Manager of our Ipswich travel agents, Nicola Atkinson, experienced an amazing safari with Somak Holidays. Here are her views on some of the different accommodation options as well as a few recommendations for things to do.
Destination: South Africa
Operator/Host: Somak Holidays
Airline: South African Airways
(Hotel names/Ship name): Emperors Palace, Hippo Hollow, Makalali Private Game Reserve, Becks Safari Lodge and Indaba Hotel & Garden Court Johannesburg
Duration: 6 Nights
Whilst the legroom on board the South African Airways flight was not great, we did have seat-back TVs and the entertainment service was OK. The crew and food were very pleasant.When we changed planes for our internal flight, we had much more room and even got a meal and glass of wine. It was only an hour, too.
The Emperors Palace Hotel was located near Johannesburg airport and is perfect for anyone staying one night whilst waiting to go on Safari. Inside the hotel is like a property in Las Vegas – there are plenty of restaurants, cinemas and casinos to keep you busy. It also means you don’t have to leave the site.
Hippo Hollow is a lovely Hotel found close to Phabeni Gate, at the entrance to Kruger National Park. It’s good if you haven’t got the budget to stay at the Private Game Reserves – I would definitely upgrade to one of the cottages overlooking you lake if you can, though. Game Drives have to be pre-booked.
The Makalali Private Game Reserve is amazing. The traditional lodges are fantastic; detached with private balcony's overlooking the game reserve. If you are lucky, you can see animals from your room. It’s full-board accommodation with two game drives included every day – one at 5.30am and one at 4pm. At night, you need to be escorted back to your room if you’re staying in the lodges due to the roaming animals.
Becks Safari Lodge is another amazing accommodation option. These are new, luxury lodges at Karonge Game Reserve on a full-board basis. As with Makalali, game drives at 5:30am and 4pm are included and you need to be escorted back to your room during the hours of dark.
Both options are fantastic and offer sightings of the Big Five; choose Makalali for traditional lodges and Becks for something a bit more luxurious.
The Garden Court Sandton Johannesburg is a three-star hotel that was slightly basic but clean and in a safe location opposite Nelson Mandela Square and shopping centre.
What Was Included?
Soweto Tour –This was a really interesting tour around the Soweto area of Johannesburg,allowing us to see the how the different people in Johannesburg live. We also went to a local town for lunch.
Panorama Route– We drove from Johannesburg to Hazy view on a spectacular nine-hour journey. We stopped at some beautiful sights on the way.
Game Drive in Kruger – This was a fantastic game drive that included a picnic breakfast.
Makalali Game Reserve – We enjoyed two off-road game drives with a stop for gin or hot chocolate in the mornings. I would always recommend private game reserves, as you can get closer to the animals.
Karongwe Game Reserve – This was the same as the Makalali experience and was equally amazing.
Tour Lilliesleaf – This is the farm that Nelson Mandela was working on when he was arrested.
My highlight has to be the amazing experience seeing the animals in their natural habitat and getting so close to them. I loved the safaris at the Private Game Reserves.
I would definitely recommend that you go on a Safari. It’s an amazing experience!
Must see? As much as possible
Must do? Safari in Private Game Reserves
Must try? Local food and wine
If you would like to plan your own safari holiday, we can put everything together for you. Call us or drop by one of our East Anglian travel agents or one of the stores along the South Coast for more information.