Up close and personal with the wildlife in South Africa
When you think of South Africa, what places immediately spring to mind?For me it is Johannesburg, seeing the 'Big Five' at Kruger National Park, driving the 'Garden Route', Table Mountain in Cape Town and the famous 'Blue Train' to Pretoria.
I was lucky enough to see and do ALL these things, and more...
It is about five hours drive from Johannesburg to Kruger National Park, with plenty of scenic stops along the way including: a visit to the three Rondavels, the wonderview (near God's Window), Bourkes Luck Potholes, and Blythe Canyon (4th largest in the world).
Kruger Park Safaris are AWESOME and by far the BEST way to explore the park. Your guide points out everything to you - both near and far - to make sure you don't miss anything. We were thrilled to be able to see the 'Big Five' (Buffalo, Elephant, Lion, Leopard and Rhino) before lunch on the first day; as well as plenty of Giraffes, Zebra, Hippos, Crocodiles and Antelope everywhere.
Gloves, beanies, blankets and sunnies are essential though, as it can be very cold on safari. We stayed at the Malelane Sun which borders the national park and has a viewing platform from which you can watch the various wildlife during the magnificent african sunrise and sunsets. For me, the highlight was experiencing an elephant up close.
We popped over the border in to Swaziland and visited the Ngwenya Glass Factory, Ezulwini Markets and a Swazi candle factory. Zululand was our first cultural stop where we enjoyed a typical Zulu village in operation.
Travelling the Garden Route was beautifully scenic with gorgeous proteas and an abundance of colourful wildflowers. Stopping at Knysna for a couple of nights, gave us the opportunity to explore the river and local native reserve.
The Morgenhof Estate was a great place for wine tasting and a chance to unwind from all our wildlife adventures. This winery has an octagon cellar - one of only four in the world.
The sight of Table Mountain as you approach Cape Town is truly breathtaking when you see it.
Unfortunately, for the three days we were there it was covered with a table cloth (cloud); however, we did manage to make our way to the very top and catch a glimpse of the views. In Cape Town we stolled through the District Six Museum and African Markets. We also took a day trip out to the Cape Peninsular to the nature reserve on the Cape of Good Hope - the southern most point in Africa. Here I enjoyed seeing the Ostriches and Baboons. The whales swimming in Kalk Bay, and the hundreds of african penguins on Boulder Beach were a special treat.
My whole trip through South Africa was exciting, vibrant and truly memorable, and ended with one of the best experiences...
The Blue Train. This 5-star train runs between Cape Town and Pretoria and truly is a once in a lifetime experience.