My 2016 and 2017 safaris are filling up fast! But it’s not too late to grab a last minute place if you get in quick.
ZIMBABWE 2016 – ONLY ONE ROOM LEFT!
I have one room left for my northern Zimbabwe journey from 23-30 September this year. That means two people sharing, so grab a friend and come along! This is the last room left for my safaris this year! I absolutely love this part of Zimbabwe and the people. We’ll be visiting Mana Pools, Hwange National Park and the legendary Victoria Falls, staying in private exclusive concessions to ensure the experience is second to none. I’ll be arranging local experts to talk to us about research and conservation work being done in these areas, and you’ll come home with a unique insight into this magnificent country. Zim to me is all about being among friendly people, big rivers and lots and lots of wildlife. Read more about the safari here. Contact me for the full itinerary. Maximum of 9 people on this trip. If you’ve been deliberating don’t wait any longer to sign up!
RWANDA & TANZANIA 2017 – ONE ROOM LEFT!
I have only 2 spots left for both my gorilla trekking adventure in Rwanda and the following safari into the magnificent Serengeti in Tanzania left for two very lucky people! I am doing these two safaris back to back from 7 August 2017, first 5 nights in Rwanda, then 6 nights in Tanzania. Read more here. We are staying at the best camps in the best private areas, showcasing the wildebeest migration at the best time of year! I’ve hand picked all my camps as always to ensure we have an outstanding experience but also to make the maximum contribution back to local communities and conservation. My Rwanda safari will have a maximum of 8 people, and Tanzania up to 9. If you’ve ever dreamed of trekking with gorillas or experiencing the Serengeti, here’s your chance to do it with a small group of wildlife-loving people and your own personal zoologist!
Where do YOU want to go on safari next? Leave a comment here with your dream destinations in Africa and let’s see if we can make a group trip happen!
I posted an article on my Facebook page from National Geographic last week about young gorillas seen dismantling poachers’ snares for the first time. It suggests that the youngsters knew how dangerous the traps were and researchers said they may have done it before, given how quickly they dismantled it. For a critically endangered species with less than 900 left in the wild, this is a good sign because with such low numbers we really can’t afford to lose any wild gorillas, especially the next generation.
Their numbers remain low, but responsible tourism has been key to the fact that gorilla populations are now increasing in the wild. Tourism now accounts for almost 8% of Rwanda’s GDP and this gives the government and the local people real incentives to keep the mountain gorillas that sit at the heart of the country’s tourism alive. Read more about how responsible tourism is key to the survival of mountain gorillas here.
August 2017 may seem like a long way off but that gives you an idea of the popularity of the highly awarded safari camps I’ll be taking two groups to to trek with mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcano mountains followed by a week at Ngorogoro crater and the Serengeti in Tanzania. We have to book this far ahead to secure space. I’ve had a lot of interest already in both trips and I’ll be taking a maximum of 10 people on each. I’ve personally hand picked every element of both safaris – they’re going to be amazing!
Anyone who’s been on one of my group safaris knows how intimate these adventures are. I keep the groups small because I like to get to know people and I find that a small group size also enables firm friendships among like minds to be made. These are wild, adventurous, spiritual experiences that will change your life while benefiting local people and wildlife – not your run of the mill safari! So if you’d like to confirm your place, please get in touch with me now to pay your deposit and make sure you don’t miss out! I already have more interest than I have places, so the sooner you confirm your place the better.
Read all about my 2 group safaris in Rwanda and Tanzania by clicking here. Contact me for a full itinerary with all the inclusions (as with all my safaris, almost everything is included in the price other than your international flight).
There’s more information on all the safaris we offer at Matson & Ridley Safaris on our new website so click here to learn more. I also have one spot left for a single woman on my Namibian Skeleton Coast safari in May this year and 3 spots left for a couple and a single woman on my Zimbabwean safari in September this year.
Hope to see you on safari soon!
