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.

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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 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.

Get in touch to plan your perfect safari

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 of Africa. After our successful India Wildlife Safari, we know that India can be a destination for both cultural aficionados and wildlife enthusiasts.

We had an excellent start to our safari on our game drives with Shree and Tarun. Our first drives focused on the general game and birdlife of Madhya Pradesh, which was much appreciated as the group got settled into their Indian safari rhythm. I was surprised to have our first tiger sighting on the first full day there…a male who had been lying in a waterhole got up and walked away, offering an excellent first view.

Kili led a group of savvy travelers to the varied ecosystems of Pench National Park, Kanha National Park, and Bandhavgarh National Park, in search of Bengal Tigers. Not only did our intrepid group find tigers, they also encountered a wide range of other mammals and birdlife that shares the jungle home of the tiger. Careful searches in the various parks yielded some outstanding sightings of tigers, including a tigress sharing a kill with her four cubs. Another top experience for the group was tracking and observing a group of wild dog for over an hour in the forests of Pench.

In Bandhavgarh, we had an excellent sighting on the second morning finding a tigress with 4 cubs of about 9 months. One vehicle spent over an hour watching them including hearing the cubs and mother kill a chital faun. The last morning was probably a favorite sighting by the whole group. We spent nearly an hour with four wild dogs, watching them move through the forest, scent-mark and play.

Travelers combined extensions with the group India Wildlife Safari. Kaziranga National Park and Satpura National Park offered more incredible wildlife—sloth bears, Indian rhinos, gibbons, and wild elephants to name a few species. Agra and Kolkata showed guests a side of India fueled by two kinds of love—romantic love at the Taj Mahal and selfless love of Mother Teresa’s work in Kolkata. As always, Next Adventure immerses travelers in the culture —with walking tours of Old Delhi, explorations of important historical monuments and glimpses of scenes of everyday life. The experiences with culture and wildlife were matched by legendary Indian hospitality and attentive service from our partners. Accommodation was chosen with care and meals surpassed expectations in quality, taste, and creativity.

We thought the local staff was superb throughout the trip. They were very reliable, and always professional and friendly. We have to say that, as promised, the food on the whole trip was spectacular. Such variety and fresh, wonderful spices. The food will absolutely be one of our finest memories.

India is a gorgeous mosaic of life pulsing out of every corner, so prepare to be embraced by it’s people and delve into the history both ancient and modern. Revel in the absolute chaos of its cities and marvel at the serenity of the wilderness areas. Seek out the elusive wildlife that call India home and be rewarded with a safari that is like no other.

We’ve simply never gone wrong with Next Adventure. Traveling with Kili and the group was fun. We enjoyed the company; there were some very experienced travelers in the group and we got a lot out of the conversations and experiences.

Here’s the full detailed itinerary and extensions. Get in touch to learn more about wildlife safaris throughout India!

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. There is maximum flexibility in what guests can do, unlimited explorations through the two massive conservancies plus the reserve, and attentiveness from the Great Plains team that make Mara Plains Camp a retreat rather than a lodge.

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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 early 2000s, Zimbabwe went through a tumultuous transition politically, but continued to draw loyal safari-goers who cherished the country’s unique offerings.

I was honored to be asked to be one of the first travel professionals to take part in Wilderness Safari’s new Hwange Walking Safari, which is now offered in June, July, and August as an expertly guided small group departure on set dates. Having both traveled and lived there, my love for Zimbabwe was only rekindled during my latest exploration in November 2015 when I took a small group of select clients on an exploratory walking safari through Hwange National Park and Mana Pools National Park.

Our scouting safari was in November and it was much hotter than expected — nearly 50 degrees Celsius (that’s about 122 Fahrenheit). Due to the extreme heat, Wilderness Safaris suggested we modify our itinerary for the best experience while keeping the integrity of the walking safari.

The group trip differs slightly from my exploratory and will have no more than 7 guests (sorry no children allowed unless you book a private departure) staying at Davison’s Camp, Linkwasha Camp, and a fly camp (dome tents, mattresses, and separate shared toilet & shower facilities) in Hwange National Park’s Linkwasha concession. This is an ideal choice for those who want to feel the land under the soles of their shoes and have time to observe the daily struggle for survival of the region’s unique flora and fauna.

