Back in January, we returned to one of my favorite little parks for a weekend getaway. Marakele National Park is located in the Waterberg Mountains, north of Gauteng in the Limpopo Province. It is about a 2.5 hour drive from the Joburg northern suburbs, perfect for a quick weekend away in the bush. Strangely enough, it seems this park is relatively undiscovered by Joburgers as many of our friends and coworkers have never even heard of it. This is actually one of the pluses; I have never seen this park crowded so if you are looking to avoid the masses, come here.
One of the things that surprised me the most about Johannesburg was finding out there are many terrific nature reserves to visit, even within the city limits. I have already written about a few of them already: the Melville Koppies, Lonehill Nature Reserve and Norscot Koppies Nature Reserve. Whenever we need a quick nature fix close to home, we head to one of these. This past weekend we had the chance to discover another great little gem in the northern suburbs called Rietfontein Nature Reserve.
I cannot believe that 2015 is now done and dusted. Doesn’t it seem that the older we get, the faster time goes? I really try my hardest to slow down and live in the moment but still, time just keeps flying by. We have been here in South Africa for over 2 years now. The first year we were really in transition mode; getting settled in a new country, making new friends, and me, starting a new job. The biggest change back in 2014 was that the Frenchie became the “trailing spouse” as he was not allowed to work while on my visa. 2015 saw us get back to a bit of normalcy in our lives. Late in 2014 the Frenchie was able to secure his own work permit and left his trailing spouse role for a paid position in the South African work force. Our household roles were redistributed and I found myself slaving away in the kitchen much more often (haha, not really, but we have started eating out a lot more lately).
When I look back at 2015, it seems I have been away more than I have been home. I haven’t added up the time, but I am sure it is not all that far off. I traveled quite a bit for business and pleasure and at times, there would be luggage from more than one trip lying on the bedroom floor waiting to be unpacked. I started to go back and look through my photos to remind me just what I have been up to this year and I thought it might be fun to post a recap of where I have been month by month. Some trips I have already blogged about and others not as I sometimes just didn’t have the time. Let’s have a look.
The new year started off calmly enough. I didn’t have any trips outside of Joburg in January and that gave us a chance to spend some time in this fabulous city we are proud to call home. One of the reasons I love Joburg so much is due to its diversity. You can really find just about anything here. Two of the things we did in January I think illustrate this quite nicely: a visit to the Norscot Koppies Nature Reserve (a lovely reserve right in Joburg that I wrote about here in 2014) and a walk through Cyrildene, the new Chinatown of Joburg (you can see more photos from our first visit here).
This trip to Norscot was specifically to photograph this baby blesbok, isn’t he sweet?
This past November, I spent 10 days in the Kruger National Park solo (in case you missed my first post last week about the trip, you can read it here). November is a great month to go to the Kruger. First off, since it is just before the busy holiday season, it is a lot less crowded. Temperatures are starting to heat up, but the good news is that starting in November, the camp gates open at 4:30 am and close at 6:30 pm. You can beat the heat by getting out early and head back to camp once it heats up around 10 or so for a break (or if you don’t mind the heat, you may just stay out all day until gate close like I usually do!). But the best thing about this time of year is that Kruger is filled with all sorts of adorable babies. The park explodes with cuteness and I want to share some of my favorite baby photos with you today.
A few weeks ago I was lucky to spend an amazing 10 days travelling solo through the Kruger National Park. You may remember I took my first solo trip earlier in the year and wrote about it here, and here and here. The Frenchie was unable to get any time off of work and since I had such a great trip the last time, it was an easy decision for me to return. I have a lot of stories I hope to tell, but I want to start off with one of the most amazing safari experiences of all time for me.
It all started with a before dawn departure from Lower Sabie Rest Camp. I was slowly making my way over to Mlondozi Dam via some gravel roads when I spotted another vehicle stopped just ahead. A spark of anticipation mounted as I carefully approached the other car, not wanting to scare off whatever it was they were observing. As soon as I arrived, they pulled out and continued on their journey. I found myself parked just in front of a large tree and when I looked up I saw this: