An organized tour is always a great way to see a country you’re not familiar with. Our Travel Expert Emer MacLellan shares with us how On The Go Tours gave her a great first look at South Africa on their Wonders of the Garden Route trip:
Going to South Africa had been a dream of mine since I was a kid and when the opportunity arose with On The Go Tours, I jumped at it. I arrived in Cape Town two days before my tour started to do some sightseeing on my own. This city is gorgeous; tons of greenery, mountains, the ocean, beautiful historic buildings along the waterfront, plus a large population of friendly people. This gave me time to take in the breathtaking views from Table Mountain, take a bike tour of the countryside where I spotted wild ostriches, do some shopping, and hike up Cape of Good Hope.
On day three, the official tour started, so we said goodbye to our beds and hello to our tents as we prepared to camp and drive our way through South Africa’s Garden Route. I wasn’t a big fan of camping until I lived the tent life in South Africa – now, I can’t wait to go camping again. To kick off the trip, we went to the Spier winery in Stellenbosch for a wine tasting and learned about their famous Pinotage wine. This grape is South Africa’s signature variety and a cross between Pinot noir and Cinsaut.
In addition to their vineyard, Spier also have farmland to raise cattle and chickens. We got the chance to meet a few wild birds Spier were helping rehabilitate on their farm before setting them free back in the wild. And we got to pet cheetahs! I think this speaks for itself – it was a very unique experience.
We headed to Gaansbai, where my most talked about and hyped-up excursion was to take place – cage diving with great white sharks. I am totally embarrassed to say that I chickened out, but part of me knew I wouldn’t be able to get myself in to that cage. My fear (of, yes, Jaws) was more intense than I thought.
Moving on, we travelled to Myoli Beach. We swam in the ocean during the day and partied with the locals at night. There was a lot of singing and guitar playing, and it was a fantastic way to connect as a group. The next day we went to Tsitsikamma National Park where I zip-lined for the first time. We went on a tree canopy tour, zipped from platform to platform, and saw the entire forest.
That night our campsite was literally on the ocean – I didn’t know campgrounds this beautiful even existed!
Waking up to the sounds of the ocean outside of our tents, we packed up once again and headed for Addo National Park where the elephants were abundant. We unfortunately did not see a lion or leopard, but we did see plenty of zebras, warthogs, wild monkeys, dung beetles, kudus (part of the antelope family) and spotted hyenas.
I cannot say enough positive things about this trip – it was perfect. I cannot wait until I get to explore other areas of Africa – or return to South Africa, which I would do again in a heartbeat.