Tag Archives: Africa

African Safari Review #travel

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Well I just got back from an amazing journey of an African Safari in Tanzania. This was a guided safari through Gate1 Travel and met all my expectations. We started out with flights from Cleveland to Chicago on United. Then on a KLM flight from Chicago to Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro. KLM is super strict about the weight and size of your carry on item so be prepared when going with them. Upon arrival at Kilimanjaro, paperwork was need to confirm you were not infected with Ebola, just a couple of questions and no temperature was taken. JRO is a pretty small airport so there is no gangway and you take the steps down to the tarmac. Some passengers are then off to get visas. I was lucky enough to have completed mine in advance of the trip so was able to skip the line of people waiting for hours to get the visa before getting in line for passport control. The price was the same for the visa at the airport compared to the in advance so highly recommend that process.

The Gate1 representative, Ruwand, was right there to pick me up for the transfer with a good hand shake and a bright smile. I later found out that he would also be one of the drivers with us on the safari. After the hour drive to Arusha Hotel we were provided our keys and dinner on site. I had the opportunity to eat with Susie and Randy from New York and Lydia from Canada. I would meet the rest at the briefing in the morning. The room was comfortable with bottle water for brushing teeth and drinking provided all along the way. Word of warning, there are no clocks in Africa. The entire time I would look for one with none to be found. Also they work on AFT which I later learned meant Africa Flexible Time. Think “Island Time” and you’ll understand what I mean.

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In the morning we met the rest of the group. The meeting included the head of the program, Edward, who reviewed what would see along the way, meeting the drivers: Ruwand and Edmond, and the rules with going on drives. Then we were off to the Ngorongoro Crater! We checked in to the Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge that was positioned right on the edge of the crater so that you can look down for the animals.

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After lunch we headed out on our first game drive. This was it; this is what I came all the way here for. Everyone warned me that I may not see a thing due to the time of the year and to not get my hopes up. Well they were wrong! Here is what we saw in one drive: Giraffes, Water Buffalo, Zebra, Cranes, Ostriches, Warthogs, Wilder beast, Flamingos, Rhinos (even saw them charge towards a car), Hippos, Hyenas, Antelope, and Lions.  All that in less than 2 hours! Not all of the animals were by the road but the binoculars I brought were amazing and then even had some in the car for those that didn’t. Then we were back to the lodge. Keep in mind that they do turn off the generators at night to save power, so make sure that everything is charged and you have your phone to use as a flashlight to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

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The next stop was where I wanted to be the whole time. I choose this tour due to the amount of time that was spent in the Serengeti National Park. With three days there we saw a ton of animals! Some of the new ones that we hadn’t seen in the crater were: Baboons, Camels, Gazelles, Jackal, Elephants, Leopard, Rabbis, Monkeys, Dik Dik, Heart Beast, Cheetah, Impala, Owls, and Water Buck. Mind you in one drive alone we saw 26 lions, 2 cheetahs and a leopard while enjoying dinner on the side of the road. We stayed at the Lemala Ewanjan and all I can say was it was out of this world. You would never think of this as a tented camp. They had hard wood floors in the tents, plush beds, laundry service, and soda/beer/wine included. The service was outstanding with personal care from your room attendant and a morning wake up with tea/coffee and cookies. The only thing I would hear from them when I had a request was hakuna matata! All I thought was Lion King and I was smiling like a fool.

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What is a little adventurous with the camp is there was no fence and you are literally in the middle of the Serengeti so it should come as no surprise that there was a lion outside the camp walking around in the middle of the night. But do not worry. There was a Maasai warrior outside making sure everything was safe and secure. I also  went on a hot air balloon ride right at sun rise with Serengeti Balloon Safaris. You’re able to go where the trucks can not and see the animals a little bit closer. Even if you have a fear of heights the highest we went was tree height because any higher and you wouldn’t be able to see the game. After about an hour air born there is a “controlled crash landing” other than a couple of bumps which felt like you just went over speed bumps a little too fast we were off to breakfast. Here you have the opportunity to use the ‘Loo with a View’, a three sided tent where you can watch the game do by as you take care of business.

