South Africa is My Favorite Place in the World
Our trip to South Africa was by far my most favorite trip I have ever taken. South Africa has so much to offer from beautiful beaches, mountain views, and mind blowing wildlife. While it was the adventure of a life time, there was also many challenges I faced flying to the other side of the world with diabetes. I am going to share my experience with you along with some helpful travel and health tips.
We left Atlanta, Georgia for the first 9 hour flight to Amsterdam where we would then board an 11 hour flight to Cape Town, South Africa. I had never been on this long of a flight before and I was a bit nervous just knowing that if I had a crazy bad blood sugar, it would be a very long time before I could get off the plane. I was also a bit nervous knowing that I was going to the other side of the world to a country I was not 100% sure even where to get insulin and diabetes supply if something were to happen to my supplies. I packed plenty of glucose tabs, multiple sugar checkers, 3 bottles of humalog, 2 bottles of lantus, and 4 packs of needles. I packed these in different places in our luggage just incase something were to happen to a certain bag or vile of insulin. The long flights ended up being pretty smooth and there was always juice pr soda available if I got low. We finally arrived in Cape Town late that night and drove to the most amazing AirBnB in Camps Bay.
The next morning we slept in due to jet lag and being completely exhausted. Once we finally got the wheels turning, We decided we were going to cease the day and take on the 2 famous hikes in Cape Town, Table Mountain and Lion’s Head. Cape Town is known for it’s very foggy weather and there are clouds constantly moving in at anytime of the day. It is important to do these hikes on sunny days with clear skies because it can be dangerous when the fog rolls in. It was a beautiful day so we first decided to visit the famous Table Mountain that overlooks Cape Town. It is a tall mountain that resembles a table at a the top. You can either hike up the mountain or take the cable car. We decided to take the cable car for the experience. There are some amazing views at the top, and it’s worth spending some time strolling around and soaking up the views.
After we finished at Table Mountain, we decided we would take on Lion’s Head Mountain. There was only one option to get to the top of this mountain, and that was to hike. Lion’s Head was a pretty intense hike with a lot of rocks to climb. There are no guard rails so you definitely do not want to make this hike in the fog. It took us over an hour to hike to the top, and I had to stay on top of my sugars the entire way. I stopped a couple times to check my sugar, and knew I would probably eventually have lows due to all the physical activity. I took a gatorade with me and glucose tabs to help me when I got low. We had a heck of a time visiting both of these mountains. These are must do’s while in Cape Town!
The third day was one of our favorites! We rented a car and drove about 1 hour to Boulder’s Beach and the Cape of Good Hope. Boulder’s Beach is the famous beach where penguins live. This was very strange to see because most people think that penguins only live in cold climates. Boulder’s Beach is home to a penguin sanctuary where the community works to keep the penguins safe but allows guest to learn and get close to the penguins. After visiting Boulder’s Beach we drove a bit further to The Cape of Good Hope. I knew that we were going to have to hike for a little bit at the next location so I decided it would be smart to go ahead and get some sugar in me. We grabbed an ice cream cone near the penguin sanctuary before we left. This is one of the most famous places in the world. It is the southern most tip of Africa and is where the Indian Ocean means the Atlantic Ocean. We arrived at the park at sunset, but we were determined to park and make the 30 minute hike down to the point. There was a family of baboons wondering around the parking lot when we arrived! They were climbing on cars and looking for food. It was quite hilarious and the babies were cute! After the coast was clear, we basically had to run on the trail to get down to the point before dark. That hike was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. We were basically the only 2 people that were still dumb enough to walk down there at dark so it felt like we were standing on the edge of the world all alone. The beautiful blue ocean was roaring out in front of us, and in the distance you could see a family of whales breeching. There were ostriches and baboons along the whole hike. I have never experienced something so beautiful and mind blowing in my life as the sunset we saw that night.
South Africa is known as the Great White capital of the world, and I had been dying to go cage diving with these incredible creatures. After much convincing, my wife finally agreed to go and we were off to Hermanus. This was a town about a 3 hour drive from Cape Town, this is where all the shark tours are located. We knew it was going to be a long day and we would be on a boat for the majority of the day. We faced the challenge of how we were going to keep my supplies safe and dry. I packed a bag full of my supplies and then packed it inside of another bag incase it got wet. I had no problems with my supplies getting wet, despite the crazy boat ride into the shark nest. We anchored the boat right in the middle of shark ally ( famous, always on shark week ) We were there for the next 4 hours as group after group took turns entering the cage and diving down under the water to get a good look at these enormous creatures. It was an experience that I will never forget. The gigantic sharks would swim by the cage as the tour guides through chum out into the water. If you are a thrill seeker this experience should definitely be on your to do list! Just make sure you pack an extra pair of shorts.
After an eventful first few days, it was time to catch another flight to Kruger Park! Kruger Park is a very famous place home to the safari land. We were headed to Kapama Game Reserve. This place was incredible and we definitely recommend it! We were able to see all of the Big 5 on our safaris except for the Leopard, which is the most difficult to spot. Kappa offers 4 different lodges to stay at, we stayed at the River Lodge and Southern Camp locations. The River Lodge was much bigger and where most people stayed, but Southern Camp was more private and had a different vibe so it was cool to experience both. We enjoyed the River Lodge best just because we like talking to all the different guests. You receive a phone call at 5AM each morning to start the day with a 2 1/2 hour game drive. Through out the day you are served all the food and drinks you could want, and you have free time to enjoy the pool, spa, ect. We go on a 2nd game drive before dinner. Going on a safari has always been a dream of mine and it completely surpassed my expectations. This is why we came all this way, to watch these incredible wild animals in their natural habitat. If the trip wasn’t already mind blowing, this just made it even more amazing. My blood sugars seemed to be fine on the game drives, and our tour guides carried juice if I needed sugar. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were served as a buffet style and the food was incredible. I really had to be careful not to go crazy, but they had a lot of healthy options so I was able to keep my sugars under control. I always started with a vegetable soup, chose a lean meat, and veggies as a side.
