Tag Archives: south africa

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling South Africa on the Shosholoza Meyl

Everything You Need To Know about riding the train in South AfricaWhen going to a new country for the first time, especially one that takes over 24 hours to get to, you get there and just really want to SEE IT ALL. Who knows when you’ll be back when there’s so much of the world to see? That’s how I feel on all of my trips, stuffing in as much as possible into everyday of our trips. Our March adventure to South Africa was no exception.

As we pre-meditated our trip we contemplated how to get from point A (Johannesburg) to Point B (Cape Town) across the country. There was flying, which would be roughly $60USD a person and take about two hours. OR there was the train. 27 hours and $110USD. The decision was an easy one. We booked our tourist class tickets for the Shosholoza Meyl and boy was I glad for that decision after all the flying.

Everything You Need To Know about riding the train in South Africa
After our 36 hours in JoBurg we grabbed an Uber to Johannesburg Park Station, which we were warned beforehand that we had to enter through the front and go directly downstairs. Unfortunately our driver brought us around back, demanded money for the toll, and then in the confusion and conundrum of not having change for him our bags were blindly taken by a porter into the station. It was the scariest 5 minutes of our whole trip. Thankfully, Z ran after the porter and managed to secure our bags (yes, we had 4 suitcases)— prompting a security guard to take us under her wing and escort us to our gate. We waited underground in possibly the dirtiest train platform I’ve ever been in. At this point, my heart is racing and I’m wondering if we’ve made a horrible mistake. An older gentleman helped us find our car, where we had booked a little sleeper room for two people. There are also options for a room for 4 or a shared room with strangers. We opted for a little privacy.
South African countryside Via the Shosholoza Meyl
South African countryside
Traveling South Africa by train
The Shosholoza Meyl tourist section is the one of the nicer sections of the train. Each room has a sink, a fold down table, a couch that folds down into a bed and a top bunk that pops down. There is one window looking out into the hallway, and another window that gives an amazing view of the South African countryside— this window you can roll down to feel the wind and experience all the senses as the train chugs along. For an extra ZAR10 ($4USD) they will provide bed sheets and blankets as well. There is a shared bathroom for each train car, which is pretty basic but does the job. There is no heat or air conditioning but again, the windows do open. For hygene’s sake, I advise bringing a packet of face wipes, deodorant, and other personal cleansers for when you start to feel stagnant and sticky. As for your luggage, there is an overhead compartment within your room so you don’t need to fret over it getting lost in the confusion of all the stops.

Chugging along we left the city of JoBurg behind, making our way through shanty towns and eventually, the desert Karoo. Train staff came around every so often to wait on us, making sure we had everything we needed from water and drinks to food and snacks. We had brought plenty of our own snacks and beverages, but it was nice to know that there were options available if we had not. As we drove through the Karoo we looked out for animals, seeing Ostrich, cows, horses and the odd baboon. As night fell we made our way to the dining car, just two cars behind ours, which was also a nice escape from the confines of our room.

Reading and watching South Africa fly by while riding the shosholoza meyl

The staff was pleasant, and the meal cheap even by South African standards. We ordered two bottles of great white wine (for under $2USD each!) and dug into our meals of fresh vegetables and rice for me and all of that plus meat for Z. We were able to take the unfinished wine back to our room where we sat in the dark, sipping our drinks and looking up at the night sky.

They always tell you that the sky is brighter and you can see further when there’s less light pollution. But Holy Toledo was this an experience. Us both being city kids we had never seen so many stars. At one point we noticed a bright blue swirling cluster that was no doubt a galaxy that we could actually see with our bare eyes. We fell asleep with our heads against the window, waking up for a few moments as we made mid-night stops in other major SA cities including Klerksdorp, Kimberley and Beaufort. Each stop lasted about 5-10 minutes as passengers either hurriedly left or rushed to get on to their designated seats. Our car was mostly full of long-haul sleeping tourists so we were not bothered much during the night.

Riding the Shosholoza Meyl train through South Africa

Train Trips

We awoke the next morning ready for breakfast. Needing a stretch we ventured back down to the dining car where we were served a full English Breakfast. We made our way back to our room for more wildlife watching and some light reading. We drove through more enthralling scenes, leaving dusty desert for mountain ranges complete with lush vineyards and farms. The closer we got to Cape Town the more topographical it seemed to get.

Arriving in Cape Town’s Kaapstad station was a complete 180 from Johannesburg Park Station; with glistening white walkways, organized bell whistles, and helpful staff to help with unloading your baggage. Without a doubt, it was very easy to find our way to where we needed to go. Within minutes we had exited and were hailing our Uber amidst happy students in the sun, palm trees swaying as if we were in Los Angeles. And just like that, we had traveled 1,400km, 27hours, and seen more of South Africa than we ever could have imagined. If we had the chance to do it over again, we would.

