BEST African Safaris 2018/9
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We had an excellent trip and part of the reason it went so well was because of Mark at Taga Safaris.
We saw lots of animals, we stayed at terrific lodges, and organizing the trip was quick and easy. Wildlife – we saw everything that we wanted to, including a pride of 11 lions. We even saw some elephants in camp! Scenery – the land and weather were great. Between the animals and the landscape, I ended up taking over 3,000 photos over the course of 8 days. Lodges and recommendations – we were very comfortable during our trip. The rooms at the lodges were large and very well maintained, making our stay very enjoyable.
The food was great as well, from breakfast to dinner, as all of the ingredients were fresh. The best part, without question, were the people who worked there – very polite, friendly, and reliable. We had zero problems on the trip. Planning and coordination – when we were planning what we wanted to do, Taga was extremely helpful. We knew we wanted variety on our trip and Mark ensured that we received it. He gave us several different recommendations based on what we wanted to do and we were very glad that we took his advice. Mark was very quick and clear with communication – I was never left waiting for a response to an email wondering what was going on. During our trip, one of our flights was so delayed that we almost missed our connection. Mark was at the airport in Johannesburg, waiting at the check in counter to ensure that we made our flight! He really went above and beyond.
To sum things up, we loved our trip and much of that had to do with having Taga Safaris helping us put it together.
When we return to Africa, we will use Taga.Highly recommended.
Hey Mark!Yes, we have been back already a week and not reported back to you. Shame on us! Part of the reason is my new video camera. We came back with some 1000 still shots, but also with almost 6 hours of video, some of it great, most of it good and some of it shaky. And editing this stuff is a time consuming job. But to give you the short story: we had an excellent absolutely amazing trip. We were also VERY impressed with the build up. Exactly right. Starting off with Chitabe, which offered a wide variety of game, followed by Duba Plains, where we did not have luck with lion-buffalo interaction, but were very impressed with the massive herd of buffalo (2000 or more?). Also they had an incredibly cute litter of lion cubs, of which I have nice video. In addition to that, one evening after dark when crossing a little creek, we surprised a hippo (and he sure surprised us as well), jumping around the car in full panic for a couple of minutes. We were too stunned to take pictures however, and when I finally had the camera up again, he had disappeared in the dark. We had lots of elephants in and around the camp as well.
Then came Jao, our first more watery camp. And what sumptuous accommodation! We loved the mokoro tours, a bit shaky at first but we became more confident after a little bit. Thank goodness no hippo interaction there. “Wilderness Safaris” were on the ball, all representatives showed up on schedule, all reservations for lodges and air were exactly as planned, and they had a couple of unexpected treats for us, like transportation by small helicopter on two stretches. After Jao we still traded up with Vumbura Plains. The atmosphere is somewhat less formal then Jao, which we liked and the accommodations, including the little plunge pool are also tops, as is the food.
And then, last but not least Zarafa. What a charming lodge and special compliments go to the lady chef there. We saw many cats: leopard, serval, caracal, African wildcat and of course lion, and made many many good pictures. And of course literally tons of elephant. But from that point of view the best was still to come. We moved to the Ichobezi boat and thoroughly enjoyed the calm and quiet of the full moon African nights on the Chobe river. The amazing sights of herds of elephant, including babies, frolicking on the banks and even crossing the river, and the amazing sights of a lion stalking a wart hog while we were floating past. Oh, and then the birds! We started keeping track from day one and at the end of the trip we had seen and identified (with the help of the guides, of course) up to 116 species, including 6 different eagles, cranes, storks, 4 different hornbill, and many, many more. Some good pictures, but Luc needs to upgrade his camera. Bird shots are not so easy.
For the last part of our trip, the Victoria falls, we were very happy that you had guided us to the River Club, rather then staying in Livingstone. The falls were nice, but of course in this season there is not much water on the Zambian side. We did however cross the border to Zimbabwe briefly to buy a few billion Zimbabwe currency notes, and to have a look from that side. We can imagine how it would be quite a wet adventure when there is more water. Also excellent food here.
Thank you very much for preparing this excellent schedule and a big thank you also to all the Wilderness guys and gals, who made us feel welcome, prepared all this excellent food and most importantly all our excellent guides, who with enthusiasm shared there extensive knowledge of the local flora and fauna with us. Ah, what more can we say, the safari bug has firmly hooked us. So we will be back soon we hope….
With best regardsGea and Luc Boussauw
Dear CelesteThis has been a long time coming but I just wanted to write and thank you for all your hard work in getting my holiday booked and sorted. I had an amazing time in Pemba, the hotel was gorgeous, well maintained, all the staff were very friendly and helpful and the food was delicious!. I went at the right time for me as I wanted some peace and quiet and the only thing I would change next time is to arrange to go with SAA rather than LAM. I have been busy telling my friends and showing them pictures of my trip and after posting them on Facebook, I have received numerous queries on who I booked with and I have passed on your details.
Thank you again for helping me book such a wonderful holiday and I definitely will be planning on making Pemba a regular annual trip. I have attached a few pictures from my holiday.
All the bestPam Zigomo
Mark and CelesteBotswana was fabulous! Beyond our expectations! Every arrangement, every detail, was in the words of our tracker at Tubu Tree “Super Duper!” I believe we saw every animal we could have seen including seeing wild dogs two days in succession at Chitabe. Among our highlights was a baboon getting into our tent at Duba Plains and pilfering Missy’s warm-up jacket, which was ready for the Salvation Army anyway, and an elephant charging our Land Rover at Tubu Tree. We are most appreciative you booked us only into Wilderness Safari camps. They are a first rate operation and run a very tight ship. At Chitabe we went on a seven hour game drive. When we arrived at a spot on the channel at 12:30 PM another Land Rover arrived within five minutes with a fabulous luncheon spread. We managed to see a cheetah track an impala, a hyena steal an impala carcass from a female leopard and her cub, and a female leopard and her cub chowing down on a kudu. All flights and transfers were right on time. We had a wonderful helicopter transfer from Duba Plains to Tubu Tree and Celeste, you were right, we really liked the Melrose Arch.
Mark, when we got to our hotel in Cape Town we picked up the current issue of what we believe was “Equinox” in our room and read your “profile.” Great advertising! All in all, we had a wonderful trip and want to thank you for your creativity, diligence and care.
All the best, Bill & Missy Levit.
P.S. Mark, we enjoyed meeting your mother and having a chance to see Houghton again. What changes! The Soweto redux was also fascinating.
Hi MarkFirstly let me place on record my appreciation for the fine arrangements you made for us in Zambia. It was exactly 20 years since I last visited Luangwa and staying at the relatively new “Puku Ridge” camp was indeed a unique experience. The luxury camps on either side of the reception/ dining area was in a magnificent setting, in the game reserve and that too in an unprotected area blending well with the surrounding. The staff was super in their professionalism as well as their kind disposition. The food was 5 star + With regard to game viewing I must state, that since I last visited the park I get the impression that the animal population seems to have decreased some what. I hope I am wrong in this assessment. Not withstanding the game viewing was indeed superb.
J.J.Ambani and family
Hi Mark,Many thanks to you for organizing our family’s South African Safari. Everything was smooth from day one – great gameviewing, a great time overall!!! Back to the reality of work and how I wish I was still on safari.
Happy new year! See below our photos We had a great time, the weather was great almost no mosquitos no rain, nice and cool early mornings and evenings. The flight back was direct which was really nice and we realized it was great idea to fly since folks complained about the roads
Dear Celeste and Mark
We would like to thank you for the great holiday we had in Botswana. Your recommendations of the camps were excellent and instrumental. As you know it was the first time we travelled with Wilderness Safaris and they are really outstanding.
