No. 9 Vol. 1 July 2001
AFRICA, ZIMBABWE, ZAMBIA, BOTSWANA, AND SWAZILAND TRIP
29-JULY 21, 2001
The most memorable trip I have ever taken in my life as a travel agent, flight attendant or private person was this one to Africa, summer of 2001.
flew non-stop from Atlanta to Johannesburg via Capetown on June 30th.
After the 100 miles shuttle to Sun City, we finally checked into the Cascades
Hotel. The Hotel is encircled by a necklace of tropical gardens threaded with
tumbling waterfalls, weirs, lagoons and shaded walks - giving The Cascades
it’s name and positioning it as one of the most sought after sophisticated and
elegant hotels at Africa’s Kingdom of Pleasure: Sun City. Strikingly
beautifully colored birds and fish are at home in The Cascades gardens and lakes
that cover the gently sloping hillside. The gardens are laced with footpaths
that wind between tens of thousands of exotic and indigenous trees and flowering
plants. Unwind as you meander through the aviary or sip a long, cool refresher
while you relax next to the sparkling pool, to the accompaniment of tropical
birdsong. Kwena Gardens - open daily - is home to over 300 Nile Crocodiles and
is located just inside the main entrance of Sun City.
was fairly cold at night, since this is their winter. Days were nice and warm.
This is an amazing place. Invented mainly as a gambling Mecca, Sun City is going through a slump at this time, since gambling is allowed everywhere in South Africa. The whole city is owned by Sun International Hotels, who runs 4 hotels in the city, which charges a fee to enter. There is a beach resort within the city and an entertainment center with a convention complex.
first morning we visited the Kwena Gardens and Crocodile Farm. Sun City runs
free shuttles and a monorail within the city. We saw many huge crocs and lots of
baby crocs too.
In the afternoon, we took the game drive, our first safari in Africa. At 500 square kilometers, Pilanesberg is the third largest game reserve south of the Limpopo River. Since its official opening in 1979, 8000 large animals of over 20 species have been re-introduced, so that today the park accommodates virtually every mammal of southern Africa. As you drive through the granite outcrops imagine the cataclysmic violence that erupted in this volcano that is the Pilanesburg National Park today. This eruption created the area and gave birth to its unique rock formations some twelve million years ago. For the hills of Pilanesburg, a 50,000 hectar game sanctuary lying about 200 km northwest of the Witwatersrand in Bophuthaswana, are actually the crumbling foundations of this ancient volcanic crater - its center now serving as the beautiful setting for a man-made lake known as Mankwe, the ‘place of the leopard’.
The very topography makes the area a feast for the eyes. There are granite
koppies, thickly forested ravines, natural lakes, typical northern Transvaal
bush-veld - and also rolling grasslands and gently wooded areas more reminiscent
of central than southern Africa.
A huge variety of birds are attracted to the gardens. The thousand of trees,
shrubs and flowering plants in the carefully landscaped garden below the
Cascades Hotel include tropical palms and cycads. The paths through the dense
forest offer glimpses of 12 waterfalls and cascades, which is the central theme
of the 14-storey hotel.
We were fortunate to see the Chacma
baboon, the African elephant, the Gemsbok (oryx), the red hartebeest,
hippopotamus, brown hyena, impala, a rare sighting of the elusive leopard, white
rhinos, warthog, waterbuck, gnu or wildebeest, and zebra. We also saw several
birds such as the bee-eater, the magnificent African fish eagle, crested
francolins, Go-away birds, Grey Lourie, red and yellow-billed oxpeckers,
Egyptian geese, helmeted guinea fowl, yellow-billed hornbill, red-backed shrike,
and, many others I didn’t get their names. We saw 4 of the big 5 on our very
first safari, including the leopard. We felt very fortunate. This was a great
experience for us.
The hotel was fantastically luxurious and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to
Sun City. We had a very early shuttle transfer back to Johannesburg airport the
next morning for our flight to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
magnificent new Sun International resort in Zambia is situated on the banks of
the Zambezi River, close to the spectacular Eastern Cataract of the mighty
Victoria Falls. The area encompasses approximately 46 hectares and is located in
the southeastern corner of Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, within the Victoria
Falls World Heritage Site.
accommodations are fantastic. Even better than Sun City, how can that be?
