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  • Safari to South Africa!

    Adventures by Disney: Safari to South Africa
    Day 0: Houston to NY

    My favorite Auntie and I are very excited about taking an Adventures by Disney together! (Yes we did have a nickname for ourselves,The Safari Sisters-HA!) A dear friend of mine and her cousin were also on the trip. We travel together quite often, so it was a bonus that we would all be having this great experience together!

    Aunt Shirley, Paula, Lisa, Teresa

    Our Adventure began with a flight from Houston to Newark, and on to a hotel near JFK for the night. I always like to fly in the night before a big trip in case there are issues arriving at our destination.

    Day 1: NY to Johannesberg (aka JoBerg), South Africa to Capetown

    Word of the day: Welkom (Dutch and Afrikaans for Welcome!)

    South African Airlines departed at 10am and landed in Johannesburg the next morning (it was a 17 hour flight).

    The food was really good and there were plenty of choices for movies and T.V. shows. The seats were wide and comfortable enough for my 50 year old –um—self

    We had to change planes in Johannesburg (where the airport had lots of shops like a mall, however we did not have enough time between flights to shop, but there were clothing, book and specialty shops galore!) We landed in Capetown an hour later.

    In Capetown we were met at luggage claim by the ABD guides Chris and Craig. Craig has been an ABD guide for about 7 years, and Craig is a Capetown native who brought a great deal of richness to the trip with his experience of living through all of the changes that have happened to South Africa in his lifetime.

    Our ABD guide Craig

    We gathered our luggage and took a short bus ride to our hotel. We pulled up to the Table Bay hotel, in the harbor district, where it was extremely quiet and very peaceful. We went through the lobby to the back where a private check in and welcome desk awaited us, (an ABD exclusive). We quickly got our keys and were anxious to find our room. WOW! The room was really nice and the view was spectacular!

    Outside the back of the hotel-This is a statue of Oscar, the hotel mascot. The small ovals are names of the dignitaries and famous people that have stayed here.

    The Table Bay Hotel reminded me somewhat of the Yacht Club at WDW. The rich wood tones in the lobby and rooms, the views of the water, and overall attention to detail, like fresh flowers everywhere.

    Just inside the Lobby

    Our room

    Our view of Table Bay!

    The bathrooms were rather nice too.

    Not elevators, lifts!

    Even the elevator doors were snazzy!

    The mascot for the hotel is Oscar the seal and his likeness is on a lot of their signage, so in the spirit of Hidden Mickeys in the Disney parks, I went on a Hidden Oscar hunt!

    Oscar plaque

    Table in the lobby

    The hotel is adjacent to a nice mall and this sign is in the walkway connecting the two.

    His likeness is on the entry mats. . .

    etched on the doors. . .

    This is a small wall hidden in an outer courtyard--can you see Oscar?

    Here is a closer look.

    I like when resorts take the time to add small details that add so much character in their hotels.

    There was part of a seawall that kept the water out of the city still on the property. A newer wall was constructed further out and the hotel was built where this one was originally, but they kept part as a historic landmark.

    Since we were so tired from the flights we ordered room service and were very pleasantly surprised at how affordable the food was. We had rib eye, vegetables, diet coke and a dessert and with tip it was only $20!

    We turned in after that--we had a long plane flight and one of us (me) was too excited to sleep on the plane.

    ---------- Post added 04-29-2012 at 02:13 AM ----------

    Day 2 (Capetown)
    Word of the day: Fynbos—meaning fine bush in Afrikaans. Fynbos is a type of botanical region, or floral kingdom, where the vegetation is distinct to the area.

    We had our Good morning breakfast (most of the meals are included in your Adventures by Disney trip, this was the first of many) where we received an overview of the whole trip and met everyone.

    This is the area in which our good morning breakfast was set up. Most of the time it is the bar for the hotel!


    What a cool map of the floral kingdoms!

    Andrew and Craig

    View of the foggy mountain. It would have been hard to see anything in that fog.

    There were lots of beautiful flowers and plants here.

