Moustafa Hamwi founder of SATORI, a well-being hub that empowers people to “get more out of life” through talks, experiences and content shares a diary with Travel Junkie Diary in South Africa.
Destination South Africa
India was a life changing journey for me and will always have a special place in my heart. i owe my transformation and becoming an International Inspirational Speaker to that journey.
What took me there was a gut feeling… something inside me was calling me to buy a one way ticket to India and get lost, which is what I did and my life has never been the same since then!
The details of that journey I will save for another interview.
For now I will tell you about what is so far the next best thing for me… Safari in South Africa…I was going to do one of my inspirational talks in Johannesburg and then do one of my life coaching courses so decided to take some days off prior to that to go on a safari.
It was AMAZING. To start with the lodge is an exclusive lodge that is within the Pilanesberg National Park, actually the entrances where right next to each other. We had electrical wire fence to make sure no wild animals came into the lodge!!
the staff were all amazing and friendly. Rooms were very cool, african safari as you expect them to be, they even had a shower outdoor.
When it comes to food with me being a vegetarian, doesn’t leave me lots of options in a place like africa where meat is a key component in the cuisine.
The most important thing was the experiences… part of the package at the hotel you got 2 safaris a day, sunrise and sunset. each lasted about 4 hours. Also they had lots of options to go to the surrounding villages. Also, I stayed at a lion reserve for one night, that was memorable…no less no more than the safari,each had its own thing and the best part of it all was that it was unplanned.
In your suitcase I packed my solomon trekking boots. I take them on every adventure. They have always proven to be worthy of carry although they occupy big space in the bag. Every thing else was the usual, shorts, t shirts, sports jacket, personal care. Traveled quite lightly.
Diary I was meant to travel to South Africa many times before and each time it would get cancelled due to hectic and a busy life we lead here in Dubai. I knew it had to be just perfect so every year, I had to delay it but this year was no different but nevertheless, I decided to get on a plane a figure things out as I go… a habit I picked up from my India journey!
I wanted to go Pilanesberg reserve and not Kruger Park as Kruger was a much more commercial place and thus much more full of tourists which meant less quiet time, pilanisburg is although smaller (about 600 square kilometres vs. Kruger 19,000 square kilometres)
Once I landed in Johannesburg airport I made a couple of inquires with travel agents and gave them my mobile number and got in a taxi toward Pilanesberg while they figure out a hotel for me, its a couple of hours drive so I had enough time to find a hotel while I got there. Luckily they called me half way through the drive and informed me they got me a good deal at the Ivory Tree!
As I arrived, it was getting dark, the very welcoming staff gave me the room and recommended that I sleep early since the first safari leaves around 5 am.
The room was amazing, individual rooms nestled in the bushes what you would expect in an African safari theme, on the inside the beds had cool looking mosquito net over the bed (not just for decoration), open bath tubs in the middle of the bathroom and the cooler thing was the shower was in open air on a balcony with shoulder-high wall. 4am the alarm went off! I was able to practice yoga right before 5am. When I met with the team, it was still dark outside.
The lodge provided very nice safari jeeps that would only take about 9 pax each which kept it exclusive so, allowed more enjoyment, a lot of the other lodges or hotels put groups in bigger vehicles obviously to save costs. Even more to my luck that day not many people were at the hotel so in the car, I was accompanied by just one couple. The lodge was integrated within the national park we literally started from within the national park, no time wasted driving to the park into the wilderness which was out of this world! Watching the break of dawn, the scene was unforgettable. I remember the first thing I had seen was an elephant. I had seen many elephants before in india but this time it was different, seeing such an animal roaming free in such vast wilderness and him just blending as a small part of that amazing scenery made it that much real. I could go on and on describing each sighting and encounter with the animals but due to the density of things to describe iIwill leave it to the pictures to take you on the journey I went on, at times I had 5 different animals in one shot! The safari lasted for about 4 hours after which we went back to the hotel to rest for the sunset safari. The sunest safari would last into the early night where sighting of lions and hyaenas would be more probable. We even saw hyaenas chasing a wildebeest to eat it. Lions where not easy to spot so on the first day we did not manage to see any, it was the second evening after a long “treasure hunt” through the park and an exchange of walki talki calls between the rangers that we managed to spot the lions! First we heard them vocalize, an amazing experience, the sounds runs through your body you feel your self shiver! It was when he shined his projector light into the dense dark bushes when I noticed the reflection of the light on their eyes and that was incredible!! Of course we saw rhinos, hippos, impalas, girrafs and even a little turtle.
On my last day, after the sunrise safari, I took 4wheel motorbike on a ride through the villages, I love getting to connect with local culture.
It was time to leave and I felt I hadn’t gotten enough of the lions, I just felt I wanted to see more, I wanted an up close and personal experience. I had contacted the Lion whisperer before and asked if he would let me interact with the lions but he refused, I was determined on getting more lion-time
the staff at the lodge informed me there is a lion farm on the way back to Jo Burg, and so it was, I got the taxi to drop me off there…again the best thing I ever done and had the opportunity to play with lion cubs and even walk with lions. The best part of it was that I stayed overnight and kept hearing the lions roar throughout the night. So it was 2 days in the National park and 1 day at the lion farm and then to Jo Burg. In comparison to the first part of the journey Jo Burg was, although a great city, just normal by comparison especially that I was there for business.
Tips Spend no less than 48 hours at the national park, but probably not more than 3 days as doing 2 safaris a day for three days in the same place could get a bit boring, unless you like to sit and spot specific animals or to do specific photography. The lion farm is a must!
Shopped The only shopping in did was for some African beads from the city, however the duty free shop at the airport has an amazing collection.
Mode of Travel Emirates Airline to Jo Burg. From there you can either take an internal flight to Pilanesburg or go by car.
Although I took the car I would recommend internal flight to avoid drivers that get lost and don’t know the way and traffic jams!
I am putting together another trip to the same lodge and lion farm on the last 2 weeks of August if any one is interested they can contact me on [email protected]