Client Trip ReportsSouthern Africa

CLIENTS TRIP REPORTS SOUTHERN AFRICA – SEP-OCT 2017 (SOUTHERN AFRICA)

The Best of Southern Africa including Cape Town, Victoria Falls and Private Game Reserve

Rick and I want to thank you and the Africa Adventure Company for coordinating an absolutely wonderful trip to South Africa and Zimbabwe for us.  The tour guides, your selection of hotels and our safari location, the transportation arrangements and every aspect of our communications with you and your organization were at the highest level.  This was a big trip for us, and it exceeded our expectations on all counts!

On the last night of our trip we all tried to come up with the top three highlights of the trip, and it was super difficult because there were so many!  We enjoyed every day we spent with Clive in Cape Town, including Robben Island and seeing the penguins on the Peninsula Tour.  Your choice of Cheetah Plains for our safari was ideal, and we saw so many animals! A mama and playful baby rhinoceros were the favorite, though our guide Ralph managed to give us quite a few memorable sightings!  And Victoria Falls were lovely, as was our hotel there.  It was a great way to end a terrific trip!..

…We thank you again for all the great planning!  The trip exceeded our expectations in every way!

Colleen & Rick Rosenthal, Oct 2017

 

Big Five Safari to South Africa and Zimbabwe

Hi Kyle,

Everything was great.  All of the arrangements, schedules, etc. worked out just as planned…

The King’s Camp was terrific.  The managers (husband and wife, Warren and Lisa) were wonderful and made the stay very welcoming, especially for a solo traveler like me.  Patricia, Patience, Silas and Hgotso were terrific.  The guide, Remember, and the tracker, Elvis, were outstanding.  The food was excellent.

Londolozi was special.  Laura, Christie, Innocent, Honest, Cry were great.  The guide, Guy, and the tracker, Shadrack, were terrific…The food was excellent and the meals in the boma were a treat…

The Residence was, once again, a treat…thanks for recommending it last year.  It was nice to return.

Singita Pamushana was, once again, fantastic.  Mark Friend was my guide again, along with Mavuto as tracker…I was the only person in the vehicle and there were only two other clients in camp.  We got out on foot quite a bit and this was a real treat—lion, leopard, Cape buffalo and elephant along with a hot leopard kill site and a hot lion kill site, while on foot…great stuff. At the lodge Valerie, Jason, Emily and my pal, Sifundo Ncube, were terrific.  It was Sifundo’s birthday while I was there…great fun.

So, another wonderful trip.  Thanks to you and to all the folks at the AAC.

Tom Schenkenberg, Oct 2017

 

The Best of Southern Africa

Dear Monica,

Thank you so much! I had an amazing trip! Africa is so beautiful, breathtaking, and inspiring and is an experience that words cannot describe. I want to thank you so much for creating such an amazing itinerary for me. It met my expectations and then some! It was everything I hoped it would be and more!

Cape Town is absolutely beautiful. The Winelands were gorgeous! We had a wonderful guide, Andrew whom we were very happy with. He was very knowledgeable and very helpful and took very good care of us. Couldn’t have asked for anyone better! I would live in Cape Town, that’s how much I loved it!

I have to say that my favorite part of the trip were the game drives, which was the main reason I wanted to go to Africa and Shumbalala Lodge was most definitely the highlight of this trip and a place I will never forget! From the staff, the food, the ambience, and of course the game drives, this place is first class all the way. Their professionalism and attention to every little detail did not go overlooked. This place is what really made the whole trip for me worthwhile and memorable.  I would highly recommend this lodge to anyone I meet in the future looking to go to South Africa.

I am glad I made the stop to see Victoria Falls as it is truly breathtaking. I can absolutely see why it is one of the seven natural wonders of the world…We went zip lining over the Falls and that was pretty awesome!