Little Vumbura Camp is quite unique with the short boat ride to the camp making it quite special. The staff at LVB was so friendly and we immediately felt home. LVB will always have a special place in our hearts as it was here where we saw for the first time a leopard (see pictured attached). We thought it couldn’t get better than LVB but some guests coming from Chitabe Lediba Camp told us to wait until we stayed at Chitabe Lediba as it was more relaxed. At first we couldn’t understand what they meant but once at Chitabe Lediba we immediately understood.
Chitabe Lediba was indeed more chilled and relaxed with the game drives timing in function of what we saw. At LVB the game drives were very good but quite clinical: always back at 11:00 am on the dot and not one minute late back at our starting point. Our guide Sam at LVB wore a digital watch ringing every hour. The great thing about holidays though is to forget the time. That is also exactly what Phinley our guide at Chitabe Lediba managed to do: he was transporting us in the real magical and beautiful world of Africa. The rooms at Chitabe Lediba are also fantastic in a beautiful setting. We very much enjoyed the traditional evening and both managers of the camp were so good that on our future trips we would go especially to the camps where they are.
The only glitch was our waiting time of more than two hours at Maun airport on our way to the Kalahari.That morning we had a shortened game drive and a hurried lunch so to catch our plane from Chitabe Lediba to the Kalahari. Just before leaving there was even a tribe of lions on the airstrip to wave us good bye but unfortunately we couldn’t stay as our plane had to take us to the Kalahari via Maun. With Chitabe Lediba being the closest camp to Maun we couldn’t understand when arriving at the terminal of Maun airport that we had to wait two hours before our connecting flight to the Kalahari !? We were at the terminal one hour before the arrival time of guests coming from the international flight of Johannesburg! We were told that those were predetermined flight schedules but this doesn’t testify of great planning. When I pointed this out on the phone to Wildenerss Safari they told me I had been informed about this in my Journey Iternary. Well I knew indeed of a departure time from Chitabe and an arrival time in the Kalahari but not of a waiting time of two hours at Maun. So I suggest that in future Wilderness Safari point this out to their guest as guests have no idea about actual flight times.
Some Canadians guests coming from Kwetsani encountered the same long two hours at Maun airport and they were quite upset to see the guests coming from Jo’burg being greeted with towels and water where they were completely ignored during their two hours waiting time. We do understand to maximise the number of people on a flight to the Kalahari but it is quite unfortunate that some have to wait more than two hours at Maun after a shortening game drive and hurried lunch so here we feel there is room for improvement. We thank though the Wilderness Safari ground staff at Maun airport who were quite understanding and very helpful during our two hours waiting time as well as when our flight from Maun to Johannesburg got cancelled after our stay in the Kalahari.
The Kalahari Plains Camp was different and also very nice. Rogers our guide was very good in this more challenging environment and he had an excellent knowledge. All three camps have something special but Chitabe Lediba Camp was truly magical! The food in all three camps was very good and we would even say they are doing miracles! Once again many thanks for organising this unique experience and we are already dreaming of coming back. So many places still to visit and we are very keen to visit other Wilderness Safaris camps.
Kind regardsAndre, Ann and Jessica Van Damme
We had a fantastic trip thanks to you….from beginning to end the accommodations, staff and travel was first class all the wayt! It was so nice to travel and not worry about how or when we would get to our next destination, there was always a note the night before giving us details of pickups and deliveries and to boot they were always right on time. We had so much fun at each stop it was hard to leave, only to find the next destination was just as great.
The Cape Grace was GORGEOUS and the staff was so helpful with anything we wanted to do….from directing us to the bus for a city tour, to dinner reservations and even transporting us to and from city market for shopping. Wine country was beautiful, we were there during christmas eve and christmas day, so it was quiet and peaceful. The hotel was kind enough to arrange a last minute drive to Fairview for a winetasting….the only one we were able to fit in and it was FABULOUS…..I think the cheese was almost superior to the wine!
Of course the safari was the grand finale and we cannot say enough nice things about the staff and accommodations at Exeter River Lodge and Dulini Game Reserve. The guides/trackers were so knowledgable and were so respectful of the wild life, while ensuring we saw EVERYTHING. Each trip out was such an adventure….there was always a story evolving with the wildlife. My husband is not a morning person, but I never heard one complaint about the 5 am wakeup calls to go out for our morning ride. We went hoping to see the big 5 and of course we did, sometimes all in one ride….but there was so much more – the birds are amazing and the flowers (I’m a gardener) growing in the wild were a complete surprise. Some of our favorite encounters: a lion greeting 3 lionness’, seeing a leopard in a tree and a hippo out of the water (they are HUGE).
Our honeymoon was just the best….adventurous, romantic and VERY educational…..Pictures will follow….Jim is still sifting through and trying to cut them down!
We made it back to Atlanta without problems or delays, and then spent a very busy week sorting pictures and preparing the next trip to Costa Rica. We are back there now and enjoying the beginning of the dry season here. Royal Malewane Game Reserve lived up to eveything we remembered and more. The place is fantastic, although the watering hole was not as busy as we had hoped, because they had already enough rain to fill water holes everywhere.
The game drives were evrything they could be though. Our ranger(Ryan) and tracker were both great. The service and food were all impeccable. Because the weather was not to great we transferred to Chitwa Chitwa Game Reserve by car, which was fine. As a lodge, Chitwa does not quite stack up next to Royal Malewane, but we did have a very good time there too, thanks to our ranger Hali. We also were lucky, we watched a young leopard catch a steenbok. Great photo opportunity, and we saw leopard every day, along with the rest of the big five.
Thanks for all your helpLuc and Gea
It was a pleasure to meet you at the Airport and interact with you. I was lucky that Hari put me on to you. We wish to thank you for the excellent arrangements you made for us at Capetown/Kirkmans. We wish to visit Africa again in the next 2 years.
Will keep in touch and thanks once again.
We just returned from 11 wonderful days in South Africa.
Reservations and transport details were expertly arranged by Mark of Taga. When we arrived in Johannesburg after a grueling 15 hour flight from NY, we were greeted by Mark’s smiling face. He proceeded to escort us to our next flight and helped check us in with the gate agent. After another 1 hour flight we were met by Eastgate Transportation Services (arranged by Mark) and expeditiously driven to our first stop. After lunch and time to freshen up we went on our first of 18 game drives. I wanted my wife to experience varying types of accomodations and also different terrains which we accomplished thru the 4 different lodges. All lodges greeted us upon arrival but we acknowledge especially the family owned and run lodges of Kambaku and Nottens. They made our stay exceptional. Bryce and Nicola recently acquired Kambaku and Bryce was our Ranger/Driver and he was exceptional. Nicola greeted us with her daughter after every game drive. Meals were superb and each night we dined under the stars whether in a bush surrounding or in the lodge grounds overlooking over their water hole.
Nottens is run by 4th generation family owners David and Mia. David even drove out one day to meet our game drive and deliver a single late arriving guest so she could experience part of the game drive. Meals were outstanding and arranged every night in a different setting. Both Kambaku and Nottens provide limited electricity in the individual units (great for recharging batteries every night), but night time lighting was by paraffin lamps which added to the ambiance. We quickly learned to lay out our next days clothing the preceding afternoon after lunch. All game drives were exceptional and each lodge provided for different experiences. As advertised Arathusa had the most Leopard sightings but at Kambaku we observed a lioness suckling 2 recent cub arrivals, at Nottens we observed a lion pride hunting, sleeping, and enjoying a meal with their freshly killed Kudu.
