• Sydney Australia - credit Jackie Appleton
    Sydney Australia - credit Jackie Appleton

Why you should consider Hwange National Park for your Safari

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Vicki Tester

 

There are very good reasons to consider Hwange National Park, in Zimbabwe, for your safari destination and the key ones are as follow:

  • Hwange is close to Victoria Falls which is easy enough to reach by a number of airlines. The airport there is becoming a bigger International destination which will make it even easier to fly in to the region.
  • Hwange has about 43,000 visitors per year which gives a density of 3 people per KM2 per year. This compares with the Serengeti density of 23 people per km2 per year, Kruger at 85 and Masai Mara at 912.
  • It is home to about 46,000 elephants and during the dry season it is not unusual to see herds of hundreds at waterholes. None of the other Parks can boast such large numbers of elephant. In fact there are more elephants than visitors.
  • It has the some of the densest numbers of sable antelope, cheetah, wild dog and lion in Zimbabwe
  • Your guides here serve an apprenticeship of 5 to 10 years and their professionalism is considered amongst the best in Africa. They will take you on walking safaris within the Park and teach you about all that you see, including tracks, flora and fauna. This will enhance your African experience immensely.
  • Hwange Park lodges and camps are small and personal. On average 8 rooms serving 16 clients

 

Elephants

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Africa

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Elephants

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

If you would like more information about a tailor made safari to Hwange and Victoria Falls or Safaris in South Africa then please contact us on – 01323 446550 or email info@experienceholidays.co.uk

Mozambique as a Family Destination

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Vicki Tester

 

One of our favourite lodges on the coast of Mozambique has decided to streamline its cost base and make going there better than ever. Nuarro Lodge has just offered a 5 night stay for families at US$ 125-00 per person per night. This includes the following: Vehicle transfers to and from Nampula Airport/ Nacala Airport / Ilha De Mocambique, accommodation in the chalets with three meals, coffee & tea, snacks, unlimited shore diving for advanced diver buddies, unguided snorkelling, kayaking, mountain bikes and one massage per booking.

indaba and moz Mozambique

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

The fact that it is in a wonderful location with pristine seas to explore and truly idyllic beaches makes this a wonderful family get away. Visit their website www.nuarro.com to see what you could be doing! 

One of things that has put off clients going to Mozambique is the difficulty of getting there. The good news is that the Government of the country is opening up the country by asking for tenders for flights in and around the country. Hopefully this will make it easier for future travellers to this beautiful country.

indaba and mozambique

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

indaba and mozambique

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and Zambia

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

This year has been a good one for rains in Southern Africa (well for most places) which is good news for farmers and the wildlife. The abundance of rain has seen the rivers well up which in turn has led to the amount of water flowing over the Victoria Falls being spectacular. There is nothing quite as awe inspiring as seeing and feeling the thunder of the Falls. You are also guaranteed to receive a good soaking from the spray – which can be seen from miles away.

Victoria Falls

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

This time of year is often portrayed as being one to avoid coming to this part of the world, but there are very good reasons to consider it. Yes, the game viewing will be more difficult as the wildlife has dispersed and the vegetation will be at its highest but this is the time that many animals have their young and the birds are in courting and nesting mode.

There is also the advantage of boat safaris in places such as South Luangwa and the flood in to the Okavango should be high allowing you the choices of travel in this unique environment.

It is all about planning – and taking advantage of the good rates for these areas at this time of year.

Give us a call or email to plan your trip to this amazing area on Tel: 01323 446550 – Email: info@experienceholidays.co.uk

Victoria Falls

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Victoria Falls

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Botswana – Home of the uncrowded safari

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Vicki Tester

 

This year Botswana celebrated 50 years of independence and it does stand out as a wonderful safe destination in Africa. The country has deliberately set out to protect its wildlife resources by encouraging low volume, high market tourism. This policy has worked well for the flora and fauna, the GDP, provided quality jobs and delivered amazing tourist experiences.

