A Journal, with Pictures

Family trip to Africa 2019

by on Jul.31, 2019, under Family

We departed our home airports on Sunday, July 14, met in Atlanta where we boarded our fifteen and half hour flight to Johannesburg, South Africa. We were met after clearing customs by the Abercrombie & Kent representative and escorted across the street to the Intercontinental Hotel where we would spend the night. The next morning after breakfast, we were escorted to our chartered flight to Botswana, with a stop to clear customs in Maun, then on to our destination, Sanctuary Chief’s Camp.

We arrived at the camp and were met by the staff singing a native welcome song. We dropped our bags in our room, had lunch on the deck, and we are off on our first game drive.

Everyone was excited about our first drive and we saw lots of interesting animals, but there was anticipation to see some of the big cats and other big animals.

That evening we settled in and then were treated to a show put on by the local tribe members on the staff. Cocktails and dinner are excellent and we were off to a great start on our adventure.

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Sanctury Chief’s Camp

by on Jul.31, 2019, under Family

Sanctuary Chief’s Camp is situated on the private Mombo Concession within the Moremi Game Reserve, at the core of the Okavango Delta. The area is a mix of mature woodlands, the biggest island being Cheif’s island on which the camp is built and verdant flood plains that become inundated from as early as April every year. The camp gets its name from the deceased Chief Moremi III’s wife under whose leadership in 1963 established the Moremi game reserve. It is the only officially protected area of the Okavango Delta and has resulted in an amazing concentration of diverse Africa species. The Sanctuary Retreats organization owns and manages a number of high-end camps and lodges in five African countries.

The camp itself is made up of the main lodge with luxury Pavillion Rooms on either side of the lodge facing a dried lake bed with a watering hole in front of a deck. During the rainy season, the lake is full, during the dry season it hosts a parade of all kinds of animals coming to drink or wallow.

We had five Pavillion Rooms that included a bedroom, sitting room, fully stocked bar, deck, pool, dressing room and bathroom with an indoor as well as an outdoor shower. Recently refurbished everything was modern, except the roof was thatched (wood ceilings in rooms). When the early morning wake-up calls (knock on the door) start the baboons would jump from roof to roof making a huge racket.

The routine at Chief’s camp was a six A.M. wake up call, breakfast buffet with served entres to order, morning game drive leaving at seven A.M. with a coffee break in the bush mid-morning then return to the camp for a sit down served lunch from the menu. The afternoon game drive left at three P.M. with cocktails served in the bush around sundown and the return to the lodge for more cocktails and dinner served from the menu. The food, wine, cocktails, services were first class and the staff was extremely friendly and well trained including the two drivers, tracker, guides assigned to our group.


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Sanctuary Chiefs Camp, July 17th.

by on Jul.31, 2019, under Family

Our first full day at Chiefs Camp starts off with an African sunrise then an incredible leopard photo op. A male and female, thought to be brother and sister were finishing off their impala kill. The male was eating but the female was posing and what a job she did.

We then get treated to an Elephant show, first at the watering hole while having lunch in camp, then later out in the bush.

We enjoy viewing a number of additional species in addition to the elephants in the afternoon. including a Baboon perched on top of a termite mound to scan for predators.




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Chiefs Camp, Thursday July 18th.

by on Jul.31, 2019, under Family

Thursday was our last full day at Chief’s camp and it turned out to be a full one which includes, a Hyena family and Rhino photo op in the morning along with some other interesting species.

When it was time to return to camp for lunch we had a surprise. The chef and staff had set up a stir fry to order lunch, of course with a bar, in the bush.

Tomorrow we will fly on to Singita.

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Last Day at Chiefs Camp then on to Singita

by on Jul.31, 2019, under Family

Joyce and I decide to have a leisurely morning as everyone else decides to take one last game drive on the way to the airstrip for our flight in the same King Air that brought us. It’s cool and we have breakfast with our family then see them off. We say our goodbyes to the wonderful Chiefs Camp staff, then are driven to the airstrip for our flight. It’s a short flight to Maun to clear customs out of Botswana, but this time they decide to do it the hard way and it takes us an hour and a half because they inspect every bag. We continue the hour and forty-five-minute flight landing at Sangita lodge where we are met by our guides and trackers. Our Hostess welcomes us to our compound, our chef has prepared lunch and we still leave for the afternoon game drive at three-thirty. We come upon a small heard of Rhinos wallowing in a water hole with both Black and White species, which is an impressive start. We then view some elephants and start to get the lay of the Singita land.

The first evening we join the other lodge guests at the main lodge for a barbeque. We are introduced to the excellent Singita wine collection, and a wonderful meal cooked over the fire. We are then entertained by the local tribe who perform a traditional dance, that includes participation by some of our family. It was a very auspicious start to our stay at Singita.


