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Where to Travel in 2021 for an Ultimate Safari Experience

September 16th, 2020, by Chelsea Todaro

While 2020 has created unprecedented times for travel, we are looking ahead to a brighter future for safaris. Africa is currently topping bucket lists for luxury travelers. South Africa took the number one dream destination spot in this year’s Virtuoso Wanderlust list and online searches have grown for the term African Safari and destinations in Southern and East Africa. 

But for African Travel, it’s not just about popular destinations-- it’s about the experience, the memories and the long-lasting footprints on local communities that travelers should be considering in 2021. 

“As an industry leader and the only luxury safari company focused exclusively on Africa, we are Africa—it’s in our DNA,” said Sherwin Banda, president of African Travel, Inc. “Now more than ever, Africa needs travel to support Africa’s wildlife and its local communities, as one in ten Africans are employed through tourism.” 

“With travel on the mend, travelers need someone like African Travel to share how to experience the best parts of Africa while having a positive impact,” added Banda. Below are some of the trips African Travel are recommending to guests based on client’s desires for open spaces and discovering new places while delivering the most rewarding experiences.  

 

Indulging in East Africa’s Wildlife Wonders 

Travelers are looking for the “Out of Africa” experience and will find it in the popular in East Africa countries of Tanzania and Kenya. There’s nothing like the thrill of watching millions of wildebeest and zebras during their annual migration crossing the Mara River or the Serengeti found in our World’s Greatest Show

While the Great Migration is a must see, we also recommend combining a safari in Kenya or Tanzania, with gorilla experiences in Rwanda and Uganda for two bucket list experiences with a maximum impact on the wildlife and people in the area. The Ultimate Tanzania and Rwanda explores the Serengeti from treetop suites, walking safaris and hot air balloon flight but also helps the gorillas while trekking to see them in the Virungas and dives deeper into the friendly Rwanda culture, including a Rwandan food market tour and cooking class. 

 

Explore Dark Skies and African deserts in Namibia

If travelers are looking for spacious desert landscapes, our Desert and Dunes of Namibia safari is the perfect fit. The new Kwessi Dunes is situated deep in Namibia’s striking NamibRand Nature Reserve, a vast desert wilderness of over 200,000 hectares. Time seems to stand still with its rolling desert plains, craggy mountains, and iconic red dunes. Each room has a separate ‘star gazer’ room, which is completely open to the sky for the ultimate celestial show of the Milky Way.  

In this harshest of environments, it is fascinating to see how the wildlife and people have adapted. Here you can see the dune elephants of the Skeleton Coast and the black and white rhino found near Ongava Lodge and meet some of the last nomadic tribes, like the Himba people, near Hoanib Valley Camp

SPECIAL ADDITIONS: If booked by December 31, guests can enjoy an otherworldly experience floating over the Namib Desert in a hot air balloon as well as a private scenic transfer over the Skeleton Coast to spot seals and elusive dune elephants. At Shipwreck Lodge, one of the continent’s most unique lodges designed to resemble the coast’s shipwrecks, enjoy epic sundowners on the Roaring Dunes and another on the beach, with feet in the sand and wine flowing as the sun sets.

 

Exclusivity in the Botswana Bush 

For secluded game-viewing in the bush, Botswana offers exclusivity and the biggest variety of wildlife. On our new Platinum Botswana journey, guests will receive VIP treatment, with unrivaled flexibility at the New Xigera Safari Lodge (opening October 2020) in the heart of the incredible Okavango Delta. The new 100% solar powered lodge has no set times or itineraries. Designed to frame the breathtaking floodplains and riverine forests, the lodge’s spacious suites look out onto lily-filled lagoons, providing a front-row seat to the theatre of the African bush. Each suite floats delicately above the water, allowing wildlife to pass uninterruptedly beneath. 

Another phenomenal highlight is Jack’s Camp, which is re-opening late 2020.  One of Africa's most storied places—the camp is fashioned in classical 1940’s style and has a Natural History Museum which contains one of the most comprehensive collections of ancient artefacts in Botswana. From here guests explore the Makgadikgadi Pans, watch the meerkats emerge from their burrows, and take a walk with the Kalahari bushmen.

