Patagonia Hiking Guide: Day Hikes in Torres del Paine
Jun10

Patagonia Hiking Guide: Day Hikes in Torres del Paine

Patagonia is one of the world’s most renowned hiking and trekking destinations. A place for adventurers and nature lovers where the elements can be challenging, but the scenery and landscape majestic… staggeringly so. Torres del Paine is Patagonia’s most famous trekking hotspot and it is where you will find a variety of different day-hikes and multi-day trekking excursions among a host of other outdoor activities, such as boat cruises, kayaking, horse-riding, glacier trekking, etc. We’ve got an article dedicated to the experience of puma trekking in Torres del Paine, and in this article we’re highlighting two of the region’s best hikes for day-packing – one easy and one not so easy! First things first: Weather First, it is important to know that Patagonia is almost as famous for its weather as it is for its rugged landscape. The wind can be very gusty and icy cold, and from about May to October, the winter season takes hold and everything turns white – this is not the time to hike! We recommend hiking in the seasons in between, when the cold is manageable, and in summer when the days are long and pleasantly warm. There is always a chance of rainfall, even during the summer months from December to February, and the wind pumps regularly, so there is no avoiding that altogether, but that’s all part and parcel of a visit to Patagonia! The Autumn months of March and April are also a very pleasant time to be in Patagonia and it is less busy with tourist traffic, so that’s a bonus if you are looking for more privacy and exclusivity. Summer is very busy in terms of visitors and your hiking trails are going to be bustling with other hikers. March and April are better for quieter visits and the wind blows less vigourously, which is nice for campers, but it is a bit colder and the closer to winter you go, the higher the chance of rainfall, so April-May is risky. Spring in October and November is also a favourable time of year, but it still packs that winter chill, so make sure to bundle up and keep warm. Rainfall is less likely to put a damper on things at this time of year, and there are no crowds comparable with summer, so, bonus! Gear Patagonia is an incredibly social place and it is very popular with young couples and groups of friends, as well as solo travellers who are on a soulful mission to realign with nature. Backpackers and hitchhikers are seen all over the quaint little towns in southern Chile, and especially in Puerto Natales, which...

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Rhinos in the Greater Kruger reserves have been de-horned
Jun06

Rhinos in the Greater Kruger reserves have been de-horned

About 150 free-roaming white and black rhinos were de-horned in the Klaserie and Balule Private Nature Reserves in April this year after months and months of debate and deliberation, extensive planning and expert consultations. This historic undertaking is believed to be the largest de-horning exercise to be carried out on wild rhinos in the Lowveld to date. The permits were obtained through the Mpumlanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) at the end of the summer season this year and the operation was carried out  immediately afterwards, employing the expertise of a number of experienced wildlife vets, reserve management teams, aerial and ground-based teams, as well as officials from the MTPA and the Limpopo Economic Development Environment and Tourism (LEDET) department. Photos by Kevin MacLaughlin. WATCH: Klaserie and Balule’s monumental rhino de-horning operations, which took place in April 2019 Adjoining the Kruger National Park and one another, Klaserie and Balule are part of the Greater Kruger Park conservation area within which wildlife roams freely. These reserves offer some of the country’s best safari experiences with up-close big game sightings in 4×4 vehicles as well as immersive bush walks, which often create the opportunity to view rhino on foot. Now the rhinos that visitors are fortunate enough to see are likely to be without their iconic horn. More importantly, the prehistoric rhinos are now living without their weapons of defence. This might seem like a travesty, but the alternative – extinction – is unthinkable. The Kruger is the stronghold for wild rhinos in Africa, yet it is tragically targeted by poaching on such a scale that a decision of this nature was forced to be made by those are ultimately responsible for the survival of the species. In a press release, the Klaserie stated: “The KPNR has been hit hard by illegal poaching in the past several years. This situation reached a pinnacle during 2018 when the KPNR lost an average of two rhinos per month to poaching. With the current intensity of rhino poaching, the rhinoceros as a valuable contributor to the reserve’s eco-tourism product would become extinct within the next three to five years, unless more drastic measures were taken.” Similarly, the Balule executive committee revealed: “The relentless onslaught has reduced the rhino population within Balule by nearly 70% since 2012. Family groups have been severely compromised and sex ratios skewed leading to a dire situation for the natural prosperity of our rhinos.” De-horning the rhinos is that drastic measure. By making the rhinos less valuable to poachers, paired with the current powerful security measures in the form of specialised fencing, field ranger law enforcement, K9 capability, and an aerial patrol...

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Safari Trifecta: Etosha, Akagera, and Okavango Delta
Jun04

Safari Trifecta: Etosha, Akagera, and Okavango Delta

The emergence of new and refurbished safari properties is always something that entices us. The possibility of discovering somewhere new, or seeing something through different eyes means that we get to continue developing and evolving our expertise and our product knowledge so that our itineraries include not only the trusted greats we work with over and over again, but that we can give our veteran clients something spectacular and new. When some of our favourite suppliers reveal their newest ventures with us, we’re all ears! We’ve picked three new properties to share with you that are turning out sublime safari memories for our adventurous guests. Sun Safaris secrets revealed! This is one safari trifecta you don’t want to miss. NAMIBIA: Etosha Heights Safarihoek Lodge Most of our Namibia-bound guests are keen self-drivers and lovers of unending wilderness, landscapes, and stars. That is not to say they don’t head to Namibia for the wildlife – they do! Etosha is world class and world renowned – but it’s the other contributing aspects to the wildlife experience that really sets this vast, coastal-desert country apart. Take a look at our Distinctive Namibia luxury itinerary for an idea of what we’re talking about. There is so much space to roam, a low human population for the surface area of the country, and there are lions that live on the Skeleton Coast! From the stars to the relic sand dunes to the desert elephants and black rhinos, Namibia is pure magic, and this is somewhere new we’re excited to be able to offer to our guests headed for Etosha: Safarihoek. Afrikaans for “safari corner”, this modern-comfort lodge is in a private nature reserve bordering the national park’s southwestern boundary, where it makes the most of the staggering views. Etosha Heights is a 60 000 hectare stretch of savannah with thorny thickets, riverine forest pockets, and mopane woodland – a diverse terrain hosting a huge variation in species. Rhino, both black and white, find a stronghold here where they are protected, and what’s more is you can contribute a cash donation of N$50 towards anti-poaching teams when you opt to log on to the unlimited WiFi! The lodge is sprawled out on top of a hill and so the views are indescribable. Wandering elephant, oryx, eland, springbok, zebra, giraffe, lion, and many others cross the plains and can be found in shady spots throughout the reserve. At night, the beauty of being in a private reserve means you can bundle up and head out on a game drive after dark when you stand a chance of seeing aardvark, leopard, and other nocturnal creatures. While you’re...

