CLIENTS TRIP REPORTS SOUTHERN AFRICA: JUN – SEP 2021
Safari to East and Southern Africa
We’ve been home two weeks now and are trying to get back into some kind of “normal” routine again. Of course, I’ve been sorting photos, and will soon send you some photos and videos for consideration in the AAC photo contest.
Our seventh photo safari was wonderful. We made so many new memories, saw lots of animals and birds that were new to us, and met some great people as well.
Our favorite guide was David, at Offbeat Mara. While the other guides were good, David was especially good, and we had a great time getting to know him and learning from him. We would highly recommend him to others. Jennifer and her staff at Offbeat were all very kind, actually bringing in special water for me and making special ice cubes from it, because they purify their water with iodine (my allergy). It was great to have our private guide, Patrick, at Il Moran, and the special “photographic” vehicle. One thing I hadn’t really thought of until we arrived is that getting down in the floor to take photos is best when the grass is quite low. While we were there in Kenya, the grass was fairly tall, so no floor shots. Lots of other good photos and videos, however, and very nice to have the vehicle to ourselves.
While the timing of the migration was apparently a bit later than normal this year and we didn’t see any actual river crossings, we did see large herds on the open plains of Kenya near the Mara River, and that was very neat. The hot air balloon ride was also very nice. Peaceful to float above the plains and the river.
The food at all camps was quite good, but I think Ngala won the “prize”. Their chef, Oscar, was somehow not told of my allergy needs, but he made a special point of talking to me every single day about what special dishes he had planned for me. He really went out of his way and worked hard to keep me safe and well fed.
…African Rock was a great one-night stop, as always, and the food is still as good as ever. We met Chef Joyce there two trips ago, and she is still there cooking wonderful meals. We will definitely want to stay there again….
….We were fortunate to see the white lions at Ngala, as well as a large pride of lions with cubs that had killed a buffalo and feasted on it for three days. Though we had many other wonderful sightings, including wild dogs (with six puppies), we did notice a scarcity in the density of animals we had been used to seeing in past years, even in Botswana where the density has always been very high. As tourism picks up again, I hope that will change. It’s been a hard time in Africa and still is…
On our last night at Splash Camp in Botswana, we were the only two remaining guests. They whole staff came into the dining area and sang to us – something I’ve always loved about Botswana. Thank you and the AAC staff for a great trip.
With warm regards,
Mary and Larry Lippold, Aug-Sep 2021
Safari to Rwanda, Kenya and Zimbabwe
As we are waiting our flight in Johannesburg back to the states, we decided it would be a good time to send you a note about our trip.
You selected excellent sites for us to visit. We thoroughly enjoyed all of them. The Gorilla trek was awesome. Magezi did a fabulous job of hosting us, answering our questions and making arrangements for us. Mountain Gorilla View Lodge was conveniently located and the staff went out of their way to take care of us…We were really glad we took 2 gorilla treks. What an awesome experience.
Our transfer to Little Governors Camp went very well. The camp was a delight. Food was excellent, service was superb. Perhaps due to few customers, we were assigned to our own tour guide Oliver. We very much enjoyed having the truck to ourselves. Oliver worked very hard at finding all of the animals. In fact, we consistently came back late because Oliver was willing to look for new sightings. Through all of his hard work Oliver was able to find the Big Five.
…Our transfers to Vundu Camp in Mana Pools went as scheduled. The camp staff worked overtime to make us feel welcome. Siraaj took us on game drives each day and was a wonderful guide. We especially enjoyed our walking tours with animal encounters. And Barb even caught a Tiger fish.
Flights to Victoria Falls came off without a hitch. We found Victoria Falls to be a relaxing way to end our visit to Africa. The Ilala Lodge was fine. We thank you with providing us with the Tour of the Falls. Precious did a great job telling us about the history and culture of Zimbabwe.
Two of the meet and assists did an especially good job, Nick at Johannesburg. Another young fellow, who had only been doing the job for 4 months, we believe Swiss port, handled our processing with skill and ease.
We also wanted to thank the flight staff that arranged our flights and coordinated the Covid tests and various flying documents. A daunting task.
