Safari to Southern Africa
Good morning Kyle,
Thank you once again for your attention to detail and another excellent safari adventure…
Our itinerary was a perfect mix of ecosystems, scenery, variety of wildlife and types of lodging.
Mashatu Euphorbia was architecturally stunning and the staff was warm and friendly. The nest is a great place to observe wildlife. Our guide Bellamy was excellent and we saw lions, leopards and cheetahs as well as many elephants, giraffes, zebras, impala, kudu, eland, steenbok, wildebeest, and ostrich. We had a great walk and an amazing afternoon in the photo hide. Elephants of course, but everyone else came too in a steady parade.
Jack’s Camp, in Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, was an amazing fantasyland. The tents are an out of this world cross between Arabian nights and 19th century safari romance. We loved spending time with meerkats and had fun quad biking on the pans. We had sundowners on the pan on the night of the full moon. As the sun set in front of us, the moon rose behind us. There was also a surprising amount of wildlife. Herds of wildebeest and zebras were still present and we saw lions, jackals, brown hyenas, antelope and entertains spring hares. Our guides Chemical and Bones were again excellent.
Duba Explorers Camp is a perfect little safari camp in a beautiful location. We were surprised by a short helicopter ride between the air strip and camp. Flying low was a beautiful way to get an overview of the area. The tents are small but well thought out with everything one needs to be comfortable and organized. The main area is very comfortable and we enjoyed the communal dining (which we also had at Jack’s and Tubu Tree). We loved sitting on our porch and watching wildlife go by. Highlights were a pack of painted dogs who we initially saw nearby, but they also were in camp one evening, visiting a hyena den and watching the pups, large herds of buffalo, tracking a leopard, impala, springbok, zebras, baby giraffes. We had surprise bush cocktails and a Botswana barbecue. We went on a mokoro ride just before sunset. We weren’t able to go boating due to low water levels and no flooding yet. Our guide Shags was an excellent tracker and thoughtful guide.
Tubu Tree is a warm and very friendly camp. We loved the elevated walkways and tree house feel. The main area was very nice with an impressive bar around a tree. We had productive game drives with lots of elephants, warthogs, giraffes and zebras. We saw a leopard and her kill and a pack of dogs at sunset. We tried to find them the next day but couldn’t. There is no sign of flooding in the area and after a dry wet season it is very dry and water holes are shrinking. Our guide said there is usually a lot more water by now…
Old Drift Lodge was a great place to stay near Victoria Falls. The rooms are beautiful overlooking the river with gorgeous sunrise views. Meals were excellent and service was good. We enjoyed our small group tour of Victoria Falls which we did after a great lunch at the Lookout Cafe. It was a sunny day so there were some great rainbows (single and double). We did not do any game drives in the park but we did late afternoon and early morning boat rides with sundowners and snacks in the evening and coffee or tea in the morning. Old Drift has very nice pontoon boats which seat about 12-14 people. They can go quite close to shore and are very comfortable. By chance we had the same guide Jeremiah for both boat trips and our trip to Victoria falls. He was knowledgeable and entertaining. Both rides were fun, but we really enjoyed the early am ride as it was peaceful with very few boats out and lots of birds to see- plus one crocodile. In the evening it’s a little more like being at a theme park with so many party boats.
After Victoria falls, it was onto Cape Town for 5 nights. Clarendon Bantry Bay was a great place to stay-amazing ocean and sunset views and friendly and accommodating staff. We enjoyed touring daily with our great guide Paul Barker. It was interesting to hear his stories and experience during and after apartheid. He is very knowledgeable about his country which he clearly loves. We visited Table Mountain and Kirstenbosch Gardens, the Cape Peninsula and the wine country. We went kayaking and saw penguins in Simons town. We went walking along the water in Bantry Bay. We had an interesting walking food tour in Bokaap and Cape Town and some amazing dining experiences at Fyn, Elgr, The Waterside, Reverie social table, Delaire Graff Estate, Truth Coffee and the Old biscuit mill. We left Cape Town feeling very full!!
