Local Independent Destination Management Company: Botswana • Zimbabwe

Safari Destinations

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Friday 8 September 2023

NEW LODGES & CAMPS – YOUR EYES AND EARS…

Our team has been up and down on numerous educationals exploring and welcoming ‘new kids on the block’ and checking out all-time favourites. It’s been a very exciting adventure for us to tour around & see a great range of accommodations from luxury lodges and tented camps to comfortable and great value for money accommodation. Many lodges and camps are situated in private concessions, ensuring exclusive and intimate safari experiences. Our team of experts brought back great feedback which we love sharing with you.

African Bush Camps – Khwai Lediba

Our TT and Ona recently visited Khwai Lediba located on the far western side of the Khwai Community area next to the Moremi Game Reserve. The two came back with some really good feedback. In their words they reported that this camp offers guests a front-row seat to the wildlife action of the oldest protected section of the Okavango Delta. They explored the area on game drive, enjoyed a mokoro excursion and even tracked lions on a walking safari. They actually saw 4 of the big 5 during their first afternoon drive. The game viewing during their stay was phenomenal, the Khwai Community area was basically showing off says TT.

Ker & Downey Botswana – Shinde Footsteps

Carina came back from Ker and Downey’s newly rebuilt Shinde Footsteps Camp (formerly knows as Footsteps Camp), a gem in the private Shinde concession and she says that the camp is just simply gorgeous! Shinde Footsteps is a small and intimate explorers’ style camp offering game drives, guided bush walks, mokoros, motor boating, and night drives. Carina loved every second of her stay there and enjoyed exceptional sightings of a pack of 27 wild dogs with puppies, hyenas bathing in the sun, a herd of sable antelope and a cheetah trying to hunt lechwe.

Kwando Safaris – 4 Rivers

4 Rivers is the new Kwando Safaris camp located in the famous Kwara Private Reserve. In true SD style as your experts on the ground we made sure that we checked it out right after its opening. Our colleagues Sarah and Jane were excited to be the first ones that visited this gorgeous new camp, located in a wild and isolated wilderness area with a stunning biodiversity of flora, fauna and felines. Carina was also lucky enough to spend a short night in August in this new camp and was very impressed by the hardware (the tents are built in a similar style to the Dinare camps, but larger and of course brand-new), the food, the service and the guiding. The camp is located a short 15-minute drive from its own soon to be opened private airstrip. A wide variety of activities including game drives (the two ladies had exceptional sightings of leopard, lions, wild dogs, plains game, and lots of birds were spotted), night drives, walking and seasonal mokoros are on offer.

Great Plains Conservation – Sitatunga Private Island Camp

Andrea and Karen were the lucky fish to go checkout Sitatunga Private Island Camp. Set on the edge of a stunning lagoon in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. The Camp in Andrea’s words…is a magical place, with its contemporary feel and all the light, Okavango River inspired colours make the place very unique and beautiful. The ladies embarked on a boat cruise and did a walk and they could not be more impressed with the guiding. They raved about the food and complimented the chef who was the absolute best and most outstanding feature at camp!

The Newly Refurbished Leroo La Tau Camp

A couple of our team members (TT, Carina, Karen & Beate) have been to Leroo La Tau since the refurbishment. Some for sight inspections and some on overnights. They were all very lucky to have different but amazing experiences. TT got the opportunity to embark on the cultural village visit that offers guests the opportunity to learn about our country’s rich culture and gain insights into the daily lives of Batswana. The Khumaga Village visit is a great way to meet the locals and learn about our heritage. This is the perfect addition to Leroo La Tau’s activity offering. Carina and team witnessed the jaw dropping largest Zebra Migration in all of Southern Africa!

Machaba Safaris – Kiri Camp

An opportunity presented itself for Scarlet, Anouk and Carina to visit Kiri Camp. The warm smiles and friendly faces of the team awaiting to serve them a luxurious experience could not be missed. The ladies reported that the food was great with a surprise bush dinner, exceptional wildlife sightings with 12 lions feasting on a fresh zebra kill, a busy waterhole which three hippos share with a lonely crocodile. The waterhole also got visited throughout the day by herds of elephants, zebra, impalas, wildebeest… and just to put a cherry on top beautiful sunsets enjoyed with our favourite Okavango Gin in hand. By the way this delicious Botswana-made gin is now available at Maun, Kasane and Victoria Falls airports’ duty free shops.

Setari Camp – Treehouse

Treehouse is the latest addition to the Setari Camps portfolio and offers guests rustic luxury. Built high in the trees and overlooking the vast floodplains of the Okavango Delta. We are sure that soon our colleagues will visit the camp and we will be more than happy to share first hand experiences on our social media channels.

MORE ‘NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK’ – ZIMBABWE

Malachite Suites & Zambezi Sands River Camp

Well of course in our many educational escapades we did not forget another one of our favourite safari destinations – Zimbabwe

Our Karen visited the newly opened Zambezi Sands River Camp deep in the Zambezi National Park and Victoria Falls River Lodge’s new Malachite Suites.

The new Zambezi Sands impressed Karen, she loved the attention to the detail in the design and says it can easily be combined with the luxurious premier camps in Botswana.

Stanley & Livingstone Boutique Hotel

Carina also visited Stanley and Livingstone which was stunning, it was a site inspection but the attentive service, and excellent food made her short visit worth her experience. She also had the opportunity to have a look at the suites which are nicely positioned in lush gardens overlooking the busy waterhole.

And there is plenty of availability in Botswana and Zimbabwe for the last months of 2023! Our team of consultants looks forward to hearing from you.

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Posted by

Caroline Mokaba

Wednesday 28 June 2023

Safari Destinations: A great place for learning and growth

Our reservations administrators, consultants and team leaders come from all walks of life with varying degrees of readiness for a career in reservations but ultimately share one common goal: a passion for creating the holiday of a lifetime in Botswana. Our business is built on our relationships with our agents and our suppliers. This is no different in the relationship between team leader and her teams (yes, all our Reservations Managers are women) and the consultant and his/her administrator/s where the nurturing of potential into expertise is taken very seriously.

And so it should be, as the administrator of today, fresh out of university, is our consultant of tomorrow. This is not only about growing tourism in Botswana, but about our success and sustainability as a business. Developing destination, supplier and consulting expertise is done through a tried and tested model of formal training, one on one on the job training and rigorous feedback processes. 

Formal training includes induction for the newbies (as we call them) on our processes and technology as well as ongoing destination and supplier training for the more experienced staff. This may include visiting local establishments on what we call educationals, designed to introduce our staff to the various properties they are selling, how these properties compare with each other, what properties suit which kind of clients as well as how to combine properties into an exciting itinerary. Our suppliers regularly pop in to keep staff up to date on developments. Most recently this included Bushways erecting tents in the office garden to give our newer staff a feel of the tents and amenities. Our consultants (as well as consultants in training) also participate in itinerary training where they are required to put an itinerary together to a specific scenario. Individual itineraries are critiqued by the group, exposing staff to different ways to think about an itinerary, seeing different combinations of properties, encouraging them to not only sell their tried and tested. All of this aims to achieve our vision of creating inspiring travel experiences for our agents and their clients. Our newest development has been the updating of our meet and greet training for our newbies. This training is designed to help staff develop the knowledge and skills to offer the critical ground handling services we extend to our travellers.  

Beyond formal training, one on one job training together with ongoing feedback through regular desk checks and bi annual performance reviews ensure our staff get the necessary affirmation on where they are doing well and advice on where they can improve. This helps our staff prepare for promotion up the reservations ladder. All of our team leaders, who are home grown having been consultants at SD, have also received management training.  Just over half of our consultants are Batswana who have been trained, developed and promoted via these learning and development strategies. Our newest crop of consultants, promoted in October 2022, are Lisa, DK and Kea S (the S is very important as we have three Kealebogas on the team). These Associate Consultants as we call them, are currently working closely with their team leaders in developing their consulting and destination expertise. In the last month, they have all started working with an administrator and are now engaging in supervisory training to support the new skill set required. This will prepare them for promotion to the next level of consultant namely, Intermediate Consultant. From there is upwards to Senior Consultant.

Structures and criteria for advancement are clearly articulated and transparent to staff allowing them to see the potential for growth and their career they have at Safari Destinations. Our HR Manager, Sarah likes to say “We don’t hire people for jobs at SD. We hire for careers’’.

Our support staff’s training and development is equally important as that of our res staff and skills training specific to their disciplines as well as supervisory and management training is also vital for this collective. Similar performance processes are followed. 

Development is one of the core values of Safari Destinations and is a value that we believe needs to be in evidence, every day. Our vision is “Proudly local, dynamic and passionate, together we create inspiring travel experiences, enriching lives for all.’’ We believe our learning and development strategies at SD are a key contributor to achieving this vision.

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Posted by

Caroline Mokaba

Friday 3 February 2023

A Miracle of Nature – the Okavango Delta and its changing water levels

The Okavango Delta is a very unique part of the world. Looking at a satellite image you can easily see a few blue lines meandering from the Angolan highlands all the way to Botswana, forming a magnificent river that spreads into an alluvial fan and then simply disappears. It creates an amazing oasis in the middle of the world’s biggest stretch of sand, the Kalahari, reaching from Congo to South Africa. Magic. But the true magic is in the timing of the flood!

Rainy season in the catchment area and around the Okavango usually begins in November, with the majority of rain falling in January and February. The local rainfall only contributes to between 2 and 25% of the delta waters, the majority of water is coming down from the Angolan highlands.

If we traveled with a little drop of water from the source of one of the main contributories, the Cubango and Cuito River in Angola, the start of our journey would be quite exciting, through the Angolan highlands and then down to Botswana, but even before we’d cross over the border we’d already travel at a rather leisurely pace simply due to the lack of gradient. It takes this little drop of water average 8-9 weeks to reach Botswana and the panhandle of the Okavango Delta. From here onwards the journey slows down even more: the northern part of the Okavango is 250km away from the Thamalakane fault line – the delta’s southern border – but there is only a difference of 50 meters in altitude!

