South Africa

Safari and Cape Town

South Africa. There is so much to say, but I probably can’t express it all the way that it deserves to be. This was the most incredible trip and, if I had an unlimited cash flow, I would do it over and over again!

Let’s begin with planning – I knew I wanted to go on safari and I knew that I wanted to visit Cape Town. I worked with a travel agent and also did research on my own. When I found a tour company that had the most perfect itinerary – Siyabona Africa – my travel agent looked into them to make sure that this company was legitimate. Everything checked out! The most difficult part of booking was convincing my credit card company to let a charge in Africa go through. It took a few days, but we finally accomplished it. Next, after reviewing the itinerary, we had to plan our packing strategy. Several small planes were involved in our transfers so we decided to go with carry-on luggage only. I’ll post the links to our bags at the end (no, I won’t receive a commission – I just really like the bags and want to share with you!). After our packing strategy, we planned all of the fun things we wanted to do/see in Cape Town! In total, we needed 12 days to squeeze in traveling to and from South Africa, Safari, and Cape Town.

Day 1

Many, many hours on a plane. We left Tampa, connected in Atlanta, and went straight through to Johannesburg. I packed ZzzQuil and took 2 as soon as the attendants were finished serving dinner on the flight.

Day 2

When we arrived in Johannesburg, it was evening for us again. The hotel that we booked, Hotel OR Tambo, had a shuttle that went back and forth to the airport so we waited for them to arrive. At the hotel, we sat down for dinner and then went straight to bed.

Day 3

In the morning, we had breakfast and took the shuttle back to the airport. A small plane took us from Johannesburg to Skukuza Airport. When we arrived, a shuttle was waiting for us that drove us to our first stop – Inyati Game Lodge. It was close to lunch time when we arrived. A staff member greeted us, told us the rules – no walking outside by ourselves in the dark (hippos) and make sure that we lock our doors so that monkeys don’t steal our things! – and placed a lunch order for us. Lunch was not a traditional meal here. The meals and schedules at the lodge are tea in the morning, game drive, breakfast, rest, tea in the afternoon, game drive, and dinner. We unpacked our things, laughed at all of the monkeys peeking in our windows, and explored the property. Later, we had tea and snacks before heading out on our first drive. Almost immediately, we happened upon a leopard lounging the sun! It didn’t seem real.

A while later, we found packs of wild dogs and hyenas – it was spring time in South Africa so there were babies too! We followed them for a bit and watched the wild dogs go on a hunt. Our guide thought that we lost them, but then he spotted hyenas running to steal their kill. We pulled up right next to the hyenas pulling apart an impala – again, it didn’t seem real! I’ll spare you the graphic pictures in this post.

After our drive, we returned to the lodge for dinner. It’s a small place so all guests dine together and with the guides. All of the jetlag quickly disappeared throughout this amazing day!

Day 4

The next morning, we saw hippos, a leopard, elephants, wildebeest, wild dogs, lions, and rhinos!

Afterwards, we had breakfast and then lounged by the pool and read books until afternoon tea.

That evening, we were able to watch a leopard hunt an impala and take it up a tree. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, but I’m happy that the leopard had a great meal! Again, we returned for dinner with all of the lodge guests.

Day 5

In the morning was our final game drive and breakfast with Inyati. After spotting a Southern yellow-billed hornbill, monkeys, zebras, and giraffes, we were ready for our next stop!

We were picked up and driven back to Skukuza Airport for a quick flight to Kruger Mpumalanga Airport (btw, South African Airways serves the best snacks). When we landed, a van was waiting for us and took us to Rhino Post Safari Lodge. The lodge was beautiful and felt like we were at a fancy adult summer camp! Except, at this point, it was a little cold! We were briefed on the rules again – don’t go outside at night without a guide and lock your doors properly or the monkeys will steal your things – and then left for our night drive. After the drive, we had a wonderful dinner with all of the other guests and enjoyed champagne by the fire pit.

Day 6

Our same schedule as before – early wake up call, snacks and tea, game drive, relax all day, snacks and tea, game drive, dinner! Giraffes, zebras, elephants, lions, rhinos, monkeys, impalas, buffalo, kudu, and more! Every drive was incredible, our guides were incredible, the food was incredible! Are you starting to see why I would do this over and over if I could?

