July 16, 2015
ROBERT REDFORD AND THE LAW OF THE JUNGLE
Garry and Gail Paulson wanted to celebrate their 50th anniversary in a way that they, their three adult children and two spouses, and three grandchildren would always remember.
The retired Saskatoon couple challenged Natasha at Rhodes Less Travelled to come up with a once-in-a-lifetime journey. In August 2014, three generations of the family travelled to South Africa in a remarkable journey that started with a visit to Victoria Falls and two days of cruising among crocodiles on the Zambezi Queen. A short stay at the Saxon Boutique Hotel outside of Johannesburg preceded stays at Camp Jabulani and Londolozi Tree Camp. The family rode elephants, and saw cheetahs, wild dogs, hyenas, lions, rhinos, giraffes, cape buffalo, wild boar, leopards, and monkeys. A four-night stop in Cape was followed by three nights in wine country.
DATE OF TRAVEL
NUMBER OF PEOPLE
7 adults, 3 Children
South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana
SO, GARRY, WHY SOUTH AFRICA?
We wanted something wonderful for our 50th anniversary that our grandchildren would never forget. They were ages 13 to 16 and we knew this might be a last chance for all of us to travel together.
We thought of Europe, but some of us had been before. Castles, churches and museums can become a bit of a blur. A trip there wouldn’t be nearly as memorable as one to Africa.
We worked with Natasha for a year to put the trip to South Africa together. She did a wonderful job and exceeded everyone’s expectations. We’d get to one spot on our itinerary and think that we would never beat it. But the next destination would.
WERE YOUR GRANDCHILDREN AS EXCITED AS YOU ABOUT THE TRIP?
Our 13-year-old grandson was convinced there was no point making plans for September because we were all going to be killed in August. He reads a lot and found articles where a tourist was killed by a lion and another was stomped by an elephant. After a couple of days on the trip, he gave me a hug and said, “I hate to admit it, Grandpa, but I’m really enjoying this.”
SPEAKING OF LAW OF THE JUNGLE, DID YOU HAVE ANY SPECIAL WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS?
After visiting Victoria Falls we boarded the Zambezi Queen on the Chobe River. We could see animals on both shores. Small-boat excursions got us close to hippos and crocodiles. We got so close to some crocodiles that a few of us were a little anxious. But we could see that their stomachs were full and they were content just lying and digesting in the sun!
We all loved Camp Jabulani, named after an 18-year-old elephant, who is still there. We got up close and personal with the elephants. They paired us on the elephants and we went on morning and evening safaris together. Absolutely amazing!
At Landolozi we had the camp to ourselves. They call it a ‘camp’ but it was much more than that. We had six villas, our own chefs, housekeeping staff, bartenders, guides and trackers. We had about 35 people devoted to our group and they really looked after us.
On our last safari, our tracker found a young female cheetah looking for breakfast. We followed her and saw her make a kill. We were only about 15 feet away. She had the neck of an impala in her jaws – the law of the jungle. One had to die so the other could live.
WHAT WAS THE BEST ACCOMMODATION YOU HAD?
In Cape Town Natasha had us booked into Ellerman House. She had also made reservations for us at some of the city’s top restaurants over four nights. When we arrived at our accommodations, we cancelled all our reservations. We didn’t want to leave. It was a huge three-story villa with bedrooms on the top floor. We had our own kitchen, TV room, living room, dining room, and a huge deck overlooking the Atlantic. There was a spa on the lower level and we had the whole place to ourselves. Staff catered to our every need.
We asked our butler if anyone famous had ever stayed there. He handed us a guestbook. We saw that the person who slept in our bedroom before us was Robert Redford. Meryl Streep had been there, as had the Kardashians, Meg Ryan and other Hollywood royalty.
SOUTH AFRICA IS ALSO WINE COUNTRY…
Oh yes, we spent three days in Franschhoek and had some great wine tastings paired with chocolates, nuts and so on. We also had our own complete dining facilities. In the morning the staff would be waiting for us at our table. They’d put out the cold breakfast first, followed by the hot breakfast of our choice.
SO WAS THIS YOUR JOURNEY OF A LIFETIME?
Yes. Every time we get together we talk about the experience and how great it was. These are wonderful memories we all share. Thank you, Natasha!