Insider info: Michelle’s take on her safari in Kenya
Feb06

Insider info: Michelle’s take on her safari in Kenya

We frequently revisit well trodden paths to make sure that they are still the paths we want our clients to travel. We want to ensure that the places and products we align with are indeed delivering what we promise our guests. We love to investigate new places, visit never-before-seen destinations, and get a first-hand experience before we package it up and present it to guests who put their trust in us. With that in mind, our holiday planners get to gallivant all over the globe, testing and trialling new experiences. African safari expert and Product Manager, Michelle, recently departed for a whirlwind Kenyan adventure and then settled in Botswana to attend the annual Travel & Tourism Expo. We interrogated her once she got back and now we’re excited to share her findings with you! This is Michelle’s take on her safari in Kenya.  She checked in and overnighted at Elephant Bedroom Camp, Saruni Samburu Lodge, Sarova Lion Hill, Porini Mara Camp, Porini Lion Camp, Elephant Pepper Camp, Serian ‘The Original’, Governor’s Camp, Nairobi Tented Camp, Elewana Tortilis Camp, and Porini Amboseli Camp. She visited and inspected Larsen’s Tented Camp, Ol Pejeta Cottages, Sweetwaters Tented Camp, Porini Rhino Camp, The Cliff, Porini Cheetah Camp, Ol Seki Mara Hemingways, Olare Mara Kempinski, Mahali Mzuri Camp, Mara Plains Camp, Karen Blixen Camp, Kicheche Mara Camp, Serian Camps in Mara North, Sanctuary Olonana, Kichwa Tembo, Governor’s Camp properties, Ol Tukai, and Tamarind Tree Hotel. SS: Have you been to Kenya before? What was new to you? Michelle: All of Kenya was new! I visited some of the main safari areas: Samburu National Reserve, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Lake Nakuru and the Masai Mara – both the National Reserve and various private conservancies. I loved everything about the country. The people were great, scenery was lovely and there was a diversity of wildlife across the various reserves. I was super lucky to see a few black rhino, which I had not seen for over 20 years. SS: What was your favourite moment overall? Michelle: I had the best lion sighting ever on my last game drive in the Masai Mara, towards the end of the day. It had been raining quite a bit during the day and the night before and the sun had finally come out. We sat watching this huge pride of lions – the Ridge Pride – for about 90 minutes, with our sundowner drink in hand. The Ridge Pride had a few adult females with cubs of different ages. The lions were happy the sun came out as they were all frisky and playing with each other and the moms and...

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Explore the best bits of Botswana in 10 days
Feb05

Explore the best bits of Botswana in 10 days

In a space of 10 days, there is time enough to relax and unwind and explore the best bits of Botswana. You’ll want to truly settle in and become familiar with the chorus of bird calls, the slow and indulgent pace of life. Dipping your toes in for a few days gives you that tantalising introduction to Botswana’s beautiful embrace, but taking the time to see a couple of different areas and experience true safari luxury is what will leave a lasting impression. This 10-day itinerary incorporates the truly mesmerising parts of the country. Not the places that are accessible within a day’s boat ride or drive from Maun. Not the places that are surrounded by a number of other camps and lodges. Rather, this itinerary takes guests to more exclusive regions of the country and seeks accommodation in masterfully constructed safari retreats. These are the best bits of Botswana, explored over nine nights, ten days. From Maun to the Delta  The first three nights are spent in the western territories of the Okavango Delta, in a remote private concession. This region has seasonal access to water, so mokoro and boating activities are an exciting way to explore. The Kwetsani Camp has access to Hunda Island, where game drive routes offer fantastic opportunities to encounter the land-based residents of this wonderland. The camp itself embodies a remote treehouse-style African island retreat. Just five luxury suites are nestled between fig, palm, and mangosteen trees, overlooking a vast floodplain, which is visited by an array of the Delta’s wild animals. Surrounded by water and in a blissfully secluded region, Kwetsani Camp speaks to those who want to escape in a natural wonderland without losing out on comforting luxuries. You’ll be enamoured by the birdlife, and the blue-green vision of the camps surroundings. Hippo, elephant, buffalo, lechwe, leopard, baboon, and lion are among the resident animals in the area. A combination of game drives on the nearby Hunda Island, mokoro cruises through the channels, boat rides, guided walking excursions, and nearby access to scenic helicopter flights and cultural activities makes Kwetsani a place of diverse experiences. A generous offering in the Okavango Delta. Flying to Khwai From one of Botswana’s most enamoured destinations to another, you’ll fly from the western corner of the Okavango Delta to the community-run Khwai Concession in the east. This alluring place in the wetland system bordering Moremi Game Reserve offers exclusive game drive routes with river frontage and teeming game, while sustaining an ethical, community-focused safari experience. The concession is located on the eastern edge of the Okavango Delta and is known for an abundance and diversity...

