south africa, highlights, roadtrip, things to do, family, travel, kid friendly, addo elephant park, raggy charters, redberry maze, storms river bridge, cape agulhas, monkeyland, birds of eden

Hindsight: South Africa Road Trip Highlights

south africa, highlights, roadtrip, things to do, family, travel, kid friendly, addo elephant park, raggy charters, redberry maze, storms river bridge, cape agulhas, monkeyland, birds of eden

It goes without saying that we saw a lot of beautiful places, when we road tripped around South Africa. I’m not sure that I can limit this list to get 10 or 20 must see places, but I will try my best anyway.

Since it’s hard to put this in any sort of order that would make sense, I will list them in random order and you can decide how you will plan your road trip around the country to go and see them, if you choose to do so.

There is a whole other list of places that we would still like to see and we will definitely revise the list, as we explore more places. Of course, there is even more places that we should visit that we don’t even know about yet, but I will leave it up to you in let us know in the comments below.south africa, highlights, roadtrip, things to do, family, travel, kid friendly, addo elephant park, raggy charters, redberry maze, storms river bridge, cape agulhas, monkeyland, birds of eden

Hindsight: South Africa Road Trip Highlights

  1. Have breakfast or lunch at Platform 62 in Ashton. Do some shopping afterwards.
  2. Spend a weekend in Clarens. Explore the town on foot.
  3. Take a trip with Raggy Charters to the Island of St Croix
  4. Spend the day in Addo Elephant Park
  5. Explore Hazyview in Mpumalanga for a week. Visit Blyde River Canyon, Mac Mac Falls and God’s Window. Buy home grown macadamia nuts from street vendors.
  6. Camp in Kruger National Park
  7. Visit the Cango Caves in Oudtshroon. Do the heritage tour.
  8. Get lost in the maze at Redberry Farm in George.
  9. Stay at the Coffee Shack and walk/bike/drive to see the Hole in the Wall.
  10. Go on a tour of The Big Hole in Kimberley then go see the flamingos on Kampher Dam. south africa, highlights, roadtrip, things to do, family, travel, kid friendly, addo elephant park, raggy charters, redberry maze, storms river bridge, cape agulhas, monkeyland, birds of eden
  11. Buy a combo ticket and go and visit Birds of Eden and Monkeyland. Set aside another day to visit Jukani and the Plettenberg Bay Puzzle Park.
  12. Take the Gautrain to your destination of choice.
  13. Overnight in Cape Augulhas and visit the Southern Most Tip of Africa. Then stop in Napier and see how stained glass lamps are put together.
  14. Climb to the top of the tallest steel lighthouse in Africa at Slangkop.
  15. Set aside a week and go explore the West Coast. Have fish and chips in Saldanha then go see the wild flowers bloom near Namaqualand.
  16. Visit the Nelson Mandela Capture site in Howick, then stop off for chocolate at Florentines before heading out of town to see Howick Falls.
  17. Sail through the Knysna Heads with Ocean Odyssey and do some whale watching
  18. Collect shells in front of Seal Point lighthouse in Cape St Francis
  19. Cross the Storms River bridge in Tsitsikamma National Park
  20. Take a cable car to the top of Table Mountain and walk to Maclear’s Beacon

south africa, highlights, roadtrip, things to do, family, travel, kid friendly, addo elephant park, raggy charters, redberry maze, storms river bridge, cape agulhas, monkeyland, birds of eden

Yes, I know I didn’t stick to South African road trip specific stuff but I felt there was a need to choose just 20 awesome things and I gathered content from everything we’ve done so far. Honestly, it was nearly impossible to choose 20…and if you asked me to write this post again next week, the list would look completely different. But such is the awesomeness of extensive road tripping through our gorgeous country.

If I had the energy, I would turn it into a list of 50 must see places but that might make it a bit TL:DR and then it would be a waste of time.

south africa, highlights, roadtrip, things to do, family, travel, kid friendly, addo elephant park, raggy charters, redberry maze, storms river bridge, cape agulhas, monkeyland, birds of eden

What do you think should be added to our list for our next road trip? I know we haven’t done Limpopo and the North West yet, but we are hoping to get hold of a 4×4 so that we can cross the border and explore Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia in the same trip.

