KAROO ROADTRIP: part 3

The Karoo was our last and final stretch back home. I never really understood what the big deal was with the Karoo. I mean there’s not much to do there and it’s just a wide open vast piece of land. Boy was I ever so wrong! Before we arrived back home, we already started planning our next road trip which would only be about the Karoo!

IMG_1177 (Copy).JPG

We were very unfortunate though that we didn’t get to drive through the Swartberg pass as this is apparently one of the most famous and beautiful passes: the road was washed away on the Prince Albert side of the mountain which made it completely inaccessible. However, the canyons and valleys which we got to drive through almost made up for it and definitely lifted our spirits:

IMG_1173 (Copy).JPG

IMG_1168 (Copy)

IMG_3293 (Copy).JPG

The photos simply don’t do it justice – i took way more videos.

To begin with, we started making our way through the 42 wine farms that are all huddled together at the beginning of the famous Route62, which starts in Rooiberg.

IMG_1166.JPG

Our first stop was Rooiberg Estate itself where we feasted on the most delicious, fresh out the oven croissants. You must stop here! If you don’t fancy a croissant, be sure to stop over at the Four Cousins Estate for some yummy pizzas! When you get to Rooiberg, ask for the Wine Route Map. That will show you where all the wine farms are.

IMG_1125.JPG

IMG_1129.JPG

So with our tummies lined up with some good ol buttery croissants, we started making our way to our first wine farm: Springfield. I must note; all our wine tastings were FREE! With the best service added to that as well! We were in for fun day.

IMG_1130.JPG

IMG_1131.JPG

IMG_1127.JPG

IMG_3203 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3201 (Copy)

We were advised by our fellow travellers in Paternoster to try their white wine as we’ve found a new love for white wine. The wines here weren’t our favourite, but the setting and the views were so relaxing that you don’t have a choice but to just have a good relaxing time here.

Next stop was Excelsior! Now, we know the Excelsior wine and this wouldn’t have been an estate we would’ve picked to visit, but they have a huge drawing card! And that’s that you actually get to blend, bottle and label your own wine! And it only costs R70. To be fair, it’s more of a fun little gimmick but fun it definitely was! We got to taste their red wines first to see which ones we liked. Then we got to blend any of their three red wines, to any percentage which we wanted. They let us taste it first to see if we liked the blend. Once we were happy with our blend, we got to bottle our own wine and then create our own label! I HIGHLY recommend you stop over and do this little activity.

IMG_3211 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3217 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3221 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3225 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3229 (Copy).JPG

IMG_1134.JPG

MEMORIES!

Our next stop was Zandvliet. What a beautiful estate. Unfortunately by now we were running out of time, but there’s just so much to do in these areas! The people at Zandvliet are amazing and SO knowledgeable! We ended up walking away with one of their wines and some gin! I asked if the gin they were selling was available for tasting as it was quite a pricey bottle but I really wanted to buy it. They advised that they didn’t do gin tastings but were more than willing to crack open a bottle for me so that I could have a taste! I mean really! So instead I just bought the bottle. Which was SO worth it.

photo

PHOTO TAKEN IN DURBAN

IMG_3231 (Copy).JPG

From here on it was time for us to make our way to our next accommodation: The Place. I cant express in words how highly I recommend you stay here! It’s affordable, absolutely breathtaking, peaceful and it’s just you and another cottage. We had to drive through 3 different farm gates to get to this place (forget GPS directions) and finally found this tiny cottage tucked away in the mountains.

But before we reached our final destination for the day, we just had to find Ronnie’s Sex Shop! Which has become very famous in the Karoo and on Route62. We finally reached it at about 17:00 and we were so elated to find it still open and quickly pulled in for much needed drink!

IMG_3257 (Copy).JPG

IMG_1144.JPG

IMG_1145.JPG

IMG_1186.JPG

IMG_3246 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3248 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3255 (Copy).JPG

IMG_1184.JPG

WE LEFT OUR MARK!

Back to our accommodation:

IMG_1182.JPG

IMG_1179.JPG

IMG_1152 (Copy).JPG

IMG_1153 (Copy).JPG

IMG_1181.JPG

IMG_3283 (Copy).JPG

We were so sorry that we only ended up staying here for one night and strongly contemplated on staying another night. It was a tough decision but we decided to move on. Budget was starting to come into play as we decided to change our route back home as well and would have to book into another BnB along the way.

So the next day we hit the road again, heading towards Beaufort West, through Oudtshoorn.

IMG_3344 (Copy).JPG

IMG_1209.JPG

We did a quick stop over at another little Wine Farm before we hit the long open road. By now we were seasoned wine drinkers and bought bottles at every place we stopped! Sadly, not many bottles made it back home with us.

IMG_3297 (Copy).JPG

Our next stop was the Karoo National Park. It’s not a very long drive from where we stayed, which made it possible for us to enjoy a nice relaxing drive. However, the closer we got to Beaufort, the bigger the storm got that was awaiting us!

IMG_3302 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3305 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3308 (Copy).JPG

 

IMG_3309 (Copy).JPG

We literally made it just in time!

IMG_1189.JPG

IMG_1198.JPG

The Karoo National Park is not your normal game reserve in terms of it’s landscape. Normal game reserves are rather flat, with dense trees and bushes. This place, is extremely mountainous with hardly any trees and bushes! Having said that, you would think spotting animals would be easy! We spotted a few, but they were so far away we could hardly pick them up on our cameras. Beautiful reserve, with very interested roads and passes.

IMG_1194 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3321 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3322 (Copy).JPG

We camped here for two nights. We enjoyed their tiny hike through the camp site area, which takes you through their fossil section which was rather interesting to see. Being in the bush, naturally has this calming effect on us and we ended up having a really lovely stay here and managed to unwind completely before our last stop before we headed home.

IMG_3327 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3331 (Copy).JPG

Last and final stop: Clarens!

IMG_3347 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3351 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3352 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3353 (Copy).JPG

We decided to change our route here and rather drive through Bloemfontein and stay in Clarens for one night. That was we only had a short 4 hour drive home. We stayed in Clarens just for one night. I must admit, I was shocked at how expensive Clarens was! We decided we were just going to eat out while we were there as we didn’t feel like missioning with cooking etc. We went out for dinner at Clementines which is apparently one of their more famous restaurants. It was a lovely experience, but bit old fart. Definitely not a place to just hang out and have a few drinks and chat to some local people. Nevertheless, we had a lovely meal and a lovely time.

