Cost: ££ – once you’ve paid for your flight everything else is really reasonable
Rating: 10/10 – stunning, beautiful, amazing
Hazyview is about a 3 hour drive from Johannesburg / you can fly to Nelspruit which is a 45 minute drive away… always check SkyScanner for best fares.
PS, Nelspruit airport (pictured above) is SO cute.
We stayed at Hippo Hollow, a stunning country estate on the Sabie River in a private chalet which backed onto a garden with a pool.
A garden chalet costs R1,945 (£107) per night which was pricey for South Africa but totally worth it for the luxury… especially after over a week of volunteering at a rhino orphanage.
We even got to see the wild hippos that pass through on one of the nights whilst we were eating dinner…
The SA currency is the ZAR / South African Rand – £1 = just less than 20 Rand / £100 = 1,860 Rand which seems like quite a scary number. Have the calculator on your phone ready to work things out.
We picked up a rental car at the airport and mainly drove around ourselves… the scenery was always stunning.
Top tips to stay safe
You need to have your wits about you anywhere you travel. To reduce your chances of running into trouble in SA…
- Leave valuables in the UK / your hotel room
- Research before you go
- Keep only a small amount of money on you
- Don’t walk around at night
- Avoid townships at all costs
- Be alert
- If driving:
– Have your route mapped out before you travel
– Keep doors locked and windows up
– Avoid driving through townships
– If driving at nighttime, don’t STOP at the STOP signs
– Put bags / valuables in the boot
– Make sure you have petrol for long journeys to avoid getting stranded
– Make sure car is running okay before you leave
– Have small change ready to give out
If you are a victim of crime in SA then it will most likely be petty theft. Give them what they ask for… a wallet / phone isn’t worth your life.
Fortunately we never felt unsafe in SA but I think that’s mostly because we followed the advice above.
What we did…
Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is just a short drive away from Hazyview and Hippo Hollow (about 30 mins). We booked a one day private tour through Kurt Safari which cost £220.
You can drive into Kruger yourself although I’d definitely recommend getting a tour as the guide will spot things a mile off which you’ll even struggle to see when it has been pointed out. I think it’s worth getting a private tour as you can go at your own speed, spending longer with animals that particularly interest you.
What animals did we see?
Elephants are my favourite animals and after volunteering with Elephant Nature Park in Thailand, I was so excited to see a wild elephant in SA.
Due to conservation efforts the population in South Africa has grown in recent years… However, elephants used to roam across the whole of Africa but numbers across the board have declined dramatically in recent years.
Some tour guides will tell you that there are actually too many elephants and that they need to be culled… I find this frustrating – it only seems like there are too many elephants because humans are encroaching on their space more and more as the years go by. The problem is us, not the elephants.
Fortunately high numbers mean you’re almost guaranteed to see one or two close up.
We went to Kruger straight after a week volunteering with orphaned rhinos at Care for Wild, so I was desperate to see a wild rhino… and we did!
On average 2.5 rhinos are killed everyday in South Africa for their horn. Whilst reports will show that the total number of rhinos killed each year is decreasing, this is largely because there are simply fewer rhinos to kill. Our Kruger safari guide said that 10 years ago when he started safari tours a rhino would be easy to find – now you rarely get to see one due to poaching. Luckily we did 🙂
We also saw a herd of buffalo (in the pic on the right below). Whilst it doesn’t look it from a distance, buffalo are one of the largest and most formidable animals in Kruger!
The giraffe are one of my favourite animals… absolutely stunning. We saw quite a few different giraffe herds grazing by the road. Magnificent.
We also saw hippo and crocodile in the water… right next to each other. At eating areas you’ll see lots of vervet monkeys… be careful, they will come close and steal your food.
We saw loads of different birds as well as some birds of prey. A hornbill (like Zazu from Lion King) came super close to me when I was eating lunch. You will also see A LOT of impala and kudu. We saw loads of zebra too but I need to get the pics from my dad.
We also saw a leopard but didn’t manage to get a pic! Other animals you might see:
You might want to do a longer safari if you have the time… there are lots of private game reserves in the area if you’d like to change it up a bit from Kruger.
Definitely suggest driving the panoramic route for spectacular views! There are lots of stops along the way but I’d suggest the following…
A geological wonder in the Blyde River Canyon, also known as the Three Sisters. The most stunning view.
It costs R30 (£1.70) per person to enter… well worth it. There’s a great little market there too where you can buy carvings and other hand crafted SA gifts.
Bourke’s Luck Potholes
Incredible pot hole formations with waterfalls and ravines. Bridges and walkways have been built so you can see right in.
Entry costs just R63 (£3.50) per person which is well worth it. There’s a little shop / restaurant there too if you’re peckish / want an ice cream.
Another breathtaking viewpoint on the Panorama route costing just R17 (£1) per person to enter.
Make sure you walk to the very top through the rain forest as those views are the best.
This popular restaurant specialising in pancakes was recommended to us as a stop off point on the way back from the Panorama route. Amazing choice of fillings – enjoy!
We are most of our meals at the Hippo Hollow restaurant as we both wanted to drink and really we were too tired after busy days to travel anywhere else.
The food was pretty decent and the setting of the restaurant by the water was lovely.
This was an incredible part of our South Africa trip. Absolutely amazing to see wild animals actually being wild animals. If you can, go!