African safaris, Africa safari - Fish Eagle Safaris

Client Testimonials

What our clients say about us.

Updated October 2008

Botswana/Zimbabwe/Namibia/South Africa lodge & fly-in safaris

 

BOTSWANA AND SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 2008

HI Bert,  

I hope this note finds you well.  I just wanted to let you know that we had a FABULOUS trip ! Everything ran like clockwork.  We especially enjoyed Botswana - the camps were wonderful and the ability to go off road certainly made for an outstanding experience.  We never thought we'd get this close to animals - and that's after a trip to Kenya and Tanzania  We will probably be planning another trip one day to go back to Botswana and probably Namibia - and maybe somewhere else too!  We highly recommend the wilderness safari camps of Duma Tau, Duba Plains and Chitabe.  Everything was top notch !  Thanks for planning a trip of a lifetime for us !!!  

Jan & Larry H., VA


BOTSWANA AND NAMIBIA - SEPTEMBER 2008

Bert,  just a short note to say thanks again for putting a great trip together for us.  I can give you more detailed feedback if you wish, but the simple and complete answer is the trip was outstanding in every way - exceeding our very high expectations.  Everything happened exactly according to the travel itinerary, all of the Wilderness, Sefofane and other travel personnel who interacted with us were professional, friendly and courteous and we found the accomodations completely up to or exceeding our expectations.  We did not see a cloud in the sky the entire three weeks and saw an incredible number and variety of wildlife and enjoyed the scenic beauty of Botswana, Namibia and Victoria Falls.  We will certainly recommend your services and Wilderness to our friends. 

Best regards, 

Jim E., TX


BOTSWANA AND ZAMBIA - AUGUST 2008

Hi Bert,

We (had) a wonderful time – saw some new country, new camps and some new critters, too.  Many more birds added to my list.  We especially enjoyed Duba!  I thought it might be the lower point in the trip, but we had a great young guide Carlton and the managers were a lot of fun, we saw wonderful lions (my goodness they are big there!) good buffalo and wonderful birds.

Kwetsani was nice but our experience was tempered by our guide,  who we did not like.  The luck of the draw I guess, but it makes such a difference.  I really enjoyed seeing that area again and the camp, as I had been there when it first opened (1999?).

Wow Zib is a great camp.  Fantastic amenities – things that you would never imagine but just nice touches in the tent – they have ice chests with cold water (or whatever you desire), a mono-pod in each tent, and oh the gas stove heater was a nice touch on those chilly mornings!  We were impressed with their new camp.  We loved seeing water in the Savuti Channel having been “regulars” at Duma Tau.  We saw great game there (our only cheetah and leopard) and a good guide.

River Club is still a nice respite, but the rooms needs a refurbishment and it is never the same if Mr. Jones is not there.  Still like it though!

Our time in Zambia was sure different.  A very long plane ride but it is interesting crossing the forests and all that wilderness.  We were concerned by the fires that seem to be everywhere from the air and the air quality certainly showed it!  Made for great sunsets, though.  It is such a huge area that we didn’t see as much game as we usually do in Botswana.  Saw some new things and enjoyed the time there, but probably wouldn’t go back.  We did a charter trip in the helicopter while there, and we really enjoyed that.  Went to another camp and they put on a lovely brunch in the river (literally).  Great pilot gave us a wonderful 5 star ride with game viewing and along the river and over the plains.  Whew I needed a drink when I got there to settle my nerves, but I loved it.  That is a great thing to recommend to clients, by the way.  The camp didn’t really offer it – we thought it up on our own and they were happy to organize it, but it would be easy to just mention it to people as an option there.

Toka Leya is a nice new addition to the (Zambezi) river area.  They did it quite well and entertained us with falls trips and anything else, but we were mostly done with game driving by then.  Nice camp though.  Better than the big commercial hotels, for sure. 

Thanks for all your help.  Bob and Marsha were talking about taking some family on another trip, so hopefully you will have a new Africa convert!

I am still sorting my photos but will send some if you like.  Let me know what you would like to see.

Patty S., CA


BOTSWANA AND VICTORIA FALLS - JULY 2008

Bert,

We had a fabulous time in Africa.  Cape Town has to be one of most lovely places we've been - perfect weather every day - and a really good value.  We loved both Kings Pool and Jao.  Kings Pool was Susan and my favorite - we saw four lions on the first afternoon drive and an elephant eating just yards from our room deck.  Thom and Fish like Joa better - and it is a beautiful place.  We especially enjoyed the other travelers at both camps.  The only thing I think we all agreed we'd do differently was not to stay in Zimbabwe.  We had a wonderful time visiting the falls and did both the helicopter ride and elephant safari.  The hotel was very nice - but unfortunatlly the political unrest made their ability to attract other guests and get food (no chicken or catchup or mustard available) a little dicey.  And the poor town was just a ghost town. Other guests at our camps stayed on the Zambia side and I'm glad that's what you recommended for Leigh.

Many thanks for your excellent advice and help planning.  I've given your name to several co-workers - so I hope you'll hear from more.

Mary W., TX


NORTHERN BOTSWANA AND VICTORIA FALLS - AUGUST 2008

Just got back from Africa. Incredible. Mating leopards at Little Vumbura and a honeybadger making a kill at Savuti were just two of a hundred astounding sights. Thanks for your great help and consummate professionalism, as usual!

In total, it was one of the greatest safaris ever put together. Thank you all. The staff in Botswana commented that they had never seen a combination of qualities in a group taking over a camp that was both EASY in terms of non-idiosyncratic personalities and demands, and great passion, leading to being in the field for the maximum possible time.

Special accolades: Wilderness has incredible leadership that filters down to its staff at each camp, where the attitude, personality, charm, smiles, and warmth are consistantly fantastic. I terribly miss a couple camp managers like Soly and Paul Thierry, but Connie and Noku are fabulous in that same vein, at Savuti, and the managers at Little Vumbura are as good as they get, as well, and Dudley is fun. But let me talk about the fantastic driver/guides:

The best of the best is Brian. He was incredible as my main partner at Little Vumbura and is training his apprentices well. They are really learning birds in a superior fashion, as a result of his mentoring. You can tell how he makes a difference. JAMES at Duba was fantastic. I appreciated him so much that I am inviting him to the U.S. to stay with us next May, and for me to guide him to see our birds and wildlife at my research station. I MUST have him for my group next August 09! At Savuti, Sefo was tops, and I want him, definitely, along with Goodman.

Little touches that were greatly appreciated: the hot water bottles in our beds; the escorts to/from our tents; the flashlights provided; the FABULOUS PONCHOS that keep people from getting too cold, morning and evening. At my suggestion, we came up with "Botswana Coffees": -- (like Irish coffee with Irish whiskey) -- made up of coffee with Amarula. Everyone went crazy over this. By the way, I found a wine in South Africa at the airport hotel that you might want to investigate: Tall Horse shiraz. People went crazy over this wine.

Bert, you are incredible with your professionalism and personal touches. You and I are a great team, and I appreciate all that you do for my safari groups. I will be loyal to you and Wilderness for this unparalleled performance. The booklet that you provide each safari member is invaluable, professionally created, and something that no one in the business surpasses.

Wildlife highlights: Duba: seeing the aardwolf, civet, bat eared fox, side striped jackal and African wildcat -- all with James. Seeing Milkey Eye again, still alive, but considerably beaten up by other lionesses was dramatic, as was seeing the single male that now is trying to hold onto the territory and pride after the demise of the last two Duba Boys. His tenure, I would guess, is very shakey, as any substantial coalition of two or more should end his reign. But he is magnificent, and hearing him call to his pride was viscerally thrilling.

Finding a female leopard just coming into heat, calling out in the night at Little Vumbura, and hearing a male respond in the far distance was thrilling, as well, especially since we found them both in a tree together the following morning. We watched her, her hormones/pheromones obviously building up, sacheting her tail in his face and trying to get his attention to mate, but with no success. The allure was not yet powerful enough for the big male. That late afternoon, we rightly suspected that her pheromones would be even more alluring, and we were rewarded with the follow up of our suspicion by finding them mating, in perfect position for filming. To my surprise, this initial, first-day mating was not occuring every fifteen minutes or so, the interval which I have become used to, on previous safaris. Never before had I come upon leopards that had just started their mating. They actually mated initially every two minutes! (Timed.) After half a dozen of these growls/neck-bites, ejaculations, the intervals finally did get to about fifteen or twenty minutes, and we reluctantly returned very late for a celebratory dinner.

Savuti at first disappointed me because I wanted to show my people the incomparable log hide, which in dry years attracts elephants and other wildlife up close, in your face, like no other camp in Africa. The filling of the channel, the first in 26 years, brought crocs, fish, large numbers of shore birds and waders. It was historical and magical. I was delighted we also found cheetah, leopard, and the Selinda Boys, the magnificent males from another pride, who divided and conquered the four Savuti Boys which had previously ruled the area. The two Selinda Boys violently defeated, in two separate encounters, two pairs of Savuti Boys that made the tragic error of traveling in pairs rather than in their indominatable group of four. But what topped everything for me at Savuti was watching honey badgers, a species that can be hard to find almost anywhere in Africa. We encountered them twice. The second time, we were withing 15 yards of one frantically digging out a big rodent that he smelled under ground. Dust was thrown up everywhere. My team got full frame photos of him crunching down his breakfast. Talk about symetry, to end our whole safari, with little time left before departing for Victoria Falls, we had a bush breakfast arranged for us, not far from the airstrip, so we wouldn't have to waste game drive time going back to camp. We were rewarded with an intimate encounter with the two Selinda Boys, marking their newly won territory, and staring us down, giving their big epiglotis-revealing yawn, showing sets of canines worthy of bragging rights.

Dozens of other encounters with smashing good birds and mammals made this a safari of a lifetime, which few people deserve. My safari team was really impressed with the camps and locations, especially considering the fact that they were filming along side a National Geographic team that is doing a production on warthogs that should be finished next year.

Thanks for all your invaluable help. Please pass this information on to the great staff at Wilderness. They should know how their hard work pays off. I look forward to seeing you all and working with you for my next group in August 09.

Mark B., MA.


CAPE TOWN AND BOTSWANA - AUGUST 2008

Hi Bert,

We had a wonderful vacation in Africa, all of the arrangements for travel, accomodations and transfers were perfect. Wilderness Safaris is a great professional organisation and the camps were fabulous.Our favorite camp was Dumatau,the accomodations, the wide variety of game, great food and a superb experienced guide (Mr. T or Theba) who had over 20 yrs in that area. He made our stay there a special experience, trying to meet our every need and expectation for game viewing and photography.

We got back to the US on the day of the storm, so could not return to Houston from DC, i found a flight to San Antonio,stayed overnight and drove home on Sunday.

I have recommended your services and Wilderness Safaris  to a close friend and colleague who may be calling you.

Thanks again. Hope you were safe during the hurricane. We will be back in touch for our next safari to Africa!!

Ranjit and Danuta C., TX


BOTSWANA & ZAMBIA - AUGUST 2008

buffalo photoAnyway, we did have a wonderful time – saw some new country, new camps and some new critters, too. Many more birds added to my list. We especially enjoyed Duba! I thought it might be the lower point in the trip, but we had a great young guide Carlton and the managers were a lot of fun, we saw wonderful lions (my goodness they are big there!) good buffalo and wonderful birds.

Kwetsani was nice but our experience was tempered by our guide who we did not like. The luck of the draw I guess, but it makes such a difference. I really enjoyed seeing that area again and the camp, as I had been there when it first opened (1999?).

Wow Zib is a great camp. Fantastic amenities – things that you would never imagine but just nice touches in the tent – they have ice chests with cold water (or whatever you desire), a mono-pod in each tent, and oh the gas stove heater was a nice touch on those chilly mornings! We were impressed with their new camp. We loved seeing water in the Savuti Channel having been “regulars” at Duma Tau. We saw great game there (our only cheetah and leopard) and a good guide.

River Club is still a nice respite, but the rooms needs a refurbishment and it is never the same if Mr. Jones is not there. Still like it though!

Our time in Zambia was sure different. A very long plane ride but it is interesting crossing the forests and all that wilderness. We were concerned by the fires that seem to be everywhere from the air and the air quality certainly showed it! Made for great sunsets, though. It is such a huge area that we didn’t see as much game as we usually do in Botswana. Saw some new things and enjoyed the time there, but probably wouldn’t go back. We did a charter trip in the helicopter while there, and we really enjoyed that. Went to another camp and they put on a lovely brunch in the river (literally). Great pilot gave us a wonderful 5 star ride with game viewing and along the river and over the plains. Whew I needed a drink when I got there to settle my nerves, but I loved it. That is a great thing to recommend to clients, by the way. The camp didn’t really offer it – we thought it up on our own and they were happy to organize it, but it would be easy to just mention it to people as an option there.

Toka Leya is a nice new addition to the river area. They did it quite well and entertained us with falls trips and anything else, but we were mostly done with game driving by then. Nice camp though. Better than the big commercial hotels, for sure.

Thanks for all your help. Bob and Marsha were talking about taking some family on another trip, so hopefully you will have a new Africa convert!

I am still sorting my photos but will send some if you like. Let me know what you would like to see.

Patty S., CA


SPIRIT OF THE NAMIB SAFARI & BOTSWANA FLY-IN MAY 2008

Bert,

Although I've been back from my trip a couple of weeks I just now had a chance to get an e-mail off to you about the trip. In a word it was fantastic!!

I am really pleased that in the end I did the Spirit of Namibia adventure. It was a perfect way to see the geology, people and ecosystems up close. For sure it was rigorous some days in terms of the length of the drives. The longest of course was the nearly 13 hour drive up to Honib from Palmwag. But even so the beauty and detail that we got to see would have never been appreciated form the air. I must say that Honib Valley, Rive and Camp were some of my favorite locations. I really like the small adventure camp thadune photot was so isolated. The hiking in the area was really nice including hiking up and down the dry river bed. It was especially beautiful there at night in that it happened that the full moon hit the first night we were there. I actually went out with Charles, the camp manager and one of our other party on a night hike to the river. We didn't even need our torches it was so light.

The other highlight for sure was climbing the dunes down in Sossusveli. The beauty and grandeur of those rust colored dunes against the bright blue sky is unparalleled. Two of us along with our guide made it to the top of Big Daddy, the tallest dune. It was quite a climb but well worth the effort. What a view form the top over all of the dunes and down into the pans.

These were only the highlights in that every place and ever kilometer of the trip was great. Oh not to forget the kayaking on Wavis Bay. This was a nice addition in the mix of the trip. The camps were top rate of course as is all of what Wilderness does. But my favorites were Honib, as I mentioned, along with Kulala, again for it's more remote setting. The only thing I might change if I were to redesign this adventure trip was to add a day in somewhere, likely at Damaraland or Kulala simply to slow things down just a little in terms of hours on the road.

I would say that one other thing added to the enjoyment of the adventure safari in Namibia which was our guide. Rossie was our guide.
And as she told us she is the first and I believe the only female guide guiding in Namibia or at least for Wilderness. She was the best. It was interesting in that the driver whoKulala camp took me to Eros to fly up to ongava told me that I would have a woman guide. He told me this with that typical male attitude that somehow I was going to get a second rate experience. But it was anything but that.

And then of course I had my days in Botswana up at Duma Tau. As you know, the Suvuti Channel is full of water which it has not been form some 25 years or so. Having just seen it 2 years ago dry, it was great to now see it full of water. We were even able to go out on a boat for a couple of hours t tour around the channel that way. Duma Tau such a nice camp. as the staff told me and I saw form a short distance, Tubu Tree has been rebuilt and upgraded. I was interested since that is where I stayed a couple of years ago. It seems that Wilderness is upgrading many of their camps and moving them up a notch in terms of luxury and the like. I hope they don;t go too far. I do like the adventurous feel and a more organic feel, but that could just be me.

The game viewing was great. I got to see the set of Cheetah brothers I had seen 2 years ago. We actually came upon them just as they had taken down an impala. We saw a couple of young leopards, several lions of various ages and all the rest of the large and small mammals. Unfortunately I did not see any wild dogs this time around. And the birding was of course superb. I added several new birds to my bird list.

I tell you, there is nothing like those southern african nights just as the sun goes down and the temperature drops a little. And in Botswana there is that wonderful moist scent that that I have experienced no other place in the world that is so indicative of Botswana. That is one of the sense experiences I wanted to experience again and why I wanted to go back there.

Bottom line, I can't wait to get back to Africa. Namibia is certainly on my return list and I kept hearing good things about Zambia and Malawi from the staff at Duma Tau so perhaps in a year or so I will be on my way again.

If you needed any other information form me to help guide other of your clients regarding the trips please let me know. I'd be glad to share more with you. THanks again for your counsel and arrangements for my trip.

C. Forte, CA


BOTSWANA & SOUTH AFRICA FLY-IN SAFARI, MAY 2008

Hi Bert, Harvey, Jan and I are safely back from our amazing trip to Africa. Everything went according to plan. The Wilderness Safaris people met us at every airport etc. We learned a lot about the countries from the WS drivers.little mombo photo


All three camps we stayed in were wonderful. The accommodations were superb but the best part was the welcoming staff at each camp. The service and food were excellent. The four guides we had (Tsile at Little Mombo, O.D. at King's Pool and Donovan and Jubulani at Singita) were over-the-top knowledgeable about birds, plants, animals and nature in general and were fun to be with.


My photos are being developed; our employees are excited to see them. I have some amazing shots.

My only suggestion might be to tell people to bring more than one flashlight. I had a new Maglite model but the bulb burned out on the second day. Fortunately, I had a spare blub. The Maglite model I had could be made into a "candle" by unscrewing the lens cover and attaching it to the other end to create a stand. Because of limited generating power the rooms are pretty dim. I could have used two or even three "candle" lights.