IMG_3355 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3358 (Copy).JPG

After our larney dinner we decided to head on over to the German restaurant which was way more our kind of vibe. Here we carried on drinking and tried to soak up our final last evening of our trip and what it had all meant for us. And to be honest, we can’t put it into words. Friends ask us how the trip was and we find it very difficult to express what we had just been through. It was life changing. And we simply can’t wait to go back that beautiful part of the world that has stolen BIG pieces of our heart and soul.

IMG_3362 (Copy).JPG

IMG_1216.JPG

4639 kilometers later and we were back home. It was surreal to be back home after such a long time. Our home almost didn’t feel like our home. It was so unfamiliar. Like we didn’t belong.

To our next journey!

 

CAPE TOWN-WEST COAST: roadtrip part 2

We finally arrived in the Mother City after a long, but pleasant drive from Knysna.

IMG_1202.JPG

IMG_0999 (Copy).JPG

Our amazing friends were kind enough to open their house to two very smelly, very tired travellers. A soft bed was a welcome treat after camping for over a week! We arrived at their place with as much excitement as a 5 year old at Christmas! Of course, drinks got cracked open and we had a much needed catch up! We eventually headed out to Jerry’s which is a super delicious burger bar in Blaauwberg (there’s a few apparently) and before I knew it the tequila’s started flowing and who knew you could head bang to Enya!

The next morning we woke up feeling a bit rough but luckily it was a cold stormy day so a slow relaxing day was on the cards! We headed out to Melkbos and spent the morning there exploring and, of course, eating.

IMG_1004 (Copy)

IMG_1007 (Copy)

IMG_2979 (Copy)

img_2980-copy.jpg

That evening it was Lumineers time! The purpose of our whole trip! Before the show we headed out to Fat Cactus for a quick bite to eat (and more tequilas).

IMG_1013 (Copy)

IMG_1011 (Copy)

IMG_1021 (Copy)

IMG_2985

IMG_3001

For a chilled band, they put on a spectacular performance! Husband wasn’t really ever a big fan of their music, but even he loved it and has a new found appreciation for their music. One part which was hilarious were these three cape coloured guys next to us, dressed like real gangsters, singing every word to every song with almost more passion than the band itself! It was hilarious to watch.

The next day was the public holiday so we ventured out to The Spice Route which is where the CBC brewery is and enjoyed a lovely day of beer tasting and more eating! This place has about 5 different little businesses from the beer tasting, to grappa tasting, to chocolate pairing, an ice cream parlour and a delicious german / pizza restaurant, for you to enjoy!

IMG_1026 (Copy).JPG

IMG_1027 (Copy).JPG

IMG_1030 (Copy)

IMG_1046 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3006 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3009 (Copy)

IMG_3011 (Copy)

IMG_3014 (Copy)

Im not exactly a beer drinker (as shown above) but the guys are so knowledgeble about the industry etc that it makes the whole experience so worth it. And for R40 each, why the hell not! We headed down to the restaurant and enjoyed some delicious pizzas!

IMG_1042 (Copy)

IMG_1037 (Copy)

IMG_3005 (Copy)

IMG_1035 (Copy).JPG

After such an amazing day we headed out to Blue Peter to enjoy a magnificent sunset over a bottle of wine. This place is clearly the hub of the little town as all the local residents grabbed their blankets from home and headed down to enjoy the sunset with a live band jamming away in the background. Perfect end to the perfect day.

IMG_3027 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3033 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3028 (Copy)

IMG_3034 (Copy)

The next day we headed out to the Boschendal wine farm and this is officially where Husband and I learned to drink white wine! Two bottles later in fact. At Boschendal they offer picnic packages: we opted for the Werf Picnic which is basically spreading yourself out on the most beautiful lawns drinking delicious wine and snacking away on even more delicious food! This place is totally worth it!!

IMG_1053 (Copy).JPG

IMG_1057 (Copy).JPG

IMG_1062 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3046 (Copy).JPG

img_1065-copy.jpg

IMG_1059 (Copy).JPG

IMG_1067 (Copy).JPG

IMG_1068 (Copy).JPG

IMG_1079.JPG

I mean, you get the picture right!

Now if sitting on the lawn is not your style, they have a lovely restaurant area as well where you get to enjoy their delicious treats! Do yourself a favour and go there! Also, buy their Karoo olive oil – it’s the closest oil we’ve tasted to the olive oil we’ve had in Italy! At the back of the entrance they have a gigantic veggie garden where all their ingredients get grown, plus, they sell it at the little deli! I should become their marketing agent.

IMG_1081.JPG

IMG_1073.JPG

By now, Cape Town has taken most of our energy up and it was time for us to move on to our next destination; Paternoster!

It was a terribly windy drive to Paternoster as the road is just straight and narrow but luckily this is a quick drive from Cape Town and we arrived in Paternoster in no time! We stayed at a truly amazing place called Sea Shack. What we liked about this place is that it’s just outside Paternoster town, and more closer to Tietiesbaai, which is far more quiet and peaceful. We didn’t realise how mixed the town was between the locals and all the tourist attractions, which brings a bit of charm to the place i think.

IMG_1207.JPG

IMG_1093.JPG

IMG_1106 (Copy).JPG

IMG_1108 (Copy)

IMG_1107 (Copy).JPG

IMG_1117 (Copy).JPG

IMG_1116 (Copy).JPG

The town is small but there’s loads to do! We parked the car off and decided to take a walk through the town and visit all of the little shops. We came across a little shop called Jams en Pantoffels where the owner of the shop treated us to a delicious honey tasting! From smoked honey, to coffee honey, to eucalyptus honey, you name it. We walked away with the eucalyptus honey from Swartland. It tastes world apart from the honey that we get in the shops. That’s what I loved most about our trip – the food. People have such passion with their food and what a difference it is from the food we get back home from our ‘local’ shops. We are missing out on the good life, I tell you. There are loads of restaurants to eat at, but do yourself a favour and walk down to the beach and grab a fish and chips from the little take-away container down at the bottom. Apparently, the best you will ever have! We grabbed a yummy pizza at the local pizza restaurant where they had their local band playing us some old Afrikaans folk music. It was hilarious and so much fun to watch, that even the Husband started speaking Afrikaans without even realising it! We spent most of our time at Sea Shack because with a view like that, how could you not!

