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Client Trip Reports Southern Africa - Apr-Jun 2016

- Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Best of Southern Africa including Sabi Sand, Victoria Falls and Chobe

 

Hi Jessica,

 

All the transitions to and from the airports went very smoothly. I usually get very anxious prior to flying, but was able to relax and feel confident that you had everything arranged and that we would get where we needed to be…

 

Next stop Skukuza and the Savanna Lodge. Our airport pick-up was great - he even stopped and we saw Cape buffalo and giraffe on the way to the lodge. We were really spoiled by having Savanna as our first stop. GREAT EXPERIENCE!!!! People, facility, guide, accommodations - outstanding! Paddy was a terrific host as were Natasha and MacKayla and our guide Derrick was the best. Every time I thought "it can't get any better than this" it did. At lunch the day of arrival, we sat down and a huge herd of Cape buffalo came to the waterhole just outside the grounds. Really liked sitting at one long table with the rest of the guests, trading stories of the day. The first morning we had a leopard hiding next to the wheel of the rover peeking underneath to watch the impala. David was on the top seat just 4 feet above him. Also saw plenty of lions - David's favorite. I'm not sure I can even pick a favorite…Food was great too. Loved the cocktail hour around the fire. Went to the village and took the school supplies we packed. The little ones sang songs for us. They were just precious. Hated to leave.

 

  

 

You were right about the panorama tour- we saw some gorgeous scenery. Did a lot of walking too- didn't make it to the top of God's Window - settled for the lower view…

 

Victoria Falls Hotel - beautiful hotel. Excellent service! Loved the elephant experience. We had a huge 30 year old male Jock - nicknamed the pig as he wants to eat all the time…Great sightseeing experience with Victoria Falls guide, Cynthia. She walked us over to the train station and had the driver pick us up there. David got to go up into the cab of the steam engine- he loved it as he is a big steam train aficionado. Even with the raincoats we were wet. Falls were breathtaking and Cynthia got us there at the right time of day. Rainbows everywhere. Could ask her anything and she knew the answer.

 


 

Chobe Chilwero was terrific too. The river cruise was great- saw elephants swimming-hippos too. They're a bit scary- they'd just pop up and then we would change course away from them.

 

We were a bit concerned that we wouldn't see as much since they aren't allowed to go off trail, but didn't need to worry - saw lots. Elephants up close and personal - 2 feet from the rover.
 
Lions only 20 yds from the restroom/ breakfast stop. She was so hidden in the grass that none of the vehicles spotted her right away. She had cubs stashed in a thicket and didn't appreciate the traffic…Hippos, crocs, sable antelope, more giraffe, zebra, lions. Lots of animals large and small and birds of all kinds. We loved it here too. At meals they have separate tables, but we sat with another couple on a few occasions which we liked better. Ish was our guide and the first day our rover group asked to take off the canvas top of the rover- which they did. It allowed us to see more birds and when we saw giraffe and elephant the top didn't get in the way. Since temps were mild we really didn't need the shade. Accommodations were first rate - would do little special things in the room each eve and after our last evening game drive had a hot bubble bath and champagne waiting for us.

 

This was our best trip ever. Not sure that anything could top it - ever. Ps: took about 1500 photo plus video - still going thru them all.

 

Debra Christensen, June 2016

 

 

 

“Big Five” Safari to Mashatu and MalaMala Game Reserve

 

Hi Lynne,

 

We had a great time!

 

Our safari was really pretty fantastic. We had great photographic opportunities. We saw the big five in the first day and one half and then had many good sightings on the other days. Of the 13 half day safari drives in MalaMala we had only one drive that was fairly quiet. The rest were great. The one problem at MalaMala was that the area is covered in large part in rather thick brush making photography more challenging then say at the more open areas at Mashatu. On the other hand the foliage was starting to change and that added to the scenery.

 

The hides in Mashatu were spectacular for photography and just seeing some of the animals during our use on three half days. Ruth, who was our photography guide, was great. All our drives there were productive. The photo vehicle was a help in low light situations as well as being more comfortable then the regular safari vehicle.

 

  

 

Joe was our ranger in MalaMala and he was also very good although not a professional photographer as was Ruth. We had a photo vehicle there that had been newly equipped with a system of sliding been bag camera supports that was very effective.

