Price reduction for Kenya & special deals on Botswana!!

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!

Our group watches a\n exhausted male lion (in between a week of mating every twenty minutes)

Our group watches an exhausted male lion (in between a week of mating every twenty minutes) – photo taken on my group safari July 2015

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!

An amazingly relaxed female leopard let us watch her for over an hour just before sunset

An amazingly relaxed female leopard let us watch her for over an hour just before sunset during my group safari in the Okavango Delta, December 2014

Africa in the Green Season – Two Special Deals!

One of the most common questions I get asked about Africa is “When is the best time to go?”  The answer to this isn’t as simple as you might think, and anyone who’s experienced the complexity of Africa’s seasons will tell you exactly that.

Gazelles, Ol Donyo, Kenya

Kenya in the green season is just beautiful

Of course, there is a typical ‘safari season’ between June and October, which is when most people go, during the cooler dry months when there is limited rainfall, moderate temperatures, grasses are low, many shrubs (like the mopanes in southern Africa) drop their leaves, and consequently visibility for wildlife sightings is better.  In East Africa, the safari season is when you’ve got the best chance of seeing the famous Great Wildebeest Migration.  The disadvantage of going in the ‘prime time’ for safaris, between about June and October, is that you pay a premium for the experience, in some places almost twice the price of other times of year.

So when do the locals go on safari?  Well, here’s the big secret.  It’s often not peak season, but in the ‘green’ season, between about November and May.  Personally it’s my favourite time of year and here’s why I reckon it’s worth considering.

1) Baby animal fiesta

When the rains finally come in Africa, nature responds with fresh green grass and this triggers a baby boom that will melt the heart of even the most hardened game ranger.  Baby impalas, baby cheetahs, baby springboks, baby wildebeests, baby zebras….  It’s a very special time of year around Feb/Mar when many of the babies drop and I just love being there then to witness it.

Baby impala

Baby impala in Botswana in late November

2) Epic thunder storms

To me Africa’s always been a place where I feel truly alive.  It’s hard to explain if you haven’t been there.  But during a thunderstorm the energy of the place is even more amazing.  There’s nothing like the smell of fresh rain on earth that hasn’t seen water in six months or so.  The photography opportunities afforded by the striking cloud formations as a big storm comes in are a dream for photographers.  Sure, you might get bogged in the mud the next day, but hey that’s part of the fun!

Okavango sunset, green season - cloudy skies make for great photos

Okavango sunset, green season (early December) – cloudy skies make for great photos

3) Won’t hurt your wallet as much

Another major advantage of travelling in the green season is that prices are much lower because it’s not peak season.  Sometimes you can pay more than half the price of peak season in the most popular safari countries like Kenya and Botswana.  So your money stretches further, which means you can stay in Africa longer!

Elephants in the Okavango, early green season

Relaxed elephants drinking in the Okavango, Botswana, in late November

My Green Season Safaris in 2016

I am leading two ethical safaris in 2016, the first to Kenya’s Maasai Mara in Feb/Mar and the second to Botswana’s Okavango Delta & Makgadigadi Pan in Oct/Nov, both limited to 10/12 people plus me (yep, you have your own personal zoologist all the way through and I will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the mating behaviour of dung beetles and the like!).  If you’d like to join one of these groups, let me know or contact me for more information.

Kenyan Maasai Mara Safari – Feb/Mar 2016

Day 1: Visit to Daphne Sheldrick’s elephant orphanage & overnight at Ole Serene Lodge, a luxury hotel in a game park in Nairobi

Days 2-4: 3 nights at Naibosho Camp, Maasai Mara, a unique community partnership in an astounding area for wildlife

Days 5-7: 3 nights at the Mara Houses, Maasai Mara, like living in your very own bush house in the wilderness

US$5250/person sharing – limited to 12 people (if we get more than 8 people I can reduce the price of this one further).

All inclusive price (all accommodation, meals, drinks etc), but excludes international flights.

This is exactly the same as my sold-out safari to Kenya this July (peak season), but with an extra night and for a lower price!

