Joel and Gail Ettinger
New York - USA
19 March 2007
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I met Gail and Joel at the Portswood Hotel. Unfortunately they had lost a day in travel due to plane delays so we first sat down and worked out exactly how to see the best of Cape Town in the days that they had left in my city. Straight after our planning discussions we set off on a short city tour.
Joel and Gail in the Bo-Kaap area with Table Mountain in the background
After touring the city we had a fabulous Cape Malay lunch at Zorinas
We travelled out to Stellenbosch and visited the Ernie Els winefarm where I took the above picture of Gail
Joel enjoying the fabulous views on the winefarm
Gail finds peace and tranquility at Ernie Els in Stellenbosch. JJ
Winetasting at Ernie Els
Enjoying the wonderful architecture in Stellenbosch
With the Masakahne dance group in the Kayamandi township
With Lily and some young neighbors outside of Lily's home
We ended our day with a wonderful Afrikaner food meal at De Volkskombuis (The Nations Kitchen) in Stellenbosch
Cape Peninsula Tour
We started our day with a visit to Rhodes memorial
Gail admiring the Cecil John Rhodes bust at the memorial
Can you spot Joel in the Alphen fruit stall in Constantia? JJ
We stopped in at Kalkies in Kalk Bay for some REAL chips. JJ
At the penguin colony on the Boulders Beach
At Cape Point with the Cape of Good Hope in the background
The picture speaks for itself. JJ
The three of us on a rather windy Chapmans Peak
Gail and Joel enjoying Chapmans Peak
A great sunset photo of Gail on top of Table Mountain
Sunset on Table Mountain - What a way to end a great Cape Town tour!
This was an absolutely fabulous tour. At all times these 2 fabulous New Yorkers were an absolute delight to travel with. We had so much fun together and our tour was a non stop fun event. We experienced much together and we shared much of what South Africa is about today. The debate was contagious and great fun to say the very least. What is more is I even got Joel to sit down and patiently enjoy the aroma of Cape Town and not only just see it. JJ Overall this was truly a fun a minute tour which I enjoyed very much and can but only hope that Joel and Gail enjoyed themselves as much as I did.
THANKS FOR ALL
JOEL AND GAIL
Received this most wonderful mail which can act as a most useful guide for future travellers to South Africa too
2 April 2007
We're home....jet lagged, but happy to be home. Joel and I wanted to thank
you again. You are an extraordinary guide...that's the word we've been using
with all our friends...way beyond the ordinary.... You even helped us
recapture our lost day in Cape Town. Thank you so much!
The rest of our trip went smoothly. Our least favorite was our stay in
White River at Jatinga Lodge and the day trip on the Panorama Drive. You had
spoiled us, and the guide we had there just did not measure up. He said that
they had had a below-normal rainy season and therefore there wasn't much to show us. Even the views at the overlooks were hazy. His politics and opinions
were not to our liking, either. Jatinga was a lovely facility but was not
full, and the food was only acceptable.
Lion Sands River Lodge was wonderful! The food was spectacular...a great
variety of offerings, including local ingredients, and a great variety in
service. We were there three nights and only one night was menu-driven. The
second night was a braii served on a dry river bed and the third night was another
buffet served in an outdoor area that also included singing entertainment
from the staff. The game viewing was wonderful -- we saw the Big Five within
the first 24 hours. We had a wonderful native guide who had worked his way
from being a tracker. He told us that most tourists prefer the white guides,
but he can do a better job since he grew up in the area and has known the area
and the animals for much longer. His name was Bernard and he seemed to find
the best sitings before the other vehicles came to join us. We toured with
three other couples and even though we were from different backgrounds and of
different ages, we all got along well and enjoyed exchanging giggles along the
way. I think you will enjoy knowing that one of these people is Peter
Philander, who moved out of South Africa when the Group Area Act was passed, and whose father was a well known poet writing in Afrikaans. PJ Philander recently passed away and the son and his wife who we met had just donated his papers to the University of Stellenbosch. They said that the librarians at the
University were positively giddy about the donation.
As we flew to Botswana, we truly felt that it was going to be tough to top
Lion Sands. But we should not have worried....Vumbura Plains Camp supassed all our hopes and expectations in every way except for the food, which was below average - both in variety and in quality with little in the way of local
ingredients. Gristly lamb chunks and potatoes is not our idea of a delicious
dinner. But the game viewing was amazing. We drove shorter distances and saw
more animals - some we never knew existed like the sable antelope - in greater
numbers, and even two or more species of animals grazing and browsing in the
same spaces....all living in harmony. We heard lions at night, and one
afternoon there was an elephant happily munching on trees and bushes right outside our tent -- which is bigger than our Manhattan apartment! We took a mokoro ride one morning and saw the teeny frogs that make the big sounds after dark, and hippos and day water lillies and nigt water lillies. We took a pontoon
boat ride and motored through large stands of papyrus... It was fabulous!
Our guide was another wonderful fellow who told me one quiet afternoon that he
had grown up in the area, and was self-educated, reading everything he can
Both camps were very different from our African Queen and Tarzan views of
what an African jungle would be like, but Botswana was much greener.
Then we really had an adventure as we flew in a four passenger plane to
Kasani, transferred to another Land Rover to a 12' outboard motor boat to cross the Zambezi River and enter Zambia. These connections were amazingly smooth. Victoria Falls was another wonderful experience. We stayed in the Zambezi Sun Hotel which is very close to the Falls and Joel walked over four times in a day to capture photos in different light. I went three times all together,
to his 6 visits and we walked to the International Bridge as far as the
Zimbabwe border. We had dinner both nights at the Royal Livingstone Hotel, enjoying a cocktail at sunset and their dignified atmosphere and fine dining, while
the Zambezi Sun is all buffet for about the same price. We enjoyed the greater
international crowds at the Falls, too.
All together, this trip will always be one of our favorites. And you got us
off to such a good start. Joel's camera worked well, and we have about 500
photos to go through now, select the best ones and do a little photo
editing...reluctantly parting with all the duplicates.
We would also like to ask you about how we can make a contribution to Kayamandi. How would we go about doing that? What are our options, including how would we sponsor a child's education? As you can see, our visit to Kayamandi made a power impression on us. Thank you again for encouraging us to visit all the people there.
We were quite serious about wanting you to let us know when you decide to
tackle the US visa process again and come to New York. We recognize that you
have friends in Riverdale, but you are also most welcome in our guest room.