IMG_1092.JPG

IMG_1098

IMG_1123

IMG_1095.JPG

We made a fire every night in the huge boma where you get to meet all the other guests and hear all their stories. We met a really awesome couple that lives in Wellington and they gave us such amazing tips of which wine farms to try out on the next leg of our trip. We tried almost every single one of their list and it did not disappoint! Thank you Lize and Daniel!

IMG_3127 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3128 (Copy)

IMG_3140 (Copy)

IMG_3142 (Copy)

IMG_3156 (Copy)

Next stop: KAROO!!  Part 3 of our trip.

GARDEN ROUTE ROADTRIP: part 1

It all started with a little band from Colorado called The Lumineers. I absolutely love their music but sadly missed their concert when they came to South Africa about 3 years ago. But, as luck would have it, they decided to come back for another visit and I knew this was my chance to see them! Husband surprized me with tickets to their Cape Town show and that’s how this whole trip came about.

I started planning immediately. The more I planned the more I realised what a mammoth roadtrip we were undertaking and my excitement got a little overshadowed by nerves. This is a long time to be driving and we only had two and a half weeks to do it. Nevertheless, we were committed.

our final route:

Untitled 2

Thursday morning, 20 April, we woke up super early and hit the road for our first leg of the trip: Transkei / Coffee Bay. You can’t beat the Transkei. All the worries at home immediately disappear the moment you step your foot onto the beach sand. There’s a sense of freedom in the Transkei. I will admit (warn?), the locals are quite in your face with always trying to sell you ‘things’ or trying to be your tour guide etc. You just need to be firm with them from the word go and they will leave you alone. This works, most of the time…We only stayed for one night as we’ve spent lots of time in the Transkei before and rather kept our days for other places we haven’t been. We stayed at Coffee Shack which is a super awesome backpackers with really awesome facilities. Upon arrival we received a very welcome complimentary drink which we gulped down. If you decide to stay there, make sure you take the 8km hike to Hole in the Wall. Sadly we didn’t have time to do that but did manage a quick drive to this amazing beach.

IMG_0828 (Copy)

IMG_0846 (Copy).JPG

IMG_0850 (Copy).JPG

IMG_0860 (Copy).JPG

IMG_0861 (Copy).JPG

IMG_0864 (Copy).JPG

IMG_2822 (Copy).JPG

IMG_2823 (Copy).JPG

IMG_2806 (Copy).JPG

IMG_2812 (Copy)

IMG_2813 (Copy)

We set off the following day towards Hogsback which is inland. This place was our biggest surprize of the entire trip. We’ve never heard of it and am so glad we found it! What a magical place. Really. The backpackers we stayed at was called Away with the Fairies and what a delight this place was! Backpackers is such a winning form of accommodation. Its affordable, (we camped mostly), the facilities are great and you always meet the most interesting people. Our first night we arrived just before sunset and managed to get our camp going before complete darkness took over.

IMG_2874 (Copy).JPG

We made a little braai and drank delicious wine before setting off for bed. It’s pretty much cold all year round so make sure you pack ALL your warm clothes. In the middle of the night I got woken up by footsteps which set me into a panic. We were the only campers so who’se fussing about our tent in the middle of the night! Then I heard the snorting and the grunting and the chewing of sticks. Pigs! We had wild pigs pay us a visit which was at first, terrifying because we shoved all our food in our tent (first mistake) but was also so excited because we had wild pigs sniffing around our tent. I did secretly wish for them to go about their business much further from our tent but they seemed to like our spot. The next morning we woke up and went on a little scavenging hunt looking for any signs of the pigs but couldn’t really notice anything. So instead we went and had breakfast at the most amazing view ever.

IMG_0888 (Copy)

IMG_0887 (Copy)

We threw on our shoes and set about on an adventurous hike! It’s about 5 hours long and the walk back is mainly just on a dirt road which is very average but if you have the energy you can head back the way you came instead.

IMG_0907 (Copy).JPG

IMG_0908 (Copy).JPG

IMG_0909 (Copy)

IMG_2867.JPG

IMG_2871 (Copy)

IMG_2869 (Copy).JPG

This hike sapped all of my energy out of me and I was completely exhausted. Luckily, this place has the best spot to unwind and soak up all of their beauty after an exhausting day like we had:

IMG_2840 (Copy).JPG

IMG_0893 (Copy).JPG

IMG_0899 (Copy)

IMG_0900 (Copy)

Jip, a real bath for you to enjoy any time of the day! Now I just need to make a point of how amazing this bath is: Husband is not a bather. He’s bathed once in the 7 years that I’ve know him and only because he had stitches in his leg and had no other choice. So getting him in the bath took a lot of persuasion (bullying) but once i got him in, I could not get him out. That’s how amazing it is.

After our amazing bath we felt completely rejuvenated and vibey, so we settled ourselves in next to the fire pit and had a couple of drinks. 8 hours later we found ourselves with two student Germans and a ginger Irish guy (best kind of Irish folk id say) with way too many drinks behind us and me nearly losing my wallet to the raging fire with about 50% of our holiday money inside it. Needless to say, the drive on the next day was a very very long drive.

Off to the next stop: Knysna! We took a very chilled drive to Knysna on the next day (for obvious reasons) and decided to stop over in P.E. for a quick bite to eat. This is a beautiful route to take and although the drive was a bit longer than we expected, we thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s an easy road to drive with loads to see. Our GPS deceived us however by taking us on a private road to the place we were staying at, only to arrive at a locked gate at the end of the road. This delayed us by an hour and we only got to our place after dark. The road did lead to us seeing a Caracal which is a very rare animal to see and it aaaalmost made up for the terrible road we’ve had to endure. What did make up for it, was the amazing place we stayed at! We stayed at Diepwalle which is in the Knysna Forest. You camp on wooden decks which has been erected in between the trees, so you are literally a couple of meters above ground, in and amongst the trees!

