South Africa - Magaliesberg and Pretoria
The time with our spiritual master, Paramahamsa Vishwananda, was slowly coming to an end. But there was still one highlight to come. We went with him on safari. By car together with our friends we drove up north of Johannesberg into the Magaliesberg range, a beautiful mountain region famous among the city people during weekends. It was a weekday, so traffic was easy and after about 1 hour away from Emmarentia we arrived at the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre. We payed our entrance and waited for Paramahamsa Vishwananda and the rest of the group to arrive for the safari.
Meanwhile we were treated with tea and coffee as much as we liked and enjoyed the tranquil bush atmosphere. It was good to be outside the city again. After a while the group arrived, but no our spiritual master. The group was devided onto 2 different safari vehicles and there was no space left for us. So we kept waiting and had some more coffee. It was pleasant so we did not care at all. The group went already on safari and after 1 hour, Paramahamsa Vishwananda arrived with some more people. We greeted him and then he said "let's go". And, well, we were really surprised. We had the grace to be on the vehicle with him. Wow, how lucky we were. So together with him and some other people, we enjoyed the safari.
Well, it was not a real safari as most of the rescued animals live in huge cages. But still we saw some semi-wild cheetahs, vultures, huge hyneas (the biggest ones we have ever seen) and some wild dogs. These dogs were amazing. There were only 5 of them, but they ran around the vehicle, barking so loud, it seemed like it was a pack of 20. We enjoyed the safari a lot, not because of the safari itself but because of more than 1 hour we could spent together with Paramahamsa Vishwananda. It was amazing. The Cheetah Parc, well, we cannot really recommend. If you have little time and want to see some animals, it is a good thing to do. But if you have more time, better head to a national parc and go on safari there. However, the Magaliesberg is beautiful. Wonderful nature and fresh air. But thn it was time to say goodbye to our spiritual master. What an unforgettable time we had together with him in South Africa. We have no words for this and are simply reallly grateful! Can't express how precious it is to have him in our lifes (and acutally we cannot know how precious it is what he is doing for us). We were sad when he left.
We still had more days left and drove up north to Pretoria. Once in the region, we felt it was time to visit the capital of South Africa once. We had a supercheap room there which was perfect for one night. But food was more challenging. There was a kitchen, but it was to small to really cook a meal. So we finally ended up at a pizza place, ordered a vegetarian pizza for take-away and enjoyed in in front of our room with some fruits as desert (and vegan cookies). Not the healthies option and not vegan, but the only thing we could find that evening and at least vegetarian. Sometimes, while travelling, not everything is perfect. But we were deadly tired after the eventful days with our spiritual master. We fell into bed early and slept like babies.
Next morning we made a nice breakfast outside by ourselves, packed our stuff and went for exploring the town. Our first stop was the -union Buildings. Well, they are impressive and really beautiful. You cannot enter them, but there is a nice parc in front with beautiful views over the city, a huge Nelson Mandela Statue and many little stands with souvenirs for tourists. We walked around a bit - and yes, it was really hot today. A heatwave came over the region and the sun was burning down on us. After a while we drove by car through the wide avenues with the Jacaranda trees. Beautiful - but we could only immagine how amazing this
looks when the trees are blossoming. Blossoming season was already over, but still it was very enjoyable. Downtown Pretoria did not look really inviting and many people had warned us not to walk around a lot. So we kept driving through it and went up to the Vortrekker Monument. It is a unique and impressive Monument which commemorates the pioneer history of Southern Africa and the history of the Afrikaner and is situated in a beautiful setting. We do not like museums a lot, but this one was really interesting and gave us a good insight into the history and a better understanding of what is happening in South Africa nowadays. We had lunch there - french fries, the only vegan option available. We continued tohave a walk around the hills but as it was hot we decided to keep it short.
We drove back to the Magaliesberg and to the Hartbeestpoort Dam. A beautiful Drive through this serene landscape. We could have spent a couple of days there, really lovely. But our accomodation for the night was further north near Rustenburg. So we drove all along the Magaliesberg the their northern end. The villages were changing slowly and one could easily see again a different side of Africa. The region is much poorer, villages are not rich any more
and the typical houses of rural Southern Africa appeared again. We stocked up with some food and finally arrived at our place to stay for the night. It was on the southern side of the Magaliesberg, very close to Rustenburg but only reachable on a dusty gravel road in the middle of nowhere. The location could not have been better. There is a rural house with 5 rooms (or more). We were the only guests and quickly realised why. It was a real shithole. Dog shit and peacock shit all around, inside the house the kitchen was just sticky everywhere. There was dust everywhere, the one toilet has not been cleaned for years - that is what the flies were telling us. So we just closed the door of this bathroom and took another toilet. It was disgusting. It original was a beautiful, huge house in a stunning location with lots of potential. But no-one takes care of it. It is a shame. Because it could be a real gem. So we went for a short walk. Around the house there were some wild antilopes, we found a turtoise in the woods - amazing. But a thunderstorm was coming up with heavy winds and we quickly had to go inside. So we were stuck in this awful place. Well, we made some dinner (after cleaning what we needed), had a quick shower (but did not feel cleaner afterwards) and had an early night in our sleeping bags which we always carry just in case we have an awful accomodation. And that day was the day we needed them. So very early next morning we packed our belongings into the car and quickly left without having breakfast. No need to stay longer. Anyway, the drive over the gravel road was amazing - what a landscape! A fantastic day was waiting for us. Last night's rain was gone and the sun was coming out again.
Our next destination...... we keep this for our next blog!