I’ve decided to give myself a little more structure on The Curious Knight Life by adding some weekly (if I’,m honest with myself it will be more likely bi-weekly) series, beginning with Travel Tuesdays. Part of the appeal of the tiny house lifestyle to me was mobility.
Oddly enough, 10 years ago I never could have imagined loving travel the way I do. I grew up in the same small town in Western Maryland for 18 years of my life. Going to college 3 hours away in Richmond, Virginia was even a little traumatic at first. I almost transferred colleges after my first semester to live closer to home. And once I got used to the neighboring state I always assumed I would reside somewhere in the Maryland, DC, Virginia area. Change of any sort was hard for me.
So the fact that I am so drastically altering my lifestyle today, in large part to give me the ability to move around- see and live in different parts of the world- if shocking even to me. But since my first out of the country excursion to South America in 2005, I realized there is a lot to see and I only have some much life in which to see it in.
One of the first big trips that tiny living enabled me to take with this past April and May to South Africa for the wedding of my college roommate and best friend, Amanda. What a truly astonishing experience. Amanda teases with the idea of her and her new husband moving there someday and I must admit I love, because even with Amanda stateside in DC, I hardly get to see her and this means I would most assuredly go back!
Amanda was born in the US with an American mother and South African father who met in college at UNC Chapel Hill.
She spent much of her childhood South Africa and still has a lot of family there. She also moved there for 6 months back in 2010 prior to Jared and I’s wedding as her parents and siblings have moved back to the Durban area.
Since Amanda and I became quick friends on our hall in 2003 (Freshmen year at the University of Richmond- LoRo basement was the substance free hall and yes we were goody goodies), I have made the self promise that I would have to see the part of the world where she grew up! I was able to make good on this promise in part because we sold our house in the fall. Without a mortgage and the time I would have spent on the house and yard in the past, I felt more free to commit to the trip when Amanda sent out the invites.
So on April 25 I set out for Durban South Africa and spent an incredible 11 days there, returning to the states on May 8. I used SkyScanner to set up an alert for flights to South African and found some fairly affordable prices. I could go on forever telling you the scenary, the culture, the food, the people, but if I haven’t already lost you in my wordiness I will try to keep it concise here. These are the 10 highlights of time in South Africa:
1. Travel Time
These flights were by far the longest I have taken in my life! The trip there was broken into several legs: Dallas–> DC–>Dakar–>Johanesburg–> Durban. The flights home were just Cape Town to Dubai and a whopping 16 hour flight from Dubai to Dallas, but Emirates Airlines certainly made sure I was as comfortable as one can be on a 16 hour flight and not in first class.
I made a few friends from North Carolina on the bumpy flight there who sat behind me and shared their wine and our layovers. Oddly enough I saw them nearly a week later in Cape Town!
But somethings never change and that is that I still get a little wimpy when I travel long distances, especially by myself!
After arriving in Durban on April 26, we left the city for a game reserve the next day. On the way we stopped at Makaphut Children’s Village where Amanda’s parents run the orphanage. The children had prepared plays, songs, and dances in celebration of Amanda and Nick’s wedding and we all had an amazing time with these incredible kids.
Check out this video to see some of the show:)
3. Game Reserve
Next we drove about 3 hours north of Durban to Nambiti Private Game Reserve in Kwazulu Natal to stay at the Springbok Lodge. We stayed in private luxury cabins and took 3 hour came drives twice a day (6am and 6pm) trying to find ‘the big five.’
Our range- Jonathan was incredibly knowledge and self described ‘crazy about the bush.” We ended up seeing four of the big five (all except a leopard), plus hippos, zebra, giraffes, and so much more! Truly a once in a lifetime experience.
The Wedding was on April 30 on a sugarcane plantation just north of Ballito Beach. It was absolutely beautiful and full of Addisons 🙂 Some attendees from Makaphutu really brought the dance at the reception too 🙂 The wedding was photographed by Vanilla Photography if you want to see the really good shots.
5. Cape Town and Clifton Beach
On May 1st we all flew to Cape Town with Nick and Amanda for a Buddymoon 🙂 We explored University of Cape Town, Rhodes Memorial, Devils Peak Brewery, Mama Africa, the Old Biscuit Mill, Camps Bay, and Clifton Beach we I stayed with the other buddymooners (Amanda and Nick had a separate place).
6. Cape of Good hope and Boulders Beach
I drove half the crew (on the other side of the road!) to the Cape of Good Hope– the most south western tip of Africa and stopped at Boulder Beach on the way back to Cape Town where a colony of Penguins live. And then we stopped to watch the sunset over the Atlantic and saw whales!!
7. Robben Island
We took a ferry from the Cape Town Waterfront to Robben Island– the former prison where Nelson Mandela was a political prisoner for 18 years. It was a very somber but enlightening trip.
8. Table Mountain
The afternoon after we ventured to Robben Island was spent hiking the quickest and steepest trail to summit Table Mountain. Nick and Amanda led the way and I stayed right with them, despite a little panic due to my fear of heights and Amanda leading us off trail, to reach the top in an hour and half. When we got there half the view was of Cape town and the Ocean and the other side of the mountain was completely covered in clouds. Amanda said she has never seen it like that it honestly felt like we were on top of the world.
9. Cheetah Reserve
The morning of my last day we went to a cheetah outreach center in Sommerset West outside of Capetown. We got to pet cheetahs and see some other animals which was amazing, but I loved the work the center was doing. They were using their proceeds to raise dogs to give to South Africa farmers. The dogs would then scare cheetahs away from their flocks and herds so that the farmers didn’t have to kill the cheetahs by setting traps, but still lost little of their livestock AND they got a dog out of it! This place was right my alley 🙂
10. Stellenbosch and Franschhoek on Horseback
After the cheetah outreach center we drove Stellenbosch and Franschhoek valleys known for their wineries. Amanda spent a significant part of her childhood there and found a stable to rent out horses to ride from winery to winery. The scenery was breathtaking, the wine was amazing, and you know I love animals so it truly was the most amazing way to wrap up this incredible journey!