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Client Trip Reports - October - December 2014


Big Five Safari to MalaMala and One&Only Cape Town


Gosh, favorite moments are hard to pick as we had so many and indeed debated over them with the kids. Mine was finding ourselves parked in our vehicle surrounded on three sides, including front and back so we could not move, by a pride with three lionesses, a male, and 8 cubs who played in front of us. 

 

 

One of the female lions laid down next to us and then all of the adults started roaring while the cubs tried to roar but only squealed and whimpered. It was amazing and the animals were beautiful. Second best was stopping just under a leopard lying on a long tree branch above us. Like I said, there were too many to favorite moments but these are two. What a wonderful experience.

April & Michael Egge, Dec 2014





Family Safari to Botswana, Victoria Falls and Cape Town


Elena,

 

We had a wonderful experience. All of the arrangements went extremely well.

 

- Kings Pool Camp was amazing; the managers (Dave and Michele) were extremely focused on service; the camp is beautiful

- The diversity of wildlife at Chitabe was fantastic

- Cape Grace was perfect; great location, beautiful; great service

- The guides at Chitabe and Kings Pool were all superb

- Chris in Cape Town was perfect for our group; transfers went well

- Game drives were all fantastic

- Shark diving was fun, but limited sightings

- Zip lining was great

- Elephant safari was great experience

- Wilderness Air flights went okay

 

Thanks again for all of your help.

 

Best regards,

Steve Garten, Dec 2014





The desert of the Central Kalahari and the Delta waterways of the Okavango Delta


Season's Greetings Ian,

 

The trip of a lifetime was indeed this spectacular adventure to Botswana, the Kalahari Desert and Moremi Delta with two days in Zimbabwe as a finishing touch. There was so much to see that I hardly know where to begin.

 

Some of the highlights were:

 

Seeing a live wildebeest birth in the wild. Ban, my guide, spotted the large female laying on the ground and then seized the opportunity by getting closer to where we had a full range of view but were not too imposing on the herd. Moments later the soon-to-be mother stood and we could see the hind legs of her infant protruding from her body. Minutes later she expelled the new baby calf. And within eight minutes the calf was standing and then walking. So amazing!

 

And then there was the time the "Elephants Came to Tea". Ban had just set the Landrover "table" for afternoon tea when a herd of Elephant decided to join us. Well, we hurried into the vehicle and just watched. Elephant after Elephant passed by and it was amazing to watch. Such huge creatures.

 

We watched as a large male Lion ate his Buffalo prey. And saw a Lioness and her cubs chewing away on a Baboon.

 

Driving with Geoffrey in the Kalahari, we saw Honey Badgers flitting across the plain. And we saw lions, fabulous birds, and oh so much!

 

Again, in the Moremi there was the lone Hippo, Baboons, Giraffe, Zebra, and the elusive Leopard. Was able to capture much of the action and I can't wait to forward the photos.

 

And at Victoria Falls, the Lion Encounter was amazing! I actually petted a Lion. And seeing the Falls from Helicopter was spectacular.

 

And Esther gave me a fabulous tour of the Falls on my arrival.

 

And I did get to visit a school in Zimbabwe that is sponsored by Wildlife Safaris, which Barbara of The VF Hotel arranged.

 

What more can I say? Thank you for putting together such a seamless trip which was totally AMAZING!

 

I will write again and tell you more but I wanted to get this off to you.

 

Looking forward to more Safaris.

Merrilee Fiedler, Nov-Dec 2014





Iconic Adventure to Botswana, Zimbabwe and Cape Town including the Rovos Rail


Hi Lynne and all others who made this wonderful African experience work for us,

 

Yes, we're back and anxious to share our stories and experiences. First, I want to express how impressed we were with Wilderness Safaris as your partner on the ground. All the camps, staffs, guides, drivers met and exceeded expectations. We were at all times well cared for and never had a moment's confusion about what happens next. The camps were all very comfortable, both physically and interpersonally. Our only complaint is that we were fed too well, and too often.

 

I will definitely send some photos as soon as I get them better organized. I have beautiful photos of a black maned Kalahari lion, up close and personal! I even have cool video of dung beetles at work! We all functioned well as an effective photo team, Herb with his wide angle and me with my telephoto, then Barb and Henry with the point and shoots around camp for the opportunistic short shots when other batteries were recharging. Herb got so many birds in flight, and shot so many rounds, I'm afraid it will take a very long time to get his contributions under control.

