African Safari Update #38

Fish Eagle Safaris Update #38 – Spring 2015

In this Issue (click article titles to expand):

Trip Report Highlights Best Green Season Options

Ready to start thinking about your first – or next – Africa trip?  Be sure to take a look at Fish Eagle Safaris’ latest mammoth 15-part trip report, just published on our website at – this link.

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Here you will find some insightful comments and hints from Fish Eagle Safaris’ founder Bert Duplessis, reporting on an epic Southern Africa trip which stretched from Cape Town all the way to the Zambezi River.  It’s all there:  Cape Town, the Cape winelands, Botswana’s Okavango Delta, Moremi and the Linyanti Concession.  Plus a couple of Chobe lodges, two Victoria Falls properties and three excellent Hwange (Zimbabwe) Camps.

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Want to know about two reliable year-round Okavango Delta camps where the game-viewing is always better than average?  Then by all means read the trip reports about Tubu Tree Camp and Seba.  Or learn more about one of Africa’s most exciting elephant interaction experiences at the near-legendary Abu Camp, also in the Okavango Delta.

Find out what is going on at the Savute Marsh in Northern Botswana right now and why it would not be a good idea to leave Savute Safari Lodge off your next trip to the area.

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If you’re thinking about including Victoria Falls in your Southern Africa trip, then be sure to consider staying at either Gorges Lodge or Zambezi Sands.  These two properties close to Vic Falls are quite different with Gorges high up on the edge of the Batoka Gorge downstream from the Falls and Zambezi Sands right on the Zambezi upstream, yet they offer all-inclusive rates with meals, drinks and activities included – a definite advantage in Vic Falls where extras can quickly add up to a sizable sum.

'First night free' offer for early-bird bookings

Now is the time to start planning and booking your Green Season trip for later this year (starting from Nov 10 2015)  through the end of March 2016.  Up to 50% lower rates than the high season,

Book soon and qualify for our special ‘first night free’ offer:  on any 2015-2016 Green Season trip booked and confirmed before the end of July 2015, we will include a free Johannesburg hotel night (or equivalent discount elsewhere).  Minimum stay of 7 nights on safari required.  Please e-mail bert@fisheaglesafaris.com or call 800 513-5222.

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Why it is OK to travel to Kenya

Every few years, a country falls victim to ‘travel pariah’ syndrome.  Which means that for a variety of reasons, people don’t want to go there.  The causes are many, ranging from dread disease (SARS, Ebola, bird flu etc.) through political instability & insurrection to crime, extreme drought and terrorist or insurgent activity.  Right now Kenya is squarely in that box because of a perfect storm of events, bad timing and negative publicity.

The tragedy of this situation is that this perception of danger associated with traveling to Kenya is totally out of line with the reality of the situation.  Kenya is every bit as safe a destination as several other African safari destinations.

Large male lion

Large male lion

Here is a typical comment from someone who just got back from Kenya a couple of weeks ago:  “Bert, just a quick note to say the trip far exceeded my expectations. It was a dream of a life time and you made it so very special. Lydia, William, Joel and Edwin [of Origins Safaris] were all wonderful and took great care of us. I always felt very safe and did not have to worry about anything due to your wonderful people.

‘And the camps were great.  My favorites were Tortilis and Lewa Downs. All the safaris were great and different. Thanks for making it memorable.”

Baby elephant being fed for visitors - David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage

Baby elephant being fed for visitors – David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage

Those of us who have been in Kenya recently know all this and so of course do our partners on the ground there.

Despite the recent attack at Garissa (which has been off the tourist track for decades) there has been no change on the travel advisory for Kenya which is to avoid the area adjacent to Somalia and the northern coastal area.There are no issues at all in the safari regions of Kenya – in fact visitors are likely just as safe there as in their country of origin.   The hard truth of it is that there is nowhere truly ‘safe’ in the world; attacks and random shootings can and do occur anywhere, also in the USA.  Going on safari is one of the safest things one can do, because of the near total absence of other people, vehicles and ‘civilization’ as we know it.  Yes you may have to spend a day or two in Nairobi but it would have to be a co-incidence of monumental proportions for any specific visitor to be involved in an incident or attack at the time of their stay.

