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Madikwe, South Africa

Madikwe, South Africa

Day 296 - 299

April 102014

The 5th largest (and lesser known) game reserve, Madikwe is located in a malaria free zone near the boarder of Botswana. The park is home to lots of birds and animals, including the “big five.” We found it to be a good alternative to some of the larger, more expensive reserves. Plus it is in a malaria free zone.

We enjoyed our four night stay at The Bush House, which is located on the western side of the park. The hospitality was incredible, the food was terrific, and the game drives were enjoyable. We found ourselves in awe at the animals that visited the lodge’s watering hole throughout the day. We highly recommend The Bush House and hope to return again one day.

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Pretoria, South Africa

Pretoria, South Africa

Day 293 - 295

April 72014

Details coming soon…

 

 

Accommodation Options

Sheraton Pretoria

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Swellendam, South Africa

Swellendam, South Africa

Day 290 - 291

April 42014

Things To Do & See

Day Trips

Cape L’Agulhas – Agulhas National Park
De Hoop

Restaurant Recommendations

1) The Powell House

One of my favorite restaurants in South Africa! My meal (risotto-ratatouille au gratin)and our dessert was SO delicious. We highly recommend the “Eton Mess” for dessert!

Accommodation Options

De Oude Pastorie Guesthouse

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Mossel Bay, South Africa

Mossel Bay, South Africa

Day 287 - 289

April 12014

Things To See & Do

1) Shark Cage Diving – White Shark Africa

2) Sand Boarding – Billeon

3) St Blaize Hiking Trail

4) Boot Tree Mailbox

Restaurant Recommendations

1) Gannet Cafe

2) Delfinos

Accommodation Options

Bar-T-Nique Guest House

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Storms River, South Africa
March 302014

Things To Do & See

1) Tsitsikamma National Park

Located on the coast, Storms River mouth is located inside the national park.

A) Waterfall Hike
B) Bridge Hike & Lookout Point
C) Otter Trail

A five day hike along the coastline that starts from Storms River mouth inside the national park. The huts for the multi-day hike must be booked far in advance (upwards of a year).

2) Bloukrans Bungy Jump

Located within ten minutes of Storms River is the world’s highest bridge bungy jump, which is 216 meters above the Bloukrans River. If you do not want to jump, you can walk the highest single span concrete arch bridge in the world.

We had hoped to jump, unfortunately due to rainy weather we decided not to try. Maybe next time?!

3) Blackwater Tubing – Stormsriver

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We thoroughly enjoyed our overnight stay in Addo Elephant National Park. Our favorite part was the opportunity to self-drive through the park and observe the wildlife.

Not only did we see Elephants, but we enjoyed our chance encounters with some of the other wildlife in the park including: flightless dung beetles, black-headed heron, blue crane, rock monitor lizard, leopard tortoise, red-billed oxpeckers, secretary bird, ostriches, black-backed jackals, yellow mongooses, a scrub hare, warthogs, kudus, Burchells zebras, and even a water buffalo. Out of our sightings, one of our favorites was our spotting of a lioness and a spotted hyena interacting during our early morning drive.

We would definitely recommend an overnight stay in the park’s accommodations. This will allow you access to the game park earlier in the morning, to catch the sunrise and potentially some of the nocturnal animals, such as lions. It also provides a nice resting place between drives!

Things To Do & See

1) Self-Drive Game Park

Depending upon the animals that you are keen to view, take a couple of drives at varied times throughout the day. Be sure to take it slow and appreciate the little things. We were lucky to have chance encounters to view a lion and hyena on our morning drive, watch an elephant chase off some zebra in our mid-day drive, and watch a black-headed heron hunt its lunch.

2) Game Drive – Park Organized

The National Park offers organized game drives six times a day. We took the opportunity to do a sundowner drive on our arrival. If we were to ever return, we would bypass the organized drives and opt to self-drive instead.

