CUSTOM SAFARIS IN SOUTHERN AFRICA
What we're all about and how we can assist
Fish Eagle Safaris specializes in working with our clients to design high quality, tailor-made customized safaris in all areas of Southern Africa including South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia. We have done this successfully for 15 years now and we offer a good mix of in-country experience and excellent contacts in Southern Africa. Having lived in South Africa for more than 40 years, we have an innate feel for things like distances, weather, seasonality, animal distribution etc without ever having to consult a guidebook. All of these factors contribute to the design of customized itineraries which work well and which appeal to the special interests of the particular party involved.
Also, we have built up excellent relationships with our travel partners in Southern and East Africa over the years. The volume of work which we book with Wilderness Safaris and other African travel operators enable us to keep our prices as low as possible. Even so, our organization is lean so our clients are not paying for lots of non-productive overhead. Our track record speaks for itself: many of our clients return to Africa with us regularly, some year after year.
In our opinion, a rewarding safari experience has much more to do with the quality of the guiding and the area where one finds oneself, and - sometimes - the time of year, than with the accommodation itself. As a general guideline, we avoid booking ultra-deluxe camps or lodges where the focus is on things such as gourmet cuisine and having fresh flowers in the room. We are not averse to including more expensive properties if they happen to be located in superb game-viewing areas, or to add some variety to an itinerary.
That being said, we try to find a happy medium by seeking good value. Many of the Wilderness Safaris properties which we book do offer good value, but they are nonetheless expensive, for a myriad of reasons to do with concession fees, cost of transporting goods, fuel prices, low volume of business etc.
On the few occasions where we have booked some properties that are in a lower budget category than we are comfortable with, it has caused problems for us because our clients rightfully complain about the discomfort/bad guiding/poor game-viewing etc. This reflects poorly on us as well, so we avoid booking inexpensive properties unless we have first-hand knowledge of the property, such as various Kruger Park or Etosha Rest Camps, which we have included in many itineraries in the past.
Why a fly-in safari?
Our fly-in safaris, with daily or weekly departures, allow us to offer safaris that you can design to suit your own time frame and interests. Further, and more importantly, our fly-in safaris offer our clients the opportunity of covering a larger diversity of habitats than would be possible on a vehicle safari. Once you arrive at your destination, your game and other nature-oriented activities begin in open 4-wheel drive vehicles, boats, canoes, mokoros or on foot.
In deciding upon areas to visit or selecting a specific trip, try to avoid too busy an itinerary. We always urge prospective visitors to spend more time in fewer locations. Slowing down a safari has many benefits, not the least of which is that it reduces the 'per diem' cost due to relatively fewer charter flights. Spending several days in any one area enables you to enjoy all the activities in the area, to re-visit favorite spots, and to take the time to look for specific animals and to enjoy their behavior and interaction, as opposed to just finding them. The animals move around in real time, and it never hurts to have an extra day here or there. You will also build up a better rapport with your guides and benefit from their special knowledge of each area. Spending less time traveling between locations is the real luxury and will allow you an opportunity to connect with an area and discover the true meaning of a safari Swahili for "journey".
In Botswana as elsewhere in Southern Africa we use Wilderness Safariss as our ground operator. They are arguably the foremost nature tour operator in Southern Africa and have won worldwide acclaim for their conservation efforts, especially as it pertains to involving the various local communities. Wilderness Safaris is also well-known for the excellent of its guiding, which we consider to be crucial for a successful safari.
In Botswana, we offer a very wide range of fly-in trips to suit practically every interest and pocket - feel free to call Bert or Kathleen at 800/513-5222 or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your specific request. Amongst the Botswana trips on offer are the following:
Wings Over the Okavango and Linyanti- any duration. This is a flying safari, which departs every day of the year to any Wilderness Safaris camps in the Okavango and Linyanti, for any duration of time. Each safari is customized to each guest's requirements. Guests can create their own itinerary to visit their preferred camps.
In Namibia, we are likewise able to combine (making use of scheduled charter flight between all areas which operate every day) a variety of Wilderness Safari and other camps in areas such as Sossusvlei (massive red sand dunes); Damaraland (desert-adapted elephant) and Etosha (game-viewing, including good numbers of rhino).
We also offer two package trips in Namibia, namely the Best of Namibia Wing Safaris and the Skeleton Coast fly-in safari:
Best of Namibia Wing Safari A Wings Exploration - 6 nights/7 days; departs every Sunday from Windhoek.
