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My husband and I are having the best time in South Africa. We love this trip! If you’ve been following my posts on BA50’s Instagram and Facebook posts this past week, you may have gathered we are having a blast.

We have never been on a group tour where we just show up and follow someone else’s itinerary. We were both blown away by how fantastic this experience has been.

The group met just one week ago and it’s astounding how much we’ve seen. The tour is appropriately named, “The Best of South Africa.”  Friendly Planet Travel invited me to join their tour and write about my experience.

The most important takeaway from our trip, thus far, is we’ve seen the top attractions that are essential for a first visit to the region and we didn’t have to organize a thing. It’s been so easy. Our tour guide is our resident teacher who also takes care of everything: when to get up, where to gather, and where to eat.

The trips I organize are never stress free but this one is. I’m used to organizing my family trips from finding flights, guides, hotels, and top things to do in each location as well as arranging transport and all meals.

Balancing cost vs. comfort takes research. This trip has removed the planning stress on all fronts with a known cost from the outset. What is appealing for so many is the fantastic value, the price is incredibly reasonable …(under $4,000 for the 12 day trip).

Early November is the start of summer in South Africa and it’s a great time to visit. Daylight is in our favor; 5:30 sunrise and 6:30 sunset. Currently, the South African Rand is weak…over 14 Rand to $1 U.S. as of today, so travel here is cheap for Americans.

*Of special note, when signing up for a tour the guide is key. When you are living with your tour guide for 12 days, it can make all the difference in the trip.

Our Tour Guide Peter

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Peter has been an awesome tour guide. He is a smart, professional upbeat South African who has made our transitions seamless from bus to boat to meals to hotels and back again. It takes a pro to herd grown-ups and there are 16 of us. Peter’s personal stories of growing up in South Africa and being an Afrikaner  helped us understand the past and present transitioning political environment.

Cape Town:

True to its mission our Best of South Africa itinerary meant we got to see Cape Town’s top attractions, some which we would return to and spend more time at on our next trip. To give you a sense of what we packed in during our 3 days in Cape Town:

  1. Cable Car to the top of Table Mountain with hiking at the pinnacle.
  2. A historical tour of the city and a walking tour of some key neighborhoods.
  3. The Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens which was in full bloom and has fantastic walking trails. (We were unaware of the outdoor Cat Stevens concert that evening and it was sold out so check concert schedules before you go) We could have spent a half-day here.
  4. The Waterfront at the V&A which is full of shops and history and a great place to hang out. This area could take a half-day if you have it.
  5. Stellenbosch Wine Country. We went to 2 wineries and the next trip we will explore the region for a few days.
  6. A Gorgeous Coastal Drive To Cape Point to see the Cape of Good Hope and the seals of Duiker Island..

         7.The African Jackass Penguins at Boulders Beach.

African Jackass Penguin photo by felice

8.  Robben Island where Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years.

Surprisingly, there was still plenty of free time scheduled and our hotel was in walking distance to restaurants on the popular Kloof Street. My niece recommended Kloof Street House which we loved with its bohemian vibe, fresh food and set in a reclaimed old home. If we wanted to head to other parts in our free time, Uber was safe, easy and crazy cheap. The cost was about $4 for a 10 to 15 minute ride.

Next blog….Our South African Safari..

I wrote this piece while on assignment for Friendly Planet Travel group. I meant every word I wrote. It was truly a fantastic trip and I would highly recommend it.

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