Monday, 19 July 2010

South Africa - World Cup Blog

Words by Mark Raven
Pictures by Mark Raven, Liz O'Brien, Michael Pyott, Kev Jones, Sal Reeves and Ali Jones

This holiday would not have been as brilliant without the help of Bill Adams at Safari Consultants ( who helped us plan the trip and also book things on the hop. We had to change plans once England ended up as runners up in the group and then got knocked out. After Zambia Bill booked everything up for us once he knew what we wanted to do!

I have split my World Cup diary into 6 sections.
1- General Trip report and selection of pictures (below)
2- Trip through people can be found HERE
3- England v USA Rustenburg - HERE
4- England v Algeria Cape Town - HERE
5- England v Slovenia Port Elizabeth - HERE
6- England v Germany Bloemfontein - HERE

Freedom was their goal
Prisoners on the notorious Robben Island during the apartheid era formed their own football association, Makana FA. They built their own pitch, organised league and cup competions, playing the game as a symbol of their refusal to surrender to the regime. Yet they never had their own strip or badge. They do now with a specially designed shirt from Philosophy Football presented to surviving prisoners by England Fans during World Cup 2010. Now you can have yours too and celebrate one of the most inspiring tales of the power of football. Please click HERE to buy

Welcome to my South Africa 2010 World Cup blog. We turned our trip into an African adventure. We not only visited South Africa, but also Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Day 1 - Wednesday 9th June 2010

Well just a very brief update from Abu-Dhabi airport! Took off from Heathrow about 7hours ago (Flight number 1 of the trip - many more to come), its 5.30pm in the UK, 8.30pm in Abu-Dhabi so that must means its 6.30pm in South Africa. I have about 2 hours until my flight to Joburg.
Etihad flight out was superb, 140 empty seats so it was 3 people to each row and loads of room!
Thats all for now, hopefully next blog tomorrow from SA! (mmmmm as it turned out access to the internet did not prove easy, most places had no wireless or indeed any access at all - oh well had to jot down a few notes and am now trying to type them all up as I also add in a picture or 3 for each day!)

Day 2 - Thursday 10th - arrive into Joburg, drive to Quiet mountain

I landed at 5.30am from Abu Dhabi (Flight 2) and met up with Kev and Ali who arrived via Nairobi minus there luggage due to a fault on the plane from Amsterdam! Sal arrived from a B&B in Joburg and we were soon with the driver who was taking is to Quite Mountain Country House, near Hartebeespoort. It took about 1 3/4 hours and to our surprise we were in our room and at 8am were sitting down to a cooked breakfast! A really lazy day after that, sitting in the warm mid day sun followed by a game of scrabble then snooker in the games room!

Day 3 - Friday 11th Quiet Mountain

Today we climbed the local mountain, a 7.5k walk, and boy was it knackering! The mountain was part of the Magaliesburg mountain range. They recommended we doned hats and took walking sticks as it was steep, did we all look that old. Kev chose a Pith helmet, we all declined that offer! Mr Muscle (a Jack Russell) kept us company for the trek up the mountain, and it was worth it with spectacular views (pictures to follow when back home)We could see back to Joburg and a fair distance towards Rustenburg the first venue for England. When we got back to the Quiet Mountain we cooled our feet in the swimming pool, it was a shock as like putting your feet in a bucket of ice, it was cold!!

That afternoon we watched the opening match, we were all cheering for South Africa (as were the local guests) but they failed to hold on to the lead and drew 1-1, but I thought it was a decent opening match, unlike the bore draw that followed that evening!

Day 4 - Saturday 12th - Quiet Mountain ENGLAND v USA 8.30pm Royal Bafokeng stadium, Rustenburg

For more pictures from the match please click HERE

Match day one! Up for a leisurely cooked breakfast. We spent the morning being lazy before getting picked up for our transfer to Rustenburg. Waiting to go we saw a big troupe of Baboons playing in the nearby trees. There were also numerous colourful birds about, to be identified later from photos taken! We left for Rustenburg about 2pm. The traffic was not too bad on the way in, the only real queue being for the last toll booths on the main road. We stopped at a shopping mall to go to the ticket collection centre and soon had tickets for all 3 group matches. We then headed to the park and ride set up for the games. This is where we hit a few problems. The park and ride was a big field but they were using small minbuses to shuttle people for the 30 min drive to the ground, it took ages to queue up to get on one! We finally got to the ground and passed through the 2 security checks. We had been outnumber 5 to 1 to USA fans in the car parks but in the ground I would say more England fans! The vuvuzelas (sp?) were not too bad as the ground was open and it was all England fans around us! I wont go into the match as I assume everybody saw it.

