Set sail, solo: tips for the single safari goer
Mar16

Set sail, solo: tips for the single safari goer

Welcome to 2020, a time of self-reflection, self-care, and solo travel. More and more people are taking the plunge and seeking out places in the world that will rejuvenate the soul. Alone time in the world is a go! We are in full support of this movement for mindfulness and want to share our ideas for single safari goers. The perks, the pro-tips, and the money-saving moves that will get solo travellers on African safaris more easily. Perks of solo travel in Africa Lack of distraction. Take it all in on your own terms. It’s ultimately about self-care, so you choose what you need without feeling the need to consider what a partner might need. Take a morning to lie-in, alone. Enjoy the luxurious bed linen, take in the bush views through the windows, and listen to the sounds of birds in the morning. Make one cup of coffee. Travelling alone, you generally speak less, pay attention to your surroundings more. In the case of safari that means absorbing the new environment on game drive, choosing to sun-lounge or read a book or siesta in the afternoon. You decide. Enhancing the human experience. As a solo traveller, you’ll find yourself creating more memorable bonds with a guide or fellow guests as you share often first-time experiences. Travelling alone, you engage with people more and the result is often higher impact human connections. Getting one-on-one safari experiences. Many safari activities are offered on a private or personal basis. Private game drives, tracking wildlife on foot, interpretive bush walks, or spending time in a photography hide armed with your longest lens and an expert guide. These activities are a luxury and are likely to come at an additional price. Recharge and reconnect with nature. Take the time out, talk less, absorb more. Many would argue that Africa is the perfect place to disconnect from routine and technology and enjoy being surrounded by wilderness. Early mornings with the sunrise, early nights, full of good food and tired from a day of discovery. Full, happy heart. Activities for solo safari travellers: Mokoro excursions. What was once (and still is) the traditional way to get around waterways of the Okavango Delta in Botswana is today a unique safari activity. Solo travellers can hop aboard the narrow canoe while their personal guide and enjoy the tranquility of a slow cruise through calm channels and lagoons. Horseback riding. Experienced horse riders will find their happy place on the back of a noble steed, cantering through untamed areas inhabited by wildlife. We’ve got a list of incredible horse riding destinations, from Selinda in lush, northern Botswana to...

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Uganda Safari highlights and tours
Mar11

Uganda Safari highlights and tours

Winston Churchill said it best when he wrote “The kingdom of Uganda is a fairy-tale…For magnificence, for variety of form and color, for profusion of brilliant life — bird, insect, reptile, beast — for vast scale — Uganda is truly “the Pearl of Africa.” Gorilla trekking is the biggest drawcard to this beautiful country and offers one of the more memorable and profound moments you can experience in Africa. Gorilla numbers are growing, thanks mainly to the income generated by gorilla trekking which help protects these majestic apes from poachers. Gorilla’s are found in small family groups lead by the large Silverback, consisting of a few females and babies. Each family has a name and many individuals are also named by the local rangers. We have been to Uganda, trekked with gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, tracked chimpanzees in Kibale National Park and have also enjoyed a traditional safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park! We love Uganda and want to share the magic. Here are some of our experiences and other information that you need to know when booking a Uganda Safari. Uganda Safari highlights and tours Brett & Michelle went to Uganda! Both our MD Brett and our Product Manager Michelle went on safari to Uganda! They returned in awe of their experiences. The highlight were the gorilla and chimpanzee trekking. On Brett’s trip he enjoyed both a gorilla trek in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and a chimpanzee trek in Kibale National Park. Brett did one of the more strenuous climbs in Bwindi and was rewarded with amazing close up encounters of the gorillas and their youngsters playing in the forest on the high slopes of the mountains. When Michelle visited Uganda, gorilla and chimps were the highlights of her trip and she explored Queen Elizabeth National Park and the big game on display there. You can read all about Michelle’s Uganda Safari here. Uganda Safaris for 2020 Uganda is not just about the gorillas and chimps! There are a few national parks that have lots of big game like lions, elephants, large herds of buffalo and Uganda Kob. Uganda is also a twitchers paradise, with hundreds of bird species recorded. Gorilla’s Galore On this short and sweet tour, you will fly to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for 4 nights. You will enjoy 2 gorilla treks, in the Nkuringo and Buhoma Sectors, while staying in beautiful luxurious accommodation. Your first stop is Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, which has stunning cottages all boasting spectacular views over the forest and the Virunga Volcanoes in the distance. The next stop is the luxurious tented camp of Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp,...

