My friend from home came to South Africa for only a couple of weeks but we managed to have an eventful trip and I enjoyed myself thoroughly and I am pretty sure he did as well. We traveled far and spent a couple of days on the road but I think it was worth it for my friend to see such different and beautiful parts of South Africa. And although I had seen almost every area we had traveled to, there were activities I had not done for my two years so I managed to have a fresh experience.
Here is the basic itinerary of our trip: Joburg => Sabie => Through Kruger into Mbabane in Swaziland (long day) => Back into South Africa to Coffee Bay (really long day) => Plettenberg Bay => Hermanus => Cape Town. When all was said and done we had put 4000 km on the rental car, ate like kings, and jumped off of many ledges of varying height.
I only uploaded the pictures from the first half of the trip but I will (eventually) get to the second half.
I have missed a couple off opportunities to kloof and would have been remiss if I didn't try my best to do it before I left. Thankfully, my friend was up for a bit of adventuring so we got in there despite the cold water. A "kloof" is a canyon in Afrikaans and basically you hike, climb, jump and swim along the river. It was incredibly fun.
A fellow from the backpacker guided us through and roughly split the kloofing into 4 different sections of which I can only remember 3 and the last part was the hike up the kloof back to the car. The first part was made up mostly of the smaller rocks and the gentle flow of water seen above. The second part which I did not include a representative picture of was characterized by much larger boulders that required some difficult maneuvering. There were frequent slips resulting in small cuts and bashed fingers, shins and tail bones. Minor injuries really make you feel alive, don't they?
The next time I go through High School this is going to be my senior picture and my quote will be "Don't go chasing waterfalls, please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to. I know that you're gonna have it your way or nothing at all but I think you're moving too fast."
While beautiful in its own right, this crevasse leads to a stunning water fall called Pixie Falls. I couldn't bring my camera because there was no way it would not have gotten water logged so just imagine water falling from top of the rocks to the water below.
We ended at Mac Mac falls which was a rewarding finish. We attempted to swim to where the falls was but there were too much resistance and our stamina was all but depleted. Later on at the beach, my friend and I agreed we would not go down the falls in a barrel.
I should mention that many of these pictures if not most are not mine but my friend's. He bought a swanky new camera for the trip and it had a nice panorama function which came in especially handy for the Panorama route. This drive is along the Blyde River Canyon which I had not seen on my 2 previous visits to the area. After kloofing we headed out to see as much of it as we could before it started to rain. Our first stop was the Three Rondavals which are the three cone shaped peaks in the center of the picture. Well alright it is more like one cone (rondaval) and two domes but it's pretty close.
Next stop was the Bourke's Luck Potholes. The water has done funny things to these rocks which in turn makes the water split off into different streams, then gather into pools and then converge again at the bottom. It was fascinating to watch but we had a quick once over so we could see one more part of the route before the rain came.
Our last stop was at Lisbon Falls which was nice and large but it didn't move us as much as it might have if we hadn't been directly under Mac Mac falls earlier in the day. After this we raced out to see God's Window but the clouds and the rain rolled in so we didn't get much of a view.
After two years I managed to go to just about every game park in South Africa except for Kruger. I had heard all the rationalizations for not going- it is too big to see anything, too expensive, too busy with people- but I figured I would give it a shot for my last adventure. We focused on the very southern part of the park since we were only driving through it for the day but it was probably the best game park experience I had in South Africa.
We spent all day in the park and saw many interesting animals but the day instantly was noteworthy after we saw this wild dog. We actually saw two wild dogs that appeared to have just been fighting each other and this one had a damaged leg. Too bad for the dog but it was nice and slow when it skittered off so we got a nice view.
I have seen elephants in many game parks and while I have become somewhat jaded, I really never tire of seeing them. It was a nice change of pace to be with someone seeing them for the first time because the joy is contagious. Anyhow we were in the right place and time for a large herd of elephants to cross the road. There were a couple elephants that bucked at the car to let us know that they didn't really like us being so close to them and it made me think what I was going to do when the elephants charged the car. I didn't come up with much more than to curl up into a ball and cry hard enough to make the elephants pity me.
All the rare and most interesting animal sighting were near the end of the day. We had to get out of the park but it is hard to pull yourself away from staring at rhinos in the middle of the road. Also the rhinos were quite expertly blocking our path and there was no way I was going to just drive past like they couldn't destroy the car without hesitation. We called the insurance company later to find out if we were covered in the event of rhino collision. We were covered if you are curious.
We saw a leopard! It was just walking in the middle of the road. It did not even seem to care that we were right in front of it and then following it as far as we could. It was probably groggy from waking up from a CAT NAP but a sleepy leopard sighting is still a leopard sighting. The giddiness in the car afterwards was at the level of school girl giddiness.
After Kruger we drove into Swaziland and stayed for the night. The next day we continued down towards the coast. I am sure there are things to do and see in Swaziland but we were really driving through because it was the most direct route to where we wanted to go. It also brought up my tally of Southern African countries I have been to.
It was a lovely drive. We managed to get lost because we were busy looking at the scenery and conversing but the people we asked for directions were kind and helpful so it all worked out.
Swazi merchant shack. It is pretty similar to a South African merchant shack but a trained eye can tell the difference.
The Bloukrans bridge. The jump is 261 m. There are jagged rocks at the bottom to dash your brains out and demolish your bones if the rope happens to snap.
They somehow managed to get a pretty decent picture of my jump. This is deceiving because it looks like I am going to push out with my knees at this point and do a nice dive but in actuality I got the Fear at this point and my legs locked up and I just kind of dropped in that position.
My friend had a much more graceful dive off the bridge. They should use this picture for advertisement. I will accept payments on his behalf.
Again, they did an excellent job at taking the photos at the right time. They got me just at the point were my weighty head started to tip towards the ground so it looks like I managed to dive off.
All the adrenaline was dumped into our bloodstream and then our blood violently sloshed into our heads, how could we not be thrilled?