I feel like I have a PHD in Safari planning!

 
As you have been reading, I recently completed a phenomenal 16 day Educational with Africa Inscribed, hosted by their Directors Dylan Harriss and Gavin Ford
 
Properties we either saw or *stayed in were:
 
*1. Saxon Hotel – Johannesburg  10+
*2. Jack’s Camp-  Salt Pans on the edge of the Kalahari Desert Botswana  9
3. Camp Kalahari- Kalahari Desert Botswana 5
*4. Wilderness – Vumbura Plains – Okavango Delta Botswana 10+
5. Wilderness – Little Vumbura_ Okavango Delta Botswana 8+
6. Duma Tau- Linyanti Reserve Botswana  9
*7. Savuti- Linyanti Reserve Botswana  9
8. Victoria Falls Hotel- Vic Falls Zimbabwe 10
*9. Singita – Pamushana- Pamushana Reserve Zimbabwe 10+
*10. Royal Malewane- Thornybush Preserve South Africa 10++
*11. & Beyond – Exeter Leadwood- Sabi Sands South Africa  9+
12. Dulini- Sabi Sands South Africa 8(under renovation)
13. & Beyond – Exeter River Lodge – Sabi Sands South Africa  9
14. Singita Ebony- Sabi San Reserve South Africa  10+
15. Singita Boulders- Sabi Sand Reserve South Africa  10+
16. Lion Sands – 1933- Sabi Sands   9+
17. Lion Sands – Ivory- Sabi Sands       10
18. Lion Sands – River Lodge- Sabi Sands 8+
*19. Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge – Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve  10+
20.  Selati Camp – Sabi Sabi – Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve  9
21.  Little Bush Lodge- Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve  8
*22.  Singita Sweni – Kruger National Park   10+
23. Singita Lebombo _ Kruger National Park    10+
*24. Molori- Madikwe Game Reserve ( Malaria Free) South Africa    10 but expensive
25. Lion Sands – Madikwe Lodge – Madikwe  9
26. Mateya – Madikwe   10
27. Jaci’s Safari Lodge 5 and Jaci’s Tree Lodge- Madikwe    7
*28. JNB Intercontinental – Johannesburg Airport South Africa   9
 
 
The numbers after the resort names are the ratings I personally gave them -10 being the highest.
It really depends on the client but these were my personal impressions.  
I totally defer to Dylan on resort choices.  He is really picky.
 
When I say educational I really mean educational. At the beginning of the EDU we were given a manual which included all predeparture information for every country in Africa. We also received a map covering the destinations AI favor. We actually had a map session one afternoon, locating preferred camps in Botswana, SA and Zimbabwe on the map. We went over zones that were malaria free and those that were not. We went over destinations near beaches, marshes, plains, mountains, best game viewing, and best locations for particular game. Best locations for families, honeymooners, groups, couples, photographers or special interest groups.
 Each day we learned about birds, mammals(predators and grazers), birds, insects, trees, birds, grasses, seeds and the environmental impact on the climate on each area, did I mention birds? We also learned about animal conservation,  land conservation, water and the impact on the reserve we happened to be traveling in. We learned about resort management, land management, and safari planning down to details as to why one wants a private game vehicle- and the enviromental impact too many cars can have on the resort. I feel like we have a PHD in Safari planning.
We traveled in style, Dylan chartered a Pilatus PC12NG ( the largest Pilatus). And we learned what a luxury having a less pressured schedule can be.  
The biggest take away for me was the tremendous knowledge, creativeness, and passion  Dylan and Gavin have as a DMC.  Their excitement was contagious. We were on a high from the moment we landed to the moment we left. And it was so much fun!
We had the best group- we laughed all the time, and never stayed still for long. So we were the best exhausted group.
If there was a glitch, we never knew it. Dylan and Gavin travel to camps and resorts 200 days a year, so they REALLY know what they are talking about. We looked at high end, medium and low end camps. All came with value for the right client. They are very selective. 
It was a privilege to participate in this EDU with Africa Inscribed. I can’t wait to book Africa with them

Meg, Sam and Jessica on a lake cruise – Zimbabwe

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Southern Zimbabwe- gorgeous!

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Martha and Yeardley with our great pilot, Stephan

Singita Pamushana- Zimbabwe

Singita Pamushana – Zimbabwe

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Selection from Ndau Collection – our favorite shop at Vic Falls Zimbabwe

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Tracking Cheetah in Zimbabwe

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View from the pool, Singita Pamushana

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Singita Pamushana

Southern Zimbabwe is stunning, visually. It is probably the most beautiful country we have visited. Green, heavily wooded areas with major rock formations forming ridges and canyons all around. The country seems untouched by the outside world- innocent and welcoming.
We are visiting Singita Pamushana and it is one of the most elegant camps I have seen. The lodge is set up on the top of a ridge, and the view over the lake of the rock hillside is amazing – especially with the sunset shining on it. We are greeted by Jason , and the camp staff – hands in the air waving- with a sparkling lemonade drink. Everyone is so happy to welcome our little band of travelers. Service and attention has been incredible everywhere we have been but it seems very special at Pamushana. We had dinner that night on the deck under a huge Jackelberry tree hung with lanterns. Jason told us about an Emmy award winning documentary filmmaker, Kim Wolhuter, who is doing a study on the property about cheetahs. He won one of his Emmys for a documentary about the misunderstood hyena, and he has moved to a study of cheetahs- their habits and daily life. He creates a relationship over several months with the animals and habituates them to his presence. By the end of the filming, he was running with the pack and filming in the middle of kills- literally in the middle of them. Of course we went out to find him the next morning. Our group had a jeep with no roof so we could roll through the heavy thicket to reach him. Kim was tracking cheetahs and we found him most generous in sharing where he was located and seeing those incredible cats. We heard the cheetahs call to each other and in the stillness we saw them turn on a dime and tear after some prey. The thunder of their paws on the forest floor was stupendous. What a thrill!!
He joined us for a dinner that evening and his stories about hyenas and the animals he documents for his films were riveting. I hope we can get him to the US to speak about animal conservation, land conservation, land management and how it all has to work in harmony. His efforts to save wildlife is fascinating. He is a gracious, engaging and delightful fellow.

On our nightstand is a poem by Wayne Visser, about Africa.
The poem is delightful, and stikes a chord with all of us .
Excerpts from it:
Africa calls to me
With the beat of her drums that mark my days
And the words of her poets that guide my ways
With the crash of the waves that hug her shores
And the sounds of the rain that soak her pores

Africa calls to me
With the crackle of fires that light her skies
And the rustle of leaves that swish her sighs
With the chant of her songs that move my feet
And the pulse of her heart that makes mine beat.

Lily Flower Okavango Delta

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