African Safaris Consultants Blog » family safari http://blog.africansafaris.com Mon, 19 May 2014 08:17:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Top 5 Places To Take Kids On An African Safari http://blog.africansafaris.com/top-5-places-take-kids-african-safari/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=top-5-places-take-kids-african-safari http://blog.africansafaris.com/top-5-places-take-kids-african-safari/#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 06:51:38 +0000 http://blog.africansafaris.com/?p=3852 When you think back to your best childhood memories, inevitably one of your most treasured memories will stem from a family holiday. But can you really take your young ones on safari in Africa? The answer is an emphatic yes! It does require some planning but can turn into an enriching family experience which your youngsters will remember for the rest of their lives. You never know, they might even grow up to become conservationists or vets.

We asked our travel consultants (6 out of 7 happen to be mothers) to recommend their best picks of child-friendly safari lodges and hotels which are safe, and have plenty of activities to keep your youngsters entertained whilst teaching them about the African bush, predators and indigenous herbs and plants.

What better way than to take some time out and relax, whilst your little monkeys are in the capable hands of professional rangers who will teach them how to identify and track animal spoor, gain an understanding of the laws of nature and help with conservation programs.

1.     Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge

One of our top recommendations for a family-friendly safari is Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge, located in the environs of the Kruger National Park. This flagship lodge has been set up especially with families in mind and boasts the Elefun Centre, a facility to nurture children’s understanding and appreciation of nature. The experienced staff run junior tracker programs for wannabe mowglis and junior ranger programs for pre-teens, perfect to keep your kids entertained whilst you relax with a pampering spa treatment. Skilled rangers take your kids on tailor-made bush walks and game drives to explore the incredible variety of bugs, birds and wildlife that live in the Sabi Sabi Game Reserve. Activities range from arts and crafts afternoons, scavenger hunts and blindfold adventures.

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Gaining an appreciation for nature in the heart of the African bush.

2.     Lalibela Mark’s Camp

We love Lalibela Mark’s Camp for young families because of its location in the malaria free Eastern Cape. What’s more, it’s easily accessible from the Garden Route and Cape Town. The camp is set up accordingly with its big family-sized chalets, safari vehicles that have been adapted for children, a fenced-in camp with two pools, as well as services such as baby-sitting, a full program of activities, arts and crafts for children and a kiddie menu.

3.     Shamwari Game Reserve

Shamwari Game Reserve is one of our favourite family safari destinations for a number of reasons. Also located in the malaria free area of the Eastern Cape, it offers six lodges with options to suit all budgets. We recommend booking the colonial-style Riverdene Lodge with inter-leading luxury rooms, a supervised playroom and rim flow pool, as well as a jungle gym and rolling green lawns perfect for the little ones to run around on. There’s a child co-ordinator to talk you through activity options for your man-cubs, excursions to the Born Free Centre, Shamwari Wildlife Hospital and Big Cat Rescue Centre. The reserve is also home to the Shamwari Film Studio, which screens ‘Shamwari – A Wild Life’, a series that recently aired on Discovery Channel’s Animal Planet. Other activities to keep your youngsters entertained include African bead making, face painting, clay making, star-gazing and African story-telling. The reserve itself is 24 years old and well stocked with big predators and an abundance of wildlife.

4.     Londolozi

Londolozi is legendary! It is one of the most well established and best loved game reserves in the Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve. If budget is not too much of a concern, it is the perfect setting for families to bond and share once in a lifetime wildlife experiences. We recommend staying at either the Founders or Varty Camp, where you will find the Cub Den which features Land Rovers to ‘drive’, a fish pond to splash around in, various campout tents and an educational centre. Book your older children into bushveld excursions which are run by expert rangers and include fun activities such as catching insects, bird watching, spoor identification, African dance, candle making and drumming. Parents, meanwhile, can go on game drives to get extraordinarily close to the Big Five or relax in the beautiful surroundings.

The spectacular Londolozi.

The spectacular Londolozi.

5.     Mala Mala Main Camp

We love Mala Mala Main Camp as they welcome all ages, including teddy bears and pet dinosaurs! Children between the ages of 4 and 12 receive a Mala Mala backpack on arrival which includes items such as a compass, thermometer, interactive animal check-list and colouring books. The experienced rangers teach youngsters an appreciation of the African bush as well as basic bush survival skills, advice on how to spot the warning signs of dangerous animals, how to track animals and identify their droppings. The camp itself is the perfect blend of bush lodge and luxurious accommodation, complete with pool, sizeable rooms, babysitters and a menu to cater for all tastes. Best of all, you’re right in the heart of some of South Africa’s best game spotting territory!

A note on malaria

Whilst many of Africa’s game parks are situated in areas that are not malaria free, South Africa’s Eastern Cape, Madikwe and Waterberg regions are malaria-free game reserves that include the Big Five. Fortunately malaria is less prevalent during the cooler months (May to September) when the Kruger National Park and Northern KwaZulu Natal become lower risk. Prophylactics (tablets taken as part of a course during and after your stay) are an effective deterrent, along with anti-mosquito bite precautions (deet-free sprays and repellents) and nets. Children under the age of 5 cannot take malaria prophylactics, and so we advise that you only travel to the malaria free reserves in the Eastern Cape, Madikwe and Waterberg areas.

