We all love scrolling through Travel Noire's instagram feed. The images of all shades of melanin across the globe gives us serious wanderlust. Like many of you, I've been following them for a while and I loved what I saw. One day, I finally mustered up the courage to book a TN Experience. This is my review of my trip and the services provided.
My TN Experience was $1,799.00. My trip was for a week in Johannesburg, South Africa. The price does not include flights or visas (if necessary). It does include the following:
- airport transfers to and from the hotel
- beautiful boutique hotel in a quiet area
- all breakfasts, most lunches and dinners
- entry to all excursions with transportation
- dedicated photographer
Before the trip:
Very soon after you've purchased your experience, you are introduced to everyone else who will be traveling on this experience through a private Facebook group. We introduced ourselves early on and would share content about flight deals, when to purchase your ticket, things we wanted to see and do, music and post trip plans. We hadn't met yet, but we were already building these great relationships with each other.
Travel Noire had us complete a questionnaire before the experience to get to know us a little better and to gather some important information. At this point, you can choose your roommate if you'd like or leave it up to chance.
About a week before the trip, we had a pre-trip call with TN staff and our Experience Designer who planned out the itinerary for our trip. The call answers all of your last minute questions.
During the trip:
From what I've seen on their website, TN Experiences follow a pattern.
Day 1 - Welcome to your new home for the next week. We arrived and were taken to our hotel where we had a little bit of time to relax before heading out for a mini tour and dinner. We had an authentic meal with tons of vegetarian options. The food was unlike any other cuisine I've experienced so the flavors sent my mind into an orbit. It was so good. I have a minor food allergy and both the chef and the TN Experience Designer were very alert about it and making sure that there was always an option for me.
Day 2 - Time for some history! After a light breakfast, a guide met us at the hotel and took as on a tour of Soweto. We stopped for breakfast at a local's house where she had prepared an authentic breakfast for us to enjoy outside. After breakfast we continued on our tour. For lunch, we were welcomed into another home. The entire family had chipped in to prepare this meal for us. We arrived to the sounds of drums and singing. They showed us a lot of love. We continued with our tour after lunch by walking through some of the busier areas and getting some very powerful history lessons. We wrapped up the day with dinner and music at a local restaurant. We danced the night away with some locals and had a great time.
Day 3 - We learned from a world-renowned chef about the culture of the cuisine. We went into his home where he provided lots of delicious wine and taught us how to prepare several dishes. He also had about 8 grills set up in his back yard so that we could apply the techniques we learned. We grilled meat, veggies, and enjoyed some of the dishes he prepared ahead of time. It was amazing.
Day 4 - This is your free day. Take advantage of it however you'd like. This is just about the only free time you get so make the most of it. Do some research, and plan a great day. A group of us traveled to the Apartheid Museum and the Lion Safari. The options are endless - and completely up to you.
Day 5 - Get ready to be exhausted! This is a day of exerting lots of physical activity during a morning hike. It was challenging but doable. We were provided with breakfast before our hike. They were extremely mindful of my allergy and prepared a separate meal for me, which was awesome. Following our intense hike, we went horseback riding (story for another day y'all) and swimming in a refreshing stream. We enjoyed a relaxing afternoon with a lovely lunch.
Day 6 - Today was for those who enjoy a little excitement. We started our day up in a hot-air balloon that landed in an open field with mimosas to celebrate. We had breakfast hot and waiting for us by the time we were done. When we got back to the hotel, there was enough of a break to take a shower and get dressed before our next adventure. We went to an art gallery where one of the artists had spent two days crafting a lunch for us. After hanging out with these amazing local artists, we headed back to the hotel with just enough time to pick out our outfits for our final dinner. Our last meal together was at lovely home with plenty of food and drinks. After dinner, our hosts (one of whom was a dance instructor) gave lessons. It was a great way to end the night
Day 7 - Today, after breakfast, we are all off to the airport to head home. These are our last moments together.
After the trip:
When the trip is over, TN staff will email you asking for your feedback. There is a lengthy survey to complete that asks for feedback on every detail of the trip, from meals to photography.
I loved my TN Experience. Every activity was well planned and it was very apparent that our Experience Designer has a wide network to tap into. The experience is expensive, but it was very easy to stick to a budget outside of the experience. You could probably get by with $200 USD or less during the week. That will cover meals, ubers, and souvenirs. The photographer would edit and upload photos every night. The hotel was fabulous. Staff would clean the room twice a day. The second time, they would leave a bottle of water and a glass by the bed and different snacks to have with your coffee or tea. It was one of the best hotel experiences I've ever had. We spent a lot of time with locals and they treated us like family. I think they did an excellent job of immersing us into South African culture. They care a lot about you having a great time. I would definitely recommend the Johannesburg TN experience.
Could work on:
There is a lot jam packed into this week. We didn't finish most of the activities on time, which means that it cut into a free time. As a result, I didn't really have time to purchase as many souvenirs as I would have liked. Our last two days were extremely early (up around 4 AM to ensure we made it to the excursions on time). I wish the two longest days weren't back to back. Not really a complaint, but more of an FYI: Travel Noire does not pay for alcohol. That's not at all an issue (and you get served a lot of drinks during home-cooked meals anyway), but we were nervous about staying at a halal hotel. My friend and I purchased a bottle of wine while in Madrid and we were afraid to drink it on hotel property. We felt like we were sneaking around with a bottle of wine.
If you are thinking about booking an experience with Travel Noire, go for it. I tried to keep my review simple and generic so as not to ruin the experience for anyone who is interested in purchasing. I am happy to answer questions about my experience with the company and my trip.
All photos shared in this post were shot by Lebo Lukewarm for Travel Noire.