Australia and Oceania, Africa · 23 Days · 22 Moments · December 2017

South African Adventures

18 January 2018

Day 21 - 18.01.18 - springbok museum and Robben Island After a breakfast at one of the restaurants near waterfront, we spilt up with Mum, Dave, Eliza and Amy going to some craft markets and James, Sam, Tim and I going to the springbok rugby museum. The museum was really well done and very interesting to hear about the effects of the Apartheid on rugby. There were also fun interactions such as a fitness test and kicking practice. Afterwards, we wandered up and down the markets until 12.30 when we were scheduled for the Robben Island ferry. The ferry trip was only about 30 mins and then we climbed on a bus to be driven around as part of a tour. We then were able to walk through the maximum security building. We saw where Nelson Mandela spent 27 years and heard about the conditions and life of the prisoners. Our guide for maximum security building was even an ex-prisoner. We went for drinks at piano bar rooftop and dinner at The Vue where we watched the clouds roll over Table Mountain

17 January 2018

Day 20 - 17.01.18 - Shark cage diving and table mountain The 6 kids had a 4.30 pick up for a 2.5 hour drive to Gansbaai for our shark cage diving. We headed out on a big boat about 15 mins off shore. They set the cage up and we all got in wetsuits as they poured fish oil and chum in the water to attract the sharks. Our group was first up. Boy oh boy the water was freezing!! Emily was basically an icicle. As we were in the cage, the marine biologist and other crew members tried to attract the sharks with bait, bringing them close to the cage. We saw a total of 4 bronzwailer sharks coming up to the cage a few times! Unfortunately no Great whites due to orcas being present the past few months. Once we got back, we al showered and went up table mountain via cable car. It is such a wonderful view up there! We wandered the tracks before coming down. We drove around lions head view point on our way back. We had dinner by the waterfront after a few drinks on the balcony! Long but good day!

16 January 2018

Day 19 - 16.01.18 - flamingo cafe in Walvisbaai and flight to Cape Town Today we went for a wonder around the shops in Swakopmund as it is the first opportunity we have had with everything open. Tim bought a great accoubra style hat made from Ku-du leather. We then drove to Walvisbaai (Walvis Bay) to visit a flamingo cafe where they often get thousands of flamingos. They were quite fun to watch although there weren’t as many as we had hoped for! We then drove to Walvis Bay airport to board our flight to Cape Town. It was an easy 2hr flight arriving around 6.30pm. We picked up the hire cars and drove to our accommodation - African Elite Waterfront Apartments. We have 2, 2-bedroom apartments that are extremely nice. We went for a wander and chose to eat at a bar/restaurant on the water called Quay Four. As the 6 kids have to get up early tomorrow for shark diving we are and headed to bed.

15 January 2018

Day 18 - 15.01.18 - Tims birthday - quad biking and sand dunes Today is Timmy’s birthday! The staff at breakfast heard everyone saying it and brought out a cake and candles singing. The 6 kids then headed to the Sand dunes for quad biking for 1.5hours. It was so fun and we went up and down some pretty steep dunes. Afterwards, we went to a different section of the dunes where we did sand boarding. This was basically a piece of wood which you ‘waxed’ the bottom of and either went head first or cross legged down the dunes. Going down was so awesome but having to walk back up was exhausting. We went back to our hotel for a swim in the beach to wash off all the sand - we were covered in it! We had a late nibble lunch with drinks before getting ready for dinner. We met again for pre-dinner drinks and then walked to the German Brauhouse for Tims birthday dinner. We got yet another cake for him and sang in English and German! Overall he had a great day (as did everyone else!)

14 January 2018

Day 17 - 14.01.18 - catamaran cruise Today we headed to Walvis Bay to board a catamaran and sale the harbour. As we set off, a seal named Eddie boarded the boat! They apparently recognise the different seals from over the years and know the gentle ones and let people feed them fish and pat their belly! Eddie is a cape fur seal. There were also a number of pelicans that they hand raise in a rehabilitation centre that have been released that fly on board too. Whilst going through the harbour, we saw all the oyster farms and learnt how oysters grow in Namibia due to a man that breads them and sells the spawns. We also saw a dolphin. Afterwards, we had a chilled afternoon napping, exploring and a few had massages etc due to the average weather. For dinner we went to the brewer and butcher which was delicious. We told them it was Tims birthday so we got him a free dessert 🙊 Post dinner we played articulate before heading to bed.

