The Blairadise Guide to South Africa

As per request from my cousin April, here is the Blairadise Guide to South Africa. I don’t claim to know everything about this beautiful country, nor do I claim to have traveled the country over. This is just a peak into what I have discovered and hopefully it will entice more friends to come and explore SA. And visit us, of course.
Buying Tickets
Johan and I have made it back to the states twice since I moved here in 2008. Each time, we have scoured the internet looking for the best deal on flights, and not once have we bought directly from the airlines. South African Airways is way too expensive when dealing direct and Delta isn’t too far behind. For Natalie’s ticket in April, I found the cheapest tickets at Travelstart.  For our most recent trip in October, we bought our tickets on Flight Site. Today, I checked and Flight Site was cheaper. The lowest ticket prices I’ve ever found was around $1,200, and the price normally fluctuates between that and $2,000. You can always check with your local travel agent to see if they can get you a better deal with a layover. The direct flight from the states is almost 18 hours, so a few days in London is a nice way to avoid such a long flight.
When to Come
There is a website,, that states from November until April is the best time visit South Africa. I agree. Who wants to come to Africa during the winter time? It’s not our snow you want to see, it’s the hot African sun you want to feel. Personally, I say come in December, because then we will also be on holiday and might get to travel with you.
Where to Go
There is so much to see and do here, so I suggest staying at the very least, two weeks. Especially considering you loose a few days while traveling. Where you should go, depends on what you want out of your trip. If you want a safari, you go to the Kruger National Park. If want breathtaking views, you head to Cape Town or the Panorama Route. Surfing, Durban. If you want a bit of history and city life, you stay right here in Joburg.
If you are into 4×4 off road travel, then you have to check out my brother in laws site, Ivory 4×4 Hire. They offer 4×4 rentals with all the essentials you need for camping in the African bush. He will also recommend a route for you to travel and places to stay along the way. All suggested routes he or some mates have traveled. Johan and I went along on one of his trips in 2008. It was one of our most memorable trips to date. We saw a mother cheetah catch an ostrich, THEN call it’s four cubs out and teach them how to finish the kill. Amazing!! Straight out of the National Geographic. He can’t promise you such an adventure, but I am sure your trip will be just as memorable.
My two favorite places are the Kruger National Park and Cape Town. If you’ve seen those two, you will go home more than satisfied.

Where to Stay
The best site I’ve found for accommodation in South Africa is SA-Venues. They have a huge selection, from luxury homes and villas, to backpackers and hostels. In the Kruger, I would suggest staying in a tented camp. There you can also find the most luxurious tents to budget rentals.

We’ve always stayed with friends in Cape Town, so I can’t recommend a certain place, but there are loads of wonderful choices from backpackers to the fanciest hotels. Once there you will also need to venture down to Stellenbosch and check out the wine farms. Even if you aren’t a big wine drinker, you must go enjoy the scenery. One thing to remember when booking your accommodation is that most places charge per person, per night, opposed to per night.

There is always a free place to stay in Pretoria at the Scheeper’s house! I’d say it’s 6 star.
What to Do
Again, there is so much here to do and see for everyone. Safaris, cage diving with Sharks, whale watching, hiking Table Mountain, exploring the vineyards, the Cradle of Humankind, tour Diamond mines, watch a Rugby game or Cricket match, travel along the Panorama Route, braai with the locals, and the list goes on and on.
South Africa isn’t as far away as it sounds. Here are few of my favorite photos while on holiday in SA:
The Vortrekker Monument – Pretoria – May 2011 – Don’t believe what you read in your travel guide.
Mine and Amanda’s first rugby game in 2008
Botswana with Ivory 4×4 – May 2008 – Can you spot the lioness?
Knysna – March 2008
The Kruger National Park – December 2009
The Kruger National Park – December 2009
Cape Town – December 2009 – The view of Table Mountain from our dinner table.
Stellenbosch – December 2009
Table Mountain – December 2009 – The view from the top!
Cape Town – December 2009
Botswana with Ivory 4×4 – May 2008
The Free State – March 2008 – Sunflower Fields
Uvongo – February 2011
Oribi Gorge – February 2011
Panorama Route – April 2011 – God’s Window
Panorama Route – April 2011
Are ready to book your trip? I’d love to help you. Email me.

Easter Sunday

What better way is there to spend Easter than with your family, marveling at God’s amazing handy work?

Skip, Ava and I, along with my parents and brother spent Easter Sunday driving along the Panorama Route, in Mpumalanga, a province here in South Africa. I don’t have many words for what we saw. And I promise the pictures below don’t do the area any justice. You will just have to come visit us and see for yourself. Absolutely amazing.

Good morning sunshine! 

Uncle Jimmy

The boys stocking up on some biltong for the trip. 

My super hot husband!

