Committed to creating unique, African safari travel experiences. We go where YOU want, and depart when YOU want.

Masai Mara

Top 5 safari adventure hides

Top 5 safari adventure hides

safari lodge 1 Top 5 safari adventure hides

 
 
Ol Donyo Lodge

ol donyo lodge chyulu hills national park kenya 39 safari Top 5 safari adventure hides

Ol Donyo is a beautiful lodge situated in the remote and wild Chyulus, Southern Kenya. The suites themselves have stunning views of open plains, rolling hills and that magical mountain Kilimanjaro. Their elephant hide is just a short walk from the lodge and sits overlooking a small waterhole which is exceptionally popular with the local bull elephants. Raised above the ground this hide can provide an exciting day of watching these awe inspiring males drink, play and generally have a wonderful time.

Manyara Ranch

Lake Manyara Ranch Top 5 safari adventure hides

Manyara Ranch in Northern Tanzania boasts everything that is good about a modern day luxury safari – there are no people, wonderful views, friendly and warm staff, a luxury camp and access to acres of private and pristine game viewing territory, here the emphasis is on freedom so it’s no surprise they have a couple of exceptional hides. The best is that that overlooks a large waterhole which is the hub for every animal passing through the reserve – the large hide has plenty of space and is set just back from the dam so you really can get a good view of everything and anything that happens there.

Encounter Mara

encounter mara camp Top 5 safari adventure hides

Encounter Mara is set in the remote Naboisho Conservancy in the Masai Mara, famous for it’s fantastic game viewing and lack of people. This intimate and relaxed camp is set just above a salt lick in a dry riverbed – as you can imagine this attracts vast numbers of wildlife all day every day and a short stroll down into the camouflaged hide will bring you hours of joy between game drives as you watch everything from zebra to baboon to cheetah come down to use this popular salt lick.

Mashatu

Mashatu lodge Top 5 safari adventure hides

Mashatu in Southern Botswana is a unique haven for those that want a little adventure and they have possibly the best hide of all – it is sunken beneath the earth so you are at the same height as the level of the water in the dam – the shots one can achieve of elephant and other animals are absolutely mind blowing and you also get a real sense of how large some of the wildlife is. A truly magical experience.

Chiawa Camp

chiawa camp Top 5 safari adventure hides

Chiawa Camp in the Lower Zambezi regularly wins awards for it’s fantastic guides, but a day spent in one of their hides on the banks of the Zambezi is equally as thrilling as a game drive or walk – here you will be lucky enough to see elephants swimming and hippos and crocs going about their daily business, as well as whatever else comes down to the waters edge to drink. The elephants here get very close and you can have a truly mesmerising experience as they forage around the hide.

Hot Air Balloon Safaris in Kenya

Hot Air Balloon Safaris in Kenya

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Are your balloons safe?

Hot Air Balloon Safaris balloons are manufactured to the highest safety standards possible. Conventional hot air balloons also have the best safety record by far of all forms of aviation.

Is there a minimum age or maximum weight limit?

Hot Air Balloon Safaris does not fly children under the age of 3 years. While they do not have a weight limit, they do request that you let them know in advance if you weigh over 250 pounds, so that we can adjust the weight distribution in the basket if necessary.

How does the pilot control the balloon?

The balloon goes with the wind, but at different altitudes the wind often flows in different directions; by expertly navigating this vertical landscape the pilot finds some directional control. In order to gain or lose altitude, the pilot manipulates the temperature of the air inside the balloon envelope using burners fueled by butane gas.

When heat is added, the balloon rises: add more heat and it rises more quickly. In order to descend, the pilot allows the balloon to cool naturally. The cooler the air inside the balloon becomes the more quickly it descends. Sometimes when the balloon is descending for landing the pilot actually adds some heat to slow down the rate of descent.

Are take-off and landing rough?

Take-off is generally quite gentle, although it may be a bit fast in windy conditions. If the wind is above 15 knots at the take-off site, we will not fly due to safety concerns. About 50% of our landings are what we call a “tip over” landing, where the balloon basket drags along the ground for about 20 meters before coming to a stop lying on its side. There can be a few bumps; however most of our guests experience a much rougher ride in their safari vehicles!

How long is the flight?

Hot Air Balloon Safaris typically fly between 15 to 25 kilometers and the flight lasts about one hour, depending on wind conditions. The entire experience (link to The experience), including transfer to the launch site, flight, breakfast, and game drive back to your lodge or camp, starts at about 5:00AM and finishes at about 10:30AM.

What should I bring with me?

Hot Air Balloon Safaris encourage all guests to carry binoculars and cameras. Hot Air Balloon Safarissuggest closed shoes in case we need to walk through some grass after landing, and dressing in layers is best for the transition from the cool, dark early morning to the relatively hot late morning sun.

Do you ever cancel a flight? What happens if my flight is canceled?

Hot Air Balloon Safaris rarely cancel flights (~5 times per year), and only do so due to high winds, rain, or extremely poor visibility. If your flight is canceled you will receive a 100% refund. Or, if your safari schedule allows and there is available space in the balloons, we can attempt to fly you the following day.

