South Africa & Mozambique, August 2019


Last year we took Stephen and Sophie on holiday to Botswana so this year it is our daughter's turn.  Emma would like to go to Tanzania and Zanzibar but, after being told that she and her family would need a lot of injections beforehand, decided that a safari in South Africa followed by a beach holiday in Mozambique would do nicely.  Jane arranged the holiday through Jade at Trailfinders (more...).  We are too late in finding out we need visas for Mozambique so Trailfinders expedites their production at a price!
A slideshow of all the photos are here. An interactive map of where the photos were taken are here. Instructions for this diary are here.


Wednesday, 14 August - Journey to Jo'burg
Thursday, 15 Aug - Jo'burg to the Shamwari Game Reserve
Friday, 16 August - Spotting the Leopard
Saturday, 17 August - Happy Anniversary
Sunday, 18 August - The Rehabilitation Centre and Cheetahs
Monday, 19 August - The Born Free Foundation and the Beach Hotel, Port Elizabeth
  Tuesday, 20 August - From PE to Vilankulos
Wednesday, 21 August - A windy day at the seaside
Thursday, 22 August - Snorkelling or a bird walk
Friday, 23 August - Granny gets into the pool
Saturday, 24 August - Baba gets into the sea
Sunday, 25 August - From Vilankulos to Swanmore

Previous DayContentsNext dayWednesday, 14 August - Journey to Jo'burg

Jiggy, from Miller's Taxis, picks us up at 3:25pm. There's a discussion about the best way to go to Terminal 3 Heathrow but Graham decides that up the A32 onto the A31 and then up to the M3.  Jiggy decides it's best to leave the M25 at the Terminal 5 exit and take the perimeter road to Terminal 3. We are dropped off but it is drizzling. We make our way to Virgin Atlantic and check in.  Jane has opted for assistance so we acquire a wheelchair. None of us had realised that Emma is so skilled in pushing a wheelchair.  We arrive at the seating area in Terminal 3 and some are more astute than others and purchase meal deals. We make our way to gate 18 and board the plane. Some 10 hours later it arrrives in Johannesburg having been entertained by Mr Branson's machines.

Previous DayContentsNext dayThursday, 15 Aug - Jo'burg to the Shamwari Game Reserve

A wheelchair is waiting for Jane. We collect our baggage and make our way to the assistance waiting area for Terminal B.  Jane gets bored so Graham asks if Jane can be taken earlier to gate D1.  Emma and family are on their way to D1.  We arrive early at D1 and wait an hour.  The flight leaves on time. We have sandwiches and a soft drink.  We arrive at Port Elizabeth at 1:30pm.  Fernando (his mother is an ABBA fan) is waiting for us but unfortunately one of the Andersen's suitacses is not.  Emma fills in forms at the British Airways Baggage Enquiries desk. We gather around Fernando and are taken to his Ilios minibus. We get inside and are whisked off eastwards along the coast to the Shamwari Game Reserve.  We are met at the gate and complete some entrance forms and are then transferred to the actual resort. On the way we see a lone ostrich and a lone leaopard toistose, a mongoose and some baboons.  A welcome team greets us with warm face towels and a lemon drink.  We are shown to our rooms and return to the main hall to have tea time snacks. Our ranger J.B. is waiting to take us on our afternoon drive. He has a rifle and ammunition.  We must not touch it.  We see springbok, impala, wart hogs
, lions, elephants, giraffes and loads of birds. Robin spots a rhino.  It is a black one.  We are driven to admire it wallowing in the mud. The rangers have not seen this behaviour before now.
We stop at a high point overlooking the 30000 hectare reserve and have sundowners. We make our way back to the resort but are blocked by elephants.  We arrive back to discover that the missing suitcase has turned up.  Robin no longer has a need to borrow Baba's clothes. We scrub up and go to the restaurant at 7:30pm for a meal. It is a delicious meal accompanied by wine. The package we are on includes all drinks except exclusive wines and whiskies.  We wash down the food with a package Pinot Noir.  We retire to bed about 9pm.

