Monday, 10 October 2016

The South Africa Blog Post | Travel By Harrison



So here we have it. I'm finally back and finally back to blogging... 
As you know, judging by the copious amounts of Instagram posts, tweets and vlogs, I have been away in South Africa on the holiday of a lifetime. Just a bit of a back story, South Africa (Cape Town specifically) has always been on the very top of my bucket list to visit. I don't really know where the obsession came from, I think it started when I started watching MrBenBrown's vlogs and he just completely got me hooked! So yeah, this holiday really did mean a lot to me. 
I went with my Dad and we stayed in Cape Town for 5 nights where we stayed in the Protea Victoria Junction hotel. We explored all that Cape Town had to offer, from Table Mountain to Robben Island and everywhere in-between, going for dinner at the V&A every night and soaking in the atmosphere of Cape Town. 



While In Cape Town, we visited Boulder's Beach which is famous for its penguins. These are some of the only penguins in the world that live in the warm climates, just on the beach here in Cape Town. It is so surreal to be in and around the penguins like we were... I'm used to them just being in a zoo. We also visited Cape Point (also known as Cape Of Good Hope), which is the most South-western part of South Africa and is where the Atlantic and Indian ocean meet. This really was one of the highlights of the trip. I have never seen water quite so blue and quite so clear, it was incredible! 



So after Cape Town we then began our 3 day road trip along the Garden Route. Stop 1 was Hermanus. The Garden Route is pretty famous and has become a bit of a landmark and tourist destination for South Africa. It is pretty much 1 road, stretching from the west to the east coast, passing rolling fields, colonial settlements and beautiful seaside towns. The Garden Route (depending on your destination) can be done in anywhere from 2 days all the way to 2 weeks. It really does depend on how far you're travelling and what you want to do along the way. We covered it off in 3 days, stopping at a different destination every night.
On the first day, we left Cape Town, revisited Cape Point and then began our journey east, stopping at Betty's Bay. Again, the reason for going here was because of Ben Brown's and Nicole Eddy's vlogs, showing just how amazing it looks. We stopped in Betty's Bay for a coffee and visit to the beach, before continuing the journey along the Garden Route, heading towards Hermanus. 
When we arrived in Hermanus, we were completely blown away by the beauty of the town. We had been driving for miles, seeing nothing but rolling fields when we came across Hermanus. It was a typical, African seaside town, with unique shops and amazing restaurants. It's quite a modern town, with bright white buildings and art-deco galleries. Nestled in the modern skyline of this seaside town was our hotel, The Auberge Burgundy. This little French chateau style guesthouse was our home for the first night of the road trip. 


Day 2 of the Garden Route drive, we were in for a long drive. We woke up in Hermanus where we got breakfast, packed up our things and quickly hit the road. Today's drive was going to be about 5 hours of continual driving, heading for a small town called Knysna. In Knysna, we were staying in a place called Belvedere Manor. Now, bear in mind when we booked this trip, we hadn't actually looked at pictures of our accommodation. So we pulled up to Belvedere Manor and pulled into what looked like a gated community. There were big houses, perfectly mowed lawns, jetty's with boats waiting and white picket fences. Had we come to the wrong place? "Turn Left", 'Take the next right", 'You have reached your destination". Nope, we were very much in the right place. At this point, both Dad and I were completely silent, gobsmacked. As Kevin, the bell boy took us to our room cottage, we could not believe our luck. I mean just look at that picture above. We had the most incredible home, so very colonial and full of history. We had several bedrooms, several bathrooms, a study, an open log fire and a huge balcony. For that night, we were royalty! 



On day 3 of the drive, we were quickly bought right back down to reality. We woke up to what could only be described as 'pissing down'. It was completely chucking it down, it was cold, grey and miserable, however somewhat cosy. We had our fry up for breakfast, packed up the car and hit the road again. There was something quite cosy and comforting about all our worldly goods being packed into the back of our hire car, the heaters on, car snacks in full flow and the iPod playing. Just Dad and I, hitting the road on this big adventure, heading to our next destination not knowing what was going to be in store for us. 
Today, we head to Tsitsikamma. Tsitsikamma is an odd little place. There isn't really much there, a petrol station, a shop, a few hotels and a national park. When we turned up to Tsitsikamma Lodge, we were relieved to be at a final destination of the trip, however we couldn't help feeling like we had ducked out compared to the last place. When I say Lodge, I really mean lodge. I should really say log cabin. It was cold, dark, empty, it wasn't cosy at all. But hey, we made the most of it. 
We decided to get out and about instead of staying in the hotel moping around. So we got back in the car and made our way down to Tsitsikamma National Park. I had read about this before going on the trip and was excited to see what it was all about. There was this amazing suspension bridge hanging between the river mouth and tracking across that in the pouring rain was pretty intense. 
Day 3 was not a total waste after all. 



So day 4 we woke up and couldn't leave that place quick enough. We packed up for the final time of the road trip and made our way to Port Elizabeth International Airport, where we would be saying goodbye to Tracy the Toyota. (Our hire car) We dropped the car off at the airport and tried to navigate our way to the right spot. After a slight panic that we didn't have a taxi to get us to the game reserve, we finally had our private car turn up to collect us. 
We scrambled into the back of a Ford 4x4 and off we went. Our safari trip started here. 

2 hours later, we turned up to the gate of Kariega Game Reserve in Kenton On Sea on the East cost of South Africa. We drove through the gate into the private game reserve and made our way to reception where we were greeted by a happy, energetic South African called Bianca. Bianca was to be our guide for the next 3 days. Not only was Bianca our guide, she was our friend, our comedian, our maid and our information centre. Bianca, was there to wait on us hand and foot throughout our time, she was there to take us on the game drives and give us all the information we needed about the animals. 

So it was time to freshen up and head out on our first drive... 


That first drive is going to be a memory that sticks with me forever. I genuinely don't think I have ever been as happy. There we were, sat on the back of the truck, sun setting behind us, giraffes surrounding us and the complete overwhelming feeling of achievement for everything we had done on the trip. Not only that, but the sheer excitement for what was to come over the next few days. 






Over the next 3 days, we did a total of 6 drives, 1 dangerous game walk, 1 pool session and lots of eating. We saw everything from Giraffe, to Elephants and Hippo's to Lion's. We really did see it all and experience everything. 
I really can't thank my Dad enough for coming on this amazing trip, Thomas Cook for organising the whole thing and making sure the trip ran as smooth as possible and to Bianca at Kariega Game Reserve. Bianca really did make the whole experience just that little bit better. She was funny, kind, informative and so smart. She really did show us everything we wanted to see and never once put the animals life in danger to please us. She really is, one of a kind. 

This has been the most life changing experience for me and has given me so much to think about and reflect on. South Africa is the most inspirational place I have ever been too and has really got me thinking about how I can make myself better and how I can channel my creative thoughts into what I love. 
I must admit, I really did miss blogging while I was away, but being away gave me time to think about where I want to take my blog and my Youtube channel. I really can't wait for you to come along with me on this journey and see where my blog goes in the next year. 

I really did have the time of my life in South Africa and I urge any of you to go there. It is incredible. 

Well there you have it, finally after 2 weeks of being back in the UK, I have actually managed to upload this blog post! 

Thanks for reading and I'll see you back here on Wednesday.

| Harrison |