Overland South Africa Road trip is an extension of an Overland Africa trip that started in Kenya. It’s an adventure on a shoestring. This post starts at Windhoek, the capital of Namibia.
The initial Africa road trip with Ben was over. He had parked his Toyota Land Cruiser in Windhoek and returned to Germany. I was on my own for the next leg.
South Africa was my next objective. I’d arrived in Windhoek yesterday with Ben and today I was on a 17-hour luxury bus to Cape Town.
Located in the Western Cape, Cape Town was first developed by the Dutch as a resupply station. It is famous for its harbor, beaches, surfing and landmarks such as Table Mountain, Cape Point, Lions Head, Signal Hill, etc. It’s a city with a National Park in its center.
Overland South Africa – Table Mountain Trek, Cape Town
And once I saw Table Mountain I was determined to hike to the top. A cable car ride is one option. There are also multiple foot routes to the top. These include one on the side facing the city (the face) and many on the backside. I picked the backside since it is less steep.
Click to watch Video 112, Table Mountain Trek, Cape Town
The trail was easy to follow but the sun and the incline did not make for leisurely going.
Near the top it was a bit more confusing because there are multiple trails. I spot ladders in the distance so assumed that that was a main route.
As I approach the top gondola station I crossed the path that comes up the side facing the city. A very steep and scree covered slope.
The view from up here was spectacular but at a price. My options were either a ride down in the gondola or a scramble down the nearby scree slope.
Overland South Africa – Tsitsikamma National Park
Click to watch Episode 113, Tsitsikamma National Park
After Cape Town I traveled the Garden Route east to the Tsitsikamma National Park, but first I wanted to visit the Southern-most tip of Africa and stand at the junction of the Indian and Atlantic oceans. And then we continued along the Garden Route east.
The beaches here are misty and peculiar (as are the animals). Even though it was a rainy day I decided to set out for the local water falls.
The trail hugged the stony shore and a large cave. All boys raised on Batman comics love caves and especially big ones. I did a bit of exploring but it was quite boring and didn’t appear natural.
After much walking in the rain I reached the Tsitsikamma waterfalls.
Overland South Africa – Hole in the Wall Hike, Coffee Bay
Click to watch Episode 114, Hole in the Wall Hike, Coffee Bay
This adventure took place in South Africa’s Coffee Bay, located on the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape.
The town of 258 people was named after the hundreds of coffee trees, which grew from beans scattered by shipwrecks.
Today’s trek is to visit the Hole-in-the-Wall. No not a building! It’s a geological site. And yes it is a huge hole in a wall of rock.
I set out from the creatively named Coffee Shack Backpackers.
There was no specific trail to follow. I was told, “just head west along the coast and at some point you will find it around a bend.”
There is no shortage of waterfalls along this wet and rocky coastline.
In the distance I spot my objective. Wow. A hole in a wall! I get it.
Overland South Africa – Mpuzi Search, Coffee Bay
Click to watch Episode 115, Mpuzi Search, Coffee Bay
This is another Coffee Bay outing. Today I set out with Boudewijn (nicknamed Hank) and Emily to find Mapuzi, advertised as a spot with caves & mind-blowing cliff jumps. But what a strange name! What was it called again?
We didn’t have a map. We were told to head east along the coast and ask directions along the way. Was this a prank from the Happy Days TV series? Who’s going to ask “we’re is Mapuzi?
I’m not asking directions, I’m a guy and the name is too dumb. Se we got Emily to ask. We were hopelessly incapable of finding the hidden Mapuzi. The kids volunteer to climb to higher ground in hopes of seeing something that loks like Mapuzi.
The boy was determined to find Mapuzi but the coast looked the same in all directions. So they decide to go for a swim and jump off the rocks.
That deserved a reward. Potato chips and Pepsi to the rescue. After lunch they decide to check out the waves. Crazy
Overland South Africa – Rock Paintings, Drakensburg
Click to watch Episode 116, Rock Paintings, Drakensburg
In this episode we visit the Drakensburg mountain range where I meet up with Hank from Holland and Liz from NY.
