Red List, Sh*t List

It seems like good old South Africa is finally off the Red list shit list and the global community can once again visit South Africa and enjoy the most beautiful country in the world, well, I personally think it is but I am biased, but aren’t well all? And anyway, you are going to have to be pretty special to beat Cape Town.

South Africa as a country has suffered enormously since March 2020. Tourism is one of the biggest employers in the country (along with mining) and the global lockdown has devastated the economy and peoples individual livelihoods. South Africa just does not have the welfare state capable of underwriting the population on furlough schemes. It has also been bad news for South Africa’s wildlife. Safari’s and the income they generate not only create jobs, they fund the protection of Rhino’s and Elephants that are under threat because a minority of human dickheads think that Rhino horn and ivory are useful (well they are to the animals but not to you chum)

The really great thing about South Africa is that it has everything. Cape Town is magical, anyone who has been there will tell you that, she also has the best Safari’s, all the wildlife, Table Mountain, great food and friendly, welcoming people.

With luck, South Africa will get back on her feet, I have to believe she will, the country has come through and survived worse in the past.  Flights are very cheap at the moment hotels can be snapped up at great rates. I suggest staying at the Waterfront area or Camps Bay if you’re planning on visiting and Hotels are better if you’re planning on coming and going at all hours so you don’t have to worry about waking other people up (guesthouses can be tricky in that respect)

Cape Convoy has survived by the skin of its nuts but that’s only because it’s just a website now, I no longer own my Quantum minibus but we still have brilliant, kind, hardworking guides ready to rock and roll and do an outstanding job. If you are booking a holiday to Cape Town or South Africa in general, regardless if you book with Cape Convoy or not, please do consider hiring a guide. It helps enormously and goes a long way towards healing the damage done by the red list lockdown.

Peace

Rob

https://convoytours.com/garden.html

11 day hotel quarantine in London – Review

On Tuesday 7th September I arrived at London’s Heathrow airport at 07.00 am after departing Cape Town the previous day at 07.00 am and it was a slog. To begin with I had to fly to Johannesburg to be be able to catch the 13.00 flight to London via Doha with Qatar airways. Because of Covid, I was informed that I have to be at the airport 4 hours before so I had a lot of time before the flight. Luckily I had forgotten to complete a passenger locator form so there was still time for panic as I called my wife and asked her to complete it for me and mail it. This form confirms that you are departing a red list country as planned and confirms your arrival in the UK. I had had my Covid test and had booked the Quarantine hotel (you do this by phone if you don’t have the 1750 GBP on the hip to pay for it) and the Government allowed me to pay in 10 monthly installments.

Form taken care of, I boarded and headed to Doha, the plane was empty and I had 3 seats to myself. Changing planes at Doha onto a packed flight to London I had the crappy middle seat and was sandwiched between a 6 foot Nigerian and a 6 foot Indian, however.. I really enjoyed that flight. We all became BFF’s and swapped details and chatted a fair bit. The flight was smooth and before you know it, I was back in the motherland

Then it starts. I won’t bore you with the details but it took me 5 hours to get from the plane to my hotel opposite the airport. It makes no difference that I am British, every person coming from a Red List country is treated like a social leper, super spreading, contaminated bastard and it’s brutal, oh and a baggage handler told me my fucking bag was still in South Africa. Surprisingly I was fairly calm about that because there wasn’t a lot I could do about it although I was keen to get to the hotel to call Qatar and see what they could do. I very nice young man who was responsible for getting the lepers of the bus and and into their respective quarantine hotels allowed me to use his phone and Qatar informed me that they had the bag and that it had just been sent to the wrong terminal.

Now I am am in room 526 of the Marriot Courtyard hotel, it’s Saturday and I am beginning to find a routine to the day before my release next Friday. It is just like being in a luxury prison. You get 2 20mins exercise breaks a day that you can take anytime. I take mine at around 15.00 and 21.30 and the food is good. I have made a video explaining more so give it a watch if you are travelling from red list country soon. I had no choice as I am due to start university on October 4th but as I say in the video, it you can avoid it, I would.

Peace

Your Pal

Rob

It’s good to be back!

