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Week 83: Cape Town

I spent this week in Cape Town, which is one of my favorite cities so far. I arrived on a local minibus taxi with a journey that should have taken 4 hours and actually took 10, luckily my CouchSurfing host didn’t mind too much that I arrived so late.

Cape Town is a beautiful city, you can see Table Mountain from almost anywhere in the city. As I walked around I was reminded of European cities that I have visited in the past. Although Cape Town is nothing at all like Africa, it is still a great place to be.

Finally I had arrived in a modern city so I decided to take my mobile phone and my camera into the shops to get them repaired. The phone was supposed to take 2 hours but they kept it for 4 days before I had to collect it in the same state it was in before. The camera was supposed to take 2 days but took 3 and again they hadn’t fixed it. I guess these things will have to wait until Australia.

On a more positive note, I bought myself a new GoPro 3 camera, I have been wanting one of these for some time now so that I can get some better video footage of the places I go. The only problem was that all the shops had sold out of the memory cards, so it took me another day or two of going to camera shops before I found the memory card to start using the camera.

I also met up with a friend, Camilla, I originally met her in Monkey Bay, Malawi about 9 months ago. We went out for some drinks and caught up before I went to the cinema, for the first time in over a year, to see The Hobbit. On the way back to town from the cinema I had an awesome view of the city, Table mountain towering behind the cityscape and ‘the cloth’ (the clouds blowing over the top of table mountain) constantly rolling off the top and disappearing as it fell.

I left my couch surfing hosts place after 3 nights and moved into a backpackers, luckily I had been contacted by a guy through CouchSurfing who wanted to meet up. He has been traveling for around 7 years and is a really fun guy to spend time with. He actually stayed in Australia at one point so has given me a few contacts there.

Now my time in Africa is over and I will start my 48 hour journey from Cape Town to Perth. I feel sad to be leaving Africa, I have so many great memories from this continent, so many people and places that I will miss so much that it is hard to leave. But still, I know that seeing new places means leaving behind others.

Africa Blog Posts, Blog Posts

Week 82: Port Elizabeth and the Garden Route

This week I had to go into a town to get a chest X-ray examination, I was asked to get this done as part of my Australian visa application. During the application process they ask if you have spent more than 3 months in a country that isn’t your home country, within the last five years. There has only been one country that I spent more than 3 months in and that was Tanzania. It seems that the chest X-ray is to try to ensure that I don’t have TB.

I stayed in Port Elizabeth for a few days to make sure that I got the application sorted out as soon as possible. While I was sat waiting around I also did some work on the website. I have added a gallery section which displays all of my pictures, I also fixed all of the images on the Travel Stories pages. Now you can click the images and they will enlarge.

From Port Elizabeth I headed into the Garden Route and have been staying at a backpackers called Wild Spirit. It is a really amazing place, with forest walks and its own private waterfall plus great views across the forest to the mountains in the distance. I will be leaving this place tomorrow and heading to Cape Town, my visa confirmation has come through so I will be flying to Perth after spending some time exploring Cape Town. The only decision I have now is whether to get a direct flight or get a flight with two stops, the first in Jo’burg for an hour, then an 18 hour stop in Qatar. This doesn’t sound all that appealing but it will save me 100 pounds.

Africa Blog Posts, Blog Posts

Week 81: Durban and Coffee Bay

I arrived in Durban and made my way to my CouchSurfing hosts place. I stayed for most of the week with an Indian family visited the temple and attended a celebration. Before any of this I started looking up the prices of a new laptop and digital camera, I have been planning to get these for the last two or three months and was hoping to get them here in South Africa. I looked up the prices and checked against my budget. Although I could technically afford to buy them I would have very little money left over for my arrival in Australia. So I decided that it is better to wait a little while longer, until I am working in Australia and will have more cash.

After making that decision I applied for my Australian visa, it is all online and should take less than a week. Then on Friday and Saturday we went to the temple and ate some really nice food. On the Saturday we attended a celebration which was very interesting but I still don’t quite understand the significance of a lot of what happened.

Then on Sunday I headed out of Durban to Coffee Bay to meet up with Nofar for the last time, I only stayed there for one night because I had received a response about my Australian visa. Apparently I need to get a chest x-ray examination, so I decided to head to a city and get it all arranged as soon as possible. I will hopefully be leaving South Africa in a week or so, I’m looking forward to a change of scenery and a chance to stay in one place and settle down for a while. But moving forward means leaving some places and people behind, sometimes that is a lot harder than others.

