Archive for May, 2010

Meet Ezekiel “Big Easy” Ditshameko – Game Ranger, Okavango Delta

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

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Meet Ezekiel “Big Easy” Ditshameko, one of Okavango Delta’s most experienced guides. Ezekiel grew up in Sepopa, Botswana in the Okavango Delta, an area widely known for its incredible birdlife and mammals. His daily exposure to the bush has given Ezekiel a wealth of knowledge. Coupled with his warm sense of humor and easy-going nature, Ezekiel is a just a joy to go on safari with. Ezekiel’s guiding experience spans more than a decade and he has worked for some of the best safari operators in Southern Africa.

We are thrilled to announce that Ezekiel will be visiting our African Portfolio office on June 8th (2010). He ‘ll be taking us on a virtual safari tour and sharing some of his best stories from the bush. Please join us if you can, we will be serving wine, soft drink and hors d’ oeuvres. Details follow below:

MokorointheOkavangoDelta

What: Join us for stories from the African bush as Ezekiel and his colleagues share their experiences as game rangers in East and Southern Africa and learn more of the impact we can have on the African continent and her people.

When: June 8, 2010, 6pm – 8pm

Where: African Portfolio, 146 Sound Beach Avenue, Old Greenwich, CT 06870

RSVP: E-mail: SafariPlanner@africanportfolio.com or call us at 1-800-700-3677

Egypt in Style

Friday, May 21st, 2010

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Susan just returned from a trip to Egypt. Her husband joined her while she carried out site inspections in Cairo, Luxor, Abu Simbel, and Hurghada. They also managed to find time to celebrate their anniversary, cruising down the Nile on board the Nile Adventurer. Isadore wrote a daily blog and we thought it would be fun to share some of his observations. If you’d like to read the full account, click here.

[On the Delta flight to Cairo] A passenger complained to an attendant that there was no room in the bin above her seat. The attendant replied ” well the good news is all the overhead bins are going to the same place…..”

The Mena House Oberoi is across the street from the Pyramids. The hotel is amazing as is our room. We unpacked, relaxed on the deck gazing in awe at the huge Pyramids in our back yard. We dined in the restaurant which entertained us with a singer followed by a swirling fellow (Whirling dervish) and finally the belly dancer. This swirling guy spun around and around for ten minutes non-stop.

Our guide was a lady in her early fifties, drop dead gorgeous, blond, Egyptologist with a masters degree.

The statues of Ramses & the queens were just mind boggling. I used to consider the sun and heat of Namibia to be quite torturous, but clearly I was wrong as the midday temperatures reached 45 degrees in the shade – it was HOT HOT HOT.

We spent a fair amount of time at King Tutankhamen and then moved onto the Royal Mummies where we discovered the Gods mummified their favourite pets or animals. So amongst the animals were a dog, a ram, a cow, a 20ft Nile crocodile and many more.

The Pyramids are located just out of range of the Niles fertile banks. This left the soil for crops, hence most of the antiquities – pyramids, palaces and tombs etc. were built just out of reach of the river.

The sphinx took my breath away. Seeing all the pictures in the world cannot make up for your presence in front of a statue more than 5000 years old.
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From the Presidents Suite, we heard nothing and felt nothing. Such smooth sailing. The sites along the banks were pretty much the same, mile after mile of fertile farming. Beyond the farmlands were the occasional mountains and factories and of course there were the antiquities the hungry tourists were anxious to see. And there was no shortage of them.

Of the 62 tombs found thus far, many of them have been closed to the public due to salty mineral build up on the rock face brought in by sweaty visitors. So the authorities open three or four at a time for a period then close those and open others. Should you have the craving desire to see a specific tomb, for a small additional fee of around US$5,000 you can get five minutes of private viewing.

Only as we approached the Red Sea did the terrain become mountainous and quite spectacular.

Entry to the suite was from the sea facing view into the living room with 12 ft ceilings and windows from floor to ceiling arched at the top.

The huge infinity pool over looked the Red Sea about sixty feet below. Down on the beach we found the diving shop where you can rent gear to snorkel and or dive. We both enjoyed the snorkeling immensely.