I’m getting very excited about my upcoming safaris in 2016, which are set to be in some of Africa’s most spectacular wilderness areas! As always when you book with Matson & Ridley Safaris, the whole experience are specially hand-designed by me every step of the way to ensure that your hard earned dollars are spent as ethically as possible, to maximise benefits flowing back to African people and their wildlife. And of course, I choose the areas and camps I want to go to based on the best I can find in terms of wildlife experience, exclusivity, camp feeling and local culture – so you get a mind-blowing African journey that will change your life. Most groups I take are between 8 and 12 people, so you get to know people really well. Imagine yourself spending time with like minds on the savannah while watching elephants and then spinning a few yarns under the starry night sky by the campfire later – life doesn’t get much better really!
I have a few spots for my safaris left in 2016, but don’t wait to grab your spots as these have to be booked this year.
20-27 Feb 2016.
Up to 7 places left, but time is very limited to sign up for this trip as you only have until THIS FRIDAY! Check out my photos from last year’s trip. An unforgettable journey – I can’t recommend this area highly enough!
20-27 May 2016.
Only one spot left for a single female!! Check out my photos from this year’s trip to Namibia.
23-30 September 2016.
Only 3 spots left! This trip is different to the one I advertised previously as it focuses only on northern Zimbabwe. We are going to some of the most wildlife rich areas in Africa – an unbeatable nature experience at some of the most gorgeous camps in the country. Contact me for the itinerary.
Shortly I’ll be releasing the details of the conservation safaris I’ll be leading in 2017. I can share at this stage that there will be two back-to-back ethical safaris that you can join either one of or both during August 2017. The first, starting on 8 August 2017, will be to Rwanda to experience the incredible Mountain Gorillas up close and personal. The second starting 5 days later, is in Tanzania, exploring the great plains of East Africa’s Great Rift Valley, first at Ngorogoro Crater and then onto the world famous Serengeti, during the height of the wildebeest migration. There will be an add-on adventure at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro for those who are keen to continue the journey after the Serengeti! Full details of both of these adventures will be in a blog very soon, but do drop me a line if you’re keen to register your interest…
Kenya and Botswana are two of the most amazing wildlife destinations in Africa, but they do come at a price. If you’ve always wanted to travel to these countries, you can save a lot of money by going in the green season.
Today I can announce a great saving on my Kenyan safari from 20-27 February next year. I’m taking a small, intimate group of adventurers with me to the world famous Maasai Mara in Kenya, following a visit to the wonderful elephant orphanage run by Dame Daphne Sheldrick in Nairobi, staying in the best areas in communal conservancies that directly benefit local Maasai communities. I still have a few spots left and I’m offering them at a reduced rate if you get in quick!
Price now reduced to US$5000/per person sharing!! Contact me now for the full itinerary. This saving is only valid for the next two weeks til 6th November, so get in quick for this special last minute rate!
Check out my photos from the Maasai Mara in July here – it’s spectacular! Our trip in February is during the green season which is just beautiful and full of baby animals….
And there are some great deals going in the Okavango Delta if you can travel between January and April next year. Consider going on a 6 night safari at prime Wilderness Safaris explorations camps in this world heritage area for just US$3,499/person sharing (valid for travel between Jan-April, set dates). This is a great saving in one of the most wildlife-rich parts of Africa, and much less expensive than going in peak season. But availability won’t last so get in touch quickly if you’re interested.
For information on special deals in Botswana or to sign up for my Kenyan safari in February at the reduced rate, get in touch with me now!
Is there anything as cute as African wild dog puppies? It’s definitely one of the highlights of going on safari if you get to see Africa’s painted dogs tending to their youngsters a their den or on a hunt, especially given their rarity in the wild (there are thought to be only about 5000 or so left on the entire continent). But did you know that these unique carnivores need huge areas to survive, that they are ‘caring and sharing’ towards each other, and that their play with each other actually serves an important purpose?
Two impressive researchers, Dr Rosemary Groom, and Masters graduate Jess Watermeyer, of the African Wildlife Conservation Fund, get to study these highly endangered creatures in their day job in the Save Valley Conservancy, Zimbabwe. I asked Rosemary and Jess to share their insights into African wild dog ecology with us. Read on – it’s fascinating stuff!
Wild Dog Fact #1
The scientific name for the African Wild dog means “painted wolf” (combination of Latin and Greek). Wild dogs are not related to domestic dogs and cannot interbreed with them. They are a single species on a unique evolutionary lineage and if anything are more closely related to wolves than dogs.
