I was lucky enough to have an “insider” into the world of South Africa travel. He put together an itinerary to highlight the best travel destinations and experiences that South Africa had to offer. Squeezing as much as possible into 10 days does make it difficult to visit ALL of South Africa. However, I am sure there is much more to explore in the future.
Here is the basic itinerary. Read on for the detailed experience:
Day One & Two: Johannesburg
Flying with Qatar from Philippines and landing at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg in the morning. Kindly treated to lunch, a massage and pedicure at The Four Seasons which I desperately needed because I get cankles (swollen feet) on long-haul flights. The masseuse got my circulation back in order while I asked her personal questions about her life. #deepconversations
The next day, got dressed up, went to a wedding and drunk/ate way too much which made the trip to the airport on Day Three very interesting.
Day Three: Kruger National Park- Jock Safari Lodge
Flying with Saffa Airlines from Johannesburg to Skukuza (Kruger National Park in the morning which took 1 hour). We picked up a Avis Rental from the airport, registered our entrance into the park and traveled to Jock Safari Lodge. On the way, we came across a herd of Elephant which was pretty spectacular. In Krugers Park the speed limit is 50km/h but everyone slowed to snail pace to check out these amazing creatures. Arrived at Jock, had lunch and a 3 pm Game drive with some amazing guests and a driver. That afternoon we saw Mr. Rhino, a couple of long lashed Giraffes, carcass eating Vultures and billions of Impalas. Impala’s most recognized feature is the “M” for McDonalds on their butts so you really can’t miss them. While having snacks and drinks out on our game drive, I had my first nibble of Biltong which is a form of dried, cured meat. Much like Jerky but more delicious. The Saffa’s have the meat curing down. One of the highlight was a leopard. It as getting close to night fall and our driver thought he’d give it one more go when it was spotted (No pun intended). That leopard knew we were watching it and did some marvelous stretches. We returned to Jock for a buffet dinner with our newly made friends and bantered about life.
Day Four: Kruger National Park- Skukuza Rest Camp
5 am breakfast and morning game drive. This one was pretty special because we came across some wild dogs. There are only 120 wild dogs in the National Park and we discovered 6% of that population. It was really magical because we got to see their morning rituals of the pups playing (they make this churping sound when they’re playing, toooooooo cute) to when they started hunting. It is so interesting how they communicate and understand each dog role in the pack. Another highlight was coming across two Hyena’s. The female was significantly larger than the male. I am guessing that the female being larger is an adaptation to increase the chances of reproduction. Some Ducklings, more Giraffes, Impalas and Rhinos later we headed back to Jock to pack.
We jumped back into our vehicle and headed to Skukuza Rest Camp which was about 45 mins away. We had some crazy timing skills because we got into the check in line, the girl in front of me turned around and I realized it was my friend Erin-Marie from Miss Universe New Zealand. What are the chances of running into another human-being on the other side of the world!
Day Five: Kruger National Park – Explore
We witnessed the Monkey morning raid. Our neighbor left outside some food in a plastic bag and those Monkeys found it. There are plenty of signs and warnings about Monkeys stealing food. I was thoroughly entertained by the cute baby Monkey enjoying a moment of freedom whilst his uncle dragged the loot up into the tree. Ah the weird things that bring me joy.
The rest of the day, we tiki-toured the sights around Krugers National Park and went to lunch at one of Skukuza’s other rest camps. While we ate, I watched a perfectly still Crocodile sunbathing on the river bed below. The drive back to our camp we saw a baby elephant, a gang of Vervet Monkeys and surprise, more McDonald’s Impala.
In the afternoon, we headed on a bush walk with two guides with some pretty serious rifles. Obviously, the rifles were safety precautions just in case something tried to eat us. Our guides tracked down a herd of Elephants and we circled around them. The guides explained the tracking method of how to locate each Elephant first to decide which direction to move in. If we walked between the herd and they were spooked, there would be some serious problems. Elephants instincts is to re-group if there is danger. Things like wind direction was also important.
Day Six: Walkerson’s Hotel
Packed up and headed out of the National Park to Walkerson’s Hotel and Spa which is in Dullstroom. It was a 3 hour drive. Approximately half-way between Johannesburg and Kruger National Park. Well known for their trout fishing, Walkerson was surrounded in man-made lakes full of trout. I spent the afternoon with a novel watching the fish jump. An evening of relaxing and unwinding for the drive in the morning.
Day Seven: Capers Town AKA Cape Town
Early morning check out and a packed breakfast from Walkerson’s. Heading to Johannesburg International airport to drop off the rental and catch a flight with Saffa Air to Cape Town.
Land in Cape Town and head to our Airbnb on the Western Cape. Chilled on the beach.
Dinner and Margarita’s at The Fat Cactus where we got absolutely smashed and entertained the Uber driver on the way home.
Day Eight: Penguins and Ice Cream
Early start out to Boulder’s Beach Penguin colony. Chilling on the beach with penguins and giant boulders. The water was a little chilly for the time of the year so it was a brave swim. Afterwards, had the best gelato I have ever had on the walk to the carpark. Mint chocolate chip which you could get out of a small window on the side of a building. You’ll see it if you visit.
Traveled up the road to the Simon township and explored the boutique shops. Lunch at a place on the water near the train station called Brass Bell. Returned to Cape Town by Uber and got dropped off along the promenade. Hired some bicycles and biked along the promenade with an amazing view of the ocean hitting the rocks below. Dropped our bikes of at the waterfront after maneuvering around hundreds off people that filled the streets.
Day Nine: Wine Tours
WINE. LOTS OF WINE with WineTram. Jumped on the WineTram bus at the waterfront and traveled about 1-1.5 hours out of the city to the official WineTram Tram where we meet our lively and entertaining tour guides. My travel buddy had done the tour before so I followed his lead on which wine estates to go to. I am a wine noob so I only take suggestions. We went to Solms-Delta, Boshchendral farm and Babylonstoren. We meet American woman who joined the trip solo so we made friends and had good yarns. (Yarn means chatting in Kiwi). My favorite wineyard would have to have been Boshchendral. The venue was beautiful and the combination of bubbles with chocolate was divine. Returned to the city and had a few drinks on the waterfront before heading to Bo-Kaap for a quick little Instagram shoot.
Day Ten: Home Time
Leaving day. Jumped on a flight back to Johannesburg and onto my international flight back to Manila.