Safari in Kruger National Park

This was our second visit to South Africa and this time we safaried in Kruger National Park.
Ivory Lodge bathroom

Ivory Lodge bathroom

The Ivory Lodge in Lion Sands Private Game Reserve in Sabi Sands was the most luxurious hotel Irene and I ever stayed at. Just look at the bathroom! Two game drives each day. The first early AM, right after sun up. Juice, coffee, and rolls were delivered to our room before the drive. We travelled in Range Rovers, open top with 3 rows of seats, each row higher than othe other for perfect viewing. We stopped along the drive for coffee and snacks. Full breakfast is served after the drive. The second drive is right before sundown and returns after dark. Many animals are nocturnal and hunt at that time. There are spotlights on the Range Rover but the trackers are careful not to point the light towards the nocturnal animals to avoid temporarily blinding them.
Hyenas and their kill

Hyenas and their kill

We were incredibly lucky on our first drive. We saw a python wrapped around an impala. Two hyenas arrived and chased the python and had the prey for themselves. We saw all the "big five"–lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and cape buffalos. But it's all much more than that. The beauty of the countryside, the starkness of the hills, the trees, the anthills, the birds, and the most beautiful starry sky you can imagine. The guides, trackers, rangers and lodge staff were all terrific. We spent a final day in Johannesburg. While areas are not particularly safe, we found the comfort and experience of touring with a guide fascinating. Read about the history of South Africa before you go. A biography of Nelson Mandelas is a good choice. The Apartheid Museum shouldn't be missed. They have two entrances, one for whites and one for "colored" and blacks, to immerse you from the very beginning in what apartheid is all about.

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Cape Town and Environs

South Africa, Cape Town. This is one of the most exciting cities in the world. The setting itself, with Table Mountain as a backdrop and surrounded by the sea, is gorgeous. We loved Table Bay Hotel on the Victoria & Albert Waterfront. Our trip arranged by the excellent tour operator, Big Five, couldn't have been done any better. Magnificent stuff to see outside of Cape Town. Definitely see Kirstenbosch Gardens. The loved the drive to Cape Point through beautiful residential areas and then along the coast. Cape Point is where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. Great hiking, penguins, and fabulous flowers.
Cable Car to Table Mountain

Cable Car to Table Mountain

I recommend the aerial cable ride to the top of Table Mountain. You have to be lucky with the weather as Table Mountain can fog in and high winds cancel the ride altogether. It's interesting how the cable car rotates 360º so you don't have to move around in the car to get all the views. We spent a day in the wine country. Lovely wineries and hotels. If you go, visit the towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. We did not get to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, but I've been told it's very worthwhile.

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The Riches of Dubai

With all the hype, I don't think I would go out of my way to visit Dubai though if it were the starting or ending point of a cruise, I would certainly plan a 2-day visit, but no more. Dubai is part of the United Arab Emirates but has no oil.
Gold in store windows

Gold in store windows

The big attraction is shopping. "Old Dubai" is very interesting—a small ferry took us there. Gold is the big draw and shop windows are literally dripping with gold displays. Dubai's architecture is very exciting and includes the tallest building in the world with a revolving restaurant on top. Talk about excess! Dubai has the only indoor ski slope in the world. Certainly worth a look! We did a half-day excursion in the desert in a 4-wheel drive vehicle. Up and down sand dunes. Fun for about two minutes and then you can get motion-sick.
Aerial view Dubai

Aerial view of Dubai

What I did find very worthwhile was the seaplane ride we took to get a bird's eye view of Dubai. Palm Island, the man-made archipelago, is fascinating from the air. It's incredible the way it lays out like a piece of art. The most expensive hotel in the world, the Burj Al Arab, is worth a visit. Fabulous restaurants and prices to match.

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