Features of this safari: Private charters between camps minimize travel time and provide a bird's-eye view of the immense landscape. Diverse activities enhance in-depth experience of the landscape, including dolphin cruise, seafood lunch and quad biking. Seamless experience with one expert pilot-guide leading throughout. Small group size ensures that special interests are satisfied. Enormous concessions and private camps combine with advantages of nearby National Parks.
Days 1 & 2: Fly to Sossusvlei Wilderness Camp, Namib Desert.
Days 3 & 4: Fly to Walvis Bay for dolphin boat cruise and Swakopmund touring, then on to Damaraland Camp, Damaraland.
Days 5 & 6: Fly to Ongava Game Reserve, and Etosha Region. Day 7: Transfer back to Windhoek.
Fresh water springs permeate through barren sands to create rare oases in the desert which sustain pockets of wildlife. Springbok, Gemsbok (Oryx), the Desert Elephant, Ostrich, Jackal and Brown Hyena eke out an existence in this rugged terrain, along with vegetation like Welwitschia which has adapted to the harsh conditions.
The arid desert environment in the Skeleton Coast is within the northern reaches of the Namib Desert. The Benguela current brings cold waters all the way from Antarctica and helps to moderate temperatures. The cool air off the ocean meets the hotter desert air, and nearly every morning, a cool mist envelops the coastline, bringing life sustaining moisture to the desert.
There are many regions in the Skeleton Coast. On these Safaris, we visit the most isolated, beautiful, remote (and private) northen sector of the park, from just north of Mowe Bay to just south of the Kunene River. This area has been set aside by the government for low volume, exclusive safaris.
We offer two safaris, one for four nights/five days (departing every Saturday) and another for three nights/four days (departing every Wednesday). Both are flying safaris, starting and ending in Windhoek. However once we arrive at the Skeleton Coast we spend all our time in vehicles. Both Safaris can usually be combined with our Best of Namibia Wing Safari to create the Ultimate Namibian Safari.
This safari is unlike any of our other safaris. The area is so vast and there is so much to see and experience. If you have the time available, make sure you book the five day safari. We abandon our traditional early morning and afternoon activities and leave camp after breakfast and spend the full day exploring the park. A picnic lunch is enjoyed out in the wild and we return to base camp in the later afternoon. We travel in 4x4 Land Rovers and cover an extraordinary variety of terrain. All safaris visit remote Himba villages just outside the park for an incredible cultural experience.
Even though this is a "Five Paw" safari, the terrain is harsh, rough and rugged. We will try and make this as comfortable as possible, but we have no way of hiding from elements. Sometimes we can experience cold temperatures - and then 400m up the valley, we encounter warm desert winds. This is not a safari for those without a spirit of adventure, but it will be enjoyed by those who are looking for a true wilderness experience in some of the most spectacular scenery in Southern Africa.
* About a week in Cape Town and the South-western Cape, which is very rich in culture and history. In addition to the Peninsula itself, you may wish to spend a few days in a Cedarberg lodge such as Bushman's Kloof, specifically for San Bushman rock art.
* If you would like to spend some time along the coast, the Cape Garden Route is very scenic, and it also offers interesting cultural experiences and some game-viewing in places such as Addo Elephant Park. From a reasonably priced lodge such as Elephant House one can enjoy a range of activities. There are also more upscale lodges inside Addo such as Gorah Elephant Lodge.
* Another very interesting area from a historic & cultural perspective, is Kwazulu-Natal and in particular the Drakensberg, the Natal midlands and northern Kwazulu-Natal. Amongst areas of interest are the Zulu culture & traditions, mountain scenery & San rock art, historic battlefields, and several good game reserves in the far northern part of the province.
* I would suggest spending about 7 to 10 days on safari, in one or two areas, such as the Sabi Sand Reserve (MalaMala game lodge or similar) and perhaps a second property in the Timbavati area, or alternatively Pafuri.
So in summary, I would say an ideal South Africa of 3 week's duration could look as follows:
* Approximately 1 week in Cape Town & the south-western
* MalaMala Main Camp or Rattray's (Sabi Sand Reserve). Consistently good game-viewing year round with all of the Big Five mammals seen practically every day of the year. Rattray's is more expensive but has maximum of 4 persons per game drive. Best to avoid this area from December through March. Best time to go August through October.
* Kings Camp, Timbavati. Good combination with MalaMala as in similar bushveld habitat, but further north with more open woodland and hence different wildlife mix. Good alternative camp if you want to include a tented property is Tanda Tula. Excellent value.
* Mashatu game Reserve. Tuli Block This lodge is in Botswana but is easily reached from South Africa and combines well with Kruger Park properties. Particularly good for leopard (some of our clients have had as many as 5 to 7 different leopard sightings there over 3 to 4 nights) and also some other unusual sightings such as eland.
