Tailor-made Holidays

Tailor-made Holidays

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Safari and Beach

Safari and Beach

Combine Africa's amazing wildlife with the white sand beaches and crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean for the perfect holiday

Holidays in South Africa

Holidays in South Africa

Cosmopolitan cities, stunning wildlife and deserted beaches - South Africa has it all.

Tanzania Safari And Beach

Tanzania Safari And Beach

Migrating wildebeest, idyllic palm-fringed beaches, and snow-capped mountains ... these could be YOUR Tanzania holiday memories!

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The Travel Butlers Blog

What Dad Do You Have?

TraceyCampbell - June 17, 2015

With Father’s Day this weekend (Sunday June 21st)… what dad do you have?

The Elephant Dad

Species Name: “Earandnose Hairsprouticus”

Characteristics: Slightly wrinkled and grey with sparse hair growth in unwanted places, Elephant Data is incredibly thick skinned and seemingly unaware of always being the butt of pranks dished out by his kids and workmates.

Personality traits: Intelligent, loyal and dependable; a good all-rounder.

Natural Born Enemies: Unwanted nose and ear hair; tweezer-wielding women who like a manicured man.

Most likely to be found: Trumpeting loudly about his latest efforts to track down the spotty youth (now aged 45) who used to bully him in the school playground. An Elephant Dad NEVER forgets.

Father’s Day Gift Ideas: Men’s Grooming Essentials Kit

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-old-elephant-image6635468

The Rhino Dad

Species Name: “Tubbicus Bellious”

Characteristics: Unnervingly self-assured despite taking little pride in his appearance, Rhino Dad is unfathomably proud of his ample girth (evidence of his love of eating and drinking with little or no physical exercise) and seems to get a huge kick out of being outwardly irritable and cantankerous for no apparent reason.

Personality traits: Argumentative and disapproving about anything and everything, with a big ego to boot.

Natural Born Enemies: Anyone with an opinion that differs from his; wives who insist on dusting and vacuuming around him while he’s got his feet up (almost always).

Most likely to be found: Arguing with fellow Rhino Dads down at his local; applying the two-second rule to any food item left unattended, regardless of who it belongs to.

Father’s Day Gift Ideas:Memoirs of a Grumpy Old Man” personalised notebook

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-black-rhino-image21968301

The Penguin Dad

Species Name: “Alwaysembarrissing Hiskidsus”

Characteristics: Hands-on and dependable, Penguin Dad likes to think he’s a bit of a James Bond charmer with the ladies. Sadly after a few beers his Dad-dancing moves involuntarily kick-in, often accompanied by bad singing and/or air-guitaring, ensuring optimum embarrassment of his offspring and fellow onlookers.

Personality traits: Loyal and dependable with no natural rhythm whatsoever.

Natural Born Enemies: The real James Bond; anyone with a mobile phone and access to YouTube or Facebook.

Most likely to be found: Awkwardly shuffling around the dancefloor eyeing up the ladies and thinking he’s a bit of a dude, while his kids look on in horror.

Father’s Day Gift Ideas:Tuxedo” tablet cover  or “The Name’s Bond” Stamp Print

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-african-penguin-boulders-beach-jackass-poses-front-changing-hut-image52157003

The Eagle Dad

Species Name: “Immaturitus Daddicus”

Characteristics: Sharp-witted, shrewd and a natural high-flyer, Eagle Dad is ultra-competitive and hates coming second, even in an innocent game of Twister with his kids. His own Number One fan, this guy is prepared to do just about anything when it comes to making money or beating others, even if it does involve risk taking.

Personality traits: Happy to brag about his successes; laughs in the face of danger; bad loser.

Most likely to be found: Sitting in the waiting room of his local A&E department after partaking in extreme sports that grown men of any age would be nuts to entertain. “Hobbies” include BASE Jumping, Highlining, Windsuit Flying or simply trying to outdo his kids on the zip-wire down at the local park.