After the game it was total and utter chaos trying to get back to the park and ride. About 1 1/2 hours later we had arrived back to the car but it was another 2 hours before we were out the field and back on the road. We got back to bed at 3.30am, cold, tired and miserable!

Day 5 - Sunday 13th - Drive from Quiet Mountain to Mashatu, Botswana

So at 6.30am after just 3 hours sleep it was time for a quick coffee and then Wilro tours picked us up for the long transfer to Botswana. Our poor driver had also been at the game so he had only had 2 hours sleep, so Kev and I took it in turns to keep him talking and awake! We reached Pont Drift and the border crossing at about 1.30pm, after passing through Polokwane.
The motorway was full of Algerians heading there for the game against Slovenia, they were at one stage out on the road waving flags by the toll booths!. Once we arrived at Pont Drift we had to be stamped out of South Africa and then it was time to head into Botswana. We had to cross the Limpopo river on a cable car! What a way to enter a country! We were soon stamped into Botswana and then it was an hours drive to our tented camp. We got shown to out very posh "tents" and then it was soon time for our first game drive. I will list the animals we saw later, but on our night drive back we spotted a single female leopard down at the river strolling along! Woo Hoo, what a great first night. The food was superb and the Lamb curry eaten round the open fire soon warmed us up as once the sun had gone down it was a little chilly (well actually it was bloody freezing!)

Day 6, 7 & 8 - Monday 14th to Wednesday 16th in Botswana on Safari
Basically the schedule each day was - up at 5.45am, a cup of coffee (plus cereal or rusk bars if you were awake enough) and then out at 6.30am for a game drive until about 10.30am. It was then back to the camp for a huge brunch and then a few hours to chill. At 3pm it was back for coffee and a snack (well I say snack, it was usually a hot savoury dish and several different cakes to choose from) and out from 3.30pm until about 7.30pm including stopping for a Gin and Tonic to watch the sunset! The last part of the drive was in the dark so goof for spotting the nocternal animals (like the leopard seen on the first day). As if we hadn't already eaten enough at 8pm it was time for the evening feast, all out in the open but kept warm by the fire. No TVs in the camp but we settled for watching bush TV, its amazing how everyone ends up staring into the fire!

From memory we saw
Lions (1 male 2 females), Leopard (just the one!), Elephants (by he hundred), Impala (by the thousand), Kudu, Eland, Spreenbok, Spitting Cobra, White Backed Vulture, black backed Jackel, Banded Mongoose, Kori Bustard, Lilac breasted rollers, Red & Yellow billed hornbills (they nickname the yellow billed ones flying bananas!), Warthogs, Wildebeast, Giraffe, Burchell's Zebra, scrub hares, eagle owl, Hyena, Vervet Monkeys, Baboons.....thats all I can remember for now, I will update the list when I complete the blog when back in the UK!

Day 9 - Thursday 17th - Drive Botswana to Joburg then Flight 3 from Joburg to Cape Town

So a lazy late morning before our drive back to the Botswana/South Africa border. The cable car back across the Limpopo river and Wilro tours picked us up again for our 6 hour drive back to Joburg airport. Ali who has just graduated from Univeristy (got a 2.1 in Physics, well done mate!) found all this getting up at 6am so different from student life of getting in at 6am that he soon crashed out on the long road journey. We had soon checked in and found a bar to watch some football! We ended up in McGinteys Irish bar as it was the only place with seats, beer and a large TV. Lots of Argentineans turned up from there afternoon game in Joburg and they were all very happy. We met our mate Michael who had flown into South Africa that day. We had a 20.10pm flight to Cape Town (Flight 3)and landed about 2 hours later. Once we had our bags (Kev and Alis bags arrived this time!) we met our transfer to take us to the Tiana Guest House in the Tokai suburb! Our driver got the wrong address and rang the bell at midnight of some poor sleeping locals! We finally found the right house and were soon settling in to our beds with nice electric blankets!

Day 10 - Friday 18th - Cape Town ENGLAND v ALGERIA 8.30pm Cape Town

For more pictures from the match please click HERE

Match Day Two! We had 2 hire cars dropped off at 10am, and by 11.30am were soon in the V&A waterfront for the day. The place was already buzzing and we soon bumped into a few mates, we also found the Gus Poyet anti gun message, each country has a famous footballer promoting the dangers of gun crime. We settled down for a cold Forresters beer and watched the boats sailing around and the occasional seal surface for a look at the hundreds of people drinking around the harbour! A lot of bars and restaurants were full but we soon found some space in the City Grill which had space and a large screen for the football! I ordered a mixed grill and it was massive. By now we had met up with 2 more Albion mates, Graham Tyler and his mate Rosey. The beer flowed and we watched the USA recover from being 2 down to grab a draw.