We’re in the back of the falls, which are just a stone throw away. We can hear
the thunder. We’re warned not to walk around after dark on the property, since
there has been hippo sightings close by at night. The hippos came out of the
water at night to feed on the lawn and they can be dangerous. Hippos kill more
humans in Africa every year than any other animal, including the Cape buffalo,
which is second, and the lion. The native peoples have a great respect/fear of
Victoria Falls is one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world - hence its almost universal appeal to travelers. The mighty Zambezi flows broad and placid to the brink of a 1700m wide basalt lip before taking a headlong 100 meters plunge into the thunderous, frothy chasm of the gorge below. This is the world's largest sheet of falling water. We walked out the back gate of the hotel and entered the Victoria Falls National Park. It was right there. The might falls. What a sight! WOW!
There is path to follow right on the opposite edge of the falls itself, and we can feel the spray of water coming from across. Some enterprising young boys find the opportunity to rent us a raincoat for a US$. We needed that raincoat, since we get totally drenched. The view is indescribable. This is the first time in my life I have ever seen the rainbow all the way around the circle at the same time.
Once the river has taken its plunge, there is quite a
different experience to be had.
This evening we get picked up by Bushtracks again and go back to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe for the cultural dance show and to have dinner at the boma at the Victoria Falls Lodge. It was a bit hurried, since the border closes at 10pm. The dances were very interesting with many different tribes performing. We were treated to Sorghum beer as a welcome drink, not much is needed! The dinner was served at the boma, buffet style. You go up to the cook and choose your meat from a variety of options, such as kudu, warthog, ostrich, etc. I found the warthog to be very sweet and tender, my favorite game meat.
border is interesting: the people from Zambia come across to shop. In the
evening they are still at the border, trying to get back across with loads full
of stuff in plastic bags and in wheelbarrows and refusing to pay the toll, so
they wait. It’s a mess and very cumbersome. Zimbabwe is having major political
problems at the moment and their currency is in fact worthless outside the
the 4th of July we have an all day Zambezi White Water River Rafting
trip reserved with Safari Par Excellence. Established as one of southern
Africa's leading adventure and safari outfits since 1990 we're lodge owners on
the Zambezi River, adventure specialists in Victoria Falls and canoe safari
operators on the Lower Zambezi River.
Zambezi offers outstanding white-water rafting. For those with steely nerves the
rapids below the Victoria Falls are among the worlds wildest but safest, due to
the deep water, steep canyon walls and lack of midstream rocks. Spectacular
scenery, sunshine, warm water and superb rapids combine to make this the most
enjoyable one day rafting experience in the world.
to starting your rafting excursion at the activity center you can decide to raft
in an "Oar Boat" where your guide does all the work. You just hang on.
Our guide was Mezza from Australia. He knew the river well.
you choose a "Paddle Boat" option where you are actively part of the
boating experience. The day
starts with check in at The Waterfront at 7:30 am, a short ride away where
rafters receive their safety briefing over a continental breakfast including
tea, coffee and juice.
was not sure that I would actually do this, until it was too late to turn
We were driven to our starting point at the rim above rapid nr 10. The walk down was very steep. To make it easier a ladder had been laid down all the way down consisting of sticks and branches. Unfortunately a hippo had tried to use it a week before and fallen down to its death. The natives from the villages we passed going in had taken care of every part of him in a day or so. Nothing was wasted. Our walk down to the river was steep and Jan was lucky to have a helper take her by the hand and lead her down as he walked barefoot next to her. Incredible, she just disappeared, getting ahead of everyone. There was no way I could make it back up that trail. I had to do this.
started with rapid number 10, since we could not begin at number 1 due to high
water in the river (Paddy's Folly) through to rapid number 25. The top section
of the Batoka Gorge (rapids number 1 - 10) features the greatest concentration
of grade 4 and 5 rapids anywhere in the world. Rapid number 9 is a walk-a-round,
but the water was too high still to do so. We had a fantastic day on the river
with lots of sunshine and fun. As soon as we dried out from the spray of the
last rapid, we got drenched again from the next. The yellow raft flipped 3 times
with its eight inexperienced paddlers. They learned to right the raft pretty
quick after awhile.
light luncheon was served mid- way through the day on the banks of the Zambezi.
