May 2009 Round -Up Feature
Southern Africa Creates its Own Buzz
By Maria Lisella
At one moment or other the nations that loosely make up the Southern African region -- Botwswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe -- have taken turns in swiping the spotlight from one another as they strengthen their economies through tourism.
Sometimes life imitates literature and is the better for it. Recently, Botswana Tourism Board sponsored a preview screening of the making of the pilot film, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, for tour operators and travel agents who sell Botswana. The new television series, which premiered on HBO on March 29, 2009, is adapted from the best-selling novels by author Alexander McCall Smith, and was entirely filmed on location in Botswana. The larger than life Precious Ramotswe, fictional owner of Botswana’s only female-owned detective agency, is played by Grammy Award-winner Jill Scott with the series having been shot on location in Botswana recently. The series will run on Sundays during prime time (check local listings) for the next six weeks with a weekly installment of Mme. Ramotswe’s adventures.
One guest asked Smith what made Botswana so special to him. "People often say when you visit Botswana that you are likely to be impressed by the spirituality of the place," he said. "Not in a religious sense, but just a sense of human spirituality, and spiritual possibilities. And you can't help but be bowled over by the magnificence of the country, by the sense of being in this great natural theater of light, wonderful expanses of countryside and intense natural beauty. It's very moving. It's overwhelming. I fell in love with it.”
Leslee Hall of Partner Concepts, Botswana Tourism Board's representative in North America said, "Botswana is a stable, democratic country where women are empowered to make a difference, "We encourage everyone to participate in this inspirational contest, and to learn more about what makes Botswana such a special vacation destination in Africa." For information, contact Botswana Tourism, visit www.botswanatourism.us
Described as “momentous” are the changes on Zimbabwe’s political landscape have raised hopes that the country’s promising tourism could once again flourish, led by Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe’s leading attraction and a Natural World Wonder. “Zimbabwe stands at the brink of momentous change,” said Ross Kennedy, spokesman for the gotovictoriafalls.com campaign, which for the past three years has championed efforts to keep the destination on the world tourist map.
A broad-based government incorporating Zimbabwe’s three main political parties came into effect following the premier’s appointment of a new Minister of the renamed Tourism and Hospitality, Walter Mzembi, met with industry leaders almost immediately. Another new ministry, Environment and Natural Resources, led by former tourism minister Francis Nhema, is expected to promote Zimbabwe’s conservation programs and further develop ambitious transfrontier parks as well as restore Zimbabwe’s once admired National Parks.
“That Victoria Falls is one of the world’s most magnificent natural splendors was never in question. That it has remained tranquil, safe, operational and welcoming is something the world now understands,” said Kennedy. The prospect of peace, a unified and functional government augured well tourism growth, he said.
There is renewed hope that as the new government settles and systems resume working in Zimbabwe, warnings against travel to the country will be lifted. Already, international aid to arrest the spread of cholera has started pouring in. For information, contact Zimbabwe Tourism Authority’s U.S. representative, www.gotovictoriafalls.com
Over the past couple of months, Zambia’s newly elected president, Rupiah Banda, who vowed during his campaign to reduce visa fees for visitors to the country, has done so. The Department of Immigration in Zambia and the Zambia Tourist Board have confirmed that a single entry visa now costs $50 with a multiple entries costing $80. Visas can be purchased prior to travel or upon entering the country. For information, contact Zambia Tourism, 202-265-9717; E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www.zambiatourism.com; for visa information, visit www.zambniaembassy.org
In spite of a tough economic environment South African Tourism has reported strong support for business tourism at the recent Meetings Africa, South Africa’s top business tourism trade exhibition attended by nearly 2,000 participants. Meetings Africa experienced 15 percent more exhibitors this year with a total of 218 businesses offering their wares to the global travel trade. Of those exhibitors, 50 were at Meetings Africa for the first time.
Nomasonto Ndlovu, Global Manager: Business Tourism at South African Tourism said, “Although we have experienced a slight decrease in visitor numbers to Meetings Africa compared to last year, feedback indicates that the event attracted more quality local and international buyers and overall exhibitors conducted good business with these buyers.”
Meetings Africa 2010 will be held at the Sandton Convention Centre from February 24 to 26. For more information, visit www.meetingsafrica.co.za.
