Kanise here taking over this week's blog post to share with you my glorious adventure in Africa earlier this month. I went on a14 day journey with Amawaterways to discover the best of Southern Africa. There are several variations to this itinerary with different pre and post land options. The core trip that I went on called Discover Africa includes 3 nights in Capetown, a 4 night river cruise on the Chobe River and 2 nights in Victoria Falls. I added two nights in Johannesburg with a tour of Soweto to round out the end. There is was so much to love about this trip from the grand hotels and meals to the train ride and sunset cruise. I can't share all the brilliant photos I took, but if you would like to see more just look for the AmaWaterways highlight story on our Instagram page. This is a trip that I highly recommend whether you're a solo traveler or a family trip. It is truly a trip of a lifetime that you won't ever forget, I know I won't.
Top 5 - Discover Africa (Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe)
1. The Jeep Safari (above and below)
By far, the best part of this trip was riding through Chobe National Park in an open jeep and seeing all the wonderful wildlife. We were able to see giraffes, zebra, impala gazelles, cape buffalo, elephants and much more. The most awesome moment was spotting a lion hiding in the grass then walking across the field. In many cases the animals were so close that you could reach out and touch them (of course we didn't). The tour guides are very experienced and they can spot animals way out in the distance so you don't miss anything. They are also very knowledgeable about the animals so the safari is quite the learning experience as well. Did you know a group of giraffes is called a tower and they have the same amount of neck bones as a human? On a scale of 1-10 this experience would be 100.
2. The Zambezi Queen (above and below)
Our home for the river part of the tour was the majestic Zambezi Queen. While it only holds 28 passenger this river boat is really quite nice and spacious. The interior has recently been remodeled for a more modern aesthetic that is inviting and comfortable. Every room faces outwards and has a balcony so you can watch the life on the river as you rest in your bed or sip coffee on your balcony. The entire boat is made for sightseeing and has large french balconies on the sides and decks on the front and back. There is even a plunge pool. During the day you can watch any animals that may be at the water and at night you can watch the stars. It's so dark you can see the milky way with your naked eyes. Sunset watching was one of my favorite activities. The sky turned the deepest shades of blue, purple and red that was simply amazing. The star of the Zambezi Queen has to be the staff. Everyone is extremely friendly and ready to help you in anyway. On the final evening they shared their traditional food, dance and culture with us in a great performance.
3. Capetown, South Africa (above and below)
The trip started with three nights in Capetown at the Cape Grace Hotel. This hotel is set against the backdrop of Table Mountain and next to Victoria Harbor. The property has a spa, fitness center and whiskey bar next to the water. Victoria Harbor has a mall and tons of shops, restaurants and live music performances. During the Capetown portion of the trip we took a day trip to the Cape of Good Hope and Boulder Beach where there are hundreds of South African penguins. The second day there was a choice between a winery tour or a trip to Robbens island. Being the foodie and wine enthusiast I am, I opted for the winery tour. We visited two wineries and had wine pairings and a lovely lunch. South Africa makes really good chenin blanc and pinotage. And lastly no trip to South Africa is complete without a visit to Table Mountain. After a short cable car ride up, you see the most amazing views of the city below.
4. Victoria Falls (above and below)
After the river portion we headed over to Victoria Falls by coach. There we stayed at the glamourous Victoria Falls Hotel. There is no doubt this is a luxury hotel with all it's ornate fixtures, fancy furniture and top of the line service. Lounging by the pool while having lunch is a must while here. Part of this segment of the tour is a sunset train ride on the Royal Livingstone Express. We literally received the red carpet treatment. The train ride takes about an hour to get to the Victoria Falls bridge where you watch the sun go down behind the falls and it includes a selection of canapes and beverages each way. Enough to make a meal. If you're nice, the conductor will let you pull the horn lol. Also part of the Victoria Falls segment is obviously a trip to the falls. There are 15 different stations along the path that give way to a different views of the falls. Stations 1-8 are where you see the most. After that it's a tornado of water swirling around you. I couldn't handle it after station 10 and turned back. In the park they had baboons and that's where I snapped the cute picture below.
5. River Safari (above and below)
While on the Zambezi Queen there were multiple times where a river safari was offered. We went out on tender boats and sailed up and down the river to spot wildlife. This part of trip heavily focused on the birds of Africa. I'm not usually a bird person but I was very intrigued by the different species. Our host was a true ornithophile and was able to spot everything large and small and give information about them. Who knew there were birds called bee eaters and fish eagles (shown above) and water thick knees. And they all have different calls. The river safari was also another great opportunity to see more land animals like the kudu, more giraffes and crocodiles.
6. Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa (above and below)
Today I will break from the norm and add a sixth favorite, the Fairlawns Boutique Hotel in Johannesburg. While all the hotels were beautiful, this one was my favorite. Once a family estate, it is now a 54 suite hotel . Each of the suites are uniquely decorated with European and Asian elements. The public areas are beautifully adorned with gold and flashy colors. It is the epitome of glitz and glam and the dining was superb.
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