The main waters reach Botswana in April and start to spread throughout the alluvial fan slowly filling up the channels, backflows and floodplains, with the delta being at its fullest in July/August. From August onwards the water levels start going down again due to evapotranspiration now exceeding the input by rain waters. The driest period in the delta is in October and November, when food is scarce and animals are found around the remaining water sources and rivers. Many channels have dried up, avid birders can’t get enough of all the bird life gathering around fish traps as the water keeps receding and cars can be used where just a few months ago boats were necessary to get around. Just then the first rains fall again, the shades of brown start turning into shades of green once more, impala and other antilope drop their young and the cycle starts over – the Okavango becoming a place of plenty. The water levels in the heart of the delta though will only rise significantly once the rains have long gone.

So what does this mean for us selling the destination?

This region is highly dynamic. Each year presents a varying amount of flood water in winter and a varying amount of rain falls in summer. Being nature, this provides a certain amount of unpredictability and nobody knows what will happen from one year to the next.

A well rounded Botswana Safari consists of game drives in drier areas and also water activities, be it by boat or mokoro. Mekoro are ideal to travel over floodplains in shallow water, gliding through reeds, discovering the little hidden gems of the area. Once the floodplains have fallen dry it becomes difficult to offer mokoro excursions due to safety concerns in deeper waters of permanent channels and rivers. Even if those deeper waters are actually not that deep anymore, they are considered prime real estate amongst hippos in not that great a mood as their territories are shrinking with the receding water and they are now very much up close and personal with their competitor and neighbour.

It is far easier on the nerves to observe those dynamics from a motor boat, but be aware that cruises can be a lot shorter due to a lack of either depth or river altogether! Eagle Island Camp for example, a camp that often has been sold as typical water-based delta experience, may not be able to offer mokoro during very low flood levels. The camps shift their focus. The floodplains may not be ideal for mokoro anymore, but they provide wonderful grazing for herds of buffalo as around Duba Plains; around Jao Camp the floodplains fill up with big herds of lechwe, enjoying the greenery. Other camps might not be that heavily affected and still happily take their guests on mokoro excursions and motor boat activities.

Here in Maun the flood levels of the Okavango Delta are an everyday topic and we never get tired of it. When did “the wave” come past Nxamaseri, has the water already moved towards Vumbura, when will it reach Sandibe… There is no end to it!

The Delta is a truly wild place, it is alive and offers mind-blowing experiences on land and water year round. For next year: Let’s just keep the waterlevels in mind and choose the camps that offer water-based activities wisely.

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Posted by

Andrea Reumerman

Wednesday 18 January 2023

50 Shades of Turquoise in Mozambique

Mozambique exemplifies the Indian Ocean’s top destination. Colorful boutique hotels and lodges along white sandy beaches stretch into glistening bright turquoise waters. The ocean tides create their own magic. Every time you look out over the ocean, there will be a different canvas with one of the 50 shades of turquoise.

The variety of hotels and lodges range from budget filled with charm to the super luxurious, mainland as well as on private islands. There is something for every client and budget.

Upon arrival at the very relaxed and welcoming Vilanculos Airport, all clients are personally welcomed no matter to which lodge or hotel they are headed. If guests are heading into the islands, they are received in air-conditioned lounges with fresh drinks and a cozy couch to await their helicopter transfers. The luxury treatment does not end there! This is just the beginning…

My amazing 10-day trip to Mozambique was nothing like I have experienced in all my years of travelling. I don’t think I have been greeted and waved to more in my life while on vacation. The warm friendliness of the people was just as warm as the waters of their magnificent ocean. 

EXPLORING THE LODGES ON THE MAIN LAND

While there are so many lodges that I visited on the mainland, all of which were lovely and definitely worth a stay, I have picked these two gems that I can recommend highly:

Vilanculos Beach Lodge is cozy, with a relaxed ambiance, very friendly vibes and happy staff all around. The reception is right next to the open beach restaurant. There is a large pool that seems to join seamlessly with the ocean where lively beach offerings any kind of water-based sports and entertainment take place.

AsDunas just 30 min up the coast from the Vilanculos Airport, is the last estate built on a red dune. With eight canvas chalets, tucked into the deep autochthonous bush, it is slightly elevated above the sea which leads to a consistent cooling breeze. Italian architect meets Italian chef, and both are loving their new home of Mozambique. For clients, this is a rather fortunate combination, as you will be delighted with impeccable style and handcrafted furniture in public spaces, spacious hidden canvas tents with their wooden decks and private pools, outstanding culinary creations, daily massages in an open therapy hut, as well as excellent service. Sandy paths lead through the labyrinth of thick bush to stairs down to the beach where private beach lounges are dug into the sandy cliff, providing the best views over the soft blue waters of the Archipelago. A productive co-operative relationship with the locals has led to an outstanding array of cultural or water sport excursions. 

Another amazing new lodge is Sussurro – unique location, amazing staff, attention to detail.

