Posts Tagged ‘africa travel’

Kenya: Hanging with the Maasai Mara

Extraordinary Journeys Africa

This week, one of my friends posted that she was headed to Kenya for some photography work.  In addition to her being an all around creative badass, she’s probably been to Kenya more times than I can count, but each time she mentions Africa, I start to daydream about the dusty roads, colorful smells, and vibrant energy of Nairobi. So, of course, I felt compelled to find some cool, feel good trips to this glorious nation just for you. To that end, I came across Extraordinary Journeys Africa, specialists in bespoke customized safaris to Africa, who are offering a unique six night trip to Kenya for the last minute travel junkies (October 10th-16th, 2011). Now, since I’m a fly-by-my-seat kinda gal, that’s *just enough* time for me to find someone to water my plants so I can jet off to Kenya.  Why is this trip so cool? you ask.

Well, it’s a community exchange program with a remote Masai Mara community followed by a luxury safari adventure, that’s why.  For a special rate of $6,000 per person (normally $7,200), it’s being done in partnership with the Founder and Project Director of Under the Acacia organization and the first two days will be spent in the remote area of Loita hills where travelers will be introduced to an impoverished community that in just two years has been equipped with schools, sanitation, running water and a thriving community. Travelers will experience exclusive interactions with community members and learn ways in which they can make a difference. The next four nights of the trip will be spent in the beautiful Masai Mara exploring the amazing wildlife and experiencing thrilling safari adventures of a lifetime.

Community Project: $500 will be donated on behalf of each participant to help build a new classroom at Esoit Academy in Kenya. This project is spearheaded by Under the Acacia, a not-for-profit that works in tandem with remote communities in Kenya to generate sustainable initiatives and community development.

Masai Mara Reserve

Itinerary:

October 10-11 Loita/Olarro

Participants fly to Siana Springs where their driver/guide warmly welcomes them and takes them on a game drive en route to the luxury Olarro Camp, nestled along the Loita Hills. In partnership with Under the Acacia, guests will  meet with the chiefs, elders, and students of this special community of Maasai. The next day, they participate in the school opening and a very lively dedication ceremony at the new Esoit Academy.

October 12,13,14,15: Maasai Mara/Olanana

On day three, a beautiful three-hour drive takes guests to Olonana Camp where they can experience daily game drives to see the great migration of the wildebeest or track the Big Five; take advantage of the spa facilities by trying traditional African remedies; or relax in the library on their private terrace overlooking the river filled with hippos below. Guests will also be able to arrange for hot air balloon rides, bush dinners or visiting another Under the Acacia school project (a 1.5-hour drive away). After lunch on the last day, visitors fly to Wilson Airport and transfer to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for their flights home.

About EJ Africa
Run by an extraordinary mother-daughter team, EJ Africa organizes customized trips for honeymooners, families and individual travelers to Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Mixing and matching safaris, camps, lodges, and villas, with travel by private planes, 4x4s, hot air balloons, elephant, camel and even horse, EJ Africa has planned over 500 trips to Africa and not one has been the same.

www.ejafrica.com

Daredevil Takes Dakar

Victoria Korosi, Eco-Adventurer Extraordinaire

Victoria Korosi, resident Jaunt Magazine Contributor and Eco-Adventure junkie extraordinaire, has hit up hamams in Syria, swigged Pepsi in Petra, and flung her flair from here to Beirut, Africa, and well… everywhere. Now, she fills in our wise and wild Eco-Adventurers on the mysteries of traveling to Dakar, Senegal… solo. Yes, she’s one badass chick that makes our top ten list of all things Eco-Adventure.

Into the Desert and on to Dakar…

Determined to trek Desert Lompoul without a guide or a group, I was given explicit (see also: vague and questionably accurate) instructions from Babacar upon leaving Saint Louis. They were as follows, in a combination of English, French, Wolof, and charades:

Babacar: Get yourself to Kebemer.

Me: ok

(Inside my head: Must find map. Where is Kebemer?)

Babacar: Once in Kebemer, hitch a ride to Lompoul Village. Down the dirt road to the right.

Me: ok

(Wait, they’re all dirt roads?)

Babacar: Once in the village, wait for a “cat cat.”

Me: ok

(?????)

Babacar: Ask them to take you into the dessert to Amad….

