FEEDBACK FROM OUR CLIENTS:
Eyes on Africa are proud of
our work and success in planning our clients' African safari vacations,
exotic adventures and romantic honeymoons. The following are just
a few of the comments we've received from our clients regarding their
Eyes on Africa safari experiences.
We would also be pleased to put
you directly in touch with past clients as further referrals at
So, I have not gone on the incredible safari that Pam from EOA has booked for me and my husband. But I felt compelled to tell you how impressed I have been with the organization and their scheduling of our 17 day safari. We have been on safari 7 times and have traveled extensively around the world and I must say that Pam was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. She worked day and night (literally - we are two time zones away; and was able to accomplish exactly what we wanted. This was no easy feat since we decided to go with little notice, wanted to stay at all the best places and have private vehicles to boot. She had to schedule and reschedule lodges, air, etc. and did so with efficiency and grace--never once letting on what a pain I was. She was truly a delight to work with. She was also cost conscious and tried to save us money whenever possible. I had contacted two other agencies in the past, and needless to say, EOA left them in the dust….
I thought I owed you a response. We had just a grand time. Our thanks. Everything went according to plan; that has never happened before, and may explain some of my close questioning.
The property in the wine country was especially nice, and the staff was especially helpful. The food at all three places was simply better than I would expect from a good restaurant. The guide was unusually personable. You get the idea? We had much fun.
Rick, March 2013
Now that we are back with our feet on the ground, we thought we'd send you a few comments. Feel free to post them on your website or pass them along.
The trip you arranged for us was truly fantastic and the details and planning all worked out perfectly. All three camps in Botswana (Kalahari Plains, Little Vumbura, and Chitabe) were terrific and the game viewing, (especially at Little Vumbura and Chitabe) was amazing. We took over 2,000 pictures (some of them attached) and over 20GB of video. Truly a photographer's heaven! The camps were well outfitted, comfortable and the staff was excellent. Your recommendations regarding which camps to visit and the varied experience at each was perfect.
The South Africa portion of our trip was equally amazing - - obviously in a different way. Our 10 day driving trip from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth provided jaw-dropping scenery, twist and turns through the passes, each bringing another amazing vista, outstanding meals in some wonderful restaurants, fantastic wines in the Stellenbosch and Franschhoek areas, and meeting wonderful people. Your recommendations for places to visit and stay were spot on. We loved it!
So, thank you again for arranging a wonderful adventure for us. We would very much recommend Eyes on Africa for anyone who is thinking of visiting southern Africa.
J & B Friedman,
Moneta, VA 2013
I can't thank you enough for all of your help and hard work in making this trip feasible. It was truly unbelievable and by far the best vacation I've ever had. It surpassed my expectations in every way! The people were phenomenal, the sights were breath-taking, and the animals were awesome. I got really lucky in seeing just about every animal possible and getting some amazing pictures of them. The volunteering was so rewarding and humbling. The kids were so happy and full of life despite their poverty. Very eye-opening and fun to spend time with them.
Fun while Volunteering
The only feedback I have for you is to do exactly the same thing all the time! Thank you so much for making it an adventure for a lifetime!
DEVIN B. February 2013
We returned to Toronto yesterday afternoon-safe and sound.
We would like to thank you for a fantastic adventure, that was experienced without even a minor glitch!
We can't thank you enough!
We loved every minute, the Crater was breathtaking, the Lodge was over the top (literally), the migration was at its best when we were in Ubuntu, Sayari was amazing, Matemwe was beautiful etc. etc. The timing was perfect!
We can hardly wait for Africa trip #3. You will have a tough act to follow.
Thanks for a making this experience so incredible!
E & R and D Nezon, Feb 2013
I was hoping to write to you earlier. I just wanted to let you know that everything in Seychelles went smoothly and we had a wonderful and amazing time. Desroches was definitely an amazing choice for honeymoon. The people on the island were really friendly and extremely helpful with everything. It was the most relaxing place we've been to and after being so busy with the wedding it was nice to go to a peaceful and serene location for honeymoon. We also enjoyed our time on Mahe island. It was very easy to rent a car and explore the whole island. Thank you so much for all the arrangements and everything was taken care of smoothly and without an issue. We will definitely recommend you and Desroches Island Resort to others.
B Khan, Jan 2013
Happy new year to you and family. I want to thank you for all the help you provided to Myrna and I along the way toward our extraordinary experience in Botswana and South Africa a month ago. Everything was wonderous and fantastic, including the photographic experience. The trip fulfilled a lifetime dream of mine and a high priority endeavor for both of us. MalaMala was an extraordinary way to cap off the trip. While the place was way above our pay grade, we lapped it up while it lasted. We shared the Rover with a delightful Swiss couple for half the time and were alone with our driver the remainder. That latter aspect allowed us to take a slow pace for a change and hang out by the river edge allowing wildlife to naturally show up without the frenetic searching—and they did for some of our favorite moments.
From my vantage, what we brought home will provide an invaluable ability to remind us about, and indeed revive, the experience at will in the years to come. Starting with ~24K photos between the two of us, we honed the lot down to ~1400 by the time landed in the US, to serve as our archive. About 175 were selected as the core favorites, plus some personal ones related to our drivers and the like. Our website has about 150 in several galleries grouped by critters primarily.
The camps were delightful in every way, so my comment is to simply keep going back!
Cheers and thanks again.
Gary, Dec 2012
Hi Nicky and James,
I just want to tell you how much I enjoyed our safari and to thank you so very much for making it so wonderful. It was a truly amazing experience and I loved every minute of it. Thank you, Nicky, for your superb organization which gave us a smooth, trouble-free journey, and thank you, James, for your patience and for giving us such stunning game-viewing.
Dark Chanting Goshwak
Although I am an amateur photographer I chose a Digital Photography Safari because I hoped that we would spend time watching the animals, and I was right! It was so rewarding to be able to stay and really get to see so much fascinating behaviour. On other trips I have found that it can be very frustrating when others in the group want to move on, missing all that wonderful activity. I will attach a few of my images.
The three camps, Duma Tau and Mombo in Botswana and our ?add-on? at Little Bush Camp in the Sabi Sabi Reserve, were all different but all so comfortable and the guides and the staff were friendly and helpful. I will always remember those delightful Batswana smiles!
I hope I can travel with Eyes on Africa again ? soon!!
Thank you again,
B Triggs, September 2012
I had such a great time. Gordon met me with his sign dead center just coming out of customs. A super nice guy who knows you well I hear. Got
Mark, George and I started to getting excited with a nice picture album for the ride to Africlassic. That place was just so great. Calming and everyone just super nice. They fed Mark and George even though they really needed to have reservations earlier in the day. They bent over backwards to make our stay then and also coming back smooth. They let us have a room on departure day until we left. Can't say enough good things about Jan and his crew there!
The safari was epic. 4400 Km of driving so my butt will take a bit to recover but all worth it. Kruger was amazing with lots to see on our first official game drive. Elephants, buffalo and so much more. The crossing into Zimbabwe was an interesting view into that country. Took about 3.5 hours and got to see how dysfunctional and corrupt the country
really is. Wouldn't have missed it. The Great Zimbabwe was really
interesting. I had my doubts but it turned into a really interesting
morning and was lots of fun with the climb and then the dancers down in
the fake village. Lots to take in.
MATOBA NATIONAL PARK -- the
accommodations were super an overlook that was to die for. Right out of
my tent an amazing sunrise over the plains. Also very interesting in
them trying to start to help the park get repopulated with critters. The
park itself you could see that it could support so much more but with the
bad times, everything was just gone. The Normans did a great tour and
the game walk, our first, was really cool. Never did find the rhino's
but the search was cool. Talk about change - HWANGE NATIONAL PARK was
just amazing. The water holes were just great for viewing lots of
interesting things happening. Tons of pics taken there. The que at the
holes was fun to see. And who knew that the great mud for elephant baths
was meters out in the water. The little ones had to dive down to get to
it! Vic Falls initially felt very touristy when we got there after our
other adventures. I loved the walk along the falls and the next day I
did the pet the lions and then straight on the elephant ride. Both
really touched me and I think were very much a highlight of the trip.
The booze cruise was also great as were the stories from others on their
adventures for the day.
CHOBE NATIONAL PARK - was amazing. The difference in the number of
people there from the parks in Zimbabwe was stark. So many people with
so much money. The critter cooperated very well on both the river game
boat and the morning game drive. Very friendly as always guides. Saw
lots of tracks of predators but only saw a pride of lions in the distance
(about 300 meters) at the end of the game drive. The birds there were
amazing and still just so much to see. I loved the look from the water
as sunset came on. What a great park. MAUN was a great stop to just be
able to relax before and after the delta. Catch our breath a bit and
what a great pool. The Okavango Delta was incredible. Saw it from a
mokoro and from the air. Such a great way to travel the mokoro. The
whole guide experience was very special. Watching these people just
having such a great time while working their bunns off was very special.
The game walks there also just amazing. To get that close without any
protection was indeed a special experience. Especially after seeing it
from the air where the animals can be so very far apart. We got to see a
couple of hyena's in with some zebra and that was indeed special. On to
Elephant Sands and what an experience that was. The patio there with
such a close proximity to the water hole was just out of this world.
Just such an amazing place. The couple in the tent next to me had an
elephant trying to enter their at about 3:45 very exciting stuff. I
figure they had some sort of food in there. Just so cool and memorable!
Elephants at Camp
KHAMA RHINO SANCTUARY was great to see. I was very happy to see that the
rhinos there were pretty safe from poaching with the military base right
there and all the blinds around to help them keep tabs on the rhinos. We
were not able to spot them but the rest of the game drive and the last
sunset while camping was soothing.
So all in all a great time was had by me. Our group as well as our
guides really did well. No clickes were formed and everyone got on very
well. German, Belgium, Brit and Americans all did their part and with a
75, 69 and 65 year old around and doing everything the others did there
were no excuses for being too old!
So Nicky I am very happy with my holiday. I am tired and a bit sore from
all the travels but have so many lasting memories of my Africa adventure
that I am indeed a happy boy! You and your team did a super job and with
Kathy not making it made that transition very smooth. It will take me
time to digest the whole adventure but doing it this way was such a great
way to see life in that part of Africa which is exactly what I was after.
While in Chobe we saw a photography boat speed past. They
had more money in lenses then I will make in my lifetime I think.
However in their hurry to get that perfect picture I think that they
might be missing the part that so made my holiday special.
Thanks again and I will be in touch with pictures soon.
Well, best trip yet, by Far.
All round photography was amazing, returned with some wonderful photos & experiences. Shot around 12,000 Photos, has taken me 3 Days to short them down to 1500, so about 2 months work to Process them through Light Room & Photoshop.
Camp by Camp.
Great Camp, wonderful People Managing it, as this was a last minute add in it was surprising what we were able to experience here, in particular The Wild Dogs & Leopards, would definitely go back. Camp was excellent, great facilities & very comfortable all round enjoyable experience. I'll look to return next year for sure.
