South Africa suddenly crossed our path since it did not come out as wildly expensive as going to Kenya. It was not a month since we had returned from Thailand and we already had flights to South Africa in our possession. I anticipate that it will not be a cheap trip, but not as expensive as you can think. We travel during July. We know that there is winter and although it is a mild winter, this can be a handicap, since at 6 o'clock it is night and in many places a soul is not seen.
Day 1: Cape Town
Our trip to South Africa began in Istanbul at 1 am, leaving for Cape Town after a technical stop in Johannesburg. After many hours of flight, the truth is that we were so tired that I do not even remember the takeoff. I feel exhausted! And I got to sleep almost 8 hours straight. The flight arrived very punctually in Cape Town at 13.30. We quickly passed the immigration procedures and went to pick up our rental car.
The car was a correct model in size but with a very low power on the slopes, it was terrible. It cost a lot to climb. We arrived at our hotel that has an excellent location, very close to the lively Long Street and next to the Malay neighborhood. Without a doubt, if we returned to Cape Town we would return to the hotel especially for the great location.
We left the car in the hotel parking and after checking in decided to go out and explore the city before nightfall. Our first point was to go to a well-known bakery. It is famous thanks to a television program that we see assiduously, but when we arrived they had closed 5 minutes ago. We took some pictures of the famous and imposing Table Mountain. It is the symbol of the city (along with Nelson Mandela, a name we would hear many times on this trip as it could not be otherwise).
And we went walking to the Green Market area where we sat in a nice bar to have a drink and eat a delicious brownie. We returned to the hotel at night (just after 7 in the afternoon). In principle, we did not notice too much feeling of insecurity. Yes, we saw a lot of vagabonds but nothing that is not seen in another city.
We went out to dinner at a place next to the hotel on Whale Street. We had a beer and brought a pizza to the hotel room. There was a bar with a very youthful atmosphere and with a very nice design. And a more than outstanding service. We did not take too long to sleep. The tiredness was much and the following days would be too intense.
Day 2: Table Mountain to Signal Hill
As it had not been the day before, we decided to go to breakfast at the well-known bakery. So we walked through the empty streets of downtown Cape Town still empty at that time. When we arrived they were just opening the door so there we entered.
We were very excited to meet and talk with them. They were very kind and agreed to chat with us for a while and take a picture. We had a good breakfast. At the beginning of the morning, the temperature was cool, that made us go into the heat.
The day was completely clear so we did not doubt it for a moment. It was time to go and get to know one of the symbols of the city, the Table Mountain. It is one of the things that you will have to leave "in the air" in the planning since many days dawns cloudy or windy and remain closed for access. In fact, it may happen that you are up and in a matter of 5 minutes the weather suddenly changes and you have to go down.
We went back to the car, and after getting lost once we arrived at the parking area. A fast cable car climbs up and we can see from it (since it is turning on itself) the spectacular views. It was declared as one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It is very much loved by the inhabitants. So much so that it appears on the city's flag.
It is flanked on one side by Devil's Peak and on the other side by the well-known Lion's Head. The views from there of the city and the entire Cape peninsula take our breath away. There we were able to have our first contact with the local fauna as we sighted several "Dassies". I just found out that it was a good thing because in winter they are not seen much. There are also snakes and arachnids (which fortunately we did not see), several species of birds and, hopefully, caracals (which we did not see).
After a couple of walks, we sit quietly to have something fresh on the terrace of the restaurant that is upstairs. We again enjoy unparalleled views. We continued our way up there until we practically went around taking a lot of pictures of Lion's Head and Signal Hill.
We returned to the hotel and since we were still not hungry, we went to visit the Bo-Kaap neighborhood or Malay neighborhood of the city. It is characteristic for its houses painted with striking colors. It is a very picturesque neighborhood and like the whole city, very multicultural. Although we did not try any, there are several restaurants.
We went down to visit the lively and beautiful Long Street where after a short walk we got to eat on the upper terrace of a nice restaurant. Without a doubt, this street is one of the areas that we liked the most in the city. It has a youthful atmosphere and is full of restaurants and shops of all kinds.
For many, it is the main street of the city, where the core is and it's where we came back every afternoon-night. There are places and bars for all tastes and budgets, from African to European food, to American or Indian cuisine. When we finished eating we continued down the street and had a coffee before getting back to the car to go to Signal Hill.
When we arrived there were already dozens of people waiting for the sunset. There were people with picnic tables, with bottles and glasses of wine, couples, and families. In addition, the Table Mountain was incredibly beautiful with that light of the sunset. The moment was magical. It is one of the most beautiful sunsets we have seen. It was the culmination of a perfect day in a perfect place.
For moments and visions like this, it is worth all the effort involved in a year of preparation, work, and savings. We went back to the hotel to leave the car and went to have beer on Long Street. This time too we go to a place we had seen in the afternoon. There is a brewery with many types of beer. It is a place crowded with young people who were already having dinner and drinking beer. It is a place that we liked very much and to which we would return without any doubt.
We were not very hungry so we only a bit something before going back to the hotel. The day had been long, but certainly very satisfying.
Day 3: Cape Peninsula
We woke up early again to make the most of the daylight hours since when we go in winter after 17.30 the sun begins to fall. After breakfast at a place near the hotel, we took the car and set off to see the incredible Cape Peninsula of which I had heard so much.
When we started to see the Table Mountain we understood that we had chosen well the day before since a thick layer of clouds was beginning to cover it and probably the access would be kept closed all day. The first stop of the day would be the spectacular Camps Bay Beach.
It has an incredible environment in which we could see that those who were lucky enough to live were privileged to be able to get up and see that every day. The 12 apostles (rounded mountainous formations) were also covered with clouds. It made the view a little more special besides, as the light was very beautiful.
We spent some time walking on the beach and had the opportunity to talk with a girl who was practicing pilates on a rock. I told her that it was a very nice place to do it and she answered that she felt privileged to be able to live there.
We headed towards Chapman's Peak on a dreamy steep road and see some signs that showed that whales could be seen. It was not the case. We made a couple of stops in Noordhoek. We had a good time walking quietly and unhurriedly in Kommetjie, where people defied the cold water by surfing.
We were completely enthusiastic about the landscapes we were seeing. Really the fame that the peninsula has is well deserved. We made another stop, this time in Scarborough where we were completely alone and we could enjoy a nice walk along the beach. And finally, we reached the Cape of Good Hope, a place of legends and ghosts. Without a doubt, it is one of the most spectacular places in the Peninsula.
We do not pay entry fee since we had it included in the Wild Card. We went directly to Cape Point, where as soon as we arrived we could see how the baboons can become dangerous and literally steal pizza boxes from tourists. You have to keep an eye on them, as they are much bigger than I thought and as I say nothing friendly.
