Clients Trip Reports Southern Africa – Jul-Sep 2016 (Southern Africa)
Southern Africa’s Big Five Adventure
We had a wonderful trip – actually it was a trip we will remember for the rest of our lives – it was fabulous!
We were very grateful and appreciative for your staff for all the work they did to plan our safari vacation, everyone was very responsive to our emails. The guides were all fabulous, the people who met us at the airports and all the drivers were all very helpful, especially the young man at the Johannesburg airport who speeded us through all the lines and was a delight to talk to along the way.
The Cape Grace Hotel was fabulous – loved the location, the room we stayed in as well as all the employees there were terrific. The concierge arranged dinners and drivers for us which was very helpful.
MalaMala at Rattray’s was spectacular. Our guide was amazing, the accommodations were beyond amazing too! We highly recommend that camp.
Kwetsani was also a fabulous camp. The food there was the best of the whole trip. The chef was very accommodating for Mike Emmett’s gluten free diet. Our guide Dennis Smith was really the best as were the hosts at that camp. We highly recommend that camp…
Again, we had a fabulous trip and will recommend Africa Adventure Company to our friends when they plan trips to Africa.
Thanks so much.
Macki and Paul Ellenbogen, Sep 2016
Safari to Phinda Reserve and Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Thank you for making perfect arrangements for our safari.
Our adventure was beyond our expectations. We have so many favorite moments it’s difficult to choose. Upon arrival in Cape Town, Table Bay Hotel welcomed us with champagne, flowers and a delicious anniversary cake.
Our Phinda stay was fantastic. When we were checking into our suite nine elephants strolled by our deck, and two days later an elephant was drinking from our pool. Our tracker and ranger were relentless in tracking the animals on all drives.
Kirkman’s Kamp was also an excellent choice. The lodge was very charming stepping back in time. We were fortunate to see most species of animals and birds. On our last drive in Kirkman’s Kamp, we spent about forty-five minutes in the Sand River bed watching a pack of 23 Wild Dogs…the pups played around our vehicle.
The entire staff is warm, friendly, and most attentive…the food was all delicious.
Thank you again,
Marie Clifford and Joe Tarala, Sep 2016
Botswana Flying Safari to Kwando Lagoon and Kwara Camp
Alison and Team,
Crista and I arrived back in the USA yesterday and I got home last night. We had a great time both at the Kwando Lagoon Camp and the Kwara Camp.
The Lagoon Camp had more elephant that I ever imagined, a large wild dog pack, leopard, cape buffalo, sable antelope, roan antelope, kudu, red lechwe, tsessebe, wildebeest, impala, waterbuck, African wildcat, water monitor, hyena, hippo, zebra, warthog, baboon, side-striped jackal, bat-eared fox and many more animals, birds were everywhere. Our hut was very large and clean. The guide and tracker were informative and helpful. The staff was friendly and professional. Food was also very good.
It was outstanding to see our first wild dog pack. We saw them hunting and running a kudu cow. We also saw a female leopard feeding on a previous night’s kill. The next morning we found her cub in a tree but it refused to show us its face. A mature elephant had died of old age. We watched the wild dogs working as a team trying to break through the dead elephant’s tough thick skin. From our hut around lunch time, we watched hundreds of elephant cross the lagoon each day, truly amazing. A large Cape buffalo herd came to water and we got the opportunity to photograph.
The Kwara Camp was even better, adding lion, cheetah, crocodile, reedbuck, bushbuck, steenbok, scrub hare, honey badger, black-backed jackal, ostrich to the list from Lagoon Camp. We saw an additional three packs of wild dog. We took the mokoro ride and I asked our guide to give me poling lessons, he did and I was please that I did not fall into the water. Crista and about half of the other guests followed my lesson, all had a great time. We also took the motor boat ride and had the unusual bug-in-the-face experience…Again the guide and tracker were outstanding. The food was very good and well prepared. Staff friendly and helpful.
The first afternoon drive yielded a female cheetah hunting but missing its opportunity to make a kill. Next morning the wild dogs made an impala kill, two hyenas tried to steal, a huge fight encountered, the dogs won out and the hyena’s left. Photographed two big mature lions.
On two occasions found single male cheetahs. Found a large male leopard in a tree, it jumped out of the tree and started a hunt for some reedbucks, we left him to hunt without our interference. Saw three lions, two lionesses and one two year old male lion sitting on a termite mound. Found three female lionesses and a large male on a zebra kill, eating away. The big male ran off the lionesses and kept the kill for himself. Saw two female lionesses and four cubs eating on a zebra they had killed. Tracked a male lion and found him sleeping beside a termite mound when an injured hippo came by. The lion did not attack. The hippo wandered into the water and came out and fell to the ground, we thought it had died, returned in the afternoon but the hippo was not dead, found male lion under a tree a sleep on its back and did not move while we were viewing. Found a mature lion, a young lion and two lionesses feeding on a zebra. The older lioness left the kill and walked about 50 meters away, soon the mature lion followed and approached the lioness a fight pursued, then the mature lion walked over to the younger lion and looked him into his face, the younger lion turned his head away from the dominate lion. The two lionesses and younger left waking down to the water and drank we had to leave. Saw two zebra fighting and two yellow-billed storks fighting over a pan that had fish. There were just too many birds to list.
The small airplane flights from and two the camp locations were taken at noon, very hot trips.
All-in-all, Crista and I had an excellent time and can’t wait to go again. The safari to Botswana was an exciting experience. Having AAC organize the trip was an excellent decision and invaluable, making the transition between locations painless while providing truly professional camps with memorable animal viewing. I took over 2,000 digital images. This was my third Africa trip with AAC and we will have them organize our next Africa Adventure.
Paul and Crista Hanser, Sep 2016
Big Five Safari to Southern Africa
Kyle and all the individuals who helped with our vacation at Africa Adventure Company:
Let me first say that the vacation was by far, our best vacation. The things we saw and the places we visited were truly amazing. We could not help but periodically ask each other if this was a dream. The credit for this belongs to you and your staff for making the entire trip as seamless as possible. We were picked up promptly at each location and transported to our hotel/camp. The places we stayed, which I will talk about later, were first class and the safaris were everything you could ask for and more.
The Welgelgen in Cape Town was conveniently located and Fiona and the staff could not have been more helpful and informative. She booked us at the Black Sheep Restaurant for our first night’s dinner and the food was amazing. I never had Kudu before so I decided to try it. It was superb. Based on your recommendation, the second night we had dinner at the chef’s table at the Nelson. Again, a wonderful experience. We had the chance to discuss the meal with the chef and at the end they presented us with a plate with “Happy Anniversary” written in icing. Truly memorable.
The trip you booked for us with Paul for the Peninsula was again top rate. Not only did we get to see all the main sights of the peninsula, we had a very informative discussion on apartheid before and after it was abolished. It gave us a much better understanding of the country and its history. Paul was a great guide and I would highly recommend him for anyone else traveling to Cape Town.
After Cape Town we flew to Sabi Sands. Notten’s Bush Camp was a little more of an authentic bush experience it is a great place to stay. The place does not have any electricity but for us, the candles and perifin lamps at night only added to the whole experience. It truly was magical. I would highly recommend it. The rooms were great and the food was even better.
On the first day out we saw four of the big five and arrived back at camp wondering if it could get better. It did. The second day we found a family of leopards (the last of the big five for us to see) and we sat and watched them for about 30 minutes. The male seemed to know he was something special since he just sat by the jeep preening himself and periodically glancing our way. Not to miss anything, we went on all the drives and the walks. Each time we saw something new. We hated to leave but there were more adventures ahead.
Next we went to Victoria Falls. Our room in the stable wing of the Victoria Falls Hotel reminded us of days gone by. The tour by Precious was marvelous (how could you lose on a tour with an individual named Precious). While we only stayed a night, it was a nice break between camps.
The next day we went to Muchenje and again we were not disappointed at the accommodations or the drives. On the safaris we saw more elephants, giraffes, zebras, Cape buffalo and the like – more than you could ever hope for. One of the most memorable experiences was seeing a large herd (probably 200 – 300) of cape buffalos moving back from the river one morning. You could see the dust they kicked up about a mile away. It is hard to describe these kinds of experiences to others.
