Yesterday Felix wrote to Viv at 2BWild – ecstatic about his trip just completed, to the Chobe National Park, the Caprivi strip, and the Okavango pan-handle in Botswana.
The natural beauty and proliferation of African wildlife in these regions is truly exquisite. Such a trip requires careful planning and specific knowledge about where (and how) to go, and what, when (and how) to see. This is what Viv at 2BWild does so very well.
Typically, along with the vibrant African sunsets and never-ending bushveld, vleis and riverine forest, one will be sure to encounter large herds of Elephant with their young lazily crossing the Chobe River; Buffalo congregations of 400 and more browsing in the reeds, more often than not with a pride of Lion lurking in the vicinity plotting the kill; the elusive Lechwe antelope; the majestic Fish Eagle; large pods of Hippo exchanging their constants snorting of jokes; important herds of the rare Roan and Sable antelope; the unusual Puku; the shy and rare Chobe Bushbuck; with a bit of luck or good spotting eyes – a Leopard snoozing in a jackalberry tree; and most importantly – an abundance of birdlife.
Included in Felix’s group’s activities on this trip was:
-A Mokoro (traditional African canoe) trip, poling through quiet inlets and estuaries of the Okavango River, closely exploring the riverine areas in search of the secretive Pel’s Fishing Owl and the diversity of other birdlife. Hippo and Elephant observations from this water-level-vantage-point are undoubtedly a lifetime experience, never to be forgotten.
– And an island hike on the pristine game-filled terra-firma of the Okavango Delta.
Felix and his group comprised a party of seven adults and two children,
travelling in three well-equipped four-wheel drive vehicles.
From: felix To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Wonderful holiday Date: Sat, 23 Jul 2016 06:42:52 +0000 Hi Viv We’re back in SA and had a WONDERFUL trip in Botswana. All worked out well and we enjoyed some of the new things we did. I have attached a few photo’s for your records. Thank you sooo much for the trip advice, planning and booking – it was much appreciated by the whole group. Kind regards
All too soon we were whisked away from Ras Michamvi and the south-east coast by our driver, Hashim, in another of our specially appointed transfer and tour company Babou Tours’ wonderfully comfortable silver Toyota 8-seater air-conditioned taxis. Via the villages of Michamvi and Paje we cruised, first westwards then northwards up the centre of the island towards Nungwe Village situated at the northern tip of the island. Passing through rice and sugar cane fields, and endless coconut and palm plantations. Passing bicycles, Dulla-Dulla’s filled with European tourists and locals plied through the rural villages and mini-markets, and we arrive at our destination Lang Langi a mere hour and a half later.
At Reception, we were given the keys to our room. Porters led us through a beautiful Zanzibari door, up one flight of stairs and we found we were only one of two rooms in this part of the building. The view through our windows completely took our breath way as the door opened and we took in the exquisite azure aqua vista of ocean which stretched to the horizon, with vessels of all kinds dotted around at anchor: a yacht or two, dhows, dive-boats and fishing vessels. We entered our spacious sea-facing double-room, complete with a colourful, flower-decorated Zanzibari four-poster bed with mosquito net, wardrobe, desk/chair with tea/coffee making station, upholstered chairs, antique couch, table and mini-fridge. The bathroom is entered through a swing door and spans the width of the room with a lovely spacious shower.
We discovered that the waves were gently lapping right beneath our room and that we were very centrally-situated in Nungwe Village with resorts stretching for a mile or two on either side of us. Although we were on the northern tip of Zanzibar, we were in fact facing the sunset. We couldn’t wait to explore!
We took a long walk south down the beach and back through the dusty roads and alleys of the village, where we spent lazy time bargaining for a patterned shirt, a sarong and beautiful beadwork. The resort restaurant was directly below our room on a wooden deck supported on wooden stilts above the ocean. Each morning we breakfasted there in style on a typical Zanzibari menu – fruit, coffee, juice and omelettes with toast and sausages.
