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DansDeals Forum => Trip Reports => Topic started by: dvol on August 24, 2017, 12:23:31 PM

Title: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: dvol on August 24, 2017, 12:23:31 PM
A few months ago I met a sales rep from a South African safari tour company who also did kosher safaris and the idea of a kosher safari stayed stuck in my head. Fast forward a few weeks and my husband and I decided that we would do a South Africa trip in August to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary.

I sent an email to the tour company with the amount of time I wanted to spend there (6-7 days), and my dates (anytime in August). I knew absolutely nothing about SA, had never been and knew only 1 person that had visited there. The tour company was fantastic in helping me plan this trip and guided me every step of the way and answered all of my many, many questions. Could this trip have cost me less if I booked everything myself (in which case I could have used points for some of it)? Yes, although without points I don’t think the savings would have been too significant. Would I book it through the tour company again and/or recommend others to do so? Definitely. They took care of everything from the domestic flights in SA, to the tour guides, to the kosher food and more. Due to certain circumstances we were able to splurge on this vacation a bit and so booking this way was completely worth it for us, but to each their own.

After I got a few prospective dates from the tour company I had to see which dates would work best with flights that I could find since I did want to book that solely with points. Due to my husband’s work we could not be gone for more than 1 Monday and because we were leaving 2 kids behind we didn’t want to be away more than 1 Shabbos or too many days in general. I searched Alaska for availability in F on Emirates and found availability JFK-DXB-CPT on August 9. I transferred 185K SPG points (in 3 increments) to JAL since 115k JAL points were needed per person. I did the first transfer on a Monday and by Friday morning all 3 transfers showed up in my JAL account. There was enough availability on Alaska that I wasn’t worried it would disappear in those few days, and worst case I would book alternate dates since I hadn’t confirmed the rest of my trip yet. For the return I was not seeing anything on Alaska for Emirates in First on any of my desired return dates. Being that one-way fares on EK in F from SA were pretty decent I ended up booking my return with Amex points and getting 50% back (this was in May). I booked a flight leaving Johannesburg on Wednesday evening August 17 with an 18.5 hour layover in Dubai and arriving back to JFK Friday at 9AM.

All pictures were taken by my iPhone 7 and I’ll be the first to say they are probably awful. My husband did take his GoPro Hero 5 (with Karma grip) but we haven’t even looked at all the hours of footage and pictures on there yet.

JFK-DXB-CPT

Since my departure was booked with JAL miles we were not eligible for the chauffeur pickup. We got to the airport about 2.5 hours before our flight time (which was 11:20AM), checked in at the dedicated First desk and headed straight to the Emirates lounge.

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4349/36715370036_4b87d7faa1_b.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/XWpSnj) (https://flic.kr/p/XWpSnj)

While it was a nice lounge it wasn’t extraordinary but we did love the fact that we boarded directly from the lounge. This was our first flight on Emirates and what an experience. We boarded and were immediately greeted by the FAs and shown how everything worked and given pajamas and Bulgari amenity kit:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4388/36592658792_2a93264ee9_b.jpg)

 (https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4424/35928009464_5ceb41e014_b.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/XKyWAd)


We had seats 3E and 3F:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4382/36607454492_1d20dccbb1_b.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/XLSLQu)

We were immediately offered drinks, snacks, newspapers, magazines and of course champagne and the FAs came through with Arabic coffee and dates. The purser also came by to introduce himself.
There was only 1 more passenger in F on this flight and so after takeoff we had them make up the window seats in row 3 on either side of us as beds and kept the 2 in the middle as seats.

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4391/35953515013_391bf1d483_b.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/WM6apT)

I have of course seen countless photos and reviews of EK F but nothing comes close to the real deal. It was an amazing experience and was almost like a trip of its own.
Being that this was the A380 equipped with showers, we scheduled our showers for 1.5 hours before landing. Since there are 2 we were able to schedule them for the same time and the FA made sure with us that she had our permission to wake us then if we were sleeping.
We were floored by the size and elegance of the bathroom and it was a real treat and unlike any other airplane bathroom I’ve seen before:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4372/36715367246_1d0a4eaa32_b.jpg)  (https://flic.kr/p/XWpRxd)

And of course, there’s nothing like a shower at 35,000 feet:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4408/36592654772_ba7e0750f2_b.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/XKyVoU)

