Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe…tour operators whisper in our ears about the wonders of Southern Africa.
abercrombie & kent’s namibia
Namibia’s allure: “One of the world’s least populated countries, Namibia bursts with natural wonders of all kinds, from the sky-high dunes of the Namib Desert to wildlife such as the desert-adapted elephants to the chilly South Atlantic coastlines.”
Singular tour: The Signature Namibia itinerary ($6,495) visits the Namib Desert; the Huab River Valley; the Otjikandero Himba village; and the Okaukuejo area of Etosha National Park, among other sites. What sets A&K’s tour apart is that “transportation around the country is mostly via flight (light aircraft transfers) in order to make the best use of the guests’ vacation time.”
Tour highlight: “Early morning guided nature drives to the spectacular red dunes of Sossusvlei—some climbing as high as 1,066 ft.—accessible through a private gate on the Tsauchab River. A visit to the Otjikandero Himba village, situated on a family farm, grants you rich insight into the life and ways of the Himba, the last traditional tribe in Namibia. Witness Himba rituals such as the milking ceremony and smoke bath, and learn about their beliefs regarding holy fire, ancestors and herbal medicine.”
Ideal traveler: “Anyone who desires to experience a unique part of Africa. Excellent destination for photographers due to its diverse landscape: stark seascapes and mountains, deserts, wildlife, and colonial cities.”
alexander+roberts’ south africa
Alexander+Roberts’ president, Bob Drumm, speaks to us about South Africa and the tour operator’s 12-day Journey to South Africa + Victoria Falls tour.
South Africa’s allure: “South Africa is one of the richest and most diverse destinations in the world…the spectacle of Victoria Falls just to its north, fantastic private wildlife reserves near Kruger National Park where the big five abound, one of the finest vineyard collections anywhere, Cape Town’s style and unmatched beauty…and new for us in 2014, Grootbos Private Nature Reserve at the tip of the continent where the Indian and Atlantic oceans converge to create a fantastic marine-life experience.”
Singular tour: The Journey to South Africa + Victoria Falls itinerary ($7,499) takes in Victoria Falls, the Winelands, Cape Town, Kruger, and the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. What sets Alexander+Roberts’ tour apart is “our small groups of never more than 16 guests and guaranteed departures enhance the travelers’ personal experiences and make it easy for agents to sell. While other companies offer Grootbos as an optional extension, we include it as an important part of the diversity showcased in the experience. We’re also very flexible in adapting pre/post to expand the Southern African experience, if wished.…Botswana is very popular.”
Tour highlight: “We tour a cellar and enjoy one of many wine-tastings, one in particular with the owner of the Haute Cabriere Estate. The experience ends with guests taking a try at opening champagne with a sword…a Sabrage as it’s known. As mentioned above, the 2-night stay at Grootbos is extraordinary. We also make a donation to the Rhino Rescue Project operated by the Thornybush reserve we stay at outside Kruger.”
Ideal traveler: “Our guests are experienced international travelers, 50+, who are inquisitive with diverse interests…cultural, food-engaged and lovers of the natural world. Since we specialize in carefully selected and trained native guides, and with the benefit of our intimate group size, our travelers have a personalized experience in very fine accommodations at a reasonable price.”
goway travel’s zambia
Goway Travel’s general manager for Africa and the Middle East, Moira Smith, speaks to us about Zambia and the tour operator’s 9-day Zambia Walking Safari – South Luangwa Encounter tour.
Zambia’s allure: “Zambia offers a truly authentic safari and the South Luangwa offers a pristine and prolific game experience. It has over 60 different animal species and over 400 bird species; it really is one of the great wildlife sanctuaries in the world.”
Singular tour: On the Zambia Walking Safari ($5,597), your clients will have the opportunity to get up-close with elephants, buffalo, hippos and the park’s famous Thornicroft’s giraffes while staying at the Bilimungwe Bushcamp, surrounded by three watering holes, and Zungulila Bushcamp, with views of the Kapamba River. What sets Goway’s tour apart is “exceptional guiding (Zambia guides are considered some of the best in the world); small, exclusive camps that host a maximum of eight guests at any one time; personal experiences tailored to suit the guest; and remote settings free from other vehicles.”
