Clients Trip Reports Southern Africa: Oct – Dec 2022
Family Safari to Botswana
We had a great safari. It was fun to get our family together in Africa once again and to see the experience through Ryan’s eyes since this was his first time in Africa.
Mashatu was great to see in the green season. I think we saw leopards on every game drive. We also saw some little lion cubs, and a lot of newborn impalas. We met Sean at Tau Pan and had the camp to ourselves. We were lucky to see lion, leopard, cheetah, a lot of bat eared foxes and even an elephant and cape fox. The sunrises and sunsets could not be beat. MMA Dinare was a pleasant surprise. The rooms, walkways and main area were beautiful. We watched a cheetah hunting only to be thwarted by some baboons… It was nice to have animals hanging around camp. Ryan’s first lion siting was very exciting as we turned a corner and came within a foot of a big male next to Ryan’s seat. Ryan jumped towards Madeline and the startled lion also jumped up. We also had a leopard mock charge and growl at us. There were a lot of baby antelope and a lot of predators. We saw the most action at Lebala including two wild dog hunts Most of us had a hard time watching the kills. We also saw three young cheetah, who had just separated from their mother, hunting. They finally caught a baby reedbuck after about five unsuccessful attempts at other animals including a large kudu. The kids said this was the best trip yet! Our guides were all excellent and Nic added so much at Lebala. He is so knowledgeable and conveys that knowledge so we can all understand it. The kids said they learned a lot from him.
Thank you Saskia for putting it together. Except for the delayed luggage and not receiving our luggage at SFO on our return, everything ran very smoothly.
W.M, Dec 2022
Flying Safari to Botswana
The trip was FABULOUS! Africa Rock Hotel was great. The same driver (Givmo) transported us to and from the hotel. He had transported us in 2021 and remembered us. Food and service were great!!
We had a lovely candlelight anniversary dinner at Pom Pom served in our tent, and another lovely candlelight dinner at Kwara. Not sure if that was intentional, but it was great!! Guides at Pom Pom (Mike and Eba) and the guides at Kwara (Stanley and Kaiser 1) were exceptional!! We thought Mma Dinare was a good camp, but they seemed to be less organized than the other two…however, we had some great sightings!!
We saw a lot of wildlife including lots of babies!! Mike and Eba at Pom Pom made sure that we found the only rhino in the area thus completing our sighting of the Big Five.
Menzies were at the appropriate places at the appropriate times and were very nice. The Menzies lounge in the Johannesburg airport was a nice place to rest while we waited for our return flight.
The pilots of those small aircraft are exceptional. We were waiting at the airstrip at Kwara to go to Mma Dinare. When the plane touched down a tsessebe darted across the strip just in front of the plane. That pilot brought the aircraft to a safe stop. It happened so fast. Had the pilot not been totally focused, it could have been a lot different.
Thank you for planning such a wonderful adventure!! Can’t wait till the next one!
Luci and Mark Ginsberg, Nov 2022
The Best of Botswana with Specialist Guide Brooks Kamanakao
We are in Maun now. Safari was simply mind boggling. Sightings beyond belief.
I can’t tell you how much we love our guide, Brooks. He is too good to be true. He is passionate every single second. He has super human sight and hearing, even by guide standards. There is no question that we (and others) saw things that we would never have seen without him. He is funny and playful and pretty much a genius. He is caring about people and respectful of the animals. He is wonderful beyond words.
Planning the next one with Brooks. Will get right on that with you.
Helen Reinhardt, Nov 2022
Adventure to Botswana and Cape Town
It was an amazing trip.
We had a great time in Cape Town with our touring guide Andrew. Very nice and very knowledgeable with some great ideas. Very much enjoyed the Queen Victoria Hotel. Beautiful area with Table Mountain, the peninsula and the wine country.
Botswana was fantastic. It was the best game viewing we have had. So many cats! Saw a leopard take down a baby impala. Quite a sight. Lots of lions and cheetahs, as well as elephants, giraffes, hippos etc.
The accommodations at Pom Pom were wonderful. But when we got to Kwara and saw our “tent”, it was amazing. Everyone we talked to there were amazed with the tents. Some said it was like Four Seasons in the middle of nowhere. The staff at both camps were so friendly and helpful. And, the guides were great at finding the game and explaining it all to us.
It was all worth the very long travel days.
I don’t think the entire trip could have been any better than it was. And, I’m not surprised. Every safari you have arranged for us has been wonderful.
Thanks so much for a trip of a lifetime.
