Marylin Marcus

Fairfield, New Jersey Travel Agent

(Kosher) South Africa

South Africa definitely ranks among my most memorable destinations as a traveler. There were so many standout experiences, from the close-up experiences with wildlife to the very different lifestyles I saw. And everywhere, people were welcoming and gracious.

As a Jewish traveler who can only eat kosher food, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect in terms of dining, especially in the game lodges. I had looked into Kenya, but they were unable to provide Kosher food so I went to South Africa and stayed at Singita. When I arrived, the manager greeted me and said we have flown in your kosher food from Johannesburg. That first dinner, we were eating outside and I didn’t expect much. They brought me a gorgeous platter, served on fancy china, with smoked fish, salad, and bread. I thought that was the whole meal and was pleased. Then came another huge plate with the main course, and then dessert.  It was truly lovely, and every meal and snack was truly special. 

Until this trip, I’d never been much of an animal lover, but it was so amazing to see them relating in their own groups. The most incredible sight was coming upon a pride of about 20 lions. We were maybe 15 feet from them. They glanced at us and then ignored us. The guide had warned us that if we got up from our seat, they’d feel threatened and run away, so everyone sat still and we watched for quite some time as they interacted. It was amazing to see them seemingly not to each other and sit by each other. The best was seeing the little ones playing.  We also saw a leopard who was just 30 feet or so away from us. He was staying low, inching along very slowly its prey. The tracker said it would almost surely make a kill, so we asked to move on.

One of my favorite places is Capetown. It’s a beautiful city, with lovely scenery, great wineries nearby, and so much history. On this trip we also went to a small village and visited with a tribal doctor in his small hut. Like many in the area, this village had no running water; they had to pump it. There was no sink in the kitchen, no faucet. It seemed unthinkable to us, but to them, it was everyday life.  We also met with a 12th grade class in a beautiful modern high school. I asked them who planned to go on to college and not a single hand was raised. And no one had definite plans for what they would do when they graduated. I think about those kids a lot and it was eye-opening to get to speak with them. 

It was thrilling to experience so much of South Africa first hand and to connect with hoteliers and suppliers who can personally help the clients I send to their amazing country.