We saw at least 3 or 4 of the BigFive every drive and overall experienced the Big Five at every lodge often multiple times. We saw mothers and babies of all the Big Five except the leopard which was a highlight for my wife. All lodges had expert Rangers and Trackers but again we would acknowledge Kambaku and Nottens as the most knowledgeable and personable. We would rank order our overall preferences from top to bottom as Nottens, Kambaku, Arathusa, Kapama Buffalo Camp. We also recommend at least 2 or 3 nights at each lodge, especially 3 at Nottens.
The weather was perfect with cloudless skies except for one morning downpour during our drive at Arathusa. Ponchos were provided but we still got soaked and the hairdryer in our unit came to good use to dry clothing between the drives. We were apprehensive about the overall arrangements and transportation between lodges but Mark had flawlessly booked every detail, he even reached out to phone us at 2 lodges to ascertain if things were up to our expectations. Mark also arranged for a light aircraft flight from Nottens to the local Nelspruit airport for our return flight to JNB.
The only arrangements we made for this trip was our flights to and from NY to JNB and the inter country flights from JNB to the Kruger area (although Mark would have made the latter arrangements if requested).
Mark also greeted us upon our return to Johannesburg. I previously had taken a safari to Kenya and Tanzania arranged thru a Canadian agency. That experience was great and they had a local office in Kenya to arrange details. This time I shopped around on the internet using them and several South African agents to quote and offer suggestions. We are pleased to acknowledge we chose Taga Safaris and highly recommend them to arrange travel arrangements in South Africa.
We believe it is wise to choose a local agent to facilitate any minor issues which Mark did to our complete satisfaction.Taga Safaris was also a very cost effective solution to our needs. It is now time to sort thru our almost 6000 photos and 300 short videos. This should keep us busy most of the summer.
Again thanks to Mark and Taga Safaris for our memorable vacation.It took me a year to convince my wife to join me but in the end, she enjoyed every minute of it and agrees it was an experience of her lifetime.
We would recommend Taga Safaris for any South African travel arrangements.
Roger and Mary Jane Mueller (USA)
We have been to Africa with Taga Safaris before, and had a wonderful time.
We take photography pretty seriously i am afraid. We had to come back again. We greatly value the experience and insight of the amazing Mark! He has never let us down. Very few people have been to so many camps and in so many conditions as Mark. Hey!, he lives there! What do you expect. You tell him what you are interested in and he will know where to send you. And how to get you there and back and from camp to camp with reasonable expense. Mark has just been great for us. My wife , Debra and I had the good fortune of booking another safari into Botswanna with Taga Safaris. I have been to Africa several times so I know what it takes to get great images. We toured three camps in Botswanna that were calculated to see inter reactions with lions and buffalo. Boy, did we get lucky!
We had top flight vehicles with really good guides. The food was always better than I can get in California. The vast majority of food was grown in Botswanna and was fresh and picked at the peak of ripeness. We had no problems with food safety, other than that we ate too much ! The lions were paying attention to the buffalos and vice versa. I have a lot more appreciation for Cape Buffalo than I had before this trip. They have to look out for each other, have babies, migrate, defend themselves and be fruitful and multiply under the watchful eye of two prides of lions. Buffalos don’t like lions and lions just love the taste of buffalo burgers ! So this war has been going on for what 32,000 years? We witnessed the buffalo herd dispatch bouncers to move the lions around to buy time while a baby learned to walk ( in under two hours) and then to turn the sorrow of two big bulls, one of which killed the other, to morn, hold thier ground and then when they realized the big one wasn’t going to stand and walk with them again and the newest member of the herd could walk and would have to swim, they retreated with military precision and used the body of their fallen comrade to offer as a “sacrifice” to cover their retreat across the river to better feeding grounds. It was an excellent balancing of needs and making the best of a bad situation. It was brilliant indeed.
The lions , while really wanting buffalo have the greatest respect for the buffalo. Preferring the very young, pregnant or injured or elderly. They pick the easiest and safest. As the buffalo wiegh several times what a lion does, great care must be excercised to avoid injury or death. We watched the tides of buffalo move against the lions and the lions give way with ear layed back, hating every second of retreat. When the buffalo over extended their offence, the lions would regroup and close in and the buffalo beat a hasty retreat to the safety of the herd. On and on it went. Excellent photography to document these everyday, but life giving or taking decisions by different species often with split second timing When the buffalos pressed down on the lions, they sometimes took refuge behind our Landrover ! We didn’t want to pick sides or be caught in the cross fire. Pretty exciting times.
Check the slide show for more details. You just have to see it for yourself. it looks like a documentary, but it has gone on for thousands of years before we came and it will continue long after we leave. If you possible can, you should make an attempt to watch the Buffalo wars if you can. The usual day was up before dawn, a hasty cup of coffee and snacks and we were out in the bush to watch the sun come up. I am pretty sure the guides had radio contact with their scouts, as they had a pretty good idea of where to go to find us action. And of course, I always want to pull up and take advantage of friendly exotic birds. There must be hundreds of species, many unique to Botswanna. Birds are one of the few things that look better in strong day light than they do in the magic hour of the start and the end of the day. So save those hours for the big cats, or large animals, if they can be located.
When the sun rises and gets stronger, I pay more attention to birds. check with your fellow passengers before you book if you can, as not everyone appreciates a good bird image! I don’t know how that is possible, but I hear it happens.
In all, my wife and I, and Dr. Bill and Glenda Abildgaard, just had a fabulous time. ( Again!)Our safari was one of our best and we felt we had received a superb value for services.We look forward to a return engagement. ( or Returning again, as well , as again )
Hi CelesteFirstly, Malcolm and I would like to thank you for helping us choose Mala Mala. We had the most amazing 4 days experience. The Game Reserve was wonderful, the facilities and food better than we had hoped for. On Christmas Eve we had a special dinner with our new friends and our ranger/driver Gary. Gary showed us an incredible time on each drive. The photo is of leopards who were mating and we followed them for quite a while. We saw elephants, monkeys, lions, leopards, giraffe, rhinos, buffalo, hippos, kudu, impalas, crocodile ,baboons, zebras, wild dogs, and many beautifully coloured birds.
Thank you again and Happy New Year.Judy and Malcolm Rogers
Hi CelesteYes, the trip went great. We had a great and remarkable trip. Definitely met our expectations. Here’s a quick snapshot:
1. Idube: Nice lodge with outstanding animal views. (only complaint is that the hot water was sporadic, making showers exciting during the winter…)
2. Lukimbi: Outstanding lodge (and food which was truly gourmet!) with good animal views. As you know, since there are more vehicles (trackers) in Sabi Sands and as Sabi Sands is not nearly as overgrown, it is much easier to see more game there than at Lukimbi. Lukimbi, there are only 2 or 3 vehicles out to cover a huge expanse and the bush is too overgrown. It makes it very difficult to see game consistently. Also, as the rules of engagement are different, we were able to get much closer to the animals for ‘personal’ encounters in Sabi Sands than at Lukimbi. For us, we were all about seeing the game, so Sabi Sands was by far our favorite place.
