Tag Archives: Africa Safari Tours

Things To Do and See In Africa: A – Z Part II

View Part I here.

leopardNight drive: Observe some of South Africa’s most interesting wildlife—at dark. During night drives, you’ll see Africa’s nocturnal wildlife and some of the Big Five at their most active. At night, lions and leopards are frequently spotted on the move or hunting.

Ostrich farm: Visit Western Cape’s Little Karoo for a unique tour through one of its many ostrich farms. During these tours, you’ll observe breeding behaviors and witness how ostrich eggs and feathers are crafted into decorative assortments for the home and stylish accessories.

Port Elizabeth: Filled with an array of stunning beaches, nearby golf courses, boardwalk shopping, a casino, water sport activities, and an aquarium, Port Elizabeth creatively combines relaxation with adventure. And at night, the city comes to life with exciting ghost, graveyard, and cell tours.

Quad Biking: South Africa’s rugged, bumpy terrain has made this country synonymous with quad biker’s paradise. Whether you want to ride through the Drakensberg Mountains or the beaches, the bushveld or the Valley of The Elephants, Mpumalanga wetlands or Kruger National Park, you’re guaranteed to find adventure in the varying terrains of South Africa.

Rust en Vrede: This exceptional estate exclusively produces only red wines and is located in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Their wines include 1694 Classification, Syrah 2006 (which has already sold out), Estate 2005, Shiraz 2005, Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, and Merlot 2008. Their bold, full-bodied reds are a treat to anyone’s itinerary and this estate should not be missed. In 2008, the Rust en Vrede estate’s 1694 Classification wine and the Syrah 2006 wine both received the double golden Veritas Award for excellence.

penguinSwim with the penguins: Not as traditional as swimming with the dolphins, swimming with the penguins offers a completely unique experience if you’re looking to get up-close-and-personal with these adorable little creatures. Boulders Beach on the Cape Peninsula is one of the only places in all of Africa where the African penguin lives and it is a highly-rewarding experience to interact with them in their natural environment.  

Tour Table Mountain: Enjoy a panoramic view of Table Mountain as you journey up the rocky mountainside in a rotating cable car. Each cable car has the ability to fully rotate, giving you the opportunity to see 360 degrees around you. On your cable car trip you’ll see stunning gardens, death-defying cliffs, and playful dassies—furry brown creatures that live on the mountain whose closest relatives are the elephants. Because there are 350 routes up the mountain, having a guided tour is highly recommended, as it can be extremely difficult and sometimes dangerous to navigate the mountain on your own.

uKhahlamba-Drakensberg: As the longest, tallest, and largest mountain range in all of South Africa, uKhahlamba-Drakensberg (meaning “Dragon Mountain”) is a must-see natural phenomena. This World Heritage site has one of the largest collections of Sans rock paintings in all of Africa. On the mountain you can also see a wide variety of plant, bird, mammal, and reptile species, and you can experience exciting activities such as hang gliding, hiking, and rock climbing. 

Victoria and Alford Waterfront in Cape Town:  This area is one of the most culturally enriching places to see in Cape Town. With a working harbor, unique seaside culture, five-star restaurants, historical monuments, and world-famous shopping hubs, Victoria and Alford Waterfront has it all.

Walking_SafarisWalking safari: If you’re looking for an African safari tour that combines an interactive experience with a rich cultural and learning environment, then you’ll want to take part in a walking safari through Kruger National Park, South Africa. On a walking safari, you’ll learn to listen for the distinct callings of South Africa’s wildlife, search for animal markings, and track paths of residential lions and elephants with the invaluable expertise of certified local guides. These highly knowledgeable guides introduce you to the hidden elements of indigenous wildlife that ranges from larger game to intricate wildlife hidden beneath rocks and inside crevasses.

Xhosa People: With a population of around 7 million individuals, the Xhosa people primarily live in the Eastern Cape and are the ancestors of the Nguni, a group that migrated from central and northern Africa to southern Africa. Keeping their traditional culture alive, the Xhosa people provide visitors to the region with a culturally enlightening experience. Watch as they craft exceptional beadwork, perform dance rituals, and speak in the Xhosa language (comprised of clicking sounds).

honeYmoon safari: South Africa is one of the most exceptional places to enjoy a romantic honeymoon safari. With a variety of intimate and luxurious accommodations that provide honeymooners with superior service and care, and a wide spectrum of activities for honeymooners, it’s no wonder South Africa has made a name for itself as the perfect honeymoon destination.

Zulu Traditions: Zulu culture has kept the same traditions passed down from their ancestors including ceremonies, rituals, and old traditions. With the belief that birth, marriage, and death are important times to interact with the ancestors, the Zulu people will sacrifice a variety of items to the ancestors during these moments in life such as home-brewed beer or a slaughtered animal.

View Part I of this post here.