So while isolated attacks, bombings etc. are deplorable and disastrous for those involved and their families they do not change the safety situation elsewhere in the country.  Just like the Boston Marathon bombing of a couple of years ago did not automatically make other parts of Boston or Massachusetts – or the rest of the USA – less safe than previously.

If our Kenya partners Origins Safaris thought that it was not safe for anybody to travel to Kenya, they would be the first ones to let us know.  None of us ever put our clients in any kind of danger – that would be foolish and we just don’t it.  We have in the past recommended to clients that they postpone travel around the time of the Kenya elections, for example.

Currently there is no cause for alarm and visitors can and are traveling to Kenya without taking any undue risk.  Better to be ‘safe than sorry?’  If someone really wants to try to avoid all risk the best place is probably in bed – alone.  But we don’t want to live like that, do we?

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For more background on this, please take a look at this blog post on our website:

Travel warnings do more harm than good

BOOK SOON FOR FREE DUFFEL BAG

Pic of FES duffel bag

Yours FREE for a new reservation confirmed by 31 July 2015 for travel anytime in 2015.  Minimum 7 nights on safari.

This compact light-weight yet durable High Sierra Wheel N Go duffel bag is ‘safari-ready’ and ideal for travel in light air charter flights between camps anywhere in Africa.  Load it up with your khakis, boots and binos are you’re ready to roll! Book your trip by 31 July and you roll free of charge!

Six Countries Summer Special

Our partners Wilderness Safaris’ Six Countries Special offers unbeatable prices at 26 luxury camps and a diverse range of experiences to mix and match.  From as little as $250.00 pp per night (mostly inclusive with all meals, local drinks and activities) it is possible to plan a superb safari experience at less than half the cost of a comparable high season trip.  It is a great time to be on safari with near-perfect photographic conditions, lots of baby animals around, active predators, birds in breeding plumage and gorgeous sunsets.  Plus fewer other people than other times of the year, and significantly lower international flight costs.  You may have to deal with an occasional thunderstorm so our advice is to add an extra day in each location just in case.  You will have a better time for it, enjoy plenty of opportunities to find elusive species and be able to relax and connect with the environment and the people, rather than rushing around from one place to the next.

Wilderness Safaris have outdone themselves this year with the range of properties and there are several of them which should be ‘must visits’ on anybody’s Southern Africa list:

Jao:  simply the most gorgeous, fantastical safari lodge you’ve ever dreamed of visiting.  Smack in the middle of the Okavango Delta, this is where being pampered goes into over-drive.  Glide through the idyllic Delta scenery in a mokoro, take an adventurous boat trip along papyrus-choked lagoons or marvel at big game on Hunda Island.  Built in the style of a Balinese long house on stilts, Jao is a deluxe retreat like no other.

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Abu:  every elephant-lover in the world should spend a few days here.  Little orphan Naledi – she’s now almost 16 month old – still rules the place and is as cute as ever.  She and the other five elephants of the Abu herd will wow you and entertain you endlessly.  Have breakfast with them or spend a night in the elephant boma overlooking their sleeping quarters if you’re really keen.  But be sure to do the elephant-back ride and walk – it is a revelation to even the most skeptical of visitors.

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Dumatau & Kings Pool:  the ‘new’ Dumatau on Osprey Lagoon is about as good as it gets in the way of safari camps – you will be forgiven if you mistake the new lounge & dining room area as a photo shoot in progress.  It is stylish and chic – all the better to show off some of that new safari gear you paid so dearly for!  Ditto for Kings Pool where the rooms are even bigger and come with your own private plunge pool for those hot summer afternoons.  Be sure to make some time for a pontoon outing on the Linyanti River:  great fun and always a chance to see a herd of elephant crossing through deep water – always a memorable African safari experience!

