Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Camp Cecil in the news, train travel in Ecuador and Google Guatemala

Here's looking at you! Watchful siblings in the Musiara Marsh area of the
Masai Mara. Photo: Tad Bradley
What's happening this week in the Kusini Collection:

"This tent was more like a fantasy about beach camping you
never even knew you had." - Kim Brown Seely
Todos Santos Eco Adventures: Camp Cecil is a media darling! Todos Santos Eco Adventures' luxury beachside camp has made recent appearances in both Everett Potter and National Geographic. Reporters were smitten with the opportunity to swim with sea lions and whale sharks, loved the fresh and delicious food, and marveled at the need to pack nothing much more than a bathing suit and sandals. They found the stargazing dazzling, and relished the chance to truly unplug from everything (no Internet!) for a few days. If this sounds like the perfect retreat for your clients (or for you!), email Bryan for availability!

There are lots of ways to wow the kids on safari in Kenya
Albatros Travel: Albatros Travel GM Julian Camm enjoys his job, especially when it involves seeking out ideas for family travel! He took his kids to test drive some experiences in Kenya recently, and got their stamp of approval on a number of things. Kissing giraffes at the Giraffe Centre and visiting baby elephants at the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage are guaranteed winners for young and old alike. Getting up close and personal with rhinos is another activity that will inspire awe in the kids. To expend pent-up energy, take the family to Africa's longest zip-line. Learn about these activities and more on the Kusini blog!

Travelers must carry their yellow fever certificate when
visiting Uganda
Classic Africa Safaris: In the department of 'not exciting but definitely important,' Classic Africa Safaris reports that Uganda has adopted the July 2016 WHO policy of lifetime validity for yellow fever vaccines. Those with expired certificates (more than 10 years old) will have them replaced on arrival at for a fee of USD$11. Those without a certificate will be given a shot on arrival for a fee of USD$40 (how's that for incentive to get it done before you go?). Guests who cannot have the shot because of age or health-related issues must present a doctor's letter upon entry. Also important: Uganda immigration has updated the online visa application system, requiring guests to pay for their visa online rather than upon arrival. Contact Hilda with questions.

Exclusive Zimbabwe - Hwange has a fraction of the visitors
of parks like Serengeti
Imvelo Safari Lodges: We can't imagine having to convince someone to visit somewhere as wonderful as Zimbabwe, but if you need a boost to close, have a gander at Imvelo Safari Lodges' 'Top 5 Reasons to go on safari in Zimbabwe.' Exclusivity and diversity of activities top the list, but dig deeper for more compelling reasons. You can find this and other helpful documents like detailed information sheets for each of Imvelo's lodges here. Maps, lodge layouts, drive times, room configurations, activity lists and more are all at your fingertips.

4 night programs are available from either Quito or
Tropic Ecuador: Guests traveling with Tropic Ecuador can experience the country's wonders aboard award-winning Tren Crucero. Lovingly restored and modernized antique steam locomotives pull two luxury cars carrying just fifty passengers, to ensure exclusivity and personalized service. Passengers discover the hidden secrets of Ecuador with a carefully selected collection of experiences including rainforest hikes, visits to artisans' workshops, meeting the last "ice-harvester" of Chimborazo, visits with indigenous communities to learn about Andean traditions and more. Contact Andrea for more information.

The puma's range extends from the Yukon to the southern
Andes. Photo: Alex Arias
Costa Rica Sun Tours: Costa Rica's Corcovado National Park is one of the most amazing destinations the country has to offer. Its been penned "the most biologically intense place on Earth in terms of biodiversity" by National Geographic. Visitors can expect to see an abundance of wildlife in the off-the-beaten-path park. Recently, two groups of travelers visiting the park with Costa Rica Sun Tours had the opportunity to enjoy the exceptional experience of seeing a puma in its natural habitat! Read more about Corcovado and the puma sighting on the Kusini blog.

Google Street View is good, but seeing the real thing is better!
Maya Trails: "It was the perfect adventure. Fabulous hotels, amazing guides- culture, jungle and a little action. We loved the tour of villages on Atitlan- Dolores was an AMAZING guide - she even took us to Maximon's house. We totally hit the jackpot with her..." Another glowing review from a happy visitor to Guatemala with Maya Trails. Now your clients can take a virtual tour of the country and its tourism highlights on Google Street View. More than 40,000 stunning images make up the 360 degree views of Guatemala's most beautiful spots.

