Friday, December 18, 2015

Kusini Weekly Update - December 18th

'Tis the season for all things festive, and New Frontiers' resident Capetonian Jene Barnes, has the skinny on how to celebrate Christmas in South Africa's Winelands! Jene reveals the best spots to be spoiled with great food and wine without lifting a finger. Her guide is just one example of the kind of local knowledge and insider tips you'll find in the "Know Your Hood" section of the New Frontiers' Agent Zone. Whether it's the Christmas Day buffet menu jam-packed with decadent dishes at Grande Roche in Paarl, or a special Christmas-themed picnic basket at Rhebokskloof Wine Estate, there's a Christmas lunch for all tastes. We've posted Jene's Christmas in the Winelands guide on the Kusini blog here. And remember, now is the time to start planning your clients' 2016 festive season travels!

Chicabamba Mountain Lodge with the incredible
backdrop of Cotopaxi Volcano
After four months without overnight guests thanks to the huffing and puffing from Cotopaxi Volcano, Tropic Journeys reports that the National Park and Chilcabamba Mountain Lodge have received the green light from Ecuador's national authorities to re-open! This means that Tropic's pioneering lodge-to-lodge treks in the Cotopaxi region are operating once again as well. Tropic has been working with their local partners (ecolodges, haciendas, guides, and restaurants) and the authorities to develop safety protocols for all programs in the area. Contact Jasci for more information on these precautions. The re-opening Cotopaxi National Park is great news not just for travelers that want to explore it's amazing wonders, but also for the local communities and business that rely on tourism for their livelihoods.

Kenya government's recently announced a decision to waive visa fees for children to help attract family visitors to Kenya. In addition, the landing fee for charter airlines terminating their journey at the Kenyan coast has also been waived. Both incentives will run for two years. In light of that happy news, Albatros East Africa is offering an excellent 7 day Kenya Family Safari package for 2016. The safari includes fun activities in Karen (like hand-feeding an endangered Rothschild Giraffe & visiting baby elephants at the Daphne Sheldrick Animal Orphanage), a stay in Ol Pejeta that includes Big 5 game drives and a visit to Kenya's only chimpanzee sanctuary, as well as time at the well-known Karen Blixen Camp in the private Mara North Conservancy (includes a day in the Masai Mara with a picnic lunch). Email Caroline for more details on this family-centric safari.

The Toronto Star recently called Namibia 'as diverse as any destination on the planet' when listing its top 5 reasons to visit the country. Visiting Etosha for abundant wildlife, interacting with the Himba, climbing dunes at Sossusvlei, viewing the stars (it's one of the only gold-rated International Dark Sky reserves on earth!) and plunging into all of the adventure activities head-first are great suggestions from The Star, but they're just the tip of the iceberg! Ultimate Safaris' Fly-in and Private Guided Safari hits all of the aforementioned highlights, and also includes a scenic flight over the Diamond Coast, a visit to a UNESCO World Heritage Site and tracking desert-adapted elephants. Contact Colleen to learn more about this safari, available with either value or luxury accommodations.

Tikal was inhabited for 1,500 years until it was abandoned
during the 9th century.
Speaking of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Tikal National Park in Guatemala shelters the remains of one of the largest and most important cities in the pre-Hispanic history of the Maya civilization. Maya Trails' signature tour The Archaeologist, journeys across the ruins of this ancient civilization, spanning modern day Guatemala and Honduras. For clients who are especially passionate about Mayan history, an archaeologist-led tour of Tikal can be arranged as well as a visit by helicopter to an active archaeological dig at a remote Mayan site! Contact Adriana for more information.

Classic Africa Safaris is excited to report the reopening of a oldie but goodie game track in Murchison Falls National Park. Until recently, more than eighty percent of the parks' game drives and activities have been concentrated within barely a quarter of Uganda's largest park, all in the northern sector. With the reopening of the 'HoneyMoon' track (romantically named for a couple that spent the night on the newly created track in the 1950's), visitors now have access to the best game areas on the south side of the Nile river, easily accessible from Bakers or Nile Safari Lodge. The track also serves as an alternative route to Paraa or to the top of the Falls when entering the park from Masindi. The track is very good for savannah/acacia scrub birding and plains game, and lion and leopard are also resident.

Thirsty elephants drink from the swimming pool at
Imvelo's Nehimba Lodge in Hwange National Park
This week kicked off with a flourish in Zimbabwe with the opening of a new state-of-the-art terminal at Victoria Falls International Airport. Learn more about the project on Imvelo Safari Lodges' Facebook page. The vision is for the airport to become a gateway to Central and Southern Africa with the potential of long haul direct routes instead of flights via Johannesburg. In other Zim news, journalist Mark Sissons penned another fascinating story in The San Francisco Chronicle on Hwange's massive herds of thirsty elephants and Imvelo's efforts to keep them alive and thriving.

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