Take a Grand Safari

grand safari, travel, the three tomatoes

I’m currently writing a new travel book, Living the Wildlife: Volunteering, Viewing, and Protecting Animals and Their Habitats around the World. The trips that I am researching and experiencing are so very exceptional I just have to share them with you, one at a time, like a grand safari.

Most of us have a dream trip in mind, something we are saving up for and plan to do when the stars are in alignment and our children and/or parents don’t need us. For years I’ve dreamed of visiting Africa. Here I have truly found the trip of a lifetime, a grand safari to to South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zambia.

This private air expedition is offered by Smithsonian Journeys with the curator of mammals at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History as your tour leader. Kristofer Helgen, a research zoologist, will be your personal guide as you explore the water holes of the Etosha Pan, in Namibia, where you will see lion, zebra, wildebeest, cheetah, and springbok as well as hundreds of bird species; the spectacular Victoria Falls, in Zambia; and the Sabi Sand Game Reserve in South Africa, with the most diversity of wildlife in Africa. This private reserve is located at the southwestern corner of Kruger National Park, with no barriers separating them so wildlife roams freely between the two areas. Botswana’s Okavanga Delta, unusual for its variety of habitats, offers close viewing of elephant, cheetah, lion, leopard, and buffalo; from the Vumbura Plains Camp travelers can participate in both water and land excursions.

Seeing the Namib Dessert at Sossusvlei Dunes from the air will be an unforgettable experience; wildlife including springbok, gemsbok, ostrich, bat-eared fox, and the aardwolf have adapted to their desert habitat. Private aircraft (Swiss-manufactured Pilatus PC 12) and landing strips, and accommodations that range from historic lodges to luxury tented camps, make this a safari like no other; you will travel with ease to game reserves, deserts, and the coastline accompanied by expert wildlife guides. This “dream” wildlife adventure begins and ends in Cape Town, South Africa (with two nights at the Mt. Nelson Hotel) where travelers will visit Table Mountain, Bo Kaap (formerly known as the Malay Quarter), District Six Museum, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, and enjoy welcome and farewell dinners.

Trip offerings, and prices, vary according to availability, but this is one option to build a dream on, or around. The tour includes an expert Study Leader, Tour Manager, and local guides;  accommodations; meals including welcome and farewell receptions; pre-tour information and a reading list; all sightseeing; baggage handling; transfers, entrance fees, airport and hotel taxes, and gratuities for all group activities; on-tour transportation; emergency evacuation insurance and access to emergency assistance services. For more information: Smithsonian Journeys, P.O. Box 23182, Washington, DC 20077; 1-877-338-8687;

www.smithsonianjourneys.orgReservations@SmithsonianJourneys.org.

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