African Safaris Consultants Blog » African Safaris http://blog.africansafaris.com Fri, 11 Apr 2014 09:28:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Zebra Migration http://blog.africansafaris.com/botswanas-makgadikgadi-zebra-migration/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=botswanas-makgadikgadi-zebra-migration http://blog.africansafaris.com/botswanas-makgadikgadi-zebra-migration/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 07:38:53 +0000 http://blog.africansafaris.com/?p=3868 It is well known in traveller circles that Botswana offers amazing safari experiences and untouched, raw natural beauty, but have you heard of the zebra migration in the Makgadigadi? Although not as famous as the Great Wildebeest Migration up in East Africa, the zebra migration is still a spectacular sight and is unique to this corner of Botswana. This particular migration, Africa’s second largest after the Serengeti migration, takes place after the December/January rains which, by February/ March, have transformed the arid expanse of the massive Makgadikgadi salt pans into a paradise of shallow streams, large pool-like puddles and vibrant green vistas.

The Okavango Delta and ancient Lake Makgadikgadi sit in the middle of the arid Botswana hinterland but, fed by the Okavango River (which in turn is fed by the rains in the Angolan highlands), the Delta swells each rainy season and creates a vast wetland teeming with life. A few hundred kilometers south is a dry lake that once would have also been an oasis, but nowadays is a salt pan created by endless seasons of evaporating water that never finds its way to the sea. The migration of some 30 000 strong zebra is a traditional journey between the two, in search of mineral-rich grasses, safe breeding grounds and, of course, water.

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The unspoilt wonder of the Makgadigadi Pans.

The sight of herds of zebras on the move across the Kalahari Desert on their 680 km migration as they spread out into the remote, briefly verdant salt pans of the Delta, is a breathtaking and unforgettable sight. It’s a little-known wonder (and thus attracts fewer crowds) and is best seen from one of the luxury safari camps in the Makgadikgadi and Nxai National Parks or the Kalahari Desert, all teeming with wildlife and lush greenery during the rainy season. Studies have revealed that these Zebra in the Makgadikgadi can survive for up to a week without water.

Undiscovered Migration

The migration itself, ongoing since time immemorial, was undiscovered until recently when a research team noted zebras fitted with GPS collars had travelled from the southern Okavango to the distant Makgadikgadi grasslands and back, crossing over the region’s two national parks.

If it’s off-the-beaten-track and in search of something unique that you want, then timing your Botswana safari to coincide with the migration season (February and March) is a nice (and definitely different) idea! Here are our accommodation picks:

We suggest visiting Le Roo La Tau Safari Camp which lies nestled on the Makgadikgadi Pan National Park’s western border, just above the Boteti River’s life-giving waters. The lodge features a raised hide which is perfect for viewing the migratory herds clustering to drink and graze the sweet grasslands. Other animals also gather here, as do a wide variety of birds, many of which are in their colourful breeding plumage at this time of the year.

Zebra migration in full flight.

Zebra migration in full flight.

A more luxurious and certainly more remote choice would be Jack’s Camp, also situated in the Makgadikgadi Pans. Jack’s is unlike any other safari camp in the whole of Africa! Guests stay in luxury tents set against a dramatic desert landscape of massive silences and savage beauty. Inspired by the original 1940’s safari camp that old man Jack established, it is steeped in pioneer day history but has all luxury amenities.

Here you’ll see the herds grazing on the move whilst keeping a watchful eye for predators that follow the migration. Vultures and other birds of prey wheel and shriek in the air above the herds, waiting in competition with the local brown hyena packs for the chance to finish off a kill. Both camps offer full-day excursion drives across the vast plains, as well as quad-biking trips and walks led by experienced San Bushman guides.

