South Africa is…

Love YOUR South Africa♥.

All photos taken by yours truly.

When people hear we went to South Africa they ask

  • What it’s really really really like in South Africa?
  • What was the best part of the holiday?”
  • “On a scale of 1-10, how was your holiday?”

So much has been written about South Africa by great writers like Nadine Gordimer, J.M Coetzee, and Alan Paton, whose book “Cry the Beloved Country” written in 1950 begins,

“There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it. The road climbs seven miles into them, to Carisbrooke; and from there, if there is no mist you look down on one of the fairest valleys of Africa….”

Don’t worry,  I know this is the internet, the place for quick reads, I haven’t written a novel, just a little  travelogue – with many photos which you can speed through.

South Africa is a beautiful country, but no one day or one thing stands out as the best, each day of our three-week vacation was an adventure of vibrant colors, smells, sounds and  magnificent scenery.

Informal settlement outside Cape Town. 

The ANC government is as plagued with scandals as many other African countries.

Front page of the Johannesburg Star

Most people in the country are poor.

As this photo of an informal settlement outside Cape Town was taken from a moving vehicle, it’s not the best quality, but I hope you can see the houses built right next to each other.

Some highlights, in no particular order:

The early wake up call from the hadeda’s meant that every morning around 6:30 a.m I’d be sitting outside on the veranda with my coffee and a rusk listening to the birds in the garden – the turtle doves, weavers, mynahs, grey mouse birds –  singing their welcome to another African morning. A lovely way to start the day.

I don’t think one can say whether this view of False Bay (about two hours from Cape Town) is better

False Bay

than this one of a creek,  in the mountains near the trout fishing area of Dullstroom, several hours north-east of Johannesburg,?

Forest Creek

They’re different…

Can you say which mountain is better?  This one

Near Cape Town

or this one?

Steenkampsberg about 3 hours north-east from Johannesburg

Neither can I, and we don’t need to. We can agree that it’s a beautiful country.


When I walked into the self-catering apartment at Sea Forever in Simons Town, about an hour south of Cape Town, to find myself in a house on a hill overlooking the ocean with magnificent 180 degree views of False Bay, and the Swartberg Mountains directly behind the house, was like a dream come true.

View from living room

Even though I had a great book to read (more on that later) I didn’t want to waste a minute of our short visit with my head in a book, and spent all the time we were at “home” soaking up the view: you can see both sunrise and sunset, as well as the most unbelievable night sky, and if you’re fortunate to be there during whale migration season,  the whales swim right past the house. We hope to see them next time.

View from veranda at Sea Forever

Mr F and I agreed that Cape Sea Forever was without a doubt the *best* place we’ve ever stayed at, and on the scale of 1-10 we give it a 10 plus: in addition to the priceless view, and wonderful location near the beach and Cape Point (more on that later), the apartment was spotless, the kitchen had everything one would need,  the owners Diane and Peter, who live downstairs, were friendly and helpful, and then there’s the huge, really comfy bed…


 Reception building at Forest Creek Lodge

Rustic cabin near the creek

We spent three days at Forest Creek Lodge, about three hours north-east of Johannesburg which is in an area famous for it’s trout fishing (yes Mr F is a fly fisherman).

We stayed in the self-catering cottage which came with a well equipped kitchen, and lovely bath tub. It’s situated in an incredibly beautiful valley surrounded by mountains along a creek.

We were fascinated by the wealth of birdlife, and Mr F was thrilled to see a troop of baboons early one morning.

One note of caution: to get to the Lodge we had to drive 4.5 km along one of the worst roads we’ve ever been on. It was more like a donkey track and we should have been in a 4-wheel drive vehicle.  Mr F kept the car in first gear the whole way and couldn’t admire the view, because he didn’t dare take his eyes off the road for one second. But it was worth it, and thank goodness it didn’t rain while we were there.

Sibongile gave me a manicure

When Mr F went fishing for the day, guess what I did? At the end of the worst road we’ve ever driven down, in the middle of *nowhere*, I sat in this room with an endless view of the lush valley below, and had a manicure.


 Bath at Forest Creek Lodge

On the path at Kirstenbosch Gardens in Cape Town

Even though it was summer I took the same walking shoes I wore in Italy in October, and was glad to have them, because besides walking every day we also went on some marvelous, though challenging hikes.

