after many hours of cross referencing lonely planet, the internet and emailing tour guides in africa, and also having lunch with my new favorite friend justin, a south african native i met last week, i have started to assemble a rough draft of an itinerary.
it goes a little something like this:
departing dc on feb 8, the plane arrives in johannesburg friday afternoon, continuing on to cape town that same evening.
a few days exploring the beauty of cape town and its surrounding winelands and beaches (boulders beach featuring a colony of 3000 penguins that live on its shores) and taking in the sights of the city should be sufficient before renting a car to migrate first south and then north east, along the coast.
the ‘wild coast’ as it is known, should provide an amazing look at the coastal towns and life in south africa. i have a friend living in the city of port elizabeth, where i hope to say a brief hello! just past port elizabeth lies the addo elephant national park where elephant-back safaris offer a unique opportunity to see wildlife on this official big five reserve.
*note* the ‘big five’ are elephants, black rhino, cape buffalo, leopards and lion.
it is also home to hippo, giraffes, rhino, cheetahs, spotted hyenas and the red hartebeest.
continuing northward along the coast to port st johns, there are a number of nature/game reserves along the way. what makes s. africa such a unique place to see wildlife is not only the massive quantity of animals prevalent within the country and their accessibility, but also the vast range of settings in which to witness them. from the sandy coast to the grasslands to the mountain ranges and forests, the ever-changing landscape provides an awesome backdrop.
a rest may be in order at port st johns, an idyllic beach town whose laid-back, simple way of life makes it the perfect image of the new rural south africa.
heading inland and north from here towards the border of lesotho (a small, landlocked country within south africa) the drakensberg area awaits. this region was named a united nations world heritage site in 2000 and the name translates to ‘dragon mountain’ in afrikaan. within this area the giants cup reserve is, among many things, an excellent location for flyfishing. watch out trout!
from there it’s into zululand for an authentic look at s. african culture in its more rural regions, and then traveling through swaziland (another small country locked between s. africa and mozambique) and on to nelspruit, the gateway to kruger national park. kruger is the size of a small country and one of the most renowned, and astonishing destinations for wildlife and biodiversity in the world. the numbers look something like this at last count:
5000 white rhino
500 bird species
…and the list goes on! in addition, over one million people visit the park each year…incredible.
once the last safari is completed, a three-hour drive back to jo’burg international airport on the 20th and the trip is concluded!
but of course, this is all subject to change, based on everything i plan on learning in the next week, what actually goes on once the plane lands in south africa, and of course what the country itself really wants to show me.
can’t wait, and thanks for sharing in the journey!