Adventure Travel Blog

  1. Our Trademark Cape Town Experiences

    Anna x country skiing Anna on 28th January 2015 | 0 comments

    It can be a bit over-whelming knowing where to start when visiting a city like Cape Town - there is just so much to see. We pride ourselves on having a truly unique offering in Cape Town, which we couple with lovingly hand-picked accommodation. There are so many different ways of getting under the skin of Cape Town and we have taken great pride in selecting some of the best experiences with the best guides. There is no real substitute for spending a day with a local guide. Not only are you helping to support the local economy, but you are also getting a chance to speak to someone who has grown up in South Africa during a most turbulent time who will be able to add some genuine insights into the country, which will help to set the scene once you head off on the rest of your holiday.  With the lack of jet lag and the prospect of a good night's sleep on the plane on the way over, there is no reason why you can't get out and about on your first afternoon, discovering the best of what Cape Town has to offer. Please have a browse through some of our favourite experiences and let us know which ones you would like us to include in your itinerary.

    Guided Cycling Tour (Suitable for adults & children)

    A short guided cycle tour is a lovely way to see the waterfront and stretch your legs after a long flight, recommended for a first afternoon in Cape Town. The pace is gentle and is a lovely introduction to what the waterfront area has to offer. Cycling is mainly on the flat and is suitable for all ages.(Children's seats & bikes available for all ages and abilities) DSC02903

    Robben Island Visit (Suitable for adults & children)

    Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela was held, is on many wishlists for visitors to Cape Town. However, we offer our own twist on this as our guide is Lionel Davies, who was himself in Robben Island at the same time as Mandela. Lionel will take you around the island and will give you a deep insight into what it was like being imprisoned there and will also share stories of the part he played in the anti-apartheid movement. 

    Guided Table Mountain Hike - (Suitable for adults & children)

    There is no better place to get a sense of Cape Town than from the top of Table mountain amidst the lush fynbos, indigenous to the region. Most tourists venture no more than 5 minutes from the Cableway, however we recommend getting away from the crowds. There are several options to choose between, depending on how active you want to be. For those wanting a gentle guided walk, there is a lovely 2 hour circular walk on the plateau to Maclears Beacon, the highest point on Table Mountain. The trail passes stunning viewpoints and marsh and fynbos bush. For the more adventurous, we recommend a more challenging trek climbing Table Mountain via Skeleton Gorge or from the Twelve Apostles (around 6 hours) and taking the Cableway down. And if you want something challenging and want to really get away from everyone, then we suggest our three day Table Mountain hike, camping along the way. DSC03019

    Private Wine Tours (Suitable for adults & children)

    If you like wine and the finer things of life, then we suggest spending a day visiting vineyards and artisanal producers with our guide Pamela, a passionate foodie and local resident. You can get stuck into some fine wines and enjoy delicious great food in incredibly beautiful surroundings. Pamela knows the vineyards inside out and, for our family visitors, has picked out those with space for the kids to run around; from the jungle gym and famous hot chocolate at Warwick Estate to the gorgeous gardens and fruit orchards (where the children can help themselves to fruit) at Babylonstoren. Pam does all the driving, so you can just sit back and enjoy yourself. 

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    Guided Township Tours (Suitable for adults & children)

    It is all too easy to travel through the Cape region in comfortable lodges and not have any sense of how the majority of the country lives. On the basis that exposure breeds understanding and awareness, we think it is a good thing to learn about this magnificent country's turbulent past and present and fascinating culture. If this is done sensitively, it can hugely beneficial to both the township residents and also the visitor. We work with a couple of fantastic projects in the townships, a gentle bike tour through the township of Masiphumelele and a township cooking class, where you learn to cook local staples such as Pap, chakalaka, samp and African stew in an inspiring cooking school that is teaching the catering trade to locals in the townships. IMG_1074

    Cape Town Foodie Experience (Suitable for adults only)

    For those interested in food and cooking, we recommend spending a day with our resident Capetonian foodie, Pamela who will take you on a tour of her favourite eateries in town. South Africa is a melting pot of numerous cultures and her tour will give you an insight into all of these and will also explore you to their different cuisines.  You will walk the streets of Cape Town together, stopping to taste a mixture of traditional food, South African street food and to visit some artisan foodie and coffee shops. If you prefer something more hands on, then we can arrange a cookery course for you with a local chef who will teach you all about Cape Malay food. cape town food tour

    And for the more adventurous.......

