SOUTH AFRICA TOURS: NEWSLETTER #2 – 18TH AUGUST, 2012 Note: If you no longer wish to receive current and future tour updates via these Newsletters, please let me know and I will remove your name permanently from the mailing list. RESERVATION STATUS SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2013 (ITINERARY+ PRICING: PER SAS TOUR DOCUMENTS SENT OUT) GROUP TOUR START GROUP SPOTS TOUR ID TOUR END DATE SPOTS DATE RESERVED VACANT SAS-1 September 7, 2013 September 25, 2013 0 6 SAS-2 September 21, 2013 October 9, 2013 Young(2) 4 SAS-3 October 5, 2013 October 23, 2013 Carr(2) 4 SAS-4 October 19, 2013 November 6, 2013 Stowell(2),Hall(2) 2 JANUARY/FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014 (SLIGHT CHANGE IN ITINERARY, DUE TO SEASON; PRICING PROBABLY 5-10% HIGHER THAN SEP/OCT 2013) GROUP TOUR START GROUP SPOTS TOUR ID TOUR END DATE SPOTS DATE RESERVED VACANT SAS-5 January 18, 2014 February 5, 2014 0 6 SAS-6 February 1, 2014 February 19, 2014 0 6 SAS-7 February 15, 2014 March 5, 2014 0 6 SAS-8 March 1, 2014 March 19, 2014 0 6 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2014 (ITINERARY SAME AS SEP/OCT 2013; PRICING PROBABLY A FURTHER 5-10% HIGHER) GROUP TOUR START GROUP SPOTS TOUR ID TOUR END DATE SPOTS DATE RESERVED VACANT SAS-9 September 6, 2014 September 24, 2014 0 6 SAS-10 September 20, 2014 October 8, 2014 0 6 SAS-11 October 4, 2014 October 22, 2014 0 6 SAS-12 October 18, 2014 November 5, 2014 0 6 Tour-Group ‘Fill-Up: If the tour start-date is not critical for you, please consider filling up the vacant spots on a tour which is already partially filled. The ‘fill’ of a specific tour will be evident from the ‘Reservation Status’ above. In this way, we can reach tour-viability faster. Name on List: Your name being on the Reservation List indicates that you have expressed more than a passing interest in a tour, but does not bind you. Once there are 6 folks on a specific tour, I will contact you all for commitment and deposit. ‘HOT OFF THE PRESS’ **NEW TOUR** “South African Outdoor Odyssey (SAOO) Tour: A Nature and Animal Lover’s Adventure” Introduction I have started making plans for a new, unique, one of a kind adventure tour that concentrates on animals and the great natural outdoors. Whereas the 19-day ‘South African Sojourn (SAS)’ is an excellent introductory tour of South Africa covering many interesting and important aspects, this new ‘South African Outdoor Odyssey (SAOO)’ tour is shorter, more specialized, and dedicated to nature, animals and the great outdoors (refer also to ‘Q&A Corner’ below). When The SAOO tour will only have two start dates each year, unlike the SAS tour which has numerous repeats of the same itinerary at different times of year. So it would truly be a case of first come first served (with only 12 spots available). The first two tours are planned for end-April / early May 2014 – a really great time in South Africa for fauna, flora and climate. The ‘South African Outdoor Odyssey’ tour will last just on two weeks start to finish, including flying to/from South Africa. The detailed itinerary, estimated pricing and the 2014 tour start- dates will be announced in early September 2012. WHERE and secure as much natural habitat Destination 1 Your first destination would be a private game farm and nature reserve, named ‘Legodimo’ – a Setswana (local Botswana language) word meaning ‘Paradise, Heaven, or where God is’, and situated in the north-east corner of Botswana, the so-called Tuli Block. The Tuli Block is part of one of the wildest stretches of land still to be found in Africa today. The area boasts Elephant (many!), Lion, Crocodile, Hippopotamus (plus a large number of other animal and bird species) and magnificent, huge, ancient Baobab trees, to name but a few of the attractions. The camp itself lies within 50 yards of the mighty Limpopo River, which forms most of the boundary between South Africa and Botswana. This game farm is owned by my wife’s family, and is truly unspoiled wilderness. I have convinced them to open it up for the two visits in 2014 by small groups. The trip to the farm would probably last just over a week (drive from Pretoria to farm, 6 nights and 5 full days on the farm/reserve, drive back to Pretoria with an overnight). We would take in some stops at interesting animal-themed attractions along the way, these TBD. This Botswana farm trip is really for everyone – young and old. As long as you (a) have an adventurous