Our African Safari- Seeing the Big 5

Omg, you guys! I can’t even believe I’m writing this post. As long as I can remember I’ve dreamed about visiting Africa and going on Safari. It’s always sounded like the ultimate in adventure. The downside for me has always been that I’m not much into camping, dirt, or bugs. I’m outdoorsy in that I like to take my glass of wine to the patio occasionally. If it’s not too buggy out that is. So the fact that I took the boys on a two day Safari in South Africa blows my mind in a whole pile of directions.

WARNING: Photo heavy because, you know, SAFARI!!!

single mom travels || traveling with kids || safari ideas || the big 5 || Africa with kids || #summertravel2017 || 24cottonwoodlane.com
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It started with a load of research and planning since I’m anxious, ummm, I mean thorough like that. We explored a few possibilities online and finally chose Aquila after some back and forth live chatting to answer all my questions. Such important things like… Would I be eaten by a lion? Where are we sleeping? Does it have to involve a tent? Is there wine?

Here’s how it all went down.



We chose to drive ourselves there to save some cash and I wanted to actually get used to driving on the left on the highways. It was a gorgeous drive from our place outside of Cape Town and took almost 2 hours through the beautiful mountains and vineyards of South Africa. We came across shephards and flocks and a bunch of baboons roaming the highway. With a heck ton of warning signs about said baboons. Apparently, they can be real little dicks.

We arrived around noon on Saturday and were welcomed with champagne and drinks before hitting up the tasty buffet for lunch.

African safari || Aquila || single mom travel ideas || traveling with kids || Africa with kids || summer travel ideas ||

 

Once lunch was finished we were able to grab our keys to check in to our cottage which had one huge bed and the cot I asked for. Unfortunately, I forgot the language issue and remembered that cot actually means crib in South Africa. After the boys fought over who would be sleeping in the playpen/travel cot we agreed that the king size bed was big enough to share. The cottage was gorgeous and well stocked!

 

African safari || Aquila || single mom travel ideas || traveling with kids || Africa with kids || summer travel ideas || 24cottonwoodlane.com #summertravel2017

 

There is a lovely bathroom with a huge soaker tub and and an outdoor rock shower!

African safari || Aquila || single mom travel ideas || traveling with kids || Africa with kids || summer travel ideas || 24cottonwoodlane.com #summertravel2017

 

Our first safari left around 4PM and we stayed out until after the sun set. We were able to see all of the big 5 with the exception of the lions who had gone to sleep early and couldn’t be located. The guide was amazing in sharing his knowledge and engaging all of us to learn about the reserve and the habits of the animals who lived here.

African safari || Aquila || single mom travel ideas || traveling with kids || Africa with kids || summer travel ideas || 24cottonwoodlane.com #summertravel2017



If you’re not aware, South Africa is in the worst drought in recorded history. This is all that’s left of the watering hole that really should be the size of a lake. It’s seriously frightening and has changed the way we use water both in Africa and even since we’ve come home.

African safari || Aquila || single mom travel ideas || traveling with kids || Africa with kids || summer travel ideas || 24cottonwoodlane.com #summertravel2017
Zebras!

I have a fondness for these wildebeests because they are just so humorous looking. Also, one was pretending to be an ostrich and making ostrich like noises at the ostriches near him. I always like the weird ones.

African safari || Aquila || single mom travel ideas || traveling with kids || Africa with kids || summer travel ideas || 24cottonwoodlane.com #summertravel2017

 

African safari || Aquila || single mom travel ideas || traveling with kids || Africa with kids || summer travel ideas || 24cottonwoodlane.com #summertravel2017

 

Just prior to the end of our first safari, we stopped for champagne and some snacks. Mmm….tasty, tasty.  If you happen to be in South Africa, please send biltong! I’m in withdrawal.

 

African safari || Aquila || single mom travel ideas || traveling with kids || Africa with kids || summer travel ideas || 24cottonwoodlane.com #summertravel2017
Everyone should have champagne on a safari

 

I have like a thousand pictures of the boys and the animals and just one of the three of us together because of the kindness of our fellow safari goers.

 

African safari || Aquila || single mom travel ideas || traveling with kids || Africa with kids || summer travel ideas || 24cottonwoodlane.com #summertravel2017

 

Despite being exhausted, we enjoyed a great dinner at the buffet once again and I slurped a few glasses of South African pinotage, which is pretty much the best red wine in the world. No exaggeration. It’s like creamy buttery wine or something.

 

African safari || Aquila || single mom travel ideas || traveling with kids || Africa with kids || summer travel ideas || 24cottonwoodlane.com #summertravel2017
Source: Aquila Safari

We headed back to our cottage to find that someone had been by to turn on the heater and to leave hot water bottles at the bottom of our bed. How delightful to be able to go to bed with warm feet on a cold night!

The boys insisted that they would happily wake up for the early morning Safari which was meeting at 6:45 am. I wasn’t so sure about that but we actually pulled it off. Hot drinks and snacks were waiting for us while the guides loaded the jeeps with blankets and got things ready.

 

African safari || Aquila || single mom travel ideas || traveling with kids || Africa with kids || summer travel ideas || 24cottonwoodlane.com #summertravel2017

 

It was really cold before the sun came up so we cuddled together. It’s kind of rare to get the boys to sit still or for my face to actually take a good photo let alone a selfie but we did! And we mostly look like normal people.

