South Africa has a lot of beauty, and one big way locals like to experience their country is by caravanning. Similar to travel trailers in the USA, but much smaller in general and most have a popup top. Another difference is that South African caravans have full tents that deploy from the side, expanding the usable “interior” space.
When we came to SA we had a vision of buying a small caravan and traveling the whole country. A few months into our stay we found a 1997 Jurgens Expo that suited our needs. We wanted an older caravan to keep the cost lower and to renovate the interior for a more at-home feel – since we would be pretty much living out of it while traveling.
Once completing our renovations, we took a weeklong trip to St. Lucia on the Eastern Coast of Africa as our first run. This was a great experience as first time SA caravaners and helped us get an idea of what to expect.
After that we started planning and budgeting for our big journey around South Africa. When working on the budget, we started to see that financially, it might get a little tight if we do the trip how we envision with our current income from the food blog. Full-time caravanning can, in some ways, be more expensive than living stationary. Our blog supports us and is continually on the uprise, so we got a wild idea to hold off just a little longer. Our new thoughts were to explore South East Asia for a while where the cost of living is much lower.
Needed A New Plan (…And More Time)
We settled on Vietnam, booked our tickets, and were eating Pho on the street side of Danang within weeks. (More on that journey here). We ended up spending about 2 months in Vietnam before heading back to SA. Our stay would have been longer but Shay fell pregnant, so we were now expecting BABY NUMBER 2! South Africa was no doubt a better choice while going through the pregnancy and bringing a new baby into the world.
Fast forward to our new baby Ben being over 6 months old, we were ready to start planning our trip again. All of our ducks were in a row and we restarted our journey mid September 2019.
The Start Of Our Journey
Naturally, being so close to the Kruger National park, that was our first stop for a few days. We had a spot inside the park at a designated satellite camp. Most of our mornings and evenings were spent on self-guided game drives. We had a lot of success spotting wildlife, including giraffes, zebras, monkeys/baboons, wild dogs, hyenas, elephants, rhinos, various bok, wildebeest, buffalo, and more. I’ve been told it’s not that common to get so lucky seeing such variety, so we were very fortunate.
From the Kruger, we started working our way through KZN towards the Drakensburg Mountains – where we spent a few weeks between a few different camps and resorts. This mountain range is a very iconic part of South Africa and it didn’t disappoint. Stunning jagged peaks and amazing scenery surrounded us as we explored the area.
After our time in the mountains, we headed east. Nestled in-between the peaks and the coast was a region named the Midlands Meander. Here we spend another couple of weeks exploring. There was a main road that flowed over and around the rolling hills and forests with a plethora of unique shops, restaurants, and activities along the way. Cool fun fact, this area was also where Nelson Mandela was captured back in 1962.
We’d had a really great time so far with all of the new experiences, but we were itchin’ to make it to the coast by this time. And lucky for us, we were just over an hour away at that point.
Ballito was the beach town we planted our feet in, and we booked the stay for 2 weeks. Going from the mountainous climate to the tropics was a big change. The heat and humidity hit us hard followed by lots of rain. We had to adapt to the change but it didn’t stop us from enjoying sunset walks by the sea, sand in the toes, and chillin like beach bums.
The holidays were creeping up close by this time, which also meant camping and resort prices go sky-high. We had been getting such amazing deals on our extended stays that we couldn’t imagine paying the prices vacationers were about to pay. Plus, we wanted to take a small break to be with family for Christmas and New Years.
We took our caravan an hour north to Richards Bay for a couple of nights before leaving it there and driving back for the month of December.
To Be Continued…
That was the end of our first 3 months of full-time caravanning. Living in such a small space while traveling the country really was an adventure. At times, it got cramped. At times, we wanted to strangle our kids. But overall, it was a memorable and joyous time we spent together.
Our original plan was to go back the beginning of 2020 and continue down the coast to Cape Town. But our plans changed, again.
There were a few things we wanted to change before continuing our SA road trip – like selling and buying a bigger caravan. Also, we would opt for an AC for those hot days, and a full tent for more room (we only had a roof cover for the outside area). We spent 3 months traveling just a small portion of SA, and these changes felt necessary if we wanted to continue through the whole country.
At of the time of this post, our plan is to make an extended visit to the United States, buying a larger 5th wheel camper, and spend time traveling there. This will be our home on wheels while in America and we are very excited for this new journey.
When we get back to SA, we might continue the trip we started, or we might change it up. Who knows! The choice is ours. Only time will tell how the future unfolds. We are fortunate to be location independent. New ideas and adventures always accumulate in our minds and we take it as it comes.
Thanks for following our journey, stay tuned for the next chapter in our life.