Wild Dog Fact #2
No two wild dogs have the same markings, which makes them easily identifiable as individuals. When they are born, they lack the tan colouration but their white markings are clear and do not change as they grow up, so you can identify which adult was which 3 week old pup!
Wild Dog Fact #3
Wild dogs are found only at very low densities – on average 2 dogs per 100 square kilometres. This means that an area the size of Greater London, which is home to 7.5 million people, could only support one or two African wild dog packs. And Washington DC – home to c. 700,000 could support less than 4 wild dogs.
Wild Dog Fact #4
Wild dogs have a very caring social structure. Pups that are old enough to eat solid food are given priority at a kill, even over the dominant pair.
Wild Dog Fact #5
The dogs have a peculiar and rather playful ceremony that bonds them for a common purpose and initiates each hunt. They start circulating among the other pack members, vocalizing and touching until they get excited and are ready to hunt. This reaffirms the social status – affirms sub-ordinance and dominance which prevents the need for aggressive behaviour within a pack.
Wild Dog Fact #6
African wild dogs are obligate cooperative breeders. Usually only a single pair within the pack will breed and the rest of the pack will help them to raise the young (e.g. by feeding and also babysitting). They also hunt cooperatively.
Wild Dog Fact #7
Wild dogs often use termite mounds that have previously been excavated by aardvarks or porcupines as a den. The pups are born in the den and only emerge for the first time at 2-3 weeks of age.
Wild Dog Fact #8
Wild dogs do not bring back bones and chunks of meat to the den. Instead, when the pups are weaned, any adult returning from a successful hunt will regurgitate meat for the pups. This helps to prevent a smelly build up of old bones etc at the den which may attract lions or hyenas which can kill pups.
Wild Dog Fact #9
When feeding, they lack aggression towards each other and share the kill; even with members who may not have been involved in the actual hunt (this is unlike most other social carnivores). Wild dogs look after the weak and the sick in the pack and bring food back for them.
Wild Dog Fact #10
African wild dogs were once considered a pest and were shot in large numbers in parts of Africa including Zimbabwe. Fortunately the mind set has changed and the dogs are now valued as the unique and remarkable animals they are.
I don’t know about you, but I always think the more you get to know a species the more respect you have for it. It wasn’t that long ago that African wild dogs were considered vermin, being hunted out to near extinction. These days, they’re one of the most interesting species you can watch while in the African bush and a highly prized sight on safari. Here’s hoping you get to see one on your next African adventure!
If you’d like to support the extremely worthy work being done by the team at the African Wildlife Conservation Fund, please make a donation and help them keep up their important work to conserve this species. Click on their Donate page here.
As part of my travel agency, Matson & Ridley Safaris, I will be leading two safaris to two of my favourite parts of Africa in 2016. Based on my past safaris, the very limited spaces (maximum 12 people) book out very fast, so if you’d like to join please drop me a line now! These camps have to be booked now because they are so popular they book out a year in advance or more. And as with all my safaris, the camps are selected by me to ensure your tourism dollars make a difference on the ground. Trust me, these safaris will change your life! (more…)
It’s not often that you hear good news from Zimbabwe, and even rarer that you hear good news in conservation. So this blog might come as a surprise to some because for once it’s not bad news! If you came along to the fundraiser I did with the SAVE Foundation in Sydney in August last year, linked to the launch of my latest book “Planet Elephant“, you helped raise funds for the intensive anti-poaching efforts being led by specialists Bryce and Lara Clemence of Aggressive Tracking Specialists (ATS) in the Save Valley Conservancy, Zimbabwe. (more…)
WA friends, I’m very excited to announce I’ll be joining fellow African wildlife lovers in Perth for the dedicated folks at the Painted Dog Conservation group on Friday 13th February at the Perth Zoo Lecture Theatre. Tickets are $40/person and includes food and beverage. Bookings are essential through Angela at email@example.com . I’ll be talking about the elephant situation, the illegal ivory trade and the Let Elephants Be Elephants project, and showing the documentary of the same name. There will be a healthy dose of Africa-itis in the room!
It’s for a good cause of course! The night includes an auction to raise funds for African wild dog research and conservation work being done by the African Wildlife Conservation Fund in the Save Valley Conservancy, Zimbabwe, a place very close to my heart. So come along if you’re in the area!
