Review by: Patrick Haverty

Overall Impressions

Overall, this trip exceeded our expectations and has enabled us to create some of the greatest memories of our lives! We hiked, explored, swam with Great Whites, took a helicopter tour, saw the big 5, and met some incredible people from around the world! Perhaps the best part of traveling with Mahlatini was the way people treated you. We felt like rock stars from the minute we arrived in South Africa until we touched back down in SFO. After seeing our photos, all of our friends want to plan a trip to South Africa!

Countries Visited

South Africa

South Africa offered a very diverse experience. From an active urban city life to the beautiful wine country to seeing the big 5 in Kruger National Park, South Africa is one of our new favorite countries and we will surely return.

Mauritius

Mauritius was a beautiful remote island. Timing is everything and it was very rainy while we were there. It seems November and July are the best months to visit. We really enjoyed big game fishing and swimming with dolphins. In the future, we will likely visit South Africa for the entire trip or maybe try the Seychelles.

Accommodation Visited

The Clarendon Bantry Bay

The Clarendon was the first hotel we stayed in and it was fantastic! The service was incredible and the staff was personable. For example, Larry not only greeted us by name each morning, he also remembered our breakfast orders. We enjoyed the strategic location up on the hills. It was easy to take an uber downtown or to Bantry Bay for dinner and it was also a short ride to Lion Head and Table Mountain. I spent most mornings waking up early and running down Queens street to run the coast (finding such an ideal place to exercise was a pleasant surprise)

Leeu Estates

Leeu Estates was truly a 5 star experience from start to finish. Of the exciting itinerary, I was least excited about the wine country. Being from California, we have Napa in our back yard so I didn't expect Franschhoek to offer much more. The property was stunning, I felt like this must be heaven on earth! The service was world class and our dinner reservations were made for us as last minute upon arrival. We had a fantastic private wine tour with Joshua who went above and beyond to make sure our experience was memorable. We had the opportunity to meet the owner, BAS, and his wife and kids. They learned we were on our honey moon and upon returning to our hotel room after dinner at EPIC, we came home to two of their finest bottles of wine on the bed. Additionally, there was a LEUU Collection Art & Landscape book with a handwritten note from BAS himself! We only spent two nights here, but I would recommend 3, maybe 4 nights to anyone planning to visit.

Ngala Safari Lodge

This place was awesome! We really didn't know what to expect when we arrived, but we were impressed with the people, the lodge, and the overall experience. We had stayed in some nice places and ate at some incredible restaurants in Cape Town, so our standards were high. While the food and rooms were good, maybe B+, the people earned Ngala Safari Lodge a 5 star rating, specifically our Ranger, Fred, and spotter, Wiseman. Fred was our favorite person we met during our 2 weeks in South Africa. He was knowledgeable, talented, and a phenomenal conversationalist. My wife and I were with a family of four ( 2 kids in high school) for the majority of our stay. Fred not only listened and answered everyone's questions, he asked questions about everyone, and he made everyone feel important. I would hire Fred to work in Hi-Tech Sales in Silicon Valley, but we know his heart is in the bush. It is rewarding to watch people excel where they belong. When we return we anticipate Fred will be in charge of the Lodge! Wiseman was gifted. He was able to spot a chameleon at night from the jeep with his flash light. He heard lions roaring from miles away. He could walk alone in the bush and climb trees. He was a bad ass and everyone felt safe with Wiseman around. On the last day, after seeing 4/5 big 5, Fred and Wiseman were determined to find the African Buffalo. As the sun was setting, we made our way through the thick bush and were able to spot the Buffalo in time. We also really enjoyed the schedule of getting up early, taking the long rides and coming back for meals and down time. This will certainly not be our last safari!

Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita

Surprisingly, we were underwhelmed by the Four Seasons Resort. To be clear, this is a much more a testament to how above and beyond we felt the other accommodations were. The Four Seasons was a larger resort with less of a personal touch. -The room itself was fantastic with its private beach, pool, and outdoor shower. -When we returned from big game fishing the Chef took our Mahi Mahi and cooked up the most incredible meal. -Nicolas Vienne, Director of Food and Beverage, took the time to introduce himself and was very accommodating, helping us flag down the launch to get to the private island. -The Four Seasons also had the best couples Spa experience on our trip. - The only negative was on the last day when we needed to get to the lobby, we called twice for a buggy, but one never arrived. So I had to carry our 50 kilos of luggage to the valet, but these things happen. All in all it was a nice experience, but we felt we could have stayed longer in Franschhoek and the Safari instead of spending the time and money to fly to Mauritius- hence the 4 stars.

Staff Review

Bjorn was outstanding! We really enjoyed working with Bjorn from start to finish. He did an excellent job understanding what we were looking for, putting together and walking us through an incredible itinerary, and being available even when we were on our trip to confirm details. We would work with Bjorn again and would happily recommend him to friends and family.