During the river cruise, we saw hippopotamuses and crocodiles. Eating lunch on the river while watching the zebras, hippos and elephants walk by is a once in a lifetime experience. We visited the local village and went to a class with the local children. We have a picture of Leslie surrounded by about ten children playing with her tablet. I have since begun to call her the Pied Piper. Our guide, Sy, took us to his childhood home and we met his grandmother. She could not speak English but she was very gracious. While she did not have very much in life, you could tell she had everything she needed – her family and her friends. Truly an eye opener.
Last, we flew to Johannesburg and stayed at the Residence. The room with the Jacuzzi, patio and fountain was the perfect end to a remarkable trip. The next day our tour of Johannesburg was by Linda and we were able to see all the sights before flying out. Another great time.
Overall, let me again say that your help and expertise in the planning of this trip was greatly appreciated. We have had the pleasure of traveling many places but this was really the first time we did the entire trip on our own. We could not have done it without you. Please accept our heartfelt thanks that you made this entire trip a once in a lifetime experience. If we ever venture into Africa again (a fairly good chance that will happen), there is nobody else we would call.
Scott and Leslie Lang, Sep 2016
Classic Botswana Flying Safari to Linyanti Reserve and the Okavango Delta
Good afternoon Szilvia,
The entire trip was amazing!
Accommodations and service at the Residence in Johannesburg were outstanding. Along with a wonderful breakfast, we ate dinner there and were very pleased with the quality of the food. We were also pleased with the accommodations and service at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, and enjoyed sitting out on our balcony watching the animals.
All 3 camps in Botswana were beyond expectations as far as the quality of the accommodations, food and level of service by the staff. We enjoyed being treated “like family” and welcomed back upon our return from a game drive. Our guides were all excellent – Rogers at Duma Tau, Moyo and Dennis at Kwetsani and Duke at Chitabe. There were so many fantastic experiences, but at the top of the list was seeing a mother leopard carrying a cub by the scruff of the neck, and viewing a watering hole from a research blind near the Savuti Camp. Not only did we see a wide variety of wildlife very close up, but were splashed with mud by the elephants when they decided to cool down!
One comment about Esther – she is a truly wonderful lady and gave us an excellent tour of Victoria Falls and the village. We gave her the school supplies that we brought to deliver.
Thank you for arranging an amazing trip for us!
Steve and Jeanne Lipshetz, Sep 2016
Best of Southern Africa including Cape Town, Sabi Sand and Chobe
We had a wonderful time. Cape Town was spectacular. There is so much to see and do there. Our safaris were great. We saw all of the big 5 on our first safari, and all but the leopard on the last. The Victoria Hotel was unbelievable, so enormous, and the falls were spectacular. The Savanna and Ngoma lodges were great. Everyone at the lodges were wonderful, they couldn’t do enough for you. They really went out of their way to be helpful and to please us. The food at both lodges was great. We all gained weight on this trip. We really enjoyed our safari at the Savanna because they were able to go off road on the private preserve and we could really get up close to the animals. I think for all of us we found the Savanna Lodge was the best of both lodges. All of the guides were great and having someone meet us at every stop was a great help. Everything went smoothly and we had perfect weather.
Thanks to all of you at Africa Adventure for making our trip so memorable.
Gail & Joseph Montysko, Sep 2016
Wildlife Safari to Southern Africa
Hi, Elena & Staff,
Give us a few days to edit our 3000+ photos, adjust to being home, and getting some rest. We will certainly share photos and experiences with you in the near future.
To give you a sense of what you may hear from us consider this statement from Sandy and me… “Pick any category, from transportation, to safari sightings, to local people helping us, to the wonderful guides & trackers, to the outstanding planning, to the special amenities you included, to any subject you would suggest; we were 100% happy with all aspects of the trip from the moment we stepped into JFK in NYC for our departure on SAA through the entire trip and until we landed in NYC after flying from Tambo on the final day of our trip. Every level of the booking was an A+. This trip is easily among our greatest trip experiences of our 50 years of travel. We would recommend AAC to anyone at anytime.”
Ray & Sandy Rowe, Sep 2016
Luxury Safari to South Africa’s Phinda Reserve and Singita Game Reserve
Helene and I are just back from South Africa and we wanted to say thank you. The arrangements you made for us worked flawlessly. The guide in Cape Town was superb. Your recommendation that we visit Phinda and Singita for 3 nights each were great selections and just the right amount of time. The habitats in the two locations were sufficiently different to make each experience worthwhile. Phinda is an awesome place — Singita Boulders is off the charts!! And thanks for arranging the special amenities for us in Cape Town and at Singita.
All told, a wonderful trip and we are very grateful to you and your colleagues for making it so. we will be in touch for our next Africa experience.
Steve Sacks, Sep 2016
South Africa “Big Five” Safari
From the moment we stepped off the jetway and were met and whisked through immigration upon arrival to the Bidvest lounge in Joburg at the end of our stay, this was a magical trip. You made it so easy for us and so wonderful.
Rattray’s was outstanding. We loved the ranger and were thrilled to see so many animals. Had three of our six game drives without any other guests. Gale had a birthday cake and the staff sang. We visited Main Camp and realized what a great upgrade you arranged.
Loved the Victorian style Hacklewood Hill Country House in Port Elizabeth and had a delicious dinner.
Staying at the wharf in Cape Town made life easy. I walked back after I returned on the ferry from Robben Island. We visited the Aquarium and shopped and had perfect weather for a trip up Table Mountain.
Gale did very well driving down to Cape Point and back to Cape Town as well as out to the winelands. We loved Quartier Francais and with a happy birthday greeting were upgraded to a really nice suite. WOW! This was the perfect last stop. We drove through Stellenbosch and were so glad you recommended Franschhoek instead. Stopped at a couple of vineyards. The Tasting Room was an experience like no other. Unbelievable! Food and wine pairings were exquisite. Friday we arranged for a car and driver so Gale could join in the fun at the wineries.
We are so grateful, Lynne, for the great service that you provided for us which truly made this the trip of a lifetime. We are looking forward to another excursion to Africa.
Gale and Carolyn Sapp, Sep 2016
AAC’s Signature Safari – “Eyes on Elephant”
Greetings. We made it back yesterday a bit worn but delighted with the experience…
- Camps were all top notch with Linkwasha standing alone. Everything about the camp, especially the air conditioned tents was a delight. Game drives were all excellent. In terms of guides, Robert was outstanding. We both felt very comfortable with him and learned a great deal about both flora and fauna. One highlight of our stay in Linkwasha was witnessing the entire birth of a zebra, from start to him/her taking those first shaky steps. Quite special!! It was also a first for our guide.
- Unlike our first trip to Botswana, this trip we did see many painted dogs, in Vundu. Our guide, Nick Murry has special knowledge of the dogs and also a special touch with several elephants that inhabit the local geography. We had a couple of pulse escalating encounters.
- Amalinda was different…Rooms were spacious and appeared to be carved out of the hillside. After a fair amount of walking however we did see the somewhat elusive (in Zimbabwe anyway) rhinos…white in this case. This completed the “big five” for us.
- InterContinental in Joberg was also more than satisfactory. We were met at the airport arrival gate as planned and escorted to the hotel lobby. Room clean and quiet. Staff terrific. Buffet breakfast exceptional.
The trip was extremely well planned and executed and flawless with the one exception noted. The camp staff in all three camps was terrific.
Richard & Susan Sheridan, Sep 2016
Iconic Safari to Southern Africa
Dear Alison and others:
We had a fantastic time. Everything went without a hitch. I feel that AAC did an outstanding job in making the arrangements – you are obviously very well organized and it shows. This was my fourth trip to Africa with other companies making the arrangements for previous trips. Your service was by far the best. We really appreciated the complimentary items you sent us as well – the jackets , hats and guidebooks. It was a very nice touch.
All of our local guides were outstanding. We loved the Table Bay Hotel, Tanda Tula and the Muchenje Lodge. We did feel that the Machaba camp was not on the same level as the other accommodations and would definitely choose another camp if we were to go back to the Okavango Delta. The tents were just a bit too rustic for our taste and the bug situation at dinners was out of control. I will say that our guide at Machaba was excellent, however and we enjoyed being immersed in the wildlife right in camp.