Previous DayContentsNext dayFriday, 16 August - Spotting the Leopard

A phone call from J.B. at 6:30am wakes us up. We dress and walk the short distance to the reception area. We are offered porridge, muffins and hot drinks. At 7:30 J.B. arrives to take us on a game drive. The sun has been up nearly two hours but it is cold. In the truck we have blankets and hot water bottles to keep us warm. We see waterbuck, blesbok, impala and springbok together with wart hogs. We come across a crash of three white rhinos grazing. We see giraffes
in the distance and lionesses sun bathing by the river. There is a drought here. They have hardly had any rain for the last two years. We pass more crashes of white rhinos and make our way to a lookout spot above the plain where we stop to check the tyres and partake in hot drinks and nibbles. When we return to the lodge it is brunch time. We eat and wander around the grounds admiring the colourful birds. The boys and Robin swim in the cold pool.
It is winter here. At 2:30pm we meet in reception for afternoon snacks before beginning another drive. This time we see some hippos, many mongooses, a tortoise and vervet monkeys, some elephants and white rhinos. We have sun downers and tyre checks. J.B. drives us to a herd of Cape buffalo. Emma is disappointed at their small size. JB explains that the big five were decided on how dangerous they were to hunt and not their size. JB returns to the area where we failed to spot  a leopard and stops the truck several times to listen and smell. We break through a gap between two thorny bushes and 20 feet to our left lying on the ground is the solitary male leopard. It gets up and walks forward into the bushes. The truck advances around the bushes and stops again. The leopard is viewed by all - a magnificent beast and impervious to us. We return to the lodge as darkness falls. We sit at a different table from last night and have an enjoyable meal washed down with Pinot Noir. We retire.

Previous DayContentsNext daySaturday, 17 August - Happy Anniversary

We are awoken by JB at 6:35am. Jane has been awake since 4am. It is raining, the first time for several months. We have coffee and toasted sandwiches cooked on a barbecue. We board the truck and are given ponchos. We see our first Wildebeest. We go to a riverbed and are entertained by vervet monkeys. Shortly afterwards we stop and wait for another truck to bring a compressor as one of the tyres has lost air. Our next stop is where we saw the leopard yesterday. JB is hoping to see it again. We spend a lot of time moving short distances and listening and seeing for signs of it. JB eventually declares it is behind an inaccessible bush eating its breakfast of warthog. We leave other trucks to look for it and make our way back to the lodge for brunch. We are the only ones eating. An Italian family has already eaten and an English family have left to go to the Addo Elephant Park. We went there with Stephen in 2001. We rest in our rooms. At 2:30pm we meet up in reception for tea and bits. We put on ponchos as rain is expected. We see helmeted guinea fowl for the first time and make our way to where some lions have been reported. A couple of elephants surround the bushes where the lions have taken cover. We hear them growling but they do not appear. We wait while the tyres get pumped up again. We see a lot of elephants. Sundowners are drunk inside the truck. Olly takes his first taste of a termite.  We see the airstrip for the reserve. There are six separate lodges. We are staying at the child friendly one. When we return to the lodge we are greeted with warm towels and a small hot sweet milk based drink. Emma and Robin find there are Anniversary G & Ts waiting for them in their room. Two heaters await us as our room heater is broken. Baba is permitted to share the anniversary drinks. We play ockynocky in the reception by the fire and have our starters. We go into the dining room for our main course. We were due to have a barbecue at the boma but it is too wet so we have the barbecued food in the dining room. A man from Newcastle and his two daughters are the only other residents. The meal is very filling. We retire at 8:30pm beaten by food, wind and rain.

