Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Safaris At Lion Sands #SafariSA

 I really can't put into words how amazing the safaris here in South Africa at Lion Sands have been. I've seen so many  amazing animals in their natural habitats. Sometimes it's been a little scary, when lions are walking right next to the truck and you're sitting on the outside. Your heart catches in your throat and you hold your breath, but he just keeps walking by. Other times the animals are doing the cutest things and you can't help but baby talk to them or say Aww.

The one thing I hadn't anticipated before coming was the dead animals. It's the circle of life out here and you do see a bit of it. It's sad but then it is how nature works.

Below are examples of all of these moments. Hope you enjoy the pictures.

Cape Buffalo drinking from the river in front of our room.
 Hippo hitting the beach for a little tanning time.
Leopard heading up a tree with her porcupine dinner. Sounds a bit prickly but she was happy to have it.
 Tiny little chameleon our guide spotted while driving home one night.
 Leopard just hanging out
Hippo chilling in the water hole, where he likes to spend his days.
 Lion cleaning up after dinner, he swiped a whole giraffe off two younger lions. One look at his claws and you can see why they ran.
 The two younger lions who lost their giraffe. Don't feel two bad for them, they had it for a day or two.
 Rhino
 Vulture getting a little giraffe snack when the lion wasn't looking.
Pretty sure this is water buck. I get my antelopes confused.
 Nyala, I think. See above,
 Wart Hog, unmistakable  Their babies are super cute, in a so ugly you're cute kind of way.
 This giraffe has a curvature in his neck. I made him look like he was sassing us everytime we say him. "yeah, what are you looking at" I imagined him saying.

Leopard hanging on a log. It's a little nerve racking sitting in the truck below one of these guys, wondering if he's going to decide to jump down. 









Short of Robert Redford coming and washing my hair, I really can't think of a thing that could have made this trip any better. I will definitely come back at my earliest convenience.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lions Sands, Sabi Sands South Africa #SafariSA


We arrived in Lion Sands at the 1933 lodge and were stunned by the beautiful surroundings. Our rooms have walls of windows, so when you look out across the Sabi river that flows by, you can see Cape Buffalo, Hippos, Impala, and more. Did I mention there are also monkeys in the trees.


Even the bathroom has floor to ceiling windows. It made me wonder, while an impala watched me showering, exactly who was on safari. Fortunately, the impala had no camera nor facebook account to post to.


The kids could not have been happier with their dormitory style bunk beds. 5 kids ranging in age from 4-10 had sweet dreams every night in their own special kid space. The bunk beds were second only to the pool in their hearts. Where else can you splash around in a pool and then look up and see elephants off the deck?


Finally, we were treated to a South African boma (bar b que) one night. It was delicious and gorgeous.


Tomorrow's post will be full of safari pictures from Lions Sands. We've seen some amazing things here the highlight being leopard cubs.


For more on our trip check out my Safari pals Jamie at I am Not The Babysitter 



Friday, February 22, 2013

Visiting Cape Town #SafariSA



There are so many things to do in and around Cape Town you really need several days. With just three days we've done our darnedest to see as much as possible. From Wineries to Penguins, we did it. We were so lucky to get to start out from the beautiful More Quarters Redcliffe House. Just look at this entrance and the living room...

          

Our first day found us heading to wine country, through some of the most idealistic villages you can imagine. They reminded me quite a bit of California's Napa valley and other wine regions with lots of great restaurants and shopping. We did a quick stop in Franschhoek for lunch, which I highly recommend. Lots of shopping too.

  

We also stopped at Drankenstein Correctional Facility, which may seem odd. But it's the last prison that held Nelson Mandela and where he was released from. The entrance has a huge statue of Mandela and it is good to see. I would mention that you are not allowed to climbed on it, as the orange suited security guard is coming to tell us. We apologized profusely.



Day two we headed down to the Cape of Good Hope. On the way we stopped to see the Jackass penguins, named for the sound they make not their disposition, at Boulders Beach near Simonstown.

