Client Trip Reports – January – March 2016 (Southern Africa)
“Bespoke Namibia Spectacular” to Sossusvlei, Damarland and Skeleton Coast
I wanted to get back to you with a short review of our safari to Namibia. My daughter and I have a wonderful time and everything went perfect. All the logistics and information you provided were right on.
The itinerary we had developed was very good for the time frame we were limited to and I think the order was perfect for traveling through Namibia. I was very impressed with Wilderness safaris – their camps were outstanding and the flights all were on plan to get us to the appropriate camps.
Soussusvlei – our guide Chris met us and took us to Little Kuala where the assistant manager reviewed camp with us. Very beautiful and great accommodations. They were prepared and offered us lunch and then we met up with our guide around 4:30/5 for first sundowner drive (which we had every evening while in Namibia). Chris was our guide for our 3 days and a great guide. Little Kuala met its description and was fabulous. Outdoor shower, AC, hairdryer, plugs in room, fridge , coffee/tea maker, private plunge pool with very large private patio all overlooking the water hole. Loved the room and the lodge layout. We had a wonderful bush dinner with friends we met on sundowner. We even had the staff singing and we all danced around after dinner. Also very good choice of food at this dinner and very good South African wines at all camps…
It is very sandy there with the wind blowing sand all the time. Best hint I had reading blogs was to bring baggies to store camera/glasses.
As offseason, ended up having private drives with our guide Chris and it was perfect. He climbed Dune 45 with us (took our pictures), gave us great information on the dunes and animals and did a great job showing us all the highlights of the area. Very knowledgeable and professional guide. He even (as he had background in restaurant service) chilled our wine glasses at sundowners. We decided to take balloon ride and it was worth the money. The pilot takes you up fairly high and then back low to the desert—great picture opportunity. Glad we did it on the 2nd day as could see the dunes from a different perspective. The company running the balloon ride is doing a great thing with operating a school for locals who work in area and even picking up the children and transporting them to school. Instead of tipping him ands staff, he had container for school.
If we had not done the balloon ride think 3 nights would have been too long…
Damaraland—Chris took us to airstrip to wait for our plane to take us to Damaraland. (Note- the guides really take care of everything for your trip, to coming by tent for wake up calls to walking back at night to tent, handling luggage and waiting at airports until after takeoff. They suggest times to have breakfast and timeframes for days schedule so we felt like all we had to do was just show up. Being an independent traveler, was a change to have someone else in charge of everything -was nice and made week very relaxing.
…The staff at Damaraland Camp were friendly, particularly James the manger. We felt like he was welcoming us to his home and he was always around t meet us when we came back…Our guide was Teek and he is walking instructor on the geology of land. We caught up with friends we had met at Little Kuala and had fun evening at Boma for dinner. Saw lots of elephants the next day and Teek found them first so we had time to be by ourselves following them around. later, quite a few other vehicles showed up so we toured more of the area looking for zebras (no luck). Our sundowner had a full car load and as soon as we started Teek got message that there had been a zebra kill by group of lions. He asked if we all wanted to go and we said of course and held on as we drove very fast to get there… our group bonded so was nice at dinner at one big table to have great conversations and exchange experiences. It was interesting as one of the staff would translate menu in “click” language at dinners. They also had a very nice bush breakfast on a hill near the camp…
Skeleton Coast/Hoanib- Loved this camp!!!!! This was such great camp and experience- it was highlight of trip (2nd would be the sand dunes). I can’t say enough about the staff, accommodations, and activities. Clement, the manager was the best we experienced. He was so involved and also there to talk with (or pour wine) and make us feel welcome. He was always there and we felt like special friends staying at his home. He set the tone but everyone we met at the camp gave us the same positive feeling. We were in the farthest tent and the views were amazing and we had feeling of being on another planet. The setting is so amazing. All the meals were excellent and we had a great guide Elias. He was so enjoyable to be with and we spent a lot of time out looking. Think we had longer drives than the other 2 camps. He was very knowledgeable and showed us even the very small animals (spiders) but also saw giraffes, elephants, oryx, seals, springbok, and a brown haired hyena walking across from water hole while we were having breakfast.
We were very fortunate to have time with MC and to hear of her work with the brown haired hyenas plus Dr. Phillip Stander was there. One evening he spotted a leopard stalking a giraffe with a baby and all of us went out and were able to see the leopard. Then Dr. Stander came back and sat around the fire pit having a glass of wine and talking about his work. What a wonderful opportunity we had. The next evening Elias let us stay out during our sundowner to watch the mother giraffe over the deceased baby and observe all the animals that were trying to scavenge.
