A ladies adventure in Southern Africa, April 2013 - part 1.

2013 will be one big year, with many celebrations. So I agreed with Isabella, my big sister, that we needed to take an epic trip. We had various thoughts, which leaned more towards a glam week in New York City, but then we both had the same thing in mind- South Africa! Cape Town, the bush, the sky, the wine and food, the friends...! So that was done. Then slowly this idea was expanded, first to the third sister Marta (my twin), then to our mother Donatella (who just in time recovered from her femur injury). Of course we immediately involved one of my best friends who actually lives in South Africa and is a proud South African at heart (although we agreed that she could well be Italian!)- Kate.  And her mother Jane as well, why not? (and Jane is the reason why I know Kate and my whole South African experience in 2008 was so unforgettable). And of course, my friend Natalia, who is Ecuadorian but lives in Johannesburg and LOVES South Africa so much she eventually chose it as "home" after living in many countries around the world. The team was done!

The Cape Town Team - From left to right: Marta, Donatella, Kate, Chiara, Isabella and Natalia

Then we defined the itinerary- it would be a bit of South Africa (I passionately love Cape Town and had to go there, even if just a few days!) but then some serious days in the bush. So the first 3 days we would be in Stellenbosch and Cape Town, and then we would fly to Victoria Falls and then from there drive to the Chobe River in Botswana. Jane joined us on our to way to Vic Falls, and Natalia left us after two days in Cape Town.

The Zim-Botswana team- from left to right: Isabella, Donatella, Jane, Kate and Marta (Breakfast with colomba at O.R. Tambo, on the way to Vic Falls)

All this had been planned in excruciating details by me and a travel agency (Mahlatini Tour: http://www.mahlatini.com/) by end of January. My fellow travel mates had to endure a million emails from me, asking for opinions about restaurants, tours, ideas, packing lists, itinerary suggestions and so on. My Facebook friends noticed a painful countdown to the departure day. I COULD NOT wait any longer! Then March 29th came and my happiness was just too much. I love South Africa, I realize that I long for it, I need to be there once every so often, need to breath its air, see the immensity of its sky, the roughness of the ocean in Cape Town, the skyline and the brightness of Johannesburg.

Marta and I traveled via Frankfurt to Johannesburg and then to Cape Town (il viaggio della speranza)- Donatella and Isabella traveled MUCH more leisurely from London directly to CT. We decided that the day of the arrival we would want to go to the wineries, somewhere were we could stay and also have dinner without having to drive anywhere.


The place of choice was Kleine Zalze (http://www.kleinezalze.com/) - a wonderful winery in Stellenbosch, which happened to host one of the best restaurants in the country, Terroir (http://www.kleinezalze.com/terroir.html).

Finally all together at Terroir!

Check some pictures below from our very short but beautiful stay at Kleine Zalze.

So on Easter Day, we moved to Camps Bay, in Cape Town. I booked ourselves in a stunning b&b, Boutique@10 (http://boutique10.co.za/ ). The view on the ocean was amazing, although the weather has not been nice with us. But it did not discourage us.

On April 1st Natalia left us, and we had some ambitious plans for the day (after a lazy Easter Sunday with a long, beautiful lunch in Hout Bay). I booked online tickets to go on the Robben Island tour (there is a very clever website to book everything possible in South Africa (http://www.webtickets.co.za/default.aspx). None of us (except for our South African representative Kate!) had ever make it to visit it. Cape Town can have some very rough weather in winter time, and that is when most of us always visited it. Even on this occasion, as it happened other times, we never got to see Table Mountain. Or at least, this is the best way we got to see it:

The sea was a bit rough (Isa was not very happy) but it was a cool ride, and long enough to chat and enjoying ourselves.

Once we got on the island, we could not just wonder around- there is a very precise way on which visitors are "handled"- we first went on a very interesting bus ride, and then dropped at the maximum security ward, where we were escorted by an actual political prisoner who spent many years incarcerated there. Of course the name Mandela resonates all the time, but one cannot help to imagine how life had been miserable there for many people. The place was giving all of us a deep sense of desolation, of loneliness and hopelessness. It was pretty emotional, and at last giving a sense of how the Nation resurrected from its own ashes.