Please leave your tips in the comments box below :). Also, you’re welcome to share this post with anyone you feel may benefit from our travels.

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Kid Friendly Port Elizabeth: Bayworld Museum

Port Elizabeth, things to do, kid friendly, PE, Bayworld Museum, Bayworld in Port Elizabeth, family, travel, South Africa, road trip, home school, what to do in Port Elizabeth, museum, places to visitPort Elizabeth made up a big part of my holidays when I was child. As friends of the family lived there, we often took holidays together. Sometimes, holidays would include meeting halfway in Tsitsikamma but some of the time, we would stay with them at their home.

The only thing I looked forward to when we were in PE was visiting the dolphins at Bayworld. Domino, Dolly and Dimple felt like long lost friends and I dreamed of training them myself, one day. In fact, most of my school orals, mondelings and art projects centred around these clever creatures and “being a dolphin trainer” was my answer to the, what I want to be when I grow up question, for about a decade.

Port Elizabeth, things to do, kid friendly, PE, Bayworld Museum, Bayworld in Port Elizabeth, family, travel, South Africa, road trip, home school, what to do in Port Elizabeth, museum, places to visitThat was before I knew better. I naively believed that this was the best life for these “rescue” dolphins and thought that they couldn’t possibly have a decent life back in the sea. The size of the pool was never questioned, nor was the fact that they were encouraging these rescued dolphins to breed in captivity. No animal should be born in captivity. Ever.

The first time I visited Port Elizabeth as an adult, I avoided Bayworld, even though the dolphins have left the premises. We also had so much to see and do with our Nelson Mandela Bay pass, we simply didn’t have time. The second time we stopped off in Port Elizabeth on our way back from our trip to Kwazulu Natal, we had less time and less money (with no access to the Pass) so, we had to find something cheap to do with the kids.

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What appealed to me was the fact that Bayworld is now more of a museum, and it seemed like a good place to explore, on a day where none of us felt like sitting with our home school workbooks. I was under the impression that all the animals had been moved to other aquariums and, it was only once we got there, that I saw that they still do shows with the penguins. There was no way I was going to that circus, so we stuck to what we could learn from within the buildings.

Port Elizabeth, things to do, kid friendly, PE, Bayworld Museum, Bayworld in Port Elizabeth, family, travel, South Africa, road trip, home school, what to do in Port Elizabeth, museum, places to visitFrom robotic dinosaurs and spiders to a comprehensive look at maritime history, Bayworld Museum is a great location to visit for all school going kids. There is also a reptile park and, after getting into a debate about how the animal’s stress levels are measured after they’ve been allowed to be poked and prodded by the general public, we left the snake handler with something to think about.

One station in the museum is an audio visual area where the story of the dolphins is played on a loop. This video details the life of the dolphins, a glimpse into what the shows were like and how they moved them to another aquarium in China. It was quite emotional. Mainly because I wish I had understood animal rights in tourism a lot sooner.

Port Elizabeth, things to do, kid friendly, PE, Bayworld Museum, Bayworld in Port Elizabeth, family, travel, South Africa, road trip, home school, what to do in Port Elizabeth, museum, places to visitBack in the maritime history section, he kids had a brilliant station that explained the rope and pulley system. There were 3 barrels all filled with 25kgs of salted pork, gun power or rum. These were attached to ropes that each had a different pulley system. The display encouraged kids to try and lift each barrel and notice how it became easier when there were more pulleys. They found the first one impossible to lift, while the last was super easy. Home school doesn’t get better than this.

