11. Destination: South Africa - natural paradise between two oceans

The year 2020 is slowly drawing to a close, a year with many ups and downs, not only on the pandemic curve. The painful renunciation of unrestricted mobility clearly shows us what a central place travel occupies in our hearts and how enriching encounters with foreign people and cultures are for our further development and happiness.
So let's accompany the Pack Easy migratory bird on its longest and last leg to a country that leaves nothing to be desired. Almost 7,000 kilometers we sail through the air, over deserts, savannahs and rainforests, before the unmistakable landscape between the Atlantic Ocean in the west and the Indian Ocean in the southeast announces our destination South Africa.

Untouched paradise on the Indian Ocean

Sights and natural spectacles such as Table Mountain, the Cape of Good Hope, Stellenbosch, colorful townships or safari adventures are emblematic of South Africa. The country lives from these places and their magical attraction for travelers from all over the world. But we want to wander off the beaten track for a while, because other parts of South Africa also offer real insider tips. The Kosi Bay Nature Reserve in the northeast of the country is one of them. The nature reserve includes swamps and lakes that are supplied with salt water from the Indian Ocean by a series of canals. The unique climate in the reserve provides a home for countless bird species, and colorful, exotic fish live in the crystal-clear waters between graceful coral reefs - a true paradise for snorkelers and ornithologists. At the best time to travel, i.e. around the turn of the year, another natural spectacle can be observed. On the beaches of Bhanga Nek, huge turtles crawl to their nesting sites on the beach, where they lay their eggs untouched by prying eyes. The hatching is then done by the warmth of the sun, before the little clumsy turtles make their way through the beach into the water about 60 days later.

Dream beaches as far as the eye can see

But it is not only on the beaches of KwaZulu-Natal that animals mingle with the human sun worshippers. Boulders Beach in Simon's Town, for example, is home to more than 3,000 spectacled penguins, at Dolphin Beach, as the name suggests, you can catch a glimpse of dolphins jumping between surfers and bathers, and the path to "The Island" beach in the Robberg Nature Reserve leads past a seal colony.

Whether on the Indian Ocean or the Atlantic, in South Africa dream beaches are lined up one after the other, leaving behind the agony of choice. Muizenberg belongs to the most popular bathing beaches, the most beautiful view of Table Mountain is offered by Blouberg Beach, the rich and beautiful cavort in Camps Bay, Grotto Beach belongs to the cleanest beaches, Chintsa Beach becomes a retreat for those seeking peace and quiet and the windsurfers cavort with the dolphins at Dolphin Beach in Jeffreys Bay.

We discovered another pearl, Humewood Beach, which is right next to the surfer's paradise and also belongs to the beaches off Port Elizabeth. This is where people from the city spend their evenings, singing, dancing, eating and enjoying the view of the setting sun.


Picturesque panoramic road

Port Elizabeth is also called "The Windy City" and is an industrial city on the southeast coast of the country. However, the city on the Indian Ocean is better known as the destination or starting point of the picturesque Garden Route. The panoramic road leads through a seemingly endless abundance of landscapes to the town of Mossel Bay just outside Cape Town. Rolling hills, rocky coastlines, virgin forests and endless desert steppes regularly amaze travelers.

But not only the view over the country is gigantic, the huge nature reserves also invite to walks, canoe trips, whale watching or mountain bike tours. One of the most beautiful places on the Garden Route is the Tsitsikamma National Park, a piece of untouched wilderness with deep gorges, impenetrable vegetation and harsh winds. It is home to the nearly 65-year-old, 192-meter-long Storms River Suspension Bridge, which spans the river of the same name. A forerunner of masterful engineering, but we already feel a little queasy on the shaky construction. Another highlight in Tsitsikamma Park is the 800 year old Yellowwood tree called "Big Tree", with its 8.5 meters diameter and 27 meters height a gigantic masterpiece of nature.

Among the most popular coastal towns on the Garden Route are Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. They offer everything that makes a vacationer's heart beat faster. Wide sandy beaches, markets for traditional handicrafts, cozy restaurants and winding coastal paths for idyllic beach walks.

Shortly before our destination Mossel Bay, we allow ourselves a detour to the Winelands around Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. The fine wines from these two traditional wineries are known far beyond the country's borders. But the smaller wineries also offer tastings and accompany their wines with exquisite food. For those who want to linger, there is a huge selection of romantic hideaways surrounded by vineyards and lavender fields.


Glamping among elephants and baobab trees

After so many impressions, we long for some time off beyond the bustling cities and streets. We want to experience South Africa up close and personal and still feel pampered all around. Glamping offers us this unique opportunity to be incomparably close to nature while enjoying it in style. Safari lodges in Africa pioneered the phenomenon of glamping, which masterfully combines camping with luxury and glamour.

