We have a few spaces left on our 2019 Botswana photographers group tour, so act soon if you wish to join this very special photo safari.
A few more chapters of our daily journey through Madagascar have been added to our other website - follow the journey at www.madagascar-travel-centre.com.au/lemur-tales
On our Madagascar Travel Centre website, a new series of posts has commenced. Designed to take you day-by-day on a journey across Madagascar, following the route that our group tours take.
Due to the very high demand for accommodation in Botswana in 2019 we will have to finalise bookings for our group tour before the end of this year !!! Yes, that is how popular Botswana is, so if you are thinking about safaris to Botswana, and if you love photography, join our August 2019 group as soon as possible. https://www.wildlife-safari-consultants.net/group-tours-2019-botswana.html
2018 ...... the year that so many wildebeest decided that the grass was greener on their side. The heavy rainfalls across Kenya and Tanzania earlier this year resulted in so much food and moisture being available in Tanzania that the expected million wildebeest didn't arrive in the Masai Mara during the peak migration time. Disappointing ?? Not really, for those of us who were fortunate enough to be in the Mara this year, the predator activity was outstanding - maybe because they had less to choose from ? Overall indications are that 80% of the migrating herds stayed well within the Serengeti. An unusual year, but the region is so well endowed with non-migratory wildlife that outstanding experiences were still had.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is taking Trivago to the Federal Court, alleging the hotel booking comparison site made misleading hotel price representations in TV and online advertisements. "Increasingly, people are putting their faith in comparison websites, and we have increasing concerns that those websites aren't working in the interest of consumers,"
It's something that concerns us for not only our safari business, but for our general travel through "Journeys Unlimited". Some very wise comments from the ACCC - read the news reports at these locations:
Over three weeks in Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia rewarded this group with sightings that were very special - marauding Black-Maned Lions, 4 cheetah hunting together, crocodiles fighting one another over an impala kill, newborn antelopes everywhere ....... we could go one and on, but the only way to experience the excitement that accompanies a sighting is to be there yourself. Join us in 2019 on one of our three expeditions.
Sometimes we come across amazing stories from the African bush. In this instance an old guiding friend of mine, Chad Cocking, tells a tale of his encounter with the widely feared Black Mamba. It is wonderful for him to share that experience, but the video made of the capture of the Mamba is a great education into snakes and we would really recommend that you not only read Chad's story, but watch the video too. Chad guides at Tanda Tula Lodge, which is a fantastic place to visit and proudly owned and operated by Don and Nina Scott. For photographers we highly recommend Tanda Tula, where Chad can add his vast photographic experience to a great safari. Phone or email us to start your Tanda Tula experience.
Read and Watch:: http://www.tandatula.com/blog/posts/video-there-is-a-mamba-under-my-bed
We're back from a scouting trip in Africa and there are lots of new ideas and places to visit.
Details of our group tours for 2019 will be released over the coming weeks. Expect groups to:
* Namibia in July
* Botswana in August
* Madagascar in September
Also in 2019 we will be offering Ethiopia as a new destination, and very special packages which bring together Ethiopia + Madagascar as a unique combination.
The image below courtesy of our new Ethiopian partners....
In a few days time we will be attending "Indaba", Africa's largest travel industry expo. This allows us to be well informed on new tours, operators, lodges, hotels and air routes. Most countries also deploy their tourism management to provide updates on what is happening across their nation. Indaba ensures that we have the latest offerings and deals to present to you. We have forged close relationships with owners and management of these companies over the past 25 years and renewing those acquaintances is essential when seeking the best for our clients.
After Indaba we will once again be visiting Madagascar, to scout out new destinations and options for our growing operations there. One of the areas will be the (seen above) "Marojejy National Park" - a great wilderness area in the north of the country where hiking is a special feature. See our website at Madagascar Travel Centre.
A big congratulations to SA Airlink !!!! Today their brand new Embraer 190 (ZS-YAD) lands in Madagascar for the first time. This is the fourth 190 in their fleet and the upgrade of aircraft has made the Johannesburg-Antananarivo service faster and smoother flying. Well done Airlink !!
2018 has become a crazy year for visiting Africa. Securing bookings for this year became difficult back in the last quarter of 2017 and has been trickier ever since. A surge in the number of tourists from USA and East Asia has been one of the prime factors behind this demand pressure. In most instances we are still able to find accommodation and safaris for this year's season, but it is limited.
We still have one single room and one double room available in our Africa group tour departing in July. We will be closing bookings for this tour on April 30th.
Our Madagascar group has a closing date of May 31st.