Everywhere we went our guides, hosts all knew you. When we said we met you and that you organized our tour, they asked why you didn’t autograph our caps. Overall a fabulous trip with memories for many years. Our only regret is it is time to go home.
Thank you for arranging our trip.
Bob & Barb Remley, Aug-Sep 2021
Legends of Zimbabwe Safari
We absolutely loved every minute of our trip. Your assistance in coordinating every step of the trip from selecting the best locations to all the logistics of help with luggage and transports and covid testing was invaluable. We appreciated that you were on top of our canceled flight and called us late night to make alternative plans. It worked out well. When we emailed to alert the AAC to a diversion of plans due to issues with fueling the plane, they were already aware.
Ilala Lodge in Victoria Falls was lovely. The staff was great, food was amazing and rooms beautiful. We loved the location. The best part was the warthogs, mongoose and hippos that visited right in the back yard. We walked to the Victoria Falls Hotel for a lunch and cocktails one afternoon and the history was impressive and the food delicious. That said, I’d still pick the Ilala Lodge again if we were to go back. Cynthia gave us a tour of the falls and it was a spectacular sight. She was so kind, warm and knowledgeable, it was a great way to start the trip. If you recall, for cost purposes, we almost cut out the falls and I’m so glad we decided to do it. Cynthia gave us some nice insight into the local culture as well which was interesting. She even gave us some good chuckles and she taught me a few customs I need to pass on to my husband…lol. I even reached out to her when we didn’t hear about our pick up the next day and she was on top of it and helpful.
All of the drivers in Victoria Falls were great, each added more insight into the local situation and culture and were happy to chat. One suggested the sunset cruise when we didn’t have dinner plans and this was a great suggestion. It is unfortunate for the local people that tourism has not picked up much yet, I’m sure this is very difficult financially. For us, it was lovely getting so much attention. The cruise was a great idea, they provided delicious snacks (enough to be considered dinner) and drinks and we saw so many animals on the banks. It was a very pleasant evening. The Elephant Encounter was like nothing we have ever experienced. I was happy to hear that they didn’t have any babies, I hope that means the poaching situation is improving. To touch elephants like that was incredible. The moment we were walking and saw them we started to cry. I was worried it might be a bit staged and if the elephants would be happy, they seemed to be happy and I was glad to hear those that recover and want to join a local wild herd can do so…
Little Makalolo in Hwange is impressive. Very high quality all around in service, aesthetics, food and accommodations. The tents were gorgeous and the entire camp well maintained and cared for. A common theme in both camps is that they feed you well. The amount of meals and snacks was wonderful. The meals were right out of a 5-star restaurant, very impressive. We had so many unbelievable experiences on our trip, one was sitting at the pool while the elephants came right up to drink from the pool. We were able to experience this on multiple occasions and it felt like a dream. I never imagined the abundance of elephants that we saw. They certainly seemed like a healthy bunch with lots of babies (yet we did see one sick baby left by its mom and later die, nature can be sad). I do worry that the abundance may end up being detrimental to the vegetation, we heard that corridors between various parks is on the agenda of some organizations and I hope there is progress in this venture. We were also told that the camp has anti-poaching patrols which I hope is true and helpful. I would highly recommend this location. Our guide Richard was very knowledgeable and friendly and we were very happy with his service, he took good care of us. The general routine was 3 hours of downtime in the afternoon, when he learned we were not the napping type he was happy to get us started back on a game drive early or sitting in the log pile early. Overall a wonderful experience…
Vundu Camp in Mana Pools was also impressive perhaps for slightly different reasons. It was very nice seeing the difference in landscape from Hwange to Mana Pools doing these two in the same trip was great to really highlight the similarities and difference of the nature and being on the river. Vundu accommodations were lovely. The rooms were very nice, spacious, wonderful beds and linens and we loved the indoor and outdoor bathroom facilities. There was a blind we could walk to, to watch the activities out back in a bog. This camp was a bit more casual and it generated more camaraderie and conversation between camp associates and guests. The main living/dining platform was a great area to socialize. There was a film crew doing a documentary on the wild dogs which added some additional excitement around the dogs behavior and movements. Food was exceptional. I’m a pretty fussy eater and each meal was better than the next. Meals were more family style which is different than other camps we have been at but we loved it, it allowed for more bonding and connectivity with the camp team and other guests. The camp manager, Nicki was a hoot, she always made you laugh. What made Vundu so different was the intimate connection owner-guide Nick Murray has with the wildlife in the area. Having been around so long, not only was he incredibly knowledgeable about the animals and behavior in general but also knew the various herds, packs and individuals for so long that he could speak to the change and adaption over time. You could feel his passion and connection to the wildlife. He introduced us to Tusker when we first arrived and I’m not sure there is anything more incredible than peacefully sharing space with a wild elephant. This also lent itself to being able to get up close and on the ground with some animals, getting out of the car and walking was a very special activity and connection. Nick was also very personable in sharing stories which were incredible to absorb. I would highly recommend this camp.
