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Donna Sevilla

La Jolla, California Travel Agent

African Safaris

Nothing is more wonderful than being out in nature and encountering wildlife on an African safari. I can tailor a safari to couples, families, and even multigenerational groups. Safaris used to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip, but now many clients return to Africa multiple times to explore different regions or see it from new perspectives. 

For a first time safari, I usually suggest Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa because the experiences there fit with most people’s concept of what a safari should be. There are wonderful tented camps at a wide range of budgets and levels of luxury, and visitors often will see the big five that everyone aspires to.  

A quintessential experience in Tanzania is staying in a lodge overlooking the Ngorongoro Crater, which is home to a  tremendous number of animals. I remember stopping at a pond in the crater where dozens of hippos were going in and out of the water and climbing on the rocks. And at night, the food is fantastic. Often, the lodge will serve a candle-lit dinner under the stars next to an outdoor fireplace. 

In Kenya, the hot-air balloon trips are unforgettable. You get up in the early morning, climb into the basket and watch as the balloon is inflated, and then you are skimming over treetops and valleys and looking down on the animals. You are likely to see huge herds of wildebeest, zebra, and elephants and you might spot a pride of lions. Ultimately, your balloon lands in a remote location where you are greeted champagne and seated at a gorgeous formal table to be served a magnificent champagne breakfast before returning to your lodge. 

While Southern Africa offers some unique experiences, it is deservedly known for its over-the-top lodges. There, you might stay in a 1,200 square foot suite with its own outdoor shower and a terrace that overlooks a watering hole where elephants and other wildlife come to drink.  

When it comes to safaris, Rwanda and Uganda are best known for their gorilla trekking. While there are nice lodges, the experience there is all about the trekking. Typically you go out on one trek a day and most people spend at least two days there. You will typically go out with a group of no more than eight visitors so it feels quite intimate. 

The trackers know the gorilla family groupings and which ones are used to people, but because the gorillas are always on the move, one day you might find them after an easy 45-minute hike, the next day you might trek three or four hours to reach them. Finding the gorilla family is the highlight of the day. You are limited to about an hour with them and might be seated as close as ten to 15 feet from them. The guides tell you not to reach out to them, but the little ones sometimes run up and touch you and then scurry away like little kids! Each gorilla family usually has a huge silverback male and several females along with offspring from adolescents to infants. 

I have experienced Africa in many different ways, from rustic, moveable camps where someone comes to fill your shower bucket with hot water to the kind of luxurious lodges you see in fashion magazines. Do you want to rough it or enjoy the height of luxury? What type of wildlife experience are you looking for? I can help you articulate your vision of Africa and make it a reality.

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