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

Vote For Travel Butlers in the SATOA Travel Awards

Paul Campbell - August 22, 2013

We are delighted to announce that we have been nominated for this years SATOA Travel Awards in the Tour Operator category.

SATOA2013-Nominee-ColourSATOA are the industry body that promotes travel to Africa and the Indian Ocean, and they are running this award in recognition of companies who provide outstanding products and services to their clients.
We were immensly proud when we won this award last year, and many thanks to the peeople that have nominated us again this year.Fingers crossed, and we look forward to seeing the great and the good of the African Travel industry at the Awards Ceremony in central London on the 19th of September.

 

Did you know? B is for Bushbaby

TraceyCampbell - August 21, 2013

One of the cutest and smallest creatures of the African bush, the bushbaby is native to more than 25 African countries. Their name comes from their distinctive call, which sounds just like a baby crying.

They are nocturnal animals, but often the sharp eagle-eyes of the tracker or ranger can spot a bushbaby lurking in the branches of a tree, and guests are treated to a unique viewing with the aid of the night game-drive spotlight.  This has also led to their South African name of ‘nagapie’, which means ‘little night monkey’ in Afrikaans.  For anyone learning Afrikaans, you pronounce this nark-ahh-pees (not nag-a-pie, which is the mistake I have just made in front of my South African work colleague).

The most commonly seen bushbabies are the Thick-tailed Bushbaby and the Lesser Bushbaby – with not surprisingly, the Lesser Bushbaby being the smaller of the 2 species.  The Lesser Bushbaby has a body length of just 15 cm, but its tail is 20 cm.

They are very particular about their appearance, and will groom themselves fastidiously before embarking on a night of foraging for insects, lizards, small birds and fruit.

The eyes of a bushbaby are incredibly large which give them their excellent night vision, but they cannot their eyes swivel in the sockets, so they are forever moving their heads when searching for prey, giving them a further comical appearance.

Their large ears give them very acute hearing, and their strong hind legs enable them to jump high – the highest recorded jump was 2.25 metres.

Despite their good eyesight and hearing and jumping skills, they do still have to be careful when out, as they are favourites on the evening dinner menu of owls, snakes, servals, African wild cats and genets.

Bushbaby

Kenya’s Beach Traders – Good or Bad?

TraceyCampbell - August 19, 2013

There is a current rumour that Kenya are once again looking at banning beach traders from their beaches.

True, sometimes these people can be annoying, and in some cases, a bit intimidating. You are out for a quiet (and possibly romantic) beach walk, and you do not want to be hassled by someone trying to sell you a pair of fake RayBan sunglasses, or a hand-carved giraffe, or a camel ride. They are certainly persistent – I have been followed for about 15 minutes in the past, and no amount of saying no seemed to get through to them.

I initially used to try speaking in a different language to them.  The first time I encountered a beach trader, I was young and very naive – only 21 so a wee baby really – and on my very first long-haul holiday to Mombasa. The young guy hawking his wares obviously realised I was not African (’twas not difficult, I was pasty white and blonde then), so they approached me and my partner and asked in English if I would like to buy whatever – I think it was a necklace. I replied in French (I had vaguely studied French as part of my college course) to say I did not speak English. He immediately replied in perfect French.  Which threw me.  As I had no idea what he said.  So I tried saying in Spanish that I did not understand him. Dammit if he then didn’t reply back in Spanish. I think if I had tried Japanese he would still have had an answer. Which, to be honest, you have to admire. These guys may not have a University degree nor do they have a well-paid full time job, but they can speak more languages than the majority of tourists to Kenya.

Back to the subject in question, however, as I have digressed slightly.  The reason for the new move to ban the beach traders is that the Kenya tourism ministers ‘want to ensure that tourists enjoy their time outside hotels instead of worrying about beach boys and girls who hassle them or steal from them’.

Now, I must admit, I have never worried that these people would snatch my camera or purse and run off, but I do resent the ‘in your face’ intrusion. And I am aware that I do have a quick temper, so when pushed with something like this, I do have to really control myself and not shout at them to go away.

I find now the best approach is to act completely deaf. If you totally avoid all eye contact, and do not respond at all (and yes, we are all brought up not to ignore people as it is rude, but this does seem to be the only approach that works), they will soon get bored with trying to engage you in a conversation, and wander off to find another tourist who may not be as resolutely stubborn as me.  Even if you say ‘no thank you’ you have engaged them in a conversation – so you are ‘fair game’ for them to try to elicit more words out of you.

