Safari adventure vacation, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique

Countries:
Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia
Price:
From €1985 (22 days) excluding flights
Local payment US $300. Single supplement €235. Price includes accommodation (18 nights camping, 3 nights casitas/chalets), park entrance fees, camping equipment, transport while on safari, meals as per itinerary, professional guides, canoe trip on the Lower Zambezi and Benguerra Island Excursion. Minimum age 12
Vouchers: accepted
Dates:
2014: 25 Oct, 8 Nov, 22 Nov, 6 Dec
2015: 7 Mar, 11 Apr, 9 May, 6 Jun, 27 Jun, 4 Jul, 18 Jul, 1 Aug, 15 Aug, 29 Aug, 12 Sep, 26 Sep, 10 Oct, 24 Oct, 7 Nov, 21 Nov, 5 Dec
Availability:
Check availability on all dates
Reviews:
1 review1 star rating
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Safari adventure vacation, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique

Responsible travel: Safari adventure vacation, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique

Environment

In the Luangwa Valley we stay at Wildlife Camp who donate 60% of their revenues to the Wildlife and Environmental Society of Zambia. The lodge is dedicated to the protection of the environment in the area, and the sustainable utilisation of this precious resource. All local communities are included in the running of South Luangwa National Park, so that they see the benefit of wildlife in a substantive way – providing employment and the access to opportunities of creating wealth cuts down on the possibility of poaching in the park and in the long term the conservation of wildlife in the area.

Wildlife interaction: In all wilderness areas (Lower Zambezi, South Luangwa & Kruger National Park) we educate our clients of the proper way to behave when we near wild animals. While some of the instructions might seem like common sense, in the excitement of the moment they are often forgotten. Keep still in the vehicles or when on foot, keep quiet, no sudden movements, and most of all never create a situation where the animal feels threatened. We gauge how close we can get to the animal by how they react to the group's presence. In many instances, the best option is to keep still, and quite and very often the animal will approach the vehicle or group to satisfy their own curiosity.

Scuba Diving: On this tour tour, we have 3 chances along the way to enjoy scuba diving and snorkeling. Lake Malawi, Vilanculos & Inhambane. While most people who scuba dive have a healthy respect for the under-water environment, the tour leaders and local dive masters always remind divers not to touch any of the coral as it can cause irreparable damage, not to take anything from the ocean, and not to interfere with the aquatic life. We also follow a strict policy of not allowing anyone to dive who does not have the correct qualifications, and proof thereof to dive. Snorkelers are given the same instructions of how to behave with the aquatic life.

Low Impact tourism:
- Maximum group size of 12 clients & minimum of 4 clients, means that at all destinations visited, we do not “over run” the place that large groups can. Smaller groups create an intimate safari experience, and means that when we interact with local cultures and stay in environmentally sensitive areas, we do not leave a large footprint.
- Camping safaris mean that the environmental impact of your visit are kept to a bare minimum. We stay in designated campsites, and we leave each campsite in the same pristine condition when we leave. Camping safaris leave a very small footprint.
- Cooking on gas when feasible so that we don’t have to burn firewood which depletes limited resources (particularly in desert environments – Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Nxai Pan National Park & Makgadikgadi Pans National Park).
- Requesting clients to purchase small wooden carvings curio instead of large pieces, again to conserve the forests around the carving markets.
- Ensuring that we take all of our rubbish out of wilderness areas and use proper waste disposal facilities on all tours (and in the workshop). Bottled Water: We encourage clients to drink the local clean drinkable tap water wherever possible in order to minimize the amount of plastic bottle waste produced by the purchase of bottled drinking water.

Community

Local guides: We use local guides on several occasions on this safari. Our canoe safari on the Zambezi River is guided by local guides who live in the area. They have intimate knowledge of the river, it's wildlife and the area. Most of them were born in the area, and have used the river for fishing for most of their lives. In South Luangwa our guides who take us on game drives and game walks all come from the community that live in the area that surround this national park. On Lake Malawi we take boat ride to the islands, and the boat is owned by the local people and the guides come from the community where we stay. The same is true of the Dhow ride to view Benguerra Island.

Food: All food and drinks on tour are bought in local grocery stores and fresh produce markets which creates economic activity directly from tourism. In Malawi & Mozambique, there are very few grocery stores, so the majority of food bought on tour is from local markets which are the only place for the subsistence farms to sell their excess produce. When eating at local restaurants we always try to take them to locally owned and run restaurants – no large restaurant chains.