Thanks for a trip-of-a-lifetime experience! I will be happy to recommend you and Wilderness Safaris to my friends and anyone you would like.

Best regards,

B. Kelley, IL


BOTSWANA FLY-IN SAFARI, JUNE 2008

Hi Bert; We got back early yesterday evening from our trip. Everything went exactly as planned and desired on the Wilderness side. As you probably expected.

They are certainly a GREAT group to be dealing with. In some ways better than our former standby at CC Africa.Savuti Camp

Doing a range of Delta camps was a wonderful way to see just about everything the Okavango had to offer. Plus being at Savuti the year the channel actually had water in it was VERY exciting. No elephants in camp but that might have actually made the sitings better. Plus the Cheetah 'boys' (the pair of 10+ year old males that seem to be famous) spent a few wonderful hours with us. They even tried to make a kill for us but did not quite do the job. But they did sit in the sun on a termite mound on our last morning in Botswana. Nice of them.

Which brings me to a long range question. Zambia would seem to be a nice spot to visit in 2010. I know that Wilderness has some facilities there. Could you send us some information? Plus let us know what your experience has been in Zambia?

Thanks VERY MUCH for all of your help and expertise.

PS: Having our own driver was THE way to go.

B. Miller, MD


PRIVATE BOTSWANA SAFARI, JULY 2007

Hi Bert,

We all want to thank you and Wilderness Safaris very much for an excellent trip. We returned on Saturday, and we are still jetlagged, but very pleased with the experience.

The logistics were impeccable. Transfers arrived on time, with courteous and efficient drivers and pilots in the charter planes and helicopters. The two lodges, at the beginning and end of the safari, were delightful and relaxing. Especially following the safari, the time at Shackleton's to rest for the afternoon and shower before the return flights home, was very welcome.

photoBut the five days of safari were most outstanding. Ketumetse had little game, because the waters were so high and the wildlife was spread out, but Thuto took us on walks and taught us about how to track, found many birds, and canoed to an island, in addition to introducing us, by game drives, to the most common animals. In Linyanti, he outdid himself. He is an absolutely spectacular guide who really made the trip for us. I think he could track any animal anywhere, was very pleasant and kind, has a wonderful sense of humor, was knowledgeable about every aspect of Africa and animal life and ecology, and got us hooked on birding. We identified 124 different kinds of birds in a very few days, and his excitement was infectious. He found a mother leopard with her cub, a pack of wild dogs, and many male lions. There also was a sense of security in close encounters with animals, since it was absolutely clear that he had an intimate knowledge of animal behavior. We all felt that he deserves a raise in salary for his absolutely splendid work as a guide!

Now, all you have to do is arrange for Africa to be closer to the US, and we would go again in a heartbeat.

If you would, please forward this letter to Wilderness Safaris also. I would like them to know how delighted we are, with their organization and with Thuto.
Best regards,
Susan


Thanks


Kenya with Origins Safaris, July 2007

Hello Bert,
photoWe are home safe and sound after a very wonderful trip with Origins. I don’t know if I can put all my thoughts about the trip in an email at this time. Our guide, Peter Muigai, made the trip what it was. I think any other guide would not have done the job Peter did and the trip would have been just a so so trip. We spent many hours with Peter, he was informative, caring about our wishes, willing to spend extra time on the drives by taking picnic lunches so we did not have to come back for breakfast, willing to sit and watch various animals and not zip off to find the next quarry. He was also very informative about Kenya, its people, politics, the geography and we visited the private school where two of his children were enrolled. Peter is an outstanding guide. I would like to go back to the right people at Origins and put in a good word for Peter. The other Origins people in Nairobi were also very good and took good care of us.
photoAs for the game viewing we saw every thing we had on our list, reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, gerenuk and the leading edge of the migration crossing over into Kenya from Tanzania. We had pleasant surprises like seeing several hyenas lying in the road at dusk that turned out to be a whole family with several small cubs and juveniles, cheetah with five cubs, good leopard sightings, watching elephants dig water holes in the river sand to obtain fresh water from the muddy river.

The accommodations were all good with the possible exception of the pillows at Intrepids Samburu. Ol P was interesting; our tents at Intrepids Masai Mara were a brand new duplex with connecting screened porch. The food at Lion Hill was the most interesting as they served several native dishes that were delicious, no other camp served native dishes and we did enjoy trying new foods.
There is already talk of Tanzania and seeing the Gnu calving in the early part of the year, but that we will have to wait and see what develops. We appreciate all your help and getting our trips lined up, all have been a success.
Thanks
M Warner, VA


Zimbabwe - June 2007

"Hi - we had a wonderful time! The parks in Zimbabwe are in great shape, we were generally unaffected by the political situation, except for power problems at the Harare airport. The walks and night drives were fantastic, so much better than always being in a jeep.

photoMana Pools was unbelievable. Had a great time canoeing, and the camp arrangements were fantastic. Would recommend spending additional nights at Ruckomechi camp, it was very nice there. There was so much wildlife was right near the camp that the drives and walks were fantastic, and from stories we heard it appears there are many different sightings every day. Our guides made sure we were safe during the canoe trips and walks, so I don't think there's as much danger there as the stories would have you believe.

Makalolo was excellent, incredible amount of wildlife there in the winter months. The leaves were changing, so the scenery was beautiful. The guides were excellent, well-trained and had lots of experience, the best we had on the trip. We were probably the first to see the newly released white rhino. It was extremely cold here! On the night drives, we needed gloves, hats, and every piece of
clothing we could find.

Matusadona was a great park, and we saw lots of signs of Black Rhino, excellent place for exploring. Was very unhappy with Musanga, though. The staff consisted of two newcomers who were working for free board, groundskeepers, kitchen staff and one guide. We begged to do walks to search for Black
photo Rhino, and the guide only allowed us to do it on one morning, and we had to go with an older couple who
were more interested in filming each other in front of every termite mound they passed - very frustrating. Most of the game-viewing activities were from a boat, not what we had in mind when planning for a game safari. As far as birding, Mana Pools had much more diverse and interesting bird life. The guide, although probably a good game tracker, was not very knowledgeable about game or birds. One afternoon we did a game drive, but it was on bad roads close to the camp so we didn't get far. The camp is not entirely functional since they get so few guests, but even when it is functional, it is not in any shape or form a game safari lodge. One positive, though - the chef there was amazing. Some of the meals were better than you can get in the best Washington DC restaurants. Someone we met stayed in Matusadona at a place called Rhino Lodge or something like that, and said it was great, they went on lots of walks. I would assume the Water Lodge, near Musanga, would not be appropriate for game safari
guests, since they mostly have boat activities as well.

photoOur Johannesburg hotel was perfect, we didn't have to leave the grounds.

Our Victoria Falls hotel, Ilala, was great, could walk to the national park, and had really nice grounds full of wildlife day and night.

The Cape Town bed & breakfast (Villa Sunshine) was great. It had a beautiful view from the patio, and the staff was very helpful with all our tour arrangements and daily plans. There was so much to do in Cape Town!

Shark cage diving was incredible!!!
-S. Metzger, D.C.


Botswana and Zambia with Wilderness Safaris, June 2007

photoDear Bert,
Oh, yes, back safe and sound and now over jet lag. Nice to be home, but we are missing Africa!
We thought of you many times while we were there. You helped us put together the perfect trip for our family. The trip exceeded our expectations! I don't know how to start except to say that we were already talking about our "next trip to Africa" after our first camp. That sentiment held for the entire three weeks there.

It was magnificent! All of it was wonderful. Two ....maybe three....of us loved Zambia the best just because the landscape and the setting of the camp is magical. The other two loved Botswana for the variety of animals we saw there.
photoStaying at camps where the terrain and, therefore, activities varied was very good. The length of stay at each was just fine. Having the option for walking in a couple of the camps was wonderful. Walking to and then sleeping in the tree in Chitabe was terrific!
Shumba was amazing. That area of Africa was magical. The sunsets and sunrises were breathtaking over that vast remote area. We had a great variety of activities with a wonderful guide. The people who work there are outstanding. The food was spectacular. All of us would go back to anywhere in Zambia in a flash! The trip would not have been complete without our stay in that part of Africa.
Many, many thanks for your help. If you want any more details about our trip, let us know.
Looking forward to working with you again!
Sincerely and happily,
M L Walter, CA


South Luangwa Valley with The Bushcamps Company - June 2007

photoHi Bert
I just wanted to say thank you for the most fabulous trip. Lynne and I had the best time. The camps were way beyond my expectations. The staff, comfort, food, and service were great. For a photographer it was so much fun. When I have made my slide show I will send you a link.
Thanks again. I am so glad Lynne found you on line.
Best wishes
Julie
www.julieskarratt.com


ZAMBIA - S. LUANGWA VALLEY WITH THE BUSHCAMP COMPANY

photo"Hi Bert,

I have been traveling for work since I got back and can’t remember if I responded to this.
I have been meaning to email you...
The trip was way beyond my expectations!!!!! It was truly one of the best trips I have been on. I was amazed that the bush camps were so nice, the people were incredible, the food outrageous and the guides, knowledgeable, interesting and personable (didn’t hurt that the guys running the camps were REALLY CUTE AND FUN). I was even more thrilled that we saw NO ONE (except the the couples staying at the camps) while in the bush when we were game viewing, on foot or in the truck. Julie and I were so sad to leave the bush and go to the Mfuwe Lodge. The lodge was great, don’t get me wrong, but there were so many people and rovers everywhere. Even though we saw more game in and around Mfuwe Lodge, the whole experience of the bush camps was much more appealing to me as well as Julie.

I have many, many photos which, when I get time, I will put into a slideshow and send you the link.

Bert, thank you thank you thank you for putting together such and incredible trip!!! The next thing I would like to do is go hike the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda area and see the Gorillas. The first idea was to hike Kilimanjaro, now I think the trip idea is morphing into the gorilla adventure... We (about 5 women, leaving husbands at home) are looking at 2008. Have any suggestions?

Regards,
L. Brubaker VA


Namibia and the Cape with Wilderness Safaris - Feb 2007

photoDear Bert,
We've been on full speed since back from Africa. You may recall this trip was, in part, a celebratory trip for our daughter, who will graduate from Medical School in June. She will be beginning a six year residency in Plastic Surgery in June, so the trip was well-timed.
Our trip was wonderful. We travel quite a bit, both for pleasure and for world community service, and have been in Iceland, Guatemala, Peru , Cambodia, Easter Island, the South Pacific, Australia, etc, etc. We would be hard-pressed to find a destination as unforgettable as the Skeleton Coast. It was like being on the surface of Mars, or the moon, in utter beauty, with opportunity to meet wonderful people, see animals, and learn about the cultures, too. We were told that approximately 2000 visitors have been to the Skeleton Coast camp since it opened 15 years ago. There were only five visitors, plus the camp staff, during our stay. Us, and 500,000 acres of unbelievable beauty.
photoWe were lucky enough to see desert elephant, giraffe, plus oryx and springbok. This isn't a game-viewing trip, though. There is too much else to see. Every day was different. We visited the Himba village one day, which was memorable. Bare-breasted women, covered with red ochre and animal fat, are not very different from other women in what we care about day to day. We could share smiles and mutual curiosity about how we live. Our guide, Rudi, was indispensable in bridging any gaps in communication. He must be the little brother of Eddie Murphy! He has the most unforgettable laugh, and an amazing understanding of the land, flora, and fauna.
The last night we were in camp, the camp staff danced and sang for us , as we sat under a huge tree, under the stars. We tried to learn the "click" language, with some coaching from the staff. We shared the night with a tour operator from London, who was there to evaluate the camp as a potential destination for future travelers who like to go way off the usual itineraries. Skeleton coast was unforgettable. We were fortunate to be there before the inevitable crowds, because they will be there in the future. The only saving grace for the camp's popularity is the effort needed to get there. Thanks to you, and Wilderness, everything was spot-on perfect.
photoFlying in the small planes was great. Our pilot, Glen, flew low enough over the coast on the way to Sossusvlei that we could see marine life. The Dunes camp was busier, but again we were the only people from the US. We had great discussions with others from the UK, and Germany on politics. With wine flowing, no discussion was taboo. The dunes were beautiful, and our guide Franco was wonderful. It was just the three of us, and Franco, for the entire time we were there. He is such a kind, knowledgeable man. He is one of four Wilderness guides who are participating in a two year pilot program leading to a degree in ecological management. It was hard to say goodbye to him.
photoOf course, we had a great time in Capetown. We hired a guide to take us to the wine country for a day, and want to go back! In Capetown for the second time, we felt very comfortable navigating on our own. I do wish we had asked you to secure tickets to Robbins Island , as they were sold the entire week. Another reason to go back to Capetown.
The Olive Grove in Windhoek was VERY nice. We hired a guide for a day tour, and had a wonderful dinner under the stars at the Olive Grove. I'd go back there again, and would recommend it in Windhoek. In Capetown, we would stay closer to the waterfront next time.
This was one of the best trips we've taken. We met quite a few people who wanted to go to the Skeleton Coast, but said cost was an issue. It was worth the cost. Go before the Skeleton Coast turns into another Angkor Wat, overrun with tourists. We will never see anything like this again in our travels.
We will keep referring adventurous travelers to you. Thank you for such an unforgettable trip.
Sincerely,
Beers family, MI


Kenya with Origins Safaris - Nov 2006

Dear Bert,We were very pleased with our trip. [Our guide] Godfrey was helpful to us on many levels. He not only had a lot of information about the wildlife in the park but also he was knowledgeable about the local tribes and it was enjoyable to talk to him over dinner about other aspects of life in Kenya. He has a wonderful sense of humor and he is adept at perceiving each person's interests and needs. I think our interaction with him brought the experience to a level that would have been impossible otherwise. The best part is that we felt that we had the opportunity to become friends because we had time to develop a relationship which is important to us.

photoWe were able to fully appreciate having Godfrey with us since on the first part of the trip we went by van to Eldoret with a group (three vans) and although the drivers were experienced they were not able to answer questions so it was frustrating. Oner and I were thrilled that we had Godfrey "to ourselves" for our first trip to Africa, as we were curious about so many aspects of life there. Godfrey with his "big personality" also gave a informative and delightful answer to our most detailed questions. He truly shaped our trip into a meaningful experience and both of us are anxious to go back to Africa again.

Bert, you were right on the money in helping us plan our trip. After a hectic and busy time in Eldoret (it also was a profound experience) we were very happy to see Godfrey who took good care of us and allowed us to enjoy ourselves without worrying about details. Since we have travelled on our own throughout south east Asia (having lived in Kuala Lumpur for over a year) and throughout Europe and the Middle East we were not sure if it was necessary to have a private guide this time. We quickly realized that it was very important for us to have a private guide there (particularly the first time) and after the Eldoret part of the trip, it was delightful to relax. Having Godfrey with us allowed us to do just that.

We were also pleased with the camps. Tortilis is beautiful with excellent food and accommodations. The staff was very helpful and professional and the landscape design is striking. We really enjoyed the food (foodies that we are) and the quiet beauty at that camp is to be treasured.

photoThe Mara Intrepids camp is centrally located and also very good. The staff helped us in many ways. I still remember how someone there fixed my husband's 'safari pants as we had a problem with the zipper..within two hours it was repaired. Also (due to a Godfrey intervention) the staff prepared a wonderful cake for our 30th anniversary. The presentation was outstanding and memorable as at least ten people danced around the room singing in Swahili as they made their way to our table ..what a surprise!

Overall the food there was adequate....We were spoiled with the Tortilis experience. The location at the Mara Intrepids camp was good for access to different parts of the camp so we were pleased with that aspect and also the staff there were very good and they seemed to have an excellent network..helping each other to spot animals or lend a helping hand if someone had a problem with their vehicle. The buildings could be better maintained.

It was a wonderful experience and I have been sending out glowing reports to my friends about your company and the way you helped us shape the itinerary. When I am fully recovered from whatever is ailing me .. I will have a party here for friends and we will truly celebrate our wonderful trip.

Best regards,

M. Yurtseven


South Africa with Wilderness Safaris

Hi Bert,

photoOur trip was terrific. Thank you for your help in organizing the trip. We had a wonderful time and would recommend the trip and you to our friends.

Bongani was very different and beautiful - however, I hear CC Africa may no longer work with Bongani, which is a shame. Kirkman's was also great. Cape Town was superb and Constantia Uitsig was quaint and nice.

All in all, it was a great way to see the country and, importantly, everything went off without a hitch.

Thanks again for setting up a great trip.

S. Sehadri

Hi Bert,

photoWe had a wonderful time. South Africa is a beautiful country and everybody should visit at least once. The accommodations were great and everything was set up extremely well. The transfers were right on time and the guides were all very nice. Thanks for your help and who knows, we may be going back.

 

Sincerely
K. Kambourian

 

Credit for the above photographs goes to Alain Schram, Michael Poliza, Dana Allen, Wilderness Safaris.


ZAMBIA, MALAWI & CAPE TOWN – AUG 2006

Bert -
This was written by Peggy, but expresses my feelings too, and I think Tom and Mary's as well. Many thanks for such outstanding work for us. We had a marvelous time.
Frank H.

Every day we exclaimed to one another several times “Didn’t Bert make a fabulous plan?!!!” Everything worked so well. We could tell that you had really listened to our desires in thinking about what we wanted. We had opportunities to see people and culture from each game camp, we were not “over peopled” with other tourists. However, we could also tell that you took our descriptions of our desires into account and gave us something way beyond that. For instance, we could not have known to ask for camps that weren’t crowded with 10 vans at every animal sighting. We saw evidence of that after we left our part of the Luangwa Valley. We had been very secluded. On the way out, we saw just how busy some of the other camps and areas were. We were really glad to not have been there.

