44 independent reviews for South Africa safari holiday, 14 days

Reviews for South Africa safari holiday, 14 days

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review 10 Jan 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

It was all so good it is difficult to single out just a few parts. We travelled with a great holiday provider and visited 4 lodges in South Africa. They were all 5 star and the friendliness of hosts and the knowledge of the guides was outstanding. I am a field biologist and was quite impressed with the guides and even drivers between lodges in their ability to identify birds on the wing, tracks, etc. Each lodge offered different opportunities to see different wildlife and the accommodations were first rate and more luxurious than I expected.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Bring as big a telephoto lens as possible and always carry your binoculars. Also bring numerous SD cards! Bugs were not a problem even though it was the hot wet season.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

We set out a camera trap to aid in ongoing research on leopards at Rukiya. We also brought as many pencils as we could find lying around the house to donate to local schools. Local people were employed at the lodges and in some cases served as expert trackers.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Among the best ever!!

review 15 Oct 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

As this was our first safari there were many, many memorable and exciting experiences and it is hard to pick on out above the others. I would say that over the 10 days we spent on safari the excitement never subsided, in part due to the excellent planning by Will and Carol which built in such a wide variation of activities, and the fact that we visited 5 different reserves that were all unique in their own way.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Carol provided invaluable information before and after booking and was very responsive to any questions we had. Having now been on the safari we found that all of the advice was spot on and nothing hadn't been thought of by Carol, so our advice would be to just take on board all of the advice!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

It was really encouraging to hear that the profits from the safari go towards the leopard conservation project which the couple run. Throughout the holiday we got the chance to understand the impact of tourism on the local people, environment and conservation efforts, and especially how Will and Carol have put a lot of thought into every aspect of the holiday to make sure it gives the biggest possible benefit to all of these issues.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

First safari so no expectations but suspect the bar has been set so high that the next trip will have to be lead by Sir David Attenborough himself to surpass it. Well chosen reserves, wonderfully curated for a unique and rewarding experience you wouldn't know you'd missed if attempting the trip by yourself or a travel agent. One can never guarantee sightings (except maybe impala) but we saw all that we hoped for and then some. The best part is witnessing natural animal behaviours - and having guides who can track, teach and look after you. Their enthusiasm was so great that one of us has become a bird watcher! As a vegetarian, definite effort was made to cater for different diets. Food was not bland and most certainly did not go hungry. Will and Carol were passionate about giving us the best trip with every detail considered. Communication was excellent from the first enquiry and throughout, leaving us feeling confident and informed. In short, a first class experience. We were looking for an Eco-friendly company, we had a wonderful time and found excellent value for money.

review 2 Aug 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

It would be impossible to pick out just one ! We had such an amazing time and saw everything we hoped to and so much more. I'm still trying to absorb all the memories and experiences weeks after returning. A male lion roaring a few feet from the game drive vehicle, a pride of lion including cubs sharing a buffalo kill, 2 male nyalas dancing, baboons early morning sunbathing, hippos bellowing in the night near our tent, African wild dogs and pups , rhino stomping past the land cruiser in the dark as we sat silently holding our breath, a herd of buffalo at a waterhole and aardvark, yes aardvark !!! Zebra, giraffe, elephants pulling up trees... I could write a book ! The many other animals , beautiful (and ugly) birds and insects we saw also were lovely and interesting to see - they are all part of the bigger picture. Warthogs were surprisingly entertaining !! The friendliness of the hosts and quality of all the lodges - food and accommodation - also deserves a mention. On Track safaris gave us a superb itinerary and varied experience.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Book it and go !! We were slightly nervous first time travellers to South Africa and had a fabulous time. We felt welcomed and safe everywhere we went. The 14 day safari was perfect for us, the operator put a lot of thought into their itineraries and it all worked very well. They are open to any suggestions clients may make and I'm pretty sure we will return. If travelling in winter take warm clothes for morning and evening. We went late June/July and didn't see a single mosquito never mind get bitten ! Also don't take too much, you really won't need anything too smart.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

