Jack, Pat and Tom Hogan, together with brother-in-law Brian Behrens spent October 2010 visiting South African family connections
After a year of planning, Jack, Pat and Tom Hogan, together with their brother-in-law Brian Behrens recently spent the month of October visiting South Africa.
Cousin Michael Fitzsimons made the local bookings and the tour started with a quiet weekend at the holiday home of Jimmy and Claire Fitzsimons which is situated on a remote farm, north of Johannesburg. Time was spent walking and swimming which helped the group recover from their international flights. However, we did keep a sharp lookout while walking as we heard about a leopard which was taking the caretakers dogs. There was also mention of a crocodile, so we did not stay long in the river!
Returning to Johannesburg, the group were made very welcome by Nicky (nee Fitzsimons) and Craig Fyall who served an unforgettable kingclip fish dish accompanied by excellent Cape wine appropriately named Waterford. The team then prepared for a week long trip into Timbavati and Sabi Sands game reserves, both of which are near to the frontier of Mozambique. The group stayed in Kings Camp, Galaga Camp in Djuma game Reserve and then Howard Blight’s Giraffe farm. Cousin Mark Yamin and friends Ron McDonald and Neil Ponting joined us for the week end. We were pleased to learn that Nelson Mandela was a previous visitor to Galaga Camp.
The group had extraordinary success in game viewing. The Big Five (Elephant, Lions, Leopard, Rhino and Buffalo) were seen on two successive days. Over a hundred of bird species were identified on the trip. One evening we had an uninvited guest in our kitchen who ate our butter and the large packed of sausages!!! A large hyena was spotted rushing out of the kitchen as he smashed a plate to the ground!
We returned to Johannesburg to prepare for a two day trip into Lesotho – the Kingdom in the sky. The driving was fantastic and at one stage we had to cross over a pass with an altitude of 10,000 feet. A visit to the Katse Dam which is the second highest dam in Africa. This is a joint project between the Kingdom of Lesotho and the government of South Africa. The dam produces water and electricity each month South Africa pays 25 million rand . However, locals told us that very little of the finance has benefited them. We were surprised to see so many women and children carrying buckets of water. You could see a big difference between the schools in Lesotho and those in South Africa which are better built and more fully equipped.
The group then traveled to Howick, in Kwa Zulu Natal and based themselves at the home of Michael and Di Fitzsimons. This lovely home is situated within the Kwa Wula Estate and there are good walks for the energetic. We brought our hosts to Hartford House near Pietermaritzburg for a splendid lunch one Sunday. We were not surprised to read that this restaurant has just been voted as the best in South Africa 2010. Chef Jackie Cameron and her team did us proud.
Michele (nee Yamin) and Trevor Hagemann hosted a sumptuous luncheon at their home in Durban and 21 friends and relatives were welcomed. Michele is a wonderful cook.
Our final excursion was made to some of battle fields of the Anglo Zulu war, the Voortrekker - Zulu conflict and the Boer war. We hired the services of a professional guide and visited the battle fields of Islandlwana, Rorke’s Drift, Blood River and Tanlana. We heard stories of bravery from all sides. It was at Rorkes Drift that eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded in a single battle.
We are very thankful to all those who hosted us and traveled with us on our extraordinary journey which is full of memories which we will cherish for years to come.