The bar/snack area for first class:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4379/36623231651_e2b260fd3d_b.jpg)

 (https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4426/36592654672_6c648368ae_b.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/XNgCQt)


The bar for business and first located behind business class:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4368/36607753782_828dd57261_b.jpg)

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4398/36777935155_ebd711031c_b.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/XLUiNE)


While we ordered kosher meals we didn’t end up asking for it as we had brought along sandwiches and that was good enough for us.
Neither of us could sleep much between the excitement and it being in middle of the day for us but the 11+ hours flew by (pun intended :P) and before we knew it we were landing in Dubai. Our connection time was just under 3 hours (They did have a 1 hour connection but I could only find business availability on that flight). We headed straight to the first class lounge which was truly impressive and MASSIVE. It stretches the entire length of the terminal and was easy to get lost in. We scheduled our complimentary 15 minute massages and had some coffee in the lounge while we waited. Besides the numerous bars and snack spreads in the lounge there is a complimentary restaurant inside as well as a pretty large smoking area:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4358/36778185865_3148db7993_b.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/Y2XPjR)

Unfortunately we could not board directly from the lounge for our flight to Cape Town so after a while we made our way down to the gate. They shuttled all passengers to the plane (a surprisingly long almost 10 minute ride) and they had separate shuttle buses for each cabin. While I didn’t get to see the economy or business shuttles these were the seats on the First class shuttle:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4402/36592650282_008e588409_b.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/XKyU4u)

Our 777 waiting to take us to Cape Town: (I was scolded for taking photos)

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4407/36592649722_82e29b910f_b.jpg)  (https://flic.kr/p/XKyTTQ)

This was an older 777 and while the seats themselves were identical to those on the A380, the screen was smaller and not a touch-screen and the remotes were much more outdated. The bathrooms were regular airplane bathrooms and there was no star lighting on the ceilings. There were only 8 seats in first class and besides for 1 empty seat, all were taken. While we were originally seated in 1E and 1F in the middle, my TV wasn’t working so I was moved to the only open seat available which was 1A. This was fine since by that point we were exhausted and slept through most of the (pretty bumpy) flight.

Next up: 3 Days in Cape Town

Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: @Yehuda on August 24, 2017, 12:48:45 PM
Nice start! Great writing style and pics. That flight looks like quite the experience.
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: Joe4007 on August 24, 2017, 01:11:55 PM
Great start! Excited for the next segment.
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: Z56 on August 24, 2017, 02:24:50 PM
excellent report! waiting for the next part
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: maxmiles on August 24, 2017, 03:05:40 PM
Great TR so far! My brother did a Kosher Safari in December, he said it was the most amazing experience!
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: brodes18 on August 24, 2017, 04:03:48 PM
Great TR!, Thanks. Looking forward to the next installment
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: Dawie on August 24, 2017, 05:46:46 PM
thanx for sharing, keep it going !
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: Denverite on August 24, 2017, 11:14:30 PM
thanx for sharing, keep it going !

+1 looks amazing and I can't wait to read the rest!
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: Yammer on August 24, 2017, 11:37:15 PM
Great TR

of course seen countless photos and reviews of EK F but nothing comes close to the real deal.


Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: mmgfarb on August 25, 2017, 01:17:28 AM
Great start!
Just wondering, how much was the one way F fare back to JFK and did you consider any other options like EY or QR for the return?
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: Proisrael on August 25, 2017, 02:57:40 AM
Definitely not enough EK F reviews on DDF. Great start!!
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: Hjay on August 25, 2017, 05:52:37 AM
Great start! I had a safari trip booked a few years ago but last min I had to cancel… still dying to go, can't wait to hear about it.
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: dvol on August 28, 2017, 10:32:57 AM
Thanks everyone, writing up the Cape Town portion right now.

Great start!
Just wondering, how much was the one way F fare back to JFK and did you consider any other options like EY or QR for the return?

I can't recall exactly, I believe it was around $4k each and then half back...plus being a revenue ticket I was able to earn miles (and book the chauffeur).
The reason I wanted to stick with Emirates is that I wanted to do the long stopover in Dubai as opposed to any of the stopovers I would be able to do with EY or QR and I didn't want to do it on the way there, only on my way home. Schedule wise it also worked out for me far better than EY or QR.
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: dvol on August 28, 2017, 01:20:59 PM
Part 2:

CAPE TOWN

We arrived into CPT at about 6:30PM and our driver/tour guide was waiting for us after baggage claim to take us to our hotel, the Cape Grace. This hotel is right by the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and I cannot say enough nice things about it. The staff was so friendly and helpful and eager to please. Our check-in was smooth and while we were offered the penthouse suite for *only* $750 additional per night, we stuck with the room we had already booked which was a Superior Room with a view of Table Mountain and the marina as well as a nice sized balcony.