Day 7

Cameron and I decided to skip the morning game drive so that we could pack and get ready for our next stop. It had been rainy and cold the previous day and I didn’t have enough dry pants to survive another cold morning! So we packed and relaxed while our friends went on their final one. After, we had breakfast and a driver arrived to take us to Elephant Whispers! Elephant Whispers is home to five orphaned elephants. We were able to learn about them, meet them, feed them, touch them, and take pictures! Tembo was so sweet and smart.

After our encounter, we had lunch and were taken to Oliver’s Lodge. This property was so beautiful and blew us away! Our rooms were huge, we were able to do laundry, there was a golf course, a beautiful pool, spa, and resident cats that loved to snuggle! Cameron and our friend Brett decided to book a couple’s massage together – only $25 per person! If we had more time, we would have definitely stayed here longer.

Day 8

In the morning, we met our driver and went back to Kruger Mpumalanga Airport to fly to Cape Town. When we landed, we picked up our rental car and drove to our Airbnb to check in. If you are from the United States, beware that you’ll drive on the opposite side of the road and the drivers seat is on the opposite side of the car!

Rather than driving down to Camps Bay for sunset, we took an Uber to avoid having to find parking. Definitely take a bottle of wine with you and climb up to a good spot on the rocks!

Day 9

Day 8, we had breakfast at Truth Coffee. I had a route mapped out for the day that included Boulder’s Beach, Cape of Good Hope, Haut Bay, and stops for shopping and eating along the way.

We ended our day at Cheetah Outreach.

Day 10

Truth Coffee for breakfast again – it was so good! We bought tickets for the City Sightseeing bus and started our day at Table Mountain – go early! There was a huge line by the time we were leaving!

We hopped off at a few stops – Bo Kaap and the Victorian Waterfront – and rode around listening to the history of the city.

Later, we found a liquor store near our Airbnb, each bought a bottle of champagne, and took an Uber to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. The property was amazing and we felt like we were in a Jurassic Park movie! After downing an entire bottle of champagne each, we were running around like silly little kids having the best day of their lives – and we were!

We got an Uber back to the Airbnb, walked to get dinner, and then spent the night playing Uno on our balcony.

Day 11

Can you guess where we had breakfast? After, we made our way out to wine country! We had a tour booked at Waterford Estate that included champagne, a facility tour, a hike through the vineyard, lunch and wine by a pond, and then chocolate and wine pairing back at the estate.

After enjoying a few hours here and buying a lot of chocolate to take home, we made our way to the airport to catch our flight home!

Day 12

Home and exhausted! We connected through Atlanta at breakfast time and thank goodness they had a Chick-fil-a open and ready for us! Then it was a short trip from there to Tampa before we spent the rest of the day sleeping.

Packing Tips

Seriously, pack light! You don’t want to walk up to one of the many small planes we took and have them tell you that your luggage is too big/heavy. Plus, you save money on baggage fees!

The men used these backpacks – https://www.amazon.com/Hynes-Eagle-Travel-Backpack-Approved/dp/B07G72NVHH/ref=sr_1_2_sspa?crid=1NU2Y6QV3VOMR&dchild=1&keywords=cabin+max+backpack&qid=1632494402&sprefix=cabinmax%2Caps%2C248&sr=8-2-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUExT1VIM1hETkU0Tk4yJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwMDE4OTI3NFlLVUVVRU00NDRNJmVuY3J5cHRlZEFkSWQ9QTAyOTg5NTMyOExMNUJJNTEwOTVMJndpZGdldE5hbWU9c3BfYXRmJmFjdGlvbj1jbGlja1JlZGlyZWN0JmRvTm90TG9nQ2xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ==

The women used these – https://www.amazon.com/Cabin-Max-Backpack-Flight-Approved/dp/B009NR5H86/ref=sr_1_5?crid=1NU2Y6QV3VOMR&dchild=1&keywords=cabin%2Bmax%2Bbackpack&qid=1632494457&sprefix=cabinmax%2Caps%2C248&sr=8-5&th=1

Prior to packing, I shopped at Goodwill to find some khaki and neutrals that the lodges recommend you wear for drives. I purchased a pair of pants and a few tops from Goodwill and from Target. When we were at Oliver’s Lodge, I had everything cleaned through their laundry service and then left behind my thrift store purchases. Now my wardrobe was reset for our time in Cape Town and I had room to bring home souvenirs!

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