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  • FLOAT ABOVE THE SERENGETI, TANZANIA
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    FLOAT ABOVE THE SERENGETI, TANZANIA
    Experience the breath-taking beauty of the Serengeti National Park on a once-in-a-lifetime hot air balloon flight. At dawn, rise as the sun greets the day and float in whichever direction the winds of the morning take you. Your pilot can precisely control the altitude of your balloon: sometimes flying at treetop height, sometimes lower, offering a unique perspective and great photographic opportunities of the wildlife below. At other times you will probably ascend to 1000′ or more to see the vast magnificence and spectacular panorama of the Serengeti. At intervals the pilot will put more heat into the balloon with the powerful whisper burners. In between these burns, there is a tranquil silence apart from the natural sounds below.

    A Serengeti balloon safari is an extraordinary opportunity to relish a bird’s eye-view of the phenomenal sweeping plains below. Tiny little dots rove across the diverse landscape and as you get closer you are spectator to the most magnificent view of dramatically striped black and white zebra, sashaying enormous grey elephants meandering to a waterhole, wiry warthogs foraging in the grassy scrub and subtle swishes of puffed golden tails reveal lions lolling under shady trees.

    Gently bob through the air and your eye darts to every possible corner, euphoric on adrenalin this stunning approach to absorbing the home of the wild things is truly an overwhelming experience, where very little can hide from you here.

    TANZANIAN ROMANTIC EAST AFRICA SAFARI ITINERARY:
    Sleep in the boughs of an ancient forest, camp on the Serengeti plains, bathe in rose petals at the Ngorongoro Crater and relax on a private island.

    Your journey at a glance
    Indulge in the drama of East Africa’s most beautiful landscapes, from the romance of classical safari to the wonder of breath-taking landscapes and the barefoot luxury of a private island. At Lake Manyara you will share a cosy tree house in the heart of a scenic landscape, where lions lounge in the forks of trees and pink flamingo wade near the lakeshore.
    Enjoy a taste of adventure combined with the ultimate luxury on the open plains of the Serengeti, where Persian carpets and fully sized beds are separated from the African night by only a thin sheet of canvas and the light of lanterns sparkles on silver and crystal as your private feast is served in the open air.

    Transfer to Lake Manyara Day 1
    Upon your arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport you will be met by your transfer team who will assist you to your scheduled flight to Manyara Airstrip. On arrival at the airstrip, you will be met by a representative from Lake Manyara Tree Lodge for your first game drive to the lodge.

    Overnight in Lake Manyara Day 1-3
    Spend two nights at Lake Manyara Tree Lodge. Accommodation is in an elegant, stilted treehouse, which is cradled in the boughs of mahogany trees. Your room is built of timber and makuti (palm fronds) and has a spacious sitting area, viewing deck and a lovely ensuite bathroom.

    Find tree-climbing lions Day 2
    Game drives from Lake Manyara Tree Lodge explore areas of the park that cannot be reached by day visitors and are undisturbed by others. Each morning and afternoon set off in the company of your guide and tracker in an open 4×4 safari vehicle with a canvas canopy. Together you will explore the diverse habitats of the park, stopping on the lakeshore to admire the different bird species and look for pink flamingo. You will traverse a mosaic of acacia woodlands, grassy floodplains and tall forest in search of wildlife, including Manyara’s famous tree-climbing lions and family herds of elephant.

    Bicycle ride through Mayoka village Day 2 - afternoon
    Guests at Lake Manyara Tree Lodge can enjoy a scenic guided bike ride through the Mayoka community. Drive to Mayoka to collect your bicycle and begin. Cycle through this bustling village and interact with the friendly people, including the nomadic Mang’ati tribe, adorned with traditional animal skin cloaks, skirts and colourful beads. A picturesque bike ride brings you to the lakeshore, where you can admire bright pink flocks of flamingos. If the birds are close enough, put on some gumboots and walk out to observe and photograph them. All proceeds go directly to the Mayoka community.

    Transfer to Ngorongoro Crater Lodge Day 3
    Enjoy an early morning breakfast before a safari vehicle drive back to the Manyara airstrip, where you will be met by a representative from Ngorongoro Crater Lodge who will drive you to the lodge.

    Overnight in Ngorongoro Crater Lodge Day 3 - 5
    The Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area, within the Serengeti, is home to more than 30 000 protected animals. It is an area of spectacular beauty and excellent game viewing, a truly unique safari destination in Africa. The Ngorongoro Crater, once a gigantic volcano, is the largest intact caldera in the world. Some maintain that before it erupted, it would have been higher than Mt Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa. Today, long since having collapsed and eroded, it is an extensive highland area with the famous 600 metre deep Ngorongoro Crater as its focal point. Nearly three million years old, the ancient caldera shelters one of the most beautiful wildlife havens on earth. Fresh springs and a large soda lake quench the thirst of all the inhabitants. Black rhino are protected within its rim, giant tusked elephants wander the forests, black-maned lions stalk the grasslands, and flamingos crowd the soda lakes.

    Spend two nights at Ngorongoro Crater Lodge. Accommodation is in a suite with ensuite bathroom with bath and shower.

