Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Welcome to...Travel Tuesdays!!

Since I will soon be doing a lot of blogging about London and life in London, I have decided that it’s time to do a few of my promised travel related posts. I have been lucky enough to roam off the beaten track a little and I hereby declare Tuesdays to be Travel Tuesdays!!

Starting today I will share one trip with you every Tuesday for the next couple of weeks – probably until we head off to the Wild Coast just before Christmas.

Riaan and I are really longing for a Kruger getaway but there really aren’t enough days left for us to do everything we NEED to do and everything we WANT to do, besides the time issue there’s also the money issue, if we’re going to drink French wine and eat macaroons in January we can’t be blowing all our cash in SA!

The Kruger National Park is easily one of my favourite places in South Africa, with its wild beauty and the unusual closeness to nature you experience while there, it is perfect if you’re looking to get away from the rat race that is Johannesburg. 

The first time I went to the Kruger was in December 2007, I went with Riaan, his parents and his 2 brothers, we met up there with the rest of his family that frequent the Kruger. I have so many fond memories of that holiday, singing Johnny Cash in the car and Riaan’s cousin telling some foreigners about the cheetahs we had just seen, their response “Come on! Really??” , complete with what I’m sure was an Australian accent had us crying from the laughter. 

Our last trip to the Kruger was last September, a little over a year ago now. September really is a nice time to visit the Kruger, there are a lot of baby animals about and it isn’t nearly as hot as December. We usually stay at the Hazeyview Cabanas, which are really nice little self-catering units situated along the river, just a few minutes drive away from Phabeni Gate and is also quite close to the Paul Kruger Gate. Last year we stayed at the Kruger Park Lodge, it was lovely. We played golf and by play I mean we drove the golf car while Riaan’s cousin and his wife walked after us. The buck roam around on the golf course there, it really is pretty!

On a clear evening you can see millions of stars light up the night sky, you hear insects chirping and if you stay inside the Kruger at one of the camps, you will most likely hear a lion or two roar during the night.

There are a ton of things to do in and around the Kruger National Park, here are a few of the things we have done over the years:

Take your car and go on a game drive, look for animals. Last time we all clubbed in and built up a kitty consisting of a R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200 (Incase you don’t know, each of these notes have an animal from the big five on it) and the last person on the trip to spot an animal of the big five gets the corresponding note. I hope that makes sense!
4am, waiting for the gate to open, we were 4th the queue.
Go on an evening game drive, you’ll go on one of the Park’s game drive vehicles with a guide. These drives can be a bit pricey so shop around, but believe me it is money well spent. You will see so many animals!
Excuse the poor quality, this little lion was walking along next to our game vehicle one evening in 2009
Visit Gods Window, try go on a clear day as mist and clouds will hinder your view. Climb the 200+ stairs to the top and take in the breathtakingly beautiful views, it's a steep climb but so worth it when you feel like you're on top of the world!
Visit Bourkes luck Potholes (these aren’t your everyday potholes, they’re huge!!), dip your feet in the refreshing water and don’t forget to toss in a coin and make a wish!

Visit The Pinnacle Rock in Blyde River Canyon, it protrudes 30m above the valley.
There are a ton of natural waterfalls in this area (some of which you can go swim at), including the Mac Mac, Horseshoe, Lone Creek and Bridal Veil falls as well as the Mac Mac pools.

Go to Pilgrims Rest. This one road town is worthy of a few hours of your time. When you are here there are a few things that you have to do! Pan for gold, this is after all the little town that attracted hundreds of settlers in search of gold during the gold rush period. Have a pancake at the pancake house – it’s a thing! Definitely go to the sweet shop, their nougat is delicious and everything is home made. Also wander through the monuments there, all of the buildings have been refurbished but remain unaltered and stand exactly as they did hundreds of years ago. Pay a visit to the robbers grave at the cemetery and take not that as an outlaw, his grave faces a different direction all of the other graves in the cemetery. Last but most certainly not least, have a drink at the Royal Hotel. Unfortunately I can't find our pictures from the trip we took to Pilgrims Rest, hopefully I'll find them soon and do a post on Pilgrims Rest alone.

Have a braai - the most relaxed and social way of cooking you meat!!

Pack a breakfast picnic, arrive at your gate of choice before the sun comes up (we always try to get there first), pick a watering hole and have breakfast there. While you’re having breakfast in the car, enjoy the sunrise and keep an eye out for the animals as they come for their morning drink of water.

Have lunch at Skukuza on the deck, overlooking the river, you can usually see elephants or hippos wallowing in the water.

Here are a few of my pictures from our Kruger trips over the years.
Cheeky monkey that climbed into Riaan's Aunts car, not impressed that we chased him out!
A few of the other (more pricier) things you can do include:
Pay a visit to the Elephant Sanctuary and interact with the elephants or go on an elephant back safari.
Take a hot air balloon over Hazyview.
Go on a guided bush walk in the Kruger.

I hope you enjoyed the post and found it useful. Let me know if there is anything I can elaborate on, or if there is anything else you would like to know!


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