At the tip end of the peninsula Nhamabue I find the little paradise around the lagoon, the six spread out chalets are hidden in the deep bush, and impress with their utter purity and luxury of quiet spaces, from the open bath to the shady terrace. Earthen colours and natural materials ooze relaxation, glad to order my baobab, ginger and pineapple smoothy per WhatsApp as I don’t intend to leave this soothing, healthy ambiance for a while and rather tend to a session of yoga in the private outside patio. What impressed me most: their lovely staff creates different private spaces for each meal, on the tip of the pier, under palm trees or on the beach with a huge bondfire, what a Feng Shui moment, sniffing the PeriPeri Chicken and fresh calamari from the BBQ. The open kitchen beams with friendly faces always happy to reveal their healthy culinary secrets to their guests, soft Maputo jazz beats hum through the warm atmosphere to complete the dream of a beach holiday in Africa. 

Sussurro also shines with its unique position: the quiet lagoon in front of the lodge is ideal for long swims and all kinds of water activities, a 20 min stroll around the tip of the peninsula takes me to the endless, lonely coastline along the open ocean, breathtaking spot, not easily found anymore on this planet.

Another good news is that they are building a heli pad and transfers (at the moment a 1,5 hours road transfer – an adventure in itself) in the future can be taken by helis or best, a mixture of one way road, one way heli!

DIVING INTO THE LODGES ON THE ISLANDS OF ARCHIPELAGO

My adventure starts again in the gardens of the Vilanculos Beach Lodge as the boat to the next lodge departs from their jetty (high water) or 10 min walk into their bay (low water). We cruise for one hour through the ocean, passing Magaruque and Benguerra island, landing at Anantara Bazaruto. This is a laid back beach resort, on a very long beach, with chalets in their tropical gardens having direct beach access as well as private salas (loungers & leafy sun shade). The family villas and the SPA are set up on the hills with spectacular views towards the coast. There is a good vibe between the large (adult) pool and the kids’ water park, different pool bars and different restaurants. The quirky old main bar complete with a piano with views over the tropical resort and the soft waters, inspired Bob Dylan to write his famous song ‘Mozambique’.

Azura Benguerra is just 10 minutes away via a very impressive Heli ride to Azura Lodge where at the heli pad you will be greeted by the host and butler and introduced to the resort on a stroll through the tropical gardens. All villas offer the same outlets, just floor and pool size vary according to category. Their choice of villas provides for a very private family holiday. Space in the villa is generous with outside showers and baths as well as inside/outside private lounges, small gardens leading to private salas on the beach. The dynamic team encourages active clients to participate in the many additional activities on and around the island. The beach club entertains with al fresco lunches on the beautiful beach while for those needing total privacy, this can be provided in your villa thanks to the excellent butler service. A highlight is the private beach dinner on the last night for all clients, not only honeymooners. I enjoyed the island tour (needs to be booked) exploring the lakes, dunes and lonely beaches on the east coast meeting very happy locals living a quiet life in the small settlements at the heart of the island.

Bazaruto Archipelago National park is managed by African Parks. Apart from the protection of wildlife and marine lands, this has led to efficient and successful tourism training programmes for the local islanders. My butler at Kisawa received a scholarship to attend hotel school and is now happy to excel in a demanding hospitality job so close to his home. On a drive over the island, I learnt about the community engagement initiatives of the various lodges. Without exception, they support schools, clinics and churches for the islanders’ comfort contributing to the sustainable development of tourism and the community supporting it.

Kisawa Sanctuary, what can I say? Somebody had to volunteer to find out if Mozambique’s top luxury lodge ‘is worth it’s price’, and – YES it is!

The pure size and elegance of the chalets, their prominent positions in the deep sands or topping a dune, the sheer beauty of Kisawa’s location far out, at the southern tip of Benguerra takes a dream holiday on a beach to another level in many aspects.

Nick-named the Rockstar Lodge each chalet offers an antique record player, a brilliant sound box and a fine collection of vinyls. Each ‘Cove’ dresses in different smooth colours throughout the impressive length of the chalet, the bathtub is carved of massive rock, the lighting works simply on three ‘moods’ so no more cumbersome switch riddles, but no luxury or art can beat the effect on body and soul of the 180 degrees views over white dunes lapped by endless turquoise waters. Every time I flash myself with this view the painting has changed again. At night the dunes leading down to my poolhouse with kitchen, bar and private pool reflect under the moon as if they had been covered by pure white snow. My lovely, well educated and interesting butler seems to pick up on vibrations, as he is always there when needed and never when the biggest luxury in the world is to be alone surrounded by magic.

The estate measures 300 hectares, along the east and the south coast of the island, the easiest way to get from my Cove to the public areas is by Mini Moke; the most beautiful to walk at first light along the sheltered south-facing bay with a swim at 5 am in the luke warm water, climb the dunes and face the open Indian Ocean from the terrace of the main restaurant.

Time for a welcome treatment in the Natural Wellness Center; cozy reed huts sunk into white sand embrace the stressed traveller, Asian techniques prevail, the head therapist from Bhutan frees me of the last pains from reality out there. 