Natural Born Enemies: Health and Safety Inspectors; anyone involved in the enforcement of rules.

Father’s Day Gift Ideas:101 Things to Do Before You Die”  or “Make Your Own Bucket List” book

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-african-fish-eagle-image25420787

The Lion Dad

Species Name: “Idleous Buggerous”

Characteristics: Lazy and disinterested in pretty much everything except the inside of his eyelids, Lion Dad takes great pride in his hands-off approach to parenting and is quite happy whiling away the hours stretched out on a nice comfy sofa while his wife and kids do all of the running around.

Personality traits: Calm and confident, exhibiting an air of superiority to others whilst doing a lot of nothing.

Most likely to be found: Relaxing in front of the TV, waiting for his wife to get back from the supermarket and cook his dinner (typically a 16oz steak, rare of course), before the kids wash up.

Natural Born Enemies: Line Managers; Step-children… Beware.

Father’s Day Gift Ideas: Laguiole Olive Wood Steak Knives

IMG_3077 On way to Cottars

The Warthog Dad

Species Name: “Scruffius Grubbius”

Characteristics: Surprisingly confident, considering the distinct lack of care in his outward appearance and concern about offending others due to the absence of any degree of social etiquette, Warthog Dad loves a good old drink and is a bit of a softie at heart.

Personality traits: Ham-fisted and clumsy; considered a bit of a bumbling fool, but there’s serious strength of character to be found beneath that unwieldy exterior.

Most likely to be found: Snorting loudly at distasteful jokes; belching and farting in public without even the slightest hint of embarrassment while his mortified kids cringe under the sheer weight of the excruciating humiliation.

Natural Born Enemies: Toffs; anyone who recites snippets of “Debrette’s Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners”.

Present ideas:101 Bad Dad Jokes” – all the jokes kids don’t want to hear

dreamstimeextralarge_31987232 GENERAL

The Hyena Dad

Species Name: “Immaturus Patheticus”

Characteristics: Behaving like the class clown despite having (reluctantly) left school more than 20 years ago, Hyena Dad remains in complete denial about his age and the responsibilities that come with being both an adult and father, refusing to grow up and preferring to mix with kids less than half his age.

Personality traits: Immature; refusal to acknowledge responsibility; inbuilt inability to take anything seriously.

Most likely to be found: Hanging out with the under-tens at the local skate park doing BMX stunts, laughing at juvenile pranks and shouting “You’re it!” as he taps some unfortunate 5-year old on the head and runs off.

Natural Born Enemies: Grown-ups, boffins and pretty much anyone who dares to take life too seriously.

Present ideas: DIY Electro Whoopie Cushion Kit  or “ICK” Mug

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-spotted-hyena-image25832716

Happy Fathers Day to every dad out there!

The Travel Butlers Top Ten of … Reasons to Go To Africa Soon

TraceyCampbell - June 10, 2015

Can you believe we are half-way through the year already – it seems like only yesterday I was hanging my stocking out for Santa!

So with 2015 well under way, and 2016 rapidly approaching, now might be the time to tick a few things off your Africa bucket list.

Reason 1 to Go To Africa – Going on Safari in the Kruger National Park
We are now in the middle of the winter months in the Kruger, and this is a wonderful time for guests to visit here. Not only are these months cool and dry, but they are possibly the best for game viewing.

Water is scarcer, so the animals are more reliant on waterholes or rivers, which means greater game viewing opportunities around these areas. Although the vegetation around these areas remains lush, the grass elsewhere becomes much drier and shorter, making it easier to spot the wildlife.

Whilst the daily temperatures range from 9 degrees C to 26 degrees C, the early mornings and nights can get very cold – so our advice is to take plenty of layers with you and even consider taking scarves, hats and gloves!

Several lodges also are running Stay/Pay packages too – which coupled with the Rand exchange rate at the moment means superb value for money!