Overall, it was an excellent safari. It’s comforting to have people meet us and shepherd us through airports and around town. The quality of service is generally high and our guides were excellent although occasionally hard to understand due to soft voices, accents and hearing impairment in some of us. All of the places we stayed were really nice, clean and we were well taken care of.
If we could have done anything differently I would add time in the bush and maybe cut one night in Cape Town. And I would be more specific about what I wanted to see in Johannesburg. But overall, it was practically perfect in every way!
Vikki Canfield, May 2023
Safari to South Africa and Botswana and Visit to Cape Town
Dear Elena, Alison and Team,
The short story is that we had a wonderful time! Lots of fun, exciting game drives and amazing people everywhere we traveled. As a recap, our first safari was in 2019 visiting Chitabe, Duma Tau and Little Vumbura. All Wilderness. This time, we mixed it up a bit by visiting MalaMala, Sable Alley and Duke’s Camp. The last two were Natural Selection. And before we forget, thank you for the sparkling wine for our anniversary! Actually, there was welcome wine at each camp and two hotels!
Everything went like clockwork. Transfers and meet/greet people were all on top of the whole process. Thank you for making all of those arrangements…
Every stop and camp was a fun experience. The staff at each camp were all awesome, and they all did whatever was in their power to please their guests…
MalaMala. Great time and truly luxurious suites. One could get used to those. The 2nd day, we were joined on our drives by couples from the US and South Africa. The South African couple were friends with our guide and they had worked in camps themselves. So, we essentially had 3 guides for a day and a half. Asked them how they had gotten to MalaMala….. They drove down in their car from near Kruger airport. Interesting! Good internet in suites. Food was very good. Several entree choices at dinner. Drives were good and we did see some rhinos, so finally completed the Big 5. Good lion, elephant and leopard viewing.
Victoria Falls. Stayed at the Palm River Hotel. Very nice and we would have loved a 2nd night there. Located next to the Ra-Ikane dock. Excellent food and I think each room has a river view…Based just on our 2 visits to Victoria Falls, I would suggest staying at Palm River (or sister property Ilala Lodge) but still try to visit the Victoria Falls Hotel for tea and/or the evening show. Don’t want to miss the history.
Transfers to Kasane went well. Regarding Zimbabwe border crossings: we paid our $30 visa fee at the border. A young couple in front of us had paid online for their visas, and had the receipt on their phone to prove it. However, the Zimbabwe officials needed a printed receipt and they did not have a printer available. So, the couple had to pay a second time. If one pays online, please bring a printed proof of payment.
Sable Alley. Outstanding camp. Very roomy tent with additional outside shower. Lots of storage space for luggage and hanging space. Very nice robes which were great to wear on a cold morning. Internet in each tent. Good lighting at night in tents. Excellent food with a choice of 2 entrees at dinner. Staff was great and tried to please in every way. Main lodge was open and able to catch any breezes. Game drives were excellent. Game drive highlights were seeing a family of hyenas up close, while having sundowners (us, not the hyenas); watching an elephant butt a tree to shake down the fruit; and watching lions defend their water buffalo kill against a large pack of hyenas. The lions vs the hyenas was interesting because we were able to hear later about the progression from other people that we met at Duke’s Camp.
Duke’s Camp. We had a lot of fun here and had some good game drives. The food was excellent with everyone eating the same entree family style. Great staff who did everything they could to ensure that each guest had a great time. Good game viewing. Wild dogs! Duke’s Camp is small. It is a fun camp, but does not have the ample size, ease of use or conveniences that Sable Alley does…
Cape Town: A wonderful stay and we still love the V&A Hotel. Fun fact: Upon arrival at the hotel, we ran into the same group of travelers from the Bay area, who were returning from a day of touring with Rob Byram. We toured with Rob for 2 days four years ago. This time, our guide was Christine Gibson and she was fantastic! We can’t say enough about what a good time we had with her!
Thank you again for putting together a great trip for us. We loved all of it!
Jeff and Jan Coffey, May 2023
Iconic Visions Safari to Southern Africa
We are home, laundered, catnapped, and reflecting on the amazing trip we just took. Our running joke was that we couldn’t remember where we were supposed to be when, but that was okay because someone would let us know and then be there to pick us up and take us to our next destination.