We also saw ostriches and there was a promise of baboons, but they did not appear. So sad.

We finally made it down to the southern most tip of Africa and got our picture. I'm sure it will make my mother's Christmas card this year.



And on the third day I rested and wrote this post. Early tomorrow morning we head to Lions Sands for our last leg of this trip. I'm glad we wrap it up back on safari. Stay tuned for lots of animals. you can follow us on Twitter with the hash tag #SafariSA.


For more on our trip check out my Safari pals Jamie at I am Not The Babysitter 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Africa, You Can't Come Just Once


I have been saying for a year how this trip to South Africa was a once in a lifetime trip. Well, I lied, I don't care what I have to do I will definitely be coming back many times. Once, is not enough. (Is that a James Bond movie?) For 3 days we got on the safari truck at 5:30 am and 4 pm and in the beautiful lighting of the early morning and late afternoon and came so close to some of the worlds most beautiful and strange creatures. This must be what heroine is like. I can not get enough.

 

Just look at this video. Where our safari truck driver is forced to  face off with a gigantic elephant bull, who could throw us around like a rag doll should he take it in his mind to do so. I actually know what it's like to be completely speechless now. Sorry for the footage at the end, of the floor of the truck, I think my husband, who was filming, was in shock and forgot what he was doing.



I think the child asking the questions at the beginning was saying what we were all thinking.



Apart from the animals I really should give credit to the staff at Madikwe Safari Lodge, for making our trip so off the charts incredible. Everyone from the safari guides to the maid service was so kind and accommodating. They are all working 24/7 but appear to be having the best time ever and if there was one more thing they could do to make your stay better they'rewere happy to do it. I'm not exaggerating.

Our two safari guides, Billy and Andre were just incredible. Andre did 90% of the drives with the children aboard, and he was so sweet with them. He was like a favorite uncle who makes everything seem cool and fascinating. He was also very patient with them when attentions would wane or fatigue would set in. Billy was amazing at tracking and he would take time to show us how he did it. He was also very serious about preservation to the point of driving around bug, of which there are many. Both were extremely knowledgeable about all things safari.


At one point it looked like we would have to get transportation to come to Cape Town at two in the morning and they were all, at least outwardly, happy to get up in the middle of the night to drive us and feed us and basically try to make it as painless as possible. Thankfully that disaster was averted.

I really can't say enough nice things about these people. Hope to see them all again very soon!




For more on our trip check out my Safari pals Jamie at I am Not The Babysitter 





Sunday, February 17, 2013

Madikwe Safari Lodge South Africa



We arrived at Madikwe Safari Lodge last night and were greeted by their amazing staff with cool towels and cold drinks. We had already seen several animals just on the drive up, giraffes, wart hogs, impala, spring bok, kudu, wildebeest and zebra. I’ll admit I got a bit emotional. It really felt like a life time dream was coming true.



Once inside the lodge your breath is taken away again by the beautiful d├ęcor, a mix of simple elegant furniture and nature. They really have mastered the art of combining inside and outside space while maintaining a feel of a 5 star resort.














Our rooms are gorgeous with stellar views of plains where if you’re lucky you can see some of the array of wild life passing by. I have been struggling with jet lag so it maybe that I was just incredibly tired but the bed was perfect and I slept like a baby.We even have a plunge pool on our private deck.



















Once we had settled in we were taken out for our first game ride and it did not disappoint. So many great animal sighting and then to top it off some cocktails in the bush. Afterward we had a gourmet dinner under the stars on the veranda/dining room of the lodge.
















And today has been just as amazing, but that’s a post for tomorrow.