Happy agents posing for a photo after a successful morning
of rhino tracking
Ultimate Safaris: We've been receiving sporadic reports of awesomeness from Sonya, who has been enjoying her time on the Ultimate Safaris US agents FAM. The lucky travelers have tracked rhino on foot, visited spectacular desert landscapes near Sossusvlei, felt the magic of true wilderness at //Huab Under Canvas and slept under the starriest of skies on the Tok Tokkie Trails in the NambRand Nature Reserve. These #desertadaptedagents seem to be having the time of their lives! We can't wait for a little armchair travel with Sonya via her trip report when she returns!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Costa Rica's Corcovado National Park

Located on the Osa Peninsula, in the south Pacific of Costa Rica the Corcovado National Park is one of the most amazing places Costa Rica has to offer. Its 429 square kilometers of protected forest are part of the Osa Conservation Area. National Geographic has called it "the most biologically intense place on Earth in terms of biodiversity." Not only is the park very popular with tropical ecologists, a visitor can expect to see an abundance of wildlife. It is not easy to get to Corcovado, which is one of the reasons why it remains "off the beaten path".

Impressive fauna encounters in Corcovado

Also known as cougar, panther or mountain lion, pumas are solitary cats and have the largest ranges of all wild terrestrial mammals in the Western Hemisphere. Their range extends from Canada's Yukon to the southern Andes in South America. Pumas are classed as ‘Near Threatened’ by the IUCN. The total breeding population of pumas is less than 50,000 individuals and continues to decline.

Costa Rica is home to six different kinds of wild cats. Although thousands of visitors take to the country’s hiking trails each day, the chances of spotting one of these elusive, nocturnal felines is slim to none. Pumas can be seen in Corcovado National Park, Santa Rosa Park, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve; and Cerro de la Muerte.

Last month two groups of travelers visiting the park with Costa Rica Sun Tours (CRST) had the opportunity, on different dates, to enjoy the uncommon but wonderful experience of seeing a puma in its natural habitat. Alex Arias, one of CRST's experienced guides, spotted the pumas and guests were able to take pictures and admire the greatness of this cat.

Options Costa Rica Sun Tours offer to include Corcovado are:

  • Day trip to San Pedrillo Station from Drake Bay Lodges.
  • Day trip to Sirena Ranger Station from Drake Bay Lodges.
  • Charter flights in/out of the airstrip at Sirena for either a day trip or an overnight trip.
  • Day hike from Los Patos to the Sirena Ranger Station with overnight stay.
  • Day hike from Carate/Madrigal to the Sirena Ranger Station with overnight stay
  • Any of these options can be customized for your clients. Accomodations and meal service at the Sirena Station have recently been upgraded however it is still dormitory style.

Enjoy these impressive pictures and contact Costa Rica Sun Tours for more information about trips into Corcovado.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Rwanda and Uganda tour operators respond to sudden increase in Rwanda gorilla permit fees

Statement by Rwanda Tours & Travel Association (RTTA) on the Price Increase for Gorilla Permits

7 May 2017

Click to read RTTA's press release
As close partners of RDB, the private sector has always been keen to work closely with RDB to ensure a sustainable growth of our tourism industry.

Regarding the decision to increase permits, RTTA understands the need to ensure tourism  does not negatively affect the gorillas and we support any efforts to protect our endangered species and their habitat and in particular, the revenue sharing scheme increment from 5% to 10%. We acknowledge the invaluable contribution communities make in protecting the gorillas and other national parks, including Nyungwe, Akagera and Volcanoes.

However, we believe an immediate doubling of gorilla permits will be taken negatively by the markets, will affect our businesses and the whole tourism value chain (hotels, restaurants, crafts, transportation, community based tourism initiatives etc) and we risk losing substantial revenue for the industry and government as a whole. Currently, a number of gorilla permits are already not sold in low season and with the sudden hike in prices we need to ensure  permit sales do not decline further.

