Preserving Africa’s Wildlife in South Africa

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  • July 22 – 31, 2022
  • South Africa
  • South Africa
  • July 22 – 31, 2022
  • 10 Days/9 Nights
  • 6-8 Guests

Overview

This adventure is a completely unique wildlife conservation and safari experience with a local not-for-profit in South Africa, this is something you simply cannot find at other companies.

AFRICA… The magnetic natural beauty, the crescendo of the exploding sunrises, the intoxicating mix of sights and sounds, the wildlife and natural splendor that enthralls, captivates and stills your mind, body and soul… the thrill of adventure, the raw, untamed wild power of survival …. This is AFRICA!!

Highlights:

  • 10 days / 9 nights in Gorgeous, friendly, wildlife-filled South Africa at top notch resorts and lodges
  • Experience an authentic wilderness trip incorporating conservation project(s) that we have committed to raising funds for, such as collaring to protect elephants and similar wildlife projects
  • Game Drive through the Iconic and World Renowned ‘Kruger National Park’ in South Africa in search of the Big Five in their untouched magnificent habitat
  • Jaw dropping mountain views as well as the spectacular Blyde River Canyon, one the world’s largest green canyons
  • Experience the natural rhythm of one of the most remarkable river systems in Africa during an early morning Hot Air Balloon ride, a quiet observer from the sky
  • Connect and create lifelong friendships with people from around the world who are just as passionate about making a difference in Africa as you
  • Experience an exceptionally well planned and organised African experience with all your needs provided for, allowing you to immerse yourself in your journey
  • Join the ranks of the Global few who have powerfully impacted the Elephants Alive Project or The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) with the funds raised on this expedition, and for this we THANK You!

This once-in-a-lifetime experience is NOT a regular safari. It’s a unique and personalized adventure, searching and exploring wildlife in the magnificent Hoedspruit area in South Africa. We’ll be working with the teams of experienced wildlife veterinarians and conservational professionals on one of their vital projects, such as Elephant collaring, trekking, tracking and collaring wild dogs, or lions or dehorning rhino. We work with the Wildlife experts responding to their needs according to the urgency on the ground that week.

Our partner on the ground in South Africa and the trip leader is Carla Geyser, founder of the Blue Sky Society Trust (BSST) and Blue Sky Expeditions who has led many successful Safaris all over Africa. If you are an enthusiastic adventurer who is passionate about conservation and takes life as it comes, then this incredible experience tailor-made for you! Her organization brings together like-minded people from around the world on trips that focus on exploring while raising funds for wildlife initiatives along the route.

Itinerary

Itinerary            

Day 1 – July 22, Friday

On arrival at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, you’ll be welcomed by our guide. Assistance will be on hand at the airport for Currency Exchange, SIM card purchases etc. We’ll then get transported to our hotel for the night. An idyllic and exclusive haven, the Giglio is amongst Johannesburg’s finest luxury boutique hotels, located a mere ten minutes’ drive from OR Tambo International Airport.

Accommodation: Giglio Boutique Hotel or similar.

Day 2 – July 23, Saturday

Wake up to an early breakfast and then we are transferred back to OT airport to catch our domestic flight to Hoedspruit. Where we will be collected from the airport and taken to our lodge for a late lunch. Hoedspruit is located between the world-renowned Blyde River Canyon and Kruger National Park. Blyde River Canyon is one of the largest canyons on earth extending 26km’s in length and around 800m deep at its deepest point. Our accommodation for the next five nights will be the 4-star Unembeza Boutique Lodge & Spa, situated on the greenbelt of the Hoedspruit Wildlife Estate. Our closest neighbours are free roaming general game species such as Giraffes, Zebra, Kudu and Warthogs, but guests must also keep an eye out for the shy resident leopards that are seen on a regular basis.

The absence of lion, elephant, buffalo and rhino gives you an opportunity to explore nature and discover your inner game ranger on foot, mountain bikes or horseback. Unembeza offers a carefully curated selection of custom safaris, tours and activities and is genuinely a one stop destination where we can enjoy everything the Lowveld has to offer.

On arrival at the lodge, you will check into your rooms and then at 2pm we head out to Blyde River Dam for an afternoon sunset cruise.  We will get to enjoy a guided boat ride on the Blyde Dam, where you will admire the splendor of the third largest Canyon in the world and see the rare “living” Kadishi Tufa waterfall and the majestic Three Rondavels mountain formation. After our 1 ½ hour boat journey we will then return to our lodge for a delicious dinner. (All boat trips are weather dependent, and no alcohol is allowed on the boat)

Accommodation: Unembeza Boutique Lodge & Spa

Day 3 – July 24, Sunday

Today you have an EARLY start. Weather permitting, we’ll have the opportunity to participate in the magic of a Lighter-than-Air Hot Air Balloon experience near the foot of the Drakensberg Escarpment (steep sloping mountain). Our one-hour long flight will take us over the scenic, Lowveld section of the Blyde River, 15 km West of Hoedspruit. The terrain is a mixture of farmland, private nature reserves and wildlife estates. The mountains to the South and West provide shelter from the prevailing winds, affording us good flying weather on most days.