For a memorable wildlife experience, special bonding time and photo opportunities for you and your children to cherish forever, come and discover the magic and mystery of Africa together, as a family.

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Kids love the thrill and excitement of a guided Safari walk.

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My First Family Safari http://blog.africansafaris.com/my-first-family-safari/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=my-first-family-safari http://blog.africansafaris.com/my-first-family-safari/#comments Fri, 29 Jun 2012 12:05:12 +0000 http://blog.africansafaris.com/?p=2782 Liesl, one of African Safari Consultants top Safari Gurus, recently took her young family for their first safari to Honeyguide Khoka Moya. What follows are her diary entries documenting the big adventure…

Sunday 24 June

We’d been counting down the sleeps for weeks, and they had finally reached zero. The kids were running around like wild horses – encouraging my husband and I to “hurry up!” – so keen were they to leave (pity they can’t be this enthusiastict when it’s time to go to school!). When we were all ready, we were in the car and off to the airport well in time for the short Airlink flight from Cape Town to Nelspruit.

Arriving at a beautifully thatched Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport building, we collected our bags and headed to the Avis counter to collect our chariot. After making the necessary vehicle checks, we were off  for my children’s’ (four and six) very first safari experience! Excitement in our small VW Polo quickly turned to countless ” are we there yets!?” and, after a minor detour, we finally arrived just before 4pm.  Brett, our host, showed us our tents to a collective “Wow!” from the kids.

Khoka Moya Tent Interior

Khoka Moya Tent Interior

The kids each had their own bed on either side of the room with their own private mosquito nets. Dad and I got the extra large King bed with mosquito barrier – bliss!  We quickly settled in, after the excitement had settled to a more manageable level.

We freshened up and made our way down to reception for our evening game drive but, before we could even get to our vehicle, Brett stopped us because of a large male elephant in camp. I think I heard the kid’s hearts skip a beat, but Ruby was ready to run up to the elephant and make friends!  I tried to explain to her, a four year old, that elephant bulls didn’t make good friends for small children but this was met with some scepticism.  After the gentle giant had wandered off, we were finally off on our game drive – which proved very fruitful indeed. We saw (more) elephant; zebra; warthog; a small spotted gennet; a side stripped jackal; wildebeest and a giraffe.

The kids were ecstatic with the day’s viewing and we toasted the greatest African sunset with sundowners, after a  fantastic afternoon in the Manyeleti reserve!

Drinks around the camp fire followed sundowners before dinner was served, complete with backing drumbeat! We were both exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. Dinner was a fabulously sumptuous affair! Greek salad with a twist; lamb shank and roast veggies; and sticky toffee pudding all combined to knock our respective socks off.

Getting the kids to shut down for bed is a story for another day, but eventually we all crashed soundly in the fresh African air around 10pm.

Monday 25 June

Fast asleep until 6 am, when the sounds of the drumbeat gently woke us up, the Matthews family was ready for Day 2! Fanuel knocked at the door with a tray of hot chocolate and coffee – paradise! Layering up took some time but with the wind chill factor on game drives in winter you need all the layers you can come up with.

We met up with Fanuel and our tracker Douglas for our morning drive. It was cold! But like seriously cold. My cheeks felt like they might freeze and fall off  but it was so worth it because we ended up with a morning of great sightings including elephant; zebra; water buck; impala; duiker; wildebeest;  rhino; warthog; buffalo and the prettiest of them all – a leopard. We were also fortunate enough to hear the magical sound of Africa – the call of the fish eagle – so we were truly content.

Nothing like an African sunset!

Nothing like an African sunset!

Our guides looked tirelessly for the elusive lions, but alas we didnt get to see them. Four out of (the big) five ain’t too bad for our morning drive though! We got back late because of all the action, but waiting for us back at the lodge was a huge breakfast feast. After a great breakfast, we headed back to out to our tent for a well deserved shower and rest which extended all the way through to midday. Lunch and dinner were equally good and it dawned on me that this really was the way to live. The kids agree!

 

Dining beneath the African stars

Dining beneath the African stars

By: Liesl Matthews

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The McClay’s African Adventure http://blog.africansafaris.com/the-mcclays-african-adventure/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-mcclays-african-adventure http://blog.africansafaris.com/the-mcclays-african-adventure/#comments Wed, 30 May 2012 08:17:27 +0000 http://blog.africansafaris.com/?p=2762 The team at African Safari Consultants recently received this amazingly positive feedback from the McClays, for whom we’d organised their dream African safari. Donna McClay was kind enough to provide us with some excerpts of her travel diary, which we’ve included below. Enjoy!

After all the months of planning and research, I can honestly say that everything exceeded our expectations and then some!  You both provided us with fantastic guidance and our final itinerary of Cape Town, Botswana and Zambia could not have been more perfect for us and our 2 adult children.  Nothing can quite prepare you for the magic that is Africa.  Here then are the highlights of our trip.

