The friendship between Dr. Leon Hart and Canyon Lakers Marv and Dorothy Griswold started 22 years ago with an invitation from Leon to cruise through the Panama Canal on a Crystal Lines Chandon Winery champagne cruise. Leon joined the couple after the cruise and they’ve been getting together around the world ever since.
So when the invitation to attend Leon’s wedding to his fiancée of 18 years was received, the couple immediately accepted. The wedding was not to be held in Abu Dhabi where the doctor serves as the personal physician to the President and Head of State of the United Arab Emeritus, but rather at the Bagatelle-Kalahari Game Ranch and Cheetah Sanctuary in Namibia, which Leon co-owns.
Guests from around the world were accommodated in the chalets atop dunes. The bride arrived on horseback accompanied by the bushmen who live on the preserve. The tribe also provided the wedding music. Animals from the preserve joined guests at the bar. “The wedding was a once in a lifetime experience,” said Marv.
Later, Marv and Dorothy were treated with the experience of feeding cheetahs. Dorothy joined Flesh, the largest of the cheetahs, in the back of a pickup truck where she was advised to scratch him behind the ears. “Flesh was a happy cheetah,” said Marv.
Following the wedding, Marv and Dorothy flew to Cape Town where they met up with their daughter Mary and son Steve for a National Geographic Tour through Africa.
The family visited Nelson Mandela’s home, Table Mountain, Cape of Good Hope, Kirstbosch Botanical Gardens, South Africa wineries, penguins at Boulders Beach and the V&A Waterfront during their visit.
After a flight to Johannesburg, where Marv and Dorothy were put up in a honeymoon suite, the family enjoyed a scenic drive to South Africa’s Kruger National Park, one of the largest animal reserves in the world.
Over the next four days, the family enjoyed wildlife safari drives in open air safari vehicles where they viewed elephants, giraffes, hippos, water buffaloes, leopards, zebras and a lion family within 10 feet of them. “It was an unforgettable experience,” Marv said.
The family’s next stop was Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe to visit the world’s largest waterfall. They visited this natural wonder of the world from both the Zambia and Zimbabwe side. The family was joined by twelve “interesting and compatible” people from around the world for this part of their National Geographic journey.
On the final day, friends from Germany and China joined the family for high tea at the renowned Stanley Terrace Restaurant, located in the Victoria Falls Hotel, overlooking the falls. “Then it was time to return to our love nest in that little bit of paradise – Canyon Lake,” said Marv.