south africa 2016

photo taken along side of road outside Rorke's Drift

photo taken along side of road outside Rorke's Drift

 
 

it had been six years...

our last trip to south africa was 2010. we were way past due. we set out on our adventure december 12. flying to atlanta and then boarding our 16 hour flight direct to johannesburg, south africa. we landed december 13 in the evening and were greeted (by surprise) by our family. we ate + drank; we caught up and the three of us finally went horizontal and tried to get some sleep.

the next morning we boarded another plane for cape town. our itinerary only afforded us one full day in cape town. we killed time by heading to a fan favorite... fish hoek. winding around chapman's peak we approached our destination. it was incredibly windy and a bit chilly however that didn't stop our ava from taking a dip in the ocean. three minutes into the water and the sirens started. "shark spotted!"  it was great while it lasted.

we met up with some old and dear friends (the o’cuinneagain's) and ate + drank + reminisced until we couldn't keep our jet lagged eyes open. sadly we left them the next morning but were so happy we had time together. 

we drove the ocean route for two hours to stanford where we met mary (gogo). we hadn't seen her for a year, other than through video. needless to say we were all very excited to see one another.

for the next five days we explored mary's world of stanford + hermanus south africa. such beauty. the photos below capture just a portion of what our eyes saw. we took in the beach, the sights of hermanus, art galleries, good food, village markets, long walks, good food and afternoon naps. cape town, stanford and hermanus have a very european feel. If you only visit this region you will not have a true sense of africa.
 

cape town  |  stanford  |  hermanus

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december 19
we made our way back to cape town airport... this time taking to the hills to cut through and save time. upon arrival in johannesburg we picked up our rental and immediately headed east for kruger. kruger is about a six hour drive from johannesburg. our goal was to get to nelspruit for the evening. to our surprise our accommodation was beautiful. our tired bodies fell right to sleep. 

driving through south africa really gives you a sense of the country. the majority of south africa is quite poor. tin shacks and or houses cobbled together. dirt roads. every time i visit i leave with a renewed perspective and heightened thankfulness for everything i have. 

we set out early the next morning, december 20, for kruger. we got through the gate procedures and made our way slowly in the direction of skukuza campsite. things started slowly. the bush was thick and very green and i was worried we wouldn't see as many game as previous visits. by the time we reached skukuza we had seen the big 5... elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and even leopard which is very rare. it was incredible. once we settled into our hut we changed and headed to the pool. temperatures reached around 100 degrees fahrenheit - so the pool was a welcomed relief to the heat. 

the next morning we packed our bags and loaded the car and made way to our second camp... letabo. we decided to go through oliphants which would bear elephant - and it did. everywhere we looked we saw elephant. we were lucky enough to see more lion and this time it was right after a giraffe kill. when we reached letabo we ate a quick bite and scheduled a night game ride. these are quite amazing. prior to heading out we nearly changed our mind. temps all day were 100-105 degrees and we likely were dehydrated. ava was a trooper. 

after taking a morning swim at our letabo camp we set off for our third (and more rustic) camp, bateleure - the most northern camp of our three camps. i'd have to say this was the most incredible game day. we witnessed buffalo herds as well as elephant herds migrating to find water. again, temps rising we knew if we visited watering holes we would witness some incredible sites. 

early the morning of december 23 we once again packed our bags and piled into the car making our way back west to johannesburg. 

safari's are incredible. out of everything i've done, and every place i've been i can honestly say that going on a safari is top of my list. 

safari  |  kruger national park

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fugitive's drift
it was my uncle-in-law's 60th birthday in 2016 and since family from both the US and Australia descended on South Africa for the christmas holiday he convinced us all to head out to fugitive's drift for his birthday celebration to see the battlefields. on december 26th we caravanned from johannesburg south east until we reached our destination. this 4-5 hour drive took us through different parts of South Africa i had never seen before. such terrain, such beauty, such culture. 

as background, the Zulu War of 1879 is famous throughout the english-speaking world for the great battles of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift. the spectacular Fugitives’ Drift property, a 5000 acre natural heritage site, overlooks both Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift, and includes the site where Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill lost their lives attempting to save the queen’s colour of their regiment.

nestled amongst game we pulled up to the guest house and were greeted and shown to our separate quarters. our lodging was the old farmhouse - renovated to resemble old english farmhouse charm it was quiet and secluded between two walking paths back to the guest house. how incredibly tranquil. we were provided riding and walking tours of the property and learned quite a bit about the happenings that took place in the late 1800's. 

the scenery was breathtaking. we were able to walk amongst the game... zebra, giraffe, bontebok, nguni. this has sparked my desire to book walking tours in the kruger on our next visit.

december 28th we celebrated richard king on his 60th birthday... most all of the family together. it was lovely. a grand dinner that evening topped off our holiday in the most special way. 

there is no greater gift than family. i cherished every moment.

fugitive's drift  |  family

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all good things come to an end
it is always tough to say goodbye. when you live so far away from one another it makes the farewell difficult. we checked into our 17 hour flight back to the states on december 30 and arrived home on december 31st. our tired bodies longing for sleep (once we survived the jet lag). 

it was an amazing holiday. we vowed to return more often and i for one cannot wait to step foot in south africa again. something about this place calls to me. it is as if i was born to be there.