Introducing this increase of gorilla permits from USD $750 to $ 1500 for all including Rwandans and EAC residents in the middle of the year, without formal and proper private sector consultations makes it harder for us and international suppliers to manage this sudden and abrupt change. International travel agents publish prices a year in advance  and  this sudden change will not be well received and we are afraid and worried of its impacts on our relationships, professionalism and reputation with the international markets, suppliers and clients.

As partners and stakeholders who directly deal with international and regional markets, suppliers and clients, and in the spirit of our public-private partnership, it would have been better to be consulted and involved in this decision making. We however remain optimistic that together we can work out a smooth transition and a better grace period which will ensure that everyone is well informed and prepared for this new pricing decision.




Click to read Association of Uganda
Tour Operator's statement
In a press release by The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) through their website dated 6th May 2017, we learned of Rwanda’s decision to double the price of the gorilla tracking permit from US$750 to US$1500 for all visitors with immediate effect. The decision by our neighbors to insurmountably increase the price of their gorilla permit by 100% is based on farfetched research, backed by facts and steered by their country’s tourism strategy.

As Uganda Tour Operators and particularly AUTO, we would like to urge the Government of Uganda through the Uganda WILDLIFE Authority (UWA), the body mandated with conserving and promoting Uganda’s wildlife that Uganda should not blindly follow suit by imposing a sudden raise in the current price of the gorilla permit from the current US$600. As Uganda, we need not to be discriminatory in  our pricing but rather systematic and consult with the stakeholders who have greatly marketed UGANDA since Gorilla tourism started.

The immediate change by RDB however does not accord tour operators in the East African region enough time to adapt to the tariffs neither does it allow them to communicate the changes to their clients. The decision to increase the price is discriminatory and presents a challenge for tour operators  to honor contracts made with clients based on the previous rate. Price changes are often communicated with enough time in advance with respect to the laws of the market.

While it is undeniable that gorilla tracking is a very special activity and the permit fee is largely a ‘conservation supporting fee’ rather than purely a business fee; we believe that it shouldn’t be confined only to the high-end travelers, rather it should be made accessible to every conservation conscious citizen of the world at reasonable rates and in a well-managed manner as has been done before. As Uganda, we must continue to welcome and encourage tourists from around the world to book safaris to Uganda while championing conservation and maintaining the carrying capacities of all our National Parks, conserving our wildlife and sharing the gains from tourism with the local communities along the value chain. We have to safeguard our image as an ecotourism and friendly destination in all aspects.

With more than half of the total world’s population of Mountain Gorillas, we believe that Uganda remains the single best country in the world to enjoy a gorilla safari and we must harness all efforts to attract visitors to Uganda.

The Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) takes this opportunity to welcome ALL tourists wishing to enjoy Gorilla tourism among other activities to visit Uganda the Pearl of Africa.


Five cheetahs in a tree, Rwanda gorilla permit increase and Ethiopia FAM

One, two, three, four, FIVE cheetahs in a tree near Bomani! Photo by Mark
Butcher, Imvelo Safari Lodges

 What's happening this week in the Kusini Collection:

If you're headed to INDABA next week, get in touch with Tad and Sonya and please join them and the Kusini Africa crew for craft brews and more at the ATTA Adventure Connect event!

The permit fee increase is meant to strengthen conservation
efforts and contribute to community development
Classic Africa Safaris: The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) announced that the price of gorilla permits has doubled from $750 to $1500 per trek effective immediately. Classic Africa Safaris confirmed the increase will not affect those who have paid for their permits in full prior to the announcement, however they are waiting for written confirmation of how this impacts permits where only deposits have been paid. A 30% discount on permits was also announced for travelers who visit either Akagera or Nyungwe for at least three days. Visitors to Akagera will now be able to see Africa's big 5 with the completion of a new rhino reintroduction project.

Safarihoek Lodge's 11 rooms have A/C, eco-friendly amenities
and private balconies with great views!
Ultimate Safaris: Ultimate Safaris takes pride in being at the forefront of exploring new safari possibilities in Namibia. With that in mind, they have discovered a new gem - Etosha Heights' Safarihoek Lodge. Ultimate co-founder Tristan Cowley recently inspected the new property, and found fantastic game (7 black rhino on his first game drive, huge eland herds, lion, elephant, giraffe, cheetah and even sable!), great service and food, and a conservation and research focus. The lodge will replace Andersson's Camp for 2018 Ultimate Namibia departures after it closes at the end of 2017.

