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3 weeks in South Africa in Nov/Dec 2015: the beginning of the Africa addiction


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While there was no action at the first few waterholes, we decided to give the elephant dung waterhole one more try before taking the direct route towards the exit on the other side of the park. And it proved to be the best decision during our time at Addo Elephant National Park. When we arrived, two elephants walked towards the waterhole. One of them drank, the other first drank and then decided to get into the water. It splashed itself with water and drank more before deciding that a swim would be a good idea. It was so much fun watching this elephant, it lay down in the water, left out air through its trunk under water in order to create lots of bubbles and really enjoyed the bath.


Then we spotted a herd of in total approx. 25 elephants that walked toward the waterhole. What a sight! There were also a few young elephants. One of them was really small and the females took care of it and shielded it from the large males. They all drank from the waterhole and many splashed water on themselves. After about 25 minutes, they left again. By then, we decided to drive to the other side of the waterhole to get a different perspective and were very lucky. One of the males came directly towards us, very impressive. Watching this herd was the highlight of our visit to Addo and one of the highlights of our trip.


Driving on, we came across another twelve elephants at another, smaller waterhole. But they seemed to be quite shy and annoyed by the noise of the cars. There were a couple of vans with lots of noisy people next to them on the road, so we decided to not annoy them any further and left rather quickly. At the fields with the purple flowers where we had seen the elephant bull the day before, we saw a herd of red heartebeests that day. And also a warthog joined them. Driving further on, there were some zebras. At another small waterhole, we saw two male elephants and three warthogs. The two elephants were really impressive and one of them had a hole in its ear.














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Wonderful elephant sightings. I also like the silhouetted cheetahs on the previous page!

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Then it was time to leave Addo Elephant National Park and make our way towards the Garden Route. Back on the highway close to Port Elisabeth, the rear side window burst while driving at full speed for whatever reason. We didn’t see anything, it was just a loud noise and bite of broken glass everywhere. I even still found some small pieces in my underwear in the evening… A big surprise and not a good one. We were lucky to not get injured or have an accident. So we stopped, called the rental car agency and they told us to drive to their Port Elisabeth outlet to exchange the car. So this is what they did. The guy we talked to told us we could get an upgrade after that experience, but at the city outlet they only had the same car available. So the woman there sent us to the airport location where there were apparently more cars. But after arriving there (and some more waiting), we were told that all cars were required to be picked up by other renters, so they could again only offer us the same model. What a waste of time… And they also deducted the money for the broken window from my credit card even though there was no obvious reason for the broken window and the car was new with only 4,500km.


But anyways, with the new rental car we drove to Plettenberg Bay. We found a nice B&B on arrival where we decided to spend the night. Then we went to the beach and went for a walk. The water was quite cold so we did not go to swim, but at least our legs were in the water. There were lots of nice shells and snail shells at the beach. And the sunset was really amazing. I have never seen purple sky, but it was fantastic. After dropping the car at the B&B we went to have dinner in the city center. We shared a seafood platter between the two of us. After dinner, I didn’t feel that great and was really tired so we went back to the B&B again to get some sleep.

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Sunset at Plettenberg


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The next morning, I felt even worse than the previous evening. I had a migraine. I thought that maybe a shower would help to relieve some tension in my back so went up to shower but then again to bed. After taking some medication I at some point felt well enough to get up. My boyfriend packed our things and put them into the car. Then we went for breakfast – i.e. my boyfriend had breakfast and I slowly tried whether my stomach would accept some light food in small quantities. So we just took our time and I felt better again. So we just went to a pharmacy to buy some more medication and went to the beach for another relaxed stroll. Either I felt okay soon or we would just stay there another night. But thankfully it got better, so we decided to leave shortly before lunchtime. We drove on to Knysna where we had lunch and walked around for a bit. It seemed funny to us that there was christmas music playing and there was a christmas tree in the water at the harbor as we didn't even think about christmas once while in Africa. Then we decided to drive further to George and Mossel Bay but we liked Plettenberg more than the three places we visited that day.