Me: ok

(What was his name? Ugh, I should have been writing this down)

Babacar: He will have a tent and blanket for you and show you where to sleep

Me: ok

(Horrified)

Driving Dakar

Somehow I did make it out into the desert and – generally – unscathed. Once I met Amadou, I realized that any introduction Babacar may have sent was clearly coming via messenger pigeon as he had no idea who I was or why I was there. And really… I didn’t know myself. After several rounds of Pictionary in the sand (though I was able to explain to him that yes, I could see he had a camp already set up for tourists, but if possible, couldn’t he just drive me a bit further out into the sand, leave me with a blanket and a tent, and pick me up in the morning?) And, because it’s Africa, and liability guidelines are seemingly just a suggestion, we set out into the desert.

A NYC girl at heart, my camping skills are deplorable at best, but as soon as dusk started to fade into night, I knew I had no intentions of sleeping anywhere, but out in the open. This was convenient too as the rusted apparatus left with me and meant to pass as a tent, which I’m still certain was missing a few very strategic poles, imploded on itself three times before I thought better to just leave it in a pile on the ground.

The Dunes of Senegal

Lying awake on the sand, swimming in an endless expanse of a thousand stars, everything felt perfectly in place. How had I forgotten my love affair with Africa’s night sky? To bask completely alone under the layers of constellations, enveloped in the cavernous swells of the wind whispering through the dunes? As a traveler, it was one of those moments when the sense of accomplishement collides with the natural beauty around you and you exhale, completely content and sure again of why you do this.

Waking up in the desert, I took a quick inventory of the damage: 328 mosquito bites, 27 minutes of sleep, a still pristine pile of unused tent, and sore lungs from far too many nervous cigarettes in the middle of the night. Mosquito bites and sore muscles corralled, I set out to leave Lompoul, which somehow proved to be even more of a escapade than getting there in the first place.

The ramble back began with a cat-cat to the village, which, as decoded by one of my fave French travelers, is slang for quatre-quatre, ie) a 4×4! From there, it was a sept plus taxi to Kebemer. Sept plus translated means “7 people,” but clearly the conversion on this is loose as we were 10 people, a baby, and a goat, all crammed into a station wagon with wood slats holding the floor together.

The Beach of N'gore

The next step back to Dakar was a Car Rapide. These are colorfully decorated mini buses with “Alhamdoulilai” written on the front. The phrase mean Thanks be to God – for not dying on the ride, is my guess.

A claustrophobic ordeal at near death speeds during which my lap was interchangeably used to hold chickens, coconuts, and other people’s children, the Sept plus was, in some strange way, a luxury. Figuring out that this specific Car Rapide was no longer headed for Dakar, and that I urgently needed to transfer “ici”, was a swirl of chaos – bags thrown from the roof, people climbing on top of each other to get out, me trying to find the French word for “Seriously, whose kid is this?” and, fortunately, a kind man next to me to grab my arm and get me onto the already moving bus headed to Dakar.

Another half dozen car rapides, local buses and taxis later, I made it back to the sandy streets and bustling chaos of Senegal’s capital city. Understandably bedraggled from my forays into and out of the desert, I took some time to recover before tackling the next adventure. At the time of writing this I was sitting on the beach in Dakar’s northern neighborhood of N’gor watching the sun sink into the darkness of the sea while the fishing boats rolled back onto the shore for the night. It was an indulgence just to be there – and clean – at last.

Alhamdoulilai.

Sabi Sabi Game Reserve

Sabi Sabi African Safari

Luxury safari lodges… who doesn’t want to partake? The thing is this… some offer unprecedented experiences and others offer the traditional safari jaunt.

Well, you guessed it… we like our safaris a little different than the rest. Enter internationally renowned Sabi Sabi located in the Sabi Sands Reserve in greater Kruger National Park. Sabi Sabi has a few things you haven’t heard of up their sleeves like: teaching basic survival skills to all you city slickers. Already an award-winning private game reserve boasting some of the world’s best rangers and trackers., these experts are offering their vast knowledge on the practical, nutritional and medicinal uses of various plants, trees and grasses, along with how to find food and water, and ways to maintain proper hygiene if unexpectedly found in the bushveld.

Hello, Bush Baby!

Sabi Sabi Game Reserve

Courtesy of Sabi Sabi, here are a few tips they’ll teach you to survive in the bush:

·         Buffalo thorn leaves to alleviate swelling and settle an upset stomach.

·         Sausage tree is useful in curing many skin ailments.

·         Burn elephant dung and inhale the smoke to cure relieve headaches.

·         Create a toothbrush by cutting a guarrie bush twig, peeling off the bark and using a stone to pound on the twig until it opens and reveals its bristles.

·         Make toothpaste by burning a few branches of the leadwood tree and mixing the white ash with water. Both brush and paste have antibacterial properties that leave teeth healthy.