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4424/36592646862_16c8a25ece_c.jpg)

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4436/36715357316_66fe20610b_c.jpg)

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4439/36623223781_dd7877347c_c.jpg)


Our agent had booked the hotel’s complimentary chauffeur service to take us to dinner so after we settled in we were on our way to Avron’s Place in Sea Point. The chauffeur was scheduled to pick us up as well an hour and a half later. The hotel offers this complimentary chauffeur service to anywhere within 10km and they told us if we tried to book a chauffeur and one wasn’t available they would call us a taxi at no charge.

The place was a little busier than we expected since the neighborhood seemed so quiet, but after just a few minutes we were seated.  While the food was decent it wasn’t especially memorable and I personally found my steak sandwich a little too tough to eat while I very much enjoyed the spring roll appetizers.

Some of the menu:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4400/36762559645_eda2d39656_c.jpg)

Steak Sandwich:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4343/36715356306_defcd8ca18_c.jpg)

This Beef Espatada seemed to be their most popular item since every table had at least one order of it. While I didn’t taste it my husband said it was quite good but also a little tough:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4348/36060943483_7e7c2db8cc_c.jpg)

Here is where we started realizing how far the US dollar will get you in South Africa. Our entire meal which consisted of a few appetizers, a soup, a glass of wine, a smoothie, several sodas and 2 mains came to $42. We added a tip of about $7.50 and the waiter couldn’t stop thanking us. We asked the chauffeur later on what the customary gratuity in a restaurant is there and he said it’s just 10%.

We headed back to the hotel after our meal and crashed before our only day of touring in Cape Town.
 
We woke at 9AM on Friday and went down to the hotel’s restaurant to have our kosher breakfast. Our agent had arranged for food to be delivered from a local place called Goldie’s Diner. At the time of booking I was given a full menu of choices and was able to select what I would want for each meal. I love that these meals were served on china (albeit disposable china) and with real cutlery, and not in an airplane meal style aluminum/plastic container with plastic cutlery. Everything was double wrapped with strict instructions to the hotel on how and when to warm up each meal and they were so helpful and on the ball about it.

Breakfast consisted of a cold portion: muffin, juice, croissant with cream cheese and lox, some cut up fruit and a yogurt:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4344/36592645392_8b2729e748_c.jpg) 

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4436/36762557355_e03f1e78a1_c.jpg)   


As well as a hot portion:
Eggs, tomato, potato latke (the best part!) and sautéed mushroom and onion:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4409/36623221111_598c1d431f_c.jpg)

Now that we’d eaten it was time to start our day in Cape Town. Cape Town has been suffering from a drought for a while and although this was their rainy season we were told that it hadn’t rained once for the last 3 weeks which of course meant it rained on that day. Our morning started out dreary:

Saunders Rock Beach:
(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4371/36592644212_cf068104ae_c.jpg) 

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4346/35953505953_f556d65c11_c.jpg)


We visited the South African Jewish Museum which we found quite interesting:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4351/36623162361_9ec19706b5_c.jpg) 

They also have a very nice little kosher café in the museum

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4414/36623162661_7f1b53de7f_c.jpg) 

A pizza, fries, salad and sandwich plus several drinks came to about $25 after tip!

The cable cars up Table Mountain were closed all morning due to high winds and extreme cold at the top, but since the weather started clearing up at this point we decided to go to the cable station to see if they were operating (even though their website still said they weren’t).
Unfortunately their last cable car goes up at 5PM and they didn’t reopen at all that day so we were not able to get to the top of Table Mountain. But here are some pictures from the cable car station:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4337/36699542122_60ea66ba02_c.jpg) 

I believe the mountain in the background is the Lion’s Head:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4351/36061987003_9095d7128e_c.jpg) 

A magnificent view of Cape Town:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4354/36036297914_2bdaf95edd_c.jpg) 

After that we did some driving around the city. We went to the Bo-Kaap area as well as the small Bo-Kaap museum for a quick look around:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4354/36623158761_33ca238da7_c.jpg) 

We did a quick walk around the V&A Waterfront to buy some souvenirs then headed back to our hotel for Shabbos.

