Southern Africa Calling

Aug 08, 2023 Avatar Hilton Smith Hilton Smith

Truly unique and adventurous journeys can require longer travel times and more advance planning.  Nevertheless they can also be some of the most fulfilling.  Family owned Trans Africa Safaris was my partner in a truly spectacular Southern Africa adventure.

I was one of ten to participate in a two week experience to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana.  Designed for travel professionals, it was more stops and a faster pace than generally recommended. This structure however gave us a greater variety of experiences to later use to advise our clients. With the complexity involved, I would never do a self booked trip to Africa or entrust it to one who has never been there.

On our two week journey, there was never a glitch, even at Victoria Falls. On our visit, there was a smaller African summit which impacted security. Trans Africa switched our activities so we would not be impacted.

Our trip started out in spectacular Cape Town split between the contemporary One & Only and the traditional Belmond Mount Nelson Hotels. They were both excellent in their own ways. Our excursions included the Wine Country, Table Mountain and The Tip Of the Cape including the penguins. It did not include Robbin Island where leader Nelson Mandela was held captive for many years.  Cape Town is full of energy and a must for a traveler to this region.

Then we flew Airlink to Victoria Falls Airport into Zimbabwe and then on a Mack Air light aircraft charter to Bush Camp Somalisa landing on an unpaved air strip.  Safari vehicles at the ready we were off on our first game drive on the way to camp.  This region was full of game including elephants, impala, kudu, lions and the rest.  The tents were big, service and food good and the guides knowledgeable. No air conditioning but there was Wi-Fi. Game drives here and elsewhere typically happen in the early morning and late afternoon.

After two nights we were off back to Victoria Falls with a stay at the Stanley and Livingston Lodge at the edge of the bush.  This was a truly luxury lodge with every convenience. Although fenced, we could see rhinos and impala from our rooms. We explored Victoria Falls National Park,  did a cruise down the Zambezi River and flew over Victoria Falls in a helicopter.  All of this was timed and coordinated and it was flawless.

Botswana was our final country with stays at two camps.  The first was the Belmond Savute Elephant Camp.  This camp was more refined with extra comforts like air conditioned tents in a better design, upgraded food and more comfortable safari vehicles.  The reserve here was different in that it was not a private concession.  Those from other lodges and individuals could access the park with a paid permit.  There were not a lot of people but there were some.  Game viewing here was very good.

Our final stop involved another Mack Air light aircraft flight to the Okavango Delta and the new Dukes Camp that just opened last year.  It was more authentic and in a water position.  The tents were smaller and the facilities pared down but it made you more in touch with the animals which you could hear clearly at night.  There were small boat excursions as well as the safari jeep ones. There was no Wi-Fi which we knew in advance.

For those that have never been on safari,  this is not a movie.  It is not a new animal every few minutes.  Part of the experience is the hunt and anticipation with an experienced guide.  It is also understanding the beauty and drama that is the African bush.  We saw so much. We observed  wild dogs playing in a mud hole and 30 minutes later the same wild dogs tearing an unfortunate kudu apart for food.

This is travel on a higher level because it is out of our the normal comfort zone, not always convenient or comfortable but it can be very rewarding.

My trip there and back was on British Airways in both Club World and First Class.  BA continues to do a stellar job of getting me around the world.  The A380 in First from Johannesburg to London was a real treat.

Let us show you the way to the African adventure  of your dreams.