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When, What and Where of the Kruger National Park

The Kruger National Park is one of my favourite places to visit in South Africa. I’m not a big fan of the beach. But I can regularly find myself going through hundreds if not thousands of photos and reminiscing about our visits there. The thought of our African bush brings up memories of wilderness, beautiful sunsets, and safari drives which all give me goosebumps.

Elephant in Kruger National Park

 

Where to Stay

Ngwenya Lodge (our favourite accommodation when visiting the park)

You can also go to Kruger Park’s site to find a camp or lodge that suits your fancy.

Kruger National Park Lions

Things to do

Game Viewing – Spoil yourself with an array of fauna by joining guided game drives in the African bush. These game drives are offered by camps inside the park. Be an early bird to catch the tranquil atmosphere during morning drives.

You can also drive yourself which is what we do every time. Driving around for the whole day is such a treat and adventure. We always hope to spot the famed Big Five – lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo. And on one rainy day in February we were lucky enough to spot them all.

I also have the Kruger Sightings App. This is great to have for your visit to the park.

Wilderness Trails – If you are feeling more adventurous, they also have guided walks through the bushveld, where a guide will take you on all the hidden trails that you can’t reach by car. The Bushmans Trail, Napi Trail, Nyalaland Trail, Sweni Trail, and Wolhuter Trail are the most coveted three-day-long walking safaris in Kruger National Park.

Other Outdoor Thrills – Visit the carved rock paintings of the Bush people, go bird watching, chase your thrills, experience the magic of a hot air balloon safari from Hoedspruit,(this is on my bucket list) and have a traditional South African braai. And if you are feeling more sophisticated, get a hole-in-one at the Skukuza Golf Course.

Shopping – Some of the private lodges have small shops that sell unique jewelry, t-shirts, gift items, and souvenirs. I collect animal skulls and love going to the shops to see if they have one I can add to my collection. I got a crocodile skull from Skukuza which died of natural causes. And it’s still displayed in my living room.

 

When to visit

I’ve read on a few websites that they recommend visiting the Kruger from April to August. Which is generally our winter months here in South Africa. And I have to disagree with that. For someone who has been there during all seasons before, I prefer Spring/Summer. Even better if there is rain in the forecast. The bushveld is lush and green and seeing all the baby animals is one of my favourite things.

 

rainy days in the kruger national park

Coming out to play in the rain.

kruger national park

zebra kruger national park

Remember

  • To pack your camera and binoculars.
  • Pack snacks and drinks if you’re driving through the Kruger in your own car.
  • NEVER feed the animals or litter! What kind of humans do this??
  • There are 9 entrance gates: Crocodile Bridge, Malelane, Phabeni, Paul Kruger, Orpen, Numbi, Phalaborwa, Punda Maria, and Pafuri.
  • All the stops, accommodation and restaurants are wheelchair friendly.

Kruger national park South Africa

If you love The Kruger as much as I do, then I would recommend checking out this book. 101 Kruger Tales by Jeff Gordon. It’s been on my wishlist for a while now, but I’ve read great reviews.

Sunset in the Kruger

I hope you enjoyed my post about my favourite place in South Africa because there will surely be a lot more posts to come. Have you ever been to The Kruger National Park? Or is it on your bucket list? Please subscribe if you would like to get notified when I post my other 1000 blog posts about this amazing place. ♥

 

 

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A Week at Ngwenya Lodge – Crocodile River

Situated right next to the Crocodile River just outside Komatiepoort, Ngwenya Lodge is one of my favourite places in South Africa to visit. Getting a riverside chalet is a must. You get to see elephants, lions, baboons and giraffes drinking from the river all from your chalet patio. Add a braai and a glass of wine, and what more could you ask for? Seven days hardly felt long enough. I could easily stay here for a month-long vacation without getting bored. But maybe that’s just the nomad inside me.

Ngwenya Lodge - Kruger National Park

a glass of wine and a gorgeous view

 

The views and the sunsets are magnificent. And I still remember the noise of the hippos playing in the river during the night. Just thinking back to it gives me goosebumps.

We were juggling 2 lenses for my canon and had to try to quickly change lenses when we saw something beautiful that we wanted a nice photo of. Not an easy task. But this was the result… Some nice photos that I really love, and some blurry photos that I also loved. Just because they all formed part of one of my best holidays to date.

