“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”
South Africa has arrived.
Not only has it arrived, but it has done so in a way that was unimaginable only 25 years ago. It has found its way and made its own place on a crowded global stage.
It is hard to imagine a more exciting time to visit.
This “new” South Africa is characterized by the boundless creativity and energy of a generation that has come of age since the end of apartheid. They are creating a new society based on equal treatment under the law.
This sense of the new South Africa is manifested in countless ways: its highly inventive food culture, its creative arts scene, the large investment being poured into infrastructure, and a serious refocusing on the environment and the wildlife heritage with which this country is blessed (and the tourism that supports so much of its preservation).
In South Africans, there is both a certain gentleness and a deep reservoir of pride. This pride comes not only from how they came to terms with their past and moved on, but from the great changes they willed into reality. It was this sense of pride that was the catalyst for their transition to democracy.
They are deeply proud of the man who led them, and whose values set the tone for his new country.
This metamorphosis has taken place in a setting of pristine natural beauty and with some of the best game viewing in Africa.
While South Africa is a common stop on any Southern Africa itinerary, our South Africa is anything but ordinary.
Our South Africa is full of game viewing, of course, and all the opportunities that entails. It is about nature and beauty and adventure, from whale watching in a small plane, to helicopter flights over the Cape of Good Hope.
It is also about a fascinating history.
We can arrange for you to meet amazing people involved in the struggles of the past and those who helped shape the bright future of a new country proudly called the Rainbow Nation. Talk design with people involved in the arts and style with those in fashion.
Ultimately, South Africa – for all its culture, wildlife, and natural beauty – is all about its people.
Africa gives you the knowledge that man is a small creature, among other creatures, in a large landscape”
-Doris Lessing, Nobel-laureate in literature (and long-time Zimbabwe resident)
The word Zambezi means “great” in the local Tonga dialect.
The story is famous: exploring the Zambezi river by canoe in 1855, David Livingstone stumbled into the 350-foot (that’s about 35 stories, in our world) tall, mile-wide drop of the Mosi-oa-Tunya, “the smoke that thunders”. He renamed – in his mind, anyway – the world’s largest waterfall in honor of his Queen, Victoria.
Touched by the magnitude of the Falls, he wrote, “the tops of the columns [of vapor] at this distance appeared to mingle with the clouds.” Ever since his accidental “discovery”, the “Smoke that Thunders” is widely considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World.
The Falls can be seen from both Zimbabwe and Zambia. The view – including that of the famous Devil’s Cataract – is considered superior from Zambia. Yet, like neighboring Zimbabwe, Zambia just begins at the Falls.
For the 21st century David Livingstones among us, Zimbabwe offers a great sense of being an explorer yourself. The excellent wildlife and the diversity of landscapes and ecosystems – not to mention five unique UNESCO World Heritage Sites – give Zimbabwe its own singular appeal in a part of the world already overflowing with special places.
And no need to bring your own crew of 200 servants. Safaris today can be done in great comfort and ease – and if you choose, luxury. All the little details are handled (by us) so you can focus on what brought you to Africa in the first place.
The best-known game area is Hwange National Park in western Zimbabwe. More rugged and remote is Gonarezhou National Park. Or, seeing the greatest concentration of African Black Eagles in the world appeals to you, then you may want to check out Matobo National Park.
One of the more interesting wildlife conservation projects in all of Africa at the moment is the “dropped fence” project between Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, Kruger National Park in South Africa, and Limpopo National Park in Mozambique. This three-country, trans-frontier park creates an enormous tract of protected wilderness the size of the Netherlands.
Mana Pools offers excellent canoeing and fishing, especially for African Tigerfish. And the Zambezi offers serious rafters – very serious, please – the most Grade 6 succession rapids concentrated in one place in the world.
Culturally, Zimbabwe has given birth to great civilizations and dynasties: for instance, the Torwa, who once ruled large chunks of Africa. There are hundreds of archaeological ruins all over Zimbabwe, the most famous of them at Khami and Great Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe also contains a high concentration of Rock Art paintings, some dating back 13,000 years. While overt forms (mostly animals) may be obvious to the casual viewer, each painting contains hidden symbolic meanings that will be manifest under the tutelage of an expert.