We enjoyed Chobe as well and the different safari experience there. We saw lots more animals there, literally thousands! It was cool to see them on the open plains and in the water. However, for me, I think I enjoyed Shumbalala more, as it is a private reserve so there were no other vehicles other than the vehicles from the other lodges and our guide did a lot of off road driving and got us up close and personal with all the animals!…

With all that being said, we loved every minute of this trip and did not want it to end! I was so sad taking our last game drive knowing we had to leave right after. I do not want this to be an only once in a lifetime trip and absolutely hope to go back to Africa again someday in the near future!  I told everyone I want to move there and find work there where I can be with the animals everyday! My next thought is to go to Rwanda and Uganda to go gorilla trekking, as I love monkeys and gorillas…

Thank you again Monica for all your help in putting together the most amazing trip that I will never forget! I look forward to us working together again in the future to plan my next trip!

Bye for now! Best Regards,

Nancy Alegreto, Sep 2017

 

Deluxe Tour to South Africa and Botswana including the Rovos Rail

I want to personally thank you & the entire staff at the Africa Adventure Company for a truly fantastic trip.  The wildlife, accommodations, service, food, and beauty of the countries visited far exceeded any of our expectations.  It was by far, the best vacation trip we have ever experienced, a truly memorable trip of our lifetime!  From the time we landed, the drivers, guides and general staff provided a level of superb customer service.  However, I would be remiss if i did not single out two individuals that were the “best of the best!”  Our safari guide at Rattray’s at MalaMala, Gordon Fordyce was phenomenal, a wealth of knowledge, and possessed an unbelievable ability to spot wildlife.  We saw the Big Five the first day of Safari!   The second amazing guide was Lazarus Mandabva from Wilderness Safaris.  To call him a driver/guide would be to minimize his skills.  We felt we were traveling with a family member or close friend.  Lazarus was a wealth of knowledge, and was tuned in to our interests, making the most of our limited time in the Cape Town area.  His insights into the culture and history of South Africa was inspirational.  I miss him already!…

We will share our adventure stories with our closest friends and relatives & strongly recommend that they utilize the Africa Adventure Company if they choose to visit Africa.

Becky & I plan to return to South Africa in the future and again will look forward to your excellent trip planning & execution.

Warmest Regards,

Dom & Becky Bianco, Sep 2017

 

East and Southern African Adventure to Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Botswana

We had experiences I could have never dreamed about. When our guide Brooks is excited and taking photos you know it is special. With him we saw the rare pangolin, the wild dogs chasing a young giraffe. The dogs separated the mother from baby. The baby did survive.

We saw a 6 month old leopard on the ground, then up a tree and then with a kill (a squirrel or other similar animal).

Brook is the greatest. He took us everywhere by vehicle-we were 400yards from main lodge so he drove us back and forth for meals and all else. We did not ask he just took it upon himself to help us out.

If he is not the best guide there are none better. It was fun to watch him figure out where the action was. He ate with us so we got to know him quite well.

The accommodations at Vumbura Plains were my favorite. I loved being able to watch hippos and elephants from our back lanai, hear them at night and take pictures. The staff was wonderful.

The last night was wonderful. We were all very tired from 3 weeks of long days. We arrived back later after the wild dog chase to find a table set for our diner on our lanai-what a  great ending for an extraordinary safari…

I really have to thank all the staff for making this such an unbelievable safari…

Thanks to all,

Bev Bounds, Sep 2017

 

Ultimate Namibia Group Safari

What an adventure! The ‘Ultimate Namibian Safari’ is an overland trip across Namibia visiting many of its iconic locations. The Namib/Naukluft National Park encompassing a portion of the Namib Desert (thought to be the planets oldest at 43 million years). It is a barren and beautiful place, home to 700 year old dead trees that don’t decay because it is so arid, fog catching Namib Desert Beetles, and Oryx so efficient at absorbing water they concentrate their urine into pellets.

Sossusvlei is a land of sweeping red dunes. Over time iron in the sand oxidizes, like metal rusting, the brighter the color the older the dune. It is also home to some of the tallest sand dunes in the world, the tallest being Big Daddy measuring in at roughly 325 meters.

