Girl Kruger Safari Jeep There's no denying that I'm a words, facts and figures girl. I use this blog to provide information which will help plan another person's trip rather than show staged, picture-perfect moments which don't reflect what travelling is really like. But, when I was editing my photos from Kruger, I fell in love with TOO many photos and couldn't resist sharing them all with you! Words don't do a safari trip justice and it's always been known that pictures speak a thousand words. So here's a big old round-up of our time in Kruger National Park! Kruger Giraffe Looking At Camera Kruger Kudu Looking Into Distance Kruger Kudu Kruger Elephant and Baby walking towards cameraKruger Elephant and Baby crossing road Kruger Wild Zebra Blue Bird Glossy Starling Kruger Kruger Eagle Sitting in Tree Kruger Warthog Pumba Kruger Small Antelope Kruger Eagle Sitting By Water Kruger lion sleeping in road Kruger Bird in Trees Kruger Anxious AntelopeKruger Giraffe and Vulture

KRUGER NATIONAL PARK - DAY ONE 

To be sure that we were in Kruger National Park at the time the gates were opening, we set off early after a 4.30am wake up call (which sounds horrid but is TOTALLY worth it for a safari). The joys of being on an organised safari jeep is that you can skip the big long queue of ordinary cars trying to enter the park. Our guide quickly sorted out our conservation fees and before we knew it, we were face to face with antelope, wildebeest and giraffe right by the entrance gate! Within 5 minutes we had our first sighting of one of the "big 5" as a herd of buffalo were standing by the side of the road - I took this as a sign that we were in for a good day (spoiler: I wasn't wrong). Throughout the course of the day, I was continually surprised by how many animals we managed to spot. With all of the usual suspects (lions, giraffe, zebra, elephants, buffalo, wildebeest, antelope, kudu, crocodiles, hippos, warthogs, a plethora of bird types) and even a lone rhino now ticked off our list, we wondered how on earth there could be more to see?! Every safari jeep driver that we passed on this day was VERY excited as the elusive leopard had been spotted on multiple occasions. We went on a very long drive searching for it in one particular hot spot to no avail. Normally, this would have been fine, but our first day in South Africa was FREEZING and we were all huddled under blankets in the open top safari jeep. Then, just as we were about to leave, our incredible guide managed to spot the very well camouflaged leopard through some bushes. Lets just say that leopards are very well disguised and very fast, any photographic evidence I have of this beauty is poor but I feel very lucky to have even caught a glimpse of him! To then have our exit blocked by a male lion who decided to sleep right in the middle of the road meant that the big cats really stole the show at the end of the day! Kruger Crocodile by water Kruger giraffe looking into the distance Kruger bird Kruger Kazoo Lion King bird Kruger Lizard on tree trunk Two zebra in Kruger Kruger warthog by watering hole Kruger zebra by watering hole Kruger bird whispering to antelope Kruger elephants playing in water Kruger antelope eating from tree Kruger hippo yawning in water Kruger baboon sitting in tree Kruger kudu in the treesKruger four elephants under tree Kruger lions sunbathing on rock Kruger giraffe packKruger baby giraffe crossing the roadKruger baby giraffe Kruger rhino with horn

