Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Zambezi River Adventure




A safari recollection from the year that has been.

"Tomorrow I fly to Mana Pools on the start of a fourteen day Zambezi River adventure.


Eight gentlemen and two Zimbabwe guides on an exclusive English boys club thirsting after adventure!



Using two Cessna aeroplanes, we start the exploration in Mana Pools for canoeing & walking to experience magnificent game in this remote National Park. Our four night stay in Mana includes a flight down the Zambezi to the Chewore safari concession A few years ago, the longest dinosaur footprint track way in the world was discovered on an extensive flat sandstone bed. It is awe inspiring to walk in the footsteps of creatures that ran across the mudflats some two hundred million years ago.



From the Mana flood plains we fly upstream over the Kariba dam wall. Built in 1958, Kariba dam is the second biggest body of man made water on the planet. Spending a few days cruising the lake shore in a luxury houseboat to tour the magical watery sunsets as well as tracking wild black rhino keeps us busy in Matusadona National Park.




Continuing west along the shores of Kariba and flying low level over the twisting Zambezi gorge that spills open below the mighty misty and magnificent Victoria Falls we reach our next safari stop, the charming colonial atmosphere of the Victoria Falls Hotel where we take up residence for two nights.

Our journey next takes us over the Matetsi flood plain and Kazangula Ferry crossing to the Caprivi Strip. The area has fantastic birding and a major highlight is an evening spent slowly boating up the Chobe waterfront to capture images of the prolific wildlife.

Continuing up the Zambezi we reach Katima Mulilo. This is where the Zambezi disappears into Zambia with an abrupt right angle. Your itinerary ends at Shackelton's, a small luxury lodge hidden in the undergrowth of the river rushing past."



Interested in joining us on an exclusive flying safari exploration around Africa?


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Namibia 101




Namibia is an extraordinary place to visit - if big game is your thing, then don't plan on Namibia.

We promote Namibia as a unique desert experience.

If you have the disposable income then air hop into Namibia's hot spots. Otherwise Namibia lends itself perfectly to self driving. Our partners, ATI, based in Windhoek, co-ordinate all our Namibian self drive itineraries with superb hands on management - good roads, long dusty horizons and many quaint bed & breakfast's in between. We can even arrange for you to collect a 4 X 4 Europcar in Windhoek and you can drop it off in Botswana at Maun or Kasane or wherever.

Flick through any Official Visitors' Guide - Welcome to Namibia - and a huge colorful kaleidoscope of tours, lodges, rest camps, manicured game farms and bed & breakfast's comes tumbling out - they are all jostling for space on the indexed pages - it can be daunting.

Eco Logical tends to be aeroplane based and below is a short outline of our preferred Namibia 101 experience:

You connect into Windhoek's Hosea Kutako International Airport from Johannesburg (or directly from Frankfurt on Air Namibia) - the connection lands in Windhoek at around midday. We are waiting for you on the runway for an immediate departure into the desert - why spend another night in another city?


The first stop is normally Wolwedans on the edge of the unending ancient orange Namib Rand Desert - sumptuous food, amazing location, long majestic views and a happy introduction into desert ecology.



From Wolwedans we flit around the towering black mountains to Little Kulala for the Sossousvlei experience - Wilderness Safaris have a unique private access gate into the Sossousvlei National Park which means that we can be in Sossusvlei, trekking up the Big Daddy dune overlooking Dead Vlei Pan, before the convoy arrives from the main gate. If you have experienced the maddening crowd of big white lumbering tour busses and long lines of dusty light colored camping 4 x 4's you will understand the sentiment.



When the crowd arrives, we depart for tea and brunch back at Kulala.

Flying north and west, over the seemingly empty Namib Rand desert, it’s time to venture into the mist belt of Swakopmund on the freezing gusting gray Atlantic.

