Into the African Bush #Kruger

Before I start with this story, I want to establish a point and that is if you do find yourself on the way to Africa ever, you must promise yourself to learn how to be patient and really quiet because these are the two traits that almost completely dominate the scene here guaranteeing the most sightings and most importantly the most wonderfully captured shots. Well now that the point is clearly established we can move to the actual story.

So, the story begins on the beautiful south African road from Durban to phalaborwa. Now the interesting thing here is that we decided to enter Kruger through phalaborwa for a number of reasons. Generally Kruger national park is immense and is spread over two countries, South Africa and Mozambique.

Phalaborwa is a town situated in the Mopani district, Limpopo province South Africa, it is the only town in South Africa that borders Kruger National Park, the border of Mozambique being only 2 hours drive away, it’s a perfect place to start the Kruger experience.

We reached phalaborwa in the evening, driving all the way from Johannesburg, it’s a small little town swarmed with tourists who want to get to the Kruger national park. I really liked the vibe of this place. The best part was the dinner, that we had in a small local pub, totally mouthwatering and so welcoming. I would say when travelling, look for the places the locals frequent, there’s the treasure.

The next morning started with our much awaited adventure, we entered Kruger through the phalaborwa gate, and in the first 500 meters we had the startling realization that we were in the thick of the African wild. A family of giraffes were right in front of our eyes, I regard that moment as the most spellbinding in all of my travels. They were close enough to touch!

…and then from there started our journey into the most fascinating part of nature, the untamed, uncut wild. There were just so many spellbinding adrenaline pumping moments that I can’t even summarize in one blog.

From phalaborwa gate we covered Mopani, Letaba, olifants, Satara and orpen over the next few days, Letaba and olifants being my favourites.

The picture of the sightings board in the restcamps

On the last day we were literally chased by a Matriarch of an elephant herd, that was crossing the road and even though we stopped at a respectable distance for them to cross, I think she perceived us as a threat and charged a little distance then stopped. After her entire herd had crossed over she looked back at us one last time and peacefully went away.

I can never forget the look on the elephants face and my respect for these magnificent animals has only grown.

So from there we moved on to hazyview where we spent another lovely day, the top of the list was the hippo point in hippo hollow where you can see hippos in the wild and right up close, we spent hours looking at the playful hippos.

So now that I have inspired you enough to plan this journey here is some information that might come handy..
Getting to Kruger
By Air
Phalaborwa airport
Hoedspruit Eastgate airport
Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport
By Road
Johannesberg 405 kms driving time around 5 hours with leisure .
Leaving you with some pictures we clicked on the way.

The local watering hole phalaborwa
Beautiful herd of deer inside Kruger
The gate phalaborwa
We were greeted by this sight within 500 meters of entering kruger
This guy was totally oblivious to us.. Inside Kruger
The Beautiful sabie river
The hippo point in hippo hollow
The beautiful African huts in hazyview on the banks of the river sabie

..So I urge you travel bugs to visit Kruger once, it will change your life forever, and for the better.

Take care,

The Gypsy Gurl

River Undone

I have been writing poetry ever since I was a little girl, love for the written expression is the most profound part of my being. River Undone is my latest work, and yes if you catch that note in my writing it’s very much a voice of my feminist heart ❤

I am a river undone 

I am a melody unsung 

I am a story interrupted 

I am a soul corrupted 

I am an instinctive journey 

I am the sound of money 

My voice is a whisper 

My heart is a treasure 

I am a woman wild

Footloose headstrong fierce destiny’s child

I shine like a thousand suns

Lighting the sky for unknown reasons 

I am a river and an ocean

I am a therapy and a potion

I am magic most vivid 

I am a fantasy you have lived

I am not to be tamed

I am a pagan unshamed

I am the heart of a dragon

An enigma no one can fathom 

I am dark as well as light

Wickedly wrong and wondrously right 

I am a flower goddess 

Rising from the touch of my own caress

I am a verse forgotten

deemed dark and forbidden 

But I flourish every day 

In spite of what they say 

In the hearts of lovers 

In the sound of waves

In a loving gaze 

In the thrill of a chase 

I am every where 

In atoms molecules and rays

Hidden in plain sight 

My philosophy takes flight 

I am the yin to every yang 

A song that the ocean sang 

I am a river undone 

I am a melody unsung.. 

– Vandini Setia 

( the Gypsy Gurl ) 

Durban Delirious 

Sand under my feet, Durban

As surprising as it may sound Durban was not really a part of the original itinerary, but it was added after my husband asked “why not? “.

