Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Escape to Baja, the iPhone X goes to Antigua and new Zimbabwe safari

Wild dog sightings (including pups!) have been a frequent highlight for guests
staying at the new Bushman Plains Camp in the Okavango Delta

What's happening this week in the Kusini Collection:

Guests on Tropic's tour can enjoy an extraordinary meal at
D'Cave, Galapagos Magic's new underground restaurant
Tropic Ecuador: The new Land and Cruise Galapagos Adventure from Tropic Ecuador is proving extremely popular with travelers. Two nights at Tropic's Galapagos Magic tented camp in the Santa Cruz highlands are the perfect introduction to the Islands. Visitors can kayak, SUP and snorkel in the Itabaca Channel, along with other activities (additional cost or self-guided). From there, it's off on a 4d/3n cruise aboard the 16 pax catamaran M/C Galapagos Seaman, for a total of 6 islands in 6 days! Don't forget that Tropic offers extremely competitive cruise commissions! Contact Andrea for dates and rates.

Sabyinyo Silverback's new look is bright and contemporary
Classic Africa Safaris: With recent and scheduled openings of several new luxury lodges around Volcanoes NP in Rwanda, existing lodges are making moves to 'keep up with the Jonses.' In that vein, Classic Africa Safaris reports that the ever-lovely Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge has just had a total lodge refurbishment. All guest cottages, suites, family cottage and main lodge areas have had a makeover with new furniture, fittings and soft furnishings for a totally new look (more photos here). It is fresh, bright, and contemporary, with accents of modern African design coupled with elegant country living. 

Sightings of sable, wild dog and lion are highlights of
a stay at Bushman Plains
New Frontiers: The new Bushman Plains camp in the Okavango Delta has much to offer and is one of the best deals in Botswana (ask New Frontiers about 2018 specials!). The camp is majority owned by three Bushmen brothers who are extraordinary guides and fascinating hosts. With just four Hemingway-style tents, the authentic bush camp is exclusive and intimate. The concession is home to all major predators, including abundant wild dog and lion, as well as diverse general game. Day and night drives, mokoro excursions, walking safaris and cultural walks are on offer, along with optional hot air ballooning and helicopter excursions (at additional cost). More photos and details about the camp are available on the Agent Zone.

Austin Mann used the new iPhone X to capture Antigua's
magical light
Maya Trails: Another year, another new iPhone. But this new model sounds like a game-changer for (travel!) photographers! Renowned travel photographer Austin Mann traveled to Guatemala to test out the new phone's capabilities, and he captured the beauty of Antigua brilliantly! Better depth, truer colors and improved ease-of-use are all features of the new camera (phone!), and what better place to test its limits than the stunning scenery found in Antigua. Volcanoes, winding cobbled lanes, color-splashed's a travel photographers dream destination. Contact Maya Trails for options for your travelers.

Imvelo's safari lets guests participate in community and
conservation work
Imvelo Safari Lodges: We are excited to announce a new Community and Conservation Safari set departure with Imvelo Safari Lodges June 13-21, 2018! This is an opportunity for your guests to participate in hands-on community development work and active conservation programs while enjoying stellar game viewing and the wide variety of safari activities on offer in Hwange NP and Vic Falls. Days are packed with community interactions, hands-on predator conservation, 'pump runs' to ensure water supply for Hwange's wildlife, anti-poaching patrolling and more!

VIDEO: Take a minute (okay, 1:10) and escape to Los Colibris Casitas
Todos Santos Eco Adventures: What is a stay at Todos Santos Eco Adventures' award-winning Los Colibris Casitas like? Sun on your shoulders, breeze in your hair and the gentle sound of waves lapping at the sand. Fresh food that's expertly prepared, ample time for relaxing and recharging. A bit of yoga, some laps in the pool or horseback riding on the beach. Culture, art and fabulous dining are just a few minutes' walk. Words only paint a picture...check out this beautiful video for a taste of what life is like at Los Colibris Casitas!