About 6.30pm we decided to head to the ground, The stadium is very impressive with a sloping roof and nothing but table mountain is allowed to be flat in Cape Town. I wont go into the horrors of the match but the 20,000 England in the stadium were bored into silence as we failed to create any changes. We bumped into Phil B and Jay (2 more Albion mates) inside the ground and an old mate Cobby from Gainsborough.

After the disappointment of the game we headed to the Cape Town conference centre to see the Fat Boy Slim Gig. It was heaving and there was soon a group of about 12 Albion fans and we were soon down the front as Norm came on for a cracking 2 1/2 set. He saw our Albion flag and shirts and came over and bowed down to us! By now we were exhausted and it was 3am before we were back at out B&B.

Day 11 - Saturday 19th Drive from Cape Town to Prince Albert (550km)

We struggled up to breakfast at 8.30am after the previous days antics in Cape Town. It was a long drive along the N1 for about 500km, with a couple of stops for water and food. Today was about getting the miles done and then having time to enjoy the garden route! We arrived into Price Albert about 4pm. Charles who runs the De Bergkant Lodge invited us for a sundowner to see the sunset over the mountain ranges whilst sampling some very nice local white wine. The sunset was spectacular, but it was soon dark and time to head out for food. Charles booked us a table at the Gallery cafe and we were once again soon eating a superb meal. Michael was adventurous and had Warthog followed by Springbok!

Day 12 - Sunday 20th - Drive from Prince Albert to Knysna

We left Prince Albert this morning at about 10am and turning for the Swartberg pass. The sign at the junction said "CLOSED" but we decided nothing ventured nothing gained. We headed towards the mountains and spoke to some people in a 4x4 and they said the pass would be shut until 11am, as there was still snow and ice across the top. We took our time driving up (7,628 feet) about half of the 24 miles pass, stopping to avoid a "clipspringer" deer that decided to try and run under our car! It was spectacular as the road twisted and turned steeply and we soon had great views over miles and miles of mountains and valleys. We knew when we had reached the top as there was a sign that said "Die Top"!! We then started the decent and the roads still in the shade were still very icy, so it was a slow drive down! We had made it at last and next moved onto Cango Caves.

Cango caves are basically caves full of stalactites, stalagmites and dripstones made from crystallized minerals. The biggest caves is 2,500 meters high and breathtaking. We took the adventure tour and that meant we ended up crawling, squeezing between very small gaps. It was very warm and humid and the lack of air made it hard work but worth it. I didn't squeeze up the last small gap for fear of getting stuck after the huge meals we have been eating! About 1 1/2 hours later we were back out in the fresh air and recovered by visiting the nearest cafe!

We then headed on to via another smaller mountain pass but this was on tarmac unlike the previous pass that was a gravel track, this dropped down into George and then Knysna (stopping to take photos of the Ostrich farms and finally (after stopping to fill up the 2 hire cars. It was about 8 rand for a litre, so thats about 72p a litre so much cheaper than the 119p I paid on Thursday to fill up my car before heading to Heathrow ) to where I am now sitting and updating this blog at Falcon View Manor overlooking the town. (Knysna is the base for France and Denmark, George for the Japan team). We opted to eat in that night and I am not sure what Kev got up to that evening but he was billed for 3 cape ladies, he claims it was a bottle of the local red wine!

Day 13 - Monday 21st - Knysna

No major drive today, just a short hop to George airport to pick up Liz who arrived from her Nephews wedding in Plymouth on the Saturday. We headed to Mossel Bay and a beautiful beach. We decided to go for a paddle as it was the warmer Indian Ocean, but the sea was still icy cold but this didn't prevent Liz going for a dip! It was soon time to return to Knysna and we wandered into town, found a steak house/bar and settled down for pounds and pounds of ribs and steak and a few Castle beers!

It was only when we were sitting and eating did we discover that France and Denmark had both based themselves around the Knysna area. We looked out hoping to see angry French players wandering the streets as the team had imploded with arguements, strikes and basically no football on the pitch! Shame eh? The whole of Knsyna had been decorated in Denmark and French colours, this was typical of the way that South Africa had embraced the World Cup, they loved it and wanted everyone to know it! After our meal we got the restaurant to call us a taxi, a poor little estate car turned up and we all piled into it. The driver was no the smallest chap in the world and our lodge was up the top of the hill. The poor little car just about made it up, not sure it was still in 100% tip top condition as we scraped over several large speed bumps!