There is a lot to see and do in Port Elizabeth and, when the weather is less than ideal, the Bayworld Museum is a great place to spend a few hours. Have you visited Bayworld before? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Hindsight: Clothes packing tips

packing tips, how to pack clothes, vaccubags, clothing, how to fit everything in, clothes, shoes, kids clothes, road trip, family, travel, south africa, roadtrip, familyIn our previous hindsight post, I gave you a few of our favourite tips on how to pack for a road trip. In that post, I mentioned that we would need to tackles clothes and toiletries separately as there was too much to go into. So here we are. Let’s talk about how to pack your clothes and toiletries for a road trip. If you missed that post, have a read over here.

Hindsight: Family Road Trip Packing

Hindsight: Clothes packing tips

Would you be shocked if I told you to leave your suitcase behind? Well, that’s what we did. We struggled as far as Hogsback before we dumped our suitcase. This was after trying everything to make things fit and, we just got sick of it.

It was a super fancy suitcase too. You know, one of those huge, moulded cases with wheels and a handle. It just wasn’t working for us and the wheels got in the way of everything else in our top box.

Since you’re on a road trip, the furthest you will have to move your clothes is from the car to the room where you’ll be staying. It’s not like you’ll be lugging it around an airport – which is what these cases are made for.

So how should you transport your clothes? By using these little wonders. These bags have a clever little valve at the bottom that pushes out all the air out of the bag as you roll it up. The result? WAY more space! We bought 2 sets of 5 and took them all over South Africa, TWICE!

family, travel, road trip, south africa, kids, packing, tips, how to pack for a road tripIf you’re worried about everyone seeing your undies through the clear plastic, grab a few gigantic shopping totes from the supermarket and use those bags (which also fold up flat) to transport your vaccubags to the room. Problem solved!

Kids

Now, let’s talk about the clothes themselves. If you’re travelling with kids you will want to assess their clothes about a week before you leave. Anything that is too small, too stained or too uncomfortable, toss. Make sure you pack at least 10 complete outfits with a change of underwear and socks for each set. Then include 3 pairs of pyjamas and swimming gear. Don’t forget to pack flotation devices, should you child still need it and any medications that they take regularly. In terms of shoes, you will want some sandals or flip flops and some waterproof shoes/boots. Have I left anything out? Let me know in the comments box below. Oh yes, a raincoat and a warm, hooded sweatshirt.

Ladies

When it comes to your own clothes, the same rule applies. Don’t bother taking anything along that doesn’t fit or too stained to wear in photos. There is no point lugging anything around that you won’t wear for whatever reason. When it comes to keeping warm, fleece tops and jerseys take up a lot of room, so pack carefully. A warm but lightweight hooded top will be far more useful.

Choose something you can wear with most outfits and leave it at that. Jeans work in a number of instances so, even though they take up lots of room, you can dress it up or down most days of the week. Leggings are also great because you can wear them as an extra layer under dresses or under long tops. Layers are your friends. Don’t forget your swimming things, shorts and a sarong or two (has a million uses).

Men

For the guys, a selection of t-shirts to go with your 3 shorts and 3 pairs of jeans or long pants. Enough socks and jocks for at least 5 days (i.e. 5 pairs), some closed shoes and some slops. And swim trunks. Done! Oh, and pyjamas and a warm, hooded sweatshirt. Sorted!

Toiletries

The only thing I wanted to mention about toiletries, is that it makes no sense at all to lug a catering sized bottle around with you. Decant your bulk shampoo, moisturizer and sunscreen into compact bottles and make sure they don’t leak before you leave. When in doubt, wrap in plastic. Rather be safe than sorry.

When it comes to medicines, remember to take along a pain and fever reliever for adults as well as one for the kids. Don’t forget about medicines for allergies and that includes an itchy bite cream, that would work for most bites. Cough syrup and something for a runny nose will come in handy for the kids, as will rescue remedy and something for motion sickness. Don’t forget the antiseptic cream and plasters for those scrapes and cuts, as well as arnica for bruises.