Barry and Candy Spector, Nov 2022
Safari to Tanzania and Zambia and Island Getaway to Mozambique
Once again, we had a wonderful time on safari exploring new parks and camps in Zambia and Southern Tanzania.
We started our trip with a couple of days in Dubai. It was a good way to adapt to the time change and a very interesting place. A highlight was our dinner at Orfali brothers bistro and the Aladdin city walking tour. We then flew to Lusaka for two nights and relaxation at Latitude 15. We went to the Zambia museum and visited a very nice local art gallery.
Finally, after 5 days we started the wildlife part of our trip.
Here are some highlights:
Shumba (Kafue National Park) – very friendly camp. Great guide-Willard. Multiple lion sightings, plains game, hippos, leopard, porcupine and birds. Would love to see early season when there is more water.
Puku Ridge (South Luanga) – Very upscale. Great rooms with AC and plunge pools. Water hole with game viewing in camp and also photographic hide. Very attentive management/ owners.
Chiawa (Lower Zambezi) – really nice camp in an old school way. Multiple choices for activities and tons of wildlife. Saw large pack of wild dogs as well as lions, leopard, lots of elephants, hippos etc. Enjoyed boating and canoeing for a different perspective. Guides changed depending on activity, but all were knowledgeable.
Azura Benguerra (Benguerra Island, Mozambique) – definitely paradise, personalized service and pampering. Enjoyed boating, snorkeling, an island tour. Swimming and relaxation before heading back to the bush…..
Sand River (Selous/Nyere) – a very friendly camp. Our guide Hussein was knowledgeable and enthusiastic. I liked the open rooms and deck overlooking the river. The couple we shared a safari vehicle and guide with had signed up for fly camping one night and we were told we could pay and do it too. It turned out the two husbands did not want to go so it ended up just the two women. It was a fun experience! We had productive game drives as well as some fun boat rides. The stone pool was wonderful on hot afternoons.
Kigelia (Ruaha) -such a scenic park! We saw the aftermath of a buffalo kill with a huge pride eating. Also lots of buffaloes, giraffes and elephants. This was the first time we have seen Baobabs blooming and new leaves.
Greystoke Mahale – wonderful as ever! One easy and one strenuous chimp trek. Great guiding by Butati and Mwiga. Really friendly attentive staff. Since we were there in 2016, the lake level has changed and the lodge was moved back from its former location.
Chada Katavi – such a wild place! (despite the dusty main road and trucks going through the park). So many hippos including one who was likely just born. We saw lots of buffaloes with large herds at a distance, many giraffe, impala, eland. We enjoyed the storks, pelicans and other birds congregating at the limited remaining water holes. Our guide John was wonderful-attentive and enthusiastic. He quickly understood what we already knew and was able to tell us many more details about the animals we saw.
We suffered a little from the heat but overall it was a wonderful safari and we are already dreaming of the next one.
Finally- it was really heartwarming to see that the owners of Sand Rivers, Greystoke and Chada Katavi have made efforts to promote local people to management positions in their camps and that at least some are including women in those roles.
Thank you again for arranging an amazing safari and taking care of every detail because as you know the difference between good and great “is all in the details”.
Vikki Canfield and Tom Adler, Oct 2022
Best of Southern Africa
Dear Elena and team –
Our entire trip was AMAZING!! Logistically there was not a single snafu…
Quick summary (OK maybe not that quick 😬):
Victoria Falls: The Palm River Hotel, despite an inauspicious driveway approach, was totally classy yet relaxed. The food was excellent for both breakfast and dinner, the staff charming, and we enjoyed the peaceful grounds and the little pool. Their boat trip that we did our first evening right from the property was an excellent way to start the trip, beautiful sunset, crocodile and elephant, lots of hippos, nice company, free drinks (we laughed a little at the bar where were just large clear bottles with a label across the, stating GIN or VODKA). Of course, it was nothing like the wildlife we saw later, but a great no-stress start to the trip.
Our guide Precious the next day was superb, as I am sure you know, as was our driver, Mike. We enjoyed the falls, lunch, and ESPECIALLY the visit to the school and village homestead. Could not interest anybody in bungee jumping though….
