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. Your [...]
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 [...]
Tropical Paradise off the coast of Madagascar Today it finally feels like summer is on the way in Cape Town. After a week of rainy and cold weather – the sun is out brightly and we feel like we are on the path to flops, shorts, beaches and tans! So I am inspired again by the warm [...]
Why the Kruger Park is such a Safari favorite One of my colleagues has recently done a trip up to the Kruger Park, and it is always awesome to see the pictures they come back with. As much as I love the animals, I also love those sunsets! Here is my favorite one from her [...]
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 [...]
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. [...]
With the continuing summer weather in the Western Cape I am inspired to keep going with awesome Ocean adventures! Again, I am taking to the shores of Mozambique and I am adding to it the shores of Zanzibar. Set deep in the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean both these destinations have a fantastic array [...]
With winter well underway in Southern Africa I needed to be reminded of what the sun feels like……I love this soft evening light looking onto Nosy Iranja in Madagascar. I can feel the sand in my toes and the sun rays on my back. Lovely way to start what is meant to be a sunny winter weekend in [...]
We have received some great feedback from a few clients that have recently traveled with us. It’s often something that is quite hard to get as clients are so busy catching up with life once they return from their vacations that they don’t have a chance to send through their thoughts. So, when we do [...]
We are privileged to have this image from Stephen Raffay along with the beautiful Zebra images that we posted earlier this week on our Facebook page. Stephen is an avid wildlife photographer and has captured some awesome wildlife moments. This particular pack of Wild Dogs were tracked from just outside Tau Camp in the Malaria Free Madikwe Reserve [...]
One of my colleagues Neil recently attended a friend’s wedding in Rwanda (how is that for something different!). So while he was there, trekking with the endangered mountain Gorillas was a highlight that he could’t miss. I sat down with him once he was back and asked him a few questions that I thought would [...]
From my colleague Neil on his recent trip to Rwanda this awesome picture of a Mom and baby! Gorillas are so human like in their nature and you can just see the love and security that a mother offers her offspring!
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Dear Liesl, Thanks for your note. We did have a wonderful trip and thought you would be interested in the following comments. 1. The Westcliff Hotel was just adequate. But we did get a good nights sleep. 2. We found all of the lodges to be wonderful. The accommodations, the food, and most importantly the staff at each place were extraordinary. 3. One criticism. If we were to plan the trip again we would eliminate Jao and substitute Mambo. We would have liked to have seen far more big predators, which were scarce in the Delta. We were told over and over again that Mambo offered much better viewing of predators. We would love to return one day to Abu. We found it a very special place. We did have a memorable trip and we thank you for your arrangements. Lynne and Harold Handler
Hi Liesl, Sorry this took so long, I arrived home with a bad sore throat and have been recovering. So here are some notes about our trip. First of all, you did an amazing job of arranging everything. We were met by someone every step of the way. 1. D’Oreal Hotel was great for our first night, had a very nice dinner. 2. Victoria Falls: The helicopter ride was great (but not the $30 they wanted for a video of us, which nobody bought), and the falls of course were beautiful. Thanks for the Victoria Falls Hotel, we really liked it. The dining room where they serve breakfast is beautiful, as is the dining room on the terrace, our room, and all of the public rooms. 3. Chobe Under Canvas: great service, excellent food (amazing what they can cook out in the bush) and the tents are very comfortable. Took a while to adjust to doing everything by the light of a dim lantern, but the warm shower and the down covered bed were much appreciated. We were teamed up with a couple from Canada for our game drives and meals, and it turned out that we had the first 3 of our safari lodges in common with them, so we became friends. It was nice to just have the 4 of us for game drives, since Ershun was concerned about getting his photos. Saw lots of animals! Easy to charge batteries in the vehicle, and we loved how they had blankets in the vehicles for the chilly morning drives. Weather was great – pretty chilly in the morning, but warming up nicely. The game viewing was excellent – saw a big variety, including a leopard that our guide tracked from our camp. The guide was very good. 4. Savute under Canvas: Hotter and drier than Chobe, and overall the game viewing was not as good. Of course we have been spoiled by the great herds of the Serengeti, in Savute we would see one wildebeest, one Tsessebe. Also, the guide we had here was not as good as Chobe. He was full of interesting facts, but not the greatest at finding animals. We did luck into seeing 3 leopards because other vehicles were there already. The tents were the same as Chobe, food not always as good. I think that since the water in the area was almost all dried up, our experience was not as good. 5. Linyanti Ebony Camp: We were surprised to find that Linyanti Bush Camp and Linyanti Ebony are 2 halves of the same place. They expanded the original lodge, and gave the 2nd part another name, we suspect so that each can be marketed separately as small and intimate, which is the “hot” thing now. Anyway, due to a fire in one of the kitchens, all the guests share one common dining room/sitting room/bar. The tents are large and permanent, which allows for more elegant furnishings. Huge beds, nice bathroom facilities, a deck outside the back of the tent overlooking the lagoon. The deck was a great place to sit in the afternoon and watch the baboons playing nearby. Food was rather uneven, very good sometimes, and sometimes not. Game drives were very mixed, depending mostly on the guide. Two of the 4 guides were awful, and we found very few animals. One guide was excellent, and not only found lots of animals but also was full of enthusiasm and good information. The 4th was pretty good. This was not an & Beyond facility, and except for the really nice tent, it did not measure up. Only place that did not have blankets in the safari vehicles (we get spoiled so easily!) 