Hot coffee and rusks being delivered at 5:30am again for our morning wake-up call before our final game drive of the trip.
A Vervet monkey in the tree's by our cottage as we walked over to the Land Rover, ready for some more game spotting.
An Impala amongst the very dry bush.
Pale chanting goshawk.
A lonely Blue wildebeest looking down at us.
A brilliant blue Cape Starling.
A Black-headed heron wading in the water.
We were driving along and spotted something large moving in the bush, after stopping a female white rhino came sprinting out of nowhere!
Closely behind was a black rhino bull romping after her!
Our guide, Bonghani, said that black and white rhino couldn't interbreed so we chased them to see what was up.
We eventually lost them as they dashed off into the bush again. Apart from seeing one from afar at Ngorongoro Crater four years ago in Tanzania, it was my first time seeing a black rhino so it was quite a thrill to see one running past at full speed.
And back at our cottage after the exciting end to the morning game drive, with a couple of warthog on the dry river bed from the view from our bathroom.
We then headed over to have some breakfast.
And the ladies toasting the bread on the camp fire.
We then packed up our bags, setlled our bill and bought a few souvenirs from the camp reception before Bonghani took us back to the BMW and escorted us back to the entrance of the park.
Rianda was keen to have a drive of the BMW so she took over driving duties this morning.
Stopping at a petrol station in Manzini to fill up and to check the tyres and reset the low pressure alarm.
And to buy some candy for the road trip ahead.
We then headed south-west for the border of South Africa. The roads were all in good condition and no complaints at all.
Rianda slowing down for a stray cow!
Arriving at the Swaziland side of the border. It was Sunday so alot of the locals were wearing traditional dress for church.
And over to the South African side.
Speeding across the drought-scarred landscape.
Listening to some tunes, an essiential part of any road trip.
Stopping at the town of Wakkerstroom where we stopped for a quick break and I took over the driving duties again.
In between the towns of Volksrust and Vrede where we hit a patch of gravel road.
The dry and dusty landscape was quite an experience to see and drive through though.
After stopping for snacks and to fill up in Bethlehem, we headed south to the border of Lesotho.
We arrived at the Caledonspoort border point just before 6pm with some of the picturesque Free State mountains just behind us.
The border post was pretty quiet and we were quickly stamped into my 26th and Rianda's 3rd country in Africa visited.
We then hit the road for the final 47 kilometres to the Maliba Lodge in Ts'ehlanyane National Park.
Darkness fell as we drove to the Park. The road was narrow but in good condition. Alot of the locals were often walking on the middle of the road in the pitch dark though so we had to be careful and slow down and avoid them.
We finally arrived at Ts'ehlanyane National Park just before 7pm, and after paying the 90 rand entrance fee, drove up the hill to the lodge.
The Lodge first opened in 2008 and was built by two Australians who wanted to build a luxury lodge in Lesotho.
After parking the car, we walked in to check in at the lodge. In July 2013, a fire had destroyed the original main lodge building. They had quickly rebuilt though and the new building was quite impressive.
We were quickly greeted and taken into the lounge to check in, along with a glass of sherry each. We had only eaten some snacks all day with the 622 kilometre, nine hour drive so the sherry went straight to our heads!
We were then asked if we wanted to have dinner or to go to our chalet. As we were both pretty hungry we opted to eat first. Our one night stay cost 3,440 rand or $250 and included both dinner and breakfast.
Having the ratouille for the starter.
While Rianda had the carrot and ginger soup.
For the main I had the delicious Norwegian salmon with couscous and vegetables (left) while Rianda had the spicy ox tale in red wine with basotho papa and vegetables.
And the very tasty cheesecake to finish. An excellent meal and all the more appreciated after skipping lunch and the very long day.
After dinner we headed up to our chalet. There are six mountain chalets, with five downhill of the main lodge building and quite close together and a single chalet just up the hill. Ours was the single chalet and having it located away from the rest of the chalets gave it extra privacy, a more secluded feel and a better view of the mountains and valley.
Our bedroom in the chalet. Maliba Lodge is the only 5-star lodge in Lesotho.
An alcove just to the side of the bedroom with a fire place and a place to sit.
The large bathroom with spa bath and walk-in shower just behind me.
