South Africa

Admittedly, I was skeptical when first told that a trip to South Africa would be life changing…life changing, really?

A South African vacation exposes one to the culture and sheer beauty of Cape Town, significant history in Johannesburg, the awe of viewing the ‘Big 5’ on safari, and the majesty of Victoria Falls, to name just a few of the highlights.

While in Cape Town, one should spend an afternoon travelling via cable car to the top of Table Mountain high above the city. The views are breathtaking, and on a clear day affords glimpses of Robben Island and the entire peninsula. Taking a leisurely walk along the paths, you will see lovely flowers and plants indigenous to this area of the world. A wonderful introduction to Cape Town.

An essential day trip from Cape Town includes a drive down the coast to the Cape of Good Hope. On this drive I’ve seen penguins, baboons, and wild ostrich running alongside our vehicle! And, if it’s the right time of year, you’ll see whales migrating off the coast. The biodiversity, flora & fauna are amazing. Another day trip from Cape Town (an overnight is preferred) would include a journey along the wine route with stays in Franschhoek or Stellenbosch. This region is the heart of the centuries old wine making tradition of South Africa. The scenery is spectacular, the pace laid back, and the villages are charming..not to mention the phenomenal food & wine. And finally, a stay in Cape Town would not be complete without a visit to Robben Island, the site of Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment for 18 years. A trip to Robben Island will be truly impactful and will provide perspective for the remainder of your time in South Africa.

The combination of time spent in sophisticated Cape Town contrasted with the casual setting found on safari makes for a perfect blend of experiences. The animal sightings in the bush and stories from the day are shared with your fellow travelers over a drink in the evening. Early morning and late afternoons are reserved for game drives, with the heat of the midday saved for some downtime and ‘siestas’. My afternoons were often spent floating in the infinity pool watching the migrations of elephant or water buffalo coming to drink at the riverbed. The wildlife is abundant with many visitors spotting the ‘Big 5’ (elephant, lion, buffalo, rhino, and leopard), but they see so much more, such as giraffe, zebra, antelope, hippo, hyena, and the list goes on and on. You are in their natural habitat, and able to get so close to the animals that the photos you take will be worthy of National Geographic!

A few days at Victoria Falls is a nice way to cap off a trip to South Africa. The falls are among the largest on the planet at over a mile wide and 350 feet high. Also known as the ‘smoke that thunders’ their mist can be seen for almost a dozen miles away.

No longer the skeptic, I do find South Africa life changing…so much so that it would lead to many return visits.