We’ll meet before sunrise for a quick coffee, while we watch the eight-story-high balloon being inflated and prepared for flight. After a safety briefing we should be airborne in time to witness the sunrise. The height above ground will vary between skimming the tree-tops to as high as 2,000 feet as the pilot changes altitude in search of favorable wind directions and speeds. As the sun rises, the landscape, the vegetation and, if you’re lucky, some wildlife will provide superb photo opportunities. Game spotting cannot be guaranteed, but on most flights, we see plains game like giraffe and wildebeest.

The landing is an exciting event because the basket meets the earth at whatever speed the surface wind is at the time. Light air allow the softest of landings while fresh breezes necessitate a “positive” landing so that the basket can serve as an anchor to slow the envelope down. If not already at the landing site, the ground crew will soon arrive to deflate and pack the balloon while you enjoy a glass of champagne or fruit juice.

The afternoon will allow you to get closer to nature inside a Private Game Reserve 20 minutes from the lodge. We’ll enjoy our own private safari with an experienced guide where we’ll get to witness a much bigger variety of wildlife.

Accommodation: Unembeza Boutique Lodge & Spa

Day 4 – July 25, Monday

Today is all about exploring the Kruger National Park. We’ll have the pleasure of taking a truly authentic safari that will give you an unbelievable overview of this iconic wildlife destination. The entire day will be spent in our comfortable open vehicles with expert guides taking lunch on the run as we explore the inside the world-famous Kruger National Park.

Kruger National Park is over 2 million hectares, nearly 5 million acres in size, with approximately 145 mammal species, over 500 bird species and over 1,986 plant species. If you’ve never been on safari it’s nearly impossible to describe the thrill as you see each new variety of animal or bird. It’s an experience you will never ever forget.

As the sun lowers, we’ll return to our lodge for a delicious meal in the evening.

It has been said that even an hour in paradise is a rewarding experience… a whole day is a life-changing experience.

Accommodation: Unembeza Boutique Lodge & Spa

Day 5 – July 26, Tuesday

Today is a WOW day!! We’ll be working side by side with the professional wildlife veterinarians and the team from Elephants Alive collaring an elephant (or another endangered animal). Today you’ll want to bring your inner Jane Goodall or Dian Fossey. This is an experience you’ll never ever forget.

Why collar?

There are several critical reasons why we need to raise funds to collar elephants in this area: 

    ->Scientific research: As in everything in life, the best decisions are knowledge-based. Similarly, safeguarding and preserving Africa’s elephant population is heavily dependent on quality data. Experts must be able to monitor the animals’ movements and migration routes. The elephants we’ll be working with are known to travel great distances over a short period of time, across man-made borders to other protected areas within the Great Limpopo Trans Frontier Conservation Area. How does this impact on water and food access? How do the elephants’ journeys affect communities living in and around these protected areas? And how best do we protect the animals and humans under these circumstances? The answers are based on scientific research i.e. crucial data that the collars will provide.

    ->Collars help save elephant lives:

Human-wildlife conflict is an age-old dilemma. The collars provide experts with critical data and helps them make life-saving decisions so that people and elephants can co-exist in harmony. Fully understanding jumbo behavior and movement will fuel significant, impactful decision-making and intervention measures. The collars provide real-time data so rangers, for example, can move in if necessary, with rapid response teams and herd the animals away if they wander too close to communities, or they can close in on poachers decimating Africa’s elephant populations. If an animal is poached the transmitter will show researchers that the animal has not moved, and they can immediately send in the response team to go see what’s happening.

There is much riding on our elephant-collaring missions. You are invited to help us save lives (elephants and people) within this precious area of exquisite natural beauty.

The Specialist Team from Elephants Alive:

Elephants Alive represents a South African based NGO consisting of a small but impactful team who have consistently developed research-based information to help managers best protect elephants throughout Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and beyond. They have extensive experience collaring elephants and networking with other NGOs to achieve what is best for elephants. They’re an experienced team, having deployed close to 200 collars throughout Southern Africa since 1998. Elephants Alive have collared many elephants with Blue Sky Society Trust. The elephants that we have collared are functioning as trailblazers, showing us how, where and when we should be connecting Protected Areas across the landscape. This is an exceptional experience and something many people will never get to experience.

