Welcome to Part Two of our travel blog series! This past year my husband and I were fortunate enough to go on an adventure of a lifetime to South Africa. The second part of our journey was spent at the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve and Chameleon Village outside of Johannesburg. The rest of our trip included: Sun City Resort, Kruger National Park Safari, and Cape Town. Join us on our day-by-day blog recap!
Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve
We headed out first thing in the morning to the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, which is located about an hour northwest of Johannesburg. This was my first glimpse of the “Africa” you always imagine seeing; rolling grasslands full of antelope, zebra, wart hogs, and rhino. It was amazing! We drove straight through the reserve and headed to the Animal Creche to play with the baby lions! Unfortunately, we were too early. They had to feed all of the animals first, so we walked around and looked at all of the animals they had at the creche, then went for a drive to see what else we could find. The landscape was beautiful, and the animals were amazing! Impala, Sable, Zebra, Ostrich, Wart Hogs, Wild Dogs, Cheetah, Lions, White Lions, Cape Buffalo, White Rhino, and Wildebeest, among others, roamed the grasslands as we drove. One of the coolest experiences was our encounter with the White Lions. Being literally just a few feet away from some of them was absolutely incredible!
We then headed back to the Creche and it was time to play with the lions! We were able to go and interact with a few of the 5 month old White Lion cubs. They were pretty sleepy, but it was still really fun. If you’re ever in the Johannesburg area and are wanting a glimpse at the safari experience, but can’t get to one of the bigger reserves, I recommend the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve. I wish we would have had a bit more time to see more of it and explore some of the caves. After driving around a bit more, we wrapped up our time at the reserve and headed to Chameleon Village.
Chameleon Village is an African Market located in Hartbeespoort, South Africa, and right on our way to Sun City. After restocking our groceries at the local Pick-n-Pay and getting some food at KFC (the mini-loaves are so good!), we headed to the market. This was my first ever experience at a place like this, and it was interesting! My husband held my hand as we walked through and told me not to stop and to just look quickly at things as we passed by. The market is basically tons of tables and shelves full of anything from carved wooden animals and traditional clothing to animals skins and paintings. There were so many cool things, and a lot of things that were very similar to the souvenirs my husband had brought home from his mission. Every vendor tries to get you to come and look at their stuff and say things like “looking is free”, or “I’ll give you a good price”. They will also all claim that they make everything at their table, even though it’s identical to every other piece you see sold anywhere. We did end up buying a few things for our kids. It was a little rough because we are not the bartering type! All of the vendors are very pushy, and you feel bad for not talking to them or just walking away, but it’s what you have to do! When we found something we liked we would ask the price, and then usually offer about 1/2 of what they told us and they always came down a lot in price, especially when you start to walk away. I know that there are plenty of people that go to these markets and don’t barter at all, so for the vendors it’s all part of the game. Check out the video for a little bit more of our reaction to the market and to hear about the extremely pushy vendor we met at the end! If you want to experience a real African market, Chameleon Village is the place to go.
We finished off our day with the rest of our drive to the Sun City Resort, stopping along the way to admire the beautiful South African sunset. I’m convinced that the sun really is bigger in Africa! Arriving at Sun City after dark we learned that everything closes a lot earlier in South Africa, even at a resort. We walked around and explored what we could, ate some dinner, and called it a night.
Planning a trip?
Here are some helpful links!