Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
The six metre high bronze statue depicts him doing his very famous "Madiba shuffle". As I have mentioned before, I live in Port Elizabeth which is part of the metropolitan area of Nelson Mandela Bay. It is the only town or city in South Africa that was allowed to take use his name.
Both in South Africa and internationally, Mandela's opposition to apartheid made him a symbol of freedom and equality for many. However, the apartheid government and various other nations condemned him and the ANC as communists and terrorists.
Following his release from prison on 11 February 1990, Mandela, supporting reconciliation and negotiation, helped lead the transition towards multi-racial democracy in South Africa. Since the end of apartheid, many have frequently praised Mandela, including former opponents.
Mandela has received more than one hundred awards over four decades, most notably the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. He is currently a celebrated elder statesman who continues to voice his opinion on topical issues. In South Africa he is often known as Madiba, an honorary title adopted by elders of Mandela's clan. The title has come to be synonymous with Nelson Mandela.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Some of the interactive displays are a racing simulator, a new VW Beetle being cut in half, general knowledge consuls and a green screen behind an old Beetle. The museum is well worth a visit for both young and old. In actual fact I have seen kids looking quite bored while the fathers were having a great time. I have had the pleasure to visit a couple of times and always enjoy the visit. I think its time for me to take Chaos Boy (I just need to tie his hands behind his back) to have a look at the cars.
Friday, November 21, 2008
The kids always love it when the visitors take pictures of them during the visits. After the photos is taken they all line up to see the image on the camera's screen. The photo may not be a artistic picture of any kind, but I love the emotion from the kids. It doesn't matter what kind of circumstances these kids live in, they are always happy, laughing and playing. Enjoying life, even if they are being short changed. I often think that kids in rich neighbourhoods can learn something from these kids on how to enjoy childhood.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I'm normally very stoked (excuse the expression) when I get to go on the little steam engine. It actually runs on real coal and water just like a real steam engine. It even blows off steam like his big brothers.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Our first stop is the world famous Cango Caves. Situated about 20kilometres outside of town in the Swartberg (Black Mountains), the caves are the best known caves in South Africa and one of the most visited show caves in the world. The word Cango is a Khoisan word that means "water between hills". The Khoisan used to live in the entrance of the caves, but would never have gone into the caves itself because of their believe that their ancestors lived inside the caves. The caves offer two tipes of tours. Most people go on the Standars Tour that lasts an hour and takes you about 1 kilometer into the caves. The Adventure Tour will take you into some of the smaller passages that can be as low as 30 centimetres high.
The Cango Wildlife Ranch on the outskirts of town started out as a crocodile farm many years ago. In the last 10 years it has been turned into a centre where several endangered animal species are bred with while their tour and exhibits are designed to educate people about endangered species. The first section of the Ranch is called the Valley of the Anchients. It takes the form of a lost city with various animal displays, but don't think of it as a zoo. Part of this area is still dedicated to crocodiles. It is here that they offer something truely unique. Crocodile cage diving. For a fee you can don a wetsuit and hop in a cage, get lowered into the pool inbetween foer or five humangus crocs. It looks awesome and I still want to do it one day.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Around Oudtshoorn some of the biggest tourism attractions are the ostrich show farms. You can't visit the area without going to one of the show farms. Here visitors are showed everything there is to be known about the ostrich. From breeding to their legs, feathers and heads and then what products you get from ostriches. Then its on to the camps where visitors can have the opportunity to stand on an ostrich egg, touch an ostrich, sit on one or (if you weigh less than 75kg) even ride one. At the end of the visit professional ostrich jockeys (how many people can put that on their CV's) will do an ostrich race for the visitors. Here Michael Schumacher on the right and Hopeless on the left is having it out for first place.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
The thing that Mossel Bay is most famous for is the fact that this is the spot where Bartholomew Dias became the first (known) European explorer to set foot in SA in 1488. In 1988 a replica of his Caraval was built in Portugal for the 500th anniversary of the event and was sailed to Mossel Bay. The replica is the centre peace of the Diaz Museum complex on the beachfront.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Georges is located at the foot of the imposing Outeniqua Mountains. The word Outeniqua means "Men laden with honey" in the Khoisan language and refers to the old days when the local Khoisan tribes went into the mountains to fetch honey from the wild bees. There are four passes that cross the mountains. The original pass was called the Cradock pass and is now a hiking trail. The second pass, the Montagu Pass follows one of the valleys through the mountain and is a gravel road that is still accessible. The "new" pass is called the Outeniqua Pass and is a awesome pass that cross the mountain into the Klein Karoo (more on that area when we get to Oudtshoorn in a couple of days).
Outeniqua Railway Museum can be found at the George station and is a big shed with a varied collection of steam trains, historic carriages, historic station goodies and vintage cars. It is from here that the Outeniqua Choo Tjoe departs. That trip we will do tomorrow.