We therefore decided that we would rather spend some time to drive to Cape Agulhas and have more time in the Cape region, so we drove on to Swellendam. Ivan, our guide at Kwandwe, had told us that his parents own a pub there and if we have time, we could go there and also say hello from him. So this is what we did! We had a delicious dinner and his parents were so happy that we came upon their son’s recommendation! We had a chat and his dad even took a photo with the two of us to send to him. After dinner, we looked for a place to stay using the pub’s wifi and decided to stay at a berry farm just out of Swellendam. We called to check for availability and the owner was really nice, she even came to the apartment we rented for the night with a flashlight to show us where we would need to go on the farm property. She also told us that tomorrow would be the last day in the berry season to pick berries, so if we wanted to we could go on the field ourselves and / or visit the little shop in the morning.


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After a good night’s sleep, I decided to go berry picking which I really like to do at home as well. The only difference was that this time, it was blackberries and youngberries which I picked and at home it was strawberries. And they tasted so good! Afterwards I got two berry shakes as well for our breakfast and tasted some of the jams before deciding to buy one. By then, my boyfriend was also awake and we packed the car in order to drive to Cape Agulhas.


The drive there was very scenic and an easy drive, very good roads. The villages of Struis Bay and L’Agulhas are catered for tourism (who would have guessed that?) and there is not that much to see, but the sea is amazing. We stopped at a large parking lot that had a beautiful outlook on the sea with the breaking waves. There is also a bar / restaurant with amazing views and some swings in front of the bar to sit on – I have never seen something like that before! We drove close to the cape and then left the car to walk to the “beach”. It was more large stones than a sandy beach, but nevertheless it was beautiful and the weather was perfect. There is a sign displaying that the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean meet here. Other displays inform about e.g. the sea life that can be found in those two oceans. We spent some time there enjoying the nice outlook and the sun. My boyfriend decided to climb some of those rocks to look for shells.


We drove back into the city and went for lunch at a small harbor with a resident manta ray. It is fed at the harbor and lives there permanently and we also saw it. Amazing how large these animals can get… We had a really tasty seafood lunch before driving on to Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. The drive again was very scenic. We decided to visit the Boschendal winery and taste some of their wines as we really liked the Boschendal rosé we had at Kwandwe.


The property of Boschendal ist just amazing – a huge park with some nice looking buildings. And the wine tasting area was under a huge oak tree at some white metal tables and chairs you would expect in cafés in Paris. A really wonderful setting, especially in the sun that was shining all day. As I needed to drive to wherever we would decide to stay that night, we asked if we could do a tasting of five wines together and also have a tasting of sparkling wine before and it was no problem. We really liked the wines and were even allowed to try 8 instead of the usual 5 wines and also a desert wine which was in the more expensive tasting menu. The nice guy there explained some things about the wines and adapted the tasting to our taste and the wines we liked. Very kind. So we ended up buying some bottles from their shop.


We decided to drive through Sommerset West towards the cape peninsula and stay the night somewhere there in order to visit the penguins the next morning quite early before everybody elso from Cape Town would also arrive there. The drive was really nice – and with the setting sun, the scenery got even more dramatic. We found a hostel in Muizenberg with an adjacent café where we stayed. It even had a view on the beach (and a train station – but that was fine for the price we paid)!






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What an amazing trip report! Turtles on top of leopards on top of bat eared foxes (!) on top of cheetah cubs (squee!!). (Well, not literally on top of, but you get my point.) It's all thrilling to read about and I'm really enjoying your elephant photography in particular -- I love elephants, but find them hard to photograph due to their size and uniform color. You do a marvelous job of showing motion through your compositions.


I also really liked hearing more about Kwandwe -- yet another location to add to my growing list of places to explore. :)


Thanks so much for sharing!

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Loving this as you are visiting some of the places we will be going to on our next trip. 12 weeks and counting :)

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Broken glass in your underwear, yikes. Glad you weren't hurt!

Love the pictures; beautiful water.

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Really enjoying this report to areas of South Africa that I hope to see someday. Thanks for sharing!

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  • 6 months later...

From Muizenberg we drove to Boulders Beach where the penguins breed on the beach. We were there early in the morning as soon as they opened and it was magical. We spent a couple of hours just watching the penguins and taking photos. They sat on their eggs breading, slept, tried to stead bedding from other penguins' sleeping places, went swimming,... Just amazing.