spirit, (b) are really keen on seeing new vistas around every corner and discovering/photographing all types of animals in their natural habitat, (c) enjoy just being in the great natural outdoors, and (d) have no problem with slightly reduced creature comforts in terms of accommodation – this tour is just what you have been waiting for! Let me be clear, the farm visit will not be strenuous! It is not a ‘pitch your tent and cook your food’ type of trip. The amount of walking involved is up to you – since mostly you will be in a small bus or on an open 4x4. Although the camp does NOT offer four-star amenities, it provides all the basic needs (potable water, gas stoves and refrigerators, sleeping huts, paraffin lamps, community ‘boma’, toilet, shower, etc.). If it had all the modern conveniences then, in my view, the adventure-aspect would be severely diminished. So no electricity, no TV, no laundry-service, no Internet hotspot, no 7-Eleven, and even cellphone coverage is only available if you climb to the top of a nearby hill! And there are no fences around the camp – so sleep- walking could be hazardous to your health! But I do guarantee you will experience real Africa --- you will sleep in round African-style mud- wall huts, you will take all food and drink with you (and you may even be asked to demonstrate your culinary skills on occasions), your hot water for showers/shaving/etc. will come from 44- gallon drums suspended over an open fire, and you will go out each day in the open 4x4 LandRover to explore the area, to marvel at the vistas, and to encounter game face to face in the bush (including crocodiles and hippos in the river and huge numbers of elephant at the water holes). I have been there, and it was a wonderful and really memorable experience. The solitude, the sunrises/sunsets, the total peace and quiet, the absence of other human activity, the crisp clean air, knowing that one is a visitor in the animals’ domain, having to make do with less, that early morning cup of coffee – all these experiences made for a great stay and fantastic memories. Who Your hosts will be the owners, Danie and Heidi Retief. Both love the bush and outdoor life (and it shows!), and they have really done a great job in maintaining a lovely camp. Along with their permanent African staff, they will ensure that your visit to Botswana is highly enjoyable, insightful and educational. Activities In addition to the daily game drives, drives to vista vantage points, drives to view specific flora of the region (like the amazing baobab trees), short walks on the farm and along the Limpopo river, etc., there are other possible activities on/from the farm. These will be finalized and described fully in the ‘Tour Details’ document to be issued in early September 2012: a visit to the local village of Mathethane to experience first-hand how the indigenous Black peoples live a drive along the river to view heritage Bushman paintings field excursions with Gerrit, a trained wilderness conservation expert who lives at a separate camp on the farm and who will educate you on spoor-reading and game- tracking, on the local fauna and flora, and on his favorite subject ‘reptiles’ (with living examples)! Gerrit manages a non-profit group called ‘Legodimo Wilderness’, whose mission it is to expand wilderness areas and secure as much natural habitat as possible, for the preservation of biodiversity and the conservation of threatened species. Optional: A sleep under the stars (not for the faint of heart!) with Gerrit at a nearby site where there are always nocturnal animals (e.g. elephants) passing by during the night. During one recent sleep-out, Gerrit reported hearing a leopard grunting within 30 feet of where they were located! Destination 2 Travelling to South Africa for a week’s visit is, in my view, far too short and not worth the trouble! So I have coupled the Botswana farm trip with a not-to-be-missed trip to Morgan Bay, a small seaside resort on South Africa’s Wild Coast (this destination is also part of the SAS Tour). Just a short drive from East London up the Wild Coast in South Africa, is this special place which somehow allows those who go there to exchange the cares of the world for the more important things in life. The coastal village of Morgan Bay lies nestled between majestic cliffs and a mile- long stretch of unspoiled beach. It is flanked by a stunning lagoon which carves open a sandy mouth to the raw beauty of the