That statement, started my love affair with the iconic city that stands proud as a testimony to the diversity of South Africa, a melting pot so to say of numerous cultures and ethnicities. History, geography and economics come together to form a wonderful amalgamation or rather a symphony of a pleasant melody called Durban. So, here I can say with true conviction that no South African holiday is complete without Durban. 

It is part of the Kwazulu -natal province of South Africa. Historically all the foreign workers were brought here and since then this region boasts of great cultural mash-up and of course like I said before a great diversity. All this directly gives rise to the most prominent factor, the lip smacking cuisine of the region. 

In addition to all this, being an economic hub of the country, Durban is also quite notable for a wonderful city life, with shopping malls,  casinos, amusement parks, water parks aquariums, entertainment centres etc etc. This province also is home to two UNESCO world heritage sites, namely Isimangaliso wetland park and ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park. 

Beaching ❤❤

OK so enough with the information, let me start my story, so here goes..

We had just about three days in Durban, and they were spent totally and deliciously in adventure, food and idling at the beach, in fact it was the perfect destination, right in between the rustic Oudtshoorn and the adrenaline packed Kruger national park where we were headed next. 

We tried extreme sports, shark cage diving, although I must admit that my enormous heart chickened out at the last moment.. But my husband went right ahead, and I must add.. courageously. 

Here I must caution that it’s not for the weak hearted. 

So moving on, we went shopping, saw the dolphins in action, tried unlimited African buffet and basically had an amazing time.  

My takeaways from Durban 

well, the first has to be the dolphin show, it was a first for me and I must say I enjoyed every bit of it. Secondly the food, we were totally spoilt for choices! And lastly, the awesome casinos, even though I am not much of a gambler but who does not like trying their luck once in a while, and then the thrill of it all,  is really contagious.

Ushaka Marine World Durban

With 3 awesome days in Durban we were all ready for our next and most awaited destination, Kruger National Park and that’s my next story. 

Leaving you with some information about Durban

Getting into Durban 

Getting into Durban is quite easy,  you can reach either by flight,  by road, by train or even by boat. But flights are the best option,  boats are good too if you have the time and most importantly the adventure streak. 

The Best places to Visit

The first and right at the top in my list is the Ushaka Marine World, it’s an aquarium, water park adventure sports hub,  entertainment center, and even has a great beach!  A must do for every one,  in fact we went there twice.. Tip : plan a whole day trip,  minimum. 

Suncoast Casino

Better than any other in South Africa, and the cherry on the cake is the amazing chreche facility for children,  with a wonderful staff and an stunning list of activities for children.

So even though these two were my favourite,  there is much more to see in Durban..  there is the Botanical gardens, Umgeni River Bird Park and North Beach.  The list really is endless and so are the possibilities, when you are in Durban. 

That’s all for now, I will be back with my next story and soon. 

Till later. 

– The Gypsy Gurl. 

Shark cage diving @Durban

Oysters and bliss #Mossel Bay

Have you ever been to a place where waves can be heard right into the confines of your own home?  Where the sound of the sea is the white noise that echos incessantly, softly and delicately giving an almost musical touch to every conversation and every thought. If you ever find your self in a similar situation, chances are you are in Mossel Bay. 

Me with a sunset glow #Mossel Bay, South Africa

What really hits you immediately is the immense ocean and the jagged cliffs, or rocks you can say, perched on top of which is the sprawling town of Mossel Bay, and of course the lilting breeze, laden with the warm and salty ocean scent. Now that was my first impression of this lovely town.

After driving through the rustic mountains and scenic farms of Oudtshoorn, it was a totally different world out here, so laid back, softly shining with the secret glow of an eloquent interlude.

We drove straight to our hotel, Sir Edward Charles Manor, right atop one such cliff facing the great Indian Ocean. To our surprise we were upgraded to a larger room with a great view by the wonderful staff. So if you find yourself in Mossel Bay, it’s worth it, to check this place. The view and location are great but the hospitality and food are awesome. 

A beautiful sunset in Mossel Bay

The evening was spent admiring the sandy beaches scattered all around the town, the best yet was the pinnacle point, it’s a corner of land surrounded by ocean on two sides, the wonderful view of the great ocean and the super huge waves clashing from different directions is really an experience to behold. 

The stunning view at pinnacle point
The beach paradise Mossel Bay

The next day we took off to knysna just an hour and a half’s drive from there, it is another lovely town on the garden route. Sadly, the fires on the western Cape had affected knysna quite a bit, due to which we had to take it off of our itinerary, however we did spend a lovely afternoon there. 

Knysna is never complete without trying the wonderful cuisine and sea food, especially oysters. My suggestion go for the fresh raw oysters served on a bed of ice.

