Part two of my year in review series takes us to my unforgettable birthday trip to South Africa.
After my safari to Tanzania last year I was determined to go on another safari to celebrate my 40th birthday this year. In my mind it only made sense since I already had the clothing and equipment necessary for a safari. The first leg of our trip was in Johannesburg and we stayed at the lovely at the African Pride Melrose Arch hotel. The hotel did not disappoint and the location in the Melrose Arch district could not be beat as we were within walking distance to many shops and restaurants. In JoBerg we visited all of the highlights including emotional visits to Constitution Hill, the Apartheid Museum and Soweto. Unfortunately we didn’t make it to Robbin Island as the weather did not cooperate. After a couple of days in JoBerg we drove to Madikwe Hills Private Game Lodge for a four day safari. Although I originally had my mind set on doing a safari in the greater Kruger area (Sabi Sands, Timbavati and Thornybush) I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to stay at the 5-star Madikwe Hills Private Game Lodge which was top notch all the way including the accommodations, food, service and safari guides. They were even able to accommodate vegetarian options for each meal which I greatly appreciated.
One difference between this safari and my previous one is that we stayed at one lodge and we had two game drives a day instead of being out almost all day which made for a more relaxing pace . On top of that Madikwe Game Reserve is much smaller than Kruger and the Serengeti so we had great up close viewing of the animals. During our game drives we were lucky to have several sightings of rare African wild dogs. One of the sightings even included them taking down a bush buck and eating it for breakfast! Another highlight of the trip, albeit much less gruesome, was seeing a pride of female lions and their five cubs during an evening drive. Unfortunately, as things in the bush can be unpredictable, our jeep got stuck and we ended up a little too close to the pride for my comfort as night was falling. Because I had watched Mygrations on NatGeo I didn’t panic because according to that reality show all we had to do was light a fire to keep the predators at bay. Thankfully, it didn’t come to that and another jeep arrived to take us away from the danger zone. Saying I had several glasses of wine that evening is an understatement. Other adventures while on the safari include being warned of the presence of scorpions and actually seeing one while at dinner (it didn’t look anything like what I thought a scorpion would look like) and hearing about a black mamba sighting, the world’s deadliest snake, by a couple that was on safari with us.
After surviving four days in the bush we flew to Cape Town for a change of pace and no wildlife threats.In Cape Town we visited the colorful Bo-Kaap and the beautiful and thriving Victoria & Alfred. We also organized a private tour went to Seal Island to see a colony of seals and then made our way to Boulders Beach to see penguins and made a must visit stop to the very windy Cape of Good Hope. On our last full day in Cape Town we did a wine tour of the amazingly beautiful Stellenbosh and capped off the trip with a delicious lunch at the Delaire Graffee Estate.