Tom's African adventure: part I
This week, we’re joining Tom from our marketing team as he travels across southern Africa, discovering safari holidays and top-end hotels.
Day 1: Johannesburg - Entabeni
Even though we landed early this morning Stuart Douglas-Lee was waiting for us with our transport for the day, and we were off for a game drive in the Entabeni Game Reserve.
We drove around the reserve for an hour or so before a light lunch. Our safari ranger was an excellent and very knowledgeable host, and made the entire experience fun. After we drove the reserve for another hour, we made our way to the wildlife rehabilitation centre. The centre’s manager talked about the growing issues of rhino poaching and the preventative measures they’re taking to ensure their survival.
When a Vietnamese politician’s cancer was miraculous cured, supposedly by traditional Chinese medicine containing rhino horn, rhino poaching has becoming critical. According to our host, if nothing is done to prevent the poaching then the rhino will cease to exist.
We were then driven to a lion enclosure. We saw a lion that had been reared by hand after its family was shot by poachers. It was eventually released into its own enclosure with a female. You could tell from his mannerisms that he still recognised his adopted ‘mother’.
After a short drive we reached the ‘Lookout’ for a buffet style dinner and drinks, before we all eventually retired to bed for a much needed sleep.
Favourite moment of the day: My first encounter with giraffes - our first proper slice of Africa.
Day 2: Entabeni - Sandton - Johannesburg
We were up and ready to leave by 05:30 for a game drive around the reserve and eventually to the lakeside lodge. (I was awoken promptly by a knock at my door, stating the police were there - a not so funny joke from our ranger!)
We spent the early hours of the morning looking for the ever elusive lions and leopards. Along the way we were encountered by a grumpy old buffalo, a tower of giraffe, a dazzle of zebras, the occasional hippo and a huge heard of 10-15 elephants as well as my personal favourite - four rhinos enjoying the early morning sunshine, a few of which were rescued and cared for by the wildlife centre we visited the previous day.
We then travelled up the gorge of Hangclip Mountain, a steep rocky road, to get to the Lakeside Lodge as used on the 'South African Safari Adventure' tour.
We were shown around the function rooms and living quarters before settling down for a spot of breakfast. The rooms were all easily accessible and the accommodation was more than adequate. Due to the time constraints for the day, we swiftly made tracks back to our rooms to pack, ready for departure to Johannesburg.
We arrived at the Maslow Hotel, Sandton, used as a one night stop over on the 'Tracks of Africa' tour. This hotel is a mesmerising 5-star hotel that was impeccably kept and had everything and anything you could need.
Favourite moment of the day: Early morning game drive in the Entabeni reserve then through the gorge up to the top of the Hangclip Mountain.
Day 3: Johannesburg - Kasane, Botswana - Chobe (Cresta Mowana)
Another early morning start, with just enough time to enjoy yet another hearty breakfast buffet. Once we were all sufficiently filled up for the day (or morning at least), it was time to leave for our flight to Kasane, Botswana. I had assumed our flight would be a relatively normal aircraft and not the 36 seater we eventually pulled up alongside.
We touched down at Kasane ‘International’ airport. The term ‘international’ was used a bit loosely. The immigration, customs, passport control and baggage collection was all in one room no bigger than a doctor’s waiting room.
Once we had completed our ‘security checks’ we were met by our guides from The Pride of Africa, Patrick and Kurt, who would be our keepers for the next few nights. We loaded up our luggage, hopped in our safari jeep and were on our way for a safari on the River Chobe. We sailed up the river parallel to Namibia and Botswana, seeing all the water loving animals you would have expected.
We first encountered a baby crocodile, before noticing a beautiful elephant grazing on the rich green grass. It then elegantly swam across the Chobe River to meet with the rest of its herd.
We also spotted the country’s most dangerous animal, the hippo. It majestically rose up from the water’s surface, blew the water from its nostrils and then sank back down so only its eyes were visible.
We then slowly sailed back to the lodge for our dinner, while watching the beautiful golden sun set over the African horizon.
Favourite moment of the day: Watching the sun set over one of nature’s most amazing places - the tranquil Chobe River.
Find out more about our African adventures.
Nicola considers herself very lucky to have had the opportunity to visit a number of places around the world and these experiences usually involve searching for as many kinds of wildlife as possible. Recent highlights include penguins in Antarctica, bears and whales in Canada and Alaska and sea otters in California - but there are always more animals to search for.
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