Recent Experiences

Tree-scratching Lion

Bee & Chaz Capture Rare Safari Moments

On the way to the airstrip at Mara Plains we watched this baby gazelle being born on New Year’s Day. This is how this safari trip has gone. Every day something absolutely remarkable. — Bee & Chaz As an old saying goes: The only way to have great ideas is to have a lot of […]

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Family Safari Kid with Tortoise in Kruger

Family Safaris - Our Personal Picks

As you might have guessed, the Next Adventure team fully supports taking the whole family on safari! As family safaris have grown in popularity, the options for quality family experiences have also grown. Some of the best camps and lodges now provide dedicated family spaces and phenomenal creative resources ensuring a safari with children or grandchildren is a […]

Read More
A Crash of Buffalo on the Serengeti

Sorting through the Serengeti

With so many truly spectacular natural wonders within relatively close proximity, it’s no surprise the Northern Circuit and Tanzania’s Serengeti plains are such popular first-time safari destinations. Along with that popularity comes the crowds and an overwhelming array of options to consider: What are the best camps and lodges for each season? Why are some camps so […]

Read More
Ele eating in the crater

Tanzania’s Northern Circuit Shines

With so many truly spectacular natural wonders within relatively close proximity, it’s no surprise Tanzania’s Northern Circuit and vast Serengeti plains are such popular first-time safari destinations. Along with that popularity comes the crowds and an overwhelming array of options to consider: What are the best camps and lodges for each season? Why are some camps so […]

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Mike & Sheila's Serengeti Plains and Virungas Mountains

Mike & Sheila want to make sure we mention their ages (71 & 72) and these three points: Good guiding makes all the difference. A camping safari is a 24-hour experience. Tracking gorillas shouldn’t be intimidating For their first safari back in 2011, we focused Mike & Sheila’s itinerary on a mobile camping safari in Botswana. It […]

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Hwange Sunset on walking safari

Walking in Hwange with the Johnson Family

So much of what we do here at Next Adventure is getting to know each client and pairing them with just the right selection of destinations and experiences. The Johnson Family, a group of 7 travelers, was looking for something unique and adventurous, an active safari for the whole family. After considering a lot of […]

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Join Allen Bechky in 2017

Next Adventure is honored to offer an India Wildlife Safari in February 2017 and two exclusive small group departures to Zambia in June and October of 2017 with Specialist Safari Guide and Naturalist Allen Bechky. Each itinerary is uniquely designed around prime seasonality and excellent wildlife viewing activities. Read more from Allen below, and get in […]

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Lions in South Luangwa, Zambia

My Private Zambia - On Safari with Allen Bechky

Elephants of all sizes were splashing in the mud, rolling in the goop, lying in it from side to side, splashing with their trunks. A less than one year-old calf was the only one who didn’t go in. She just ran about, ears flapping, trunk lolling, without a clue how to use it. — Allen […]

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Wildebeast ,Tubu Tree, Botswana

Mike & Trina's Sensational Anniversary Safari

It was clear to us as our safari unfolded, that Kili listened carefully to us and, through a couple of phone conversations, teased out nuanced information that ultimately translated into specific experiences designed to delight us. Next Adventure nailed it. –Mike R., Fresno, CA Mike & Trina wanted to celebrate their 30th Wedding Anniversary with […]

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Kudu in the Grass, Linyanti

A Spin Through Bots & Zim

In May, I had an opportunity to travel with African Bush Camps to experience their intimate safari camps in Botswana and Zimbabwe, and I also had a chance to visit a few other camps and lodges nearby. It was a great experience and a wonderful introduction to a safari company that is leading the industry […]

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Barasingha (Swamp Deer) in Kanha NP

Charismatic India - March 2016 Trip Report

Close your eyes. Think of India. What images come to mind? Maybe the romantic Taj Mahal? How about your favorite curry dish? Most likely, a crowded city full of vibrant colors and majestic monuments? Chances are, you didn’t picture a tiger, or a rhino, a wild dog, or an elephant—those ‘charismatic megafauna’ instantly come to mind when thinking […]

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Fig the leopard Kenya

Kenya - Our Personal Picks

Kili’s Pick: Mara Plains Camp, Olare Motorogi Conservancy, Masai Mara There are many luxury camps throughout Kenya, but none captures the essence of Africa as well as Mara Plains Camp. Every single detail of the camp is exquisite and in harmony with the surroundings. Guests have the luxury of experience here, not just luxurious accommodations. […]

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Let Zim be your guide

Zimbabwe has long been a favorite destination for us at Next Adventure. I was first there as a two year old in 1981 less than a year after the country became independent. In the mid to late 90’s almost 90% of our safaris included Zimbabwe since we received so many requests for it. In the […]

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Beyond Primates

Delving into Uganda’s Wildlife Havens Uganda is renowned for tracking and viewing both the rare Mountain Gorilla and Chimpanzees. These experiences are epic and important to Uganda’s tourism economy. However, beyond the thick forests of Southwest Uganda and its famous primate excursions, there are parks equally worthy of exploration, both for bird and wildlife viewing […]

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photo safari Zebra Fighting

Karen & Hank's Zimbabwe and Botswana Photo Safari

Karen & Hank are keen photographers who went on their first photo safari last year to Kenya and Tanzania. This year, the focus turned to Southern Africa, specifically areas in Zimbabwe and Botswana that offer exceptional wildlife viewing in November when the dry season transitions with the start of the summer rains. Mana Pools and Hwange National […]

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Crimson-Breasted Shrike, Madikwe Game Reserve

Glenn & Karen's South African Anniversary Safari

Glenn & Karen have done a number of trips with Next Adventure, but their most recent anniversary safari was very special. We selected camps that provide outstanding guiding and unique wildlife sightings along with truly romantic touches. As safari veterans (we have been to Africa over 20 times), we are always looking for the unusual […]

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Scouting India's Best Wildlife Safaris

Over the last few years, Next Adventure has arranged a handful of tiger safaris in India, but it wasn’t until this March that I finally found time to do a proper scouting trip to India’s most renowned tiger safari destinations. Now, we’re excited to offer custom safari arrangements with a trusted local partner based on […]

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Kili's Look at Namibia's Skeleton Coast

The Skeleton Coast has an evocative, enigmatic name that sounds like a place one “has” to visit. In practical terms, the Skeleton Coast refers to the northern stretch of Namibia’s Coastline — where the Atlantic Ocean meets a “sea” of sand dunes from the Namib Desert under a cover of dense fog rising from the […]

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View from an Elephant Hide near Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park

Join Kili's exclusive Insider's Safari to Zimbabwe

In celebration of my 10-year anniversary as Managing Director of Next Adventure, I decided to return to my roots. When we were founded in 1996, nearly 90% of our business was to Zimbabwe as it experienced a golden age. As an 18 year-old, I spent months exploring Zim after my father bought me a one-way […]

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Western lowland Gorilla - Photo by Kili McGowan

Kili's Expedition Safari to the Republic of Congo

In September, Kili led 9 clients on an exclusive 6-day gorilla-tracking safari to the Republic of Congo. This special journey through the mysterious central African rainforest included two opportunities to track habituated Western Lowland Gorilla, boating on the Lekoli River, walking in Lango Bai, exploring forest trails and savannah fringe. View the full safari itinerary […]

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Tree-scratching Lion

Bee & Chaz Capture Rare Safari Moments

On the way to the airstrip at Mara Plains we watched this baby gazelle being born on New Year’s Day. This is how this safari trip has gone. Every day something absolutely remarkable. — Bee & Chaz

As an old saying goes: The only way to have great ideas is to have a lot of ideas. We think the same applies to safaris and wildlife photography. The more time you spend in the bush, and the more photos you take, the better chance you’ll have of getting great shots.

