The trip was fantastic - once-in-a-lifetime for us. We sincerely enjoyed 99% of our time in southern Africa and almost certainly will go back to visit again. The properties were fantastic and the planning was superb. As a US citizen, driving on the other side of the road was quite an adventure and we accidentally drove into some (seemingly) sketchy areas, but that was as much as our fault as anyone else's.
South Africa was magnificent. The landscapes and experiences were one-of-a-kind and the ability to view so many magical animals in the wild up close was surreal. If I had to focus on any negatives, I would say the poverty that is so visible in many areas was the only drawback. It barely affected our trip, though, and we overall had an amazing time. Again, we accidentally drove into some rough areas - and it spooked my fiance briefly - but the meals and service at our lodging was impeccable.
It was nothing short of amazing. We felt extremely safe and created some wonderful memories while there. The island was beautiful, the people were super friendly and grateful and the wildlife in the water was brilliant to see. I would gladly go back... and I hope that one day we will.
It got the job done. It was obviously the least nice accommodation we stayed in during our trip, but given how tired we were after the flight, it really hit the spot. We simply went down to the bar and had a quick bite to eat and some drinks - a perfect end to a long travel day. I think it would be possible to fly again directly to Cape Town if you really wanted to squeeze as much in as possible, but then that would complicate renting a car late at night once you get to CPT. If you didn't have a rental car, perhaps that's an option, but I'm not really sure how safe rides from the CPT airport might be late at night.
Amazing. The staff were super accommodating (especially of our gluten allergy). They put us up in the honeymoon suite and helped us plan each day to make sure we were able to see all the sights we wanted to get to. We ate dinner here one night as well and it was delicious!
Top notch. The staff were amazing and took great care of us - from tips and advice on where to go, and feeding us delicious food whenever we wanted it. In fact, we "stayed in" one night and they prepared us a fantastic meal with great wine.
What an incredible experience on safari?! We loved every minute. We especially loved being near the watering hole so we could see all the animals coming up close. They set up a private dinner for us on our porch - it was lovely!
The only bump was their water pump going out so we had to transfer to a different lodge our last night (River Lodge). They felt terrible though and really made an incredible effort to make up for it - via a private game ride & 5 star resort upgrade. Besides missing an afternoon nap, due to the transfer, and having to leave the people/staff that we had gotten close with, we were totally understanding of the situation.
What an incredible place! Those sunsets?! I have no words for just how beautiful the sunsets were. We were really spoiled the entire time - the staff were so friendly and accommodating. They really made you feel like you were their special guests the entire time you're there - all the way up to the boat departure where they provided us with goodbye drinks and island music/dancing.
The only negative feedback we could possibly give would be around the bar menu. They ran out of bourbon and cider (tough when you have a gluten allergy and have limited drink options) while we were there and they only served limes in their liquor drinks, which we thought was a bit odd. But we just embraced it!
Stuart was a great educator and sounding board for our different ideas during the planning process. At the outset of our planning, I spoke with numerous agents/guides at various agencies and after a couple of email exchanges and a phone conversation with Stuart, I knew we were in good hands. I loved the fact that Stuart OR someone else at Mahlatini locally had stayed in each of the accommodations - this gave us great comfort and sure enough, the different hotels/resorts/B&B's were fantastic. I did not really deal much with anyone else at Mahlatini - other than a few brief conversations - but when I did speak with anyone, they were always very kind and courteous. The trip was amazing and I wish we could go back tomorrow - thanks very much again for all of your assistance, Stuart!