Local crafts and produce: At all local markets where fresh produce and crafts are sold and produced, we encourage the clients to barter with the local people. This not only allows the clients to get involved with the local way of life, and interact directly with the local people, but also provides them a platform to experience local life first hand. Having said that, we explain to the clients by bartering too hard for a good deal might seem like a lot of money at the time, but if the amount being haggled over is converted to either US$, Euro or GBP, it amounts to very little. This is the local livelihood and we advise them to keep this in mind at all times.

Accommodation: All campsites and accommodation used along the way is locally owned, and only employ local people. This provides direct benefits to local people through employment, and also the provision of food and services in the local campsites & accommodation.

Charities: In Maun we support Sibandas Fine Art & Fabrics. This is a local community initiative to employ local women who produce hand crafted fabrics. This is a non-profit organisation, and all visits from our groups generate some revenue for the charity and if any clients buy some of the products, it ensures that the charity remains self sufficient.

Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre: We assist a wildlife rehabilitation centre in Springs, outside Johannesburg. Judy Davidson runs a licensed rehab centre from a small holding. She is an amazing person, dedicating her life to the welfare of animals and makes enormous personal sacrifices to live on this plot and care for sick and injured birds. A variety of birds are cared for, from injured barbets, doves, and crows to a brown snake eagle, a gymnogene, and a spotted eagle owl. All birds are treated in a small makeshift clinic, and then kept in aviaries until they have recovered. Once able to fly, or care for themselves again, they are moved to a “flight” aviary, for a period until they have regained strength. They are then released back into the wild. Those birds which are unable to be released are kept in large aviaries and fed through various donations. We assist the project with donations of practical equipment including shade netting, paint, etc. These are used to repair and maintain several of the existing aviaries.

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The story of the provider of Safari adventure vacation, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique

We began in 1994 when Bruce and I met at university in South Africa. We both had guiding experience and began by developing camping trips to take travelers deep into the national parks to areas less explored. We have a passion for responsible travel so when we leave a campsite we leave no trace that we were ever there. The company has evolved with our clients and we realised that they were looking for a little more comfort so we developed trips that offered the same amount of adventure but within lodges rather than tents. Recently, we took it one step further creating expedition trips that are totally of the beaten track for our most intrepid followers. We now have 2500 travelers a year joining our camping, expedition and accommodation tours. With 20 years experience you would be hard pushed to find someone who knows Southern Africa quite like us! Sean and Bruce

Safari adventure vacation, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique

Reviewed 07 Mar 2012 by Rebecca Scaife1 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Horse riding on the beach in Mozambique and elephant back riding - both of which you have to organise and pay for yourself as an extra activity.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Don't go with this company - we had the most awful experience with them; inedible food, the tents provided had holes in them so they leaked and let mosquitos and other insects in, the bus was falling apart, the window smashed in on us and the roof leaked, the guides had no knowledge of the places we visited and treated us appallingly - we were treated disgustingly by them. We were given an itinerary when we booked which changed to lower quality facilities when we arrived at some of the places.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


No, we were extremely disappointed with the fact that all of the trip kitty was spent in cheap supermarkets on packaged, poor quality food instead of purchasing fresh produce from local sellers in markets, at the roadside etc. Only one campsite donates money to the local community and wildlife trust - the travel company donates nothing. The safaris felt like an intrusion to the wildlife, getting too close, disturbing the leopard hunting etc - unlike any safari I have been on before where you sit back and watch from a distance.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Extremely disappointing - I consider myself to be a good traveler with a sense of humour who can get on with basic facilities, bad weather, delays etc. But I cannot stand being conned and ripped off the way I was by this company.

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Rebecca

Thank your for your patients in waiting for a reply to e complaint message. No we don't just use the good comments from the client reports for our websites, and we do take into account all clients comments on the tour standards and accommodation when we design the tours for our next seasons brochures.

I am truly sorry that you feel we did not provide you with a fulfilling value for money vacation that we have become known for thought the industry. We have been operating tours in Southern Africa since 1994 and in Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi for over 10 years. The current itinerary of the Trade Route tour we have been operating successfully for 5 years. So we do have valid travel experience in Southern Africa. With regards our customer service it sometimes takes extra time in order to get clearer picture for the reply after interviewing the guides, inspecting the vehicle and equipment personally. So once again please accept my apologies for the delay in reply.

I will attempt to cover all of the points you have raised below.

I truly do not believe that our dossier and website are filled with untruths.

The departure of the tour you were booked on was not a German departure. We do not allow English speaking agents to sell the German departures or allow English speaking clients to travel on our German departures due to the language issues. On our German departures we have Guides that speak German or translators which interpret for the clients. Neither of the guides that took you on the tour speak German either. Sometimes it works out that we have a greater proportion of clients that book onto a tour from one country. With the way some of the booking systems work, sometimes we don't find out the nationality of the clients until a month before departure in which case it is too late to change anything.

