I Can’t Believe I’m Back in South Africa!

I Can’t Believe I’m Back in South Africa!

By |2016-07-21T23:46:55+00:00January 29th, 2013|South Africa|68 Comments

View of Cape Town
Walking from the airplane towards the immigration area, I noticed that I was walking a little faster than normal. And when I turned the corner, walked down the small staircase and straight into the immigration line itself, I could not help but smile widely.

I received my entry stamp, picked up my backpack (which for the first time in all my travels was one of the first few pieces of luggage to come out onto the luggage carousel) and proceeded through the customs inspection. Seconds later, the sliding glass door opened, I walked right through and there I stood in the Arrivals Hall of the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, with an array of brilliant flashbacks popping into my head.

It felt mighty good to be back in South Africa.

Only 14 months prior had I been standing in that exact same spot when my flight from New York City had arrived and the South Africa Travel Blogger Tour that I had been invited on, had begun. This time, I had flown in from Mumbai and while I wouldn’t be traveling with a group of other bloggers on this particular trip, I would not be traveling alone either.

This current South Africa trip of mine is all about my mom. In order to celebrate her birthday, we decided to meet in the one country that has been at the top of her list of places to visit for a long time now…sweet South Africa!

After agreeing on the dates a few months ago, I looked into the logistics, I was put in touch with the wonderfully helpful people over at DSA Vacations and before we knew it, we had our trip all planned out.

And now, here we are.

I’m excited, she’s excited and, even though I’ll be traveling a little differently than I normally do over the following ten days, I hope you’ll be excited to follow along with us as well.

And what exactly do I mean by ‘traveling a little differently than I normally do?’ Well, as my goal was to make this trip as special as possible for my mom, we’ll be staying at some accommodation along the way that I probably wouldn’t stay at if I were backpacking on my own. (Let’s just say that there won’t be any mice running around these rooms!)

But hey, this trip is a birthday celebration and I wanted to do it properly. Besides, the next ten days and beyond will be full of activities and excursions that will give you an excellent idea of what a visit to this diverse country is all about. As for our itinerary, we’ll spend three days in Cape Town before heading over to the Garden Route and staying a few nights in Plettenberg Bay. From there we’ll fly up to Johannesburg for a quick stop and then continue on to Kruger National Park for a 3-day safari.

And the best part (for me at least) is that this trip includes visits to parts of this country that I did not have a chance to experience the last time I was here back in 2010.

So, are you ready to explore a little bit of South Africa with my mom and I? I’m highly confident that you won’t be disappointed! After all, we’ve only been here a couple of days so far and there’s already been African penguin sightings, a drive along the mesmerizing Cape Peninsula, wine-tasting in beautiful Stellenbosch and of course, a trip up to the top of impressive Table Mountain.

Penguins at Boulder's Beach

Cape Peninsula

Mom and I from Table Mountain

It’s off to a spectacular start and there shall be plenty more to come…

Any questions about South Africa? Is this country already on your list of places you want to visit?


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  1. Izy Berry - The Wrong Way Home February 10, 2013 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    Usually gifts are meant to be appreciated/enjoyed by the receiver and not so much by the one who offers. It’s sweet that you adapted your travelling style for this trip to the one of your mom. It really shows the love for your mom

  2. Bill F. February 7, 2013 at 11:26 pm - Reply

    Hey Mom you did an outstanding job on describing your trip.It read so well it made me feel as though I was there as well since I have made that same trip many yrs. ago it brought back memories.The photos are great did you use your new camera?
    I have photo paper if you want to print some and frame for your walls.
    Derek you did a nice thing for your mom,good job……………….
    waiting for the sequel on the safari

  3. Jam @icoSnap February 4, 2013 at 10:38 am - Reply

    That sounds a lot of fun! I can’t wait to see more post about your South Africa trip with your Mom! Take lots of photos and have fun ^_^

  4. Aidan February 3, 2013 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    Hey Earl – So nice to have bumped into you guys along the way, hope you and mom are enjoying Kruger. Your life of everlasting travel is inspiring to Julie and I, and has given way to thoughts of contingency plans if/when we are bored of Australia. We hope you guys enjoy a wonderful time together for the remainder of your trip!

    • Wandering Earl February 5, 2013 at 10:53 am - Reply

      Hey Aidan – Great to hear from you and I hope you and Julie enjoyed the remainder of your trip as well, which I’m confident you most certainly did! We had a great time up near Kruger and then, just like that, the trip had to come to an end. As I said when we met, I’m often in Australia so the next time I’m there I shall let you know…I’ll be curious to see what kind of contingency plans you come up with!

