South Africa is a country of varied cultures, stunning scenery, dazzling beaches and intriguing wildlife.
My journey here was an unforgettable experience. I can only hope to cover some of what I saw and felt in this magical place.
Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve
This is one of the most popular safaris and it offers one a real feel of this grandiose game reserve. With its open savannah grasslands and rolling hills, it is a scenic reserve.
There are 360 black rhino and 1,500 white rhino, elephant, leopard, zebra, warthog, hyena, cheetah, giraffe, water-buck, kudu, Nyala, blue wild beast, bushbuck, 300 species of birds and 23,000 impala have been recorded.
We had 96,000 hectares to cover on Africa’s oldest game reserve. This game reserve is renowned for its conservation efforts of the white and black rhino. Just 120 years ago, there existed less than 100 rhinos worldwide. Presently, the reserve boasts hundreds of black rhinos and the largest population of white rhinos in the world.
Greg packed a camera, binoculars, batteries, jackets and memory cards. We drove in an open-backed 4WD from St Lucia Heritage Tours and it was the highlight of our trip. Greg’s knowledge of animals, birds and insects is unparalleled and it made the drive pretty much fun and inspirational too. He also proved to be excellent at spotting animals.
I noted that the guides at Heritage Tours loved showing off their country to foreigners and at the same time raising awareness of threats such as rhinocerous poaching.
Blyde River Canyon
This nature reserve in Mpumalanga forms part of the Greater Drankensberg escarpment. It features on the Panorama route.
Whilst Fish River Canyon is the largest in South Africa, Blyde River Canyon more lush as a result of more rainfall in a sub tropical climate. We decided to do one of the treks that took us past the epic waterfalls, along escarpments and to what appeared to us to be the top of the world – a rocky outcrop overlooking the full stunning vista of this vast canyon.
Kruger National Park
Kruger is the largest game park in the whole of South Africa and it boasts of being home to more mammal species than any other reserve in Africa and that includes the big five, giraffes, cheetahs and more. To be in this kind of place is really just a dream for most. We both had to pinch ourselves to really believe that we had finally made the trip here to see the animals in the wild. We were blessed to see so many different species in one day. I am sure that this will be the topic of many dinner conversations to come.
A visit to South Africa would be incomplete without trying out its famous cuisines. Greg and I sampled a couple including Biltong, which is a jerky type air0dried meat (normally beef) was savoured almost everywhere. This meal was a mainstay of the Boers during the Great Trek in the 1830’s.
We also tried out grilled game. The animals are normally farm raised. The others are either legally hunted or even less likely, poached. We tried out the most popular which were crocodile, antelope and ostrich meat.
The trip to South Africa proved to be an unforgettable experience and I hope we return someday in the future.