The afternoon section is gentler in nature except for rapid number 18 (grade 5)
walk out of the gorge is steep (750 feet) but navigable and rafters are
encouraged to take their time. It was much easier than the walk down. Guides
accompany you on this hike. Ice cold soft drinks and beers are served at the top
of the gorge before an approximate one-hour drive back to the hotel for a fun
dinner (barbeque/spitbraai) at the Waterfront. There is the option of taking a
helicopter out of the gorge if you have run out of steam to make the hike.
note that if the water level is too high the river is closed for rafting due to
safety reasons (usually between April and May).
During "high water" season, only rapids #10 to #25 are run (approximately 20km).
The Zambezi River is renowned for its extremely high volume and steep
- treat it with respect -
were again picked up early the next morning for our 2 hour drive to via Kasane
to Mujenche. We crossed the river at Kazungula via the “ferry”, which turned
out to be our own little boat.
on the Western side of Chobe National Park, in the Chobe Forrest Reserve, Muchenje
is the only lodge in this area and offers unique prolific game experiences, yet
just forty minutes from Kasane and two hours by road from Victoria Falls.
Muchenje Safari Lodge offers unparalleled Safari experiences. Owner run
and managed by Peter and Sandy, attention to details is paramount with nothing
being too much trouble at Muchenje.
The lodge accommodates only twenty guests in intimate exclusivity. The ten twin-bedded thatched chalets, all with en-suite facilities, are situated on the escarpment edge all with their own balcony and unique view. Each chalet is exquisitely furnished and great care has been taken to create a true African 'ambience'. The central lodge has a stunning panoramic view of the Caprivi flood plains in Namibia and overlooks its own waterhole frequented by all species of game. Guest dine together on a long railway sleeper dining table, dress is informal. Main lodge features dining area, bar, reception, curio shop, game viewing platform and library. The feature swimming pool is built amongst natural rock formations, taking advantage of the African vista and providing a tranquil setting for guests to relax during the heat of the day. Meals are served table d'bush, wholesome and plentiful, yet well presented. Theme dinners, vegetarian and special meal requests are catered to. Muchenje offers the most diverse Safari activities in the entire Chobe region. Our qualified and experienced professional guides will give you a glimpse into Africa's very soul.
Game Drives: Probably as comprehensive as you get, taken in open safari vehicles
where safety is paramount.
Our guide was Neil, originally from Maun. Imagine the explosive tranquility of hundreds of elephants surrounding you, or the excitement of a lion kill. We will intrude into their world whilst giving the respect they deserve. Neil was very sensitive to the needs of the animals, yet was able to find them and educate us about them. We saw 100’s of elephants bathing and playing in the Chobe River, giraffes, Roan antelope, Chacma baboons, Cape buffalo, bush babies, slender and white tailed mongoose, and scrub hare on the night-drive, hippo, crocodiles, impala, kudu, red lechwe, vervet monkeys, springbok, springhare, warthog, waterbuck, zebra, lions, and a leopard, again. We were the first to see the lions this year in the area, and the leopard sighting was indeed rare.
Bush Walks: Discover the intricacies of the wild that you often just pass by. Our
professional guides will share the ancient secrets of tracking, survival
techniques and bush craft whilst we wander through the wilderness with the
likelihood of big game encounters. The bush walks are done before breakfast.
addition, we offer game viewing by boat and fishing trips. We spent the whole
day on the river. The lodge packed us a scrumptious lunch; tablecloth and all
that we enjoyed while watching the young elephants play in the water all around
evening was a night out for dinner. The entire meal was transferred to the bush,
where we were served from the open fire under the full moon: A truly memorable
7 SATURDAY: My 55th birthday and 21st anniversary.
day, after an early morning bush walk before breakfast, we fly on a private
charter, a Cessna 210 into the Okavango Delta to Kanana Camp.