We were fortunate 2nd Morning to see the whole reason we went again this year, Lions taking down a Buffalo, great experience albeit in technicolor. Other than that, Duba was pretty well without Animals, once the Buffalo moved across the water & couldn't be followed (Except by Helicopter which we did & followed & Shot from the Air), there really wasn't much else. The Camp has not improved since last year, Still no Hot Water for Showers (Luke Warm at best), One Person has a Luke warm Shower after that it's Cold Water, may not sound like a big issue, but it is to me. Food was so so but Ok, cannot compare to other Camps we have been to, Staff are a bit like the Hot Water System, Luke Warm, I was on several occasions ready to check our Guide for a Pulse, nice enough, but very Ho Hum attitude "This is Africa" that's why things go wrong, our vehicle got stuck in the Channel one evening coming back, about 10 Minutes from Camp, took them 1 hour 15 minutes to get 2 Rescue vehicles out to us, they immediately proceeded to get both Rescue vehicles stuck, fortunately they got one out & decided to use it to take us back to Camp. Next Day, same spot, another Group got stuck, then again in the afternoon, then again the following day. Our Boat trip lasted 10 Minutes, Boat broke down & we had to be rescued, except they didn't have anyone to do the job, fortunately the Boat Guy & our Guide steered the Motor (Steering Cable was Broken), by Hand while the boys & Poled for Obstacles, Boys thought it was pretty cool, I wasn't overwhelmed by the repeated breakdowns & getting stuck thing. Having lived in Indonesia 30 years it was like I'de never left the Place, quite disappointing, but at least it was useful as a learning experience for my Lads, and the Staff were Nice, just ??? not excited about what they were doing. Wouldn't go again & wouldn't recommend Duba to my Friends. I would;don't say it was a Bad experience, just not up to the Quality of the other Camps we have experienced in Botswana in particular, I think they're living of the Fame of the Owners Videos, which are great I admit, but the Camp has to be improved if they expect my Business in Future.
Well, what a Blast, I am so glad i decided to do 10 Nights, maybe 7 would have been enough but I'm still glad i did 10, and so are my Boys. We saw some amazing stuff at Mombo, just amazing. I took the helicopter up twice for 1.5 hours each time here (Also once in Duba which was a highlight). The Guys at Mombo gave me Poster (The Rhino Guide Guy, biggest Guy on the Planet, almost didn't fit in the Helicopter), and we went out & found 15 Rhino during the Flight, great stuff. The Camp was a real surprise, maybe not quite to Jao level, but not much less in any way, plus the Staff & Management is the best I've experienced at any Camp anywhere, in particular Clair from Management, Our Guide at Mombo Tshepo & Vasco the Camp Manager & his Wife (Forgotten her Name, Lovely Lady), everyone was great but these Guys were Stand Outs, return next Year without a Doubt, maybe not for 10 Nights again, I think 7 would work well. Problem of course is that I noticed People come & Go during our 10 Nights, sometimes 2. 3, 4 Nights that just didn't experience the things we did, i.e., The Leopard Cub, 6 weeks old & Blue Eyed, The Mother Leopard transporting the Cub in her Mouth to a new Den, the Rhinos, The Lions doing on 3 occasions Impala Kills right in the Camp (My son & I were stuck in the Curio Shop for an hour during the last one, to Dangerous to move on the Walkways as the Lions were using them to Ambush the Impala. This was a little worrying I have to admit, but Staff ensured everyone was taken care of, but it may not be an experience Mombo want to see into the future, bit close to Home perhaps). Go again, in a Heartbeat can't say enough Good things about Mombo, the Camp, The Staff, The Experience.
So, great trip, nothing that I can think of went wrong, Thank you, Now I need to start thinking about Next Year.
E Lang, July 2012
The trip was everything we had hoped it would be and more! Our main goal was to see and take pictures of the animals and they did not disappoint us! They were everywhere - elephants, lions, giraffes, zebras, crocs, hippos, impalas, kudus, rhinos, leopards, hyenas, wild dogs and more! The guides did an excellent job of taking care of us, as well as teaching us all about the flora, fauna and culture. The accommodations varied in different places, but all were clean and comfortable. The food was very good and they did a good job of adapting to our vegetarian diet. One of our guides, Lazarus, was an excellent cook! We were fortunate to have a compatible group of fellow travelers who were also intent on taking wildlife photos.
The game drives were great as were the game walks, although we did have quite a scare on a walk when some elephants got upset about having too many hiking groups surrounding them. The guides/polers knew what to do, but there were some very tense moments. Apparently it was an unusual set of circumstances.
The flying wasn't fun, but SAA was accommodating and their veggie meals were pretty good. On the way back to SFO from Washington DC on United Airlines there was more leg room than any of the previous flights, but United managed to lose our duffel bags. Mine was on the next flight so we stayed at SFO and retrieved it (same with another couple & their bags), but Rod's didn't appear. It was delivered to our house the next day. No big deal.
The only change I would recommend has to do with the bottled water situation. We were able to stop and purchase our own at certain places, but it would have been less hassle if the company had provided it. It's not a big criticism. It just seemed to make the logistics more complicated.
Rod has fancy camera equipment and got excellent photos. The ones below from my little pocket camera are pretty good too because we were able to get quite close to the animals without disturbing them.
Thank you so much for all of your help, Vanessa! We will recommend you to friends who want to go to Africa.
Just wanted to drop you a note and tell you what a fantastic time we had in Botswana. The people, the locations, everything were great. (Even Gordon was charming...! ;-) ) We also met some great people among our fellow travelers (a family who we met at Dumatau and coincidentally went to Chitabe with us on the same day).
Everything went smoothly and without a hitch. The connections and transfers all were very smooth. (The only glitch was I caught a nasty head cold halfway into the trip).
Physically..both camps were great (as you know, Dumatau just opened their new camp), but we both preferred the traditional styling of Chitabe (while the location of the "new" Dumatau is great, we thought the decor reminded us of a pottery barn showroom. Maybe that's the look they wanted but Chitabe gave us more of the traditional feel of what we were expecting in Africa.)
Our guide at Dumatau, Moses, was fantastic! Highly recommended for any of your future guests. Very charming, knowledgeable, and professional. Our guide at Chitabe, "Anthony", was also knowledgeable but a notch below Moses. He also had a more dry sense of humor, but I think we got used to him after a day.
The game viewing at Chitabe was off the charts. Leopard (with and with cubs), dozens of lions, Cheetah, hyena, jackal, you name it. Dumatau was also good (especially for the wild dogs) but we had to work a bit harder to find them.
Thanks for all your help and hope we can plan another trip with you sometime soon.
I wanted to thank you for a magnificent and logistics-perfect trip. You could not have done a better job for us in all respects. We can't actually give you personal credit for our being able to witness a pride of 11 lions devouring a cape buffalo - and a thousand other amazing sights - but you certainly made that all possible. We were very pleased with Msangi from Asilia as well as your contact in Nairobi who facilitated our transportation there. One note on the Arusha Coffee Lodge and especially the Manor: wow. The visit with my Peace Corps niece there was, of course, incredibly wonderful as well - just in a different way.
So bottom line: trip of a lifetime. Thanks again to you and all the Eyes on Africa staff and partners.
S Wattenmaker, July 2012
Such a pleasant surprise to find logistics so well-organized for us! We were greeted at Johannesburg Airport, and given personal instructions as to where to locate the shuttle to our hotel, as well as given instructions as to where to meet the following morning for our transport to the satellite airport, where Fed Air would fly us to Nottens' Bush Camp, near Sabi Sabi area outside Kruger National Park. Since we were not traveling with a group, I was not sure what to expect; however, everything turned out exceptionally well. Upon arrival at each bush camp, we were assigned our tent (at Nottens', we had a "family tent," which meant we each had our own bed room). At the other bush camps, we shared a single tent. I was delighted to utilize the outdoor showers by our tents at each of the camps; however, that was only possible during mid-day, since the temperature was more moderate by that time. Since it was winter, we learned that it meant multiple layers were essential, as were gloves, hat and scarf. I had brought along hand and foot warmers, which really were useful on the coldest days. It was coldest during the early mornings, evenings, and at night. Layering was the key to being comfortable.
We met a number of interesting people in each of the camps, and have already been in touch with a few of them to share our experiences. I particularly liked the ambiance of the camps, since each one was a bit different and all offered plenty of opportunities to see a variety of animals. The food at each camp was delicious, and offerings of South African wine were all quite good. We were offered Amarula on many occasions, and did not miss a chance to indulge. Even the local beers were quite tasty and we did not miss a chance to try them.
There were a few thrills during our safari: during one evening game drive, we were served our sundowner drinks and then told to immediately get into the Land Rover. Our guide had barely finished putting away the box containing the drinks and snacks and had managed to climb into the vehicle when a pride of lions walked by. We had been watching them hunting earlier. At the conclusion of one evening game drive at Nottens', we found that wild dogs had just made a kill of an impala in the middle of the camp, and the remains of that kill were lying in the path of our vehicle as we returned to camp. It was just a reminder that wild animals could roam through camp anytime. Since we really wanted to see as many animals as possible, our wishes were fulfilled in each bush camp. I find it difficult to select which camp was my favorite, since they each had something special to offer. Nottens had a real family feel to the camp, since so many family members were involved in the operation. At Tubu Tree, the camp people were the most personable, without question. There were only five tents occupied while were there, so that made the experience more intimate, and it was very easy to socialize there. The bush pilots who transported us between the camps were excellent, and having overviews of the terrain en route made the trip even more interesting. Spending time near Victoria Falls was a real highlight. No trip to Southern Africa would be complete without a visit to the Falls. Having a brief shopping opportunity at a market just outside that area was perfect (since we love to shop!), and we managed to find some special locally made souvenirs there. Staying downriver from the Falls was good, since we had the opportunity to cruise in a small boat on the Zambezi River right out of camp, enabling us to see hippos, crocs and birds along the shores.
Dianne and Cherri at Vic Falls
Our bags were transported between camps without difficulty, and it was wonderful to find them in our tents once we settled in. The housekeepers in each camp were excellent, and took good care of us.
I would highly recommend Eyes on Africa to anyone, and I thank NIcky Glover for ensuring that my 65th birthday treat turned out to be such a memorable experience.
C Disque, June 2012
On behalf of our 16-person group, I'd like to thank you for putting together a truly spectacular and memorable trip for us!
Our trip started with a two-night stay at the luxurious and very private Idwala Guest House in Johannesburg. The manager, Jeannette, and her team - Paul, Precious and George – welcomed us with open-arms, and the ambiance and comfort of Idwala helped all of us recover from the jet-lag. Our tour of the Cradle of Humankind opened our eyes to the amazing history of southern Africa and humankind.
Our first stop in Botswana was Kwando Safaris' Kwara Camp in the Delta. Our group size was large enough to occupy the entire camp, and the staff, led by BK and Hilda, did an excellent job meeting all our needs. The staff's singing and dance performance on our last night was one of the exceptional highlights of the trip. The group was split up into three game vehicles (a max of six per vehicle) and the guiding/tracking teams of Dux/Barouti, Thomas/Justice, and TJ/Master found a female cheetah within a half an hour of setting out on a first game drive. Our numerous game drives, which sometimes exceeded four hours, rewarded us with daily lion sightings as well as numerous other gamespecies. As one participant put it, "You hardly knew which way to turn your head - there were animals everywhere!" And the nightly serenading of the resident hippos around camp created everlasting memories. Our boat ride even included an obstructed view of a sitatunga. Kwara definitely "delivered" and started our Botswana safari off on the right foot.