We flew into Harare and connected by light aircraft transfer (about 1.5 hours) to Mana Pools National Park in the Northeast of Zimbabwe. Famed for canoeing safaris and excellent walking, Mana Pools is right on the Zambezi River. We were based at Wilderness Safaris’ Ruckomechi Camp, open during the dry season (April 1-Nov 15). We loved the camp as it was but with a complete relocation and renovation for the 2016 season, it’ll be even better!

Everything at Mana Pools is focused on the Zambezi. You can paddle a canoe, ride a pontoon boat, zip along in a speed boat, cast a line for fishing, set out on foot on the shore, or explore adjacent areas by 4×4 vehicle. It was refreshing to be on the water in that heat. Our canoes held 2 or 3 people, one of whom was a guide. There were intense moments with hippos as the waters were so shallow; our skilled and confident guides handled mock charges so well that we felt safe enough to be exhilarated. There was amazing elephant and buffalo viewing along the riverbanks and dense concentrations of game on all of our activities.

On our morning walk, we rounded a corner to find an entire herd of elephant fast asleep in the shade! It was a gentle reminder that extreme heat is brutal on the wildlife, and they have to seek relief too. Sundowners were spectacular along the river, and one evening we had a very exciting encounter with a leopard. Mana Pools is everything you could want in a wilderness and so a great place to begin our safari.

We next flew to Hwange National Park. Upon arrival at Little Makalolo Camp, we immediately were impressed with our guide’s knowledge of the area.  He asked us to meet him at hide in front of the camp—which is a famous spot for wildlife viewing. It was mid-afternoon and we were all wilting from the heat, but, moments after we settled into the hide, a huge breeding herd of elephant showed up. Our guide knew exactly when they would appear and how long they would stay! We gazed in awe at the babies frolicking in the water. We were so close to the elephants that we were sprayed by elephant snot—it was awesome (and a little gross)! Our game drives through the woodlands of the area were prolific, and the diversity of wildlife near the pans was remarkable. After a few days of luxury camp life, we were ready to walk!

The following morning, we set out on foot across the Linkwasha concession—with sprawling pans and wildlife great and small sharing our journey. Walking is at a moderate pace, and the day’s routing is tailored to the guests’ abilities and interests. Our expert guide, Lewis, read the landscape and interpreted local wildlife stories while we ambled. Packed lunches and siestas beneath shady trees were welcomed breaks before we arrived at our modest fly camp. The attentive staff of steward, chef and waiter catered to every need while we settled in for the evening of dinner, campfire stories and stargazing.

We finished our walk at Linkwasha Camp set amid the Ngamo Plains. The contemporary tents were a perfect end to our meander through Hwange. Despite the heat, we were able to enjoy the natural splendor of the park and see spectacular game including the rare sable antelope along the way. What clearly makes a walking safari in Zimbabwe superior to those offered in other countries is the guiding. Still collectively the finest guides on the continent in my opinion, all of our Zimbabwean guides showed a caliber of knowledge and training that are superb.

Book your walking safari to Zimbabwe and experience this guiding for yourself!

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 and for spectacular natural beauty.

I was fortunate to join clients recently on a safari to Murchison Falls and Queen Elizabeth National Parks and to continue afterwards on my own to check out the remote Kidepo National Park in northeastern Uganda.

Murchison Falls
Our small group left Entebbe after a refreshing night at the Protea Entebbe Hotel. Our overland journey (about 5-6 hours, flights are also available) took us north to Murchison Falls National Park. Created in 1926 to protect the grasslands surrounding the Nile River and most known for the Falls themselves, Murchison offers guests a wide variety of activities and game viewing options.

Of course, the highlight is witnessing the Nile River blast through a narrow gorge and cascade into a placid river below. Guests can marvel and take photos from the top or the bottom of the falls. The boat cruise to the base of the Falls guarantees you’ll get wet from spray, but it offers a spectacular perspective on the thundering waterfall.

The area is a birder’s paradise, with Bee Eaters nesting in cliffs along the waterway and opportunities to see the rare Shoebill Stork. Nearby game viewing includes huge numbers of hippos, crocodiles, buffalo, herds of antelope and much more! We all very much enjoyed the Delta Point where where the Victoria Nile passes through the northern tip of Lake Albert to become the Albert Nile. The cruise ends at the Lake Albert community where guests glimpse local lifestyles and hard working fishing villages.

Murchison Falls offers the best of traditional game viewing in Uganda. Visitors to the park are likely to encounter lion, giraffe, large elephant herds, and plentiful plains game when on game drives by vehicle.

