- Breaking News and Updates
- Classic Africa News Vol. 2, 2023
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- Classic Africa 2020 Holiday Message
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Classic Africa News Vol.1, 2023
The Birth of Sitatunga Private Island
Sitatunga Private Island Camp is under construction and is anticipated to actualize Milton's lost paradise in the Okavango Delta.
It enjoys a magical setting with whistling reeds hosting painted frog passengers, huge herds of elephant that wade through the papyrus and phragmites, which opens the way for hippos and crocodiles to alter the entire water flow across this 9,500 square mile watery wilderness and UNESCO World Heritage site. The camp is named for the rare shaggy Sitatunga antelope, which call the island home in abundant numbers.
The design of the camp pays homage to the great fishing cultures of the Okavango with buildings resembling fishing baskets set high in the thick ebony forest canopy. It will be small and intimate, yet luxurious and classically elegant, with one family suite and two additional suites for a maximum of eight guests.
The camp is surrounded by a mosaic of islands netted together by shining lagoons and transient channels. Being on the upstream end of the Okavango Delta, this area receives the annual floodwaters from Angola first, which allows for water-based wildlife viewing activities all year.
Here you will experience the Delta in myriad ways, via mokoro, boating, helicopter flips and game-drive vehicle. For birders the area is a dream come true with over 350 species recorded.
This beautiful and lavishly appointed private camp, with the wild beating on its doorstep, will offer safari connoisseurs an exclusive, sustainable and unforgettable experience soon. Stay tuned for details! Meanwhile, we hope you will enjoy this video of Sitatunga Island and its inhabitants.
South Africa Rhino Rescue
The widespread devastation wrought by relentless rhino poaching across Africa is particularly upsetting when it affects calves orphaned due to brutal attacks on their mothers.
When a recent poaching incident in South Africa's Sabi Sand Reserve left a seven-month old rhino stranded for days – alone, hungry, and afraid – a full-scale rescue operation was launched.
The calf, named Mavic after the DJI Mavic drones that kept him safe during his rescue, was taken to Care for Wild, the world's largest rhino orphan sanctuary, where he began his three-year journey of rehabilitation with the goal of being released back into the wild.
The Singita Foundation (associated with the iconic Boulders and Ebony Lodges) has donated the funds to support Mavic's first year of rehabilitation through the sale of ceramic work created by Ardmore Artists as part of a dedicated collaboration to support conservation in the region. The aim is to grow sponsorship to not only see Mavic's rehabilitation through to his eventual release into the wild, but also support other rhino orphans.
The total cost of rehabilitating and rewilding one rhino orphan over three years is around USD $27,500. Watch the video here.
Birding for a Good Cause
As part of Birdlife South Africa's Birding Big Day in December, teams of intrepid "twitchers" had 24 hours to record all bird species they saw or heard in their local environment. Wilderness Safaris participated strongly by creating eight teams of four to show off their birding skills for a good cause. Participants included staff from Botswana, Rwanda and South Africa.
The competition was intense with some eager birders claiming they already knew secret locations for spotting rarities before the big day!
Team "Wilderness Bindo" with Jacques Proust second from left
The team led by Craig Glatthaar (Wilderness' Head of Sales for America), which included Classic Africa's own Jacques Proust, tallied a count of 156 in Cape Town! The overall winner was team Lone Swallow in the Wilderness, which achieved a bird count of 191 in KwaZulu Natal, just beating the formidable Abu Camp team in Botswana.
Craig's team tackled the day with a new birding app called Bïndo, which allows birders to log sightings in real-time, create lists and challenges, all while following other birders and sharing their experiences. Bïndo identifies what birds are in one's current location, which results in quicker logging and easier identification. Craig and Jacques wer
e joined by Jacques' brother Nicolas, and Bindo creator, Rob. They began the day at 4:30am and continued until 10:30pm, traversing a prescribed 50km area.
Highlights from Birding Big Day included the buff-spotted flufftail, bank cormorant, Agulhas long-billed lark, African emerald cuckoo, white-starred robin, Narina trogon, blue-mantled crested flycatcher and tambourine dove.
Beast Philanthropy YouTube Channel
Dan Mace, the multi-award-winning director, YouTuber, and creator of the BRU Show for Warner Brothers Discovery, is the most recent collaborator with American YouTube sensation Jimmy Donaldson (aka: MrBeast), ranked as Forbes' World's Most Followed Person on YouTube.
Donaldson is best known for his elaborate giveaways and stunts, and for using his channels as positive philanthropic platforms.
MrBeast and Mace hit it off immediately after the former approached Mace's creative team to assist in the production of his videos in South Africa at the end of 2022.
