Tailor-made Holidays

Tailor-made Holidays

Travel Butlers will ensure you have a fantastic holiday that is tailored to your individual interests and budget.

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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African Safari And Beach Holiday News.

The Travel Butlers Blog

Frequently Asked Questions – Is It Safe?

TraceyCampbell - October 17, 2013

If I had a pound for every time we were asked this, or indeed for every time this question pops up on the Trip Advisor South Africa forum, I would not be sitting here typing my travel blog, I would have taken early retirement and be living it up on my private island in the Caribbean!

Seriously, however, we do appreciate that safety is everyone’s main concern, wherever you travel to on holiday. Nobody wants to spend their much needed break constantly feeling they have to watch their backs!

We have literally just been asked this question only this morning, by a client who is about to book a 10 night self-drive trip in South Africa, starting in Cape Town and going along the Garden Route, and ending with a safari in the Eastern Cape – which has prompted me to write this quick blog.

The simple answer to the question is yes, it is safe!

This route is probably THE most popular tourist route in South Africa, and we at Travel Butlers literally send hundreds of people along this route every year.  The main road right along the route is the N2, which is a good highway – well maintained, straight and always busy.  I have driven this road and route on my own (as a female) many times, and I have driven it with just my mother, and also with just my husband, and have never had any problems whatsoever.

There are just a few sensible rules to follow when driving in South Africa, which I would say to everyone:

Don’t stop to pick up hitchhikers, however lost and sweet they may look – but then again, I would advise this to anyone driving in the UK, New Zealand or Spain and France too – anywhere actually!

Don’t drive after dark – not because of any hidden dangers lurking in the night, but purely because livestock such as cows are generally not fenced in very well, and there is nothing more scary than bombing along a road and suddenly a cow steps out in front of you.  It may make a bit of a mess of your front bumper…not to mention the rest of your car.

Don’t speed – there are hidden speed cameras plus the police have a sneaky habit of hiding in ditches and pointing speed guns at cars – a speeding fine is an extra cost that you can do without.

And finally, when you get to your destination, always take the advice of your hotel/guest house hosts about where to go in the evenings, and whether you should take a taxi to the restaurant or whether it is OK to walk – and if they say take a taxi, ask them to book the taxi for you there and back, as they will know the reliable taxi people to use.

 

Fenced or Not Fenced – that is the question

TraceyCampbell - October 16, 2013

A very common phrase that you will see when you are searching for your South African safari is the term ‘fenced reserve’.

But what exactly does this mean? For those not in the travel industry, it may seem like an extra word that has just been added to the description of the reserve, to fill out the page.  Surely everywhere has to have a fence somewhere?

Technically, yes, in South Africa every game reserve or National Park does have a fence, even Kruger and it’s neighbouring private reserves.  Somewhere along the border, there will be a fenceline that will act as a deterent to the wildlife, to stop them leaving the safe sanctuary of the reserve/Park and wandering off to visit local villages.

However, in Kruger, you are talking of an area that covers over 2 million hectares (for those reading this in the UK that is about the size of Wales (minus the sheep); for those in the States this is somewhere between the size of Conneticut and New Jersey; and for those in the rest of Europe, it is about the size of Slovenia).  So the chances of spending your entire game drive looking at a fence is fairly low, as with so much land to cover why would you?

Fenced reserves is a term therefore that is used for smaller reserves, and that is where it does actually have some significance.

For example, in the Eastern Cape, all the reserves are fenced, and in the Kruger area, you have a couple of fenced reserves, such as Kapama and Thornybush.  This is because these reserves are all independently owned, so therefore the owners have to firstly differentiate their land from their neighbours, but more importantly, they have to keep their wildlife on their land too!  As a land/reserve owner, you certainly do not want your larger game such as elephant, rhino or lions wandering off to visit another reserve, so that your guests who pay to stay at your reserve don’t get to see them!  How annoying would that be!  Equally, you don’t want your pride of lions deciding to go for a wander through the local village!

