Spotlight on Jaffrey Chamber's Trip to Africa
by Max Mitchell
This year’s Chamber Travel program brought us to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
We flew from Boston to Dubai where some of us spent three nights experiencing the Middle Eastern countries’ world- renowned architecture, fashion, and cuisine and learning about their rich cultural history. We even had the chance to ride a camel and take an exciting Land Rover ride across the desert sand dunes.
Then, it was off to South Africa. After a nine-hour flight, we landed at the Cape Town International Airport. Cape Town has a population of about six hundred thousand people. It has the charm of a small coastal village with the cosmopolitan style of a big city. We had a chance to explore to the waterfront about two blocks from our hotel. There was a great variety of shops and restaurants as well as performers playing live music in the streets.
Our second day there, we took a cable car to the top of Table Mountain, one of the most prominent natural land features in Cape Town. From there, at an altitude of fifteen hundred meters, we had a breathtaking view of the city below, including Robben Island in Table Bay where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years imprisoned. In the afternoon, we explored the downtown and, that evening, we dined at the Gold Restaurant where we experienced a traditional African Handwashing Ceremony, enjoyed an audience-participation drum performance, and indulged in delicious African cuisine.
The following day, we were off to the Cape of Good Hope, the southernmost point on the African continent, and even got to see some African Penguins! That evening, we were guests at a home-hosted dinner and had the opportunity to learn about the lives of a family who lived in the region.
Then we were off to Stellenbosch, the wine region of South Africa. The landscape is defined by gently rolling hills of vineyards with majestic mountain ranges as the backdrop. We stopped at a local winery for a tasting before continuing on to the charming town of Stellenbosch. Within walking distance of our hotel were a variety of stores, restaurants, and landmarks including a lovely botanical garden displaying the King Protea, South Africa’s National Flower.
The next day, we took a short bus trip over to the coastal town of Hermanus. Hermanus is known for watching the Southern Right Whales that congregate in the bay. You can dine by the water and watch the whales breaching in the bay.
Then we were off to the Entabeni Conservancy, outside of Johannesburg. It was a two-hour flight to Johannesburg and an hour-and-a-half bus ride to the Limpopo Provence and the entrance to the Conservancy. Land Vehicles then transported us the Hanglip Mountain Lodge, situated in the heart of the reserve, that was to be our home for the next three days. From there, we embarked on four game drives, two in the early morning and two at dusk. Along our drives, we saw a vast array of wildlife including elephants, wildebeests, hippos, rhinos, giraffes, warthogs, and the majestic African lion. Our final night at the Hanglip concluded with a fireside barbeque in their outdoor boma.
The following morning, we embarked on a final early morning game drive before breakfast before our bus took us back to Sandton, Johannesburg where we spent the night before continuing our adventure to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Victoria Falls, discovered by the British explorer, David Livingstone in 1855, is one of the longest and tallest waterfalls in the world. You can see the falls from many different vantage points along a path that follow the falls and a portion of the Zambezi river that feeds it.
That evening, we enjoyed a three-hour River Cruise along the Zambezi where we spotted a variety of the local wildlife, including hippos, cape buffalo, impalas, water bucks, and even a herd of elephants with a newly born baby.
The next morning, we visited the Wild Horizons Elephant Sanctuary where we got a chance to interact with the elephants and even feed them. The mission of the Sanctuary is to care for orphaned elephants who sometimes are released back into the wild. In the evening, we enjoyed a delicious dinner at the Boma restaurant located at our hotel. The Boma specializes in a local game meat barbeque and features live entertainment. You can even try the Mopane Worm if you are feeling extra adventurous.
Our final destination was the Chobe Marina Lodge in neighboring Botswana. The evening we arrived, we enjoyed a riverboat cruise along the Chobe River where we saw more local wildlife and witnessed a spectacular African sunset. The next morning, we took another early game drive in nearby Chobe National Park. We spotted more African elephants, cape buffalo, hippos, monkeys, eagles, kudu, and even a family of lions. That evening, we were given the option of taking another river cruise or a final game drive. Most of the group opted for the game drive. Unfortunately, the leopards eluded us… the last of the Big 5 that we had waited to see on our trip.
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