    Dine in an ancient volcano Day 4
    Indulge in a gourmet feast served in one of the most unique settings in Africa. Descend into the scenic landscape of the Ngorongoro Crater and enjoy the incredible density of wildlife before making your way to a private picnic spot on the Crater floor. Tables set with snowy tablecloths and sparkling silver cutlery are laden with the most delectable of dishes. An army of butler’s spring into action to attend to your every wish as you indulge in a mouth-watering meal served against the backdrop of groups of zebra strolling along the Crater floor.

    Transfer to your flight to the Serengeti Day 5
    Tuck into a sensational breakfast feast before your drive back to the Manyara airstrip for your scheduled flight to Serengeti Under Canvas.

    Overnight in the Serengeti Day 5 - 8
    Spend three nights at Under Canvas in an ensuite tent. Your stay includes accommodation, meals, scheduled activities, laundry, soft drinks, house wines, local brand spirits and return airstrip transfers.

    Float above the Serengeti Day 6
    Experience the breath-taking beauty of the Serengeti National Park on a once-in-a-lifetime hot air balloon flight. At dawn, rise as the sun greets the day and float in whichever direction the winds of the morning take you. Your pilot can precisely control the altitude of your balloon: sometimes flying at treetop height, sometimes lower, offering a unique perspective and great photographic opportunities of the wildlife below. At other times you will probably ascend to 1000m or more to see the enormity and wonderful panorama of the Serengeti. From time to time the pilot must put more heat into the balloon with the powerful whisper burners. In between these burns, there is silence apart from the natural sounds below.

    Get front row seats to the Great Migration Day 7
    Game drives are tailored to suit your preference, with a choice between shorter, twice-daily drives or one full-day game drive, with a stop for a picnic lunch. The game drives are carefully planned to anticipate the progress of the Great Migration, so you should not have to travel too far to see the vast herds. However, if the Migration has moved off, or the dramatic river crossings are in progress, you may choose to spend more time on the vehicle in order to maximise your chances of seeing this incredible phenomenon. When the Migration herds are not within easy reach, the properties are perfectly situated in some of the most remote and beautiful corners of the Serengeti, with game drives setting off in search of the exceptional resident game. Game drives are conducted in the Serengeti National Park, so off-roading and night drives are not permitted.

    Flight to Zanzibar Day 8
    Depart by road to the Airstrip, where you will board your scheduled flight to Zanzibar Airport.

    Transfer to Mnemba Island Day 8
    On arrival in Zanzibar you will be met by a representative who will assist with your road transfer to the crossing point for Mnemba Island. Here you will be met by a boat for your transfer to Mnemba Island Lodge.

    Overnight on &Beyond Mnemba Island Day 8 – 11
    Spend three nights at Mnemba Island Lodge in a Banda. Your stay includes accommodation, meals, soft drinks, house wines, local beer, local brand spirits, snorkelling, kayaking, salt water fly-fishing, windsurfing and scuba diving (guests must provide proof that they hold a valid diving certificate, alternatively diving courses are available at an additional cost.

    Immerse yourself in a world beneath Day 9

    Zanzibar boasts a variety of pristine coral reefs, particularly off Unguja Island, the main island of Zanzibar, as well as Pemba Island and Mnemba Atoll. Boasting calm waters and a wide variety of colourful marine species, these are some of the top dive sites in the world. Keen divers will find diving off Zanzibar an absolutely breath-taking experience, with some of the healthiest reefs in the Indian Ocean. An average water temperature of 26ºC / 79º and visibility of 30 to 40 metres / 100 to 130 feet, as well as truly staggering range of marine wildlife, make this an unforgettable diving destination.

    Paddle along the beach Day 10 - morning
    Explore the warm Indian Ocean waves in utter tranquillity in a deep sea kayak built for two. Ask one of Mnemba’s Dive Instructors for a quick tutorial session or set off with your partner on the quiet waters protected by the island’s surrounding reefs. Paddle along the beach to admire the changing features of the shoreline or head out into deeper waters in the hope of encountering a pod of dolphin or some sea turtles.

    Reawaken your soul and relax your body Day 10 - afternoon
    Seize the wonderful opportunity to rejuvenate and heal in true African style. Embrace wide ranging wellness and spiritually awakening activities that draw inspiration from the breath-taking scenery of this unique and colourful island.

    Delight in massages and wellness treatments by professional masseurs and therapists from East Africa, Thailand, Bali, and India. Be sure to try traditional cures and reflexologies, as well as an island inspired henna tattoo.

    In addition to wonderful wellness treatments, indulge in a spiritual based activity from India. Channel your energy and increase your self-awareness with a yoga class placed against the background of a clear ocean. Classes are plentiful and can be accommodated to fit all levels of experiences and preferred styles.

    Transfer from Mnemba Island to Zanzibar Airport Day
    Depart by boat to the crossing point, where a member of the &Beyond team will meet and transfer you to Zanzibar International Airport for your flight to Dar es Salaam Domestic Airport. On arrival at the Domestic Terminal of Dar es Salaam International Airport you will be met by a representative and transferred to the International Terminal for your outbound flight.

    Rates:    11 Days, 10 Nights  From USD 10 365 per person sharing.

    Please click here to contact one of our consultants to assist you with a comprehensive itinerary

  • HOT AIR BALLOON RIDES IN AFRICA
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    HOT AIR BALLOON RIDES IN AFRICA
    You’ve travelled all the way to Africa, to see the amazing nature and abundance of wildlife so why not make it that much more special by going on a hot air balloon ride in some of the most picturesque places on the planet? Here are some of our favourite places in Africa to have this incredible experience.