And our deck looking out over the mountains. I was expecting something a little more average but we were really blown away by the place, both with our chalet and the delicious meal we had enjoyed for dinner.
After the long day we curled up in bed and had a very good sleep!
After sleeping in we got up to admire the early morning view again from the deck.
Such an amazing place to wake up to and I had to pinch myself a couple of times to make sure it was all real!
Due to time constraints we unfortunately had to leave the lodge this morning, so to make the most of our time we headed out for a bit of hike.
Walking down to the lower five mountain chalets.
There were quite a few different tracks you could walk on. I only wished we had more time though to further explore them.
Down by the river. Apparently when it gets a little warmer it is also a popular place to swim.
The sun cresting the hill as we walk back up to the lodge.
At about 8am we headed down to breakfast.
Out on the balcony and with the perfect view.
And a delicous cooked breakfast to fuel up for another road trip back to South Africa.
At about 9:30am we checked out and picked up our guide from the lodge for a community tour of the local village.
In a traditional house with no windows and a fire place in the centre.
Next door we then visited the local traditional healer.
On the ground there are various 'bones' or objects, that when scattered, supposedly help the healer to diagnose the patients problems, both physical and emotional. Our guide said that people generally do not use the healer any more for medical advice, and now stick to western medicine, but still see the healer for emotional and relationship issues etc.
Next stop on the tour was the local school.
The teacher introduced us and we got to briefly say hello to the kids. The kids then sang the national anthem for us. Lesotho invests ~12% of GDP on education.
At a 85% literacy rate, Lesotho holds one of the highest literacy rates in Africa. We unfortunately only had limited time in Lesotho so it was cool to see and meet some of the local kids and experience a bit of culture.
As we drove on, our guide pointed out that some of the newer small houses in the valley were built with money from illegal mining in South Africa. He said that unfortunately alot of the men are killed however, both from mining accidents and by murder from other miners while working illicitly underground in old and abandoned mines.
Next stop was the local Shebeen.
And out the back where the sorghum beer was brewing in big blue plastic barrels.
The sorghum that is grown locally. We asked our guide if other crops were grown, such as vegetables and fruit, but he said that it was pointless as they would just be stolen!
The beer constantly ferments and hence has no fixed alcohol percentage. This brew was pretty potent though so it must have been brewing for a while!
We then continued to drive to the South African border at Ficksburg after dropping our guide off at the turn-off to Butha-Buthe.
At Maputsoe before crossing over back into South Africa. It was our third time entering South Africa in four days and the immigration officer was quite amused!
At a service station in Ficksburg after crossing back into South Africa.
I got some Nik Naks corn snacks. Rianda said she grew up eating these as a kid, but unfortunately they cannot be imported into Dubai due to the food colouring.
Rianda took over driving duties again and we covered the 213 kilometres to the city of Bloemfontein in just under 2 hours.
We got to Bloemfontein at about 2:30pm. Our flight wasn't until 7pm so we went to the local Nando's and grabbed a chicken burger for a late lunch.
After our fleeting visit to Bloemfontein we drove out to Bram Fischer International Airport. Bram Fischer was an Afrikaner lawyer and anti-apartheid activist who had defended several people including Nelson Mandela before he was imprisoned on Robben Island. Fischer was later imprisoned himself and served 11 years before dying of cancer.
After checking in for our South African Express flight to Cape Town, we headed to one of the cafes for a drink. Rianda had the latte while I had the matcha green tea ice float.
Outside the terminal while walking to board our flight.
The short ~1 hour flight was on a Bombardier CRJ.
Snacks and OJ served soon after take-off.
And disembarking at Cape Town International Airport.
Our baggage took only a few minutes to arrive and we then met up with our driver Rianda had organised.
And after a 30 minute ride we were at Rianda's Mum's (Tannie Tilla) place in Kuils River, our home for the next five nights in Cape Town.
After a good sleep in I went for a run around Kuils River. Like most homes in South Africa, Rianda's Mum's place was second only to Fort Knox in terms of security, but after a bit of help from Rianda I managed to get through the multiple locks and bars and get back into the house for a shower and some breakfast.
We then headed into the city to see some of Cape Town.
After parking the car, we went for a walk along the very beautiful marina waterfront with the iconic Table Mountain looming in the background.