The oyster experience #knysna

Here’s some practical information about Mossel Bay

Getting There

By Road

Mossel Bay is situated along the garden route it can be easily reached though oudtshoorn in the north, George in the east and Capetown in the west via N2.

By Rail 

Nearest rail head is George ( 50 kms ) 

By Air

Nearest airport is George (50 kms ) 

The best way according to me is definitely by road along the scenic garden route.

So, moving on with my story.. The last day we did all the touristy touch points Bartolomeu Dias museum complex, Point of human origins, the shark lab ( it’s a wonderful experience for kids) and finally my favorite the short trek up to Cape St. Blaize Lighthouse, it’s totally worth it.

Following day we drove to George airport a short drive ( again about half an hour ) away for our onward journey to Durban. 

My takeaway from Mossel Bay, the sweet and lilting sound of the waves and the wonderful taste of fresh oysters in Knysna.

The sweetness of the breeze #mosselbay

I am taking off for now and will be back soon with another story of the grand city of Durban a stately home of fun and entertainment. Full of water parks, beaches, casinos, amusement parks, wonderful food and so much more.

Leaving you with a lovely travel quote..

oh darling ..let’s be adventurers


– The Gypsy Gurl

Knysna waterfront 😊

What is your favorite beach holiday destination?  Do let me know in the comments, I would love to hear it.❤

Back to the caves #Oudtshoorn 

I believe that every place has a character much like people, and if I apply that to Oudtshoorn I would say it is rustic and brazen. Why??  because it is so in your face. I could call it the Texas of South Africa ..if that makes sense. 

The pygmy ponies in the old mill estate

The very story of Oudtshoorn is based on the premise of a catastrophe, much to my dismay the major factor contributing to this is the sad incidence of fires across the garden route in South Africa while we were travelling. 

Even though we were safe and did not witness any incident in particular, we could feel the frenzy as the whole country was fighting this phenomena that lead to the loss of many lives and property. It was great to see the unparalleled unity and grace that the citizens showcased during this catastrophe. 

This incident in my mind reinforces the idea that Travel is much more than sightseeing, it is a journey of discovery, of not only places but of human abilities and being touched by them in the most profound manner.  

As tourists we were encouraged by the locals to continue our journey of their beautiful country and carrying the stories of its beauty and poise back home. So this one is their story.

I start from the very start as we took to the road after Hermanus towards Oudtshoorn. It was the longest road trip we undertook in South Africa, we were on road for about 5 hours all through a very windy day and to tell you the truth it was a bit scary with huge open stretches without any habitation what so ever. 

But everything was worth it once we reached The Old Mill estate, about 18 kms ahead of Oudtshoorn. It is a little slice of heaven. With a lovely farm, an outstanding restaurant, ostriches, ponies, rabbits, a little lake and even a hike trail on the backdrop of a huge and lush mountain. It was so great that we extended our stay there from just one night to two. 

The old mill estate is a retreat in itself, the stunning view

For the two days that we were in oudtshoorn we explored various ostrich farms, the lovely city and the cango caves. 

Cango caves are majestic and Gothic and so well preserved, so if you are not overly claustrophobic, and are fairly adventurous like me you must visit there.  The prehistoric caves are one of a kind in the whole world. 

The nature’s art inside cango caves

I must also confess that oudtshoorn is the place I tried the ostrich burger for the first time ( and I don’t like it) also it was here that I understood the fascination the regency fashionistas had with the ostrich feathers. 

Me regency style.. another feather in my cap 😀

So finally my takeaway from Oudtshoorn #1 the ostrich burger is bad ( totally my opinion).  #2 I am mildly claustrophobic. #3 rustic is charming and finally the most important one #4 a bucket load of memories of a wonderful place and it’s wonderful people. 

Soon it was time to pack our bags again and hit the road for the next destination, the lovely sea side town of Mossel Bay.

So… As I wrap up this story, another one is just beginning to form. 

Farm life agrees with me ..😊

And on that note..  will be back soon.

Au revoir.

-The Gypsy Gurl 

The Northern Right #Hermanus 

Hermanus is not a place you can take lightly,  it’s exciting, exquisite and undeniably, unabashedly adventurous. What with it being, one of the best places on earth known for land based whale watching.

Whale watching.. yes !.. Right off the coast and a beautiful one at that. So in continuum with my last destination du jour  #Stellenbosch, as my fingers fly on my keypad trying to summon my memory just about a month back when I was on the road to Hermanus from Stellenbosch, I recount my sheer delight and anticipation of the dream destination.

