Where we are going and when...

  • Depart Tucson - June 5th
  • Arrive in Johannesburg - June 6th
  • Kruger National Park for Safari - June 7th - 10th
  • Capetown - June 10th - 18th
  • Capetown for France vs. Uruguay - June 11th
  • Simons Town for Shark Dive - June 12th
  • Capetown for Italy vs. Paraguay - June 14th
  • Winelands Wine Tour - June 15th
  • Durban - June 18th - 20th
  • Durban for Netherlands vs. Japan - June 18th
  • Victoria Falls - June 21st - 24th
  • Johannesburg to Tucson (via Atlanta) - June 24th

South Africa

South Africa

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Misperceptions of South Africa

I must say that I did NO research about South Africa before our trip. However, I did receive quite a few comments that had me thinking about how we would manage there. Some of the comments are below:
1. “Aren’t you worried about the crime – theft, kidnapping, etc.?”
2. “I can’t believe you are taking your kids to Africa, aren’t you worried about their safety?”
3. “Aren’t you worried about malaria and other diseases?”
4. “What will you eat?
5. What will it be like in a 3rd world country?
6. It's one big hot desert!
Interestingly, the perspective of a new friend (South African) also staying at the Bentley on the Beach Guesthouse is “We really only have petty crime here, it’s nothing like the States where you have murders, etc.” I thought this was very interesting, as our fear was that crime would be extensive here, I remember our first day walking through Cape Town when Ari and I were watching every person around us – wondering who was following us and thinking we might be an easy target. I think it’s like anywhere in the world (including New York City), there are opportunists who will take advantage of those that are not as careful with their belongings. A perfect example, the first evening in Cape Town, we were having dinner at a restaurant near our B&B (Dale Court). The kids were at one table and the adults at another – the plan was to watch the World Cup Concert. Collin, Reed, and Connor got up and moved about 10 ft over to some couches in front of the television. Kyle was still at the table with her back turned to the empty seats. A young man walked in and stood next to the table (near Collin’s seat). He quickly swiped up Collin’s iTouch and began to turn around and walk out – LUCKY for us, BOTH Ari and Greg saw him do it and were able to avert the theft by taking it back from him. Since then, everyone has been extremely cautious with their electronics and backpacks!
We have taken our kids on many non-U.S. vacations. We are very thrilled to be able to give them the opportunity to see the world and experience life outside of the United States. We are very careful with them and don’t allow them to wonder off alone. One thing we have made sure is that they understand and appreciate what they have, as we have seen MANY who have much less.
Diseases are found everywhere in the world, not just South Africa. Since we are here in the winter, the mosquitoes have not been a problem, however, we are taking our doxycycline for malaria prophylaxis before going into Victoria Falls. Thankfully, we are all up to date on our vaccinations, and I am sure we don’t have anything to worry about. While HIV/AIDS is a huge problem in Africa as a whole, it is not something these two families have to worry about while traveling in South Africa.

Ok, I must admit, I was a little worried about what we would eat too! OMG, the food has been incredible. And by the way, the steaks are almost better than anything you will find in the US! The fruit has been phenomenal – fresh and sweet, the veggies are great, and the rest has been just short of phenomenal. The favorites so far are calamari, hamburgers, and curry. I don’t think we have had a bad meal yet! The worst part is waiting for it ;-). There are lots of grocery stores (SPARs here), and specialty markets similar to AJs in the US – we want for nothing! One food item that is definitely not up to the Campbell standards is the beer (remember beer is a food item – it is made out of yeast and grains like bread, and therefore it is a food). The Castle lager is very much like American beer (Coors, Budweiser, etc.), and the “Imports” are Heineken, Amstel, etc. Not really quenching our taste buds fully, but we are surviving on the grape juice of South Africa – wines here are pretty darn good!
Third World Country – I certainly wouldn’t call South Africa a 3rd World Country – especially as I sit on the deck of a B&B after having a full breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast, fruit, and coffee watching my children play on the beach. There are families and fisherman on the beach as well – everyone looking happy and healthy. I feel like I am in Southern California! The accommodations have been top notch, the service has been 5-Star, and the food and activities have been beyond expectations. In fact, I would say that being in South Africa has been more like living in the US than when I have stayed in Europe. The people are remarkably nice and helpful and joke around a lot and appreciate our company (and we theirs). Spending time in the Townships of Capetown was most eye opening for us, and the part that made me feel that I was in a 3rd World Country (read Ari and Greg’s post on the Townships). Even there, the people were friendly and happy and willing to share their way of life with us.

It's not all desert, and it certainly wasn't hot! We saw snow on the mountains, experienced rain in the city, and enjoyed cool breezes by the beach. Don't believe everything you see on TV!
I always ask myself after leaving a place I have visited – is this a place I would come back to? Three weeks ago, I said “this was a chance of a lifetime since I will never come back” – today, I say “when can we come back and do/see what we missed the first time?” It’s been an amazing experience for 8 people – a chance of a lifetime, but one that can happen again!


  1. Great review of your trip. It paints a great picture. Dont forget the soccer updates. The Connellys

  2. Love this review of the misperceptions. I am going to show it to everyone who travels there and asks me "How safe is it?" and "Can we drink the water?". So glad you had such a fantastic trip! Lindsay G

  3. I don't know you but I returned from a visit to Cape Town and a safari with Marta Ketchel & family on 6/22. Loved to follow your blog and I could really relate to Kim's blog on the misperceptions about South Africa which is also applicable to Botswana . . . I got the same thing. . . "Why are you going to that god forsaken place". Everyone thought we would lose a ton of weight. . . I wish. Africa is such a magical place. I would return in a minute. Thanks for the great blog and "Go USA" tomorrow.