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Trip Report-General Tours- Small Groups Guaranteed

Arlington VA
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161 posts
92 reviews
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Trip Report-General Tours- Small Groups Guaranteed

We are just back from a wonderful trip to SA and Livingstone, Zambia and thought I'd share a few thoughts for those planning a trip. We chose to use General Tours as our tour company as they guarantee small groups no more than sixteen and ours was a group of ten. We usually are independent travelers but wanted some guidance as this was our first trip to SA. What attracted me to the itinerary was it included both two nights in Livingstone to see Victoria Falls, 3 nights at a private game lodge, one night in the Wineland area, 3 nights in Cape Town. We added two pre-tour nights to see Johannesburg/Pretoria on our own. We chose the upgraded luxury accommodation package. The company arranged direct air travel from Zambia to SA as well as a domestic flight from Hoesdpruit to CPT all on SA Airways. These were included in your price. Transfers went smoothly, the local area guides were knowledgeable, the accommodations (Royal Livingstone, Thornybush Main Lodge adjacent to Kruger, La Franschhoek, and Taj) were excellent.

Many activities were together but there was also sufficient time to do things on your own including dinner the three nights in CPT. As a small group it also allowed for some flexibility in the schedule and even some of the wineries and stops we made were a result of group consensus.

We chose to go in June as the water level would be good to see the falls and safari viewing enhanced with less foliage. Though winter time in SA, the weather reminded me of autumn in the mid-Atlantic part of the US. Pack an umbrella for Cape Town though. You will be amazed at the variety of flora as well as the diverse scenery especially in the Cape area. To appreciate the history and complexity of the country be sure to do some pre-travel reading. A visit to this part of the world will definitely make it on your "must return" list.

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Red Oak, Texas
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34 posts
65 reviews
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1. Re: Trip Report-General Tours- Small Groups Guaranteed

HI

Wondered if you could give me some details about Thornybush Main Lodge, we will be going there in Sept. How was the food, I've heard it very good. What wildlife did you see? Accomodations look great also.

There aren't many recent comments on TP.

Looking forward to hearing from you

Debbie

Arlington VA
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161 posts
92 reviews
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2. Re: Trip Report-General Tours- Small Groups Guaranteed

We really enjoyed the Thornybush Main Lodge. The grounds and common areas were large and inviting. Pre-morning drives offered coffee, tea, juices served around a central station with muffins and rusks. When you returned, breakfast was served in the large dining area open to the outdoors. There was a medium size continental buffet including fruits, pastries, cereals, cold cuts and cheeses etc. In addition, you could order a hot breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausages cooked to order. I believe it was around one pm that lunch was available in the same area. Each day a large assortment of salads and hot dishes were served. Then around 3:30 there was tea and pastries served prior to the afternoon game drive.

In the evening we had two nights where boma dinners were served outdoors and one night ala carte off the menu. The steak served a la carte was excellent. At the boma dinners, the variety of meat was different each night. Some cuts were better than others. These included beef, lamb, chicken, ostrich (which we thought was on the chewy side.) A large assortment of side dishes accompanied the meats and were tasty. Desserts were ok. You definitely won't go hungry and I would say overall the food was very good. Wine and other drinks were available on your own account. Your guide would often join you for dinner and provided an opportunity to interact and talk about the drives, the country or whatever.

The rooms were individual stone cottages and quite large. The bathrooms were great and included a deep tub and both indoor and outdoor showers. The balcony was very large and overlooked the river bed for us. Rooms had a minibar, hairdryer, robes and toiletries. Hand laundered services were provided at reasonable cost. No TV's though. Ceiling fans and a heating-a/c unit, though noisy, kept the room comfy as well as individual heated blankets for the bed. WiFi was available in the lounge and as I recall it was free. There is also a nice little gift shop as well as spa, bar, library and outdoor pool. The staff was great.

You are about 35 minutes from Hoedspruit airport and 2.5 hour ride from Nelspruit Mpumalanga airport. Roads into the lodge area are bumpy as you would expect. If you visit in the winter or shoulder seasons, bring gloves and a cap/scarf for the morning drives as it could be cool in the open vehicles. The safari trucks seat ten people plus the tracker and guide. It is a bit of a step up to get into the truck. If someone found this challenging, they could sit up front next to the guide who is also your driver. For our group of ten we had two vehicles so there was just one other couple with us. We saw a lot of animals including the elusive leopard, lions, giraffes, elephants, white rhino, wildebeest, swarthogs, baboons, impala, a hyena and one morning we drove to the opposite end of the park to see hippos-though it was an hour drive to get there and they stayed in the water so you only saw their heads. There are also a lot of thorny bushes so be prepared to duck when the vehicles go off-road!

I definitely would stay there again. Hope this helps. Have a great trip!

Red Oak, Texas
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3. Re: Trip Report-General Tours- Small Groups Guaranteed

thank you so much for such in depth information. great review!

4. Re: Trip Report-General Tours- Small Groups Guaranteed

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