We found it quite amusing when we walked back into our hotel room and found the “Shabbos” candles my agent had requested from the hotel set up in our room:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4356/36365765890_66a0da8518_c.jpg) 

There was glorious weather there on Shabbos and being that the Cape Grace is by the V&A Waterfront we spent most of the afternoon just wandering around there. They have a section called the Watershed, sort of like a flea market where local vendors can sell their things and it brought hipster Williamsburg to mind. From jewelry to clothing to art, they had it all and the fact that we couldn’t buy any of it was very disappointing (they closed at 6PM while Shabbos was over closer to 8PM). The rest of the Waterfront had many restaurants, souvenir shops, a Ferris Wheel, a very large mall, boat rentals and so many more things.

Cape Town has so much to offer and so much to see, we definitely could have used at least 2 more days there since we didn’t get to cover much due to the weather and Shabbos. Will definitely be back.

We had a 9AM flight Sunday morning from CPT to JNB and so we turned in early to be ready for our 6AM wakeup call. Our breakfast was wrapped and ready to go (cold portion only) and we took it with us when we left to the airport.

Our agent had booked us on a BA flight in business since it wasn’t too much more than coach (coach was about $180 per person and business was about $310) and I needed the baggage allowance (2 bags, 50 lbs. each per person). This gave us access to BA’s Slow lounge in CPT and while I wasn’t expecting much I was pleasantly surprised. I forgot to get any pics but they had a full bar, a very large breakfast spread, many couches, free wifi and a punny bathroom sign with a view of the tarmac:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4347/35927938034_53dabe5482_c.jpg) 

I paid another ~$7 each to assign us the exit row in business class which was the first row.

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4332/36762469535_70c57d83af_c.jpg) 

The “business” class here was just all the middle seats being empty, although they did serve a meal. (Had ordered kosher but slept through meal service).
The view of Cape Town after we took off was incredible:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4398/36715275996_c00d619453_c.jpg) 

We had a FedAir flight booked at 1PM to Madikwe Game Reserve and a FedAir rep was there to meet us after baggage claim and then had a shuttle van take us to the FedAir Lounge. Since the planes flown to the game reserves are so small they do not allow any hard luggage and their guidelines state only duffel bags that are soft on all sides will be allowed -although several people did have wheeled duffel bags with hard bottoms that they didn’t raise an issue over. They have a storage facility in their lounge and as long as you have a return flight booked with them to Johannesburg they will store any luggage you don’t take to the reserves free of charge. Knowing this, before our Sunday morning flight we had re-packed all of our things we would need for safari into these duffels that I had bought on Amazon: (thanks @moish ) https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003KR1K40/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 and left our hard suitcases in storage.

The Lounge:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4346/36623155931_44700fd856_c.jpg)   

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4346/35927936264_7e0dbd0a8c_c.jpg)

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4403/36762468655_6804f2480f_c.jpg)


Being that all passengers were present and accounted for we boarded early, at about 12:40 and were ready for take-off by 12:45. I will preface this by saying I do not NOT have a fear of flying (except in F on EK :P) and was not thrilled to be flying in this tiny 8-seater flying bus.

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4349/36063121573_f065c5c941_c.jpg)

Snack bar on the plane:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4345/36592549132_7f37ab7897_c.jpg)

The flight was very very bumpy, and I hated every one of the 60 minutes we were in the air. I sort of felt like I was on a roller coaster without the safety straps and couldn't wait to land.

Part 3 coming up:
Etali Lodge in Madikwe

Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: Samkaker on August 28, 2017, 03:00:37 PM
great writing, tuning in for the best part!
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: damaxer91 on August 28, 2017, 03:18:31 PM
Nice TR!

Who was the tour operator that arranged the trip for you?

There seem to be several "Kosher Safari" operators.
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: dvol on August 28, 2017, 03:51:46 PM
Nice TR!

Who was the tour operator that arranged the trip for you?

There seem to be several "Kosher Safari" operators.

This was the one I used:
http://www.bestsafariafrica.com/

You can email info@bestsafariafrica.com
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: moisheyb on August 28, 2017, 07:04:33 PM
Wow nice job so far!!
What'd the trip cost if I may ask?
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: Joe4007 on August 28, 2017, 07:59:49 PM
Nice job!

