Review by: Michelle Lee and Garrett Rich

Overall Impressions

This was the best vacation we've been on! Thank you for making this a seamless process for us. We really needed a partner to take care of trip planning, itinerary, and bookings given how busy we were during wedding planning, and we're really glad we chose Mahlatini!

Countries Visited

South Africa

We ate some of our best meals in Cape Town & enjoyed the jaw-dropping scenic views atop Table Mountain and around the Atlantic Coast. We were lucky to get one day of sunshine, especially during their winter months. One learning we had was that Cape Town isn't the best walking city, especially in the evening. We didn't realize that it wasn't safe to walk around neighborhoods in the evenings, so had to rely heavily on our rental car & Ubers. Note: the rental car itself came with GPS, so we didn't need a separate GPS as part of the rental package.

Zimbabwe

The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge & waterfalls were beautiful. Looking back, I think 2 nights would've been sufficient & it would've been nice to have this leg of the trip be after Cape Town / before Thornybush, given that our safari was such a highlight. One thing we didn't realize prior to the trip was the level of local instability due to the government. We learned from Zimbabwe locals after we arrived about how dire the situation has gotten (17hr power cuts in Harare, day-long lines for petrol/bread/etc, mandatory switch from USD to local Zimbabwe currency just two weeks prior to our arrival). This didn't impact us in Victoria Falls given how touristy it is, but if anything, we really should have brought more USD cash in smaller denominations (needed more $1, $5 notes for tips & smaller purchases). We ended up running low on cash by the end of our trip, and with no working ATMs and a cash shortage, this could've been problematic if we were to stay one more day.

Accommodation Visited

Cloud 9 Boutique Hotel and Spa

While we did enjoy our stay at Cloud 9, there were a few things that could have been improved. The location itself felt safe during the day, but in the evenings, there were beggars directly outside the door on the streets, and we were followed by one woman during our walk back from dinner a block away.

Waterside Lodge

Waterside Lodge was without a doubt the best hotel experience we've ever had. Our stay went above and beyond our expectations. The safaris were well-guided, and we loved the exclusiveness of exploring a private reserve. It felt like we had the whole place to ourselves to explore. The service, food, and facilities were phenomenal. They fed us delicious food all day, left bedtime stories during turn-down service, and on our last night, surprised us with a bubble bath in our room & a candle-lit private dining experience in the library. The only thing that was not ideal was that our airport transfer was unusually early. It picked us up at 6:30am for an 11:30am flight out of Kruger Airport. The airport transfer took < 2 hours, so we had 2+ extra hours at the airport with not much to do. It would've been great to depart a few hours later, so we could have a morning safari drive that day.

Victoria Falls Safari Club

We're really happy with our decision to upgrade to the Safari Club. We loved the views from our room & the common areas -- it was like living in a treehouse! Our favorite aspects of the stay were the complimentary breakfast & sundowners from the beautiful deck and free laundry service.

Staff Review

Stuart was very responsive throughout this entire process. He went out of his way to answer the questions we had during pre-trip planning, and overall, gave us the confidence we needed to hand-off the honeymoon planning process.