Have you ever taken a lengthy train journey? Where did you go!?

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I Was A Hot Mess In My Sunday Best

Turn on that smoke machine
magic and make believe

This song lately is my jam! So good! And so is my denim jacket (good, and my jam). I’ve got to say, this influx of spring is making me so happy; the sun is shining and if you follow me on social media you see that the happy hours are happening, the yard is being tended to, brunch is being enjoyed outside, and the animals are enjoying the sun as well. Vitamin D for everyone!

Here’s another look from my trip to South Africa (I promise newer looks coming soon!). I wore this lacy tank and cotton denim to dinner at Kloof Street House, which was my top meal of the entire trip. I enjoyed some vegan “meat”loaf and local wine and cocktails by candlelight, with the love of my life. While Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate the nights were chilly and warranted a light jacket. The perfect casual yet put together accoutrement to my look.

What’s your favorite thing to wear to a warm weather date night?

Lace tank by H&M (similar here)
leggings pants by UniQlo (so comfy I have 3 pairs! and less than $30 each!)
Nine West pumps
vintage jacket and purse


Once we were a fire burnin’
Now you’re just a lesson I’m learnin’

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But FIRST: #LemmeTakeASelfie

It’s the 21st century and we are already well aware of what is defining our era. Culottes, sneakers for daywear, succulents, and…selfies. While my InstaGram tends to stay void of self-shot face pics my trip to South Africa really brought out the millenial in me. Something about snapping a shot of me and my beau with a city or an elephant behind us just seemed so “once in a lifetime” it had to be done.

Lucky for me 2Kamp products prepared me with their selfie stick The Pole to help capture all the must-have shots on my adventure. The easy to use, portable and collapsible pole made it easy to carry in my day bag and easy to whip out on a whim as needed. It connects to your phone via bluetooth and keeps the phone safe and secure (important when holding it over the railings of a speeding boat). The battery, as I learned by accident, lasts a really effing long time. Z accidentally left it on for over15 hours straight once, and I left it on basically an entire day while keeping it at the ready. During my whole two week trip I only had to recharge once, so that was a definite perk!

Another perk? The lengthy expandable arm makes this stick great for capturing more full-body shots. Where as a regular selfie you can only get a bit of your face, The Pole allowed me to share full outfits and body shots, like the above of my beau and I enjoying Camps Bay Beach in style.

Thanks to 2Kamp I was able to capture all my favorite moments without having to ask strangers to handle my fancy camera or trusting locals to not take advantage of the tourist with the iPhone. While it’s a little intimidating to be at a breathtaking view and whip out the quintessential contraption, it was well worth it!

Have you tried using a selfie stick? What have you thought? What do you think of my selfies?! If you’re interested in trying one, be sure to grab 2Kamp’s The Pole for only $30 by clicking the underlined link!

Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary The Pole in exchange for my review. All opinions and photos are my own.

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Experience: Aquila Game Reserve

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/cd/ba/d7/cdbad79c55eeff056fd3c0ea249ea321.jpgHow have you all been enjoying my posts from my trip to South Africa so far? Envious yet!? 😛

Okay, so time to talk about my personal FAVORITE part of the trip. Everyone, and I don’t think anyone is excluded, dreams of going on an African Safari. It’s a bucket list staple so we ofcourse had to find the best way to do it on our trip. We researched and hunted and read reviews…Z wanted to go to Krueger National Park, the largest park in South Africa, where we would have to drive out into the wilderness and do some gritty camping (bugs, tents, extra things to bring). We opted to do our safari in the Karoo national park and desert, where there are an infinite amount of game reserve’s ranging from a full on wild experience to the rehabilition centers where you take lions and cheetahs on walks and feed and ride elephants. Being environmentally concious and inclined towards positive animal welfare we wanted to choose a more natural reserve. Aquila’s luxury accommodation’s made it the winning ticket.


We drove two hours from Cape Town, through gorgeous mountains and wineries, avoiding wild baboons, and arrive to be greeted with fresh champagne and lunch. We relaxed poolside before heading out to our first game drive. It was a beautiful day and all the animals seemed to agree; we saw elephants, giraffes, zebras, rhinos, springbok, ostriches, elans, wildabeast, lions…the list goes on, but the gist of it is that our expert tour guide (who has worked there for over 9 years) was able to find us all the wildlife efficiently and safely (though some rhinos did like to follow us rather closely). It was magnificent to see wildlife being wild; rhinos fighting elephants, lions eating a zebra, and hippos bathing in mud.

