African Adventure

Joan Elder

On May 2, 2018 I flew from JFK in New York to Johannesburg, South Africa—a 14-hour flight! My 18 fellow travelers, in what was called “the Elder Group” came from many states, but there were “no strangers.” I had invited many and some of those friends invited others, so we were all connected from the start.

Our first destination was Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Accommodations at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge were magnificent with food that was delicious. This was true throughout Africa and the presentation of the food was most picturesque. The dining room overlooked a water hole where we watched elephants, water buffalo, kudu and other animals as we enjoyed meals. The sunset cruise on the Zambezi River the evening of our arrival gave us an opportunity to also see hippos and crocodiles float right beside our boat.

The next day we were taken to the Victoria Falls bridge which connects Zambia and Zimbabwe. Following a theatrical presentation of the history of the bridge, we suited up in harnesses for an exciting walk under the bridge on a wire-mesh walkway. It was scenic and exciting as the misty wind blew around us. That afternoon during our walking tour of the Victoria Falls area we were treated to a magnificent double rainbow.

That evening at our first Boma dinner, we were adorned in native dress and challenged to taste a Mopani Worm. For doing so, I received a certificate! The following morning as I exited my room, just 10 yards away was a troop of baboons frolicking in the grass. Great photos! Our visit to the elephant sanctuary gave us the opportunity to pet and feed these rescued animals. We did not touch the more-wild elephants we saw later on our safaris. That afternoon while some of us visited a native village, others went for High Tea at the elegant Victoria Falls Hotel. They were quite surprised to meet two other ladies on the shuttle—one from SaddleBrooke and the other from Oro Valley! Small world for sure!

From Victoria Falls we flew to Cape Town. What a magnificent city! Our tours included Robben Island, Table Mountain, the Boulder Penguin Colony, driving to the Cape Point, the most southwestern point of Africa, Kitstenbosch Gardens and many more wonderful restaurants. We spent a full day in the Cape Winelands visiting Paarl, Stellenbosch (dating back to 1679) and Franschook and tasting delicious wine. Our meals at the winery and Governor’s Hall Restaurant were outstanding.

The location of our four safaris was Pilanesburg National Park. The five-star Shepherd’s Tree Game Lodge was perfection. The animals we saw on these safaris and the elegant meals served and even the spa massages made it hard to leave there.

Our final stop was Johannesburg where we learned a great deal about Africa during the years of Apartheid through visits to the Mandela Family Museum, the Apartheid Museum and Hector Pieterson Museum. We also visited the Cradle of Humankind and Maropeng Visitor Center tracing humans for millions of years. Many of the artifacts displayed in this modern museum were discovered in a nearby cave which some of us climbed into. The steps down and low spots were challenging, but the 200 steps up almost did me in!

Our 14-hour flight back to New York was much easier since we left Johannesburg at 9:00 p.m. and not 11:00 a.m. as we had done from New York two weeks earlier. Most of us ate dinner and then slept much of the flight. As we said goodbyes at JFK to friends, new and old, we agreed this was an amazing African Adventure that we were all very glad we had the opportunity to experience.