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New, romantic safari treehouse in South Africa’s Greater Kruger
Mar09

New, romantic safari treehouse in South Africa’s Greater Kruger

Opening just last month, Ngala’s romantic safari treehouse has already set pulses racing. It is not only a honeymooner’s dream destination, it is also eco-friendly and luxurious. This treehouse is an architectural masterpiece offering the perfect combination of adventure and comfort. No rickety ladders or precarious platforms. Rather style and elegance are achieved through careful design and execution. It’s available for guests who are checked in at either Ngala Safari Lodge or Tented Camp and would like to enhance their stay with a night out under the stars. Side note: we love the romance that this treehouse offers, but it can also be the perfect place for an adventurous sleep out with kids in tow. There is a special rate for children and there is enough bed space for four. Get in touch to find out about rates now, or read on to find out more. Location, location, location Located just a few kilometres from the main lodge, Ngala Treehouse is near enough for occupants to receive quick and dedicated service and delivery of whatever they might need. Yet, it is far enough to feel remote and exciting. A little clearing between the trees just a stone’s throw from a wide, sandy riverbed, this safari treehouse rises up on stilts. The Ngala Private Game Reserve is part of the Greater Kruger Park. It borders Timbavati Nature Reserve and the Kruger National Park so enjoys some of the best wildlife viewing and species diversity in South Africa. What’s in the box? There are four floors to the structure and the clever use of glass and timber throughout ensures that whichever level you’re on, you’re getting all the views. The ground floor is a small kitchenette complete with mini-fridge (important for keeping champagne cold), a kettle (important for sunrise coffee), cupboards housing thoughtful snacks and breakfast items, and a little kitchen table. The next level up is a full bathroom, complete with outdoor shower. A floor off the ground, this is of course a bathroom with a view. The third level is the bedroom under cover, perfect for when the weather might not be quite right for open-air sleeping. The bedroom is encased in glass, so even if you can’t sleep under the stars, you’re getting the full experience of what’s going on outdoors. Right on top is the sleep-out platform, which of course has a place to sleep soundly under a velvet night sky. It also has a little room for chairs and a viewing deck, because let’s face it, this is the most romantic seat in the house! Is it safe? Surrounding the four-storied safari treehouse is a protective...

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Michelle’s amazing Uganda Safari experience.
Mar05

Michelle’s amazing Uganda Safari experience.

Our Product Manager Michelle headed off to Uganda for a gorilla and chimpanzee safari. This epic experience took her from the capital to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park where she went gorilla trekking. From there she enjoyed a boat safari in the Queen Elizabeth National Park before ending her trip on a chimpanzee trek in the Kibale National Park. We have a tour based on Michelle’s trip, you can view it here. Michelle’s wrote about her amazing Uganda Safari experience: With my bag packed and boots on, I took off from Cape Town with 2 colleagues to Entebbe to start my Uganda Safari! Entebbe is the main airport about 40 minutes from the capital Kampala. A quick overnight stop and we were back at the airport and on an Aerolink Uganda flight south, towards the Kisoro Airstrip. One of the gateways into the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Kisoro is a 2h30 drive to the Rushaga sector of Bwindi. Our guide and driver for the week met us there and we set off to Bwindi. The roads are poor and a 4×4 is imperative, but the scenery is breathtaking and excitement grows as we start climbing towards the Bwindi forests and towering mountain range. We arrived at Gorilla Safari Lodge, our home for 2 nights. Our cabins were tucked into the rainforest, spacious with a large tub to soak in and the staff brought in charcoal burners at night which warmed the room up nicely. It is chilly in Bwindi, due to the high altitude. We visited the local community and the Batwa Tribe. The Batwa(Pygmy Tribe) live on the outskirts of the forest they once called home and provide a glimpse into their traditional way of living. Early the next morning we were up and enjoying a fortifying breakfast before setting off for the main event: Gorilla Trekking! On arrival in the Rushaga sector briefing area, the warden goes through the do’s and don’ts of trekking with gorillas and assigns us the gorilla family we will trek to find. We meet our head guide and her 2 trackers, hire a porter, grab a walking stick and head off on the trail. Why hire a porter? Uganda is a very poor country; many people are without work. The porters can travel for up to 3 hours to get to Bwindi in the hope of earning for their family. It costs around $20 and your porter is by your side for the day. They will carry your day pack which has your water, your lunch and your camera and they will give you a strong hand to pull or push you if...

