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June 18, 2012

Safari in South Africa - Adventures by Disney Wrap Up

Guest Blogger Coleen Bolton concludes her Adventures by Disney trip to South Africa.

After spending about two weeks with the same people it was very hard to say goodbye, especially to our wonderful guides Craig and Chris.

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Adventures by Disney surpassed all of my expectations and I know that is largely due to the guides. Every day they were there sharing their passion and excitement for where our adventure was taking us. They did an amazing job of keeping us all together and on schedule which couldn’t have been easy with 40 guests and an adventure that included a few trips through different airports.

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They were always on top of everything and making adjustments as needed to be sure we all had a stress-free adventure and that we didn’t miss anything.

If there was something you wanted to do during the free time they were right there to help you make it happen.

They also always seemed to have that one thing you might have forgotten such as sunblock, band aids, or hand sanitizer. As a mom who is used to always having to be the one that remembers everything it was really nice to realize I didn’t have to do that on this trip. The best part was that I didn’t have to plan where we would go each day and I didn’t have make sure we got there on time. I was able to just sit back and have the guides tell me where to be and all I had to do was show up.

There were a few kids on our Adventure and even though our schedule was very busy with some long days all the kids seemed to do really well. The youngest was 9 and I would say that is probably the youngest I would suggest for this adventure.

Disney of course does have special name for the kids, they are Junior Adventurers. There were some special things on the Adventure that were just for the Junior Adventurers and even though some of us adults really wanted to join the Juniors we couldn’t. I think it is great that Disney has some things on each adventure that gives the kids a chance to be on their own.

I do think this Adventure did a great job of showing us multiple sides of South Africa. I went into this Adventure thinking Africa was just safaris and savannas. It was amazing to see there is so much more than I pictured. We got to see so much, yet I never felt like we were doing too much or were being rushed.

Africa was a place on my bucket list that I never really thought I would get to see and I thank Disney for making that dream a reality. I had thought that going to Africa would be a one-time thing, but I really fell in love with South Africa and am already thinking about going back.

This was my first Adventures by Disney and I am sure it won’t be my last. Cruising used to be my favorite way to travel, but Adventures by Disney easily took that top spot.

If you have looked at the prices for an Adventure you might think they are expensive but I can say from experience they are worth every penny! If you were to price a cruise for the same length of time and then add in the cost for all the excursions you would need to do to even come close to all the things you get to do on an Adventure by Disney I think you would see that an Adventure is a great deal.

You might ask what makes Adventures by Disney different than some other land tour company and that is easy to answer -- it’s the Disney Difference. First off I think most people would agree that when you are doing something with the Disney name you are pretty sure you are going to get quality. For me I also feel safer doing something that Disney is part of. Going off to a foreign country like Africa isn’t something I would have done without a feeling that I would be safe throughout my entire trip.

Then of course there are the little things, like we never waited in line to do things and most times what we got to do was exclusive to Adventures by Disney. We would hear people comment as we walked by following the Adventures by Disney sign and even if we couldn’t understand the language they were speaking it was clear they were thinking, "Wow, how did they get to do that?"

A big Disney difference were the wonderful people that Disney found to be part of our Adventure -- those that shared their knowledge, passion, and their personal stories at the different places we visited. These people enhanced our adventure and made it even more memorable.

Again I also have to mention our guides, as I cannot imagine any other tour company having guides that are as good as Disney's. Every day they were sure to tell us one thing and I have to say it right back: “we love you guys too!”

Thank you again to Craig, Chris, Janco, Alphie, Prince, and all the other wonderful people who made my Adventure unforgettable!

Now to think about which Adventure should I take next?

June 17, 2012

Safari in South Africa - Adventures by Disney Part 5

Guest Blogger Coleen Bolton continues with her Adventures by Disney trip to South Africa.

Day 9

Today started with tea and our morning game drive. It was a little chilly this morning so we didn’t see as many animals as the day before. Our ranger and tracker tried really hard to find us a rhino, but no luck. It was still an amazing drive.

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It was clear we were the first truck to go down certain paths, since we were riding through the large webs that went from one side of the path to the other. It was a bit scary but our ranger and tracker took good care of us and swept the webs away as best possible.

We headed back for breakfast and then it was time for the one thing on the adventure I really wasn’t looking forward to -- the reptile and bug demonstration. I have to admit I am glad I went. The speaker was very passionate about snakes. He made me realize that snakes are not as scary as I used to think. Snakes really don’t want to bite people -- it's people that cause the snakes to bite.