The FAM includes trekking Ethiopia's Simien Mountains
to view gelada baboons
Travel Ethiopia: Discover the richness of Ethiopia's culture, history and wildlife on Travel Ethiopia's FAM, Sept 25 - Oct 3! It's a chance to see the country's ancient palaces and holy sites where history is still alive and thriving. The endemic wildlife, including gelada baboons and the endangered Ethiopian wolf, is a huge draw, and spellbinding landscapes are the backdrop for every stop. The FAM will witness the 1,600-year-old Meskel celebration in Addis, then visit Lake Tana, Gondar, the Simien Mountains, Axum and Gheralta, with an optional extension to the mystical Bale Mountains (Oct 4 - 8). Space is limited - contact Tad for more information.

VIDEO: Imvelo guests were treated to female cheetah
HNP013 giving climbing lessons
Imvelo Safari Lodges: National Geographic would be jealous! Imvelo Safari Lodges guests had an epic game drive last week when they came across supermom cheetah 'Queenie' and her four nearly one-year-old offspring during a tree climbing lesson. In what just might be a Southern Africa record, all five cheetahs made their way up into a tree and posed for photos and video, much to everyone's delight. Cat sightings for Imvelo guests have been abundant to say the least, including lions delaying the Elephant Express!

Learn more about Arijiju House and its 'air of monastic calm'
on the Kusini blog
Albatros Travel: Great new product has come online in Kenya! From a fabulous new boutique property in Nairobi's Langata suburb, to a gorgeous exclusive use house on the private Borana conservancy, options abound. Albatros Travel has put together a roundup of what's new in Kenya, including details of new property openings, the lifting of the Lamu travel ban and family travel inspiration from Albatros GM Julian Camm. He took some play time with his own kids so he could put together a list of ideas for family safari fun. Get all of the details on the Kusini blog.

By the end of the dry season, guests at Zambia's remote
Luambe Camp can enjoy the sight of up to 800 hippo!
New Frontiers: In the thick of Africa trade show time, 'tis the season for a flood of exciting information about product enhancements, new camps, upgrades and more. Check out New Frontiers' regional update on the Agent Zone, which covers all of the aforementioned, along with great itinerary ideas, packages and news. One highlight that has us ready to head way-off-the-beaten-track in Zambia is Luambe Camp. Nestled between South and North Luangwa national parks, Luambe NP is a hidden gem offering visitors an entirely different wildlife experience, stark beauty, solitude and raw wilderness. It's perfect for the safariophile who has done everything!

Polo and Jacquie will give your travelers the inside scoop
on their respective islands
Tropic Ecuador: One of the best ways to get to know the Galapagos is on an island-hopping journey. Tropic Ecuador has a variety of offerings throughout the Islands, including their new 'The Mountain and the Sea' itinerary. The trip visits Santa Cruz and San Cristobal islands, and stays at intimate lodges where guests will have the chance to get to know their hosts Polo and Jacquie - true Galapageno characters. There are lots of active pursuits including hiking and water sports, as well as leisure time to soak up the Islands' beauty. Email Andrea with questions.

Guests attending the GastroVino festival in Todos Santos will
revel in the flavors of the region
Todos Santos Eco Adventures: Todos Santos Eco Adventures is one of the main sponsors of the Todos Santos GastroVino Festival, which took place from May 5-7 this year. It features several of the great wineries from Baja's wine growing region - Valle de Guadalupe - along with several of the amazing Todos Santos restaurants. Todos Santos is becoming famous for its festivals, including the Todos Santos Music Festival, the Todos Santos Film Festival and the Todos Santos Art Festival, most of which are sponsored by TOSEA. Contact Bryan for festival details and dates.

Imvelo Safari Lodges Zimbabwe FAM - last chance!

Africa agents enjoy sundowners at the Nehimba seeps
Last call for the Imvelo Safari Lodges' Zimbabwe FAM June 6-11! This is your chance to experience what makes Zimbabwe such a special safari destination while learning more about the incredible impact of Imvelo's lodges on the communities they support. Witness Hwange's massive ele herds from the Look-Up blind, walk to school with the kids from the local village and spot game from the one-of-a-kind Elephant Express trolley! Discover what's behind the buzz about Imvelo! We only have two spaces remaining so contact Tad ASAP if interested! See the full itinerary below.

