Flashback: South Africa

In case you were wondering, I went to Kenya last month. It was amazing and I can't wait to tell you all about it but there is a problem. I've been back from my last trip for 2 weeks and I still haven't finished going through my photos! At this point I might be done by the time the Mayan calendar indicates the world's end. Maybe.

Enter Mr. Limestone, who reminded me that I have never shared our trip to South Africa. That’s because we went in 2005 (the days before blog) so it never made it here. And while I know Kenya and South Africa are completely different countries, this trip had a lot of similar experiences so I can't help but compare. It should also be mentioned that I'm pretty sure our trip to South Africa was my most favorite ever so it kind of a no brainer. For all of those reasons, a South Africa trip flashback...

We flew into johannesburg and spent the night there. We took a tour of the Soweto townships with a local resident which was extremely interesting but I felt far too uncomfortable to photograph it. (Hey, look at me, overfed American taking photos of the underpriveledged for personal entertainment. Yeehaw!). Since I have no photos of it - and photos are kind of the soul of this blog - I won't say more than that.

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Next we flew to a private game reserve outside of Kruger called Londolozi. And if you are wondering, yes - it was on a teeny tiny little plane that landed on a dirt runway. I never clutched an armrest so hard but once we were there, we were in heaven. The lodge is amazing - the common areas built around a large tree. Each room had its own little veranda looking out onto the bush with a tiny private plunge pool.

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They picked us up in the jeep and we started on safari right away. I can't remember much about the sequence of when we saw which animal in which order but we saw so many. Not being much of an outdoorsy nature person, it was hard to say how I was going to react but I just loved it. Seeing these animals in the wild really had a profound effect. Completely beautiful and fascinating and grotesque all at the same time.

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Suffice to say it was amazing in every way possible. And it wasn't even over yet. After our safari ended, we flew to Cape Town for a few days. What an amazing city! Great restaurants, weather, views, and attractions.

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After we had explored the waterfront area, we took the ferry to Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned) as one of the first stops. With its horrible history and natural beauty, the tour is fascinating. Then we rented a car and drove down the coast to see the Cape and the penguins on the beach. That’s right, I said penguins!
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There are so many other things that stand out to me but this post is long enough and I think I've given you a general idea. If you've ever considered going to South Africa, I would urge you to do it!

It was quite simply an amazing trip. Since the moment we've left I've been wanting to come back to Africa to see more. So 5 years later when the opportunity to go to Kenya presented itself in the form of a free ticket courtesy of frequent flier miles, we jumped at the chance. As soon as I get around to finishing those photos, I'll show you all about it.

For more travel recaps, click here. To purchase some of my favorite photos (starting at just $6!), click here.

36 comments:

  1. Wow! Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed this post. My husband and I have plans to go to South Africa in the next few years. Your photos make me want to leave right now.

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  2. Always wonderful to "travel" with you. Seems like a trip of a lifetime. The photos are breathtaking. I'm fascinated by all the animals that are roaming free and not behind bars or glass in a zoo. Makes my heart happy to know this still exists on some level. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. these photos are amazing! I've always wanted to visit South Africa. My fiance has been, and has nothing but good things to say about his travels there.

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  4. AMAZING!!! I always love your travel pics. The elephants are amazing and I didn't know there were penguins in Africa.

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  5. Amazing photos! You are truly talented.

    Your photos bring back wonderful memories of a trip I took long ago to Zambia and Zimbabwe.

    I treasure that trip as being a truly unique experience, one that really touched me in a way that no other trip has. Very hard to explain - it's like something deep inside resonates within as you stand in the jungle and just breath. It's like no other place on Earth.

    Sandy K

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  6. What stunning photos! I'm dying to get here and hopefully one day it will be crossed off my list too.

    Speaking of trips, I'm planning a big trip to Sri Lanka next year. Have you ever been?

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  7. Whoa.........seriously beautiful. Can't wait to see the Kenya pics.

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  8. Great pics, You were so blessed to have seen Leopard like that.
    I love living in South Africa. Cape Town has to be one of the best places on earth. Thanks for showcasing our country so beautifully.

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  9. Absolutely gorgeous. I'm lusting after a trip to South Africa, but I fear my boyfriend may be a hard sell. If so, I guess I'll have to go with someone else! :) So glad you shared your trip! Looking forward to Kenya!

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  10. That got my attention, since we live here (Cape Town, that is). Gorgeous this time of year.

    Londolozi is by all acounts very nice but way out of my budget.

    Been as far as Lusaka (by Rand-Lover), Kenya is on the list...

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  11. I love Cape Town. My grandparents lived just outside it. It is the world's most beautiful city, imo (in terms of natural beauty). My husband lived in Kenya, but I have yet to visit, and I would love to visit Zambia, where my father grew up a looong time ago.

    I would highly recommend that you visit Tanzania. It is extraordinarily beautiful. We went using www.access2tanzania.com, which is owned by my husband's former coworker, who is a former Peace Corp volunteer and helps support an orphanage there. (I have no affiliation; I just think it is a great organization and we loved our safari.)

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  12. These are really stunning. The farthest I've ever gone is Paris and that was only for 4 days. I didn't have a good experience and have pushed a desire to explore the world out of my head ever since. This post makes me want to venture out again. You may have just started something . . .

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  13. So jealous of your travels and LOVE your photos! You haveme inspired to book a trip soon! Check out my blog today for some link love!

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  14. What an amazing experience. These photos are incredible, thanks for sharing them. All of a sudden I'm dying to go to South Africa!