Day 14 - Tuesday 22nd - Drive from Knysna to Port Elizabeth

Our first port of call was the Knysna Elephant Park. They have 12 Orphaned Elephants, 6 from Zimbabwe after calfs were left motherless after a big cull of Elephants and 2 from Botswana. The good news is that 1 baby Elephant have been born at the park.

It was then time to move on. We got held up by the one of the many stop and go sets of road works. Our next stop would be at the Tsistsikama national park.

We visited storms river mouth and the roped bridges. On our walk to get to these bridges we saw some Southern Right Whales breaching out in the sea, but they were some distance away. We stopped for a coffee (or some beers) before heading off to find our accommodation just outside Port Elizabeth. We got our timings a bit wrong and it was not only dark but we suffered a tremendous storm as we tried to find our B&B! After a couple of calls we got the right road and were soon safely out of the rain and wind (and thunder and lightning!

Day 15 - Wednesday 23rd - Port Elizabeth ENGLAND v SLOVENIA 4.00pm Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, PE

For more pictures from the game please click HERE

So the all important final group match. We were staying about a 20 min drive out of PE so we arranged a taxi to take us into the centre and also to take us back later that evening/night. Sal arranged a taxi with Keith so that was all sorted. He dropped us off then gave us his number so we could call him when we wanted to go back home. The match - well we finally manage a win but then hear that the USA scored in the last minute so we ended up 2nd in the group, so we would have to start planning the next part of our trip! After the game we got the bus back to the centre and ended up in a Curry house to celebrate the fact e were still in the world cup. Some time later we called Keith and were back at our base camp. So we now knew it was on to Bloemfontein in a round of 16 match v Germany! Gulp!!

Day 16 - Thursday 24th - Drive from Port Elizabeth to Smithfield

A day spent on a long long drive from Port Elizabeth to Smithfield to leave us about 150km from Bloemfontein.

Day 17 - Friday 25th - Smithfield

We extended our stay in Smithfield by 2 nights as England had finished as runners up in the group so thankfully we would not be returning to Rustenburg! This meant that we now had plenty of time to explore the area. We set out to vists the Gariep Dam and nature reserve.

After the day out we returned to the quiet wild west like town! There were basically 3 restaurants in Smithfield, one up market, one ok and one a bit rough. We ended up in the Pigout, the up market place twice. The food was superb and the owners so so friendly. One had been to a game the day before we arrived and been given a Panini sticker book, which she prompty gave to Liz. So we now had Sal, Ali and Liz collecting stickers! On our last night we all got given a present, a small metal beatle in the colours of the SA flag. We all loved the place. One amazing thing in SA and especially Smithfield was how bright the stars were. You get great views of the Milky Way and the Southern Cross.

Day 18 - Saturday 26th - Smithfield

Well we knew we had made an impact on the place and we did indeed make the local newspaper. Click HERE to see the copy of the SMIFFEY that we appeared in

Day 19 - Sunday 27th - Drive from Smithfield to Bloemfontein ENGLAND v GERMANY 4.00pm Free State Stadium, Bloem

For more pictures from the match please click HERE

An early morning departure from Smithfield saw us in Bloemfontein about 2 hours later (about 30 mins long than it should take due to 3 stop/go sets of roadworks). We had soon booked into our hotel and it was only about a 20 minute walk from the ground, woo hoo. So we headed to the ticket collection point and then a bar for some refreshments! The excitement was building and it was soon time to head to the ground.

The match, well 4-1 to Germany, gutted. The famous Lampard "goal" that wasnt given may have changed the game, but we will never know.

After the game we went back to the hotel to book in properly but then it was out for food and beer. Another massive meal and a few castle beers. It was a sad day all round as We said goodbye to Sal, Kev and Ali at this point. Sal was returning to Cape Town to go Shark diving, her blog can be found here. Kev and Ali drove back to Joburg early Monday morning to try and get an earlier flight home with KLM. No luck so they had a couple of days in Joburg before heading down to Durban and watching a few games at the Fans Fest. They headed home on the 5th July.

Day 20 - Monday 28th - Fly from Bloemfontein to Joburg (Flight 4) then fly from Joburg to Livingstone, Zambia (Flight 5)

A very early start for Michael, Liz and I due to having to get a flight from Bloemfontein to Joburg to connect with the flight that we had booked in advance of our trip from Joburg to Livingstone to go and see the Victoria falls. Not the worlds biggest plane, first propellor plane I have been on for some time! At Joburg airport we bump into Nelson Mandela (well one made of beads!!) At Livingstone airport we filled in the Visa forms and paid over the required $'s. Michael had done his in advance so was through well before us and collected our bags, well 2 of the 3 bags. Lizs bag never arrived so we had to fill in a lost bag form. We later on found out the Lizs bag did not fancy a trip to Zambia so spent 4 nights in the lost luggage section at Joburg airport, this meant Liz had just one set of clothes for 4 days. We arrived at Waterburry lodge about 2pm so after a nice refreshing drink we settled into our rooms. It was soon time for another small snack, then we headed out on to the Zambezi for an afternoon on the river and some sundowners for the sunset. We saw a massive crocodile, various birds including bee eaters and also some Hippos wallowing around. We also saw a brave monkey sitting on the banks watching the sunset, quite close to the sunbathing croc!

