Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Get to know Mana Pools, free upgrade in Kenya and a Kwanini primer

Learn the secrets of Zimbabwe's Mana Pools NP on the New Frontiers Agent Zone

What's happening this week in the Kusini Collection:

Visit the Agent Zone to learn what kind of Mana safari is
right for your clients
New Frontiers: Everything you need to know about Zimbabwe's Mana Pools National Park can be found on the New Frontiers Agent Zone! 'Dr Safari' Sally Moon has crafted a fantastic, comprehensive document that covers everything from lodging to the wide variety of activities on offer. Unlike most parks in south and southern Africa, Mana Pools has a complexity that needs to be understood in order to ensure visitors derive the maximum enjoyment from their safari. This means matching a client's expectations with not just the right camp but with the right style of safari. Visit the Agent Zone to learn more.

Waterfall swimming is one of the many highlights of a stay 
at Santa Juana
Costa Rica Sun Tours: Created to immerse guests in an authentic Costa Rica rural mountain experience, Santa Juana Lodge & Nature Reserve hearkens back to a simpler time. Life in the jungle-covered slopes of the Central Pacific Mountains revolves around an agricultural tradition and the outdoor adventures of hiking, waterfall swimming, and exploring the nature reserve. Santa Juana is an exclusive retreat with beautifully appointed, freestanding cabins, each with panoramic views. Costa Rica Sun Tours recommends a stay for the incredible hospitality, delicious local food and genuine relaxation.

How about a free upgrade to a 4x4 for 2018 Kenya set
Albatros East Africa: Albatros East Africa have just ordered their third 4X4 Land Cruiser in Kenya. With their new vehicle, they have upgraded their excellent, high-value 7-day Kenya Trails set departure into a 4x4 at no extra cost for 2018! Costs will change in 2019, so book quickly to take advantage of this excellent rate. For travelers looking for a broader East Africa itinerary, Albatros' 13-day East Africa Trails set departure is also a great value and takes advantage of the free vehicle upgrade for 2018. These classic itineraries are fantastic lead-in trips at an affordable price.

Macchiato and a pastry at Olivia's is the perfect fuel to
start the day in Addis
Travel Ethiopia: There's more to Addis Ababa than meets the eye. Many travelers might do a day tour of this growing city before heading off to Ethiopia's other attractions, but for city lovers, there's plenty more on offer. Museums, galleries, artisan shops, coffee houses and restaurants can keep visitors busy for days! Nomad's Concierge uncovered a few new gems in the city, and Travel Ethiopia can share others, depending on your client's tastes. The city has a vibrant buzz these days, along with a slew of lovely new boutique hotels, making it well worth spending a bit of time to explore.

VIDEO: scalloped hammerhead shark 'nursery' in Galapagos
Tropic Ecuador: The Galapagos Islands are a constant source of wonder and discovery. Tropic Ecuador let us know that scientists recently discovered a previously unknown breeding site for hammerhead sharks. Discovered along the coast of Santa Cruz Island late last year, researchers are working to collect data and tag the endangered sharks in this 'nursery' for further study. This discovery only adds to the Islands' importance as one of the most densely populated zones for sharks in the world.

VIDEO: a primer on Kwanini
The Manta Resort: Bwana Juma Bakar is a man of all trades and many talents at Pemba Island's Manta Resort! Sonya sat down with him on a recent visit to Manta and loved how he described the resort and it's ethos in the word Kwanini. Bwana Juma says, "'s not only about luxury, but its about the culture, the people, and history - all these things put together with the word Kwanini sets the rhythm for Manta..." We couldn't have put it better ourselves! Take a short break and watch the full video!

Guests at Mt Gahinga Lodge will have a new way to
experience Batwa culture
Classic Africa Safaris: Volcanoes Safari Lodges are upgrading their lodges in Rwanda and Uganda this year. Classic Africa Safaris tells us that the Humula Forest Spa will open in April at Bwindi Lodge, while the Batwa village at Mount Gahinga Lodge is due to be completed by June. The newly built village will allow guests to experience the history and culture of the Batwa during their stay. Kyambura Gorge Lodge is undergoing extensive upgrades throughout 2018, including full refurbishment of guest bandas, a redesigned swimming pool and spa, and improved design and interiors of all communal areas.

