My travel report
Impressions from the Cape – Part 1
Summary and Conclusion
By Ralph Kratzer
After about 30 hours travelling in an open safari jeep, two coaches, three planes, four airports and a taxi, we arrived back from our trip to South Africa, exhausted but happy, and had again the soil of Northern Cyprus under our feet.
As I’m different from other people (at least according to my partner Sarah) I start my travel report with the summary, and the summary I start with the conclusion from the trip.
The conclusion is summarized in a few words: WE MUST SEE IT AGAIN!
In the spring of next year I will celebrate a milestone birthday. Actually, on this occasion I wanted to travel on the world famous Route 66 in the United States together with Sarah. As a decades-long enthusiastic motorcyclist I thought I should have this on my bucket list. But as so often in life, things come differently to the way they are planned.
We both were so impressed and excited about our trip from Cape Town (Western Cape) to Port Elizabeth (Eastern Cape), that we spontaneously decided to spend the next winter in South Africa. Why? Firstly, there is the weather. When north of the Equator winter prevails, south of it is summer. Now some may say, this guy lives in Cyprus, it can not yet be too bad with the winter there. Compared to central and northern Europe that’s of course true, but winter in Cyprus can sometimes be quite nasty with abundant rainfall, storms and cool temperatures. And above all, one is spoiled by the hot long summer on the island and the well temperate but short spring and autumn.
But what’s so special about South Africa?
The weather we talked about. The climate at the Cape is moderate all year round. The average temperatures range between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius. Cape Town is situated on the Atlantic coast, so it sometimes can be cooler, on the other hand Durban on the Indian Ocean even in winter rarely records temperatures below 20° Celsius. Naturally there is also rain, especially in the winter months of June to August. Therefore, the Cape provinces are blessed with lush vegetation and ideal for agriculture in general, and wine growing in particular.
But the climate of course is not the only thing that matters. Where should I start?
Country, people, culture, food, beverages, flora and fauna?…….
OK, I will try to explain it sequentially. The country is, for us Europeans, a seemingly infinite size and width. South Africa covers an area of well over 1 million square kilometres (or almost 400,000 square miles) with a population of approximately 53 million. In comparison, the total area of Germany is just 357,000 square kilometres with a population of 82 million people.
The population of South Africa is almost clenched in the big cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and some others. Therefore, it happens that when driving over land you often find no human settlement for miles. From horizon to horizon just wide unoccupied land.
The beauty of the landscape is often impossible to describe. Stunning coastlines with long sandy beaches, rolling hills inland, high mountain ranges, vast plains. A feast for the eyes.
The South African residents are hospitable, mostly in a good mood and largely relaxed. They smile nearly 24/7 and singing and dancing during work is considered as normal. This is of course especially true for the black population (one can actually use the word “Black” without being classified as a racist). Being 80% of the population, the native Africans have an absolute majority, while the white population (mostly descendants of the former colonisers) only count 8%, the rest is called „coloured“. Coloured people are largely descendants of the Indo-Asian slaves who were brought in earlier centuries in large numbers by the white settlers for working in agriculture and in the numerous mines in South Africa.
The mixture of different cultures makes the South African culture so special. Therefore, they created the term “Rainbow Nation”. The locals, even in the long years of Apartheid, never gave up their African culture. The whites, mainly Dutch, British and Portuguese (in addition also Germans, French, Greeks and Italians) brought European customs and habits. The Indians and Asians maintained their culture. All this makes a wonderful cultural melting pot, which one encounters in South Africa at every turn.
This is naturally reflected in the food of South Africa. An enjoyable rich and tasty mix of African, European and Indo-Asian cuisine.
On the subject of drinking, what can I say? South Africa is nowadays simply THE wine country. All of the numerous whites, reds and rosés are well drinkable wines at mostly ridiculously low prices – heart, what do you want more? Also the local beer brands give no cause for complaint. Furthermore, you get the world’s known variety of soft drinks and liquors.
A number of national parks and botanical gardens ultimately ensure that the flora and fauna of Africa remains. Especially in South Africa the stocks of the most hunted and poached animal species, such as elephant and rhino, recover visibly.
This should be enough as a summary for the first.
I will continue soon with Cape Town, Table Mountain, penguins, Robben Island and the Wine Route.
As a foretaste for the upcoming travel reports here comes the first picture gallery…
Note: As always in my travelogues you can learn more about an issue mentioned in the article by clicking the bold underlined links.