Nonetheless, Lukimbi had some exciting and incredible and memorable moments, including seeing 5 male lions (the ‘coalition’) that control the region together; seeing 2 hyaena pups; seeing 5 very rare black rhinos (in three separate sitings). So, you can imagine that the game viewings in Sabi Sands had to be incredible! A few of our favorites in Sabi Sands: driving through a herd of 500 cape buffalo; seeing the 3 lion coalition together and the next day following two of them through the bush for 30 minutes; seeing two female leopards on different days and during the day; seeing a lioness and her two cubs; seeing two white rhinos sparring, and seeing lots of elephants, white rhinos and a pod of 25 hippos. On two of four game rides in Sabi Sands we saw 4 of the Big 5! Needless to say we saw all of the Big 5 more than once. We saw all of the Big 5 except leopard in Lukimbi.
Thanks again! It was a great trip.The next time I hope to take the entire family (wife and both sons).
Hi CelesteSo it has been just over 2 weeks since returning to our own “animal kingdom” – corporate America. As Jennifer & I had hoped, each element of our safaris offered a different & exciting experience… and there were so many. It was spectacular and this will be a lasting memory! I sense that someday we will return. Many thanks to you for helping make this happen and your last minute assistance when we were hampered by the delay of our SAA flight arrival.
Some highlights:Arathusa Lodge – Seeing the Big 5 plus so much more was a treat! Our guide & tracker ( Ryan & Debeer ) were outstanding… friendly and knowledgeable. We saw and learned so much from them. It is clear that they have a passion for what they do. Between game drives one day I had arranged for a mid-day helicopter tour of Blyde River Canyon and its surrounding area (numerous waterfalls and picnic stop near God’s Window)… so impressive. The food and accommodations at Arathusa was wonderful, and helpful if asked. Overall, this portion of our trip was tops.
Victoria Falls / Zambezi Sun – The accommodations were suitable though the proximity to the falls was a major plus.. A few notable memories were; 1.) seeing the Falls / getting soaked by the mist, 2.) Lion Encounter [walked with and petted several 4 month old lion cubs], and 3.) watching our 17 year old daughter – Elena – Bungy Jump the gorge.
Selinda Camp – This was another top level experience. Once again all the people we came into contact with were friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. Our guide – Mots – did an outstanding job. A special feature of the camp has to do with its ownership… by renowned National Geographic photojournalists Beverly & Dereck Joubert.
Banoka Bush Camp – By definition & design, this camp is not on the same level as Arathusa & Selinda so we at times made unjust comparisons. The rough trail roads were more extreme in places than otherwise experienced. Being on the Khwai River of the Okavango Delta offered another unique ecosystem experience. We had the unique sighting of wild dogs, as well as hippo pods, lions, giraffes and elephants… to name a few.
Thanks againBrad Howland
Hi CelestePlease find attached some pics we have taken, these are just a few, I have not photo shopped yet but will do so shortly.Will send you more later! The East African trip was wonderful! A no-frills, no fuss, get down and dirty true African experience which allowed us to experience the bush in a profound and intimate way.Close encounters with wildlife led to us witnessing the natural harshness of a lion kill, a cheetah chase, the massive migration of Wildebeest and Zebra and scary moments with hyena and leopards nosing around our camp at night. We loved every minute of this trip and would do it again anytime!
Thanks for the opportunity.
Dear CelesteThank you for helping organizing such a great event for us. We went on the 3 day safari (wish we could have stayed longer), and were able to have some many memorable experiences. We saw pretty much all the animals we wanted to see except for the Lion, and the highlight of the animals we saw were the leopards on our night drive. The guides that drove us through the park were amazing and the camp grounds that we slept at really enhanced our experience of being out in the wild. Here are some pictures that we took of our group of 3 out on the safari.
Hi MarkThe trip was great. After a few days at the Cape Town waterfront, I did a 3 day safari in Kruger, which was wonderful, then came back and explored Cape Town’s wine country. What a rich, exciting and gorgeous country you live in! “We really enjoyed our day of kayaking, visiting the penguins, and touring the Cape of Good Hope. Our guide Charles was extremely knowledgable of the history, wild life and statistics of the region and he took great care of us.
From start to finish, it was a wonderful tour and we would recommend it to others.
Dear CelesteWe just came back from our trip on Rovos Rail which you did all the bookings for us. Thank you ever so much. Everything went as planned and we thank you for an excellent job.
RegardsOckie De Jager
Dear CelesteWe had a wonderful trip and felt we got a good taste of what Africa has to offer. Of course we are back in the daily grind of work but we have shared our experience with our friends and family and everyone was truly amazed.
Dear CelesteLet me tell you, that we have seen most of the best lodges in Africa during our travelling within the last 15 years. Sabora Tented Camp in our opinion is the absolute best hideaway you can find. Even in one of our german wellknown newspapers Sabora Tented Camp was described as one of the eight stunning lodges in the world.. Besides excellent service, meals and wines we were lucky to find thousands of wildebees, zebra and topi as well as big herds of Elephants. At the end we did not want to leave the place. If there will be a chance to go again to Tanzania we will visit this place again even for another 8 days. Attached please find some pictures, which only can give you a glimpse of an impression. When we know the exact dates for our next travel in our spring back to Africa we will contact you to make the reservations.
Best regardsMarion Knebes
Hi Mark We had a fantastic time thanks, so much so that my boyfriend proposed when we were in Cape Town, very romantic! I will be sure to send you some photo’s soon.
Greetings Mark,Mark – The trip was amazing! Shamwari was absolutely the best….I don’t think I could have expected more. The game drives were great, the service excellent – Eagles Crag was fabulous. We have a million pictures to go through but will send some when we do!
Thanks for everything.We will be returning!Pennie
Jessica and I were just reminiscing about our trip to Chitwa and I realised that I haven’t sent you a thank you for an incredible vacation experience. While I had a mental picture of what a safari would be like, this experience far surpassed anything imagined. We arrived in time to join the late afternoon safari and had seen 4 of the “big five” by our return from that trip. The water hole outside our room kept us mesmerized throughout the afternoons, watching the various animal species make their daily visit. By the end of our 3-day stay, we had seen every possible species, including wild dogs and a chameleon. I’m attaching a couple photos of a leopard with a kill. Although I leave South Africa in Dec., I’m sure I’ll be in touch about how to recreate the experience, perhaps in Namibia next June or July.
Thanks again for selecting Chitwa – their safaris and their staff made it a perfect vacation.
From Thursday, November 6, until Saturday, November 8, I spent two days at Mala Mala Main Camp. Taga Safaris arranged the trip. In one word, it was magnificent. The room is very nice, the food is good, the ranger is friendly but above all game viewing is superb. We have seen four leopards: a female in a tree with her impala kill and later playing with her cub, a male chased away from his kudu kill by a hyena, and a young one stretched out on a pile of sand. We have seen a pride of lions: six lionesses with seven cubs and an old male. One of the lionesses and her two cubs regularly separated from the pride and her cubs were clearly better off. Big herds of buffalos with young ones and oxpickers, many rhinos with young ones, and a small herd of elephants with young ones. But this was not all: giraffe, zebra, impala, steenbok, kudu, wildebeest, wardhog, monkeys, a family of jackals, many eagles, malibu, many colourful birds, and small animals down to the cameleon. The ranger was active in following herds through the bush in his Toyota Landcruiser, pulling up close to the cats, and checking out places where malibu were waiting. The rangers communicate with each other so in case one of them finds something the others can come to see it as well. One drive it was raining but that was actually good because the animals are more active than in the heat. I feel privileged that I was able to have this wonderful experience.
Thank you MarkAart de Zeeuw
Dear CelesteSorry for such a long delay in coming back to you but I have to congratulate you on your service. Inyati was great and we were happy we followed your advice. Both the lodge and Sabi Sands were fantastic. I am currently looking into organising my honeymoon for the end of this year and we would like to come to Africa again and perhaps mix safari with the beach…..we are open to suggestions. Can you propose something.