    Our group at Kirstenbosch

    Sausage tree description

    You can see why the sausage tree was given it's name!

    Scary beetle statue. To come upon that after all the beautiful flowers was quite surprising!

    Prehistoric looking tree leaves in the prehistoric section of the park.

    Nelson Mandela is greatly respected and revered in South Africa for his role in defeating apartheid, so if he visited somewhere it was usually identified with a plaque or statue. Here is a plaque describing a plant that was named after him and a photo of him visiting the park.

    Here is a bust that is in the park of his likeness.

    Area of District 6 that was destroyed.

    Noor telling his personal story of being displaced.

    Street signs that had been saved by the former residents.

    Sign outside the District 6 museum.

    Craig grew up in Capetown so he could speak about apartheid from his experiences as well as what you read about in history books. Since he lived it the stories were much more personal and you could feel the emotions that his countrymen went through. It was fascinating to listen to someone who was raised thinking apartheid was normal but who later came to an understanding about the injustice of blacks being separated and denied their basic rights. His stories of wanting to help but being afraid of going to hear Nelson Mandela speak when he was released was heart wrenching. I am amazed that South Africa has come so far in such a few short years.

    After visiting the District 6 museum we were bussed over to lunch at the Sinn restaurant and then went on a city walking tour through the city gardens to Green Market Square, which is named for the area in the center of town that local farmers brought produce to sell. It is now a fabulous place to get a good buy on souvenirs! The prices were very reasonable, and negotiation was the name of the game. A general rule was to offer half of what was listed and deal from there.

    Cecil Rhodes, of Rhodes Scholars fame-- He is from Capetown!

    Funky twisted tree on the city garden walk

    Pretty roses grow here.

    some rose bushes have hidden squirrels!

    Capetown buildings range from modern to early European.

    English church.

    The Green Market

    ABD guide Chris and I about to go shopping in the green market.

    We ate dinner at the Castle of Good Hope, (which at one time was a fort that protected the city and is the oldest surviving building in South Africa, started in 1653).

    Since we were the only ones in the Castle it was a little eerie walking to the motorcoach after dinner--you could easily imagine past inhabitants still lurking about since the way back was dimly lit and your footsteps echoed along the paths.

    Back to the hotel, where this is what we found for turn down service:

    yeah, this hotel is pretty cool

    Day 3 (Capetown)
    Word of the Day: Iningizimu Afrika (cool language with a lot of clicks) a popular word for South Africa

    Table Mountain—
    No fog today so we made a quick trip to Table Mountain, which is roughly 260 million years old and is thought to be one of the oldest mountains in the world.
    Just think, this is 200 million years older than the Rocky Mountains!

    If the hooter hoots, pay attention!

    We rode the gondola to the top of Table Mountain—the floor rotates and everyone is standing so we all had a good view. The cabin was crowded but the view was spectacular and the gondola did not sway so there were no problems with motion sickness.

    Look it is Gulliver in the land of the little gondolas!

    If you look over to the left you can see a tiny circle. This is the Capetown soccer stadium that was used during the world cup.

    Rock Hyrax ain't afraid of no heights!

    The view from up here is just lovely

    This is a relief of the mountain range we are on.

    There are plaques with historic information on them scattered about

    Auntie-Niece shot

    Hiigh on a mountaintop in Cape-town-ee

    It is time to head down to continue our day of exploration--even the view from the gondola tower is breathtaking!

    In South Africa they have soccer ball dispensers in the gift shops!

    After spending a few hours at Table Mountain we got on our motorcoach for the hour long drive to the Cape of Good Hope.
    Last edited by Fairy Godmother Travel; 04-29-2012, 09:21 AM.
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  • #2
    Safari to South Africa!-Cape of Good Hope!

    Cape of Good Hope (Cape Point Nature Reserve and Cape Point)
    Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point-what a beautiful place! It is the tip of Africa and where the Indian and Atlantic Ocean currents meet, but not the southern most tip of Africa, that is Cape Agulhas about 90 miles south of Cape Point. The Cape of Good Hope is the most famous of the two.