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The next stop was to Lake Manyara National Park, where we stayed at the Lemala Manyara. Now while it was the same company, the experience was slightly under what was expected. The food was amazing but the tents were leaking in the bathroom and the room attendant wasn’t as accommodating to the prior location. We were even told at the welcome meeting this would be the least favorite place. Another word of warning: Tsetse Fly. Yep, it’s a fly that when they bite it’s the worst experience ever. You will itch and itch and even a week later I am still itching. DEET will not stop these suckers either, even 100% DEET spray or shoes or jeans did not slow them down.  There really weren’t many new animals to see, just more in packs like lions, elephants, baboons, and flamingos.

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The final stop was to Tarangire National Park, where the tsetse flies were still present. The Tarangire Sopa Lodge was another amazing place. The rooms were like little huts that the local people stay and provided a view of the park from the balcony from a small sitting area to enjoy coffee or tea. Lunch was served pool side and the only time we had that we can jump in for a little dip and lay out in the sun. In Tarangire we saw a python, mongoose, vultures, leopard tortuous, and a cheetah with her son. We later saw that it was a hunting lesson. I was able to get some amazing video of mother cheetah trying to take down a baby zebra with her son slowly trailing behind her. They were not successful and you could tell it was the sons fault with a little spat afterwards. The last dinner was amazing; since it was my birthday I received the local Happy Birthday song version and a cake to share with the group. We ended the day making sure everything was packed and ready to go for the 30 hours it would take to get home.

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On the final day, the group met back up with Edward to discuss the trip in a debriefing and to provide the feedback in a welcoming environment. Our drivers were amazing, patient for answering our questions, some of the same ones 7 times in a row. They knew their animals and birds like the back of their hand and would give you the information on how to tell which was what. They would also stop and wait for you to be able to capture the picture you wanted, even if you needed 100 pictures of those cute little lion cubs playing with a stick. We couldn’t have asked for better people to have along with us. Then we were off to the airport where we could clearly see Mt. Kilimanjaro. She wasn’t shy for us and we were able to see the snow-capped peak with no issue.

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Couple of Friendly Tips:

  • Never drink the water, ice or brush your teeth in the tap water. There was bottle water in every room in each hotel and water in the truck to drink when out on game drives.
  • Power tends to be turned off at night so be prepared with your phone or flashlight to find your way to the bathroom.
  • Tipping in the hotel is highly recommended and there is a tipping box in the lobby.
  • The JRO airport is not air conditioned and you’ll want to get your visa in advance to avoid the line with hundred others in the hot crowded small room.
  • No places were air conditioned for that matter.
  • Lunch and dinner are served pretty late. Lunch was normally around 2 pm and dinner was usually 7:30 pm or even 8:30 pm.
  • Tsetse flies love the color blue and black so avoid wearing those colors and cover up every inch of your skin.

For more information or to experience this trip yourself, please contact Traveline at 1-888-700-8747.

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Mont Rochelle Officially Welcomes Its First Guests

Mont Rochelle01 September 2014 – Mont Rochelle, Sir Richard Branson’s South African Hotel and Vineyard is excited to welcome its very first guests to uncover the delights of Franschhoek’s hidden gem. Having undergone an extensive refurbishment, Mont Rochelle now boasts a brand new spa with a Hammam, a heated pool, 22 beautifully refurbished bedrooms and a new restaurant Miko, named after previous owner, Miko Rwayitare.

To celebrate the opening of Mont Rochelle, Virgin Limited Edition, is offering a special complimentary night stay from 1st of September 2014 until 21st December 2014 when booking to stay for four nights or more.