Kenya in the green season

Kenya in the green season

Botswana Okavango and Makgadigadi Safari – Oct/Nov 2016

Days 1-3: Arrive in Maun and fly to Pelo Camp, an eco-friendly oasis on a wildlife-rich island in the heart of the world heritage listed Okavango Delta.  Activities include wildlife viewing by both mokoro (wooden dugout canoe) and open vehicle.

Days 4-7: Return flight to Maun & drive to Meno A Kwena Camp, home to the San Bushmen & overlooking the Boteti River.  Includes cultural activities with the San Bushmen, the chance to see wild meerkats & a full day excursion & sleep-out at the Makgadigadi Pans National Park.

US$5,500/person sharing.  Limited to 10 people plus me.

All inclusive price (all accommodation, meals, drinks etc), but excludes international flights.

Early green season in the Okavango, Botswana, taken on my safari there in Nov last year

Early green season in the Okavango, Botswana, taken on my safari there in Nov last year

Dates will be confirmed as numbers firm up, but I need to book these camps now before they sell out so drop me a line now if you’re interested!

Join Author Sally Henderson in Botswana

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 10.02.38 amAuthor Sally Henderson and I have been good friends since long before either of us ever knew we would be published authors.  Like me, Sally loves Africa with a passion, and so I’m very excited to offer you the exclusive opportunity to travel to Africa with Sally during Botswana’s amazing green season this year!

Sally’s love affair with Africa and its elephants came to life in “Silent Footsteps” and in its sequel, “Ivory Moon”. Join this thoughtfully planned safari and you will experience that passion for yourself as Sally shares her unique perspective of the wilderness and its creatures. You might even learn a thing or two about writing along the way.

A one-off journey that makes a difference to local wildlife and people, the safari incudes the Kalahari Desert, the World Heritage listed Okavango Delta, the Chobe river ecosystem and the majestic Victoria Falls, a truly unforgettable exploration into untamed Africa among an intimate group of like-minded travellers. Traveling in the safety and comfort afforded by one of Africa’s top ecotourism operators, Wilderness Safaris, in partnership with Matson & Ridley Safaris, you will be taken care of every step of the way and can trust that a significant portion of what you pay to go on this safari benefits local people and wildlife.

Relaxed elephants drinking near Banoka Bush Camp

Relaxed elephants drinking in the Okvango in the green season (T. Matson)

In the green season you can expect awe-inspiring thunderstorms and sunsets, lots of baby animals and warm summer days and without the crowds and price tag of the dry winter months (check out my recent photos taken in Botswana’s green season last year – click here). Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to join Sally Henderson’s intimate adventure into the Okavango Delta for 9 nights in November this year. This intimate safari is limited to 8 people sharing so contact me now to sign up.

Sunday 29th November – Kalahari Plains Camp

Kalahari Plains Camp, Botswana

Kalahari Plains Camp, Botswana

Set in a remote part of the diverse and productive Central Kalahari Game Reserve, this camp offers some of the best summer wildlife viewing opportunities in Africa. Located in the largest conservation area in Botswana, its star attractions include the legendary Kalahari black-maned lion and excellent cheetah viewing. The camp itself overlooks an immense pan with endless horizons and beautiful skies. The main area has a lounge and dining area with a swimming pool and deck. Solar power provides all the electricity and hot water in camp and insulated canvas walls and roof keep temperatures inside the units comfortable. One of the unique experiences at this camp is the interpretive ‘Bushman walk’ where you can immerse yourself in the culture of the Kalahari San.


Tuesday 1st Dec 2015 – Gomoti Tented Camp, Botswana

Gomoti Tented Camp,

Gomoti Tented Camp, Botswana

Gomoti Tented Camp lies in the centre of the private 6 000-hectare Santawani Concession, in the south-east corner of the Okavango Delta. The camp is nestled under large acacia trees in a diverse game-rich area. Most of the concession area comprises a mixed woodland habitat that gives way to open grasslands which can transform into floodplains in years of plentiful water. The area is rich with the wildlife for which the Okavango Delta is famous, including elephants, lions, African wild dogs, cheetahs and leopards.