It is a place of great storms, great shipwrecks, and stories of pirates. Formerly the Cape of Good Hope was called the Cape of Storms. It was Charles II who renamed it with the current name. It is a place so steep and with tides and currents so strong that even today the boats with the most modern technologies have some fear.
We turn to the one that is erroneously known as the southernmost point of Africa. Many believe that this point is found in the Cape of Good Hope cartel. But it is not like that, as it is in Cape Agulhas, at the beginning of the garden route. The place is spectacularly beautiful but some waves were very scary!
We left the Cape of Good Hope and headed to the Boulders Beach as we wanted to see the great colony of African penguins. Again we had the ticket included with the national parks card (Boulders is included in the Table Mountain National Park).
Once we leave the parking lot we start to see these cute animals as we walk along wooden walkways. The Boulders beach where this colony is located is beautiful, with those characteristically rounded rocks. The penguins seemed super nice. We went back to the car and went straight to Simon's Town, a beautiful fishing village located on the banks of False Bay.
For almost two centuries, one of the most important naval bases of the Royal Navy was located here. We only had time to enjoy the famous street with the beautiful iron facades. We took the opportunity to eat there (in one of the few places that had opened) before leaving for our last stop of the day.
We ended our tour of the Peninsula at Muizenberg Beach. There really is not much special about the place itself. The colorful wooden huts are characteristic and give the beach a special charm. We spent a while taking dozens of photos from different frames until it was almost night.
We returned already at night (18.00) to Cape Town and after resting a little in the hotel, we went to Long Street to the beer bar. Here we took advantage of to have dinner.
Day 4: Cape Town
Again we had breakfast very well in a place near the hotel. The previous day we had bought tickets online to go to Robben Island at 13.30. It is important to take the tickets purchased to avoid surprises because the tours tend to be full. It is one of the most popular attractions in the city.
We dedicate the morning to walk around the city knowing the center a little more thoroughly. We passed through the Parliament and spent a good time walking through the Gardens. There is a beautiful park with walks, benches and beautiful trees. We went for a long walk to the Green Market to see the bustle of their stalls. We did not like it too much. We saw something overwhelming and all the merchants called us non-stop.
In these positions the majority of the crafts is quite bad and besides that, expensive. From there we decided to walk to the Waterfront since the ferry that takes us to Robben Island leaves from there. The Victoria and Albert Waterfront is a tourist port with a large shopping and entertainment center, full of shops of all kinds and many dining options.
The ferry that takes us to Robben Island leaves from the area of the Clock Tower. It takes about 45 minutes to travel the 12 kilometers that separate the port from the island. Robben Island (the island of seals) measures approximately one kilometer in diameter and has an area of just over 5 square kilometers. It has also been the residence of the first settlers.
On the way to the island the views from the ferry are beautiful. We have a good view of much of the city with Table Mountain as the protagonist. The tour around the island begins in a bus where, from there, the guide explains areas. After several explanations, a stop is made in an area from where we see spectacular views of the city.
The tour ends up going through the cell of Nelson Mandela. I could not take a picture. It was a very interesting visit but from my point of view, not too much. I say scant because we thought that more areas could be visited on our own and that some more walking could be done.
After getting back once again I never get tired of taking pictures of the most beautiful Table Mountain, in the light of the afternoon.
Once back, we took the opportunity to continue walking along the Waterfront. We take advantage of two immense pieces of cake and Moka coffee until it was dark. We took the opportunity to take a walk and take a night photo enjoying the wonderful skies.
We walked back to the hotel. After leaving the camera and a couple of bags in the hotel we went back to Long Street to the beer pub. We had a few beers and returned to dinner at the restaurant that we liked so much. We took two entrees and a pizza, and the drink.
We returned to the hotel and returned to pack our bags as the next day we left the city to start all the routes by car.
Day 5: Hermanus
We got up early and go to breakfast. That morning we left Cape Town to go to Hermanus to try our luck with the whale watching. After breakfast ,we picked up our bags and left the city driving on the N2 until we came to the R44. We made several stops but until now there was no luck.
Before going to Hermanus we could not miss the opportunity to visit Betty's Bay to see another colony of penguins, specifically the colony of Stony Point. This time we almost saw them more closely than in the Cape Peninsula two days ago. Again, we took a walk along wooden walkways enjoying these small animals. We were able to read part of the explanatory signs in which much emphasis is placed on the subject of the conservation of the species.
After taking dozens of photos of the penguins again and starting to think about the work that would cost me to process all the photos we headed back to the car for this time to get to Hermanus.
We went first to the hotel, a kind of B&B with lovely rooms. We booked it directly on their page, and it turned out to be a success. The bathroom was immense with a huge whirlpool tub and a huge shower. After checking in, we asked the owners about the sightseeing and they gave us a couple of brochures.
We walk down to the promenade where we find several people in different places looking towards the sea, trying the same as us to see whales. From the promenade, we could see that they have to be quite close to the coast to be able to see each other. We took several walks in the area, but there was no luck so we decided to try our luck with the boats that leave for the sightings.
For the area of the walk if you are lucky (we did not see it) you can see the whale detector, a man with a bell and a sign announcing the last sightings. We went to the hotel to get the car and headed to the old port. There we asked in the first company we saw (there were two next to each other, but the first gave us more confidence). The tour started at 3:30 pm so without hesitation, we booked before going to eat.
We went to eat at a restaurant just above the parking lot of the old port. It was a very nice restaurant with sea views, in which they assure that whales are seen from the terrace. Again, there was no luck. We ate quietly while discussing whether we would be lucky to see them from the boat.
We descend punctually to the pier, where before getting on the boat they explain the types of whales that exist and the types of whales that are usually seen. We got on the catamaran and we got directly in the front sitting quietly. As the boat was slowing down suddenly we heard people screaming. We looked, and far away we could not believe it what we see! We saw some fins in the distance. I assure you that we got a tremendous emotion.
The ship stopped right there and suddenly a pair of whales began to appear much closer to the ship. I cannot describe what I felt at that moment, and tears came to my eyes. It was a very special moment. And despite the size of the whales, the feeling I have is like an infinite peace. But also, I did not imagine that we could have them so close as we could almost touch them.
Slowly more whales came closer and it seemed like they were playing with each other. And here I could see how difficult it would be to photograph the fauna. We did not have the luck to see them jump, or to get a photo with the tail outside but I assure you that day has become one of the most special of my life. The emotion we feel as I tell you is very complicated to describe with words.
The emotion was so much that I could not repress myself, and I started to cry of emotion (something that would repeat itself throughout the trip). When we got off the boat we were like on the cloud, completely excited. Despite not having completely clear and high quality photos the memories that we take and have recorded, are excellent.