In the evenings, you can relax overlooking the river—from the luxury lodges like Paraa Safari Lodge or the more intimate luxury tented camp, Baker’s Lodge, which features 8 exquisite tents. Three nights in Murchison allows you time to appreciate this amazing park.

Kibale
Heading to Kibale Forest National Park in the Rift Valley (about 8 hours by road), we passed many small villages and towns on our scenic drive. Our destination was the splendid Ndali Lodge, perched on a ridge of an extinct volcano overlooking kettle lakes that dot the landscape. This small lodge of 8 cottages offers fine dining, genuine hospitality and exquisite views of the Rwenzori Mountains. From here, we went for a morning trek to locate wild chimpanzees in their forest habitat. Walking along cleared trails with a local guide, it is virtually guaranteed to find a troop of chimpanzees either in the trees or (more rarely) moving on the ground.

As with all primate viewing regulated by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, we were allowed to observe the chimpanzees for one hour before moving on to other activities in and around Kibale. Our afternoon included a wonderful community walk around the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, spying some of the smaller creatures and bird life in the area.

Queen Elizabeth
A short drive the following day took us to the Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP)—there again we took to the water to maximize our game viewing experience. Along the Kazinga Channel, which connects Lake Edward with Lake George, wildlife congregates and birds literally flock together. Elephants frolicked, buffalo grazed and hippos spy hopped during our languid exploration.

Guests here can enjoy another trek for chimpanzees in Kyambura Gorge or explore the woodlands of the southern sector of the park, called Ishasha. We chose to stay one night at the delightful classic tented camp, Ishasha Wilderness Camp, which was tucked into a thicket of trees along the cool riverbanks of the Ntungwe River.

The Ishasha sector is famed for tree-climbing lions which we were lucky to see before heading down to Bwindi for our gorilla trekking experience. Although the game concentration was light compared to Murchison Falls, we still enjoyed the natural beauty of the park and recommend visiting QENP.

Bwindi
Winding upward through tea plantations and beautiful mountain forests, we arrived at the aptly named Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Each day, small groups of intrepid travelers join expert park rangers and trackers to search out families of gorillas living on the steep cool slopes.

Visitors should be in good health (gorillas can catch our colds and coughs!) and also reasonably fit. Treks can be arduous and may last many hours covering rugged bushwhacking terrain. Your Bwindi team will do their best to clear the trail for you, but vines and foliage will reach out for your clothes and seek to slow your pace even more than the incline!

That said, the effort—whether one hour of trekking or five—is so worth it when you turn a corner and find a gorilla family observing you as much as you observe them. Juveniles may tumble and play in a tree, a mother may cradle her infant as she munches on leaves, all while a somber silverback watches you intensely with deep brown eyes. He acknowledges your presence while sitting sentry and keeping his family safe.

Gazing on these magnificent animals as they peacefully make their way through their mountainous home is one of the most profound and emotional wildlife encounters I’ve experienced. It is humbling, breath-taking, and powerful…and it’s over in the blink of an eye. The hour flies by and suddenly you are euphorically hiking back toward the park headquarters—full of adrenaline and excitement over all you have just been part of.

Kidepo
You’d think gorilla tracking and chimpanzee tracking would be enough in Uganda. However, more wonder was revealed to me when I bid farewell to the group and ventured to Kidepo Valley National Park in the Northern reaches of Uganda. Just a two-hour flight from Entebbe, this stunning hidden gem of a park awaits.

Kidepo is an enormous park dominated by mountains and valleys with stretches of semi-arid plains tucked between them. I’ve seen natural beauty throughout the continent of Africa but Kidepo—by far—is the prettiest park I have seen. The remoteness and true wilderness feel of the park is enhanced by wonderful game viewing, outstanding accommodation, and genuine community interactions.

For those who have been to Kenya, imagine the marriage of the rugged dryness of the Samburu area with the abundant wildlife on the plains of Masai Mara—that is essentially Kidepo. Massive herds of buffalo and elephants wander the savannas, and predators like cheetah and lion intently follow those herds. Gorgeous Ugandan Kob and towering giraffe were some of the highlights. From our perch at the luxurious Apoka Lodge we could see zebra and other plains game on the expanses below.

Perhaps one of the most unexpected delights of my Kidepo visit was spending time in the local village with the Karamajong people of the region. They share some of the qualities and beliefs of the neighboring Maasai in Kenya and Tanzania, but they have their own fascinating traditions and unique culture to share with visitors. In a most authentic and unobtrusive way, guests to Kidepo can mingle with the Karamajong community to learn about their way of life.