The weather was perfect and we descended the restaurant stairs straight into the warm, transparent waters for a swim, laughing for the pure joy of being in such a paradise, floating along over the gently undulated waves – what heaven!
Each morning we’d watch the dive-boats go out, returning a few hours later with happy divers and snorkellers climbing down into the shallow sea, unpacking equipment to get ready for the next trip out to the reef, which we heard is around 12 m deep.
We bought wine and beer at a tiny grocery store for sun-downers on our balcony, visited the Bureau de Change to exchange Dollars for Shillings, which are more commonly used in the markets, and we dine on seafood in the evenings at a couple of very beautiful restaurants all facing out over the sea, listening to the waves gently lapping against the rock walls. One evening, we walked past resorts and hotels along a paved pathway to the far north and enjoyed a Mojito in the moonlight, sitting at a little table in the sand in the middle of a small beach with not a soul anywhere near us.
During our stay, we hired bicycles and rode along dusty, bumpy roads down the coast to visit the luxury Ras Nungwe resort which we’d been invited to visit. We were met by the typically friendly staff and the reservationist who seemed to be in charge and were shown around a fabulous, up-market and large resort with rolling lawns, colourful tropical gardens, beautifully-appointed accommodation, sparkling pool and long stretch of powdery white beach.
Our last evening was spent, once again, on a sunset dhow trip for an hour and a half, this time on a much larger vessel with seats below and upstairs and four men in attendance. We were joined by another couple and sun-downers were poured as we skimmed along, sail flapping, looking down through the transparent azure ocean to the smooth white sand below while the sun, a fiery red ball, gradually dipped beneath the horizon.
That night all was quiet as the restaurant closed at 10 PM as we listened to the gently lapping waves beneath us, lulling us into a deep, happy sleep enclosed by our mosquito netting, with door and windows wide open to the gentle sea breeze.
Another chapter of our journey has come to an end all too soon!
Frank and his group comprising two vehicles, two sets of parents and their two young girls, have just returned from their 2BWild-organised safari to Mana Pools in Zimbabwe.
“What a great trip, enjoyed by all as a terrific experience,” said Frank. “Thank you Viv for organising this trip for us.”
“The ferry crossing at Kazangula was a good experience, and only ZAR200 – they prefer Rands to Dollars here.”
Frank and party also took a day trip to Victoria Falls. “This was excellent and a must for anybody going that route, the Falls are simply amazing.”
“Mana Pools #20 is the best camp site we have ever had right on the Zambezi River and the animal interactions there were great. Even though there was lots of water around and the river was huge, there was no grazing due to the drought – therefore no grazers were around and so no predators, no cats, buffalo, wildebeest, – even zebras were scarce. But the area is superb, the scenery, trees and bird life is outstanding and the drives are good with brilliant river views.”
The road into Mana Pools was a different story though. Frank found this in very poor condition, but with signs that improvements were about to commence. However, the roads inside Mana are in good condition.
Mana here we come! [2BWild is visiting Mana Pools in July 2017 with trusty travel companions Rob and Di Wybrow and Johan and Elmare Kriel from Namibia]
Visiting this part of Zanzibar is truly a study in understanding the depth and meaning of words and phrases such as: idyllic; tranquil; island style; Hakuna matata; culture; guest comfort; azure waters; mystical island cuisine; relaxation and friendship.
The south-eastern peninsula region of Zanzibar is remote, quiet and peaceful. It comprises the nearby village of Michamvi, the most remote village in Zanzibar, as well as a few lodges set amongst the ever-present coconut trees. The local people are very friendly and helpful, always offering a ready smile and “Jambo” or “Mambo” at every turn.
We soaked up this part of the island for a full four nights and four days – the perfect length of stay to begin unwinding.
