Trip Report - South Africa, Botswana, Zambia

Jan 6th, 2005, 07:30 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 43
Trip Report - South Africa, Botswana, Zambia

We just returned home from the most incredible trip ever! This was our first safari but definitely not our last!

We started in Cape Town at the Bay Hotel. Although many people told us that the Cape Grace was nicer, we were extremely happy with the hotel, especially the location. It was so nice to wake up every morning and look out onto the ocean, rather than being in the harbor, which in my opinion was very touristy and too crowded. The Bay Hotel had a very relaxing feel and the service was great. We were there for 4 nights and 3 full days - the first day we went to Table Mountain and then shopping at the waterfront in the afternoon. We spent most of our time at the African Trading Post - what an amazing store! The second day we rented a car and went to boulders beach and the cape of good hope, and the last day we did a full day tour of the winelands. We ate at some great restaurants, especially Moyo at Spier. I thought it would be more touristy than it was but it turned out to be one of our best nights in Africa! Overall, we truly fell in love with Cape Town. What a beautiful beautiful city!

Next, we were off to Mala Mala. I cannot say enough GREAT things about this camp! The people who work there are just amazing. The game viewing is incredible and we got the honeymoon tent, which really topped it off! I don't know if any of you remember any of my previous postings, but I am extremely afraid of snakes. This fear took away from my enjoyment a bit, especially after our ranger told us that a very large cobra slithered on to the deck during lunch a few days before we got there! But, I made my husband do a snake check in our room every night and I was very careful about looking at the ground when I walked during the day. We did see one rock python, but it was on the side of the road during one of the game drives. I closed my eyes immediately, so it was a relatively painless encounter!

We saw every animal imaginable except for Cheetah. I think one of my highlights was watching a pride of lionesses with their cubs playing in the sand one afternoon. How adorable! We also saw lions every day sleeping in the grass. They look so makes you want to get out of the landrover and go and rub their bellies! Even their manes wer looked as though they had just come from the beauty parlor Once it got dark out, on most nights we followed both cheetah and lionesses hunting but unfortunately were not able to follow them for too long because the bush was too dense. Another highlight was seeing about 10 hyaena and 25 vultures tear apart a giraffe carcass. Our ranger said that the giraffe looked like he slipped and broke his neck after a rainstorm. poor thing
We also saw many baby ellies which were SO so cute. I wanted to take one home with me! Overall, Mala Mala was amazing. Oh, I forgot to mention that Christmas Eve there was wonderful. They decorated the whole boma. It looked amazing. We were entertained all night. The rangers performed some funny skits and then the waitresses sang and danced. It was great.

We had a one day layover in Johannesburg and decided to stay at the Westcliff hotel. We were upgraded to the most beautiful suite. We didn't want to leave. This is probably one of the nicest hotels I've ever stayed at (besides the 4 seasons in Kona).

Next, we were off to Botswana to King's Pool. Again, another great camp! We were surprised that it wasn't full so at first we were a bit concerned that maybe it wasn't a great place to be. The staff were lovely and the camp was beautiful so we figured that even if the game viewing wasn't great, at least we were in a beautiful place with only a few other guests! The first few game drives were pretty disappointing but we did have one game drive that was amazing ... we saw lion, leopard, a herd of 30 elephants, giraffe, impala, warthogs, hippo and wildebeast all in one drive. the best part of it was that the elephants were walking to the river just as the sun was setting. it was absolutely beautiful!

Ok now here comes the scary part...the last night we were there we woke up around 1am after hearing some loud noises around our tent. Of course, its hard to get a good night sleep at Kings Pool because the hippos are so darn loud! But this was a different kind of noise... all of a sudden we heard treee branches falling on our roof and a lot of shuffling around. We figured it must be the bull ellie that is found wandering around camp all the time. We knew he was in camp that night because we saw him near another tent earlier on the evening. At first, I was calm because I figured that he just wanted to eat some trees around the tent and then he would leave. This went on for about an hour though - now, coming from NY this was not a fun situation. I found myself in full panick mode. I even started hyperventilating a bit because he just would not leave! At one point, we looked at the door of our tent and it looked as though the ellie was trying to come in! I begged my husband to blow the air horn (since there are no phones there) but he didn't want to because he was afraid that it would alarm the ellie and that he would throw over the whole tent. So we sat in silence for about 20 more minutes and then he finally went away. When we woke up the next morning we walked outside and saw that he had thrown over 2 large trees and demolished the whole wooden decking around our tent. We were very lucky that he decided not to trample our tent

I was quite happy to be leaving the next day! Our next (and last) stop was the Royal Livingstone at Victoria Falls. I must say that this is the only spot that I didn't love. The main parts of the hotel are very nice but the rooms are small and buggy. The staff there try very hard but they just dont have it right. It seemed like they just were not prepared to have a full hotel. The falls were pretty but were not at full force, so it was a bit disappointing. I guess after all of the amazing things we had seen on safari, the falls seemed rather uneventful. We spent NYE there which was very nice...they had a 7 course meal followed by a show. All in all a good time but I'm not sure I would visit again.

I have about 659 pictures but I will have to sort through the best ones to post online. I'll post them shortly.
It's so depressing to be home after such an amazing trip

anissrob is offline  
Jan 6th, 2005, 09:46 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,501
Thank you for the lovely trip report, anissrob. Aside from the interesting details you provided, let me thank you also for using paragraphs!

So glad you enjoyed your trip.

Wow, that was quite the experience with the elephant at Kings Pool!

I'll bet spending Christmas in the southern hemisphere, much less a game lodge, felt really different!

Yes, I remember your fear of snakes prior to your trip. Glad to hear things went relatively well in that respect.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jan 6th, 2005, 11:04 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 244
Thanks for your great trip report..I am counting the days til our first safari in May.
We too are starting off in Cape Town and then on to Botswana.
Your trip sounds exciting, can't wait to see some of your photos.
All the best in 2005,
wallybrenda is offline  
Jan 6th, 2005, 03:52 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 252
I really enjoyed reading your trip report...thanks for sharing. Glad to hear you survived the elephant...I was on the edge of my seat reading your harrowing account. There is peril in Africa and you were fortunate that the tree didn't land on the tent! : )
I return to Botswana in May and look forward to the trip each day.
girlpolo33 is offline  
Jan 7th, 2005, 12:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,220
Wonderful report, so glad you had a good trip! Looking forward to seeing some pics!
Kavey is offline  
Jan 7th, 2005, 04:54 AM
Posts: n/a
Great and exciting report, but coming from New York (as I do)... I probably would have simply gone back under the covers (we hear so many strange sounds in NYC, what's the big deal of an Elephant - remember the guy who kept a full-grown tiger in his apartment? - that's kind or ordinary in NY, not!) and hoped the Ellee would have changed its mind by the time I peeked out again. Admittedly though, I'm not all that brave and would have been shocked to see that my entire deck was gone when I opened the tent door. Wow! Rest of your trip was interesting. Do post photos if you can.

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