Kirkman’s Kamp was a perfect start, and our guide Wayde and tracker Richard introduced us to the wonders of Sabi Sands. They certainly put those Land Cruisers to the test. I appreciated that they limited only two vehicles to watching an animal, especially when I saw many more gathering as we ventured outside the preserve. I loved the vintage feel of the camp and the staff that was so welcoming…
In Victoria Falls, the Palm River Hotel was swank and cocktails on the river pretty darn nice. We are snooty about our cataracts however and thought that, though spectacular, Victoria Falls didn’t match up to Iguazu or Niagara.
Our guide Miss Bee at Chobe Game Lodge was a delight and I loved that they had an all-female team of guides. The river boats added a different element to game watching, sneaking up on hippos and crocodiles using electric motors. I think the lodge itself was my least favorite but only because it seemed a little too toney for me. But Botswana and the people we met were memorable.
Gomoti Plains Camp was maybe my favorite. I loved the tents, the more rustic feel, and gathering around the fire in the evening. Ben, our guide, was wonderful and it was a treat for him to say we were stopping for coffee, only to come around a corner and find a whole breakfast laid out in the bush. He was serious about his sundowners and we have great pictures of drinking G & T’s with a huge herd of buffalo in the background. We rated Gomoti’s beds the best of the whole trip.
Cape Town was an adventure and guide Rob filled two days to the brim. Next time I would allow a day or two more just to hang around the city and explore on our own. Waking up to a view of Table Mountain was spectacular. They closed the mountain because of the wind so we didn’t get to go up but certainly found more sights to see.
All in all, a fantastic trip, with mind boggling logistics happening behind the scenes. The food was good, the people welcoming, and the animals out of this world.
Marie Fox, May 2023
Safari to Kenya
We stayed at a wonderful accommodation called Hemmingway’s. A gracious and helpful staff……With their help they were able to get our luggage at midnight the following night…just 6 hours before we flew into the bush.
We did get to visit Sheldrick’s Trust, a rescue for orphaned baby elephants, and got to watch the babies getting fed. We also got to go to a Giraffe Sanctuary and got to feed the giraffes. A bit touristy but the kids loved it and we all had fun.
We departed Nairobi and flew to the bush! We were a tearful with joy group to be here at last. Before we arrived at our camp in the Masai Mara (Mara Plains) we found a herd of 60 elephants grazing. One cheeky little guy was running everywhere chasing birds until the shadow of an eagle passed over him and he created such a scared fuss that Mom came running. We laughed and laughed. Felt good to leave the other stuff behind us.
Our camp is small…just the 8 of us here…and set in a small glade next to a small river. Wonderful and charming staff, and specular food! Our nights have been serenaded with the sounds of hippos and hyenas and lions. Monkeys and baboons roan the camp and we have a fun cluster of bats that the kids are naming who swoop around at dinner eating bugs.
This is a totally different topography than any of our other African countries. Although it is called ‘plains’ there are gently rolling hills and valleys with small rivers. It has been a rainy year so we are surrounded by green and herds of animals…
Hippos calling now and other night sounds filling the air. Maybe this is another kind of magnificent symphony within nature’s cathedral.
As always, we say “Come to Africa!”
Lugena and Dave Wahlquist, May 2023
Safari to Victoria Falls, Okavango Delta and Cape Town
A quick note of thanks to you staff for making a seamless, stress free and “trip of a lifetime” for me.
The African Rock Hotel in Johannesburg was wonderful. The driver was right at the gate, escorted me through customs and set me up in the lounge with AC control, blankets and bathroom location. The AM staff got me promptly to my well-appointed room. (the windows opened to a safe outside corridor where I could sleep with a cool breeze). A welcome break from Miami heat! I had a fantastic massage (easily scheduled online at 2pm), and was in bliss. Corinne and I enjoyed cocktails by the fire, and a charcuterie tray that evening. Check-out was easy, and we give that hotel top ratings for their gift shop! We only wish we had bought a few more items but it was too early in our journey. (They did a good job at positioning items in the room and selling at their gift shop). Also, well curated shop.
