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Trip Report Trip Report: Lion Sands River Lodge, Elephant Plains, and Cape Town

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This is a brief trip report from a first-timer who benefited immeasurably from all the experienced and helpful Fodorites here. We did 3 nights at Elephant Plains, and 3 nights at Lion Sands River Lodge, and then a week in Cape Town for a conference. We arrived Jberg and stayed at Aftonio Guest House, which was great! They picked us up at the airport (a 5 min drive), had lovely rooms in a beautiful home, offered a delicious braii dinner, provided a full breakfast and drove us back to the airport, all for a very reasonable price (especially compared to the airport hotels). Both lodges were wonderful and we enjoyed seeing the north and south of Sabi Sands. There seemed to be more leopards in the north and more lions in the south, at least in early January, but we saw the same wonderful range of wildlife in both places. Both places are relatively small and family owned, and I was truly impressed at how happy the employees seemed to be working at each lodge. It felt very much like a family at both places and we felt pampered at each. The 12 game drives we had were just amazing, with hunting leopards, lions on the move, baby rhinos playing, large elephant herds and musth males, wonderful bird sightings and everything else. We were able to transfer between lodges with a 2.5 hour drive midday so that we didn’t miss a game drive, but had to go outside of the Reserve to get from one lodge to the other. In Cape Town, we stayed at the wonderful Cape Heritage Hotel, where the rooms were lovely and the service unparalleled. This was a great base of operation for walking around the more interesting parts of the city; apart from the trip to Robben Island, we found the waterfront area to be skippable. We benefited from a strong dollar and had great meals at Savoy Cabbage, 95 Keerom, and a wonderful Cape Malay restaurant (Kombuis) high in the BoKaap with fantastic views of Table Mountain.. One shopping tip: You can visit the work studio of Streetwires at 77 Shortmarket Street and find some of the best beaded animals there. It’s worth the visit just to see the life size beaded Mandela! On two day trips, did the Baboon Walk which was fantastic (see previous report posted here by atravelynne) and a pelagic waters cruise with African Shark Eco Charters with Rob Lawrence out of Simonstown (again, see previous reports). It was not great white shark season, so this cruise goes out past Cape Point to look for blue waters, and we saw blue and mako sharks and two different types of albatross. Warning: some people on the cruise got seasick; take pills before leaving if you go. It was cool to see Cape Point from below and beyond, and a fascinating trip. Wonderful fish and chips at Kalky’s. A great trip; thanks to all who have provided such helpful advice and guidance here.

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