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The Travel Butlers Blog

Elephants on the Move to Malawi

TraceyCampbell - July 5, 2016

500 elephants are being moved in Malawi in an attempt to preserve the current dwindling numbers – it is estimated that there are now fewer than 450,000 African elephants remaining, as a result of excessive poaching and habitat loss.  The exercise, a collaboration between African Parks and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, will be one of the biggest events ever to happen to Malawi’s wildlife Tourism.

Malawi have been very successful with their anti-poaching and ongoing management of human-wildlife conflict, which has resulted in a population surplus in Liwonde National Park (home to Malawi’s largest population of elephants at 800 strong) and Majete Wildlife Reserve, which are protected areas,

The huge relocation starts this week in Liwonde National Park.  Helicopters will be used to dart the elephants, who are then lifted by crane onto trucks to start their 300 km road journey to a newly created 16,000 hectare sanctuary at the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, close to Lake Malawi – which currently is home to 100 elephants.  The arriving elephants will be kept safe and secure in the sanctuary before being released, after time, into the main reserve.  There are also plans to relocate other wildlife into the reserve, to  build up the wildlife here again.

This is an extremely hopeful story for not only elephants, but for conservation and also for Malawi. Kelly While from Malawi Tourism says “We are delighted with African Parks’ plans to relocate and reintroduce species into Malawi’s Parks. If Malawi had a perceived weakness in tourism terms, it was that some of its neighbours offered a ‘better’ safari experience. But, as well as helping to safeguard the future for these magnificent animals, these developments will result in a total transformation of Malawi’s wildlife and safaris. Malawi will become one of the most complete destinations in Africa – Lake, Landscape, Culture and now Wildlife experiences of the very highest quality. Warm, welcoming and unspoilt, Malawi really is just waiting to be discovered.”

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-elephant-tusk-thick-skin-strong-image33022852

Shamwari Game Reserve Introduces K9 Tracking

PaulCampbell - June 20, 2016

With the continued increase of rhino poaching in South Africa, Shamwari Game Reserve have added what they describe as “K9 tracking capacity” to their Rhino Protection Unit.

Now to geeks of a certain age this will have conjured up images of Doctor Who’s robotic dog from the 1970’s going into battle with the poachers, however the dog in question is actually an 18 months old Belgian Shepherd called Blade.

© Gillrivers | Dreamstime.com - K-9 Photo

© Gillrivers | Dreamstime.com – K-9 Photo

Blade was identified as being the ideal candidate for the role as Shamwari by the Chipembere Rhino Foundation (CRF), who have successfully supplied trained dogs for rhino protection elsewhere in South Africa during 2014 and 2015. He was trained off site before moving to Shamwari  in April to finish his training with handler, Cabous Pretorius, and he has also had to adapt to living and working in a challenging Big Five environment – which he has done perfectly.

Shamwari Group General Manager, Joe Cloete comments that “Blade will be a valuable asset in the fight against rhino poaching and will primarily be utilised to locate and apprehend rhino poachers.  We sincerely thank the Chipembere Rhino Foundation for arranging Blade to come and work at Shamwari Game Reserve.”

Blade started work at Shamwari following completion of his final exams at the end of May, and we wish him and Cabous every success in the fight against rhino poaching.

Shamwari Game Reserve Introduces K9 Tracking

Shamwari Game Reserve Introduces K9 Tracking

No such thing as a safari on a budget? Think again.

PaulCampbell - March 27, 2016

Mention the words ‘bucket list’ to almost anyone and if they haven’t done it already it’s highly likely that an African safari will feature somewhere on their list. That said, there is a common misconception that private safaris are a privilege of only the wealthy and although it’s true that in the context of a private safari holiday ‘cheap’ is a relative term, the truth is you won’t have to re-mortgage your house to make the dream a reality.

When it comes to perfect safari destinations in Africa, you are never short of choices, but for a truly affordable private safari option we think South Africa is a great place to start. Travel critics have been heaping awards on South Africa as one of the world’s best travel destinations and for good reason; this is a country guaranteed to get under your skin from the moment you arrive. With the added bonus of favourable exchange rates and no jet lag to worry about there really are few places better to experience your first safari adventure.