Recent decades have been difficult for Zimbabweans – certainly less illustrious than the centuries when the Torwas’ power was felt all over Southern Africa. But Africans embrace the future and tourism is on the rise with each passing year.
For those who know and love Africa, Zimbabwe offers a true African adventure that is unvarnished, real, and rich. Now is perhaps the best time to go – before it becomes the next Big Thing.
“No one can imagine the beauty of the view…”
-David Livingstone, Explorer
If you’re like us, images come to mind immediately when someone mentions Namibia or Botswana or certainly South Africa.
But what about Zambia?
If you don’t (yet) have a clear image, it is because Zambia – beyond Victoria Falls – is simply not visited by many people. Your neighbors won’t be offering you their advice on the best safari camp and you won’t be replicating the trip your in-laws took 20 years ago.
The Falls are certainly not to be overlooked. Deservedly the stuff of legends, the Falls draw water from the majestic Zambezi (“Great,” in the Tonga dialect) River, 1,600 miles long. The Zambezi starts at the Angolan border and works its way – largely unexplored – to a corner of Zambia where four countries meet. Not long before this point, its waters drop 350 feet to create the magnificent spectacle – which can be seen from both Zambia and Zimbabwe.
If being seen from two bordering countries doesn’t impress you, they can be seen as well as from outer space – they have been photographed from the NASA Space Station. The Falls are truly one of the great sights of our planet – and apparently, from well above our planet as well.
We love the Falls, certainly. And we are happy to arrange a breakfast on legendary Livingstone Island at the very crest of the Falls. The area has many activities including elephant-back safaris.
But Zambia, extends beyond the Falls. It is, in fact, one of the best safari destinations in Africa for our repeat clients that just can’t get Africa out of their system.
Wildlife in Zambia is not as habituated to humans as it is in other parts of Africa, so game viewing is authentic and unpredictable – the way it was for, say, David Livingstone, H.M. Stanley, Teddy Roosevelt, and Carl Georg Schillings, the first great safari photographer.
In other words, Zambia is a purist’s dream.
The way we see it, the fact that so few people go is one of the great reasons for you to go.
What is everyone (but you) missing out on?
For starters, South Luangwa, in Eastern Zambia, has the densest population of mammals (not including us humans) anywhere on earth. The river for which it is named, the Luangwa, is the most intact river system in Africa and supports an enormous wealth of wildlife.
In the nearby Bangweula swamps, you can see highly endangered (only 8,000 remain in the world) large shoebill storks.
Lochinvar, on the other side of Zambia, has the greatest diversity of bird species of anywhere in the world. Even if this sounds a bit boring as you read this on your laptop, when you are in Africa and some dazzling bird is a few yards away, you can’t help but become wrapped up in the colors of its plumage or the grace of its flight.
And who would have guessed that Zambia is the destination for a migration of 10 million bats, the second largest in the world?
Perhaps most significant of all is that the walking safari was born in Zambia. Once you’ve done one or two more traditional safaris, it is hard to imagine a way of experiencing Africa that is more intimate and more exhilarating.
You hike through archetypal African landscapes and diverse ecosystems, and you see the continent’s most magnificent animals as you move from one remote camp to the next.
Zambia is not about luxury. It is not about bragging rights, or staying at famous camps.
Zambia is all about the tranquility of being alone with animals, in an Africa that hasn’t changed much since the 19th century.
"Only the tortoise knows what is hidden in its shell.”
– African saying
Characterized by pristine natural beauty and enormous areas of virgin wilderness, Botswana boasts spectacular African landscapes as well as some of Africa’s most remarkable and diverse ecosystems.
As we like to say, its appeal is a high density of game and a low density of us. The entire country has a population of two million, smaller than that of Chicago, in an area about the size of France. The number of tourists allowed in its game viewing areas is strictly limited. It is in Botswana that one can best sense the physical enormity of Africa.
