What are the best Game Reserves near Cape Town?Published: 17. October 2019
When you think South Africa, you immediately think game reserves and wildlife. However, the most popular game reserves are in the north of the country such as the Kruger National Park (which is the biggest one BTW). Does this mean that you have to travel all the way up north to see wildlife in their natural habitat? Definitely not! There are some 5-Star game reserves within the Western Cape and most importantly in striking distance from Cape Town. Wanna know where?
The Happy Challenge - Addo Elephant Park, Eastern CapePublished: 14. June 2019
The Addo Elephant National Park is the only park in the world to lay claim to Africa's 'Big 7' - elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo, leopard, southern right whale and great white shark. The Park stretches from the semi-arid karoo of the north, over the Zuurberg Mountains and down through the Sundays River valley to the coast, to between the mouths of the Sundays and Bushman's rivers. Addo is home to one of the densest African Elephant populations on earth, roughly 550 of them. A big bonus is that the park is also malaria free, so no worries such as other larger parks up north!
The Happy Challenge - Augrabies Waterfalls, Northern CapePublished: 14. June 2019
The Khoi people called the Augrabies Falls 'Aukoerebis', the place of the Great Noise, referring to the Orange River thundering its way downwards for 60 metres in a spectacular waterfall. Klipspringer and quiver trees stand in stark silhouette against the African sky, silent sentinels in a strangely unique environment where only those that are able to adapt ultimately survive. The area is inhabited by the Nama People who over the centuries have managed to adapt to the harsh conditions of the area. The animals in Augrabies Falls National Park can survive in extreme high and low temperatures. Smaller animals make use of whatever shade is available as well as burrows, rock crevices and fallen trees. The types of animals include are the slender mongoose, the yellow mongoose, and rock dassies. An interesting mammal found in Augrabies is the cape clawless otter, their presence in the park indicates that the river ecosystem is relatively healthy. The giraffes found in Augrabies are lighter in colour than those found in the regions of the east, as a counter measure for the extreme heat. One of the most often seen antelope is the klipspringer, which are often seen in pairs. Other antelope found in the park are steenbok, springbok, gemsbok, kudu and eland.Predators in Augrabies Falls National Park come in the form of leopard, black backed jackals, caracal, the bat-eared fox, and the African wild cat......
The Happy Challenge - Port St Johns, Eastern CapePublished: 14. June 2019
The wildness of the coast with its deep gorges and impenetrable forests, mangrove swamps and the primitive force of freak waves that caused many a shipwreck along this region of the coast, have not quite managed the attempt to tame them by colonial order, since Port St Johns inception in 1878.
However, the history of Port St Johns is not why we're here. We are here for something aptly named 'The Greatest Shoal on Earth', or as the locals call it, the sardine run which takes place between June and July each year, is an event not to be missed! All nature lovers and adrenaline enthusiasts will thoroughly enjoy this amazing spectacle of nature.....
The Happy Challenge - Kruger National Park, MpumalangaPublished: 14. June 2019
Lying in the heart of the Lowveld is a wildlife sanctuary like no other, its atmosphere so unique that it allows those who enter its vastness to immerse themselves in the unpredictability and endless wilderness that is the true quality of Africa. The largest game reserve in South Africa, the Kruger National Park is larger than Iceland. Nearly 2 million hectares of land that stretch for 352 kilometres (20 000 square kilometres) from north to south along the Mozambique border, is given over to an almost indescribable wildlife experience.
This is the land of baobabs, fever trees, knob thorns, marula and mopane trees underneath which lurk the Big Five, the Little Five (buffalo weaver, elephant shrew, leopard tortoise, ant lion and rhino beetle), the birding Big Six (ground hornbill, kori bustard, lappet-faced vulture, martial eagle, pel’s fishing owl and saddle-bill stork) and more species of mammals than any other African Game Reserve....
The Happy Challenge - Kimberley Big Hole, Northern CapePublished: 14. June 2019
Digging commenced at the Kimberley mine site in 1871. By the time mining ended on 14 August 1914, the mine had yielded 2722 kilograms of diamonds, extracted from 22,5 million tons of excavated earth. What began as a flat-topped hill is today, a gaping hole measuring 215 metres deep, with a surface area of 17 hectares and a perimeter of 1.6 kilometres. It is the largest hand-dug excavation in the world! It all began as far back as 1866 when a man called Erasmus Jacobs found what he took for a shiny pebble on the Orange River banks. To cut a long story short, it was later sold in London, after it was determined to be a 21.25 carat diamond, for £500. After a further two diamonds were found in the area, a diamond rush ensued and miners arrived in their thousands....