Giraffe Conservation Foundation received funds for GPS
satellite tagging. See the full list of recipients here.
Ultimate Safaris: From small beginnings and good intentions in 2006, Ultimate Safaris' Conservation Travel Foundation has grown into one of Namibia's most impactful conservation non-profits, where all funds raised are generated from responsible and conservation-oriented travel with Ultimate Safaris. A staggering ZAR 1.36 million (USD $100k) was raised in 2017 for conservation and rural development in Namibia, and at 1.5% of overall commercial revenue, this is nearing Ultimate's ambitious target of 2% of revenue. Ultimate calls it their 'most satisfying achievement for 2017.' Kudos!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The 12 Days of Kusini Festive Season

You've waited all year for it...The Kusini Collection holiday greetings video!
All of us at The Kusini Collection are wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season! In the spirit of celebrating the season, we've put our spin on things by creating a list of the '12 Days of Kusini Festive Season' - a compilation of some of the innovative and transformative new travel experiences for your travelers from our partners.

1. On the first day of Kusini Festive, our Collection gave to you...

A brand new Kusini website - Our beautiful new website will launch in January and will have more features for agents like fact sheets, easier access to itineraries, rates, photos and videos, and more! Many thanks to those who participated in our 2017 survey on how we can better serve you.

2. On the second day of Kusini Festive, our Collection gave to you...

Two new glamping experiences in Guatemala - Maya Trails' new four day trek from Antigua to Lake Atitlan gives guests the chance to explore everything from the highest ridge lines surrounded by volcanoes, to trails ambling through highlands, rivers, plantations and coffee fincas. Evenings bring fireside chef-prepared meals, followed by deep sleep in high-tech tents with real queen size beds. Those looking for a lighter glamping experience can opt for Maya Trails' two day, one night option.
3. On the third day of Kusini Festive, our Collection gave to you...

A three hour canoeing trip in Rwanda - Classic Africa Safaris is excited about a new half day canoeing safari near Virunga NP. Your clients will enjoy birdwatching, soaking up incredible views, learning about the local flora and fauna, and engaging with local communities. Kids from 7 and up are welcome - there are no hippos or crocs in the water.

4. On the fourth day of Kusini Festive, our Collection gave to you...

Four new Colossus tents on Espiritu Santo for multi-day kayaking trips - Todos Santos Eco Adventures is taking the adventures they offer in the Sea of Cortez up a notch! Guests camp on several of the island´s beautiful beaches in walk-in Colossus tents with 6 windows, comfortable cots, sleeping bags and real pillows. The on-site chef makes wonderful meals every day and puts on a great happy hour! Stays are 'as you wish' with kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, swimming with sea lions, and bird watching; investigating hidden lagoons and deserted beaches; along with swimming, stargazing, and so much more! Adding on a few nights at Camp Cecil is a nice way to finish.

5. On the fifth day of Kusini Festive, our Collection gave to you...

A stay five/pay four special at The Manta Resort - As though having a little slice of paradise on Pemba Island wasn't enough, The Manta Resort is offering a new stay five/pay four (or stay 8/pay 6!) special from March 1 - December 20, 2018 (Underwater Room not included). That means extra time for your clients to disconnect - to enjoy sunshine, camaraderie, gently lapping waves, amazing food, beautiful underwater adventures, and of course - to soak in Kwanini culture.

6. On the sixth day of Kusini Festive, our Collection gave to you...

Six days it used to take to reach St. Helena from Cape Town - But not anymore! New Frontiers has 'tamed the winds' on the journey to St. Helena, as direct flights from both Cape Town and Johannesburg are now offered to the remote and rugged island in the South Atlantic. Guests on New Frontiers' 'Discover St. Helena' itinerary will discover culture and history, incredible marine life, dramatic scenery just begging to be explored and more. And don't forget Longwood House - Napoleon's residence, which is now a museum (though it took him 10 weeks' at sea to get to St. Helena when he was banished there in 1815!).

7. On the seventh day of Kusini Festive, our Collection gave to you...

Seven extra years in Ethiopia and a new boutique lodge in Lalibela - In case you've forgotten, Ethiopia is on a 13 month calendar, giving you seven years back when you visit (so yes - they just ushered in the new year - 2010 - back in September). We feel younger every time we go! Travel Ethiopia is also excited to announce that the beautiful new Mezena Lodge in Lalibela is fully operational. The hotel is set within 17 acres of land, is eco-friendly, and is raising the accommodation standard in Lalibela.

