CLIENTS TRIP REPORTS SOUTHERN AFRICA – JUL-SEP 2019
Iconic Visions Safari to Southern Africa
Hannah and I had a fabulous trip. I’m not one to throw out the word ”fabulous” or give 10 out of 10 stars too readily but I think that was the case for this trip. Of course, we spent several times our normal budget for a trip of this length but we were totally pleased with what we received. We started with AAC as it was one of the companies which could facilitate our wishes to do a semi-custom, private trip through southern Africa. We realize the stops on our itinerary we not all that unique but still making choices on where to go, how long to stay, and then where to stay really appealed to us. With your assistance we came up with this great trip and we were totally pleased with the outcome. All the places we stayed were outstanding (including Savanna Lodge, Ngoma Safari Lodge, Qorokwe Camp and the One&Only Cape Town), both the property itself and almost more importantly the staff. I think most if not all of our transfers and guided tours were done by Wilderness Safaris and they were flawless. Never missed a beat and had some incredibly friendly and helpful staff.
Will probably revisit Africa in some or fashion in a couple of years and would not hesitate to use AAC again. We’ll talk to you in a few years.
Jay Johnson, Aug 2019
Botswana Wilderness Wing Safari with Specialist Guide ‘Brooks Kamanakao’
We had the most wonderful time…where to begin?
First, probably the best part of our trip was our guide, Brooks. His skill is incredible. On our first morning out I thought, “maybe this guy is just making this up,” as he looked in the Kalahari sand, identified leopard prints and said we were going to try and find her. Twenty minutes later, there she was! Brooks did this over and over again, so that by day two we had the utmost confidence that if we were looking for something, Brooks would find it. What I loved the most about Brooks was his childlike enthusiasm combined with his in depth knowledge and expertise. Although he has seen these animals many times, he was still clearly having fun and seemed to truly enjoy sharing Botswana with his visitors. In addition to his skill on the safari drives, he was overall just a great host. We enjoyed having meals with him, listening to his stories as well as his lessons in Botswana and African history. He truly made our trip the fabulous adventure that it was.
Second, the accommodations were wonderful. Duma Tau’s staff made us feel welcome and at home from the very start. Sean and Megan were great. We loved how everyone stops to introduce themselves and learned our names. They gave us a surprise gift for our birthday/anniversary this trip was celebrating, we loved the surprise dinner out on the boat and the Monday night singing and dancing by the staff. The food was wonderful, the room was beautiful, we were sad to go.
Our second camp, Chitabe, was fabulous, too! Again, a beautiful room, friendly staff, and a surprise picnic lunch one day. We were there the first two evenings with a large group from Australia. The staff gave us our own dining room, which was a great idea, given the boisterousness of the Australian group…
To backtrack a bit, our trip to Victoria Falls was great, too. Precious, our guide, was delightful. We then did the village visit with Harrison who took us to meet a family on their farmstead. This was a highlight of the entire trip to Africa. The challenges the Zimbabwean people face were overwhelming to us. The children walk to get water three times a day, they have no money but must pay tuition to send a child to school, and at this time of year (the dry season) they only eat one meal a day. The farmer didn’t tell us these things as if they were a problem, more that they were a fact of life. Their homes were beautiful, built by hand, and they were lovely to host us. We would like to learn more about how to help this farming village and their school, if AAC has that information.
Cape Town was also a great part of the trip. Having that at the end was really nice; it allowed us to rest a bit before the long trip home. Clive was a great guide and we enjoyed having him take us around.
In summary, we loved everything about our trip. Thank you for helping us plan this wonderful adventure.
Joyce and Rick Malamut, Aug 2019
Family Adventure to Botswana, Namibia and Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
Hi Elena and Team, here is some feedback from our amazing trip.
Botswana – Travel and transfers all went smoothly…Our time at Vumbura Plains was fabulous. First off, Chris was a wonderful, wonderful guide for our family. He was knowledgeable, super kind and friendly, and we felt very lucky to have him leading us. The accommodations were very comfortable. No complaints from anyone. Food was amazing…We saw lots of lions and especially lots of leopards, which was super cool. And of course many other wonderful animals – elephants, sable antelope, baboons, buffalo, hippo, etc…Jason and Marc, whose first trip it was, were blown away. (Jason described the Botswana safari part as life-changing.)