 

We saw a more variety animals in MalaMala and the place was very nice for the stay. However it was a little stuffy in our collective opinion and we preferred the less formal atmosphere at Mashatu. The food was particularly good at Mashatu and was over seen by Steve the Executive Chef. Also the meal times that were offered where at better times for our photography drives then at MalaMala.

 

However, despite the minor differences, we liked both places and they complimented each other well. We were on safari during the nice weather of fall. Both places were not very crowded which was a plus.

 

The 7 nights in Mala Mala and the 5 nights at Mashatu were about right given how productive the days were while we were there.

 

All the arrangements worked out flawlessly which we very much appreciated. We were glad that, with your help, we picked two good places to visit.

 

Stu Hahn, June 2016

 

 

 

Legends of Zimbabwe Flying Safari including Hwange and Mana Pools

 

We wanted to thank Lynne and the rest of the team. We just got back from Zimbabwe. The advice we received was spot on. Our only regret is that we didn’t stay a little longer.

 

Linkwasha Camp was excellent and a good transition. Hwange was in the low 40s at night and in the morning and about 75 mid-day. They bundled us up in ponchos, blankets, and gave us a hot water bottle for the early morning drive (in addition to our several layers). All 3 of our main guides were great - especially our walking guide, Sam. His pre-walk prep talk bordered on humorous (he showed us how to load, chamber, and shoot his gun…he showed us how to use his GPS to find the jeep...). Walking was an event here - it was basically the day’s drive.

 

Linkwasha had a red light night drive and the guides worked together to find animals for us….The food was good - for the animals too … an elephant ate outside our tent at night. There were a lot of animal noises as many things wandered through the camp on the way to the nearby watering hole. I would definitely recommend the camp.

 


 

Vundu Camp was, of course, totally different as a smaller family-run rather than corporate camp. The resident managers, Marie and Alex, were wonderful. They went overboard in making us feel at home. In fact, Marie found out that we would be celebrating our anniversary later in the week. She organized a surprise candlelight dinner for 2 in front of our tent along the Zambezi. It was amazing. They set up a little bar (a little of everything from spirits to sparkling wine) and appetizers by a fire and 2 chairs. They brought a 3 course meal down to a candlelight table they had carried down. Our guide joined us briefly as an elephant decided to eat his way walking by our tent mid-dinner. We had plenty of hot water from our own fire heated tank. Henry was an excellent guide and took us canoeing; we had a brief moment of excitement when a bull hippo turned around and decided to chase us. Henry’s approach to walking was to drive around until we saw something interesting then get out and approach it by foot so we had lots of short walks. We walked up to the painted dog den. In general, the animals were fewer and less varied than Hwange but the experience was definitely different….

 

  

 

Thank you for arranging such a good guide (Cynthia) for Victoria Falls. I think listening to her stories about her life in Zimbabwe was probably even more interesting than seeing the falls themselves. Our bush pilot was kind enough to fly us around the falls as well.

 

Elephant Camp in Victoria Falls was a little like a Ritz Carlton! It was a little unlike being in Africa but for the end of our trip (and our actual anniversary) it was great. Sylvester, their resident cheetah ambassador was a real highlight. We went on a 2 hour off leash walk with him in the park. He was habituated to people enough to let you touch him but otherwise he really ignored you rather than acting like a pet. We also met their elephants and fed them (but didn’t ride them).They gave us a tour of the research and animal rescue facility that is independent but on the Elephant Camp’s grounds and that was fascinating.

 

We’d do it again.

 

Thanks,
Gerald and Karen Striph, June 2016

 

 

 

Safari to Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park and Botswana’s Okavango Delta

 

Dear Szilvia,

 

Sally and I, on our trip with Meredith and Pat, had the trip of a lifetime. We had some apprehension before leaving, but the time on safari, starting with our accommodation and tours in Johannesburg, could not have gone better.

