Last month, I joined a group of Brownell Travel colleagues for an EDU (that’s travel talk for an educational trip to scout out new properties) in Southern Africa. Our group consisted of six veteran travel advisors whose passports are covered with as many immigration stamps as tattoos on a band of bikers. But rather than conquests, our ink touts countries. This group has been everywhere. And yet – we professional tourists were awed (and that’s saying a lot) by this trip to Africa, a vast landscape of varying scenes and experiences.
Yes, there are the animals. Right there! Roaming free in their natural habitat and yet close enough to photograph without a long lens. At one camp, Sandibe, mischievous monkeys darted in when our backs were turned and ran off with our trail mix. Those tree huggers! At another, Abu, a sanctuary for injured elephants in Botswana, we strolled along with the lumbering, gentle giants. Our paths crossed with marathon-mating (every 10 minutes for three days – Lordy!) lions and lounging leopards, elusive wild dogs and hungry hippos.
But one of the most memorable experiences involved the African people. Not far from the exceptional Linkwasha Camp is a local village where school children greeted us with song and dance, their bright faces warm with affection and a multitude of questions for the khaki-clad strangers from America. Wilderness Safaris, the camp owner, supports the local village as part of their 4Cs vision – Commerce, Conservation, Community, and Culture – to “contribute meaningfully to the wildlife and people of Africa.” And so, we feel good about supporting Wilderness Safaris.
From rural outpost to cosmopolitan capital, Southern Africa is not just for safaris anymore. Before or after gaming, you could hole up at the Saxon Hotel and Spa in Johannesburg for pampering. Hit the beach at Villa Santorini in Mozambique. (Someone in our group said the snorkeling there surpasses the Great Barrier Reefs.) Or cruise Zimbabwe’s Lake Karibe on a luxury houseboat, the Matusadona. Even the wildest travel animal needs a little rest every now and then.
No one knows Africa like my friends, Dylan Harriss and Gavin Ford of Africa Inscribed. They customize incredible itineraries for first-timers and return visitors alike. Lucky for us, Gavin will be in Richmond in January, eager to share his Africa with interested clients. More to come…
Caroline Travels the World…and So Can You.