South Africa, travel

{Kynsa Elephant Park}

Let’s talk about elephants. Prior to our trip to South Africa I really didn’t know much about them, but after a trip to the Knysna Elephant park I learned a lot about these gorgeous creatures. They’re extremely smart and have the self-awareness and cognition similar to what we’ve seen in apes and dolphins. They are quick learners and will glady show off some tricks for a piece of fruit. They love attention and cuddles. Really, they’re friendly giants. Within their packs they truly care for one another, and if something happens to an elephant in the pack, their loss is visibly mourned. I truly fell in love with them the more I learned about them. They are so fascinating and sweet! 

After our stay in Franschhoek we ventured along the Garden Route. One of the cities we stopped in was Knysna. We had read about the Knysna Elephant Park in our guide book and knew we definitely wanted to check it out and get the opportunity to pet and feed the elephants! The Elephant Park is actually an orphanage for elephants in need – who have either been abandoned, fallen ill, etc. My favorite part about the park is that they practice a “free-range controlled system of management” – which basically means the elephants range freely and they only interact with guests on their terms. We definitely saw this as they were not herded over to us by any means. We simple drove up into the park and waited to see what would happen. Luckily, they know we come with food, so they love to come get treats and get attention from the visitors! It was one of my most favorite travel experiences to date to interact so closely with these beautiful animals! I’d highly recommend it if you’re ever in South Africa.

{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}
dreamy, South Africa, travel, wine

{South Africa Day Seven}

Two days in a row! Look at me! hehehe

So, back to the South Africa posts… Our seventh day in South Arica was a fun one! We started our morning with coffee from Deluxe Coffeeworks. If you’re into good coffee (we’re Portlanders, so you know we are…) then you must stop here if you’re ever in Franschhoek. We strolled the adorable downtown (which is basically just one long street) and then headed out for a day of wine tasting. We visited La Motte, Tokara (this one ended up being our favorite), Thelema and La Petite Ferme. There are obviously so many wineries to visit and there were many on our list that we missed, but we loved all the places we went – great wine and amazing views. Couldn’t complain!
 {Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}
dining al fresco, dreamy, restaurant, South Africa, travel, wine

{South Africa: Days Five & Six}

Hello, hello! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Well, the good news is I wasn’t eaten by a lion 🙂
We got back from our safari 8 days ago. I can’t believe we’ve already been back so long.

I want to continue on with a couple short posts giving a general overview of each day of our stay in SA, then I’ll do some more detailed posts on where we stayed, our itinerary, restaurant suggestions, the whole deal. I’ve already gotten several requests for a detailed itinerary to follow, so I will definitely be working on that!!

On our fifth day in Cape Town we finally got to take things a little slower. We slept in a bit and then made our way up to Table Mountain. We booked our tickets on the gondola ahead of time as we’ve heard the lines can get pretty long. Luckily there weren’t any lines at all! Cape Town is just full of amazing views. We didn’t think we’d be up at the top of the mountain long, but of course we ended up taking our time walking around and enjoying the scenery. It was a warm and beautiful day! 

Later that day we ventured over to Camp’s Bay – the more “posh” beachside area in Cape Town. We strolled along the beach as we got lost trying to find our restaurant and wished we would have come down earlier and spent the day soaking up the sun (took note for next time!). We ended up getting appetizers and cocktails and watching the sunset at The Bungalow. I must admit, while it was a nice experience, it wasn’t really our scene. One of our friends had told us it was very “South of France”, but I would have gone further to say it was more Miami. I felt a little out of place, but it wasn’t anything a couple drinks couldn’t fix 🙂 We ended up seeing a beautiful sunset and having tons of fun. 

On our sixth day in Cape Town we checked out of our amazing hotel (can’t wait to tell you more about it!), and drove an hour outside of the city to wine country! We didn’t even make time to drop our bags at our guest house as we had lunch reservations we could not be late for! Going into this trip we actually had a lot of recommendations. A meal at Maison was at the top of our friend’s list, so we booked weeks in advance to make sure we wouldn’t miss out. The second we stepped in we understood why they had said it was their favorite meal of their entire trip. Everything was flawless. The decor, the service, the food, the wine, the grounds. My my my. We ended up spending a good 3+ hours there just making ourselves at home and contemplating never leaving (maybe they wouldn’t find us if we hid in their awesome bathrooms?). It was an afternoon to remember. There will definitely be more to come on this place! 

After checking into our cute little guest house in Franschhoek we made our way to Dieu Donne Vineyards to enjoy the view (and a glass of wine of course). I wish my camera could have captured the insane beauty of the landscape. It literally took my breath away. We were so excited to be in wine country and couldn’t wait for a full day of tasting the following day! 
 {Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}
South Africa, travel

{Quick Update}

Oops! Well, I made it for four days of travel updates and then we lost our wifi connection for a couple days and it’s been a whirlwind since then!
Just wanted to check in before we fly up to Kruger National Park for our safari tomorrow, where I’m fairly certain we won’t have wifi access (how will I ever survive?! joking. kind of.).
If you’re missing me like crazy, you can always check out my Instagram, where I’ve been keeping up on posting. We even took Bri’s advice and created a hashtag for our trip photos (#DenfeldsinSA). You can check those out here!
Thanks for all your great comments on the South Africa posts so far. It’s a truly incredible country and we are having the time of our lives!
Excited to post more photos soon, but those will have to wait until we return to Amsterdam! 
Hope everyone has a happy Easter weekend!
{Photo taken at the Knysna Elephant Park}
South Africa, travel

