Our last week in South Africa - Safari and beach
South Africa - Safari
Our last week in South Africa flew by. Although we have been staying here for three weeks, there still seems to be so much to do and so much to see. And unfortunately there is so little time. This last week was perhaps the most special and that is all because of the unique activities we did including a safari. Find out all about it here!
Oasis of peace
Although Cape Town is a huge and sometimes overwhelming city, there are also countless places where you can relax. So we went to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. This piece of nature is located right against the wall of the mountains which makes for spectacular views. We did a tour there on a golf cart with a local guide who really knew everything about every plant and animal. A man with a passion! Apart from the beautiful expanses of nature, there are also interesting stores here where you can buy local products such as herbal teas made from the herbs of the gardens, face cream made from beeswax, paintings, handmade jewelry and much more. We didn’t leave here empty-handed… Besides nice shops, concerts are also given here every now and then. That should give a magical atmosphere in this green decor.
If there is one thing Cape Town, and in fact much of South Africa, excels at, beyond the nature parks, it is the breathtaking beaches. In Cape Town itself you will find many, including a few exclusive beaches. On these beaches you see almost no one and some beaches are even very secluded making them seem almost private property. That’s what we were looking for!
Our favorite place was Camps Bay and the adjacent beaches. Around noon it is very quiet and warm and thus the perfect place to enjoy a day of sun, sea and beach in complete silence. So we booked a hotel here for the last few days to enjoy the beach life even more.
Around Camps Bay, we also enjoyed good food with beautiful views. There are a number of good restaurants and cozy beach bars nearby. Furthermore, you will see a few local stalls selling souvenirs and you can endlessly enjoy looking at the large, expensive villas and hotels built on the hill. Are we lucky that we also stayed in such a hotel! Another great thing about this location is that you can easily take the hop-on-hop-off bus and continue on to other beaches.
South Africa - Safari
Our last week could not have ended better than with an adventurous safari. Because South Africa is not immediately the country you think of for safaris, it is not surprising that there is only a limited supply. However, about a five-hour drive from Cape Town you will find one of the most beautiful options for doing a safari: the Garden Route. That’s also where we were headed with the organization Bokbus.
Garden Route is a national park that is home to the big five but also so many other impressive animals. Elephants, giraffes, cheetahs, rhinos and even hippos, Sigrid’s favorite animal. In short, it seemed like a wonderful experience to us. We’ve been looking forward to this for so long.
Our driver Devon, a friendly young man of 26, picked us up at the airbnb at six in the morning. It was going to be a long day because the plan was to go on safari already on the first day. Turned out we were the only ones who booked this tour so we had a private driver. That’s the advantage of traveling in the low season!
Devon spoke fluent English, as well as Afrikaans. Kind of funny that he could understand us when we were talking to each other. Soon we exchanged some words in both languages that made for funny situations. For example, he says ‘ full ostrich ‘ to ostrich. Devon said we were making their language so difficult, and he is right because Afrikaans is really the simple version of Dutch. They say exactly what they see, without difficult words. But put the language skills aside for now.
On the way to Garden Route National Park we made a few stops including one on the road that went by the ocean. As we passed through here, the sun was just coming out from behind the giant mountains and it made for an insanely beautiful picture. We stopped for some pictures and drove on.
The next stop was a seaside resort, known only to locals, where you can spot wild penguins. The animals look very happy here, we think they are better off here than at Boulders Beach where many tourists pass by. This is where we went in our first week in South Africa .
Afterwards we stopped briefly in Hermanus. In this village on the coast you can spot whales when it is the season for it. Unfortunately we didn’t see any. Better luck next time. We did have a nice meal here and we could stretch our legs! It is also a nice place to enjoy the view over the ocean.
Staying in a lodge
Arriving at Garden Route Game Logde, the name of our accommodation during the safari, we already noticed that this was a magical place. In the distance we had already spotted an elephant. Wow! The lodge itself was even more beautiful than we imagined. A small but cozy wooden cabin with, as the icing on the cake, a fantastic view of the national park. Breathtaking! And the infinity pool made this place even more amazing. We already regretted that we only stayed here for two days.
Our first safari was an evening safari in which we went looking for a number of animals together with our ranger . The animals that we would not find then, we went to look for the next morning. Driving around in the jeep through the beautiful landscape was an experience in itself. And then we saw a hippo! Sigrid was deeply impressed by the gigantic beast. The safari had already been successful for her. Our ranger told an anecdote that a few years ago he had been caught by a hippo while driving the jeep through the park. Luckily he can still tell the story!
It wasn’t long before we saw even more wildlife, for example, buffalos, ostriches, antelopes but also elephants and rhinos. We got so close to these last two that we could almost pet them, but of course it’s best not to. What an impressive animal! And at least in the wild, elephants still have their tusks and rhinos their horns. Nice to see they are protected here.
At sunset, we stepped out of the jeep for a moment to enjoy a drink with the zebras running into the setting sun in the distance. An image we will never forget. When it got dark we went back to the lodge to enjoy a rich evening buffet. We ate and slept wonderfully!
Second day safari
The next day we were up early again. Our second safari started at seven in the morning, before sunrise. Again, a magical sight to see the morning sun emerge in this remote but warm landscape with the mountains in the distance.
Soon we spotted the elephants again. Afterwards the springbok followed, this is a kind of gazelle and the national animal of South Africa. We also found the “wildebeest”. Google that if you don’t know it, you’ll see it didn’t steal its name. Then came many ‘oooh-s’ and ‘aaah-s’ as we spotted a lion and two lionesses. Normally you rarely see them in action but we were lucky! They were challenging the rhinos. We sat in the front row for a captivating spectacle!
Find the giraffe
Then it was time to look for the giraffes. After all, those were the only animals that everyone wanted to see before the end of the safari. Then we would have spotted most of the animals on safari. Our ranger had to laugh, giraffes are easy to find, they can’t really hide. After searching for a while, we suddenly saw them appear in the distance. What beautiful animals! There were three of them enjoying some leaves high in a tree. This is really a typical African image like in the movies, but oh so beautiful.
Although we had seen so many impressive animals, we still felt a bit of disappointment because we had not spotted the cheetahs in the park. Very annoying that we thought that way because we had such a great time on safari and were very lucky with the other animals. But still… That cheetah would be the highlight. And luck really was on our side that day!
When we left the park we saw a cheetah sitting in the grass in the last kilometers! What an animal! This was the youngest of the cheetahs and she was really comfortable watching us. We were even able to get very close. The ranger told us that by now she has gotten used to the cars because she was born here. Her parents are shy and you rarely see them appear. We were so happy with this ‘bonus animal’ as the cheetah is sometimes called. Now it was truly a safari and experience never to be forgotten.
Back on the road
Tired but satisfied, we enjoyed the pool with beautiful views for a while and then left on our road trip back to Cape Town. Our driver took a different route and we made a stop at the southernmost point of Africa in Cape Algulhas. At this point, the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet and it gives a special feeling to know that you are standing at “the tip of the world.
The end of our trip in South Africa is now almost upon us. We will spend the last few days at the beach and, unfortunately, at the airport. Because we still have a long way to go back home, with a stopover in Turkey. We look forward to this enormously, but fortunately we can look back on a fantastic trip in South Africa. This country has really enchanted us. We understand that everyone who ever came there is full of praise. Three weeks were not even long enough to see everything this country has to offer. South Africa is without a doubt in our hearts and we already want to go back someday.