Safari, Amazing Landscapes and Desert Adventures

April 20, 2010 - Walvis Bay, Namibia

South Africa was amazing. I really didn't know what to expect the entire time and kept getting blown away by everything. I definitely want to go back and spend more time there eventually, it's such a unique place.

-Richard's Bay-
Our first stop was Richard's Bay. The actual port area and everything didn't have much, but we had signed up for the crew Safari trip. After our crew drill, we got all ready and hopped in the bus to get to the Hluhluwe (H's are pronounced as S's so it's a crazy sounding name). The drive to the reserve was an hour and a half and really interesting. We passed by many houses of the Zulu people who inhabit the area. The government has built up some areas for the people so that they don't have to live in shacks and instead live in small houses with water and electricity. The older homes are generally round because the Zulu's believe that spirits live in corners.
When we got to the park, the whole cast (all 10 of us) got in our own vehicle. Our tour guide kept making jokes about Americans that after a while got very annoying. We started driving and stopped at a mother Warthog and her baby. They were right beside the road and so cute and funny looking. After the warthog we saw a big group of rhinos just walking around grazing for food. We also saw an older male Buffalo. The herd usually shuns the older Buffalos because they don't want predators going after a stud male or a younger female. They want the herd to be active enough to fight off predators. The poor old Buffalo was just hanging out by himself and then just walked in front of our jeep and kept on grazing. Can't help but feel bad for the old guy but everyone says, "it's just the circle of life". I don't like that excuse really.
The next thing we saw were some giraffes munching on leaves behind some trees, they were difficult to see, but still cool. Nearby to the Giraffes we saw a bunch of Zebras, which I loved. They really are like intensely striped donkeys, with a black mohawk. They aren't as lean and graceful looking as a horse, so that's why I said donkey... The best part of the trip was when we saw the elephants. Our driver got a call over the radio and so he sped off to this picnic area that had a little stream and muddy lake. There were tons of elephants. Adults, little babies, every age, every size, it was incredible! They were all walking around eating plants and rolling around in the muddy water. I saw two lock their trunks together and play fight. We also heard them roar, which echoed through the whole valley area- so cool! We were told to stay fairly quiet and not to get to close because it would agitate them. I sort of wanted to see them charge at us though... would've been exciting! Apparently this whole event wasn't normal because the elephants usually just come out of the forest for food and water and then go back into the forest so they aren't exposed to predators for too long.
After the elephants we had to speed back, but while we were speeding away we saw a group of Zebras in the road. One of which, was a young Zebra that had some sort of disease that made it limp, it was sad to see that. Our driver took us on a crazy ride after that, speeding around corners and throwing us around, it was so fun. The last animal we saw was a hyena. It was just sitting in the grass looking at us with it's red eyes. It was pretty intense. Unfortunately we didn't see any cats, but after talking to the passengers who went on 3-7 day safari's I've decided I want to do that for my honeymoon.

The next day after the Safari, I got on an excursion in Durban. This was a far more bustling city than Richard's Bay, because Richard's Bay was pretty much just an industrial port. I got on the 'Durban City Tour' which made it's first stop at the Victoria Market, or the Indian Market. It was an indoor shopping area with gifts and unique items from Africa. It was in the area of town where the people were of Indian descent. A really cool part of the market were the spice shops. In the shops were bowls that had different spices in them with very distinct smells and colors. It was very cool to see. On the way to the market I had seen stands along the roads with different bones and herbal remedies for illnesses and things. It was very strange to see that between other bodega's that were selling souvenirs and fruits.
After the market we drove to see the World Cup Stadium. There are a bunch all over South Africa since they are hosting it, but I liked the Durban one the best out of the 2 I saw. It is huge and white shaped in an oval with an elevator that goes along the curves to the top and on one of the platforms you can bungee jump. It was crazy- I wanted to do it but we were only there for a photo stop... The World Cup starts on June 11th, and South Africa is doing it's last minute preparations, should be exciting!
The next part of the tour was the prettiest. We went to the Durban Botanic Gardens. It was a nice sized Garden (not as big as the Bronx Botanical Gardens) and it was a gorgeous day. Prefect temperature and the sun was out. We walked around and listened to the tour guide, I hung towards the back since we usually have some slow walkers on the tours. While we were walking I heard rustling in the bushes and looked in and saw a mother and baby monkey jumping around from branch to branch. So cute! Only a couple of passengers that were around me saw them and we all were taking pictures. Once we caught up with the group, we kept walking around the whole place, seeing the orchid house and whatnot. Our tour guide mentioned that at the Tea Garden you could get the best scones in the city. Well, I couldn't turn that down so I slipped off out of the group on their way to the souvenir shop and got a souvenir of my own. I saw 2 passengers who recommended the ice cream, so for 7 Rand ($1 US) I got a warm buttered scone and a soft serve cone. Delicious! Best scone I've ever had I think. After I treated myself I had to jog back to the bus to make sure I wasn't late. Of course, I got there in plenty of time and got to finish my scone.
The rest of the tour was just driving around the city with another photo stop. We saw the Zulu people walking around and praying in abandoned lots and parks. Apparently, there has been a lot of crime since they stopped hanging people for crimes 16 years ago. A woman at the terminal told me the crime has risen a lot and she doesn't ever go out at night. Her husband was held at gun point, so she's wary to go out in the evenings. Everyone says how dangerous NYC is, well in comparison it's an incredibly safe city.
When we got back I had a nap, socialized and then had rehearsal for Champagne and then the show. The ship was rocking a lot and about, oh I don't know 20 people showed up to the show. During the show we had 3 interruptions, a medical emergency, stretcher party and Chief purser. All of these announcements cut off the music PA system, so when the singers were singing, you didn't hear anything and they had to just keep singing. After a while we all just had to have a good time and not worry about anything because clearly anything could happen. In the middle of the show we realized that we were turning around (because we were practically falling over backstage) and we had to bring a passenger back to the port. It was an interesting evening and probably our worst show ever, since we had some unfortunate interferences.

