Countdown to Africa- How This Trip Found Me

Now that we’re retired I really want to go somewhere warm for the entire winter.  My husband, Jim, however, isn’t keen on the idea of being gone for an extended period.  We’ve compromised by taking several shorter trips to warm spots over the cold months.

About the time we decided a cruise of the Hawaiian Islands would cost more than we wanted to spend, I received an email from offering a special deal on a trip to Vuyani Safari Lodge in South Africa.  I told Jim it would cost less to go there for 7 days than a cruise of Hawaii and he said, “Let’s go.”   Check it out at to see where we’re going.

After booking the trip, I watched airfare prices for a while and finally booked a Delta flight from Des Moines to Atlanta, then Atlanta directly to Johannesburg, but the ATL to JNB leg is nearly 16 hours!  More on that later.

Tips for booking airfare:  I use a number of sites like,, and  Each one allows you to set alerts to send you a daily or weekly email with the current price at various airlines and online booking agents for your desired route.  Kayak also has a tool that shows the airfare trend that tells you whether to buy or wait.  When you’ve watched prices long enough to know a good deal when you see one, jump on it before it’s gone.  Then stop looking. If the price goes down, you’ll just feel bad and who needs that? Incidentally, you can also sign up at Airfarewatchdog for their newsletter sent to your email each day showing the best airfares from your selected home airport to all kinds of destinations.  If you just want an inexpensive flight and don’t have a destination in mind, this is a great tool.  That’s how we ended up going to Boston.

We have 2 days in Johannesburg before Vuyani Lodge picks us up and drives us 5 hours northeast to the lodge located just outside Kruger National Park.  We usually like to go off on our own to explore but I’ve read conflicting reports about crime in JoBurg so we’ve selected the safest options for touring the city.  The first day we will do the City Sightseeing JoBurg Hop On Hop Off Red Bus and day 2 we’ll have a tour guide from Themba Day Tours and Safaris show us Soweto.  I checked each of these organizations through Tripadvisor and both show very positive reviews.

Another tip:  I always try to check hotels, restaurants, and sights on  The reviews are submitted by users like me and are very helpful in planning our trips.

If you have favorite tips to share, please post a comment.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about some unusual preparations for this journey.

Categories: Africa, South Africa, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Countdown to Africa- How This Trip Found Me

  1. Pam Stemmerman

    You are a great planner.

  2. Great info here and yes you were wise to do organised tours in JoBurg it’s most definitely not the place to wander off sightseeing on your own! We have a large South African population here in Perth (and also over east) and the stories they have to tell are not pleasant to say the least. Although they loved their country there is a reason they have emigrated to Australia in large numbers!

  3. Ah, yes, wherever there is dire poverty, there is danger. South Africa has so much potential, I hope they’re able to capitalize on it.
    I’d be interested in your suggestions for Australia as we will probably travel there in the next year or two. It’s like the US—so big and so many amazing sights that you just can’t do it all so you have to carefully pick a few areas and sights.

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    attribue a l’ordination des pretres.

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