I just adore wild dogs and they’re among the most endangered predators on the planet, with only about 5000 in the wild. Check out my video footage taken of the cutest wild dog pups you’re ever likely to see from Zimbabwe (rapidly approaching 5000 youtube hits!).
Being based in my old haunt, South East Queensland, for the next month or so, it seems too good an opportunity to miss to get together with fellow Africa-lovers in this part of the world. Annie from Annie’s Books on Perigian, a huge Africaphile herself, is hosting a night of Africa with yours truly on Wednesday 21st January at the Perigian Beach Community House at the Sunshine Coast (near Noosa).
I’ll be showing the Let Elephants Be Elephants documentary, which aired across Asia on National Geographic channel last year, but hasn’t yet been shown in Australia, and of course, talking about Africa, elephants and all things safari-esque! Only $15/person and includes wine and cheese – what a deal!
For further details check out Annie’s Books on Perigian website by clicking here.
WEDNESDAY 21st JANUARY 6.00pm
PEREGIAN BEACH COMMUNITY HOUSE, SUNSHINE COAST, QLD
$15 per person (includes wine & cheese_ Bookings 5448 2053 or email Annie at firstname.lastname@example.org
Look forward to seeing you there SEQ!
If you have a strong community of Africaphiles around you who’ve all got ‘the Africa bug’ real bad and you’d like me to join you for an evening where you live, drop me a line through my website.
There’s never been a better time to go to Kenya, as while tourist numbers are down you’ll get better deals to travel there than ever before. Kenya is EBOLA FREE (the ebola zone in west Africa is closer to London than it is to Nairobi) and the terrorist attacks that have been highlighted in the news, including the one at Westgate shopping centre last year, are nowhere near the safari areas. Those in the know are making the most of the great deals while they last!
I’ve managed to secure an amazing deal for a group to join me in the world famous Maasai Mara ecosystem from 15-21 July 2015, so if you’ve ever wanted to see this incredible country at its finest and in style, with your own personal zoologist on hand to ask about everything from the antelopes to the dung beetles, now’s your chance! If it’s half as good as my last group safari to Botswana then those who join me on this safari are in for a real treat.
As always on the tours I lead, I’ve picked the camps to ensure complete comfort in the bush, but the real advantage of these camps is the exclusivity. I always try and pick camps that operate in partnership with local indigenous communities, and this safari is no different. Plus, because the camps are in private game reserves, you get the huge numbers of wildlife without the huge numbers of people – and that makes a big difference when you’re on your safari of a lifetime – trust me!
So this safari kicks off in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, with a night at the Ol Sereni Hotel, a hotel in a game park in the city (yes really!). We have a private viewing with the adorable orphaned baby elephants and their wonderful keepers at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust that afternoon, organised just for us, an experience you’ll never forget.
Then the next morning, it’s off to the Maasai Mara for the wildlife experience of a lifetime! I’ve intentionally picked July to go as that’s the start of the Great Wildebeest Migration. With nature of course there’s no guarantees, but July-October is generally the time of year when your chances are best of seeing the wildebeest migration in this part of Africa. The area is also famous for its big cats and has an abundance of plains species, including giraffes and zebras.
Our first camp for two nights is Naibosho Camp, a community partnership with the local Maasai community. It’s part of the 50,000 acre Mara Naibosho Conservancy and adjoins the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, which we will visit during our time there. Naibosho literally means ‘harmony’ and every aspect combines comfort with considerations for the environment, providing a luxury tented camp that touches the earth lightly and benefits the locals. Here you can expect to see everything you’d see in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve itself, but without the crowds.
Then we have 3 nights in two private houses, the Mara Bush Houses, in a different part of the Maasai Mara ecosystem. Each room has its own private ensuite and of course, the whole experience is tailored for you, with private vehicle and guides of the highest standard. This area is run in partnership with a local Maasai family, the Looseyia family.
If you’d like to join me on this exclusive Maasai Mara safari for an unforgettable week, plus our own private viewing at Daphne Sheldrick’s famous elephant orphanage, let me know by clicking here. Kids over the age of 12 are more than welcome as long as they are accompanied by a guardian/parent. Once you get in touch I’ll send you an itinerary and costing by email. Numbers are strictly limited (10-12) and places won’t last, so grab your spot now!