Best RegardsBill O’Regan
Hi MarkI am back to reality (WORK). Arathusa Lodge was a wonderful experience. I would go there again next week if I could take the time off from work.! Bit of a bumpy road to get there – but what a treat. Staff were very attentive. Our tracker, ROY, and JACQUE, our driver, were enthusiastic, full of information and so much fun to be with it was hard to say goodbye!
Thanks again for the recommendation and also for your effort to come to the airport to give us an official greeting.
I have been visiting Southern Africa since 1997 and have come to rely on Taga Safaris for my safari plans. Mark provides excellent suggestions and advice, and has organized great safaris, sometimes on very short notice. It helps that he is a fellow enthusiast for the beauty of Southern Africa and its wildlife. All arrangements have been very professional and impeccably organized.
Kirk HamiltonWashington DC
Hi Mark..We got home safely. Only about 47 hours from getting up at 05:30 for game drive to putting our little heads on our own pillows. Whew! Debra and I had the most wonderful time on your tour. The food was out of this world. Much better than I can buy in Sacramento California. We all gained weight! The game drives were really great. We have been to Africa in various regions 5 different times. This time, with Bill and Glenda, we really wanted to see more leopards as they are shy and reclusive. Very hard to photograph. So we were not only pleasantly surprised, we were blown away by the quality and quantitiy of your leopards. We were not prepared for it. But we blazed away and got some lucky shots. Your Drivers and Trackers were first class. Or should I say , a class of their own. When they started tracking, 9 times out of 10 we were looking at a leopard quite quickly. This was surprising. The animals, totally ignored our presence, which is unusual as they usually flee and vanish. We were really delighted by the whole first class experience and would recommend it to anyone seriously interested in leopards. And yes, we saw the big 5 our first morning out. We saw families of Rhinos, Journies of giraffes, herds of elephants, occasionaly at arms length distance. (whew) and Lions and cubs, and lots and lots of leopards.
I hope you can post these sample images.
You are the best!
SincerelyTim and Debra Landis
Hi MarkAdmittedly it’s been a little while since we returned from S. Africa but didn’t want to forget to thank you for putting together a great trip for my me and my wife, Kirsten. Everything worked out fantastic: transfers were spot-on, the itinerary/guide you included was incredibly helpful and the animals, well, the animals were unbelievable.We had a fantastic time.
Thanks againJason and Kirsten Lacombe
Hi CelesteThank you for organizing the “safari” last month. I was met in Jo’burg as planned, taken to the hotel by a very polite and efficient young man, and everything went superbly smoothly for the entire vacation. Thank you especially for recommending Simbambili. Every time I thought it could not get any better, it did! Hippo’s on three occasions, including five in one location, four giraffe, a family of warthogs, kudu, white rhino and black rhino, hyenas, African wild dogs, hundreds of impala, zebra, dozens of elephants within a few yards, snake eagles and fish eagles, wildebeest, leopard mother and cubs, three other leopards, vultures, a Wahlberg eagle, a lion and seven lionesses within a few feet, being surrounded by hundreds of Cape Buffalo, Nyala, Steenbuck, a Genet, waterbuck, duikers, snakes, Harrier hawks, mongoose, monitor lizard, etc. The Simbambili staff were very bright, friendly, efficient and competent. The accommodation far exceeded expectations – awesome. The food was excellent, with a good selection of wines – and we hardly saw a mozzie.
Kind regardsKaare Foy
Dear MarkA short note to wish you and all at Taga Safaris a happy New Year. You organized a trip for us to Rocktail Bay last October and I promised then to let you know how it went. Well it was really memorable, perfectly hosted at the Rocktail Bay lodge where we had a very good rest in idyllic surroundings, with very friendly people at the lodge. The return flights with the two ZUMAT pilots between Rocktail Bay and Richards Bay were extraordinary. The humpback whales were migrating south so, in addition, we had many whale sightings along that spectacular north eastern coast of South Africa.
Many thanks for your organization and professionalism.
Yours trulyPatrick and Marie-Christine Guerin
Hello CelesteI can only describe our holiday as fabulous and Leadwood is definately one of the highlights. Thank you so much for recommending it. I was disappointed when we couldn’t get into Londolozi but wow, am I glad. Have you seen it for yourself? It is hard to do it justice to anyone who hasn’t been there but everything about it was truly amazing.
Thanks once again and next time we want a South African experience, I will come back to you.
We had a wonderful time. Jacana, Jacks and Duma Tau were terrific. I would return to Jacana and Duma Tau. Once is enough at Jacks. Chobe Game Lodge was fine. The Royal Livingstone was impressive. Everything worked out on schedule and without a hitch. Thanks for your help. I identified 201 bird species that were new to me, against my original target of 150. My wife and I saw lots of the animals we came to see and she got some excellent photos of both the birds and the animals.
It was a trip of a lifetime.
Don and Barbara Brown
Hi CelesteWe had a fabulous time in Botswana and enjoyed each of the 3 WS camps, especially Vumbura Plains, which was just beautiful. I know its modern décor/design has been controversial, but we really enjoyed the bright, expansive accommodations. We were fortunate to have been able to go out alone with a guide 2 times, so Allen had wonderful opportunities to watch for birds during these rides. Most guests like to stop only for big game, so we didn’t push to see birds on other days. If time shares were available at VP, I’d love to consider it as a vacation option. I’m glad we chose camps run by Wilderness Safaris, since their management was so capable and attentive. I’d recommend WS any time.
Did you hear that we had to be evacuated from Chitabe due to the spread of a fire in a local village? As it turned out, we were sent to VP a day early and that was very fortunate, since we really had a terrific time there. I’ve attached a link to our photos (just a few that we culled from the thousands we took between us). Hope you enjoy them. By the way, the vegetarian meals on SAA during our return trip were so much better than on our inbound flight. I guess the food service in South Africa far exceeds the food service in the U.S.
Also, I figured out that Allen & I moved out of 41 Burnett Terrace in West Orange at the end of May, 1971. Is that when your sister bought the house? Everyone who has heard the story about your sister living in that house has gotten goose bumps. What a small world this really is!!!
Wishing you a good yearPhyllis
Hi MarkSorry not to have got back to you sooner but we have just gone back to school and can now access this e-mail address again. We had an absolutely fabulous time in South Africa thanks to all your organisation. Simbambili and Mala Mala certainly delivered leopards – we saw 11 different one in the 5 days, and it was lovely to be able to put names to them and know who was whose mum etc. Fantastic tree views and kills up trees etc. We could’nt have wished for better sightings of leopards and lion families. We await with interest the diary of when we were there on 1st – 3rd August . Kevin took some good digital photos of leopards lions etc and we wondered if you would like a selection to go on your website. I would also like to add some complementary comments to your guest book when I have time. I have to say that Simbambili was by far my favourite place – the atmosphere was so relaxed and friendly and we got on well with Emma and Chris, although we had Mamps and Debeer as our team and they got the best sightings of the day for us, with Chris arriving with his guests just as the leopard came out of the hole or climbed down the tree so they missed all the action ! We promised to report to Emma on how we liked Mala Mala to compare. It was great viewing and a wonderful setting, but if I am honest I felt totally relaxed at Simbambili and they made us feel like friends not paying guests.