Our first guides, Patrick and Ian, at Kaingo and Mwambwa respectively, were extraordinary. Mary and I, who were both a bit uneasy about the proximity to wild animals, felt immediately confident in their wisdom and knowledge of animal patterns. We had so many questions and learned so much. We were very grateful to them for making it such an amazing experience. It was a perfect introduction to Africa.

We loved the distinctive nature of each camp and of the different cultures evident in Zambia and Malawi. And, we relished the chance to rest between camp life and city life in the well chosen Kaya Mawa.

Welgelegen House was fabulous. We ended up hiring a few guides for our time in Cape Town and we did some exploring on our own. Kirsten at WH had all the information we needed to know in order to make plans to our liking.

We definitely will recommend you to friends setting about on adventures like ours.

Thank you.
P. Guest


BOTSWANA AND SOUTH AFRICA: AUG/SEPT 2006

Sunset at Tubu Tree Camp, Okavango Delta    

Bert!
Thank you so much for arranging our fabulous trip! We all loved it and I expect you will be receiving more letters of gratitude soon. We sang your praises over & over again! Each camp was better than the next, each experience was wonderful. Our favorites, one's that we would love to return to are Tubu Tree Camp and Exeter River Lodge, but all camps were terrific and had new wonders to amaze us. I want to go back! John Burns said this was the best trip he has very been on. All arrangements and flights were perfect, no one lost us, all were on time. No problems AT ALL! As we've been raving about our trip to everyone, they've been asking for your name to use you for their booking! So see, we all will end up happy! Thanks again! It was truly great!
L. Wilks

Sunset at Tubu Tree Camp, Okavango Delta
Credit: Michael Poliza


Dear Bert,
You did a fabulous job and everything went like clockwork. John and I had a great time. It was the best trip we've ever had. The camps were all exceptional. It was interesting, we all discussed whether we would change anything, and we were hard pressed to improve. Some random thoughts came up, however, and I'm sure you want feedback. Chobe Chilwero was beautiful, but after the wilds of Tubu Tree and feeling like we were in the wilds, the park experience and the wired off grounds were too tame for the likes of us. We enjoyed the adrenalin rush of the other camps. The standout guide was from Exeter River Camp, Chris.

The other thought I had was that I might have gone to fewer camps (3) and spent more time in Capetown and the Winelands, but you would not have been successful talking us into that. We all loved the Bush and treasured the animal viewing beyond our wildest expectations. We were really troubled to stand in line in Johannesburg airport and hear a Texan reporting he had killed 54 large animals including lions and cheetahs. Why would anyone need to kill 54 large animals?

The food was good, and the best was Exeter and Baines. We loved all of the accommodations. Thanks for doing such a great job.

Thanks, Bert!
C. Reininga


Dear Bert;

What can we say? We, as everyone else who travels there, fell in love with South Africa - the people, the country, the history, etc. We had a wonderful experience and everything went as clockwork. Your organization did a terrific job.

I think you will probably hear from others in our group as well. I thought we might pass along some thoughts to you. We loved the Wilderness Camps - they were special experiences and the staff always seemed friendlier than the Sanctuary Camps. Most of us would pass on Chobe Chilwero next time as we felt we could have been in a fancy hotel anywhere - the grounds are surrounded by an electric fence and there are only two places to go, the park and the river and there was more civilization around. However, we know people who love it...

We loved Tubu Tree, Xigera and River Lodge at Exeter. On one of the drives in Exeter we saw The Big Five within an hour! We also loved our guides there - Chris and Isaac.

It was a wonderful experience. Thanks for helping make it so.

We miss the bush...Kaye and Dick


GREAT MALAWI JOURNEY, JUNE 2006

Interesting game drive at Mvuu Lodge, Malawi
Interesting game drive at Mvuu Lodge, Malawi
Credit: Dana Allen

Bert, hi. Paul and I returned home safely Monday morning after about 20 hours flying. Malawi is an interesting country to visit, even though it is quite poor. This is indicated by observing the people riding the bicycles or walking on the paved or dirt road and very little traffic. Most houses were built of homemade bricks and thatched roof. However, the diversity of the landscapes we went through is quite breathtaking, especially the high plateau Nyika. It is such a vast, rolling grassland like savannah, but not flat as seen in Serengeti. It can be seen for miles all around when we were traveling along the top of the hills. We saw the wildlife at some of the camps and lodges, lot of elephants though.

I have to tell you about an interesting incident that took place at the Kazuni Safari Camp in the Wvava Marsh Game Reserve. Paul, a Finnish guy, and I were sitting in an open dining hall waiting for our lunch. By then, one or more elephants started coming out of the wood by the camp heading for the water in Lake Kazuni. Then, one of them stopped and headed for the dining hall. Several of them followed him. They were picking something up from the ground near the tree in front of the hall. They wandered around the hall. Paul was sitting in the hall near the retaining wall taking pictures. That same elephant walked by him so close that Paul could have reached out and touched him. See the picture of Paul and the elephant that I took. We just simply stayed put in the hall and taking pictures and observing them until they moved away toward the water. It was really exciting to see them up that close. By then, I counted 55 elephants that had come out of the wood for the water.

At the Liwonde National Park, Paul and I saw a fight between two male sables when we came upon a small sable herd. Because of the mating period, one male was watching his harem and the other male was trying to mate. After trying to chase him off several times, they came face to face and really rammed their horns together several times. This lasted for a couple minutes when the challenger backed off but kept on trying for the harem.

Anyway these are just a few exciting events and sights we encountered during this trip. We enjoyed it.

Best regards,
H. Horner


ZIMBABWE – MAY 2006

Been meaning to call you. We had the time of our lives. You planned a fabulous trip for us and anyone who speaks of going to Africa will have your name in their hands before they can finish speaking. I have been working since I got back. My pictures are incredible. We have new friends there!! Big Smiles!!

In one word, indescribable. Thanks for setting this up. I can’t wait to go back and refer friends. We bonded with each other, the animals and the natives. I miss Africa.
Tiffany and Tandy


BOTSWANA, MAY 2006

Bert,
Carole and I wanted to thank you for planning a wonderful trip to Botswana for us. Everything was really great and the whole trip went very smoothly. The camps and the people, from staff to trackers, were all top notch, as were the accommodations and food. We also met a couple from New York, Braden and Christian, who you also booked on Safari. We all agreed that you did a great job. We hope to contact you again as we intend to go back to Africa in the near future. Again, thanks for your help...
Carole and Stan


BOTSWANA, MAY 2006

Jet boating at River Club, Zambia
Jet boating at River Club, Zambia
Credit: 'Wilderness Safaris'
 

Hi Bert,
I was just recommending your services to someone and realized I had never written to tell you what a wonderful trip we had. Everything was great! River Club, Duma Tau, Vumbura Plains and Mombo were wonderful. If I were to go again, I think I would stay somewhere other than Vumbura Plains. Our tent was incredible, but we just didn't get the same feeling as we did in the other camps. I can't remember how to spell the guest house in Cape Town [Welgelegen], only the pronunciation, which is entirely different. It took me 4 days to learn how to say it. I would highly recommend it to anyone. The owner and manager couldn't have been more helpful, and the location was great.

We have a picture of me in a microlight over Victoria Falls. What an experience as was the whole trip.

Thanks,
B. Southwick



SOUTH AFRICA & BOTSWANA, JUNE 2005

Dear Bert,
I am very late in writing you about our trip to Southern Africa last June, but just wanted to let you know that everything went as planned and it was such a wonderful experience.

Both the CCAfrica camps in South Africa and the Wilderness camps in Botswana were first rate and we would definitely stay at any of their camps again.

Our first stop was at Londolozi, and I cannot say enough good things about Londolozi.

The accommodations at Tree Camp are really lovely and intimate, the service is excellent, and our ranger and tracker were exceptional. We saw a great variety of animals here, including the “big five” on our first game drive, leopards each day, and exciting night game drives. There is a lot of consistent game to be seen on almost every drive: giraffes, elephants, nyalas, impalas, kudus, bushbuck, etc. as well as lion, rhino, and of course the leopards that Londolozi are famous for.

Our suite at Tree Camp was very nice and large with a beautiful sala, and very well maintained each day, but the suites are not what I term “over the top”. Our butler also took us on a short walk one afternoon to visit the Londolozi “village” to see the little kids at the day dare center where they do a very sweet performance, see traditional huts, etc. and pick up a few curios at the craft shop. Then it is a nice walk back through all four of the Londolozi camps to get back to Tree Camp, so this is a nice way to spend an hour or two one afternoon after brunch.

Our last night here was very special, as our ranger was kind enough to keep us out about an hour later than usual on a great sighting of two male leopards in a “stand-off”, one in a tree and one on the ground snarling and growling at one another. All the night commotion attracted several hyenas, and one passed directly in front of the leopard on the ground. It was a lot of fun being out there on a dark and starry night with all the predators in such close view. When we returned to camp, the staff had set up our sala with lanterns and a table for the two of us where we were served dinner – really thoughtful and romantic. Londolozi Tree Camp was my favorite camp, and I would definitely love to get back there sometime.

We then flew Fed Air back to Johannesburg and onto Madikwe Safari Lodge. This is CCAfrica’s newest camp, the suites are very nice (although not quite as private feeling as Londolozi Tree Camp), and the food here is very good. Each suite has a nice bedroom, combined sitting area with a small fireplace, a nice bath area, with indoor shower, a large tub and two separate sinks. The outside deck area is quite large, with sitting areas, a plunge pool and outdoor shower. The suites are not set as far apart as at Tree Camp, so it’s possible to hear voices from the next suite if you both have the windows open or you are out on the decks. There were no screens on the windows, so you can’t leave your windows open at night to hear the bush sounds. The game viewing was not quite as good for us here; the game drives were long, but greater lengths of time between sightings (sometimes of any kind). The area is different from Londolozi as the entire reserve is open to all the lodges and the guides from different lodges are in contact with each other.

A mixed herd at Little Vumbura, Okavango Delta
A mixed herd at Little Vumbura, Okavango Delta
Credit: Michael Poliza

This is helpful in finding the animals, but can make for quite a few vehicles lined up to see important sightings. Of course, this reserve is becoming well known for the wild dogs, and we were fortunate to see the dogs on our last day here. This is also the only camp where we saw Cheetahs (a coalition of 4 males). The temperatures here at Madikwe are cold in the mornings and at night after dark, so warm coats and gloves are really useful.

Our plan to stay at Madikwe, then land transfer to Gaborone, rather than having to overnight at JNB airport worked out fine (a slight mix-up, so make sure there is plenty of time allowed for the ground transfer, but turned out OK), so it was nice in that regard. We were able to have our full game drive at Madikwe, and made it up to our next camp, Little Vumbura in time for most of the afternoon game drive.

Staying at Little Vumbura is a lot of fun, as the landrovers routinely drive through several feet of water, and taking the small boats in the evening over to the island where the camp is located really makes one feel like you are out in the bush. We had a wonderful sighting of a male leopard the first evening before heading into camp. The next day we spent a lot of time with a lion pride watching the two males snarl and argue over the remains of a small buffalo. We drove thru a large herd of buffalo, saw herds of red lechwe, a variety of birds of course, and a martial eagle with a kill. We also took a ride in the mekoros one morning, then on a short walk around a small island. This was a nice and peaceful way to spend a morning, but in general, we prefer the game drives. The tents here were the most basic of our accommodations, but were spaced far apart, very intimate and really a nice “safari” type feeling (I believe that we were in the “honeymoon” tent). I think that Little Vumbura was probably my husband’s favorite camp. The food here was very good, the service not quite up to the same level as Londolozi Tree Camp, but certainly nothing to complain about. We only had two nights here and another night would have been wonderful!

Interior view of a tent at Kings Pool Camp, Linyanti
Interior view of a tent at Kings Pool Camp, Linyanti
Credit: 'Wilderness Safaris'

Our last stop was at Kings Pool in the Linyati area of Botswana. Kings Pool is a wonderful six paw camp located next to the river. The area in general is not as beautiful as the Okavango Delta, but the camp itself had the most beautiful setting of any of our camps, the main lodge and deck and each tent overlooking the river with hippos and elephants all nearby for easy viewing. The tents are very large and new have an Architectural Digest “look”. The bathrooms are huge with a wonderful indoor shower that is open to views over the river. The salas are very large with private plunge pools, large sitting area, large bed, and outdoor shower. There is really a substantial difference between the 5 paw and the 6 paw camps, and this may be of special importance to some people, but in some ways, this camp is not as intimate or peaceful as Little Vumbura. We were in tent #9 at the far end, so the elephants virtually cut right across the back of our sala and were near enough to almost reach out and touch. There was a lot of hippo action at this end of the camp which is fun during the day, but very noisy all through the night when the hippos are under the tent eating and bellowing all night. During the afternoons between game drives, it is very interesting to visit the hide at the watering hole, and see all the animals coming in to drink, especially the elephants which at this near distance are so amazingly large! The game viewing was not as good as Londolozi or Little Vumbura,but that may have just been luck of the draw. We did have a very good and long sighting of a beautiful lion that we were able to get a lot of good photos and now have a framed blowup. We also saw a lot of general game here: elephants, zebra, giraffes, buffalo, hippos, warthogs, impala, etc. but not as many predators. The food at Kings Pool is excellent, perhaps the best dinners we had.

The vehicles were in good shape at all the camps (those at Little Vumbura being the oldest and a little beat up) and at the most we had 6 guests in our vehicles and often only four guests (the vehicles are actually meant to seat 9 guests), so we were never crowded and always had an outside seat and plenty of room for camera bags, coats, etc. The service at brunch is slightly different at CCAfrica camps than the Wilderness camps, as at CCAfrica you are seated at a small table with just your partner or immediate group, while at the Wilderness camps, you are seated at larger tables with the rest of your vehicle group and usually your guide. At Londolozi, we were served lunch each day at 2:00 pm, again at small private tables on the outdoor deck. Tree Camp was not full, so the lunches were very relaxing and quiet with great food, a nice time for a glass of South African wine and I personally found this very enjoyable. At our other three camps, we did not have a formal lunch, but afternoon tea with all the other guests with plenty of snacks and sweets just before the game drive. As far as the food goes, nothing to worry about at any of these camps, you will come home about 5 pounds heavier!

Thank you Bert, for setting us up at such wonderful camps, it was a very memorable vacation and hopefully we will be able to make a return visit sometime.

L. Lauria


SOUTH AFRICA: FEBRUARY 2006

Dear Bert:
I just want to take this opportunity to thank you for all your work on Dr. Cook's and my behalf regarding our recent trip to Africa. It was the trip of a lifetime and we couldn't have had a better time. The country is just beautiful and the people were wonderful. All of our guides were delightful and our accommodations were five star. We saw the big five animals and Malamala was fabulous. Thank you again for making our trip of a lifetime truly a trip of a lifetime.
Sincerely,
Barbara and Bill Cook


BOTSWANA AND ZIMBABWE - JAN 2006

Dear Bert,
Bob and I just got back from our latest safari. We want to update you and thank you for the arrangement that you initiated for us. The hotels as always were great. Chobe Chilwero "knocked our socks off." Manager Patrick did a great job with us and we really enjoyed ourselves with other guests and Victor our guide. The camp setting was beautiful and every thing was included. The animal activity was also great, less however than October, but expected.

We felt like kings at Makalolo because we were the only guests for first couple days. Our friends from Linkwasha heard we were there so we had a great reunion one afternoon. The animals and birds were tracked down by a knowledgeable guide in Hupu. He did so much to make our stay rating of 10 as did the management staff. It rained every day but it did not dampen our activities.

Finally our stay at Musango Safari Camp was the final topping of another great trip to Africa. Owner Steve provided his excellent expertise with birding and safe walking safari searching for the black rhino. The foliage was, however, so thick that we missed the rhino. Birding was excellent and we ended up with a total of 145 species of Southern Africa birds for the trip. Forty-eight of these species were new to the over all recordings of other visits to the area. We would strongly recommend new clients be directed to this camp because of it's beautiful setting and variety of activities. Because of the poor press that Zimbabwe is getting, client traffic has just about stopped and forcing a lot of closures. Musango is also of the endangered list.

The South African Airline was most pleasant both ways. Even though it is a long trip, we get to the bush faster than our customary British Air flights through London.

Thanks again Bert for the excellent service and will not hesitate to recommend new business to you.

Best Regards,
Bob and Paul, MD


BOTSWANA AND NAMIBIA - DEC 2005

Hi Bert,
We're back after an immensely successful trip. Everything went like a dream and the highlight was definitely Mombo. You can't believe all that we saw - our sons are now totally ruined for any more safaris! The staff and accommodations at all the lodges and at Hilltop House were superb - but there again Mombo was King, excelling in absolutely everything.

There we no problems with any of your flights or reservations, in fact we're smitten with Fish Eagle and Wilderness Safaris - wonderful organization and attention to detail. Bravo! Thanks again for all your hard work.

All the best for 2006.
Wendy, CA


BOTSWANA AND NAMIBIA - SEPT 2005

Hi Bert!
Well, I tell ya. I had my apprehensions about going. In fact, I got to the airport late and I was starting to think about all the fly fishing I was going to do in Montana since I missed my flight, but the ticket agent got me on another flight and I was on my way.

I really enjoyed those Kwando Safari people. The Kwara Camp was run by this Hungarian couple that was really fun. I loved the animals. Unfortunately, my binoculars died right after my flashlight. My camera was hanging by a thread. Africa is tough on equipment. I even broke one of Anita's fishing rods at the Lagoon Camp, but she didn't mind. She was wonderful too. She has in interesting life history being born in Maun, but raised in boarding schools in South Africa, and England.

You were right about the tiger fish being easy to catch at Impalila Lodge during June, July, and August. Since it was September, they told me to give it my best shot with bait and after fighting 3 and losing them, I landed the beauty in the photo. Hemingway would have loved the lodge.

