South Africa Adventure~ Week #1

It's been a long week of recovering from vacation!  Just simply getting laundry done and getting back into the groove with this jetlag has taken its toll on us.  We had family visit this weekend, so I pushed myself to get all my vacation pictures edited so that I could share them with relatives.  I'm happy to say that the pictures are ready and so you get to see them also!

Before we start though, let me back up, our South Africa adventure actually started almost 2 years ago when we went to a non-profit fundraiser for a friend's company.  At the fundraiser we got a bit carried away with the auction process and actually walked away with 2 vacations!  Our first trip we won was our Banff, Canada trip which we ended up using for our 15th wedding anniversary ( you can read more about that trip here).  Funny story, I was actually in the bathroom when my hubby won this one.  I came back and when he told me, I was like, where's Banff? I had no idea.  I had my eye on this South Africa trip, so I was a bit put out that he went ahead and got the Banff trip.  I was still determined in the back of my mind to get the safari if it was reasonable at all.  See I had formulated a plan right from the start.  An African safari had always been on my bucket list. When it finally came time for the safari bidding, I whispered to Greg that we needed to go for it.  I think because he was on the high from winning the other one, he was like OK, because that risky behavior certainly wouldn't have been in his nature.  We lucked out and actually got this trip for a steal.  I was over the moon to snatch it up but was also thrilled to be able to help out a charitable cause~ win win.  Our trip to Banff ended up being the perfect little trip to celebrate our anniversary.  We sat on the Africa trip for some time and after contemplating this adventure, we ultimately decided to add our 3 children to the trip. Fast forward 18 months and here we go!

Our Adventure to South Africa~ Zulu Nyala

Our trip started in Cincinnati, OH with the first leg of our airplane to Atlanta.  In Atlanta, we boarded our long overnight flight to Johannesburg.  We watched lots of movies, ate, and attempted to sleep as much as possible. The kids did way better than I expected.  I was particularly concerned about my 6-year-old, but in all honesty, it was long, but he did great!  Upon arrival to Johannesburg, we were picked up at the airport and transferred to the Country Manor where we stayed overnight.  The next morning it was off to the airport again to take a transfer flight to Durbin.  As a small group, we were then driven 3 more hours to our ultimate destination, Zulu Nyala resort.  Zulu Nyala Private Game Reserve is a privately owned reserve, home to over 40 different species of animals and birds.  The first 3 nights of our stay at the reserve we were in the Hemingway Tents.  These “tents” are glamping to the max with canvas walls, but concrete floors and all the amenities.  The tents are beautiful and really give you a sense that you are right there with the animals.  The property was gorgeous with animal spotting right from your front porch.  The next 3 days, we were in the Game Lodge which was even more beautiful than the tents with full amenities and access to a beautiful pool and a view overlooking the reserve.  The lush grounds were full of gorgeous plants and the dining room was a full buffet for breakfast, most lunches, and dinners.  This was perfect for our whole family with food selections that everyone would like.

 Day 1 of the safari was checking out the grounds, settling in, and enjoying dinner.  Day 2 is when the fun really started!  We met our private guide, Chris, and our small group. This assigned group was who we spent all of our drives with.  Safaris were scheduled twice a day for 6 days.  Mornings started at 6 am.  Game drives in the early morning were cold this time of year (which is their winter) and lasted about 2-2 1/2 hours.  We brought warm clothing and Chris had blankets for us to wrap up in also. 

Days 2-6 were basically layed out the same way. We followed our drives with breakfast and on several days then excursions.  A late afternoon game drive was the 2nd game drive of the day and then dinner followed at 7.  

Each time we went out, it was a new adventure.  Our guide spent time teaching us about the area, the animals, and educating us on what we encountered.  I was so happy we had taken the children with us.  They loved it!  It was such an amazing experience and every time we boarded that jeep there was anticipation as to what we could/ would see.  Even our youngest enjoyed the game drives.  

Some of the animals we saw:

Our day excursions included: an Elephant Interaction Tour, St. Lucia Boat Cruise, and Phinda Game Reserve.  There were tons to choose from so our guide helped recommend which ones he felt we would enjoy most.  All were amazing!  The kids were able to feed elephants during the interaction, our boat cruise gave us a close-up view of hippos and with this day excursion, we also went to the Indian Ocean and enjoyed some time at a handmade market.  Phinda is another game reserve nearby and this is where we saw the lions.  It is a larger reserve than Zulu Nyala so the volume and variety of animals are different. 

It's truly hard to describe to someone who hasn't been the beauty of the place and the awesomeness of what you see.  A picture just doesn't do it justice.

I would defintiely recommend this trip to anyone who is thinking about it!  It was a dream come true and full of memories that our family will cherish for a lifetime.  

I can't emphasize enough how this is such a family-friendly trip.  The kids said they liked it better than Disney World so that says something!  

My tips for taking kids include; layers of clothing (for winter travelers), binoculars, sun hats with a strap, disposable cameras, journals for them to jot notes about what they see each day or draw pictures, small wild animal set of figures for little ones to play with, animal sticker books and coloring books to entertain, water shoes, adapter for electronics. 

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This concludes Week #1!  We spent the second week of our vacation in Capetown, South Africa and I will post a separate post for that week in the near future.  I hope you are planning an adventure with your family this summer!  We are already talking about where to go next!

To life feeling like home!



  1. […] of our previous experiences I’ve shared are South Africa (LINK), Capetown, South Africa (LINK), Athens & The Greek Isles (LINK), and most recently, Cuba […]

  2. […] can read more about our vacation to South Africa (link) and Capetown (link) if you are […]

  3. […] vacation adventure. If you’ve been around the blog awhile, you may remember last year we went to South Africa on a Safari (Link HERE) and then to Capetown (Link HERE). This year we are setting off for another wild adventure, this […]

  4. […] Safari trip.  I still owe you the second-week blog post, but the first week is up on the blog, here.  It was an amazing adventure and we are still coming down off our vacation high.  We […]

  5. Emily says:

    I can’t begin to imagine how amazing this trip was! And all the animals you got to see! So, so cool! I’m looking forward to your second installment 😉

  6. Wow! It looks like the trip of a lifetime! I can’t wait to see more pics from your adventure!

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