60 Days In South Africa - A Diary
Posted on June 21 2021
In December 2020 me and my brother decided to go on a road trip again. Our mission was to explore the beauty of South Africa further. We rented a Toyota Hilux pick up truck and made our way from the city of Johannesburg through the outback of the Kalahari Savannah, to the Northern Cape and all the way to the mother city: Cape Town. What we experienced on our 14-day road trip and which stations we visited on our way can be read in the following diary.
Day 1 „Quiet before the storm“
After a ten hour flight we arrived in Johannesburg quite exhausted. Luckily, the immigration turned out to be very smooth and unbureaucratic despite the current Corona restrictions.
From the airport we got picked up by Bushlore - the company we rented our Hilux 4x4 pick up trucks from. After a short briefing for the Hilux 4x4 we did some basic shopping in town and headed to our first guest house "Claire's" in Sandton, a district in the north of the Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality.
After we had relaxed a little by the pool and had a short siesta, we went to the “Trumps" steakhouse where we were served excellent food and wines. After a satisfying dinner we ended the first day with beers and NFL football in the garden of our guest house, knowing that the upcoming days would be very exciting.
Day 2 „Into the outback“
The next morning we were woken up by the loud chirping of birds and cicadas and that reminded us immediately of our mission: Hunting samples! We recorded some sounds with our H4n Zoom recorder and prepared for breakfast.
We packed our bags and checked out. We left the first stay and headed north to the border of Botswana and prepared to leave the heavily populated metropolis of Johannesburg and dive into the uncertain and tempting outback of the Kalahari Savannah.
After three hours of driving through the absolute outback, we reached our first stop in Limpopo, a province in the north of South Africa in which the northern part of the Kruger National Park is located.
We stayed in a luxury lodge in which, luckily, we could even live completely by ourselves. We spent the time recording the wildlife before we got a delicious meal at the campfire in the evening. We might have had a couple of gin too… Never mind. Off to bed!
Day 3 „Hangover Game Drive“
The next day, slightly tired, we had our breakfast before we made ourselves comfortable by the pool (again: "the only guests"!). In the afternoon we went on a safari in the Madalingwe Nature Reserve. On the 3 hour game drive we saw countless wild animals such as elephants, rhinos, kudu, warthogs, ostriches, zebras, knus, impalas and antelopes which was very impressive.
Back at the lodge, we had our dinner and relaxed a little.
Day 4 „In the middle of nowhere“
The next day we packed our things and left Madalingwe (Limpopo) and drove further north. After a two-hour drive, we made a short pit stop at the Pick & Pay supermarket and - to our regret - had to find out that the sale of alcohol was strictly prohibited due to the current Corona restrictions (Level 3).
After another two hours of brutal dirt road we came to the gate of the Madikwe National Reserve. Another thirty minutes later we reached our next destination: Mosetlha Bush Camp.
A camp in the middle of nowhere without electricity, running water or wifi. As it is a wildlife camp there are no fences and wild animals have access to the area at all times. We were advised to only leave our tents at night in extreme emergencies in order to avoid unintentional meetings with the wild animals! In order to relieve our needs, we were given "pee pots" so that we didn't have to leave the tent at night. Pure adventure!
Immediately after our arrival we went on a four-hour game drive where we were able to see elephants and buffalos at a water hole.
In the evening we returned to the camp to have dinner with other guests (all locals) and let the evening end by the campfire.
Day 5 „The Big Five“
At 5 o'clock in the morning we are woken up to an early game drive. This time we were able to see more animals - even a lion. To top it off, we ate our breakfast in the bush and went back to camp to rest after the short night.
In the afternoon we went straight to the next game drive with our ranger Johnny (greetings) on which we tried to find leopards - unfortunately without success.
Nevertheless, the day can be booked as very successful because we were able to see four of the big five! Satisfied, we went back to camp and recorded a few more soundscapes around the camp. For dinner we had traditional south african Braai before we fell into our beds exhausted.
Day 6 „Road Block“
The following day - after a small breakfast - we headed west towards the namibian border. On the way we got into a road block (police searched cars for alcohol) but luckily we were waved through. We were warned in advance not to leave alcohol in the refrigerator of the car but to hide it well.
After a six hour drive we arrived in Kuruman. Our hostel, the Leach Lodge, turned out to be quite a dump, but it's still a road trip so we took it easy.
We made the best of it, toast the new year early and go to bed just as early.