The Happy Challenge - Hole in the Wall, Eastern CapePublished: 14. June 2019
The Hole in the Wall at Coffee Bay is a unique structure with a huge detached cliff that has a giant opening carved through its centre by the waves. The local Xhosa call this place "izi Khaleni", which means "place of thunder".
Xhosa mythology tells a romantic tale of the sea people, semi deities who look like humans but have supple wrists and ankles and flipperlike hands and feet. The story goes that a beautiful girl living on the Wild Coast, in a village near a lagoon, cut off from the sea by a mighty cliff, was seen by one of the sea people who became overwhelmed by her beauty and tried to woo her. However, her father was not too pleased with this development and forbid any interaction between the two. In dealing with the wrath of her father, the sea people enlisted the help of a huge fish who battered its way headfirst through the wall of rock. Through this hole spilled the sea people who swept the young Xhosa maiden away.....
The Happy Challenge - Drakensburg Amphitheater, KwazuluNatalPublished: 14. June 2019
Its name, Drakensberg, roughly translate to “dragon mountains” or “the mountains of dragons”. And, it’s no wonder that it has earned this name because some of the peaks are mammoth in size and stature. The Amphitheatre is a dramatic cliff face that measures more than five kilometres (3.1 miles) in length. The cliffs along the entire length of the range are more than 1.2 kilometres (4 000 feet) high. The Amphitheatre is part of the northern part of the Drakensberg, and is home to the Tugela Falls, which tumble into the Tugela Gorge with the kind of power and grace that only nature can create. This is the second-highest waterfall in the world, with sheets of water that drop 948 metres (3 100 feet) before crashing to the bottom. Drink in views of the gorge, the mountain range, and the best of African landscapes as far as the eye can see.....
The Happy Challenge - Ronnies Shop, Western CapePublished: 14. June 2019
Ronnie painted the name Ronnie's Shop on this cottage next to the R62, planning to open a farm stall to sell fresh produce and fruit. His friends played a prank on him by changing the name to Ronnie's Sex Shop!! Initially angry about the involuntary name change, Ronnie left the name and continued fixing the dilapidated building. In time Ronnie converted the shop into a pub, which has had visitors from all over the world. Judging by the graffiti, it has also become a regular pitstop for bikers and travelers who like things a little more off-beat....
The Happy Challenge - Cape Agulhas, Western CapePublished: 14. June 2019
'Cape Agulhas' is the most southern tip of Africa. This official meeting point of the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean is also the point of convergence of the Mozambique and Benguela currents.The Agulhas bank is a unique geographical formation which bears the title 'Graveyard of Ships' due to this challenging crossing resulting in numerous shipwrecks. When seafaring Portuguese vessels rounded this Cape tip in the 15th century their compass needles would swing unable to determine True North from Magnetic North. As a result, in 1488 the Portuguese navigator, Bartholomew Dias, named this ocean site 'Capo das Agulhas' translating to 'Cape of Needles'.....
The Happy Challenge - God's Window, MpumalangaPublished: 14. June 2019
With magnificent views, canyons, rock formations and waterfalls, God's Window is truly an area of breathtaking scenic splendour. It is no wonder that Mpumalanga is known as Paradise Country. Gods Window is so called for the panoramic view of the Lowveld more than 900 m down into lush indigenous forest clad ravine. The majestic cliffs plunge over 700 meters to the Lowveld and the private game reserves which have made the area one of South Africa's main wildlife destinations. God's Window is a small part of a 250km long earthwork of sheer cliffs and extravagant beauty. One can observe the hills and forests as far as the eye can see. In fact, it seems as if one can see forever! From the parking area a very steep stepped footpath along the edge of the escarpment leads to the actual view points. For the best lookout points and exotic forest plants, steer away from the crowds and hike up into the clouds and the misty Rain Forest. Make sure you take a few refreshments along as it is very humid and an extremely steep and strenuous walk.....