    NAMIBIA –NAMIB DESERT, SOSSUSVLEINAMIBIA –NAMIB DESERT, SOSSUSVLEI

    THE ESSENCE OF THE EXPERIENCE

    Hot air balloon adventures in Sossusvlei promise a most memorable and truly romantic way to experience Namibia’s brilliant vista. This soul-satisfying journey offers excellent photographic opportunities and lifelong memories.

    Awaken before dawn and set out in the early morning moonlight to a designated launch site, where you can watch excitedly as the balloons are brought to life. Giant, hot bursts of flame slowly inflate the brightly coloured nylon, strung to robust baskets that rest on their side. As the sun’s first rays peek over the scarlet sand dunes, the hot air balloon drifts slowly upward, revealing the undulating landscapes of Sossusvlei.

    This sensory experience will let you see the world from a true bird’s-eye view as you sniff the cool, fresh air, feel the wind caress your hair, touch the warm pockets of air created by gusts of flame overhead and taste the champagne victory upon landing, a longstanding tradition among balloon pilots. As you float amongst the clouds, the sun rises dramatically over the horizon, throwing hues of gold and rose across the vast sky. Marvel at the wide expanse of sand dunes that seemingly never end.

    Watch as mighty herds of gemsbok shrink in size below you and spot the enigmatic fairy circles, which stand out as indented circular patches devoid of vegetation and are an intriguing phenomenon of the Namib Desert. These mysterious rings have been the subject of many theories that include, dragons, gods, and UFOs.

    The balloon soars at varying heights and gradually rotates with the morning breeze, constantly giving you a new perspective of the desert. Many animals gaze up at the neon ball in surprise and curiosity as it passes overhead. The seasoned pilot will eventually select the perfect landing spot, just in time for a grand celebratory bubbly breakfast, where you can recap the morning’s bucket list moment as you savour a delicious morning meal.

    THE SPIRIT OF SOSSUSVLEI DESERT LODGE

    Take a breather from your hectic schedule and reconnect with yourself and with nature at Sossusvlei Desert Lodge.

    Surrounded by the mountains and sand dunes of the Namib Desert, Sossusvlei Desert Lodge is an escape to the world as it should be. Sheer silence, total tranquillity and romantic luxury. From stargazing to intimate picnics in the desert, this is an extraordinary desert wilderness.

    Nestled deep in the heart of Namibia’s ancient Namib Desert in Southern Africa, the lodge is a secluded and serene oasis that overlooks awe-inspiring dunes and stony outcrops. A world of vast spaces, endless horizons and rugged mountain heights, the utter tranquillity and extraordinary clarity of light make this area one of Africa’s most compelling landscapes.
    In this spectacularly beautiful location, spacious and serene suites envelope guests in pure indulgence, complete with an outdoor shower and a dramatic skylight over the bed for late night star gazing.

    If you’re up for something more active, quad biking adventures, hikes and walks will let you explore the surrounding scenery and satisfy your sense of adventure.

    Why we love it

    • Unforgettable dune dining, guided nature walks and hiking trails
    • Scenic Nature drives in open 4 x 4 safari vehicles, 4-wheel all terrain motorbike excursions and San rock paintings
    • Excursions to Sossusvlei and Sesriem Canyon in closed air conditioned vehicles
    • Stargazing at a sophisticated observatory, accompanied by a resident astronomer, early morning hot air ballooning and scenic flights
    • Perfect for honeymooners, couples, photographers and families

    Please click here to contact one of our consultants to assist you with a comprehensive itinerary

  • Lake Jozini, Home of Shayamanzi Houseboats
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    Lake Jozini, Home of Shayamanzi Houseboats
    Experience the only Game Viewing and Tiger Fishing Houseboats in South Africa on one of its largest dams, Lake Jozini. Situated on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast, 3.5 hrs drive from King Shaka International Airport. On-board the Shayamanzi Houseboats you will experience a unique combination of luxurious and wonderfully staffed accommodation, whilst enjoying the calm serenity of the open Lake Jozini waters.

    Enjoy soaking up the stunning scenery of the Lebombo Mountains and superb wildlife of the Pongola Game Reserve on the shores of the lake, plus the exceptional and safe Game Viewing in the heart of the Zululand bushveld with the chance to participate in the thrill of Tiger Fishing.

    On board the Shayamanzi houseboat there are 6 luxury cabins, each sleeping 2 passengers, which are en-suite with shower, basin and toilet. The cabins are large and airy with large sliding window doors as your boundary to the water. There are another 4 comfortable en-suite pontoon cabins on the lowest deck with port sized viewing windows. These cabins have a double bed and a small sitting area, which is convertible for additional bedding for young children.

    A Shayamanzi Houseboats cruise begins from the spectacular Jozini Tiger Lodge which is situated along the banks of the picturesque Jozini dam near Pongola. Situated in the heart of the ‘Kingdom of the Zulu’ with its rich heritage and untamed natural beauty, Lake Jozini is an exciting holiday destination offers a perfect luxury getaway in the heart of nature.

    Typical Routes
    Day 1: Tiger Lodge to Hippo Bay.
    Day 2: Hippo Bay to Nkwazi Bay.
    Day 3: Nkwazi Bay to Tiger Lodge.