6. Nxebega Okavango Tented Camp- wow, this place was amazing! The service, the food, the tent, everything was really first class. The game drives were good, the only place where we had a spotter as well as the guide. They were willing to do anything to please their guests. The only thing I wasn’t especially fond of is their habit of extending the late afternoon game drive until after dark so that we drive back to the lodge with a spotlight looking for animals (which doesn’t happen much) and then we arrive back in time to go straight to dinner. Otherwise, this was a wonderful place. Oh, by the way, they did not know about us needing to get to Maun in time for our flight to Johannesburg, so we had to ask them to change our flight to Maun to an earlier time. Just a glitch somewhere I guess. But when we arrived at the Maun airport we were pleasantly surprised by a rep from & Beyond who met us and escorted us through checkin and security. Very impressed! Before going on to Cape Town, Ershun and I want to comment on the Botswana safari experience. While we certainly had some excellent experiences in Botswana, we would most likely not go back. It’s very difficult to figure out the best time to go, because if you want to see animals, the best time is July-Aug because then the bushes have lost their leaves and it is easier to spot animals, but then the weather is cold, it is very dry, dusty and windy. Sept-Oct is good for seeing animals, but it is very hot, dry, dusty, and the animals are sometimes suffering from lack of food and water. (We were given this information by several different guides at several different camps). We seemed to have picked the best time weatherwise, but it was very easy for animals to hide in the thick bushes. At least Nxebega had some open grass lands, which helped with finding animals. For anyone going to Africa for the first time, Botswana would be fine, but we are used to the huge herds of the Serengeti or the Mara, and the variety in Ngorongoro Crater. Yes, you get more people, but there is a reason for that. Of course, there are small, private places to stay, but you still get more vehicles running around. 7. Cape Town - love your city! Everyone is so friendly, the food is excellent, and we felt safe. The Welgelegen was a great choice, lovely hotel. We had the best room, 2nd floor, across the whole front, with a lovely enclosed porch across the front. The owner and employees are so nice, and the location is good. We used the hop on – hop off buses, and were lucky our first day to get to Table Mt while it was sunny and clear, only day it was like that during our stay. We enjoyed the bus trip around Camps Bay, Clifton, etc. as well as Kirstenbosch Garden and Groot Constantia. One day we rented a car and drove to Cheetah Outreach at Somerset West (excellent) and to Boulders Beach for the penguins. We drove part of the way down towards Cape Point but I wasn’t feeling well so we headed back. We really enjoyed Miller’s Thumb, but Bizerka Bistro was amazing! We never made it to Baia the last night because of how I felt, so we had takeout from a local Italian restaurant. The car service from the airport when we arrived, and again back to the airport to go home, was excellent. Even the Cape Town airport was good – they did a great job fixing it up for the World Cup! Wish I could say the same for Johannesburg – that airport is awful. Bad layout, lots of walking, annoying hustlers, and the charging plugs all were broken at the gate. They even made us all get up and line up for a 2nd security inspection, including pat-downs for some passengers. Well, that’s about it. I’m finally feeling better, and we have lots of good memories. Thanks again for all you did. Regards, Carole & Ershun
Hi, Johannesburg: the spa day at M'Mangwanani; totally relaxing and excellent way to prepare for trip after long journey to South Africa. Zambia: Zambezi River Islands of Siankaba; loved the accommodation( Bob was uncomfortable with the swinging bridge, I liked it); the cuisine was probably the best we had anywhere throughout our trip. Dinner was served for us under the stars with delightful artistic touches from our waiter. The rhinoceros walking safari allowed us to see all eight of the rhinos. Bob enjoyed chatting with our guide. This walking safari was one of his highlights. The swim in "devil's pool" was a great experience. I have already documented the unfortunate behavior of our guide who was compelled by one of our group to "dump" the rest of us. This tourist works in Lesotho, is from Europe, has done this swim before but wanted a private tour and refused to leave the pool when the next group of tourists w guide arrived. Ultimately we asked a different guide if we could leave. Our guide was giving a private tour of the falls to the demanding tourist. Botswana: everyone said we would love it and we did. The camp was wonderful; the food very good with good variety and well prepared. The staff was so pleasant. Our guide was amazing finding many opportunities to enjoy animals. Bob enjoyed it but ultimately felt we had been on safari in Tanzania and did not need to repeat the game drives. The walking in Zambia he enjoyed. Victoria Falls leaves me wanting to return at a different season to view it again. Zimbabwe: the Hide was an unusual camp. My biggest concern was the night we lost power. I wondered how they would manage our wake-up coffee. Answer: they put another log on