An Amazing Out of Africa Experience

This morning 3 identical Mercedes Sprinters were allowed through the hotel gates to pick up our group. We were comfortable as we set out on a 3 hour tour. The first stop was The Giraffe Center. We were instructed to wash our hands before entering, and given small bowls of pellets in which to feed the giraffes. Imagine being on a very high platform , eye to eye with these gentle giants and dropping pellets onto their very long purplish tongues. It. The adults seemed to be more excited than the children there on a field trip.
The next stop was at the Karen Blixen Museum. She was the coffee farmer that achieved world fame through her memoir, “Out of Africa”. Her home has been preserved as a museum.

After lunch at the Talisman Restaurant, I told the drivers to step on it. We had a 3 o’clock appointment at the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage. We couldn’t be late otherwise we would not be allowed in. This was a private visit just for us. The dedicated team takes care of these orphaned baby elephants around the clock. They each have their own bedroom and a team member actually sleeps with them. The group had time to interact and play with the elephants; all with different personalities. We were given the opportunity to adopt an orphaned elephant. Today was definitely a highlight and the best is yet to come.

Fairmont The Norfolk, She’s Iconic

Our farewell dinner at Baia in Cape Town was definitely the ticket. The next morning I said goodbye to the group as I prepared to fly to Nairobi, Kenya to meet the next group and my South Africa folks flew home to the states. I flew Kenya Airways Business Class. It reminded me of Southwest Airlines. I wasn’t thrilled but so thankful I was not in their economy. It was a 6 hr flight with a 45 min stop in Livingstone. When I walked off the plane there were 2 greeters; one had a sign with my name…that made me smile. He escorted me to the vaccination booth where they wanted to see my QR code of all my doses. It was quick, then he escorted me to The Diplomat’s line to present my Visa. He collected my 20lb soft side bag and escorted me outside to a rep who called my driver. 20 mins later I arrived at Hotel Fairmont, The Norfolk. She’s 5 star old world charm and elegance from the 19th century. After checking in, I hooked up with Kellea Woods and we made our way to the 24 hr bar to get a bite. We both agreed Robbie Bell would love this place and instructing the bartender on how to make a perfect gimlet.

There are 14 in the group who would be arriving later and some the next day. It was good to see Dessie again and to meet Pam.
The next morning I skipped breakfast, Kellea & I enjoyed a lunch of a Chicken Caesar salad and perfectly seasoned lamb chops. A short rest and then to the Spa for 90 mins of aromatherapy. Exiting the Spa we discovered security was tight as the newly elected President of Kenya had paid the hotel a visit.

Tomorrow will be a full day of touring Nairobi with visits to the Elephant Orphanage and the Giraffe Center where we can if we desire to; stand on a platform and look eye to eye with one and feed her. The next day we will fly to Elewana Sand River Masai Mara where we will stay in tented accommodations that replicate the heyday of exclusive tented camps of the late 1920’s.

Wine Tasting in the Winelands

Today was spent wine tasting and lunch at Miko’s in Franschhoek at Sir Richard Branson’s Mont Rochelle Wine Estate once owned by a black man, Miko Rwayitare (rip). He is still honored with the restaurant name and signature wines named after him. It was such a beautiful day capped off by celebrating Alisha Jordan’s birthday.
The day would not have been complete had we not paid homage to the Nelson Mandela monument at the Drakenstein Prison (formerly Victor Verster) where Mandela spent his last 18 months under house arrest and where he made his departure with raised fist, walking the Long Walk to Freedom with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. He said, “No Mercedes for me. I’m walking this out”.

Tonight’s farewell dinner was at BAIA SEAFOOD RESTAURANT on the waterfront. It offers Portuguese-influenced seafood cuisine with elegant interior, covered terraces with harbor and mountain views. I offered them bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon & Viognier from France. I paid the beverage tab, bid farewell and made my exit. Tomorrow I head to Kenya and this group returns home. It’s been an absolute wonderful time here in South Africa.

From Joburg to the Cape

They’ve seen zebras, giraffes, and white rhinos. Of course, everyone wants to get a glimpse of the elusive Lion king. Our last morning only Dalicia was up for the 6am morning drive and bingo banging she was able to see a lion and a pregnant lioness. You know how it goes; you snooze, you lose…literally.
That morning by 9 am we were en route by Motorcoach back to Johannesburg for our flight to Cape Town. Upon arrival it was such a good feeling to be greeted by my longtime guide, Desmond De La Cruz.

We said hello to Obama’s and Mandela’s favorite hotel; TABLE BAY. We fast tracked to our welcome dinner just for us and it was fabulous. I introduced the red wine drinkers to South Africa’s PINOTAGE. They loved it.
So far, the new Kat Trackers have seen first hand just what Kat is working with.

Joburg, Still Beautiful

My 13th trip to South Africa began in New York a few days ago. We are 33 deep, with 23 flying from the west coast and 10 from JFK. Again, it was a reunion of sorts for the Kattrax family and all excited to be reunited again and eager to meet the new additions. No matter economy or business class with Emirates you’re guaranteed an exceptional flying experience. My business class entitled me to complimentary chauffeur service from my NY hotel to the airport. It was sweet.

All past years our Johannesburg hotel has been The Michaelangelo at Nelson Mandela Square but during the demic it was closed for renovation. This tour we were booked at Davinci Hotel & Suites; still 5 star, still at the Square. Dinner our first evening was at the 5 star Pigalle restaurant. Service, our handpicked menu choices and included wines were on point.
Sadly, our longtime guide Joe passed away last year. I sure miss him but happy he has passed on the baton to his son, TK. He certainly learned from the best. The Joburg city tour which included SOWETO was filled with historical facts about Mandela, apartheid, and the student Uprising of 1976. After visiting Nelson Mandela Museum, we lunched on local fare at iconic Sakhumzi and there were no complaints.

Day 2 the group visited Lesedi Village to get first hand knowledge of 5 cultural tribes which included a sumptuous buffet lunch. I opted out in order to visit the Davinci Spa to get a 90 minute full body and some foot reflexology.

Later, Carol & I had reservations at Pigalle. It was so nice, had to do it twice. After about 30 minutes in walked 7 of the ladies, and then another group of 4 strolled in. That restaurant was certainly a hit for the group.

Tomorrow, a visit to the Apartheid museum and then we will be driven to Shepherd’s Tree Game Lodge for a 2 night stay. Excitement is still high and all eager for a new experience.