48 hours in Port Elizabeth

One of the lovely things about friends and family moving away, is that it gives you the task of visiting places that you may possibly give a miss on an another day. A friend of ours recently moved to Port Elizabeth (PE) – the friendly city – and it’s the reason we drove those extra kilometres through the garden route for a brief 48 hours.

Morning view of the harbour and beach from the apartment.
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Wild Flowers and Glamping on the West Coast

The Western Cape is still experiencing a drought and while there are still water restrictions, we’re no longer obsessing about buckets and rushing outside to catch the last drop for use later. Now when it rains, we lazily peek out the window and remark, “oh lovely.” Heavy storms have been minimal even in the last rainy season. Of course, on the day I decide to spend the night in a tent, the clouds would burst and the worst storm in the are would happen. Yep, that’s me.

After the storm

Late last year, we welcomed the warm seasons with a road trip and glamping experience at the Wild Flower Camp near Hopefield. The weekend focused on birds, flowers and nature on the banks of the Berg River. I’ve spoken about my “love” for camping on the blog before and possibly ranted at other places. This time though we would be glamping and I thought, “surely I could manage that. As it turns out, I could… well, mostly.

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The Valley of Desolation

The first long distance trip that I remember was when I was eight years old and drove down to Cape Town with my family. We listened to the Quincy Jones album “back to on the block” so much that we knew all the words by the end. We stopped for loads of junk food (and peeing) and it was a long drive. My dad was so over it by the time we arrived in Cape Town, that he flew my brother down to drive us back home.

On the drive back, my mom made my brother stop off in the then Transkei (Eastern Cape) to visit her friend and a national park. It was great. That’s because mom knew how to road trip. You need music, a good temperament, food and stops. Stops maketh the road trip!

 

 

Bird Watching - Camdeboo park

Camdeboo National Park game viewing and bird watching.

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Hiking in the Majestic Drakensberg Mountains

I started hiking as a recreational activity while I was in university. Before that it was one of those mandatory activities that you could not get out of at school, despite very colourful and creative excuses on my part. To me, the fact that I was a pedestrian at the time was my “weekly contribution” towards a healthy lifestyle and I wasn’t really looking for added extras. 

Over the years, that feeling has changed and my attraction for hiking in the wilderness, or even closer to home, has grown. Even so, it had been a long time since my last hike.This year I decided to change that and kill two birds with one stone by going hiking and doing so in a place I have never visited before as an actual destination as opposed to a drive through– the Drakensberg.

Hiking in the Drakensberg Mountains – Incredible views all around.

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Camping – My Relationship Compromise

Camping was never my thing (and to be clear, it still isn’t). It was one of those experiences that I liked to see locked in a cupboard with the other things of the past labelled “do not do that again.” This particular experience, however, doesn’t seem to want to stay in its place. I don’t have any deep-seated sociological reasons about why I don’t like camping, I’ve really only gone camping a handful of times and I just don’t like it. Despite that, it is my relationship compromise – I can commit to one night without complaining, provided the loo is not dodgy. That’s how I discovered the Bontebok National Park.

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Beautiful morning picture of the campsite along the river with the chalets in the background.

 

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Cool. Insanely. Awesome – The Great White Lions of Timbavati

We sit quietly on our game truck and watch in awe as the lion duo commandeer the road, owning their space calming and purposefully. We are on an early morning drive and spent some time tracking the lions. We caught them at that time of the morning when you really couldn’t be bothered with visitors and yet there the knock goes anyway. We stare intently, amazed at this opportunity to see these great lions in the wild.

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Matsieng and Zukhara are white lion brothers living in the reserve.

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Chasing Waterfalls in Mpumalanga

A couple of years ago, while paging through a travel magazine I came across a stunning picture of the Lisbon Falls in Mpumalanga and became obsessed with taking a trip up there to see for myself. Each time we’d start planning a trip I’d throw Lisbon Falls in the mix but it never seemed to pan out…until late last year when the coin toss was finally in my favour. I was beyond excited.

The drive to Mpumalanga has a mystical feeling to it and I love driving through there. The roads hug the rolling forest hills, meticulously lined with pine and eucalyptus trees. Each curve on the road reveals another angle of amazing views as you make your way up and down the winding valleys.

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The view outside our backpackers

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Tracking Wild Dogs in Zululand

It’s 4 am on a cold morning and I’m on an early morning game drive (I seem to be making a habit of these cold morning rides). I made sure that I was dressed warmly and have tightly wrapped the blanket, provided by our friendly Rhino River Lodge ranger, around me but the cold still seeps through. So, I sit extremely still and try meditate for the duration of the 50 minute drive to the northern part of the reserve where we will be tracking wild dogs with Wildlife ACT.

As cold as I am, I’m also very excited because we are camping, hiking or just driving in a reserve that is said to have wild dogs, we always joke about this being the time we see them. We joke because we know how extremely lucky we would have to be to spot one. The African wild dog is the second most endangered wild dog and there are less than 550 left in South Africa. This time the odds are largely in my favour, leaving my friends green with envy.

Rhino River - Water Hole

A view of a watering hole while on a game drive Rhino River Lodge in Zululand.

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Road Tripping with Travel Massive!

Last month, I was out on the road exploring more of South Africa. This time on the Travel Massive Road Trip powered by Ford South Africa with 9 influencers who also love travel in South Africa as much as I do. It was actually a bit daunting for me because as some of you know, I’m not generally listed under the “people person” category but this year I promised myself I would step outside myself more and so, I just jumped into the fire.

Road trips are always loads of fun and (s it turns out) even better when you don’t need to justify random stops, explorations for interesting sights or bush pee breaks. Our route took us from Constitutional Hill to Durban up the KZN Northern Coast, through Mpumalanga and back to Jozi.

Ford Con Hill

Packing our gear on a very early morning at Constitutional Hill. Photo by fellow traveler Chantelle – Kzara Visual Concepts

 

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My First Big Five Safari

I love nature trips. Even the city slicker that I am won’t miss the opportunity to head out. I’ve been on many trips but never quite make it on an organised Safari trip. So this time around, we booked two trips one at night and another in the morning. The weather was chilly on both but the action was hot enough. I was very happy that we managed to spot the big five on this trip but I’ve been told to lower my expectations on my next Safari trip.


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