As you know, this trip was planned to coincide with our daughter, Mary, finishing her semester abroad program in South Africa.  We arrived in Johannesburg on May 4th and met up with Mary at the airport.  We spent the night in Johannesburg and left for Cape Town the morning of the 5th.  Charlie, our guide in Cape Town, was just the best!  He deftly arranged for us to see all the highlights Cape Town has to offer in 3 full days.  Our tour of the Cape Peninsula, the Eagle and Cheetah conservation projects in Stellenbosch, and our excursion to Table Mountain were spectacular indeed.  Charlie was even able to find a store in the Cape Quarter for me to buy some of the Cape Malay spices to take home.  Of course, having the opportunity to meet up with Jeff at Beluga our last night in town was a special treat.

Camps Bay © Jeff McClay

Camps Bay © Jeff McClay

 

The morning of the 9th we departed for Botswana via Johannesburg and Maun.  From Maun, we took our bush flight to Savute Safari Lodge in the Chobe National Park where we were met by Gee, our guide during our stay at Savute.  The lodge is just fantastic – our rooms overlooked the watering hole where elephant herds would make regular visits during our stay.  Our hosts, MC and Michelle made sure we had all the comforts of home.  The game drives in Savute were the best viewing we had the entire time on safari.  In the first two days we saw leopard and lions, which according to my daughter, is very lucky indeed!  Gee’s skill at tracking wildlife made the game drives very exciting, and we loved the sundowners out in the field with our safari buddies from the Netherlands.

During our last sundowner, the call came in that lions had been spotted and we literally dropped everything and jumped in the jeep for a wild ride reminiscent of the Indiana Jones attraction at Disneyland!  Our wildlife sightings also included elephant, zebras, cape buffalo, wildebeest, giraffe and warthogs.  After 2 nights, we departed Savute for Camp Moremi in the Okavango Delta (Xaxanaka Lagoon).

 

Zebra  © Jeff McClay

Zebra © Jeff McClay

 

Camp Moremi was a very different environment where we were able to see many avian species on the water (and kept our distance from the hippos!), including a fish eagle who had just scooped up a tilapia and was enjoying his dinner in a tree.  Frank, our guide, was delightful, and even made a necklace for Mary out of a water lily during our afternoon cruise on the lagoon.  We found the elusive wild dogs hanging out under some bushes during one of our game drives.  BK, Hannah and Charity were lovely hosts and we so enjoyed the evening choir concerts before each dinner.  After our 2 nights at Moremi, we left for Leroo La Tau in the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park.

Our rooms at Leroo La Tau faced the channel where we watched herds of elephant and zebra come down to the water.  We even heard lions roaring during the night.  Juan, Priscilla and Fred were terrific hosts, and arranged a lovely 21st birthday celebration for Mary, complete with birthday cake and candles!  It certainly was a far cry from the standard Las Vegas blowout most of her friends have experienced.  How many college students can say they spent their 21st birthday in Botswana?  Calvin, our guide took us on a tour of his village where we visited a primary school and a clinic.  We brought some school supplies and marveled at the dedication of the teachers and the politeness of the students who greeted us as we walked into their classrooms.  By the end of our week-long safari in Botswana, we had seen everything but rhinos.

Leroo Le Tau © Jeff McClay

Leroo Le Tau © Jeff McClay

 

Our last stop was Zambia and the Isands of Siankaba, located about an hour from Victoria Falls.  Our trip would take us by plane from Leroo La Tau to Kasane, where we were met by a Bushtracks guide who drove us to the Chobe River.  From there we transferred to a boat to cross the river into Zambia, where we were met by another Bushtracks guide who drove us to the lodge.  We were able to experience the African version of Four Corners where the countries of Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe meet in the middle of the Chobe River, much like the states of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet in the southwest U.S.

The lodge is located on the Zambezi River and is an idyllic setting located in the treetops and connected by rope bridges and platforms above the river.  Nothing can compare to listening to the sounds of the mighty Zambezi at night as you are falling asleep, including the occasional hippo snort!  What an incredible ending to our vacation.  The lodge is truly 5-star with amazing food and lovely accommodations.  Graham, Brett and Claire and their staff are definitely top notch.  They arranged a lovely birthday celebration for Paul’s 60th birthday.  Matthews took us on a tour of his village which included a stop at the preschool where the children entertained us with songs and imitations of Zambian chameleons!  They were thrilled to line up for happy face stickers which we brought along with more school supplies.

 

Leopard © Jeff McClay

Leopard © Jeff McClay

The highlight of our stay was the trip to Victoria Falls escorted by Lucky, our guide.  He took us on all the trails for the best views of the falls, and gamely carried 5 sets of rain gear for us to put on!  Needless to say, I was a bit nervous listening to Jeff and Mary talk about swimming in Devil’s Pool and white water rafting (both of which were closed, thank goodness!).  When they decided on the zip line across the gorge, I felt my stomach turn as I realized they expected me to do it too!  Well, there was no way I was going to wimp out, and on the video you can hear Jeff say, “I can’t believe she actually did it!”  The falls was truly awe-inspiring and like nothing we’ve ever seen.  We left Zambia on the 18th for our marathon flight home to San Diego.