8. On the eighth day of Kusini Festive, our Collection gave to you...

Eight tents at Ultimate’s new Sossus Under Canvas - Located on the private 24,000 hectare reserve bordering Sossusveli, Ultimate Safaris' new Sossus Under Canvas camp is just thirty minutes' drive from the Sossusvlei gate. The camp will open in April 2018, and will be bookable on an exclusive basis with a two night minimum between April and November. Two of the camp's eight tents are suitable for families, and a stay six/pay five special is available when combined with //Huab Under Canvas!

9. On the ninth day of Kusini Festive, our Collection gave to you...

A nine night/ten day cycling safari from Kili to Natron - for your keen cycling clients, Albatros East Africa has developed a fantastic cycling safari that allows an exploration of Kilimanjaro's slopes, through forests and savannas, past volcanoes and soda lakes and more - all via pedal power. Days distances covered range from 26 - 72 kms, and evenings are spent in comfortable camps and lodges. It's a totally new way to experience Tanzania and some of its iconic spots.

10. On the tenth day of Kusini Festive, our Collection gave to you...

A ten course tasting menu at Elements in Quito - Get ready for Quito's most sophisticated dining experience! Tropic Ecuador has let us in on the soon-to-be-out secret of Elements - a new popup restaurant in Quito's Cumbaya suberb. Chef Alvaro Reinoso is the first in a line of celebrity chefs whipping up amazing food that showcases Ecuador's superb agricultural offerings. Dinner makes for a perfect last stop before a late flight, but real gourmands should consider a cooking class or a market tour.

11. On the eleventh day of Kusini Festive, our Collection gave to you...

Eleven tents at Bomani with the addition of the new Sable Family Suite - Family travelers can rejoice in the splendid new digs at Imvelo Safari Lodges' Bomani Tented Lodge. The Sable Family Suite accommodates families in style and elbow-room comfort. The 2 bedroom, 2 bath suite (complete with outdoor showers!) accommodates up to six when extra beds are added. It's perfect for families or small groups, and guests can take advantage of all that Bomani has to offer, including its new plunge pool!

12. On the twelfth day of Kusini Festive, our Collection gave to you...

Twelve days experiencing what pura vida feels like in Costa Rica - Costa Rica Sun Tours' new itinerary explores three of Costa Rica's adventure jewels - rafting the Pacuare river, experiencing the new family-owned Isla Chiquita glamping getaway and exploring the cloud forest of Monteverde. Complete with CRST special experiences, like home-hosted meals, best guides in the country, and many special surprises! CRST also offers an eight day option for those seeking pura vida but facing time challenges!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Top Ten Matabeleland Miracles from Imvelo's Mobile Dental and Optical Safari 2017

From a discussion around the campfire at Bomani Tented Lodge many years ago, to our first Mobile Dental Safari in 2011, this our 7th year was without a doubt the biggest and best yet. The number of patients treated in a little under a week was just over 4,000, while our first year was 1174!

But it’s not just about the numbers – the event has evolved into so much more than annual dental care for villagers. We now have an optical component that this year was larger than the dental, and we added a number of other different new elements each providing relief to thousands.

Read below our top 10 highlights or what we call miracles, from this year's smile safari! We hope you enjoy reading all about it as much as we enjoyed being part of this incredible team and the truly amazing work they performed in some of the most remote parts of Zimbabwe! This epitomizes everything Imvelo stands for and we feel humbled, proud and inspired to continue with this life changing work in the years to come!

Here our Top 10 Matabeleland Miracles for Mobile Dental and Optical Safari:

Dr Gilbert Moyo, hard at work
1: Where eye surgery is required
This year we provided the first surgical ophthalmological component in response to what we’ve seen in our communities in previous years. Our team was joined by gifted young Zimbabwean ophthalmologist Dr Gilbert Moyo from United Bulawayo Hospitals who diagnosed patients in need of eye surgery. Our first patient Goodnight Sibanda, has already had a successful operation that was urgent, paid for by D3 Foundation. We are in the process now of raising money for more than 100 other patients Dr Moyo identified as requiring eye surgery.