Obviously our objective was to see some bushman rock paintings. And we got a guide (required) to show us the paintings and fill us in on other interesting local facts.
Watch the video for all the interesting details.
Overland South Africa – Tugela Falls, Drakensburg
Click to watch Episode 117, Tugela Falls, Drakensburg
In our last episode the local rock painting guide mentioned the Tugela falls. Tugela means ‘sudden’ in Zulu. The falls are located in the Drakensburg mountains (or Dragon’s Mountains) in South Africa’s Kwazulu Natal region.
We decide to follow the Tugela River upstream to the base of the falls. Our route was a clearly marked trail.
The falls are generally accepted as the 2nd tallest in the world after Venezuela’s Angel Falls. The combined total drop of its falls is 948 m (3,110ft). The source of the falls is the Mont-Aux-Sources plateau.
Two thirds of the way to the falls the landscape changed from forest to a narrow ravine.
Let the bouldering stage begin. As with all ravines, there is a lot of up and down, twist and turns.
Wow it is spectacular waterfalls. I wondered how we could get to the top?
Overland South Africa – Sentinel Peak Trek
Click to watch Episode 118, Sentinel Peak Trek
In the last episode we were at the foot of Tugela Falls and wondered how to get to the top. The answer was via Sentinel Peak.
The spectacularly beautiful mountain-hiking trail to the top of Mount-Aux-Sources starts at the Sentinel car park, on the backside of the amphitheater, at 2,500 m (or 8,200 ft) above sea level.
The top is at 3,254 m (or 11,000 ft). The day’s hike required a gain just over 750 m (almost 2,500 ft).
A fresh rock slide made me wonder how smart it was to hike along the rock face. But what were the alternatives?
We had been warned that the route had a steep section that required climbing up chain ladders. Really long hand high chain ladders that were not for the faint of heart.
Near the top we took a break at a small un-named falls.
The top (Mount-Aux-Sources) is a vast flat expanse with a marsh that runs in two directions. One to the small falls on the west face and the other to our objective, Tugela, on the east face.
And finally we made it to the falls and the view was impressive. And it’s a long drop to the bottom.
Overland South Africa – Cathedral Peak Trek, Part 1
Click to watch Episode 119, Cathedral Peak Trek, Part 1
Our objective was Cathedral Peak. Cathedral Peak is a mountain in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It is a 3,004 m (or 9,856 feet) high freestanding mountain in the Drakensberg.
The mountain is also known as Mponjwana (or Little Horn) by the local Amangwane people.
We set out from the car park of the Cathedral Peak Hotel. A luxury resort that makes trekking a unattractive option. Why trek when a pool and bar are available?
Liz & Hank have been arguing about this trek all morning. She would like to do a rest day at the lodge. In the end she wins. They will return to the hotel and I will continue the trek on my own.
Overland South Africa – Cathedral Peak, Part 2
Click to watch Episode 120, Cathedral Peak, Part 2
In the last episode we set out from Cathedral Peak Hotel but the kids decided to head back and enjoy the hotel’s pool while I continued the trek on my own.
I continued up towards the peak’s summit area on a lazy roundabout route.
Near the horn I managed to make my way up multiple thin ledges but to go higher would require climbing gear or a fixed rope. I was clearly not prepared for this route.
A tiny ledge appropriate for mountain goats stopped me. Do I look like a mountain goat to you?
Overland South Africa – St Lucia Hippos, KwaZulu-Natal
Click to watch Episode 121, St Lucia Hippos, KwaZulu-Natal
I continue the adventures in South Africa, but this time north of the Drakensburg to St Lucia, located in the Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park.
After local entertainment we jumped into a slow boat to spot the river wildlife.
The river and town are known for the hippos that roam freely in the area. Hippos are one of Africa’s most dangerous animals.
