With winter well underway in Southern Africa I needed to be reminded of what the sun feels like……I love this soft evening light looking onto Nosy Iranja in Madagascar. I can feel the sand in my toes and the sun rays on my back. Lovely way to start what is meant to be a sunny winter weekend in Cape Town.
Photo of the Week: Madagascar
By africansafarisblogadmin on July 8, 2011 in Africa, African Safaris, honeymoon safari, South Africa
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Good morning, Yes, we are back and had a wonderful vacation! I'll give you our honest feedback. We just loved Kirkman's Kamp. In truth we actually saw more animals just driving in our rental car through Kruger National Park ourselves, but the experience of the drive was awesome. For example, we saw a leopard eating it's impala kill and had the ability to sit under it in our land rover for about 45 minutes while a hyena was nearby. This is something we wouldn't have seen on our own car drive. The staff there gave us first class treatment - with greeting us as we arrived and giving us fresh moist towels to clean up with. For the game drive, we loved the touch of having hot water bottles and blankets to keep us warm! They wound up giving us two game drives (we thought there was just one evening one and a walk). The food there was excellent and the room/accommodations superb. Everyone needs an escort to their room as animals can be everywhere. In fact, they said the night before a lion chased an impala through their camp! Too bad we couldn't have afforded another night because we might have been able to spot the only animal of the big five we never got to see, the lion. Riley's Rock was unique. My sister was disappointed with it initially feeling it was too 'rustic', but the rest of us really loved the look and 'feel' of it. She wound up coming around to really loving it - who wouldn't with all the dinners under the stars around a fire? We were blessed with having our first dinner with Ted Riley himself. Apparently he had guests that were in for some important conservation business and it allowed for some very serious and interesting dinner conversation with all of us...a great and memorable experience. Interestingly, they asked about how we booked their hotel and we told them about you (and they were quite grateful). How had you heard about them? We also loved the Swaziland excursions we took through Swazi-Travel. Kosi-Forest Lodge though beautiful, was probably our least favorite. The place was truly lovely yet simplistic. We loved the look of the tiki torches around so we can find our room at night. It would be a much better place to stay in the spring or summer as it was too cold to go snorkeling. It was also more geared for honeymoon couples. The food was tasty and it's presentation very nice. Thula Thula was nice, though disappointing for game viewing. If I had it to do over again, I would have stayed one day there (just because my wife read the book), and two days at a big game reserve hotel. They don't have the big 5 there - and really the main thing to see is their signature elephants, which are breathtaking. The tracker and driver were magnificent, but they excelled more on the bush walks. We only got to see elephants and rhino there...they have no lions and in 3 game drives we never saw buffalo or leopard either. In fact they hadn't seen a leopard since last December. The tented accommodations were nicer, in our opinion, then Kosi-Forest Lodge. They were bigger. Both had family tents, which might have been preferred for us - if less expensive. The meals were good and we especially liked that there was a game meat option each day. We wound up downloading the South Africa map for our GPS and we are glad we did. While it wasn't perfect, it did fill in missing spots when using the directions provided. The GPS did wind up giving us totally wrong directions to Thula Thula though. Looking back, it would have been better doing the trip in reverse...as it is hard to top seeing so many animals (Kruger and Kirkman's Kamp). Again, thank you so much for organizing the trip for us - it was really a once in a lifetime experience and our whole family has memories that won't be forgotten! P.S. - your telephone call to us at Kosi Bay was a wonderful touch and much appreciated. The Toro family
Unfortunately we are back. I could have stayed forever. I could easily live in South Africa. Loved every part of it. It was the perfect balance. Of course the safari was the crown jewel, followed by an instructive and inspiring day in Jo'burg and at the Apartheid Museum. Now I'm furiously trying to track down my habit -roiboos tea. Took over 1500 photos!!!! I could not imagine a more beautiful property than the Lions' Sands, and the safari experience was the best ever! And yes, our dinner with Liesl was delightful. We were brimful of enthusiasm then, and we had yet to go to the winelands, and safari and Jo'burg. Wish you could have joined us. But you can't be envious. You get to go there all the time. I'm the one who's envious. Will give you a call this week to gush some more. In the meantime thank you both for three weeks that went far too quickly and memories that will stay forever. Best, Gabriella
Dear Jeff and Camille – So nice to get your holiday greeting and bad me for not ever writing “officially” to thank you both for the most amazing experience of my life – Simbambili and my safari experience. Your nose and ears must have been itching dozens upon dozens of times as I’ve recounted my adventure to friends and family and colleagues – and most recently, in our holiday letter. It still seems a bit like a dream…Funny, people have said things like, “Wow, now you can check that off your bucket list.” And I always reply, “Check it off?! Now I just want to go on safari again and again!” My time at Simbambili was life changing and life enhancing and there’s something about Africa that seems to have gotten under my skin. Guess that happens doesn’t it? Endless thanks to you both for helping to make my childhood dream come true! You guys rock! Happy holidays and all good things to you in the New Year ahead! Warmly, Melissa
Ilze, I’ll let Caty add on, but in a word the trip was outstanding! The place you got for us at De Waterkant was great – lots of character and an excellent location. The experience at Shamwari was also superb! We had great service, an outstanding ranger, and excellent accommodations. We’ll send you some pictures soon – I’m now trying to wade through them – I took almost 500! Thanks for all you help on the trip! Regards, Larry
Dear Liesl, I just had to write to thank you for the magnificent planning of our honeymoon - this trip was an absolute dream come true. Steve and I loved every second of it, from Cape Town (where we both want to move to now) to the perfection of Lion Sands - you could not have choreographed a more perfect itinerary. Many, many thanks again for everything - it was such a pleasure getting to meet you in person, and I hope that we'll be able to work on a return trip very soon. All best wishes, Erika