Praia, Ilha de Santiago, Cape Verde

2018 HAL World Cruise

Thursday, April 19, 2018

It was the Portuguese who settled the island of Santiago in 1462.  Antonio da Noli discovered the island and built a garrison in what is now Cidade Velha (Old Town) but was known then as Ribeira Grande.  It was transcontinental slavery that made Ribeira Grande the second richest city in the Portuguese realm.   Praia, which means “beach” was a coastal community about 9 miles away.  So, when French pirates attacked Ribeira Grande in 1712, the inhabitants moved to the plateau above Praia.  Today, Praia is the capital of Cape Verde.

We found Praia to be charming and more Mediterranean than African.  Many of the buildings date to the Portuguese era, the sidewalks are decorated with the signature Portuguese designs, and although U.S. dollars are accepted and English is widely spoken, the music is exotic and reminds you there is an African influence.

We took the ship’s shuttle up to the plateau and spent the entire day walking around, shopping, visiting the sites and enjoying the local brew!!!!

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On the dock in Praia, Cape Verde looking at the city before us. The original “Praia” is on the coast and the fortified city is on the plateau.
Taking the shuttle up to the plateau.
Taking the shuttle up to the plateau.
Seen while on the shuttle to town.  Talk about great posture!
Seen while on the shuttle to town. Talk about great posture!
Looking back at the MS Amsterdam.
Looking back at the MS Amsterdam.
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The cannon along the old fortified city wall looks like it’s aimed directly at our ship!
looking down to the coastal part of the city.
looking down to the coastal part of the city.
The Church
The Church
Interior of the Church.
Interior of the Church.
The Presidential Residence
The Presidential Residence
Walking through town.
Walking through town.
The colorful market!
The colorful market!
Everything looked good!
Everything looked good!
The people were very nice!
The people were very nice!
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As we entered the square, we found a concert taking place! We quickly snagged a table and spent a lovely time sampling the local brew and enjoying the music! Morna is the music of Cape Verde. Sounds like an Argentine tango with Cape Verdean lyrics.

 

We are now on our way across the Atlantic and will arrive at our final port-or-call, San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Thursday.  The party is almost over.

Dakar, Senegal

2018 HAL World Cruise

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Dakar was an interesting port.  Situated on the Cap-Vert peninsula, it has been an important trading location—starting from Goree in the 1500s and later from the mainland when the railroad was built in 1906.  Today, it is the capital of Senegal.  Because we chose to visit Goree, we didn’t see much of the city itself.  Our short excursion to the Pullman Hotel took us across pot-holed, dirty, sand-filled sidewalks where the locals elected to walk in the streets instead.  We found the smiling local folks to be charming.  If we ever return, we’ll try to spend more time exploring the city.

Meanwhile, here are photos of the lovely island of Goree:

On the dock in Dakar, Senegal.
On the dock in Dakar, Senegal.
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The Ferry Terminal (but you must exit the port at the cruise dock and re-enter at the Port Authority)
Waiting to take the ferry over to Goree Island.
Waiting to take the ferry over to Goree Island.
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Boarding the ferry to Goree Island along with lots of schoolchildren wearing their school colors.
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Boarding the ferry–but look at the boat behind us–Its name is “BEER”! Now those must be party peope!
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On our way to the island. Goree is infamous as a slave trading center and many of the old buildings are still there as is a museum. But the island, today, is more an artists’ colony with many artisans living and working there.
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Goree Island was settled by the Portuguese in 1556. This is the old fortress which now houses the museum.
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Entering the “House of Slaves” built in 1776. But by that time, the island was under French rule.
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The “House of Slaves” is where the “product” of people was stored. Ships approached from the sea and the slaves were transfered though the “Door to Nowhere” also known as “The Door of No Return”
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As many as 25 people would be cramped in a cell of this size. The slot at the back was for food delivery.
Door of No Return
Door of No Return
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The view, from the sea, of “The House of Slaves” (the pink building with upper story columns) and the infamous “Door to Nowhere” visible just above the water line.
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This sculpture is from the Martinique people and celebrates the abolition of the slave trade on Goree Island in 1848.
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Today, the island is a colony for artists. Its streets and old buildings are charming.
The Church
The Church
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Monumenat to the history of Goree Island presented to Senegal by the United States.
Passing some Baobab Trees as we return to the harbor.
Passing some Baobab Trees as we return to the harbor.
Back at the harbor.
Back at the harbor.
Waiting for the ferry.
Waiting for the ferry.
Passing a fishing boat as we return to Dakar on the mainland.
Passing a fishing boat as we return to Dakar on the mainland.
Back in Dakar, we took the shuttle to Independence Square.
Back in Dakar, we took the shuttle to Independence Square.
From Independence Square we walked to the Pullman Hotel.
From Independence Square we walked to the Pullman Hotel.
Pullman Hotel
Pullman Hotel
The end of day libation.
The end of day libation.
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And we return to the MS Amsterdam where the provisions for our upcoming Atlantic crossing are being loaded.

Next, we will visit Praia on the Island of Santiago in Cape Verde.

Banjul, Gambia

2018 HAL World Cruise

Monday, April 16, 2018

 

In 1816, Captain Alexander Grant (by order of the British Colonial Office) established a military post on Banjul Island.  He renamed the island St. Mary’s and named the settlement in honor of Colonial Secretary Henry Bathurst.  The settlement was meant to suppress the slave trade out of Western Africa and, also, served as a trade outlet for the merchants who were ejected from Senegal when the French took over.  Eventually, it became the capital of the British colony and protectorate of Gambia.  With Gambia’s independence, it became the national capital.  The name was changed to Banjul in 1973.

This is a very poor country.  The people are very nice and look happy but we wonder what it is like to live here.  Our guide, was a port guard who took the day off to earn extra money as a guide and driver.  Four of us hired him for 4 hours and paid him U.S.$80.00 for his services.  Not only did he perform as a guide; he was our protector as he fended off over-zealous hawkers and (no doubt) potential pickpockets!

It is our custom to start a port day by taking photos from the aft deck.
It is our custom to start a port day by taking photos from the aft deck.
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In Gambia, you can see all the main sites without ever leaving the ship! Arch 22 was built to commemorate the military coup of July 22, 1994, when President Jawara was overthrown and replaced by Yahya Jammeh, also replaced in 2017 by Adama Barrow.
These are the twin minarets of the King Fahad Mosque.
These are the twin minarets of the King Fahad Mosque.
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We disembarked the ship and looked for a taxi. Most of our cruise mates were taking organized ship’s tours.
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One of the bridge guards introduced us to a driver (a port employee earning extra money on ship day). We walked across the bridge to the police station, loaded up into Seedy’s vehicle, and set out for Kotu Beach.
Seedy and his car for our trip to Kotu Beach.
Seedy and his car for our trip to Kotu Beach.
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As we were exiting the port gate, we saw about a dozen of these carts coming in. This is merchandise, from all over the island, that will be set out at the dock for a pop-up market!!!!
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As we left the port area, we passed Dobson Street, an old neighborhood with distinctive buildings buit by the Portuguese. It was a bit of a disappointment. The buildings are there, but in disrepair. So sad.
Dobson Street
Dobson Street
Markets set up along the road to Kotu Beach
Markets set up along the road to Kotu Beach
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This is a very poor country. the people are very nice but the living conditions look challenging.
Schoolkids playing soccer without a soccer ball.
Schoolkids playing soccer without a soccer ball.
School girls carrying no books.
School girls carrying no books.
Ahh, ther's always another mosque!
Ahh, ther’s always another mosque!
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Arriving in Kotu Beach where we find a commercial district set up to provide services for the condo dwellers. There’s a supermarket, gas station, restaurants, and lots & lots of vendor stalls!
Vendors are selling wood carvings, jewelry, fabrics and clothing.
Vendors are selling wood carvings, jewelry, fabrics and clothing.
Kotu Beach
Kotu Beach
Walking along Kotu Beach.
Walking along Kotu Beach.
Enjoying the local brew at Sailor's Beach Bar.
Enjoying the local brew at Sailor’s Beach Bar.
Eye-catching wall mural.
Eye-catching wall mural.
Even the stonework is lovely!
Even the stonework is lovely!
Leaving Kotu Beach and heading back to the city.
Leaving Kotu Beach and heading back to the city.
Approaching the port.
Approaching the port.
Entertainers on the dock to see us off.
Entertainers on the dock to see us off.