* Instead of Timbavati area, a good alternative property or another one to add if you have a bit more time, is Pafuri, in the far northern part of Kruger Park. Superb setting, stunning scenic beauty and in terms of thhe experience very much like what Kruger Park used to be like, a decade or two ago. Not many other vehicles, good cultural interaction as well with local village.
Zambia & Malawi Not an area which I know well, but based on clients' experience, I would recommend a combination of:
* Kafue Game Reserve Tuli Block This lodge is in Botswana but is easily reached from South Africa and combines well with Kruger Park properties. Particularly good for leopard (some of our clients have had as many as 5 to 7 different leopard sightings there over 3 to 4 nights) and also some other unusual sightings such as eland.
"For instance, we could not have known to ask for camps that weren't crowded with 10 vans at every animal sighting. We saw evidence of that after we left our part of the Luangwa Valley. We had been very secluded. On the way out, we saw just how busy some of the other camps and areas were. We were really glad to not have been there. "
"Our first guides, Patrick and Ian, at Kaingo and Mwambwa respectively, were extraordinary. Mary and I, who were both a bit uneasy about the proximity to wild animals, felt immediately confident in their wisdom and knowledge of animal patterns. We had so many questions and learned so much. We were very grateful to them for making it such an amazing experience. It was a perfect introduction to Africa. "
"We loved the distinctive nature of each camp and of the different cultures evident in Zambia and Malawi. And, we relished the chance to rest between camp life and city life in the well chosen Kaya Mawa."
* Lower Zambezi National Park specifically Sausage Treee Camp. Very diverse activities ranging from game drives & walking to boating, fishing etc.
For a change of pace, you may wish to include a few days in Malawi at Kaya Mawa on Lake Malawi, and/or at Mvuu Lodge in the Shire River Valley. Neither are game-viewing experiences first and foremost (although Mvuu has lots of hippo!) but they offer a bit of the Africa of old, which is quickly disappearing as the lodges try to outdo each other with aromatherapy, spa treatments, avant garde design elements etc.
This safari explores the best of Zambia and Malawi on a safari which can be customized for any duration. The itinerary below works well with eight days. Two of the region's finest wildlife parks are combined with the shores of Lake Malawi to offer a superb wildlife, scenic and cultural experience in one of Africa's friendliest and least spoiled regions. The combination of aerial viewing, open 4x4 vehicle game drives, foot safaris and boating provides guests with an enriching and varied experience. This safari has daily departures from Lilongwe airport for a minimum of two people. Accommodation is in choice premium tented camps or hotels.
Best of Central Africa Wing Safari
Days 1 to 3 : Luangwa Valley
The next three nights are spent enjoying the wildlife of the Luangwa in open 4x4 safari vehicles by day and at night, as well as on walking safaris. All the camps are between four and nine rooms - so they offer personal service and flexibility.
Wildlife highlights in the Luangwa include all the big game - Elephants, Lion, Buffalo and in particular, Leopard.
We transfer back to Mfuwe for the charter flight to Malawi, and then fly onto Liwonde National park, one of the most scenic and diverse game parks around. The park straddles the Shire River, the main drainage outlet for Lake Malawi. The attractive riverine forest, dominated by palm, is home to some of the best wildlife in the region - huge Crocodiles, countless pods of Hippo, Sable, Elephants and some of the best birding on he continent await visitors to this park.
Accommodation for the next two nights is at Mvuu Lodge - a 10 bedded, comfortable tented camp situated on the banks of the Shire River. Activities centre on wonderful game viewing and birding by boat, in open 4x4 vehicles, night drives and walks.
Days 6 and 7 : Lake Malawi
From Mvuu we travel by road or by air to the remote Chintheche Inn, situated on the shores of Lake Malawi. The lake here is free of bilharzia and offers safe swimming in the clear waters of one of Africa's largest fresh water lakes. These two nights offer a fascinating contrast to the rest of the safari. Besides the beach and the water-sport activities, guests can visit the neighbouring traditional villages and learn about and enjoy rural African culture, traditions and village life.
After breakfast you are flown or driven back to Lilongwe where your safari ends.
Day 1 Chelinda Lodge Nyika National Park
On arrival at Lilongwe International Airport you will be met and assisted with Immigration formalities before joining your charter aircraft for the flight to Chelinda Lodge, Nyika National Park. The flight takes about 90 minutes and you will fly north along the spine of Malawi-over the Viphya Mountains, and then onto the Nyika Plateau. Usually, with clear skies you will get good views of Lake Malawi off to your east.