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The mountains are calling! Our two favourite Magoebaskloof getaways
Dec18

The mountains are calling! Our two favourite Magoebaskloof getaways

Magoebaskloof (meaning Magoeba’s Valley) is a pocket of lush, afro-montane greenery full of indigenous plants and wildlife in South Africa’s Limpopo Province. It is the very northern tip of the Drakensberg mountain range and is known as the Land of the Silver Mist for its famous blanket of cloud that envelopes the peaks and valleys. Samango and vervet monkeys, chacma baboons, bush pigs, porcupine and bush buck are some of the larger mammals found dwelling in the forest, and let us not get started on the birds! If you’re a keen birder, Magoebaskloof is one of the best spots for forest birding in the country, and its proximity to the Kruger National Park makes it a convenient addition to a classic safari experience in the Lowveld. About 1.5 hours’ drive west of the Kruger’s Phalaborwa Gate you’ll find yourself in the country’s “fruit bowl” having driven along an undulating road that progresses from acacia thornveld and mopane to the green slopes of the Wolkberg. This is where fertile soils produce the best avocados in the world, along with blueberries, macadamia nuts, bananas, litchis, and mangos. Magoebaskloof pass winds its way out of the “bowl” and into the higher slopes where some of the rare indigenous forest remains. Here, beneath the silver mist, the water is crystal clear, rocks are laden with moss, and big, old trees are entangled with vines. The forest floor is a patchwork of sunlight and shade, and there is peace in the air. There are hiking trails winding up and down and throughout the lush mountain slopes, and there are waterfalls and pools of fresh water sprouting along many of them. Mountain bikers will find themselves a challenge in Magoebaskloof, where an annual event sees fit riders gather to take on the mountain trails.  Visitors can fish in nearby dams and lakes, while birdwatching can take place from the comfort of your very own mountain cottage veranda. There is the diminutive village of Hanaertsberg nearby where a handful of good, honest restaurants serve up the mountain’s finest grub, and there is Limpopo’s famous Zwakala brewery nestled off the beaten track. Folks travel from far and wide to enjoy the unique energy of this local brew house, so make sure you pop this item on your Magoebaskloof agenda! Now that you know what’s on offer in the glorious Magoebaskloof mountains, allow us to let you in on our two favourite places to stay. Magoebaskloof Birders’ Cottages Situated at the end of a winding dirt road in the indigenous forest, Magoebaskloof Birders’ Cottages feel like a hidden secret. There are three little cottages – Robin (a six-sleeper),...