Roaming and roaring within the diverse landscapes and ecosystems (there are seven distinct eco-regions) is a plentiful bounty of wildlife in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Wild species can be observed in all modes of feeding, hunting, resting, socializing (or not), nurturing offspring, and just surviving.
One of the last great tracts of untouched Africa, boasting some of the best game viewing in Africa, Botswana calls to us and we hear it, viscerally, deep within.
Botswana’s call is as hushed as the sound of the reeds of the Okavango Delta as you quietly glide and weave through them in your dugout canoe. It’s as mighty as the nighttime roar of a lion asserting control over his turf, as vast as the densely-illuminated nighttime sky, and as delicate as the call of the bird. For those who seek a wild Africa, completely untamed, Botswana is all the more poignant.
Perhaps we feel Botswana’s pull even more profoundly because of our connection to ancient humankind: at the rarely-visited UNESCO World Heritage rock art site of Tsodilo Hills. For those who are interested, we can arrange an “up close and personal” encounter with the San (Bushmen) people in the arid Kalahari Desert. Depending on your preference, this may or may not include trance dancing.
It’s impossible to overemphasize the power and beauty of the sound of the Okavango River as it flows from the Angola Highlands to the arid Kalahari Desert, where it fans out to form an immense and spectacular inland delta of lagoons, channels, and palm-filled islands. Once a year, as the floods come down from Angola, this fragile and unspoiled ecosystem is flooded and transformed into a magical waterscape that attracts an astounding diversity of animal and bird life. You will take it all in as you glide through the reeds, propelled by the powerful oar of your dugout canoe.
At night, in the absence of ambient light, watch thousands of brilliant stars appear, brighter than you will ever see anywhere again. It is quite a show, and if you happen to be on the vast salt pans of the Kalahari with a member of the San community while you are gazing at the constellations, he may tell you to listen hard. And if you do, you can hear the stars sing.
Botswana’s call will resonate deeply with stargazers and photographers, bird lovers and seekers of big game. But it calls out to everyone, so make sure you are listening.
"In Namibia, emptiness is revered, solitude is pervasive, and at every turn is a view with the power to astonish.”
–New York Times
Humbling is often the first word that comes to mind for those who have experienced the profound and unimaginable beauty of Namibia.
Overflowing with superlatives, Namibia is home to some of the world’s tallest dunes, oldest deserts (55 million years), its second largest canyon, and its largest intact meteorite (60 tons). Namibia has the largest conservation area in Africa and is the only country in the world that protects the environment in its constitution.
The desert here is full of life and waiting to be explored. It has an extraordinary range of animals and plants that have adapted to their unmerciful habitat. Great African animals such as elephant, lion, and rare black rhino – as well as all sorts of tiny critters like beetles and lizards – have all, over millennia, physically adapted to this harsh climate. Namibia also has 40% of the world’s remaining cheetah population.
Namibia’s splendor lies in the openness of its landscape, replete with river valleys, dramatic mountain ranges, and rugged canyons. More than anything, Namibia is a country of sand – the most breathtaking sand you have ever seen. Voluptuous dune fields stretch hundreds of miles – in patterns of stars and crescents, seemingly permanent, yet constantly changing with the winds.
In contrast to what you might expect in a desert, Namibia is a land of colors. A carpet of green sweeps over the earth after a short (and rare) rain. There are richly colored volcanic rock formations. Dunes change from orange to beige to red as the sun moves across the sky – the older the dunes, the brighter the color due to the reflections of a zillion tiny mineral deposits. After an often-riotous sunset, the cobalt dome of the sky becomes a brilliant showcase of the Milky Way: constellations, satellites, and falling stars.
The desert is only part of the story. Life in Namibia depends on the moisture from dew and fog brought by icy Atlantic currents that run along 1,600 miles of uninhabited coastline. Just off its shores, there is abundant marine life, including hundreds of thousands of seals, as well as dolphins and whales.