Find out about the trips we offer to Egypt, we can customize any itinerary for you. And rest assured, we’ve visited every hotel and sailed on all the cruise ships we recommend!

Lion Battle Buffalo in Timbavati

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Two clients of ours took a trip to Timbavati, a private reserve adjacent to Kruger National park in South Africa. Kent Lawson and Carol Tambor were staying at King’s Camp (see more below). While on a game drive, they filmed this amazing encounter between 3 male lions and a huge herd of more than 300 buffalo.

Their story and video was picked up by the Daily Telegraph in the UK.

“One minute we were watching these lions hunting quietly and slowly and majestically and then all Hell broke loose. We came across this scene of incredible violence and tension and confrontation.” Kent and other tourists had been tracking the three lions through the African bush before the action unfolded. He said; “These three males are well-known to the park because they are unusual in the way they cooperate so well together… More

About Timbavati
Timbavati is a private nature reserve next to Kruger National Park, there are no fences separating the two parks so the animals you see are the same as you would encounter in Kruger. The advantages of a private reserve like Timbavati, is that visitors are allowed to go off the road and drive up close to the animals. Rangers make sure they are safe and don’t interfere with the animals in anyway, as you can see in the video. Rangers are also very familiar with the animals that tend to live and hunt in the private reserve, since the area is not as large as Kruger. This really adds to the safari experience because rangers know where to find the “Big 5″, and are familiar with the characteristics of individual members.

Private reserves allow visitors to go on walking safaris and enjoy sun downers in the park out of their vehicle. Visitors can also enjoy night drives, giving them a better chance at seeing some of the nocturnal animals like the elusive leopard. Other advantages include open topped safari vehicles. This footage is so clear because Kent could shoot the video right from his seat and didn’t have to deal with a window. Despite the proximity of the lions and buffalo they were still safe.

Kings Camp
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Kings Camp where Carol and Kent stayed, is lovely luxurious camp with 10 individual en-suite chalets, tastefully decorated and air-conditioned. There’s a comfortable lounge, dining room, bar, pool, restaurant, and curio shop on site.

Contact us if you’re interested in more information about an African safari. We can’t guarantee you’ll see 3 lions battling buffalo right in front of your jeep, but we certainly have the knowledge to give you the best odds on witnessing a scene like this!

Surviving Your Flight to Africa

Friday, May 7th, 2010

The latest trend among airlines is to charge extra for a seat that has more legroom, or is located in the front of the plane (but still in economy). So far South African Airlines haven’t jumped on the bandwagon, but we suspect it won’t be long before they do. A popular flight for many of our clients going on safari in Tanzania is the KLM flight to Kilimanjaro (via Amsterdam). KLM is charging $100 for seats near the front of the plane to Amsterdam, and a whopping $150 for the Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro leg. Some airlines are charging even more for exit row seats that used to be allocated upon check in. Now they’re a hot commodity with a price tag.

Given the length of the average flight from the US to Africa, we at African Portfolio would be happy to spend some extra dollars if means we can actually fit into our shoes at the end of the flight. The key is not to get mad if the back of the plane ends up being empty, and you’re squashed in the front on a very expensive economy class seat.

Tips to Survive Your Longhaul Flight to Africa

1) Be rested and be in shape – Physical stamina and conditioning will help you cope better after you land.
2) Set your watch – As soon as you board the flight, set your watch to your destination time zone.
3) Avoid alcohol & caffeine – They cause dehydration, disrupt sleeping schedules, and trigger nausea and general discomfort.
4) Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – Drink water, especially during the flight, to counteract the effects of the dry atmosphere inside the plane.
5) Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize – Carry skin lotion, nasal spray, eye drops and a facial spritzer to counteract the effects of the dry atmosphere inside the plane.
6) Move around on the plane – Remaining active wards off stiffness, and promotes mental and physical acuity which can ease the symptoms of jet lag.
7) Wear comfortable shoes and clothes – Avoid items that pinch, restrict, or chafe and dress for the climate in your destination time zone.

Once you arrive, adapt your behavior to the local schedule – If you arrive at dinner time, have dinner. If you arrive at night, go to bed. If you arrive during the day, go outside. Sunlight will cue your hypothalamus to reduce the production of sleep-inducing melatonin during the day.