I was in South Africa and had to curtail my trip due to COVID and spoke to the 24 hour help desk. Particular thanks are due to Pauline who amended my travel plans promptly and to Leah my travel manager.
Gavin has been excellent! Plus Callum and Ted.
Good support in difficult times
A usual an excellent service and it's great to have a helpful agent at the end of the phone when flight changes are needed.
I want to thank Bruno for going the extra mile to get me back to the UK before the lockdown in South Africa. He answered all my questions and concerns. I have been using DAF for many years
Thank you so much Stafford for an amazing itinerary, hotels and locations. All jaw dropping good. Also thank you for coming up trumps when BA cancelled our return flight. Unlike some people travelling with other travel companies who were left stranded, you seamlessly re-arranged everything and kept us notified - a fantastic service in trying times!
Jerry was very helpful when we needed to come home early due to Coronavirus. When we need flights we can always rely on him.
The young man who sorted my flight was very helpful. He did a great job and luckily I got back safe during this very difficult time.
Whenever I emailed for information you always responded which was a great help and gave me peace of mind while I was trying to get back home to my family.
DialAFlight are just the best. And Ryan pulls out all the stops for us. Very many thanks
With a very difficult situation all members and especially Niall were brilliant. Flights changed and constantly keeping us informed
All went well
Thanks for very efficiently arranging to change my flight back given my decision to cut short my trip
Thanks for the professional and helpful service rendered while out in South Africa at the height of Covid 19, bringing me back safely to my family and friends
Thank you Lincoln, Luke and colleagues for all your help in getting us speedily back to the UK
Jacob was wonderful as were the other members of staff I spoke to in trying to get early flights out of South Africa. They have forged our loyalty for future bookings.
Lucas kept me up to date. Always receive an excellent service from him
So impressed with friendly and efficient service especially during this virus outbreak. App easy to use. Will be my go to booking agent from now on
Stan was an absolute star! Even my wife noticed.
Thank you for your help in getting my party out of Egypt before their lockdown
Went above and beyond when our flight was cancelled
You were accessible, helpful and efficient.
Fantastic service especially when flights had to be changed at the last minute. Thank you Chris and Sally
Roger was very helpful when I needed to bring my return flight forward from Cape Town.
Flights to and from George in South Africa went like clockwork with no delays or problems. Your team including Roray were brilliant in every respect especially given the pressure they are under due to CV. DAF are our new travel agent!
Fab support and advice from Mason while we were in South Africa awaiting lockdown due to Corona Virus.
I always recommend you to my friends
Devina and her colleagues were very professional. I appreciated Devina leaving me a voicemail a week before my flight wishing me a good trip. I will recommend your company to family and friends. I hope you and yours stay corona-free!
Shane was able to help me in changing my flight home. Very efficient
Under present situation I would like to express my gratitude to Rosie on your help line and Isaac on your day team. They have been exceptional. I tried to get help from insurance, British embassy, local agents to get info about when and how to get home from Cape Town. No-one would answer the phone or sent a message saying they would get back in 48 hours. Our flights were booked for the 25th March and Rosie changed our flights for no extra cost. She was helpful, unflappable, calming and friendly and answered the phone immediately.
A hand-written card has been left on the table in our room. It urges us to 'pause, listen, smell, taste, feel and see' while staying at Singita Ebony Lodge in South Africa.
Whoever wrote the note could easily have added: learn.
Because for all the game drives, sumptuous late breakfasts, sundowners in the bush, brandies by the pool, massages in the spa, a safari is a crash-course in animal welfare, a tutorial into the workings of nature. At least it is in the Sabi Sands Reserve near the Mozambique border, where Singita covers 18,000 acres.
Even the daftest of questions from the back of the Jeep are taken seriously. My ignorance knows no bounds, but our guide, Andries, and his spotter companion, Martin, never make you feel a dunce.
And I pick up a few nuggets along the way: impalas are born with 90 per cent of their brains fully formed, giving them a sporting chance of surviving into adulthood; lions see in black and white (which must be infuriating for zebras); two-thirds of a termite mound is underground; giraffes have hearts the size of footballs; elephants flap their ears for ventilation.
BATTLE FOR SURVIVAL
But the most important thing I learn is that it's brutal out there. It may be a bewitching landscape as the sun rises and falls on the greatest show on earth – but it's also one big battle for survival.
You feel the tension everywhere, as the tails of the buffalo twirl furiously when danger lurks and a female elephant hurriedly scrunches through scrub. You see it as vultures perch on a branch ready to cash in on a kill.
The fear of death is omni-present. Survival of the fittest is not an evolutionary theory but a day-to-day reality, where one lapse in concentration, one misguided stop at a watering hole and you're finished.
I can see why honeymooners are drawn to safaris. A few days in the bush sets you up nicely for a partnership in marriage. The habits of males and females are often at odds, but they need to get on. You have to be patient, too - and it's so primal that passion is never far away.
Singita's story began in 1925 when James Baines bought land in what would later become the Sabi Sands Reserve. It started as a hunting opportunity, but today it's all about protecting the bush. His grandson, Luke Baines, now runs lodges and camps across five African countries and is regarded as one of the great protectors of the wild.
He's also practical. Realising that the reason poachers kill animals is to make money, he encouraged them to become gamekeepers instead, and it seems to have worked. Most of his 120 or so scouts are former poachers.
'If they started protecting the animals rather than killing them, then tourism would flourish and they could have jobs for the long term,' says Luke. 'The success has been remarkable.'
Certainly, his lodges are remarkable. Singita Ebony Lodge and nearby Singita Boulders have just been refurbished and must be two of the most stylish and yet authentic safari lodges in the world.
With their soaring thatched roofs held aloft by a combination of trees and wooden posts, the main lobby, bar and restaurant areas look out over a river and mile upon mile of bush beyond, as do almost all 12 suites in each lodge.
OUT OF AFRICA
You get your own little pool, four-poster bed, outside shower, freestanding bath, a watercolour paint palette, fabulous food and drink (it's all inclusive so you don't have to sign for anything) and a licence to imagine you're Robert Redford and Meryl Streep on the set of Out Of Africa.
On our first 6am game drive we come across a pride of 12 lions lounging by a watering hole occupied by a hippo.
Andries assures us that the lions are not hungry – which is comforting because by the time he turns off the engine we are a mere 10 yards from them. Occasionally one of the lions stands up and looks at us intently before flopping back down on the baked ground much in the same way as a dog might spread itself out by the fire at home.
We get up close and personal with rhinos, elephants, giraffes, hyenas, water hogs, antelope, eagles – and closer than I could ever have imagined to a leopard.
But not just any leopard. Andries remembers Nhlhbankunzi - as she has been named - as a cub and now she's a mother herself, out looking for food for her charge. She's regal and ravishing in equal measure, treating the rough terrain like a catwalk, moving elegantly, seductively.
They say nothing prepares you for the moment you see your first lion or leopard in the wild – and they're right.
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