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After that it was about time for lunch and then I was headed to the spa. I had a wonderful hot stone massage, which was nice to have at just about the end of the trip.The wellness center at Kampana is beautiful with its own private pool just for adults.

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I went from my spa appointment to afternoon tea and then back out for another game drive. We were still searching for that rhino with no luck. We did see a lot of other animals though, including some that we hadn’t seen yet, like the wildebeest.

Sadly, after the game drive it was time for our farewell dinner. It was an amazing dinner with some great music and dance. The night ended with a Power Point show of some of the photos taken during the adventure.

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Since the trip isn’t exactly over yet it wasn’t too sad. We still have one more game drive in the morning followed by breakfast and sort of mini game drive back to the airport. We are all flying to Johannesburg so we will officially say goodbye to everyone then.

Day 10 & 11

Our last morning’s game drive was a success -- we finally found a rhino! Not just one but two, just hanging out as we drove past and put on the brakes to back up and get a good look. It was bittersweet since we also knew this was the last time we would be driving the trails of Kapama.

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The game drives were the Africa I had pictured when I thought of going to Africa and they even surpassed my expectations. It was just so amazing to be driving around and be a part of the animal’s world. It was sad to hear how people poach the rhinos, and some even found a way onto the preserve and killed one. They only want the horn so these poor animals die for no good reason. I hope that they can put a stop to the poaching so we don’t lose these magnificent animals for good.

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After our game drive it was time to have breakfast and pack up. We headed back to the airport, which is sort of a mini game drive. We had a giraffe say good-bye to us as we left which was very cool.

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Due to flight issues some of us needed to add an extra day in Johannesburg. This is not normally part of the Adventure but Disney found us a great hotel to spend the night at and tomorrow we will do a short city tour before heading to the airport for our 16-hour flight back to New York and reality. Sala Kahle (pronounced say-lah kaw-lee), which means good-bye or go well.

June 16, 2012

Safari in South Africa - Adventures by Disney Part 4

Guest Blogger Coleen Bolton continues with her Adventures by Disney trip to South Africa.

Day 8

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Today’s theme was the Big Five and our morning game drive started off with the king of the 5 walking right out in front of our truck. It was a male about 3 years old according to our ranger, Janco. He walked right up to our truck and right past us like he couldn't care less that we were there. It was so amazing!

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After watching him for a bit we were off to see what else we could find and we even luckier to find a couple lionesses and their cubs hiding out. They were not easy to see since they are very good at hiding but our ranger did a super job of getting us pretty close.

After the lions we ran into a pretty big herd of elephants. There were elephants of all sizes even a very small baby that our ranger said looked to be about a week old. It pretty much stayed under its mom so it was hard to get a good look. While we were watching one elephant eat some leaves he decided that the leaves were too high so he started to knock the tree down and it was coming right at our truck! Good thing our ranger has quick reflexes and started the truck up and backed us out pretty quick.

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By this point I think we were all just in awe and it was not even 7 am yet! We had now seen 3 of the big 5 -- Lion, Elephant, and Buffalo. We are still hoping to catch site of a rhino and leopard. Some of the other trucks said they saw rhino but so far no one has seen a leopard.

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After the morning game drive we returned to the lodge for breakfast -- it was hard to believe it was only breakfast time. After breakfast we had a wonderful demonstration by Trompie. He showed us archery and blow darts. I was picked to be his example and he said no matter what he could teach anyone to hit the target with less than five attempts. I didn’t believe he could teach me to do that. He was an excellent teacher because I was able to hit the yellow bull's-eye on my second try! Archery is something I always wanted to try so it was so cool to be able to get to do that. There was also a beading demonstration by Motsatsi and we could all make a beaded necklace or bracelet. I never knew how big beading was in Africa.

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We had lunch and some time to relax before our evening game drive. We were lucky again tonight and found two sleepy cheetahs!


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This was perfect since the junior adventures were watching Disney’s African Cats after dinner.


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The evening game drives are a lot of fun even if we don’t see anything. Before it got dark our ranger drove us over to the river area and showed us all the damage done by the recent flooding. It was scary to see how much damage rain could do.

Today’s word of the day is Boma, which most Disney World people have heard before -- but did you know that it comes from Swahili and means an enclosure normally used for livestock? Kind of funny that we know it as a place to eat. That doesn’t only apply to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, because here at the Kampana River Lodge we dined in the Rhino Boma tonight. It was another wonderful meal complete with bonfire. After dinner I snuck down into the snake pit with the junior adventures to watch the movie. It was a fun way to end another great day!

June 15, 2012

Safari in South Africa - Adventures by Disney Part 3

Guest Blogger Coleen Bolton continues with her Adventures by Disney trip to South Africa.

