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The Travel Butlers Blog

The Geoffrey Kent Suite – A New Family Suite In The Masai Mara

Luke Davies - May 9, 2019

A family safari is a wonderful experience, however sometimes it can be difficult to find a camp or lodge where the whole family can stay together under one roof and not be spread out across several rooms.  The brand new Geoffrey Kent Suite at Sanctuary Olonana ticks all boxes in this case, and if you happen to be considering a family trip to Kenya’s Masai Mara anytime soon, then this would be an ideal option.

Main Viewing Deck of the Geoffrey Kent Suite at Sanctuary Olonana

Welcoming children of all ages, the suite has 2 private en-suite bedrooms, along with one connecting bedroom. Each of which has a freestanding bathtub and opens out onto a wraparound viewing deck with an enticing infinity pool overlooking the Mara River. The interior of the suite consists of a welcoming dining room, open lounge and a fully stocked bar.

Enjoy the benefit of having a private vehicle and safari guide to help explore this special destination, and once you have returned from the days activities, prepare to be spoiled with delicious meals freshly prepared by the resident chef, tailored to suit all occasions and tastes.

Geoffrey Kent Suite BedroomGeoffrey Kent Suite BathroomEvening at the Geoffrey Kent Suite

As the suite is based Sanctuary Olonana Camp, guests staying here can take advantage of their great range of activities for kids.  Expert guides will take children out on special game drives and accompany them to the nearby Masai village where they will learn how to make and shoot a traditional bow and arrow, make a fire, build a hut,  and herd cattle. The lodge can also arrange for kids to take part in a football match with local children and learn maasai songs and traditional dances. Other activities include going out on a nature trail where they will learn about animal footprint identification or enjoy our bush treasure hunt followed by planting their own tree.

With its outstanding luxury, spacious rooms, and excellent range of  activities for kids, the Geoffrey Kent Suite is an exciting new addition to Sanctuary Olonana, offering an excellent safari experience for all members of the family.

Introducing AndBeyond Tengile River Lodge

Luke Davies - April 18, 2019

A couple of weeks ago we had a meeting with andBeyond, and among other things we were interested to hear from them how their newest lodge in the Sabi Sands is settling in.

Featuring 9 luxurious suites looking out over the Sand River and surrounded by a cool forest, andBeyond Tengile River Lodge combines top class luxury and service, with incredible views and refined interiors.  As we have come to expect from andBeyond, the lodge itself is stylish and beautifully finished combining contemporary design features with traditional materials in a way that is sensitive to the surrounding environment.

Tengile Exterior

Set within the world famous Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Tengile offers a host of game viewing activities similar nearby andBeyondKirkman’s Kamp (which has long been a favourite of ours here at Travel Butlers).  Morning and afternoon game drives head out into the reserve led by the experienced and passionate guides, where incredible wildlife sightings and close up encounters await. Whether it is an elusive leopard or a member of the Big 5, with over 200 animal species and a further 350 species of birds, the diversity here is simply outstanding.

Game Drive at Tengile

Also popular are the bush walks which are conducted with a guide and tracker and allow guests to immerse themselves in the sights, sounds and smells,  of the African bush.  This is a great way to learn more about the unseen details of the bush, and the andBeyond guides are among the best in the business making this a real treat for nature lovers.

Back at the lodge itself, the suites at Tegile all feature private infinity pools, a sunken lounge, and elegant bedrooms and bathrooms opening out onto the river below.  This luxurious setting is the perfect place to take some time out in-between game drives to relax and enjoy what is around you. It could be that you want to read a few more pages of a good book in the lounge or viewing deck, indulge in an extra spa treatment, or simply taking in the view from a hot bath and a glass of champagne to go with it.

Suite Bedroom

Bathroom View

The main guest areas are stylishly finished with a mixture of bespoke furniture, natural light and open views. A beautiful chandelier acts as the crown jewel of the dining area, whilst the bar and lounge are perfect for enjoying a delicious cocktail or fine wine. In the evening, guests retire to the fire pit to swap stories about the day’s adventures as the sky begins to darken and the stars appear.