 

Since feedback is what you're needing, I will try to be objective and not altogether gushy. Henry's and my favorite parts of the trip were the game drives, hands down. Considering that we had no choice but to go at this time, we got some pretty great breaks. We missed the oppressive heat of a few weeks prior to our arrival and experienced the first big rain of the rainy season in the Kalahari. Since this camp had also experienced a devastating uncontrolled fire in August and had only just reopened, we were able to see the greening up and recovery during the few days of our stay.

 

Doing the Kalahari camp was the best place to start. We got our game viewing eyes on in a place where everything seemed to be off in the distance, and things closer were so completely camouflaged we were pretty good by the time we moved on. We also were intrigued by all the bird and insect life. I kept wishing there were a way to see life emerging after dark. That's when the desert really comes to life! We slept under the stars the first night in the Kalahari, heard the lion calling his pride just within a stone's throw, and had the first raindrops of the season on our faces by morning. You can't say that was an everyday experience!

 

We saw two leopards. a pair of cheetahs, a couple of white rhinos (from the plane), red hartebeest, sable (with calf), spotted a honey badger, to name a few of the rarer spottings. One of my favorites was watching a pair of dung beetles at work.

 

At Victoria falls it was unexpected that we were seeing it at low water, but could really see the way it has changed through the eons because it wasn't just mist in our faces obscuring views. We all really enjoyed the visit to the village at Victoria Falls, and will continue to send support to their school, and we loved the Elephant Camp experience. We did go on one of the smaller crafts for the Zambezi sunset cruise. It was very nice, and quite personal - got pretty close to the falls and saw plenty of hippos. Also saw the big party boats. Glad we hadn't gone that way. The Boma dinner was just OK because it felt "touristy," although the drumming was fun. We had already had a better Boma experience at the Kalahari Plains Camp.

 

At Tubu Tree we were fortunate to be in the company of Mike Meyers (principal photographer for Wilderness Safaris) and his wife, Marian. Watched a lion hunt with them. He actually critiqued (and complimented) some of my photos.

 

Hwange was saving the most animals for last. Couldn't believe the number of elephants! Best night was our last one there with a heard of elephants and hippos at a waterhole, a beautiful sunset, and good wine. We truly did not want to leave.

 

The Rovos Rail experience was primarily for Herb with the stop at Kimberley and his infatuation with trains. Henry was afraid he'd die of boredom before we got to Cape Town, but it turned out to be a completely enjoyable experience. The only criticism is that we barely finished one fabulous meal before there was another, and with no exercise to burn it off. Yet nobody turned any of it down.

 

Cape Town was a fun end to the trip, but in retrospect we could have gone to more safari camps in the same period. We did get down to the cape, which is a thing to check off your list, and we did go visit a women's project in a huge township there, as well as visiting the 6th district museum about the bulldozing of communities at the onset of Apartheid. I'm glad we did those things. It's good to see first hand the needs in those places. We will continue to support that project and are encouraging our friends to see Africa, too. I'm emphasizing how much tourism is important to the local economies.

 

Thank you for walking us through the uncertainties of making this big trip. We had so many questions that you must grow tired of answering.

 

Thanks again,

Sue and Henry Knueppel, Nov 2014





Flying Safari to Botswana’s Linyanti Reserve and Okavango Delta


We had the most wonderful trip possible, enjoying everything about it.

 

Here’s a couple points to highlight:

 

The airport hotel in Johannesburg, Southern Sun, had the largest buffer breakfast we had ever seen. Even the birds in the gardens were wonderful and let us know we’d be having the trip of our lives.

 

We loved the Victoria Falls River Lodge. The “tents” were air conditioned, the staff went all out to anticipate our desires(we ended up having a dockside dinner attended by a wonderful server who we enjoyed throughout our visit), the the evening boat trip was a highlight of the whole trip. Ester, our guide at the Falls, made us attend to the history of the fall and made it a more memorable experience than we would have had without her. Sometimes you need someone to tell you what you don’t even realize you need to know! The manager Brian Mullins, made us feel like our visit was special. We loved being greeted by staff on our arrival.

 

I loved how my underpants were washed and ironed and folded at two of our camps. The little things like that exceeded our expectations. I tell our friends we stayed in tents, but is was a luxury experience all around.

 

We were totally happy with what we saw, the photos we brought home and our experiences.

