Sorry folks I forgot we are trying to post most of our Theo photos here and not just Facebook as some people don’t use the walled garden that is FB. I will catch the blog up with some things we have posted along with some extra goodies.
Babies For Nerds
I also have another Baby related post on my developer blog, as it a bit more nerdy than our normal family blog post. Check out Alexa For Newborns if you are interested in how I have worked to setup our house for more hands free usage, since baby Theo is frequently taking up all our hands.
So as we were planning our trip, a tweet from @gingerale, whom I follow, popped up.
It was an amazing photo, and inspiring to me, as I was thinking about our upcoming travel. Since I knew we had South Africa on our list, I decided I needed to learn about this hike and plan a visit. In fact I replied to the tweet saying, I needed to do visit, and added it to my travel checklist.
Well it only 160 days later and mission accomplished. I am nothing if I am not good at completing todo items 😉
Oddly enough, finding the original photo so I could link back to my inspiration was a bit hard as @EarthPixs has since removed the photo. Luckily, nothing is ever really gone on the internet and a few google searches turned up the photo. However, I still don’t know who exactly to credit for the photo, so I will still just refer to the no longer working @EarthPixs post.
Erin on edge as well
another edge with Robben Island in the background
Erin don’t look down!
Yes we always take peace sign photos
Not a bad view
it almost looks like I am jumping into the ocean
Erin and I dangling our feet
Anyways, it is an amazing hike. It’s actually more what I would call rock scrambling. There is a nice standard trail for about 3/4’s of the hike, then it splits to the easy route or the chains and ladders route. Both routes are reasonably difficult and will require climbing with your hands and feet. The chains and ladders is more popular, but was very crowded so we only use it on the way up, opting for the less popular ‘recommended’ route on the way down. Some of the ladders are just metal hand holds bolted into rock. Others are legit ladders secured into the rock face. There are still many places you will be ‘scrambling’ up with hands and feet together over slightly challenging terrain. Besides a few overcrowded moments where we were are forced to stand with a crown by a cliff face, this is my favorite kind of hike, a mix of walking / climbing.
The spiral climb is amazing because you get to see the view from all sides of the mountain. It still has nothing on the 360 degree panorama you are treated to if you reach the peak. I was really happy to have to chance to experience this ‘todo’ item. It took us 3h40min because of crowds and a picnic lunch in the shade of a cave on the way down. Going our normal speed without crowds it would likely still take 2h30min.
Finally the beach you see below our feet is Camp’s Bay Beach, which was so beautiful that we had to make it our next stop. Down the mountain and straight for the sand. The view of Lion’s head, which we had just summitted, from just outside out beach umbrella was impressive.
If you ever have a chance visiting Cape Town for Lion’s Head hike, I highly recommended it. Just might want to visit during a less crowded time than Christmas and New Years, as everything is packed even the trails.
There are far too many thoughts, to really ever sum up our safari in one post. I am sure we will make a couple posts over time about specific parts of the trip, or reviewing G adventures whom we did the trip with. In the end though, there is an overwhelming amount of feelings and thoughts that you have over a 24-day overland Africa trip. I won’t begin to try to cover it here, but I did want to write out a few thoughts before they fade from memory. (From Erin — the long and short of it is that it is awesome and you can totally hang. [Even we totally hung, and if you ask around, you will find that I am not low maintenance.] If you are thinking of doing a 24-day overland African safari…just do it…it will be amazing. Sure, sometimes you will be uncomfortable, but mostly, it will be just fine. We had a good time on our G Adventures tour — one awesome guide and one fine guide. We are guessing that other operators do it just fine too. Find an operator with a sale going on, and just book it.)
1. A safari is like a really long unedited version of Discovery channel.
Seriously, all the things you see on animal planet are real, and common — not even that hard to find. You can find a sleeping lion next to it’s kill with baboons taunting it for fun, while a jackal tries to creep in and steal some loose meat from the kill.
2. You will appreciate zoos a bit more
I am not talking about sad zoos that mistreat animals. I am talking about ones with breeding programs for endangered animals. Ones that are helping study animal behavior in responsible ways. Even things like Disney’s animal kingdom, which is massive, and really simulates open wild game parks. There are tons of animals in the wild having their habitats split up and destroyed in ways that will decimate the animal populations. Without study and intervention, some species will die because we don’t understand their migration patterns and we destroyed a part of it.
Some of the breeding programs are the best bets to help some animals survive. Also, when an environment is built really well it can help study animal behavior in less invasive and destructive ways than completely invading the space of the few remaining wild groups of animals.
Finally, having seen some animals in a zoo and as a child, I thought the animals just laid around boring like that because they are in captivity — so not true. Free and wild lions will sleep 20 hours a day, and really don’t give a crap about tourists or most other animals if they aren’t hungry at the moment. So, what you see in a good zoo is a pretty accurate sample of their lifestyle. If you are at a humane zoo, you can see real animals behavior without hours in a hot truck. I am not saying that zoos are the same as safaris, or that we don’t need protected parks if we have zoos, I am just saying that good zoos can be part of the overall solution to protect and fund habitats for the planet’s animal population.
3. Everything is 50/50 in Africa.
Is it going to rain? 50/50
Will we reach camp before sunset? 50/50
Does the campsite have hot water? 50/50
Will we be chased by hyenas when we try to make it to the bathroom in the middle of the night? 50/50
4. After the Safari I have come to appreciate some things much more than I used to, a few examples below:
hooks (particularly in bathroom showers)
showers that don’t electrocute you (we ran into slightly electrocuting water faucets at two different campsites)
flush-able toilets (although I will still take the “long drop” over a flush-able squat toilet)
a back-lit kindle
good headlamps or lanterns
a real bed
non-instant coffee (thanks Joel, for the coffee pot filter trick)
5. You will watch something amazingly beautiful and brutal at the same time
Probably the most interesting thing we watched on safari was a leopard that carried it’s Red Buck kill across the road and then up into a tree. It was pretty incredible to watch and it seemed a bit odd to so casually watch the rawness of life.
“When you see a herd of animals with a predator nearby, you always cheer for the prey. ‘You can do it, run, run…stay together… ‘ but once it is obvious that the predator is going in for the kill, you begin to cheer for the predator, ‘kill, kill,’ because you realize that the lion is hungry… and you want to see it happen.” -Erin