Friday 4 Dec 2015 – Linyanti Discoverer Camp, Botswana

Linyanti Discoverer Camp, Botswana

Linyanti Discoverer Camp, Botswana

Set in the 125 000-hectare Linyanti Concession bordering Chobe National Park, Linyanti Discoverer Camp is your base from which to explore this enormous wildlife-rich area. Unrivalled in its remoteness and space, the concession is bisected by an ancient watercourse – the now-flowing Savute Channel. Wildlife is abundant and includes the seldom-seen sitatunga that can be spotted in the waterways, as well as the rare sable antelope.



Mon 7 Dec 2015 –Toka Leya Camp, Zambia

Toka Leya Camp, Zambia

Toka Leya Camp, Zambia

Overlooking the mighty Zambezi River and some of its islands, Toka Leya Camp is siutated in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park.  The camp’s dining, lounge and bar areas offer ample space for relaxation and are complemented by an infinity pool, with meals served on the sundeck, the pool deck and dining room all overlooking the Zambezi. Situated just 12 kilometres from the world-renowned Victoria Falls, hippo, crocodile and elephant are regularly seen in or near camp.  On the way to Toka Leya Camp you will experience a Chobe River boat cruise, and the opportunity to see elephants and hippos from this magnificent wildlife-rich waterway.



Inclusions on the Safari

  • All accommodation as specified in the itinerary
  • All meals (three course dinners), including the lodge/hotel in Livingstone
  • All soft drinks, beer, fruit juice, mineral water and house wine, as well as small selection of local liquors
  • Activities, guided tour of the Victoria Falls as specified in the brief itinerary
  • Seat-in-plane light aircraft transfers (including departure taxes where applicable) as specified in the brief information
  • Limited laundry is available ,all smalls to be done by guests


Exclusions on the Safari

  • International flights
  • Visas
  • All relevant entry and departure government stipulated fees/taxes and unexpected increases thereto
  • All personal purchases, including curios, premium brand liquors, telephone calls, etc.
  • Any pre- and/or -post tour arrangements
  • Optional extra activities/services not included in the brief itinerary
  • All flights (other than specified)
  • Gratuities





Contact me now to sign up!

The Awesome Okavango

There are few places in the world where you can watch wild animals at very close range without them being affected by your presence.  Botswana’s Okavango Delta is one of these rare places and if you’ve never seen it, believe me, it’s worth the visit.

Up close and personal with an African wild dog at Chitabe - the most amazing area I've been to for up close and personal experiences with predators

Up close and personal with an African wild dog at Chitabe – the most amazing area I’ve been to for  experiences with predators who basically ignore vehicles


Okavango Magic, Botswana

The week before last I went a shade of envy-green….  After finishing up at Earth Hour after 11 years with WWF, my husband Andy Ridley, who, as you all know, I love and adore, travelled to the Okavango Delta in Botswana – without moi!  There he experienced the pure magic that only this part of Africa offers.  There is simply nowhere like the Delta.  Take a look at his photos to see why I was so jealous….  Andy has written the captions below each photo.  If you’d like to join Andy or me in Botswana next year, or if you’d like me to arrange your own personalised African safari through Matson & Ridley Safaris, drop me a line now!  Remember that safari camps in the Okavango are incredibly popular, so if you want your choice of camps it’s best to start planning a year in advance.

ele spray lowres

Heading out into the Delta from Vumburra Plains Camp, we came across this herd of elephants playing.


My favourite safari destinations in Africa

Africa’s a big place.  Actually, really big.  You can fit all of China, India and much of Europe into it’s vast landscape.  So when you’re planning to go on safari, where do you start?  And once you’ve been once, and you’ve got the Africa bug, where do you go next?

Africa is a big place!

Africa is a big place!