 

The accommodation you selected for us in Johannesburg and Cape Town was excellent, good rooms, meals and staff. The safari camps were all excellent. Wilderness Safaris and their air services do a fabulous job. There was a variety in the terrain the camps, and the wildlife we viewed was plentiful, colorful, and in several cases brought home to us the fight for survival - several viewings of a “kill” being guarded/feasted on, starting with our first day in our first camp at Little Makalolo. The guides and the camp staff were all very good. Getting a wake-up at 5:15 or 5:30, still dark outside was a bit of a shock at first, but we soon got used to it. The water features in the Kwetsani Camp gave us a very different view of the landscape and we enjoyed that. The number and variety of mammals more than met any expectations, but for me the bird life was also impressive.

 

Once again, it was a wonderful experience, and thank you for your choice of camps and the itinerary.

 

Harry Beattie, May 2016

 

 

 

Botswana Flying Safari to the Okavango Delta

 

Dear Lynne,

 

Thanks to you and your staff, Kirk and I had the best time EVER on our recent trip to Victoria Falls and Botswana. It was exactly what we wanted and even surpassed our expectations. All connections went smoothly. We really appreciated the attention to detail throughout.

 

We left the planning in your capable hands and were very happy with how it all turned out. The camps in Botswana were a very nice contrast to one another (ie. Savanna-marshland-water areas). We found the staff from managers to custodial to wait staff all professional and courteous giving us personal attention and going out of their ways, at times, to see that we were comfortable.

 

Our guides (Luke, Moyo and Moss) were all knowledgeable on a variety of topics from animals to plants to the ecosystem in general and even astronomy. At Kwetsani, Moyo gave us all a power point slide show one evening which was a wonderful overview of how the Okavango Delta came to be.

 


 

Our accommodations were more than adequate in all camps. What a surprise to discover a hair dryer at Mombo! We were very comfortable in all environments. The investment in the use of solar energy is consistent with the “eco” concept and good planning for future needs.

 

The animals? Well, what can I say?! They were the main reason we went and we saw a wonderful variety. Of course, everything was new to us so that we were thrilled even after the thousandth impala. We loved the varieties of trees and plants—especially that most interesting one at Mombo with the champagne glasses dangling from it and a side sprout of a champagne bottle. All animal were quite courteous and photogenic (except for some baboons at Kwetsani who left a couple unsavory deposits on our deck table and outdoor shower.)

 

It truly was a trip of a lifetime for us. We so appreciate your planning and arrangements---A+!

 

Most sincerely,

 

Barbara and Kirk Eidenmuller, May 2016

 

 

 

The Best of Southern Africa

 

Words cannot describe the amazing trip you planned for us. Your tag line states “For the safari of a life time” and it is true!

 

I travel a lot and this has been my favorite trip to date! The trip was so easy and smooth due to all the people that transported us from location to location.

 

I have so many highlights including the following:

 

• Rob Byram couldn't have given us a better tour of Cape Town and the surrounding area. He was informative and fun!
 
• Cheetah Plains Safari Camp was amazing! Everyone there had a visible passion for being there and were so welcoming! The guide Andrew was a phenomenal guide who taught me more in 3 days than I thought I could learn. ..I would have loved more time with him! His love of animals was addicting. The rooms were so clean, comfy and felt like home while we were there. The food was delicious! Chef made local dishes which were so much fun to eat and so yummy!
 
• Cynthia in Victoria Falls was so fun. She helped me understand the culture of Zimbabwe and see the beautiful falls!
 
• Everyone at Muchenje Safari Lodge was very kind. Paul was a wonderful guide who was extremely informative! Sy's boat cruise was an amazing end to our trip.

 

We had no glitches and had the best trip thanks to all your preparation!

 

Thank you!

 

Jean Kostka and Meg Kefaloonitis, May 2016

 

 

 

Adventure to Kapama Game Reserve, Cape Town and Victoria Falls

 

Kyle,

 

From start to finish it could not have been better. After the first flight it was nice to be greeted right at the gate and escorted trough the entry process. All escorts were very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful.

 

Kapama Buffalo Camp was beautiful and our guide F. W was excellent. He had as much if not more enthusiasm as us every time we spotted an animal.

 

The Welgelegen Guest House in Cape Town was great and so was our guide Lucia. The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge was a great way to end our wonderful trip.

 

We can’t wait to return to Africa. Thank you for a wonderful trip.

 

Doug Mutton, May 2016

 

 

 

Safari to Botswana and South Africa

 

Our trip was awesome thanks to you. Plans flowed flawlessly as we were met always (as promised) by helpful, courteous and knowledgeable people at each step of our African journey. The accommodations you helped me choose were excellent.

