Posts Tagged With: South Africa

H-Bomb’s Sunday photo, week 61: a leopard in a tree in South Africa

St. Patrick’s Day may be almost upon us, but my thoughts today are of a place that’s vastly different from Ireland. This week’s featured image comes from the safari that I took in South Africa. One of the highlights of my safari was seeing members of each of the traditional “Big Five” species: elephant; lion; Cape buffalo; rhinoceros; and leopard. Leopards are agile creatures and they like to hang out on tree branches, high above the ground:

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This guy was sleeping up there for a while. I couldn’t imagine catching my zzz’s in such a precarious perch; I would be afraid of falling off. 🙂 Anyway, this photo was taken during my visit to South Africa in September 2011.

Would you like to go on safari?

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Places that captured my heart: the top 5 cities that I long to return to

8079727_mWhen I venture forth from my home base of New York City, I tend to prioritize visiting destinations that I’ve never been to before. It’s my goal to explore as many different places on the planet as I can (and, along the way, to sing karaoke wherever in the world I can find it). If I had my druthers, I would travel as often as possible to the spots that I most enjoyed in the past, while constantly adding new locales to my itinerary. Due to time constraints, however, first-time destinations tend to win out when I’m planning my next holiday. There are few overseas cities that I end up getting to more than once. But some metropolises have made such an impression on me that I’m fervently hoping to find a way to spend more time in them. This post is about the five global cities that I would most like to return to.

Note that in compiling this list, my focus was on international travel, and accordingly I only considered cities outside my native United States. I’m certainly always up for going back to American locations such as San Francisco, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Chicago, Miami Beach, and Seattle; but that’s a discussion for another day.

This post was written in response to a challenge by Arnab of the blog Travel Andy. Anyway, here are my top 5!
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Categories: Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania and South Pacific, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

H-Bomb’s Friday Photo, week 38: the view from Table Mountain in Cape Town

Happy November! Today is just another Friday as I count down to my departure for Peru and Panama, now less than three weeks away. I’m getting pretty excited about those impending additions to my World Karaoke Tour! I still have no idea what songs I’m going to perform in those countries; but I’m confident that my journey will feature some unforgettable nights of singing. Seeing Machu Picchu and the Panama Canal, among other sights, will be pretty awesome too.

It’s time for another photograph of the week that memorializes one of my favourite destinations from the past! Today’s featured image comes from Cape Town, South Africa. That city’s signature landmark is not man-made; it’s the natural wonder of Table Mountain. A flat-topped promontory overlooking the city, Table Mountain boasts breathtaking views from its approximately 3,500-foot elevation. Here’s one of them:

Cape Town view

In this view, you can see the rotating cylindrical cable car that ferries visitors to the summit. (You can also choose to hike up the mountain.) Visible in the background are the smaller peak known as Lion’s Head; and, beyond it, the Atlantic Ocean. Cape Town’s city centre is just to the right of the frame.

This photo was taken during my visit to South Africa in September 2011. To see what Table Mountain looks like from ground level, go here.

Would you like to go to the top of Table Mountain?

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Categories: Africa, H-Bomb's Friday Photo, travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

H-Bomb’s Friday Photo, Week 7: a tablecloth in Cape Town

Hey everyone! I hope you’re finishing up an outstanding week. This week’s featured image comes from Cape Town, South Africa. When a cloud rolls in over iconic Table Mountain, locals call the effect a “tablecloth.” Here, you can see such a phenomenon in action.

The view here is looking towards Table Mountain from the Victoria & Albert Waterfront. The Lego-like sculpture of a man in the right foreground is made entirely of Coca-Cola crates; entitled “Crate Fan,” it was built for the World Cup in 2010 and is still there. The artist who created it is Porky Hefer (I swear, I’m not making that up, that’s really his name).

This photo was taken during my visit to South Africa in September 2011.

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Categories: Africa, H-Bomb's Friday Photo, travel | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

My journey into the heart of darkness: an H-Bomb safari extravaganza

Some hotels are situated in dangerous neighborhoods. If you venture down the block, you risk getting mugged. But when you go on safari, stepping outside your bungalow can get you eaten.

