Aces High: My trip to South Africa…
Upon landing I was excited to step into the lap of luxury but was detained by the drug dogs in customs. I was confused why at first until we realized that Spot was just hungry for the pretzels in my pocket. Note to self, when going through customs don’t stash treats in your front pocket.
Finally I pulled up to the Intercontinental Hotel in Johannesburg. On the list of the most luxurious hotels I have stayed in, I was delighted to check into my suite and stayed for one night.
In the morning I was greeted by Rhino Travel and escorted to a private airport. Boarding the jet to Londolozi we only had to fly one hour to reach one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
Dave our park ranger picked us up in a roofless safari Land Rover and drove us to Granite Camp. It almost seemed like a mirage. Consisting of 3 luxury villas each with their own private pools, we were given villa 2, the best of all.
After unpacking we met the manager of Granite Camp, Kate, in the common room for her to explain daily schedule while I sipped on amazing South African coffee. Our day started out with a 5am wake up call, French press coffee, scones & biscuits. Anyone who knows me knows the way to my heart in the morning is delicious French press coffee. With my eyes barely open I layered up to prepare for the brisk early weather of South Africa.
The best time to spot the magnificent leopards and lions are at dusk. Our handsome ranger Dave was accompanied by Bennett the animal tracker (he had 20 years experience). It was fascinating how Bennett knew every detail about the tracks left behind of each species as well as the sex of these gorgeous creatures.
The feeling of being so close to a pride of lions, only 2 feet away was breath taking. I felt so honored to be able to combine my love for photography with my love of nature at its best.
After our early morning drive we came back to Granite Camp we were treated to a lavish cold breakfast buffet along with several choices savory warm foods. After eating we were able to nap, work out, get an amazing massage, or explore the grounds at our leisure.
One of my favorite things about the lunch served on our second day was the unique luxury tree house experience. Called “Tree Tops” atop an actual tree, we were served our food in this romantic private environment. I couldn’t believe how beautiful these tree houses were. Large enough for six adults, these fully furnished tree houses were exceptional! We were actually eating lunch with baboons surrounding us.
At about 4:30pm each day we were taken on another game drive. This time of day was ideal for spotting elephants, giraffes, monkeys and hyenas’.
After showering in the magnificent stone spa-like shower with a glass view into the wilderness, I prepared for dinner. The first night was a delicious dinner in the common area. The second night the crew surprised me with a private dinner in my suite, scattered with rose petals, and a candle lit warm bath drawn for me to unwind.The third night I joined Kate and David for dinner in an elegant wine cellar. There was a variety of wines for us to taste and enjoy. This was a perfect end to the most unforgettable and surreal experiences of my life.
Thanks to Bianca Johnstone at RhinoAfrica for planning this experience. I never have could imagine the supreme quality of this vacation. Initially I would have never thought going on a safari could be romantic, but was I wrong, this would be the ultimate honeymoon experience.