Uganda has such a reputation as a destination for those interested in primates but I found it to be so much more than that. Gorgeous uncrowded natural areas, diverse bird and wildlife viewing, and respectful community initiatives set this destination apart from any other in Africa. I hope that more travelers make time to include the unique areas of Murchison Falls and Kidepo in addition to the primate rich circuit of Kibale, Queen Elizabeth, and Bwindi National Parks. The discoveries you will find in all of these places will make for an unparalleled safari experience.

Call to begin planning your exploration of Uganda’s wildlife havens!

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.

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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 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!?!

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Scouting India’s Best Wildlife Safaris

India_sm-23Over 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 our personal firsthand experience: the same combination that works so well for us in Africa.

As a child, I spent a lot of time in India with my parents, so I started my trip visiting old family friends in Delhi and taking a short trip up to Rishikesh near the mythological source of the sacred Ganga (Ganges River). Brief aside: Rishikesh played a pivotal role in popular culture when The Beatles visited in 1968, and it was advertised for years as the “Home of the Beatless”. Balancing traditional Indian experiences like seeing an Aarthi ceremony from an ashram with adventure activities like white-water rafting, I found these days in Rishikesh to be an excellent beginning to my reunion with India.

The core of my time in India was spent in the national parks of the central Indian state, Madhya Pradesh. I was amazed to see nearly everything from my wish-list (4 tigers, 3 leopards, wild dogs, many kinds of deer, etc) as well as over 90 species of bird. But I was also hooked and can’t wait to get back in search of more tigers and the elusive sloth bear and just to experience again the ambiance of the Indian jungle full of the call of wild peacocks and the guttural roar of tigers.

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Kili’s Look at Namibia’s Skeleton Coast

SkeletonCoast_sm-202The 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 cool ocean currents. The name is, surprisingly, quite recent and refers to the many shipwrecks that litter the inhospitable coast. It remains one of the most remote and pristine areas of the world.

Departing from Namibia’s charming capital city, Windhoek, I took a light aircraft transfer about 2.5 hours to the area. The beautiful new Hoanib Camp, which opened last year, is located in a valley close to the ephemeral riverbed of the Hoanib River, just 3km from Skeleton Coast National Park.

We began at sunrise with a game drive along the floodplains where we saw lots of desert-adapted elephants and giraffes. We crossed a beautiful dune field and saw a small group of oryx at an oasis as well as a solitary oryx on the dunes. Arriving at the rocky, foggy coast made an incredible finale to the day — a vast untouched coastline, a mangled shipwreck, a lively seal colony and a funky little museum at Mowe Bay. We flew back along the route we’d driven, which offered an excellent perspective and stunning photo opportunities.

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

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Canoeing through Zimbabwe's Mana Pools

Canoeing through Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools

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 ticket to Harare. If Kenya was the first love from my childhood, then Zimbabwe was the first love of my adult life. I’m excited to take a small group of travelers there this November to see first-hand the safari renaissance there.

Click to view a PDF of our exclusive Insider’s Safari to Zimbabwe Itinerary.

We pride ourselves on expanding travelers’ horizons and ensuring our safaris go beyond the must-dos that everyone else knows about. That’s why we’re called Next Adventure. Zimbabwe boasts many key features that we find essential:

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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 here.

The Lango and Ngaga Camps are spectacular, and the dense vegetative environment lent itself to some stunning macro-photography.

Click any thumbnail to enter the gallery.

See Kili’s full gallery here.

 

Flying over Sossusvlei, Namibia - Photo by Kili McGowan

Photos from Kili’s group trip to Namibia

This past September Kili led her first safari to Namibia. Read our 5 reasons for loving this spectacular destination.

Here’s the itinerary in brief:
Day 1 Arrival in Windhoek, The Olive Exclusive All-Suite Hotel
Day 2 & 3 Fly to Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, NamibRand Nature Reserve
Day 4 & 5 Fly to Mowani Mountain Camp, Damaraland
Day 6 & 7 Drive to Ongava Lodge, Southern Etosha National Park Boundary
Day 8 Drive to Okonjima Villa, AfriCat Foundation
Day 9 Drive to Windhoek, The Olive All-Suite Hotel
Day 10 Depart from Windhoek International Airport

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See Kili’s full gallery of photos here.

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:

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Marataba has it all!

We spent several memorable days enjoying boat cruises on the dam, a herd of 100+ elephants and informative walking safaris. I was so excited about the area that I can’t wait to come back and stay at their newly-opened Marataba Trails Camp offering the only Big 5 walking trails in a malaria-free environment!