Day 21 - Tuesday 29th - Zambia

Today we had set aside for exploring the Victoria Falls. We started the morning with Liz flying over the Falls in a microlight and Michael and I by helicopter. The views and experience was breathtaking.

After seeing the Falls from above it was time to venture into the National park for a closer inspection. We started off by heading up to the top of the falls, before then putting on the ponchos and heading as close as we could to the falls. It was quiet a windy day which made the view of the falls much better as the spray was swept away, the only downside was that it was swept into your face. The ponchos were pretty useless and we all got a bit of a drowning but it was well worth it! The noise was tremendous, the power of the water was as the Americans would say "awsome", I can see why this place is considered one of the 7 natural wanders of the world!

It was a fantastic morning, but it was not time to met our guide and have our sandwiches. One of the local baboons took a fancy to Lizs cheese and tomato sandwich, but my shout alerted Liz and she was able to swing out the way and the baboons quest for lunch failed. They are having real problems with the baboons and monkeys being fed by tourists and they are now turning nasty and attacking people, sadly this means many are having to be destroyed. They have put up warning signs all over the place, they have now resorted to taking groups of baboons and relocating them away from tourist areas.

So what shall we do for the afternoon, I know lets cross into Zimbabwe and see the falls from that side!

We crossed out of Zambia by the road/railway bridge and passed through passport control and into Zimbabwe. We passed where the mad fools were bungy jumping from the bridge and declined to by 10m Zimbabwe notes or copper bracelets and headed into the Zimbabwe national park. Unlike the visa money we had paid over the money here went back into the park and employed many people, in a country torn apart by Mugabe this is a rare thing! The views from this side were as equally stunning.

Day 22 - Wednesday 30th - Zambia

It was up at the crack of dawn as today we were going on an Elephant safari! We got to spend about 1 1/2 hours riding our Elephant called Bop, who was the biggest of all the Elephants. For such large animals they move incredibly quietly and it was an almost silent procession on our safari. Once again we saw lots of different birds and this time a few spiders as well. We also got a chance to feed the flumps as well. They are all sadly orphaned elephants again (like Knysna). After a full cooked breakfast it was back to Waterbury for a restful afternoon. As Liz still had no luggage we went to the local Mr Price to buy some essentials, not easy for Liz as when she was in the changing room trying on various tops, trousers and sandals etc there was a powercut, so she accepted no responsibility for how she looked when she got changed for our evening meal. As ever on this trip the food was fantastic, I now look like a large elephant after many cooked breakfast and vasty quantities of superb evening meals. This blog could have become a food diary!

Day 23 - Thursday 1st July 2010 - Fly from Livingstone, Zambia to Joburg, South Africa (Flight 6), then fly from Joburg to Cape Town (Flight 7)

Today it was time to say goodbye to Zambia, we gave Denis a lift into town on our way back to the airport and Morrison then dropped us off. Denis was sporting his Liverpool scarf and was undecided who he wanted to take over as there new manager! So the rest of our day was spent travelling. Livingstone airport still had no news on Lizs bag, so we headed into the lounge with our priority pass but it was soon time to board the plane. Our flight out of Livingstone gave us a great final view over Victotia Falls. Upon arriving into Joburg we set about trying to find Lizs bag, and against all the odds it was finally located. Woo Hoo. So having just got her luggage back we then promptly checked it in for our flight to Cape Town. We arrived early evening and were soon back at the Tiana Guest house in Tokai. We had once again planned for a car to be delivered to us the next day so we could explore more of the area.

Day 24 - Friday 2nd - Cape Town

A late breakfast today as we waited for the hire car to be delivered. We set off heading towards Cape Point and our first stop was Boulders Bay. We parked up and wandered to the first beach and saw our first Penguin, then headed into the proper viewing area. The first animal we came we came across was a Rock Hyrax (Dassie in Afrikaans). It was a beautiful place and there were hundreds of penguin (including many many babies) wandering around, we had a great hour or so there before heading on to Cape Point.

Cape Point was very busy with Germany and Argentina fans, but that aside we had a great walk round Cape Point, then up to the Lighthouse. Once again the views where stunning. South Africa really is a fantastic place to visit! We decided to go home via Chapmans Peak for the sunset (yes sorry more pictures of sunsets to come!)

