Posts Tagged ‘animals’

We headed out first thing this morning, well it was actually 9:30 but that’s about as close to first thing as we can manage with Charlie. How am I going to get this child to school in the fall? Anyway, we were cashing in the second of the kids Christmas tickets to take them to the Drakenstein Lion Park. We arrived at around 10:15. Nora napped in the car on the way there. We thought we had executed this fairly well. Wrong. So wrong.

If you ever need a big brother this is the one you want. This boy takes care of both of his sisters in the backseat without us asking. He makes sure they get their food, water and blankies. He entertains Nora and always makes sure everyone is quiet when she falls asleep.

If you ever need a big brother this is the one you want. This boy takes care of both of his sisters in the backseat without us asking. He makes sure they get their food, water and blankies. He entertains Nora and always makes sure everyone is quiet when she falls asleep.

The kids whined from the minute we got out of the car until we finally gave in and left. Madeline couldn’t have cared less about these lions. Charlie pretended he cared twice just to try and please us and Nora just wanted to spray Cheerios everywhere.

Here’s the thing, they were essentially melting. There was a gorgeous breeze, we were in the shade and I love heat so I honestly thought they were just being difficult. Turns out it was 39 degrees out. Oops. This was not our finest parenting moment as we scolded them for not appreciating the lions. The pictures look really nice though!

We left the lion park after a very painful hour and headed to the Spice Route. We visited this place the last time we were here and loved it. Thankfully there was a nice breeze and it clouded over later in the day so we made quite an afternoon out of it. We had some lunch, sampled some wine on tap, had a coffee, played at the park, went to the chocolate factory and ended with a beer. Essentially we gained five pounds and redeemed the day.

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For our final weekend in Cape Town we decided to make it as family friendly as possible. IT’s been a bit of a tough balance between choosing things C would like (and M might enjoy too) vs seeing what we really want to see and experiencing the things that make this part of the world special. We hopefully struck that balance this weekend.

Saturday we headed in to Green Point Park, Cape Town’s “new” green space for families. It sits alongside the Sea Point Promenade and the same grounds as the stadium built for the soccer world cup. The park was lovely, C especially enjoyed the spinning bowl. M had her first ride on the swings.



We attempted to head to The Grand Beach Cafe for lunch, but were turned down because it was holding a wedding. We had visited The Grand the last time we were in Cape Town with Zanelle – it’s a restaurant set right on the beach – but instead we were pointed towards the City Market held basically overlooking the beach. The market was well done – open air, great food, same community sitting as home. It was a bit more hectic with the kids than I would have liked but we all survived.

After lunch we headed to the Kirstenbosch gardens. In a pro tip from our friend Dene we found out that the Kirstenbosch gardens have a dinosaur exhibit set it in Cycad ampitheatre. Now for those of you who know us, and really, that should be all of you, you should know that C LOVES dinosaurs. It did not disappoint; C loved it. He spent the better part of an hour (basically eternity in toddler time) walking the paths pointing out all the different dinosaurs tucked away in the plants.

Zanelle met us at the gardens and strolled through them with us before we all headed to the restaurant for some dinner. Not bad for day one, if I do say so.

Sunday was a bit more relaxed (as its should be). We stayed closer to home instead of heading into the city. We started our day at the Giraffe House – which is more or less a low security zoo. We got to take our pictures with Gerry the new Giraffe, C got to feed a zebra (well kind of) and see some snakes and crocodiles. He seemed pretty enthusiastic about the whole thing and M didn’t scream, so we’ll call that a success.

After the Giraffe House we headed a little farther down the road to the Spice Route Wine Estate. I can’t say enough good things about this place. It has it all – wine tasting, micro brewery with tasting, chocolate factory (also with tasting!), home made ice cream shop, a kids play area and one hell of a view.

This place was packed. There were families and friends everywhere. The kids were running around on all of the open green spaces, the adults are all relaxing with great food and drinks. This is my kind of place. Again – why don’t we live here???