Previous DayContentsNext daySunday, 18 August - The Rehabilitation Centre and Cheetahs

We have a lie in. We have breakfast at 9am and clamber into the truck with JB at 9:30am. It's a fine but chilly morning. Today we are going to the northern part of the reserve. On our way we stop at the rehabilitation centre and are shown around with other tourists by Thabi. He takes us to various enclosures where injured, orphaned or abandoned animals are made fit enough to release. We see a pair of caracals whose mother was shot for disturbing a farmer's sheep. There is a sheep with three rhinos teaching them to graze. We return to the truck and are driven to a secluded valley where our lunch is waiting for us. Two ladies and Liam have set up a crescent row of individual tables and chairs all facing a small barbecue area. We have an excellent cold buffet which two of us wash down with a G&T. We are on holiday! After lunch we make our way further north through a goat farm to a high spot on a common like area where two cheetah brothers are resting under a bush having eaten a lot. After a couple of minutes they get up and stroll by the truck and across a track to their kill. It is a young zebra and is lying in the open. One of the brothers rips more flesh off the zebra whilst the other is on guard-watch duty awaiting his turn. We watch for several minutes.
JB then drives us back to the lodge but on the way we stop to watch a male elephant excreting solid and liquid waste products via a very long hosepipe.
We spot an African darter sitting on a log in a pond in the river bed. Back at the lodge we are greeted with a warm towel and a small warm milk drink. We have a drink of tea and return to our room. The heater has been fixed. We meet in reception for pre-dinner drinks and some rounds of 'Card face'. We go to the dining room and play a game of name that country. It starts with Thomas and ends with Baba so for countries with names beginning with Q it is a bit stressful. Springbok shanks seem to be the favourite main course and they are very tasty and not from the reserve's stock. Pudding is a slice of the anniversary cake Liam made for Emma and Robin. There is too much for the six of us so it is donated to the staff. We retire at 9:15pm

Previous DayContentsNext dayMonday, 19 August - The Born Free Foundation and the Beach Hotel, Port Elizabeth

JB rings us up at 6:30am. We wash, dress, pack up, and go to reception. After a barley porridge and coffee we clamber into the truck. JB collects his rifle and ammo. It looks like it might rain. We go to the Born Free big cats rescue centre and watch an introductory video. Martin escorts us to the viewing platforms overlooking the enclosures in which solitary lions and leopards reside. Some have come from a circus in France. Another has come from Romania. They will all live the rest of their lives here, well fed and well cared for. The male lions talk to each other with booming voices. We leave and go to find a black rhino. The showers begin so some of us don ponchos. The rhino is shy but we do see a lone buffalo and eventually part of the reluctant rhino. We return to the lodge for breakfast and checking out. We leave at about 11am and are taken to the entrance gate where we can say our goodbyes to JB. Tomorrow he is returning to his home in Cradock to stay with his parents and 16 year old sister on their sheep farm. We are driven to the Beach Hotel in PE where we will stay for one night. We wait in the lounge till our rooms are ready. When our rooms are ready we go and read whilst the younger generation goes to the beach
and then to the swimming pool. We meet at six and have the buffet. The complementary bottle of sparkling wine turns out to be a small single glass of sweet 7% alcoholic liquid. Fortunately the elderly are allowed a complementary glass of proper wine. The buffet is good. We retire to the lounge for a couple of rounds of knockout whist. Shortly after 8pm we retire. Shamwari is a distant memory.

Previous DayContentsNext dayTuesday, 20 August - From PE to Vilankulos

We are greeted at 4:35 by our wake up calls. We clear up and all meet in reception to collect our breakfast packs and await our minibus taxi. About 10 minutes later we arrive at the airport. The checkin desk is not open but there is a wheelchair for Granny to sit in. The checkin desks opens about 6am and we make our way to Gate 2. Some of us eat our breakfast boxes. The 37 seater Embraer takes off at 6:45. We are offered more breakfast and a drink. We arrive at Jo'burg and a wheelchair is waiting for Granny. We make our way through passport control and security to gate A25 where a flight to Blantyre is waiting to depart. We are bussed to the Airlink 37 seater aircraft. We are offered a chicken sandwich or a beef wrap. The Andersens had filled themselves up with croissants so decline the food. We arrive at Vilankulos and are driven to the Bahia Mar Hotel. We have a three bedroomed block overlooking the sea. We have a discussion about who will sleep where. Granny and Baba are upstairs to the left. The boys are to the right and Emma and Robin are on the ground floor next to the communal kitchen and living room but they do have a large bath. There is a sign saying do not use too much water! We eat at 6pm in the Dining Room. Calamari seems to be the favourite. We return to the communal living room for a beetle drive. After two rounds we retire.