·         Produce an antibacterial mouthwash by boiling the roots and bark of a knobwood tree for about an hour and rinsing with the brew.

·         Use the soft leaves of the weeping wattle tree for drying or as tissue paper.

·         The tambotie tree is an excellent insect repellant. Carefully cut the wood of the tambotie tree as to avoid the milky sap which can cause eye and skin irritation. Burn the wood and the resulting highly-scented smoke will keep mosquitoes and other bugs away.

·         As for sustenance, there are a variety of edible fruits and berries growing on trees and bushes in the African bushveld. Depending on the season the sour plum, marula, jackalberry, wild date palm, sycamore fig, jacket plum, magic guarrie or white berry is available.

·         For protein, catch a fish. Drop sap from the euphorbia plant into a bundle of grass, tie the bundle to a rock and drop it in the river. Fish in the water will be stupefied and rise to the surface, making it possible to catch them by hand. If there is nothing on hand to do the tying, the bark of several bushveld trees and grasses can be woven into a very strong rope.

So really, what are you waiting for? Sabi Sabi offers world-class standards in luxury accommodation, exceptional wildlife encounters, personal service and delicious cuisine. Suites at Little Bush Camp start at $686. Suites at Bush Camp start at $742.  Suites at the Selati Camp start at $777. Suites at Earth Lodge start at $1190. All rates are per person, per night.

www.sabisabi.com

Gorillaz in Da Mist

Breaking News!! Breaking News!! Breaking News!! Breaking News!! Breaking News!!

Gorillas are Gaining Momentum!

The Gorilla Population In Africa Is On The Rise, Demonstrating Gorilla Tourism’s Positive Impact

Isn’t that exciting? A recent statement from the wildlife agencies of Uganda, Rwanda, and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) stated that the current gorilla populations in all three countries have increased significantly, by 26.3% over the last seven years. This is fantastic news for conservationists and tourism organizations like Volcanoes Safaris, who have worked to protect the gorillas and their habitat while providing travelers with life-changing close encounters with the endangered gorillas.

The gorillas, which can be found in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Parc National des Virunga in the DRC, and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda, are estimated to have a population increase of 3.7%, which, according to the census, matches that of the human population increase in Uganda. The growth in the gorilla population demonstrates the positive impact gorilla tourism is having on gorilla conservation.

Volcanoes Safaris, one such gorilla tourism organization, is widely recognized for their integrated, unique eco-tourism model which is centered on protecting the threatened gorilla and chimpanzee populations of the Western Rift Valley in Africa. Using a truly grassroots method of promoting tourism, the Volcanoes Safaris eco-lodges, which are the only lodges near Africa’s gorilla parks, were created to use environmental resources in a sustainable way while empowering local communities by employing only local people to manage them. Because of their highly successful model of tourism, Volcanoes Safaris has taken over 6000 clients on gorilla safaris, and currently employs over 100 people globally.

This exciting news bodes well for the future of gorilla tourism, and for travelers who dream of seeing the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.

To learn more about gorilla safaris or Volcanoes Safaris, visit www.volcanoessafaris.com

Discovery and Gap… Adventures?!

Turkey, Istanbul - Blue Mosque

We’ll admit it. We’re a little obsessed with the Discovery Channel. We worked with them back in the day and always had the best things to say. Which is why, when we heard about Discovery Adventures (an adventure tour operator developed – get this – in partnership with Gap Adventures), we thought that sounded like a nice,sexy Safari-meets-sweet style combination.

They’ve also just announced brand spankin new trips to: Japan, Kenya, Greece, Italy, France, Turkey and Indochina for 2011, where they’ll take you to all the cool places you want to see in the world. And here’s the best part, you’ll get the same experiences as to what you’ve seen on Discovery Channel, gaining insider access into local culture around the globe.

On the Mekong River, Vietnam

Bottom line: two new tours for 2011 offer exclusive access only available through Discovery Adventures. On the Classic Japan tour, travelers get a behind-the-scenes look at the life of a Geisha – featuring a personalized tour through the Geisha district by a real Geisha, and an invitation to a traditional Geisha gathering and sake ceremony. On the Kenya Wildlife Safari, travelers get the rare experience to interact up-close with Baraka, a rare Black Rhino.

For more pricing and itineraries,get on it:

www.discoveryadventures.com

African Safari: Save the Cheetah!

Little Namibian Cheetah (Ain't he precious?)

Namibia became all the rage when Brangelina were off galavanting around the dunes, but there’s another reason one ought to jet thee to Namibia.

Cheetahs!

Yes, they’re in need of a little protection and your tourist dollars will help protect them and their natural habitat. Sometimes spending money really is a good thing.

