The Cities of South Africa:  Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, and Cape Town

2023 HAL World Cruise

Friday to Wednesday, March 10 to 15, 2023

We have just spent nearly a week in South Africa.  Upon arrival in Durban, we presented our passports and were welcomed.  This was on Wednesday morning.  It was a quick process that none-the-less took several hours simply because there are so many of us on board.  But once we had completed our face-to-face introduction to the customs officials, we were free to exit the ship and go out to explore!!!  We did so, promptly!!!

DURBAN…..

…..According to Wikipedia, quoting archaeological evidence, “…the Durban area has been inhabited by communities of hunter-gatherers since 100,000BC.”  Wow, that’s impressive!!!  Those original inhabitants are now called the KwaZulu-Natal people.  Surprisingly, there is no written history of the area prior to the arrival of Vasco da Gama in 1497.  There was, however, an oral history passed down from generation to generation of the Zulu inhabitants prior to the arrival of the Portuguese colonizers.  Interestingly, once Vasco da Gama reached this area, right around Christmas in 1497, the area was on the way to becoming the chief seaport of South Africa.

The modern city of Durban that exists today was founded in 1824 as Port Natal by the British; in 1835 it became the capital of the Cape Colony and was named “D’Urban” after the serving governor, Sir Benjamin D’Urban.

We arrived in Durban on Friday, March 10th. It is a busy and bustling port. Lots of traffic; many ships coming and going; lots of containers and cargo being loaded and unloaded. And the MS Zuiderdam added to the mix– unloading about 1400 passengers!!!
And every single one of us descended upon the city for sightseeing, shopping, and entertainment. The buses and taxis were very busy!!! We boarded a shuttle.
Our destination was Ushaka Marine World for some souvenir shopping and some time on the Durban beachfront (known as the Golden Mile.
It’s a quirky, fun place with many restaurants and several attractions!!!
Of course we walked the Golden mile (which is actually about 4 1/2 miles). And no, we did not do the entire 4 1/2 miles!!! We only went as far as the over water restaurant!!!
Our destination was the Ku D’Ta Pier Restaurant. And the bonus was the sand sculpting display along the way.
Once seated on the outdoor patio we ordered a plate of Nachos. It came with a lot of extras!!!
We topped it all off with a couple of brews. Roger had the locally brewed Castle Lager and reported it was very good.
When it was time to head back to the ship, we had the opportunity to view the interesting architecture of the city.
Some buildings are well tended; others, not so much. Typical city living!!!
We re-boarded the ship and set sail for our next port-of-call, East London, SA.

East London…..

…..is a small city on the Southeast coast of South Africa.  It lies on the Indian Ocean coast, between the Buffalo River and the Nahoon River.  It is the country’s only river port.  And it is important for the export of citrus fruit, mineral ores, and wood.  The first documented vessel to arrive in these waters was in 1688 while searching for survivors of a shipwreck.  In 1848, the area was annexed into the Cape Colony.  The town’s small museum contains the world’s only surviving egg of the extinct dodo bird!!!  But we did not see that.  Our stop in East London was cancelled due to anticipated bad weather and rough seas. 

As we were approaching East London, the Captain informed us of the storms and rough weather expected to come. Because East London is a small, shallow port and we are a large ship, it was deemed appropriate to by-pass the stop.
We departed East London and headed for the open sea.
And yes, the seas became quite rough!!!

Port Elizabeth…..

…..   is located half-way between Durban and Cape Town.  It is a major seaport and tourist destination on the Indian Ocean and along the shores of Nelson Mandela Bay.  The community has few attractions of note but is surrounded by charming countryside.  And that is what we set out to visit!!!  For less than $150.00/per person, we toured the Amakhala Game reserve for 3 hours, followed by a lovely lunch, on Sunday, March 12th.  We were lucky!!!  We had the pleasure of seeing 4 of the Big Five African Animals once popular with big-game hunters.  Back-in-the-day, the term “Big Five” was coined by the hunters and refers to the five most difficult and dangerous animals in Africa to hunt on foot.  Today, they are highly desired by professional photographers and tourists with cameras!!!  We were no exception!!!

We arrived in Port Elizabeth on the morning of March 12th.
And yes, the sea was much calmer!!!
The city appears to be charming; but we wouldn’t know–we left town and drove out to the Amakhala Game Reserve for a morning of critter-viewing and an afternoon of good food and wine!!!
Upon our arrival at Leeuwenbosch Country House and Shearers Lodge, we had time to view the historic facility and enjoy some light refreshment.
This is a welcoming and charming inn.
Rooms are available for multi-day safaris. As a matter of fact, Prince Harry and his entourage have been for a safari!!!
After enjoying the charms of this lovely site, as well as the coffee and sweets, we went out to the platforms and boarded the Range Rovers.
These vehicles are tough and perfect for the rugged cross-country search for the Big Five Animals!!!
It didn’t take long to come across leopards!!!
Followed shortly with a few rhinoceros!!!
We were amazed to come across the carcass of an eland……
…..and then we spotted the lion that caught it!!!
What a magnificent creature!!!
A little later, we caught up with the group of Eland where that lion’s meal may have been a member!!!
It was a thrill to come upon the elephant!!! But we never saw the fifth of the Big Five. The water buffalo was not seen on this day.
But we did see giraffes…..
…..along with zebras!!! And much, much more!!!
After several hours of chasing the animals, we returned to the lodge for lunch…..
…..and then went back to the ship to prepare for our next adventure in Cape Town.

