Report of 25 May Departure, Parts 1 & 2

Rather long report. There is a character limit.

May 25 - June 3 tour, the start of winter. We picked this date hoping for the best chance of good weather and temps in Livingstgone, on safari in Botswana, and in Cape Town and water flow over the falls. For the most part it worked.

Temps- Instead of trying to figure out what you need to wear by using Tauck's weather and average temps, see the historical graphs at https://weatherspark.com This is by far the best website I have ever found for best-guess as to weather- temps, wind, humidity, etc. There are WIDE swings in temps between the morning, midday, and night! Layering is essential. I recommend a fleece or better yet hoodie or fleece with a hood. Blankets and or fleece-lined ponchos are carried by most (all?) the safari vehicles and believe me we needed and used them at the start of morning and during nighttime game drives when we went!!!! (note: it was at the start of their winter.) I don 't think temps ever dropped into the 40's (though likely in June and July), but certainly into the 50's and with wind from the moving vehicle, it got downright chilly! Many of the women also wore gloves. By about 10 am we started shedding layers. The temps maxed out between 2:00 - 3:00 pm.

Flights- We booked flights ourselves and flew Delta non-stop from ATL to Jo'burg. We arrived at 5:30 pm, too late for connecting flights to Livingstone, so we claimed our bags which weren't checked thru, and had a planned overnight stay at the InterContinental which is only 75' from the terminal doors, in a well lighted area! There are other (and cheaper) airport hotel options, one, the Protea, is actually on the air side so you don't have to retrieve and recheck bags if they are checked thru (I didn't like the reviews). We had a good night's sleep so were refreshed and ready for activities the next day (we arrived two days early). Our SAA flight to LVI was scheduled to depart Jo'burg at 10:40 am but left a little late. The 11:00 am BA/Comair flight departed shortly after us.

All on-tour flights except Maun to Cape Town were on Cessna Grand Caravans.

Johannesburg Airport. See my comments in another thread about issues with Jo'burg airport. We had an "official?" "authorized?" helper" and no problems

Visa and immigration. Our flight arrived just a few min. before the BA flight. As planned, we got in the KAZA visa (right) side of the immigration/visa desk. Almost everyone else went to regular Zambia visa line on left (locals were in the center line) so we were second in line. The KAZA multi-entry visa is good for 30 days and for multiple entries to both Zambia and Zimbabwe- they are the same price ($50) so why get a single entry Zambia-only visa? We got through immigration in less than 10 min! At home I completed the online form for the KAZA visa so I had all the info available- I didn't need it, they didn't ask for any of it except possibly when we were leaving- really a quick, casual affair. (FYI, it was only at Atlanta where they checked to make sure we had the required number of visa pages for South Africa!!) After picking up our bags we were met in the main hall by the Tauck driver, but since the BA flight had also just arrived he waited for our two friends who were on that flight. The van took the four of us to the river where we boarded a boat that took us to the Royal Livingstone- a mini waterborne game drive. Our bags continued with the van to the hotel- you can also choose to skip the boar ride and go to directly to the hotel in the van with your bags- why???? We arrived at the hotel dock a little before 2:00 but for some reason the staff had a hard time finding our reservation so it took 20 - 30 min. to get checked in and get to our room! There was still plenty of time to catch the shuttle to the Batoka Airstrip for our micro-light flight above the falls and up river. I booked (and paid for!) ir months earlier through Bushtracks- the hotel endorsed on-site booking agent.

Meds- we both took an emergency supply of an antibiotic (CIPRO) with us but did not need it. This time both of us had minor side effects from Malarone and stopped taking it (temps were too low for mosquitoes anyway), so if we go back to a malaria risk area we might see about taking Doxycycline. My wife had no side-effects from taking that on K&T.

The Royal Livingstone was very nice, the grounds, which are actually within the confines of Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, were beautiful. 2 - 3 times a day half a dozen or so zebra come to visit ("Cue the zebra"). Though not in the same numbers, impala, baboons and to an even lesser degree, giraffe will also visit. In the morning, signs of nighttime animal visits were everywhere on the lawn. Note: the animals, though accustomed to humans, are wild!!