     

    Guided Kayaking trip to Boulders Beach (Suitable for adults & children aged 10+)

    At Boulder's Beach on the Cape Peninsula, there is a colony of penguins that you can go and visit. However, rather than waiting on the beach to spot these creatures, we suggest taking to the seas and viewing them from the comfort of your own kayak. Heading away from the beach past the harbour, you will paddle to Boulder’s Beach. If you’re lucky, you may see the penguins swimming alongside you in the water, or hopping on to the beach. The double kayaks are very stable and perfect for those with no paddling experience. After viewing the penguins, you will stop on the beach for refreshments and a swim before heading back. kayak cape town 

    Mountain Biking tour (Suitable for adults only)

    If you really want to let off some steam, then we suggest spending a day off the beaten track with one of our mountain biking guides. There is a variety of rides on offer, depending on your level of experience and how adventurous you are feeling. We guarantee excellent views, great climbs and beautiful surroundings. You  can choose between an epic ride up the lower slopes of Table Mountain, leg busting climbs through Tokai forest and free-spirited off road riding in Silvermine Nature Reserve. These are private departures, so you can go at your own pace, but you do need to be experienced to take part. mountain biking sa

    If you would like to book any of these tours, or include them in your tailor-made itinerary, please get in touch.

  2. When & Where to go on Safari

    Missing ben on 18th December 2014 | 0 comments

    When to travel

     JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
    Kenya - -
    S Africa (Kruger)
    South Africa (Cape)
    Namibia -
    Tanzania - -
    Mozambique (Northern)
    Mozambique (Southern)
    Malawi
    Botswana
    Zambia
    Ethiopia (North) - - -

     = Excellent  = Good - = Off-Season but possible)

    Peak Seasons - love them or hate them?

    Whether you want your visit to coincide with the herds of wildlife or whether you want to avoid the herds of tourists is very much a personal choice. It pays though, to come pre-warned:

    Masai Mara in July / August: Up to 100 safari vehicles have been known to congregate at one sighting in the Masai Mara during July and August. The reason? The annual migration when vast herds of wildebeest congregate within a relatively small space and dice with death as they attempt to cross the Mara River. It is an incredible spectacle and well worth a visit, however, there is more to safari than sheer numbers and the Mara is magnifcent year round. If you do want to take in the migration then you need to know that it will mean long days sitting and waiting by the Mara River waiting for an elusive crossing to play out. Our favourite recommendation for those keen to witness this spectacle is Entim Camp which has a spot on position in a private spot on the banks of the Mara river.

    Cape Town & The Garden Route during Christmas and New Years
    Christmas and New Year coincide with the height of summer in the Cape when South Africans from Johannesburg and overseas migrate en masse to the Cape. We usually recommend clients avoid this period unless it is the only time of the year they can possibly make work.

    Wildebeest Migration
    Wildebeest crossign the Mara River during the Annual Migration

    Stuck with the School Holidays?

    February Half Term: Kenya, Tanzania or South Africa's Cape and Garden Route areas.
    With usually only a week to play with, the scope for exploring widely is somewhat limited. However this is a great time for some winter sun and safari in Kenya or Tanzania

    Easter & May Half Term: South Africa's Cape, Garden Route, Kruger & KZN areas, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia
    In Southern Africa the summer season is coming to a close but there is still usually good weather even in the Southern most areas of the Cape. Eastern Africa is usually avoided due to the long rains, however we have managed to source some incredible value safaris for families in Kenya and Tanzania during the May Half Term, and the rains, although daily, do usually clear up for some sunshine each day.