Our second camp was another Kwando managed camp, namely Tau Pan in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. The camp managers, Thuso and Ontjie, did a fantastic job and we werewell taken care of. Our group was split up into four vehicles (four personseach), and the guide/tracker teams of Thuso/PK, Lucky/Obzer, Jacob/Chris, and Paul/Custom worked hard to show us many of the desert-adapted animals. Perhaps the highlight, which resulted from some persistent and knowledgeable tracking, was watching the Tau Pan lion pride feasting on a giraffe in very close proximity to the lodge. The magnificence of the Kalahari black-maned lion is something to behold! It hadn't rained in six weeks and much of the game had moved away from Tau Pan. We thus did the all-day drive to Deception Valley, during which half the group got to see their first leopard. Another game viewing highlight for one vehicle, again made possible by some skilled tracking, was watching a honey badger dig up a young warthog from its burrow, with two jackal in tow. While somewhat abbreviated by the nearby presence of lions, the San cultural activity was special and gave us small, yet personal, insight into their life.
Lion on Game Drive
Our final camp was Muchenje Safari Lodge, situated on a ridge overlooking the Chobe River floodplain. The view from our rooms of this floodplain and into Namibia was stunning and the sunset on our last night was particularly memorable (and well photographed). Rob, Joy and their staff did a wonderful job as hosts and the guiding team of Lips, Kgee and Nick did a great job navigating us safely through the numerous herds of elephant and an enormous herd of buffalo – affording us really close encounters with both species. We also got to see numerous other game species including a large herd of sable, many majestic giraffe and kudu, lots of birdlife, and we could have spent many more hours being entertained by various troops of baboons.
Finally, a word of thanks to Gordi, Derrick and Godfrey who ensured that we all made our various transfers safely around Johannesburg and on time.
Thanks again for all the hard work you did to ensure we had exciting and flawless trip! I know that some of the group are already dreaming of a return trip.
Hey there Nicky,
So made it back, finally, a day late. our flight from
Joberg to london was cancelled tues night. so spent the whole night in SA (glad you had gotten the"day" room -- it became a "night" room too.) then left wed morning. stayed in london wed night but finally made it back here thurs afternoon. we're glad if flights were going to go wrong, it didn't happen until we were coming home! actually that was fine. so thanks for all your help in getting us out of nosey be. The weather the WHOLE time we were gone had been fabulous, except the night we left nosey be at 4 AM, during a thunderstorm in the dark for a half hour boat ride, a little scary, altho just fine. tsara Komba was the best. thanks for finding that place. actually everything was the best. all the places were great. really liked Madagagascar, what a hidden jewel, it has everything. The only americans we met there were missionaries. everyone else was from Europe. somehow madagascar needs to get on the "map" it was great. the most amazing thing to us was the fact that almost everyone
we met in Botswana was on their 6th, 8th, 10th safari. These were Americans, Europeans, and Canadians. the comment was they were "addicted." WE loved Africa, don't get me wrong, but I don't see going back and safaring every other year. Just glad we got to see the Big 5 -- we were worried there for a while. only saw one lion, but got some great interaction with a leopard at Xigera. AND Toka Leya was a very pleasant surprise. I hadn't expected to see animals there at all. But the animal sightings were great!!! and we got to see rhinos. The rhinos in that park have armed guards 24/7. Our guide hooked us up with the guards and they gave us a royal tour twice of rhinos. it was fabulous and of course Victoria Falls -- what a site. All of the camps you picked for us were great. The people always took great care of us and the food was outstanding at all places. Too much food. I had no idea we'd do so little exercise on safari and eat so much. they feed you every two hours!!! and you were right on about the shoes. we did not need hiking boots in AFrica -- obviously. you only walk from your room to the jeep!!! But madagascar we needed hiking boots. had some great exercise there. The day and night expeditions there were fabulous.
LOVED the lemurs. wanted to bring one of them home! Andasibe was great. really liked our guide there (our driver from Tana was THE best -- Andry). ANd then Isalo was fabulous also. The driver from the coast was great -- Noel --. really had a great hike in Isalo with Coco. MoMo was sick with gout, (too much Zebu) but he provided us with a great guide - Coco. Very knowledgeable and was genuinely happy and very grateful we had come to visit Madagascar. that was very refreshing, and we got that from a lot of Malagasy people. It was nice.
It was also very nice that in both Madagascar and Africa everyone seemed to realize what treasures they had. And genuinely wanted to protect and preserve them. I really hope that's able to happen, particularly in Madagascar. The lemur territories are quickly being encroached on and the discovery of Sapphires seems to be a HUGE issue. Hopefully they can work out a compromise between the "jewels." The other thing that impressed me SO much in Africa at the safari camps was EVERYONE's environmental concerns. All the guides and drivers stopped and picked up ALL trash -- from the road and from the water. IT was great. that did NOT happen in Madagascar tho.
Hopefully that will happen in the future. Please email me Malala's email address. Also I could use a little direction in contacting the insurance about the extra night we spent at
Tsara Komba. Thank you again for a marvelous trip.
N Diehl March 2012
My dear Nicky,
What is it about Africa time? You are in complete isolation, in the bush with no reception, thus having the ability to take all that is around you in to your heart, in to those memory banks in the old brain. In my case, being in my mid sixties, I don’t know how long the latter will last. But I want to try to summarize our “month long trip of a lifetime!” taken last July 2011. And you will read between the lines that this trip could not have taken place without Nicky Glover being in the middle of it.
This trip took almost two years of planning and many wonderful phone calls with Nicky, and lots of laughter in between. The trip was designed around a photo safari in Botswana with Andy Biggs, the global photographer. We ended up covering four countries in this vast continent, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and of course, Botswana.
Leopard with kill
Larry and I flew from San Francisco to Johannesburg, via New York, on to Cape Town. We were met at the airport by a very cordial guide, ready to share history on our way to the Cape Grace hotel. Cape Town was suppose to be cold since it was July and since we brought parkas, windbreakers, rain gear, etc. Instead we had 85-degree weather, no clouds and I had no summer clothes with me. We met up with Graham (another tour guide appointed by Nicky) who took us to the wine country, Table Mountain, up to see the penguins and down to Cape of Good Hope. We were very lucky to actually take the visit to Robben Island and see where Mandela spent his time. Graham was an impressive guide, historian, and objective observer of the politics surrounding this delicate country.
Larry and I were very interested in the history of South Africa and the other countries. The struggle seems less by today’s standards; however, political climates can change quickly in this vastly interesting continent.
Our safari group met in Johannesburg. Again, we were handheld by a guide, such as Gordon or Derek at the airport, to the hotels and back to the airports. You never felt you were alone in this incredible adventure. We counted the number of legs (as related to airplanes, not humans) we flew and it was 14. So most of these planes were little 4 seaters, which were the highlight of the trip, that is if we fly at 3-400 feet.
View of camp
View of the room
Our first safari was Savuti Camp, a permanent tented camp on the Savute Channel, which had just started flowing in 2008, after being dry for 30 years. The elevated camp was beautiful with thatched huts being right on the river. The food was like eating at Gary Danko’s in San Francisco, a 5 star restaurant. At night you heard the lion’s roar, the hippos snort, and the baboons everywhere. The first game drive was exhilarating! The Land Rovers are completely open with no canopy. Two game drives a day allow one to see the Big Five almost daily. The bird population was overwhelming.
The second camp was the number one camp in all of Africa, Mombo, located in the Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta. On our first game drive we met Legadima, the infamous leopard from the DVD, “The Eye of the Leopard” by the Jouberts. It is hard to describe Mombo. When we were being led to our tent, I saw 5-6 peaked roofs down the walkway thinking there were 5-6 huts close together. No, that was all one unit. It was breathtaking. We stayed in #6, the same tent where Nicky and James stayed on one of their many visits. The staff at all the camps were at your beck and call. You felt you were staying at the Plaza Hotel in New York.
What made both these camps and safaris so worthwhile were the trip leaders assigned to this particular safari to Botswana. I can’t say enough about Andy Biggs, who will spend as much time as you need to answer all your questions and who will help you produce some stunning photographs. Nicky’s husband, James Weis, is another outstanding guide and photographer, constantly telling us what to look for and not to cut off the leopard’s tail when taking a photo. A third guide is Grant Atkinson, who actually lives in South Africa with his lovely wife, Helena. Grant is an endless source of information from environmental concerns, to driving a Land Rover, to an accomplished photographer. We had problems with one of our cameras and Grant did not hesitate in offering one of his for us to use. This is far beyond the call of duty of any guide.
We also saw the last female wild dog in the Moremi Reserve. We pray over time the balance of life returns, which means lower numbers of lions in the area and higher numbers of wild dogs. The highlight of Mombo was flying in helicopters, without the doors, so we could capture the wildlife from above. I only wish my seatbelt hadn’t come undone in the first five minutes. Ahhhh….a little excitement never hurts.
I was in tears when we left Mombo. I felt I was leaving my home. However within minutes, Larry and I were whisked away in a 4-seater plane flying at 300 feet over Botswana to Zambia. Our Canadian pilot, Phil, was a very good pilot. I loved their sophisticated navigation system, an iPhone sitting on the dash. His takeoffs and landings on dirt airstrips were almost perfect. We saw hundreds of elephants, pods of hippos, and endless herds of cattle. Botswana is truly the premier country to see wildlife, as it is politically stable and proactive on reducing the tragic slaughter of the White and Black rhino.
In Zambia we visited Victoria Falls while staying at the River Club, located on the banks of the Zambezi River. We did a game drive where we saw our first rhino, a male weighing 2700 kilos, sleeping quietly. We had been escorted by an armed guard with an AK47 whose job it was to guard this rhino against poaching 24/7.
Of course we took another helicopter ride over Victoria Falls. But the highlight of this country was our hour ride on elephants and our hour with 3 cheetahs. The 7 elephants had come from Zimbabwe and I insisted on riding the smallest one. Lost my legs for an hour! What moved me the most though was the hour with the cheetahs. The game reserve was located near Livingston and these three full grown cheetahs were 10 months old. The goal was to reproduce and increase the wavering population of the cheetah in Africa. Their environment is shrinking and they are always a target of local farmers. Photos are self-explanatory.
While at the River Club, we met a couple who had to flee Zimbabwe because of political pressures and more importantly, their sugarcane farm was burned to the ground. They are now residing in Zambia and are trying to get their life back together.
Visiting with the cheetah
Visiting with the cheetah
Visiting with the cheetah
In any event, we have now spent 3 weeks in Africa, and our journey now leads us to eastern South Africa to a private camp called Rattrays. Mr. and Mrs. Rattray own 35,000 acres of land in the MalaMala region where they have built 3 very different camps. It was most exciting flying on Federal Air out of a smaller area of the Johannesburg airport. At Rattrays the rule is only 4 to a Land Rover and that was the draw to this particular camp. We had a great guide, Gary, and due to the timing of our trip got our own Land Rover. The khayas (house) were like staying in a luxury home with his and hers bathrooms and heated floors. Never have I been so spoiled. We saw the Big Five within two days and followed a pride of lions and their 4 cubs one afternoon for 5 hours. It was fascinating.
