Mozambique

Our three day trip to Mozambique was very relaxing, even though it was short. The road trip there from Johannesburg took a while and there are a couple things you should be prepared for if you’re going to take a trip like this.

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When preparing for this kind of trip, pack everything you might need. Bring plenty of drinks and food, not just as snacks but also to eat at your destination.

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Plan your route well, along with possible places to stop for food. You should also plan the route so that you know what kind of a road you will be driving on, whether it’s a highway or dirt road. If you are going on a dirt road, be prepared for possible floods which will make the road muddy and sometimes impossible to take. So make sure you have a good car that would be able to take a difficult road.

 

The borders between South Africa and Mozambique can take some time and people there usually don’t speak a lot of English. So prepare your nerves when trying to get a visa. There’s also a lot of people trying to go between the two countries, so depending on the time of day, it might take several hours to go through.

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When we went to Mozambique we stayed in a little beach house, pretty much in the middle of nowhere. There is a small town close by and some more beach houses, but other than that the beaches are empty, which is absolutely amazing!

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If you scuba dive, definitely give it a go! I couldn’t go when I was there, but I heard you can see some manta rays! Apparently scuba diving is pretty easy going there, so it’s great if you want a relaxing dive. If you don’t scuba dive, you can just go fishing out on the sea. If you get lucky, you can catch tuna, and trust me, fresh tuna is the best! Small tip though, find out how to butcher a fish before you go! You might not have wifi wherever you are, so it’s probably a good idea to be prepared for things like that!

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For me, the three days in the middle of nowhere were amazing, even though it was a little short. So after three days we headed back, sunburnt. On our way back we spent 22 hours in the car, instead of the original 14, because of flooding and having to backtrack and go through Maputo, the capital city. Like I said, plan for everything, even cows blocking the road!


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Zimbabwe

South Africa Trips

 

Zimbabwe

In 2012 on my trip to South Africa, we decided to explore a little more, packed our bags and flew to Zambia and crossed over to Zimbabwe to see the Victoria Falls. This crazy short trip, only two days, a little north of South Africa was definitely worth it!

We stayed at the Lokuthula Lodge, which has one main building, but more importantly, there are little huts, which is what we stayed in. Heads up, these huts aren’t closed all the way, they have a wall that is open, that you can close just with a flap door. So make sure you close the mosquito net around your bed, so that at least your bed is bug free. For breakfast we went to the main building, where the restaurant overlooks a watering hole, so during breakfast you might see zebras, giraffes, and even elephants stop for a drink. Since the restaurant is also an open space, watch out for bugs. You might suddenly find you are sharing your glass of orange juice with a grasshopper the size of your hand. Yes this actually happened._DSC1116

Since we were in Zimbabwe for a very short time, we had lots of activities planned out. First, we went on a boat ride on the Zambezi river during sunset. I definitely recommend this, because it starts late in the afternoon, they take you around to see hippos and even point out birds and lizards on the bank of the river. Then, they serve you dinner as the sun starts setting over the river. It’s very peaceful way to spend the evening, just in the middle of the river enjoying the sunset, listening to the roar of the falls on the distance.

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The next day we had a very early morning. We got up when it was still dark for morning elephant rides. On our way there we saw the sunrise over the bush. Once we got to the park, we got breakfast as we waited for the trainers and the elephants. Though elephant rides are very controversial, the parks that offer these rides by the Victoria Falls, rescue orphaned elephants and train them through positive reinforcement. The guides talk about how important the positive reinforcements are, because elephants have a very long memory, so if they use any other methods, the elephants will remember and might attack even several years later. This positive reinforcement creates a bond between the elephant and trainer that found and rescued them. So taking this ride can actually be very educational. The ride takes you through the park and you might even get to see some zebras and impalas. This was definitely fun and I even learned new things about elephants, which is always great!

Next up was the helicopter ride over the Victoria Falls. This was absolutely phenomenal. So beautiful and great way to see the falls. You fly circles around, so you can literally take pictures from every angle!