New spectacles! 
2: Clear sight for old and young
Our optometry team that last year comprised two Spaniards was overwhelmed by the number of people needing spectacles. So this year we grew the team by two more Spaniards as well as two Zimbabweans from Bulawayo optometrists John McMinn & Co. We equipped them with state of the art eye testing equipment paid for by money raised by Smile is a Foundation, and even this much stronger much better equipped team could barely cope with the demand that came forward. They treated over 1900 patients, a large number of them older people requiring two sets of specs for reading and distance, as well as hundreds of sunglasses to protect eyes from our harsh sun.

Some of the new dentist heros at work!
3: More experts volunteer their services
Our team has almost doubled since our first year in 2011, but most gratifying is the number of Zimbabweans volunteering to work with us and the number of new enthusiastic young faces in the Spanish and Italian team. Some of the original veterans are facing increased family and work commitments which have made it more difficult to travel every year, so they have carefully selected new faces that can replace them in years when they are unavailable. By expanding the team, pressure on individuals to join us every year is relieved.

Larger buses made transporting patients more efficient
4: Support from all over the world
Our wonderful donors continue to support our efforts as we’ve expanded and grown. Higher Life Foundation this year picked up the tab not only for airfares but also for a larger fleet of buses to move patients more efficiently over long distances. Smile is a Foundation raised a fortune to purchase equipment for the optometrists and dentists to make them more efficient and effective. D3 Foundation funds covered a host of expenses that included around 3000 litres of diesel, supplies for over 3500 meals served at the clinics, just over 4000 toothbrushes and tens of thousands of Ibuprofen and Amoxicillin. The list of our supporters is long and growing – we thank them all!

A new autorefractor for testing eyes in action
5: Better equipment for diagnosis and treatment
This year we deployed a significantly beefed up equipment list with our team... two new autorefractors (an electronic eye testing device) and a trial lens case, while our fillings department was thrilled with their irrigation and suction machine. The new equipment was provided by Smile is a Foundation.

These kids can now see the chalkboard! 
6: Lives changed, futures brightened
Every year we are overwhelmed with the stories of the individuals whose lives we change - the young mother who had tears in her eyes when one of our dentists removed the two extraordinary incisors of her 10 week old baby that had made breast feeding almost impossible. The young kids left out of school because of a supposed learning disability, fixed with a simple pair of spectacles. The old people terrified of falling because they can’t see, suddenly able to see far and then with a second set of specs to even read again.

Mouths who had never seen a dentist,
now have annual 1st world dental care
7: Reaching further out to neglected areas
Apart from taking care of the communities around our lodges, this year we wanted to push further into the communities on the remotest south western boundary of Hwange National Park, areas plagued by some of the worst poaching we have had to deal with. We warned our team that it would be long distances and long drives down to Dhlamini so we could send our buses deep into Chief Siphosa’s area – not a murmur of complaint from any of them. And here as expected the mouths we looked into that day reminded us of the mouths that we experienced in our first years closer to home: terrible and massive multiple infections; multiple extractions per mouth; huge abscesses; thin, scared kids with debilitating tooth aches. But when we left there late and exhausted on that Thursday evening we were unanimous in our agreement to return every year to that most remote and neglected part of our country.

A photo of every mouth as part of
individual records at Ngamo school
8: Programming long-term health benefits
At Ngamo Primary and Secondary Schools, a file was opened on each individual, capturing their dental and sight records so that in the years ahead their specific needs can be catered for. The plan is to engrave in young minds the importance of eye health and oral health; annual intervention will include checking eyesight, providing spectacles where needed, and providing sunglasses to everyone to prevent eye disease caused by over exposure to the strong African sun.  In the dental department all mouths will be checked, cavities filled, rotten teeth extracted and root canal done when needed. On top of that every 6 months new tooth brushes will be provided, fluoride treatment applied and a 1 minute rinse with chloride with the help of our Ngamo teachers.

