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CLIENTS TRIP REPORTS EAST & SOUTHERN AFRICA: JUNE – AUGUST 2021

July 30, 2021 Client Trip Reports

EAST AFRICA

Safari and Chimp Trekking Adventure to Tanzania

Hello Szilvia!

What a wonderful trip! We had an amazing time and saw many animal sightings that we have never experienced! Can you believe 18 female lions and cubs crossing the river! Our guide was even amazed! The chimps in Mahale, of course, were fantastic…we saw them every day! Greystoke Mahale is an unbelievable camp! Great in all aspects!

Greystoke Mahale

The main highlight at Greystoke Mahale is chimp trekking

I would like to say that I really liked your new Personalized Tipping Guide! Very helpful!…

Thank you again for the perfectly planned trip! What a blessing to visit Africa after the Covid hibernation! Bob and I are already talking about what our next Africa Adventure will be…perhaps Mana Pools and vicinity in 2023!

Fondly,

Denise Blackney, Aug 2021

 

Plains of the Serengeti Private Tented Safari

Hello Africa Adventure Company Team,

We are back in the US after a magnificent experience on our safari! Everything went absolutely perfect! Everyone picked us on time, very friendly and helpful, but a gigantic thank you for appointing Emmanuel Mkenda as our guide! He was simply spectacular, what a knowledgeable person and his expertise and familiarity with the African wildlife and the geography was more than obvious. I don’t think the experience would have been the same with someone else.

We witnessed a zebra being haunted by a lion right in front of our very eyes simply because Emmanuel knew what to do and how long to wait. He was guessing the lion’s steps one by one and had us wait 3 hours but had us in front row when it happened. We have the pictures and we will load them to Facebook when we download them from our camera. He also helped us spot many leopards than a less experienced guide would have never been able to do. And he knew exactly where to have us for a wildebeest crossing on the Mara River. 

He simply tried his best to always give us the best possible experience and chance to see as many animals as possible. He also made us always feel safe even when animals were very close to us.

Some additional feedback:

  • The balloon ride in the Northern Serengeti was short of spectacular. I am glad we did it and you should always push people to do it.
  • Every camp was excellent but especially the Dunia and Olakira camps. We almost wanted to cry when we left both camps
  • We wish we would have had more time at the Arusha Coffee Lodge, perhaps one day upon arrival. What a gorgeous resort but we really didn’t have as much time to enjoy it

In summary, we want to thank you for delivering to us everything as expected and more!  We hope to repeat the experience in the not so distant future and we will recommend you to anyone potentially interested in an African Safari.

Jorge and Claudia Quinonez/Jeff and Angie Colon, Aug 2021

 

Tented Explorer Safari to Tanzania

I wanted to add some perspective on the visits with the tribes – a part of the safari I was really looking forward to!

  • Maasai – they have done an outstanding job capitalizing on their fame, and good for them for doing so.  However, I felt like the visit lacked authenticity and sincerity.  While I enjoyed the traditional dance and song, I wanted to learn more about it and there wasn’t really a window for that… 
  • Hadzabe – We really enjoyed this.  We went hunting with the men.  They caught two birds and a squirrel.  They stopped, built a fire and cooked them up right then and there, and offered us each a bite of their squirrel.  While they snacked, they had a few questions for us, too, and we were all able to share some laughs.  After the hunt, two of the men (well, one man and another who seemed to be a young teenager) tried to show us how to shoot their bow & arrows.  We all got a good laugh out of that – Addison was most successful while Kennedy & I could barely do more than let the arrow drop to our feet!  The women didn’t give us the time of day and none of them were interested or cared whether we bought anything from them or not (they had a few items but didn’t care if we even looked at them let alone bought them).  In fact, we had no interaction with the women at all.
  • Datoga – this was by far our favorite visit.  We sat for a long time in a hut and talked with three women.  They wanted to know as much about us as we did them.  They were stunned to learn that Bill had not paid any cows to marry me & wanted to know how Dale felt about that.  They were surprised that no sheep/lamb sacrifices were made when my kids were born and were totally perplexed about why I had not found additional wives to help with the chores and how I managed to get everything done without other wives to help me.  Unimpressed with Bill, surprised that Dale was okay without cows, and impressed with me.   We all – Datoga and us – got something out of that visit and even though they also encouraged us to buy their crafts, they also showed us how they make them and, as such, added a personal and memorable story to our keepsakes.  I think we would have sat and talked with these women for hours more if we could have.  My kids both said that they are glad we got to visit with them before they were sensationalized and visits were more like we experienced with the Maasai. 

…We had a fabulous time and when it is time to go again or refer others, AAC will be our go to!

Thank you for everything!

Lisa Cook, Aug 2021

 

Plains of Tanzania Safari

Elena

NZURI SANA! (“Very good” in Swahili) Words can’t describe the amazing trip we had from start to finish!!!

Every accommodation was wonderful, food was delicious and every guide was fabulous! Each camp created a unique experience and the staff was so warm and welcoming – made us feel like we were such special people and bent over backwards with their kindness and hospitality! We will never forget the talking shower at Lemala Ngorongoro Tented Camp – lol.

Finias welcomed us into his home like we were family. Our guide, Servuli was so great and created a fabulous safari experience in Arusha, Tarangire National Park and Ngorongoro Crater. We didn’t think we could get a better guide than him. Then came Dullah from Asilia’s Namiri Plains Camp and Bosco from Lemala’s Kuria Hills Tented Lodge. The experience they gave us and the laughs that we shared and the education we received was incredible! We will miss them all so much!

The game drives were beyond anything we imagined. We were up close and personal to everything. Lisa couldn’t get enough elephants and I couldn’t get enough zebras. From the roaring lion a few inches from our jeep, claiming his territory, to the migration of wildebeests in the Mara River, one experience was better than the next.

We also had a touching moment going to a Masai school in one of the villages where we met the head Masai, a couple teachers and students from one of the younger classes. After handing them a donation of pencils, erasers and sharpeners, the students sang to us and were so happy! Mark and Russ were so moved that they gave the Masai $ to buy chalk, paper, books, pens and soccer balls. A couple days later Servuli sent us photos of the kids all holding the supplies that we bought for them. It was such a great memory!

Thank you Elena and Africa Adventure Company for creating a trip of a lifetime!!