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Lastly, we went to the Victoria Fall park/visitor center, where you walk along the opposite bank of the Victoria Falls so you can take lots of pictures. Although, quick tip, be careful, there is lots of water in the air from the falls, it feels like it’s constantly raining, so be careful with your camera so it doesn’t get ruined! But there are lots of photo opportunities as you walk along the park and even if you are too worried about ruining your camera, it’s a great place to just stop and enjoy the view!

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Last tip for Zimbabwe: have an idea of what you want to do! Especially if you are there for a short amount of time. Look around for deals and packages for different activities, it will be cheaper!

After so many activities, we packed up and left for Zambia, spent some time at the tiny Livingstone airport and headed back to Johannesburg. It was a great trip and I definitely recommend going to Zimbabwe. The falls are beautiful and you can do so much around them!


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South Africa Trips

Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix

 

South Africa Trips

South Africa is one of my favorite places I have traveled to! That is probably why I have been there six times. Although, that also has to do with the fact that I had family living there. With each visit I saw something new or even went to a new country! Here is what I did each time I was there:

First trip

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February 2010, my first trip to South Africa.  It was amazing and beautiful! We saw so many things in that one short week. We stayed in Johannesburg which became a headquarters of sorts, but we also went to the Kruger National Park  and Cape Town. 6 years later and I still can’t believe we managed it all.

Second trip

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My second trip to South Africa was in the summer of 2010. This trip was very similar to the first, because I went to all the same places, Kruger Park and Cape Town. I did get to experience a couple of new things though.

Here is a more detailed account of our trip to Cape Town!

Third Trip

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On this trip, we took advantage of being in Africa, and we decided to go to some new places. We always wanted to see the Victoria Falls, so we headed up to Zimbabwe and Zambia, details of that trip to come :)! It was a great adventure, including lots of dead insects in our open hotel room, elephant rides, helicopter rides and sunsets over the river. Back in South Africa we went to some museums and Soweto!

Fourth Trip

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This trip was very different from the ones before. In 2012 I went to South Africa with my friends and we tried to make a difference. For the first time, we got to see the real Africa, the small villages, the citizens of which have nothing. The schools in tents and the students that walk four hours to get to those schools, but they are so dedicated, they don’t mind. It was a very different Africa. It was the poor side. The empty side. The type of place where you could drive for hours without meeting anyone at all.

Fifth trip

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On my fifth trip to South Africa, I spent barely any time in Johannesburg and in South Africa in general. Mostly we were in Mozambique, again the details of which will come later! We spent a large portion of the week in the car, but the three days in Mozambique were so worth it! We were in the middle of nowhere and that was perfect. For three days we were separated from the world, completely off the grid. It was the best way to de-stress from school and work. It reminded me how great it is to get away from everything sometimes.

Sixth and last trip

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The last time I went to South Africa was, yet again, a more relaxing trip. We didn’t feel like we needed to go to new countries or cities, we just needed to relax and warm up, especially in the midst of the worst, record-breaking winter in Boston.

South Africa is an amazing place to visit! I recommend it to anyone. Some people are afraid to go there, because it is not safe. You have to be careful in South Africa, there are definitely times when you feel uncomfortable and you do get worried. You have to use common sense, don’t go to places where you don’t feel safe. South Africa is beautiful and it is definitely worth visiting! I have been there six times and I would still go back and there would still be hundreds of things for me to see!

For more photos visit our photo gallery here!


South Africa: Sixth and last trip

The last time I went to South Africa was, yet again, a more relaxing trip. We didn’t feel like we needed to go to new countries or cities, we just needed to relax and warm up, especially in the midst of the worst, record-breaking winter in Boston.

This trip we focused on good food and some local museums, but mostly food. We went to some great restaurants and we even went to a bar one night. I definitely did not mind spending my last trip to Johannesburg soaking up the sun, drinking wine and eating delicious food!

