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African Safari And Beach Holiday News.

The Travel Butlers Blog

Tips for Booking Botswana

TraceyCampbell - July 31, 2013

Botswana will surpass your wildest dreams of an authentic African wildlife experience. Rated as one of the best wildlife destinations in the world, Botswana covers an area of almost 600,000 square kilometres – virtually the same size as France or Texas.

If you are planning a holiday to Botswana, although deemed to be an all-year-round safari destination, when you go can affect your safari.  For example, the safari activities in the Okavango Delta are completely affected by the rainfall in Angola – so if your safari dream is to glide through the waterways in a mokoro, make sure you travel to the Delta when the floodplains do have water in them – so between end April and August are the best months.   Also make sure you choose a camp that does offer water-based activities – as some camps, given their location, only offer land-based game drives as they are not near a permanent water supply.

If you are on a budget, there are ways to make your money go further.  Travelling to Botswana during what is known as the Green Season (November to March) means you can take advantage of some of the fantastic low rates that many camps offer.  It is called the Green Season purely because everything is green – the bush is lush and thick, which whilst making a beautiful backdrop to any safari photographs, it does mean spotting the wildlife amongst the foliage is trickier.  Check

Remember that most camps in Botswana are only accessible by light aircraft.  If you believe in packing a different outfit for every day, you may need to rethink your wardrobe needs. as the luggage allowance on most of the flights is strictly 15 kg per person.  Your bag also needs to be soft and pliable as it needs to be squeezed into the small aircraft luggage hold.  So you will definately have to leave the Samsonite case at home for this trip.

If ou are looking for a real adventure, check out some of the mobile safari camps.  If camping in the bush in a 2-man dome tent (albeit it with a private bathroom still!), then take a look at the Botswana Explorer package – a 9 night exciting camping trip which ends at Victoria Falls.  Or if you want a little more space and luxury, there are AndBeyond’s Chobe Under Canvas and Savute Under Canvas.  The camps move to a different site every 5-6 days, ensuring that game drives constantly explore fresh areas.

Lastly, if you are a passport holder from the United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, France, Germany,  Spain or South Africa you do not need a Visa to enter Botswana, so one less thing to worry about or remember to do before you fly!   You will, however, need to take malaria precautions, so do contact your doctor or clinic around 4-8 weeks before your trip to get their advice.

Did you know? A is for Aardvark

TraceyCampbell - July 29, 2013

The aardvark – possibly one of the more elusive animals that you are likely to see on your African safari. If you want to see your ranger/guide grimace or have a look of fear cross his face, make sure you specifically say that seeing an aardvark would really make your safari dreams come true!

Here are 10 interesting facts that you may (or may not) already know about this burrowing, nocturnal animal that is native to Africa.  You never know, one of the facts may even come up in your local pub quiz one night.  Then how clever will you look!

1.  It is the only living species of the order Tubulidentata (a species uniquely identified by their teeth).

2.The name ‘aardvark’ comes from the Afrikaans for ‘earth pig’ or ‘ground pig’, because of its burrowing habits and its vague resemblance to – guess what – a pig.

3. It is also known as the African Antbear.

4. An aardvark’s tongue is up to 30 cm in length.

5. A hungry aardvark can catch as many as 50,000 insects in one night with it’s long, sticky tongue.

6. They live in burrows, and can dig a hole up to 2 feet in 15 seconds.

7. They can live up to 24 years.

8. When threatened by predators, they either dig a defensive burrow very fast fast or they run in a zigzag fashion. to try to elude their hunter.  Failing that, they will roll onto their back and attack with their claws, tails and shoulders.

9. The Egyptian God Set is said (by some) to have the head of an aardvark.

10. Aardvark is the second word in your English dictionary.

aardvark

 

Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Closed for Maintenance

PaulCampbell - July 26, 2013

The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway is now closed for maintenance until 25 August 2013…so if you want to get to the top of the mountain in the next four weeks you’ll have to walk!

The extended annual maintenance closure is essential to ensure the continued safe and effective use of the iconic attraction. The cableway will reopen on Monday, 26 August 2013, weather permitting.

Thank You to Kenya for Chris Froome!

TraceyCampbell - July 24, 2013

As a Brit, I was certainly proud to see at the weekend that GB have yet again proudly romped home to win the Tour de France. First Sir Bradley Wiggins, now Chris Froome.

Kenyan-born Chris actually started his cycling career on the outskirts of Nairobi, in a tiny village where he spent his childhood.  Indeed, he actually rode for Kenya in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

In his words about his childhood in Kenya:

“As a child, it’s got to be one of the best places to ever grow up,You’ve got so much freedom. I had my little bike and I would go out and see my friends. I just lived an outdoor lifestyle. We were about 30 minutes from the city, out in a residential area. On weekends, my mother would take me down to the Great Rift Valley road, which is very bush. A very rural area.”

As a teenager, Chris met the captain of the Kenyan cycling team, David Kinjah, and he references him as being his inspiration to embrace competitive cycling.  Today, Kinjah remembers those early days with Chris clearly, and is very proud of his protege.

So thank you Kenya, for inspiring someone that we also are very proud of!

TripAdvisor – Friend or Foe?

TraceyCampbell - July 2, 2013

Travel Butlers are a fairly regular contributor to Trip Advisor, and a Senior Contributor too with regards to reviews submitted and forum contributions. In every post that we submit, we will always try to answer the question fairly and avoid putting too much personal spin on our comments or thoughts, as we really do think that what is one persons ‘poison’ may be another persons ‘champagne cocktail’ so to speak.

Personal opinion is always so subjective, and it does concern me that people will read Trip Advisor reviews and only focus on the one negative review, where someone was obviously just having a bad day and took a dislike to the colour of the wallpaper, rather than seeing through this and realising that the location was good, the bed comfy, and the breakfast actually was cooked and presented attractively.  They will conveniently overlook the 170 other positive reviews.

My general view on Trip Advisor is to take the overall ratings seriously but don’t get too hung up on the individual comments.  If overall a property is scoring over 4 out of all its reviews,  then you can pretty much be assured that it is of a high standard and quality.  If overall it is scoring one or 2, then maybe do have second thoughts about booking it as part of your trip of a lifetime.

We always ask our guests for feedback when they get home from their trip, and we also ask them to score each place they stayed (and our service too) with a mark out of 5 – with one being poor, and 5 being excellent.  One particular ‘scoring’ that springs immediately to mind was with a lovely guest house in Cape Town that we use a lot, and also know personally having stayed there ourselves.  The score came back as an astounding 1 out of 5 – whereas previously the guest house had regularly scored 4 and 5 consistently.  Obviously very worried that one of our favourite guest houses had been taken over by terrible people, we called up the customer and asked them why they had marked the guest house down so severely.

Their answer was (and I quote) – the bread rolls at breakfast looked nice but were very bland tasting and the bacon was too salty.

I re-iterate – what someone may see as a huge fault, other people will just roll with it (no pun intended).

 

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