Grounds maintenance or other staff may offer to show you a giraffe or baby giraffe, etc. This may or may not happen, and is probably not sanctioned by the hotel, they are just seeking extra money hoping for a tip.

Other restaurants. There are two more casual and less expensive restaurants at the Avani (Teddy's and the Poolside Bar and Grill. We ate a dinner at Teddy's and a lunch at poolside. Since the Avani is part of same hotel group we were able to charge the meals to our Royal Livingstone room account.

There really is not much else to do at the Royal Livingstone other than the spa, eat, drink sundowers on their dock and visit the falls park. Bushtracks can book almost any off-site activity available in the area (helicopter & microlight flights, bungee jump, zipline, dinner cruise, animal encounters, etc., etc.) . If you email the hotel they will email you back a large PDF listing available activities.

Mosi-oa-tunya ("the smoke that thunders") National Park. You can follow a path from RL to the neighboring Avani, log out at the back gatehouse to the hotel grounds, and enter a parking lot across from the entrance to Mosi-oa-Tunya park where you can gain access with just your a hotel pass. You'll also need your pass or room key card to re-enter the hotel grounds. We did that and made a brief trip to the Zambia side of the falls- we did not go all the way to the "Knife Edged Bridge" where the spray was heaviest. You need heavy duty rain gear or ponchos for that. They can be rented in the park but decided not to do that since we were going there with Tauck in two days.

We exited the park, easily navigated the Zambia border station and walked onto the Victoria Falls bridge for some photos (the welcome dinner train stops there also for photos, but by that time daylight is waning) . We continued across the bridge, through the Zimbabwe border station and to the entrance of Zimbabwe's Victoria Falls Park. I don't remember the distance, but you can check it on Google Maps. We had planned to eat lunch at the Rain Forest Café, but learned it was located inside the park so requires a separate entry fee. A "vote was taken" - we headed back to Zambia.

The ultralight flights were a blast. No cameras are allowed on the flight so we added the photo package (wing-mounted GoPro aimed at the cockpit) but it only takes still photos, tons of still photos- one every 10 sec. or so, but is really not worth the extra expense for one or two set shots- if two are flying only get one photo package.

Poolside visitors:

The line of white buildings on the right shore is the Royal Livingstone Hotel.

Note the line of elephants (near the propeller) crossing the river and approaching an island just a bit upstream from the falls.

Comments

  • edited June 2019

    Report of 25 May Departure, Part 2

    On our second day in Livingstone we went to Mikuni Big 5 for animal encounters. You can book these through Bushtracks but they don't book one activity (I won't get into why) so I booked a 3 activity combo package directly through Mikuni. It was fantastic- the four of us in our little group had a blast. Their place is only a 10 min. drive from the hotel- Mikuni provided the transfer.

    Luggage and Laundry. Don't over-pack!!! There is excellent and FREE laundry service at the Botswana Camps (Camp Kalahari won't wash underwear)! There is absolutely no need to take more than one standard size piece of luggage. Remember you will switch to Tauck-issued duffle bags upon departure from Livingstone. Be prepared to put your safari shoes/tennis shoes in a sealed bag for the trip home or toss them out. The sand (actually fine dust) and amount of dung of various types on the trails and pathways at the camps is significant. You actually have a few mini-lectures about dung - did you know that an elephant only processes about 40% of the grass and trees it eats? The remaining 60% just passes through his system.

    Money for non-Tauck Tips & Purchases- we carried a bunch of crisp $1 and $5 bills for tipping at non-Tauck activities. We did not convert money into local currency in any of the 3 countries, not even to visit the local women's market at a village near Eagle Island Camp or the little impromptu San Bushmen (and women) marker after a walk at Camp Kalahari. There was no need. Plastic was accepted almost everywhere and in case it wasn't they accepted US dollars. The Cape Point Lighthouse gift shop credit card reader wasn't working during our visit so we used some of the $20 bills we also brought with us.

