The Garden Route

Cortney Cordero
August 10, 2015

When I was planning out my trip, I was hesitant to sign up for the IES field trips because I was worried about the added prices. I knew in my heart that I really wanted to go on the Kruger trip because I’ve always wanted to go on safari, and I figured this was my chance. I didn’t think that the Garden Route was going to mean as much to me as Kruger would, but upon further thought, I decided to just go on both the trips. My original thought process was that the trip was scheduled to happen on the first weekend I was here, and if for nothing else, it would be a time of getting to know the people in the program. But by the end, the Garden Route is where I had some of my favorite days and nights so far in South Africa.

The trip was three days and two nights, but by the end, it felt like it had been a week with all the things we got to do. I fed and sat on ostriches, I pet a cheetah, played with lemurs, walked through caves that are millennia old, rode an elephant, fed and walked elephants, and got to do this all while making new friendships with the people in my program. In between all this, we got to meet and talk to South African people with so much purpose, whether it be protecting and conserving animal life, helping the less fortunate with the little they have, or trying to make travelers proud of their country as they walk through it.

I met a man named Clifford who runs a rehabilitation shelter out of his grotto-home. He gives the homeless shelter while they look for work to get back onto their feet. I got to walk through his cave and see the way he’s decorated it with beach-treasure and memorabilia he’s accumulated through the years. I got to learn about elephants and speak to the people ensuring that these  creatures will be around for years to come. I got to taste ostrich meat, which is surprisingly more like steak than like chicken. At every twist and turn on the Garden Route, I was collecting new experiences and knowledge that I will never forget. I may not have realized it in the moment, but I also gained such pride in the country I will call home for the duration of my stay. I admired its selflessness, its strength, and its resiliency.

As for food and accommodation, it was amazing. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were all fabulous, and all the IES students and staff on this trip ate to their heart’s content. There were plenty of options for those eating vegetarian, pescatarian, keeping kosher, etc. Accommodations for the two nights we stayed were great as well. The staff was attentive, warm, and welcoming, and the rooms were beautiful.

I definitely underestimated the Garden Route trip, but it has given me experiences that I would never trade. Those are definitely memories I’ll keep with me forever, and I’m so thankful that I decided to take the trip to the Garden Route. It may have meant extra cash out of my pocket, but in the end, the dollar sign didn’t seem like that much compared to what I’d gained.


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Cortney Cordero

<div>Cortney Cordero is a senior majoring in journalism at Hofstra University with a minor in creative writing. This New&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">Yorker has wanted to travel to Africa since she was in Kindergarten. This fall, her dream is finally coming true, and she&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">wants to share her experience with you.</span></div>

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