Backpacking in South Africa : Garden Route, Kruger Park, Cape Town & Johannesburg

Tripoto
26th Dec 2016
Photo of Backpacking in South Africa : Garden Route, Kruger Park, Cape Town & Johannesburg by Gautam S

In Dec 2016, I set foot in the African Continent for the first time. Three of us- My Brother-In-Law, My Sister and I had eagerly planned this excursion for a while now. The Garden Route drive and the Kruger National Park were the main highlights of this trip. We took the Ethiopian Airline flight ex-Mumbai with an overnight layover in Addis Ababa. The flight was pretty comfortable and very light on the wallet.

Photo of Backpacking in South Africa : Garden Route, Kruger Park, Cape Town & Johannesburg 1/1 by Gautam S

After landing in Johannesburg airport, we boarded our flight to Port Elizabeth. Here we rented a car from Hertz and officially started our 3 day Garden route drive to Cape Town. We had decided on overnight stay at 3 places- Port Elizabeth, Plettensburg Bay and Mossel Bay. All these places are popular quiet beach towns along the garden route with a very active nightlife. The must-do activities along the garden-route drive includes a visit to the Cango caves and the Tsitsikamma ziplines. For adrenaline junkies, the world's highest bungee jumping from the Bloukrans bridge, could also be included in the itinerary.

Photo of Backpacking in South Africa : Garden Route, Kruger Park, Cape Town & Johannesburg by Gautam S

Hermanus is another very popular retirement town enroute from Mossel Bay to Cape Town(CT). It is amongst the 12 top places in the world for whale watching. The best months to spot whales are between September to November. The town itself is very charming with a beautiful town square having several little taverns and cafes and a few street musicians.

Photo of Backpacking in South Africa : Garden Route, Kruger Park, Cape Town & Johannesburg by Gautam S

CT was our next destination. It is a short 2 hour drive from Hermanus. We had booked our accommodations close to the V&A Waterfront. CT offers many amazing sightseeing tours such as Boulders Beach- to visit the penguins in their natural habitat, Cape of good hope and chapman's peak drive- for their spectacular scenery, Table Mountain and Lion Head- to get a eagle-eye view of the cape and also the city tour. For adrenaline junkie, Shark-Cage diving could be another good option. Being along the coast, CT also offers several beautiful beaches such as the Clifton beach and the Camps Bay beach among others. On New Years Eve, we went to the V&A waterfront to celebrate with the huge gathering of tourists and locals. A fun parade during the day was followed by a brilliant display of fireworks upon the arrival of the new year.

Photo of Backpacking in South Africa : Garden Route, Kruger Park, Cape Town & Johannesburg by Gautam S
Photo of Backpacking in South Africa : Garden Route, Kruger Park, Cape Town & Johannesburg by Gautam S

After dropping off the rented car at the airport in CT, we boarded our flight to Durban. Again at the airport in Durban we rented another car. We had planned to drive the 700+ kms to Kruger National Park. Another option is to take the flight to Kruger. In Durban we visited the Ushaka Marine world and a few beaches. Another interesting activity in Durban is the stadium swing (not for the faint-hearted though): https://www.mmstadium.com/attractions/big-swing/

Photo of Backpacking in South Africa : Garden Route, Kruger Park, Cape Town & Johannesburg by Gautam S

From Durban we drove a good 10 hours to reach Nelspruit-gateway to the Kruger National Park. We stayed overnight at the Duikers Den jungle cottage, owned and managed by the lovely Sheila, who offered us several tips on animal-spotting in the Kruger park and also loaned us her binoculars.

Photo of Backpacking in South Africa : Garden Route, Kruger Park, Cape Town & Johannesburg by Gautam S

Kruger is amongst the big national parks in Africa and boasts of a wide variety of flora and fauna. The Big 5 - Cape Buffalo, Elephant, Rhinoceros, Lion, Leopard are the most sought after creatures for spotting. The national park has several organized safari tours and also permit the visitors for self-drive safaris. (Please Note: Follow the guidelines in the self-drive safari to stay safe.) Overnight we stayed at the Lower Sabie rest camp which offers a centralized kitchen to cook food and also has a barbecue station.

Photo of Backpacking in South Africa : Garden Route, Kruger Park, Cape Town & Johannesburg by Gautam S

After spending 2 days in the Kruger, we drove the 350kms to Johannesburg. South Africa has really amazing highways with speed limit ranging between 100-120kmph. Hence the long drives do not feel very tiring. In Johannesburg we visited the Lions park, Montecasino and a few good cafes and marketplaces before taking our flight back to Mumbai.

Photo of Backpacking in South Africa : Garden Route, Kruger Park, Cape Town & Johannesburg by Gautam S

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