    The accommodations at all camps were wonderful- this is "glamping."

    Pools. The water in pools at the Royal Livingstone, Khwai River Lodge, and Camp Kalahari, and the "coldtub" at Eagle Island was way too cold. The water was a bit cloudy and not too inviting at Camp Kalahari. I did 3 fast laps in the Khwai River pool and quickly jumped out- it took my breath away. The water temperature may be bearable later in the year.

    Water levels, etc. This can change from year to year, but in May/June 2019 the locals claimed the amount of water over the falls, though still significant and causing billowing mist, was much less than normal. The amount of water in the Okavango Delta (which gets its water from the mountains of Angola) was disturbingly low. Eagle Island Camp is on what is normally an island on a lagoon in the Okavango Delta, itself a web of waterways, marshes, many small islands, and some savannah. The camp now fronts a small, shallow stream and wide open savannah. Our makoro (dugout canoe) rides were limited to a small area (a short stretch of stream) in front of the lodge, even so we ran aground at least once. The lodge and our cabins were more than a 100 yds from the water instead 10 feet away during a normal flood season. On the positive side, we got wet, but could still see and did not get totally drenched at Victoria Falls and at Khwai River and Eagle Island we were able to travel by land safari vehicle almost everywhere to see concentrations of animals instead of traveling by boat and being limited to where the waterways could take us. During one game drive we stopped for refreshments not far from Eagle Island Camp. There was a very large, but tight gathering of around 100 hippos. During our helo flight we saw a group of probably twice or three times that number in a wider section of river!!

    Electricity- available to some extent everywhere. Camp Kalahari only had two bare bulbs hanging in the tents, no outlets. They have a multi-outlet (solar-powered?) electronic device charging station in the main area. Don't forget an electrical adapter. Also, when switching from suitcase to duffle don't forget to include your camera battery charger! Who would forget a thing like that???? D'Oh!!!

    Pace and Activity level. This trip is rated at 2 for Activity Level- I think that is conservative, when you consider Cape Town activities, and a 4 for Pace- it certainly was that and more. There were many early starts! I'm missing two daily "go sheets" and our tour/daily detailed schedule which was surprisingly accurate, is no longer visible on the Tauck App, but I counted quite a few 6:30 and 7:00 starts (breakfast at 6:00 and 6:30) on the schedules I do have! Speaking of the app, again, I can no longer compare since it is not visible to us, but I remember noting that for those days when I checked, the schedule on the app matched our daily paper "go sheets."

    Thankfully, there were a number of days in the camps where we had time for a siesta after lunch and before the afternoon/nighttime game drive. We almost always didn't return to camp until after dark (May/June is winter there, so darkness comes early). We would go straight to dinner or after a quick clean-up, but seldom changed clothes first. After dinner and a few admin things it was off to our tents, with an escort (live animals lurking), to get ready for the next day, messing with photos, phones, and iPads*, and early to bed. *Internet was spotty at best after Livingstone and before Cape Town. Also, most email programs did not work until Cape Town (possibly blocked by our US Internet provider?).

    Itinerary. As everyone who has traveled with Tauck knows, situations arise that result in deviations to the itinerary published on the website or shown in the green book, so you must temper your expectations. That being said, we were very fortunate- between the efforts of our fantastic TD, favorable climate/weather conditions, etc. we were able to do (almost?) everything listed on the Tauck itineraries, some activities that are often dropped due to weather, and even some extra activities which were not scheduled. We visited the falls and were awed by their majesty and grandeur, but not overwhelmed by too much spray. In the Delta, we experienced riding in makoros yet also rode in safari vehicles which allowed us to get up close to giraffe and prides of lions, including an encounter with a small pride that was already bloated from eating yet still working on the remains of a Cape buffalo they had recently killed. In the Delta we saw unbelievable numbers of hippos both from our vehicles and during a helicopter flight. In Cape Town we rode the funicular to the top of Table Mountain where we experienced beautiful, clear blue skies and incredible views (both a rarity this time of year.) Though we had one day of intermittent light rain and non-placid seas, we were still able to travel to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope and venture by boat from Simon's Town to Seal Island where we saw the largest and most active group of seals that I had ever seen, anywhere! Anyone prone to seasickness should anticipate taking Dramamine or similar medication before the boat trip.