  5. Ayelet - All Colores February 1, 2013 at 6:43 am - Reply

    Happy birthday to your mom! Penguins and a safari is an excellent way to celebrate 🙂

    • Wandering Earl February 5, 2013 at 10:45 am - Reply

      Hey Ayelet – My mom says thank you 🙂

  6. [email protected] February 1, 2013 at 5:26 am - Reply

    So fabulous that you’re sharing the adventure with you Mom. Mine is now gone, and I regret that I didn’t take her some place exotic (albeit, like you – with a bit more “upgraded” amenities than my usual/preferred traveling style.)

    RSA, eh? 2005, 6 week solo backpack across South Africa and Mozambique (at the tender age of near 6-oh!) My lifetime travel dream come true, cuz…

    Kruger National Park, eh? Yup, as my surname just happens to be “Kruger”, I always dreamed of stepping foot in the bush that my great, great, great uncle founded years ago (yup, he was a bigot, but hey – as President of RSA, he also started that nifty park, so at least there’s THAT, no?) 😉

    ANYWAY, a 3-day safari? You’ll love it! Kruger is utterly MAGICAL! One tip: do arrange to to do a “walk” at dawn (with armed rangers of course). Truly not to be missed – just be careful if you hear a “ROAR” as I did one morning: https://www.travelnlass.com/2011/01/random-photo-memory-lions-at-dawn.html

    LOL, I’ll never forget that ranger with the rifle shakily muttering “O.k. then, let’s all just QUICKLY get back in the jeep!” ;D

    • Wandering Earl February 5, 2013 at 10:45 am - Reply

      Hey Dyanne – We had such a good time up near Kruger and we took a couple of walks into the bush as well, which were quite fascinating. And very interesting that you are connected to Kruger in that way 🙂

  7. Joe February 1, 2013 at 3:38 am - Reply

    Right now (Feb 1,2013) South Africa is R9 to USD1. Fantastic value for money!

    • Wandering Earl February 5, 2013 at 10:42 am - Reply

      Hey Joe – Excellent value indeed!

  8. Faisal January 31, 2013 at 8:43 pm - Reply

    Sounds like an awesome trip! I hope to take my mom on a cross-country trip across Canada this year.

    Love the picture of African penguins, I actually found out yesterday that Africa has penguins.

    • Wandering Earl February 5, 2013 at 10:41 am - Reply

      Hey Faisal – Many people aren’t aware that there are penguins down there. And your cross-country trip sounds amazing as well. Good on you for taking your mom with you!

  9. Alex Gibson January 31, 2013 at 2:57 pm - Reply

    Hello Earl,
    Thanks for the wonderful article, I am headed to Sandton City, Johannesburg, in a few weeks. Which restaurants woud recommend for an out of this world service and activites?

    • Wandering Earl February 5, 2013 at 10:41 am - Reply

      Hey Alex – I’m not too sure actually as I have never been to Sandton City. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

  10. Sofie January 31, 2013 at 9:52 am - Reply

    Enjoy your trip!
    I’m really looking forward to your posts/ I haven’t been to South Africa yet, so they might be useful for future planning:)

    • Wandering Earl February 5, 2013 at 10:38 am - Reply

      Hey Sofie – I’m very confident you’ll want to travel to South Africa soon after reading the upcoming posts 🙂

  11. Will January 31, 2013 at 1:16 am - Reply


    The three day safari sounds like fun! Hope you enjoy the sun as much as those penguins (?)


    • Wandering Earl February 5, 2013 at 10:38 am - Reply

      Hey Will – That safari turned out to be unbelievable!

  12. Melody January 30, 2013 at 9:42 pm - Reply

    so south africa isn’t that strict on the one way ticket thing? hmm.. will be headed there later this year and am glad to hear that..

    • Wandering Earl February 5, 2013 at 10:37 am - Reply

      Hey Melody – The immigration isn’t strict at all but it’s usually the airline check-in agents that prevent people from boarding a plane to a foreign country with only a one-way ticket. Technically they are required to stop that from happening because, according to the law in most countries, visitors must show proof of onward travel. While immigration almost never checks…the airlines do stick to the policy at time. You won’t know until you check-in unfortunately!

  13. Mike Messeroff January 30, 2013 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    Hey Earl – What’s your opinion on safety/security in South Africa, and how do you travel safely there? We’ve heard some horror stories so it’d be nice to get another point of view. Thanks!

    • Wandering Earl February 5, 2013 at 10:35 am - Reply

      Hey Mike – Just use common sense, talk to locals about where you should/shouldn’t go, especially after dark and you should be fine. We didn’t experience a single problem or moment of danger or anything like that at all during our time in South Africa. And the same was true during my last visit as well.

      • Mike Messeroff February 5, 2013 at 4:33 pm - Reply

        That’s very different from what we heard…thanks so much for a different perspective. Keep up the great work with the blog!