IMG_0945 (Copy).JPG

IMG_2916 (Copy).JPG

What I loved about this place is that each deck has it’s own braai, bar counter area and electricity! I’m all about camping with electricity. It was a unique experience and I 100% recommend you pay this place a visit! Its only about 15mins to Knysna CBD as well. We spent two nights here. We decided not to do any of the hikes but rather go out into to the town and see what’s on offer. I must admit, I was slightly disappointed with Knysna. Don’t get me wrong, the place is exquisite with a very interesting landscape but I found it very commercial and 100% aimed at the foreign market. But if you do happen to find yourself in Knsyna, make sure you go to Il de Pain which is on Thesen Island for the most delicious food and pastries!

IMG_2919 (Copy)

IMG_0951 (Copy).JPG

IMG_0950 (Copy).JPG

IMG_0952 (Copy).JPG

IMG_0957 (Copy).JPG

IMG_0959 (Copy)

IMG_2944 (Copy)

IMG_2935 (Copy)

IMG_2937 (Copy)

IMG_2933 (Copy)

We set off for Cape Town after Knysna which was such an awesome drive! There were loads of padstalletjies along the way. We stopped at a few to buy some homemade treats for our friends which we were staying with in Cape Town. If you have the time: stop at each and every one! They have so much character and you will guaranteed pick up some delicious treats for the rest of your trip.

I’ve decided to break this blog up into a few posts. So keep an eye out for part 2!

 

ENDING OF 2016

For New Years we planned to go to the Drakensberg with a couple of our friends to see the new year in over some beautiful mountains. It had been a while since we paid the berg a visit and it felt amazing to be back. However, other friends of ours dangled the carrot in front of our noses with the proposal that they were going to the bush just before we were set off for the berg. We decided what the heck! Let’s just do both!

We quickly booked our spots and hit the road once again! First stop: Mkhuze. We decided to take the longer, scenic route and enter via the Ophansi Gate. We were aware of the entrance fee which we had to pay, but not aware of the fact that they don’t accept cards, only cash (they failed to mention this on any of our booking forms or websites). I was mad. I just don’t understand how game reserves as popular as these have such rigid rules. There was no negotiating of paying at the main camp and returning with the slips etc. It was, drive back 60km (on a dirt road) to the first available ATM and withdraw the cash. Luckily our friends had already arrived and they had cash on them. An hour later we were all paid up and ready to finally enter the park! (p.s. don’t bother entering via Ophansi Gate. It’s not that scenic.) We had booked into one the rest huts which were quite comfortable and enjoyable. It doesn’t have it’s own kitchen or bathroom, but it’s certainly comfortable enough to spend a couple of days in. It does at least have a fridge and a kettle though.

DSC08851 (Copy).JPG

DSC08853 (Copy).JPG

We arrived just in the nick of time before one of the most spectacular storms I had ever seen decided to break lose from the sky. Thunder, lightning, gusting winds, rain, hail – we had it all. It lasted a good hour before dying down, just enough time to water the park amply and cool off the park from the scorching sun.

IMG_2560.JPG

IMG_2577.JPG

IMG_2578.JPG

IMG_2579.JPG

The park was lush and green but animals were scarce. We suspect the park is still recovering from the dramatic drought it had been through. Nevertheless, we were very lucky to spot some wild dogs, as well as cheetahs among the few animals we were to able to find. We enjoyed early morning drives, with delicious warm Amarula Coffee (thanks garreth and heather – definitely a new favourite!) and rusks and again sundowners at the viewpoint overlooking the Vulture Restaurant in the afternoons.

16107481_197239267416202_8309780669683039777_o.jpg

IMG_0323.JPG

DSC08860 (Copy).JPG

DSC08863 (Copy).JPG

DSC08864 (Copy).JPG

DSC08866 (Copy).JPG

DSC08867 (Copy).JPG

DSC08870 (Copy).JPG

DSC08877 (Copy).JPG

DSC08921 (Copy).JPG

IMG_0266.JPG

I got extremely excited when I heard the call of a Bushbaby, as I hadn’t seen one in years! I absolutely love those little, wide-eyed furry animals. Turns out, they were right on our friend’s roof! And, the mother was transporting her tiny little babies from one tree to another. It was an exciting sighting and right on our doorstep! Literally.

The days went fast and before we knew it, we were ready for our next leg of the trip: the Drakensberg.

DSC08923 (Copy).JPG

DSC08929 (Copy).JPG

We took the very long, very scenic route via Jozini, Dundee, Vryheid, Ladysmith all the way to Bergville. What a beautiful route. It took us a good 7 hours to get to the berg, but it was well worth the trip. Having said that, we were chasing a pretty spectacular storm and had arrived just in time to set up our camp before the rains came pouring down. This route provides plenty of pit stops and fueling points which made for a must less stressful drive.

img_2595

IMG_2594.JPG

IMG_0270.JPG

IMG_0273.JPG

IMG_0271.JPG

 

IMG_0353.JPG

IMG_0354.JPG

DSC08935 (Copy).JPG

DSC08933 (Copy).JPG

The weather was rather extreme, from boiling hot days, to chilly nights, to the most dramatic storms yet again! The first storm we experienced wasn’t too bad. We had some water running through our campsites which made it a bit unpleasant but we stuck it out. The next storm however, on the following day, was a different story. The dam walls literally broke lose and our entire campsite got washed away. We were a group of 12 friends, each with either a spade or bucket or a tin cup in their hand, trying to scoop as much water away, digging trenches, blocking holes, you name it! It was damage control to the max. We eventually got known as ‘the family with the buckets’ amongst our fellow campers. The hail came down and by now we were all completely drenched but we didn’t care. We actually had a lot of fun and we came to the conclusion that we had the perfect group of friends who would survive any crisis. The weather eventually cleared up and we ended up having a beautiful evening. We showered, warmed up, and simply continued with our festivities.The next day, however, we all kind of felt that we couldn’t do another storm like that, and started talking about leaving a day early. With a few confirmed weather reports, the weather stayed clear. We spent the day swimming and playing in the river, making delicious food, and just chilling out.