Restaurant Recommendations

Most of the accommodations within the park are self-catering and offer a braai (South African BBQ). Bring food along, if you plan to cook, as the food options are limited. We enjoyed two reasonably priced meals at the Addo Main Rest Camp Restaurant.

Accommodation Options

All though there are many lodges and guesthouses nearby Addo, we elected to stay in one of the parks accommodation offerings, the forest cabin lodges. We enjoyed the opportunity to enter the park early to start our morning self game drive (at 6am). It was also nice to have a resting place close, in order to take a break (or clean-up) between drives.

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The most well known game reserve is South Africa is Kruger National Park. However, we learned from some locals that there are many other game parks in the country that provide you with the opportunity to view the “big 5” animals, in a malaria free area, at a more favorable price.

At the last minute we decided to add a quick overnight stay at the Amakhala Game Reserve during our visit to the Eastern Cape. Although still expensive, we found an option that was a bit lower in price and would still allow us to experience the animals on a game drive in two different private game reserves.

Accommodation Options

Quatermains Tented Camp

We elected to stay at Quatermain Camp, a luxury tented camp located near Amakhala and Shamwari Game Reserves. The large tent had running water in the outdoor bathroom, but no electricity. We enjoyed the introduction to game drives, good meals, the campfire, and some good company during our one night stay. We were lucky enough to experience a game drive in each game reserve and saw lots of animals including: elephants, lions, cheetahs, giraffes, white rhinos, and kudu. We even had a close encounter with an elephant!

It was a great introduction to safaris and one of our favorite experiences during our stay in South Africa.

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Knysna, South Africa

Knysna, South Africa

Day 281 - 282

March 262014

Knysna is a popular stop along the Garden Route due to its size and proximity to popular attractions. The city can be used as a base to explore some of the nearby towns and popular tourist activities.

Approximate travel times to nearby cities:
Plettenberg Bay: 30 minutes
Storms River: 90 minutes
Mossel Bay: 90 minutes
Oudtshoorn: 90 minutes
George / Wilderness: 30-45 minutes

Things To See & Do

1) Sunset Cruise

We would definitely recommend a cruise of the lagoon to the Knysna Heads, as it is the best way to view the city, enjoy the water and learn a bit about the history of this port town. The Knysna Head are among the most dangerous in the world, due to the shallow waters, reefs, and unpredictable ocean swells. We enjoyed spending a couple of hours on the lagoon in the late afternoon. Unfortunately, the sunset was less than spectacular, but the company was terrific.

2) Township Tour

Rated as the top activity in Knysna, the tour of the local township is led by an friendly and outgoing resident of the community. The tour through the township made stops at a local store, pre-school, hair dresser, and then ended at our guides home for tea, singing, and a lesson on the local drums. The experience left me with mixed feelings — I am highly unlike to take another township tour in the future.

3) Robberg Nature Reserve

Located just south of the town of Plettenberg Bay (aka: Pletts). There are three hiking trails (short, medium, and long) within the reserve that are well worth the trip. We undertook the long hike, which makes a full circle around the Park and was absolutely stunning. The hike took about 4 hours to complete and was one of Kevin’s favorite hikes we have completed, to date.

The Robberg Nature Reserve is about a 40 minute drive from Knysna.

Restaurant Recommendations

1) East Heads Cafe

This open air cafe is located at the end of the road to the Knysna East Heads. It has great views over the lagoon and to the heads and the food was good too.

2) Sorricos

There are a number of restaurants on Thesen Island by the marina, among them is Sorricos. This restaurant has a large menu varying from sushi and seafood to pizza and pasta. We found that Wednesday night is 1/2 price pizza night, which was a real bargain.

Accommodation Options

Knysna Stays

We stayed near town in a self catering apartment at a local guesthouse. The apartment was modern, clean, and had the basic amenities (including a washing machine!). I thought we would have views of the water from our patio, but unfortunately, there were no views.

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Oudtshoorn, South Africa

Oudtshoorn, South Africa

Day 279 - 280

March 242014

Oudtshoorn is home to the world’s largest population of Ostriches! Seeing (and eating) an Ostrich is a must when passing through town. In addition to everything Ostrich, there are a number of other things to see and do while in the area.