I believe the mountain in the background is the Lion’s Head:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4351/36061987003_9095d7128e_c.jpg) 

That's part of Table Mountain. Lion's Head is on the opposite side.
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: dvol on August 29, 2017, 10:18:44 AM
Wow nice job so far!!
What'd the trip cost if I may ask?
You can PM for details.

But you tell them your budget and they will work with that.
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: sam28 on August 29, 2017, 09:43:09 PM
Nice TR so far keep it coming .
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: BrooklynCPA on August 30, 2017, 02:45:29 PM
Great TR!!! The Menorah setup is a riot!! :)
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: dvol on August 30, 2017, 03:57:45 PM
Part 3 (It's a long one)

Etali Lodge in Madikwe

Our little plane finally landed in Madikwe Game Reserve after an excruciating 60 minutes.

The “airport”

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4381/36592549382_1a0d5d29a9_c.jpg)
(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4442/36365726620_490e02aafa_c.jpg) 


There are about 30 lodges in the Madikwe Reserve, and we were the only ones on our flight going to Etali. All the lodges send a jeep to pick up their guests

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4347/36365760640_3bc3ffb08e_c.jpg) 

The drive to the lodge was about 20 minutes and our driver/ranger made a little detour so that we could get our first glimpse of one of the Big 5:

2 female lions resting in the shade

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4423/35953432023_07bcde874f_c.jpg) 

Arrival to Etali

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4435/36109684763_ec3b19b7cf_z.jpg)

After a nice welcome by the manager we were shown to our room. The lodge has a total of 8 “suites” and each one is separated from the other by paths and trees for complete privacy. They also have 1 family suite which is basically 2 back-to-back rooms with a shared deck. Each suite has a private game viewing deck, a splash pool and an outdoor shower.

We had Suite 8:
https://vimeo.com/231715618

The deck:
https://vimeo.com/231715666

View from the deck

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4384/35927907794_964e18d532_z.jpg)

Outdoor shower

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4425/35927911004_1433ae9092_z.jpg)

Since the afternoon game drive was going to leave pretty soon we dropped our things in the room and headed straight back to the dining area. Etali is one of the only lodges in Madikwe to have a watering hole directly in front. This means that during their winter when there’s very little rain and the animals are forced to come out and search for water, this is one of the places they will frequent. There is a perfect view of the watering hall from the dining area and we probably saw more animals here at this watering hole than we did on our game drives

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4359/36762466515_172af383f8_z.jpg) 

Etali has a kosher kitchen which is outside in the open so that you can watch the chef prepare everything if you choose. They do have a lot of kosher guests, as per the manager and she says everyone has different requirements. Some bring along their own mashgiach for the entire trip like a family they had recently. She told us that a different family she recalled brought along their “Rabbi” only for the first 2 days, just to make sure everything was as it should be. We were introduced to their chef who was assigned to cook only for us during our stay and she showed us around. They had separate kosher meat and dairy cutlery, plates, pots and pans and a kosher stove, oven, fridge/freezer, etc. They kept all the kosher food separately and she showed us the packaged kosher food (I believe it was brought in from Johannesburg) We were also called every time she needed to open the flame.

The kosher kitchen

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4423/35927934574_68abfc5b1c_z.jpg) 

Since we were rushing to get to our game drive, we had a simple lunch of Pasta Arrabiata

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4415/36623151761_5105b60e62_z.jpg) 

The same jeep that picked us up from our flight was going to take us on our game drives. Each jeep seats about 10 people and we shared our jeep with 3 different families during our stay. Each family/room is assigned a ranger for their entire stay and ours had an unpronounceable name and we were told to just call him Gert

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4415/36592551242_b9a36a06b5_z.jpg)


We saw jeeps from many other lodges on our game drives and while the others all had their driver/ranger serving as a tracker, ours was the only jeep we saw that had a separate driver AND a tracker.

The tracker’s seat:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4349/36592550992_d2edd4d4e1_z.jpg)

There are 2 game drives every day, once at 6:30AM and once at 3:30PM. Each one lasts about 3 hours, occasionally up to 4. The morning drives allow you to see sunrise and you can catch the incredible sunsets on the afternoon ones.

