This summer we got to experience the incredible opportunity of going on a Micato African Safari Tour. It has been at the top of my travel bucket list for a while and it was even better than I imagined – if it’s not on your list yet, it needs to be! Our safari experience not only showed us the incredible African wildlife, but also the local lifestyle and some amazing people.
We started our journey by flying into Johannesburg, South Africa. From there we went straight to our hotel for the night – InterContinental Johannesburg O.R Tambo Airport Hotel beautifully decorated with subtle African influences from culture to environment. It also has an incredible panoramic view of the Johannesburg skyline. I enjoyed the views of Johannesburg from their gym and indoor pool.
Day 2 – Day 5:
For the next couple of days we stayed at the Cheetah Plains Game Reserve – with it’s up-close and immersive wildlife of lions, leopards, elephants and so much more. We were located in the Sabi Sand Nature Reserve right in the heart of the African plains. Not only the animals but wild plants and beautiful sunrises/sunsets.
Our lodge was just as incredible as it’s natural surroundings, with a private deck that brings the indoor/outdoor setting. One of my favorite spots was the outdoor dining area, having the opportunity to eat within the bushveld (and of course the gym!)
We normally started our day with hot tea, coffee, and and an early game drive at 6:00am. Around 9:30am, we’d return for breakfast, gym time, and some r&r before a light lunch and the evening game drive. Getting to see how the animals behave at night was an exhilarating scene. We encountered crocodiles, lions hunting a herd of Cape Buffalo, and much more. Tracking the Kings of the Jungle has definitely ranked in my top 10 exhilarating life experiences – the lions used our vehicle as cover for their charge, we were so close it was unbelievable!
Day 6 – Day 8:
From here we flew to Livingstone, Zambia and stayed at the luxurious Royal Livingstone Hotel. This hotel has more of a colonial-style look compared to the reserve, with a richer look into South African history. I was still greeted with wildlife every morning, this time by zebras who wander around the property. The hotel is located along the banks of the Zambezi River and only a short walk from the beautiful Victoria Falls. When the Zambezi River isn’t at high season, you can swim right on the edge of life or death. It’s one of the most awesome and terrifying things I’ve ever seen. It truly feels like another world.
Seeing the sunset over the Victoria Falls was another bucket list item I could cross off! We watched from the Royal Livingstone Express, a luxury train journey with beautiful, rare sights and a 5-course meal. Although the views are impressive, the steam-train itself was a picture perfect moment. On the journey to the Victoria Falls Bridge we were on the Bushtracks siding, seeing more elephants on our journey. Compared to on the way back, going through the township and onto the Palm Grove Siding. It was so magical!
Later in the week we went to The Elephant Café, where we ate on a riverside deck surrounded by the beautiful elephant sanctuary. Having the opportunity to interact with them was beyond a dream come true for me and Ava. They say Elephants never forget, but I’ll never forget that experience!
We also got the chance to visit locals in the Simoonga Village. This is where I met the most bright and beautiful little girl, Virginia as well as many others. From the moment we met we were stuck together. Although I’ve visited orphanages before, I’m still astounded by the spirit and resilience of the people who live in circumstances like these. It was heart-breaking having to leave the village and Virginia. Visit Simoonga Orphanage Home Livingstone to learn more about how you can make a difference.
We made our way back to Johannesburg from Zambia and then connected through Atlanta to Dallas. It was about a day and a half of travel back home. I’m so grateful and my soul is so full after experiencing the magic of Africa. The light of the people there and the majesty of the animals is special. I’ll always cherish this trip and the time with my family.