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Welcome to the African Travel safari blog. In this space, we share inspirational stories and ideas on adventures in Africa, plus our latest social posts! 

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Get Lost in the Pages of Africa

April 8th, 2020, by Claudia Santino

Since the dawn of time, stories have offered the perfect escape. If you’ve been meaning to catch up on your reading, here are ten books set in Africa that will transport you into the lives of some incredible fictional and real people and animals. Some are suitable for children and young adults, all will teach something about the great continent we’d love you to know more about.

 

We may not be able to take you on a real African safari right now, so we’re bringing a bit of the wild kingdom into your hands with this magical recommendation. Safari: A Photicular Book is a stunning work of art created with something called Motion Viewer design that brings the images on the page to life. This eye-catching book is a great educational tool for children or a great escape for anyone who loves animals. It might even inspire you on to make the dream of Africa a reality and how cool would that be?

 

Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood, a New York Times Bestseller, is Alexandra Fuller’s candid memoir about growing up in Rhodesia in the 1970s. Her unflinching look back on her family’s life as they tried to stubbornly make their way against African independence is unsentimental and captivating. The continent is a central character, another is her mother, a headstrong woman who nurtured the young Fuller and her sister by teaching them self-reliance and resilience, instead of doting on them.  Fuller’s writing crackles and she doesn’t skimp on details or her love and passion for Africa. She’ll make you feel like you’re walking on rich red dirt road right alongside her, which is perfect in these days of self-isolation.

 

If you’re looking for an adventure, you’ll get one in West With the Night, Beryl Markham’s memoir about growing up in East Africa. Born in England, she and her father moved to Kenya when she was a young girl. Raised around wild things, she had a love and respect for Africa’s lands and creatures and her best friend was a Nandi tribes boy who taught her to hunt. Her father raised horses and she became an expert horsewoman and racehorse trainer. Mostly, she was a woman who was unafraid to try new things, leading her to become a great adventurer and aviatrix and bush pilot, which ultimately led her to becoming the first person to fly nonstop from Europe to America. We’d follow her star any day!

 

One of the greatest memoirs of all time, Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela might just be the one book we need to get through these hard times. He endured 10,000 days of imprisonment and when he was released at the age of 71, the freedom fighter showed the world that his spirit hadn’t been broken, going on to become the president of South Africa. Mandela wasn’t just the greatest leader the country ever had but he was an international hero and one of the greatest moral and political leaders of all time. His lifelong dedication to fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and his life continues to serve as a guiding light for oppressed people around the world and anyone going through struggles and setbacks.

 

If you’ve got time on your hands (and who doesn’t these days?) then step back in time to an Egypt that once was with The Alexandria Quartet. This masterpiece by Lawrence Durrell made up of four small novels is a lush and seductive tale of friends and lovers in Alexandria before WWI. Its central theme is love conveyed across the different viewpoints and experiences of the characters that make up these stories and whose common ground is the city.

 

It seems like most stories that take place in Africa are epic and Cutting for Stone proves it.  The story of twin brothers, Marion and Shiva Stone born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon unfolds across five decades in India, Ethiopia, and America. Orphaned by their mother’s death and their father’s disappearance, their coming of age story is one of love and betrayal, compassion and redemption.

 

If you’re an animal lover, you’ll fall in love with this book.  If you’re not, prepare to become one if you read it.  The Elephant Whisperer is the heartwarming story of conservationist Lawrence Anthony who relents to accepting a herd of rogue elephants on his Thula Thula game reserve in South Africa, deep in the heart of Zulu country.  The alternative to him not accepting them is that they would be killed because of their dangerous behavior.  No sooner does he take them on when these delinquents start planning their escape and Anthony has to work fast to build a bond with them in order to rehabilitate and save them.  In the process, the naughty herd teaches him about life, too.

 

The Power of One is a suspenseful novel that takes you on the epic journey of Peekay, a boy born during the birth of apartheid in 1939 South Africa. This coming-of-age story deals with his abandonment, experiences with racism and what it takes to survive in an unforgiving environment.  Ultimately, it is about the power of hope and resilience we can all have as individuals.  

 

To date, there are 21 novels in Alexander McCall’s No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. If you’re new to this highly acclaimed series, then you’ve got some catching up to do on Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s best (and only) female detective. Known for her wisdom and street smarts, this good-hearted detective is an example of girl power in action.  These short novels offer a perfect escape right now and are great reading (or audio) material for young and older adults looking for lighthearted but uplifting stories.