We ended our trip in Johannesburg with an all day tour with Robin Binckes, local resident and author of several books on the history of Africa, most recently his newly released book, “Canvas under the Sky”. Went to Alexander Square, one of two townships, and the apartheid museum. So interesting.
So after one month, we were to head back to the US. I really did not want to go home. Nicky planned every detail. Gave me websites in the beginning to help decide on the excursions around the photo safari. Not only is she a delight, after meeting her husband, James, we know why their company, “Eyes on Africa” is such a success. They have lived years in Africa, Nicky born and raised in Johannesburg.
If my husband and I had won the lottery, we would be travelling to Africa every year for the rest of our lives and nowhere else. We love to travel together, but this trip will remain a vivid memory within our minds and hearts.
To put this into perspective, I have a very bad back problem and riding in those Land Rovers created quite a challenge for me. I probably was in more pain than anytime here at home, but…..and I say but I would return tomorrow in a heartbeat, and go through the whole thing over again.
Africa does something to those who visit and open their hearts. You fall in love! We are now ready to plan our next trip to see the Migration! And yes, only Nicky and Eyes on Africa will plan it!
P Hoenig - August 2011
Sorry for the delay in reply. Still haven't gotten to the task of editing our 6700 pictures. I attached a few to help define this email.
Saying we had a greeaat time is a gross understatement. When asked about our trip, I like to briefly say we started the Africa portion of our trip being kissed by a giraffe and ended it being groped by a gorilla.
Giraffe Manor. I highly recommend Giraffe Manor for anyone as a layover for one night in Nairobi. This elegantly refurbished 1920s stone mansion is extraordinary. The grounds, beautiful as they are, seem to be there only to set the stage for the real show, the endless interaction with the all of the baby and adult giraffe (and the warthogs and their woglets). Getting the morning wakeup from our second story mansion bedroom by an intruding Giraffe head with it's probing black tongue was, I have to admit, a first.
Giraffe visit through window
Being insistent on us going to the Serengeti at Sayari Camp was a stroke of genius. We weren't off the plane for 30 minutes before we were witnessing a Wildebeest Xing of the Mara river. It was incredible. Saw the Big 5 the first day there and a wide variety of wild life on all game drives. Also later saw several secondary wildebeest and Zebra xossings. Along with all of the other beasts the wildebeest were everywhere. Having them move through your camp, all around your tent for hours in the middle of the night with their constant grunting/mooing sounds or standing out in the Serengeti, sipping your toddy at the sundowner, looking around and realizing that you are in the middle of tens of thousands of Wildebeest make for quite an experience.
At the Mara river
Mara Plains another winner. Along with all of the animals, we enjoyed the Masai people that were our guides and neighbors and enjoyed visiting one of their villages. Good game drives, a really large population of lions. On a night drive experience we were surrounded by a lounging and moving pride of 7 lions with another two lions out hunting. All of a sudden they started all roaring in unison. It was so loud and intense it felt like the car was shaking. Our adrenaline levels all passed peak.
Next came Ol Donyo Wuas, nestled up in the Chyulu hills. Wow. I don't know how to describe what a fantastic facility it is. All stone with thatched roofs, secluded and very private but all wide open, all glassed bath and showers (indoor and out), private pool, perched high up on the Chyulu hills with vast vistas fron every room including from the two thronelike chairs facing out from our main bedroom. We had the last chalet?, villa?, which is situated in a way that allows the animals easier access to our pool (private except for the animals). Troups of Baboon and groups of Warthogs and their woglets, among other creatures, frequented the pool to enjoy our hospitality. Although we chose not to sleep on the bed up there, some time every night, with a toddy, on our roof top deck, gazing at what must be the most intense starry sky on earth, was a must. Game drives, a horseback safari, a trek through lava tube tunnels, a visit to the weekly Masai market/cattle, goat & sheep auction, a lot of time with the resident elephants, along with outstanding cuisine, super deluxe accomodations and vast panorama overlooking the never vacant watering holes, all made this place fabulous.
Last but not least there was Rwanda. With the densest population in Africa it's the cleanest, tidiest, city and countryside I've ever seen. Plastic bags are outlawed, there is virtually NO Litter of any kind anywhere. Extremely hard for an American to imagine such a thing! Much of the population live at poverty level but everyone seems to be working, has food and appears to be very happy and they're very proud of their "new and cooperative" Rwanda. We drove for hours through mile after mile of seemingly endless, all beautifully manicured fields of various produce. Every inch of it is cultivated by the people, by hand. Often singing in the fields as they toil.
Now we get to Volcanos Nat'l Park. The treks through the dense jungle was like nothing I could have imagined. No one that I had previously talked to that had been there was able to do a very good job of describing the hike. I can now understand why. The dense rain forest jungle overgrowth, the vines, the thorns, the mud, the fallen trees, the smells (fragrant & foul), the stunning vistas of the volcanos, the million colors of green, the mud, the low oxygen at over 9000 feet, the steep incline, the elation of having a bearer, the intensity of how dense the overgrowth is, the endless beauty, wonderful and truly amazing. It was like no place I've ever been. It would have been worth doing without the gorillas. The only way to get a real description is to go there and do it yourself.
Close encounter while gorilla tracking
The first of our two days of treks was spent with a family of gorillas with 8 that were present. Though they were somewhat sedate and resting we were right next to them and it was mystical.
Then there was trek II! A family of 21 gorillas, with 5 silverbacks, the females, juveniles and babies as young as just a few days. They were everywhere. They walked out of the bush to surprize us, sat next to us, walked past us, you name it. The juveniles played and swung from vines, babies frolicked with moms, one mom carried her, less than a month old, baby within inches of us. One of the silverbacks actually groped Randy then had a tracker around the neck and on the ground (they were laughing and said he was just drunk on bamboo and being playful). Another gorilla followed us after we're left the immediate area, grabbed the pant leg of the guy standing next to me then moved on a few feet and took up a stance like we weren't even there.
You guessed it.
Randy getting groped
Thanks for putting together another wonderful trip for us. There was not a single time when the contracted representatives, guides or drivers weren't waiting for us when we got off of the many planes. If they could have only also been responsible for the handling of the baggage for the international airlines everything would have been perfect.
Taking the liberty of speaking for fellow travelers, Wil(debeest), Sherri, Barbara & for myself, I say, "Yep", Unforgettable!
R & B Hervey - September 2011
My husband Charlie and I just got back from the most memorable 3-week vacation to Botswana, Africa! My heart overflows with gratitude to our agent, Nicky Glover for planning such a once in a lifetime trip. We visited four camps....Mombo, Stanley's Camp, Jao and Zarafa....each different and exciting in its own way. The sunsets were breath taking. The accommodations were so romantic...even included an outdoor shower with an audience of elephants looking on! Only in Africa! We went on daily safaris and saw lots of animals including elephants, impala, a variety of birds, crocodile, hippopotamus, lions, warthogs and more! I got to see a kill and even a rhinoceros mother with her baby! That is a rarity! I could go on and on.....Best of all, we met the nicest people and made new friends with the staff as well as other travelers. It was truly an Out of Africa experience! Thanks to Nicky and Eyes on Africa for such a memory!
Dinner with Koehler Family
K & C Koehler - September 2011
I have been meaning to send the two of you a thank you email since I got back from South Africa. I had a great time. Everything went off perfectly.
The private tour that you arranged for me in Johannesburg was so much more than I expected. The guide was great. Gave me a lot of insight as to what was happening in the country over the last 100 years or so. His personal touch in the stories really helped my understanding.
Everything on the safaris was what I was hoping for. Got really close to the animals. Lots of good photo ops. The lodges and the food and the staff were great. My favorite was Leopard Hills.
I really appreciate everything you guys did to put together my trip. I couldn't have asked for more!
S Chin - August 2011
We had a most wonderful time. All the camps were different and all were great. We met many super people. We do have some nice pics as soon as Bryan has a chance to load them to the computer I will send some of them. We met a couple of relief managers at Tubu Tree, Dan and Charmine, and Dan has taught photography for many years in SA, so he personally helped Bryan and I got my one picture that I told Bryan I really wanted. A silhouette of necking giraffes at sunset, so cool! I am sure you have seen many, but this is our memory of the sunset at Tubu. But Bryan has quite a few nice photos.
Mombo we got to see the wild dog and the jackals together twice and great pics of her. Unfortunately we didn't see the wild dogs at Savuti, but we loved Savuti. We had a great guide and saw two leopards in two days first two days out. We are supposed to tell James that the Duma Tau male leopard crossed the bridge at Savuti pretty as you please with us following him across. They said that is the first time they have seen a leopard cross the bridge. At Tubu I tried my hand at mokoro poling, I didn't do too bad for a first time out by myself, but I had a bit of trouble getting it parked back in place!
We were lucky enough to have Mike Myers and his wife as camp mates at little Mombo and that made the game drives even more fun. Mike even called a Pell's owl for us, amazing. I asked Mike if they had any more of the big books that are in your room at Mombo for sale, and he said they do have several. He told me to email you and you could contact him directly to get a book for me ,it is Mombo, Okavango Place of Plenty. Just let me know the price and how to pay for it.
We also did get to see Legedema too, but she wasn't seeking company. Too many paparazzi with photo group of 6 shooting a million pictures a second in a separate rover, clicking simultaneously. glad we missed them in Livingstone, they went to Toko Leya, we to River Club.
Whew it was really cold for a few days at Savuti, glad you told me, I brought plenty of stuff, and was toasty on the drives especially with the hot water bottles and ponchos. I have already bought a bottle of Amarula here in the states, I was missing those pre dinner drinks.
Cape Grace is now on my list of favorite places to stay, and Capetown was great. Severula is our new favorite restaurant there on the waterfront. Our guide Christine Gibson, was superb, she was like an old friend and we had fun on our two days of exploration with her. I would like to have her again when we go back. WE did a Ken Forrester wine tasting at Cape Grace and won a prize of whiskey tasting for two at Bacule, that was very fun, and Bryan, who loves single malt scotch was very pleased!
Thank you for your patience with all questions and for making this an awesome first trip to Africa. I think we would like to do another in 2013 and would like to talk with you about options or what you would recommend for a second trip. I really want to hook on a Rwanda mountain gorilla trip for 3 days to beginning or end of trip, whatever works best, I think I now have Bryan convinced to go after this trip success. WE did like the absence of mosquitoes at this time of year and the beautiful days which were not scorching hot, this time of year is very nice.
Flights; BA was great, Serofane was great, AA was late for both flights of course as usual. Are there direct flights to Capetown from US?
I have to say Wilderness is a class act for sure. I love that they give back so much as well. I really liked the drives where our rover was alone, without others clamoring for a photo position. Savuti allowed for much personal time without trios of rovers. Mombo had great viewing, but often 3 rovers trying to jockey for photo position. Tubu had less game, the wind blew in with great force one night, and scattered the game, making it hard to find them, but the mokoro ride was so superb, especially moving through the grass silently with tiny reed frogs on either side and fish eagles in the trees. The ambiance of Tubu was super, we really loved it.