All the best,

Mark & Renee Finger and Russ & Lisa Kipprman, Aug 2021

 

Wilds of Tanzania Honeymoon Safari

Hi Kyle,

We made it home safely and we had a great time. It was truly an unforgettable experience and a perfect choice for our very delayed honeymoon (thanks, COVID!). We felt as if it’s the closest we will ever get to witnessing nature in its purest form possible. We documented seeing over 100 types of birds and managed to see the big 5! Our accommodations were wonderful with excellent attention from the staff at each of our lodges. We are so glad we went through with the trip given this crazy pandemic that caused us to reschedule twice.

We LOVED our tour guide- Servuli…Throughout the trip, we got to know him and found him to be a kind and genuinely good person. He also has so many years of experience that he pretty much was able to answer every one of our questions about animals and helped us identify the many, many birds throughout Tanzania.

It’s also very important to mention how great the customer service was from the Africa Adventure Company. We loved how efficiently emails were answered to each of our questions- and we had many leading up to the trip. You were all so great about helping us reschedule the trip- both times!…

Again, thank you for everything!! Until next time!

Giselle & Ryan Gutierrez, Aug 2021

 

Migration Safari to Tanzania

Good morning Alison.

I wanted to let you know that I had a fantastic time in Tanzania. Everything from start to end went as planned and I literally did not have a single complaint other than the cold weather in the Serengeti. Haven’t you figured out how to control the weather yet??? Your team here in the U.S. was attentive to my questions and did a great job making sure I had everything I needed to be prepared for the trip. The team in Tanzania was top notch. Each guide was professional, highly knowledgeable, and had respect for the wildlife and the parks. You could tell that they really loved what they did. The staff at the camps were friendly and made sure that I had everything that I needed. The hotels and camp tents were much more than I needed but it felt good to be pampered.

I understand that the wildebeest give birth in the masses in the southern Serengeti around February and is a wonder to see. Do you have any trips planned around this event?

Thank you again to you and your staff for making my trip to Tanzania a great experience that I will never forget.

All the best,

Mike Lang, Aug 2021

 

Safari to Tanzania including the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti

Thank you for the welcome home. We really enjoyed our trip. Our guides were top notch (see comments at end) and we enjoyed our stays in the Rivertree Country Inn, Acacia Farms and Zebra Camp. Each of our lodgings were uniquely different but all offered the greatest hospitality in comfortable surroundings. 

Our game drives were quite successful in that we managed to see the big 5 and witness not one, but four river crossings in the Serengeti. My husband loves photography and especially enjoys capturing birds and we saw many birds this trip. We didn’t get very close to the one rhino we saw in the crater which was a good thing since the rhino was quite agitated. Through our cameras and binoculars, we watched it charging the cars (no worries the cars they were chasing were for the team that was out trying to vaccinate the rhino) and were thrilled we were able to see this sight. We also saw many elephants, zebra, giraffe, lions and antelope. We saw one leopard and one cheetah and enjoyed seeing cubs and other baby animals. It was a great adventure and after hearing the stories of those working in Africa, we were humbled in knowing our being there meant they could be working, earning money to support their families. 

…Thank you again for putting together this wonderful trip. I didn’t think I’d ever get my husband on safari and now even he is saying he might like to go back.

With best regards,

Julie McCroskey, Aug 2021

 

Tanzania Safari & Gorilla Trekking Adventure to Rwanda

WHAT A TRULY AMAZING, EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURE OUR SAFARI & GORILLA TREKKING WAS!!! In Tanzania, Ephata was one of the best, if not the best guide, I have ever had. He was knowledgeable about the wildlife and birdlife, was very friendly and enjoyed conversing with us, became just as excited as Jim, Linda, & I upon seeing the animals, birds, and several close encounters with the wildlife. Moses was also an excellent guide although we did not get to spend as much time with him as we did with Ephata. He, also, was thrilled to hear about our experiences with the gorillas and wanted pictures sent to him of the gorillas…

Naomi was invaluable with her assistance in making a few scheduling changes to accommodate getting COVID-19 tests and results in a timely fashion. She, along with Ephata, are people that AAC should be proud to have as onsite representatives, as Jim said.

The airport liaison at Kigali International was fantastic and had us in and out of the airport in a timely fashion after taking a rapid COVID-19 test and then meeting our safari driver.

For our flight from Kilimanjaro to Nairobi, the guides, Swissport employees at Kilimanjaro and Winnie, at the Nairobi airport, were most helpful in facilitating movement through Customs and to the gates. As Jim said, their assistance was greatly appreciated…

Now on to the most important part of our journey: the safari and gorilla trekking. Honestly, there are no words which accurately describe our experience: extraordinary, superb, outstanding, fantastic are not adequate.

All of the camps were amazing: each staff was extremely friendly and was very interested in making sure our visit to their camp was a great experience. In particular the staff at Kati Kati Tented Camp should be commended for their concern that all our needs were met; as the old saying goes “They went above and beyond the call of duty”. The same is true of the staff at the Mountain Gorilla View Lodge. Again, all the employees of the camps were a great credit to AAC and they should be commended for the excellent service to the guests at their camps.

The wildlife and birdlife viewing was incredible!!!! We saw elephant, giraffe, numerous types of antelope, lions, a leopard with a kill up a tree, two snakes – a puff adder and a rock python – (I had never seen any snakes on my previous 8 visits to Africa), a black rhino which was a real treat, and more – too numerous to mention. The Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area were incredulous with the quantity and variety of wildlife; seeing so many animals in these areas was astounding, especially seeing the black rhino in the NCA.

