Take a flight of fancy In each edition of Safari Magazine, Tim Henshall gives his thoughts on the issues of the day. BREXIT
Thoughts? Please feel free to come back to me via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Like many of you, I’m still reeling from the UK’s decision to leave the EU. Much of the fall-out to date has been negative, especially the impact on Forex. But we’ve made our minds up now, so the new challenge is to look how we can best take advantage of the opportunities that it definitely presents, rather than dwell on the negatives (which equally definitely exist). One thing is for sure…if we talk recession, we’ll suffer a recession. I do sense the economy is starting to settle likewise, with more positive news on the horizon.
Feedback from We Are Africa seems as positive as ever, but I have very mixed views regarding WTM Africa. Whilst Cape Town makes for an excellent venue (and local operators were pleasingly out in number), international buyers were not so visible. Visitor numbers at Indaba seemed to be dramatically lower than in previous years, but the quality was generally very good. Most exhibitors we spoke with were more than happy with their appointments, but the announcement regarding the new “ownership” of Indaba has not inspired those considering Indada 2017. WTM London is already a major topic of conversation as South Africa and Zambia are reportedly following Namibia and pulling out of the show altogether. With Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya set to share one (smaller) stand, it’s apparent that the show no longer has the appeal it once did. Be assured will be looking at options!
WHERE’S HOT…AND WHERE’S NOT?
In Spring 2016, we conducted a major research programme assessing attitudes towards the whole of sub- Saharan Africa amongst the trade, travel media and consumers. With robust data, we can see which destinations are capturing the headlines (both metaphorically and in reality!) Uganda, Ethiopia and Madagascar appear to offer greatest new potential to UK operators, whilst both Zambia and Botswana haven’t seen the level of PR coverage they might have historically expected. Consumers seem keen on Namibia and Madagascar, whilst South African continues to generate most column inches in the travel press. Ask us for more information
Front cover image: Chimp in Kibale, Uganda 2
welc ome to safari maga zine 29 Welcome to issue 29 of ‘Safari’ magazine, now even bigger and better than ever before. For this edition, we’ve taken the giant leap to turn it into a full-blown magazine with 76 pages of news, views and reviews. “Safari” is the only magazine dedicated to Africa travel trade in the UK, so we hope you like what you see. We’re committed to improvement, so if you’ve any suggestions, comments or feedback do please let us know.
C on go trip fee dback pAg E 4
Safari is a dedicated travel trade magazine from:
a wild dog in th e kafue sky PAg e 6 6 To contact us call +44 (0)1664 823 750
largest EVER e l e ph ant tran slocation pAgE 68
These ancient African symbols and icons are used at the start of each article in our magazine. Here are their meanings explained : Symbol of knowledge : information on destinations, lodges and camps Symbol of loyalty : used to highlight special offers and seasonal deals
Dis c over your ugan da
Symbol of positive change : used for updates, refurbishments and developments
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Symbol of unity : for trade shows, events and get-togethers
Symbol of wisdom : used on interviews, opinions/review pieces
Editor : Art Direction : Contributing Editor : Publisher :
Symbol of adaptability : used to represent our brand’s ability to constantly move forward
Hannah Cade Izzie Ludbrook Adele Cutler Tim Henshall
Where’d we most like to be this iss ue...
Relaxing on the banks of the Zambezi at
Waterberry Za mbezi Lodge Livingstone, Zambia 3
Mboko Fam Report
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CAP TIVATING C ONGO FA M T R IP R E P O RT Lango camp report Congo. Thefam name alone conjures up so many exciting images and thoughts.
In 2015, having parted ways with Wilderness Safaris, Congo Conservation Company began the process of creating the safari experience they had originally planned. The project had been the brainchild of philanthropist, Sabine Plattner, who sought a source of employment for people living in and around Odzala National Park in the Republic of Congo. Conservation of the lowland gorilla and of the local communities were of paramount importance, with tourism being a means to an endâ€Śand not vice versa. With three camps now operational, (Ngaga, Mboko and Lango), Kamili led seven UK Africa specialists and a leading journalist deep into the Congo rainforest to experience Odzala for ourselves. Everyone had been primed - this was not going to be your average safari. Whilst the camps were of a surprisingly very high standard and the wildlife encounters promised so much, the climate and the logistics of getting around the country were always going to be challenging. And so it proved. We travelled via Brazzaville (taking a view of the rapids on the mighty Congo River dividing the country from Kinshasa and the DRC on the opposite bank), staying at the very comfortable Radisson Blu, before taking a scheduled flight to Ollombo with ECAir onboard a modern Boeing 737. Once here, we elected to drive the full 6-7 hours to Odzala, rather than stay at the (not quite finished) Etoumbi Hotel which sits about halfway. Arriving in the dark at Ngaga Camp, the chirps, hums and buzzes of the forest nightlife sounded like an impromptu jazz band, welcoming us to the first of our forest homes for the week. Our Congo adventure had begunâ€Ś.
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N GAGA CA M P This 6-room camp is set in the dense Ndzehi Forest on the western edge of the park, carefully constructed to blend in with its natural environment. Mandy and I stayed in Room 1, which is providing the blueprint for a new style room, having been refurb’d with a separate bathroom and shower room, to give much needed space in the bedroom. All 6 rooms are 3-4 metres above the ground, on stilts and accessed via wooden walkways. The camp’s main attraction isCongo withoutintro doubtimage its two resident lowland gorilla families led by silverbacks, Jupiter and Neptuno. Trekking them is arguably far easier than their mountain cousins, but it can still be strenuous as they’re often to be found in the dense undergrowth, it’s very humid and there are tiny sweat bees (which sound far worse than they are!) Sometimes, the gorillas sit in clearings and dig for tree roots - a behaviour unseen elsewhere outside Odzala - which allows for great sightings. Expertly managed by Conrad and Retha, the entire Ngaga team is outstanding - although Chef Santos and new guide, Andreas are worthy of special praise.
SARAH WILLIAMS, GANE & MARSHALL “ I’ve a few very specific clients in mind who I know will love Odzala! It’s difficult to find somewhere in Africa which is safe, yet tourism hasn’t reached there yet…and Odzala is just that. It’s so unusual which only adds to its appeal. “
Julian Asher, Timeless Africa “ There are few places in the modern world where you still feel as if you’re falling off the edge of the map - Congo is one of those places...true ‘Heart of Darkness’ territory! It’s definitely not for everyone, and I’ll be very selective about which clients I propose Congo to - and my clients would most likely charter a flight to the park to minimise logistical hassle. “ 6
Congo intro & image
Congo intro image
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C O N S E RVAT IO N
Due to the habituation methods of Dr. Magda Bermejo (who has studied primates for almost two decades), which minimise the ‘intrusion’ into the gorillas’ everyday lives and thereby attempts to negate any human impact on their natural behaviour, you are treated to a very different experience to that of a mountain gorilla trek in Uganda or Rwanda. Instead, the encounters can feel more “first-time” for both of you, with the slightly shier, but equally curious &gorillas imagefeeling their way into things, too. Magda regularly meets with clients at Ngaga prior to their gorilla treks. Magda suggests that clients should try to stay ‘camera free’ for the first 10-15 minutes to fully appreciate the experience. Gorilla encounters are limited to the usual 60-minutes, although we experienced plenty of leniency in the time-keeping. Clients are requred to prove that they are in full health, as well as wear protective face masks when close to the gorillas (for their safety, not ours!). They also provide head nets to avoid sweatbees, if required. For Congo Conservation Company - the owners of Odzala Discovery Camps - conservation is not just about the gorillas. Instead it is about the entire environment and eco-system within and around the national park, with its stunning rainforest. Conservation extends to all of the region’s flora and fauna, as well as the local people, including Ba’aka and other local tribes.
FREDDIE SUTTON, EXPERT AFRICA “ Congo allows you to see so many species you can see nowhere else. The camps are not high-end but they are very comfortable and blend beautifully with their environment. They’re the perfect base for the brilliant activities on offer.”
KATE PIRIE, the EXPLORATIONS COMPANY “ Odzala is untouched and raw…real unexplored Africa. It’s amazing to think that I’ve seen so many new trees, plants, insects, birds and animals I’ve never seen before..and how many undiscovered species have been all around me? I must add that the accommodation was far nicer than I could ever have expected. “ 9
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M B O KO CA M P With 12 rooms built along the Lekoli riverbank, Mboko Camp is located inside the national park, on a grassland savannah. This is dotted with Gotham Cityesque tall termite mounds, and attracts regular visits from buffalo, elephant and bushbuck. Managed by the efficient Michael, the camp has an outstanding chef, Santu, whose Indian roots ensure delightful food is served throughout your stay. We all felt the guiding was of the highest quality - Alon Cassidy (son of Rod from Sangha Lodge, CAR) is more “a man of the forest” who simply Congo intro shares his world with you, rather than you feelimage he’s just doing a job. You sense even if guests aren’t in camp, he’d be out doing exactly the same activities, such is his love of the environment. A 700m forest walk along the wooden walkways which lead from the camp into the forest is a great soft-adventure option with plenty of birds, butterflies and countless insects to be discovered, but the real highlight here for us was getting out onto the river - either in a speedboat or in kayaks - from where we were able to see a multitude of birds, along with forest elephants, forest buffaloes and various primate species (including both unhabituated chimpanzees, puttynosed moneys and the rarely seen Northern Talapoin).
Chloe McCormack, Farside Africa “ I loved getting my macro lens out, as there are so many fascinating small species here. Seeing the big mammals like gorillas, elephants and forest buffaloes felt like a bonus, but didn’t feel essential.”
Nick Redmayne, Journalist for The Telegraph and Wanderlust “ If you’re looking for fake safari chic and guaranteed animal shows, then stay away. Come to Congo because you want the feeling of true exploration…but yes, with an element of comfort. “ 10
Congo intro & image
Ngaga fam report
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Congo : Operator comments
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Getting between Mboko and Lango Camp is an exciting one-hour kayak trip down the river (aided by a gentle current), followed by a 3-hour trek into camp following created byIntro elephants Intro Intro Intropathways Intro Intro Intro Introand buffaloes. These were often muddy and frequently water filled from ankle deep to waist-high on Intro Intro Intro Intro Intro Intro Intro Intro occasions. And whilst this might sound scary, it’s really far from it.
Intro Intro Intro Intro Intro Intro Intro Intro Intro Intro Intro Body
One of our group felt this was a bit too extreme and chose to arrive by vehicle, which still allowed him to enjoy the fabulous views across the open bai in front of camp, dotted from time to time with sitatungas, forest hogs, bushbucks and text of course, buffalo and elephant. The following day’s “Adventure Walk” took us back into the forest, across grassy plains and into smaller bais and waterways. Alon ensured we skillfully avoided making too close contact with the forest’s larger inhabitants, although putty-nosed monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabeys and red-tailed monkeys seemed to accompany our walk, whilst flocks of African Grey Parrots flew overhead. After wading waist deep again, the camp’s clothes drying service was much appreciated!
Sue Preater, Tracks Safaris “ Congo appears on intrepid travellers’ bucket lists as it is remote, unspoilt and off the beaten track…. with the added bonus of trekking to see the Lowland Gorilla. Go with a sense of adventure and an open mind! You’ll get wet, tired, muddy and push your own boundaries but in return you’ll enjoy world class lodges, superb food, outstanding guiding and adventure activities rarely found anywhere else.“ 13
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L ANG O CA M P Lango Camp is a simply stunning experience - but access is not for the feinthearted. The camp’s 5 rooms again offer very comfortable surroundings in which to rest up after the adventures of the day. But for us, we wanted to spend as much of our time well away from the room - taking adventure walks; looking out over the bai; keeping a close-eye out for the amazing forest birds flying overhead; or simply relaxing in the communal areas where nothing seemed to much trouble for the very attentive staff.
Congo intro image
The deck is an undoubted highlight, with plenty of game dotting the landscape in front of camp. If anything, we had too little time to take in this delightful feature and a half day simply sat looking out for camp wouldnt seem a waste at all. Also worthy of note - especially given the camp’s location, deep in the rainforest - is the exceptional standard of the catering, where each meal delivered up more culinary delights. As our group was heard to say “the food at Odzala puts so many restaurants around the world to shame.” For more information regarding Odzala Discovery Camps, contact email@example.com or Conrad and Retha via firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Beckett, Journeys into Africa “ This has been an outstanding journey made up of so many memorable experiences, so its hard to pick out just one. But I don’t think you can beat the arrival into Lango Camp, walking through kneedeep waterways, carefully avoiding buffaloes and elephants…. simply stunning. “
MANDY HENSHALL, KAMeric “ Understanding what’s on offer at Odzala is key. Kamili now has first hand knowledge and experience which will be vital to ensure clients are properly briefed about what to expect “
Congo intro & image
Newly decked out at Kafunta Increasingly praised by both guests and operators alike, South Luangwa’s last owner-run luxury lodge, has had a few exciting changes for this season
Game view whilst you dine
Unspoiled Wilderness at Island Bush Camp
We all know clients love the chance to ‘game view from the comfort of the lodge’, but Kafunta has taken that concept one step further by building an additional new dining area to face the lodge’s waterhole.
South Luangwa is the birthplace of walking safaris and Island Bush Camp is home to some of its finest adventures on foot. Island Bush Camp is different every time guests visit. Why? Because each May, the Kafunta team heads down to this exclusive area of the Luangwa Valley and re-constructs the camp, piece by piece. As a result, clients can expect a rustic and authentic ‘close to nature’ experience. Open from 25th May to 31st October, it lies under a grove of mahogany trees on the banks of the Luangwa River, with views that stretch from the Chindeni hills in the East to the Muchinga escarpment in the West.
Built lower to the ground, guests can relax on the exclusive dining deck, enjoy sumptuous cuisine and watch the game peacefully come and go on the open plains between the lodge and the river. Rack rates start from just $395 pppn. Visit www.luangwa.com
Let your footsteps do the discovering for only $535 pppn, or even less when combined with Kafunta River Lodge and/or Three Rivers Camp which opens in May 2017.
Manag e ment reac hes new ‘ peak e ’ Lisa Peake is the new manager at Kafunta River Lodge, as Leandi Pretorius moves on Lisa’s spent 10 years in the inhospitable Kalahari Desert, but now she has opted for a more opulent lifestyle, but still in the heart of the wild. Born at her family farm in Chipata, in Zambia’s Eastern Province, (in which South Luangwa is also situated) Lisa became fluent in the local language Chinyanja. In her late teens she left Zambia to run a cattle ranch on the edge of the Kalahari in Botswana. She then returned to Lusaka in Zambia in 1995 to raise a family. In the last few years she has felt the urge to return to her roots and satisfy her love for the bush. Lisa was the food and beverage manager for 2 years at the largest lodge in South Luangwa, where she also managed 4 of their associated bush camps, so she joins Kafunta Safaris as a “Home Grown Expert”. Her preference is for smaller, rather than large lodges, where she feels you get much closer to the environment and better get to know your clients requirements and expectations. In her own words “My role at Kafunta is to provide the perfect backdrop to your ultimate wilderness experience”. Lisa has been lodge manager at Kafunta from the start of the 2016 season.
For more information on the camp please contact Hannah via email@example.com 17
Creating a splash in Luangwa The team and guests at Kafunta recently woke up to a big surprise. A hippo, with a minor injury to its back leg, had taken refuge in their infinity pool
Although entertaining for the guests having their early morning tea a few metres away, it was quite a headache for Operations Manager, Rob Beadel and the lodge’s maintenance staff. How do you get the beast out without injuring it further?
The pool’s shallow side is opposite the flood plains and the river, so it’s not the direction the hippo would be naturally willing to take in day time, and with steps in the shallow side, the hippo was unwilling to take the easy way out.
Kafunta called the park authorities to send some scouts to assist, but in the meantime the hippo clearly enjoyed the clear water and the view.
on the water to try to scare the animal towards the shallow end. After a few “charges” towards the offenders, the hippo did climb the steps and crossed towards the lodge, seeking safety.
As the day went by, and with no sign of the rescue team, Rob decided to start draining the pool. At the same time, several members of staff, equipped with bamboo sticks, started tapping
It proved an exciting day and a real relief that no further injuries were inflicted on the young hippo. And a day later, they were grateful to find that he hadn’t returned.
MARA WALKING TRAIL S A new bespoke adventure from just $1905 for 6 days
Introduced earlier this year, Basecamp’s signature Mara Walking Trails allow you to fully connect with nature, whilst being designed to share a new angle of the savannah each day Camp, their luxury lodge perfectly named after its panoramic views which are simply breath-taking.
Whilst standard safari walks are available from all three of Basecamp Explorer’s propeties in the Mara, they now offer Mara Walking Trails. Only allowed inside the private conservancies, like Naboisho, walking on the Savannah is an exceptional experience. The duration of a walking safari is essentially the client’s choice, with Basecamp’s recommended duration being 5 nights, 6 days, but they also offer shorter and longer itineraries.
The itinerary includes 2 walks per day, with the warmest hours spent lounging and lunching in the shade of Acacia Trees. Included in this walking trail package is full board accommodation, guided walking safaris by the Masai, sunset sundowner, return flight to the Mara from Nairobi, all ground transfers, optional visit to community projects and conservancy fees.
Led by local knowledgeable Masai guides, guests can explore the Naboisho Conservancy and witness a wide variety of wildlife including thriving populations of lions, elephants, cheetah and leopards. The guide will also introduce clients to some of the finer details of the savannah; teaching them how to recognise animal scat and spoor, which plants have medicinal properties, and stories of life in the bush.
The rack rate for a 5 night, 6 days trip in Green Season (01 April – 30 June 2016) is $1905pp or in High Season (02 Jan – 31 March, 01 July to 01 Jan 2017) it’s $2430pp
Accommodation includes the luxury Wilderness Camp and Eagle View, as well as Basecamp Explorer’s mobile camp, Dorobo Fly Camp. This basic camp is designed in a style to reflect and respect the Masai’s hunter gatherers - the Dorobo. At the end of the trail, the guests will usually finish with a stay at Eagle View
For more information or sample itineraries, please contact Hannah Cade on 01664 823750 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
#Co min gTo g ether in Mara N aboisho Basecamp Explorer is delighted to announce its joint fundraising initiative to link the Naboisho Conservancy to the Masai Mara National Reserve, uniting the wildlife and people that inhabit the area, as well as all importantly preventing uncontrolled fencing. back. Significantly, in five years of operation, there hasn’t been a single case of elephant poaching, proving that Basecamp’s model for safeguarding wildlife works!
Basecamp Foundation Norway, Basecamp Explorer’s non-profit entity, has joined forces with its many partners in the Mara Naboisho Conservancy and the Masai Community. Its aim is to make a direct contribution to the hundreds of Masai families and thousands of wild species that depend on Mara Naboisho, by creating a corridor that protects the region.
Basecamp Explorer has 2 safari camps in the Naboisho and 1 in the Masai Mara Reserve. The home of Eagle View and Wilderness Camp, Naboisho, literally means, “coming together” in the Maasai’s Maa language and this is exactly what Basecamp Explorer aims to represent.
The corridor would allow animals to pass between the Conservancy and the National Reserve, enabling them to roam unimpeded through the area to find food and water. Basecamp Foundation aims to raise $50,000. All funds raised will go directly to the Management Company of Mara Naboisho (MANCO), a Kenya-registered non-profit organisation.
H ow to donate ? Help create a better future and safari destination by donating to this vital cause. Visit: https://www.generosity.com/animal-pet-fundraising/comingtogether-for-people-wildlife and connect with the campaign on social media using the hashtag #ComingTogether.
Mara Naboisho Conservancy is a 50,000-acre community wildlife conservation area that borders the National Reserve. It was recently recognised as Africa’s most sustainable and socially responsible destination, picking up awards as the overall winner of the African Responsible Tourism Awards at this years WTM Africa.
For more information contact Basecamp Explorer’s Marketing Manager, Petronilla Gichimu at email@example.com
The positive impact of Mara Naboisho has surpassed anything Basecamp could have imagined back in 2010. In just five years, Mara Naboisho has become a safe haven for endangered wildlife, allowing species such as cheetahs, lions, and leopards to bounce 23
Africa’s most eco-friendly destination : Mara Naboisho As the home of Eagle View and Wilderness Camps, Naboisho Conservancy, in the Masai Mara, is easy to fall in love with. But now we have another reason to admire this safari region, as it has been recognised as the continent’s most sustainable and socially responsible destination.
company with their own appointed directors who have in turn entered into a management agreement with Naboisho Conservancy, a very new concept to the Masai.