So which is it one and only or cape grace?
Thanks, keep in touch.
B & B Dickson - 2011
Thank you very much for the gorgeous book, The Circle of Life. Oh,that we could take photographs like that! Thanks, also, for arranging a spectacular safari for us. We had a fantastic time! Loved seeing four distinctly different areas, each with its own character and enjoyed every camp immensely. Experienced many exciting animal sightings---leopards three times, many lions, a cheetah feasting on its Thomson gazelle kill surrounded by dozens of vultures who moved in when the cheetah left only to be shooed away by a jackal who finished off the carcass. Were happy to see the babies of many species---rhinos, giraffes, Cape buffalo, elephants, zebras, gazelles, hippos, et.al. We were pleased to see the Lake Navaish/Lake Nakuru/Rift Valley area with its lush vegetation, flower farms and the FLAMINGOS! Ending our trip at the gracious Cottars 1920's Camp was perfect, reminiscent of original safaris with modern amenities. We had fun there with a young honeymoon couple and an American family of ten people including 7 cousins in their 20's from 3 families (their mothers are sisters) . The 6 boy cousins (only 1 girl) competed against some young Masai men in spear throwing and bow and arrow shooting. Amid much laughter and friendly competition, cultural barriers completely gone, the cousins were no match for the superior skills of the Masai.
A highlight of our trip occurred in Nairobi where we had a layover on our way from Amboseli to Samburu. As a total surprise to us, African Quest's manager, Alice Sanday and our guide, Daniel, from last year met us at Wilson Airport with a boxed lunch from Carnivore
Restaurant. Both of them had been so good to us last year when Gerry was injured and we will be forever grateful to them for their care, concern and assistance. It was an emotional reunion with warm hugs, well wishes and happiness conveyed that we had returned to complete our aborted safari in Kenya. My only regret is that I was so overwhelmed I didn't think to take a photo of them.
We truly did see Africa and fall in love.
G & G Swanson
Marnye and I are home safe after a wonderful and fulfilling trip to Africa. One major thing we learned on this trip was that we had waited far too long to return after our first visit (5 years) and we won't let that happen again!
Following is a little report on the companies, lodges, hotels, camps and service we experienced that might be helpful. Overall the trip was great but there are some things we would change when we return to east Africa; number one being that we would avoid spending any time in the cities – especially Nairobi which neither of us enjoyed.
So, here are some summaries.
Hotel's, lodges & camps:
Palacina Hotel in Nairobi
Considering that this wasn't our first choice it was just ok. Not a bad place but also not great being in town and behind walls. It was in fact a little depressing having just arrived – I guess it would have been ok for one night but spending 3 nights was too much (because of the flight timing). The staff was nice and the food at breakfast and the connected restaurant was good, not great. The worse thing was that it just wasn't safe to walk anywhere from the hotel so we were stuck there one whole day. Not anything unusual for an African city to be behind walls but just not what we wanted. Our own fault as we knew we were doing this to accommodate the flights with air miles but in the future we will do our best to avoid city time as much as possible.
House of Waine in Karen
Much better in terms of being a bit out of the city with a bit more space but still, once there you are kind of stuck there. Much nicer common areas and the bar staff and dining staff were nice (taking the time to school us on our limited Swahili which was great fun and helpful). Only spending one night there certainly was acceptable. The food was very good. We'll try not to hold it against them that the bar didn't serve Tusker (preferring their own brand, Sierra)! J
Ol Donyo Waus
What a fantastic location and a beautifully done lodge. Our room (#1 in El Mau) was so huge we felt like we should be entertaining! Not sure if I can say enough good about this place; we would go back in a heartbeat. In fact we will never miss going there during future trips to Kenya. Ok, the animal population was good not great but the isolation of the place and the views and the service are more than enough to make up for that. In fact we did see quite a few animals and only in perspective to the Mara does it seem lacking but only a slight way. The common areas of the lodge were fantastic, the staff by far the most proficient and friendly of anywhere we have visited in Africa (and a lot of other areas as well) and the food was outstanding and varied.
The hosts – Abby and Cyrus were very warm and friendly. In particular they seemed to have a specific focus on our interests and satisfaction. Abby, once learning of Marnye's culture interest recommended that we visit the closest manyatta to meet the Maasai because this particular village was not well visited and not very commercialized. We went and I think Marne was having so much fun dancing with the women that they wanted to adopt her. At the end of the visit several women (4 or 5 I think) came forward to give her gifts of jewelry (we had already purchased some) and she was quite touched by that. We also met about 20 or so young children learning their ABC's under a tree and we were both emotionally affected by the respectful greeting from them (the bowing of their heads for touching). It really made a big impression on both of us and is something we'll never forget.
One very nice touch – when we arrived I was feeling a bit off from some bug affecting my stomach and Cyrus wasted no time rounding up some Cipro for me and by the next morning I was cured! I'll never travel without that stuff again.
We met Richard Bonham (and Tara and their wonderful dogs) and saw a little behind the scenes of the lodge that added to the experience. Our guide, Lamayan was really fun and a kindred spirit with regard to Marnye's love of bones.
This lodge exceeded our expectations in every way from location and construction to service and food to comfort and surprises (like a bush breakfast surprise and dinner the last night under the stars). We were very sorry to leave and cannot wait to go back. We also met some amazing guests there – some of the dinners were so much fun our sides hurt from laughing.
Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge
Great place and only pales slightly in comparison to other places we stayed in on this trip. I think they do a fantastic job with the limited resources in the area and the climate. The staff was nice and very efficient and the food was very good – especially the hot soups which were greatly appreciated considering how cool and misty it was when were there. The host Nigel (who I understand had opened the place for Governors Camp and was now filling in for 3 months) was an interesting guy and we enjoyed the stories about his life in Kenya. The 2nd night we were the only guests except for an agent from South Africa (Ian) so it was only the 4 of us for dinner. The conversation was great and we spent quite a bit of time grilling Ian and Nigel about the hotelier/travel business and the state of Africa.
We found the lodge had some great touches like equipping us with gaiters for our hikes (which work very, very well) and removing our muddy boots after the hike and cleaning them.
Mara Plains Camp
Another great place. Our "tent" was the furthest removed from the camp and had a great double deck with hammocks. The common areas were comfortable for hanging out and reading and were especially nice one evening when it just rained buckets. The hosts (Chris and Rachael) were very nice and very English/Kenyan – loved that. Service was good and the food was very good. I would rate them only 2nd to Ol Donyo in terms of food on this trip.
Marnye commented on how much she enjoyed the Cheetah print in the butter dishes and when we were leaving Rachael gave her one of the hand carved stamps which was a very nice and unexpected surprise. We'll now use it at our dinner parties!
Our guide Kevin (at least I had no trouble remembering his name!) was great and animals were spectacular. Just a few highlights:
· A Tawny eagle trying its best to lift a cobra it had killed – amazing sight, Marnye got some incredible photos
· A group of hyena's trying to steal a kill from a lion pride
· A female cheetah chasing a reedbuck – just missed (good for the reedbuck!)
· 5 male lions under a gardenia tree
· Mass quantity of zebras – thousands!
The only negative about this camp was the flies at lunchtime – we know this is a reality of being in the bush, especially around so many animals. I just thought maybe they should net in the dining area at lunch but maybe I'm just sensitive about it. In the evenings it was not a problem nor were mosquitoes so no worries really.
Overall a wonderful camp with wonderful people. As before we met some very interesting and fun people including a mother and two daughters from Australia that we had met previously at Ol Donyo – that was fun!
Bush & Beyond
We were met at the airport by Paul as our driver guide while in Nairobi. Paul was very nice and did a great job shuttling us around the time we spent in the area. Got us to Wilson Airport on time, helped with luggage, etc.
Great people, Hussein our driver, Lynn our guide and of course Jackie who was a lot of fun. Despite having to shuttle us around for almost 4 days Lynn never failed to be there for us and was a wealth of information about Rwanda. She never seemed to grow tired of our endless questions about Rwanda and the people. And then there is Jackie who is a wonderful person. She took us to a great African restaurant in Kigali for the farewell dinner and we had a really fun evening with her and Lynn. Can't say enough about Jackie – a very warm and friendly person. She thought very highly of you as well.
And Rwanda – what a spectacular country and people. After all they have been through it seems to be (from our limited experience) to be a model for recovery. We were amazed by the cleanliness of Kigali and respect of the people. In the countryside the kids were just amazingly friendly (and very cute). Of course little kids are the same the world over – their innocence and beauty but there was something a little special here – maybe it was the cheery "good morning" or "allo" in their French accented English or… what I don't know but they certainly had a big impact on our visit.
One big difference between our trip to Botswana 5 years ago and this one to East Africa was that we were travelling alone. Last time we travelled with relatives (always tricky at best) but this time it was just the two of us and the difference in meeting interesting and compelling people was profound. There are so many things to remember about this trip but the people we met are probably one of the fringe benefits and some of them may actually become friends – long distance anyway.
I could probably go on and on but I must get some work done so will stop here. Overall the trip arrangements were impeccable, everything happened as promised or arranged, the people were great and we can't wait to return to Africa.
And I'm 100% certain we will use Eyes on Africa again. And recommend it to others.
K & M Reynolds - May 2011
We made it home last night to a house full of company and if I didn't have the excitement of the adventure to share with them I would have nodded off in a corner somewhere. Nicky... it was so far beyond words, the entire experience! You organized everything so perfectly, I would never have anyone think of doing this trip without you in the drivers seat. We were met at the airport by a wonderful gentleman whom of course I can't remember his name but he was totally sweet and had a sign and took us to Federal Air to show us where we would go the next day, sorted out times for our flight, the shuttles and everything else. We were already exhausted from the ten days in England and no sleep on the overnight flight and as groggy as one could possibly be so it was wonderful that we could just kind of sit back and have him inform us of who what where and when. The shuttle was easy, the Peermont was incredibly magnificent, our room perfect in every way, the casino interesting although sleep seemed more important than spending $50. at that time. The people there were so kind and sweet. In the evening we shuttled back to the airport just to look around at the shops and stuff before bed. In the morning we made it to Federal Air with time to spare and their curtious friendly staff took complete care of us and shuttled us onto their hanger (which is no less than incredible with the decorating, the complimentary food and drinks and again, the smiling friendly faces where ever you looked. Upon arrival at the neighbouring airstrip (Elephant Plain's strip was down for repairs) our ranger Richard whom we instantly bonded with, picked us up in his bosses air conditioned very nice car so we wouldn't be too warm on the 10 or 15 minute drive to the Lodge, again, so thoughtful. Along the way just to the camp we saw 4 out of the 5 big 5! Elephant Plains was such a class act, meeting us with wine and a moist and warm facecloth. We were shown around and met (yet again) smiling and friendly faces and were taken to our exquisit "cabin". It was so beautiful and the views were breath taking. The meals were way past amazing as was the entire atmosphere. The chef came and spoke to us about likes and dislikes (imagine that!). We asked if we would be tasting any of the local game and she told us unfortunately no, but two days later she gave us a big smile and told us she had tracked down some kudu and some elan meat and I know she did this just for us. On our drives we were able to take photos like I had not ever expected. Elephants came right up to the vehicle and sniffed us all – that was exciting and terrifying both at the same time!!! Three (aged 15ish) young bulls wrapped trucks and tusks and played right in front of us for about an hour, it was incredible and so funny to watch because they were slipping in the mud and just having so much fun at the water hole. In one photo of them playing in the photo there was also a cape buffalo bull and a hippo in the background. I video'd a leopard stalk two impala's, crouching and just like my cat with a mouse, made himself invisible within the grasses then pounced and caught one of them (and when that happened we could not see the kill, just heard the thump and saw the second one run away) so I didn't even have to watch something die but still held the excitement of the chase and on video too! We watched a mother lion and her four little month-to-six week old cubs playing on several occations and at both camps. It was difficult to say good bye to everyone, it felt like friends and everyone came up to us on the day we were to leave and spoke to us on a personal level, it was so memory filled and we loved Elephant Plains and everyone that worked there. Richard especially will visit us one day, he's never been to Canada and he would be welcomed to stay with us whenever he could make it. There was a National Geographic freelance photographer that rode with us for a day and did some shots around camp for their website and we signed papers because he is using us in some for the website. Turns out his brother is a doctor in Canada and lives about 100 km from us so we'll be going out to dinner with him this month sometime... such a tiny world!