Tengile Bar and Lounge

Having only recently opened, Tengile River Lodge has already made quite the impression with its jaw dropping design and ideal location in one of the most diverse wildlife areas on the continent. This looks to be another outstanding addition to the andBeyond portfolio, and we are sure that guests fortunate enough to stay here will return home having had a top-class safari experience.

Introducing Saseka Tented Camp, Thornybush Game Reserve

Luke Davies - April 1, 2019

There is nothing quite as romantic and glamorous as a tented safari lodge, and so we were thrilled to hear about the 5* Saseka Tented Camp  – the latest addition to the Thornybush Game Reserve in South Africa.  Forming part of the greater Kruger National Park, Thornybush is rich and diverse with a mixture of open savannah and rolling bushveld, with the Drakensberg Mountains providing a dramatic backdrop to the west.  In addition to being home to the big-5, there are also some 142 species of mammals and 507 types of birds, all of which help to create an excellent year-round safari destination for those who are passionate about wildlife and nature.

The camp itself is a mixture of wood, stone and canvas that blends in with the surrounding wilderness.  With both an upper and lower deck, that provide open views of the riverbed, it is the perfect spot to end the day with a delicious meal, before retiring to the campfire and recounting stories of the day with your fellow guests.

Saseka has 8 separate luxurious tented rooms with open glass windows that provide spectacular views of the African bush.  Whether it be from the bedroom or the bathroom, there is always something to see.  Outside, each tent has its own private viewing deck with an outdoor shower, a plunge pool to cool off in the heat of the day and some sun loungers to bask in the African sun. The luxurious interiors provide plenty of comfort, but above all, to give every guest constant access to the untamed wilderness around them.

For families or small groups wanting an exclusive experience, then there is also the breath-taking Leadwood Villa.  With 2 separate rooms, the villa can accommodate up to 4 adults and 2 children, and a dedicated safari vehicle is also included, allowing for private game drives.  In addition it has a central area with a lounge and dining area that is perfect for private family meals. There is also a large outdoor viewing deck with a plunge pool and sun Loungers.

Guests wishing to indulge in a bit of R&R can visit the Thornybush Amani Spa, which all guests at Saseka can make use of. Just a short transfer from the camp,  the Spa  offers a variety of treatments and therapies that are designed and customised for the individual.

Within this big-5 reserve, the rich diversity of wildlife will insure the game viewing will always show something you were never expecting to see.

With its outstanding attention to detail and incredible service, Saseka shows off the romance that tented safaris in Africa are famous for, and looks to be an unforgettable experience – we can’t wait to see this incredible camp in person.

 

Saseka Tented Camp Room Exteria

Saseka Tented Camp Room Interior

Game Viewing In Thornybush

View from the main area as Saseka

Is Zambia A Good Choice For Your First Safari? Yes!

Paul Campbell - November 2, 2017

We have long heard various people saying that Zambia is ideal for safari connoisseurs and people on their third or fourth safari, whilst South Africa and Kenya are often cited as being the best option for first timers.  But is there any reason why Zambia would not work for someone on their first safari?

We decided to spend 9 nights travelling to some of Zambia’s best loved national parks and safari lodges to see how the experience there compares to that in South Africa’s Kruger Park area, which is a firm favourite with first timers and seasoned safari veterans alike.  This is what we found:

  • Both South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi are really beautiful parks, with the Lower Zambezi being especially stunning due to the permanently flowing Zambezi river which is kept at fairly consistent levels as a result of the Kariba Dam. The Luangwa River is not damned and water levels do vary across the season, meaning the park can get quite dusty toward the end of the dry season and there are also a number of smaller rivers which dry-up altogether, however this natural variation in water levels means that animals move around the reserve in search of water and grazing throughout the dry safari season.  We love the Kruger Park, however we would say that both South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi are prettier and feel more remote.
  • Some of the camps in South Luangwa are open all year round, however a large number are seasonal and only open in the dry season (April-November) as many roads in the park cannot be driven in the rainy season. In the Lower Zambezi, the safari season is limited to the drier months between April and November, when the roads are accessible. The lodges around Kruger are open all year as the area has better all-weather roads and does not have such a pronounced rainy season.
  • South Luangwa offers excellent walking safari options, with shorter game walks offered by the majority of camps, and some operators offering longer walks with the opportunity to walk between different camps, giving you the opportunity for a true safari adventure. Many camps in Kruger offer bush walks, however we would say that South Luangwa is definitely the better option for keen walkers.
  • Both South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi offer a number of water based safari options that are not available in Kruger. In South Luangwa these are seasonal depending on the river levels after the rains, however in the Lower Zambezi water based activities are offered at all times when the lodges are open.  Water based activities including boat safaris, canoeing, sunset cruises and lunches on the river add a whole new dimension to your safari, and are highly recommended if you get the opportunity.
  • Whilst some parts of the Zambian parks are busier than others ( especially in the Mfuwe area of South Luangwa ), the busiest areas of both parks are noticeably less busy with tourists than the busiest areas of Kruger.
  • Kruger remains probably the best option for people looking for a good chance to see all of the Big-5 (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, buffalo) in a relatively short space of time, and neither South Luangwa or Lower Zambezi have any rhino, so if seeing the whole of the Big-5 or seeing rhino are priorities then Kruger would be the best bet. We had some fantastic sightings of lion and leopard, and the elephant sightings at both parks were exceptional.  In fact I think that Lower Zambezi probably had the largest number of consistently impressive elephant sightings of any park we have visited in the last few years.
  • Both of the Zambian reserves and Kruger are excellent for birders, however South Luangwa deserves a special mention for the huge numbers of beautiful carmine bee eaters that migrate to the area to nest from late August/early September.
  • South Luangwa has a greater variety of game than Lower Zambezi, including giraffe and a larger population of zebra, and South Luangwa also appears to offer more frequent Leopard sightings. Lower Zambezi is probably the prettier of the two, and definitely has the edge on water based activities and elephant sightings.

So, we would definitely be happy to recommend Zambia as a safari destination for first timers to Africa, and with one of the seven wonders of the world also in Zambia we believe a holiday that includes the following would be a real winner:

  • South Africa: Cape Town (stunning coastline, table mountain, rich history, Cape Winelands, penguin colony, whale watching in season)
  • Zambia: Livingstone (for Victoria Falls, one of the seven wonders of the natural world)
  • Zambia: South Luangwa (good variety of game that is regularly seen, excellent leopard sightings, fantastic walking safaris)
  • Zambia: Lower Zambezi (one of the most beautiful parks we have visited, wonderful river activities, fabulous elephant sightings)

Surely that is a holiday that a first timer could enjoy just as much as the hardened safari enthusiast?  If you need further convincing, below are a few pictures from our recent trip to South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi towards the end of the dry season in October 2017.

South Luangwa National Park

Elephant Herd On the Move, South Luangwa, ZambiaYoung leopard, ZambiaSpooky looking Marabu Storks, ZambiaElephants Crossing The Luangwa RiverSun-downer drinks are served overlooking South LuangwaBeautiful carmine bee-eaters, ZambiaLions mating, South Luangwa, ZambiaElephants emerge from the forest, South Luangwa, Zambia

Lower Zambezi National Park

Elephant at sunset, Lower Zambezi National ParkElephant on the river bank, Lower Zambezi National ParkLion in from of the winter thorn forest, Elephant at sunset, Lower Zambezi, ZambiaElephants on the move, Lower Zambezi, ZambiaElephants crossing shallow riverMale lion at sunset, Lower Zambezi, Zambia

Thornybush drops fence to Greater Kruger Park

Paul Campbell - March 8, 2017

We are delighted to hear that Thornybush Private Nature Reserve has begun removing its eastern boundary fence with the Timbavati, a process that should be complete by early May and will mean that Thornybush will become fully open to the Greater Kruger Park.

Hame Drive In Thornybush

We think this is great news, as whilst the lodges in Thornybush have always offered and excellent guest experience and good game viewing, there can be no doubt that dropping the fences to Kruger will  mean increased freedom of movement for animals and a richer game-viewing experience for guests.

I have enjoyed some terrific games drives in Thornybush whilst it has been a fenced reserve, however I have always been aware that the fence meant that there were only a fixed number of lions, elephants etc that it would be possible to find.  Dropping the fence changes this and opens up the reserve to the vast animal populations on the Greater Kruger.

I am sure this move will see this lovely reserve go from strength to strength over the coming years, and I cannot wait to go back there myself and see how things have changed.