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Alison is back from the We Are Africa conference in Cape Town

“What an amazing event! Where leaders in the conservation field are recognized as individuals whose tireless passion and dedication to changing perceptions of the continent are shaping Africa’s future for the better”.


I was personally able to spend time with Dereck and Beverly Joubert, award-winning filmmakers, conservationists and National Geographic Explorers-In-Residence, who have been filming, researching andexploring Africa for over 30 years. They have created over 25 films for National Geographic, focusing on Africa’s wildlife with strong conservation messages at their core. One of their most valued accolades was receiving the Presidential Order of Meritorious Service from the President of Botswana in 2011. In recent years they have expanded their conservation outreach through Great Plains Conservation. Dereck is CEO and together with their business partners, under the banner of “Conservation Tourism”, strives to secure African landscapes of a scale large enough to protect its resident and seasonal wildlife. Through Great Plains Conservation and the Great Plains Foundation, they travel around the world speaking to worldwide audiences on conservation and are actively involved in a host of innovative initiatives to save Africa’s wildlife and uplift, educate and care for the surrounding communities, including • The Big Cats Initiative with National Geographic • Big Cats Caring for Communities • Predator Work and Compensation project – Kenya • Land for Lions – Botswana • Ride for Lions – Kenya • Maasai Olympics – Kenya • Rhinos Without Borders – Botswana.


I also spent one-on-one time with Beks Ndlovu of African Bush Camps hiking in the lower slopes of the Table Mountain National Reserve discussing the conservation initiatives he has set up in Zimbabwe and Botswana.


Szilvia Hegyi and Rhoda Barnett in South Africa and Mozambique

AAC Staff in Cape Town, South Africa


Greetings from Cape Town! Szilvia Hegyi (Senior Safari Consultant) and Rhoda Barnett (Senior Sales Assistant) are currently visiting Africa’s most beautiful city and exploring the hottest hotels, tours and restaurants. They have enjoyed staying at Tinstwalo – which sits perched on the bay with stunning views. A trip up Table Mountain is a must and they were blessed with gorgeous weather.


Stay tuned as Szilvia and Rhoda continue to the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve for the thrill of Big Five game viewing as well as visits to several new camps and lodges.





Updates from Szilvia and Rhoda safari in South Africa


And the adventure continues for Szilvia Hegyi and Rhoda Barnett, our intrepid AAC staff, as they travel to Tintswalo Safari Lodge. Located on the Manyeleti Private Game Reserve in South Africa, they have enjoyed Big Five game viewing, great accommodations and delicious cuisine. Tintswalo offers wonderful value and includes nice size rooms, “loos with a view” and private plunge pools. The expansive shaded deck is the idealplace for to enjoy lunch and some close encounters with visiting game.


Our team reported fantastic game viewing including 3 sightings of rhinos, active lions: 5 female with 5 seven months old cubs hanging out then drinking which was great, then to top the morning a pack of 12 wild dogs who our guide hopes will go on a hunt tonight. And the best part – they saw almost no other vehicles!


Stay tuned as Szilvia and Rhoda continue their adventure in South Africa.





Paradise Found – Azura Resort on Mozambique’s Benguerra Island


It is the end of the adventure for our staff members, Szilvia Hegyi and Rhoda Barnett. They have enjoyed the last two days at the stunning Azura Resort on Benguerra Island, Mozambique. Describing it as “paradise,” they have experienced stunning beaches, decadent accommodations and delicious tropical cuisine. The team at Azura is delighted to arrange a host of activities from beachfront barbeques to snorkeling, village visits and dhow cruises.


The resort is easily accessible from South Africa’s Mpumalanga Airport (the jumping off point for the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserves) to Mozambique’s Vilanculos Airport and makes it the perfect compliment to a Big Five safari. A short helicopter flight is a scenic introduction to your phenomenal stay at Azura.







Kyle Witten in Botswana

Botswana – December 2015


I love taking someone on safari for the first time. My family has never shown much interest in traveling to Africa – boggles my mind but it’s true. I asked my Dad back in February – “Would you like to go on safari?” His response was – “Well I guess I’d like to go before I croak.” So I had us booked on a safari that week. I planned for six nights in Botswana – a quick trip but a great introduction to the beauty and wilderness of Africa. Now all he had to do was wait a few months. Before you we knew it December was here and we checked in for our flights. We met each other in Atlanta and jumped on the 14.5 hour nonstop Delta flight to Johannesburg.




