Lions roaring, elephants mud wallowing and leopards gracefully walking through the open wetlands to grab a drink before they disappear up a tree. All of this is happening right now, and you might just forget about the past year’s struggles while you are out enjoying it! Check out these two unique safari experiences from our expert travel advisors who were among the first to return to Africa’s national wildlife parks.

[Travel note: Most African countries are accepting international travelers with proof of negative COVID-19 tests. Alternatively, all air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 3 days before travel. Talk to your travel advisor for more details.]

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Taking a break on safari


Last month, a team of safari experts was fortunate to head across the world to the beautiful country of Botswana to see and experience some new lodges - Duba Explorer Camp and Selinda Camp.

Our team — Shelby L., Nick L. and Debbie F. — last month headed to Africa, our home away from home. Once we landed in Johannesburg, our PCR test from the U.S. was verified, and we continued to customs just like every other trip before COVID. The safety protocols in Africa are top notch – at every door, outside every building and around all the lodges there are sanitation stations and hand sanitizer dispensers. As soon as we landed in Botswana to head out on safari, we were greeted by the safari lodge staff with mini safety bags with hand sanitizer, custom masks and towelettes inside.

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Feeding a baby elephant at camp

Our first day in Selinda Camp started with the best welcome from a gentle giant. As we finished lunch and were heading back to our room, a big bull elephant decided to make its way through our camp, walking the same path we did to get to our rooms. He is a local at this point and usually walks through camp every day in search of a good meal, so we decided to step away from his path and enjoy his company from a safe distance. What a welcome!

After such an amazing in-camp sighting, we made our way back to our beautiful, airy rooms. The plunge pool catches your eye as you walk up the steps to your covered deck. As you walk through the vintage stone doors into your room, the natural lighting and soft tones of the room are so inviting. You have your bed in the middle of the room with bold leather chairs off to the side, a full mini bar and vanity and then as you continue through the room you make your way into the cozy, spacious bathroom with African art and a giant brass tub overlooking the water below. The room is hard to leave but heading out on a game drive is such a rush we freshened up and headed out for an exciting adventure.

Morning safaris can be slow and peaceful or they can be exhilarating and wake you up quicker than any cup of coffee! On our first full morning on game drive, we were driving along when our vehicle came to an abrupt stop as we eyed a male leopard lying in the middle of the road in the sand. We stopped and admired him and quickly realized he was on the hunt for a morning snack. As impala made their way through the grass, we followed along as this leopard attempted multiple attacks. Sadly, he was unsuccessful but was not about to give up. After resting for an hour, we followed along as he attempted to grab a warthog. Even though he wasn’t able to catch his morning snack, four hours sure fly by when you’re off-roading and chasing leopard, impala and warthogs!

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A leopard relaxes in the road

When we returned to camp late in the morning, we would sit and have brunch and cocktails. After lunch you are free to go and shop around the boutique on-site, get a massage either at the spa or in your room or kick your feet up for an afternoon snooze. Then you head back out on safari mid-afternoon to see what the animals are stirring up before they lose their daylight and begin settling in for the night. To end each day, we also traditionally stop for what we call “sundowners” – we get everyone’s favorite drink of choice, small snacks and appetizers and say "Cheers!" to a beautiful day in the bush!

The greatest thing about our safari destinations is you are outside in nature, breathing fresh air with space to move and feel safe and having your closest interactions with animals in the wild.


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Great view to see the wildebeest on the Ndutu Plains


Safari expert Angela H. just returned from an 11-day safari experience in Tanzania, Africa, with a stop at the breathtaking beaches of Zanzibar.

While most people take months if not a year to plan a luxury safari, we knew we had to jump across the pond and get to the Serengeti while the national parks were empty of tourists and the borders were open. Two weeks later, we were on Qatar Airways out of an empty JFK airport connecting in Qatar, Doha, and touching down in Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro airport.

We arrived in Arusha and were quickly transported to the Legendary Lodge. Set on the lush tropical gardens of a working coffee farm just outside Arusha, the Legendary Lodge dazzles with its beautiful garden cottages with private verandas. We relaxed, rode bikes through the farm and enjoyed the food and spa massages on site. 

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A tower of giraffes near Nimali Mara Camp

 A quick one-hour air flight from Arusha to the dirt airstrip of Kogatende landed us in the Northern Serengeti with jeeps waiting for us. One of our main goals of the trip was to witness the wildebeest crossing on the Mara River, often called the great migration. Our expert guide, Cloude, recognized the animal movement patterns and immediately took us over to the crossing point on the Mara River. From there we were able to observe the amazing drama of the mass-movement of wildebeest and zebras making their way to the Ndutu Plains.

For the next two nights, we checked into the gorgeous Nimali Mara Camp, a small, intimate safari camp with only 10 tents. I soaked in a beautiful, copper tub with windows open, overlooking the savannah. The camp fits naturally into its surroundings amongst the trees and boulders, with an infinity pool set within a natural cave. I woke up to giraffes and zebras roaming in front of my room. I appreciated the energy-efficient lighting and solar power that the hotel used, as well as the sustainable materials keeping it eco-friendly.

Next, we moved to the Nyumbani Camp, a luxury camp in the central Serengeti, where we searched for big lions and cats for two days. We tracked lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo who share the park with cheetah, Thomson's and Grant's gazelle, topi, eland, waterbuck, hyena, baboon, impala, African wild dog and giraffe, to name a few. We later visited the spectacular Retina Hippo Pool with over 200 lazy, playful hippos splashing around.

On the fringe of the park is the Ngorongoro Crater, where we searched unsuccessfully for the near extinct rhino. We stayed on the outer slopes of the crater at the luscious, tropical Gibb’s Farm founded in the 1920s as a coffee plantation.

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An early start to a great day on safari

Our next two days were spent at the Sanctuary Swala, located in a secluded area of Tarangire National Park, where we continued to view elephants and birds in flight. A quick flight off-shore brought us to Zanzibar, which dazzled our senses with the Arabic influences and empty miles of pristine white-sand beaches. Here we stayed at the Xanadu Villas, an hour drive from exotic Stonetown.

My takeaways: 1. Don’t overthink traveling abroad! The economic impact that even one group of tourists can bring to an area is significant for families around the world who are in dire need.  2. Now is the perfect time to travel with cleaner-than-ever planes and accommodations. 3. Getting outside of our bubble helps restore our vision of humanity and why tourism matters!

Contact our agency to create your own safari adventure in Africa!

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