We arrived at a local nature reserve today at 10:30, about 1 1/2 hours from Cape Town. The last few miles were on dirt roads through an area that used to be farmland but is now going back to being the veldt.
The Reserve is private and owned by the sister-in-law of the headmaster at Camps Bay High School. It is a resort that caters mostly to British and Scandinavian tourists. We had a great day taking in the animals, learning about the habitat and eating great food.
After applying lots of sunscreen, encouragng the kids to put on their hats, we made our way in 4 trucks out into the reserve. The backdrop is a range of mountains called the Ceres Mountains.
On our 2 1/2 hour drive through the outback we saw bison, eland, bondesbok, springbok, zebra, quagga, wildebeest and ostrich. Unlike what most of us imagine, the animals run away from the caravan, not toward it. You need good eyes. We saw our fair share of springbok and ostrich.
This reserve is protecting a particular tortoise of which there are only about 400 in existence. They are also working to establish the quagga again as a species. It is extinct, but they now have 13 that they have re-bred to try to establish this zebra-like animal which does not have stripes on its hind quarters.
We went to the pavilion and had drinks and a delicious meal cooked of local chicken, local greens for salad and local fruit for dessert. It was delicious!
Most of the South African hosts came with us today and it was fun to watch the kids become fast friends. Whoever worries about the next generation, or cross cultural problems should spend a week with these teenagers to appreciate the hope we can have in the future.
Tonight the students are going to a beach party on Clifton Beach near the high school. A local radio station puts this on and there will be dancing under the stars.
Tomorrow is a day with families -- some climbing Table Mountain, some going kayaking and some shopping. It is supposed to be hot - 35 degrees Centigrade - around 90F.
West Hartford kids (and adults) are having a great time, taking in a new culture, enjoying friends, and learning about a different environment. Day 3 has been superb!