Lastly the added night at African Rock was a perfect way to round out the trip. It was nice to spend a day relaxing before the long journey home. Again, the resort was beautiful, we had massages that were wonderful, the chef was fantastic and we had a lovely relaxing day by the pool. A perfect way to end a wonderful trip!
I have so many photos, as I sort through I will send some and hope to win the contest, we will definitely be back to Africa in the future so a discount would go a long way! I did # The Africa Adventure Company in several of my Facebook posts.
Thanks for your guidance and checking in on our adventure,
Suzanne Shindle, Sep 2021
Safari to Botswana with Specialist Guide Brooks Kamanakao
Hello, Africa Adventure Company – many thanks for a great safari this year! It sounds as if you would like some review-type information, so here goes:
The Animals ~
Perhaps it was due to covid causing a lack of safaris/human visitors the past year, but the animals were very abundant this trip (Aug-Sept 2021). Every species had lots of babies – baby ellies, baby giraffes, baby cheetahs (5 cubs with one young cheetah mother!), baby lions, baby hyenas, baby wild dogs, etc. – many more than my prior safari in 2017. It was incredible.
The Guide ~
What can I say about Brooks Kamanakao? He’s such an amazing guide – extremely knowledgeable about the entire ecosystem that the animals live in, as well as the animals themselves, and shares his encyclopedic knowledge in entertaining and interesting ways – stories, demonstrations, predictions about animal behavior that unfolds in front of us exactly as he predicts. During an evening drive we came across three female lions eating a baby elephant carcass. As we stopped to watch, he explained that jackals, hyenas, and vultures would show up. Hyenas would require 3 to one lion in order to have a chance at battling the lions for the carcass, and would we want to stay and watch this unfold? We did and stayed several hours while jackals circled, vultures waited, and the hyenas gathered just as he described. The first to arrive called for reinforcements, and they appeared through dusk and into darkness until there were enough to make the lions pay attention. I was able to record the hyena calls on my phone and send this incredible sound to my family in the US and Sweden. In the end, the lions left without a fight, and the hyenas were rewarded with a nice dinner. We on the other hand were late for dinner at the camp, but this extended scene was so engrossing that none of us were aware of time – an invaluable feeling of being completely in the present with wild animals living their lives and deaths. This is one of Brooks’ talents – predicting and delivering a truly amazing experience.
Additionally, Brooks has endless energy, a happy spirit, and a great sense of humor – all traits that make what I’m guessing is a large variety of guests from around the world feel comfortable while spending hours each day with him.
Another impressive trait that I cannot fail to highlight – he is a great tracker. We were forced to use camp trackers while at the Kwando camps, and he found the animals we were looking for long before the camp guides and trackers – specifically, cheetahs on the move, wild dogs in a location opposite from the tracker’s guess, and a family of lions eating a fresh wildebeest carcass that the camp tracker completely missed.
Never say never, but I probably would not do another safari without Brooks – too spoiled by his excellent guiding and great hosting/hospitality skills.
The Camps ~
This time we visited 5 camps. In order – Lebala, Lagoon, Gomoti, Chitabe Lediba, and Kwara. The staff, tents, and food at each were excellent. I personally preferred Chitabe and Lagoon, but they all were very comfortable and hospitable….
