Author: Barbara Helveston
Date of Trip: June 2014
My then 4-year-old had always loved hearing about her grandfather’s safari adventures, and finally convinced him he needed to take her along on one! After lots of research and planning was complete, and we boarded an Emirates flight to spend a few days in Dubai as a stopover before beginning our nearly 3 weeks on the African continent. Our daughter is an excellent traveller, so we weren’t deterred by the 17 hour Houston to Dubai jaunt. We began the fun with a city tour followed by an exquisite lunch at the Burj Al Arab and included a dune-bashing, camel-riding, belly dancing excursion into the desert.
After a couple of days, we boarded an 8-hour flight to Johannesburg, a quick overnight and a short flight to Victoria Falls where we promptly fell in love with everything Africa. We stayed at the Zambezi River Lodge…a lodge hotel with all the amenities situated on the Zambezi River, complete with warthogs, meerkats and a local hippo named Sebastian! Each morning began with a beautiful buffet breakfast with which to slug down our malaria meds and followed with pick up by our local drivers and guide, Ms. Pretty. We booked our days with a local agency (Candy Pieters runs the agency – email firstname.lastname@example.org for the hook up).
After we were met at the airport and delivered to our hotel, our days were filled with a guided tour of the falls and shopping in town, a helicopter ride over the falls, high tea at the Victoria Falls Hotel, a visit to a crocodile farm, a Zambezi River sunset cruise, dinner at The Boma, elephant ride at the elephant conservancy, a day trip info Botswana for a day on water and land in Chobe, a photo safari into the Stanley-Livingstone rhino conservancy, and a day trip into Zambia. We couldn’t have asked more from our guides…every detail was attended to, we felt safe and well cared for and the planning was precise enough to give us a relaxed feel to a very busy holiday. I highly recommend Candy’s agency and Ms. Pretty’s expertise and joyful presence every morning had us crying at the airport on our last day…we were so sad to leave our new “family”. All of our drivers spoke beautiful English and were as knowledgable about the area as the guides themselves. We can’t say enough good things about our experience and wouldn’t change one single aspect.
Hint: when you arrive in Vic Falls, you have the option to purchase various types of visas. Go with the one that allows you to come in and out of Zimbabwe as many times as possible (I think 2 is the max) so that you don’t have to purchase them at the border crossings if you plan to go to Zambia and Botswana. It will save you a little time and money.
We rounded out our trip with a week in Cape Town enjoying city tours, wine tours, a trip to the Cape and around the Peninsula, a trip up to Table Mountain and lovely meals in Camps Bay and the harbour area.
This was truly a trip we will be talking about for years to come and the memories made were irreplaceable for my fily. Although the thought of traveling with such a young child was concerning at first, I so happy we made the decision to take the adventurous rout and share this experience with our daughter. The entire experience was well-worth every penny and moment of exhaustion while traveling as we gave our little girl the education of a lifetime on the African plains and cities!