Africa Blog Posts, Blog Posts

Week 80: Diving in Sodwana Bay

This week has been really awesome, I stayed in Sodwana Bay doing my Open Water and Advanced Open Water scuba diving qualifications. The open Water course took 4 days, three of which included diving in Sodwana Bay. On one of the days we saw a group of dolphins and went snorkeling with them on our way out to the dive site. The bay has a huge area of coral reef and is home to loads of different types of fish and two types of turtle.

I finished the course on Thursday after scoring 100% in the final exam, while I was heading back to my tent I saw a group of people stood around a tent and overheard them asking if there was anyone around who wasn’t afraid of snakes. I used to have pet snakes so I went over to see what was happening, they told me that a cobra had been found in the tent but they were all too afraid to move it out, so I offered to do it. The snake was covered with a bed sheet and they gave me a long grabber thing but told me that the snake was too big for the grabber to fit around its neck. After a few minutes I had pushed the snake and the sheet into a box and closed the lid, we carried it out to some bushes and released it. The snake was about one and a half, to two meters long and black. They then told me that it wasn’t just a cobra but a Mozambiquan Spitting Cobra. I hadn’t been afraid because I was staying far enough away not to get bitten, but spitting cobras can spit quite far.

The next day I started my Advanced Open Water course, this basically involves five adventure dives, chosen from sixteen different fields. I chose to do a Deep dive, Underwater Navigation, Peak Performance Bouyancy, Naturalist dive and Multilevel dive. The course was great and I saw lots of great fish and actually finished the course with a dive on ‘7 mile reef’, which is one of the top 10 dive sites in the world. During the course I swam with dolphins again and saw two Manta Rays. A really great experience.

Now I am heading to Durban and trying to plan what to do over the next week or so, I think I will be leaving South Africa very soon and heading to Australia. I just need to decide where I want to visit in South Africa, go there, then fly out to Australia to begin my third section of the trip.

Africa Blog Posts, Blog Posts

Weeks 78 & 79: Tofo, Mozambique to Sodwana Bay, South Africa via Swaziland

Week 78 started with New Years Eve, Tofo was extremely busy and there was lots of loud music. New Years Day was very strange, I walked through the village looking for a place to eat breakfast and the streets were full of broken glass, empty beer bottles, people sleeping and the ones who were awake walked around like zombies. Not exactly the tropical paradise that I am sure Tofo is for the rest of the year. I had met a South African guy on New Years Eve and he had offered to let me dive with him on the 2nd Jan, but unfortunately he didn’t turn up, so I headed back to Maputo on the 2nd. I had missed the shuttle bus so had to take a bus to the nearest town and then a boat to the nearest city. From there it took around 5 hours to get to Maputo.

I stayed in Maputo for the weekend with Thiago and his friends, actually I stayed for two nights at Fabio’s place. I had a great time with them, as always, we went out for meals and two house parties, then on the Sunday we actually appeared in a music video. The song is sung by two African artists, Matias Damasio (from Angola) and Valdomiro Jose (from Mozambique). The song is due for release in a couple of weeks so I will link to the video when it is available.

I started week 79 by leaving Mozambique and heading into Swaziland, staying in the best hostel I have ever visited. It is in Mlilwane National Park, but is as cheap as most of the normal hostels (around 10 Euros), but as this hostel is inside the park you are constantly surrounded by wildlife. A family of Warthogs regularly wandered about on the lawn and Zebra were never far away. You can actually wander around the park on foot to see the animals as there are no Lions in the park. This is where I met up with Nofar and Emanuel again, we originally met in Cape Maclear in Malawi and had arranged to meet again in South Africa.

From Mlilwane we drove south, into South Africa to a place called St Lucia. They had heard that this was a great place to see Crocodiles in the wild (over 90% of South Africa’s wild Croc’s are there). Unfortunately as we arrived there the weather turned for the worse, with storms and rain for a couple of days, so we didn’t see any wild Crocodiles, but did go to the Crocodile Centre to see a selection of captives. To make things worse we ended up in a hostel which had a group of 60 volunteers staying there, they were all about 18 years old and were drinking lots and listening to loud, terrible music.

On Saturday I split with the girls again and headed north to a place called Sodwana Bay. I had first heard of this place when I was staying in Cape Maclear, I was told it was the cheapest place in Southern Africa to do your Scuba Diving qualifications. I was very happy when I arrived here and found that the camp is inside another National Park, there is a really nice beach and the camp is also very comfortable and is home to lots of monkeys who are always wandering around the roof of the main building. There are a lot of Coral reefs here in Sodwana Bay so the diving should be really amazing. I start my Open Water course tomorrow, which should take around 4 or 5 days, after that I am thinking I might stay to do an advanced course which will allow me to dive to 30 meters.