Two experiences that stand out:

  • In the Serengeti we were watching a cheetah mom with her youngster when she suddenly jumped on the spare tire of our vehicle. She eventually jumped down and went to another vehicle near ours and jumped on the spare tire; her youngster also tried to jump on the spare tire but had difficulty doing that so the mom reached down to help the youngster. The cheetah mom returned to our vehicle and jumped on the spare tire and then jumped up to a flat platform on the back of our vehicle. Since I was standing on the back seat of the vehicle to take photos, I came eye-to-eye with the cheetah mom who looked at me and then hissed at me. She calmly walked over to the side of the platform and sat down. She stayed there for a short while and then jumped down. To be about 24” from the cheetah’s head was quite a thrill, to put it mildly! After she hissed at me, Ephata plus Jim & Linda quietly told me to slowly step off the back seat to put some distance between myself & the cheetah. Other than the hiss the cheetah mom seemed perfectly calm and made no threatening movements toward me. WHAT AN EXPERIENCE TO BE SO CLOSE TO AND BE HISSED AT BY A CHEETAH!!!!
  • During our second gorilla trek, Linda was taking a photo of me with a silverback in the background. All of a sudden, the silverback began charging toward Linda and I.  Our guide told several people to step back and told Linda & I to sit down, assume a submissive pose, and not to make eye contact with the silverback. Linda & I were trying to gracefully sit down without falling in the path of the silverback. He ended up walking right by us, so close we could have touched him without extending an arm. TO SEE HIM SO CLOSE MADE ONE REALIZE HOW BIG AND POWERFUL A SILVERBACK CAN BE!!

…I am just beginning to sort through my photos and videos.  A few photos are attached.

Perhaps someday in the future I will return to Africa but if that does not occur, what an experience to end my travels to the African continent! Thank you for answering all our questions, keeping us up to date on any developments with our safari and gorilla trekking, and providing an adventure of a lifetime!!!!

Carole Replogle, Aug 2021

 

SOUTHERN AFRICA

Zimbabwe Heritage Explorer Safari

Hi Szilvia! I had a wonderful time on the safari you created for me. Super happy! Here is my quick trip report:

Arrival and Johannesburg. I really appreciated the meet and greet on arrival. It had been a long trip and having someone steer me through the added covid paperwork and protocols was especially needed, even though I am usually a pretty independent traveler. I liked having the hotel walkable from the airport. Because of covid, they served a limited menu in room only, but that was fast and easy. I wasn’t happy about the extra time in Jo’berg, but it turned out terrific! I got a street art tour and the guide arranged a charismatic street artist to take us around. What a great way to see a city, walk around and absorb the day-to-day life. We also stopped at a super gallery (Kim Sacks) and had tea and a chat with the owner. Went from a negative to a positive.

Chikwenya. As you explained to me, I got upgraded to Chikwenya since the camp I was in was closed. Wow, I now see what an A+ camp is like. I had a terrific time and especially liked that the managers asked upfront about and understood my desire to eat alone (privacy not covid). Only disappointment was that I couldn’t take a canoe trip, although I did take a boat trip. Very good guide Abiot. Saw a BIG elephant walk through camp a few feet away. 

Chikwenya Camp

Victoria Falls. You are so right — Cynthia is the BEST guide. We really bonded about everything under the sun — Cecil Rhodes to hair products. The Falls were spectacular. I loved staying in the old Victoria Falls Hotel (btw, it was empty — 3 rooms occupied the day I left). With the help of the great staff, I also had two fantastic massages. 

Phil picked me up to take me to Khulu Bush Camp. Lots good to say here, especially my guide Brightwell. Good birding. Only disappointment was that no pro guide was available to take me on a walking safari and the anti-poaching experience offered as a replacement also didn’t work out…I asked if Brightwell could accompany me to Amalinda and was really pleased at the flexibility of Phil and Sharon. 

On to Amalinda — the highlight of my trip. I want to go back! You gave me such good advice about staying here and staying longer. I loved every bit of it. Brightwell and I had a blast, climbing over the hills, seeing rhino on a walk (OMG!), spending quiet times with the ancestors as we explored the paintings, visiting villagers and having an impromptu lesson in thatch cutting from some highly-amused women. Phil and Sharon and the team were super responsive when I had a false positive covid test — I felt very relaxed about it.

I am all ready to go back in January and already planning my next trip, mostly by reading your blogs on stay longer, stay remoter. Sometime let’s talk about what is possible, especially for a single traveler. Anything else you want to know; I am all yours!

Patricia Little, Jul-Aug 2021

 

Safari to South Africa and Botswana

African Rock HotelI can’t describe the wonderful feeling we had when Calvin saw us at Johannesburg, and his face lit up in recognition.  Then when we arrived at the African Rock Hotel, Rufaro yelled in happiness.  Then Otti and Zelda, the owners, greeted us.  It was like arriving home after too long an absence. As to Covid, 75% of the staff is vaccinated and the hotel is kept scrupulously clean.

The hotel and grounds are beautiful and the new addition blends in perfectly. Chef Joyce out did herself with the meals. Everything was delicious and graciously presented.

The drivers Calvin and Givemore are so good at their job. They didn’t just drop us off outside at the airport terminal, but took us in and got us checked in for every flight.

The last night as we sat by the outside fireplace having our wine, Rufaro came bringing us the gift of her 10-month-old. She told her daughter that I was Grandma and she needed to treat me as family. It doesn’t get better than that.

Notten’s Bush Camp (Sabi Sand) – What a delightful small camp. I can’t say enough good things about it. It was exceptionally cold the first two days and the animals went to ground. But the third and fourth days were beautiful and the Sabi Sand animals were out in abundance. In a space of a morning, we saw lion, leopard, cheetah, rhino and elephant, and of course, the usual antelope species.

They are taking Covid very seriously and kept us as safe as possible.

The meals were great, our driver Thomas was tremendous with amazing knowledge of the bush, and Dale, Solomi, and Suzie made us feel right at home.

I’m really looking forward to taking the young grandchildren there in the spring.

Nxamaseri (Okavango Delta) – Chris was in his glory for six solid days of fishing sunup to sundown. Our guide, Mr. P., was just as amazing this trip as last and knows every inch of the river. Obie and Action, the managers, catered to our every whim, saw to the nightly campfire and sundowners, and in general made for great conversations around the dinner table. Tiny and Katie served wonderful home-cooked meals and basically spoiled us.

Thank you for helping arrange another wonderful safari!

Barbara Lyndrup, Aug 2021

 

Botswana Flying Safari featuring Kwando Camps

Our trip was absolutely fantastic. Thank you so much. All of the flying, the arranging, the accommodations were perfect and the camps (including Splash and Lagoon) were out of this world. Our guides Gee and Mr. T are incredibly knowledgeable and nice. The animals we saw were beyond description.

Kwando Splash Camp

Kwando Lagoon Camp

Game drives and mekoro rides are available at Kwando’s camps                                   

Thank you so much and thank you again for organizing an incredible trip. 