The kids from Chisuma School see Vic Falls for the first time!
9: Schoolkids see the Falls for the first time
A major part of putting the Dental Safari into the field every year is assembling the fleet of vehicles and drivers. This year, the day after our last clinic but before the buses set off back to their homes we decided to use them for something else. We realised that the majority of the kids at Chisuma School near Gorges Lodge had never actually seen the Victoria Falls themselves, even though they had grown up within sight of the spray column rising into the sky. We hatched the plan to use the Dental Safari buses to change that.  So on Sunday the 12th we took 388 Chisuma School kids and their teachers into the Victoria Falls National Park, and what a day it was. Despite the constant anxiety of the teachers keeping the kids safe and in straight lines, the well behaved children had as many pictures taken of them by other visitors as the Falls themselves that day.

The team at Nehimba Lodge. They did not check the
ele's teeth we're told
10: We spoil the team with a special safari
Part of the success of the Imvelo Mobile Dental and Optical Safari is when we do our bit to thank the volunteers for their hard work and the sacrifices they make to come and treat our communities - we take them on safari for a few days. This year their first day at Nehimba enabled us to show them some magnificent elephant at the Seeps, ‘Horse’ our remarkable lioness and her newest young cubs, and the incredible evening elephant show in front of the lodge. Then of course when we were at Bomani after we got back from Sipepa Hospital and were enjoying the sunset at Stoffie’s Pan the wild dogs gave us a show. For our move from Ngamo to the Falls we used the overnight passenger train service that, just as we predicted, everybody loved! That same day we lunched at The Victoria Falls Hotel and that evening we danced with our Ingqungqulu Emnyama troupe. The last day at Zambezi Sands saw us canoeing on the Zambezi and our now-annual Spanish paella party on the beach next to the magnificent river. These memories will last a lifetime – but none stronger than those of the people we helped along the way.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Hwange's 'queen mum', Cotopaxi summit reopens and ditching the straw

Supermom Queenie is at it again - showing off a new litter of cubs to the
delight of Imvelo Safari Lodges guests! Photo by Desnee Joseph.

What's happening this week in the Kusini Collection:

Invigorating days of hiking are followed by the little luxuries
of glamping
Maya Trails: Your travelers to Guatemala can really get away from it all on Maya Trails' new four-day trek from Antigua to Lake Atitlan (recently profiled in The New York Times!). 27 miles of hiking lets visitors explore everything from sky-high ridge lines surrounded by volcanoes, to trails ambling through highlands, rivers, plantations and coffee fincas. Each night, hikers retire to the campfire for chef-prepared meals, then cozy up in high-tech tents (no cots here - real queen size beds with goose-down comforters!) for a peaceful night's rest. Mornings begin with delicious Guatemalan coffee before setting off on another day's adventure.

A private butler is just one of the perks of a stay at Kenya's
Alfajiri Villas
Albatros Travel: Albatros East Africa staff have been working hard to help us keep up with new property developments in Kenya and Tanzania. Later this month, Sanctuary Retreats will open a new mobile camp to follow the migration. The 10, 5-star tents at Sanctuary Kichakani will have a small ecological footprint. Other openings include Melia Serengeti Lodge in western Serengeti, as well as three stunning new villas on Diani Beach in Kenya. Villa guests need only to decide if they want the beach, lush gardens or a dramatic cliff as their villa setting. Read more on the Kusini blog.

Queenie and her cubs posing for the camera
Imvelo Safari Lodges: Fantastic news from Imvelo Safari Lodges - cheetah 'supermom' Queenie has a new litter of cubs! The first sightings of the 4 new adorable cubs were last week and were enjoyed with much excitement and fascination! The tiny cubs proved to be very photogenic while playing on the lush green plains, and proud mum Queenie watched cautiously over her little brood! The area around Camelthorn Lodge and Bomani Tented Camp is lucky to boast one of the highest concentrations of cheetah in Hwange, and Queenie leads the pack in beauty, elegance and mothering skills! Read more of this happy story here.

TOSEA is working to ditch plastic straws to help marine life
like this turtle hatchling
Todos Santos Eco Adventures: Todos Santos Eco Adventures is leading a drive to make their hometown, Todos Santos, a plastic straw-free destination. 5 of the world's 7 turtles species nest on the beaches of the Baja peninsula, and North America discards over 600 million plastic straws per day, most of which wind up in our oceans. It is not uncommon to find sea turtles with plastic straws stuck in their nostrils, inhibiting their ability to breathe. Todos Santos is an ocean-based town and TOSEA hopes that their efforts to make their town plastic straw-free will inspire visitors to take these practices back home to everyday life.

Ultimate's fun 'Guide in Training' packs include a backpack,
binoculars, a bug viewier and more!
Ultimate Safaris: Families who book a Namibia safari with Ultimate Safaris have a private vehicle and guide who will look after them from the start to finish. They also automatically qualify for Ultimate's special 'Guide in Training' program. Tailored for each family, the program aims to keep kids busy and entertained, and to ensure that they learn about what they see while on safari. Accommodations are selected for family friendliness, and safaris are designed with the high degree of flexibility that families often need. Kids will also receive a Guide in Training pack for their journey, customized for their age.

Conquering Cotopaxi's summit is nothing short of exhilarating
Tropic Ecuador: After a two year closure due to increased volcanic activity, authorities have reopened the summit of Cotopaxi volcano to climbing. Cotopaxi NP is Ecuador's most visited tourist attraction, and reaching the volcano's summit is a major draw for tourists. Tropic Ecuador's 8 day/7 night Mountain Guardians program lets visitors acclimate with time in Quito, as well as enjoy conditioning hikes and climbing lesser peaks in preparation for tackling the summit. Led by a climbing and naturalist guide, the trip is paced in a way that gives your clients the best chance to stand atop the summit and soak in the majestic Andes.

How much do you know about sloths?
Costa Rica Sun Tours: Who can resist a sloth? Considering Costa Rica is home to two of the world's six types, your chances are good to see them while out exploring with Costa Rica Sun Tours' eagle-eye guides! Did you know it can take up to 4 weeks for a sloth to digest one leaf? That they give birth upside down? How about that they sleep fourteen to eighteen hours a day! And they are known to be agile swimmers! Up your chances of sloth viewing by including Manuel Antonio, Monteverde Cloudforest, and Corcovado NP in your itinerary!

Ethiopian continues its technological development to make
travel easier
Travel Ethiopia: Ethiopian Airlines' new mobile app for Android has gone live. With the new app, customers will be able to use their mobile devices to book flights, check-in, issue their boarding pass, check their flight status, get up-to-date arrival and departure times and remain connected and informed throughout their journey in real-time. Customers using the app to book will enjoy a 10% discount on their flights. Travel Ethiopia reminds us that clients visiting Ethiopia who use Ethiopian Airlines as their international carrier receive a substantial discount on internal flights.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

New cheetah cubs in Hwange!

Fantastic news from Imvelo Safari Lodges in Zimbabwe - 'supermom' Queenie has a new litter of cheetah cubs! On a glorious game drive last week, the very first sightings of Queenie with her 4 new adorable cubs were enjoyed with much excitement and fascination! The tiny cubs proved to be very photogenic while playing on the lush green plains and proud mum Queenie watched cautiously over her little brood!

What a delight it has been to watch Queenie through the years, her tale, one of true triumph as a mom, she certainly has provided many Bomani and Camelthorn guests with hours of entertainment with her different litters. This green season, guests traveling through Imvelo's camps in the southeastern part of Hwange National Park will not be disappointed! The area is lucky enough to boast one of the highest concentrations of cheetah in Hwange, and Queenie certainly leads the pack in beauty, elegance and mothering skills!

Queenie’s first litter of 3 cubs was spotted in July 2014, and then right in the middle of the Bomani concession in May 2016, guests got the first look at her second litter of 5 cubs, which she had birthed on the concession a few weeks earlier. Lucky visitors and Imvelo staff watched her determinedly teaching the youngsters their serious trade, and remarkably 4 of the cubs survived and were frequently seen growing up on the concession. This beautiful little family gave some magical moments, notably setting a new southern African record of 5 cheetah in a tree! (at least until proved otherwise!)

Soon after that it was time for her second litter to disperse and her honeymooning period began but, the now 3 surviving young adults are still regularly spotted in and around Imvelo's concession, strong and healthy!

