Can you name the big five? No, we’re not talking top college or even sports teams; we’re talking lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and Cape Buffalos. Oh my! These are the majestic animals one hopes to see on safari in Africa. Orinda’s Deanna & Randy Carey recently returned from a 10 day trek to Cape Town, South Africa. “I had been dreaming and planning this trip for five years,” notes Deanna with a grin. “But intermittent dangers such as governmental conflicts, tribal disputes and terrorism delayed our plans.”
The wait was worth it as Carey relates tales of viewing a variety of animals, reptiles and birds up close and personal from the safety of an open land rover, accompanied with an experienced ranger and tracker. “In a private reserve, you are allowed to go off road to view the animals,” adds Carey. At the Lion Sands Private Reserve, the lodge housed 20 large rooms on the banks of the Sabie River, west of Kruger National Park. The day began at 5 a.m. with beverages and pastries and then they were off on a three hour game drive. After numerous pictures were captured it was back to the lodge for a fantastic breakfast and lunch, followed by a second game viewing at twilight. Additional land tours such as wine tasting in Cape Town, a visit to a colony of African penguins at Boulders Beach and some time spent at Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned are also an option.
The Carey’s chose Brendan Tours, after much research into the venture. The “South Africa Journey” covered flights, hotel, private reserve lodge accommodations and transfers, in addition to several land tours.
Another hot spot for Lamorindan’s is Costa Rica. “With zip lines running throughout the jungle canopy, hanging bridges and howler monkeys scampering about the restaurant tables, the kids are in for a real treat,” says Craig Isaacs of Lafayette. Craig, his wife, Margaret and teen daughters Maureen and Eva, loved the exotic flowers and animals, as well as the food. Craig noted that it was helpful that they spoke Spanish. They also appreciated the Costa Rican’s eco-friendly activities and respect for their environment. “To be able to visit the volcano one day and lounge on the beach the next,” reminisces Craig, “that’s living!”
Being in the tech business, Craig relied on the internet for his travel planning, purchasing airfare and lodging on the web. He said that www.arenal.net was helpful for finding hotels and pick up at the airport during the busy Winter Break travel time and lamented that he had less than four months to put together the trip.
The Kennedy family of Walnut Creek had tired of the Hawaiian Spring Break get-away and wanted an adventure travel trip. “We worked with Costa Rica Expeditions because we heard it was difficult and sometimes dangerous to attempt this trip on your own,” offers Sherry. The family of four visited the Finca Rosa Blanca coffee plantation and the Poaz Volcano and waterfall, among other places. They took a tour bus through a cloud forest and were amazed at the cold and humid variations within the numerous micro climates. One of the highlights was the Tortuga Rain Forest Preserve and the Tortuga Lodge. “It was right out of Indiana Jones with the monkeys, pythons and bats,” remembers Sherry. “You couldn’t go in the canals because of the bull sharks and eels lurking in the water.” But don’t think they were roughing it. Their vacation wrapped up in relaxing Punta Islita on the West Coast of Costa Rica where their hotel offered individual, infinity-edged dipping pools.