Tour highlight: “For me a highlight was tracking an adult male lion by identifying the spoor, listening to the warning sounds of the monkeys, insects and birds, and then finally coming across this magnificent beast. It’s an adrenaline rush like no other.”
Ideal traveler: “The client will be passionate about wildlife, reasonably fit and possibly a second time visitor to Africa.”
kensington tours’ botswana
Kensington Tours’ director for Africa, Gabrielle Nijdam, speaks to us about Botswana and the tour operator’s 10-day Botswana Signature tour.
Botswana’s allure: “Botswana is the shining gem in Southern Africa’s crown and a trailblazer when it comes to conservation, tourism ethics, education, economy and safety—this is why it’s typically a little more expensive to travel in than Kenya, Tanzania or South Africa. Botswana has been blessed with the continent’s greatest concentration of African elephants in Chobe and Linyanti, and Botswana is one of Africa’s most ecologically diverse countries and boasts four distinct landscapes: desert; delta; great rivers; and salt pans.”
Singular tour: Kensington Tours’ Botswana Signature itinerary ($10,720) visits the Central Kalahari, the Okavango Delta and the Linyanti Wildlife Reserve. What sets Kensington’s tour apart is “it combines three different regions and ecosystems; travelers/agents can customize their itinerary; and clients have the opportunity to delve into Botswana in a variety of different ways, including mokoro canoing; by foot on guided hikes; driving in jeep 4x4s and via sky safaris in which participants take small charter planes from camp to camp, offering incredible animal sightings and photography opportunities from the air.”
Tour highlight: “Getting up close and personal with San bushman as you trek the Kalahari, taste the food they forge in the bush, listen to their legends and learn about their traditions and way of life. Customization is always a highlight with Kensington—one can easily add on a trip to Victoria Falls, walking with elephants, interacting with lions, add in a trip to Cape Town or finish on the beaches of Mozambique.”
Ideal traveler: “First- or second-time safari-goers; travelers who want to ensure their tourism dollars are being spent responsibly; fishing enthusiasts; adrenaline adventures; and animal conservation enthusiasts, among others.”
sita world tours’ zimbabwe
SITA World Tours’ Africa product manager, Natalie Lee, speaks to us about Zimbabwe and the tour operator’s 9-day Great Zimbabwe tour.
Zimbabwe’s allure: “Glorious scenery and spectacular wildlife are not the only things that make Zimbabwe fascinating. The country also has an abundance of ruins and heritages that bear witness to ancient cultures and traditions. From the famous Victoria Falls and Hwange National Park to the Great Zimbabwe Ruins—the grand medieval palace—Zimbabwe is sure to offer travelers an experience of a lifetime.”
Singular tour: The Great Zimbabwe itinerary (call for rates) includes visits to the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, Bulawayo, Matobo National Park, Hwange National Park, and Victoria Falls. What sets SITA’s tour apart is the company’s knowledge in the region. “SITA has been developing tour packages to Zimbabwe and other Africa destinations for years. SITA’s Zimbabwe itinerary is now becoming one of the company’s most popular Africa packages with unparalleled quality service provided by the internationally certified specialists and customer care during the reservation process and while in destination.”
Tour highlight: “There are numerous places of interest that travelers can experience in Zimbabwe. Two of them are highlighted as the most recommended attractions by SITA, which are both included in the Great Zimbabwe itinerary: the Victoria Falls and the Great Zimbabwe Ruins.”
Ideal traveler: “SITA’s Zimbabwe packages are designed for travelers of all ages. The Great Zimbabwe package is particularly attractive to travelers who want to explore what Zimbabwe has to offer in terms of scenery, history and wildlife and wish to travel with a small group.”
South African Airways, considered Africa’s leading airline and a member of Star Alliance, offers daily nonstop service from New York (JFK) to Johannesburg and flights from there to more than 55 destinations across Africa, including Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Additionally, there’s direct service from Washington, D.C. For more information, call (800) 722-9675 or visit flysaa.com.
Abercrombie & Kent: (888) 611-4711; abercrombiekent.com
Alexander+Roberts: (800) 221 -2216; alexanderroberts.com
Goway Travel: (800) 557-2841; goway.com or gowayagent.com
Kensington Tours: (888) 903-2001; kensingtontours.com or kensingtontours.com/agents/fit/Login.aspx
SITA World Tours: (800) 421-5643; sitatours.com or sitatours.com/AgentServices/index.php