 

African safari || Aquila || single mom travel ideas || traveling with kids || Africa with kids || summer travel ideas || 24cottonwoodlane.com #summertravel2017

 

We did manage to see the lions who had just come out to greet the sun. In my excitement, I forgot to get close ups. Also it was freezing and my hands were a little chilly. It was winter in South Africa and all.

 

African safari || Aquila || single mom travel ideas || traveling with kids || Africa with kids || summer travel ideas || 24cottonwoodlane.com #summertravel2017

 

Back to the lodge for breakfast and some free time before our noon check out. As it happened, I was taking yet another picture of the boys before I noticed the elephants behind them in our “backyard.” So freaking cool!

 

African safari || Aquila || single mom travel ideas || traveling with kids || Africa with kids || summer travel ideas || 24cottonwoodlane.com #summertravel2017
Can you spot him?

 

African safari || Aquila || single mom travel ideas || traveling with kids || Africa with kids || summer travel ideas || 24cottonwoodlane.com #summertravel2017
One of several pools

 

DETAILS

Aquila Safari–         Touws River, Western Cape, South Africa

COST-   R3295.  Which translates to around $329 CAD or $249 USD  (Seriously, our money went really far!)

INCLUDED-    Full access to all facilities, one night in a standard luxury cottage, lunch, dinner, breakfast, two safaris (with guide), free parking

NOT INCLUDED-    Beverages (welcome drinks and picnic beverages supplied), Souvenirs

African safari || Aquila || single mom travel ideas || traveling with kids || Africa with kids || summer travel ideas || 24cottonwoodlane.com #summertravel2017

 

PS. This is not a sponsored post however, we did receive a discounted accommodation allowing Aiden to travel and stay free. There were no expectations of a review or any further negotiations between me and Aquila. We’re just very happy with our experience and the discount was very kind. See our full disclosure policy HERE. As a single parent this was huge since you’re almost always paying full adult prices for you and your kiddos.

Is an African Safari on  your bucket list?




Big News!

Remember that time that I worried that I didn’t have enough to do so I started a second blog, FASD Families? Actually, I had plenty to do but the desire I had to write about FASD and provide a place for parents raising children with this disorder to find supports and resources didn’t feel like a fit for 24 Cottonwood Lane. Hence the second site. That site has proven to be very popular with a very different audience, which makes me feel like splitting my time on two sites was a good decisions.

And remember that time I started a third website because I still didn’t have enough to do? Oh, wait. That’s the big news! Once again, I feel completely compelled to write about something so much that I need yet another site. I’ve done a few travel pieces on here but, again, not what you’re probably coming here to read, right? Here we’re all about homes, DIY, and design. Travel doesn’t really fit. Drumroll, please……

Introducing Traveling Single Mom!

travelingsinglemom.com

Our third website is all about travel deals, tips, destinations and ways to travel with kids. I’m pretty excited about this site since travel is my passion. I’ve always loved to travel and I’m crazy obsessed about other countries, how people live, and learning about other cultures. I’m less crazy about the boys running wild in airports but I’m determined to figure out how to manage that. Stay tuned.

One of the reasons I was so freaked out after I agreed to raise the boys was this fear that I’d never travel again. But so far Liam at the tender age of 4 1/2 has been on 5 major trips and Aiden (now 3 1/2) has been on 3. That doesn’t count all the times we’ve spent camping, either.

Cuba 2016- travelingsinglemom.com
Cuba 2016

It took awhile to get my feet wet again in the travel pond, but I’m convinced you can, and should travel with children, regardless of their ages. It looks a little different (sometimes a lot different!) but it’s fun, doable, and totally worth it! I firmly believe that if I can travel as a single parent with two little boys with FASD, than anyone can do this!

I hope you stop by, check out the new site, and subscribe to Traveling Single Mom for updates. Like this site, I’m not going to bombard you with emails, newsletters, or things to buy. You’ll get an email when a post goes live and then we’ll leave you alone 😉

 

One mom, two preschoolers. Loads of adventure http://www.travelingsinglemom.com/

The other thing that that’s changing is my Twitter handle. I used to be @24CottonwoodLane. Because of the three websites, I’ve changed my handle to @JennaHillOnline. So if we follow each other on Twitter and you get a comment or a share from me, you’ll know it’s just me with a different handle. No stranger danger here. Same goes for Instagram….I’m changing from 24 Cottonwood Lane to Jenna Hill Online. And if you don’t already follow us on Twitter and Instagram, get on that! Who doesn’t love pretty pictures and quick news flashes?

And to keep things flowing and connected, I’m going to be adding a Travel Page at the top of this site to connect the two blogs and share travel articles so that you can find them easily. We’re helpful like that.

So for those of you looking for details about our recent trip to Cuba, pop over to Traveling Single Mom, and sign up. I’ve already written a couple of articles with lots more to come and we’re now on our way to planning more trips this year, including a road trip to Nashville, Panama City Beach, Destin, and New Orleans later this spring and touring Northern Ontario, Michigan, and the great lakes this summer. #roadtrip #arewethereyet