13 January 2018

Day 16 - 13.01.18 - drive to Swakopmund We left Etosha early to drive to Swakopmund. It was about a 5.5 hour drive to our hotel - the strand hotel. We had a late lunch and walked around the town. It is an interesting town, very German. The weather is also much cooler - 22 instead of the 34 it has been. Unfortunately, everything closes at 1pm on saturdays and Sunday’s for church so it was like a ghost town. We headed back to the hotel for showers and met for a drink before heading to the Tug restaurant for dinner. The restaurant was so nice with a lovely view. We then went back to the hotel for a round of articulate before bed.

12 January 2018

Day 16 - 12.01.18 - Etosha Safari Another early wake up and safari. About 10 mins into the drive we stumbled across a whole pride of lions (about 14) including 2 cubs! We sat and watched the play for about 20 mins! It was an awesome experience! We then headed to Etosha national park to explore the west side. As we were driving we again saw hyenas. They were so close to the car and very curious. We stopped and an even bigger watering hole than yesterday and saw hundreds of animals. So cool to see them together including a few lions. On the way back there was a waterhole we could walk to as part of a lodge and saw so many zebras, impala, springbok, oryx, ku-du and wildebeest as well as a number of birds! We had lunch by the lodge pool and had a swim whilst watching a giraffe drink. Again the weather turned in the afternoon but we headed out for our last Safari and finally saw black rhinos - a Mum and baby. We headed back beaming for dinner and a round of “30 seconds” before bed.

11 January 2018

Day 15 - 11.01.18 - Etosha Safari We got up at 5.30, had a quick breakfast and headed to the Etosha national park for our morning safari. We first up saw zebras rolling around in the dust - apparently this helps get rid of ticks. We also saw 3 young male lions as part of their own bachelor pride going to find water post a feed (they had big belly’s). Running across one of the large open plains, we managed to see a hyena! This is apparently quite a rare sighting, especially during the day! Before turning back, we visited a waterhole with many animals gathered around which was cool! We came back and hand lunch, lounges by the pool and napped before heading out again on an evening safari in the park. Unfortunately the weather turned and there were huge gusts of wind creating a dust storm followed by lighting, thunder and rain. As all the animals had run because of the storm, there was nothing to see so we headed back. We played articulate together and had dinner and went to bed.

10 January 2018

Day 14 - 10.01.18 - drive to Etosha and night safari We left Na’ankuse after breakfast and headed to Etosha. It took about 6.5 hours to get there including a lunch stop in Otjiwarongo. We are staying at Ongva tented camps which were luxurious tents overlooking a watering hole. The accomodation is quite cool! We settled in quickly and headed out on the evening safari at 5pm with our guide Bono around the ongava private park. The landscape is different again to the others and quite amazing. We saw rhinos and giraffes etc and a pregnant female lioness that was separating herself from the pride in preparation for birth. We headed back to the lodge for dinner and drinks and an early night after a huge day of driving and an early wake up tomorrow.

9 January 2018

Day 13 - 9.01.18 -Caracal walk, ancient skills etc. This morning James, Em and Tim went on a walk with a Caracal. Such an interesting creature - a cat with large ears. Na’ankuse is a wildlife sanctuary where all the animals have been rescued but most cannot go back into the wild due to injury or being too used to humans. Misty the Caracal has been raised there since she was new born after her mother was shot by a hunter. She is now too used to humans and too friendly to be released as caracals are still widely hunted. We walked with her and even watched her hunt (unsuccessfully unfortunately). Afterwards, we met up with the group and all went to the ancient sans skills which was taken by native bush people. They showed us medicinal plants, weapons and how to make a fire. We spent the afternoon by the pool and after dinner (where warthogs ran through the restaurant) we returned to the bush people for stories under the stars. Interesting to hear their perspectives and stories.

8 January 2018

Day 12 - 8.01.18 - drive back to Victoria falls and flight to Namibia. The kids went on a morning safari but unfortunately nothing much to see. We all then had breakfast and headed back to zimbabwe, Victoria falls airport for our flight to Namibia. Flight was quick but quite bumpy in the small jet plane. We got to Namibia, picked up the car and had a one hour drive to Na’ankuse. The sunset we had on the way was unbelievable. The property is so large with many villas. We had dinner first and then took ages to find our villa as we got lost due to the lack of light and signage. Finally we got to our 5-bedroom villa which was strange but quite nice - apparently Angelina Jolie stays in that villa once a year!

