Our Friendly Planet Travel group left Cape Town (see previous blog about Cape Town) after a fantastic few days and headed out on safari. This turned out to be the highlight of our Best of South Africa trip.
After Cape Town, Day 6, (day 1 and 2 were travel days), we headed to Kruger National Park. This was a full day of travel. We flew to Johannesburg and then bussed north. The journey however was worth it.
Bill and I have always thought Safaris were crazy expensive, most of our friends would agree. Once again our Friendly Planet Travel tour group gave us an incredible experience at a great value. Our lodges were terrific, and we were fortunate to see all the animals that we ever could have imagined.
We were up close and personal in nature traveling in our own open 4×4 jeep with a tracker and a guide that seated 8. On our very first excursion in Kruger we saw the Big 5. (Elephant, Leopard, Lion, Rhino and Buffalo)! Our ranger was fantastic and we learned about the region as a family of giraffes passed in front or our jeep, impalas bolted by, kudus lounged, springboks glanced our way and endless species of birds magically appeared and went.
The next day, we headed to our second safari in a private Game Park. We drove through jaw dropping mountains and canyons… and arrived for lunch at the Shiduli Lodge in Karongwe Game Park.
It was here we reached what was for Bill and I the pinnacle of our trip. The lodge was small, elegant and personal with the most gracious and welcoming staff.
That first evening we headed out for a sunset safari with a cocktail finish in the middle of the bush. It was a cool magical night with an adrenaline pumping face to face with a gigantic elephant whose tusks we could reach out and touch. UNREAL!
On our way home we saw these regal lions resting on their rock.
Our group bonded on this portion of the trip. The 16 of us had traveled well together thus far; everyone was enthusiastic, appreciative and open to connecting with each other. But it was on the safari where we really got to spend time with each other.
I interviewed a few of my fellow travelers about their experience:
Over the 2-day stay, we went on 3 game drives and one bush walk. Each one revealed the magic of our delicate eco-system and put us face to face with animals we have only seen through wire fences.
We even walked behind a cheetah and her cub. The momma cheetah kept stopping, trying to keep them all together.
When we left from Safari to head to Johannesburg we were truly a connected unit. Johannesburg was the last piece of our Best of South Africa trip. We spent a full day at The Apartheid Museum, visiting Mandela’s home, the township of Soweto and touring the city. It was a day of living the history you could only get by being there. We were all incredibly moved.
I could go on and on about the magic of this trip. South Africa is fantastic and was enhanced by our guide Peter and our great group. However, the credit mainly goes to Friendly Planet Travel’s seamless itinerary.
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.