    Wild Ostriches!

    It is also the home of the legendary Flying Dutchman, the ghost ship that will forever sail the oceans. Captain Jack Sparrow was ne’er to be found, but it was fun seeing the water with whirlpools and imagining the sailing ships going up and down the coast.

    We took a funicular to the top of Cape Point to get the best view. Of course ours was pirate themed!

    Now this is a view!

    The water is quite lovely

    Watch out for the rocks below!

    it is so pretty!

    This was a secret WW2 radar station

    Meet the African Penguins --Boulders Beach, Simonton –

    We hopped aboard our trusty coach and after a few minutes we were at Boulders Beach, home to the endangered African penguins. Starting with just two breeding pairs in 1982 there are now over 2,200 penguins in the area. They were originally called the Jackass penguin because of the noise they make.

    Who knew the B-52's would be here?

    Very pretty, but which way to the penguins?

    off in the distance. . .

    500 Rand is about $65 USD--but don't do it!

    "hi-ho, hi-ho, its home from work we go!"

    these were the nesting grounds

    The observation area was a raised platform like a long wooden dock above the beach, where you were close but not close enough to disturb the penguins. But when they went underneath the dock they got pretty close to you!

    There are small shops along the walking route --the road to get to the penguins went right behind private homes, and the owners have to sometimes wait for the tourists to go by before they can turn in their own driveways!

    We went down the beach to the Seaforth restaurant which had options ranging from a seafood plate that included prawns, local sustainable fish, crabcakes and mussels, to great salads to pizza, but with any choice on the menu you got a fabulous view of the ocean.

    After lunch we had a little time to go shopping with the local vendors that are around just about every public area

    Since we had packed so much into the day it was getting rather late, so we went straight to Gold Museum from the Cape. It was about a 2 hour drive back.

    Celebration of Africa Dinner at the Gold of Africa Museum-

    At the Gold museum we got a private tour and learned some of the history of gold and how it was used in the South African region.

    After the tour we learned to play the Afrikaan drums!

    The dinner consisted of a family style meal featuring food from the servers area of South Africa. It was a lot like tapas since we had small portions of a variety of South African dishes.

    ---------- Post added 04-29-2012 at 04:02 AM ----------

    Day 4 (Capetown)

    Word of the day: Koeksister—a deep fried Afrikaan treat served crispy and covered in a sweet syrup.

    On the way to Stellenbosch we got to see a wild ostrich with her newborn babies

    This is a famous highway in Capetown. The funding ran out so the builder just stopped construction and it was left standing half finished. It is now in great demand for use by the movie industry!


    Stellenbosch looks like a small german or dutch town, but with pure Africa around every corner.

    The hydrangeas here are HUGE and the bushes are at least 5 feet tall.

    The flowers here are so vibrant.

    Cooking class in the South Africa school of Culinary Arts –we learned how to make Koeksisters (pronounced cook-sisters), a yummy doughnut like pastry that you can dip in syrup.

    After the cooking lessons we headed to the Spier Wine Estate, where we would have a chance to take a bike ride or ride the bus the last mile or two through the vineyards to the winery. I chose to ride the bike, which was not a wise decision for me since it was a windy day. The road was soft dirt and I had not ridden a bike in about 20 years. I did finish the ride (it was not all that long) and I was considerate enough to not let anyone else feel bad by being the last one to finish, I took that role myself. Yes I was panting, huffing and puffing. I must say good thing there was not a sag wagon (on bike trips they follow the riders who need a ride to the finish line) or I would have taken that haha!

    Moyo at the Spier Winery: Lunch in the trees—In South African all meat is called Venison, so the venison station usually had beef, chicken, and at least one other exotic meat. At Moyo I tasted springbok sausage, kudu and impala! There were many vegetable choices like sweet potato and a local dish called Putu pap, which is like porridge. There was always pomegranate and Putu pap available at every buffet.

    going up to our table in the trees

    Springbok sausage, Kudo and Impala. The Impala was the best.

