February 23

Brian and Maggie’s Escapade of Experiences Across Four African Countries

February 23, 2024

In a land where each sunrise heralds new adventures, and every sunset whispers a world of possibilities, Brian and Maggie set out on a journey through four African countries. This expedition, expertly curated by their Rhino Africa travel consultant, Janine Gous, was a series of carefully selected experiences, each one building on the last, culminating in an unforgettable climax.

Brian and Maggie on top of Table Mountain in Cape Town

Brian and Maggie enjoying the summit of Table Mountain, Image Credit: Brian Jones

1. South Africa – Soweto Strolls and Time Travel

Their African saga began in JohannesburgSouth Africa, where culture and history collided on a tour through the streets of Soweto Township and within the walls of the Apartheid Museum.

The intrigue of the past paved the way for the wonders ahead – provoking the question: “What other secrets did Africa have in store?” With every need seamlessly catered for, their anticipation for the unexpected grew.

Arte urbano en Soweto

Uncover South Africa’s history, culture and spirit by visiting the booming Soweto township, Image Credit: Nowart Rabier

2. Zimbabwe – Victoria Falls Batonka Bliss

As dawn broke, Brian and Maggie jetted off to Zimbabwe to get but a taste of the wild and wonderful world of natural splendours of Africa. Here, they would stay at Batonka Guest Lodge, a tranquil haven away from the bustle of town but just a stone’s throw away from the main attraction and UNESCO World Heritage Site, the mighty Victoria Falls.

Batonka Guest Lodge pool area with property in the background

Batonka evokes the calm, laid-back lifestyle of a bygone era, Image Credit: Batonka Guest Lodge

The couple's eyes sparkled with excitement as they soared above the breathtaking expanse of Victoria Falls. Their helicopter ride offered a remarkable perspective, unveiling the falls' grandeur from the skies. But this thrilling aerial view was just the beginning…

"We started our stay in Vic Falls with a quick heli flight over the falls. What an incredible sight, a must for any trip to the falls." – Brian.
Aerial view of the vast curtain of water of Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls presents a powerful display of the raw majesty of the Zambezi River, Image Credit: Brian Jones

A Feast for the Eyes

The following morning, they embarked on a journey by foot, venturing into the heart of a lush rainforest. Here, they drew closer to the falls, feeling its mist gently kiss their faces. The path wound through vibrant greenery, each step bringing them nearer to the thundering cascade.

View of the falls from the rainforest

Feel the spray of the Falls on a guided walking tour through the beautiful rainforest

Lunchtime found them at the bustling Lookout Café, an eatery perched to overlook panoramic views. As they indulged in a sumptuous meal, their gaze was drawn to the brave souls leaping into the gorge, their figures silhouetted against the vast chasm as they took on bungee and canyon swings.

Gorge views from café terrace

The best restaurant views in Victoria Falls, Image Credit: The Lookout Café

Gin, Tonics, and Twilight

Their day of wonders was far from over. As the sun began its descent, painting the sky in hues of orange and pink, they boarded a small, intimate boat for a sunset cruise. This vessel, reminiscent of the original river boats, offered a cosy and personal experience.

"Our sunset cruise on a smaller boat allowed us to get in closer to the hippos instead of the larger tour boats – a great way to see the Zambezi River!" – Maggie.
Zambezi sunset river cruise

A Zambezi cruise is a superb way to relax and enjoy the spectacular beauty of the river, Image Credit: Brian Jones

While Brian and Maggie sipped on refreshing gin and tonics, their guide navigated the waters of the Zambezi River, drawing closer to the basking hippos than the larger tour boats could ever venture. This cruise along the river's gentle currents was a serene counterpoint to the day's earlier exhilarations. Could anything surpass the grandeur of Victoria Falls?

The Zambezi River’s peaceful shores attract a host of wildlife

The Zambezi River’s peaceful shores attract a host of wildlife

3. Namibia – A Wild Welcome

The next chapter of their journey unfolded in Namibia's Chobe Savanna Lodge. Departing Zimbabwe, their path wound through Botswana by road and river, leading them to an unexpected waterborne safari. The Chobe River was a corridor of wildlife where they marvelled at impalas, monkeys, hippos, and crocodiles.

"During our transfer from Botswana into Namibia, we were looked after all the way through the border crossings by our guides." – Brian.
Monkeys drinking on the banks of the Chobe River

Close-up wildlife encounters along the river’s edge, Image Credit: Brian Jones

But the most magical moment was the welcoming committee of elephants before even reaching the lodge, a dream come true for Maggie. Their adventure had already been brimming with enchanting experiences, leaving them to wonder what marvels the lodge itself would hold.