The holiday definitely supports some local people providing employment in the lodges we stayed in. Also as safari guides and trackers. All the lodges provided eco friendly products in the bathrooms and we could see some waste was re cycled. The operator is run for the purpose of raising funds to support leopard research, they also help local children learn about conservation. All the guides and hosts we met were very informed and concerned about conservation issues.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Fantastic ! We couldn't have planned anything better ourselves and it was lovely to have everything taken care of by people who really know what they are doing. Reborn is a bit of a strange term to apply to a holiday experience but our first South African Safari is definitely up there with our best holidays and certainly surprised us with what we could see and the quality of accommodation available -the fact we would like to repeat the experience in the future should speak for itself - we don't normally revisit places but on Safari the animals play the starring role and every game drive offers a different experience.

review 7 May 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

There were too many wonderful moments to recall them all. Our guides and game drives were superb, and we saw many birds and animals, including the 'big five', up close. We received a good introduction to the bush, and enjoyed a sensory exercise, setting up camera traps, and the educational aspects of our initial safari outings. We stayed at some excellent lodges, and the team from the holiday providers were on hand to help us out and make our holiday extra special. One of the top moments, however, was an impromptu game walk while based at Rukiya Safari Camp, in which we approached a small pride of lions on foot, after our guide tracked down a kill during a game drive. An experience like that provides a new and intensely emotional perspective of life in the bush.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be open to the experience and go for it! The management of our whole safari, encompassing a range of different types of lodges, from rustic to luxury, as well as plentiful game drives, game walks, and other excursions, was totally on point. From the moment we were picked up at our airport hotel in Johannesburg, we were made to feel like part of the family, and we were given star treatment all the way through. We booked and enjoyed the standard itinerary recommended by the holiday provider, but the company is also receptive to individual wishes, so don't be afraid to ask. Furthermore, while nature is obviously unpredictable, by following our guides' recommendations, we saw some amazing sights: lion cubs playing in the sun; jackals and hyenas on the hunt at night; a huge herd of buffalo arriving at a watering hole at sunset; and much, much more.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Absolutely yes. The responsible, sustainable ethos of the company is clear. We had the chance to spend time with people working on the company's trademark leopard project, so we found out more about that, and we visited a local wildlife rehabilitation centre. We also learned about various initiatives linked to the leopard project that benefit the wider community in the area. All the lodges where we stayed were modest in size, so as well as receiving personal treatment, we could see how the environmental impact was managed and we could talk to the owners/managers about their aims in this regard.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent, without question. The entire holiday exceeded our expectations. We saw much more wildlife than we imagined, and we experienced the bush in a direct, personal way. The accommodation, food, hospitality, guides, and attention to detail were all superb. We would recommend this holiday without hesitation, and we would be eager to go back for more!

review 13 Oct 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The fact that we were able to get so close to the animals since they had never been traumatised by humans and thus were not concerned by our presence. Also the choice of the lodges and their locations were impressive and totally " out of Africa!"

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

If you are looking for a first class small group safari experience which has the added benefits of a more hands approach to the wild life and conservation, culture, and people of South Africa and all at a reasonable cost, this is the ideal package. It is well organised and one feels totally safe and cared for and part of " the family".

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Absolutely - the Leopard research project which they have set up and through this their improved contact with the local farmers and practical support of local schools to encourage a more tolerant and enlightened approach to the leopard is gradually changing attitudes -also the choice of eco-lodges and small private reserves in the Greater Kruger means local people are finding employment plus local businesses are also feeling some benefit.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

An amazing experience in all respects and one which I will definitely repeat

review 24 Jun 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Of course, viewing the animal life and the plant life was our main reason for going, but we came away with so much more. The construction of the itinerary was such that our knowledge of animals and plants was built upon throughout. The personalization of the experience through our relationship with various guides (shout out especially to Becky with the holiday provider) made the experience intensely meaningful.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

For us first-time safaris goers, the "smorgasbord" approach--having travellers "sample" various safari experiences over fourteen days--was perfect. But if you've been on safari before or simply feel you want to concentrate your energies more on one place or type of safari, do feel free to correspond with organizers to make an itinerary fits your needs/wishes. The program is flexible!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

The operator teaches issues pertaining to environment and wildlife conservation. They use some of their profits to benefit not only conservation of animals but, for example, to build and sustain schools for the local children. We learned on the safari about how animal and plant life are interdependent; one can say that by fusing tourism and ecological practices, this project puts this lesson to work. The result is that you can have adventure of a lifetime, which is what it was for us, and still feel one is contributing to the planet!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Five stars! It was, as stated, the adventure of a lifetime, which we were expecting, but we did not plan to gain so much more, in the way of making friends and feeling a part of missions that transcended mere tourism.