After a long four hours of exploring (and that tasty stop for champers and photo ops) we headed to our cabin and back to the main lodge for dinner. We had an individual cabin to ourselves complete with a patio, chairs, outdoor shower, and large soaking tub. Perfect for post-dinner romantic relaxing with a bottle of wine before calling it a night.

Day two had us up before the sun to catch the gorgeous sunrise as the animals awaken. We woke up to a Cape Buffalo outside of the fence to our cabin; cuh-razy. Though we missed most animals due to them probably still sleeping we saw cheetahs,buffalo, wildabeast, ostriches and…a leopard! We had a full breakfast and lounged around the luxury setting before heading on our way.

I’m so so happy we chose the Aquila Game Reserve for our African Safari. Our tour guide Timothy was so knowledgeable yet casual and was able to ensure we got the most of our experience. The lodging was cozy and exceptional, and I loved that it was a short two hour drive from Cape Town. If you’re headed to Africa (and I advise South Africa), I urge you to go to Aquila. And request Timothy if you can!

What do you think of my experience? Are you thinking about a trip to Africa?! Let me know what you think in the comments!

Disclaimer: I was comp’d a two day, one night stay at the Aquila Game Reserve. All photos and opinions expressed are my own.

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Oh, Baby, Every Morning There are Mountains To Climb

When we were young, we used to live so close to it
And we were scared and we were beautiful
And when I peered over the edge and seen death, if we are always the same

Before I delve into all the photos from my African safari and the amazing wildlife and scenery I saw during my stay at the Aquila Game Reserve I’m going to share with you one outfit post. After reading up on proper safari attire, Z and I opted for neutral earthy tones to wear to best blend in with the surroundings of the Karoo. The layers provided us with the perfect coverage for the 4 hour drive, including a stop for some bubbling champagne and enjoying the views overlooking a clearing of zebras and rhinos. Can we say amazing once in a lifetime experience #takemeback !?

Let me know what you think of our looks, and be sure you’re following me to see more of my trip to South Africa!

On Me:
Free People trousers (similar here)
The Hanger top
Banana Republic Sweater
Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars
Anthropologie sunglasses

On Z:
Khakis by ASOS (shop styles here)
Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars
Ray Ban sunglasses

when I get up, this is what I see
Welcome to reality

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Packing Essentials

As you’re reading this I’m far away from land; flying over the African continent as I make my way to South Africa for a glorious two weeks with my boyfriend to celebrate our anniversary. Here’s a peak into some of what I packed for the trip! (because I know y’all love a good flatlay)

The Carry On:

In the Suitcase:

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South Africa Wish List

J.Crew passport cover, Linell Ellis clutch

The flights have been booked, the window seats chosen, the AirBnB secured, the day trips booked…I’m ready for my next big trip! If you’ve been following me on Twitter you’ll know where I’m headed, but for those of you who don’t…it’s South Africa! I depart in less than a month, spending a one-day layover in London (my first time), two days in Johannesburg just in time for Fashion Week (seriously, NYFW is for newbs; time to go international!), and then a full week in the glorious Cape Town. With under a month to go I’m in full acquisition mode, trying to make sure I have anything and everything I may need, sartorial and otherwise.

Here’s a peak into what I’m hoping to be packing…

For Love and Lemons “Antigua Mini Dress”; for a casual yet trendy date out; hoping this won’t be too skin-baring, but paired with a leather jacket I think it will perfect (and maybe even a good look for Fashion Week!).

Going with the spring trend of “cool girl gingham”, a printed midi skirt is a perfect-for-layering multi-use piece to have packed. It could be worn with sandals and a tee for casual exploring, or with a button up for a more dressed up vibe. Definitely a piece to wear for the wineries, too!

When you go to Africa, you like, have to go on a safari. This Philip Lim dress is the perfect dress for four-wheeling around the desert amongst the wildlife, though this vintage-lover will probably end up in a thrifted Banana Republic (they did begin as safari wear, did you know!?)

As for footwear, I’ll be bringing a bunch of my favorites but am coveting some cozy yet sporty-trendy flat sandals. These glammed up Steve Madden’s are perfect for pairing with cuffed denim or flirty dresses.

And, because I’ll be in Africa and on the coast and diving into pools, one swimsuit isn’t enough. This Kiini Swimsuit is the perfect blend of bohemian trendy and bold colors to play off the natural scenery. #gimme

Case of Love Camera bag (for toting around and keeping my camera safe), from Fashion Week to the beach; shark diving and the safari, this bag will be chic yet purposeful.

Something about polka dots screams “flirty and fabulous”, and this being an anniversary trip with my love, that is definitely the vibe I’m going for. I’m thinking this Rock Frock dress for a day date of exploring the city innards.


Have you ever traveled to Cape Town or Johannesburg? What would YOU pack?

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