Walvis Bay was great for exploring the Atlantic coastline by catamaran. We were fortunate to see huge colonies of Cape Fur Seals, pods of Atlantic Bottle Nose Dolphin and the rare endemic Heaviside Dolphin. Great White Pelicans and a few seals joined us on board enabling us to get up close and personal with these charming creatures.

The dramatic desolation of Damaraland with its desert dwelling elephants was a trip highlight for me. They are uniquely adapted to extremely dry sandy environments and are one group of only two known populations in the world (the other being in Mali). It was here we witnessed the brute power of a bull elephant in musth, breaking a large tree branch with its trunk like a toothpick.

Damaraland is also home to Twyfelfontein, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with one of the largest concentrations of rock art anywhere in Africa. Hundreds of San rock paintings and engravings spanning at least 2000 years can be easily seen. The Himba, semi nomadic pastoralists who still hold onto their culture and traditional way of life also call Damaraland home. I had conflicting feelings about the impact our visit and that of other travelers would have on their lifestyle, but I can honestly say that visiting them and witnessing one the last truly traditional peoples of Africa was one of my most memorable experiences.

The San name for Etosha is ‘Lake of a Mothers Tears’. One of Africa’s celebrated wildlife parks showcasing a huge array of species from the most common to the rarest. This prime wilderness area consists of grassland and savannah surrounding the Etosha pan, a vast expanse of white salt laced earth visible from space.

Etosha is one of the best places to see rhinos. The biggest elephants in Africa are found here, as well as the White Ghosts, Etosha’s famed white elephants. Their skin stained white from the clay and calcite dust they regularly bathe in to cool themselves. We were most fortunate to see a standoff between a lone black rhino and a young bull elephant full of bravado. The standoff lasted less than a minute but seeing these two giants face off was mesmerizing. As with any encounter with a truly wild and endangered animal the experience was spellbinding.

Elephants hold a special place in my heart. Their intelligence, devotion to one another, and complex emotional lives captivate me. I am ever thankful for all the opportunities I had on this trip to be close to these majestic creatures and be awed and humbled in their presence.

The lions – wow. I have been to Botswana and Zimbabwe on previous trips to Africa but never saw lions. In Etosha I saw them numerous times. My first sighting consisted of a pride of nine including a young cub. We sat watching a lioness defend her kill from Black-backed Jackals and were close enough to hear her crunch through the bones. Truly incredible!

…Namibia stirs your soul with its endless vistas across stark plains, ancient valleys, rocky red outcrops, sweeping red sand dunes, and abundant wildlife. It is a study of life in the extreme, where water is life’s currency, with one hauntingly beautiful ecosystem after another.

The key to any successful adventure lies with the guide.  Franco was ABSOLUTELY THE BEST!!!. Always good humored, an excellent communicator, immensely knowledgeable, enthusiastic and passionate about nature and all creatures (large and small), expertly placing  us perfectly into the best positions for optimal wildlife viewing time after time. He brought every scene and second of Namibia to life. I am forever grateful to him for taking us on a remarkable journey of many layered and rich experiences and for helping us understand all that is Namibia.

Thia Bunker, Sep 2017

 

Big Five Safari to Private Game Reserves and Cape Town

Cape Town- Hotel was great (One&Only) location and view from window at Table Mountain was great. Hotel staff great as well.

Table Mountain was great views we had on a clear day… Robben Island Tour was quite good, penguins were a bonus. Botanical gardens impressive for Molly.  District 6 museum was interesting especially if one has interest in the apartheid history…

Hermanus – The Marine was very good hotel with water views, we saw whales from our room. Also whales in close and seen on cliff path frequently.  Nature hike in Franskloof nature preserve was beautiful as well.

Our safari lodges – MalaMala and Tanda Tula were both excellent and different, which was our goal with your input.   We saw more than static animals, saw leopard porn, ostrich porn, cheetahs stalking and chasing giraffes, leopards stalking impala, lionesses feeding on recent kudu kill and had an elephant whisperer moment on our bush walk in Tanda Tula. It would be very hard to repeat these experiences.

