My jet lag continued into the 3rd night, being wide awake again after just 3 hours. I was able to finally go back to sleep after an hour for another 4 so that was better. As of this moment – waking up after the 4th night – I feel great: 8 hours without interruption, waking up at a reasonable 5:30am. So hopefully I’m good for the rest of the trip. Ash adjusted as soon as he got here for the most part. He’d been in Paris for 4 weeks and then DC for just one before coming back to the same time zone Paris is in.
Having lost Monday to travel I keep forgetting what day it is. Yesterday was Thursday, May 25. We got our earliest start yet. I had the blog up by 7am and we made it over to breakfast about 7:45.
I just had food from the hot buffet: scrambled eggs, mushrooms and pork-n-beans – which I only seem to eat when I travel – and saugage and bacon.
Ash ordered a frittata off the menu which he couldn’t fiinish for the most surprising reason: the chilies they used were too hot for him. And he likes hot!
We split a couple of pastries and I had that yogurt and muesli mix.
We left about 9am and made our way to the Cradle of Humankind, about an hour northwest of Joburg. I’d heard of this before but didn’t realize it was this close until we were at the Apartheid Museum the day before and it was mentioned in the first exhibit – that walk with all the mirrors. We decided then we were going to do it. It’s both a museum and a region that’s rich with fossil finds of the earliest homo sapiens and the versions that came before, homo habilis and Australopithecus, that latter of which dates back over 3 million years ago. It is believed that homo ergaster (pre homo sapien, which is us), moved out of Africa and into Europe and Asia around 1.5 million years ago – hence the birthplace of humankind.
And completely by accident, we stumbled across a celebration of May 25 being Africa Day, which is celebrated across the continent and had a special gathering at this location today – including a visit from the South Africa President. We encountered this little parade which started at the museum and then into parking lots where tents were set up with a stage, TV cameras, booths for food and selling of wares, etc, were all set up.
We stood here and watched as all of these different representations of different African regions came by in full costume.
More parade above, and a little video of it below courtesy of Ash.
We followed the parade up util the point where you had to be wearing a wristband to get in. We’d thought it was strange how many police we kept seeing as we approached the entrance, and then they stopped our car at a registration desk and then finally waived us on when they learned we were just visiting the museum. But we had no idea what was going on at that point so it finally all made sense later. We ran into these lovely women as we started to make our way back to the museum and they allowed a photo.
This is the museum, much of it below ground level. This region also has caves which have some of the earliest drawings ever discovered which we’d also planned on but they were closed due to flooding.
The museum is definitely designed to be kid-friendly – both in display and tone, which makes total sense. And for most of our visit we were following a group of local students, maybe 8 years old. They were loud :) Ash, above, participating in one of the exhibits.
This is a skeleton of Australopithecus which I’d mentioned earlier. I’ll admit that if I’d heard all these names before, they didn’t sound familar. But I found this pretty interesting. Notice how long the arms are. These guys were tree climbers.
There was a little boat ride through a tunnel that neither of us could figure out the point of exactly other than the kids probably enjoyed it.
The rest of the museum was pretty dark and didn’t photograph well, and was lots and lots more of tracing roots and elaborating on progression humans made through fire, tools, agriculture, language, etc. And pointing out how the species evolved with the brain size increasing through each version which facilitated the more complex thinking.
When we exited, we were treated to this beautiful vista, which was a nice change after an hour in darkness.
Along the way to our next stop, Ash pulled over to get a fresh charcoal roasted corn cob.
This is a norm in India as well. It was good!
We made our way to Hartbeespoort, a town that’s built around a lake and has lots of recreational things to do. We opted for the aeiral cablecar that took us about 6000 feet up. The mountain range here is called Magaliesburg.
The lake is pretty dry at this point as the rainy season is June to August so it will fill up again soon. But still beautiful from up here.
Awful requisite selfie with the sun directly in my eyes. I don’t know why I didn’t have my sunglasses on!
A loop went around the top of the mountain and little panels explained what you could be seeing (if it wasn’t so hazy) out in the distance. Lots of little towns and interesting facts here and there.
There were a couple of different restaurants and lots of different indoor and outdoor seating options.
We shared a pizza – margherita with mushrooms added. It was pretty tasty and hit the spot.
This building housed the cable car, a restaurant there behind the windows, and a day spa below. We were headed there to see if they had pedicures. They did, and at a ridiculous price – what turned out to be less than $50 including tip for both of us, which is less than we pay at home. (And significantly less than what the Four Seasons wanted, which was more than double what we pay at home!)
So with that we were here until just after 4pm and made our way back to Joburg. We hit some traffic and got in about 5:30pm. We confirmed that we would go out again for dinner, made reservations and left again by 6pm.
We went to an Indian restaurant, Ghazal, which was #2 on TripAdvisor’s list of restaurants in Joburg. [I’m slightly amused that WordPress recognizes Joburg – how Johannesburg is referred to by the locals; I was expecting a spellcheck for sure but no red underline!]
We ordered what we normally would get at home to compare. It was good, although probably our favorite place in San Francisco is a little better. I kept commenting on how the entire restaurant was filled with white people – Ash was the only Indian in the place – so that tells you something. But Joburg has a fairly large Indian population so we thought it would be pretty good. And it was: chicken tikka masala and aloo ghobi – cauliflower and potatoes. And of course, garlic naan
And that ends the Joburg portion of our adventure. We will head to the airport today about 8:30am to catch our 11:30am flight to Victoria Falls, where we pick up the National Geographic 10 day safari. We were looking at the accommodations last night and they look pretty nice, but still don’t have any idea whether or not Wi-Fi will be available. So, we will see you when we see you. Either way I’ll be sure to return with lots of photos.
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Have a wonderful time on the safari.
Safe travels! Karen
Loved all of this! Wish I was there with you and Ash! Loved the parade!