For more than 50 years my wife and I have been inveterate, but usually independent, travelers. With little time to study and prepare for a once in a lifetime trip to South Africa from the USA, we turned to a comprehensive agency, to which we had been referred by Zicasso. They made all of the plans for us, aside from the international travel, since we would be using awards and miles for that. Even though our agent was not a part of transoceanic portion of our travel, he quickly noted a flaw in my planning, and advised me to change a connecting flight, for which we were immediately impressed ang grateful.
From arrival "Meet and Greet" in Johannesburg through the final trip to the airport, everything was handled perfectly, including help during my one day illness and a last minute change in plans (for the better) regarding an elephant ride. We indicated what we wanted to see, and the types of hotels we would like to sample, and everything was as requested. The selection of Shamwari for our game visit was superb, and not something we would have discovered on our own. Every bit of the timetable functioned like the proverbial clockwork.
Without a doubt, the lodge and game experience at Eagle Crag in Shamwari was unbeatable. The countryside along the Garden Route was spectacular, and the vitality of Capetown, particularly the wharf area, was a joy. The visit to Robben Island the education we received about Nelson Mandela was sobering, moving, and very worthwhile. Victoria Falls was well worth the detour.
If we were to do it again, or advise a friend, I would certainly say that the helicopter ride over Victoria Falls should not be omitted, and we are sorry that we didn't do it. The tour company gave us the variety of first class and "boutique" hotels that we asked for, but I would prefer not to stay again at the funky Turbine Hotel in Knysna.
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