Jeff and Liesl, every aspect of our trip was spot on – no delays, missed connections, late flights or missing transfer drivers.  We came home with thousands of pictures, some of which I have included here, and many incredible memories.  Thanks to your expert consultation, we had the trip of a lifetime and have been smitten by the people and places we’ve experienced.  We hope to plan another adventure to Africa – perhaps Namibia next time and will be sure to call you!

Many thanks to the McClay’s for the kind words and awesome pictures! If you’d like to see more of the McClay’s pictures, check out our Client Submissions pin board on Pinterest.

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5 Tips for Taking Your Kids On Safari http://blog.africansafaris.com/5-tips-for-taking-your-kids-on-safari/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=5-tips-for-taking-your-kids-on-safari http://blog.africansafaris.com/5-tips-for-taking-your-kids-on-safari/#comments Wed, 04 Jan 2012 18:21:03 +0000 http://blog.africansafaris.com/?p=2260 One of the fastest growing trends in family vacation travel is African Safaris.  Not only do kids love seeing the animals in the wild, but parents love spending quality time with their kids in an exotic environment which provides a vacation of a lifetime that is educational and memorable.  If you are thinking about taking your family on an African Safari, here are 5 tips by guest blogger Adam Riemer to help make it easier for you and your kids to enjoy the trip.

 

Kids on Safari

Kids on Safari

1.  Plan the plane ride ahead of time.  You will be flying and on layovers for a very long time to reach Africa.  But it is so worth the trip!  In order to make the flight easier for you and your kids, make it an educational and fun. Buy African themed movies (ie: Madagascar) as well as coloring books and educational games that feature the African animals. Quiz your kids about the animals and where they will see them. This will get them excited for the countries you will visit and keep them entertained for hours.

2.  Pack mix and match clothing.  Because you may be visiting multiple countries and suitcase space is limited, find clothing and kids pajamas that can be interchangeable.  If your kids like superman, you can pack a red and blue superman pajama tops  and a red and blue pair of pajama bottoms, now you have 4 pairs of pajamas for them to choose from instead of having to waste space with 8 pieces.

3.  Get them accustomed to the local food.  If you’re a parent you know that kids can be very picky. You should research the places you will be visiting and look at the menus.  Maybe try a few of the recipes at home so that your kids get to know them and are able to order them when they are in Africa.  Not only will this help you find something they will eat, but they will be excited to be able to order in the native language when you are on Safari.

 4.  Bring something from home.  Going to a resort in the US is one thing, but taking your kids to somewhere that is 100% different from anything they have ever seen and being surrounded by strange languages, is another.  By letting your kids bring one well-loved toy or small blanket, you can help to eliminate any homesick feelings.

 5.  Pack a medicine box. You don’t have to pack your enitre medicine chest, as hotels and lodges have sufficient first aid kits. But be sure to bring the basics so that you have immediate access to brands of medication that you and your kids are familiar with.

Environmental education made fun

Environmental education made fun

Africa is one of the most amazing family destinations. From Cape Town to the Kruger National Park via the Garden Route and then up to Victoria Falls. If you have more time, you should include Kenya and Tanzania and time on the beach near Zanzibar. Your kids will get to see more wildlife than they ever imagined, and will go to sleep each night exhausted and happy so that you and your partner can free to share romantic evenings under the African stars together - enjoy it!

Guest Post By: Adam Riemer

Adam is a blogger who has been to more than 18 countries.  With his sites and his own travels, he has helped travelers plan everything from family vacations to gay weddings  and even finding the right broadway show to see when you’re in New York.

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Tanzania Tour Diary http://blog.africansafaris.com/tanzania-tour-diary/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tanzania-tour-diary http://blog.africansafaris.com/tanzania-tour-diary/#comments Fri, 11 Nov 2011 15:28:56 +0000 http://africansafaris.com/blogdirectory/?p=1152 Our Safari Honcho, Jeff Ward, recently spent a week exploring the beautiful country of Tanzania. The below are excerpts of his trip as he recounts his amazing experiences…

Day 1:

 

I arrive at the Mount Meru Hotel in Arusha after a long spell of travelling. It’s the perfect spot for a one night pre or post safari stay, and it has a wonderful day room scenario for the late KLM flights out of JRO.

The Hotel has that old world charm that reminds me of the Mount Nelson in Cape Town… the perfect place to take Gran to tea.

The next day, I headed out to Tarangire National Park. The drive was extremely long but there was lots of good game on the way, including a python in a tree!

Day 2

The rooms at Tarangire Tree Tops Lodge are all built around a big old Baobab and Marula trees. A real tree house feel with great views.

 

Tarangire Tree Tops

Tarangire Tree Tops

 

There’s a watering hole right at the front of the lodge where we saw baboons playing (and fighting) while we had lunch.

Swala Sanctuary Camp

This under-canvas camp is right in the middle of the Tarangire National Park, so you can’t beat the location. With 12 tents, this is one of my all-time favorites.  The camp was completely renovated in 2009 and it shows. The place looks terrific. The large tents are permanently fixed on platforms and have full amenities. There is an outdoor shower for each room, with most overlooking the VERY active water hole. Guests at breakfast witnessed a mama lion snacking on a baby warthog this morning. The new managers are in the process of introducing walking safaris, which will be cool.

