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.

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

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

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 Parks in Zimbabwe combined with the Linyanti/Selinda Reserve and Okavango Delta of Botswana provided a range of complementary experiences, ecosystems and wildlife, and we selected camps that could perfectly accommodate their interest in a high-quality photo safari.

We just returned from an incredible safari  organized by Kili McGowan at Next Adventure. Kili did an amazing job listening to our needs, and creating a custom photo safari itinerary for us. Each camp was special in its own way, and we felt privileged to be able to learn about some of the history and culture in these two countries, as well as achieve one of our primary goals – to obtain outstanding photographs of wildlife! Kili was extremely knowledgeable about the weather and wildlife we were likely to see in each place. We look forward to traveling to Africa again soon and will enjoy working with Kili to plan our future adventures. —Karen P.

Itinerary in Brief

Day 1 Arrive in Vic Falls, Fly to Hwange, Transfer toLittle Makalolo Camp (3 nts)
Days 2-3 Private safari activities from Little Makalolo Camp
Day 4 Transfer to airstrip, Fly to Mana West airstrip, Transfer toRuckomechi Camp (3 nts)
Days 5-6 Private safari activities from Ruckomechi Camp
Day 7 Transfer to airstrip, Fly to Vic Falls Airport, Transfer to The Elephant Camp (1 nt)
Day 8 Transfer to Airport, Fly to Little Vumbura via Kasane, Transfer to Little Vumbura (3 nts)
Days 9-10 Private safari activities from Little Vumbura
Day 11 Transfer to airstrip, Fly to Savuti Camp (3 nts)
Days 12-13 Private safari activities from Savuti Camp
Day 14 Transfer to airstrip, Fly to JNB via Maun for international departure

See more of Karen’s amazing photography!

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 sightings and animals that we have not seen before.  We always turn to Kili to design a customized itinerary for us.  Mission accomplished on our 2015 trip to South Africa for our 42nd wedding anniversary, as we saw some rare nocturnal animals like the Brown Hyena and the Aardwolf.  We had great sightings of the big cats, rhinos, and wonderful wild dog puppies too!  This trip was one of the highlights of our career. –Glenn H.

Glenn is an avid wildlife photographer, and he captured some amazing moments. I mean, who gets a picture of an Elephant Shrew and an Aardwolf and a tiny Wild Dog pup and a nursing rhino!?!

Itinerary in Brief

  • Day 1  Arrive JNB, Transfer to Madikwe Reserve, Madikwe Safari Lodge – Dithaba (3 nights)
  • Day 2-3  Game viewing activities from Madikwe Safari Lodge
  • Day 4  Transfer to Marakele National Park, Marataba Safari Lodge (3 nights)
  • Day 5-6  Game viewing activities from Marataba Safari Lodge
  • Day 7  Transfer to JNB, Fly to Skukuza, Transfer to Sabi Sands, Sabi Sabi Selati (3 nights)
  • Day 8-9  Game viewing activities from Sabi Sabi Selati
  • Day 10  Transfer to Nelspruit, Fly to Port Elizabeth via JNB, Transfer to Kwandwe Ecca Lodge (3 nights)
  • Day 11-12  Game viewing activities from Kwandwe Ecca Lodge
  • Day 13  Transfer to Port Elizabeth Airport, Fly to JNB for international departure


Great shots, Glenn, and Happy Anniversary!

Happy Lion near Selinda

A Safari for Sisters in Botswana & Cape Town

Myra came to Next Adventure looking to share a special, once-in-a-lifetime, first-time safari with her sister Toby. After getting to know them and their preferences, we settled on a slightly off-season safari in Botswana followed by a visit to Cape Town.

Early November is fast becoming the ‘not-so secret season’ because it still offers great wildlife viewing but with better availability and lower rates. Here’s what we came up with:

  • Scheduled flight from Joburg to Maun, light aircraft transfer to Selinda Reserve, 3 nights at Selinda Camp
  • Helicopter transfer to Okavango Delta, 3 nights at Duba Plains Camp
  • Light aircraft transfer to Jao Concession, 2 nights at Kwetsani Camp
  • Light aircraft transfer to Maun, scheduled flight to Cape Town, 3 nights at Cape Grace Hotel

Myra says:

I loved the combination in all of our camps of both waterlife and wildlife. My sister and I both bought “real” cameras for the trip and were particularly well taken care of by both guides and camp managers as we fooled around with apertures and settings. I feel that the planning that went into our trip was a wonderful balance of water, land, sky and people.

The weather in ‘early off season” was absolutely perfect — not dusty, a little rain (well, a lot of rain in one deluge), not too warm — mild and temperate. This weather contributed so much to the overall enjoyment and thrill of the safari.

Having great confidence in Kili was the easiest part of the planning. Kili establishes confidence with the first conversation. Her knowledge is unlimited. I was especially grateful for everything included in dossier from tips on packing and gratuities to park and lodge information–all first rate. For a first time visitor to the splendor of Africa, I do not have one thing to complain about. I just put my trust in Kili.

Toby says:

Where will I even begin to comment on the beautiful trip you planned for us? Not one detail was a disappointment: the camps were fabulous, the hospitality so warm and welcoming, the food delicious, the guides so informing, the camp managers were perfect.

My husband and I have been on many fabulous trips around the world but this one was so unique. I do believe that it is my most favorite trip just due to the tranquility of the open plains, the magnificent animals, the splendid sunsets, bumping along in the jeeps, meeting all of the very interesting travelers, etc. The food was so outstanding as well as healthy. Everything was perfect.

Special thanks to all our trusted partners on the ground for all their hard work in making every trip so special. It’s such an honor to put together a meaningful trip, and thanks to Myra & Toby for sharing such great feedback.

Some of Kili’s photos from Botswana 2012. Click any thumbnail to enter gallery.

Photo by Carole M.

The noise was incredible!

Every sunrise and sunset, I found the African skies to be as beautiful as the animals. On arriving at my first camp, I saw zebras right across the river! And, elephants, elephants, elephants!

For Redge and Carole’s safari, we developed a 15-day itinerary in Botswana that included the Kalahari, Moremi, the Okavango Delta and Savuti as well as a visit to Vic Falls.

In Moremi, we followed wild dogs. They cornered a lion by jumping in a circle about 3 feet in the air. At the same time on the other side of the car, a leopard showed up stalking wildebeest, and then, because the dogs were noisy, a hyena came as well. All within 30 minutes!

That same night we had 2 hippos running around our tent! The noise was incredible!

Here’s some photos by Carole & Redge:


Thanks to Carole & Redge for sharing their photos and such an exciting safari moment.