One of the biggest things that I love about South Africa is that you are never far from nature.
Just a short drive away from my childhood home, through sugarcane fields and shanty towns, we found ourselves travelling on the dirt roads of Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve to take in the spectacular views across the valley, spot some wildlife and sit down for a "braai" lunch.
After a brief stop at the Oribi Gorge Hotel to find our bearings and pick up a map or two we found ourselves greeted by the most amazing views of the gorge which engulf the Umzimkulwana river and is surrounded by lush vegetation. The rock ledges that hang over the gorge can be a little terrifying at times if you get too close to the edge since there were no railings, especially at Leopard Rock which juts out over the vast expanse of the valley.
We witnessed some crazy person jumping off the Lehrs Falls to swing into the depths of the gorge on the highest bungee swing in the world and with that our stomachs were officially doing flips and it was time to do some wildlife spotting.
Further down the road we arrived at "Lake Eland" where you can drive your car through their wildlife reserve. Straight off the bat we spotted Eland (the largest antelope on the African continent) which were closely followed by herds of zebra and wildebeest along with many other types of buck. We also managed to spot a little jackal, which was so cute that I just wanted to take him home.
The highlight of the day definitely came when we got close and personal with a herd of giraffe. Giraffe are one of my favourite African mammals and although they seem a little out of proportion with that tiny head sitting on such a long neck, they are so graceful and elegant. You just can't help but feel struck by their beauty and regality when you see them from such a short range in their natural habitat.
By the afternoon our stomachs had recovered from the scary gorge drop and were churning with the promise of good "braai" food. Unfortunately the clouds grew darker and darker, but in true South African style we lit the fire regardless and even though the rain drops became heavier, we stuck it out and devoured our chicken kebabs, lamb chops and boerewors while huddled underneath umbrellas.
The drizzle soon turned into a downpour and we decided it was time to call it a day before the dirt roads became un-drivable.