Once in a lifetime experience. Can't even describe what it's like to go on Safari and come so close to all kinds of Wild Animals. Going on Safari should be on everyone's bucket list. Stephanie at this South Africa safari travel agency was terrific at helping us plan the perfect trip. We chose to combine a safari with a tour of Capetown and a drive up the Garden Route. It was the perfect balance of sightseeing, hiking, beaches and safari. Loved that she had arranged a guide for us in Capetown since thatvwas our first stop and we were unfamiliar with South Africa (not to mention jet lagged!) We were a bit worried that moving from place to place was going to be a burden but it worked out great. We had one mix up along the garden route where the activities we wanted to do were an hours drive from where we were staying (no thanks to road construction!) and the SA travel agent was more than happy to try and help us figure out logistics. Looking back, it was actually my husband and I who had suggested tweaking the itinerary that probably lead to the long drives that day! If we had kept to Stephanie's original itinerary, we would have avoided the long drive back to our accommodations. So happy that we used this agency to help us plan such a wonderful trip. We truly were able to relax and enjoy the vacation knowing everything was taken care of once we got there.
Going on Safari in Madikwe was definitely the highlight! Saw all the big 5. It was not crowded and everyone we met were so friendly. Got to watch an entire heard of over 70 elephants play in the river right outside our lodge. Also enjoyed zip line at tsitsikamma falls. Monkeyland and Birds of Eden (you can get a combo ticket) near Plettenberg Bay were worth the stops. The Birds are absolutely amazing and very easy to view and photograph. Great care went into creating the aviary and it is an incredible place to visit and have lunch overlooking the pond. Monkey land was a lot of fun and you only need a little over an hour to take the tour there. It was very educational and a great way to view and photograph many kinds of monkeys up close. Right near Monkeyland is Tenikwa Wildlife center. We had booked a tour and sunset walk with the cheetahs in advance. It was quite the experience. They actually allow you into the cheetah cages. On the walk through the forest you can pet the cheetahs and take photos with them. The tour was extremely educational and the staff at the wildlife center are very passionate about all of the cats and about educating the public about the importance of protecting these animals. Another highlight of our trip was hiking to Kaaimans waterfall in Wilderness National park which is on the Garden Route near the city of George.
Would stay longer than 2weeks! Everyone we met would tell us all about other sights to see in countries surrounding South Africa. Apparently traveling from country to country in Africa is very easy and quite common. Wish we would have visited Botswana, Victoria Falls and possibly had a second safari in Kruger park. We skipped Kruger because we wanted only malaria free parks but in hindsight we wished we had visited. Everyone we spoke to who had been to Kruger said there is nothing else like it. If we had not had to be in Jo'burg for work, we would have skipped Johannasberg all together. It is very unsafe and all neighborhoods are completely gated. Our guide for the day said she would never ever drive into the downtown area of the city as the crime is so high and it is dangerous to even stop at a red light! We did enjoy our guided tour of Soweto which is an urban settlement (township) bordering Jo'burg. It's history with apartheid and its ties to Nelson Mandella were very interesting. It's a great tour to take after a visit to the apartheid museum.
Another thing we personally would do differently is to not stay stay in such nice accommodations. The places we stayed were really nice with beautiful views, relaxing pools, etc. but we could not take advantage of any of it because we were on the move so much and we didn't want to spend our time at our accommodations. We wanted to be out hiking, exploring and experiencing the city. But there is something to be said for letting the experts book your accommodations because the one hotel we booked ourselves in Jo'burg (for work) was the worst hotel of all! The service was horrible! Wish we had let the travel agent help with that!
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