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-waterhole-south-africa-image10200086

Reason 2 to Go To Africa – Whale Watching
The first of the whales are already starting to arrive into Hermanus, the whale-watching ‘capital’ of the Western Cape. The peak time, when daily sightings are virtually guaranteed, is during September and October, so availability over these months in the various guest houses and hotels in Hermanus is already getting scarce – so do move quickly if you want to include this in your holiday over this time.

We normally recommend 2 nights in Hermanus, which not only gives you the opportunity of going on an early morning whale watching boat trip, but also gives you the chance to enjoy the whale watching from the land – good whale watching vantage points are from the Old Harbour wall, or from the 12 km cliff path. Another great spot to watch the whales is at Bientang’s Cave restaurant, where from your table you can watch the whales frolic not more than 100m away in the Old Harbour.

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-southern-right-sailing-1-3-image1631616

Reason 3 to Go To Africa – The Greatest Show on Earth
The famous, awe-inspiring Great Migration is now fully on the move. Often referred to as the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’, the million or so wildebeest and accompanying zebra and gazelles are now in the Central Serengeti, heading rapidly towards Western Corridor and the Grumeti River, the first of the river crossings, where the local crocodiles have already started licking their lips in anticipation of a few freebie dinners…

dreamstime 28033753 MARA RIVER CROSSING

Reason 4 to Go To Africa – Mokoro Adventures
The Okavango Delta is filling rapidly with flood waters, so if you have always fancied the idea of floating through the reeds in a mokoro, the next few months is THE time to go to Botswana. Traditionally hand-carved from an ebony or sausage tree log, these shallow canoes are perfect for gliding through the calm waters in search of wildlife. A poler stands at the back of the mokoro so all you have to do is relax, look out for the wildlife and enjoy the experience.

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-mokoro-boat-image15452549

Reason 5 to Go To Africa – White Water Rafting down the Zambezi
You could argue that there is no ‘bad’ time to visit one of the 7 Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls, but between July and September is one of the most popular times for visitors, because many people combine a trip here with a safari in Kruger. For adventure seekers, August through to December are also the best/only months to go white water rafting, as this activity is not run when the river is in full flood.

In addition, the new runway and terminal expansion at Victoria Falls Airport is imminent now, which will be an added boost for tourism to the Falls, as more international airlines will be able to fly directly here.

dreamstimelarge_29187662

Reason 6 to Go To Africa – Flower Power
September is the wild flower season in SA’s Namaqualand – an extraordinary spectacle of nature which turns the otherwise uninspiring landscape into a beautiful blanket of colour.

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-flower-field-image6226836

Reason 7 to Go To Africa – Gorilla Trekking
July through to September are the most popular months to trek gorillas in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. These months fall immediately inbetween the main rainy seasons (though remember that the gorillas live in rainforests, so as the name suggests, be prepared for rain at any time!) but the real plus point are the fantastic low season permit rates – USD 350 per person per trek compared to USD 600 per person per trek outside of these months – what a fantastic saving! This almost means you can spend twice as long here (woman’s logic – what you save you can therefore immediately spend again…). Bwindi is home to almost half of the world’s surviving mountain wild gorilla population, but it is not just gorillas you can expect to see on your morning trek – watch out for duikers, bushbuck, monkeys, giant forest hogs and forest elephants, as well as a host of bird species.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-wild-gorilla-image2523984

Reason 8 to Go To Africa – Southern Carmine Bee-Eaters Flock Back in their Hundreds
These stunning African migrant birds return to their homeland and set up breeding colonies along river banks. Some of the best sightings are in South Luangwa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Some colonies can have over 10,000 birds.