We then walked through the city to Greenmarket Square and grabbed a cup of coffee.
We then met up with our guide for the 'free' city tour of the nearby District Six.
District Six was a warren of clogged streets filled with bakeries, butcher shops, churches and mosques, old Victorian houses, bars and clothing retailers. By the beginning of the 20th century it was a lively community made up of former slaves, artisans, merchants and other immigrants, as well as many Malay people.
It was also home to a large Jewish population as well as Muslims, Christians, blacks, and whites that all lived together in relative harmony. Because of its proximity to Cape Town's port, the area was also a frequent stop for the American, British, and Italian sailors whose ships made frequent ports of call there. Hence District Six was quite a cosmopolitan area.
Our first stop of the tour was the District 6 Cafe.
In 1966, South Africa's apartheid regime declared District Six a "whites only" area. The reasons given were that in line with apartheid guiding principles, mixing of the races bred conflict, and that District Six was a slum, fit only for clearance and destruction.
The Cafe was a popular place for Jazz music.
Nearly 70,000 people were summarily evicted from their homes and 1,800 houses were torn apart. The former residents were then relocated 25 kilometres away to the sandy, bleak Cape Flats township. The family of our guide, Ricardo, was originally from District 6 and he himself had been brought up in the notorious Cape Flats.
A mural on a wall showing the four different decades of struggle against apartheid.
Another mural in District 6 of a mother protesting.
Ricardo showing a memorial plaque on the side of a church. Only religious buildings in District 6 were spared destruction by the apartheid government.
The campus of Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Our guide, Ricardo, said he had applied to study at the campus many years ago but was refused as he was not deemed white enough. It was also Rianda's former school, although she had attended in the post-apartheid years.
At the District 6 museum where we ended our tour, thanked Ricardo and gave him 200 rand.
After the tour we headed back into District 6 to Charly's bakery.
The bakery was apparently quite famous, and even once had its own TV show!
We had another walking tour at 1:30pm, so we grabbed lunch at the bakery with some quiche, a sausage roll and some chocolate cake to share.
A mural of Nelson Mandela in District 6.
We then walked back into the city to Greenmarket Square to meet up for the next walking tour.
We met up with Ricardo again for our tour of the Bo-Kaap area of Cape Town.
At the Nurul Islam Mosque, our first stop in Bo-Kaap. Bo-Kaap was formerly known as the Malay Quarter, and the Cape Malays were the first people to bring Islam to South Africa.
Looking at some of the colourful houses in the area. There are various tales about the reason for the beautiful coloured houses. Ricardo, our guide, said that one of them was that a doctor had painted his house to make it more easier to find, but that the beautiful colours quickly caught on with the rest of the neighbourhood.
Many of the streets in Bo-Kaap had cobble-stoned streets made from the stone ballast brought in on old sailing ships from Cape Town port many years ago.
A Mark II Ford Cortina in mint condition which blended in well with the colourful painted buildings.
Looking across at Table Mountain.
At a local shop that served Malay snacks and where we got to try for a few rand.
Another colourful street in Bo-Kaap.
Zig and zag.
At the end of the tour we thanked Ricardo again for another great tour and then headed off for a walk back into the city.
A statue of Cecil John Rhodes in Company's Garden in central Cape Town. Mr Rhodes was a British businessman, mining magnate, and politician in South Africa. A strong believer in colonialism, he was the founder of Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), which was named after him in 1895.
Another view of Table Mountain from Company's Garden.
The Houses of Parliament, built in 1875.
We then started to head back towards the waterfront. In 1998 Cape Town held a public sculpture competition. The winner was Brett Murray, a well-known Cape Town artist. His three meter tall sculpture, titled Africa, unsurprisingly was quite controversial, with a traditional Africa figure covered in Bart Simpson heads!
Rianda posing down at the waterfront in the late afternoon.
We then stopped to recaffeinate after all the walking around central Cape Town.
Looking over at the Cape Grace Hotel with Table Mountain in the background.
Looking north over the water to Robben Island on the horizon.
We then headed to Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Mall to look for a place for dinner. The V&A Mall is Africa's most popular tourist destination (with Table Mountain second and the Giza Pyramids third).
We finally settled on dinner at Ocean Basket for a super-sized dose of fish and chips at the end of a very cool first day in Cape Town!