Now if you think a safari on a budget means you’ll be slumming it then think again. We’ve done a round up of some of the very best private safari destinations in South Africa for travellers on a budget.

ShindzelaBest Tented Safari Experience

Shindzela Tented Safari Camp is set in the Timbavati Game Reserve and offers an affordable Kruger safari experience, without compromising on excitement and thrills. There is something enchanting about staying in a tent on safari.  For an extra charge real wildlife junkies can book a ‘Sleep Out’ experience at the Shindzela Hide overlooking the Main Dam at Shindzela.  From here you can soak up the magic of the African night and enjoy front row seats from which to witness breath-taking night action.

Prices start from £79 per person per night, including all meals, tea/coffee and shared safari activities.

Africa on FootBest Alternative Safari

For a true wilderness experience few things beat a walking safari. Situated in Klaserie Private Nature Reserve in the heart of Greater Kruger, Africa on Foot  specialises in walking safaris. Sharing unfenced borders with Kruger National Park means animals roam freely. Some of Africa’s most superb predators are found here and there is nothing more thrilling than walking in the open where a feeling of being in the wild is ever-present.  The more adventurous can book a stay in a treehouse at no extra cost.

Prices start from £115 per person per night, including all meals, tea/coffee, game walks and shared drives.

9e-nThambo-Tree-Camp-accommodation13Best for Romance

To escape the realities of daily life and immerse yourself in the true spirit of Africa look no further that nThambo Tree Camp.  Situated in the heart of Southern Klaserie, this intimate and eco-friendly camp shares unfenced borders with Kruger National Park, making it prime Big Five viewing territory. Each of its five private chalets are raised on stilts and come complete with a four poster bed and private veranda overlooking the plains; the perfect escape for those seeking romance and adventure.

Prices start from £132 per person per night, including all meals, tea/coffee, game walks and morning/afternoon shared game drives (prices valid for the whole of 2016).

Garonga Safari Camp2 - CopyrightFINALBest for Honeymoons

Honeymooners looking for an exhilarating and alternative way to kick start married life should look no further than Garonga Safari Camp. Set in the Makalali Conservancy, this unassuming sanctuary promises a more intimate wildlife encounter in an unhurried environment. Its luxury tents each have a wooden deck complete with hammock and spectacular views.  For a truly unique experience enjoy a bath in the bush followed by a night sleeping under the stars!

Prices start at £170 per person per night, including all meals and drinks (house wine), game drives, bush walks, bush baths, sleep-outs, picnics and even your laundry!

SONY DSCBest ‘Out of Africa’ Experience

If you want to reconnect with nature and experience the real magic of Africa then Umlani Bushcamp is for you. Located in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve and the heart of Big Five territory, this beautifully designed eco lodge is off the grid and the beaten track of tourists that flock to Kruger. For exclusive tranquillity there is a tree house about 2.5 km from the camp overlooking a dam, where the lodge can leave you for an hour or two with blankets, big comfortable pillows and a cooler box filled with drinks.

Prices start from £129 per person per night, including all meals, two private game drives, optional bush walk and all local brand drinks.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-fun-outdoor-children-playing-image26170490Best Family Safari

Forget Disney World and consider a family safari adventure, such as an authentic bushveld experience at Gomo Gomo Game Lodge. This laid-back, family-friendly lodge overlooks a waterhole, so when you’re not out in search of the Big Five you can sit and watch your kids faces light up with excitement as animals come to drink here.  You might even be lucky enough to see the odd baby elephant frolicking by the water’s edge.

Prices start from £97 per person per night (adult), including all meals, tea/coffee, morning and afternoon/evening shared game drives and bush walks.  Children under 13 go half price.

Has this got you thinking that a safari could be for you? If so our friendly and knowledgeable team is on hand to chat to you about planning the ultimate African adventure!

 

Double the fun or double the trouble? Five tips for planning the perfect family safari.

PaulCampbell - March 13, 2016

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-fun-outdoor-children-playing-image26170490As much as documentaries such as Big Cat Diaries may inspire you to want to see the real thing, parents often dismiss the idea of a safari with nippers in tow because of concerns about safety, enjoyment and the general hassle factor. So is it possible to embark on a family safari holiday that is rewarding and enjoyable for all involved? Well we believe it is and done right the whole family will be buzzing from their bush adventures for years to come.