IMG_0296.JPG

photo by Jules

It was an amazing end to a rather rollercoaster year. 2016 was emotional, and tiresome and I just know that 2017 is going to be an amazing year!

Next trip: road trip to Cape Town!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KOSI BAY, JOU LEKKER DING

The plan for our one year wedding anniversary was to go to Ndaka which is situated inside Nambiti and probably one of the most amazing places you could go to! Unfortunately, this year went by in a blink of an eye and so before we knew it, our anniversary was two months away and we didn’t save any money for this luxurious holiday. So we headed over to plan B – Kosi Bay.

We came across Utshwayelo lodge in the September issue of Getaway Magazine where they had an article of the 24 most affordable places to go to in South Africa. This place has actually been featured a few times so we decided to give it a bash!

We booked our leave and again, stayed over at the brother in-law’s place the night before, where we enjoyed a very larney dinner at The Chef’s table.

We hit the road fairly early the next morning, as we had a 6 hour drive ahead of us (apparently we drive really slow, as this is supposedly only about a 4 hour drive).

IMG_3716 (Copy).JPG

The drive went quick as it’s such a beautiful drive to that side of the world. We didn’t realise how far Kosi Bay actually was and almost wished we had taken another day’s leave considering the far drive. In case you were wondering, Kosi Bay is right on the border of Mozambique. In fact, we had to switch our data off on our phones as it picks up the Mozambique network and you could potentially sit with a hefty phone bill due to roaming.

When we arrived we had a couple of hours of precious sun left for the day, so we quickly checked in, threw on our cozzies and headed down to the beach. You can only get to the beach with 4×4. This was the first time we took our toy onto the beach and got a little nervous at all the soft, thick sand, and unexpected huge puddles of water as well as rickity wooden bridges.

IMG_3762 (Copy).JPG

It was quite a drive, and we were certain we had gotten lost as the terrain went all over the place at one stage. You definitely want to venture down to the beach during low tide, otherwise you would be stranded. But once we arrived, we were blown away by the beautiful beach!

DSC08767 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3731 (Copy).JPG

DSC08769 (Copy).JPG

DSC08782 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3753 (Copy).JPG

Unfortunately the sun didn’t last long, and we had quite gloomy weather over that weekend, but that didn’t dampen our spirits. That weekend was all about relaxing.

img_3718-copy

My favourite thing about the whole place was the ‘honesty bar’. The bar was completely unattended and you literally just helped yourself to whatever was there, and all you had to do was write it down in the little book provided. The local cats are super friendly too and a real joy to sit and watch. We had a massive storm on our first night there. We were having a yummy braai, and decided that with the first BIG drops, we would move. The words hadn’t even left our mouths yet when the heavens burst open and we had torrential rains pouring down on us (i see a pattern here with all our trips). Luckily there was plenty of shelter so we quickly moved our braai undercover. We spent the rest of the evening in the dining area, enjoying our dinner over a delicious bottle of red wine, playing some board games whilst the most spectacular storm was rumbling away above us.

IMG_3739 (Copy).JPG

 

IMG_3741 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3756 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3757 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3760 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3763 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3764 (Copy).JPG

The weekend went by quick so we decided on our drive home to stop over at Hluhluwe and drive through the park. I was extremely disappointed and mad when we arrived, only to find that their card machines didn’t work and with no cash on hand, they had no back up plan. This infuriated me. Hluhluwe is one of the most popular parks in South Africa, and to not have a back up plan to something as common as their card machines not working, was completely unacceptable to me. And so we got turned away. This was NOT how we wanted to end our anniversary weekend. So we drove back the way we came, in complete silence. Couple of km’s later, we got pulled over for speeding. R1200 fine which the husband managed to get out of. Now we had mixed feelings of joy of getting out of such a hefty speeding fine, but still disappointed that we had to drive straight home. So, we decided to go through Umfolozi, which was a bit out of the way. When we arrived at the gates, we told them about our ordeal at Hluhluwe and they were completely shocked and couldn’t believe we got turned away.

We spent the next couple of hours oohing and aahing at all the beautiful animals we spotted, and left the park at the Ulundi Gate. We were lucky enough to see a MASSIVE herd of elephants!

DSC08801 (Copy).JPG

DSC08808 (Copy).JPG

DSC08827 (Copy).JPG

IMG_3750 (Copy).JPG

The trip back took a good 10 hours but we got to see a beautiful part of our country that we’ve never seen and probably never will again which made the trip totally worth it.

I’ve come to the conclusion that husband and I are great travelling partners and no matter what journey we take, it’s always an adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

Lesotho

This whole trip started off with my deep desire to see Clarens. A small, quaint little town, about 4 hours away from home. I started doing a  bit of research and realised how close Lesotho is to Clarens. I immediately suggested to husband that we should go to Clarens via Lesotho and make a massive road trip out of it. Sad to say that although Lesotho is a small country, it takes days and days to travel through it. Days we didn’t have. So we decided to leave Clarens for another trip on its own, and put our focus on Lesotho.

We did minimum planning. The biggest planning was getting our gear in order. But for the rest of the trip, we just kind of went with the flow. We had a basic route of where we wanted to go, but that was about it. It’s the best way to travel in my opinion. It gives you freedom to come and go as you wish and you are never pressed for time. Of course, when entering a new country, always do a bit of research in terms of border posts, documents required, those general kinds of things. Always read up about the country too.

I’m also happy to report that we’ve come a long way from our last camping trip and have quickly upped our status to ‘pros’.

IMG_1975 (Copy).JPG

IMG_1979 (Copy).JPG

Day 1:

We decided to stay just outside the Lesotho border in Matatiele. More specifically, Cedarville. I was pleasantly surprized at the beauty of that side of the world. We stayed at Cedarberg Guest Farm. A beautiful little farm tucked away in a quiet little corner. This was our first opportunity to test out our new camping gear. This place has power points so charge whatever you can here, because if you are camping in Lesotho – good luck in finding power points.

I won’t lie. I thought we were prepared for the cold. We bought thermo clothing, brought extra extra blankets for us to lie ON and underneath. But no. This side of the world has a special kind of cold. The kind of cold that seeps through your bones and almost freezes everything within you. I didn’t sleep on the first night of our trip due to the cold. Husband is like a heater all on his own so he was feeling a bit better than I was. We made a lovely fire however, and watched the most incredible stars. It was a good first day.

