Not lyin' about a leopard a day on Safari in South Africa

It was raining leopards on my Safari in South Africa in Mala Mala and Sabi Sabi private game reserves. Okay, not literaly but I was in bliss as I saw at least one leopard a day. Beautiful leopards too.

I don’t think it was just luck because these two areas have a reputation of consistent leopard spotting [nature is always un-predicatable though] and of course great teamwork amoungst the guides and the trackers [some lodges have trackers] help.

I saw leopard mama with playful baby, leopard on a prowl - the patient waiting and the hunt as well as the feast, baby leopard munching on an impala hunted by mama the night before, leopards sleeping, young leopard having a blast in the mud hole ++ .

From Mala Mala Game Reserve.

Who doesn’t enjoy a mud bath?

Who doesn’t enjoy a mud bath?

Now, I am hungry.

Now, I am hungry.

From Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve.

Patiently waiting ….

Patiently waiting ….

… grabed a warthog which we later saw her enjoy.

… grabed a warthog which we later saw her enjoy.

If you want to increase your odds of spotting a leopard on Safari, Mala Mala and Sabi Sabi Game Reserves are your spot.

Let’s get you here for your Journey To Africa Safari.

Botswana. You are amazing!

Dumela. Hello in Setswana.
I have so many Safari stories to share with you from my Safaris in Botswana and South Africa; two amazing Safari destinations and each so unique. I am so excited to have explored these country so I can now tell you first hand why you too should go on Safari here.

My first stop was Botswana and I have fallen in love with this country so here goes with my ….

Top 5 reasons to visit Botswana on Safari!

1: Okavango Delta and the surround marshes.
If you love wildlife, you know you have the Okavango Delta on your must-visit Safari area in Africa. Well, I am so fortunately to say I have been and it did not dissappoint. The Okavango Delta floods usually from June onwards to October when the water arrives from the rains in Angola. In February, it was still dry and hot [the permanent channels and river had water but they will fill out to the brim once the water arrives] but wildlife viewing was spectacular in the many different areas of the Okavango Delta and it’s surrounding. I saw 3 packs of wild-dogs, huge elephant herds with lots of babies, beautiful lion prides with lots of little playful cubs, leopards, birds and so much more.

Wild dogs so close to the vehicle from Kwando Splash.

Wild dogs so close to the vehicle from Kwando Splash.

By the beautiful channel near Machaba Camp in Khwai concession.

By the beautiful channel near Machaba Camp in Khwai concession.

A stunning morning with these cuties from Kwando Lebala.

A stunning morning with these cuties from Kwando Lebala.

2: Exploring the waterways.
There are many options of enjoying water activities because of the permanent water channels and rivers. I had a sunset and sunrise water activity almost every day from the different lodges I visited. Sunset cruise was on a big boat with a roof [you can see me sitting up here when it was my time slot] which was lovely.

Then, mokoro. All Botswana Safaris photographs you see show you a mokoro, which is a canoe boat that was used as a mode of transportation. Well, I did a few of these and the verdict - worth it. It is calming yet checks your fear meter [hippos close by], and each guide has their stories of how their parents taught them to ride, using the mokoro to get from the village to town, usually Maun - the gateway town in Botswana, or how they went fishing on the mokoro. Some riders still use mokoros in their villages. In some lodges, the mokoro rider is different from your Safari guide - fun way to get to know more Setswanans.

The mokoro in the Safari land is made of fibreglass so no tree has to be cut but in the old days, it was carved out of large tree trucks.

Sunset cruise from Kwando Splash in private Kwando concession.

Sunset cruise from Kwando Splash in private Kwando concession.

Ailin and I with our fantastic Kwando guide Joseiya on a mokoro in Kwando concession.

Ailin and I with our fantastic Kwando guide Joseiya on a mokoro in Kwando concession.

3: Off-roading.
I had the luxury of going off-road. This gives you the advantage of getting so close to the wildlife almost always. The main reason this is doable is because the areas in and around the Okavango Delta that I went to are private concessions and have only a few lodges there which means fewer vehicles in that area. The landscape does not take as much beating unlike some place like the Serengeti [a National Park] where there are so many vehicles and if every vehicle went off-roading, it would be awful. This leads me to my next reason …

Mitre, my fantastic guide from Gomoti Plains scanning.

Mitre, my fantastic guide from Gomoti Plains scanning.

We were so close - we saw the male lion eating a whole impala - nature!

We were so close - we saw the male lion eating a whole impala - nature!

4: Fewer vehicles.
Because again these areas are private and only a few number of lodges, you have the advantage of controlling the number of vehicles you can have in the area and the guides are part of the the company hence same standard of guiding.

If you are enjoying a sighting, another 3-4 vehicles will be with you but really, no more than that. You also have the unspoken rule of sharing [they said around 3-4 vehicle per sighting] so if you have been with the sighting for say 10-15 minutues, you offer the courtesy to the other vehicle to come and enjoy the sighting while you leave and look for your next adventure which is always around the corner.