Camp is set deep in the Delta in an area that is notable for more than the usual
big game drives. (Kanana is the Bushman word for Paradise.) The Kanana tract
encompasses a necklace of islands on the Xudum River. This idyllic setting makes
for exciting game walks - with an armed ranger, of course. Within this private
concession lies some of the best areas in the Delta for exploring by mokoro
(canoe), an ideal way to sample the varied bird life. Both these activities meet
clients' demand for more physical activity on safari.
traditional camp is built among spectacular shade trees. Eight traditional
deluxe tents with hard wood flooring and en-suite facilities sit on raised
decking and front onto the floodplains. The public areas are also raised on
decking and encircle a massive ancient fig tree, which is the focal point of the
public area of the camp. "K & D's objective was to build a small
traditional camp with minimal impact on the eco-system and to blend the
facilities gently into this serene setting," comments Doug Wright, Ker
& Downey Director responsible for the development. On offer from Kanana will
be a plunge pool, walking, mokoro rides, fishing, boating and game drives.
Kanana has its own airstrip nearby camp. By game viewing on foot and by mokoro, you do not have
the noise of the vehicle and therefore will experience the bush in its true
form. You will be at one with nature without the intrusion of man. There will be
just the sounds of the bush and your footfalls on the earth. The silence will
help your ears to pick-up the previously unheard sounds of the bush usually
hidden by the mechanical hum of the car. You are on their ground on their terms!
Motorboat excursions to the Xo Lagoon is offered when the lagoon is in flood and
game viewing in 4 x 4 vehicles is also available.
FOUND A BOTTLE OF FINE CHAMPAGNE WAITING IN OUR CAMP.
Incredible as it may sound, Kanana seemed even “better” than Muchenje. So far, every experience is a step above the last. How can that continue? We’re now in the middle of nowhere, with all amenities anyone needs. The champagne was consumed in the evening after dinner around the campfire with the hippos providing the concert. We could also hear the lions roar and the hyenas howl in response. The lions were hungry tonight. Would there be a kill?
and Gaby are the hosts here and they are from Australia. James is our guide and
a local from Botswana. He is an expert birdwatcher. The extra touch here is the
warm water bottle in bed at night. It does get cold here in winter during the
night. The wake up call consists of a voice calling out:
knock coffee”, which is served on a tray inside the tent.
hippos were laughing all night long; most likely they tell dirty jokes under the
water, then came up to laugh! What a riot! What an incredible experience.
did the early morning game drives, the afternoon drives, the mokoro canoe rides
and the bush walks.
addition to seeing the Monitor lizard, the Nile crocodile and the mammals, such
as the lion, elephant, giraffe, zebra, hippo, baboon, vervet monkey, impala, red
lechwe, reedbuck, white rhino, and the rare leopard again,
also saw many birds here: and it’s not even the best time of year for bird
2 days here in absolute paradise, we flew back to Maun for our flight to
has got to be the “best” hotel in Johannesburg. It’s beautiful and the
service superb. Our
dinner at the hotel was outstanding.
dinner at the hotel was outstanding.
time to meet our private driver and guide: Stuart McMillan, a native from South
Africa. He fits our personality perfectly. This will be a good trip. We get a
minivan to ourselves for a week. He loves to share his views and knowledge about
history and politics of South Africa and has a lot to tell us. We leave
Johannesburg and Rosebank via Houghton, where we drive by the old and the new
homes of Nelson Mandela.
start out the day in Pretoria, Capital of South Africa. The Vortrecker Monument
dominates the skyline. We see Paul Krueger’s home, where he lived from
1883-1902. We stop at Church Square and the Union buildings and gardens.
we drive by the Cullinan mine, where the world’s largest diamond was found,
through Bronkhorstspruit, Witbank, and Middleburg to Mhluzi, where we visit the
Ndbele village and Borchabelle craft center cultural site. Here we see Blesbok
and Cape Mt> Zebra along the road, and also several Secretary Birds. This was
a German missionary village and we look into the church.
continue on N4 to Belfast, where we take the R540 to Dullstrom. This is
fly-fishing country and big forest growing estates are located here. We see
several little duikers running around in the bush.
spend the night in the most delightfull country house B&B I have ever seen.
