On a cold Thanksgiving morning, my small group arrived at JFK for our flight to Johannesburg. We had a few hours to spare before our flight departed and we were all hungry. It was Thanksgiving after all. With
a few options to choose from, I stepped up to the counter and placed my order. “Could I have a 5-piece order of chicken nuggets and a small fries please?” McDonald’s served a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner that year! It wasn’t long before we boarded our overnight flight to Johannesburg in great anticipation of a South African safari.
It was dusk when we arrived. The realization that I was finally on the continent of Africa hadn’t hit me yet. I couldn’t really “see” the city as I wanted to. The next morning we were back at the airport taking a small commuter flight into Madikwe Game Reserve. I’ve never been on an aircraft so small that I could make eye contact with the captain and he wave back at me! Trying to get a glimpse of Africa, I took a window seat for this short flight. About an hour in, I noticed a small patch of dirt in the middle of the bush. You guessed it! That was the runway! We landed safely and our ranger was there waiting to whisk us away to the lodge. As we drove off into the bush, I knew that THIS was Africa.
We arrived at Mateya Safari Lodge, a luxury, private lodge located in Madikwe Game Reserve. There are only five thatched suites on the entire property and only two were occupied when we arrived. The views are breathtaking, the game is plentiful and the luxury is unsurpassed. For the art lover, Mateya will not disappoint. Original African artwork can be found in each suite.
The immediacy of our South Africa safari began as we toured the lodge. A family of elephants drinking at the watering hole in the distance. I quickly grabbed my camera, zoomed in and took a few shots. Excited as we were, we sat down an amazing freshly prepared lunch. Withing a few hours of arrival, we were back in the jeep with our ranger, officially on safari.
For some, it is the trip of a lifetime. For me, it was the beginning of a love affair with Africa. The views of the South African bush, the hospitality of the people and the love of it’s culture make me return to this destination over and over again.
If you’ve been secretly longing for an African adventure of your own, here are a few reasons to decide to go.
- IT’S AFFORDABLE. With the favorable exchange rate, you can afford a luxury experience in Africa.
- THE WILDLIFE. Game viewing is an experience unlike any other. Your chances of seeing the Big 5 are very, very good.
- DIVERSE EXPERIENCES. Climb the world’s highest sand dunes in Namibia, see Okavango Delta, the world’s largest inland delta, climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, the world’s highest free standing mountain. The list goes on and on and on.