My last night in Africa, I laid in bed wondering if I would, like Hemingway, be thinking only about how to "get back to Africa". I concluded though, that it would never get as good as it had been on the trip, and to return would be to ruin my memories so I will never go back.

I also really loved the Songwe Village. I was the only one there and enjoyed hanging with the group. One girl sang so beautifully and was so cute I wanted to bring her home with me. I also visited their "early man" site and was amazed at the artifacts that had been collected. I even found a flake tool that had been made by a hominid perhaps hundreds of thousands of years ago. My only regret was having only 2 nights there since you really need at least three in any spot to take in all it has to offer. I really wanted to raft the Zambezi and ride some elephants but time didn't allow.

Thanks for all your planning. It all ran as smooth as a Swiss watch and those two companies really could not be any better. The experience completely altered my opinion of Africa and its people.

Yours,
John B., CA


MALAWI - OCT 2005

"As a destination in southern Africa, Malawi may not be the first choice for most travelers, but a week or so there is an excellent way to complement travel elsewhere in the region.

In October 2005, I added a week in Malawi to a two-week visit to Namibia. I made my Malawi arrangements with Bert Du Plessis of Fish Eagle Safaris in Houston (800-513-5222; exafrica@aol.com). Bert is a native South African who knows the region very well and who is a true travel professional. He also is the U.S. representative for Wilderness Safaris of South Africa and its affiliates in Botswana, Namibia, and elsewhere. The affiliate in Malawi is Central African Wilderness Safaris (CAWS), under the friendly and very capable management of Pam and Chris Badger. Bert had arranged for me to visit Botswana with Wilderness Safaris in 2004, so my expectations of CAWS were high and I was not disappointed. I recommend Fish Eagle Safaris and CAWS without reservation.

There are two-hour flights between Johannesburg and Lilonge. A CAWS representative met me as soon as I disembarked and soon had me in a car for the five-hour drive east from Lilongwe to the town of Liwonde and then to CAWS Mvuu Camp inside Liwonde National Park. The Shire River runs through the park, which is described as Malawi's premier game park. (Visitors pay a $5/day fee to park officials when entering the park.) Mvuu Camp is located on the banks of the river, and consists of perhaps a dozen comfortable chalets, with stone walls, wooden floors, and high canvas roofs. My chalet had two rooms, with two beds in each, and a fully-functioning bathroom. The camp also has a pool and a bar and dining room that overlook the river. The buffet meals were excellent; on some evenings, dinner is served in an outdoor barbeque area or around the pool. (On the evening I arrived, a warthog grazed contentedly within a few feet of my table near the pool.)

The routine at the camp is simple. For early risers, there's a nature walk offered at 5:30 in the morning. For those of us who were less ambitious, our morning started with breakfast at 7:00 a.m. and a safari from 8:00 until 10:00 in boats that are covered and stable. Then there was leisure time until lunch at 12:30 and again until the land safari departed at 4:00 p.m. After stopping for a sundowner along the river bank, we returned to camp in time to relax for a few minutes before dinner was served at 7:30.

It's the boat safaris that make Mvuu a special experience. There are large numbers of hippos and crocodiles to be seen-usually in the water, of course, but sometimes on the bank. If you're lucky, as I was, you encounter large numbers of elephants who come to the river to drink, as do impala, waterbuck, and some of their other relatives. I heard hippos grunting near the camp at night and in the early mornings; elephants also were seen directly across the river from the camp. I was there at the end of the dry season. I suppose the number of animals who come to the river for water depends on whether it's been raining and there are pools of water available elsewhere.

We were able to get quite close to the hippos, crocs, and elephants. The first two eventually would submerge as we got closer and closer in our boat. The elephants seemed even more accustomed to our presence.

The afternoon game drives are in open, three-tiered Land Rovers. The game at Liwonde isn't as plentiful as at Kruger or Etosha or in the Okavango Delta, but there were sable, buffalo, and kudu to see, as well as elephants, hippos, waterbuck, warthogs, and others. Within the park, there is a separate fenced area for species that are rare in the area, such as black rhinos. On the day we entered this special area, I didn't see the rhinos, but I'm told that sightings are not unusual.

Mvuu Camp also has facilities for campers who may purchase meals and join the safaris. Adjacent to the Camp is the Mvuu Lodge, which is more exclusive and more expensive. I can't comment further on the differences because those of us who stayed at the Camp were discouraged from wandering into the Lodge area, just as economy class passengers are discouraged from intruding into the domain of business class passengers.

After three nights and two full days at Mvuu Camp, which I think was just about the right amount of time to take advantage of what it has to offer, a CAWS car and driver was waiting across the river to take me about 90 minutes north past the town of Mangochi to Club Makokola, located on the southern shore of Lake Malawi. Club Mak, as it's known, is an immaculately-maintained beach resort, with a pool, lake-side bar, and roughly 40 thatched bungalows looking out on gardens full of baobab trees or a broad and wide sandy beach that's swept clean and smooth every morning. I stayed there for another three nights and two days, and used the time to relax and prepare for the long flights home from Lilongwe to Johannesburg to Frankfurt to Amsterdam to Washington, DC. For the more energetic, Club Mak offers a variety of water sports and local excursions. The food and service were excellent. For most of the time I was there, there were no more than five bungalows occupied, so the few of us in residence had the entire resort to ourselves.

Once again a CAWS car and driver was waiting to drive me back to Lilonge by a different road that connects the city with the Monkey Bay tourist area. On our way from the airport to Liwonde, we had stopped at the Dedza Pottery; now, en route back to Lilongwe, we stopped at the KuNgoni Centre of Culture & Art at Mua Parish, where excellent wood carvings are made and sold. The craftsmanship at both places was far superior to anything on sale at the tourist market in front of Lilongwe's post office.

For my one night in Lilongwe, I stayed at the Lilongwe Hotel in the old city, which is separated by several kilometers of parkland from the new city where the newer government buildings are located. The service and food at the Lilongwe Hotel were good, but the rooms are beginning to show their age. It was fine for a one-night stopover, but my impression is that Lilongwe doesn't offer attractions to detain visitors for more than one or two days.

Americans don't need a visa to enter Malawi. Malaria prophylaxis is advised, and the rooms at Camp Mvuu and Club Mak were equipped with mosquito nets. Malawi advertises itself as the warm heart of Africa. From my brief experience there, it's a well-deserved claim."

S. Bach, Washington D.C.


BOTSWANA - OCT 2005

Bert:
Awesome trip. Thanks for all your help. Leopard carrying an impala up a tree; four different dens of bat-eared fox cubs; hyenas tearing apart a baby elephant; a hyena den with little cubs; lions jumping on the backs of buffalo; A LIONESS KILLING A CUB OF HER PRIDE!!!!; FOUR sightings of honey badgers; four aardwolf; two porcupines; two civets; a dozen side-striped jackals; large and small spotted genets; chobe bushbuck; four species of owls; trunkless elephant babies (hyena and lion encounters); great new friends among managers and staff (Paul at Duba is the best I've met in 20 years of leading safari groups).

Again, my good friend, please come and visit us when you're up this way. Next tour will be Duba (when it's cooler and wetter, when we can spend more time with the pride, when the lions aren't stopped in their tracks by the 100 degree heat), Little Vumbura (my personal favorite sleeper camp), Savuti, maybe a brown hyena camp, and Vic Falls. I'm thinking of July' 07.

Just a couple additional thoughts: my groups seem to do best with passionate, young, high-energy guides that look to do more: we got that with Thuto at Savuti and Chief at Duba. I want to keep this in mind for the future, with some picnic lunches to maximize time in the field, as well as some extended night drives that were so successful this time. We did extra time at night on major night drives, sometimes till almost midnight, a great advantage over just driving back to camp and taking what we got along the way. Naturally the guides were compensated above the expected level.

I'll enjoy planning our next adventure in the Okavango.

Thanks again, my friend!
Mark B., MA


ZIMBABWE AND BOTSWANA - SEPT 2005

Hi Bert,
What a fabulous trip! Everything went without a hitch including all the transfers and flights. So many exciting things - here are just a few highlights by camp:

Little Makalolo was a great start to the trip. We got the honeymoon tent and a bottle of champagne - very nice. We didn't have the camp to ourselves but we enjoyed having meals with a group of six from California. We did have our own vehicle for the entire stay and that was very nice and something we hadn't experienced before. The highlight at this camp was probably having sundowners at the waterhole in front of Big Mak completely surrounded by herds of elephant. We also enjoyed an all day drive and visiting the hyena den and watching the baby hyenas.

The Mana Canoe trip was incredible. Our guide, Humphrey, was outstanding. The river was beautiful, the camp was comfortable and we had some very exciting moments - like tracking lions and finding them, canoeing within a few feet of 2 swimming elephants, and a mock charge by an elephant while on foot. Every day here brought new adventures.

Chikwenya is a beautiful camp. Two nights here was perfect to unwind a bit after the canoe trip. Best tent and food of all the camps. The management staff here was excellent.

Victoria Falls Hotel - you were absolutely right about this one Bert. We loved this hotel and our dinner in the Livingstone Room was one of the best we've had anywhere. The service was impeccable and they upgraded us to a suite when I ask. The Falls were at about 25% capacity but still impressive. One night here was just right for us.

Savuti. MAGICAL! We were so fortunate to get Richard Coke as our guide. Without a doubt he is the best guide we have ever had in Africa. He's not only enthusiastic and knowledgeable but also a photographer so he was able to maneuver us in the vehicle just perfectly to get the best shots. We spent many hours with Richard watching a leopard and her 6 month old cub with a kill in a tree. At one point the cub was almost attacked by a hyena but managed to escape up the tree just in time. Another time the cub managed to dislodge the impala and it dropped to the ground and Mom had haul it back up. At several sightings (and there were many excellent sightings of leopard, cheetah, hyenas, etc.) another vehicle or two might show up but they would only stay a short time. Richard, on the other hand, seemed to know that if we stayed a bit longer some interesting interaction would happen - and it always did. We got the tent with the loo with a view of the water hole - and oh what a view! The hide by the waterhole was also fun.

Little Vumbura is in a beautiful setting. We asked to go see the new camp - Vumbura Plains. The staff was very accommodating and Rowen drove us over there for a tour during the siesta. Talk about over the top. It is beautiful but in a very modern, stark way - not at all African and not to our taste. It was fun; however, to see a premier camp. While we enjoyed our stay here, I think 2 nights would have been sufficient. The highlight was the huge herd of buffalo and a leopard with a kill. Unfortunately, this camp felt a lot like Kenya - too many vehicles. It was impossible to spend more than a few minutes at any particular site because another vehicle was waiting to come in. I think the rule was no more than 3 vehicles at any one time, which is good. But it always felt like you were in line and it was contrived.

Chitabe Trails. We got the honeymoon tent here and it was very nice. We had some very good sightings of a lion pride, African wild cats, honey badgers, and hyenas.

We are in the process of sorting out the hundreds of pictures we took - it could take months! I'll send you 3 or 4 of the best ones. Thank-you again Bert for making all the arrangements for this trip and providing info and suggestions. We had a wonderful time.

Regards,
K. & R. Cross, AZ


BOTSWANA ‘MIGRATION ROUTES’ SAFARI, JUNE 2005

Hi Bert,
Our trip to Botswana was amazing! The safari was everything and more of what we expected, not only for what we saw but also for the people we met. All the people associated with Wilderness Safaris were great, and our guide, Pilot, made the trip for us. What a beautiful country, we loved every minute. We will go back as soon as possible. Thanks for everything!

Sincerely,
Karen Evans, MA


TANZANIA AND BOTSWANA – MAY 2005

Dear Bert,
Yes, we're back from another wonderful trip to Africa. We loved the Serengeti in the middle of the wildebeest migration and never tired of watching all the animals. The trip to the Ngorongoro crater was very interesting, and seeing the Olduvai Gorge I enjoyed. We also stopped at a small Masai village where the headman was most gracious in showing us his home, explaining his life and that of the rest of the villagers. Lots of flies, but lots of authenticity, too!

All of the lodging was very comfortable, and the people went out of their way to create comfort and ease. Our guides were exceptional – very knowledgeable and capable. We saw a female cheetah and her two cubs in Tanzania, all of whom were pretty casual in their attitude towards us. We saw several lion, both male and female, including a wildebeest kill that was being devoured. Numerous giraffe and elephant also. We were lucky enough to see a rhino and baby in the Crater, and I was thrilled to see leopard in Botswana. Again, many elephant of all ages and sizes, abundant Cape buffalo, two aardwolves (!),and again, lion and cheetah.

At DumaTau, there were two "resident" elephants who wandered around camp munching on leaves and seed pods, sometimes bringing traffic on the walkways to a complete halt until it moved on. Quite the experience! We were also awed by the yearly rise of the water level around Little Vumbura as the flood slowly crept up on them - what an amazing event. The Boettchers were as pleased as we were, and all of us were talking about "the next time". Many thanks for your seamless arrangements - it is so comforting to know that at each step of the journey, we would be met by a perfectly competent person who smoothed the way to the next site. We will be back.

Sincerely,
Lorah and David MacIntosh, MI


SOUTH AFRICA AND BOTSWANA – MAY 2005

Hello Bert!!
We are home safe, thank you. We had a wonderful experience at all of our stops. The trip could not have gone better. Thank you and we would not hesitate to refer you to anyone. We had the best time - the flow of the trip was perfect and we loved all of the places- our least favorite was probably Le Quartier Francais because it was raining and the restaurant was closed, but we still had a lot of fun in the town and driving up there. We will e-mail pics soon - saw all sorts of animals and the service all around was excellent- far exceeding our expectations - we were given the royal honeymoon (treatment) in all the places.

Thank you so much for planning an unforgettable trip !

Best,
Julia & Gordon, FL


BOTSWANA – MAY 2005

Hi Bert:
We are back from our trip and I wanted to tell you how wonderful it was. We enjoyed all three of the camps and you recommended. We saw amazing wildlife and incredible landscapes. The accommodations were superb and the food was excellent. Moses was our guide at King’s pool. He was very eager and knowledgeable. He tracked the wild dogs and eventually positioned us right next to the pack along the river. The drives along the Linyanti River were beautiful with the grasses, the water, the hippos, elephants, impala, and birds.

Jack’s Camp was a surreal experience. While out on the pans one evening, we saw the sun set and the moon rise within a half hour. 360 degrees of the horizon were red and pink. The vastness of the salt pans is humbling. Lee was our guide at Little Mombo. In the openness of the delta area we were able to observe the interaction of many groups of animals. The delta was just flooding and we followed lions crossing the water to follow a herd of water buffalo. We watched a pride of 30 lions coping with 14 energetic cubs, some as young as two months. The staff at all of the camps was very pleasant and anticipated you every wish.

Thank your for all your advice and assistance preparing this wonderful experience for us.

Sandi Southwick, MA


BOTSWANA – MAY 2005

Dear Bert --
The trip was amazing and we thank you for putting it all together so well. We loved Welgelegen House -- so attractive and incredible breakfasts! Capetown was fabulous -- loads to do and see, and we tried to do it all! Tubu was our favorite camp as we saw the most and there were more activities than Savuti. The managers there were terrific. The water hole at Savuti was not very active but the river bed supplied a variety of wildlife. The facilities were not as good as Tubu, but it had its own unique personality. The Victoria Falls Hotel was a complete throw back to another generation of British Colonial occupation and the grand, beautiful public rooms of the era. Splendid service, and we hope they survive the problems of Zimbabwe.

We all thank you for a wonderful safari adventure filled with variety and splendid beauty. Africa definitely gets in one's blood.

We had a fabulous time. A life changing experience, just as everyone said it would be. Your choices were great.

All the best.
Gale Patron, PR


CAPE TOWN, BOTSWANA & ZIMBABWE – APRIL 2005

Dear Bert,
I'm sorry that I have not written to let you know how very much we enjoyed our trip.

It was all that I had hoped for and more. Everything went smoothly with transfers and flights and we were very impressed with all the Wildlife Safari people. They were efficient and pleasant and there were no hitches.

All three camps were comfortable and we were well looked after. Little Vumbura had fewer animals to see - maybe it was the time of year? The flooding was only just beginning a trickling so I imagine there would be more animals after we left. Makalolo Plains had large herds of elephants and water buffalo, and more animals than the previous camp. Chikwenya was so scenic and beautiful with the river and the mountains - I was in heaven!

We had a wonderful time at Welgelegen - it is a lovely, lovely place and the women there were so helpful in arranging tours for us and making suggestions that we enjoyed every minute of our stay. The breakfasts there were exceptionally good - and the food in all the camps was delicious and plentiful.

Thank you for arranging such a great and memorable trip! When I tell people about it I've had a few say they think they'd like to go - based on my experience.

L Krashes


CAPE TOWN, BOTSWANA & ZIMBABWE – APRIL 2005

Bert,
The trip was wonderful. Wilderness Safaris made us feel like royalty. The places and the people were great. Accommodations and food could not have been better. Very glad that we took your advice about Welgelegen. The harbor life in Cape Town was busy and noisy. The animal life was a bit sparse compared to what I saw in Kenya and Tanzania at migration time. The only thing that I would definitely not recommend is the boat ride at Victoria Falls. Zimbabwe is really hurting. I feel very scared for the wonderful people that we met . I hope that they continue to be well and have work. I would love to go on another safari in the future. I have raved about this one to everybody.

R Bretschneider


ETHIOPIA, RWANDA, TANZANIA & ZANZIBAR – SEPT 2004

Dear Bert,
It is with the greatest pleasure that Linda Walker and I are singing your praises and also praises are extended to Steve Turner of Origins for creating such a perfect trip for us to Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zanzibar. Every little detail went according to plan. It is truly amazing how you work out all the fine pieces to the puzzle. We returned home on Wednesday, October 13 just as the schedule had indicated.