In the first of Mace's videos produced for Beast Philanthropy, the channel announced that the project will fund the rebuilding of a dozen homes for an orphanage in Khayelitsha, a township in Cape Town, over the next six months.
Property and Activity Updates
Great Plains Conservation is committed to sustainability as well as luxury. To that end it is in the process of refurbishing Zarafa Camp and its exclusive Dhow Suite, refreshing the décor and adding a new wine cellar, water and solar energy systems.
Selinda Explorers Camp will welcome a new kitchen, solar energy system, and new bathrooms for each tent, as well as river-facing verandas. At Okavango Explorers Camp raised decking is being added to tents, as well as a rebuilt main area, new vehicles, a solar energy system and a swimming pool.
Helicopter Trips at Sasaab:
Guests staying at Sasaab Lodge now have access to discover some of the most remote and scenically spectacular regions of Kenya, via a helicopter based at the lodge from now through the end of February and again for the peak season from June to September.
The Eurocopter AS 350 B3 is a modern day "magic carpet," perfect for low level cruising with optimum viewing in the most remote destinations. From hovering over Lake Turkana (the cradle of humankind) with ancient crocodiles hiding in its jade waters, to the mystical sand dunes of the Suguta Valley, to observing the millions of nesting flamingoes over the Rift Valley lakes, the experience is sure to be otherworldly.
Wild Rides at Borana
Wild Rides Kenya has set up its base camp at Borana Lodge on the Borana Conservancy, offering exhilarating e-bike adventures across the Borana and beyond. E-bikes are battery-assisted mountain bikes which provide riders with that extra bit of pedal power when attempting an uphill climb. The small motor is throttle powered and gives the rider a boost when necessary, allowing guests to explore the game-rich Borana Conservancy with ease.
Tanda Tula Refurbished
Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Reserve, South Africa, is enjoying a facelift and will reopen in May. The rebuilt camp will be set in the same location, overlooking the Nlharalumi riverbed, but will boast exciting hybrid canvas and glass suites creating a more ecologically sensitive camp with a lighter footprint.
Cruise the Zambezi River powered by sunshine in a brand new electric dhow (a traditional East African sailboat) at Tongabezi Camp. The boat will be used to silently traverse the mighty Zambian waterway with all its resident wildlife.
New Electric Safari Vehicle at Lewa
The first of its kind in Kenya, Lewa's newly launched electric safari vehicle has been a huge success, providing a quiet game viewing experience with no carbon emissions. Lewa will be converting another of their diesel Land Cruisers to be fully electric in the near future and hopes that the model serves as a prototype for other safari operators across Africa.
Windows into the Bush
Great Plains Conservation has installed a captivating "hidecam" with excellent sound and crisp images in a sunken hide at ol Donyo Lodge in Kenya. In addition, it hosts a camera at Kenya's Mara Plains Camp, which continually monitors hippos, baboons and other wildlife from the deck, as well as at Tembo Plains Camp in Zimbabwe where a hidden camera records hippos, buffalo, and some of the newly introduced elephants from the Project Rewild Zambezi initiative. These "windows into the bush" connect us with an addictive "armchair safari" experience. Watch the livestream from all three cameras here. Enjoy!
Kenya's Elsas Kopje Rhino Sanctuary
Rhinos are still a critically endangered species but there is reason to be hopeful for their future in East Africa. Due to tireless conservation efforts there are some positive figures that shine a beacon of light for the preservation of these majestic animals. Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is home to a flourishing population of both black and white rhinos. The population now stands at 252 rhinos in the Lewa-Borana Landscape, one of the highest rhino populations in Africa, representing a 38% growth in the last five years.
Thanks to Kenya Wildlife Services and charitable partners including Born Free, Meru National Park's rhino population also continues to build from near extinction back in the 1980's. The successful rehabilitation program established in the year 2000 has resulted in a rhino population of over 100 today. Guests at Elsa's Kopje have the privilege of visiting the Rhino Sanctuary during their stay.
The success of these and many other conservation projects means that rhinos can be reintroduced to other regions to help the populations grow and thrive. Loisaba Conservancy will shortly be welcoming rhinos to roam again, almost 50 years to the date that the last rhino was seen. This initiative is welcomed by the local community, particularly the elders who are eager for their grandchildren to experience these magnificent creatures that they had the privilege to grow up with.
Caught on Film
Enjoy an "armchair safari" as two Netflix documentaries bring the African wilderness right into your living room. In Shamwari Untamed, the A-Team of conservation puts viewers in the middle of the dust and danger of hands-on conservation work in South Africa, while Surviving Paradise reveals unrivalled camera footage of animal families in Botswana's Okavango Delta.