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The best places to view rock art in South Africa
Oct30

The best places to view rock art in South Africa

The best places to view rock art in South Africa are in the Drakensberg mountains on the border of KwaZulu Natal and Lesotho, in the Cape Cederberg area, and in the Karoo. There are places scattered across the country that are renowned for either paintings or engravings left by the San (Bushman) or the Khoekhoen (Herders), and if you’re travelling in more remote parts of South Africa and have a cultural interest in the country, it would be worth your while to check out the details for some of these sites. In this article, we’re highlighting three rock art sites that are more or less on the popular tourist route, making them easy to access if you’re hitting the safari destinations of the Kruger National Park and Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, or heading up on a cross-border road trip to Botswana or Zimbabwe. South Africa has a large amount of paintings and engravings, some of which date back thousands of years, but most significant are the etchings in ochre that were discovered in a limestone cave on the southern Cape coast. These discoveries in Blombos Cave are known to be some of the oldest prehistoric art in the world, dating back well over 70 000 years! These are some of the best places to view rock art in South Africa Western Cape: Cederberg, Bushman’s Kloof Wilderness Area Bushman’s Kloof is in custody of an incredible piece of heritage; over 130 different rock art sites have been identified here, some of which have been dated to as far back as 10 000 years. The reserve is a Grade 1 South African National Heritage Site and fortunately for us ancient art seekers, we can go and see these protected and conserved paintings that were made by staining rocks with oxide pigments. The paintings here depict elements of the Bushman culture, lifestyle, and spiritual beliefs that were all a part of their lives in these ancestral mountains. Bushman’s Kloof is a destination in itself, and viewing the sites is a privilege of the guests who stay at the lodge. It isn’t open to the public and is protected under the responsibility of the reserve, so to see the ancient sites, guests of the luxury lodge will go on a guided excursion into the mountains and benefit from an interpretive guide. Afterwards, you’ll sit down to a delicious breakfast in the bush and hear more stories about the fascinating, ancient surroundings. KwaZulu Natal: Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg National Park and World Heritage Site Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg National Park is the country’s capital of Stone Age art. It has some of the most beautiful rock paintings in the world on its ancient,...

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Add Mozambique to your South African safari
Oct28

Add Mozambique to your South African safari

The top reason people add Mozambique to their South African safari is to achieve that all-too-amazing recipe of “beach meets bush”. Often, the perfect holiday entails a certain amount of actively experiencing, and a certain amount of doing as little as possible. Beaches are great for the latter. The shores of Mozambique area pearly and the ocean is azure, and there are grass-thatched beach huts stocking cold 2Ms and freshly baked pão. You’ll pair that with chargrilled peri-peri chicken or garlicky tiger prawns in no time! Mozambique is a fusion of relaxed, sandy-toed beach vibes and colourful, bustling local culture. It can be serene and chaotic all at once; you’ve just got to know where to go to find which side of the scale you’re looking for. (We’ve got you covered). Bottom line is, combining the Kruger National Park and Mozambique is 100% a good idea. We’ll give you some good reasons to add this Afro-Portuguese paradise to your next South African safari itinerary. Read on. Scuba diving And snorkelling, and sea kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding, and boat cruises… the list goes on! This is a sea-lovers dream with incredibly biodiverse marine protected areas, like the Bazaruto Archipelago, that support and sustain sea-life. In particular, these coastal waters are known to have whale sharks in residence during certain times of the year. October to April is the best time to swim with these giants of the sea in Bazaruto, and it will go down as one of the single-most majestic experiences of your life. Huge (±14 metres) pyjama-clad ocean beings with wide, toothless mouths move slowly and serenely through the water, often tailed by a number of feeder fish, and they are entirely unaggressive. Whale sharks are the biggest fish in the sea and they eat small schooling fish close to the surface of the sea. You don’t have to scuba dive to get to these creatures because they stay shallow, so often you’ll just need to jump off the boat wearing your mask and snorkel to bank this bucket list experience. Where to stay? Azura Benguerra Island hopping in the Quirimbas Archipelago Up north where the regular tourist routes fizzle out, island life gets a little more pristine. This is an off-the-beaten-track part of Mozambique that deserves to be explored for those who are looking for something a bit less diluted. The water is crystal clear, the beaches are vast, snow-white stretches of turtle-nesting territory, and mangrove forests bring birdlife and species diversity to both marine and land life. There are 32 islands in Quirimbas, strewn across the sea and creating this network of biodiversity. There is...

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