Review of Africa

We recently had three of our Fox World Travel employees have the pleasure of experiencing Africa and all that it has to offer. Cindy Brill from our vacation division operations team joined Jody Piotter from our Oshkosh office and Mary Lou Gazdik from africa21 our Fox River Mall Appleton location on this exciting adventure!

Hotels

Durban, South Africa

Our home for the first 4 nights was the 5 star Southern Sun Elengani hotel.  While the hotel was comfortable and service was wonderful, my favorite part was walking across the street along the 4 kilometer boardwalk and putting our feet in the Indian Ocean.  Check off yet another body of water from the list of available oceans to experience.

Southern Sun Elengani and their sister property, Maharni are wonderful places to stay in Durban with 734 nice size rooms, two fabulous buffet breakfast venues , eleven restaurants and bars, two fully equipped gyms and three beautiful swimming pools for travelers to enjoy. Internet is available in the lobby and at times worked well in the rooms. Internet is free for unlimited access.

Tours-

Durban- not necessarily a selling destination as the attractions and sights are minimal and africa a bit unnecessary; however for our venue of being hosted at the Indaba Conference, it did the trick.

Moses Mabhida Stadium– which was built for the 2010 Olympics for Soccer.   It was great to learn about the arena and how they color code the seats to look like ocean waves and a sandy beach.  This also allows for the perception of a full stadium on the TV; even though it’s not full.  You can take a tram type ride up the arch of the stadium with a stop at the top in which you can get off, walk around and see the sites of Durban.

uShaka Marine World–  a bit of Sea World with a bit of Noah’s Ark mixed in one theme park offering a dolphin show and multiple large aquariums.  It would not be considered a africa2 “must see” unless you had small children to entertain.

The Blue Train- Amazing!!!  This is a luxury train that travels from Durban to Johannesburg as one of its more popular routes.  You will experience mahogany wood bars, tables, doors etc. with the navy blue theme, hence the name Blue Train.  The rooms/beds are topped with down comforters that are so cozy and inviting for bedtime.

Hotels   africa3

Capetown, South Africa

15th on Bath- This hotel is a 5 star hotel with very trendy, modern décor.   This hotel is a 10 minute cab ride from the waterfront.  The clientele is mostly comprised of business travelers, artists and musicians.

Taj – One of the Leading Hotels of the World, this five-star offers a combination of rich history and elegant contemporary charm.  It has boasting world class service, a spa, a africa5wonderful hot breakfast buffet and Jaguar car service free of charge to the waterfront.

The One & Only – A beautiful, urban chic waterfront resort central to exciting nightlife and entertainment.

Tours-

Capetown has a lot to offer and is very comparable to San Francisco in which it has a waterfront, financial district and wine country.

Table Mountain

After a 5 minute gondola ride to the top, above the clouds you will experience views of the africa6ocean on one side and the city of Capetown on the other.

Cape of Good Hope-   The Cape of Good Hope’s visitor’s center offers a restaurant, gift shop as well as the Flying Dutchman funicular that runs between the main parking lot and the old lighthouse or you could choose to  walk  up the paved path. Either way, DO NOT miss the beautiful sites from the lighthouse to the ocean and cliffs below. africa9

Seal Island Cruise A small island off the northern beaches of False Bay, near Cape Town, in South Africa. The island is so named because of the great number of Cape Fur Seals that occupy it. There are many cruise options for a cruise of less than one hour to check out Seal Island.

Penguin SanctuaryYes, we did see penguins on the beach at Table Mountain National Park.  africa12

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens – This beautiful garden offered a nice walk even on a cool autumn afternoon.  We found limited flowers, but really enjoyed the many sculptures.  The gardens showcase only indigenous South African plants. There is a restaurant and tea-room as well as gift shops and a nursery.

Wine Country – The South African wine country is for the most part set in valleys nestled between rugged mountains. The climate of the Cape is unique in Africa, it is a Mediterranean climate – meaning that it has warm dry summers and experiences its rainfall during the mild winter months.  Stellenbosch, at the heart of the wine country is South Africa’s second oldest town and well worth a visit. africa14Famous for its Cape Dutch architecture and oak line streets this historical town is an ideal point to start your exploration of the area.   Our new favorite blend is the Pinotage.  A blend of Pinot Noir and Montage….you must try it.

Kruger National Park – Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge is a sanctuary sculpted into a slope of the earth, almost invisible in the landscape.  On arrival a hidden corridor leads you down on a journey to a unique and unforgettable experience. The unexpected entrance opens to a panorama of uninterrupted natural beauty.   With only thirteen suites you get a very personal experience.  Each of the suites at this luxury lodge features individually designed furniture, private plunge pool, en-suite bathroom and an indoor and outdoor shower.

Each morning and evening you will depart from this luxury safari lodge into the wilderness, either by open Land Rover or on foot for a walking safari, accompanied by your armed and knowledgeable Game Ranger and Shangaan Tracker.

Each ranger we met was more charming than the last.  We thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship we shared with them.  My favorite was the stories of celebrity visits.