Grandpa and Grandma doing what they do best, shopping!!

Mac-Mac Falls

Ava and her Grandma

“Whatchu lookin’ at Willis?” 

Our little family!

The Pinnacle  

God’s Window

Bourke’s Luck Potholes

She loves to look at her daddy.

Almost home!

My big brother is in town for the next two weeks. I told the Skipper I feel like a vulture every time someone lands from America. I circle around their suitcase like a vulture waiting to feast on it’s meal. When Natalie was here, it was the same. Surprise gifts from friends and family. Lots of clothes and books for Ava. Toys and sunglasses. A new bird house. And like always, an awesome care package from Stacy. Who knew you could get so excited over plastic cups? With Jimmy, our new “fancy” camera and my double Medela pump! Thank you Medela for giving me back a mere 30 minutes of my life, here and there. A pair of Rainbows! Can’t buy those here in SA and we can’t live without them.  Plus eye contacts for a year! Pays to know the doctor personally.

More importantly than the gifts, of course, is having Jim here. His energy is invigorating and his humor and wit, delightful. It’s a shame we live so far away. But we’ve made a pack to get all the cousins together for vacations. I wonder what Ava’s accent will sound like? Southern American like her mom or Southern Africa like her dad? Will little Lucien think she sounds funny? Will he sound funny to her? I like day dreaming about them playing together, along with Della Mae and Isabella. Bailey will be hanging with the adults of course, I mean, she’s more mature than some of us…

This beautiful country, my gorgeous Ava, the love I share with my husband, and bond I have with my family is all proof of God’s grace. And for that, I am the utmost grateful.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter!!


I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

I cannot believe we have already arrived at March. Skip started working a desk job again on Monday. It’s been so nice having him work from home this past month. He has been a HUGE help with Ava. I honestly think I am the luckiest girl in the world in marrying this man. He cooks, he cleans, helps with the baby and loves me for me! What more could a girl ask for?

Last week we took our first family vacation to Uvongo on the eastern coast of South Africa. It’s almost tropical there. I’ve never seen so much vegetation at the coast before. Absolutely beautiful. However, it’s much different than the Carolina coast. Rocks cover most of the coast line so you can only access the beach at certain places. The beach access by our house had a little cafe, outdoor showers and a pool. Which is all really nice, especially if you have small kids. Plus there was a shop to buy anything you may have forgotten. So smart. It was a shame they didn’t sell new born bathing suits. Or one that makes my post-preggie body look remotely close to my pre-preggie body.

The one thing the beach, actually South Africa as a whole, is missing is a proper ice cream shop. I know of one Häagen-Dazs shop in Sandton City. The few other ice cream shops only serve soft serve, prepackaged or frozen yogurt. That’s not what I want when I am craving ice cream. The Skipper says I am just another spoiled American when it comes to my demands for creamed ice. Well yes, I am proud to admit that I am. I like quality. Not strawberry ice cream the color of a pink highlighter. My wants are for vanilla ice cream with real strawberry chunks. And I am willing to pay top dollar for it. In October, I paid roughly $7 for a small bowl/cone thing while I was home. Chocolate, with Oreos and strawberry pieces. AMAZING. Definitely willing to pay R49 here for a small if it was quality ice cream.

Therefore, my new dream is to open a Cold Stone Creamery type shop here in SA. I mean their slogan isn’t The Ultimate Ice Cream Experience for nothing. Skip said no. He and I both know I will become fatter than a house if I own my own ice cream shop. He also said no to a Dylan’s Candy Bar. But a girl can dream right?

So I am screaming for proper ice cream! Guess I should just make some in the ice cream maker we got as a wedding gift… But who has time to do that?

To my defense, we have made French Silk Chocolate, Pecan, and Strawberry ice cream before. Plus a Passion Fruit frozen yogurt. It’s just so time consuming!! And that’s just me being a lazy American.

Here’s a few of my favorite pics from our vacation.

Feeding in the park. Thank goodness for being prepared with a bottle. Not yet secure enough to just whip out one of the girls and feed in public.

Love this one. She looks so beautiful in her Ralph Lauren romper.
Ava already knows what a wonderful father she has. Look at the way she looks up at him.
Blurry, but I think that’s what makes this photo great.

We found Oysters for cheaper than R18 a piece! How can Oysters be more expensive at the sea than in town??

The only photo of me on the beach or as close to the beach as I got. He should have blocked my belly, not my face.

The cutest little thing I’ve ever seen!

This guy has the life, an amazing Italian restaurant upstairs and his ocean front house downstairs with an herb and flower garden overlooking the ocean. Seriously, could life get any better?

Ava and I with my beautiful sister in law and her newest addition.

1st photo, the 1st day, on our 1st family vacation.

ps. Never ever try the Krusher ice cream at KFC. Just gross.