When we got off the catamaran it was already getting dark and when we got to the hotel, it was like a ghost town. There was not a soul and to that we must add about the darkness of the streets. So we went into a supermarket to buy and right in front there was a bar so we got there. It was very lively, and we have a couple of beers. We dined with a couple of sandwiches in the room and again we fell down. I think the immense fear of the next day made us fall asleep too soon.
Day 6: Gansbaai - Cape Aguilas
We took the car and continued with the established plan to go to Gansbaai to dive to see white sharks. On the way, I assure you that my nerves were going to crescendo. My stomach hurt and I could not help being more and more nervous.
We arrived at the meeting point of the chosen company of the famous Captain Brian Mcfarlane. We chose it for its good references both in forums and on Tripadvisor. Upon arrival, we are given some sheets to fill out and we have a pretty full breakfast. At that moment I was thinking about whether to have breakfast or not. I kept thinking as I was scared to death.
Once outside, they give us a raincoat, which can be huge, or small, depending on how lucky you are or how fast you are to catch it. We got on the boat and we already noticed the wind. The sea was moving but as the boat was moving fast we did not notice too much. As the sun came out at times, it seemed that we were going to have luck.
The boat reaches a point where it stops, and the wobble begins. The waves are quite strong and the boat moves much more than expected. My body begins to feel the nerves. The crew begins to prepare everything. They lower the cage and begin to prepare the "soup" with which the whales are attracted.
The day is becoming grayer, and it begins to get colder and rain intermittently with some ray of sun that left shy. The nauseating smell of the "soup" along with the movement of the boat begins to wreak havoc. I begin to feel bad not only of dizziness but with a strong stomach ache when we hear the crew shout shark, shark, shark. The first shark appeared and we went out in a block to see it. There it was moving threateningly but I was already so scared that I could not even take photos.
Contrary to what many people may believe, the white shark does not produce as many human deaths as we think. In fact, it is more likely that someone suffers a stroke or heart attack in the water to be attacked by a shark. But Spielberg has not contributed much to this species.
The first group put on the neoprene. From the boat, we see a little shark. But my fear is starting to get over me. I thought very hard if I should go down to the cage or not. But how could I not do it? If I have been talking about the subject for 10 months I had to fulfill one of the dream dreams of many people.
I left my camera with someone from the crew. It does not matter, I have to do it and I put on my neoprene. When we enter the cage it was the iciest water we had ever been in! I assure you that we have not been so cold ever and suddenly we heard DOWN, DOWN DOWN. We go down and see a shark much bigger than the one we had seen from the boat walking in front of us. The feeling of fear mixes with the discomfort and with the emotion.
We spent about 25 minutes inside watching these fascinating and mysterious animals. The last shark we saw before leaving the cage was huge and that big and cold black eye stared at us. It is another of those moments that I record in the mind forever.
I really believe that we do not feel fear. What we did feel was quite overwhelming being locked up with 6 other people in the cage and very nervous about trying to see the sharks as long as possible. I have only managed some photos and video captures that I made with the water camera. I did not imagine that they could become so big, and the crew told us that it was not one of the biggest.
We were still on the ship for a while. All we wanted now was to go back to land. After a while, they began to collect everything and we headed towards Gansbaai passing through the small island of seals that serve as food for these great predators. When we got ashore we got our certificate and some hot soup that fit very well on my stomach and they gave me a coke for the road. I just thought I had hours of driving until I got to the next point.
Slowly, the discomfort was gone and at least I was not feeling dizzy. We reached our next point on the route to Cape Agulhas. It is the point where the waters of the Indian and Atlantic Ocean converge, which makes this place have an even more special meaning. When we arrived we parked the car to take the typical photos of the place. We walk around the area for a while and stretch our legs. Here there are always strong currents of air creating large currents and waves that break against the rocks.
I do not know if it has something magnetic or not, or some magic but the truth is that I feel something in that place. It is because besides looking at the sea and the horizon I try to see what is below. There is Antarctica!
It was nice to take a walk through a place with so much meaning for many boaters. It's as if we transport ourselves in time. In addition, its lighthouse is the second oldest lighthouse in South Africa. It was a pity that it was not clearer because we did not see the sun hiding.
We head towards the hotel because it was getting dark. It was again a kind of beautiful B&B in which its owner received us with a tremendous kindness. We rest for a while in the room (almost apartment) before going out to find a place to dine.
At 18.30 in the afternoon we dined at a restaurant in the area surrounded by local people and enjoy a good fish and a piece of meat.
Day 7: Garden Route
We decided to go to the Natural De Hoop reserve if only to take a look, but the GPS gave us a point that was very far. We stopped at a gas station and I followed the directions they gave us but we went to Arniston. In total, De Hoop was far away, so we went around Bredarskop to go to Mossel Bay. The De Hoop reservation will be for another occasion.
On the way we see large fields of rapeseed that did not look resplendent because the day was very gray. It drizzled us much on the way until we got to Mossel Bay. We stopped at a tourist information office and headed to see the lighthouse in the city.
We went down to the beach, because although we could not bathe, you do not have the opportunity to walk along secluded beaches every day. We spent some time walking and we made our way to a place where we stopped to eat. We enjoy again some long walks on the sand on a wonderful beach. It was very wild and with some dunes that gave it a much wilder look even.
We went to the next point on the route where we would spend the night to Knysna. We went to see the area known as The Heads where we enjoy the spectacular views that we have from there. Slowly it was getting dark so we went to the Waterfront area, which by the way was very busy. It was full of people who were already starting to have dinner. We take the opportunity to have a couple of beers and try the famous oysters in a place that had fabulous views of the harbor.
Before it was late we went to check into our accommodation. The chosen hotel was a B&B, with a privileged location overlooking the entire Knysna lagoon. Although not quite dinner time, we went back to the Waterfront and chose to have dinner at a restaurant of a famous chain over there. It was a success because we had a varied dish of fried fish (hake, squid, anchovies), a plate of squid and maki, with drinks and dessert.
We returned to the hotel almost in total darkness, because in addition, our accommodation was outside the urban core and again on roads with no lighting. By the way, the views from the room could not be more fabulous.
Day 8: Garden Route
We started our second day on the Garden Route with a fabulous and homemade breakfast at the Knysna B&B. Everything was fresh and natural. There was the toast, juices, cereals, eggs, bacon, tortillas, and sweets. But before going down to breakfast, we take the opportunity to enjoy the views we had from the balcony of the room.
After filling the gut well we look at the route today. We would go from Knysna to Tsitsikamma. Although the plan was to spend maximum time at Tsitsikamma, we could not help but stop at Plettenberg Bay. It is another pretty coastal town on the Garden Route. It is supposed that whales are seen from here when it is a good time. We from the beach did not see anything. By the way, here there were brave (and many) souls swimming.