This experience was eye-opening and thought-provoking!

 

Our next port is Dakar, Senegal.

Luanda, Angola

2018 HAL World Cruise

Tuesday, Aril 10, 2018

 

In 1955, oil was discovered in Angola.  But the country did not emerge from its decades long civil war until 2002.  Ever since, the country has witnessed an economic boom.  New construction is taking place everywhere!  This is very much a place in transition.  Once called “The Paris of Africa,” the current energy of entrepreneurs, engineers, financial experts, and workers from all over the world remind many of those long-ago times.  Unfortunately, the boom has rocketed Luanda to “World’s Most Expensive City” status in recent years.  That is why the contrast of the have to the have-nots is so stark.  As a cruise ship tourist, we all had a pleasant stay.  But one wonders, “What is it like to live here?”

On the dock in Luanda, Angola
On the dock in Luanda, Angola
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The city is in transition. The old buildings sit side by side with the new. Construction is an on going process!
The Port Authority Building is a beautiful structure.
The Port Authority Building is a beautiful structure.
The Cathedral is dwarfed by the new highrises!
The Cathedral is dwarfed by the new highrises!
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Hotel Presidente was recently built to luxurious standards. The have and have-not divide is striking. The city is ringed by slums but remains charming in its downtown center.
Elegant artwork in the Hotel Presidente
Elegant artwork in the Hotel Presidente
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The old Fort, built in 1576 by the Portuguese, was once the center of slave trade for the Portuguese Colonies in Brazil.
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That large structure is the Mausoleum of Antonio Agostinho Neto, First Communist President of Angola.
The Marginal is the promenade along the waterfront.  Quite nice.
The Marginal is the promenade along the waterfront. Quite nice.
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This Market was set up outside the port gates specificallly for us! The Hotel Presidente is directly across from the market.
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A drone hovering outside the Hotel Presidente and viewed from the 6th floor lounge where many of the cruise ship passengers were enjoying the day. Don’t you just wonder, “Who’s watching!?!”

We are now on our way to Banjul, Gambia.

Walvis Bay, Namibia

2018 HAL World Cruise

Saturday, April 7, 2018

 

Since leaving Cape Town, South Africa, the Cruise Line has been warning all passengers about the safety and security concerns of the upcoming ports-of-call.  Apparently criminal confrontations and armed attacks occur on a pretty regular basis.  We are receiving written instructions on how to stay safe; we get lectures on where not to go; we are encouraged to travel in groups; we are told how to behave, what to wear, and what to look out for!  But the incongruity is when we actually disembark in a port—it looks as safe as any other port we’ve ever been to!  Walvis Bay, Namibia is a case in point.

We arrived in Walvis Bay on an overcast morning.  The cruise line provided a shuttle from the port to both the brand-new Dunes Mall and the Walvis Bay Lagoon.  We usually disembark around 10:00-10:30am, so we decided to visit the Mall first.  We shopped for souvenirs (there were none—this is a typical mall meant to serve the local residents’ needs.  The most popular stores were the supermarket and pharmacy!)  So, after enjoying coffee at the Mug & Bean Café, we hopped on the shuttle and went out to the Lagoon.  The homes we passed along the way were lovely.  We actually joked that everything was so neat and tidy this must be a community of expats from Germany!  And that turns out to be true!  This is a very attractive area for German travelers who love the warmth of the sun and the refreshing blue sea!

