Friday, August 28, 2009

"Real Wanderers On The Continent”: Every Friday…real tours and real people who are really addicted to Africa!



Name: Michelle Doukas


From: Australia


What tour are you on? Kenya to Cape Town


Truck/tour leader? Sammy on truck Pangani


Travelling with…? My boyfriend


Been to Africa before? Yes, Egypt & Morocco


Most memorable moments on tour? Seeing a herd of 40+ elephants walking past our trucks on the first day of safari in the Masai Mara, White water rafting in Vic falls (crazy!) and sky diving in Namibia


What would you say to someone thinking of coming on tour? You will have the time of your life


Where’s the next adventure?... Hmm. Still to be decided…



Next Friday 04 September, Zoe Gazeley will be sharing her travel bites from her very first trip in Africa – her travel motto “to go with the flow”

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Top Tips For Overlanding From Nomad: UK Adventure Travel Store – Leaders In Travel Preparation


You’ve booked a fabby trip with Acacia Africa – that was the easy bit! Now you need to get ready. How do you know what is the best clothing and equipment to take? Where do you start with your health? Especially in a continent as diverse as Africa! Don’t worry, help is at hand. Here at Nomad Adventure Travel Store we have been kitting out adventurers for overland trips since 1990 – that’s nearly 20 years experience – both for clothing and equipment and travel health. Our ethos is to ensure you are prepared with the right gear and medical supplies on your special trip. We want to be love the overland experience. To help you along here are a few tips:

Sleeping Bag
Probably the most difficult item to get right, especially for multi destination trips. If you feel the cold, cater for the coldest and use in conjunction with a liner, otherwise versatility and layering is the key. Going from hot and cold (high altitude and desert to the tropics) consider a 1 – 2 season sleeping bag + a tropical quilt + thermal base layer + fleece or insulated mid layer.

Self Inflating Mats
Mats are very important for ground insulation and comfort, ordinary camping mats are fine but bulky (not an issue on the truck as there is plenty of storage space). Self-inflating mats are by far the more comfortable and pack down small, a repair kit is essential – they are easily punctured, especially in some areas of Africa where glass-like sand and thorns are prevalent.

Thermals 

Important for any trip into high altitude. Useful for those who feel the cold in areas where evening temperatures can plummet such as the desert. They also make great pyjamas when it’s cold at night.

Kit Bag/Holdall
If you don’t intend to travel on after the overland tour then a sturdy holdall/kit bag is ideal for truck based trips.

And One For The Girls…Sports Bra
A Sports Bra will give added comfort when travelling in the truck over rough terrain. Used and recommended by many female overland drivers and couriers.

Discounts From Acacia Africa
Book with us and grab a 15% discount on kit from Nomad UK Travel Stores and 10% discount on vaccinations. Check out what bargains Nomad can offer at their stores in London, Bristol, Manchester or Southampton or order online

Next Wednesday 02 September catch up with Madafan a site which aims to spread the word on the lost continent. The portal features over 200 destination related videos and counting! – and adventurers who are addicted to Madagascar can now add their own under the "save our smile" banner

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Love Africa: Go Crazy About Kenya and the eight stringed Obokano with Grandmaster Masese...




Excerpt from the Daily Nation (Kenya)

Though the eight-stringed Obokano is an authentic Kisii traditional musical instrument, all it earned Grandmaster Masese was scorn and ridicule when his villagemates in Nyamira saw him carrying it around.

Just after he completed high school, he began performing his music at social and public functions for a modest fee. Despite his efforts, people refused to see him as anything more than a lazy, improvident musician.

Envy of many

That was in 2004. Today, courtesy of the instrument, Masese, whose real name is Dennis Mosiere, is the envy of many in the same village.

He arrives tomorrow after a 10-day tour of the UK, where he was part of a group that performed at one of the biggest literary events in the world, the Hay Festival. They also performed at several other venues for Kenyans living in the UK.

Cut off my Tongue, a unique poetry performance show, is a production of Storymoja Publishers. The poetry, written by Sitawa Namwalie, among other things, addresses issues of ethnicity, bad leadership and corruption. It is accompanied by music and dance, and this is where Masese and his Obokano come in.

Although when he started off his musical career Masese had dreams of making it big, he had never thought that he would perform at such prestigious events. “I think all this is due to the focused approach I have given my work,” says Masese, who is also a poet.

From the contacts he made through his performances at Kwani, Masese was invited to the Pan African Literary Forum in Accra, Ghana, in July last year. And this year, he joined the cast of Cut off my Tongue as a replacement for Ingosti Star.

Among other high-profile events, Masese performed for Prince Edward when he came to Kenya in 2006 and at the Obama inauguration ceremony at the US Embassy early this year.

During the performance, which was also an art competition, he won the top prize with his song Twajivunia Kenya Yetu. His music has also been used as a soundtrack to a short movie called A Glass Story, done by German, Catherine Ender.

Masese has teamed up with Anthony Mwangi, a former Idols contestant, and they have been performing together.

Source: Daily Nation (Kenya)

You can contact Grandmaster Masese and sign up as a fan on facebook
Alternatively, find out more about this talented artist and his love of Kenya at Crazy About Kenya

Love Africa: On Tuesday 01 September Matt Hampton will be going under the knife in Morocco. A freelance journalist and photographer, Matt will also be leaving us with a few handy hints on how to haggle in the markets of Marrakech. Catch up with Matt's travels on his website

Monday, August 24, 2009

Madagascar Tweet Up – get your head around the lost continent





Last Friday’s Madagascar Tweet Up was a chance for adventurers and agents to quiz our team of Africa specialists on the lost continent. Just in case you missed the opportunity to tweet with us, here’s the full list of questions and answers. Of course, if you want to get better acquainted with the destination, you can always check out the website or email us at info@acacia-africa.com

Q. Given Madagascar's diversity, what part of Madagascar's offer do you think interests tourists: nature? beaches? endemic species? people?

