A Travellerspoint blog

Ultimate South African Safari with Ntaba African Safari

Jim’s bucket trip

May 2-13 2022

This trip was first scheduled in 2019. It would be canceled twice before we would be able to go. All due to Covid of course. Then the breakout of omicron in AFRICA. the virus had us wondering if the trip would happen or not?

Michele Duquaine is our travel agent, and friend we have traveled with many times. She organized this whole trip through her vendor Ntaba African Safaris. It would be 12 days and 11 nights. Starting in Johannesburg-Capetown -Thornybush Game reserve. 40 people in the whole lodge. 8 flights total for the whole trip. She is so dedicated and really cares about her clientele. I like to do trips and all the planning but must admit when you do a group trip all the worries are gone. Organization and perfection to a tee. Thanks, Michele.

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On April 25 th we received

Don’t shoot the messenger!
Currently, there have been some cancellations going to and from South Africa! I am monitoring the situation- now flights are canceled through Wednesday.
There is a jet fuel shortage in South Africa due to an anomaly of flooding in Durham- 5 hours from Cape Town and 7 hours from Our safari camp. Specifically affecting United’s flights. This is the area where the ship tankers come in with the fuel.
The flooding won’t directly affect us- however, it is affecting the fuel disbursement.
I will keep everyone posted and really won’t know anything until Wednesday to see if those flights take off.

Thursday and Saturday flights were canceled! This is getting scary! I am not a depressed person but found my spirits down. We found out Saturday our flights were on. Phew, they had found gas!

We had gotten their currency in Rands from a local bank for the trip. 15 Rands to One dollar.

Jim and I left for Chicago on Sunday to park, sleep, and fly. In the morning took the shuttle to Airport for a 2:12 flight to Newark Airport. As We pulled up Michele’s bus from Wisconsin Milwaukee was just disembarking. We went in and checked in. Jim and I shared a meal at Chilis. Michele had packed us a goodie bag full of snacks for a long journey. Just another way she goes up and beyond! The planes were an hour late boarding to Newark. When we arrived we went to United Lounge to kill time and eat. We get one free pass a year for being United members. Had salad and little sandwiches and water. You could get free alcohol but I try not to drink before long flights. This one was 14 and half hours. We had premium seats and felt it was worth the extra room. Leaned back more and had a foot rest.
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The supper on the plane was chicken and rice.
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THEY SERVED US a good breakfast at 5 pm, yes 5 pm. We met a rep and walked to City Lodge hotel throughout the airport. Not hungry so I showered the stink AWAY and to bed at 10 pm. Slept pretty well. 6-hour time difference.

Wednesday, May 4th.

Up for A DELICIOUS breakfast. Check into Airlink flight to cape town. Arrive at Victoria & Alfred Hotel located on the waterfront by coach guide Greg and Martin driver. Check into Mountain facing room.
Had a glass of champagne on arrival.

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Went out for a walk on the waterfront.

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We left at 630 by bus to Gold for a dinner with drumming lessons and show paid for by Doug and Michele.
The gold restaurant offers an authentic African experience. You are immersed in a tasting of 14 courses while learning to drum. What an exhilarating time participating in the event. The entertainment was fun. They came around and painted faces

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Breakfast was included loved oysters on the shell. From the menu eggs Benedict and Avocado toast with a poached egg.

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Depart for Table mountain by cable car .The worlds new seventh wonder. At first, was enveloped in clouds. As we started on trails started clearing.
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We went to where they were hang gliding on signal mountain
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Nice picture opportunity with table mountain

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went to whinery

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We all split up to get served? Went to the Deli Greg suggested. Had the best lemon pie have ever had. Ate it first because we could.

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the waterfront is so nice with lots of restaurants to pick from. Greg recommended a great sushi restaurant Willoughby & Co

Breakfast at the Victoria Hotel
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Today was a rainy drizzly day . .Saw a baboon on the way and an ostrich. We visited Cape Point the most south-western point of the African Continent.
We enjoyed lunch at a local restaurant in Simons bay overlooking False Bay.

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African penguin's in the pelting rain African Colony at Boulders Beach.83E16B1F-9179-4B04-9440-DBB38734E797.jpeg

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supper tonight was a short walk from the hotel
Oysters on half shell, please, prawns for Jim and salad for me.
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I loved the fresh figs and oysters and pot of tea. French toast with banana and peanut butter was out standing. .079948D8-A92F-4733-8C1D-7E86B91D1072.jpegFFC48E9E-3462-403D-AAE3-D11BC8570ED9.jpeg

Day 6 had to have our suitcases out at 8 for transfer from Capetown to the airport to check into Hoedspruit Airport. Airlink flight to Hoedspruit Airport. Smallest airport with no luggage carasole.

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We jumped in vans and were headed to Thornybush Game Lodge in the Thornybush 35 thousand acreor 14 Hectors IT is nestled in the heart of big 5 country, part of Private game Reserve forms part of Greater Kruger National Park. his is an area that covers a massive expanse of unfenced wilderness.We got our first taste of what it would be like on the ride in. Saw elephant and baby, Giraffe, Cape buffalo,

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There were 20 different separate suites nestled in the heart of the big 5. We were in suite 14. At night and early mornings was walked to our room for safety. We heard hianas and lions one night. the bed was divine and when we got back at night the netting was down even though we never was any bugs. Jim loved the outside shower and wishes he had one at home.