Swala Sanctuary Lodge

Swala Sanctuary Lodge

Day 4:

Manyara Serena Lodge

We did not have an appointment here, but Adam, my Akorn Driver/Guide thought it might be worthwhile to see.

We got a quick tour of the Manyara Serena which is right at the top of the escarpment. It has 67 rooms and was built in the 1990s. It was spacious, open, and clean, and had beautiful gardens for the grounds.

The lodge has amazing views out over Manyara and also has a refreshing pool that also overlooks the fertile valley below.

 

Manyara Serena Lodge

Manyara Serena Lodge

 

After breakfast at Manyara Ranch, we headed north-west past Lake Manyara National Park and up the Great Rift Valley escarpment  headed to the Karatu Highlands, where it was lush, green, and very pretty.

 

Karatu Highlands

Karatu Highlands

 

Gibbs Farm

I loved this place. They were expecting us and made us feel so welcome. We were immediately offered lunch from the buffet, which offered food that was almost completely grown on the farm (yes, the best meal I’d had so far). The front-office manager dined with us and was available to answer all of my questions. The environment was calm, serene and very relaxing.

Gibbs Farm Bedroom

Gibbs Farm Bedroom

 

 

The lodge sits adjacent to the Ngorongoro Crater National Park and has amazing views that overlook the highlands. There are 21 rooms — 3 older ones (2 of which are in the old home), and 18 new ones. All rooms are basically suites with sleeping, lounging and outside terrace areas. They are very, very well done and remind me a lot of LQF in Franschhoek. There are numerous “Rhythm of the Farm” activities offered and guests can basically stay busy all day (starting with bread baking at 6:30 am). Free activities include farm and garden tours, but there are also many other lower-priced activities in the park (hiking, mountain biking, etc.).

Best time of year to visit is June/July/August (especially for birding) and November/December when everything is green and the gardens are blooming.

At the end of the inspection, they gave me a 10-minute massage with a Masai traditional healer. It was amazing. I’m sold.

 

Masai Traditional Healer

Masai Traditional Healer

 

Manor Lodge

I loved this place, too, as it totally hit the JW-POSH button. It’s beautiful, it’s luxurious. The lodge is only 3 years old and it’s impeccable. Every guest will have each meal in a different location (of course, weather permitting). The have 4 horses (retired Kenyan polo ponies), a massage room, and a manicurist/pedicurist on staff.

The grounds are the loveliest I’ve seen in Tanzania. And the staff were all incredibly friendly.

Manor at Ngorongoro Crater

Manor at Ngorongoro Crater

 

 

Ngorogoro Crater Lodge

Wow! This place is definitely over the top and understandably the most expensive lodge around. The B&B product is very, very tight and the customer experience is one of the best I’d had this trip.

Each room has sweeping views of the crater, and is huge with separate living, terrace, sleeping, and mombo-sized bath areas. Any one of these rooms would be perfect for honeymooners. The Tree Camp rooms are somewhat smaller and have somewhat obstructed views of the crater, due to the foliage.

The lodge is great for honeymooners and families alike.

 

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge

 

Day 5:

Serena Crater Lodge

Best suited for tour groups or those seeking less-expensive accommodation on the Crater, and cannot afford the Ngorogoro Crater Lodge.

 

Ngorongoro Serena Lodge

Ngorongoro Serena Lodge

 

Lake Masek Tented Lodge

Actually not in the Serengeti National Park, but instead in the Ngorogoro conservation area. This is a lovely 20-tent property owned also by Tanzanian entrepreneur Willy Chamulo. Tents are nicely appointed with tubs and outdoor showers. Built in 2009, the camp is 100% solar powered – nice one Willy!

Best lodge in the area…

 

Lake Masek Tented Lodge

Lake Masek Tented Lodge

 

Sanctuary Kusini Tented Camp

After a long day of driving, I was so happy to get to this lodge. There’s a large rock formation adjacent to the camp, which is fun to climb and has a stunning 360-view of the Serengeti.

 

Sanctuary Kusini

Sanctuary Kusini

 

Day 6:

 

After leaving Kasini, we continued through the Serengeti to Dunia Camp.

Dunia is a permanent tented camp lodge. The camp is 100% solar powered and has bucket showers available 24/7. There is also power available in the tents. It’s well appointed and the staff greeted me warmly. The camp feels like a luxury, mobile tented camp, but rustically elegant and a bit nicer than the standard mobile option.

 

Dunia Camp

Dunia Camp

 

Bilila Kempinski / Four Seasons

Built in 2009 this large, luxury lodge hotel is owned by a wealthy Arab investor so its super luxurious, world-class and very pretty. It has 2 dining venues, wine cellar, large spa, pool area, and sweeping views of the plains.

Perfect for guests who want a large, luxury lodge experience. Not for those who want an intimate camp.

 

Bilila Kempinski Lodge

Bilila Kempinski Lodge

 

Kirawira Tented Camp

This camp, built in 1998 is part of the Serena hotel group (which I learned is part of the Aga Khan’s empire). It’s a SLH (Small Luxury Hotel) property and the common areas have a clubby, intimate feel to them. There are 25 tents, all of which are on vaulted platforms offering amazing views of the Serengeti..