Imvelo's 2019 rates are now available
Imvelo Safari Lodges: Imvelo Safari Lodges have released their 2019 rates, and have kindly kept increases to an absolute minimum. They will continue to offer their fantastic stay/pay specials in the green season in 2019. They can all be combined to create excellent Vic Falls and Hwange circuits for your guests! You can also find Imvelo's green season closure dates in the 2019 rate sheets. The Stimela Star overnight sleeper train dates and rates have not yet been released for 2019. Once these are released we will provide an update.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Helicopter flights over the Andes, Sossus Under Canvas takes shape and Uganda e-visa update

 Travelers can get a bird's-eye perspective of the Andes with Tropic Ecuador's
new helicopter 'overflight' adventures!

What's happening this week in the Kusini Collection:

Helicopter flights give Tropic travelers a condor's-eye
 view of the Andes 
Tropic Ecuador: Ecuador has some of the world's most incredible mountain scenery. It's amazing to see on foot, horseback or mountain bike, but a whole different story from the air. Tropic Ecuador is incredibly excited to offer new helicopter adventures for your travelers! Their four new helicopter 'overflight' adventures give your clients a birds-eye view of the Andes, tumbling waterfalls, and beautiful Quito. Flights range in length from 35 to 89 minutes, and programs include return transfers from Quito hotels to the helipad. Contact Andrea for additional information or to book.

VIDEO: Escape to Baja for a moment 
Todos Santos Eco Adventures: There's no shortage of people who have fallen head-over-heels for Baja California Sur. The latest to be enchanted by its magic is Matador Network. They naturally cite Todos Santos Eco Adventures' Camp Cecil among their top choices of lodgings, citing the luxury tents and experiences on offer, as well as the fabulous meals and happy hours made possible by the camp's resident chef. They even have a short video to give travelers an idea of what a visit looks like. We expect the more than 6 million views it's gotten has put Camp Cecil on many travel lists! Tad is on his way to Baja just now, so stay tuned to Instagram for photos during his trip.

There's a universe to explore below the surface of the
Indian Ocean
The Manta Resort: CNN Travel recently featured Zanzibar's Spice Islands among their best beaches. When talking about Pemba, the quieter neighbor of Unguja (aka Zanzibar Island), they nailed it. "...and this is part of what makes Pemba a truly tropical paradise -- its astonishing underwater seascapes and prolific, brilliantly colored marine life...". The Manta Resort has tirelessly worked to protect the beautiful reef and underwater life around Pemba Island, leaving an intact marine paradise for travelers to mindfully explore, whether by snorkeling, diving or lounging in the bedroom of the famous Underwater Room!
First fitting of the new tents, then back to the tailors
for adjustments.
Ultimate Safaris: We couldn't be more excited to watch Ultimate Safaris' new Sossus Under Canvas camp taking shape! The camp is being built largely out of recycled materials, and Ultimate has had customized tents designed to their specifications, even taking climatic conditions into account. The 8 tent camp (with 2 family tents!) opens April 1 and is bookable on an exclusive basis. Bookings are currently open for the Apr - Nov season and require a 2 night minimum, though we recommend three. There is a stay 6/pay 5 offer when combining Sossus and //Huab Under Canvas!

Xandary is the perfect spot to dive into nature on arrival in
Costa Rica
Costa Rica Sun Tours: Costa Rica Sun Tours sales manager José Carlos recently stayed at Xandary Plantation, reaffirming that the property is a beautiful choice for a first or last night's stay in Costa Rica. Between the fantastic, personable service, exotic gardens and thoughtfully appointed villas, it's the perfect way to ease in or (less easily!) out of a visit to Costa Rica. It is proximate to coffee plantations for those that are interested, but also offers its own attractions, including organic gardens, waterfalls, hiking trails, bird watching and absolutely perfect weather (no a/c required!). The delicious restaurant and incredible views don't hurt either.

