SANI PASS

Husband and I finally did the big pass! I’ve been wanting to do Sani Pass for as long as I can remember. I never thought it was a big deal. I’ve heard people saying that you can take a normal car up there etc, and to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much, but knew that this was one of those bucket list items I just had to tick off. In true form, we left this to the very last minute and even on the morning that we left, we still couldn’t decide if we wanted to camp or not, meaning we haven’t even booked accommodation yet. But you know, that’s how we roll. We ended up staying in the cutest little cottage called The Shed in Underberg. We eventually got going and made our way to the pass.

There was a bit of roadwork happening at the bottom of Sani Pass and we couldn’t help but wonder if this was the beginning stages of them wanting to tar sani pass. There’s been talk about it for years and I wonder if they will ever go through with it. Now that we’ve done Sani Pass I must say it will be a huge tragedy if they did. Let me just say, Sani Pass is quite a mountain to manoeuvre over and it has certainly gained my respect.

My mind was blown. That pass was no joke and you most certainly can NOT traverse it with a normal vehicle. We had to quickly switch our little toy over into 4×4 mode and for the next 2 hours, had the most fun ever trotting our way slowly but surely over this gigantic mountain! We dodged massive potholes, crossed rivers, walked our way over stones, climbed some heavy rocky sections, slowly creeped up the switchbacks and finally arrived at the top! (quick side note, you definitely need your passport, and carry cash because you need to pay “toll” at the lesotho border). We had some delicious lunch, drank some Malutis, chatted to a few people and soaked up all the beauty before making our way back down again.

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The Hatchery

Husband and I started the new year relaxing in awesome pools, sipping on delicious gin and tonics whilst the sun was beaming down on our pasty white warm skins. It was the best way to say hello to a new year.

We took about an hour and a half drive to a little gem called The Hatchery up the north coast. Its right by The Prawn Shack, which sadly no longer really exists. We took a drive there to have some drinks on the beach but this no longer seems to be an option. At least husband got to take our little toy Jimny on a bit of offroading and managed to cake up quite a bit of mud on the car. (his highlight of the trip FYI). The Hatchery is rustic, but with a lot of quirk to it. You can spend hours wondering their  farm discovering little hidden gems all over the place. From chill lounges, to view points, to abandoned homes, old beautiful doors, and the list goes on. Its completely self catering with no option of purchasing any goodies there, but the nearest shop isnt’ far if you forgot anything.

We chose the room with the best view (pump house) which looks out right onto the river which also had its own tiny little pool – not exclusively ours i must sadly admit. This trip was all about relaxing and doing as little as possible – in fact the most we did was row across the river to the other side, and back. And that was enough. Back to the pools!

When we left we decided to take a drive into Eshowe to the George Hotel for some yummy Zululand beer and Italian pizza but sadly they no longer serve lunch and the bar was closed (insert the saddest face ever). So we took a walk around and then, well just left.

Enjoy the pics!

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Hermittswood

So our second year wedding anniversary has come, and sadly gone again. Husband and I go away every year for our anniversary instead of buying gifts. Traveling is our thing you know. So this year we decided to head up north to the Drakensberg for some fun in the mountains. Hermittswood is quite a tricky place to find as its completely off the grid – in other words no electricity. We struggled to make a booking as they have no website, facebook page, etc. so we decided to just pack our little jimny, drive all the way there, and hope they had a spot for us. Now in true fashion when it comes to our traveling trips and our infamously bad luck when it comes to traveling, we had some jimny problems before we headed out on our adventure. In fact we had quite a late start as we decided to do all our shopping the morning that we left, only to be left stranded outside our local Spar due to the ol Jimny not wanting to start. We soon realised that it wasn’t the battery, but thought maybe we had ran out of petrol? We tried for about half an hour to get this thing started and then out of nowhere, it started. Now we were faced with the dilemma of do we risk it and just still go to the berg, or do we book the jimny in like responsible adults and get it checked out, after all, we haven’t paid for the trip yet so we could still cancel. So we decided, like the responsible adults that we are, to just wing it and hope for the best and took the jimny into the mountains! In our defense, we did do some extensive googling which provided us with a few reasons that it wouldn’t start, accompanied with some solutions. Well one of these solutions worked so we decided that that was good enough. The jimny started fine after that for the rest of the trip, until it was time for us to leave again. Luckily a little push start helped to get her fired up again. In the end we did actually take the Jimny in to get it checked out and turns out the starter motor was caked with mud from taking it off road, which was causing it to rust. So all you offroaders out there, be sure to get your engine etc washed after trips!

Anyway, back to Hermittswood. So we arrived and turns out they had plenty of space for us to camp. yay! This place is a hiker’s paradise. In fact, there were loads of day visitors simply going there to hike. It was absolutely breath taking there! Sadly though it was scorching hot and husband and I were not kitted out to go hiking in such extreme heat, so we just chilled out by the beautiful natural rock pools all day! Enjoy!

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Our campsite wasnt too shabby either

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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!

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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PHOTO TAKEN IN DURBAN

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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!

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WE LEFT OUR MARK!

Back to our accommodation:

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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.

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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.

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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!

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We literally made it just in time!

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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.

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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.

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Last and final stop: Clarens!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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!

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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!

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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!

 

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).

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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’.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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trying out vetkoek for the first time

 

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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wedding photos!!

aaah, the wedding photos finally arrived and what a wait worthwhile. I have never ever doubted our photographer’s talent (which is why i may have forced him to be our photographer, considering hes a special friend of ours) but I honestly believe that he has outdone himself. The wedding album, is breathtaking. And the post hes put up on his blog is amazing too, but let me tell all you peeps out there, the 500 plus photos on the cd you get are JUST AS AMAZING!

So, out of all the millions of photos, I picked a few more of my favourite for your viewing pleasure:

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recapping the night before after an exhausting day of setting up

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rice hurts. a lot. and keep your mouth closed too

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the delicious bunny chows

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the talented photographer!

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