General observations and USPs:

The open friendliness of the people – I think I have not been greeted and waved to more in my life in any destination – feels just as warm as the waters of their magnificent ocean. 

Modern communication – lodge management and butlers communicate per WhatsApp with their clients to keep maximum discretion of privacy and service.

Marvellous food – ripe fruit and vegetables combined with freshest seafood and accompanied by a variety of homegrown nuts creates a unique quality and diversity for the lodges to pamper their clients, I might have not eaten better anywhere in the world. 

Attractive activities on site – at the majority of lodges these are excluded: snorkling excursions by boat to Magaruque Island’s reef, Day Trips with lunch to Santa Carolina Island, Dhow Cruises.. additionally many lodges offer individual and unique lodges.

The Tides are magic, every time you look out over the ocean it has created a different painting in the 50 Shades of Turquoise, just one addictive factor to this wonderful country and its 2470 km of shoreline.

I have definitely fallen in LOVE and will be back.

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Posted by

Christine Ess

Monday 12 December 2022

A Foodie’s Guide to the Culinary Delights of Victoria Falls 

Anyone making their way to Zimbabwe’s beautiful Victoria Falls will not only find one of the seven natural world wonders but also unique spots for food and drink. We have handpicked some of our favourite ‘must visit’ options while in Victoria Falls town.

You cannot go wrong at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge’s Buffalo Bar for a View, Sundowners & Snacks

Safari Lodge’s Buffalo Bar is perched atop a ridge looking out onto a watering hole where game like to meander through for a drink in the evening. This place offers the perfect start to an evening with a sundowner drink in hand, delicious snacks to pick on and a lovely open deck to sit and enjoy the beautiful landscape before venturing onto dinner. 

An unparalleled view of Batoka Gorge at the Lookout-Cafe

For all lovers of amazing views with excellent food the Lookout-Cafe is an absolute must for either lunch or dinner. It is the restaurant with the most dramatic views built right on top of the Batoka Gorge downstream from Victoria Falls. Guests get fantastic views of the Victoria Falls Bridge with the smoke of the falls in the background as well as vertigo inducing views of the gorge itself – something to behold especially during their famous Full-moon dinners! The Lookout offers a fusion menu with everything from burgers and salads to a delectable crocodile kebab or seared ostrich and glass noodle salad; with the most fantastic cocktail and wine menu to accompany. During lunch you can also visit the activity center and experience a quick zipline or gorge swing between courses!

Fancy gourmet dining at Ilala Lodge’s Cassia Restaurant & Victoria Falls Hotel’s Livingstone Room

Both award winning restaurants are unique in their own rights with The Livingstone room’s Edwardian style providing an opulent dining feel with a smart dress code to match the elegant atmosphere, whilst Ilala’s Cassia restaurant has a more al fresco feel with tables dotted beneath two magnificent Cassia Fistula trees – dinner under the stars is hard to beat! Now onto their food, Livingstone room offers a choice of à la carte or a seven-course degustation menu all beautifully plated and served by smiling smartly dressed waiters, it all takes you back in time. Cassia restaurant on the other hand is a little less formal and focuses on a gourmet à la carte menu with a fantastic array of beautifully prepared dishes. This is where you will get that perfectly cooked venison steak or if meat is not your thing a great array of vegan and vegetarian dishes. 

Delicious Pizza & old fashioned pub grub

If fine dining is not your thing and burgers, pizzas and good old fashioned pub food are more up your alley then The River Brewing Company and Three Monkeys are definitely the places for you. Both of these establishments never fail to impress with their massive portions of truly delicious food. Three Monkeys have refined the art of great thin crust pizzas that can rival everybody’s favourite local pizza hangouts at home. Their cocktails, milkshakes and dessert menus would leave you weak at the knees and their outside canvas covered seating area makes it a great place for either lunch or dinner or just a quick drink on the way down to the falls. Meanwhile the River Brewing Company offers something completely unique in the form of their own array of craft beers brewed on the property by their charismatic brewer Lionel. Live music can often be found on an evening here over the weekend; enjoyed in their outside area whilst munching on anything from tacos to lovingly slow cooked beef short ribs. If beer is not your thing they have a wonderful array of wines and cocktails too. Thankfully these two hangouts are only 100m from each other so you can do both if you can’t decide!

Bite your fingers while eating local cuisine at The Dusty Road Township Experience

Local Zimbabwean cuisine is something everybody must try whilst on safari here and it would be amiss of us not to mention The Dusty Road Township experience. Relatively new to the Victoria Falls dining scene this is a complete gem of a restaurant we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend even just to have a wander through the property so quirkily decorated by its owner Sarah. Dusty Road can only be described as a feast for your eyes and also your palate! Upcycled furniture and random items have been cleverly incorporated into the whole look of the place with old bicycle tyre rims for windows and colourful enamel cups for chandeliers – it is certainly a riot of colour. All of this is accompanied by the most accommodating group of women hosting you throughout the night and of course a well thought out menu that even the wariest of eaters will enjoy with locally foraged ingredients incorporated cleverly into delicious dishes. They even have their own recipe book to take home. But what we especially like about the experience are the group of young school children being supported by the restaurant who pop in for a little song and dance in the evening and of course their focus on community and female empowerment. 