We'd happily jump through hoops to visit Uganda, but
fortunately it's easy to get an e-visa
Classic Africa Safaris: Classic Africa Safaris has informed us that it is best for visitors to Uganda to apply for their visas online prior to travel, as it is expected that visas on arrival will cease to be offered later this year. Uganda's e-visa program has been operational for almost two years, and is running smoothly. The application process is simple. Uganda travelers applying for a visa will need a copy of their passport, a recent passport-sized photo and a copy of their yellow fever vaccination certificate. Travelers applying for an East Africa tourist visa (covering Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya) must provide all of the aforementioned, plus a copy of their itinerary and evidence of a return ticket.

Maya Trails offer pretty much every transportation option
you can think of
Maya Trails: Did you know that Maya Trails owns the Hertz franchise in Guatemala? This means they have a consistently new and excellent fleet of vehicles, from smaller SUVs for FITs, to larger Sprinter-like vans for groups. Your clients visiting Guatemala will visit sites like Lake Atitlan, Antigua and Chichicastenango in comfort and style. For travelers looking for something uber-exclusive, or who want to cover a lot of ground in a small amount of time, Maya Trails also offer helicopter transfers. Contact Adriana to discuss options for your travelers.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

New sleeper train from Vic Falls to Hwange, Ethiopian 'commute,' and Pemba Island cuisine

Costa Rica Sun Tours guide Alex Arias has a favorite waterfall - and he'll share that
secret with your clients - along with his photography skills for interested shutterbugs.
See some of his newest nature shots on Kusini's Instagram!

What's happening this week in the Kusini Collection:

The Star's rail cars have been lovingly restored
Imvelo Safari Lodges: Imvelo Safari Lodges leads the pack in offering new experiences for travelers to Zimbabwe. Their latest innovation is The Stimela Star, the nation's only private overnight sleeper train operating from Victoria Falls to Hwange NP. Travel on The Stimela Star hearkens back to the glory days of African train travel. 10 scheduled departures will be offered this year (starting in May), and additional departures can be arranged for 12 or more guests on request. The Star can be booked by guests of any camp in Hwange, but for the ultimate safari rail experience, Imvelo guests can continue from Dete on the Elephant Express to Bomani or Camelthorn. Learn more about this magical new experience on the Kusini Blog.

Forest Chem Chem is for travelers looking for an exclusive
experience in Tanzania
Albatros East Africa: Nestled in a pocket of fever trees along the Tarangire River (and just a 15-minute drive from Little Chem Chem), stands the new, exclusive-use Forest Chem Chem. 'Kuungana' means 'to connect' in Swahili and this is Forest Chem Chem's essence. With 2 vintage tents and 1 family tent, it sleeps up to 6 adults and 2 children, and is perfect for families or friends traveling together. It is a place for people to connect - with each other, with the bush, with Africa and with themselves. Albatros Travel is currently taking bookings from June 1.

Chef Rashid evokes Pemba's flavors in his incredibly
delicious cuisine
The Manta Resort: Years ago, Rashid Faki was a security guard at The Manta Resort, with a curiosity for cooking. When he asked if he could spend his time off learning how to cook, he was welcomed in the kitchen. This speaks volumes to the style that Manta embodies - and today when you visit, you'll have the pleasure of tasting chef Rashid's creations! He infuses every meal with Pemba's flavors - cloves, cardamom, coconut, and much more! Guests can choose fish, meat, or vegan at lunch and dinner - everyone's taste buds and bellies will be delighted! Visit the blog for a sample menu!

Experience Camp Cecil through Bronze & Briny's lens
Todos Santos Eco Adventures: As always, Todos Santos Eco Adventures' Camp Cecil is making headlines. Most recently, they had a visit from world traveler Jen of the blog Bronze & Briny. She naturally fell in love with the camp and Espiritu Santo, and documented her stay in a beautiful photoblog. Looking at her gorgeous photos, we really think she 'got' Camp Cecil! "I honestly didn't know what my dream bedroom consisted of until I stayed a night at the beautiful Camp Cecil." She'll immerse you in the description of her stay, which she called "a true vacation for the mind, body, and soul." Need we say more?