Before arriving at Tsitsikamma there is a place that we thought was beautiful. It is a place somewhat removed from the road but spectacular called Nature's Valley. If you really want to see wild and lonely beaches, you definitely have to stop by here. We were practically alone except for a man his little daughter.
We already went to what for us was one of the highlights of the Garden Route: the Tsitsikamma National Park. Also, as we had got up early enough, we were going very well. Tsitsikamma means place of a lot of water and once you arrive we understand perfectly the meaning of the name. We chose (due to the time we had) one of the most popular routes: the route of the hanging bridges.
As it was almost lunch we opted to eat in the restaurant that is at the beginning of that route. It was something more expensive than in other places, but there was nothing else and we did not have a picnic lunch. The views from the restaurant were incredible.
After lunch, as we decide to start the route of the waterfalls that was more or less than two hours round trip. But we had to turn around halfway because apparently the previous day had rained and everything was quite slippery. This route has a part that has to go through the rocks and we did not wear the most appropriate footwear.
I loved the little part we saw of Tsitsikamma. There is no doubt that the trip was meeting expectations. We went back to the parking lot and headed towards our accommodation that night. It is very close to Tsitsikamma, in the tiny town of Storms River.
The town has absolutely nothing to see, and after 5.30 pm there is nothing to do. It was 16.25 so we went to see the recommendation of the owner of the accommodation "Big Tree" located 5 minutes by car from there. But when we arrived they had just closed. We went back to town and went for a drink while we put our ideas in order for the next day's route.
For dinner we chose one of the few places there is, a hamburger-brewery with excellent value for money. And again another day we went to bed very early comparing what we are used to.
Day 9: Port Elizabeth
Our last day began with the visit to the Big Tree, which the previous day we had found closed. We walk through a forest through a wooden walkway to get to see a large tree that is located inside a park. We started the route by the last part of our Garden Route and went to Jeffreys Bay, where we took advantage of breakfast.
Here we have to tell you that we loved this place because of the surfing atmosphere it has. But from what little we could see of the area it seemed very lively. After having breakfast and taking a walk on the beach we decided to go directly to Port Elizabeth.
For us it would be more of a technical stop since we would leave the rental car here to take an internal flight. Once we arrived, we went directly to check in at the guesthouse. As we arrived there was no other guest staying there. We were given a superior room to the one reserved for the same price. The downside is that again we did not have breakfast but neither wifi but yes, we had a heated pool.
Once we left our bags, we went for a walk in the city. We parked the car next to the Town Hall. We walked next to the Public Library and went to see one of the oldest Settler houses, at Castle Hill now converted into a museum. We continue walking through the famous and luxurious King Edward Hotel until we reach the area that we liked most of the city. It is the Donkin Reserve with the famous monument to Nelson Mandela.
We went to the Boardwalk, where we hallucinate. We went to a pink world of light and color with a casino, shops of all kinds, and restaurants. It is similar to the entrance to Disneyland. We ate there. It was already getting dark so we went back to the hotel, where they told us that we would be alone with the service girl. We had a couple of beers in the pool we had for ourselves alone. Although I have to tell you that we were somewhat alert because there was not even a soul outside.
For dinner the girl who was in the hotel took care to ask us for a pizza and take it to the room. That night we went to bed very early because the next day at 4 o'clock in the morning the alarm would sound to return to the airport to leave the car and take an internal flight.
Day 10: Saint Lucia
We left at about 4.30 in the morning to the airport and left the rental car by putting the keys in a mailbox. The problem was that the first flight arrived late. We had to run like never before through the terminals of the huge airport in Johannesburg. We arrived just as they were closing the boarding gates and what is worse. When arriving in Durban it turns out that our suitcase had not arrived. They assured us that they would send them to us late to Santa Lucia (several hours away) something that I found as little, quite improbable.
Again it took a lot to pick up the rental car, because first they did not find the contract. Finally and almost an hour later than planned, we left for Santa Lucia by highway and without stopping to visit anything. When we arrived in Santa Lucia, it cost us to find our accommodation.
We talked long and hard with the owner of the hotel, who gave us a room that was a whole floor for a family. He managed the cruise through the estuary and also worried about calling the airport several times to see what happened with our bags. We keep a great memory of the hotel, but much more of its owner.
While we were making time for the estuary, we had a beer in the back of the hotel overlooking the entire estuary and beaches. We watch some monkeys watched us in case something fell. For the tour of the estuary they picked us up at the hotel door and they took us directly to take the boat along with a family of Germans.
In winter, the last tour is from 15.00 to 17.00, so for us it is the perfect time, since we could see sunset over the estuary. The first thing we saw was a crocodile and they explained to us that these were somewhat smaller here because they were basically fed on fish. That those in Kruger, while also eating meat, are much larger.
Slowly, the first hippopotamuses appeared and we could see how huge they are. It seems incredible that as peaceful as they seem, it is one of the most dangerous animals. In fact, in Santa Lucia, it is not uncommon to find someone walking around the town. We were watching how they bathed, how they slept, how they ate or how they wallowed in the mud.
We even saw some scene of anger because one woke up another and magnificent birds. But the most magical of all was when the light was falling and it began to get dusk. That moment was unparalleled, to see those animals with that special light. That silence in which only hippos and birds were heard is something that only the one who has experienced it can understand.
Slowly it was getting dark and we lived one of those African sunsets, without knowing that we still had to see many moments just as magical. The experience had been fabulous. I assure you that when you are there and you have them so close it is something brutal.
When we finished the sighting, they left us at the hotel. As it was too early for dinner we went for a walk around the town where we went to the supermarket to buy groceries and took the opportunity to have a drink. When we returned before dinner, surprisingly, they had brought our suitcase!
We could not believe it, when they lost our suitcase in Los Angeles, it took two days to get it to Las Vegas, and here in just a few hours! We went to dinner very happy and we had a good fish fry and some more entrant celebrating that starting the stages of the trip related to the fauna in this way could not have been a better choice.
Day 11: Cape Vidal - Swaziland
At 6 o'clock in the morning the alarm sounds. A new day begins in South Africa and we get up with intention to see the sunrise from the back terrace of the hotel. Apparently the sunrises are famous from here, but there was no luck since it was raining intensely. We go back to bed with the intention of sleeping a little more between the noise of the rain and the screams of several monkeys near our room. We took the opportunity to take a long shower, have a little breakfast and organize the day.
After getting ready, we headed to Cape Vidal because in several places I had read that it was a must in a route through the area. Before that we stopped at a lonely beach in Santa Lucia. I did not want to leave those wild beaches in the area. It is amazing that one has the feeling that you have only those immense beaches for you.
