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Thursday

12

June 2014

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COMMENTS

South Africa Part 4: Panorama Route & Greater Kruger Area #RenelInSouthAfrica

Written by , Posted in Africa & Middle East, Canon 7D, Nature, South Africa, Travel

I spent nine days in South Africa! If you missed part 3 click here, and be sure to follow my South African adventures using the tag #RenelInSouthAfrica2014.  The itinerary took me on the Panorama Route including God’s Window, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, and the Blyde River Canyon.

We spent last night in Johannesburg at the Malikana Guest House, which is about 10 minutes away from OR Tambo Airport.  We left the guest house with a packed breakfast early in the morning to avoid the Johannesburg traffic.  I plan to do a separate post on my time in Johannesburg so stay tuned.

 

Panorama Route

The Panorama Route from Johannesburg to Kruger National Park winds it’s way through the Drakensburg mountains in the Mpumalanga province (part of the Highveld) down to the Lowveld.  There’s a 5,900 feet difference from the Highveld down to Kruger in the Lowveld.  The main draws on the route include God’s Window, Bourkes Luck Potholes, and the Blyde River Canyon.  In addition to these attractions we made stops in Lydenburg and Pilgram’s Rest.

Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve

The Blyde River Canyon is located in the Drakensberg escarpment region and one of the world’s largest canyons.  Blyde means “glad” or “happy” or Dutch.  It’s also considered the largest “green” canyon because of its’ tropical foliage.  There has been at least 1,000 plant species recorded with the varied plant life is influenced by extreme climate, a range of altitudes, and various soil conditions.

God’s Window

God’s Window is a popular lookout point at the southern end of the Nature Reserve offering panoramic views of the Lowveld.  The world veld comes from the Afrikaans word for “field,” and is a generic term used to define certain wide open rural spaces in Southern Africa.

I was using my 24-70mm lens, but I wish I had a wider lens better suited for landscapes.  I ended up getting better photos on my iPhone using the pano feature.God's Window pano - photo by Renel Holton - www.renelholton.com / iphone_0314God's window pano - photo by Renel Holton - www.renelholton.com / iphone_0310 I have no clue what these flowers are called but they are beautiful.  If you know the name let me know in the comments.God's Window flower - photo by Renel Holton - www.renelholton.com / IMG_8077

Bourke’s Luck Potholes

This area was after a local miner named Tom Bourke, who prospected for gold here.  The potholes formed as a result of a thousand years of swirling eddies of water where the Treur River  (river of sorrow) meets the Blyde River (river of joy) which over time has caused water erosion.

Bourkes Law Potholes - photo by Renel Holton - www.renelholton.com / IMG_8133 Bourkes Law Potholes waterfall - photo by Renel Holton - www.renelholton.com / IMG_8115Renel at Bourkes Law Potholes - photo by Renel Holton - www.renelholton.com / iphone_0326 Bourkes Law Potholes - photo by Renel Holton - www.renelholton.com / IMG_8108

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Thursday

5

June 2014

0

COMMENTS

South Africa Part 3: Shosholoza Meyl Train to Johannesburg #RenelInSouthAfrica

Written by , Posted in Africa & Middle East, Canon 7D, Cape Town, Johannesburg, South Africa, train, Transportation, Travel

I spent nine days in South Africa! If you missed part 2 click here, and be sure to follow my South African adventures using the tag #RenelInSouthAfrica2014. The itinerary for the next two days took me on a 30 hour train ride from Cape Town to Johannesburg on the Shosholoza Meyl.

Day 1

We left Cape Town around 10am for what would end up being a 30 hour ride on the Shosholoza Meyl to Johannesburg.  “Shosholoza” is the name of a Ndebele folk song that originated in Zimbabwe but was popularized in South Africa.  “Meyl” is a word that is related to a South African word for “long distance train.”  (Click here to see a lyric video with the English translation.)

I was in the 4-person sleeper with two other ladies from my tour.  Our cabin was the biggest out of the group so it ended up being the hangout room.  The other two cabins were two-person sleepers.  The cabin was actually bigger than I thought it would be but still a little claustrophobic such a long journey.  The sleeping cars are considered tourist class cost about 620 Rand (USD $59) for a one-way ticket from Cape Town to Johannesburg.  That price is about half of what it would cost to fly.  There’s a economy class with only seats on the other side of the dining car.