Sunset

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4388/35927918874_e05c8c728f_z.jpg)

Sunrise

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4394/36592553972_af963e3861_z.jpg) 


https://vimeo.com/231715822

While the weather is about 80 degrees during the day in sunlight, when you’re on a game drive and it’s dark out (before sunrise/after sunset) it is COLD. The jeeps have blankets, ponchos, and in the mornings they also have hot water bottles which work wonders

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4336/36365728140_bc3a25063b_z.jpg)

We had a total of 6 game drives and while most of them kept us on our toes with sightings, there were 1 or 2 drives where we saw almost nothing.
Oddly enough while the most common animals in Madikwe were the Impala, Springbok and Wildebeests, I don’t believe I have any photos of them. Following are pictures/videos from our drives in no particular order:

There are about 1400 elephants in Madikwe and we saw plenty

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4390/35927932004_fded23e839_z.jpg)

https://vimeo.com/231715720

Partaking in a mud bath

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4432/36365735040_ba78761eb1_z.jpg)


https://vimeo.com/231721618

A herd drinking at the lodge’s watering hole one night

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4355/35953431173_6ac28772aa_z.jpg)

Giraffes

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4353/36762462745_0369ba1b2a_z.jpg)

The rhino is endangered and according to Gert, at this rate within 5 years there will be no rhinos left. Even in Madikwe there are poachers and while there are many anti-poaching organizations they have not been successful in stopping them. The situation is dire enough that Madikwe will not allow their staff to post anything to social media about rhino sightings, and they will not report any sightings to their fellow rangers over the radio either in case the poachers are listening in. On our drives we did see quite a few rhinos, some black, some white but I really can’t recall which is which

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4432/35927930114_c765f36f52_z.jpg)

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4432/35927931554_19f4ca8195_z.jpg)


Magnificent leopard:

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4436/36592563392_635eb31fe3_z.jpg)

Zebras were also plentiful and we saw many of them come to drink at the watering hole:

https://vimeo.com/231739268

We saw a mixed group of zebra and wildebeest calmly grazing, when all of a sudden in unison they all started running. We turned around and there was a female lion chasing them. Spoiler: They all got away

https://vimeo.com/231715892

The dejected Lioness:

https://vimeo.com/231716120

Another lioness with her kill

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4397/36762464405_219b82c211_z.jpg)


While most animals completely disregarded us humans and gave us not the slightest bit of attention, we did have one incident. On our last game drive we finally got to see a male lion and after a few minutes we noticed a female lion nearby. Apparently so did the male lion since he started sidling up to her, but she was having none of it. At the end of this video you can see the female sitting underneath the tree:

https://vimeo.com/231722346

And the female walking off:

https://vimeo.com/231721845

At this point the male followed the female behind a group of trees and our jeep slowly followed. We got to the clearing and all of a sudden we heard roaring and the male lion started charging at us. Gert turned the jeep to face the lion and started screaming at it. Just like that the lion stopped, became quiet, turned and walked off. Keep in mind this entire thing lasted about 3 seconds so unfortunately we couldn’t capture the first part on video but I did manage to get the end of it. You can hear Gert still cursing at the lion and the lion walking off seemingly shamefaced:

https://vimeo.com/231723297

There were many more animals that we saw that I didn’t capture with my phone, but one of the animals we didn’t see at all on our game drives was the baboon since they tend to stick to the mountains. However we were lucky enough to see them at our watering hole on our last day:

https://vimeo.com/231723429

Each game drive gave us about a 30 minute break where we could stretch our legs and get some refreshments. On the morning drives we were served hot drinks (coffee/tea/hot chocolate) and pastries.

Kosher pastries

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4421/35953430403_9ca63872e2_z.jpg)

Rice cakes

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4398/36365728730_eeedce7340_z.jpg)

In the afternoon there were sodas, waters chips and jerky

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4441/35953432133_61687dc9ac_z.jpg)


Our “table”

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4428/36365728410_5b5d7aac2a_z.jpg)

After the morning game drives we were served breakfast

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4356/35927927144_a4e0c35e39_z.jpg)

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4344/36365737850_2da03898e4_z.jpg)

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4440/36592559752_5d7984d4b6_z.jpg) 

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4405/36365737740_880bda8458_z.jpg)


Various lunches served before the afternoon game drives

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4348/35953428943_dd85d6c4bf_z.jpg)

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4391/36365751880_d7819ac211_z.jpg)