Previous DayContentsNext dayWednesday, 21 August - A windy day at the seaside

We have a lie in. Emma declares that 9am is too late for breakfast. The boys have already been swimming in the pool. The oldies eat breakfast inside whilst the others sit at a table in the shade of a palm tree. The men have a couple of frames of pool. Baba claims it's so unfair as it's three against one! The oldies go for a walk on the beach. The wind is getting up and has even blown the umbrella on the balcony over. While Granny has a massage Baba has lunch with the young ones. He samples the local beer, 2M or Mac Mahon. Granny is collected and has a pina colada with Emma by the pool. We have a lazy afternoon and meet up for dinner at 6:15pm. We have dinner and retire. It's exhausting doing nothing.

Previous DayContentsNext dayThursday, 22 August - Snorkelling or a bird walk

We get up at 7:30am and have breakfast in the open with the others. They leave at 8:30am to go with a party of a French family of four on a snorkelling trip to some islands off the coast.
Baba goes to reception and spends the morning with the site's communications specialist sorting out the Wi-fi on his computer and phone. Somewhere is a rogue router which the IT man needs to locate. It is very odd but at least Baba has an internet connection. We have lunch outside. Just after 2:30pm we meet Crispin who is going to take us on a bird spotting tour. The three of us climb into a tuc tuc and are taken to the northern part of Vilankulos onto a dirt track. We meet Crispin's wife on her way to work as a housemaid. Crispin has come from Zimbabwe. Their three children live there with his parents and come to Mozambique in the school holidays. We are dropped off and start walking along a sandy track. The life of the Devil's Thorn is explained to us. A lilac breasted roller is sitting on the telegraph wires. Several bulbuls are spotted. We walk passed several enclosures bordered by thorn hedges where families have their plots of land and rondeval houses. There is the occasional block built house but generally it is a poor area. Young girls carry large plastic buckets of water on their heads from a lagoon back to their homes. Goats are tethered in the grass. Some palms have their trunks covered with raffia cone shaped hats with a plastic bottle inside collecting juice from which to make beer. We walk onto a sand road and come to a well head where girls are pumping water into buckets. The enclosures have no water and no electricity. Some of the enclosures nearer town are connected to water at a cost of $500 where the average monthly income is $50. We walk back to a waiting tuc tuc and arrive back at the hotel just after 5pm. We have walked 2.5 miles on sandy paths. We have dinner together and retire somewhat exhausted.

Previous DayContentsNext dayFriday, 23 August - Granny gets into the pool

It's another fine morning with the sun rising over the horizon at about 5:50am. After breakfast we all gather around the swimming pool. Granny is helped into the pool and walks around gingerly. Meanwhile Baba is getting beaten at pool by Thomas. We lounge by the pool till lunchtime.
The Andersens walk southwards along the beach to a cafe for lunch. The Oldies stay at the hotel because Granny has a massage session at 2pm. Lunch is taken outside under an umbrella. We are served by a delightful young waitress called Quitiere or Kiki for short. She is not as young as we thought. She has a six year old daughter and a one year old daughter. Kiki is 25 years old. While Granny has her massage Baba reads his book in his room. Olly has dug up a razor clam and shows it to Baba. He takes it back to the beach to let it continue snapping at unwary prey. We all meet at 5:30 for a couple of rounds of beetle drive. We go to the reception area and play on the large mancala board. Emma is beaten by Baba but Baba is beaten by Thomas. At lunchtime we ordered crayfish for dinner. Two crayfish split in half arrive at the table accompanied by chips and rice. The crayfish are known as lobster to us. Emma is sharing one with the boys. The Oldies are sharing the other one and Robin prefers his pasta dish. For pudding the most popular dish is bananas in tempura batter served with ice cream and butterscotch sauce. We retire to the pool area for a few rounds of killer pool. The boys are allowed two shots per go. Despite this Baba flukes a win. You start off with three lives and if you fail to pot a ball in your go at the table you lose a life. Granny is avoiding the carnage by going to bed. It's been a very relaxing day.