  14. reka January 30, 2013 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    SA looks beautiful but I’ve heard mixed stories from people who lived there.
    Like Cape Town and Durban being a bit dangerous and aren’t the places where you could just walk to the store after dark.
    Do you think it’s exaggerated or might improved in the last few years?

    • Wandering Earl February 5, 2013 at 10:34 am - Reply

      Hey Reka – Of course, there are some dangerous parts and some safety precautions to take but in the end, as a visitor, you would take the exact same safety precautions that you would take anywhere in the world. My mom and I didn’t have a single moment where we felt unsafe at all during our trip.

  15. […] I Can’t Believe I’m Back in South Africa! (wanderingearl.com) […]

  16. Lee January 30, 2013 at 8:03 am - Reply

    A few friends of mine went to South Africa a couple of years ago and after hearing their stories it’s been on my list ever since.

    Looking forward to reading about what you get up to!

    • Wandering Earl January 30, 2013 at 9:24 am - Reply

      Hey Lee – Every time I hear others talk about their trips to this country, I keep thinking that I could spend a long time over here. The more I hear, the more I realize that in my two visits, I’ll have only seen a tiny bit of what this destination is all about.

  17. Tyrhone January 30, 2013 at 6:02 am - Reply

    They say once you you get Africa in your blood, your hooked, or something to that effect. I grew up in South Africa, and although I wouldn’t live there again, I must say I have a hankering to return to continent where it all began.

    Hope you and your mum have a great time.

    • Wandering Earl January 30, 2013 at 9:23 am - Reply

      Hey Tyrhone – It is a great place to visit and you’re right, after my first trip here, I couldn’t wait to get back! Luckily it didn’t take too long.

  18. Doug January 30, 2013 at 4:05 am - Reply

    Hey Earl. Have been reading your blog for a long time. Love it. I have a question you may or may not want to answer but I wanted to ask it. Since you make a living by writing about your travels does that mean you can write off all of your travel expenses (plane tickets, hotels, etc?). Thanks and can’t wait to see more!

  19. Corinne January 30, 2013 at 12:14 am - Reply

    This is the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard! You are an awesome son! SA is such a great choice. Are you getting down to Agulhas?

    • Wandering Earl January 30, 2013 at 9:21 am - Reply

      Hey Corinne – We won’t make it to Agulhas unfortunately…our time is a bit limited as my mom just took 12 days of vacation but we’re trying to see as much as we can!

  20. Gaelyn January 29, 2013 at 7:19 pm - Reply

    I’ll look for you in Kruger.

  21. Pernila January 29, 2013 at 7:08 pm - Reply

    South Africa is definitely on my list of must see countries. Hope you and your mum have a great time! Can’t wait to read all about it.

    • Wandering Earl January 30, 2013 at 9:19 am - Reply

      Thanks Pernila! And we’re having a great time so far!

  22. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures January 29, 2013 at 6:39 pm - Reply

    Sooo jealous! I’m dying to get back to SA. Love that you’re traveling with your Mom.

  23. Paul January 29, 2013 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    Sounds like it’s going to be pretty fun Earl. It’s always great to travel with family every now and then – a great opportunity to connect and see places differently than we might otherwise have done so. I look forward to the upcoming posts.

    • Wandering Earl January 30, 2013 at 9:19 am - Reply

      Hey Paul – You said it well…I definitely enjoy it when my family or friends come out to visit and we travel together. It usually is a different style but I enjoy the change as it does help keep me fresh and seeing the world from new angles!

  24. Drew Meyers January 29, 2013 at 3:37 pm - Reply

    South Africa is certainly a top 3 country on my to-visit list.

    Have an awesome time there!

    • Wandering Earl January 30, 2013 at 4:51 am - Reply

      Hey Drew – Top 3 sounds good to me!

  25. kathy January 29, 2013 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    Hey there
    So jealous you are in my homeland, I miss it terribly. Pity you are not making it to my province, Kwazulu-Natal and the Imfolozi/Hluhluwe game park (spent many good times there). Which camps are you staying in the Kruger, there are a few that are better than others.
    In Plettenberg Bay there is an awesome monkey rehabilitation center that you can take a tour through, Monkey World or something like that, just watch your sunglasses.
    Have a blast and be sure to eat Biltong, boerewors, milktart and find a pepermint crisp!!!

    • Wandering Earl January 30, 2013 at 4:53 am - Reply

      Hey Kathy – I did make it to Kwazulu-Natal the last time I was here…and loved it up there of course! This time around it’s a bit more rushed. But we did go to Monkeyland and it was indeed much better than the name would suggest. We had a great time over there!

  26. M January 29, 2013 at 1:40 pm - Reply

    Your mom is beautiful and looks young enough to be your sister! Good genes!
    It must have been such a thrill to see the penguins up close. Are you able to get close enough to pet them? Are they friendly? Seeing them is def at the top of my SA destinations.