Bee wanted to make sure she had the perfect camera for her safari, and she couldn’t have been happier with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. Olympus customer service went out of their way to make sure she had the newest technology without it being too heavy or unwieldy. We hesitate to guess how many photos Bee & Chaz took to narrow it down to these wonderful photos, but we can tell you where they were and a bit about their two most recent safaris.

White Browed Coucal vs Chameleon, Mara

White Browed Coucal vs Chameleon in the Mara

Our guide Duncan at Mara Plains saw the White Browed Coucal attacking this chameleon. We watched in wonder as he systematically tried to pull the chameleon off the bush by trying to unwrap its tail then pulling on the chameleon’s limbs. After some time in the epic struggle for life vs lunch, the coucal gave up and the chameleon survived…for the moment. — Bee & Chaz

Let Wild Dogs Lie, Botswana

Let Wild Dogs Lie, Botswana

In May, they began with a true Botswanan safari that took them through the Jao Concession and the Selinda and Kwedi Reserves with stops at Little Tubu, Selinda Camp, Duba Expedition and Jacana Camp. From the Okavango Delta’s flooded waterways and seasonal islands, Bee & Chaz then journeyed over Namibia’s vast deserts to experience the remote Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp and then to Little Kulala to face Sossusvlei’s massive dunes and unique wildlife.

For the Festive Season around the holidays, they spent extensive time in the Singita Grumeti Reservein the northern Serengeti at Faru Faru and Sabora followed by one of our perennial favorites, Mara Plains, in the Olare Motorogi conservancy adjacent to the Masai Mara. They then moved south to Singita Boulders in South Africa’s Sabi Sands before finishing their epic safari with a stop at Tswalu Kalahari.

Cheetah Cub in the Mara

Cheetah Cub in the Mara

Driving between Faru Faru and Sabora, our guide Anthony stopped for this ‘joyful little cheetah cub’ playing with his mama, and we watched them for as long as we wanted, despite arriving late to lunch at Sabora. At Singita, the wildlife experience always takes priority over being on time!

Cape Fox: This little critter popped up right in front of our room at Tswalu, and we think there was a den nearby…you just see so much from your room during the downtime!

Starling: Spotted from the room at Tswalu–he grabbed a bite to eat just as I snapped his portrait!

Hyena: The heartbreaking side of safaris is watching a kill where the mother gazelle was hopelessly standing by while the hyena ran off with her baby, at Mara Plains.

Oryx: At Hoanib, it was a marvel these large mammals could survive in the desert so well. Their adaptations are mind blowing!

Bee Eater: Taken from the room at Tswalu

African Wild Cat: We sat with her for 45 minutes at Tswalu while she observed and stalked dozens of mice that were scampering in front of her. The cool animals come out at night, so we started our ‘afternoon’ game drives about 8 PM to take advantage of the cooler temperatures and to see some of the nocturnal species. Some other guests we spoke with were out until 4 AM…talk about flexible schedules!

Sunbird: Reminded me of a rainbow and showed the Kalahari in bloom. No one expects to see such lovely delicate flowers in the desert

‘Tree Climbing’ lion: At Boulders, we came upon a pride with 16 cubs in the midst of a play session. This lion was stretching and playing with the tree–not actually trying to climb it!

Horned Adder: Our guide at Tswalu had seen a large tortoise in the bush and pointed it out, then saw the Adder just next to it. We crept carefully out of the vehicle on foot but kept a respectful distance so we didn’t disturb the snake.

Leopard Baby: This was taken in the first hour of our first trip to Botswana while at Little Tubu Tree. Our tracker found the mama lying near the tree and we were privileged to hear her start calling to her cub shortly after we arrived. I got very emotional as they played and she nursed the cub while the sun was setting. It was a truly thrilling experience and we could have gone home right then satisfied with our safari!

Grasshopper: I called this one coffee stop camouflage. On a morning coffee break at Boulders, we noticed dozens of different colored grasshoppers blended into the ground around where they stopped.

Pangolin:  At Tswalu, this pangolin is actually tagged as part of a research project, and we got to watch him dig around for food while discussing the species with the researcher.


While we hesitate to guarantee how good your photos turn out, but we can guarantee a thoughtful and carefully arranged itinerary. Get in touch to start planning your ideal safari.

Family Safari Kid with Tortoise in Kruger

Family Safaris – Our Personal Picks

Family Safari for Kids in Kruger

Rainie’s Bush Walk in Kruger

As you might have guessed, the Next Adventure team fully supports taking the whole family on safari! As family safaris have grown in popularity, the options for quality family experiences have also grown. Some of the best camps and lodges now provide dedicated family spaces and phenomenal creative resources ensuring a safari with children or grandchildren is a pleasure for all.

The beauty of these family-friendly camps is that guests can spend quality time with the kids as well as finding time to pursue their own interests or just relax while in camp. Here are a few of Next Adventure’s favorite places to spend time in the bush with kids of all ages!


Jeremy’s Pick for Family Safaris: Imvelo’s Elephant Express

The combination of iconic Hwange National Park and Victoria Falls typically makes for a family trip of a lifetime! With Imvelo Safari Lodges, you get a tremendous value, comfortable accommodations and outstanding wildlife experiences in Hwange. Children ages 7 and up are welcome at all properties, and they will marvel at the wildlife and cultural programs which are integral to the Imvelo safari experience. Best of all, every family member will love the Elephant Express train transfer, a vintage open-air railcar that rides along the edge of Hwange National Park for truly unique wildlife viewing with a nostalgic twist!

Imvelo – Kids on Safari


Kili’s Pick for Family Safaris: Lamai Serengeti Lodge

One of my favorite options for families is the Lamai Serengeti Lodge, which sits tucked amongst the rocks of a kopje in the Northern Serengeti with panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. It’s just a few miles from where the wildebeest cross the Mara River, and, for roughly a quarter of the year, between late July and October, this is where you’ll find the iconic seasonal migration. One of the advantages of this lodge is a range of options for families of different sizes, including the Main Lodge (8 tents, children 8 & up), the Private Camp (4 tents, children 5 & up) and the exclusive use Mkombe’s House (up to 4 adults, 6 children of any age). Private vehicles are available at main & Private camp at an additional cost while a private vehicle is included in Mkombe’s House. Walking is possible for children 12 and older. This is an ideal location to include on your family’s Tanzania safari!

Lamai Serengeti Lodge


Louise’s Pick for Family Safaris: Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge & EleFun Centre

Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge was one of my granddaughter’s first safari experiences when she was just 18 months old. To say that this luxury lodge is a perfect choice for kids of all ages is an understatement. The wildlife viewing in the renowned Sabi Sands is unparalleled, and the lodge excels at making families and kids feel right at home. Two newly opened luxury villas add to the ambiance and are exquisite, spacious, and perfect for a family stay. The rest of the 25 suites are equally charming and can accommodate families as well. The EleFun Centre is staffed by a professional childcare team and organizes age appropriate activities in the Junior Tracker (ages 4-8) and Junior Ranger (ages 9-12) programs. There is a play area and organized games for kids of all ages available all day long in addition to the formal programs.

Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge


Nicole’s Pick for Family Safaris: Lewa Wilderness

In the heart of Central Kenya’s Laikipia region, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is one of the most successful private conservation efforts. This rugged home to the Big 5 and many endangered and rare species has been part of the Craig Family legacy since 1972. Lewa Wilderness features 10 suites, four of which are specifically designed for family safaris, and children of all ages are welcome, little ones under age 5 stay for free. Lewa Wilderness is the hub of all activities on the conservancy, offering East Africa’s only open cockpit biplane and a stable yard of horses suited to all levels of experience. Guests can also camel ride among the wildlife, enjoy flexible game drives, take guided bush walks, visit the local community enhancement projects, and much more.

Lewa Wilderness


Whether you’re looking for adventure, education, relaxation or (D.) All of the above, there are so many wonderful family safari options! Get in touch today to start planning your perfect family safari.