Things To See & Do

1) Congo Caves

The caves are millions of years old, but were first discovered in 1780 by some Dutch. A visit to the caves must be done through one of the two tour options (Heritage and Adventure Tour) that operate daily. We elected to take hour long Heritage Tour and enjoyed the leisurely stroll through the caverns and learning more about the history of this natural phenomenon. Reservations are required (email: reservations@cangocaves.co.za)

2) Cango Ostrich Farm

A trip to Oudtshoorn would not be complete with out a visit to one of the many ostrich farms. (Chose one of the show farms: Cango, Safari or Highgate.) If you choose you can feed or even ride one of these unique birds, as a part of your tour.

3) Swartbergpas

This pass which links Oudtshoorn and Price Albert provides some of the most spectacular scenery around. Allow ample time and be prepared for a slow going drive over the unpaved road. Return via the paved road, which is longer in distance but shorter in time. (It too is a very scenic and beautiful drive.) Watch the weather and plan your trip accordingly.

4) Karusa Winery & Brewery

The establishment is a winery and one of the few craft breweries that we have encountered in South Africa to date. In addition to wine tasting (no beer tasting) you can enjoy a light lunch. Our favorite wines were the Shiraz/Cab, Grenache Noir/Shiraz/Mourveder, and their 5th Element Syrah/Viognier. Kevin was also a fan of their Zwartberger (amber ale) beer.

5) Cango Wildlife Ranch

Interested in Croc Cage Diving? Then this is for you. The Wildlife Ranch is also home to cheetahs, lions, leopards, and white bengal tigers.

6) Rust & Vrede Waterfall

A waterfall that is located about 11km off the R328 not far from the Cango Caves. We attempted to visit the waterfall on a rainy day and made it all the way to the entrance only to find that it was closed, due to the rain!

7) Wilgewandel Holiday Farm

We did not choose to visit the holiday park, however the key draw is to ride a camel. We drove by and snapped a few pictures of the camels from the road.

8) CP Nel Museum

Located in town, this museum is dedicated to providing history of the Ostrich industry. (We did not visit during our stay.)

9) Meerkat Adventures

Rise early (meets before 6am) and sit in a field waiting for the meerkats to make their appearance and move through their morning rituals. Note: Weather matters. Meerkats do not make an appearance in rainy weather. Due to the weather, the expense, and our time limitations, we did not elect to take this tour.

Restaurant Recommendations

1) Nostalgie

The restaurant specializes in Karoo cuisine. We would highly recommend based our fantastic dinner. We followed a local’s recommendation to eat either lamb or ostrich while in Karoo. We ordered the lamb stew, an ostrich burger, and a bottle of the Fairview (La Capra) Pinotage. We throughly enjoyed all three. The food was so good that we even considered eating there two nights in a row.

2) Karusa Winery

The Karusa Winery & Brewery serves cheese platters, meat platters, and light lunches. The food was good for lunch and we enjoyed sipping a glass of wine / beer by the fireplace on a rainy day.

3) Bello Cibo

The food was average and the atmosphere was just okay. Personally, we would probably not visit again and would try one of the other recommendations we received instead.

Other recommended options, that we did not visit include: Jemimas, The Colony @ The Queens Hotel, Su Casa, and Buffelsdrift Game Lodge.

Accommodation Options

Karoo Sun Guesthouse

We enjoyed our two night stay at this modern B&B. Our hosts were friendly, rooms are spacious, modern, and clean. Although we never used it, the honesty bar and common ares (including pool and grassy yard) were an added bonus.

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Montagu, South Africa
March 232014

This quaint town is known for their hot springs. Located a couple of hours drive from Cape Town near the start of Route 62. We used this as our first stop on our road-trip through the Western Cape. We arrived early evening, in order to catch a beautiful sunset. Unfortunately, we did not have ample time to scope out the area’s activities.