The Happy Challenge - Table Mountain, Western CapePublished: 14. June 2019
Since the first person laid eyes on Table Mountain in Cape Town it has exerted its powerful and charismatic pull, enchanting and drawing any and all who fall under its spell. The way to the top has never been easy, and for many centuries only a handful of bold and enterprising people could say that they had climbed it. Table Mountain is one of the oldest mountains in the world at 260 million years. Even the Andes, at 250 million years of age, is younger. The Himalayas, which people automatically assume are far older, are only 40 million years old. The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway was opened in 1929 and since then over 16 million people have taken the trip to the top!. In 2012, the cableway celebrated its 83rd anniversary in 2012 and remains the most popular tourist attraction in Cape Town....
The Happy Challenge - Cradle of Humankind, GautengPublished: 14. June 2019
The Cradle of Humankind covers 47 000 hectares of land. The Site comprises a strip of a dozen dolomitic limestone caves containing the fossillised remains of ancient forms of animals, plants and most importantly, hominids. The dolomite in which the caves formed, started out as coral reefs growing in a worm shallow sea about 2.3 billion years ago. Caves on the land have produced over 850 hominid fossil remains, so that to date they represent one of the world's richest concentrations of fossil hominid bearing sites. The scientific value of this area lies in the fact that these sites provide us with a window into the past, to a time when our earliest ancestors were evolving and changing. Scientists have long accepted that all humans had their origins in Africa....
The Happy Challenge - Nelson Mandela Square, GautengPublished: 14. June 2019
Situated in the heart of Sandton in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Nelson Mandela Square is surrounded by world-class hotels and restaurants. The popular Sandton City Shopping Centre is adjacent to Mandela Square. The Square made headlines when, commemorating South Africa’s first decade of democracy, a specially donated six metre bronze statue (which weighs over 2,5 tons!) of Nelson Mandela had been unveiled, and the square aptly renamed Nelson Mandela Square at Sandton City. The intention of this statue is not only to honour the former president’s vision of a free and just South Africa, but also to create a focal point where local and foreign tourists can reflect over the events that led to the creation of the Rainbow Nation.....
The Happy Challenge - Quiver Tree Forest, Northern CapePublished: 14. June 2019
Quiver trees are a kind of aloe that are as beautiful as they are full of character. They are reminiscent of a wilder Africa, where only the toughest survive. Also known as 'kokerboom trees', these are part of the aloe family (Aloe dichotoma) and are characterised by branches that split into smaller sections, and by the hardy succulent leaves that are designed to weather the heat. In times gone by, though, these trees were used by the ancient hunter-gatherer folk, who hollowed out the branches and used them as quivers for their arrows. They were strong and durable; ideal for this purpose much like the people who inhabit the area.....
The Happy Challenge - Cango Caves, Western CapePublished: 14. June 2019
The Cango Caves houses some of the biggest stalagmite formations in the world set in Precambrian (a time about 4500 million years ago) in limestone. A series of dripstone caverns that open into vast halls of towering stalagmite formations with names like ‘the bridal couple’, ‘glass flower fantasy’, ‘weird cango candle’ and ‘the hanging shawl’ can be found. Common myth has it that the Caves were first explored by a local farmer named Jacobus van Zyl (after who the first chamber, van Zyl's Hall, was named). The caves are South Africa's oldest tourist attraction....
The Happy Challenge - Bloukrans Bungee, Western CapePublished: 14. June 2019
Bloukrans Bridge Bungy is one of the world's highest commercial bridge bungy at 216 metres (709 ft) above the Bloukrans River. It is situated at Bloukrans Bridge on the N2 Highway at the border between the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape in the Tsitsikamma area of South Africa's Garden Route. It has been operated by Face Adrenalin commercially since 1997.....
The Happy Challenge - iSimangaliso Wetland Park, KwazuluNatalPublished: 14. June 2019
The 'iSimangaliso Wetland Park' is a series of incredibly beautiful beaches, coral reefs, lakes, swamps, wetlands, woodlands, coastal forests and grasslands that stretch all the way from Kosi Bay, virtually on the Mozambican border, to Cape St Lucia in the south collectively form the first of eight South African UNESCO World Heritage sites. The park is so biodiverse, it supports more species of animal than the Kruger National Park, despite being only the third largest park in the country. A considerable part of the park centres on the huge estuary, Lake St Lucia – part of the largest estuarine system in Africa - that runs parallel to the coast line with the world’s highest forested sand dunes sandwiched between the estuary and the sea.....
