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

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – South Africa, Botswana and Namibia

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Credit Peter Ellis

 

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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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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.

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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

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Credit Peter Ellis

Winter Sun ….. The Options

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Peter Ellis

 

Winter holidays

Courtesy of Fundu Lagoon

 

Where to go if you want to have a burst of warmth in the middle of our winter? As always it all depends upon how long you have to spare and how much you want to spend.

Looking for the short break and not travelling too far then places like the Azores and Sharm el Sheihk, Egypt (still considered safe by the Foreign Office) will give you the best chance of sun and warmth. Other parts of the Mediterranean may be warm or even hot but there is a good chance of rain and cold snaps here as well.

For the mid distance travel you could be thinking of the Caribbean Islands – a perfect time to be going here. Do remember that some of the islands are very popular with the North American travellers who are also getting away from their winter. It is well worth looking at the options and perhaps considering one of the less popular destinations.

Winter holidays

Courtesy of Fundu Lagoon

 

In this category, and for something completely different, the Middle East should be considered. Many of the countries here, such as Oman, have expanded what they can offer tourists – giving you a chance to explore their history, wildlife and beautiful sea life.

While discussing middle distance destinations, we would also mention that Kenya is still a wonderful winter destination. There have been plenty of reasons to avoid Kenya this year, but the Government there has acted swiftly to ensure tourists are well protected and most of the country should be considered safe. A mixture of safari and beach is always a great get away. By travelling a bit further to Tanzania you avoid the security risk of Kenya but have the same experiences on offer.

For those lucky clients that have more time to travel even further afield then the countries in the Southern Hemisphere are very much on the agenda. Do remember that in parts of these countries their summer (our winter) can be the rainy season making travelling very difficult – well worth chatting to someone about these areas. Many of our clients choose this time of the year to head to New Zealand and Australia with a short break on the flight to and/or from their destination. Wonderful destinations with spectacular beaches, activities and experiences but worth spending time to make the most of the places you choose to visit. These countries are huge and travelling between points can take a lot of time.

Finally Southern Africa remains a terrific winter destination. Some of the best wildlife experiences are to be had now and the beaches are welcoming after the rigours of a safari. Add in the fact that the Pound has remained strong against the Rand and there is very little time difference to UK time (less jetlag) making it a good place to put on your list.

Start planning now.  Give us a call to discuss where you would like to go for your bespoke/tailor made winter sun break.

Tel: 01232 446550
Email: info@experienceholidays.co.uk

BBC 2′s Indian Ocean series

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For those of you that watched the enthralling BBC2 programme last night you could come away with an impression that the fishermen of the African coast between Cape Town and Zanzibar are rogues. Undoubtedly some are, but for each of those, there are far more that are trying to make a sustainable living and care passionately about their environment. We know as we have been to some of the places that practice good husbandry of the sea, all along this coast.

It is true that more should be done to educate the fishermen about the impact of some of their fishing practices. More consideration should be given to regulating such practices as the taking of just the shark fin and leaving the animal to drown.

For further information on our range of Southern and East African experiences, go to http://www.experienceholidays.co.uk/southernafrica.asp or call us on 01323 446550

2014 Safari Awards – Winners

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Credit Jackie Appleton

 

Congratulations to our safari partners in Zambia – Norman Carr Safaris. At the recent 2014 Safari Awards, Norman Carr were placed in 5 out of the 18 categories, winning three of them:

Winner – Best New Property – Chinzombo, Norman Carr Safaris

Winner – Best Guiding Team – Norman Carr Safaris

Winner – Best Walking Safari – Norman Carr Safaris

Highly Commended – Best Safari House – Chongwe River House

Highly Commended – Best Value Safari – Chongwe River Camp

To experience these superb safari’s for yourself, call our team on 01323 446550, or email us at info@experienceholidays.co.uk

We are looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Join us at the Telegraph Travel Show, Excel Centre, London 8 – 10 January 2016

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Vicki Tester

 

With Christmas and New Year just around the corner, you may well have time to start thinking about your next adventure for your holiday next year. To help you consider all of the options why not come and join us at the above show – and free of charge!

We will be on stand H30 and pretty difficult to miss as we will have a Cruise America Motorhome on the stand – difficult to miss both from size and colour. We will be there to discuss all types of holidays but be glad to show you around the motorhome if you ever thought of free wheeling through the USA or Canada.