The hippo is responsible for more human fatalities in Africa than any other large animal. Indecently the second most dangerous animal is the malaria-spreading mosquito.
The hippo’s closest living relative is the whale. Hippos can even kill crocodiles.
Hippos consume over 100 pounds of vegetation per day.
They are extremely territorial. Small boats beware.
Only six of the 23 crocodilian species are considered dangerous to adult humans.
One of the species with the most well-known and documented reputation for preying on humans is the Nile crocodile. There area around hosts around 1,200 in the wetlands.
The wetlands are also known for birds. Over a hundred different species can be spotted on a good day.
After the boat ride we decided to visit the local croc camp for a closer look at these ancient monsters.
And as the sun set, the summer evening storms move in to provide a free show.
Overland South Africa – Hluhluwe Game Reserve
Click to watch Episode 122, Hluhluwe Game Reserve
After St Lucia we headed west to the Hluhluwe Game Reserve to spot some different game.
The white rhino or square-lipped rhino are the largest species of rhino that exists. It has a wide mouth used for grazing and is the most social of the species.
The name originates from a mis-translation from Dutch to English. The Dutch word “wijd”, which means “wide”. The word “wide” refers to the width of the rhinoceros’ mouth.
So early English-speaking settlers in South Africa misinterpreted the “wijd” for “white” and the rhino with the wide mouth ended up being called the white rhino. Go figure.
The giraffe is another large mammal that lives on the African savanna. It is also a walking restaurant to the tickbird. The bird eats the ticks, and the host is relieved of blood-sucking, disease-carrying parasites.
Time to check into our rondavel. A rondavel (an Afrikaans word) is a westernized version of the African-style hut.
The next day we continued driving and game spotting.
The African buffalo or Cape buffalo is a large African bovine (grass eater). Due to its unpredictable nature, which makes it highly dangerous to humans, it has never been domesticated.
That night as we drove back to our rondavel, we were stopped by a large bull elephant crossing the road. Why did it cross the road? To get to the other side naturally.
The next day we decided to use one of the many hides for observation. Who is hiding from whom I wondered?
We spotted shiny rock know as a rhino rubbing stone. The repeated rubbing by rhinos over time causes the stone to become polished.
The warthog’s name comes from the four large, wart-like humps found on its head. As you can see it is an omnivore (or vegan).
Overland South Africa – iSimangaliso Park-uMkhuze Game Reserve, Part 1
Click to watch Episode 123, iSimangaliso Park-uMkhuze Game Reserve, Part 1
Today we entered the uMkhuze Game Reserve for a private game drive. Located in northern Zululand, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
The park contains the African elephant, wild dog, black wildebeest, Buffalo, Hyena, Hippo, Giraffe, Kudu, Wort hog, Lion, Nile Crocodile, Steenbok, Black & White rhino and Zebra. All packed into a compact 130 sq.-km range.
But to walk in the park you need to hire a guide and a armed ranger, which we dutifully did.
The guide pointed out lots of interesting details, like a tree called a Fever try because provides a remedy for fevers, or a tree used for Snake replant and more.
Overland South Africa – iSimangaliso Park-uMkhuze Game Reserve, Part 2
Click to watch Episode 124, iSimangaliso Park-uMkhuze Game Reserve, Part 2
In this episode we continue our private game drive in the uMkhuze Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
As stated in the last episode, the park contains the big five and lots more. So a private car is absolutely necessary if you want to visit the diverse areas of the park.
The hides provide a good place to view birds and wildlife that come down to the water to drink.
Sometimes the hides don’t work. Here something big put its head thru the fence as proof.
The reserve has a diversity of natural habitats which include acacia savannah, mixed woodland, sand forest, riverine forest, rivers and pans, grasslands, cliffs and rocky ridges.
It seems Wilder Beast and Zebras like to hag out together, while the giraffe are less social.
Unfortunately we run out of time and have to leave the park and head back to civilization at long last.
After 6 months that included Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and Namibia, sadly must I bid farewell to South Africa. But I will return.
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