A Journal, with Pictures

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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COPA Mayan Adventure, Mexico

by on Mar.30, 2019, under Flying

Wednes­day morn­ing we bid farewell to Los Lagu­nas, after anoth­er great break­fast over­look­ing Quex­il lagoon. Our han­dlers have us through depar­ture quick­ly, flight plans in hand for our first leg to Cozumel where we will clear Mex­i­can cus­toms. Its a beau­ti­ful flight along the coast on the route we were sup­posed to take com­ing in. We see the inlets where fresh water from under­ground rivers mix­es with salt water that was used by pirates as a hid­ing place dur­ing the Span­ish peri­od. Cozumel turn around is unevent­ful and we are on to Campeche, where no ATIS, gusty quar­ter­ing winds, plus low-lev­el wind shear make for an inter­est­ing land­ing. We are quick­ly off to the Hacien­da Puer­ta Campeche which is inside the old walled city and very quaint. We meet for din­ner after set­tling in and cock­tails in the hotel bar.

Thurs­day after break­fast we meet our guide Felix who starts his descrip­tion at the city land gate across the street from our hotel. We then take the one hour trip to the Edz­na Mayan arche­o­log­i­cal site which dates back to 600 BC and was a cen­ter for cer­e­mo­ny and trad­ing for the area. Unlike Tikal, this site was built in an arid region and did not have to be exca­vat­ed from the jun­gle so it is bet­ter pre­served. We make a brief stop to taste local corn­bread made in a char­coal oven, very tasty. The Edz­na ruins are very impres­sive and Felix edu­cates us about all aspects of Mayan his­to­ry. After the ruins, we stop for lunch at the Hacien­da Uaya­mon an estate dat­ing back to 1700. After we return we have time to explore Campeche on our own or relax at our hotel, before din­ner on our own. In our case, we dined at an excel­lent local restau­rant, Mar­gan­zo, serv­ing tra­di­tion­al region­al cui­sine and Mayan dishes.

Fri­day after break­fast we do a walk­ing tour of Campeche, walk­ing through the local mar­ket, not nec­es­sar­i­ly your super­mar­ket at home. We also vis­it church­es, the square, and both his­to­ry and arche­o­log­i­cal muse­ums. We have lunch at a local street restau­rant and then relax, pack, before the brief­ing for our flight back and our final din­ner together. -

This was a great group of COPA pilots and part­ners from all over the unit­ed states includ­ing Ore­gon, Cal­i­for­nia, Texas, Wash­ing­ton DC, South Car­oli­na, and Flori­da. We had a great time, saw some amaz­ing things and beau­ti­ful places. The first group depart­ed for Brownsville, Texas and beyond and the sec­ond to Key West back across the Gulf of Mex­i­co. In our case, after clear­ing cus­toms, we overnight­ed in Fort Laud­erdale to cel­e­brate our old­er daugh­ters birth­day before return­ing home on Sun­day. Real­ly an out­stand­ing trip thanks to COPA, Caribbean Sky Tours, a great group of COPA peo­ple plus the excel­lent warm hos­pi­tal­i­ty of Las Lagu­nas in Guatemala and Hacien­da Puer­ta Campeche in Mexico.

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