KRUGER NATIONAL PARK - DAY TWO

We opted for a half day game drive of Kruger on our second day and as nobody else else had booked this option, we got to choose our departure time and of course gave ourselves a bit of a lay-in! Having the entire jeep to ourselves proved to be a blessing as we could dictate exactly what we would like to try and see - in our case, rhinos! Our second day was MUCH warmer than the first and we ended up stripping off all of the extra layers of clothing we had brought after the previous day's freeze-fest! I can confirm that there is NOTHING better than driving through beautiful African bush-land with the sun shining on your face. With the weather being much warmer, the animals were displaying completely different behaviours to the previous day. While we were very happy after our first day on safari and thought that there wasn't anything further we could witness, I am so glad we chose to do a second day. We may have seen the same animals, but the experience couldn't have been more different. Today we really got to see the animals mingle with each other. At one large watering-hole, huge packs of zebras, wildebeest, giraffe and antelope lived in harmony bathing and drinking. While on the other side of the lake, the crocodiles and hippos were keeping cool. Four huge elephants all gathered under one tiny tree, fighting for shade (maybe the heat affects an elephant's ability to live up to their wise and intelligent stereotype). After watching so many animals peacefully co-existing, it was a shock to the system when we encountered a group of baboon. One baboon was a little bit cray-cray and displayed very aggressive behaviours towards the other animals before turning his attention to our truck. Thankfully he jumped at the driver's door (who obviously knew how to deal with the situation) - there's no way I would have been able to take him on! Towards the end of our day, our driver made a sudden stop and we we left wondering what on earth he had seen.  Low and behold a lone rhino could be seen in the distance and he appeared to be walking straight towards us! Safari drivers have INSANE vision and should not be underestimated! We spent around 30 minutes watching this slow giant plodding towards us (but never quite reaching us). With no other cars around and the sun beaming, it couldn't have been more peaceful and perfect. It is so hard to understand how anyone can hurt these incredible creatures causing them to be near to extinction. All in all, I have come back from my safari trip with more respect for animals than I could have ever imagined (apart from that nasty baboon). Have you ever been on safari? What's your favourite photo?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. Danielle1

   

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Peak District Sheep Peak District Couple The Peak District is somewhere that I have ALWAYS wanted to visit (if you can't tell from that happy face above). So when we were arranging to see my dad’s cousin in the Stockport area, I made sure that the Peak District was incorporated into our itinerary! After spending Saturday with family at Tatton Park (Knutsford), we were ready to make the long drive home on Sunday with a detour through the Peak District. This was just a “taster” of the area and I REALLY want to go back, but if you only have a day, here’s what you can get up to in the Peak District!

RELATED: The Peak District was actually on my list of places I am dying to visit in 2017 - find out where else I want to visit here!

Just Drive Through the Peak District

Peak District Winnatt’s Pass One of the best things that you can do is just drive (or walk if you have more time!). The area is so scenic that you are bound to stumble across some gems. This happened to us when stumbled across Winnatt’s Pass (thank you to Barefoot Backpacker for identifying my Instagram photo for me)!

Head for Epic View Points / Caves

Peak District Landscape Scenery Peak District Friends Family Peak District Girl Pink Raincoat Next up, we were driving without real purpose towards Blue John Cavern (if you didn’t know, the Peak District is home to many really impressive networks of underground caves and caverns). After struggling to actually find the entrance and car parking areas being full (it was a sunny morning after all), we got highly distracted and just spent time at an incredible viewpoint that our Sat Nav had led us to on route!

Bakewell

Peak District Bakewell Tarts Bakewell Town Centre Bakewell Church Bakewell Cute Houses As an avid fan of Bakewell Tarts, the town of Bakewell has been on my radar for years but I’d never been. Although stories say that Bakewell Tarts don’t actually originate from Bakewell and instead the Bakewell Pudding is the local delicacy. Most shops sold both and of course we had to try both! The town of Bakewell is truly picturesque and is definitely worth having a wander around. We first went for lunch in a cute little café, took a stroll around the main town, visited the beautiful church, went on a hunt for Bakewell and finished our time here by sitting in the sun at the edge of the river feeding the ducks. All in all, it was the perfect little stop-off!

Chatsworth House

Chatsworth House Chatsworth House is probably one of the more famous destinations in the Peak District and as you would expect, on this sunny day, the grounds and car park were absolutely heaving with people. We wanted to have a wander around the grounds and not necessarily the house (we had been warned that the house warrants around half a day to fully explore and we simply didn’t have the time). Given how busy it was, we snapped a few pictures and quickly left. But the house is really gorgeous and such an impressive building. Next time I am in the Peak District and I have a bit more time on my hands, I will do a proper stop-off!