Margaret Kallman, Aug 2021

 

Diamond Skies Safari to South Africa

Entire trip was fantastic!! No COVID worries at all—airports were deserted and we avoided going into big cities. The three places we stayed were very cautious and it was basically just us— the service and game viewing was beyond fantastic. Very little mask wearing required.

MalaMala we had a great guide (Jack), super service and food plus best game viewing ever.

Tswalu was just the four of us in the Tarkuni homestead with super service in fairy tale residence and beautiful 250,000 acre private area for guests with great guide.

Delaire Graff in Cape Town’s wine country was the most beautiful place we have ever stayed

Thank you so much for perfect trip never to be surpassed!!!

Chuck Tonkin, Aug 2021

 

SOUTHERN AFRICA

50th Anniversary Safari to Zimbabwe and South Africa 

We had another great trip to South Africa and Zimbabwe arranged by AAC. This was our long delayed 35 day 50th anniversary trip. We have to say that we were both very pleased at how smoothly and seamlessly everything went after all the cancellations, delays and changes that occurred since our original booking in the Spring of 2019. Certainly, with Covid related restrictions, paperwork and testing, travel to/from Africa and between countries in Africa was more complicated than normal. But the scheduling and arrangements all went smoothly.

All of the camps and hotels had put protocols in place to minimize any possible exposure to Covid. Zimbabwe was advanced over South Africa in vaccinating persons in the tourist related businesses and areas. Everyone involved in tourism in Zimbabwe was fully vaccinated. This was not the case in South Africa , but the camps and hotel staffs were always wearing masks (except on game drives unless you asked them to wear them, we didn’t) and excellent hygiene was observed.

As usual the guides were excellent and camp management and staff were very attentive and responsive to any of your desires. Even though this has been the norm on all our trips it seemed especially outstanding this time, possibly because everyone was so pleased to have guests.

Our time in Victoria Falls was so special. The management and staff pulled out all the stops at the Victoria Falls Hotel! We were in a three-room suite that they upgraded us to on our first stay there this trip. They sent gifts and several times, treated us to appetizers in the room. We had a wonderful time enjoying their massages and food. Everyone did their best to please us. Judith and Sharon, management team, checked in with us numerous times to make sure everything was fine with us.

Victoria Falls Hotel

Victoria Falls Hotel

Our Victoria Falls tour was superb! Cynthia, our guide, and Viktor, our driver (for all of our trips in and out of Vic Falls) were absolutely wonderful. We enjoyed every minute with them. Cynthia gave us a terrific tour that we will never forget and a beautiful, personalized gift at the end in honor of our 50th anniversary.

Cynthia – Our guide in Victoria Falls

We also loved our time in Cape Town. The service and hospitality at the Andros Boutique Hotel was superb. Our accommodations were so nice and comfortable. We loved the stocked refrigerator and the many snacks left for us. A small new gourmet restaurant had just opened in the hotel and the food and service were some of the best we have encountered anywhere in the world! Unfortunately we only had the opportunity to dine there once because the government instituted a more restrictive lockdown and the restaurant had to close. Uber Eats worked okay and Daphne, management, helped us with that. There were several management and staff we interacted with that made our stay extra nice for us. We enjoyed them all! Regardless of the lockdown and the rainy windy weather (which we expected this time of year) we had a very nice time at the hotel because of the excellent service. We would highly recommend the hotel for anyone with time in Cape Town, who wants to be away, but have access to the busy V&A waterfront.

Andros Boutique Hotel

Camp Hwange was a new camp for us, but we liked it a lot. Anna and LeAnn managed the camp very well. It’s a basic tented camp, but quite comfortable with very good food. The guiding was very professional and helpful. This camp is in the NW part of Hwange and the scenery is more varied than most of the Park. Game viewing was good. However, since it was the beginning of winter and they had heavy fall rains, water was plentiful and game was not concentrated at the permanent waterholes. Still, we had great viewing with virtually no one else around of cheetah, lion, hyena, elephant and lots of varied plains game. Washington, our guide, was very good and personable plus he had such enthusiasm for his job.

Camp Hwange

Activities at Linkwasha

Linkwasha was also new to us though we had been in this concession and area several times at sister camps. Game viewing in this area was similar to that at Camp Hwange, but more elephant and plains game. No cheetah, but we did get a brief glimpse of some wild dogs. We had two wonderful walks in the Ngamo Plains area where we got to see things much more up close and personal. We felt perfectly safe with Tendai, our armed Zimpro guide.

Linkwasha Camp

The camp itself was very nice! The common areas were comfortable and very well maintained. The tents were huge with plenty of room for everything. They had every convenience; a nice long table with a charging station, mirrors and even a hairdryer. We also had a fully stocked mini bar/ refrigerator and a heated mattress pad (greatly appreciated for those cold nights!). There was a nice porch with comfortable furniture overlooking the plains in front of camp. The tents were very private and had raised walkways to the main area. We had asked for special dining times and they gladly responded. The managerial team, Edwin, and Rumby were very responsive (never forgot a request) and anticipated our needs before we did!

Linkwasha Camp

Rattray’s was our next camp and, as you well know, one of our favorites. So there is no need to rehash how nice that camp is. It is worth mentioning though that there were a couple of minor inconveniences there that the manager, Ross, handled very well and professionally. We would add AAC’s timely input and assistance in resolving these issues were very helpful and greatly appreciated. Ross also handled his everyday tasks beautifully. Our guide, Pieter, kept us entertained and happy with excellent sightings every day! We were really pleased to meet his wife and two babies also, what a lovely family!

Game drive at MalaMala Game Reserve

Tswalu Camp, what an amazing place! The experience was a bit of a surprise to us though. We booked it hoping to have a good chance to see some of the more difficult to find normally nocturnal animals. We expected a beautiful facility and were not disappointed! Tswalu was a vast uncrowded territory, even more so than expected. What surprised us was the quality of the experience and “other” game viewing, the skill of our guide, Josh, and the tracker, Ben, in finding and approaching the animals.

The animals there are less accustomed to vehicles than most safari areas. Tracking and searching was a big part of the fun. Because of the vast Southern Kalahari desert terrain and the searching for specific game, it was a very different safari experience. Spending time on the ground amongst the gangs of habituated meerkats was very special. They are a joy to watch.

