I am SO PUMPED to share this South Africa travel blog series with you! I began writing on the plane home a few weeks ago, but then decided to go ahead and make it a travel series, because honestly, traveling to South Africa changed my life. It is such an incredible, beautiful, breath taking, colorful, complicated, diverse, and hopeful place. One post just couldn't do South Africa justice.
Land Rover Love, Nambiti Hills Game Reserve, December 2014
A little background info: I met my husband Justin in college, when he moved to the States from South Africa on a golf scholarship. Justin has been in the US since 2009, we got married in 2014. When I think about this blended South African-American life we are building together, I actually can't believe how lucky I am. Marrying into a South African family means my travel experience goes a lot deeper than the usual American tourist trip there. Half of our family is in South Africa, and our trips have been some of the best times of my life. I have definitely adopted a "locals" perspective to South Africa, and leaving gets harder every time we go.
This travel series will highlight a lot of points I think you will enjoy: getting there and flights, locals and culture, shopping, wine, South African weddings, and the topic of discussion of today: safaris and game reserves.
Zebra & Lioness at Ndaka Safari Lodge, March 2017
I've been on Safari in South Africa three times total, and stayed at three different game reserves/lodges. All three were so different, and so amazing. Safari life is unlike any thing you've ever experienced in the States. You wake up for your morning drive at 5AM, put on your safari gear, and climb on the game vehicle to start scouting for animals. It's dark and usually chilly, but there's not much in the world like an African sunrise - or sunset for that matter. Sunset also equals SUNDOWNERS (a Grice family fav!): a drink you have while watching the sun go down.
Sundowner Gin & Tonics at Nambiti Plains, December 2014
My Top 3 Game Reserve* Recommendations
*all three of these reserves are BIG 5 reserves. The African Big Five animals are the African lion, African elephant, Cape Buffalo, African leopard, and rhinoceros. The term "Big Five Game" refers to the most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot.*
Visited: December 2014. Highlight of my stay: casually riding up on a HERD of elephants of all ages. The game ranger told us not to move, because you do not want to startle an elephant, let alone twenty of them!
Visited: March 2017. Highlight of my stay: getting to share the experience with my dad and brother Kennedy, sleeping in a tent lodge, and the LIONS! The Lions' den is near Ndaka, so if you stay there, you are almost certain to see them. We were extra lucky: there were several 4 month old baby cubs around! Our guide Siya (pronounced "See-Ya") was AMAZING. If you ever travel here, request him as your game ranger!
Visited: May 2016. I still cannot properly pronounce Hluhluwe, but it's fine. Highlight of my stay: RHINOS. They are such majestic creatures! Hluhluwe is also a government sponsored reserve, so it has a more raw cultural vibe to it. We stayed in the self catering units and had quite a few nights of braai (barbeque).
This just about wraps up my Safari post. I hope you have enjoyed reading about a place that's so incredibly dear to my heart. South Africa travel questions for me? Let me know in the blog comments, on instagram (@grice_grove) or email me at Kaitlynne@gricegrove.com!
Until next time,