Thanks again for your great service.
Barbara Steele, Sep 2016
Safari to Mashatu, Victoria Falls and Chobe National Park
The trip was absolutely spectacular and everything went so smoothly. There was not one aspect or issue where we wished something had been different. All the transfers were very easy and having people to meet you and walk you through unfamiliar airports is quite a luxury. I could list all aspects (transport, accommodations, guides, etc.) and all were just perfect. You even provided perfect weather!! And, Mashatu was as spectacular as you indicated. The ability to get off road and close to the animals was very special. Great job.
I am not sure when we will return to Africa, but there is no doubt that we will call you when that time comes. It truly was a vacation of a lifetime and one we will remember always.
Many thanks and I hope you enjoy the “short” portfolio of photographs.
Fred Stults, Sep 2016
Photographic Safari to Botswana’s Savute, Linyanti, Okavango Delta and Moremi
Thanks again for another spectacular safari! I need a couple of weeks to write a trip report with some photos, but the short version is:
– Everything was very smooth, without any issues or hiccups; from the connections to the camps, to the game drives.
– All of the guides were top-notch.
– Savute Safari Lodge: During my first night, just as we were sitting down for dinner, some of the guests freaked out as 12 lions came down to drink at the waterhole that the dinning tables overlook. As I was being escorted back to my tent after dinner that night, my escort and I bumped into a leopard that was ON the raised walkway. Later during that night, lions were roaring up a storm. The roars were mixed with elephants trumpeting and blaring. It was clear that at the very least, lions were chasing elephants in the dry river channel. The next morning we found that the Marsh Pride had killed an elephant just a few minutes outside of and behind camp; and this happened in the Northern Pride’s territory. I later came to learn that this pride was featured in a Natural World/BBC documentary in 2014, called Africa’s Giant Killers. The crew is still filming in the area. We came across them several times. I didn’t see it, but having made an incursion in the Northern pride territory, the Marsh Pride males attacked the Northern Pride the following night, scattering the Northern Pride. The film crew found two Northern Pride lionesses without their cubs, and some distance away, a single lost cub was later found wandering around calling by itself. Very sad. I didn’t hear how it ended, but I will find out.
– DumaTau: Saw leopards on 7 of my 8 game drives. One morning, we found a lot of hyena tracks all over the place. My guide was wondering what they were up to. As we followed, we soon found wild dog tracks mixed in with the hyena tracks. It looked like the dogs were playing with the hyena. We continued following and searching. The tracks eventually led us to a leopard that had a fresh impala kill! A big female leopard was still maneuvering her kill in a tree. Perhaps that was what all the tracks were about. After getting our shots, my guide called in the sighting. We then noticed one wild dog in the bushes on the periphery. It was watching the leopard. Were the dogs hunting the same impala herd? Did the leopard steal their kill? Then we saw two dogs. We released the sighting to another guide and went off to follow the dogs. They led us to the rest of the pack. It was the LTC pack, which currently consists of 6 adults, and nine 3-month old pups. Luckily, the other couple with whom I shared the vehicle opted for a river cruise one evening, and the next morning they chose to sleep in as they were leaving that day. The camp did not add guests to my vehicle for those drives nor for the rest of that day or my final morning. So I was left with a private guide and vehicle for 4 of my 8 drives at DumaTau. I decided to keep tracking the LTC pack (to the joy of my guide, Mocks). We found and sat with them one evening as the pups played about, as the naughty pups tried to chase (and ended up getting chased by) a small bachelor herd of buffalo, and as a herd of elephant chased back the whole dog pack past our vehicle and it looked like a couple of the elephants were then charging us! On a second afternoon we found the pack again, resting under the shade of a huge leadwood tree. Two other vehicles showed up, sat for 10 minutes and then drove off. I looked to my guide Mocks and said, “what are they crazy???” He said one of the guests wanted to see a lion, and another wanted to see a buffalo. Again I said, “what are they crazy???” Shortly after that, the dogs all got up, greeted each other, and they were off. They were hunting but they eventually led us to the edge of the lagoon to drink and play, and the sun was low on the horizon and setting behind us; a stunningly beautiful scene with wild dog action right in front of us and nirvana for a photographer! 🙂
– Duba Plains: The Tsaro pride is finally growing, much to the relief of all the guides; the two lionesses (whom I saw hunting and taking down a buffalo alone with one male two years ago) currently have 6 cubs (actually sub-adults now). One has three 9-month old cubs, the other has three 10-month old cubs. Silver Eye (the Tsaro cub killer) is still alive, despite rumors and a story to the contrary, but she has been banished from all three prides in the area, and is a remarkably still making it on her own despite her age. She was spotted just a day before I arrived, and one morning we found what we think were her tracks. Spent my entire time at Duba (all day both days as well as my first afternoon and final morning drives) finding and following the Tsaro pride. Unfortunately, the buffalo herd was to the north and out of reach for the Tsaro pride (I saw the big herd on my plane ride in). Watched as a lioness made a run at a herd of red lechwe. Then on my final morning, we found the Tsaro pride hunting red lechwe again with early morning light and a light mist hanging in the air; beautiful! After a miss, they turned toward the small buffalo herd that was behind us. After another miss, the pride walked one by one up and onto a small mound that had a large leadwood tree in the middle of it. The pride members took up different positions on the mound, looking different directions, and one cub climbing the tree, all with beautiful sunrise light behind us. The whole scene could not have been better if it was staged. I was going nuts laying on the floor of the vehicle shooting away! To top it off, the other vehicles hadn’t made it out yet and were only just starting to arrive as the scene on the mound was ending.
– Little Mombo: My first evening we found a wild dog pack, and sat with them until they got up to greet each other, and then they were off hunting. We followed them all over as they really covered a lot of ground on their hunt, eventually bursting out onto a large open plain to chase red lechwe, then turning toward a herd of impala as it was starting to get dark. One extremely lucky impala narrowly escaped. The dogs then briefly turned toward some zebra (which are generally too big for dogs), which in response briefly turned on the dogs to push them back as if to say what are you kidding? One morning we found leopard tracks, and eventually narrowed the probable location to one particular area. We then turned off-road and into brush to search. My guide suddenly shutdown the vehicle and said, “did you hear that?” It was a monkey alarm call. We then drove that direction and out onto a small plain, just as a small leopard burst out of the bushes from the other side of the plain. It was Pula’s 8-month old cub! We followed and watched her for a while until she settled atop a termite mound inside thick brush. Later we found Pula herself; one of only two surviving offspring of Legadema from Nat Geo fame. We were able to watch and shadow Pula the entire afternoon through sunset as Pula was really on the move hunting, at one point stalking impala until a francolin and then a giraffe gave her away. As this was with the photography vehicle and guide, we were by ourselves for much of the hunt as the other guests and vehicles where in having lunch and didn’t come out until late afternoon. It was only toward sunset that the other vehicles finally showed up.
Thanks again for another fabulous safari Kyle! I’ll put this into more of a trip report with photos in another week or two. I have little bit of photo sorting to do now
Chris Swindal, Sep 2016
“Iconic Visions” Safari to Southern Africa
Have been back a week and a half and feel we are still in a “dream.” After five years of peppering Elena with questions about where, when and how best to go, we finally made it to Africa. My husband, at first reluctant, has declared the trip “well worth it” and we were very pleased to have chosen to work with Africa Adventure Company.
We took the Atlanta to Joberg flight, and after a night at the Intercontinental (very nice), it was off to Kirkman’s in Sabi Sand. For us, this was a perfect first safari. A team of four greeted us and kept an eye on us for the whole four night stay. Our guide, Sean, was exceptional and we understand he also occasionally guides at Ngala Tented. We saw four of the big five (the lions had gone out of the area for two weeks, but we understand they came back the day we left), food was delicious, wonderful massage, etc. The drought has had an impact on the area, but there are still many animals. And the staff has an amazing spirit of hospitality.