Habituated meerkats and aardvarks at Tswalu Kalahari

The camp managers, Nigel, Rachel and Ernest were excellent. They never forgot any request or need. The camp facility itself was beautiful, if a bit “over the top” for our typically more basic preferences. The service was all about flexibility and our own personal preferences. We had total flexibility in the timing of our game drives, setting our dining schedule and everything else for that matter! We also did the helicopter ride to the top of the mountain where we had lunch one day with our pilot, Faunie, and our guide and tracker. That was quite an experience! We enjoyed it very much!

Tswalu The Motse

We originally thought Tswalu would be a ‘one and done’ camp for us. After a five night visit, which was perfect, we’ve changed our minds and hopefully will be able to visit Tswalu again…..even it its a bit ‘over the top’. We will just suffer through it! 

Mark and Darlene Knott, Jul 2021

 

Safari to South Africa

Hi Mark,

Below is a report on our just concluded Africa trip, which you made happen…African safari is an expensive and, at times, challenging venture. But, it is so very worth it.  It has been a bucket List item for me (with Jerusalem & the Pyramids) since my teens. I scratched that itch 15 years ago and this revisit was well worth the investment of time and money.

Thank you for your help, patience, diligence and persistence.  Of course, feel free to share my comments with prospective clients and I am happy to be a reference.

We stayed at three camps.

  • Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Reserve, adjacent to Kruger National Park east of Johannesburg,
  • Rattray’s in Mala Mala Game Reserve and
  • Phinda Vlei in Kwa Zulu Natal, south, closer to Durban and the Indian Ocean.

MalaMala Rattray’s was the second camp we visited but our favorite of the three…

MalaMala Rattray’s Camp

Cheetah and kudu can be encountered on game drives at MalaMala Game Reserve

Let’s begin with the reason people do game viewing safaris in the first place – er, game viewing. Rattray’s was hands down the best. Multiple Big 5s, leopards every day, wild dog kills. 30 species of mammals and 50 species of birds. In just 7 drives covering 15 hours…

George spotted plenty of cats on his safari

Our guide was Michael Botes. He operated solo – no tracker. He is Afrikaans and a former Special Forces sniper, Rhino protection ranger and tracker. Quite simply, he was excellent…Michael was very skillful at finding a pattern of tracks, then imagining the likely scenarios to follow. What would the animal do next?  Based on species, near term objectives, need to hunt or rest, behavioral relationship to parents, siblings, other members of pack or herd. His insight in this area continually enabled us to intercept high profile species by anticipating their next move…

If I could go to only one camp in South Africa to see the Big Five, it would, hands down, be RATTRAYS; but, only with Michael Botes as my guide….

A leopard at Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Reserve

AAC with invaluable help from my travel agent, Arleen Feen, made a very challenging expectation a reality. As it turned out, their job was far from over when we took off. Ad hoc adjustments became a daily necessity or so it seemed. Both Mark and Arleen were on the clock whenever needed.  As a result, the trip was a rousing success.

George Bubrink, Jul 2021

 

Botswana Flying Safari with the Kwando Portfolio

Hi, Alison —

Thanks again for your heroic efforts keeping our safari to Botswana on track – it  really was above and beyond!

  • The Amanzi Lodge in Harare is lovely, but had possibly one other group staying there.  The new on-site restaurant is very nice but quite expensive.

Amanzi Lodge

  • The Ilala Lodge (Victoria Falls)…Lovely place with excellent service: warthogs and hippos graze the grounds; elephants visible in the reserve across the road.

Ilala Lodge

  • Our guide of Victoria Falls, Cynthia is an absolute gem — after all the time and trouble we had getting to VF, Liz really warmed up to the trip once she showed up.  Falls tour was pleasant and not strenuous at all.

The Ilala Lodge is very close to Victoria Falls

  • Once we were in the Botswana/Kwando Camp system, all connections were perfectly smooth, professional, and right on time.
  • We were extremely impressed with the quality of the guiding and game viewing at Lagoon Camp. Splash Camp has marginally better facilities and amenities, but Lagoon Camp was much more rewarding.

Lagoon Camp

Splash Camp

  • Very impressed with Kwando personnel – they clearly have an excellent hiring and training program. Response to Liz’s fall was quick and thoroughly professional – staff spent over an hour fishing for her lost items, and recovered her glasses (!) and tripod.
  • Kwando has a person at Maun Airport to guide guests from the shuttle to check-in; which was otherwise comprehensive and much appreciated.

Hope that helps – thanks again for a wonderful trip.

Best,

Patrick Mulvanny, Jul 2021

 

Best of East and Southern Africa

Dear staff at Africa Adventure Company – To each and every person there who worked so diligently to get us in, around and back home — 

THANK YOU for an experience we cannot begin to describe. 

Everywhere we travelled, every person encountered, every COVID test, every transport was so well planned. It was as if you were right there with us!! 

You are an amazing team and did an amazing job planning our journey through Africa.  In many places we were the only two people there so we also had the undivided attention of staff personnel.  This was most appreciated when we got to South Africa during their lockdown especially at Fancourt where they set up a separate room for us to have our “takeout” breakfasts and dinners! 

I will provide you additional feedback on accommodations, food, camps, staff, etc.  in a few days as we settle in back home 

Again, the greatest of Thank You’s to the Team.

The Fillers, Jun-Jul 2021

 

EAST AFRICA

Conservation Flying Safari to Kenya

We had an incredible experience and loved Kenya!

We started at Solio – and our first game sighting was 17 rhinos just hanging out together!! More than 120 rhinos in total by the end of the two days. Our guides Ali and Charles were incredible.

We were enjoying breakfast in the bush at Solio and as we were sitting down to eat a family of rhinos walked into the area and were grazing.  We had breakfast with four rhinos behind them (about 50 feet) just grazing away!…

The Spinks with the rhinos of Solio Ranch

It was off to the Maasai Mara and Sala’s Camp – Steven and Fred, our guides, were fantastic.  We saw so much it was overwhelming.  Our favorite sighting was a coalition of 4 cheetahs who we followed around for an hour.  Also fantastic was a leopard with her cub and we sat and watched them play for a long time.

