Monty's Year at Gobabeb Training and Research Centre, Namibia

South Africa: Kruger, World Cup Fervor, and Cape Town

July 16, 2010:  Written in a train somewhere in the Karoo, South Africa.

I’ve spent the last few weeks traveling through South Africa, absorbing some of the World Cup excitement, seeing old friends, and meeting new ones.  I’m writing this entry on a 27-hour train journey from Cape Town to Johannesburg where I will embark for Walvis Bay, Namibia (and onwards to Gobabeb!) with Nathan.

Returning to Kruger National Park was absolutely fantastic.  The southern milky way was just as bright as I remembered it, but this time around I was joined by great traveling companions in Nathan, Kaitlin (Grinnellian teaching in Lesotho for a year), as well as my Dad and two of his friends from work.  We all made way through the park from the south to the north over a week’s time.

KNP is situated in the lowveld of South Africa, bordering both Mozambique and Zimbabwe.  The vast wilderness area holds a prodigious diversity and abundance of life.  We enjoyed some very lucky sightings including close encounters with all of the “big 5” as well as some spectacular bird-life.

From the most northeastern point of South Africa at Crooks Corner in KNP we headed towards Cape Town in the extreme southeast via the Blyde River Canyon – by some accounts the third largest canyon in the world.

Our flight to Cape Town fell on the auspicious date of the World Cup Final in Soccer City, Soweto.  Upon arriving in Cape Town we rushed to the Fifa Fan Fest – a gathering of tens of thousands of enthusiastic soccer fans.  Four hours before the match the parade grounds had reached capacity, but the party was just beginning… live music, fireworks, and eventually the game displayed on a massive screens.  It was truly amazing to see the enthusiasm of the South African people and other international world cup fanatics!

During the World Cup Final

As the birthplace of European conquest and settlement of sub-saharan Africa, Cape Town is an endlessly fascinating with countless cultures represented within it’s steep streets.  Dominated by the massive Table Mountain, the city center is nestled between towering cliffs and great white shark frequented waters of the southern Atlantic.  This, however, doesn’t deter intrepid surfers from utilizing massive waves that crash upon pristine white beaches here!

For everyone’s sake I won’t even start talking about the inspiring people or incredible contrasts that anyone who visits South Africa experiences- this entry would never end.

Only 2 more days until our arrival in the Namib!

-Monty

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