    There were a lot of rustic water features that added a nice touch to the restaurant.

    camo chicken! (or is it camo rooster?)

    she/he was pretty and calm

    Wine tasting or Eagle encounter. I participated in the wine tasting The wine was from the Spier winery and we learned about the wines made and sold there.

    Dinner on our own—After coming back to the hotel and taking a rest we ventured out in search of food. We ate fish and chips at a restaurant outside the mall attached to our hotel and shopped. The mall had many types of shops ranging from a Woolworths (nice crate and barrel type store) to shops that sold African furniture to a Gap.

    This shop had fabulous porcupine quill lamps and great furniture.

    Now it is time to pack and get ready for the second portion of our adventure--the Garden Route!
    Last edited by Fairy Godmother Travel; 04-29-2012, 09:17 AM.
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    • #3
      Re: Safari to South Africa!-Cape of Good Hope!

      Fantastic trip report Teresa!

      I think that the hidden squirrel should be named "Felix" to go along with the hidden Oscars.
      Anything listed on the park maps as an attraction is fair game for inclusion in the Rally.
      I cannot confirm nor deny the inclusion of any attraction in the Rally.

      May the Gumballs Be with You...Always.

      NO GOATS!


      • #4
        Part 2-The Garden Route!

        Day 5 Garden Route

        The drive to from George was pretty scenic

        The pool was pretty cool, but not quite enough time for a dip

        We then went to . . .


        Wow this place was awesome! (with a name like Monkeyland, it has to be good!)

        The monkeys are all surrendered by their owners who were overwhelmed by the difficulties of keeping intelligent wild animals as pets, or surplus primates from zoos.

        Craig and our fabulous guide

        This place is amazing. Imagine walking through your local woods but instead of seeing squirrels everywhere there are monkeys!!

        There are many types of Primates here:

        Prosimians (lemurs etc)

        New World Monkeys (Found in central and south America, all with prehensile tails)

        Old World Monkeys (All Monkeys from Africa and Asia) and Apes (represented in Monkeyland by Gibbons and Humans)

        We were amazed and amused by these great creatures, and found out one important tip: When your guide says no food, this means dried fruit also. One of our group took out a PIECE of a dried apple to eat quickly (diabetic and needed to raise blood sugar) and a gibbon did NOT like that it was not his and got quite close, showed his teeth and his bum at us! At that point the apple was quickly tossed to the offended monkey and we scampered to the gift shop. Whew!!

        Birds of Eden is a short walk next door.

        Birds of Eden sanctuary was created with the intention of re-homing a number of unwanted birds, giving them the opportunity to live in a more natural environment.

        The birds here were quite beautiful and many got quite close to you.

        The Blue Crane, the national bird of Africa

        The food was incredibly fresh and the wine was phenomenal.

        Lunch was set up on picnic tables in the vineyards.

        Farmers getting the fields ready for the next crop.

        The food was so good this is the only shot I got. It was dessert, a type of sherbert in an orange half. Yummy!

        We then go to get back on the motorcoach and ride to Pezula.

        Adventures by Disney guests usually stay at a different hotel in town, but this trip Pezula was being tried out as an option for future stays.

        Pezula is called the Pebble Beach of South Africa. There is a golf course running throughout the grounds, and there is even a castle you can rent!

        We got to see the castle as part of our hotel tour and
        went through 5 privacy gates (with guards!) to get there!

        The view from one of the decks of the castle.

        The lap pool. This of course is separate from the hot tub, and not in the cold water of the beach. That your pool overlooks.

        So this is what a master bedroom of a castle looks like! Who knew?

        A bathroom good enough for royalty!

        Nelson Mandela stayed here, as well as many rock stars and celebrities wanting privacy.

        Built into the rugged cliff-face with direct access to the beach, the castle complex has its own chef, executive butler and housekeeper. I can certainly see why the rich and famous like it here!


        After being wowed at the castle we went to check into our own rooms at Pezula.

        Our room

        The beds are really twins pushed very close to one another. This was typical in every hotel.