Next we flew to Victoria Falls, where we had two nights at the Victoria Falls Hotel. We had dinner at Jungle Junction, a lovely tour of the falls with Esther, and did the Zambezi Explorer cruise signature deck. Everything was very nice but we wished we had skipped the sunset cruise to just rest. Throughout our trip we saw many couples just skipping a morning or afternoon safari drive to rest but we could never bring ourselves to do it.
Next up was two nights at Ngoma Lodge, one of the nicest accommodations we have ever stayed in, with sweeping views down to the river from our room. In the mornings we could see the impala (and one morning elephants) walking down to the river from our bed. Magical. Food was also good, and they do a full day safari here that includes time on the water… this property is different in that we saw large herds of animals such as zebra and elephants, as well as many extraordinary water birds, crocs, etc.
The journey on to Little Vumbura was an adventure in itself in our five-seater plane. Vumbura has beautiful grassy plains interspersed with “roads” that go right through the water. Again, guiding by Nas was wonderful, and here we saw the lions we had missed up to this point, a leopard in a tree, herds of sable, tssessebe, red lechwe, reedbuck, and so forth. I enjoyed the mekoro more than my husband, who found it a little tame. The boma (only Monday nights) was a treat.
Our last stop was the Queen Victoria in Cape Town, and though the weather was somewhat dreary and we never got up Table Mountain, we did get down to Cape Point one day and we would strongly recommend this drive. In the winelands, we especially enjoyed the chocolate and wine pairing at Waterford. We really enjoyed dinner at Willoughby’s and a stop by Bascule, the whisky bar at Cape Grace that also serves small plates. Near the end of our stay we discovered a great food market (closes at 6:00), bakery and wine store, all near the entrance to the waterfront, that provided great picnic fare.
A special thanks to Elena and AAC for triple checking all arrangements – there were so many junctures where something could have gone wrong but nothing did. Transfers were timely and smooth and we were especially grateful to have assistance making the border crossing from Zambia to Zimbabwe, which is a little complicated.
From the many options for a first trip to Africa, this itinerary worked well for us. Our dates were August 18 to September 4 and with the weather this year we understand we were about one or two weeks too early for the maximum abundance of the spring wildflowers around Cape Town but the weather was absolutely perfect for safari.
We would highly recommend this trip. Again, many thanks.
Betty Kuhl, Aug 2016
Big Five Safari to South Africa’s Kirkman’s and Ngala Tented Camp
We had the absolute best time! Working with AAC was the best decision we ever made. It was a relief to have the bookings taken care of for us, especially considering we were travelling so far away to a place we had never been before. Everyone with AAC was extremely helpful, even when it came to making recommendations for our time in Cape Town.
We loved Lucia, our private guide, in Cape Town. With her, we learned loads about the history of South Africa while on the peninsula tour and visiting the Constantia winelands. She also recommended a dinner spot for us, Sevruga, which had great sushi. We ate dinner the second night at Gold and had a great time on our food safari. I have no doubt it is a tourist place but it was a great way to try a variety of food styles. We booked an afternoon shark cage dive with ASEC and really enjoyed the crew and the experience.
My only complaint is that we did not have more time in Cape Town. There was so much to do and see but we will just have to go back.
Our first safari was at Kirkman’s Camp. Our guide, Joel, and tracker, David were wonderful. We loved them! We saw all big 5 and then some. The food was amazing, it seemed like we were constantly eating. The staff was incredibly kind and took great care of us. On to Ngala Tented Camp, we were with guide, Scott, and tracker, Ernest. The tent was so romantic and the accommodations in general seemed nicer. The staff was welcoming and kind but couldn’t compete with the great people we found at Kirkman’s. Ngala did ask if we wanted a romantic private dinner in our tent on the last night which was a lovely surprise. We saw animals left and right at Ngala, making for a very exciting time. We had a massage at both camps. Before we arrived, I did not know these services were offered. Both were exceptional. The massage room was substantially nicer at Ngala.
We loved both safari camps. If I was choosing solely on looks I would prefer Ngala, but the people really made me enjoy our experience at Kirkman’s, where we felt more taken care of. One item I will consider on our next safari is some sort of workout facility. It was very difficult to be gone for so long and indulging in all of the wonderful food with nowhere to move. Neither camp had a gym of any kind and of course don’t want you running with the wildlife at arms reach.
The items we found the most beneficial from AAC was the tipping guide and the passes to the Bidvest premier lounge in Joberg on our way home. Both of these items were incredibly helpful and much appreciated.
All transfers went very smoothly and the weather was perfect. We are already wanting to return!
Meredith Bartlett, Aug 2016
Honeymoon Safari to Southern Africa
Our trip was absolutely incredible. There are no words to adequately express just how great it was, I just wish it didn’t go so quickly!
I have to say, while everything was amazing, Lion Sands and the Cape Grace went above and beyond. I cannot say enough good things about these places. Just a few of the things they did that I really appreciated (I won’t list everything because this would get very long!)-First, they went out of their way to make sure that my gluten free needs were taken care of. I can’t say how much that meant to me. It isn’t easy traveling with dietary needs but they made it no problem at all. The food was also out of this world. I found myself looking forward to meal times because Cape Grace and Lion Sands were just that good. They also paid such attention to detail, and really seemed to care about our experience without it coming off as forced or obligatory. Last, they made sure to pull out all the stops in celebrating our honeymoon. Every night we came home to a little surprise. We couldn’t have been more impressed. The tours and safaris were also beyond our expectations.
Thank you for planning our Honeymoon, it truly was the trip of a lifetime.
Blair and Aaron Bubley, Aug 2016
Botswana Kwando and Moremi Reserves and South Africa’s Private Game Reserve
Hi Mark and AAC,
Just a quick word from the airport to thank you for the impeccable arrangements. Everything went off beautifully from start to finish. Many thanks to you all for a job well done. All that’s left to do is go though ALL the photos. I always enjoy that as it allows me to relive the moments.
And we had some great sightings to remember. Honey badger at MalaMala. White rhino at every camp, three sightings with a baby. Leopards mating, a first for us. Six different packs of wild dog at all four camps, three with pups. Lion cubs, leopard cubs, giraffe fighting, elephants up close. I could go on and on.
Great camps– Tanda Tula is a new favorite, and great guides–Jacques at MalaMala and Civilized at Tanda Tula.
Ronnie Cantor, Aug 2016
Luxury Safari to Singita Ebony and Lebombo Lodges, South Africa
The trip was absolutely wonderful and we all truly enjoyed our time in South Africa. All of the logistics that you and your team arranged went off beautifully. Our guides and trackers were excellent, and had wonderful personalities to go along with their vast experience. We were lucky enough to have just the four of us in a jeep at both lodges, which is what we preferred. The game viewing was super. Although we did not generally see the large herds of animals that we were fortunate enough to experience when last at Mala Mala and Vumbura in 2010, we saw so many gorgeous species of animal and bird, that the experience was just as amazing. The food at both lodges was also exceptional, and the chefs catered to our every request, although there was veritably no need to go any further than the prepared menus, including the special one prepared for me, given my food preferences. The nature surrounding both lodges was spectacular, and the views from the rooms and common areas were breathtaking.
Thank you for pulling together on such short notice such a great holiday. The four of us had a wonderful experience.
Carolyn Fikke, Aug 2016
Family Safari to Southern Africa including Cape Town, Chobe and Victoria Falls
We are home and back to our jobs etc. We had a wonderful time in Africa and we appreciate all the details you and the Africa Adventure Company attended to on our behalf.
The accommodations at the Radisson, Cheetah Plains, Muchenje and The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge were really comfortable, clean and lovely. We especially liked the Radisson with the waterview and 2 room suite. The safari camps were lovely as well.
The staff at Muchenje and Cheetah Plains were exceptional. All of them were so friendly, kind, attentive and knowledgeable. Thank you for letting them know about my birthday. Cheetah Plains had a cake for me and the Radisson had balloons and cheesecake.
A special acknowledgement for Suleman for his full day tour of Cape Town and the peninsula. He is extremely knowledgeable, intelligent and very cordial. We had a lovely day with him and appreciated his hospitality and guidance.
Cynthia also was exceptional with the tour of Victoria Falls. She was very warm, knowledgeable and fun. She gave us good advice and helped us feel welcome.