SPECIAL ADDITIONS: If booked by December 31, guests receive a complimentary 30-minute flight over the Makgadikgadi Pans at Jack’s Camp and a 1-hour private massage in their stunning Zarafa Camp tented suite. At Xigera, guests can relax for a night in the new Baobab treehouse experience and join wildlife photography expert Mike Myers on a private safari perfecting their photography skills.

 

Support Conservation in South Africa

From our parent company’s, the Travel Corporation (TTC), modest beginnings in a South African fishing village 100 years ago, our African roots run deep, and staying connected especially in South Africa is personal to us.  South Africa’s top lodges and camps are leading the way in conservation from the elephant orphanage at Jabulani to protecting ancient African culture and bush art sites at Bushman’s Kloof and each of our trip features a South African lodge making a difference.

In our Majestic South Africa trip, travelers can engage in life changing experiences by spending time interacting with conservation organizations and specialists at the Shamwari Private Game Reserve.  Here guests get a first-hand look at conservation and sustainable wildlife management in action. Even better, every visit directly benefits rhino conservation.

SPECIAL ADDITIONS: Guests receive a complimentary upgrade to Shamwari’s new luxury tented camp Sindile, a secluded hideaway with uninterrupted views over Bushman’s River, private plunge pool and big 5 safari viewing when booked by December 31.

 

Explore Africa from top to bottom

For those that want to delve even further into Africa, why not explore the entire continent in our Cape to Cairo itinerary. This adventure features the most sought-after highlights on the African continent including the cosmopolitan sights of Cape Town, the grandeur of Victoria Falls and the mighty Zambezi River, the endless game viewing opportunities in Kenya’s Masai Mara and the towering Great Pyramids of ancient Egypt. A luxury hideaway highlight includes a stay at the exclusive Matetsi Victoria Falls, which is nestled on an exclusive stretch of the Zambezi River, with spacious suites decorated with abstract art.

 

Connecting Our African Roots: How Travel Bridges the Past, Present and Future

August 26th, 2020, by Chelsea Todaro

The human connection is the heart of our existence and travel is what creates a bridge for people to learn about their culture’s past and come together to secure a future for generations.

As we focus on the past, present and future this month with The Travel Corporation (TTC), we reflect on how our humble beginnings 100 years ago in Africa ties us to helping the people, planet and wildlife for the future—by making travel matter. While we continue to focus on travelers’ well-being in the present, making travel matter is a role we can all play in helping communities around the world recover and rebuild from the impact of this pandemic.

Africa defines the beginning of humanity, and at African Travel, Inc. we strive to authentically connect travelers to the heart of the continent by bringing Africa to life in a meaningful way. Our African roots and unmatched expertise for over 40 years allow guests to leave a lasting footprint at the destinations they visit, as well as having an incredible safari experience.

In partnership with the TreadRight Foundation, African Travel supports various projects across Africa that preserves surrounding wildlife and cultures that travelers encounter on safari. By living in the present moment, our guests will learn about the destination’s past and what they can do to help its future.

 


Connecting with Wildlife and Their Surroundings

On safari our guests are introduced to the importance of wildlife conservation and how we work with local communities to ensure that African wildlife is protected. On our Captivating Kenya safari, guests explore Kenya’s oldest national park in search of endangered black and white rhino and spend time at the Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy with a behind the scenes experience at the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary. This sanctuary is Kenya’s first community owned and managed elephant orphanage.

 


On South Africa’s Natural Wonders, travelers explore the wildlife abundant Shamwari Game Reserve, one of the largest private conservation initiatives in Southern Africa, and home to the coveted Big Five. Dedicated to nature conservation, Shamwari strives to educate and promote wildlife awareness. In between safari drives, guests can visit the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and the Born Free Big Cat Sanctuaries. They’ll also connect with rhino, elephant, lion, buffalo and leopards at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, which is committed to transforming communities and conserving the environment through the creation of sustainable livelihoods.