IMG_1998 (Copy).JPG

IMG_1991 (Copy).JPGimg_1992-copy

IMG_2001 (Copy).JPG

Day 2:

Husband and I were up and about rather early due to the lack of sleep. We kept brekkie to a minimum and quickly got ourselves packed up and ready for the big trip ahead. There are a few border posts / passes to enter from this side. Qachas Nek, Ongeluksnek and Ramatsiliso. Qachas Nek is ideal for travelers with cars as its tarred. Ongeluksnek is for more experienced 4x4ers and with us being on our own we decided it would be rather stupid of us to go up there, so we settled for Ramatsiliso which is a pass less traveled, but easy enough for amateur 4x4ers, i.e. us. The entire road before and after the pass is accessible by car, except for a tiny 10 meter stretch at the border post itself where you literally go down a mountain. No car will make it out alive.

SONY DSC

IMG_2010 (Copy).JPG

img_2011-copy

IMG_2013 (Copy).JPG

IMG_2005 (Copy).JPG

IMG_2017 (Copy).JPG

The people were extremely chilled and friendly at this border post.

We were heading to Sethlabatebe National Park which is mind blowingly beautiful. That’s the place you go if you want to hike. But having said that, we didn’t have such great experience there but I think it would’ve been a lot better if we were in a group. We arrived late in the afternoon to this beautiful place tucked away in the mountains. When we arrived, I think we were lucky enough to bump into the only staff member in the entire camp. She was very friendly and helpful and showed us around a bit but once we left to have a look around, we never saw her again. Or any one else for that matter.

There’s two areas where you can camp: one by the lodges, and if you drive further on there’s another, more secluded spot. The place was a bit creepy in the sense that there were absolutely no people. The dorm, which I guessed is the only place you can shower and use the bathroom, was locked up and completely baron. We decided to drive back to where the lodge was and rather camp there. The wind picked up and the sun was setting so we quickly started putting the tent up. By the time we got everything out, the wind had picked up to hurricane levels (this all seems very familiar from our last camping trip). We literally couldn’t get the tent up and husband was in the most joyful mood as you can imagine. We stuffed everything back in the car. No shelter. No food and the sun is setting. We took a quick walk around looking for a sheltered area to set up camp, and this was the best we could find:

DSC08579 (Copy).JPG

Once we set up camp the moods ligthened up, the wine came out and we were able to relax a bit and enjoy ourselves.

DSC08584 (Copy).JPG

SONY DSC

 

We made a little braai and put on the chicken when we suddenly saw this person walking towards us. Being new to the country and not knowing what the vibe is here with the people, we got a bit nervous. Turns out he is the guard. I was so relieved to find out that we weren’t completely alone! But then he wouldn’t leave us alone. He didn’t really talk to us either. It got really weird after a while. And then we saw flashlights on the side of the mountain next to us: local soldiers making their way to a soccer game. That was a good conversation starter with the guard but died out quickly. And there we stood. In silence. For about an hour. Watching our chicken cook away. Maybe he wanted food? Eventually he just snuck off without saying a word. I was so relieved. We enjoyed a little dinner and went off to bed. I couldn’t really sleep again. I felt so vulnerable being in this place completely by ourselves with absolutely no power. Pitch darkness.I must’ve dozed off as I remember waking up to severe winds outside. Our tent had lost all its pegs and was hanging on for dear life. The wind was so extremely hectic and this with us in a sheltered nook. There we lie, watching our tent blowing from one side to the next. Suddenly a flash of light. What was that?? At first I panicked that it was a fire from our braai we made earlier. It was very dry there. No. The light is too white. Not orange or red. Then it flashes again but in a different spot. I stick my head out the tent. Nothing. I did however see that all our stuff that was outside blew over. I get back into the tent. Flash again! Husband sticks his head out. Nothing. We retreated to bed. With the wind howling over our heads, lights flashing next to us (still no idea what it was) and completely alone. We did not sleep. Eventually the sun came up and I have never been more happy for morning to arrive! Until I popped my head out the tent. The guard was back. We asked if there was anyone to take us hiking as there were no maps / brochures available to enquire about. No one. I was so disappointed. Here we are in this beautiful park and there was no one to take us hiking. We decided to pack up and head to our next destination. All the while with the guard standing there the entire time, watching us pack up.

DSC08561 (Copy).JPG

DSC08562 (Copy).JPG

DSC08565 (Copy).JPG

DSC08566 (Copy).JPG

DSC08569 (Copy).JPG

DSC08568 (Copy).JPG

IMG_2024 (Copy).JPG

IMG_2021 (Copy).JPG

We hit the road again. We had to ask a couple of locals if we were heading in the right direction as there are no road names or area names, which makes maps kind of pointless. What lied ahead was an 8 hour trek through mountain passes, canyons, riverbeds and lots of tiny little towns. It was an exhausting drive, but definitely worth it and one I will always remember.

IMG_2009 (Copy).JPG

IMG_2036 (Copy).JPG

see that snow way up high – next thing we knew, we were literally driving right next to it.

IMG_2043 (Copy).JPG

IMG_2044 (Copy).JPG

We had just driven up – you can see the tiny road in the middle.

IMG_2047 (Copy).JPG

IMG_2053 (Copy).JPG

img_2055-copy

IMG_2056 (Copy).JPG

IMG_2058 (Copy).JPG

We made it! Now. What goes up, must go down.

DSC08616 (Copy).JPG

DSC08622 (Copy).JPG

DSC08623 (Copy).JPG

IMG_2066 (Copy).JPG

IMG_2068 (Copy).JPG

We finally arrived in Roma, where we stayed over at the Trading Post. We decided that we didn’t care how much the accommodation would be – we are NOT camping tonight! This place is super awesome and we really enjoyed staying here, but if you have the time, do yourself a favour and take the extra 30min drive to Ramabanta and stay there instead. Breath taking. Back to Roma. Turns out the accommodation is actually really affordable with choices of a room, rondavel or camping. Rondavels are always the better option.

