Our Africa… A Fascinating Journey – Africa has become a popular destination for many of our travelers – with good reason! Our president Berry Versfeld, a native of South Africa with strong ties to his homeland, loves sharing the ins and outs of traveling to the continent. Here, some of our travelers tell us about their fabulous journeys. We think this will help others planning to visit Africa….
Gorilla Trekking and More on Safari in Africa
Travelers Diane and Ted shared this lively account of their African Adventures: 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…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!
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 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.
- 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.
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 regard this expedition amongst our most rewarding, and it’s all your fault! Many & most sincere thanks, Diane and Ted
Beyond Safari – Luxury & Stunning Scenery in Africa
Travelers recount their special trip to South Africa: 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.
Soaking in the Local South African Culture
Special experiences for all in South Africa, from Gabriella: I always feel so fortunate to be able to return to Africa again and again…though it’s usually for work, this past week was focused on pure immersion in South Africa with my family and some dear friends who were seeing this magical country for the first time. There were 3 children in total, ages 6, 7 and 13 and it was beautiful to see how overwhelmed they were with the incredible experiences that this country is filled with, and if you’re looking for ways to influence potential family clients on what there is to do and see in South Africa, I’ll share one of our most special days with you.
While in Cape Town, I organized a Cape Malay Cooking Safari, one of the many experiential options that our destination management company features in their vast portfolio of immersions that twist up any trip. We began with a lovely lady named Zainie who took us spice shopping in the vibrant Bo-Kaap where brightly colored houses and smiling faces welcome you while you smell gorgeous aromas around nearly every corner.
Then, it was onto Zainie’s home and personal kitchen, where we all rolled up our sleeves and participated in everything from folding our own samosas, creating the perfect Cape Malay chicken curry, rolling dough to make our own roti and more, all the while hearing the beautiful stories of her culture, her history as a chef, and what daily life is like in this quarter. The children were incredibly engaged, mainly because they were encouraged to roll their sleeves up same as the adults and get involved in the cooking, and during the breaks, Zainie’s trampoline outside in her courtyard surrounded by plentiful trees to climb kept them happy.
When we all sat down to eat what we had prepared, it was equally as delicious as it was special, to have shared this experience with our families and children, and such an interesting person in the warmth of her home. There are so many wonderful ways to make your Southern Africa trip extra special!
Some Testimonials from Travelong of Summit Clients
There is one word our family has been using to describe our trip to South Africa, and that is “beyond”. They just keep talking and posting pictures on Facebook and Instagram of all they saw and experienced. Now we know why the company owners of our safari camps are called “&Beyond,” as I am sure you have heard from many clients. From our arrival in Cape Town and the excitement of our harbor hotel, the Table Bay (so perfectly set in that most beautiful of cities), to the restaurants arranged for us by the extraordinary and most helpful Joan Frost, of Redfoot Safaris, we were all delighted. Our guides and pickups were wonderful and the tours arranged, from beautiful drives, to penguins, to botanical gardens were terrific. Little did the family know what was coming on safari. I think they thought they would see lions and elephants way off in the distance through strong binoculars. The thrill of animals right next to your vehicle is truly one of life’s great moments, and the pictures taken by our family photographer, son Mark, prove it. You were so right to tell us to go to two different safari camps. There is a new experience to be had at each camp and both Kirkman’s and Ngala were great. We especially loved the water hole at Ngala so we could see families of elephants and smaller animals right there as we looked from the veranda. Superb. Kudos go to the young rangers we encountered at each place. They are so enthusiastic and intent on making sure you see what is out there in their world and they try hard to find the animals that we had not yet seen. One of our granddaughters fell in love again with each ranger she encountered. So funny. Terry, we know how hard you worked on this celebratory trip for our two life events and you should feel very satisfied on a job well done. More than well done. It was perfect in every way and we are grateful for the effort and blood, sweat and tears you put into all the planning and followup. We thank you for planning a true trip of a lifetime for all 17 of us. ~ Barbara & Charlie
It was an awesome trip to South Africa and the Victoria Falls. Manna Bay Boutique hotel in Cape Town was absolutely perfect!! The tour guide Julie, the best!! Londolozi Game Reserve – Where do I start? It was the most amazing experience! The drives were spectacular, the tracker Chadrick and ranger Jessie were wonderful, so knowledgeable and most personable. The property is spectacular. The meals and service perfect. Johannesburg – The Residence Hotel – over the top!! Was just perfect all around.. Our guide for the tour was great. Victoria Falls Safari lodge was very nice. We did an elephant back ride at 6am before we got on our plane to start the journey home. Thanks for all you did for us. ~ Joan and Rex
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…. 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! ~ Diane and Ted
Peter and I want to thank you for planning the most amazing trip we have ever had. Every thing was simply perfect. We meet some wonderful people along the way and the animal sightings are forever etched in our memories. While I knew we would see animals, nothing could have prepared me for the drama of those sightings. Tracking two lions who had been separated from their pride – watching them as they took down a bush back – and then seeing them reunited with their pride was nothing short of magical. Berry, I remember when we were planning this vacation and I told you I really wanted to do this right since this would probably be our only trip to Africa. You told me that once we got that African dirt into our feet we would be back. You were right! We are already thinking about where we’ll go in 2017. Again, thank you for something very special. ~ Laura
Berry Versfeld organized a fabulous two week trip for nine of us to Cape Town, Victoria Falls and two safari camps in South Africa called Singita and Londolozi. The private guides, accommodations and food were all first class. Several friends had raved about South Africa but it truly exceeded our expectations. Highlights in Cape Town included wine tasting in Stellenbosch, the tram to Table Mountain, seeing the penguins on the beach and the tour of Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 of the 27 years he was incarcerated. In Livingston Zambia we enjoyed a sunset cruise on the Zambezi river and then visited the spectacular Victoria Falls. A few plane rides later, we arrived at our first safari camp and were fortunate to see leopards and lions the first night. On subsequent drives, we witnessed a charging elephant, a baby rhino nursing from her mother, and lots of zebras, hippos, hyenas, kudu, wildebeest, cape buffalo, giraffe, crocodile and other wild life. If you are looking for a unique and unforgettable trip, contact Berry about planning an adventure for you. ~ Bob and Claudia
Your Dream Trip Starts Here!
As part of the planning process, we share our personal experiences with you in order to determine what you’d like to see on your trip. The possibilities are endless, and the journey starts right here in our office! Contact our resident Africa expert Berry Versfeld, or our other travel experts to learn more.