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-southern-carmine-bee-eater-image18390547

Reason 9 to Go To Africa – Turtle Safaris in KwaZulu-Natal
Witnessing literally hundreds of tiny new-born baby turtles making a mad dash for the ocean is not something you get to see every day. Only 2 breeds of Maputaland turtles lay their eggs on the KwaZulu-Natal shores – the Leatherback and Loggerhead.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-newly-hatched-baby-turtle-toward-ocean-image22466773

Reason 10 to Go To Africa – Namibia
A trip to Namibia is an adventure that can be done anytime of the year, in all honesty. Namibia is a beautiful country, with endless highlights – the red sand dunes of Sossusvlei, the wild desert elephants in Damaraland, the stunning Etosha National Park…You can drive for hours and encounter only a couple of cars on the road, making you seem magically and wonderfully alone in a barely-discovered Africa. Namibia is far more than just a holiday destination – it’s somewhere really special that is guaranteed to leave you wide-eyed and open-mouthed.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-busy-dune-image2074464

Now if these aren’t Reasons to Be Cheerful – Part 3 – I don’t know what is…(only people over a certain age will understand this reference!).

All images copyright of TravelButlers via Dreamstime.com
#takemethere

The Travel Butlers Top Ten of … Different Things to do in Cape Town

TraceyCampbell - June 3, 2015

If you have some time in Cape Town, of course it is obligatory to visit Table Mountain, take a tourist bus around the city, and maybe do a cruise around the harbour, but what about considering something a little unique and off the normal, well trodden tourist track… it will certainly be something to talk about when you get home over dinner with the neighbours!

1. Cape Malay Cultural Experience Tour

Enjoy a unique interaction and experience the cultural diversity of the Cape Malay community, descendants of the original Malay slaves.  Departing every day at 3 pm (apart from Thursdays and public/ religious holidays and Ramadan) you start your tour at the Bo-Kaap Museum in the heart of the Cape Malay Quarter where you learn more about their history and the preservation of their traditions in Africa. Your story-telling host will then guide you on an entertaining walking tour giving you insights into the historical and architectural landscape that adds so much colour and character to Cape Town’s City Bowl. The highlight of this experience is enjoying an authentic home-cooked dinner at the home of your host family.

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-bo-kaap-district-cape-town-south-africa-image15210559

2. Mount Nelson Afternoon Tea Experience

The Mount Nelson Hotel is a notable hallmark of luxury and indulgence. The world-renowned afternoon tea buffet is set in the elegant lounge overlooking the manicured garden. Enjoy the scrumptious selection of chocolate éclairs and petit-fours, mini cakes and classic carrot, chocolate and cheese cakes, savoury sandwiches and empanadas, scones and succulent fresh fruits. There are over 30 loose leaf teas to try, from Rooibos and Lapsang Souchong, to Earl Grey and Darjeeling.

Nelson

3. Vintage Sidecar Winelands Experience

Relive the thrill of a bygone era in the sidecar of a classic 750cc motorcycle and take in the splendour of the magnificent mountains and vineyards as you range through the Cape’s premier wine regions. Visit a Paarl wine estate for a cheese and wine tasting before winding through mountains and valleys to the French-inspired town of Franschhoek. Enjoy a wine tasting before taking the scenic road to Stellenbosch. Enjoy another wine tasting at a top wine estate before returning to Cape Town.  Authentic riding gear is provided for use on the ride, making great wish-you-were-here photos!  A minimum of 2 guests will share 1 motorbike (1 guest in the sidecar and 1 guest on the motorbike, behind the Tour Guide).

Sidecar

4. Township Life Experience

Visit Bo-Kaap, District Six, Langa (oldest formal township) and Khayelitsha, the highest populated township in South Africa. Learn about the history of South Africa. There is also the opportunity to interact with a pre-school centre and in a school classroom to gain an understanding of the education system. Finally, you visit the Women’s Empowerment Centre in Khayelitsha and interact with the weavers and painters, and enjoy a walking tour to interact with the local community.