A Crash of Buffalo on the Serengeti

Sorting through the Serengeti

Lion Cuddles in the Serengeti

Lion Cuddles in the Serengeti

With so many truly spectacular natural wonders within relatively close proximity, it’s no surprise the Northern Circuit and Tanzania’s Serengeti plains are such popular first-time safari destinations. Along with that popularity comes the crowds and an overwhelming array of options to consider:

  • What are the best camps and lodges for each season?
  • Why are some camps so expensive while others seem too cheap?
  • What order of destinations makes the most sense?
  • What is the most efficient way of getting around?
  • Where are the best guides or the best chefs or the best activities for kids?

Of course, the answer to all these questions is, it depends. It depends on you, your preferences and interests and how you envision your ideal safari. That’s why the team at Next Adventure invests so much in educational and familiarization trips throughout East and Southern Africa, and all of our safaris feature custom arrangements based on long running partnerships and our first-hand experience.

In November of 2016, Next Adventure’s Managing Director Kili McGowan spent 3 weeks on a comprehensive tour of some of Tanzania’s best camps and lodges. Read her trip report below, flip through her photos, and get in touch to find out what we would recommend for your safari on Tanzania’s Serengeti plains!


Serengeti – A Swahili word for Endless Plains or Extended Place

Just the sheer number of safari camps and lodges in the Serengeti is daunting, but, when you add that fact that many of them move locations with respect to the seasonal migration, the options can be dizzying. In mid-November, most camps that are not in permanent locations move toward the Ndutu area so they are in position for the expected wildebeest migration, one of Earth’s truly remarkable wildlife wonders.

Typically, the ‘mobile camps’ open in December on the Southern plains. It is quite difficult to predict when the herds will arrive as their movements are very dependent on the rains and other environmental conditions. If one is planning travel during the shoulder season, we highly recommend combining two different regions in Serengeti to maximize your chance of spectacular sightings of the migration.

Southern Serengeti

I visited several properties in the Ndutu / Lake Masek area, most notably the new permanent property Lake Masek Tented Camp, which offers large spacious tents at a mid-range price point. Of course, peak season is December through March when the wildebeest migration and all of the accompanying wildlife drama are at its best, but Lake Masek offers guests year-round big 5 off-road game viewing in the shadow of Mount O’ldeani. Even though I was a bit early for the herds to have arrived, I was treated to an incredible sighting of three bull elephants hanging out in their ‘bachelor herds’ while dwarfing the rest of the animals around them.

Besides the seasonal herds, the Ndutu and Kakessio areas (further southeast from Ndutu, near Lake Eyasi) are well known for decent sightings of wild dogs. Two of our favorite mobile camps in the area are Alex Walker’s Serian Camps, Serengeti South and Serengeti Mobile Kusini. Each camp dedicates a private vehicle to every distinct booking, and they employ some of the best highly trained guides. Guests can hope to catch a glimpse of cheetah on the plains as well as other predators like lion, hyena and wild dog, especially when the herds are in residence (Dec-Mar).

Central Serengeti

Following my stay down south, my guide and I made our way to the Central Serengeti’s Moru Kopjes area. This region is strategic for catching the migration this time of year as it is between Seronera and Ndutu. My home for two nights was Nomad’s Serengeti Safari Camp, a fantastic mobile camp nestled in the kopjes (large rocky hills lying on the flat plains). This part of the Serengeti is just beautiful, and we were very lucky with our lion sightings here. It seemed like we kept finding different prides on every drive, and we even saw a wild black rhino–a rare sighting indeed! The camp itself, like Entamanu Ngorongoro, has a relaxed atmosphere, lovely public areas, and six well-appointed ensuite tents.

For a slightly larger and more permanent option, guests might enjoy the ten-roomed Serengeti Pioneer Camp. Also situated in the game-rich Moru Kopjes area, this lodge has a pool, individual dining, and an unbeatable view from its perch on top of a kopje. Another noteworthy camp in the Moru region is Dunia Camp, which has the unique distinction of an all female staff. The warm manager, highly trained guides, and each team member make a supreme effort to provide the best guest experience possible…and they succeed! Overall, visitors to the Serengeti will find the central area near Seronera/Moru excellent for high density game viewing year round, but they will have to compete with a lot more vehicles from other lodges as well.

Far from the crowds of the Central Serengeti lies the remote Namiri Plains Camp. A stay at this Eastern Serengeti gem makes guests feel like they have the Serengeti to themselves, as no other camp is within one hour’s drive of Namiri Plains. The flat open grasslands are prime habitat for cheetah and other big cats along with plenty of resident game. There is a coalition of six male lions nearby that make for exciting viewing and splendid photographic opportunities. Namiri is a year-round destination ideal for honeymooners and those seeking the hidden side of Serengeti.

Northern Serengeti

Moving North toward the Lobo area of the park, I had the chance to spend time at Elewana’s Serengeti Migration Camp. Don’t let the name fool you! This is a permanent ‘hybrid’ lodge that feels a little like a hotel and camp combined. The accessibility to Lobo airstrip, the delicious food, the swimming pool, amazing river views and plentiful wildlife activity make for an incredible Serengeti stay. This camp might be one of the best choices for families looking to spend time in the park.

Further north along the Kenyan border lies the Lamai wedge, a visually stunning landscape blessed with resident wildlife in the path of the migration. This area, along with Kogatende, typically sees the migration pass through in late June through August and then again when the herds come back from Kenya in late September-October. For travelers who are looking for good value in the Lamai region at a mid-range price point, the modern and fresh Lemala Kuria Hills Lodge is an excellent option. One of my favorite lodges in this area is a luxury camp, Lamai Serengeti, which discreetly blends twelve rooms into the nooks of a kopje. There are long walks between the rooms and the lodge, so this place is not ideal for people with mobility issues. The lodge itself offers simple hearty fare and feels like you are spending time in your friend’s living room…it’s that comfortable and relaxed. There is a resident lion pride right at camp and leopard sightings are common on game drives.

Adjacent to the Lamai Serengeti property is the private villa, Mkombe’s House. This is an ideal family property with two ensuite bedrooms juxtaposed with children’s rooms. Four adults and six children can comfortably occupy the house. Exclusive use of a guide and vehicle, a private chef, and pool are just a few of the amenities of this space. Flexibility is paramount, and there is no age limit for children. Mkombe’s House even provides car seats and high chairs for little ones!

As I flew away from the Serengeti on the long journey home, I had to marvel at the high quality service that Tanzania as a whole delivers to safari travelers. The people I met were very proud of their heritage and language, and they were warm, hospitable and eager to learn about the bigger world. The Highlands at Ngorongoro provided one of the most genuine culture interactions I have ever been part of, and the Serengeti offers a dizzying repository of wildlife diversity as it faces developmental challenges with new properties coming onto the scene each year. The robust lion populations and other cat sightings were highlights as well as the black rhino at Moru Kopjes. After this visit, I feel more invigorated and confident than ever to help Next Adventure travelers find the rare gems within the mainstream bustle of tourism in Tanzania.


With all these choices, which camps and lodges would I recommend for you? Call me to start planning your safari or to hear more about mine!

Read Part 1: Tanzania’s Northern Circuit Shines

Ele eating in the crater

Tanzania’s Northern Circuit Shines

Across the Ngorongoro Crater Floor

Across the Ngorongoro Crater Floor

With so many truly spectacular natural wonders within relatively close proximity, it’s no surprise Tanzania’s Northern Circuit and vast Serengeti plains are such popular first-time safari destinations. Along with that popularity comes the crowds and an overwhelming array of options to consider:

  • What are the best camps and lodges for each season?
  • Why are some camps so expensive while others seem too cheap?
  • What order of destinations makes the most sense?
  • What is the most efficient way of getting around?
  • Where are the best guides or the best chefs or the best activities for kids?

