South Africa - An Adventurous Road Trip 

Tripoto
26th Jun 2018

South Africa - Adventure and Calm !

Photo of South Africa - An Adventurous Road Trip by Aditi Sanganeria
Day 1

Preparing for the Drive

The plan was simple. Pick up a car & drive around the garden route beginning from the commercial capital of SA. A safe city, quite easy to navigate, even without maps; thanks to the well placed road directions. We landed late, walked to our hotel (see, extremely safe!), Road Lodge (INR 4k/night), at a very close distance from the airport. Road Lodge was clean and a cozy place - just right for a night stay. All the car rentals are at the airport, which is why we preferred to stay next to it. So, early next morning, we walked to the airport to collect our car from one of many Car Rental offices - A Ford Eco Sport (INR 23000 for unlimited kms) which we pre-booked on avis.co.za. The car formalities need you to provide your passport and your native Driver's Licence - it is a right hand drive.

Next - time to satiate morning hunger - a petite breakfast at a fuelling station - a yummy hot-dog (quite the fast food of SA!) and we started, what today I happily say, the best 12 days of our lives.

The Garden Route Drive - 5 hours of drive to our next destination, but all on the Garden Route. Infinite stretches of green grass land, some grazing animals, large heroic mountains, some silent streams and so much peace. The Garden Route is every driving enthusiasts' delight. The road discipline is pleasantly surprising and the road quality cannot get better. Follow the speed instructions & smile- the cameras are watching you!

We stopped on the beautifully placed benches - there are some good spots (recommend you stop too). Our first pit stop - Tredici, an Italian Bakery on N2, where we order a Chicken, Mushroom & Chorizo Rissotto. The meal was enough for the two of us and yes, it was delicious. Tredici also houses some alluring home decor you can choose to binge. After a sumptuous meal, the drive from Tredici to Kynsna (our next destination) got even better - few ostriches on the road & some sheep grazing on beautiful grass. In around 2 hours, we were at the Thesen Island, Knysna.

Day 2

The life on an South African Island- Thesen Island (Kynsna)

On the banks of a canal which opens into the ocean, is a beautiful looking island with an identity of its own. We stayed in an Airbnb within the gated community - Harbour Town. Each home in the Harbour Town has a beautiful backyard which opens into a quiet canal that you can kayak or drive your motorboat in. The homes are very elegant and super-cosy, which makes this a highly-recommended place. Kynsna is known for its oysters - you must try them. Recommended Restaurants - Ile-De-Pain or Tapas (Breakfast - try the scrambled eggs and their coffee) and Sirocco on the waterfront (Dinner - Try the Oysters).

Day 3

The African Wilderness - Addo Elephant National Park, situated close to Port Elizabeth is a 3 hour drive from Knysna. Home to Africa's Big 5, the park allows you to navigate through the reserve on your own. A minute of drive, just when we started feeling the jungle silence, a Kudu crossed the road chased by a Hyena! In the next 90 mins drive to the rest camp, we spotted giant african Elephants to Zebras, Lions and a distant Leopard. We stayed at the Forest Chalets of the rest camp - beautifully located in the midst of the nature reserve. The place was bustling with chirps & whistles of nocturnal beings. Very early next morning, the assisted jungle-safari takes you in the deeper, denser & non-accessible areas to spot wildlife, which is apparently very active at sun-rise. After 2 fulfilling hours of animal spotting, we gorged on breakfast at Cattle Baron, the rest camp restaurant, which has some extravagant food and should not be missed.

Day 4

The Bundgy Jump (INR 5000 per person) - From the wilderness to the highest adrenaline rush - THE BLOUKRANS BUNDGY should not & CANNOT be missed.

Detailed review : At the first look, its a massive structure that scares you to levels that no preparedness can help calm. 216m above sea level, you are going to jump.

I was petrified and so full of anxiety that I had not slept the night before.

Anyway, I had promised myself to write a review that helps readers take this plunge if I survive mine.

This plunge - and mark my words - WILL BE THE MOST LEGENDARY EXPERIENCE OF YOUR LIFE.

So, you meet your guide. These guides know all languages. He said Ganpati Bappa Morya (a holy Indian God Call) to me and I was pleasantly surprised! The guides are extremely professional and make you feel safe like you're just jumping off your bed.

Once the harness is tied, they walk you through a bridge that connects you to the jump point (which is exact centre of bloukrans bridge). I would suggest you don't look down - anything that adds to your fear right now is not worth it.

5 mins of walking gets you to the arcade area - the jump point, which is so full of energy - there is music, dancing and absolutely lovely people.

You are given safety instructions and assigned your jump numbers.

The adrenaline rush (as well as anxiety) now hits the top gear - your ankles are tied, your given a chest harness too.

You put your hands around your guide's shoulders as you jump-trot to the final point.