 

Duma Tau was a wonderful initiation into Botswana. They presented a beautiful candlelight experience one evening and we enjoyed the larger camp there. We also learned to get some rest after lunch since there doesn’t seem to be 8 hours after dinner to sleep. Our guide, Tank, wanted to show us leopard and was successful under light at the end of the day…

 

Chitabe Letibe was our favorite camp in many ways. The staff did a fabulous song/dance presentation before dinner (thanks to Monks) which we got into since we saw kitchen staff extend themselves in new ways. Kay, one of the managers, sat with us at dinner and talked about marriage and funeral practices in her village. She brought Africa to us in ways we had sought out, but made our trip richer. .

 

Little Vumbura was at the end of the trip and there we did the mokora (which was lovely but didn’t bring us new species except for frogs) but also had the best guide, Rain. We wanted sable, and he found them for us. He also suggested we bring our bags and he’d deliver us directly to the airstrip, which made us feel we received hours more on our last drive.

 

We were never bored, lived in the moment throughout and really felt taken care of by Wilderness. Their pilots were personable and helped us relax and enjoy the trips. We got a strong sense of how everyone relies on others there—that no one is left on an airstrip alone and that the guides are in constant communication about what species have been sighted.

 

The sounds of the night were beautiful, both of animals and of staff singing in their areas.

 

Thank you for making it such a wonderful trip. It made us want to travel more widely, like to the Galapagos but also return to Africa in the future.

Jennifer Kuehn, Nov 2014





"Big Five" Game Safari to Sabi Sand, South Africa


Kollin,

 

We want to thank you for the well-planned safari that was executed perfectly. Every detail was taken care of without a single snag. We thoroughly enjoyed both of the camps, although they were quite different.

 

Tanda Tula was an adventure for us to stay in a tent (quite nice!). We cannot rave enough about our guide, Formen, and tracker, Given, they made sure that we saw everything. The atmosphere at this camp was so friendly and sincere. It is obvious that everyone who works there is quite happy with what they are doing. It was wonderful to have the owners joining us for evening meals and mingling with the guests as well.

 

Rattray’s at Mala Mala was a very pleasant upgrade – quite luxurious! We are glad that was our 2nd camp. The atmosphere was quite different from Tanda Tula in that it was more of a resort feeling. The staff was very friendly and there for anything we needed. Our guide, Michael, was excellent. Not only did he do a marvelous job of tracking animals but his diplomacy skills were wonderful – we were paired with a couple from Germany who really were not there to see animals. Michael made sure that all of us were attended to. The accommodations were spectacular, not one thing to complain about, only rave about!

 

We would be quick to recommend both of these camps to anyone making plans to go on a South African safari.

 

                             

 

Thank You Again,

Bryan & Nancy Goff, Oct 2014





"Savannah Grasses" Safari to South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe


Dear Elena and the whole staff.

 

Great Safari !!!

 

Our travel arrangements worked to perfection. That made our trip even more enjoyable.

 

Cape Town is a great city and we wish we would add a day. Both tours, Peninsula and wine region tours were excellent, especially wine region tour, with our excellent guide Abe.

 

We lucked out with the Table Mt. During our tour days, it was closed due to high winds. It opened on our leisure day. It was beautiful day with a great walk all around the top.

 

Victoria & Alfred Hotel, perfect location and view of the Table Mt.( it was worth the extra surcharge). Both camps were great and the accommodation, staff, food, service excellent.

 

Staff was always ready to help. E.g. something went wrong with our camera and without Kim in the Davison camp fixing if, the quality of pictures would probably be lesser quality as they are now.

 

Guide in Moremi at Xakanaxa, Caltex deserves special note. So persistent, he never gave up.

 

Davisons Camp with the view of the water hole was something to remember. Elephants provided great show. The guide Elliot, which we had for 7 game drives was very knowledgeable , witty, friendly and very good spotter. He always carried a rifle with him, so we felt safe.

 

What we loved most was the savannah landscape /mosaic of grassland, woodland blended with wildlife, especially at the dusk and sunsets. We saw all the animals we're supposed to see. Only cheetahs eluded us. We loved the late afternoon drive stretching stops with tasty snack and great glass of wine or gin and tonic.

 

In Davison’s Camp it was incredible elephant viewing at the water hole. They were coming and going as a marching regiment one from left and next from right. At night they were cruising around our tent. One could see droppings just few feet from the tent.

 

Sighting of lions was incredible experience. At one point there were 21 lions in the vicinity of our vehicle.

 

One episode is kind of funny and worth to mention. The lions made a kill and dragged its catch to bushes under huge tree, where a large baboon was resting. Poor baboon got so scared that he climbed all the way to the top and was stucked there. Nobody knew how long he could hold on. It was a great show for all the guides. We came back several times to check on him and worried. We think that he made it to safety, because next day he was not there and lions were still sleeping.