Of course, the answer to all these questions is, it depends. It depends on you, your preferences and interests and how you envision your ideal safari. That’s why the team at Next Adventure invests so much in educational and familiarization trips throughout East and Southern Africa, and all of our safaris feature custom arrangements based on long running partnerships and our first-hand experience.

In November of 2016, Next Adventure’s Managing Director Kili McGowan spent 3 weeks on a comprehensive tour of some of Tanzania’s best camps and lodges. Read her trip report below, flip through her photos, and get in touch to find out what we would recommend for your safari on Tanzania’s Northern Circuit!


Arusha

Touching down at Kilimanjaro Airport, I was full of excitement for the epic safari that lay before me. First, I needed to rest, and the nearby Rivertrees Country Inn provided just the right blend of understated luxury and comfort for my first night in Tanzania. The staff was attentive and full of Tanzanian hospitality. The restaurant welcomes a refreshing mix of Arusha residents and international guests, and the feel of the lodge is very local. I had a restful stay and believe that this is the perfect beginning or end to a safari in Tanzania – a mix of refreshment and convenience enhanced by plentiful birdlife and monkey antics in the gardens. Some of our other favorite places to land in Arusha are the Arusha Coffee Lodge or Lake Duluti Lodge.

Tarangire & Manyara

On my first morning, my private guide and I bumped along to Tarangire for about two hours, taking in the undulating hills and plains that welcome you to Tanzania’s Northern Circuit. Given that we know the Tarangire area quite well and our favorite lodges, Sanctuary Swala Camp and Oliver’s Camp are operating at the highest standards, on this trip I decided to investigate a private concession just outside Tarangire. I arrived at Little Chem Chem set amidst the Baobabs and overlooking the shore of Lake Burunge later that day. This intimate vintage safari camp is the perfect setting for big game walks, tracking animals across the plains, or visiting the village school where you can interact with students.

I enjoyed my chance to stretch my legs after being on the long haul flight and in the vehicle. This area between Tarangire National Park and Lake Manyara National Park is home to elephant, buffalo, lion, cheetah, and plentiful plains game species. Seasonally (Dec-Mar), you can view flamingos and hopefully catch zebra and wildebeest calving. Game drives into Tarangire are possible from Little Chem Chem in addition to walking safaris on the private concession.

Sharing the concession to the West is Chem Chem Lodge, an elegant safari lodge known for exquisite culinary experiences and outstanding sundowners on the edge of Lake Manyara. While game drives can be arranged, Chem Chem is best for those who want to set out on foot with their Maasai guides and naturalists. Giraffe, zebra, and many bird species are often your companions on wilderness walks. Meaningful visits to community projects are often considered highlights by many guests. Both of the Chem Chem accommodations embrace the ‘slow safari’ concept where the sensual discovery of the wilderness is paramount. This location is an ideal reprieve from the busier mainstream wildlife viewing destinations and a chance to unwind in the natural beauty of the area while delving into the culture of the Maasai.

Ngorongoro Crater

Climbing the Great Rift escarpment into the higher altitudes of the Ngorongoro highlands, my next destination was Lemala Ngorongoro Camp, located on the crater rim in an Acacia forest on the Eastern side of the crater. This homey mobile camp has spacious tents with heavy duvets, hot water bottles, and gas heaters to combat the chilly evening temperatures. Along with fantastic service and escorted walks in the forest and along the rim, Lemala Ngorongoro offers quick access into the crater at Lemala gate. We were the first car through at 6am to explore the wonders on the crater floor while most other groups did not arrive until an hour later, allowing for excellent photographic conditions and a bit of uncrowded wildlife viewing! Although it can get congested with visitors, Ngorongoro Crater always delivers incredible wildlife sightings of elephant, hyena, eland, zebra and sometimes rhino. This little microcosm of the Tanzanian plains set against that dramatic crater wall is definitely a sight to behold!

Following a full day of exploring the crater, we headed deeper into the foothills and other craters of the region. Approximately 45-minutes north of the Ngorongoro Crater lies a new camp focusing on the culture and natural history of the area, Asilia Africa’s The Highlands at Ngorongoro. Exclusive and remote, The Highlands is an architectural wonder that maintains coziness and luxurious comfort for active travelers in a truly unique setting. The location of the camp, nestled along the Ol Moti Crater, has steep walks between the guest tents and the main lodge. Wood burning stoves keep the domed tents toasty warm and comfortable. Exemplary hosting at family-style meals makes everyone feel welcome and involved in whatever conversation is being held. This camp feels removed from the bustle of Ngorongoro Crater and offers many options for curious travelers looking for something a little different.

Whether trekking around the Ol Moti Crater or descending into the scenic Empakai Crater with it’s tiny lake dotted with flamingos, the naturalist guides at The Highlands are experts on the local flora and fauna. Perhaps the biggest strength of The Highlands is the unobtrusive and genuine village visits. These manyattas are not your typical commercial cultural experiences but authentic opportunities to learn about the Masai lifestyle from the villagers themselves. A guest might participate in bringing the herds into the boma or hearing a local legend from an elder. No matter what your experience, it will be unique as visits are spread among many surrounding backcountry villages.

Another new experience in the Ngorongoro Crater area lies on the Western rim near the Serena access road at Entamanu Ngorongoro, operated by Nomad Tanzania. Although it feels more ‘traditional’ than The Highlands with its proximity to the Crater itself, Entamanu delivers in every way. Without question, the camp has the best view of any crater property–gazing out over the expansive plains of the Serengeti. With no surrounding forest to obscure views, guests are treated to a 180 degree panorama of one of the most famous landscapes on earth…and did I mention the sunsets? Just stunning…on a continent where marking the end of the day with a cocktail and exquisite bites has become a truly important daily ritual, Entamanu shines.

The cushy barefoot luxury of the camp is evident in throughout all 6 tents as well as the huge main area that feels like a big cozy living room. The camp maintains the highest standards of environmental care–and it is completely removable. The design considered ‘leave no trace’ to be a very important theme of the camp while not sparing any creature comforts for guests. Again, the Nomad management and guides provide outstanding hosting, and they make the family-style meals and excursions truly memorable as guests are welcomed as members of the ‘tribe’. The activity focus of Entamanu is bush walking with armed Ngorongoro Conservation Area Rangers and the Nomad guide team along the rim which can be just as exciting as drives on the crater floor. Relationships with the nearby villages are blossoming and soon will be integrated into the guest experience.

An advantage to the Entamanu location is the nearby access to the famous Oldupai Gorge, where paleo-anthropologists Mary & Louis Leakey’s ground-breaking archaeological discoveries changed the way we think of our earliest ancestors. Following a quick breakfast at camp, we were able to be at Oldupai by 8 A.M., well before any other visitors arrived at the museum. Plans are in place for new facilities to open at Oldupai in the coming year. Once we toured the museum, there was ample time for a visit to Shifting Sands, the fascinating crescent shaped dunes of volcanic ash are a rare scientific phenomenon. From there, we continued down the escarpment and onto the vast plains of the Southern Serengeti National Park near Ndutu.


Get in touch to find out what we would recommend for your safari on Tanzania’s Northern Circuit, or continue reading Part 2: Sorting through the Serengeti

 

Mike & Sheila’s Serengeti Plains and Virungas Mountains

img_3488Mike & Sheila want to make sure we mention their ages (71 & 72) and these three points:

  1. Good guiding makes all the difference.
  2. A camping safari is a 24-hour experience.
  3. Tracking gorillas shouldn’t be intimidating

For their first safari back in 2011, we focused Mike & Sheila’s itinerary on a mobile camping safari in Botswana. It was a great fit. For this year’s trip we turned to East Africa, splitting their time between northern Tanzania, with camping and walking in the Serengeti, and tracking gorillas in Rwanda.

