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Reactions Car Trips with Chauffeur

Reactions of clients about James (Chauffeur):

Hi James,

Wow, thank you for your newsletter!!
So helpful and nice to see and read.

I think we could not have found a better guide/driver,really! (I am seldom
content about somebody's driving, and your guiding skills I found amazing
too!)

Love for now,
we are still working on the pictures,
Evelyne

November 2013

Travelogue of chauffeur James:

Sanders Tours - 11 to 21 November 2013

Monday 11

We had a Cape Peninsular tour, and after leaving their hotel we travelled to Hout Bay, via Chapman's Peak to the view site. Then onto Noordhoek, Kommetjie, and Cape Point. The wind was very strong at the point, but in spite of this, Evelyne and Joop took the Funicular to the top light house. We saw Chacma Baboons and Ostriches. We left the park around 16:00 and travelled to Simonstown. Had drinks at Quarterdeck and then they wanted to see the sunset from Table Mountain. I dropped them at the Cable Car around 18:45. Table Mountain had been closed most of he weekend and Monday until around 14:00, so they were lucky to get to the top.

Wednesday 13

Today we left for Swellendam. We left the hotel around 12:00 and I took the scenic route from Gordon's Bay to Betty's Bay and to the largest penguin colony at Stoney Point. There are over 6000 breeding pairs here and today we saw so many penguins, it was amazing. Onto Hermanus where we were very lucky to see a glimps of the last whales of the season. Then continued to Stanford, Bredasdorp and finally Cape Agulhas. We walked along the boardwalk to the view point where the most southern tip of South Africa is and where the two oceans meet. Had photos here before we left for the overnight stop in Swellendam. Rothman House is amazing and Evelyne & Joop said they felt like royalty. Very good accommodation for the clients.

Thursday 14

We left Swellendam around 13:00 after a visit to a few sites and the museum in the town. We travelled to Mossel Bay where we spent some time at the Diaz Museum. Then it was onto Knysna for the next four night's stay. The guest stayed at the new Turbine Hotel on Thiessen Island. The hotel was very modern and the rooms great, but for next time, perhaps we must check first with the hotel as it was awquard that the clients bathroom was off the main bedroom, and not much of a screen to close and no door. Nice area of Knysna and safe, which was a big plus, but a long walk into town.

Friday 15

Evelyne choose to stay in the hotel in the morning as she was getting over a cold, and wished to rest a bit. The weather was not good, but in the morning I took Joop to the Waterfront and then he went on his way into the town to get a few things. At 14:00 I collected the guests for their boat trip to Featherbed Nature Reserve. The weather was not good and we had a setback as Evelyne fell just after the beginning of their walk. She fell hard and Joop was concerned she may have broken something in her foot. After some delay, she was carried to the quad bike and then taken to the awaiting vehicle where Jeff and a guide brought her to the main land where we took her to the private hospital in Knysna. A doctor was called and she examined Evelyne and thankfully she did not need x-rays. The doctor said it was badly sprained and that rest was required. I dropped them off at the hotel about 19:00. As planned before, the next day was a rest day.

Sunday 17

A wet and windy day we went to see the area of Plettenberg Bay and then had a tour of the Knysna Elephant park. Joop finished the tour and was so wet when he finished. He enjoyed himself and had good photo's of him with the elephants. We went onto the heads to see the beautiful view at the end of the day. Dropped them back at the hotel around 18:30.

Monday 18

Today we traveled to Addo. We left the hotel around 12:00 and went via Tsitsikamma National Park. The biggest disappointment was the wasted time trying to get to Storms River mouth. They are re-doing the roads and it took us almost an hour to get from the main gate to the restaurant. Joop walked the 1,2 km route and said it was very good, but a little rushed as we still had to get to Addo. We left the reserve at 15:00 and traveled to Woodall Country House & Spa. We arrived at about 18:45 and checked in. What an amazing place this was, both Evelyne & Joop said it was six-star accommodation. They had a suite which even had it's own splash pool/jacuzzi. The food was excellent and the chef was very good as they made food which suited Evelyne & Joop which was special.