The rest of the trip went really well and we were so lucky to miss all the rain and floods at Knysna but did see all the debris and roads cut off even two weeks later. It was even sunny in Cape Town and we finally managed to get up Table Mountain. I can thoroughly recommend all the lodges and guest houses. The day with Grant the Meerkat man at Oudtshorn was amazing as well as we got so close to them and then followed them through the bush for about 4 hours – can highly recommend it if anyone wants to see meerkats without going to Botswana. Sadly it it back to England, rain and work, but we have some great pictures and loads of memories to take us through the dark winter. Time to start planning next year ! I would love to go back to Simbambili some time but there are other places to see first. If I can convince Kevin I want to go to East Africa and see how that compares but suspect I might be disappointed as Namibia and South Africa have set such a high standard it is going to be hard to beat. We also want to see something of South America including the Galapagos and Easter Island, but I would still love to get my ‘big game fix’ sometime next year, although not on such a grand scale ! I shall continue to drool over the leopard and lion diaries as they are now personal friends and look forward to hearing how the cubs get on.
Many thanks again for all your work on our behalf – I wish we could have met in Jo’burg but perhaps another time. Let me know if you want some photos and if there is anything in particular that you could use. I have nothing but praise for your organisation and will take every opportunity to promote it to people in England that are looking to go to South Africa in the future.
Have you ever thought about advertising at the Travel Show in London in January each year – there are a lot of potential customers out there and we can certainly vouch for the quality of service.
Best WishesVal Davis
Hi MarkBusanga is absolutely fantastic. It was still pretty wet, but there was lots of game (and it only gets better as things dry out). Altogether a very beautiful place. I attach the first photo I have processed (just got home last night), and will send you a web link once I have some more photos…
Dear CelesteIt was great to meet you and Mark.After working with you for a bit over a year it was like meeting old friends, and thanks for the drinks. As we said, our trip to South Africa and Botswana was so much more than we expected in every way. Animals, scenery, people, service and food seemed to conspire to make each day even better, more dramatic and exciting than the day before. Thank you for your wonderful suggestions! The three camps were each unique and special; we could not have had a better camp experience. Outstanding accommodations, service and food plus games drives and sundowners with extremely knowledgeable and friendly guides made us not want to leave. Everything went without a snag. Having organized and led tours in other parts of the world ourselves one anticipates some bloopers along the way; we had none. The in-depth knowledge of the camps, hotels and tours that you have is outstanding and your recommendations made our trip the joy it was.
Again our thanks for giving us such an outstanding trip.We can’t wait to do it again.
Hi CelesteThanks, everything went very well. We all enjoyed the trip very much and it was a pleasure to see how the kids were fascinated by everything they saw. Both Shumbalala and Mala Mala were great, and I was surprised how child friendly both places were. Rocktail Bay Lodge is a place we will go to again (perhaps in the turtle season). Everything went smoothly and there were no hitches along the way. Thank you for the fruit and goodies basket in Shumbalala, also to you and Mark for your help and responsiveness.
Hopefully we can be in touch again.
Hi SheriseJust wanted you to know that our experience at Dulini was awesome! The rooms were stunning, the service excellent and the game was outstanding! We saw the Big 5 in 2 days. The only thing we didn’t see was zebra, but that’s not the worst thing that can happen to a person! I attach a pic (in black and white) of a beautiful leopard we saw within 30 minutes of our first game drive.Thanks for the tip on Dulini! It was a very special experience for us. I’ll keep your details on file and will contact you in the future for our next safari!
Thanks for everythingRegardsIlse
Dear CelesteJust a short note to say i am back home…. I had the most wonderful time on Safari, and am impressed and so appreciative of your ability to organise the whole thing at less than a moments notice.And you were right, Dulini was a dream….. But Inyati was great too, and the bush was fantastic……….
Thank you so muchRod
Sorry for the delay in replying – just seem to have been running around since our return. I remember the shorts but they are quite old and of no great consequence – certainly not worth sending back – so if someone else can use them or the village, or whatever, we are very happy. It was very nice of the River Club to write that about us, we certainly enjoyed our time there. It was probably the best Club from the point of view of the other people there at the same time – they were very much our age group and we had lots to talk about to each of them – just luck really. The rest of the trip of also very successful and we realised how well the whole thing was organised when we arrived in Johannesburg and were left to our own devices. I don’t think the hotel we chose was the best choice – we should have consulted you first!! Kings Pool and Jao Camp were both equally spectacular and we thoroughly enjoyed the game drives. The food at all the camps was truly amazing – I’m not sure what we expected, but certainly not the five star cuisine we enjoyed. Must be a nightmare getting all the ingredients to these remote places.
The rooms (or tents as they liked to call them) were very comfortable and spacious and cool. Our last night at Kings Pool, we were the only guests. So, when we came back from the game drive, we returned to our room just to clean up a bit before dinner to find the whole room had been decorated with about 50 or so candle tea lights and leaves and flowers and our supper set out in the room. Truly magical and very romantic. It was very sweet of them – they had to keep running back and forth to our room with the various courses which was not easy considering we had the room furthest away from the dining room. As I mentioned to you on the phone, the only bit that didn’t quite go so well was the transfer from River Club to Kings Pool. We would have been much better flying all the way (as did some other people staying at River Club with us) than travelling half by jeep/crossing the Zambezi in awful conditions/another journey by jeep and then finally meeting our friends from River Club again for the final bit of the journey by light aircraft. This is probably worth thinking about for future guests. However, everything else went so well that this is a very minor blip and really only mentioned for your future benefit.
We also thoroughly enjoyed Cape Town – The Cape Grace is certainly some hotel. Our guide there, Clive De Villiers, really deserves a mention. He was excellent and made a huge difference to our time there – has a huge amount of knowledge and certainly went the extra mile to make sure we enjoyed the trips. Overall, it was a fabulous trip and we will certainly recommend your services to any friends who are thinking of doing something similar.
Many thanksMaggie and Julian
Dear SheriseJust wanted to let you know that we had a great time at Inyati Game Reserve and saw the big 5 in 24 hrs!! We had a great ranger, George, and a very nice tracker, Solly. I am already starting to write about it so my memory don´t do me a trick. Francine was also very friendly and we had great chats. Imagine we almost got flooded and could barely get our way out due to the last day´s heavy pouring. The whole reserve was under water, but we managed.
Well, you will certainly hear from me and hope to meet you next time we come to SA.
Hi CelesteJust wanted to let you know that we have returned from our trip to South Africa and Zimbabwe. We had a wonderful time and the plans that you made for us were great. We certainly enjoyed the Gorah Elephant Camp and loved the tents plus the convenience of it being so close to Port Elizabeth. We would highly recommend it. Everything was wonderful at the Victoria Falls Hotel and the Wilderness Safari people were prompt and well organized. We enjoyed our entire trip and just wanted to thank you for helping us put all the pieces together.
Best RegardsPhyllis and Rolf Hahn
Hi SheriseI’m back in the UK now after a fabulous holiday in SA. We both enjoyed it immensely and the trip to Thornybush Game Lodge was the icing on the cake, as we saw the ‘Big 5′ several times over, especially the leopards, which we were told was very unusual. I would like to take this opportunity in thanking you and your company for the arrangements that you made, it all went off very smoothly indeed. I have now stored your details in my ‘favourites’ folder and can assure you that I will recommend you whenever the opportunity arises.
Many thanks once againJohn Wilks
Dear SheriseNow we’ve had a couple of days back to get over jet lag, I wanted to just drop you a note and tell you that everything went extremely smoothly, and we had a wonderful time. We absolutely loved Cape Town and can’t wait to go back (we didn’t have enough time to do everything); Exeter Camp was outstanding and we saw The Big Five several times as well as many other animals and birds. Chobe Chilwero was truly luxurious with great food – the animals were much scarcer there, but the River trips were interesting. Victoria Falls Safari Lodge was also a good choice with their view of the water hole and shuttle to the Falls, etc. Anyway, thank you so much for all your hard work – we really appreciate everything you did. Next time we will get our friends to book their airline tickets first, and then we’ll contact you to set up another trip!
