Lions and Tigers and Bunnies, Oh My

Ok. There weren’t any tigers. But there were certainly lions, elephants, cape buffalo, cheetahs, vultures, white rhinos, ostriches, crocodiles, hippos, wildebeasts, zebras, giraffes, wild dogs, hyenas, impala, water bucks, elans, warthogs, black eagles, jackals and more. And, perhaps more importantly, there were bunnies. But I’ll get to those later.

Let me just start out by saying South Africa is a fantastic place, and I don’t think I’ve ever traveled to a spot with friendlier, happier people. Everyone was excited… for the race, for the World Cup, for the beach, or just to be there doing whatever it is they were doing. Our flights out were incredibly uneventful, and even downright easy given we had a 9 1/2 hour flight from Seattle to Amsterdam followed almost immediately by a 10 1/2 hour flight to Johannesburg. A quick night at an airport hotel, and the next morning we were off to Durban, which would be our home base for Comrades.

sunrise over durban

One of the benefits of jet lag: I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many sunrises in 12 days…

Durban is a located on a beautiful beach, although the day we arrived it was hard to tell because of the extreme winds. Apparently, every year they have a crazy storm day that marks the switch over between summer and winter… and that was it. Luckily, the next morning we woke to a beautiful temperate day (cool by the local standards, but quite a bit like an early summer day here in Seattle) which was typical of the weather the rest of the trip.

Race day was on Sunday, and Cam and his friend Randy both did a great job. Cam even beat his goal time by a few minutes, which is incredible for such a crazy race paired with jet lag. Needless to say, after running 55 miles, the boys were pretty wiped for a few days, so we had a lazy day before heading back to Johannesburg to catch our shuttle up to Kruger park for a quick safari.






Our safari took us both into Kruger National Park (for a full, 10 hour drive) and to a private game reserve for 2 evening game drives (we booked through Intrepid and they managed everything beautifully). In case you can’t tell from the photos, you do get incredibly close to some of the animals.










We also had the privedge of visiting the Moholoholo Rehabilitation Center which helps injured, abandoned or problem wildlife. The fact is that throughout Africa, the loss of natural habitat for animals is stunning. Parks like Kruger help preserve some habitat, but it is far too little for most animals, and there is a huge threat to the ecological balance. Moholoholo doesn’t have all the answers, but is doing what it can to help raise awareness of how precious the wildlife and habitat are to the continent. At the center, most of the animals they take in are treated and released back into the wild, but there are a good couple of dozen animals that have been socialized with people (although still quite dangerous) and act as ambassadors for their species, including much to our luck two 10 week old cheetahs which we were able to “help” socialize by petting.




The hyena was in love with Cam.


We got to feed the vultures…


…but feeding the lions is best left to the professionals.

This trip wasn’t much about food… the guys needed to keep it mild and carby before the race and the safari meals were tasty but definitely tourist “safe” (emergency bathroom breaks in the bush aren’t necessarily a good idea!) But, I did manage to pick up a handful of great looking South African cooking magazines, and have been very inspired by what I’ve found.


I can’t wait to go back, next time to sample more of the food & wine. In the meantime, I’m happy to indulge in buttermilk rusks, milk tart and one of my new favorites: bunny chow!

Have you ever had bunny chow (if you are cool, you just call them bunnies… but I love saying bunny chow!)? Or are you just as curious as I was when I was in Durban trying to hazard a guess as to what it might be?

  • Nicole

    Absolutely beautiful photos, Lara! Thanks for sharing!

  • Alanna

    I’ve been to South Africa a handful of times, Durban just once. If you loved the Durban area, wait until you see the Western Cape. Whoa — I visited long enough ago that RSA had yet to feel much (modern) American-European influence and so it truly felt like a place apart.

  • Dina

    Wow Lara! It sounds like you had an amazing time.
    The photo’s are great, too. What an experience!!

  • Lara Alexander

    Not your average tourist photos! Very nice.

  • fragolina

    first time i see your blog and i went through some older posts too, i find it very lovely, rich and colorful…. i like the photos… and the recipes too.. I bet the South Africa trip was memorable!!! i’ll keep visiting your blog!

  • Nathalie (spacedlaw)

    Petting cheetah cubs! How cool is that!

  • Mary

    Thank you for the photos, Lara. And congratulations to Cam on the race!

  • Sarah Graham

    Thanks for your post, so exciting to see how much you loved your time in South Africa! And huge well done to Cam for running the Comrades, that is incredible. I live in Cape Town and have a fun bunny chow recipe on my blog that you can check out if you like, I love it too! :)

  • Rita

    Wow, what an incredible place! I so want to go there now!

  • Nikki

    wow…amazing photos, looks like the trip of a lifetime! thanks for sharing–i love your photography!

  • Valerie

    Ahhh great post! I got to live in Cape Town for a couple of years and reading this made me miss it. Great photo – that first one… I always felt the sky was somehow lower in Africa and that shot captures that perfectly! Looks like you had a great time in Kruger – I didn’t have quite the luck with animal sightings when I was there that you did but it was a life-changing experience nonetheless. And yes, I have had (and miss terribly) bunny chow!

  • Devletsah

    Dear Lara;

    I was Durban at the same time… I’m so sorry. :( If I knew…

    These are mine photos from Durban.

  • Jermaine

    Your photos are gorgeous :)

  • Cheap flights to Durban

    A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.