 

IMG_2081 (Copy).JPG

IMG_2084 (Copy).JPG

IMG_2087 (Copy).JPG

IMG_2092 (Copy).JPG

We woke up feeling so refreshed, having our first night of proper sleep. We made delicious breakfast and eventually hit the road again. We planned on staying at Ramabanta but when we realised how close it was to Roma and to our next stop after that, Semonkong, we decided that it would be a bit of a waste to stay there. We were a bit disappointed actually that we didn’t stay there, because it was so incredibly beautiful. So we decided to spend the morning there and go for a little hike. Finally.

IMG_2107 (Copy).JPG

 

IMG_2115 (Copy).JPG

SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

DSC08638 (Copy).JPG

DSC08643 (Copy).JPG

DSC08644 (Copy).JPG

DSC08646 (Copy).JPG

DSC08657 (Copy).JPG

DSC08655 (Copy).JPG

DSC08658 (Copy).JPG

DSC08669 (Copy).JPG

This drive was a lovely quick one and before we knew it, we arrived at our last destination: Semonkong. What a place. There is so much to do here, so I would definitely suggest staying at least 3 days. We are planning on coming back here just to do the Donkey Pub Crawl!

The owners are amazing and so laid back. Being the 5th generation in their family to run the place, we really enjoyed hearing all their stories over a couple of drinks at the bar. Our favourite was the ‘highway’ going through the lodge for all the locals with their sheep and donkeys.

DSC08682 (Copy).JPG

Our first night we decided to take it easy and just relax. We made a yummy potjie and enjoyed a couple of drinks at the bar whilst it was cooking away. The next day we took an early morning horse ride to the famous waterfall in Semonkong. This was a slow walk on a horse, and I think we would’ve preferred to do the actual hike to the bottom of the waterfall instead of the horse ride. Another reason to go back. I tried finding the spot where my special friends got engaged but all the spots were so amazing, so it was a bit difficult to spot the right one. I asked the local guide to take a picture of us with our polariod. This guy was so blown away by this ‘magic’ and wished to take the polaroid camera to one of their local parties. We spent the rest of our time there relaxing and unwinding.

DSC08670 (Copy).JPG

 

img_2132-copy

IMG_2134 (Copy).JPG

IMG_2137 (Copy).JPG

IMG_2142 (Copy).JPG

IMG_2161 (Copy).JPG

 

DSC08685 (Copy).JPG

DSC08706 (Copy).JPG

IMG_2192 (Copy).JPG

trying out vetkoek for the first time

 

IMG_2195 (Copy).JPG

IMG_2198 (Copy).JPG

DSC08716 (Copy).JPG

IMG_2175 (Copy).JPG

DSC08722 (Copy).JPG

DSC08728 (Copy).JPG

DSC08734 (Copy).JPG

DSC08752 (Copy).JPG

IMG_2190 (Copy).JPG

And with that, our trip came to an end. I have fallen inlove with Lesotho and can’t wait to go back to see more of this beautiful country!

DSC08765 (Copy).JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

let’s go camping, they said

Husband and I planned a very last minute camping trip to Mkhuze game reserve over the long weekend in April. I used to camp a lot growing up, with my family, but once I left the nest, our camping skills haven’t really been put to the test – we were the adults now in charge.

We really wanted to take our new toy (the suzuki jimny) off road and into the bush to see what she can do. So we started planning. We had our meals planned out, checklists, booking forms etc.Usually when we go away we stay over at the husband’s brother’s place the first night as that takes a good hour off our trip. Come Friday night, the car is packed, and we are ready to go. Or so we thought.

First off I should mention, that the husband is still warming up to our new toy. So when the car was packed full to the brim with just two night’s camping stuff for two people, he was less than impressed. Not a good start. So off we go. When we reached La Lucia, I realised I had forgotten all forms of sharp knives. Nothing to cut the massive butternut with, for our potjie. All we had, was a tiny blunt butter knife. A little further on, husband realised that we forgot our cheese, for our cheese and wine lunch we had planned. Not a worry, we popped over to woolies and that problem got sorted out quickly. When we reached Ballito, a sudden shock was sent over my body. We forgot all our bedding!! (I use the word ‘we’ very loosely) Ok, not a problem, we are heading over to husband’s brothers place – they can help us. We decided to stop at one of the restaurants in Ballito to have a little dinner and a nice glass of wine. Just to get over all the things that are going wrong so far. We sit down, and I order some wine. I run back to the car as the wind has picked up and the air has become rather chilly. As i open the back door, out come our wine, smashing into the parking lot. This is not good. I pick up all the broken glass, cutting my hand in the process, but luckily not too bad. I get back to the table and husband immediately knew something was up. I told him what happened, and we both just started laughing. We could still turn back and go home. But we had a bigger goal in mind – Botswana. We needed to see what level our camping skills are for our big Botswana trip. Well let’s just say Botswana won’t be seeing us any time soon.

The next day we set off nice and early.

13131375_10153425414770899_4110441050766359347_o.jpg

The weather was terrible, but I love the cold weather, and welcomed it with open arms and warm hugs. Not realising the betrayal coming my way. As we arrived at our campsite, the weather took a turn for the worse. Also, by now we have also realised that we forgot our chairs as well as a braai grid. We try put our tent up, but as we get one peg in, the other one comes popping out. This went on for a good hour, and eventually we got our tent up. Frustrated, dirty and exhausted, we took a nice slow drive through the game reserve. Only to come back a few hours later to discover half our tent had collapsed.

IMG-20160509-WA0002.jpg

before all the shit happened

Right, tent fixed up again. The weather can’t quite make up its mind, toying with our emotions. Should we braai (minus the braai grid) or should I make us some sandwhiches? We went for a quick shower and noticed that the weather has completely calmed down. Excellent! We get the braai going, I pour us some wine (new wine, of course) and just as we settled in (standing, we have no chairs) the wind picked up again. We eventually got some meat and mielies going on the paella pan (full of rust) when torrential rains came bursting from the clouds. We decided to wait it out. Everything is cooking already, let’s just wait it out. To cut a long story short, let’s just say the chicken ended up half raw in the dustbin, the mielies were full of ash, and the only thing left that was edible, were our sweet potatoes. We were drenched, i mean d-r-e-n-c-h-e-d, and freezing cold. We went to bed with no food. Only to realise our tent is now leaking. The blanket we had provided very little warmth and husband and I were literally freezing to death that night.