 

“The Kabara groups taught me much regarding gorilla behavior. From them I learned to accept the animals on their own terms and never to push them beyond the varying levels of tolerance they were willing to give. Any observer is an intruder in the domain of a wild animal and must remember that the rights of that animal supersede human interests.” – Dian Fossey was a young woman and an occupational therapist when she traveled to Africa in 1963.  Visiting Uganda, she came into contact with Virunga’s mountain gorillas and it changed her life.  Gorillas in the Mist is her riveting account of the research she conducted in the remote rain forests in Rwanda studying the great apes. Her great understanding, bond and unlimited love for these misunderstand creatures destroyed the myths that had been built around them and changed the way we view gorillas. Her research studying their group behavior provided her with a life of adventure and friendship, but it also entailed hardship and heartbreak.  It’s Fossey’s passion, dedication and determination that we have to thank for the protections the endangered gorillas in the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda have today.  A must-read for anyone who’s ever had a desire to see these incredible creatures who we share 98% of our DNA.

 

 

International Women’s Day | #EachForEqual

March 5th, 2020, by Claudia Santino
When Lucille Sive learned that the campaign theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #EachForEqual, she said “I love it!” 
 
As the CEO for African Travel, Inc., Lucille Sive knows a thing or two about equality.  Born and raised in South Africa, Lucille grew up during apartheid.  “Without equality you cannot have a thriving community or business,” she says. When it comes to women and business, she firmly believes that taking risks can be one of the best things we can do for our careers and that sometimes you can make a decision in your life that changes the course of it in ways you never dreamed.
 
That’s what happened to Lucille when she accepted a marketing position at Lion World Travel. She had no travel or marketing background.  What she did have was a desire to learn and that desire sparked a fiery passion for all things Africa.  “Along my TTC journey I’ve done almost everything from the bottom upwards,” she said.  “For females, you sometimes just have to jump in and make sure that you know every job that there is to know.”  That philosophy paid off when a few years after joining the company, the owner asked her to run it.   Seven years ago, she was named CEO of African Travel, and now oversees all the Africa offerings for TTC’s brands.

People measure success in different ways.  For Lucille, success is all about how happy you are in what you do, and she is extremely happy in her life and her career.   She credits being passionate about all things Africa for what helps make her life a success.  Being a female business leader in any industry can be a challenge or an opportunity.  Like an experienced wildlife tracker, Lucille looks for opportunity in everything she and her team do.  So much so that her team often tells her that she always making lemonade out of lemons.

International Women’s Day is personal to Lucille because March 8th is also her birthday.  She quotes the African proverb that says, “If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.’”  

Lucille takes a lot of inspiration from women in Africa, who she finds incredibly resourceful and resilient.  With its focus on sustainability, African Travel, Inc. partners with women entrepreneurs in the destinations they visit to purchase unique and locally crafted gifts, like intricately beautifully beaded elephants and rhinos as guest amenities.  “Most of these women are single mothers and widows who must feed their families and the money they earn doesn’t just take care of them; it gets cycled back into their communities,” she said.  “I’m continually inspired by women from local communities working on the conservation front, or who run lodges with an emphasis on protecting elephants, rhinos and other creatures.”  

Lucille will tell you that equality is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue.  “I tell people that TTC is one of the nicest places to work at and I love what I do.  I have opportunities here that I would never have had anywhere else because the Tollman family believed in me,” she says.   “Individually, we can all have our own thoughts and we can all make a difference and we can all make sure that we celebrate women’s individual accomplishments, but together we can change the world.”

 

Sherwin's #TTCTop10 Bucket List

January 13th, 2020, by Sherwin Banda

A new year brings new adventures and I’m eager to fill it with travels.  I’m blessed to have been born in Africa and look forward to discovering new places and rediscovering favorites on the continent.  I also can’t wait to explore a few new destination experiences with my family recommended by my The Travel Corporation colleagues.   Whether you like going it alone or in a group, traveling as a family, or a couple, I hope my #TTCTop10 Bucket List inspires you!

