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 [...]
Wildlife news and conservation stories are hot in the press at the moment. With the recent exposure of a Rhino poaching syndicate; the talk of Elephant hunting in East Africa; the sad poisoning of the Hoaruseb pride of Lions in Namibia; the burning of illegal Ivory by Kenya’s President with a street value of $100 [...]
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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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.
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 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
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
Jeff,I wanted to let you know that I had the most incredible, dream trip. I can only imagine the work you all put in behind the scenes to make it all happen.Again, I appreciate all you and the team did for us behind the scenes, and also the support you all provided while we were in South Africa. We were able to maximize our limited time there and see a great deal with your help and advice. Please pass on my thanks to everyone in the Cape Town office and anyone else who had a hand in this that we may not have met.I'm looking forward to booking Tanzania next! WooHooo! Judy