I would like to mention some of the guides so that you may credit them with exceptional knowledge, insight, kindness, courtesy, flexibility and humor. They are truly pre-eminent in their field. How in the world do you make perfect matches between guide and client?

To begin: our guide in Ethiopia, Solomon Tekle W. Tsadik, was outstanding. He possessed vast knowledge of his country, and he was so refined and courteous. Our 10 visit to his country was incredible, with every detail going according to plan, and he was with us through-out our stay there, which makes such a difference. When we parted, we were like old friends, infact, I have already received some photos from him about the lip plate women in the South of Ethiopia. He even gave us a book that we had expressed interest in on the last day. What a lovely and considerate gentleman.

Next, our guide in Rwanda, Budaramani Frederic, or Fred as we called him, was wonderful. We met his family on our way to the Congo. He was most engaging and accommodating. He did not accompany us on the trek to see the gorillas as this was left to the expert guides and trackers who always handle this part. By the way, Linda and I were thrilled with the trekking experience, and we did see the gorillas ( 8 in the Amaharo group on Mt Bisoke). This was no easy trek as we climbed up to 5,000 Ft. of an 8,000 ft Mt. We trekked through mud, rocks, rain, mist, and stinging nettles with guides hacking trails through thick bamboo. We went STRAIGHT up the Mt., and finally we saw the gorillas. They were very friendly and we got along very well during our one hour visit with them. There were 5 other tourist in our group and all of them were MUCH younger. When we all returned safely, (6 hours later), all of them said how fit and able Linda and I were. Everyone received a certificate, which I will treasure forever. For me, it was like climbing Kilimanjaro. Linda and I loved everything about Rwanda. Fred introduced us to his bosses at Primate Safaris when we were in Kigali and they were most cordial. All accommodations were perfect.

Then in Tanzania, everything was flawless there also. Our guide, Raymond Ole Kosyando, was the perfect match for Linda and me. We were so happy that he accompanied us every step of the way, five days. We appreciated his vast knowledge about all the animals and the flora. What a difference it makes to have a guide who is well informed and articulate. Please see that Raymond receives special praise for his many talents. We saw the elusive black rhino as well as two leopards and 4 cheetahs. The lions were wonderful as well as the plentiful elephants, giraffes, buffalo, wildebeests, zebras, etc. We loved the Serena lodges, and the food was heavenly.

Next, Zanzibar was exotic and wonderful. Our room had a balcony looking right out on the Indian Ocean with the colorful dhows and other boats. We ate lobster every day and had a splendid time going to Stone Town, a spice tour, and one to the Jozani Forest to see the Red Colobus monkeys. Our guide, Charles, who was with ZanTours was with us for our visit there. Again, he was a perfect match for us with a great sense of humor and a store of knowledge.

Many thanks again, Bert, for helping Linda and me achieve so many happy memories of Africa. We do love that continent so much, but YOU are the person who made it all work. Please express our gratitude to Steve at Origins also.

Grace Harison


NAMIBIA SELF-DRIVE – SEPT 2004

Bert,
We are back from Southern Africa. What a great trip! The vehicle worked out...although it was delivered late and there was no seal on the back cab so all our suitcases got verrry dusty on those Namibian roads. I told Albert, my husband, that I would let you know. Budget needs to add a simple seal. We saw other travelers with the same dilemma.

The accommodations were mostly great. We upgraded at Namutoni to a self catering unit with two bedrooms and it was right near the watering hole. That was much better than the dungeon-like bedroom at the German Fort. We were fortunate to change the second night as someone didn't show up. I really didn't like Sam's Giardino B&B but Jean thought it was fine. Our room there was cramped and very little fresh air (I'm somewhat of a claustrophobic.) It was noisy too. That was the worst of the accommodations. The best was of course...Okonjima. But I realize too we paid dearly for that fabulous experience. We were so grateful for the help we received from the owners of Hilltop House. Nice nice people!!! I had a reaction to the mefloguine and needed a doctor and HH was very helpful.

We spent my birthday night at Cape Cross Lodge and it was very very lovely. We also loved Little Kulala Tented Camp and the staff there was outrageously wonderful. Our guide...the accommodations...all were splendid. I almost cried when we left.

Thank you for arranging all the itinerary for this memorable trip. Again....mahalo and aloha.

Lorna Jeyte


KRUGER PARK AREA – SEPT 2004

Hi Bert,
I just wanted to let you know what a wonderful time I had at Thornybush last weekend. Serondella (both the lodge itself and the folks who work there) was terrific! The game drives were outstanding and I saw everything there was to see -- including leopards! Lots of lions, elephants, buffalo, rhinos, hippos, zebras, giraffes, impala, kudu, nyala, tons of birds, warthogs, and on and on. It was really worth the eight-year wait to finally see everything! Our ranger was terrific and gave lots of really interesting information about all the animals we saw. Then the second day I was there a group of French folks showed up who didn't speak much English -- I happen to speak fluent French so I was able to translate for them on the drives. It was really fun!

Anyway, just wanted to give you the trip report and to say thanks for making all the arrangements. It turned out perfectly!

Cheers.
Pam


SOUTH AFRICA, BOTSWANA, ZAMBIA – SEPT 2004

Hi Bert,
Natalia and I returned from our 11 Sept/04 - 3 Oct/04 Southern Africa trip and despite jet lag I wanted to give you some impressions -- The trip was an excellent one. Your knowledge of the area is superb and we sincerely appreciate your involvement. Neither of us had ever taken a beginning-to-end travel-agent-arranged adventure of this sort, and we are mostly delighted by the results.

Here are some (+) and (-) place-specific comments. The x/10 rating is the emotional gut reaction we have when thinking back on the place.

Owl's Loft - 8/10
(+) They've done an excellent job of making this place more comfortable than most B&Bs and the food is excellent. Alison and her husband are gracious diamond merchants, sophisticated, and well-organized, with an excellent library, articulate friends (whom they invited to dinner), and an exotic horse, and went out of their way to make us comfortable the two separate nights we were there.
(-) The problem here is beyond anyone's control - the place is a bit far from the airport on crowded highways, and the area, as you know, has a busy edge-of-urban feel. This is not a travel destination itself, but is a comfortable place for a necessary layover.

Royal Livingston Hotel - 10/10
(+) This place is great and deserves its 5 stars. It's only a few years old, but the illusion of an old luxury Victorian retreat on the falls is amazing. Best food on the trip. Maybe my favorite hotel anywhere.

Dumatau - 10/10
Duba Plains - 10/10

(+) These camps in Botswana are certainly some of the most memorable places on Earth. Wilderness Safaris has invented what amounts to a travel art form here - as you know, these camps are truly comfortable - great care has been taken to provide the comforts of home and the staff is great, but the camps are also utterly immersed in the wild - at Dumatau elephants block the path to the common area and at Duba Plains you have to watch out for leopards on the paths at night. At Dumatau a leopard killed a baboon during the night, dragged it across the dining and commons area leaving long streaks of blood and deposited the uneaten lower half of the baboon in a tree next to the commons room. At Duba, an agitated male elephant from a family of 20 charged the vehicle and then chased it and wouldn't stop; if the vehicle had not started, we would have been squashed. Whatever the staff might say, these places are definitely not completely safe from an animal point of view, but they are safe enough, and the combination of the comforts with the authenticity and immersion is simply fantastic. The top dollar prices for these places are justified - it is amazing to me that any manager would have all the necessary skills to put places like this together in the first place. Despite the cost, we might return at some point, and appreciate your encouragement when we were initially considering the itinerary.
(-) The animals live on real time in a vast area and seeing them involves luck - sometimes 3 hour game drives yield little in the way of game viewing. Guests should go on as many drives as possible to increase the chances of encounters.

Rocktail Bay - 10/10
(+) Remote and beautiful forest and beach. The Wilderness Safaris version of the seaside with their signature comforts immersed in a pristine place. Excellent staff and food.
(-) The locals illegally and anonymously set fire to the nearby forests to clear areas for grazing cattle, and areas were burning apparently out of control while we were there. Everyone had a different take on this, but it is clear that Rocktail could be accidentally burned up. Despite the reputation otherwise, the snorkeling areas have a lot of dead coral. This is true everyplace in the world.

Hluhluwe River Lodge - 5/10
As you recall, Bert, this place was substituted for the Wilderness Safaris' Ndumo camp. I don't know if you have been there, but Hluhluwe River Lodge is clearly based on a different premise than Wilderness properties are - it is in the nature of a gated country lodge with comfortable chalets and great food, but there is no attempt to immerse anyone in anything.
…Wilderness is a victim of its own excellence here - when one of their camps closes, it is difficult to substitute anything similarly unique and valuable from a travel perspective.

Quarters hotel - 8/10
(+) A charming, intimate city hotel which does what it is intended to do. The staff was pleasant. We didn’t have much time here.

Orchid Valley lodge - 9/10
(+) Truly remote deep in the mountains. Run by the owners’ gracious 20-something artist daughter, who lives there alone, while the owners are starting a zebra (?) farm in the north of the country. A designed 3 BR home set facing a fairy tale magnificent mountainside and river, very comfortable and very relaxing, with the place to ourselves. Felt completely non-commercial, like visiting a friend from college. Natalia had a great horse-riding experience here.

Sani Pass - 9/10 (+)
Ultra-dramatic border mountain. Blanket-clad shepherds on vast plateaus are shockingly beautiful.

Welgelegen Guest House 10/10
(+) Cape Town became one of Natalia’s favorite cities. This guest house is great, run with taste and charm. Doors propped open during the warm sunny day, excellent music, library, and art. (-) The 5-key arrangement is a bit weird but eventually is part of the charm.

Transfers - the numerous transfers involving vans, cars and flights went smoothly, without exception. These travel companies really have their acts together. The driver Trevor who took us into Durban twice was an especially interesting person.

Again, thanks for your wisdom and energies. Except for the HRL problem, which was not in your control, we are completely happy with the trip and are thinking about returning to Southern Africa. My best to everyone in your operation.

Macey R.


CAPE TOWN, NAMIBIA, BOTSWANA – AUGUST 2004

Dear Bert,
Just wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed our recent trip to Cape Town, Namibia, Botswana, and Johannesburg.

The Welgelegen Guest House was very nice and the breakfast was very good. The location was very convenient to walk to a restaurant on Kloof Street. Our half day City Tour was very nice and there was only one other tourist with us. We were able to go up to the top of Table Mountain in the cable car and walk around and enjoy the great views. At the end of the tour we were left off at the V & A Waterfront and we enjoyed walking around there and had a nice dinner. We got a taxi and the driver said that his meter was broken, so we negotiated a price in advance before entering the taxi. Since you had told us approximately what the fare should be, we were able to know if the driver's offer was reasonable.

The full day Peninsula Tour was very nice and there were 3 other tourists who joined us. We especially enjoyed seeing Kirstenbosch Gardens and were able to spend 1 1/2 hours there, since we didn't go on any boat ride to see seals. Also enjoyed all the lovely scenery including the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point and Boulders Beach. We were unable to take the Chapman’s Peak Drive because it was closed due to previous rains.

Our pilot in Namibia was fabulous. She was very professional and also went on all our activities with us. She knew her animals and birds, and so it was like having an additional guide with us whose English we could understand perfectly. She even suggested two full-day outings for us to take, so that we could view some Bushman rock art at Twyfelfontein which was near Damaraland Camp and also see more of Etosha National Park. There was only one other tourist in the plane with us and sometimes he didn't want to go on the full day outings with us, so he joined the group of 4 who had flown in another plane and were also on the Best of Namibia Wing Safari.

The accommodations and setting at Sossusvlei Wilderness Camp were great. Our guide there was nice, but we weren't impressed with the managers of the camp. Viewing the red sand dunes at sunrise was awesome and it was fun to climb Dune #45, although it was very windy. We also visited the interesting Sesriem Canyon which was nice for a walk, since it was so windy walking near the dunes.

Our flight to Swakopmund was breathtaking as we viewed the beautiful dunes from the air and also the ocean coming up to meet them. The boat ride on Walvis Bay was lots of fun. The huge pink pelicans were wonderful and the seals swimming along side and jumping into the boat was marvelous.

The camp manager and the employees at Damaraland were lots of fun and very nice. Our guide there was very good and we were fortunate to see many desert adapted elephants.

Ongava Tented Camp was in a great location with the water hole in view of the dining area. During lunch the first day, we saw several male kudu drinking and at tea time, several waterbucks were drinking. At night we could hear the lions roaring which was exciting and we saw some lions while driving from the airstrip to the camp. Our guide at Ongava was very nice and the managers were okay. The game we saw at the water holes in Etosha were incredible in numbers and variety. On the Ongava Reserve, we saw several white rhinos two different times, which we had never seen in the wild before.

Our stay at Villa Verdi in Windhoek was very pleasant and the food there was very good. However, we were disappointed that we couldn't go shopping because all the stores close up at either 1 or 2 o'clock in the afternoon on Saturdays. Also we learned that the other plane which flew with us on the Best of Namibia Wing Safari, left Ongava early and was able to get to Windhoek in time for the tourists to make their flight to Maun that afternoon.

Little Vumbura was delightful and the managers were very nice. Our guide was nice also and we were fortunate to see a leopard, which we had never seen in the wild before. We also saw a pride of lions stalking Cape Buffalo, but never witnessed a kill. But it was very interesting to watch all the animal interaction. Elephants visited the tents in camp and that was thrilling to see them eating the flowers off our tent roof. The birds were wonderful there, but we saw most of them while driving around rather than when we were on the boat.

While at Chitabe Trails were enjoyed two afternoons when several elephants surrounded our tent. Our guide there was nice, but quiet, but he showed us some great sights: a leopard and her cub, two lion cubs, a male lion resting on a tree limb, a male and female lion mating and 5 wild dogs. The food there was very good and the managers were nice. When I inquired about where the hide was, they said that it was only for sleeping out over night. That was disappointing, because we had wanted at least one camp where we could sit in a hide for a while. Unfortunately we left there a little frazzled because Wilderness Safaris-Sefofane scheduled our departure from the camp too late for us to catch our Maun to Johannesburg flight. However, after several phone calls and fast drives to the airstrip, we managed to make our flight 20 minutes before it departed.

The Holiday Inn at the Johannesburg Airport was very nice. The next day we took a tour to Sterkfontein Caves. We liked the little museum there better than the actual cave, but we were glad that we took the opportunity to see it and learn about what had been found there. Lesedi Tribal Village was nicely built and decorated and I had an opportunity to do some shopping there. The entertainment was fun, but the food wasn't very good. At the beginning of the presentation we were the only tourists there and then after about 15 minutes one other tourist joined us.

The following day we took our scheduled tour to Pretoria. We were impressed with the Voortrekker Monument and enjoyed driving around the city to the Union Building and the surrounding gardens. Since it was Monday, all the museums were closed, so our tour of Pretoria was over by 11 AM. The guide knew that I expected to be guided until about 1 or 2 o'clock in the afternoon, so he decided to drive us through downtown Johannesburg. Well, that was interesting and also a little scary, especially with his commentary about all the crime in the city.

Thanks again for setting up our trip. We really had a wonderful time and are very happy we went.

Sincerely,
Gloria Krier


CAPE TOWN, MASHATU (BOTSWANA) AND VICTORIA FALLS – SEPT 2004

Hi Bert ,
Wow!!!!!! We loved our trip and everything went as scheduled.....Saw some amazing animals and to our surprise the South Africans really know how to cook. Wonderful meals and Mashatu was the highlight of the trip...Great people, super guides and trackers and outstanding accommodations.... A true African Experience.....Welgelegen Guest House is just wonderful !!!!!!!..... We are still talking about the homemade breads and the super service..... The only improvement I can suggest is the Jo'burg Airport Holiday Inn was not clean with toilet that didn't flush and no hot water at times..... But we were only there a night and then off to Vic Falls...

Thanks again and rest assured all my friends will get your business card.

Cheers,
Carl Schimmel, VA


BUSHCAMPS (ZAMBIA) – AUGUST 2004

Hi Bert,
We returned on Monday and had a great time, both in Zambia and Cape Town. Our only problem was that our checked bag did not arrive in Lusaka. It arrived during the week and we picked it up on our way back the next week. Some things had been stolen out of it. I filed a report with South African Airways and don't know if we'll receive any compensation.

We thoroughly enjoyed the Bush Camps. I'm especially glad we were able to spend time at Kuyenda. Phil Berry has worked in the valley for many, many years and has a wealth of knowledge about animals, plants, birds, environment, history, etc, etc. It was the most primitive of the camps, but we were well taken care of and very well fed. I thought it had the best food of the three we visited. All transfers went smoothly and all details were well taken care of. The visa waiver in Zambia was completely hassle free for us.

We enjoyed staying at different camps because the different guides had different interests and specialties.

I don't know that we would return to the South Luangwa Valley any time soon, only because there are many more places we want to explore. But, I would highly recommend the trip and would be happy to serve as a reference in the future.

Thanks,
Debbie Enna


SOUTH AFRICA FLY-IN SAFARI, JULY 2004

Dear Bert,
We apologize for the tardiness for this response. Between being hit by one hurricane (lost a tree and some bushes and a couple of days without power or phone) and watching another going by, we have been a little distracted.

None of this has taken away from the wonder and perfection of our trip. The service was extraordinary. From our room being ready for us at 8 AM at The Grace to the baggage handling to the timeliness of all the transfers to the warmth of our hosts and hostesses at the camps, everyone made us feel most welcome wherever we were. We are particularly appreciative of our guides and trackers for their expertise and knowledge and their ability to share them with us.

The highlights for us were our stays at Tanda Tula, Ndumo and Cape Town. These provided excellent traveling companions, great photo ops and lasting memories of a wonderful time in a great country with welcoming and friendly people.

