwind. Some went to the gym, others swam and laid by the pool overlooking the watering hole and others enjoyed a relaxing massage or facial at the deluxe onsite spa. Those at the spa pool had the pleasure of viewing elephants, buffalo, gazelle and giraffes come to the water hole for a drink.

4pm afternoon tea is served then it’s back into our jeeps for an evening game drive.  This evening we are in search of elephants and leopard.  It’s quite amazing how close we are to the animals.  The giraffe and zebra ignore us and continue grazing, they know we are no threat to them.

South Africa October 2015 1604South Africa October 2015 1608

John recieves a radio message informing him there are rhinos in the area.  We drive towards the site where they were spotted and to our surprise there is not the usual 2 rhinos, there are 5 male rhinos travelling toghether.  We stop on the road and watch as these massive animals walk towards us and the other jeep follows along behind them.  It’s exciting and a little nerve racking as they pass by our jeep with only a few feet between us and them.  We quietly take in this incredible sight and snap photos of this spectacle.

South Africa October 2015 1613South Africa October 2015 1616South Africa October 2015 1621 South Africa October 2015 1622 South Africa October 2015 1623 South Africa October 2015 1624South Africa October 2015 1627

Our evening drive continues.  We came across an area where the trees are knocked down and roots ripped right out of the ground. Guide John tells us this is destruction is caused by the elephants. It’s like they knock down anything in their path.  They use the trees as scratch posts, as their massive body rub against the trees they break the branches and topple the trees.  Vultures sit on the tops of the broken trees, gazelle meander around the broken branches, guinea fowl scamper in the distance and the sun sets behind the trees.

South Africa October 2015 1645South Africa October 2015 1640South Africa October 2015 1658South Africa October 2015 1654

On our search for the elephants we came across some lions dining on a fresh kill.  To our delight there is a mother cat with her 3 cubs. The cubs are playful and inquisitive at some times we felt too much so as they headed toward our jeep.  We feared their mother might come after us in order to protect her cubs. Mother lion called out to her cubs and layed down to allow them to nurse.  A large male lion was sound asleep just off to the side, he obviously already had his meal of the day.

South Africa October 2015 1664South Africa October 2015 1665 South Africa October 2015 1666 South Africa October 2015 1667South Africa October 2015 1670South Africa October 2015 1676South Africa October 2015 1678

What a treat that was to see a family of lions. The cubs were adorable!  As dusk sets in we turn our jeep around and head back to the lodge. To our surprise we came across a herd of elephants walking down the road towards us.  There were large ones, medium ones and little baby elephants. What a treat for us to watch these animals enjoying their dinner tree leaves and grasses.  We sat quietly as these majestic animals pass us by.  I still can’t get over how close the animals get to us and  without giving us a second glance they continue on as if we aren’t even there.After all that excitement we decided to stop for a sundowner in the bush. Our guides brought out the wine and beer and we enjoyed a cool drink as we discussed the exciting events that unfolded in front of our eyes. The sun has set and the sky glowed a soft pink, orange hugh. Soon the stars would be out.

South Africa October 2015 1679South Africa October 2015 1680South Africa October 2015 1684South Africa October 2015 1690South Africa October 2015 1693 South Africa October 2015 1694South Africa October 2015 1698 South Africa October 2015 1699

South Africa October 2015 1704 South Africa October 2015 1705

Time to head back to the lodge.  Night has fallen upon us and it’s become very diffcult to see.  Fani’s spot light picks up a servel cat in the bushes.  They are shy and difficult to capture on the camera.  Back at the lodge we head straight to dinner for another fabulous feast then off to bed to rest up for tomorrows early morning game drive.

South Africa October 2015 1710South Africa October 2015 1708South Africa October 2015 1711

Another fabulous day!

