A good, non-touristy game restaurant. More difficult to find that I imagined. A number of people we spoke to went to the tourist-favorite Mama Africa, but I was determined to find something more authentic. Luckily for me, I came across Savoy Cabbage doing some internet research and it ended up being a fabulous choice for game and a champagne bar!! I love champagne bars!
We made reservations easily online and our table was waiting when we arrived. The interior of the restaurant was so cute and the service was impeccable. More important, however, they had a good selection of game done in a modern way. Fantastic!
We really wanted to visit a few wineries during our time in Cape Town but we didn’t want to drive (due to all the tasting we planned to do) so we decided to take a full day tour. There are a lot of options, and we ended up going with Wine Flies, and are so glad that we did. This tour went to 5 vineyards, included all wines, cheese and chocolate tastings and lunch, and only cost about $55 USD a person. Our guide, Riaan, was super knowledgeable and laid back. Really, I cannot say enough great things about this tour!!
Dan and I began our trip to Southern Africa in Cape Town, South Africa! Cape Town is a gorgeous, historical city with so much to offer! Literally, it has beaches, mountains, great food, even better wine, craft beer, so much history, a mix of people and an evolving political climate. Cape Town makes for such an interesting place to visit. Main picture from the top of Table Mountain and below are some more favorites!
Dan and I had a brief, overnight layover in Johannesburg (“Jo’Burg”) when transferring between Victoria Falls and our safari near Kruger. We were hoping to go strait from the airport to Kruger, but the only flight from Livingstone, Zambia (one of the two airports near Vic Falls) got in too late to make the 5-hour drive, and we just made a night out of it!
Unfortunately we did not have enough time to see the city – and I really want to go back and explore more – but we did have enough time to enjoy the luxurious hotel 54 on Bath and have a delicious, delicious meal at Cube Tasting Kitchen.
Our afternoon started with 54 on Bath sending a luxury car to pick us up from JNB (private transfers are about $65 US…there is a cheaper train). Upon checking into the hotel, we were taken straight to our room, which was so lovely! The entire hotel is done in black and white theme and it is super nice! Our room was very large with a king bed, luxurious bathroom and included snacks and coffee! My favorites were the complementary sweet treats!
The hotel also has a Champagne bar with outdoor seating and some FABULOUS wall paper!
The wall paper. LOVE.
We spent the afternoon outside overlooking the pool and croquet course with a bottle of South African sparking wine and South African fried cheese. And I can’t forget, the flowers were beautiful!
After, we changed and went to a delightful 10-course tasting menu at Cube Tasting Kitchen, a BYOB restaurant about 10-minutes from our hotel that has freshly prepared meals by about 10 chefs. Its ranked very highly and you can make reservations online. We brought one bottle of wine for the two of us, but many tables brought two for two people given the large number of courses.
First course: light salad from the garden. Tomato, basil, garlic, olive oil, aubergine, mozzarella, mint, chili, vinaigrette film. This was simple, but so, so tasty!!!
Second course: antipasto interpretation. Artichoke, asparagus, cucumber, apple, elderflower. That arancini was awesome!
Third course: fish pie. Trout, white anchovy, spinach, pastry, lime. The anchovy (wrapped in the thing reminiscent of a birds nest) was surprisingly delicious!
Fourth course: dissolving textures. Pomegranate, sherbet, caviar. Woah. This was such a crazy combination. The chef suggested taking it like a tequila shot, with sugar on your hand, a shot of pomegranate and finished with the caviar sherbet. Mind blown.
Fifth course: pork. Smoked eisbein pie, slow cooked belly, crackling and onion, dehydrated bacon, leeks. How can you go wrong with pork?
Sixth course: beef. Braised flank, bone, herb moss, olives, mushroom, dried onion, fennel. Even with marrow, this was my least favorite course. Perhaps I was stuffed at this point.
Seventh course: refresher. Horseradish, celery.
Eighth course: cheese. Pasteis de queijo. Very Portuguese.
Dan & I stayed in a private game reserve (Vuyani Lodge) on safari, but we took a full-day trip into Kruger National Park to experience one of South Africa’s most famous attractions! We went through our lodge with one other couple and one of the lodge’s guides in a large van. Above are some of my favorite sightings and shots from the day! My favorite thing about Kruger compared to a private lodge is the opportunity to see large groups of animals in such an expansive, natural location.
For those unfamiliar, Kruger National Park is a HUGE game park located in Northeastern South Africa and bordered by Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
There are nine entrances to the park and it is impossible to see the entire park in one day!
For our day- trip, we lined up at the Orpen gate at 6:15 and entered at 6:30 a.m. – right when it opened! The park only lets so many cars in a day and we wanted to be sure we were one of those cars! It was also Easter and expected to be super busy! There’s the line at 6:15 a.m. No joke!
Upon entering the park gate, we stopped to sign in (name & nationality) and then proceeded through another gate, where guards checked most cars for alcohol, among other things. There is strictly no outside booze allowed in the park. They are very serious about this. They also check for any sign of poaching, specifically Rhino poaching, on the way in and out. Poaching rhino for their horn is a HUGE problem in Africa and Kruger is very serious about preventing it!
Once through the gate, there are a number of roads right through the park and you are free to drive wherever you wish – as long as its on-road. There is absolutely no off-roading in Kruger!! The animals walk across the roads, on the roads, near the roads…they really aren’t scared of the cars at all. There is also a strict policy of not getting out of your vehicle (expect in special areas or on special tours). This made for some interesting picture taking:
But we still had great sightings and got some great shots! My favorite – a baby zebra with brown stripes!!