    Summer Holidays: Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa's Kruger and KwaZulu-Natal areas, Namibia Botswana and Zambia
    Come July, Kenya's Masai Mara plays host to arguably the most spectacular wildlife event of the year, the annual migration of massive herds of wildebeest, zebra and accompanying predators. This is also one of the best times of the year to be in the Kruger and KwaZulu-Natal regions of South Africa. The Cape region of South Africa is in winter, with Cape Town in particular buffeted by strong wind and rain.

    October Half Term: Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa's Cape, Garden Route, Kruger & KZN areas, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia
    Again, with only a week to play with it pays to choose carefully. Although it is heading towards the short rains in Kenya and Tanzania, these usually involve only a very short period of rain each day and are not worth worrying about. Southern Africa all works well at this time of the year.

    Christmas Holidays: Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa's Cape and Garden Route areas
    Christmas and New Year brings optimal weather, but peak prices and crowds to Cape Town and the Garden Route and much of East Africa. Still if you want to get away for something special at Christmas it is hard to beat a safari and beach combination.

    How Green is Green?

    The rains of the green season put many people off, but for those whoare willing to adapt, the green season offers significant discounts. During the green season in Bots, Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania, expect to get between 30 and 70% off the standard peak rates for higher end camps and lodges. The rain tends to fall in heavy bursts that clear quickly to leave plenty of the day left to be out on Safari.

  3. Our Top Safari Camps & Lodges for Families

    Anna x country skiing Anna on 17th December 2014 | 0 comments

    Many lodges and safari camps claim to be family friendly, but few actually are. We are all parents ourselves and take pride in visiting and selecting safari camps and lodges which are genuinely family friendly, but also offer something unique for parents as well. Read on to discover our favourites. 

    1) Laikipia Wilderness Camp, Kenya

    Our favourite family friendly camp in Kenya, if not the whole of Africa, Laikipia offers an off the beaten track intimate wilderness safari experience. The camp is ideal for families, children can go on adventure walks, swim, raft and fish in the river and scramble and climb on nearby outcrops and, of course, game drives are also available. If your family is active and likes to get out and experience the wilderness, then this is the perfect place for you.
    Our images and reviewLaikipia Wilderness Camp
    Recommended Itinerary: Our Classic Kenya Family Safari combines 2 nights at Laikipia Wilderness Camp with two nights at the newly rebuilt Kichwa Tembo in the Masai Mara and five nights gorgeous beach relaxation at Unguja Lodge on Zanzibar. From £16000 for a family of four including flights from the UK.

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    2) Ants Collection, Waterberg

    A fantastic malaria-free safari option, 2 1/2 hours norht of Jo'burg. No Big 5 here, but there are giraffe, buffalo, rhino and over 40 species of antelope. Accommodation is is boutique cottages with magnificient views, this is the ultimate place to come to unwind and reconnect with nature. The speiclaity here is horse riding and they have over 90 horses in their herd which are suitable for beginners right through to experienced riders. For non-riders, there are game drives, walking or simply relaxing and enjoying the views.
    Our images and review: The Ant Collection       
    Recommended Itinerary: Our self-drive Best of South Africa for Families finishes off in The Ants Collection after spending 3 nights on safari at the stunning Impodimo Game Lodge, 2 nights at Grootbos Garden Lodge at the whale-watching town of Hermanus and 3 nights at The Waterfront Village in Cape Town.             