Accommodation: Kampama River Lodge, Kruger National Park

South Africa – fly to Hoedspruit, our first Safari at Kruger National Park (day 9)

by Debbie Ross
founder of the Womens Travel

This morning we flew from Port Elizabeth to Hoedspruit via Johannesburg.  Our bags are a little heavy and won’t meet the strick luggage rules of a maximmum 20 kilos for 1 checked bag. Fortunately EMS has arranged for an agent to meet us in Johannesburg to take some of our bags and store them until our departure home.  This has been a great help.  EMS is a wonderful company and such a pleasure to work with.
Upon arrival in Hoedspruit, our driver guides were waiting with open air 9 seater Jeeps to transfer us to the Kapama River Lodge, located within the largest reserve in Kruger National Park.  On the way to the lodge we spotted Giraffe, Zebra, Wart Hogs, Gazelles and Wildebeest. Everyone was quite excited and looking forward to their first game drive of the day.  We checked into our luxurious rooms which overlook the savannah.  There is evidence of animal tracks and droppings so we know the animals might come by our rooms. How exciting!
We spotted a gazelle just outside of the main lobby area. After freshening up we headed to the restaurant for afternoon tea which consisted of sandwiches, cakes, teas, soft drinks.  This was to hold us over till dinner. Our first game drive started at 4:30 pm and finished at 8:30 pm.

South Africa October 2015 1310South Africa October 2015 1315South Africa October 2015 1316South Africa October 2015 1323 South Africa October 2015 1324 South Africa October 2015 1325 South Africa October 2015 1326 South Africa October 2015 1327

We had two jeeps for our group of 18. Our highly trained driver guide John and tracker Fanni in the first truck and driver guide Freedom and his tracker in the second truck. They took us on our first game drive in search of the Big 5; Lion, Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Rhinoceros and Leopard.  It was an exciting drive. Our guide pointed out the various animals we came across; Gazelle, colourful birds taking a ride on a zebra, yellow billed horn bill or better known as the flying banana, bush buck and a zebra so close you could almost touch it.

South Africa October 2015 1333South Africa October 2015 1336

South Africa October 2015 1342South Africa October 2015 1350South Africa October 2015 1354South Africa October 2015 1360South Africa October 2015 1368

South Africa October 2015 1375

They drove us past the honeymoon suite.  A structure with a removable ladder that takes you up to the bedroom which is an open air platform with a bed.  I don’t think anyone in our crowd wanted to sleep out in the middle of nowhere. This suite is for the brave ones that want to be totally immersed in the safari experience.

South Africa October 2015 1358

We spotted a jackal and vultures in the sky above us, which indicates their must be a fresh kill nearby. As we drove a little further we came across a pack of restless lions that were aware the scavengers were interested in their meal.

South Africa October 2015 1399South Africa October 2015 1423South Africa October 2015 1413South Africa October 2015 1419We followed behind the lions along the dusty roads and through the bumpy grasslands to the spot of their recent kill. In total there were 8 lions feasting on the remains or lounging with full bellies.  What a site to behold.  The lions walked freely around our Jeeps without even giving any notice to the fact that we were there.  It was both exciting and frightening at the same time. One wrong move and we could be the lions next meal.

South Africa October 2015 1433South Africa October 2015 1438 South Africa October 2015 1443 South Africa October 2015 1453 South Africa October 2015 1451

As the sun was setting and darkness came upon us the tracker turned on a spot light so they could see the animals that might ahead of us. We spotted a hyena den and drove in to take a look. It was quite dark so it was difficult to see the hyenas but you could hear the pups yipping in the distance.

South Africa October 2015 1396

South Africa October 2015 1463 South Africa October 2015 1465 South Africa October 2015 1467

We headed back to the lodge, arriving  just after 8:30pm. This gave us just enough time to tidy up before our 9pm dinner.  The dinner is a fantastic spread of salads, various hot dishes, a selection of barbecued meats, fish and delectable desserts.

Accommodation: Kapama River Lodge

South Africa – Monkey Land, Birds of Eden, Tstisikamma Park and drive to Port Elizabeth (day 8)

by Debbie Ross
founder of the Womens Travel

We continue our drive along the Garden Route today travelling first to Pletenburg Bay for a view of the Indian Ocean coastline. This area is a popular vacation spot for South Africans. During the busy holidya season there can be up to 80,000 people here. It’s one of the richest municipalities in South Africa and it’s quite evident with the many mansions on the beach.  Usually you can spot various whale species in the bay, unfortunately none are present today.

South Africa October 2015 1006South Africa October 2015 1015South Africa October 2015 1008Our next stop was a visit of Monkeyland and Birds of Eden.
Monkelyland has many species of monkey and ape roam the forest as part of the rehabilitation efforts of the facility and the Bird sanctuary is the largest free flight aviary in the world.

