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  • Writer's pictureDon Heyneke

Abramo Family Safari

Updated: May 21, 2020

In April, we were delighted to host the Abramo family on their very first safari escape to South Africa. It once again proved to be an unforgettable experience for the family and for the Escape team. This fun and vibrant family from New York, brought joy to the experience and they made sure to embrace every moment.

Their holiday began in the comfort of the Westcliff Hotel in Johannesburg. I know that a lot of travellers avoid Johannesburg due to the negative press which it surrounds it. With any city across the globe, there are areas to avoid and then there are areas that one should definitely see. Therefore, I traveled with Abramo's to help facilitate the experience and guide them through each area to give them a better understanding. Like the Abramo family, Johannesburg is full of vibrancy, colour and it has an interesting history which the family embraced.

The Vibrancy of Vilakazi Street in Soweto

I strongly feel that if you want to understand a country or its culture, you need to meet its people, taste its food and experience the history. That is why we felt that the perfect start of our tour of Johannesburg would be in the South Western Townships also known as Soweto. While in Soweto we visited the Hector Pieterson memorial.

Hector Pieterson Memorial

We wandered through the famous Vilakazi Street, which is the heart of the world famous township and it is where Nelson Mandela spent the first few nights upon his release after 27 years of imprisonment. It is here that he spent time with his former wife, Winnie Mandela. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu lived in Vilakazi street, it is amazing that two Nobel Prize winners lived in the same street. In fact, Tutu, as he is more fondly known, still lives here with his wife Leah, and when he's in town, it is said that he is seen to roams the streets.

Traditional Zulu dancers in Zilakazi Street

After eating a traditional lunch in the heart of Soweto we made our way to the Apartheid Museum. Every time that I visit the museum I am blown away by the exhibit which examines the social and political forces that gave birth to apartheid. It also identifies some of the important political groups that resisted this process. It is an incredibly powerful display and the large photographs displayed within the museum show the process of physical removal and relocation that was a core feature of apartheid which tied into our visit to Vilakazi Street.

The Abramo's on top of Northcliff Hill, Johannesburg

After an amazing day exploring, we ended up on top of Northcliff Hill for sundowners. I spent a portion of my childhood exploring this hill, it has a breathtaking view of Johannesburg and it is the second highest point in the city. Northcliff Hill is also known as Aasvoëlkop (Vulture Ridge) as the cliffs here were predominantly inhabited by these birds of prey before the area surrounding the hill was urbanised. The hill is believed to have been populated by humans for over 250,000 years. It set the scene for the most exciting part of the the Abramo's holiday, a safari at Londolozi.

First afternoon safari at Londolozi with tracker and great friend Life Sibuyi

Londolozi Private Game Reserve is a special place for me and it becomes a special place for everyone who is lucky enough to visit. I was fortunate to guide the Abramo's with a great friend and even better tracker Life Sibuyi. We were granted access into the ancient art of tracking which allowed us to into the world of the African bush. This ancient art of tracking led us to find a pride of 20 lions fast asleep in a dry riverbed.

Pride of 20 lions

Over the 3 nights on safari, we were fortunate to enough to have many unforgettable wildlife sightings, some of which are displayed below:

A female leopard and her two cubs, one of which locks eyes on a hyena walking close by.

10 month old leopard cub

We heard about a sighting nearby of a python which had strangled a young impala, this hard attracted vultures to circle above, drawing the attention of a male lion in the area who then made his way to investigate. On the surprising arrival of the lion, the python slid away safely into a nearby log. After ensuring that there were no predators nearby, the lion cautiously made his way to help himself to the impala.

Over half a century of habituation by trackers and guides this has allowed us to widen the window into the world of a leopard that is normally shy and elusive by nature. Many leopards have now become accustomed to a vehicle and still remain wild in their habits.

The Abramo family were able to take in and appreciate every moment that presented itself whilst out on safari.

Oxpeckers seen flying within a specific area, can often be an indicator that Buffalo, Rhino, Impala, Giraffe are nearby as they feed on the ticks that are found on these animals. Fortunately for us, this led us to find a great heard of buffalo which we spent some time with.

Our afternoon game drives included watching and feeling the warmth of the African setting sun as it disappeared over the Drakensberg mountains, creating a picturesque scene for us to capture.

There is something truly magical about the emotions that are felt when we really allow ourselves to be totally immersed in something new, especially in the wild.

After an emotional departure from Londolozi, the family made their way to the Western Cape where time was spent exploring the beauty of Cape Town. The family stayed at the unique and beautifully decorated, Silo hotel in Cape Town which is positioned near the Waterfront with stunning views over the harbour. We had arranged for our very good friend Josh Searle, to ensure that they had the best possible time there which included many activities such as climbing Lions Head, going to a local brewery, staying at Babylonstoren wine farm and many more.

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