Disclaimer: Nope, not a sponsored post. But we’d love to work with you if you feel like we’d be a good match for your brand 😉

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Coffee Shack Backpackers: Coffee Bay

backpackers, wild coast, places to stay, where to stay in coffee bay, hole in the wall, accommodation, review, family, kid friendly, travel, south africa, road trip, tazzdiscovers, roadtripWhen you talk about budget accommodation, it’s inevitable that you will end up at a backpackers, at some point. As with everything else, there is the good, the bad and the ugly but, as we actually enjoyed our stay at Coffee Shack, we’ll just focus on the first category.

Yes, we have had bad experiences but I’m happy to report that this wasn’t one of them. Since we want this site to be a resource for other travelers, we see no point in listing the bad ones so, let’s stay focused, shall we?

Let’s talk about the logistics…the road to from Mthatha isn’t great. In fact, as we drove towards Coffee Bay, a well meaning person pulled up next to us and said, “you know this road turns into a gravel road, right?”. Suffice to stay, the look on my stunned face said it all.

Of course, since we were both going about 80km/h, we didn’t get any details about exactly WHEN this fairly decent road would become less decent (to put it mildly), so we spent the rest of the drive, panicking.

I should mention here that since Mthatha was super busy as we drove through (imagine Black Friday at the Hypermarket), we didn’t want to stop for a toilet break, thinking we would find a petrol station near the outskirts of town that would be quieter. In the words of Julia Roberts, “BIG mistake. Big. Huge mistake!”

backpackers, wild coast, places to stay, where to stay in coffee bay, hole in the wall, accommodation, review, family, kid friendly, travel, south africa, road trip, tazzdiscovers, roadtripSo now we’re driving along and we’ve just found out that the road will turn to gravel…and all of us have bladders that are full to capacity. Talk about uncomfortable!

It doesn’t take long for that gravel road to appear on the horizon and we have NO idea how long the road will be in this condition. Finally, after about 25km of really crappy gravel, we finally find ourselves back on tarred road. Hooray! And even better news, there is a petrol station in sight. Then we find out that said petrol station has no water and toilets are out of order. I could have cried, if my eyeballs weren’t already floating.

backpackers, wild coast, places to stay, where to stay in coffee bay, hole in the wall, accommodation, review, family, kid friendly, travel, south africa, road trip, tazzdiscovers, roadtripFortunately, we had fairly decent road all the way to Coffee Bay from that point but it was slow going, as we had to wait for the pigs to cross the road, squealing indignantly when we dared to hurry them up. Not a euphemism. There were literally pigs, cows and geese crossing the road!

The first thing we asked when we arrived at Coffee Shack was, “which way to the bathroom!?”. Once we checked in, we were given a tour of the backpackers and found out about all the things that happen everyday. You can sign up for surfing lessons at just R50 per session which including 2 hours tuition and all equipment. They also go on different outings every day, and you must remember to add your name to the list for supper every night (at a cost of about R75/night).

backpackers, wild coast, places to stay, where to stay in coffee bay, hole in the wall, accommodation, review, family, kid friendly, travel, south africa, road trip, tazzdiscovers, roadtrip
Our 6 sleeper dorm which was near the staff accommodation as the family room was taken.
As with all backpackers, the shared kitchen is available and you are welcome to help yourself to coffee and tea. Although we were a bit surprised that it’s a shared ablution block vibe when it comes to toilets, we found the facilities to be very clean and it was perfectly acceptable for our 2 night stay.

I’m so glad they were fully booked when we were there, as we were allocated this dorm near the staff accommodation, which was away from the all night parties and boozing. You can specifically request quiet accommodation when you book with them.

The only reason we were there was to visit the Hole in the Wall anyway and this was the ideal base. Staff are very friendly and helpful and they are super knowledgeable about the area. While you can walk to the Hole, it will take you about 3 hours and, we found that the longest the kids are willing to walk is about 2.5 hours less than that.

backpackers, wild coast, places to stay, where to stay in coffee bay, hole in the wall, accommodation, review, family, kid friendly, travel, south africa, road trip, tazzdiscovers, roadtripThe road to the Hole in the Wall is truly horrendous. We managed with our Polo, but only just. The steep hills and huge potholes added about 60 new grey hairs. Due to the gradient of the hills, you have to rev like crazy to make it to the top, but you have to do it while avoiding the potholes. The number of downhills meant that my stomach was in knots, contemplating the trip back to Coffee Shack. I’m actually getting anxious all over again, just thinking about it.