 

When we arrived in Victoria Falls we right away made the arrangement with Esther for the afternoon. Esther was a dynamite guide and storyteller. She made the walk very memorable.

 

In the morning we did helicopter fly over the falls and to look at it from the top, was breathtaking. Dinner at Ilala lodge was outstanding, so was the service…

 

This is a must to mention. It was the extra effort of all our guides. Always add the extra mile to look for the wildlife

 

Thanks arranging such fantastic trip for us and making it such an unforgettable life event.

Paul and Viera Benko, Oct 2014





Iconic Southern Africa including Hwange, Okavango Delta, Victoria Falls and Cape Town


Dear Lynne

Yes we are safely home from absolutely our trip of a lifetime! The four of us all agreed that each day was perfect. We are all seasoned travelers and can honestly say this was our best trip ever for several reasons. We cannot thank you and your team enough for listening to us as carefully as you did in order to plan the perfect trip. Each of the areas we visited had some new and different adventures for us to discover. From the moment we arrived in Africa, Wilderness Safari staff treated us like royalty and left us nothing more to think about than enjoying every moment.

Of course, as you know, we were excited to see the animals in their habitat and we did, lots of them. I took about 1500 photos and Linda took almost as many. We were astounded at how gracious the animals were at accepting our presence and just how close we were able to be with them. The number of animals and species we saw was beyond our expectation. The guides were so knowledgeable, not just about the animals but the plants, the birds, the geography and history of their country as well. They were always eager to share their knowledge with us.

We wanted to go to Africa to see and learn about the animals, however, we all fell in love with the people we met. The staff (all of them) at each of the camps could not have been more gracious and friendly. It was delightful at the end of each safari to be greeted by at least two of them wearing smiles and asking us about what we had seen. It was also very nice to have them share meals and good conversation with us…


The camps themselves were lovely. They were well maintained, clean and very comfortable. Perhaps because Little Makalolo was our first stop, and where we saw a magnificent male lion and his three females, we have a special fondness for it. The other things that stand out were Bea's amazing smile, good conversations with Eddy and sipping coffee with watching the large elephant herd in the morning.

 

What really stood out for us at Savuti Camp was the extra ordinary efforts made by the guide to make sure we saw a very regal leopard and the time we spent with the painted dogs.

 

The camp staff there were also very gracious and helpful.

 

The birds at Kwetsani Camp were amazing and we were surprised to be as taken with the fabulous birds of the delta. Hundreds would fly up as we boated to the big island and many were around the camp. We were fortunate to have Dennis, who is quite a birder, as our guide…We were interested in what happened behind the scenes to make a wilderness camp run and Charmaine and Dan were gracious enough to tour us through the kitchen, storage and laundry facilities. It seemed that all staff were always eager to meet our wishes.

The hotels in both Victoria Falls and Cape Town should be recommended and no one should go to Southern Africa without going to Cape Town! Esther (Vic Falls) was a delight and we had two wonderful days touring with Clive in Cape Town. He too is a fountain of knowledge.

Lastly, one of the reasons we chose to travel with The Africa Adventure Company was because your literature mentioned a commitment to supporting African communities and conservation. After speaking with some of the staff, we were left with a very positive impression of Wilderness Safaris as a good employer and we were happy to witness the company's efforts to support communities and concerns for conservation.

Again, thank you and your team for your patience addressing all of our questions and for your perfect planning. Also, please extend our many thanks to all of the staff in African that made the trip happen flawlessly.

 

                             

Cheers,
Jean Dunning & Jim Reain
Linda & Don Flynn, Oct 2014





Wildlife Safari to Zimbabwe and Botswana - Mana Pools, Hwange and Linyanti Reserve


Hi Alison and Team,

 

We wanted to get back to you in more detail about our trip, so here goes!

 

First of all, staying at Vundu Camp and having Nick Murray as our guide was the experience of a lifetime. Although the camp is more rustic than the others we stayed at, the overall experience could not be matched-from being 2 feet from an elephant, canoeing among the hippos, crocs and elephants with a birds-eye view of the shore birds along the Zambezi, to tracking lions on foot, finally finding the African wild dogs after 3 days of searching, etc. Nick is an encyclopedia of knowledge about the animals of Mana Pools. Peter, Nick's father-in-law, was delightful to spend time with; the food was delicious and the hospitality so very gracious. The light reflected off the Zambezi in the early mornings was beautiful...and the sunsets were the most gorgeous in the world.

