5 avr. 2016

South Africa: first part (In French)

Ho tsamaya ke bophelo! Travel is life in Sotho. 

Welcome to South Africa, the backpacker’s paradise! 

“Criminal activities are very high in South Africa […].Attacks against tourists, mainly motivated by the theft of their property or valuables, can be accompanied by serious violence (theft under gun threat , hacker cars, rape, murder, etc.).” 
Hum… Thank you France Diplomacy… It is not just my grandmother who is stressed by this trip now, I am too. You could be nicer with this country where like everywhere most of the people are kind and want to help you.
I am sorry I did not listen to you, I went in the townships, I hitchhiked everywhere, I took the minibus,  and I also (Oh my god) visited the Nelspruit Garden alone! Honestly, I was scared with all these flowers and trees!
I heard you, but I preferred live South Africa. And that was awesome.

After two flights and a stop in Egypt to see the Pyramids, I arrived in Johannesburg. Just in case, this is not the capital, it is the most populated city. The capital of SA (South Africa) is her little sister Pretoria in the north.
Pamella and Michelle, my two couch surfing hosts, welcomed me in in this big city that they call Jo’burg.

The next day we are going to Soweto (Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, two Nobel prices, are from this township) which is really touristic and full of colors unlike the others township that we crossed which are just really, really  poor.
Then, we are going to Maboneng, another face of the city, the hipster district of Jo’burg if I can say so. Salsa, food that tastes and smells good, music… It is very different from the rest of the city or from the township.

After this day in this disturbing city, I am leaving for the Blyde River Canyon which is a five hours bus drive. I am stopping in Graskop for the night and decide to walk the Canyon the next day.

I walked 16K (just to go), mainly on the road, and saw only two waterfalls to understand that it was a mistake to think that I would be able to walk the Canyon from south to north. The distance was not so impressive on the map…
But I was lucky and when I came back to the backpacker, I met a Dutch couple who will take me with them (in their car). We will go north to see the all canyon, cross the limpopo border and go south from the east part of the canyon in the direction of the Kruger Park. 

In the Blyde River Canyon, you have a lot to see. First you have many waterfalls (Lisbon Falls, Berlin Falls etc.) drooping from flat plain and some beautiful points of view like God’s Window or The Pinnacle.
At last you have the amazing point of view named the Three Rondavels which embrace a green canyon similar to the Horse Shoe in the Colorado. You should absolutely stop there.

At the end of the day, I decide to use my tent for the first time and to sleep in a reserve.
I remember the discussion with my hosts from Jo’burg who told me to take a blanket… I was thinking at the time, “seriously, I lived the Canadian winter; I will survive the South African one without a blanket”.
…You can see it coming, I was deeply wrong.
Even if it is just 3 degree Celsius outside, you cannot sleep in a tent with just a sweater. So, I spend the all night in a warm bath in the reserve toilets… I know… It is a really bad start for Man versus Wild !

Ok, now, it sounds really touristic, but you are in South Africa and you need to do a safari. Near the Blyde River Canyon, there is the Kruger Park, the biggest safari in SA. It is clearly not a zoo, nobody feeds no one there, lions are hunting, monkeys are stealing, springboks are grazing… This is almost pure nature. If you are very lucky, you will see the Big Five which mean you will spot a lion, an elephant, a buffalo, a rhino and a leopard. Not so easy, especially for the leopard; the lonesome one!
For the night, you can sleep outside the park; you will always find a house to host you or a backpacker available.

Just a little advise; visit the park during the day, do not take a “night drive” like they say.  It is just a bunch of tourists in a Jeep with big spotlights who are spotting animals during their sleep. Not really cool…

When you come back from the Kruger you can stop in Nelspruit to see the botanical garden. Even if, for me, it was winter, it was very nice with waterfalls, impressive trees, suspension bridges and unknown birds and flowers.

Voila, here ends the first part of the articles on South Africa. I think, there will be three or four articles depending on what I will have to say!


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