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.
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.
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.
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.
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