A seamless transfer to Joberg airport, walked to our gate (so thankful for that aspect). Air travel was wonderful and we were so surprised to have wine and lunch offered in flight. (So different from the US bare-minimum flights).
Great transfer to the Victoria Falls Hotel and we were delighted with our “Happy 6oth birthday” cookies! So elegant. We loved the old colonial charm of the hotel. The space was everything we imagined and my colleague from Bulawayo had told me about….and fantastic AC! in our room. We enjoyed cocktails on the veranda, saw mongoose, monkeys and of course the “smoke that thunders”. Hotel staff kept track of our tour times. Our guide for the falls, Precious, was a delight! She was engaging, cheerful and so warm. We had an evening river cruise. Once we discovered the GT’s were also gratis, we were all in. (we broke the ice for fellow cruisers). I especially appreciated the comfortable seating and remarkably quiet motor. I saw my first hippos, crocodile and those HGTV bird nest builders. Guide was knowledgeable, kind and gracious.
We felt like princesses with the evening turn down and netting over our beds. We were accommodated with a market drop off and purchased some gifts from a woman’s co-op. Awesome breakfast with many options on the patio, and I even discovered a putting green! (I’m a beginning golfer, so I was intrigued, but did not participate). The Chef is the golf ambassador and offered me some clubs!
Our driver was wonderful and the transfer to the Kasane airport was easy. Our driver taught me the different names for groups of animals: Hippos are in pods, Giraffe’s are a “journey” of giraffe’s etc.
The Splash Camp was so wonderful. The best part: no cell phones, quiet, bird life and safari. Our guide Mat and tracker Koha were fabulous. Mat was knowledgeable and so willing to teach and spot birds. We had the time of our lives! The service, food were fantastic and the room accommodations were great. We both utilized the laundry service and so worth it. Loved the open bar and ease of serving ourselves. Also, I saw the Southern Cross for the first time as pointed out by Godfrey at the evening fire camp. I must say the bird view was awesome. We enjoyed the delta boat ride and highly recommend it.
Once again, transfer to the airport (Maun to Cape Town) was seamless and we were both impressed with the level of service on the air flight (so different than the US … wine and food!). Lucia, our guide in Cape Town, was a fantastic choice for us…! She is so attune to what her client’s pace and needs are as a guide. She pointed out points of interest, took us to the market, and local shops and waited so patiently. She took us to a great local Stellenbsoch general store and, best of all, she helped us on our giraffe hunt! The wine tasting location was beautiful and the restaurant choice exquisite…We can’t say enough wonderful things about her and the day went way too fast. Please pass on our regards, and tell her how much I enjoy my special tea.
I really appreciated your staff’s attention to detail pre trip. The tip sheet is the Bomb! It is so wonderful to have envelopes ahead of time in the correct currency and not to scramble. We also appreciated the pre-trip photos of our guides for easy recognition and the hotel choices. We ordered uber eats at the Four Rosmead Boutique Guesthouse and the staff so willingly set us up a table so that we did not have to eat in our room.
Thank you again and please pass along our thanks to our guides and the pre-trip staff.
Jean Miles, Apr 2023
Safari to Tanzania and Gorilla Trekking to Uganda
Hi Mark –
We just returned home from our Africa trip and I must say with had the trip of a lifetime. Your company went above and beyond in how we were treated, the accommodations and the adventures you and your team provided. Of course, the animals were amazing but I must say that it was the people and tribes we met along the way that were such a great surprise. You hire the BEST employees and they did everything possible to make our group’s experience special so Thank You!
The only comment I think that might help others is that the tipping culture in Uganda is hard. We did not know that we would always need an entourage of people to accompany us to all places. The tipping information you gave us for the Mountain Gorilla trekking was very helpful and appreciated. We had to have two armed guards with us at all times in Uganda (not just the trekking).
We all would highly recommend your company to our friends and family and will reach out again if we want to vacation to another part of Africa.
Please tell all our guides-Ephraim, Eric and David that we thoroughly enjoyed them and they did a GREAT job for us.
Sharon Neher, Apr 2023