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Tubu & Little Tubu:  These two small and smaller tented camps in one of the prettiest parts of the Okavango Delta never fail to impress, right from one of the warmest welcomes you might ever get through to superb game-viewing.  The rooms at Tubu are just right.  Not too luxurious or ostentatious but comfortable and nice – plus they have some of the best outdoor showers in the Delta.  Take a seat on your outdoor verandah in front of the tent and look down upon a scene which likely hasn’t changed much in 10,000 years – a picture-pretty seasonal floodplain dotted with animals and birds, and edged with lush, bright green vegetation.

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Seba:  We fell in love with this beautiful, friendly place and its people on a recent visit and urge everyone we see to include it in their next Botswana trip.  Very close to Jao in the western part of the Okavango Delta, Seba is a reliable summer camp for game-viewing and there’s access to water for mokoro outings and boating + fishing even when the water in the Delta is at its lowest point.  The rooms are exceptionally good and we enjoyed the guiding and the overall experience at Seba as much as any camp we’ve ever visited in Botswana.

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Little Kulala:  Sossusvlei is popular for a good reason – the dunes themselves are a staggering sight to behold and of course you’d want to climb one as well!  The early morning sun creates a slow symphony of shadow and light which make the colors pop so get ready for some serious photography.  Definitely make the walk to Dead Vlei where the apricot dunes,  white gravel plain and azure sky form the most perfect natural palette for the petrified trees which dominate the scene.

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Desert Rhino Camp:  About as much fun as you can have on safari while doing some good in the process.  Home to some of Africa’s rarest and most heavily protected creatures – the black rhino – Desert Rhino Camp and the Save the Rhino Trust have done ground-breaking work here and elsewhere to keep track of and safeguard these vulnerable relics from prehistoric times. See them on foot – from a safe distance – and come back with one of the best conservation stories ever.

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Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp:  Namibia’s Skeleton Coast is an other-worldly place where a mix of endless sand dunes, game-rich oases and ephemeral river-beds, weird desert creatures, desolate beaches and beautiful sunsets topped only by perfect dawns, combine into one unforgettable journey.  No place better to experience this than Hoanib Skeleton Coast.  It’s getting a lot of publicity so act soon to reserve a three-night stay!

Five Rivers Green Season Promotion

Kwando Safaris’ tried and tested 5 Rivers summer safari program is back again for 2015-2016 and will no doubt deliver the same solid value for money, exciting game-viewing and diverse activities and experiences as ever.  Valid from 15 Nov through the end of March 2016 (with a supplement for the high holidays from Dec 15 to Jan 4) the program is easy to book and offers fantastic value for money at a rate of $460.00 per person per night, sharing.  This includes everything (accommodation, meals, scheduled activitiies, local branded drinks, laundry and park fees) except for flights between camps at special reduced tariffs, flights to Maun, and tips.

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Call us at 800 513-5222 and we will be happy to help you make a selection from the eight properties on offer, namely Nxai Pan & Tau Pan (Kalahari); Kwara and Pom Pom (Okavango Delta), Lebala and Lagoon (Kwando-Linyanti), and Stanley’s Safari Lodge (Vic Falls Zambia) as well as The Elephant Camp (Vic Falls Zimbabwe).  No single supplement for first two singles per group, no single flying supplement, just 3 nights required at one camp or 4 nights at two camps – it couldn’t be simpler than that.

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For this time of the year (Dec through March) we would recommend several days in the Kalahari to start as this area is at its best during the 5 rivers season.  That plus a few days in the Delta and finishing up either at Kwango Lagoon Camp or Lebala (or both, with a free road transfer in-between) will be a perfect Botswana trip.  Lebala and Lagoon Camp are both known for being reliable properties to find and see the rare African Painted Dogs.  But of course all the usual suspects are around, namely elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard with a bit of luck, even cheetah from time to time.  Plus the general plains game including zebra, giraffe, impala, tsessebe and plentiful lechwe in the Delta.  Or if you wish, start or end the trip in Vic Falls and enjoy activities such as a guided tour of the Falls (really a must do), a sun-downer cruise on the Zambezi (#2 on that list), a village tour, and many others.


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