As some of you may know, the Kruger Park was quite badly hit by flash floods a week or so ago. This affected several camps in the area, including one of our favourites, Mala Mala. The following is a press release regarding when they expect to reopen… “Regretfully, after viewing the Mala Mala Game Reserve [...]
Hippopotamus amphibius – “river horse” This great shot of a hippo showing off his incisors was taken by Stephen Raffay, a professional photographer who is currently on safari in the Kruger National Park area care of africansafaris.com. Contrary to popular belief, this old guy is not yawning or opening up wide for the dentist…! This [...]
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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
Ilze, I’ll let Caty add on, but in a word the trip was outstanding! The place you got for us at De Waterkant was great – lots of character and an excellent location. The experience at Shamwari was also superb! We had great service, an outstanding ranger, and excellent accommodations. We’ll send you some pictures soon – I’m now trying to wade through them – I took almost 500! Thanks for all you help on the trip! Regards, Larry
Hello Liesl, I am so pleased with this trip to Botswana. The country was beautiful and green. The weather was very comfortable. We saw many of the animal life, certainly a successful safari with lions; leopards; cheetah; painted dogs; elephants; hippos; giraffe; zebra; impala and much more. The lodges were marvelous, really. The food was great, no one became ill. Everything went exactly as planned, everything. I thank you so much for arranging this adventure for our family. I am so impressed that a trip of this sort with so many different arrangements to be made, that it can go as flawless as it did. We had a great time. Thank you so much, and thank you to all that did such a memorable and remarkable job in a service of providing a great safari. Happy New year! I will send a picture or two.
Thank you very much!I can’t begin to explain to you how wonderful everything was. To be honest, even though I had agreed to everything, I was still a little skeptical about some of the recommendations you had made. Turns out, some of the things I had been most skeptical of (Cape Town, Victoria Falls, San Camp) were the absolute highlights. You and your team did a remarkable job and Milena and I have already begun trying to figure out a way to get back. If there is ever anything that we can do to help you all convince prospective clients that this is something that they need to do, we’d love to help.As far as pictures go, Milena and I are far from good. However, that didn’t stop us from taking ~2,000 photos. I’ll send you an invitation to our Snapfish folder. Additionally, I’m a fan of African Safari Consultants on facebook. I’m not sure if that gives you access to my photos, but if it does, we’ve got a bunch of them posted there as well. Again, most of them are pretty bad, but if you happen to see anything that you’d like to use, they’re all yours.If I get some time later today or over the weekend, I’ll try to put together a more thorough review of everywhere we went/stayed. Needless to say, we were impressed by everything and we only have good things to say.Thank you all so much for everything you did.
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