MalaMala – seem to be more of an older “out of Africa” mode, all rooms were air con which  was nice, food very good, good wine list and after drive Karma was good. Our guide was great, he put us in excellent positions for pics and viewing wildlife. Had hippos in camp, elephants, various antelope family and a monitor lizard. Incredible leopard action-stalking, large elephant, giraffe and zebra herds.  The proximity to wildlife was unbelievable.  The river was the draw and main attraction here like a magnet for wildlife.

Tanda Tula – This was a very different experience staying in tents. More night sounds which were cool, outside shower. Food was tops. It is really easy to gain 5 lbs on these trips. The terrain was drier, game more diversified but in smaller herds, this was not as green so game was more scattered. But game had some more diversity, ostriches, cheetahs not seen in MalaMala. Saw cheetahs chasing small giraffe and it lived. Our guide here was Brian whom was outstanding, great with eco system, geology, biology very broad back ground and was interesting. Bush sundowners were very cool – good South African gin selection, breakfast in bush was great too. In some ways TT had more of a diverse experience with less lodge centric focus. Owners were very gracious and provided lot of history and ways to address charitable donations for their staff. Education of kids and adults we found very interesting as we felt we should contribute to the local people that make the lodges work.

Closing comment- we felt was a trip of life time, all venues were excellent, all most too much good food at safaris.  We saw almost 30 different species of animals (big 12- animals weigh more than 50 Kilo in 2 ecosystems it seemed, plus plenty of birds)

Thanks for all of your help, it was a great trip. Hope fully this input will have value for you.

Larry and Molly Dutton, Sep 2017

 

The Best of Southern Africa including MalaMala Private Game Reserve

The trip was amazing!  Cape Town was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.  Our guide, Suleiman Soeker was great.  Very knowledgeable, personable and fun. He spent long days with us making sure we got to see everything we wanted to.  Both our tours with him, the Peninsula Tour and the Winelands tour, he gave us so much information and stayed as long as we wanted at each stop to take pictures, etc.

The Winchester Mansions Hotel was fabulous.  They upgraded our twin junior sea-view suite to a beautiful two bedroom suite with a living room and dining room for my birthday with a beautiful bottle of wine and snacks.  The location of the hotel was amazing!  We loved all the staff at the hotel and the food was fabulous.

MalaMala was also amazing.  We loved the accommodations and the camp was beautiful.  Our guide “ANDREW” was great.  We saw the big five by the end of day one.  Michael, the bartender always made us feel welcome, Stephanie our meal time waitress was wonderful, always very happy and accommodating.  All the staff at MalaMala were top notch.  We would highly recommend the camp to anyone going on safari.  We could not believe all the animals we saw.  Truly an amazing experience…

Jessica did a fabulous job on all her choices for us and I highly recommend her and Africa Adventure Company to anyone considering a trip to South Africa or anywhere on safari.

Ann Klein, Sep 2017

 

Legends of Zimbabwe Flying Safari

I’d like to thank you for organizing an amazing trip for us. On very short notice you and your team put together an incredible safari. The travel portions of the trip went without a hitch. The pre-departure and final departure information was extremely helpful.  We especially appreciated the detailed itineraries, packing information, flight summaries and the specific information provided regarded tipping was especially helpful.

We loved both of the safari camps in Zimbabwe.  The accommodations were wonderful and the food was delicious. The staff at both Khulu Ivory and Vundu Camp were extremely friendly and gracious.  We were beyond impressed with our guides at both camps.  They were unbelievably knowledgeable, friendly and attentive to our needs and safety.

The combination of the camps at Hwange and Mana Pools was perfect.  We had two very different experiences. We did all game drives at Hwange, which were wonderful.  In contrast we were able to do a couple of walking safaris and a canoe trip at Mana Pools which provided a completely different experience.  Both were amazing in terms of the wildlife and scenery.

We found the people in Zimbabwe to be extremely friendly and hospitable and will carry fond memories of many of the people we met.  I would like to especially acknowledge a few, including Colin (camp manager at Ivory Khulu), Mauceo (aka King) our guide at Khulu and John, our guide at Vundu Camp.

