So, we wanted to fill our bags with some Safari & road tripping maps. And South Africa had been on our Wishlist for quite a while. But, every time we would mention it to our family & friends, the first question we would face would be "Is It Safe?"
But, the real picture is quite rosier. The words to describe South Africa would be nothing less than - Exciting! Adventurous! Breath-taking! So, don't listen to what they say. Go see!!
We spent almost 14 days on this trip & every single day was a surprising treat to the eyes. The game drive experience at the Kruger National park is quite something. It'll leave you speechless as you see the wildlife in the Savannah in their unmatchable swag as opposed to what you see in the Zoos. We can't tell you the adrenaline rush that we felt when we were almost attacked by a wild African elephant or the amusement we felt when we heard lions mating behind the bush (yeah, we heard that!)
We were spoilt exploring a different scenic view each day on our Garden route tour. One day you'be driving through the lush green forests & the next you would be seeing a stretch of blue lagoon right in front of you. One day you would be passing by the rustic mountains & the next thing you're doing is bungee jumping off the highest commercial bridge in the world. Sometimes you would be romantically canoeing through the wilderness lakes & the next day your sand boarding off the dragon dunes. And the list of experiences that you take back is endless.
Best time to Visit South Africa:
The best time to visit Kruger National Park is during the dry season, which falls between April and September. During Kruger's dry season, temperatures are mostly pleasant. Make sure to carry some warm woolens for the night & sunrise drive as it gets a little chilly. What's more, vegetation is sparse, meaning you'll have a better chance of spotting animals. However, extreme dry seasons can also result in increased animal deaths, so it's best to avoid visiting in July, August and September, the season's driest months.
The best time to go to the Garden Route is whenever you are ready, because this is an all year-round tourism at its most gorgeous and glamorous, sensitive and stirring. The Decembers & Januaries are mostly crowded due to the Christmas holidays. We chose May, so that we could avoid the heat as well as club it with Kruger.
1) Day1 - arrive at Johannesburg in the evening
2) Day2 to Day 4- Kruger National Park. The world-renowned Kruger National Park offers a wildlife experience that ranks with the best in Africa. We stayed at the Pretoriuskop camp near the Skukuza rest camp. There's choice of camps that you can select depending on your budget. There also many private properties that offer game reserves. You can go to https://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/ for more information. We usually recommend anywhere between 3-6 nights reservation at Kruger, depending on time and budget allowance. 5 nights would be wonderful - that's 10 safaris! More chances to spot the BIG5 You can also combine your traditional vehicle safaris with walking safaris too.
3) Day5-day7- Cape Town. You can get back to Cape Town by the end of your 4 th day from Kruger.
THINGS You can't miss in Cape Town:
a) A cable car ride or hike up the long spread Table Mountain early morning is a must. You'll be able to enjoy spectacular views of the city.
b)And the gorgeously colorful houses at the Bo-Kaap or as they call it the Cape Malay provide a fascinating glimpse into Cape Town's Afrikaans and Muslim traditions.
c)You can take a long lazy brunch at the harbour front & then head to a drive along the 9 km stretch of paradise, namely Chapman's Peak - it's a must-do with breath-taking views. (you can also enjoy a dreamy sunset sailing at the waterfront, if you're staying in Cape town for a longer time)
d)Cape Town definitely has no shortage of amazing beaches, but Boulders Beach in False Bay offers something extra special - a colony of adorable African Penguins in all their waddling glory, right under your nose. In fact, it's the only place in the world where you can get close to African Penguins.
e)The landmark & the most touristy location of the route is Cape Point at the end of the Cape Peninsula, with the legendary Cape of Good Hope. The Cape point has some brilliant scenery but beware of the Baboons at this point.
f) The Wine yards - Stellenbosch, One of the biggest tourist attractions in the Western Cape.
Although, we did not find enough time to visit the must-do Stellenbosch, we got a chance to have an ever so romantic wine tasting ceremony at the Cape Point Vineyards Estate.
4) Day 8- Day13 The Ultimate Garden Route Drive - 6day tour
Day8 - Drive from Cape Town Cape Agulhas.
On the way you stop at the this quaint culturely town of Hermanus. Its popular for its whale watching & you might even find some pretty little shops along-by with the local flavour. The seafood restaurants around are a must try! The ultimate destination of Cape Agulhas is the geographic southern tip of the African continent and the beginning of the dividing line between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
This Ostrich capital of the world, offers you a peek into its famous Ostrich farms. And make sure to put the BRAAI OSTRICH FILLET on the top of your list to try. Other than the ostriches, the adventure root at the limestone beds of the Cango Caves here, are an experience you'll not regret taking back with you.
Imagine a day full of dreamy adventures like paddling your canoes till the middle of a lake & then hiking up the mountain for a beautiful lunch by the waterfall amidst the mountains! That's exactly how this day is gonna look like.
Day11-Tsitsikamma National Park
All you adventure seekers, don't forget to stop at the Bloukrans Bridge to test your courage at the worlds highest bungee jump bridge(216mts) before you head to the Tsitsikamma. The afternoon can be spent hiking at the Park with its unique combination of indigenous forest and beautiful Indian Ocean coastline. The walk over the Storms river suspended bridge is again quite a touristy thingi but, not to miss!!
Day 12: Addo National park
Since we had already done the Kruger, we opted for only 1 game drive at the Addo & were lucky enough to spot two lounging lionesses.
Day 13: Mossel bay
Oh, the reminiscing taste of the cheese bruschettas, the chocolate éclair, the spinach & cheese quiche that we had for breakfast at the farmers market in George is something we don't want to forget. Again, the brave hearts have an option here of either the Tandem Skydive or Sandboarding. You can return to Cape town by the evening.
Day 14: return to the Den!
Safety tips in South Africa
It's easy to travel safe in SA. You just need to be more cautious than you would be in Europe or any other Asian country. It's better to visit places in the daylight hours with a local guide or with somebody who knows the lay of the land. Whether in a group or alone, avoid walking in the night. Don't wear expensive jewellery or avoid flashing your expensive phone or a camera.
Suggested Local tours:
We booked our local trips through www.detourafrica.com. They further put us on Kruger through Outlook Safaris & Garden route through Earth Stompers. They left us with some unforgettable experiences & helped us explore the different facets of South Africa that we had ever imagined!!!!
Pics Courtesy: Clicked on iPhone by husband dearest & some friends we made along our journey
Happy South Africa-ing!!! Would love to answer any further queries!
Watch this space for more experiences!