The Happy Challenge - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Northern CapePublished: 14. June 2019
Africa's first formally declared trans-border conservation area, the 'Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park', on the border of South Africa and Botswana, was officially launched on May 12, 2000. The word 'Kgalagadi' means land of thirst, and when you visit this massive piece of earth the size of Switzerland you'll understand why. It is known that rivers do not flow here for more than a century, even though the area is a rarity in today's word: a large ecosystem relatively free from human interference......
The Happy Challenge - Wolfgat, Paternoster, Western CapePublished: 14. June 2019
The best restaurant in the World is in South Africa?! No Way! Yes way, and it's called Wolfgat and was named as Restaurant of the Year at the inaugural World Restaurant Awards in Paris for 2019. Wolfgat is perched atop the Wolfgat cave, after which the restaurant is named. The intimate 24-seater heritage cottage enjoys unimpeded views of the gently cresting surf. It is here where chef Kobus van der Merwe beguiles diners with his artful creations, using hyper-local produce that put him on the map as the pioneer and reviver of the Strandveld philosophy of cooking....
The Happy Challenge - The Knysna Heads, Western CapePublished: 14. June 2019
‘The Heads’ as the locals refer to them, are two pillars of rock which stand as tall sentries guarding the picturesque lagoon and town of Knysna on the Garden Route. The ocean waters crash dramatically through the passage between them, providing breathtaking views from many vantage points throughout the town. The Heads are also notorious for having been the resting place for many fishermen and seamen that tried to negotiate the unpredictable, powerful waterway in days past....
Complete the Happy Challenge and Win BigPublished: 13. June 2019
Life is all about being Happy. For us at Happy Campers, nothing makes us happier than seeing those smiles on returning customers' faces. So we thought to ourselves, "what will make our travelers smile even more?". The answer was simple - a big discount (50%!) and an unforgettable campervan trip. So how does that work, you might ask? What's the catch? The answer is the Happy Challenge!
Best spots on the Garden Route - A Happy Camper ReviewPublished: 6. April 2019
'What are the best spots to see when travelling the Garden Route?' If we got a campervan for every time we've been asked this question, then I think we could take part in a Chasing Africa tour every month!
However, along comes a happy camper named Serge Gration, who takes our Happy 1 on an epic 18 day tour throughout the Garden Route and parts of the Eastern Cape, and gives us the down-low on the best spots on his journey. We definitely think he's onto something.....
Meet the Clean TeamPublished: 15. March 2019
A large part of what makes Happy Campers South Africa work, is definitely the aim to have our campervans in the best possible condition, so that all our customers have the best travel experiences. However, the process behind getting these vehicles 'spick and span' after each rental, plays a big part in getting us ready for the next booking or customer. So who are these miracle workers?? Are you ready to meet the 'Clean Team'?!
Travelling with Happy Campers An Honest ReviewPublished: 19. January 2019
When travelling through South Africa not many people tend to think of doing it by camper van. Well have I got some news for you - It is absolutely amazing!
There are so many camp sites spread throughout South Africa that you can literally drive in every direction and find a comfortable resting place.
Also, the area surrounding Cape Town is actually very safe, despite what other people had warned me about before. We actually never felt unsafe, not at any moment!
Chasing Africa Part 1Published: 23. November 2018
We teamed up with instagrammer_sa team extraodinaires Richard, Robynn and Russel who together with social influencers Taun, Melissa and Alex took our Happy 3 campervan for an epic African adventure which they named 'Chasing Africa'. Their route took them from Cape Town to the Garden Route, Eastern Cape and all the way to the Transkei. We feel that with this being the first of (hopefully) many Chasing Africa adventures, they have managed to capture a small part of what makes our part of the world so special. Check out the video below:
Geez that gives me goosebumps every time ! What do you think?!
Why Cape Town's water crisis is under Control (Update)Published: 12. September 2018
In March this year we talked about Cape Town's water crisis, and what was being done to prevent a disaster from happening. Today, 6 months later, where are we now?