With so many unique places to visit, it is no wonder that Botswana is high on the list of places to visit for those that love to go on safari. The huge Okavango Delta provides an experience second to none and the desert areas such as Central Kalahari Game Reserve and Nxai PanNational Park ensure a completely different type of wildlife encounter.

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

However if you want to go and do not want to pay top dollar then think about heading there in the “Green Season”. This is the time that the rains come (if they do!), some lodges close for repair but others offer special prices for their clients. But why go when you could encounter rain?

It is wonderful to see how the dry semi desert, and even the desert, bursts in to colour. The trees come back in to leaf, the grass grows and the river beds start flowing with water. Birds migrate in from all parts of Africa and quickly start picking their nesting sites and break out their mating plumage.

Most of the plains antelope time the birth of their young to coincide with the time of plenty and more vegetation to hide their babies in. The Delta rises, fish spawn, wading birds are plentiful and nests are full. Being out in a mokoro adds a frisson of excitement to your adventure.

 

It is seeing Botswana in a different light. Please call to discuss your options and seek professional advice into your own bespoke, tailor made safari – Tel: 01323 446550 or email info@experienceholidays.co.uk 

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Great Rail Journeys of the World

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

We are often asked what and where is the best rail journey in the world? So in answer to this we have detailed below some of our must do Great Rail Journeys of the World:

  • Consider the luxury rail experience offered by the Eastern and Oriental Express, operating between Singapore and Bangkok and taking two or three nights depending on the direction of travel. Enjoy vistas of tea plantations, rolling farmland, colonial cities and historic temples.
  • Take a rail journey in Vietnam, from the bustling city of Hanoi to the village of Sapa, located in the mountains overlooking spectacular views of the Ta Van valley’s terraced rice fields. The train operates overnight in both directions.
  • Think about the super-fast Shinkansen ‘Bullet Train’ in Japan. There are a number of routes on offer, but no trip to Japan is complete without at least one trip in the iconic Bullet Train.
Picture courtesy of JNTO

Picture courtesy of JNTO

 There are three iconic rail journeys available in New Zealand, one on the North Island, and two on the South.

  • On the North Island, the Northern Explorer runs from Auckland to Wellington through diverse countryside comprising of rolling farmland, towering viaducts and beautiful hidden valleys.
  • On the South Island, the Tranz Alpine train runs from Christchurch in the east to Greymouth in the west through stunning scenery. A stop is made in the small mountain town of Arthur’s Pass, where a stay enables a closer inspection of this Alpine region.  The Coastal Pacific runs from Picton (tying in perfectly with the ferry from Wellington on the NorthIsland)  south to Christchurch. This rail journey stops in Kaikoura en route, where a stay gives the opportunity to take a whale watching cruise.

 

  • An impressive and popular rail journey on the Devil’s Nose section of railway in Ecuador could be a part of your holiday itinerary.  Named Devil’s Nose due to the many deaths amongst workers as well as difficulty of building it, the route connects the Alausi and Sibambe stations taking a stunning trip down the rocky slopes of the Andes through breath-taking scenery.
  • Board the tourist train in Peru taking you on a journey through the Urubamba Valley or Sacred Valley of the Incas, to the marvellous mountaintop ruins of Machu Picchu.
  • One of the more popular rail routes is the Coast Starlight which takes you along the west coast between Seattle and Los Angeles stopping in Portland along the way. Why not take a day out of your itinerary to treat yourself by taking a trip on the Napa Valley Wine Train where you can relax on-board the exquisitely restored vintage rail cars and experience fine dining service, multiple course meals and the stunning Napa Valley scenery. Most people see the Grand Canyon from the skies but since 1901 the Grand Canyon Railway has been taking people right through the heart of this amazing place and you could be one of them, you’ll feel like you’re travelling back in time. For something a little different during your visit to Colorado why not travel along the 45 miles of 3 foot narrow gauge track on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway which has been running since 1881. However long your journey is travelling by rail is a definite must do during your USA holiday.
Picture courtesy of Rocky Mountaineer

