South Africa feels

15 October 2017

I am just back from South Africa, a place I have dreamed about travelling to for almost three decades. It is a complex country, full of contradictions, and I experienced all the feels. I thought I’d share a little of my grand adventure with you through a handful of the thousands of photos that I took. I travelled with my youngest brother and we started in Johannesburg, where our dad grew up, then went on to Soweto, Kruger, Blyde and Cape Town. We rode planes, trains and automobiles, and had a bloody fantastic time. So here’s a nonsequential version of how it went…

We met wild endangered penguins who looked super cute but were super smelly.

We drank excellent five-dollar mojitos as the sun set over stunning Camps Bay.

Our hearts were broken, and then uplifted, on Robben Island where Mandela and his fellow anti-apartheid activists were jailed.

We took a train along the Western Cape that rattled through the dunes and travelled so close to the ocean that we felt the spray on our faces.

In Kruger National Park we saw everything we could have hoped for. We stopped for elephants more times than I can count…

and lions…

and rhino…

and a real zebra crossing.

We were fortunate to spend time with the elusive cheetah. There are only 400 in Kruger, which is the same size as Wales, and these two gave us every pose in the book.

I could fill this whole post with animal pix, but let’s move on.

In Soweto we made new friends wherever we went. I have never been so warmly welcomed in any place around the world, or given so many high fives to strangers on the street. Don’t believe the hype about Soweto. It was one of the most brilliant experiences of my travelling life.

It was also one of the most heartbreaking. In Kliptown, one of Soweto’s oldest suburbs, there is no infrastructure, including electricity, sewerage and garbage removal, and only a few communal taps to serve the whole area. The rivulet you see here is sewerage.

We took the overnight train from Joburg to Cape Town. It was exhilarating and beautiful and hilarious. We often felt like we’d fallen into a slapstick comedy.

We climbed the sheer cliff face of Lion’s Head Rock, and took the cable car to the top of Table Mountain where we almost froze gulping up the gorgeous views.

We drooled over bubblegum-coloured houses in Bo-kaap.

And we hiked around and down into Blyde River Canyon where we saw barely a soul. It is the third largest canyon in the world but in a beauty contest it would beat the Grand Canyon hands down. No photograph can do it justice.

So there you have it. That’s one photo story; I could tell many others.

And now I’m going to take the words that I recorded in this pretty notebook and use it as the springboard for fiction. I don’t know what it will be about yet, or what form it will take, but I am going to start somewhere.


  • Reply Lori Trochim 26 September 2018 at 1.16 pm

    Love your photos and your beautiful words! I’m going to South Africa in November. Might you tell me where you stayed or drove to find these beautiful animal sightings? Thank you. Lori for Seattle

    • Reply Irma 26 September 2018 at 5.10 pm

      Hi Lori, the penguins are at Boulder’s Beach near Cape Town. All the others were in Kruger National Park which was absolutely incredible. Have a fabulous time!

  • Reply Whispering Gums 16 October 2017 at 2.51 am

    Greatly enjoyed this summation, having of course seen many of your photos on Instagram, Irma. Looks like an awe-inspiring trip in every possible way. I look forward to seeing what fiction you create. Meanwhile, welcome home.

    • Reply Irma 16 October 2017 at 3.01 am

      Thank you! It was pretty damn wonderful!

  • Reply Lyndall 16 October 2017 at 1.58 am

    How gorgeous was the baby rhino. I love the zebra crossing too!

    • Reply Irma 16 October 2017 at 2.10 am

      It was *so* gorgeous, prancing across the road while its mother plodded slowly. One thing this photo doesn’t capture is how enormous the mama rhino was — as big as a car. And that horn! We were awestruck.

  • Reply Max Hamilton 15 October 2017 at 11.08 pm

    Loved the zebra crossing!

    • Reply Irma 15 October 2017 at 11.22 pm


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