Tailor-made Holidays

Tailor-made Holidays

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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

The Return Of The £100 Per Person Deposit!

Paul Campbell - September 27, 2019

South Africa continues to offer outstanding value for money to visitors who are looking to explore the bustling heart of cosmopolitan Cape Town, discover new favourites on a tour of the winelands, or  track the Big 5 on the safari of a lifetime in the Greater Kruger Park.

As well a a breathtaking range of world-class places to visit, South Africa boasts a vast choice of safari lodges, accommodation and transport options to meet all tastes and budgets. Holidays In South Africa With Deposits From Just £100 per person To give you an example of the range of properties available, in the Kruger area there are lodges such as Shindzela and Gomo Gomo that offer a safari including game drives, accommodation and all meals for around £150 per person per night, however if you have the budget and nothing but the best will do, Singita Ebony Lodge will set you back over £1500 per person per night.  Not sure how to choose between different lodges to make sure you get the best experience for your trip?  The team at Travel Butlers have been specialising in safari holidays to South Africa sionce 2003, and we would be delighted to help you choose the right lodge and itinerary for your perfect trip.

To make this wonderful and diverse country even more appealing, Travel Butlers is running a special offer with deposits starting from only £100 per person on new bookings for accommodation and road transport in South Africa.

This offer will automatically be applied to qualifying bookings, and you can get some inspiration for your own trip on our South Africa holiday pages.

The offer is valid for new bookings confirmed before 30 November 2018, and the balance will be due 60 days before travel as per our usual terms and conditions.

The £100 deposit per person (or equivalent amount in USD, EUR or ZAR) will secure your safari lodge, hotel bookings and road transport in South Africa. There may be a few exceptions for larger group bookings and particular properties that require a larger deposit, and if you would like to book international or other scheduled flights with us, we’ll need to confirm the prices and payment terms for these at the time of booking as these are set by the airlines.

So what are you waiting for?  Give us a call or get in touch via the website, and we can start to plan an amazing trip to South Africa for you with a deposit of only £100 per person!

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Travel Money Tips For South Africa

Paul Campbell - September 25, 2019

We are heading off to South Africa in a couple of weeks to do some site inspections of safari lodges in the north of the country (Madikwe, The Waterberg, and Kruger Park), and as we are often asked for some guidance on obtaining foreign currency I thought I’d share my findings as I look for the best rate for South African Rand for our trip.


Disclaimer
The opinions here are based on my own research and around 35 years’ experience of independent travel (wow…I’m getting old!).  This blog does not constitute financial advice.  All tips are followed at your own risk and should be followed up with your own research.

Travel Butlers Ltd are not affiliated with any of the websites or financial services providers that I link to in this blog, and we are not responsible for any of the content on the sites that we link to.


The changing market
Withdrawal South African Rand From The ATMThings have changed so much over the years regarding the best way to deal with foreign currency when travelling, as anyone who can remember when travellers cheques were the only real alternative to getting cash from the bank or bureau de change will confirm.

In fact, I was part way through writing that last sentence when I realised I was not even sure if travellers cheques are still a thing…it turns out that they are, and whilst they do offer some advantages I think that the fact they are not widely accepted and have handling, commission and cashing-in fees mean they are nowhere near as popular as they were.  Personally, I don’t think I’ve used them since the 1980s, and cannot really imagine a circumstance where I would use them in the future.

I would also not use my regular credit card, bank or airport/high street bureau de change as these do not offer as attractive rates as I can find elsewhere.  Pre-paid currency cards, challenger banks, and online currency ordering services will all provide better rates than high street banks and bureau de change.

Card Payments
Whilst contactless is not as widely used for small transactions in Africa as it is in Europe, major credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, lodges, shops and restaurants.  This greatly reduces the need to carry large amounts of cash, and specialist currency cards offer better exchange rates than the cards from bigger high-street banks.  Most UK credit cards will charge a non-sterling transaction fee of around 3% in addition to cash withdrawal fees and interest charges, and using a specialist currency card will save on these fees making them the best option for card payments whilst abroad.

For card payments you have two options – a specialist currency credit card (where you may incur interest charges) or a debit card (where you must have the funds already in your account).

Credit Card Payments Are Widely Accepted In South AfricaMoneysavingexpert.com has a review of specialist currency credit cards, including Halifax Clarity, Tandem and others.  These will give you good exchange rates on card transactions but you’ll need to pay them off in full each month to avoid paying interest on card purchases, and they can charge high rates of interest on ATM transactions.  As the rates are calculated at the time you make the transaction, you will not know the GBP cost of your spending until it has been processed by the bank.