Picture courtesy of Rocky Mountaineer

  • The most famous rail journey in Canada has to be the Rocky Mountaineer. With a variety of routes available you can spend a couple of days or a couple of weeks on board. One of the more popular routes is the Journey through the Clouds which takes you between Vancouver and Jasper with an overnight stop in Kamloops. With different grades of      service available this is a must no matter how big or small your budget is. If you want to travel the width of Canada in comfort and without missing the scenery as you concentrate on driving then take a ride on The Canadian. In the space of four nights and three days, you’ll get to see the lakes in Northern Ontario, the lush boreal forest, the western Prairies, and the magnificent Rocky Mountains as you travel between historical Quebec and modern Toronto.
  • Australia has some of the most iconic rail journeys in the world. There isn’t enough room here to talk about them all but here are some to whet your appetite. The Indian Pacific gets its name because it covers 4352km between Perth on the Indian Ocean and Sydney on the Pacific Ocean. The whole journey takes three nights, although you can break it up with a stop in Adelaide. You’ll travel through a variety of landscapes from towns and cities to the desert like Nullarbour Plain, from the outback to the forest of the Blue Mountains. So we’ve taken you East and West, but what if you want to go North and South? Named after the Afghan Cameleers who travelled this route, the Ghan will take between Darwin in the North to Adelaide in the South going straight through the centre of Australia. If it’s just a day on a train that you would prefer then a trip on the Kuranda Scenic Railway is perfect. It was built between 1882 and 1891 and is made up of 15 hand made tunnels and 37 bridges taking you from Cairns into the Barron Gorge National Park on your way to Karunda, known as the village in the rainforest.

 

  • Africa has a wealth of train experiences that cover the whole spectrum from world leader to leaving a lot to desire.  Rovos Rail has exciting itineraries that stretch from Pretoria, in South Africa through all their southern neighbouring countries and even a trip to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Where possible they travel during the day. The Blue Train is another South African luxury train that travels from Johannesburg to Durban and Cape Town or vice versa.
Picture courtesy of SA Tourism

Picture courtesy of SA Tourism

For further information, and for assistance planning your next bespoke, tailor made holiday which could incorporate one of these great rail journeys, please call us on 01323 446550, email us at  info@experienceholidays.co.uk 

 

 

 

Return of the Big 5 to Majete Wildlife Reserve, Malawi

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Sundry-animal-photos-003-300x200

Credit Peter Ellis

 

It was wonderful to receive news from Malawi Tourism and Robin Pope Safaris that lions are returning to Malawi after an absence of nearly 50 years.

Two males and two females are being transferred from Pilanesberg National Park and Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa to Malawi. This is transfer is the latest in the rehabilitation of Majete since 2003, when the non profit organisation African Parks took over management of the Park. To date over 2500 animals have been reintroduced and these lions ensure that the BIG 5 will all be there.

The four lions have to undergo weeks of quarantine on both sides of the border before a slow and organised release in to the Park. This is a costly operation, which Robin Pope Safaris have sponsored. This company is one that we have known for a long time and their expertise for all kinds of safaris in Zambia and Malawi is second to none. Their passion to preservation of the ecosystem on their properties is reflected in their responsible tourism – as witnessed above.

If you are thinking of a safari that is different to others, whether tailor made or set, we strongly recommend thinking about Malawi (safari and beach on Lake Malawi) or South Luangwa in Zambia. The latter is a great destination for walking safaris, which gives you a heightened awareness of what is around you and time to appreciate the smaller flora and fauna of Africa.

If you want to be one of the first to see the BIG 5 in Majete or want any details for safaris in East and Southern Africa, then find out more by contacting Peter on 01323 446550 or peter@experienceholidays.co.uk to discuss the options open to you. We enjoy tailor making safaris to meet your budget and time constraints.

