FAM Trip to South Africa

FAM Trip to South Africa

Visions of South Africa 

For those who don’t know, a FAM trip is a Familiarisation Trip to get to know a destination.

In August 2019 TravelPack one of our Key suppliers invited me on a trip to Visit South Africa to celebrate this as one of their emerging destinations and to showcase this to Key Agents.

The itinerary was jam packed with various lodges, game reserves and safari drives.

We departed from London on a British Airways flight to Johannesburg, Luckily for us we had an account Manager from British Airways on the trip and she got us upgraded to Business class, with lay flat beds for the long overnight journey ahead… A Great Start to the Trip !!

On arrival in JNB, the group of 8 of us were greeted by Ilios Travel, who were our transport hosts for the trip. Lovely clean modern transport!

DAY 1 – The Capital Melrose – Johannesburg

We checked into The Capital Melrose Hotel and freshened up, before heading off to Soweto for a tour of the Township and a visit to Nelson Mandela’s House.

Soweto was a real eye opener I was expecting to see a very run down Shanty Town, but first impressions were of a very modern, vibrant and well kept suburb. However, travelling through into the heart of Soweto, it was apparent that this was a tale of two cities,  we soon hit the very run down Shanty Town area, with houses with no windows, no running water and no electric. The locals were washing their clothes outside under stand pipes and the locals tapping into the Power grid with illegal  lines to run their Sky Televisions!!!!

Highlight of this tour was a visit to the home of Nelson Mandela and the Apartheid Museum.  I Would recommend this to any of our clients!

The Capital Melrose is a beautiful suite type hotel with ultra modern facilities, all rooms having their own fully equipped kitchenette area.  The hotel food was absolutely superb, and well positioned for those wishing to visit the well renowned Melrose shopping & retail area.

Day 2 – Shepherd’s Tree Game Lodge 

After a full nights sleep in South Africa, we headed North for a visit to the famous Sun City Resort, approximately a 2 hour drive.

On arrival at Sun City, they were taken for a full guided tour of the resort and its 4 hotels. This complex is absolutely stunning with ornate statues, superb restaurants, casino, golf course and everything you could possibly want for a relaxing break.

I would describe Sun City  as a Fantasy land in an Alien Environment as it has more of a Hollywood man-made feel than authentic South Africa, but still well worth a visit.

After Lunch  we  headed to the Shepherd’s Tree Game Lodge. And WOW what a contrast!! This was the first experience of real Africa!

The accommodation was set out in Bungalow type rooms, leading out from the central reception area, with golf buggies on hand to take us and our luggage to their rooms. My room overlooked the Pilanesburg National Park with superb views.

At 5pm we headed out on a Safari Drive and encountered our first meet with some of the big 5! The Safari drive lasted approximately 3 hours, and after sunset the temperature dropped and we were all given blankets to stave off the cold and headed back to the Lodge where we were treated to a gourmet dinner ,  to everybody’s surprise we were joined by Rhinos turning up at the watering hole right outside the restaurant, a real treat for everybody.

At 6am the following morning, Dawn rose and I tried the outdoor shower

before heading out another Safari Drive in freezing temperatures to see the animals coming to life in the morning!

We spotted a rare Black Rhino, and the highlight was a pair of Cheetahs crossing the road right infant of the Safari Jeep!

Day 3 – Jaci’s Lodge – Madikwe Game Reserve

After, the Game Drive & breakfast, We continued on our journey North to the remote Madikwe Game Reserve.

This journey took approximately 4 hours on a very rough and bumpy dirt track road and we really felt we were heading into the wilderness !!

On arrival at Jaci’s Lodge, we were shown our accommodation  a Tree House Suite!  perched High above the Jungle Canopy on stilts, overlooking the river. A real WOW factor!

After settling in, we went on another evening Game Drive.

The Madikwe Game Reserve was a total contrast to Pilanesberg with no man made roads,  just dirt tracks through the bush. This felt like a real African Experience as everything was real and not contrived, with no other tourists in sight.

Wildlife was abundant everywhere, with several sightings of Rhinos, Giraffes, Elephants, Buffalo, Crocodiles and Kampala. The drive finished off with a traditional Bush Barbecue.

6am the following morning they were straight back to business with yet another Game Drive! The driver was determined for us to see animals up close and at one time headed off the dirt track chasing through the bush after some Rhino’s!! This was real Africa at its best!  The driver spotted a piece of treasure on the Bush floor, he jumped out of the Jeep and came back with a real elephant tusk which has been broken off he suspects in a bull elephant fight.

Day 4 – Safari Plains – South Africa

We  headed off  on the road again to experience a Private Game Lodge.

After 3 hours we arrived at the Safari Plains Private Game Reserve. The accommodation was luxury tents. A real Glamping Experience!

The Game drives here was  not as authentic as Madikwe as animals were in various large enclosures and felt more like a huge Uk Safari Park than a real experience.

However, wild Giraffe were free to wander in and out  the compound and two came right along side the swimming pool for a nose , made for a nice feel and touch to the property!

The manager of the resort turned out to be Welsh with the name of Lloyd!! Small World! I  gave him a present of a Welsh Rugby Top, which he promised to wear with pride when Wales played South Africa in the World Cup!

Day 5 – Entabeni Lakeside Lodge – Mookgopong

On the last leg of the trip – we headed to Legends, another Private Game Reserve but on a much larger scale!

This resort acts as a hotel, golf  and conference centre with the only 19 hole golf course in Africa !

The 19th hole is unusual not only in it being the 19th hole, but has to be played off the top of the mountain, which is only reachable via helicopter!! For the real adrenaline junkies!

In the afternoon, they headed off to explore the resort, which was massive and entailed much off roading, climbing over rough terrain to reach the top of the Legends Mountain, with fantastic breathtaking views and we witnessed  4 out of the Big  5 !

This resort was huge and although it was a private game reserve everything felt real and totally authentic  this resort has something for everybody, with lakeside lodges, mountain escapes, wilderness camping/Glamping & a rural retreats.

This was a once in a lifetime trip and although I wouldn’t suggest you packing this much into a 6 day trip, I would highly suggest doing this over a longer period!

If you are interested in hearing more on this, or planning your own South African Adventure, please get in contact with me on 01633 897002 or allan@thetravelbusiness.co.uk and I will be more than happy to help!

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