Cape Town…..

…..It was still dark the morning we arrived in Cape Town for a 2-day stay.  We stepped out on the verandah to admire the lights of this large, cosmopolitan, vibrant city awakening to a new day. We spent Day 1 shopping for a few things we needed and then stopped for our usual lunch and libation.  We lingered for a while watching Table Mountain disappear under a cloud.  The locals call this phenomenon Table Mountain’s Tablecloth!!!  Later that evening, we joined friends at the Gold Restaurant for a traditional African dinner and a folkloric show.  The food (including ostrich stew) was exceptionally good.  And no, ostrich does not taste like chicken—it tastes like steak!!!

As we approached the port, Table Mountain dominated our early morning view of Cape Town. What a beautiful sight!!!
The port is conveniently located. It is not too far from the downtown area. It is very near the Victoria & Alfred shopping & entertainment area. And it is very easy to walk about; or catch a cab; or take a shuttle to almost anywhere you want to go!!!
We chose to spend our first day shopping for those things one runs out of periodically. So we shuttled over to the Victoria & Alfred complex. We learned that Alfred was Queen Victoria’s son; and it was he who began construction of the harbor in 1860.
So today, we were here for some serious shopping!!!
And afterwards, we stopped for our usual lunch and libation. We lingered for a while watching the tablecloth descend upon the Table Mountain!!!
What an amazing sight!!!
It was still descending as we returned to the ship!!!
Gold Restaurant is an experience. It is a large facility in an old and refurbished building. The many rooms accommodate groups both large and small with a fixed price menu including a musical folkloric show. This is a very nice introduction to South Africa.
The food is quite good. The first serving included Ostrich with greens; a tasty deep-fried bun that was slightly sweet; little parcels of carrot and potato; and finally, a patty of corn and spinach. All of this was quite tasty!!!
The second serving started with a vegetable and chickpea cous cous with summer vegetables; chicken with mango and lime; lamb & springbok casserole; fried fish; and tabbouleh salad.
The wonderful wine was a 2022 Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc.
The entertainment was ongoing during the meal and ended with diners receiving “face painting’ at the end!!!

Day 2 in Cape Town was a total joy as we spent the entire day touring the Stellenbosch Wineries!!!  Five of them to be precise!!!

On Day 2, we could see the tablecloth was receding. This cloud formation is so amazing!!!
We were up early and set out on our Stellenbosch wine-tasting tour. We began at the Rust en Verde Winery.
We tasted several wines but only bought the Cabernet Sauvignon.
The next stop was the Ernie Els Winery. Look at this well-tended green and the raised tee area. It’s here for the guests’ enjoyment. How fun!!! You can practice your swing!!! Everyone gives it a try!!!
Upon entry, our very first tasting was of our favorite Ernie Els Chenin Blanc. Heavenly!!! We plan to come home with 2 cases!!!
We felt priveleged to glimpse the grapes coming in for processing. This gentleman generously handed out samples!!!
Next, Uva Mira with its amazing view of both the ocean and the hills.
We liked both the Sauvignon Blanc……
…..and the 2018 Merlot. They are continuing the cruise with us!!!
Uva Mira offered charcuterie boards and we couldn’t resist!!!
Next, we went over to the Neethlingshof Winery.
They served a wine and food pairing.
But we left empty handed. Neethlingshof can be purchased in our local wine shop!!! Lucky us!!!
Our last visit was the Delaire Graff Winery.
This is a relatively new winery.
We tasted 2 wines: the 2022 Sauvignon Blanc…..
…..and the 2020 Botmaskop, We bought both!!!
And that completed our wine tasting tour. We returned to the ship and relinquished our wine bottles to the ships storage area….
We won’t see them again until we return to Ft. Lauderdale. And then we get to experience these wonderful wines all over again!!! We’ll look forward to that!!! But for now, we are moving on to Namibia.

We are working our way up the western coast of Africa.

Next, we’ll visit Luderitz and then Walvis Bay, both in Namibia.

Join us as the adventure continues!!!

6 thoughts on “The Cities of South Africa:  Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, and Cape Town”

    1. Thank you, Tony
      Cape Town is one of our favorite destinations!!! There is something special abut this city that simply makes it feel cozy and welcoming. Obviously, it is a big city and has its fair share of big city problems, but the people who live here appear to be happy, and are certainly friendly. And the wine ain’t too shabby either!!!!

      Like

  1. Enjoyed this segment, actually enjoying all your blogs very much. Wines look great. Hope David and Shirley are bringing some home to share with friends. 😏

    Continued safe travels,
    Jackie Brown

    Like

  2. Looks like a great trek and getting better. We spent 3 weeks in South Africa several years ago. Great place. We drove around for 3 weeks and partook of a lot of wine. Great food as well. Just home from 4 weeks in New Zealand and enjoyed your post from Down Under. I guess we were a bit more under.
    Keep up the great posts.

    Like

    1. Thanks, Bob

      We are finding Africa to be a continent of contrasts. This is the first time we’ve been immersed in the variety of cultures found here; who’d a thunk they’d be so different!!!

      Like

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