Overall, the trip by this travel agency was impeccably organized. There were no hitches with the transfers and pickups. The accommodations, with the exception of one, were terrific, and even the one we didn't like in Johannesburg, was totally comfortable. We didn't like how far it was from the airport and since we were only staying for a few hours overnight to catch a flight, it seemed a wasted luxury. It's a sad truth that you have to do a trip once to know how to do it better the next time. Even though the Garden Route from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town was beautiful, driving in a car (unless it's through the bush to track a cheetah) for hours and hours wasn't worth it. I would have preferred more days in Cape Town. If I had to do it over again, I would have started with Victoria Falls, cruised the Chobe River for two days, gone to Mala Mala for more than three days, and ended the trip with Cape Town. But the itinerary is a collaboration between the agent and you, so you have to take responsibility for lots of what goes on. It's really important to reveal your likes and dislikes to the travel agent because it helps them choose the right places for you. I would not hesitate to use this company again. It was very expensive, but they really delivered.
Hands down it was staying at Mala Mala Game Reserve. We should have stayed more than three nights. I cried when we left. We met fantastic guests and wanted to take our guide home with us. Our guide asked us each morning what we wanted to see, and lo and behold, he filled our requests. It was reassuring to see the wildlife. We had been to East Africa in 1975, and actually were a little nervous that we wouldn't see the number of animals we saw back then. Though it's a different experience (we watched the migration in East Africa), we saw plenty of animals, easily capturing images of the Big Five. Watching two wily female lions swipe a kill away from a male, and hearing the bone-crunching sounds of a leopard eating an impala before it was stolen by a hyena are memories I won't forget. On another note, don't miss the gorgeous beaded animal shop MonkeyBizz in Cape Town. The story behind the beadwork is a good one (I hope it's true!)
I included some of this in the first part of the survey. In addition, though, the flights from San Francisco to South Africa and back were brutally long especially with the layovers in London and Johannesburg. I wish I would have allowed a few days in London before continuing on to S.A.
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