Safaris really are a holiday like no other and just like us big kids, your little kids will go totally wild for the wildlife.  Nothing can prepare you for the real thing and watching their little faces beaming with excitement and hearing their gasps of sheer amazement at the sights and sounds of the bush makes for double the adventure and double the fun.  Not only that, there’s a huge amount for kids to learn, from identifying animal tracks and dung to understanding the habits and appreciating the plight of the wildlife in Africa.  This makes for a unique educational experience where storybooks will literally come alive before their very eyes.

So if you think a family safari is for you here are our five dos and don’ts for planning the perfect adventure.

Lalibela Game Reserve - Mark's Camp - CopyrightFINAL1. DO your research

When it comes to safaris some lodges have strict minimum age requirements so be sure to check that the lodges on your wish list cater for children.  Across South Africa, there are a number of safari lodges that offer excellent programmes for kids so while you take a well deserved break by the pool between game drives, your children can set off on ‘bush bumbles’ that will get eyes popping and set minds spinning.

 

 Amakhala Sunset2. DON’T risk malaria

South Africa is, without doubt, the best place for young families; there is no jet lag to slow you down, the roads are excellent meaning you can self-drive and set your own pace and, most importantly, a number of the country’s ‘Big Five’ game reserves are malaria free so you won’t have to worry about malaria medication and can take the odd mosquito bite in your stride.

 

Lalibela Game Reserve - Mark's Camp - CopyrightFINAL23. DO know when enough is enough

As well as adjusting to the new routine of early morning and late afternoon game drives, safaris require long periods of silent anticipation.  For children under the age of ten we advise three days’ safari action, providing plenty of opportunity to immerse yourselves in the magic of big game spotting without seeing the excitement fade and turn to boredom.  A combined safari and beach holiday could strike the perfect balance.

 

FamilySafaris-Shamwari-CopyrightFINAL4. DO get on their wavelength

Build up the excitement through books and wildlife documentaries.  As mentioned, many lodges offer specially designed kids programmes with activities that are both educational and entertaining, from bush walks to junior tracking courses and themed bush picnics in between. Traditional folklore storytelling about ‘Why The Elephant Has A Trunk’ or ‘Why The Warthog Is So Ugly’ add to the fun.  Depending on age a pair of binoculars and/or a camera will let them get fully immersed in capturing the moment.

 

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-southern-right-sailing-1-3-image16316165. DON’T forget the other treats that South Africa has to offer

High on the ‘must see’ list of any visitor to South Africa is a trip along the Garden Route.   If you think this is only for the green-fingered holiday makers among us think again.  The Garden Route followed by a Big Five safari is a winning combination for families.   From shore-based whale and dolphin spotting to close encounters of a furry kind at Monkeyland and meeting elephants at Addo National Park, a trip along this stunning stretch of coastline is a feast for the eyes and perfect for a family adventure.

 

If you need help choosing a lodge or would like advice on planning your family adventure, our friendly and experienced team can help.

 

Ten reasons to start planning a trip to Namibia

PaulCampbell - February 28, 2016

Namibia is a country like no other place on earth. It has vast open spaces, dramatic landscapes and some of the most beautiful night skies you’re ever like to encounter. There are many reasons why a trip to Namibia should be on everybody’s list of things to do at least once in a lifetime, here are ten of them:

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-busy-dune-image20744641.      Magical desert dunes

The magical dunes of Sossusvlei glow a rich red in the early morning light.

If you’re feeling adventurous get up early, take lots of water and climb 170-metres to the top of the immense Dune 45. It’s a tough climb but immensely rewarding; watching a sunrise over the desert dunes is a moment that will stay with you forever.

 

Sossusvlei-and-the-Namib-Desert2.      Dramatic scenery

Close to the affectionately named “Big Daddy” dune (at 325-metres, the tallest in the Sossusvlei area) is a surreal, part post-apocalyptic, part Daliesque scene.  The bright white clay pan, dotted with tree skeletons scorched black by the sun sit in stark contrast to the rich azure skies.  Dead Vlei is a photographer’s paradise.  The dried acacia trees, estimated to be 600 years old, are perfectly preserved thanks to the persistent dry heat of the desert.