WOW!  Monkeyland was quite the experience.
We walked through a forest that was home to a wide variety of active, noisy and entertaining monkeys.  They hung from the trees,babies clung to their mothers as they jumped effortlessly from branch to branch and luckily we were just in time to watch them eating their breakfast, Some were intrigued by us but most ignored us and went about their monkey business of eating, playing and wrestling with each other.

South Africa October 2015 1025 South Africa October 2015 1026South Africa October 2015 1043
South Africa October 2015 1050South Africa October 2015 1060

South Africa October 2015 1069South Africa October 2015 1076South Africa October 2015 1080South Africa October 2015 1083

South Africa October 2015 1100

South Africa October 2015 1036South Africa October 2015 1059South Africa October 2015 1075South Africa October 2015 1092

The Birds of Eden is not just about the birds, it’s also a tropical paradise with a path that winds through colourful gardens, streams and waterfalls.  The birds are free flying and many whoosh by your head as they land on the rails and feeding beds.  It’s quite a sight to see.  There are many types birds from all over the world, their songs are like music to the ears and their colours pleasing to the eye. This was a feast for the senses.
On our way out of the park we spotted a family of baboons roaming freely.

South Africa October 2015 1111South Africa October 2015 1114South Africa October 2015 1119South Africa October 2015 1121South Africa October 2015 1124South Africa October 2015 1132South Africa October 2015 1146 South Africa October 2015 1147South Africa October 2015 1151South Africa October 2015 1161South Africa October 2015 1166South Africa October 2015 1175South Africa October 2015 1180South Africa October 2015 1182South Africa October 2015 1187South Africa October 2015 1204

South Africa October 2015 1213South Africa October 2015 1217 South Africa October 2015 1218South Africa October 2015 1220South Africa October 2015 1226South Africa October 2015 1234 South Africa October 2015 1235 South Africa October 2015 1236 South Africa October 2015 1237South Africa October 2015 1244South Africa October 2015 1246South Africa October 2015 1250South Africa October 2015 1252South Africa October 2015 1258

Our drive continued along the forested road way to our next stop, the largest bungy jumping bridge in the world.  We took a quick break to view some brace people take the leap of faith into the canyon below.  Their screams echoed throughout the canyon.

South Africa October 2015 1264

South Africa October 2015 1265

We continued on to the  Tsitsikamma National Park, Africa’s largest marine reserve. On this day the sea was wild with the winds whipping the waves into a rolling frenzy of white caps.  What a sight to behold.  After enjoying a picnic lunch we had free time to hike the coastal path or relax and enjoy the fantastic scenery.

South Africa October 2015 1282 South Africa October 2015 1283South Africa October 2015 1287South Africa October 2015 1290South Africa October 2015 1298

We continued our drive to our final destination of the day, Port Elizabeth.  The wind was still quite strong, there were big white caps on the ocean and the sand and water was blowing across the road.  It made it hard to walk.  Once settled into our hotel we relaxed and enjoyed a fabulous dinner at Tabu Grill located in hotel. We had an early start the next day as we had to catch a plane to Hoedspruit.  Tomorrow we will be enjoying our first safari game drive.

Accomodation: Radisson Blu Hotel, Port Elizabeth

South Africa – Hiking at the Featherbed Nature Reserve, Knysna (day 7)

by Debbie Ross
founder of the Womens Travel

A short ferry trip took us to the private Featherbed Nature Reservve. This pristine piece of paradise is situated on the western head of Knysna. Our tour included a drive in a 4×4 vehicles to the top of the head for magnificent views and a guided nature walk though coastal forest and fynbos into the Khoi-Khoi caves to learn about the history and ecology of the reserve.

Walking sticks in hand we boarded the 4×4’s that took us to the top of the reserve overlooking the harbour and the Indian Ocean.  Most of us took the hike back down to the base of the reserve.  The walk took about an hour and the path wound through the spectacular forest which was home to beautiful birds, flowering bushes, oversized eucalyptus plants to name a few.  The scenery was spectacular and around each bend in the path we caught glimpses of  the rocky coastline of the Indian ocean. There were side paths that lead to the point where the view of the ocean was absolutely magnificent.

South Africa October 2015 890

South Africa October 2015 920

South Africa October 2015 946 South Africa October 2015 947

South Africa October 2015 955 South Africa October 2015 956South Africa October 2015 959South Africa October 2015 969South Africa October 2015 977South Africa October 2015 985South Africa October 2015 993

South Africa October 2015 972

We worked up quite an appetite during our hike. We happily enjoyed a tasty lunch at the reserve.  South African’s always serve up an incredible meal with an array of delicious salads, barbecued meats, starches and very tasty desserts.   Upon arrival back at the dock we were greeted by some local business women waiting to sell us there handicrafts. The people here are delightful and our group is happy to purchase some of the items to help support the local economy.