Baby leopard and mama seen early in the morning from Machaba Camps with my amazing guide Moreri.

Baby leopard and mama seen early in the morning from Machaba Camps with my amazing guide Moreri.

Black backed jackel showing lots of loving from Kwando Lebala. Love Kwando Lebala.

Black backed jackel showing lots of loving from Kwando Lebala. Love Kwando Lebala.

A yellow-billed hornbill - spotted from Kwando Lebala.

A yellow-billed hornbill - spotted from Kwando Lebala.

5: Water-animals.
With a lot more water channels and rivers, you have aquatic antelopes like the red lechwes. Such beautiful animals splashing back and forth. I spotted a not so commonly seen situnga on my sunset boat ride from Kwando Splash camp. My guide Joseiya and Kwando rep Ailin were so excited - I had to come back and Google situnga to realize I did spot something rare. Birds like lesser jacana was also seen but it flew away before I could capture it.

The beautiful Red Lechwe jumping the Linyanti Swamps from Kwando Lebala.

The beautiful Red Lechwe jumping the Linyanti Swamps from Kwando Lebala.

The rarely spotted sitatunga - a water antelope from my sunset boat cruise from Kwando Splash.

The rarely spotted sitatunga - a water antelope from my sunset boat cruise from Kwando Splash.

So would I say go on a Botswana Safari, a loud Yes!
Amazing people, great Safari lodges, and spectacular wildlife in a country who have done a fantastic job of conservation. With 45% of the land set aside to wildlife and low human population, Botswana, you have something really special to offer.

And I can help you.
Let’s chat about Your Safari to Botswana!

Okavango Delta + Sabi Sands

“The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.”
- Sir Richard Burton

2019, I am taking the ‘Africa’ in Journey To Africa seriously and exploring other parts of Africa besides keeping with mostly Tanzania. I will always love my home country of Tanzania but I am ready to explore other parts of Africa so I know what I am talking about when I am planning Your Safari. So here goes! I can’t wait to share more countries in Africa with you.

First stop, Okavango Delta in Botswana. I am tickled to be heading to this unique eco-system.
Some of the questions I get is what is the difference between Serengeti or Okavango Delta, which area to explore first, or the best when it is from my past guests who want to go and need my help with planning their Safari. Serengeti is my jam but I am ready to find out why Okavango Delta is such a draw. Fingers crossed, I get to ride in the mokoro if the waters are high.

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Then, South Africa.
South Africa has other attractions outside of wildlife which gives you a wide range of adventures to enjoy. There is Cape Town, the winelands with Franschoek being high on the list, hiking up Table Mountain and then of course Safari. I am heading to two private reserves near famous Kruger National Park; Mala Mala and Sabi Sand Game Reserve. The wildlife here is supposed to be fabulous - I am game!

Here’s to my adventures in 2019.
What will be yours? Let’s chat.

2018; Asante for a great year!

When Voyage Houston came knocking at my door asking questions about me [Mefi] and Journey To Africa, it was fun rewinding back and thinking how far I have come 18 years later!

“18 years later, I still get super excited talking about Safaris. I can feel the excitement when planning a Safari, especially if it is a first timer on Safari or with a repeat guest in a new area I have just explored.”
Full interview about me on Voyage Houston.

It is truly an honor Safari planning with YOU, envisioning what will suit you and your family/friends when I am dreaming up a Safari itinerary of where to take you + where you will stay, sharing in your excitement of going on your Safari, and the best; hearing your Safari Stories on return. Those stories are what keeps me going.

Asante sana [thank you so much] for your trust!
To many more adventures together to the different corners of Amazing Africa.

Yours truly, in my element, on Safari.

Yours truly, in my element, on Safari.

Sundowners on Safari.

The word sundowner is making me excited about heading back on Safari.
If you have experienced this glorious time on Safari, let’s exchange our Safari stories. If not, I will try to explain this but words will not do justice. You have to go.

What is a sundowner? Via British dictionary; “an alcoholic drink taken after completing the day's work, usually at sunset.” In the US, we’d say happy hour.

My definition:
It’s that magic time of day you and your family/ friends and maybe new friends you have made while on Safari celebrate the end of the day. It’s the time where your guide and possibly the Safari Lodge crew will set up ‘an outdoor bar’, make your drink of your choice [does not have to be alcoholic], while you are enjoying the magic of the landscape.

katavi

A great time to reflect on what you have seen, what more you will see, the serenity of being on Safari in Africa, what is important in life ++ whilst having a nice cocktail watching the golden hour /sunset - I can’t think of a better way to end my day.

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You owe it to yourself to experience an African sundowner, at least once in your life, if not more. My experienced sundowners, where to next for your sundowner drink?

Let’s chat.
Cheers!

Family Safari in Africa.

I love planning Safaris. But when I get to plan Family Safaris - woohoo!
I am thinking of all the possibilities that can happen when a child or children are on Safari. They may come back home having seen something that will shape their future because of the people they will have met on Safari. The wildlife stories told by their Safari guide will make them future conservationists. The forever memories that will be told for years during get-togethers. Endless!

However, my goal is to also make sure the adults also have a good time and don't come back from their Safari needing another vacation - well, maybe. ;)

Here are some ideas to make your Family Safari go as smooth as possible. 

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Get a Family Room.
Most of the lodges have a family room and if we book ahead of time, we can get that room for you. You will have two rooms with usually a living room between the rooms. Most will also have two bathrooms within that space. Perfect when you have younger kids and are not comfortable with them having their own room yet or having to split up the adults. 

Slow Travel.
Safaris can be a bit of go-go-go especially if you are keen on waking up early to capture the sunrise but also want to be out until the last light of the day and enjoy the sunset. Slow Travel. Stay in one place for a few days to make it easy on yourself and settle down. You know you have a room ready for an afternoon siesta, the crew knows what foods the kids like, what drinks mama and baba need to wind down, etc. If there is a pool, take advantage of that as the pools will have amazing views. 

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Private Safari.
Having your own vehicle is appreciated by most families. The biggest advantage of this is that you can set your times. Want to sleep in a bit today - sure! Want to come back to camp early in the evening  - of course! Fussy kid on the game drive - no worries! You and your Safari guide set the schedule versus having to go by a set schedule or have other guests give you that look. 

Plan B - cards, movies, book. 
Always have a Plan B. It is your holiday after all and some days, just take a break. All the camps we recommend have great views, amazing ambiance so even if you want to stay back and read, watch a movie in the afternoon, you are still part of the environment and you may have to pause to see wildlife stroll by the camp. 

Sawa! Okay, now let's get you on Safari.  

My 5 minutes of fame.

That's me on TV! My 5 minutes of fame.  
Great Day Houston had a Father's Day segment and I was asked to share how being on Safari would be an amazing Father's Day gift. Debra Duncan, the host was really easy to chat with and asked a few spontaneous questions such as shopping for Tanzanite in Tanzania and how Africa gets a bad reputation. I wish I had more time; I was having a blast chatting with her and sharing about Safaris in Tanzania.

So if you want my autograph, I am happy to oblige. :) Or get me back on TV. I am up for talking Safaris in Tanzania.  

Slow Travel on Safari.

If lucky, one of the feelings you will experience on Safari is the slow pace. A wonderful feeling, really!

There is a sense of routine that forms on Safari.  Since the staff will take care of everything for you, it allows the luxury of this relaxed, laid back feeling to sink in so you can really take in the incredible, natural surroundings. For example, you have your day planned by your guide and Safari lodge [thanks to all the planning you and I will do before you get to the ground], you are 'driven around' in your Safari vehicle, meals taken care off, activities arranged, etc. You can allow yourself to surrender in these wonderful places. You are detoxing from the hustle bustle of your day-to-day.

Dip in Lake Tanganyika, after a trek to see the chimps. Photo taken by Julien Polet, the manager of Greystoke Mahale at the time.

Dip in Lake Tanganyika, after a trek to see the chimps. Photo taken by Julien Polet, the manager of Greystoke Mahale at the time.

Three ways to enhance that for yourself.

Take time to enjoy the park.
To really get the feel of the park or a corner of the park, make sure to settle in. Unpack your bags and spend at least 2 nights in each of our lovely lodges so you can really sink in that vastness of the terrain you have the privilege to explore. Most of the parks in Tanzania and other countries in Africa are huge. Give yourself time to dig deep into the park and you too will start feeling like you are 'at home'.

Decompressing takes time; stay at least 8-9 days.
I may not be too far from the truth when I say our lives are on the run. Whether you are a family with young or adult kids, a couple, or even retired, we travel to escape. The first few days on Safari, you are still getting in the groove of how to relax ... or at least that is what most of us feel. Then we slowly start putting the phone away longer and are not craving for wi-fi. Your body is learning to relax. The game drives start become more enjoyable; you are decompressing. One of the reasons you are taking a Safari right?  

Friendships.
The longer you spend time with your guide, the lodge crew, the other travelers you will meet on Safari, your family and friends, the deeper the connections that will start to form. So much fun if you can open up and chat with your Safari mates.

One of my favorite things on Safari is to chat with the guide and lodge crew. Tanzania has over 100 tribes and each one has an amazing story to tell. My Lost in Translation blog post came from my time chatting with these knowledgable guides. I still keep in touch with many of them. They have taught me a lot.

My Tanzania with Mefi Safaris have been that - amazing experiences which have created lifelong friendships because we have had 10+ days together and we continue to travel together.

Evening game drive in Ruaha. You can't help but appreciate the vastness, the silence, the unknown.

Evening game drive in Ruaha. You can't help but appreciate the vastness, the silence, the unknown.

The #traveldeeper hashtag - that's what we want you to achieve. If you can afford to give yourself the time and depth of slow travel, do it!

I look forward to being on Safari [or any trip] so I can slow down the pace of life.
Ready to enjoy some slow travel time on Safari? We can make it happen.