Hermanus had captured the best part of my attention even while I was carefully, dreamily planning this vacation, it’s claim to fame being so great after all.

So without much dilly dallying let me dive right into the story. We drove all the way to Hermanus from Stellenbosch through the wonderful South African highway system.

By the time we checked into the beautiful Windsor Hotel the sun was already setting behind the horizon, a sea view room was waiting for our arrival, it was all good till we opened the balcony door and behold.. The most breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean was right before our eyes,  so my recommendation # 1 stay at the Windsor Hotel when you plan a visit and definitely book a sea facing room it’s totally worth every penny you pay.

So moving on,  we just about dumped our baggage in the room and left the hotel for a quick round of the scenic village even though it was getting darker by the minute. It’s a small place but extremely beautiful, we took a little walk along the ocean, the walking track cut across cliffs and rocks of the generally rocky bay.

So my recommendation #2 if you are planning a trip to Hermanus keep your sturdy and comfortable walking shoes handy, so that you can enjoy the rather lovely nature walks in the area.

All this was followed by a spectacular dinner at one of the restaurants in the village square, (the most popular and happening place).

The next day was devoted completely to sightseeing the local area,  we saw the whale museum , the old harbour which had quite a rustic feel and  also spent a lot of time just sitting on the coast looking for the elusive whales, even though it was a bit early in the season for their arrival. We were rewarded by a splendid view of the very lively marine life of the area,  seals snorkeling and fishing, some huge fish ( not whale though ) but all in all it was totally worth it.

My take away from Hermanus is the salty, fragrant Atlantic breeze and countless stories of the elusive Northern Right whale but most importantly the sheer beauty and biodiversity of the little village.

So soon we were in our car on our way to the next destination Oudtshoorn ..home to rustic farms and the famous Kango caves. I’ll be back soon with my story of Oudtshoorn.

Leaving you with some pictures we took on our way.

Till later.

The Gypsy Gurl.

The magnificent view of the bay of Hermanus

A cute guy posing for my click against the blue ocean

The old harbour of Hermanus 

Wine Tripping #Stellenbosch

The wine guide of Stellenbosch

South Africa is quite well known for producing one of the best new world wines but, what surprises me most, is the lack of knowledge about one of the best wine tourism destination, there is.. Yes Stellenbosch is totally a breath of fresh air and comes as a wonderful surprise. I must share that I was excited to begin with ( that’s why it was part of the itinerary .. ), but to be truthful I never expected it to be this outstanding.

I don’t even know,  if the beauty and charm of stellenbosch is possible to be described without experiencing it first hand,  however, I will try. So here goes..

Navigating the South African roads from Capetown, we reached stellenbosch in no time, 45 minutes to be precise. What struck me most was the amazing transformation of the landscape as we neared the lovely town.

The stunning vineyards of Stellenbosch

Soft hills took place of gentle slopes and amazingly enough, soon we found ourselves surrounded by vinyards and estates. Capetown crowds just melted away into the solitude of the beautiful countryside with myraid colours.

As we headed for the Delvera estate, where we were booked for 2 nights, I was wondering if that’s going to be enough to soak all this beauty,  but as we had to travel to so many places within South Africa, time was definitely limited. That ended my wayward thought.

The picturesque Delvera wine estate, is a great place to stay

Stellenbosch is a unhurried and laid-back destination, complete with amazing food and awesome wines. While you are there, do try The Basic Bistro for some lip-smacking delicacies and don’t forget to head towards the drakenberg mountains for some wonderful wine tasting, my favorite was the Delaire Graft Estate their amazing collection of wines, cheeses and the wonderful organic fig preserve is to die for.

Delaire Graff Estate the ultimate vine tasting experience

Other than that, just lie back and enjoy nature at its best, and yes a glass of wine.. doesn’t hurt.

Next up is the pretty village of Hermanus, on the western Cape of South Africa, travelling on the scenic garden route.

Stay connected.

– The Gypsy Gurl.

Hiking in the vineyards Delvera Estate

Do you also have an amazing experience of stellenbosch? Did you like my discription of the destination? I would love to hear all about it in the comments section. 

Oh Capetown… Singing in my head

LA LA LA LA… Singing in my head. When I am happy.. well, I sing,  my musical sense awakens ( much to the dismay of everyone around me la..)

If it’s possible, it’s just enough to describe Cape Town as the magnum opus of South Africa.

Me at the lighthouse, Cape of good hope

I don’t know where to start, the 7 days I spent in Capetown were just perfect,  a perfect blend of high life,  good food,  thrill, adventure and shopping,  but wait that’s not all, the great thing about Capetown is that with the big city life there is nature too,  this is one of the rare places you see both coexist and… happily.