Indian Ocean. This is South Africa’s magnificent Wild Coast, with its dramatic rugged cliffs, pounding surf and breathtaking vistas – nature at its pristine best. The nature, animal and great outdoors themes will again be very much in evidence at this beautiful spot and in the immediate area during the 5 days spent there – but the level of creature comfort will be decidedly higher! This destination will add experiences that you will treasure. Those interested, raise your right hands! Q&A CORNER Why are you organizing a 2nd tour to South Africa?: There are two main reasons, basically unrelated. Firstly, some folks cannot afford to be away from home/work for almost 3 weeks – the length of the SAS tour – and thus a shorter tour was planned to cater for those people. Secondly, there are those looking for a tour that is unique and outdoor/animal-specific. Summaries of the two tours follow below. o SAS (‘South African Sojourn’): This is a quite comprehensive, introductory, 19- day tour of South Africa, and is the one recommended for those folks that have never been there before. It therefore includes a broad palette of things to see and do, e.g. history, politics, different areas of the country, scenery/nature, animals, African cultures, 3-4 star accommodation, the multi-faceted food-scene, etc. o SAOO (‘South African Outdoor Odyssey’): This 14-day tour is for those who would like to concentrate specifically on outdoor, nature and animal themes. The first 8 days are definitely a ‘getting away from it all’, and a ‘return to basics’ experience in terms of creature comforts like accommodation, food and excursions, but all activities are leisurely and in no way strenuous. This tour will be an enjoyable experience for all ages. Do I Need a Visa To Visit South Africa?: Citizens of the USA, Australia and many other countries do NOT require a visa to visit South Africa as a tourist. As stated in the documents I sent out, please ensure however that you have two blank side-by-side pages in your passport and that it’s valid for at least six months after arrival. Does the Tour Include a Photo Safari?: The answer is: Absolutely ‘yes’. “Safari” to me means viewing animals in their natural habitat and, since animals are one of the main attractions in South Africa, I have made sure that you will have numerous photo safari opportunities. On the SAOO tour, almost every day is in fact a photo safari! On the SAS tour, you have this opportunity on six different occasions: o DAY 2: At the the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre, you’re up close and personal with these magnificent cats – so close in fact you can hear them purring! On the 2-hour game drive you are again face-to-face with cheetahs (this time with nothing between you and them) and well as wild dogs and many other endangered species. o DAY 2: At the Bushbabies Sanctuary, you will be able to get shots of primates in their natural habitat (i.e. in the wild, not in cages). o DAY 5: In the Kruger National Park – a whole day’s game drive – where you may be lucky enough to see one or more of the Big Five. But you will see a lot of other animals as well. o DAY 13: In the Cape Point Nature Reserve, you may catch sight of buck, baboons, zebra, and many species of birds o DAY 14: Penguins in the Stony Point Colony. At Hermanus, you are there in peak whale-watching season and you will get up close to them in a modern catamaran. o DAY 16: At the Inkwenkwezi Game Park, you will see many different animals (as described on the Day 16 Page) on the 3 hour game-drive, the highlights being the white lions, elephants and cheetahs (you cannot get any closer than this!) Single/Group Travel: If you are someone who enjoys travelling with a group of friends, i.e. people that you know, I can totally understand that desire. If, however, you cannot make up the full group size of six for a South Africa tour from yourself and friends, I would suggest that you try to find one friend to join you. Not only does it provide that ‘comfort factor’ but it also potentially eliminates the single-supplement cost. Regarding the other four ‘strangers’ in your group, I have always found (on cruises for example) that meeting new people either on an excursion or at the dinner table at night is something that I always look forward to. Many long-term friendships have been established with total strangers met on cruises and tours.
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