Highlights from 2 Weeks in South Africa

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For the past five weeks, I've been traveling around Southern Africa. I climbed sand dunes in Namibia, saw the Big 5 in Kruger, flew high over Victoria Falls, and traveled more than 1,000 miles overland.

And then I got home and became absolutely overwhelmed by it all. After having so many amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, I was at a loss as to where to begin writing about them all.

So, to quote one of my favorite movies of all time, “Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.”

Sunrise in Kruger National Park

My adventure in Africa began in South Africa, a country that I've been desperate to visit for years. All told, I spent two weeks in South Africa, most of the time on a Style Hi Club tour with my dad. It was a luxurious, decadent way to see South Africa – not necessarily my usual travel style, but I have to say that this is absolutely the way you should see South Africa if you can afford it.

With two weeks in the country, we saw and did a lot. But here are my top five highlights:

1. Adventure and relaxation in Gansbaai

We started out slow in the tiny coastal town of Gansbaai. This town is most famous for being close to Dyer Island, where lots of great white sharks can be found. But, thanks so some bad weather, we didn't get to go cage diving with the toothy giants until our very last morning in Gansbaai. Before that, we spent our time riding ATVs through vineyards, going to the southernmost point of Africa (Cape Agulhas), stuffing our faces with seafood, and watching some incredible sunsets.

Hermanus, South Africa
The city of Hermanus from above
At Cape Agulhas, Africa
At the southernmost point of Africa at Cape Agulhas
Seafood in South Africa
The cheapest seafood platter I've ever ordered (about $10)
Sunset in Gansbaai, South Africa
Sunset in Gansbaai

The shark diving was the highlight of this part of the trip (post coming soon!), but I also appreciated the slow pace of life in Gansbaai – it was the perfect introduction to South Africa. (Oh, and The Roundhouse was probably my favorite place I stayed in SA!)

RELATED: Should You Go Cage Diving with Great White Sharks?

Cage diving with great white sharks in Gansbaai
SHARK!!!

2. Discovering Cape Town

From Gansbaai, we moved on to Cape Town. There, we explored the city in just about every way possible: On foot, in WWII-era sidecars, and by helicopter. We wandered around the V&A Waterfront, visited the colorful Bo Kaap neighborhood, and squealed over the adorable penguins at Boulders Beach. We even took a short trip to the Cape of Good Hope.

Sidecars in Cape Town, South Africa
Sidecars in Cape Town
Cape Town from above
Helicopter ride
Bo-Kaap neighborhood in Cape Town
Bo-Kaap
Penguins at Boulders Beach
Penguins at Boulders Beach
Cape of Good Hope, South Africa
Cape of Good Hope

The weather wasn't the greatest, though, and so it wasn't until I was back in Cape Town on my own after my Style Hi Club trip that I was able to see (and visit) Table Mountain, and go to Camps Bay for sunset. I was very thankful for that one day of sun!

View from Table Mountain in Cape Town
View from Table Mountain
Sunset at Camps Bay
Sunset at Camps Bay

RELATED: 72 Hours in Cape Town

3. Sipping wine in Stellenbosch

South Africa is known for its delicious wines, with its most famous wine region being Stellenbosch. We spent an afternoon in wine country, tasting wines on a vineyard “safari” at Waterford Estate. I'm not really much of a wine drinker, but this was still a highlight for me. Waterford Estate is STUNNING, and it was a pleasure to sip wines there in the middle of the fall-colored vines.

Waterford Estate winery in Stellenbosch, South Africa

Wine tasting at Waterford Estate

Waterford Estate winery in Stellenbosch, South Africa

If you're planning your trip to South Africa and looking for accommodation in Hermanus, Stellenbosch or Cape Town, I'd recommend taking a look at AccommoDirect.com – they focus almost solely on accommodation in Southern Africa.

4. Riding the Blue Train

Thanks to a strong US dollar and a struggling South African rand, our group got to ride the famous Blue Train from Cape Town to Pretoria. This luxury train, with its polished-wood interior and fancy lounge cars, is a throwback to the heyday of train travel. I was impressed by the efficiency of the tiny rooms, the service, the food, and how lovely it was to just relax for a day and a half and watch the countryside slip by outside the window.

Blue Train in South Africa

The Blue Train
The cabin my dad and I shared
Blue Train dining car
The dining car

Food on the Blue Train

5. Going on safari in Kruger

Lastly, the absolute highlight of my time in South Africa was going on safari in Kruger National Park. We stayed at the Jock Safari Lodge, which is a private concession within Kruger that I did not ever want to leave. We saw the Big 5 on our very first game drive, and went on to see things like lions mating, baby elephants charging our truck, wild dogs facing off with hyenas, and much, much more.

Jock Safari Lodge in Kruger National Park
Our outdoor space at the Jock Safari Lodge
Mama and baby white rhino in Kruger
White rhinos

Lions in Kruger National Park

Baby elephants playing in Kruger

Leopard in Kruger National Park
Female leopard at night

If “going on safari” is not on your bucket list, add it. Right now.

RELATED: A Big 5 Safari in Kruger National Park

Weeks later, I'm still daydreaming about Jock and this experience. It was simply incredible and something I know I will never forget. I'm so glad I got to share it with my dad!

Giraffe in Kruger National Park

Wild dogs vs. hyenas in Kruger
Wild dogs vs. hyenas

Zebra in Kruger National Park

I'll be writing more about most of these experiences individually in the coming weeks, but for now, enjoy the photos!

Which part of my South Africa trip would you like to read more about?

 

2 weeks in South Africa

 

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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71 Comments on “Highlights from 2 Weeks in South Africa

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  1. Hi Amanda! I would like to know what camera and what lens did you use for the safari. We are going to Kruger in two months and I would like to be prepared to take close up like yours! Thanks!

      Hey Annie! I used my Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II camera with a 75-300 lens for all my close-up wildlife photos. I do recommend practicing a bit before you go – you’ll need to put your camera on a sport or burst mode so you can capture moving animals better! (You can read more about the photo gear I use here: https://www.dangerous-business.com/2017/02/travel-photography-gear/)

    Hi Amanda,

    Loved your blog and really helpful in term of every aspect….
    can you please provide an itinerary for Mauritius for a week like you have for Seychelles.

      Sorry, but I haven’t traveled to Mauritius yet! And I only write itineraries for places I’ve been, based on my own trips there.

    We were last september 3 weeks in South Africa and liked it a lot. Especially the safari’s and the wine tasting. Great pictures you have. They bring back a lot of memories.

      There’s so much cool stuff to do in South Africa!

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