Today I want to share a blog post from my friend and our Product Development Manager at Friendly Planet, Judy Poliva. Judy grew up in South Africa, the destination at the center of our Win Wild South Africa Sweepstakes. I asked her to fill us in on what makes South Africa so special and she delivered, so read on. After you’re finished, be sure to enter to win a free trip for two to South Africa on our Facebook page (now closed)!
When we were children growing up in the Johannesburg area, we didn’t realize how lucky we were. We lived within driving distance of the Kruger National Park!
Almost every year during our winter school holidays (July), my parents would pack up the car with supplies, and we would head off on a self-drive safari, for a week or sometimes two. As we got closer to the park, my sisters and I would start practicing game-spotting by looking at the herds of cattle.
But once we entered the park, the competition started in earnest: who could spot the first animal (this was usually an impala), the first giraffe, or a lion! This was a daily, all-day competition, and we never tired of it. On our journey home, we missed being on the constant look out, and the cattle didn’t seem so interesting anymore.
We would be ready at dawn to start out on our game drive as soon as the gate opened. At every rest stop, we listened carefully as travelers shared their stories of what they had seen, so that we could head off there as well. We also had to remember to close all the windows so that the vervet monkeys or baboons didn’t try to steal our things.
If we saw some cars in the distance, we headed in that direction. Or we drove around, hoping to get lucky. At night, we would watch wildlife films in the open-air theatre at the camp or listen to a lecture by a game ranger. We would fall asleep listening to the sounds of roaring lions not too far away, and wake to the gentle coos of the bush doves.
One of the most memorable of my childhood experiences was in the northern region of the Kruger National Park, a more remote area that had only one-lane dirt roads. There was no other car in sight. We came around a corner, and the road dipped down a sharp incline to a dry river bed and then up an equally sharp incline. As we neared the bottom of the dip, an elephant walking along the dry river bed started crossing the road. Then, another and another and another, a seemingly endless stream of these huge, majestic creatures. There must have been more than 10 elephants of all ages.
Suddenly, one of the larger elephants looked in our direction and raised its trunk, flapped its ears, and took a few steps in our direction. My father put the car in reverse and we slowly went back up the hill. My sisters and I were shrieking with a mixture of excitement and fear. The elephants eventually decided we weren’t so interesting after all. They continued their journey, and disappeared into the bush once more. Once again, we were alone on the road.
Check out this week’s Friday Funny from cartoonist Dave Blazek!
If you dream of driving into the African bush in search of the Big Five game or gazing at open grasslands while being treated to warm, welcoming hospitality, then have I got a special treat for you.
We’re giving away a free trip for two on our Facebook page in partnership with South African Tourism and South African Airways to one of the world’s most coveted destinations: South Africa! Breathtaking and magnificent doesn’t even begin to describe the scenery and wildlife travelers experience in South Africa. And you could see it for yourself in person. Just visit our Facebook page, Like us, and enter your information to enter to win this prize, worth up to $5,400!
This prize package includes almost everything two travelers will need as they explore South Africa:
Are you ready for the trip of a lifetime? Can you already picture yourself on safari in South Africa? Well read the full itinerary of the trip and then enter to win. Don’t forget to invite your friends to enter — and make sure they bring you if they win! You also earn an extra entry for every friend that enters through your invite, increasing your chances of winning.
The sweepstakes will close at 11:59 p.m. on October 11, and we’ll announce the winner soon after. Good luck, travelers!
All of us who love to travel and who believe in bucket lists probably have listed South Africa among the most desired of all destinations. In survey after survey, people who love exploring the world mention South Africa as a must-see place, which makes perfect sense. Here are just a few reasons why South Africa should be on your own bucket list right now! And don’t miss your chance to enter to win a free trip for two to South Africa on our Facebook page (now closed)!
#1: It’s affordable.
And do we ever prove that with our all new Taste of South Africa tour, with departures starting at only $1,899 including flights, it’s hard to dispute that this bucket list destination is within the reach of most world travelers.
I recently shared my top 10 must-haves for international travel. In that post, I mentioned that I’d follow it up with a list of items that you might think you need to pack, but aren’t worth the space they take up in your suitcase.
Here’s my list of travel leave-behinds. Keep these items at home, and save some space in your suitcase for souvenirs and travel essentials.
Check out this week’s Friday Funny from cartoonist Dave Blazek!
Among the greatest joys of visiting a new place is the opportunity to get to know the locals. And after 30-plus years of traveling the world, one constant that I’ve found everywhere is that despite how different we look, live, work and play, people are essentially the same everywhere.
I shared a bit about the people of Cuba through the talented lens of award-winning photographer Jeremy Woodhouse in my latest contribution to The Huffington Post. Jeremy has given us special permission to share some of the faces of Cuba he captured on a recent trip with us, and these photos are absolutely breathtaking. Be sure to click over to see them in full.
If you’ve arranged your international vacation months in advance, it can be difficult to know what to do if an incident, such as a protest, strike, or even riot, occurs in your destination close to your departure date. Should you go and “see what happens,” or should you cancel, despite impending penalties, because you want to err on the side of caution?
I cover this topic in my latest contribution to the Huffington Post, and offer my advice for ways to stay safe if you decide to take your trip. Would you add anything to my list? Let me know in a comment below.
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