How many people fit in the basket?

Hot Air Balloon Safaris balloons can hold a maximum of 16 people in a basket.

What will I see?

Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve is the ultimate ballooning destination. The landscape is stunning and free, and the abundant wildlife can make for spectacular viewing’s from above. As this is a wilderness area contiguous with the Serengeti National Park of Tanzania, with free-ranging wildlife that is not fenced in, we of course cannot guarantee what we will fly over and what we will see during a particular flight.

However, we typically see a good diversity of animals, and it is likely you will spot elephants, giraffes, various antelope species, and ostriches from the balloon. Many of our guests also see hyenas, lions, and cheetahs, and ballooning is one of the best ways to search for the elusive black rhino, of which there are less than 40 in the Mara.

Depending on the day’s flight path, you may also drift along one of the rivers and see hippos and crocodiles. We have had some truly amazing sightings over the years, including leopards in trees, lions on kills, and active hyena dens. If you visit the Mara between July and October, you will probably see the “Great Migration” of over a million wildebeest, along with large numbers of zebras and gazelles.

Observing this phenomenon from the balloon is the best way to grasp just how huge the migrating herds really are, and is an experience not to be missed. Regardless of whether the “Big Five” are seen from the balloon, most people say that the balloon flight was a highlight of their safari.

Where will I fly?

Hot Air Balloon Safaris flies from the area of Talek. Hot Air Balloon Safaris launch site is centrally located on the northern edge of the Masai Mara National Reserve. Hot Air Balloon Safaris usually flies west-southwest, which first takes us along the Talek River, then out across some wide-open plains towards the Ol Keju Rongai River.

Hot Air Balloon Safaris sometimes land in the vicinity of this river, but if the winds are strong enough, we continue on towards the Mara River and the Tanzanian border.

Face to Face With Some Great Adventures

Face to Face With Some Great Adventures

7fb27255 4ce8 4df4 b0f6 cae5ff0f9f8b Face to Face With Some Great Adventures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t get us wrong, we love our Land Cruisers as much as our clients do.  And there is little that can surpass the adrenaline rush of clients on safari witnessing their first sighting of a male Lion standing proud in all his glory.But it gets better.  Clients no longer have to remain within the confines of the safari cruiser for the entire duration of their safari.  There are some great adventures that can be had by dedicating a few hours in the itinerary to exit the comfort of the vehicle… and go face to face with nature. 

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Be Part of the Adventure Action in African Savanna!

Be Part of the Adventure Action in African Savanna

African Adventure Be Part of the Adventure Action in African Savanna!

Each day, the drama of the animal kingdom plays out across the forests, jungles, savannah plains, and rivers of Africa. This is a place like no other, where you can see elephants on patrol, cheetahs on the prowl, crocodiles lying in wait, and wildebeests on the stampede. And Nature Bound Africa knows just where the action’s at, so when you’re with us, there’s no better seat in the house. You’ll feel like you’re truly part of the action.

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How to Take Children on an African Safari

How to Take Children on an African Safari

children on walking safari How to Take Children on an African Safari

Despite all the warnings, a trip to Tanzania with a toddler and an 8-year-old turned out to be a dream vacation for the whole family

A LITTLE AFTER dawn, our safari guide headed to the less-explored eastern part of Serengeti National Park. He slowed the Toyota Land Cruiser at a patch of green that interrupted the straw-colored Tanzanian landscape, so barren that it made our mouths feel dry.

“There’s a hyena under that tree,” he said.

My husband, Nitin, and I stood up in the vehicle and instinctively shushed our groggy children, Naya and Riya, then ages 8 and 1. Looking through binoculars at the tree, we saw only a blur.

“Hey!” the baby shouted. “Hello? Hello?”   “Shhhhhh!” we scolded.

And suddenly, there was the hyena—headed straight for us. Creatures like these see young animals (including humans) as easy prey; once you get over the creepy factor, this can make for a cool wildlife-viewing experience—at least from the relative safety of a getaway car.

Months earlier, when we’d told friends that we planned to take our children to Africa, they mostly admonished us. The water’s not safe. The bugs are vicious. The kids will get bored on long drives. They won’t remember any of it.

Their doubts only emboldened us. We’d lived in India through my eldest daughter’s toddler years and considered ourselves seasoned travelers. The three of us horsebacked across Kashmir, rode elephants into the grasslands of Assam, took a palanquin into the caves of Ajanta. Then, in 2008, we moved back to the U.S. We bought a house. We had a second child. Vacations became three-day weekends in the Catskills or Berkshires, beach rentals up and down the Eastern Seaboard. Our Facebook photos started to look like everyone else’s.

I missed adventure and wanted to expose my children to more. Tanzania felt like a logical destination. Its pleasant dry season runs from June through October, overlapping with the kids’ summer holiday. My college roommate lives in Dar es Salaam, so we had an in-country contact in case of an emergency.

