The day at sea was pretty rocky as we navigated the Mozambique Plateau; two currents flowing in a southerly direction along the coast – the Mozambique and the Agulhas. The information from the navigator had warned us about abnormal high waves preceded by a deep trough that may be encountered between Durban and Cape Town. It was even too windy to walk on the rolling deck.
We were invited to dinner with the Captain that night – well us and about 20 other people. We sat with the Comptroller who was from The Hague, Netherlands and three other couples from our deck. We got all gussied up and had our photo taken by the ship’s photographer. The coast at Cape Town was a multi-layered hazy silhouette as we approached the harbour the next day. We were due to dock at Cape Town at 1 o’clock but the high seas and gale force winds closed the port. We had been scheduled to go on tour at 2 PM but the excursions were cancelled (I really wanted to go on that one too. It was a trip to the Gold Museum where they collect, design and make gold jewelry followed by a trip to the diamond showroom.) We dropped anchor at three and the pilot came onboard, but the wind rose again and he left. We were able to walk the deck for our ten laps. It was a struggle on the starboard side but the port side was alee so it was much better.
The motion calmed enough to take some photos of Table Mountain from the deck. All excursions were cancelled at 4:30 and we spent the night anchored off shore. When a cloud settles on the top of Table Mountain they call it a table cloth.The next morning we were able to dock and we set off for our last game drive. Once again we had a long drive – almost 2 1/2 hours – and we left the ship at 6:30 am. The sun wasn’t even up. We headed north and east out of the city, past rocky terrain with sagebrush scrub, but once we passed through the 4.5 km Huegonott Tunnel we were in grape and citrus country. It was beautiful countryside. There were vineyards in all directions as far as you could see; something like driving through California’s Napa Valley – but with the occasional shanty town.
There were two types of grape trellises; those growing on vines up and down rows like we see at home or in California, and others that were like overhead carpets where the vines grew up the trellises and accross the top to form a huge green blanket. The grapes on the vines were for wine, the grapes hanging from the ‘blankets’ were table grapes. We were given breakfast upon our arrival at the Aquila Private Nature Reserve. As we departed for our game drive the wind was still blowing and it was quite cold. We were out for 2 1/2 hours and we were somewhat disappointed as Aquila was not so much a Game Reserve as a Game Farm/Rescue Facility. If we had been told this from the beginning it would not have been an issue because people would have had the choice to go or not. As it was many people were displeased to learn the animals are partially fed because the land is quite barren and could not provide the required nutrional levels and that they were ‘rescues’ that, it was hoped, could be released to the wild again. This was not in any way a bad thing and the animals had plenty of space and looked well cared for, it just was not what people had been told to expect. These crocs have spent too much time in the red mud.
There was a lot of semi-arid land for the hoofed animals, but we only saw 2 young elephants, 1 giraffe, 5 rhinos and 6 hippos, a distant Cape Bufallo and a couple of ostrich. We did see several types of antelope, both blue and black wildebeest, and springbok which we had not seen before, but none of the ‘free roaming herds’ as advertised. And all the big cats were kept in enclosures. I will admit it was nice to see lions and a cheetah up close and it would have been unlikely we would ever have seen them in an open setting, but again, not quite as advertised. They were lovely animals though, and were relaxed. None of them exhibited the stress pacing we had seen before in zoos or parks. For the first we returned early from a tour. Many of the people on the bus were not very happy and I think the shore excursions people would be getting some negative feedback on the day. People were not upset with the animals they saw or the setting, guides or vehicles, it was more that the reality did not live up to the information we were given in the brochure. So many of the people on a world cruise are regular travellers (some people do the World Cruise every year! Or, at least, every other year.), so they are very aware of ‘advertising hype’ in tour write-ups. It wasn’t at all a bad day, just a somewhat disappointing one in a general sense. And I was very happy to see the cats. My strategy of booking lots of animal tours worked out and we did see all of the Big Five except the very elusive leopard, plus many, many more of Africa’s amazing animals. ( And I like cheetahs better than leopards anyway.) We have one more day in Cape Town before we Round the Horn and sail up the west coast of Africa.