The one thing I didn’t like was the decor of the tent rooms. It looked like it had not been updated since opening, and the bedding was definitely not up to international luxury standards (i.e. duvet covers instead of cotton/poly bedspreads).

The management was welcoming and accommodating and the camp is in a great location with excellent common areas and views. I couldn’t find anything wrong with this place other than the outdated room decor.

 

Kirawira Tented Camp

Kirawira Tented Camp

 

&Beyond Grumeti Tented Camp

For my 6th night on the road, we stayed in Grumeti camp, which is located on a tributary of the Grumeti river, inside the Serengeti national park. The most interesting aspect of the lodge’s location is the large number of hippo in the river right in front of main lodge. There are 3 families and the hippos are very rambunctious (i.e. active and loud). Across the tributary, on the other side, there’s also a lot of other game viewing (giraffes, monkeys, impala, etc).

The staff here was VERY high-touch, with on-going name usage with all guests. The &Beyond lodges all stand out above the rest in their customer service and friendly, confident levels of service (as opposed to Sanctuary’s very timid, unconfident lodge wait staff). There’s a butler assigned to every guest, who is there for every whim (and meal).

I found the food above-average, and some of the best I had on the trip.

 

Singita-Grumeti Camp

Singita-Grumeti Camp

 

Day 7:

After leaving Grumeti Camp, we were able to do a site inspection at one of the Singita Grumeti camps:

Singita Sabora Lodge

The first of the 3 Singita lodges in the Grumeti concession, adjacent to the Serengeti national park, this luxury tented camp is run like the other Singita proprieties — all-inclusive with game package. Basically, all the East Africa tour operators drop the clients at the lodge and step away.

There are 9 luxurious tents, built on platforms, that are suite-sized. 6 of the tents are arranged in pairs (but still can be sold as singles), sharing a library tent between them.

The lodge is pure Singita in every aspect. It’s luxurious, serene, and tasteful on all fronts. There is a pool, spa, tennis courts, wifi throughout, and air conditioning in the tents.

Sabora sits out in the middle of the plains and is beautifully located. There’s nothing around besides the resident family of zebras in the camp, just in front of the main lodge.

The game is starting to come back after years of depletion.

 

Game viewing at Singita

Game viewing at Singita

 

After flying back to Arusha, and then to DAR, I transferred by land out to the Ras Kutani Beach Lodge.

With no traffic, it’s a 1:15 drive from the DAR airport (mine was 1:45 in traffic), or a 12-minute air hop. This lodge provides a very nice, relaxing alternative for an after-safari beach experience. The lodge is part of the Selous safari company portfolio, along with their 2 Selous lodges. The property has 4 suites, with private plunge pools, 9 “castaway chic” cottages, and 1 family cottage. a few of the cottages have lagoon views.

Their cottages have large verandas with hammocks, spacious king/twin rooms, and large bath areas. The resort is super causal, with most guests walking around barefoot. There’s a beautiful beach with very warm water for those mid afternoon dips.

For my return flight out, I had a 7am air hop transfer back to DAR, in more than enough time for my 8:35 am BA flight back to London.

Ras Kutani is a well-kept secret and the perfect solution for guests needing to overnight in Dar es Salaam. Two nights here after the northern circuit, or Selous, is the perfect way to end a safari. It’s also closer than Zanzibar and provides a good alternative.

 

Ras Kutani Beach

Ras Kutani Beach

 

All said, Tanzania is a beautiful country with plenty to offer a variety of visitors. Get in touch with us here at African Safari Consultants and we’ll make sure your trip is as unforgettable as Jeff’s.

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We’ve been nominated for Travel & Leisure magazine’s A-List Travel Agent awards! http://blog.africansafaris.com/we%e2%80%99ve-been-nominated-for-travel-leisure-magazine%e2%80%99s-a-list-travel-agent-awards/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=we%25e2%2580%2599ve-been-nominated-for-travel-leisure-magazine%25e2%2580%2599s-a-list-travel-agent-awards http://blog.africansafaris.com/we%e2%80%99ve-been-nominated-for-travel-leisure-magazine%e2%80%99s-a-list-travel-agent-awards/#comments Mon, 03 Oct 2011 08:50:42 +0000 http://africansafaris.com/blogdirectory/?p=1057 “As long time T&L (Travel & Leisure Magazine) readers and subscribers, we want to tell you about our recent trip to South Africa, Botswana, Zambia & Namibia, and to nominate our Tour Operator, African Safari Consultants, for your 2012 A-List. We were celebrating our 20th anniversary, and wanted to plan a “trip of a lifetime.”  We knew we wanted to go to Africa, but had no idea where to start or how to narrow down our choices.  Enter African Safari Consultants.  With over fifteen years of experience, and a wonderful, informative website, ASC’s head honchos Jeff Ward in NY and Liesl Matthews in Cape Town worked tirelessly with us to figure out which countries, habitats, and lodges would best suit our needs.  They were wonderful at planning a trip that fit our budget, and the varied needs of two old fogies, as well as our teenage children.  They were endlessly patient as we went back and forth about cost, level of luxury, and types of lodges, giving advice that was helpful, accurate, and based on a thorough first-hand knowledge of the locations we were considering. They even considered when we would need unscheduled down time (after our two day journey from IAH-LHR-CPT), and when we would be happy to go-go-go.

