As the title says, these are my first impressions of each country, and I understand that we only saw a small slice of each country for a short period of time. I will add another post on Kenya after we’ve been to the Mombasa/Diani Beach area.
My impression of South Africa in general is that of a sparse, empty landscape full of farms, with the population concentrated in Johannesburg and to a lesser extent, Cape Town. The stereotype of the white landowner (and managers) with black employees in the lower level jobs still seems to ring true, particularly in the countryside.
View from the train back to Johannesburg.
In Tsitsikama, I found it ironic that when building the zip lines, the workers weren’t allowed to make any noise, but we were encouraged to scream as we zipped down the line.
The scenery at the mouth of Storms River, along the coast in Hermanus and Cape Town is spectacular, but the rest of it is pretty ho-hum, as it’s endless miles of farmland. The Cape Point area has a very ‘other-worldly’ feel to it as the landscape is so different.
Cape Town coastline
We enjoyed the South African Pinotage, but didn’t have a chance to visit any wineries.
Cape Town is a very Westernized city and is a little too clean cut. I realized what stood out was the lack of garbage littering the highways and streets. It does have a lot of museums that I would like to come back to as well as Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.
Robben Island at sunset
Cape Town is also a family friendly city with some attractions offering 2 free kids tickets for the price of 1 adult on Saturdays, as well as lots of playgrounds.
Another Cape Town playground. This one has a blue train the girls rode.
The biggest attractions for the kids were seeing the elephants, the big fire pit on our evening Safari, zip lining and collecting seashells in Hermanus.
The train was okay, but could definitely use some basic upgrades like putting soap and paper towels in the bathroom and accepting electronic payments. I’ve learned that on our train ride to/from Mombasa, dinner, bedding and breakfast is included, so we won’t need to worry about running out of cash.
Both South Africa and Kenya have their slum areas, the difference being that in South Africa you’ll see satellite TV dishes on the rooftops.
Nairobi slums. Corrugated tin housing.
As for Kenya, we finally feel like we’re getting a real taste of the continent. Our AirBNB host is black and lives in a black community (the hosts in South Africa were all white). We have to pass through two gates to get to her house. After the first gate there is a marketplace that Anthony explored and liked. We saw lots of people walking to work. We had a guide from the Kikuyu tribe and he was very talkative with us which we greatly appreciated, as we haven’t had as much of a chance to talk to locals as we’d like.
Kenyans walking home from work
Everything is not fenced off here, like in South Africa, so you will see animals – wild and domesticated roaming about. If there is a fence, it’s to prevent human/animal conflict.
A random donkey at the side of the road. We passed lots of sheep, goats, and to a lesser extent, cattle.
Along the Nairobi bypass and some highways, you’ll find people selling water, energy bars, fruit and roasted corn to those stuck in traffic. The cars, amazingly hardly ever use their horns here, but rather communicate by flashing their lights. In Nairobi, people and cars intertwine freely in turnoffs to neighborhoods.
Kenyan drivers try to find ways to avoid being stuck in traffic, be it by creating a third lane, where none exists, by driving on a barely paved (not tarred) ‘unofficial’ lane around the traffic, or by playing a game of chicken with opposing traffic, all things we experienced on our way back to Nairobi from The Rift Valley.
Unofficial road to bypass the bypass!
We are enjoying our time in Africa, but have had a busy schedule, so are definitely looking forward to some beach time along the Indian Ocean!