Sabi Sand Game Reserve (Sabie) – 2020 All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

The Rains in Africa, 2019 During our many safaris I could feel something special was dancing in my head. It wasn’t just the sighting of wild beasts just feet from us. I kept sensing something was different. Even sitting around the different guest lodges, discussing our daily excursions into the bush the same thoughts would spill into my conversations. I wasn’t alone. During our now famous ‘sundowner drinks’ at the end of a drive, or back at the lodge, fellow travelers would vaguely agree with my thoughts, trying to put those same curiosities into words. The sense of discovery was about to explode inside me. We would stand around with our favorite cocktail in hand and try to put this intangible into words. We collectively failed each time. Oh Hemingway, where have you gone? But home now and with some quiet time, I was again trying to collect my thoughts. Per chance to dream and quantify those thoughts for once and for all. It seems this question of quantifying my recreation experiences has haunted me ever since my formal college education. I didn’t care about “passing out volleyballs”, but “how much fun did you have?” Did the experience touch your soul? Were you happy inside? Quantify that! Here we go again, I thought. Trying to quantify the moment without a measuring stick. But I knew these experiences had changed me forever. Struggling to put my emotions on paper, my thoughts kept going back to one of the brochures from one of the lodges. I loosely quote: “If an African lion ever stares you in the eyes it’s as if he is looking into your soul and if you stare back, your heart will never leave Africa”. And simply, you have found the answer. Those eyes tell you everything. They tell you of the most recent “kill” and why it was made and the impact it has on the entire infrastructure; why the new lion leadership must kill the aging past leaders offspring to keep the genetics at the highest probability of survival; and how the lighter cats carry their kills to a higher perch that the bigger cats can’t reach. All along the hyena’s forage for table scrapes. We watched a watering hole one evening from our room and it told a story. More than 70 elephants took part. I was struck by the order that was taking place. Now all 70 couldn’t bath at once, drink water at once, or teach the younger ones the life saving value of water. Then I saw something, a sting of 15 or more came down a trail to the water. The elephants already watering began to leave the pond simultaneously. There was no bull standoff—no major scenes of bluster, maybe a little bellowing and fake charging. I think youth is the same everywhere. The departing elephants began an orderly exit into the bush. I thought they would now be gone for the night. But no! After a short period they all reappeared and began a slow orderly descent back to the watering hole. Now a group of other elephants began to leave the watering hole. This entire episode was being orchestrated by a larger order. After an evening of this choreography, I was exhausted but thrilled. From chaos came order. What if every incident in the bush country was given such brilliance. What if we just had to observe and understand? The animals weren’t blustering but acting out a brilliant drama. If left alone and not decimated by man’s mindless intrusions, the animals might go on for another thousand years. Of course, my perceptions are limited and perhaps simple, but I think I may have pushed my cerebral boundaries and formed a brief snapshot of the ongoing trials of Africa. And why the lion roars. One night the sky darkened and you could see the rain forming on the plains on the horizon. It was to rain just here and there; just enough I suppose to keep the actors working. I wanted the touch the rain and say I did so and it was fulfilling. What did surprise me was the smell. I live in Southern California, USA, and don’t have a PHD in rain, but this was different. The rains fell on extremely dry bush and dirt, mixed in with huge amounts of fertilizer (think elephant-sized) and the smell would knock you over. I would describe the smell as damp, overly heated hay–a smell like no other. My trip was so much more than I expected. I looked into the lion’s eye and I will never forget. Larry and Vilma Anderson Credits to the following: My wife planned our trip thanks to inputs from TripAdvisor on where to go first for wine in South Africa’s Winelands (Stellenbosch) and Camps Bay next to Cape Town. We flew nonstop from Los Angeles to London on British Airways, spent one night in London before going on to Cape Town next day. Upon arriving at Cape Town airport before lunch, we rented a car with Avis (no problems) to drive 30 minutes to Stellenbosch to enjoy lunch at Haskell Vineyards’ Longtable Restaurant with beautiful views of the Stellenbosh mountains and 4 small plates with wine, which included Fish Ceviche, Goat Cheese with something, Roasted Pork Belly, and Lemon Tart. Everything was perfect. After lunch, we then drove to Waterford Estate for their JEM tasting and had the Wine & Chocolate Experience. Very nice and, again, another beautiful setting. We then checked in and spent 2 nights at Asara Wine Estate & Hotel. For Dinner, we chose Delaire Graff Wine Estate Restaurant for amazing views of the vineyards and mountains, set between classy statuary throughout. Great drinks at their terrace for sunset before entering for dinner. Next day, we enjoyed a terrific lunch at Avontuur Estate–a Thoroughbred Estate, a winery, and a restaurant with fabulous views and beautiful horses as you drive up. Food was outstanding. All these reservations were made in advance back at home online. After two wonderful nights at Stellenbosch, we then returned rental car to the airport and took Uber to Camps Bay where we stayed in an ultra-modern and beautiful spacious Studio up the hill from the main beach. Found this on Booking.com but verified reviews on TripAdvisor. The proprietor was such a gentleman and very attentive, helping us with suggestions, logistics, and even lending us his phone to make it easier to call Uber, make dinner reservations, etc. He was so thoughtful. After our first 4 nights in South Africa, then the real planning took place for our “Dream Vacation Safari in four wonderful Game Lodges”. I left all the logistics to very capable hands of Carl Preller of Rhino Africa. He did an outstanding job of making everything so perfect, running smoothly throughout the rest of our almost 3 weeks safaris near Kruger National Park, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, and two other lodges in Botswana. He suggested the lodges and I heartily agreed. They were too wonderful for words. First two lodges were Elephant Plains and Notten’s Bush, both adjacent to Kruger National Park and part of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. The lodges, the service, the people and the food were terrific. He arranged all the travel logistics with travel transfers along the way, which included small-chartered flights. Everything went so smoothly, thanks to Carl. After Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe side, we then flew to Savute Safari Lodge in Botswana in Chobe National Park. Again, amazing! Then we flew to Camp Moremi still in Botswana at the edge of the Okavango Delta–a very classy lodge. We loved the people, the service, the classy accommodations, and especially loved the singing of the staff, which made us feel so welcomed and so special. We are so grateful for Carl for an outstanding job and his professionalism. What a fabulous 48th wedding anniversary memory we will have forever! After all our safaris, we then flew to the beautiful Seychelles from Jo’burg for rest and relaxation. Carl, again, arranged flights, hotel, and transfers to/from Mahé, then ferryboat to La Digue, where we stayed at a wonderful small hotel, Le Repaire. Again, the staff, especially Mae, the receptionist was so nice and helpful as well as the entire staff were friendly and accommodating. We enjoyed our stay in La Digue, riding rental bikes to the boulders beach in Anse Source D’Argent, then around the island to Patates Beach during the 5 nights there. We also took a 15-minute ferryboat to the nearby island of Praslin to visit Vallee de Mai Nature Reserve to see giant palms and their famous Coco de Mer coconut, which is the largest seed in the world! Beautiful islands, but hot and humid in late October.…

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