Camping in Tanzania

As active and passionate travelers, their priorities were to ‘get out of the vehicle’ and have immersive wilderness experiences with excellent guiding. In Tanzania, Mike & Sheila visited the Wayo Green Camps and found the camping experience to be “top notch” with great food and a wonderful support team. Wayo is known for their extensive guide training program, unique walking safaris and authentic, low-impact camps in remote areas.

Landscapes and sunsets in the Serengeti are always memorable, but the highlight of the Serengeti camping experience was the “spine-tingling” nights when the bush is loud and busy with the sounds of elephant, lion and buffalo. By dining outdoors and sleeping in a simple canvas tent, the rhythm of the bush and the transitions from daybreak to dusk to dead of night are all around you.

All photos courtesy of Mike & Sheila

While the walking safaris were relatively quiet in terms of viewing wildlife, Mike & Sheila enjoyed the opportunity to be on-foot in the vast Serengeti plains. On their game drives, they were reminded of their first safari when an uneventful drive could suddenly fill with drama as you turn a corner to find a zebra kill surrounded with vultures or a pride of lions with half a dozen cubs.

Tracking Gorillas in Rwanda

In Rwanda, Mike & Sheila were so glad they took our recommendation of booking two days of tracking gorillas. Not only does it give you the opportunity to experience two different families and witness a variety of interactions, but the first trek is clouded by so much uncertainty and adrenaline about what you’re about to experience. On the second trek, you know the routine and the cast of guides, trackers, rangers and porters. When you’re more familiar with the environment and the gorillas’ behavior, time slows down a bit, and you can better appreciate the details and subtleties of being within a few meters of these great apes.

Sheila was concerned about the altitude, and both Mike & Sheila had heard how strenuous tracking gorillas can be. With help from their outstanding Rwandan guide, their first trek was assigned to a gorilla family that was easily accessible. In fact, they were so low in the forest the gorillas were literally on the wall that separates the farmland from the protective jungle. They were able to venture further into the forest on their second trek where they found the hike wasn’t too challenging especially with assistance from the local porters.

While the wilderness and the wildlife are breathtaking, Mike & Sheila were most impressed with their guides. Not only were the guides endlessly knowledgeable and helpful, but they shared remarkable life stories and insights that won’t be soon forgotten.


ITINERARY IN BRIEF

Jan 9: Arrive JRO, transfer to KIA Lodge. Morning drive to Manyara Green Camp (2nts)

Jan 10: Game viewing activities in Manyara National Park, Overnight at Manyara Green Camp

Jan 11: Morning game drive, Transfer to Ngorongoro, Overnight at Lemala Ngorongoro Camp (1 nt)

Jan 12: Morning visit to Olduvai Gorge, Game drive to Serengeti Green Camp (3 nts)

Jan 13-14: Two full days of wildlife viewing in the Serengeti, Overnight at Serengeti Green Camp

Jan 15-16: Drive to Serengeti Wilderness Zone, Serengeti Walking Camp (2 nts)

Jan 17: Transfer to airstrip, Shared charter flight to Kigali, Transfer to Flame Tree Village (1 nt)

Jan 18: Morning tour of Kigali & Genocide Memorial, Transfer to Gorilla Mountain View Lodge (2 nts)

Jan 19: Morning gorilla trek, Optional afternoon activities, Overnight at Gorilla Mountain View Lodge

Jan 20: Morning gorilla trek, Transfer back to Kigali for dinner and late night international departure


Learn more about custom safaris in Tanzania

Gorilla tracking in Rwanda

Hwange Sunset on walking safari

Walking in Hwange with the Johnson Family

So much of what we do here at Next Adventure is getting to know each client and pairing them with just the right selection of destinations and experiences. The Johnson Family, a group of 7 travelers, was looking for something unique and adventurous, an active safari for the whole family. After considering a lot of options, we crafted a customized tour of Zimbabwe that featured extensive time in Hwange National Park including a 3-day walking safari with specialist guides and platform sleepouts and 2 nights at the luxurious Linkwasha Camp followed by 3 nights on the Zambezi at the spectacular Ruckomechi Camp near Mana Pools.

One of the many highlights of their trip was their specialist walking safari guide Themba who wrote this report of their time walking in Hwange.

You can read more about their trip on their excellent travel blog:

The Walking Safari
Hwange National Park
Mana Pools

And, here’s some of the highlights from their trip. All photos are courtesy of the Johnson Family.


ITINERARY IN BRIEF

28 June: Arrive in Victoria Falls, transfer and overnight at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge (2 nts)

29 June: Full day to spend at your leisure or choose from many activities in Victoria Falls

30 June: Shared light aircraft transfer to Hwange National Park, Davison’s Camp (1 nt)

01 July: Begin your Hwange Walking Safari, Scott’s Pan Platform (1 nt)

02 July: Continue exploring the environment on foot, Ngamo Plains Platform (1 nt)

03 July: Conclude walking safari at Linkwasha Camp (2 nts)

04 July: Full day of game viewing activities in the Linkwasha concession from camp

05 July: Shared light aircraft transfer to Mana Pools, transfer to Ruckomechi Camp (3 nts)

06-07 July: Wildlife viewing in the Mana Pools area from your base at Ruckomechi Camp

08 July: Shared light aircraft transfer to Harare International Airport in time for your international departure


Learn more about custom safaris in Zimbabwe

Join Allen Bechky in 2017

Next Adventure is honored to offer an India Wildlife Safari in February 2017 and two exclusive small group departures to Zambia in June and October of 2017 with Specialist Safari Guide and Naturalist Allen Bechky. Each itinerary is uniquely designed around prime seasonality and excellent wildlife viewing activities. Read more from Allen below, and get in touch if you have any questions.

 


 

Greetings from Africa!

I write from the shores of Lake Victoria. Many of you know that I now base myself between a home in Uganda and Villa Gorilla, my little lodge in Rwanda. I do continue my migrations around Africa and the world, with safaris as far afield as Borneo and Brazil.

In the last few years, I have been exclusively doing tailor-made private departures. In June 2016, I guided a couple on a comprehensive tour of Zambia’s best wildlife parks, and it was a truly spectacular experience. Based on the success of that private departure, I will be offering two scheduled safaris in Zambia in conjunction with my friends at Next Adventure.

I’m also excited to offer an India Wildlife Safari focused on tiger viewing in February 2017.

Check out the itineraries below and be in touch with the team at Next Adventure to learn more.

Zambia June 2017

Zambia October 2017

India Wildlife Safari February 2017

Looking forward to seeing you in the bush!

Allen

Lions in South Luangwa, Zambia

My Private Zambia – On Safari with Allen Bechky

Elephants of all sizes were splashing in the mud, rolling in the goop, lying in it from side to side, splashing with their trunks. A less than one year-old calf was the only one who didn’t go in. She just ran about, ears flapping, trunk lolling, without a clue how to use it. — Allen Bechky


In June Allen Bechky led a couple on an extensive, privately guided safari to Zambia’s finest wildlife viewing destinations. Read Allen’s trip report below to see why he keeps returning to Zambia! All photos by Kili McGowan.


Busanga Sunrise

Busanga Sunrise

Another fantastic trip in Zambia. June is the start of winter down there, so the weather was Goldilocks-good. Not too hot, not too cold. Travel was easy as we flew from park to park. Guides, vehicles, accommodation and food were all exemplary.

After a night at Latitude 15 in Lusaka, we started at lovely Chiawa Camp on the Zambezi River. This year is drier than normal, so we were constantly dodging elephants in camp– something that is an every-day occurrence from September through October. My clients, Missy and Clint, are very serious photographers so we focused on game drives, with a few boat cruises on the river. We did not avail ourselves of the opportunity to walk or canoe, or to go fishing.