estate is located 12km from Dullstroom on the R540 Lydenburg road, 45km from
Belfast, 148km from Nelspruit, 250km from Pretoria and 270km from Johannesburg Located on a trout fishing country estate
Walkerson’s is a luxurious
lodge of exceptional standard situated on a prestigious estate in the eastern
Highlands. The lodge features 18 luxury rooms with king-size beds, en suite bathrooms and
open log fires, outstanding conference facilities, a charming small wedding
chapel and access to trout waters and fly fishing on the estate. Walkerson’s
is a rare
experience in pleasurable living. No children under 12. The
estate offers trout fishing at a variety of well-stocked trout waters, streams
and still lakes. Fly fishing tackle and accessories are available. Special fly
tying and instructions can be arranged at short notice. A nominal charge will be
made for fish taken. A 9km professionally designed walking trail is located over
the estate, with spectacular views, forests, and bubbling streams. Ideal jogging
trails alongside lakes and streams are on the estate. Antelope, a fascinating
variety birds, and various flower species can be viewed. Two small conference
rooms are available, both with all amenities of the highest standard. A charter
helicopter service is available to Walkersons Hotel by prior arrangement. A
tarred runway for light aircraft and experienced pilots only, adjoins the lodge.
Walkerson’s offer accommodations and international cuisine to the highest
standards, in breathtaking surroundings.
get back on the road and head for Lydenburg, a Dutch area of “suffering”
from malaria. We turn off onto R37 and pass Sterkspruit National Park, drive the
Long Tom Pass and the Devil’s Knuckle to Sabie. This is a very scenic route
across the Eastern Drakensberg Mountains. It was originally part of a wagon
road. From Sabie we head north on R534 to Graskop, where we take the Panorama
Route north. We continue into the Eastern Escarpment, where the Savannah merges
with the distant coastal plains of Mozambique to MacMac Falls, 230 feet and
MacMac Pools. This area has many beautiful waterfalls. We also stop at Lisbon
Falls, 295 feet.
we drive north to the Blyde River Canyon National Park. Hippo and crocs live
here and all 3 types of primates: baboon, vervet and samango monkeys live here.
We stop at the three Rondavels resembling 3 cylindrical huts of the Xhosa tribe.
The Swadini Resort can be seen below on the Blyde River. We explore Bourke’s
Luck and Potholes where the Blyde and Treur rivers meet. Grit and stones carried
by the swirling waters have carved potholes here in the shale and quartzite to
create a scenic jumble of cliffs, islands, plateaus, and potholes. Early
prospectors found lots of gold here.
Pinnacle is an impressive column of sandstone sedimentary rock appearing to rise
sheer from the evergreen foliage below.
had back to Graskop for pancakes at Stuart’s favorite restaurant. It’s next
to a craft village, which was the best part for me. We encountered many craft
markets along the road, where the local people sell their wares to travelers.
They also sell macadamia and cashew nuts.
take R533 via Kowyn’s Pass and Hazyview to enter Kruger National Park at the
Paul Kruger Gate.
arrive at Londolozi Tree House Camp in time for tea and the afternoon game
Private Game Reserve is an unashamedly exclusive and luxurious safari
destination covering 14 000 hectares (34 580 acres) in the heart of the
game-rich 56 000 hectare Sabi Sand Game Reserve. Londolozi is a Zulu word
meaning "protector of all living things" - an ambitious conservation
ethic that Londolozi embraces in its sensitivity to the natural world. This is
why the Londolozi Model is the blueprint of CC Africa's founding principles:
"Care of the land, care of the wildlife and care of the people".Each
of the six air-conditioned luxurious suites has its own cascading plunge pool,
outdoor shower and en suite bathroom featuring a huge, inviting tub. The private
decks with plunge pools and outdoor shower overlook the lush banks of the Sand
River. Capturing the essence of total relaxation are the private salas, found in
three of the suites. These intimate covered decks extend into the treetops by a
short elevated walkway. The deck floors feature inviting chairs and comfortable
footstools. The tree-shaded teak decks and private outdoor showers lead into
sumptuous interiors of soft silks and suede lit by carved Zanzibari lamps. The
spacious en suite bathrooms have heated cobblestone floors, inlaid with pebbles
from the Sand River. Tree Camp takes its name from the ancient Ebony Tree
shading the camp. Small and exclusive, Tree Camp is surrounded by large, shady
trees and offers wonderful views of the Sand River. The camp has a lounge area
with guest library. The main sitting area leads out onto a large wooden deck,
raised on stilts and elevated over the river.
at Londolozi center around game viewing drives in open vehicles that traverse an
area of some 14 000 hectares (34 580 acres) in search of wildlife, including
nocturnal species viewed after sunset. This is when we spotted the rarely seen Pangolin.