Nyika National Park is scenically Malawi's most spectacular wild area and is worthy of a visit as much for the scenery as for the wildlife. It boasts an incredible mixture of scenery and landscapes - pristine brachystegia woodland, mature montane forest patches, crystal clear running streams and miles and miles of open rolling grassland. Being situated at a mean height of over 2,000 metres guarantees a permanently temperate climate which is of particular contrast to the lakeshore areas of Malawi. Days can be spent walking, game driving and relaxing at the lodge There are also horse riding opportunities for keen riders. Game that can be spotted includes Burchell's Zebra, Roan antelope, Common reedbuck, Eland, Bushbuck, Warthog, leopard, hyena, side-striped jackal and serval. Birdlife is prolific, and specials' include Churring and Mountain cisticolas, Red-tufted malachite sunbird, Fulleborn's black bou-bou, Bar-tailed trogon, Mountain nightjar and several species of Bulbul which occur deep in the canopy of the forests.
With panoramic views over the rolling grasslands of the Plateau, Chelinda Lodge has one of the most magnificent settings in Africa. Sixteen guests can be accommodated in eight individual en-suite log cabins, each with its own log fire. The log cabins surround the main dining area and are connected by raised wooden walkways.The lodge offers a fully inclusive stay of all meals, accommodation and activities of game drives by day and night, walks, and mountain biking.
Horse riding and trout fishing are available at extra cost. Park fees and drinks are also included.
Days 2 and 3
Day 4 : Chintheche Inn Lake Malawi
The Inn has an excellent reputation for fine cuisine and offers a full bar. Snorkeling, swimming and boating opportunities are available and local excursions can easily be arranged - bird watching, diving at Nkhata Bay, points of local interest and cultural safaris. There is also a recently built swimming pool for those who prefer with a 180-degree view of the lake.
All meals and non motorized watersports are include in the tariff and motorized watersports and local excursions are available at a small extra charge payable locally.
Mvuu Wilderness Lodge Liwonde National Park
Today you will fly from Chintheche to Mvuu - this is a truly wonderful flight that follows the shores of Lake Malawi for much of the way and takes about one and three quarter hours. You will fly over the scenic Cape Maclear Peninsula, and the port of Monkey Bay and see hundreds of idyllic fishing villages that have existed unchanged for hundreds of years. As you approach Liwonde National Park you fly along the Shire River, and may well see herds of elephant and sable on the floodplains as you descend to land at Mvuu.
Mvuu Wilderness Lodge is situated in the heart of Liwonde National Park on the banks of a quiet lagoon flowing off the Shire River. The lodge offers comfortable tented accommodation in spacious "Hemingway"-styled safari tents, with own en suite facilities for a maximum of 10 guests. Each tent has its own private viewing platform and is discreetly hidden between the thick undergrowth bordering the lagoon. The lodge has a swimming pool, sun deck and al fresco dining platform overlooking the river and lagoon. Your stay on is on a full board basis, including the game activities which centre around game drives by day and by night in open vehicles, walks and boat safaris, a unique activity at Mvuu. We explore the Shire River and lagoons - an excellent opportunity for sightings of elephants, hippo, crocodile and bird life. Birding is rewarding - specialities include Lillian's lovebird, brown breasted barbet, osprey, palmnut vulture, Pel's fishing owl and Livingstone's flycatcher.
Also available is a viewing hide on a tributary of the Shire River and also some interesting visits bty local bicycle to the local school and surrounding rural communities.
Included in your stay are all meals, game activities, park fees, and laundry. Drinks are extra and can be settled on departure.
For a trip which includes some walking (and the near-legendary Mana Canoe Trail), I think our Zimbabwe itinerary is hard to beat. Definitely good value for money as a safari of similar duration in Zambia or Botswana (and of the same quality) would be closer to $6,000.00 + per person. Zimbabwe is a controversial destination, but much of what one reads about the country consists of rumors and half-truths, often hearsay. This is especially true of online forums and newsgroups where there is no accountability as on the part of a real journalist.
Zimbabwean expatriates and South Africans are amongst the worst 'culprits' when it comes to spreading inaccurate stories about the situation in Zimbabwe.
There is a US State Department travel advisory about Zimbabwe, but it is cautionary in nature: it does not recommend curtailing or limiting non-essential travel to the area. It states that all U.S. citizens in Zimbabwe are advised to take those measures they deem appropriate to ensure their personal safety.
