Client Trip Reports – January – March 2015 (Southern Africa)
“Diverse Namibia” Group Safari to Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, Damaraland & Ongava
The Diverse Namibia safari was great. However, it is not for the trepid traveler. Some of the roads required a lot of patience and perseverance, but it was all worth it.
Our guide, Jeremiah Mwapopi, was excellent. He was very personable, diplomatic, extremely knowledgeable on all topics, pertaining to the trip, and, very importantly, he was an excellent driver. We don’t know how he managed to put in the many hours that he did behind the wheel, on top of his other duties.
All the lodgings were extremely comfortable. We enjoyed the camps and the food was excellent. The camp personnel everywhere were very polite, cheerful, and helpful.
The dunes were magnificent and were perhaps the hit of the trip. But everything was fascinating – the ever changing landscape, the hunt for the animals (the cats turned out to be invisible), Swakopmund, etc. We returned home extremely satisfied with the whole trip…
Thank you for a marvelous experience.
Vera Jones, Mar 2015
Private Safari to Uganda and Flying Safari to Botswana’s Kalahari and the Okavango Delta
Hi Mark and the gang,
Thanks for putting together a wonderful safari that delivered big time everything we hoped to see and more. From being met at the various airports and expedited through security and passport lines to wonderful camps and outstanding guides we couldn’t have asked for more.
Each camp was very special, from the new Baker’s Camp along the Nile from where we took our boat trips to see the amazing bird life including the elusive shoebill stork to the to die for views of Kyaninga Lodge overlooking a crater lake and gorgeous landscape which was our home base for chimp viewing. The food here was spectacular and the staff so inviting.
Gorilla Forest Lodge, Jack’s and Chitabe also delivered big time. In addition, each camp catered to our dietary needs in a way I had never experienced before. Special meals were prepared to make sure we, as gluten free, never felt we had to settle and each camp went out of their way to make great food and even a gluten free cake to celebrate my daughter’s recent graduation. The staff at each camp could not have been nicer or more helpful and we wanted for nothing.
The wildlife viewing couldn’t be beat. By Murchison Falls we were fortunate to see two Shoebill Storks, one sub-adult in gorgeous light and one adult….nothing quite prepares one for seeing these prehistoric looking birds. It was truly a highlight of the trip. The bird life on the Nile was remarkable, from fish eagles and harriers to the impossibly beautiful Malachite and Grey Kingfishers to spectacular bee eaters nesting on the walls of the banks. The herons, jacanas, storks and even the Nile Crocs paid us little attention as we drifted by and got some wonderful photos. Seeing hippos up close is a thrill but we never felt threatened or unsafe viewing them…getting eye level photos was the goal and we got plenty of those.
Heading off to chimp viewing in Kibale we drove quite a way and saw many of the villages along the way which was a real eye opener. Chimp viewing itself was spectacular…we did two chimp walks and had great views of the apes in the trees and also on the forest floor. Our chimp guide/ranger, Jessica, was fabulous and in fact we were the only people in the forest in the afternoon and that was a special treat. Sitting no more than 15 feet from some of the chimps as they sat was quite amazing. We were lucky to see the chimps organize a hunting party as they had a taste for meat…but luckily for their intended prey that afternoon, the chimps had to settle for veggies.
We were then off to gorilla trekking in Bwindi and had two very different but equally exciting adventures. The first was a two and a half hour straight up hill climb to reach our quarry. Luckily we all chose to hire porters (yes, do this even if you don’t think you need one as it supports the local community) as we needed to be pulled and pushed up the steep slope which was at about a 60 degree angle for the whole climb.
We finally reached the gorillas and spent an hour with them and got some really nice views of the silverback and many of the other members. The climb down was just as adventurous…it is a great experience separate and apart from the viewing of the apes. The next day we were assigned to a group that was 45 minutes away by vehicle but only a 15 minute hike into the forest. But this large group provided spectacular viewing often a touching distance as the gorillas would regularly walk right past us or sit down within 10-15 feet.
Apparently, the gorillas do not read the same 23′ distance regulation requirement we are told to maintain. The trackers and guides hacked away at the undergrowth to give us great views and wonderful photo ops. The hour flew by too quickly but we all had a very special time.
Our guide in Uganda was Edward and I cannot say enough positive things about him. I have rarely met a guide so personable, knowledgeable and accommodating. He had great knowledge of not just all things wild but of Ugandan culture, politics and history. He had a wonderful sense of humor and he became not just a guide but a friend in no time. Anyone planning to a trip to Uganda will be very lucky to have him guide them…a very special man.
Our next stop was Botswana and two very different venues. Starting at Jack’s Camp in the Kalahari we enjoyed a most beautiful camp. Not having electricity in the tents might seem a negative but having kerosene lamps at night adds to an already special ambiance and return to days long gone by in Africa. The night time skies were quite something and I even was able to get my first Milky Way images. The draw here were the meerkats and we spent most of our time with them and had some very special moments including watching very young ones suckling outside their den at sunset. This is quite unusual to see but our guide, Chabba, made sure we wouldn’t miss it. Speaking of Chabba, he might be the most knowledgeable and smartest guide I’ve ever met…his depth of knowledge was so far above any I’ve experience. He knew, chemistry, biology and could even hold his own with 2 scientists that were in our group…but he made the information so interesting….I think I learned more from him in the couple of days we were there than any other time. He is also really fun to be with and this being the second time having him guide me it felt really comfortable very quickly.