Is there still a danger from Cape Town becoming the first major city globally to run our of water? Oh ye of little Faith!
Our Amazing South African Road TripPublished: 2. August 2018
After two tough travel days from America filled with unexpected hurdles and metaphorical bumps in the road (we wouldn’t hit the literal bumps in the road until we reached R343) we arrived at Happy Campers headquarters, ready to begin the first leg of the trip.
We loaded up our Happy 1 and Happy 3 vans with our luggage, making sure to stock up on groceries donated to the Free Zone by previous campers (we lucked out and inherited a bottle of Pimms AND a bottle of Pinot Grigio). Then we hit the road...
Why visiting South Africa in Winter is a great ideaPublished: 19. June 2018
Winter has arrived in full force across the landscape of South Africa. Even the Western Cape is in the swing of things with rising dam levels due to the 'normal rainy season' that we've currently experiencing. It seems a distant memory when warnings of disaster with no rainfall for Cape Town was splashed across local and international media. However, just because it's Winter doesn't mean that nothing's going on. Don't believe me? Check this out:
The Best Camping Sites in the Western Cape? You decidePublished: 11. June 2018
Making a list of anything is difficult enough, however to rank or sort that list is almost impossible due to the subjectivity of it all. However, why not create a list without a ranking or scorecard? So in effect you'd have a list of places to see before you die......or maybe something a little less dramatic than that. So without further ado, here's a few camping sites which we would recommend for the Western Cape:
AfrikaBurn for Beginners (Part 2)Published: 19. April 2018
This year's event of AfrikaBurn takes place over a week, from 23-29 April in the Tankwa. This year's theme is 'Working Title' where the word 'work' forms part of a collaborative effort to survive & thrive at Afrika Burn.
What is different about the festival, is that you choose what temporary life you want to live for the duration of the festival, and then you're urged to make this a permanent choice of living your life, after the festival has ended. You are urged to share your experiences not only with festival goers, but with the outside world as well. Quite profound really.
AfrikaBurn for Beginners (Part 1)Published: 5. April 2018
'It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.' - Chuck Palahniuk
In a sense, AfrikaBurn is about setting aside every day life and to live freely. The festival's website takes it a step further:
"AfrikaBurn’s aim is to be radically inclusive and accessible to anyone. The touchstone of value in our culture will always be immediacy: experience before theory, moral relationships before politics, survival before services, roles before jobs, ritual before symbolism, work before vested interest, participant support before sponsorship"
Why Cape Town's water crisis is under ControlPublished: 6. March 2018
"The first major city to run out of water !"
"Anarchy will rule when the water runs out !"
"Local government powerless to avoid DAY ZERO !"
These are only a few of the local & international news headlines in reference to Cape Town's water shortage.
Reasons to rent a campervan in South AfricaPublished: 11. January 2018
Do you need to drive a four wheel drive (4WD) vehicle in order to fully explore South Africa?
Are the roads & options so limited that only Land Cruisers, Nissan Patrols, Toyota Hilux’s, etc. will do?
And what about travellers who are on a strict budget?
I believe the best way to explore our beautiful country is with a campervan. Here’s why:
Happy Campers South Africa LaunchPublished: 10. November 2017
After more than 2 years planning, we finally opened our offices at Paardevlei in Somerset West on Saturday, 4th November. To top it all we had our first Happy 1 rental go out on the same day !
Here are a few of the pictures from the day:
Collaboration with Stephanus Rabie (Photographer)Published: 23. October 2017
We teamed up with photographer extraordinaire, Stephanus Rabie who took our Happy 1 campervan for a long weekend to the Swartberg mountains in the Western Cape province. We asked Stephanus to try and capture the essence of travelling in South Africa, and how the magnificence of the landscape, can create memories (and photos!) that last a lifetime.
Did he succeed in capturing the essence of travel? You decide.
10 Top Awesome things to do in Cape TownPublished: 29. September 2017
'When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life' Samuel Johnson
I think if Samuel Johnson had visited South Africa, he would've substituted the word 'London' and replaced it with 'Cape Town'. For a traveler to 'experience' the Mother City in only a few days, will take a herculean effort!
However, life is way too short to not give it a go! Let's say that time is not on your side & we would need to distill the places of interest into the 10 top things to do, what would these be?
So without any further ado, here is my list: