Hi Liesl, Thanks for the email. We had an amazing time in South Africa. everything worked out smoothly with our car rental, and the two lodges Gomo Gomo and Elephant Plains were awesome. We would definitely recommend both lodges to anyone. The wildlife was terrific, the food and accommodation top-notch, and the staff (particularly at Gomo Gomo) [...]
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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.
Lise & Jeff, The safari was awesome. Among the many amazing animals and landscapes, we saw 3 kills - a pride of lions kill a cape buffalo, and twice saw cheetahs kill a gazelle. Solomon was really 100% responsible for making the trip so awesome. More than just a driver, he was unbelievably knowledgeable about absolutely everything - animals, plants, star constellations, geology, Tanzanian and African history, demographics. We didn't ask a single question that he didn't know the answer to, and we asked a lot of questions. We requested, and he and the camps obliged, for him to eat dinner with us and the other guests because he was so enjoyable to talk to. Not only was he smart, he was funny, considerate, polite, jovial. He also had an "instinct" for what animals were about to do - for example, one day there were a ton of trucks watching a leopard from a distance. Not only did he watch the leopard, but he watched where the leopard was LOOKING. He said "I think I know where it's going next" and drove us away from all of the other trucks. It jumped out of its tree and disappeared in the grass. A moment later, it emerged from the tall grass and jumped onto a log 10 yards from where Solomon had positioned our truck. Not one of the other trucks had done the same, and we got an up-close-and-personal view of the leopard. Then it walked right towards us and around the front of the truck. We have some amazing photos from the trip and I am getting a ton of questions about it. I tell everyone that if they ever go to Tanzania, they absolutely need to use Solomon as their guide. He went above-and-beyond the entire 10 days and it really made our trip special. Dylan
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!
Dear Ilze, We are home, safe and sound. You always called the trip “Your Fabulous African Journey”. And, you were right on. It was absolutely fabulous! A trip of a lifetime. We saw all the BIG 5, met wonderful people ( guides, waiters, cooks,transporters, etc.), ate great food and had an exciting time. The trip exceeded expectations, by a factor. Thank you for your work. I should have called you back to also thank you for getting my walker delivered that first night. My son took close to two thousand pictures. I’ll share the best with you after he sends me copies. My friends are jealous. Regards, Dave
Hi Sarah, Xaranna was the most remote place we visited while we were in Southern Africa. It's about 45 minutes by air from Maun to the Pom Pom airstrip, then 10+ minutes by vehicle to the landing and 30+ minutes by water to the camp. The + depends on the wildlife one encounters en route. Our tracker and guide met our plane and the safari began as we drove away from the airstrip. The tents, lounge and dining area were well-designed and decorated, well-maintained and very comfortable. (Special treat: hot water bottles in the beds at night!) Meals were delicious and served beautifully. I am a vegetarian and was impressed with the vegetarian options. Service in all respects was first rate: we were very well cared for. Despite the casual, laid-back feel of the camp, everything ran like clockwork. They were completely flexible about activities, dining arrangements, etc. Our tracker and guide were knowledgeable and did an excellent job. Although, as I understand it, game in the delta at this time of year is not concentrated and still a little leery of vehicles, we saw really good variety on land and got very close to birdlife(and hippos) on the water. & Beyond/Xaranna are involved in a project to relocate hippos to Botswana (Hippos Without Borders). A PhD student from the UK working on the project for the next two years is staying at Xaranna and provided a wealth of information about her research and the project. There is nothing to keep wildlife out of the camp, and wildlife do come through, during the day and at night. While we were there one couple encountered a young elephant on the path outside their tent at mid-day; we had kudus eating leaves from branches just outside the screened wall of our tent in the middle of the night, and on our last evening a hippo grazed alongside the dining deck during dinner. Talk about a real wildlife experience! The warmth and good humour of the staff really struck me. On arrival at the camp we were greeted by perhaps 10 of the staff who were on the dock singing a welcome - in fact, we heard the singing before we saw the dock. Throughout our stay we were treated with warmth and there was lots of laughter. It felt like a large happy family welcoming us to their home. Because the camp is remote, the staff put on the boma entertainment themselves and all the staff participate. They even managed to get the guests up dancing and singing! The manager and all staff are indigenous Botswanans and welcomed questions about their country, their culture and their lives. We were seen off, as we were welcomed, by the staff singing on the dock and waving. It was very touching. I'd go back in a nanosecond. Sincerely, N. Smith