Fantastic sighting of leopards in the Maasai Mara

Giraffe Manor was even more special than we thought it would be. We loved sundowners with the giraffe and breakfast. Food and rooms were fantastic.
 

Being friendly with the residents at Giraffe Manor!

Giraffe Manor

We loved the whole experience!

Gary and Gwenyth Spinks, Jul 2021

 

Private safari in Tanzania including Tarangire and the Serengeti

Good morning Elena,

We had a wonderful time! It was everything we hoped for and more than we expected. The safari for 10 days was exceptional. Servuli was a guide that went above and beyond for us. He really tried to meet all our needs and to locate every animal each of us wished to see. His knowledge base of the area, history and general facts was outstanding. We would travel with him again given the opportunity.  The accommodations in lodges were wonderful and staff were so polite, caring and seemed genuinely interested in meeting our needs. Service everywhere was exceptional.

The trip was well organized by your company and your team on the ground. Transportation, transfers,  and accommodation were spot on. At each point of transfer there was someone waiting for us, there was never any question. Any advice given by you to us prior to the trip was extremely useful. Required paper work was clear…

Michael is collecting all the photos from all of us and we will sit down and prepare an album. Hopefully we will find a couple of great pics to forward to you. Enjoy the video!

We will definitely be recommending to our friends and family to travel to Africa with your company as we recognize the importance of a thorough plan and coordination between here and the company in Africa. You outdid yourselves.

Thank you again,

Best regards

Naomi and Michael Tashman, Jul 2021

 

“Wilds of Tanzania”

Hello Elena,

I am writing to you from Zanzibar as we are having great downtime after an exhilarating and amazing safari. I wanted to tell you what a great time we are having and how special you made our trip. The camps were wonderful, the Acacia Farm Lodge (near Ngorongoro) was very special and the Pongwe Beach Hotel in Zanzibar is so comfortable.  (The special birthday surprise for Steve was very special with a song and dance and a cake as well).

Acacia Farm Lodge

What stands out though is our driver, Sirvuli.  He was so warm, funny, pleasant, amazingly knowledgeable about the animals, the plants, the geography, and the history of the areas. He helped us appreciate the wonderful culture of the Tanzanian people. They are so gracious and you can tell they really want to please— not for the tips, but because this is in the culture.  He really wanted to make sure we saw everything we came for. He even borrowed a taxi from a friend in Arusha to take us to find Tanzanite. He could spot and tell us an animal from far away when we couldn’t see anything. Then, all of a sudden a lion and her cubs would appear. He made a point of finding out what we wanted to see — and then found it.

Wendy saw lots of lions on her safari!

On my wish list was to see a cheetah, a chase and see a lion in a tree. We saw all of these. He would stay at a spot longer than the other cars and sure enough, we would end up seeing behavior other cars missed. There was the time he saw two female lions with four cubs far away. We stayed there a while and saw a teenage elephant approaching the cubs.  Sivuli told us the elephant was trying to go after the cubs. The lions drew away the elephant from the cubs and it became a cat and mouse game in front of us. The lions won, the cubs were safe, and the elephant walked off. Had we just stopped and looked at the animals and moved on we would have not seen the dynamics of the relationships.

Lions go in trees to avoid fleas. Cheetahs go in trees to better spot prey.

Most days we were out all day with picnic lunches so we could go farther into an area. He was so determined to make everyone’s trip memorable.
 
I need to thank you, to thank Africa Adventure and your team on the ground for going over and above to make this trip the trip of a lifetime— we would all like to return again.

My warmest thanks,

Wendy Goldzband, July, 2021

 

Classic Kenya Flying Safari

What an amazing trip!!! There wasn’t a minute we didn’t enjoy. I can see why everyone who goes to Africa, immediately wants to return. So, so many memories.

The guides were tremendous. Each camp and their management was tremendous.  All so attentive and helpful.  Especially when I needed some medical attention because of a gash in my leg. What would a trip be to Africa be without experiencing their medical facilities. All is well. Gash didn’t stop me!! We bonded with all personnel we came in contact with. Sammy, our guide, at Elephant Pepper Camp in the Maasai Mara was exceptional!!

Elephant Pepper Camp

Game viewing and sundowners at Elephant Pepper Camp

Many thank you’s for helping us plan and see through the trip to Africa that I have wanted to do since I was 12 and now can check off my “bucket list”.  

With no hesitation, I will be referring all those that ask for a referral for their Africa Adventure!! 

Nancy Burbott, Jul 2021

 

Highlights of Uganda

Dear Elena,

Our recent 12 day trip to Uganda with our four children ages 16-22 was a fabulous family adventure! I give you all the credit for making it happen!  A mere two months ahead of our eventual travel date, we were loosely considering a trip to Uganda, and I made a couple of exploratory phone calls to you. I was uncertain about dates, prices, and the logistics and practicalities regarding Covid travel. But you simply took the initiative and then, in no time, presented us with an amazing and personalized tour package that we couldn’t turn down! You listened to all our wishes and answered all our questions and we are so appreciative of you planning such a wonderful trip!

The Garsides explored much of Uganda, including the equator

Originally, we looked into Uganda as simply a place where we could go gorilla trekking. But after just a little research, we quickly discovered that Uganda has so much more to offer than just gorillas! So, on your recommendation, we decided to spend 12 days touring the country and it was a perfect choice! We visited the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Murchison Falls NP, Kibale NP, Queen Elizabeth NP and Bwindi Impenetrable NP. Departing from Entebbe and driving around Uganda to these parks afforded us the opportunity to see the spectacular beauty of the country. It was also a great way to experience local daily life as we drove through countless villages and markets and saw many smiling and friendly Ugandans all along the way.

Interacting with friendly Ugandans

 

Our trip exceeded our expectations. We knew that the chimpanzee trekking and our two days of gorilla trekking would be the highlight, and it didn’t disappoint! Seeing the gorillas was truly a surreal and overwhelming experience! We saw silverbacks, mommies, juveniles, babies, and even a 6 day old infant! But in addition to chimpanzees and gorillas, we saw a beautiful country with abundant wildlife including the big five, we ate delicious food, and we stayed in superb accommodations. We especially loved the tents at Paraa Safari Lodge and Ishasha Wilderness Lodge. And, Buhoma Lodge was exceptional – our favorite stay during our vacation!