From st George’s mall to the waterfront… And from robben island to the cape of good hope, it’s a panorama for all senses. Multiracial,  multicultural and truly cosmopolitan, cape Town is the paradise for a seasoned traveller as well as a bohemian wanderer.

The table mountain is the crowning glory but the cape of good hope lends it character, to be at the very tip of a continent, where the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic meet is truly a humbling experience and so is coming face to face with an African penguin on the boulders beach and the wild ostriches at the cape of good hope.

I can sum it all up by sharing a few magnificent pictures I clicked on my way..

The magnificent cape of good hope
The mama and baby penguin at the boulders beach

All I can say is Capetown is a place to be if you want to experience the delectable and the modest….

The majestic ostriches along the cape coast

with that I am off to stellenbauch… Wine country, South Africa, just about an hour’s drive from Capetown.

Will be back soon.

– The Gypsy Gurl.

Have you ever been to Cape Town? If yes, how was your experience ? If no, would you like to go there sometime? Do share with me in the comments. I would love to hear all about it. 

Lost in transit  #Johannesburg 

The colourful Johannesburg

Every one told me that one day in Johannesburg is not enough at all. All reviews and suggestions suggested at least 3 days there. But, let me tell you it’s all about whether your adventure finds you or not and mine embraced me the moment we landed.

High adrenaline, high intensity and positively gripping, let’s just say I lived at least 10 folds in one day ! It’s a feat, I tell you, by any standard.

To give you a gist, I lived through getting my documents held at the airport for the most insane reason, going through the toughest security checks… Twice!  ( within 30 mins ) getting lost  ( well,  that’s my staple,  I somehow manage that everywhere and this time it was in record time…oops! ) and finally going through an episode of lost passports while trying to catch a flight to Capetown..and all this within a span of a day !

…and to top it all I still managed to be everywhere on time,  catch all flights, got found ( had Mexican dinner afterward… He he) and even enjoy.

While all this drama was unfolding I managed to catch a glimpse of a magnificent city. My takeaway from Johannesburg is.. colour, it’s so colourful, the streets, the shops, the houses and even people.

As I board kalula airlines for a flight to Capetown another story is itching to be told,  but hang on let me experience it first.

Take Care

– The Gypsy Gurl.

What is your most cherished travel adventure? Do share in the comments, I would love to hear all about it. 

Finding Africa 

Inspiration is a funny thing, it can find you through almost anything, the most exquisite or the most mundane.

My inspiration the mundane (understatement) view from my seat.

My inspiration came from the sheer length of my flight (9 hours and it’s just the first leg of the journey…aaargh! ).

It’s really interesting how craziness hits people, out of boredom and a combination of sleep deprivation, travelling over time zones etc etc. So just to save my sanity I decided to escape into an alternate world populated by words and phrases and ruled by imagination, feelings and experiences.

So then, here I am at 40,000 feet in the sky somewhere over the African continent escaping into my own world, bringing to life the wonder of my first footsteps on the African soil.

Let me share the feelings of my first contact with the majestic African breeze laden with the perfect and intoxicating aroma of spices, musk, freshness and something totally indescribable,the zing that reverberates through everything here.

As I stepped outside the aircraft in Kigali, Rwanda  after a long long ( I really mean it) flight. The pleasant African breeze lifted my spirits and the unmistakable scent of the continent just took over. The beautiful hill country had already announced  its presence through my aircraft window.

Having travelled all the way from India, I think I am bound to get awestruck, it’s a whole new world out here, raw, untainted and somehow extremely thrilling.  The Kigali airport is right on top of a hill and the view it presented was superb. The early morning haze that greeted me at the runway was well worth the long flight. The 4 hour halt at Kigali was a welcome step because that led me to witness my first African sunrise over the African hills, the first in the long list of firsts. It was totally spectacular.

After such a wonderful little break I am back on the road or rather in the sky for the second leg of my journey to Johannesburg, North America of Africa (I read something about it somewhere, at some point of time and it generally stuck with me).

As the seatbelts are being fastened and the aircraft is getting ready to land at the Johannesburg airport, I am ready with the huge bucket of expectations from my bucket list, to soak in the beautiful multicultural, dynamic city of Africa, or so I have heard. It’s about time to find out.

I will be back with the story of Johannesburg and thereafter. As for now, I need to get in a queue to get out of this aircraft and that …couldn’t be sooner.

Till later.

– The Gypsy gurl

Have you ever been to Africa?  How was your experience?  If not, does it feature in your bucket list?  Do share your thoughts on Africa in the comments, I would love to hear all about it.