In an area internationally renowned for its winelands and stunning scenery, Mont Rochelle boasts a unique hilltop setting and private vineyard encompassing 39 hectares. Attracting food and wine lovers, guests at Mont Rochelle can enjoy an array of activities from horse-back riding to an afternoon of fly-fishing in the Dewdale Farm trout dam. For guests who would like to combine a winelands break with a safari, Mont Rochelle provides the perfect extension to a stay at Ulusaba Private Game Reserve in the Sabi Sand, adjacent to the Kruger National Park.

Make sure you are one of the first to see the newly refurbished Mont Rochelle Hotel & Vineyard and discover what Franschhoek has to offer with a free night stay from September 2014.

Terms and conditions:

  • The last night of your stay will be complimentary
  • When booking for a minimum of 4 night’s guests will receive one night free.
  • Rates start from ZAR 4,460 (£245 at today’s exchange rate) per room, per night, including breakfast,
  • Offer is subject to availability for stays with arrivals between 1st September – 21st December 2014
  • All our normal booking terms and conditions apply
  • Maximum of one free night per booking
  • This offer cannot be combined with any other packages or special offers
  • The offer is applicable to any new bookings only

 

Our rates include:

  • Accommodation
  • Daily breakfast
  • A selection of drinks and snacks from the minibar
  • Wireless internet
  • All taxes and local levies

 

When you’re at Mont Rochelle you can enjoy…

  • Personalised wine tasting
  • Picnics in the grounds – we can provide a hamper
  • Spoil yourself rotten at the spa and choose from the finest Africology range of treatments
  • Dips in the outdoor swimming pool
  • Work outs in the gym
  • Horse riding –
  • Mountain biking and golf in the region

 

Virgin Limited Edition is an award-winning collection of unique retreats, chosen for their beautiful locations and magnificent surroundings; each offers a sense of fun, style, luxury and exceptional personal service.  The group includes Necker Island in the Caribbean’s British Virgin Islands, Ulusaba Private Game Reserve in South Africa, The Roof Gardens and Babylon Restaurant in London; Kasbah Tamadot in Morocco, The Lodge in Verbier, Necker Belle, a 105 foot luxury catamaran, Mahali Mzuri, a tented safari camp in Kenya and Mont Rochelle Hotel and Mountain Vineyard in South Africa.

For more information, please contact Traveline at 1-888-700-8747.

Virgin Limited Edition Travel Specials

 Necker Island Necker Island

Celebrate on Necker Island
If you don’t fancy hiring the entire island, we’ve got availability during September, October and November 2014 for any last minute bookings.

 Kasbah Tamadot Kasbah Tamadot

Escape to Morocco

Book a stay for 5 nights or more at Kasbah Tamadot and your final night is free. Discover the Atlas Mountains before December 21, 2014!

 The Lodge The Lodge

Summer Escape to The Lodge

Make the most of the fresh Swiss air and sunshine in Verbier and book a summer escape in the Swiss Alps. When you stay for at least 4 nights you won’t pay anything for the final night!

 Mahali Mzuri Mahali Mzuri
Free night offer

When you book to stay for at least 3 nights your final night will be free of charge! This offer also applies for longer stays of 4 or even 5 nights and is available for stays until December 21, 2014.

 Ulusaba Ulusaba
Take the kids on Safari
Ulusaba Private Game Reserve in South Africa is extremely kid friendly and offers the ultimate for a family break – when sharing a room with their parents kids stay for free.

Click here to contact us for more information

or give us a call at 1-888-700-8747.

 

 

Necker Island becomes a proud member of ‘Pack for a Purpose’

Enabling travellers to make a difference to the local community

August 2014 – Virgin Limited Edition is thrilled to announce that Necker Island joins its sister properties Kasbah Tamadot and Ulusaba Private Game Reserve in supporting ‘Pack for a Purpose’, a community based project which is supported by hotels & resorts in 56 countries around the world.

‘Pack for a Purpose’ provides travellers with up to date information regarding the supplies needed in the community of their travel destination. By creating just a few kilos of space in their suitcases and bringing supplies for schools or medical clinics in need, the initiative allows tourists to create a lasting and priceless impact on the lives of children and families living in the local area.