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    3) Mara Bush Houses

    A collection of three beautiful bush houses within private reserves adjoining the Masai Mara. The sense of privacy, wilderness, variety of activities and the tailored daily itineraries mean these houses are perfect for families. Each house is self-contained and has its own dedicated guide who, as well as taking clients on game drives, will teach you ho to shoot a bow and arrow Maasai style and will give you some insight into the Maasai culture. 
    Our images and reivew: Mara Bush Houses 
    Recommended Itinerary: We usally offer Mara Bush Houses as an upgrade option in one of Masai Mara itineraries including our Maasai Family Adventure and our 11 Day Mount Kenya Trek and Masai Mara Combined

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    4) Lake Manze, Southern Tanzania

    A great value wilderness safari camp in the heart of the Selous Game Reserve in Southern Tanzania, this lake side camp offers tented, rustic accommodation with vehicle & boat safaris available. With few neighbouring camps, you are unlikely to see other safari vehicles, so this is a chance to be far away from the crowds. If you are looking for a wlid adventure for your family, then this is absolutely the camp for you.
    Our images and review: Lake Manze Tented Camp
    Recommended Itinerary: Combining a classic safari with a stay at the picturesque Matamwe Beach Village, our 7 night Selous and Zanzibar Family Safari spends 3 nights on safari at Lake Manze before heading to Zanzibar to relax on their sandy, white beaches. 

    Boat Safari

     

    5) Gibb's Farm, Northern Tanzania

    Located half way between the Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara, Gibb's Farm offers beautiful famliy friendly accommodation in a tranquil and rural setting. Set within some lovely gardens and with views of coffee plantations, this is a peaceful slice of rural Africa, the perfect accommodation to complement a safari itinerary.
    Our images and review: Gibb's Farm 
    Recommended Itinerary: 
    We usually offer this as an upgrade on our Serengeti & Ngorongoro Tanzania Family Adventure and our newly available Kilimanjaro and Serengeti Safari 

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    6) Thanda, Kwa-Zulu Natal

    If you want an exclusive, yet family friendly safari getaway, then look no further than Thanda. Offeirng luxurious family friendly accommodation, complete with private infinity plunge pool, outdoor shower and private sun deck and outstanding communal areas, Thanda does come with a high price tag, but is worth every penny. Fussy eaters and early dining times can be catered for and the guides and staff go out of their way to bring the safari to life for the younger audience.
    Our images and review: Thanda Safari Lodge
    Recommended Itinerary: With our South Africa Safari & Beach Holiday, Highlights of KwaZulu-Natal & KwaZulu-Natal Explorer Holiday all stopping at the beautiful lodge, there are plenty of opportunities to stay at Thanda  

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    7) Simbavati River Lodge, Greater Kruger

    Lots of lodges in the Kruger area claim to be family friendly, but we love Simbavati because it genuinely is. The lodge offers fantastic family accommodation; the family chalets offer privacy to parents with two bedrooms and also have a private deck overlooking the river bed. Communal areas include a large lounge area, kids room and a small outside play area, which is a rarity in Kruger lodges and allows children to let off a bit of steam between game drives. Add to this family friendly menus, enthusiatic guides and excellent game and you have a very good value family safari option.
    Our images and review: Simbavati River Lodge 
    Reccomended Itinerary: Enjoy 4 days exploring the best sites in Cape Town before flying to the Kruger for 3 days out on safari on our Cape & Kruger Family Holiday.  

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    8) Hillsnek, Eastern Cape

    A lovely small tented camp located in the Amakhala Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape. This is the ideal location for families looking for malaria-free safari. The contemporary and comfortable tents can sleep up to four people and there is a small pool as well. Amakhala is home to the Big Five and is a convenient safari destination after exploring the Garden Route. A genuinely intimate and boutique option, for families who want to enjoy the great outdorrs, but not at the expense of their creature comforts.
    Our images and review: Hillsnek  
    Recommended Itinerary: Our Classic Garden Routes for Families and our Cape & Garden Route Family Safari both include a safari stay at Hillsnek.  