Chobe: On to Muchenje Safari Lodge which was so fabulous, my favorite. The setting at Sable Alley was maybe more dramatic, but the welcoming family atmosphere provided by Kiddy and Toff (?spelling) at Muchenje was unsurpassed. Their scheduling was maybe slightly over-ambitious, one day we were on a game drive from 10-7 which was a little long, but the walking safari and day on the boat were the absolute best, the guides and food were great and we made some real friends. I am guessing we saw 2000+ elephants along the Chobe, loved-loved-loved the boat ride, and saw several kills being eaten (lions, jackals, vultures), and tons of gorgeous birds, although didn’t see my leopard there despite looking hard…
Khwai Reserve: Sable Alley was gorgeous albeit HOT (October in Botswana, I know, no surprise). They were great at getting us up early though, having a nice long built-in siesta where we plopped ourselves in or by the pool, and going out again in the PM. No walking safari options although this had been listed. We did get to do a short mokoro ride at sunset which was beautiful and restful, it was a 30 min drive away but we did a game drive on way and back. Staff wonderful, beautiful tents, great food although missed the family style meals that Muchenje did so we actually just invited another couple to eat with us. Loved the swampy delta area, it was nice to see a bit more green than in Chobe, got to see my leopard and much more! Our guide Mario was excellent, extremely knowledgeable. Alas, couldn’t find the wild dogs, I guess they had seen them day before our arrival, but another reason to return…
No problems flying to Cape Town and the Victoria & Alfred Hotel was even nicer than in the photos, our window view of Table Mountain felt like an amazing luxury. Climbing up the mountain the next day was one of the true highlights of the trip, we lucked out with perfect blue skies, little wind…My husband is especially interested in plants, so we heard all about the fynbos vegetation around us in detail, our guide was extremely knowledgeable and climbs that mountain almost daily. She was good at assessing our pace and physical condition, and I was super proud at having made it up the Kasteelspoort trail in 5 hrs as I’d been a little worried, not currently in the best of shape. We topped it off with dinner at Codfather in Camps Bay (Uber in Cape Town is a wonderful thing, most of the drivers were from Zimbabwe, interesting to hear about their employment journeys). Best fish ever.
Can I say how happy penguins make me? Our peninsula tour the next day was great despite a cloud cover and occasional drizzle, we also got in a late afternoon stop and tour of Kirstenbosch Gardens after the clouds had lifted. It was so educational and humbling to have a guide (Suleiman) who grew up during apartheid, and we had such easy conversation with him, he was extremely knowledgeable. I would definitely visit the townships upon a return – I had been hesitant as it felt like voyeurism but he provided lots of good ways to think about it.
On our free day we went to the District Six Museum, took an excellent free historical tour of the city led by a graduate student, had a late lunch and walk in and around Bo-Kaap then dinner at Pot Luck Club with a couple we had met in Vic Falls but ran into in Cape Town. Fun setting and delicious.
I was pleasantly surprised at how SOCIAL such a trip turns out to be, that element is quite different from traveling with your kids as we did in Tanzania 8 years ago…We made a number of friends with whom we exchanged addresses and photos, mainly Brits or Canadians, but all the locals we met in all 3 countries were warm, full of humor, and generous with their time, the US could learn from them….
Thank you all again for such a great, great experience, it was everything I had hoped for and more, we hope to be back! I already miss the days where my biggest concern was whether or not we would see a leopard and if I had remembered to bring the spare camera battery…
Best, Tacha and Tom Jager, Oct 2022
Legends of Zimbabwe Safari
It was absolutely an amazing trip, a trip of a lifetime for me. Not to say that I will never go back to Africa, but if I don’t , this trip fulfilled every desire I could imagine for a trip to Africa.. We saw more animals and birds, more than I imagine possible.
We thoroughly enjoyed the first camp, Little Makalolo. The camp staff was amazing. And our guide, Elias, truly an interesting, observant, kind, thoughtful gentleman. If I were to go back, I would go to this camp again and request Elias. He taught us, showed us, listened to our interests and fulfilled them. I just can’t say enough about Elias, he was truly amazing.
We enjoyed Vundu Camp in Mana Pools as well. It was a very welcoming camp with great staff.
The accommodations in both camps were excellent. The food was very good as well. I would say my only disappointment was that it was American/European cuisine rather than some traditional African fare. I do understand the reason for that but I guess I was hoping for a little more taste of their culture.
Our time in Victoria Falls was enjoyable. The Ilala Lodge Hotel was very nice, air conditioning after the safari camps was quite refreshing. Our driver and tour guide Cynthia were both very good. We really appreciated our time with Cynthia; she was great to talk with and really very informative…
Our flights were an interesting time too. Small planes, good pilots.
I appreciate the trip that you designed for us. I will recommend your company to others.
Marcine Mullen, Oct 2022