I’ve long harbored dreams of traveling on the African continent (Mauritius and Seychelles notwithstanding), to rub shoulders with exotic wildlife and discover a culturally intriguing way of life. But to tell you the truth, I was a wee bit nervous about going it alone and never found the right company at the right time. When South Africa Tourism Board’s invitation landed in my inbox, I knew I had to go there and test the waters.
These are all the reasons I want to make 2016 the year of Africa for me, and hopefully for you!
Cuteness overload at Boulder’s Beach
I couldn’t have imagined hanging out with African penguins in their wild habitat just outside of Cape Town! Unfortunately their population on the Atlantic Coast has declined dramatically due to overfishing and garbage in the seas. The authorities are trying to restore the natural balance by banning the hunting of great white sharks, as they prey on seals and seals prey on penguins.
Also read: My First Impressions of South Africa
Cruising along Table Bay
Sunset and champagne on a cruise in the backdrop of the gorgeous Table Mountain; need I say more?
Cycling along the countryside of Oudtshoorn
It is in pedaling through the streets, feeling the breeze in my hair and nodding along to fellow cyclists that I find the heartbeat of the places I travel to. And so it was with Oudtshoorn, a little town at the base of the Swatberg mountains in the Western Cape province.
Endangered one-horn rhinos in the African bush
These majestic fellows are hunted widely for their skin and horns, so when in the bush, we were told not to post photos of their location, for poachers search for clues in the geotag to find them. I felt overwhelmed when we spotted a 4-day old rhino baby trailing its mom!
PS: I took this photo with my point and shoot, and stripped it of location tags.
My neighbor at Dinokeng Game Reserve
I was bummed out to arrive late at Mangwa Valley Game Lodge and miss one of my only two safaris in the African bush. Turns out nature had a different welcome planned for me; just after I checked in, I saw a giraffe hanging out in my backyard! The rest of his family joined him, and it was one of my most memorable evenings watching them munch on leaves and gaze into each other’s eyes.
Mornings are for bush walking
The South African bush is very different from forests in India. No tall trees, no canopies, no defined trails. You can see for miles through the savanna; no animal movement can be missed in these dry grasslands. Even though Dinokeng Game Reserve is not a big 5 reserve, I enjoyed the little moments with wildlife I’ve never seen before – like a blue wildebeest crossing our paths just a few metres away!
Vineyards of the Western Cape
Let’s just say there was a lot of wine on this trip, both in my glass and along the rugged South African countryside!
Also read: Discover Durban, the Hipster Soul of South Africa
Wild ostriches in Table Mountain National Park
On our way to the Cape of Good Hope, we spotted this pair of ostriches drinking water off a puddle in the road, as cars whizzed past! I was heartbroken to learn later that many of them will be found on a plate of exotic meat in a typical South African meal. Such is life I guess.
Road-trippin’ over the Swartberg Pass
That “I’m just a bird in the sky” kind of feeling! The ragged, barren, majestic Swartberg mountains were love at first sight. Photo thanks to fellow blogger Spencer Spellman; read his offbeat guide to the Western Cape.
Got a reason to #MeetSouthAfrica yet?
I travelled to South Africa on invitation from the South Africa Tourism Board. Lucky me!