During a special ceremony at this year’s WTM Africa, Mara Naboisho Conservancy took the coveted position of Overall Winner from a selection of 24 finalists gathered from around Africa.
The community gets direct and tangible benefits from wildlife conservation, with no other activity providing as much income to as many people as Naboisho Conservancy.
The conservancy was presented as the Overall Winner of the 2016 African Responsible Tourism Awards, and picked up a Gold award for ‘Best in Wildlife Conservation’.
With these direct benefits there is less need for the community to rely on other destructive practices such as intensive farming and over grazing by large quantities of cattle.
Naboisho, was acknowledged as an area that truly and remarkably brings together community and wildlife conservation and possesses a strong commitment to educate and inspire others.
This in turn furthers the cycle for a sustainable future for community driven wildlife conservation. Naboisho Conservancy pioneered controlled livestock grazing and holistic rangeland management.
The journey of Naboisho Conservancy Naboisho was formed from the love and dedication of landowners and the local community, who recongised the need for tourism to maintain a viable environment.
For more information, please contact Hannah Cade on 01664 823750 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
94% of the 554 landowners signed over their land to a holding
knowing your tribes Do you know your Hamers from your Karos? Your Dassenachs from your Mursis? There are so many fascinating tribes living in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley. And three are shown here…but which is which? Dinknesh’s expert guides will ensure your clients know the answers to this and many more Ethiopia related questions. Contact us for more information regarding Dinknesh Ethiopia Tours. 25
E xperien ce the Masai Mara for less Losokwanâ€™s sensational special offers Nestled under croton trees, deep within the Masai Mara bush, experience absolute wilderness and privacy at the serene Losokwan Camp.
Located within the smallest conservancy in the Mara â€“ The Lemek Conservancy, Losokwan is situated in the Aitong Plains, on the site of the original Kicheche camp. This game rich area was popular with clients and operators alike, offering a front row seat to the Migration. Under new ownership, Losokwan is once again attracting discerning clients.
New exc l u sive a l l season rate
Losokwan has introduced a new rack rate that will stay consistent for a three seasons. Clients can now enjoy this wonderful safari camp for only $300 pppn (originally $450)
3 ni ghts pac k ag e for on ly $9 8 1 pp *
*Price varies depending on season. Please contact us for more info. This fantastic package includes; full board accommodation, Conservancy fees, return flights from Nairobi to Masai Mara, all meals, selected drinks, game drives, a visit to the local Aitong market and transfers. A 2 night package and child rates are also available. This offer is valid until 2017.
Stay a l itt l e lon g er and save m ore
Your clients can save up to 20% when choosing to spend more nights in the Masai Mara Game Reserve. Stay 1 -2 nights and save 10% Stay 3-4 nights and save 15% Stay 5 nights and save 20% Included in this offer is full board accommodation, Conservancy fees, all meals, soft drinks, sundowners, game drives and transfers.
Please contact Hannah Cade on 01664 823750 or email email@example.com for more details and make sure you visit Losokwanâ€™s fabulous new website www.losokwancamp.com 26
old fashioned values never go out of fashion There was a time “safari”, the Swahili word for journey, was only used in East Africa and referred to a hunting expedition in the wild. Today it has lost much of its original meaning referring to virtually any kind of visit to a game reserve, writes Roy Spicer, ‘Nostalgic Traveller’. close to nature. The hand crafted mahogany furniture, the tent design and attention to detail reflect the gracious touches of that pioneering era, with perhaps a little more comfort than they enjoyed back then.
Those original safaris enjoyed by the likes of Hemingway, Roosevelt and European Royalty were always an adventure where travellers were truly in the wild! Coupled with this was the enjoyment of some of the finer things in life such as white cotton bedding and table linen.
This peaceful camp has just 7 well spread out tents, each with great views of the Mara River. Sentinel’s high staff to guest ratio, with friendly yet discreet personalised service, will leave guests feeling special and pampered. With rates from $500 to $595.
Opulent meals were served on fine china accompanied by noble wines in cut crystal glassware. This was all the more enjoyable because of the context and the challenge associated with producing such elegance out in the bush.
For more information, rates and images visit www.sentinelmaracamp.com or please contact Hannah Cade at Kamili on 01664 823750 and firstname.lastname@example.org
Today at Sentinel Mara Camp something of the romance and adventure of that bygone era is recaptured. With no permanent structures in the camp, not only is there minimum impact on the environment, but guests enjoy an experience that is authentically
Conservation To uris m with Saba Douglas-Hamilton This summer, we caught up with Saba during her time in the UK as she told us all about Elephant Watch Camp’s approach to conservation and what’s next for Samburu.
In 2001, my mother built Elephant Watch Camp to provide eco-friendly luxury accommodation for the many people who wanted to come and experience the secret life of elephants. She employed a team of warriors from the local manyatta (Samburu villages), recycled old trees that had been knocked down by elephants to build the shelters for the tents, dug a well, and built what I believe is one of the most beautiful and eco-friendly luxury tented camps in Africa.
You have a history stemming back years in regard to wildlife, had you always wanted to start your own safari park? I was born in Kenya and grew up with my sister, Mara, in Lake Manyara National, Park during the 70’s. Our parents were in the midst of their pioneering research on wild elephant social behaviour. Once my father got his DPhil from Oxford, we moved back to Kenya. Elephants have played a big part in our lives ever since. Both my parents have been enormously inspirational to me as role models throughout my life fighting for the cause they believe in - the intrinsic right of elephants (and by extension all other creatures) to exist on this planet with or without mankind. I share their passion, and it has shaped the way I think about the world - very much from the perspective of a conservationist.
Tell us about your love of Africa? Everything feels more real in Africa - one lives much closer to the realities of life and there’s less padding. So the better sides of human nature come more often to the surface. Strangers on the street are quicker to smile or lend a hand. People are more open, less suspicious, and in general are extremely stoic, courageous and kind. And having great expanses of wilderness and open frontier to explore is hugely liberating for the human spirit.
So I think it was inevitable that I would follow in their footsteps. My work has mostly been to spread the conservation message through wildlife films, and now, as the manager of Elephant Watch Camp, I do the same by hosting people who come to Samburu to see elephants.
My early experiences with elephants had a big impact on my passion for wild things. Being charged by Boadicea, a fiery matriarch in Manyara who specialised in terrifying threat 28
â€œ Elephant Watch Camp is unlike anywhere else on earth. There are no barriers between you and nature â€?
seed pods from the Acacia tortilis trees) they live with us almost permanently.
“ We employ almost entirely from the local community and have an on-going training and education programme ”
We employ almost entirely from the local community and have an on-going training and education programme that we run jointly with Save the Elephants to help bright, but impoverished students complete their education. So far, about 100 students from the local nomadic communities have won elephant scholarships from us to attend secondary school or University, and our field trainees, mostly guides, carpenters and cooks, have gone on to find employment in some of the best safari camps and lodges in Kenya.
displays, is burned indelibly in my memory. As was my father’s explanation that she was actually desperately frightened, yet in an act of extraordinary courage was putting herself between her family and danger to protect them as they fled. Virgo, a friendly female who would come up to greet my father, showed me how gentle and interesting elephants could be if you just sat there quietly.
Have you got any other wildlife documentaries planned for the future? I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve, but at the moment I’m managing Elephant Watch Camp in Samburu which takes up most of my time. Who knows, there might be a second series of This Wild Life!
It must be amazing for your daughters - how have they found / adapted to it? Will they follow in your footsteps or do you hope they do? It has been a real pleasure watching the kids adapt to their new life amongst the Samburu, in this extraordinary environment. Whenever there’s something interesting going on with the animals I try to explain what’s happening. Meanwhile, the warriors teach them all the tricks of bush survival. They know how to fish for ant lions with stalks of grass, where the hornbills nest, the difference between a leopard and hyena track, or impala and dik dik dung.
What’s next for Saba Douglas-Hamilton? At some point I’d like to get seriously involved in family planning, or “child spacing” as they like to call it these days. The world’s burgeoning human population is an environmental disaster in the making that needs to be urgently redressed. I’m also increasingly interested in the power of education, and how in turn, young people can teach their parents. There’s so much to do and so little time!!
The twins have soaked up the languages and have become handy little interpreters, while Selkie, my eldest daughter, has taken on the role of local naturalist and will often be heard explaining to guests how to sex an elephant by looking at the shape of its forehead. Since they’re still quite little I tend to employ a warrior to keep an eye on them. They love him to bits, and he in turn is rather amused by the complexities of herding three little independently minded pixies.
For more information, rates and images for Elephant Watch Camp, please contact Hannah Cade on 01664 823750 or email email@example.com.
If people stay at your eco-lodge - what can they expect/ experience etc? Elephant Watch Camp is unlike anywhere else on earth. We specialise in elephant behaviour and are experts at being accepted right into the hearts of the elephant families, an experience I can only describe as being akin to swimming with wild dolphins. Our knowledge is based upon 18 years of research by Save the Elephants (STE), of a known population of about 1000 elephants. Our guides are local Samburu warriors who marry their extensive traditional knowledge with the latest scientific research, to treat our guests to the magical insights that are mostly only experienced by STE researchers. But we’re not interested only in elephants. We know the lions and leopards just as well and are closely linked to Ewaso Lions, an NGO that works to improve relationships between nomads and predators that originated under STE’s umbrella. We’re equally passionate about every animal, bird or insect in Samburu. Our food is exquisite, and the Camp itself is extremely luxurious while at the same time being highly sensitive to the fragility of the environment, pioneering a way forward in conservation tourism. The lovely thing about Elephant Watch is that there are no barriers between you and nature. Bull elephants wander through camp at all times of day and night, and in the sagaram season (the juicy 31
This summer, Uganda launches its first ever tourism campaign in the UK, coordinated by Kamageo. Whilst famous for its worldrenowned mountain gorilla encounters, Uganda has a wealth of other wildlife, culture, birding and adventure activities to appeal to a wide range of visitors. Hence our campaign – “Your Uganda” – as you can make of the country what you personally want. In the coming weeks and months, Kamageo will be providing you with plenty of opportunities to not only improve your own product knowledge regarding Uganda but also help to increase sales of Ugandan holidays to your potential clients. Why not request copies of our comprehensive new ‘Destination Guide’ and ‘Selling Uganda Guide’ or visit our online training package, all of which will be available later this summer. Do contact us to arrange one-to-one training in your offices or look out for Uganda training days at venues across the UK including at the Ugandan High Commission in London. Now is also the time to express your interest in participating in one of our fully funded educational trips, giving you the opportunity to experience the wonders of Uganda for yourself. We’ll cover the ground costs, park fees and accommodation, so you simply need to organise international flights. Places are limited and subject to approval, so contact Sasha Brunt at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to our list! In terms of marketing support, you should contact us with ideas for joint promotional opportunities such as local events, magazine/ travel show support etc. Whilst we have only a modest budget, we’re open to innovative and exciting ideas. Account Director, Kirstine Vercoe is your contact (email@example.com). We’ll have a good library of images, useable text content, rates, general information and lodge specific information available through the website : www.ugandaresources.com which will be online very soon. We’re also arranging for numerous top media journalists to visit and write about Uganda in the coming months. Why not talk to us about sponsoring their flights in order to benefit from the resultant editorial coverage? Chat to Adele Cutler our PR Director about the opportunities (firstname.lastname@example.org) And finally, why not follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook @visitugandaUK
YOUR UGANDA Discover
10 G R E AT Parks to dis c over Your Uganda Uganda ‘The Pearl of Africa’ has 10 national parks providing the best that East Africa has to offer. Travellers will encounter many different cultures and wildlife all linked by the smile and warmth that defines the people of Uganda.
