Arriving in South Africa for the first time was somewhat different from our expectations because we had conjured this “Africa” movie image in our heads that placed wildlife running freely everywhere. Having a huge giggle to ourselves, we felt a bit silly as we arrived in this huge city called Johannesburg.
We collected our car and headed out into the Metropolitan jungle of Johannesburg, with highways and byways that connected to many routes. But our Google Map navigator took us exactly where we needed to be and just like that our road trip had begun!
We spent one night in Johannesburg, quickly acclimatized and had our introduction into the country with a real spoil at Chief’s Boma Restaurant – a traditional dinner with live entertainment. This really whet our appetites for more!
The next day we meandered along the Panoramic Route from Johannesburg to Kruger National Park. We took in some amazing sights and even did the gorge lift where the views were breathtaking. We spent the night in White River because we didn’t want to rush the trip and made sure we left no stone undiscovered along the way.
After breakfast the next day, we did a lovely drive through little towns in Mpumalanga as we made our way to a private game lodge in Kruger National Park, where we had booked to stay for three nights of safari experiences. What was so great about going with this option is that all our meals and 2 open-vehicle game drives were included - with a professional ranger guide. Oh man, we didn’t want to leave after being treated like royalty and having some spectacular game viewing!
Before you could blink, we were on the road again making our way through to Swaziland/Eswatini (a new stamp in our passport). We visited the glass factory, the candle factory and watched some traditional Swazi dancing. Not wanting to rush this experience, we stayed the night in this little country before making our way to South Africa’s province of KwaZulu-Natal. This time we switched it up and headed to the beach for two nights! We drove to a little town, parked our car, were collected by the lodge, and headed to a special place where we did the most amazing snorkeling experience in the world. We swam in open waters with wild dolphins and swam above sharks as well. It was the best experience ever!
By this time, we had fallen in love with South Africa. It was time to be on the road again. This time, we wanted to go back to the bush for the last touch with Africa’s Big Five. We made our way down towards Hluhluwe for a 2-night safari adventure in Zululand. Not only learning about the animals, but our guide also kept us enthralled with stories of his Zulu culture. We left the lodge feeling like family.
En route to King Shaka International Airport, we stopped at St Lucia for a two-hour boat cruise on the Isimangaliso Wetlands Park Estuary to learn about this World Heritage Site. We returned the car and were on a two-hour flight from Durban to Cape Town.
Cape Town, fondly known as South Africa’s Mother City, was like being in a different country altogether. We were surrounded by breathtaking mountains and buildings that were steeped in history. We spent two days driving the city, visiting Table Mountain and of course the famous Peninsular, making sure we didn’t miss anything. We soon found ourselves driving in the Winelands, and we spent our last three nights exploring the Western Cape, driving through jaw-dropping passes and experiencing the most breathtaking views. We stayed in Wellington, Barrydale and ended in Hermanus, known as the land-based whale capital of the world.
This trip was certainly THE best experience of our lifetime!
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