At some point it had to happen – back to Johannesburg to repack the vehicle and complete route planning.
The first time Viking Explorer visited South Africa – all those years ago – we completed this 1,500km journey from Cape Town to Johannesburg in one epic day. Not so this time … we are more like the tortoise and less like the hare, and so it took us 3 days, including stops and visits to tourist sites.
We crossed the Overberg mountains from Onrus to Worcester before joining the main national route to Joburg. We then continued our journey through the Karoo before reaching our stop for the night at Karoo National Park (see Viking Explorer’s blog post).
The next morning, after our 3 hour game drive at the crack of dawn, we continued our way through the Karoo to Kimberley, a historic little town which owes its existence to the discovery of diamonds. We stayed in a municipal campsite – with a rather eccentric Botswanan backpacker as a neighbour! It was very clean, neat and tidy. Even its location in the middle of the city wasn’t too noisy – although I am almost sure I heard a call to prayer at about 0530 …
Our journey via Kimberley was specifically chosen so that we could enjoy a visit to the Big Hole. Definitely worth a stop if you are in the area. Not only is the hole itself impressive – the largest hand dug excavation in the world at 215 metres deep and a surface area of 17 hectares – but the Museum is very interesting. The Old Town boasts period buildings that have either been preserved or replicated in their entirety. There is a free guided tour (OK, included in the admission price) which includes a 15 minute video about the early years in Kimberley, an underground experience, a real diamond display, and an exhibition centre.
Then, back on the road to complete the journey to Johannesburg. Again, we were reminded of the caution necessary on the roads, as we passed an overturned minibus taxi.
This whole trip was completely eye opener for me. While I love my country, so of course think it is gorgeous, this time I looked at it with new eyes: the eyes of a traveller, an explorer, an adventurer.
I was blown away.
The natural beauty is astounding. After everything we saw and experienced in the first stage from Morocco to Senegal, the variety and beauty of the Cape was captivating. It has gorgeous coastlines, stunning mountain ranges and the wide open flats of the Karoo.
It really is the world in one country. There is so much to see and do, and the country is becoming more and more tourist oriented.
I am so privileged and so proud to be South African.