Namibia – Transfer to Hoanib Skeleton Camp went fine. Scenery on flights and drives was totally amazing and other-worldly. Our guide in camp was Michael who was great too. Very, very knowledgeable and we felt lucky to have him. We were expecting to be blown away by the scenery and we were. We were happy to see some animals as well, and to understand the landscape. We did see some desert lions, plenty of elephants, giraffes, ostrich, various antelope. Michael also did a great job explaining the desert adaptations of animals and plants and birds. The camp itself was of course super comfortable, food amazing…
Rwanda – …Driver/guide was Moses who was also amazing. We again felt very lucky to have him throughout…Drive out to Musanze and Volcanoes National Park was spectacular. Rwanda is so different than Namibia and so different than Botswana, of course. So it was just super cool. The Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge was very comfortable and we liked that a lot. As usual, food was amazing and service was spectacular. We enjoyed the gorilla treks…the gorillas were amazing and it was quite an experience. We left thinking that checking out more of Rwanda would be very interesting…
…Overall it was an amazing trip. Each country was so different and so interesting. Now we are interested in returning again to Africa and exploring Kenya, Tanzania and the east more. But also we haven’t been to Cape Town so we have to fit that in. Some day! Anyway, it was amazing and very well organized on your part of course.
I think the amazing guides in each location – Chris, Michael, and Moses – absolutely made the trip. Comfortable rooms, great food and great environments are essential of course. But the great guides brought the trip to the beyond-special level.
Thank you and the team for everything!
Lucy Oblonsky, Aug 2019
Botswana Wing Safari to the Linyanti Reserve and Okavango Delta
Dear Szilvia and Friends,
Kathleen and I had a wonderful trip to Botswana in every way. All of our transportation connections went on-time and smoothly, we stayed healthy, and all three camps were very enjoyable. We noticed changes since our previous trips to Botswana—the camps have electricity 24/7 now and limited wi-fi. All of our camp guides were outstanding—skilled drivers and trackers, knowledgeable about all of the wildlife and birds, and had good language skills…
DumaTau Camp, our first camp, was the camp with the most water, of course, being located on the waterway and adjacent to larger wetlands. We saw the greatest numbers of elephants here (as we expected) and the complimentary helicopter flight was really a thrill—cruising at high speed right over the wetland grasses, lines of elephants, and crocs! The hippo serenades at night were a joy to hear once again.
Abu Camp was wonderful for providing the up-close elephant “experiences” we wanted to build in to our itinerary. It was really special being able to get up-close to the eight elephants in the Abu Family—ranging in age from 5 to 59 years. We were able to walk with them, touch them, and feed them handfuls of grain pellets. The Abu Camp location itself was the driest of our three camps—there was absolutely no water in front of the lodge, and dry dust storms were a part of each day. The game drives, elephant experiences, and personalized services still made the Camp an enjoyable experience. One day we returned from our morning game drive and found two wild elephants (a mother and baby) drinking water from the plunge pool on our front deck!
Duba Explorers Camp, our third camp, was also surprisingly dry. There was very little water in front of the Lodge, but fortunately one small pool right in front of our tent had a resident hippo that would come up and graze each day. The game drives, birding, and small lodge experience made for an enjoyable time…
Once again, thank you for another wonderful trip. You all do a great job!
All the best,
Gary Smith and Kathleen Kemper, Aug 2019
Privately Guided Family Safari to Southern Africa
This was another amazing safari experience. Despite our concerns about our grandkids (ages 6, 9 and 11) and long flights and long safari days it all worked out virtually without problems or meltdowns. Camp staff at Khwai and Somalisa Acacia were not only great with us but were fantastic with the kids. They genuinely seemed to like and enjoy the kids and the kids definitely enjoyed and responded positively to them. Several camp staff, whose names we can remember, deserve special mention (spelling ?) Dorphus and Egania at Somalisa and Mighty and Nico at Khwai. Mighty was our driver guide at Khwai and was exceptional at both functions. The grandkids and all of us kept missing him and kept talking about him when we moved on to Somalisa.
Precious at Victoria Falls was also great with the kids. She was at least as good as her Aunt Esther who we found as excellent over the years. Precious provided a bit more interesting information about the falls and falls history than we had heard before. A very positive experience.
I don’t have to tell you about specialist guide Nic Polenakis. There is nobody like Nic. Even if you are not doing anything special it is special to be with Nic!
We expected good food from our past safari experience but found it even better at both locations than in the past. At Somalisa Acacia we had 3 choices of entrée for most dinners and had some of the best stir fry I have ever eaten. They also whipped up some ice cream with caramel sauce on request! Both camps also went out of their way to accommodate our grandkids food allergies to eggs and nuts. We appreciate the extra effort that was required to do that! Jennifer celebrated her birthday at Khwai and was treated with a special birthday cake which could be eaten by everyone. The singing performances at both camps was also special and much appreciated.
As usual the animals lived up to their billing!…
We truly appreciate everything you and AAC does to make this all possible. As you know, you are exceptional at what you do!
Dave Wahlquist, Aug 2019
Luxury Flying Safari to Namibia and South Africa
Here is a review of our recent safari.