VIDEO: Journey of the faithful in Ethiopia's Tigray region
Travel Ethiopia: One of Ethiopia's biggest draws is the chance to see its living history. Ancient churches are still in use by today's devoted Christians, and tourists are allowed a glimpse into the sacred at incredible religious sites such as Gondar and Lalibela. The Tigray region is known for its cliff-side churches, where priests and worshipers scale mountains to access holy sites. This short BBC video follows one priest on his 'daily commute' up a cliff face to his church. Travel Ethiopia will customize a visit, catering to everyone from the uber-adventurous to the mobility challenged.

It's easier than ever to get to Guate!
Maya Trails: Getting to Guatemala has never been easier! In addition to direct flights from seven (yes, seven!) different cities in the US, there are direct flights from destinations throughout Latin America. This makes it easy for your clients to plan a multi-destination Latin America itinerary...say, glamping and trekking in Guatemala followed by beach time in Belize. Maya Trails can provide ideas, or contact us for access to their latest signature itineraries for inspiration.

VIDEO: Learn how Ultimate is redefining luxury in
Namibia in this webinar
Ultimate Safaris: In case you missed it! The Atta hosted a short and informative webinar featuring Birgit Bekker, where she gave the insider's scoop on Ultimate Safaris' Journeys Under Canvas. Ultimate is redefining luxury - by focusing on what a Namibian safari should be - including ensuring privacy, exclusivity, experiential focus and total flexibility, all while being perfectly comfortable and priced relatively moderately. A recording of the webinar is available here. Contact Birgit with any questions or to check availability at Ultimate's fantastic Under Canvas camps.

Seasonal water drops are taking place in the Delta and
on the Zambezi
New Frontiers: It's the time of year when New Frontiers provides an update on the dropping water levels on the Zambezi and in the Okavango Delta. Currently, there is little to no water flowing over the Eastern Cataract on the Zambian side, however on the Zimbabwe side there will always be some water cascading over the edge. It's at this time of year when Livingstone Island and Devil's Pool come into their own. Due to limited space and demand, New Frontiers recommends pre-booking. Read more, including specifics on what water activities are available at each of the Okavango Delta lodges on the Agent Zone.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Dining at The Manta Resort

Some years ago, Rashid Faki was a security guard at The Manta Resort, with a curiosity for cooking. When he asked if he could spend his time off learning how to cook, he was welcomed in the kitchen. This speaks volumes to the wholesome family style that embodies Manta and helps grow the staff - for today, when you visit, you'll have the pure pleasure of tasting CHEF Rashid's creations!

With help of a visiting Swedish chef, they've spent time polishing skills and dreaming up menus. Each and every meal is subtly infused with the flavors found on the island - cloves, cardamom, coconut, cinnamon and so much more! At lunch and dinner you will always have the option of fish, meat, and vegan! We also think it's great that the resort does not offer pork, wholly respecting the customs and culture of the locals. Whether you are dining on the beach, the terrace, or at the Underwater Room, you're taste buds and belly will be delighted!

If you're ready to be ravenous, you can view a week-long sample lunch and dinner menu here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Stimela Star - rail travel in Zimbabwe

Imvelo Safari Lodges is excited to announce their new Victoria Falls to Hwange National Park overnight sleeper train service!

Stimela is the word used in Zimbabwe (and Zululand) for a train - it derives from the rhythm of the sound the old trains made. Imvelo's Stimela Star is a private overnight sleeper train that hooks up to the regular Victoria Falls to Bulawayo passenger train, transporting guests in comfort and lovely old-fashioned style overnight from Vic Falls to Hwange National Park. Riders enjoy refreshments and a 3-course dinner, followed by entertainment provided by Imvelo guides in the lounge car. Later, guests will be rocked to sleep in a way that is unique only to train travel. Signature midnight snacks are available for night owls. Morning brings a hot and cold breakfast and it's off on the next adventure into Hwange!

The Stimela Star will be linked on scheduled departure dates to the overnight passenger train which runs nightly between Victoria Falls and Bulawayo. Powered by a diesel electric locomotive, the train cars date back to the 1950’s during the heyday of national rail in Zimbabwe. The former Premier Class coaches and have been lovingly upgraded for today's travelers.