Day 6

Today was totally bakgat (pronounced buck-ghut) that means cool or awesome in Afrikaans. We started with a ferry ride across the Knsyna Lagoon to Featherbed Nature Reserve. We rode Unimogs up to the top of the cliff and then hiked back down, stopping for some more breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean!

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Then it was finally time to meet one of the big 5. We not only got to see elephants, we got to feed them and then walk in a field with them and touch them.

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It really was just amazing to be walking around freely with these big animals. We then walked just a few steps to enjoy a wonderful dinner.

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Tomorrow morning we say good bye to Knysna and head to the big finale -- Kapama Game Reserve. The game drive begins the moment we drive out of the airport. I cannot wait to see what animals we will catch a glimpse of!

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Day 7

Masambene! (that means let’s move) It’s time for Safari! This morning we were up bright and early to say good bye to Knysna and head back to the George airport to fly to Kapama Game reserve.

When we arrived it finally felt like we were in the Africa I had pictured. The airport was pretty much a runway and a small building. We walked out the back door to find our wheels for the next few days waiting for us. These open air jeeps would be what we will be riding in for the next few mornings and evenings as we search for all the animals we can find.

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The ride from the airport into the game reserve and up to the lodge was almost like a mini safari. Within seconds we made our first sighting and it was a kudu. Our excitement got the best of us and we did let a couple squeals which scared it off pretty quick. We did learn that from here on out we need to keep quiet so as not to frighten the animals.

We arrived at the River Lodge, fueled up with some lunch, and then found our rooms. After a quick cool down it was time to head out for our first real safari. It was almost sunset so the heat from earlier had subsided and ride was very comfortable.

We were able to spot quite a few animals and some even got very close to our jeep. We saw giraffes, zebras, buffaloes, hippos, warthogs, hornbills and a few I already forgot. I have taken a picture of each animal we find, but I guess I better start writing these down as we see them tomorrow. After a few hours of the game drive we found ourselves pulling up to a nice bonfire where tables were all set up to have dinner right there out on the game preserve!

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Dinner was a braai (pronounced bry), which is Afrikaans for barbecue. It was amazing to be eating out on the preserve and looking up to see all the stars. Of course, a dinner by a bonfire would not be complete without s'mores!

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June 14, 2012

Safari in South Africa - Adventures by Disney Part 2

Guest Blogger Coleen Bolton continues with her Adventures by Disney trip to South Africa.

Day 4

Today started off with a drive to Stellenbosch, which is South Africa’s second oldest city and also known as the wine capital. It is a very cute town with lots of Cape Dutch cottages. First we had a hands on cooking class and made Koeksister (pronounced cook-sister), and that was also our word of the day. A Koeksister is a pastry sort of like a doughnut dipped in syrup. We then got to work off our Koeksister with a bike ride to our lunch location.

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Our lunch was at Moyo in the Spier Wine Estate, a fun place where we almost felt like we were eating in a treehouse.

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After lunch there were two choices -- wine tasting or an eagle encounter. I am not big on wine so I chose the eagles and I am glad I did. It was a nice presentation where we had a couple owls land on us and got up close with a couple vultures.

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Compared to yesterday today was relaxing, but unfortunately we will be saying good bye to Cape Town bright and early tomorrow morning. We are headed to the airport at 5:30 am to make our way to Knysna (pronounced nize-nuh). Adventures by Disney is the only tour that flies to Knysna, others go by motorcoach and waste a whole day driving.

Day 5

Cape Town was a beautiful city and I am so glad I had the opportunity to visit it and soak up some of the culture. Today starts our visit to the Garden Route. This was like going out to the country compared to Cape Town. It was a quick flight away but it would have been an all day drive so I don’t mind that we had to be up so early if it meant not spending a whole day on a bus.

When I used to picture Africa in my head I thought of the flat savannas and so far we haven’t gotten to that part. Instead we have seen the vibrant waterfront and city of Cape Town which was bordered with rocky looking mountains. Now we are out in garden country where there are green covered mountains everywhere. Today we went a little bananas at Monkeyland and then watched the birds soar at the world’s largest free flight sanctuary.

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After some lunch out in a vineyard we headed to our new home for 2 nights -- the Pezula resort. All I can say is – OH MY GUIDES! This resort is just A-Mazing! We don’t just have rooms we have suites that even have a fireplace. This resort also has its own small castle that we were able to tour. We are only half way through our Adventure and I am already totally spoiled! I know that I will never be able to travel any other way than Adventures by Disney!

