South Africa 2019
From Durban to Cape Town, an adventure over 10 days with South African Tourism, G Adventures, a fun team to explore what the Garden Route has to offer
For the last 10 days of March, 2019, I was lucky enough to embark on a journey to South Africa, on behalf of South African Tourism, partnering with G Adventures.
We were set for a jam-packed itinerary, of wildlife, camping, and experiences, exploring the best there is to offer along the Garden Route from Durban down to Cape Town.
South Africa is a place that has endless adventures, I had travelled through here before, a few years back, but experienced different things, and also was eager to go back.
After arriving in Durban, meeting up with our incredible team of creatives for the week, and our guides, we dusted off the jet-lag, and tried to get a good night sleep at Antseys Backpacker Lodge, before the adventures began the next day.
Our first day was a long drive down to the area called Chintsa, after arriving a couple of hours before sunset, we headed off on our first safari drive. We drove into the safari reserve in the open vehicle, with an amazing guide, being an avid wildlife lover, everything that moved excited me at first. Being back in South Africa, it was so apparent that at any time you could see things that some people never get to witness in a lifetime.
We were ecstatic to find out that we would be crossing paths with some White Rhino, we were all really surprised and excited about this, and the encounter was nothing short of incredible.
Rhino are an animal I hadn’t yet experienced in the wild, their survival and protection is something that has always, and remains so close to my heart.
Soon after our Rhino encounter, we were pretty content with what we had just witnessed and had no idea it was about to get even better.
Just around the corner, was a pride of lions, White Lions.
White Lions are not the same as albino lions, we learnt that this occurs when both parents are carrying the recessive white lion gene, and this hardly ever happens. White lions are not a separate species, they are very similar to African Lions, just with pale fur and bluish eyes.
This affects their ability to stalk and ambush prey, making them naturally weaker in the wild, these traits have enhanced their level of protection. It was truly beautiful to see these animals somewhere they are protected from canned hunting, trophy hunting and cruel captivity trades.
A guide who deserves a special mention here is Branden Young, who taught us so much on these drives about growing up surrounded by these animals, raising orphan animals, the situations between humans and animals in South Africa, and what is being done.
We camped 2 nights at Buccaneers campsite, a quaint little campsite, where we first were introduced to our tents, which we set up and packed up most days, and were our temporary homes for the trip.
During this trip we got to engage our audience through our social media channels, where we would post a poll with two different activities for the following day, and which ever one had the most votes, we would participate in. This included some amazing activities such as quad biking, bungee jumping, sunset sail, safari drives, zip-lining, kayaking among other things.
Our polled activities started in Chintsa, which included one of the most memorable safari drives I have ever had, as it was on a quad bike. We rode for approximately 25km around a reserve home to the big five South African species, and had close witness to some incredible wildlife encounters.
After leaving Chintsa, we headed south to Addo Elephant Park, where we spent the day driving through the park which although is famous for its Elephants, is also home to rhinos, buffalo, lions, zebra, leopards and more.
We bumped into what was by far the biggest herd of elephants I have ever seen, and we also got to witness a couple of Dung Beetles crossing the road, always remember to keep your eyes out for the small things in South Africa!
After a night at Addo Homestead, we headed south to Storms River, set up camp at Tube and Axe camp site, before going to our activity, which for all of us, was kayaking down Storms River in the Tsitsikamma National Park,. It was a really rainy day, overcast, and figured we were about to be in wetsuits anyways so we didn’t let the rain dampen our moods. I partnered up Melissa Findley, now a very close friend, we were both in awe of how beautiful the surroundings were cruising down the river on the kayaks. Storms River is a special place, where the fresh water meets the ocean, is rocky, and can be a place of rapids when heavy water is flowing out to sea. It is bordered by towering Yellowwood trees, it encompasses a marine reserve, home to many species on the salt water side such as scalloped hammerhead sharks, one of my favourite shark species, ( no we didn’t see any, but would have been cool to ! )
The river mouth is salty and slowly becoming fresh water towards the top as you head further inland, until the fresh water dominates, this river is not too deep but incredibly brown in colour!
After a solid paddle, which included floating down the river on what I grew up to know as surf mats, we were all pretty ready for an early night in our tents and some of Lisa ( Our guide from G Adventures ) amazing home cooking.
We travelled the next day to Knysna, a beautiful town where I had visited before, to explore the coastline a bit before we jumped on a sunset cruise on a beautiful boat, where we had dinner and watched the sun go down. The sunset lit up the hills that border the Kynsna Lagoon. We stayed at Knysna Monks Campsite, after this, which was right on the water of the lagoon.
After checking out the Knysna Area, we headed out to Grootvadersbosch National Park, which we all struggled to pronounce more than once, but were all excited to check out the mountains here. This campsite was really special, situated in the mountains, there was such a beautiful backdrop to our campsite.
This area is the most significant stretch of indigenous afromontane forest left in the South-Western Cape, has nearly all of the 35 typical forest tree species, including red alder, ironwood, stinkwood and yellowwood.
It encompasses 250 hectares of indigenous forest in the Langberg region. This area is home to 196 bird species, while bushbuck, baboons and smaller mammals are regularly spotted out on hikes. Endemic to this area if the Forest Emporer Butterfly, and a subspecies of the rare Ghost Frog which only the very lucky may spot. We ended up doing the more challenging hike here, as that is what our audience voted ( and really what I wanted to do anyways ) , watched the sunset from the mountains, and enjoyed the walk through the fresh air of the national park.
Our last day was journeying to Cape Town, to visit the Kwa Thu San Culture Centre, where we learned about the different local languages, history, flora, fauna, and much more. I was eager to explore Cape Town more, as it is a place that I always have loved when I have visited, it has mountains, ocean, colour, and beautiful people.
We were able to see Table Mountain and Lions head not only on our ways into town, and the beach, but also from our accommodation. We had a fun night out in Cape Town, before exploring the beautiful local markets and colourful streets for our final day in South Africa.
I cant thank enough the amazing crew we had on this trip, made some friends for life, and experienced things I will never forget.
To the most amazing crew we had -
Jordan Tually @jordentually
Nicola Easterby @polkadotpassport
Melissa Findley @melissafindley
Oliver Neville @kotravellers @fathomlesslife @fathomless
Kate Torpy @kotravellers
Sam Earp @samearp
And to Nadia, from South African Tourism, you were nothing short of incredible!
Bella, from G Adventures, thankyou for everything you organised and for having the funnest time with us.
Lisa for being an incredible CEO of the trip, bringing so much knowledge and passion to our experience.
Cant wait to share more videos from this trip coming soon, keep your eyes peeled on my Instagram