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Sample Itinerary – Cape Town, Kruger & Marataba

9 nights from USD $5,995 per person sharing (minimum 2 people sharing)

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Flying over the Okavango Delta

Jeremy’s Botswana Camping Safari

Spending nine days in the bush, camping & traveling through Botswana’s most spectacular parks, encountering wildlife, dining & sleeping under the stars listening to the hippos jostle and the lions roar, all without having to cook a single meal or pop a tent or worry about a single thing other than keeping your camera charged!

It is beyond words.

Starting with a light aircraft flight into the Xaxanaka region of the Moremi Reserve for two nights, we went on to a camp near the Khwai River. After a five hour bumpy, sandy drive through the Mababe Depression, we were met by a few elephants checking out our campsite in Savuti. Then we continued on to the Chobe River, and finally ended up in Livingstone, Zambia for a hot hotel shower and a drenching at the edge of Victoria Falls.

Here is the full itinerary.

So many thanks to my traveling partners and the wonderful team, Mike, Bafana and Talu from Wilderness Dawning.

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Entering the Virungas Mountains

Jeremy’s Rwanda Gorilla Experience

Rwanda is so many things, and my time there was magical. Here’s the first video from my visit, starting with the gorilla tracking experience. I did two treks: first to the Susa group, and then to the Hirwa group.

The Susa trek was nearly a two hour climb into the misty highland. It is the largest tourist-accessible group with multiple silverbacks, some young babies and a rare set of twins, and it is one of the original groups studied by Diane Fossey. The hike was exhausting and my legs were shaky with fatigue, but it was so rewarding to spend an hour observing the young gorillas tumbling around.

Hirwa Family Tree

Hirwa Family Tree

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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!

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Safari Portraits by Bruce M.

Bruce and Patty’s South Africa, Uganda and Kenya Safari

Bruce & Patty first travelled with us 5 years ago on a Wilderness Dawning camping safari. This time around they wanted to return to some of their favorite camps on a self-driving safari in Kruger National Park.

They also planned their own visit to Uganda for Gorilla-tracking, and we wrapped their month-long safari up with a few days camping in Kenya.

Here are their top 7 moments…

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Our Rock – Kenya’s Maasai Mara – Photo by Taylor Phillips

Anisa & Taylor’s Semi-Extreme Honeymoon Safari

Both Anisa & Taylor were eager to get out of the vehicle and experience the African wilderness first hand. Check out this awesome video to see how they did…

Not only did we arrange a variety of activities, we also developed their itinerary around a diversity of environments and camp styles. We opted for private or community-owned reserves allowing for greater flexibility, privacy and special arrangements like impromptu picnic lunches, romantic bush dinners, private vehicles and specialist guides.

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View of the Coffee Fields - Gibbs Farm

Safari Seasons, They Are a-Changin’

It’s true!

Big 5 game viewing is best during the Dry Season. Usually July-October when water is scarce, a great number and variety of animals congregate without the obstruction of thick foliage or tall grass. Perfect conditions for first-time safari goers: it’s easier to find concentrations of wildlife, animals are easier to spot and it’s easier to take great photos.

However, with such perfect conditions, prices go up, availability at the best camps and lodges goes down, and prime wildlife viewing areas get crowded. Now, as more safari enthusiasts return to Africa and the conservation tourism industry matures, the traditional safari season is expanding.

More small owner-operated camps are open during the Green Season with reduced rates, less crowds and the added thrill of having to search for wildlife through dense bush. It is also the absolute best time for waterfalls, spotting baby animals and bird-watching. It’s also possible to find last minute availability on quality scheduled departures or at the best camps in the Serengeti.

Here’s this year’s top picks for summer adventures and holiday safaris…

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namibia kunene river valley

Five Reasons We Love Namibia

1. A Landscape Like No Other

Maybe this is true of any place, but there is nowhere on earth like Namibia. In population density, it ranks right there between Iceland and Mongolia.

namibia dune drive

Namibia Dune Drive

The Atlantic’s north-flowing Benguela current brings 180 days a year of fog to Namibia’s Skeleton Coast which is dotted with whale bones, shipwrecks and lions. Meanwhile, twenty mile long dunes crest at 1000 feet above the vast sand seas of the great Namib Desert. From gravel plateaus and bushveld to fossil forests and quivertrees, Namibia is a fascinating world of contrasts and extremes.

