I’ve always wanted to go on safari so when my husband proposed, then fiancé, the first thing on my mind was the honeymoon……. Well excluding the dress, the shoes, the party, the food!!!!
As we got married abroad in June, we decided to delay the honeymoon a little to have something to look forward to. So off we set in November destination South Africa. Like any trip away the traveling outfit is always key, its important to stay stylish yet comfortable. Layering is always key, the plane can get very chilly, but if for whatever reason you’re late for your connecting flight or on ground transport you’ll be forced to run – or, at least, walk at a very brisk pace to meet your connection! So having a top layer you can take off, and throw over your arm, is best. My key pieces were the Yaya clock cardigan, a warm knit with ¾ length sleeves and a tonal scarf to cosy into.
After the obligatory duty free stop at the Chanel counter, for more make up I will probably not use, and the honeymoon champagne selfie check-in in it was time to board the plane for the 10 hour night flight ahead.
I managed to watch Ab Fab the movie, definitely worth a view ladies if you haven’t seen it. I was really funny and familiar in places. Then it was the counting of the votes for the presidential election. That could have been a film too- what a year for politics.
We landed in Johannesburg at 6am and then it was a short flight on a small propeller plane to Hoedspruit airport, in the Kruger region. Then a short transfer through the park to our lodge, AndBeyond Nagala, where we were great with hot towels and a welcome drink and introduced to our butler Foster. Foster then took us to our own lodge. It was gorgeous an old-world haven in the midst of the African bush charms with its colonial antiques, silver cutlery and crystal glassware. Here, style and grace mingle faultlessly with the rugged natural beauty of the setting, as manicured lawns give way to dense mopane thickets and wild animals saunter down to drink at the waterhole.
The most important thing Foster told us is that you must latch your door every time you leave or come back since the baboons know how to open doors, and they will tear up your room! The reserve is in an open environment and you must have a security guard walk you around at night since the wild animals have been known to walk around the reserve. While we were there, there was a hippo in our watering hole. Luckily it decided to wonder back into the grasslands rather than around the camp.
The schedule at camp was this:
- 05:30AM – Wake up call
- 06:00AM – Coffee and snacks before going out on the game drive
- 06:00AM – Game drive. During the game drive, they will pack snacks and drinks for a mid-morning picnic
- 09:00AM – Arrive back and eat breakfast buffet
- 01:00PM – Lunch buffet
- 03:00PM – Game drive. Once again, they will pack snacks and drinks for sundowners
- 06:30PM – Arrive back at camp
- 07:00PM – Dinner (3 courses) or buffet, depending on day of week
The Game Drive
The game drive consisted of a ranger, who would drive the car and a tracker, who would sit at the front of the vehicle looking for tracks on the ground. Since Ngala is a private reserve, it’s not fenced in. Therefore, animals can roam off of the property and back on. However, Ngala is MASSIVE, and so you are sure to see at least 4 out of the ‘big 5’, with the rhino being one of the tougher animals to see due to poachers.
The animals, while they are wild, are actually accustomed to the green safari vehicle. It’s not uncommon to have a lion walk within a few feet of the vehicle, which we had two on our first drive! I was a little nervous to start but felt totally at ease when the Lions didn’t give us a second glance. Even when the loud engine noise comes on, the animals sometime don’t even react to it.
We were exceedingly lucky as we were visiting at the end of a bad drought and we managed to see the big 5 within 24 hours. Many of the watering holes had dried up so most animals were visiting the same ones. It was great to see two Lions trying to take a quick drink at a small watering hole, however, a hippo had claimed this as his own and there was a long game of who was boldest!
We were super lucky with our ranger, we could tell he was very experienced and always took us to the best spots. We even went off-road a couple of times, following a pack of wild dogs. This was exciting but you needed to hold on! It turns out our ranger was actually the team leader of all the rangers, which explained a lot.
The reserve has 5 chefs that rotate on meal cooking. Every meal was slightly different. There wasn’t a single meal that I thought wasn’t good. On our first and 3rd nights there, we had a 3 course a la-carte menu where you chose a soup or salad and a choice of meats. On the 2nd night it was more of a buffet style dinner. On this dinner, your ranger ate with you, which was great since they could share stories with you. How amazing not to worry about your commute to work, but to wake up and watch beautiful animals all day long!
Our ranger said that he actually drove Justin Bieber around when he visited years back. That’s how you know you’re in a “baller” safari. If you have the budget for it, I would highly recommend &Beyond and this Ngala safari reserve, we would definitely go back and is also family friendly so if you can take your children they would a trip of a lifetime.
We then travelled down to Cape Town and spent some time in the Wine regions and then down to the coast for Shark Diving! South Africa is full of such friendly people and we could not get over how reasonable the whole country was. Most 3- course meals in good restaurants with wine came to under £50. It was really wonderful and will have to go back as time went just too quickly.