For more on our trip check out my Safari pals Jamie at I'm Not The Babysitter 

This post is sponsored by More Hotel South Africa and Destination South Africa Travel 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Flying To South Africa


Just 24 hours ago Jamie, Shannon and I and a 11 members of our various families took off from JFK on South African Airways, for my dream trip to South Africa. These are our before 15 hour flight pictures. I have to say as 15 hour flights go South African Airways made it pretty comfortable with lots of available food and drink throughout the flight. They also keep the cabin dark for the majority of the flight so you can sleep, which I was not very successful at. If you, like me, are sitting sleep challenged, not to worry, they have a huge list of movies to chose from including Oscar Noms I hadn't had a chance to see like Argo and Lincoln. They also include heaps of kid's movies and games too. (Which may have made my previous post re: kids activities for long plane flights irrelevant. Though I still stand by lanyards.)


Below is our after, with more of the clans, and of course my eyes are closed....Oh well. Johannesburg is treating us well. Unfortunately, we don't have much time here. We leave tomorrow morning for Madikwe Safari Lodge and our first look at some amazing animals. If I weren't so tired I'd be jumping up and down with glee. But, as it is I am smiling quite broadly.

 FYI don't call Child Protective Services just yet, we're all enjoying a bit of refreshing cranberry juice. 


After just a little bathing and a 3 hour nap I was ready for the real thing. And it was delicious!


Thanks to the lovely people/bartenders here in Johannesburg at the Sandton Sun Hotel



Thursday, February 14, 2013

Kids Plane Activities


Some times I think that Samuel L Jackson movie Snakes On A Plane should have been called Kids On A Plane. It would have been more terrifing.

Part of going to Africa is spending an insane amount of time on a plane, that can only be made to feel longer by a bored child driving you and everyone in chair kicking and ear shot distance crazy. So here are some of my 8 year old daughters favorite plane activites.

Electronic-

Download TV Shows. Movies are great to download but you can download whole seasons of shows for the same price and that buys you a lot more time of watching. For this trip we got Marvin Marvin from Nickelodeon. She loves it.

Video games are great. My daughter loves Sound Shapes from Playstation, ( and her father may enjoy a little Unchartered, Golden Abyss). Of course if you're bringing an iPad there are several free games you can download and won't need wifi to play on the plane, of those Temple Run is a fave in our house.

Crafts-

You may remember making lanyards at camp as a kid and loving it, I hope. Well it's just as fun now. Many discount stores carry the plastic laces in every color. OK you may have to hit a few stores but I find color variation is key. you can also incorporate beads. Making these can eat a lot of time. Scissors on a plane is a no no so be sure you bring some of the plastic rounded preschool scissors to cut the laces.

Friendship bracelets are similar to lanyards but in my experience they are not interchangeable and to a child count as two totally different activities. The string/yarn can also be had at discount stores and variety is important.

Bring precut out colored paper shapes, triangles, circles, flowers, crescent moons, lines, whatever you can come up with, along with blank sheets of paper and a glue stick. Creative kids minds can do a lot with that. If you add in some markers or crayons so much the better.

Hopefully these will serve you and us well on our next flight.

This post is sponsored by More Hotel South Africa and Destination South Africa Travel 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Going to Africa



Today we take our first leg of our trip to Africa. We fly to New York and stay the night in a hotel for the next morning flight to Johannesburg. That 15 hour flight makes me grateful for the relative shortness of today's flight of 5 hours. Also the kid is very excited about seeing actual snow fall from the actual sky. So a night in New York is very welcome.

I have to send big love to our travel agents at DSA (Destination South Africa) for answering all our tireless, and for them I'm sure, tiresome questions. "What happens if this east coast storm delays our flight?" "Can you move our seats?" "What malarial should I take?" "Can you come over and pack for me?" OK maybe I just thought that last one. But really they have been great setting up all our flights, transit, and tours. Allowing me to obsess about packing and the possibility of being eaten by a lion, which DSA promises me will not happen.

Stay tuned for much more interesting posts after Friday when the real trip begins with our first SAFARI at Madikwe. I. DIE.

You can also see my fellow South Africa Safari mates blogs on our first day out at The Women Formerly Known As Beautiful and I Am Not The Babysitter