Not even rain can ruin the allure of hearing the call of the wild on an open plain. That’s what CAA Travel Professional Veronique Pelletier found out recently on a South African safari. For even as raindrops threatened to wreck her group’s first excursion at Kruger National Park, one of the largest game reserves in the country, she says the excitement on the savannah was unstoppable.
“It started to pour on our first night in Kruger, during our evening game drive, so our Ranger asked us if we wanted to go back to the lodge,” she says. “But the whole gang agreed to continue, so on we went.” Their sense of adventure paid off and they ended up seeing a range of exotic animals up close and personal. “It was the ultimate high, to be on a game-drive at night in the middle of Kruger, with warm rain falling all around us, so close to lions, zebras, and giraffes…we had the most amazing time,” she says.
Little wonder, since Kruger is well-known for the high-density of wild animals that call the park home, including the Big Five: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalos. With almost 20,000 square kilometres of land in the north-east of the country, Kruger is also home to a diverse range of birds such as vultures, eagles and storks, as well as hundreds of other mammals.
“It doesn’t get any better than that,” Pelletier quips; especially since the safari jeep the group travelled in came equipped with a warm parka for every passenger and a hot water bottle for the cooler evenings and early mornings, among other personalized amenities.
But that’s not all she got to see and do. Accommodations for her trip included stays at such iconic hotels as the Le Franchoek Hotel & Spa located in the heart of the Winelands of Cape Town, the luxurious 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa in the city’s outskirts, the Kapama Southern Camp at Krueger, and the boutique property with Italian flair, the Da Vinci Hotel in Johannesburg – all four and five-star properties that were well-situated enough to give her the chance to explore some of the most exciting attractions that South Africa has to offer.
“From visiting the vineyards to exploring Cape Peninsula and Cape Hope, there was so much to see and do,” Pelletier says. But by far another of her favourite activities on the trip was an excursion up Table Mountain, a flat-topped promontory offering undoubtedly one of the best views of the city of Cape Town. In fact, so beloved is the massif that it’s even featured on the city’s municipal flag.
Not sure if a trip to South Africa is for you? Pelletier begs to differ: “South Africa is a destination for anyone, from young backpackers and students who have been to places like Australia or South America, to young couples looking for a different experience after visiting Europe,” Pelletier says.
If you’re done with the all-inclusive Caribbean or Mexican holidays at higher-end properties, than consider South Africa, she says. “Even retirees searching for an epicurean experience, whether their looking to experience game drives or not, will find that South Africa is a wonderful introduction to the African way of life,” she says, adding that the country “still has all the modern amenities of city living, it really has something for everyone.”
So much so that Pelletier is already considering heading back to South Africa, and even adding Kenya and Tanzania to her bucket-list of vacation destinations. If you’re interested in travelling to South Africa, Pelletier offers this piece of sage advice: “Be knowledgeable about the destination, and open minded… and don’t forget to pack quality shoes, a good camera with a zoom, binoculars and your sense of adventure.” It certainly served her and her group well that night on safari at Kruger Park!
Don’t forget to attend CAA’s Africa travel information sessions taking place in Ottawa this April. Click on the following links to RSVP for the specific event nearest to you:
Join our knowledgeable hosts over complimentary snacks and refreshments as CAA puts the spotlight on spectacular South Africa and other countries on the Dark Continent. You’ll get a chance to talk to CAA’s dedicated team of Travel Professionals and ask about everything from flights and food, to vaccinations and visa requirements.
But hurry – space is limited at both Travel Talks. Find out more information about them, and other Travel Talks here.