In March 2020, tourism came to a grinding halt. We all know what happened so no need to dwell on that but tour guides the world over have taken a huge knock. I have been unable to run any tours and spend my time doing an access course online with a company called Learn Direct so I can re-train and go to University in October of this year. I had all my eggs in the tourism basket and have been taught a painful lesson. My income disappeared totally and I have been kept afloat by my wife who thankfully, has a decent job. However, tough times, like good times are fleeting and I am beginning to receive e-mails enquiring about tours and a few days ago I took 4 people from Washington in the United States on a Winelands trip to Stellenbosch and Franschhoek and it was brilliant

Exemplary Wineland Service: Waterford, Delaire Graff, Leeu |

Waterford Wine Estate https://www.waterfordestate.co.za/

It’s hard to describe how good it felt to be a guide again, meet new people and get back on the road, I had not realized how much I had missed it. It was more of a half day tour really because we left the One & Only (great hotel) fairly late but we managed to get a few quality Vineyards in.

Our first stop was Waterford’s for chocolate and Wine Tasting. The Vineyard is on a citrus farm and the building is in a Tuscany style. Each Wine and chocolate is individually paired to bring out the best in each other and the clients love it! In South Africa (unlike France I am told) cold cuts and cheeses are not often offered with tastings, there are of course some places that do offer that but it is not standard so the chocolate is very cool. While the clients drink I eat my weight in tangerines outside, and then come in for a chat.

Delaire Graff Estate | Wine, Dine, Stay, Spa & Art in Stellenbosch

Delaire Graff Wine Estate https://www.delaire.co.za/

Once we left Waterford’s we headed towards Franschhoek and stopped at Graff Wines, this place is outstanding, very beautiful and the wine is first class. Clayton, Tommy and the rest of the group loved it and we all got on really well. As you may have noticed, everything is about politics nowadays so although we flirted with that a bit, we just concentrated on relaxing, having fun and enjoying the moment. We were laughing so loudly that I am sure the other guests thought we were a bunch of peasants but who cares? We were having a lot of fun, a lot of laughs and that is what we all need right now, more than anything.

The Gang in Namibia before they reached Cape Town and Convoy Tours http://www.convoytours.com

We offer fantastic tours of the Garden Route, Cape Peninsula and Cape Winelands, for more information check here https://www.convoytours.com/garden.html

Why do we like to visit Oudtshoorn on the Garden Route?

Oudtshoorn is a nice town in the Klein Karoo region of South Africa and a great place to visit on the Garden Route. At Convoy Tours we like to spend a day here visiting the sights such as the Cango Caves and the Cango Ostrich farm. A lot of people think of the Garden Route as the coastal drive between Cape Town and Tsitsikamma and that’s true, it is but to reach Oudtshoorn you have to travel inland, heading north east for 5 hours. Fair enough, South Africa is a big country and some time in the bus is too be expected but why bother when if you head due east you can reach Mossel Bay faster? also not everyone is that that bothered about Caves and Ostrich, well I get that, although I think Ostrich are great it doesn’t mean you have to, but as someone who has run hundreds of Garden Route tours, I think missing Oudtshoorn would be a mistake, here are a few reasons why

1, Route 62

Route 62 is a magnificent drive through the Klein Karoo where you get to travel through some spectacular mountain passes and enjoy the stunning Swartberg Mountains. On the way there are hidden waterfalls, spectacular views and great places to stop for lunch such as the Country Pumpkin in Barrydale. There is a lot of history as well, if you like that sort of thing and the big open spaces and big sky make you feel you are really in Africa. There is also the world famous Ronnie’s if you fancy an Ice cold beer and the semi arid country is a great contrast to the rest of the trip.

South Africa's Route 62 is world's best road trip | Brand South Africa
Route 62 is great

2. The Cango Caves

The Cango Caves are really interesting and hundreds of millions of years in the making. Discovered in 1780 by a local farmer named Jacobus Van Zyl, the 1 hour fully guiled tour is very interesting and you learn all about the history of the caves, how they were formed and the history of the people who used to live there. It’s not at all claustrophobic as the tour is only an hour long, it’s not a big commitment if you’re one of those people who don’t really give a rats arse about caves, I rate this tour, I think it’s really good and well worth a visit. There is also a adventure tour with narrow tunnel’s you have climb through for the more adventurous although there is a size restriction on this so if you’re ‘big boned’ you may not be able to take part because years ago a lady who was ‘retaining water’ got her ass stuck down there for 4 hours.