A. No one aspect wins out as Madagascar is impossible to label – it’s the diversity of the country that attracts people

Q. Where do England-based tourists go online (blogs, forums, websites) for seeking information about Madagascar?

A. We love this site: Wild Madagascar blog wise we’d have to give you a shout out to Madafan

Q. What is the tourist profile that is interested with Madagascar's offer?

A. The nature lover of course and perhaps the more seasoned safari-goer who wants to see another side to Africa

Q. What’s high tourist season in Madagascar?

A. July to August, but most parks tend to enjoy a steady run of tourists year round, so in Madagascar you can wildlife view without the crowds

Q. Does the country's tourist board work with the trade much, or operate fam trips?

A. This piece came out in June – but a task force is in place to get tourism back on track: http://bit.ly/QVyDl

Q. Do you ever promote trips to Ile St Marie or Nosy Be, especially around festivals?

A. We don't tie into festivals at present but it’s something to think about :) However, we are currently offering an 8-day dhow sailing adventure around Nosy Be

Q. Itineraries to Madagascar seem to be more expensive in comparison to East Africa – any reason?

A. East Africa offers is more developed in terms of tourism and there’s more competition. Ultimately group tours bring costs down, although flights tend to be expensive

Q. What parks provide the best photo opportunities when it comes to lemurs?

A. You’ll find semi-tame lemurs in Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, some will actually come and sit on your shoulders – Nosy Komba is another firm favourite if you want to get closer to the lemur

Q. How are tourists contributing to eco-tourism by going on an Acacia tour?

A. Park & guide fees are included in our tours – around 50% is redistributed to the people living around the parks in a bid to solve eco issues

Q. Why book an organised tour in Madagascar as opposed to travelling independently?

A. Limited tourist facilities, bad roads and limited ground transportation means travelling with a tour operator is still the best option

Q. When’s the best time to go to Madagascar?

A. Madagascar is an all-year round destination, but Sep to Nov is usually best after the cool, dry winter, and before the hot rainy season. Saying that rainy season is still a good time to visit as wildlife trekking is in the early mornings and rains come in the late afternoon & evening.

Q. Do you think the agreement and future elections will actually happen for Madagascar?

A. We hope the agreement between the two parties signed recently will go a long way in stabilising the political turmoil. Here's some more promising signs of recovery for Madagascar: http://bit.ly/PPpx6

Q. What about changing currency?

A. Your best option is US dollars to be changed on arrival in Antananarivo – there are ATM’s in Hell-ville and the above, however they can be unreliable. US dollars must be clean, post 2001 edition notes

Q. I’ve heard that Nosy Be is very touristy – are there still some off the beaten track locations around that region?

A. Despite its reputation, Nosy Be does feature a small, but diverse area for instance, the Lokobe Reserve on our 8-day dhow sailing adventure

Q. Do we have to tip guides or is that included in the trip cost?

A. Guide fees are included in the cost of our tours, local guides are invaluable in pointing out what you might otherwise miss so most people tend to tip

Q. What’s the best time to spot Lemurs?

A. It’s a year round activity, but Oct – Nov, is baby lemur season, generally the weather is mild then so it’s a great time to go

Q. What about conditions and trekking - who are your tours best suited to?

A. We’d say reasonably fit trekkers – in Ranomafana National Park on our 11-day adventure it’s mountainous with rough forest paths and you have to push through the undergrowth

Q. What about costs in the destination?

A. Madagascar is relatively inexpensive - e.g. a 2 course meal in a local restaurant might cost around £6pp

Q. What are the major highlights for divers on your tours?

A. Ifaty beach as it's protected by a large coral reef - also Nosy Tanikely, a marine reserve, fantastic visibility - manta rays, turtles...

Q. Could you let me know numbers in terms of crew?

A. The 11 day tour features one driver/ guide, and our 8 day tour 1 skipper, 1 chef, 3 crew

Q. Swine flu - any response to that?

A. Greater hygiene care will be advised on tour

Q. Can group tours be booked as private tours?

A. Yes, subject to a slight increase in cost - our tours are 8+ and we do have families booking private tours

Q. What online resource would you recommend for great pictures of Madagascar, to help sell the destination?

A. This is one of the best resources on the net - obviously there will be copyright, but they do accept requests & have high res available – here’s a link to the site for photos: http://www.wildmadagascar.org/about.htm

Q. Are customers more or less likely to book/enquire online for Madagascar vs your other destinations?

A. Madagascar doesn't differ when it comes to online booking, but people will research more beforehand as it's 'exotic'

Andy the great outdoorsman from the Veldt, goes wild camping and takes a canoe safari in Zambia...


This week’s patter comes live and direct from Chirundu, in Zambia

What a great feeling to be out of the river – I’m going to be canoeing on the lower stretches of the Zambezi this week with a bunch of fun guys on the 5-day Canoe the Zambezi adventure. While I’ve never been near a canoe before I’m told it’s a doddle and our first outing will be at a slow pace – to be followed by a bit of wild camping on an island in the middle of the river.