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A luxury pop-up mobile tented camp in Kruger National Park
Jun03

A luxury pop-up mobile tented camp in Kruger National Park

In July, an out of the ordinary, exclusive, imaginative, luxurious pop-up safari camp will be open for business in the Kruger National Park. Located in the meandering bushveld wilderness of South Africa’s leading wildlife area, about an hour from Skukuza, Kruger Grande offers a chance for guests to take a step closer to nature, invigorating their senses and enjoying a safari experience with a difference. Comfort is uncompromised and the style of the camp echoes the era of early explorer travel in Africa with canvas tents, cotton linens, paraffin lanterns, and dining under the stars. We are huge advocates for mobile camping experiences, and we are excited to offer this special Kruger National Park option to our guests during the month of July. The camp will be operated with African flair and inspired by the rugged beauty of the natural bushveld. Hosted by a team of expert staff and catered for by experienced chefs who create and serve gourmet food that is both internationally appreciated and traditional to South Africa. Each morning and evening, game drives led by professional guides in classic game viewers will take guests on safari, and at night you will lie in supreme comfort while listening to the sounds of the bush at night. This is not a small and intimate operation, but rather a celebration and shared experience in a special place in Africa, put together and pulled off by a team of people who have refined the luxury safari experience. There will be 25 walk-in tented bedrooms, each with an en suite bathroom and hot shower. Attention to detail takes the experience to the next level, and everything from warming knee rugs to cosy electric blankets will be provided for, and roaring campfires will not only spread warmth but will shed a glowing, dancing light across the camp. There are lounge tents with day beds and sofas for basking in the sun or shade during the day while everything from elephant, giraffe, zebra, or hyena can be seen wandering past in their natural habitat. This is one special way to feel more connected with nature than in a permanent, fenced camp, and appeals to couples and families seeking something a little extra in their Kruger safari experience. Kruger Grande will be open from 1 to 31 July 2019 and all the preparations are under way to  deliver an iconic and unforgettable product. Children aged 12 and over are welcome for the adventure (there are guards present at all times to ensure guest safety in the otherwise unfenced camp), and those between ages 12 and 15 book in at half price. A maximum of...

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Discover Zimbabwe’s Private Sapi Concession, Explorer-style
May05

Discover Zimbabwe’s Private Sapi Concession, Explorer-style

Renowned filmmakers and globally recognised conservationists, Dereck and Beverly Joubert, have inspired not only generations of nature enthusiasts and wildlife documentarians, but their bushveld lifestyle has iconicized the Explorer-themed safari experience that defines the Great Plains collection of camps. Originating in Botswana and Kenya, the Jouberts’ legacy now lives on in Zimbabwe in the Private Sapi Concession adjoining the legendary Mana Pools National Park. Sapi Springs and Sapi Explorers are the two newly unveiled safari camps and they are here to impress! They come with the signature style we have come to expect from Great Plains, and we are so excited to add it to our tailor-made itineraries and introduce our guests to these fresh, fine-tuned safari accommodations. Sapi is a whole new piece of Zimbabwean wilderness to discover, entrusted to Great Plains to cherish and conserve its unique value as a wildlife sanctuary. Named after the river on which it sits, Sapi Springs offers sublime simplicity without the frills and flairs of a luxury lodge, but with divine authenticity and a real exposure to the outside world. Sapi Explorers is a magnificent rendition of old fashioned Africa: draped canvas, travel trunks, paraffin lamps, and antique floor rugs. Here they are in more detail… Which one speaks to your inner explorer? Sapi Springs Small and intimate, lush and wild, Sapi Springs is located on a sandy, seasonal riverbed in a grove of indigenous trees. There are only three tented rooms, which are modest and unobtrusive, hiding among leafy surroundings, flecked with dappled light. On top of each canvas enclosure is a wooden platform raised towards the canopies, and this is where you’ll find the major draw card of Sapi Springs: open-air treehouse suites, which quite simply give you a room among the birds. Double or twin beds lie under a four-poster mosquito net, cocooning its inhabitants on wild, starry nights. Nothing more than a natural wooden balustrade surrounds the square platform and a pair of director’s chairs sit comfortably on the rustic deck for a perfect vantage point. Downstairs is the indoor bedroom, bathroom and a ground level lounge, offering everything you might need without taking away from the wild surroundings. The sandy riverbed is the perfect place to sit and relax on a rug, leaning up against plenty of comfy cushions, while the camp’s chef supplies you with delicious eats, picnic-style. An old fashioned liquor case offers a selection of refreshments, which will go down exceptionally well in the shady, African atmosphere and your toes in the riverbed sand. A dining table up on the bank on an elevated deck is the place for more formal eating, but...

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