I wanted to make sure to acknowledge Ephram the guide at Cheetah Plains and Wilson at Muchenje they both are superb at tracking and finding wildlife. Ephram has much wisdom and experience. Wilson is full of scientific facts about the animals, their characteristics, habits and patterns. Both guides have a great sense of humor. I liked that we were able to do both private game reserve drives and drives in the National Park.
The food at both safari camps was delicious and abundant!! The servers were extremely attentive.
All the transfer drivers were on time and welcoming. They all greeted us warmly, got us where we needed to be and filled us with information about the area we were traveling in.
The trip was an awesome experience for all of us. Africa Adventure Company does an exceptional job organizing once in a lifetime adventures. All the pieces pulled together beautifully. We will certainly recommend AAC to other friends and family. Thank you for making our Africa vacation so wonderful.
Thank you so much for all your attention to detail. You and your staff do an exceptional job planning safaris. The contacts you have made in Africa are good representatives for AAC.
Thank you from all of us.
Maureen, Stephen and Andrew Kelly, Aug 2016
AAC Signature Group safari – “Eyes on Elephant” to Mana Pools, Hwange and Matobo Hills
You were right about Zimbabwe – I should have done this years ago! But if I had gone before, I might not have been on this particular trip, which was VERY Special!
Mana Pools and Nick Murray ~
Nick Murray and Little Vundu: On the plane to Little Vundu we met Marie, Nick’s camp manager. She is very sweet and is glowing because she is 12 weeks’ pregnant. I was wondering how she would handle that in a camp situation until we met Nick’s wife, Desiree, and children, Tate and Jed. Nick and Desiree are the real deal. They are fighting for conservation every day in Zimbabwe. We were lucky that it was school break and the kids were in camp. It was like hanging out with favorite friends and their kids. Little Vundu is right on the river. Nick has now put in permanent tents and Tent One is at the end under an Albida tree where elies and hippos come by at night. The music of the bush is a wonderful lullaby.
Because the Albida trees were dropping pods, the elies would come straight up into camp. During our tea one afternoon an elephant walked up to within 10 feet of us at our table and ate all the pods on the ground. Being so close to a wild calm elie was very special. During walking safaris Nick carefully guided us to within feet of an individual feeding elies and within 50 feet of a feeding herd. Both experiences were exhilarating. We felt safe with Nick’s leadership.
The canoeing safari worked out perfectly. Mo didn’t want to canoe so he slept late and hung out with Desiree and the kids while Raj and I canoed with Nick and Kyle. Nick’s approach to possibly aggressive wildlife is careful and if you follow his subtle cues, passing hippos works like clockwork. The canoeing was not difficult. We canoed for about 6 hours with a stop for a full cooked English breakfast and a walk. We had elies cross in front of us; hippos pop up around us and a croc jump into the water 3 feet in front of our canoe. It felt a bit like I was driving in moderate snow on an icy road for 6 hours. You know you can do it and that you’ll be fine, but it can make you a bit nervous. I am glad I did it since it is really the best way to see the river. I am especially glad I did it with an expert like Nick.
When I read the itinerary there were two things that I think were not made clear enough. First: The BBC uses Vundu camp as its base for filming a documentary on wild dogs. The BBC is there because Nick is an expert on wild dog and works with the Painted Dog Conservation Unit. Nick knows the dogs and their histories. He has 6 years of data on the dogs, which he will be writing into a master’s thesis. He has excellent relationships with people in the parks and they are all happy to see him and help him out.
Second: Nick has finally become frustrated with the lack of effective poaching control from the national parks. Nick has started his own patrol, employing local people and going out himself with Alex (Marie’s husband and camp manager) on patrol. He provides a vehicle, petrol and food for his patrol members. When one of his guys catches a poacher Nick rewards him by feeding his entire village for a week. The local man now is a hero to his village that can see the benefits of conservation. Nick is the real deal; he is an excellent knowledgeable guide and really cares about Zimbabwe and is putting himself on the line everyday to make Zim a better place and to save the animals there.
The last night, Vundu was completely open so we decided to stay there. It is very lovely, less rustic. I loved the luxury but missed the animals outside my door. We all enjoyed the wifi…..
I would recommend that anyone spend time with Nick without hesitation. He is a gem.
Hwange and Dave Carson ~
Dave’s enthusiasm and exuberance are infectious. If he could take you out at 5 am and stay out till midnight everyday, he would. He does not believe in sundowners- why waste the best light?! He does not give up. He says, “It’s not talent, it’s stubbornness!” I think that he is the best bush guide I have ever had.
We were picked up at the airstrip around 10:30 am and I expected a drive to the lodge and then down time before an afternoon game drive. I WAS SO WRONG! We got to a waterhole with 2 lionesses lazing around and a few zebra nearby At first it looked like the girls were going to nap, and as we considered going to the lodge, one lifted her head and started to clean herself. “She’s going to move! They always clean themselves right before they are thinking of moving!” said Dave. Well, we got to the lodge around 7:45 pm. The Linkwasha staff sent lunch out to us since we couldn’t possibly leave the waterhole.
First the girls moved in on some warthogs. One did a classic cat army crawl as close as she could get and held that position for 45 minutes, waiting for the hogs to get close. They avoided detection from a herd of zebra and all looked good as the hogs got closer when we suddenly realized that 100 elies had come in silently from behind us. We were surrounded by a herd enroute to the water. It was magnificent. The lions tried to stay invisible and hold their ground but one finally had to move due to a nearby elie. She ran toward the warthogs that got away. The lions found another place to wait. Another warthog came along and they would have caught it but it ran through the legs of the second large herd of elies, avoiding the lions’ claws. Oh, and there was a herd of 20 plus roans and 40 plus sable. The herds showed up back to back in a delightful succession as if professionally orchestrated to provide us a five star show. We were spoiled.
The daily game drives were wonderful. In Hwange they pump water into water holes and the herds come to the water. The viewing is great, as a result. We got to enjoy watching elies having mud baths and approached a big bull on foot. We saw one sleepy female cheetah and prints from a leopard who never materialized. There was a pride of lions, 5 females, 7 cubs and a magnificent male, Xanda. The pride had an associated young male who had lost a back foot to a snare. He was following the pride, making cub noises, begging to be allowed back in. The females did not want him there. He would get within 50 feet and mew and the females would come running at him. He would cower and they would growl and swing at him but not attack him to kill. Watching this emaciated young male struggle was heart breaking.
Our last night there, a big bull came up to drink at the swimming pool before diner and the last morning the lion pride was in camp as id to see us off.
Linkwasha was lovely. The rooms are gorgeous and they have HEAT!! It is up to the usual Wilderness Standards, but frankly, I think this is the most accommodating set of Wilderness Safaris camps I have found. When we showed up midday at another nearby camp to use the loo, there was no fuss. Our camp brought us lunch in the field and when we asked for them to bring some coffee for us one afternoon, they arrived with the full tea spread. The camp staff was flexible and accommodating. When I asked them to add some hard-boiled eggs to our morning snack, there was no fuss and the eggs showed up everyday.
Amalinda and Paul Hubbard ~
But wait! There’s more! The day with Paul Hubbard at Amalinda was truly special. It turned out that the anti-poaching team was going to be dehorning rhinos. We got out early in hopes of walking in to see some rhinos and the front gate at the park sent us over to some rangers to get directions. ALAS! As we were getting out to start walking, a plane flew over to find the very same rhinos. The team drove up headed by Verity Bowman of Dambari Wildlife Trust. She and Paul are friends and Paul asked if we could follow along and Verity kindly gave us permission. We really lucked out because the park vehicle broke down and so we gave the park director, Oscar, and some of his guys a ride. We had them in our clutches! They had 3 rhinos in the area that they wanted to dart and dehorn and we had the vehicle to get them there! WE WON! We watched them work gently and efficiently on 3 rhinos, (2 females and a male). The male was the last one and was about 4000 pounds and they were having a hard time rolling him. Paul and Mo and Raj and I were standing about 40 feet away watching when Paul handed me his binocs and ran in to help. Paul was so HAPPY! Paul is a happy guy anyhow and it was a delight watching him get to participate. All rhinos did well. In the afternoon we went off to see rock art. Paul is an expert and brought the art to life. And of course Amalinda was enchanting, built into the rocks with lovely meals and beautiful hiking opportunities.