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On the dock in Walvis Bay. Look closely and you will see the exact street where the city of Walvis Bay ends and the Namib Desert begins!
Waiting for the shuttle to take us to the Dunes Mall or the Walvis Bay Lagoon.
Waiting for the shuttle to take us to the Dunes Mall or the Walvis Bay Lagoon.
The town stops abruptly at the Namib Desert!
The town stops abruptly at the Namib Desert!
Arriving at the Dunes Mall, located at the very edge of the Namib Desert.
Arriving at the Dunes Mall, located at the very edge of the Namib Desert.
Arriving at the Dunes Mall, we found it just the same as any mall in the US.
Arriving at the Dunes Mall, we found it just the same as any mall in the US.
We stopped for coffee at the Mug & Bean Cafe.
We stopped for coffee at the Mug & Bean Cafe.
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Internet was available at the cafe, but very slow and sketchy. We gave up and decided it was beater to pay for our minutes on the ship rather than waste time trying to save a few dollars slogging on the Namibian WiFi!
Driving thru Walvis Bay we saw many lovely, well-kept homes.
Driving thru Walvis Bay we saw many lovely, well-kept homes.
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We did, however, notice that all homes are heavily walled or fenced; many have electric wire atop the fencing; and everyone seems to own several very large dogs!
Back on the shutle, we head over to the waterfront and lagoon.
Back on the shutle, we head over to the waterfront and lagoon.
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As we approach the Lagoon, we can see the promenade that extends from the waterfront at the dock all the way down the Lagoon.
We walked along the Lagoon and admired all the lovely homes.
We walked along the Lagoon and admired all the lovely homes.
These are really nice homes!
These are really nice homes!
Now look at this!  The pink flamingoes of the Walvis Bay Lagoon.
Now look at this! The pink flamingoes of the Walvis Bay Lagoon.
Walking along the promenade.
Walking along the promenade.
Enjoying the park-like atmosphere.
Enjoying the park-like atmosphere.
Along the Lagoon promenade
Along the Lagoon promenade
Stopoping for refreshment at the Raft Restaurant
Stopoping for refreshment at the Raft Restaurant
And ending our day with the standard local brew!
And ending our day with the standard local brew!

 

We had a great time in Walvis Bay.  Now we’re on our way to Luanda, Angola!

Cape Town, South Africa

2018 HAL World Cruise

Tuesday, April 3 to Thursday, April 5, 2018

This is not our first visit to the African continent. We have visited Morocco many times; seen Tunisia and Egypt; but we have never ventured beyond the Mediterranean facing countries. Until now!

We began our African adventures in Maputo, Mozambique but very quickly traveled to the border and crossed into South Africa. After several magical days on Safari, we wound up in Cape Town for 3 days of sensory satisfaction! Cape Town is a beautiful, sophisticated city. The MS Amsterdam sailed into Duncan Dock Berth D. From the aft deck, we had a stunning view of Table Mountain along with Signal Hill, Lion’s Head, and Devils Peak. The cruise line provided a shuttle from the dock to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. This is a huge shopping and entertainment area next to the harbor. There are lots of shops and restaurants; the Cape Wheel; the Marine Museum; the Aquarium; and the Water Shed where artisans and craftspeople produce and sell their creations. From here, ferries go to Robben Island where political prisoners like Nelson Mandela were once incarcerated. Nobel Square is located here and the statues of South Africa’s 4 Nobel Peace Prize recipients are on display. As a matter of fact, on our last day, Desmond Tutu and his wife came aboard for a ceremony honoring him with Holland America Line’s First Shared Humanity Award 2018.

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On the dock at Cape Town, South Africa. Three of the four mounts are visible in this photo: Table Mountain on the left, Lion’s Head in the center and Signal Hill on the right.
This view shows Table Mountain with Devil's Peak on the left.
This view shows Table Mountain with Devil’s Peak on the left.
The Cape Wheel at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.
The Cape Wheel at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.
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Noble Square to honor the four Nobel Peace Prize Laureates of South Africa: Alfred Luthuli, Desmond Tutu, FW De Klerk, and Nelson Mandela.
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Desmond Tutu (accompanied by Hal’s Gerald Bernhof) receiving the First Holland America LIne Shared Humanity Award 2018.
Desmond Tutu aboard the MS Amsterdam
Desmond Tutu aboard the MS Amsterdam

 

Table Mountain is an interesting visit. The cable car floor rotates 360 degrees as it swiftly makes its way to the top. Obviously, the views are breathtaking! Once atop the mountain, you can see the Cape of Good Hope, Robben Island, the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean all in one long visual swoop! There is an interesting phenomenon that occurs at Table Mountain: periodically, the clouds will drop down and appear to be a tablecloth draped over a table. If you happen to be on the mountain when this happens, you MUST stop moving; sit down; and wait for it to lift!!!!