Kidepo Valley National Park:
This National park lies in the far northeast of Uganda at the Karamoja region. Kidepo Valley NP has high biodiversity, with a strong wilderness atmosphere, rugged mountain scenery and exceptional game viewing and bird watching.
Murchison Fall s National Park :
Uganda’s largest and oldest conservation area, hosts 76 species of mammals and 451 species of birds. Murchison lies in North-Western Uganda, spreading inland from the shore of Lake Albert around the Victoria Nile.
Mount Elgon National Par k:
Declared as a UNESCO Biosphere reserve, Mount Elgon NP is home to over 300 species of birds. Small antelopes, forest monkeys, elephants and buffaloes also can be found at this extensive conservation area.
Semliki National Par k:
Semliki is one of the most ancient bio-diverse forests, dominated by the eastern most extension of the Ituri Forest of the Congo Basin. Its fauna is very rich, especially its 400+ bird species.
Queen Elizabeth National Park:
Uganda’s most popular destination is located within the Albertine Rift Valley near Rwenzori Mountains. QENP, designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve for Humanity, is an ideal habitat for classic big game, ten primate species including chimpanzees and over 600 species of birds, including Shoebill.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park:
The Rwenzoris, well known as “Mountains of the Moon”, lie in western Uganda along the border with Congo. The Rwenzoris are a worldclass hiking and mountaineering destination; their snow peaks include the third highest point in Africa, while the lower slopes are a moist montane forest with huge tree-heathers and colourful mosses.
Lake Mb uro National Park:
The smallest of Uganda’s Savannah National Parks, Lake Mburo is home to 350 bird species as well as leopard, hippo, buffalo and reedbuck.
Kibale National Par k: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park:
Bwindi lies in South-Western Uganda on the edge of the Rift Valley. The park is most recognised for the 340 Bwindi Mountain Gorillas, half of the world’s population. Although it is also a sanctuary for the chimpanzees, many birds and the Colobus monkeys. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994 due to its ecological importance.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park:
Mgahinga sits high in the clouds, at an altitude between 2,227m and 4,127m. It forms part of Virunga Conservation Area, which includes adjacent parks in Congo and Rwanda. Home of the indigenous Batwa pygmies, Mgahinga was created to protect mountain gorillas and also other primates such as golden monkeys.
Kibale National Forest has one of the highest concentrations of primates in Africa. Chimpanzee trekking and Chimpanzee habituation experiences are some of the main tourism attractions. The park is home to 13 species of primate, 325 species of birds and 70 other species of mammals.
u ganda’ s forgotten forest people
I couldn’t help smiling. Whilst the plight of the Batwa tribe of Uganda is a story filled with sadness, sharing just a few moments with these fascinating former forest dwellers is such an uplifting and joyous occasion, as they chatter and laugh out loud at my feeble attempts to replicate their hunting skills
Even the length of time spent together illustrates that they are increasingly being taken seriously as a half-day is dedicated to meeting with the tribe and learning something of their lifestyle.
We met with Ellen, our translater at the UWA headquarters in Mgahinga National Park, from where the enthusiastic band of huntsmen took us along windy pathways deep into the forest. There were three tribes in their distant past, who split and adopted different ways of life : the farmers who worked the land; the herdsmen who cared for cattle and the hunter gatherers who made their homes amongst the trees. During the hours we spent together, we learnt much of their all important hunting skills; and the various forms of plant life that provides the Batwa not only with food and medicine, but also ways of connecting with their ancestors. We watched as they created fire with a few twists of wood (no tinder, flint or matches to be found here) and were educated regarding their unique ways of storing food and then cooking it for communal feasting. And of course, we were treated to a display of distinctive dancing with fluid and vibrant moves to put even the finest dancefloor groovers to shame. As the light dipped, we were treated to one final highlight. As we made our way into the forest cave as the sun dropped beneath the skyline, we blinked at the bare walls only to see them come to life as countless Batwa people emerged from the rock formations to welcome us with open arms.
Driven from their former homes in the tropical rainforests of western Uganda, the Batwa remain passionate about their history and are clearly delighted to share some of their past and present with us. There’s a real sense of sharing experiences, rather than simply being entertained or that the Batwa are some kind of theatrical sideshow act.
A ‘Batwa encounter’ could easily be a Disney-esque moment, but pleasingly because the Batwa themselves seem to be directing things, it feels like a true sharing experience that I’d encourage you to try for yourself. 36
Be part of GORILLA habituation Visitors can now have a â€˜once in a lifetimeâ€™ experience assisting researchers to habituate gorillas to human presence Tracking Mountain Gorillas in the mist, on the steep hills of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is without a doubt one of Africas top wildlife attractions. Seeing these majestic creatures in their natural habitat as they go about their daily routines is truly unforgettable. Uganda is the only place in the world to currently offer the rare opportunity to spend a full day with researchers and conservationists as they undertake the tracking and gentle habituation of a new gorilla family. For gorillas to become habituated to the presence of humans is a long and gentle process, that takes up to five years. Each family group of gorillas is exposed to park rangers on a daily basis. Over the period, the rangers presence becomes more frequent and they make closer and closer contact. Once the group is deemed ready, paying clients can then spend a magical hour in their company. Two groups are currently available for this habituation experience in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. By participating in this unique experience, a client is supporting the critical work needed to ensure their survival, but it is not for the faint hearted. Steep terrains, high altitude and dense vegetation means a good level of fitness is required to get to these amazing creatures. Clients also need to be briefed that due to the nature of this programme, gorilla sightings may not always be to the level as standard treks, but the time spent with the gorillas is obviously often far longer. 39
BEST c hi m p viewin g on the p l anet ? Over the last decade, I’ve been lucky enough to trek for chimpanzees on numerous occasions in seven different rainforest locations across Africa – in Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Congo. So I guess I’m reasonably well placed to ‘compare and contrast’, before saying where I think the best of chimp encounters are to be had.
which last around 3 hours, including a standard 60-minutes spent with the chimps. But they also offer a full-day Chimpanzee Habituation Experience (or ‘Nest to Nest’, as we prefer to call it), which allows visitors to assist researchers and trackers by visiting the Bulaiga chimp community which is in the final stages of habituation. As Godfrey Balyesiima, the tourist warden at Kibale puts it “Early Visitors can see chimps leaving their overnight nests around 6.15 before watching them feed, hunt, rest, patrol, display…even copulate until it is time to build new nests around dusk”.
Uganda is clearly out there as the No.1 country, given its numerous habituated chimp locations, just ahead of Tanzania, whilst the single best location is perhaps more hotly disputed. So here are my thoughts... Personally, I find the sad plight of the chimps in the Kyambura Gorge fascinating and the frequent drumming behaviour of the inhabitants of Budongo equally alluring. Whilst in Tanzania, Jane Goodall’s links with Gombe Forest - where you can literally be brushed past by famous chimps like Freud, Frodo and Merlin - and the stunning beauty of Mahale (where the forest meets with the beach), makes those two locations hugely attractive too. Meantime the less visited status of Rwanda’s Nyungwe and Congo only add to their adventurous appeal.
Take me back to Kibale again soon!
But for me, there’s nowhere that delivers quite such amazing chimpanzee encounters with the frequency or quality as Kibale Forest in Uganda. With a total population of 1450 chimps and over 120 in the main habituated community*, the chances of a truly memorable moment spent with these apes is so much more likely. And with the chimps sharing the forest with an impressive 13 other primate species, other great sightings are high on the agenda, too. (*Note that the community includes numerous splinter groups, so it would be highly unusual to see them in such large numbers). Kibale (pronounced with a kib- or chib- depending on which part of Uganda you are from) offers morning and afternoon treks 40
THE wonder of the bi g odi wet lands A community led project where it can be difficult deciding which way to look first You will rarely encounter as many different primate species in such a short space of time, in such close proximity, as visitors frequently do in the Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary, located just outside Kibale National Park. On occasions, there seem to be so many different species surrounding you, simply choosing which way to point your eyes, binoculars or camera lens can be a quality challenge to have. We counted eight primates on our last visit – with Black and White Colobus; Red Colobus; Olive Baboons; Vervet Monkeys; L’Hoest’s Monkeys; Red-tailed Monkeys; Sykes Monkeys and Grey-Cheeked Mangabeys all offering great photo opportunities. And this is all within a 2-3 hour fairly easy meander around the 4.5km circular trail, which winds its way around the wetlands, on the edge of the cultivated fields and the village. Part of the walk is on forest trails and some on raised wooden platforms above the swamp, whilst there is a great viewing tower, allowing for extended views over the area. The site also hosts over 200 bird species, notably including the Great Blue Turaco, so it clearly has plenty of appeal to birders. Look out for some of the charming crafts created by local children, too Launched with the Kibale Association For Rural & Economic Development (KATFRED) back in 1992, it is now widely recognised as one of the leading community-led projects in the whole of East Africa that has aided both conservation of the wetland environment, the wildlife and the community who have prospered on the back of the revenues earned.
MU RC H I S ON MOVES UP Murchison Falls National Park, I feel I owe you an apology. And, Tom Okello, I owe you an immense debt of gratitude, writes Tim Henshall.