South Africa October 2015 1001South Africa October 2015 1003

Dinner this evening at 34* South Restaurant, Knysna

The weather is warm and delightful, we are happy to be dining outdoors.

Accommodation: Knysna Log-Inn

South Africa – Cango Caves, Ostrich Farm and drive to Knysna (day 6)

by Debbie Ross
founder of the Womens Travel

Our drive continues along the lovely Garden Route.   En route we stopped at the head of the picturesque Cango Valley to visit the underground wonder of the Klein Karoo – the Cango Caves.  Situated in a limestone ridge, these caverns are famed for their vast halls and towering dripstone formations. Up until a few years ago they used to hold concerts inside the caves. There’s a natural stage and the acoustics are incredible. The towering stalagties and massive stalamites are very impressive.  Some formations have been given names such as the organ pipes, Cleopatras needle, leaning tower of pisa and the honeymoo suite. One , when tapped with your hand sounded like a drum.






Our next stop was the Ostrich farm. This industy is a thriving industry in Oudstshoorn and has been form many decades.  \\\It is known as the Ostrich capital of the world since 1885.  Today they sell the feathers, meat and skins to make purses, hats, furnitures.  The skin is what brings in the most money. They are very interesting looking birds and from what we are told, very nasty.  The male is black and the females are grey.



We toured the farm to see how they  raise the birds and to view the various types. We held an egg and it was surprising how heavy thye are. One egg the equivilant of two  dozen chicken eggs.  The egss are strong you can stand on them and they won’t break.. The braves ones sfed some of the birds and some even sat on one. The handlers rode the birds in a race.  They are very fast. After the tour we enjoyed a delicious lunch with barbequed ostrich and a variety of salads.





We boarded the bus and continued our journey along the Garden Route , up into the mountains The visibility was poor as  we drove through the clouds. At the bottom of the mountains we finaly had a view of the second ocean at the tip of this country. We are now at the Indian Ocean. We continued our drive on to the town of Knysna. This area is the largest in South Africa with the most indegenious trees. The scenery is wonderful.

South Africa October 2015 845


Dinner this evening was at Drydock Restaurant ,  Accommodation:  Knysna Log-Inn, Knysna

After checking into our hotel we took a stroll to the Knysna Waterfront. This area has shops and restaurants and is located on the harbour.  Once again, dinner was fabulous.

South Africa October 2015 873 South Africa October 2015 874


South Africa – drive from Capetown to Oudtshoorn (day 5)

by Debbie Ross
founder of the Womens Travel

After breakfast we started our journey along the Garden Route. We had a late start as  Elias had to tke the bus to the depot to get the air conditoning fixed. Unfortunately it stopped working after the first hour and then when started having problems with the radiator.  Tour guide John called the tour company to arrange for a new bus for the following day. In the meantime we prayed the bus would make it through the winding mountin roads



The itinerary had to be changed to allow for lost time. We cancelled lunch at the ostrich farm and booked a lunch stop at the the Country Pumpkin in the town of own of Berrytale. The lunch was delicious and there was a great craft store across the road. There was also a wine and biltomg shop attached to the restaurant and some of us enjoyed tasting the dried meats and amarula.  We also purchased some local wines. The town was located on the famous route 62, siilar to our route 66 in north america.



The scenery aling the way was stunning. We drove through one of the largest wine growing and fruit growingareas of south africa.  Then we headed into the rocky mountians with colourful rock of red, green, grey and rustybrown. There were wild fllowers and colourful shubs and bushes growing out of the rocks.



We rolled into Oudtshoorn 530pm and checked in to the charming Turnberry boutique hotel. our rooms were very charming. Some of the ladies had a cocktail party the garden area out front of one of the rooms. A great way to destress after a long drive.



Dinner this evening was a typcial backyard babeque held on the patio, the ambiance was wonderfuland the warm weather delightful. The barbequed meats were fabulous and they had a delicious array af salads. Now that we were away from the cape the weaher is much warmer. What a pelasant chang from cool and damp. Sadly we had to say goodbye to our driverElias.  We will miss him. He is taking the broknenoach back to Capetown.  Our new driver Samuel has arrived with our luury coach.Tomorrow our ride will be much smoother.