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4367/36365735980_223f6f64c8_z.jpg)

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4442/36365735300_e75e81068c_z.jpg) 


And dinners were served upon our return from the afternoon game drives

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4370/35953425083_f24f8fdde5_z.jpg) 

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4391/36365743930_ed285733e9_z.jpg)

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4441/36365741750_71125003da_z.jpg)

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4429/36365741580_7f310ee075_z.jpg)

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4355/35927913354_72c68695a9_z.jpg)


2 of the nights we were there they had BBQ for dinner and they had a separate kosher grill for us and grilled all of our food next to our table.
BBQ Area

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4364/35927929824_0ed3a802eb_z.jpg)

The kosher salads at the BBQ (sorry the lighting was horrible)

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4423/35927929704_371c2532aa_z.jpg)

Lamb and steak

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4431/35927929504_3064d4944d_z.jpg)

Sausages

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4370/35927929044_0641d38fa8_z.jpg)

At every BBQ the entire staff came together and sang this song which was very charming

https://vimeo.com/231754159

While you are free to walk around the entire lodge on your own during the day, you do need an armed escort once the sun goes down “just in case”. While they do have a wire fence surrounding the property they’re not taking any chances

https://vimeo.com/231724302

There’s also a nice spa on site which I made use of one day, as well as an outdoor gym that I was GOING to use (not pictured)

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4348/35927923894_1fa7f4ab8c_z.jpg)

While there are no TVs in the room, there is one in the main lobby but we barely used it. Getting up at 6AM every morning and being out on game drives 6-8 hours a day can be really exhausting and we turned in every night right after dinner.

Our flight back to Johannesburg was scheduled for Wednesday at 2:30PM so we were still able to catch the morning game drive and have lunch before we left. It was so incredibly windy that day that our plane arrived about 30 minutes late because it had to keep circling before it could land. You can hear the wind:

https://vimeo.com/231723505

I was far from happy to be back on that little torture chamber and it didn’t help that we had to make a stop at the other airstrip in Madikwe to pick up more passengers before continuing on to Johannesburg. Madikwe is 750 kilometer and so they have more than 1 “airport”. You can see here how bumpy the flight was

https://vimeo.com/231723564

It also didn’t help that the “low fuel” warning kept going off about 10 minutes before landing. Finally, we made it back to Johannesburg.

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4410/35927900154_82650f5c0d_z.jpg)

We retrieved our suitcases from FedAir storage and they shuttled us back to the terminal. Our flight to Dubai was scheduled to depart at 10:20PM and we arrived to the Emirates counter at about 5PM. At first the agent said there is no way they can check our luggage in yet, only 3 hours before our flight. However, after we started asking her about the storage facility at the airport our agent had told us about she relented and told us that she would take our luggage even though she wasn’t supposed to. By that point we had decided to book a hotel in Dubai which we hadn’t originally planned on and so we were in a bit of a jam. Being that we would have a hotel we were able to take a suitcase with us in Dubai with changes of clothing, extra sneakers, etc., but we didn’t want to take our huge suitcases with us then have to re-check it in Dubai. So we found a store in the airport that sold duffel bags and quickly repacked the few things we would need for Dubai and then checked in our suitcases all the way to JFK.

At this point it was almost 6PM and we grabbed an Uber to go get some food. Reviews and reports I had read recommended the Open Flame restaurant, so that’s where we headed. The owner was there and was quite the character, entertaining us with his stories of working as a bodyguard and discussing the state of South African politics and economy. The food was plentiful and once again, our US dollar got us very far:

(Lighting was pretty awful as we were seated outside)
Soup

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4404/35927899784_4e480f51df_z.jpg)

Chicken spring rolls

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4351/36365724610_3db0452550_z.jpg)

Steak

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4336/36592547462_0a4e40cfb3_z.jpg)

The most amazing rack of ribs

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4414/36592547192_fc9ef30227_z.jpg)

We had quite a few more items, plus drinks and a beer, and our total after tip came to $55.
Since our return was booked as a revenue ticket, I had booked the Emirates chauffeur to pick us up from the Open Flame

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4376/35927898264_5a1f670b65_z.jpg)

We got back to the airport and went to the Emirates lounge. It was a pretty decent lounge but we were so exhausted by then I forgot to take any pictures. We showered in the lounge (the one picture I did get) and could barely wait to board and go to sleep.

