Our First Safari Package to South Africa
Our firsthand encounter with Heritage Tours & Safaris on Safari
If you have ever dreamt of the African Wildlife as much as we have then making the decision to finally go on safari can without a doubt be a daunting one.
Covid definitely had an impact on us as a family, and it was during this time watching television that we felt being drawn towards the open plains of the African bush. Confinement and claustrophobia had set in as many of us had to endure.
The decision was made we were going to go to Africa. This is a short encounter of our first safari package to South Africa.
Well, that sounds easy enough. Africa is enormous, so where to and with who should we decide to go with? After somewhat weeks of research, it was decided to go to South Africa. Kruger National Park was without a doubt high on the list, however being further away from the ocean posed a bit of a problem as the kids.
Further research showed that Cape Town offered some absolutely amazing options however we just felt that the parks were not as authentic as Kruger National Park. It was then that we found the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park in KwaZulu Natal. Which resulted in us chatting with the staff at Heritage Tours & Safaris.
From the get-go, I have to mention that the staff were absolutely amazing in the sense that we must have emailed them multiple times day and night.
Each question and concern was answered with honesty and never did we feel as though we were being pushed to buy something we didn't want.
Our Options included:
- 1 to 7 Nights accommodation with all of the Tours and Safaris included through the company.
It was finally decided that we would book the 4-Night Zululand Safari Package.
Our first sighting of a Hippopotamus in St Lucia KwaZulu Natal
The company, unfortunately, does not offer airline tickets, this was something that we would have to navigate ourselves. We finally managed to book tickets with Virgin Airlines and hence the dates were confirmed. Yes, we were officially going on Safari.
Is it human nature that we always then only start worrying about so many other problems and issues? Was the company legit, were the standards of service up to European standards, etcetera etcetera and the list goes on.
We had been asked to pay a small deposit, and the outstanding amount before arrival. Further research before payment made us feel a bit better but still one never knows in today's world.
I have to mention that Bev, Nelley, and Helen in the office were at all times efficient and forthcoming.
An amazing sighting as the Sunset on the estuary
When one thinks of a safari one thinks of camouflage clothing or khaki as it's known in South Africa. What should we buy and what should we wear on our safari?
Once again the ladies in the office assured us that there was no need whatsoever to buy anything special, comfy clothing, shoes, and hats where needed. That's it I was almost disappointed.
On the day of departure, numerous emails once again to the office more importantly please don't forget about us, us humans.
Arrival at King Shaka International Airport Durban, one word, Humid. No one can ready themselves for that especially arriving from a European winter.
Mandla was there as promised with a name board, we had not been had. The transfer was a bit long, especially after an international flight (2,5hrs). Sugar cane and forestry was for the most part what we saw during our transfer however I would imagine that the kids saw more of their eyelids.
Upon arrival in St Lucia our new home for the next 4 nights, Mandla slowed down as we crossed the bridge into town, Hippos everywhere in the estuary was our first wildlife experience. We stopped at the office and finally meet the ladies in the office. After weeks of anticipation and a bit of anxiety, it was so nice to put a face to all of the emails back and forth. I still often wonder how many times the same questions are asked.
I do apologize as this is not my personal picture of At Heritage House
Day 1 Arrival Our First Safari Package to South Africa
After a quick meet and greet, Mandla dropped us off At Heritage House St Lucia KwaZulu Natal, Thea our host for the next few nights made sure that she did not bore us with the unnecessary book in details but rather showed us around the property and our rooms.
The rooms were more than what we had expected, all air-conditioned and large in size. Well appointed I had to admit, with a lovely balcony outside with a splash pool. The kids wasted no time and in they went.
We had managed to arrive in time for the late afternoon Hippo Boat cruise, Mandla once again was promptly on time and transferred us down to the jetty. A bit tired but excited we hopped onto the boat. Fortunately, the boat only has 15 seats and we had ample room to ourselves. The skipper was hilarious, to say the least however the Hippos of course won. It's a slow and relaxed cruise with the main event being Hippos, Nile Crocodiles, and quite a variety of bird species. Heynie the skipper stopped multiple times so that we could all get some amazing photographs, an enormous thanks to him as well for letting the kids steer for a bit.
The trip back to the jetty was amazing with the Sunset and the grunting of the Hippos.
Once again Mandla met us after the trip and back to the bed and breakfast for a quick shower before setting off to one of the many restaurants that we frequented over the next few evenings. As a side note, I have to mention that the bnb was within walking distance to town, maybe 4 or 5 minutes. After which we headed back for an early night, yawn.
Our first Elephants on Safari
Day 2 Our First Safari Package to South Africa
Early morning I must say, 04:30 up to get ready for the Big 5 Safari into the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve. Jabu was waiting for us at the reception at the bnb and off we set, this was ultimately the reason for our first visit to South Africa.
The transfer to the park took about 40 minutes or so I am absolutely not a morning person I can once again confirm. Jabu once at the gate jumped out and rolled up the canvas sides for our first-time excursion. As newbies, the excitement must have been apparent, Jabu with an extremely kind nature asked us what we where wanting to try and see, and then we set off into the bush.
Jabu made our day one of the most exciting, memorable, and interesting days of our life. His knowledge and passion exemplifies him and is truly an asset to any company. His patience and willingness to explain and teach us all as much as possible was miraculous, to say the least.