Chitabe Lediba – love this camp. The managers and staff seem like they have many years of experience with guests and with each other – this creates a relaxing, fun atmosphere and as if there is no problem that they cannot solve. Their tents have so many nice, thoughtful touches – kikois for guest use, coffee setups, etc. And the animals – wow. A great all-around experience.
Many thanks to Szilvia for helping Carolyn plan a great trip and make adjustments as needed.
Best to everyone at AAC
Catherine Kennedy, Aug-Sep 2021
The Best of Southern Africa including South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe
I am finally settling into my daily routine, reluctantly, after returning from my remarkable experience in wild, wonderful, mesmerizing Botswana on safari. The only saving grace is that I am fortunate to live in Florida where I am surrounded by some of the same beautiful birds, like herons, hawks, egrets, and flamingos that are also found on the African continent. These serve as a good reminder that nature is all around us if we just take the time to look.
The purpose of this letter is to give you feedback on the various aspects of my trip. First let me say, without reservation, that each and every member of your local staff was superb—very knowledgeable, pleasant, helpful and responsive. They took care of every detail and the trip came off without a hitch. I am so pleased that you convinced me to travel to Africa this year, despite the inconveniences due to the pandemic. I found each camp well prepared to ensure a safe stay.
My approach in providing feedback is that I will name the hospitality “award winners” in each category.
Best camp accommodation overall: MalaMala Sable Camp. Large roomy suite with A/C; comfy beds; loved the outdoor shower.
Best in-country service: In Johannesburg, your team was “Johnny on the spot” and helped me navigate the airport and transfers. They stayed with me when there were airline delays. Always on time! Special mention goes to Yvonne Christian in Johannesburg who went above and beyond to help me when my return flight was cancelled.
Best/most welcoming staff in camp: Little Vumbura (Okavango Delta). Management went out of their way to make me feel included and arranged for a member of management to dine with me each day. I got to know each person better and found all extremely pleasant, friendly and welcoming. They made me feel special and took great care of me.
Best game viewing: Chitabe Camp (Periphery of Moremi Reserve). Awesome game variety and experience! Saw it all and then some! Lots of Big Cats–my faves!
Best guide: Tank at Chitabe was outstanding! Knew not only where and how to find the animals but we saw them in activities; e.g. lion gorging on their prey; female lion with her playful cubs. He was also most knowledgeable about how to position the vehicle in the light for the best photograph.
A close tie for best guide goes to Peter at Mala Mala Sable. He was equally knowledgeable, knew how to find the animals, and he was outstanding spotting nocturnal animals during night drives. E.g. he located lions mating at night. In addition, he was very pleasant and we enjoyed spending time with him at dinner each evening.
Most picturesque camp: Little Vumbura. I really liked taking the motor boat across the water before starting our drive. The natural environment was beautiful.
That’s about it for now. If you have any questions about my input, I am happy to discuss them with you. Please give my thanks to your entire team at AAC. And thanks, of course, to you, Mark, for planning an exceptional safari for me that exceeded my expectations and for convincing me to go in 2021!
Pamela Michaels, Aug-Sep 2021
Botswana Desert & Delta Flying Safari
COVID safety in country: We had been anxious about all the COVID logistics before we left due to the Delta variant. It was wonderful and reassuring to see how seriously both South Africa and Botswana took COVID safety, just as you had indicated. Botswana also did the rapid antigen test for our entire flight when we landed in Maun, and we heard from the other guests that the same was the true for their flights. So Botswana are doing this additional layer of testing for maximum safety and it actually made us feel better to know that every guest we met in camps had been tested both in their home country and again on arrival in Botswana…
City Lodge: Thank you for suggesting City Lodge for our overnight in Johannesburg. It worked out beautifully and really was the best option
Linyanti Bush Camp: The highlight was reconnecting with Esse. It was wonderful to get to know him better and we had a lot of fun. The camp was nice and staff were warm and welcoming…Esse did take us on an all-day trip to Savuti which was wonderful. He is an excellent tracker and guide, and we saw the Marsh Pride of lions, leopard, elephants, lots of raptors and other game. He mentioned that Savuti is generally crowded but due to the pandemic we saw only a few other vehicles in Savuti all day. We did enjoy the scenic helicopter flight and mokoro ride at Linyanti. The camp staff also had a delicious cake for Joe and my 26th wedding anniversary which was a lovely surprise!…
Tau Pan: We loved Tau Pan and the Kalahari! We didn’t know what to expect and were blown away with the landscape, bird life and wildlife, including the huge Kalahari lions patrolling and roaring through camp at night and lions in general passing through camp regularly on their way to / from the waterhole. The chalets are well designed with the insulated rooms helping to keep a steady temperature through the heat of the day and cool of the night. We ultimately didn’t use the sleep out experience as it was a bit chilly at night and early morning. We also loved our Bushman tracker Scooper who was a character!