For your free tickets to the Show just go the following link and register:

 http://travelshow.telegraph.co.uk/guest-tickets  and enter the code EXPERIENCE16

 An eticket will then be sent to you.

We would love to see you there.

Cape Town

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Vicki Tester

 

Angie recently visited South Africa and loved Cape Town – below are her thoughts about the city and just some of the reasons to go there. With current exchange rates, South Africa offers fantastic value for money, so there’s never been a better time to plan your South Africa holiday. 

With little time difference, no jetlag, and direct flights offered from the UK, a visit to Cape Town can be the start of your South African adventure, or a stand alone destination from which to explore. Of an evening, meander the bustling Victoria & Alfred Waterfront – home to a number of great restaurants, and a large shopping centre. The skyline is dominated by iconic Table Mountain, and no visit to the city is complete without a visit to the top – either by revolving cable car or for the more active, a strenuous but beautifully scenic climb.

table mountain

Picture courtesy of Angie Watson

Another iconic attraction in the city is a visit to Robben Island. Originally home to a leper colony, the island’s more recent history is as a home to a prison housing political and criminal prisoners until its closure in 1996. It’s most famous inmate was Nelson Mandela who served 18 of his 27 years there. The island is reached by scenic cruise, providing fantastic views back to the city and Table Mountain. Part of the island tour is conducted by former political prisoners, giving a fascinating insight into life in the prison.

Outside of the city centre, take time to explore the Cape Peninsula with a hire car, or self drive if you prefer. The spectacular Chapman’s Peak Drive is a 9km road that hugs the coastline, offering dramatic scenery around every bend. Visit the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point – perhaps taking the ‘Flying Dutchman’ funicular railway to the Cape Point Lighthouse. Boulders Beach is a must to see the African Penguins, and from Simons Town, a trip out to SealIsland is popular.

AW South Africa Sep 2015 100

Picture courtesy of Angie Watson

 

Further afield from Cape Town consider visiting Hermanus for its whale watching, or Franschhoek for its winelands and gourmet restaurants. Hire a car and drive the Garden Route, before finishing your trip with a safari on the Eastern Cape.

For more information about Cape Town and South Africa, and how a bespoke, tailor made holiday to this fascinating country might take shape, please call our office on 01323 446550 or email us at info@experienceholidays.co.uk.

Relaxing after your South African safari – in Mozambique

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Vicki Tester

 

For those of you that have been on safari you will know that it is not exactly a relaxing experience. The early morning starts, being on the lookout for the wildlife and the general roughness of the terrain ensure that you do not nod off. The lodges and camps that you stay at are often very comfortable but you will keep an eye on what is happening at the waterhole in front.

So perhaps a few days of R&R after the safari would ensure a great finish to a magical holiday. Just a short flight away or a 4 hour drive from the Nelspruit South of the Kruger National Park you could be stepping on a speed boat in Maputo marina (Mozambique) to take you to Machangulo Beach Lodge.

Picture courtesy of  Machangulo Beach Lodge

Picture courtesy of Machangulo Beach Lodge

 

Picture courtesy of  Machangulo Beach Lodge

Picture courtesy of Machangulo Beach Lodge

An hour later (and possibly escorted by dolphins part of the way) you will cross the silver sands to your luxurious room and the start of your unwind. This is true Indian Ocean unspoilt and ideal for doing very little other than enjoy yourself. There is also a spa to add to your enjoyment. As you would expect food is fresh, delicious and influenced by Southern African recipes. Not surprisingly, fish features strongly but there is plenty of other dishes on the menu.

For those with a wish to explore then there are deserted beaches almost in all directions and safe bathing areas. Add in snorkelling and diving on pristine reefs and a huge array of colourful corals and fish which will keep you heading back to the sea.

Walks in the dunes and the forests are right at hand and exploring these gives you a different experience altogether. Visit one of the local communities with a guide and perhaps pick up your souvenirs from the little shops found here.

For those that enjoy their fishing or those wanting to try sea fishing then the Lodge offers surf fishing, deep sea fishing and night fishing – all subject to weather and sea conditions.

All in all, a wonderful way to finish your Southern African adventure.