Previous DayContentsNext daySaturday, 24 August - Baba gets into the sea

Once again we have breakfast outside. We practise saying thank you in the local language which sounds like "can you mambo" but spelt kanimambo and is in the Xitswa language. We teach Kiki an alternative phrase to "you're welcome" as "it's my pleasure". After breakfast we go down to the beach. There is a rare sight to be seen but not for long. Baba has a swim in the sea. The boys dig a deep hole. Olly builds a tunnel, and, for a short while, is trapped in it. Fortunately he wriggles out head first and then jumps on the tunnel to collapse it. We have lunch under an umbrella overlooking our suite. It is our last time being served by Kiki as tomorrow she will start at 2pm and we will have departed by then. After a short rest we walk southwards along the beach to where Robin and the boys are trying to master wake boards. These are metre long surf boards which you try to ride over shallow water. As far as we can tell Thomas's technique is the most successful.
Several groups of people are landing their fish catches. There are many jellyfish lounging in the sun on the hard sand. We return to our room. We go to the reception area for a pre-dinner drink. Crispin asks us to pay cash for yesterday's walk but we don't have any. We agree to pay after dinner when there will be enough cash in the office. We have dinner but there is no fish so we are all disappointed. There are prawns and calamari. Baba orders the local speciality called matapa (crushed cassava leaves and shrimps) which comes with xima (anaemic polenta). It is an acquired taste but not one for Baba. The bottle of wine bought three nights ago is emptied. After the meal the debt to Crispin is settled with a credit card to the amount of 4000 meticals ($66). Baba and Thomas play pool with each winning a frame. The other lightweights have retired and it's not even 8pm.

Previous DayContentsNext daySunday, 25 August - From Vilankulos to Swanmore

The sun rises above the horizon just before 6am. We have breakfast outside. Kiki's one year old is unwell so she is working the morning shift. After breakfast Thomas beats Baba at pool by two frames to none. Baba sucks his thumb, declares life is so unfair, and then storms back to his room to sulk. We pack up our bags and go to reception at 10:45am. Our suitcases are carried on the heads of a lady and a man. We wait till our taxi is ready and are taken to the airport. Unfortunately our two suitcases are not included. Our driver makes a phone call and the bags arrive ten minutes later. We check in and go to the restaurant. Not long after we are requested to go to the gate. It's peculiar that daily there is one Airlink flight into Vilankulos and two Airlink flights out. It takes 80 minutes to fly to Jo'burg. We cross a large river but Tando the air hostess doesn't know its name nor do the flight crew. It is the Limpopo. When we land in Jo'burg we are taken in a bus to the terminal building where a man is waiting with a wheelchair for Granny. Johnny Walker takes us all through passport control to enter South Africa where we collect our bags and check them in. We pass through security and passport control to leave South Africa. Johnny drops Granny at the assistance waiting area. The Andersens go searching for more food. Granny buys biltong to chew and water to drink. We sit by an Afrikaans game farmer and his wife. They are going to stay with their son in Winnipeg travelling via Atlanta, Buffalo and Minneapolis - what a journey! As we cannot have a wheelchair till 7:20 we decide to walk to gate A12 as the rest of the party are already there. We take off on time in the Dreamliner piloted by a lady. We land at LHR at 7:10am. Granny has assistance to get her to the baggage area where the others have collected the luggage. Gary is waiting near W.H.Smiths. There is a bit of a wait getting a lift to the car park. Baba leaves Gary to determine which route to take (M3 and via Morestead) with the minibus. There's a burnt out Beetle on the clockwise lane of the M25 with what looks like a distraught Virgin hostess standing by.  There is a long tailback.  We arrive home at 10:30am having had a wonderful and very ejoyable holiday with our landlords and their children.
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