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Trip Report A Fortnight in South Africa

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I've just returned from a wonderful trip to South Africa with stays at Kensington Place in Cape Town, Grootbos Lodge just outside Gansbaai and Kwandwe Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape. Here's a brief report.

I read a travel article about Grootbos Lodge a few years ago and as it seemed to be just my kinda place, I added it to my wish list. Fast forward to 2008 when South Africa suddenly became much more affordable because of the decline of he Rand against the USD, and I decided this was the time to go. I had been on safari at a few CCAfrica (now andbeyond) lodges in East Africa, and when I emailed them for recommendations for a lodge in South Africa, The agent immediately suggested Kwandwe which was the perfect match, especially as there was no single supplement. To help manage the logistics of the trip I recruited the services of Go2Africa, and everything went seamlessly. All my transfers were booked through the local company Ilios and the service was excellent.

I flew from LAX to AMS on KLM, and the service was noticeably better than on my regular airline United. Originally I had no plans for activities during my overnight layover in Amsterdam, but after reading the inflight magazine I decided to pay a visit to Keukenhof to view the tulips in bloom. The tour desk at Schiphol was very convenient for bookings, so I also scheduled a canal ride for the evening. Transportation between the gardens and the airport, and entry was included in the 12 Euro fee. The gardens were very scenic, much larger than I expected, and very popular with the locals. The canal ride was very commercial but entertaining.

I had booked the Hilton at Schipol for a special rate online, and was quite pleased with it inspite of mediocre reviews on Tripadvisor. It was in a convenient location (I was in the room 1 hour after landing), and the meal at the restaurant was expensive as expected but surprisingly good.

The next morning I left on the flight to Capetown and landed at 2130. I was met and transferred to Kensington Place, a delightful boutique hotel located in Tamboerskloof on the slopes of Table mountain in a quiet residential neighborhood. For my first morning in Cape Town I had scheduled a group half day city tour (The castle/The South African museum/Bo Kaap/Signal hill). We tried to go up table mountain twice, but the cable car was closed because of the winds both times. After a quick lunch back at Kensington Place, I was collected for my private transfer to Grootbos Lodge about a 2 hour drive from Cape Town.

I had made the decision not to drive while on vacation, and didn't regret it. My jet lag was horrendous the first few days, and it would have been awful trying to cope with directions in a strange place while also driving on the other side of the road.

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