It would be impossible to mention every restaurant on offer in Victoria Falls, these are merely a few of our favourites. But rest assured that there is a whole host of other fantastic establishments offering delicious food in beautiful settings and more continue to be opened. So get out there and explore!

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Posted by

Alice Marffy

Tuesday 1 November 2022

What makes Ghoha Hills in Savuti so special? 

I was very fortunate to spend a night at Ghoha in July 2022 and the experience left an indelible impression on me. 

The lodge lies on the ledges of the Ghoha Hills and the view from the main area out over the vast expanse is incredible. I could have spent hours taking it all in and still not got enough. Fast forward to the evening and the view is swapped for magical night skies with star gazing as one of their activities. 

The team were incredibly hospitable, the tents very comfortable and the food delicious; but this is not what sets Ghoha apart from other lodges.

Driving from the airstrip to camp is about 45 minutes, and the last 10 minutes of the drive takes you up a rocky incline until you reach camp. Emerging from the vehicle, walking into the main area and taking in the 180-degree unparalleled view was my first wow experience. 

I was curious to understand how the longer drive down to the marsh area would impact on my game viewing experience. Allow for a good 45 minute to 1 hour drive but don’t be disillusioned, it was worth it! Once we arrived and started exploring the area, the realisation that Savuti is so popular with multiple vehicles at sightings hit me hard. I don’t know why but I was not prepared for this, and this is not my first visit to Savuti. 

My guide was different and I would best describe him as ‘old school’, nothing short of an exceptional man with a vast knowledge. He took care to avoid the mainstream of vehicles, choosing different routes and focusing on not only the comfort of the guests, but the animals too. The main advantage came in when the majority of the vehicles left the area around 10h00. We were virtually alone, other than the odd self-drive vehicle passing by. Of course, we all have the impression that game viewing is best first thing in the morning and then later on in the afternoon once it starts cooling down. Perhaps it was just my day, but my best experience happened between 10h00 and 13h00!

I was fortunate to ‘tick off’ some exceptional experiences – a Wild Dog den with the cubs emerging after the pack returned from a hunt, Lions lazing in the mid-morning sun, Elephants sand bathing, and to top it off, a Leopard with an impala kill up a tree. And the best part was that we were alone, our own private sightings that I could indulge in for as long as I wanted to. 

After I had my fill of sightings, we settled under the shade of a tree for a bush picnic lunch. I already mentioned that the food was delicious, but the experience of having lunch out in the open was not just different, it was special. One last stop before we headed to the airstrip as I wanted to see the rock paintings and my guide was very obliging. We soon reached the area but since there were lions in the area, we could not leave the vehicle to walk up to the paintings. Still, I managed to witness the marvel of this art although it be from a distance. 

Yes, it does make for a long day, and summer midday heat means an earlier retreat back to camp, but you can’t discount the experience, for me it was worth every minute of the extra drive.

Ghoha has its own private waterhole below camp at the foot of the hills, a popular setting for afternoon tea. The lodge is secluded and set away from other lodges, with its own private road network. The area surrounding the lodge is not as open as the marsh area and the waterhole is very productive in the winter months especially when there is less water around. 

Please contact your dedicated consultant for additional information or contact info@safaridestinations.net.

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Posted by

Claire Robinson

Wednesday 29 June 2022

Planning a Family-Friendly Safari in Botswana

Sharing a safari with children will give you completely new eyes for seeing the bush.  A child’s excitement at spotting an impala for the first time is infectious enough to rub off on even the most seasoned of safari goers. When you start seeing the bush from a child’s point of view, the priority of ticking off the big five quickly fades – replaced by the excitement of watching dung beetles at work and imagining the inner-workings of termite mounds.

A family safari is a whole new discovery of the natural world. Not just for kids, but also for adults who usually focus only on photographing the animals that live in it. Best of all, you’ll have time to bond as a family while checking out fresh animal tracks and roasting marshmallows on the campfire.

So, what do you need to know when travelling with children?

Don’t chain me down

Ask a small child if their idea of a holiday is being asked to sit still for four hours, twice a day (or more!) and you’ll probably get a firm no. Even the most disciplined of children will have a tough time containing their excitement when bumping into a pride of lions. They’ll want to wiggle around a little, point at things and start a conversation about what they’re seeing. So let them. Booking a private vehicle is the best way to relax at sightings without worrying about sideways glances from that empty-nester with the massive zoom lens. Private activities give parents space to relax without having to ‘shhh’ kids over stuff that’s really quite exciting (who wouldn’t want to tug someone’s sleeve and gasp ‘look!’ when faced with their first elephant?). Private activities also allow you the flexibility to start and end activities at friendlier times for kids who sleep longer & tire out easier. 