Jack's Camp

Jack’s Camp

Makgadikgadi Pan

The Makgadikgadi Pan isn’t only one of the most magical of Africa’s remote wildlife regions but also one of the most fascinating for its plethora of species. The great migrations are a focus, not just for zebras, but also for impala, kudu and other plains game, including the endangered white rhino. The beauty of staying at one of the above camps isn’t just the amazing sights, it’s the night sounds of Africa, heard whilst enjoying a delicious meal with fine wine under a myriad stars.

For the thrill of a lifetime and an up-close and personal experience why not see the Botswana zebra migration on horseback? Spend up-to six dream days exploring the mysterious, millennia-old lake bed and its seasonal waterholes on horseback, accompanied by experienced guides. David Foot and his team are the best outfitters in the region and operate in collaboration with Unchartered Africa. Guests stay at Camp Kalahari which is located on the path of the migration and surrounded by the region’s desert-adapted wildlife including meerkat clans, aardvarks and porcupines.

For an unforgettable experience in one of Africa’s most remote locations why not follow the zebra migration across the Makgadikgadi salt pans? You may just be completely enthralled.

Zebra migration on horseback.

Zebra migration on horseback.

If you’d like to get more information on Botswana and the fascinating zebra migration, Contact Us and our expert consultants will be glad to answer any questions you might have.

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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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A Weekend at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve http://blog.africansafaris.com/weekend-grootbos-private-nature-reserve/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=weekend-grootbos-private-nature-reserve http://blog.africansafaris.com/weekend-grootbos-private-nature-reserve/#comments Fri, 20 Sep 2013 17:43:01 +0000 http://blog.africansafaris.com/?p=3361 A couple months ago I received an email from Grootbos Private Nature Reserve inviting me to spend a weekend there to check out just how one of South Africa’s preeminent ecolodges goes about its business. I gave it a cursory glance, flagged the email without much thought and carried on with my day. Fast forward a couple months and I decided to take them up on their kind offer after our Safari Guru Jeff enthused to me just how special a place it is. A few friendly emails later and I was fully booked and ready to experience Grootbos for myself…

Grootbos is a privately owned nature reserve of some 2500 hectares located just under two hours outside of Cape Town. Home to an incredible 765 completely indigenous plant species, it is one of South Africa’s most awarded Private Nature Reserves, with honours in categories such as Best Ecological Safari, Best Community Safari and Most Innovative Retreat to name but a few. It also has the distinction of recently being named amongst the world’s Top 10 land-based destinations to watch whales. With such an abundance of natural beauty, it’s fitting that every aspect of Grootbos has been carefully designed to enhance the magnificent surroundings.

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The entrance to Grootbos is indicative of what lies ahead.

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Forest Lodge.

My friend and I arrived on a cold and windy Friday afternoon, eager to get out the city and soak up the tranquil atmosphere of the Cape Floral Kingdom. Our first encounter with Grootbos was at the security gate where the friendly staff asked for our name to confirm whether we were booked in at the Forest or Garden Lodge (we stayed at the former), and then wished us a pleasant stay. We got the impression straight away that smiling faces were to be the norm over the next few days. After finishing our delicious welcome drink and planning our weekend’s activity schedule, we were eager to check out our room.

Walking from the main building of Forest Lodge – which houses reception, a curio shop, the dining hall, bar and reading deck – to the individual villas, one gets a real sense of the isolation of the place. For as far as the eyes can see, there is nothing but fynbos (the indigenous vegetation of the region) and ocean. The air is clean, fresh and accented by the early scents of Spring blossoming. The sense of peace and tranquility is tangible, and one begins to relax and unwind even before reaching your front door.

The villas at Forest Lodge are unmistakably modern, yet surprisingly unobtrusive – instead letting the natural beauty of their surrounds be the focus of attention. Interior finishes are of a very high quality, and the rooms are tastefully furnished and welcoming. The real highlight though is not the luxurious bed, the well stocked fireplace or the massive bathtub – what sets the rooms at Grootbos apart are the views. They are incredible! We spent a good part of the evening just watching the amazing sunset from our deck, as the brilliant purple and pink hues bounced off the ocean and blanketed the seemingly endless horizon of fynbos. It was pretty special indeed.

