This week, our picture comes courtesy of photographer Tom Schwabel. I still remember the first time I ever saw a baobab tree; I was absolutely stunned. I thought it was the weirdest looking plant ever, sticking out of the African savannah as if the roots were trying to catch rain as soon as it fell [...]
According to a survey by Trip Advisor, Americans are resolving to travel more this year than last. The survey stated that travelers were planning to visit long haul destinations, and were prepared to spend more on a vacation trip compared to 2010. This is good news for the tourism industry, but potential travelers will need to secure reservations at [...]
Tanda Tula Safari Camp is the first in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve to offer overnight walking safaris, an incredibly unique experience. Itineraries are individually tailored to suit guests’ requirements. A 4 night package is generally recommended, with 2 nights at the base Tanda Tula Safari Camp and 2 nights in the bush at the remote Machaton Hide. All the [...]
Susan Portnoy, Senior Executive Director of Corporate Communication at Conde Nast, recently started uploading her photos from a recent trip to Tanzania, and I was impressed to say the least. The set that she has uploaded are pretty incredible, and her ability to seemingly put the viewer right into the action is uncanny. My favorite [...]
Edward fell in love with Africa from a very young age. In fact, from birth. Born and raised in Cape Town, he moved to Virginia during elementary school. With a Swedish father, American mother, and family spread across the globe, travel was an integral part of Edward’s life from a young age, and he grew [...]
Our newest video of the week, and first of 2011, is an old one but a classic nonetheless; and if you haven’t seen it, you must have been living under a rock for the past year. This is one of the most watched and well-known safari videos making its rounds on the internet. It features [...]
Botswana once again secured it’s place as Africa’s hidden gem, landing nine properties on Condé Nast Traveler’s coveted Gold List. While Botswana might not be the first country that most think of when the start the safari-planning process, the Gold List’s choice solidified Botswana as one of Africa’s premier safari destinations. The Gold List includes [...]
Is there anything better than a baby animal being rescued? Yes, when that same baby animal is rescued by other animals! Our video of choice this week features another incredible rescue operation caught on tape by a lucky safari-goer. A baby elephant gets stuck while stopping for a drink at a watering hole. Cue mama [...]
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! To get you in the holiday mood, here’s a reposting of a great little piece from our friends at The Bushcamp Company. I’d love to take credit for this, but I just can’t; they’ve got some geniuses working over there! Enjoy! The Twelve Safari Days of Christmas Twelve crowned cranes [...]
I am in love with panoramic views. This shot, captured and composed from on top of Table Mountain, provides a perfect view of downtown Cape Town in the week leading up to the 2010 World Cup. With the mountains in the right sloping down towards the harbor and waterfront on the left, you get a [...]
Jeff is a twenty-year veteran of the travel industry. He began his travel career at the age of 8, memorizing seating configurations on the newly launched 747′s and creating a fantasy airline (NorthWard Air), complete with schedules, route maps and fleet plans. He went on to book all of his family’s holidays, college friends’ years abroad, [...]
This week, we’re going in a slightly different direction with our choice of photo of the week. This shot, caught as the sun sets on the tip of the African continent in Cape Town, really captures an energy that to me typifies Africa and all it has to offer. The tree in the foreground, while [...]
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Hello Sarah, I am back from Tanzania, and wanted to thank you for your help in preparing an amazing trip! I took over 3000 pictures, which I am now beginning to sort through, and saw as many other amazing things. I wanted to provide you some comments on the lodges, camps, and tour operator. Kitela Lodge was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, let alone stayed. Besides the spectacular scenery and gorgeous grounds, the amenities provided, including internet, pool, hot water, and satellite TV (for all of us interested in the Africa Cup final) made Kitela feel like a hotel any where else in the world. The staff were also wonderfully friendly and the food was delicious. The coffee, grown right on their grounds, was likely the best I have ever tasted. I would have sacrificed my entire trip to Zanzibar to have stayed at Kitela Lodge for a few more nights. I noticed that they were a bit under-booked, and would encourage you to send as many clients as possible. Ang'ata Camps provided the perfect mix of the bush experience with hotel-like amenities: hot water for showers, clean and comfortable beds, and great food. My guide, who was not a man to be surprised, was even impressed. The staff were also great...I could not walk anywhere without receiving a friendly greeting, offer for food or drink, and question as to how I enjoyed my game drive or sleep. Matambwe Beach Village forces people to relax by providing none of the amenities that could distract from the beach. I especially liked that the use of footwear and the single guest computer were generally discouraged in the gentlest of ways. Finally to Wild Frontiers and Onesmo Sanka, my guide, to whom I owe the biggest of thanks for my trip. The vehicle was sound, the trip well-planned, and they offer what I believe is most important in a game drive: unlimited kilometers per day. I would highly encourage you to request Onesmo for your future clients. First, he drove slow and careful, which I believe is unique! He grew up in the bush and would see things that other guides did not, for instance a pride of 6 lions laying in the grass just 200 meters from the road that four vehicles in front of us had just sped past. Onesmo not only knew the ecology of the animals, but their habits, which provided many instances where my vehicle was placed specifically in front of where something amazing was about to happen. For instance, we did not park in front of the tree in which a leopard and her two cubs had been seen before a rainfall, but in front of a nearby snag, for Onesmo knew that leopards do not like rain, had gone to hide in the grass, and would likely come up on the snag when the rain had stopped. I had front-row seats to two leopard cubs playing on the snag while their mother cleaned herself in the background. I noticed that many of the guides of oncoming vehicles, upon seeing Onesmo at the wheen of our vehicle, would flag him down for advice. Onesmo was also extremely attentive to my habits: by the second day, he would automatically stop the vehicle when I went for my camera, and then start again when he heard the lens cap snap back on. He also started to avoid the crowds, choosing instead to quiet back roads where we may see a bit less but were alone when we saw it. I could go on for hours, but instead will just again recommend Onesmo for your future clients, with one warning: he is a quiet person and may come off as uninterested at first. However, once the ice is broken, I found him to be truly passionate about the animals, their survival and life history, and how everything in the bush fits together. Again, by the second day, I knew not to worry about a single thing: I simply put my trust as to the perfect parking place, vantage point for photos, route, and time into Onesmo's hands, and he delivered perfectly each time. So there is my gushing post-safari email which I'm sure you receive from every client! I want to thank you again for everything, and please let me know if there is anything else I can provide in terms of feedback for you or any of the above. Ben
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
Hi Liesl! Livingstone and the Riverclub were wonderful. Victoria Falls is one of the most breath-taking sites we've ever seen! No one minded getting a little wet and we got some fabulous photos. The market there was fun for the girls. The staff at the Riverclub were top notch! We really enjoyed getting to know everyone. The highlight there has to be the hippos - the sundowner boat trip was so fun, we did it both evenings. In Mombo, we got to see the leopard Legadima and her cub AND one of the white rhinos with her 3 week old baby! We were told that there hadn't been a rhino siting in a few months so we were thrilled. We're still going through our thousands of photos (we had 5 cameras between the 4 of us), re-living the fun! I know that Kevin and I will be looking to do a few more safari holidays while we're still in Africa. So, we may be in touch for help with that.. Here's wishing you all the best for the New Year! Thanks for all your help! Warmest Regards, Dana