Two sleeper carriages each host 12 passengers in twin or single compartments with shared toilet and shower facilities at either end of each carriage, for a total of 10 twin and 4 single berths. Compartments are snug but roomy enough for two, with single beds measuring 92 x 188cm. Each compartment has electric lights and 3 round pin power sockets, and plenty of luggage room under the beds and in overhead racks.

Each sleeper coach has a flush loo and basin at each end (2 per coach and one shower). Water is obviously limited so guests who do use the shower are encouraged to be water conscious. A lock up safe box for valuables is available and is under the control of the manager.

Meals are served in the kitchen dining car and a bar lounge car completes the Star. Both of these cars have overhead fans and electric lighting. By special request Imvelo can even hitch up their teak-floored Dancing Coach for a special occasion! (Pricing on request)

The Stimela Star will take a maximum of 24 passengers. Each departure will have a Host Manager as well as a Specialist Trip Guide on board with supporting restaurant / bar service staff and 2 Railway guards.

The Stimela Star Operation

For 2018 Imvelo has 10 scheduled departures for The Stimela Star (see below). Guests should arrive at Victoria Falls station at 6 pm for embarkation. Upon arrival guests will be shown to the lounge car to enjoy welcome drinks during an orientation and safety talk, while luggage is being stowed in their cabins. Guests are then shown to their compartments to freshen up before departure which is scheduled for around 7ish, (it is an African train after all!). Then its pre-dinner drinks and canapes in the bar lounge and sit down dinner from about 8 pm.

After a delicious dinner, and post-meal drinks and entertainment in the lounge, guests retire to their cabins to revel in the luxury of being lulled and rocked to sleep on the Star, as they wind their way through the night to Hwange National Park. The train crosses the hills along the northern edge of Hwange making short stops at all the sidings along the way. The final stop is the historic little railway town of Dete, mid-way to Bulawayo, arriving in the dark early hours of the morning. The Stimela Star is shunted into a siding and the remainder of the train continues on to Bulawayo, while guests sleep on in comfort.

Breakfast is served from 7 am onwards, and at around 8 am guests can disembark for transfers to their respective lodges in Hwange. Imvelo guests booked for Camelthorn or Bomani will board the Elephant Express, Imvelo's signature open-air rail car, and carry on to Ngamo. Imvelo guests for Nehimba will board their open land rovers for their game drive to Nehimba.

Guests leaving for other lodges in Hwange must arrange their transfer vehicles to collect them at Dete station

2018 set departures

21st MAY - Monday
12th JUNE - Tuesday
25th JUNE - Monday
12th AUGUST - Sunday
19th AUGUST - Sunday
3rd SEPTEMBER - Monday
30th SEPTEMBER - Sunday
9th OCTOBER - Tuesday
22nd OCTOBER - Monday
5th NOVEMBER - Monday

Additional departures can be arranged for 12 or more guests on request. All guests are to arrive at the Victoria Falls station by 6pm latest for check in and boarding. Departure is at 7pm and there will be no refunds for non-arrivals. For booking information, rates, policies and more information, view The Stimela Star fact sheet.

Good news on Cape Town's water situation, sleep like a bird and shopping in Ethiopia

The Manta Resort is about a whole different kind of luxury...the luxury of
relaxing and reconnecting with nature

What's happening this week in the Kusini Collection:

What could be better than lemonade after a bush walk?
Photo ©Bill Gozansky.
Ultimate Safaris: There are many things that set Ultimate Safaris apart from their competitors. In addition to the 'big things' like their award-winning, knowledgeable, on-staff naturalist guiding team, and incredible roughing it in style Journeys Under Canvas, Ultimate also knows how the little things can make a huge impression. Consider their new 'Trail Treats' - creative, wonderful moments of surprise for guests that seem really coming upon a lemonade stall out in the bush at //Huab Under Canvas. Talk about a refreshing surprise!
VIDEO: Things are looking up for the water situation in Cape Town

New Frontiers: Late last week, New Frontiers provided a more positive update on Cape Town's water situation and its impact on tourism. Just yesterday, it was announced that Day Zero (when the regular water supply is cut off and distribution points take effect) has been pushed out to June 4 thanks to aggressive conservation efforts, and there is consensus that it is now unlikely to happen. It is important to note that in peak tourism months, tourist water consumption represents less than 1% of total water usage. Additional water sources will be coming online soon, and in the unlikely event that Day Zero occurs, water supply will not be cut off to key commercial areas, including most hotels.