You may request the sole use of a Land Rover for game viewing, (subject to
availability.) Armed rangers will lead you on bush walks - the quintessential
wilderness experience. The Shangaan are renowned trackers of wildlife - a skill
honed to perfection among the many CC Africa trackers and rangers. Shangaan
people are in the majority in the southern Lowveld and most of the staff at
Londolozi comes from this cultural group.
is a prime wildlife haven and has been rated the best game experience in
Southern Africa. We were fortunate to see cheetah, spotted hyena, impala,
nyala, gnu, steenbok, grey duiker, vervet monkey, dwarf mongoose, greater kudu,
giraffe, buffalo, lion and leopard.
Lions are the only truly social members of the cat family, and sightings of lion
prides are the order of the day at Londolozi.
are over 20 varieties of frog including Broadbanded Grass Frog, Snoring Puddle
Frog, Tremolo Sand Frog and Golden Leaf-folding Frog. Groves of Wild Date Palm
grow on the outer fringes of reedbeds. Jackalberry,
Tamboti, Brack Thorn, Knob Thorn, Flame Creeper and Sycamore Fig are among the
trees that flourish in the forest along the river. The forest is green all year
round. Red Bushwillow and Marula dominate the crests and slopes while Knob
Thorn, Leadwood, Tamboti and Magic Guarri are abundant on the flats. The
distinctive scent of the Potato
Bush permeates riverbanks in spring. Arid-adapted plants provide a
sparse covering on rocky outcrops, forming a distinct habitat to which certain
plants and animals are restricted. Distinctive trees include the Largeleaved
Rock Fig, cactus-like Candelabra Tree, purple-stemmed Common Star Chestnut and
angular Velvet Corkwood.
principle habitat of Londolozi is bush savannah and a thin band of evergreen
riverine forest along the Sand River. The watercourse of the Sand River is lined
by swathes of sand - from which the river derives its name. It is the artery
that sustains the region's wildlife. Three other river-associated habitats can
be distinguished, each with characteristic species: open water of channels and
pools, reedbeds and riverine forest along the river. These forests are green all
year round. Rocky outcrops also create a unique habitat for flora and fauna
Londolozi Model, demonstrating the sustainable multi-use of wildlife, was the
blueprint on which the principles of Conservation Corporation Africa (CC Africa)
were founded. The basic principles that guide all CC Africa endeavors are
"Care of the land, care of the wildlife and care of the people".
Londolozi is in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, adjacent to the world-renowned
Kruger National Park, in the heart of the South African Lowveld. The fence
between the two reserves that had blocked wildlife movement for thirty years was
finally taken down in 1990. The uninhibited movement of buffalo, elephant,
zebra, leopard, buffalo, white rhino and other species became a reality. Sabi
Sand is now part of a huge conservation area and one of the richest wildlife
regions on the continent. The "big five", especially leopard, are
relaxed when approached by vehicles, allowing for unsurpassed photographic
opportunities. Londolozi has become known for its far-sighted methods of land
and wildlife rehabilitation as well as community involvement programs. For
example, the intense erosion and bush encroachment evident in the early days was
effectively managed, leading to the restoration of the area's historic open
grasslands. This in turn encouraged the return of plains game that had largely
clearing has many spin-off benefits. Londolozi strives to be
ecologically sustainable in every aspect of its operation - from tourism
activities to project management.
picks us up early today, but we did have time for the early morning game drive
before breakfast. We were so lucky to see the leopard this morning on the north
side of the river. We also were treated to a concert given by the hippos. All
this happened before 9am this morning.
have a long day ahead. We drive back out the Paul Kruger Gate and Hazyview south
on R538 via Whitriver and Plaston to Karino, where we get on the N4 in the
direction to Maputo. This is an area of kloof, meaning rocky, rugged outcrops
along the Crocodile River. At Melalane we get on R570 to Jeffe’s Reef and the
Swaziland border at Matsomo. The Kingdom of Swaziland got its independence from
Britain in 1968, and King Mswati III has ruled for 25 years. At Piggs Peak we
stop at the arts and crafts village, of course. We cross the Komati River gorge,
via Forbe’s Reef to Motjane. Here we stop at the Ngwenya glass factory and
craft village. Mbabane is the capital city; our hotel is close by in Ezulwini.