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The view from the master bedroom.

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The sunset from Friday evening was spectacular.

After marvelling at the sunset for a good while, we set about starting a fire in the lounge’s fireplace and readied ourselves for dinner. The dining area at Forest Lodge is at the end of the building, which means you walk past a good few friendly staff members on the way – all of whom go out of their way to greet you and wish you a pleasant stay or an enjoyable meal. We exchanged greetings with all of them and made our way to a window-facing table, eager to satisfy our rumbling stomachs. While we had heard that the food at Grootbos was good, we were not prepared for just how good…

Though I’ve been fortunate to eat at some respected five star restaurants around the world, I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a meal as much as I enjoyed that first dinner. Freshly baked rolls and farm fresh butter were followed by an amuse bouche of crispy roasted duck, a delicious potato and leek soup, a refreshing lime, lemon and mint sorbet palate cleanser, beef fillet cooked to perfection, and a decadent dessert of a chocolate brownie with apricot ice cream – both homemade of course. All the food served at Grootbos is organic and either grown on site or ethically sourced from local organic/free range suppliers. And all of it is incredible! With stomachs supremely satisfied, we lazily walked back to our villa and settled in for a good nights sleep.

We awoke on Saturday morning to the sound of the wind gusting outside at a rate of knots, while completely sheltered in the warm, soft embrace of our luxurious beds. After some coffee and a hot shower, we braved the inclement weather and made our way to the dining area with much excitement. Breakfast at Grootbos is just as special an occasion as dinner! A ‘cold buffet’ of cereals and grains, freshly baked muffins, croissants and breads, cold meats, cheeses and fresh organic fruit lay tantalisingly laid out upon our arrival. The hot breakfast is a la carte and features the traditional English, Grootbos Eggs Benedict and various other options. We both opted for the Eggs Benedict and it was honestly one of the best I’ve ever had.

Unfortunately the rain meant that certain outdoor activities were cancelled, so we headed back to our room to enjoy the fireplace and a good book. With the rain continuing to fall outside, we could not have been happier than we were next to the fireplace, sipping on tea. Even in winter, Grootbos is the ideal destination to go to relax. Although we were doing something we could’ve done at home, the atmosphere and ambience at Grootbos is so conducive to relaxation that an hour spent reading there is the rejuvenating equivalent of three spent elsewhere. Before we knew it it was time for another Grootbos meal – probably the only thing that could’ve pried us from our warm couch. I’ll let the menu in the picture below do all the talking for me this time.

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Grootbos Eggs Benedict.

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Saturday’s lunch menu.

While staying indoors reading all weekend is a perfectly good option, Grootbos prides itself on its extensive list of available activities – most of which are included. The inclement weather put a (literal) damper on a few of them, but we were fortunate enough to partake in two of them – horseback riding and a Social Responsibility Tour. First up was a relaxed horseback ride through the fynbos, around the two lodges, and back again. The horses at Grootbos are all extremely well looked after and very used to people, so they’re perfectly suited to an absolute novice like myself. The ride was incredibly enjoyable and offered a unique perspective on the natural beauty that surrounds the lodge.  

Our next activity was the Social Responsibility Tour, which really represents the essence of Grootbos. With a horticultural college/nursery and organic farm on the reserve’s premises, Grootbos is passionate about giving back to the community. Both the nursery and the farm take in 10 local community members each year and educate them on topics including organic farming, soil science, horticulture and sustainability. They also receive driving lessons and share in the profits of the produce that they sell back to Grootbos itself. At the end of the year they leave with a certificate in horticulture, a driver’s license, and vastly improved reading and writing skills. Newly qualified and skilled, they are either quickly employed by local farmers or they start working their way up the ranks at Grootbos. It is sustainable ecotourism at its finest, and was truly refreshing to see.