Part of this long shoreline is one of the most famous – and notorious – “nautical graveyards” in the world, the Skeleton Coast. Characterized by the strong currents, its treacherous fog, and shifting underwater sandbanks, it is littered with the wooden skeletons of countless ships run aground.
Further south, you can venture out by boat into Walvis Bay, home to large numbers of seal, as well as pelican, flamingo, dolphin, and a rich variety of other marine and bird life.
Near Walvis is one of our favorite towns. Swakopmund is a virtual outdoor museum, comprised of pastel colonial buildings on sand-covered streets sandwiched between the roaring Atlantic on one side the endless dunes of the Namib Desert on the other.
Outside of Swakopmund is Moon Valley, with a stunning lunar-like landscape. It is one of our favorite places in Africa to serve you champagne and excellent Namibian oysters.
Namibia is best experienced by small plane, affording dramatic aerial views of this extraordinarily beautiful landscape.
We can fly you into ghost towns (former mining towns), abandoned to the shifting sands, accompanied by a professional photographer.
Or we can fly you to Twyfelfontein, a massive open-air UNESCO World Heritage Site containing rock art up to 6,000 years old, carved into red rock by ancient Bushmen.
Namibia’s tiny population of 2 million encompasses over 12 ethnic groups and 20 languages. Perhaps the best known is the Himba. Himba women color their skin and hair with an ochre-colored paste, giving them a distinct reddish hue. Their villages are built around a fire, which is never extinguished. Known as okurowo, it represents the ancestors of the villagers.
“Namib” means vast in local languages. In fact, many clients, upon their return, speak of the ravishing beauty of Namibia’s vast emptiness.
But to us it is very full.
"Glowing feedback from readers.”
Condé Nast Traveler
For centuries now, the adventurous and the daring have come to the African continent.
Long and narrow, Mozambique’s calling cards are its gorgeous, untouched coastline – which stretches the distance equal to that from Maine to Florida – and the private Indian Ocean islands not far offshore. Your time here will be completely different from your other African experiences.
There are two main archipelagos just offshore: the six islands of Bazaruto in the south – Bazaruto, Benguerra, Magaruque, Bangue and Santa Carolina (Paradise) and Pansy Shell; in the north, the equally beautiful Quirimbas Archipelago.
The islands are small and tranquil, only a handful of small, eco-friendly luxury resorts and private villas are nestled among the groves of the coconut trees.
The warm Indian Ocean offers a welcome retreat from sun-drenched sandy beaches. At sunset, watch the local fishermen and villagers tow their handmade Mozambican dhows (small sailing boats) through the low tide, fully loaded with that day’s catch (which is often your dinner).
In addition to these islands is ancient Ilha de Mocambique. It was a busy place even before Vasco de Gama arrived in 1497. It has a 16th-century fort and attractive colonial architecture. It was the original colonial Portuguese capital (before it was moved to Lourenço Marques (now Maputo) in 1898. An Arab sultan gave the island its name. And in turn, it gave its name to the entire country.
The picturesque islands give way to the port of Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, still known by many as Lourenço Marques. With a plentitude of acacia trees, you will discover a blend of colonial Portuguese architecture and traditions with African culture and the vibrancy of life and commerce in a 21st-century African city.
Long and wide avenues are cultural highways, inviting you to food stalls serving chicken piri-piri and marketplaces with local crafts, indigenous art, and the stuff of everyday life that somehow always seems more photogenic in Africa.
Safari in Mozambique is often overlooked. Strides are being made to focus attention on nature reserves and animal conservation. The Niassa Reserve, larger than Kruger National Park, hosts a large population of wildlife including the endangered African wild dog. Limpopo National Park has dropped fences with Kruger National Park in South Africa creating an enormous trans-frontier area in which wildlife can freely roam.
We can arrange for you to scuba or snorkel among coral reefs and in waters teeming with marine life, including seahorses, turtles, dolphins, and humpback whales.
Or if that’s not quite your style, we can include a picnic lunch on a sandbar in the Indian Ocean with your significant other. If you come back engaged, we’ll take all the credit.