-Cape Town-
Cape Town was outstanding. The first day we got in around 5pm and I got on an evening tour to Signal Hill. We drove about 30 minutes to the viewpoint and there were little things to eat and some sparkling wine from a local winery. The sunset was a little cloudy but still beautiful. The landscape in Cape Town is so cool because it's a city with mountains right there. You can hike up mountains in the middle of the city. The view was really great, we saw Table Mountain which is a popular place to see. The drive back we drove through the expensive area of Cliffton and also, Camps Bay. Even at night the houses and condos were amazing. It seems that Cape Town keeps growing and building because most of the structures are new. The coolest part is that they are built on the mountainsides overlooking the beach.
Our port was the V&A Waterfront, so there was shopping right there for us. We needed some toiletries, so we did that and then went to have dinner. We ate at a place called City Grill that overlooked the port area. There was a huge yacht parked next to our ship and our waiter told us it was one of Bill Gates' Accountants that was working for the World Cup. Who knows if that's true but it was a really REALLY nice yacht! After our yummy meal we went back to the ship (it started getting chilly) and we relaxed and went to sleep.
DAY 2- The second day, I didn't have to work embarkation because I did it in Hong Kong so those of us who didn't got up to go to Table Mountain. We discovered quickly that because of the clouds covering the mountain, it was closed. So, we walked around the shopping area again. On the way back to the ship there were seals on the small boat dock. They just laid there happily in the sun, but some had fishing wires around their necks, it was sad. We got back on the ship and me, Beckie, Vanessa and Soren got to go on the World Cruise function which was at a winery. We got there on buses and there were tons of vintage cars in the parking lot. Some of the passengers didn't know the surprise that we would be driving back in the cars. We went inside and got champagne and then got to try all the different wines, while an 4 piece orchestra played. It was really really nice and the scenery, as usual for South Africa, was crazy pretty.
When we got back, me, Beckie, Erin, Soren and Vanessa went to get some other things in the mall and then went to dinner at an Italian restaurant. We were pretty cold again, we walked around for a little bit afterwards but headed back to the ship. It was a nice time.
DAY 3- Our third day was such an amazing day. In the morning I met our family friend Hazel's sister Marcelle. I gave her a tour of the ship and then we met Beckie and Erin to have a day tour. Marcelle drove us all over the coast, Camps Bay, Cliffton, it was so nice. It was great having a local give us a tour because it's so much more personal. She took us to a few picture spots and then to a little fishing town for lunch at 'Fish on the Rocks' where we had fresh fish and chips. It was sooooo good! 4 cats came up around us and we fed them, we always seem to find pets around the world and Beckie always wants to take them home. After lunch, we went to a little market area by the fishing boats with African gifts. Then, we hopped back in the car and went to 'World of Birds'!
At World of Birds we saw a big parrot, who liked talking to Beckie and then a lot of cute little Marmosets and Tamarins with their teeny tiny little babies. We saw one monkey that wasn't too happy about the noise Beckie made and bared it's teeth and jumped at the gate. So, we moved on and saw a bunch of big scary birds and Meerkats. Then we went into the monkey jungle and the little monkeys jumped all over us and were flying everywhere. The woman who worked there had about 7 little monkeys all over her, going through her pockets looking for food and whatnot. It was pretty funny and a good time. We spent a while in there and then it was pretty much time to leave since we had driven quite a while to where we were. Marcelle was a great tour guide and it was so nice to feel like a normal person with no ship duties and everything. It was really refreshing. We said our goodbyes, and Marcelle gave me a yummy Cadbury Top Deck candy bar that went very quickly that evening. Beckie, Erin and I walked around the mall area and watched the seals for a little longer and then had to head back to the ship for a Passenger Boat Drill. We had a sail-away party up on deck 12 and it was so pretty and sad to leave one of new favorite cities. I loved South Africa!!!