Elephants crossing the Chobe River

The Chobe River is renowned for attracting a steady flow of elephants, Image Credit: Chobe Savanna Lodge

Parade of Pachyderms and More

Settled on the northern banks of the Chobe River, deep in the Caprivi Strip, Chobe Savanna Lodge peered out over the floodplains of the Chobe National Park's Puku Flats. Here, at sunrise and sunset, a bevy of beasts comes to drink just a short boat ride from the lodge. 

Elephants drinking along the Chobe River

This is big-game country, where large herds of elephants and buffalo make their way to the river to drink, Image Credit: Brian Jones

The river offered Brian and Maggie an exceptional safari opportunity, allowing them to indulge in their fascination with elephants from a uniquely intimate vantage point. Their experience was enriched by sightings of herds of giraffes, zebras, and, as ever, the omnipresent pods of hippos and crocodile floats.

"We wanted to see the elephants, and using the river for the safari allowed us to get closer than we had ever hoped for." – Maggie.
Herd of giraffes spotted on land from the Chobe River

The region is home to a variety of species, big, small and tall, Image Credit: Brian Jones

4. Botswana – Delta Dreams

Their journey took a thrilling turn as Brian and Maggie boarded the light aircraft destined for Camp Xakanaxa's private airstrip, marking the beginning of a new chapter in their wilderness adventure. The allure of the Okavango Delta – a labyrinth of lagoons, channels, and islands – could not be resisted.

View of Camp Xakanaxa and river

Enjoy a year-round Moremi Game Reserve land and water safari experience, Image Credit: Camp Xakanaxa

Nestled on the edge of the Xakanaxa Lagoon and the Khwai River, within the embrace of Moremi Game Reserve, Camp Xakanaxa (pronounced "ka-kan-a-ka"), stood as a gateway to a world where land and water met, offering a unique safari experience combining aquatic journeys and land explorations.

"We thought our thatched chalets in Chobe were good (and they were!), but the canvas tents at Xakanaxa were next level." – Maggie.
Fire-deck extends over the Khwai River and creates an enchanting environment

Main areas extend over the Khwai River and are set on raised platforms to maximise views, Image Credit: Camp Xakanaxa

A Boat, Birdsong, and Hippo's Greeting

Their first evening unfolded gracefully with a sunset boat ride along the serene delta waterways. As the sun dipped below the horizon, they were enchanted by the mirror-like reflections on the water and the symphony of birdlife.

Lilac-breasted roller

The Delta presents spectacular birdwatching opportunities, Image Credit: Brian Jones

An unexpected introduction with Oscar, the camp’s resident hippo, added a touch of whimsy to their stroll back to the tent, escorted safely by their guide through the twilight.

Sunset boat ride

Xakanaxa’s guides are expertly trained, highly knowledgeable and always eager to impart their knowledge, Image Credit: Brian Jones

Roars at Dawn

The next morning, their game drive was a heart-racing encounter with the rawness of nature. A mere five metres away, a pride of lions feasted on a giraffe, their roars vibrating through the air, calling to their kin.

Lion and lioness enjoying a giraffe feast

Lion family feasting on their kill, Image Credit: Brian Jones

This remarkable sight, coupled with the imposing presence of a 200-strong herd of Cape buffalo, captivated Brian and Maggie. The lions, satiated and uninterested in a buffalo breakfast, offered a rare moment of peaceful coexistence in the wild.

Image Credit: Brian Jones

Maggie and Brian enjoying a bush coffee with their Guide, Harry, Image Credit: Brian Jones

A Thrilling Turn

Their return to camp was interrupted by an exciting detour. Harry, their seasoned guide, had received word of a leopard sighting nearby. As they navigated the gravel roads, an elephant, guardian of its berry tree, mock-charged their vehicle in a display of wild defiance. It was a heart-pounding reminder of their place in this untamed world.

Elephant close up

Don't come between an elephant and its berry tree

The Lion's Goodbye

Their departure was as dramatic as their stay. En route to the airstrip, three young male lions asserted their dominance, reminding them that in the African wilderness, animals reign supreme. With two lions passing within metres of their vehicle, Brian and Maggie's safari in Botswana concluded with an everlasting memory.

three male lions walking in a row

Never forget, in the wild, lions have the right of way

Cape Town – From Peak to Port

Their journey came full circle with a return flight to South Africa, ready to explore the colourful metropolis of Cape Town. Villa Zest Boutique Hotel would be their stylish home for the following three days.

From the awe-inspiring Table Mountain and bustling V&A Waterfront to the serene Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens were among the daily discoveries. But how would this urban exploration compare to the final leg of their journey?