DSC_9189   Since we were in Africa, we did go on a shorter safari to Pilanesberg again. It wouldn’t be a trip to Africa without visiting at least one national park. We had a slight adrenaline rush when we stopped by a really nervous rhino. It wouldn’t take its eyes off of us and when we tried to leave, the rhino looked like it was going to run at us. The situation didn’t improve when another car zoomed by, making the rhino feel even more threatened. We took our time and left slowly. So, just a tip for you guys, be careful when driving through a park, these animals can be nervous and territorial. Don’t drive too fast and don’t do anything that might anger the animals, they are strong and some are much bigger than you are. Other than that, enjoy and keep your eyes out, the animals might be just a couple of meters away from you, hiding in the bush.DSC_9519

On the occasion of visiting Pilanesberg we also went to Sun City, which we have never been to before. This is truly something I have never seen before. It was a huge resort that offers all sorts of activities. Literally you can do anything from ziplining to elephant rides. There you can also walk through a maze that lets you out at a bar, now there is motivation to get through! At the beginning of the maze you could either go left or right. There were four of us, so naturally we broke off and decided to race. Sadly, Alena and I lost.

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At Sun City we also went to an African dance performance as well as a “get to know” African tribe huts. There we saw how different tribes dress, how they live and what some of their traditions are. We even got to try on some of the traditional clothes and we were kind of forced to try to dance. Our “teacher” also tried to teach us some phrases from the different languages, but he was quite unsuccessful.

We ended the trip with the traditional trip to the Lion Park and cuddled with some cubs, fed a giraffe and even tried running away from some vicious looking ostriches, exactly the way a trip to the Lion Park should be. Just keep in mind, when going through the different enclosures for the lions, don’t lean out of the car! Those lions are sneaky and they might appear right behind you, without you even noticing.DSC_9827

South Africa is an amazing place to visit! I recommend it to anyone. Some people are afraid to go there, because it is not safe. You have to be careful in South Africa, there are definitely times when you feel uncomfortable and you do get worried. You have to use common sense, don’t go to places where you don’t feel safe. South Africa is beautiful and it is definitely worth visiting! I have been there six times and I would still go back and there would still be hundreds of things for me to see!


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South Africa Part 1

South Africa Part 2

South Africa Part 5

DSC_1815On my fifth trip to South Africa, I spent barely any time in Johannesburg and in South Africa in general. Mostly we were in Mozambique, again the details of which will come later! We spent a large portion of the week in the car, but the three days in Mozambique were so worth it! We were in the middle of nowhere and that was perfect. For three days we were separated from the world, completely off the grid. It was the best way to de-stress from school and work. It reminded me how great it is to get away from everything sometimes.

If you are renting a car, which you need to, rent a big and durable car. You don’t know what kind of roads you will take and you don’t want to get stuck somewhere!

It is important to mention, again, that for a trip across South Africa, planning is very important. You should know where you are going, because getting lost a) is not fun and b) isn’t really safe. You never know where you can accidentally end up, so planning well is just safer in general. Another tip, plan a backup route. Even though the backup route is more important for Mozambique, you never know what roads might be flooded or closed or if a cows will block your path. Bring your GPS, but don’t rely on it too much. It is always better to actually know where you are going and some roads don’t even show up as actual roads on a GPS.

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Also, when crossing borders, plan for spending a lot of time and prepare your nerves for complicated discussions with the border control if you are getting tourist visa into Mozambique. Be prepared for the fact that they either barely speak any english or they don’t speak it at all.

When we got back to South Africa, we were so exhausted from our relaxing trip to Mozambique, to the point where none of us actually wanted to do anything. The last couple of days we spent relaxing. The only new place we visited was Sandton City Shopping Centre, which is a huge mall, great for clothes, shoes, jewelry and they have great places for brunch!


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South Africa Part 1

South Africa Part 2

South Africa Part 3

South Africa Part 4