    The Game Reserves surrounding Lake Jozini host many animal species which can be seen in herds from Shayamanzi’s decks: White and Black Rhino, Elephant, Buffalo, Hippo, Crocodile, Wildebeest, Giraffe, Zebra, Kudu, Nyala, Bushbuck, Mountain Reedbuck, Common Reedbuck, Red Duiker, Grey Duiker, Waterbuck, Steenbuck, Suni Antelope, Black Backed Jackal, Hyena, Cheetah, Wild Dog, Cerval Cat, Warthog, Bushpig, Banded Mongoose, Legavaan, Terrapin and the occasional sighting of Leopard which roam the slopes of the Lebombo Mountain Range. The muddy plains and reed banks provide excellent breeding grounds for the waterbirds which can be seen in thousands – Whistling Duck, Yellowbilled Storks, Spurwing and Egyptian Geese, Commorants, various Herons, Kingfishers, and several Fish Eagles.

    Along the entire Western bank is the magnificent Lebombo Mountain Range. One of the evening anchorages may be a night in the Gorge. Here the Mountains rise either side of you, covered in indigenous cycads and ferns and where the glo-flies make a spectacular show along the shoreline.

    Other overnight anchorages are in the River and at Mosquito Bay; both great fishing areas and very well positioned for game viewing.
  • Zambezi Queen, Chobe River, Botswana
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    Zambezi Queen, Chobe River, Botswana
    Deep in the heart of the African wilderness, where the mighty waters of the Chobe River run through Namibia into Zimbabwe falling over the iconic Victoria Falls in a dazzle of thunder and spray, you’ll find the Zambezi Queen, a floating hotel that combines the best of luxury and elegance with the wild essence of Africa.

    The view is ever-changing: elephants wading in the shallows or crossing in merry groups, fish eagles wheeling overhead, sunsets that will take your breath away. Experience it all from your private suite aboard the luxury 45 metre houseboat, surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of the wilderness.

    Embarking from her base in Namibia, the Zambezi Queen cruises along the Chobe, taking in a huge variety of wildlife both on the shore and in the river itself. Guests can enjoy unparalleled photographic opportunities, whether viewing game from the deck or by tender boat – a unique chance to get up close to wildlife on the river’s banks.

    This leisurely safari allows you to experience the thrill and tranquillity of a bushveld adventure, with all the civilized comforts of a luxury hotel. Just 80km away by road, you’ll find the Victoria Falls, one of the great wonders of the natural world. Many guests choose to combine a stay on board the Zambezi Queen with a visit to this incredible sight.

    The Matusodona accommodates 10 Suites and 4 Master Suites - all are en-suite with private balconies, king size beds and are furnished to the highest level. Two of the four Master Suites have their own private deck with outdoor furniture and the remaining two having superb panoramic views with doors and windows on two sides.

    2/3 night itineraries available with rates from:

    • Standard suite pp sharing from USD 1485
    • Master suite pp sharing from USD 177

    This includes: Accommodation; All meals; All soft drinks, mineral water, coffee, tea, beer and wine; water based game viewing and bird watching on smaller tender boats; land based cultural tour of a local village; tiger and bream fishing in season; arrival & departure road transfers from Kasane airport to Kasane immigration; boat transfers between Kasane immigration and the Zambezi Queen

    Excludes: Premium beverages (spirits, sparkling wine and dessert wine); visa fees, gratuities and curio shop; purchases; Chobe NP game drive - can be arranged at additional charge; travel insurance.
  • The Matusadona - on Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe
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    The Matusadona - on Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe
    Lake Kariba is the largest artificial lake in the world, measuring approximately 220 km from East to West and up to 40 km wide, covering almost 5,600 square kilometres. The Dam was built in the 1950’s for hydro‐electric power generation and was officially opened in 1959. Besides wildlife, a large number of families were relocated and homed in new towns and villages, now on the shores of the Lake such as Kariba, Binga, Mlibizi and Siavonga. The filling of the Lake between 1958 and 1963 caused more than 20 earthquakes of greater than 5 magnitudes on the Richter scale. The Lake soon became a tourist attraction on both the Zambian and Zimbabwean side of the Lake, frequented by local and international visitors. Kariba has many mooring opportunities both on the main land and on islands and offers romantic spots with idyllic waterfalls in places like the Sanyati Gorge.

    The Matusadona National Park is the centrepiece in this beautiful landscape surrounding the lake. Kariba also has the most incredible birdlife to be found, rivalled only by the Okavango Delta in Botswana and the land around Lake Kariba on the Zimbabwe side is full of big game, such as: Lion; Elephant; Rhino; Leopard; Cheetah; Impala; Kudu and Eland.

    Meticulously built over a number of years the “Matusadona” house boat is the ultimate of style and comfort on Lake Kariba. She is finished in African hardwood timbers and furnished with rich fabrics, leather and Egyptian cotton; Matusadona has been described as “an intimate luxury lodge on the water”. With spacious air-conditioned cabin accommodation for up to seven passengers, situated right on the waterline, you’ll feel at one with nature. The gentle lapping of waves, the frequent grunt of the hippos, the distant lion’s roar, the cough of a leopard, the eerie cry of the Fish Eagle and all the attendant sounds of Africa – you’re in the real bush whilst cocooned in the lap of luxury.