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June 13, 2012

Safari in South Africa - Adventures by Disney Part 1

Guest Blogger Coleen Bolton, shares her South African Adventure by Disney. Coleen is a travel agent with MEI and Mouse Fan Travel. Coleen has been helping clients plan memorable vacations since 2001. This was her first Adventures by Disney vacation, but certainly won’t be her last.

I would guess that everyone has a travel bucket list. That place or maybe places you just really want to be able to visit one day. It’s most likely somewhere far away and might be a rather expensive trip. You might save and plan for it for many years.

When you are finally able to cross that place off your bucket list you want to be sure you do it right and don’t miss anything while you are there. This can be a bit overwhelming but that’s where a packaged tour comes in handy. If you ask me, no one makes travel dreams come true better than Disney, and that doesn’t just apply to visiting a Disney Theme Park or sailing on one of their cruise ships anymore.

Disney has something called Adventures by Disney. If you haven’t heard of this yet they are packaged land tours to different places all over the world. They include amazing accommodations, most of your meals, sightseeing, and the best part -- your Adventure Guides.

The guides are knowledgeable about the area you are visiting and they take care of making your Adventure totally unforgettable. You won’t have to worry about missing any “must see things” at your destination because your Adventure will surely include it and you also get some free time to be able to do even more. As you would expect Disney thinks of every detail to make your adventure as magical as possible. They even have some separate activities set up just for kids on the adventures.

I am so excited to say that I took an Adventure by Disney to South Africa! This was like a dream come true for me.The Lion King is one of my favorite movies and I can’t imagine going on a real safari in Africa any other way than with Disney.


Day 1

Our Adventure beings with a 16-hour flight from New York to Johannesburg. When we arrive in Johannesburg we will change planes for a short flight over to Cape Town. It will be a lot of travel time plus South Africa is 7 hours ahead of New York so it will feel like more than 24 hours of travel time by the time we get to our first resort. A Disney rep will be waiting for us in Johannesburg to make sure we make it to the gate for our flight to Cape Town. I am thinking after 16 hours on a plane having someone make sure we make it to the gate will be much needed. When we arrive in Cape Town one of our Adventure guides will meet us and take us to the first resort. I am sure we will all need to catch up on some sleep before the fun begins the next morning.

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Day 2

After a good night’s sleep it was time for the real Adventure to begin. We started with a group breakfast where everyone introduced themselves.

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Then we were supposed to be heading up to the top of Table Mountain but due to fog we have to postpone that. I love that the guides have the flexibility to make changes and do their best to be sure we get to do everything possible.

We instead went to the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. This fit very well with today’s word of the day, Fynbos, which means type of botanical region or floral kingdom where the vegetation is distinct to the area. We had an amazing guide, Andrew, who was not only very knowledgeable but also very funny.

After the garden we went to the District 6 Museum. We had two wonderful speakers who told us about their personal experience with Apartheid. It was very sad to hear how the homes they had lived in all their lives we demolished and they were forced to move just because of the color of their skin.

We had a group lunch followed by some shopping in Greenmarket Square. Then we had some free time before meeting up again for an entertaining dinner at the Castle of Good Hope, which is the oldest building in South Africa. We are hoping to be able to squeeze in Table Mountain tomorrow if the weather cooperates.


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Day 3

Today our guides tried to prepare us for what we would see by giving us a new meaning for OMG – “Oh My Guide!” They were right, we spent the day repeating that phrase over and over. First thing we noticed is the clouds were gone and we could see Table Mountain from the resort. That meant we were making a bee line right to the mountain to make up for missing it yesterday.

Table Mountain South Africa

Table Mountain South Africa

We rode an aerial cableway up to the top for some spectacular views of Cape Town’s waterfront.

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After that it was back to the bus to head to Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town to see something that I didn’t realize lived in Africa -- penguins. The sand was so white it almost looked like snow and the penguins were enjoying soaking up the sun.

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We had worked up an appetite just in time for a group lunch on the waterfront. Then it was off to the Cape of Good Hope. I thought this was where the Atlantic meets the Indian Ocean but that is not quite correct. The two currents meet here but the spot where the ocean meet is Cape Agulhas, which is about 90 miles south of the Cape of Good Hope.

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We also rode a funicular up to Cape Point for even more breathtaking views. Our day wasn’t over yet, we still had a special dinner at the Gold of Africa Museum. This was a traditional African feast which also includes a drum lesson before dinner.

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Stay tuned -- there is more to come.

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About Safari in South Africa

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to All Ears® Guest Blog in the Safari in South Africa category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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