Wolwedans Dune Lodge – Our private mountain suite was fantastic, a huge tent consisting of a living room, kitchen, dining room and bedroom. Our chef Illy and butler Hendricks were fantastic. Illy would make the most wonderful meals and Hendricks would take care of our every need. Our guide Oscar was very good. We slept outside one night in the star bed, very cold but Hendricks made sure we had plenty of comforters to bundle up with. We had the most interesting walk with local Bushmen and were shown the many wonders of the desert… Hoanib Skeleton Coast – The lodge was great as was our guide Joas. We had no expectations of seeing much wildlife but we were pleasantly surprised as we saw desert adapted lions, elephants, giraffes, zebra and many (20 in one spot) ostriches. Our drive to the Skeleton Coast was very interesting at one point driving up on a huge sand dune towering above the desert. The seals at the coast were amazing and then we stopped for lunch on the beach, what a treat. One afternoon Joas took us for a long hike through a mountain pass and then down a dry river bed and then circling around back to camp. We would definitely recommend Hoanib.
Tanda Tula – More of a traditional camp with an upscale touch. Chad was our guide and he was great. Loads of animals including a pride of 16 lions. Breakfast in bush every morning was a nice touch. One morning we walked back to camp from the breakfast a great way to walk off the food. The meals were very good and one evening they set up a romantic private dinner on our veranda. This was a wonderful camp and we really enjoyed our stay there.
Singita Lebombo – We have had the most phenomenal safari experience here at Singita Lebombo. We really lucked out by having a private vehicle and Chantelle as our guide with Glass as our tracker. We saw 21 lions from 4 different prides, including a rare white lion. Chantelle took us for a lovely hike one afternoon following a riverbed. Our room was spectacular with a star bed outside which we slept in one evening. Everyone at the lodge went out of their way to make our experience an unforgettable one. On our last evening we were presented with a private dinner up on the terrace above the wine cellar, how romantic.
Singita Boulders – Our room or should I say villa was huge including a large heated pool which we used daily. The level of service was on the same lines as Lebombo. Nick was our guide and Kevin our tracker in a shared vehicle. The wildlife was fantastic with many rhinos and a special sighting of wild dog puppies at their den. The puppies were only 5 weeks old and we were told that this was only the second sighting of them.
Tswalu Motse Lodge – This was our third trip to Tswalu and we still love the Kalahari. We had Nelson as our guide (2nd time) and Ben as our tracker (3rd time), Ben postponed his leave so he could be our tracker for the week. The sightings were great including eight rhinos at one sighting. The one thing about being at Tswalu is when we ask to see an animal Nelson and Ben never disappoint, we always see what we ask for….
All in all we had the most fantastic trip ever!!!!!
Barbara & Jay Berkowitz, July 2019
South African Big 5 Safari and Cape Highlights
Dear Mark and Team,
First of all, thank you for your help in planning this adventure. All five of us agreed that, not only was this the best trip (and maybe experience) we have ever had, it is hard to imagine how we would outdo this trip in the future. The game viewing was spectacular – there wasn’t a single drive where we didn’t see something memorable…
The game viewing at MalaMala was everything we expected after speaking with you and Arnie. Many leopards, the Kambula Pride, several elephant breeding herds, amazing birds, etc. About the only things we did not see were a live kill (we saw 2 leopards dining on their kills and we watched an unsuccessful leopard hunt), sable antelope and hunting dogs, but we knew they would be rare and would require a lot of luck. Each day we set game driving “goals”, and each day we had to set new ones as we kept ticking them off on each drive.
All of the transfers were seamless as well. All drivers and airport hosts were punctual and friendly, and the intra-Africa travel was a breeze.
The Eisenbergs, July 2019
Luxury Safari to South Africa including Private Game Reserve, Blue Train and Cape Town
Dear Mark and The Africa Adventure Company,
…The MalaMala Game Reserve was absolutely fantastic. Our guide, Marko, I assumed was “hand picked” by Mark Nolting, as he clearly was the best guide at the reserve… I could go on as to why, and am pleased to if you would like further explanation. Let me say, he is a true professional guide, tracker, etc..”he could find a needle in a haystack”. We saw the Big Five… and so much more. Eight leopards with babies, ostrich, rhinos, etc.
Staff at MalaMala was fantastic too…Bruce/Amy and everyone there…Food was delicious, service fantastic, rooms gorgeous… Just a great experience!
The guides, and all the transfer people at airports, professional, on time, and all made extra efforts in our behalf. Guide in Cape Town, was fabulous… could not have been better.
Hotel at Cape Town… Cape Grace, fantastic choice…we could walk to shops/restaurants, etc.. Elegant, gorgeous rooms/views, etc… lovely bar, and food.