    Attached to her is a speed-boat for transfers and a game-viewing pontoon geared for water-based game viewing. Matusadona offers a completely different experience to land-based game viewing, watching a herd of elephants coming down to drink, so close you can almost touch them, their calves frolicking in the water with their mothers suspiciously standing by, is a truly memorable experience.

    On sweltering summer evenings, sip on refreshing cocktails in the Jacuzzi under the stars, or at the bar, and on the odd chilly African evening, warm up with a Cognac in the cosy saloon and watch a variety of wildlife documentaries.

    Travelling to a different and secluded mooring every day, you will always awaken to a new experience, be it on one of the numerous islands, up one of the rivers, or in the Matusadona National Park, these are experiences that many can only dream about.

    Matusadona is perfect for an amazing family holiday, a romantic honeymoon or simply a break from ‘real’ life.
  • Desert to Delta birds and mammals
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    Desert to Delta birds and mammals

    This trip is designed for 6 participants only with over 20 Namibian near-endemics including Rockrunner.  Guests experience the Namib Desert and Skeleton Coast and the world-famous Etosha Pan mammals.  Spend 3 nights in Botswana on the Okavango River which is the best place for Pel’s Fishing Owl and view the Carmine Bee-eater breeding colonies.  Possible other sightings included are 9 species of owls, 6 species of bustards and 12 species of eagles.


    Tour focus


    This tour has been designed to have the best chances to see Namibia’s endemics, near endemics and regional specials, including the elusive Pel’s Fishing Owl, plus a wide diversity of African mammals and reptiles.


    You will see from the itinerary that there are multiple opportunities to find some of the tricky bird species (especially the desert larks and other desert-adapted species), giving us the best chances of success. The reason we have done this is to avoid the temptation of rushing around trying to get the biggest list. Instead we allow you to focus on the birds that you will always remember and can only see here. However, having said that, we will be in some of Africa’s best birding areas and when birding we'll focus on all the available species (within reason) and will see a huge diversity.


    A species list will be handed as part of your tour booklet and is available beforehand upon request. This is a dedicated birding tour with early starts and lots of time in the field. We will also search for and watch mammals and reptiles; Namibia has a fantastic diversity and we are likely to have some great sightings. Lion, African Elephant, Southern Oryx, Burchell’s Zebra, Hippopotamus, Banded Mongoose, to name a few, and perhaps even chameleons, geckos and many other creatures may capture our attention.


    The tour is timed to coincide with the presence of mammals and large flocks of sandgrouse at the Etosha waterholes, the breeding season of Southern Carmine Bee-eater and the return of the summer migrants. The day may be hot, cooling off in the evening and we’ll travel in an air-conditioned mini-bus.


    Meet the Tour leader:


    Tertius Gouws leads birding tours in 9 African countries and has a special interest in mammals, volunteers as a wildlife vet and is an accomplished bird photographer. He has that rare balance between showing people good birds and sharing his photographic insights. His sharp eye and gentle nature are key in making his tours such a success.


    Itinerary summary


    On this Birding Africa Namibia Okavango Tour, we'll explore the scenic Erongo Mountains for Hartlaub’s Spurfowl, Short-toed Rock-thrush and the endemic Rockrunner, before driving west to Walvis Bay with its abundant shorebirds on one of Africa’s richest estuaries.   Here we’ll stay for two nights.


    We’ll then head north east via Spitzkoppe, premier site for Herero Chat, and the Brandberg inselberg where the surrounding gravel plains are home to a variety of endemics including the recently described Benguela Long-billed Lark.   We may also be lucky enough to glimpse the rare desert-adapted African Elephant.


    From here we continue north to Etosha National Park for four days (staying in rest camps within the park or just outside the park, depending on availability), before heading north towards Rundu and the well-watered Caprivi region. Crossing the border into Botswana, we will stay three nights at Shakawe on the Okavango Panhandle (one of the best places to see Pel’s Fishing Owl).


    Finally, we’ll visit Mahango Game Park and the Waterberg Plateau Park before our journey concludes at Windhoek airport.


    When: Dates (17-day tour) 15 Sep - 1 Oct 2017

    Cost: Guaranteed Price: From $5460.00 per 2 pax and $590.00 for a single, including transfers, drinks and tips.

  • A unique coastal birding hotspot, South Africa
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    A unique coastal birding hotspot, South Africa

    One of Hartley’s favourite destinations is a luxury eco-reserve close to the Southern tip of Africa tucked between mountains, forest and sea.  With 118 different bird species, Grootbos is uniquely positioned to offer both avid birders and curious novices a rich and varied birding experience. Glimpse the vivid orange of a Sunbird’s breast, see a Cape Sugarbird sipping on nectar or spot a rare Black Harrier.


    Cool Afromontane forests, the rocky coastline and serene estuaries provide a magnificent backdrop to our birding outings. Our experienced guides will share fascinating facts while helping you spot rare and endemic birds feeding and breeding in these different ecosystems.






    What’s on offer?



    • A dedicated birding tour, walk a short trail or simply spot birds from your suite.

    • Look out for the Black Harrier, Knysna Woodpecker, Southern Tchagra and Cape Rock Thrush.

    • Upated bird lists and bird books are available.