Please call us to add this in to your bespoke tailor made safari adventure Tel: 01323 446550 or Email:  info@experienceholidays.co.uk

Picture courtesy of  Machangulo Beach Lodge

Picture courtesy of Machangulo Beach Lodge

 

Picture courtesy of  Machangulo Beach Lodge

Picture courtesy of Machangulo Beach Lodge

 

Picture courtesy of  Machangulo Beach Lodge

Picture courtesy of Machangulo Beach Lodge

 

Picture courtesy of  Machangulo Beach Lodge

Picture courtesy of Machangulo Beach Lodge

 

Staying in the Great Karoo, Eastern Cape, South Africa

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Vicki Tester

 

Samara Private Game Reserve has grown to 70,000 acres of former agricultural land that is being returned to the eco-system that supported so much wildlife before the advent of European arrival. The herds of springbok, wildebeest, zebra, eland and blesbok are increasing and rhino and cheetah have been re-introduced successfully.

Making this part of your self drive bespoke holiday is well worth the extra miles that it could add. As well as the wildlife the scenery here is amazing with views from the mountains that overlook the plains. The lodges are the kind of place you want to be to celebrate a special occasion or for a place to relax completely but with plenty for you to do and see if you are so inclined.

Picture courtesy of Samara Private Game Reserve

Picture courtesy of Samara Private Game Reserve

The staff ensure your stay here is special and the guides will delight in showing you want can be achieved when wildlife is given a chance to recover. You will have the opportunity to see cheetah up close and the much talked about and elusive aardvark is seen regularly. Join a walking trip to see the smaller animals, birds and flora that can easily be missed when in a vehicle.

Your guide’s knowledge of all that you see makes this a memorable way of learning about the Great Karoo. Finish your game drive with a sundowner overlooking the plains and watch the sun disappear at the end of an exciting day. It is wonderful to see the return of so much wildlife and to see the dream of dedicated people coming to fruition. Definitely consider making this part of your bespoke, tailor made experience of South Africa.

To start planning your holiday please call us on 01323 446550 or email: info@experienceholidays.co.uk

Picture courtesy of Samara Private Game Reserve

Picture courtesy of Samara Private Game Reserve

 

Picture courtesy of Samara Private Game Reserve

Picture courtesy of Samara Private Game Reserve

A Mixture of African Experiences

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Vicki Tester

 

Here is a suggested itinerary that can be adjusted to meet your requirements:

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 Day 1  Arrive in Johannesburg and pick up your hire car. Depending on the flight that you have taken either spend one night in the city or drive to the Kruger National Park. Here you will have three nights in a lodge in a Concession within the Park which ensures that you have the best of game viewing. Kruger remains one of Africa’s prime game watching places and being in a Concession will allow you to join night drives or walking safaris. You should have plenty of wildlife encounters and your guides have an extensive knowledge of the area and amazing eyesight for spotting animals.

Day 4  Head south and into Swaziland for an overnight stop. Take the opportunity to learn about this mountain kingdom and its culture. The cooler air is very welcome as are the people who you will meet.

Day 5  Today has you back in South Africa in KwaZulu Natal and your destination is Isimangaliso Wetland Park and a two night stay in a forest lodge deep in the park. Here you have the chance of kayaking or boating on the lake and looking for the myriad number of birds, hippo and other game that live here. There is a chance to track turtle at the right time of the year.

Day 7  Transfer to the coast and time to enjoy the miles of pristine sands and the Indian Ocean. This location offers South Africa’s best snorkelling and some great diving sites. The other option is enjoy the sea and remote location.

Day 9  Leaving the coast and wetlands behind you have a short drive to Hluhluwei Mfolozi Park for a two night stay in the Park – the only lodge within the Park. All of the big 5 are here and you can also add in whale and dolphin watching in the season.

Day 11  Your next destination is set with the Battlefields and Zulu culture very much in mind. Take a tour of the main Zulu War battle sites and then add in a dinner in a Zulu village to learn about their culture and watch their dances.

Day 13  Drive down to Durban or back to Johannesburg for your flight back to the UK.

This gives you a real flavour of South Africa and can easily be adjusted to meet your interests, time constraints and budget.

And the Pound is currently strong against Rand making Southern Africa a great destination.

So to plan your bespoke tailor made holiday please give us a call or drop us an email – 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

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