Itinerary Review for South Africa, Botswana By Norman W
Great experience in Southern Africa!
We received the photo book of our Southern African trip from Safari365 about five weeks after we submitted the photos. The book mixed enlarged photos with smaller photos along with a few generic photos of sites inserted at strategic points. The book was a very nice memento of our trip from the latter part of August through early September, 2016. About two months before we were to leave, we searched the internet and found Safari365 as one of several companies who arranged trips to South Africa, Victoria Falls, and Botswana. I submitted inquiries to three or four companies. Safari365 was one of two that responded. The price was a little more expensive for the itinerary we submitted when compared to a company with offices in California. We chose to use Safari365 because their main office was in Cape Town. Safari365 assigned us a person to work with, Dianne. Most of the time she was very responsive to our questions. One time we did not hear from her until after a week because she was traveling in Botswana.
With only two months out before leaving, our options were limited. However, Safari365 found us an itinerary that fit our request of two nights in Chobe Nature Reserve, two nights in Moremi Game Reserve, and two nights in the Okavango Delta. We stayed two nights at the Chobe Game Lodge in the Nature Reserve, two nights at the Little Machaba Camp in the Khwai area (no room in the Moremi Game Reserve), and two nights at the Xaranna Okavango Delta Lodge operated by &Beyond;. All of the arrangements worked our beautifully. This included an on time pick up in Victoria Falls, small plane flights on Mack Air to air strips from Kasane to Machaba/Khawi Airstrip, from there to Xudum Airstrip, and then from there to Maun, Johannesburg, and onto Windhoek, Namibia. All of the transfers worked exactly as planned.
Our experiences at each of the three camps were generally exceptional. The facilities at the Chobe Game Lodge were very comfortable and the staff were very attentive. We had boat trips and game drives. We saw many animals including elephants, giraffes, lions, hippos, Cape buffaloes, jackal, many kinds of antelope, and many more. In Chobe, the drivers were restricted to stay on the roads, so we saw the lions from a distance. The wait staff prepared a special dinner for us in celebration of our wedding anniversary. We were able to interact with the other guests and had a great time.
At the Little Machaba Camp we stayed in a tent on a frame, but had all the comforts including indoor toilet and an indoor/outdoor shower. Again the staff was very accommodating. All of the guest and some of the staff ate together at night which we enjoyed. Machaba is a private reserve so we were able to get much closer to the lions and leopards we saw. The food was exceptional. Our game driver was very knowledgeable and gave us quite a ride through streams. We enjoyed getting down at the water level in a mokoro ride that we were given the option to do. We did not see the herds of animals we saw in Chobe, but we did see leopards.
The Xaranna Okavango Delta Lodge operated by &Beyond; was a little over the top for us. Staff were too attentive and guests were seated at separate tables for meals. Each tent had its own swimming pool. We were on an island and enjoyed a boat trip through the reeds. We saw several different kinds of birds. We also had a mokoro ride including a cocktail at the midway spot. The game drives were not as bountiful as at the other locations but we did see lions, leopards, buffaloes, elephants, and some antelopes.
Overall, our experiences in Botswana arranged by Safari365 went beyond expectation. Everything was without a glitch. Safari365 was very accommodating in helping us make plans for some travel while in South Africa. After attending a meeting in Cape Town, we wanted to drive to Stellenbosch and then along the Garden Route to Port Elizabeth. We arranged for our own flights from there to Durban. Then Safari365 arranged for a rental car to drive to Johannesburg, a hotel in Durban, and a side trip to Fugitives’ Drift to visit the battlefields (suggested by Dianne). Our stay in Fugitives Drift Lodge in the guesthouse was an unexpected high point of our trip. Fugitives Drift is on the Rattray family land and operated by them. The food was outstanding and the sons took good care of us, one having dinner with us at night and another sharing the full details of the battle at Rorke’s Drift. The personal touch was very much appreciated. We were there less than 24 hours, but had an exceptional stay and would have liked to be there longer.
We had a wonderful trip over about three weeks in Southern Africa. The parts of the trip that Safari365 planned and arranged for us worked very well. We paid up front for everything by wire transfer and with a credit card. Arranging for payment was a little inconvenient, but nothing major. Safari arranged for our rental car through EuroCar that we picked up at the hotel in Cape Town. This worked fine even though we arranged on our own an upgrade for more luggage space and a fender was dented without any extra charges. There was one mix up in scheduling two nights at Plettenberg Bay when we requested only one night. This error was settled directly with no problems. One of our party of four ended up in the hospital in Johannesburg and had to return to the US without going on the Botswana part of our trip. Dianne returned our calls promptly and took care of cancelling the remaining trip for this couple, but, as stated in the agreement, none of the payment was reimbursed. There was a personalized website that apparently had a map. I did not know about this before we left and would have appreciated having a map. I still have not found the map. Overall, I would recommend Safari365. They certainly know what they are doing.