To start planning your personalised dream holiday to Zanzibar click here:
“After a pleasant flight with SAA we touched down at Julius Nyerere International Airport, Dar es Salaam and were met by our friendly driver, Hassan, waving a board with our names on it. En route through the heavy and chaotic local traffic to our overnight stop at Kijiji Beach Resort we chatted with Hassan, who gave us much insight into the workings of Dar and Zanzibar – Hakuna matata! .. is the all-encompassing local phrase – meaning No worries.
Here we stayed in a canvas and wood “banda” with a coconut palm-leaf roof. Tiny but fine for a $60 overnighter, and situated right on a lovely beach. The food was good with a beach seafood braai served, however the service was extremely slow. To top it all as we retired for the night there was a power cut and a huge generator started up seemingly right inside our room! Unable to sleep John went back to the beach not a happy chappy. So this venue gets a firm thumbs down.
We had arrived during the early stages of Ramadan, a little uncertain about what to expect, but were well prepared nonetheless following weeks of research. Yet at 04:00 on our first morning we were startled awake for the first time by the wailing, eerie tones of the muezzins in the surrounding mosques calling people to prayer. Known as an Adhan, this evocative series of calls in the mornings and evenings echoing across the towns and villages was soon to become quite soothing for us – no matter what the time of day or night.
Our friendly transfer driver Hassan fetched us early to take us to our Zanzibar ferry. Along the way he suggested “the ocean route,” which incorporated crossing the harbour on the “local ferry” – which has a bottomless capacity for a pressing throng of people which we estimated at about 2 000; in addition to motor cars, taxis, scooters and motorbikes. This ferry runs non-stop back and forth all day. Certainly an experience of a lifetime but most certainly not recommended!
From there a short drive brought us to the Azam Marine ocean ferry port. Although these ferries are really modern, powerful and fast high-tech vessels, we found the over-attentive army of porters overwhelming – both at the Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar ferry ports – to the extent that we recommend that our clients either fly in to Zanzibar from the Dar es Salaam airport, or fly direct to Zanzibar from Johannesburg, thus avoiding the ferry.
On our arrival in Zanzibar we cleared passport control to find our next transfer driver, the very pleasant Abdalla, waiting to take us off on a 90 minute drive to Ras Michamvi Beach Resort on the south-east coast in his very comfortable Toyota air-conditioned cab, chatting all the way about local conditions and customs.
What an exhilarating experience driving through the town of Zanzibar, before getting out onto the “open road.” The roads and traffic buzzed with activity as we sped past markets, villages, quaint shops and stalls and coconut forests.
Upon our arrival at Ras Michamvi Beach Resort, we were given a welcome most royal by Wilimina the resort manageress, and Bashiru, the accounts assistant. And we were promptly ushered to Room No 1 – their very best. This hotel has arguably the best view of all in Zanzibar, set high on a peninsula ridge overlooking the tranquil azure Indian ocean and coral reef below – it is a physically breath-taking sight at first view.
We relaxed with sundowners on our sea-facing verandah set amongst the lush well-kept tropical gardens, overlooking one of the two sparkling infinity pools.
Wi-fi is available in the dining-room for those needing to take care of urgent business or family communications during their stay.
Prawns and chicken breast and Chardonnay were our choice for dinner in the huge beautifully appointed open-air thatched dining area.
Later that evening we were fortunate enough to watch the resident Barn Owls darting around in the trees in front of us scooping up insects on the wing.
On our first morning, a bracing fresh coffee was served by the amazing Elisha in the dining room. A refreshing walk along the pristine, deserted beach followed before we returned to a lovely breakfast of fresh tangy fruit juice, tropical fruit, Spanish omelettes (a Zanzibar speciality) and toast.
A lazy walk along the adjacent Bao Beach was truly inspiring and relaxing, with an array of interesting bird-life on the rocks, rock-walking with plenty of inlets around the tip of the peninsula and then back to the front beach.
The rock pools at low tide enabled hours of exploring, dodging the myriad sea-urchins and soaking up the azure tranquillity.