The national park is split by the River Nile, with the game-rich northern side accounting for only a third of the landmass, but around 80% of the game, which includes over 130 lions. The park was even home to white rhinos until 1983 and the species, along with others, may be reintroduced in the not too distant future, assuming suitable conservation initiatives can be achieved.
Why? Well, I’ve visited this park a good few times over the last decade and until now, I’d somehow never realised what a magnificent, game-rich wonderland it actually is!
Translocation across the Nile is another of their lofty ambitions and the movement of a family of pretty Rothschild’s Giraffes, resplendent in their white stocking-clad legs, was the focal point of a superb BBC-TV documentary earlier this year.
Tom Okello is Uganda Wildlife Authority’s (UWA) Assistant Director for Murchison Falls National Park and his vision for Uganda’s largest national park (3,840 sq km), has seen significant increases in wildlife numbers during his 5-year tenure.
The elusive Shoebill Stork, a “mega-tick” for birders, struts along the edge of the Nile in Murchison’s swamplands, with almost 20 birds now believed to be resident within the park boundaries.
He attributes much of the success to the hard-earned but unfaltering support UWA receives from the park’s local communities, who in turn receive a full 20% of the park fees taken from MFNP’s 60,000 annual visitors.
With hot-air balloon safaris recently added to the impressive list of activities, which already included great game-driving, boat trips, rafting expeditions, fabulous birding and visits to the Falls themselves, Murchison Falls has become an all but essential ingredient in a Uganda itinerary.
The park hosts 76 large mammal species including over 35,000 Ugandan Kobs, along with healthy populations of Jackson’s Hartebeest, Rothschild’s Giraffes and over 1200 Elephants.
R A F I S A S TA K E N O O L L A C H R I U S B O M N T A F F O
Dream Balloons Co. has recently launched balloon safaris in Ugandaâ€™s Murchison Falls NP, where they are currently sole providers. Flying over this game rich park is a real treat and they offer equally attractive rates. Established in 2007, in Egypt, theyâ€™ve been registered in Uganda since 2011. They are fully certified by the Ugandan Civil Aviation Authorities (CAA), Uganda Wildlife Authorities (UWA), NEMA and UCC to operate within National parks. Flights last approximately one hour and they include free transfers from a variety of local lodges. Prices start at just $250 and are bookable via your Ugandan DMC or direct via email@example.com. See www.dreamballoons.co.ug
Maho gan y Spring s : crowned U ganda’ s most lux u rio u s lodge 2 016 At the recent LUX 2016 Hospitality Awards, Mahogany Springs was acclaimed as the ‘Best Luxury Safari Lodge’ in Uganda and also scooped an award for its outstanding customer service. Dealing in the world of all things glamorous, LUX recognised Mahogany’s excellent contribution to enhancing its guest’s safari experience. The lodge’s 8 spacious suites feature large windows and glass double doors, allowing for panoramic views of the beautiful surrounding area.
Nku ringo Bwindi g ori l l a lodge Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla lodge is an award winning, eco friendly property that provides affordable mid-range and upmarket accommodation in the southern part of Bwindi. They also offer adventurous walking safaris through sister company, Nkuringo Walking Safaris. Recently emerging as the winner of ‘Uganda’s Leading Safari Lodge 2016 category’ it beat some well known and established leading lodges in this sought after area. Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge has four intimately hand crafted en-suite cottages, six ensuite Virunga Terrace rooms and a Family cottage that sleeps up to five people.
A complete rebuild in Uganda’s prime Chimpanzee location There’s been no ‘hanging’ around at Primate Lodge, Kibale where renovations have taken the lodge to a whole new level A complete rebuild of the accommodation has been undertaken, with the previous safari tents at the lodge being replaced with nine luxury cottages. Constructed using local materials by local designers, the cottages feature large, floor-to-ceiling french-style doors and windows giving 180 degree views of the rainforest, which creates a unique sense of ‘bringing the outdoors in’. All of the en-suite rooms have traditional, comfortable furnishings and create the perfect place to relax after primate adventures. Primate Lodge is not only in the most idyllic location in the forest, but it is just 5 minutes walk from the Park headquarters to the start of a chimpanzee trek and other activities in the park. Kibale Forest National Park has the greatest variety and concentration of primates found anywhere in Africa. There are over thirteen different primate species, including almost 1500 chimpanzees, with a community of 120 habituated chimps, allowing for outstanding chimp viewing. 2016 rates are from £162 per person per night.
For more information or booking please contact firstname.lastname@example.org 46
B B C FI LMing new series in Uganda
The BBC’s world renowned Natural History Unit is currently staying at Bakers’ Lodge in Murchison whilst filming a secret project for an exciting new BBC1 wildlife series, to be shown early in 2017. We can’t give away too much, but look out for some amazing footage taken using a series of incredible robotic animals on the River Nile. Here’s top producer, Rob Burgess who’s leading the BBC-TV team in Uganda.
S sese : a T ropica l H ideaway The tranquil Ssese islands boast some stunning white sand beaches, offering time to relax, enjoy a canoe ride or forest walk. Brovad Sands Lodge is tucked away on the charming Island of Bugala, surrounded by tropical gardens right on the beach front. Accommodation is in 13 private cottages set in beautiful gardens. Deluxe poolside rooms also have beach views. A ferry leaves Entebbe each day and a 3 hour journey across the lake takes you to Bugala where the lodge will collect clients. Double rooms are $150 per night based on a full board package. www.sseseislandsresorthotel.com 47
S ou th Afri ca’ s premier wa lkin g safaris Pafuri Camp and Pafuri Walking Trails are back, under new ownership and are arguably better than ever
Walk into the wilderness at Pafuri, where baobabs reign, fever tree forests blossom and The Big Five roam - Pafuri’s varied landscapes really do create unrivalled walking country.
clients the opportunity to experience one of Kruger’s remotest corners on foot. Forming only 1% of the park, the Pafuri region still features a whopping 75% of its biodiversity!
Pheno mena l Lands capes
In the safe company of experienced field guides, the trail allows clients a close-up experience of untamed Africa. Gain a true sense of wilderness and camp under the stars by the the Luvuvhu River in their seasonal bush camp, or for a luxurious experience, stay at their 5* lodge.
Kruger National Park boasts South Africa’s greatest concentration and diversity of species. Highlights of the Pafuri experience include Crook’s Corner, where the Luvuvhu and Limpopo Rivers meet; Lanner Gorge, named after the Lanner Falcon; and the magical Fever Tree Forest.
The Walking trails are a minimum of two nights starting from just R3 960, Full Board. They do sell fast so we recommend early booking wherever possible.
Let You r Footsteps D o T he D is c overing with paf u ri ’ s ‘ wa l k ing trai l s ’
For more information contact Mandy Henshall on 01664 823750 or email@example.com
Open from April to October, Pafuri is renowned for offering
RETURNafrica has launched scheduled flights and desirable package deals, making the Pafuri Collection even more accessible for safari enthusiasts.
Fly- ins f ro m Job u rg On Mondays and Fridays from Johannesburg Grand Central Airport, fly into the Pafuri airstrip (10 minutes from camp) for a return price of R7,900.
Monday fly-ins have a maximum stay of 4 nights Friday fly-ins have a maximum stay of 3 nights
P er f ec t pafu ri Pac kages
We were blown away by the beauty of this pristine area... 180-degree views over the Luvuvhu River from our own deck; 1500 year old baobab trees; unique fever tree forests; drives to Lanner Gorge and Crook’s Corner and the attentive local Makuleke staff all made our visit so memorable Ingrid Gorter, GoSouthAfrica
To accompany the new flights, Pafuri has also created two fabulous packages, for its walking trails and luxury safari camp. Depart on a Monday and stay 4 nights in one of the 19 stylish tents at Pafuri Camp for R19,300, which includes accommodation, return flight to Joburg, selected beverages and game activities. To see options for a Friday departure and for more details on the camp package, visit www.returnafrica.com/offers/pafuri-fly-inspecials Alternatively, guests can explore the bush on foot with Pafuri’s Walking Trails. Prices start from R13,358 with the choice of either a Monday or Friday departure. 49
the Pafu ri pro f essiona l s We all know that safari guides can be the making of a client’s holiday. We also believe that Pafuri Camp and Pafuri Walking Trails have some of the best guides in South Africa.
We asked Pafuri to give us more details and information on the guides who are helping grab so much attention at its camp and on its walking trails.
Pafu ri ’ s lo ca l l e g end - E z aya Chauk e “The best part of my job is sharing stories about the African bush, especially the place where I grew up. I feel my background allows me to unite my Tsonga culture with the natural beauty of Pafuri”.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
Ezaya draws inspiration from his mother – “As a single parent she remained strong when she could have given up. She has made me the person I am today. Guiding has allowed me to combine my interests and passions in a way that I find deeply rewarding.”
The Tale of the Barn Owl
The path to success
“To see one of these beautiful birds land on a house in the village is thought to bring bad luck because the villagers believe it is sent by a witch. And I can guarantee you that none of them have ever read Harry Potter!”
Ezaya started his studies with the SA Wildlife College as a Nature Guide in 2008. He completed his FGASA Level 1 Field Guide qualification in 2009 with Eco Training, continuing with a Tourism Guiding qualification through the African Safari Foundation and African Adventure Specialists.
“Telling my guests these stories brings the animals to life and gives them a new meaning”
He has guided in the Pilanesberg National Park with Mankwe Game Trackers and throughout southern Africa with Drifters before coming home to join the RETURNAfrica Pafuri team.
What’s your favourite safari activity?
“I prefer walking as you are so close to nature – the smells, sounds, sights and the feel of being at one with the wilderness”.
Using culture to protect the bush
Funniest client stories
Ezaya’s favorite animals and birds are closely linked to his culture and beliefs. He says “Undoubtedly my favourite animal is the eland because it has such a special meaning in my culture.
“We both laughed out loud when I explained to one of my guests that she was looking at a warthog and not a baby rhino as she had thought.
Women that have not had children are not permitted to eat its meat, but we highly value eating meals together as friends or family, so nobody else is allowed to eat the meat of the eland when the woman is present. This has provided protection for this magnificent creature in the wild”.