Royal Swazi Sun, widely recognized as the flagship of the Kingdom of Swaziland,
has won a glowing international reputation over the years, and today it sets a
fine example of luxury and service excellence which is appreciated by kings and
commoners alike. The hotel is sheltered by the mountain of the Ezulwini Valley,
whose slopes are crowded with copses of trees and grey rocky outcrops. There is
always the constant hum of the casino and the celebrity bells of the jackpot
machines at the Royal Swazi Sun Hotel. There are many memorable places within
minutes of Royal Swazi Sun to visit and fascinating craft shops to browse
through. A wide variety of animals, birds, trees and flowers can be seen in
various national parks and nature reserves. The Mbabane market forms the
colorful bustling center of the Capital city, and is a "must" for
everyone from photographers to those who want a taste (in more ways than one) of
real Swazi life. Swazi beads, traditional cloths and a wide variety of souvenirs
can be purchased. The Mantenga Cultural Village, comprising of a homestead of
sixteen huts with the traditional artifacts on display, illustrates many faces
of the ancient Swazi way of life, socially, economically and religiously.
first stop today is at the Candle Factory outside Manzini. These are the most
interesting and colorful candles I have ever seen in the shape of all the
animals and everything else imaginable.
middleveld here offers perfect growing conditions for sugar cane and tropical
back in South Africa.
drive along the Pongolapoort Dam via Mkuze to Hluhluwe, where we take the
sandy/gravel road to Sodwana Bay. But first we stop at the craft village.
Bay National Park, world renowned as a diving destination, is chosen by more
South Africans to qualify as scuba divers than anywhere else. Sodwana Bay Lodge
however boasts the only 5-star PADI diving school in the district certified to
train and license divers to international instructor level. The school has a
fully equipped dive shop, an on site 3 meter dive pool and organizes a
comprehensive range of day and night ocean and qualifying dives.
and local eco-tourists marvel at the distinct ecosystems and prolific animal,
bird and plant life to say nothing of the sight of humpback whales as they spout
and gambol close to the shoreline en-route to their Southern Ocean feeding
Bay Lodge is located within easy reach of the many other unique attractions of
this part of Africa. Explore this "Garden of Eden', go game-viewing just an
hour away in the open-air comfort of a customized Dinizulu Safaris vehicle.
Delight in the local cultures, or let professional guides unveil the mysteries
of our famous turtle beach.
meaning 'little one on its own' in Zulu, could as well mean 'little paradise on
its own', as it is a paradise for anyone with an interest in the great outdoors.
Sodwana Bay's coral does not form a continuous reef, but is clearly divided into
a number of reefs that run parallel to the shore, each one designated by its
distance from the launch site at Jesser Point. The fairly unimaginative names,
Quarter-Mile, Two-Mile, Five-Mile and Seven-Mile Reefs, belie the beauty of
these popular dive sites. The surf launches are a unique and exciting
experience. Divers help to push the boat into the shallows, jump in once the
engine is started and then hold on tight as the skilled skipper negotiates the
waves. Though every reef hosts its own territorial inhabitants, some of which
are very predictable, something new and unexpected often happens: perhaps even a
visit from a school of dolphins or an encounter with an enormous and gracefully
cruising whale shark.
the guys go diving at reef 7 and 2, Stuart drives Jan and me back to Hluhluwe
and onto Bushlands, where we visit the DumaZulu Village for their orientation
and dance show. This is a Zulu tribe village, where the Zulu people are willing
to educate us about their ways. We also have a chance to show the local basket
and craft market.
a morning dive at reef 5 we start our drive to Durban. At Hluhluwe we get back
on the N2 south. We pass the Nyalazi River, Mtubatuba, Richards Bay, Stanger and
say goodbye to Stuart when he leaves us at the Zimbali Lodge at Ballito, just
north of Durban.