-Walvis Bay, Namibia-
We had 2 days in Walvis Bay after a day at sea from Cape Town. The first day we got in around noon and went out to catch a shuttle, but they only had smaller vans and we have to let passengers go first, so we didn't get in to town. However, I really needed to do some laundry, so it was still productive. Many of the passengers left to go to this ship wide function- dinner under the stars in the desert. So, the ship was very quiet. We went and had some drinks in one of the empty lounges and then had dinner in the Officer's Mess. We all had to be outside at 9:30pm in the cold to welcome back the passengers that had been gone for the 3 hours of the event. The band played on the outside of deck 5 and we all had to cheer and clap and welcome back the guests. They all seemed to love it, and it wasn't too bad. They gave us some extremely delicious hot chocolate!
The next day in Walvis Bay was probably one of my absolute favorite days ever. Our cruise director suggested us go to this place to rent fourwheelers and go through the sand dunes of the desert. He set it all up and then told us he was coming with us to tape a Jamie's Journeys, which is the show he puts on the tv to show what to do in different ports. The whole cast, all 10 of us, are the first cast to ever do a Jamie's Journey, so we were really excited. The guy that led us, Fawne (not sure how to spell it) gave us a whole explanation of the desert there and how it was formed and how it was the oldest desert in the world. We signed our lives away, got some goggles and hopped on the bikes. I was nervous because I've never driven one before and I get anxiety when I think things can go wrong- but I kept telling myself it was fine and our cruise director was very helpful.
We started off driving, I was towards the end of the line for the whole day, but I was ok with it. We got to a place with sand dune hills and we had to learn how to go down them. We started off small and then went to much bigger hills, which at first was pretty scary because there is no traction and you feel like you are going straight down a hill. We drove all through the desert, and stopped every now and then to look at remnants from years and years ago. He had found skulls and bones from about 10,000 years ago, it was crazy! At one point he showed us a whole collection of things that the people back then used, shells to drink out of, knives made out of bone, glass beads they made for trading, and even an iron St. Christopher. What else was interesting was he found a spot where he could dig down and get to water, just about an arms length hole. We all tried the water and it was nice and cool and not too bad tasting. It was really amazing to have the excitement of the four wheeling and learning about the place we were doing it all in one adventure.
It got pretty exciting while we were driving around. I couldn't hear the guide when he told us about one of the hills, so I just flew over it and screamed. Apparently he told everyone to give it gas so you could fly, so I didn't do anything wrong I just had no idea what was coming and I sort of freaked out, it was really fun though! He would stop to let everyone catch up and then keep going. For one of the shots of the video, all 10 of us with Jamie lined up on this huge, steep hill and they shot us all coming down the giant sand dune together and zooming off. It was so cool. I can't wait to see the footage, because it was just unreal. The desert was so huge and beautiful. We even saw a Gazelle in the distance at one point!
It was an amazing day, we were all exhausted afterwards, but still had to socialize, have rehearsal and do Ballroom Bravo. It was hard, but we pulled it together and had a pretty good show and then we all went to sleep pretty early. I am sore today from being on the quad bike for 3.5 hours yesterday and the show, but it was all worth it. My life is amazing.


Temple in Kuala Lumpur
Pewter Factory
Pewter designs


April 20, 2010
Yes your life is amazing!! Your also giving many people who are bored something to look forward to just by reading about your adventures. I also think it's wonderful that you're writing this journal so that you can remember all of this later.
Love you, see you soon!
April 20, 2010
AHHHH! your life is amazing. I agree with your mom. I love reading your journal. WIsh i was in l'afrique right now as well!
April 20, 2010
South Africa seems amazing. It has just moved up on my places I must see. Thanks for the updates kelso!
Nancy (Auntie):
April 22, 2010
Kelsey, what wonderful experiences you are having. I think that you are seeing more on your stops than I did. I didn't do much sightseeing as I was always performing. I did get to table top mountain in Cape Town. Actually I was flown over it in a small plane by a pilot I met there. That was incredible! Thanks for bringing back so many memories for me! love you
April 28, 2010
Great post and it's so great. I wish i could add your posts in my RRS, however i can't get rrs address. Would you please help me? Thanks!
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