Thursday, February 26, 2009

Customer Comments: Scotts Signature Safari February 2009

"Well what can I say... All I can say is that we had the most amazing time and we can't believe it's all over!

Jonathan and Angela, Warren and everyone at the camp were all just so great. I can't put into words how great an experience we had and we we're just stunned by the beauty of the camp and the lengths to which they went to make our stay as great as possible.

All the food that they made specially for Tracy was just brilliant and we've both said to each other that it didn't feel like a holiday, it was a once in a lifetime experience that we will never forget.

The only trouble is that we don't know where to go next to that will top it!

We thought the organization throughout the whole holiday was excellent by the way and we're looking forward to booking another trip with you in the future.

We would love to hear about any future trips you are planning with Jonathan and Angela but one of our goals is to visit Antarctica but we may have to do a little saving for that one! Thank you again."

Paul and Tracy, February 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Customer Comment: Mr West - Botswana

"It was a wonderful trip and I am so glad I did it. The Botswanans were just delightful, and so enthusiastic, friendly,talented and articulate. Thank you so much for doing such a great job of organising the trip for me; it all worked very well. The camps in the Kwando Reserve were just great; because it was wet season, of course, the grass was high and we didn't see large numbers of animals, but we saw nearly everything there was to be seen - including a pair of ardwolf (first time ever for me), and we managed to blunder into the midst of a herd of elephant who were decidedly angry at the intrusion (resulting in the first genuine charge I've ever experienced, and a bumper one at that - three angry cows!).

Thanks again for your impeccable service. It was a wonderful trip."
Mr West. February 2009.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Staff Report: Sarah Williams in Namibia - A unique place in Africa

The last time I visited Namibia was eight years ago so I was looking forward to returning to this dry and austere part of Africa. When I departed Windhoek two weeks later, I had completely fallen for this beautiful scenic country.

My journey began in the south, in Sossusvlei where the red dunes dominate the landscape. Staying at Sossusvlei Wilderness Lodge my large picture windows allowed the scenery to be an extension to my room.

An early start is required to visit the dunes, before the sun begins to really turn up the heat. By seven o’clock I was climbing ‘Big Daddy’ – in a moment of madness I had decided, when given the choice, to climb the highest dune in the area!! But the view from the top was quite spectacular and well worth the effort. We descended via Dead Vlei, an eerie graveyard for expired trees.

A couple of days spent at Wolwedans on the edge of the NamibRand Nature Reserve was an opportunity to appreciate one stunning scene after another. Every which way I looked was a view so breathtaking that it was just impossible to capture the scene in a photograph. The vast openness, occasionally punctuated by a hansom Oryx was simply one of the most incredible places I have ever seen. In this crowded world it was refreshing to be enveloped by both space and silence.

After an overnight in Windhoek and a delicious dinner in NICE, I headed north west past the Zebra Mountains and Namibia’s highest peak, Brandberg Mountain, to Palmvag Lodge where the Save the Rhino team is located. Chances of seeing Black Rhino in the Damaraland area is extremely high.

From this point we headed well off the beaten track and down the dry Uniab Riverbed where our progress was periodically halted by desert Elephants who were enjoying a bumper crop of seed pods lying under trees. Our destination was Hoanib River Camp, a remote camp in an amazingly scenic location. Around the fire that evening we stared into the wonderful canopy of stars which seemed so bright and so close, untouched by light pollution.

The following morning saw us climb gradually up a valley of golden grass and then down the other side towards the Hoarusib River, the scenery constantly changing but never dull. We never saw another vehicle or person and in these vast scenes we were just a speck on the landscape.

Further on we drove along a meandering riverbed, a permanent source of water, and saw several elephants who are attracted to this very green and fertile area. Lions are also an occasional visitor. That night we camped at Purros on the banks of the dry riverbed and enjoyed dinner al fresco before a light shower fell that night. The next morning the sky was clear so we set off along prairie style landscapes then through mountains before reaching Sesfontein where we camped on the high banks above the river. By late afternoon dark clouds were gathering and finally we were treated to the most amazing electrical thunderstorm from our dry location. When we woke the next morning the river had risen and our intended 40 km route along the river bed had to be abandoned for the longer 280 km route via the road!

We had only just set up camp at Hobatere, west of Etosha when another huge thunder storm struck. This was very unusual weather for this time of year; the previous December had seen the wildlife in the area desperate for food and water. The following morning, which was our last, we packed away wet camping gear while a beautiful rainbow appeared as a colourful conclusion to our amazing trip!

Namibia is unique; it’s unlike any other Southern African country. If you are a frequent traveller to Africa and have not yet visited Namibia, I urge you to go soon. This is such a beautiful country where the wildlife is unusual, the lodges are exceptional and the scenery is utterly breathtaking. I for one will not be waiting another eight years before I return.

Click here for our Wildlife Holidays & Safaris in Namibia

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hilary Bradt - The Investiture

Quite a few people dream that they meet The Queen – indeed a book on the subject was published a few years ago. So how does one feel when it actually happens? I found out when I was invited to Windsor Castle to receive my MBE on December 12.

The waiting period between getting the news in May and the actual investiture in December was nerve-wracking. When would it be? How many friends could I take? And, most important, what should I wear? The Palace was quite vague on the subject: morning dress or lounge suits for men (easy for them) but nothing specific for women. In the first flush of excitement in June I’d bought a lovely summery outfit from a charity shop, but as the months passed without notification, and the weather got colder, I realised that I would need to rethink. In the end I was borrowed a red velvet jacket and black trousers from friends, bought a charity shop top and hired a huge red hat.

From the moment my friends and I arrived at the special entrance to Windsor Castle we were made to feel really special. Up the broad staircase lined with motionless guards from the Household Calvary in full uniform, and into a splendid room with a huge ornate fireplace and crammed with paintings to have a drink (non-alcoholic) and mingle with the other recipients. Then an equerry, gorgeously attired in red and gold military uniform gave us a demonstration of exactly what we had to do – including the curtsy, which was quite something in spurs. You could see the same thought: “Oh God, I’ll never remember all that!” flit across everyone’s face.

In no time at all I found myself at the head of the queue and there, in the Waterloo Chamber, was a tiny woman, dressed in blue, standing on a dais. The Queen! I was rooted to the spot. “Go on” said the equerry and gave me a little push. The trouble was I couldn’t remember what legs are supposed to do to create a forward movement. I wobbled to the centre of the room, managed my curtsy, and walked forward to meet Her Majesty. She hooked the MBE over a pre-positioned pin, and looked at me in some surprise. “Um… is it children?” she asked. “No no, I publish guidebooks for adults. Oh, children! Charity! Yes yes! Madagascar!” I blurted out, forgetting all about the “Your Majesty/Ma’am” that we’d been instructed to say. HM looked a bit alarmed and offered her hand. Another curtsy and a rather hasty exit.

I think most of us would have liked another go in order to get it right but the Queen must have seen it all. Why else would the equerry have said, rather urgently, “And don’t forget to let go of The Queen’s hand!"

Hilary Bradt is a regular participant in Wildlife Worldwide's Annual Festival of Wildlife.