WHALES. WINGS. WALKS
We are well on our way through Winter in the Southern Hemisphere and Spring is whispering as the mornings and evenings become walmer with the smell of Jasmin blossoms perfuming the air. Join us in this edition of the Collective for some insight on the best whale watching, flying high, how to slow down and smell the fynbos and an inside scoop into Mpala Jena.
Whale Wonder at Grootbos
Grootbos is a luxury eco-reserve close to the tip of Africa in Gansbaai, South Africa and is tucked between mountains, forest and ocean. It is also ideally positioned to offer close encounters with the magnificent Southern Right Whales. These beautiful creatures migrate every year between July and October from the icy Antarctic to South Africa’s warm, sheltered bays to mate, calve and raise their young. Whether one chooses to observe them by boat, by air or simply from the deck of one’s room at Grootbos, seeing these peaceful giants of the deep in their natural habitat is a sight that will leave one spellbound. These sightings are to be treasured as in 1997 the South African population was estimated to be at 3100 whales, this is sadly only
10% of the believed original whale numbers.
Whale watching is however only one of the many activities on offer at Grootbos. Infact, Grootbos is filled to the brim with options for the whole family. If it’s not whale watching season, you can be assured of being whisked away on other adventures like walks, hikes, botanical tours, art in their new florilegium, mountain biking, horse riding, and quad biking to mention a few. Grootbos is also committed to sustainability and upliftment of the Community and is a leader in progressive tourism. Much like Great Plains, every action they take has a positive outcome whether it be on the environment or the livelihoods of the people in the community. Did you know?
Did you know?
Southern right whales are thought to be fairly long-lived some say up to 100 years! On a completely different note, it is believed that their testes are the largest of any animal and weigh easily 500kg each and is up to 2m long!
Helicopter Horizons has a team of
20 professional pilots that collectively speak 11 languages, they have an incredible passion for the wilderness areas of Botswana and as an experiential helicopter company, they love to share the magic that lies within this world heritage site with guests. We believe Heli Horizons is the perfect compliment to any Botswana Safari journey. Scenic flights throughout an itinerary will allow the helicopter to guide one through some of the most uninhabited areas of the delta, accessible only by helicopter, operated doors off to guarantee unrestricted, magnificent views. All Heli Horizons’ experiences are private and all guests are guaranteed a window seat. We encourage at least one helicopter flight in a guest itinerary with a champagne stop along the way. Another reason we love what they do is that for every guest flown they will plant a tree & feed a child.
Did you know?
Standard operating procedure for some of their remote bases requires them to surround the helicopter with electric fencing and strategically place rubber snakes to keep the hyenas and baboons at bay whilst the machine is unattended overnight.
Slow travel, (the new buzzword in the travel world), encourages travellers to take the time to experience one place for longer, and what better way to travel slowly than to do it on foot? At SLOW Walks & Hikes, the aim is to discover the wonders of the Cape just one step at a time. With SLOW one is able to challenge oneself by hiking on the slopes of iconic Table Mountain, secure in the knowledge they are in the safe hands of professional mountain walking guides. Or enjoy being whisked to the top of Table Mountain on the world-class cableway and then soak in the scenery on a gentle hike to the mountain’s summit. One can also choose to enjoy a sunrise contour walk and a delicious brunch on Table Mountain while watching the city hum to life, or stroll the spine of the Lion to scenic Signal Hill to toast the sunset. Whether one is a serious outdoor enthusiast or an off-the-couch adventurer, SLOW Walks & Hikes has a walk that will suit everyone.
Did you know?
At 240 million years old, Table Mountain is thought to be one of the oldest mountains in the world and at one point in its history was 3 times higher than it is today.
Alex Walters and Jill Wagner two of our Sales Managers recently stayed at Mpala Jena and share their experience:
The Mpala Jena Camp location is the absolute best of any camp in the Victoria Falls region, north or South of the Zambezi River. People are drawn to this region for one thing: the Victoria Falls UNESCO World Heritage Site. During this last visit, we were amazed at the great wildlife viewing in the Zambezi National Park, and how quiet the roads are in comparison to other national parks. We even had a male lion roam through camp in search of the rest of his pride, which we incidentally caught up with the pride of 11+ close to camp the next day. Elephants, giraffe, zebra, and buffalo are seemingly always around, not to mention the hippo, crocs and incredible birdlife (We’d highly recommend an early-morning birding safari by boat upstream from the camp).
Downstream from the camp, through nine sets of rapids at low water, or three major sets in high water, is Victoria Falls itself. You see the advantage that Mpala Jena Camp has is if you are going to Victoria Falls, which you will be, the camp offers the most fun way of getting to the falls. Forty-five minutes by speedboat crashing through the rapids, observing wildlife all the way, feeling the spray of water occasionally cool you down. Or it’s 45-minute wildlife drive through the National Park. Better still, do a combo: one-way boat, one-way wildlife drive.
What is very different about the new Mpala Jena Camp is its beach vibe. The main public area is the most beautiful of all the camps we’ve seen in the Victoria Falls region with an expanse of sand surrounding the dining/lounge pavilion, the swing bar, and the pool pavilion. The swings are especially fun, pushing off against the bar wall with wine in hand. Mpala Jena is, amongst many things, a great chill-out camp before or after a safari elsewhere in Zimbabwe or neighbouring Botswana. Enhancing the beach vibe is a cool blue, white and sandy colour theme throughout the camp décor, from the three one-bedroom tents to the two family tents, all spread well apart from each other with decks and sun loungers overlooking the Zambezi River. The staff are fantastically warm and hospitable serving you wonderful cuisine and beverages. It was so lovely to see some familiar staff faces that have stayed on from the camp’s former incarnation.
Most people consider 2 nights enough for a Victoria Falls stay. Not here. It is easily deserving of a 3-4 night stay and your guests will thank you for it” – Alex Walters & Jill Wagner.
Please contact our Safari Designers for any information on our preferred partners in this Collective edition.
Keeping the dream alive,
Eluisa Di Benedetto | Product Manager