We’d arranged a dhow trip for sunset which was quite amazing and “technically” very enlightening considering this ancient mode of ocean transport. En route we passed resorts along the way, stopping for a short walk in the nearby mangrove forest.
Throughout our stay the staff of Ras Michamvi insisted that we consider this “home-from-home” and that they are our Zanzibar family. Their hospitality is unprecedented in all our travels at home and abroad – ever! Truly such a wonderful team.
We also visited the renowned Jozani Forest – at $80 and a $5 tip for guide it was a worthwhile experience. The majestic red mahogany and apple trees are home to Squirrels, the Black Monkey and Red Colobus Monkeys – which are very social and curious, following your trail through their canopy all the while with babies and youngsters in tow. Bird-life in the forest was a tad disappointing with much heard but little seen, as was the nearby mangrove swamp, which showed beautiful well-established and strong mangrove trees – yet strangely very little life within, in the form of the mangrove-crabs.
A huge splash out later (even though it was low tide) at the world famous “The Rock” restaurant. For an exorbitant US$40 each we were doled up a very basic pre-prepared meal, but certainly well worth the experience of being there.
During our stay we were privileged to meet Axel Imhoff, the head chef of the neighbouring Qamboni luxury resort. He was kind enough to arrange for us to visit to Qamboni where his colleague, Priscilla, showed us around. A very impressive five star retreat indeed, most certainly worth a four day stay escape.
All too soon it was time for us to leave Ras Michamvi. In our short stay we had developed very close ties with our new “Zanzibari family”; Wilimina, Bashiru, Namir, Elisha, Sabi, Zai, Zebi, Mash Mash and their colleagues. Thank you all so very much for your homely hospitality.”
We will be back !
To start planning your personalised dream holiday to Zanzibar click here:
Part 3 of our journey, the northern region of Zanzibar, follows.
Zanzibar: An exquisite, mysterious, unforgettable tropical island destination.
As promised the 2BWild Safari team visited Zanzibar this month (9-19 June 2016) with a view to exploring this beautiful mysterious island and to establish at first-hand the right destinations, advice, recommendations and transfers for you, our clients.
Our expectations were far exceeded as our trip unfolded, revealing ever-breathtaking sequences of tranquillity, history, spicy culture, friendly people, and – most of all – the most stunning ocean and beach vistas.
Best of all, access from Johannesburg is an easy 3 1/2 hour flight, and your dream holiday is underway.
To make it happen, do what we did: book one aspect right away, such as the flight or a portion of the accommodation twelve months in advance – and the rest will fall into place progressively. The best thing about this approach is that one’s life then revolves around that commitment, and as each aspect is firmed up and paid, one ends up on the departure date with a fully paid trip :).
Tip: Mango fly direct to Zanzibar and you can book early online, making the airfare cheaper. We are also most happy to assist you with your flight bookings.
Our travels began on the remote and quiet east coast of Zanzibar – the perfect spot for a relaxed and tranquil tropical break; we then moved on to the vibey beach metropolis of the northern tip of the island, Nungwe village and surrounds; and rounded our visit off in the ancient alleyways and markets of Stone Town.
This island has a special something to suit everyone, and is certainly a destination for every bucket-list.
Click here to begin your journey. List your preferences, including the dates required and number of people, and we’ll work with you in personalising your itinerary.
Part 1 : Trip overview Part 2 : The south-east coast and Jozani Forest Part 3 : The north – Nungwe Village Part 4 : Stone Town Part 5 : Scuba diving and snorkelling Part 6 : Trip advice
2BWild Zanzibar operations 2BWild Safaris works with specific hotels and resorts, transfer and tour operators and dive centres to suit your budget. Your friendly drivers will meet you on schedule and transport you in air-conditioned comfort to your next destination or activity. 2BWild has done the research with a view to making your visit smooth and unforgettable.