On arrival we were met and escorted through immigration and then handed off to the transfer agent for The Residence. The Mercedes van was great and it had Wifi! Perfect to log in and send a quick email home to let everyone know had arrived safely.



We stopped on the way at Nelson Mandela’s former home and took a picture of the rocks painted with messages that are placed around the trees on the sidewalk.


The Residence is one of my favorite hotels in Johannesburg. This is a small boutique hotel with the incredible food in a quiet and relaxed atmosphere. They recently opened five new suites with separate living rooms, private decks and a hot tub, large bath with tub and walk in shower.


Dinner was fantastic! I had the springbok Carpaccio (again) and Dad had the braised lamb shank. We toasted to Africa and I sipped a wonderful Stellenbosch sauvignon blanc.


We were both exhausted and headed straight to bed. I never sleep well the first night so was up at 4am ready to go – but the transfer vehicle was scheduled for 9:15am and breakfast was served at 7am.


We kept breakfast simple – no full stomach on the charter flights – it was going to be hot and bumpy! The next morning we transferred back to the airport in The Residence’s Mercedes S550 complete with WiFi – again!


SA8300 still leaves from gate A27 so after some confusion in the airport and almost going through domestic security we found the right area and made your way through the tourist shops and down to the gate. December is low season so the flight was not full - maybe 20 or so people.





We arrived in Maun and they have updated the immigration process. They now scan the passport instead you having to handwrite a form and they hand write visa! Welcome to the 21st century. We had about a 40 minute wait until our schedule charter flight to Kwetsani.


The plane touched down at Mombo, then Vumbura and final stop was the Jao airstrip.


The game drive from the airstrip to camp is about 40 minutes along sandy paths that are slow going. The heat of the day had set in topping around 100 degrees.


I was thrilled to meet Charmain and Dan Myburg – Kwetsani’s heart and soul – wonderful managers.


Dad and I were greeted at our front door of our tent by a very large elephant below the elevated board walk. I will always remember the look on Dad’s face.



By the time we got to camp (around 4:30pm) the game viewing vehicles were already gone, so we got the safety briefing, check in process, and quick cup of tea and we were off to hook up with our guide on the afternoon drive.


Our three nights and two full days at Kwetsani yielded lion, hundreds and hundreds of red lechwe, elephant, baboon, zebra and a fleeting glimpse of a very skittish leopard. Each night we were lulled to sleep by the sound of lion calling in the distance.




There is not much water left a Kwetsani but did manage a brief mokoro excursion so dad could have the experience. We spotted three different species of reed frog. The lack of water meant driving to Hunda island to do the majority of our game drives. The drive is almost 2 hours – each way. The camp uses a boat to get to the island when the floods are in and the commute is about 20 minutes.


Mokoro in the last remnants of the delta floods



Dad’s first game drive at Kwetsani


 Our next stop was Little Mombo – I saved the best for last and it lived up to its reputation again! This was my fifth visit to Mombo and it really does feel like coming home. The camp has a worn in feel and it makes you feel so relaxed.



We saw black and white rhino on our first afternoon game drive. I was thrilled to see the rhino relocation project is working and they are relaxing in the area and they were very calm around our vehicle.



No night drives at Mombo so were back in camp just after sunset around 7:00pm.


The next morning were up at 5am and ready for the morning game drive. Breakfast was simple with cereals, yogurts, meats and cheeses and freshly baked croissants or muffins.


The rains are late this year and the landscape looked like October - - dry and brown. We did get a few downpours on one morning drive and the day you could see fresh green leaves popping up.


December is all about the babies in the bush. Little warthog piglets, baby impala, young Tsetse and wildebeest and a few buffalo babies.




One of the many highlights of the safari including the Mombo bush brunch was the surprise helicopter flight. Dad had never been on a helicopter and always wanted to I discovered. The flight was 30 minutes and we spotted lion, elephant, giraffe all going about their day as we soared above. The low level flying along the channel was a lot of fun.