All the briefings and information given by Chris and Cecile would have been in English. The guides should have initiated all discussions in English and have all of the route briefings in English as our brochure is in English and all of theGuides documentation is in English as well. I can understand at it could be frustrating to not understand the discussions around the campfire if the German clients were chatting in their native younger. I do guides training every year to try and deal with how the guides are to try and get the group to discussions back into English if we have a dominant language in the group.

Our safari trucks have been traveling around Africa for the past 10 years. They are our own particular design and have been copied by a number of other operators in Africa and Australia. The Safari trucks are reliable and purpose built to offer large windows for game viewing and getting you closer to the country you are visiting and still be able to carry equipment, luggage, water, food, fuel and our clients in safe and convenient transport. During your tour the vehicle that you used leaked. A problem that has occurred before and a problem that we are trying to solve and fix. We have had the suspension checked by professionals at Toyota that service our fleet and they have reported that the suspension is in working order. However I did inspect the vehicle on its return and found that there were problems with the hatch windows and this vehicle has been sent back to the manufacturer to have the hatch windows replaced. I disagree that the windows break often but them I suppose that depends on your definition of often, once every six months due to stones thrown up rough road conditions and careless clients. However they do break occasionally during tours and due to the fact that the windows are custom built to our specifications they are not readily available in the more remote parts of Africa, and that is why we carry a Perspex replacement in every vehicle, behind the last row of seats. Every truck has one, as it was not Chris' usual truck he might not have realized that there was a replacement plastic window available. The safari trucks are all sent through roadworthy once a year for our licensing requirements. We have 14 trucks which all suit the purposes of traveling in southern africa. It is unfortunate that the window shattered next to you and I and thank fully you were not hurt more seriously. I am not sure why the guides did not stop for you to get rid of the glass or offer you a chance to get the glass out of your clothing. Chris is one of the,out helpful people I know and if he knew you had glass in your clothing I am sure he would have stopped. I have spent plenty of time traveling n my vehicles and I am of the opinion that they do the job we need them to do. I have sent e vehicle back to the manufacturers to consider how to fix the leaks at is stage. Please go ahead and contact the road safety authorities in South Africa, as I stated before all of our vehicles have full maintenance records and are as according to the rules receive a road worthy certificate annually in accordance with the laws. I agree that the wet inside of the vehicle would have caused an inconvenience and uncomfortable traveling environment and I apologies for this.

I agree with your comments about the tents. I personally inspected the tents and unfortunately coming towards the end of a very busy year for us, the checking of the tents was not done correctly. Tents with the small holes in the base should not have gone on tour. We do check that the tents prior to each tour leaving. I am very sorry to say that the system we have used for many years has let us down and provided you with substandard tents for this tour. I have repeatedly objected to lodges and camps that upgrade our guides accommodation as I firmly believe that the guides should be in the same accommodation as our clients.

The weather in December is great. The rainy season that our brochure refers to is the period between mid January and end of March where the coastline of Mozambique is threatened by cyclones making touring dangerous. The brochure makes it clear that the walking activity in South Luangwa is replaced by another activity in green season due to safety concerns with thick vegetation.

We do pride ourselves in giving clients great meals. All our guides cook brilliant meals. Chris has taken myself, my parents (separate tours)and many other clients on tour that have raved about his cooking. I think that Cecile has made some comments during the tour that were not thought through very well. We do not run a food kitty. The US $300 that was paid as part of local payment covers more than food. It covers various expenses including local guides, entrances, fuel and on some tours accommodation that are paid in cash in country.

We do have a commitment to sustained and responsible tourism. However purchasing food from local producers is only a small part of e commitments to employing local guides, training local guides, supporting educational initiatives, responsible use of firewood and our initiative to stop the utilizing of the Sausage Trees in the Okavango Delta for Mokoros, all of e accommodation venues used on this tour with the exception of the Kruger National Park are locally owned and managed and employ local people, and our support of these venues as apposed to some of the chain accommodation venues mean that your accommodation supports local jobs employment and sustained initiatives through the four countries you travelled. The conservation fees that we pay for you in Zambia, Mozambique and in South Africa help to conserve wildlife areas. Sustained tourism is a practice we work hard at. We employ all of our guides permanently so that even during the rainy season or the quiet seasons these men and woman can support their families. We select the accommodation venues carefully with respect to their responsible tourism and employment practices. We also support these venues continuously so that they are not left high and dry during quiet seasons. We directly support a number of training and responsible tourism schemes. I will talk to Chris about making more use of the local produce from road side stalls. However some of our clients do not believe that this produce is safe and he might have erred on the cautious side.