Another guest once pleaded for me to find them a lion, which is of course quite a common request. Pleasingly we did have a lion sighting that day- a large female seen whilst we were walking! I felt pleased that I was able to fulfill his request but his only comment was “No, I want to see a male lion”! In the wild you can’t promise any specific sightings - it certainly helps if clients open up to all the wonders of the bush.” 50
believe there are any stupid questions. “We have all been there, not knowing much about the bush. I’m pretty sure I asked some peaches back in the day!”
mike Kirby l eads the way for Pa fu ri ’ s Walk in g T rai l s For Mike, working in the bush while sharing knowledge with his guests is the favourite part of his job.
Mike feels right at home in Pafuri, with its remoteness a definite plus for him
Walking is his preference; “You connect with nature far better with the earth under your feet, away from the grumble of the cruiser engine. Driving allows you to see more and cover more ground, but the freedom and whole experience is far better on foot”.
“It’s great to work with people who are on holiday. There’s always a good vibe. And what a privilege to know that you are helping them build memorable experiences.”
Mike studied with EcoTraining at their Mashatu, Selati, Karongwe and Makuleke campuses completing his basic guiding qualification and then moving on to specialist courses in tracking, birding and trails guiding. Today, he is one of RETURNAfrica’s lead trails guides at Pafuri.
Let your footsteps do the discovering
“There is nothing quite as impressive as a big male lion or a big bull elephant, especially when you’re on foot!” Another firm favourite is the hyena. “They get a bad rap but they are in fact one of the most fascinating animals of the African bush.” Mike is also a keen birder. “The African Crowned Eagle takes the cake – its size and beauty make it the king of the skies. But I also love the smaller species – watching the tiny Firefinches flit around camp can be just as rewarding.”
Funniest client stories
One of Mike’s funniest moments was when a guest exclaimed - “oh look, a baby deer!” – referring to a Sharpe’s Grysbok, one of Kruger’s tiny antelopes. Having said that, Mike does not 51
Combine Pafuri with Tuli an Unbelievab le 6 ni ght pac kag e for $3 060
Together they offer a superb safari combo, linking Botswanaâ€™s Northern Tuli Game Reserve with South Africaâ€™s Kruger National Park
Pafu ri Camp Northern Kruger
Both properties are located on the legendary Limpopo River and were fully rebuilt after the floods of 2013. They are of a similar standard whilst offering a truly unique safari experience in scenically different locations.
Number of rooms : 19 Luxury level : 4*+ Game viewing : 6/10 www.returnafrica.com
Dramatically different to the typical safari environment, both properties are tucked away in remote areas, each surrounded by phenomenal landscapes. Tuli is in South East Botswana, although the terrain is hugely different to the remainder of the country, whilst Pafuri is in Northern Kruger close to the borders of both Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
This special package offers 3 nights at both camps This price includes : flight transfers to and from OR Tambo, transfer between Tuli and Pafuri, all accommodation, two guided game activities per day (drive or walk), all meals, teas/coffees, sundowner allowance, water, laundry, bed levy & VAT. Excludes : SA National Park fees, gratuities, curio purchases, laundry.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for road transfer and accommodation only prices 52
T u l i S afari Lo d g e Tuli Block
Number of rooms : 10 Luxury level : 5* Game viewing : 8/10 www.tulilodge.com
What does the trade think of new Tuli? Back from recent trips to Botswana, Miles Barber, of Theobald Barber and Richard Smith of Aardvark Safaris, tell us what they think of Tuli Safari Lodge. Tuli is situated in the Northern Tuli Game Reserve, next to the legendary Limpopo River, a unique and historically significant location, where Botswana meets its neighbours Zimbabwe and South Africa at the confluence of two great rivers, the Limpopo and the Shashe.
“A lovely green oasis in a wonderful setting, right on the banks of the Limpopo.”
Miles “loves the area” and found the 4-hour drive from Johannesburg to be “easy and gentle.” He feels the rates at Tuli compare well to others in the area and praises the “contemporary style and un-regimented structure which create less of a hotel atmosphere”. Meanwhile Richard from Aardvark was suitiably impressed with new look Tuli especially the new rooms built in 2014. In particular, Richard praised the beauty of the region, the lodge’s hides and was excited by the prospect of them adding a larger traversing area in the near future to facilitate longer stays. With rich ecological and cultural history, the lodge often describes itself as offering a ‘safari with soul’. They offer a range of fantastic photography opportunities from their various hides, bush walks, night drives, sleep outs and community visits.
For more information on Tuli Safari Lodge please contact Hannah on 01664 823750 or email@example.com. Also, make sure you visit www.tulilodge.com 54
the pac k is bac k at m uc henje Tembo, and flows southeast along the Zambian border. Along this line, it meanders in a maze of channels within a wide swampy corridor. The Chobe continues in its slow journey across the neck of the Caprivi before arriving at the border between Namibia and Botswana.
The Muchenje guiding team has been delighted to show its clients the Wild Dog pack which has returned to the Chobe Forest Reserve, as it pleasingly seems to do each year. By comparing the images of the individual dogs that have been digitally captured by countless guests and Muchenje staff over the last few years, it’s been fairly easy for the lodge managers to match the spots and markings on the same Alpha male and female from the past.
Whatever the season, whatever the river is doing, The Chobe has a story to tell every guest. Visit Muchenje’s new website www.muchenje.com - for a fresh look at the lodge and more information on the magnificent area.
If they do den again this year, Muchenje hopes to have Wild Dog puppies in the near future, which would be great for this endangered species.. and equally good news for Muchenje clients, too. Thanks to guide, Sinack Nawanawafani, for the great pic, which shows the wound this dog suffered from a kudu horn.
T he f loods have f ina l ly arrived
Every year the annual flood below Muchenje Safari Lodge is greatly anticipated, and no more so than this year. With the annual rains in Botswana being at record lows for more than 30 years, the outlook for 2016 was looking bleak. Whilst the absence of rain offered guests spectacular gamedrives with the lack of lush vegetation making sightings easier. However, this has also brought a lack of food and animals have risked starving to death. So it was a great relief when in midMarch, the Chobe flooded with a flourish! The rising levels were recorded daily by Muchenje’s guides and the excitement spread to the guests who posted pictures on Facebook and Twitter.
Arrival into Muchenje is cooler than ever! Don’t forget that the lodge offers air-conditioned comfortable minibus transfers as opposed to a game-drive vehicle which can be a bit bumpy and a little exposed for the 40-minute transfer to the lodge.
The Chobe rises in the central Angola in the foothills of Mount 55
African Bush Camps : Leading the way Zimbabwe has long held a reputation for producing some of Africa’s best professional guides. Is this merely bush legend, or are Zimbabwe’s guides legendary?
Once completed, the learner guide has to go through an extensive week-long practical examination to ensure his guiding, knowledge and firearm skills will ensure the safety of any guests whom he will guide in the future. Such rigorous training programmes require true dedication and it is this level of passion for the work that builds the reputation of a legendary guide.
Google “how to become a safari guide” and numerous field guiding courses appear- some completed within a matter of weeks. By contrast to obtain a Professional Guides Licence in Zimbabwe, an extensive training process is enforced. Firstly, learner guides have to undertake a theoretical examination covering ecology, vegetation, geography, birds and wildlife, first aid, firearms and ballistics, as well as environmental and tourism laws. On passing this, aspiring guides enter an apprenticeship lasting a minimum of two years.
Guiding was a founding principle of African Bush Camps, and remains at the very heart of what an African Bush Camp safari is about. In order to consistently increase and refresh the knowledge, passion and experience of the guiding teams, African Bush Camps held its first Guides Gathering at Somalisa Camp, Hwange National Park during February 2016.
During this time, they are under the tutelage of a qualified guide and gain extensive experience working in the bush shadowing professional guides. This includes fulfilling a certain number of hours conducting walking safaris, game drives and hunting safaris.
The full compliment of 20 resident guides, both professional and learner, from the various camps across Zimbabwe and Botswana were brought together for an intensive weeks training course.
“ I’ve been wanting to do this for some time now, bring everyone together in one place. The interaction, sharing and learning that is going on is incredibly valuable. ” Nik Polenakis, Head of Guide Training 56
“ The most powerful part of the training has been that revival of the spirit of being a guide and forming bonds with the rest of the team across the African Bush Camps portfolio ” Peter Gava, Professional Guide.
The course was aimed at ensuring the highest standards of guiding practice across the African Bush Camps portfolio. Specialist speakers were brought in including Paul Hubbard a highly renowned guide, lecturer, and archaeologist in Zimbabwe; Shaun McMinn a talented wildlife photographer and film-maker; Richard Hoare the Conservation Manager at African Bush Camps; a team from African Bush Camps Foundation and various other specialists within management.
“The most powerful part of the training has been that revival of the spirit of being a guide and forming bonds with the rest of the team across the African Bush Camps portfolio.”
The days started with a 5am wake-up call followed by game drives, walking and rifle handling activities. Meal times were set aside for sharing of area specific knowledge, and insight into different aspects of tourism, conservation and guiding.
Peter Gava, Professional Guide.
The afternoons were dedicated to specialist presentations, ranging from topics including anthropology, the geological history and make-up of Sub-Saharan Africa; to human / wildlife conflict and the importance of supporting conservation projects; the impact and plan for projects run by African Bush Camps Foundation; through to guest expectations and marketing communication as well as photographic techniques. The enthusiasm and dedication from each of the guides was visible. “It’s a time for sharing experiences and knowledge, a time for learning.” - Cloud Magondo, Professional Guide at Kanga Camp African Bush Camps is confident that the recent training will have outstanding effects on the quality of guiding in the camps and that the ultimate benefit will be for the guests and the incredible guiding experience they will have across the portfolio of camps.
For more information on African Bush Camps, please contact Kirstine on 01664 823750 or email firstname.lastname@example.org 57
ON REFLECTION, one of LIVING STONEâ€™ S FINEST Open for a little over three years, River Farmhouse is recognised as being one of the most beautiful places to stay near Victoria Falls. Whilst its just 30-minutes from the Falls themselves, itâ€™s also a world away with a tranquil setting of private gardens and a stylish infinity pool that both overlook the might Zambezi River and across to Zimbabwe on the opposite bank. Located just 350 metres from sister property, Waterberry Zambezi Lodge, the River Farmhouse has responded to the growing trend for private safari houses as the entire place is only available to one booking at a time. The two ensuite doubles and two-twin rooms (both with private bathrooms) lead onto a large communal area. The private chef and house manager ensure every wish is met, along with the private guide who offers exclusive use of both a boat and road vehicle.