Haddon Hall

Haddon Hall After spotting signs for Haddon Hall near Chatsworth House, we decided to follow them, hoping that we would be able to do a similar quick stop off to admire the building before making the long journey home. Unfortunately, we had no such luck! It cost us £3 to park and with no view of the hall. When we walked through to the “admissions area”, we could only see the very top of the hall over some high hedges and trees – with admission at a steep £14.50 per person and us being pushed for time, we decided to give this one a miss! One thing we did learn was if you are looking to hit some of the main attractions in the Peak District, it can lead to being a very pricey day out (especially as there were 5 of us)! Everything has an admission price and a parking price – but never fear, the surroundings are so gorgeous that I would happily drive/walk around and not have to pay a penny! Have you ever been to the Peak District before? What was your favourite part?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. Danielle1

       
IMG_4112 v2 We were up bright and early on our second morning in Toronto (although not entirely by our own doing, our body clocks were still stuck on silly UK time - I'm sure time changes never used to affect me this badly - am I getting old?!) but getting up early was for good reason - WE WERE GOING TO NIAGARA FALLS! I've said before that the areas of North America that interest me the most are the National Parks and places of natural beauty, so it's safe to say that Niagara falls has been on my North America bucket list since the beginning of time! My family wanted to book a guided tour for Niagara as we weren't in Toronto for long, so ease was more important than cost (for once in my life!) - we wanted our tour guide to pick us up from the hotel, tell us everything we need to know and bring us back when we want with no hanging around waiting for public transport. My dad found Gerardo on "Tours By Locals" and his tour fit the bill!

Helicopter Ride over the Falls

IMG_4107 v2IMG_4112 v2IMG_4128 v2IMG_4130 v2 After a long chit-chat with Gerardo in the car about anything and everything, from the history of the area to Brexit and Trump, we arrived at the falls! Before heading down to explore immediately, Gerardo spotted that there wasn't anyone in the car park for the heliport, so we headed straight over for a spontaneous flight! Getting to the falls early in the morning means that you are ahead of all the coaches and tour bus' that arrive later in the day - apparently the queues for the helicopter rides can become horrendous. Flights are around 144 CAD per person, so it's a pricey experience but definitely worth it. As you are lifted into the air, you are reassured that the model of the helicopter is one of the newest, safest and quietest on the planet - so if you're scared of flying, this could be the best place to have your first helicopter trip! I'll let the photos speak for themselves now!

Walking the Length of the Falls

IMG_4138 v2IMG_4201 v2IMG_4234 v2IMG_4236 v2IMG_4131 v2 Next up, we drove closer to the falls and were given some free time to explore, wander around and take pictures. We started near the American falls and walked down to the Canadian "horseshoe" falls, stopping at practically every photo opportunity along the way (yes... I know it's just falling water and can't look THAT different). Visiting in Winter meant that there was a lot of mist coming off of the falls, but we were still able to see everything and the surrounding area had a light layer of snow - perfect! Journey Behind the Falls IMG_4267 v2You've probably all seen photos of people standing on a ridge right next to the falls, unfortunately, this access point was closed during Winter, but we were still able to complete the rest of the "journey behind the falls" - and because of the closure, the tickets were discounted to about 8 CAD! This experience takes you through tunnels behind the falls. Along the way, there are openings in the tunnel which mean you are quite literally standing behind a sheet of water - don't worry you can't get wet (unless you are a bit silly and jump over the protective barriers).

Clifton Hill

IMG_4281 v2 The Journey Behind the Falls marked the end of our time at the actual waterfalls, so we headed further in-land to explore the local area before meeting up with Gerardo for the rest of our tour/the ride home. Clifton Hill is located on the Canadian side of the falls and was described to us as "Canada's answer to Orlando or Las Vegas" - to me it gave off more of a "Southend-On-Sea" or "Great Yarmouth" vibe. Essentially, this road is a tourist trap filled with amusement rides, tourist memorabilia shops, waxwork museums, candy shops etc. It's safe to say that Clifton HIll is not my cup of tea, but whatever floats your boat! On a serious note, how many waxwork museums can you fit in one small area?! We saw SO many!

