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South Africa

August 22, 2013

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Cape Town

My eyes are still heavy from the flight and my mind is trying to adjust to the fact that we aren’t in South Africa anymore. As much as I loved Paris, as much as I love New York, nothing can compare to South Africa.

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South Africa

In Cape Town, there is an edge, a raw beauty of a city built with the contours of nature. Known for their beaches during the summer (our winter), Cape is an outstanding place for surfing. But their winters bring a beauty of their own — with enchanting fog wrapped around Table Mountain and the entire range. We hiked Lions Head and Signal Hill to get some better views and watch the sunset. It was a bit cold up top but so lovely.

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An impromptu helicopter ride gave us stunning views of the entire cape.

South Africa

South Africa

South Africa

South Africa

We stayed at the lovely Welgelegen Hotel which made you feel one with the family as soon as you walk in the door, like you were home in a city you don’t recognize. They helped with anything we needed and by the time we left, we knew everyone there. Hugs were in order. (South Africans are huggers, so are Ohioans).  What a beautiful home to visit.

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As foodies, our search for the best in Cape Town came with a strong list. The amazing spots include Fork, La Mouette, La Boheme, The Pot Luck Club (where you write a list of the tapas you want!) and Myoga. Each one unique; each one perfection. Our cab drivers taught us so much about the town — the history, the people and the culture.

South Africa The Pot Luck Club

The beauty of the Indian Ocean merging with the brisk Atlantic Ocean is a view that will be ingrained in me forever. The Cape of Good Hope is one of the most beautiful places in the world, everyone suggested a day trip down. We spotted some amazing animals along the way; a baboon almost jumped on our car! We also visited the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens filled with some of the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen — plus very difficult hikes.

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South Africa

South Africa

South Africa

South Africa

Franschhoek is a wine country of it’s own world, a subtle hint of nostalgia in every sip of wine. There is a grape that can only be found in South Africa called Pinotage and I fell in love.

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We stayed at one of the “top 25 small hotels in the world,” Akademie Street Boutique Hotel and Guesthouse, which, again, felt like a home away from home. They have convinced me to have heated floors in my bathroom one day. And they gave us specialty chocolate (!!). Ryan’s Kitchen was our dinner of choice, with a reservation made long in advance as dinner is, in fact, in Ryan’s kitchen. A country kitchen filled with cabinets, jars of flour and three talented chefs is open for diners at small tables to watch. It’s a harsh yet delicate art, food.

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And Sabi Sand is its own world of adventure and unique stillness. Just on the west coast of Kruger National Park, one of the best safaris in the world, lies this private game reserve that is protected from hunters.

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We stayed at Exeter River Lodge, a lovely oasis quietly tucked next to a river where elephants and nyalas feed regularly. The all-inclusive space created a relaxing environment for the end of our trip, filled with afternoon siestas, flavorful food and tribal African experiences. We tried impala, just like the lions. (Below is a view from our balcony.)

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Game drives, sunrise and sunset, were also part of the deal. Searching for beautiful, yet deadly, animals for 6 hours a day, and finding them, is such an adrenaline rush. We saw all of the “Big 5” (elephant, rhino, buffalo, leopard and lion) twice over and so many other animals (giraffes being my favorite). And the hippos below made me laugh! They were great at synchronizing…

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We also rode every day with a wonderful group of people and got to know them well. So blessed to have met all of them and to share this connection. We had a ranger with us at all times, Mac, as well as a tracker, Colbert that were incredible at not only finding the animals, but getting there at the right time as well as stopping in the right place.

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The animals themselves were beyond what you imagine; more beautiful than you can muster and more powerful than you can assume. We watched three female lions sleep and then take down an impala within fifteen minutes. We had an young elephant bull charge us for no reason but in good fun to him which therein caused us to almost run over the leopard (!). We watched two male lions sniff out their female counterparts. We chased wild dogs through the bush for an hour… (I couldn’t get enough of the lions, as you see below. They were yawning, to be clear.)

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Gosh, the elephants were everywhere. As we drove into the reserve, Josh mentioned to the driver that the lion was king. Our driver laughed and said, “No, no. Elephant is king.” Boy, he was right.

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Elephant

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We saw 4 leopards, 5 lions, 1,000 buffalo (!!), 50 elephants, 15 giraffes, 4 rhino, 100,000 impala (that’s accurate),  countless amazing creatures and 5 wild dogs; one of the most endangered creatures in Africa. How lucky were we?

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Overall, South Africa is an experience. It is filled with adventure, wonderful people, history and graceful animals. What a week… thanks for indulging me and looking through the pictures. I felt like I could not capture enough. I hope you now understand why my computer became unwelcome during our trip. And why, the only thing I want to do now is watch The Lion King (I’ve heard it’s quite accurate).

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{Psst… all of our travel was booked through Rhino Africa and I HIGHLY recommend them. Niki was a wonderful part of this planning.}

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. August 22, 2013 3:34 pm

    JUST FABULOUS….WHAT AN ADVENTURE!!! PICTURES ARE BREATH TAKING

  2. August 22, 2013 4:50 pm

    You and Josh look like the luckiest people in the world – Thanks for a beautiful story – always feel like I’m right there with you – all the pictures are amazing but Gg likes the pictures with the two of you enjoying every minute of your journey-

    • August 28, 2013 12:04 pm

      I hope you know in every picture I take, I think of you saying, “Al, you should be in that picture.” It’s a good voice to hear.

  3. Karen johansen permalink
    September 1, 2013 9:51 pm

    AMAZING!!!!! You are truly blessed!!

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