**SAFETY: The animals’ and vets’ safety is ALWAYS their #1 priority so we’ll work under their guidance. The vets’ and pilot’s urgency is to get the animals down in a safe area, collared, checked for any ailments, and then up and back into the bush as safely and fast as possible. They will do everything in their power to include us as much as possible, where and when possible. PLEASE NOTE: We run all our conservation expeditions under strict ethical rules.

After our once-in-a-lifetime adventure with the wild elephants or other animals, we’ll head back to our lodge for rest and relaxation before drinks and dinner when we’ll re-tell our exciting stories from today’s exploits.

Accommodation: Unembeza Boutique Lodge & Spa

Day 6 – July 27, Wednesday

The Panorama Tour – Nowhere else will you see so much natural wonder in such close proximity.

Today we’ll journey to some of the most captivating sights located within South Africa’s Mpumalanga province. The scenic route includes dramatic landscapes, the world’s third-largest canyon, the incredible Tufa waterfalls, and God’s Window – one of the most breathtaking views you’ll ever encounter. We’ll also see Bourke’s Luck Potholes, a natural water feature marking the beginning of the Blyde River Canyon. The Potholes are swirling whirlpools caused by waterborne sand and rocks grinding huge, cylindrical holes into the river rocks, often described as a Giant’s kettle. A full day out and about exploring.

Dinner will be relaxed back at the lodge.

Accommodation: Unembeza Boutique Lodge & Spa

Day 7 – July 28, Thursday

Today we’ll be moving to our new accommodation in the Timbervati area.

Kambaku is the Tsonga word for “great tusker.” It is the name of one of Africa’s Magnificent Seven – the largest elephant bulls once found in the Kruger National Park, each with tusks weighing 50kg and more. Kambaku represents a part of African heritage that is worth protecting. Lodge owners Bryce and Nicola were determined to raise their two children in an environment where our wildlife could be conserved, treasured and admired by the world. Today, their vision has been actualised in three travel destinations – each one distinct in character and its innate sense of reverence for the natural realm. This 4-star experience is designed to bring people together, to open a window to a new way of thinking about safari travel.

After our arrival we’ll savor a sumptuous high tea before we head out for an afternoon game drive with sundowners in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, a vast expanse of 60,000 hectares of pristine African bushveld. This is a conservation area that borders the ubiquitous Kruger National Park. In 1993, the fences between these two areas were removed to encourage the natural migration of each park’s species. You’ll be guided by an expert team of game rangers who will welcome you into the world of Africa’s wildlife. Encounter wildlife basking in the golden glow of the afternoon sun and then we’ll raise a glass to the setting sun as you enjoy a personalised selection of drinks and snacks, surrounded by the living silhouettes of the majestic African bushveld.

We’ll drive back to camp as night falls while your tracker illuminates the world around you, identifying nocturnal wildlife. Your arrival will be met with a delectable dining experience indoors or under a starlit sky, weather depending.

Accommodation: Kambaku Safari Lodge

Day 8 – July 29, Friday

Today is BIG FIVE Day!!

The morning game drives depart just before sunrise, with the time dependent on the changing of the seasons. Wake up to a cheerful morning call and start your day with a freshly brewed cup of tea or coffee. After some time, we’ll stop for a bush breakfast, something to be treasured. Expect sightings of some of the region’s rarest wildlife – White Lions, African wild dogs, and bashful Aardvarks.

Upon our return we’ll be met with a delicious brunch served by our accommodating and approachable culinary team. Life is good. After your tummy is full you’ll have time to relax, read or nap before our Afternoon game drive.

This afternoon we’ll head out back into the Timbavati Private Nature reserve, searching for the world-renowned Big Five: Lion, Leopard, Rhino, Elephant and Buffalo, that roam freely in an untouched habitat.

Tonight’s meal will be back at the Lodge.

As John Hemingway once said; “If I have ever seen magic, it has been in Africa.”

Accommodation: Kambaku Safari Lodge

Day 9 – July 30, Saturday

An African Bush Experience

Today we continue to explore and look for wildlife. You could spend 100 days in the wild and still not see everything it offers.

Tonight, we have a treat in store for you!!! A Bush Dinner. You’ll spend your last night in the magnificent Timbervati eating delicious food while listening to the night life around you. This experience will imprint on your hearts – the sounds of the Wild while a million stars dance above your head.

Accommodation: Kambaku Safari Lodge

Day 10 – July 31, Sunday

Sadly, our time in the Timbervati area has come to an end, but today you will know that your life has been enriched forever.

You will be collected by our road transfer company and driven to Hoedspruit East Airport where you will catch your domestic flight back to OT airport in Johannesburg in time to catch your evening flight home. As you get ready for your flight home, you can take the time to reflect and remember. We’ll arrive in JHB by 13h00, so any connecting flights must be booked for the late afternoon or evening.