Pumba Welcomes New Addition to the Elephant Herd

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

Elephants at Pumba Game Reserve

Courtesy of Pumba Private Game Reserve

The 12th of August marks the second annual World Elephant Day. This day was devised in order to create awareness of the current plight of both our African and the Asian elephants. The elephant is a loved, revered and respected animal by a variety of cultures around the world and it is therefore our duty to do whatever we can to ensure their safety and survival for our future generations.
World Elephant Day asks you to experience elephants in non-exploitive and sustainable environment where elephants can thrive under care and protection. This being said Pumba Private Game Reserve is thrilled to announce the delivery of a new baby elephant to our conservation reserve.
The new addition to the herd was born on Saturday the 26th of July 2014 and is the baby of the Matriarch of the herd. The calf is one of three babies born into the herd since March this year, all from different mothers. The other calves are respectively a male and a female and we are awaiting anxiously to determine the sex of our newest member once the calf is old enough.
The herd along with its youngest members have been providing guests with some incredible sightings. Join us on World Elephant day by expressing your concern, sharing your knowledge and support solutions for the better care of elephants across the globe.

We are delighted to pass on this story relating to World Elephant Day on the 12th August. Pumba Private Game Reserve located in the Eastern Cape of South Africa has long since been a favourite amongst our clients and the arrival of any new off-spring is always lovely to hear. If you would like to know more about Pumba, or any other holiday with a wildlife or safari element for that matter, please do not hesitate to call us on 01323 446550, email us on  info@experienceholidays.co.uk, or visit our website at  www.experienceholidays.co.uk

Part 3 Honeymoon Ideas – Safari – (well part three of these) – Southern Africa

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Kgalagadi-and-South-Namibia-2011-713-440x293

Credit Peter Ellis

 

Kgalagadi and South Namibia

Kgalagadi-and-South-Namibia-2011-649-440x293

Credit Peter Ellis

 

Namibia
For a land of contrast then Namibia has to be one of the world’s best destinations. With four deserts, all different, the highest sand dunes in the world and iconic African wildlife such as the desert adapted elephant and rhino, you are spoilt for choice.

We have all seen the Namibia photo of black dead trees in a white salt pan against a giant red dune which is so accessible – take your own photo of this magical setting and then climb the dune. Consider tracking the desert adapted elephants and rhino (and lions and zebra and others) or meeting with the San people or Himba tribe and learning of their unique life styles.

For contrasting wildlife experiences spend time in the Etosha National Park using its giant salt pan as a backdrop to your photos and then head to the lush and green Parks along the rivers of the north in the area known as the Caprivi Strip.

It is one of Africa’s easiest self drives as they drive on the left, the official language is English and the roads are well maintained. The distances are big so allow enough time to get to your destination and ensure you have time to enjoy it when you get there.

Botswana
Well known for having some of the best wilderness and wildlife areas on the African continent, where animals roam wild and free. You could experience the stunning beauty of the world’s largest intact inland Delta – the Okavango; the vastness of the world’s second largest game reserve – the Central Kalahari Game Reserve; the isolation and other-worldliness of the Makgadikgadi – uninhabited pans the size of Portugal; and the astoundingly prolific wildlife of the Chobe National Park. The first – and most lasting impressions – will be of vast expanses of wilderness stretching from horizon to horizon, the sensation of limitless space, astoundingly rich wildlife and bird viewing, night skies littered with stars and heavenly bodies of an sheer brilliance, and stunning sunsets of beauty.

Then find the secret Tuli block, full of history going back to the dawn of man and part of the Great Zimbabwe. All to be found with the wildlife that has its own history going back even further. The mighty Limpopo River adds another dimension with its giant Mashatu trees fringing its banks and full of animals and birds.

Zambia, is that diamond in the rough, here you can see one of the seven wonders of the world the Victoria falls on the Zambezi River and an abundance of wildlife. It boasts 19 national parks, the better known are South Luangwa , Kafue, Lower Zambezi and of course the wonderful Victoria Falls. Zambia is a unique destination to experience the wild as it was, the essence of the real Africa and to be experienced in different ways – traditional 4×4, on foot or from a boat. Each experience has its unique flavour.