Janelie joined us and we spent the day enjoying what was on offer. We stayed until they closed down at 5 before heading home with overfull bellies and tired children.


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No trip to Africa would be complete without a safari. One of the biggest reasons we even decided to head from Ethiopia to Kenya was that I’d finally be able to do something that sat pretty high on my bucket list. We settled on a four day three night journey which included the Maasai Mara and Lake Nakuru.

The first day of our safari we were picked up in Nairobi and made the drive to the Maasai Mara park. It took the better part of the day and even more out of our backs and bums as we drove across the not so well kept roads. We arrived at our camp site at around 3:30, just enough time to get settled have some tea and get ready for our first game drive.

Our ‘tent’ was one of the nicest accommodations we’d had. It sits on a cement slab with an attached bathroom. There’s electricity in the early morning and evening. There were probably a dozen tents around the site set amongst beautiful fruit trees and flowers. Maasai men guard the site both day and night as the lions are more afraid of the warriors than the warriors are of the lions.

We loaded back into our van and set off into the park. The roof lifts off and the windows open, so while it’s not quite the safari jeep you imagine it definitely did the trick. Almost immediately inside the gates of the park we started to see animals. There were zebras and buffalos along either side of the path. The zebras ended up being one of my favourites – their stripes are a lot neater than you think – and no two are alike!

After the zebras we headed a bit further inland to find a herd of elephants and giraffes. The giraffes are magical and the elephants MUCH bigger than I thought they would be. We had seen a few elephants while we were in Asia but the African version makes them look puny. The giraffes are quite majestic as they seem to float along nibbling at the trees.

To finish off our two hour drive we came upon two male lions. Everyone was obviously quite excited to find the kings, but they were actually quite disappointing as they didn’t even lift their heads. We left excited for what our full game drive tomorrow was going to bring.

Day two starts relatively early as we’re trying to get as much time inside the park as we can. As we’re driving in our guide gets a call on his cell phone – all the drivers keep in contact with their friends to help each other find the animals – and we speed off through the park. There are two cheetahs out lazing around in the morning sun and we want to catch them. Luckily, we make it with quite a bit of time to spare as they look to just be waking up. We watch them for about a half an hour as they go through their morning routine – unfortunately neither felt up for an early morning sprint.

We spent the rest of the day driving to the other side of the park stopping every 15 minutes or so to gawk at the animals. We watched elephants drinking and bathing, giraffes running around and drinking from the stream, a surprisingly large number of lions although they were all female or cubs and of course a bunch of gazelles, antelopes, wart hogs, emus, buffalo and wildebeest. We were also quite fortunate and tracked down a black rhino. They’re quite hard to spot as they graze in the bushes and blend in surprisingly well. They also travel alone and don’t much enjoy visitors.

The highlight of the day had to be finding the leopard – the last of the big five. The big five originate from hunting days and are considered to be the most difficult and dangerous animals to hunt on foot. Lions, elephants, buffalo, rhino and leopards make the cut. The leopard was hands down my favourite animal. It was incredibly beautiful as it slinked through the high grass. You had to really keep your eyes on him though, if you even looked away for a second, you couldn’t find it again until you saw the tail flick despite the fact that he was within 15 feet of us.

The final game drive in the Maasai Mara is the morning drive. The cats are the most active in the early hours of the day before everything heats up so we went in with high hopes of seeing a chase and a kill. Jacob was especially excited. Sadly though, no one seemed to hungry and we didn’t end up seeing much of anything. Since the cats are out to hunt, the rest of the animals seem to disappear.

We left the Maasai Mara and drove to Lake Nakuru. Again, the drive took the better part of the day, it seems that no matter the distance you are driving in Africa, it always takes a day to get there. Lake Nakuru was nice, aside from the ridiculous amount of birds (there was a lot of flapping and it didn’t smell so hot) but we got to see hyenas, a lot more rhinos and quite a few baboons and other monkeys.

If any of you ever have a chance to go on safari take it. And for those of you who don’t have the chance, make it. Being with in 10 feet of these animals is something that you have to experience for yourself to truly appreciate.

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