Visit www.riverfarmhouse.com 58
nothin g stands sti l l at c ha k a , seren g eti This May, Chaka Camp relocated to follow the Great Wildebeest Migration in the Serengeti It has just turned Winter in Tanzania, but there are no grey days at Chaka Camp. Ready for the new season, Chaka is now located in Kogatende in Northern Serengeti, just 10 minutes from the Mara River. It has also been tastefully updated ready to welcome your clients.
Ranked at an impressive #12 out of 107 Speciality Lodging in Serengeti National Park (Trip Advisor), and with rack rates as appealing as $270pppn, now is the time for your clients to experience Chaka Camp.
Although owner Stacy Readalâ€™s feminine touch has always been apparent throughout the camp, it is now looking more stylish than ever, whilst still preserving a traditional African feel. In the bedrooms, new curtains and throw carpets have been added, with no compromise on comfort. The large mess area has been separated into two slightly smaller tents â€“ one for dining and one for relaxing (next to the bar!) Lavish upholstery with elegant patterns and vibrant artwork, flow through both new tents, all sourced from artisans in Arusha.
For more information, images and rates, please contact Hannah Cade on 01664 823750 or email email@example.com. Visit www.chakacamp.com
Glowing reviews for Serengeti camp Romantic private dining by candlelight is standard at Kiota Camp in the Serengeti. Chaka’s sister property prides itself on delicious cuisine and outstanding customer service – although they prefer golden moments to golden taps at this luxurious camp! Nestled on the side of Banagi Hill, Kiota offers sweeping views over the Serengeti plains. It is a year round camp that is perfectly positioned for wildlife viewing and capturing the Great Wildebeest Migration in the Seronera Valley and nearby areas.
here is no less than remarkable. Service was better than any fivestar resort (as was the food!)”, whilst another said “The chef is amazing. This was the best food we have had in Tanzania.”
The chef, Godwin Simba, delivers a creative blend of traditional Tanzanian and delightful western flavours to each meal. The camp has high eco-standards, operating off-the-grid, whilst all furniture has been built by local artisans in Arusha. Kiota has style and charisma with beautiful fabrics and soft furnishings throughout the 9 en-suite safari tents.
Rack rates start from just $270pppn, and make sure your clients experience a Hot Air Balloon Safari across the Serengeti Plains from Kiota Camp!
Guests recently commented; “What an incredible camp; it exceeded our wildest imagination and expectations.” One guest raved, “The chef was truly fantastic. What you have accomplished
For more information, images and rates, please contact Hannah Cade on 01664 823750 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.kiotacamp.com
Adopting a more creative approach to guide training. Learning to understand the behaviour of the greatest of all the great apes is helping Takims Holidays become an even better Tanzania DMC Whilst the Takims’ guides found the content of their course somewhat curious, they enjoyed what they learnt and the results are already showing that this innovative approach will enhance guest experiences and further separate Takims from the rest of the pack.
Takims Holidays has an unwavering commitment not only to being different but to delivering a well-thought out, caring experience for clients. It doesn’t just work hard, it works smart - spending time to consider how and what they do, as well as innovative ways they might go about doing it. Just one example is on-going training for guides. It recognises it’s not all about knowledge of the ecosystem and wildlife behavior, but amongst many other things, its also awareness and being sensitive to your clients needs. So Takims takes training that one step further. Whilst guides have recently completed intensive mammal training, they’ve also undergone training which included understanding human behaviours. Yes, you read correctly. Human behaviours. During practical and theoretical sessions, guides received enhanced training on how to deal with various personality traits, reading body language, understanding unspoken needs, effective communication methods and an understanding of cultural differences. With these skills, guides can treat guests as unique individuals, rather than conveyor belt clients who should all conform to the same stereotypes.
For more information and itineraries visit www.takimsholidays.com or contact Tehsin Takim email@example.com 63
Luxu ry in the heart of A rusha Located on the Northern boundary of Arusha National Park, Hatari Lodge added further luxury to itâ€™s offering in 2015, with 3 new and exclusive villas - perfect for newlyweds and families. Enhancing the Hatari experience and comfort level, 3 luxury villas have been built for honeymooners and families.
Ac tivities for every exp lorer Hatari Lodge takes guests into Arusha National Park, for walking safaris, game drives and canoeing on Momella Lakes. The walking here is lovely, and the scenery incredibly picturesque.
Situated in acacia woodland, all the villas boast views onto both Mount Meru & Mount Kilimanjaro. Each of the new rooms has been dedicated to the three big mammals roaming Arusha National Park: elephant, buffalo and giraffe.
Guests can also climb Mount Meru, hike the majestic Ngurdoto Crater and get up close and personal with monkeys at Tululusia Waterfalls.
Each boasts a different colour tone, metal icons and embroidery of their symbolic animal. The interiors have been inspired by bygone Swahili style mixed with the famous Hatari homemade dĂŠcor.
Rack rates start from just $338 pppn. Visit www.hatarilodge.de
Ideally suited for generational travel, each of the villas can sleep a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 6 people. These new villas provide the client with a more exclusive, spacious and private safari experience.
For more information, please contact Hannah Cade on 01664 823750 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
roman c e in the foothi ll s of Kili manjaro In Maijo’s language, Maa, “Shu’mata” means “above the clouds” or “heaven”. This luxurious haven, made up of a handful of tents in Hemingway style, is a piece of the very magic of which East Africa is made. Shu’mata is not within a national park but ancient tribal lands where Africa’s wildlife peacefully coexists with the cattle and goats of the Masai. The camp sits at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, deep in traditional Masai land, in an area known as the South or Private Amboseli. Five large tents, form a line on a hill with magnificent views in all directions. Each tent has an en-suite bathroom decorated colourfully with Masai art and its own veranda with stunning views. Outside, under the great African sky, the open fireplace adds a true feeling of adventure and safari romance. At the front of the property, bush savannah melts into the slopes of Kilimanjaro, towering above into the blue skies of Africa, so close that on a moonlit night, details of the glaciers can be visible. Seasonally the surrounding savannah bush teems with wildlife, but at Shu’mata, there is more on offer than game alone. Here the emphasis is placed upon how the wildlife and local Masai live together and on making the most of the stunning surroundings with a picnic on Kilimanjaro, walking the Shira Plateau and trips out with the lions guardians. The lodge also offers a Masai naturalist walk, night game drives and a Masai Boma visit. Rack rates start from just $548 per person per night. Visit www.shumatacamp.de
For more information, please contact Hannah Cade on 01664 823750 or email email@example.com 65
There’ s a flying Wild Dog in the Kafue sky Konkamoya is celebrating the launch of its new plane with enticing package rates:
The only lodge to rest on the shores of Lake Itezhi Tezhi, in the south of the Kafue, Konkamoya has introduced a faster and easier way to travel deep into the National Park for an adventure in the wild.
Guests who stay a minimum of
As the rain turns to drizzle and the dry spell begins in Kafue National Park, Konkamoya Lodge enters the new season with some sky-high news. It’s new plane is ready to transfer guests to and from Livingstone and Lusaka airports straight to Ngoma airstrip, less than 30 minutes from the lodge. Oozing with style and charisma, this fun new aircraft consists of 8 passanger seats. It’s a less seen Britten Norman Islander – with a twist!
in luxury safari tents, enjoy free return flights for a price as little as
The ‘Flying Wild Dog’ was created by well-known Zimbabwean artist, Lin Barrie. Splitting her time between the Gonarezhou National Park and the Save Valley Conservancy, Lin and her partner, Clive, commit their time to the conservation of endangered wildlife, and community cultures. Her work can be seen across the globe, featuring in collections in South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Australia, Europe, Canada, and the USA.
(based on 4-5 pax; $2850 for 2-3 pax).
This includes full board accommodation, 2 safari activities per day – including night drives – house wine, soft drinks, laundry, park fees and airstrip transfers.
The new aircraft will not only make Konkamoya Lodge easier to reach, but it also presents a sensational start to your clients safari and at $2150 for three nights, it’s very affordable too. 66
I ntrodu c ing. .. And if that wasn’t an exciting enough start to the new season, the lodge also welcomes new team members, enhancing the guest experience. After many years spent managing Nanzhila Plains in the Southern Kafue and Maramba River Lodge in Livingstone, Ruth and Brad Keast are back in the bush as Konkamoya’s new managers, bringing a wealth of experience and charm. Also on board is new senior guide Jonah Mudenda, who comes from Wilderness safaris in the Northern Kafue where he gained a fantastic understanding and passion for Kafue’s open plains.
For more information and rates please contact marketing manager Laura Sommariva at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit www.konkamoya.com 67
African Parks in collaboration with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife is helping to preserve this threatened species by moving 500 elephants in one of the biggest things ever to happen to Malawi’s wildlife Population numbers of African elephants are at concerning rates with fewer than 450,000 remaining. Poaching and habitat loss have sent numbers into serious decline. Malawi’s recent successes in anti poaching and management of human wildlife conflict has ironically lead to an over-population in two of the country’s 9 protected areas, Liwonde National Park and Majete Wildlife Reserve.
Malawi hosts the world’ s largest ever elephant translocation
This huge relocation started in July within Liwonde National Park- home to Malawi’s largest population of 800 elephants. This delicate process involves the use of helicopters to dart elephants which are then lifted by crane onto trucks to start their 300km road journey to a newly created sanctuary. The elephants are being moved to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, close to Lake Malawi, which for years had all but been depleted of wildlife. Once home to over 1500 elephants, recently as few as 100 remain. A 16,000-hectare sanctuary has been built for these elephants and approximately 1500 other reintroduced game species, creating a safe and secure habitat for these animals to thrive. This is a story full of hope for conservation, elephants and Malawi, 68
in particular. Kelly White from Malawi Tourism told us “ We are delighted with African Parks’ plans to relocate and reintroduce species into Malawi’s parks. If Malawi had a perceived weakness in tourism terms, it was that some of its neighbours offered a better safari experience. But this development will result in a total transformation of Malawi’s wildlife and safaris. Malawi will become one of the most complete destinations in Africa Lake, Landscape, Culture and now Wildlife experiences of the very highest quality. Warm, welcoming and unspoilt, Malawi really is just waiting to be discovered”.
