South Africa

As we ended our time in London, the excitement we felt as we headed to Heathrow was evident. We could not wait to see our family! Even though we knew we had a very long travel day ahead and were missing a few members, we could not wait to see familiar faces and experience Africa together.

A little background on how this part of our trip came to be: the two of us did our honeymoon in South Africa in 2015. We spent a few days in Cape Town, nearly a week on safari at two different camps and then spent a week on a beach in Mozambique. It was absolutely incredible and a trip we thought would be once-in-a-lifetime. However, once we were on our first game drive we just knew we had to come back. A trip to Africa is the kind that changes you as a person…

Fast forward a year and Nolan’s parents decided they needed to take everyone on a big family trip. Schedules were getting busy, grandkids were likely on the horizon** and it was getting harder and harder for everyone to get together for an extended vacation. After a ton of debate on various locations it was unanimous that everyone wanted to experience Africa (the two of us also did our part is swaying the conversation in this direction). So after a ton of planning, we got the dates settled and the trip was a reality.

Also to note – this big family vacation was planned over a year ago and well before the two of us decided to pack our bags and explore the globe. Part of the reason we decided to start in Europe was because we knew we could intercept the family on the way to Africa via London Heathrow and this is exactly what we did. Hard to imagine after months and months of planning and anticipation this trip was upon us. So, we headed to Heathrow quite early to take advantage of the BA Lounge there. We spent the afternoon catching up on photo editing, blog posts, etc. and then grabbed the family before boarding our flight. It was amazing to see everyone!

After the long overnight flight from London, we landed in Johannesburg and took a short flight into the Timbavati Game Reserve where we would spend the next four nights at King’s Camp. As luck would have, the head Ranger (Grant Murphy) accompanied us for our entire time, which could not have worked out better. Once we were shuttled to our luxurious accommodations, we went out for our first game drive. We will never forget the look on everyone’s faces when they saw the first giraffe just after we pulled out of the lodge. Mom cried and the rest had mouths agape. Within minutes this trip was worth it!

Morning game drive coffee stop (yes those are matching shirts courtesy of Mom)

Morning game drive coffee stop (yes those are matching shirts courtesy of Mom)

Over the next four days we saw the Big Five, birds of all kinds, wild dogs, and even witnessed a live impala kill by a pack of hyenas (something Grant had never even experienced in his lifetime spent in the African bush). Perhaps the most magical moment however, was pulling off to have coffee one morning in front of a lake as a pack of elephants literally played feet in front of us. We also celebrated Nolan’s birthday on safari, where he was surprised with a birthday dinner in the bush, including professional African dancers (see photos attached). There are too many other amazing moments to recount them here, but to have the family with us to experience it all was just perfect.

We completed eight game drives before heading to Cape Town for the second leg of our trip. Due to a problem with our original hotel, we got upgraded to a penthouse at the Waterfront and we all agreed it was probably the nicest place we have ever stayed or ever will stay! Over the next four days we experienced the Stellenbosch and Franschoek wine regions, a tour around the cape (including Boulder’s Beach and the penguins), Table Mountain, the botanical gardens, and tons of amazing meals. In fact, our amazing local Cape Town guide (Ali) was the same who shuttled the two of us around a few years back. Awesome!

Waterford Estate, Stellenbosch

Waterford Estate, Stellenbosch

Our honeymoon in 2015 was a trip the two of us will absolutely never forget, but one of things we remember saying then was, “we wish we could bring our family to experience this as.” Well, this dream became a reality thanks to Nolan’s parents putting it together and it couldn’t have been more perfect. We wish they could meet us in all the places we plan to visit going forward, but maybe after everyone gets some rest we can convince them!

We weren’t quite sure how to divide the pictures for this part of our trip (there are a ton). But, in the end decided to keep in uniform so everything is in our South Africa gallery. We hope you enjoy them.

We are currently writing from the Provence Region of France and have only been in the country for about 5 days as we traveled throughout Spain post our Africa trip. We will have lots of amazing pictures and experiences to share from this part of the world. Lastly, we enabled commenting in the blog section of our site, so feel free to share, leave a comment, post feedback or whatever! As always, you can drop us a line on the contact page as well. 

Hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend, speak soon!


** Part of the reason Nolan’s parents chose this year to go on a family trip was the hope and anticipation of grandkids. Well, they nailed it because Nolan’s brother and his wife are expecting their first child in October. So exciting! Unfortunately, this came at the expense of his wife missing our South Africa trip and was the key member of the family not present (as mentioned in the post above). She was truly missed, but exciting times to come for the Matthews Family for sure!