After a twelve-hour flight from Heathrow, we landed in Cape Town and we were met by our guide, Heath. Our first activity was a visit to the lighthouse on Cape Point, which had incredible views across the bay. This is where we spotted our first animals on the trip with ostriches and baboons walking along the side of the road. The next day was our first full day in South Africa and it began with a visit to the District Six Museum. We were given the tour around the museum by a guide who herself had lived and been evicted from district six under the apartheid government and had been forced to move away from her family with a young baby. This visit gave us our first real insight into the impact of the apartheid regime, and how it continues to impact upon people’s lives in the present day. That afternoon we took the cable car up Table Mountain for more incredible panoramic views. The next day Heath took us to Boulder Bay Beach where we had the incredible opportunity to see numerous African penguins in their natural habitat interacting with each other. That afternoon we completed our first hike of the trip to the top of Elsie's Peak where good weather allowed for long distance views over the heart shaped bays. After a steep climb down, we were kindly invited back to Heath and Belinda's house for a BBQ. On our final night in Cape Town, we visited Gold’s restaurant where we were served fourteen courses of traditional African food that was accompanied by a variety of music and performances from different countries across the continent. Our final day included a visit to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, located at the foot of Table Mountain before we drove towards Geogedacht Farm for the next part of our trip.
After about an hour’s drive from Cape Town we arrived at the Goedgedacht Farm. We were given a friendly welcome by the staff before heading into the barn for icebreakers and an introduction to the Path out of Poverty (POP) initiative. The POP aims to break the cycle of poverty present in many rural areas of the Western Cape. The programme focuses on education as a crucial tool for breaking the cycle and does everything it can to reduce the level of school drop outs each year. The programme combines this with personal development and health and care for the planet to help bring up intelligent and conscientious young people. Goedgedacht itself is home to POP 1, the very first POP centre under the initiative.
The next morning we headed out for a short tour of the farm, viewing the olive grove donations, sports facilities and finally attempting the Goedgedacht obstacle course. We visited our first POP centre that afternoon at Riverlands. We had an amazing time playing games and dancing with the children before helping in the kitchen with their dinner. Most days at the farm were spent either visiting the POP centres or helping on the farm’s various projects. We spent one morning packaging seeds that would be sent out to the local communities and helping in the Goedgedacht bicycle project that repairs bikes before distributing them to local people.
Each evening was spent with the Goedgedacht Youth. They are 17-25 year olds that the farm employs in construction, as well as on a programme that aims to help them through this crucial phase in life into adulthood. On Monday we had a bonfire and played games to get to know each other. On Tuesday it was Apartheid games in which we were all given a colour: either white, black or coloured and played games in which the whites were always given the advantage. This furthered our understanding of the Apartheid regime and how it was set up for Black and Coloured people to fail. The next evening was less serious as we were split up into teams for a karaoke competition in the barn. Thursday was equally competitive with teams competing to win the Goedgedacht mini Olympics and on Friday KES competed against Goedgedacht in a talent show. By this time, close bonds had been made between us and on Saturday there were emotional goodbyes.
A highlight of our stay at Goedgedacht included a visit to the KES-funded POP 6 at which we could see the huge impact that our fundraising throughout the year was having. Saturday, in particular, was a special day as we each took a child from the Riverlands POP centre out into Cape Town for the day. We went ice skating, ate pizza for lunch and then spent the afternoon at the beach. For many of these children it was the first time they had even seen the sea. Sunday was a sad day as we said goodbye to the farm and headed south-east to the Garden Route Game Lodge.
Garden Route Game Lodge
After a week filled with emotion, we took a scenic four hour drive to the Southern Cape, where we would spend the next couple of days at the Garden Route Game Lodge. Over the course of these two days, we did four fantastic game drives, during which we sighted numerous African animals including rhinos, cheetahs, lions, giraffes, hippos, zebras, springbok, wildebeest, elephants and more. Unfortunately, we didn’t complete the big 5 as we didn’t find any leopards. We also got the chance to go to the Lodge’s reptile centre and handle some snakes. Our accommodation provided some amazing buffets, which included ostrich, kudu and eland.
During our time at the lodge, we had valuable time to reflect on the experiences at the farm, as well as share meaningful stories and memories. The safari was also a great change of scene from the intense but eye-opening previous week, and allowed us to bond and relax as a group during the last few days of the trip.