Summary: 6 - 11 June 2017  
6 - 7 - Little Gorges Lodge
7 - 8 - Nehimba Lodge
8 - 10 - Camelthorn Lodge
10 - 11 - Zambezi Sands River Camp

DAY 1 
Sunrise over the Zambezi and Batoka Gorge from Gorges Lodge
Arrive at Victoria Falls Airport you will be met by an Imvelo Safari Lodges representative to be transferred to Little Gorges Lodge (30 mins).

Gorges and Little Gorges have arguably the most spectacular views in Southern Africa and offer a unique Victoria Falls experience from a peaceful and idyllic base on the edge of the Batoka Gorge.

Enjoy black eagle viewing on the edge of the gorge with sundowners and canapés followed by a fantastic traditional dancing performance by our local dancing troop.

Dinner is a delicious 3 course Zimbabwean 'braai' in the garden overlooking the gorge & overnight

Highlights: black eagle viewing (weather permitting), traditional dancing display, traditional Zimbabwean braai (weather permitting)

Overnight at Little Gorges Lodge.

DAY 2 
Elephants at Nehimba Lodge
Enjoy early morning tea or coffee on your private balcony overlooking the river followed by a sumptuous breakfast in the main lodge on the edge of the Batoka Gorge.

Road transfer into Victoria Falls town for a tour of the rainforest and Victoria Falls - one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world. Depart the Falls around 10:30am for a ]road transfer to Mbala Gate (2hrs) and game drive to Nehimba Lodge in Northern Hwange National Park (2-3hrs).

Later in the afternoon, head out on a game drive within the park, ending with cool refreshments and canapés at sunset at the famed Nehimba seep. The seep is an ancient source of water once used by the San Bushmen historically as well as being a place where elephant still dig for water and minerals. The sunset photography opportunities with elephants is second to none in this unique and peaceful spot.

Back at camp our guests can enjoy a relaxing bath or shower to freshen up before a three course dinner in the main lodge area followed by reliving the days' safari around the campfire as the elephants sip and slurp at the lodge waterhole and pool, just steps from the Nehimba deck.

Highlights: tour of Victoria Falls, game drives and game walks inside Nehimba's private concession.

Overnight at Nehimba Lodge.

DAY 3 
Traffic delay on The Elephant Express!
Early morning Game drive and walk exploring the area around Nehimba Lodge. After breakfast, game drive to Dete Railway Station (2 - 2.5 hrs) and then board the one-of-its-kind Elephant Express for the rail transfer to Camelthorn Lodge (2.5 hrs). This flagship lodge is nestled in a patch of pristine woodland just west of Ngamo on the edge of the south eastern corner of Hwange National Park

Highlights: Game drives and walks, Elephant Express, Look Up Blind

Overnight at Camelthorn Lodge.

DAY 4 
Toe level photography from the Look-Up blind near Camelthorn
Early morning wake up with coffee or tea and juice on the private deck of your forest villa. This will be followed by a sumptuous continental or cooked breakfast in the main lodge dining room before heading to the nearby Ngamo Village for a local village and school visit and a tour of Imvelo's community projects, followed by a game drive along the magnificent Ngamo Plains.

In the afternoon, guests will be guided on foot inside the park by one of Imvelo's fully licensed and experienced guides where they can experience the majesty of Hwange's giants (the elephants) from a unique perspective on the ground. Finish up at our unique 'look up' blind in front of Stoffie's Pan inside the park for snacks and sundowners and rare moments with nature.

Night drive to Camelthorn Lodge for your 3 course dinner under the magnificent camelthorn tree after which the lodge is named.

Highlights: game drives, game walks, school visit, village visit and dinner under the stars 

Overnight at Camelthorn Lodge.

DAY 5 
Canoeing the Zambezi from Zambezi Sands River Camp
Early morning game activity (walk or drive) and then a site inspection and breakfast at Bomani Tented Lodge. In the late morning, board the Elephant Express for a lunchtime ride to Dete Railway Station (2.5 hours) followed by a road transfer to Zambezi Sands River Camp (approx 2 - 2.5 hrs). This luxurious tented camp is situated within the western area of the Zambezi National Park on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River, upstream of the Victoria Falls.

