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Trip Report Glorious Return to South Africa--Two Weeks in October

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Having just returned from a trip that ranks up there with the best of my life, I will offer some details in a short trip report. Please feel free to ask any and all questions on topics I have, or have not, covered here.

I had traveled previously in West and East Africa, but it was not until 2007 that I took my first trip to southern Africa--South Africa, Vic Falls, and two camps in Botswana (see trip report on this forum for details). My partner had never traveled to Africa before.

I had pored over the Africa forum on this site, so I had a formed a general plan that would include Cape Town, Londolozi, and one other camp. But I turned the actual hotel, lodge, and in-country air bookings to Liesl Matthews of Southern Destinations, the Cape Town agency that had so brilliantly planned my first, more complicated trip. This proved to be a wise decision. I should add that this is one of only a handful of times (I can remember only two) that I have used a travel agency to plan a trip. I was more than pleased with the agency and recommend them highly.

http://www.southerndestinations.com/



Knowing that I wanted to combine the Sabi Sands with another landscape within the country, Liesl offered a few ideas including Mashatu, Phinda, and Tswalu.
We settled on Tswalu, a luxury camp in the Kalahari.

This was the plan we formulated last spring:

7 nights Cape Town, Mt. Nelson Hotel
4 nights Londolozi Pioneer Camp
1 night Johannesburg
3 nights Tswalu in the Motse camp

I booked the international flights from New York’s JFK on KLM. We would fly overnight to Amsterdam and connect with the direct Amsterdam-CapeTown flight, with arrival in Cape town in the evening of the day after departure. On the return, we departed Johannesburg on the night flight, arriving early morning in Amsterdam. Due to the long connection time, we were able to spend a few bonus hours in Amsterdam itself before boarding the last, sad homeward leg, to JFK.

I bought travel insurance from Travel Guard, via InsureMyTrip.com but thankfully, we did not have to use it. We also filled our prescriptions for malaria medicine, said to be necessary for travelers to the Sabi Sands/Kruger areas.


Liesl at Southern Destinations was handling all the details, so after buying the KLM tickets and the insurance, I turned my attention to one of my favorite topics: Food. My first trip, when I also spent a week in the city, confirmed that Cape Town and its surroundings comprised an outstanding gastronomic destination. There seemed to be so many inviting restaurants, but after lots of online reading, and querying (see thread below)


http://www.fodors.com/community/africa-the-middle-east/capetown-and-aroundseeking-restaurant-advice.cfm

followed by consultations with Liesl, who knows her way around a dinner plate, I formulated a list that would include what seemed to be the most interesting local restaurants. One of the these, The Test Kitchen, which I imagine tops most lists of the best in the city, needs to be booked many weeks, if not months, ahead of time. I chose to have Liesl book them all for me about two months before departure.

In Cape Town:

Pot Luck Club
The Test Kitchen (two dinners)
La Colombe
The Greenhouse
Nando’s

In the Winelands:

We had originally planned to have Sunday lunch at Babel, but once we arrived and sought local advice, we switched to the restaurant at the Delaire Graff wine estate outside Stellenbosch. (Babel will wait for the next visit!)


More soon...

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