Since South Africa is such a hot destination for Zoom Vacations, Zoom's Bryan Herb took the month of January to explore several new offerings in South Africa, including an incredible new safari lodge that has only been open for a month.
Joel and Bryan sat down for a recap of the experience. This is what transpired.
Joel: What is the latest and greatest in Cape Town?
Bryan: I have so many highlights of new offerings in Cape Town, but one that really stands out and is truly spectacular, is the Museum of Contemporary Art Africa located just below the new Silo Hotel which is also sensational. It is an architectural masterpiece, and the collection is superb. You also don't need hours and hours to see it.
Joel: So I've always thought that South Africa is a special and magical place. What is something you noticed that money can’t buy in South Africa but that you appreciated while there?
Bryan: I love this question, because something that a lot of my local friends mentioned to me all the time was how many free things there are to do in Cape Town. It is really true. However, anyone who follows me on Facebook can see that I was incredibly taken with hiking at Lion's Head mountain. It is a spectacularly beautiful hike, and there so many moments where you turn a corner and see a remarkable vista. A few of the times that I hiked up at, I even did yoga at the top. It was so immensely peaceful and just perfect. Also, from on top of Lion's Head, you see just how stunning Cape Town really is.
Oh, and the other thing is how incredibly nice the people are. From Uber drivers to passersby on the street, people are just really warm and friendly, and hospitality reigns supreme.
Joel: Cape Town's water shortage is starting to get global attention. How did you see this in actuality in Cape Town?
Bryan: It is definitely a topic of conversation, and people are really using the honor system to do whatever they can to lessen their own personal water usage. At the public gyms, people use buckets of shower water to flush the toilets. And hotels have removed the drainage stops in the bathtubs, so if a guest wants to take a bath they have to come down to the front desk, ask for the plug, and then do a walk of shame back to their room, knowing that they're part of the problem. Apparently a blogger took a picture of herself at a Silo Hotel bathtub, and it did not go over well.
However, it is really bringing the city together as well, as people pool their ideas and resources to find solutions. That being said, they will be out of water by April, and then the plan is to have water distribution sites where people will come to collect water for their cooking, bathing, etc.
Of course, Joel, the whole time I was there, I found it interesting that so many my friends back home were Facebook messaging me asking me about the water shortage in Cape Town. Meanwhile, half of the island of Puerto Rico has been without water and electricity since October, and no one talks about it. In my opinion, what we are letting happen there is barbaric.
Yes, the situation in Cape Town is serious, but I do think that many potential visitors to Cape Town are overreacting. It certainly wouldn't curtail my trip there.
Joel: you also managed to go on safari and visited several lodges. How was that experience?
Bryan: Well, this is one of the main reasons that I wanted to go to Cape Town. I figured if I was there for a longer period of time, I could go to several safari lodges with some flexibility. I mainly wanted to see a brand new lodge, that one of my friends created that has only been open for a month. I was truly blown away. So much that this safari lodge is completely custom and bespoke. They make their own jams and marmalades, they brew their own beer and cider, roast their own coffee, and make so many other snacks.
The food in general at this property was just unbelievable. And, when I got to my room, that was the best part. It was huge, well-appointed, and beautiful, with every bell and whistle—my own plunge pool, outdoor shower, a huge deck, living room, and a bathroom so big I could have served cocktails for 20 in there. Now that’s a party!
And they are giving us an incredible rate! Our Zoom Vacations travelers are going to love it.
Joel: How was it being on Safari by yourself?
Bryan: I had so much fun by myself. As you know, Joel, I like my own company (ha ha) but I have to say that being on Safari by myself, I met so many people, including really fun fellow travelers you were on my safari jeep game drives each time. Back in my beautiful Safari Lodge rooms, I would take an epic bubble bath, drink incredibly delicious wine, read, and of course play on my phone while taking pictures of animals that were visible right from my room.
Joel: What was your biggest take away from this experience?
Bryan: Ironically, I am embarrassed to say, but my biggest takeaway was realizing the importance of taking my own personal vacations, and scheduling “me" time. I love leading Zoom Vacations tours, but I really need to remind myself that leading a tour isn't the same thing as being on my own vacation. A vacation is when you have the freedom to do or not do whatever you want, and you're able to take the time to yourself to energize and ground yourself with what really matters. We provide this for travelers of course, but when I'm leading a tour, my top priority is looking after my guests and making sure that they have the best vacation possible. Therefor there is a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. Again, I really love it, and I have to say it was also really nice to be on this trip and have the experience of other people taking care of me. I got used to it very quickly. Ha ha.
Joel: Anything else that stands out?
Bryan: What was really cool was that my trip inspired one of my best friends to spontaneously get on a plane, and leave the hustle and bustle of New York to spend five days with me in Cape Town. It was cathartic, healthy, energizing, and just a really beautiful time together. But then again, it is really hard to have a bad time in Cape Town.