After afternoon tea at the lodge, we'll head out in Imvelo canoes, exploring the beautiful Siansimba islands nestled between the riverbank on its main channel, keeping a look out for the variety of game in the river and on the banks. This includes hippo, crocks, elephants, buffalo and even occasionally lion and giraffe. We finish with sundowners on the banks of the Zambezi toasting our Zimbabwe adventures of the last week (note: canoeing may be done on the morning of day 6 depending on how the group feels).

Return to Zambezi Sands for alfresco bush showers, congregating afterwards around the campfire with a 3 course dinner to follow in the elegant main lodge area.

Highlights: Game drives, game walks, river cruise, dining under the stars

Overnight at Zambezi Sands River Camp.

DAY 6 
Morning canoeing or game drive/walk finishing up with a bush brunch on the banks of the river.
Road transfer to VFA for departing flight (approx 1 hr)


$600 per person (includes all meals, soft drinks, national parks fees, in-house activities and transfers)
Guests will be in sharing accommodation

Guests must make their own individual flight arrangements to and from Victoria Falls Airport. Imvelo Safari Lodges will collect guests upon arrival at VFA. Visas are for your own account

Zimbabwe is a malaria area and we therefore recommend you start a malaria prophylactic before you visit. You will have mosquito nets or mosquito proof tents to sleep in but be sure to bring personal repellent and longs, as these are effective in protecting you from bites when outdoors.
At present, Zimbabwe requires no injections or vaccinations before entering the country. However you should consult your local health authorities prior to your holiday for any updates

The water we provide is either from a local borehole or water that is boiled and chemically treated. There is also bottled water available if you prefer.

Passports are required by all foreign visitors and must be valid for 6 months after the intended length of stay.  Please ensure that there are two blank pages per country to be visited.

It is imperative to check visa requirements with your resident country embassy/consulate as visa requirements may vary according to your nationality.

Departure tax is usually included in the price of your air ticket, but double check.  If it is not included in your ticket you will have to pay US$ 20 per person in cash when you leave.

As you will be travelling in vehicles with limited luggage capacity, luggage is requested to be packed in a soft bag

As a general guide, comfortable, casual wash and wear clothes are recommended. Please note that muted colours are recommended for game-viewing.

Khaki, green, beige and neutral colours
Shirts with long sleeves (even in summer, as protection from the sun and mosquitoes)
T shirts
Shorts or a light skirt
Jeans or safari trousers for evenings and cooler days
A jacket and sweater are recommended for early morning and evening game drives
Lightweight water-proof jacket
Comfortable walking shoes
Sun block, sunglasses, hat, insect repellent, moisturizer and lip-salve are all essentials
Binoculars and camera equipment

Camouflage-patterned clothing is not permitted in Zimbabwe.  This applies to any clothing that can be construed as mimicking military-wear.  Travellers are urged not to wear, or even carry, any military-inspired clothing while travelling in Zimbabwe.

Although located in the tropics, temperate conditions prevail all year, as the climate is moderated by altitude and the inland position of the country. The hot and dry season is from August to October, and the rainy season from November to March

Average temperature in Victoria Falls and Hwange in June is max 23.5 degrees and min 6.1 degrees. Average daily rainfall is 0.05 mm

Zimbabwe     220/240 Volts AC, 50hz

The voltage in Zimbabwe is 220 volt so you need to bring all converters and adaptors with you to charge any electronic equipment. Gorges Lodge has electricity and a backup generator. Camelthorn, Nehimba and Zambezi Sands are run off generators in the mornings and evenings.
Camelthorn has three-pin round plugs, Nehimba has three-pin round plugs and three-pin square plugs and Gorges has three-pin square plugs and three-pin round plugs. Zambezi Sands has universal plug points. Whilst we try to cater for everyone, it’s best to bring an extra adaptor just in case.

There is free Wi-Fi in the main lodge areas at all lodges.
There is full Econet Wireless cell phone signal at Gorges and Camelthorn. There is no cell phone signal at Zambezi Sands and Nehimba.