No worries, we had marvelous wildlife experiences daily, especially elephants. The best came when we were on a boat cruise and parked ourselves on the riverbank right next to a mud hole where a big family group of eles were enjoying a spa. Elephants of all sizes were splashing in the mud, rolling in the goop, lying in it from side to side, splashing with their trunks. A less than one year-old calf was the only one who didn’t go in. She just ran about, ears flapping, trunk lolling, without a clue how to use it. After the mud bath came scratching on trees as only elephants can do: straddle a fallen tree trunk and rub the belly, back up to a tree for the bum. Then the inevitable dust bath. Two young males tangled trunks in a perpetual sparring contest. All this was happening at once. Sure, I’ve seen it all before, but it is always fun to watch. A privilege, really.

On the Busanga Plain in Kafue National Park, we were at the higher altitude of Zambia’s central plateau. Nights were chilly here, but nothing that hot water bottles and cozy duvets couldn’t cure. I expected top notch lion watching here, but, alas, the resident Busanga pride– for years a large and reliable group– had fallen on hard times. The old males died or got pushed out by new guys, and a succession of litters were casualties in the war for territory. It’s a rich one at the marshy center of the seasonally flooded plain. There are always abundant lechwe and puku– both large enough antelopes to make a meal for a couple of lions. A buffalo kill is a feast for an entire pride, but the big herds of black bovines are highly mobile. Many mouths to feed necessitates changing pastures. This time the buffalo were away. Busanga is one of those places where lions regularly climb trees, but we missed it this year, and we could not find the resident cheetah. Not to fret, we had incredible up close (like under the boat) hippo experiences on the swampy little river at the center of the plain and got plenty of cats at our last park, South Luangwa, where we spent a week.

 At Shumba Camp, we found two male lions who were resting. There were vultures on a nearby tree… but we didn’t investigate. When we went back to checkup on the lions in the afternoon, we found they had eaten a male puku. We conjectured that a leopard had killed it and had been there when we first arrived (hence the vultures were off the ground) but had left because of the lions. Of course, we could have been wrong, or the leopard may have left before we arrived. Unsolved mysteries… and who does’t like a good bush who-done-it?

Yup, we were short on kitty shots by the time we got to Luangwa Valley, but we made up for that every day. Between Tena Tena and Kaingo, I think we saw 8 different leopards, with multiple sightings of Malaika, a resident female, and her almost grown daughter. Malaika is a relentless hunter. We watched her stalking, then trying to grab low-flying Guinea fowl from the air. She also attacked an adult male bushbuck. We followed the local lion pride as they began an evening hunt. We could have stayed with them, but we opted to return to camp rather than continue into a night safari. We caught up with the lions again the next morning as they were devouring a buffalo bull.

One of the safari highlights was provided by an unfortunate hippo who had died in the Luangwa River. Its swollen carcass was continually gnawed on by a cauldron of crocodiles (my own collective noun). Hundreds of crocodiles fed on that hippo. They were much more polite to each other than the lions, which growl and fight for their place at the table. With crocs it was more simple. The big guys took turns using a spiraling roll to tear off chunks of meat. Then it was time for a sunbath on a convenient sandy beach, allowing the females and smaller crocs to come in. Someone counted 187 crocodiles there at one time. This croc banquet continued the entire length of our stay at Kaingo Camp. Grisly, gruesome…fascinating.

Zambia never lets me down, and I’m looking forward to returning in June and October of 2017.


ITINERARY IN BRIEF

11 June Arrive in Johannesburg, AtholPlace Hotel (2 nts)

12 June At leisure in Johannesburg, AtholPlace

13 June Scheduled flight to Lusaka, meet Allen Bechky, Latitude 15 Hotel (1 nt)

14 June Scheduled flight to Lower Zambezi, transfer to Chiawa Camp (3 nts)

15-16 June Activities in Lower Zambezi, overnights at Chiawa Camp

17 June Charter/scheduled light air transfer to Kafue via Lusaka, transfer to Shumba Camp (3 nts)

18-19 June Activities in Busanga Plains, Kafue; overnights at Shumba Camp

20 June Light air & scheduled flights to Mfuwe (via Lusaka), transfer to Tena Tena Camp (3 nts)

21-22 June Activities in South Luangwa, overnights at Tena Tena Camp

23 June Game drive transfer to Kaingo Camp (4 nts)

24-26 June Activities in South Luangwa, overnights at Kaingo Camp

27 June Scheduled flight to Lusaka, transfer to Latitude 15 Hotel (1 nt)

28 June Departure from Lusaka


Get in touch to learn more about specialist private guides, safaris in Zambia, or traveling with Allen Bechky.

Wildebeast ,Tubu Tree, Botswana

Mike & Trina’s Sensational Anniversary Safari

It was clear to us as our safari unfolded, that Kili listened carefully to us and, through a couple of phone conversations, teased out nuanced information that ultimately translated into specific experiences designed to delight us. Next Adventure nailed it. –Mike R., Fresno, CA

Mike & Trina wanted to celebrate their 30th Wedding Anniversary with a memorable trip to Africa, and Kili connected with them to craft just the right combination of experiences to suit their interests and style. Read their trip report below to see just how Mike & Trina felt about their Next Adventure anniversary safari! All photos are courtesy of Mike and Trina.


Mosi Oa Tunya Falls, Zambezi River, Zambia

Mosi Oa Tunya Falls, Zambezi River, Zambia

Our anniversary safari began after a restful night in Johannesburg and a morning flight to Livingstone, Zambia. Toka Leya Camp, on the shore of the Zambezi River, is a perfect starting point for a safari. We had the chance to walk with Zambian Rangers to locate and observe a rare White Rhino in Mosi Oa Tunya National Park and stand in the soaking spray of the stunningly beautiful and powerful flood-stage Victoria Falls. Meeting families in a local village and spotting birds and wildlife from a sunset cruise on the Zambezi were auspicious signs for the rest of our safari. To set the tone for our entire trip, we received extraordinary, friendly and personal attention at every moment while at Toka Leya.

Botswana

From Livingstone, we flew across the Okavango Delta to our first bush camp, Tubu Tree Camp, and we were awestruck by the landscape and the unique ecosystem: the termite mounds, the “islands”, the seasonal changes, the long journey of the water from Angola into the Kalahari sands, the tree and plant species, and the medicinal and functional plants. The region captured our interest and our hearts forever.

To land at Tubu Tree’s airstrip, our pilot actually had to ‘fly by’ an elephant to move him off the airstrip. As if that wasn’t enough of an amazing welcome, we were greeted by the singing staff of Tubu Tree when we arrived at camp. It was the best greeting throughout our trip. The staff shared their happiness and excitement with us over the arrival of the ‘pushing’ water into the Delta. Our view from our tent was remarkable: each day we watched five or more species play, fight, court, chase, eat and relax in the flood plain in front of our room. We actually wish we could have spent more time in the room.

Perhaps one of the highlights within a trip of many was the expert guiding of Seretse ‘The General’ while at Tubu Tree. He immediately figured out how much we enjoyed learning, and he entertained and educated us for three days and nights. Seretse was committed fully to making sure we were having the best experience possible, and it was very special to be the only couple in the Land Rover for so many outings. We saw our first leopard, our first lion, a rambunctious baby elephant mock charging us, and the spectacular sight of a herd of buffalo racing through the water.

Across the Delta we flew–in a helicopter this time–arranged as a surprise by Next Adventure! During this short low-flying flight we spotted massive elephant herds (100+ elephants), a large cape buffalo herd and beautiful running giraffes.

Chitabe Lediba’s setting, being mostly dry in comparison to Tubu Tree, gave us an important, differentiated experience, sandwiched between Tubu Tree and Little Mombo. The camp was delightfully small, simple and humble when compared to the others. We had fun, memorable communal meals at Chitabe Lediba. At the table were people from Massachusetts, California, South Africa, Kenya and London. It was a great two nights of fun, food, drink, stargazing and conversation.