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Zarafa Zebras - Selinda Reserve - Botswana

Grant & Miriam’s Grand Tour of Southern Africa

Grant & Miriam’s three week trip in August of this year included some of our favorite destinations in Zambia, Botswana and South Africa, and they have the photos to prove it… (click thumbnails to enlarge images)

It wasn’t easy culling 4,000+ shots, but here’s a glimpse into some of the things we saw. What you won’t see are the places we stayed, people we met and many, many other pictures of the wildlife and surroundings where we traveled.

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Fig the Leopard - Olare Motorogi Conservancy - Kenya

Kili’s Kenya Safari – October 2013 – Trip Report

After a few days of meetings in Nairobi and a stay at the lovely new Hemingways Hotel, my Kenyan safari began with a flight past Mt Kenya to the Northern Laikipia Plateau. Here, I spent 2 nights at Sabuk Lodge perched on a cliff overlooking the Ewaso Nyiro River. This privately-owned lodge remains a family home run by the entertaining owner, Verity, who hosts all the meals regaling with stories of her rich history in the safari industry. Verity coordinates each guest’s schedule with unique adventure activities such as walking or hiking excursions and Masai-guided camel safaris with stunning views of the Laikipia plains, Mount Kenya, the Karisa Hills and the Mathews Mountains in the North.

For me, the real highlight was a surprise breakfast out in the bush after we had just walked past a breeding herd of female elephants and their young. I also really enjoyed jumping into the Ewaso Nyiro River for a refreshing swim in the heat of the day and can’t wait to return to do a longer overnight walking safari sleeping out with a simple mosquito net under the stars!

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Luangwa Valley from the Air…

We recently featured Chindeni Bushcamp, located on the edge of an oxbow lagoon in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park, for being one of our favorite small camps for families and groups of friends.
The Luangwa Valley is a safari-lovers paradise with unique camps in spectacular settings surrounded with abundant and diverse wildlife. That’s why we were so excited to see this amazing video giving “a fish-eagle’s view of Luangwa life.”

Safarious Luangwa Valley from the Air Video

Safarious Video – Luangwa Valley from the Air

And here’s a great video all about Chindeni Bushcamp…

Andy & Melinda’s Zambia and Botswana Safari

Andy and Melinda’s first trip with Next Adventure was three years ago to Tanzania and Kenya. For this year’s trip Kili put together a 17-night safari including Zambia’s renowned South Luangwa National Park, Victoria Falls, Botswana’s Okavango Delta and a day tour of Johannesburg exploring South Africa’s history.

We had a spectacular time! Our camps in Zambia—Kaingo and Mwamba—cater to photographers and each has a hide (blind) from which we got stellar opportunities to see a leopard kill and photograph hippos and elephants.

We got an overview of Botswana’s ecological diversity, from the watery Delta to the barren Kalahari. Selinda was probably our favorite camp (though it is nearly impossible to choose) where an intrepid guide led us to wondrous sightings of African Wild Dogs, cheetahs, and a pride where a lioness dragged a roan antelope to feed seven hungry cubs.

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Elephant in Marsh - Camp Shawu - Kruger - South Africa

Memories and Photos from Bill & Cindy

We asked Will & Cindy if they would share some of their stories and pictures from their past trips, and we got this wonderful array of safari memories and their ten best pictures from over the years…

We’ve done three African Safaris with Next Adventure, as well as a more recent India trip that Kili and Louise planned for us. We have so many stories…

The glass-walled cabins in a forest where I opened my eyes from bed in the middle of the night and was looking directly into the eyes of SOME large animal on the other side of the glass, having baboons swarm our jeep in Kruger with “Old Bob” and refuse to leave without handouts…

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Chimpanzee Trekking - Greystoke Mahale

New Greystoke Mahale Video

Nomad Tanzania just released a series of 3-minute videos about some of our favorite places including this one about Greystoke Mahale:

Remotely-set on the shores of Tanzania’s Lake Tanganyika, Greystoke Mahale is your home-base when trekking through the Mahale Mountains with one of the largest remaining populations of wild chimpanzees. It is also consistently praised for its tranquil setting and exceptional hospitality.

Chimpanzee Trekking in the Mahale Mountains

Chimpanzee Trekking in the Mahale Mountains

It’s easily one of the most unique places in the world, and one of Kili’s all-time favorite experiences. Here’s some photos of her trip there in 2012:


For more, visit the gallery here, then get in touch to start planning your next safari…