The India "Visa on Arrival" system is working well, but the Government of India has recently distributed the following information which is important to know:
"Government of India does not appoint any authorized agents to apply for e-Visa on behalf of any applicant. Do not fall prey to such fake e-Visa portals claiming to provide Express e-Visa services by charging a hefty amount for same. The official website of Government of India for e-Visa and related visa services is www.indianvisaonline.gov.in " (Niraj Sharan, Asst Director General , Ministry of Tourism, Delhi)
Should you do a Google search for e-Visa online you will find many of these unauthorized portals - please beware.
Further it needs to be understood that many tourists assume that Indian Visa is arranged on arrival in India and make arrangements to travel. They then turn up at the airport where they will be denied boarding until they secure a visa BEFORE they travel.
You are advised to visit this site and apply for e-Visa and print the confirmation which normally comes with in 48/78hrs and bring this along to board the flight. A valid Passport for more than 6 months, air ticket and e-Visa confirmation is must to board a flight to India.
It is with some pride that we celebrate 25 years of assisting our clients to Africa, India and beyond. When we commenced we would not have envisaged still being in business in 2018, but here we are. Thousands of happy travelers have used our services (in partnership with our general travel arm ..... Journeys Unlimited) and we have formed strong relationships with many of them. We still arrange travel for one of our clients we helped in the very beginning of 1993 !!!
A Happy New Year to you, Thanks for working with us, and we look forward to a fabulous 2018.
In our blog dated 1 June 2017 we commented on TripAdvisor and the confusion that its new format and direction were causing to users.
It is disturbing that what used to be a great forum for users has now become a marketing tool and loses its unbiased value. TripAdvisor now has a new "tool" which properties use ("This business uses tools provided by TripAdvisor [or one of its official Review Collection Partners] to encourage and collect guest reviews, including this one."), where the properties solicit reviews from clients for TripAdvisor ("Review collected in partnership with this hotel"). These are noted on each review as such.
Amazingly we have yet to see one of these where the recommendation is "Poor" or "Terrible" .... and we suspect we never will since it is now pre-filtered by the property, and then by T.A. (as part of their "partnership" agreement).
We are finding T.A. becoming increasingly biased and the value from user reviews has diminished hugely. What a pity.
Our sister agency, Journeys Unlimited is operating a "Culture & Cuisine" small group tour to India in February (departing 31 Jan). We designed this tour to cover the highlights of northern and southern India, but added special features along the way. Seeing some of the lesser known parts of Delhi and being shown how to prepare an Indian meal the authentic way are just the start. Being at The Taj at the right time of day, seeing the ghats of Varanasi before the tourists flood the area, or ensuring 2 nights stay in the backwaters of Kerala to see what life is really like there ..... simple features that we have learnt from the past 25 years of operating groups in India.
There are a few rooms left on this tour so be quick and phone us to be included in this special tour. Bookings close 1 December, if not sold out before. Journeys Unlimited : 02 9939 5660
We love Madagascar, and to further promote this fabulous destination we have decided to create a part of our agency dedicated to just Madagascar.
Today we launch: MADAGASCAR TRAVEL CENTRE
Nearly all visitors to India require a Visa. For many nationalities this can be applied for on-line, however beware that there are numerous websites who appear to be the "official" site for Visa applications, but are service centres who charge unnecessary fees. Please ensure you only apply for an Indian "eVisa" through the Government site:
Come and join our budding photographic tutor in Madagascar next year ..... expected departure date for our group tour is the 4th September 2018.
The past few months have been extremely busy for us - firstly with a group tour to East Africa for the Wildebeest Migration and then soon after, a group to Madagascar which arrives back in Australia tomorrow. Both groups were rewarded with amazing experiences and superb photographic opportunities. We shall be sharing some of the photographic moments here, and in our linked Instagram account, in the coming days.
The wildebeest migration was actually early this year, so at the time of our arrival in mid-July tens of thousands of animals were already swirling across the Masai Mara. Timing is everything with wildlife events, so we were pleased that once again our choice of date of departure placed us in the right locations at the right times. We see too many advertised tours that select timings that miss the outstanding moments.
In Madagascar our clients were also rewarded with the benefits of September - not too hot, very little rain, and lots of newborn lemurs clinging to their mothers. Madagascar continues to be one of our very favourite destinations and in the next few weeks you will be hearing from us in relation to a specific initiative for Madagascar.
Before the end of October (2017) we shall be releasing our "special" 2018 escorted group tour programs.... Why "special" - well 2018 is our 25th year of operation and on both tours we shall be celebrating this fantastic quarter of a century that we have enjoyed sharing with so many clients.
We are in the final stages of planning some new group tours for 2018. These will be announced soon.....
Also, watch our site for a new venture into a destination that offers more tan you could ever imagine .... coming very soon !!!!
Dennis Jones writes.......