There was nothing wrong with Rocktail Bay. We had the same great caring service that was common throughout, but the water was too cold for me to snorkel without a wet suit (available, but not forewarned) and Black Rock just was not that exciting without whales, turtles or dolphins. Sheila had an enlightening visit to a nearby community which gave us an insight into rural life.

Cape Town was a blast. The Victoria & Alfred was perfectly situated to provide wonderful views of Table Mountain, easy access to fine dining, including their own, and shopping. By the way, dining, wherever we were, was always very good in presentation, preparation and taste. We had wonderful weather for the tours around the Cape, and we enjoyed the wonderful scenery and the visit to the vineyards. We even got to the top of Table Mountain on a perfectly clear day. Who could ask more from their tour group?

There was an added joy at being in South Africa. I can’t think of a country more deserving of our little support. The feeling of optimism throughout the country, notwithstanding the problems still to be overcome, was exciting and encouraging.

We have provided our friends, Eleanor & Kurt Muenz with your addresses and our enthusiastic recommendations. We are willing to provide the same references to any and all requests.

Thank you again for such fine service,
Sheila & Howard Phillips


BOTSWANA, ZAMBIA & ZIMBABWE - AUGUST 2004

Bert,
We can't say enough good things about Matusadona Water Wilderness. The guides and accommodations there were excellent. We saw elephant, rhino, hippo, eagles, warthog, impala, kudu and numerous other birds. It was really a unique setting.

The River Club was very nice and the accommodations were also excellent. The food was good as was the service. It tended to have a much older crowd.

Pom Pom was a great finish. There, we saw zebra, giraffe, and lions to complete our game viewing. Again, the guides were excellent as were the hosts. The tents were nicely furnished and more comfortable than we'd anticipated. The delta was impressive with water everywhere.

Overall, it was a great trip.

Richard Makowiec, MD


BOTSWANA & ZIMBABWE - AUGUST 2004

Bert,
We haven't been able to stop talking about the trip since we got back. It was everything we hoped for & more. I can't thank you enough for your help in setting it up. We have some incredible pictures and videos to always remind us of the trip. Food was outstanding. People were uniformly polite and informative and seemed genuinely interested in helping us get the most out of our African experience.

Here are some comments on the camps and travel....

* With the early morning arrival in Johannesburg of the flight from Atlanta, I think it would have been better to continue the travel on to the first camp. As it was, we didn't have much to do for a day in J'Burg & spent almost the entire next day getting up to Matusadona, not arriving at the camp until early evening. The anticipation was killing us.

* Matusadona was great. We enjoyed the opportunity for game walks. The guides, Orbett & Solomon, were informative and kept the pace appropriate for the kids. They got us close to animals. We tracked black rhino tracks over two days & ended up finding two! Loved the ability to canoe between the lodges. Was my favorite camp.

* Duma Tau was the hands-down favorite of my wife and kids. Saw tons of wildlife. Our guide, Peace, was outstanding, especially at spotting animals at night. Saw just about everything the kids wanted to except cheetahs & wild dogs.

* Xigera was a bit of a letdown from a game watching point. The camp facilities were excellent. High water levels apparently impacted our ability to see a wide variety. Mokoros were great for one trip but couldn't hold the kids interest. Game drive was over the same track both days. Did have some positive experiences though. Solly took us off the reserve for a long afternoon of fishing. The kids loved it. Also, the dinner under the stars in the boma was outstanding.

* River Club was a great way to end the trip. No luck fishing but the helicopter over the falls was amazing.

The kids want to go back for Christmas!

Thank you again for all of your assistance.

Randy R, TX


ZAMBIA, ZIMBABWE & BOTSWANA - AUGUST 2004

Bert!
If I weren't so swamped at work, I would have sent an email sooner.

We had a phenomenal trip. Thank you so much for putting it together for us. We enjoyed every camp for its' uniqueness, people and wildlife.

We went rafting in Zambia, rode mokoros in Xigera, the safari drives in Dumatau were extraordinary! We saw lioness feeding on waterbuck, saw a cheetah with her cubs, and even saw a leopard, and mamba snake! I was awed by the beauty of the people and our surroundings. The variety of the birds alone was incredible! Obed kept us quite entertained at Matusadona. We went on foot and saw a huge Rhino. The accommodations were really something. There was a couple from Harare staying at the camp. They educated us on the history and political struggles within Zimbabwe. The Mana Canoe Trails were really something. It was just Rob and I, and our pilot, along with our guide. We had a fantastic time seeing the sunrise in the morning and set in the evenings from our canoe. Seeing the animals up close and personal from an 18-foot canoe is quite an adventure! I caught a bad case of heat rash the last night, and our guide, Humphrey, arranged for us to check into Chikwenya camp, for two nights. It was an amazing place. We fished, and shared our catches with the folks at camp.

Victoria Falls Hotel was incredible. We saw the Falls from Zim, sponsored a local soccer team, gave Rob's shoes to children there, and went to the house of one of the porter's of the hotel and met his wife and children. I have lived in third world countries, but have to say, I have never been as overwhelmed as in Africa. It was heart wrenching to see the poverty. It has changed me.

So, quite a spectrum of experiences, emotions, and memories that will last a life time. Rob and I agreed, we will go back! And will tell anyone who will listen to take the trip.

Thank you for putting together this wonderful trip, and for making such a significant impact on our lives!

All our best,
Sherry and Rob, VA


BOTSWANA AND THE CAPE - AUGUST 2004

Hello Bert,
Everyone (children and adults) agrees that this was the best travel experience we've ever had! Clearly, your guidance and facilitation were invaluable. And, from what we were told, we had extraordinary luck. The weather in Botswana turned lovely the day before we arrived and stayed sunny and comfortable. We saw at least three preexisting kill sites (lions on giraffe, hyenas on elephant, leopard with impala in tree), and actually witnessed two kills - three cheetah brothers took a wildebeest, and a pack of wild dogs took an impala (both of these at Duma Tau). We tracked the hunts from start to finish for both kills.

We also completely enjoyed Victoria Falls, and fell in love with Cape Town and the surrounding area. The Cape Grace was a wonderfully indulgent way to end our trip -- truly graceful. We even talked about owning property in or around Cape Town some day.

So many points in the trip were absolutely enthralling! More details later, but for now, let me just say that I can't thank you enough!

Best regards,
Carol A. GA


BOTSWANA AND CAPE TOWN - AUGUST 2004

Andy and I returned on August 22 after 11 days in Botswana, and 6 in Cape Town. We had the most amazing Safari experiences. Just when I thought it can't get any better than this, we'd have another awesome safari adventure. The guides in both Tubu Tree (Moa) and Vumbura (KG and his "uncle" Wilson) were so knowledgeable, and so tuned in to the environment and the ecological interplay of the flora and fauna that it felt like they were guides for the land and not a corporation. We watched them track animal movements by looking at the tracks in the sand, the scent in the air, the age and content of animal droppings, of the sounds of the baboons (if they were in the trees), and the francolins on the ground.

We had wanted to see animals/wildlife being active, not just to see them, and our wish list was totally granted. On our first day out at Tubu, we were suddenly surrounded by the largest flock (though it felt more like a swarm) of queleas. Thousands of them flying around us in huge, endless, undulating waves. Their tiny wings like shimmering silver in the twilight. Their whooshing sounds, as they swooped into trees and then suddenly out of them, and made the air vibrate. Even Moa, our guide had never seen so many at one time.

At Tubu we were "privileged" to be part of a pride of 7 female lions out on an evening hunt and traveled with them with our lights on for at least 45 minutes hour- until they had a confrontation with a male lion with two females- about whose turf this was. Our pride of lionesses, "prevailed" on them to leave, and then spent the next 20 minutes growling and marking the surrounding territory as their own! We left and went home for our dinner. One evening following 4 immature female lions, we watched them try to figure out (unsuccessfully) how to kill a huge african porcupine, who lived to tell the story to his porcupine friends.

The next evening, on our way back to dinner, we came upon a lone male lion sitting on the ground in the dark, and roaring. We sat, about 25 feet from him and waited to hear him again. Which we did. It was the most awe inspiring experience we ever had...:Like a choir in a huge cathedral, the air actually vibrated with the sound of his roar. We sat there, holding our breath as his roars totally filled the night air. Later, he wandered into our camp, still roaring and growling, ( turns out he was looking for his brother- and letting him know where he was). Having a roaring lion just below where we were eating ( and drinking) led to much excited joking and chatter among us- playing out various fantasies of being held hostage in the camp dining area. He wandered off eventually, of course, and we were led back to our tents with two guides instead of the usual one; one in front, and one in back of us. It was wonderful fun. When we arrived at Little Mombo I explained that I hoped to see the white Rhinos.. They explained they had not been sighted in months, and hoped I would not be too disappointed. Second day there, my husband Andy, (not even the guide) spotted three of them. And we have wonderful close up photos of these gentle giants. We were so lucky, I guess that means we saw the Big Five.

The accommodations at Little Mombo were wonderfully comfortable and luxurious, while the atmosphere at the camp was totally casual and unpretentious. The relatively new managers, Justin and Angela, were so gracious and thoughtful, they made everyone feel comfortable and included. They are also both interesting and enjoyable company. Andy and I were the totally unexpected recipients of one of their candle- lit, romantic dinners, served to us privately on the deck of our "tent". Candles and lanterns, flowers, our favorite wines, cheese board and a 4 course meal- all timed to our pace and leisure. We even had the background music of a school of about 8 hippos munching their way across the plain in front of our tent. And for more traditional music, Jane, the manager/intern came and sang some traditional African songs, for and with us... as someone told them we knew the words to Kumbaya. It was a wonderful last night in Botswana.

Cape Town and the Peninsula were spectacular. We had no idea the setting and terrain would be so over the top powerful, and beautiful. We had arranged for a private tour guide for two days- and were so lucky that the stormy, rainy weather of the prior two weeks had all but disappeared by the time we arrived. Nights were cold though, and in addition to comforters, it was great to have a heater in the room of our B&B. We stayed about a block from the beach in Sea Point- and loved being so close to that magnificent crashing surf. The Cape Town Aquarium was really worth seeing, and even the V&A waterfront was interesting and tastefully done. I am not a shopper, and thought I would hate being there, but didn't. Because we are also interested in the political and social history ( and future) of South Africa, aside from visiting Robben Island, we were able to spend some time in one of the townships, and toured district 6 and areas where the coloreds were relocated, with the head of the Oral History Dept at University of Cape Town. We did everything!!

We have (at their request!) been showing our photos, and telling our adventures to all our friends, and I expect you will be hearing from some of them during the next two years. I have been continually impressed with the thought and planning that Wilderness Safaris puts into the philosophy and staffing and running of their camps.

So, thank you again, for your help, and good advice. It was everything we could have hoped for, and more.

Very best wishes,
Leni W, NY


MASHATU GAME RESERVE, BOTSWANA & VICTORIA FALLS - AUG 2004

Dear Bert:
We got home from Africa last night, and I just wanted to let you know that the trip was fabulous, one the family will be talking about for a long time. The Mashatu “Adventure Package” in particular was outstanding, and I expect it will only get better, as they are always re-thinking and retooling it. We also really enjoyed the Owl’s Loft, in particular the company of the owners at dinner. As for Victoria Falls, I have wanted to see it practically all my life, and I wasn’t disappointed. The raft trip was quite an adventure; we flipped over in a class 5-plus rapids, but the safety briefing had been so good that everyone knew exactly what do to keep a tricky situation under control.

Thanks for all your help in planning the trip. I don’t know if we’ll be doing an encore, but I’ll certainly get in touch if we do, and I’ll recommend you to any safari-bound friends.

Best regards,
Andrew M., MA


SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 2004

Yes, we had a fantastic trip. Thank you so much for all of your help. No, we missed most of the bad weather. We did hit some rain in Cape Town but nothing too bad. Overall, every property had lovely accommodations!

TANDA TULA - loved it! The accommodations, entire staff and food were exceptional. Can't wait to go back. Definitely gets our "best all-round" award.

STEENBERG - great accommodations and location. We were happy not to be in the center of Cape Town.

SANBONA - Should bill itself more as a wildlife reserve (like Grootbos) than game reserve. They took us on game drives to see fenced animals. Food was excellent. Accommodations were very nice, however getting there was a bit inconvenient (once you get to the property it is another 40-some Kms on a really rocky, dirt road. A little too much for our car but we made it. (Some of the other guests had to be towed!)

KLIPPE RIVIER - very friendly staff and good cuisine. Interesting accommodations (we had a barber chair in our room).

GROOTBOS - We really liked it here. A lot of different activities and friendly staff. Food was not so hot.

LA COURONNE - Great rooms, beautiful surroundings. We really liked the town of Franschoek. The service in the hotel restaurant was absolutely horrible (but the Piano player was exceptional).

Again, many many thanks. We all enjoyed it so much and will forever remember the trip. If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to ask us.

Best,
Amelia, Christine and Lisa, NY


ZIMBABWE FLY-IN SAFARI, JULY 2004

Dear Bert,
This is just a quick note to let you know that our family had the best imaginable time in Zimbabwe.

The arrangements went flawlessly, the accommodations were wonderful, and the Wilderness hospitality and guides were outstanding. I really must add special praise for the guides in Chikwenya, Simeon on the canoes and Sacha, who led us several walking day trips, all of them memorable beyond words. (You might ask him about the elephant on Chikwenya Island. We appreciated his professional approach.) Also, for me personally, I know one of the high points of the trip was tracking rhino for two days, and finding the fellow eating twigs less than 30 meters away. He lay down for an afternoon nap. We have passed your name on to several others and I hope they call. Everyone needs to experience Africa this way. Thank you for your assistance in setting this trip up. We hope to contact you again soon.

Yours,
Joanna L. OR


JACANA SAFARI, BOTSWANA - MAY 2004

We just wanted to write and say that we had a wonderful trip! Everything was beautifully organized and went smoothly. Starting in Cape Town, we enjoyed the Welgelegen. The staff was very friendly and helpful. Our guide in Cape Town, Lionel Pead, was great. He imparted lots of information on South Africa and we had an enjoyable two days with him.

The safari was magnificent!! Our guide, Gavin McCabe was excellent! He was so knowledgeable and patiently answered all our questions. He knew how to find animals and each day we saw something new and exciting. We couldn't have asked for a better trip. The camps were all comfortable and the food was delicious. We had no idea that we would eat so well in the bush. Kate was our hostess at a couple of the camps and she did an excellent job. And the staff was wonderful. They made sure we were well taken care of and everyone was so delightful. We never ceased to amaze at how well everything was coordinated and went off without a hitch. We most definitely would recommend Wilderness Safaris.

We did fill out an evaluation which we left at the Wilderness desk at the Victoria Falls Hotel. Hopefully this will get back to the main office. Our only suggestion was that camping at Chobe was our least favorite. If we did it again, we'd opt to stay an additional day at Jacana and Linyanti Tented Camp and then go directly to Victoria Falls.

Thank you, Bert, for all your work in putting our trip together. We had a wonderful time and didn't encounter any problems. Feel free to contact us if you'd like more input.

Sincerely, Dave & Karen Colwell, CO


JACANA SAFARI, BOTSWANA - MAY 2004

Dear Bert,
It's been a flurry of activity since we've been home, but I did want to take a minute to tell you what a completely fabulous trip we had. Many thanks to you for all you did to make it so. Steve and I kept asking each other during the trip, "How will we describe this to our friends? What will we tell them?" We both concluded that there is no possible way to convey the experience, and interestingly I find I have different stories, all faithful to the experience, depending on the listener. The three weeks were so diverse and so intense we can't quite get a simple response together.

In some ways what was most exhilarating was feeling so unknowing and so naive about so much. All the while being lulled by being in countries where English is the main language (though often hard for us to understand!) and two cities bursting with energy and modernity, we were overwhelmed, pleasurably, by so much that was new, unexpected, only partially understood. We left hungry to know more about everything and everyone. If we teach our children to be careful crossing the street, how do Botswana parents teach their children to navigate the bush? If we encourage our children to be independent thinkers, how do Botswana parents teach their children to fit into a more stable and traditional culture? How are the different tensions between freedom and safety, tradition and change balanced in different cultures, including ours? Just a few of the myriad questions we had.

Fascinating were the questions raised by seeing the many ways animals have developed to perpetuate their gene pool, adapt to different conditions, camouflage their bodies, live in different social orders. And what about the ways humans have adapted? So good to challenge the complacent thinking we all fall into by staying in our own small worlds.

Our group was wonderful and very compatable. Perhaps we will do a repeat in Namibia in '06! I gather Michelle and Dominique Le Marie have already talked to you about this. Our guide, Pilot, was a treasure of knowledge, warmth, humor, stories and fun. And our hostess, Dyane, was also a delight, always having some kind of surprise for us in terms of meals or their location. (My particular favorite was the lunch with tables completely set with linens, flowers, etc. literally IN the Okavango Delta). They were a smooth and enthusiastic team and made us feel everything was effortless, which of course it wasn't. What a lot of hard work they put in! Likewise the staff in the camps who entertained us on several occasions with singing and dancing. The food was superb, including Dy's grandmother's recipe for Cape Brandy Pudding which will now be made in several homes in the U.S. and France!

All the arrangments you made for us worked out very well. As I guess you know, we got up-graded to Jack's Camp. Not clear whether San was over-booked or didn't have anyone but us. We found the Kalahari spectacular, but missed the closeness of our little Jacana Safari "family". Jack's seemed a bit stiff and formal by comparison though we were intrigued by the collections of carpets, pottery, skeletons, etc.

