This past summer, Holden and I ventured to South Africa for rock climbing, hiking, safari, and wildlife sightings. Our original plan was focused around climbing in Rocklands for the majority of the month and what our flights were based around. After looking at flights and going back and forth we finally took the jump when we stumbled across $1,100 round trip tickets!! At that price, we knew it was meant to be and booked tickets that night. After booking flights, we immediately started researching as many places and experiences for us to fit into the time we had while still leaving room for things to change and adapt as we experienced South Africa together. The more we researched the more we realized we would miss so much if we climbed the entire month. So we switched our plans to fit 10 days of climbing and adventuring around those 10 days.
I cannot even begin to explain everything we experienced while out in South Africa as we put so many experiences into what felt like such a short time. I have an entire journal of notes from our trip and will be sharing them over a few blog posts. To start it off, I created a list of a few of our top experiences for the trip!!
This is THE thing to do in South Africa (well all of Africa). We spent seven days in and around Kruger park and another day and a half at Inverdoorn Nature Reserve. The safari experience is different from any other experience I have ever had. To maximize our time, we spent most, if not all, of the sunlight hours in our car driving around or in a safari truck. We also planned each of our camps to be a certain distance and direction to allow us to drive through a certain part of the park without having to backtrack much if at all.
Typical Safari Day
5:30 AM: Wake-up
5:55 AM: Be in our car/lined up to get out the gate
6:00 AM: Gate open
6:00 AM – 10:00 AM: Game Drive (self-guided or tour)
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM: Rest and relax – Eat lunch, get closer to the next camp
2:00 PM – 5:30 PM: Game Drive (self-guided or tour)
5:30 PM: Gate Close
5:30 PM – Bed: Eat/relax at camp
After our first experience at Inverdoorn, I decided to track the wildlife that we were seeing. Below is my list of all of the animals we identified throughout our time in Kruger Park. (I did not include birds as there are SO MANY and hard to identify accurately.)
Lion, Elephant, Leopard, White Rhino, Buffalo, Zebra, Giraffe, Warthog, Crocodile, Baboon, Steenbok, Ostrich, Cheetah, Hyena, Honey Badger, Hippopotamus, Spotted Genet, Nyala, Africa Civet, Blue Wildebeest, Ostrich, Kudu, Jackal, Mongoose, Waterbuck
Hiking in Nature Reserves/Parks
There is an endless amount of nature around the town of Cape Town. You can easily find spots to hike near the ocean, mountains, or anywhere in between. One of the most magnificent things about South Africa in our opinion is the mountains that seem to shoot out of nowhere. You can be driving along the ocean and BOOM! There is a giant mountain a few hundred feet to the other side of you. It is something you do not see everywhere in the world.
Kogelberg and Jonkershoek
Wineries in Stellenbosch
Who doesn’t want fresh wine from one of the most well known mecca of wine?!?! We don’t usually drink but couldn’t say no to some of the best wine in the world. Visiting South Africa in their fall (March – May) or summer (November – January) is a MUST. We were there in their winter and were so bummed that all of the wineries were not full of life. After visiting a few different cities, Stellenbosch was one that really stuck with us. Not only were there a vast amount of wineries in and around the town, we really loved the quaintness vibe it had going. Walking around the streets there were so many cute little restaurants and shops and it felt like you were in a little English town in the middle of South Africa. It was closed when we were there but you can even take a train to each of the different wineries and just stop for tastings along the way!
Quiet Getaways – All of the little seaside towns east of Cape Town (Betty’s Bay)
The Garden Route is another must see on the trip. We were unable to fit in the entire route due to timing but the little bits we saw were incredible. We stopped along the way to see seaside cliffs, lighthouses, beaches, and even penguins!! There were also endless amounts of little restaurants serving fresh seafood. If you are looking to get away from the business of Cape Town, we definitely suggest heading up the Garden Route and stopping in a few of the towns along the way!
Cape of Good Hope (Hiking/Drive)
This is the most Southern tip of South Africa and it is GORGEOUS. Not only is there MORE hiking there but you can drive along seaside cliffs with multiple stops to get out and enjoy the area. You might even be surprised with a visit from an ostrich, zebra, or baboon. The nature out there is so vast and easily accessible. If you are a more adventurous explorer, there are backpacking opportunities to different huts along the ocean. So many amazing opportunities within the area.
Check out my future posts for more detailed information on the different locations that we visited.
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