We were picked up by a friendly driver and he was from the area so the 2 1/2 hour drive was quite informative regarding every question we asked about. Upon arrival at MalaMala we went into the office to register and the man – of course friendly and smiling, obviously a pattern going on here amoung South Africans we have decided – the clerk told us there was a flag on our name and the manager would come and speak to us. Terror kind of began to creep into our thoughts then Anthony arrived and said he had a surprise for us, a complimentary upgrade to Rattrays on MalaMala. A driver took us the extra 10 minute drive and we were completely blown away! The khaya was, along with the entire camp, absolutely ridiculously dripping with luxury, I mean totally first class with everything. Our guide, Dean, also guided Jim (your husband??). Again tiny world! They told us we were in for another 'little' surprise, high tea at 3, which meant a couple of table fulls of thee most amazing food selections, probably a dozen at the least, we had ever seen. That whole trip was beyond words. You couldn't blink and someone was there to see how they could help. Fresh fruit platters were constantly being delivered, the staff –again, amazingly friendly and kind and sweet. The animals we saw there was without a doubt beyond the most vivid imagination. There was a young female leopard who on two occations sat on a tree branch not 5 feet from our vehicle and posed until we either ran out of memory or battery. AquaVision was there filming for Rattrays new video and we're in that one too for the website. That place was so decadent that Sean Connery even stayed there once.
Everyone at both camps were aware of Eyes On Africa and spoke of your company with great respect. Nicky Bart and I have more than a lifetime of perfect memories from our safari's and I can't imagine having a trip such as this without anyone going through you. I handed out some cards actually, some to the couple whom we shared MalaMala with and they are from Chicago as well, and will next time book through you as well. I just can't tell you how grateful we are and there are no words at all that can express how happy we are, right down to the airport shopping and leaving our bag there til we returned. You did a simply fabulous job and went totally beyond our expectations. I get goose bumps just thinking about it all. Once I sort my million photos I will forward some to you. From the bottom of our hearts we truly thank you so very much for making our safari's an adventure of a lifetime that will never be forgotten. You are first class Nicky and if we can ever swing another trip we will undoubtably book again through you. I am so in love with your country and the people there. One worker there, after a hug goodbye told me that my feet will take me from Africa but my heart will bring me back and I so believe her! I told Dean I wanted to apply for refugee statis and never leave but he wouldn't look into the necessary paperwork so... I am home again for now, but I will send many people to you because of your excellence.
Beyond words Nicky, we thank you for this first class adventure.
We had a fabulous time on the trip! The game viewing was incredible-leopards, large prides of lions and herds of buffalo, baby elephants, lions and leopards on kills, lions mating, and even a crock taking a warthog from the banks of the river-although we pretty much just herd the squeal and saw the splash as it was pulled in.
Kaingo and the tented camps were all wonderful with excellent staff. The only thing we decided is that we much prefer the tented and smaller camps verses a lodge based camp like Mufwe. It was a beautiful lodge just too many people and not as personalized like the other camps. I've never really tried a lodge before so it is good to know my preferences for future trips now. We did get our best leopard viewing there which more than made up for the crowds.
I'll definitely e-mail you some of my pictures. I went a little crazy on the picture taking as I have 2000 photos to review and edit now. May be a couple weeks before I get those to you as I need to spend some time sorting out the best. Anyway, I just want to thank you for all your work on the trip. It was an incredible experience for all of us and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!
C Piette - October 2010
My family and I recently returned from a trip to Botswana, via Capetown, South Africa.
I cannot thank Pamela and the Eyes on Africa team for helping us to organize this vacation.
I was nervous because our adult sons were accompanying us and I am always unsure if they will be fully satisfied with a trip for the "old folks".
Elephant at camp
Zebra's at camp
But the recommendations made by Pamela were perfect. In Capetown we stayed by the waterfront, which was a beautiful and very entertaining area- close enough to get to the football stadium and watch a local match in the new gorgeous digs and also convenient to a trip to Robben Island Museum.
When we got to Johannesburg and later to Botswana we were escorted by Sunways Tours which was just the perfect level of activity, and not too fussy for my young men.
Botswana and the wildlife were unforgettable and we have enclosed pictures to give just a mere taste of how fabulous a safari in Botswana is.
Sunset at camp
Giraffe's at the watering hole
Elephants at sunset
I know there are many other places to view game in Africa, but I could not imagine having a more exciting and adventurous experience.
Thanks again for making this our most memorable family vacation...
A Laufer - August/September 2010
OK, so imagine this scenario:
Your tiny, 12-person prop plane has just landed on a dusty, gravelly airstrip in the middle of nowhere. Minutes before landing, your pilot says to you, "We better not overshoot this, or we'll be landing in Zimbabwe!" Hahaha. Ha? And why are you sitting so close to the pilot anyway, close enough that he's cracking jokes when he should be trying to navigate a safe landing? "What is going on?" you think. Maybe it's the jet lag—you just arrived at JNB last night—but this whole scenario seems like a dream. And is that an elephant next to the runway?
Just another aircraft landing at Pafuri.
After a stop at the main Pafuri Camp, you, your two armed guides and a couple of other guests head out on your first trail hike en route to your camp. Your guides are super-knowledgeable, warm-hearted and hilarious, but you don't know that yet. At this point, you're thinking, "Why are these strangers carrying 20 bullets on their belts and leading me (further) into the middle of nowhere?"
Now imagine yourself watching with suspicion when, one hour into that first trail hike, one of the guides scales part of a small cliff to get a better look at an interesting plant. "ROAAAAARRRRR!" says a healthily large lioness, who had been sleeping somewhere up on that cliff. She leaps off the cliff, lands right in front of you, causing the remaining guide on the ground to raise his rifle right at her and aim. Luckily, she decides not to charge at the group, and instead darts off in the opposite direction. "That's why I like botany," says your guide with a deep breath as he lowers his rifle and tries to get his heart rate back down.
Just another trail hike at Pafuri.
Imagine it's a day later. You and your guides and tourists have bonded and are having a jolly old time as you prepare for dinner after a long but thrilling day of walking and seeing wildlife. The sun sets quickly in the Makulele Concession, and before you know it, it's pitch black outside. You're brushing your hair around the campfire when your fellow camper cries, "I just saw two pairs of eyes just behind that tent!" One of your guides shines their super-powered flashlight in that direction, and lo and behold, it's a pair of adolescent lions. Close by. Right on the fringe of camp. And your dad is taking a bucket shower in an isolated area about 50 feet away from them.
"Everyone, get in the car!" your guide urgently whispers to everyone around the campfire. "David, get out of the shower! Now!" he whispers in that direction. Luckily, he was almost done and dressed and was able to get to the car quickly. Then, you think your guide is going to drive you to some kind of safe place—lions are scary!—but, no. Your pulse quickens when you're driven CLOSER to the lions, so, as your guide says, "we can have a good look." Lesson learned: Lions=not a threat to humans in a Land Rover.
Just another night at Pafuri bush camp.
Leopard at camp
Leopard with cub at MalaMala
First of all, I supremely apologize for the tardiness of this e-mail. I suppose it was one of those things where I kept putting it off, because to write up a recap of everything would mean that the trip was really over, you know?
So, having said that, yes, this was the absolute best vacation ever. I would only not say "trip of a lifetime," because I'm only 27 and plan on going back to Africa many, many more times. :D
But whatever I do after this, this trip will be hard to beat! Thanks to you, Nicky, we saw everything we wanted to see in South Africa—and more! Everything ran super smoothly and it was such a relief to have all our ground transport prearranged., especially when we were jetlagged and out of it.
And so, yes, we started out with probably the most hardcore part of our trip, the Pafuri walking trail, as sketched out above. It was a pretty incredible, unique experience and one I'll never forget. The morning we left Pafuri, I was a little sad. Obviously I was excited for the rest of the trip, but the Pafuri experience was really special and I loved our guides and the two other guests. Had I known, though, what I was about to get into at MalaMala, I would have been eager to get there.
My dad and I were feeling pretty rugged and awesome when we came to MalaMala—like, oh, whatever, you have this fancy lodge and a fleet of Land Rovers, but let me tell you how fantastic it was when our walking tour almost got stampeded by a breeding herd of ellies (because p.s. by now we were super cool and had adopted the local terminology "ellies" for elephants, "binos" for binoculars and "ZEH-bra" in lieu of "ZEE-bra").
OK, basically, we were about to get our swagger handed back to us. MalaMala. Is. Unreal. The hut we stayed in was glorious—two full bathrooms, a perfect view of grazing antelope—what's not to love? The service was phenomenal, the food great, etc—but what was truly outstanding was the wildlife viewing. Out of this world. We saw at least two complete revolutions of the Big Five during our three nights there, plus other cool guys like giraffe, zebras, hyenas, warthogs, cervals, klipspringers, eagles and a big fat hippo. But I think the fates really aligned because our guide's specialty and passion was leopards, which are my fave, too. So, we caught the first public glimpse of one female leopard's 3-week-old cub. Absolutely adorable.
From there, it was on to "civilization" and our Cape Town stay, which was also pretty wonderful. Staying at the Cape Riviera guest house was perfect for us—comfortable, centrally located and run by a very engaging proprietor. We adapted moderately fast to driving on the other side of the road in our rental car, and drove all over the region, from checking out the baboons at Cape Point to the penguins at Boulders Beach, to the Spier vineyard in Stellenbosch (recommended by one of our guides because it's the only vineyard with eagle and cheetah reserves attached). We went on a lovely hike down Table Mountain, learned about South Africa's history at Robben Island and explored the unique plants at the Kirstenbosch garden. A surprise hit was the World of Birds—which, as you might expect, is home to wonderful birds, but also an extremely fun "monkey jungle" where squirrel monkeys walk all over you. If you're into that sort of thing. Which we were. Finally, a visit to the DeWildt Cheetah Center on our last day before flying back to the U.S. from Johannesburg was the perfect way to cap off our trip. The center's King and regular cheetahs are fantastic, and they even have a bunch of spastic yet cool wild dogs. I was very sad later that day when we had to leave South Africa!