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4349/35927898034_58a9f9fe55_z.jpg)

The aircraft to Dubai was also a 777 but a newer version, with the same updated touch screen TVs and remotes as the A380, with mood lighting, but still the same small bathrooms. The cabin was full and so we had our seats turned into beds as soon as we took off and both passed out.

Coming up next: Dubai



Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: Dawie on August 30, 2017, 05:33:30 PM

While the weather is about 80 degrees during the day in sunlight, when you’re on a game drive and it’s dark out (before sunrise/after sunset) it is COLD. The jeeps have blankets, ponchos, and in the mornings they also have hot water bottles which work wonders


Cold it is, after all it is winter....
Last game drive we did, DD (was 2+yrs old) asked if we can please close the windows.... (it was an open Jeep)

Love the Biltong and Boerwors pics!
thnax for sharing
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: Denverite on August 30, 2017, 05:59:08 PM
Looks amazing, thanks for sharing!
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: good sam on August 30, 2017, 11:34:14 PM
I'm sure this is a stupid question but why don't the animals have any interest in humans?
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: moish on August 31, 2017, 05:18:45 AM
Nice TR and thanks for the shout out. You also absolved me of writing a Serengeti TR  :)
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: stbaum on August 31, 2017, 08:22:01 AM
I'm sure this is a stupid question but why don't the animals have any interest in humans?
Humans aren't allowed to walk around the reserve on their own. They're in a big truck. The animals see this huge beast going by. They don't care to start up with that.
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: dvol on August 31, 2017, 02:02:15 PM
Cold it is, after all it is winter....
Last game drive we did, DD (was 2+yrs old) asked if we can please close the windows.... (it was an open Jeep)

Love the Biltong and Boerwors pics!
thnax for sharing

If only our winter had 80 degree days!
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: dvol on August 31, 2017, 02:04:39 PM
Nice TR and thanks for the shout out. You also absolved me of writing a Serengeti TR  :)
Thanks for the rec, it was very convenient to be able to fold the duffel into my suitcase until I needed it. It was too big for us and on our way back from the reserve we actually combined all our things into just 1 duffel.

Have you done a safari in SA? How does it compare to the Serengeti?
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: aygart on August 31, 2017, 05:13:23 PM
Beautiful TR! It is amazing that they have a separate kosher kitchen there! How do you ensure that the pots and dishes are only used for kosher and not "borrowed" when no kosher user is around?
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: dvol on August 31, 2017, 07:25:47 PM
Beautiful TR! It is amazing that they have a separate kosher kitchen there! How do you ensure that the pots and dishes are only used for kosher and not "borrowed" when no kosher user is around?

You cant. That's why they offer to provide a mashgiach (at additional cost of course) who I assume you can request to re-kasher
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: Yammer on August 31, 2017, 08:34:01 PM
Very nice TR.
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: aygart on September 01, 2017, 09:53:23 AM
You cant. That's why they offer to provide a mashgiach (at additional cost of course) who I assume you can request to re-kasher
The dishes look like they can't be kashered. There are definitely ways to work around it such as sealing the cabinets properly between Jewish visitors and while out on the reserve. If they cook while you are out then you are relying on the word of the cooks.
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: zow on September 03, 2017, 11:23:56 PM
Thank you for an outstanding trip report.  I'm tuning in especially for Dubai, as I'm taking my 14-year-old daughter there in November on the AC glitch. Look forward to seeing all that you did.
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: PBaruch on September 05, 2017, 06:14:48 PM
Nice TR.  I checked out the link to the kosher safari company you used and surprisingly there are some really affordable options.
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: dvol on September 05, 2017, 08:00:44 PM
Nice TR.  I checked out the link to the kosher safari company you used and surprisingly there are some really affordable options.

Most people seem to think a trip to South Africa isn't do-able because of the expense but it's so not the case. They can customize a trip to almost any budget (within reason of course). The only deterrent for many US based people is the long travel time. But if you can work around that, it's a great vacation option.
Title: Re: Dvol's South Africa / Dubai TR
Post by: Dawie on September 06, 2017, 10:07:35 AM
Most people seem to think a trip to South Africa isn't do-able because of the expense but it's so not the case. They can customize a trip to almost any budget (within reason of course). The only deterrent for many US based people is the long travel time. But if you can work around that, it's a great vacation option.
+1000000000