So, it was amazing. The words “thank you” are not big enough to express my gratitude for your expertise, professionalism and ability to put together very special itineraries with very special guides.
Nevertheless, thank you.
Ann Swinford, Aug 2016
The Best of Southern Africa
My African adventure was absolutely spectacular. I was impressed with the timeliness of all of the transfers, especially after hearing all of the talk of “African time”. All of the companies did a great job and the drivers were very professional, talkative, and informative en route.
Although the entire trip was perfect, I think my favorite part was my time at Cheetah Plains. The ability of our guide to off-road made it possible for many intimate encounters with the wildlife. Really, it was stunning how close we were able to maneuver around the animals (without bothering them at all!).
I met some of the most amazing people during my time in Africa. I don’t think I had a single negative encounter. The staff at each location couldn’t have been nicer or more professional. Though it’s hard to single anyone out, the highlights were probably Cynthia as my Vic Falls guide and Cathi at Mechenje Lodge.
A sincere thank you to Ian and team for pulling together an itinerary that produced my most amazing vacation ever!!
Kayla Waters, Aug 2016
Ultimate Namibian Safari to Namib Naukluft, Swakopmund, Damaraland and Etosha
The safari was a great success for me and according to remarks of the travelers. Our guide Stewart Matsopo was the best I have ever had and all my guides have been excellent. His attention to detail and knowledge were beyond the call, all with a grand sense of humor. Everyone approved of the itinerary; no one wanted to fly over the long stretches of bad road between water holes or between lodges increasing costs. All our lodges and hotels were gorgeous and superb except the soft camp…We especially enjoyed the desert excursion and the visit to Africat. Lunch at The Raft, staying at the Hansa, and the seal colony north of Walvis Bay were also special.
We ate and drank more than anyone could imagine. Our lunches generally were picnic under a tree in the bush between waterholes. Stewart arranged it all with a folding table and chairs and a magic box cooler. He kept us fully hydrated with water. In addition to sundowners, we always had 2 bottles of wine with dinner.
Thanks for everything. You know I enjoy working with you.
Greg Zell, Aug 2016
Flying Safari to Private Game Reserves near Kruger
This is a thank you to Szilvia and all at The Africa Adventure Company for arranging our recent trip to South Africa. Your anticipation of our needs and attention to detail were remarkable. I am a frugal traveler. Inexpensive B&Bs and picnic meals are my style. Frankly, I was concerned about spending so much for luxury accommodation, but I feel that I received full value for my money. I am now anxious to return to Africa and I will recommend AAC to my friends.
We visited Phinda Forest Lodge, Ngala Tented Camp, and Exeter River Lodge. The food and service at all three camps were outstanding. At Phinda young guides, Dylan and Fred enthusiastically shared the experience with us. All the staff at Phinda made me feel like a welcome friend. At Ngala, the staff was just as warm and welcoming. Experienced guide, Sean, treated me like a valued client…
Again, thank you all for a wonderful trip.
Randall Allen, July 2016
South Africa’s Luxury Safari to Singita Ebony and Lebombo Lodges
Our trip was amazing!! Of course, Michelle planned and arranged it all (with your help) and we just went along for the ride. And what a ride it was!!! We had no idea what to expect and everything was so excellent from the places we stayed to the people who work there to the animals we saw on the very special game drives.
Our guides Mark and Brian were absolutely the best. Able to find animals when others couldn’t. And they put so much energy into finding the animals, getting into the best position to view them and telling us all about them. Brian had so many interesting things to say, we even got some recording of him!
And the trackers, Emmanuel and Charles, were amazing. One time we were watching some birds in the water and suddenly Charles was jumping into the front seat saying “Leopard!” And lo and behold a leopard came strolling out of the bush right towards us, walked past our rover and sauntered on down along the river. Brian then followed it and we had a fun off-road adventure. I asked Charles how he’d spotted it and he said he saw the white tip of the tail moving in the bushes. That was just one highlight of many!
With Mark, we had a great view of Wild Dogs coming in with food for their pups and regurgitating as they pups went dashing around, squealing and eating. Then there were the 4 male lions that Mark managed to spot just as they met up in a clearing above the river. That was one of the best.
Speaking of birds, we were extremely delighted with Mark and Brian’s knowledge of the birds and really appreciated their interest in birding as well as animal spotting. The birds of South Africa are exciting for us North Americans. So many are so beautiful. We even managed to spot an ostrich at the end of one drive with Brian and it obligingly walked along not too far from the road so we could see it for quite a while.
Now that we are back home, we’d just love to do this again! Don’t know if we’ll be able to. But there is something about the African bushveld and savannah that tugs at your heart…
Thank you for whatever help you provided to Michelle. I think I can’t thank our daughter enough for the amazing trip she gave us. She’s an amazing young woman and always doing something nice for others.
Carolyn and Jay Burr, July 2016
Zimbabwe Flying Safari to Mana Pools and Hwange
Good Morning Szilvia. It’s 230 in the AM and I am ready to go!! I have been told that once you go to Africa, you can never get it out of your system. I’m a believer. Words cannot describe the astonishing beauty and diversity of the land, the intensity of the experiences it offers, and the vibrancy of life which can disappear in an instant by the will of a powerful lion or other predator. Maybe this has to with experiencing a land that has stopped in time. The bush, forests, grasslands, and mighty Zambezi River are how they were thousands and thousands of years ago. It’s the magical sunsets with the hues of violet/lilac color that we never see in the Northern hemisphere. The animal in their natural environment. The magic of the people who live and love Zimbabwe who always willing to greet you with the warmest smiles……..
Thank you Szilvia for putting together an amazing trip and experience. I am so thankful that we ended up in Zimbabwe. It feels good knowing that we have helped the Zimbabweans by visiting them.
Jesse Casey, July 2016
Safari to Mashatu Private Game Reserve and Namibia Group Safari
- I loved my tent. Loved hearing elephants at night and hyena in the early am. I felt at home.
- Jakes was a great guide. Loved how he got us off the road and into the action. So knowledgeable and shared his knowledge which enhanced our game drives.
- Food was great
- Cheetah mother with her 4 nearly grown daughters!
- Coalition of 3 cheetah males. Watching them move on and settle in one evening. On another am game drive we watched them actually go hunting as jackals followed.
- Pm game drive with just the 2 of us. Jakes took me up very close to elephants. We stopped when we found a herd just doing what elephants do. We sat for quite a while and watched the herd eating and just being a family. Some looked at us cautiously but the Matriarch seemed to be ok with us just sitting there in a quiet vehicle. The Matriarch ended up walking by and came within 4-5 feet of our vehicle! Jakes thought I might have been afraid but I was in HEAVEN!
- Staff was welcoming and helpful
- Warthogs in camp walking around with the rest of us
- Dinner table in the boma with the lighted waterhole on top of the hill
- Having a Hide in camp
- Time spent at the “Hide” and tips from the photographer, Ruth. Even if you’re not into being a great photographer, watching the array of animals come to the hide and seeing them so up close was amazing.
- A moving herd of giraffes that numbered at least 60! What a panorama from multiple directions and giraffes walking, running, standing.
- Leopard with the kill in the tree
- Tracking the female leopard as evening set in (driving with lights on in dense wood and brush and ducking branches! Everyone loved the adventure!) and actually found her hunting!
- Stopping for a sundowner long after the sun went down and enjoyed the African night sky. My phone app Starwak actually worked and we enjoyed picking out the stars and constellations….not to mention the sounds of Africa!
- Would have like a few more days here or another place that had such great game viewing. This is the Africa that draws me back year after year.
- No real view of lions.
- First want to say that I think this was a GREAT overview of Namibia!! I enjoyed it thoroughly!
- I loved how different all the locations were as well as the camps. Food was good.
- The balloon ride was spectacular!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!…as well as the champagne brunch that followed!!! If that was a gift from AAC, I want to thank you profusely for this experience.
- The boat ride on Walvis Bay was incredible. Much better than I would have imagined. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
- Twfelfontein and the Himba visit were 2 of my “bucket list” items!
