Starting the new year with a roadtrip from Johannesburg to Clarens


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Africa » South Africa » Free State » Clarens
January 1st 2019
Published: January 24th 2019
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When we got on the plane in London the 31 of december we were really surprised how packed it was. Never before did we fly into the new year and we always had the idea that flights are empty at that date. How wrong we were. The A380 which brought us to Johannesburg was full, full, full. Not being big fans of huge airplanes and far too many people on a little space we had no other chance than keep going with the situation. The flight was pleasant enough, but we could really not sleep with non stop noise and little space throughout the night. We were really happy when we finally landed in Johannesburg. And here the next surprise: it was pouring down like crazy! Never ever have we experienced such a rainfall in South Africa.

Customs was a quick and easy affair, our luggage arrived safely, we got some cash from the ATM (despite the warnings not to use the ATMs at the airport due to safety issues - but this one was before the arrival zone, so it was safe). For the first time we had reserved a car directly at the airport in Joburg. Also here, people were superfriendly, everything was smooth and quick and there we went - on the road again in Africa after more than 9 years! We were dogtired but we could not get this superhappy, stupid grin out of our faces. What a start into the new year! A roadtrip from Johannesburg to Clarens. And without sleeping a single minute at night.

I was a bit tough to read the roadsigns in Joburg because of the heavy rains and the storm. Anyway, we somehow managed to find our way and were on the freeway south-east-bound. After passing Heidelberg, the heavy rains got lighter and we could see the every changing landscape. There was only little traffic - it was still in the morning, so people were probably recovering from the new years celebrations. After 2 hours we reached our first destination: the roadsidestop of Thanda Tau. This is not just a gas station onalong the freeway where you can get some snacks and coffee. No. Of course there is a gas station, but there is also a coffee shop, a restaurant, an little supermarket, a brewery, a hotel, a craft shop and....... wild animals in a rescue camp! We treated us with a much needed coffee and some rooiboshtea before we walked out with a ranger to visit the animals. It was kind of a surreal feeling. 2 hours ago we just landed in Joburg and now we are in front of wild animals in Africa. First we met a pack of lions lazily hanging around. Then we came across emus, a turtoise, porcupines, an african wild cat, hyenas and panthers. The highlight was the kuddle with the rhino named Bundu and the visit to white lions - the first white lions we have ever seen. What a start into our trip in Africa and well worth the little detour on our way to Clarens in the Free State.

The weather had cleared up, but it was still windy and pretty chilly with only 16 degrees C. Hey, we thought this is summer in South Africa! But by driving further on towards the Drakensberg it got more and more sunny and the temperature rose little by little. In Bethlehem we looked for an open supermarket (and were lucky to find a pick'n'pay on that day) and stocked up for the next days. 40 minutes later we reached Clarens, a real
landscape around Bethlehemlandscape around Bethlehemlandscape around Bethlehem

on the way into the Drakensberg
littel gems in the Maluti Mountains close by the Golden Gate National Parc.

We got a really warm welcome at our home for the next few days, the Gnome Cottage which is a cute little 1-bedroom cottage with a huge garden, a full equipped kitchen and nice seating area. Small, cosy and peaceful. The perfect place to wind down. It was too chilly on our first evening to enjoy the garden, so we stayed inside, cooked some nice food, had a tea and a very early sleep. What a start into our trip to South Africa and overall, what a start into the New Year 2019!





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25th January 2019

New Adventure
Did you like the rooibos tea? I started drinking it last year and I really love it - would love to try it in it's home country. I'm excited about your new trip, and look forward to following your adventures :)
25th January 2019

Rooibos Tea
Oh, the Rooibos tea is a funny story. This trip is my 3rd trip to South Africa. I loved the tea already on my first trip and always took a big package back home. At home, for whatever reason (different water, different feeling, different milk) I do no appreciate it as much. It is ok, but we just drink it randomly. But in South Africa, we always have liter of it per day. They make a red cappucino out of it there. Nice milk foam and strong rooibos tea. It is amazing and there are often even vegan options! Would say, you have to try it in the home coutnry one day ;-).
25th January 2019
Bundu - the rhino

One of our favorite animals
We really love rhinos. How great that you could actually pet it. We too would like to try that. /Ake
25th January 2019
Bundu - the rhino

rhino
Yah, it was an amazing kuddle. The have a very intersting skin, hard, raw and somehow soft underneath. For food, "little" Bundu enjoyed the kuddle.
26th January 2019
african wild cat

What a beauty.
This is a Serval, one of the wild cats of Africa. However the African wild cat is a species more like a tawny domestic cat in appearance while the Serval is distinctive and like this pic...magnificent.
28th January 2019
african wild cat

serval
this is true! Thanks!
26th January 2019
emu

Get me outta here!
An Australian emu in an African Game park...what'd the African ostriches think???
28th January 2019
emu

Emu
The austriches prefer the wild ;-). No, we have seen quite some emus around South Afrca, also 10 years ago during our last visit. Seems they are fine together as I have oberserved that they sometimes even share the same space.
9th February 2019

South Africa
Yay! Great to see you travelling again 😊 What a fantastic start indeed to your trip, and also the New Year! I look forward to reading more.
9th February 2019

Happy
Oh yes, it feels wonderful to travel again.

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