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Trip Report Cape Town and Safari trip report

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Thank-you to everyone who gave me tips the past several months. Wow, what a wonderful vacation!!
We started in Cape Town 5 nights at Winchester Mansions which was a very nice place right across from the ocean and sea wall promenade. Next time I would stay in Camp"s Bay, gorgeous beach and restaurants nearby, probably more expensive.

We took a trip up scenic gondola trip up to Table Mountain and did a city tour the first day and spent evening at the V & A Waterfront at a Belgian restaurant. We had great visibility going up and walking around the top of Table Mountain. It was perfect 78 degree weather each day in Cape Town, evenings were cooler but did not need a jacket.

The next day we went along the wine route and stopped in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. The towns were enjoyable, the wineries were very nice and the scenery beautiful.

The best, most scenic day was when we did the loop that included Chapman's drive along a cliff hugging road with gorgeous mountain, sea views.
Our next stop after passing beautiful flowers and vegetation was Cape Point light house and scenic overlooks with turquoise water and white sand beaches. We spotted surfers and this is good for whale watching from July to November. We went further down to the Cape of Good Hope and saw giant kelp beds and enjoyed water views that were just breathtaking. This area is known for aggressive baboons, we saw one riding on top of a car and a few in the road, they are not afraid of taking a sandwich out of your hand we heard over and over again.
On the way back along the east side we stopped at Bertha's in Simon's town for lunch and then went to Boulder Beach to see the Jackass penguins (sound like braying donkeys) The giant boulders and clear cerulean blue water was wonderful alone and the penguins were an added bonus. There were hundreds since it was mating season, we were able to see them digging a hole for a nest, throwing the sand way up into the air. We saw then swim ashore and in unison hop land onto the beach, witnessed penguin mating, nesting and a few furry gray babies. I could have stayed for hours.

The final stop that day was at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
The next day we were driven back to Cape Town airport and flew to Nelspruit to begin our Safari. We stayed 2 nights each at 2 &Beyond Lodges. The first was Kirkman's Kamp in the Sabi Sands the second Ngala Safari Lodge in Timbavati (a 3 hour, mostly bumpy ride between the 2) we loved both places. Each place had it's own personality and everything was very nice. Great accommodations with AC, nice bathrooms, wonderful staff, informative rangers and talented trackers. The food was delicious, plentiful and beautifully presented. Formal place settings at each meal (still trying to understand 3 knives on a place setting though) breakfast 9-10:30, lunch 1-2:30, dinner at 8:30. I've never experienced this level of service in any vacation.
The games drives exceeded my expectations. We were fortunate to see the big 5, hyenas, baby lion cubs, lions at night, animals at close range, beautiful birds, thousands of impalas, water buck, wildebeest, vervet monkeys, 3 kinds of tortoise, chameleons, lizard type creatures big and small, baby hippos, hippos in and out of the water, lots of elephants including babies, 5 leopards and many giraffes including a month old.

We even were lucky enough to see 30-40 wild dogs napping along a dry river bed in the shade, watch them awaken, all get up at once and gather in an open field and then start trotting through the bush. We saw a mother water buck hide her baby in a thicket and we watched 6 wild dogs pass the hiding place, we continued on and then heard a desperate, loud baa-ing sound, our ranger took off, dodging trees and bushes toward the sound and we say at least 15 wild dogs all doing a tug of war with the baby water buck, the mother rushed in, circled and then ran off. Within seconds the only visible parts we say carried off by the wild dogs was a leg bone, the tail and the head. Our ranger had never seen this process from start to finish.

During this same game drive we saw a baby zebra carcass, way, way up in a tree, dragged up there by a young leopard. The head and legs were clearly visible. When it was dark, before heading back to the lodge, we stopped by the tree to see if the leopard returned. There were 3 beautiful leopards in the tree. One youngster on the branch eating the carcass of the baby zebra, his brother on another branch on the opposite side of the tree and the mother on a lower branch. I was nervous it would jump from the tree and pounce on us.
The days on safari were hotter than Cape Town but the breeze from the moving vehicles was great. Bugs were not an issue due to the lack of rain. I had heard this was the rainy season and brought along, rain pants, jacket and water proof shoes.
This was our first trip to South Africa and we plan to return. It was very convenient to have drivers take us on the day trips from Cape Town and transfer us to and from the airport. The drivers were always on time, friendly and informative. We had found a tour company with positive reviews on an old Lonely Planet forum and went with them- Pembury tours. Through emails with Susan she planned the perfect itinerary for us based on our short 9 day stay. In our travels, we continued to hear positive feedback about this company. Thanks again to all of you who helped me plan this awesome vacation from your answers to my questions and previous threads and old trip reports!

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