7 January 2018

Day 11 - 7.01.18 - river safari and afternoon safari. Today was our first river safari! We saw hippos swimming and up on land grazing. We were excited as we only saw 2 hippos at a distance in Medikwe. We also saw elephants doing a water crossing which was cool to see them actually swimming and playing in the water. Afterwards, we had a driving safari where Bevan somehow spotted a group of lioness whilst traveling 40km/h and through several layers of bush. We had lunch in the park which the staff had set up. We headed back, had some drinks and a swim followed by dinner. Dinner was a ‘Boma’ - a traditional African outdoor bbq with bonfire where we sat around one big table with the other 4 guests. Afterwards, we went on a drive with the manager and went stargazing! The stars were unbelievable. We tried to capture some on camera but didn’t succeed to well as we needed to keep moving because the elephants were approaching!

6 January 2018

6.01.18 - drive from Zimbabwe to Botswana Today we piled into a mini van to get to Botswana. We drove to the border to ‘exit Zimbabwe’, then drove 2 mins to ‘enter Botswana’ then drove 10 mins to the airport where we changed cars for the 3rd time to take us to our accommodation - Ngoma safari lodge. The rooms are amazing with each having its own plunge pool overlooking the river. We had lunch and chilled out until 4pm when we headed out on our evening safari. Botswana is an amazing landscape! We saw elephants and many zebras down by the river having a drink. We got back and had dinner followed by the kids going out on a night drive. It was awesome as we saw hyenas up close making their “woop” sounds. There was also a huge breeding heard of elephants, and about 1000 buffalo passing down to the river. Outside our rooms as we slept we continued to hear the hyena sounds which was super cool!

5 January 2018

Day 9 - 5.01.18 - Victoria Falls Today we all headed to the Victoria falls national park to view the mighty falls! The pathway was long with 19 view points along the way. The falls are so spectacular! The last view point, you get quite wet from all the mist! The kids took a number of photos quite close to the edge which was awesome but scary and surreal at the same time! For lunch we went back to the three moneys. We caught the bus back to the hotel where we all had a swim and relaxed in the sun. For dinner we went back into town to the brewery. It had quite good food and really good music! We headed back to the lodge for some drinks before heading off to bed.

4 January 2018

Day 8 - 4.01.18 - white water rafting and Boma dinner The 6 kids had an early wake up and departure for a day of white water rafting down the Zambezi river. We were driven to the top of the gorge where we then had to walk down to the river - it was a long and steep way down! The water rapids were so much fun! Some of them were class 5 (out of a possible class 6) so were wild and crazy but all the more enjoyable! We didn’t capsize at any of the 19 rapids and were the only boat not to lose people out of the raft! We were also allowed to jump into the water and drift at one point which was cool! The walk back up was ridiculously steep and long and the heat made it hard for all! At the top we enjoyed some lunch before heading back. Mum and Dave went to town and watched the vulture feeding at the lodge which was amazing to see so many birds! For dinner we went to Boma - a traditional Zimbabwean meal and drumming. It was so much fun. All the kids ate a Mopani worm and got a certificate ?

3 January 2018

Day 7 - 3.01.18 - fly to Zimbabwe We woke up this morning, had breakfast and headed to the airport for our flight to Zimbabwe. The flight was only 1h 21mins so nice and quick. The airport was fairly inefficient with long lines for people to get visas. We finally left the airport and headed to our accommodation - Victoria Falls Safari Lodge - where we checked in and headed to the pool for drinks and some food over looking the watering hole. We organised for the kids to do white water rafting tomorrow and then headed into town for a wander. We walked through the craft markets and the street shops before heading for drinks and dinner at “the three monkeys”. Service was very slow but the food was great with the impala pie a big hit! We headed back and had an early night as the kids have an early morning and big day tomorrow!

2 January 2018

Day 6 - 2.01.18 - Medikwe morning safari and drive to Johannesburg. We got up at 5am for our final Medikwe Safari. We were so lucky this morning as we first went to a sighting of 2 cheetahs. We were watching them as they lay down. Then all of a sudden they got up and walked towards the bushes, we could see ahead, a group of impalas. One started to run one way, then the other went another way and we followed. Next minute they managed to take down a large female impala! It was the most spectacular display and everyone was very excited to see something so rare (as Cheetahs only have a 25% success rate with killings). One sat with her teeth around the neck whilst the other walked the perimeter checking for other predators. The other impala were doing Warning calls and the group of nearby monkeys were going crazy. It was a once in a lifetime! We also saw a group of rhinos. We packed, had breaky and said goodbye before driving back to Johannesburg. We relaxed and had an early night.