Niagara On The Lake

IMG_4312 v2IMG_4320 v2On our way back to Toronto, we stopped at the SUPER cute town of Niagara on the Lake. Every shop was perfectly designed and adorable! We spent about 30 minutes walking around, visiting all of the shops (and trying the foods they had to offer hehe).

Ice Wine Tasting 

IMG_4331 v2During our trip, Gerardo mentioned "ice wine" which we had seen advertised in different shops but didn't know what it meant! Apparently ice wine is a Canadian speciality where the wine is made from grapes that have been frozen on the vine. On our way back to the city, Gerardo took us to a ice wine tasting session (unfortunately I didn't catch the name of the place). We sampled 3 different types of ice wine and ended up buying a bottle with apricot undertones - yum!

More Things to Do! 

As always, I didn't get to do absolutely EVERYTHING that Niagara has to offer, but to make sure you are as filled-to-the-brim with knowledge as physically possible, here's all the other bits and bobs you can do during your visit! Boat Rides As we were visiting in Winter, we were unable to do a boat ride up to the falls, however I've heard great things about the trip in Summer! IMAX Niagara Falls If you're not feeling too adventurous, there's an IMAX theatre to show you sweeping views of the falls with a 4D twist! Skylon Tower Niagara Do you fancy food with a great view of the falls? Head to Skylon Tower! We decided to skip out on this experience given that we ate dinner in the CN Tower the night beforehand and the two look pretty similar, albeit the views are completely different! Fireworks and Illuminations During the Winter, the falls are lit up in varying different colours at night - we didn't get to experience this as we took a day-time trip but it looks great! Have you ever been to Niagara Falls? What was your favourite part? Or if you're planning a trip, what are you looking forward to the most?!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Danielle1

So US National Park week is coming to an end (16 April - 24 April 2016) and I thought this would be the perfect time to talk about my current favourite place in the US. The Grand Canyon is incredible - there's no two ways about it. I visited back in 2010 (hence the slightly dodgy hair in the photos) and I would recommend it to anyone. We were staying in Las Vegas and made our way to the Canyon for a day trip. I know that a lot of people say you can't see the Grand Canyon without flying over it - I beg to differ! There were 7 of us on the trip, so not only would this be ridiculously expensive, it would also have been inconvenient given you can't fit 7 people in a helicopter! We settled on the Grand Adventures Sunset Tour and it was the perfect day! You leave Vegas early and make your way to the Hoover Dam for a quick photo stop (my top tip is to not accidentally lean on the metal railing around the dam when it's a billion degrees outside... I practically suffered third degree burns on my leg...). You then hop back into the minibus and have a few more stops in local Arizona towns - a really interesting insight into rural American lifestyle. Then you arrive at the big finale! The Grand Canyon! I really don't think pictures do this place justice (especially mine as they are taken on a 2010 DSLR which isn't half as good quality as cameras these days!). I would love to go back and take the time to photograph and wander around more. Given that the name is the "sunset tour", you obviously get to see the sunset over the Canyon and it's safe to say that it is a beautiful sight! One of the things that made our tour really special is that our tour guide George was a professional photographer and made us pull all sorts of crazy poses, meaning we got some really great family photos! If I remember rightly, it was announced on Facebook that George left the company a few years ago, but I'm sure the other tour guides are just as great! If I was in the US over the past week, I would have absolutely loved to take advantage of National Park Week! Who wouldn't want free entry into some of the most beautiful areas of the states?! There are so many ways that you can see the Grand Canyon - just to name a few, you should look into hiking, flying, the skywalk, the grand canyon railway, horse riding and water-rafting!  So make sure you do your research and find something that works for you. Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon? How did you experience it?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Danielle1