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There is a boardwalk on which you have to stay in order to not disturb the breeding penguins, but right next to it is another beach where you can walk on the sand and go swimming. There are some rocks over / under which you can climb through in order to get to the next part of the beach which was quite fun. This is where we went next. And it was so worth it. There were still quite a few penguins that just sat on some stones and pretty much didn't care what was going on around them. Also we saw a couple of dassies and one lizard on top of a rock.














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Great Pinguin shots, glad you have returned to your report. :)

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From the penguin beach, we continued to drive around the Cape Peninsula. At the Cape itself, we went for a short hike to the lighthouse which was really nice. From there, we went back to Cape Town along the other side of the coast. What a scenic drive! We stopped at a few places and really enjoyed the drive.


In Cape Town, we stayed at Parkers Cottage which was amazing. We were recommended by the very friendly and knowledgeable staff to go to a restaurant called The Fork. The food was just great. We ate a variety of their small platters and were very delighted about the recommendation. Back at the B&B, we called it an early night as we had planned to climb Table Mountain very early in the morning to see the sunrise. The plan was to hike up and take the cable car down - well, that was at least the plan... Didn't quite turn out like that.


So at 3:30am, we left the B&B and drove up to Table Mountain. It was pitch dark so it was a little challenge to find the trail head and the parking lot, but we managed. I decided to go in shorts, a top and a fleece and packed a softshell jacket in order to cope with the wind on top of the mountain. But boy it was cold. I wore all my clothing very soon and was happy about the exercise which kept me warm. As we hiked up, we stopped a couple of times to watch the sun rise. Really amazing. When we reached the second half of the hike, we were passed by a few enthusiastic small groups and single people. It turns out Cape Townians like to hike Table Mountain on Sundays as an exercise instead of going to the gym! What a great idea. However I am not sure if I wanted to do that once every week, it was rather strenuous for me. The highest "mountain" about 100km around the place where I live is about 100m tall so I am not used to waking uphill. On the top it was really windy and I was freeeeeezing! As the cable car only starts running at 9am, we had some time on top of Table Mountain. We walked around quite a bit and finally found a spot close to the shop (which was closed) that was not that windy. A very nice lady we met there was also chilly and told us that the cable car would not run while it was that windy... Oh no. So we checked on the internet and indeed, no cable car. The weather forecast was also not very good so the cable car was not expected to run for at least the next couple of hours. So this meant we had to walk down again. Well, the exercise kept us warm again and then finally the sun came out! I was glad we brought more than enough water. While we hiked back down, there was a lot more people going up, so it was good that we started early. And it was getting really hot. By the time we reached the car I was back in shorts and the top and was not freezing any more!


The breakfast after this hike tasted as good as never before ;) We just enjoyed sitting again and having some food as well as a shower. As we hadn't seen much of Cape Town so far and only had another night before going back home, we decided that we still wanted to explore the town by foot despite our soar muscles. So that's what we did - even though in a slow pace. In the evening, we had an African dinner. After another night and a tasty early breakfast we had to go to the airport and say goodbye to Africa - but I was already sure I would be back to this beautiful continent soon! This is where the Africa addiction started...






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@@michael-ibk Thank you! I read your Kenya / Rwanda trip report this morning and thought I should better finish mine ;) I'm looking forward to reading more of your adventures, too!

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I've been busy and not followed your journey for a while, but I'm glad to be back - what an amazing trip. Turtles, cheetah, bat ear foxes...we haven't seen any of these, so you know we will go back!


We spent 4 full days in Cape Town, and they were all windy. The cable car did not run on any of those days, so we never made it on top, we are not brave enough and in shape enough to attempt the hike :(

Your pictures from the top are great!


We had pre-purchased cable car tickets as we were warned that lines could be quite long. Of course, we could not use them and when I tried to get them refunded (when we got back home) it was too late. They only refund them within the 2 weeks they are valid for. Oh well...And also due to weather the shark boat was cancelled too...another reason for us to go back.


Kwandwe looks great, and we might include that in a next trip, together with a Garden Route drive.

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