We could not enjoy everything we wanted from the area because the day was not with us. We entered Cape Vidal. I'll be honest, I knew Cape Vidal had some fabulous beaches, but I missed the wildlife part, and I do not regret it. The memory that I have of seeing the first zebras is sensational.
I love the zebras. Right next to the zebras we could see our first wildebeest. You do not have an idea of ??how excited we were! We did not have the faintest idea what we were going to see in Cape Vidal. It's still good to continue to be surprised when traveling and this was just the beginning.
We had a good time taking photos of the zebras and when we started we discovered that a few meters away are the rhinos! It's amazing to see a prehistoric looking animal so close to us and almost looking at us. A few meters later we find our first warthog and a small herd of kudu females.
We followed the road and a few meters later I stopped to see a young zebra with whom we could take a photo. We arrived at the beaches of Cape Vidal and went out to take a look at the immensity of those Indian beaches. It is amazing that feeling we had in almost all the beaches of South Africa to have them for us alone.
And when we got back to the car, a guy inside his car told us we had one of the deflated rear wheels. Fortunately we were 5 meters from the Cape Vidal gas station. We inflated the wheel. We undid all the way we had to go to Swaziland and reach the Hlane National Park. We had a long way ahead so we stop to delight with a family of rhinos that almost seemed to pose for us.
Very close to them a couple of zebras ate quietly and we could not do anything but shoot photos without stopping. By the way, just before leaving Cape Vidal we could see another of the Big Five: the buffalo. When we left Cape Vidal we were totally absorbed, because I really assure you that we did not expect to see any animals. And it was not even 12 o'clock in the morning!
Without a doubt we can say with certainty that Cape Vidal deserves all the praise. After leaving Cape Vidal, we refueled and set off to Swaziland. We had a long way ahead. When we arrived at the border we thought that the procedures would be faster but it took us more than half a day to leave the country.
Finally we went to Swaziland and headed to Hlane. But we made the mistake of trusting only on the gps and it turned out that we could not find the place. We were lost because we did not know if we were on the right road, or because there was not a sign. When entering Swaziland we did notice that we were in Africa, because until now we had not seen that vision we had of the African continent.
We continue driving after stopping at a gas station but there was still no sign to indicate whether we were on the right track or not. At the end we entered a private reserve that we found along the way to ask them about the park. They gave us a road map and they showed us the right way.
It is one of the worst roads we found in the whole trip, full of potholes, some really big ones. We meet hundreds of children on the roadsides that leave the schools to their homes. Hlane is currently managed by Big Game Parks and is the largest protected area in the country. We decided to visit it because it is a territory of rhinos and there is a great concentration of these animals. But it is also said to be the territory of lions and elephants.
We went directly to the park and went directly to check in and see if we were lucky enough to do the Sunset Drive but they told us it was full. So we booked the next drive for 6 in the morning. We went to the room with private bathroom but no electricity. We approached the pond behind the reception area and fled with the amount of rhinos that were only a few meters away from the restaurant!
We had some time until nightfall so we took the car and walk inside the park. We almost rejoiced at the bottom of not having taken the sunset drive because we would have missed an incredible moment of seeing a rhino baby with his mother. After watching them spellbound and taking dozens of photos, we left because we did not want to bother him much.
We spotted a zebra from afar and an animal that we thought was very beautiful, the Nyala. We returned to the pond to see how the remaining rhinos were retreating and we went to the room to rest a little before dinner. We had dinner right there in the restaurant listening to the sound of nature.
The feeling of satisfaction and excitement each day increased but now the main course of the trip was coming.
Day 12: Hlane - Kruger National Park
Our day began at 5 am, waking up with some sleep, although less than expected. When we leave we look at the rear wheel of the car, and it is not that I was deflated. I was on the ground! The worst thing that could happen to me had happened. There was a puncture, in the middle of nowhere. We tried to calm our nerves and went to the meeting point to do the Sunrise Drive at 6 in the morning.
The drive was totally punctual. We were a long time without seeing anything except some timid impala. Slowly it was dawn and the light appeared despite being a bit cloudy. Suddenly by our side there is a huge elephant and much more majestic than I imagined. We continued on our way and soon after we saw another just as big, eating calmly oblivious to all our emotion.
We even saw one that lacked one of its fangs. We continued on our way and we still managed to see another huge elephant. With this we could already be satisfied. We had already seen 3 of the 5 big five in what we were traveling in South Africa.
But the guide began to stop more often, to look at footprints on the ground. He tell us that days ago they had seen lions and cubs and that he was listening to a noise. The silence was total. It was a very exciting moment, and it was almost time to go back, but it seemed that the guide did not care.
Suddenly at the jeep again and he tells us to look to the right and that there is a baby lioness. At first we saw nothing but suddenly we tend to look through the underbrush and see something in the distance. Something that looks towards the car. The heart gave us a turn and that hardly looked from afar. After a while it was right in front of us and came right to the jeep!
A mixture of emotion and fear at seeing that young lioness approaching us took over the whole group. The guide drive backwards, as the lion comes faster and suddenly her brother appears! It is a beautiful adolescent male! It was the one who was hiding in the undergrowth. The two are in front of us!
When they got tired of chasing the Jeep they went another way. Yes, without taking their eyes off. I assure you that these are moments that we can never remove from our mind. The guide had exceeded the time by 45 minutes but he told us he did not want us to leave the park without seeing those lions. He told us that the biggest ones would be loitering around.
The image of the flat tire came back to my mind. When we got to the parking lot, I asked a worker if he could help us and he left with a manual inflator. We were like 20 minutes inflating the wheel and he told us that we had to go to a workshop. We went back to collect our bags and left Hlane. We did not know if the wheel would hold 10 kilometers or not but fortunately we arrived at the workshop. They repaired the car perfectly.
We left Swaziland by the border pass of Mananga, very quickly. We went to Komatipoort and entered Kruger by Crocodile Bridge since our first accommodation within Kruger would be Pretoriuskop. Just when crossing the Crocodile Bridge we had a beautiful zebra and a nice warthog who welcomed us.
Here we could already check what they told us in Santa Lucia. The crocodiles here are tremendous as they are well fed. We could see a lone elephant who saw our car in the distance and turned around showing us its backside (which we saw very often in many animals during the entire stay in the park).
We continue our way along paved roads but also along the numerous dirt roads, meeting the wonderful and flirtatious giraffes. We knew they are tall but we are not aware of how much until we have them close. We even had the opportunity to see how a baby approached for its food and that he gave us a wonderful photograph. A male Kudu approached us imposing showing us its great antlers and in a nearby tree we could see two precious eagles.
