A litte background: We made this trip because Nick had a class he had to take in Cape Town for his EMBA program. There were 14 people from Nick's program in the class and most of them brought their SOs. About half of the group met up a week before the class started to do a little bit of traveling outside of Cape Town and the other half traveled after the program. Nick and I joined the first group and met up with Matt, Courtney, Kashif, Hana, Becca, Scott, Syed and Amina in Johannesburg. We spent 2 days in Joburg. Then, Nick and I flew out to Zimbabwe to visit Victoria Falls (the rest of the group went on safari at Lukimbi Lodge in Kruger National Park). Since we did a safari for our honeymoon in Kenya & Tanzania at the Masai Mara National Park and Serengeti, we wanted to do something a little different. But if you have never been on safari, GO! We met up with Roddy, Garret, and Robin at Victoria Falls. After 3 days in Zimbabwe, we headed for Cape Town and stayed there for about 8 days. Here is the basic itinerary for our trip:
Sunday, April 27 Leave NYC for Johannesburg (Nick and I opted to take the BA flight which had a layover in London. Everyone else chose to take the South Africa Air direct flight).
Monday, April 28 Arrive in Joburg and wonder around Melville and Mandela Square. We stayed at the Courtyard Rosewood. It was a nice and clean hotel which was perfect for our purposes. They had a delicious complimentary breakfast buffet every morning.
Tuesday, April 29 Tour of Soweto, Mandela House, and Apartheid Museum
Wednesday, April 30 Head to Zimbabwe to Victoria Falls. We stayed at the Victoria Falls Hotel This hotel is AWESOME! I kept telling Nick that I felt like I was in a Cary Grant movie. We were pretty beat up when we arrived so we decided to take it pretty easy and do a sunset cruise down the Zambezi River.
Thursday, May 1: We woke up early in the morning to go on a tour of the Falls. In the afternoon, we went to Lion Encounter to walk with lions. Lion Encounter is a conservation program that attempts to re-introduce the offspring of captive-bred African lions back into the wild. While it was a little touristy and I do not love the idea of humanizing the mother lions, it is a way to increase awareness of endangered African Lions. And if this program is successful, it will be a great breakthrough to helping not only the African lion but also animals like the cheetah, leopard, etc...
My Thoughts on Victoria Falls:
- We booked the tour of Victoria Falls when we were in NYC and didn't realize that we could walk to the Falls from our hotel. While it was nice not to be bombarded by vendors and to meet some of the other people who were staying at the hotel, I would do a self guided tour and save the money.
- The Falls were absolutely breathtaking. We decided to visit Victoria Falls based on a recommendation from one of Nick's coworkers who is South African. Because Zimbabwe is coming out of its winter/rainy season, Nick's coworker said it would be a great time of year to visit the Falls because they would be very full. While it was awesome to see the Falls in all of its glory, I would actually recommend visiting in September (dry season). Because there was so much spray, it was a bit difficult to see and enjoy the views. Also, because the currents were too strong, we weren't able to go white water rafting or visit Devil's Pool.
- Nick and I agree that we would absolutely go back at some point in our lives. The Victoria Falls Hotel was so relaxing and quaint. We will def make sure to go during the dry season though because there is a lot more to do and it will be interesting to see the difference from the wet season.
Part 2: Cape Town will be up next week!