HomeFam TripsSouth Africa: A Bucket List Adventure

South Africa: A Bucket List Adventure

South Africa is one place that has always been on my bucket list. This year with the travel Indaba in Durban happening again, I had the opportunity to visit Durban and experience life in Zululand.

The flight from Heathrow to Johannesburg is eleven hours and we flew overnight which meant we could get some sleep and be ready to start the day when we landed in Durban.

On arrival into Durban, we went to Sala Beach, which is a new property opening in July. The building comprises of a small boutique style hotel with ten rooms, a spa and direct access to a beautiful beach. The team gave us a tour and prepared a gorgeous lunch for us.

We then headed off to Ghost Mountain Inn, our home for the next two nights. Ghost Mountain Inn is located on the Elephant Coast, in the heart of Zululand and borders Swaziland in the north west and Mozambique. After a welcome drink and an introduction to the staff, we went straight to the spa for a back, neck and shoulder massage. This was very relaxing after travelling.

The next morning, bright and early we went to visit the home of a Zulu named Justice. Justice welcomed us into his home and taught us about Zulu culture. This was a real treat as I love learning about different cultures. Justice told us about how the rooms on the land are split between the family and how they have big feasts with an infinite number of party guests. When a women marries, the father pays eleven cows to the family she’s marrying into. All sorts of animals are kept on their land including cows, chickens, dogs etc,  the children go to school and help in the farm/house in the afternoon and they grow all their own vegetables.

After lunch, we went on an open air ‘sundowners safari’ in Manyoni Game Reserve. I have never seen animals up close before, other than the zoo, so when we arrived and had to stop to let the elephants cross the road, I was very excited. I love that the animals are so chill when the jeeps are driving around, we saw some lions, elephants, buffalo, warthogs and antalopes.

After check out the next day we headed to Sodwana Bay for a riptide boat tour with Adventure Mania. We didn’t see any animals, but it was amazing to experience and learn about the sea life in the area.

St Lucia is one of South Africa’s world heritage sites and we stayed in the Elephant Lake Hotel for the next two nights. An interesting thing about this hotel is the hippos come up at night time to drink from the pool, at one stage the group were following the hippos down the street!

We started before sunrise the next morning heading to iSimangaliso Wetlands Park, for a sunrise safari and a breakfast picnic at the beach. This park was my favourite as the scenery was spectacular, we got to see some more animals and had a beach inside a park. The opportunity to swim was the cherry on top.

In the afternoon we took a boat cruise on St. Lucia Estuary seeing some hippos and crocodiles, and sat on the hill to watch the sun set. It was a beautiful experience to see a sunrise and sunset in the one day. We headed to a local bar that evening and did you know the gin is cheaper than a muffin from a coffee shop? I knew which I was picking!

The next day we travelled into Durban City for the Travel Indaba. This was an amazing event and I got to meet so many travel companies from around Africa and experience some of the local food including ‘bunny chou’ and even a sunrise swim. I also had the opportunity of visiting the Oyster Box, a Red Carnation Hotel for their curry buffet.

Thank you to the South African Tourist Board for inviting me and giving me my first opportunity to visit South Africa.

Allie Sheehan
Allie Sheehan
I have worked in the travel industry for seven years, from working in American Holidays and The Travel Corporation I have a wealth of knowledge of all aspects of travel. Before joining ITTN I worked for Facebook which gave me the inside knowledge of the wonderful world of social media. I have a BSc in Event Management and am also a qualified beauty therapist (which definitely comes in handy in this business). Recently I joined the AWTE Ireland committee and I am enjoying working with and connecting with the network of women in travel.

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