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Posts tagged ‘hiking’

fighting the good fight

As with our previous Foreign Service assignments, we have decided to mark the end of our tour abroad with an American road trip. After Kenya we had spent three weeks driving around California; following two years in Moldova we had returned home just long enough to drop our bags before heading to the Southwest. This time we strung together an itinerary that starts off in Salt Lake City and takes in parts of Wyoming and Idaho before culminating in Boise.

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pleasant surprise

Our last night in Bruges we were joined by a good friend who had taken the train all the way from Cambridge to meet up with us. Unfortunately, we had committed to spending the following weekend with other friends in Luxembourg, so we only overlapped for one night. We had chosen the Grand Duchy as our rendezvous point simply because none of us had ever been there before and were pleasantly surprised to discover that Luxembourg has quite a lot to offer. The capital is pleasant and scenic, but does not really have enough attractions for a full weekend of sightseeing. The rest of the country, however, is simply magnificent and definitely merits a leisurely visit.

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standing on top of the world

Dropping more than half-a-mile in five distinct free-leaping cascades, Tugela Falls (948 meters) is Africa’s tallest waterfall, and second in the world only to Venezuela’s Angel Falls. After hiking through Royal-Natal to get a glimpse of Tugela from below, D ascended to the top of the Amphitheatre on his last day in the Drakensberg to stand at the waterfall’s edge.

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day-tripping in the kingdom in the sky

“There’s not much to do in Lesotho,” a South African friend told D, “except to look at it.” This struck D as reason enough to plan a brief visit to this, the highest country in the world. Having already decided to spend several days in the Drakensberg Mountains – Lesotho’s spiritual homeland, according to another South African acquaintance – it seemed silly not to make at least a day trip to Lesotho. Getting there, however, proved a bit of a challenge.

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amphitheatre of the gods

D’s first hike in the Drakensberg also proved to be his toughest – not just because of the length and intermittent sketchiness of the trail, but also because of what it took to get there.

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dragon hunting

Work took D to South Africa a few short weeks after we had completed our Garden Route trip, presenting an opportunity to explore a little more of what is quickly becoming one of our favorite countries in the world. The possibilities were at once numerous and difficult to execute. D only had a long weekend at his disposal before he had to report for work to the consulate in Johannesburg, and all of the destinations that had piqued his interest were at least 4-5 hours’ drive away.

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glimpses of Mauritius

After five days in Mauritius – three of which we spent waiting out a cyclone warning – we were beginning to feel more than a little stir crazy. As soon as the storm had passed and the meteorological service had lifted the cyclone advisory, we booked a car to take us around the island.

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Garden Route highlights

Although we have written already about some of our favorite spots along the Garden Route, we barely have scratched the surface of the many wonderful things to do along the Cape’s magnificent coastline. In no particular order, here are a few more of our favorites.

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the adventures of Pinocch

When Munchkin saw D packing his bags for a return trip to South Africa not three weeks after we had returned home, his first instinct was to plead with D to be taken along. Once he realized that he could neither hide out in D’s luggage nor guilt him into purchasing an extra ticket, Munchkin handed D his recently acquired Pinocchio plush toy so that D wouldn’t have to travel alone.

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roaming round the Robberg Peninsula

Much like Nature’s Valley, which proved to be our favorite spot in South Africa after we nearly passed it by, the Robberg Nature Reserve – which we nearly skipped – provided some of the trip’s most memorable moments. The key difference is that it was not lack of research – but rather too much of it – that nearly caused us to miss out on one of the Garden Route’s best hikes.

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