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A Month in South Africa (with lots of photos)

Once again thank you to Transitions Abroad for publishing my article Five Unforgettable Adventures in South Africa.

Sure, this blog is mostly about Mexico. I live here and travel around the country often. But that’s not the only traveling I do—what fun would that be?

Last summer my wife and I spent a month in South Africa. She originally wanted to go for our honeymoon two years ago, but we could only travel for a week and a half—not nearly enough time to do a safari and also see more of the country.

After such a long flight, it would have meant only about a week on the ground. So we decided to wait until we could travel long enough to do more than the obligatory safari, and not only in world-class Cape Town but also everyday Johannesburg. (We ended up honeymooning in Moscow and St. Petersburg, about five days in each and also a long layover in Amsterdam, the perfect quick vacation.)

The article describes how we ultimately spent our trip in South Africa, staying in and around only three places: Johannesburg, Kruger National Park, and Cape Town. Johannesburg was more fun than we though it would be, with top-notch restaurants, friendly people, and neighborhoods rich and poor and everything in between. We took a walking safari in Kruger National Park, easily the highlight of the trip (read about it in the article). And although two weeks was plenty of time to see the city of Cape Town and some surrounding areas, there was so much more on the Cape Peninsula: more vineyards, more beaches, more hiking. Cape Town is a place where you could spend an entire month, six months, a lifetime…

Below are some pictures that didn’t make it in the article (yes I have hundreds, and of every wild animal except the cheetah.)

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Johannesburg. This mural of Nelson Mandela was painted by Shepard Fairey (famous for Obama “Hope,” Andre the Giant “Obey”). I took the photo from the Neighborgoods market that goes on every Saturday in Braamfontein, the hip part of downtown, with spicy steaming food, craft beer, and a mellow jazz/hip-hop band.

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Great band.

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Downtown Johannesburg.

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Alexandra township, where we took a fascinating bike tour. I wrote about it in the article.

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An informal settlement in Soweto township, Johannesburg.

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Elephant in Kruger National Park.

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African Wild Dogs in Kruger National Park.

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Lion at night. He had two friends in the bush.

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Sunset in Kruger National Park.

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Downtown Cape Town. We spent five days downtown and then rented a car and moved to a hotel two blocks from the beach in Camps Bay, the fancy neighborhood on the other side of Table Mountain.

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Table Mountain, seen from the Lion’s Head (hike described in the article).

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Hiking on Table Mountain. We started this hike from the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden.

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African Penguins near Boulders Beach, Cape Peninsula. A large colony lives there, with thousands of penguins swimming, walking, and hanging out.

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Our last sunset, from the balcony of our hotel in Camps Bay.

Please check out my article Five Unforgettable Adventures in South Africa.

Want to Travel Independently in Mexico? I Promise to Write All About It.

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Hello friends. I’ve written this blog for a few years now, and it’s a real pleasure to see all the visitors I’ve had: where they’re from, what they click on, and what they searched for that brought them to this blog.

My life can be chaotic. I go through periods of lots of work, mostly teaching and translating, often 12+ hours a day, riding all over town on my bike to schools and private lessons and then coming home to big surprise late-night translations.

So it can be hard to find time to write, and I’m not just talking about this blog, but all the travel and living abroad websites and magazines I submit stories to.

Writing the story is the easy part. Then you have to research the magazine, read back issues to see what kind of stories they publish and what they’ve already published, and finally write that perfect query letter to the editor.

And then wait. And then do it again.

But please don’t think I’m complaining. I get about 4 months a year of vacation from the university, in summer and winter. So I get big chunks of time to travel all over southern Mexico and Central America. Most of the stories on this blog come from those trips.

And although I write all the time while traveling, I don’t bring my laptop with me and I don’t always have Internet access. So I put the blog on the back burner, until I come home with notebooks full of notes, observations, and half-finished stories in my near-illegible handwriting.

But then between these busy times of work or travel, the transition periods are much more chill. A semester may start in one school, but not yet at the other. I may not have so many private English lessons yet. So during these times, like now (I just got back from the Oaxaca coast), I can work on my writing and post to this blog.

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A couple days ago I was looking for some information about South Africa. I know nothing about South Africa.

What’s the major airport? Where are some cool places to see in the country – cities and nature? How do you get around, by bus? How much is a cheap hotel?

I found that it wasn’t easy to find the answers to all of these questions in just one place.

Not even Lonely Planet was simple and comprehensive enough for me, the potential traveler looking for the most basic information, someone who doesn’t want to use a travel agency or, much less, the dreaded all-inclusive guided tour.

It made me think about my blog. While about a month ago I compiled a bunch of stories and information about Mexico in one post, Do Not Visit Mexico Until You Read This, it was mostly stories about specific locations in Mexico. There’s a lot more to say about independent travel here.

I realized that I should write what I was looking for about South Africa – a simple explanation of what independent travel in Mexico is like.

Independent travel in Mexico is easy, safe (if you take the right precautions), inexpensive, and vastly rewarding. And, if you are from the U.S. (like me), it’s just one country down, perhaps even closer than another part of the U.S.

Don’t you want to get to know your neighbor?

So, I promise, over the next month or so I will write entries for the following topics:

  • When to Go
  • Transportation
  • Hotels
  • Safety
  • Money Matters
  • Destinations
  • Food and Drink
  • Culture
  • Useful Local Phrases

I may think of more. Any suggestions?

My plan is to eventually have a no-nonsense guide to independent travel to Mexico on this blog.

So please stick around, join my email list, check back in a few weeks, leave a comment, and come visit! You’ll love Mexico, wherever you go or whatever you do while you’re here.

Thanks and keep in touch.

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If you are planning on traveling to Cancun or the Mayan Riviera, please take a look at my Cancun and Mayan Riviera 5-Day Itinerary on unanchor.com, or check out the kindle version on Amazon here: Cancun Unanchor Travel Guide – Cancun and Mayan Riviera 5-Day Itinerary

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