    Standard 3 nights Package

    Day 1 - Overview

    After a celebratory drink on arrival, enjoy a delicious lunch either in our restaurant or on the deck outside. After lunch, check in to your suite and make yourself comfortable before taking a trip to the pristine nearby Walker Bay beach, where dramatic rock formations and a vivid blue ocean provide the perfect backdrop to your historical cave tour. Back at Grootbos, enjoy the most decadent six-course dinner paired with award-winning local wines.


    Day 2 - Overview

    Enjoy breakfast in our restaurant or on the outside deck, before gearing yourself up for a morning of adventure. Experience the adrenalin rush of a personal encounter with a great white shark during a once-in-a-lifetime shark cage diving excursion. Alternatively, experience the Marine Big 5 first hand on a boat based trip when you spot whales, sharks, penguins, dolphins and seals. In the afternoon, embark on a horseback adventure through the reserve before ending your day with another sumptuous six-course dinner.


    Day 3 - Overview

    Explore the unique Cape Floral Kingdom on a revitalising 4x4 tour through the reserve as you soak up the fresh air and natural beauty that surrounds you. During the trip, our specialised guides will tell you facts about this rare flora in ways that will amaze and fascinate you. After lunch, learn more about our Green Futures and Growing the Future Colleges which help with the upliftment of local communities. After a busy morning, relax with a full body massage in our Forest Spa, surrounded by ancient Milkwood trees. End the day off with another six-course dinner and retire to your suite sun-kissed and sated.


    Day 4 - Overview

    On your last morning at Grootbos, join one of our guides on an early morning walk through the magical Milkwood forest as the dappled light and gnarled ancient branches create a mysterious setting. After a final breakfast in our restaurant, depart Grootbos with a host of memories you won’t soon forget.


    Cost: From R 9100.00 per night per 2 adults sharing in a luxury suite

    These rates include luxury 5 star accommodation ; full English breakfasts,3 course lunches and 6 course dinners; guided walks and hikes;  nature, marine & coastal drives; horse-riding; and a variety of land-based guided adventures.



    Please click here to contact one of our consultants to assist you

    with a comprehensive itinerary including flights and transfers

  • Birding on Rubondo Island National Park, Tanzania
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    Birding on Rubondo Island National Park, Tanzania

    Lying in the southwestern corner of Lake Victoria, the whole of Rubondo Island is given over to conservation. It is Africa’s largest island national park (26 kilometres long and varying from 3 to 10 kilometres wide). Over three-quarters of its 25 000 hectares are blanketed in untouched equatorial forest – an unusual protected habitat for Africa’s wildlife.


    It’s a rare privilege to set foot on Rubondo. Bar a handful of park wardens, wildlife researchers and camp staff, the island is uninhabited by humans and has been set aside as a refuge for threatened chimpanzees, families of elephant and the shy sitatunga antelope. The surrounding waters of Lake Victoria are a crucial breeding ground for tilapia and the enormous Nile perch. This unique corner of Africa is a sanctuary to be enjoyed by only a handful of fortunate – and intrepid – travellers.


    The camp – the only lodgings on this verdant island – immerses you in this lush and unspoilt ecosystem. From its lakefront location to the eco-friendly design of the eight fabulous cottages, the camp offers unrivalled access to this one-of-a-kind destination, where elephant roams wild, colourful birds and butterflies flit through the pristine indigenous rainforest and the waters teem with hippo, crocodile and the iconic Nile perch.


    Birding Itinerary


    East Africa’s birdlife is quite simply stunning and very plentiful. This itinerary will take you through vibrant swamps and mighty rivers to discover the water birds before moving to the higher altitude of the Upper Rift Valley and then to the rolling grasslands of the Serengeti. Explore the lakeshore of Rubondo Island, an ornithologist’s dream, before ending in Ruaha to view both northern and southern species in the same area.

    Itinerary offers:



    • View the pelicans and pink-hued flamingo of Lake Manyara

    • From November to March spot the rare Eleonora’s falcon in Ruaha

    • Tick off both water and forest dwelling species at Rubondo Island


    Days 1 & 2: Rivertrees Country Inn, Arusha

    Once an old coffee estate, Rivertrees is now a charming country inn nestled in abundant foliage with the Usa River flowing by. Set in the foothills of Mt Meru, conveniently close to Kilimanjaro International Airport and a short drive to Arusha, its location proffers a wealth of natural wonders to explore. 

    Activities: Game drives; Canoeing; Mountain biking; Cultural & community visits.












    Days 3 & 4: Oliver’s Camp, Tarangire National Park

    Discover Tarangire, a park with over 500 recorded species of birdlife. With varied habitats ranging from vibrant swamps to rolling grasslands and acacia woodlands there is a bird diversity to match, and ashy starlings and yellow-collared lovebirds, endemic to Tanzania, can both be found here.

    Activities: Game drives; walking safaris; Fly camping


    Day 5: Serena Manyara, Lake Manyara National Park

    Stop off at Lake Manyara, a water-birdlover’s paradise that’s home to herons, egrets, storks and spoonbills. And of course the elegant pink flamingo that congregate around the shores of the shallow, alkaline lake of the same name, alongside huge populations of pelicans.

    Activities: Game drives; Boating; Cultural & community visits


    Day 6: Plantation Lodge, Ngorongoro Conservation Area

    With easy access to the world-famous Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Plantation Lodge is a wonderful base from which to discover the birds of the Upper Rift Valley. The tropical gardens around the lodge also attract colourful birds and butterflies for some viewing closer to home.