All said, we could not find a single fault with our entire Grootbos experience. The staff were extremely friendly, the accommodation superb, the food exceptional, the surrounds pristine and the goodwill palpable. I cannot wait to go back!

Grootbos Online: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

For more pictures of our time at Grootbos, check out our Google + gallery here.

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Riding through the fynbos.

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The indigenous nursery and classroom.

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Main building, Forest Lodge.

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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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Safari Icons: Norman Carr http://blog.africansafaris.com/safari-icons-norman-carr/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=safari-icons-norman-carr http://blog.africansafaris.com/safari-icons-norman-carr/#comments Fri, 20 Apr 2012 10:59:53 +0000 http://blog.africansafaris.com/?p=2635 Every year, millions of people visit the continent of Africa to take in the awe-inspiring natural beauty of its fauna and flora. Whether it’s the plains of the Masai Mara in Kenya, the roaring cascade of the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe/Zambia or the vast deserts of Namibia, Africa has long since had a hold on man’s imagination. The routes we traverse across this great continent, metaphorical and otherwise, were mapped out by the intrepid men and women of yesteryear – explorers with a notebook and a thirst for adventure. In this series, we’ll profile a safari icon of the past one by one and pay homage to the work they did.

We’ll begin by taking a look at the Zambian conservationist, Norman Carr.

Norman Carr

Norman Carr was born in the busy port town of Chinde, in what is now modern day Malawi, in 1912. He received his education in England and returned to Africa in 1930 where he worked as an ‘Elephant Control Officer’ in the Luangwa Valley. This majestically titled job entailed mitigating the damage done by the resident elephant herds on the crop of farmers in the area.  After serving for four years in the Kings African Rifles, where he attained the rank of Captain, Norman became one of Africa’s first Game Rangers in the Luangwa Valley’s newly formed ‘Game Department’.  It was in this role that Norman started implementing conservation measures which would be adopted throughout Africa.

Norman had to be alert in the bush

Norman Carr persuaded the then Chief Nsefu to set aside some of his land for game conservation use, and this became Nsefu Camp – the first camp of its kind open to the public in what is now Zambia. Some years later a spinal injury, caused by a run in with a buffalo, necessitated a withdrawal from the scene for a year or so. After making a recovery, Norman returned to work as a Warden for the Kafue National Park. It was here that he famously adopted two orphaned male lions – characters which left an indelible impression on all who met them.  Norman lovingly raised the pair to adulthood and later successfully reintroduced them in to the wild when they were about three years old (inspiring the novel and movie “Return to the Wild”). After cofounding the first hunting operation in the Luangwa Valley with Peter Hankin, it was in 1968 that Norman Carr’s next revolutionary idea came about…

Norman Carr with the orphaned cubs

 

Midday Stroll

Growing up in the wild, Norman was always very at home in the African bush. His deep understanding of the dynamic between man and animal meant that he read situations between the two very well. For Norman, a walk in the bush amongst the Big Five was part of his everyday life. So much so in fact that he decided to extend the opportunity of a Walking Safari to visitors of Chibembe Safari Camp. The safari walks were a smash hit! Never before had people experienced wildlife in such a manner, where man and nature interacted so harmoniously in such close proximity.

One of the first Walking Safaris

In his later years, Norman Carr continued in his unwavering quest to conserve and protect all wildlife.  In 1979 he devoted two years of his life to the ‘Save the Rhino’ campaign aimed at eradicating the rampant poaching of the Valley’s rhinoceros population. Through the Kapani School Fund, Norman provided scholarships for many children in the area all the while engraining in them the importance of wildlife conservation. These were to be amongst his final acts as the great conservationist, Mr Norman Carr, passed peacefully in 1993.

Norman Carr’s pioneering spirit led to him becoming one of the most important figures in Zambia’s recent history, in the fields of tourism and conservation. His philanthropically inclined nature meant he was well liked and respected amongst his peers, and people in general.

