After a week of looking at the ocean and mountains in Cape Town, my boyfriend and I took a short flight to Johannesburg. Joburg has a different vibe from Cape Town - it is, after all the largest city in South Africa. Since our return, many friends and family members have been asking us about the general safety and security of South Africa. Honestly, we are aware that South Africa does not have a good reputation when it comes to safety. But even the safest place on earth can be dangerous, right? Just be sure to take the usual precautions and everything should be fine!
South Africans, based on my observations, are usually cautious and curious. They tend to look intimidating but they are mostly warm and friendly when the ice is broken. A cashier at a grocery store asked me to share my recipe after she saw the produce I bought. We spent 20 minutes talking and laughing and I gained a free Afrikaans language lesson! Though I was the only Asian lady in a sea of South Africans, I didn't feel even the least bit intimidated. Instead, I felt safe.
I love how travelling can change a person's perspective. I could go on and on about my trip to South Africa because I have too many good stories to share. My heart is warm and fuzzy, and I'm just beyond glad that my dream destination turned out to be a complete dream come true.
Warning: The post contains a lot of squeal-worthy pictures!
Explore + Stay // A quiet farm stay
We chose to stay on a farm that is 3 hours away from the city of Joburg. Rosemary Hill Farm has a top notch security team and we felt very safe during our stay. We decided to rent mountain bikes to explore the farm. If you love biking and are always in for a challenge, I highly recommend exploring the longest trail. I am a pretty bad cyclist and after 10km, I returned with a very sore bottom. But, I felt extremely accomplished!
Do // Safari visits and sunset game drives
No trip to South Africa is complete without checking out the Big Five - African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and White/Black rhinoceros. My visit to the Pilanesberg National Park was definitely the highlight of the trip. We were paired with a knowledgeable, experienced and gusty guide. He knew the best spots to go, though there is no guarantee. Half way during the game drive, he received word that a leopard is seen around some grazing wildebeests. We drove quickly, and thanks to his quick responses, we secured the best spot with the leopard just next to me! Gasp.
I was so close, so close to all the animals. When I looked out at the safari, I could hear David Attenborough's voice in head, describing animal traits and behaviours. Thank you, National Geographic and David Attenborough for all the knowledge!
At the end of the game drive, we had a scrumptious buffet dinner spread. Besides cooked food, there was a barbecue in the outdoors. We joined in the fun and went outdoors to check out the food selection. There were chickpeas, roasted mushrooms, mash, and grilled beef! I was so excited and I got my boyfriend to join the queue on my behalf.
He came back to the table with a plate of food and he told me that the server gave him a slab of neck meat. His face was turning green as he told me that the meat was not beef... it was grilled cheetah and the next grill boasted of a grilled dog. We thought it was a joke, but no. South Africans love their exotic meats! I have seen barbecue menus with hedgehog, zebra and giraffe meats. :( Needless to say, I lost all appetite that night and all I ate was celery sticks...
Do // Walk with lions and learn about wildlife preservation
We did not spot any lions during my game drive so we decided to squeeze in a last minute trip to a wildlife preservation and research farm. We had the opportunity to play with lions, cubs, and cheetahs and I believe I left my heart behind with the cubs. They are so fluffy and way too adorable. I gained so much new knowledge in a short span of time - so much more than the many years of science lessons in school. Nothing like hands-on learning, right?
Eat // Lunch at the Market on Main
After the farm stay, we stayed at an Airbnb apartment that was opposite one of the most popular art scenes in Johannesberg - Arts on Main at Maboneng. They say that Maboneng used to be a neighbourhood of crime but that's all in the past. The vibe is great and you can find many artists, offices, and cool cafes around. Do try the food at the weekend market - Market on Main. Grab a plate of seafood paella, grilled haloumi pita and wash it down with a pint of cold beer.
Thank you South Africa, for being such a dream come true. I'll be back someday!
How do you feel about chasing golden sunsets and lions in the safari? Share them with me! :)
The humans behind honey&gazelle Design Studio. When we are not frantically working, we share our mishmash of thoughts on design, life, and love here. Grab a cuppa and stay for a bit!