Everyone was hoping see this amazing supermom again, and so it was with enormous excitement last week that Queenie and her 4 new picture-perfect cubs were seen among the palm-dotted plains on the Bomani concession! These endearing little ones are about 6-8 weeks old and this will be one of their first appearances to the world and Imvelo staff are humbled and so very happy to be the first to have seen this new cheetah tribe and to have had another birth on their concession!

This certainly is one of the highlights of the year in Hwange! Keep an eye on Imvelo's Facebook page for more wonderful images and tales of this supermom and her beautiful baby cubs! Well done Queenie, you have done it yet again!

New litter photos by Bomani Tented Camp manager Desnee Joseph.

Monday, December 11, 2017

New East Africa properties

Albatros East Africa staff have been working hard in the field to keep us abreast of new property developments in Kenya and Tanzania. Here are the latest imminent openings.

Sanctuary Kichakani Serengeti (Tanzania)

Opening in December 2017, Sanctuary Retreats will launch their exclusive new camp Sanctuary Kichakani. The camp will be set in three locations across the Serengeti, and will follow the movement of the wildebeest migration to give clients ring-side seats to this spectacle. Offering accommodation under canvas with 10 new five-star tents with little impact on the environment. Kichakani will replace the current Sanctuary Migration Camp and with amazing rates for 2018, Albatros suggests keeping this property in mind for your guests.

Melia Serengeti Lodge (Tanzania)

A new lodge located towards the western Serengeti will open on December 20th. Each room will be 33 sqm and offer views over a watering hole or across the Serengeti plains, as well as being equipped with all the modern appliances. The facilities will include a pool, a fitness center and two restaurants. Rates will start from USD 235 per person, and if combined with their Zanzibar property, guests will receive an additional 10% off.

Alfajiri Villas (Kenya)

This stunning Diani Beach property is comprised of three completely unique villas which can be booked individually for honeymoons, romantic breaks or family adventures. Each villa includes a private butler and offers unrivaled exclusivity, impressive private swimming pools and stunning beach views. Villa stays offer something incredibly personal and special – no sharing, ultimate privacy and ultimate downtime. Rates will start from USD 420 per person per night.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Getting eye-level with volcanoes, toe-level with elephants and sleeping under the stars

Costa Rica Sun Tours gives guests the chance to check out spectacular wildlife
and volcano views from The Nest at Arenal Observatory Lodge and spa

What's happening this week in the Kusini Collection:

There's nothing like sleeping under the vast expanse of
a Namibian sky
Ultimate Safaris: Ultimate Safaris unquestionably leads the way on experience innovation in Namibia. Their newest offering is a multi-day naturalist guided walking adventure called //Huab Trails, based out of //Huab Under Canvas. //Huab Trails embraces the ever-growing desire by guests to be physically active when on holiday, and to experience more of the natural world on foot. It is an optional element of a three night stay at //Huab Under Canvas as part of an guided or fly-in safari. When //Huab Trails is requested, the first and third nights will be spent at //Huab Under Canvas, with the middle night at //Huab Trails and Ultimate's Stellar Escape, sleeping out under the stars. Get the full details on this special new experience here.

We love Manta...and so do all of the guests!
The Manta Resort: It's easy for us to keep raving about The Manta Resort and all that is offers, but from time to time, we think its worth sharing reviews of actual travelers. Here is an excerpt from a recent Trip Advisor review: "A vacation at The Manta Resort... has to be experienced and felt... it was the perfect dream vacation. The location is great, the area was beautiful, the food was delicious... above all, Manta impresses with its unique family and sustainability atmosphere... (Manta) is more than just a hotel, it's a philosophy... management has always been keen to work in harmony with the nature and culture of the people living there... (It) is absolutely worth the trip, we can recommend it without any reservations."

The CBC is a great opportunity for twitchers and novices
Todos Santos Eco Adventures: Todos Santos Eco Adventures will again be a key player in the third annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) for Todos Santos, and the 118th for the National Audubon Society. The CBC is a citizen science effort that has become hugely important for researchers studying bird populations across the Americas. The only other similar yardstick is the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), run during June in the breeding season. These surveys are used by ornithologists and conservation biologists to assess the health and distribution of bird populations across the Americas. Guests are invited to join the effort and we encourage planning ahead for future years, as the activity has already become popular for visitors.