Some say yes and some say no to Swakopmund being part of their Namibian safari itineraries - the Swakopmund mist carries a wafting atmosphere of colonial Germany from long ago. For my safari practicalities, Swakopmund is a fuel stop and there is a thick colorful folder, full of sideline activities - the Crystal Gallery museum with its amazing quartz crystal and meteorite; the educational living desert tour; the Tug restaurant; the not so smelly Sandwich Harbor seal tour; dune paragliding; dune boarding; adventure quad biking - your Swakopmund experience should only happen on a week day because the place acquires a sad ghostly feeling over a week-end as most businesses shut their trading doors. The Hansa Hotel and Swakopmund Hotel and Entertainment centre are our preferred places of residence.

From Swakopmund, we’ll scud-run north along the bleak desolate coast that is cris-crossed with empty roads and undulating mounds - over Henties Bay, to Cape Cross. This is a staging point for the Messum Crater - one of the planets biggest geological events - Messum exuded lava for a few million years creating the Etendeka topography. The day drive, out of Cape Cross,  takes us over ancient lichen fields; volcanic basalt extrusions; Welwitchia valleys; and a walk over nothing where your footsteps crunch very loudly in the stark desert silence.


For the next hop, you are faced with a Kaokaland/Damaraland a la carte desert lodge menu of big view destinations:- Doro Nawas; Damaraland Camp; Rhino Camp; a revamped Etendeka and the Camp Kipwe and Mowani Twyfelfontein petro glyph experiences.


 
If you are thirsty for the real Skeleton Coast then we land at Purros and venture for a 3 night private camping excursion. The day drive, up to Cape Fria, is a remarkable journey - hummock dunes; zebra dunes; roaring dunes; shifting dunes; lithops; solitary white ostrich eggs; salt pans; smelly seals and the real Skeleton Coast with remains of whale bones and a rusty ship wreck scattered down the long lonely mysterious beach.


Or you can skip it all and fly north to the Angolan border on the Kunene River. There are two spectacular valleys - the Hartmann and Marien Fluss - far enough from the beaten track to make them feel really exotic. We are HUGE fans of a seriously comfortable premier Camp, Serra Cafema, in the Hartmann Valley and new exciting developments are evolving in the next door valley and further up the Kunene River, towards Epupa.



Etosha has good, bad and ugly blowing over its open, empty and dusty calcrete face. It is a public park and shines like a safe safari lighthouse on the Namibian self drive tour routes. Every year new and improved lodges suddenly appear on the thorn tree web page - the area feels like a fun extension of a manicured Kruger Park:- hard top roads; game fences; regulations; other vehicles and lots of tame wildlife. Yes, you do bump into black faced impala and Damaraland dik-diks and the water holes are busy like a big picture panorama in a colorful Etosha coffee table book. Etosha is a very cool and safe self drive destination. But you can fly to really amazing secluded wildlife areas in the Okavango and Mana Pools and beyond - so we’ll normally overfly Etosha.

There is lots of old world style human culture scattered around the grassland peripheries of the harsh deserts:- Nama's and Damara's clicking in the south, painted Herero Himba's in the north and scattered clans of nomadic San hunting in the undulating Kalahari sands of Tsumkwe and Xadum in the east.


A long tropical finger, called the Caprivi Strip, races off to the east in the direction of Victoria Falls. The strip is sandwiched like colonial butter between Angola in the north and Botswana in the south. This is a wonderful self drive route to follow - from the desert to Victoria Falls. In the western Caprivi our good friend, Mark Adcock has built some low hanging tree houses in his Ngepi Camp on the banks of the Kavango River. Mark is a lateral thinker and his camp swimming pool is a sturdy wire cage floating in the mighty river that relentlessly feeds the Okavango Delta. Ngepi is abstract to any Namibian destination because it is propped up with bits and pieces of the Adcock vision.

The best time to visit Namibia is between April and Early October - our cooler winter months.


For any information on travel throughout Southern Africa, from safaris, to commercial ticketing, airport transfers and self drive packages, pop the team a line at any time :
travel@ecologicalafrica.com

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

For the water babies . . .



I have two top choices for diving and snorkeling adventures; the Indian ocean and Lake Malawi.


The Indian ocean, off Africa’s tropical coast, has an incredible variety, quality and quantity of marine life. Manta rays, whale sharks, five species of turtle, over 400 species of fish, dugongs, dolphins and porpoises, whales and endless tropical reefs. 