review 11 Dec 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

For me is was a great encounter with bush baby jumping around on the track and in the bushes. For my husband it was the lions making a buffalo kill right in front of our jeep. For both of us it was seeing the white lions at Umlani.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Tour provided a varied itinerary and was designed to start off slow and build towards the end, which is what you need when you have just got off an overnight flight from the UK feeling a little jaded.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

At the lodges where we stayed local people were employed in a variety of roles. The lodges provided biodegradable bathroom products, had solar power and sourced products locally, which all help to reduce environmental impact. The tour company uses the profits from the tours to support conservation projects and Black leopard camp, where we stayed, is involved in leopard conservation. The tour also included a trip to Maholoholo, which provide care and rehabilitation for injured animals.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent. The holiday was informative and great fun.

review 15 Aug 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

It's hard to pick out just one. We had so many memorable experiences. Watching a beautiful leopard and her cub was up there, as was spending an hour watching six young elephants play in a waterhole.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

If you go in the SA winter, bring warm clothes. It gets very cold at night in the mountains. We had appropriate clothing but some other guests didn't.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes. All of the above.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

It was fantastic!! No complaints at all. Great people, well organized and never dull.

review 1 Oct 2014

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Seeing the animals in their natural habitat.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

it is hectic! a lot of travelling involved, get good boots and a hat!!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

10/10 it was amazing. We were so well looked after and treated as part of the family at our main resort. it was very hectic as we stayed at 6 locations so it involved a lot of travelling. but now we are back, we realise how much we packed in and how much we saw. it was a trip of a lifetime for us, so we really appreciate all the things we gained from our trip and are now saving hard to go again!!

review 16 Sep 2014

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Seing all those lovely animals in beautiful surroundings.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Bring warm clothes for morning and late afternoon drives also suntanlotion and sun hat. Do not forget binoculars and photographic equipment

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Purchases and eating in local restaurants benefit local people. Reducing water consumption and using oil lanterns and solar energy help reduce environmental impact. Black Leopard Camp was chosen because they are conservation oriented.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

For a first safari for my daughter and I, this was a terrific experience. Good weather, delicious and varied cooking, confortable accommodations and experienced, diplomatic and knowledgeable guides made our safari something to remember and talk about

review 26 Jun 2014

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

There were so many memorable and exciting parts of the holiday but I think I was most excited when we finally spotted the giraffes (that had been hiding) at Black Leopard Camp.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

If you go in May take warm clothes and layer! Take the time to just sit and listen to the sounds of nature and enjoy the views, take in all the information that the guides give you.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

The "lodges" we stayed at often used solar power as their main source of power and very little electricity. Cooking was often done over an open fire as well to save energy. All the reserves promote wildlife conservation.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

This was a fantastic, very well organized holiday. There was always a lot going on but we saw a lot and learned a lot. All the guides and hosts at the lodges were very knowledgable and passionate about the wildlife and very open to sharing their knowledge and experiences with all of us.

review 19 Apr 2014

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

It was an amazing experience! Thank to all the staff , the guides and everybody else we had a full, safe contact with the animals in a completely wild environment. My kids came back happy and full of enthusiasm, and they actually learnt a lot, I have now two young wildlife experts!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Don't pack too much, plenty of time to wash everything!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

It's a great experience because we felt part of a project from the first day. Everybody gave us the chance to get involved and understand the job done with the local school, and the information regarding the scientific programme on leopards was great. Thanks!!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

We loved every single moment! Thanks, Becky, Rudy, Alan, Will, Carol.. And of course everybody else! See you soon! Pao, Oli, and Gaia

review 25 Sep 2014

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

A couple of the animal reserves allowed drivers to drive off-road, and this made for some very exciting, up-close viewing of some animals (leopards, hyenas, elephants, and lions) that would not have been possible otherwise.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