So, as I get accustomed back to the cubicle life here in Chicago, I'm thinking of how to incorporate my trip in my regular life. First, yes, I bought one of those five-foot tall wooden giraffes that all the tourists buy. And now it's in my apartment and is a daily reminder of my trip (and of the difficulty carting it back on two trans-continental flights).
Overall, I give this trip an A+ and two resounding thumbs up.
Thank you very, very much!
A Alexovich- August 2010
P.S. Thank you SO much for the MalaMala photography books! They are beautiful and we love having them around to remind us of our awesome trip.
Hope this doesn't overwhelm your inbox! But with you leaving soon, we wanted to show you what wonders we saw on this trip. I have to post some to the Djuma site, as well. As we mentioned before, we loved Djuma Vuyatela. The staff, the setting, the food and drink, the intriguing and unusual decor--everything was marvelous. The night we arrived, a pride of five lions (a mother with two young adult males and two young adult females pictured below) took down a buffalo and her calf just outside the perimeter of the lodge--actually within our sight, although it was too dark to see details of the kill. The guides did get us out that night with the vehicles and we saw the lions up close working on the carcasses. The next morning, the hyenas had moved in (one picture below) and a leopard had grabbed a leg and gone off in the nearby bushes (the fifth picture below). During that day and the next, we really saw how life works for animals in the bush, as the buffalo herd came to stand quietly around the carcass, then left before more hyenas and the vultures moved in. By the second morning, the 2,000-pound mother buffalo was reduced to horns and a tattered rib cage (all trace of the calf was gone by the first morning).
We also saw more serene sights--giraffes, zebras, impala and wildebeests, lots of elephants, great African skies--just an amazing experience. Matthew enjoyed himself very much and took some good pictures of his own.
Rovos also was great--only disappointment is that we arrived in Cape Town by bus after an accident ahead on the tracks forced the train to stop a few hours to the north, so we missed some of the scenery east and north of the Cape. Cape Town, as promised, was fantastic.
We had a few bumps in the road, some literally, in Swaziland (one caused a flat tire), but that was mainly because Amanda's agenda for us changed a lot after we had already set the trip plans. As it turned out, she wanted us to meet a lot of people she had met and visit a lot of community areas, and we would have been better off staying closer to Mbabane and Manzini and skipping the overnights at Maguga. We did a lot of driving that we could have avoided. If you are doing any Swaziland plans for anyone in the future, we'll be glad to pass along some on-the-ground tips. The week in Swaziland was a great success, regardless. We met some amazing people. It's a beautiful country, as well.
I'll also send a number of people-and-place pictures. Sorry it took so long to do this, but we've been very busy since we got back. I should have just done this right away!
Amanda has adjusted to being back on her homestead (although unfortunately her computer was stolen shortly after she returned) and has a lot of plans for projects during her second year.
We hope you have a very good trip of your own. Is this strictly a working trip, or are you taking your son?
Thank you for all your help! It was an unbelievable experience.
K Rothe - August 2010
Thank you so very much for putting together such a wonderful trip. Our time in South Africa was amazing. Mala Mala had to have been the highlight. Saw all big 5 and I was fortunate enough to spot male lions one morning before our ranger! The weather was fabulous... especially Cape Town. Sunny and high sixty's everyday. Our hike up Table Mountain was breathtaking.... and took my breath away. I think I lost all the weight I gained at Mala Mala in one day! Rocktail Beach was terrific. High 70's water was lovely to play in. Pristine beach with no one around... it was great to start off our trip in a nice relaxed atmosphere. Durban was organized and fun. The US could learn something from their organization of getting 66K people in and out without difficulty.
Four Rosemead was lovely as well.
South African beach
Giraffe's at camp
Cape Town, South Africa
We were saying that this was one of the best vacations we had ever taken. Thank you so very much for putting together such a wonderful time.
Well, Carol, Camille and I are back from our trip to Africa.
We left Denver on May 19 and returned June 3, 2010 and we could not have experienced a better organized and fulfilling trip. Our accommodations and travel connections you and Eyes of Africa arranged were terrific. Stanley Lodge in Livingston, Zambia was a wonderful surprise. The Ladies and I were treated to outstanding cabins and exceptional service and food.
At the camps in Botswana, Leballa and Kwara, we were extremely well treated by very competent staff and guides and the food and tents were excellent. We were even treated to an impromptu concert by the Leballa staff on our last night, enjoying their traditional Setswana songs and dancing. The host of the camp is Charles, who does an outstanding job and who I experienced as my guide on my previous visit a few years ago. Both camps treated us to memorable game drives where we saw a whole range of exotic wildlife.
Arriving in Cape Town, we extremely impressed with The Radisson Blu and really appreciate your selection and guidance in choosing our hotel. I will definitely arrange to stay there again should I re-visit Cape Town.
All in all, we had the most memorable and enjoyable trip to Africa, great game viewing, and outstanding accommodations and meals. We also had the most beautiful weather for the entire trip (and I think you may have had a hand in that as well).
Please accept our thanks for an outstanding job done by you and the Eyes On Africa staff. I will be glad to have you post this testimonial on your website and let many people know of your fine service.
Many thanks fro Carol Mielke, Camille Tanzella and me.
Denver, Colorado - June 2010
Thanks for the welcoming email. We had a fantastic trip to Africa. It was all that we had hoped for and more. Everything went according to plan and Chris and I had no problems at all along the way. The flights between camps in the small propeller airplanes were amazing; the view from the windows spectacular. Where do I start -
Chitabe camp was a wonderful place. We loved the people - they were really a fun group and always made us feel at home. Gordy was our guide and really had his hands full with all of the water and the sometimes bad conditions that were faced while on our game drives. It was all good though; Chris and I weren't bothered by the conditions at all and really had fantastic weather during our entire trip. We were just happy to be in Africa. It was an amazing time at this camp and we had several opportunities to observe Giraffe, Zebra, Lions, and Elephant. We were hoping to see the Wild Dogs, but it was not meant to be. Along with all of our great experiences here, we were able to participate in the traditional dinner one evening, and it was lots of fun. All in all, our stay at this camp was great. The staff were very friendly and we enjoyed ourselves immensely.
Little Vumbura was just as you had expressed, a unique experience that we are glad we kept on our itinerary. The boat ride into camp was beyond words. The lilly pads and day lillys were so beautiful - we loved this place from the start. Raine did an awesome job as our guide and really went above and beyond to make the safari a great adventure. He would take us off-road and track the wildlife - it was amazing to watch. The highlights of our stay were the sightings of the Martial Eagle and the rare chance to observe a herd of Sable. Both were very exciting and we felt very lucky to have been given the chance to spend time with these amazing creatures. Our stay here was fantastic.
Leopard sighting at Savuti Camp
Duba Plains was above and beyond our favorite camp. The "close to nature" vibe of this camp captured our hearts immediately. We agreed that this was a place that we would find our way back to someday. It was amazing. James 007 was our guide and we loved him from the start. It was an absolute pleasure to spend our time with him and we thoroughly enjoyed his company while on our many adventures here. The sightings of the Lions were exceptional and we were given the awesome opportunity to witness them swimming through the marshland waters. Chris and I had heard that these Lions were known to swim, but we never thought we would ever get the chance to see it firsthand. It was incredible. We were not able to see if these Lions made a kill, because we were to fly out earlier than expected. I still regret that we didn't stay another day at Duba Plains. The additional encounters in camp really made for an exciting stay. Both nights while walking back to the tent, following dinner, we came across a lone Hyena. It was surprising how big this guy was - we were really amazed. Another day, during the afternoon, a Bull Elephant walked right out of the brush and straight toward the porch of our tent. Chris and I sat and watched him until he moved on. We couldn't help but smile at each other following that encounter - it was really special. The whole experience of this camp was fantastic and we enjoyed it very much.
Savute Camp was another amazing place that we found to be wonderful in every sense. From the accommodations to the surrounding reserve and its wildlife, Savute offered a fantastic adventure that we will always remember. Goodman was our guide during our stay and really made an impression with his passion for conservation and the wildlife. I can't help thinking that if there were more men who felt like him, the wildlife of this continent would have a fighting chance against the odds that face them. It was a unique experience all around. The 2 most memorable sightings were the Bull Elephants that walked straight toward our jeep and surrounded us with their awesome presence. It was Chris' favorite encounter and really made for a fantastic moment in time with these creatures. The second was our sighting of the female Leopard on our final game drive of our stay. It was amazing to share space with this spectacular cat and even more special to be granted the brief moments that we were and capture her in photos. Later on in the evening, we watched this beautiful Leopard kill a male Impala. It was a spectacular sighting. Chris and I enjoyed ourselves immensely at this camp. It was an unforgettable experience.
Again, thank you for making this happen for us and having the patience to work out an itinerary that we could manage. It was a great pleasure to work with you and I hope we can plan out many adventures for the future. We are already looking for a time when we can get back and see more of this great continent. Thanks again - we very much appreciate all the insight and experience you have offered in the planning of this trip.
C & D Kennedy - April/May 2010
I feel terrible for not getting back sooner to you. We
thrown right back into life as soon as we returned. Let me first
that we are forever changed from the epic vacation that you planned
us! I can't describe in words what sorts of emotions were
throughout those two weeks. We can not wait to go back! I know
fully understand what I am talking about! Hands down, best trip
You did such a marvelous job at making our journey effortless
magnificent. My husband was in utter shock! He really wasn't aware
what the trip was going to entail. He thought "tents" equalled cots
buckets. Hahahha! Boy was he wrong. Wilderness safaris was
amazing, from the accomodations, the food, and especially the people.
I honestly can't pick a
favorite camp. They were all so unique and
perfect in their own way. I can
tell you that Goodman, our guide at
savuti was truly a special soul. The
staff at little vumbura were also
truly sincere. One and Adelaide were
awesome. Now Mombo was clearly
the cream of the crop buuuut I still liked
the other camps just as
much. We also got very lucky in meeting what now
friends. This couple who are tripple our age almost were with
toka leya and had the exact itinerary except mombo. We all fell
love and plan to visit them in Maine! It was quite funny bc we were
youngest people throughout the whole trip. We could tell that some
staff quite enjoyed us bc they could relax more and let loose
with us. I on
the other hand was not relaxed the whole time..... Talk
rush.! Between jumping into a gorge and being charged
by an elephant and
sitting co pilot status in the four seater, I think
I have concured all my
fears. I never thought I would have been so
nervous around the animals but I
tell ya, those elephants scared the
daylights out of me. I thought they were
gentle giants, but I quickly
learned the truth. Amazing animals no doubt but
a force not to be
reckoned with. I also discovered my favorite creature.....
I'm about the only person who finds them cute! I just love the
they trot. I've heard they are tasty as well! You didn't warn me
it's standard to pack on about 5 lbs while being on safari. I over
and drank so badly. Hahah. It was great! Seriously Vanessa, we can
thank you enough for being the best travel agent ever!