    Can you count the hippos in this photo taken during the helicopter flight at Eagle Island Camp?

    Yes, escorts were mandatory to go between the lodge and our "tents" after dark (and sometimes in the daytime) since animals like this little fellow behind our tent, would often visit.

    What a fantastic day to visit Table Mountain

  • Report of 25 May Departure, Part 3

    K&T or B,SA,Z- which is better? This question always seems to come up. I think it partly depends on which you did first, the time of year, etc. Just ask Sealord. The tours are different with different experiences. In our case, if not equal, B, SA, Z was a very close second to K&T. Both TDs were great, as were animal sightings. Before hand, I didn't think it possible, but our safari guides/drivers on B, SA, Z were equal to, if not slightly better than, the great guides we had on K&T several years ago. There were no long drives on B, SA, Z like the trek during K&T from Ngorongoro crater to the Serengeti which I believe is being replaced by a flight starting in 2020 or 2021.

    The meerkats were delightful. You won't find these guys on K&T. Don't be disappointed if you can't get them to climb on your head- they WILL climb on somebody's head which makes for great photos. Hint: remove your poncho or slick outer garment, get low, sit still, have camera ready to photograph others in your group. I got some great close-up videos of them using a little GoPro mounted on a small, flexible tripod.

    Tour Size- I'm not exactly sure how to comment on this other than to state the facts. The K&T tour size is 30 people- we had that many on our departure and it was fine. While B, SA, Z maxes out at 20 people, there were only 15 on our departure and that was fine too.

    We just jump for joy when we think about this tour!

  • edited June 2019

    There are tons (over 1000 more) but I don't want to spoil the trip any any more than I have so will only post photos when appropriate in response to questions. :) .

  • Let me answer some. The train ride, almost all just wore t shirts, it is casual. If you go on the website for the train ride, you see pics of cute people in long dresses, this is not reality. Don’t waste any suitcase space for special clothing for the train ride.
    Tripods, I don’t think I have seen anyone with tripods on any of our Africa tours.
    I vaguely remember that when we flew from Moan to SA it was back to reality re liquids and so on, perhaps Alan can confirm?
    Have always taken lots of Safari clothing on my tours, they always fit easily in the large duffel. I never take a camera bag,I use it it in a cloth drawstring bag and put it in my backpack, it has never been damaged even when I put it in the floor of the vehicle in my fold up day backpack. I travel light but with lots and lots of lightweight things.

  • edited June 2019

    There doesn't seem to be a "quote" feature, so I will copy and paste your questions and add my answers.

    ". . . I have read that the 3 ounce rule applies on the smaller flights. Does this apply to carry-ons only? Can we pack larger amounts of liquids in the duffel bags? Can we each take a bag pack and a camera bag on the smaller flights?"

    There may have been the typical 3 oz. restriction, but I don't remember. Our duffles were never inspected during the short flights (on small Cessa Grand Caravan aircraft) between Kasane, the camps, and Maun. Only Kasane and Maun had airports with terminals, all others were dirts strips. The last flight from Maun to Capetown was on a scheduled airline (subsidiary of SAA) and on a jet (AVRO RJ85, a small jet, but with 4 engines!). In Maun, before our flight to Cape Town, we and other randomly selected people had to open our duffles for inspection. Our carry-ons were scanned but I don't believe anyone had those inspected.

    Though a much smaller town than Maun, Kasane had a nice new terminal:

    The "Transit Lounge" at the Eagle Island airstrip. :D

    "Can you be specific about your packing? I.E. how many slacks, how many shirts? Was there anything you packed you should have left at home? Was there anything you did not take you wish you had taken? I have t shirts for each of us and a long sleeved shirt to wear over them so we can take them off if we get warm."