the fire. We saw honey badgers and bush babies. The people of Zimbabwe are very interesting to meet. Cape Town: we disappointed David, "that is your luggage"? Despite his initial disappointment we did enjoy our tours and chats with him. Either we did not have enough time in Cape Town or the weather was less than cooperative, I do not have a strong impression. Table Mountain was very foggy, the Cape much the same, Kirstenbosch closed greenhouse early. Probably needed more time and better weather. High tea was wonderful at Nelson Hotel and our accommodations at Four Rosmead excellent. Grootbos: very relaxing place, beautiful accommodations, too bad it rained so much though that fact did allow us to see the whales cavorting which they did not do when it was sunny. Going to southern most point was important, our guide excellent, and we found orchids, Satyrium carneum, orchid along road to Agulhus, blooming along the side of the road. Riding, a horse, into the hills was special for me. The hikes were interesting. Again, weather and time precluded our enjoying more of these activities. Wine country and penguins: excellent. We do enjoy our penguins. We did enjoy the wine especially at our first stop. Lise, thank you for all the champagne which helped this anniversary trip celebration. The people we met throughout our trip were a pleasure. Many of the guides have led interesting lives. It was our privilege to meet them. The staff of each accommodation were pleasant, helpful, made our trip special. Wake-up coffee is my favorite. Bob enjoyed meeting people and the walking at Grootbos and in Zambia. He definitely looked very relaxed and happy at the day spa in Johannesburg. What was best for me? Probably the very nice people we met throughout the trip. Showering under the Milky Way in Zimbabwe; dinner under the stars at Islands of Siankaba; meals enjoyed outdoors; swimming at Victoria Falls; Grootbos; coffee in the morning! Thank you, Lise, for all the special arrangements. Thank you, Jeff.
Good morning, Yes, we are back and had a wonderful vacation! I'll give you our honest feedback. We just loved Kirkman's Kamp. In truth we actually saw more animals just driving in our rental car through Kruger National Park ourselves, but the experience of the drive was awesome. For example, we saw a leopard eating it's impala kill and had the ability to sit under it in our land rover for about 45 minutes while a hyena was nearby. This is something we wouldn't have seen on our own car drive. The staff there gave us first class treatment - with greeting us as we arrived and giving us fresh moist towels to clean up with. For the game drive, we loved the touch of having hot water bottles and blankets to keep us warm! They wound up giving us two game drives (we thought there was just one evening one and a walk). The food there was excellent and the room/accommodations superb. Everyone needs an escort to their room as animals can be everywhere. In fact, they said the night before a lion chased an impala through their camp! Too bad we couldn't have afforded another night because we might have been able to spot the only animal of the big five we never got to see, the lion. Riley's Rock was unique. My sister was disappointed with it initially feeling it was too 'rustic', but the rest of us really loved the look and 'feel' of it. She wound up coming around to really loving it - who wouldn't with all the dinners under the stars around a fire? We were blessed with having our first dinner with Ted Riley himself. Apparently he had guests that were in for some important conservation business and it allowed for some very serious and interesting dinner conversation with all of us...a great and memorable experience. Interestingly, they asked about how we booked their hotel and we told them about you (and they were quite grateful). How had you heard about them? We also loved the Swaziland excursions we took through Swazi-Travel. Kosi-Forest Lodge though beautiful, was probably our least favorite. The place was truly lovely yet simplistic. We loved the look of the tiki torches around so we can find our room at night. It would be a much better place to stay in the spring or summer as it was too cold to go snorkeling. It was also more geared for honeymoon couples. The food was tasty and it's presentation very nice. Thula Thula was nice, though disappointing for game viewing. If I had it to do over again, I would have stayed one day there (just because my wife read the book), and two days at a big game reserve hotel. They don't have the big 5 there - and really the main thing to see is their signature elephants, which are breathtaking. The tracker and driver were magnificent, but they excelled more on the bush walks. We only got to see elephants and rhino there...they have no lions and in 3 game drives we never saw buffalo or leopard either. In fact they hadn't seen a leopard since last December. The tented accommodations were nicer, in our opinion, then Kosi-Forest Lodge. They were bigger. Both had family tents, which might have been preferred for us - if less expensive. The meals were good and we especially liked that there was a game meat option each day. We wound up downloading the South Africa map for our GPS and we are glad we did. While it wasn't perfect, it did fill in missing spots when using the directions provided. The GPS did wind up giving us totally wrong directions to Thula Thula though. Looking back, it would have been better doing the trip in reverse...as it is hard to top seeing so many animals (Kruger and Kirkman's Kamp). Again, thank you so much for organizing the trip for us - it was really a once in a lifetime experience and our whole family has memories that won't be forgotten! P.S. - your telephone call to us at Kosi Bay was a wonderful touch and much appreciated. The Toro family
It was an absolutely great trip and we loved every minute of it. It was so worth it to upgrade and the accommodations were excellent and all our guides were superb! I am very glad you used you and will absolutely recommend you to everyone I know who will want to see the gorillas!