Day 25 - Saturday 3rd - Cape Town

If we had beaten Germany then this should have been quater final day, so we decided to go for a day out of Cape Town. We decided to drive down to Hermanus Bay to hopefully see the Southern Right Whales that are often seen there but via Betty Bay to go and look at the Penguins again in a less commercialised place than the day before. We were not disappointed, there was just 3 other people when we arrived and hundreds of penguins, many with babies. There were also hundreds of nesting comorants and also one lone cape fur seal. Sadly at Hermanus we saw no whales, so the whale man who blows his horn to alert people the whales are in the bay was having a quiet day. Just after lunch he got the kids about excited as he blew his horn, only to tell them he was just warming up after his lunch break!! We left about 4pm as had to drop Michael back at Cape Town airport for his flight back home. We listen to the Germany v Argentina thriller on the radio and were all very happy to see Maradona being sent home as Germany trounced them 4-0.

Liz and I had a nice meal at Mamma Mias in Tokai, the chocolate sauce and chocolate pudding going down rather well.

Day 26 - Sunday 4th - Cape Town

So Sunday morning and up early to get to Kirstenbosch Gardens before the crowds. The birds and flowers we saw were stunning, especially the Proteas (only found in South Africa and the national flower - see what you learn by reading my blogs!!) and the sun birds

After Kirstenbosch we moved on to Llandudno beach for a few hours relaxation. The beach was nice and sandy and the sea full of surfers! As time moved on we had planned to go to Camps Bay to see the 12 Apostles (the mountains at the back of Table Mountain), but there was a massive traffic jam with other people doing the same thing. So we decided to take a short cut home but still got a great view of them. We then headed back to near Tokai and had an early evening meal before heading back to our guesthouse and packing as we would be flying to Durban for 8 nights.

Once again we had had another great day exploring the Western Cape, tomorrow it would Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Day 27 - Monday 5th - Cape Town to Durban (Flight 8), drive from Durban to Spionkop

Up early (again) and the 2 hour flight to Durban. We arrived at lunch time and went to collect our final hire car. We had our map and route planned and left the airport. As map reader I was totally confused, when we left the airport and headed for the N2, we appeared to be going the wrong way. We found the turning for the N3 ( a right rather than a left - not matter how many times I turned the map round or sideways it made no sense)and we were on our way to Spionkop (or Spionekop as they spell it in SA). It was only when we were told that we landed at the new King Shaka airport which was now the otherside of Durban (it had only opened on the 5th May so all the maps were out of date) did it finally make sense and I could bravely take up the roll of map reader and navigator again. It was about a 300km drive to our destination and we finally arrived about 4.30pm, just time to get into our room and then meet up for a sundowner (oh how I love this tradition!). Not a great sunset as too much cloud but after another fabulous meal we retired earlier and started on the panini stickers we had bought at Durban airport. There was a lot of swaps out of these packs (Sal and Ali will hopefully have lots of swops so we can do an exchange when we get back to the UK!)

Day 28 - Tuesday 6th - Spionkop

Today was our visit from our Lodge, Three Tree Hill , to Spionkop for the story of a famous battle in the Anglo-Boer war in 1900.

Day 29 - Wednesday 7th - Drive from Spionkop to Fugitives Drift

Our time with the Boer war was now over and we drove over to Fugitives Drift, our base for learning about the Anglo-Zulu wars (the Films Zulu and Zulu Dawn are based on the two battlefields we would visit during our stay)

First Zulu battlefield - Rorke's Drift 1879 (Zulu film based on this one)

Day 30 - Thursday 8th - Fugitives Drift

Today was all about the batle of Isandlwana 22nd January 1879, the day before Rorke's Drift. One of the worst days ever for the British military with about 1,300 British/Natal troops killed in under 2 hours!

Day 31 - Friday 9th - Drive from Fugitives Drift to Ithala game reserve

It was time to move on again. We left Fugitives drift after breakfast. It was once again a gravel track for much of the way/ We finally reached tarmac and then it was full steam ahead to Ithala. We arrived early afternoon and had to time to go on an afternoon game drive and saw some black Rhino. A lot of the drive was in the dark and despite the spotlights we saw not a lot, not helped by the driver putting his foot down and speeding along way to fast for anyone to spot anything! Oh well, we returned to the restaurant for an evening meal and wandered back up to the room not too late as we planned to spend most of the next day out driving round the reserve.

Day 32 - Saturday 10th - Ithala game reserve

Our first self game drive in Ithala. We found a watering hole and soon some Nayal came down to drink, we spotted more black Rhino, plus all the usual suspects of Impala, Kudu, Warthog, Zebra! Another superb morning.