We were particularly cognizant of the value of having someone in NY and in Cape Town looking out for us when, in the middle of our trip, a Chilean volcano eruption caused the cancellation of one of our flights.  Liesl quickly got us rebooked and all of our downline transfers re-organized so that we were able to rejoin our intended itinerary as soon as the skies cleared.  This had the potential to be a nightmare, but ended up being a small blip on our radar screens thanks to the excellent in-country support of ASC.

Our expectations were high, but our trip far surpassed them.  Every part of the trip was just as advertised by the folks at ASC.  There were no unpleasant surprises, and we would HIGHLY recommend them to anyone planning a trip to Africa.

We would be happy to answer any questions you might have about our experience with ASC.”

Jill & John Pollock, Houston, TX

 

 

 

 

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A significant piece of History – STEVE BIKO – 12 September 1977 http://blog.africansafaris.com/a-significant-piece-of-history-%e2%80%93-steve-biko-%e2%80%93-12-september-1977/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-significant-piece-of-history-%25e2%2580%2593-steve-biko-%25e2%2580%2593-12-september-1977 http://blog.africansafaris.com/a-significant-piece-of-history-%e2%80%93-steve-biko-%e2%80%93-12-september-1977/#comments Mon, 12 Sep 2011 10:37:33 +0000 http://africansafaris.com/blogdirectory/?p=987 Some South African History

There are some fairly significant historical moments around this time.  The most notable this year of course is the 10th anniversary of 9/11 – a tragedy beyond comprehension, and a fairly important piece of American history.  Our hearts go out to all those who are mourning and remembering their losses at this time.

I think times like this are good for reflection and remembrance.  In South Africa today – 12 September – we also have a noteworthy piece of our past to reflect on.  In 1977 a young man by the name of Steve Biko died while in police custody.  He was only 30 years old.  He was interrogated in Police Room 619 for 22 hours, tortured and beaten so severely that he went into a coma.  He suffered a major head injury while in police custody.  It was reported at the time that this head injury was a result of an attempted suicide by Biko, “hitting his head against the wall”.  At deaths door, he was thrown into the back of a land rover and driven 1,100km from Port Elizabeth to Pretoria where he was admitted to a prison with hospital facilities.  He died shortly after arrival at the hospital – it was the 12th of September 1977.

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia - Steve Biko

The police at the time also claimed that he died due to an extended hunger strike.  However, an autopsy done reveals that he died from a brain hemorrhage caused by massive injuries to the head.  I was 3 years old at the time – so this is not a death that I remember consciously.  But I have to question why older people at the time did not think it was strange that a political activist in Apartheid South Africa died while in police custody?

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

It is South Africa’s current Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille, working alongside a personal journalist friend of Steve Biko’s, Donald Wood who exposed the police coverup in 1977.  This was a high profile case at the time and it got a massive amount of international exposure.  Biko was the founder of the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa and would empower much of the urban black population.  He played a part in the organizing of protests which led to the Soweto Uprising on the 16th of June 1976 where a heavily armed police force fired on innocent school children, killing many.

There is no doubt, that were Steve Biko still alive today, he would have played a significant part in the rebuilding of South Africa, the Rainbow Nation.  And it is a reminder for those of us that live in these times, how terribly important freedom of expression is!

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My Favorite African Places http://blog.africansafaris.com/my-favorite-african-places/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=my-favorite-african-places http://blog.africansafaris.com/my-favorite-african-places/#comments Mon, 29 Aug 2011 12:42:27 +0000 http://africansafaris.com/blogdirectory/?p=937 That ultimate African destination

With Irene causing havoc along the coast of the USA it is a good time to remind you of why you should visit our beautiful continent Africa!  I have also covered some good tips on how to choose your Safari in previous blog posts (so go back and have a look) which just adds substance to the above!

The main difficultly I have with this subject is actually where to start!  There is so much here to indulge in.  You are also spoilt for type of holiday – from adventure, to romance, viby cities to desolate wilderness, vacations for retired folks as well as vacations for families!  Maybe the easy way to do this is to list some of my favorites and hopefully that sparks off a desire in you to get away from the first world havoc and come and see what Africa is all about!

Having grown up in South Africa I have been privileged enough to regularly enjoy areas like the Kruger National Park, Garden Route, Kwa-Zulu Natal, and even the Malaria free areas of the Eastern Cape and Madikwe.  I can speak endlessly about the sea, mountains, wildlife, people and just awesome beauty that South Africa holds.   It honestly is one of the most beautiful countries I have been too – and I have traveled fairly extensively!  If you want variety – South Africa is it!

My favorite for game experiences has to be Zambia and the South Luangwa National Park.  I don’t think I have ever seen so many lion and the hippos – wow!  But the other awesome thing about South Luangwa is the walking.  If you’ve had a few safari experiences in your life and are looking for something a little different, than walking safaris are the way to go!  It is super thrilling and you really have the opportunity to get very close to nature and wildlife.