Kapama offers a handful of activities you can do in the middle of the day during your free time. There are hot air balloon rides, engaged species exhibit, spa day, and an elephant interactions. My wife’s favorite animal is an elephant so of course we signed up for the elephant interaction! Kapama has an incredible staff that is dedicated to rescuing elephants and brining them to Kapama to live in a safe environment where they can be taken care of. We got to meet and interact with 2 different elephants they had rescued. One was named Jabulani, and he stole our hearts. We had never been so close the gigantic animal and it was a bit intimidating. A guide talked about Jabulani’s life and how the rescued him. We were able to feed him, pet his ears, and take pictures with him. He was very gentle, and you could just feel how intelligent these animals are. The next elephant we got to meet was a younger male who was a bit more rumbustious, but adorable. He was more interested in the food in our hands then anything! Meeting these animals was such cool experience and we learned a lot about them.
The last 2 days at Kapama were filled with incredible experiences on our game drives and meeting people from all over the world. I was very lucky to be able to manage my blood sugars so well during this part of the trip, and I was glad that we chose to stay a place that could provide refrigerators for my insulin, food and drink as I needed, an incredible staff and a phone if anything were to have gone wrong. A lot of people will camp out in Kruger Park without any of these amenities, so I think it was smart that we chose to stay at a place like this.
It was time to leave Kruger Park and head to the next stop on our trip, Port Elizabeth. For the next 4 days we were going to drive the famous coast called the Garden Route. It was about a 6 hour drive on the south east coast of the country that took you back to Cape Town. There were so many places to stop along the way and we had 4 days left to see it all! After we landed in Port Elizabeth with got a rental car and drove to our first stop where we could stay for the first night called, Jefferson’s Bay. The traveling was starting to get to me and my sugars were awful this day. We had a long layover and ended up eating airport food several times and I think this definitely caused my sugars to rise. I didn’t feel I was in the best state to be driving so my wife drove as I tried to get my sugar to come back down. After a rocky day, we finally arrived at our Bed and Breakfast for the night. The next morning we watched the sunrise at the famous Jefferson Bay Beach, which is home to a huge pro surfing competition each year. It is a really cool surf town with surf shops and restaurants everywhere. Great place to stop for some pictures or to grab bite to eat!
The next day it was time to keep driving down the Garden Route until we arrived at Tsitsikamma National Park, which is another famous stop along the drive. This park has incredible views, hiking, a restaurant on the ocean, and a very famous suspension bridge called Storm’s Bridge. This was a beautiful drive into the park where we had lunch at a great spot on the water. After lunch we did the short hike along the coast to get to the famous Storm’s Bridge where we took some incredible pictures! This place was insanely beautiful, and we could have spent the whole day here if we had time. This is another must see on the route!
After we spent the afternoon at Tsitsukama, we started driving a bit further until we reached the ultimate stop, Bloukran’s Bridge Bungee Jump. The highest bungee jump in the world! This was a no brainer, I had to to do it! First, I had to make sure my sugar was good before I jumped off the world’s tallest bridge. After about an hour wait, my sugar was normal and it was my turn to to jump. It was absolutely terrifying and amazing at the same time! If you aren’t afraid of heights and love a good adrenaline rush this will definitely do it for you! After our hearts stopped racing, we kept driving to a very popular town called Knysna for the night.
After leaving we were headed to our next stop, Plettenburg Bay This was a larger town right on the ocean. We first found a bed and breakfast to stay at and then we had a list of places to see around the area that day. Audrey is a huge animal lover and there were 2 animal sanctuaries that we planned to go visit and they exceeded expectations. The first place we visited was called Tenikwa Cat Sanctuary. This is a rehab sanctuary for many different types of wild cat species. This incredible organization was started by a married couple who has a passion for rescuing and rehabilitating wild cats in South Africa. We signed up for the earliest tour and were the only 2 people there, which made our experience even better.
We had an incredible guide who walked us through the entire facility to meet all of the rescued animals. Most of these animals were used to human interaction because they had been rescued at such a young age. First, we met Chester and Duma who were 2 cheetahs who were rescued as cubs. As a part of out tour, we were going to get to walk Chester on a leash around the property. This was the most amazing thing I had ever done. It was a very intimidating experience, but also so rewarding. We were also allowed to pet Chester when our guide told us it was safe to do so. After Chester got his exercise, we toured the sanctuary and our guide allowed us to enter some of the other cat sanctuaries. This was the coolest experience we had had so far!! This is a must do on the Garen Route!
Our next stop was an elephant sanctuary near Plettenberg Bay. This was another amazing stop on our journey where we got to meet at least 8 different elephants, feed them, and learn more about elephants. These were all rescued elephants as well who were living out their lives in a safe environment where they are well taken care of.
Knysna is a very cool town known for the Knysna Heads, which is a famous landmark of two rocks that overlook the ocean right in the town. We grabbed a coffee and a hip coffee shop overlooking the Knysna Heads that morning and spent time taking pictures and exploring the town. After enjoying the afternoon, it was time to take it back to Cape Town. The final stretch was breathtaking with incredible views as we watched the sunset on our drive back to the city. Every single stop on the Garden Route was worth it!
It was time wake up and head to the airport to fly back home. South Africa was a trip of a lifetime and it holds a special place in our hearts. We would absolutely go back and visit again. I was able to manage my diabetes pretty well and packing multiples of all my supplies was definitely helpful. This trip is awesome!!