Long awaited Return to Southern Africa!

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Sep 30th, 2012, 05:45 PM
  #1
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Long awaited Return to Southern Africa!

Two more days and we leave on our second trip to Africa.

In 2009, we had planned to return with an OAT tour...but sometimes more important things happen and plans change. Our 32 year old daughter, living and working in NYC, was diagnosed with Stage 3 Melanoma, and we went up to stay with her as we all took off on an unscheduled medical journey. (What trip insurance is for, for sure.). she is doing VERY well now, apparently cancer free, and we have planned a totally different return trip, that actually fits our travel style better.

I worked with Chris Worden at Zambezi Travel for the safari portion of our trip, and our initial 11 days. We will fly in to JNB, on Delta (premium economy) and spend the night not far from the airport. The next AM We will fly BA to Victoria Falls, and spend two nights at Ilala Lodge. I had regretted not seeing Vic Falls on our previous trip, so this will take care of that. On Oct 5, we are scheduled to spend half a day with an Anti-poaching unit. (An intriguing alternative to bungee jumping or whitewater rafting.).

Our next stop will be 3 nights at Imbabala, which is in Zimbabwe, on the river, near Chobe and will include both land and river based safari activities. We then will transfer back to Vic Falls and on to Hwange for 4 nights at Davison's. Our last day there, we will take a short flight to Vic Falls, then fly to JNB.

We planned the next part of our trip to return to Cape Town...which we fell in love with on our first trip. We will fly to CPT and spend a couple days with friends Solvej & John, who live in Hout Bay. She and I have been internet friends for years, and last year she spent some time with us while she was doing an international program for librarians. Travel is really great when you can forge friendships with people all over the world!

We will pick up a rental car, and head off for Wilderness. for 2 nights (Shiningwaters B&B) then Addo for 2 nights (self-catering tented campsite) and Prince Albert near the Swartberg Pass for 2 nights. Out last night is left to serendipity...we may stay in Stellenbosch or go back to Solvej's, but we will turn in our car at CPT the next morning and fly to JNB to catch our return flight to the states.

Yes, it would have been good to fly home from CPT, but I had gotten an excellent deal on Delta way back when and it was RT between RDU and JNB. Our JNB/CPT RT flights will be on Mango, and they weren't terribly expensive.

I should be able to add to this whenever we have wifi...so I will call it a trip report and keep you updated when possible.
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Sep 30th, 2012, 05:59 PM
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I look forward to hearing about your trip. So glad that your daughter is well.
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Sep 30th, 2012, 08:26 PM
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Have a magnificent time and I'll be watching for updates!
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Oct 1st, 2012, 09:18 AM
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I happy to see your daughter had a good outcome. I've heard good things about Imbabala from a tour operator. Ilala Lodge is a nice place to stay in Vic Falls. You can walk to the falls from there. The craft market is next door to the hotel. I'd also suggest walking to the venerable Victoria Falls Hotel and look around a bit; it's only a couple of blocks away.
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Oct 7th, 2012, 01:17 AM
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Victoria Falls was wonderful. I wasn't expecting to get a lot out of it but for seeing the falls, however we enjoyed walking to the falls in the AM, taking a dip in the pool at Ilala, having a terrific lunch on the terrace, and meeting some good people. We discovered the hotel food was excellent and not as expensive as anticipated, plus the service was friendly and hard to beat. The next morning, we met Charles Brightman of the Victoria Falls Anti-poaching Unit, and spent a fascinating morning walking a patrol in Vic Falls National Park. Looking for evidence of of poaching, and learning so much. Definately a high point of our trip.

Now we are at Imbabala, and it is a gorgeous lodge. Our thatched roof hut is lovely, with a great bed, ceiling fan, and nice bethroom suite. The manager Bradley and his wife Angie are enthusiastic, the guide Stan and the rest of the staff are charming...and the locatin looking over the Zambezi River is stunning.

More later...I don't know how often we will have wifi...we didn't in Vic Falls.
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Oct 7th, 2012, 06:26 AM
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The big thing is your daughter's health.

Patrol looks fascinating.

Congrats on your return.

Should be a super trip.
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Oct 8th, 2012, 09:31 AM
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She is doing tremendously, and, in fact, closed on a house of her own in Durham the day we left!

The game viewing along the Zambezi River is astounding. We have impala sleeping on the front lawn ewvery night, and tonight before dinner, watched elephants, Waterbuck, and vervet monkeys. The coolest tiphing is the sunset cruises. Our first night, we watched a herd of about 65 elephants swim across the channel to an island, whe they've spent the last two days. I've gotten amazing hippo pictures, too. Today we did a daytrip to Chobe, and while the morning cruise was spectacular, it really couldn't match our little sundown cruises. After lunch we had a game drive in Chobe Natl Park, and saw LIONS. Everyone was very happy. Plus I think Chobe was gorgeous, what a beautiful park. Ai would love to see more on another trip.
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Oct 8th, 2012, 08:53 PM
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Wonderful goingson so far.
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Oct 12th, 2012, 06:41 AM
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Watching the elephants swim across the Zambezi at sunset was an experience up close and personal we will never forget. We regretted not spending more than 2n in Chobe on our first trip to SA - so we are leaving next Month for 2 weeks in Botswana.... Not in Chobe - but same country!

So glad your trip worked out and your daughter is doing so well. All well deserved and thanks for thinking of fodorites while game viewing!
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Oct 14th, 2012, 11:55 AM
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Quick checkin...I am keeping notes as internet access has been spotty to nonexistent....and it is a good thing! Woke up yesterday for the 4th time in Davisons Camp and realised I hadn't a care in the world! This is what a vacation is supposed to be. Hwange was astounding in many ways. I have been keeping a journal so I will be able to write a good, full trip report once we get home.