Next time you’re out on that amazing Walking Safari, tip your hat to Mr Carr…

*If you’d like to see more images of Norman and the lions, check out our Pinterest board here.

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From Cape to Kruger: Valentine’s Day Special http://blog.africansafaris.com/valentines-day-specials/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=valentines-day-specials http://blog.africansafaris.com/valentines-day-specials/#comments Thu, 16 Feb 2012 12:31:30 +0000 http://blog.africansafaris.com/?p=2415 It’s Valentine’s Week and love is most definitely in the air. From New York to Cape Town, the ASC offices have been celebrating the special ones in our lives.

In keeping with the loving spirit, we’ve put together an amazing Cape Town & Safari Combo special for honeymooners or couples looking for a romantic African retreat.

Table Mountain

The Breathtaking Table Mountain

 

Your partner will love waking up in the crisp air of the African bush as the sounds of nature signal the start of a new day while on safari near the Kruger National Park. Then treat yourselves to a few days in trendy, sexy, cosmopolitan Cape Town.

 

Cape Town by night

Cape Town by night

 

Cape Town was named as TripAdvisor’s destination of the world in 2011 and boasts a myriad of options for you and yours. Whether it’s a ride up the cable car to the peak of Table Mountain for a coffee overlooking the City and Robben Island; a day on one of the many golden beaches soaking up the sun; or a tour of the surrounding cape winelands. Long Street is a vibrant mix of cultures and home to some of the City’s best independent shops and markets while adjacent Kloof Street is a foodie’s haven. Relaxed seaside villages like Muizenberg and Kalk Bay pepper the coast en route to the Cape of Good Hope and are filled with eclectic boutique shops and art galleries.

 

Boulders Beach

Boulders Beach

 

Here’s the deal!  Spend 4 nights at the luxurious Cape Cadogan  AND spend 3 nights on a Big Five safari at Lion Sands Ivory Lodge in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve with a free experience at the über romantic Chalkley Tree House.  Total for 2 people for a 7 night stay = $10 400

The Owners Villa at Cape Cadogan  (4 nights)

Right in the heart of Cape Town within walking distance to many popular attractions and great restaurants, this is the perfect Cape Town retreat. The Villa is decorated in classic olde world Cape Town style with abundance of natural light.  We’re including (for free) your choice of day excursion: EITHER  a harbour cruise around the famous V&A Waterfront – one of the top tourist destinations in the world OR a picnic in the winelands (with a packed basket and free wine tasting) near the famous wine town of Stellenbosch.

V&A Waterfront

V&A Waterfront

 

Lion Sands Ivory Lodge  (3 nights)

Located in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve adjacent to the Kruger National Park, Lion Sands is well known for it’s superlative Big Five game viewing, especially lions and leopards. Enjoy thrilling safari drives in open 4×4 vehicles with a dedicated ranger and tracker. Back at the lodge you’ll be able to relax, have spa treatment, dine on fine cuisine and have close encounters with nature in the most luxurious of wilderness locations.

Lion Sands

Lion Sands

 

Whether cooling off in your private infinity pool, enjoying a starlit bath, dozing on your four-poster bed or kicking back in the comfortable chill area, the African wilds are never out of sight. Mixing the old with the new, the traditional building methods of the lodge have been coupled with stylised innovations, like floor to ceiling glass walls in each of the six luxury suites with extraordinary views of the canopy of stars at night.

 

Lion Sands Suite

Take in the amazing river views at sunset

An evening at Chalkey Treehouse (which we’re including for free) will be the highlight of your trip as you toast yourselves and the setting sun from this unique and luxurious treehouse set up in the bush.

