By: Rene Stegmann (Director: Relocation Africa Group)
Each year our family and some friends venture into the wild, seeking adventure and getting to know the place I love the most; Africa. This year we decided to keep it local and discover more of South Africa, which allows us to avoid the border crossing and other, whilst adventurous, sometimes more stressful parts of a holiday. Our focus was also reaching warmer parts of the country, to escape some of the Cape Town winter.
Being an avid educationalist, Andrew, my husband, puts together incredible books to ensure the scholastic flavor remains entrenched during the “off season”, so we all get our dose of history, politics, and geography. Our first stop was just far enough out of Cape Town to get the flavor of the bush; The Karoo National Park. On arrival, our first sighting was a Lion – who-hoo, we are on holiday, and the adventures start.
Our next day was a 950km drive to The Drakensberg – the majestic eastern edge of the South African central plateau – with fortunately very little road works/road blocks; just the regular pit stops and stretches required to get us to our next destination. We could not get enough of the beautiful scenery – we walked/hiked/ran and just absorbed our surroundings.
We discovered a derelict building and started dreaming about how wonderful it would be to live there – only when you realise the practical aspects of no online delivery do you have second thoughts! But the fantasy lives on in our heads and hearts. We went to visit a monument representing a historical figure of the family we were traveling with; Die Kaalvoet vrou (The barefoot woman).
And as you guessed, a history lesson for the morning. On to the historic battlefields from the Anglo-Zulu War (Isandlwana & Rorkes Drift). At least that was on the agenda, but on arrival at our thatched cottage on the water, surrounded by hills and fields, and no-one else, we decided to enjoy the boat, birds, and the outside fire boma.
The overnight stops thus far were with the ultimate destination in mind, the sea! We ventured to a remote place which requires 4×4 access, and has no water and no electricity – not good marketing for most, but for us adventurous bunch ,we were up for the challenge. I guess it was not surprising that there were not many people around – there was also no Wi-Fi or cellular signal.
On our return, some of our friends had expressed concern about what would happen if something went wrong. I guess the answer is the same as the ways people dealt with those issues years back. We had the beach to ourselves. There were only 10 campsites, two of which we had, but you could not hear or see another soul. It was incredible; the stars and nature were our television/radio for 10 days.
Discovering parts of South Africa with the opportunity to “switch-off”, “change gear”, and completely tune out of the regular routine of life was wonderfully therapeutic. The scuba diving and snorkeling was fabulous, and pretty untouched, and the long beaches and warm water swims were enticing. A spot like this, where you can be in t-shirt and shorts, or mostly your swimming gear, is a treat. Especially since Cape Town is pretty chilly at thas time of year.
As I mentioned earlier we seem to include a diverse holiday, which includes the essential rest and recuperation, as well as education and even donation! The next stop was an overnight stay at Chimp Eden, which is the chimpanzee sanctuary overseen by Jane Goodall. They rescue previously abused chimps, and each of their stories is heart wrenching, and leaves you wondering how inhuman the world is.
After our night in pretty simple but pleasant accommodation, we had a lovely breakfast, and then a tour learning about each of the chimps at Chimp Eden. Our family was so struck by what the people at Chimp Eden do, and the expenses that they incur to run and feed these animals, that we have adopted Tamu.
Tamu’s mother was shot by poachers in the Congo, for bush meat, and Tamu was smuggled across the border into Sudan. The Sudanese military confiscated him and he was taken to a safe house. There he was introduced to six other infants (Marco, Mowgli, Mary, Bazia, Charlene, and Azzie). They were all transferred to the sanctuary together and quarantined in 2008. If you want to adopt one of these furry gals or guys, just go to this link.
Then it was time to head to the bush; the well-known Kruger National Park, where we expected a crowded experience, as it is pretty high up on most tourists’ to-do lists. We were pleasantly surprised at how efficient the entry process was, but it did mean a little queue each morning on arrival. The roads in the park are tarred, and this allowed some people to drive too fast. We are more accustomed to the adventurous African options like parks in Botswana and Zimbabwe, where the roads are far from tarred, and things seem a little slower and more connected to nature and the surrounds. We did have some wonderful sightings, and saw the big five on day one. We also had two close encounters with elephants, which just reminded us we were on their turf.
We stayed with friends on their game farm just outside Kruger, but I believe the experience of staying in the park is better than driving in daily. Just to really connect with nature. #NoteToSelf
We spent 3 weeks road tripping around South Africa, from the Drakensberg, to the Coast in KwaZulu-Natal, to the Kruger, and lots of little stops in between. We returned well rested, and on reflection, we thought about how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful, diverse country with so much on offer. #AGreatPlaceToBeAdventurous #LoveSouthAfrica #TravelSouthAfrica #HeadingIntoZimbabwe2019.
Why not go out and explore some of this interesting country yourself?
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