In nearly 15 years of sending clients to Wilderness Safaris' camps in Zimbabwe, we have never had any kind of problem. There is minimal exposure as the camps (such as Makalolo Plains, Musango and Ruckomechi) are located in remote private concessions and guests travel there and back by light air charter, direct from Victoria Falls Airport. Wilderness Safaris have reliable access to fuel and provisions, and shortages do not affect their guests. Wilderness Safaris (and the guests who support their camps in Zimbabwe) make a major contribution to the survival of wildlife in the area as they (Wilderness Safaris) maintain and operate many boreholes and pumps in the southern part of Hwange Game Reserve.
ZIMBABWE FLY-IN SAFARI
Day 1: ILALA LODGE, VICTORIA FALLS
Fly JNB to Victoria Falls. (Flight quoted separately) Arrive VFA. Scheduled road transfer to Ilala Lodge for 2 nights on a Bed & Breakfast basis.
The Ilala Lodge is the closest hotel to the Victoria Falls. It is a small, intimate hotel offering 23 twin bedded rooms, 6 double bedded rooms and 2 luxury suites, which ensures a special atmosphere. Each room has an overhead fan, en-suite bathroom and French windows that open out onto the lawn and natural bush of the private estate. The Victoria Falls are a short 10 minute walk from the lodge.
Day 3: MAKALOLO PLAINS CAMP, HWANGE
Scheduled road transfer from Ilala to VFA Airport. Light air transfer to Little Makalolo or Makalolo Plains for 3 nights on a Fully Inclusive basis.
There are excellent opportunities to view game from open 4x4 vehicles during the early morning and late afternoon, when game is most active. Foot safaris are also offered, and are accompanied by an armed professional guide. The camp is set in a unique location, overlooking the Samavundhla Pan - which attracts game in good concentrations.
The entire camp is raised on wooden boardwalks and platforms, giving guests excellent views over the waterhole and floodplain in front of the camp. Accommodation consists of nine large, comfortable tented rooms with en-suite shower, toilet and basin - all with hot and cold running water.
There is an outdoor shower for those who enjoy showering under the stars. The lighting in the rooms is battery powered - ensuring peace and quiet in camp. Meals are enjoyed in the separate raised dining area. There is also a lounge, pub and plunge pool. The camp has hides overlooking the waterhole, which allow guests to enjoy close up game viewing.
Day 6: MUSANGO SAFARI CAMP, MATUSADONA
MUSANGO SAFARI CAMP
Activities include walks into the Matusadona National Park (where they have a high success rate of locating the rare black rhino) and the nearby Game Sanctuary; game viewing by boat along the many inlets and creeks and casual canoe paddling up adjacent creeks where bird life is prolific and the scenery breathtaking. We also offer fishing (our boats are fully equipped with tackle and bait); plus we conduct dinosaur fossil and early stone-age site visits. Morning visits to the nearby village may also be arranged and the Black Rhino orphanage, close to Musango, is well worth a visit. Guests fly to the Bumi Hills airstrip and we then arrange a short transfer by boat to the island.
Day 9: RUCKOMECHI CAMP, MANA POOLS
On the western boundary of the Mana Pools National Park, nestled in a large grove of Acacia and Mahogany trees, Ruckomechi Camp overlooks the Zambezi River with a superb view of the mountains of Africa's Great Rift Valley in the distance.
The camp accommodates guests in 10 thatched chalets, with en-suite bathroom that includes a shower, toilet and basin. There is a honeymoon suite that overlooks the Zambezi River, as well as one of the camp's favorite facilities: an outdoor "bath with a view"! The central dining, pub and lounge area is under cool thatch on the river's edge, facing the escarpment.
Wildlife is excellent in the area, and Ruckomechi offers diverse game activities, including wildlife-viewing drives in 4x4 vehicles, boats, canoes, and fishing. Daily nature walks are available with a professional guide. Kudu, zebra, impala and waterbuck can be seen on the surrounding plains, and elephant take advantage of the plentiful Albida (Ana) trees in the area. Predators including lion, wild dog, leopard, and cheetah, are often sighted, and large concentrations of buffalo can be found along the river's edges. Bird watching tends to be very good, with the river attracting large numbers of waterbirds.
Day 10: MANA POOLS WALKING & CANOE TRAIL
MANA CANOE TRAIL An Adventurer Exploration - 3 nights/4 days
FEATURES OF THIS SAFARI
Day 2 & 3
Fish Eagle Safaris
11152 Westheimer #150
Houston, TX 77042
Tel 1-800-513-5222 (USA and Canada)
Tel 713-467-5222 (from outside North America)