Things To Do & See

1) Hot Springs

Located at the Montagu Springs Resort. As a guest of the hotel you can use the hot springs, or elect to go as a day visitor. We can not vouch for this first hand as we elected to forego the obligatory visit to the hot springs during our quick stop in town.

2) Hike

There are a handful of hikes in the area. We were made aware of a handful of hikes that started from Old Mill. Visit the tourist office for maps and additional information.

3) Bird Watching

On the corner of Barry and Bath Street (not far from the information center) there are a set of trees that are home to hundreds of birds. Best to view in the last couple hours of daylight.

4) Cogman’s Kloof Gorge

It was recommended to approach town from the west/south from Ashton. Route 62 will winds through a scenic area and takes you through the center of a rock before landing you in town.

Restaurant Recommendations

1) Four Oaks

Based on a recommendation from our B&B, we ate dinner at Four Oaks. The food was fantastic. We would definitely recommend it for this alone. The atmosphere was a little odd and the owner/waiter had a bit of an air to him. However, the food made it worth the visit.

2) Ye Olde Tavern

A cute little tavern and restaurant located on Church street (directly across from the Church). We enjoyed a pre-dinner drink here, but must admit that the dinner selections looked appetizing.

Accommodation Options

7 Church Street

We stayed in a nice B&B in the center of town. The rooms were spacious and clean. The wifi was good and the breakfast was delicious.

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Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa

Day 264 - 277

March 92014

We are busy exploring the beautiful and diverse city of Cape Town. Additional details coming soon…

Things To Do & See

1) Table Mountain

Hike or ride the cable car to the top of the mountain that provides the picture-perfect backdrop to this harbor city. Be sure to check the website for weather conditions and to confirm if the cable car is running, as weather conditions at/on the mountain can vary greatly from the city.

2) Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Situated at the base of Table Mountain, these beautiful gardens were established in 1913 and are one of the best we have encountered in our travels. Enjoy wandering around the gardens, admiring the scenary on one of the many shaded benches, or pack a picnic to enjoy on one of the well manicured lawns. It is well worth the nominal entry fee to enjoy a few hours of peace in these lovely gardens.

3) Boulders Beach

Located about 45 minutes outside of Cape Town, near Simon’s Town, this boulder lined beach is home to one of the only land based colonies of African penguins. For a small fee you can walk on the beach and come within feet of the penguins. A truly unique experience. It is also conveniently located on the way to Cape Point.  There are two entrances to the National Park, the first off of Miller Street and the second is a bit further south off of Bellevue. Access directly to the beach to walk among the Penguins is from Bellevue (parking lot at end of road). Be sure to walk all the way along the beach (ducking under and navigating over a few rocks) to have the most up-close experience. Swimming is permitted, so feel free to pack your towel, swimsuit, sunblock and snacks to make a day of it. To view a significant number of penguins from the boardwalk, either enter from Miller street (with all the tour buses) or take the paved track from the Bellevue side. We arrived early (~9am) and had nearly had the beach to ourselves. However, as we were leaving there were many more people arriving.

4) Cape Point & Cape of Good Hope

Reach the southwest most point of Africa, Cape of Good Hope, on a day trip to visit Cape Point in the Table Mountain National Park. Make the climb from the visitor center to the lighthouse where the two oceans (Indian and Atlantic) meet. Additionally, we enjoyed a nice lunch with a view from the Two Oceans Restaurant.

5) Chapman’s Peak Drive

Enjoy the views along this scenic cliff-side drive that connects Noordhoek and Hout Bay. Be sure to pull off the road at the provided turn-offs to enjoy views over the Atlantic Ocean and Hout Bay. (Note: Have a little cash to pay the toll for a drive on this road.)

6) Lion’s Head Full Moon Hike

Pack your headlamps or torches (aka: flashlights) and make the hour long ascent up Lion’s Head with hundreds of others, on the eve of the full moon. Enjoy the sweeping views, beautiful sunset, cities lights, and the rising of the full moon. Be sure to arrive early, bring a sweatshirt, pack a picnic, and bring along a little patience. An unique experience with breathtaking views that we would highly recommend. If not visiting during the full moon, then make the hike during the day to enjoy the unparalleled, 360 degree views from the top.

