Last month, David and Cheryl Berlin, winners of the South African Safari trip sold at the 2016 JDRF Miracles Gala took their adventure of a lifetime, which they did in celebration of their wedding anniversary.
Coordinated by Nicki Wingate and Exclusively Africa who have been tailoring custom safari packages for over 20 years, the Berlins say their trip was nothing short of amazing!
“Now that we’ve had time to digest the entire trip to South Africa, I’d like to say thank you once again.
Mike from Tango Tours met us at the airport and ensured we got to the Four Seasons in Johannesburg. What a great property! It was a great place to stay. The staff were all very friendly, the rooms were great, the view of the city was awesome. The view from The View was spectacular, and we thoroughly enjoyed our Sundowners and dinner there.
The trip to Lion Sands was definitely a once in a lifetime trip. From the moment we were greeted at the airport, the experience was wonderful. Eugene and his staff at the Narina Lodge were incredible, making us feel as if we were the only people in the lodge. The hospitality was incredible, the meals were even better, and the safari drives were awe inspiring.
Our tracker, Lucas, was a man of few words, but definitely knew how to track the animals, ensuring we got to see the Big 5. Our guide, Willy, was very friendly and knowledgeable, and provided us with very deep insights what we were seeing. Of course, we began our first trip with the warning that sometimes in spite of their very best efforts one might not see all of the Big 5. Then, when Lucas tracked a rhino within the first 10 minutes of our first drive, I knew it was going to be a great few days. Shortly after the rhino we saw a mother and baby giraffe grazing together. We saw lions, a herd of elephants, a jaguar (and his prey), zebras, hippos, water buffalo, countless birds hyenas, more kudu and impala than we could keep track of, and even a porcupine.
The night in the Tinyeleti Treehouse was one of the most amazing things we’ve ever done. It was a little cold, but the staff prepared some soup along with our dinner, and the wine they provided was very tasty. The view of the stars was unbelievable, and made for a perfect viewing of the Southern Cross. Oh, and I must say something about the shooting stars.
Before dinner on the last night of our visit, Eugene set up a brandy tasting for us in the lounge. It made for great conversation and increased my knowledge of brandy. Then, they set up a boma, where one of the chefs explained the local dishes and our guide served as our dinner host. A top notch ending to the trip.
Then, on to Cape Town. From the moment we arrived, Hadley at Zee’s tours made us feel like long lost friends. He took us on a tour of the city before dropping us off at The One and Only. And now I definitely know where the name comes from. Everything about that property was fantastic. The staff were all very friendly and helpful, the accommodations were awesome and the food was great. Oh, and the breakfast buffet — the best I’ve ever had. And when we arrived home one night and found rose petals on the bed, champagne on ice and congratulations for our wedding anniversary it made for a perfect evening.
Hadley and the team at Zee’s tours made sure that we got to see everything we wanted to AND MORE. They even met us at the hotel and walked us to the entrance to the ferry to Robben Island to ensure we got there. When we arrived back from that tour, off we went to Stellenbosch for a nice lunch at a cafe and a tour of Fleur de Cap, which included some great wines to taste. We saw so much I can’t enumerate, but it ranged from the Cape of Good Hope to Boulders Beach to see the penguins. A GREAT wine tasting and tour of the region. At one point in time Hadley pointed out to us that we could clearly see both the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Hadley even escorted us on our tour of Table Mountain. And, the olive oil tasting they arranged was quite a treat.
On our return to Johannesburg, our suite at the Four Seasons had a great view. Mike picked us up and took us to the Apartheid Museum, which was really unbelievable. After our tour of the museum Mike took us to Soweto, where we got to see Nelson Mandela’s house. Another once in a lifetime bit of the trip.
In short, the trip was awesome! Thanks for making all of the arrangements and for making it a smooth “trip of a lifetime.” We will be forever in your debt.”
– David Berlin, July 2017
On behalf of everyone served by JDRF, our heartfelt appreciation is extended to Exclusively Africa, Nicki Wingate, and the Berlin family for their generous support in helping to advance JDRF’s mission of improving lives and curing Type 1 Diabetes! Without the generous support of donors like these, our Galas would never be able to have the impact they do. THANK YOU so much again!