Chris has worked for us since 2007 and has extensive wildlife and cultural knowledge of Southern Africa. Cecile unfortunately has travelled on six tours in her training and we have decided that she is not quite cut out for the mobile safari i operation. Her conservation knowledge is impressive but her ability to deal with the issues that occur on the road has let us down. I always try to give the newer guides the benefit of the experienced guides knowledge but in is case Cecile's attitude shows she might be suited to another roles in the conservation field.

We provide two guides on the tour. Chris has been to Malawi many times before and has guided in Malawi before therefore we expect our guides to use their knowledge and strengths during the tours. When we send two guides on a tour they are to compliment each other. It seems that on this occasion it did not happen. Chris should have found you time at a bank, however in the touring schedule it can be difficult to find banks during the limited banking hours, particularly in Mozambique where banks are only open between 9-11 weekdays.

We reply on clients to go to their guides if they have a problem. It is not our idea that the response would be aggressive and explosive but because the guides are the most qualified to deal with it. Only if they feel they can't do they then contact the office. In this case Chris felt he was being repeatedly attacked and there was an element in the group that was not being as co-operative in a difficult situation which lead to the situation being uncomfortable for everyone.

Cecile's attitude was out of line on this tour. I did speak to Chris on four different occasions during this tour.

Our office made an administrative error when it booked the group into the last nights accommodation in Kruger NP. Again Cecile's obvious lack of maturity at this point has lead to her being dismissed. I absolutely forbid guides to converse between each other in any language but English. This is due to the kind of reaction you experienced when Cecile spoke Afrikaans. Chris made the call to the office once he realized that the accommodation did not match in his reservation list as to your documentation and our office sorted out the issue and moved the group to a nearby camp with the correct facilities.

I am sorry that you felt that you had to isolate yourself from theGuides at this stage of the tour which is arguably a highlight of the tour. Our guide training courses work on how problems are meant to be solved but it seems that most of the training was not employed at this point by Chris and that Cecile did not try hard enough to fix the situations.

We book day trips for our clients while they are in Johannesburg primarily to Soweto Township. If you had contacted the office Tamlyn would have gladly booked the tour for you, even on the weekend when we are available to sort out these tours as we operate them mostly on Saturdays and Sundays anyway. I apologies for Cecile giving you misleading information and for Chris not stepping in to correct her.

There are few tours on the road that offer as much included in their itineraries as we do for this tour. And I find it very upsetting that you feel you did not get good value for money from our safari, as offering a good value for money product is what we have concentrated on for many years.

As I mentioned in my previous emails my parents travelled with Chris a few years ago to Botswana and couldn't praise him highly enough for his guiding skills. They did this anonymously as they didn't want to be singled out especially on the trip.

I will definitely consider more checks and balances on the trips lead with Chris to make sure they are being lead at the correct standard and to get an independent opinions on the tour.

I will also look into different guide lines for the guides when dealing with problem situations and difficult situations with customers.

I too expect our guides to be professional and courteous however they do have to deal with some difficult situations and sometimes do have to put their " foot down" with invariably will end up in an unhappy or dissatisfied customer at times. However this is thankfully a vary rare occurrence.

I don't feel the guides during is trip did not look after your health and safety.

I am always unhappy when my clients are unhappy. I started the business many years ago with the goal of having fantastic adventures in Africa. And for 99.9 percent of our clients this is exactly what we do. On is particular tour things seem to have not worked out correctly. The equipment on the tour was not up to the correct quality and has been replaced (particularly the tents). The vehicle faults in its leaks are being fixed by the manufacturer. The guides whom could have dealt with some of the situations differently have been dealt with and Chris has been give a warning about taking responsibility for his tours and Cecile has been relieved of duty.

Again my sincere apologies.

Regards

Shaun Waring-Jones.
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25 Oct 2014
€1985
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08 Nov 2014
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22 Nov 2014
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06 Dec 2014
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07 Mar 2015
€2095
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11 Apr 2015
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09 May 2015
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06 Jun 2015
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27 Jun 2015
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04 Jul 2015
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18 Jul 2015
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01 Aug 2015
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15 Aug 2015
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29 Aug 2015
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12 Sep 2015
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26 Sep 2015
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10 Oct 2015
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24 Oct 2015
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07 Nov 2015
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21 Nov 2015
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05 Dec 2015
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Small group adventure vacation

Typically you will be sharing your experiences with between 4-20 like minded travelers (depending on the trip, operator and how many others are booked on the trip) and you'll have a group leader with you. Whether you are traveling alone or with friends its good value, and a great way to meet new people! While itineraries are pre-planned there is some flexibility and you'll have plenty of privacy. This trip will appeal to travelers of all ages who enjoy meeting new people as well as seeing new places.

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