 

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-rock-engravings-twyfelfontein-namibia-image247707993.      Traditional culture

Namibia provides plenty of opportunities to meet locals who still live a traditional lifestyle.

In northern Namibia a visit to a Himba settlement is a must, while the Living Museum of the Damara, situated close to the famous Twyfelfontein rock engravings site, provides an opportunity to experience traditional culture in a way that exists nowhere else in the world.

 

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-fish-river-canyon-namibia-image167896034.      Spectacular views

Situated between the Namib and Kalahari deserts, Fish River Canyon might not be the easiest place to get to, but those who make the trip will be well rewarded.  As a result of its physical isolation the place feels magical and quiet – its likely you’ll have the place almost entirely to yourself as there are rarely more than two or three cars at any viewing point at any one time.

 

DrivingNamibia5.      Romance

If you’re looking to get away from it all and reconnect Namibia is the place of romance and once-in-a-lifetime adventures.

Getting behind the wheel and setting out on the open roads of Africa on a self-drive safari is an incredibly romantic notion for many people, and there is no better place to experience this than in Namibia.

 

NamibiaTracks&Trails-CopyrightFINAL6.      Sense of space and freedom

Namibia is one of the least densely populated countries in the world, with only two people to every kilometre.

Lodges look out across vast plains and have wooden decks where you can sit in silence with no modern-day distractions, just uninterrupted views.

 

LittlePrince-Dreamstime-CopyrightFINAL7.      Excellent game viewing

Home to some excellent private reserves, the vast arid space of Etosha National Park serves as a backdrop for the plentiful wildlife that call it home.

Namibia also contains some of Africa’s largest private reserves and top conservation experiences.

 

Elephant herd8.      Desert-dwelling elephants

Namibia’s starkly beautiful Damaraland is home to one of the world’s few populations of desert-adapted elephants.

Smaller than regular elephant, these herds are constantly on the move and during the dry season they can be seen digging for water with their trunks.

 

Namibia - Gemsbok at sunset9. Breath-taking sunsets

Seeing an African sunset should be on everyone’s list of things to experience at least once in a lifetime and Namibian sunsets will literally take your breath away.

Watching the Namib Desert at dusk is like stepping into a picture; the technicolour skies glowing a variety pinks, reds, oranges and yellows in stark contrast to the orange and purple mountains.

 

LittleKulala-CopyrightFINAL10. Stargazing

The Namib Desert is free from light pollution making it ideal for stargazing.  Wrap up warm under the bright blaze of the Milky Way and count shooting stars.  Many of the lodges have telescopes and offer astronomy talks, pointing out the various constellations.  One even offers ‘sky beds’ for anyone wishing to sleep under the stars!

 

Where to stay:

Sand Dunes, Stargazing & Romance Little Kulala, an oasis in the middle of the Namib Desert is the perfect base for stargazing and quite possibly the most romantic place on earth.

Escape from Reality – taking the term ‘getting away from it all’ to a whole new level, Wolwedens Dune Camp offers visitors the opportunity to forget life’s stresses, kick-back, relax and explore vast stretches of awe-inspiring and undisturbed nature.

Fish River Canyon – a short drive from the main viewing point, Canyon Lodge is an oasis seemingly in the middle of nowhere.

Etosha National Park – enjoy views of the bush and waterhole from the comfort of your own veranda at Ongava Tented Camp.

Himba Settlement – located in the extreme north-west of Namibia, Serra Cafema Camp  is probably the most remote camp in Southern Africa and one of the best locations from which to interact with Himba people.

Damaraland & Desert-dwelling ElephantsMowani Mountain Camp is a firm favourite for exploring Damaraland and spotting the rare black rhino and desert-dwelling elephant.

Conservation Experience –  situated halfway between Windhoek and Ethosha National Park, Okonjima is home of the AfriCat Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the conservation and welfare of Namibia’s wild predators, especially cheetahs and leopards.  Stay at Okonjima Plains Camp.

Does Namibia sound like your kind of place?  If so, why not chat to our friendly and knowledgeable team about planning your ultimate Namibian adventure?

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