     

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  4. Unmissable Road Trip Adventures

    Anna x country skiing Anna on 11th December 2014 | 0 comments

    We believe that time spent in a car on a road trip is a means to an end. What you really should be doing, is getting out there and experiencing the landscape and breathing in the fresh air. Most National Parks have a road infrastructure that means that you can drive to the view points and tick them off, without getting a sense of the place. So we say, ditch the car and go exploring.  Where you rest your weary head at the end of the day is just as important, so we have paired each of our favourite adventures with some of our favourite places to stay, where you can sit back and relax together after a fun-filled day out.  The options are endless, but here are some of our favourites:

    1) Singletrack & Laid Back Relaxation

    One of the best ways to experience the mountains has to be riding single track. The Sierra Nevada mountains at Lake Tahoe are one of the best places to do this, with awesome views, exhilarating downhills and tracks for all levels of availability.  You can choose to ride from ½ day to a full on 3 day tour. If you are travelling with a non-rider, then there is plenty for them to do in the area, from stand up paddle boarding to relaxing on the beach, or a beginners trip can be arranged. In the evening, we suggest you stay at the independent Basecamp Hotel, a hub for adventure travellers, where you can sit in the roof top hot tub and rest your tired limbs whilst watching the stars coming out, or sit in the cosy communal lounge and share tales of your day with like-minded travellers.

     

    2) White Water Rafting & Swing Benches

    Nothing quits beats the thrill of rafting down a river swimming and playing one minute and then, with a quickening heart, approaching some mighty rapids and riding them, paddling as if your life depended on it.  The best rafting that we have done is in Utah, based from the independent town of Moab. You can choose between anything from a 1 day rafting trip to 5 days on the river, camping on the sandy banks each night. With the multi-day trip, you get further away from other people and also have a chance to do some walking and nothing quite beats sitting by the river, toasting marshmallows on a campfire, watching the stars coming out overhead. After roughing it on the river, we suggest a splurge by spending a couple of nights at the exclusive Sorrel River Ranch. Here, you can visit the spa, releax around the pool, or watch the river running past you from the comfort of your swing bench. If some members of your party don’t fancy the rafting, this makes a perfect base for them while you hit the water.

     

    3) Slot Canyoning & Mountain Retreat

    Utah is famous for its slot canyons, formed by powerful flash flooding and stretching for miles. The only way to experience them is to rappel, squeeze and shuffle through. Because of the ever-changing weather and desolation of the desert, we recommend you only explore the canyons with a guide.  Exploring these deep red rocks is not for the faint hearted, however, there are exhilarating 50 foot plus rappels and tight spaces to squeeze through. You are rewarded at the end of the day, however, with a huge sense of achievement and the pleasure of spending a day without seeing any other humans. Escalante, where there are some excellent examples of slot canyons, is a small town with not much in the way of inspiring accommodation options.  After a day canyoning, we strongly advise that you stay at the nearby Boulder Mountain Lodge to be rewarded with lovely views, a welcoming hot tub and delicious steak.   If some members of your party don’t fancy a day out in the canyons, there is plenty to keep them occupied at the lodge.

     

    4) Wilderness Trekking & Boutique Hotel

    The Ansel Adams wilderness area in the Sierra Nevada adjacent to Yosemite National Park has some of the most out-standing views in the USA and the best part is that you are sharing them with no one.  If you like the idea of going off the grid and enjoy hiking and camping, then we recommend spending 4 days walking, wild swimming and breathing in the fresh mountain air. You can keep the price down and carry your own gear, or you can have it transported by mules. Hiking up to the remote mountain lakes, you will be roughing it, camping with no facilities, no bathrooms in sight. After a few days out on the wilds, we recommend you spoil yourself with some creature comforts, staying in a boutique hotel with all of the bells and whistles which you can use as a base for visiting the more popular of Yosemite’s attractions, or you can simply lie back and relax around the pool.