Gorilla trekking at Bwindi

A chimpanzee at Kibale; a juvenile gorilla at Bwindi

The thing that really made our trip whole was the people of Uganda. We can’t fully express our gratitude for the hospitality we received. From the lodge staff, to the local guides, to the trekking rangers, guides and porters, the people of Uganda are some of the most happy, genuine, helpful and thankful people we have ever met. They are so delighted and appreciative to have tourists returning, and they are accommodating in every way!

Of course, the most important person on our trip was our amazing guide, Vincent! As a native Ugandan, his insight and expertise on the country he knows and loves was unparalleled, and we enjoyed him so much as a person. He really was one of the best guides we have had throughout our travels over the years. He is knowledgeable, dependable, accommodating, flexible, courteous, fun (and funny!) and excited! Vincent was a thorough teacher, and he ALWAYS went the extra mile for any of our wants and needs. He was a great problem-solver when we needed help, once at a bank, and he also arranged to retrieve one of our bags when it arrived late and after we had already moved on from Entebbe. In addition, he was fantastic with the kids, always checking in with them to make sure they were happy!

We are so pleased we made the decision to go to Uganda. Covid-safe polices were in place, lodges and parks were far from capacity, gorilla permits were available on shorter than usual notice, and prices were right!  We knew that we were in good hands and always felt safe and well-cared for.  Our trip was a wonderful and unforgettable adventure for our whole family!

Sincerely,

Jan Garside, June 2021

 

Safari Adventure to Tanzania and Rwanda

We had a fantastic time.  The guide in Tanzania (Wilson) was exceptional.

We saw everything we wanted to see and more. Lots of Lions, a cheetah, a leopard, a rhino, and the usual animals that are more abundant – all beautiful and memorable.

There were so few people there that the staff were delighted to have us at the camps – most of the time (95%) we were the only ones there. Ikuka Safari Camp in Ruaha was a real plus. I’m so happy that we were upgraded for those 4 nights – we needed a break and a place with a real shower… Siringit, on the Serengeti was a very nice camp too.

Ikuka Safai Camp

Elephants in Ruaha

Siringit Safari Camp

Game drive during the Great Migration

The gorilla trek could not have been better. We were able to go with just our group of 4 and visited with a wonderful family with a Silverback, 2 babies, some rambunctious “children”, and a very pregnant female with her girlfriends. They were all around us.  Very fun; and emotional too.

Gorilla trekking allows you to get incredibly close to these primates

Thank you for the organizing job. My Gluten sensitivity issue was handled very well by all the camps. And my 2 birthday parties were a real treat – music and dancing and GF cakes. Loved it.

Lots of COVOD tests – all that went well – no problems. Thank you for putting together a very memorable trip.

Sincerely

Kathy Panetta, June 2021

 

SOUTHERN AFRICA

Flying Safari to Botwana’s Okavango Delta and Cape Town

Hi, the trip was wonderful!

– We got upgraded to a suite at The One & Only which was absolutely lovely!!!!!

The One & Only Cape Town

– Lucia, our guide was wonderful

– We were the first party to re-open Xaranna and everyone at the camp was so happy to see us, it was very very special.

Xaranna

Game viewing in the Okavango Delta

– Mark had an excellent time fishing – which is all I wanted

– The helicopter ride between the camps was a great touch

– The spa services were excellent at Sandibe! I did not do any services at Xaranna

Thank you for everything. We will go through our pictures and submit some. We had incredible sightings (even the elusive African wild dogs).

Regards,

Esther M. Amador, June 2021

 

Safari to Zimbabwe

Dear Mark and AAC:

We would like to thank you for a wonderful time in Zimbabwe! We are so appreciative for all of the expertise, advice and time planning such a fantastic trip! We carefully consulted with you and AAC to determine if it would be safe to travel to Zimbabwe in light of COVID-19 and it turned out to be a fantastic decision to travel in June 2021. Shortly before we departed, the CDC moved Zimbabwe to Tier 1 and when we arrived, we discovered that all persons in the hospitality and tourism industry have been prioritized for COVID-19 vaccinations. That information, together with excellent COVID-19 precautions and sanitation practices throughout the country, made us feel very comfortable as we traveled the parks.

We loved our stays at Amalinda, Linkwasha, Vundu and the Victoria Falls Hotel. The accommodations were excellent and staff very welcoming. We had excellent guides and safari experiences as well. We highly recommend a trip to Zimbabwe as soon as possible as it is a wonderful country and very welcoming to travelers. If we can answer any questions or provide any references to your clients, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Amalinda

Linkwasha

Vundu

Victoria Falls Hotel

We can’t wait to travel again to Zimbabwe and other parts of Africa!

Best regards,

Sandra Kossacoff and Howard Fullman, June 2021

 

Botswana and Zimbabwe African Bush Camp Safari

Hello Alison,

I want to give you some feedback about our trip. It was spectacular!!

As expected, the logistics were perfectly executed, and we moved around and got tested with ease and on schedule. Thanks for your usual perfect planning it was very important especially during this pandemic period.

The African Bush camps were welcoming, the staff well trained and friendly, a good choice.

Somalisa Acacia in Hwange was our favorite, what a way to start our safari. Clement was our guide and was our favorite guide for the entire trip. He was happy, knowledgeable, and entertaining with personal and animal stories and he found us wonderful animal encounters. Clement made sure we did our game drives on our time, and we were well warmed with ponchos and bush babies. Thanks to all staff and especially the camp host Eggy, who was also very knowledgeable, we were made comfortable and welcome. Indeed, the entire staff was outstanding. The chef assured us at each meal that there was no garlic or mushrooms! The tents had wonderful wood burning stoves which were so appreciated as it was very cold. Furthermore, the location of the camp immediately next to the water hole made our time in camp an extra safari experience with elephant families visiting each day and lions as visitors on our last morning! I highly recommend this camp and hope to return some day. Unfortunately, the Dete village visit was cancelled as school was not in session probably due to the pandemic.

Elephants at Somalisa Acacia

Somalisa Acacia

The Old Drift Lodge upriver from Victoria Falls was very luxurious and welcoming. I highly recommend it and we should have stayed two nights! Our guided walk of Vic Falls was beautiful, as always, with complete rainbows (it was a good year for rain}…The sunset cruise as expected was wonderful, however we did not see the big five as we did on our first visit there, many more boats- progress…. However, we took pictures and have memories of the huge sun setting into the Zambezi. Very nice guides.