“African changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there you will never be the same.” Brian Jackman

Trip Notes:

  • The Hot Air Balloon and Boat trip are weather-dependent -they will let us know the afternoon before.
  • We have a Bush breakfast and Bush Dinner in store for you, but these are also weather dependent.
  • If we need to change our itinerary slightly, we have a bit of wriggle room and we reserve the right to alter it slightly based on availability
  • This expedition is about helping and learning about wildlife conservation but also about your own enjoyment and discovery
  • Carla Geyser from Blue Sky Society Trust, our partner will arrange for you to meet one or two conservationists during several evenings back at our lodges to learn about the vital wildlife projects they are running.

GG2P always reserves the right to alter the itinerary based on weather or availability as well as exciting opportunities that might crop up!

NOTE -> Not to worry – Vegetarians will be well fed in all cafés and restaurants as well as those allergic to seafood or gluten. Options are plentiful.

  • Safety: Safety is always a priority. We have a satellite phone, SATIB Insurance 24-hour medivac and assistance on call, and access to doctors 24/Entry & visa information
  • Covid 19 – All the lodges, tour operators and transfer companies adhere to strict covid 19 rules. Guests will be required to wear masks & sanitize hands regularly, and practice social distancing where possible.
  • Passports & Vaccines: Please ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of entry and that you have at least two blank pages in your passport (the back page does not count). Please check all CDC guidelines as to what vaccinations are needed and suggested for travel in South Africa.
  • Money & Tipping: The colorful currency in South Africa is the Rand. Credit cards are accepted. Reliable ATM’s in banks are available in cities. You may also bring cash to exchange at banks and exchange offices.*TIPPING: There will some situations where you may feel the need to tip but as always it is up to your discretion. Typically, it is customary to tip our local guides $5-$10 per day per guide.

 

Trip Cost

Trip Cost: 131,500 South African Rand*

The actual cost of this once-in-a-lifetime safari expedition is less, but in order to have unique wildlife experiences created just for us, we have agreed to make a $1,000 donation per client towards the Wildlife preservation organization, Elephants Alive.

  • * All our trips are organized and priced based on single occupancy at all the places we stay. Everyone gets their own fabulous room! If you’re traveling with a friend/relative, or would prefer to save some money by sharing a room, we can usually organize double occupancy at a reduction in cost. Please inquire.
  • * All our trips are priced in the home currency of the trip’s location; however, we will invoice you in the equivalent USD calculated at the exchange rate at the time of invoice.
  • Interest-free payment plans are available. Please inquire.

What’s included?

  • Expedition leader and native South African – Carla Geyser
  • GG2P Guide / Hostess – Doni Belau
  • All accommodation (**Single occupancy, can save if you want to share)
  • All meals & water as shown in itinerary
  • National Park fees & taxes where applicable
  • Allocated Wine and/or local beer at dinner to the value of $30pp per day
  • $1,000 pp fundraising for our chosen beneficiary: Elephants Alive or similar (This is INCLUDED in your rate)
  • Road Transfer from JHB OT Airport to Hoedspruit (Day 1)
  • Local Charter Flight from Hoedspruit (HDS) to JHB (Day 9)
  • All activities detailed in the itinerary
  • Transportation to and from Hoedspruit airport and in between lodges

What’s not Included?

  • Any International Flights & any necessary transfers to get to the start/finish of the expedition
  • Gratuities (*We recommend US$ 5 to 10 per guide or activity)
  • Any visas & border costs
  • Additional Alcoholic drinks & snacks **See Above
  • Any personal expenses or souvenirs
  • Comprehensive travel insurance (*Compulsory*)
  • Any extra nights’ accommodation desired (pre/ post expedition)
  • Any extra activities not mentioned in itinerary

I’m interested, so what do I do next?

If you have questions, press the Inquire Now button above, and complete the form. We’ll get back to you ASAP.

If you’d like to come, press the Reserve Now button above. You will be prompted to complete a form with your pertinent details, put down a refundable $250 deposit, and . schedule a time to speak with a GG2P representative. We like to speak with everyone before they embark on their first trip with Girls’ Guide to Paris & Beyond. This allows you to ask any questions or voice any concerns you may have. These are intimate, small group trips; a quick yet personal conversation allows you to get to know how our trips work and make sure it’s right for you. If it’s not, we’ll immediately refund your $250 deposit.

If it’s a Go! after your call, we’ll bill you for a non-refundable deposit, usually 35% of the trip’s cost (less the $250 place-holder deposit, if you already paid it) and your place is reserved. At this point, you’re committed to the trip, so we recommend that you purchase Travel Insurance to protect you in case your plans change unexpectedly. The balance will be due approximately 2 months before the trip.

Our cancellation policy is here.

Inquire About This Trip

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