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South African Adventure

Sep 12, 2013 | Africa, Our Travels | 0 comments

South Africa is one of the most exciting destinations to visit, especially if you are interested in history, wildlife, adventure and staying at some of the best luxury lodges found anywhere in the world.

During the month of August, I hosted 6 clients on an African adventure. We booked through &Beyond, a company that manages 32 luxury lodges throughout Africa and India. They are an experienced luxury, lodge operator but they had their challenges in coordinating our complicated itinerary so I am glad I was involved to ensure all was smoothly implemented.

We started our journey in Johannesburg which many people will say you can skip. We were thrilled that we spent a few days in this diverse city. The transformation from Apartheid days to the S. Africa of today is a story that you must hear. And there is no better person to do this than Robin Binckes. This incredible man grew up in S. Africa of old and lived through all of the changes and came out a better person from his experiences. He offers tours of the areas most involved in the Apartheid struggle and the museum that should not be missed. Reading Nelson Mandela’s book Long Walk to Freedom helped me appreciate what I was seeing.
South African Adventure 1

Victoria Falls was next on our schedule and we stayed in Zambia to see both sides of the falls. Zimbabwe is the more dramatic side although only 25% of the falls are in Zimbabwe.

South African Adventure 2
South African Adventure 3

We loved our stay at Tongabezi Lodge on the Zambezi River. Imagine being woken each day to the sounds of hippos right outside your window.  Henry, the resident hippo, would even visit our lodge at night while he scrounged for food. Hippos are dangerous but fascinating creatures.

South African Adventure 4
South African Adventure 5

To spice up our trip a little, we “walked” with the lions at a conservation park for lions. We petted and walked with 17-month old lions. We thought we would be with cubs. Boy, were we surprised.

South African Adventure 6
South African Adventure 7

In order to experience animal life at the river, we boarded the Zambezi Queen river boat on the Chobe river for 2 nights. With over 120,000 elephants along the Chobe, we really got to see elephant life close-up and other creatures. The Zambezi Queen itself is a 3/4 star experience but the sites were 5-star.

South African Adventure 8

South African Adventure 9Our Safari adventure was next. We had 2 lodges lined up from &Beyond in 2 very different private game reserves. We started in Phinda in the south east of S. Africa. Here we came to see Cheetah, Giraffes, Zebras and Rhinos – all of which we saw in abundance. The food was excellent, the lodge cozy during the cool nights and the overall care of us as guests outstanding. The best part of being on a private game reserve is how close to the animals you can be. They are completely disinterested in the jeeps and us.

Leadwood Lodge in Sabi Sands (next to Kruger National Park) was our next destination. The rooms at this lodge were huge and fabulous. Leadwood staff went out of their way to provide special experiences each and every day.

South African Adventure 10
South African Adventure 11

Sabi Sands has an abundance of Elephants, Leopards, and Lions. The sites we saw at Leadwood were more dramatic than those at Phinda with sightings of several predators feeding on their catch
A pride of lions resting after devouring their recent prey.

South African Adventure 12
South African Adventure 13

After 6 nights on safari, we headed to the beautiful city of Cape Town. We stayed at a lovely Guest House called Four Rosmead, located in a residential area, with views of Table Mountain out our bedroom window. (I toured the Cape Grace Hotel down at the waterfront area, which is surrounded by restaurants and shops–another great place to stay.)

We spent 4 days in Cape Town to see: Cape Point, the Winelands region, Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 18 years), and the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront area. A visit to S. Africa MUST include a stay in Cape Town.

I have traveled to a lot of countries in the world but S. Africa had the most profound impact. It is a trip to do at least once in your lifetime and not to be missed.

The flight is long and needs to be flown in Business Class or First. This is a great destination to use points to fly to since it is so expensive. Award flights are not easy to come by but it is possible if you plan far ahead.