Set in the lush subtropical coastal belt, 42km north of
KwaZulu Natal’s capital city, Durban, Zimbali Lodge is Sun International’s
first "boutique" hotel; the first project of the newly formed leisure
investment company, AfriSun KZN. Zimbali Lodge and Country Club is located in a
forest surrounded by a championship 18–hole golf course designed by world
renowned Tom Weiskopf. Zimbali, Zulu for “Valley of Flowers”, the estate on
which the new lodge is established, is in the heart of a haven of naturally
occurring lakes and wetlands.
is a beautiful lodge. Jan and Eric get T-time for early morning golf.
and I enjoy walking down to the beach and watching the big waves come in from
the Indian Ocean. We see Nyala and Samango monkeys playing in the trees. There
is a tree full of Blue Herons.
Our shuttle comes at 1400 for the airport and our flight to Capetown.
Town is already one of the top 10 tourist destinations cities in the world. Like
most tourist areas, the Cape Town region attracts most of its tourists during
"peak" times - between September and March, which is South Africa's
summer. But Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate, which is temperate for most
of the year. Most international tourists wouldn't know the Cape's best secret -
Cape Town is frequently at its best in the traditionally low season from April
to October! This coincides with our prime safari seasons in Southern Africa.
Cape Town does experience winter rain, but it is mostly at night, and daily
temperatures are not - certainly by European and North American standards - cold
at all. Daily temperatures generally average above 16 degrees Celsius. The Cape
is at its greenest, lushest and most beautiful between April and October. Ask
any Capetownian and they will tell you that this period is indeed the Cape's
check into the Table Bay Hotel for 3 nights.
on the historic Waterfront, The Table Bay Hotel has been created as a tribute to
this world-famous bay. The hotel sets its own standards in international
service, cuisine and luxury. Achieving the status of Leading Hotel of the World,
the hotel adheres to the standards of absolute excellence within the parameters
of luxurious accommodation and superb hospitality.
WHITE SHARK DIVE is cancelled due to a winter storm that closed the harbor for 3
White Shark Ecoventures was established in 1992, and
offers daily shark diving/sighting tours off Gans- baai. Gansbaai is a mere
stone-throw away from the most southern tip of the African continent and is
situated 160 km from Cape Town (2 hrs drive). Approximately 12 km offshore
from Gansbaai we find two islands situated next to each other. The unique
channel (6 m deep) between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock has earned international
fame and recognition as one of the most successful areas in the world, to
view the great white in its natural environment. This area is rich in sea life
and has an abundance of other wildlife species such as Cape fur seals, Cape
Genets, Cape Cormorants, Jackass Penguins, Whales and Dolphins. The day starts
with a door-to-door shuttle service collection in Cape Town
we’re taking the - CAPE TOWN HIGHLIGHTS TOUR ALL DAY
travel via Camps Bay, Hout Bay, Boulder’s Beach to see the Jackass Penguins,
and Chapman's Peak to the Cape of Good Hope Reserve. We saw Bontebok here and
wild ostrich. We also stopped at the Ostrich Farm and gave the Eland a smoke.
After enjoying stunning views from the highest point we continue towards
Simonstown and Muizenberg. After an optional lunch in Stellenbosch and
sightseeing on your own, we will have an introduction to South African wines at
a local wine estate, Spier Winery. We drive through the university town of
Stellensbosch before returning to the Table Bay Hotel.
note: The drive via Chapman's Peak is subject to the road being open,
alternatively we will drive via Ou Kaapse Weg. Touring time: Full day Traveling
time: 5 hours 30 minutes
last day we take the HALF DAY CAPETOWN CITY TOUR before leaving
for the airport and the all night and all day flights back to Atlanta and
This early morning tour takes you directly to the cableway and up the famous Table Mountain or up to Lion’s Head for a stunning view of Table Mountain in the clouds, while your guide explains the varying flora & fauna. You are then taken on a city tour, which includes a visit to the SA Museum, the Malay Quarter at Bo Kaap and the harbor. Walk through the Castle and Greenmarket Square Fleamarket before driving through Sea Point back to your hotel.
Please note: Ticket for the cableway is NOT included due to the fact that the tour is weather permitting. Touring time: Half day Traveling time: 2 hours