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Thursday

June 2014

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Thursday

5

June 2014

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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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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 Continue reading →

Wednesday

28

May 2014

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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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