Shosholoza Meyl train cabin - photo by Renel Holton - www.renelholton.com / GOPR0016
mountains - photo by Renel Holton - www.renelholton.com / IMG_7641
mountains - photo by Renel Holton - www.renelholton.com / IMG_7679
mountains - photo by Renel Holton - www.renelholton.com / IMG_7692
mountains - photo by Renel Holton - www.renelholton.com / IMG_7701
mountains - photo by Renel Holton - www.renelholton.com / IMG_7729
solar panels - photo by Renel Holton - www.renelholton.com / IMG734
mountains - photo by Renel Holton - www.renelholton.com / IMG_7650

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Tuesday

3

June 2014

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COMMENTS

South Africa Part 2: Cape Town to Cape Point #RenelInSouthAfrica

Written by , Posted in Africa & Middle East, Animals, Canon 7D, Cape Point, Cape Town, Penguin, South Africa, Travel, Zebra

I spent nine days in South Africa!  If you missed part 1 click here, and be sure to follow my South African adventures using the tag #RenelInSouthAfrica2014.  Today’s itinerary took me from Cape Town to Cape Point including several parts of the Table Mountain National Park.

Table Mountain

We started our morning in Cape Town by heading up to Table Mountain. Table Mountain received its’ name because it’s a level plateau, which is approximately 2 miles side to side.

The sky was overcast for most of the morning, but we decided to take a chance. We were hopeful because on the road up to the mountain everything looked clear. However once we parked and got in line the ticket office said there was little to no visibility from the top. As you can see from the photos the clouds were heavy and swooped in within the short time it took us to park.

Table Mountain - photo by Renel Holton - www.renelholton.com / IMG_7328 Table Mountain - photo by Renel Holton - www.renelholton.com / IMG_7340

After a quick stop at a local camera shop we continued on our way towards Cape Point.

Muizenberg Beach

Muizenberg is a beach-side suburb of Cape Town also known as the birthplace of South African surfing. The shark spotting program is an early warning initiative in place where spotters on the mountain relay info for the surfers.

The black flag means the spotting conditions are poor. It was really cloudy, but that didn’t stop surfers from entering the water.

Shark spotting flag at Muizenberg Beach - photo by Renel Holton - www.renelholton.com / IMG_7351 surfer on Muizenberg Beach, South Africa - photo by Renel Holton - www.renelholton.com / IMG_7372 edit 1My favorite part was these cute and colorful beach houses on the beach. Muizenberg Beach huts - photo by Renel Holton - www.renelholton.com / IMG_7364 edit 2 (more…)

Wednesday

28

May 2014

0

COMMENTS

Part 1: I Went to South Africa!!! #RenelInSouthAfrica

Written by , Posted in Africa & Middle East, Canon 7D, iPhone 5s, South Africa, Travel

My Promise

Last year I promised myself that I would make at least one big international trip a year. South Africa had been on my wish list since the 2010 World Cup and again when Nelson Mandela died in December 2013. Days later, travel photographer Gary Arndt of Everything-Everywhere.com announced his third annual travel photography tour would take place in South Africa in May. Gary is a G Adventures Wanderer in Residence, and I had been following his blog for a few years. I felt the universe was speaking to me!

Flying into Johannesburg, South Africa - photo by Renel Holton / www.renelholton.com

Flying into Johannesburg, South Africa

I immediately begin to making plans to attend starting with my budget and the gear I would need. (I posted my gear and packing list on my tumblr page). From what I heard from friends and my own research I knew South Africa was a great place to make good on my promise for several reasons.

  • Budget wise, once you get there prices are affordable as the USD to rand was at least 1:9 when I went. I even found the airfare reasonable (under $1300 USD).
  • South Africa is a multiethnic society with 11 recognized languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu. Most South Africans are multilingual often with English being the third or fourth language. I figured with English being prominent in the areas I was visiting the language gap would be minimal.
  • Traveling in May meant that the climate would be their winter (May-July). A common misnomer is that Africa is hot all the time. South Africa’s average May temperature has 66°F highs and 48°F lows. That’s similar to the early spring weather in Maryland. And of course the temperatures vary depending on where you are in the country.
  • And most importantly I WANTED TO VISIT THE MOTHERLAND! If I go nowhere else in my lifetime I was going to Africa.
Cape Town, South Africa - photo by Renel Holton - www.renelholton.com / IMG_7331edit

View of Cape Town from entrance to Table Top Mountain, South Africa

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