 

I will recommend your services to all my friends. I want to thank you for your superb arrangements and planning. We could just relax and enjoy every moment because we knew that you had planned our trip down to every detail. Thank you.

 

Trudy Sack, May 2016

 

 

 

Best of Wilderness Safaris Botswana Flying Safari

 

Thank you so much Szilvia! We had a wonderful time in Africa. Everything went smoothly, all your planning was well worth it. We arrived in Johannesburg early and were met and transported through customs easily. The trip to the hotel was quick and we were able to relax a little that evening. The hotel was very convenient, nicer than we had imagined. The restaurant was very nice, we had a perfect stay there at the Intercontinental Hotel.

 

The flight to Victoria Falls was easy, our time there was very relaxing. The Victoria Falls Hotel was what we imagined, the Stables Wing rooms were very nice. We'd stay there again. We had a nice dinner at the hotel that night, and the breakfast buffet exceeded expectations. The Wilderness Safari people were excellent. We had a great tour of the falls with Precious, our driver during the trip Abiata was very entertaining. Everything went smoothly. The sunset cruise was outstanding, we had the best pictures of hippos on our trip there. We got to see our first elephant on the banks of the Zambezi as well.

 

Abiata drove us the next morning to Botswana, we smoothly went through customs, etc. The driver took us to the airport, and the Wilderness people at Kasane again got us situated easily onto our flight to Duma Tau. We really enjoyed our time at the camp. The people were friendly and the game viewing was excellent. We really wanted to see the wild dogs and were not disappointed…Godfrey was our guide and went above and beyond in trying to make sure we saw everything we wanted to. We wished we had booked a 3rd night there.

 


 

Our flight to Vumbura went well, the camp's views were breathtaking. Our tent was really luxurious, the food excellent. Z was our guide, his knowledge helped us in everything from tracking to photography. We saw the leopards, hyenas and again wild dogs.

 

Finally Mombo, we arrived to Little Mombo where our guide named Tebla picked us up at the airport. We preferred Little Mombo, enjoying the quieter camp. The staff catered to anything we wanted. They arranged a Birthday lunch for Rich in the bush that was amazing...

 

Needless to say, it was an unforgettable experience and we are planning to return there after it is redone. We again were lucky to be able to see all the game we wanted, including lions and a white rhino.

 

It really was a trip of a lifetime. Rich is already looking into returning in 3 or 4 years, possibly to Zimbabwe and part of Botswana. We wanted to thank you again for all your recommendations. I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but I tried to hit the high points.

 

Susan and Rich Chernick, April 2016

 

 

 

Big Five in South Africa’s Private Game Reserve

 

Hi Kyle/All,

 

I wanted to report back that we had a wonderful trip to Victoria Falls and Tanda Tula. All of the transitions, rides, and reservations worked out perfectly.

 

I found Victoria Falls powerful and a wonder of nature. Ester was a wonderful guide. She ensured we got there in time to see the rainbows.

 

I was totally surprised when our sunset cruise on the Zambezi River turned up elephants feeding on the shore and a hippo family in the river.

 

It was a good taste of what was to come on the safari. The safari was even better for me since I have a soft spot for the animals. The theme for me was seeing mothers and babies nursing. We saw this with 2 giraffes, 2 rhinos, and 2 impala. We saw plenty of animals and the surprise for me was that we went off road and got really close to the animals. Last time I went on safari in Tanzania and Kenya we had to stay in the roads. The difference was that we saw thousands of animals then, but saw animals up close and personal this time. It was great.

 

Tanda Tula is a wonderful camp - accommodations were amazing, and all of what goes into a great stay. The staff and food are wonderful. They invited us for a morning drive on our last day which wasn’t on our schedule but we had time for given our flight schedule. That was the day we saw a final round of great sites.

 


 

So, thank you for a great trip. I found it so easy making the plans. I think we had 1 phone call and perhaps 2 email rounds. I’ll be back again next time I plan a trip to Africa. My trip 6 years ago and this one have been the best 2 vacations I ever gone on!!

 

Cheers,

 

Janet Evans, Apr 2016

 






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