Our accommodation: Turnberry Boutiique Hotel, Oudtshoorn

South Africa – Cape of good hope and jackass penguins

by Debbie Ross
founder of the Womens Travel

Today we explored the gorgeous scenery around the Cape. We started off with a scenic drive along the Atlantic coast to the fishing village of Hout Bay then continued to Chapman’s Peak along a spectacular coastal route that hugs the Atlantic coastline for a breathtaking nine kilometres.
We visited the famous Cape of Good Hope in Table Mountain National Park. The park boasts a rich biodiversity of life  with over a thousand species of fynbos, 250 species of birds, as well as antelope, baboons and zebra.  We  took  a ride on the ‘Flying Dutchman’ funicular to the old lighthouse overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. This point gave us spectacular ocean views. At Boulder’s Beach we’ saw hordes of Jackass penguins waddling freely among us as we strolled the white beaches.
We enjoyed a delicious lunch at Two Oceans Restaurant, Cape Point

This ws a very full day. Our first stop was Table Mountain. Finally we have a clear day and are able to take the cable car up to the top for the world renowned view of Capetown and the Atlantic ocean. Once at the top we all said how greatful we were that the clouds fially cleared, The spectacular view was worth the wait. On top of the mountain we took a 1 kil. hike to take in the view from all vantage points,  the wildlife of birds and hirx tht cling to the end of the rock cliffs, and magnificent flowering shrubs andan arry of delicate wild flowers.










Our next stop was the scenic fishing village of Haute Bay. We boarded a boat and headed out to seal island. What an amazing sight, thousands of seals playing in the water and basking in the sun.




We continued our drive along the winding roads of Haute Bay towards the scenic Atlantic coast. The whie sand beach stretched for miles, what a sight to behold. We stopped to view a family of baboons foragngn for food. A little further  down the road we spotted a wild ostrich and some Bonte Bok.  We entered Table Mountain National Park , the landscape is rugged and the flowering shrubs and wild flowers are abundat, it’s so colourful. lunh today was at the Two Oceans Restaurant over looking the bay. The view is magnifcent and the lunch delicious. After lunch we took the funicular up to the peak to take in the view. Word’s cannot describe the incredible view. From up top you can see beaches, mountains and we een spotted a whale swimming along the coastline.  Some of the group decided to take the tril down to the beach, the others took the funicular and bus back down.





P1060561The funicular took us to the top where we admired the view of white sand beaches and rolling surf. We even spotted a whale.  On our hike we watched surfers catch the waves, took in the beauty of the wild flowes and enjoyed the view from the peak of the Cape of Good Hope, It felt like we were at the top of the world and the view was magnificent.











Our last stop of this full, busy day was boulder beach to see the jack ass penguins. The name is given due to the fact they wound like donkeys or jacke asses when they call their mates.  The are so little, cute and very affectionate towards their mate. A great day was had by all.




South Africa – Robben Island and Victoria & Albert Waterfront (day 3)

by Debbie Ross
founder of The Womens Travel

This morning we travelled by public ferry to Robben Island. The famous island, whose prison was once home to former South African president Nelson Mandela as well as many other black political freedom fighters. It’s now a World Heritage Site and provides stunning views across the bay with Table Mountain as its backdrop. A trip to the island is an unforgettable experience and offers a glimpse into the life and times of the apartheid era.


Thankfully it’s warmer today and the harbour is reasonably calm. We still can’t see the top of table mountain. Hopefully the last little bit of clouds will blow over and show us the majestic table top mountain.

Upon arrival we were met by Sparks, an ex inmate who is now happy to share his story about what life was like living in the prison. The coloured inmates were segregated and up to 60 political prisoners were housed in this one small room. They were given 2 blankets which was their bed and they wore shorts and a meager shirt. No shoes.  The conditions were horrific.  They had minimal food rations and worked physically hard in the sandstone quarries.  Sparks was at Robben Island the same time as Nelson Mandela.