After the long morning game drive we retuned to the cafe for lunch. We had a small snack but this unfortunately attracted the local Vervet Monkeys. Our food survived and we retuned our plates and cups to the cafe as suggested to stop the monkeys trying to steal the food. The condiment/sauce set was not so lucky. I was on my way back to collect them when I heard a smash, the Monkeys had taken over our table. I clapped my hands to scare them off - mmm it had no effect other then one to stare at me, show me his nice set of teeth which had me backing off - next thing I know the monkey behind made a grab for the tomatoe ketchup bottle and was off over the roof with it!! Enough excitement around the cafe, so we headed back out for an afternoon drive to see what else we could see and also find a good spot to watch the sunset.

It was a great afternoon of animal spotting, the Giraffes popped up first, in total a family of 5 strolling about. We saw many zebra, wildebeast, ostrich, Eland and Kudo during the next few hours. We also managed to see the Black Rhino again, a special treat. We arrived back to the camp just in time to catch a stunning sunset. It was food time again and much to my shame I ordered the Impala Pie, a bit spicy but very tasty, I did feel guilt when we drove past a whole herd of them the following morning. We sat down with a German couple to watch the 3rd/4th play off match. This game is a bit pointless to me, but unexpectedly it turned out to be one of the best games of the tournament with German beating Uruguay 3-2.

Day 33 - Sunday 11th - Drive from Ithala to Salt Rock, Durban

The final long drive of our holiday, just a mere 500km to get out the way. We started our journey on a dirt track but even when we reached the tarmac roads the big lorries and interesting loads made it quite a slow journey!

We also made the mistake of not stopping at the first service station we saw and it was over 200km until the next one and that was less than 50km from the Salt Rock turn off! So it was 5km after turning off the motorway to our final B&B of the trip - the Fairways lodge. The room was very impressive, the bathroom was massive, it had the biggest bath tap that I have ever seen, a shower and the most bizzare part was that it also contained a working water feature. The beach was just 50 meters away so we started to pray for the weather to improve as it was by now overcast. We wandered down to take a peak at the beach but it was hard to judge as it was obstructed by a large concert stage that had been erected for the world cup. We carried on walking and came across Siggis, a German restaurant. Everything else was shut so we ventured in and I have to say the locally brewed Luyt beer was excellent. We caught the end of the British Grand Prix and then settled down for food. We had planned to watch the final at the Durban fans fest, but the weather was now worse, the wind higher and the clouds turning blacker. We decided to head back and watch the final in our room and just as we got back the rain arrived. According to the paper the next day the fans fest was full at 6pm (35,000) but by the final whistle less than 5,000 braved the strong wind and heavy heavy rain!

Day 34 - Monday 12th - Salt Rock, Durban

Today we had planned to spend on the beach, but as you can see from the pictures the weather was not great. We did a dummy run to the airport and it took 20 mins, so we knew when to leave the next morning. We also paid a visit to the Pick N Pay supermarket so that we could buy some more panini stickers, we ended up buying 50 packs!!!!! So that evening we spend a happy couple of hours doing the sticker book!

Day 35 - Tuesday 13th - Salt Rock, Durban
So it was up at 6am and a day of travel for me. Liz and I set off for King Shaka airport at 6.30am, First thing to do was return the rental car and then it was time for me to check in for my 8.50am SA538 flight from Durban to Joburg (Flight 9). The first problem was my bag was overweight as the internal flight limit was 20kg compared to 23kg for my international flight! A bit of rearranging and my hand luggage was now bigger and heavier but my bag was allowed to be checked in. Liz returned to Salt Rock as she flies home later, I was off on flight number 8 of the trip. Everything on time and bags collected fine. It was then time to check in for my flight back to Heathrow via Abu Dhabi. My flight was EY601 at 13.35 (Flight 10) with about an 8 hour flight. With the time difference we landed at midnight, with the temperature 38C!

Day 36 -The Final Day - Wednesday 14th July - back home
The final flight (Flight number 11) - EY11 from Abu Dhabi to London Heathrow. We took off 2.35am local time and with a flying time of 6 hours 51 minutes we landed back in good old England at 7am. The final twist, i stood with several other England fans as we watched the same bags go round and round the carousel without seeing time to fill in another lost bag claim form, and as I sit and type this I am waiting for Heathrow to phone me to give me an update. So it was the National Express coach to Gatwick, train to Three Bridges and a taxi back to West Hoathly. So at 10.50am UK time on Wednesday 14th July my world cup trip came to an end! Liz is still in Durban and flies back overnight on Thursday, due in to Heathrow at 7am Friday morning.