Mombo Bush Brunch!



Helicopter flight over Mombo – doors off!


The icing on the cake was wild dog on our very last game drive. We were out on a game drive and the camp radioed that naturally the dogs were running through camp. Knowing that wild dog were on my wish list they put the chef in a vehicle and had him follow the dogs and keep in radio contact until we could spot him.


We were rewarded with a wonderful sighting right as they started to lay down and rest. If you have ever track wild do you know they can move quick, fast and far!


Sleeping peacefully on a Mombo morning!


Dad and I curtailing made memories, shared laughs and had an amazing albeit quick safari to Botswana Should you ever get the chance to travel with a parent on safari do it! They are memories that will last a lifetime.

Botswana Travel Trade Expo 2015 and Kwando Camp Safari – Lynne Glasgow

02 Dec – Kasane – BTTE Opening Ceremony and business sessions

The opening ceremony was held at Sebona Nature and Recreational Park, and attended by the Botswana Minister for Tourism, who happens to be the Botswana Presidents brother. He gave an excellent speech, explaining the Botswana Governments position on Zero tolerance to poaching (shoot to kill!) and the complete ban on hunting. (This ban includes the Bushmen, who have all been re-settled into villages, and get government assistance for living costs). 


The business sessions for the rest of the day consisted of four 1 hour seminars on different areas of the country: The Okavango Delta; Chobe National Park, Linyanti & Savuiti; Central Kgalagadi & Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park; Makgadikgadi & Nxai Pans and the Tuli Block. Each session had speakers on the area, followed by questions and answers. Sessions ended at 3:30pm. I signed up for the Chobe River boat cruise, which was pleasant, with my fellow Africa Adventure colleague Frank to share the traditional sundowner.



03 Dec – Kasane – BTTE Business sessions

The sessions consisted of ‘round robin’ meetings with various suppliers, lodge operators and ground handlers. Sessions ended at 3:30pm, and I joined the Desert & Delta groups on their sundowner cruise – second time lucky – it stayed dry. Dinner and overnight at Chobe Game Lodge. The new rooms at Chobe Game Lodge are looking very good.


Kwando Camps Safari


04 Dec Kwando Lagoon

This morning I bid farewell to Kasane, and joined my travelling companions on a four night post BTTE safari with Kwando, led by our Reservations Consultant, Mox Dintwa, who is a delightful 31 year old, with a Business degree from Botswana University. All Kwando Camps operate game activities with a guide and a tracker. Camps are managed by Botswana staff. Six guests per vehicle, with the middle seat empty.


Kwando Safaris charter all of their flights with Moremi Air. They have a new fleet of two Cessna 206 and three 8 seater Airvans, and operate them usually with the back 2 seats out. They have great safety features, including crumple-zones, so no luggage can be stored under the seats. There is plenty of space at the back for hand-luggage.




We flew from Kasane to Kwando Lagoon Camp, which is very close to the Namibian border, north of the Selinda Reserve. The flight took approx 50 minutes, and took just 15 minutes to get to camp, where I shared the family tent with one of the group.





As the name suggests, the Camp is located on a lagoon, with a big hippo poulation!



Our afternoon game drive was not hugely productive from an animal perspective, as the morning rain storm had scattered the larger herds. We did however start our birding education.



We did see some great wildebeest, and giraffe with young, along with many, many hippos!


05 Dec Kwando Kwara

Up at 5am for coffee and a light breakfast (porridge, corn flakes, muffins, tea and coffee) before heading off on a game drive, ending at the airstrip. Our guides (Hobbs and PJ) worked hard to find us an impressive sighting to remember the area by, and found us a beautiful leopard!




Our journey continued with a 30 minute flight to the Kwara Concession, and Little Kwara Camp. This was by far my favorite location and camp. There was a lovely vibe in the camp, the staff were all terrific and the location is fabulous. Boating is offered from both Kwara and Little Kwara. Kwara Camp is going to be completely renovated in 2016.


Our afternoon activity included a boat trip (possibly the last boat trip until the water levels start to rise) to the heronry, where huge amounts of birds managed to perch and nest on the thinnest of branches!




