Cape Town and the Garden Route

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Travelling around South Africa during the 2010 World Cup

By: KarlD, posted 18th November '12

For the avid traveller, the thought of attending a global football tournament is probably as appealing as a visit to the dentist! But I like the dentist (OK I may be using a bit of poetic licence here!), and I am football mad. So what better way of combining two passions than travelling around the World watching the Three Lions of England kick a football about! So to South Africa 2010, in the build-up to the event the most controversial World Cup in living memory. Headlines about safety, security, inflated prices, poor infrastructure, and the general pre-conception in the press that everything would self-implode as thousands of English hooligans ran riot (come on guys we’re not living in the 1980’s anymore!). As the focus of the World began to descend on South Africa, I arrived in Durban for a week warming up in KwaZulu Natal, visiting the fantastic wildlife reserves of Hluhluwe-Umfolozi, St Lucia (iSimangaliso), Tembe (thanks to a Wanderlust article), and Ithala. I was hoping to get my first glimpse of those Three Lions, but alas only saw two! So to the first match against the USA in Rustenburg, and the Three Lions are released onto the tournament…. And promptly hid under a bush as the Bald Eagles circled! Nothing for it but to head to the Drakensburg escarpment and Blyde River Canyon to watch the Eagles soar! Surely the Algerian Foxes in Cape Town and Slovenian Ibexes in Port Elizabeth would be easy prey for the Three Lions? The wirily foxes were not to be outwitted in the shadow of Table Mountain, but a fatal slip by an Ibex made them the Three Lions first prey, as the Elephants in Addo watched on. Would this make the Three Lions hungry for more? Bloemfontein, a date with the Black Eagles of Germany, and a sporting lesson that sent England’s hopes disappearing deep into the Big Hole mine in nearby Kimberley! So with time on my hands, it was time to discover more of South Africa, and back to Cape Town to drown some sorrows (well the Stellenbosch wine festival was on!), before a road trip up the west coast and across the Kalahari. Finally on the day of the World Cup Final, in the Kalahari Game Reserve I spotted those Three Lions, basking under a tree next to a fresh kill. That night I sat in camp, with nationalities from 6 other countries to watch the final. And somewhere out in the darkness, all that could be heard was the roar of Three Lions! Whether it be an Olympics, World Cup or any other major sporting festival, I would urge you to go. Wherever that may be I can guarantee the country will put on its finest display, welcome everyone with open arms, and make you want to come back for more. Just don’t expect much on the sporting side if you follow the England football team – but maybe one day those Three Lions might just roar again!
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