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Africa… a Magical JourneyJune 27, 2014

Africa has become a popular destination for many of our travelers – with good reason! Here we share some accounts of their fabulous journeys. This will surely help others planning to experience the continent…. 

February 2015, travelers Diane and Ted shared a lively account of their African Adventure with our Ginger Morrissey:

The gorilla trekking was absolutely over the top for each of us. That we could get so close and be completely ignored (I think that there were about 11 of us) was spectacular. Cameras were clicking. After our treks, and with lovely accommodations in each place we stayed, we’d arranged for a flight to Ethiopia, to visit the single mom of the student we are supporting through our local private university. Mekdi is now half-way through her junior year, all As, which makes us feel proud for her. I am completely well from the bout of stomach problems, and am waiting for my raised bruise on my right shin to heal after a mother gorilla and her baby came careening down the trail and bumped into me. We’d been warned by Cyn that the way back we would expect slip and slide, but it apparently hadn’t rained for a couple of weeks, so the ground was blessedly dry. No slipping!

I wish we’d had time when in Rwanda to see the Memorial Museum as you had suggested. Not pleasant, but definitely part of its history.

We did take two hikes up the mountain, and even Ted remarked on how difficult it had been–tiring, but accomplished. That was the easy part. The hard part was when I was standing to the right of the trail when out of the blue came a 350 lb. mother gorilla down the path, and there just wasn’t room for both of us, so her 350 lb. heft bashed into my right shin. The gorillas seemed so passive and secure, knowing that we humans wouldn’t do them any harm.

Thank you SO much for making the trip possible. It was just perfect in every regard–even the hotels were spectacular. But the best part was actually being with the gorillas, who seemed to contentedly pretend that we weren’t even there! The babies were adorable!

We were knocked over by the luxury of our hotel(s), and the organized drives to the gorilla areas were smooth and positive. It was sad to observe the obvious signs of poverty, but we have been all over Africa in the past, so it was no surprise…only sad.

You outdid yourself in providing the best possible experience. Ben was a fabulous driver/guide, and our rooms were comfortable and luxurious. The organization to put all eleven of us in separate vehicles to get to the animals was handled without flaw, and best of all, our gorilla trekking was a “one-off” experience that was made permanent in our memory banks. We definitely had plenty of time to quietly observe the gorilla families in their encampments. Thanks for everything you did to make the trip so positive!

The trip materialized beyond expectations. As neither of us had time to read to read Gabriella’s itinerary it was a sequence of delicious surprises. The first day’s “speedboat” ride with Chris to Jane Goodall’s Chimps was the first unforeseen thrill. The next day it was the little plane across the equator into the luscious south. The trek after Uganda’s gorillas was one of the most strenuous hikes I’ve had since my summers in the High Sierra, and WELL worth it. The animals were very real! That morning we met our exceptionally capable and sagacious driver/guide, Ben, who on the next excursion ushered us into Rwanda with illuminating dialog. Our second gorilla trek was fortunately somewhat easier, and just as rewarding, but felt the same back at the truck….. Rwanda was an eyeopener. Nearly as neat as Switzerland, thanks to a tidy dictator, and its infrastructure impressive, the population crunch, as with much of the undeveloped world, hinted at the roots of their genocide, so well dealt with in Kigali’s Memorial Museum. It was hard saying good bye to Ben. He was like traveling with your own professor/Indiana Jones.

We regard this expedition amongst our most rewarding, and it’s all your fault! Many & most sincere thanks, Diane and Ted


A special trip to South Africa, 2014:

Recently, we returned to South Africa on a magical journey (they always are) and wanted to share some of the highlights. SA Airways took good care of us in their Business class section; no sleep but the movies and the service were up to expectation, with French Champagne and a marvelous South African wine. Upon arrival in Cape town, our Ellerman House driver whisked us off to our residence for two nights; unfortunately not more, as this property is everything their web-site says it is – Moet on arrival, cocktails before lunch and dinner and a view to die for.

Cape Grace for two nights, elegant, on the waterfront and their car is available for local trips, as in Table Mountain, which was spectacular, as it always is. The Blue Train overnight was fun, the accommodations ample and the food ample, not great – the local wines made up for it. The Saxon Hotel driver met us and transported us to this modern, sophisticated establishment with large rooms and the best restaurant in the country, the 500. Their service is, as expected, impeccable. Onwards to Rattray’s at Mala Mala, wonderful accommodations and the animals always turn out to impress us. Our young, knowledgeable ranger took every precaution to ensure we weren’t the lion’s next meal and it is always amazing to experience wild animals up close. At Ulusaba, the Branson camp, we had an affable, loquacious ranger who regaled us with his many close encounters, mainly with elephants. Their chef, Jess, made every meal a special culinary delight and the view from the property is stunning. Back to the Saxon, then on to Botswana, Savute Elephant camp, where our ranger, Watch, took us wherever game had been spotted and we sighted a pair of lion cubs frolicking on top of a termite mound, determining who was going to retain possession of the fabulous viewpoint. Back to Johannes burg, two nights with relatives and then back home on the non-stop SAA flight. This time I took a sleeping pill and was rewarded with 8 hours – enough to be back at the office on the day of arrival at JFK.

As the saying goes:

You can never brush the dust of Africa off your shoes…
So… I know you will return someday.

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

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