LNP - March 2010
Good morning Travel Guru!
Well, this trip was as amazing an adventure as the first trip!
How about 5 different leopards ( including 1 cub and both Maru and Pula), the Big 5 in one day; 3 lionesses, 2 cubs and a large, very dead kudu; lion cubs fighting over the prime spots to nurse; large herd of African Buffalo; a hyena and a leopard hanging out together under the same bush ( go figure); and major drama between 5 hyenas, a momma leopard, her cub and a dead impala - new definition to "feeding frenzy"!
Savuti is a different camp now with all the water - I brought a couple of pictures with me to compare. The other guests were shocked at the difference 2 years made.
I make a point of dropping your name everywhere I go - be glad to know everyone loves you and makes me look important!
Kane, Rain and Simon for guides - each one as talented as the others.
Food, as always, was yummy!
I'll send along a couple of pictures in the next few days.
I'm thinking about expanding my horizons for March 2012 to include Namibia.
K and C
PS Little Vumbura was fantastic! And loved Les Cascades - amazing location and the view is unsurpassed! Everything went smoothly in Gabs (don't I sound like the seasoned traveller?) Thoroughly enjoyed our day at the school and seeing Botswana's capital city was very interesting.
Nicky and James,
Where do we start to talk about the most exciting and rewarding travel of our lifetime? I guess it all starts with the Eyes on Africa team. Being our first trip to Africa, we had so many concerns and questions in the planning stage. You and your team demonstrated the kind of world-class service that one would expect at a Four Seasons or Nordstrom's by thoughtfully answering all our questions backed by your considerable insights. Your savvy recommendation to visit Botswana was not our first choice (of course we thought we wanted Kenya/Tanzania being the brainwashed Nat Geo channel tourists we were) but what we experienced there so far exceeded our expectations that all we can think about now is "when are we going back?".
Father and son
Wild dogs playing
Elephants at the camp
Lions and Zebra's
No detail was missed in the execution of the trip from the timely communication of our itinerary, to the multiple air logistics (some 38 hours of actual flight time and 11 legs) to making sure that we got the best guides for our more intensive photography needs. The camps (Kalahari Plains, Little Vumbura and Savuti) were uniformly excellent in both food and service. The "we can do that" attitude of the camp staff was felt by both of us in this father/son trip of a lifetime.
Leopard in a tree
Lions drinking water
Leopard drinking water
What Botswana had to offer us was way above and beyond our expectations. We saw four different leopards, drinking lions, baby elephants, a drinking honey badger sighting, African wild dogs hunting and close to 3 hours following a young female leopard as she hunted in the trees and on the ground. Of course, along the way we saw zebra, elephant, giraffe, fish eagle, goshawks, fighting hippos and fleeing impala. The images we brought back tell the story of a pristine habitat where you can get very close to the animals in their natural setting. We saw so few other people on our game drives, we felt like Botswana was ours for the taking. Over a three-day period in Deception Valley (CKGR) we only saw one ranger truck and a Swiss couple camping by Sunday Pan…that was it in terms of other people.
Now a word on getting us ready for taking pictures in Botswana - - James, ever patient and passionate, took no less than four calls with us as we dissected every little detail of what was needed for two traveling photographers. From bodies to lenses to in-vehicle technique to backing up your photos, James got us ready to rumble. We took over 6000 images between the two of us and based on the feedback we are getting on the work, we give lots of credit to James for making it happen. Any keen photographer will learn much from James as they prepare for their safari.
So here is our bottom-line: Yes we are going to return to Africa and do it with your team; Yes we have already recommended you to friends planning their 10th wedding anniversary. We know and trust that the Eyes on Africa team will deliver for us and our friends.
All the best and "Till Next Time"…
S & E Lumpkin
Spring Hill, KS and Seattle, WA
- January 2010
We had just a fantastic time on our safari. I can't thank you, Eyes on Africa, and Wilderness Safari's enough.......the experience was everything we had hoped for and more! The flight connections went very smooth, all the staff members and guides were great(professional and so friendly we never wanted to leave....there wasn't one detail they overlooked to make us feel special). All three camps..... Little Vumbura, Chitabe, and Toka Leya were beautiful. I certainly won't hesitate to recommend Eyes on Africa or Wilderness Safari's to anyone interested in travels to Africa & I'm sure you'll hear from us in the future because we will definatly be back!
Thanks again Pam.
R Zalucki - 2009
Dear Pam - here is what I have sent to friends and family...
Africa captured my heart in 2005 when I went to Kenya and Tanzania. Then in 2007, Patrick joined the Circle of Trust and there was 4 of us that traveled to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Then with the help of Pamela Langhoff from Eyes on Africa, we booked a 4-camp safari to Botswana. It was the ultimate African safari! I would highly recommend this trip to anyone wishing to experience a real African Safari.
Upon the arrival at our first camp in Botswana we could tell that this was an unspoiled wilderness and we knew we were in for a real adventure. Botswana is famous for the Okavango Delta wetlands and we were here to experience both water and land. Botswana is one of the world's most thinly populated countries that became independent in 1966. It has seen remarkable growth in all sectors of the economy, including tourism, conservation and wildlife management. It is a very stable Country. Botswana is a landlocked country, just a bit smaller than Texas. It is bordered by Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia. The Kalahari Desert, the largest continuous stretch of sand in the world, covers 84% of Botswana.
To reach our destination we traveled by Delta airlines from Sacramento to Atlanta and then onto Johannesburg direct, taking about 16 hours. We spent two nights in Jo'burg, as it is known, and then we boarded Air Botswana for the 2 hour trip to Maun. Once in Maun we met the Wilderness Safari representative who weighed our luggage (you are only allowed 44 pounds a piece) before we boarded our light aircraft transfer to our first camp.
All four camps had some common denominators. There were morning and evening game drives. We were awakened at 5:30 am and given 30 minutes to dress. Since it was dark at 6:00 am and the animals sometimes came into the camps, you were required to wait till your guide came to escort you to breakfast. A quick breakfast of warm porridge, cereal, yogurt, toast and muffins were served. We would quickly eat and then off we would go on our game drive. The animals are most active in the early hours of the day. The jeep is open and we never had more than 6 in the jeep. (We usually had the jeep to ourselves.) The game drives would last until 11:00 or 11:30 am depending on if there was something of interest that kept us out longer
Brunch was then served which was lovely. You could always order eggs and there was a variety of choices including pastas, meat dishes, vegetables, rice, and salads. The bread was homemade and warm. One time it was made into the shape of an alligator. They really do a wonderful job with the food. After brunch, you had free time until afternoon tea at 3:00 or 3:30pm. (Your free time is when you showered and took a nap, read, or enjoyed the camp.)
The afternoon game drive usually started around 4:00-4:30 pm and you arrived back after dark around 7:30 pm. During this game drive you always had sundowners. The guide would find a place that you could stretch your legs and he would get out a snack and your choice of drinks.....we enjoyed a bottle of wine as we watched the sunset each night in the bush. Driving back we looked for nocturnal animals. Dinner was at 8:00 pm. Usually we started with drinks around the fire and then dining by candlelight. Each camp had one dinner in their boma with a cultural experience put on by the employees which were made up of the people from the villages of Botswana. We loved the singing and dancing that was performed for us. With a big full African moon, these evenings were really fun!
Here are some of our favorite experiences at each camp:
Savuti Camp is a beautiful camp with each tented room raised up on wooden decks. We overlooked water and could watch hippo and elephants crossing from our room. This camp had 8 tented rooms and is built on an island in the Okavango Delta. These tents are quite beautiful and comfortable...but our main reason for coming was the game. We came for the adventure and we had one at Savuti. One day we came across a leopard stalking a kudu. It was a young leopard and leaped too soon, so of course the kudu got away. He looked rather disgusted with himself and went around sniffing the ground, savoring the scent of the food that might have been. Then he laid down. Our guide drove over nearby so we could get some good pictures. After watching him for awhile, the jeep would not start. Now we are looking at a leopard that we know is hungry and we are laughing that maybe we might be his lunch. Of course we knew as long as we were in the jeep we were safe, but it was a funny situation to be in. The leopard actually tired of us and wandered off, just in time for a back-up jeep to arrive and jump start us. It's adventures like this that make a safari exciting.
Chitabe Camp has 8 tented rooms built on an island in the Okavango Delta. It was beautifully decorated and we were lucky enough to meet the owners and their daughter. The gaming highlights started happening as soon as we arrived as there was an elephant in the camp eating a tree by the deck. That same elephant ate the tree outside our tent that night. P. slept right through it. I will never complain about snoring again after experiencing that! :) We also loved seeing young giraffes in a group that our guide called a nursery; a leopard stalking an impala; and two very fat male lions! There were many other sightings but these were my favorite.
Little Vumbura Camp has 6 tented rooms and land and water activities. We took Mekoros (dugout canoes) to go through the flood plains as well as a speed boat to cruise the Delta waters. Our favorite is still the jeeps traveling across land and water to get up close and personal with the game! There were lots of elephants here. I enjoyed watching them taking a mud bath. A real highlight was 10 wild dogs and a hyena teasing a crocodile in the water. Then the dogs took off after an impala. The chase was on, and the impala escaped with a jump that had her hanging in mid air....it was incredible and happened right in front of our jeep. I missed the shot but I will have that picture in my mind forever. We also had a close encounter with an elephant that was walking on the road. We stopped the jeep and she had her baby close by. She came to the front of the jeep and stared at us. Then she came around to the side and stared at the guys. No one moved, we just stared back. We called it the elephant stare down. I started to take a picture but she shook her head. We all sat still till she walked away. It was remarkable. She was very aware of us in the jeep. Our guide said we handled it perfectly.....we stared her down! :) A sighting of the bat-eared fox was a first for us here.
Duba Plains Camp is the most remote camp and for us it had a true African feel about it. You come to this for the interaction of the lions and the Cape Buffalo. We were not disappointed. The first game drive we saw lions finishing off their morning kill. It was odd watching them eat....it was even more odd when we decided to have our sundowner there so we could continue to watch. While we drank wine, they finished off the buffalo. Little did we know the adventure had just begun. While driving back to the camp driving through flooded plains, our jeep got stuck in the mud. By now, it was dark and the moon was not full anymore...in fact there was no moon. Our guide got out of the jeep and started jacking up the jeep to insert something under the wheels. It wasn't working....he called for backup and another jeep in the area came to our aide. The two guides managed to get the jeep out of the mud. Just as our guide jumped in the jeep the other guide yelled here come the lions.....we thought he was joking. We turned around and there were 2 female lions walking toward the jeeps with the spotlight on them. They passed right by us and took a drink from where we had been stuck and then went on their way. It was like something out of a movie....a real African experience. I have to admit, I was a bit scared but that didn't stop me from trying to get the shot with my camera; but it was too dark. Duba did not fail us, we got to experience a kill with a pride of lions taking down a buffalo. It was an amazing sight to watch how the lions worked their plan and how the buffalo tried to stop it. That was a real highlight to see that interaction. I think there were 9 lions You can never capture the experiences completely with your camera. I made an attempt.
M. Marlette, California - August 2009
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