The Nest gives guests the chance to be eye-level with the
rainforest wildlife
Costa Rica Sun Tours: Costa Rica Sun Tours' partner, the Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa, recently opened The Nest! A 92 ft. observation tower for viewing canopy birds and other wildlife. Nestled in the center of the rainforest, The Nest offers unparalleled wildlife viewing opportunities. As you ascend the 146 stairs to the top, keep your eyes peeled for monkeys, toucans, and other wildlife moving through the trees. Once on top, you will be treated to an incredible panoramic views of Arenal Volcano, Arenal Lake, Cerro Chato, and the TilarĂ¡n Mountain Range. With a telescope, you may even find some aquatic birds in the areas surrounding the lake. This experience can easily be added to any itinerary featuring the Arenal Observatory Lodge.

Imvelo's look-up blinds give the chance for once-in-a-
lifetime photos
Imvelo Safari Lodges: Internationally renowned photographer  Olwen Evans recently visited Imvelo Safari Lodges, knowing that Imvelo's two underground hides in Hwange are among the best hides in Africa to capture once-in-a-lifetime wildlife photographic moments! Olwen's main focus during her time in Hwange was to capture imagery and footage from the different hides and she was well rewarded!  Guests at Jozibanini, Camelthorn and Bomani can spend days or full moon evenings in the hide watching wildlife come down to drink, and super keen folks can even overnight in the blind! It's an incredible experience not available anywhere else in the National Park! Learn more on the blog.

It may look like Namibia, but it's South Africa's
Northern Cape
New Frontiers: If your clients are looking for something a bit different in South Africa, get them off-the-beaten-path in the dramatically beautiful Northern Cape. Highlights include the immense Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the rocky expanses of Augrabies, the wide open spaces of the Great Karoo, the Cederberg Mountains and the idyllic West Coast. Best of all, visitors will have many of these special places largely to themselves. New Frontiers has done all of the homework - visit the Agent Zone to learn about their discoveries in the Northern Cape.

San Marcos is a fabulous base from which to
explore Quito
Tropic Ecuador: Colorful, vibrant Quito is seeing a flurry of new openings! Tropic Ecuador tells us about three new boutique hotels, including the sleek and modern EB Hotel (not far from the airport), the historic Illa Experience Hotel in the San Marcos neighborhood, and the lovely and traditional Hotel Mama Cuchara, also in San Marcos. Along with these great options comes Elements, a new pop-up restaurant in the Cumbaya neighborhood. Elements will host rotating star chefs and will provide a culinary experience like no other in Quito! It's a great farewell dinner stop conveniently en route to a late flight. For more information, contact Andrea.

The migration is special, but the calving season is
pure magic!
Albatros Travel: An incredible opportunity to experience the calving season of the wildebeest migration is on offer from Albatros Travel on their Tanzania Trails set departure. Guests booking into the Feb 3rd departure we will visit some of Tanzania's classic highlights - Tarangire, the Crater and Serengeti - with the Serengeti portion based in the Ndutu area - the perfect location at that time of year to experience this amazing wildlife spectacle. This particular departure is at a fantastic price - it's an opportunity not to be missed! Contact Jennie for the full itinerary and pricing or to book.

Kyaninga's uber-fresh, delicious goat cheese helps
with child development
Classic Africa Safaris: Uganda's Fort Portal area is stunningly beautiful, and Kyaninga Lodge gives guests the chance to explore a bit with guided (or self-directed) walks around the lodge and its crater lake (guests can take a dip, too!). Classic Africa Safaris recommends an extra night to relax and enjoy the surroundings. One new option for those with time is to visit Kyaninga Dairy, started by the lodge's owners in conjunction with the community. Not only do they produce fabulous goat cheese (they consulted with Neil's Yard Creamery in London to get started!), the effort funds the Kyaninga Child Development Centre. Learn more about this wonderful project (and a bonus recipe!) on our blog.