TOUR – INTREPID TRAVEL & VIVA HOLIDAYS
1 – WHERE DID YOU GO?
South Africa – Johannesburg & Kruger National Park
2- WHO WITH AND HOW LONG FOR?
I Travelled with a group of 7 other travel agents, an Intrepid Representative and a local Intrepid guide on a whirlwind trip to Kruger National Park and were away for 7 days.
3- WHO DID YOU FLY WITH AND HOW WERE THEY?
I flew with Qantas via Sydney then onto Johannesburg direct in economy.
The food was quite delicious with a variety of chicken, beef and vegetarian modern Australian fare and was more than plentiful for the 14 hours flight time between Australia and South Africa.
This was on the Qantas Boeing 747 aircraft which I sat in the window seat on a row two towards the rear. The seat width and height was a bit small and scrunched and the TV was quite small with limited viewing selection, that was not ideal on a 14 hours flight. The seat pitch between myself and the seat in front was quite good however there was some redundant space between the seat and the window that could have been utilised.
The aircraft is older and was a little weary and worn, however Qantas have vowed that these will be retired and replaced with the new Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
The hosts and hostess’ were very friendly and helpful as Qantas always are. I did want a book or ipad for entertainment from my back pack down from the overhead compartment, but the hostess did advise she couldn’t pass this to me so I did have to wait 4 hours for the seat buddy in the aisle seat to wake up and pull this down for me. So that was a little annoying, but I’ll know for next time.
4- WHAT WAS THE HIGHLIGHT?
So many highlights from sunrise walks, to baby elephants frolicking and an impromptu concert in Soweto, but for me the best of the best would be the full day game drive through Kruger Park. We set out in the dark at 05:30am in a truck that is a modified jeep with the rear seats seating above the drivers height with open front, back and sides and spent the day spotting predators, grazers and birdlife. Our ranger Johan had the sharpest eyes, being able to drive and scan our surroundings well off into the distance for Rhino’s amongst trees and lionesses stalking their prey by blending in with the sand. Johan also described each and every animals and birds habits and behaviours and was an encyclopedia of knowledge.
I also enjoyed a tour through Soweto and the Lebo’s Community Centre, locally owned and operated with our guide who told stories of the town, the people and history from before the apartheid till after. We also toured around the centre’s self sustaining farm and learned how the community volunteers tend to and care for the farm and it’s animals, built on an old refuse site that was repurposed for the locals to use as a garden.
We had a cooking lesson over an open fire in boiki – large cauldron style pot – with chicken and vegetable stews served with Pap, a cornmeal, polenta type dish too. Lots of spicy and smokey herbs and spices were added before we shared our efforts with the volunteers at the centre.
5 – WHAT WAS THE LOWLIGHT?
It was such a dream trip, there really wasn’t one. South Africa was not what I expected in the best of ways to the lovely, friendly people who were happy to share their experiences and their way of life to the heavenly scenery of canyons, rivers, forests and parks.
The only thing I didn’t like personally were the winding mountain and cliff side roads between Johannesburg, too steep and too high!
6 – BEST THING YOU ATE?
I think every person I travelled with developed and obsession with biltong, but our favourite was the Pampoenkoekies South African Pumpkin Fritters, these could be served savoury or sweet.
The talented chef at Bundox Safari Lodge spoiled us with desserts of mousse, apple pies and merengues every night too.
7 – WHERE WOULD YOU GO BACK TO?
Johannesburg, it is such and interesting city full of history. The different neighbourhoods and areas each with their own culture and traditions, so much to see and do. I would love to learn more and see more the conservation the country strives towards.
8- The ACOMMODATION
We stayed at the inclusive Bundox Safari Lodge just outside Kruger National Park.
The lodge is an estate with all outdoor bars, kitchens, dining areas, evening bonfire areas, a spa and treehouse lounges, which were stunning at sunset and sunrise.
We shared two people to a permeant tents which were spaced out enough for lots of privacy. Each tent included twin king single beds with fluffy pillows, doona’s and electric blankets to ward off the cool night air – the staff switched these on every evening which was heaven.
The ensuites were also half indoor/half outdoor so very chilly in the morning.
The lodge included breakfast, lunch when at the lodge and dinner daily.
We could hear the lions and impala that roamed the property at night.
In Johannesburg we stayed a night before and a night after the Lodge in twin rooms at the Holiday In Jonesburg Rosebank. Rosebank is an area with lots of shopping, hotels and restaurants in the North of Johannesburg. The hotel is attached to a shopping and food centre so was convenient and comfortable when venturing out for dinner of an evening.
9 – TRAVELLING TIP POST HOLIDAY & OTHER COMMENTS
Although the nights were bitingly cold, as were the early, early mornings, the day did heat up, so best to pack lots of layers.
There is quite a lot of walking around the lodges, hiking, scenic spots and waterfalls around the national parks and climbing in and out of the trucks which can be about two foot off the ground and lots and lots of time outdoors, morning, noon and night. Highly recommend packing comfortable shoes and clothes for all activities.
My best tip – definitely visit South Africa!