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

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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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.

Their first stop was Toka Leya Camp, on the banks of Zambia’s Zambezi River just a few miles upstream from Victoria Falls. This small tented camp’s wooden walkways meander under a canopy of jackalberry, knobthorn and waterberry trees.

After a day spent exploring Victoria Falls and Livingstone town, it was off to Botswana, flying over the Kazangula border, a point where the four countries of Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia meet, for a 3-night stay at Duba Plains Camp. Situated in the most remote reaches of the Okavango Delta, Duba Plains is the setting of an endless struggle between prides of lions and the enormous herds of buffalo which sustain them.

After watching National Geographic programs for years, I was concerned that we might be immune to the impact of seeing the animals in their environment. That disappeared immediately when, within hours of arriving and lasting for our entire trip, we were stretching our necks to see the giraffes eating leaves at the top of trees, staring in amazement at the size of the crocs on the river with their gleaming white teeth, and holding our breath as lions came by our vehicle and laid down to get some shade close enough to touch them (not!) and hear their breathing.

The next stop was Little Vumbura Camp in the northern Kwedi Reserve of the Okavango. Surrounded by rivers, open floodplains and dense mopane bushveld, the game and bird viewing is exceptional all year round with game drives, spectacular islands walk and excursions via Mokoro (a traditional dug-out canoe).

Their last stop in Botswana was at Zarafa Camp in the Selinda Reserve. This small, intimate camp overlooks the Zibadianja Lagoon, the source of the world-famous Savute Channel, with access to a variety of habitats including wide-open savannah, thirst-quenching waterways through dry woodland, and the river systems and floodplains that draw thousands of plains game, predators and over 300 species of bird.


From the Selinda airstrip, a series of light aircraft transfers brought Grant & Miriam to the “sumptuous coziness” of the Singita Ebony Lodge in the renowned Sabi Sands adjacent to South Africa’s Kruger National Park. The Sabi Sands Reserve is recognized as one of the premier wildlife destinations in the world with a wide diversity of game and frequent leopard sightings.

We saw different species inter-mingling and going about the business of eating and sleeping, followed the flight of both the tiny and gigantic birds that prowled the sky, and watched the days begin with the sun warming the air and then the sun announcing another day’s end and inviting the cool air to return. That was not HD NatGeo Wild, it was Life in 3-D. Go see.

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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.

We had fantastic adventures at Victoria Falls with a visit to Livingstone Island, including a dip in a pool just feet from the edge of the falls. And we photographed star trails in the Kalahari, where the night sky is incredible. Because our flight home departed very late in the evening, Kili also arranged a daylong history tour of Johannesburg, which was illuminating.

We’ve spent months on our 5000 photographs and include here the large sepia prints that now grace our dining room. If anyone is interested in seeing more, here is the link to our Blurb book, “Twice in a Lifetime”:  http://www.blurb.com/books/4614539-twice-in-a-lifetime

Thanks so much to Next Adventure for these stirring experiences!

And thanks to Andy & Melinda for sharing!!!

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…

the peaceful riverside scene there with antelope, warthog, elephant, giraffe, monkeys, etc. coming and going to drink, until they all vanished in an instant when three lions walked out of the covering grass, having a herd of 20 hippos serenade us all night by moonlight while we slept in out tent above the riverbank at Il Moran in Kenya.

Thanks to Will and Cindy for sharing. It brings back a lot of memories for us too. Get in touch to start planning your next safari.

Pel's Fishing Owl - Photo By Don & Maddy

Don & Maddy’s Birding Safari in Botswana & South Africa

Aerial View of The Outpost Lodge (Photo courtesy of the lodge)

Aerial View of The Outpost Lodge (Photo courtesy of the lodge)

This custom safari took Don & Maddy to some of the top birding destinations in Southern Africa in the company of one of the most fanatical and well-known specialist birding guides in the business, Martin Benadie.

After a few days in Cape Town, they traveled to the northeastern corner of South Africa to the Soutpansberg Foothills in the Makhado area. From there, they visited The Outpost Lodge overlooking the Luvuvhu River in the 24,000 ha Makuleke Concession, the wildest and most remote part of the Kruger National Park formerly known as the Pafuri Triangle.

Xigera Camp in the heart of the Okavango delta

Xigera Camp in the heart of the Okavango Delta (Photo courtey of Wilderness Safaris)

They then traveled southeast to the Magoebaskloof Mountains for a two-night stay at Kurisa Moya Nature Lodge.

From there they moved on to visit two of our favorite destinations in Botswana, Savuti Camp in the Linyanti Concession and Xigera Camp in the Moremi Game Reserve.

In all, they identified more than 250 species of bird. Here are just a few of their terrific photos:

Click here to learn more about what Martin Benadie has been up to, and get in touch to start planning your next safari.

Mekoro at Sunset - Botswana Migration Routes Safari

Five Friends’ Flying Safari

Earlier this year, we put together a private group camping safari for five friends. The trip started with everyone meeting up in Johannesburg and then moving on to Livingstone for a visit to Victoria Falls. From there, they embarked on a 9-day “Migration Routes Safari” with private air charters to three different mobile camps throughout the Okavango Delta, a great introduction to Botswana’s diverse ecology.

You can view the full itinerary here and see some of their feedback below. This itinerary could be easily extended with a walking safari in Zambia’s South Luangwa, a visit to Cape Town or the Cape Winelands region or more safari in South Africa’s Kruger National Park.


What are the three most memorable moments from your safari?

  • J: Diversity of beautiful wildlife, sunrise and sunsets..fresh air and night sounds. Fun we had with our group, guide Francis and all the camp staff. The African environment and efforts by Botswana to preserve and protect it.

  • A: Being out in the bush the first day! Having an elephant come into our camp and watching it from my tent shower area- some 10 feet away! Watching the moon rise over a watering hole while the animals drank

What was your favorite or most exciting wildlife encounter?

  • J: Vultures stripping a kudu carcass. Lioness with her cubs.

  • A: Watching a mother lioness search for and then be reunited with her two cubs.. It was also the most poignant because they were being tracked by some male lions that were intruding into her territory and it was unlikely they would all survive.

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