"Lunch and a walk around V&A waterfront is a must, and the African Trading Port with wooden sculptures shouldn't be missed!" – Brian.
V&A Waterfront with Table Mountain in the background

With Table Mountain as your backdrop, the V&A Waterfront pulses with energy, Image Credit: Brian Jones

The Greater Kruger – Land of the Big 5

In the vast expanses of the Kruger National Park, the captivating Chitwa Chitwa Game Lodge stood as the high point of their African expedition. The densely vegetated Sabi Sand Game Reserve was markedly different from their previous experiences.

"It just kept getting better, Chitwa Chitwa was the next level, absolutely fantastic!" – Brian.
Private pool deck of suite at Chitwa Chitwa

Chitwa Chitwa is your luxury escape surrounded by nature, Image Credit: Chitwa Chitwa Game Lodge

Their first safari drive in this new setting was a spectacle of wildlife, with the sighting of rhinos and leopards completing their Big 5 checklist. The reserve buzzed with diverse wildlife like elephants, lions, kudus, zebras, the ubiquitous impalas, and hyenas, including a playful baby hyena.

Hyena pup

Enjoy spell-binding sightings of our abundant wildlife on game drives, Image Credit: Brian Jones

Leopard Spotting

The thick brush of this terrain presented a challenging task for tracking, but the expertise of their guide, Daniel, and tracker, Beth, shone through, revealing the hidden wonders of this wild land. This area, particularly favourable for leopards, offered them repeated sightings of these majestic big cats.

"This was the place for leopards  again and again, we saw them on multiple drives." – Maggie.

Sabi Sand Game Reserve has carved out legendary status amid 160,000 acres of leopard-rich land

Moonlit Mischief

As the evening unfolded, the walks back to their lodging transformed into thrilling encounters, not with hippos as before, but with prowling hyenas active around the lodge. The wild was at their doorstep, yet the reassuring presence of their guides ensured safe passage in the dark.

Chitwa Chitwa main deck at night

With your own private deck, you can view animals from the comfort of your room, Image Credit: Chitwa Chitwa Game Lodge

Clash of the Canids

Their guide, Daniel, inquiring about their specific interests, heard their eagerness to see African wild dogs, known for their scarcity. Setting expectations, he mentioned their rare sightings. However, the next morning, in a stroke of luck amidst the early mist, they encountered a pack of wild dogs, an experience that left them astounded.

African Wild Dog

As one of the world's most endangered mammals, the African wild dog is a sight to see, Image Credit: Brian Jones

Their tracker, Beth, with his deep knowledge of the land, led a thrilling chase through the bush. The journey was no longer a gentle drive but an exhilarating pursuit, culminating in a dramatic scene.

A pack of hyenas, cunning and opportunistic, had trailed the wild dogs, hoping to usurp their kill. Suddenly, they found themselves amidst a fierce clash between the wild dogs and hyenas. The wild dogs, with their remarkable agility and speed, soon sent the hyenas fleeing.

African Wild Dogs chasing a hyena

A lone hyena is no match against a pack of wild dogs, Image Credit: Brian Jones

Precision Meets Passion

Reflecting on their journey, the meticulous planning of their Travel Expert, Janine, became evident. Each destination had elegantly built upon the last, leading to a series of climactic experiences. Their African journey, packed with suspense, beauty, and unexpected delights, was a narrative they would cherish for years.

"When we look back at our adventure, it seems that Janine chose accommodation and experiences in a very specific way... and built up to the best for last! It was the perfect order. We were so impressed with everything." – Brian.
Brian and Maggie taking a group photo with Daniel and Beth

Maggie and Brian with Tracker, Beth (left), and Guide, Daniel (right), having another drink stop in the bush, Image Credit: Brian Jones

"The excitement and joy that we both felt throughout this whole trip is undeniable!
We can't thank you enough for this once-in-a-lifetime dream come true! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!" – Maggie.

Your Invitation to Adventure

Are you excited to delve into the wonders of Africa, to embark on a journey filled with discovery and awe?

Allow us at Rhino Africa, alongside our Travel Experts like Janine, to craft your own journey into the thrilling unknown, where every turn is a captivating new chapter in your African adventure.

Featured Image: Brian Jones

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Tags

Janine Gous, Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Victoria Falls


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About the author 

Michelle Welvering

Growing up, Michelle always wanted to become a world-renowned artist, a kickboxing-champion and an eccentric explorer – aka a Kickboxing Exploring Artist! After pursuing an education in Fine Arts and opening her own Kickboxing gym in Pretoria, an unexpected twist led her to a six-year stint as a travel consultant in South African tourism. She believes that all things happen for a reason and, driven by adventure, she was eager to find a more “wild” and cultural space to call home. This led her to wander the Western Cape coastline, fall in love with the city of Cape Town and, of course, her workplace, Rhino Africa.

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