We have always dreamed of planning a trip to Africa and our three week adventure was nothing short of spectacular. Having never visited the continent before, we wanted to see as much as we could and packed in plenty of activities that have given us memories to treasure forever. We started our journey with a group of friends and travelled from Victoria Falls to Cape Town. We finished the first leg of the trip in Ulusaba Game Reserve in the Kruger area of South Africa, where we said goodbye to the rest of our group and journeyed on to Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti, finishing with a little R&R in Zanzibar. It’s safe to say that we ticked off some huge bucket list items and had the time of our lives.
First stop: Victoria Falls
2 nights stay at The Royal Livingstone
After a few nights in Johannesburg, we began our adventure in Africa’s dazzling Victoria Falls. How could we visit the continent and not see it?! We wanted to witness the awe-inspiring sight from every angle possible and took to the water, the land and even the sky with a helicopter ride! It was amazing to see the falls from all the different perspectives and it really makes you realise the sheer scale of this natural wonder. We also spotted some incredible wildlife and a personal highlight for us was our boat safari where we got up close and personal with some terrifying beasts like hippo and crocodile as we floated along the Zambezi River.
Next up: Cape Town and Winelands
4 nights stay at Radisson Red
We’d heard and read so much about Cape Town and the surrounding winelands over the years that we had to make sure we had at least a few days to see everything we wanted to. We gave ourselves four days in the city and it passed by in a blur as we ticked off more bucket list items including road tripping around Cape Point, visiting the penguins at Boulders Beach, eating seafood by the water and of course dedicating a full day to enjoying the beautiful neighbouring winelands. It’s definitely a city break we’d recommend, packed with wildlife, food, culture and fantastic wine – what more could you want?
Next stop: Kruger
4 nights stay at Ulusaba Safari Lodge
Whilst we were in South Africa we knew we had to visit Kruger National Park, surely one of the most famous safari destinations in the world. We stayed in the beautiful Ulusaba Safari Lodge and we really couldn’t have asked for a better experience to kick off the safari section of our trip. From the lodge itself we spotted impalas, elephants, baboons, monkeys, and nyala, and that was before we even embarked on our twice daily game drives. Out in the bush, we were lucky enough to see an incredible number of animals including black rhino, cape buffalo, a hyena and her cubs, giraffe, and a pride of lions lazing in the sun. By far our most exciting safari sighting was on our first drive when we saw a male leopard right alongside our vehicle! We couldn’t believe how lucky we were to see such a beautiful animal so close to us.
We also loved the morning coffee spiked with Amarula enjoyed out in the bush – the perfect way to start a day.
Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro Crater
3 nights stay at Neptune Ngorongoro Lodge
After a quick pitstop in Arusha, we began the Tanzanian part of our trip at two iconic destinations, Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro Crater, and what a way to start. Lake Manyara is a bird lover’s paradise and there were almost too many species to remember. Our avian highlights had to be the ground hornbill, crowned cranes and saddle-bill storks. As well as the amazing birdlife, we were also thrilled to get our first glimpse of a famed baobab. Is there a more iconic African tree? You really can’t help but think of the continent when you see one.
Onto the Ngorongoro Crater and how amazing to be on safari inside a volcano! The crater itself is 19-23km across and 600m deep and home to some spectacular animal sightings.We were lucky enough to spot a rarely seen serval cat crossing the road ahead of us, as well as amazing hyena sightings and elephants ambling peacefully by. And it wasn’t just the wildlife that took our breath away: the scenery is incredible and exactly what you imagine when you think of Africa. Definitely one to add to your list if you’re thinking of visiting Tanzania.
Up next: Serengeti
3 nights stay at Kimondo Camp
Spanning an area of 30,000km and filled with the stars of the animal kingdom, the Serengeti is Tanzania’s biggest drawcard for a reason. We felt very privileged to meet the local Masai villagers and were fascinated to learn about the traditions and how they still live the way their ancestors always have. The people we met were kind enough to show us around their village and even allowed us to tour a home and visit a local school.
The wildlife in the Serengeti was spectacular and we were so lucky to see what we did. The South African lions we saw were much more interested in sunbathing than running around, but the pride we saw in Tanzania was very active. Some of the females even came up to our vehicle and gave us quite a lot of eye contact, making for an amazing yet rather unnerving experience. Obviously the Serengeti is most famous for the great wildebeest migration and when we arrived, almost one million wildebeest had reached the southern Serengeti plains (where we were) to birth their calves. It’s estimated that up to 800 are born every day! We certainly loved seeing the babies enjoy their first few hours of life, following their mothers and cautiously learning how to walk. Looking out to the horizon, we thought we were looking at trees but they were in fact even more wildebeest. When we were in the middle of the herd, there were literally gnus as far as the eye could see. That was amazing. One of the things we enjoyed the most about the game drives was watching the way that the animals interact with one another. We saw two hyena enjoying a zebra kill, whilst a lone jackal and a flock of vultures skulked around in the background waiting for their chance. Great to see that after all the waiting, everyone managed to get a little bite.
We were very inspired by the hot air balloon we saw floating above the Serengeti and we definitely know how we’ll be travelling if we’re lucky enough to come back.
4 nights stay at Matemwe Lodge
After a whirlwind adventure across Africa, we were really in need of a bit of relaxation and four nights in Zanzibar hit the spot perfectly. We spent most of our days relaxing by the infinity pool at Matemwe Lodge, gazing out over the beautiful turquoise sea. It was hot every day we were there and we found the best way to cool down (aside from a dip in the pool) was to sip on the delicious local drink of sugar cane, ginger and lime, produced by feeding the ingredients through a hand-cranked contraption. It really it was the best place to recover from our epic adventure. Utter bliss.
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