The onsite restaurant also has a view of the river and the best Amarula pancakes you can imagine. Think pancake filled with a decadent ice cream and all of that soaked in Amarula. While enjoying this delicacy, we saw a herd of elephants come down to the river for a splash and drink of water.

They have so much to keep you busy on the days that you don’t feel like driving through The Kruger. On one evening before we went to dinner, we stopped by the games room. And we were the only two in there.

We started playing this crazy Dance Off game. And I can honestly say that although my husband won, I have never had so much fun. We were still crying with laughter when we showed up to our dinner. I have video footage of this but will never be forgiven if I shared it here. Hahaha

Entering the Kruger National Park from here is the Crocodile Bridge Gate, only 5km’s away.

If you want to see our Kruger Park visits, CLICK HERE.

Let me leave you with these awesome breathtaking photos to do rest of the talking.

Early Morning breakfast while watching all the animals make their way down the side of the river.

This is by far my favourite destination in South Africa at the moment. I love wild animals and the bushveld. And it awakes something inside my heart that no beach could ever come close to doing.

Check out Ngwenya Lodge here.

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Ngwenya Lodge- Kruger National Park - South Africa - Wildlife - Hippos

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MSC Cruise – What to pack & Embarkation Tips

If you are anything like me, you start packing your suitcase a week or more before any holiday. You’ll have lists of what to remember and lists of things you still need to buy. Or you may be more like my husband, who can pack everything he needs, into a small suitcase, the night before.

                                                             Inside our Balcony Cabin

To say I over packed for our MSC cruise, would be an understatement. I had a massive suitcase and had to pay for the extra weight at the airport when we checked in… Something that my husband didn’t find funny at all. He always tells me that I overpack and he likes to prove to me he was right when we get home after a holiday and most of the clothes in my suitcase are still unworn. But a girl’s got to have choices, right?

 

Either way, we all have probably learned that what you pack or what you forget to pack, can impact your holiday immensely.We flew down from OR Tambo in Johannesburg to Durban, where we boarded the MSC Opera at the port in Durban.

Embarkation day is usually just waiting around on the Cruise ship for your room to be ready. and depending on the weather in the city you’re in, in Durban it’s usually extremely hot, sitting on the deck in the sun. I wore a lightweight jean, flowy top and sandals. Which worked out perfectly. But make sure to check out the weather while you pack so that you know what to wear on the embarkation day.

My list of things to remember:

  1. Pain Medication – For that unexpected headache.
  2. Seasickness Meds – Although I didn’t get seasick at all, it hit my husband hard on the first day of the cruise. and we paid a mini fortune to buy nausea tablets on the cruise.
  3. Reading Material – Your favourite book for relaxing on the deck next to the pool.
  4. A Cardigan that goes with everything – After shivering through a dinner in an icy cold cruise dining room, I was extremely happy that I always pack a trusty cardigan that goes with evening wear and jean when dressing down.
  5. Don’t forget your passport!
  6. Sunblock – For the obvious reason.
  7. Your Camera and camera charger.
  8. Chronic Medication – If like me, you need them.
  9. Binoculars – For the endless views.
  10. Card Holder – Your massive day to day wallet will be a hassle to carry around on the cruise. Instead, invest in a small card holder to store your cruise cards.

Bath towels and pool/beach towels available on board.

What to Wear on a Cruise

 

My choice of reading material will be Coco related 85% of the time. ♥

Now that you have the packing out of the way, here’s a list of my personal tips to make embarkation day easy peasy.

Unpack when you first arrive at your cabin. I find that this makes it easier to look for outfits for the rest of the cruise. Or maybe it’s a hint of OCD. Either way, it beats rummaging through your suitcase every morning and night.

Pack away dirty clothes. If you are not going to send that outfit to the onboard dry cleaners and wear it again, pack it away. We usually put them away in one of the suitcases. This will make it so much easier to pack up on the last night of the cruise. 

Schedule your flight at a reasonable time. Disembarkation day can take time. So make sure you have a flight booked at a reasonable time so that you don’t panic or even worse, miss your flight. 

And lastly, just a random tip… Take public transportation where possible on excursions. Instead of taking the bus when we got to Madagascar, we got a taxi. We paid the driver a bit extra and he took us to all the private, secluded beaches and local hot spots. It was one of the best decisions we made.

I hope you find this helpful! Have you ever been on a cruise? Or is a cruise on your bucket list? Please tell me in the comments below.