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The Table Mountain Cable Car. The ascent only took a few minutes–less than 10!
Really nice views!  Even on a hazy day!
Really nice views! Even on a hazy day!
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For all our geocaching friends, this was the first cache we found in Cape Town. It’s a Travel Bug Hotel!
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The vistas are ever-changing. Every time you turn around, there is a wonderful view before you!
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At dinner one evening, we were delighted to see “The Tablecloth” through the Dining Room window!!!

On our last day in Cape Town, we toured the Stellenbosch wine region and visited some wineries to partake of their tastings! The Amsterdam had already introduced us to several wonderful South African wines. The cruise line had bought $27,000.00 worth of wines for us to sample! There were numerous on-board tastings and several sommelier dinners. I came to love Ernie Els, Big Easy Chenin Blanc! We both loved Doolhof Dark Lady of the Labyrinth Pinotage from Wellington, South Africa!

But most interesting was our visit to the de Waal Winery. That is where we learned about Pinotage. In 1925, Prof. Abraham Perold, viticulturist at the University of Stellenbosch, created a variety of grape he called Pinotage by crossing Pinot Noir with Hermitage. Sixteen years later there were enough vines to produce grapes for an experimental barrel of Pinotage wine. C.T. de Wall, a winemaker and wine taster of note at the Stellenbosch University, was Perold’s choice to create that barrel. Today, the de Waal Winery is home to the oldest Pinotage vineyard in the world. Decanter Magazine has rated de Wall’s “Top-of-the-Hill Pinotage” as one of the Top 10 South African wines! We sampled this wine. It is smooth with a medium body. It has plum and prune flavors with hints of dark chocolate and a touch of spice. A very elegant wine.

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Driving to Wine Country! We pass the colorful Portuguese-influenced cottages Cape Town is noted for.
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But we did see that the well-known slum area of The Flats is still there, also. Look at all the satellite dishes!
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For the most part, the street views of Cape Town were very similar to views in any cosmopolitan city!
Street view while driving through Cape Town.
Street view while driving through Cape Town.
The De Waal Winery
The De Waal Winery
the De Waal Winery
the De Waal Winery
de Waal's 2016 "Top of the Hill" Pinotage
de Waal’s 2016 “Top of the Hill” Pinotage
Looking back at Table Mountain as we sail away from Cape Town.
Looking back at Table Mountain as we sail away from Cape Town.

Next, we will visit Walvis Bay, Namibia. The African adventure continues.

The Safari Big 5 And Other Animals

 

2018 HAL World Cruise

Saturday, March 31 to Tuesday, April 3, 2018

 

In the days when going on safari meant hunting wild animals for trophies and bragging rights, the term “Big 5” was coined by tour operators to designate the most dangerous and difficult animals to hunt.  Today, safaris are performed with cameras, but the term remains in use.

Our Safari drives would begin around 5:00 every morning with coffee and fruit.  We would set out just before sunrise to searched for animals as they awoke and began their prowl.

The day begins with coffee and fruit at 5:00-5:30 am.
The day begins with coffee and fruit at 5:00-5:30 am.
A typical, beautiful sunrise as we set off for the days adventure!
A typical, beautiful sunrise as we set off for the days adventure!

I’m beginning this post with photos of the big 5:

African Elephant

(classified as vulnerable)

Coming across an elephant herd on the move.
Coming across an elephant herd on the move.
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Our Guide, Mark, set out a goPro in the middle of their path to record their movement.
Elephant meets go pro.
Elephant meets go pro.
He felt a need to check out the unususual gadget.
He felt a need to check out the unususual gadget.
Unimpressed with the high-tech toy, the elephants continue on their prowl.
Unimpressed with the high-tech toy, the elephants continue on their prowl.
Later, we came upon elephants bathing in the Sabie River.
Later, we came upon elephants bathing in the Sabie River.
Mama nursing her baby.
Mama nursing her baby.
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On the day we did a walk about, we returned to our cottage and discovered a few elephants outside our door!
They were not afraid of us.
They were not afraid of us.
But they knew we were there!
But they knew we were there!

Black Rhinoceros

(classified critically endangered)

(the white rhinoceros is classified as near threatened)

Coming upon a Black Rhino.
Coming upon a Black Rhino.
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The White Rhinos name is a corruption of “wide-mouth” which designates the difference between the two. I suppose if one is the Black Rhinoceros, it makes sense to call the other “White Rhinoceros.” Look how distinctive that wide mouth is!
Rhinos on the move.
Rhinos on the move.