But the time of day was coming, we were talking about deciding which road to take when suddenly, I had to stop at once. There was a cheetah lying quietly on the road and my heart almost stopped. We stayed a long time in silence. Besides the luck was tremendous, as there was not a single car, only us. When it noticed our presence it got up very slowly, with that elegant way of walking, stealthily.
And it climbed a tree. There it was dominating the territory, and here we were enjoying that moment. The heart was going at 1000 beats per hour because we were not aware of the luck we had until the days passed. The cheetahs are very complicated to see too, since in Kruger there are currently less than 150.
We left it alone and we continued our journey when a few kilometers away we had to stop again. A lot of cars stopped as there was a herd of wild dogs. By the way, the licaones or wild dogs are very difficult to see. In Kruger there are very few so we were very lucky to see a few the first day (in fact we did not see again in the next few days).
Right next to the herd of licaones, there was a buffalo that grazed peacefully hidden among the trees. We arrived at our camp and in addition to the check-in we booked a Sunset Drive for the next day in the other camp where we would sleep. After settling in our hut that day, we went to the store to buy supplies for breakfasts and lunches and even some meals.
We went for a walk around before dark and when we returned to the camp we found a beautiful Oryx Antelope. The day could not have been better. We were so excited that we did not imagine everything that was to come. We dined in the camp restaurant and went early to sleep to take advantage of the next day.
Day 13: Kruger National Park
We had the intention of leaving the park at dawn to take better advantage of the sightings but the sheets were stuck and we could not get up early as we wanted. We picked up things as we left Pretoriuskop to go to Skukuza.
We fill gasoline before leaving and we went very slowly towards Skukuza. By the way, the day before in Pretoriuskop, we bought a guide book with the animals of Kruger, and a road map of the park. In addition to that we had a large road map that we had bought in a London bookstore.
We took the H2-2 in the hope of seeing some great feline but for the moment luck was not on our side. In return we could once again enjoy the great rhinoceros and of the beautiful zebras. One of them was practically next to my window. You do not have an idea of the feeling you have when you have the animals so close to you.
But not only that, what about the giraffes? We were never tired of photographing them. We continued driving along some roads and we were able to delight again with the elephants and with another group of giraffes. We took the H1-1 and saw that there was an impressive traffic jam. So much so that we stayed close to an hour.
There had to be something big happening.
And that's the way it was, even though we could hardly see it, let alone take a picture. We had too many cars (and some big jeeps) that made it difficult for us to see. Apparently a great leopard was hunting. I was overwhelmed by a tremendous emotion. I had dreamed of this moment since I started to organize the trip.
Here we saw how irresponsible people can be. There were children with half a body outside the window, and people climbing on top of the cars. We could only see the tail. There was no way to see it well and I tell you that we were almost an hour stopped. When we managed to get out of the traffic jam we went around the same road to return to Skukuza. We wanted to go to one of the viewpoints where we can lower the car and stretch our legs as we had been driving for a few hours. But on the way we had to stop again because a herd of elephants crossed our path or rather, we crossed into theirs. I can never forget how our eyes met. They are majestic animals, and so beautiful!
We stopped at the Matekeniani lookout and we had the whole savannah for us. We were sitting there for a long time losing our eyes on the African horizon. When we got back to the car we decided to take the H11 to take the S1 then as we had seen in the sighting panel that leopards had been seen the previous day. There was no luck either. So we headed to Skukuza where we checked in and had a couple of sandwiches resting on the terrace of our hut. We drink a fresh beer that we had bought in the store.
We made some time to go out on Sunset Drive to see if we were lucky and we saw the elusive cats. We headed to the meeting point for the Sunset Drive and got into the vehicle. They are adapted vehicles and are higher than usual and open on the sides like a big jeep. The guide explains the basic rules.
At first we were a bit bored because we only met a giraffe and a big elephant. I could take a nice picture of a beautiful toco (the famous Zazu of the Lion King). We saw a sunset that despite being somewhat cloudy I thought it was spectacular, without knowing that I still had several more beautiful sunsets yet to see.
At night the temperature dropped a lot. In the vehicles there are usually blankets, which really come great. The Jeep has several lights. The fact is that suddenly the jeep stops and the nerves come to the surface, and the hair on end. There is a Lion, the king walking alone on the asphalt, oblivious to everything. And my despair began because if it is difficult to photograph wildlife in movement. It was joined by the lack of light, and the people who handled the spotlights shone into the sky instead of the asphalt and that the Jeep also moved.
We left the lion behind and came to a rocky area, where we did not see a lion but a whole herd of about 5 lionesses, a couple of cubs and another male. Well, here I could not restrain myself and a couple of tears fell. It's like the emotion overwhelms you and you try to contain it, but you cannot, and you do not want to. We saw a great male sleeping. There is a lioness somewhere else sleeping and others lying around.
The male was waking up very lazy. It was sleepy and stretching on the floor. Meanwhile the lionesses remained calm. It was quiet, but always vigilant. The male yawned but when he realized our presence gave a loud roar. Up on the rocks, a lioness took care of one of her precious cubs. The moment we were living is one of those moments travelers in which all the effort that one makes during the year to travel. You forget and makes everything worthwhile.
They were moments in which you want time to stop so you can savor that moment just a little more. The look of that lioness have engraved it forever in our mind. The Sunset Drive ended up much better than we expected. We were so excited that we were not talking about anything other than the lions.
We dined at the Skukuza restaurant quietly while commenting on how fantastic the day had been. We went to see the sighting panel to have an orientation for the next day and to also point out where we had seen the lions.
Again, we went to bed early so we could leave early the next morning and change camp again.
Day 14: Lower Sabie
We were moving back to camp, this time to spend two nights in Lower Sabie. We travel along several roads on our way to Lower Sabie and the first hours we saw many birds such as vultures, eagles, marabou. But we also crossed a thousand times with the nice Guinea hens. We drive for several hours crossing with zebras and giraffes, some lone wildebeest, but no lions or leopards.
But in return we could see animals that we had not yet seen as a huge lizard or small turtles or some heron and hippos. I have to confess that my despair was a little increasing. I was obsessed with seeing a leopard (the day before we had seen a tail) but at the moment nothing at all.
We had a good time looking at a great rhinoceros that we had beside the car. When we got to Lower Sabie we saw a large herd of elephants having fun while they bathed and wallowed in the river. The Lower Sabie area is beautiful. With the views towards the river it is a real wonder.
After checking in and going through the store to buy supplies, we eat quietly on our terrace and went to the pool area. In the sun the truth that it was hot and we thought about taking a bath. But when I got in the water I left immediately because it was freezing! So after a while in the sun we went back to the room to change clothes again to go to another Sunset Drive to see if this time we had more luck!