Personally, I think that beach traders do have a place still on the Kenyan beaches.  As long as they learn to respect that if they are ignored, to just go away. Sometimes, they may be selling something that people would want as a souvenir, and having bought from someone local and bartered on the price is more of a souvenir and holiday experience than buying it from the hotel curio shop would be!  It is their livelihood too, so by banning them they will either only go and sell somewhere else, or heaven forbid, they may turn to other ways to ‘make’ their income.

Maybe one solution would be for hotels to have licenced operators on their private stretch of beach, and inform their guests that this is the case – which would maybe stop tourists feeling they are being threatened if approached – the traders are just an ‘extension’ to the hotel services. And the traders work to rules, and anyone who breaks these rules is not allowed to trade with the hotel anymore.  I understand that this approach is also being considered as an option by tourism ministers, so fingers crossed this could be the answer.

Beach traders

 

Protect the Rhino AND Save Money on Your Safari Too

TraceyCampbell - August 16, 2013

As we all know, rhino poaching in South Africa has been constantly hitting the news for the past few years, with the current figures showing that over 500 rhinos so far this year alone have been killed unnecessarily for their horns across the country. Although there is no scientific proof of its medical value, rhino horn is highly prized in traditional Asian medicine, where it is ground into a fine powder or manufactured into tablets as a treatment for a variety of illnesses such as nosebleeds, strokes, convulsions, and fevers.

Awareness is key to stopping this barbaric and illegal trade, and unless it is clamped down, the rhino will soon be joining the ever-growing list of wildlife whose future is looking distinctly dodgy.

The Shamwari Group are actively supporting the Wilderness Foundation ‘Forever Wild’ campaign, one of the ever-increasing number of initiatives to help save rhinos throughout South Africa.

So how can going on safari help?

Well, for every guest who books a safari with Travel Butlers at one of the lodges within the Shamwari Group portfolio on the specially discounted Forever Wild/Protect and Save Package rates, Travel Butlers will donate between ZAR 100 and ZAR 450 per guest per night (depending on the lodge booked) towards the ‘Forever Wild’ campaign. In addition, the Shamwari Group will then also donate a further sum to the campaign.

Shamwari are proud to have raised ZAR 2,000,000 for the campaign in total, and Travel Butlers have actively contributed towards on behalf of our clients.

The initiative is continuing until the end of December 2014, so there is still plenty of time to book a safari and help save the rhino.

The Shamwari Group consists of 6 lodges in the malaria-free Shamwari Game Reserve near Port Elizabeth, plus Jock Safari Lodge and Fitzpatricks at Jock, both situated in a private concession within the world famous Kruger National Park, and finally 3 lodges at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve in the Klein Karoo near Montagu.

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Devil’s Pool – so not for the faint-hearted!

TraceyCampbell - August 14, 2013

Hot off the press – the Devil’s Pool at Livingstone Island, Victoria Falls will be ‘open for business’ from Friday 16th August.

The ultimate infinity pool, the Devil’s Pool is a natural pool formation that teeters right on the very edge of the Victoria Falls.  Just a small submerged rock wall below the water surface acts as a barrier to prevent anyone from hurtling down the 100m sheer drop of cascading water into the gorge below.

Thrill seekers head here every year when the pool is open to see how close they can get to the edge.  The cautious ones sit a few feet away, proud that they have joined the elite few who have the nerve to come here.  The true adrenelin seekers throw caution to the wind, and literally hang as far as they can over the edge.

You are only allowed to visit Devil’s Pool when the river flow is at its lowest and safest levels – so between now and December time. Otherwise, nothing short of a miracle would stop you getting carried over the edge when the water is at its highest!   Tongabezi Lodge, in Zambia, who own and run Livingstone Island where the Pool is situated, operate 5 tours a day over this time, with a maximum of 12 people per tour.

One of the 7 Wonders of the World, the Victoria Falls are one of Southern Africa’s most popular tourist attractions, and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It is estimated that when the Falls are at their highest water levels, about 9 million litres of water per second pour down the vertical 100m drop.  The noise is deafening, and both this and the resulting spray, which can be seen from up to 30 km away, has given the Falls their local name of Mosi-oa-Tunya – “The smoke that thunders”.

You can choose to view the Falls from either the Zimbabwe or Zambia side, and a 2-3 night stay here is an ideal extension to any holiday in South Africa or Botswana.  From Johannesburg, you can fly to the Falls (either Livingstone on the Zambia side, or Victoria Falls on the Zim side) in just 2 hours, and there are also now direct flights from the Nelspruit Kruger Mpumalanga Airport to Livingstone, making it easy to combine a Kruger safari with the Victoria Falls too.