- Anderson’s Camp was great for viewing animals at the water hole. A black rhino came early evening and 12-15 lions came later that night. Sadly I was asleep when the lions came.
- Loved Tree Top Camp and being able to watch the animals coming to the hide all night long.
- Africat was another GREAT addition to this trip. Not nuts about Okonjima Plains Camp but LOVED Okonjima Bush Camp. A highlight here was the pm drive looking to track a female cheetah but picked up the signal of a hyena and tracked up the mountain to actually find him. Then it was getting late and we all knew finding a cheetah to track was probably too late. What we found instead was incredibly better: 2 male cheetahs had just killed an oryx and were eating while 4 jackals hovered. We got as close as 18-20 feet from them on foot!!! And then stepped back to the vehicle (now we’re 25 feet from them!) and had our sundowners watching this play out. WOW!!!
- So glad we added Wilderness Sasfaris’ Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp. It is definitely remote and so very different. The food was outrageous! Highlights here: drive to the Skeleton Coast (4 hour drive), walks to see the flamingos, seal colonies, seeing a young brown hyena up very close. A drive down a tall and very steep sand dune! He shut the engine off after we started the decent and had the windows open to hear the sand “roar.” Desert elephants!! Found a female desert lion and watched her make 2 hunting attempts. Sundowners were great.
Thank you again for everything!
Irene Cavatore, July 2016
Zimbabwe Adventure to Victoria Falls, Upper Zambezi, Hwange and Matobo Hills
Zimbabwe proved to be an ideal place for a photo safari. We were most impressed with the people–happy, friendly and helpful. We quickly learned to shake hands with everyone, even with a thumb twist, and to introduce ourselves. We were also impressed how people in the bush could wear white and be sparkling clean and how the women loved their coiffed hairdos. It was nice to be in a place ready for tourists but not over-run by them. We often had areas to ourselves and felt much more like we were enjoying undisturbed nature than places where you see as many people as animals.
Your arrangements were thoughtful and thorough. We were met and transferred and felt very welcome and taken care of. One feels very safe in the country and found we didn’t need to worry about leaving our possessions in a vehicle or room. Although we knew it was winter in July, we were trying to pack light and not quite ready for cold floors and a face/neck scarf for early morning safaris. The lined ponchos were certainly more than welcome! Each of the lodges was a unique experience which we enjoyed. Paul Hubbard was of course a fabulous guide especially in the caves, but all our guides were most capable.
We were glad we planned to drive between lodges as distances weren’t all that great and we did a little shopping on the way and enjoyed the landscape. The suggestion to put tips in marked envelopes certainly helped make it easier to manage.
We have already passed your company site on to two others and recommended it highly. Thanks for helping us have such a memorable trip.
Coyla Grumm, July 2016
Iconic Safari to MalaMala Game Reserve, Cape Town, Victoria Falls and Savute
Just wanted to give you and overview & feedback on our trip to Southern Africa. We had a fabulous, memorable adventure!
Cape Town – LOVED Cape Town !! Cape Grace was a lovely hotel. We had a lovely room on the harbor. Loved the bottle of wine and high tea vouchers that were included. We lucked out with a stunning first day, which we spent exploring the Cape with our guide. That worked out super well. Following two days the fog and light rain moved in. We enjoyed hopping the city bus close to our hotel. Visited Bo Kaap and the Salve Lodge Museum, both of which were very interesting.
MalaMala – We had an epic first safari experience here, seeing the BIG 5, lions mating, leopard mama and cub with a fresh kill in the tree, pride of lions eating a buffalo, elephants, rhinos (complete with nursing juvenile), etc. It was really fantastic. Food was great and accommodations lovely. Murray was our guide as requested and he was great!
Victoria Falls – Esther was our guide for the falls and she was excellent. We loved seeing the falls. It was fine viewing as the water and spray was a good level. Very knowledgeable and personable. When we arrived at the hotel, we were processed as VIPs which was very nice. Excellent staff here.
Savute – We had a great time at Savute and saw some amazing sights…African Wild dogs, Baobob trees, leopards, etc. It was fun to meet up with Bill, Kathy and family…
Thanks for all your assistance in arranging a trip of a lifetime. We hope to go back!
Mary Jeanne Hecht, July 2016
Visit to Cape Town and Madikwe Game Reserve
Sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. Our trip was absolutely fantastic. We were able to do and see everything that we wanted in Cape Town. The Welgelegen was a great place to stay and everyone was very accommodating and had great dinner recommendations.
Our safari in Madikwe was awesome. We got to see the big 5 as well as lots of other plains game. I think the only animals we didn’t get to see were the wild dogs and cheetahs. The staff at Madikwe Safari Lodge was very helpful. Thank you so much for planning such a wonderful vacation. I have definitely caught the safari bug and can’t wait to get back. I hope to go back in about 5 years when our son turns 7 so that he can also enjoy the safaris. I will definitely be contacting you to help plan that trip.
Matt Hoerr, July 2016
Safari to Zimbabwe, Visit to Cape Town and Beaches of Mauritius
Dear Alison, Monica, Bill and Africa Adventure Team,
A huge thank you to all for the work you did putting together our trip this summer. What an adventure! The camps and hotels where we stayed were fantastic (Little Makalolo was a huge treat), the people were absolutely splendid, and I can honestly say the trip went of without a single hitch or hiccup. It was amazing. You are amazing! I will write a proper review and upload photos when I have more time next week.
I left several pieces of my heart in Zimbabwe’s Hwange and Matobo Hills. I miss it already.
Camille Ibsen, July 2016
Adventure to Zimbabwe’s Hwange and Mana Pools and South Africa’s Private Game Reserves
I wanted to give you our assessment of this last safari.
Davison’s Camp ~
We arrived at the air strip in Hwange and were met by our guide, Themba. He remembered meeting us 3 years before when Dickson Dube was our guide. Incredible memory! After a few hours with Themba, we told him to tell Dickson we did not miss him at all! Themba was a great guide who absolutely loved his job. His personality was terrific and his drive to find good game viewing for us was never ending. On the first game drive, the vehicle was not working well for our camera gear, so he changed vehicles to make it better. The camp itself was one of the best we have seen. I don’t mean it was the fanciest. I mean the accommodations were comfortable and the staff was fantastic. The game viewing was very good and often quite close to camp. With the waterhole out back, we always had animals close by. In fact, walking back to our tent from dinner one night, our guide realized that there was a lion pride behind our tent!
Themba and his wife, Bee, manage the camp. Bee is a most gracious and efficient hostess. She obviously knew how to motivate her staff and how to keep them happy and working as a team. Bee made us feel very much at home and always anticipated our needs. The food was excellent and the dining arrangements were very well done. Mark and I had a private table every night, as did all the other groups of guests, so we could talk about our day without feeling the need to make conversation with others. There was always plenty of time for interaction with others at the ‘fire pit’ before dinner or after dinner. Bee even made sure Mark had a birthday celebration even though we were heading out that morning to Mana Pools. At brunch he was presented with a bottle of sparkling wine and the staff generously put on a dancing exhibition in celebration of his special day. We clapped, we laughed, we enjoyed! We would highly recommend this camp.
Our flight to Mana Pools was excellent. Giles, our pilot, also let Mark sit up front. They had a wonderful time talking ‘flying’ while I stared out the window at the scenery! We were met by our Vundu guide, Gaddy, at the airstrip. He gave us a game drive on the way to camp and we stopped for tea along the way. At camp, we met the famous Nick Murray. He was very down to earth. We were the only guests in camp, so we were well taken care of. The tent was spacious (that is an understatement), the outdoor showers terrific, and the view across the Zambezi was stunning. Our walks were unbelievable! Gaddy and Nick went with us to find the dog puppies. When we found the den, it was amazing to sit on the ground and watch them, then watch the adults return. Of course, they quickly spotted us. But we always felt safe.