    Activities: Game drives; Cultural & community visits


    Days 7 – 8: Dunia Camp, Central Serengeti

    Explore the heart of the Serengeti from Dunia, a tranquil tented camp with expansive views of the pristine wilderness. With a varied habitat of grasslands dotted with acacia groves and the vast granite protrusions, the Moru Kopjes, the resident birdlife is superb and sightings spectacular.

    Activities: Game drives; Balloon safaris; The Great Migration (May/June and November/December)


    Days 9 – 11: Rubondo Island Camp, Rubondo Island, Lake Victoria

    Explore Africa’s largest island National Park, Rubondo, and the phenomenal birdlife hiding in the equatorial forest and lakeshore papyrus. Over 400 endemic and migratory species have been recorded on its shores, and darters, cormorants, egrets and pied kingfisher are common.

    Activities: Game drives; Forest walks & hikes; Canoeing & boating; Fishing


    Day 12: Onsea House, Arusha

    Just outside Arusha on the drive from Kilimanjaro Airport is Onsea House. Owner-managed and run, the house has an intimate and friendly feel. Add to this the superb staff and a reputation for culinary excellence and Onsea House is a wonderful place to spend your first night in Tanzania.


    Days 13 – 14: Kwihala Camp, Ruaha National Park

    The last stop is the iconic Ruaha, a park with 580 species of recorded birds and an interesting mix of northern and southern species. Of note are the substantial populations of black-collared lovebirds and ashy starlings as well as a number of water birds on the banks of the great Ruaha River.

    Activities: Game drives; walking safaris


    Cost: From US$ 11 042.00per person sharing


    Please click here to contact one of our consultants to assist you

    with a comprehensive itinerary including flights and transfers

  • Green season Birding Safari in Zambia
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    Green season Birding Safari in Zambia

    The green season months are the most exciting for birding in Zambia. The migrants are present and many local birds are in full breeding plumage and are singing. Over 400 species of birds have been recorded in South Luangwa National Park and some of the highlights include Western Banded Snake Eagle, Lilian's Lovebird, Collared Palm Thrush and the stunning Fire-crowned Bishop in its summer finery.


    In addition to the regular game drives birding guests will also venture out on foot specifically listening for bird calls. There will be an emphasis on exploring the wide variety of different habitats to be found in the Luangwa Valley.


    As well as mixed riverine woodland with its lagoons and backwaters you will visit mopane forests home to species like the Arnot's Chat and Racket-Tailed Roller which will not be seen elsewhere. One day will be spent driving across the Park to the Mchinga Escarpment (weather and roads allowing!). You will drive through brachystegia and other woodlands until you reach the escarpment to look for Pale-Billed Hornbills and other very rare Luangwa sightings.


    The birding guides offer an unequalled knowledge of Luangwa's birdlife and there is always an opportunity for guests not only to see many new species but also to learn a lot about the physiology, behaviour and distribution of birds.


    Choose from either a family Lodge or the luxury of Chinzombo for this adventure.


    Day 1

    Meet your designated representative in Lusaka Airport where you will be escorted to your connecting flight to Mfuwe, your gateway to the South Luangwa National Park. This flight takes just over an hour. On arrival at Mfuwe Airport, you will be transported to Chinzombo, where you can settle into your chalet. This afternoon after an excellent afternoon tea, you will participate in your first game viewing activity, exploring the surrounding area on the back of a 4X4 vehicle with an expert birding guide.


    Days 2 -7

    Over the course of the week there is the opportunity to go on an all-day drive, allowing you the chance to explore deeply into the Park. Taking a picnic lunch with you, lunch can be set up in the shade of a gorgeous old tree, with the sounds of the bush and the birds a symphony in the background. On other days, you will set off early to catch the morning light and enjoy afternoon/evening drives where you’ll get to see magnificent skyscapes and sunsets, a wealth of migratory birds, lions and leopards on the hunt and occasional dramatic tropical downpours.


    Day 8

    This morning you will enjoy one final hearty breakfast at your camp, and then make your way to Mfuwe Airport for your domestic flight back to Lusaka.


    Best for: Those interested in seeing migrant bird species and breeding plumage; the budget conscious traveller who want great value and stunning photography opportunities

    Included: This safari is sold on a fully inclusive basis with: accommodation, all meals, standard bar drinks, laundry, Mfuwe Airport transfers to/from our camps, inter-camp transfers and two guided safaris per day.


    Please click here to contact one of our consultants to assist you with a comprehensive itinerary

  • Hartley’s top destinations in Africa for birding safaris
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    Hartley’s top destinations in Africa for birding safaris

    Bird watching holidays in Africa are unique, with around 2300 bird species found in Africa, you'll be kept busy almost every moment of your birding holiday. The standard of guiding is superb throughout the continent and you can be sure of a great experience. There are scheduled birding safari departures to specific destinations, but private custom bird watching tours are also available.


    From Zambia with over 400 species of bird occurring in The Luangwa Valley, this is a stunning destination for any ornithologist. One of the top raptor spotting destinations in Africa is the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, shared between Botswana and South Africa.


    Large populations of both Lesser and Greater flamingos breed in some of the Rift Valley Lakes, particularly Lake Nakuru in Kenya. The Rift valley also forms a “flyway’ for many species of migrant moving from southern Africa to Western Asia and eastern Europe.