On the way back to Camp, we had a close encounter with giraffe, elephant, and a mating pair of lion, watched over by the brother…. Ready to step in if required!




06 Dec Kwando Nxai Pan


The early morning at Kwara brought a strange front passing through, with a very dramatic sky.



On the game drive to the airstrip, we saw some very interesting birds:




And also some babies:




We had the inevitable flat tire en route to the airstrip, just as we were following a cheetah, stalking prey:



Our plane was waiting to whisk us off to Nxai Pan, within the greater Makgadikgadi National Park. It was still very dry, with just a few sprinkles of rain so far, and the Pan was arid. It is hard to believe life can be sustained in such conditions, but large herds of springbok were seen. Seven zebra stayed behind at the end of the prvious years rains, and are eagerly awaiting the return of the herds, as soon as the rains begin and the pans fill up again. 


A film crew is busy making a documentary of the lion pride and how they adapt to the conditions. We saw their vehicle and large camera lens focused on the lioness and her two cubs, as we set off in the early morning to visit Baines Baobabs, a good two hour drive from camp. The film crew were in exactly the same spot, six hours later, on our return!


Baines Baobabs sit overlooking Kudiakam Pan


We saw a small pack of wild dog on the main road, just after leaving the Nxai Pan Gate. Desperate for shade, they squabbled over the coolest spot, scratching at the sandy surface to find cooler earth beneath.



Some elephant found their way to the waterhole outside camp, to share the late afternoon sundowners.



All too soon, it was time to head back to Maun, and the reality of home. Until the next time!

The Colors and the Unfolding Drama of Botswana by Frank Dix


Dramatic sunsets, exciting wildlife and wonderful people, I expected Botswana to be beautiful and diverse but had no idea that this magical place would far exceed my expectations.


Each camp and region has a different vegetation and atmosphere with wildlife patterns driven by the weather and in particular the rainfall or in our case the lack of it. To experience the contrast of white sand to red sand and green vegetation to lifeless bushes and blue skies to layers of orange and red is a wonderful opportunity for which I am grateful.


After landing in Maun, the gateway city to the Okavango Delta, I took a short Safari Air charter flight to Xakanaxa Camp in the Moremi Game Reserve for my first night’s stay. I thoroughly enjoyed my first game drive and was fortunate to see a black mane lion eating a buffalo and then I enjoyed refreshments on a lake with hippos grunting while the sun set.





The camp is in a prime location providing authentic, year round land and water based activities. The tents were large with a great viewing deck over the Khwai River and that night I fell asleep to the sounds of hippo grazing on the shore. I slept like a log. It was great to be back in Africa.


After a morning game drive, I visited Okuti Safari Camp with its unique design and style of tents and then on to Camp Moremi with its rolling green laws and elevated viewing deck on the river.





After a 50-minute scenic charter flight I arrived at Leroo La Tau which is located on the Boteti River in the southern portion of the Makgadikgadi National Park. I was amazed at how dry the area was due to the fact the rains had not yet arrived. The river was a magnet for thirsty animals with plenty of zebra, wildebeest, elephant and some lions.





After a morning game drive and breakfast we headed to Khumanga Village to learn more about local culture, housing, farming, and the school and clinic before heading to the airstrip for the charter flight to the Okavango Delta. After a boat ride through the channels of the Delta I arrived at Camp Okavango for a visit in order to see the revamp in progress. There are major exiting changes taking place with some beautiful rooms that have already been completed. I look forward to the new camp opening in April 2016.




How thrilling it was to go boating to Xugana Island Lodge, I absolutely loved it. There were so many different channels to choose from and I wondered how the guide knew which way to go. Before arriving at the island we stopped to experience a mokoro ride. The mokoro is a traditional canoe commonly used to get around the shallow waters of the Okavango Delta which glides silently through the waterways as the poler keeps an eye out for birds and animals to show you. This was very peaceful and tranquil and I was happy to see my first sitatunga which is an amphibious antelope.





For sunset I was treated to a trip on the floating barge. We returned in the evening to the sound of lions calling each other on Pine Island. In the evening after a delicious dinner accompanied by entertainment I retired to my room and fell asleep to the sound of Kudu browsing outside my room.