Baobab Expeditions, celebrating their new partnership with the Cheetah Conservation Fund, where research, conservation and education efforts are helping to save the endangered cheetah, are leading an exhilarating and inspiring 12-day journey  (for only $5,967* per person) and , for your participation, a donation from Baobab will be made to the Fund for each participant on the safari.

Arriving in Windhoek, Namibia’s capital, guests are met by Baobab’s top -notch guides and driven north to the Frans Indongo Lodge, a charming farmhouse modeled on traditional Ovambo homesteads. A highlight of the journey comes on the second day with a full-day visit to the Fund’s International Research and Education Centre in Otjiwarongo where visitors are shown the value of sustainable practices to save the cheetah and where they are able to view this elusive animal.

Sexy African Safari Camp Pool

The next day, the group journeys northward toward Etosha National Park, one of Africa’s largest game reserves and a great animal sanctuary with a wide diversity of wildlife and bird species.

The Park is a complex of salt pans left from a lake 3 million years ago with many watering holes where game gather. Visitors have extensive game viewing here on days four and five.  Accommodations for the two nights are at Andersson’s Camp and at Mushara Bush Camp.

From Etosha, the travelers make their way to the Kavango Region on the border of Angola. The broad flood plains of the Kavango River make the area considerably greener than the rest of Namibia. Five tribes live along this river, each with a traditional chief.  Tonight, the travelers stay at the Hakusembe Lodge, consisting of ten spacious chalets in an eclectic blend of traditional African and modern art work. Arrival at the Lodge will be in time for a late afternoon boat cruise on the River.

The Mhango Game Park on the Okavango River is one of Namibia’s most diverse and interesting conservation areas.  Two nights are spent at the Nunda Safari Lodge with plenty of time to enjoy game drives in the Game Park and a boat cruise on the river.

Mazambala Bungalow Lodge - Exterior

Moving closer to Zambia, the next stop is the Bwabwata National Park, soon to be part of the world’s largest Trans-Frontier Conservation Area that will include Namibia, Botswana, Angola and Zambia and will rehabilitate wildlife populations virtually destroyed by poaching in the past.  The itinerary includes two days in Bwabwata with more game drives, guided walks, boat trips and birding.  Accommodation is at the Mazambala Island Lodge, a bungalow lodge built with bricks, reeds and thatched roofs.

On Day 11, the group makes its way to Katima Mulilo, the regional capital of eastern Caprivi and from there, they  cross the bridge into Zambia and the town of  Livingstone and Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River.  The Falls is one of the natural wonders of the world and there are other activities nearby such as bungee-jumping, white river rafting, and helicopter rides over the Falls.  Accommodations are at the Zambezi Waterfront  Lodge.

The journey ends in Victoria Falls on Day 12 with the option to stay on at one’s own expense. The $5,967 rate includes all accommodation, transfers, meals, safari guide and entrance fees and excusions where specified in the itinerary.  The rate is based on the exchange rate between the South African Rand and the US dollar on 06/22/10.  The rate is per person based on two persons sharing with a minimum of 12 guests on the tour. Not bad for an African extravaganza that helps to save one of life’s greatest animals.

www.baobabexpeditions.com or 516 622 2279

reservations@baobabexpeditions.com

South Africa: Phinda Private Game Reserve

Phinda_Game_Reserve_Luxury_South AfricaTalk about re-populating the world with greatness. Over eighteen years ago, the region Phinda Private Game Resort now occupies (57,000 acres to be precise), used to be almost barren. Ivory hunters, farmers, and the government had killed nearly all forms of wildlife. That is, until CCAfrica (Conservation Corporation Africa) bought the land and decided to do a little multiplying. Stocking the area with 2,000 once indigenous animals like white rhinos, elephants, cheetahs, and lions, it’s now a model for what conservation and preservation can look like. The animals have done so well we’re even told they’re mating. We’re also hear that CCAfrica is considering adding some (less glamourous, but just as important) smaller wildlife like servals and jackals.

The area is so large that you can also experience seven different ecosystems all in one trip: ilala palm savanna, montana grassland, riverine forest, acacia thornveld, sand forest, open grassland, and natural pan systems.

Game Lodge Africa Luxury phinda-rock-lodge280a

If that’s not cool enough, in the lush KwaZulu-Natal region of Southern Africa sandwiched between Mkuze Game Reserve and the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, Phinda offers four luxury lodges that promise to not disappoint; complete with running water, private plunge pools, and stellar cuisine.

@ $7,000 for  one week of game viewing bliss.

http://www.ccafrica.com

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