 African safaris are attracting a lot more families these days, including some with very young children, according to tour operators. When planning our trip, which included stops in Istanbul and Zanzibar, I requested safari quarters where little ones would be welcome (many lodges bar children under 12). To our surprise, we were offered high chairs, baby cots and special kid-friendly meals as we made our way around Tanzania.

We started in Tanzania’s most populous city, Dar es Salaam, took a day to acclimate and continued to Kilimanjaro, where we embarked on six days of safari. The Serengeti ecosystem, which straddles Tanzania and Kenya, is known for the largest migration of mammals in the world, but they were on the Kenyan side by the time we arrived. We stuck mostly to the central Serengeti to catch better views of lions; we saw plenty of zebras and wildebeest in the lesser-known Tarangire National Park in northern Tanzania. Ngorongoro Crater, an immense inactive volcano caldera, gave us a chance to see all these animals in one place. Feeling cramped from days of driving, we also took a memorable hike around its rim.

Safaris, it turns out, are a dream vacation with and for kids. There is nothing like the amazement on a child’s face when giraffes and zebras are so close that you can smell them. Teachable moments abound—about nature and evolution, power and the world order. And though safari travel tends to be luxurious and sheltered from reality, having children along facilitates interaction with locals. Everywhere we went, Tanzanians wanted to hold our baby, pinch her cheeks, make her laugh. They gave our older child candy and pats on the head and encouraged her attempts to speak Swahili.

THE LOWDOWN: SAFARI WITH KIDS IN TANZANIA’S SERENGETI

Getting There: Dar es Salaam and Nairobi are the most common entry points for visitors to the Serengeti. From there, you can take shorter flights to Arusha, Kilimanjaro or Seronera to get closer to the parks. Visas can be purchased for cash upon arrival ($100) but if you want to avoid lines, do it in the U.S.

Staying There: Tour operators generally book safari lodging, and Duma Explorer planned our trip (dumaexplorer.com). In Arusha, Arumeru River Lodge is a serviceable first or last stop, with great food and views (from about $270 a night, arumerulodge.com). Its restaurant has high chairs and will accommodate children’s whims. Rhino Lodge near Ngorongoro Crater is bare-bones, but animals wander right onto the property in the morning and evening (from about $270 a night, including meals, ngorongoro.cc). Tarangire Safari Lodge, inside Tarangire National Park, recently added a spa, with a massage table that overlooks the river (from about $400 a night, including meals, tarangiresafarilodge.com). Duma Explorer’s tented Chaka Camp in the Serengeti offers king-size beds, hot showers and private porches (from about $690 a night, including meals, chakacamp.com).

Eating There: In tent lodges, cooks whip up whatever is freshest. You can request special meals for children, such as pasta or rice. Maasai-raised beef is not to be missed. Pack nonperishable snacks for long car rides; tour operators provide bottled water.

Spending There: Tanzania is largely a cash economy, so bring at least $1,000 for tips, souvenirs and incidentals, or plan to stop at ATMs outside the park entrances.

Taking Children Along: Consult your pediatrician about vaccinations and medications. The Sit ‘n’ Stroll, a car seat that turns into a stroller, is a good investment for any globe-trotting family ($330, lillygold.com).

During a hike through a village outside Arusha, the largest city in northern Tanzania, the baby delighted in all the attention. “Mtoto, mtoto,” children chanted, using the Swahili word for baby as they ran after us and colobus monkeys swung over our heads. Our eldest grew silent when the children begged for her sunglasses and stroked her skin as if to determine if it was different from theirs. Later, at dinner, we reminded her that the poverty she had witnessed was much more the norm than the Tanzania we saw on safari.

Guidebooks warned of something else I might have to discuss with the children: Mating, notably among the lions. We didn’t see any mating, but in July, the landscape of short brown grass exposes other primal behaviors. One day in the Serengeti, we came upon a pride of lions, and watched them for nearly an hour. My youngest stared at the lioness, just steps from her car seat. The eldest fiddled with the binoculars.

When the lioness started walking differently, Ebeneezer Emanuel, the same guide who showed us the hyena, warned that we might be about to see a kill. He gestured at the children as if to ask, “Is that OK?” We nodded.

The lioness crept up behind a pack of dancing gazelles and waited. We waited. I prayed my children would stay quiet. And she pounced. A baby gazelle was dragged under a tree to be eaten.

“So the female lions are stronger?” my daughter asked Ebeneezer.

“Yes,” he said. “They are much better hunters.”

“That is so cool.”

Seeing the kill inspired more serious dinnertime conversation. “How can the gazelles dance around so much knowing a lion might eat them at anytime?” my daughter wondered.

“Perhaps that is precisely why they let themselves be so happy,” I said.

Between game drives, we returned to our lodge or tent and let the girls run around and get out their own wild sides. I had packed an iPad loaded with kids’ videos in case they grew restless, but we never needed it; the children were much happier watching natural dramas unfold before them.

Also unnecessary were the dozens of packets of instant macaroni and cheese we’d brought. As my daughters devoured roast chicken and cassava stew, I felt sheepish for brushing off our friends’ skepticism when I’d clearly had a healthy dose of it myself.

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