Tuesday 19

Today they had a safari with Amakala. They saw good animals, but their guide (not a registered one) was not that good, and a little bit of a cowboy. Just for future, Amakala is 70 km from Woodall and takes almost one hour to travel there and one hour back. Woodall was a little concerned that the guests did not go with Woodall instead, but in the end Amakhala safari was good, as they saw some good sightings. They returned after 18:20 and I dropped them off at Woodall after 19:15 which was quite late.

Wednesday 20

Today was a slow morning and at 14:30 they left for the main Addo park with the Woodall Game Ranger. They had good sightings too, but not as much variety. Their comment was that the thought the Woodall guide was much better than the Amakhala guide, and at first Evelyne said she was not too impressed with the safari with Amakala, but in the end they were able to compare both, and Evelyne said she thought that both safari's gave a unique experience.

Thursday 21

We were planning to travel through the park again but when I arrived to collect Evelyne & Joop, they said they prefered to travel to PE instead and look at a few of the sights in PE. I took them to Summerstrand and then to the Boardwalk Complex. Afterwards I dropped them at PE airport, but their 20:00 flight was delayed by half an hour, so we changed their flight to an earlier one, which was great. Evelyne texted me on Friday to say they arrived safely after a long flight home. We had a lovely time together and made good lasting friendships. I am sure they will contact you and give you their accounts, but I know they will be back here sometime to see our lovely country again.

This was a very good tour and most enjoyable company too. I am convinced that Joop & Evelyne will be back in RSA in the not too distant future.

James

November 2017:

Hello Ester and team,

As I reported to you via email prior to ever setting foot on African soil, your team’s attention to my requests, questions, and input in planning the second leg of our trip impressed me so that I felt extremely comfortable moving forward with planning with your agency.  It was not as easy as you might expect to find online listings for personal drivers for such a long trip.  Your website was one of a few I researched but none of the others were as responsive or informative as yours.

I felt reassured through the process of planning that you had great expertise & resources in South Africa and if there were any questions you needed to research further, you did so in a timely & professional manner.  I believe I told Ester in an email that we in the US could use a lesson from you regarding hospitality, thoroughness, and professionalism!

The only issue I had with the planning stage was trying to wire the funds for the trip to your agency.  Here in the US it is very unusual to wire money these days, and much more common to do all financial transactions through credit cards.  In fact, wiring money from a US perspective is highly suspect because of all the ways we hear about false representation of overseas organizations.  We are constantly being advised to look out for scammers, and wiring money is one of the biggest things to be cautious about.  Additionally, we have to pay bank fees on our end which adds to the overall pricing for the trip.  As Americans, even though we know companies charge more to cover the credit card fees, we don’t really see it so we don’t really think about it (!).

Once all of the funds were sent, we felt again reassured that our trip details would be in good hands.  I very much appreciated you serving as “go between” in our communications with James.  I truly didn’t realize some of the specific details regarding timing of driving distances, days/hours of operations for some of the things we wanted to do.  Having you and James help us with the whittling down of those details not only brought the trip into sharper focus, but again allowed us to relax that all the details would be handled both prior to our arrival as well as during our trip.

James was all you promised and more.  We quickly learned the difference between “driver” and “guide” and were delighted we were in such good hands on both fronts.  From the minute we started on our journey, James took care of all the details: having water for us, paying tolls, admissions, making necessary phone calls to various others we needed to coordinate with.  Additionally, his professional yet approachable demeanor was appreciated at all times.

James’s wealth of information regarding South Africa, from scenery to politics, cultural nuances to history, all made our trip richer in detail and substance, which we greatly appreciated.  His punctuality & communicativeness also was a relief as we never felt rushed but always excited about the journey ahead.

The Garden Route was lovely and made more personal by stopping along the way to various look out points to shops and specialty treasures that James recommended.  We always had plenty of time for photos, stretching our legs and the necessary bathroom stops! 

We especially enjoyed our time in Plettenberg Bay and our incredible Hunter’s Country House accommodations.  The staff was very welcoming, handled one particular issue with professionalism and care, the grounds and rooms beyond lovely.  The attention to details of arranging dinner reservations to lighting a fire in our room every night before we arrived back for the night was such a treat.  The animal sanctuaries added a different dimension to our post safari experience in Kruger Park.  We especially enjoy walking with the elephants at Crags and  Monkeyland. 
 
I will stop here for now but continue with a second email accounting tomorrow.

Thanks so much,

Cynthia Ferrari