Valid for travel between 1 May -31 Aug 2012. Excludes flights.

lion

The Kruger National Park is lion country

Contact African Safari Consultants for more

 

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The African Trip of a Lifetime http://blog.africansafaris.com/the-african-trip-of-a-lifetime/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-african-trip-of-a-lifetime http://blog.africansafaris.com/the-african-trip-of-a-lifetime/#comments Fri, 13 Jan 2012 14:49:47 +0000 http://blog.africansafaris.com/?p=2307
A once in a lifetime opportunity, to travel an age-old route across Africa from Cairo to Cape Town, but this time by private plane…Imagine – a flying safari from Egypt to Cape Town, taking in the sights of both and everything in between. Cross the desert of Khartoum on camel back then sit back and marvel at the Whirling Dervishes all in one day. Sample Ethiopian delicacies in the crags of Lalibela. Observe the zebras and wildebeest below as your soar over Mount Kenya, home of the Masai Mara. Walk amongst the silver back gorillas in the forests of Rwanda. Lazily sail over the still, turquoise waters of Lake Malawi and take in the majesty of Victoria Falls – ‘The Smoke that Thunders’. Experience the tranquillity of Namibia’s Etosha desert and the European style elegance of Cape Town.

Pyramids of Giza

The journey begins in Cairo, and after visiting 17 of Africa’s most fascinating and memorable spots, it ends in Cape Town.

Even the aircraft is an experience in itself – a beautiful new, luxuriously-fitted, private Cessna Caravan, being flown by renowned pilot Christian Strebel, the Director of Kenya’s private charter company Yellow Wings. Soar across Africa’s most stunning landscapes, viewing wildlife, enchanting villages and vast expanses of savannah, lakes, rivers, forest, mountain and desert.

 

Lake Malawi

Dates: 

21st May – 18th June 2012

Costs:

US$ 57,000 per person

 

 

Cape Town

Want to know more? 

Please contact Charlotte to receive a copy of the African Skies PDF brochure, which contains a detailed itinerary, terms & conditions.

 

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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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Save 20% on a Gorilla Safari at Sanctuary Gorilla Camp http://blog.africansafaris.com/save-20-on-a-gorilla-safari-at-sanctuary-gorilla-camp/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=save-20-on-a-gorilla-safari-at-sanctuary-gorilla-camp http://blog.africansafaris.com/save-20-on-a-gorilla-safari-at-sanctuary-gorilla-camp/#comments Tue, 06 Dec 2011 17:21:36 +0000 http://blog.africansafaris.com/?p=2121 In celebration of Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp featuring on tv show “Born to Explore”, shown on ABC in the United States, they are offering 20% off accommodation at the atmospheric camp in Bwindi, Uganda, for a short time only. From an enviable location overlooking the mesmerizing Bwindi forest, where gorillas and chimpanzees roam free, Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge is in one Africa’s most biologically diverse areas.

Guests track the mighty mountain gorillas in Uganda’s famed Impenetrable Forest or, if you’re lucky, they track you. The gentle giants are known to frequent the camp on a regular basis, so guests are able to watch them meander through the grounds from the comfort of their room’s deck.  Paradise!

 

Mountain Gorilla in the Forests of Uganda

Mountain Gorilla in the Forests of Uganda

 

The lodge takes conservation seriously  so Bwindi Lodge is run on sound ecological principles, with solar-powered lighting and hot bucket showers to minimise the environmental impact. All local materials were sourced for the camp’s construction, which gives the lodge an authentic rustic feel. The friendly staff too are recruited from local communities and are passionate about their amazing heritage – evident as soon as you talk with them.

Meals are fresh and wholesome, combining local and Western cuisines to cater for even the most discerning palate. The dining room overlooks the valley and the terrace, which juts out into the forest, is the perfect place to soak up the sight and sounds of the surrounds.

You’re guaranteed to leave the lodge feeling refreshed and reinvigorated so be sure to contact a friendly African Safari’s agent here before this great offer is up.

The offer is valid for

  • new bookings made between 16 November – 16 December 2011
  • travel between 1 December 2011 – 15 June 2012

The Born to Explore clip can be viewed below.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xisxwCK_ozM&version=3&hl=en_GB]

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