1 January 2018

Day 5 - 1.01.18 - Medikwe Safari We got to start a bit later today because of the late night and we have a vehicle just to us so we’re woken at 6.30am. On the morning safari, we managed to get a good sighting of wild dogs. This is very rare so we were very lucky!! We also saw more beautiful elephants and other animals. Fun fact- the wet mark next to the elephants eye in the photo means she is experiencing some sort of emotion (happy, joy, sadness etc). - amazing animals! Everyone was tired from the late night so had a nap followed by observing from the hide and seeing a huge group of elephants. For our final evening safari, our guide Andrew was tracking a leopard with some other guides (whilst we sat in the car) but unfortunately it was no where to be found. We also saw another massive heard of elephants with a baby only a few weeks old! We then followed a cheetah walking through the bush. She was ready to capture something when an elephant came and chased her away - so cool to see.

31 December 2017

Day 4 - 31.12.17 - Medikwe Safari’s and NYE Another 5am start for morning Safari. This morning we saw a Cheetah which was definitely a highlight as they are hard to find. We were able to get so close to her! She is a new introduction to the park so the vet has put a colour so they are able to observe her and ensure she is able to integrate into the park. We also saw heaps of other animals too. When we got back, we had breakfast and everyone had naps to ensure they could stay up for the midnight tick into the new year! Tim and I tried to sleep in the hide but saw elephants, baboons and rhinos which distracted us from sleeping. We had a massage at midday followed by a swim. For NYE celebrations, we painted everyone’s faces for safari - so much fun! On today’s evening safari, we were able to go just out of the park to see hippos! We also saw a baby giraffe which was so cute! We had an African BBQ all nicely set up around a fire followed by talking and games until the new year!

30 December 2017

Day 3 - 30.12.17 - Medikwe safari’s We woke at 5am and had light refreshments before heading out on safari at 6am. Last night there was a storm which meant the rain had closed a few of the roads due to being too wet but it was okay as we still saw lots of animals including lions, buffalo, elephants, giraffes. We were able to get so close to the sleeping lions which was awesome. We stopped mid safari for coffee and hot chocolates with Amarillo - a SA specialty. After the morning safari, we each did our own thing - sleeping, relaxing, swimming etc. Tim and I went to go to the swimming pool and checked the hide on the way where we saw 2 elephants drinking and spraying themselves with water and mud. We headed out again at 5pm after our high tea. It poured down with rain for the first part so it was quite funny. We saw lots including a huge breading heard of elephants which was cool so we skipped sun down drinks to observe but then raced off to a lion with fresh impala kill sighting!

29 December 2017

Day 2 - 29.12.17 - drive to Medikwe and first safari Today we had an early breakfast and checkout and drove 5 hours north to Medikwe private game reserve (border of South Africa and Botswana). We checked into our amazing lodge - Jaci’s tree lodge - where we all had cabins on stilts through the bush connected by wooden walkways. The rooms were awesome, complete with an outdoor shower! There is a hide where you can go and observe the animals at the watering hole which is where we checked out first and saw impalas. We had high tea and left for our first evening safari at 4pm. Our guide was Andrew and he will be with us for the next few days. We drove around the park and saw a Ku-du, giraffes, zebras and rhinos. The rhinos was an amazing experience as there was a mother and baby wallowing and a male following her as part of the 45days of courtship. At sunset we stopped for some drinks and nibbles in the park. We headed back for dinner and an early night in preparation for our 5am start.

27 December 2017

Day 1 - 27.12.17 - transit from Sydney to Johannesburg We had rather a chaotic experience kicking off the start of the holiday. We were supposed to be on a flight at 7pm and were planning to leave around 3pm in order to be there 3 hours early. However at around 1pm, we received a message from Singapore airlines saying the flight departing Sydney at 7pm was delayed and now would leave at 8pm. As this would mean we missed our connecting flight in Singapore to Johannesburg, they said they put us on a 4pm flight. It was a frantic rush to pack everything and be ready to leave in 15 mins to make the airport on time prior to the gate closing. Thankfully we made it with 10 mins to boarding time once we got through security. The flights were long but we eventually made it into Johannesburg, touching down on the 28.12.17 at 6am. We spent the day by the beautiful pool of Peermont D’oreale and had some dinner at an African restaurant before and early night as everyone was tired.