When you see the words "big game viewing" you should expect to see all ranges of animals to include the Big 5. When you see the words "game drive" you should know that the kinds and numbers of animals will be greatly limited. For example, Black Leopard Camp has 4 "resident" leopards in this mountainous area, but they are rarely seen, and there are no other big 5 animals there. The animals reserves are extremely dense with thick bush, especially thorny bushes, often making it difficult to see much beyond the main road. When you drive off-road, make sure you watch out for thorny branches lashing you in the open game driving vehicle. These lodges serve meals that are heavily focused on meat.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


review 13 Oct 2013

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

There was so much that was exciting and memorable so it's difficult to focus on one or two. Starting and ending at Black Leopard Camp was brilliant. The hospitality, enthusiasm,and accommodation could not be faulted. An amazing introduction. Later in the trip, at Tangala, the excitement of driving off-road at speed to get to a leopard sighting; seeing lions finishing off a giraffe that they had brought down yards from the camp the previous night as well as just driving slowly through the bush not knowing what was round the next bend. Overall, there was a great sense of being privileged to be among the animals in their natural environment.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Go on every possible game drive. Every one of them was special in some way, and if we had missed a single drive, we probably would have regretted it when speaking to others on their return. As first time safari goers we didn't want to go with a check list of what we wanted to see. We just went to see whatever Africa had to offer. We were not disappointed!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

All accommodation was very sensitive to the needs of the local environment. This added greatly to the holiday. A local school and a leopard conservation project benefited financially from profits made by the tour organisers.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent. The planning and execution of the entire holiday was superb. Everybody involved helped to make this a most memorable experience and we were extremely well looked after at all times.

review 10 Aug 2013

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

There were many memorable moments on this holiday, lying in the tent listening to a lion roar at fairly close quarters, amazing game drives with so many different animals and birds to see and to learn about from friendly, knowledgable and informative guides. Some of the highlights included sitting quietly in the middle of an elephant herd, watching a family of lions with cubs playing, tracking a black rhino "off road", the excitement of seeing our first leopard with her cub nearby. But this safari was about much more than ticking off the Big Five, we learned about the aims of a leopard conservation project and issues facing these beautiful animals outside protected reserves, visited a local school sponsored by the company and enjoyed wonderful hospitality and food at each of the camps. We added a 2 night stay to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, the Falls are truly awe-inspiring.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

This is a holiday that goes beyond eat, sleep and game drive and is perfect for those who want to really understand the delicate balance of the ecosystems in the high and low veld of South Africa and the issues facing the animals and people who live there. If you travel in winter take lots of layers, it gets very cold when the sun goes down - the hot water bottles put in the beds are essential!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

All of the camps/lodges on the safari part of the holiday tried to reduce environmental impact through conservation of resources such as water, electricity. Black Leopard Camp is the base for the Ingwe Leopard Research and Conservation project. The operator supports this project and also a local school.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

This was a fabulous holiday which exceeded all our (high) expectations. From the time we expressed an interest in going on this safari, to dropping us at the airport at the end of our holiday we experienced a very attentive and personal service. I would definitely go again.

review 31 Jul 2013

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Each day brought something different during our stay at and as such it would be difficult to pick out one particular thing. Some of our more memorable moments have to be during game drives, both informative and humorous, across the Thaba Tholo reserve where surrounding views in this mountainous region are truly stunning. Two magical days spent in Tangala reserve, where the intimacy of the bush experience was second to none due to location and game viewing, has to be one of the highlights of the trip.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

If you are looking for a holiday where you are keen to learn more about the environment you are visiting, where you have the possibility of becoming involved in conservation or community projects, then a safari with this company will certainly cater for your interests, as we discovered.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

We felt that important conservation in the study of predators was being supported in every way in the Ingwe(Leopard)and PAW initiatives, with holidaymakers being offered opportunities to participate in conservation practices or contribute in their own way. We were also introduced to the local school where benefits for the community and its wildlife are being developed through a conservation awareness programme in favour of the protection of the wildlife initiative. The camp itself is eco- friendly and is run on this ethos with visitors very much encouraged to respect and uphold their practices.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

This was a great holiday in the true sense of the word and we would have no hesitation in recommending it to any like-minded traveller. The geniality and hospitality of all staff concerned in the various reserves were truly exceptional.

review 25 Jul 2013

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Our day trip through Kruger, during which we had so many memorable sightings, especially when the 3 cheetahs strolled around the back of our car and then sat under a tree while we observed them for 10 minutes or so!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

If going during the winter season, plenty of layers are required for evening/ morning wear - before the sun gets up. Otherwise, simply enjoy - it is a sensational trip!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, all of the above.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

The best holiday we have had - 10/10!