Best regardsLinda and Brian Taylor
Hey Mark!I’ve been meaning to email you since I got back.You know how it is — it’s hard to come off that vacation high and tackle all the things on the To Do list. Yes — Rose and I did each receive the DVD. Thank you so much! It’s wonderful, and an unbelievable keepsake of our time in Simbambili. It was so magical there, and now we can pop in the DVD and relive our experience. Thank you! In Zimbabwe, tried to go bungee jumping, but to no avail. Our lodge manager arranged the booking for us, but did not explain that we needed to cross over into Zambia, etc. So we wasted much precious time looking for the place, then went into Zambia and discovered the bungee company there was not the same name as the one on our voucher. Later we discovered it didn’t matter, but it was all very confusing and we needed to catch our ride back to the lodge. But we did go whitewater rafting, which was very fun. The hike down into the ravine and back out at the end was a little taxing (so many stairs!), but the whole thing was a wonderful experience. It’s sad to see the quality of life in Zimbabwe right now. From everything we’d read, the quality of food at Matetsi was among the best. Now, with it so difficult getting food in the country, our meals there were mediocre at best, and consisted of a lot of thin soups and vegetable side dishes stretched with onions, etc. But it was relaxing and lovely, and it was nice to have a very different safari experience in terms of no off-road driving and encountering animals that were not quite as tame around humans. But we were so spoiled with Jaco and Lucky — no ranger and tracker can compare after them!
I hope you and Celeste are well.We really enjoyed meeting you both!
Dear MarkWe promised to email you and let you know how our trip through the North Eastern part of your country has been. It was great, wonderful, marevelous, grandiose and we liked all of it very much. Even though our expectations were high, we enjoyed it even more than expected. We saw many more animals than expected, we admired an enormous variety of beautiful birds, we ate lots of good stuff that we had never eaten before, the scenery along the escarpment and the Drakensbergen are impressive, and the accomodations were near perfect. Tshukudu in Pilanesberg turned out to be a good start. There are lots of animals there, although not all of the “big five”. In comparison, some of the other reserves seemed somewhat empty at first, but they turned out to be even more interesting because bigger and more varied. And we had the chance to watch some interaction between lions and elephants. Elephants, kudus, nialas and wart hogs came to drink from our dip pools respectively in Royal Malewane and in Phinda. It is hard to rank the various lodges in terms of comfort and hospitality, because all were excellent.
Still I would say that Royal Malewane and Phinda were the best closely followed by Mkuze falls, Singita Lebombo and Tshukudu. We made a total of 3,500 kilometers. Driving on the left side proved easier than expected. Starting day three, it became almost automatic. The surprisingly low density of the traffic outside the big centers certainly helped. It turned out that we only needed a 4×4 in the dunes around Rocktail bay. All other roads, even the dirt roads, are actually very good, and much better than we are used to in Costa Rica (wherer we live part of the time). The only somewhat disappointing experience was the very strong winds on the beaches both at Rocktail and Zimbali, but we still enjoyed the accomodations and surroundings in both places very much.So did we at Cathedral Peak. Finally, Ilyria house in Pretoria is one of the most charming little hotels we have ever experienced, with perfect service and really super-delicious food. We were so glad that we were able to go back there instead of the Westcliffe for our last night (There is nothing wrong with the Westcliffe though. To the contrary, but Ilyria is so much more intimate and charming).
The information and the directions you prepared to help us get from one place to the other were very useful, even though we did not always follow them completely, either because we wanted to make a detour to admire some scenery (the Blyde river area among other things) or because locals pointed out a shortcut. The road numbering was somewhat confusing around the big cities with sometimes alternate N-roads (toll and no toll), M roads, R roads etc. One little suggestion we would like to make, if you allow, would be to inform first time visitors who drive around the country, before they leave home, that gas stations do not accept the regular credit cards. Not one did. All in all we had a marvellous vacation, and would like to do it all over again. Thank you very very much for your help. Attached a picture that demonstrates this, hats off to Taga Safaris.
SincerelyLuc and Gea Boussauw
Hi SheriseJust a short note to advise you that our holiday was absolutely FANTASTIC!!! Couldn’t fault the accommodation or service we received along the way. Wilderness were prompt and professional and everything went to plan. Chitwa Chitwa was amazing and our experience there was a real highlight. I have some great photos which I’ll try to post on the Taga forum if possible in the not to distant future.
Thanks again for all your help.
Dear SheriseJust a note to say that we had an absolutely fantastic time in South Africa. Everything went very smoothly and I am very grateful for all the care and attention give to us by Taga Safaris, and you personally. Hope to see you again in the not too distant future.
Hi Mark,Just to let you know that we had a great Safari the very best holiday ever! .we had such exciting sightings of animals, even saw wild dogs. we also enjoyed Vic falls, & were fortunate enough to get to Harare on the day we planned to go, the previous day the flight had been cancelled] We also had a fantastic time in Zimbabwe & went into yet another game park & toured a hilly region just outside of Harare. The whole of the time we were there we felt quite safe, both in the city & countryside.
Many thanks for planning for us the BEST TIME EVER.
Kind RegardsJohn & Ann
TRANSPORTATIONWe were lucky enough to fly Singapore Business Class from JFK to Frankfurt and then Lufthansa First Class to Johannesburg. Both provided lay-flat seating and excellent service, but the highlight had to be the First Class terminal in Frankfurt. Lufthansa is the first to provide this unique service to its passengers – a small, discreet, fully functional terminal with security, passport control, and free services including a wonderful sit-down restaurant, unlimited French Champagne, a personal concierge, driver and valet. At boarding time, the driver brought us to the belly of the 747 in a Mercedes S Class to ensure a more private and efficient boarding process. Once in Africa, our flights were somewhat less luxurious, particularly in Botswana. Most of our transfers between camps were done by light aircraft (4-6 seats) and the thermals made the trips very uncomfortable and nauseating. We knew this ahead of time, though. So we did our best to prepare. When we were lucky enough to board a 12-seater Cessna, the trips were much better. Federal Air, which operates in South Africa, seemed to be the only charter company that had larger (18+ seat) planes, which were better all-around.
ACCOMMODATIONSAll of our accommodations were luxurious, but in different ways. Special thanks to Mark at Taga for helping us select just the right ones. The one common element between them was the exceptional service. Since the properties were consistently small and the staff to guest ratio was consistently high, anything was possible. All we had to do was ask. The important thing to note is that we are confident we had just the right mix of lodging types and geographic areas when it came to the overall safari experience. There were also an abundance of animals that came very close to our rooms and often onto our decks for both water and mischief. These included elephants, hyena, vervet monkeys, baboons, and ngalas.
**Grace in Rosebank: Johannesburg, SA**This is the sister property of the famous Cape Grace in Capetown. It is located in a Joburg suburb and has a very intimate feel. It is a smaller property by Joburg standards and we relished the quiet. We especially liked the traditional décor – painted wood, dark stained wood, lovely shades of green, and Ubatuba granite.
**King’s Pool: Linyanti Reserve, Botswana**This is a luxury tented camp in a very dry (we were there in the dry season) area of Botswana. Free-standing suites are on raised platforms and have large decks, private plunge pools and salas. Hippos and elephants snored under our suite each night.