Day two should be awesome, as we’ll have a whole day’s canoe safari. Bet you didn’t know that this stretch of water is said to contain the highest recorded numbers of game and bird life on the entire Zambezi River.

Top tip: leave yourself with a few extra days as you can go all out on the adrenaline activities in Livingstone - the perfect end to an amazing safari.

Friday, August 21, 2009

"Real Wanderers On The Continent”: Every Friday…real tours and real people who are really addicted to Africa!


Name

Kimberley Torwick

From

Melbourne, Australia

What tour are you on?

Zanzibar, Vic Falls & Kruger

Truck/tour leader?

With Sammy & Julius on Pangani truck

Travelling with…?

Me

Travel Motto

Hmmm….

Most memorable moment on tour?

Relaxing on the beautiful beach at Lake Malawi, swimming with dolphins in Zanzibar & having zebras come into our camp ground on safari

What would you say to someone thinking of coming on tour?

Amazing! Although there is a fair bit of travelling, the reward at each stop is well worth it.

Where’s the next adventure?...

Home for a while!

Michelle Doukas has already experienced Northern Africa – but her latest trip meant a trip to the Mara – unforgettable Africa! Check out her most memorable moments on Friday 28 August

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Given up: being a London socialite and am catching up with the Big Cats and possibly a few lemurs!


Dear “Addicted to Africa Diary”....Yes those extra few drinks after a hard day in the office are appealing, but it won’t get the travel kitty any closer to Africa. I’ve just been watching some re-runs of the BBC’s Big Cat Week on DVD. OK, hands up this is probably a weekly habit of mine, but according to “Andy, the great outdoorsman from the Veldt,” Africa is a real addiction so you could say it’s one way of keeping myself from going crazy during the long periods between my travels. Anyway, if the DVD dies on me I can always catch up with Acacia on Twitter (apparently they’re running a Madagascar Tweet Up tomorrow between 10am and noon (BST) – and I’ve always fancied a shot a lemur trekking ☺). October to November is baby lemur season so I might have to make another trip by to my favourite continent post my 13-day mini-overland tour through Kenya and Tanzania


Amelia Smith...

Saving up for your next Africa trip...any great ideas on how to generate more cash for Amelia's travel kitty? From the weird to the wonderful we're all ears...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tips for the best safari from the Africafreak


The Africafreak is a great portal for anyone looking to make the most of the continent. Check out his top five tips here on improving your game viewing chances and why not drop by to the blog and indulge in all things Africa.

A safari spent in the African savanna will enchant you with unforgettable experiences and wonderful sights! Provided below are just a few rules/advice that you might want to consider to improve your game viewing chances…

1. Wake Up Very Early
Rule number ONE! I know this might sound strange especially while on holiday, but out in the bush this is one recommendation that you should definitely stick to. Early mornings and late afternoons are just THE best times of the day to encounter wild animals! At noon, the sun is at its highest peak and animals tend to hide under the thickets.

2. Be Quiet
While animals have somewhat become habituated to car engines, they will run away if you are too loud!

3. Be Patient
Unlike zoos, national parks and African game reserves are wild areas where animals roam free and unattended! In other words, do not expect to see lions, rhinos and elephants every square kilometer! Do not panic ! Persistence is key, and it is usually when you least expect it that you bump into the most exciting and rewarding sightings!

4. Scan the Horizon
Open up your eyes! And if your eyes aren’t good enough, a good pair of binoculars are always handy! Stop often and scan the horizon, even though you can’t see a single thing at first sight. I have spotted lions that way more than once!

Also look for small details like unusual movements in trees, strange shadows in the open or awkward sounds. Look for everything and anything!

Sometimes your imagination might play you a few tricks (”It’s a LION”…oops nope, only a darn rock), but it will also reward you with interesting findings! Even the smallest creatures such as chameleons, dung beetles, snakes or even tree iguanas can be so much fun; and such a delight to watch!!!

5. Talk to Your Guide
If you have decided to go for guided safaris (instead of safaris in your own vehicle), then be sure to spend some time chatting with your guide beforehand. The idea is to ask questions about the area, and to be curious about what can be expected from the game drive.

In this way your guide will take you to areas where you are more likely to see the wild animals specified!

Let’s say you’re a huge cheetah fan for instance. If your safari expert is good enough (which I’m sure he will be), then he’ll concentrate his efforts in areas that are suitable for cheetahs, such as plains and open grasslands. I am not saying that you can ONLY find the cats in those types of habitat, but of course there is a higher probability of finding them there!

Next Wednesday 26 August check in with Nomad. As the leaders in travel preparation they’ll be handing out the top tips on overlanding gear

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Love Africa: take a mini-overland tour with Mark Smith and find out more about the 13-day Kenya and Tanzania Adventure


Why would you recommend the tour?

I thought that the best part of the trip would have been the wildlife, but in the end it was really the people I travelled with – they made the tour. It was a real mix, there were adventurers from all over the world, of differing ages, from different backgrounds, all with different stories to tell. We all shared a passion for adventure, wildlife and having a good time and that really brought us together. The wildlife viewing was excellent, we saw everything, but it was sharing the experience with so many people that made it such an amazing trip.

I thought that the long journeys spent in the overland truck would be the worst part, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Everyone made the most of the music system and tables for card games etc. We kept ourselves busy and the changing scenery kept people engaged with the countries we were travelling in. The truck journeys are obviously an important part of the trip and it was a great experience.

Was this the first time you have taken an overland trip?