Mana Pools was a little crowded while we were there, but we were not so affected by that because we hiked back in the bush so much. We were able to spend another day at the den with the 11 puppies and we spent one morning at another den where the young puppies did not come out. We met several elephants up close and personal, including the famous ‘Fred Astaire’ and walked near a pride of lions. One day Mark went on a canoe trip with Nick. I chose to go on a walk with Gaddy. We both had great experiences and ended up in the same spot where the terrific staff had prepared a bush dinner for us. What a lovely surprise. Nick is so knowledgeable about the animals and his sense of humor is great. Gaddy is just one of the nicest people you ever want to meet, not as outgoing as Nick, but I think as knowledgeable. They have great respect for one another and that shows. Needless to say, this camp gave us some new experiences!
After 5 nights, we flew to Harare, where we bid a fond farewell to Nick, who had traveled there with us. We were rushed a little at the airport, but fortunately made it to the plane on time. We arrived back in Johannesburg with plenty of time to recoup a little after 9 nights in two spectacular camps.
The next afternoon, we headed to MalaMala. Everything went well with the flight. We arrived at Skukuza and were promptly met by a guide from MalaMala. He took us directly to Rattray’s where we were introduced to Joe, a very personable young man who was to be our guide. He gave us the grand tour of the facilities. We were somewhat overwhelmed by the accommodations. Immediately, we thought this was over the top, far too fancy for our tastes. ‘Maybe’ 24 hours later, we had changed our minds! We loved the space, the little extras, and the beautiful outdoor area where we could watch wildlife while relaxing in the middle of the day. Our game drives were excellent with a lot of animals not far away. Joe was very much into photography, so we hit it off great with him. Until the last two game drives, we had him and the terrific photographic vehicle to ourselves. Joe had great ideas about starting early and climbing a kopje to start our day with our morning coffee. We appreciated Joe’s enthusiasm and knowledge. The staff took excellent care of us, even giving us our dinner in our khaya one evening. Trevor, who worked the bar, did a superb job, as did the kitchen staff. By the way, we discovered that Trevor was exactly one day older than Mark! Small world! The managers, Alex and Nessrine (?) returned a day after we arrived. They were warm and hospitable. We so enjoyed this area and the accommodations, we hated to leave!
We ended up doing the photography guide for an additional day more than what we had already booked. We did that because the photographic vehicle was so much better, space wise and storage wise. We could put our camera gear into the storage compartments without worrying about their being damaged. Kyle was our photographic guide and Isaac was our guide/spotter/driver. Both were very personable and knowledgeable. Kyle was outgoing, Isaac quieter. Isaac was probably the most careful driver we have ever had on any of our safaris. With those miserably bumpy roads, his care was really appreciated.
We had the hides for 2 sessions. You take your chances with hides like everything else. Both hides were very well set up. We loved the viewing perspective. Kyle offered advice during our sessions and even did a short mini session before tea one day. At the first hide, we were fairly lucky, at the second one, it was so quiet! That happened to be my birthday, so after we got out of the hide (it was dark by then), Daniel showed up with the vehicle and champagne to toast my birthday. Daniel called and arranged a private dinner on our deck, complete with a birthday cake and happy birthday sung to me by three very sweet ladies. That was very special.
You asked, Lynn! I hope you don’t mind that I got a bit detailed. I do hope this helps for future trips for us and for future guests. I appreciate all that you do and all that the various people at the camps do. Some just do it better than others.
Please feel free to ask any follow up questions if necessary.
Darlene and Mark Knott, July 2016
Private Mobile Camping in Botswana
Hello Kyle and all of staff at your office.
Where to begin??? We feel so fortunate to have experienced a second “trip of a lifetime” arranged by you!!! It was a remarkable trip, and all went very smoothly as it did in 2014. Local ground operators were excellent. We had amazing drivers in Johannesburg for the short time we were there who went above and beyond teaching us history and pointing out sights. At each point, we were met with very welcoming individuals.
The Botswana mobile tented camping was beyond amazing! We had no idea that we would be the only guests at the two campsites. Our guide Brian Gibson was phenomenal!! His expertise and enthusiasm were so exceptional. His wife Hildrene kindly greeted us at the Maun airport. I am struggling to find words to describe how wonderful our time with Brian was. The campsites were great, comfy beds, food, wildlife viewing, staff, all so excellent and awe inspiring! A lioness swimming, wild dog puppies, countless birds, geology and astronomy lessons, so many highlights! We just cannot say enough about Brian and the whole experience there in Moremi and Khwai.
Savute Safari Lodge was an interesting contrast in geology and landscape, and of course felt luxurious after the luxury camping. Accommodations were great and the staff and food were excellent.
We had an incredible trip, and are so appreciative of the assistance you provided. So many details to be worked out!!
Thank you very much!!
Kathy and Bill Morin, July 2016
Botswana’ Okavango Delta, Periphery of the Moremi Reserve and the Linyanti Reserve
We had a fantastic time on our safari. The whole trip was outstanding and everything went very smoothly.
All three of our camps (Chitabe Lediba, Duma Tau and Elephant Camp) were excellent, and I would recommend them to anyone. The accommodations were elegant, the staff were friendly and knowledgeable, and the food was very good.
Our experience at Chitabe Lediba was particularly outstanding. The wildlife there was amazing, and our guides were exceptional at spotting it. Highlights were watching 10 lion cubs playing while their mothers were off hunting, seeing leopard cubs with their mother, and being the first to see wild dog pups come out of their den.
We will definitely recommend your company to any of our friends who are considering a safari.
Kathy Mountcastle and Mark Koster, July 2016
Southern Africa Exploration to MalaMala, Mana Pools and South Luangwa
Another fabulous trip- so much splendor and beauty to store in my mind’s eye. Guide Nick Murray (Mana Pools) is good and the anti poaching is actually going really, really well and building. Really love his new right hand man, Alex and his darling wife, Marie who does the admin.
Mashatu was wonderful but extremely cold in unheated tents- not going again in early July. Would highly recommend it however. Really loved Rattray’s and our guide Jacques. Saw the big five and their babies two days in a row there. Mana Pools was gorgeous and Little Vundu looks awesome. We got to do one night of mobile too. We shared a jeep the last two days and ended up cultivating new donors to anti poaching effort! Tafika was beautiful – Carol and John are such noble people and we got to meet Christine and beau, Bruce. Bryan was so fantastic guiding. Learned a lot and enjoyed the other guests throughout.
All in all it was another spectacular experience. Where/ when to return!!
Mara Perkins, July 2016
“Big Five” safari to Safari to Mashatu Game Reserve and MalaMala Game Reserve
We had a fantastic trip, so I have very few suggestions for improvement for the next time. Everything came off as planned in terms of the logistics, meaning that we were never left standing at the curb waiting for someone to meet us. The safari lodges and game viewing met or exceeded our expectations. The upgrade at MalaMala to Rattray’s was very nice, and we all enjoyed the luxury accommodations there. We enjoyed our afternoon guided tour of Johannesburg before setting off for the “meat” of the trip.
We felt that our guides at Mashatu and at Mala Mala were really excellent, very knowledgeable, skilled at finding interesting wildlife for us to view. I would have no hesitation in recommending your services to others, and, in fact, will do so with my younger sister who seems interested in taking a trip to southern Africa at some point in the next few years.
Jim Ramenofsky, July 2016
“Call of the Wild” safari to Zimbabwe
Thanks so much for arranging an awesome trip. The trip was full of highlights, but the foremost was the time we spent in Vundu Camp with Nick Murray. What a remarkable man! His knowledge, dedication, and perseverance are amazing. His wild dog research and anti-poaching efforts are truly commendable and sorely needed. Combine all that with a winning personality and its a recipe for an outstanding experience. We only spent a few days with him but ended up feeling like we had known him for years. The camp and all its staff were first rate. The unforgettable experience of seeing two packs of wild dogs, getting up close and personal with bull elephants, and being able to soak in some of Nick’s vast knowledge will stay with us for a long time. We highly recommend this Bushlife Conservancy trip to anyone wanting a real African bush experience while supporting an excellent cause.
Camp Hwange was also great. We were privileged to see our third pack of wild dogs this trip on the drive from the air strip to the camp and had excellent sightings and walking experiences with Julian while there. Unfortunately we did not get a chance to see Dave but maybe next time! Many thanks again for organizing this adventure!
All the best,
John & Kathy Wingard, July 2016