7) Cape Winelands

Within a short drive you can find yourself spending a lovely day in Cape Winelands, sipping wine, enjoying the scenery or taking a hike. Easily done as a day trip from Cape Town, or alternatively, choose to stay a few nights in the nearby towns of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, or Paarl.

8) Two Oceans Aquarium

Located at the V&A Waterfront, this aquarium is one of the best we have visited. In addition to an interactive “Nemo” display, you can see jagged tooth sharks, giant crabs, a large moray eel, penguins, frogs, and lots of tropical fish. We agreed that it was worth an hour of our time and would definitely recommend.

9) Robben Island

Located off the shores of Cape Town, Robben Island was a prison that held many of South Africa’s political prisoners during the apartheid years, including former South African President Nelson Mandela. The island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and from the tip has great views back on Cape Town.
A tour to the island includes the return boat trip, a guided tour of the prison, and a short bus tour of the island. A former political prisoner will guide you through the prison. This was the best part of our tour. The tour was crowded, the bus tour is not overly engaging, and the boat ride (especially on the older fishing boat) was not all that enjoyable. Advance reservations are advised and can be made online.

10) Blouberg Beach

The views back on Cape Town are stunning from this long white sand beach. It is no wonder that most postcards of the city are shot from this vantage point. The beach can easily be reached by car in about 25 minutes. It is popular destination on a windy day for kite-boarders. We enjoyed snapping a few photos, walking along the beach, relaxing and soaking in the city views from this vantage point.

11) Signal Hill

Drive to the lookout on top of this small hill. The views of the city are best on the way up the hill (and not from the top). It is one of the only city vantage points that can be reached by car, with little effort or time. We witnessed people starting their paragliding adventure from the top of the hill.

12) Shark Breaching & Cage Diving Tour

13) Clinton Beach & Camps Beach

14) District 6 Museum

15) The Company Gardens

16) South African Museum & Planetarium

17) Bo-Kaap & Noon Gun

18) Hout Bay & Seal Island

19) Sea Point Promonade

20) Brunch (& Live Jazz) @ Winchester Mansions

21) Long Street

22) Sunset Cruise

23) Castle of Good Hope

Accommodation Options

Westin Cape Town

We enjoyed our five night stay at this upscale hotel prior to renting an apartment in town for the remainder of our stay. The Westin is located on Lower Long Street, next to the Convention Center and not far from the V&A Waterfront. The views out to the Waterfront from our spacious room (and the executive lounge) were spectacular.

Balmoral Lodge

We spent a single evening at this residential hotel which was located within close proximity to the Cape Town International Airport. The accommodation was basic, but satisfied our simple requirements of being affordable and close to the airport.

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Listing Results

  • Madikwe, South Africa

    Madikwe, South Africa

    2013 Around the World Trip

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  • Pretoria, South Africa

    Pretoria, South Africa

    2013 Around the World Trip

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  • Swellendam, South Africa

    Swellendam, South Africa

    2013 Around the World Trip

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  • Mossel Bay, South Africa

    Mossel Bay, South Africa

    2013 Around the World Trip

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  • Storms River, South Africa

    Storms River, South Africa

    2013 Around the World Trip

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  • Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa

    Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa

    2013 Around the World Trip

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  • Amakhala Game Reserve, South Africa

    Amakhala Game Reserve, South Africa

    2013 Around the World Trip

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  • Knysna, South Africa

    Knysna, South Africa

    2013 Around the World Trip

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  • Oudtshoorn, South Africa

    Oudtshoorn, South Africa

    2013 Around the World Trip

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  • Montagu, South Africa

    Montagu, South Africa

    2013 Around the World Trip

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  • Cape Town, South Africa

    Cape Town, South Africa

    2013 Around the World Trip

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