With 2024 approaching, it’s only right that we all are looking back at our 2023 highlight reel and foremost on mine is definitely being hosted by Adventures By Disney in South Africa.
In mid-August, I joined a group of media and influencers on for a trip I will honestly never forget. Adventures By Disney South Africa introduced me to my first experience in Africa and I can truly say it changed me for the better. For those of you who are considering taking the same trip — I’ll give you a short rundown on the details.
For 2024, the trip is priced starting at 11,099 for ten days in South Africa. This includes accommodations, most meals and three internal flights. Our group ranged in age from families, traveling with kids as young as 7 and we had a few more senior folks among the members of the press. While we did quite a bit of walking and hiking, the Adventure doesn’t require too much physical exertion, but we did stay on the go from early in the morning until around 8-9pm every night. Check the weather and even if it says 60 degrees, pack layers. If you have any questions about this trip feel free to hit me up! You can find me on IG @janeebolden and I’m open to answering any questions you might have. Book an Adventures By Disney South Africa trip for 2024 HERE
1. Cape Town: Adventures Orientation
Our adventure began in Cape Town, where we were met at the Table Bay Hotel by our adventure guides, Craig Ziman and Jameel Mohideen. These two were honestly one of the biggest highlights of the trip. Native South Africans, Craig and Jameel shared an immense love for their country and they reflected the same kindness and generosity we found at every stop. They assured us from the start to let them know of any questions or issues they might have and promised they’d be sprinkling some Disney magic throughout the trip.
2. Adventures By Disney South Africa: Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden
The weather in Capetown didn’t allow for a visit to Table Mountain because it was too windy to use the aerial cableway, but we were able to take in the natural beauty at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden instead. Craig and Jameel gave us a history lesson on District Six during our coach ride before arriving for an authentic Malay lunch, where we met with a former resident of District Six. From the beginning, Craig and Jameel were upfront about South Africa’s history of apartheid and they even read parts of a kid-friendly Nelson Mandela biography during all of our coach rides.
3. Adventures By Disney in South Africa: GOLD Restaurant
Our first dinner in Cape Town was at a restaurant called GOLD which made for one of the most memorable meals during the trip. They brought out course after course of food, served family style, so much deliciousness. We even got the opportunity to drum along with performances from the most wonderfully dressed entertainers.
4. Adventures By Disney South Africa: GOLD Restaurant
I brought one of my good friends, New Orleans writer and artist Monique Lorden — and by the end of the trip, we were more like sisters! The staff at GOLD painted everyone’s faces and Monique and I were huge fans of our new looks.
5. Adventures By Disney South Africa: Cape Of Good Hope
The next day in Cape Town we took the coach to the Cape of Good Hope. In case your geography is a little rusty, this is the most southwestern point on the continent of Africa. It was super windy here — for anyone thinking of going to South Africa in August, I highly suggest packing a warm jacket. I thought I’d be fine with hoodies and sweaters but ended up buying something warmer while we were traveling.
6. Adventures By Disney South Africa: Cape Point
We continued taking in the beautiful coastline views with a drive to Cape Point. Normally you can take the Flying Dutchman Funicular to the lighthouse at the top, but load-shedding was starting when we arrived so we had a nice hike up the slope.
7. Adventures By Disney South Africa: Cape Town
We had quite a few baboon sightings during our time in Cape Town, usually by the side of the road from our coach windows. As cute and cuddly as the babies look here, Craig warned us to avoid keeping open food on us while we were outside and explained that they could be very dangerous.
8. Adventures By Disney in South Africa
After enjoying a seafood lunch with a view of the sea, we went to Boulders Beach to see the penguins. The beach was overflowing with them!
9. Adventures By Disney in South Africa: Spiers Wine Farm
On our final day in Cape Town, we took the coach to the countryside town of Stellanbosch. Our first stop was at the award-winning Spier Wine Farm, one of South Africa’s oldest wineries, where we got the chance to experience its wildlife rehabilitation and conservation center. We immediately headed to the center’s Eagle Encounters show where we had birds fly on our hand-held perches and (lucky me) some of our heads!
10. Adventures By Disney: Stellanbosch
After the excitement, it was time for an epic feast at the Stellanbosch vineyard where we were surprised by none other than Christo Brand. Brand is the author of Doing Life With Mandela: My Prisoner, My Friend.
He told us the story of how he met Nelson Mandela at Robben Island, where he worked as a prison guard, and how their friendship evolved. Of course, the experience is more layered than what could be relayed at lunch, so for more details get the book!
11. Adventures By Disney: Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary
Our adventure next took us back to the Cape Town airport where we caught a short flight to George, for the Garden District portion of our voyage. With our luggage safely off to our resort, we headed straight to Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary for a guided walking safari. This was our first glimpse at the majestic big cats of the world, including lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, and more. Jukani is a forever home for big cats that have been rescued and are now free to explore a large natural habitat that was built around their needs.
