A Happy Largay Traveler Explores the Many Ecosystems of Southern Africa

Largay Advisor, Honey Mistry, sent her clients on an adventure to the southern region of Africa; South Africa, Botswana and Zambia. This is one travelers review of the amazing itinerary Honey choose for them with Tauck Tours...

WOW!  WOW!  WOW!  This trip was fabulous – even better than last year! The combination of ocean, delta, and desert ecosystems was amazing and the contrast of the three was so enjoyable.

Here are some details of the trip:
Journey:  Tauck Botswana, South Africa and Zambia
Departure:  September 12th - 23rd  2013

Day 1:
Arrive in Cape Town, South Africa.

Day 2:
Morning tour of the city.  This included the Company Gardens and the Castle of Good Hope.  Overall this was “ok”.  I made a suggestion to Tauck that there are more interesting things to do in Cape Town.

Afternoon was “on our own”.  We spent the time walking the waterfront and had lunch.  Food in Cape Town is amazing and affordable.

Evening “braai” at a home.  This was great!  Braai is the South African word for barbecue; and this was a great barbeque – lots of interesting meats to try and lots of sides too.

Day 3:
We travelled to Cape Point and had our picture taken at the famous “Cape of Good Hope” sign.  We ate lunch at the restaurant there.  It was good. In the afternoon, we were disappointed to hear that our great White Shark tour was cancelled due to the stormy ocean.  Instead we went to the penguin colony.  This was a great second option.  The penguins were plentiful and liked to “pose." Dinner was on our own – we ate at the wharf at an Italian restaurant.

During our stay in Cape Town, we stayed at the One and Only.  This hotel was luxurious and convenient to access the city.  The city was contemporary and very safe.  So easy to navigate “on your own”.  We went for a jog each morning along the shore drive – lots of others also out and about.

Day 4:
We left Cape Town for Livingstone, Zambia.  We arrived at the hotel early afternoon.  There’s a nice water taxi ride to the hotel where they brief you upon arrival.  The hotel is very nice – the corner room was wonderful.  We also enjoyed the complimentary high tea – lots of awesome cakes!

We took an afternoon tour of the falls.  It wasn't rainy season so most of the rock structure is visible. After the tour, Rich and I had a beer at the river bank and watched the beautiful sunset.

Dinner was at the hotel restaurant – was very tasty.  I had bream, which is a river fish.  The restaurant served TWO fish per person, which is an outrageously large portion.  I’m ashamed to say that I made a good dent into both fish…..was so tasty.

Day 5:
We did the lion walk in the morning.  It was a unique experience and we had the opportunity to touch one.  The walk is part of a project to return lions to the wild.  Although the theory is interesting, I'm not sure if they are achieving their objective.  No lions have been released to the wild after 10 years of this project. In the afternoon, we had lunch on the Lady Livingstone which is a boat in the Zambezi River. At night, we had a dinner train ride.  Although we were late to depart, the ride was still fun and the dinner tasty. The hotel is very nice and the food is great.

Day 6:
We left Zambia for Botswana.  The border crossing was very interesting – lots of trucks lined up to take the single-truck ferry across the border.  It was packed with people, vendors, animals and activity.

I loved Botswana – we started our visit with a motor boat safari on the Chobe River.  The Chobe River has the largest concentration of elephants – we saw hundreds.  It was awesome.

We then flew to Khwai River Lodge – this was our favorite place of the tour.  It’s a series of tents alongside the Khwai River.  Both the bed and the bathroom portion of the room are enclosed by the tent which is elevated about five feet above the ground.  There are no fences, so the animals are free to wander through the camp.  Walking by yourself after dark is not allowed due to the hippos which wander through camp. We then set into a routine of early morning game drives, followed by lunch and rest, and then evening game drive.

Day 7, Day 8:

Routine of early morning game drive, then lunch, rest, tea and early evening game drive.
The animals here are amazing – real “mega fauna”.  Lots of antelope, elephants, lion, birds, etc.  We had seven leopard sightings.  The real highlight was the painted dogs – so amazing.
The guides, Moses and Sello, here are great – so informative and knowledgeable. We were sad to leave this place

Day 9:
We left Khwai for the Kalahari Desert.  When we arrived, the temperature was 105 degrees.  It was hot. We had a great elevated tent.  There is no electricity in this camp, but it’s ok. The food is amazing here. In the evening we took a game drive as well as visited the Chapman’s Baobab which is an enormous tree. There are far less animals here, but the ecology of the area is interesting.  Guides are very good.

Day 10:
The temperature dropped to about 50 – 60 degrees.  The mornings were chilly – I wore my down jacket and my light gloves for early game drives.  Temperatures stayed at this level for the remainder of the stay. We went to visit the meerkat colony.  We arrived before sunrise to ensure that we saw them emerge from their den.  They are so very cute and they are used to people.  One sat on my head.  It wasn't scary – kinda cool.

In the evening, we had a walking safari with the San bushman – very cool. We had an elevated tent here.  The bed is enclosed by the tent, but the bathroom portion is outside the tent enclosed by walls.  The shower is heated through solar heater and stays hot all day and night.  There is no electricity, but there are kerosene lanterns at night in the tent.  I showered after the morning game drive since it was too chilly to shower in the morning.  The desert is very windy also.

Day 11:
We went back to see the meerkats again.  No one else wanted to, so it was just the two of us.
In the evening, we set off on ATVs for dinner on the salt pan and the opportunity to sleep out in the Kalahari salt pan.  Unfortunately, we drove into a sand storm and had to turn around back to camp.  It was still fun.

Day 12:
We went out on one final game drive.  No one else wanted to go so it was just the two of us again.  We saw bat-eared foxes – this was amazing. We loved the Kalahari Desert. It was such a peaceful, wild place.  Others may not enjoy it because it lacked the “megafauna”, electricity and it was windy, but we really liked the wildness. We flew to Maun, then on to Johannesburg, then on to JFK.  It wasn't bad at all coming back.

In summary, this was a GREAT trip.  It was even better than last year’s Kenya – Tanzania trip.  It was relaxed, fun and there was so much to learn about.  We both loved Botswana – it’s such an amazing place and the people are so friendly.  The food is so good.  I would recommend this trip to active people who like to be outside.  Aside from Cape Town, there are no opportunities for shopping or dressing up.  But this was ok.  All the tour flights and transfers were smooth and we always had a good time.

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