Global Discovery Vacations Review: Safari Bonanza in South Africa

Here’s a Member Monday-first: South Africa! Members Michael and Diane M. already had a safari planned, so they added on a couple weeks with their Global Discovery Vacations membership. We’re glad they did – or else we wouldn’t have been able to see all of these amazing animals!

Where would you recommend a fellow member to go to…
Eat:
We ate at the resort restaurant for dinner and bought bread and jam for breakfast at the shop on the property. The restaurant is nice and serves local fare – we had fish, spaghetti, chicken and beef. The food is different than in the United States so we stayed open to the different tastes. Surprisingly the pizza and salads were very good.

We also ate in local towns when we were driving the panorama route. This is a tourist area so there are generally many restaurants in town and you can just look at the menus.

Shop:

Have fun/attractions:
Prior to coming to our first Global property, Crystal Springs Lodge, we stayed at a guest house near Kruger Park, which is about three hours from Crystal Springs.

Kruger National Park is a must see. Kruger covers over 20,000 kilometers and is home to many varied species of plants and animals living in their natural habitat. You can take a guided day safari ride, which we did the first day, or you can drive the roads yourself, which we did for three days.

The wildlife and plants are incredible and the numbers of animals amazing. We saw large herds of water buffalo, wildebeest, elephants and impalas. But we also saw lions, rhinos, hippos, leopard and many, many others. The park has rest areas with food and restrooms along the route.

To see the wildlife in their native habitat was a truly incredible experience.

What was your favorite…
Resort/Condo Amenity:
We traveled in early August for a month. The first Global property we stayed at was Crystal Springs Lodge near Pilgrim’s Rest, South Africa. The resort is in the mountains and you definitely need a car to get there and get around. South Africa drives on the left side of the road, so it does make it challenging. You don’t want to drive at night, so we made sure we had plenty of time to get to the resort. The roads are generally good but passing is a little different and takes some getting used to.

Sunset from deck of chalet at Crystals Springs.

If you are looking for an American resort, you will not find it at Crystal Springs. But the place was great. We were in a two bedroom chalet with a kitchen and living room that has a beautiful outside deck overlooking this mountain area.

We were lucky to have a great view from our deck, but most of the chalets have a similar view. August is winter in South Africa, so it did get cool at night, but most days were in the 70s or low 80s – beautiful. And there were hardly any bugs!

The chalet is heated by a large fireplace in the middle of the living room. You are supplied wood and fire starters for each night. It has been a long while since we have had a wood fire, so it was very nice and needed for warmth.

Place to go in the destination:
Crystal Springs has four to five hikes on the property and, since the area is in a nature preserve, you can see many animals on your hike. We took two beautiful hikes and saw baboons (they are on the grounds also), zebra, wildebeest, bush pigs, kudu, and waterbuck to name most of the animals we saw. We also took many pictures of birds from our deck. There are many unique birds in the area.

The Knuckles on the Panorama Route.

In addition to the hikes, we traveled the Panorama Route because of many beautiful natural sites. These mountains are some of the oldest in the world so there are some very unique formations. Blyde River Canyon was beautiful along with “The Knuckles,” which are waterfalls and very beautiful rock formations created by the river and falls.

We also visited Sudwala Caves, which is the oldest cave in the world with huge stalactites and stalagmites. Beautiful. The historic town of Pilgrim’s Rest is nearby and was created during the gold rush. It’s an interesting place with many local people selling local handmade crafts. This can be a little difficult as there is high unemployment and this is how locals can earn money.

Why did you choose this destination? Were you traveling for a special occasion?
My wife and I traveled to South Africa in August of 2017. We had won an auction for a safari in South Africa and decided to add Global properties (Crystal Springs, Little Eden) to extend our stay.

What was your favorite memory of your vacation?

Vendors at Blyde Canyon.

Driving through South Africa, we had a chance to see some of the local life including the housing, stores and people. We saw many people walking for some distance, cows and goats on the roads, cement houses and some shanty towns. South Africa is truly a unique experience and with an open attitude it can be a trip of a lifetime.

Our Global properties were a great addition to our South Africa trip.

About you 

How long have you been a Global Discovery Vacations member?
We have been Global members for about 10 years and currently have eight stars.

How many trips have you taken using your membership?
We have taken many great trips throughout the country and usually travel four to five weeks a year.

Photos courtesy Michael and Diane M.

Corey is a writer from Overland Park, KS, and has been with Global Discovery Vacations since September 2013. Once a sportswriter, he traveled the country and became proficient in airport security line etiquette and leaving items in hotel rooms.