Fenced reserves tend to range vastly in size – anything from 1,500 hectares up to 25,000 hectares and upwards.  Obviously, the larger the reserve, the more wildlife the area can sustain, but this will be reflected in the rates charged.

Larger reserves can also play ‘home’ to more predators, as they equally have the space to keep the plains game and buffalo that the predators will naturally hunt for food.  Get the balance between predators and their ‘food’ incorrect and you will have a reserve full of hungry lions and no buffalo!

I have spent many a happy game drive in a fenced reserve, and to be honest, I have had some wonderful game drives and game viewing experiences.  As long as you go to a fenced reserve knowing that you will not see a herd of a million wildebeest wandering across in front of your game vehicle, or expect to see 20 different prides of lions, then there really is no reason not to have a great safari experience in a fenced reserve.

Lusaka is still accessible!

TraceyCampbell - October 7, 2013

British Airways recently announced that they were stopping their direct London Heathrow to Lusaka, Zambia flight – the last flight departs Heathrow on the 25 October. However, this should not deter people from considering going to Zambia for their safari holiday, as you are missing out on a wonderful wildlife experience.  Not to mention the spectacular scenery, the opportunity to top or tail your trip to Victoria Falls, one of the 7 Wonders of the World, and for the more adventurous, the chance to do a 3-4 night walking safari into the bush, sleeping out under canvas with just the sounds of the wild to lull you to sleep.

You can still fly with BA or South African Airways direct to Johannesburg overnight, and then connect with a morning flight from Johannesburg onto Lusaka with South African Airlines, which is just 2 hours.  Currently, the flight from Johannesburg to Lusaka departs at 1030, and lands at 1230.

Otherwise, you can also consider flying with Emirates via Dubai and then onto Lusaka, or Kenya Airways via Nairobi and onto Lusaka.

KLM also offer a flight schedule via Amsterdam and Harare.

 

Driving In South Africa? These are not the droids you are looking for…

Paul Campbell - October 3, 2013

Driving in South Africs? These are not the droids you are looking for...

South Africa is a great destination for a fly/drive style holiday: From Cape Town and the Garden Route to driving around the Kruger National Park, the roads are generally in good condition, it is easy to get around, and the scenery can be spectacular.

There are a few things that visitors may find a little different from home. Some of these are unexpected pleasures such as petrol stations where you will have someone re-fuel your car, wash your windscreen and maybe check your oil, wheras others can be frustrating such as road signs that suddenly disappear or places that can be known by two or even three completely different names.

Given the erratic nature of the road signs, it is not uncommon that you may need to ask for directions at a petrol station or in a town, and if this happens you may be surprised to get the response “turn left at the next robot…”. You have not suddenly been transported into a Star Wars film:  a ‘robot’ is the South African term for traffic lights.

I’m sure we were not the first or last visitors to be disappointed that we were not taking directions from R2D2…so these are not the droids you are looking for.

Our extensive guide to driving in south africa will give you a good idea of what to expect if you are visiting on a self-drive holiday, and covers issues such as driving licences, road conditions, what to do if you get stopped for speeding, and some general tips for having a safe and happy holiday.

Travel Butlers Win Best Tour Operator At SATOA Awards

Paul Campbell - September 20, 2013

Tracey and Paul Campbell of Travel Butlers at the SATOA Awards.Travel Butlers were delighted to win Best Tour Operator at the 2013 SATOA Travel Awards.

Speaking after last night’s ceremony in central London, Paul Campbell of Travel Butlers said: “This is a really special award for us as it is voted for by the people who matter most to our business:our clients and our friends and colleagues in the travel industry.

“This is the second year running that we have been fortunate enough to win this award, and we would like to thank everyone who has helped us arrange such amazing holidays for our clients, and of course many thanks to everyone who voted for us.”

SATOA-Award-Winner-2013