**Jao Camp: Okavango Delta, Botswana**This is a luxury tented camp in a tropical, very wet part of Botswana. It was recently featured in Architectural Digest for its phenomenal layout and Balinese influences. Free-standing suites are on raised platforms with private salas. The walkways leading to the suites are raised as well. We especially enjoyed the songs of the birds and bell frogs each morning – they were so loud, they must have been fighting to be heard! Jao is best known as a water camp and offers a unique mokoro (canoe) experience.
**Singita Ebony: Sabi Sands Reserve, SA**Singita is an award-winning lodge in South Africa. What set the Singita Ebony property apart from the others were the amenities available in each free-standing suite – air conditioning, full power, hair dryers, etc. The suites here also had plunge pools. We loved the British colonial décor, the claw-footed bathtubs and the slate floors.”
Dear Sherise,The entire trip was wonderful. Thornybush Game Lodge turned out to be better than we expected. The accommodations were excellent, the food was great and the drives to see the animals were exceptional. Thank you so much for sending us to Thornybush. The Victoria & Alfred Hotel was very comfortable except that there was a major renovation going on and it was extremely noisy during the day. Fortunately we were up early every day so that the noise did not bother us too much. We enjoyed Cape Town very much, particularly the tour by car of the peninsular.
Good Morning, We have all returned home safely, except a few kilos heavier because of all the food. The trip was excellent and here are a few thoughts. We were met at the Cape Town airport and everything was sorted out well. The V and A Waterfront was under re-construction, which I suppose we knew, and did not cause any problems aside from a little construction noise which was during the daytime. We toured the Cape, Boulder Beach, the Aquarium, and the wine country. The weather was cool but no problem. The trip to Sun City was very nice except the map provided by Budget was hard to understand and follow. Sun City is a really special place. Our accommodations at the Cascades were very good. Pam Farmer had a nose bleed while there and we visited the SC Clinic. They were quite capable of handling the problem. Our impression of the Clinic was that they could take care of routine situations but the supplies and facilities was somewhat limited. The physician seemed very capable. Victoria Falls was beautiful. It is the low water season, but the guide says that in high water season there is too much spray at the falls. My impression of the boat cruise was fair to good. Our group all concur that the Boma Dinner was below par. The service was below par, the food below par and the entertainment so-so. Wilderness safaris did an excellent job of meeting, greeting and transporting us around. We did not expect the US$30 per person entry visa fee. It was ok but I did not recall and information about that prior to arrival. There was a problem with the 20KG per ticket luggage allowance.
It was not a problem going into Zimbabwe on BA but the Air Zimbabwe handlers on exit assessed a US$125 overweight charge on our luggage. The Farmers were assessed US$145. I am a member of the BA Executive Club and appealed to them and they reduced the charge to US$20 each. It is almost impossible for two persons to travel two weeks with only 20kg including souvenirs. Perhaps a pre-disclosure of this would have helped. The Victoria Falls Hotel was very good and the service and good was excellent. Our stay at Walkersons was one of the trip highlights. We really would have enjoyed more time there. I should have requested two nights there. Kirby Lodge has fallen a little since our last visit. It changed owners two years ago and they need some remodeling. DINNER, B and B was included at Kirby. It was good but not close to the outstanding standards at Walkersons. I have been to Sabi Sabi, Djuma and now Simbambili. As you would expect, Simbambili was truly a lovely place. The accommodations, staff and food, and facilities were outstanding. the game drives were wonderful. Jaco exudes a true love of his job. We have many photo treasures from our trip. Overall we consider our trip a success and appreciate your assistance.
I will recommend your firm to any future travelers to RSA that I may come across.I attach a photo of us at yet another meal. From the left are Roy Farmer, Jan Hobbs, Ken Hobbs and Pam Farmer.
All the best,Ken
Celeste and Mark.We’re back from the safari and want to let you know all went very well. We had a wonderful time. It met my expectations, and in some ways, more. The guide, Russell Crossey, was excellent. We saw great animals, were with a very nice group of people, and would certainly recommend one of the Wilderness Safari’s to anyone. You were very easy to communicate with, and I want to thank you for the professional way in which you communicated with us before the safari. Having done all the work via the internet, good, timely, professional email was important. Back to work now, but with new lifelong memories.
Thanks for your help
Finally got a chance to sit down and write some letters! Thank you so much for organising and helping us have such a wonderful safari. We had the most amazing time and it was most definitely a ‘Silver Safari’ of a lifetime. We have enjoyed so many safaris over the last 25yrs but this was definitely the best. It was good to chat to you at Simbambili, & thanks for taking the time to bother. As I said to you then, we felt that Mala Mala Game Reserve and Simbambili Game reserve complimented each other and was definitely the right choice for us, although I have to admit that after all the excitement at Simbambili, it came out tops! We have never met game rangers who were as enthusiastic as Mark and Jaco before. They were always so happy and excited about everything. Well I know I made a tall order requesting Wild Dog, but to see them on 3 out of 6 drives was incredible and we flew past Mafufanyane on the way to locate them (but we knew he would be waiting for us on our return). I think the rest of the guests in our vehicle thought that Neil and I were mad as we were so excited but they just didn’t realise that it’s a chance of a lifetime. Our first sighting of the dogs was very funny, as Neil had a new camera and couldn’t make it work. He then decided he needed a new battery and as he was changing it, he dropped the new one outside of the vehicle. He got so mad. You can imagine his frustration, but Mark retrieved it for him. We were also very lucky as our first drive was the evening Mafufanyane killed the Impala and so we were able to watch him over the next 3 days.
We have some fabulous footage of him taking the impala up the tree and climbing the tree on another occasion. We could have sat and watched him for ages, but of course one has to think of the other guests. I think that the only problem for us now is that most people are on their first visit and naturally want to see other things. We got the impression that people didn’t realise how very lucky they were to see so many leopards, as outside the Sabi Sands area, it is not so easy to get up close and personnal. They are such magnificant animals and you could never tire of watching them. Maybe next time we could find other people with the same interest so that we could spend more time with the leopards. Our last week in South Africa was spent visitng friends and telling them all about our wonderful adventures. For both of us it was quite an emotional visit and now that we are back home we are missing it so much! We would move out there tomorrow if we could find a suitable job. You are so lucky to live in such a beautiful country and we can think of nothing more magical than to spend time relaxing in the bush with all it’s open space and beauty.
Well I have to carry on working for our next trip to the bush. Once your’e hooked that’s it! We would definitley like to visit Simbambili again but I have a feeling we will have to wait until 2006.I think we should fly in for a few days and then visit some friends in the Cape. In the meantime, we will certainly continue our safari adventures on the Simbambili website. Thanks for setting that up. It is much appreciated, especailly as we now know some of the predators.
Thanks once again for all your help.It was very much appreciated.I will certainly pass on your details to interested friends.
Best WishesAndrea & Neil
Good Morning, Mark Can’t tell you enough how much we enjoyed our trip. You really made it special for us. We are already planning, and recruiting for our next visit. One of the brightest highlights was seeing you and Celeste again. That is always a pleasure. It was good to hear that things were going well for you. We wish you both health, wealth, and pleasure. It was also good to hear that things were going well for South Africa. We hope that the trend continues. We will put together a video clip and email it to you. Last weekend we had 180 people at our house for a clam bake, so we were a little absorbed.
Otherwise, hope to see you soon.Dale and Jo Perram
Hi Mark, I just want to tell you that we had a great time in Chitwa Chitwa Game Reserve. Everything was just fantastic. I enclose a picture of the most marvelous moment…
Thank you!Best wishesOle Kristian Ellingsen
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