     

    5) Surf and Sun-bathe

    Vast Pacific rollers, sun-kissed sandy beaches and the Beach Boys, nothing speaks surfing more than California. You don’t need to be a professional to have a go; it’s just you and the waves. The best way to approach surfing is time; one day doesn’t cut it, especially if you’re a beginner. You need a good teacher, good equipment and lots of patience.  For newbies, nothing beats the feeling of managing to stand up for the first time, whilst experienced surfers will just love the chance to be in surfing’s spiritual home. It is an exhausting sport, however, so you will need somewhere comfortable to rest afterwards. If you are travelling with a non-surfer, then we suggest the Dream Inn at Santa Cruz. While you are out surfing, your other half can watch from the balcony, or catch some rays and relax at the hotel swimming pool which over-looks the beach. 

  5. Our Top 5 Family Friendly Hotels in the USA

    Anna x country skiing Anna on 10th December 2014 | 0 comments

    Travelling together as a family can be an immensely bonding experience, full of quality time and a chance to reconnect as a unit. Where you sleep at night and relax after a day out exploring can have a major impact on the enjoyment of your holiday. The majority of hotel accommodation in the USA is in large hotels, which tick all of the boxes for facilities, but can leave you feeling less than inspired about sleeping arrangements - you either all have to cram in one room together sharing beds, or you have to split across rooms. We have chosen our five favourite hotels that offer something a little different for families; giving everyone a little more space to spread out and giving parents some privacy.

     1) Red Cliffs Lodge, Moab

    Located on the banks of the Colorado River, this lodge has some fantastic 2 bedroom cabins with river frontage. The cabin accommodation is self contained, there are two bedrooms a kitchen / lounge area with sofa bed and then also a private outside deck which gives adults somewhere nice to sit and relax once the children are in bed. The property also has a pool and tennis court and there are horses on site, so riders can head off and explore for a few hours. 

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    2) The Platinum Hotel & Spa, Las Vegas

    Las Vegas doesn't stand out as a family friendly destination, but this non-gaming hotel makes a fantastic base for families visiting the city. This is an all suite hotel, meaning that every room has a kitchenette, large bathroom, bedroom and lounge area with a sofa bed. Families can spread out here and parents can have their own room. There is a good sized pool on the property, which is surrounded with sun loungers, so parents can lie back and sun bathe while the children swim.

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    3) The Beach Street Inn

    We love the family suites at the Beach Street Inn. Located in the heart of Santa Cruz just across the road from the beach, this is not the most expensive option in town, but it is a friendly motel with beach chic decor. The family suites have one or two bedrooms with a large kitchen / lounge with two sofa beds, so there is ample room for families to spread out. Outside the room, there is a verandah with seating area, so there is somewhere for parents to sit outside while the children are in bed. The beaches in the town are ideal for beginner surfers / body boarders and you can rent gear on the beach.

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    4) The Resort at Squaw Creek, Lake Tahoe

    This is a high end option, for families wanting more of a resort style stay. Located in the north of Lake Tahoe in the Squaw Valley which was home to the 1960 Winter Olympics, the resort has mountain views and is the perfect base for mountain biking, stand up paddle boarding, or simply just relaxing. Family suites in the hotel offer a bedroom for parents and then a kitchen / lounge area with sofa bed. The resort has four hot tubs (which are especially magnificent under the stars at night) and three swimming pools, one of which has a water slide, which will keep children entertained for hours. Some of our guests have enjoyed a lovely stay here with one parent heading off to go mountain biking whilst the rest of the family relaxes around the pool.  

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    5) Hyatt Grand, Los Angeles

    It is unlikely that anyone visiting Los Angeles with their family is going to avoid a visit to the theme parks. There are Disney resort hotels, but we love the Hyatt Grand in Anaheim, 10 minutes down the road from Disneyland. The family suites are not only exceptionally good value, but they are cleverly designed with a family friendly lay out. Children sleep at one end of the room in bunk beds and then there is room divider giving parents that extra space and privacy for the evenings. The hotel has two pools, a basket ball court and giant board games outside. This is a very family friendly hotel, so you can lie back on the sun lounger not worrying if your child is splashing around too much in the water.

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