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Singita Ebony Lodge a magic place

by on Jul.31, 2019, under Family

Singita Ebony Lodge is the original location in the 19 lodge Sangita collection of top-end luxury “camps.” The private property is set within the 160,500-acre Sabi Sands Game Reserve adjacent to Kruger National Park in northeastern South Africa. Sangita Ebony Lodge sits on a bluff overlooking the Sands River, where we had a two-family suite (four bedrooms) plus common area and a separate suite for Joyce and me. Our separate compound had its own Hostess, Chef, serving staff and we had two trackers and two guides assigned to look after us. The main lodge was a five-minute walk away.  Our routine was to rise at six A.M. have a light breakfast and leave on the game drive at seven. We would stop around nine A.M. for coffee, cocoa or tea, and a biscuit, then continue our morning game drive. We then would have a large breakfast/brunch around eleven and then relax or participate in activities until three P.M. We then would leave for the afternoon game drive, stop for a glass of wine or cocktail before returning to our lodge, where we would have a gourmet dinner prepared by our chef after cocktails. Singita is one of the biggest buyers of premium wines in South African and they served outstanding wines at every opportunity. Our Trackers and Guides were superb and became part of the family quickly.

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Singita Saturday July 20th

by on Jul.31, 2019, under Family

The word was that a lion pride had killed a Cape Buffalo next to Kruger Game Reserve, so we headed there first thing in the morning. We were not disappointed. The pride was still feeding on the second day with the dominate male doing the eating with two cubs and the mother and other females still there.

We crossed the river each day on our game drive and saw the more aquatic species at the crossing.

The afternoon drive serves up a big variety of species.

A great day of game viewing and enjoying Sangita incredible amenities and hospitality.

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Singita Sunday July 21st.

by on Jul.31, 2019, under Family

Sunday turned out to be a leopard highlight day. In the morning our amazing tracker Vusi spotted a lone leopard in a dense bush, it then decided to pose for us. In the afternoon we followed a male as he walked along the riverbank near our camp. In the evening, again our tracker spotted a female near our camp who had killed an antelope and had hyenas steal the kill. When we came upon the scene the hyenas were fighting over the kill, and we provided enough distraction for the leopard to steal back part of the kill. With a few more interesting animals to photograph it was quite a day.

Tomorrow will be our last day and as usual, Our Singita Host, Chef and Staff prepare a great dinner, with great wine to celebrate a great trip.

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Final Day and Return Home Monday July 22nd.

by on Jul.31, 2019, under Family

We were ninety percent packed and had our normal six A.M. wake up call and seven A.M. departure for our last game drive. One of the naturalists had spotted a lone male lion so that was our challenge for the morning. Vusi our tracker picked up the tracks on a road and started tracking on foot in the bush and we circled to try to intercept our quarry. We soon spotted a magnificent young male traveling fast. The early morning sun was low and behind the lion but we still managed to capture some halfway decent images of this magnificent creature.

As we headed back to camp we stopped to photograph two Zebra who turned to say goodbye as we leave this incredible place. We enjoyed one last Singita lunch, then finished packing and headed for the airstrip. Our flight was a little over an hour and we checked back into the Intercontinental where we had a day room. Lunch, shower and relax until our eight P.M. fifteen-hour flight to Atlanta. We cleared customs and then caught our last flight to our home airports. We all arrived home before noon on Tuesday, July 23. Enjoying two fabulous locations, unbelievable hospitality and unforgettable safari experience with our family is a trip of a lifetime. We will be sharing memories for months and years to come.

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COPA Mayan Adventure, Gautemala

by on Mar.30, 2019, under Flying

This year COPA Central America Adventure Trip focused on exploring Mayan history and culture and included visits to two UNESCO World Heritage sites, the first in Tikal, Guatemala. We again had Caribbean Sky Tours (CST), organize and escort our trip. We had a full complement of COPA aircraft this year including an SF50 Cirrus Jet along with Cirrus SR20 and 22’s. Groups departed the U.S., one from Brownsville, Texas the other Key West, Florida. Joyce and I flew with the five planes flying the 650 miles across the Gulf of Mexico landing in Guatemala, near the village of Flores. The Key West group met for dinner at a COPA favorite restaurant, Louie’s Backyard for a great dinner under the stars. The next morning, Sunday, March tenth,  we flew to the north of Cuba, then over Cozumel, down to down to Belize City then west to Flores. We are met by CST handlers whisked through customs and immigration into vans and off to our hotel.   Our hotel is the fabulous Las Lagunas resort with rooms over the water and the central building overlooking an infinity pool and the lake. We start our visit with a cool cerveza, relax then meet with our total group for our inaugural cocktails and dinner.

The next morning we enjoy a great breakfast prepared to order with a stunning view of Quexil lagoon. We meet our guide then depart for the one hour trip to Tikal National Park a magnificent archeological site. This was the center of the Mayan civilization. There are 4000 structures identified, most remain covered by the jungle. We will visit the center and most important structures. Our guide reminds us that the Mayans built these structures without metal tools or any animals to assist them. We explore the ruins with our guides in a trek through the jungle ending with an outdoor lunch of local dishes.

In the afternoon there are lots of options including the spa, a museum at the hotel, the pool or the hot tub in your room overlooking the lake (our choice). We meet for cocktails and another great dinner.

The next day there are a number of options including exploring the lake and visiting monkey island. Being interested in nature photography I had a great time photographing monkeys. After the boat tour, the majority travel into the village of Flores which is on an island on the nearby lake Peten Itza which is accessible by a causeway. This is our second visit so we just enjoy the museum, resort pool and our hot tub after a great lunch at the hotel.

That evening after our flight briefing by Rick Gardner, our leader from CST we have cocktails and yet another great dinner at Las Lagunas. In the morning we are off to Campeche, Mexico. With all of our aircraft together its a pretty impressive flight line, with the SF50 right up front.












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