Good morning! It sure was a terrific trip for all of us...thanks to both of you for putting up with my endless emails---I guess I worried unnecessarily! The stay at the Stanley was a perfect introduction to the city, and the hotel is wonderful, well preserved, very helpful and friendly staff, great location. We did the Kazuri bead factory one day, and volunteered the next. We had a really nice dinner in an alley down the road from the hotel...called BoBos which is a Turkish outdoor restaurant. Certainly nothing formal, outdoor seating with few amenities, but very good inexpensive food. Worth a look. Then had Gamewatchers pick us up to begin the safari...our driver Stephen was an excellent guide, full of info, very interactive. Took great care of us. The other driver, Tony, was also very good though I was not in his RangeRover too often. Sweetwaters was a great choice. Nothing negative to say there. Lodging very nice, food good, game sightings excellent, fun nighttime entertainment. We all enjoyed. Lake Nakuru was the following day. Unfortunately, I would say that of all the experiences, this was the least favorite. The lodge was quite good, food good, good location within the park. The lake water was apparently very high for this season due to prior months' rains, so the bird life was marginal. Game viewing ok, but of course nothing like the Mara. Mara Entim was one of the favorites of all the camps. Beautiful location, top quality staff, camping on the river's edge couldn't be beat, though the sounds of the hippos grunting all night long was very disruptive to our sleep! The game drives with the park staff were incredible with awesome sightings, just overall magnificent! We got to the NBO in plenty of time for flight out to EBB. I was very impressed with Gamewatchers and our guides. The only negative was Nakuru and the long drive. I think we would have been better off hitting a different park between Mt. Kenya and Mara making the drive less intense. In Entebbe, as you know, we changed lodging to the Karibu House instead of the Lake Vic Hotel. I would strongly suggest you look at Karibu. It's a guest house with about 6 rooms, excellent ownership, very secure location, great staff, good chef in the kitchen, all in all a perfect stop over. First day was Ndali Lodge which a beautiful setting. The owner is very friendly and spends time with the guests, though his staff is not as well trained as I would have expected given his British background, quality of the lodging. Enjoyed Kibale. Could have passed on the Bigodi walk I think, esp during mid day when very hot. Then QE park at Mweya...what a great setting. We loved it! A perfect end to the travel. The Kazinga channel ride as lots of fun as were the game drives, though I was a bit underwhelmed with the volume and diversity of the game in QE. Especially as I compared to the Mara or Mt. Kenya. The landscape and views are unbeatable, but not many animals. Example no giraffe, rhino, few lions. Despite that, we had a marvellous time there. The setting really is unbeatable. Entertainment at night with tribal dancers was fun. Our Wild Frontier guide was named Ham, and he was outstanding. Very personable, soft spoken, courteous, well informed, etc. I would highly recommend him to future travellers. We all really liked the variety that Uganda gave us after a week in Kenya. The varied terrain and different cultures were educational, and it fulfilled the desire I always had to get to this area of Africa. I would not really change anything on the itinerary except the Nakuru stop. Otherwise all lodging and guides were very well chosen You both did a great job for us....thanks loads. I wish we were headed back to the continent soon, but I fear it will be a few yers. Garth
Hi Ilze- Nicole and I are back in the US and wanted to thank you again for all the help that you gave us to make our trip truly fantastic! We're happy to give you some feedback on some places that stood out to us, as well as some learnings for future travelers. I'll also try to address your questions in the respective sections. Below is a quick summary: South Africa
- Cape Town accommodations were fine. Nothing "special" but we knew that going in. It was very comfortable, clean and convenient.
- The lodge in Franschhoek was really nice.
- The Elephant Lodge was a really nice location. Very unique and charming.
- You definitely warned us about the distance between all locations - we probably should of listened. While it was great to see the towns that we did, it was often after a long day of driving only to have to leave again first thing in the morning.
- All in all, the locations and lodges were all lovely in S. Africa.Mozambique
- Everything was amazing! LOVED Islands of Siankaba.
- We've already given feedback here. It was an amazing island. Beautiful, tranquil, etc.
- The Banguerra Lodge had a lot of potential. It was beautiful, the food was good.
Overall Feedback Aside from the above, we were very very happy with all the other elements of our trip (food, boarding, activities, transfers). That said, we thought we’d summarize some things that may have made our trip a bit more seamless so that you can pass along to future customers. Looking forward to connecting at your convenience. Thanks again for your help in planning a truly amazing, life changing trip. I hope the feedback above is helpful, and in the context that it was intended - which is that all in all, we are VERY happy. Have a great day. Colby
- We really loved the Stanley.
- Travel time between parks.