So if a Safari holiday is for you then why not contact our expert Peter Ellis who grew up there and can offer you advice to get the best experience with unforgettable memories for your very special honeymoon.

Please contact Peter on 01323 446550 or email peter@experienceholidays.co.uk

Kgalagadi-and-South-Namibia-2011-883-440x648

Credit Peter Ellis

 

Kgalagadi and South Namibia

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – South Africa, Botswana and Namibia

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Kgalagadi-and-South-Namibia-2011-355-440x330

Credit Peter Ellis

 

Kgalagadi-and-South-Namibia-2011-428-440x330

Credit Peter Ellis

 

This wonderful Park is one of the hidden gems of Africa and whilst not unique, is a model of different counties working together for the benefit of wildlife. The Kgalagadi only opened its borders of the 3 countries concerned about 4 years ago and it is now possible to access the Park from one and leave by another.
So why would you want to go? When I went nearly 3 years ago, it was to go to an unspoilt past of Africa, which was well off the beaten track and had that truly great feeling of being away from it all.
The stunning lines of red sand dunes are cut through by two river systems which provide life supporting waterholes throughout the year. The rivers only flow in times of good rains. There are good numbers of lion here, with some of the darkest and biggest manes around, cheetah in excellent numbers and very good chance of seeing the elusive brown hyena. The bird like is good and the meerkats to be found in many colonies.
The places to stay vary from good Parks accommodation to remote capsites such as Bitterpan. Your party will have a view over a waterhole in the centre of a dune sea with nothing else but wildlife around and only the ranger for company ( he is always pleased to see travellers, as it is a lonely posting). We were there on a full moon which lit up the waterhole, a good fire to cook our food on and to keep the chill off and different animals making their way to drink. Retiring to bed and then listening to the different sounds around you ensured a memorable stay. See the photo of the kettle to see how some passers through treat the utensils!
The levels of accommodation is expanding as some of the operators are adding small and exclusive camps to0 those already there.
Making this Park part of your trip to Southern Africa will take you back in time and add a different dimension to your bespoke holiday here.
And it is in a malaria free area – a big plus.

Please call me to discuss which option to access this lovely and unspoilt part of Africa – Tel : 01323 446550 or Email: peter@experienceholidays.co.uk

Wonderful time to be in Botswana, Namibia and Zambia

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IMG_6641-440x293

Credit Peter Ellis

 

These countries of Southern Africa are heading in to their summer and the hope of rain is still about a month away. The temperature is rising and the grass has all but gone. The animal browsers are better off than the grazers, as the Mopani trees are starting to leaf in anticipation of the coming rains.
All of the animals have fallen back on to the rivers and waterholes for their drinking requirements and the last of the grass. It would seem that there is an order of when different animals move down to drink, but in reality if you are big and willing to throw your weight around, you own the waterhole. Watching the waterhole etiquette will keep you fascinated for hours and a host of photos that you will be proud to show your friends.
This is a time of difficulty for most animals with the exception of the predators for whom it is a time of plenty. It is also a wonderful time for you to be game viewing. The congregation of animals and the lack of grass and leaves makes game spotting easier.

IMG_6880-440x293

Credit Peter Ellis

 

We all love seeing the Big 5 but these conditions do give you the chance to see rarities such as striped hyena, caracals, wild dogs and bat eared foxes to name just a few.
Do not take my word for it but rather go to Kwando Safari’s weekly sighting reports. These are full of the extraordinary viewings, unexpected camp visitors (elephant, lion and plains game) and the truly exotic animals that are seldom seen.
We love their camps which are located in diverse places such as the Okavango Delta and the Kalahari Desert. Each camp is set up in a stunning area and a totally different experience.

Click here to visit their website for an idea of what is on offer and then give us a call to plan your bespoke tailor made safari for this time next year on Tel: 01323 446550 or email: info@experienceholidays.co.uk

IMG_6549-440x293

Credit Peter Ellis

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