Little Makalolo Camp was our second stop. Themba and Bee welcomed us to the camp like you would be welcomed to someone's home. Bee is one of the sweetest people we ever met. All of the staff was delightful and warm. The cold towels and warm" welcome home" after each game ride was such nice touches. The guests who were at camp at the same time were very enjoyable as well. Themba (so knowledgeable and so much fun) was our guide and treated us to some amazing wildlife viewing in Hwange. We were able to check off seeing cheetahs-about 3 feet away from a mother and her playful son lounging on a termite mound before their evening hunt. The elephants were too numerous to count and we had sundowners at one of their watering holes each evening. They are fascinating creatures!...

 

Duma Tau-stop #3, was beautiful. We felt like royalty while we were there. Name was our guide and although it wasn't a private vehicle/guide situation, we had only another couple or just ourselves quite often. We were able to go for a river safari one night on the small boat and had the extremely luxurious experience of sundowners on the Barge another night. We witnessed elephants swimming across the Linyanti and had an exciting, very close (and a bit frightening) encounter with a ferocious male lion. We saw 3 leopards on separate occasions-such a treat. Of course the sunsets were gorgeous, the hospitality so warm and the staff so caring. The boma dinner with African music and dance by the staff was a beautiful experience. All in all another wonderful stay.

 

It would be impossible to name our favorite camp or highlight of the trip. Each camp was different but wonderful and every experience will be a forever memory. Thank you so much for all of your help in arranging our trip. You have our full endorsement and would be happy to recommend you to anyone thinking of traveling to Africa.

 

Warm regards,

Tom and Carol Kerr, Oct 2014





The Best of Southern Africa including Sabi Sand, Cape Town, Botswana and Victoria Falls


Hi Ian!

 

Thanks! We had the most amazing time EVER! The whole trip was far more than anything we could have ever imagined! It still is so surreal that we actually got to see so many animals in the wild and up close! I still can't believe it...I think I was saying "Wow" and "Oh my God" the whole time. I was just in shock and awe with everything I was seeing and experiencing.

 

It's really hard to choose some of our favorite moments because the whole entire 2 weeks was amazing. But I guess if I had to choose, the following REALLY stood out:

 

- Seeing lions and elephants for the first time in the wild. Just seeing them up close and in the wild, in their natural habitat was something I will never forget. I almost cried!

 

- Doing the cage dive with great white sharks. Absolutely unreal and a huge adrenaline rush!

 

- Going on the river boat cruise in Botswana and seeing huge herds of elephants in the hundreds by the river. We got SO close to the elephants...I couldn't believe it. We got to see elephants playing and splashing around in the water next to us. It was incredible!

 

- Swimming in the Devil's Pool! A little scary but the views were unreal! I loved it!

 

- Doing the gorge swing into the gorge in Victoria Falls. It was absolutely terrifying but I'm so glad I did it! I have some great video of that.

 

- Walking with the lions and cheetahs in Victoria Falls was a dream come true!

 

- All the sunsets in Botswana - the most amazing sunsets I've ever seen!

 

- Visiting the local schoolchildren in Botswana and handing out school supplies to them....this experience was so humbling. I will never forget the looks on the kids' faces when we came. They were so excited and happy to see us!

 

…Anyway, thank you so much again! This was my dream trip and you helped make that happen! I cannot thank you enough for all your hard work with planning this! I don't think we'll ever have another vacation that will top this...although I'm already hooked on Africa and can't wait until we make it back there again for another safari.

 

Thanks,

Pam Stanford, Oct 2014





Return to Africa - Cape Town, Okavango Delta and Moremi Reserve and Victoria Falls


I truly enjoyed the whole thing and thought it a wonderful experience.

 

I loved the "Sundowner" time. The special appetizers and wine and time to share our highlights of the day. Nice that there was wine or other drinks without extra charge. That sort of ended the day with some kind of mellow glow and helped us to sleep in a strange place. The dinners also were so good. I just missed eggs in the morning.

 

The Guides in both camps were absolutely great. I marveled at their visual acuity and loved how they shared some of their knowledge with us. They were so important in our experience and they were awesome.

 

The Victoria Falls Hotel was a welcome comfort, so grand, like a time in the past when things were much more formal and gracious. A special treat indeed.

 

I would not change a thing. It was beautiful from beginning to end and I am so glad that I did this.

 

My sincere thanks to the Africa Adventures and all of the other many people I saw who contributed to our experience.

 

Thank you and please send on my thanks to those you depended on to make our time so memorable.

Barbara White, Oct 2014



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