Variety is the spice of life

Mix up the schedule and keep the kids engaged on safari. Head off on a local village visit in Chobe or explore the salt pans with a quadbike and get introduced to the meerkats of the Makgadikgadi. Take the kids walking with the bushmen so they can practice speaking in clicks or give them a bush archery lesson. Many camps in Botswana offer child-friendly activities with some providing specialised programmes just for children. A private mobile safari is another sure fire way to give kids the space they need, as well as guaranteeing your guide’s undivided attention.

Where the Wild Things Are

Many camps have age restrictions for children to guarantee their safety in the bush, as well as the comfort of other guests in camp. Private vehicles are often a requirement for children under 12, however Chobe is one area where these rules are usually more relaxed. Children are required to share their room with at least one adult to guarantee their safety. Many camps now offer family accommodation to prevent parents splitting sleeping arrangements. Children are generally not allowed on bush walks below 16 years of age or mokoro activities below the age of 12, however certain camps will make exceptions or tweak these activities to make them safer for kids.

The boring stuff – what paperwork do you need to bring?

A trip to Africa is an exceptional adventure and will give your children life-long memories.
To make sure everything goes smoothly however, please ENSURE that you adhere to the regulations in place regarding travel for ALL children under the age of 18.

Botswana continues to have strict rules when it comes to travel with children under 18. Parents have to carry unabridged birth certificates for the children, if single parents travel without the other parent then additional rules apply. Please contact us to find out more, we have handy lists that help preparing for this once-in-a-lifetime safari.

Recommended itineraries for families

At Safari Destinations, we’ve used our first-hand knowledge of Botswana’s camps to create family-friendly safaris which help families get the most from their time in the bush. We are experts when it comes to family room layout, child restrictions, minimum ages etc. Contact us at info@safaridestinations.net to ask about the best options for family travel.

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Carina

Friday 3 June 2022

Matusadona National Park and Bumi Hills

THE HIDDEN GEMS ON LAKE KARIBA IN NORTHERN ZIMBABWE

I was very fortunate and felt extremely privileged to visit Lake Kariba twice this year and all in a matter of two months. And both visits impressed me hugely and deepened my love for this amazing country in a way I didn’t think would be possible.

Taking a closer look at Matusadona National Park

This remote park gets its name from the Matusadona hills that form part of its water rich landscape. Flanked by Lake Kariba in the north, and two perennial rivers, the Ume and the Sanyati, Matusadona has it all. The lush landscape is formed by flat grasslands, dry river beds, rolling hills. It boasts a huge variety of mammals and keen birders can expect 240 different bird species.

Where to stay?

  • Fothergill Island (luxurious camp, ideal for families and small groups)
  • Changa Safari Camp (classic safari camp)
  • Rhino Camp (authentic experience)

Taking a closer look at Bumi Hills

Bumi Hills is named after a group of hills overlooking the southern shore of Lake Kariba. The view from the top of the hill is magical and famous for its magnificent sunsets with the Zambezi escarpment as a backdrop. The area is also often referred to as the Zimbabwean Riviera, with the colourful reflections on the water and the palmtree dotted shore. The wildlife-rich area offers incredible game viewing which has improved tremendously over the last years also due to the amazing efforts of the Bumi Hills Anti-Poaching Unit.

Where to stay?

  • Bumi Hills Safari Lodge (luxurious camp on top of the Bumi Hills)
  • Musango Safari Camp (authentic experience on the shores of the lake)

Why travel to Lake Kariba?

  • All year destination
  • Untouched wilderness
  • Easy access by air from Harare and Victoria Falls – Fothergill and Bumi airstrips
  • Bumi Hills – private concession
  • Matusadona National Park managed by African Parks
  • Land and water experience
  • Variety of experiences: game drives, motorboating, fishing, walking
  • Remote with few visitors, very exclusive experience
  • Visit the Bumi Hills Anti-Poaching Unit and learn more about their amazing work

For more information about this magnificent area please contact info@safaridestinations.net.

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Carina

Thursday 14 April 2022

Maybe, be a Bush Pilot: All it takes is a great Botswana travel experience 

A great safari is punctuated by many unique and life-altering experiences. As your experts on the ground, we are uncompromising in providing a unique tailor-made experience that allows for a complete immersion into the bush experience. A remarkable safari experience always includes being surrounded by untouched and pristine wilderness, the most exclusive and beautiful lodges, and being in proximity to abundant wildlife.
At Safari Destinations we have an exceptional travel experiences team that is on hand to meet guests at Maun airport and assist them with arrival or departure processes, gets feedback from guests on their travel experience, help with lost luggage and anything else the guests need assistance with. Meet-and-greets are incredible since they provide us and in turn our agents with a brilliant opportunity to receive honest feedback from our guests, who remain our trusted authorities in what makes an authentic and beautiful safari experience. Here is a small selection of some of our most recent feedback shared with our Travel Experiences Manager Angela Masisi-Makula.

Here we share a small selection of clients’ feedbacks:

A change in perspective:

“After being flown all over the Delta, she thinks it is time to change careers and be a Bush Pilot.” Our Travel Experiences Manager Angela Masisi–Makula recounts one of our guests’ feedback at a meet-and-greet arriving with Moremi Air from Splash Camp to Maun. Splash Camp, nestled in the heart of the Okavango, served as their best lodge experience and they enjoyed abundant game viewing, including lions, a leopard, and cheetah on one of their game drives. 