A wonderful example of this is Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge in the Madikwe Nature Reserve in the northwest of the country. An oasis of tranquility where elephants, rhinos, giraffes, lions and other predators can be seen. If you wish, you can spend a romantic night under the starry sky of South Africa and indulge in a delicious breakfast.

In the south lies another insider tip among safari enthusiasts. The Gorah Elephant Camp in Addo National Park is located outside of Port Elizabeth and can be ideally combined with the Garden Route. The camp is not far from a small watering hole where elephants and lions indulge in their water games regardless of their two-legged spectators. Experienced guides lead visitors by jeep or on foot even closer to the wildlife and make every safari an unforgettable experience.

Speaking of luxury and glamour, the Pack Easy Swiss Made Weekender is a stylish, faithful companion, for the road trip or even in the steppes of Africa.



Cape Town - city of contrasts

Among the largest cities in South Africa are Johannesburg and Cape Town, but which one is the capital? That is a question that is not so easy to answer. The seat of government is in Pretoria, the court is in Bloemfontein and the parliament is in Cape Town. Consequently, South Africa has not one but three capitals vying for prominence and visitors. But the most popular city and one of the most beautiful in the world remains Cape Town. Here, between the Atlantic Ocean and Table Mountain, breathtaking landscapes, historic sites, delicious treats, fine wines and unforgettable adventures collide.

Strolling through the center of Cape Town, you'll pass Victorian townhouses, modern skyscrapers, hip cafes and street markets. And every now and then, a monument, a street or building name reminds you of Nelson Mandela. The freedom fighter was imprisoned on Robben Island for many years. Today, the former prison island is on UNESCO's World Heritage List, and Mandela's fight against oppression and social injustice is considered a trailblazer for the peaceful end of apartheid. Those who want to delve deeper into the dark history of apartheid can let themselves be initiated into the island's dark secrets on a guided tour of the former prison.

A nice contrast to the dark past is a stroll through the Bo-Kaap district. With its brightly painted houses, the historic district immediately spreads good cheer. The bustling Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is also a lively place. Between stores and restaurants, street artists present their skills, sailing yachts, excursion and fishing boats sail in and out of the harbor, and in between, people of all backgrounds bustle about. The MOCAA Museum, called 'Zeitz MOCAA', is also located there. A visit to Africa's largest and most spectacular museum of contemporary art is a must for architecture lovers. For those interested in the imposing building and the African art on display inside, it's best to stretch out your stay a bit. The fabulous Silo Hotel is located directly above the museum, the rooftop bar offers the best sundowner drinks with an incredible panorama over Cape Town.


Afrikanische Kultur

Masks, sculptures or jewelry made of wood and stones are popular collectibles among art lovers and tourists. If you want to buy really authentic and African-made art, you have to take a closer look especially at flea markets and street stalls, because mass-produced goods from China are often offered here. High-quality African handicrafts, on the other hand, can be found at the Craft Market on the Waterfront, a real highlight for collectors and art lovers.

Cape Town also has a lot to offer in the way of culinary delights. Kloof Street is one of the hottest nightlife areas with beautiful Victorian buildings and charming street cafés. We are particularly fond of the Kloof Street House, the stately building enchants with Victorian decor, fresh and beautifully served food, colorful cocktails and live jazz music. Visitors feel like they're in a fairy tale at Bar Asoka, where you can feast comfortably on colorful cushions under fairy lights. South African cuisine is varied, contains lots of meat and vegetables, and is influenced by Indian and Asian flavors.

What could be better than starting the day with a hearty breakfast? For the best coffee and the most delicious cupcakes in town, locals and visitors alike make a pilgrimage to Camps Bay. At the beautiful Café La Belle, you sit on a small hill with a fabulous view over the sea.




Treacherous cliffs and flying Dutchmen

Freshly fortified, we set off for the last highlight of our trip. The Cape of Good Hope is a legendary place, many sailors are said to have disappeared here, many ships capsized on the treacherous cliffs. The most famous is probably the legendary ghost ship "Flying Dutchman", whose Dutch captain swore to sail around the Cape of Good Hope even in stormy weather and otherwise to sail on until doomsday. He failed, and since then has been a legend. More than 3000 shipwrecks are said to lie on the seabed here, and those who dare to walk the Shipwreck Trail through the rough rocks can even spot one or the other wreck that has run aground.

The Cape is often referred to as the southernmost point in Africa, but this honor belongs to Cape Alguhas, which lies a little further east and is not only the southernmost point, but is also considered in many places to be the official dividing line between the Indian and Atlantic Oceans.

The Cape of Good Hope is also known as the "End of the World" and we can't imagine a more fitting and beautiful place for the end of our journey south. We have seen, learned and experienced a lot. We adapted our route to the unusual year of travel, looked for retreats, put on the mask and listened to the reports of our migratory bird. Virtual, mental or soon real again, traveling is and remains an enrichment for all of us, which we will continue in the best possible way next year.


Safe on the road with the FeelSafe mask set from Pack Easy