As part of my travel agency, Matson & Ridley Safaris, I will be leading two safaris to two of my favourite parts of Africa in 2016. Based on my past safaris, the very limited spaces (maximum 12 people) book out very fast, so if you'd like to join please drop me a line now! These camps have to be booked now because they are so popular they book out a year in advance or more. And as with all my safaris, the camps are selected by me to ensure your tourism dollars make a difference on the ground. Trust me, these safaris will change your life!
Zimbabwe - Conservation Safari
Experience a very special, behind the scenes safari where you will spend time with the rarest of Africa's species, including rhinos, African wild dogs, and hippos, and the dedicated people on the ground working to conserve them in the Save Valley Conservancy, as well as a good old fashioned, luxury safari in Hwange National Park, and a visit to Victoria Falls!
Dates: 2nd July - 9th July 2016
On arrival in Harare on 2nd July, we will fly to Sango Lodge for 3 nights in Zimbabwe's Save Valley Conservancy, where you will be based at your beautiful home among the baobabs and boulders.
Over the next few days, we'll spend time with Bryce and Lara Clemence and their rangers and you'll get the chance to track a rhino with them. We'll meet Rosemary Groom and Jess Watermeyer who run the African wild dog research project in Save, and we'll be there at the best time of year to see wild dog puppies at their dens! And you'll get to meet Karen Paolillo and her hippos at Hippo Haven (keep an eye out for her new book, "A Hippo Love Story" which is out now). Honestly, this is an experience you won't get anywhere else!
On 5th July, we will fly to Hwange National Park for 3 nights, a place that is world famous for its large concentrations of elephants and abundant wildlife and one of my favourite safari destinations. We'll be staying at the beautiful Little Makalolo Camp, recently listed as one of "Africa's Finest" for it's excellent environmental and community upliftment standards. I'll spend time with you talking about animal behaviour and all sorts of things from your own personal zoologist's perspective.
And then to top it off, we'll head to the magnificent Victoria Falls for a night at the Kingdom Hotel, a sight you just have to see to believe.
Price: USD$7100/person sharing (approx AUD$9000 at exchange rate on 5/3/15)
Namibia - Desert Dreaming Safari
If you've never experienced Namibia's north west then you've got something special to look forward to! If you've ever dreamed of visiting the spectacular Skeleton Coast, meeting Namibia's traditional Himba people, and spending time with desert dwelling elephants in an environment that is wild, remote and pure adventure, then this is the safari for you.
Dates: 20- 27 May 2016
This luxury, conservation-focused safari kicks off on 20th May in Windhoek with a night at the Kalahari Sands Hotel, and then we're off the next day by plane to Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp for 3 nights. On our second day, we'll do a full day fly-in excursion to the Skeleton Coast itself, where we'll see shipwrecks, desert dunes, seals and so much more. I'll spend time telling you about the behaviour and ecological functions of the elephants and other species in this unique, fragile region.
On 24th May, we'll fly to Africa's most remote and my favourite camp, Serra Cafema and spend 3 amazing nights there. I don't know how to describe this luxurious camp - it's so much more than an oasis in the desert. You just have to see it to believe it. A community partnership with the local Himba community is one of the unique features, meaning it really makes a meaningful contribution to the locals and hence to conservation. You'll see how the Himbas live and breathe in landscapes so big you will feel like the tiniest of insects in this vast landscape. Serra Cafema camp also made the Top 50 in "Africa's Finest" for its contribution to conservation.
Finally on 27th May, we'll all fly back to Windhoek and bid farewell.
Price: SING$10,000/person sharing (approx AUD$9350 at current exchange rate on 3/3/15)
All meals and drinks are included in these safaris (with the one exception of the first night in Windhoek on the Namibian safari), all luxury accommodation, all park and community fees, two activities daily, internal flights between camps, laundry, and donations to relevant conservationists we spend time with. Visas are not included (free in Namibia, about US$35 for Zimbabwe). Travel insurance is compulsory and not included. International flights to and from your home town are not included.
Remember that the price also contributes to local conservation projects and keeps the wildlife and traditional communities you meet along the way afloat - so it's really as good as a donation to charity. You're also keeping my conservation work going, as my safari company is what pays the bills and allows me to do my conservation work for free.
If either of these safaris spark your interest, drop me a line now. Spots are limited to 12 people per safari. Family groups are welcome (kids must be aged 12+). I'd love to have you along!