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Tea time drinks and treats before game drive we would have 10 game drives while here. Each was a different expierence.To nights highlight was a leopard and combined with tomorrow nights leopard kill. I am going to group the animals togethether instead of day by day individual viewing and include highlights of the day.

Michele had a feeling that her vender who sold the trip would be in the area. Sure enough Robin and IMG_3845.JPGd92e1fa0-dbcd-11ec-8204-3b6738c278f3.JPGahowed up and road with us on evening safari and Morning safari. What a treat they were born in South Africa and now live in Tennesee.

Our ranger Sarah and Kenneth our tracker would be with us for all 10 game drives. They both were top notch. Sarah reminded me of my daughter in law Kate. She was so super informative and a pleasure to be with.

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She kept us calm. The leopard walked right past our jeep.The next night a leopard had an Impala in a tree.

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FOOD
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ZEBRA

Zeh bra not Zee bra is how they pronounce it. Why do Zebras have stripes. These striping differences coupled with the challenges that zebras face in their environment, have guided our understanding of how the stripes might work. While scientist still debate the exact orgins and functions of zebra stripes, their recent efforts have focused more closely on three possibilities protection from biting flies, thermoregulation and protection from predators.

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GIRAFFE
Graceful Girraffs are mesmerizing to watch. Giraffe's are vital to keeping ecosystems in balance. They eat the browse that others cannot reach, which promotes growth of forage and opens up areas for themselves and other smaller browsers to make use of. Importantly this means that by protecting Africa's giraffes, we are protecting other species too.lnteresting when walk move both right then both left legs. Their long legs allow to travel up to 35 miles per hour.Check out the tongue on the giraffe it can be up to 18 inches, it allows it to reach the highest leaves while avoiding the sharp thorns.IMG_E3747.JPG

We had a fun jeep, Michele and Doug, Michele's sister in law Lori and Jackie Jim and I and Ranger Sarah.
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We had signed up for a balloon ride. We would forgo one of our morning safari's to go. This was another bucket list item for us both. Our wake up call was 4 am and we left before five. 28 of our group was going and we would be in three balloons. It was a very bumpy ride to get there. When we arrived they were already starting to blow up the ballons. They told us which one we would be in according to our weight. We had 14 in our gondola and the driver. A little tricky getting in with short legs but I made it. Unbelieveable experience. Just like floating. I got a little nervous as it was time to land had to get in crouch position and hold on to ropes. Our pilot had 20 years of flying. Our landing was smooth . He warned us they are not always this good.We celebrated with glass champanee and nuts and dried fruit.

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ELEPHANTS
We saw an elephant and baby on way into game reserve then was skunked for two days. When Doug wore his lucky hat saw them everyday and Even a parade. Elephants are the only animal that can see people in the Jeep. The parade of elephants was one of my favorites. We was watching the Hippos who are rarely out of the water when Doug said here they come.

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HIPPOPOTAMUS

Hippotamus Every year across Africa, hippos kill an estimated 500 people, making them the world's deadliest mammal, after humans, and nearly twice as deadly as lions. Hippopotamuses are herbivories and rarely bother other animals. But males can become aggressive if they sense danger. Mothers may attack .
Hippos can even sleep underwater, using a reflex that allows them to bob up, take a breath, and sink back down without waking up. Yet despite all these adaptations for life in the water, hippos can't swim—they can't even float!They were fun to watch at night.

CAPE BUFFALO

Cape buffalo to me some of them look almost fake. The Cape buffalo's curved horns add to the stature of an already imposing animal, which can reach seven feet from tip to tail. Horns can help distinguish age and sex. In large adult males, the horns meet in the middle of their heads and are joined by a hard shield called a “boss.” This creates a helmet-esque formation.

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LIONS

We went on a safari twice A day for 9 safaris. Each time was different. Saw the lions sometimes morning and night. I did not realize we would come so close. They would walk right up and pass our Jeep. The pride group of 20 with the little cubs was my favorite. Tracking their foot prints proved to be challenging but rewarding when found them.One night as we were heading back to lodge they were in front of us leading us while they went on a hunt.

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RHINOCEROS

THEY are becoming extinct and probably were the hardest to find. We had seen them one day but had not come across them again. We went on a 45 min tracking adventure with Sarah and Ken both putting their tracking skills to work. They prevailed and the elusive mother and 3 year old were found deep in the bush.

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BIRDS OF AFRICA

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Sunsets are a kaleidoscope of colors emerging to kiss the sky. The African sky never disappoints at sundown.

sIMG_3652.JPGIMG_3846.JPGIMG_3851.JPG9233b9f0-dbc0-11ec-b563-d97520bb7519.JPGIMG_3381.JPGIMG_3850.JPGIMG_E2798.JPGIMG_3380.JPGIMG_3666.JPG936757f0-dbc0-11ec-b563-d97520bb7519.JPG91fc7d50-dbc0-11ec-b563-d97520bb7519.JPG we stopped for a cocktail, appetizer and dried fruit and bush brake of course.

My favorite suitcases have bit the dust. We have traveled with them for about 10 years and they were always easy to spot on turntable. They did not survive the 8 flights.

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xx

Posted by Cindygad 02:29 Archived in South Africa

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