Already planning a return trip to Botswana: 

Our clients, a family of six, were happy to be met and to share their lion tracking experience. They mentioned that after two days of tracking and looking for lions, this morning, they were impressed to see a pride of five, they spent 45 minutes at this sighting taking incredible photos. The accommodation surpassed their expectations and Machaba Camp was their highlight. They raved about the food, which was in their own words of Michelin standards. They are already planning a return trip to Botswana

Share this experience with my new love:

“Can you believe I have been dating my woman (pointing at his partner) for only two months and I decided to bring her to Botswana?” Our guest described his incredible safari experience to Angela. He revealed that he was in Maun and the Okavango Delta three years ago and had the time of his life and, therefore, wanted to share this experience with his new partner. He truly believes that Botswana is a “Little Heaven on Earth”. 

Difficult to pick a single highlight from the amazing experience: 

When inquiring about their safari experience, our guests concurred that they have had an amazing time and loved every bit of their safari. It was hard for them to pick a highlight, as all the places they visited were unique and offered something special. Kwando Tau Pan, however, seemed to have been a favorite, as on one of their game drives they saw six lion cubs with two lionesses, and this was such a breathtaking sight. The couple loved and appreciated Pom Pom for its remoteness. The service all round was excellent, there was nothing they could fault about this holiday. 

A scene from National Geographic:

It was at Gomoti Plains where they had their most significant sighting, a female cheetah and five of her cubs. The cheetah was teaching its cubs to hunt, and they witnessed a kill (the cheetah on an impala) and it seemed like a scene from National Geographic. Once the impala had succumbed to its fate, they dragged it to the cubs, who did not waste time feasting. They took so many photos of the cubs with their bloody mouths. At Linyanti Bush Camp on their game drive heading towards camp, the guide paused the vehicle and told them he could “smell” a leopard. Amid their amazement and curiosity, five meters away from their game viewer, indeed was a leopard and they could not believe it. 

Amazing Experience for the kids at Young Explorers: 

The children said that they have had an incredible time and saw a lot at the Young Explorers Camp. Their highlight was two African Wild Dogs chasing a leopard that went up a tree. During their sightings, they also saw four cheetahs, elephants, and impalas to name a few. The only big cat they did not see was a lion and they made a comment that they will have to come back on a “lion Safari” next time. 

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Posted by

Caroline Mokaba

Monday 20 December 2021

FROM THRILLING GAME VIEWING IN THE DELTA TO TRANQUILITY IN THE PANHANDLE

Recently, a colleague and I had a truly well-rounded Okavango Delta experience. We enjoyed the thrilling game sightings of Shinde, the water ways and game drives at Splash Camp before ending up at the lushness of Setari Camp in the Panhandle. Technically, the Panhandle is the Okavango Delta, but it offers an entirely different experience.

We were captivated from the word go. Heading off to SHINDE CAMP, we were picked up from the airstrip and told that it’s a 40 minutes game drive to camp. Being 10am, we expected a relaxing drive with little game, perhaps the odd impala, zebra or elephant. To our amazement, we saw a cheetah mother and her two cubs relaxing on an ant hill. Then after speaking on his radio, our guide asked if we wanted to see something awesome which turned out to be a pride of lions with baby cubs. All this within 40 minutes of arriving in the Delta! Complimenting the game experience was Shinde Camp itself. This camp is for everyone: families, groups, honeymooners. Shinde Enclave even has its own chef and private guide. Two nights is just not enough time to enjoy the splendour of this camp. 

Our next stop was SPLASH CAMP. After the amazing sighthings before, we jokingly told our guide that Shinde had set the bar very high and Splash was unlikley to match what we had already seen. And what did the tracker pull out of the hat? A honey badger, quite a rare sighting! We were beyond excited. That was followed up during our stay with a large pride of lions numbering 17 with at least 5 males and numerous lionesses and cubs.   We even got to see a hyena taking a mud bath in the middle of the day to cool off, while checking out a nearby impala. The impala was clearly not getting the memo that it could be lunch! There is boating at this camp and water permitting, mokoro rides are also on offer. Set in a private concession, this is a real escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. 

Both Shinde and Splash camps are in game rich areas and there was constant action during our stay! 

It was then that Keneilwe and I were off to SETARI CAMP located in the Panhandle. This was a different experience all together. Huge Papyrus, big reeds line the water ways and the very tall Palm trees give this area a lush “jungle” feel. With water as far as the eye can see, boating and mokoro rides are available all year round. As you navigate the waterways, your guide will delight you with stories of life in the Panhandle and even show you how to make hats and necklaces from reeds and water lily pads. The bird life is truly spectacular. Walking through the village is a must do with beautiful original Setswana mud huts and dancing children. Take advantage of helicopter flights to see this part of the Delta by air.  But most of all, put your feet up with something to drink in your and enjoy the tranquillity of the Panhandle

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Posted by

Caroline Mokaba

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