Travel diary South Africa: from Johannesburg to the Garden Route (1/3)

south africa blyde river canyon

Today is the day we are already one week in South Africa. Our trip started with an almost 20 hour flight from Brussels to Johannesburg, including a 5 hour transfer in Dubai. We landed at 11 am and jumped straight in our car to drive for another 5 hours to Hazyview. Here is the start of our holiday. After travelling for 2 days we are happy to arrive at our first hostel safely!

Day 2 Blyde River Canyon

A good night of sleep had made us ready to explore the area. At 4 pm Kurt Safari was going to pick us up for a night safari in Kruger Park, so we had time to visit the Blyde River Canyon. Our first stop is Gods Window. Apparently you get a goddish view from this place, but not for us. There was nothing to see outside this window with all the fog in front of us. Too bad. Next stop: Bourke’s Luck Potholes. These are holes in dolomite stone created by water. Not only this phenomenon is fascinating but the whole surrounding nature is beautiful.

The next stop is at the Three Rondavels. Those three rock formations in the canyon are magnificent. Our last stop before we are heading back to the hostel is at the Lisbon Falls. I wanted to go here because I saw beautiful pictures about it. And indeed it was nice to see this double waterfall but it was just not that green as I expected. It is winter now in South Africa which means it is dry season. Everything is less green than in summer.

Roadtrip South Africa

Bourke's Luck Potholes

three rondavels blyde river canyon

three rondavels roadtrip south africa

So this evening we went on a safari night game drive in Kruger National Park. We mostly saw night animals. The next day we did a full day safari. We saw a lot of animals (including 4 of the big five): small Steenboks, Impalas, Kudus, Wildebeests, Lions, Leopard, Cheetah, Hyanas, Spotted genet, Zebras, Buffalos, Elephants, Hippos, Warthogs, Baboons and Vervet monkeys. It’s a shame we didn’t see rhinos.

We actually booked a three day safari, but after two days we cancelled our third day, due to a lack of time. Most organisations recommend a four day safari. But after one or two days you have mostly seen everything. Four day safaris are perfect when you want to see every animal in the park. At 4pm we were back at our hostel.

This meant we still had 2 hours time to do something before when it was dark. We decided to go to the Big Swing in Graskop. We didn’t exactly know what it was but we saw some billboards on the road when we were driving to the Blyde River Canyon the day before. Once there, we saw a boy who did the jump a few minutes ago. First you fall backwards off the cliff and at some point you start to swing above the valley. I wanted to jump together with my boyfriend because it felt safer. Haha indeed I was a bit scared. They joined us together and guided us towards the cliff. Omg it was sooooo high! From here we fell down into the valley! This is probably the most scariest thing I have ever done. The feeling when falling down is crazyyyy! I am glad I had the courage to do it and I see it as an introduction to the bungee jump at the Bloukrans bridge.

Kruger Park safari

Day 4 Golden Gate NP and Royal Natal NP

On our fourth day we left Hazyview to continue our trip to Kestell, Drakensbergen. It is a 5 to 6 hours drive. Once arrived we visited the Golden Gate National Park. Oh my gosh the nature here is b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l. Brown and red coloured sandstone formations everywhere. In the park we saw wild herds of steppezebras, gnoes, springboks and blesboks.

Our hostel, Karma Backpackers, is a really cozy place with a good location for those who want to hike in the Royal Natal National Park. The hike to the Sentinel top, the Amphitheater, was something we really wanted to do, because of the panorama view on the top appears to be unexpressible according to my travel guide and the internet. And it was undescribable, literaly. Here is why. We started our hike with a lot of clouds around us, believing (in naivity) that they will fade away when we reach the top. But after hiking for one hour, it started to rain, which changed to snow (!) a few minutes later. In 2 hours we had reached the Amphitheater, but no views for us… Everything was hidden in the fog. This was such a bummer! It makes me sad we couldn’t see anything of the beautiful views on top of the mountain. Very dissapointed we hiked back to the car and drove to our next stay in Estcourt.


Royal Natal National Park

Day 5 Coffee Bay

On day five we drive southwards to Coffee Bay. It takes 7 hours to get there so we didn’t do much that day. With a little spare time in Coffee Bay we drive to Hole in the Wall. But it is already getting dark so we turn around. The road is in bad condition as well. And ow yeah, our car almost get smashed by fighting cows on the road! We are driving through a herd of cows on the street (normal stuff in SA) when suddenly two cows start to fight and come our way. As fast as we can we drive backwards hoping they won’t hit the car. It was so close. But everything allright with the car (and us).

Coffee Bay

Day 6 Port Elizabeth

It is a shame we don’t have more time to stay at Coffee Bay. It’s a real surfers paradise here and the Coffee Shack hostel is an awesome place to stay. We stayed one night in Coffee Bay and drive further to Port Elizabeth. This is our last full day of driving. From now on it will take less time to reach our next destination. We haven’t seen much of Port Elizabeth, we only went dining and running on the beach.

Day 7 Jeffreys Bay

We want to drive further to Jeffreys Bay to go surfing. And we did woohoooo. In the morning it was low tide so the waves were not really great, but in the afternoon we had some nice rides duuuuuuuude. At 4:30pm we headed back to the car to go to Wild Spirit Backpackers in The Crags, Garden Route. This will be our stay for the next three nights. We just arrived here but it is already such a great place!

As you have read, we already had a great holiday. You can find our adventures of week 2 here!

Xoxo. Zoë

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