Travelling around South Africa
Continued from Zambia
My last trip from Zambia was to go into Botswana on an excursion and head off into the Okavanga Delta.
There are many great organised tours to take you deep into the Delta or even just into Botswana. My time was limited so I took a short trip in to experience a little whilst here.
The vastness of it all is consuming and this is true wilderness country. To see so many differing animals all in the one view is spellbinding.
Herds of elephants wandering along the vast plains and seemingly stretching out for ever. Groups of impala hiding under bushes to keep out of the heat of the day and giraffe everywhere. The thing that amazed me was the differing varieties of birdlife. I had come for the big animals and had been taken aback by the whole beauty of it all.
No matter how many photos you see of this amazing place you can never get the depth perception and the enormity of it all. You have to visit.
This was one place I wished I had more time for but time beckons again and I had unfinished business left undone in South Africa before my return home.
Sad to say goodbye to my home and short term family for the last couple of weeks, my flight was booked down to Hoedspruit airport where the next leg of my journey takes me.
Hoedspruit, and Makutsi Safari Springs
Well now here is what I have been looking forward to and a week of safari as a special treat to myself and what better way to start than the private reserve of Makutsi springs.
The order of my travels have changed a little but having flexibility means I have still managed to get all my bucket list items ticked off and if anything I managed to get a few more things added along the way. Don't be scared of change.
Makutsi Safari Springs
This family run and privately owned game reserve is really an oasis in the middle of nowhere and yet only one hour away from Kruger National park. My recommendation if you have time is to try out at least one of these privately owned game reserves as well as a trip to Kruger. There are many differences that you can enjoy to complete your visit of this wonderful country.
At the springs there is a large and small swimming pool filled with soft thermal-mineral water that comes straight from the earth at 34 degrees and beautiful lush gardens all around.
My accommodation was fantastic and it takes a while getting used to peeping out of your front door before you walk out into the gardens, in case there is any lions or wildlife about. Sitting on the front porch in the morning with a cup of tea and watching the animals go by is amazing and you haven't even got out there on safari yet.
Breakfast out on the lawns adjacent to the river that runs by with wildlife a plenty wherever you look.
They have many types of safari rides around the reserve to suit everyone and at differing times of the day.
A central meeting place to gather and swap stories of the days activities and chill by the open fire pit and a massive dining hall.
This place has everything you could possibly ask for and more. The staff are so knowledgeable and I have to say as far as safaris go, this was the best stay out of my whole trip.
Again sad to leave after making so many friends, my focus was now on my last safari into Kruger National park.
Kruger National Park
You can stay within the park and there are plenty of places to choose from. Kruger is so large it is hard not to find wildlife activity. It does depend on your guide and if you choose to drive yourself you do run the risk of missing quite a lot.
Several times we run into people who seemed to be just off the pace a little and miss things that we always appeared to see. Maybe we were just in the right place at the right time.
The local rangers are all very knowledgeable and have contact with others, so they know what's happening where and when.
Being in the right place just prior to a herd of elephants coming down to wallow in the water pools around, makes all the difference to getting the perfect photo. Spotting a leopard in the tree shading from the midday sun is hard to do when you are driving yourself around.
I'm not saying don't do it yourself and if you have the time, then get out there but if you want to see the best, or are short of days to visit then I highly recommend at least one trip with the guys in the know.
My travels to South Africa are nearing the end but I still had to pop back to Cape town and my friends I had met up with in Zambia had invited me to stay with them in Durban and as this was on my list, it would be rudeofme not to take them up on their very kind offer.
A quick flight down south through to Durban and my dear friend Jhan was there to greet me at the airport. I stayed with the family for 4 days and was thoroughly spoilt.
They gave me a better insight into actually living in South Africa and I was shown all around over the course of the next few days.
Many trips here and there that I would definitely have missed by travelling alone in this region. Like our trip to the Valley of a Thousand Hills, the many coastal places that only the locals know about and just being with like minded people and all their friends.
Laying on a proper braai for my last evening. I felt like the king of the party and was made to feel most welcome by all.
I believe I did make them all a pavlova as a small thank you gesture and of course a permanent invite to stay with us whenever they get over to Australia.
Swaziland and Lesotho
Sadly my time had all but gone and will have to leave these two countries for our next visit. I would much rather spend time with new friends and learn more than rush off to another place and lose a special moment in time.
I have learnt that sometimes it is good to leave some places for another time, if your are having fun where you are.
Also not to go somewhere just for the sake of rushing around and not really enjoying your time there. Tip 0363 Don't rush it.
Cape of Good Hope
Coming back to familiar territory is comforting and hitting the ground knowing where and what you want to do is a bit like coming home.
I had the cable car to negotiate, Cape of Good Hope and a free day to chill before leaving for home.
Being glad of climbing Table Mountain on my prior visit, a trip up the cable car was definitely the easy option and I must say not to be missed. If you have the time and energy, get to the top both ways.
The views are something else and quite spectacular. Again I was most fortunate to have clear weather both visits and a little cloud cover from the city on one occasion, which was great for photos.
My last trip was down to Cape of Good Hope and again I decided to go with a tour group. I had really stepped away from my usual "go and do it on your own" philosophy on this trip and I will definitely join a few my tour groups in the future.
It does however depend on the group, trip and guide as to if you have an enjoyable trip or not and I wasn't disappointed on this little excursion. The guide was great, fun, informative and a real social butterfly. This all makes for a great day out and we all had a blast.
Tours include Cape Point, Robben Island and the Penguin Colony and you can do all or one if you like. Just the road trip is great and you must get your photo taken at the point.
Coming to Cape town and not going to the Cape of Good Hope is a bit like having fish and no chips, or strawberries without the cream.
This was a great way to finish my travels off and looking out over the ocean where the Atlantic and Indian Ocean meet and imagining how far South Antarctica is will blow your mind.
I had just a little unfinished business down in Cape Town and really wanted to spend my last 3 days back where I started, so off I went and managed to secure the same deal at my accommodation in Cape Town.