Prepaid debit cards allow you to load money in GBP sterling (and sometimes in other currencies) and then spend overseas at attractive exchange rates without additional charges.  Prepaid debit cards also allow withdraws from overseas ATMs at better exchange rates and with lower fees and no interest charges.  Cards include FairFX, Caxton, Revolut, and WeSwap, and you can see a comparison of multi-currency prepaid cards at moneysupermarket.com.    Whilst you do have to make sure you have money in your account for the pre-paid debit cards, they can allow you to convert money from GBP into the currency you require in advance of your trip, and this means you can lock in the exchange rate and know what everything is costing as you spend it.

Cash
South African Rand notes and coins.I have found that the best option for cash is either to use a specialist foreign currency card at an ATM whilst abroad, or pre-order money for delivery or collection.

In the UK, there is a useful tool at Moneysavingexert.com which allows you to compare rates for a wide range of different suppliers for delivery to your home or office, or pick up from a local collection point or from the airport.  It is important to note that whilst some of the companies featured here may be familiar, the rates shown are only available if you pre-order the currency from them online or over the phone.  It is also worth noting that most internet currency suppliers will make a small charge for delivery of smaller amounts…you can avoid this if you can collect it from then or order a larger amount.

The prepaid debit cards mentioned earlier allow you to load money in GBP sterling and then withdraw from overseas ATMs at very attractive exchange rates.  In my experience, rates for ATM withdrawals using a prepaid debit cards are typically 4-5% better than pre-ordering from the internet, and up to 9% better than a high-street or airport bureau de change.

What Do I do?
I have a Revolut card and use this for both card payments overseas and cash withdrawals from ATMs.  This means I avoid the non-sterling transaction charges and get a good exchange rate for card payments whilst away. ATM withdrawals in both the UK and overseas are free up to £200 per month, however there is a charge of 2% for ATM withdrawals above £200 per month.

Looking at the rates available today for South African Rand, Revolut is offering nearly 5% more for my money than the best of the internet pre-orders, and nearly 10% more than the worst of the high-street suppliers I looked at.  Of course the downside is that I do not have a South African Rand ATM where I am, so I cannot get cash at that rate right at this moment…

As I will be a bit pushed for time on arrival in South Africa for the upcoming trip, I do not want to waste time finding an ATM when I get there.  Given this I have decided to order a small amount of cash online to see me through the first few days, and then I will use my Revolut card for payments and ATM transactions as necessary.

Revolut is managed via a mobile App, meaning that if I need more Rand when I am away I can top up the card from my phone.  Any unused Rand on the card at the end of my trip can be converted back to sterling and sent back to my main bank account.

Would I recommend you do what I do?
No – not because should shouldn’t do what I do, but because I am not qualified to offer financial advice and I do not claim to have perfect knowledge of all the services available. What works for me may not be right for you!

As mentioned earlier, this is not an advertorial and we are not affiliated with any of the websites or financial services providers mentioned in this blog.  One of the key reasons I use Revolut rather than one of the other providers is that they allow me to load my account with other currencies such as USD, EUR, and ZAR.  This is useful to me as we have clients pay us in a range of currencies, however if I did not need this facility then I may well have gone with one of the other providers.

The £200 per month limit on free ATM withdrawals with Revolut is a bit of a pain (although other debit cards have a similar rule), and you should also be aware that Revolut is a financial technology (FinTech) company and clients’ money is not currently covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.  They do have safeguards in place, however I tend to only keep relatively low amounts in the account at any one time.

Andersson’s at Ongava

Paul Campbell - June 27, 2019

Having just opened in mid April this year, Andersson’s at Ongava, has already made quite the impression and it’s easy to understand why. Originally a farmstead, the lodge has been transformed into an exquisite mix of luxury, colours and textures connecting guests to the landscape around them.

Andersson’s has 7 luxury guest suites and one family unit, accommodating 18 guests in total. Each suite is a combination of natural elements and luxurious amenities that reflect the surrounding environment. Watch the sunset on another day from your private viewing deck with its 180 degree views, or have a read of some published papers, journals and digital archives to further your ever growing knowledge.

Each suite has a superby fitted en-suite bathroom, with both a double indoor and outdoor shower.

As the name suggests, the camp is located on the Ongava Private Reserve, one of the largest private concessions in Namiba, which shares a border with the Etosha National Park.  All game drives take place in the Etosha National Park itself – a 22,000 square km of unrivalled game viewing opportunites, and home to 114 different species of mammal, including 4 of Africa’s famous Big 5 – lion, elephant, rhino and leopard.

Rhino tracking on foot is one of the activities that you can enjoy on the concession as part of your African adventure during your stay. An underground photographic hide also provides the perfect spot to get ‘eye to eye’ shots of the wildife as they wander nearby.

