Amy and I just returned from a three week trip to South Africa over the holidays. It was an amazing experience. The planning was a bit difficult because we didn’t really know where to start and I was pretty burnt out from planning my last two motorcycle trips (EMT 2018 and Out West on Two Wheels). But, we struggled through the research and ended up putting together an amazing adventure. One of the great things about this trip was we stayed 4 or 5 days at most of the places we visited which made the trip very relaxing and relatively stress free. We still rented a car for a 600-mile road trip over 3 days, which is always stressful for me, but it was much shorter than the Epic 2-week 2,000 mile (3.200 km) Chile Road Trip of 2016.
For this trip, I could go into detail of what we did each day, but instead I’ll just post some free-flowing thoughts:
The food and wine in South Africa were amazing. In Cape Town, on safari in the bush or in the culinary and wine capital Franschhoek, every meal was thoughtfully and deliciously prepared. The landscape is varied and vast with rugged intriguing mountains never far away. The people are friendly with generous smiles and a knowing pride of their country. Capetown’s setting is spectacular with the 3,500 foot (1.067 meter) Table Mountain sentinel on one side and the Atlantic Ocean seeming to wrap it’s arms around all others.
Seeing wild animals while on safari was definitely the highlight. We spent 5 hours each morning and 4 hours each night (over 50 hours total) cruising around and watching these magnificent animals go about their days in their natural environment. Giraffes were my favorite! To see them free to graze the tree tops and go wherever they wanted was inspiring. Amy and I were both amazed at how easily a 5 ton elephant could disappear behind a bush. We also lamented that ours may be the last generation to see rhinoceros in the wild. We inadvertently arrived just after the first rains of the season. So what was dead-looking brown brush only days earlier had begun to come back to life. We accidentally visited during the birthing season and were delighted by baby warthogs (the absolute cutest), baby impalas (literally hundreds of them), baby elephants (I can’t watch them without smiling ear-to-ear and laughing out loud), baby zebra, baby giraffe, baby hyena, and more I’m sure I’m forgetting. It was pure dumb luck, but I’ll take it. I can’t imagine how it could have been better.
A 600-mile road trip from Kruger National Park south through the Kingdom of Swaziland down to the coast along the Indian Ocean gave a good feel for the countryside. Driving on the left side of the road, sitting on the right-side of the car and shifting the manual transmission with my left hand became second nature. Oddly the most difficult adjustment was getting used to the windshield wipers being where the turn signal is for us. I turned on the wipers at every intersection for days. I felt like I mastered the South African skill of turning a 2-lane highway, with extra wide shoulders into a three-lane highway with the middle lane shared by both directions. Note: Swaziland loves speed bumps and they are formidable. The warning signs around St. Lucia warned of hippos, alligators, sharks, hyenas, lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and Cape buffalo. It seemed like humans were the ones fenced in!
Franschhoek (Afrikaans for French Corner) set in a valley surrounded by granite domes and blanketed with vineyards, was someplace I think I could live. It probably helped that our accommodation was a huge chateau we had all to ourselves for three days with stunning views over a private lake, with a private swimming pool, and a motorized remote control gate. I guess I’m easily impressed with such things. I’m sure the fact that this was the culinary and wine epicenter of South Africa might have held some sway in my opinion as well.
That’s all the thoughts off the tops of my head. Take a look at the video and pictures and use the form below for comments or questions. I would love to hear from you. Thanks for stopping by. – Mike