Roger & Lari’s South Africa & Belgium Trip   3 comments

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

ROGER AND LARI’S 2012 FALL VACATION

Presenting the latest episode of Roger and Lari’s Travels

“South Africa & Belgium”

September 6 to 28, 2012

It was a wonderful adventure to go on safari in South Africa! I hesitated booking a safari trip for years because of the high prices. Just the airfare alone, is costly. Early this year, my sister Christine, went to a silent auction at a fundraiser for a local hospital in Boulder, Colorado where she lives. She was able to purchase a 6-day safari package for two for $2,200 at Zulu Nyala Lodge in South Africa, which includes lodging, 3 meals a day, and two safaris per day. And she offered me the same deal, which is good anytime in 2012 or 2013. So I immediately said yes, and bought the certificate for the safari package. I decided to go this year, and she is going next year. We were gone for 3 weeks because we went to Cape Town on our own after the safari and then to Brussels for a week to visit family, who live near Brussels.

It took us 3 gruelling red eye flights to reach Durban S. Africa, where a shuttle picked us up to drive us to Zulu Nyala. Our lodge was beautiful with a swimming pool and large dining room and our room was lovely with a large bathroom and comfortable beds. They even had wifi so my iphone and ipad worked! Amazing! We were assigned to Chris for our driver guide who took us out each morning and each afternoon with 6 other people. 4 times, he drove into the mud and we had to push our vehicle out of the mud. On our last day the mud was so deep, and there were only 4 of us, so we could not push him out. Chris had to walk us out to a main road where another guide picked us up, and he waited for a tractor to rescue his vehicle. We saw rhino, impala, nyala, warthog, giraffe, zebra, cheetah, cape buffalo, vulture, and more. The daily routine was to have breakfast, go out for a morning drive, come back for lunch and rest, go out for afternoon drive, come back to relax and have dinner. Once, we went out for a night drive and once on an early morning drive before breakfast. The most exciting sight was watching a male cheetah feeding on his kill-a nyala. We were able to walk up as close as 6 feet away from him while he was eating.

Most of the guests were there through silent or live auctions, and everyone paid a different price depending on the highest bid at their respective auctions. In our group, there was one couple that paid less than us, ($1800) and everyone else paid more than us, the highest being $7000. Trevor Shaw is one of South Africa’s most reputable diamond dealers. A lover of African bush and wildlife, Trevor acquired a small private game lodge and reserve in Kwa-Zulu Natal, naming it Zulu Nyala. It started out as a place for his family and friends, then it was used for filming movies. Eventually, he started giving travel packages to Zulu Nyala as donations to help raise funds for charities in the United States, which bring many Americans to this beautiful country.

We had to pay extra to go to other reserves. Our reserve has 3 elephants, which we could see on a ridge from our swimming pool, but we could not see them up close. One day we went to a neighboring reserve, called Phinda Private Reserve, hoping to see lions and elephants. We went in their vehicle, which has a ranger/driver and a tracker who sits up front looking for animal tracks. Although we did not spot a single elephant, we saw a pride of lions twice. Once we saw them on the road, and when we stopped our vehicle, they walked right past us! Later, we saw them resting, so our ranger drove up close to them so we could all snap photos in awe.

On our last day, we went to Hluhluwe Imfolozi National Park. We were lucky to see wild dogs, hyena, baboon, rhino, a dung beetle rolling a ball of dung, and finally, we saw elephants. Several of them crossed the road right in front of us, with their babies. We were satisfied after seeing the elephants. So we got to see 4 of the Big 5: Rhino, elephant, cape buffalo, and lion. We did not see leopard since it is nocturnal, although there was one on our reserve and some of our friends saw it.

We flew to Cape Town, located at the tip of South Africa. We hired a driver to take us on tours, since we did not feel comfortable driving on the left side. Our first tour was a beautiful drive down to the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point. We saw ostrich, penguins, had lunch at a seafood restaurant by the sea, toured one winery and went up Table Mountain overlooking the city of Cape Town.  The next day we had a winery tour, and stopped at two wineries and had lunch at Moyo restaurant, where we sat up in a tree and had South African buffet. We stayed at a B&B in Sea Point, a lovely part of the city.

Then we flew to Brussels, and stayed for 2 days where we drank Belgian beer, ate Belgian waffles, decadent chocolates, had mussels in Brussels, and other delicious French food, such as frog legs, escargot and onion soup. Belgium is a unique country without a language of its own. They speak French in the western part of the country close to France and Dutch on the eastern part close to Netherlands. In Brussels, we visited the Royal Palace and Grand Place-the main town square with outstanding architecture. We visited the Atomium, which was built for the World Fair in 1958 and is still a popular attraction, just outside of Brussels. We rode the elevator to the top sphere, with views all around.