12. Adventures By Disney South Africa: Birds Of Eden
The weather was sunny and beautiful during our lunch at the Bramon wine estate. We had a perfect few hours of enjoying our vineyard view and chatting while we enjoyed lunch, but we had two more very important stops before checking into the hotel. The first was at the Birds of Eden sanctuary, which houses a large collection of bird species that fly free under its netted dome.
13. Adventures By Disney South Africa: Birds Of Eden
I had to share this photo of our Birds of Eden tour guide Eric, with Monique and me. He made sure to let us know the name of every bird we saw and he had a great sense of humor. We met a lot of guides during this trip and they were all very kind, but Eric had a big big personality that was truly unforgettable.
14. Adventures By Disney South Africa: Monkeyland
From the time we arrived in Cape Town, our guides kept referring to our inevitable encounter with what they affectionately dubbed “fuzzy little jerks,” and on our first day in Knysna we finally got up close and personal with the FLJs — which happened to be lemurs, gibbons, capuchins and more! Monkeyland is actually the world’s first primate sanctuary. The space is home to 18 species of primates with 11 roaming free in a high canopy forest.
15. Adventures By Disney South Africa: Pezula Hotel
We stayed at the Pezula Hotel in Knysna and I haven’t been able to get this place off my mind for several reasons. For one thing, the rooms are basically mini-lodges with fireplaces, huge balconies, and walk-in closets. Waking up to the sunrise here was unforgettable. I also had a great massage at the spa — but literally, the view is what sold me.
16. Adventures By Disney South Africa: Featherbed Nature Reserve
Our second day in Knysna was one of my favorite experiences from the entire trip. We boarded a ferry to cross the Knysna Lagoon. To get to the top of Featherbed Nature Reserve known for its two sandstone cliffs—the Knysna Heads, we had to board a 4-wheel drive Unimog, but the fun part was actually taking in the breathtaking views on our hike down. Monique and I took a few photos with our walking sticks at the beginning of the hike.
17. Adventures By Disney South Africa: Kapama Game Reserve
After this day at Featherbed, I will forever think of this place when I hear the term “God’s Green Earth.” The natural beauty was just so incredible as we hiked through the lush reserve.
18. Adventures By Disney South Africa: Featherbed Nature Reserve
Fortunately, we worked up a big appetite because our hike ended at this incredible buffet. Everything was so delicious, but my favorites were the chicken and a vegetable soup that gets my mouth watering every time I think of it. I’d also encourage you to try new things. Roboois tea is a staple there, but they have a pretty good canned peach iced tea also. I really loved this drink they called Appletizer (basically like carbonated apple juice) and of course, I have to mention that South Africa is also known for their Pinotage wine variety.
19. Adventures By Disney South Africa: Kapama Game Reserve
These oysters served fresh out of the ocean were another standout. Best oysters I’ve ever had!
20. Adventures By Disney South Africa: Charter Flight To Hoedspruit
The following morning we headed to Hoedspruit from the George Airport. This charter flight was one of the three internal flights included in the cost of the trip. Monique and I wore black and white in hopes of having a zebra sighting since we were headed to Kapama Game Reserve.
21. Adventures By Disney South Africa: Kapama Game Reserve
After landing at Hoedspruit, Monique and I were assigned to group Nala (all of the groups were named after Lion King characters), and our ranger Phillip met us at the airport and took us for an abbreviated game drive on our way to the resort. We immediately saw antelope, but he also showed us how he did his tracking work, stopping at one point to examine a pile of dung that he told us belonged to a female rhino.
22. Adventures By Disney South Africa: Kapama Game Reserve
After getting settled in our rooms, we headed out on our evening game drive with Phillip and our tracker Last. We were declared lucky when we had a leopard sighting on our first drive. Catching a photo of a leopard isn’t easy by any means. We had to drive into the bush to catch up, which meant lots of ducking to avoid being hit by branches. We also saw a group of lionesses, but we were asked not to brag about our sightings because the other groups might not have had our luck.
23. Adventures By Disney South Africa: Kapama Game Drive
Our evening game drive ended with a welcome braai, lots of deliciousness was on the menu, including ribs and mussels and salad. There was also a bonfire and the kids in the group were able to toast marshmallows and make s’mores.
24. Adventures By Disney South Africa: Kapama Game Reserve
There was a lot to love about Kapama, from the amazing breakfast spreads to the spa services. We even got an archery lesson (I found out my best sport is something called “Grandpa’s Screwdriver”) but nothing beats seeing baby animals. The little elephants were my favorite.
25. Adventures By Disney South Africa: Kapama Game Reserve
We spent four days at Kapama and most of that time was on our jeep with our ranger and tracker. The last drive was really sad because we didn’t want to go home! After this trip, we made a vow to come back again. It was such a lifechanging experience.
26. Adventures By Disney South Africa
Disney does an incredible job of offering tips for what to bring and what to expect but if I could offer any advice I would say to travel with someone whose company you really enjoy. This trip is a great one for shared memories and I guarantee it will bring you closer to loved ones.