Moth on hiking sign

On one particularly lovely hike near the town of Betty’s Bay,  a couple of hours from Cape Town, the six of us climbed past notices like this

Waterfall Risk area!

faced about a dozen ladders like this

Would you climb this? 

to reach this waterfall

Waterfall near Cape Town

The water was so cold I could barely put my toes in.

On another hike near Forest Creek Lodge, the creek was higher than usual and flowing very swiftly, due to heavy summer rains, which meant the stepping stones were all underwater. The path went back and forth across the water, we couldn’t avoid the crossings.   We took off our shoes and socks for most of them.

 Forest Creek

We could hear the rushing water as we walked along the trail

We visited several Museums, and of course a visit to any museum in South Africa includes the history of apartheid. It’s shocking to see a sign like this

Whites only sign at the District Six Museum

We took the boat tour to Robben Island. The island, which is a hot barren windswept place with no trees or natural vegetation eight miles from Cape Town, has been a leper colony, a jail for black male prisoners – both political and hardened criminals – and is now a Museum.

Table Mountain in the mist (taken from Robben Island)

In 1960 Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, a university lecturer, was the first black political prisoner to be sent to Robben Island. His original sentence of three years solitary confinement was extended to eight years. His lonely house still stands, surrounded by a high barbed-wire fence in the middle of nowhere.


Nelson Mandela’s cell


Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island for 18 years, from 1964 – 1982.

During all those years he was allowed to receive two letters a year, and slept on the floor in this cell.

Jail diet at Robbin Island

I was surprised to learn that Black prisoners weren’t given bread or jam. The tour guides of the jail are all former prisoners, and our guide told us how they longed for a piece of bread.

Food for Black prisoners

If you’d like to know more about Robben Island, and a bit of the political background around Nelson Mandela‘s arrest, watch this YouTube link:

(Unfortunately  there’s a block forbidding me from embedding it in my blog. You’ll have to copy the link and go to the site to watch it.)

The Fort, Johannesburg’s old jail, an infamous place where black and white, male and female regular criminals as well as political prisoners were all imprisoned, is also a Museum.

Main gate of the Fort

Esther Barsel, a white political prisoner, stayed in this cell when she was held in The Fort. She was arrested in 1964 along with 16 other people under the 90-day law which allowed the police to hold detainees in solitary confinement for one or more 90-day periods. Her charge? Belonging to the S.African Communist Party.

Esther Barsel’s cell has been turned into an educational exhibit

The 76 boxes in the cell represent the evidence and notes from the trial – November 1964 to April 1965 – the longest trial heard in the Johannesburg Regional Court.

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I’ve barely started, haven’t mentioned the food, animals, places like Cape Point, or the Sterkfontein caves, or the friendly people, but this post is long enough.   I’ll need more than one post to tell you about South Africa, stay tuned. And thanks for your interest.

About dearrosie

We think we need so much, when all we really need is time to breathe. Come walk with me, put one foot in front of the other, and get to know yourself. Please click the link to my blog - below - and leave me a comment. I love visitors.
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28 Responses to South Africa is…

  1. Corilee says:

    Wow, what great information and beautiful pictures. I want to go!

  2. Priya says:

    Thank you for taking us on this virtual trip, Rosie. The place is beautiful, beyond a doubt. And the fact that you’ve mentioned that one beauty cannot be better than the other has swept me off my feet. 🙂

    • dearrosie says:

      Thank you for letting me know that you enjoyed the trip Priya. I’m so happy that you could appreciate some of the amazing natural beauty through my photos.

  3. Mahalia says:

    thanks for sharing all that! i was longing for simonstown views, cape town hikes, mountains, birds, and then my heart was hurting reading about prison diets on robben island, and the fort. looking forward to the next installment 🙂

    • dearrosie says:

      People are so busy and there’s so much to read on the internet that I thought I was sharing too much, and this was way too long. I’m glad to know that at the least I’ve reached a few readers who not only enjoyed it all, but as you kindly mentioned, are looking forward to the next installment! Thanks Mahalia.

      People give their pets a better diet than those black prisoners! Thank goodness that’s all past tense!

  4. Dear Rosanne, Your choice of images and narratives, in such stark contrast to one another, gives us a view of the country that nothing else could. Thank you so much! South Africa is high on my wish list. Dinah

  5. carol says:

    Rosie (missies)! Love the stories, love the pics!! Can’t wait to hear more!

  6. bronxboy55 says:

    Rosie, you’ve done a wonderful job of portraying the natural beauty of South Africa, along with the kindness of the people and some of the ugliness of their history. I’m sure it would be easy to visit the country and stick to the luxurious comforts of a resort, but you didn’t do that. As a result, your readers come away with an accurate glimpse into the real South Africa. Thank you.

