Acendas Vacations

The Third Time is a Charm

(NOTE: In early May of 2024, Acendas Travel Brent Blake traveled to Africa on a 14-day trip as part of a 75-person group who were associated with the Signature Travel Network. The trip had two phases, the first featuring visits to Johannesburg, South Africa, and various regions of Botswana and Zimbabwe. The second phase was travel to Capetown, South Africa. The blog below focuses on phase one. It was arranged by &Beyond, an experiential travel company based in Africa.) 

Africa had long been on my bucket list of travel destinations, but two cancellations due to the Covid-19 pandemic had me thinking it just wasn’t meant to be. However, thanks to our relationship with Signature Travel Network and Africa-based travel company &Beyond, my dream was finally fulfilled. 

To eliminate any suspense, I am not sure any superlative(s) I use can do justice to the experience. The people were hospitable and gracious, our lodging was at four and five-star levels, the food was excellent, and the overall value was outstanding. It was just spectacular. My only disappointment is that I was not able to make the journey earlier in my life. 

 After a night in Johannesburg, we flew to Botswana, where decked out in safari garb, we transferred to a 12-passenger bush plane. We traversed the 135,000-square acre delta where below us elephants, zebras and antelope roamed the vast open expanse. Upon landing, we boarded open-air Jeeps for a game drive which gave us an up-close and personal view of the land and its animal inhabitants.  

Out in the Wild

We arrived at the lodge for what was my favorite part of the trip. We spent two nights at the Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodges. The accommodations were awe-inspiring as each unit featured three permanent walls, with the fourth a sliding covering that opened to a deck, small dipping pool and breathtaking sights. One morning as I looked out over the bush country, two elephants walked within 10 yards of me as they partook in a breakfast of leaves. Our instructions were whenever we came close to animals, we were to stop and let them do their thing, after which they moved on. 

Our days consisted of a morning game drive, afternoons back at the lodge and then an evening game drive. It was in the evening when the real adventure arose. This was the time when predators went on the hunt. We followed a small pack of lions, about 30 yards in front of us, when suddenly they broke off in different directions for their prey. As we later caught up with them, they were devouring a water buffalo. Interestingly, because Jeeps are a common sight and our smell is not that of a predator, the lions showed no concern for us.   

The Amazing Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls

It was onto Zimbabwe where there was more elevation in the terrain and lush vegetation. We were traveling along the Zambesi River, the fourth-largest river in Africa which eventually ends in the Indian Ocean. The separation between the upper and lower Zambesi is the impressive Victoria Falls. Its combined height and width make it the largest waterfall in the world. We took a helicopter ride over the falls to view what seemed like an endless, Grand Canyon-esque drop. It was exhilarating. 

In Zimbabwe, the game drives were on roads that were more defined because the space was not as open because of the lush, forested land. Our treks to view the animals were targeted to specific species based on habitat. 

Something for Everyone

The six-day journey went by quickly, but certainly gave us a lifetime of memories. It also dispelled some myths about travel to this region. It can certainly be made to be luxurious. But one can also go for a lesser investment and experience a more rugged adventure. It is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. 

Would I go back? In a heartbeat!