review 28 Jun 2013

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Every safari drive was exciting ( anticipating what you might see ). Our best sighting was being present at a Leopard kill.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Do it - you will be visiting wonderful places and seeing amazing things. Be aware you will be sitting in vehicles and eating great food so you might put on weight.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, the operator channel any profits to a Leopard research project and have funded the building of some new local school buildings.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Brilliant, one of our best holidays ever. The staff at Black Leopard Camp were very friendly and made you feel like one of the family. Will Fox who took us everywhere was very knowledgeable and passionate and the places he took us were all fantastic.

review 18 Mar 2013

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

It is very difficult to list just one memorable experience. Though we saw a vast array of wildlife including some special leopard sightings, the chance to observe animal behaviour and learn some tracking skills made us appreciate the overall experience much more. Black Leopard Camp and Tangala Camp are superb, the hospitality is outstanding. The On Track Safari guides and representatives are a font of knowledge and never failed to keep us informed and interested during our travels.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Dont be concerned if you don’t see the Big 5 straight away, there are so many other animals and creatures out there that will enthrall you. Don’t forget a torch. Don’t expect to stay on your diet, the food is superb and plentiful. Get involved in the experience and ask the guides as many questions as possible. You will take a lot of photographs, it is worth investing in a spare battery for the camera. Recharging facilities at Tangala are limited.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

We booked this holiday as the organisers champion the conservation message. We were not disappointed as we experienced the research and conservation projects that any profits go towards. Those camps that did have power appeared to use it sparingly and be as environmentally friendly as possible. He company seem to go out of their way to only use the most eco-friendly camps in the area. I will never drive through a pile of dung again after we were shown the impact of this on the mass of creatures that rely on it for their survival.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent, none of the accommodation is 5 star hotel like but the experience is all the better for it. Each place has its own special qualities which made them 5 star in our eyes. It is apparent that the company care about Africa and they make sure that you have the best experience you can in the relatively short time you are with them. Can’t recommend the holiday enough, we will be back.

review 26 Oct 2013

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Seeing the wild animals and birds of South Africa in their natural habitat and the spectacular scenery and views as we travelled around.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Make sure you take warm clothing at this time of year (Sept/Oct) as well as light clothing for warm days. Be prepared to spend the majority of your time in a jeep. There is very limited opportunity for walking.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

The Black leopard Camp definitely supported conservation. Not sure about the other more commercial reserves. We were very conscious of our impact on the environment and were encouraged, quite rightly, to conserve energy wherever we went and reduce our impact on the environment. Not sure if our trip benefitted any of the local people.The camps are staffed by local people and we did visit a school which benefitted from funds from Back Leopard Camp, but the holiday itself did not appear to directly benefit the community.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

This was a very interesting introduction to safaris in South Africa. I gained knowledge and understanding of the significance of game reserves and saw some amazing creatures and plants.

Read the operator's response here:

Our holidays have been created to support our work in conservation and community education. Although Black Leopard Camp is our safari base it is funds raised from the holiday overall that are enabling our non profit initiatives, in all the areas we visit on safari.

review 8 Oct 2012

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

So many fantastic memories -being very close to animals in the wild including lions, cheetahs, elephants rhino buffalo wild dogs. staying in camps/lodges with no barriers and listening to the noises of the bush the variety of habitat in the high and low veldt

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Go with it and make the most of all the experiences

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

yes definitely - as well as supporting local employment we stayed in accomodation that minimised environmental impact by using solar power the holiday also directly benefitted the ingwe leopard project and supported a local school

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Outstanding - more than exceeded our expectations in terms of experiences, standard of accomodation and hospitality

review 21 Aug 2012

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The operator gave us such an amazing holiday with so many memorable parts it is hard to know where to start. Sitting in a land rover with a large herd of elephants walking calmly and peacefully past us so close that you could hear and feel the matriach's rumbling sounds of communication to the rest of the herd must class as one of the best. What made the trip so special is that we were able to spend time sitting close to many types of animals and birds just observing them and being given information by our very knowledgeable guides which really helped us understand the behaviour of the animals. It was not just a 'ticking the Big 5 box' exercise which made the experience so much more valuable for us. Being able to spend some time learning more about the work of the Ingwe leopard research project and taking a cast of a leopard spoor was also very exciting.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Go with an open mind and be prepared to enjoy the whole experience as much as possible and find out as much as you can. If you go in winter (July/August) take lots of warm clothing for the early morning and evening game drives!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

