Kayaking With Penguins on the Western Cape

One of the most memorable and fun experiences of our South Africa trip was kayaking south of Cape Town. We needed another opportunity to commune with nature and animals, so we took a guided tour of the beach home to cape fur seals and penguins in Simon’s Town.

The two hour tour is called Paddle with the Penguins.  The two hour kayak in the bay allowed us to see penguins and more. We were really lucky with the weather, which was warm and cloudy, and the sea, which was calm.

Our guide, Terry, a marine conservationist with Shark Warrior Adventure Centre, was a trove of information about the penguins. He also led us near seals and sea birds and told us all about these marine animals and their home in Simon’s Town, all while guiding 8 of us through the very calm but busy waters of False Bay.

kayak penguin tour
Getting ready to kayak False Bay

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Cape Town: A Hike up Table Mountain

Cape Town is a beautiful city, located on the shore of Table Bay, and dominated by Table Mountain, Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head. Since we arrived in Cape Town, we knew we wanted to climb Table Mountain. It’s a Cape Town landmark, and even has cable cars to bring the more sedentary to the peak and back.

We stayed in Cape Town for 4 days and based on weather forecasts and our schedule, the best day to hike to the top of Table Mountain was New Year’s Day. We had a couple days of cloudy skies, and since we wanted views, we waited for a clear day. And New Year’s Day delivered with the weather, so we started the New Year with an early morning walk up Table Mountain.

Table Mountain hike
Brian at the sign marking the start of our hike

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Walking Around Cape Town: Bo-Kaap Tour

When I go to a new city, I like to get acclimated to the place through a guided tour. Bike tours are scarce in Cape Town, probably because of all the hills, but there are good guided tours thanks to Cape Town Free Walking Tours.

Cape Town Free Walking Tours offers 3 walking tour options at 2 different times of day. Our first day in Cape Town, we took the tour of Bo-Kaap.

Bo-Kaap Tour
Bo-Kaap
Photo taken on the Bo-Kaap walking tour

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Kruger Park Accommodations: Skukuza Rest Camp

This is the final installment in posts about Kruger Park accommodations with our last night’s camp, Skukuza Rest Camp.

Night Five: Skukuza Rest Camp

On our last night in Kruger Park, we stayed in the biggest camp yet, Skukuza. This camp is so big, it has car rental and conference facilities, 2 restaurants and a lot more. Despite the size, our rondovel bungalow was charming.  Because Skukuza was so big, we were able to take a guided walk in the afternoon of our arrival, where we saw Rhinos!

Rhino Skukuza Walk
Guided Walk – all looking at a rhino
Rhino Skukuza Kruger
A rhino we saw on our walk from Skukuza

The camp was also home to a lot of monkeys trying to scavenge for food. But one thing we learned while in Kruger is never feed the animals.

Skukuza Monkey
Monkey on the path, Skukuza

Skukuza is a couple of hours drive from the southern park entrances, and we had to get to Johannesburg Airport for the next stage of our holiday. We both would have happily stayed longer in Kruger Park. The wildlife, the people, the accommodations: it all added up to a great experience.

Kruger Park Accommodations: Tamboti Tent Camp

This is the fourth in a series about Kruger Park accommodations. We travelled from north to south and booked accommodations in advance.  We spent our fourth night at Tamboti Tent Camp.

Night Four: Tamboti Tent Camp
Tamboti Camp Kruger Park
Tamboti is the star on the map of Kruger Park

Tamboti tent camp is one of the smaller camps in Kruger, remote and peaceful. It’s the only camp we stayed in which doesn’t even have a reception desk – to check in at Tamboti, we had to first stop in at the bigger Orpen Rest Camp a few kilometers east.

Tamboti is a type of tree, and it’s a poisonous tree. Fortunately we didn’t have any experiences with the Tamboti tree; just the camp named for it.

Our lodging at Tamboti was a big tent with a bedroom and bathroom inside, and an outdoor kitchen on a deck, which we quite liked.

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Kruger Park Accommodations: Olifants Rest Camp

The third post about accommodations in Kruger National Park is our Christmas night camp, Olifants Rest Camp.

Night Three: Olifants Rest Camp
Kruger Olifants
Map of Kruger with Olifants camp

Olifants is one of the biggest campsites at Kruger Park, and was the biggest we’d seen when we arrived there on Christmas Day. It even had a restaurant and a pool for the kiddies.