My South Arican safari adventure took me far outside my usual comfort zone. As you’ll see, the perils that I faced did include the possibility of becoming fresh meat. But the discomfort started before I even arrived. It began with the airplane I needed to take to get to the safari.

One thing you need to understand about me: I hate flying. I don’t mean that I dislike it because of the delays, or the hassle of going through airport security checkpoints, or the poor customer service that has become all too common (although none of those things thrills me). What I mean is that flying scares me. It absolutely terrifies me.

This might seem surprising for someone who travels as much as I do. Obviously, I don’t let my fear prevent me from doing what I love. When I’m on holiday I force myself to board airplanes, because the rewards of reaching the places to which they whisk me are so substantial. But during much of the time that we’re airborne, I’m a nervous wreck — especially during turbulence. Yes, I know how statistically safe commercial air travel is; and I know too that turbulence usually poses no danger to the safety of the flight (although there may be occasional exceptions). But that intellectual awareness is of scant comfort when my aircraft is being tossed around in the stratosphere. I’m somewhat calmer when I’m riding on one of the jumbo jets that are typically employed for long-haul international flights; but even then, bumpy air unsettles me. Perhaps the most terrifying hour of my life occurred during a flight from Sydney to Hong Kong in January 2010. The plane was shaking so violently that I had to hold on to the tray table in front of me. I kept wondering how close we were approaching to the plane’s stress limits; and until we emerged from whatever horrendous weather we were bouncing through, I was convinced that a plunge into the badly-misnamed Pacific Ocean was imminent. And that frightful episode happened aboard an Airbus A340-600, among the largest airliners ever built.

So when I was making plans to go on safari in September 2011, I became very, very nervous upon learning that the only way I could reach my chosen location (the Elephant Plains lodge at the Sabi Sands game reserve in South Africa) was to hitch a ride on a tiny propeller plane. That was my only option for transit from Johannesburg to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport in Nelspruit (well, my only option unless I wanted to show up at the Johanesburg airport at 6:00 am for ground transportation all the way to Sabi Sands. And I am so not a morning person; even making it to Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport for my 9:00 am depature to Nelspruit was not easy for me). While Mpumalanga has a cool name, you’re forced to strap yourself into a perilously small aircraft if you desire the privilege of landing there.

As the date and time of my white-knuckle flight approached, my apprehension soared, based on a combination of two factors: the plane would be minuscule, and it would have propellers instead of jet engines. Small planes just provide less of a feeling of security — it’s like the difference between driving onto the autobahn in a SmartCar versus a tractor-trailer. As well, you tend to feel turbulence more in smaller planes. And in case I haven’t mentioned it, I hate turbulence. 🙂 Propeller planes terrify me for the additional reason that I’m always fearful the propellers will stop spinning. Hey, I didn’t say my phobia is rational.

My stay in South Africa began when I arrived at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport on a Saturday morning. Two days later, I was back at the same airport for my flight to Nelspruit. Shown at right is the actual plane that I was forced to climb into. I might as well have just been wearing wings on my back. After we’d been seated for takeoff, I turned to the passenger beside me and told her I was nervous because I had never flown on a plane as small as the one that we were now on. “I’m scared too,” she responded. That was reassuring . . .

The flight on that little puddle-jumper actually turned out to be remarkably smooth (an example of the very common phenomenon of the apprehension turning out to have been much worse than the thing that was feared). Even so, I was on pins and needles until we touched down at Nelspruit.

The next phase of my journey to Sabi Sands consisted of ground transportation. This involved a roughly three hour ride in a minivan. The distance that we covered was not nearly as vast as the duration might suggest, but much of the drive was over bouncy dirt roads that could only be traversed at a low rate of speed.

It was a huge relief to be securely on terra firma, but a new issue had arisen. I was sick. Beginning the previous day, I’d felt intermittently feverish; now my condition was steadily deteriorating. By the time of my van ride to Sabi Sands, I’d developed full-blown flu-like symptoms. Continue reading

Categories: Africa, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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