At the suggestion of another couple, campmates from Durban, South Africa, we joined them in a full-day drive instead of splitting the day into two drives. The camp staff enthusiastically agreed to an all-day drive including an amazing campfire-cooked lunch on the bank of the Gomoti River. We spent a memorable 13-hours with our guide, OD, and our two campmates.

We covered miles and miles of territory and saw lions, lions and more lions. We will forever remember Chitabe Lediba for its lions. There are three prides of Lions in the Chitabe concession. I believe we saw every member of every pride…including their cubs. We also experienced two days of leopard cub drama. Day one we spotted a lone cub in a thicket without its sibling and mother. Day two, much to everyone’s relief, we returned to see that the mother and the cub sibling had returned.

We went to Africa not thinking hyenas would be very interesting but we discovered them to be just the opposite. Their pups found us interesting and walked directly to us, curiously inspecting us and our vehicle, biting our tires and playing and fighting with one another as their nursing mothers carefully watched. Regarding bird watching, where Tubu Tree delivered us beautiful water bird sightings, Chitabe Lediba  showed us nearly every species of owl, eagle and vulture, which really rounded-out our bird sighting experience.

Our arrival at Little Mombo was preceded by an hour-long, breathtaking helicopter ride over Chief Island and the Moremi Game Reserve. The flight was highlighted by truly spectacular rhino sightings, including a black rhino and her baby and a white rhino and her baby. The wildlife around Mombo continued to deliver outstanding experiences like a rare sighting of a male cheetah, a leopard with an impala kill in a tree, and a running baby giraffe. Our guide, Sefo, took the time to show us how to track and often stopped to draw prints of different species.

The hospitality and special details at Little Mombo impressed us. On night one our bed featured a “Welcome to Little Mombo” message written on top of the comforter with beans. On night two there was a “Happy Anniversary” message written in English and Setswana…a classy detail that made us feel pretty special. We were treated to a luxurious private “bush picnic”. The picnic was near Mombo’s hide and adjacent to a main channel.

We never guessed we would be sitting in beanbag chairs eating fine cheese and drinking wine in the Okavango Delta! At one moment during the picnic we had six species in close range seeming to watch us as we relaxed, including a family of busy hippos, a small herd of Lechwe, a fish eagle, a bull elephant, baboons, vervet monkeys, and some cattle egrets. Finally, the sundowners beneath a Baobab tree – we met the other Little Mombo guests for cocktails at the base of an old Baobab tree. The staff brought not only the fixings for cocktails but also furniture and lighting. At that moment it could have been the world’s most exotic cocktail party.

Cape Town

From the plains of Botswana, we flew to the cosmopolitan city of Cape Town. Four days in the Kensington Place Boutique Hotel was an outstanding hotel experience. The manager was a joy to talk to and a great source of information. We were upgraded to a room adjacent to the hotel that turned out to be a very large, luxuriously appointed five-star studio villa. We just loved it.

Once again, our guide, Lazarus, was exceptional. We spent four full days with him, so we got to know him relatively well. He was as much a part of our experience – and as enjoyable – as the activities and sightseeing. Like all of our guides on safari we most enjoyed getting to know their personal stories and sharing conversations with them throughout our stay. In Cape Town, the District Six Museum, as suggested by our guide, was fascinating and heartbreaking, and it gave us a proper contextual link between Cape Town’s apartheid-related troubles and the state of South African society today. This was a more powerful and intimate experience than we expected.

Cape Winelands

The unexpected raw beauty of the Cape Peninsula coastline made us feel like we wanted more time to walk the beaches and explore. Our visit to The Cape of Good Hope was a special moment in Mike’s family history, and the winelands were familiar (being from Northern California) and charming. Your dining recommendation of The Tasting Room was the most eclectic dining experience EVER. The entire experience was strange and surreal and unlike any high-end dining experience we’ve ever had. The menu and plated presentation was completely wacky and wonderful. Thank you!

Everything about our safari was perfectly planned. The personal, concierge-style of hospitality; the well-designed luxury tent palaces. Every camp had something unique and special about the tents/rooms; the self-sustaining operations in the middle of nowhere fascinated us, and each setting was a standout. 

To us, a safari is an invigorating, immersive, interactive, fun, mobile wilderness symposium, and it is an investment in your health and well-being. Africa settles emphatically in your soul, and, when you return home, it becomes clear that Africa will always be with you. The safari experience is so much more than wildlife and photography, it’s non-stop stimulation of the senses; the smell of sage on your clothes following a drive; dodging a thorny acacia branch as it slips through your Land Rover; the stench of a predator’s kill; the distant roar of a lion at dawn; the whoop of a hyena; the warning song of a francolin; the conversations with locals; the silhouettes of baobab trees at sunset; the unforgettable grunt of a hippo at night; finding the southern cross in the night sky; being awakened by a baboon fight beneath your tent and the exciting child-like feeling of anticipation around what tomorrow will bring. The total safari experience includes everything a camera can never record – those uniquely nuanced sensory experiences that are forever yours and yours alone.


Mike & Trina’s Anniversary Safari
Victoria Falls, Botswana, and Cape Town

Itinerary in Brief:

Day 1: AM arrival in Livingstone, Zambia. Transfer to Toka Leya Camp (2 nts)

Day 2: Full day of exploration in Victoria Falls and Livingstone

Day 3: Light aircraft to the Okavango Delta, transfer to Tubu Tree Camp (3 nts)

Days 4-5: Wildlife viewing activities from your base at Tubu Tree Camp

Day 6: Liight aircraft transfer to Chitabe Lediba Camp (2 nts)

Day 7: Wildlife viewing activities from your base at Chitabe Lediba Camp

Day 8: Helicopter transfer to Little Mombo Camp (3 nts)

Days 9-10: Wildlife viewing activities in the Moremi Game Reserve from Little Mombo

Day 11: Flight to Maun, connect to Cape Town. Transfer to the Kensington Place Boutique Hotel (4 nts)

Day 12: Full day private tour of Cape Town, Table Mountain & Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Day 13: Full day private tour of the Cape Peninsula Cape of Good Hope & Boulders Beach

Day 14: Day at leisure to explore the other highlights of Cape Town

Day 15: Full day private tour of the Cape Winelands with drop-off at Le Quartier Francais (1 nt)

Day 16: Transfer to Cape Town International Airport for your international departure

Kudu in the Grass, Linyanti

A Spin Through Bots & Zim

In May, I had an opportunity to travel with African Bush Camps to experience their intimate safari camps in Botswana and Zimbabwe, and I also had a chance to visit a few other camps and lodges nearby. It was a great experience and a wonderful introduction to a safari company that is leading the industry in environmental design and sustainable community-supported conservation.

Explore a full interactive map of my itinerary below, and get in touch to learn more about safari options in Southern Africa.

Linyanti Bush Camp – Chobe – Botswana

My first stop was Linyanti Bush Camp on the Linyanti channel just outside of Chobe National Park. As we approached the camp after a game drive from the airstrip, we spotted our first cat, an adult female leopard coming out for the evening’s hunt. The camp is simple, classy and comfortable with a nice dining tent and a sitting area looking out over the marshes. The lack of water in the channel was the talk of the camp as the rains were late. News of the coming floods was traveling faster than the water itself. The staff was genuinely warm, they were wonderful storytellers, and they seemed to make an immediate connection with each guest.

In the evening, we had one of the most beautiful sundowner experiences I can remember on the edge of a perfectly still pond mirroring a huge sunset. A family of curious elephants cautiously approached for a drink while we clinked our glasses and snapped hundreds of photos.  

Khwai Tented Camp – Moremi – Botswana

We were welcomed to Khwai Tented Camp with traditional songs and a personal introduction by the whole team. The camp sits on a seasonal lagoon, the main area is comfy and rustic, and the staff really makes you feel at home. The guest tents can feel a little close together, but they are classic and well-appointed with bucket showers and a nice, spacious deck overlooking the lagoon.