The next day we headed to Pine Island for a leisurely bush walk accompanied by two guides. The walk was very educational and we enjoyed seeing impala, warthog and even elephant on foot.




Next on the agenda was the Savute Safari lodge which is on the Savute Channel built under ancient camel thorn trees. The incredible sunset in Savute with the surrounding wildlife was breathtaking as was the up close and personal wildlife on our game drives. Here were lucky enough to see three lions of the famous Suvuti Marsh Lions. A large pride that learnt to skillfully hunt elephants at night.




The next day I transferred on the charter flight to Kasane Airport and then did a game drive to Chobe Game Lodge. The lodge overlooks the Chobe River with a beautifully designed boardwalk with private viewing and dining areas. There are many intimate and peaceful spaces in which to relax. I got to experience a game drive on one of the silent CO2 emission free electric game vehicles. I also had the opportunity to do a sunset cruise down the Chobe river on their new solar powered boat. I was also impressed by the Back of House tour where we were taught all about the eco-friendly and green initiatives that have been put into place at the lodge.





Some say that all good things must come to an end. Well although this amazing trip is over I will always have the memories to keep for a lifetime. This was truly an incredible journey and I look very forward to returning to Botswana again.


Our V.P. of Operations reporting his 25th anniversary trip



Bill Rivard has been sending well wishes from Victoria Falls, the Zambezi Queen and the Okavango Delta at Jao Camp. He has been leading a trip as he celebrates 25 years with Africa Adventure Company - amazing!




Sharing some further pictures from Jao Camp – first landing on an airstrip for a few in the group! Enjoying the ambience of the camp including some great lion sightings. The day temperatures has meant time relaxing poolside. Onto Cape Town next.





Oh the joys of perfect weather in the fairest Cape. Bill has been signing off with an exclamation on dining at some of the finest restaurants including The Flagship, Overture and The Test Kitchen. They are enjoying the beaches and Whale safari in Hermanus staying at the stunning Mosaic Sanctuary.





Q&A with Mark Nolting – What’s New, and What’s Ahead, for AAC’s CEO

This past summer was an especially exciting one for AAC, with numerous awards and personal bests. Travel journalist and AAC blogger Melissa Klurman caught up with Mark Nolting to get his take on an epic summer season, what’s new in the world of safaris, and what’s on Mark’s radar heading into 2016:


Q: First, congratulations Mark – being named to both Travel & Leisure's World’s Best Awards and A List of Travel Agents in one summer season – that’s quite an accomplishment!

MN: Thank you – but it’s a group effort – everyone on our safari consulting team at AAC worked incredibly hard, and for a long time, for these achievements. I’m so proud of our senior consultants so an applause to Kyle, Elena, Szilvia, Lynne and Alison.


Q: I heard you were in Africa recently -- Where did you travel this summer?

MN: I came back from an amazing trip that took me to South Africa, Victoria Falls, and Botswana. It was so encouraging to hear how hard the people on the ground go about their work each day in the conservation of their natural wildlife resources.


Q: What were some of the highlights of your travels?

MN: The newly redone Singita Ebony Camp was a highlight – I got to spend 4 nights (a real treat for me) at this fabulous lodge (it’s a stunner) and I had time with the owner, Luke Bailes, which made it a very special visit as well. I also was there for the changeover of the guides at the end of the month and spend some quality time meeting them all.



Q: What was your top takeaway from the “new” Ebony?

MN: The family units really stand out, they’re going to be great for our clients: there are two, 2-bedroom suites – and if a family takes over both units, they have exclusive usage of the huge lounge, private bar, and private pool. It’s really something for that stand out family destination.


Q: Then where did your African journey take you?

MN: I flew up to Livingstone and Victoria Falls and visited Tongabezi Lodge – they’ve been upgrading the property and it looks stunning – there’s a new lounge on the river; the Nut House, that was really wonderful; and the Dog House, which has a living room and two bedrooms as well as private pool, an ideal fit for families. Hard to believe I was there for my honeymoon 23 years ago just after it had opened! 