Also normal zebra:
We also saw a herd of over 100 elephants that crossed the road right in front of us! Scary and amazing!
Including a BABY ELEPHANT:
And some HUGE elephants while eating breakfast, which reminded me so much of the Amarula elephants! See?!
Lots of hippos in the water, and one coming out!
African Monarch butterflies:
Some cool birds, the shiny blue one was my favorite:
Including a white vulture:
The tallest and prettiest giraffes:
An ostrich: Herds of impala:
Cape Buffalo (one of the BIG 5):
This adorable mountain-goat-type animal:
Lots of monkeys & baboons:
Yeah, we had A LOT of great sightings and Dan and I loved our day trip! If you are close to Kruger and you have never been, I truly think its a must-do! Kruger is home to the Big 5 (elephant, lion, leopards, cape buffalo and rhino) and is a great place for sighting them; however, keep in mind that sightings are never guaranteed and very much dependent on luck. If you are dead-set on seeing a specific animal on your trip, you may consider researching companies that specialize in that certain type of animal. Also, on your day-trip, the early morning and late afternoon will most likely be the most exciting part of the trip (because the animals are moving then when the temperatures begin to drop). Bring something to keep you occupied during the day (I napped…).
In terms of food, we did not see a lot of restaurants from which to purchase water or food (look this up before you go!) but the rest area at the Orpen entrance had a store that sold snacks and camping supplies. We stopped for breakfast and lunch at two of the picnic spots throughout the park and used the park’s grills to make breakfast and lunch! In those areas, its safe to get out of the car and eat in the open.
Some thoughts and tips:
1. Bring a lot of water and some food (for yourself, not the animals). Finding places to buy food and drink seemed difficult…
2. Get in early in see the animals and to be sure the car quota isn’t met before you get in!
3. If you drive yourself, study up on what to do if you see an animal close-up. We relied on our guide, who was super knowledgeable, but it could have been scary without him!
4. You can stay in Kruger park through one of its own rest camps (which includes a variety of options from tents to luxurious accommodations) or through a private tour that goes through Kruger over several days.
Dan and I ended our South African trip with a four-night safari in Northeastern, South Africa, at a small safari lodge about 20 miles from Kruger National Park. I had planned to blog our trip in order, but since so many people have asked about the safari, I decided to start with it!
Dan & I on safari!
A friend recommend that we “save the best for last,” and she was totally right! We absolutely loved the safari and cannot wait to come back to Africa and do it again!
Hello! After a far-too-long hiatus, wareontheglobe is back! The postings fell behind due to a two-week vacation to Southern Africa and preparations leading up to it (i.e. clearing my plate at my paying job for the trip!).
As you may have gathered, Dan and I took two weeks and traveled to South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe earlier this month. We took this trip as an early 30th birthday celebration for Dan. What a treat, and so worth it!! I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the entire trip was amazing! I will be posting a lot about our trip, as so many people have already asked for information about it and how feasible such a trip would be for them. While waiting for the more detailed posts, here is a sneak peak to tide you over!
For starters, we flew direct from JFK to Johannesburg, South Africa (JNB or “Jo’burg” as everyone calls it) with South African Airways on a 14.5 hour flight (yes, that was a ridiculously long flight) and then transferred to Cape Town for six lovely days!
Cape Town is a BEAUTIFUL city right on the Southwestern tip of the continent. We sampled delicious, delicious wines in Stellenbosch, hiked around the Cape of Good Hope, bronzed on the beach (as Dan says), saw the famous penguins and took a boat to Robben Island to see where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. Our time in Cape Town was amazing and while we stayed six nights, one with limited time could do the highlights in just a few days. Here are some of my favorites – full post to follow:
After Cape Town, we flew back to Jo’burg (1.5 hours or so) and then transferred to Livingstone, Zambia (another 1.5 hours) to see Victoria Falls for three nights! We split our time between the Zimbabwe and Zambia sides of Victoria Falls (or “Vic Falls” as the locals call it) Another wonderful experience, but a bit of an effort to reach, requiring a connection in JNB each way. If you want to visit Victoria Falls, you need to stay AT LEAST two nights and I would recommend longer. There are many activities to do aside from the Falls, including elephant-back safaris, helicopter rides, a walk on the edge of the falls, day trips to Botswana to see the game reserves there, rhino walks, and any dare devil activity you can imagine! Here are a few highlights from our trip – a view of the falls from a helicopter and the Botoka Gorge just beyond the falls. Another full post to follow!
After Victoria Falls, we flew back to Jo’burg, spent a night there at the lovely Bath on 54 hotel and dined on a 10-course tasting menu at Cube Tasting Kitchen. I’ll have to come back to JNB to see the city! Here is a shot of the hotel pool with Jo’burg in the background from our room.
We saved the best for last, ending our trip with a safari near Kruger Park, South Africa. We stayed at the luxurious Vuyani Lodge and saw lots of zebra, giraffes, elephants, monkeys and even two cheetahs! I will be positing more about the safari but here are a few shots! We were so close to the animals!
In short, this was SUCH A FUN TRIP!!! And it was not nearly as difficult to plan and execute as I had imagined! Totally doable! While we took a long, leisurely two weeks, you can do this trip on a shorter time-frame. For example, Cape Town and a safari can be done on 10 days and one or the other could be done in a single week as long as you don’t mind the long flight! Prices were way more reasonable than I expected and everyone spoke English.
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