We recommend that cash in US Dollars is used
Hotels, transportation, activities and curio shops will charge sales tax, regardless of what currency is used.
No traveller’s cheques are accepted.
There are no credit card facilities at any of our lodges

Tipping is purely discretionary, however if you would like to show your appreciation to our staff we recommend $10 - $20 per guest per day, paid in the communal tip box at reception.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

What's New in Kenya

The Lazizi Premier is Nairobi's first true airport hotel
Albatros Travel has provided a roundup of new properties opening in Nairobi, as well as some ideas for family fun in Kenya

1. OneFortyEight: Located in the peaceful suburb of Langata and bordering the Giraffe Sanctuary, this new and beautiful little gem with just 8 rooms will provide safari travelers with the perfect location to rest and relax in tranquil surroundings. Albatros staff from the Nairobi office went for a visit and were all impressed with the property. For rates and feedback please contact Albatros.

2. The Lazizi Premiere: Nairobi’s first true airport hotel. Located 3 minutes away from the terminals where guests won’t have to worry about traffic when catching a flight or when arriving. Albatros staff went for an inspection, and while there were still some final touches being made, it really has all the amenities one would expect from a city hotel, with nice large rooms and just a stone's throw away from the terminal.

3. Lamu: Travel restrictions have been lifted by the UK government, opening up the historic town to the clients once again. Lamu Old Town is the oldest and best preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa and UNESCO World Heritage site that still retains its traditional functions. Lamu’s narrow streets remain unchanged, and in the markets and squares around the fort life moves at the same pace as it always has. There are no vehicles on the island, and the donkey and the dhow remain the dominant form of transport. For travelers, Lamu is a hypnotically exotic experience made even more enjoyable by the relaxed and welcoming attitudes of the locals. To visit Lamu is to enter another world where life slows down and days are spent strolling along the waterfront, exploring the town or relaxing on the beaches. Albatros can help with ideas on where to stay, as there are a number of great properties with fantastic offers.

4. Arijiju House on Borana’s Conservancy: This newly opened property is one of Kenya’s most enchanting. The owners describe the 5 bedroom house as having an “air of monastic calm." Muted colors, vaulted doorways and stone corridors inspired by Ethiopian monasteries greatly add to that impression. This luxury property has its own 66-foot infinity pool, Turkish hammam and clay tennis courts. The rate is USD$7,500 on exclusive basis for 6 guests and USD$600 per additional adult, which includes everything at the property, game drives and activities.

5. Family Fun: Albatros East Africa GM Julian Camm has children and has spent quite a bit of time looking at things to do with them. Naturally, Kenya has much to offer. Some fun ideas he has come up with include:

  • Rhinos everywhere: There are some fantastic places to visit where you can get up close and personal with rhinos - always an awe inspiring sight for any child. Nairobi, Solio, Ol Pejeta, Borana, Lewa and Nakuru to name a few...

  • Daphne Sheldricks: Is the Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi or head to Ithumba and see them being re-introduced into the wild. Ithumba is located in Tsavo East and is an incredible experience.

  • The Giraffe Center: If you have time in Nairobi - who doesn’t want to come face to face with a giraffe and get a kiss!?

  • Zip lining in the Forest: Head to the Forest an hour out of Nairobi for an exhilarating experience on East Africa’s longest zip-line. The newly opened center offers 6 lines that will send you hurtling at 60kmh through Kermit Forest. There are other activities to be done such as paint balling, mountain biking, fishing and archery.

  • Trout Tree Restaurant: Located is on the way to Nanyuki, it's a great stop if you have kids and you are heading onto Samburu or one of the conservancies. The restaurant is a tree house that is home to a number of colobus monkeys who can be a little cheeky. Kids will also have the chance to wander around the trout farm and see the trout breeding process. Naturally trout is on the menu, but for non fish lovers,pizza and burgers are also available.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Innovative new Tanzania products, 2018 dates/rates for Ultimate Namibia and Maximon's new home

Costa Rica Sun Tours guide Alex Arias' special approach to wildlife viewing
pays off in spades!