So what’s your favourite safari destination?  It’s a tough question, because they all have their merits.  In this blog I’m going to have a crack at sharing my current top 5 safari destinations and let you make up your mind where’s best for you to live out your dream.

1. Okavango Delta, Botswana

It’s not just that the Okavango is literally teeming with wildlife in the most beautiful palm tree lined wetlands you can imagine, it’s that Botswana itself is such a wonderful conservation success story.  With strong and stable political leadership, a healthy economy and 45% of the population being employed in tourism, it’s no wonder this land-locked country at the centre of southern Africa is doing so well at conserving its wildlife.

Vumburra area, Okavango Delta, Botswana (Photo: Wilderness Safaris)

Vumburra area, Okavango Delta, Botswana (Photo: Wilderness Safaris)

The human population is only about 2 million and most of the country is classified as desert, so you don’t get the human pressures that you get in other more highly populated African nations (violent crime being one of them).   You’ll see all sorts of interesting critters in Botswana, including all the big cats, African wild dogs, the sitatunga, a wetland dwelling antelope I have yet to feast my eyes on, and the largest elephant population in the world.  Besides that, who wouldn’t want to explore nature in a mokoro?

Suggested Camps:  Chitabe (for predators galore), Xigera (for wetlands, mokoros & sitatungas), Vumburra Plains (for pure luxury in my kind of heaven).

Xigera Camp, Botswana (photo: Wilderness Safaris)

Xigera Camp, Botswana (photo: Wilderness Safaris)

2. Zimbabwe

This choice might surprise you.  Zimbabwe is where I started my African journey back in 1993 on a safari with my Dad at the age of 15 in the Save Valley Conservancy, and it’s still a special place to me.  The Save Valley Conservancy remains one of the best places in Africa to see rare African wild dogs.  If you go during June, July, August, you’ve got a very good chance of seeing pups at dens, and that is just the cutest thing ever.  If you arrange to visit through me, you can also meet the team running the rhino anti-poaching operation, Bryce and Lara, and the Turgwe Hippo Trust‘s Karen Paolillo, who has been studying the area’s hippos for decades.

African wild dog pups, Save Valley Conservancy, Zimbabwe (Photo: Tammie Matson)

African wild dog pups, Save Valley Conservancy, Zimbabwe (Photo: Tammie Matson)

I also love Hwange National Park.  It feels like old Africa to me, and the wildlife there, especially in the dry season (June-Oct), is spectacular.  I’ve had lions walk right beside the open vehicle in Hwange, and elephants in their hundreds lining up at waterholes.  The thing about Zimbabwe is that many people aren’t traveling there because of the political instability brought about by the current regime.  But I’ve been traveling there with my family in the last five years without any troubles, and the people are as friendly and welcoming as ever.  And of course, on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia is the famous Victoria Falls, which you have to see at least once in your life to have your breath literally taken out of you.

Suggested Camps: Sango (Save Valley Conservancy), Little Makololo (Hwange National Park), the River Club (at Victoria Falls, on the Zambian side near Livingstone)

Little Makololo Camp, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

Little Makololo Camp, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

3. Kenya

I only recently ventured into East Africa, having spent the last couple of decades exploring what southern Africa has to offer, and man, was I blown away by Kenya!  They’ve been doing safaris in style there for a long time, and it shows in the quality of the experiences they can offer.  One very good reason to go to Kenya is that it has the famous great wildebeest migration in the Masai Mara.  You have to time this carefully to make sure you’re in the right place at the right time.  I am taking a group of up to 12 to Kenya in July next year (safari details here) and there are still spots available for now, but please don’t wait to register your interest as my other two trips to Namibia and Botswana sold out in record time!).

Masai Mara, Kenya (photo: Asilia)

Masai Mara, Kenya (photo: Asilia)

When I got off the plane at Ol Donyo in the Chyulu Hills, nestled between Amboseli and Tsavo National Parks, I looked across the vast grass plains and up to the gobsmacking sight of Mount Kilimanjaro, and I was speechless.  The key with traveling in Kenya is to avoid the crowds of minibuses and go with a good operator that offers you exclusivity with the wildlife.  And as always, I suggest staying at lodges that operate in partnerships with local communities and conservation organisations, so you know your tourism dollars are helping make a difference on the ground.  Kenya is also the home of Daphne Sheldrick’s famous elephant orphanage, a truly special experience that has brought many tears to the eyes of those who visit.