Mala Mala Lodge and Sable Camp

Mala Mala is comprised of 8 luxury suites, 10 luxury rooms, 1 single room and 5 b-grade rooms.  We spent two nights here and definitely would recommend 3-4 at minimum.  The grounds are very rustic and peaceful with a deck for a good cup of coffee/glass of wine and africa15tranquility.  We especially enjoyed our dinners in the Mala Mala Boma. A Boma is an enclosure that keeps the animals out while you dine under the Southern Hemisphere sky. We enjoyed the ethnic entertainment under the stars.

Sable Camp offers 7 luxury suites and would be the best option for honeymooners and luxury guests .  They are 2 room suites with your own whirlpool hot tub outside, wrap around deck, living and dining area with separate bedroom and concierge service.

This is what’s known as a “Sundowner”.  The ranger will park the vehicle in a safe, open spot (for the moment) about ½ hour prior to sunset.  He sets up a picnic with wine, africa17cheese, crackers and popcorn along with the opportunity for beautiful sunset pictures. For you ladies reading this….now you know why we had “khaki fever”.

Johannesburg

With very limited time in this Capital City.  Our guides felt it most important to teach us about the history of the great country.  We spent the half day in Soweto, an urban area of the city of Johannesburg in Gauteng, South Africa, bordering the city to the south. This suburb of Johannesburg was made famous in May of 1976; it was the sight of the Soweto Uprisings and its aftermath.  While in Soweto we visited the Hector Pieterson Memorial africa18Museum and the Mandela House.

Conclusion:

“There are as many Africas as there are books about Africa — and as many books about it as you could read in a leisurely lifetime. Whoever writes a new one can afford a certain complacency in the knowledge that his is a new picture agreeing with no one else’s, but likely to be haughtily disagreed with by all those who believed in some other Africa. … Being thus all things to all authors, it follows, I suppose, that Africa must be all things to all readers.”
Africa is mystic; it is wild; it is a sweltering inferno; it is a photographer’s paradise, a hunter’s Valhalla, an escapist’s Utopia. It is what you will, and it withstands all interpretations. It is the last vestige of a dead world or the cradle of a shiny new one. To a lot of people, as to myself, it is just ‘home.”
― Beryl Markham, West with the Night

This book West with the Night, was given to me as a gift. It is written so well that I know I will want to read it often. As I read it the first time, I marveled at the gift Beryl has in putting her thoughts into words that flow so beautifully. My intrigue with Africa has been africa20with me for a long time and I was fortunate enough to experience South Africa.

Our first stop in Durban at the Indaba conference  gave us opportunities to meet and greet the heart and soul of African tourism, the day to day people that provide lodging, tours, safaris, wine, food and transportation to the clients we could send to meet the mystical Africa that Beryl Markham knew well. We were at times overwhelmed with the magnitude of this event but trudged on listening, learning and experiencing the diversity of presenters. We took solace in the fact that we now have contacts 18 hours away that can help us better choose the best experience for travelers that want this kind of adventure.

Cape Town wowed us in a way that we could not explain. It may have been the fact that no matter where we were in the city, Table Rock Mountain was looking down on us with all of its majesty. We loved the beautiful harbor, the diverse choices of hotels that all offered something unique, yet comfortable, the fact that in driving distance we could see penguins, africa22seals, the Cape of Good Hope, any number of excellent wineries, a fabulous botanical garden, cities with picturesque restaurants to dine in and oh, by the way FABULOUS shopping at reasonable prices. The historical significance of Cape Town had us hoping for more time to explore a city that reminded us of San Francisco in some ways.

The fact that we were on the move again was certainly filled with great anticipation since we were heading to our different Safari lodges by plane. Some to Richard Branson’s extravagant lodges, others to 50 year old historical lodges bordering  Kruger National Park. This was by far the HIGHLIGHT for all of us.  We knew the time was going to be short and surprisingly, even though we only stayed two short nights, we all had stories to tell and amazing photos to share of the BIG FIVE and more. We had 5 chances to go out on safari and because these are private reserves that we stayed at, no more than three vehiclesafrica23 can stop when animals are spotted. Rangers work together to give the patrons the best possible experience. The Rangers not only tracked, drove and educated us; they also served us our food and made us feel very welcome and safe. They provided us on the cool morning and evening safaris with cozy blankets and the best surprise was a nice warm water bottle to put on our lap.

Our final stop was Johannesburg where for the first time we saw extreme security measures on most homes and businesses. We did a tour of the city and Soweto, but did not have time to delve into all of the possibilities to explore. Flight time home was about 18 hours back to Washington D. C. or New York. We were fortunate to have this chance to africa24experience some of South Africa on this trip. It was truly memorable for all of us and we hope to give others a trip so Africa can be a familiar place to them. Contact one of our Africa specialist travel agents to start planning your African adventure!
“Africa is less of a wilderness that a repository of primary and fundamental values, and less a barbaric land than an unfamiliar voice.”

Beryl Markham, West with the Night


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