Day 7 „Leaving Leach Lodge“
The next day we quickly changed our bookings and left the Leach Lodge heading west - thankfully not having spent another night here. After a four-hour drive we arrived in Kakamas. We moved into a great guesthouse in the middle of the vineyards. Since we are in the hottest place in South Africa, we first took a dip in the pool and relaxed. In spite of the lockdown, we kindly got a wine menu on which we select our wine preferences. Shortly afterwards there was a knock on the door and we got our order delivered. What a service!
Day 8 „The discreet teapot“
After breakfast the next day we made a trip to the Augrabies Falls 40 kilometers northwest of Kakamas. We take a short hike and explored the area around the border river “Orange River” to Namibia. Countless trails and lookout decks make the arial very exciting. Back at the guesthouse we realized that we are almost alone and decided to stay here for another day. We ended the evening with a particularly good dinner and are happy about the delicious wine that we were served discreetly in a teapot.
Day 9 „Day Off“
The next day should turn out to be very rainy. Fortunately we were in a nice dry place and were able to recover from the exhausting days in camp and recharged our batteries. Apart from a few field recordings (rain ambiences), sports and reading, we spend the day relaxing.
Day 10 „What a view!“
The next day we drove through the pouring rain south to Springbok which marked our sixth stop on our road trip. After a short shopping stop in Springbok, we drove another three hours to our guesthouse, a large country house in the middle of the Namakwa mountains. Once again we were almost the only guests to what we could gradually get used to. We stayed in a self-catered bungalow and set ourselves up, cooked pasta and lighted up the fireplace. We ended the evening lying on the car roof watching the stars. What a view!
Day 11 „First-aid kit“
After breakfast we went on a two-hour hike in the area around our guesthouse. Towards the end of our hike we encountered a group of oryx antelopes - very impressive!
Back at the house, I felt sick! Plagued by stomach pain, I was tied to bed and had to recover. Thanks to our good first-aid kit, I was able to feel better quickly.
In the evening we watched the sunset from a viewpoint. A good end to an unusual day.
Day 12 „We are getting closer to our final destination“
Early in the morning we continued driving south to the Ceder mountains. We were getting closer and closer to our final destination: Cape Town! Fortunately, I was feeling better again and after a five-hour drive on a monotonous motorway and a pass high into the Ceder mountains, we reached our accommodation in the middle of an impressive rock formation. On our campground there was a beautiful lake ideal for swimming, a campsite and fire pits for grilling. We moved into our lovely cabin and after checking in we climbed up the surrounding rocks to enjoy an amazing sunset. We ended the evening drinking our last bottle of wine sitting by the campfire.
Day 13 „Natural pools and local gin“
After breakfast we hiked to a nearby waterfall with natural pools that invited us to swim. Back in camp we swam in the lake and tried to escape the biting heat. In the afternoon we set off to find some drinks and luckily found local gin in an old ranch in the middle of nowhere! On the way back we shoot a few more videos with our Hilux 4x4 truck - knowing we had to return it soon…
Back in camp we had delicious Braai and let the evening fade out with a few gin tonic and mourn a little that the road trip would soon come to an end.
Day 14 „Finale in Hout Bay“
We left our camp early because we had the last long drive ahead of us. After a little more than three hours we arrived at Cape Town airport where we had to drop off our Hilux 4x4 truck at Bushlore. With a heavy heart, carefully noted - it was a really special time!
We picked up our new rental car and drove fully packed towards Hout Bay. The VW Golf 7 feels like a toy car compared to the Toyota Hilux 4x4. Exhausted we reached our final stop “Uli’s Guesthouse” and are warmly welcomed by our friends Uli and Patrick, who we have known for many years now! Due to the Corona pandemic we were the first guests in over 9 months.
Having arrived safely in Hout Bay we happily looked back on a great inspiring journey! In the evening we celebrated the end of our road trip in our favourite Restaurant/Bar "Dunes" in Hout Bay.
I stayed in Cape Town till the end of February 2021 to process the vibes and to work on this special project!
All in all, it was a very impressive and inspiring road trip. Despite a few stones that were put on our way - due to the current corona pandemic and the difficult travel situation that comes with it - we managed to have an unbelievable time. It showed us that it is still possible to travel (responsibly, of course) and we wanted to share this knowledge and our experiences with you with this blog post.
Hope you enjoy this special pack!
ON THE RUN: 60 Days In South Africa out now: Link to the pack!
Additional writing: SVRN
Photo editing: Philipp Levinger