One Wild Christmas And New Year In South Africa

22nd Dec 2015

Day 1- Arrivals at Johannesburg from Mumbai via Abu Dhabi in morning and took a connecting flight to Nelspruit (for Kruger national park). Stayed at Crocodile Kruger Lodge. Hospitable place, amazing hosts, scenic location along crocodile river in Marloth Park. Slightly overpriced though. After check ins it was just lazing around the pools and decks. Evening riverside walks! Walked into many zebras and giraffes and impalas. They behaved like next door neighbors. Early dinner by the pool. Weather was cool n nice. It was perfect time of year to visit. 
Day 2- Early morning safari to Kruger. Left at 5am. Our ranger (Nicknamed as "Killer") was best at his game of hunting. Early in the pro spotted the Big 5. Before lunch spotted the Big 5 and small 5 and the ugly 5 many a times. After lunch saw some hunting action too. It is indeed exciting to see lions in action and chase in the wild. Though the poor Impala was smart enough to outrun the chase. Returned back to lodge at 6pm for early Christmas Eve dinner. 
Day 3- Merry Christmas! Lazy day as everything is shut for Christmas. Even the hotel restaurants are closed for dinner. Thus had a sumptuous breakfast and lunch. After a lazy afternoon departed for a two hour evening safari in Marloth Park at 4PM. Park is scenic with few sightings of elephants, rhinos, giraffes, zebras, impalas and plenty of baboons. It is more of a leisurely drive and a picnic feel then of safari. No complaints though! Post return to lodge made our own food as had a kitchenette in the room (one of the benefits of being pure vegetarian and carrying some food along always) and ordered a bottle of wine. Had a lovely evening on deck watching sunset and wandering animals. 
Advice: 2 days enough for Kruger. Carry some snacks always. Buy supplies from supermarkets as hotels are vey overpriced. Everything is at a price even at the best lodges. Ample of sunscreen and mosquito repellent needed. Pre plan your dietary requirements and inform the lodges. Especially if you are a vegetarian. 
Day 4- Early morning flight from Nelspruit to Capetown. Reached at Noon. Capetown is one of the most beautiful town in the whole world. Amazing scenic beauties. Booked a nice apartment on beach road near waterfront overlooking the sea in front and table mountain at back. A leisurely stroll at V&A waterfront and then a nice drive before sunset to Camps bay, One of the crowded beached of capetown yet clean and nice. It is always bustling and is very energetic. Nice pubs and restaurants lining up the beach promenade. Since we all were craving for Indian food, went to The Raj Indian restaurant nearby. It was closed so went to another restaurant called Khushi. Good and fresh food and reasonably priced. 
Day 5-  A morning at Stellenbosch Vineyards. One of the best vineyard with amazing landscape and game animals surrounding. Did wine tasting and had lovely cheeses. Walked along and spent the time there till lunch and went to V&A waterfront for lunch at Bukhara Indian Restaurant (found while searching for an Italian joint). The service, quality of food and attitude of staff all a put off. Won't recommend. At 3 pm started the drive towards table mountain and then an hike to Table Mountain. Took the Cablecar up the hill. Unbelievably beautiful place and sights from that place of entire Capetown. Spent the whole evening there. On our way back stopped for dinner at a very beautiful Mediterranean restaurant "Mezepoli". Amazing food and more amazing drinks. Perfect end to a tiring day. But then day didn't end! At 10pm we decided to explore the gaming scene and thus landed at Grand west casino. Excitement faded very soon after entering the casino due to poor gaming infrastructure. After few games of blackjack returned to hotel and retired to bed. 
Day 6- Early morning plans of Paragliding at signals hills. On the way to lions head. Lower air pressure forced an early landing but was worth it. Then a very OKish lunch at Malenchino at V&A waterfront. After that again we headed to camps bay beach. High tide and big waves made it fun. Early evenings are a must for Cafe Caprice. The most happening bar at the camps bay. Evening head to Long Street for some pub action. Retired to bed early as had an early morning the next day. 