We also enjoyed the trip to the coast and was surprised how much we saw on the drive over to coast. They had a wonderful lunch set up on the beach that was great and the pilots who flew us back managed to find group of elephants that we flew over. It is amazing how the camp operates on solar power only and with food, water, supplies all trucked in. It was a 5* experience. They showed the movie that Nat. Geographic made about Dr Standers 17 year work with the mother lion and the 5 lions. I have been finding on line other videos of his as was so impressive for conservation and protection of the desert lions.
In summary, we had a wonderful trip and I would recommend your organization and also Wilderness Safaris. In fact, I want to go to Botswana and stay at Wilderness camps. While expectations were that we would not see many animals, knowing it is a desert environment we were very fortunate and I feel saw a lot. They had rain the month before so that helped as many animals in the riverbed. And our guides were very good. Having been in Kenya on safari, this was such a neat change as felt like we were only ones in the parks or reserves. We would drive for hours and not see other cars. So different from Kenya. Plus as most people were also staying at the different camps you ran into them multiple times-either at a camp or airport. All the information and documentation you provided were valuable and everything we needed. (The camps did such a good job with laundry we realized we had over-packed.)
Thanks for your planning and support and this was a trip my daughter and I will remember for a very long time.
Sydney Bland, March 2016
Exploring Botswana’s Okavango Delta and Linyanti Reserve
You and AAC did an outstanding job with our first safari. Thanks so much for the wonderful and careful planning. We had so many fascinating experiences in the bush, and we found our accommodations superb! We even did some of our game rides with clients of yours from Canada! Small world–a lovely couple.
The guides at the lodges were excellent! Duke, at Chitabe, was especially interesting and most accommodating.
Again, thank you for your professionalism and topnotch plans for our trip!
Mary Campbell and Stewart Brockett, March 2016
Desert and Delta Safari to Botswana and Victoria Falls
Hi Alison, we had a wonderful time on our African adventure——thank you and your team for all your help! Everything worked just beautifully!
Every transfer and road trip was seamless and on time. The drivers shared lots of history and stories. The camps were just so comfortable and wonderful. We enjoyed each one of the three camps for itself and its particular environment. The camp managers and staff were so friendly and knowledgeable, also very accommodating and caring. Every need was met. The three of us all felt the same positive way about the camps. The small plane flights in between the camps were totally fun. Each pilot was so personable and made the short hops fun.
Duma Tau—Probably our most favorite was so interesting and exciting. Dave was an especially skilled people person and his staff reflected his enthusiasm and energy. It was a lovely site and so beautifully set up. Game viewing was exceptional and “Moke” really knocked himself off to ensure that we saw as much as possible of the landscape and animal life. The boat trip and lecture about Botswana were a definite highlight.
Kalahari Plains—very nice with an equally caring staff. The opportunity to interact with the Bushman was very special. Andy was also an excellent safari leader. He made sure we saw and learned as much as possible.
Kwetsani—exceptionally beautiful camp site—tree house effect. We all had a wonderful time there and would have liked another day just to sit around and enjoy the room, deck and view. Moyo also was an excellent safari leader. We saw a considerable amount of animals at this site also.
We loved the small sites, and the restricted number for Land Rovers per animal viewing. This fact more than anything ensured an excellent experience. The food in the three camps we visited was fresh, tasty, varied and plentiful.
We so enjoyed the Victoria Falls Hotel…also could have used another day here to have more fully utilized the facility. The Falls walk leader, Esther, was definitely a wealth of knowledge. What a joy. We definitely would recommend the helicopter ride, the 25 minute one.
Four Seasons in Johannesburg turned out to be a smart thing to add to the trip. The ride to the hotel gave us a few minutes just to see the town and some of the neighborhoods. The hotel was, of course, very lovely and a relaxing way to end our trip.
We felt that the entire experience was excellent. The organization and experience of your company and Wilderness Safari is impressive. We have a great respect for the Wilderness Safari Company, and the work it preforms. From camp to camp we heard others sharing compliments for the company. Their work was seamless and very impressive. They appear to have highly trained staff members in the various job categories. Staff members certainly seemed to enjoy their jobs and were very good ambassadors for their country.
Lastly, your materials, check lists and field guide were excellent for trip preparation.
We appreciate your work and send you our thanks.
Carol and Stan Pugmire, March 2016
South Africa Family Safari including Singita and the Cape Grace
We wanted to thank the entire team for a wonderful and most memorable family vacation. Once again the Africa Adventure Company not only delivered but exceeded all expectations.
It was truly special to revisit our honeymoon trip 20 years later but this time with kids. I’m sure we will be returning again.
