Diversity in South Africa
Early 2012 me, my spouse and some friends came together to decide our next holiday location. We didn’t want to go just “on a next trip” but we wanted to make a big journey for 3 weeks. After a few hours, we decided to go to South Africa to search for the Big Five in the jungle and in the National Kruger Park, see the city life of Cape Town, and whatever else we had the opportunity for. I’m not going to tell every step we made in this journey because that would be half a book, but what I do want to tell is what big differences this country has, in many ways. We were amazed by the diversity!
After about 2 years of planning we started packing our bags and after passing 3 customs posts in 3 airports, we finally arrived at our first overnight place nearby Johannesburg. We did not need to worry about time anymore because from here on, everything was scheduled. We had our own guide/driver who would drive with us for the next 3 weeks. Willie is born and raised in South Africa and works for more than 35 years as a guide. He knows a lot of places to go to and places to avoid.
The first 2 days we visited the rough part of the jungle and stayed at a wonderful place named Panzi Bush Camp in the Guernsey Nature Reserve. It’s a very big domain with multiple lodges. There is a lot of wildlife that walks freely in this nature reserve. We’ve enjoyed a magical sunset from the viewing deck in the park. The lodges didn't have any windows. The bathroom had an amazing view over the jungle, but as I said, no windows. Just a bamboo wall as high as my shoulders and nothing else. And yes, the wildlife did passes by close to the lodges as we have seen the footprints of the animals next to our bathroom. Cooking on a campfire, having dinner with people from Belgium, South Africa, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Ireland, Norway and after dinner telling stories by the fire including singing with one of the owners who played the guitar. It really was amazing to be there!
(Photo: Magical sunset from the viewing deck in Panzi Bush Camp)
We travelled further on in southern direction going to Hazyview, with a stop by Harry's Pancake Shop and other magnificent places on the Panorama route. The next 2 nights we stayed in the National Paul Krugerpark. Definitely not the same as the previous nature reserve. It’s one of the most famous wild parks in Africa and almost 2 million hectares big. There are 148 mammals, 500 bird species, 400 types of bushes and trees. A unique fauna and flora. The lodge in the Krugerpark was completely surrounded by high walls and barbwire. We did spot 4 of the Big Five, only one left on our bucket list (leopard). We also enjoyed a braai in the park, outside of the walls of the lodges. Imagine that you are in the middle of a wildlife park at night, with no fences, no other security except 2 armed guards. You and your friends are enjoying a lovely BBQ with a really nice glass of African wine. For me, this is an unforgettable memory as this was on my birthday!
(Photo: National Paul Krugerpark, BBQ at night)
The journey continued going true Swaziland, Durban, from too much highway back to the bumpy roads and less traffic, St. Lucia, Bloemfontein, Liedjiesbos, Graaff Reinet, Knysna etc. We needed to travel through all these cities to cross the country and arrive at our end destination: Cape Town. We could go by aeroplane but then we would miss so much from the beautiful nature and the people. The disadvantage, of course, was the time we needed to cross the country.
Next on the agenda was a cage dive with the great white shark, which was very smelly because of the fish oil they used to attract the sharks. A bungee jump from the Bloukrans Bridge (216 meters), the highest bridge for a bungee jump, visit the Table mountain and afterwards visit the Bloubergstrand from where you have an amazing view on the whole Table mountain.
(Photo's: Whale spotting / Cage Dive with the great White / my spouse bungee jump / We 2 at the Table Mountain / Table mountain, view from Blauberg beach / Township)
We also visited a township. This is absolutely a devastating view. On one side of the street you saw big villa’s and on the other side sheds built with scrap materials. Children playing in the streets where al used water and other fluids float through the street. No electricity and no fresh water except bottles. It’s unreal to see this rich and poor so close next to each other. After seeing that, you really know how rich we are!
Of course, after 3 weeks we had to return home. Saying goodbyes to our guide, exchange contacts and drop off at the airport in Cape Town. We arrived a bit early and we did not see anyone else at the check-in terminal. Because we did want to take all of our luggage with us the whole time we decided to stay and wait. After an hour we still did not see any other passengers for our flight, knowing it was a big aircraft. Being a little bit worried, we asked someone of the staff for information. Smart thinking because she told us that our flight was cancelled. We needed to look for a place to stay for the night while she was trying to contact our travel agency to check for a flight home. Luckily we could fly home the next day at noon. We couldn’t sit together in a row but we all could take the same flight. After a stop in Johannesburg, we had a quiet flight back home.
Things we have seen: Bourke's Pot Holes, Three Rondawels, God's Window, Lone Creek Falls, Jessica The Hippo, ondersteboven boom (Baobab), Bourke's Luck Potholes, Swaziland, Ngwenya Glass, Crocodile Center, Moses Mabhida Stadion, Valley of Desolation, Cango Ostrich Show Farm, Cango Caves, Township, Table Mountain.
Things we did: visit Harrie's Pancakes, first a Night drive, then the Sunrise game drive and Bush Braai (BBQ) in the Krugerpark, boat cruise St. Lucia Wetlands, Riding an ostrich, visit Cango Caves, Horseback riding, Whale spotting, Bungee jumping, cage dive with the big white shark…
I tried to keep it compact but it’s not easy to pack 3 weeks in a short blog. We have seen the jungle in a nature reserve and in a national park without big hotels and where you sleep in simple lodges. We drove thousands of kilometres to cross the country and see it changing from rough mountains to flat fields with sugar canes. We got very quiet after we visited the Township. Our hearts skipped a few beats after seeing the great white shark up and close. And the Table mountain is breathtaking.
If you have any questions about our trip, feel free to leave a note or contact me via any social media you find on my site.