I hope we will have the opportunity to return. If we do, I think we would like to see if there is some way to be able to see the animals without always having to be in a land rover. Are there camps where one can view them from a hide and have longer viewing oppportunities? Are there ways to do more walking? Our only frustration was the need to be always moving around in a boat or land rover and to get relatively brief looks in the pursuit of always looking for more. I'm sure each trip is unique also depending on the time of year and the particular circumstances, such as this year's flooding. On our particular trip we saw fewer hippos than I expected, I guess because of so much water, but then there was the one day we saw a leopard, cheetah and lions!

I could go on and on. But easiest to just report that all was what we hoped for and more. It will take quite some time to sort out all we experiened from fynbos to Soweto to an aardwolf!

Thanks for all your help and suggestions which made this such a special trip, and one where everything ran smoothly and superbly. I hope we can do a second Africa trip!

Best Regards, Linda & Steve Skrainka, MO


JACANA SAFARI, BOTSWANA - MAY 2004

Our experience this month with Wilderness Safaris was very satisfying from start to finish. Perhaps the best part was the staff on the safari, especially our guide Gavin McCabe who was extraordinarily knowledgeable about the "bush". We also want to commend the staff in Victoria Falls and the Colwells felt the same about the people in Capetown. We can think of no way to improve on any aspect of the planning and personnel. We hope to have an opportunity to travel with them again and we ask you forward our impressions on to Johannesberg.

Bill and Nan West, CA


BOTSWANA FLY-IN SAFARI, APRIL 2004

Just a short note to tell you that my wife, Elizabeth, and I had a wonderful time on Safari. Thank you for setting it up for us. Having been to 35-40 countries so far we had met up with some people that told us of South Africa and Botswana and that we should go there to see for ourselves the wonderful people, animals and land. So glad we did! We were a little hesitant at first but glad you and Wilderness Safaris helped us through it. We stayed at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe at the Illala Lodge (wonderful place!), saw the Falls, and then on to the safari. Two nights at Savuti and two at Tubu tree. I told my wife that I would be happy to see one giraffe and one elephant....of course 30 minutes on the first drive we had that covered along with 2-300 zebras, wildebeest, hippos. We were lucky to see a pride of 5 Lions (two of them cubs), witnessed 16 wild dogs eating! Incredible. I pinched my wife a few times telling her :" Do you believe it? We are in Africa on a Safari!!" From the moment Wilderness Safaris took us in we were greeted and treated as honored guests. Everyone was great! The camps and vehicles were clean, food ample and delicious and the guides, hosts and crew of each of the camps went out of their way to make our trip special. One guide at Savuti, Thuto Moutloatse, went far and above his duties, taking us out for a 10 hour safari drive. His enthusiasm was contagious! We were both awed and humbled by Africa and our experiences there. Both of us now wondered why it took us so long to get to Africa. Thanks again.

Robert and Elizabeth Dudley, MI


CUSTOM BOTSWANA & CAPE FLY-IN SAFARI: APRIL 2004

It was THE most exciting and memorable trip of my lifetime - and Bill agrees with me! Thank you for your careful insight into what we asked for in this journey. Everything went so smoothly, we had no concerns for safety or for finding our way. The details you arranged were excellent from the personnel to meet us, the timing of departures and arrivals on airplanes and shuttles, and most especially, the fantastic areas for viewing wildlife and meeting people. The small camps were very personal and luxurious - I'm sure those circumstances colored our experiences very favorably. You asked for some feedback on the camps. I will give you our impressions while we are still savoring our African experience.

Welgelegen B&B was a lovely, very gracious accommodation, but isolated except for walking to restaurants several blocks away. We would choose a location closer to the waterfront next time. Cape Town and driving south to the Cape was beautiful and indeed an important part of our visit to South Africa. Our driver and guide for the day's excursion was Steven Muller. He was superb, with an easy manner and full knowledge of the areas and their histories.

The River Club, with its lovely setting along the Zambezi River, had a relaxing and yet very elegant atmosphere. We thoroughly enjoyed the first evening sundowner on the river viewing hippos, plus the next day visit to the local village and the trip to Victoria Falls with a delightful guide. We were so ready for action however, that we would have enjoyed this place more at the end of our safari experiences.

Tubu Tree Camp was superb! With the water level so high, we had multiple access to view animals, birds, and plant life. Wonderful people, guides, accommodations, upbeat spirit among staff, and great variety of wildlife. We would highly recommend this camp especially with this much water. The passion of the guides for all that the area has to offer was truly exciting.

Little Mombo has to be the "gold standard" for accommodations, guides and staff, quantity and variety of wildlife, and food! Everything about the place was fantastic. The personal attention given to us at these small camps was just outstanding. Again, the guides were so knowledgeable and passionate, that you were caught up in the chase and the quest for more information and involvement.

Muchenje Lodge was situated in a very interesting setting along a cliff overlooking the Chobe River, with sounds of baboons and impala serenading from below. Our host and guide for a walking tour below the cliff was very knowledgeable and entertaining. We were disappointed however, that most of the viewing was at least a half hour's drive away from the lodge, on roads that were somewhat congested and limited in access to the animals. We did have a good boat trip one afternoon to see hippos and crocodiles. The quality of guides and accommodations were less than we had experienced in our previous camps.

Again, thank you for your expertise and personal interest in making our trip to Africa a most positive and unforgettable one.

Jan and Bill Lee, OR


CUSTOM BOTSWANA FLY-IN SAFARI: APRIL 2004

Bert,
Bob and I would like to thank you for arranging our recent trip to South Africa, Botswana and Zambia. The trip was very well designed, the logistics flowed smoothly, and Wilderness Safaris took excellent care of us. We saw spectacular sights including all the large animals (except rhino) and over 145 different species of bird. We had excellent guides at each location, and were particularly pleased with Lionel Peed in Cape Town and Vundi in Kwetsani. We enjoyed the uniqueness of each camp, as well as the warm, family atmosphere that was created at each. Although we enjoyed all the camps, if we had to choose just one to return to it would probably be Kwetsani. The trip was truly memorable and we thank you very much.

The only minor hitch was that although we were booked for Little Mombo (and our voucher showed Little Mombo), the camp reservation showed us at the main camp and Little Mombo was full. We were accommodated at main camp and enjoyed our stay. As compensation, we were treated to a special dinner on the porch of our tent on the final night, complete with wine, candles, and personal service.

Many thanks, Bob and Mary Reynolds, AL


CUSTOM FLY-IN SAFARI BOTSWANA - MARCH 2004

Bert,
Got back on the 4th. I will write a more lengthy account in a few days when I catch my breath. We have been very busy since my husband's company is opening a new office in Florida. In fact, I just flew home this morning. The Trip-----It was more outstanding than we even hoped for. We are even talking about what season to go next year. The camps, the people and of course the guides and I can't forget the animals were unforgettable. If we could have stayed and got a job at one of the camps, we would be on the next plane. Hats, off to you !!!! for your excellent advice and excellent organization. I will recommend you to all I know.

I will write you more toward the end of the week.
Thank you again.

Carole Pringle, CT


PRIVATE JACANA SAFARI (BOTSWANA) - MARCH 2004

Bert,
Everything was much beyond our hopes. It was stupendous, wonderful, fantastic - add every positive adjective in the book. I have been intending to write a thank you to you and especially to our guide, Dave Luck. Work has been really miserable since my return, however, and I have not managed. It was a shame about Cora - but when walking in the African bush, I guess one has to look forward, watch where one steps, and pick up one's feet. Oh well. And Wilderness and Jack's and Dave Luck handled that very very well.

remember negotiating hard with you on the price - which is not easy for me generally - but I thought the prices high. Now I COMPLETELY understand the pricing. And, you'll be pleased to know that we are already planning for a return to Botswana with a side venture to Namibia in the high season of 2005 - probably October. We've traveled all over the world, and this is the only thing I want to do now. And, of course, we will use Wilderness and you again. And you picked the PERFECT safari for what I wanted. Jacana was exactly right. THANK YOU! I really liked being away from the other groups.

Dave Luck. Dave Luck. Dave Luck --- WOW! How lucky were we! I can't say enough marvelous things about Dave. I felt privileged to be in his care. He was beyond patient, beyond wonderful, beyond thoughtful. We saw sooo soo much. Of course, we also really really loved Diane, our hostess.

We do feel that we missed out a bit by being there in the wet season. My Mother was itching to see larger herds of animals. But that just gives us an excuse to go back. The highlight of the trip for everyone was an encounter we had with two adolescent bull elephants while at Kaparota. They were swimming and playing together. Dave pulled in a reasonable distance away, but after a while, even that was too much for one of the elephants and he gave us a big fake charge, trumpet, and display. It was really spectacular - he was just so full of testosterone and energy and play. There were of course many other wonderful sightings (I think 167 bird species?!?!?!?), a great encounter with wild dogs, a stunning sitatunga - too much to list. And just as far as Wilderness goes - what a tight ship. Everything ran like clockwork. We were very impressed. I have referred several people to you (hopefully they'll call at some point). And we'll be back! Have no worries!

And if Wilderness has any need for a banking and derivatives lawyer, please let them know I'd happily move to Botswana in an instant. This week, being an assistant cook at Jack's Camp seems particularly appealing.

Please do not hesitate to send anyone my way if you need a reference. I'd be happy to speak with people on the phone for you. I really feel indebted to Dave and Wilderness for giving me the privilege of the experience.

Dan Cooke, VA


N. BOTSWANA FLY-IN SAFARI, MARCH 2004

Bert,

Rachelle and I had a fabulous time our Botswana adventure to Duma Tau, Xigera, Little Mombo, and Jack's. The highlight was clearly Xigera with spectacular flood waters that were beyond anything anyone there could remember. The game at Mombo was very good, with excellent leopard sightings, and our two guides (Brooks and Thompson) were the best. Heavy rain made most of the roads at Jack's Camp unusable, so we were disappointed that we couldn't get to most of the main attractions. Overall, however, all of the camps were outstanding, and we can't wait to return to Southern Africa for another safari. Perhaps Namibia? Thanks again for your excellent service.

Best Regards, Steve Crupi, KBC-TV, LAS VEGAS


N. BOTSWANA FLY-IN SAFARI, OCT. 2003

Bert,

We had an incredible experience in Africa. At the camps we were able to see all of the big game and more. I wasn't sure if we would or not but we were most impressed with the availability of the Big 5, especially the cats. The camp and staff quality and service levels exceeded our expectations. The staff created a cozy environment at all three camps. Noteworthy was Kwetsani: Antoinette and Jason really went out of there way to create a friendly and intimate environment. They were attentive to all our needs and made sure we were having fun (e.g. dinner under the starlight, with campfire, and a massive baobab tree nearby).

Also, the Welgelegen guest house in Cape Town was perfect. Helen loved how well our room and the common areas were appointed. You are right, they had the best breakfast food! Our only regret is that we didn't spend more time in Cape Town. All in all, the vacation exceeded our expectations (we had high ones). We made all of our transfer without any problems and we received nothing but courteous and professional service all around. Also, we REALLY appreciated the emergency row seating on the transatlantic plane rides--it really made a big difference, thanks for looking out for us.

I have already begun giving your contact information out to friends who are interested in going--please use us as references. Thank you and Fish Eagle Safari for putting together a smooth, enjoyable, and worry-free trip of a lifetime.

Brian Kim


MASHATU GAME RESERVE, TULI BLOCK OF BOTSWANA, SEPT 2003

We thoroughly enjoyed every minute at this camp and we will go back if possible, I want to see the archaeological sights, and some of their other options!

(I will admit that this was our first safari, our first trip to Africa, and our first camp, but they made it a tough act to follow, and none of the other camps quite measured up) The other three camps we all thought were great, but this was far and away our favorite!! I think that I can speak for the Ten Eicks too, but they will probably send your their own comments. The tent camp managers are a young couple from South Africa and have been there less than a year. They work very hard, and seem to have a great interaction with their employees at the camp. There seemed to be lots of love and respect on both sides.

The quality of the camp, host and hostess, staff, food, the dinner in the boma (a herd of elephants came at sunset, unforgettable!), guides/tracker, spotter, and tents were excellent. I can find no reason to recommend any changes to anything! Our guide and tracker was Daniel (experienced, I think 10 years) and our spotter was Solomon. (We also interacted with the guide Richard who has been at Mashatu for 18 years) Daniel was very knowledgeable and had a great sense of humor, and we all thoroughly enjoyed being with him and "Sole".

With Daniel and Sole we saw 6 different leopards in one day! 3 siblings about 15 months old, a Mother with her cub and a lone male) Sole (Solomon) was a great spotter, and was able to find several leopards and even a rock python in a tree at night, besides lots of other stuff. This camp is very relaxed, and does not have as many "rules" as some of the other Wilderness Safari Camps or Chobe National Park.. One can easily go off road at Mashatu, and off road was an under statement, we were never surprised when Daniel would head off a cliff or into a dry stream bed to find an animal, and he could certainly turn that Land Cruiser around on a dime! We hung on tight, and he would inquire if we were still all accounted for. We enjoyed the walks with Daniel, the early morning coffee/teas that Sole set up, and the afternoon sundowners were all memorable! (I think that African sunsets are really outstanding) We enjoyed the evenings with the other guests at the camp, it was a good group!

In the camp we saw:

Eland, greater kudu, impala, baboon, vervet monkey, snakes (spitting cobra, and some sort of green snake) monitor lizard, bush buck (male, female and baby), zebra,elephants, wart hogs(there are a few that are camp residents), black backed jackel, Leopard came through at night. One could sit in the hide back at camp and be provided with hours of enjoyment. Watching the antics of the baboons and wart hogs was always fun! Bird life is also spectacular, you can see many kinds just in the camp, or at the water hole.

Out on the drives in addition to the above we saw many leopards, more of the above miscellaneous animals, and several prides of lions, (a mother with her three cubs that provided a lot of entertainment between being bad cubs, and the jackals trying to steal their dinner!) The elephants were always entertaining, and we had a favorite the naughty little elephant who just did not want to do what his mother wanted! Saw the lone gemsbok that has survived (the other eaten by a lion). We saw several ostrich, and of course the most interesting baobab tree.

When we were at Mashatu it was hot for two of the days, and quite cool for the other two days. The evenings got quite cool and required a blanket so sleeping was easy! (especially after being up from 5:00 AM until 10:30 PM; we literally fell into bed!).

Daniel and the camp managers asked what books I had read before I went to Africa, and why we had picked Mashatu (I told them that picking Mashatu was to your credit). I told them I would try to send a couple of the books that I read, so they could read them too!

Thanks again ever so much!!!

Marlene Decker


N. BOTSWANA & CAPE TOWN, SEPT 2003

Bert

Our trip was wonderful! We were very pleased with the accommodations and how Wilderness handled the trip. Here are some specific comments:

  1. The Ramada Airport South in Atlanta was pretty bad. Convenient, but in bad repair.
  2. While we had no problems with South Africa Airlines, people who traveled the next day on the same flight were delayed at least a day because of mechanical problems. Apparently SAA has no readily available source for replacement parts or special maintenance and the flight was cancelled pending the arrival of repair equipment.
  3. The Grace in Johannesburg was beautiful. The staff was very helpful in arranging an afternoon tour.
  4. Mombo was beautiful. Great food and staff.
  5. Chitabe Trails was good, but definitely not in the same class. The cabins were not as nice, but the staff was very friendly.
  6. King's Pool was fantastic. Probably the nicest "room" we have ever stayed in anywhere. Again, wonderful staff. They are still awaiting their executive chef, so food was a notch below Mombo's.
  7. Victoria Falls Hotel was elegant, like a trip into the past. Our initial room was small and in poor repair, but we asked for and received a much nicer room in a newer section.
  8. Cape Grace was also wonderful. Probably the friendliest staff of any hotel we have stayed in. They really personalized the stay and accommodated every request with a smile.
  9. Bushman's Kloof was a little bit of a letdown after the other camps. While the accommodations were nice, the game viewing is quite limited. Ours was also a family weekend, so we were the only couple there without children. That really didn't limit our activities, however. It was almost a 4 hour drive to and from, so all things considered, I probably would not strongly recommend it unless someone is particularly interested in rock art.

All in all, we had a wonderful time and can't wait to go back again. Thanks for your help. Feel free to use our names as references.

Best wishes, Beth & Bob Tucker


RIVER CLUB, N. BOTSWANA, & THE CAPE: JULY 2003

Bert,
Overall our trip was incredible and indescribable (in other words you have to be there to experience it, because trying to tell about it can't do it justice!) Let me start by saying everything went without a glitch. If we had a downside it was the initial flight from Atlanta to Jo'burg as they put us all in the same row against the bulkhead (so you could not put your seat back all the way), so we did not get much sleep on the flight. We perhaps should have checked in earlier, because by the time we arrived and said we had the aisle seats, they indicated they were all taken. (Although we did comment that at least the crying children were not seated near us, so we did find one plus in our unfortunate seating location.) We enjoyed the Grace hotel and the mall. A nice chance to rest up from the trip over. All of the drivers on the transfers were very good - friendly, informative, and helpful.

The River Club was a great place to start. Walking in front of the falls was a unique experience, as well as getting a sense of the living conditions of the people in the area. The dinners at all of our camps were very good and a highlight was always the other guests to meet and learn from. (One thing we learned immediately was that we did not have enough warm clothes along. A recommendation would be to encourage a light ski cap and light gloves to everyone who goes at this time of year!)

Kings Pool was wonderful. When trying to find anything not done well, the only thing I could think of was that no animals came to the underground viewing bunker while we were there! (We actually saw them moving in towards the pool as we were leaving!!!). The managers were great and stayed up talking at the campfire until we tired out. All of the game drive guides were super and everyone did everything possible to provide the best experience possible. We could go into all of our experiences with our animal sightings, but it would fill pages. Obviously elephants were at the focal point of many of them. (We saw four of the big five in one evening drive.) But you could see so many animals just from your tent deck!