Thanks again for the personal touch.
Marko, Susan and the entire Sonnenberg family, March 2016
Best of Namibia and Botswana Wing Safari including Skeleton Coast and the Okavango Delta
We returned on Tuesday and just received your letter asking for our feedback. We had a wonderful trip. Thanks to you all for being so good at what you do!
Everything worked like clockwork and we enjoyed it all.
Namibia was a very different experience from our past Botswana safaris. The Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp was extremely comfortable, we loved the contemporary flair, the manager and staff were first rate, and the food was spectacular– the best of all the camps.
We enjoyed our drives into the desert and had interesting animal sightings in this stark desert environment. We took a very enjoyable walk one morning for about 1.5 hours from the camp.
We think this camp should promote a walk since it gave our guide a chance to fill us in on so much about this environment and, because there is little danger from animals close in to camp, a walk really works. On our drives out from the camp, we saw the “five musketeers” and learned of the efforts to expand this very small lion population in this part of Namibia. We had other animal sightings and many spectacular vistas of the desert. The sunset/moonrise was something special!
Our next camp was Chitabe in Botswana and we loved it. We had the great good luck of having Duke as our guide. We had him three years ago and he made that safari and this one memorable. The camp manager encouraged us to always request the guide we want. No guarantee, but they like requests so you might want to encourage your repeat guests to do so. The animal and bird sightings were spectacular. So much animal behavior this time including lions mating, hippos mating (big splashing!), one outcast lion returning to the territory and challenging the two who sent him away. No direct confrontation but lots of challenging roaring in both directions. We also saw cheetahs and hyenas that we did not see the last time. And of course many, many zebras, giraffes, elephants and more and everything so close to the vehicle. Fabulous safari experience. We would definitely return to Chitabe.
The last camp in Botswana was Vumbura Plains. I am glad you persuaded me to stay in this “premier” level camp. We are very comfortable in Chitabe which is “classic,” but we had no trouble enjoying the luxury of Vumbura. Our “tent” was a virtual suite and the adjacent deck was huge. Spectacular accommodations. They even had an exercise bike that we kept on the deck and enjoyed. The staff were very friendly and the service was great. We enjoyed the option to dine alone rather than family style as at Chitabe. Family style was fine but the twosome option was good. Our guide, Ike, was excellent. The guide really matters as you know and Ike’s passion for his world and great knowledge of the animal, bird and environment were on a par with Duke’s. We would definitely hope to get paired with Ike on a future trip…
And, speaking of overnight stays, the Olive Grove hotel in Windhoek, Namibia where you had us stay before we continued to Hoanib was so excellent that we wished we had two nights there! Such a comfortable place with great staff and very good food. And we would have liked to spend some time in Windhoek and in their beautiful museum learning a bit more about this country.
All in all, Elena, a wonderful safari experience. You and your team did a great job and we are recommending your services to friends who are considering safari.
Donna Sorgi and David Bernstein, March 2016
50th Anniversary Flying Safari to Namibia and South Africa
Hello everyone –
Just a quick note to thank you for an amazing trip! The Weale family absolutely loved all of it. And you guys made it easy for us to do so. I am happy to be a reference for anyone thinking about working with you guys. I also just responded to a forum post on TripAdvisor about tour operators (I told the woman to check you guys out) – and will continue sing your praise wherever I can.
A few specifics, in case they’re helpful:
1. Little Kulala: You guys were very smart to start with the trip with Namibia. (I think I had originally wanted it to be at the end.) It was amazing – so vast and breathtaking there, but if we had ended with it, I suspect (maybe?) that we would have been disappointed with the lack of animal life. Instead, we took a million pics of every springbok we saw (not many) – unaware that we’d see so much animal life that we wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves. Our guide was Chris at Little Kulala – he was phenomenal. We loved our stay at Little Kulala (sleeping out under the stars was incredible). We also did the hot air balloon ride – another stunning keeper. The company was fantastic.
2. Cape Town: Our guide (Lucia) was perfect – thank you for matching her with us! Use her wherever you can – your guests will never be disappointed. We went to Signal (at Cape Grace), Del Aire Graff, Mondiall, and Black Sheep for restaurants. And Karibu in the V&A Waterfront. Oh – and Two Oceans at Cape Point. All were excellent – no disappointments. (And the dollar is so strong!! It’s ridiculous how impeccably you can eat & drink in South Africa for very low prices.)
3. MalaMala: Nothing bad to say about the safari. We loved it. The animals, the scenery, the lodging, the food, the service… They were amazing to us – and our ranger Dave was phenomenal. We loved the history of the place & the old school vibe. And of course, the game viewing was fantastic.