Thank you again for all you did to make our trip perfect.  I have already referred you to a friend.  Hopefully we will have the opportunity to work with you again in the future.

Sincerely,

Wendy Norris, Sep 2017

 

Luxury Safari to Botswana and Zimbabwe

Our trip was beyond wonderful!

Pamushana was fabulous and it was very fun staying all together in the villa. Mark, our guide, was so knowledgeable and excellent. The accommodations were wonderful, the food delicious, and the staff so helpful and accommodating. I really can say that about all the camps.

I loved the layout and feel of Zarafa and our guide there, Ruben, was probably our best guide of the trip… I loved the location of this camp, with the wide vista and the ability to view the animals from our room. Elephants (my favorite) came super close – with in a few yards – of our deck. Incredible. I also really enjoyed the outdoor dinner where Ruben and Gobo (our house staff person) joined us and shared information about Africa. I love that the program in Botswana includes giving money to protect the wildlife and help the community…

It all went like clockwork. Thank you so much for arranging this amazing trip.

Best,

Julie Swan, Sep 2017

 

Adventure to Madagascar and the Seychelles

Greetings from Andasibe-Mantadia National Park,

There is so much to say that it is hard to know where to start.   Madagascar is a bit of a sensory overload!  …..and the jet lag has been a challenge.  It’s a long way between California and Madagascar!

We have been in the country for about 6 days now.  We are down to our last couple of days.  It has been a whirlwind of travel and experiences.  Clearly we are not in Kansas any more…Dave will also tell you that there is a sense of community, busy activity, and a special kind of vibrancy.

After arriving in Antananarivo…we spent overnight and then flew on Air Madagascar to the south of the country.  After arriving in Fort Dauphin on the coast, we embarked on a 4 hour drive to Berenty Reserve.  The main highway was described as bumpy… A guide we had described it as a “dancing road”, a very apt description….think rock ‘n roll.  Little did we know that most of the roads here are “dancing roads”.  Main crop is rice but lots of other fruits and vegetables are grown.   Main transportation is walking or small, crowded buses.  Bicycles and carts drawn by people and zebu are also prevalent.  Cattle originally came from India and are called zebu.  They are considered a source of wealth.  We could tell you more but we leave it at this.

We loved our stay at Berenty Reserve where we had our first lemur experiences, but also experiences with other creatures large and small.  The interior south of the country is more desert-like.  We spent time walking the Reserve with our guide Lambert.  Also did a night walk through the spiny forest.  We have been extremely lucky in getting to see some seldom seen creatures including the nocturnal grey and grey-brown mouse lemur.  Quite remarkably we even found a mating pair!

We left Berenty and started our journey north.  More dancing roads, air flights and long drives to get to our current location at Andasibe-Mantadia.  This is rain forest and a completely different habitat with different species of lemurs.  Very beautiful. We have spent the last 2 days doing some serious hiking and craning our necks upward to watch several different species fly from treetop to treetop…These trails are not for sissies!  Won’t list all of the creatures and lemurs but will say that today we found the rare Black and White Ruffed lemur that only survives in Mantadia National Park. We got to sit (cling) on a steep, forested hillside and watch a family eat, play, and fly from tree to tree.  Thrilling!

Don’t forget the butterflies, tree frogs, snakes, and the incredible chameleons, and the flowers.  Our legs are pooped and are necks are sore but it has been remarkable.

This island country is off the south east coast of Africa.  It is a chunk of space that separated from Africa about the time dinosaurs roamed the earth.  Because of its isolation it developed its own ecology and animals.  It is a place like no other place.  People did not arrive here until much later.  Malagasy is the language. It was colonized by the French so schools teach both languages.  There is great pressure on the land because of overpopulation.

Education is difficult here.  We brought a duffle full of school supplies and tomorrow we will visit a local school to leave them…

We head to Seychelles Islands in 2 days.  Hope to send another postcard from there…

Traveling on,
Lugena and Dave Wahlquist, Sep 2017

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