5. Cape Town Dinner Experience

Join a fun filled evening of interactive entertainment and delectable food at Gold Restaurant. Sample a set Cape Malay/African style menu which is served at the table in sharing and individual portions. The evening starts off with an interactive djembe drumming session followed by a traditional soothing hand washing ceremony.  A professional djembe drum instructor will teach you how to play the basic rhythms of the djembe drum.  Live entertainment during dinner includes a Mali puppet show which involves story telling with singers, dancers, puppets and musicians. The final performance is by the waiters and kitchen staff who will entertain you with some local song and dances.

6. Cape Point Cycle and Winelands Adventure

This is a perfect way to combine some moderate physical activity with seeing the sights around the Cape Peninsula. Enjoy a peaceful cycle through the unique fynbos vegetation of the Cape Point Nature Reserve, visit the breeding colony of rare African penguins at Boulders Beach and relax at a scenic picnic lunch spot. Before returning to Cape Town you tour the historic Constantia Winelands which includes wine tastings at 2 premier estates.

7. Table Mountain Biking Adventure

An ideal way to experience the glorious nature of Table Mountain.  You are guided on the ‘Double Descent’ route on the lower slopes offering fantastic panoramic views. This adventure is suitable for experienced cyclists as well as those who want to try off-road biking.

Cycling

8. Table Mountain Hiking Adventure

There are a number of fantastic hiking routes to the summit of Table Mountain that require moderate fitness and offer an extraordinary nature experience right in the heart of the city. Your expert guide will ensure your safe passage to the top of this iconic mountain. If you find you are too tired to walk down, you have the option of taking the cable car.

9. Tunnel Exploration

Deep below the streets of Cape Town, there is a series of forgotten underground canals and rivers that date back to the 17th Century, that were used to supply passing ships with fresh water.  Now the ‘in’ thing to do is to don a hard hat and go explore them yourself with a qualified guide and a professional rescue medic.

10. Cape Town Stadium Tours

Built specifically for the 2010 World Cup, the Cape Town Stadium at Green Point is now an iconic image of the Cape Town skyline.  Enjoy an hour long tour around this, learning more about the construction and get to see the field close up.  You may even get to see the shower rooms…

Stadium

Images copyright Springbok Atlas/Travel Butlers via Dreamstime

Travelling with a Child to South Africa

TraceyCampbell - June 1, 2015

Today, the long awaited (or rather should I say much dreaded) new regulations for anyone travelling with a child under 18 years of age to and from South Africa comes into force and in case you have missed these all important changes, here is a summary of what you can now expect at Immigration at Johannesburg, Cape Town or Durban/King Shaka Airports.

Please note that these requirements apply regardless of nationality.

Parents travelling with children  must produce an unabridged birth certificate for the child, showing full details of the child’s parents. If the birth certificate is in a language other than English, it must be accompanied by a sworn translation issued by a competent authority in the country concerned. If the child is adopted, the adoption certificate must be produced.

If only one parent is travelling, said parent must also show consent in the form of an affidavit from the other parent named on the birth certificate authorising the child to travel (the affidavit must be no more than 3 months old from the date of travel), or a court order granting full parental responsibilities to the travelling parent, or (where applicable) a death certificate for the deceased parent. Legally separated parents should also provide a court order when the other parent does not give consent.

Where a person is travelling with a child who is not their biological child, he/she must produce an unabridged birth certificate for the child supplemented by affidavits from the child’s parents/legal guardian giving consent for the child to travel and copies of the identity documents or passport of the parents/legal guardian PLUS their contact details. There are also additional rules for unaccompanied minors – available on request.

An unaccompanied child has to produce an unabridged birth certificate or equivalent document, a Parental Consent Affidavit, a  letter from the person who is to receive the child in South Africa containing such person’s residential and work address and full contact details in SA, and finally a copy of the identity document or valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the child in SA.

Additional notes:

It goes without saying that valid passports are also required for travel!

An Unabridged Birth Certificate is an extract from the Birth Register containing the particulars of the child and his/her parent or parents.

