There are few destinations as romantic as Africa. Vast blue skies curve down to golden grasslands that roll to the horizon, framed by distant mountains marching away in shades of navy and purple. Africa awakens your senses: the scent of wild sage, the cry of a fish eagle, and goosebump-inducing leopard sightings. The days are deliciously hot and the nights comfortably cool. African hospitality is warm and sincere, and when it comes to fine dining or lavish luxury, a leading safari lodge is hard to beat.
The arrival of May during my northern hemisphere childhood promised the long, warm and sometimes sunny days of summer. South of the equator, however, things are heading in the opposite direction. Days are shortening and chairs are getting pulled a little closer to the campfire.
Growing up in South Africa, I was lucky enough to make regular visits to private game parks and reserves, like Addo Elephant National Park and the Kruger National Park. My first ‘game ranger-tracker-and-driver’ was my grandfather, who taught us grandkids the value of getting up before dawn, driving slowly, keeping quiet and training your eye to distinguish elephants from rocks and springbok from impala. At about 10, the ‘I want to be a game ranger when I grow up’ phase hit hard, and I amassed a huge collection of dead dung beetles, abandoned weavers’ nests, old warthog teeth and found antelope horns.
It’s 3:30am, -8°C / 18°F and all I want to do is lie down and go to sleep. The only reason I'm keeping my feet moving is my guide, Milton's encouragement.
Namibia is a land of endless blue skies, vast horizons and crisp mornings: pure joy for photography enthusiasts. It is also safe, clean and organized with an excellent infrastructure, making it a favourite destination for family vacations, especially self-drive safaris (that’s travel lingo for independant road tripping - an ideal way to vacation with teenagers).
Today's teenagers are rarely seen without earphones resolutely docked in their ears, fingers deftly generating more text messages per minute than Reuters issues global news updates. Their constant connectivity with friends in cyberspace often disconnects them from the people around them, their parents and even their siblings.
When your Africa safari is booked and confirmed, you'll likely experience a surge of emotions, ranging from the excitement of anticipating a new adventure to the thrill of fulfilling a dream and, perhaps, a tiny tingle of anxiety about possible health concerns (often fuelled by friends or family who have never travelled to Africa).
Rhinos Without Borders is a big, bold and ambitious project launched and managed by two of our most credible travel partners, Great Plains Conservation and &Beyond. Their goal is to move a hundred rhinos from poaching hotspots in South Africa to safer, military-protected reserves in Botswana giving the species a chance to recover and form a new breeding nucleus. Before we signed up as supporters, our Managing Director Gary Lotter particpated in the first rhino capture for relocation. This is Gary's remarkable story of a momentous, bittersweet rescue effort.
Of all the destinations in the world, I'll wager that Africa offers the best family vacations. Where else can you see the beloved creatures that inspired a dozen Disney movies, or pack healthy fun in the great outdoors into once-in-a-lifetime, child-friendly itineraries? Where else can you enjoy superb settings, fine dining and excellent service at a price that won't blow your budget?
Contrary to popular belief, bucket lists aren’t only for retired folk who are keen to SKI (‘spend the kids’ inheritance’). Today, youngsters are more switched on than ever before and after spending hours watching BBC or Lost Planet documentaries, many can’t wait to come to Africa and experience the thrill of seeing a leopard in the wild or elephant family at play for themselves.