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Best safari lodges in Botswana 2020 #SunSafarisSays
Feb18

Best safari lodges in Botswana 2020 #SunSafarisSays

Our choices for the best safari lodges in Botswana for the year 2020 – like any of our recommendations, suggestions, and pieces of advice – are shaped by personal experience. Our holiday experts build itineraries based on confidence and relationships based on trust. Each one of our four safari planners has at least a decade’s experience in the industry and they know what they are looking for in a destination experience. Botswana is a particular area of expertise for our team. It is a country we not only love for its sublime natural areas, but for its conservation ethic and integrity. It is a destination for the mindful traveller and it supports a tourism framework worth celebrating. It is as good to explore as a fly-in safari guest, or as a source of adventure for self-drivers. Tourists are embraced while natural heritage is preserved. This unique combination in Africa makes Botswana one of our best destinations for 2020. We asked our in-house Botswana experts to highlights five safari lodges they are recommending for this new year. We’ve got one for each prime safari region in the country. These well-loved lodges all went through a change in the last year that excites us. They have something new to offer. Without further ado, here are our choices for the best safari lodges in Botswana for the year 2020! Region: Chobe River Lodge: Ngoma Safari Lodge The view of Chobe River is probably the biggest drawcard for Ngoma Safari Lodge. Overlooking the lifeblood that divides Botswana and Namibia, this safari spot is perfectly elevated  to make guests feel like they are dining on top of the world. It’s physical located in the private Chobe Forest Reserve, so night drives and walking safaris are permitted (and encouraged!) The national park is just three kilometres away, so daily game drives are part and parcel of the experience. Last year, Ngoma transitioned to new ownership and partnered with some of our other favourites in Botswana (Gomoti Plains and Machaba Camp) , which really got our attention. Pairing a trusted safari operation with a location like this is what makes a place truly special. For the hours in between your safari activities, you’ll be eating (dining room view: check), swimming (pool with a view: check), and relaxing in your suite (room with a view: check). So, Ngoma Safari Lodge emerged as one of our new favourites, and we’ll put our stamp of approval on that. #SunSafarisSays Region: Okavango Delta Lodge: Kanana Kanana Camp makes our list of best lodges in Botswana for obvious reasons. It was refurbished in 2019 and received a whole new look that...

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Birding destinations in Uganda & the birds you’ll find there
Feb11

Birding destinations in Uganda & the birds you’ll find there

There are over a thousand different bird species to be found in Uganda. Of course, a number of these is so rare or endangered or seldom seen that the average binocular-clad bird-watcher might never catch a glimpse. Like the elusive Shelley’s crimson-wing, of which there are no known photographs captured in the wild! Unless you’re incredibly lucky and unnervingly dedicated, you’re not likely to tick this lifer off your bird bucket list; but, Uganda’s value as a birding destination in Africa tops the charts. Its hugely varying altitude and combination of habitats make it the ideal home to so many species. We’ve scoured the rim of the crater lakes, trekked through the dense jungle, cruised along the Nile River, and traversed the savannah grasslands in search of birds (among other things, like gorillas, chimpanzees, and tree-climbing lions!) These are some of the best birding destinations in Uganda & the birds you’ll find there. Murchison Falls National Park Where the Victoria Nile carves its way through a narrow seven-metre-wide gap in the rock face and thunders violently through the famous Murchison Falls. The grassland territory alongside the river is one of the best game viewing locations in Uganda and it is also one of its most prestigious birding destinations. About 450 bird species have been recorded here, and a number of them can be easily spotted while out on a game drive or a Nile River boat cruise. Each habitat offering a different variety of birds altogether. Among the hundreds of species, be sure to look out for the Abyssinian ground hornbill, Rüppell’s vulture, northern red bishop, palm nut vulture, African quail finch, giant and pied kingfisher, rock pratincole, yellow-billed stork, white-faced whistling duck, and the country’s national bird, the grey-crowned crane. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Home of the mountain gorillas, majestic territory of forest dwelling Batwa people, and habitat to so many birds, Bwindi is a playground to any nature lover. The dense forest is so alive that the pathways carved by gorillas and gorilla trackers each day just about close up again each night. The tangled vines and broad-leafed trees glow green and cast dappled shadows on the forest floor. These jungle thickets are also home to about 350 species of birds – some frequently seen and heard, and others that might remain secrets of the forest forever. Some Bwindi specials include the great blue turaco, African green broadbill, Chapin’s flycatcher, Fraser’s eagle owl, handsome francolin, black-collared apalis, and white-bellied robin chat. Queen Elizabeth National Park With over 600 bird species, Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the best spots for birding enthusiasts to encounter a huge variety...

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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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