So next its Switzerland away in the first Euro 2012 qualifier, but my thoughts are already turning towards Brazil 2014!

Mark R

I had a new passport for the world cup, luckily I got lots of new stamps!!

Luggage update - bag arrived 24 hours after me after failing to make the plane at Joburg. There was a tearful reunion in West Hoathly on Thursday 15th at 5.30pm

Liz update - arrived home safely, surprisingly with luggage on Friday 16th at 6.15am!

Summary of travel
1 - Heathrow to Abu Dhabi 9/6
2 - Abu Dhabi to Joburg 9/6
3 - Joburg to Cape Town
4 - Bloemfontein to Joburg
5 - Joburg to Livingstone (Zambia)
6 - Livingstone to Joburg
7 - Joburg to Cape Town
8 - Cape Town to Durban
9 - Durban to Joburg
10 - Joburg to Abu Dhabi
11 - Abu Dhabi to Heathrow

Rental 1
2,178 km
Cape Town - Prince Albert - Knysna - Port Elizabeth -Smithfield - Bloemfontein

Rental 2
Cape Town

Rental 3
Durban airport - Spionkop - Fugitives Drift - Ithala - Salt Rock - Durban airport

Luggage adventures
Problem 1
Kev and Ali arrived from Nairobi minus all luggage, it was missing from the 9th June until the 11th June when it was delivered to Quiet Mountain

Problem 2
Lizs bag went on strike and decided to boycott Zambia and Zimbabwe so had an unplanned holiday in Joburg lost luggage room from the 28th June until the 1st July

Problem 3
I arrived at Heathrow minus my bag this time, it had decided to spend an extra 24 hours in Joburg. It was delivered back to West Hoathly by a nice courier!

Pre-trip Blogs as I got ready for 5 weeks out in Africa!

......Tuesday 8th June.........Tuesday 8th June.........Tuesday 8th June......
So everything is now packed! (well I think it is!) Kev and Ali who we will be travelling with in South Africa will be picking us up at 3am tomorrow morning to head to Heathrow. Our other travelling companion, Little Sal, is already on her way to Heathrow and arrives a day before us, she is being posh and flying direct on BA. Sal is also doing her own blog which can be found here

Kev and Ali are travelling KLM via Amsterdam and Nairobi, I fly Etihad via Abu-Dhabi. I leave at 9.10 Wednesday morning and arrive at Oliver Reginald Tambo airport at 04.55am! Ouch! The plan is to get our match tickets from the self service ticket facility at the airport. Then we have a pre-booked transfer to take us to our base camp for the next 3 nights . The placed booked up is near Hartebeespoort and the Magaliesberg mountain range, which is about an hours drive from Johannesburg.(and about 1 1/2 hours from the ground in Rustenburg)

Passport - check
Currency - check
Match ticket vouchers and card booked with - check
Vouchers for our transfer and accommodation - check
Camera - check
Clothes - check

So fingers crossed we are ready to go.

Mark R

Ps Another mate joins us in Cape Town on the 17th June - must remember to meet him at the airport!

......Monday 7th June.........Monday 7th June.........Monday 7th June......
Good morning and welcome to my South African World Cup blog. I hope to update this page as we travel around SA following England.

I fly out to Joburg via Abu Dhabi on Wednesday morning with Etihad airlines. After that we have made the following plans

10,11 and 12 - Quiet Mountain - 12th June England v USA Rustenburg
Picked up for 6 hour drive up to Botswana
13,14,15 & 16 - Mashatu (Botswana)on Safari
Fly from Joburg to Cape Town
17,18 - Cape Town - 18th June England v Algeria

We then pick up 2 hire cars and drive along the Garden Route
19 - Prince Albert
20,21 Knysna
22,23 - Port Elizabeth - 23rd June England v Slovenia

24 - Smithfield
25,26 - Klerksdorp

and then it all depends of what happens to England! We head to either Bloemfontein (27th June) if England finish 2nd in the group or back to Rustenburg (26th June)if we win the group. Regardless of the result of the group games we have booked

28,29,30 - Livingstone in Zambia to see the Victoria Falls
1st July we fly back to Joburg and then its all unknow until we fly home on the 13th July

Englands route
Win the group
Rustenburg - 26th June (round of 16)
Joburg - 2nd July (1/4 final)
Cape Town - 6th July (semi final)

Second in the group
Bloemfontein - 27th June (round of 16)
Cape Town - 3rd July (1/4 final) (we have a flight held from Joburg to Cape Town!)
Durban - 7th July (semi final)

The final is of couse in Joburg on Sunday 11th July. We have no plan to go to the 3rd/4th play off game as that is back in Port Elizabth!

Thats all for now

Mark R