Also departing from the Railway Museum is the Outeniqua Power Van. These historic restored electric railway vans will take you on the fourth pass up the Outeniqua Mountains, the railway pass. They will take visitors up to the top of the pass to enjoy the magnificent scenery of the mountains with it surrounding forests and plantations and the town below.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
The next stop on the tour is Wilderness. Wilderness is a lovely quite little town which has not developed as much as the other towns on the Garden Route. There is a story behind the name of a young man living in one of the town in the area long ago. He asked a girl to marry him and she said yes, but on the condition that they live out in the wilderness. Little did she know that he had a farm which he called Wilderness to accommodate this request.
This view is looking eastwards from Dolphin Point. Wilderness beach is a long stretch of sand which is very popular during the holiday season. The haziness is sea mist which hangs over the area just about permanently as it is trapped by the surrounding hillsides.
Looking west from the point you see the Kaaimans River with the Kaaimans Bridge across it. This is part of the route that the Outeniqua Choo Tjoe steam train used to take. A couple of years ago the track was very badly damaged in heavy floods and have not been repaired. The train now runs the other way towards Mossel Bay. Tomorrow I will post about George and the next day the train and Mossel Bay will have its turn. Photos of the Choo Tjoe crossing the bridge can be found in just about any guide and photo book out there.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Knysna have twice been voted South Africa's favorite town and is the most popular town on the Garden Route. The word Knysna (pronounced with a silent K) is a Khoisan word which means "the woods down there".
Knysna is built on the banks of the Knysna Lagoon and is wedged between the lagoon and indigenous forests. The entrance into the lagoon is called The Knysna Heads and is rated as one of the most dangerous entrances to a natural harbour in the world. Loyd's of London won't even insure your yacht if you state that you will be entering through the heads. The land on the Eastern Head has been developed as a very upmarket residential area while the Western Head is part of the Featherbed Nature Reserve. The lagoon itself is a protected area and falls under the control of South African National Parks.
Monday, November 10, 2008
The next stop after the Tsitsikamma National Park and the Bloukrantz Bridge is Birds of Eden, situated just outside the town of Plettenberg Bay. Birds of Eden is the World's Biggest Free Flight Bird Aviary. The park has about two hectares that has been enclosed. The catch is that when you are inside the aviary it doesn't feel like you are in an enclosure. The enclosure is divided into two sections. The first section is a forest environment with a stream and waterfalls while the second section is an open area surrounding a dam. As you walk through the forest there is one section where a rain forest is being created. The sun shining through the rain made for some excellent photos.
In one spot the walkway goes behind a waterfall and the split in the water with the walkway in the background made for another great photo opportunity.
But the best thing about the park is obviously the birds. Although you aren't allowed to touch them, they can come to you and because of the fact that they are used to people you can get very close. This makes for super (I didn't want to use the word excellent again and I tend to use awesome way too much) photo opportunities. This green bird is a Turaco or locally known as a Loerie. They are very elusive birds that live in the indigenous forests. You often hear them (they actually sound like baboons in the distance), but rarely see them because of their green plumage. They hop from branch to branch and when they glide to the next tree they reveal their bright red feathers under their wings.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Saturday, November 8, 2008
The ultimate adventure activity can be done at the Bloukrantz River Bridge in the Tsitsikamma. The river is also the boundary between the provinces of the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape. Here you will find one of the highest commercial bungy jump sites in the world.
Measured at 216 metres high and 400 metres long, the bridge is the 10th highest bridge in the world. Jumpers get into their harnesses after signing in and then get a safety briefing. They then follow a path down to a catwalk attached to the side of the bridge that will take them the 200 metres to the middle of the bridge. Here they are met by the jumping personnel who will attach jumpers to the bungy cord before doing the count down. 5...4...3...2...1...BUNGY!!!!!
The leap must be death defying. I wouldn't know because I have this little issue with heights. The only way that you will ever get me leaping off would be if I got into a South African version of The Amazing Race and there is no such thing at the moment. Anyway, I'm digressing. The first rebound is as much as the previous highest jump at the Victoria Falls. On the middle photo you will see the jumper below the bridge while the rope to the right has several windsocks on it for measuring purposes.
Friday, November 7, 2008
The oranges gets picked by hand and put onto trailers pulled by tractors. The oranges then get taken to the co-operative or a private sorting facility to be sorted and packed. The trailers get lifted on the one side and dumps the oranges in a tank water. It is so that the oranges don't get damaged as well as to clean them.
From there the oranges get coated with a wax coating to seal in the freshness before the sorting process start. In the big Co-op most of these activities gets done through automation, but the smaller private facilities still do it by hand (and thus create a lot of job opportunities), The bad (rotten or damaged) oranges get taken out and that will either go to the pig farmers (rotten) or the juicing factory (damaged or undersized). The oranges then get sorted by size.
The big oranges are of export quality and get packed into boxes, transported to the Port Elizabeth harbour and put into cold storage before loaded onto ships heading to Europe and Asia. The "normal" oranges for the local market get packed into orange bags which get taken to the fresh produce market or sold directly to supermarkets and fruit and veg stores.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
This pic comes from the Outeniqua Mountains in the Southern Cape. This one is sitting on a plant called a kapok bush, also known by some people as "Old Mans Balls". Not being an old man I can't guess why its called that.
This grasshopper was sitting on a pole in one of the game reserves. I chased him around the pole several times before he decided to just sit still and get it over with. He even smiled at me. Or was it a smirk?