 

 

 

 

Cape Buffalo

Cape Buffalo
Cape Buffalo
The Cape Buffalo looks like its hair has been styled into a center-part!
The Cape Buffalo looks like its hair has been styled into a center-part!
A Cape Buffalo seen in the Sabie River from the Lion Sands Narina Lodge!
A Cape Buffalo seen in the Sabie River from the Lion Sands Narina Lodge!

African Lion

(classified as vulnerable)

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Spotting some lions–this pride is composed of four males, 4 females and 11 cubs. The four males got along with each other because they were brothers and grew up in the same pride. We seldom saw all 19 together. The males were usually off hunting!
Male Lion on the prowl.
Male Lion on the prowl.
Stately female lioness.
Stately female lioness.
Now, how cute is that!  Mama and her cub.
Now, how cute is that! Mama and her cub.
Play time.
Play time.
Look, one of the older cubs has a stick!  Do animals play "keep away"?
Look, one of the older cubs has a stick! Do animals play “keep away”?
Ahh, making progress.
Ahh, making progress.
Group hug!  Doesn't this just make you smile!
Group hug! Doesn’t this just make you smile!

African Leopard

(classified as near threatened)

Leopard seen at night and photographed with the red spotlight.
Leopard seen at night and photographed with the red spotlight.
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Leopard seen at night. She may have eaten a heavy meal–we could smell the remains.
That red spotlight doesn't even wake her up!
That red spotlight doesn’t even wake her up!

 

Of course, there are many other wonderful and interesting animals living in the Savannah Woodlands of Kruger National Park.  Giraffes, zebras, Impalas, baboons and monkeys are just a few.  There are magnificent birds; useful or pesky insects; and assorted critters like mongoose, badgers, aardvarks, etc.  They, too, were fun to find, watch, and photograph.

Common Warthogs
Common Warthogs
This is a face only a mama warthog could love!
This is a face only a mama warthog could love!
Baboon
Baboon
Baboons in the trees.
Baboons in the trees.
By the time we realized what was going on, it was over!  Took about 2 seconds!
By the time we realized what was going on, it was over! Took about 2 seconds!
Zebras
Zebras
Zebras having a conversation????
Zebras having a conversation????
Zebras find us interesting to watch, also.
Zebras find us interesting to watch, also.
Spotted Hyenas just walking along the road.
Spotted Hyenas just walking along the road.
This does not taste good.
This does not taste good.
Doesn't smell good either.
Doesn’t smell good either.
Vervet Monkey
Vervet Monkey
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Baby Vervet Monkey playing with a laser dot operated by our Tracker, Chris. Doesn’t this just remind you of playing wth your cat!!!!
Vervet Monkey sitting on the railing outside our cottage!
Vervet Monkey sitting on the railing outside our cottage!
We spotted him as we were walking to #7.
We spotted him as we were walking to #7.
Cute little guy!
Cute little guy!
He seems to be shy.
He seems to be shy.

 

 

The safari was a magical experience.  We would do two safari drives a day, morning and evening for about 3-4 hours each.  Viewing these magnificent creatures in their own habitat was wonderful.  The memories are something we will always cherish!  On our last day, after the morning safari drive, we headed to the Skukuza Airport for our return flight to the ship (now docked in Cape Town.)

 

A South African sunset over the Savannah.
A South African sunset over the Savannah.
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On our final evening, after the final safari, we returned to the lodge for a South African “Boma BBQ.” This always occurs within a fenced enclosure with a firepit in the center.
The Boma BBQ
The Boma BBQ
Arriving at the Skukuza Airport for our flight to Cape Town.
Arriving at the Skukuza Airport for our flight to Cape Town.
Skukuza Airport departure lounge.
Skukuza Airport departure lounge.
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Enjoying our requisite local brew at the Skukuza Airport while awaiting the boarding call.
We flew an Embrear aircraft to Cape Town
We flew an Embrear aircraft to Cape Town
The MS Amsterdam docked in Cape Town and awaiting our return!
The MS Amsterdam docked in Cape Town and awaiting our return!
As always, it feels good to be home!
As always, it feels good to be home!

The next post will show you the sites of Cape Town, South Africa.