© Will Whitford
African Parks is a non-profit organisation that takes on total responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks and protected areas in partnership with governments and local communities. Since 2003 African Parks has, in partnership with the Malawi government, managed Majete Wildlife Reserve, a partnership that has seen the reserve restored and restocked with an initial 2,500 animals including the Big Five. Majete has been a great success and is now one of Malawi’s premier wildlife sanctuaries, conserving and protecting more than 7,500 animals. With the addition of Liwonde National Park and Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve in 2015, African Parks now manages 3 of Malawi’s 9 protected areas and with goals to match all that has been achieved in Majete, African Parks is transforming the wildlife of the country.
Led by the matriarch,the first family of elephants enter Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve © Will Whitford
Nkhotakota wildlife reserve is 1,800km2 and stretches from the Great Rift Valley to just shy of Lake Malawi. It is rugged terrain crossed by a number of rivers which flow down an escarpment into the lake. This area of true wilderness has two lodges of international standards - Bua River Lodge and the luxurious Tongole Wilderness Lodge.
Journalist Sue Watt with a young Female in Liwonde National Park 69
Footloose and fancy- f ree at Footsteps
Upon her return from Ker and Downey’s Footsteps Camp, Account Director Kirstine Vercoe tells us why this could be the most enchanting place in Botswana. At one point on our journey, we came across a young bull elephant whom we watched from the cover of some trees. It was fascinating to observe the elephant, his relaxed behaviour as he browsed on a mopane shrub unaware of our presence. As our scent drifted towards him, one could see change in his behaviour: his trunk continued to finger the leaves but his ears twitched a little more and one could tell he was reading the situation. As a young elephant, curiosity got the better of him and he casually followed our scent as we moved further back to an area of greater safety.
Despite having been on numerous safaris I, ashamedly, haven’t experienced much of a “walking safari” and so it was with anticipation and trepidation that I arrived at Footsteps Camp. Moses, one of Ker & Downey Botswana’s specialist guides, took great care in establishing my level of comfort with the concept of walking. He was quick to assure me that walking is not about placing oneself in risky situations, rather it is about being on foot and learning to read the surrounding environment. What an experience it was! Game drives, exciting as they can be, are comparatively a “spectators activity”; as a passenger one is passive in the experience. By contrast being on foot, one engages all sensory functions. Moses taught us to pay attention to the calls of the birds, how an alarm cry from them could indicate the presence of an animal not yet visible. Perhaps it is a primal instinct, but being on foot I was acutely aware of the scents of the bush and the sudden smell of carrion instinctively caused me to survey my immediate surroundings.
Was I scared? No. I was too engrossed in watching this majestic animal fully immersed in his environment rather than comfortably sat in a vehicle (but safe in the knowledge that Moses and the other guide were there.) Walking is an integral part of Footsteps, and the camp embodies a spirit of adventure. The camp is simple: there are three
comfortable guest tents with en-suite facilities and adjacent bucket showers but there are no fences, few mechanical noises, and with a little imagination one feels like a pioneer.
soon idolise these two bush enthusiasts. They bring the bush to life for both the young and old ensuring that all activities are shared as a family adventure.
One might believe that such camping would compromise standards, but this is not so; hearty meals are enjoyed al fresco and a freshly baked cake graces the daily tea table (a feat that puts my baking skills to shame when I undertake a “behind the scenes” tour of the kitchen the following morning).
Whether one stays here as part of the “Footsteps Across the Delta” walking programme or “Young Explorers” family safari, Footsteps Camp is special and blends seamlessly with the other Ker & Downey Botswana properties ensuring a variety and adventure.
Kirstine has recently returned from a visit to all the Ker & Downey Botswana camps so contact her for a product update and training.
“ Apart from the walking, mokoro, and game drive activities available, there is time to simply ‘be’ ” The trappings of modern society don’t belong here. Time seemingly slows adopting a natural rhythm and as the sun rises and falls; my time, no longer governed by a watch, allows me to feel more rested. Apart from the walking, mokoro, and game drive activities available, there is time to simply “be” to let ones mind drift to the accompaniment of birdsong. It is in such a state that I realise the magic this camp holds for families enjoying the Ker & Downey Botswana “Young Explorers Programme”. The camp is sold to only one family at a time, ensuring that every aspect of their 3 night stay revolves around “family time”. Camp routine is not regimented as there are no other guests to consider. Moses and Omphile, the two specialist guides in camp, are engaging and it’s evident that children staying here would
Contact Kirstine via email at email@example.com or call her on 01664 823750 / 07830867887
Lob amb a & Man te ng a Cul tu ral Vill age
MANTENGA FAL LS
Ryan’ s swa zi land adventure Despite being the smallest country in the Southern hemisphere, the Kingdom of Swaziland has a hugely diverse range of attractions and activities. Ryan Tyler, Marketing Assistant of Swaziland Tourism UK, has been in Swaziland on a Fam Trip to enjoy first hand the Swaziland experience (and do some work too!). Ryan’s first time in Swaziland has been the experience of a lifetime and he has ticked some boxes in his bucket list! Discover Ryan’s Swaziland adventure diary:
Day 2 : Sta kehol ders Meetin g s & Mhl amban yatsi
Our second day started with a speed marketing session with Swaziland’s accommodation and activity providers. They got the chance to present their product to UK tour operators also out here with us on the trip. It was a successful and enjoyable experience.
Day 1 : Loba m ba & Manten ga C ultu ral Village , Reserve & Fa l l s We started our Swaziland trip by visiting the Memorial Park for King Sobhuza II, father to King Maswati III – the current king. After the royal insight, we then took a walk up to Lobamba. It was a short walk to get there with amazing scenery, showing true Africa.
In the afternoon, we were ready to set off to Mhlambanyatsi (pronounced mmm-clam-ban-yat-see), in the west side of the country in the Highveld. It was so high I could feel how thin the air was! In the evening, we arrived at the picturesque Foresters Arms. The cottage/country lodges are great! After running around to get some footage, it was almost time for dinner. I heard from Kelly White, that the food here is incredible. I had some great food whilst in Swaziland, some westernised dishes and some local food… but this was unbelievable! It was a set menu that changed daily depending on what produce they had.
After our time was up in Lobamba, we set off to the Mantenga Nature Reserve. It is a stunning National Park with a cultural village at the heart of it. We had the opportunity to enjoy Swaziland’s traditional dancing and singing. This was great! The beat of the drums and songs they sang made me stand back and think…
Dinner was simply, divine:
I’m in real Africa now! 72
Hlane Royal National Park. Hlane is one of three Game Reserves run by Big Game Parks, the leading company in Swaziland for wildlife and game viewing.
Day 3 : Mlilwane, Ngwenya & Malolotja
After entering, we drove through the bush slowly trying to pick out moving animals and then after a matter of minutes we saw a pride of lions gathered by the fence. We could get so close! After lions, we moved around the park and came across a family of elephants and finally we came across two other game drives in their safari vehicles looking at a mother and baby rhino. This was truly special. I’d never seen rhino with their horn still intact.
On our third day, we were ready to discover the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, only five minutes away from Ezulwini. Swaziland is a tiny country so you can get from one side to the other in a matter of hours! The group of tour operators, (I was travelling with), were taking a bike ride around the park and I was planning on filming them with a drone. We also got footage of a horse trail taking place with zebras in the background. This place is amazing. So open, you feel like you’re David Attenborough. As there are no carnivorous animals at Mlilwane that would be a danger to people, we were able to get out of the vehicle and take up close shots with the zebras.
After a lovely campfire breakfast (literally… the breakfast was cooked on the fire) we were ready to go on a sunrise game drive around the reserve. This was beautiful… We first came across giraffe. Now I’ve seen most animals in a zoo, but I’d never seen giraffe before. They look even bigger than on the TV! I couldn’t believe their size. Suddenly more of them came! After 5 minutes we had 7 giraffes surrounding our vehicle. It was brilliant. After moving on, we came across two white rhinos, a mother and child, wandering through the bush.
After a great morning drive through Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, it was time to visit Ngwenya Glass Factory. Ngwenya means Crocodile in SiSwati (the national language of Swaziland), due to its location in the valley of a mountain with unique peaks that look like a crocodile lying in the sun. At Ngwenya, they create glass models of African animals, drinking glasses etc. They looked amazing. I had to buy some!
Day 5 & 6 : Mkhaya Game Reserve
After a quick pit stop, we were back on the road and set off for Malolotja Nature Reserve. Malolotja is home to the very popular Treetop Canopy Tour. This is a 12 zigzag zip wire across the valley. It so happened that one of the Princes of Swaziland was in the group before our team and with a little Swazi communication from our guide Lucky, we ran a test flight filming the Prince! We were then asked at the end of the day if we could get the footage to the Prince! By Royal Appointment you might say!
The game drives last around 2-3 hours but feel about 30 minutes. You’re so on edge and thrilled by the experience time just flies by. Mkhaya has been probably the toughest part of my trip but also the most unbelievable at the same time. I was tested to my limits here but that’s what Africa is all about. When the sun was about to set, I was taken to the beautiful Reilly’s Rock Hilltop Lodge back in Mlilwane. After freshening up, I walked down to the campfire. I started reflecting over my time here and the things I have experienced, and just, Wow! Stuck for words. I’ve had the time of my life here. It’s such a brilliant country!
Day 4 : Hl ane & S hew ul a Mo u ntain Camp After another great breakfast, we were ready to go and discover 73
RWANDA’ S RICH DANCE CULTURE Originally, iconic Intore dancing was performed only for a very exclusive audience - the Rwandan royal family. But now, tourists are able to appreciate the intricate and stylish moves at locations across the country. Now recognised as a stand-alone destination, rather than simply a “gorilla express” add-on, Rwanda is becoming increasingly popular. Vibrant Rwandan itineraries are available from the country’s leading DMC - Thousand Hills, along with sister company, Amber Expeditions.
Contact Thousand Hills Expeditions for your clients perfect Rwanda experience: firstname.lastname@example.org 74
Madagas carâ€™ s Charismatic Chameleons Madagascar is the 4th largest island on the planet and is a cultural melting pot of Africa and Asia With wonderful endemic wildlife, distinct individuality and cultural richness, this destination is becoming increasingly popular. The countryâ€™s numerous unique species of chameleons are a huge attraction as they captivate clients every time. For exclusive tailored itineraries, English-speaking guides and great prices, we can thoroughly recommend ICTours, owned by Madagascar born, but European educated Hely Rakotomanantsoa.
Contact email@example.com for more info and visit www.ictours.mg 75
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Edition 29 of our trade travel magazine, Safari.