 


Living and Learning with Ancient Cultures

While wildlife is a big part of a safari, there’s also ancient cultures to explore. Africa has the most diverse cultures in the world that we strive to maintain and preserve. This first starts with teaching travelers about them first-hand.  Connecting with local communities is what makes our safaris authentic and life changing. In Kenya, guests can experience the singing wells tradition of the Samburu tribe during the dry season when their warriors chant while collecting water for their livestock, and while in Tanzania on our Discover the Wonders of Tanzania safari, they’ll experience a visit to the Maasai of Ololosokwan to interact with this unique tribe, who are always enthusiastic to share their cultural beliefs.

 

 

As guests venture to North Africa, we offer an empowering journey to Jordan where they can learn about the country’s ancient and modern traditions with locals. They’ll follow in the footsteps of influential storytellers by meeting the women of the Iraq Al Amir Women’s Cooperative which aims to help local women as they preserve local heritage. Guests will learn how these women make a variety of heritage products to sustain a living—such as creating soap from Olive Oil and greeting cards from recycled paper. After gaining more insight into their culture, guests will join for a meal specially prepared by these local women.

 

 

As part of TTC, we work closely with our Red Carnation Hotel properties in South Africa, which have made a grass-roots effort to source employees from local African communities. The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa in Cape Town, The Oyster Box in Durban and Bushman’s Kloof Wildness Reserve in the Cederberg all support the local communities and strive to bring the heart and soul of these cultures into their properties through using artwork décor from local artists and employing and teaching locals the field of hospitality. Bushman’s Kloof works aimlessly to preserve more than 130 cave sites painted by the indigenous San people to ensure that these expressive murals will tell the story of the land’s original inhabitants for generations to come. Their preservation efforts have helped the Rock Art earn distinction as a Grade 1 South African National Heritage Site.

Guests can visit Red Carnation’s exceptional, award-winning properties on our South African Tapestry safari, where they’ll explore a rich tapestry of landscapes in South Africa-- from rugged seascapes, centuries old vineyards, 10,000 year old rock art sites to pristine wildlife reserve.

Preserving the Planet with Eco-Friendly Lodging

An important part of our future is to tread lightly on the environment to save our previous ecosystems, and sustainable lodging plays a big role in this.

Travelers help support planet conservation through our carefully curated and luxurious accommodations. Set to open in October 2020, guests can experience Xigera lodge on our new Platinum Botswana safari. Xigera is set in the heart of the Okovango Delta where guests can experience the bush in ultra-luxury and exclusive, unrivaled flexibility with no set times and no itineraries. One of Red Carnation’s most innovative properties, Xigera is dedicated to guarding the precious ecosystem that belongs to Botswana and to empower local communities, alongside environmentally conscious hospitality. With 105 exceptional staff attending to 24 guests, the lodge is 100% solar powered, with villas designed to camouflage among nature.

 

At the end of the day, the way people travel and choose to connect to cultures may differ but coming together to create a sustainable future remains a constant in our daily lives. Our past story defines our future, and while the present moment is very much in limbo, our past is strong, and our future is exciting.

10 Inspiring Africa Movies to Watch

April 8th, 2020, by Claudia Santino

We’re a waterhole is half full kind of crowd here at African Travel, Inc. which means we’re always looking for the silver lining during rough times.  Just because we’re not traveling doesn’t mean we can’t learn and connect to the places we love and one way for us to do this is through movies.  We’ve put together a list of what we’re watching now.  Some are old favorites, some are documentaries, some will spur you into action.  Some will make you cry, and some will make you laugh.  Many will make you want to go to Africa as soon as possible.  Until then, get the popcorn ready.

Born Free
When most people think of visiting Africa, they think of wildlife.  For a certain generation, Born Free was the film that sparked a desire to see Africa and a movement towards animal rights.  This classic, released in 1966 and based on the nonfiction book, it tells the story of Elsa, an orphaned lion cub in Kenya and of George and Joy Adamson, the couple who forged an emotional bond with her.  You can’t help but for fall for Elsa, whose story ignited a movement around the way we perceive relationships between humans and animals and whose tale pushed the door open wide towards animal conservation.