Currently staying with friends in Hout Bay SA and having a splendid time of a different sort.
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Oct 14th, 2012, 11:56 AM
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Just noticed my overuse of astounding. Need new adjectives.
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Oct 15th, 2012, 02:38 AM
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Picked up our lovely white Mercedes at CPT and on our way to Wilderness. Visited with friends yesterday...went to Cape point, then to a beautifully located restaurant in Somerset West for Sunday lunch. Waterkloof Winery. Unvelievable views in very modern buildings. Sophisticated menu bit unevenly pulled off (too much salt on a couple dishes), Excellent wines, terrific company.

The sunshine deserted us today...hope it at least delivers on partly cloudy for the rest of the week. This is too beautiful a country to miss due to rain, but we takes what we get. I'm loving the NAV system on this car.
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Oct 15th, 2012, 12:36 PM
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Busted, that is wonderful news about your daughter!!!!!!
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Oct 17th, 2012, 09:16 AM
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We had two nights in Wilderness on the Garden Route. The weather was foggy, cloudy, with some drizzle. What a shame as there would have been so much to do there. Who knew it is such a "foodie" town, as well! We ate VERY well at Pomodoro and also The Girls. Fresh line fish at one, elnd and kudu at the other...plus fabulous apps of oysters and grilled calimari.

Tonight we are at Addo...and the rain is comin' down. tomorrow we are supposed to get a respite. I really hope so.
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Oct 19th, 2012, 04:57 AM
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So glad to hear the car rental worked out - relief from my side after recommending traveljigsaw!
Such a pity about the weather - hope you get to see something at Addo.
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Oct 20th, 2012, 07:36 AM
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Our first night was crazy. there was a terrible storm, and all we could do was stay swaddled in our beds inside our permanent safari tent...which, except for the flapping of un-noticed flaps on the exterior, which likely should have been zipped down, leaving the heavy duty velcro holding the interior flaps in place to strain mightily, stayed relatively dry inside. Honestly, all we could do was laugh. And when we considered (not) a visit to the shared ablutions during the raging storm, my Husband opted for aiming at the stream raging down the side from the front porch, toward the lake forming out of the previously small waterhole out in front. I decided to use an empty vegetable bin from the refrigerator as a chamber pot. Easy to rinse out and clean in the morning in the shared kitchen area.

We did get a reprieve from the rain on our second day at Addo, and we had a wonderful time. Such a gorgeous National Park. We saw elephants, zebra, kudu, red hartebeast, jackels, wart hogs, vervet monkeys, and tons of birds. Everything was so lush and green after parched Hwange.

Our second night was much calmer, and we slept well, rose early, and took off for the karoo. Had out first arguement with the Navi system, as we didn't want to go back through Port Elizabeth to the N2, but figured out how to give her some way points that took us further inland on the R75 and through the citrus groves. Fortunately we thought to fill up with gas, as on this route, there was a good roadway, but few opportunities to stop for fuel, and we probably didn't see any other traffic until we reached Steytlerville on R329 to N9 and the R341 to De Rust. For lunch. From De Rust we took the beautiful pass through Meeringspoort to Prince Albert.

We are staying at a lovely B&B named Karoo Lodge. The hosts George and Elsabe are delightful, and George is a terrific chef, so do plan on a dinner @66. (The address in 66 Church St). Prince Albert is a fantastic little town in a picturesque valley.

This morning we decided to drive the Swartberg Pass to Oudtshoorn. Maybe not the best idea on a rainy day. As we climbed and climbed, the views were extraordinary, even in a drizzle...and we fortunately again met very little traffic, just some motorcyclists and a red 4WD. However it started to rain a bit harder...and as we neared the summit, we saw beautiful flowering cacti and other succlent ground covers, except suddenly, on the other side of the mountain, we discovered fog. Oh dear. DH makes the observation, that as he has gotten older, he finds he doesn't care for heights...and then after we laugh about that for a while (this WAS his idea this morning) he wonders whether it was worse seeing the great drops we'd seen coming up or Not seeing it, due to fog, on the way down. About this time, we pull over where there is a picnic stop. A Honda is the second car we've seen going the opposite way (there has been no one behind us at all). Having gathered our strength, we continue down the pass. It was a great relief to finally reach the 2-lane tarred road with the sign declaring it 30-something k to Oudtshoorn. To anyone else who wants to take this ride, while it is 67k between Prince Albert and Oudtshoorn, the actual pass only comprises about 25k or so. Do wait for better weather. The easier route from De Rust is gorgeous, and virtually stressfree. We congratulated ourselves on the adventure as a great accomplishment. Particularly as it was done while driving on the wrong side of the road. While it was only 10AM, I decided to treat myself to a shot when we found a spot for lunch.
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Oct 25th, 2012, 05:20 AM
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Home at last. With a case of hives, the 36+ hours of straight travel was not comfy. I think it is a reaction to Malarone. (other possible culprits were Rooibos Moisturizer or Organic Shiraz, but I think the most likely source was the Malarone.) Noted for future.

I promise an actual trip report. May repeat some of the updates from this thread, but there are SO many stories to tell, it really does merit a full TR
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Oct 25th, 2012, 08:47 AM
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Welcome home!
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Oct 27th, 2012, 01:09 PM
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Glad you're back safe and it sounds like a stellar trip. Happy for your daughter as well.
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