Breakfast in the Bush was surreal, set on a hill with the sounds of wildlife in the distance. This gave us a chance to chat face-to-face with Jabu as we had been fortunate that no other clients had joined us on that particular day. Once again an enormous shout out to Jabu for an amazing day in the bush.
His braai ( traditional bbq) was amazing at Sonthuli Loop with the kids now demanding the same every summer day, thanks. The list of animals seen was extensive however we were unable to see the Leopards, I'm told probably one of the most elusive animals in Africa.
The Big 5 Safari was exactly what it says, a day out in the bush exploring and trying to see and learn as much as possible. The park is amazing and without being to Kruger National Park for comparison's sake we are blown away.
As a side note, it's a long day but absolutely well worth it. Take a hat and sunblock along. The van had extra bottled waters so there was no need to take any along. Lunch was amazing, try asking for the noodle salad recipe, delicious.
That afternoon once back at the bnb the kids swam and we rested for a bit on the balcony with some delicious wine. Note to oneself visit the cape. That evening we settled for a restaurant called Reef and Dune, well worth it, and a bit of a show from the local Zulu dancers.
Cape Vidal with it's inviting warm water
Day 3 Our First Safari Package to South Africa
The next morning we enjoyed breakfast at the bnb, and then set off to visit iSimangaliso Wetland Park on a full-day tour. This included game viewing, loops and hides before arriving at Cape Vidal.
Cape Vidal was stunning, with as clear water as I've ever seen. The kids snorkeled in the bay and us older adults just enjoyed the calm ocean breeze. Zayne the guide was amazing with all of us, his patience with the kids was amazing, and yet another enormous thanks to the amazing guides that we encountered.
The day's outings was at a slower pace with less emphasis on just wildlife, Zayne went into great detail about why the park received World Heritage status. I would strongly recommend not forgetting your sunblock and hat on this tour.
Lunch was a picnic at Cape Vidal and with enormous portions, we were more than fed after enjoying the swimming and basking in the sun.
Guess what we saw en route back to St Lucia yes, our very first Leopard. What an experience.
Just can not believe our luck
Water Buck with the toilet seat mark, hehe
That evening we enjoyed some amazing seafood at the local restaurant John Dory's which was fantastic.
The next morning after breakfast at the bnb once again we were fetched by Zayne and set off towards the town of Hluhluwe for an Elephant interaction demonstration and a visit to the Cheetah Rehabilitation Centre.
The elephants were amazing, they roam the park freely however when it comes to feeding time they arrive at a central point. They are well cared for that's for sure we had an opportunity to learn more and even had the chance to feed one of the Elephants, which will forever be in my thoughts.
Emdoneni Lodge was next after lunch this is a Cheetah rehabilitation center and is also very well run and managed. We were fortunate in meeting the owner, her passion for the animals that she looks after was impeccable.
After reaching our new home it was amazing to realize in just a small radius that so much is available. The wildlife, the ocean, the caring people, and of course the scenery is fantastic.
How amazing is this
Day 4 Our First Safari Package to South Africa
Last day, wow the safari package is busy and eventful. I would if I go again add an extra day just to recuperate.
Oh by the way when you are enjoying breakfast outside on the balcony keep an eye out for the monkeys they are so cute and quite naughty. After breakfast, we headed out on a Zulu culture tour. Theo the owner was there to meet us as well as his wife.
We learned so much about the Zulu Culture, history and so much more. We even had some delicious traditional Zulu food watched and even participated in the Zulu dancing. Thanks, Theo is was eye-opening and amazing.
Late afternoon we had to ourselves back in town. We strolled around bought some small wares for our family back home and then just collapsed on the balcony while the kids swam their hearts out before returning back to the cold European winter.
What an amazing tour, thanks Theo
Day 4 Final Day Our First Safari Package to South Africa
Our final breakfast and our last opportunity to watch the cute monkeys try their luck at some free food.
Mandla had already loaded luggage and we sadly and regretfully said our goodbyes to Thea and all of her amazing staff. A must stop at the office to say goodbye to Bev, Nelley, and Helen.
No sooner had we landed and we were off once again. We had booked a short stay in Ballito close to Durban. Mandla dropped us off and that was the last of the amazing Heritage Tours & Safaris team. Until next time that is for sure.
It can be said that this company has been operating for quite some time, and they want to share their experiences and love for the area that they live in. Friendly, passionate, and amazing. Never did we hear sorry that's not possible, Thea assisted us so much making sure that the kids had extra snack packs and juices.
Bev stayed in contact at all times and made sure that we knew at all times what was next.
I can and will say that if you are considering a Safari Package to South Africa, visit KwaZulu Natal and enjoy if not the 4-Night Safari Package then one of the many other options that they offer.
Nice to know beforehand:
- Tabbard mosquito repellant is essential and it works.
- Lekker, means nice and is used frequently
- Nyibonga, thank you in zulu
Reservations: South Africa is experiencing load shedding, which means the lights go out so make sure you know when (time-wise).
Like any country keep your quits about yourself.
Would we go back, absolutely yes it's an amazing country and so much larger than we expected.
Ask as many questions as possible, Bev is more than willing and yes, very patient.
From all of us thank you so so much for an amazing life-changing experience. I have to say that our First Safari Package to South Africa was everything that we could have imagined, thanks to Covid we have decided to get out more and enjoy the wonderful destinations in the world.