In addition, the Ongava Research Centre is a short walk away from the lodge, and provides the opportunity for guests to see firsthand the vital work that takes place here by meeting the researchers, conservationists and rhino security personnel.

The main lodge area is where guests can meet up to chat over their day’s adventures. A spacious lounge and bar area means you are never on top of anyone else, and you can choose where to dine – at either the undercover or the open-air dining room.  An infinity pool overlooks a waterhole, often frequented by wildlife during the day who come to quench their thirst.

If you want to check your many photos, there is also a dedicated photographic ‘nook’ where you can review your shots and edit as necessary – and the complimentary Wi-Fi means you can upload any to your social media accounts and make family and friends back home very jealous!

We cannot wait to visit this lodge ourselves!

South Africa and Antarctica: The Ultimate Trip To The Wild South

Paul Campbell - May 24, 2019

An exciting new 10 day itinerary has just been announced that combines an outstanding 5* safari experience at Singita with a couple of days in Cape Town (the Mother City), and to top it all off, a journey to one of the most remote places on earth, Antarctica.

With just one set departure date announced so far for November 2019, your unforgettable journey begins on 12th November with a flight from Johannesburg to the iconic Kruger National Park, where you will spend 4 nights at either Singita Lebombo or Sweni Lodge. Both lodges are located in the private Lebombo Concession, which is on the eastern side of the Park, bordering Mozambique.  The area boasts beautiful scenery and excellent game viewing, including the Big 5, large populations of antelope and diverse birdlife to go with it. Twice-daily game drives in open 4×4 safari vehicles get you unbelievably close to Africa’s wildlife in a natural, untamed setting.

Singita Lion

Singita Lebombo is elevated on a sheer cliff top and has 15 luxurious glass cuboid suites, each with incredible views of the Nwanetsi and Sweni Rivers, along with the surrounding savanna plains. The more intimate Singita Sweni has just 7 secluded suites and is set on the bank of the Sweni River, surrounded by trees with views of the African bush.

After your stay at Singita, the journey continues south down to Cape Town, where you will spend 2 nights at the prestigious One&Only Cape Town. With its spectacular location in the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and stunning views of Table Mountain, the resort is a destination in itself.

One&Only Cape Town View

During your stay here, enjoy the bustling V&A with its many shops and attractions, take a trip to the top of the magnificent Table Mountain, or simply retreat to the peaceful sanctuary of the One&Only Spa – located on its own private island the Spa has an extensive range of classic and exclusive holistic spa treatments which your therapist will tailor perfectly to your needs.

In the evenings, enjoy a selection of the most celebrated vinicultural and dining experiences at one of the excellent restaurants and bars that the One&Only is famed for.

On the 17th you will be invited to a comprehensive safety briefing, hosted by your tour leaders, who will make sure you have all the correct clothing and ensure you are fully prepared for your journey further south the next day.

Finally, the last leg of this incredible journey takes you to Antarctica, where you will spend 5 nights at Whichaway Camp, the perfect place from which to explore this region and its wonders. The camp itself has 6 state-of-the-art sleeping pods that can accommodate up to 12 guests.  There is also a communal lounge, dining room and kitchen.

Whichaway Camp

While most of us have only ever seen this unique continent and its remarkable wildlife on a TV screen, this is your chance to discover all that it can offer. Experience a true wildlife spectacle, as the Emperor Penguin colonies prepare for their chicks to hatch, hike and explore the blue-ice tunnels with your polar guide, venture out to the local science bases to see the work they do firsthand, and if you’re feeling truly adventurous, why not try out some ice climbing.

Emperor Penguins

The package includes return Federal Air flights between OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg and Singita Kruger National Park; the flight from Johannesburg down to Cape Town; airport meet and greet with transfers to/from the One&Only in Cape Town; and return flights from Cape Town International Airport to the Antarctic interior on a Gulfstream G550 jet. In addition, at Singita all meals and beverages (excluding French Champagne), daily game drives, walking safaris, Wi-Fi and a laundry service are included; at One&Only your rate includes daily breakfast at Reuben’s plus use of the Spa Thermal Suites; and at White Desert all meals and beverages are included plus all excursions and a visit to the 6,000 strong Emperor Penguin Colony at Atka Bay by a DC3 Basler flight.

This true ‘journey of a lifetime’ starts from USD 67,000 per person – please contact one of the team at Travel Butlers on info@travelbutlers.com, quoting ‘Emperor Penguin’ and we will get back to you with a final quotation, including if required a quote for your international flights from your preferred airport.  With just 12 seats on this trip – don’t delay too long to get in touch!

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

Paul Campbell - 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.