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Student and mom explore South Africa during Parent Trip

Jack Belisle Parent Trip
Jack reunited with his mother during the Spring 2017 Parent Trip

The MV World Odyssey pulled into beautiful Cape Town, South Africa and I made my way over to the hotel that Semester at Sea had booked for all the students and family. In emails I had exchanged with my mom, I knew she was expecting me at 11 a.m, so when I knocked on her door at 7:30 in the morning, she was a bit overwhelmed. After settling in and lots of “I’m so glad you’re here,” and “I missed you so much,” we were ready to see what Cape Town had to offer.

Spring 2017 had a great view of Table Mountain

A full day of walking, sightseeing, and hiking to the top of Table Mountain came to a close in the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront area of Cape Town, where my mother and I ate dinner. This was just the beginning of the Semester at Sea Spring 2017 Parent Trip. A plane and bus ride later, we arrived at the Phinda Wildlife Reserve, where my mother and I (along with about 40 other parents, siblings, and students) hoped to see some incredible wildlife. Over the next three days we would see an awe-inspiring variety of animals that inhabit the South African Bush. There were hippos, hyenas, cheetahs, lions and even an ever-elusive leopard, which, according to our safari guide Matt, “isn’t spotted often.”

On the flight back to Cape Town, I reflected on all that that our safari experience had given us. Not only were the animals amazing, but the nearest town provided excellent insight into life in rural South Africa. In between game drives, our group explored the nearby Zulu Village, meeting locals that had lived there all their lives. We learned how houses were built, local marriage traditions, and were able to meet with fortune-tellers who trained to communicate with the spirits of their ancestors. Along the way, we learned that some of the schools and houses we had seen were built by the Phinda Wildlife Reserve we were visiting. It made me feel good that part of the money spent on the safari went to good use in the town.

Students and parents spotted lions at the Phinda Wildlife Reserve

Our last day in South Africa, we were brought down to the Cape of Good Hope (the most Southwestern point on the African continent), walked around picturesque Simon’s Town, and saw African Penguins, a species unique to Africa.

My mother could not have picked a better place to come meet me. The idyllic waterfront area of Cape Town was a great way to begin the journey and our trek up to Phinda was well worth the time spent getting there. My mother’s extensive planning had all worked out, and we both had a great time in South Africa.

To learn more about Parent Trips and how parents can get involved with Semester at Sea, click here.

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