For more information, contact South African Tourism, Laura Saeger, Business Tourism Manager, 800-593-1318/ 212-471-6263 or visit www.southafrica.net
Products Coming Online
South African Airways Vacations’ new "Southern Africa Tapestry" safari package takes travelers to the hottest luxury spots in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Zambia at the price of $5,990 per person double including airfare on South African Airways, Africa's most awarded carrier. This package is available in May andfrom Sept. 15 thru Nov. 30, 2009. Call 888-722-4872; www.flysaaavacations.com
Indus Travels’ covers South Africa from wildlife reserves that teem with birdlife and sightings of the “big five,” to modern cities, world-renowned vineyards, ancient forests and the arresting beauty of rugged coastlines to long stretches of warm waters and golden sands not to mention South African hospitality, culture and sights. Tours start from Johannesburg and ends at Cape Town, both of which participants will sightsee in. Additionally, guests will visit Pilgrim's Rest, Kruger National Park, Swaziland, Zululand, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Knysna, Oudtshoorn. Prices start from $2,085 per person double. Among the inclusions are tours in air-conditioned micro-buses or 18-seater mini-buses; the services of professional Tour Guides; airport transfers, porterage and Kruger National Park Conservation Levy. Call 866-978-2997; E-mail email@example.com or visit www.industravels.com
Namibia, named for the great Namib Desert that defines so much of its interior, is a country of contrasts. From seaside towns boasting formal gardens, flocks of flamingos and Cape fur seals to the sweeping, apricot-colored sand dunes of the desert, this country is rooted in its ancient landscapes. Namibia offers what it has always offered: distinctive and beautiful landscapes, wildlife beyond compare and hospitable people. Timeless Namibia is priced from $8,395 per person double. Call 866-591-0070; www.travcoa.com
Boundless Journeys is taking travelers to the wilder parts of Africa in Botswana's Okavango Delta, Linyanti Concession, and the banks of the Chobe and Zambezi rivers. These wetlands attract a diversity of wildlife that is breathtaking to behold, including lion, leopard, cheetah, numerous plains animals, and huge herds of elephants. The safari provides access to remote camps on private concessions bordering the Moremi Game Reserve, Chobe National Park, and near Zambia's Victoria Falls. Land arrangements cost $7,295 Call 800-941-8010; www.boundlessjourneys.com
FIFA World Cup Tickets on Sale
Destination Southern Africa (DSA inc.) has been appointed by MATCH Services as a Participating Tour Operator to sell travel packages including tickets for the 2010 FIFA World Cup of South Africa. A variety of ticket-inclusive travel packages will be available for purchase; and Match Services will announce additional tour operators. Tickets first went on sale Feb. 20, 2009; by midnight March 31, 1.6 million applications had been filed; 30% of which came from South African residents, and 70% from the rest of the world. The second sales phase is May 4-Nov. 16.
Call 800-203-6724; E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www.myafricavacation.com
For more information, contact South African Tourism, 800-593-1318; or visit www.southafrica.net
October 2007 Feature
Southern Africa’s Classical Deviations
Classical Southern Africa programs often combine Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana, dubbing the itinerary, ZimZamBot. Today, that itinerary often deviates with increasingly accessible transportation among the countries in Southern Africa and can include other destinations such as South Africa and Namibia and sometimes even Malawi. Below are a few updated products operators have introduced to their 2008 program portfolios.
Situated on the banks of the Zambezi River, the Chiawa Camp, known for its abundant land and water-based game viewing, has added a third tent to their collection of Superior Tents. Chiawa’s Superior Safari Tent could be a romantic retreat for honeymoon couples, those celebrating special occasions, or for those who simply want to experience Zambia’s finest tented safari accommodation. Equipped with indoor and outdoor showers, an oversized tub with Molton Brown amenities, a super-king sized bed draped in pure cotton linens all on a timber deck with a view of the Zambezi River and its escarpment, the Superior Safari Tents at Chiawa make for the ultimate safari under canvas.