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  15. Anonymous12:58 PM

    My baby sitter just graduated from high school and she is leaving in September to go stay with her uncle in South Africa. After seeing your pictures I may have to go visit her!!! My passions are photography and travel, but with three kids it is somewhat on hold for now. I love seeing your pictures. I had planned a trip to Africa this year, but we were told to cancel it because it isnt safe right now. Did you experience any violence or conflict on your travels?

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  16. At this rate you will have seen the entire world in just a few more years!! Amazing photos, did you read National Geographic while growing up?! Janell

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  17. Anon: I'm certainly not an expert on the political landscape of Africa but as far as I know, South Africa is not an unstable country. There is crime just like everywhere but provided you keep your wits about you and stick to the safe areas you should not have an issue. Particularily on safari and in Cape Town, we felt quite comfortable. Kenya is a bit more iffy as they have had some periods of instability and recent incidents but we didnt let that stop us fromg going and we are so glad we did. We had no problems at all.

    Janell: Oh no, there are too many places to visit to ever finish. No, never read Nat. Geo. growing up. We didn't go on vacation at all when I was a kid. I think we drove to VA for the day one time and that was about as exotic as it got.

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  18. This is my dream trip - can't wait to see your Kenya pictures!

    Aren't frequent flyer miles the best?

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  19. Amazing photos and great trip recap...You could've kept going and going and I wouldn't have been bored. I'm looking forward to seeing your Kenya recap. Ah, I'm glad I have your blog to take a virtual vacay. It's been nothing but short road trips for us since we've had a little one. I refuse to take a toddler on a plane if I don't have to. ;) Thanks again for sharing!

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  20. Stefanie your photos are always gorgeous and I love getting a glimpse your travel experience. My husband was in Africa this past January doing charity work and your pictures and hearing about his trip as well have made me want to go too.

    Karla

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  21. Absolutely stunning pictures! I'm so glad you shared these and can hardly wait to hear about your trip to Kenya.

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  22. Incredible! I'm so inspired by your travels. Can't wait to hear about Kenya.

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  23. South Africa is hands down the most amazing place I have ever been! We went in 2007 for ~3 weeks to visit my brother-in-law who was studying there. Wish we would have made it to Kruger, but instead we did Cape Town->Stellenbosch (SA's version of Napa)->the Garden Route (all the coastal towns from CT to Port Elizabeth). We ended the trip at Addo Elephant Park and a private game reserve outside Port Elizabeth! What a breathtaking country!

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  24. Beautiful! We just visited South Africa this past November, and eloped while we were there! We were even fortunate to have 5 giraffes stand in as witness. Your photographs are beautiful, and make me want to go back. Thanks for sharing!

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  25. This is a wonderful post. I’m a social studies teacher so I thoroughly enjoyed all of your photos and details. I appreciate your sensitivity to the people who live in the townships. I understand why you didn’t take photographs. I completely understand why you took photographs of everything else. The trip looks truly amazing! Thanks for sharing.

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  26. Not sure if you've ever answered this question in your Q & A's but here goes:

    How do you make your travel plans? How do you decide to go on/find the tours you take?

    I am fascinated by "real" experiences in travel (ala Anthony Bourdain) but without a fixer (cha-CHING!$$), I guess tours are the way to go. However, my ideas of tours include old ladies from Long Island in wind suits and that is definitely not what I'm looking for.

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  27. I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE looking at your photos! They pull me right in and make me want to book a trip there STAT!

    Thanks for sharing!

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  28. This is Mr. FC's dream trip!! I just yelled to him "Have you ever seen a zebra's ass? It's effing hilarious! And beautiful!"

    Thanks, S. =]

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  29. I went to South Africa a few years ago and had such an wonderful time. It was one of the best vacations that I took. South Africa is one of the world's best secrets...though with the World Cup people might have wizened up.

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  30. These are gorgeous!!! Kenya is definitely in our top five of places to go next.

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  31. jen: I think we plan our trips the "usual" way. As in we decide on a place we'd like to go and start doing research on the web. There are so many travel review sites out there that are a goldmine. Obviously we don't have any kind of fixers or anything like that. We don't USUALLY take tours but that is mostly because we don't have enough time (most of them are long). That said, you will generally get a very good value if you book a reputable tour as they can negotiate much better deals on hotel and activities than I ever could.

    I didn't take a tour for this or most of my trips (china and eastern europe being the exceptions). We'll often book a tour guide once we are there but that is a totally different thing than an organized tour.

    I find travel to be very easy now that everything can be researched and price shoped and reviewed beforehand. The hardest part is narrowing down the choices because there are usually so many wonderful ones.

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  32. This set of photos are really pretty. It does sound like a great place. I won't ever go so I enjoy hearing and seeing it through your eyes.

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  33. Have a greated holiday in bangkok ,I like your blog and will come to see again

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  34. Penguins! My loves! Gorgeous photos. Just. Stunning.

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  35. I'm from Johannesburg, SA, and loved to read your experiences. Next time you come we should meet for coffee and a "local" tour :)

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  36. You visited my home.  Its where I'm from and now I'm homesick to go back.  I lived in Cape Town (best place in the world) and also Jo'burg.  Kruger is amazing - my husband's cousin was a game ranger there so we had great experiences at Kruger.  

    I have a few South African experiences and recipes on my website is you're interested:  LottaMadness.com (including banoffee pie!)

    Glad you had a great time.  

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