Our roving reporter Mags recently enjoyed a trip of a lifetime to South Africa and Zambia and husband Teri was happy to be bag carrier! (Although I don't think they needed to carry their own bags at all!). Here is an overview from Teri of this amazing holiday, from the stunning beaches and fabulous food and wine of Cape Town, along the tracks of Rovos Rail into the heart of 'real Africa' to my old home (Jules) of South Luangwa National Park and ending in style at Victoria Falls! Contact us for your own trip of a lifetime.
We flew into Cape Town and were met by Neville who drove us to the Last Word in Constantia. This is a small and intimate boutique B&B but despite that word ‘small’ our room was rather on the large side with a bathroom bigger than some hotel rooms I’ve stayed in!
We were lucky with the weather, it being winter in South Africa, and had blue skies and sun for the four days we were there. The V and A waterfront was great for shopping and Mags also got us a tour of the fabulous Silo hotel with it's stunning glass fronted rooms and roof top view of Table Mountain!
We skipped Table Mountain and the usual tourist attractions as we’ve been to Cape Town before then we boarded the luxurious Rovos Rail for our 3-day train ride from Cape Town to Pretoria.
This is like stepping back in time and into an Agatha Christie novel! Luckily no-one was actually murdered while we indulged in full breakfasts, snacks, lunch, afternoon tea and cakes then dinner – formal attire, please, jackets and tie for the gentlemen, posh frocks for the ladies. We also stopped off at the Kimberly diamond mine but didn’t purchase any...
The food and service on Rovos Rail is second to none and sitting on the outside deck of the observation car, wine in hand, watching the veldt slipping past is something special.
From Pretoria we drove to Johannesburg for one night at The Monarch before our flight to Zambia the next day.
B & Q probably do garden sheds that are bigger than Mfuwe airport but it’s always a joy to see a smiling face with a card with your name on to greet you!
As RPS (Robin Pope Safaris) drove us through the villages to South Luangwa National Park, you realise you are now in the real Africa - dusty roads, potholes and bikes piled high, bumping along as the sun sets.
Nkwali is a proper bush camp and on our first night we lay awake inside our mosquito net listening to elephants eating our tree and bushes. By our second night we were old hands and sat up watching Humphrey, the resident hippo, munching the grass at the edge of our veranda. We saw some beautiful lions on a night drive ..
I went out the next morning, bright and early at 5 am with Kiki and Perry, our excellent guides on a game drive. Magsie stayed in camp to relax (with a glass or two of fizz, of course) and when I came back, very excited at having seen ‘everything except a leopard’ she smiled and said ‘it’s funny you should say that…’ She’d spent half an hour watching a leopard have a tussle with a crocodile at the water’s edge from the comfort of the lodge!
We flew on from Mfuwe via Lusaka to Livingstone, worried that the initial delay at Mfuwe would mean us missing our connection but…. this is Africa, as the saying goes, and our connecting flight was actually the same plane we had arrived on. We got off, our luggage came off, we identified it, it went back on, we got back on and off we went...
Arriving into Livingstone, on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls we were driven to our last lodge. Tongabezi is… something special. Our room was the Bird House which overlooks the mighty Zambezi river like all the houses there, has its own plunge pool, a roll top claw foot bath on the deck and comes with a valet. The service is impeccable, and your every whim is catered for.
We had the treat of a private lunch on a launch, just we two, cruising the Zambezi with our captain/waiter/sommelier, the excellent Fabias, at the helm.
We donned ponchos for our walk around Victoria Falls – Mosi-oa-Tunya, "The Smoke that Thunders" and were treated to the sight of a perfect circular rainbow in the spray.
During our time at Tongabezi we visited the local village which was great fun but a humbling experience at the same time ... then the school children came to the lodge to sing to us in the evening with the waiters which was just beautiful ...
Our sunset cruise on the last evening in Tongabezi had a real David Attenborough/Circle Of Life moment... We sipped fizz as we drifted past hippos and crocs and wondered about the vultures circling high overhead. The reason was revealed as we turned a bend and edged towards the Zimbabwe side. An elephant carcass lay on the sand, marabou storks and vultures feeding while daylight held, ahead of the arrival of the hyenas ... real life, real Africa...
An amazing experience with so many memorable moments in some fabulous places. We loved every minute...
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