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Adventure Holiday to Zimbabwe, Botswana & South Africa

Tracy Rosenthal-Newsom, 6th April 2024
Overall Rating:

Truly a trip of a lifetime! Wow! Mahlatini’s exquisite design of our ideas for a vacation was beyond anything imaginable! A dream we had had for decades was to travel to Southern Africa, to meet the big cats and elephants on safari, to see the wonder and awe of Victoria Falls, and to live among African wildlife and ecosystems so foreign to us. Their itinerary was perfect for us. Each safari lodge (Muchenje & Sungulwane) was staffed with experienced, attentive and engaging personnel, where we got to know the people as well as view so much wildlife. The 13 game drives across 2 countries (Botswana and South Africa) were incredibly thrilling and intimate, all at the same time. The big cats (lions and cheetahs) really showed up for us over and over again. The herds of elephants and buffalo, the crash of rhinos, the towers of giraffes, the bloat of hippos, each drive filled with awe and gratitude to be so near. To see so many mama and babies along the way warmed our hearts as we fell more in love with Southern Africa each day. We loved witnessing the wildlife in the very different environments of the open plains of the Chobe River and the dense vegetation of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Ending the trip at Isibindi’s Thonga Beach eco-lodge on a remote gorgeous north-eastern coastline of South Africa was the perfect place to slow down and finally relax. Wowzer! Our memories imprinted deep in our hearts to witness such beauty in wildlife, environments, and people in each country we visited. Thank you Mahlatini! Your service and attention were extraordinary.

Tracey Rosenthal

Accommodation Visited

InterContinental Johannesburg O.R. Tambo Airport

“Such a lovely hotel right at the airport. Fantastic food and a beautifully comfortable bedroom. The perfect choice for an overnight between flights after that long transatlantic one.”

Batonka Guest Lodge

“Such a beautiful setting, with a lovely room with a comfy bed, and meals served on a gorgeous patio. The service was top-notch. They accommodated my food preferences with ease and offered consistently delicious food. Good quiet location away from the buzz of town, but close enough for a short drive to the wonderous Victoria Falls and the Zambezi River activities. And the rainbow found us at Victoria Falls…foreshadowing the treasures that lay ahead for us on our vacation. The falls are beyond any waterfall you’ve ever seen... massive and broad and so much spray! The hippos in the Zambezi River at sunset were also a real treat!”

Muchenje Safari Lodge

“More than 5 stars for our experiences at Muchenje. The warm familial community the staff creates for their guests is unique and appreciated. Family-style meals provided the guests and staff time together to share stories of their experiences on safari drives as well as learn about each other. We loved the friendly people of Botswana who staff Muchenje and a big shout out to our fantastic guide, GB. Our dreams were filled by the lionesses! One morning from our vehicle, we sat next to a pride of lionesses with their playful cubs. In the afternoon, from the boat on the river’s edge, we witnessed a kill - from chill to stalking to capture to their impala lunch. It was an amazing and rare sighting to see the strategy, intelligence and teamwork of 3 bad-ass lionesses show us why they are at the apex of the food chain. I gained so much respect for them. This was a story told many times at the lodge, and I imagine we will be telling this story for years.

Other special moments included a two-day-old elephant learning to walk with its big herd, a herd of 300 Cape Buffalo with their babies surrounding our vehicle, an elder giraffe drinking from a watering hole in its amazing yoga position, so many zebras, baboons, impala, kudus, hippos, a crocodile, and the male 'Lion King'.

From our lovely cottage room with a view of the river & plains to the delicious food, the warm community of staff and guests, a great pairing of safari mates, and the best safari guide. We loved every minute on safari and at the lodge at Muchenje on the Chobe River.”

The Capital Pearls

“The most amazing breakfast "buffet" ever!”

Sungulwane Private Game Lodge

“Sungulwane was absolutely incredible! We give them more than 5 stars too! 8 safari drives that blew our minds, all happening at a time of year it can be quite challenging to find the animals in the deep vegetation unless they are right on the road. Yet we experienced so many astonishing sightings, one drive after another in this gorgeous landscape! A big lion pride with so many scenes happening at once- the mama and her four cubs playing in the road, 2 big male brothers eating their kill, one lioness distracting a male from her teenage female - all in close proximity. The evening of the 3 stalking cheetah brothers just before sunset riding along their journey towards the wildebeest. And it was so fun to see them again on our last morning, just chilling in the road. What a goodbye! A newborn hippo and her mama. A crash of white rhinos crossing the road in front of us, so many giraffes, zebras, nyala, impala, and so much more! What a fantastic guide, Calvin was!

The lodge staff were amazing too. So attentive to us, making delicious food, accommodating my food preferences, and always there to receive us with warm towels and a drink at the end of a drive. We had the best view of all the cottages (#8) of the gorgeous green mountains! The common lodge area is beautifully designed, with elegance and peacefulness all around you. Each night we dined at another gorgeous spot on the property - around a fire under the stars, by the inside fireplace and more. What an incredible story, the creation of the Zuka game reserve that Sungulwane is a part of… such gratitude for those with a vision to rewild the land and give space and safety to populations of threatened African wildlife to grow their populations. It was a dream to visit this special part of the world.”

Thonga Beach Lodge

“Thonga Beach Lodge sits in such an exquisite location. A gorgeous and thoughtful design of this eco-lodge is tucked into the coastal forest atop the dunes along a pristine wilderness beach. Wow! What a journey to get there, and yet so worth it to arrive at "the edge of the earth". We had the best room with not only a stunning Indian Ocean view but also a big private deck on the side with a plunge pool and an additional view of the ocean! Beyond beautiful! A perfect spot to rest and chill after 8 days of safari drives across two countries. I don’t think my level of excitement waned, nor my nervous system could rest until we arrived at Thonga Beach. The food was fantastic and superabundant. We enjoyed our sundowner excursion to Lake Sibaya which also included learning about the local rural village and Isibindi’s commitment to employing the local people, supporting the local primary school, and doing environmental and wildlife conservation work. It was an honor to participate in this philanthropic travel by contributing to the community-minded conservation mission behind Isibindi’s eco-lodges. My favorite moments each day were sipping my coffee on our private deck at sunrise and watching the sun emerge from the Indian Ocean. A perfect ending to a dream vacation across Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa.”

Staff Review

“Michelle is a superstar, an expert in luxury travel in Africa, with a keen ability to interpret her client’s vision into a dream trip of a lifetime! We had a single conversation when I asked questions and communicated my ideas to travel to a part of the world we had never been to, on a type of adventure we had never experienced. Her very first draft itinerary revealed how much she got me immediately! I felt such confidence that the details and design that she put together would more than meet our dreams. It’s quite extraordinary to have felt so much awe and gratitude every single day of our vacation designed by her. The choices were perfect for us. She absolutely nailed it! And on top of that… Mahlatini’s service was beyond 5 stars when our transatlantic flight to South Africa was canceled in the middle of the night after we had sat on the runway for 4 hours in Atlanta. Natasha, on emergency duty, received my call in the middle of the night, and moved our entire itinerary 2 days later within a few hours! I was stunned by the level of service and magic that intervened and kept our dream moving forward. While in Africa, when there was a small travel hiccup, Mahlatini was available to quickly assist and keep our dream on track. I would highly recommend Michelle, Natasha and the Mahlatini company to anyone who wants to travel to Africa. They are the best service and design company for your travel dreams to come true!”

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