    Remember we arrived almost 3 days early, had pre-tour activities planned, and I always pack worst case- I'm sloppy. But, In view of the good/free laundry service in the camps (and coming mid-tour) and even though everything fit in a standard suitcase with a total weight of 44 lbs, I over-packed! I took 8-10 shirts (6 were safari style), 6-8 pr. tan/green undershirts, enough underwear and socks for the entire 14 days, 4 pr. safari pants, 2 pr. khaki's, 1 pr. jeans, 1 pr. tennis shoes (Merrills), 1 pr. regular shoes (Rockports), buff (used as an ascot for warmth during EVERY morning and evening game drive), sleeveless safari vest, Tilley hat, folding raincoat (did not use), lightweight wind breaker (used a few times), disposable rain poncho (intended for use at the falls but did not use). I used packing cubes so did not break up clothing much before we switched to duffles, however khakis, jeans, regular shirts, and shoes, went in our luggage into storage in Maun when we switched to duffles. When we were reunited with our main luggage my wife and I did not consolidate or repack as some did in Maun so we had 4 checked bags for the flight to Cape Town. This eliminates any danger of a single bag being overweight! I carried my camera gear, headphones, and misc. in my safari bag (man-purse :) )

    "What did you wear to the dinner on the train and in cape town?"

    Welcome dinner on the train and farewell in Cape Town. I wore khakis and a long sleeve Oxford shirt to the welcome and khakis and a short sleeve Oxford shirt to the farewell- no jacket or tie. Everyone wore casual or "smart casual." Our TD (on right in first pic) and one or two others wore jackets, however. I can't be certain if anyone else other than TD wore a tie. The TD did not wear a jacket to the farewell. Clothes worn by the ladies in the photos were typical.

    "What specific photo equipment did you use? What lens did you use the most? Your photos are beautiful...We just got home from Yellowstone and the bad lands...I kept a 28-135 on my camera and Steve kept a 100-400 on his. We found it worked pretty well for us. He could get the far away shots and i could get the close ups. We have 70-200 we planned to take for me. Do you think it is necessary? Any advice is greatly appreciated. I bought both of us a photographers vest to help carry equipment instead of lugging around those camera bags. did you use a mono-pod or a tripod? We planned to bring both."

    Canon SL1 (100D) DSLR (APS-C) (I like the slightly smaller size of this camera) with Tamron 16-300 mm lens*, spare battery, charger, GoPro, spare batteries, charger, pole, flexible (ball & socket) mini (4" - 6"?) tripod. I spread the legs and set it low to the ground and used it to shoot close-up videos of the meerkats. It worked great. I attempted to upload a video to the forum but videos are not supported. The safari vehicles in Botswana are not like those on K&T. They don't have sides nor pop-up tops. I would leave both your tripod and mono-pod home, Frankly, there is just no time or place to use them. You are not permitted to leave the vehicles if large animals are around. There is no room nor place to set them up in the vehicles.

    *I have been using the Tamron lens exclusively at home and on tour for several years now. Only rarely do I wish it would go up to 400 mm. The 16 mm allows very wide angle shots for everything close. Several years ago I had two bodies w/different lenses so I wouldn't need to swap lenses in the dusty environment on K&T. It was much dustier in Botswana than on K&T. I started to seriously wonder about my ability to and ease (hassle) of wrestling two cameras when I read here about the Tamron. I got one, took only one camera body and lens on K&T, and have never looked back- I keep it simple now. Other than an occasional iPhone photo taken by my wife, usually for a quick upload to Facebook, I take all the photos. Thanks.

  • Wow Alan, your group were very dressy, our group was the complete opposite! You see, there is never a standard answer that is correct.

  • Where did my post go?????? Arrrrrgh!!!!!!!!!

  • edited June 2019

    Well, even though it says I have an hour to edit my last short post, it is not true. It says I need the "Vanilla Comments Edit permission" to do that, whatever that means! Arrrgggh!