A new 2BWild Seven Day Tour in the making– the perfect adrenaline rush of Africa.
By John Thomé, chief cook and bottle-washer, 2BWild Safaris
Viv and I of 2BWild Safaris undertook this short but exciting recce trip to the beautiful north east corner of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa in March 2016 – with the objective of plotting not only an interesting route to and from the area, but to explore and freshen up on first-hand and current information about the region – which we both know quite well already – and to polish this new 2BWild tour for our foreign visitors
Our carefully planned route takes us through the most scenic areas, using the road less travelled wherever possible. Our accommodation throughout is carefully selected, cosy and inviting. Viv, as always, had researched our accommodation thoroughly and made all the bookings. And our professional hand-picked guides along the way share with us their deep and unsurpassed knowledge of the flora, fauna and history of these areas – as they will on your tour.
Bird-life in these areas is undoubtedly the most abundant in South Africa, with over 430 species recorded.
The beginnings of the 2BWild KZN Birding Tour
Our three hour drive from Johannesburg to Wakkerstroom is smooth and uneventful. En route, the plains of the South African Highveld give way to gently rolling hills of the Mpumalanga province.
The tiny town of Wakkerstroom is steeped in history and our quaint cottage, which overlooks the expansive wetland area, is welcoming, homely and most comfortable. [You too will love it.]
Having arrived at midday we’re ready for our first wetland tour with our guide. His excellent birding knowledge and amenable character makes for a very relaxed and productive afternoon, as he confidently points out an extensive variety of bird species along the way.
We return to our cottage pleasantly tired, ready for an early dinner and our trip to Mkuze reserve the next day.
That evening we were visited by the resident Spotted Eagle Owl, who glided silently down onto the front lawn in search of insects.
Morning dawns cool and misty, a perfect day for our three hour scenic drive into the province of KwaZulu-Natal to the Mkuze reserve – home of the magical Fig and Fever Tree Forest.
A pleasant drive all the way and upon our arrival the friendly staff check us in to our simple but cosy bungalow. Right nearby is a well equipped communal kitchen, as well as basic but clean ablutions with really good water pressure in the showers and piping hot water.
We spend a quiet afternoon exploring the serenity of some of the recently upgraded bird-hides and enjoy sundowners with the Flamingos.
In the morning our guide is ready and waiting for us at 6AM to take us off to the enchanting riverine Fig and Fever Tree Forest – which is part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site – renowned for its scenic beauty, its massive Sycamore Fig trees, rich diversity of African birdlife and wildlife.
On our 40 minute drive through the park our guide points out interesting bird species along the way,
and relates the sightings reported the previous day on this route, where visitors had seen a female Cheetah with her two cubs, as well as a resident pride of Lion.
Arriving at the forest area, we now make our way into the riverine forest on foot. As this is Big Five 1 country our guide, who is also rifle qualified, takes the lead as we follow quietly in single file.
The eerie silence of the forest pervades as we move steadily through the deep undergrowth and towering Sycamores. The child-like cries of the Trumpeter Hornbill and the raucous Purple-Crested Lourie (Turaco) echo through the canopy as we sway across the first of two beautifully constructed swing bridges.
The second of these swing bridges crosses the Mkuze River, which the recent drought has sadly reduced to mere ponds – one of which houses a pod of six grumpy Hippo. Known as Africa’s most dangerous animal, the Hippo is to be well respected. Our guide chaperones us past the pond in double quick time, as the Hippo flicker their ears at the sound of our footsteps.
The deeper we penetrate the forest, the deeper our respect for this precious environment becomes. The sheer size of these trees is beyond description, mentors of peace and serenity, these age-old and special beings demand our silent deference.
Along the way, our boots caked in mud, we come across huge Elephant spoor squelched deeply into the mud a mere hour or so earlier. All our senses are vibrantly alert to every sound and movement, the perfect adrenaline rush of Africa.