        The Bathroom

        Big honkin shower

        Big honkin tub

        Big honkin walk in closet with light up closet rod. I thought that was pretty cool.
        Pezula Resort and Spa is an eco-resort and there are baboons and other wildlife on the property. They are sometimes seen within the hotel grounds and have been known to enter the suites, looking for food.

        If you see a baboon, do not confront it or try to block its way, and do not give it any food.
        Inform reception as soon as possible.
        Please close and lock your doors at night and when you leave your suite.

        No Baboon Zone!

        We did not see any baboons at any time when we were in Africa, so I guess this letter warned them off for the whole trip!
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        • #5
          Featherbed Nature Reserve

          Half way up to the top we stopped for pictures


          This was a beautiful spot in which you had a choice to decend (like the amazing race). Your choice? Trek or truck

          In Trek, you are handed a walking stick and have to hike down a narrow and rocky walkway.

          My Auntie took truck and make it down very quickly. I took trek, and most of the walk was pretty and not too challenging.

          Except one part.

          The cave.

          There was a cave in which you could go down and feel the Indian Ocean (it was cold). That was great and we got some good shots, but there were 135 steps going down which was fine.

          It was the 135 steep steps going back up that made the journey more challenging !

          I tried to be very considerate of my fellow Adventurers by not letting them feel badly by being the last of the stragglers. I took pictures along the way to keep the slower pace. Yeah, that is the story I am going with

          Catching my breath. .

          Observing nature

          Trying to take a picture for Fishy




          I would totally do the walk again, but might skip the cave. or do the stairstepper more before my trip.

          Our lunch spot

          The smart ones


          A lot of the buildings were like this gift shop--they were built around the existing trees!

          Once everyone was caught up we had lunch and we were on our own for a few hours before it was time to get ready to go to the Knysna Elephant park.

          ---------- Post added 05-27-2012 at 11:42 AM ----------

          Dinner with the Elephants at the Knysna Elephant park

          The elephants were amazing, and we got to get up close and personal with them.

          The director of the reserve gave us a personal tour.

          The fruit on the ground is not the favorite of this particular elephant. She kept throwing it down.

          After feeding them for a bit we ran out of oranges and fruit, but that was on purpose. The next part of the tour we got to go to be in the field with these magnificent beasts. There was dry food to feed them there.

          The baby liked us

          We even got to pet their tongues!

          I was surprised to learn how soft the skin was behind their ears and how rough the rest of their skin was.

          We were told to take our backpacks/purses etc with us from the tram and we got to see why.

          Chris and Craig, Adventure guides extraordinaire. Notice the tram in the background. .

          When we were out of food for the herd the matriarch went straight to the tram to see if there was anything hiding food for her. This includes purses and backpacks.

          Everyone helps with the inspection

          The culprit in the background.

          We had dinner at the elephant park and at dinner I tried Warthog, which was not bad but it might have been bad karma . . .

          Lisa and our Adventure Guide Chris not eating Warthog.
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          • #6
            Re: Safari to South Africa!

            Wow, amazing trip! Adventures by Disney really treats you right. Hopefully I can do something like this some day! Thank you so much for sharing.
            Hidden Mickey - Historical fiction about Walt that mixes action and mystery with time travel and fantasy! Tweens to adults will enjoy these novels. And now, three gamebooks to play in Disneyland, DCA and WDW Magic Kingdom!

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            • #7
              Re: Safari to South Africa!

              Thank you so much for the photos. Next month I am going to Alaska with Adventures by Disney, but I have always been interested in the South Africa trip, and the photos only increase my interest. I am sure you would have liked a few less people on your trip, but I am glad to see that the trip is so popular, as it means it will still be offered, when I can get around to going. And it looks like I will be sending alot of postcards back to the U.S., as my photos will never come out as good as yours. Thank-you again.


              • #8
                Re: Safari to South Africa!

                Fantastic journey - thank you so much for sharing such an incredible vacay. Just wow.
                Just countin' the days til the next visit!