Off to Chitabe for a quick two nights….I was a bit apprehensive as I had to cut down this part of the trip for personal reasons and was concerned that I might not see as much as I had hoped for. Well, not to worry….3 leopards, 6 lions on a hunt, 8 wild dogs, and a mother and two sub-adult cheetahs later I got all I’d hoped for and more. Each sighting was really special and none fleeting but long ones which allowed us to view behavior and get some new photos that I had been hoping for years. Our guide, BB, is so good and always put us in great position to get the best shots in the best possible light. It was sad to leave but I was really pleased to have seen all we did in the short amount of time we were there. The camp itself was great and Josie, the camp manager, went out of her way for us…it was a very special time. Our bush lunch by the flood plains was so special and we had a troop of baboons walk right by and even had a big male sit up in a tree right near us as though on his own little throne….nothing scary…just a another great moment to remember.
I can’t thank the whole AAC staff enough for all you do to make each and every safari we have taken with you most special. There are little things that are done that most won’t notice or just take for granted…I know other companies probably do not provide that level of care and I am so happy that I have found an outfit that always goes the extra mile for their clients.
I can’t wait to plan my next trip with The AAC….thanks again everyone.
Eric Gurwin, March 2015
South African Safari and Cape Highlights
Thanks so much for the email. Our trip to South Africa was absolutely perfect. Thank you for everything, our entire experience was flawless thanks to you. It was wonderful having an escort to help us at the airport in Johannesburg, we went straight to the front of the line in customs. We had the best tour guides in Cape Town. Both the full day peninsula tour and our 2 days with Chris were amazing – our guides were a wealth of knowledge and did a wonderful job. We also loved the Queen Victoria hotel – everything was exceptional, especially the breakfast.
Our safari experience was truly indescribable. We had the most amazing experience at the Lion Sands River Lodge from beginning to end. We were placed with the perfect group and plan to keep in touch for years to come. We had the best guide and tracker (our tracker Noel spotted a green baby chameleon sitting on a leaf while we were driving at night – that’s how good he was). Our accommodations were exceptional (we were located in the unit farthest from the lodge which also happened to be the largest and most private – not sure how you were able to secure this for us but we are extremely grateful). Lion Sands did not disappoint – there were surprises around every corner – breakfast in the bush, dinner in the riverbed, etc.
I could go on and on, thank you so much for the experience of a lifetime.
Sarah & Brian Lopatka, March 2015
Flying Safari to Botswana’s Desert & Delta
Dear Sylvia et all-
It was a wonderful trip and I thank you for all your planning. I cannot imagine trying to do it all on my own. I was so pleased with all the wildlife and the birds, all the background info., etc. You can be sure that I will recommend you, should it come up, for those who want a trip of a lifetime!
Finally, I’m getting to sit down and send you my critique. Here it is, in no particular order.
1 – Suitcase: I realize why you have to have the no wheels and nothing solid limitations. I did see non-compliants, but am glad I was not one of them. Having laundry service available made such a difference.
2 – The food was wonderful. Of course, too much. I cannot think of anything I didn’t like to try, but there was always the feeling that if one didn’t like a dish, something else could be made.
3 – One thing that really impressed me: at all the camps, all the staff remembered our names! This made things really personal. All the staff were wonderful and should be commended highly………the housekeeping staff, the curio shop staff, the cooks, etc.
4 – On my Zambezi River cruise, I was the most dressed up, and I just had a long skirt. It was *very* casual. So, I could have eliminated that, but perhaps it changes with the seasons.??
5 – I want to especially commend the following managers: Alex at Kalahari and Anya in Vumbura. They were both exceptional…
6 – Re tips, your recommendations were fine, although I’m sure you find that it’s common to give more than the recommendations. The guides were top notch, knew their business, ready to answer any and all questions and always willing when someone yelled out, “Stop, stop” to take a particular picture.
7 – One thing I like to take along, for special people, is the U.S. $1.00 presidential gold coins. I also take along some Sakajawaya’s and Susan B. Anthony’s for the ladies. They are always a big hit, for it seems no one else brings them. And, I give a bit of a history lesson while I’m at it! I also took along a stash of pens, pencils and flashlight for the clinic.
8 – Speaking of the clinic, I think my guide, Esther enjoyed it as much as I did. We were not expected apparently. Since it was a Sat., it was very slow……..no doctors, but a wonderful nurse took us on a tour (she earned a Sakajawaya………and a presidential coin!). Since I’m a nurse, I knew not to give a tip, but she was pleased with the coins.
9 – The Ilala Hotel: If anyone stays there, remind them that the sunrise over Vic. Falls is not to be missed, weather permitting…
10 – I knew I bragged that it was never too hot for me, but I may have met my Waterloo. Especially at Kalahari. One reason may have been that the room faced the afternoon sun, and the shades were not drawn, although I don’t know if that would have helped much. Because the rains were late, that contributed. At any rate, it’s not your fault, and everyone made do. Still, I’m glad I went at this time of year……….just unfortunate to come back to this Virginia weather.
Continued success to all of you and thank you again.
Sheila Musselman, Feb 2015