Q: And then I heard you had a full itinerary in Botswana?

MN: Yes, I was at four different camps run by four different companies – plus I visited a number of other properties in between. I was busy, and thrived on all the exciting projects on the go. Botswana certainly leads the way in Sustainable Tourism many of their camps.  


Q: Can you give us the quick report on where you stayed?

MN: First up was Great Plains’ Zarafa – a fantastic camp run by the Jouberts' who have a history of running top-notch camps.

After that it was Baines' and Stanley's, Sanctuary Camps, where there’s an elephant interaction program. And then on to Sandibe, part of &Beyond, which has air conditioning and private pools – it was very comfortable and very well done -  again TOP CLASS. 

I also visited Abu Camp, a Wilderness property. In addition to their elephants (they’re known for their elephant back safaris), I thought the game viewing, both by mokoro and vehicle, was outstanding. The sister camp Seba is a hidden gem.




Q: You’ve experienced some many great guides and wildlife sightings – any on this trip that was new to you?

MN: Actually, I had two sightings that that were completely new to me! At Sandibe, there were two hippos at night having a territorial fight to the death, which was just amazing. And at Zarafa, a young bull elephant, threw a temper tantrum like none I’ve ever seen; flailing so much his front feet came off the ground –it was quite a sight, very funny. He just didn’t quit going on and on, I’ve never seen anything like it.

I made the usual great connections with brilliant guides and use these relationships when planning my extraordinary privately guides trips.


Q: Favorite moment?

MN: In Botswana, a helicopter flight transfer – it compares to that first balloon safari. I really loved flying low over the delta waterways– and half way, we stopped on an island for a Moet & Chandon champagne toast.


Q: And what about for your next safari? Where do you think you'll go?

MN: Kenya – I have the new Angama Mara opened by Nicky and Steve Fitzgerald (of old CCAfrica and &Beyond) on my list. As well as revisiting Mara Plains and Asilia Naibosho to see the results of their ongoing conservancy work. The Mara is definitely trending for 2016. 


Q: What’s on the horizon for 2016?

MN: AAC will be celebrating 30 years in 2016 – February to be exact. I know Alison’s working on something for that, an "Out of Africa" party perhaps? And then there has been a number of ideas to mark the occasion that we’re still floating: new editions of the African Safari Field Guide, Africa's Top Wildlife Countries and the incredible Safari Planning Map; and an AAC led safari by Alison and I (first time ever).



Welcome back Monica!

We are thrilled to share some photos from Monica’s Family Safari to Tanzania. She visited Ngorongoro, central and northern Serengeti and Ruaha.



In the words of Monica’s family friends, Ann and Walter, who were travel companions through Tanzania:


“Every day was so special and we cannot really say what we liked best.


The wildlife and the scenery in Tanzania are incredibly impressive and amazing! Game viewing was way above our expectation and it was worth every second to get up early in the morning! This was just absolute perfect.We were also amazed about your knowledge of all the birds and wildlife and you are such a good observer!


Now we are downloading the pictures........thousands........................and are enjoying every moment of this trip over and over again....the wildlife, the scenery, the balloon ride, numbers of breathtaking sunsets and sundawns, the walking safari, the wonderful and friendly staff at the camps, taking care of us and cooking all the delicious meals, the fine wine and drinks and the great guides.


In summary it was this exotic nature and the spectales which were presented to us day and night at the Ngorongoro crater, at the Ruaha National Parc and when we moved through the Serengeti, in the wake of the huge herds of animals, we drifted, felt the freedom and the power of nature, because we were part of it!That was our trip to Tanzania, a fantastic country, that impressed us deeply and will remain in our memories.”


Welcome back Jessica!

We are thrilled to share some photos from Jessica's Best of Southern Africa Family Safari. She visited Cape Town, Mala Mala and Mashatu.



We are thrilled to share some photos from Jessica’s Best of Southern Africa Family Safari. She visited Cape Town, Mala Mala and Mashatu.



Mark Nolting in Botswana

Elephant Whisperer - Mark Nolting has been in Botswana these past 10-days exploring new camps and areas. One of his highlights was his close-up encounters with the elephant families at Stanley’s and Abus camps.


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