    In central Africa the Albertine Rift Valley of Rwanda and Uganda offers specialist tropical birds with many endemics. Uganda alone has a national checklist of more than 1000 species. “Special sightings” include the Ruwenzori Apalis, Ruwenzori Turaco and the Green-breasted Pitta. Uganda is also a good place to look for the enigmatic Shoebill.


    Madagascar is another birding hotspot – of the approximately 290 species recorded on the island just over 100 are endemic – in other words they are found nowhere else on earth.


    Further places to explore would be The Bale Mountains in Ethiopia; Mana Pools in Zimbabwe, the Cape Coastal areas, the Kwa Zulu Natal reserves and the Kruger National Park in South Africa, the Okavango Delta in Botswana and Etosha in Namibia to name a few.


    When should we go birding?


    The best time to see birds in Southern Africa is between November and March. These countries are all excellent destinations with many birding Safaris available: South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi.


    In East Africa, the best time to go birding is January - March. Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia are all very popular birding destinations during these seasons.


    West Africa offers a huge and exciting variety of birds and the best time to visit Cameroon, the Gambia and other destinations is during the European winter from November to March.



    How to get a good bird’s eye view:


    There are two elements essential to the enjoyment of any African birding safari – plenty of birds, and excellent guiding.  When asked by guests, what is needed for birding, a simple answer is a good pair of binoculars, a sun hat and a notebook if required.


    More than anything you will need a good pair of bins / binos or for the uninitiated binoculars, as well as a bird field guide specific to your safari area.  Every naturalist using binoculars has an opinion on magnification, and there is never a shortage of advice as to what constitutes the best magnification for safari goers and birding.  Taken from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology here are 6 steps to choosing the correct binoculars



    • For almost any bird that crosses your path, a good pair of binoculars will show you fine details, make colours pop out of shadows, and improve your chance of identifying what you’ve seen. For most bird watchers, binoculars soon become almost an extension of their bodies.

    • Decide on your price range. Top-of-the-line binoculars give you a pristine image in a comfortable, durable package. Lower price ranges also offer some great options, thanks to technological advances in the last decade.

    • Pick a magnification. Deciding between 8x and 10x binoculars is a personal choice. In general 10x are better at distance birding. But it usually also means a narrower field of view, a slightly darker image in low light, and more noticeable hand-shake. An 8x gives you a smaller image that’s wider, brighter, and easier for finding and following birds. Test a lot of models. No two birders look through binoculars exactly the same way. Size of hands, shape of face, how you focus, how you carry the bins when you’re not using them—all matter. So pick up as many pairs as you can to get a feel for what suits you.

    • Look for bright, crisp, true colour. Image quality has an overriding importance. How bright are the bins? How sharp? How true are the colours? How well do they resolve details in a backlit image? Most optics stores are better lit than your average forest—find somewhere dark to compare low-light performance. In our ratings, pay special attention to the Clarity/Crispness score to decide on image quality. Note that because of poor image quality, we don’t recommend any compact-style binoculars with objective lenses smaller than about 30 mm.

    • Check the eye relief. Most binoculars have eyecups that retract to accommodate eyeglass wearers or extend to provide shading for those without. Look for durable, multi-adjustable eyecups. If you wear glasses, adjust the eyecups to their minimum position and make sure there’s enough eye relief—you shouldn’t see black rings around the image.


    Review additional features and warranties. Pay attention to field of view and close focus, two measures that affect how much you’ll see. Also pay attention to durability, waterproofing, and warranty—many major optics companies now offer excellent warranties.


    Recommended Birding books:



    • Birds of Southern Africa by Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey, and Warwick Tarboton:  This is a truly excellent bird identification guide. The illustrations are on par with the great Sibley guide of North America and they depict a range of plumage variations (such as differences in gender, age, or region.) This comprehensive list includes each of the 900 plus species which occur in Southern Africa.

    • Collins Field Guide to the Birds of East Africa:  The Collins Field Guide to the Birds of East Africa is an excellent book if you are visiting any of the countries in this this spectacular birding region, including Kenya and Tanzania.

    • Newman’s Birds of Southern Africa:  The eighth edition of this popular Southern African birding book has been updated to incorporate the information obtained since the previous edition relating to the birds of the region. 

    • Sasol Birds of Southern Africa:  The book features an advanced technique for improved field identification, and an extensive taxonomy featuring corrected misidentifications and recorded species splits that have occurred since the previous edition.

    • Birds of East Africa is the classic, indispensable field guide by Terry Stevenson and John Fanshawe covering the birds of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi.

    • Beat about the Bush: This African birding book by Trevor Carnaby is the latest in the excellent ‘Beat About The Bush’ series in which the most common and interesting questions about the bush are answered, the kind of questions that a safari guide is often asked.

SATSA No. 207
 

Hartley’s Safaris is registered with Southern Africa Tourism Association Registration number 207.

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Hartley’s Safaris
South Africa (Pty) Ltd
Reg no: 2001/006019/07
United Kingdom
Copyright © 2016 Hartley's Safaris SA

Okavango Explorations (UK) Ltd
T/A Hartleys Safaris
Registered in England No. 2348880
Copyright © 2016 Hartley's Safaris UK

SATSA No. 207

The air holidays and flights shown are ATOL Protected by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Our ATOL number is ATOL 3958. Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website.

Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected.

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