DO NOT LOOK DOWN, DO NOT THINK.

Now that you are there, its best to see what lies below you :)

I asked the guide - I'll be okay? He said : Jump, leave the rest to me.

AND I JUMPED!

Calm, beautiful and so silent - you start believing in life.

Look down, the water is slowly flowing.

Look around, the green lands clap at your bravery.

And there comes your guide, you let him latch you on to his rope and he takes you back up.

Smile, you are getting clicked. Smile right, it's going to be your craziest picture.

And you come back up with the best feeling of accomplishment.

One small thing that I wish I knew before I jumped - you might feel the harness is coming off your ankles, but dont worry, it will never come off. And there's always another harness at your chest.

You are going to be fine, it's all going to be worth it!

GO FOR IT! 3... 2... 1... BUNGEEEEEEE!!!

Tenikwa Wildlife Ranch : This noble place is a home to animals who aren't able to survive in the wild - due to an injury,disease or some other health issues. These animals are rehabilitated to the ranch which is beautifully maintained. Extremely clean and very close to their natural habitat, the ranch provides a secure environment to these animals. They are treated here and only when they are fit to survive the Wild, are they sent back. The tour guides educate you on every animal and the stories are very interesting to hear. Watch the animal whisperers speak to their animals and feed them - you will be surprised at how these dangerous animals don't only follow instructions but also show much fondness for their keepers.

Just after the Ranch, half an hour drive gets you to the Scenic Storms River and its beautiful trail. We stayed at the rest camp which faced the absolutely blue river. The only sound you hear is the waves, it is absolutely serene. Make sure you get up in the morning to watch the sunrise. An otter trail for around 1.5 hours takes you through the suspension bridge which is worth the walk. They also provide many water adventure sports - Kayaking, Snorkelling et al which should not be given a miss. Make sure to eat the breakfast at the rest camp restaurant, the desserts are to die for.

Day 5

A place for celebration - We came back to Thesen Island to celebrate our anniversary. Dinner at Sirocco along with the Motor Boat experience provided by our AirBnB Hosts - Sustra & Johan. Check if you can get yourself a Motorboat ride towards the ocean.

Day 6

Some more adventure - Shark Cage Diving was the next experience. Would suggest to do the bookings a day in advance (2000 ZAR pp). The weather sometimes does not allow the adventure. The boat takes you right in the middle of the ocean - suggest you don't eat before the ride, as it could get a little nauseous. The dive is scary but the sight of a large white shark right outside your cage, IS TOTALLY WORTH IT! You will freeze as you see the massive fish approach you and then open its mouth right in front of you. The life under water is prettier than on top of it. Go. Watch. You will thank me!

Day 7

Tipsy Africa - Post the shark adventure, we headed straight to the vineyards. The green lands are home to best wine in the word. Far from the madding crowd, we visited the Saronsberg Vineyards. They take you through an entire wine making tour and the tasting session is quite an activity. If you are driving yourself, make sure you have a driver hired for this day. The massive highways are not something you would want to risk drinking with.

Day 8

The City Life (day 8, 9 & 10)

Post all the adventures, we came to city life of Cape Town. This place is a shopper's and foodie's delight. We lived very close to the Table Mountain and woke up to see the sunrise on the table top right from our window.

Places to Shop - Flea Market (Good Souveniers) , MRP/Mr Price (Retail Chain), Access Point Outlet (Mall). Make sure you bargain at the Flea Market.

Do make time to visit the V&A Waterfront. It has some delicious local food. Vagabond Kitchens is a highly recommended place. Jason Bakery for breakfast is a must visit too.

We trekked up the table mountain, trekked up the cape of good hope mountain and walked through the streets of the town.

The last night came to casino - GrandWest. A massive casino, may be some bit of money recovery! :)

Other places visited : Boulders Beach (this is where you find the super cute penguins), Simon's Town (dine by the beach), Cango Wildlife Ranch, Ceres (lucky enough sometimes to find snow here)

Learning's from the trip :

1. Try and include the Kruger National Park (will increase your stay time & inflate your budget too, but how many times will you visit SA)

2. You might need more than 3 days in Cape Town.

3. The sky diving at Mossel Bay could complete the adventure circle.

4. Driving late at night on the highways should be avoided because the visibility isn't that great.

Must Try Food :

1.Pizzas are to die for.

2. The springbok meat could taste better than any meat you have tried so far.

3. The quiches and tarts along with the petrol station hot-dogs.

4. Ask for local food wherever you go.

My Small Summary after the LONG ESSAY: South Africa is beyond beautiful. Plan your trip such that there is an adventure everyday. Book AirBnbs, they are so much more pretty. This place will own a large part of your heart if you like adventure, animals and nature. Plan, it is going to be the best vacation of your life!

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