The author overlooking the plains of Chyulu Hills, Kenya (Photo: Nadya Hutagalung)

The author overlooking the plains of Chyulu Hills, Kenya (Photo: Nadya Hutagalung)

Suggested lodges: Naibosho (Masai Mara – a luxury, community partnership lodge), Ol Donyo (near Amboseli National Park, operating in partnership with the Big Life Foundation and local Masai community)

4. Namibia

Having lived in Namibia for six years, studying black-faced impalas and later working on human-elephant conflict, I’ve still got a soft spot for this vast desert land.  You won’t get a sense of space like this anywhere else in the world.  The silence in the Namib desert can be overwhelming when you live in a noisy city, and can actually take a bit of adjusting to!  Spotting unique desert creatures like oryxes, springboks and ostriches on the desert plains is one of the best things about being in Namibia, as is seeing the vast congregations of animals at waterholes during the dry season (July-October).

Desert Rhino Camp, Namibia

Desert Rhino Camp, Namibia (photo: Wilderness Safaris)

Etosha National Park is famous for its white elephants (coated in white dust from the Etosha salt pan) and is one of the best places in Africa to see black rhinos.  I also love the north west of Namibia, the Skeleton Coast and Damaraland, where you get desert adapted lions and elephants eking out an existence alongside traditional ethnic groups like the ovaHimbas.    My absolute favourite camp in Namibia?  Serra Cafema, for sure.  Up on the border with Angola, right at the top of Namibia, on the Kunene River, it’s the most remote camp in Africa and going there is like going to the moon (in a very good way!).

Suggested camps: Ongava (for Etosha & rhinos), Serra Cafema (for having your mind blown by desert solitude), Desert Rhino Camp (Damaraland, for tracking desert rhinos & supporting Save The Rhino Trust)

Serra Cafema, my favourite camp in Namibia (photo: Wilderness Safaris)

Serra Cafema, my favourite camp in Namibia (photo: Wilderness Safaris)

5. Okay so now I’m up to number five, and of course, this is not easy, as there are lots of other great options for safaris that I’d like to include here, like South Luangwa National Park in Zambia (real wild Africa with tonnes of elephants) and even some I haven’t been to that I really want to see, like Ethiopia, Tanzania and Mozambique, but I think the final choice for this blog, based on what I’ve seen to date, has to be Kruger National Park, South Africa.

There’s really no other national park like Kruger for an awesome ‘big five’ experience.  But it’s the private reserves on the edge of the park that you want to stay in.  South Africa offers so many luxurious and mid range options for families, couples or groups, that it’s hard to know where to start.  You’ll get a lot for less price in South Africa because there’s a lot of competition and very high standards of accommodation.  It’s a great starting point for a first safari, especially for families as they specialise in this.  At Tinstwalo last year with then 3 year old Solo, we saw the entire big five, including an incredible leopard sighting and mating lions, in 36 hours!

Leopard at Tintswalo, South Africa (photo: Tintswalo)

Leopard at Tintswalo, South Africa (photo: Tintswalo)

There are excellent malaria-free reserves in South Africa too, guides that specialise in giving kids an amazing learning experience, and you can always add on a few days exploring Capetown and the magnificent mountains and wineries of the region.

Suggested camps:  Tintswalo (for luxury, incredible wildlife & families), Grootbos (2 hours from Capetown, for families & marine life)

Solo (then aged 3) got to pretend to drive the Land Cruiser while on safari at Tintswalo, South Africa, which was definitely a highlight of the trip for him.

Solo (then aged 3) got to pretend to drive the Land Cruiser while on safari at Tintswalo, South Africa, which was definitely a highlight of the trip for him.