What's happening this week in the Kusini Collection:

'Bush Rovers' - unique accommodations off the beaten
path in Tanzania
Albatros Travel: We often hear from agents looking for new, innovative and unique travel products. Albatros Travel delivers all of the above in their latest update from Tanzania. We love the Bush Rover, a safari vehicle transformed into your own private retreat complete with hot bath, and our appetites have been whetted with the introduction of private, mobile dining from a chef trained in Michelin-starred restaurants. In addition to the aforementioned luxuries, you can learn about yoga in the bush (even the guides are doing it!), the Manyara Tree Top Walkway and Albatros' community projects on the Kusini blog.

Some of the irresistible treats found in Republica del Cacao's
'Chocolate Lab'
Tropic Ecuador: In seeking out more delicious opportunities for travelers, Tropic Ecuador has partnered with Republica del Cacao to enhance their 'May I Introduce You' programs of exclusive experiences. Tropic's Quito city tours will now visit the Republica del Cacao museum to learn more about the production and history of chocolate in Ecuador, with each visit incorporating a tasting. Tropic now also offers a dessert cooking/baking class in Republica del Cacao's 'Chocolate Lab,' or an after hours fine dining cooking class with their resident chef. Email Cristina for additional information.

Alex generously shares photography tips as well as his love for
Costa Rica's wildlife with his travelers
Costa Rica Sun Tours: We are awed by Costa Rica Sun Tours' guide Alex Arias' photographic skills and approach to viewing wildlife. He has an uncanny ability to capture Costa Rican wildlife in its raw form. A guide since 1995, Alex's specialty is photography and adventure tours. He has competed in adventure races in Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama, and has led friends up to the peak of Chirripo (Costa Rica's highest) several times. As a bonus, families with children love him for his enthusiasm and caring personality! Visit the blog for an interview and to view more of his inspiring images.

Get nose-to-snout with Hwange's elephants at Imvelo's 'Look-
up' blind
Imvelo Safari Lodges: Last call for the Imvelo Safari Lodges' Zimbabwe FAM June 6-11! This is your chance to experience what makes Zimbabwe such a special safari destination while learning more about the incredible impact of Imvelo's lodges on the communities they support. Witness Hwange's massive ele herds from the Look-Up blind, enjoy a full day safari "Pump Run" and spot game from the one-of-a-kind Elephant Express trolley! Discover what's behind the buzz about Imvelo! Space is limited so contact Tad for more information ASAP.

Botswana's new Tourism Development Levy is effective
June 1
New Frontiers: Cross Botswana off the list of entry fee-less African destinations! Effective June 1, 2017, all travelers will be required to pay a $30 tourism development levy payable upon arrival at any of the country's ports of entry - this includes Chobe day-trippers from the Vic Falls area. The objective of the levy is to raise funds for conservation and tourism development to support the growth of the industry and broaden the tourism base, and aims to further improve the lives of the people of Botswana. Full details from New Frontiers on the Kusini blog.

The Ultimate Namibia safari will ensure your clients will
love Namibia, too!
Ultimate Safaris: Breaking news! Ultimate Safaris has won the Experience Africa Innovation Award at We Are Africa! It's wonderful recognition for the Ultimate Tribe and the tireless work they do for Conservation Travel in Namibia!

2018 dates and rates have been announced for the immensely popular Ultimate Namibia Safari from Ultimate Safaris. The guaranteed departure continues to offer the best value for money to be found in Namibia, and is still priced well below any comparative safari offered in the marketplace. Nearly all departures sold out for 2017 which has led Ultimate to schedule to schedule additional departures for next year, bringing the total number to 38 (up from 22). Now's the time to promote this itinerary as we expect our 2018 trips to sell out as well! Click here for dates, rates and itinerary updates for the 2018 safari.

Dolores brings Guatemala's history and spirituality to life
for travelers
Maya Trails: Spending a day touring Lake Atitlan with Maya Trails' guide Dolores is an incredibly enlightening, educational, and in many ways spiritual experience. She speaks nearly perfect English, and having lived it, conveys the history, traditions and culture of the Maya in a very personal way. Dolores and her family have been chosen to host the Mayan folk saint Maximon in her home village of Santiago Atitlan starting this month! This means even more insider access for Maya Trails clients visiting Lake Atitlan and environs. Ask Adriana to include a visit for your travelers.