Yes. I have always wanted to see the Masai Mara, Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. This trip gave me the opportunity to do just that at a price that I could afford, and within a duration that my work holiday entitlement would allow for. Overlanding had the ideal adventure/travel element that I felt I needed having worked hard in London for the past 2 years.

After this experience I will definitely opt for another overland trip.

1. for the people you meet
2. for the distant and beautiful places you get to visit
3. it meets my budget and holiday allowances

What about value for money?

I found the cost/prices were very similar to those advertised in the brochure. This allowed me to devise a budget that worked. As I had no unforeseen costs I was able to treat myself with the cash I had available for contingency. Price accuracy in the brochure is key to people enjoying their holiday without annoying hidden costs. Here’s a tip - always barter for curios! Zanzibar was the most expensive destination and I found the restaurants at the beach to be a little on the pricey side in comparison with the rest of the places I visited.

Did anything really take your breath away?

The hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti was an extra optional activity and very expensive, but one that I simply had to do. Watching the sun coming over the horizon with the wildebeest migration below was an experience that would stir the soul of most people.

The accommodation at Kendwa Rocks, Zanzibar was in an amazing location. The beach was 20m from my bungalow, turquoise water, blue skies and white sand. Amazing!

Any humourous moments?

I had my 26th birthday on the trip – everyone made an effort to dress up in Masai blankets. We then proceeded to have a huge party with BBQ food, drink, music, singing & dancing. The following day’s six hour dive was a tough one.

Any good places for a nosh up?

The fish market in Stone Town was brilliant. Loads of people, loads of stalls, and all the food was caught fresh that day.

Any fascinating cultural experiences?

Walking around the Maasai village in Arusha wasn’t the greatest and it felt very artificial. But when all of the kids that lived in the village ran over and used our arms as swings and wanted us to play with them and pick them up, it became a very emotional and close experience. I’m a bloke and usually wouldn’t be bothered with that kind of thing, but even I felt good when the kids asked me to swing them around. Pretty cool…

What about the long drives – any advice for adventurers thinking of heading overland?

Driving past Kilimanjaro was evocative, as was the approach to Dar es Salaam. On Long trips bring your Ipod, books, a deck of cards and a magnetic games board for Chess, Draughts,etc.

Are you thinking of coming back to Africa?

I have a couple of things still to do in Africa: Climbing Kili is one of them. I’m also hoping to check out Gorillas and see Namibia.

Anything else you'd like to add?...


Invest in a few pumps and air valve/pins to inflate the rugby, soccer and volleyballs.

Love Africa: next Tuesday 25 August you can go Go Crazy About Kenya and the eight stringed Obokano – a traditional instrument played by talented artist Grandmaster Masese

Monday, August 17, 2009

Andy the great outdoorsman from the Veldt, goes trekking in the Andisabe Reserve in Madagascar


Wotcha Africa addicts – this week I’m out trekking with some more seasoned safari goers who’ve decided to opt for our 11-day Madagascar Revealed adventure.

We’re up and at ‘em in the early hours as we’re going to be going off in search of the Indri Indri – Madagascar’s largest Lemur. It’s high tourist season in July and August, but certainly not overcrowded, as people tend to opt for Madagascar year-round. Wait up – well it sounds like a whale, but I do believe that’s one of the Indri Indri calling us. The excitement is on tap here as we’re also expecting to check in with some colourful chameleons, tenrecs and a host of birdlife while we’re out on the trail in this beautiful forested reserve.

Top tip: get yourself ready for a fairly long trek of around three hours or more and take plenty of water. Don’t forget, mosey on over to Twitter this Friday 10am to midday (BST) and ask away! – as you’ll be able to tweet us about the wonders of Madagascar – pre the “tweet up” if you have any burning questions on this amazing African country please send them to bespoke@tionlondon.co.uk

Friday, August 14, 2009

Andy the great outdoorsman from the Veldt, gets the low down from Africa Addicts on the day of the Big Five Flash Sale


Andy the great outdoorsman from the Veldt, reporting to you live and direct from Acacia’s London office on the day of the Big Five Flash Sale

Andy: It's pure pandemonium here, we’ve had people camping outside the office since 6am - it’s like the annual migration of the wildebeest. The Acacia team are still taking bets on the number one safari destination – oh hang on word has just come in…

Apparently, the Ngorongoro was a hot contender, but the Acacia team says it’s now a mash up between the Mara and Serengeti. Well, there are plenty of wildlife capital fans here so let’s get the low down from some of the UKs Africa overlanding addicts...

Andy: I’m talking with Sarah who’s travelled up here all the way from sunny Manchester – so was it worth the trek to the Big Smoke Sarah?

Sarah: Well Andy, you know my heart truly belongs to the Mara and I’m game for the 58-day African Overlander – saving me £425

Andy: Huge saving and good choice Sarah - in fact, the reserve was our Tuesday Big Five Flash Sale Hot Spot

Andy: So you really are an addict for Africa Sarah – and how are the panic attacks these days – I guess it must have been at least three months since your last trip? That's a long time to be away from the continent if you're truly addicted?

Sarah: Well, obviously the attacks have subsided now I’m about to book – but I took your advice and I‘ve been regularly tuning into National Geographic, camping out in my living room while listening to Paul Simon & Ladysmith Black Mambazo and plugging myself into the Africa Freak. I've also been following Dan "your man in Africa," on the 43-day Kenya To Cape Town overland tour, reading his daily tweets, plus catching up with his “Around The World Travel Blog”. I have to say that’s been a real life saver.

