We had a very enjoyable trip to Victoria Falls, back to the Republic of South Africa (via Botswana) for a typical safari experience in the Northwest Province at Madikwe Game Reserve, and then a week in the Cape. Our travel agency suggested the Victoria Falls stop and Elephant Camp in particular. Elephant Camp was very nice (and we were in the intimate four "tent" family camp that opened just in March) with excellent service and good food. However, our agent oversold the opportunity to interact with the somewhat tamed elephants on the Wild Horizons/Elephant Camp Reserve. We had literally no more than five minutes with the elephants, feeding them, so far less than we expected. We enjoyed the visit to Victoria Falls National Park, as well as a canoe safari on the Zambezi above the falls. We also very much enjoyed our time at Madikwe Safari Lodge, a very nice facility with an excellent guide, good food, but not always top-rate service. However, I wish the agent had suggested the opportunity to fly in and out of Madikwe because it has an air strip, and this would have saved us a great deal of travel time doing mostly road transfers to and from Madikwe. Our travel company was responsive to our requests for particular accommodations in Franschhoek and Cape Town, though they were different than the accommodations suggested by Born Free. In both cases, we enjoyed our choices very much, as much because of location as because of the facilities themselves. In Zimbabwe and Madikwe, service was not always up to par at all facilities, and meals were not always as excellent as we expected, but our travel company is not responsible for this.
When our son left his Kindle on one of the transfers, Born Free helped track it down and get it sent by courier to catch up with us at Cape Town. This was very helpful, but instead of charging us the cost of the courier and telling us what that cost was, they passed onto us the round figure of ZAR 500. I would have preferred transparency on that. One of the other transfer operators officiously collected form the safari lodge things of ours (plaster imprints of animal tracks) we had asked them for--she did this while we were having breakfast our last morning. But then the transfer operator forgot to give the things to us when she dropped us off at Oliver Tambo Airport--even though they were on the front seat of the van next to her! Again, we were able to get these items sent by courier to catch up with us on Cape Town, but I didn't think we should bear the cost of that.
The safari experience in Madikwe Game Reserve (seeing lions on a kill; watching wild dog pups frolic); visiting Cape Town (Cape Point Nature Reserve, Table Mountain Cableway, Robben Island, shopping Greenmarket Square); relaxing in Franschhoek (a few very good meals, down time, wine tasting, hiking Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve); game viewing from the Zambezi River on both sunset cruise and canoe safari; Victoria Falls and Batoka Gorge. We did self drive in the Cape, and that worked well for us.
We would try to cut travel time by flying in and out of Madikwe Game Reserve. Also, I would take more cash than I did to Zimbabwe and then into Madikwe. We underestimated how much cash we would want for tipping in Zimbabwe and then in Madikwe, with no opportunity to visit an ATM between the two.
I also wish that our travel company had prompted us to think in advance about whether we wanted a single or multiple entry visa into Zimbabwe. Confronted with this choice at Victoria Falls Airport, we assumed we would only need a single entry visa because we were only there for three days. In fact, this kept us from signing up for a Chobe (Botswana) safari on one of our days, and it also prevented us walking across the Victoria Falls Bridge into Zambia, things we might otherwise have done.
I also wish that our travel company had noted that, though low season in the Cape, we were in Franschhoek--a destination for gourmands--on a bank holiday weekend. This made it hard for us to get reservations at good restaurants on short notice. The concierge at The Last Word, where we stayed, helped us get into some reasonably good dinner venues on very short notice, but I am surprised that the travel company was not on top of this issue given the dates of our travel.
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