Pom Pom: We also loved Pom Pom! The camp is in a beautiful, iconic Okavango Delta setting and what was surprising to us was the incredible wildlife which exceeded what we could have imagined – birds, amazing interaction with wild dogs and puppies at the den, rhino, cheetah, lions with cubs, leopard, elephants, an aardwolf, and so much more! Pom Pom and the neighboring Nxabega camp are friendly with each other and share sightings which broadens the game viewing areas for both. There is also a lot of wildlife in camp including a pack of hyenas feeding on an impala one night, as well as elephants feeding on jackal berries! The camp staff were also warm and welcoming and they gave Joe and I a bottle of sparkling wine and a gift for our anniversary!…
Kwara Camp: This is a beautiful, newly renovated camp and the staff including the manager and assistant manager were very nice. They had a special dinner for us the first night and in general the food at Kwara is restaurant quality. Kwara and Splash seem to share game drive sightings and the concession is very productive as well. We did have good sightings…
Lagoon Camp: Lagoon Camp has a boat access right from camp, so we skipped game drives for 2 full days of game viewing by boat…We did have nice sightings at Lagoon camp as well and liked the camp and concession
Camps were about half full on average, with fewer guests sometimes. Most guests were from the US this time, including several who were clients of AAC!
Nancy Siepman, Aug 2021
Botswana Premier Safari to DumaTau and Mombo
…DumaTau was very nice. Only five individuals there when we were there. Wildlife rather spotty, could have been slightly windy conditions. Luncheon on the boat one afternoon was a pleasant surprise. Our boat trip on the previous afternoon featured watching three young elephants jostling around on shore. Two were trying to push each other into the water and eventually they both plundered in. A very cute moment occurred when the most playful did a “backflip” and completely submerged itself, leaving its trunk denoting its location. I think my daughters made videos of that sequence and once they find time to review all their photography, one may be able to forward that scene to you, if such a video would be useful. The kids got a very intimate introduction to African wildlife early on their first morning, when in the dawning light a hippo mom and baby grunted and splashed past their tents.
Mombo is Mombo. The kids loved every minute. They interacted so happily with the staff and Yompy. The first days a bit chilly and breezy and may have held down the sightings, but the other three days were glorious. The floodplain surrounding the facility was filled with wildlife. I paid more attention to the multitude of birds that I may have not noticed in previous visits. They acquired many tracking insights from Yompy and even chuckled and occasionally mimicked his game calls. Mpho and her entire staff were terrific; I always depart with a very warm feeling towards them. Presence of a few lions and leopards near the tents and walkways not rare. I believe more tents were about to fill as we left. The kitchen staff went out of their way to serve away from camp. They setup a refreshment table very close to the airstrip upon our arrival. The “surprise” lunch awaiting us one afternoon was splendid, as usual. They also setup a sumptuous dinner setting in the bush the evening before our departure, the entire perimeter lined with lanterns. My mission was a success!…
Oh! Thank you for the nice Mombo tee for Nancy and the Mombo cap for me 😀👌🏼
Terry Uyeyama, Aug-Sep 2021
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.
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 Hotel – I 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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
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…
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…
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….
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.
- The Ilala Lodge (Victoria Falls)…Lovely place with excellent service: warthogs and hippos graze the grounds; elephants visible in the reserve across the road.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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
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!!!!!
– 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.
– 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).
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.
We can’t wait to travel again to Zimbabwe and other parts of Africa!
Sandra Kossacoff and Howard Fullman, June 2021
Botswana and Zimbabwe African Bush Camp Safari
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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