Out of Africa
Another classic that fired people up to explore Kenya, Out of Africa is the story of Danish author Karen Blixen and her passionate love affair with a big game hunter.  Set during colonial time in colonial British East Africa, it doesn’t always show Blixen at her best, but the cinematography will satisfy the desire to escape into the wilds of a place most people only dream about.  

Queen of Katwe
If you like a defying all odds kind of story, you’ll love Queen of Katwe. It’s the inspirational real-life story of Phiona Mutesi, a girl growing up in the slums of Uganda who helps her mother sell food in the market and care for her baby brother.  When she meets Robert Katende, a coach who teaches children to play chess, Phiona goes on to become one of the country’s best female chess champions.  The hardship she and her family face offer hefty dose of reality, but her success will win you over.

Searching for Sugarman
The power of oral storytelling is revealed in the following the singer Rodriguez generated amongst fans who passed his music along by word of mouth.  Searching for Sugarman is the surprise hit documentary about South Africa’s greatest ‘70s rock icon who never was.  An American folk singer whose bootleg recording made it to a nation struggling through a dark period, Rodriguez’s song “I Wonder” became an anti-apartheid anthem.  The documentary follows two South Africans who came of age listening to him and their journey to find the singer whose sound captured a nation and who became a mythical legend because, despite his popularity, no one had ever seen him perform.  Chase the myth with them, by end you just might become a fan, too.

Virunga
This Academy Award Oscar nominated film is the true story of the rangers risking their lives to save Africa's most precious national park and its endangered gorillas from war and damaging oil exploration activity within the UNESCO World Heritage site.  Virunga spotlights the brave people who have dedicated their lives to build a better future for themselves and the animals they protect in Virunga National Park, one of the most bio-diverse places on Earth.  If you’ve ever seen a mountain gorilla, or have a desire to see one, this film is a must.  It will restore your faith in humanity, it will break your heart, but it may also spur you to action.

BBC Planet Earth:  Africa
We’ll be honest, we’d be happy to watch a continuous loop of BBC’s Planet Earth Africa on Netflix.  So, sit back and relax as the amazing cinematography and narration carries you away on a journey through five regions of this stunning and diverse continent.  From extraordinary wildlife to unexplored rainforests and mountain ranges, the wow factor doesn’t get much better than this armchair adventure!

The First Grader
Another film based on a true story, The First Grader is about a Kenyan farmer and former Mau Mau tribesman Kimani Maruge who enrolled in elementary school at the age of 84 when the country introduced universal education in 2003.  Despite opposition to admitting him into a classroom of six-year-olds, his determination finds him an ally in one teacher.  It’s the story about the power of education, perseverance and the will to learn no matter one’s age.  We hope this hero’s journey inspires you.

The Ivory Game
Another Netflix original series, The Ivory Game is about the team of front-line rangers and undercover operatives who embark on dangerous missions to expose and disrupt the dark world of ivory trafficking.  From fighting poachers in Africa to exposing illegal ivory shops in China, the team risks their lives to save our elephants from those in pursuit of “white gold.”  If you support wildlife conservation, it will inspire you into action.

Our Planet
It would be wrong of us to tell you to focus on just one episode of Our Planet, but we are partial to the ones that shine a light on Africa and features the wild dogs of the Serengeti.  The wonderous beauty of our planet is revealed in breathtaking cinematography and guided by Sir David Attenborough who explains how we can take charge of our future from the climate change that impacts all living creatures.  

Black Panther
We couldn’t help ourselves with this one!  Whether you’re seeing it for the first time or enjoying it the second, third for fourth time around, Black Panther is just what we need right now.  This Marvel classic tells the story of T’Challa, who returns to his family’s kingdom home of fictional Wakanda, an African nation under threat from a rival warlord.  In our hero’s battle against evil and his fight to reclaim his throne, this action movie challenges us to think about class structure, racism and our humanity and it also highlights African culture and traditions.  By the end of the film you’ll swear Wakanda is a real place and that’s a good thing.  Wakanda Forever!

 

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