Destinations / JOURNE Y
I KEPT THINKING — shortly after I stumbled in the dark upon a 13,000-pound bull elephant block- ing the entrance to my private bungalow — of the lyric Eva Gabor sings in the opening credits for the TV show Green Acres, “Dahling I love you but give me Park Avenue.”
And that is South Africa in a nutshell: the original town
and country. One day you’re sipping a minty mojito at a Cape
Town beachside cafe, and the next you’re deep in the bush-
veld, watching a leopard dine on the same wild game you had
for dinner last night.
Chances are most of us will only have one opportunity
to go on a safari, yet there are more than 2,300 safari tours
to choose from within eight African countries: from gorilla
trekking in Uganda to birding safaris in Botswana. But
only in South Africa can you easily combine both a cosmopolitan vacation experience touring Cape Town and its
surrounding wine regions with an exhilarating big-game
safari in the wild.
Granted, driving through South Africa’s Kruger National
Park doesn’t feel as wild as tearing across Tanzania’s
Serengeti with a Masai warrior in the backseat, but the
animals you’ll see — and see them you will — aren’t any less
feral, beautiful and dangerous. If you’re OK with that, and
wiggling your toes in warm Cape Town sand in February
sounds just fine, then dahling it’s South Africa for you.
It’s Who You Know
It was my third trip to Johannesburg’s Tambo International
Airport — Africa’s equivalent of Heathrow — but this time
it wasn’t to take a connecting flight to another country. I
gave myself three weeks to explore as much of South Africa
as possible, and the adventure started before I even left the
Following a man with my name on a sign, I was led to
a coffee bar — by the way, the coffee in Africa is first-rate
— and introduced to a clean-cut gentleman in his late 20s
who looked a bit like Justin Timberlake. “Hello, Matthew,”
he said in that distinctive South African accent. “I’m Guy.
Welcome to South Africa.”
Guy Ellis is a native South African who heads up a leopard
identification database effort throughout South Africa used
to track, census and plot home ranges for these endangered
cats. He also runs his own luxury safari company serving Cape
Town, Johannesburg, Stellenbosch and wherever else you
wish to travel in his country.
Opposite: Wildlife at
Manyeleti and Sabi
Sabi game reserves and
Kruger National Park.
This page: A walking
safari at Sabi Sabi