 

My Top 7 Africa Places

The next ‘it’ family spot

Africa is a wonderful place to experience with family.  While I love showing my son my South African homeland, I can’t wait to take my family on our Beyond the Rainbow to Zimbabwe. The country is somewhat overlooked and unexplored but you’ll not only be awed with a different perspective on Victorial Falls, but also by some of the greatest game-viewing on land and water safaris.  For another fantastic family option, especially mutli-gen gatherings, I recommend Best of Botswana and Victoria Falls.  
 

Conservation and meaningful connections

So many travelers want authentic connections and to help the planet. My answer:  go to Kenya!  At Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, for instance, you’ll learn about their rhino rehabilitation efforts and experience wildlife through horse and walking safaris.  In Kenya’s north, visit the singing wells of the Samburu tribe and observe the warriors perform an age-old tradition as they chant and collect water for their cattle. I plan to visit Kenya with my son and add an experience helping a local northern Maasai Mara community. It’s a great way for him fulfill a class project with real world impact and for us to experience giving back together.  

 

Botswana’s new eco-safari lodge

Wherever I travel, I always look for ways to re-connect with nature, so I am very excited about Xijera, the new Red Carnation Hotel Collection safari lodge.  It’s set in the Moremi Game Reserve in the heart of Botswana’s Okavango Delta where wildlife viewing is incredible.  The area is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Africa, where over a third of the continent’s elephants roam.  I can’t wait!

 

Extraordinary Adventure

For my more adventurous friends, and anyone looking to be surprised by the extraordinary, I highly recommend our Discover Rwanda.  The country’s variety of wildlife viewing and new lodges is drawing travelers but it’s the people and the beauty of “the land of a thousand hills,” that is stealing hearts. A tip though, permits are limited to see the country’s star attraction—the endangered mountain gorilla—so start planning now. 

 

Ultimate desert safari

I always like to look for new ways to go off the beaten path on safari. Namibia Desert Escapes, African Travel’s flying safari, delivers this with a one-of-a-kind desert safari exploration in one of the most other-worldly places on the planet.  I’m always amazed by Namibia’s contrasts and love to explore the wildlife rich Etosha National Park, the red sand dunes of Sossusvlei and shipwrecks along the Skeleton Coast.  Creatures here continually adapt to their harsh environment, which is really something to behold.

 

Africa’s magical islands

The islands of Africa from Mozambique to Zanzibar are often overlooked but are some of my favorites. They boast pristine beaches and are easily combinable with a safari experience. Right now, I’m fascinated by one and Magical Madagascar is calling.  Often referred to as the eighth continent, this island is home to 5 percent of the world’s wildlife and vegetation. The year-round 70-degree Indian Ocean is also a huge draw to me, as is seeing 11 species of lemurs!

 

South Africa’s winelands provide more than award-winning grapes.

A taste of South Africa

And finally, I can’t miss recommending South Africa! I’m especially eager to tuck into the culinary scene in and around Cape Town.  Wolfgat, recently voted #1 in the World’s Restaurant Awards, and beautiful wine regions like Stellenbosch and Hemel-en-Aarde are just a road trip from the city. As a special carrot to kick start a journey, we’re offering $1,000* off per couple on our most popular trip the Southern Explorer. So, you have no excuses!
 

And a few more places I can’t wait to visit…

Old world charm across the Atlantic

I called London home for several years and am excited to return for a friend’s wedding. Since it will be my son’s first time, I’m excited to revisit iconic attractions and new places through an Evans and Evans tour. While on that side of the Atlantic, exploring the Emerald Island through Intimate Ireland, a Brendan Vacations private chauffeur driven journey is tempting.  Staying at Ashford Castle will be an adventure my son will love.
 

My secret gift splurge

Egypt is steadily gaining attention as a safer destination and an amazing way to explore ancient civilization.  This time I’d like to see it on Uniworld’s Splendors of Egypt and The Nile and then journey further into the region with our Secrets of Jordan. While you may be in awe of Petra and the Bronze Age settlements in Jerash, I’m most eager to see local women’s association, Iraq Al Amir, and purchase their handcrafted gifts for my friends and family.  

 

Pura Vida family time

I’m intrigued by Costa Rica and want to take my son gliding along the canals of Tortuguero under the watchful eyes of colorful toucans and trek the Pura Vida playground along the slopes of the Arenal Volcano. I suspect Trafalgar’s Monkeys, Jungles and Volcanoes will help bring out the child in all of us.   
 

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