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Namibia Unplugged

Desert life is all about adjusting your pace to that where you are

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The quiet here is almost shocking. When the wind is down you don't hear a sound. The 'lobby' of the camp is quite open and birds fly freely in and out and I felt like I was in their rather open bird cage. The chirping is almost too loud.

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Our ride in the jeep through the sometimes rocky and sometimes sandy desert provides a landscape that changes with the suns movement in the sky. The shadows change the shapes in the dunes. At first it appears that nothing could live here and then you notice the Elan, springbok, ostrich and many birds along the way. They all roam freely and gracefully along the way chomping on what grass and plants they can find.
We have had no internet for the last three days and really enjoyed being disconnected. At night we climb the stairs and lie in the bed made up for us on the roof. The stars bright and are scattered all across the dark sky. No sound beside the wind.
We are just leaving for, Hoanib, pronounced Wa-nib a camp originally created to study desert lions and if we have Internet I will try to get some photos on line from there tonight.
We have had an amazing guide and have enjoyed speaking with all the people who are so genuine and happy to share stories about their life in the wilderness. Many of the m leave their families for months at a time to work here.
Our experience here is hard to describe, it seems quiet until you slow down and adapt your speed to the desert way. I can only describe it as riding a bike down a hill at a very fast speed and then jumping on to one that is going at a snails pace, the body and mind must adapt and adjust and coming to the desert is much the same thing.
There is beauty and something interesting in every nook and cranny.
We say good bye with a deep appreciation of our time here and the great effort it takes to make this all happen so people like us from Philly can come and experience this exotic and unspoiled part of the world.

Posted by Lauriesam 23:30 Archived in Namibia Tagged #namibia #sossusvlei #dessertcalm #peaceful #southerncross #offthebeatenpath Comments (1)

The Land of Opposites

Lush, green and sophisticated to dry, natural stark beauty


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These two places could not be any more opposite if we had planned our trip with that intention. We have just come from Stellenbosch in South Africa, which was elegant, lush and sophisticated, with great food and amazing art. Now we have just arrived in Namibia, a very large country with only 2.5 million people.

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It was a bit of a shock yesterday when we arrived in the desert, it took a minute to adjust to the change in landscape. We flew from Windhoek in a Beechcraft, Caravan (12 passenger) and the change in landscape was obvious as we flew close to Soussevlei.
Yes, we are in the desert, dry, vast and beautiful. In contrast to Cape Town this is all natural beauty. The first thing you notice is the sand and the dryness. No need to blow dry your hair here, and don't worry about frizz, it's not happening. The small resort, Little Kulala is the most amazing accomplishment of melding nature with decor. The detail that went into this place is fantastic, beautiful wood planking, thatched roofs, linen drapes over the large windows, beads hanging in long rows against the walls, railings are made from gnarly tree branches and old dead trees with textured barks holding up the roofs.
The desert is a mix of flat land, rocky hills, sand dunes and desert animals. What is really amazing is how the landscape changes with the change in lighting from sun up to sun down. The colors change during the day and the shadows create images as they reflect on the sand or rocks. The night time is also amazing, we spent some time on the roof of our room gazing in disbelief at the vast sky above, with no ambient lighting to speak of the stars are sparkling like diamonds in the sky. Prominent in the sky is the southern cross a treat for those of us from the northern hemisphere. The best way to describe the sky is to imagine that you are lying in your bed, the ceiling in your room is painted black and you have taken 100 buckets of shining stars and thrown them up to illuminate your room, each one sparking bright.
It is so peaceful here that it could be disturbing at first. No TV or phones in the room, but there is a horn, honk three times and they will come to you assistance.
We got up early this morning for a balloon ride leaving just before sunrise. (Check under photography to see some of these pictures.)

This is the kind of place that grows on you, everyday, little by little getting under your skin so that when you get home you can close your eyes on a sunny day and recall the desert experience.

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Elan in the desert after the balloon ride this morning.

Posted by Lauriesam 23:28 Archived in Namibia Tagged adventure #desert #namibia #soussevlei #wildernesssafari Comments (0)

Odds and Ends

Thoughts about Stellenbosch


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South Africa is a country of contrasts. Rich and poor, dry fields or lush valleys, beaches and mountains, sprawling townships and luxury hotels and power on or power off! Yes, South Africa has a huge problem supplying adequate power to it’s people and so rolling blackouts have become a common occurrence. The power companies do not have the ability to make enough power to meet the demand and so for months there residents are getting used to no power.
It may be from 10 AM to Noon every other day, or 10 pm to midnight or noon to 2 pm and then you just have to wait for it to come back on again.
We experienced this for the first time Tuesday April 14 on our visit to Stellenbosch. Stellenbosch is in the wine country and is also the home of the University of Stellenbosch one of the largest universities in the country. It is also the only college still teaching more than half of it’s classes in Africans. A college town in wine country with fantastic weather to boot makes this a desirable place for young people and tourists alike.
We arrived in town at about10:30 AM and there was no power, many traffic lights along the way were out as well. Very few stores had back up generators so the ice cream store was serving ‘soft’ ice cream, credit card machines were down and so were the cappuccino machines! We walked along the streets looking in dark stores and had to go back when the power went on to make our purchases.
The lovely coffee shop had been to a few days before only had a few items on the menu that they could serve without power and when it came time to pay the waiter had to use and old fashion pencil and paper.
Soon the power went back on and you could see the town come to life again.
Ahh, nothing there is nothing like a good cappuccino!
So next time your power goes out due to weather, imagine if it happened daily or weekly.