Everything You Should Know About The Stunning Cango Caves
Not boring

3. The Ostrich Farm

Ostrich are great, I could list a ton of reasons why but why ruin the surprise. You used to be able to ride them but that was stopped due to ‘people living with obesity’ sitting on them. Now we just learn all about these fascinating creatures from some really great guides. At 45 mins long the tour is the perfect length and once done, you will discover a new found respect for these magnificent animals that you can contemplate while you eat one later for dinner. What’s not to like?

Amazing Ostrich

So there is just a few reason’s why I love Oudtshoorn and why I think it would be a shame to miss it. it is a lovely town full of lovely friendly people and a great experience

For more information on the Garden Route then please check out the link here

https://www.convoytours.co.za/tours.html

Chat soon

Peace

Your Pal

Rob

Garden Route Glory – The glory of the ride!

Good times and bad times are like the weather, ultimately they are fleeting and they pass. The Impermanence of all things can be sad, I mean everything has to come to an end, children grow up, holidays that we look forward to come and go, so do relationships. But am grateful for that because it works both ways. Crappy times also pass, I broke my wrist years ago and it stung like a bastard but I don’t remember the pain now. Life, for many of us in 2020 has not been great, some people have really suffered. Those who have lost loved ones, jobs, businesses. Those who are lonely, it’s tough, life is tough. As David Brent says, life is a struggle with beautiful surprises

But it passes, I have written on this blog before that Cape Convoy is just myself and a website now, so what? that is what is was 13 years ago when I started running tours. life is swings and roundabouts. I read that the vaccine is on it’s way. If that is the case then sooner rather than later South Africa will reopen and when it does, I will be ready. I am offering huge discounts on private Garden Route tours for folks that book early, 40 % discounts, until September 2021

Cape Convoy Tours, why you should book! Come join me

I am massively excited to start running the tours again, I love being a guide, I love South Africa and I love the Garden Route. So I am sending this out to the universe, if you’re looking for a Garden Route tour and looking for a guide to take you then hire me. It will be the best tour you will ever take. That’s my commitment to you!

Here are some links for the tours, when you book the Garden Route I include a free, private Cape Peninsula tour to the Cape of Good Hope via the Penguins. It doesn’t get any better than that chum!

4 Day 3 Night Garden Route tour with a FREE Cape Peninsula tour https://www.convoytours.co.za/garden.html

The Full Day Cape Peninsula Tour

https://www.convoytours.co.za/capepoint.html

We gotta go!

This too shall pass. The future of tourism

On October 1st South Africa reopened for international tourists, with the exception of countries deemed to be high risk. On September 30th the list was released by the government and almost every country in the world was on it, so it was the illusion of progress more than anything else but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

Tourism globally have been hit hard, if major airlines like Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia are in trouble then small tour companies and businesses like Cape Convoy are doomed, like the last Polar bear, on the last ice cap, waiting for it to melt

Or are they?

There are 2 sides to this. On one hand it’s very sad to see everything you have worked hard for and worked towards get stripped away to nothing. I don’t have any buses or tour guides anymore, the money has run out and after 6 months of lockdown, my lights have been turned off by a situation bigger than me and beyond my control. Strangely, it is because of those reasons that I feel reasonably calm. Perhaps the feeling of being in control was always an illusion and all Covid 19 has done has brought home the hard, uncomfortable truth that anything can be taken from you at anytime, without any warning. People who are sick understand this, becoming unwell is never part of any plans we may have, nor is losing a loved one or a million other things that life can throw at you

So Cape Convoy is now just me and a website. I have gone full circle, back to where I started. Just like Ace in the movie Casino! And you know, it’s not that bad! The thing about life is that it goes on, Cape Convoy goes on. I am personally in the position where there is nothing more than can be taken from me (professionally speaking) and I am OK, it’s really not that bad. It could be called rock bottom but as JK Rowling said, rock bottom is a solid foundation to build from, I think of Kipling, in his magnificent poem ‘If’

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

I still love being a guide, I still love Cape Town and I am going to hit the ground running again in 2021, if Cape Convoy makes it or not, I don’t know (although I suspect it will) but I know I will always be able to give great tours!

What does the future of Tourism globally hold? no idea mate although I do feel I am on the right continent. Africa’s star is rising and there is so so much here. I can’t think of any reason why people would ever want to stop visiting

This global change that is happening and that we maybe lucky, or unlucky enough to be living through will pass eventually. It is bigger than us. We must surrender to it, accept it and become one with it because we have no choice. At least that’s the way I see it

Stiff upper lip