Andy: And I guess you couldn’t resist a little window shopping at the Nomad Travel Store – as once you book with Acacia you can make savings of to 10%

Sarah: Oh, without a doubt that shopping trip certainly kept me sane

Andy: So you feel like the pressure's off now Sarah?

Sarah: Yes you could say that…err!!...

Andy: Oh wait a moment there’s been a bit of a scuffle near the brochure rack – seems like we’re running out.

Andy: Sit down mate and take it easy...there's still a few hours left to book

Andy: So guys, I’ve just been joined by Tom from Oxfordshire - that’s it deep breaths Tom. He seems to have been pipped at the post when it came to that last brochure.

Tom: No response - still breathing heavily into paper bag

Andy: So Africa is not just a passion for you it’s pretty much an obsession Tom?

Tom: Faint nods from Tom

Andy: And you’ve been like this ever since you witnessed the annual migration? It’s the Mara for you every time then?

Andy: Well, Tom’s smile says it all peeps :) I think at this point I should mention for those of you who are still not aware, including Tom, that you can grab a copy of the brochure online. I'm certain that will be good news for Africa addicts everywhere ☺

Andy: Anyway fellow Africa fans, that’s a thumbs up from Tom and don’t worry if you couldn’t join us here for the Big Five Flash Sale – you can still email us at info@acacia-africa.com or call 020 7706 4700 to book. And remember the Big Five Flash Sale closes at 5pm, so fix yourself up with a date on the African plains, go for the big one and grab that 55% deal in the Kruger.

Andy: Of course if you want to do the gap month adventure then why not try the 43-day Kenya to Cape Town and save 25%

Andy: Meanwhile, we’d be delighted to hear why Africa does it for you and do keep sending in those top tips for the ultimate safari in Africa, but for now it’s over and out…

Andy: This has been Andy, “the great outdoorsman from the Veldt" reporting to you live from Acacia’s Big Five Flash Sale Lancaster Gate, London.”

Catch up with me in Madagascar next week - one of my favourite spots in Africa - and if you want to make the most of what is known as the the eighth continent, watch out for our Madagascar Tweet up next Friday 21 August from 10 am right through to midday. Send your questions in advance to bespoke@tionlondon.co.uk or tweet us on the day at: http://twitter.com/AcaciaAfrica

Live commentary direct from the Acacia office on the Big Five Flash Sale


Don’t forget “Andy the great outdoorsman from the Veldt" will be interviewing campers outside our London office today from 12pm as part of our five hour, Big Five Flash Sale extravaganza. Your chance to hear from people who are totally mad about Africa and get a 25% discount off all out overland tours or a whopping 55% off the 6-day African Insight! Don’t miss Andy or the deal – and remember we’ll be handing out those discounts until 5pm today ☺.

"Real Wanderers On The Continent”: Every Friday…real tours and real people who are really addicted to Africa!


Name
David Milford

From
UK

Which tour and truck?
Ultimate African Overlander – Pangani Truck

Travelling with…?
My girlfriend

Travel Motto Cool bananas

Favourite place on the tour?
Uganda for the gorilla trekking and Namibia for the extreme sports

Most memorable moment on tour?
Seeing the gorillas was a once in a lifetime experience but the whole tour has provided a vast array of indescribable, brilliant memories!

What would you say to someone thinking of coming on tour?
Do it without hesitation……and I hope you get Sammy and Julius to lead you – guaranteed good times.

Where’s the next adventure?...
Australasia and North America…

Fancy plunging for our 22-day Zanzibar, Victoria Falls and Kruger? On Friday 21 August you can catch up with Kimberley Torwick from Melbourne, Australia. Camping out with the animals was a hit – what better way to get closer to the wildlife.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Get ready for tomorrow's five hour Big Five Flash Sale


It’s going to be adventures r’us tomorrow as it’s the Big Five Flash Sale.

You can also catch up with live commentary from “Andy the great outdoorsman from the Veldt,” as he’ll be camping outside the office and interviewing some of the UK’s most avid Africa addicts – hey believe us we’ve already had people making reservations for tents outside our Lancaster Gate office in London.

Our advice to email us at info@acacia-africa.com or call us on +44 20 7706 4700 tomorrow between 12 and 5pm (BST). That’s when the 55% and 25% overland discounts will kick in so get ready for the "Big One" and fix yourself up with a great deal on the continent.

Terms and conditions: Big Five Flash Sale: Friday 14 August. Discounts available: 12-5pm (BST). 55% discount on the 6-day African Insight and 25% discount available on all other overland tours. Scheduled departures up to 31 December 2009. All prices subject to availability. Discount cannot be combined with any other promotion currently being offered by Acacia Adventure Holidays. Normal local payment(s) apply, subject to normal booking conditions. Promotional Code Big5@25_Aug09


Contact Acacia Adventure Holidays on 020 7706 4700, email info@acacia-africa.com or visit Acacia Africa for further information. ATOL No. 6499 and ABTA No. W4093 PROTECTED.

Giving up: a few pounds from the travel kitty and getting into the spirit of FIFA 2010


Dear “Addicted to Africa Diary”…Our football team has been aptly titled “Girls just wanna’ have fun." Yes, I know it’s kind of cheesy, but I’ll let you into a secret, this wasn’t my suggestion :) I’m now committed to the position of striker so those early stints at university must have paid off. After scoring twice in the last session I’m now ready to put my skills to good use on the next overland tour.

We’ll be kicking off the 2010 celebrations in style and participating in some adhoc matches with the locals en route. It should be a great ice-breaker and it's all thanks to “Footballs For Fun” an organisation which is hoping to spread the word about 2010, create a sense of involvement across Africa and also contribute to various charities on the continent in one fowl swoop. You could say overlanding with Acacia now comes with a feel good factor :)

All we have to do is buy a ball at the start of the tour costing just £10 each. With 24 people overlanding together I think I can break into the kitty for that! The idea is to leave the ball behind as a gift, and knowing that my travel kitty cash is going to help some needy causes on the continent is a real buzz. Africa – here we go…

N.B. TOMORROW is the day I've been waiting for. The 14 August is the date for the Big Five Flash Sale – 12-5pm BST – must make a mental note not to forget…

Amelia Smith...

Saving up for your next Africa trip...any great ideas on how to generate more cash for Amelia's travel kitty? From the weird to the wonderful we're all ears...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A near miss for Dan in the Mara...


It’s the early bird that catches the worm on safari – follow Dan in Africa on our 43-day Kenya to Cape Town overland tour and his “Around The World Travel Blog”

Culture Vultures In Nairobi Should Head To SLAM AFRICA


If you've visited the more leftfield underground venues of Brixton in London, then there's a good chance that you've been privy to the sights and sounds of some razor sharp beatnik poets.

A close encounter with the animal kingdom is more likely to be top of your list when you visit Africa's wildlife capital, however, now you grab some culture post safari with Slam Poetry sessions being held at the Daas Restaurant in Nairobi.

If you're not familiar with this aural genre, it's a head to head battle of the poets - rather like Pop Idol, but perhaps slightly more cerebral. There's also a swifter judgment for the entrants as they have only three minutes and a 30 second grace period to grab the attention of the crowd.

An event that is certainly mixed in terms of its performances, you can usually bet on some heavy hip-hop influences, which draw on dub poetry, a little non-rhyming narrative, ironic monotone deliveries, and if you're really lucky, beat boxers, and tap dancers who choreograph their written word.

The monthly sessions, run by Buddah Blaze of Spark Africa Management are worth the short hop from central Nairobi, as they're a chance to get under the skin of the capital's buzzing cultural scene. Better still, as it's open mic - you might even be able to share the stage and perhaps recite some more personal works, inspired by your stay in Kenya.

Here’s some virtual insight on SLAM AFRICA by DJ Wave, from the hip-hop group, "The Paramedikz (19th June 2009)

“For the first time since the first ever Slam Africa event, the show featured a line up of all new spoken word artists at Daas Restaurant. Nuru Bahati, David Omwage, Wanjeri, Jemedari, Kamakani, Kennet B, Wanjiku and Tuks were all eager to impress with their first slam performances.”

“Pepe Haze, another killer band member of the Paramedikz, kicked off the event in style accompanied by defending champion SpeCfyd and winner of King of the underground 2008; Black Skillz.

Wanjeri opened the second round with a standing ovation, but it was another lady who later stole the show. Wanjiku dazzled the crowd with her piece "I am only 14". Kennet B followed her into the final round and the two waited for a breathtaking 10 minute tie-breaker between Tuks and Nuru Bahati. Cheers filled the room, as both poets prepared to battle. First up, Nuru Bahati came through with a brilliant spiritual piece – and while the crowd chanting for another tie, it wasn't to be.”

“The final round was even more intense. Tuks, having only prepared three pieces for the Slam took a moment by himself, and decided instead of backing out to freestyle his final piece. Nail biting!

The cheers grew louder as Pepe Haze read the scores out loud from the judges. "... We have a 10, a 10, a 6, another 6 and a 10! Wow! This is going to be a close one!" Then the MC reached out and grabbed the score sheet from the judges. "... And the winner is... the 8th Slam Africa champion is... hold on let me get a drink..," *takes a sip of Dasani* "All the way from Kisumu! Everyone make some noise for Kennet B!!!"

Sounds like the night was a hit – off the cuff talent from some amazing Kenyan artists! For future events you can contact Spark Africa Management at blaze@sparkafrica.com or telephone +254 721 219 564 or visit WAPI and the British Council on Facebook: WAPI (WORDS AND PICTURES). Event dates subject to change.

Acacia Adventure Holidays offers a 3-day city stays in Nairobi - so culture vultures can combine their safari with a separate adventure in Nairobi.

About the Author
DJ Wave can be contacted via the Crazy about Kenya site, which also features various tracks by the artist:

Africa Freak is back next week with some top tips on how to have the best safari. Catch up with Michael Theys on Wednesday 19 August…

Big Five Flash Sale Hot Spot “Ngorongoro Crater”:


Big Five Flash Sale Hot Spot “Ngorongoro Crater”: If you’re not looking to hedge your bets when it comes to spotting the Big Five then this is our top tip. Housing one of the largest concentrations of animals in Africa, Ngorongoro is almost unbeatable when it comes to great game viewing. There’s also cause for celebration as Tanzania is marking this month a milestone anniversary on wildlife and nature conservation, the park established half a century ago.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Big Five Flash Sale Hot Spot “Masai Mara Game Reserve”


The Big Five Sale: As an alternative to the annual migration mid October is always a good time to visit the Mara, as with zebras and wildebeest a plenty there will always be a few lions and cheetahs on the prowl. Home to all of the Big Five, the lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant, the reserve has an extraordinary density of animals including many varieties of plains game.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Big Five Flash Sale Hot Spot “Kruger National Park”


The "Battle at Kruger," the buffalo-lion-crocodile bloodbath, is one of the most popular You Tube videos of all time (http://tr.im/vIXn). The biggest wildlife bang for your buck, the Kruger is traditional Big Five territory and iconic lion country. Most of the action takes place in the early morning, late afternoon and evening, the lionesses usually initiating hunts.

Andy "the great outdoorsman from the Veldt," live and direct from South Luangwa, in Zambia


Well this week I’m out for a game drive with some wanderers on the 5-day South Luangwa Safari. So far so good, we’ve just spotted a big cat – who decided to do a little grooming right in front of our 4X4, and earlier the hippos were out grazing right next to our camp. The park’s well known for its herds of elephants so I'm pretty certain they’ll be appearing at some point.

Tonight we’ll be taking a night drive in the park - no doubt we’ll be on the look out for leopards, hyenas and lionesses out on the hunt - and who knows, maybe even a couple of foraging hippos or two.

This week’s top tip: do go bush camping beside the Luangwa River – it’s awesome 24-7 game viewing!

Friday, August 7, 2009

"Real Wanderers On The Continent”: Every Friday…real tours and real people who are really addicted to Africa!


Name

Hannah Cooke

From

Leeds UK

What tour are you on?

Truck/tour leader?

Ultimate African Overlander

Sammy and Julius on Pangani Truck

Travelling with…?

Boyfriend

Travel Motto

Cool bananas

Been to Africa before?

No

Or done any other travelling?

No – this is my first holiday of more than 2 weeks

Favourite place on the tour?

I’ve more than one - Zanzibar, with the gorilla trekking a close second! Also loved Namibia for the extreme sports in Swakopmund

Most memorable moment on tour?

Being charged by a gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda! Sandboarding in Namibia and watching the sunset over the Indian ocean in Zanzibar.

What would you say to someone thinking of coming on tour?

Be prepared to get up early and chip in!

Where’s the next adventure?...

Australia, NZ, America & Canada…….

Next up is David Milford – Hannah’s boyfriend we think it’s quite sweet that they have the same travel motto – awww… but he’ll be here to give you his perspective on the Ultimate African Overlander a 46-day trip covering, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana and South Africa. Catch up with David here on Friday 14 August.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Given up: gym membership for long walks in central London


Dear “Addicted to Africa Diary”…when my gym membership came up for renewal I had to take a long hard look at myself. Well, we all start off with good intentions, but I know over the last 12 months I’ve only managed to work out on the very rare occasion – mainly due to the guilt ridden anxiety attack that surfaces every time I read my bank statements. Then again having spoken to a few friends I know I’m not alone in this :)

Let's just say I'm not going to renew, as we housemates have decided to take long walks and see more of the UK capital instead. Being a free exercise, the travel kitty will no doubt be bulging at the sides come my next trip. After last Sunday’s expedition from Green Park through to Trafalgar Square – a two hour stint - I was raring to go. OK so the BBQ summer is out - but the weather’s been hotter than the Bahamas recently and my mind drifted back to my tour of the Bougmez Valley in the High Atlas Mountains. Of course, St. James’ Park can’t compete with one of the best-kept secrets in Morocco, where we spent four days hiking amongst high craggy peaks and grassy plateaus. Our tour group passed by nomads who were grazing their herds of sheep, goats and camels, but the main highlight had to be visiting some of the local Berber families en route – the trip topped off with a hammam in Marrakesh. Africa, I’m all yours…

Amelia Smith...

Saving up for your next Africa trip...any great ideas on how to generate more cash for Amelia's travel kitty? From the weird to the wonderful we're all ears...

Acacia's Guide to the "Big Five Flash Sale Hot Spots"...


Go overland and get ready for our “Big Five Flash Sale Hot Spots.” Our guide will feature the best places to catch these “now you see ‘em, now you don’t” mammals. The sale will run from 12-5pm (BST) on Friday 14 August. Save up to 55% on the 6-day African Insight and 25% off all other overland tours.

The six-day African Insight features game viewing and night drives in the Kruger, river cruising in the Chobe National Park and an adrenaline fuelled day at the Victoria Falls. A bite size itinerary, the tour perfect for adventurers who are looking to get a taster of the overland experience.


Only £133pp + local payment from £112pp including all tour highlights, transport, accommodation, road tolls and taxes, most meals, camping and cooking equipment, services or driver/tour leader. Excludes, visas, travel insurance, departure taxes, airport transfers and optional activities. (Full tour price excluding local payment £295pp less 55% discount of £162pp).


Terms and conditions: Scheduled departures up to 31 December 2009. All prices subject to availability. Discount cannot be combined with any other promotion currently being offered by Acacia Adventure Holidays. Normal local payment(s) apply, subject to normal booking conditions. Promotional Code Big5@25_Aug09

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Culture vultures should head to Slam Africa: DJ Wave will be giving us an insider perspective on Wednesday 12 August...


DJ Wave, a hip hop artiste from Nairobi will be opening your eyes when it comes to Slam Africa, an ideal event for culture vultures opting for add on city stays. Get with some of East Africa’s more talented beatnik poets – right here Wednesday 12 August

Where to get your visas?: Dan "Our Man In Africa," has the answers...


As a British passport holder you’ll need visas for Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia. You don’t need to apply for them by post. I was advised that it will be cheaper to wait and get them on the borders. My intial thoughts were that I didn’t want to be the one person out on tour that everyone was waiting on. Apparently most people get their visas for Tanzania and Zambia in the same way, and I can sort my Kenya visa on when I arrive at the airport in Nairobi. Follow Dan on his “Around The World Travel Blog" , check out our 43-day Kenya to Cape Town itinerary and don't forget we'll have regular travel bites coming from Dan, who will be setting off around the continent on 09 August!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hitting The Sands In Namibia - By Zhan Su...






Our Acacia Africa overland tour group met on Friday 17th October 2008 to depart the next day. "Overlanding" is basically a tour for backpackers. We travelled on a truck (NOT a bus!), which has a passenger cabin on the back, slept in tents overnight (apart from the occasional hostel dorm), which we carried in the truck, and we ate the food made by us (apart from the occasional slurp in restaurants). Our group consisted of 21 "tourists", one guide and one driver. Everyone was in their twenties and early thirties, and most appeared to be very well travelled - in fact there seemed to be a lot of "travel junkies" in our group. It was fascinating to hear their travel stories around the camp fire.

Overlanding life is very different compared to the home comforts that I enjoyed in Cape Town, but it was not as hard as I thought it would be. There's plenty of fresh food at meal times, each camp site is well equipped, some even have a pool, and I slept pretty well every night. There's something satisfying about being self-sufficient and surviving on the bare necessities. Even the bush camp, where we camped in the middle of nowhere with no showers or toilets was pretty OK (unless you had to go for a number 2).

In Swakopmund (day 7, Friday 24th), Namibia's premier beach resort, we enjoyed the luxury of hostel beds. To get here we traveled north from Cape Town, through South Africa's lush countryside. My image of Africa had been red dust and barren landscapes (like in Blood Diamond), but this was the opposite: trees, streams and mountains. However, as we got further north, the streams dried out, the vegetation thinned and the mountains disappeared to give way to grassland and eventually, by the time we got to the South Africa/Namibia border on day 2 (Sunday 19th), it was just desert.

On day 3 we passed through Orange River Canyon, the world's second biggest canyon to the Grand Canyon. The scenery was indeed fantastic, but personally having been to the Grand Canyon, that did take a little something away from it.

We then moved on to the Sossusvlei area in the middle of the Namibian desert. On the morning of day 5, we got up in the dark to catch the sunrise on Dune (number) 45. This dune is about 120 meters high in the middle of a group of dunes. At 5:30am, a long thin line of us were making our way to the top. Climbing up the dune turned out to be a slog; I thought I'd be able to run up, but after a minute it was obvious that this was a foolish idea - the sands were just too loose and left me gasping for air. I was grateful for the exercise though (we spent most of our trip sitting in the truck and the hardest thing I’d done so far was put up a tent). Dune 45 has to be one of my favourite places in the world. I love the red sands and the desolate landscape (if you ignore the other tourists) with dune after dune fading into the background, I've never seen anything like it. After Dune 45, we took a desert walk with a very knowledgeable local guide who gave us a tour of the desert and taught us all the survival tricks. Although we all enjoyed the tour I think everyone was glad when it finished at 11am. We were starting to bake under the desert sun (the sands to too hot to walk in bare feet).

The main attraction of Swakopmund appeared to be the extreme sports - so many options were open to us. I decided to throw myself out of a plane, which I was remarkably calm for - it's all 100% safe isn't it? We jumped out at 10,000 feet and the 30 seconds of freefall was the shortest 30 seconds of my life; I only wished it had lasted longer. On one side there was ocean and on the other there was desert; it was just like in Point Break! I also took on the dunes on a sandboard, which while less intense lasted a lot longer. The best thing was that falling over on the sands did not hurt and after this experience I will definitely try snowboarding in the future.


Please note: This review or any related photography must not be published without the sole permission of the author. Please contact Zhan Su


Make a date with the silverback and join Jodie Feltham on our 28-day Game Parks & Gorillas overland tour – next Tuesday 11 August

Monday, August 3, 2009

Buzz Dan, “Our man in Africa”...


Are you thinking of heading off on the 43-day Kenya to Cape Town overland tour? Is your head buzzing with questions on Africa?

Now’s your chance to buzz Dan, “Our man in Africa,” with your own personal Q&A, as he'll be travelling around the continent from 09 August.

Starting in Kenya, his journey will cover, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. Please send your questions to bespoke@tionlondon.co.uk and we’ll try our best to get an answer for you - obviously Internet connections permitting :) You can also check out Dan’s itinerary and his
“Around The World Travel Blog” online...

This week’s patter comes live and direct from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda…


"Andy, the great outdoorsman from the Veldt," here - just checking in - Kind of chilly when I woke this morning – only 15C – brrrr! Anyway we’re on our way into the park now and our guide has been keeping in touch with the trackers who were up and at ‘em way before we got here. They’ve been following the gorillas’ path after locating where they’d slept the night before. We’ve been told not to run if the silverback charges – I think the idea is to crouch down and avert your eyes. Scary thought, but wise words!

I’ve joined up with the Mountain Gorillas to the Mara overlanders and we’ve been trekking through some pretty dense vegetation. The ants can be vicious, but…OK hush, hush guys – we’re finally here and the silverbacks taking a 40 minute breather. Uh oh, he’s clocked us – but it’s only a cursory glance as he reaches up to grab his lunch off the trees – then it’s back for a nap. I guess he’s just making his presence felt.

It’s amazing to be so close to these fascinating creatures they’re literally only 10-feet away from us – saying that the Mubare group are used to these hourly visits so we’re not contemplating a ruckus. Hey wait up, what’s that?!!! No worries only a couple of the gorillas chomping on some leaves close by – phew! Awesome – 30 minutes feels more like 5 – I’ll be back…

My top tip for this week – no flash cameras and make sure you maintain at least a 7-metre distance!