The Jeep of Sunset Drive came out a little later. Almost as soon as we left, we stopped near the river to see how it was trying to catch an African osprey and to laugh with a funny baby baboon that was on the back of his mother. It fell to the sides while looking towards us. Shortly after returning to the main road we came across a large herd of elephants. It is incredible how they communicate with each other and how they protect each other.
In fact we had to move because one of them came to the jeep in a threatening way. Before leaving, we saw how the youngest of the pack was left behind while the rest called it incessantly. Before nightfall we came across a small giraffe that had fallen behind. Although at the moment we had not seen big cats at that time, the sunset that we could enjoy in the surroundings of Lower Sabie was incredible. The day was totally clear and the sky was dying of an intense orange but the best was yet to come.
In my life I had never seen such a starry sky, with so many constellations. I could not have seen the Milky Way so clearly. Here came a little surreal moment and that, despite the lights and flashlights we did not see anything. Well yes, a couple of civets, and rabbits. Suddenly the guide goes, points with a laser pointer at a branch and he tells us that he has seen a chameleon.
We continued for a while longer and we got to see 4 more civets. It is impossible to take pictures. When we reached Lower Sabie again, almost at the entrance to the camp, we saw a cat. The guide said it was an African wild cat. There was no luck either this time with the leopards. It was resisting us. I was convinced I do not know why this day we would see leopards. We are in a huge area and unless the animals are close to the roads it is practically impossible to see them.
We had dinner again in the restaurant quietly and went to sleep again early for the next day to be able to leave as soon as the doors opened.
Day 15: Lower Sabie
Very punctual at 6 am we went out the door of Lower Sabie ready to embark on a new safari on our own. Even at night, we were turning around the H4-1 and the H4-2. We try to see lions or leopards since supposedly the previous night they had been sighted over there. Again for now, there was no luck.Slowly it was dawning and changing the colors of the Kruger sky.
Almost without realizing it, we met a group of hyenas. They are really ugly. They look like clumsy animals, but do not let yourselves be deceived, nor are they as clumsy or silly as they seem. We spent some time observing them and seeing how the sunrise ended. In the meantime we realized that a hyena of the group was hidden behind the branches.
We returned to the camp to have breakfast and to organize the rest of the day. This time we slept again in Lower Sabie (although in a different accommodation since when we booked there was no availability in the same).
We go back to the road. This time we are lucky about the proximity to some animals as we had the chance to see a group of buffalo very close to us as well as a group of zebras and giraffes. I will never tire of saying how beautiful they are. We cross again with a group of giraffes with two of them very young, and a rather larger herd of wildebeest (until then we had seen them outside their herds).
We stopped on our way to observe for a while from the car, all the immensity of the park and the immense buffalo. We arrived at a pond where we spent a long time watching as a family of warthogs wallowed well in the mud. We went back to see big crocodiles in the sun. One of them was really big.
We went back to the camp to check in in the new bungalow and ate quietly on the terrace while we made time for a new Sunset Drive. I kept thinking about the elusive leopards. Once again we arrived at the meeting point in time. We had a guide who was much nicer and more professional than the previous day's guide.
This time there was nothing lucky in the drive but we could live a wonderful and unforgettable sunset. Slowly the sky was changing color. We can never forget those African sunsets. Again the night gave us a starry sky with a temperature that invited us to warm fires. That evening we did feel cold in the jeep and the last hour of the drive was pretty bad. To top it off the drive lasted 45 minutes more because the guide insisted that he wanted us to see some feline but still there was no luck.
We dined by the hair because we almost arrived at the closing time of the restaurant. We ordered only a salad and a couple of hot teas to warm up and went straight to bed. We wanted to keep getting up early to make the most of the time.
Day 16: Satara
5.30 in the morning. There is no time to lose! At 6, we went out of the door of Lower Sabie. We see that the vast majority of cars are going to the H-4-1, but we decided and right on the same road. We do not know if by instinct, if by chance but something made us decide to go in that address.
We had already learned and understood that luck influences a lot in the sighting of certain animals. The animals, have to be close to the road so you can see them well, and many of them like felines are very elusive. After a few minutes we had to stop suddenly. We could not believe what we had in front. There were 2 more cars, and a whole herd of lions!
Walking quietly on the asphalt were two males, three females and several cubs playing among them. A mixture of emotion and fear took hold of us since you can not imagine that feeling of having right next to your window looking at a lioness. It is a pity that most of the photos were blurred, but it had not yet dawned. Between that, the nerves and the excitement of living that one in the first person is good. The images that I will keep forever in my memory are very clear.
The cubs were beautiful and they were very playful. Now it was a male who was walking very close to us and again that mixture of emotion and fear returned to us. It was immense and beautiful. Slowly they went away, and it was dawn. But one of the males decided to stay and almost pose for us being able to get one of the most beautiful pictures of lions that we have.
We decided to turn around and go to take the H-4-2. After a while on the road, we seem to see something in a tree. So I stop and we see not one, but two leopards! There they were! Next to us, but as soon as they saw the car they left and we could only photograph them from a distance and very blurred.
Well I had not been able to take good pictures, but we had seen two precious leopards. I was satisfied. You can not imagine how excited we were. We tried to continue for a while, but they disappeared. I say that the ability of the animals to camouflage is incredible. You can be by their side and not see them! And that day we could understand it.
We continued straight on the road and an SUV stopped by our side and told us that there was a leopard hanging around. We stopped because indeed there it was! We also saw something in a tree on the branch. It did not distinguish very well, but looked like a prey. And yes, it was an impala hanging from a branch. We're going to wait. If he has it hanging there it's because he's going to come back.
Slowly more cars were arriving, and we had a privileged position so we did not move. And thank goodness! At 10 minutes, appeared the most beautiful animal that exists, majestic, elegant and stealthy. He climbed the tree and spent some time sniffing and nibbling but recreating with his work, licking it slowly and calmly.
I have to confess that I was very emotional and tears of emotion came to me. After so many days waiting to see a leopard and now I had it so close. It is a fabulous animal. I do not think there is another one so beautiful or so elegant. The photos we could get of the leopard with its prey seem incredible to us, with nature in its purest state.
He caught his prey and slowly he took it down, with a lot of effort, but finally he lowered it and took it away disappearing from our eyes. We could not believe what I had just seen. I assure you that only this moment, is worth every penny invested in the trip. It was still 9 o'clock in the morning, and we went back to Lower Sabie to have breakfast and pick up our things. Today we were heading to Satara.
We took the H-10 and on the way we saw some beautiful ostriches. We stopped at Nkumbe and were delighted for a while with the fantastic view from there to the endless savanna. We go through Kumane and continue until we get on a road to see an imposing baobab. They are spectacularly big! We could also see a bird that they have true devotion and that apparently is because there are not many. We saw several of them called the Red-billed Hornbill.