Superior Safari Tent rates are $895 per person per night, sharing, all seasons and includes all meals, game drives, canoe trips, laundry, beverages, car fees, airport transfers, and taxes. Singles are from $1,165. E-mail email@example.com; www.chiawa.com
Robin Pope Safaris in South Luangwa, Zambia, has teamed up with Matemwa Lodge on Zanzibar Island to offer travelers the ultimate Bush and Beach vacation package. For $4,820 per person double, travelers will spend seven incredible nights in the heart of the African bush at Robin Pope Safaris then head to Zanzibar Island for a four night tropical beach getaway at Matemwa Lodge. The rates include all inter-Africa flights, accommodation, meals, game viewing, bar, laundry, National Park fees, taxes, transfers to/from Mfuwe Airport, guided reef dives, and village walks. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www.robinpopesafaris.net or the Matemwa at www.asilialodges.com
With the purchase of a circuit of five safari camps and lodges in the country’s most outstanding wildlife park, Abercrombie & Kent’s Sanctuary Lodges & Camps are expanding into Zambia. Founded by Abercrombie & Kent to operate on an environmentally sustainable basis, Sanctuary Lodges & Camps include Olonana in Kenya’s Masai Mara; Swala in Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park and Kusini in the Serengeti; Gorilla Forest Camp in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest; and four properties in Botswana -- Chief’s Camp, Chobe Chilwero, Stanley’s Camp and Baines’ Camp. A&K’s spokesperson advises, “Walking safaris were pioneered in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley; if you have only seen animals from inside a vehicle, you will find walking with big game a thrilling experience. Night drives are also a specialty and the best means of seeing some of the more elusive nocturnal species, including leopard.”
Currently, The Sanctuary Portfolio in Zambia includes: the 10-treehouse Sussi Lodge built among huge ebony trees, just upstream from Victoria Falls in the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park; the Lechwe Plains Tented Camp in the Lochinvar National Park, north of Lusaka, is set on the Chunga Lagoon, a World Heritage Wetland offers incredible birdlife and tens of thousands of Kafue Lechwe (antelope), an aquatic antelope; the eight tents at the Kulefu Tented Camp are set on platforms at the edge of the Lower Zambezi National Park, which is on the wildest stretch of the Zambezi; the Puku Ridge Tented Camp in the South Luangwa National Park is located on a ridge overlooking game rich floodplains offering exciting wildlife opportunities; and the Chichele Presidential Lodge’s hilltop setting in South Luangwa National Park overlooking plains teeming with wildlife. Call 800-652-2405; www.abercrombiekent.com
Don Forster, Product and Marketing Manager for Goway’s ADVENTURESIncorporated, has enhanced the company’s Zambia offerings with an Elephant Safari when agents book select tours. “From experience, I can recommend this up close and personal safari. The opportunity to spend time with such large, powerful and majestic animals is truly an experience I won’t forget in a hurry” said Forster.
Located near Thorntree Lodge, approximately 10 km from Livingstone, Zambezi Elephant Trails has established Zambia’s first “Elephant Camp” - offering a once in a lifetime insight into these gentle giants. Together with this ecologically friendly style of game viewing, a strong emphasis is placed on an Elephant experience rather than just an Elephant ride and guests are encouraged to interact with these majestic and intelligent African mammals.
The free Elephant safari is offered in conjunction with the Southern Experience or Northern Experience African Safari. These memorable 20-day trips start from $1,995 and are the most popular safaris, offering the best way to see the most spectacular features of Southern Africa.
New in Botswana are the Ichobezi Luxury Safariboats (the Moli and Mukwae) which sail both the Zambezi and Chobe Rivers. Since one of the best ways to see Botswana is by water, the safariboat provides an ideal platform to view the abundant wildlife of the Chobe National Park. Being on the river allows you to get closer to the large variety of game including elephant, buffalo, giraffe, kudu, waterbuck and the shy Chobe bushbuck.
With only 4 twin cabins aboard, the Safariboats offer an intimate and exclusive experience. The boats also offer a range of facilities such as dedicated tender boats, an entertainment deck, plunge pool, fully stocked bar and menus to please every palate. Every comfort and need is well looked after onboard.
Ichobezi Safariboat, a four-day itinerary on the safariboat priced from $1218 per person is available with roundtrip transfers from Victoria Falls or Livingstone Airport and includes meals on a full-board basis, sightseeing, services of professional tour guides, park entrance fees and on-board activities such as fishing, walking safaris and mekoro (dugout canoe) trips.
The Safariboats can be easily combined with AFRICAExperts’ three-day Victoria Falls Package or three-day Livingstone Package which include roundtrip airfare from Johannesburg, airport transfers, walking tour of the Falls and sunset cruise. Prices start at $795 per person.