Coffee Shack does offer trips to the Hole twice a week but, since we arrived between the 2 excursions, we just missed out on the opportunity to join them. If you stay with them and you’re there at the right time, you will probably be able to join them and save yourself the stress.  Give them a call and check when would be the best time to book so that your visit will intersect with their excursions. Also, Sunday nights are free supper nights. We enjoyed a hearty potjie with the yummiest isiXhosa bread I’ve ever tasted.

Supper is also a great time to mingle with the other guests. Of course, when you meet someone from Seoul and you say, “oh yes, you guys had the Olympics a few years ago!” and he responds with, “yes, that was in 1988…before I was born”, then you realize how friggen ancient you are and you want to curl up and die right there.

But it was fun. We enjoyed our stay at Coffee Shack and would definitely visit again, the next time we’re in the area.

Disclaimer: We enjoyed a complimentary stay at Coffee Shack in exchange for a blog post but all thoughts and words are our own. If we didn’t like it, we wouldn’t write about it.

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Hindsight: Family Road Trip Packing

how to pack for a road trip, family, travel, kids, kid friendly, what to pack, packing tips, travel, south africa, tazzdiscovers I wish I had taken pictures of us trying to pack everything into the car, the first time we’d hit the road. But we were too busy, you know, packing. Also, if I had to show you all the things we wanted to take with us, it would be rather embarrasing. Talk about trying to pack everything and the kitchen sink.

I learned a lot from those first 9 weeks so, when we packed for our 2 week road trip, it was MUCH easier. Which is why I feel qualified to share our tips with you.

Packing for a family road trip

My first tip would be to pile everything you want to take with you. It helps to see how vast the load is before you even start packing. If you’re going to be away for a while, do this about 1.5 weeks before you plan to leave. Our first mistake was to move things from the various bedrooms into the car as we were packing. I think we unpacked and repacked about 5 times a few hours before we wanted to leave. Which was absolutely crazy!

Once you see how much you want to pack, have a good laugh and then separate the pile into WANT vs NEED. When that is done, halve the pile again. Now you probably have a more realistic visual about how much will actually fit into the car.

I should interject here and say that, while we weren’t towing a trailer around South Africa, we did have a Thule top box. So, if you don’t have this kind of additional space, I would halve the pile again if I were you.

What you need to remember is that you will be spending many hours in your car. Which means, you will want to be comfortable. When we left Cape Town for the first time, we had so much packed in the car that I couldn’t even see the kids in the back seat. Fortunately our first stop was only 200kms away so we didn’t have that far to go, but the trip was uncomfortable for everyone. Which is why we left so much of our stuff in Montagu.

Day 3: Things to do in and around Montagu

Our friends from Chasing the Rainbow have done an awesome post on what to pack, when it comes to your kitchen basics. So, let’s not reinvent the wheel and let me just send you there.

How to Pack the Ultimate Self-catering Survival Kit

When you consider that the post suggests you pack TWO large storage tubs, you might want to position these in your boot, while they’re still empty, so that you can see how much space you have left. And yes, I would highly recommend that you include everything Sarah has suggested.

Very few self catering venues are well kitted out with everything that you need so, pretend you’re going camping and take everything listed. Better to be safe than sorry.

A decent knife, shopping board and pot that can hold at least 5 litres of water will go a long way to ensure that you can cook something, quickly. Soup or pasta was often our dinner of choice on the road. Oh, and throw in your stainless steel coffee mugs too. Loads of places expect you to use teacups for everything.  And is there anything worse than a tiny cup of coffee?

I think I’m going to have to do a separate post dealing with how to pack clothes and toiletries. No one has time to read a post that rambles on and on. So, that’s all for today.

Let me know what packing tips you have in the comments section below and I will try to include them in the next hindsight post, with credit obviously.

 

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