In Jun 2017 a couple from Australia’s Sunshine Coast travelled to South Africa for a wedding. Flying into Durban and out of Capetown they had an incredible 2 weeks exploring this amazing country. Here Erica shares more about how they spent their 2 weeks in South Africa.
Why South Africa ?
Whilst a safari has always been on our bucket list, we were invited to a wedding & the groom is South African/Portuguese. He’s a real foodie (even appeared on Masterchef South Africa) and the location of the wedding was Hartford House located in Natal Midlands, in the heart of Zululand. Pure decadence so why not – Adventure before Dementia !
What parts did you visit and over what period of time?
All up we spent 2 weeks in South Africa. I actually started the trip with a couple of weeks in London to visit my sister. This is where we rendezvoused with the bride, so we threw in a cheeky little 2 day visit to Paris for the four of us to eat great food and drink beautiful wine. We then headed to Durban (via Johannesburg ). On the advice of the groom we had out bags wrapped – I’m not sure it was necessary but anyway. We arranged with Fairmont Zimbali resort to have a shuttle collect us from the airport which was on the Dolphin Coast 5 minutes from Ballito in Durban – overlooking the Indian Ocean.
All up we spent almost 2 weeks in South and wish we could have given it more.
From there we headed to Hartford House for the beautiful wedding which was just amazing. There was an unusual weather event and it was zero degrees the day of the wedding. 3 days of decadence and back to The Dophin Coast for one night before heading off on safari.
2 and half hours’ drive from The Dolphin Coast is KwaZulu-Natal Hluhuwe Emdoneni Lodge, where they care for cheetahs, serval cats, African wildcats and Lynx which have been orphaned or injured in the wild and are in need of care or rehabilitation. We got up close and personal with a couple for a photo opportunity. They are such incredible creatures !
From there we headed to iMfolozi Game Reserve. The oldest game park in Africa in the heart of Zululand. In the pouring rain we checked into our chalets at the Hilltop Camp – which was way more glamourous than I thought it was going to be. Fantastic accommodation and great value compared to many. And then we went on Safari!
Thankfully, the rain had eased by the time our first “camp drive” began and we headed off in search of the big five. I felt like a kid going to an amusement park! Seeing all of those beautiful animals that David (Attenborough) has told me so much about wandering around the Savannah – I could hardly believe it. At one point we were a little disappointed as we hadn’t seen a giraffe but on the last day we headed off on a 5:00 am drive and pleaded with our guide to find us one. Apparently due to the unusual weather event, the crossing to the other side had been flooded. He gave it ago and crossed the flooded river and there they were. I think I had a little tear!
Back to Zimbali for one night before heading to Cape Town. Wow, flying in and viewing Table Mountain from the sky – I’ve got to say it again – Wow.
We stayed at the V & A waterfront in serviced apartments – high security and felt very safe. Three of our party decided to climb Table Mountain which took them the best part of 2 and half hours whilst the rest of us opted for the cable car – which was really quite spectacular.
We then hired a car and headed to Stellenbosch to check out a couple of wineries. I was expecting the little township of Stellenbosch to be similar to Maleny (Sunshine Coast Hinterland) or Hahndorf (Adelaide Hills) however it did not feel safe at all so we cleared out of there and headed to the wine route – so beautiful with markets and food stalls, wine tastings and markets – once again spectacular food. Beautiful grassy gardens to sit and sip and dogs were welcome. Lots of fun!
We drove back along the coast to Cape Town – stunning coast line and of course we had to stop and take a photo! Within seconds of pulling up we were joined by police telling us to move on as it wasn’t safe. We didn’t hang around.
Did you organise yourself or use the help of an agent/friend/other?
We did book our flights with the travel agent as we were travelling with a group of 16. We were lucky enough to have input and make suggestions in a Facebook group about what we were doing and after quite a small amount of discussion based on one of our party’s research we agreed to the safari. Accommodation bookings were done on Booking.com via TrayTablesAway.org ( many thanks kind friends! – editor)
Now that you’ve been home a few months what is your overall impression of South Africa?
The climate was very much like Australia with similar vegetation – they even have Eucalyptus plantations. The shanty towns and the debris on the sides of some of the roads was a bit daunting. We’d been told about “the Old Biscuit” factory which has markets although none of us felt safe enough to be walking around that area – so we ditched that. Whilst we all had a great time – the safety in Australia is something we probably take for granted.
Top 3 highlights?
- Table Mountain
- The Wineries/food
What would you do differently if you had your time over again ?
Don’t think I’d change a thing! if anything 2 weeks in South Africa just isn’t quite enough and we will need to go back and see more.
So where’s your next adventure?
Since I’ve been back, I’ve been on a 3 day Food & Wine cruise off Brisbane and next week I’m heading to Townsville for my niece’s wedding. Soon after that it’s Hawaii Five O for a 50th. Love a destination celebration – this time last year we were in Europe for a very special 50th celebration for another two special friends !
About the Travellers :
Erica works for the Queensland Ambulance Service and is an avid traveller, foodie and shoe fanatic. She loves exploring new places, making her friends laugh and espresso martinis.
Karen works for Australia Post and loves the outdoors, sports and photography. She also enjoys taking her motorbike on day trips and climbing up the glasshouse mountains.
They both love their Furbaby Matilda and take her to the beach every day.