 

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Winter Getaway in Drakensberg

In Winter 2007, 10 years ago, we booked a winter getaway to the Drakensberg. And due to unforeseen circumstances, we had to cancel. Since then, every winter, we said that this year will be the year we go. And we finally made the booking early in May. We searched the web and went through a lot of accommodation websites. When we finally decided on Dumbe Cottages.

Last week Friday, we packed our bags, met with our dog sitter and off we went. As we drove the 12km gravel road, passing wild horses and getting closer to the cottage, we started anticipating what we thought it would be like. But nothing, and I really mean nothing, could have prepared us for the beautiful, breathtaking view and cozy cottage. It was cloudy and misty, which obviously added to my excitement!

The wind was freezing, but inside the cottage was a fireplace which my husband immediately started. We had a drink next to the fireplace and enjoyed the view before it got dark. Then we made good use of that jacuzzi bath.

On Saturday we woke up to gushing winds, and -2 degrees at 7 am weather but we stuck to our plans for the day. My husband made us a lovely breakfast and off we went. We drove around the 2 small towns close by and eventually went for lunch at Little Switzerland Hotel. I really loved the whole look of the dining room there. It reminded me of The Shining.  And although lunch was so nice, nothing compares to the carrot cake I had. I had the best carrot cake of my life. I wish I could have thanked the chef personally, but sadly I couldn’t. So Mr. Chef, if you ever end up reading this, thank you! Really, thank you for baking the best carrot cake I ever had in my entire 31 years of life.

Afterwards, we went back to the cottage and took a cozy nap. We had such an amazing, romantic and relaxing weekend. And if I could ever recommend a winter getaway, Dumbe Cottages would be it. My husband I both agreed, we will definitely be back. It definitely doesn’t hurt when you have the best travel buddy in the world… (Croukamp, dis jy) xxx

 

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Crystal Springs – Mpumalanga

I have to admit, I really love the bushveld. I would pick it over the beach any day. And I’m lucky that my husband feels exactly the same. We would hardly ever have a holiday where we didn’t agree on where we should go. Crystal Springs is usually one of those easy choices when we want to break away. Not only is it not that far of a drive (4hours) from Johannesburg, but it’s so relaxing and beautiful too. Not to mention that we’ve been there more than a few times already.

We usually book one of the Lodges close to the cliff with beautiful views. I love waking up to the misty mountain views.

It’s close to the old mining village Pilgrim’s Rest. We’ll go have breakfast pancakes at the Silver Spoon Restuarant in Graskop and then go to the Royal Hotel to have a few drinks and walk down the street full of shops.

Reading the newspaper, looking all hot and stuff. 

The cool thing about Crytal Springs is that it has a lot of different pools, a spa, a restaurant and bar all on site. If we feel like not having a relaxing night in, we go have pizza in the restaurant and then go have a few drinks in the bar. Usually, while we are on holiday there,  I always book an appointment at the spa. Be it to do my nails, or get a massage.

 

We had a braai almost every night, because well… my husband is the best braaier but also the sunsets were amazing. On one of the nights, there was a power outage at the resort and we actually enjoyed it. The stars and the sky was absolutely something to experience. It’s not something you get to see often when you live in the city.

On this specific holiday, we took my wheelchair with, as I was starting to need it more. Although all the lodges we have stayed in thus far are not wheelchair friendly, it was quite easy to get around inside, with the help of my husband. I don’t think I’ll exchange the lodge with an astounding view for a wheelchair friendly lodge/cabin/chalet. But that’s just me. Wherever we had a few steps to use, the staff was so helpful and accommodating.

We are planning a trip there again, hopefully soon, and I can’t wait.

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The Galley Beach Bar in Ballito

Late in 2014, we decided to have a spur of the moment holiday. We wanted to go to the Dolphin coast and visit our friends there too. And we obviously took Django, our Jack Russell along.

Because Django was only a few months old, accommodation wasn’t really a big problem.

So we went on a mission to find cool restaurants and places we can go where we can take him with. We came across The Galley Beach Bar and Grill in Ballito. Such an awesome place.

Not only are they pet-friendly, but they are right on the beach as well. Which meant a beautiful view while you enjoy your lunch and drinks. They also have a menu for your beloved pet! How cool is that?! Not to mention, we went back there twice.  Another bonus… it’s wheelchair friendly too!

I will definitely recommend this place if you are in Ballito. Bring your canine, enjoy a delicious meal and a walk on the beach.