{South Africa Day Four}

Our fourth day in Cape Town was adventure-filled!
We started the day with a drive to Simon’s Town to see the penguins on the beach. 
Did you know you could see hundreds of penguins on a beach in South Africa? Incredible! If you go to Boulder’s Beach you can actually stroll in the sand and get right up close to them – as in, inches away! 
The penguins are just the sweetest things and they didn’t seem to mind the people around. There are very strict rules that you don’t touch them or torment them in any way, so they seemed super happy to just be lounging in the sun. 
I really wanted to take one home, but apparently that’s really against the rules. Too bad.
After Simon’s Town we drove down the coast a little bit to Kalk Bay. It’s a tiny little beach town with not much to it, but our hotel recommended the Harbour House for lunch. We dined on another giant platter of sushi and took in a gorgeous view. 
We barely had time to catch our breath before we went back to the hotel and changed into hiking clothes. We had heard that a sunset hike up Lion’s Head was a must, but we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into! This isn’t like the hikes we know and love at home. There were several times we were convinced the hike was over because we couldn’t see a trail. Well, that’s because you had to climb rocks and basically scale the mountain to get to the top. It was intense.
But as you can see, the view at the top was totally worth it.
Quick story on that photo of me standing on the rock with the city below. Corey really didn’t want me to get on that rock. But I couldn’t resist the amazing photo opportunity. So after 10 minutes of back-and-forth (me insisting it would be fine, Corey insisting I stay right where I was), I got on the rock 🙂 I’d say the photo was worth the risk, right?
We ended this long, fun and exhausting day with an awesome casual dinner at the Royale Eatery (they specialize in burgers and Corey said his rivaled any burger he’d ever had in the States. Score!). Oh, and they also specialize in milkshakes. We shared an out-of-this-world banana and peanut butter milkshake. Hey, I had just scaled a mountain, I deserved it!
 {Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}
South Africa, travel

{South Africa Day Three}

On our third day in Cape Town we woke up bright and early for our tour to Robben Island. We’d heard from many people that we should book this tour in advance, so we always knew Tuesday would be Robben Island day. As you can imagine it was fascinating and powerful. We learned so much and all of our guides were spectacular. If you’re ever in Cape Town I highly recommend you do this!

After our tour we ate sushi for lunch at Willoughby’s. It’s this sort of strange restaurant in the indoor mall at the V&A Waterfront. Not the kind of place I would’ve picked if I was just strolling by, but we got it as a recommendation from an instagramer so we went for it. And I am so glad we did. The last time I ate sushi was 5 months ago, so I was seriously overdue. I was a happy girl!

After sushi we made our way to Kirstenbosch Gardens. We didn’t get to see much of it when we went for the concert on Sunday night, so we knew we wanted to return. We got there too late for any of the tours (but we hear the shuttle tour is great!), so we just spent time strolling around on our own. It ended up being perfect because we were there during golden hour (photographers you know what I mean), so I was in heaven. The gardens are so breathtakingly beautiful, I kept saying “oh my gosh can you believe this?” “Holy crap this is so incredible!”. It’s another must-see in Cape Town.  

We ended our night with a super romantic dinner at Fork – another great recommendation from a blog reader (you guys are keeping me well-fed!). 

P.S. I’m not sure what’s going on with the size of the fonts and I’m way too tired to figure out how to fix it, so sorry about that! 🙂

{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

beach, South Africa, travel

{South Africa Day Two}

Yesterday, after 12 hours of sleep, we woke up to rain in Cape Town. 
We surprisingly weren’t that bummed. We just took it as an excuse to really slow down, enjoy a leisurely breakfast and French press coffee at our hotel and get settled into vacation mode.
We had originally planned to hike Table Mountain, but since it had rained that morning conditions wouldn’t be great, so we changed plans and decided to drive to Cape Point instead.
What could take you around two hours to drive ends up taking an entire day because the scenery is so breathtaking you just keep stopping to take photos (and this is typical – not just because I’m photo crazy!).
We didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into when we left the hotel, which is why I hiked in hot pink pants and floral boat shoes 🙂 But hey, I made it work!
It turned out to be an incredible sunny day with some of the most stunning scenery we’ve ever laid eyes on!
{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}
South Africa, travel

{South Africa Day One}

We arrived in Cape Town today!
After an 11 hour overnight flight and driving on the wrong (to us) side of the road, we made it to our hotel!
We had just enough time to shower and freshen up before heading out for the afternoon for a summer concert at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. 
I am so glad we booked this in advance and made it work with our schedule because it was so much fun. South Africans really know how to dance and have a good time!
Despite being really tired from sleeping on a plane and still not feeling 100% myself after my illness last week, we still managed to have an awesome and memorable first day in Cape Town.
But just to keep it real – we are ending it with cereal in our hotel room and an early bedtime. Need to catch up on our sleep so we’re well-rested for the upcoming adventures 🙂