    CathyandSteve- Sorry, I posted a detailed, lengthy response to your questions with photos but the forum software gobbled it up into bit heaven. Once and if I cool down and am calm again I may post a Readers Digest version

  • edited September 2019

    You may want to pack something nice for the Cape Town part of the tour, its a fancy hotel. Otherwise most people shower and change into clean Safari clothes for dinner and then wear those the next day. It’s good to cover up in the evenings for mosquito protection. It saves using more of that nasty Deet, that can make you feel sick and woozy if you overuse it. In fact, that may be what some people mistake for reaction to Mosquito meds.

  • edited June 2019

    Tauck Tim to the rescue!!! It appears the software gremlins did indeed attack and delete my post, but Tauck Tim found and restored it, photos and all. Yippee!!

    cathyandsteve- just scroll up and you'll see my post. My answers follow your questions.

  • edited September 2019

    Cathy, you can take one large suitcase each. But I can fit almost everything from my large suitcase into my duffel. I don’t take that as my main luggage because it has no wheels. We take one suitcase each.

  • As British said, one suitcase for each! :) Remember that is how you are billed! :)

    When we downsized to duffles, except for the items I mentioned, I basically just moved my packing cubes and dopp kit from my suitcase to the duffle- easy, peasy. FYI, on K&T when we switched to duffles before heading to the Serengeti and the Mara my wife and I shared just ONE duffle. Granted that was for only 3 days each time, not six.

  • We did the elephant ride and both big cat encounters (Mikuni Big 5 combo package) in one morning. Pickup by van at the Royal Livingstone was at 7:00 (6:30 during their summer). It was only a 5 - 10 min. drive to their main area, where we paid, completed liability waivers, were offered juice or water, no breakfast (some other activities/packages include a light breakfast. We had tea and grabbed a roll, etc. at the Royal Livingstone bar before we left). The group was nice and small- four people in our group plus another couple. We were introduced to the staff, then boarded a vehicle for a short ride to their nearby elephant area which was in the bush just down, but not visible from the road. After that we were taken back to the main area for the cheetah meet & greet and walk through the bush. The other encounter, in another area, followed. As expected, to avoid unwanted animal interactions, each area was completely separated from the others by distance and bush. Everything was well organized and professional. The many, many photos they took with our cameras and the optional video were well done. The whole experience truly exceeded my expectations. According to the time stamps on my photos we finished the last animal encounter by around 10:45, returned to the main area to pay for the video and then were transported in the van back to the Royal Livingstone, arriving between 11:00 - 11:30. Though the four of us could have spent more time at each activity the amount of time and pacing was just about right. Mikuni also offers individual activities at other times. The combo package is only available in the morning (before it gets hot.)

  • edited June 2019

    Many in our group wore safari clothes to some degree in Cape Town, but not full safari attire. Just like during safari days when some people would mix in regular shirts/blouses, sweaters, etc. they might wear selected safari items in Cape Town. Remember, any safari items worn but not washed will likely be fairly dusty- one reason packing cubes with two (front/back) pouches came in handy- I could totally isolate the dirty/dusty items from clean ones in the same cube.

    The extremes of temperature were not as great in Cape Town since it has a maritime climate. It doesn't get as cold there, but since it is much further south it doesn't get as warm, either- very much like the California coast in the winter. Layering is still important, but not as much. The coldest day was the last full day when we had intermittent fog / rain and some wind. We traveled by motor coach along the west coast to the tip of the Cape Peninsula then up the east coast to Simon's Town for a boat trip to Seal Island. The weather was iffy and seas less than calm, so we didn't know until we got there whether the boat trip would be a go. The boat had a semi-open cabin and limited seating so a few of our group of 15 were partially exposed to the wind and intermittent rain- it was cold and damp so layering was important that day.

    We were provided a sack snack before leaving Camp Kalahari then served a light meal on the flight. Our flight to Cape Town was delayed departing Maun, so since we arrived at the One&Only late with limited time to seek a place and eat out on our own, our TD arranged (and paid) for us to eat dinner at Ruebens in the Hotel.

    In case you or your husband are concerned about all the shopping opportunities in the nearby Victoria & Afred Waterfront mall(s) (plural), there is no need to worry! :D

  • Here are some of my favorites from this tour.




