Here's our itinerary as it actually happened:
SOUTH AFRICA 2/5-10 ' all on our own
2/5 Radisson Waterfront, Cape Town
2/6,7 Akademie Guest Houses, Fraenschhoek
2/8,9 Table Bay Hotel, Cape Town
TANZANIA 2/10-18 ' with Royal African Safaris
2/10-14: Southern Serengeti, private safari camp, near Ngare Nanyuki River
2/15: Ngorongoro Crater Lodge
2/16-18: Mahale Mountains Greystoke
KENYA 2/19-3/5 ' with Royal African Safaris
2/19-21: Solio Ranch, private safari camp
2/22-23: Loisaba Wilderness, Loisaba Lodge
2/24-26: Lake Nakuru National Park, private safari camp, Soy Sambu campsite
2/27-28: Rusinga Island, Lake Victoria, Rusinga Island Lodge
3/1-3: Maasai Mara National Reserve, private safari camp, Roots Crossing on Sand River
3/4: Nairobi, Ngong House
After much hectic preparation, we left our VT home at 3:00pm Feb 3 for a 7:10 business class flight from Boston/London/Johannesburg/Cape Town. A few notes about the journey:
' Because of the length of the trip, we were unable to check in all the way through (we were traveling for more than 24 hours) ' but- the admiral clubs can work miracles with regards to seating and ticketing! For us, a big reason to fly business class (only on miles, of course!).
' We got a day-room at the Hilton at LHR, and would do it again if we had a long enough layover ' the 2 hour nap in a bed and the shower was heaven!
' If you have to connect through Johannesburg, leave yourself plenty of time if you need to clear customs. We had a 2 hour layover, and BARELY made our connecting flight ' they had 3 international jets arrive at the same time, and it overwhelmed their customs area.
' We had to change terminals at JBO, and used a porter to guide us ' glad we did, it was a little confusing.
' The Cape Town airport is fairly easy to negotiate.
Upon arrival in Cape Town on Feb 5, we took a cab to the Radisson Waterfront hotel. It was a very nice property, with a nice view of the ocean, and it was a little more reasonably priced than the Table Bay. We were there so we could get a good night's sleep before heading out to Fraenschhoek in the morning, returning via taxi to the airport to get our rental car.
The drive from Cape Town to Fraenschhoek was beautiful ' highly recommended! We stopped at Spier (after missing it the first time around ' fire that darn navigator anyway ' oops, that would be me!) so we could pet the Cheetahs and have lunch. We chose to pet the cubs (and now I wish we had visited one of the adults) and it was great fun. There were 3 cubs' 2 males, 1 female, all of whom were sleepy and hot. The female purred like a kitten the whole time we were with her. One of the males thought Peter's butt might be fun to play with ' the keepers got a little anxious and made Peter move. They do watch and restrict your movements ' stay behind them, only touch their backs etc. as there is some concern about passing on disease. I'm glad we did it as I am always happiest being a tourist.
While driving through the 'pass', we stopped at a wine farm that had a shop called The Olive House. We did an olive oil tasting (rather than a wine tasting ) and that was a lot of fun.
We managed to find the Akademie Guest Houses without any problems and were thoroughly enchanted by both the property and our hosts. Arthur and Katherine made us feel very welcome ' they had made our dinner reservations a month or 2 before we were to arrive, they include laundry as part of their service, they gifted us with a small bottle of champagne (oops 'sparkling wine), the gardens are beautiful, and the cottages (ours was Oortuiging) are very comfortable. Their pets (2 dogs, 3 cats) are friendly too, breakfasts can be as elaborate as you want, and it is all within walking distance to downtown. The only thing to be aware of is that the structures were built in the 1860's ' when people were shorter. Peter is 6'2, and he did bump his head a couple of times in various places on the property, and the bed, while being plenty wide, felt a little short ' even for me at 5'3'.
Dining in Fraenschhoek: We had dinner at le Bon Vivant ' outstanding!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Peter thought it was the best food he has ever had (I said this before, I'll say it again ' THANK YOU KAVEY ! ). We also had dinner at the French Connection ' which was good. Lunch was at la Petite Ferme. It was just ok (feels like I'm committing a sin saying that)- the dish that missed was Peter's duck breast; extremely fatty and a miniscule portion. However, the view at la Petite Ferme is beautiful!
We spent our time in Fraenschhoek doing some shopping in town, a long drive around the valley ' really gorgeous scenery, resting by our private pool, and acclimating to the time change.
We then headed back to Cape Town and the Table Bay Hotel for 2 nights. Nice hotel ' balcony, lovely view of the Table Mountain and the harbor seals, good service, convenient location, expensive. I was glad we were there rather than elsewhere (sorry Rocco ' we did see the apostles, but for us it would have been too far out for a first time visitor with very limited time). We enjoyed our time in Cape Town-Table Mountain is beautiful and the cable car ride was fun. The cloud formations are amazing ' we've never seen anything like it ' perfect, blue skies, with those clouds just POURING over the mountains like a waterfall. Beautiful and mystical! The drive we took around the cape was wonderful ' beautiful scenery, and some wildlife sightings. (Baboons, Penguins, Seals, Bontebuck, Rock Hyrax, Lizards) We had dinner at Baia ' an interesting place, but overpriced, average food, perfunctory service.
We are country-folk at heart, and we wanted to be well rested for when we got to the parks for the wildlife but we also really wanted to see Cape Town ' one of the world's most beautiful cities ' and it did not disappoint.
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Here's our itinerary as it actually happened: