Friday, June 16, 2017

Update on Uganda Gorilla Permit Fees

For those who have been wondering if Rwanda's recent gorilla permit price increase might be echoed in Uganda, the wait for clarification is over. Classic Africa Safaris has shared the following memo from the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) which notes that permit prices will remain the same through 2019, and that low season pricing discounts will remain in effect through the end of 2017.

UWA will take permit bookings up to two years in advance, so this is the perfect opportunity to encourage your travelers to solidify their trekking plans to take advantage of the current permit pricing. The gorilla habituation experience currently on offer remains a fantastic value as well, allowing 4 guests each day the opportunity to spend up to 4 hours with the gorillas.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Welcome to The Manta Resort

You must plan at least one night in the underwater room while at The Manta
Resort on Pemba Island

One word. Kwanini. This one beautiful word was the icing on the cake. There was already a lot to love: the internationally acclaimed Underwater Room; the Indian Ocean with hues of blues; a vast length of fragile coral reef under conservation; a multitude of activities on land and sea - including world-class diving for all abilities; privately owned and operated with staff that have come to be family; cozy thatch roof cottages, delightful meals and evening ocean breezes - we were already sold! But, Kwanini, and the way in which managing director Matthew Saus described the word, with such passion and dedication - this is how we knew The Manta Resort was the perfect fit for the Kusini Collection.

We are thrilled to welcome The Manta Resort, on Pemba Island off Tanzania, to our portfolio. Read on below for a taste of what it means to be Kwanini and a number of highlights to share with your travelers.

We can't wait to welcome you and your guests!


The Manta Resort

If you need two minutes of tropical island serenity, watch
this video!
We couldn't put it better than in Manta's own words "The Manta Resort offers something different from most tropical islands - it's not about five-star luxury. If it's serenity, close encounters with nature and a family of staff you crave, The Manta Resort is the place for you. Switch off the noisy, polluted electronic world and enter a completely different one - not as a tourist, but as a guest with simple needs: sunshine, fresh air, natural food, a comfortable bed and friendly company." OK, so we think they are being humble. This is the African Island experience you've been looking for! Watch this video and we'll think you'll agree.


With options for all travelers, the property offers three styles of villas: Seafront Villas, Superior Garden Rooms, and Standard Garden Rooms. They boast spacious, open-plan living and Pemban decor using local materials. For a tour of each, click here. A perfect spot to settle in to the rhythm of island life.

Underwater Room
For an incredibly unique experience, every guest should plan at least one night in the one-of-a-kind Underwater Room. The floating structure, Swedish engineered, provides three levels, those above the water clad in local hardwood, and each an experience in itself. Full details can be found here. Talk about fun fodder for the marketing department!


So much to see and do! Explore the remote and fascinating island of Pemba, with various tours and excursions on offer. These can all be arranged at the resort to suit each travelers' personal interests. Some of the activities include:

On Sea
Kayak Safari. Sandbank Trip. Snorkeling for Conservation. Ngalawa Sunset Cruise. Catch and Release Fishing. And of course, diving for all levels including certification!

On Land
Lighthouse Walk. Ngezi Rainforest. School Visit. Pemba Safari. Spice Farm Experience.

Did we mention the Kipepeo Spa on premise? Take note because a daily treatment is included for all guests!!!

More details on all Manta's activities can be found here or just ask us!

What is Kwanini?

VIDEO: Meet the Manta family and learn what it meansto be Kwanini
Pemba is still unexploited by tourism on a social level, but the tipping point is near and the future of the island depends heavily on the impact that tourism will have. Through the exposure of the Underwater Room project, Manta have been able to communicate the culture of responsible, sustainable tourism and what it means to this very traditional Muslim Swahili culture which they call "KWANINI" (meaning "WHY" in Swahili).

Kwanini has become who Manta is and it is the key question they ask themselves. Why are we here? Why do we do the things we do? Why will it make a difference for the island and for future generations?

In answering those questions, they have created the Kwanini Foundation with a clear vision. They aim to make a positive contribution to the future of Pemba Island by preserving the environment and the integrity of the Pemban people.

As a follow up to Manta's 2016 Innovation Award for Brand Africa, Olivia Squire from We Are Africa followed up with a great interview. Read it here: Keeping it Kwanini.

Location and Itineraries

How do you get to Manta?
Pemba Island, located off the coast of Tanzania, is accessed through most airports in East Africa via Zanzibar or Dar es Salaam. Pemba island can also be accessed with direct local flights with several charter airlines that operate smaller aircrafts. The most frequent route is Zanzibar - Pemba, and is serviced by these airlines: Zanair, Coastal Air, Auric Air. You may want to organize a night in Stone Town, Zanzibar to break up the journey.

The private transfer from ChakeChake Airport to the resort is handled by a third party, the same company for over 10 years with a fleet of cars which are predominantly 4X4 Toyota Prado's  Be prepared for a 1.5 hour ride through Pemba with the last 30 min being a bumpy ride through the Ngezi rainforest before reaching Manta on the northern most tip of the island. We will organize this service for you so that a car will be waiting for you upon arrival. Please note that this service will be added to your invoice.

Itinerary Ideas
There are so many ways in which you can incorporate the Manta Resort into your existing safaris or even offer it as a stand alone destination - as it rightfully deserves! Click here for Manta's 2017 specials and then contact us to discuss ways to include this very unique African beach destination in your East Africa safaris.

What's Next?

I know, it's a bit like finishing a great book and then you find yourself reading all the "book club" questions even though you're not in one!

So, if you don't want it to end, check out Manta's beautiful website for more inspiration.

And contact Sonya for more information! Manta has created an extensive agent site full of great information to help you sell the lodge and Pemba itself!

We'll be sure you have all the information you need at your fingertips to share this experience with your guests.

Karibu Sana!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Tropic Ecuador FAMs, Uganda's best kept secret and to self drive or not?

The view from Uganda's Clouds Lodge never fails to impress!
What's happening this week in the Kusini Collection:

Adventure through the Andes with Tropic Ecuador and Tad
on a pre-TMLA FAM
Tropic Ecuador: This year's TMLA will take place in Guayaquil, and Tropic Ecuador has crafted two special FAM trips to coincide with the conference (show attendance not required). Qualified operators can choose a 4 day pre-TMLA trip Sept 9-13: The Volcanoes Avenue (hosted by Tad - US$150pp) or a 5 day post-TMLA adventure Sept 16-20: Galapagos: Land, Sea and Underwater Adventures (hosted by Jascivan - US$500pp). This is your chance to explore Ecuador Tropic style! Tropic will welcome you to unique properties from the highlands to the islands. Get your boots dirty and your soul refreshed on one or both of these adventures! Each FAM is limited in capacity and first-come first-served, so contact us quickly if you wish to participate.

Baker's Lodge not only has a perfect setting, the food and
service are outstanding, too!
Classic Africa Safaris: What is Uganda's 'Best Kept Secret?' According to Vogue, it's some of the wonderful lodges and camps dotted throughout the country. It seems they've been discovered! From the ethereal Clouds Lodge floating above Bwindi NP to Baker's Lodge perched on the edge of the Nile River, Vogue has done an admirable job in assembling a list of some of our favorite Uganda haunts. Classic Africa Safaris has been sending their travelers to these wonderful and unique properties for years, and can work with you to determine which camps and lodges are the best fit for your travelers.

Camelthorn Lodge is open all year for great game viewing
during any season
Imvelo Safari Lodges: Hwange National Park is a special place to visit in the green season. Many herbivores 'drop' their young, migrant bird species are present, and the lush vegetation, gorgeous flowers and butterflies make for stunning photography. This green season has been nothing short of sensational for guests at Imvelo Safari Lodges, as game viewing has been off the charts (check out Imvelo's Facebook page for proof!). Visit the blog for details on which properties are open in green season. Also, remember that Imvelo is adding beds as of August 1st (including a new family suite at Bomani!), meaning more available space in peak season!

Guests on TOSEA's Volunteer Adventure Week can have fun
and make a difference!
Todos Santos Eco Adventures: Bryan and Sergio Jauregui built Todos Santos Eco Adventures with mindfulness - respecting the local communities and environments alike. So it's no wonder they've created strong relationships with local organizations that share the same values. Through these connections, your guests can have a fun and impactful getaway to Baja California Sur. Join sea turtle camp with Asupmatoma, teaching English at the Palapa Society, and support health improvement projects with SINADES. (did we mention the surfing, whale sharks, cooking class, hiking, and relaxing, too?) This six day itinerary is perfect for any traveler or group looking to have a great time and make a meaningful difference. Contact Bryan or Sonya for details!

CRST ensures smooth sailing for travelers arriving in
Costa Rica Sun Tours: The last thing you want is your guest to feel lost on arrival to a new destination. You can count on Costa Rica Sun Tours to be there awaiting them at Liberia International Airport in Guanacaste, but the question becomes: where? After clearing customs and baggage claim, head to the exit sign (they will see 'Welcome to CR' and a sloth picture), exit the building and guests will find their driver with a welcome board with their name waiting for them on the sidewalk. In the event they get lost, guests should go to the Café Britt shop and wait at the tables. An emergency number is also provided. Importantly, guests should not ride in cars or take advice from people that do not have their name. Read on for more tips about the airport.

Ultimate guide Francois 'turned on the sound' for agents
on the FAM
Ultimate Safaris: Some people traveling to Namibia are drawn to the self-drive option - often trying to save a few bucks. Birgit Bekker from Ultimate Safaris put it best in a recent conversation. "A self-drive is like watching a great movie with the sound on mute. You can appreciate the beauty, have a sense of the characters, and appreciate the action, but....having a guide is like turning the sound on, suddenly it all comes together, all of your senses are engaged." Following 10 inspiring days on the road with Ultimate Safaris guide-extraordinaire, Francois //Gowaseb, Sonya couldn't agree more!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Imvelo Green Season Updates

Hwange National Park is a special place to visit in the green season. Many herbivores will ‘drop’ their young as the grass starts to flush, while the lush vegetation and vibrant colors of flowers and butterflies makes for stunning photography. All the migrant bird species are present, doubling up on the numbers that can be seen, many in spectacular plumage like carmine bee-eaters. This year Imvelo Safari Lodges' visitors in January and February were favored with great sightings of lion and cheetah – our heroine cheetah mother Queenie has raised four cubs to near adulthood, while our celebrity wild dog Cusp has done the same with her pups.  

This coming green season, in the interests of streamlining our operations and to ensure we give our traveling guests the best experience we will only keep Camelthorn Lodge open for the whole season, except for existing group departures already booked at Bomani. Camelthorn Lodge is located near Bomani on the border of the Park in a leafy forest which thrives on our deep and well drained Kalahari sands. The lodge is alongside the famed Ngamo plains, which makes for excellent year-round game viewing. The luxury villa setup of the camp also means the camp is better suited to the green season.

Please take note of these important dates for Imvelo camp closures in the 2017/2018 green season:

Nehimba Lodge
(Located in the center of Hwange National Park)
Closed from December 7, 2017 - February 21, 2018.

Bomani Tented Lodge
(Located on the south-east border of Hwange National Park, on the Ngamo Plains)
Closed from January 5 - February 28, 2018.

Costa Rica turtle nesting tours, new Zambezi River adventure and we need your input

Africa's night sky sparkles over a once-in-a-lifetime journey down the Zambezi

What's happening this week in the Kusini Collection:

The only requirement at Hatchet Caye is to slow down and
enjoy the sunset
Maya Trails: Clients looking for a toes-in-the-sand retreat not too far from home? Hatchet Caye Resort in Belize could fit the bill. Just a one hour boat ride from Placencia, the private island resort offers paddle boats, SUP's, snorkeling (including at night!), kayaking and more. Or, to completely chill out, there's a pool, spa, and of course, the sand that we mentioned nestling one's toes into. Maya Trails suggests combining with jungle adventures based from Chaa Creek or Caves Branch in the Cayo, or enjoy more beach time and the laidback vibe in Placencia at Naïa Resort. Don't forget there are seasonal opportunities to dive with whale sharks!

Witnessing a turtle hatching is a magical experience!
Costa Rica Sun Tours: Being at the right place at the right time is important, but being there with an experienced guide is even more so, especially on a guided nighttime turtle nesting tour in Tortuguero NP (the most important nesting site of the endangered green turtle in the Western Hemisphere). Privileged travelers observing either end of the process - egg laying or hatching of baby turtles - are sure to have an unforgettable experience. 3 sea turtle species nest in Tortuguero: Leatherback, Hawksbill and Green. Costa Rica Sun Tours are offering your clients traveling in Costa Rica from Jul - Oct a free Turtle Nesting Tour in Tortuguero. Contact us for details!

Lunch can be rustled up just off the boat in the most scenic
locations along the Zambezi
New Frontiers: The Zambezi River is the stuff of legend. From the mighty Victoria Falls to the Kariba Dam Wall, through its rapids and deceptively placid pools, it has enchanted and challenged explorers for centuries. Now, adventurous travelers can follow in the early explorer's footsteps on a once-in-a-lifetime 5 night river safari that traverses the entire length of the lower Zambezi River from Lake Kariba through the Lower Zambezi/Mana Pools and the stunning Maputa Gorge. For a shorter cruise, New Frontiers recommends three nights on the boat book-ended by two nights at Changa Safari Camp in Kariba and two nights John's Camp in Mana Pools. Visit the Agent Zone for all the details on this epic journey!

No creature comfort is overlooked at Camp Cecil - now with
solar fans!
Todos Santos Eco Adventures: Summer is one of the best times to visit Baja California Sur, where visibility in the Sea of Cortez can reach up to 100 feet, making it a fabulous place to SCUBA and snorkel. Todos Santos Eco Adventures' Camp Cecil now has solar-powered fans in each of the tents so guests can enjoy these sports and then retreat the cool comfort of the safari-style camp on Isla Espiritu Santo. Add that to the already beautiful furnishings and thoughtful appointments in each tent, the soft sand right outside the door leading to crystal clear waters and no end of things to do, and you have the recipe for the perfect island getaway!

Visitors to the Espiritu de Red exhibit can discover the legacy
of early explorers
Tropic Ecuador: The Tropic Ecuador team recently visited the Espíritu de Red exhibit at Quito's Metropolitan Cultural Center. It celebrates the early explorers' quest for knowledge. Visitors can learn where scientists and explorers made strides in their understanding of the history, nature and peoples of Ecuador, as well as where they missed the mark. Tropic was so impressed with the exhibit they updated confirmed bookings for visits between now and June 29th to add a stop as part of their city tour. They can also set up a behind-the-scenes visit for your VIP clients (based on availability).
An Ultimate Safaris FAM #desertadaptedagent in a Himba

Ultimate Safaris: Namibia never ceases to surprise its visitors - every fifteen minutes the scenery changes, whether turning a corner or through movement of light on the desert hues. Settling in to the natural rhythms of the country doesn't take long, and when you do, magic happens. Sonya is just back from Ultimate Safaris' US agents FAM with lots of stories to tell. From the fun and discovery had throughout the country with a great group of #desertadapted agents, to sneak previews of unique new offerings in the works at //Huab, Sonya will share it all in her upcoming trip report - so stay tuned!
Axel Janssen's mobile dining experience will really wow
your foodie clients in Tanzania

Albatros Travel: 
For a very special culinary experience in the bush, look no further! Axel Janssen perfected his culinary art in Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe. Taking cues from local influences, he has created his own epicurean style: a fusion of exquisite European and African delights based on seasonal specialties. Axel has designed a trailer which comes fully equipped to cater for up to 14 guests. A set up fee of US$530 covers areas close to Arusha (Arusha National Park, Manyara or Tarangire) and menu choices start at US$30 pp. Contact Albatros Travel to book this unique and delectable dining experience! Also - the new Tanzania levy is still in flux. Click here for the latest update from Albatros.
Imvelo's School Feeding Program has provided over 400,000
meals to children in the local communities around Hwange

Imvelo Safari Lodges: 
As a result of one of the worst droughts in Zimbabwe's history, Imvelo Safari Lodges launched a life-saving school feeding program providing each child with a cooked meal every school day in third term (the peak of the dry season). The program started at Ngamo School in 2015 and was expanded to 11 schools in Tsolotsho and Hwange Districts in 2016. Thanks to the generosity of past guests, Imvelo raised the funds to feed 2,658 children every school day during the historic 2015-2016 drought. In total, this massive program provided 415,310 meals during three school terms. Learn more about this fantastic community program here.

EXCITING NEWS! We're working on a new website and we'd love your feedback! We've prepared a short survey for you here. Your responses will be greatly helpful in informing and directing our new site to better meet your needs. Thank you for your help!

Tanzania Levy Update

With recent news regarding new concession fees being implemented in the Tanzania National Parks, Albatros Travel wanted to update agents and operators with the latest information. Governmental Ministers are to meet in the next 10 days to discuss the issue, though no one can predict the outcome. Once the definitive word on the matter has been established, Albatros will pass it on immediately.

Until then, Albatros pulled together a basic summary of what is being said on the ground, should the concession fee increase be implemented on July 1, 2017.

What properties will be affected?

These concession fees are only applicable to permanent properties situated within the boundaries of a national park. The main parks that would be affected are be Serengeti, Tarangire and Ruaha.

What are the cost implications?

These vary considerably between the various properties. Increases will vary from US15 to US30 per person per night.

How does this affect existing bookings?

We can only take the lead on what the properties decide to do. At the moment it would seem that most properties are proceeding on the following lines:

  • Any confirmed bookings for 2017 will have their current rates honored, as long as payment has been made by the beginning of June.
  • For any provisional bookings, a deposit will need to be paid by the beginning of June to keep the current rates.
  • For any new bookings, the increase in the concession fee will be implemented.

Please note that each property will have a different policy. This is more of a guideline.

Albatros will update us with additional news as it becomes available.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Imvelo Safari Lodges' Hwange School Feeding Project - Update

Western Zimbabwe, known as Matabeleland, is an area of unreliable rainfall. But life – human and animal – is dependent on this resource.  Rains between November 2014 and March 2015 were poor, but the 2015-16 season broke all records for dryness in some areas.  No rain meant no crops for people or fodder for animals.

As a result of what ended up being one of the worst droughts in Zimbabwe's history, Imvelo Safari Lodges launched a life-saving school feeding program providing each child with a cooked meal every school day in third term (the peak of the dry season). The program started at Ngamo School in 2015 and was expanded to 11 schools in Tsolotsho and Hwange Districts in 2016. Thanks to the generosity of past guests, Imvelo raised the funds to feed 2,658 children every school day during the historic 2015-2016 drought. In total, this massive program provided 415,310 meals during three school terms.

While every donated cent was used to purchase foodstuffs, Imvelo provided all the logistics including sourcing, storing and distributing tons of food.  The numbers are staggering; in total Imvelo moved 35,880 kg of roller meal, 2,275 kg of sugar beans, 1,298 litres of cooking oil and 6,405 kg of Mahewu during the three terms. Going forward in 2017, as crops are harvested and locally grown food available, the health and education of the communities where Imvelo operates will continue to be prioritized and Imvelo will continue to live out its mission to ‘connect people and nature.’