  • edited June 2019

    British we had a big encounter with the wild dogs too.

    We just "jump for joy" thinking about the tour. :)

    I'll see your meerkats and raise you two: :p It looks like it was a bit warmer for you on meerkat morning!

    Oops, I already posted those pics. Oh, well, can't get enough of those little guys!

    p.s. I got to sleep you know where.


  • T-shirts on the train was not our experience.

  • Hi Sealord, I see you had Susan as your tour director

  • Alan S I have accidentally blocked you from the private conversations. How do I get you back on my list?

  • ???? Try sending a PM to Tauck Tim. He monitors his PM's.

  • The head gear apparently changes from trip to trip.

  • This was our attire for the train dinner. Most people were dressed in a similar way.

  • edited June 2019

    We are on the June 29th B,SA,Z trip and are getting very excited. Thank you so much for the detailed information!

    Is there any chance to see the African penguins at Boulders Beach or do we have to do that on our own time?

    Did you have post tour days in Cape Town? If so, what activities did you do? We have two days post trip and are trying to decide what activities to book.

  • edited June 2019

    Boulders Beach and the penguin colony are quite a drive from Cape Town- Google Maps says 1 hr 15 by car one way. It is on the east side of the Peninsula, on the southeast edge of Simon's Town, so there is not enough time in the schedule on tour days. We saw the penguins on Seal Island during the boat excursion from Simon's Town. You can also see the penguins at the aquarium which is right next to the One&Only. It is an understatement when people say it is a "nice" aquarium- it is an outstanding aquarium. You can get up close to the penguins and if you plan your visit, you can watch them at feeding time.

    We had two pre-tour days in Livingstone, but no post-tour days in Cape Town. However, our Delta/KLM flight wasn't scheduled to depart until 11:05 pm so we essentially had the whole day to do stuff (checked out mid-morning and left our bags with the concierge. That morning is when we went to the aquarium. We had previously booked a full Peninsula helicopter flight for the afternoon. Due to the weather it was touch and go whether we would be able to do it so I called Cape Town Helicopters and suggested an earlier flight which they were able to accommodate. Even so, it was touch and go some of the time but we were able to fly the entire route. We could actually see Cape Point light house better from the air than from the ground the previous day. On that day the boat trip was iffy due to weather and waves, but we were able to make it out to Seal Island. Just be aware that weather can be bad this time of year (winter in SA).

  • When we took this tour the weather was too bad to do the boat ride, see the seals and so on, so they took us to see the penguins instead We had already been there on another African tour but we did not mind because it’s a fun place. One of my favorites in CapeTown is the Christian Barnard heart transplant museum

  • We are actually hoping for rough seas so we can see the penguins rather than Seal Island. LOL! We have seen plenty of seals in Alaska and where we live in California, but we have never seen African penguins. We will definitely add the aquarium to our list for our departure day and the heart transplant museum. Thanks for the recommendations!

  • Luvs2. Re Transplant museum. We were on the Elegant South Africa tour when we went there staying at the Cape Grace—-one of our favorite hotels by the way. The museum ticket included being picked up from the hotel by car. They stop on the way to show you where the girl who's Heart was used for the first transplant was knocked down crossing the road with her mother The actual two operating theaters are featured plus a dummy of the patient and all his hospital charts. If you are in the medical field you will find it even more awesome. It still smells like OR’s do and took me right back to when I worked in the OR assisting at C Sections.

    Kirstenbosch gardens also excellent. Great Souvenir shop there too.

  • edited July 2019

    There is a Craft warehouse near the One and Only that has crafts that are superior to the regular souvenir shops. For example the decorated ostrich eggs that I am partial to were of a much better quality of painting.

  • British...We are both engineers, so at least we are science people but not in the medical field. Kirstenbosch Gardens is on our list for sure. When I click the gardens on the Tauck app, it says "the K. Gardens are included in your itinerary", but I don't see them listed anywhere in the daily info which is weird. Thanks for the tip regarding the crafts warehouse near the One & Only. This is all very helpful!

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