Before arriving to Satara we diverted a bit by several roads hoping to see more lions or leopards. In fact they say that Satara is a land of big cats. But no we did not see more. We had enough that morning! We stop at Nsemani watching a group of elephants enjoying the water and the mud of a pond and we also see aquatic antelopes.
We entered the camp of Satara. We checked in and ate quietly, commenting on the moment in the morning while we were making time for a new sunset drive. Again, we were delighted with a wonderful sunset during the sunset drive, and again it is impossible for me to photograph the animals. We saw several elephants very close, a porcupine and of course, civets and rabbits.
But we also had to stop for a while because in the distance, in the dark there is another leopard! But what luck! I could not help but have a blurred photo because again I do not know what the people were doing with the lights. We returned excited to the camp and chat during the dinner of one of the most exciting days of our life.
Day 17: Olifants
At 6 o'clock we leave with the car ready for a new day full of sensations. We were on the roads near Satara, and slowly began to dawn. It seemed that the day knew that we had little time in the park because it dawned a little cloudy. It was weird, as we did not even see many impalas like the previous days. Suddenly we see a car stopped on a road and we stopped too.
A huge and beautiful male lion appeared majestically, walking slowly, very slowly. Besides that we see a hyena appear and run out towards some jackals. The lion disappears from the scene but in a minute it reappears with an impala in the mouth! We were totally amazed, especially as the lion disappeared the real hunters of the impala appeared. There were two cheetahs.
They sat staring at the lion. The hyena watch the scene, prowling and the exhausted cheetahs sit, I imagine with a brutal impotence. It is curious how they did not dare to approach the lion despite the two cheetahs being together. When the lion disappeared completely, the hyena began to prowl approaching slowly to where the cheetahs were. But one of them had to fly and began to run towards her and to corner her. While the other kept watching we imagined the lion.
We were living an amazing scene! One of the cheetahs stalked the hyena. But we could tell they were exhausted. We imagined that it was because of the previous hunt because every so often they lay down with their tongues out. We were able to see how they even had a bloodstained nose.
Having them so close and seeing these beautiful cats well, was one of the best things we experienced in Kruger. We found them more beautiful than we imagined and that way of moving, so elegant, was almost sensual. The other cheetah joined and both, stood in front of our car and lay down. We found it tremendous. It seemed that they kissed but not. What they did was lick the blood from the nose!
Another of those moments to never forget and that again make you feel that contact with nature is so special. We decided to go back to Satara to have breakfast and collect our things. On the way we could see a group of lions in the distance, hidden and sleeping peacefully among rocks and bushes.
On the way to Olifants we could take a good close-up of a buffalo. And of course, of our friends the zebras, to each one more beautiful and of course so different between them. We arrived at Olifants and went directly to the viewpoint of which I had read so much, of which I was so eager to enjoy. And it certainly does not disappoint. The views towards the Olifants River are absolutely wonderful.
We relaxed by having a cold beer since the day had slackened and squeezed the heat. After checking in and leaving things, this time we ate at the restaurant. We could enjoy the giraffes, elephants and hippos on the river. Life passed quietly in Olifants. We go back to the room and relax a little before going to the last Sunset Drive.
We started the Sunset Drive with a very serious guide. He asks us what we had the illusion to see. Almost everyone said that lions. I think leopards so we started on our way. The guide spoke with the other jeep. We live again another dream nightfall and another starry night that I can never forget. I think it is one of the best things about drives. We see some elephant, a hippopotamus that looked at us threateningly while we were standing on the river watching sunset.
When it was almost dark the two jeeps got together, and they made us get off of them. One of the guides carry a huge shotgun. We did not understand anything, especially why they made us get off the vehicle when it was getting dark. Well then one guide looked at some tracks and other of them fulfil his needs in the middle of the savannah.
We returned to the vehicle and he tells us that he is going to try to go a little faster and get into roads that we could not have driven with our car (in areas that were forbidden to us). We were like a half hour without seeing anything, more than some timid impala.
But the vehicle stops and before us appear two immense male lions, walking alone on the asphalt looking at us. What a perfect way to say goodbye to Kruger.
Again an immense emotion, a feeling of absolute happiness that we have rarely felt that way during a trip. It is very difficult to explain. I suppose that the one who has been in Africa, or the one who had the opportunity to see nature in its splendor will understand me. We went back to Olifants and we did it through totally wild roads, where the vehicles of the park did not seem to get almost.
We went directly to the restaurant for dinner and to finish our last night in Kruger. We toasted with a couple of mojitos (by the way, very bad) enjoying the last moments in the park. Despite the sleep and fatigue I had, we did not want to sleep that night. We did not want to leave Kruger, and with that resignation I fell asleep thinking how wonderful nature is.
Day 18: Panorama Route
Our penultimate day in South Africa began with a tremendous penalty and that is that we were leaving Kruger. But we did it with tremendous satisfaction because the expectations had been fulfilled.
We left again at 6 am because we had about two hours on the way from Olifants to the park exit.
When we had an hour's walk and it was already dawn we saw something that left us totally paralyzed and that happened so fast that I did not even have time to photograph. A group of jackals and several hyenas crossed quickly chasing a hippopotamus. The hippopotamus crossed quickly towards the river, but we did not see if it managed to reach the river or not.
We left Kruger by Phalaborwa Gate and we stopped to refuel to go directly to the area of Blyde Canyon. We did it by the beautiful Panorama Route, a road with wonderful landscapes. Our first was the area of the Three Rondavels. Here we get to some wonderful viewpoints to see the 3 curious formations that has the shape of the constructions (rondavels) typical of the area.
The light was not too good for the photos. So after doing a few what we did was to stay admiring the landscape, so different from what we had seen days ago in Kruger. Our next stop is the Lucky Potholes, an area that we especially liked. Some curious pools of rock formed by the erosion of water with reddish colors in the stone reminded us of some rock formations in the western United States.
In addition the area is very well assembled to do the walk and be able to reach the river area and relax a few minutes and rest. We had a lot of road ahead so we started to go to see the area of the falls. We only had time to see two so we did not deviate too much from the route. There is the Berlin Falls. And a few kilometers further on, the Lisbon Falls. Both are very nice although they did not come down with excessive water.
It was already time to eat so we stopped at a restaurant in Graskop. We stretch our legs a little, and we follow the Panorama Route to Johannesburg. After several on the way we arrived in Johannesburg where we found an incredible traffic jam to go out. We finally arrived at the hotel, already at night. The hotel we chose was in the business area and close to what we wanted it to be the cafe.
At 2:00 pm next day we leave for the airport after collecting infinite emotions during the entire trip amidst real wildlife.