Classic Africa on Reconnaissance
October and November were busy reconnaissance months for Classic Africa as we strive to stay at the cutting edge of new developments across "safari Africa". Pierre ventured to Zambia and Zimbabwe where he visited the South Luangwa, Lower Zambezi, Victoria Falls, Hwange, and Mana Pools National Parks. Jacques' familiarization trip took him to Botswana where he visited a wide range of camps in the Okavango Delta, as well as the three major private reserves adjoining the greater Chobe National Park. Click Here for a selection of images from Pierre's safari, and Click Here for Jacques' safari photos.
News and Notes
Covid Requirement Updates
Tanzania has recently dropped its requirement for a vaccine certificate with a QR code. Hard copy vaccine certificates are still required for Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. If you are not vaccinated you can still travel to the aforementioned countries, but will need proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure from the United States. South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Rwanda no longer require proof of vaccination or testing prior to travel.
Delta Airlines has launched its new non-stop Atlanta to Cape Town route.
The year-round service will operate three times weekly on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The route also complements Delta's existing service from Atlanta to Johannesburg, which now makes a stop in Cape Town upon its return.
Air France has resumed its flights between Paris and Cape Town three times per week. In addition Air France operates 7 weekly flights to Johannesburg.
KLM is offering 10 weekly services between Cape Town and Amsterdam. The additional flights will complement the current daily service.
Zambia has waived its $50 visa fees for travelers from the USA and several other countries, including the European Union.
Profile: Meet Noolkishiru, a Maa Beadwork Artisan Success Story
Noolkishiru Moriaso is a member of the Olkuroto Beadwork Group in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. She is 38 years-old, married, and has five children.
She joined the Maa Beadwork social enterprise in 2013. At that time, her children were not in school. As a direct result of the income that she has earned as a beadwork artisan, she has now been able to afford school fees. She has also started a small business where she sells potatoes in the market once a week. Rather than being a burden, Noolkishuru has been a pillar to her family by providing for their basic needs through her beadwork income.
"Since joining Maa Beadwork, I have been able to make an impact in my household and family. Today I have a business, my kids are in school, they have clothes, and I can feed them,"Noolkishiru reports.
Her ambition is to grow her business in the future and to build a permanent home for her family.
Maa Beadwork is facilitated by the Maa Trust, a philanthropic endeavor committed to the betterment of Africa's wildlife and people. The collective includes 494 women across seventeen villages. Together, through the beadwork products they create and sell, they support over 9000 people in their communities. Classic Africa is proud to contribute to the Maa Trust and its impactful projects in Kenya.
Special Sighting in Zambia's South Luangua National Park
Faber Family's First Safari
Our friend and client Happy D. sent us the most lovely holiday card and asked for us to share photos of our children in our next newsletter. Here are William (14yo) and Edward (11yo) at Stratton, Vermont.
William is working as a ski instructor – his first job! Edward is in the race program and doing very well in both Slalom and Giant Slalom. They are both looking forward to visiting Africa (Cape Town and Botswana) for the first time in April!
Recipe of the Quarter: The Mara Mojito
"Dawa" means medicine in Swahili but also refers to a celebratory tipple in East Africa. Created by waiter Ken at Mara Expedition Camp in Kenya, the Mara Mojito is a dawa made with the refreshing ingredients of pineapple, lime, mint and a dash of ginger beer. It is a favorite enjoyed after an exciting game drive, during cocktail hour (sundowners) and around the campfire.
- ¼ cup rum (or try Seedlip for a non-alcoholic version)
- a "splash" (approximately 2T) fresh pineapple juice + cut 1 pineapple wedge for decoration
- 1 lime cut into chunks
- 6 mint leaves - fresh from the garden are best!
- Ginger beer
- 1 mint sprig
- Place lime chunks in a glass
- Muddle just enough to release the lime juice but not so much as to mash the pith
- Add in slightly slapped fresh mint leaves and stir
- Add Rum, then pack the glass with ice
- Add fresh pineapple juice and stir
- Top with ginger beer
- Garnish with a mint twig & pineapple wedge
This month, we're delighted to share some of the incredible photos submitted by Classic Africa Travelers. Click here for this quarter's gallery of the best.
** If you have any photos, videos, and/or safari anecdotes that you would like to share with fellow "Classic Africans", please e-mail us (firstname.lastname@example.org) to be featured in future editions.
Let us help you plan your dream safari. call toll-free: 888.227.8311 or email us today
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