We also stop frequently and take in the small things around us, the texture of the Sycamores; the fascinating fungus growths on the bark and in the undergrowth; the non-stop cacophony of the birdlife in the canopy above; and the trail of army ants migrating to their new home.
Soon we arrive at a most impressive timber structure: an array of stairs, rope walkways and platforms set aesthetically amidst the magnificent SycamoreFig trees rising up some three storeys into the cool canopy. This awe-inspiring sight and foray high up into the trees leaves us speechless. This is truly nature at her best.
Here, an ideal scenario would be to spend the day quietly up in the canopy with camera and tripod, photographing the birdlife in the busy silence of the forest. This is a special and unique aspect that we at 2BWild are looking into arranging for those of our guests keen on photography.
Back at camp we took a short stroll to the pool and passed this small herd of Nyala – right there, a mere arm’s length away, browsing quietly on the bushes.
On our game drives we also spent time at the wetland pans (Nsumo Pan) and enjoyed the vista of this amazing array of birdlife on and around the water, including Flamingos and a huge number of Open-billed Storks. Then we head off to the recently upgraded hides, which were all very quiet, but nonetheless lovely to see.
All too soon it’s time for us to leave Mkuze and head off to Ndumo. Our route is an unusual and interesting gravel road drive on which I’d done extensive research, and which wends its way through spread out rural countryside, showing a different perspective on the country.
The little or no traffic encountered is a pleasure, and results in a pleasant outing.
On our arrival at Ndumo at midday we checked in to our lovely chalet – very comfortable, air-conditioned and well appointed, with mosquito nets and overlooking the beautiful lawns and tropical garden. We settled in quickly and enjoyed another first-class braai2 with the most incredible and aromatic Leadwood fire, which produces long-lasting coals!
In the morning it was up at 5AM for our first walk – and what a terrific walk it was in the Fig Tree riverine forest at Shokwe Pan, this time in Ndumo. After a short walk from the vehicle our guide was soon pointing out an array of birds,
the elusive Purple Crested Lourie (Turaco); the Scaly Throated Honeyguide; the Crowned Hornbill, and more… and, as always, the sheer presence of the forest commanded our continued respect.
At Ndumo camp, the huge air-plants nestled in the trees around the camp are very impressive, and must have been entrenched there for decades.
Next day our second walk in the forests along the southern Pongola River starts off very well. We see Malachite King Fishers perched above the river, and our guide as always, shares his deep knowledge with us. But after the first leg we arrived back at the vehicle to find we had a flat tyre! And the spare was also flat! A short conference determined that the ‘youngsters’ in our group would make the short 1km walk back to camp, whilst Viv and I waited in the peace and quiet of the forest! Such bliss!
Just an hour or so later our guide team returned with a refreshed wheel and we were soon back at camp.
At midday we were on the road again, heading back to our second entrancing cottage at Wakkerstroom. This time round we spent an entire afternoon in the wetland bird-hide, soaking up the tranquillity and abundant array of birdlife. Such a wonderful spot. Our next day was spent strolling around this quaint little town, buying so many odds and ends and tasty things, followed by a really delicious lunch atthe tiny Wakkerstroom Country Inn (hotel) – an experience not to be missed.
All too soon it was morning, and we were packing the car and heading back home to Johannesburg – with another exclusive 2BWild tour planned and ready for you – our valued visitors.
2BWild Safaris departs on an exciting birding recce tour in KwaZulu-Natal province in the third week of March.
South Africa has many beautiful birding destinations, and the areas we’re visiting are renowned for their sheer diversity of birdlife, and the promise of sightings of rare species such as Narina Trogan, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike, Pink-throated Twinspot, and the Palmnut Vulture, to name a few.
The areas we’ll be visiting comprise pristine Wild-fig forests and lush wetland plains.
If you’re planning to visit our region from Europe or the USA and would like to arrange a personalised tour of these areas, with experienced and qualified guides, contact Viv on email@example.com