By the next day, we have had enough. We decided to leave the tent to dry, take a drive through the park again, come back, pack up and get the hell out of there. Camping is shit. However, the next day turned out to be a spectacular day so we decided to stay. I’m glad we did. We made a delicious potjie (using scissors to cut our vegetables, in case you were wondering), had our cheese and wine for lunch, continued drinking wine for the rest of the evening, and went to bed dry, but still freezing cold.

IMG_1301

IMG_1310

 

That was one helluva experience, one I’m glad i get laugh at now and definitely learned a lot of lessons from. Don’t ever go camping. Just safari tent ok.

IMG_1264IMG_1270IMG_1275IMG_1277IMG_1284IMG_1326IMG_1329IMG_1332IMG_1347IMG_1359

 

 

 

 

I dont eat meat

There. I said it. Bring on the haters. Finger pointers. Know it alls. I’ve had a few of those. Not too many, and not too hectic. Most people are really intrigued by this, and mostly want to know: why?

Good question.

The reason: Raw Chicken. Really really raw, sloppy, watery chicken.

The husband and I went to one of our favourite, after work, establishments, for a quick bite to eat. I’m not going to name and shame as I still believe their a pretty good restaurant, they just had a really bad day. With chicken. I took a bite and immediately my taste buds went into a rage of disgust and confusion. And that was it. Every time I’ve tried eating meat after that, I just couldn’t handle the taste. I decided to just listen to my body. No other reason. It had nothing to do with morals or ethics or saving the planet (although I’m a huge cheerleader on all those topics), but simply, listening to my body. My body was clearly rejection this lump of flesh and I thought, let me take a break from meat. And that’s how I’ve been seeing it. Taking a break from meat. Don’t call me a vegetarian. It’s so limiting. When my body tells me that I want to eat that pork sausage, I will have a bite of that pork sausage. It all forms part of listening to my body. So I take a bite. Then have a stern word with my body for deceiving me as every time I have that bite, I either end up spitting out that meat, or have a really sore tummy.

I’m on five months now of no eating meat. I do miss it sometimes. Of course. Who can resist fresh beef burgers or delicious home made chicken schnitzels. What really helps is the support. Husband has been amazing. He eats everything I eat, during the week. All veggies. He’s  been very considerate when we go to social gatherings as well. It definitely makes this journey easier when you have that kind of support.

This has been a very natural progression for me, which I think makes it a whole lot easier. I didn’t wake up one day and decide, that’s it. Meats the devil. I think that’s a whole lot of unnecessary pressure that no one needs to deal with. And the more focus you put on it, the harder it is to deal with. Taking a break from meat. That’s all.

cf535bcdd5d73c3ba679aa77b563be60.jpg

its me!

Gosh I have been SO quiet over here! Things have been rather hectic with our little picnic business taking off. We are constantly dealing with queries, updating our catalogue, sourcing more items, making more items etc etc. And now, we’ve added ourselves onto Groupon and we are being FLOODED with queries!! It’s very good, we’re not complaining. We would love for this little venture of ours to be a success, and who knows, maybe one day we can leave our jobs and do this full time (I do however feel that I already need an assistant just to deal with all these emails!). So we are very excited for the next couple of months to see where this little venture can go.

On a more personal note, we getting a new car! yay! Husband and I have had the same cars for the last 6 plus years,  but due to unforeseen reasons (drunk #&*$ crashing into husband, with no insurance) we’ve had to look at buying a new car. We decided we might as well splash out a tiny bit and get something we really want – a 4×4. So we opted for the little tiny Suzuki Jimny. It really is a toy car and I can’t wait to go out and play with it! I’m trying to convince husband that a trip to Clarens is the perfect place to try it out, seeing as Sani Pass is practically around the corner. I think I might`ve won him over. After our honeymoon, all I want to do is travel and am bursting inside with all the places I want to go to! Clarens, Botswana, Austria, Oudtshoorn, Knysna, Cape Town just to begin with! All this talk is making husband extremely nervous but he will thank me one day 🙂

 

c4723ac045138df24deb56472377050c.jpg

photo courtesy of Dan Ashbach

A lesson learnt in Yoga

8 Morrison street is a hip and happening hub in Durban. Loads of events get held there, they hire out office pods and are just always busy cooking up something. The latest is their Yoga in the City. Every Wednesday night, they have a brilliant yoga instructor, give us an hour long session, for FREE. Now for anyone that knows, i love yoga. I feel that people have such a warped perception of yoga. It’s not all hippies, eating grass and swaying arms around all day. It’s a genuine work out, that makes you feel amazing, that’s honestly good for the mind and body. I always leave yoga feeling refreshed, positive and extremely stiff the next day.

Now, yoga is a practice for yourself. You are there with your own intentions and reasons. But for some reason, with yesterday’s practice, I felt my ego trying to take over. I’m not great at yoga. I have no hamstrings which means i have zero flexibility. Zero arm strength, and just a general lack of panache and poise. But that’s ok. I know this about me, and I don’t let it stop me. But with yesterday’s class, I definitely felt intimidated. The rest of the class all looked like a bunch of gym bunnies and somehow, I ended up right in the front of the class. All eyes on me. I felt so self-conscious. Everyone is going to look at me and see how I suck. I was also there by myself, something I’m generally very comfortable with, but last night it felt like I was walking into a huge house party by myself where I knew no one. And this eventually annoyed me. Since when do I care what strangers think of me. They probably don’t even know I’m there. Eventually, I shrugged off these ridiculous feelings and started to relax, feel in the zone. And once the practice started, I realised that some of them were just as inflexible as me. In fact, the little girl next to me was quite a hoot to watch out the corner of my eye because she had no idea what was going on. But I left there feeling great. Which is what yoga does. I felt completely different leaving there, than what I did when I arrived. And that’s what I love about yoga, and why I want to keep doing it as much as possible. It makes you forget about your stupid ego. It really bothered me that I felt the way I did, and felt that I had to write about it, to put it in perspective.

2601f237caf5067bb61349fe5058614e

image from Etsy Clarafornia