    • Wandering Earl January 30, 2013 at 4:47 am - Reply

      Hey M – At this location the penguins are in the wild and so you cannot get too close and they don’t allow you to get right on the beach and touch them, for good reason. But you can get quite close from the viewing platform and it’s such a great sight to see!

  27. Sarah Somewhere January 29, 2013 at 1:39 pm - Reply

    I’m excited! It’s great to ‘meet’ your Mum, she’s gorgeous! I’m sure you guys are going to have a great time, happy birthday Earl’s (Derek’s!) Mom!!!

    • Wandering Earl January 30, 2013 at 4:46 am - Reply

      Hey Sarah – My mum says thank you for the birthday wishes 🙂

  28. Raz January 29, 2013 at 1:30 pm - Reply

    Hey! Looks fantastic.
    How long did the flight from Mumbai to Cape Town took? And much did u pay for it?
    Good luck & happy birthday to your mama!
    Thanks for the helpful info and helping hand in India, I am allllmooost ready to move 🙂

    • Wandering Earl January 30, 2013 at 4:46 am - Reply

      Hey Raz – The flight was with Qatar Airways and it took 12 hours overall with a one hour stop in Qatar. I paid $400 USD for the one-way ticket, not a bad price at all I think.

  29. Mikaela January 29, 2013 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    I was in SA for five months last year. Now I want to go back! Missed the Garden Route. Don’t forget about chocolate and cheesetasting around Stellenbosch too 🙂

    • Wandering Earl January 30, 2013 at 4:45 am - Reply

      Hey Mikaela – I wish I had time to stay here for five months! And we did do some chocolate/wine tasting in Stellenbosch…wouldn’t miss that at all!

  30. Willsteed January 29, 2013 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    I think you should disclose companies that pay or fund you directly or indirectly to advertise them.

    Your various plugging is starting to get a kinda distinctive odour to it, and if I’m right in that feeling, it’s not playing straight.

    • Wandering Earl January 30, 2013 at 4:44 am - Reply

      Hey Willsteed – Always a pleasure to read your comments and I most certainly do disclose any time that I receive something for free. On this trip, yes, some of the accommodation was provided for and I will certainly mention that when I write about those places. But if you’d like to see my credit card statement for the $2400 USD that I paid to South African Airways Vacations, I’d be more than happy to show it to you 🙂

  31. Rams January 29, 2013 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    A wanderer who is never lost. Mom will enjoy it, share in the moment, Earl

    • Wandering Earl January 30, 2013 at 4:42 am - Reply

      Thanks Rams!

  32. Genna January 29, 2013 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    Ah, this post just made me so homesick! I’m living in the UK but from Cape Town originally and spent many a school holiday with family in Plettenberg Bay. Enjoy, your mom will love it!

    • Wandering Earl January 30, 2013 at 4:42 am - Reply

      Hey Genna – Plettenberg Bay is an amazing place…we just had such a good couple of days in that area. And we could have easily stayed another week!

  33. Spinster January 29, 2013 at 11:53 am - Reply

    Yes, this is on my list of countries to visit. Have a good time there with your mother.

    • Wandering Earl January 30, 2013 at 4:41 am - Reply

      @Spinster – Nice…this country should be on everyone’s list in my opinion. It blows me away every day!

  34. Guylaine Roy January 29, 2013 at 11:49 am - Reply

    I wish you and your mom lots of fun! Bon voyage!

    • Wandering Earl January 30, 2013 at 4:39 am - Reply

      Merci Guylaine!

  35. Melanie Murrish January 29, 2013 at 11:43 am - Reply

    Looks fab-mind you don’t spoil your appetite for hostels. By the way are you sure that is your mum and not your sister or were you having a rough day lol!

    • Wandering Earl January 30, 2013 at 4:39 am - Reply

      Hey Melanie – Haha…yes, that is my mum 🙂 And don’t worry, I won’t lose my appetite for hostels…no matter where I stay, I still love going back to the budget-friendly places where I can meet so many new people and have a bed without dishing out too much cash 🙂

  36. Carmen January 29, 2013 at 11:34 am - Reply

    Can’t wait to read more as things go along!
    Good on you for taking such good care of yer Mama 🙂

    • Wandering Earl January 30, 2013 at 4:38 am - Reply

      Hey Carmen – She’s always wanted to visit this country and this was the perfect time to make it happen!

  37. RunAwayHippie January 29, 2013 at 11:10 am - Reply

    Wow! that sounds awesome Earl! even though it’s not your usual travel, it sounds like you will still really enjoy it! I’m looking forward to more posts about your time there! 🙂

    • Wandering Earl January 30, 2013 at 4:37 am - Reply

      @RunAwayHippie – Good to hear and so far it’s really been a packed trip…so much to see/do in this country!

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