Indian Ocean, off coast of Mozambique

The most pristine reefs are found around Mozambique’s Quirimbas and Bazaruto archipelgos. Many swimmers are the first to discover sites as the areas are isolated away from mass tourism making it a rare priveledge indeed. We like to stay at Vamizi Island, Quilelea and Benguerra Island Lodge.

Mnemba Island, Zanzibar


Zanzibar’s Mnemba Island, Chumbe Island and Menai Bay also offer excellent diving and snorkeling while the Seychelles is best for huge range of fish (although it must be noted that many of the reefs near the main islands in Seychelles show signs of bleaching).

While South Africa’s waters are not as tropical as further up the coast, there is very good wreck and fast drift diving off of Kynsna.


Away from the Indian ocean, for something completely different,  nothing, NOTHING beats Lake Malawi’s fresh water. 

snorkelling & kayaking at Kaya Mawa, Lake Malawi


With a rocky underwater environment, home to hundreds of endemic brightly colored cichlids, otters and other marine life, the enhanced alkalinity of this water enables the longest visibility that our team has ever dived in. Plus Malawi is renowned as the friendliest nation in Africa with the warmest welcome smiles you’ll see anywhere – as well as spectacular wood craft. Carvings on display here will make your heart smile and soul sing.

Pumulani, Lake Malawi

We love Kaya Mawa, Nkwichi and Pumulani.

African Romance


star bed at Wolwedans, Namib Rand Desert, Namibia


Much of Africa makes for a romantic escape, singling out any makes for a difficult task and the lodges selected would need to go all out to make your stay special. If it’s a honeymoon, a proposal or anniversary, they’d try even harder. 


Musing on the many honeymoon trips we’ve carried out (and, for some of the team, had as our own!) our top picks for a romantic break or honeymoon trip are touched on below. 


These are the destinations that will plan surprises during your stay – maybe a private dinner, bush bouquet for the bride or champagne next to your bubble bath already drawn. These will never be bog standard safari add ons but rather exceptional once off arrangements arranged by us and the camp staff to make your journey so much more memorable.


The classic safari romance combination is a luxury bush itinerary combined finished off with a secluded beach escape. 


Zambia’s small individual safari lodges are always a winner. 

lioness relaxing on deck at Shumba Camp, Busanga Plains, Zambia

Sausage Tree Camp with it’s private butler for each “room” (think private suite) and star sky dinning, Islands of Siankaba with their wide airy river front verandas and roped suspension bridges and Shumba Camp in the Busanga Plains with hot air balloon breakfasts and resident lion pride top our amorous Zambian to do list.


Botswana’s many camps often have honeymoon suites but we like to go the extra mile.



For absolute knock out romance, three Bots camps deliver beyond expectation; Zarafa Camp (the Jouberts’ eco friendly four suite set up on the Selinda spillway), Jao Camp (total water camp with huge rooms and extensive wine cellar) and Baines Camp (with star beds and an elephant herd you can be part of!).



Zarafa Camp, Linyanti Floodplains, Botswana

 
Mozambique’s private islands make for an ultra luxe experience while in Zimbabwe you have two routes for dreamy escape; a private tented camping experience (think of a camp set up just for you, catered to your every need, in a spot chosen just days before your arrival to take best advantage of game movement, weather and bushveld) or Singita’s Pamushana in the Malilangwe Reserve.



Private Tented Camping in Zimbabwe



There is an exotic remoteness that makes Namibia’s isolation uniquely appealing.


Serra Cafema is the most out of the way lodge in our safari sphere. Five star lavishness at great value too. 


Views at Serra Cafema, Namibia


Cape Cross Hotel sits on the Skeleton Coast about three hundred kilometers from Walvis and over six hundred kilometers to the Angola border – far flung solitude atypical of the established safari scene. Wolwedans offers dreamy desert privacy with unparalleled service levels.
  
Bush romance at sunset

When planning your honeymoon or romantic break, please mention to our team on booking about this special occasion.


These type of trips cost exactly the same as any equivalent travel, telling us will only make a difference in your experience not the price.