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Client Testimonial from South Africa Family Vacation

My clients, the Sirois family, just returned from their African safari vacation to South Africa, where they traveled to Cape Town, the Garden Route and went on safari.  Here’s what they had to say:

The Sirois family having a Cape Malay cooking lesson

The Sirois family having a Cape Malay cooking lesson

Thanks to Hills of Africa we had a very unique and personalized experience on our visit to South Africa. We would never have been able to find all the wonderful places we visited without their invaluable advice. We even learned to cook a traditional Cape Malay meal in a home in the Bo Kaap District of Cape Town! Tour books don’t come close to what they did.
We had a fairly rigid time line and lots of things we wanted to do. They put together a fabulous itinerary that not only allowed us to fit in all the things we wanted (touring, shopping, wineries, safari, etc…) but also gave us some flexibility to add things along the way. They booked us with hotels, game reserves and tour guides that they KNEW would be top notch. Hills of Africa met all our expectations and more. We can’t wait to go back.

The Sirois family having lunch in Kalk Bay, Cape Town

The Sirois family having lunch in Kalk Bay, Cape Town

I love Africa, I love planning vacations to Africa, and I think it really shows.

Have you been to Africa?  What were your lasting impressions of your trip to Africa?

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Why is an Africa Safari Vacation to Botswana so expensive?

Jacana_flowerBotswana is possibly one of the best safari destinations in the world, but our clients often get sticker shock when we share the price of several days on safari in this country. They often ask “Is Botswana that much more luxurious than any other safari destination?” The answer is yes and no and requires much more understanding of the total experience.

Botswana’s Economy is the Shining Gem of Africa
Botswana emerged as a sovereign nation in 1966. At the time, it was ranked as one of the 10 poorest nations in the world. It had no infrastructure – with only 7 miles of tarmac on its limited roads and no schooling system whatsoever – it relied heavily on missionary work.

diamond_miningToday, Botswana is one of the most successful countries in Africa. Its economy has grown by 8% per annum, consistently, year after year, for more than 4 decades. The reason? Diamonds. Botswana is so rich that the second largest contributor to its GDP is interest earned on its foreign investments. Tourism, comes in third.

A strong economy results in benefits for its locals, relative to its neighboring countries. A local Botswanan drives on state of the art roads, has a modern telephone system, broadband internet access, free health clinics with nearly 100,000 citizens receiving free anti-retroviral drugs in treatment for HIV aids, piped drinking water to every village and free primary schooling for more than 300,000 pupils.

Botswana’s Entrance into Tourism Was Slow and Calculated
Tourism may seem like an obvious choice for economic growth for most southern African nations, however, Botswana was not focused on tourism for many years. It was not until they took notice of their heavy reliance on the diamond industry, that they considered tourism as a strategic move to diversify its economy.

However, they didn’t just jump into tourism. Rather, they did it in a very calculated way, which has lead to a successful tourism industry that appeals to the high end of the market. Realizing they didn’t want Botswana to end up over-run with tourists and let things get out of hand with respect to the environment and the wildlife, the first step the Botswana government did was to control the amount of tourists arriving.

botswana_jao_roomConcessions Control the Number of Travelers – The Supply
If you want to open a safari lodge in Botswana, you must first get a “concession” which is a right to build and operate a tourism business on their land. You cannot buy the land. You can only get a lease and the term of the lease is quite limited, often as short as 3 to 5 years long. In essence, the government is controlling the number of beds available to tourists – the supply. Fewer beds in the wildlife areas result in far greater demand.

Demand Exceeds Supply – Driving up the Price
For example, a geographic area in Botswana might have a total of 40 beds, where in South Africa, the same size area would have 400 beds. Having so few people out there with you, experiencing the wildlife, makes it feel as authentic as possible. This type of experience certainly drives up demand and with a limited supply, prices get driven up too.

So, this is why Botswana is one of the most expensive safari options in all of Africa. The higher cost of a safari does not translate directly into a more luxurious experience. The safari experience in Botswana is more expensive because of the exclusivity, the awesome wildlife, and the tremendous variety available in one location.

lioness_cubOutstanding Wildlife, Tremendous Variety and Very Few Visitors
This is a country where the vast, dry Kalahari Desert, meets the calm, quiet waters of the Okavango Delta. Chobe National Park is your quintessential national park and is home to over 300,000 elephants. Then there is the Moremi Game Reserve where, you will find the big predators like lion, leopard, cheetah, and wild dog, but also all the herbivores like zebra, giraffe, and antelope.

Perfectly complimenting this experience is the Okavango Delta. This authentic safari experience appeals to lots and lots of people. It is still less expensive than an exclusive, private camp experience in Tanzania. So, Botswana offers the traveler a stable country and stable politics, no safety issues whatsoever, great access, incredible wildlife. All around a fantastic experience.

The most expensive camps are definitely luxurious, but the separation between your bed and the bush is less than what you would find in South Africa. Most accommodation is tented due to strict building guidelines from the Botswana government. In addition, as a safari camp owner, if you have 3 to 5 years to make your money back, you are not going to invest heavily in permanent structures.

Botswana appeals to people looking for a truly authentic safari experience and embrace the idea of being close to nature. If you like the sound of Botswana, but are having trouble with availability, Zambia is a good alternative. If you don’t have the budget for Botswana or have been there, then Zimbabwe is a great alternative.

An extravagant world of mystery and enchantment awaits you in Botswana. Allow Hills of Africa Travel to take care of all your travel needs with their expert private guides, detailed destination planning and advice, dedicated customer service, and personalized travel itineraries, guaranteed to provide you with memories that will last forever.

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