I also relish the opportunity to get away from it all, leave the rat race behind.  I love going to places where I don’t see many people, have amazing views, can see millions of stars at night (this is quite common throughout Africa actually!) and have experiences that are just totally different to everyday life.  One country that gave me all of this was Namibia.  The baron vast endlessness……..and honestly, it is impossible to take a bad photo (unless of course you stupidly have your camera on the wrong settings)!  Namibia delivers on so many levels.

My final thoughts for today are with the Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana.  A truly magical place that not many people have the opportunity of experiencing!  The desert adapted wildlife throws a whole new perspective on how remarkable nature is.  Whether you travel in the wet season or the dry season this place puts the world into perspective and reminds you of what is actually important.

Don’t forget to contact us if you want any advice on the above!  Or please let me know your favorite places?

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How to choose your Safari – Part 2 http://blog.africansafaris.com/how-to-choose-your-safari-part-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-to-choose-your-safari-part-2 http://blog.africansafaris.com/how-to-choose-your-safari-part-2/#comments Wed, 24 Aug 2011 14:55:59 +0000 http://africansafaris.com/blogdirectory/?p=932 Choosing the right safari

Last week I promised a few more tips on how to choose the right safari.  Last week I covered:

1.  When do you want to go?
2. Winter vs Summer?
3. Malaria Free Safaris?
4. Your budget?

With these 4 questions covered we can look at getting a little more specific about your experience.

Once you have covered the above the next thing that I would ask is what kind of vacation or safari are you looking for and who are you traveling with?
There are options out there that are more suited to families, older generations, honeymooners, adventurers, 1st time safari goers and those looking to volunteer and give something back.  So believe it or not, this is an important consideration and really helps your consultant provide you with the product best suited to you.

Although your budget might decide where you can go – it would be good for you to have an idea about this too?  There are plenty of choices out there – somewhere like East Africa with Kenya and Tanzania and of course the Gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda – has been on the safari circuit for decades.  They are awesome destinations for game viewing and they can be busy and expensive.  Botswana is going to give you an exclusive wilderness experience.  I think it has been said that there are more beds in the Cape Town Waterfront, then in the whole of Botswana!  Because of this exclusivity there is a premium cost attached to staying in this beautiful country.
South Africa has marketed itself well over the years and certainly is a destination that has something for everyone.  So if you are looking for other experiences to include with your Safari, then perhaps South Africa is the right place for you.   Of course – if you like Deserts……nothing compares to dunes and ancient paths in Namibia.

The last thing I would consider when making my safari choice is how much support these establishments are providing to the local communities and how much they are giving back to wildlife.  This is actually something that you do find often now and I think it is an important consideration.  You want to know that you are also giving back to the local people and wildlife you are seeing.

In this way we all play a small part in preserving our Earth’s amazing treasures.  I hope this has been useful.  I always value any comments or thoughts so please feel free to add yours!

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How to choose that African Safari http://blog.africansafaris.com/how-to-choose-that-african-safari/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-to-choose-that-african-safari http://blog.africansafaris.com/how-to-choose-that-african-safari/#comments Mon, 15 Aug 2011 14:42:51 +0000 http://africansafaris.com/blogdirectory/?p=894 Tips for choosing the right Safari Vacation

We are often asked in this business where the best place to go on safari is.  People ask this without realizing the choice that is out there and without really thinking about what it is they want to get out of the experience.  Everyone is different, and we are all looking for that awesome “thing” that we can tell all our friends about, or that will last a lifetime.

By choosing a Safari destination you are one up on everybody already!  It is a totally unique, mind blowing, awesome thing.  You will never experience anything like it, anywhere else in the world.  That is why Africa is so unique!  That should be enough to sell you on the ultimate vacation…..but if you still need some pointers on how to choose the right Safari, below are a few pointers:

1.  When do you want to go?  – The biggest thing to remember is that the seasons are opposite way round in the southern hemisphere, where most of your big safari destinations are.  So summer in the northern hemisphere is winter in the southern.  The good thing about this is that winter in the southern hemisphere is generally the best time for game viewing.  The general lack of rain in the winter months keeps the vegetation dry and short – this allows for much easier spotting of wildlife or the big 5.

2. Even though winter months are generally better for game viewing, the summer months also provide their advantages.  These are primarily better package deals due to the “low season”, but it also provides a more intimate safari experience.  The summer months are not as busy as the winter months.  My favorite summer safari experience are the magical, electric thunder storms.   Paints a safari in a whole new light.

3.  You should consider if you are looking for a Malaria free safari or if you are comfortable taking prophylactics or other precautions.  Certainly there are times when a Malaria risk is not good – usually involving pregnant ladies or very young babies.  There are not many areas that are Malaria free, but South Africa has 2 locations – Madikwe and the Eastern Cape.

4. The final pointer for today is your budget.  Everyone has a budget in mind when going on vacation and a safari vacation is no different.  The advantage about Safari’s is the broad range of price choice over a wide range of destinations.  Some countries offer value for money, others offer the ultimate in privacy and exclusivity, some have been hosting safaris for generations, while others allow for pristine wilderness.

So you need to decide what your important factors are for this ultimate vacation experience.  Next week I will highlight a few more that should really help you make the perfect decision!

One of the Big 5 - The King of the Savanna

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