    By the way, is that hiking sign really small, or is the moth really big?

    • dearrosie says:

      Bronx Boy, that’s exactly what I was trying to convey about South Africa. I really appreciate your thoughtful comment.
      Of course one has a marvelous holiday at a luxurious resort, but it’s not the kind of holiday Mr F and I like to take. Those resorts are all the same, I’m sure they even smell the same, so sometimes the tourists can’t remember whether they’re in Jamaica or Thailand, Venezuela or Southern Africa, but perhaps that’s not important to certain people.

      You noticed the moth! I wondered why no one commented on it. It was HUGE – about 4 inches I think. I’vc got a photo – from the same hike – of a huge spider web. Stay tuned…

  7. denzil says:

    loved it. well done and Les and I will be heading for the simonstown plek when we are in the Cape next. sounds like you and mnr F had a fantastic trip. well done.. where next?

    • dearrosie says:

      Thanks for writing to tell me you liked it Denzil. It really was a holiday of a lifetime (sorry I have to use a cliche to describe it)

      Where next? Dunno, nothing’s planned. We’d LOVE to go back to “Sea Forever” in Simonstown for a longer visit. The owner Diane, told us she recently had a visitor who stayed for three months so he could write a book. Lucky man!

  8. Janine says:

    I love my South Africa! As a proud citizen I enjoyed your account of your trip to our wonderful country, Rosie, and I’m really glad that you went away with good memories.

  9. shoreacres says:

    One of the great griefs for me about my years in West Africa is that so few photographs survive. It was before digital photography, for one thing, and though I could store film properly, there was no way no guarantee others had done so, or to ensure good processing. Most images have simply faded away.

    Yours are beautiful, and a wonderful mix that helps to convey the complexity of the country and its societies.

    I especially appreciated the Paton mention. I’ve worn out a couple of copies of Cry, the Beloved Country, and it remains for me one of my touchstones for African memories and truth.

    As for this – I know this is the internet, the place for quick reads, I haven’t written a novel, just a little travelogue – with many photos which you can speed through – don’t ever allow someone else to define for you what your blog “should be”. When I began blogging, I was told the only way to success was daily posting, short reads between 300-500 words, lots of quizzes and memes and so on. I choose to bet on the possibility that I could use a blogging platform for writing. Shall we discuss the issue further over a glass of dandelion wine? 😉

    • dearrosie says:

      Dear Shoreacres,
      I’m so happy to know that you love “Cry the Beloved Country” as much as I do.

      I’ve eaten dandelion greens, and drank dandelion coffee many times, but have never tasted dandelion wine. What a great idea to carry on the discussion of our love of Africa, Alan Paton’s book, how to preserve our photos (even digital one’s fade) and the issue of daily vs weekly, long vs short posts, over a glass of dandelion wine 🙂

  10. souldipper says:

    Your fabulous travelogue brings back many feelings for me. After a Soul Safari in 2009, the effect was simply life changing. I had been warned that one can never be the same after touching sole to the red soil, smelling a lion walking by close enough to touch him and hearing the sounds heralding the rising or sinking sun. It proved true for me.

    • dearrosie says:

      What a pleasure to welcome you here souldipper. I love the sound of your Soul Safari! The red red soil…

      We have been seen the “Big Five” at game parks in Southern Africa many years ago.
      Although we had reservations to stay at the Kruger National Park, after my cousin came back from her trip with “tick-bite fever”, and I heard about the nasty side effects one could get from taking the malaria medications (you could get cerebral malaria if you don’t take anything!), I decided, with the advice of my doctor, that I have enough health problems, and chose not to go.

      Poor Mr F.

  11. Susan says:

    Rosanne, amazing photos and so well written! Thank you for taking us there, what an extraordinary experience!

    • dearrosie says:

      Gosh Susan, I am humbled to get a complement about my photos from a professional photographer such as yourself, but it’s not me, or my wonderful little Nikon camera, it’s the country which is so beautiful.

  12. theonlycin says:

    Simonstown is my home town, although we currently live in Johannesburg. We spent a few days in the Drakensberg last week 🙂

  13. Reggie says:

    This is such a marvelous post, thanks for sharing your experiences of our beautiful country, Rosie!

    • dearrosie says:

      It’s a great honor when a South Africa writes to say she’s enjoyed my experiences of her country. Thank you Reggie. You do live in a beautiful country.

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