Mombo provided the vast fields of animals and the large lion prides. The leopard cub was a highlight. we really enjoyed the local dancing and singing prior to dinner on our last night. Here we saw the rhinos, which completed our big five viewing. Some of the managers were on break, so we did not get as close to the staff here, but as was always the case, everyone was very friendly and helpful. Here we met Derek and Beverly Joubert who were beginning a new project in the Botswana bush, so listening to their experiences and expertise added to our experience. Animals kept coming into camp and on one of my walks to little Mombo I came within six feet of an elephant eating form the trees along the walk -the night before he had broken many of the railings! Our up close and personal pictures of all of the animals are excellent.

We were a little concerned at Tubu because we had seen so much up close and our guide struggled initially because he could see we were not taking any pictures with many of the animals farther away from us. So at night we went out after hearing lions growling and found two males calling each other, meeting and walking off to mark their territories. The next day we saw a cheetah kill - a real highlight. (We had seen two different experiences of lion stalking/chasing, one in each of the first two camps, but no successes.) We also went on a walk for the first time, went on mokoro rides that evening. The last day we fished and took a speed boat ride. So we had many experiences. Here again the staff was great and we actually were the only guests in the camp for half of our stay!

Some would wonder if Tubu would be the place to start and then move on to other camps. I think you were trying to have us wind down and experience some other things, so it did turn out great as well for us. If we had not had some of the experiences with the lions at night, the cheetah kill, etc. it may have seemed like a little bit of a letdown after all of the experiences at the first 2 camps...

We enjoyed the balloon ride and beauty of the Magaliesburg area. It seemed like autumn in northern Wisconsin. Chris and I hike, so we enjoyed a day of leisure. (Daryl so enjoyed the wine country area that he would have chosen a night or two there maybe instead.) The one issue we had at De Hoek is that no one ever gave us initial information about the property and other things to do in the area. If you tracked down the staff, you could always get answers, but after all of the incredible service and friendly management staff at all of our previous stays, we felt uncomfortable with no management ever around to offer unsolicited assistance to make our stay more enjoyable. (We would not go back here.)

What can you say about Cape Town. You have to go there if you go to Africa! Our view from the V&A was incredible. Our room was dated (carpeting soiled, tiles cracked etc.) We found out that the second floor, which we were on, was to be refurbished next year, so that was good to hear. It did not impact our stay. The staff was friendly, the food good, and like I said, the view...We loved the coastal tour and the wine tour. We went to the top of Table Mountain, went to the aquarium and shopped and ate in the mall. (The local crafts market was disappointing though.)

We all got our aisle seats on the way back, so it was a much more restful flight.

One of the other guests we were with at Tubu was Graham Boynton (a writer for and one of the founders of Conde Nast Travel magazine). He has stayed at 200-300 African camps over his career and confirmed that you cannot do better than Botswana, Wilderness Safaris, and the small camps like Tubu.

Wilderness truly has a first class operation. As stated previously, every transfer driver, every guide, every manager, staff, cooks, cleaning people etc. were friendly, helpful, knowledgeable and showed that they enjoyed what they were doing.

You truly laid out a great plan for our African vacation and we are very appreciative of the job you did for us. You are known by people we met in the camps. Your name comes up on internet chat rooms for doing great work. And you truly came through for us. We will never forget the great experiences we had. There are so many more places to go in the world, but maybe in 5-10 years we will return to Africa and experience it in the summer, when everything is green and more young are born.

Thanks again Bert, and continued success to you.

Kent (and Chris) Raabe, WI


RIVER CLUB, N. BOTSWANA & THE CAPE: JULY 2003

"Bert,
The trip was all that we could have hoped for and more! I can't think of one thing that I would have changed regarding the three week stay and I can't think of one thing we missed. WONDERFUL!

The people at Wilderness treated us like royalty, attending to our every request without blinking an eye. Also, they were wonderful individuals to be with, each with a different personality and each enjoyable to get to know. Derek, who met us in Johannesburg, certainly was a wonderful introduction to the "Wilderness" way of doing things, topnotch with every detail and giving us information on some of the camps which he has been able to visit. GREAT INDIVIDUAL!

The River Club was wonderful and our guide did an outstanding job of showing us the area and getting us to and through the FALLS! AREN'T GOD'S CREATIONS WONDERFUL!!!!

The individuals at each of the camps were all attentive to our requests, wonderful individuals to just talk to, and outstanding guides. They wanted us to see it all and WE DID! Herds of elephant, very often "up-close-and-very personal" even to the point of being chased by a heard of approximately 12 elephants including the babies, (at King's Pool). Kabul and his fellow guides at King's Pool, found us leopards in the dark using spotlights. WOW! Baboons and lions keeping us up for a majority of our first night in King's Pool, with the baboons raining down on us in the morning when we went to breakfast. Also, momma hippo and baby right across the "pool" for us to watch and learn how to imitate their calls, along with many other animals.

Journeys of giraffe, 4 of the 6 white rhinos living in Botswana, leopard and her cub (at Mombo). Also a special thanks to Julius our guide in Mambo. Mombo was unique - buffalos living under our tents and hyenas chewing through gates at night in order to get to some food, vervet monkeys stealing food right from under our noses, and elephants destroying the walkways at night. The "Boma" dinner, starring our guide Julius, was one of the many highlights. WOW! WOW! We also met Derek and Beverly Joubert two of the founders of Botswana Conservation Policies. They were there following a life of the leopards.

At Tubu, lions mating, stalking prey, teaching young to hunt, and following their evening calls in the dark (approximately 9:30 P.M.) and finding them. A special thanks to Grant and Dan at Tubu. A "rare" cheetah experience of stalking and killing a Red Lechwe, ANOTHER WOW!!!! We had a rare chance to fish along with the crocs and hippos, all four of us caught a catfish! Dan even got all of us into the birds of Africa and my checklist of birds is almost full!

Oh, by the way the FOOD WAS OUTSTANDING at all of the camps, thanks to all the individuals who worked so hard to prepare all of it. Every meal was a gourmet's delight.

De Hoek was also wonderful, the balloon ride was outstanding! The balloon ride was the day after Daryl & my 34th Wedding Anniversary, an anniversary which we will remember for many years to come.

All of Cape Town was great - Tram ride to Table Mountain, the wine country, and the Cape tour were more than any of us could have imagined.

We cannot think of one thing that we missed - THE WHOLE TRIP WAS ONE OF A LIFETIME!

I want to thank you and your staff for putting together such a lifelong memory for us - have we got the pictures!

We are contemplating doing a different part Africa in the future.

Again, we want to thank you for everything!

N. J. Raabe, WI


BOTSWANA FLY-IN SAFARI: MARCH 2003

"Dear Bert,
We arrived back in Ft. Collins on the 21st after spending over 2 days in St. Louis waiting for the DIA airport to open. We had over 3 feet of snow so everything shut down. Our African experience was superb. It was great to fly to England and spend a day relaxing before the trip to Johannesburg. We arrived in Jo'burg on time on British Air and it was nice to have the day there before flying to Livingstone. The Holiday Inn was great. We did take a tour of the city and some poverty places. It is such a shame that there are so many very poor people and such deplorable housing units. You and Wilderness Safaris did a wonderful job in making our trip successful. Your suggestions of 2 days at River Club, 3 days at Savuti and 3 days at Tubu Tree were just right. Much longer and the daily grind would be a problem. The 4 days in Cape Town were great, too. Our stay at the Welgelegen was great as they were very cooperative in helping us get day tours with a driver. We can highly recommend Lanie and crew as a place to stay in Cape Town. I plan to write to ITN about our experiences. The food throughout the trip was first class.

After a good flight to Livingstone we were met and taken to River Club by a very pleasant driver (Levil) where he stopped a few blocks from the lodge and put us on a boat for the trip to our camp. Everyone was super helpful and service was tops. They took us to see the falls from the Zambia side. What a Beautiful site ( it could not be better on the Victoria Falls side). Besides it was not crowded. Our plane rides to each camp were excellent and on time. At each of the 2 Botswana camps we had wonderful service with outstanding guides (Isaac at Savuti and Dan at Tubu tree). I fell at River Club and wrenched my knee but Rowan had the "deep heat" that worked wonders on the knee. He called ahead to Tubu tree and Nicola ordered some similar heat treatment, which came in the next day. As you can see everyone was very helpful. We can highly recommend these camps to everyone we see. The morning and night safaris were all tremendous. The guides were very sharp on seeing all kinds of animals but still concerned about the passengers. We saw elephants, lions, cheetahs, leopards, giraffes, wild dogs, over 120 different birds, wildebeests, zebras and all except cape buffalos.

This was a good time to visit as there were hardly any mosquitoes and the evenings were cool, even though the days were quite warm on safaris. Dale Majors was sooo excited about the safaris that he was always very enthused about every trip. He recorded all the birds and animals we saw so both of us have a record of them.

I could go on a lot more but I think you get the message. The trip back to London was smooth and our stay in the U K was great, in fact everything about the trip was first class. Keep telling others about this area."

Rod Anderson, CO


"Dear Bert, What a great trip you put together for us. Eva and I were astounded by the many animals and the wonderful camps and people who served us. It is one we will talk about for a long time. You may receive more customers from our recommendations. Thank you very much."

Dale Majors - CO


BOTSWANA FLY-IN SAFARI: APRIL/MAY 2003

"Yes, we are back from Botswana safe and sound. The trip was great. The Wilderness staff was fantastic! I have never been so taken care of in my life. We flew out of Atlanta directly to Jo'burg via SAA. The flight was 15 hours, and believe it or not, it was not as bad as I had made myself believe. We spent a day at the Jo'burg Airport Holiday Inn, just relaxing. The next day we flew to Maun via Air Botswana. After being greeted by Wilderness Safaris we flew to Duba Plains. Before I forget, let me say that the staff was WONDERFUL at each camp. I have never been so well taken care of in my life. Also, even though the wildlife was the hit of the trip, I also really enjoyed meeting people from all over the world - the French and Italians were great, and we almost cried when we had to leave the sweet German couple.

At Duba Plains, the game consisted mainly of lions and buffalo. But that's the attraction - the interaction between the two. While we did not see a kill while we were there, we did see the lions attack the herd and the herd bulls repulse the attack. Fascinating! From there we flew via a very small Cessna to Mombo. At Mombo, we saw many giraffes, zebra, wildebeest, buffalo and elephants. The highlight here was the leopard. We watched her one morning as she was marking her territory. Along the way, she sniffed out a small porcupine, went into the "nest", and proceeded to have breakfast. We also saw 3 cheetahs for about 10 minutes. Unfortunately, we didn't see the rhinos.

Then we went to Dumatau - probably our favorite camp of the 3. At this camp, we witnessed the interaction of elephants with each other. Also, the hippos were plentiful. The highlight here was the 45 minutes we spent with the male cheetah. My biggest regret is that we didn't come a day earlier because they watched two cheetahs attack a herd of zebra. I would have loved to watch a cheetah at full speed. Observing the leopard over tent 4 was an experience too. She had made a baboon kill and was enjoying her lunch. The next day we proceeded home and have been recovering from the jet lag ever since.

Accommodation: We were just blown away with the tents. It was hard to believe that you could live with a flush toilet and hot water in the middle of the bush! The tent was most roomy at Mombo of course, but Mombo was a little too "over the top" for me. Too much luxury. I'm not used to that sort of thing. The tents at Duba Plains were a little larger than at Dumatau. And after they put the mosquito netting down at Dumatau, the tent really was a bit cramped. So Duba was the best - plenty of room and quite comfortable. At Mombo and Duba, we had single beds pushed together. It didn't bother my wife and me, but at Dumatau, they gave us a king size bed. A tidbit of information that might come in handy for honeymooners. To sum up, I was extremely impressed with the living quarters in our bush experience.

Food : Now I am no expert on food. I like my food plain (some people say bland), no sauces or casseroles. And as such, there were times at Duba and Dumatau that I ate very little. That's not to say that other people didn't enjoy it. They seemed to be having the time of their lives. However, at Mombo, you have a choice. And Kristy and Nico were so accommodating. Kristy said that she was there for us, as she is not a "sauce person" either. It was at Mombo, that we were first served a local fish. I'm sorry I don't recall the name of it, but it was delicious! At Dumatau, we ate some ostrich. I liked it, but my wife though it was great.

Guides: Our guides at Duba and at Mombo were okay, but the other guides always seemed to find the game first and had to radio our guide. We had Vasco at Duba and Julius at Mombo. Both seemed professional enough, but neither was stellar. At Dumatau though, we had Peace. Peace was great. I still don't know how he found the cheetah. He had a great sixth sense for the game and a great sense of humor as well. It was with Peace that we took a boat ride, a night time game drive, and a walk. All were good experiences, but since I've already experienced each, if we ever go back, I will probably stick to the game drives, except for a mokoro ride. There was not enough water at Duba to do one, and the other camps don't offer them.

Weather: The days were great, not a cloud in the sky. The temperature was probably in the 80's during the day, which was not bad for a South Carolina boy. The humidity was low. The nights were COLD. The staff was even lamenting how cold it was for so early in the fall/winter. I'm quite cold natured, and I shivered quite a bit. Also, it didn't warm up very quickly. When it finally did though, as I stated, it was quite pleasant. Well, perhaps a bit warm in the direct sunlight. The mosquitoes were a problem only a Duba. We hardly saw any at the other camps - except. My wife went to the bush toilet at Mombo, and the mozzies, as the Brits called them, bit her a half dozen times on the outside of the thigh, just not a place you usually spray when you have on long pants.

Game: There were many RICH experiences however. Watching the lions attack the buffalo at Duba was intense. They attacked the herd, and the herd repulsed the attack. This chess match went on for about 90 minutes. It finally ended with the lions resting in the shade, and the buffalo ambling off into the thicket. At Mombo, I was a little disappointed with the game. Oh we saw plenty of the herbivores, but the cats were a little hard to find, even the leopard that I described above. And the biggest disappointment was the lack of rhinos. Nick "the rhino guy" tried to help us locate one, but Julius gave it a half-hearted try, which made me a little peeved. Nick works with the Rhino Project which is introducing rhino back into Botswana. To keep track of them, they put devices into the rhino's horns, which can be traced by certain frequencies picked up by radio. By the way, Nick is a GREAT guy, as were Kristy, Nico, and Paul, who is rotating to different camps at the moment. All of the staff was wonderful, but these four were stellar!!

At Dumatau, we found the cheetah that I mentioned, which was a dream of mine. What a beautiful cat. Other people like lions. Some like leopards. Give me cheetahs!! Unfortunately, we didn't get to see much action out of him. But he was gorgeous nonetheless. The elephants were another attraction here. Being so close to Chobe, they have a ton. A couple of instances bear mentioning. We were on a night drive, and Peace turned out the light with the elephant within 15 yards of the vehicle. Suddenly, the elephant trumpeted and gave us all a shock before moving off. Another time, we were having tea in the dry river bed, when dozens and dozens of eles started to run across to the woodlands on the other side. At one point, we were in the middle of a stampede. One afternoon at the water hole, we saw two matriarchs in a stand off. Finally one conceded and was chased around the area by the more dominant one. What made this particularly interesting was that the dominant one thought our vehicle was an ele too and began to try to intimidate us. It worked on my wife. Very quickly, she was in my lap!

Thanks for all your efforts. I really appreciate your rearranging the schedule so that we could fit in Duba Plains. What a camp!! Thanks again."

Joey McDonald, SC


BOTSWANA FLY-IN SAFARI: APRIL 2003

"My son, daughter and I are home. I just wanted you to know that everything went very well. The safari part of the trip at Savuti Camp was great. The camp, the people, everything was top notch. We had superb Wild Dog experience, a right-after-it-happened Lion Zebra kill and, of course, Elephants galore. The temporary Camp Manager, Rowan, was our personal guide, and he couldn't have been any better. If they never get back again, which I doubt, this was a perfect safari experience for my son and daughter.

Thanks for your help. Your arrangements were smooth and as-planned. I know this wasn't the easiest one you ever put together. I do appreciate your expert help."

Mike Sheppard , CA


NAMIBIA & BOTSWANA FLY-IN SAFARI: MARCH 2003

"The trip was absolutely fabulous! Little Kulala was great - the beds in the rooms looked great - but we didn't sleep on them because we asked for bed rolls and slept on the roof because the SKY WAS JUST AWESOME!!! One couldn't ask for anything better than Tubu Tree Camp as we had the WHOLE camp to ourselves with 17 personnel there to meet our every need!!!! It was going to be full in just a couple nights after we were there so we were very lucky. We finally saw a LEOPARD - in the last five minutes of the last game drive as we were returning to the lodge for our flight on to Zambia. It was so exciting to see the leopard because I had never seen one before on any other safari. The River Club and the Victoria Falls Hotel and Victoria Falls were all just great. It was a very marvelous trip.

Thank you very much for all your good tips and wonderful arrangements. Wilderness Safaris is top notch".

Warmest regards, Phebe McGee, LA


"Yes, we are back from Africa, and had an absolutely marvelous trip. We loved the arrangements you made for us. Little Kulala and Tubu Tree Camp were both wonderful. Can't think of a thing that needed improvement! The flights went without any problem, the drivers were there when they were supposed to be, their equipment was very adequate. At Tubu Tree Camp on the last 5 minutes of the last game drive we saw a leopard!!! We extended the drive by another 20 minutes or so!

Thanks for your find arrangements. I would definitely recommend Wilderness Safaris to anyone, and would love to go again! However, I've used up all my vacation for this year!"

Sincerely, June Meeks, OR



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Fish Eagle Safaris
11152 Westheimer #150
Houston, TX 77042
Tel 1-800-513-5222 (USA and Canada)
Tel 713-467-5222 (from outside North America)
Fax 713/467-3208
E-mail: Bert.Duplessis@comcast.net