Necker Island, Kasbah Tamadot and Ulusaba Private Game Reserve are supporting local projects close to the properties heart.

With the help of ‘Pack for a Purpose, Necker Island is supporting The Robinson O’Neal Memorial Primary School. The Robinson O’Neal Memorial Primary School, constructed in 1971, was one of the first schools in the area to be built for education purposes. Prior to 1971, schools were housed in churches until the government began providing public building dedicated to education. Thanks to generous donations over the years, the school has evolved from a one room building with just two classrooms to four classrooms, a kitchen and a computer lab. The number of students keeps growing and all contributions from ‘Pack for a Purpose’ are a big help.

Kasbah Tamadot, the first hotel in Morocco to join the initiative, is supporting three local charitable projects. The first one is a crèche in Asni, which provides a free-of-charge pre-school activity centre for young children living in remote Berber communities. The crèche helps the children to socialise and learn Arabic and French languages commonly used in Morocco but not always familiar to Berber-speaking children. Asni crèche requires a regular supply of learning materials, toys and fun activities to ensure more children can benefit in the future.

It is also supporting a girl’s boarding house in the Atlas Mountains. Built to tackle the problem of transporting young students to school, the boarding house offers girls aged 13 – 18 the opportunity to complete their studies and benefit from much wider chances of employment.

The third project is the Eve Branson Foundation Craft Houses which are set up in several of the nearby villages offer training programmes for young women including English & French lessons, embroidering, knitting and other skills to create high-quality artisan products, from which they can generate a small income.

Ulusaba Private Game Reserve in South Africa has been supporting two main projects for some time through ‘Pack for a Purpose’. These are The Dumphries Community Teacher Resource Centre which includes a toy library and resources for teachers working with young children in the wider area and the The Mawewe High School Centre. The centre provides support for students with their homework, research projects, literacy skills and also provides students with access to books and computers, something that would not be made possible without all the generous donations.

Jon Brown, Managing Director of Virgin Limited Edition commented: “As a company we are committed to finding new ways to support the communities living close to our properties. I am thrilled that we are working with ‘Pack for a Purpose’ to support their goal and help the people who live locally to Necker Island, Kasbah Tamadot, and Ulusaba.”    

For further information about ‘Pack for a Purpose’ or to see what supplies are needed please Click here.

 

 

For further information, please contact:

Claudia Moore claudia.moore@virginlimitededition.com

Tel: +44 (0)20 6000 0472

 

Notes to Editors:

Virgin Limited Edition is an award-winning collection of unique retreats, chosen for their beautiful locations and magnificent surroundings; each offers a sense of fun, style, luxury and exceptional personal service.  The group includes Necker Island in the Caribbean’s British Virgin Islands, Ulusaba Private Game Reserve in South Africa, The Roof Gardens and Babylon Restaurant in London; Kasbah Tamadot in Morocco, The Lodge in Verbier, Necker Belle, a 105 foot luxury catamaran, Mahali Mzuri, a tented safari camp in Kenya and Mont Rochelle Hotel and Mountain Vineyard in South Africa.

Virgin Limited Edition aims to make a credible contribution towards creating a sustainable economy and to meet or exceed the expectations of our customers and stakeholders.

For more information please visit www.kasbahtamadot.virgin.com/en/kasbah_tamadot/about_us/packforapurpose

www.neckerisland.virgin.com/en/necker_island/about_us/packforapurpose

2014 Specials at Four Seasons Marrakech

Four Seasons

Check out some of these great 2014 travel specials at the Four Seasons Marrakech!

Experience this exotic city as never before, in an elegant Moroccan resort with a light, contemporary touch – and the serenity and savvy of Four Seasons. Located in an imperial city full of ancient and modern sights, sounds, and tastes. Get lost in a labyrinth of souks or enjoy the quiet orchards of the Menara Gardens.

For more information, please contact Traveline

1-888-700-8747

vacation@traveline.com