3 days in Johannesburg
Before October, South Africa has never been top of my 'to visit' list. For no apparent reason, other than there always seem to be so many other places I want to visit first. However, when Ian's best friend moved there for work for 6 months, we couldn't resist a trip out to stay.
We arrived in Johannesburg after a long indirect flight via Dubai and headed straight to dinner at Flames which sits high on a hilltop overlooking to beautiful greenery below. Unfortunately it was raining when we went so we didn't get the view...but we did get the best steak I have ever eaten!
Beautifully tender, with creamy lemon butter sauce and al dente broccoli...perfect to set us up for our two adventure in Pilanesburg National Park.
On the first day we were picked up at 6.30am for our two-hour drive to Pilanesburg. We booked our day tour through Detour Africa and paid for an open drive safari in the morning, so we were whisked onto that with our ranger Solomzi and off we went.
Not before long we came across zebras, giraffes and wildebeest galore. We zoomed around searching for the big 5, with the sun beating down on the beautiful scenery around us and the wind in our hair.
Just before lunch we were treated to a close up encounter with a breeding herd of elephants...absolutely incredible creatures!! The park is completely wild, with no interference from rangers etc, so it's never guaranteed that you will see any wild animals, less so that you'll see them so close up, so we were very lucky.
We finished the tour and headed off for lunch at Bakubung Bush Lodge. The restaurant is beautifully set looking out over a waterhole, and we sat in the shade and watched two hippos go abut their business. There are several lodges open for lunch, or you can go all-in and stay for the full safari experience.
We finished lunch and headed off on another afternoon drive. In search of big cats....no cats unfortunately, but we did spy some Rhinos! At 5.30pm we left the park for the drive home and slept soundly all the way back! The following morning we woke eager to see it all again, and get a glimpse of some of the animals we missed. This time we had no tour booked, so we packed a picnic, and drove ourselves.
Self-drive is a great, cheaper option (just park park entry fees), and is hugely rewarding when you come across animals with no-one else around. You must stick to the roads only though, and ensure you have respect for the space the animals need. It also meant we could park-up anywhere and enjoy a couple of cold beers while keeping our eyes peeled!
The best time to see animals is out of the heat of the day...in the morning or evening, so we stayed for golden hour and were not disappointed....just look at this stunner!
We headed home happy chappies, ready for our final day in Jo-burg.
After a morning at the pool to work up our appetites we headed to trendy Melville for lunch and the newly opened Countess.
This polished 'smokehouse' style restaurant serves deliciously grubby food like truffle mac n cheese, buttermilk fried chicken, ribs and burgers but in a beautifully presented way. Delicious!
Before long it was time for some sundowners before we had to whizz to the airport to catch our flight to Cape Town. We chose rooftop bar at the Southern Sun Hyde Park for a dip in the pool and a evening drink. A perfect end to the first leg of the trip!