I’d go back and do any of it in a heart beat.
You gave us the trip of the lifetime. Thank you. Please let me know if there are any other ways that I can spread the word about you guys. I’m so glad that John recommended you when I started my search; I hope to be that person for many others in the future. And as I said, I’m happy to be a reference for you if ever necessary.
All my best,
Liza Weale, March 2016
Spectacular Safari to Namibia and Botswana
The trip was fabulous.
Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp
Jack’s Camp in the Kalahari [perhaps the favorite]
Mombo Camp and Sandibe
The Kalahari and the Skeleton Coast were sublime.
The guides were all uniformly excellent. Highest marks to “Bones” at Jack’s Camp and Jonah at Sandibe. Sandibe was the most “thrilling” of all the camps — really felt like we were out there and had to be alert to game at all times. Although Mombo was certainly like that, too.
We definitely plan to go back to Africa some day! Maybe Ethiopia?
Tony Eaton, Feb 2016
Classic Botswana Flying Safari to the Linyanti Reserve and Okavango Delta
I am home and happy to report that the planned trip went smoothly and well. I had a wonderful time with never a worry about where I should be when.
The tented camps you suggested were great, very different personalities and somewhat different landscapes. I enjoyed both. Tim and Hailey are especially good hosts and go out of their way to please. Plus, the food at Seba cannot be surpassed.
Guides and managers were knowledgeable and helpful. At Chitabe Lediba, Molousi gave us history and political lessons when he joined us. Just terrific.
Ruby made sure I had a birthday cake even though I was avoiding this birthday, but we all had fun and the cake was delicious.
All of your people were polite, on time, and very helpful every step of the way. Thanks for planning so well.
Marcia Mumbrue, Feb 2016
Best of Southern Africa including the Sabi Sand Game Reserve
The trip was outstanding and we had a great time. Kirkman’s Kamp service, guides, staff, etc. were amazing and a perfect start to our trip. Zimbabwe was an eye-opening experience on many, many levels. Our guide in Cape Town and in the wine country, Rob Byram, was excellent. We were blessed with outstanding weather the entire time – there was no animal we did not see (including a leopard in a tree with its kill on the lower branch), no experience we did not get to enjoy (including Table Mountain, Robben Island, Shark Cage Diving, and climbing Lions Head), and no day that we did not have great food and wine.
Thanks for you help.
Marlene Nations, Feb 2016
Flying Safari to Namibia’s Skeleton Coast and Botswana’s Okavango Delta
Hello Mark and team,
What a great adventure!!! Such wonderful people in the camps…so genuinely caring and gracious. They are very hospitable and will do everything in their power to make your stay as perfect as possible. The food was terrific and I will have to learn to live without afternoon tea!! Our itinerary was well thought out ….. loved the change from desert to savannah.
Diane Stillman, Feb 2016
Cape Town, Whale Coast and Safari to South Africa and Botswana
Hi Elena and Alison:
I just wanted to drop you a note to let you know how wonderful everything has been here in South Africa. All of the arrangements you made for us have been perfect and transfers, etc have worked like clockwork! Alison, you clearly did understand what we were looking for. We LOVED our guide in Jo’burg& Cape Town, everything about Mashatu, the Turbine Hotel and Mosaic! They were each perfect for us. Thank-you for once again facilitating an excellent African Adventure for us.
We had a fabulous time… I think you were right with your initial idea though – we should have stayed at Mosaic 3 nights. The same in Knysna. Oh well, next time I won’t second guess you haha!! All the staff at both Mosaic and Mashatuwere just so incredibly friendly, caring and helpful. They really make those places wonderful. And the food!! Oh my!!
I hope it won’t be another 10 years before we head back to this amazing continent. I’d actually like to come back in about two years with all of our grown-up “kids”. I’m thinking Mashatu and then the Okavango Delta or maybe Zimbabwe or Namibia. I’ll be in touch again when that idea becomes closer to reality. In the meantime, keep me on your mailing list.
Just a couple of more days here in Cape Town and then back to the cold, grey reality of life – hopefully spring will be just around the corner!
Tracey Bennewies, Jan 2016
Big Five Game Safari to South Africa
Yes, I am back home safe and sound. I am totally jet lagged but still on a very high ‘high’ from the awesome experiences I had on safari. Thank you so much for arranging everything in short order – everything was perfect and amazing!
I enjoyed both Kirkman’s and Ngala Tented Camp. I met amazing people both staff and other guests, and saw amazing things at both locations. Finishing off my trip at Ngala was definitely a highlight for me though – I loved the tented camp experience!
Thanks again for everything!
WillyDrost, Jan 2016