Blue train was an elegant experience.
Michael Angelo Hotel, perfect in a great location in Johannesburg…
Truly a great trip and I would most certainly recommend you!
Thank you for making this holiday a dream come true!
Linda Olsson, July 2019
Iconic Safari to Southern Africa
Our trip was absolutely fabulous! It was creatively planned with much thought and insight, and flawlessly executed.
We never had to worry about any of the details, because they had already anticipated and provided for. Each one of the contact people along the way proved to be absolutely essential. They added an extra level of stress-free comfort and security throughout the entire trip.
MalaMala Sable Camp was probably our favorite, because it immersed us into the feeling of being in an entirely different world immediately On our very first afternoon, we witnessed a pride of lions hunting, killing and devouring an impala at extremely close range. We were there!
The accommodations, the staff, and the open air dinners in the boma all complemented the feeling of being in the midst of something very special and unique.
We loved the Victoria Falls Hotel and the historic, colonial of feel of the property. We enjoyed each of our planned activities very much. Precious, our guide, was wonderful.
Little Vumbura was yet another distinct and thoroughly enjoyable adventure. We felt a part of the peaceful setting with its rustic charm and warm, hospitable staff. We were fully immersed.
Cape Town provided a perfect ending. The Cape Grace Hotel is wonderful in every respect. We were able to pause and reflect, and still enjoy two delightful days with Rob (as delightful as advertised) and explore the Waterfront at leisure.
I really can’t think of anything you could have done better. Carolyn and I had high expectations for the trip, and they were easily exceeded at every step of the way. The flow, the pace and the variety blended beautifully. We could not have been more pleased!
Thanks so much for everything, Elena. It was perfect!
David and Carolyn Patterson, July 2019
Botswana Wilderness Wing Safari with Specialist Guide ‘Brooks Kamanakao’
To Elena and the Africa Adventure Team,
After interviewing several travel planners, we are so pleased that we chose to work with Africa Adventures. There are insufficient superlatives to describe the trip of a lifetime. From the beginning, Elena was a superb partner for us. She listened to our preferences and needs, offered valuable information and made excellent arrangements. Elena and the Africa Adventure team were flawless in your attention to detail, your responsiveness to us as clients and the information you sent as we planned for our trip.
Our son, Paul, chose Botswana as the destination for our safaris because he expected it would be the best opportunity for viewing wildlife. I’m not sure another location could measure up to our experience. It was fabulous!
First of all, the number and diversity of animals we saw exceeded our expectations. Each day brought us close to amazing wildlife.
Second, we were so fortunate to have Brooks as our private guide in both camps He is a truly gifted guide from whom we learned a great deal – about the bush, and about animals and their habits. His ability to track the wildlife and predict the animals’ behavior was most impressive. He also understands photography and was able to position us for great photos and videos. Finally, we loved learning about the southern sky and constellations on a night drive.
Brooks is a valuable asset to your Africa Adventure team. He is an excellent teacher, with an engaging personality. With him as our confident and knowledgeable guide we felt very safe in close proximity to wildlife. Because he has a 7-year old daughter, he was able to understand and relate well to our 7-year old granddaughter. She often chose to be his “sidekick”, sitting in the front with him where she could pepper him with questions. Nanette grew so fond of Brooks that, after saying goodbye to him in Chitabe, she wept when we boarded the plane…
Third, the camps selected were memorable – beautiful, comfortable, attentive staff, with excellent food and amenities. We were pampered with hot water bottles to warm our beds and delicious treats for sundowner breaks. Unexpected delights included lunch floating on a pontoon boat as we watched a herd of elephants cross the river and a surprise lunch in the bush where we watched elephants, lions, impalas and baboons in close proximity to our lunch.
At Victoria Falls, Precious was an informative and patient guide. We appreciated her information, not only on the Falls but also on the greater Victoria Falls and Zimbabwe area. We also enjoyed our visit to Jabulani Primary School and the nearby community…
Favorite moments? There were so many. The safaris were at the top of the list, leaving us with life long memories. We saw every animal we hoped to see, even the elusive cheetah and wild dogs. The hot water bottles and blankets to counter the morning cold were greatly appreciated. Going off road to follow tracks and to find the animals was amazing. (Thank you Brooks!) The only wildlife we missed in Botswana was black rhinos, which we later saw in Zimbabwe, and ostriches, which we saw on the Cape. In addition, getting soaked by the mist at Victoria Falls was pure fun.
Although we saw only a sliver of this massive continent, what we experienced was a perfect introduction. I did not expect to fall in love with Africa, but I did. Thank you for being part of creating this memorable vacation!
Karol and John Straub, July 2019