New EBB-NBO flights from Jambojet start this week
Classic Africa Safaris: Classic Africa Safaris has let us know that Jambojet, a subsidiary of Kenya Airways, will operate two daily flights between Entebbe and Nairobi beginning Feb 15. The introductory price of a one-way ticket would be approximately $115, inclusive of taxes, with a flight time of 80 minutes. Flights will depart Nairobi daily at 9:10 am and 5:30 pm, while return flights will depart Entebbe at 11:00 am and 7:20 pm. These new flights will make it easy for travelers to combine Kenya and Uganda for safari, giving them a chance to see the diversity of East Africa.

Gorgeous Ethiopian textiles drying in Sabahar's garden
Travel Ethiopia: CNN Travel calls Addis Ababa 'rambunctious, manic, beguiling and exciting,' and we couldn't agree more. This vibrant Ethiopian city has much to offer visitors, including some of the world's best coffee, fantastic local and international food, museums, night life, and excellent culture, art and shopping. Guests exploring the city with Travel Ethiopia can plan a shopping day where they will visit artisan shops like Sabahar - offering stunning fair-trade Ethiopian textiles, or Makush Art Gallery - where they discover talented local artists, and perhaps stick around for a delicious Italian meal afterward.

CRST's exploration of local cuisine might include platos
typicos such as this
Costa Rica Sun Tours: Costa Rica Sun Tours offers a fun and informative tour of local cuisine in Manuel Antonio! Guests join a guide to visit the local market in Quepos where they can browse the stands to pick out ingredients for lunch. With a basket full, they head to the nearby farming community of Londres to meet up with expert local chefs. Cooking in the Costa Rican kitchen can include making exotic ceviche, old-fashioned rice "tico style", or maybe a "picadillo" (chopped veg mixed with spices and meat). After eating, there will be time to walk the trails at a beautiful ranch or into town, or enjoy a swim!

Sonya found herself mesmerized in The Manta Resort's
Underwater Room
The Manta Resort: You've been looking at stunning photos and hearing about Kwanini for months. Now, following a recent visit to The Manta Resort on Pemba Island, Sonya has much to share, so stay tuned in the coming weeks for her stories and a trip report! In the meantime, if you've been wondering about the experience, the destination itself, how to include it in an itinerary, best times to go, and personal insight as to what makes Manta so incredibly special - please contact Sonya to schedule a call - she'd love to talk about it!

Happy kids at Ngamo school who benefit from Imvelo's
community projects
Imvelo Safari Lodges: Imvelo Safari Lodges is best known for their incredible lodges and unique Zimbabwe safaris, but one thing that really sets them apart are their community and conservation programs. In 2017 alone, Imvelo and their partners and supporters drilled new boreholes, built multiple new classroom blocks, a new clinic, new kitchen facilities for community buildings and much more. Imvelo provides all the logistical support for the projects without charge. Every cent raised or donated by well-wishers is spent on materials and labor only, and Imvelo contributes the rest.

The totally unique, totally extraodinary Nay Palad at
Segera Retreat
Albatros East Africa: As if Kenya's Segera Retreat wasn't fabulous enough, Albatros Travel tells us they have opened the Nay Palad 'Bird Nest.' This stand alone room offers a unique concept of nesting and sleeping like a bird - set above the ground with a 360 degree views of the wilderness. Guests are brought to Nay Palad just before sunset to find it lit by lanterns with a champagne dinner waiting (and oh how we *love* the food at Segera!). Accommodation consists of inviting beds (either open-air or within the shelter of the first floor) and a fully-equipped bathroom. It's perfect for two guests, but a cozy family would also enjoy a stay.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Massive Maya discovery, fly Chicago to Africa and Ultimate webinar

Expert safari planners know that an amazing guide makes all the difference -
bringing sunrises, wildlife and safari magic to travelers!