In the case of foreign countries that do not issue unabridged birth certificates, a letter to this effect issued by the competent authority of the foreign country should be produced. A suggested format for such an equivalent document is available at: http://www.dha.gov.za/files/EquivalentDocumentForeignGov.pdf

All documents must be original or copies certified as a true copy of the original by a commissioner of oaths or the equivalent commissioning authority, should commissioners of oath not be a practice in the country concerned.

For more information, contact the South African High Commission (http://southafricahouseuk.com/) or the South African Department of Home Affairs (http://www.dha.gov.za/).

PLEASE NOTE: Travel Butlers have made every effort to ensure that the information displayed here is correct and accurate, but the onus still remains with the traveller to verify the information with their local South African High Commission or Embassy.

Why we Recommend Travel Insurance

TraceyCampbell - February 18, 2015

Insurance is always a bit of a grey area and a lot of people resent having to pay for it, but you are just programmed or conditioned by society and your upbringing to do so.

You tend to accept that you have to fork out for home insurance and contents insurance, even though relatively very few people over the course of their home ownership make a claim. You also accept that you are more at risk if you own a car in something happening to it, whether it is your fault or someone else’s fault, so you will automatically take out car insurance – whether it is just third party or fully comprehensive.

So why are we not ‘programmed’ in the same way when it comes to taking out travel insurance?

As a matter of course, we always advise our customers, whether it is in the first email we send out and certainly when we are asking for a deposit payment, to take out travel insurance before they confirm any booking with us, to cover them in the event of being unable to travel – for whatever reason. Because if you do have to cancel your holiday once you have paid your deposit or balance, you will unfortunately lose some money – the percentage lost depends on how close to the travel date you cancel. And we are not alone in this – all tour operators, travel agents, airlines, guest house and hotels will operate similar cancellation policies.

A holiday is generally one of the more significant household expenditures in a year. Not only in terms of the cost, but also in terms of the time you have maybe saved up for it, or the time you have spent looking forward to it. Unfortunately, nothing in life is 100% certain, and although you have your flight tickets and holiday vouchers in your hands, nobody can actually guarantee that you will be able to go on the trip until you are physically sat on the plane! So basically, having to cancel your holiday means that all your hard-earned cash just gone down the drain, with no holiday memories or photos to show for it.

So for example, what if, the day before you were due to depart, you tripped over the cat and fell down the stairs? Or your car was hit from behind by a driver texting on their phone, and you suffered bad whiplash? These are not scenarios anyone thinks will ever happen to them (especially if they live in a bungalow or do not own a cat, I give you that), but you get my general point – ANYTHING could happen to you which would mean you simply cannot go on that holiday. Other common reasons for people having to cancel holidays are being called for jury service, finding out they are pregnant, a family bereavement, an illness, redundancy…there are many things that you would not plan to happen, but which could.

This is why we would always recommend just considering that additional peace of mind offered by a reputable travel insurance company and associated travel cover. A good travel insurance policy will cover you for having to cancel or even cutting short a trip under certain circumstances and therefore, if you lose any money at all by having to cancel (as long as the reason is indeed covered by the travel insurance), you should be able to claim this back against the travel insurance cover. And certainly at Travel Butlers, we will provide supporting documentation for you to send onto your insurance company, to help the claim go through smoothly and quickly.

Travel insurance will also cover you if you fall ill while actually away – while your credit card cover or private health cover may well offer some help, the level of cover may not always be sufficient – an emergency abroad that requires hospital treatment can be incredibly expensive. And if you need to be flown home immediately, the costs keep going up and up.

You can purchase travel insurance for just one trip, or if you are planning on having several holidays (or even one major holiday and a couple of long weekend breaks) over the course of 12 months, you can consider a multi-trip/annual cover, so every trip you make over a year is covered.

Before you rush out and purchase your travel insurance, do shop around for the best deal BUT remember that the less expensive policies often have less cover – so always read the small print carefully before you buy anything!