South African Safari
For over 40 years, Illinois International Travel has arranged many Tours for Jehovah’s Witnesses to some remarkable destinations. Join David Sopiwnik, from Illinois International Travel, on this deluxe Tour to one of the most beautiful and diverse countries on earth. You will start in Cape Town, South Africa known for its exquisite wineries followed by an African safari in Kruger National Park where breakfast, lunch and dinner are included. Here you will see a variety of animals such as elephants, giraffes, zebras, lions, rhinos and many other animals untamed as on their day of creation. Enjoy the luxury of a safari lodge as you travel in 4-wheel drive vehicles, plus the warm weather will be ideal for swimming at the lodge. Game drives start early in the morning when the animals are on the move. You then return for breakfast and to relax around the pool. In the afternoon there are game drives when the animals are again on the move. You may see a cheetah stalking or a baby elephant trying to keep up with the herd. One of the highlights will be visiting the Watchtower Branch Office in Krugersdorp, South Africa. (Go to www.jw.org and click on “Offices and Tours” and then – “Select Location” – “South Africa”) to download a beautiful brochure on the African Branch.
Thu. Feb. 14 You can fly from any major city to Washington, D.C. where you will then board the overnight flight to Johannesburg and then to Cape Town, South Africa. Traveling to this area with other Friends on this Tour is a wonderful experience as it is one of the most beautiful regions in the world and is where you can see nature at its best! (We suggest making reservations NOW as our last Safari Tour was sold out months in advance.)
Fri. Feb. 15 Upon arrival in Cape Town in the evening, you will be met and transferred to your hotel near the Waterfront where all the shops are located.
Sat. Feb. 16 After breakfast, you will drive past Table Mountain and through the wine country where there are over 200 estates. The highlight is a wine tasting and cellar Tour in the village of Stellenbosch. Balance of the day is free to visit the unique waterfront area where there are many shops and restaurants or you may want to take a cable car ride to the top of Table Mountain.
Sun. Feb. 17 Full-day Tour of the Cape Peninsula, that’s called “Nature’s Greatest Show” where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans come together. You will travel on Chapman’s Peak Drive located at the most Southern part of Africa that will make you feel like you’re standing at the edge of the world. Here you will take a cable railway car to the top of the cliffs. A seafood lunch is included and then you will see over 2,000 penguins at Boulder Beach. Tonight, a special dinner is included with African music and entertainment at the “African Gold Restaurant.”
Mon. Feb. 18 This morning, you will fly to world famous Kruger National Park and stay three nights at the luxurious Kapama River Safari Lodge. In the afternoon, meet for high tea and then the “call of the wild” awaits as you board a safari vehicle for your first game drive. Each vehicle has a driver as a game ranger, plus a tracker that sits in the front of the vehicle whose trained eyes see animals before you do. (Go to www.kapama.co.za for details of this exclusive 5-star game lodge.) They are always in search of the “Big Five” – lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo, plus hundreds of impalas, zebras and giraffes. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is included each day at the lodge.
Tue. Feb. 19 Each morning you will begin at dawn with coffee, fruit and muffins and then depart on a morning game drive for an unforgettable day full of adventures! You will then return to the lodge for a hardy breakfast and to relax at the pool or browse through the Safari Curio Shop. Lunch is included and then it’s time for high tea and another safari when the animals are again roaming around. Return to the lodge for a BBQ dinner around the boma (a fire-lit pit) under a starlit sky. This is a night to remember!
Wed. Feb. 20 Another early morning game drive as each day is different. Besides the “Big Five” you are bound to see hippos, crocodiles, antelope, baboons, hyenas, zebras, warthogs and many more animals that can only be seen on a safari. As dusk begins, you may hear the roar of a lion just a few yards from your safari vehicle. With the help of your ranger and tracker, a spotlight at night may find a leopard’s eye as they shine bright red in the light. For an exciting adventure, you may want to take an optional elephant back safari Tour or a hot air balloon ride. There is never a dull moment on a safari as you never know what to expect.
Thu. Feb. 21 This morning you will enjoy one more exciting game drive before breakfast. Everyone will then board the short flight to Johannesburg. Upon arrival, you will check in at your hotel that’s located next to the Nelson Mandela Shopping Mall. Balance of the day will be free to do as you please.
Fri. Feb. 22 Today’s highlight will be visiting the Watchtower Branch Office where we will have lunch with the Bethel family. Later, you will depart to the airport for the overnight flight back to the USA, including dinner.
Sat. Feb. 23 Arrive Washington, D.C. with connections to your hometown city.
AN AFRICAN SAFARI
AS TOLD BY DAVID SOPIWNIK
For the past 35 years I have had the opportunity to escort many groups to various countries around the world, however one of the most unique and exciting countries has been Africa. Here you will find national parks and game reserves full of wildlife and African flora that can be seen and photographed in their natural habitat. Africa is the home of countless game animals including the “Big Five”, leopard, rhino, lion, buffalo and elephant. The following is a brief description of my last visit to Kruger National Park in South Africa.
On the first day of our safari, our group divided themselves up into 4-wheel drive open land rovers with a driver and a tracker who are experts on spotting the animals. On our first game drive we started out on the dirt roads and almost immediately, we saw a herd of giraffes quietly munching on treetops. “Giraffes!” several people cried. “Stop!” Everyone lunged for cameras and binoculars. We photographed the giraffes until our driver started the land rover again and moved on.
The group then fell into the rhythm that would hold for the entire trip. There were game runs in the early morning and in the late afternoon into the evenings. After lunch it was either nap time or a relaxing swim around the pool at the lodge. Often the best run was late afternoon, especially close to dusk, where the animals readied for a night of hunting. While driving through the fertile land, where the rich red earth glittered with little metallic flecks, we sang “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” the women handling the “wim-a-way” chorus while the men howled the falsetto. Our driver wiped tears of laughter from his eyes. When we finished, he said, “Do it again,” and we did.
Each morning we were up early, and each game run became more exciting as you want to see an even more colorful bird, a different giraffe, a cuter baby elephant. And every day, you do. This is also where many National Geographic specials were filmed. Lions walked so close to our vehicles that we could have reached out and petted them, but tourists are forbidden from getting out of the vehicles on game runs. The lions ignored us, being used to the safari vehicles and fearless by nature because they have no predators. One female sneezed only a few feet from us, and another yawned so wide that she fell backwards, exhausted.
I will long remember walking alone one night on the grounds at the lodge. The sky stretched everywhere. As I looked around, I saw nothing but stars and dark land. Stars packed the sky so thickly that some parts seemed more light than dark. I could see the Milky Way clearly, a dusty cloud winking like glitter tossed out of nowhere. I looked up and felt small and yet huge and timeless. It had a smell, clean and sweet. It had silence. It had majesty and a sense of reality, and even though I do not have a single photograph of it, I’ll always picture it clearest of all in my mind’s eye.
YOUR TOUR WILL INCLUDE:
- Round-trip airfare
- Hotels and lodges
- All wildlife viewing
- All safari park entrance fees
- Breakfast daily including all meals as specified
- Professional safari guides and Tour Escort