Mandela was in a different cell block where he had a prviate cell.  The cell consisted of a blanket for a bed and a bucket as a toilet.  Each morning the inmates had to take their buckets to another cell block to dump it and then out to the courtyard for their food and then off to the quarry. Mandela spent 18 years in this prison. Mandela created a garden in the courtyard where he and his cell block members spent their time. It was in this garden that he hid his manusript for his book “The road to Freedom”. The guards found his manuscript and destroyed it. Thankfully he copied the pages and sent them out of the prison with inmates that were being released otherise his book never would have made it to print. The quarry played a significant role in the lives of the inmates, they would teach each other how to read and write in the dust. Mandela helped many people to become literate. After 1966 the inmates and guards were permitted to learn. Many left the island with 2 and 3 university degrees, including the current president of Sotuh Africa.


Tje island has a very long history of housing people in exile, 200 years ago it was a leper colony and in more recent years there was an lunatic asylum on the island.. Over the years wildlife was introduced, it is now home to  over 200 cats and there are 129 bird species. There are a few churches, homes where the prison guards used to live and a stately home that housed the govenor in the 1800’s.


The rugged coastline is beautifl and the view across the harbour is magnificent the city of Capetown and tabletop mountain. The clouds have clearaed enough to finally give us a glimpse of the mountain.



The afternoon was at our leisure to enjoy the lovely waterfront setting. Still a working harbour, the waterfront is an example of creative architecture and restoration and has become South Africa’s most visited tourist attraction. There are a myriad of shops and cafes here, as well as the Two Oceans Aquarium.
Dinner this evening was at City Grill Restaurant located at the Victoria & Albert Waterfront inCapetown.Once again the food was delicious. I had the line fish, or as e would call it, th catch of the day.Fresh hake, grilled to perfection. The food in Capetown is fabulous!


South Africa – discovering the Winelands (day 2)

by Debbie Ross
Womens Travel Network founder

While South Africa’s fertile valleys are world famous for their wines, the area is also a treasury of rustic beauty and sprawling estates shaded by giant oak trees.  Our drive today will took us along the wine route, starting with the rolling vineyards of Paarl. Wel continued to the beautiful village of Franschhoek, near the Drakenstein Mountains and onward to Stellenbosch, the historic heart of the country’s wine region. Along the way, we enjoyed wine tastings at local vineyards and a fabulous lunch at Lord Neethling Restaurant in Stellebosch. The restaurant is located on the Neelthlingshof Wine Estate which dates back to the 1705 .
The weather is cool and damp again on the cape so we are happy to head inland where it is armer. Our first stop was at the statue of Nelson Mandela, located in front of the minimum security prison where he spent the lat 5 years of his incarceration and in front of the long road where he walked to his freedom.


Next stop, the charming town of Franschoek to browsethe shops and as tour guide John Mason says, for a little retail therarpy. The scenery is stunning with many vineyards and the dramatic back drop of the mountains, some with the clouds covering the tips. The sun is shining and it’s so nice to feel the warmth. A pleasant change from the cool dampness of Capetown.


It’s almost noon, time for our firstwine tasting at Grand Provence Winery. The gardens are fabulous with many beautiful statues. Our favourite is the massive elephant at the front gate. The wines are fabulous, Our tating was set in the garden where we tasted a chenin blanc, a rose, a pinot noir and a shiraz. The wines are so inexpensive, a nice bottle of shiraz is only $8.00. Inbelievable



Our next stop was the university town of Stellenbosch. Here we had some free time to take a stroll through the lovely streets and browse the shops. Then back on the bus to head for Neethlingshof, a private wine estate. The long drieway I sopped to watch a lady spinning raw silk for the scarfs she was making. was lined with spectacular trees and the hillsides were lined with vines. We enjoyed a fabulous lunch in the charming cape dutch style home. I had a very tasty kingklip fish.  After lunch we headed into the tasting room to enjoy 5 fabulous wines. Sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, shiraz, caraal and my favourite a pinotage. This is a south african creation and absolutely declisious.




After a fantastic lunch and wine tasting we board the bus and head to Anuran winery for our final wine tasting of the day. Each winery we visited is very different and charming in their own way. This tasting room was very inviting and the wines delectble. We tasted 5 wines and a port.  They have agreed not to call it port, they refer to it as cape ruby. Our tastings were a sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, rose, pinotage, melbec and cape ruby.  We’ve had more than our share of fine South African wines today. It’s time to take a scenic ride back to theCommodore hotel to freshen up for dinner.. Some chose to have a quiet evening at the hotel and 11 of us tookthe 10 minute walkto the lively waterfront. Here we had a fantastic seafood meal at the well known Baia restaurant. What a great way to end a fabulous day!