The Old Drift Lodge

Boat cruises and visits to Victoria Falls can be arranged

Linyanti Ebony…The staff were friendly, the chef great, and the tents and main area were good…The staff arranged for a helicopter to take us to the airstrip when we left as the near one was closed, and it was a 2-hour drive, very special. We met a terrific family from Zimbabwe, Jean and Graham Landos and their 4 children. They were at Khwai with us also, and they have a farm south of Harare. Now- I think that all Zimbabweans are special, the staff at Somalisa, you, of course, Nick and Desiree Murray from Vundu camp, and now the Landos family.

Linyanti Ebony

Game viewing in Linyanti

Khwai Bush Camp was also very special, and the main area was outstanding. Our guide, Joe, was extremely knowledgeable and enjoyable and we had some wonderful animal encounters. The staff welcoming and the host Nico was exceptional and even put me in touch with my very first guide in Botswana, “Chimney” who was our guide when Bob and I did the “A la Hemingway” mobile tented camping trip you arranged for us long ago…Fortunately, Joe made sure that we got to see the school at the Khwai Bushman village, which is supported by the various camps in the area. We spent time at the preschool and Krista brought a polaroid like camera so she could take pictures of each child and give it to them to keep and show their family. The children were so cute and liked their pictures and the tootsie roll candies we brought.

Khwai village

All in all, it was an entirely fantastic trip. This picture is we three, on a morning game drive coffee stop, watching a family of Zebras. I missed being with my husband in our favorite part of the world but know how fortunate I am to have a daughter who wants to travel with me. Thus, to you Alison, and to Mark and all the staff at AAC, thanks for a tier-one top-notch Safari trip.

All my best,
 

Ardythe McCracken, June 2021

 

AAC Clients’ Experience at Tswalu Kalahari Reserve

The trip report below is from our clients, David & Katrina McIntyre, to the team at Tswalu Kalahari Reserve.

I wanted to drop you a brief note regarding the five nights that my wife Katrina and I just completed at Tswalu The Motse.

Tswalu The Motse

Game viewing at Tswalu

This is our third trip to Africa and we have been very fortunate to have shared some incredible experiences across Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa and Botswana.  We have seen some truly wonderful things, met some fantastic people and have stayed at many delightful locations.

Amongst those many experiences, this is the first time we have felt compelled to write a letter such as this.  With great respect to the many other locations that we have stayed, our experiences at Tswalu are second to none, and also left and indelible mark on Katrina and me.

For this reason, we would like to call to your attention the following individuals or experiences, and specifically ask you to pass on both our profound thanks to those individuals, and to convey our sheer joy and enthusiasm for what we experienced during our stay at Tswalu:

  • It cannot be a “great experience” without a great guide and tracker.
    • OB was incredible with his amazing eye of details, educational depth and companionship.  But it was the subtle things that set him apart: focusing on angle of approach to an animal; thinking about the right angle or lighting for photographs; and just the sheer thoughtfulness in everything he did.
    • Sim was also startling in what he did for us over five days.  Walking off into the bush with his radio to track rhinos or cheetahs is an image etched on our minds.  The incredible commitment to the chase included nearly four hours of solo fast paced walking across multiple days that culminated in a prize find: two leopards taking down an orynx.  Sim’s 25km trek and the crowning cheetah experience will live with my wife and me for the rest of our lives.
  • Likewise, the food and beverage, together with general hospitality at Tswalu, not only complemented our bush endeavors but made our stay into a truly holistic experience that is unparalleled in our African adventures.  Nigel and his team should be commended on their tireless drive towards excellence.  Further:
    • Kleinjan.  How do you even define that evening?  It was a combination of theater, fine food and wine, and incredible service in an environment that borders on escapism.  It is like nothing we have seen in our worldwide travels.  The many years of planning, thought, and commitment to excellence that obviously belies the masterpiece that is Kleinjan absolutely hit its goal of surprise and awe.  We can only say thank you.
    • The entire Tswalu staff who not only excel in their profession, but bring a unending happiness and energy to everything they say and do.  
      • We spent much time interacting with and chatting with so many of your staff and they are your greatest assets.  To name a few (and please excuse spelling errors) we are greatly thankful to, and will miss, Desmond, Freddie, Thato, Ernesto, Hardy, Rosy, Emmanuel, Sydney, Violet, Marinas  and Marley.  There were many others but some names eludes sadly.  Please thank them all.
      • The breadth of catering and variety of locations, again, is like nothing we have seen elsewhere.  Moving to Boma, Lakgaba and our own private dinner reservation with a hyena was just fantastic, and regrettable to our waistlines!
      • The combination of the above was an endless additive experience day after day and we thank everyone involved.    
    • Lastly, we would also commend the entire Tswalu team for the absolute commitment to everything South African.  The strong focus on South African food, ingredients, beverages and even toiletries (!) just continued to reinforce how fortunate we were to be in such a wonderful location.

You will see from the above that the word “thoughtful” pervades our note to you. There was deep thoughtfulness in everything we saw, touched and experienced. That thoughtfulness separated Tswalu from our other wonderful experiences and we would convey our thanks to everyone involved.

Lastly, I will note that we are Australian and are therefore not prone to “waxing lyrical” as we have done in this letter.  But we felt compelled to write this you to put a final note on our experience, and to ensure you understand what a prize Tswalu is to both my wife and me.

On our first trip to Africa, someone said to us that “you can leave Africa, but Africa never leaves you”. It is very true as I am sure you are well aware.  But for us now, our time at Tswalu’s little piece of the red sands of the Kalahari will likewise never leave us. More so that – thoughtfully – we take home with us a tiny glass vial of red Kalahari sand that was thoughtfully gifted to us by Nigel and his team (and which will share pride of place on our mantle in our home).

Thank you to all involved, be well, and may you and the team enjoy great success.

David & Katrina McIntyre, June 2021

 

MOROCCO

Dynasty and Desert Tour of Morocco

We are having a fabulous trip. Thanks for arranging it. 

This is fun but there are no elephants in Morocco!

Dan Wright, June 2021