Staying with South African family and friends
South Africa has some very touristic spots, like the Panorama Route, safaris in the Kruger Park, or the Garden Route. And of course, the mother city Cape town. But we want to show you what has been for us the real South African experience, staying with friends and family in different parts of the country, the not touristic ones.
Staying in Pretoria with Don and Corné
November 5th – Visiting Don and Corné
After landing in Johannesburg, we picked up our rental car. We drove directly to our friends Don and Corné in Pretoria. We had been warned by them already: be careful. South Africa is a beautiful country but unfortunately, has some very unsafe areas and Johannesburg and Pretoria are part of them. Even with this in mind, we were very impressed with the security systems of businesses and offices.
We drove to their office first, after giving our details on the security gate. When entering their state -neighbourhood – we were asked for details as well, and they took record of our finger tips. Now we understood what they meant about security.
In this conflicting areas of the country, most white people live in states: neighbourhoods surrounded by walls and electric fences with security gates. We walked around their parks inside the state. Although it was nice, it felt a bit sad to see that they have to live inside walls.
We soon got to learn what braai is, barbeque in Afrikaans. We braai on our first night in South Africa, and many more would follow!
November 6th – Going to Sun City waterpark & Casino
Corné and Don know well where the fun places are! They took us to Sun City, a crazy huge hotel in a shape of a palace, with a casino and waterpark. We didn’t gamble in the casino, but we had good fun on the water slides! Later we sneaked in the hotel to see how it feels to be one of those who could afford staying there for more than a thousand euros per night. Unfortunately or not, we could only afford having dinner there. We don’t need more!
November 7th – Heading to the Panorama route
Time to say goodbye to our friends. We were really treated and spoilt by them, they filled up our backpacks with snacks and took time of their very busy week to show us around and give us all the advices to have a great and safe time in South Africa. Our experience would have been very different without their tips!
Staying in Petrus Steyn with Henk and Carin
November 15th – Getting there
From Ermelo we drove towards the town Petrus Steyn, a 3-hour drive. Driving through Standerton, our first stop was our lunch typical lunch from the supermarket: chicken and fries!. After that we went to Frankfort. Instead of taking a highway road, Google maps sent us through the countryside. Adventure time! After 20 minutes we ended up on a gravel road, so we tried another one, which after a few minutes turned into a gravel road as well. It seemed like no one had been there in a while… And when we drove around the corner, we noticed why: there was a bridge ahead, but the bridge was completely gone.
All in all, we turned back and it was another hour on that gravel road until we met civilized world again. We stopped in Frankfort for a coffee in a cosy place and messaged Carin our new estimated arrival time. First, a short visit to her sister who lives in Reitz, and has a small jewellery shop with her own workshop. She had a beautiful place and she showed us how she placed diamonds in a ring. All handcrafted Amazing to see how a traditional workshop looks like.
Back in the car, we drove to Petrus Steyn. Giving directions in this area doesn’t really work, so the way to meet was “at the store in front of the gas station that you see when you enter the town”, and from there, Carin lead us to their lovely farm. The drive was around 20 km, mostly on a gravel road again. With the 4×4 cars all locals have, this is easy 15 min ride. For us it was a good 30 minutes ride!
Their home, a beautiful small farmer house with the sheds and animals around, was our place for dinner during the sunset. We stayed in their little guest house next to the farm. For us millennials used to live connected to the world at all times, it was surprising to find a place without Wi-Fi, and without signal at all!. The closest point of connection was on the hillside 200 meters further. However, it was great to get disconnected from the world and enjoy life to the fullest for a while. A very different lifestyle, but a very nice one connected with nature around you instead of the world away.
November 16th – Clarens and the Cherry festival
Around 7 in the morning a tractor woke us up, at least 2 hours later than usual!. We had some ¨Millie Pap´´ (Grinded corn with milk) for breakfast and we got a tour around the farm with Henk. All the sheep, chickens and farming land were nice and impressive. Besides that, 2 dogs running around and the cat playing with the flies. I got Henk’s old motor bike to ride around the fields. My first time on a manual motor (Richard) And I loved it!
In the afternoon we went to Clarens, a small town near the mountain site where the Cherry festival was held. A small market with all sort of things and where local car dealers are showing off their latest models. We got into a 4×4 and drove around an extreme circuit. After the festival we went to a beautiful place where we spent the night and had a great Braai.
November 17th – Visiting the town Clarens and our friend Armant
In the morning we had some rusks – hard biscuits – with coffee and tea. After that we had a walk around the town of Clarens. We saw some stores and had an amazing cherry smoothie. Just a cooldown for the drive towards another friend, Armant. As an authentic South African experience should be, we had another braai with a nice leg of lamb on the grill. A delicious dinner before we had some sweet marshmallows for dessert back in Petrus Steyn! We also talked about the following days and the route we will drive. Our route would cross Mthatha, a conflicting area, so they advised us to just drive it at once without stopping. This area is ruled by black people who tend to make a mess around the road… We will see how everything will turn out. At least we are prepared for what could happen.
November 18th – Sunday Funday at the Farm.
Driving around the farm on the motorbike, and trying to get signal at the “internet hill” to get some messages from our families was our morning plan. We also fed the baby lambs! Later we drove further on the farm to meet the cows thank Henk takes care of, and there was a little new born calf!
In the evening we had just another amazing braai. That’s exactly how the real South African experience should be on a Sunday.
Staying in Harrismith, Free state, with Armant and Izelle
November 19th – From Henk and Carin to Armant and Izelle
We woke up early and we were able to feed the lambs. There’s a lamb that was born with teeth, which hurts the mother when he tries to drink and only allows the other lamb to drink. Therefore, we need to feed him separately with a bottle. You can see a big difference between the two lambs as one is smaller than the other.
After the animals have been fed, we went out to the shooting range. To shoot a .22 .208 .357 and a shotgun. Amazing morning. I had never been shooting outside on a jerrycan.
We spent some very nice days with Henk and Carin, loved experiencing their way of life and getting in contact with all the animals.
In the afternoon we drove to Armant and Izelle, where we were staying for the night. Before dinner we went on a 4×4 tour with their “bakkie” into the mountains. For around 2 hours driving with a great chill location on top of the mountain with a lake. After driving back down we had a great dinner with them.
November 20th – Goodbye Armant & Izelle
Early morning, we had a great goodbye breakfast. After that we headed towards the mountains to drive to Underberg. A small village before Mthatha, the so called” black area”. The drive was amazing, through mountains next to dams (lakes). We had storms all around us, a bit scary but beautiful. Five hours later we arrived to a nice house up in the valley. We got some fire wood before it started raining again, light up the fire place and had a lovely evening enjoying the storm in the mountains. Popcorn, Netflix and chill.