The camp is on a community-run concession on the eastern border of the Moremi Game Reserve where we had a good sighting of an adolescent leopard posing and changing positions and soaking up the last of the day’s sunshine. After a fun sundowner with lots of elephants and hippo interactions, the night drive back to camp was very busy. We had a serval sighting, and we watched a baby hyena climbing all over it’s mother. With lots of time for photographs, and our guide was very good helping us with nighttime photo settings. Our group arrived just outside of camp for a lively bush dinner with singing and dancing amongst hundreds of lanterns and millions of stars.

The Khwai village visit was particularly meaningful. We met with an elderly San woman who talked about the relationship between her culture, the government of Botswana, the national park service and the wild game that regularly pass through the village of 200 people.

Victoria Falls Hotel – Vic Falls – Zimbabwe

Stately, classic and a little aged around the edges is part of the charm of The Victoria Falls Hotel. The beautiful grounds are meticulously trimmed by resident warthogs, and mongoose families scurry about. A grand patio overlooks the Gorge with a huge column of mist rising over the falls.

The hotel is in a constant process of updates and reconfigurations to stay current. Some rooms have newer bigger bathrooms that are completely modern and chic, while other rooms are being combined to make for very large and luxurious suites. The common areas can feel a bit formal, and the dining room seems unchanged from the historic photos that line the halls.

The best aspect of the Vic Falls Hotel is its on-going commitment to providing a comprehensive array of services to hotel guests and visitors. The full-service salon and barbershop make for a nice stop in the middle of a long safari, and the famous high tea on the veranda is a great way to pause and relax in style during a busy day of activities.

Victoria Falls Safari Lodge – Vic Falls – Zimbabwe

The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge has a wide range of accommodations from the newer, more exclusive Club, to the private stand-alone Suites to the Main Lodge. The Bar at the Main Lodge is busy and fun with a great view over a frequently visited waterhole below. The rooms have wonderful views with new bathrooms and all the amenities, and I found the staff to be particularly friendly and helpful. While the lodge is a little outside of town, the famous Boma restaurant is very close by. With nightly drummers, singing, dancing, fortune-tellers, The Boma serves an amazing buffet of traditional Zimbabwean dishes, a huge variety of grilled game meats and the must-try mopane worms (salty and crunchy). Sure, the dining experience is a little touristy, but it’s also great fun. There’s more than enough really good food, and you can’t help but enjoy the energy of the show.

Ilala Lodge – Vic Falls – Zimbabwe

Ilala Lodge is another nice option right in town and one of the closest lodges to the Falls. The main dining and bar area is huge, opening up to a wide veranda with beautiful grounds right under the spray. It feels classy and relaxed, and the in-house restaurant, The Palm, is one of the best in town. The lodge is just around the corner from ATMs and shopping at the nearby Elephant Walk, famous for its persistent souvenir-selling entrepreneurs.

Gorges Lodge – Vic Falls – Zimbabwe

Imvelo’s Gorges Lodge has what no other lodge can offer: an absolutely breathtaking setting right on the edge of the sheer cliffs of the Batoka Gorge with an almost-nightly fly-by of black eagles and lanner falcons. Gorges is located a few miles outside of Vic Falls, and it’s nice to get out of the touristy center of town. The lodge is charming with a cozy little bar and open-air dining room. The staff is hired directly from the nearby village: warm, friendly and homespun. The chalets are comfy with recently refurbished bathrooms and showers and sliding glass doors that open up right over the gorge.  Little Gorges is a small tented camp next door, and the brand new tents are really well-designed to take full advantage of the awesome cliffside views.

Activities in Vic Falls

Vic Falls has become a destination for a wide variety of wildlife and adrenaline activities. Within an hour of crossing the border, I was leaping off the Vic Falls Bridge for an exhilarating Gorge Swing. I found it to be much more pleasant than the traditional bunjee jump which leaves you yo-yoing upside down for a few minutes after the jump. The gorge swing attaches at the torso which means that after the jump, while they reel you in, you can comfortably look around at the mossy, rain-forested walls of the Batoka Gorge from a completely unique perspective.

I also had an opportunity to experience the Falls from above on a short helicopter flip. It’s amazing to see the mighty Zambezi River spill over the shelf of the Falls with the gorge cutting it’s way East to the horizon. While the helicopter was fun, the microlight flight I did in 2014 is my favorite. With just you and a pilot puttering 1000 feet over the Falls on a moped with wings, you can feel the cool air from the Falls as it updrafts and jostles the tiny aircraft.

Somalisa Camp – Hwange – Zimbabwe

Somalisa Camp was the talk of the safari industry. It had just won a design award at We Are Africa as well as the first Gold certification in Zimbabwe from Green Tourism. While my expectations were high, Somalisa delivered. It is an oasis of a camp. As we approached, a small family of elephants was stopping by for a drink from the plunge pool right in front of the camp. On our orientation, a half-dozen elephants wandered between the tents and welcomed us by shaking the camelthron trees for a tasty little snack. The guest tents are incredibly well-designed with lots of character and thoughtful features: perfectly positioned charging points and light switches, a cozy wood burning stove, luxurious cowhide carpets and a spacious bathroom with a giant copper and porcelain tub and indoor/outdoor showers.

We had a lively dinner with other guests from all over the world, and the staff was exceptional. The host, the servers, the manager, the chefs and the guide all made an impression with their enthusiasm, warmth and professionalism. On our game drives, we spent time with a small pride of lions, relatives of Cecil, a cheetah posed for us on a fallen tree, and giraffes wandered through the Ngweshla Pan under one of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve ever seen.

Bumi Hills – Lake Kariba – Zimbabwe

Bumi Hills Safari Lodge has been a staple on the shores of Lake Kariba since the 80s, and it was a pleasure to experience it for myself. Bumi is perched high on a hill with a spectacular view of the lake, and the game drives around the lodge offered lots of elephants, zebras and two lionesses on the prowl. On our sundowner cruise, the lake was perfectly flat, while the shore was crowded with thirsty elephants. While in some ways Bumi is showing it’s age, the recent renovation and relaxing resort feel offer a much-needed pit stop during a safari.

Kanga Camp – Mana Pools – Zimbabwe

Kanga Camp is easily one of the more unique and interesting camps in the Mana Pools area. It is set a little more than an hour from the Zambezi River around a very productive waterhole which is frequently visited by bathing elephants and thirsty leopard. It feels like a rustic, remote outpost, but the guests tents and main areas are homey and comfortable. Like all of the African Bush Camps properties, they seem to have thought of everything from the guest’s perspective while keeping a truly classic safari feel with big roomy tents, thoughtful amenities, a big outdoor shower area, and a secluded deck right on the edge of the waterhole. From Kanga, the game drives can include a visit to Mana’s Long Pool or a trip out to the Zambezi Expeditions camp for a paddle down the river. However, the more popular activity is to choose a comfortable armchair and watch the parade of game come visit the only reliable waterhole for miles.

Perhaps the best experience of my trip was the Kanga Under the Stars sleepout. We dined in a dry river bed, with our barefeet buried in a foot of sand, and we sat up late around the bonfire listening to hyenas calling all around us. With a bright full moon, we barely needed a flashlight to climb up onto the rustic lofted sleeping platforms draped only in mosquito netting. It was the best sleep of the trip!

Ruckomechi Camp – Mana Pools – Zimbabwe

Since I was in the neighborhood, I also had an opportunity to visit Wilderness Safaris’ Ruckomechi Camp which was just recently refurbished. The result is truly breathtaking. The centerpiece is an expansive deck that stretches along the Zambezi with stunning views of the hills just across the river in Zambia. The two main common areas, a bar tent and dining tent, are light and airy and luxurious, and the guest tents are simple and chic. As striking as the accommodations are, the best part of Ruckomechi is the friendly staff, the excellent guiding and the variety of ecosystems you can explore.

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