What's happening this week in the Kusini Collection:

Maya Trails FAM touring Tikal with renowned
archaeologist Francisco Estrada-Belli
Maya Trails: New results of an aerial survey over northern Guatemala have revealed over 60,000 previously undiscovered Maya structures. One of the esteemed scientists collaborating on the discovery is Francisco Estrada-Belli (who partners with Maya Trails for specialist guiding in Peten, and who you can see on Nat Geo TV later this month). He explains that the find is significant not only because of its magnitude, but because it's the largest archaeological LiDAR (laser detection system) survey in the world. Maya Trails has the perfect adventure for archaeologist nuts short on time but looking for an immersive experience - a Helicopters & Hieroglyphs luxury long weekend!

Cutting-edge product knowledge is hard work,
but somebody's got to do it!
New Frontiers: The New Frontiers team is 'Out and About' keeping up-to-date on the latest product offerings so often, there's a section of the Agent Zone dedicated to it! Christine is just back from the Kruger area and has discovered five new gems for your travelers. Four of the five properties are quite intimate and all have something special to offer. With availability constantly being a challenge in the Greater Kruger area, these lodges offer a great alternative. See photos and get all of the details on the Agent Zone.

Discover Ultimate's Journeys Under Canvas at the ATTA
Ultimate Safaris: We've told you about Ultimate Safaris' Journeys Under Canvas - now it's time to hear directly from the source. Join Birgit Bekker at 9 am ET on Feb 8th for an informational webinar where she will share how Ultimate is redefining luxury - by focusing on what the crux of a Namibian safari should be. Their definition encompasses privacy, exclusivity, experiential focus and total flexibility, all while being perfectly comfortable and priced relatively moderately. A recording of the webinar will be available, so please register to receive a copy even if you are unable to attend.

The beautiful Harenna Forest surrounding Bale Mountain
Travel Ethiopia: Visitors to Bale Mountain Lodge can not only have the chance to see the National Park's otherworldly scenery, Ethiopian wolves, mountain nyala and other wildlife, they can also visit the beekeepers of the Harenna Forest. Families have kept the ancient way of beekeeping alive for generations, shimmying up trees to smoke the hives (and lull the bees) so they may collect their sweet honey for use in tej (honey wine) or to sell in the market. Travel Ethiopia can arrange a visit as part of an Ethiopian adventure, and now that Ethiopian Airlines have announced new direct flights between Addis and Chicago (beginning June 9), it's even easier to get there!

Tropic guests can see the continued evolution of the
Galapagos first hand!
Tropic Ecuador: Increased seismic activity of the Sierra Negra volcano has led Ecuador's Ministry of Risk Management to declare a "Yellow Alert," suspending visits to the area of Volcan Chico on Isabela Island. To ensure safety, hikerss can only visit the areas of Mirador 1 and Mirador 2, and the surrounding trails in Sierra Negra. Tropic Ecuador's hiking excursion on Volcan Chico and Sierra Negra is somewhat affected, though it only shortens the activity by approximately one hour. Volcanoes created the Galapagos, and with this most recent activity, guests will literally witness this geologic process first-hand.

Hatchling release is sometimes available as part of
'Turtle Camp'
Todos Santos Eco Adventures: Todos Santos Eco Adventures offers a wonderful opportunity for volunteers to work with biologists to protect endangered olive ridley marine turtles. Volunteers and biologists patrol the beach at night, watching for female turtles to emerge from the ocean and make their way to a nesting spot. Each will leave 90-120 eggs in a hole, camouflage it, then leave the eggs to chance. That's where guests come in - your travelers can help combat declining populations by volunteering with biologists as they collect the eggs and relocate them to a protective nursery. Learn more here.

Guides make or break a safari experience - Abdallah
makes it amazing!
Albatros East Africa: When on safari there are many variables - from weather to wildlife! With much of the actual guest experience out of your control once the Land Rover rumbles away, it is up to the safari guide to see to it that expectations are exceeded. Trust us when we say from first-hand experience that Albatros East Africa guides are experts at making that happen! On Sonya's recent FAM trip, Abdallah shared his kind and steady nature, keen driving skills, incredible spotting abilities (including spying hunting cheetah and myriad birds), endless enthusiasm, and most of all, gaining everyone's complete trust in his innate abilities as a guide. He was wonderful!