Trip of a lifetime! After filling out the form on Zicasso, we had two travel companies send us a bid and we went with a South Africa tour operator. This travel company did a terrific job. As time was tight, (we booked about 5 -6 weeks before leaving) I did not have a chance for much back and forth with our travel company and put a lot of trust in their suggested itinerary and accommodations. They were all great. They even made dinner reservations for us in Stellenbosch and Capetown and some of the better restaurants. While on vacation I came down with bronchitis and the hotel was able to get me antibiotics without even seeing anyone. Our travel agent followed up with me at each subsequent destination to make sure I was doing ok. (Fortunately I was fine once I got the antibiotics.)
We started with a safari in Shamwari in the Eastern Cape at Bayethe Lodge which was great. Accommodations, service, and game drives were all outstanding. We were there four days and saw the big 5, plus much more. We then went to Knysna and stayed at Kanonkop Guest House for two nights. Kanonkop house is a family run business and they could not have been nicer. Made recommendations on what to see and do and arranged reservations and transportation as needed. (They even got me my antibiotics.) We then flew to Capetown and were met at the airport by our driver/guide who was with us for the next four days. Our guide was also tremendous and went out of his way to get or arrange anything we needed and was very interesting and fun to be with. After our arrival in Capetown we immediately drove up to Stellenbosch and stayed at Majeka House which was also beautiful. We had dinner at Rust en Vrede and had a six course tasting dinner with wine pairings that was absolutely delicious. Highly recommend. After two nights in Stellenbosch, our guide took us back to Capetown where we stayed at Cape Royale Hotel which was also beautiful. We had a huge two bedroom, two bath apartment with a full kitchen and a washer/dryer. Our guide took us to see all the sights in the area and even arranged a private tour of one of the townships on the fly. Capetown was beautiful and the surrounding area was beautiful too. After three nights in Capetown we left for Kruger and stayed at Simbavati River Lodge for two nights before leaving for home. While very nice it was not on par with our other accommodations and would have been fine had we started there but was a bit of a letdown following the other top shelf accommodations we had stayed in. The staff were very nice, the game drives were great and we had a great time it was just that our tent was a bit small, dark and a bit cramped. Each part of the trip was memorable so it would be hard to pick out the best. Game drives and seeing the animals in their natural environment is an unusual and special experience. The people in South Africa could not have been nicer and the country, food, wine, sites, animals...made it the best trip my wife and I have ever gone on and we have told our friends that South Africa should be on their bucket list. Our daughter who was studying at Stellenbosch for a semester abroad, and we visited while there, also loved her experience and was not happy about having to return home.
This was not a restful trip. As it is so far away from home every day was action packed during our 2 week stay as there is so much to see and do. More time would have been great but work schedule would not allow that. The second safari while in a more rustic environment and a slightly different climate was not all that much different from our first Safari. With the extra travel time that it entailed for just two nights I think another night in Stellenbosch and in Capetown would have been a better use of our time. I do hope that we can make it back as it was so enjoyable....but then there are many places we have yet to see so who knows.
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