When we pulled into the camp on Christmas Day afternoon, the place was packed. The day visitors’ centre was full of locals cooking their Christmas brais. It calmed down at night, but is still a large place with a lot of cottages, campsites and more.

Olifants camp is on a cliff overlooking the Olifants River. Olifants means elephant and is named as such because the elephants love that river. We had an air conditioned bungalow with a deck overlooking Olifants River.

Olifants River Kruger Park
Olifants River

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Kruger Park Accommodations: Shimuwini Bushveld Camp

This is the second in a series of posts about the great places to stay in Kruger National Park.

Night Two: Shimuwini Bushveld Camp

Shimuwini was special! It’s a small camp with a reception area and not much else besides the houses for guests. Because of it’s location on the Groot Letaba River, it felt like a summertime resort, and we had our own house, a riverfront cottage with a beautiful view. Our cottage had 2 bedrooms, a bathroom, full kitchen, living room, and back patio with brai. We arrived early enough to walk next to the river and onto the bird viewing deck. We thought this place was blissful, but, surprisingly, there was limited animal life in the river, aside from birds. Still, a gorgeous place to spend Christmas Eve.

Because we had the stunning river view, even from our bed, we woke up early on Christmas Day to take in the sunrise and then enjoy our coffee on the patio. Lots of birds visited us there. We would have stayed longer at Shimuwini if we could as it was our favorite place in Kruger, but we had to move south.

Shimuweni Kruger Park accommodation
Our house at Shimuweni Camp

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Spotting the Big Five in Kruger Park

Before I went to Kruger National Park – my first ever safari experience – I was excited to see ANY wild animals. I had heard of “The Big 5” but wasn’t even sure which animals were labelled within that group. We learned from a guide during one of the organized walks that this term originally comes from hunters. As a result, hunters considered the biggest animals the most important for their trophy cases and thus the Big 5 designation was created

It is a goal for many safari goers to see all of “The Big 5.” While this wasn’t my goal, the whole park experience pushes that as a priority. Each campsite has a couple of boards where people can mark their daily sightings of these most wanted wild animals, plus some other rare and interesting animals. Except the rhino. Due to these beautiful animals being close to extinction, the park will not advertise sightings of rhinoceros as a way to protect them against poachers. Because of this, a rhino sighting is a tough find.

For the most part, we drove around, did a couple of walking tours, and just enjoyed our sightings of all the animals and birds. But in the back of our minds, especially as the days passed, we did still hope to see all of the big 5.

Here’s a rundown on our Big 5 sightings in Kruger National Park: Continue reading “Spotting the Big Five in Kruger Park”

Kruger Park: Animal Crossings

Kruger National Park in South Africa is a wonderful place. If you like the outdoors and wild animals, this is already on your list to visit, or should be. I just spent 6 days and 5 nights there and am compiling all the photos, videos and stories for future posts!

One of the unique things about Kruger National Park is that visitors drive along the roads looking for wild animals. The park is the animals’ home so humans are not supposed to walk around except in camps or with guides. Drive slowly so you don’t miss an animal, and so you don’t miss a car suddenly stopping in front of you because the driver has just seen an animal! Sometimes you don’t even need to look for animals, because they just decide to cross the road immediately in front of you.

Here are a few examples of animal crossings in Kruger National Park last week:

Buffalo Crossing

Wild buffalo are very cool imposing creatures. They look almost medieval. When these cross the road, we wait for them. Buffalo are one of the so-called “Big Five” so it’s exciting to see them, even when they are in the way.*

*Please note: all talk of being inconvenienced by animal crossings is tongue in cheek! We loved it!

Buffalo Crossing
Buffalo Crossing the road
Elephant Crossing

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I Like This Place! Corn Islands

Corn Island Beach
Corn Island Beach

Brian and I made it to Corn Islands on Saturday morning, and it’s very relaxing. There are a few things to do here in Corn Islands: scuba dive, lie on the beach, drink beer and/or rum, eat seafood, relax in the sun and/or shade, repeat. That’s been us for the first 2 days of our stay here. We like it.

We are staying in a really cool “eco-cabin” up a hill with a nice view of the sea. This is our view from the deck/patio, and from our bed.

Los Escapados Corn Island
View from our patio, Corn Islands

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