Posted by Lauriesam 04:32 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Stellenbosch

Napa on steroids

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We left Cape Town on Monday morning after a wonderful stay. I got up early to but a monopod for my camera and the fog was just starting to lift as I passed the boats and all the activity along the docks. I could hear the seagulls and smell the sea air while I made my way to the mall. The mall is very large so it took some time to get to where I needed to go and in the meantime the sun burned off the fog. When I emerged from the mall it was as if it were a new day, the sun shined bright and the sky was a beautiful blue. The whole area is quite lively and I was feeling sad to leave.
This did not last for very long. After we loaded up the car for our transfer the drive presented me with a dozen pink roses and Allan received a bottle of fine reserve wine for our anniversary. What a wonderful surprise, in the car a beautiful card from our travel agent extraordinaire, Vicky, signed by everyone at Opulent Living! Our Driver Mark had picked us up at the airport and so we knew we were in good hands for the short trip to Stellenbosch.
Again we drove past the oldest township in CapeTown and the stark difference of where we came from and where we were going hung in the air.
We are staying at Delaire Graff and I have added just a few pictures below to give you a view of the surrounding area. The rocky mountains cradle the entire area and also help determine the weather.
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Monday was sunny and beautiful, we sat in the sun and enjoyed the amazing view as we have a day and a half here and then off to Namibia.
This resort was designed with the utmost thought in all respects including but not limited to landscape, architecture, art of all kind inside and on the grounds, food, service and just about anything else you can imagine. I will add more pictures tomorrow. These are just the view away from the resort which is a winery as well.

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Tonight we had one of the best meals I have ever eaten at Rust en Vrede I will put some photos ( see link for more photographs) but must leave the full descriptions for later as I know have only 2 hours and 15 minutes before my wake up call!

Posted by Lauriesam 16:52 Archived in South Africa Comments (2)

The Cape of Good Hope

The sights and sounds of Cape Town


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Sunday morning we had the pleasure of a visit from our cousins for a beautiful brunch at our hotel. It really adds another layer of interest to travel when you can meet up with family. The offered us a view of life here that we may not have been privy to otherwise, I will write more about lifestyle later.
After breakfast we jumped in the car and drove to the eastern side of the cape and down to the cape point. This is where the Atlantic ocean meets the Indian ocean and it is quite dramatic landscape with steep cliffs and rocky beaches. Along the way we stopped to see the penguins who are so cute I could have stayed there for hours. Their animated movements and formal attire make them so special to watch. They huddle together with their young and couples take turns sitting on the eggs, rolling them around to keep them evenly warmed. Nature at its best.
We stopped at some of the beach towns along the way and even though it is now fall the beaches were quite full with locals and tourists alike.
It is quite a long drive to the cape point but well worth the drive. The view is spectacular and the water is very rough here with gale winds most of the time. It is interesting to imagine the trade ships coming from India with spices for Europe making it around the rough waters of the Cape of Good Hope and finally stopping in Cape Town for provisions. You start to think about the melding of people and cultures and begin to understand the make up of the locals of Cape Town as well.
We continue our trip driving up the west side of the cape along the misty cliffs where the surfers are busy catching the next wave. The water is beautiful, but l imagine it is very cold. We stopped int the small town of Kommetjie for lunch in a garden restaurant sitting at a picnic table under the trees listening to live music. Grilled fish and a cold beer, it doesn't get much better than that. Life is good.
Finally, on Sunday night, our amazing friend and travel agent extraordinaire, Vicky from Opulent Travel in Cape Town, came with her whole family to have drinks with us at the dockside bar Bascule. Her Mom, Dad, brother, cousins, friends and even her two little puppies all came to meet us. To say they were nice would be an understatement of immense proportion, her parents were warm and friendly and I really felt like part of the family. I want to come back to have a week of cooking with her Mom and her Aunt/cousin she promised to make me baklava and I will make my famous carrot cake, a cultural exchange in the kitchen.
I tried to spend time with each person and I think I can safely say a good time was had by all. Thank you Vicky.

Posted by Lauriesam 23:27 Archived in South Africa Tagged beaches penguin of town good cape hope colony simons capetown Comments (2)

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