Day 7- Planned to start the day at 6am but started at 8am only. Started our drive from capetown to Outdshoorn and then to garden route for coming week. We  took the N1 out of Cape Town toward ms Paarl and then took the R45 to Franschoek. 
From Ashton we turned left onto the R62 and drove through Cogman's Kloof Pass to Montagu and then onto Barrydale,Ladismith, Calitzdorp to finish at Oudtshoorn. But, I would like to suggest that at Ashton you continue on the R60 to Swellendam and then, about 10 kms to the east of Swellendam, turn onto the R324 and drive through Tradouw Pass to Barrydale. At Barrydale you can rejoin the R62 to Oudtshoorn. Tradouw Pass is a treat to drive through with some spectacular scenery. Had our lunch at Wimpys at the sleepy town of swellandam.  Reached outdshoorn at around 2:30 pm and headed towards Cango caves directly. Took the standard tour of the same. It's a treat and delight to watch the way the nature has made things so beautifully n thoughtfully. After a good tour we came to our hotel BERLUDA, which was more like a farm house with mind blowing landscape, amazing surroundings and a beautiful garden. It is about 8-10 kms drive from outdshoorn but worth every minute and penny. If you on this route, it's a must stay. Friendly hosts and amazing weather was cherry on top. For dinner we went to a restaurant in outdshoorn called The Black Swan. Amazing Italian food and pizzas with a great selection of wine. What a day! 
Day 8- After the breakfast at hotel, we took off for ostrich farm tour with the the hosts from the hotel. Was fun. After two hours of big birds, we went to Cango wildlife ranch. It's a good ranch with some real close encounters with animals including crocodile cage diving and posing for pictures with different animals. After spending couple of hours there we begin our drive to our next stop at wilderness, Sedgefield via George. We stayed at Afrovibe B&B right at Myoli beach. Friendly hosts and amazing pub cum restaurant called pili pili right down there to unwind after a good evening sojourn at the beach. Good food. Good place. Good beach. 
Day 9- Since we had booked canoeing the at 10 am at the Riverdeck, we checked out of hotel at 9 am and drove towards the same. We canoed for 90 mins in the Black River and the weather was on our side but was fun activity. Good shacks they had for after canoe drinks and food. At lunch time we proceeded towards Knysna (10Kms) from there and accidentally came across the Indian Restaurant known as Raasoie (Right on the main road). Good and fresh Indian food after quite some days. Worth it!  Post lunch we drove around the town a bit and then headed towards plentters bay. Checked in the Bayview Hotel. Amazing hotel with amazing location. We pampered ourselves with the penthouse suite for the NYE which was very huge with an amazing terrace overlooking the beach. After check in went to Lookout Beach and to beacon island hotel. Found it too crowded due to NYE but saw few good live performances. Then headed to central beach for some water sports and came back to hotel at about 7:30 pm. Since we didn't have any reservations for dinner at any restaurant, we decided to explore. Came across a nice small Swiss-Italian eatery Amici Miei. Good food and wines. Came back to hotel before midnight so we could stand on terrace with our wines and enjoy the fireworks and music happening across the beach. Indeed a happy new year!
Day 10- And the new year of 2016 begins! Started at 8 am from our hotel towards the Bungee Jump from the world's highest bridge with Bloukrans Bungy. It is about 30 mins from Plenttersbay towards Tsitsitkama. What a way to begin the new year! Amazing weather and views complemented the jump. Must do! Then proceeded to Tsitisitkama National Park to enjoy a good hike and trek to the Suspension Bridge. Amazing trek with mindblowing surroundings and views. Enjoyed the 3 hour trek and came back for lunch at the park. After lunch started our drive to Port Elizabeth. Arrived in evening and checked in at The Radisson Blu at beach road. Good location and service. After a long day we decided to be in the hotel itself for today.
Day 11- Took an 11am flight to Jo'burg from Port Elizabeth.