John Steinbeck said about travel that you go, not so much to see but to tell afterward. I travel for both those reasons. I’m endlessly curious and love experiencing new things I couldn’t in my own back yard, but I also enjoy sharing those experiences through this blog. Here are my 7 travel highlights of 2013.
1. Why Moringa is my favourite Etosha waterhole
Namibia is one of my all-time favourite countries to visit, and even after multiple visits to Etosha National Park, it’s still the Southern African game reserve I love the most. It never disappoints. Etosha is perhaps best known for its popular Okaukuejo camp, but its more poor relation, Halali, remains my first choice because of its fabulous Moringa waterhole.
2. Crossing the Zambezi on a ferry
Zambia is an easy country to fall in love with, largely because of its friendly people, its colourful markets and of course the beautiful South Luangwa National Park. One of my favourite posts from early 2013 was of our experience of the controlled chaos of crossing the Zambezi River on a ferry. I still feel a buzz of excitement whenever I remember it.
3. Kalahari: two years, two different planets
Anyone can tell you that I have a very soft spot for the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. One of the things I love most is that if you come at exactly the same time of year, two years in a row, your experience will be as different as a banana is from a barrel of bugs. Never the same, never boring.
In 2013 we returned to the Richtersveld Transfrontier Park for the first time in eight years – only to wonder why we’d waited so long. If you haven’t been there yet and you’re a lover of wild and rugged places, you really do have to visit the Richtersveld at least once in your life. This year, a memorable experience was chatting to one of the Nama shepherds who still graze their flocks inside the park.
5. Showdown at Crocodile Bridge, Kruger Park
The Kruger National Park is South Africa’s flagship park and I love the place for its diversity of species, great game viewing and how easy it is to camp there, where everything you need is close to hand. Occasionally, though, things get even more exciting than usual.
6. Fossil Ridge eco-lodge in the Gamkaberg: a perfect spot
The Karoo is one of my favourite places in South Africa – spacious, full of fascinating places to explore and as varied as a packet of liquorice allsorts. This year we visited a number of Karoo attractions that show just how diverse it is, from the wide open spaces of the Tankwa Karoo that get under your skin and into your bones to the starry skies and snow of Sutherland, or the old-world hospitality of Willowmore and beautiful red-stone mountains of the Baviaanskloof. But it was the seduction of having our own private eco-lodge in the Little Karoo’s Gamkaberg Nature Reserve – without breaking the bank – that was my pick of the bunch, perhaps because it was so unexpected.
7. 7 things to do in Darling out of flower season
Closest to home, on our way back from the West Coast’s Rocherpan Nature Reserve, we stayed over in the little village of Darling. Just over an hour’s drive from Cape Town, it’s a well-loved weekend destination, particularly during the Darling Wildflower Show in September. But we discovered there’s more to Darling than spring flowers.
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