We drove to La Louviere and visited with Sharmaine, my cousin Brian Kimura’s daughter and her husband David and two children, Collin and Addison. David is in the Navy and works at SHAPE-Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe. The children are learning French at school. Sharmaine volunteers at a little shop that recycles household goods on the Army Base, called Grandma’s Attic, selling her crafts.  We spent the weekend with them. On Saturday, we went to SHAPE and the Army Base to shop for our omiyage. On Sunday, we drove to Liege, a city on the other side of Brussels to the famous Sunday Market, with vendors along the river for a mile, selling everything you can think of. On Monday, Sharmaine left her family for 2 days and went with us to Venlo, Netherlands to Floriade, a special exposition that is held every 10 years. Many countries have display tents/buildings and one large building has fabulous flower displays. We stayed overnight in Venlo and walked around the huge Floriade grounds for 2 days. They have entertainment, food, and many display buildings.

We had a wonderful trip!

Lari’s Top Favorites:

8         The delicious food in Belgium: beer, waffles, onion soup, frog legs and more

7         Brussels is a very easy city to get around in with lots of culture and history

6         Visiting with Sharmaine’s family in Belgium

5         Beautiful Cape Town and environs, especially Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope

4         The pride of lions walking right next to our vehicle

3         The elephant sighting on the last day of our safari

2         I loved seeing the female cheetah with her 3 cubs up close

1         Safari experience: having to drive around the game reserves searching for different animals and watching the male cheetah eating his kill, a nyala.

Roger’s favorites:

At Zulu Nyala Safari we saw, from only 6 feet away, a cheetah grinding a nyala he downed . He was cool and never let us bother him, while he dined-such a pussy cat! We saw a mama cheetah and her 3 cubs. Was pretty tough because they took about 50 shots and never flinched-camera shots az why. After searching for 2 days, we finally saw about 2 dozen elephants crossing the road in front of us. Just like the rhino, when the big bull buggah looks at you, you get this creepy feeling and wonder why the driver doesn’t reverse and haul ass.

We saw warthogs, wildebeest, zebras, giraffes, wild dogs, hyenas, impalas, hippos, baboons, monkeys, buffalos, vultures, eagles, cervals, and more. As for the animals, last, but not least, a pride of lions walked right by our vehicle as if they own the jungle. I could have reached out to pet them as they passed our vehicle, but the law says no feeding.

Cape Town is a beautiful city, and very clean and modern. We had a nice view of the city from Table Mountain, with a gondola which turns 360º as it goes up and down. It was the first spinning gondola I ever rode. Wine tasting was okay and lunch of African food up in a tree house was a farce. We ate in the tree house, but had to climb down to get our buffet lunch.

Brussels is a beautiful city with a lot of green parks, a palace, many churches, and old hotels. Their city square (Grand Place) is really a rectangle, but the nicest one I’ve seen.          The Belgian waffles are so crispy they broke your mouth. Coffee and beer are all 5 stars. Mussels in Brussels is true, but Uncle Bo’s clams are mo betah by far.  One negative thing about Belgium, is that you gotta pay 25 to 60 cents to use the facilities. For toilet services, South Africa is the best. In Belgium, the homes no mo water pipes outside for water the yard. The farm and garden irrigation comes from the sky – – get so much rain, it’s super green. Brussels is a typical European city with lots of beautiful architecture old buildings and a lot of statues.

Posted November 4, 2012 by lariyasui in Africa, Europe

Tagged with , , , , ,

3 responses to “Roger & Lari’s South Africa & Belgium Trip

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Your travelogues are always so interesting! Thanks for sharing…
    Suelyn

  2. Hi Larry!

    Love the pictures! It sounds like you had a fabulous time. We went to South Africa and Victoria Falls in 2009 with smartours and had a wonderful time. Didn’t get to see any cheetah, tho! I’m so jealous!! Right now we’re at a hot springs hotel in the Andes in Ecuador. We spent 10 days in Peru and are now on a 7 day extension into Ecuador. Tomorrow we head to the Amazon River basin for two nights in the rain forest with hikes into the forest. I’m hoping we’ll get to see some of the local inhabitants. One of our new friends on this trip is from Honolulu! Small world!

    Take care.

    Peggy and Gary Gentry

  3. Awesome Pictures- all those animals and no hiking for Roger!! Love Tom n Tyke

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: