This Africa travel company provided excellent communication, recommendations, and service from our initial contact through a follow-up post-trip. We originally booked this trip in 2019 for 2020 prior to the onset of Covid, which led to many uncertainties and changes until it was finally executed in 2021. Canceled flights and changes by a Zambia carrier proved to be challenging for all, but our travel company was monitoring this and took immediate action to resolve connections and lodging issues with each change. Flights going and coming from Africa were not full and the same was true for many internal flights. The exception was for the Zambia flights so one might presume that a canceled flight today would mean a fuller flight tomorrow. The actual execution of our trip went off perfectly and we were very pleased. We felt we were in great hands and well supported if there had been flight issues etc. while en route.
This was our third trip to Africa and we've been on safari for all three. This trip was well organized and there were many transfers and flights involving four different countries in Africa (South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe). At this time, each border crossing required a PCR test for Covid, so our travel planner had to help us coordinate this as well, in order to make this trip possible. At every transfer point, a representative met us to help navigate the local procedures and facilitate movement to our next flight, hotel, border crossing, etc. If we'd been on our own we'd likely have figured this out, but not with the efficiency and knowledge of the processes and procedures that this staff had. Their presence provided an enormous time saving, efficiency, and made the trip less stressful because we knew someone would tell us what to do next. Who would expect for example that we'd be required to clear security prior to checking in for our next flight? Or that baggage would be dropped at the door we'd just entered in the airport vs. another baggage claim area. In Johannesburg, we were quickly escorted for about a 15 minute walk to the lobby of our hotel. It's a large airport and not having to figure it out after a lengthy flight from the USA made this easy and added value.
Team Charles, Sarah, and Karen listened to what we wanted on our trip, and instead of focusing just on Botswana and Victoria Falls, they recommended Zambia as well. For Victoria Falls, we were told Zimbabwe is where we wanted to be. Advice was also provided for the Visa for Zambia/Zimbabwe. Our accommodations were all excellent. We actually benefited substantially with lodging upgrades and private vehicles and guides by traveling to Africa while most are staying home due to Covid. We were comfortable at camps with staff that were vaccinated at all but one of our five camps, masking, social distancing, and sanitization. Significant effort is being made to keep the few travelers visiting safe, so tourism may return sooner vs. later. At one of our airports, the restroom stalls in either Botswana or Zambia were being cleaned after every use! With this said, we've encouraged friends to mask up and consider travel now or in the next six months if they have the opportunity.
We strongly recommend working with this Africa travel company and felt that the presence of staff both in the USA and Africa helped. For this trip, we took a chance as our decision was between doing a trip with this company and with another travel company we've booked with numerous times. We went with this company because it was based on our desired itinerary and we'd be on our own in camps vs. being with a group. My spouse was particularly concerned about this aspect with covid and all the itinerary changes we'd seen prior to the trip, but in the end, we were both extremely satisfied with the end result and format of the trip. We would gladly book another trip through this company.
Smooth logistics made travel and time spent at camps relaxing and pleasurable. We thoroughly enjoyed all five of the camps selected by our travel company. Service exceeded our expectations, food was wonderful, and camp staff surprised us with special meals in unexpected places (in the river, on boats, on our back porch, and in blinds). We loved talking to the staff and really enjoyed the walking safaris.
It is quite memorable when you are walking to elephant bones where two hyenas were spotted and they've run off to join four others near a group of warthogs. The warthogs were aggressively chasing the hyenas off. 20 minutes later we got within 15 feet of a pair of civets (typically nocturnal) before they ran off. Elephants and impalas alerting to a predator added some excitement to our walk the next day. However, one of the areas I found most interesting was one with quicksand that had suffocated a giraffe and consumed an elephant. The giraffe imprint was still present, although the animal itself had been dragged away and consumed by hyenas that managed to not get trapped in this area.
One of our goals was to get a good view of a leopard. This was accomplished on the afternoon drive of our first day. We were thrilled and didn't yet know that we'd see five leopard cubs, four leopard kills, cubs and mom feeding in the trees on a kill or on the ground, cubs playing, all climbing up and down trees, two pairs of leopards mating, a male take the kill from the female and her cub. A hyena went after one of the cubs with mom leaping out of the tree in pursuit to rescue it and so much more. We saw plenty of wildlife of every type and were thrilled with our safaris.
Our favorite camp was in the Lower Zambezi area and sadly we only had two days here due to itinerary changes. The landscape was stunning, and we thoroughly enjoyed a canoe excursion on a side channel off the main river. From the airport in Jeki, we took a boat to camp and it was beautiful. There were many hippos feeding on land and it was an especially scenic journey.
Most memorable was meeting a helicopter and nurse in the middle of our morning safari at a Botswana camp to have a nasal swab PCR test done while sitting on the side of our safari vehicle in a grasslands area. These arrangements were most unexpected. Our expectation was that we'd return to the camp lodging for this, but it wasn't the case!
Zambia was very special. Had we not worked with Charles and listened to his advice we would likely have never seen this country in our lifetime. So for his recommendations, we are most grateful.
Returning to the Lower Zambezi area is a must. I'd skip the boat ride at Victoria Falls and possibly consider a flight over the falls. During the process of flight and itinerary changes, we lost a day at Victoria Falls. This was ok with us. The 2 1/2 hours spent at the falls itself was sufficient for me. If someone wants to shop, this is the place, but you'll need more time for this.
We had a day in South Africa and visited Nelson Mandela's house and the Hector Peterson museum in the Soweto area. Sadly the Apartheid museum was closed due to Covid. We'd add time for this and possibly do some other excursions in the Johannesburg area if the situation with Covid were better.
I'm not certain I'd change anything else. It was great "as is."
Each review is written by a verified traveler who was matched by Zicasso to the reviewed agency. Traveler must have purchased and traveled.
Zicasso matches you with the world’s best travel specialists.
Get Your Trip Planned
Copyright © 2022 Zicasso, Inc. All Rights Reserved. CST 2124858-50.
Headquarters: 650 Castro St., Suite 120-447,
Mountain View, CA 94041, USA