The holiday has a very clear aim of supporting the work of the Ingwe Leopard research project and the places you stay are clearly very environmentally friendly. We also visited the local school supported by the operator.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

I cannot recommend the holiday highly enough for someone who wants to experience the African bush and wants to understand more about the real issues involved in wildlife conservation at the same time as having an enjoyable time.

review 8 Oct 2012

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Visiting Tangala lodge in the Thorny Bush reserve and seeing the wild dogs.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take small gifts for the local school. Prepare for bumpy journeys on the landrover at Black Leopard Camp.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

This holiday definitely supported conservation. It also benefitted the local people.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

A wonderful experience.

review 8 Oct 2012

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Returning from our evening game drive to Tangala safari camp to see the camp lit by lanterns (the camp is quite magical and unspoilt); watching a lioness walk along side our 4X4; watching rhinos enjoying a mud bath; feeling like we were part of the family at Black Leopard camp.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Black Leopard camp (at 1500m) is malaria free so you only need prophylactics when you are in the low veldt.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes - we visited a local first school and learnt about the challenges facing the school and the pupils, and we spent time at the Leopard conservation research centre at Thaba Tholo learning about the work they do and why Leopards are at risk.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent. This is a really good holiday for anyone looking for an immersive wildlife safari experience with a very personal touch - you don't feel like you're on a conveyor belt.

review 29 Mar 2012

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

It would be difficult to pick out one highlight. The whole experience was a very good one, from seeing the big 5 (many times over) and so being able to tick that box, from getting to appreciate all the other animals, birds, reptiles and insects, and, more importantly, to seeing Southern Africa as much more than a large animal park.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Read and digest the advice provided by Carol and the team before arriving. Some specifics - have a good camera with a 300mm lens or longer (a DSLR is ideal). Good binoculars - the birds are really interesting. Other than that be prepared to have fun.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

With the tour operator, yes, as the raison d'etre behind the operator and their choice of camps is to do all of the above - both educating the guests and from the money the travellers have paid for the safari, helping the operator with their work with local schools, leopard research and general conservation.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

This is a great holiday, both for first time safari guests, and, because it is tailor able, to old safari hands. The guides at the various camps, and Anton from the tour company, were extremely knowledgeable on all things related to the animal, birds, reptiles and insects of Africa. And a special thanks to Mike and Karen of Black Leopard Camp. It is a great place to start and finish the safari/Africa experience.

review 19 Feb 2011

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The frenzied muddy drive in search of a lion in Sabi Sands (Umkumbe lodge) after heavy rains and in the lavish green grass of app. 1m high. Following the leopard going through the thick reeds of the dried riverbed at midday few minutes before our departure from the Umkumbe lodge. Seeing the "dancing" dominant rhino male at 3 m in front of our Landover trying to defend "his territory" from us, strangers….Being in the very middle of the 400 buffalos’ herd moving to another grazing field. Staring at the young leopard male sitting quietly as a cat at the tree's fork. (We had been tracking him for 8 days of our stay at the Black Leopard Camp and saw only after checking out from the camp). The vultures at Moholoholo, especially the ever annoyed hooligan. Moholoholo in general: very educative visit thanks to the passionate Brian's presentation; the wild African dogs and hyenas were very impressive; the cute black rhino calf who lost his mom (still fed on cow's milk) was very playful - we could touch him. Two gracious cheetah males crossing the tar road and resting by the side in the early morning in the Kruger Park. Heart-rending picture of the young giraffe female mourning for 2 days its stillborn baby until leopards came and eat it away. Caressing the awesome black mamba female at the Reptile Training facility in Lydenburg after a comprehensive introduction into the snakes' world by Neels Bothma. Smells & sounds of the early morning (5am) bush in the mountains where the Black Leopard Camp is situated. Murmur of the stream accompanying our soundest sleep at the luxury Swazi tent on the most widest and comfortable bed we have ever slept. (BLC)

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Best suited for the very first-time safari goers. RSA has perfect travel infrastructure and this package in particular seemed for us more predictable than going the very first time on safari in Tanzania, Zambia or Botswana. Bring the best binoculars and photo gear you can afford, spare camera body is a must. You will definitely see many antelopes, and in Black Leopard camp you may see Oryx antelopes which are not typical for this part of RSA. Do not think that you will spot predators easily - we had spent a lot of travel time to see predators and our efforts were finally rewarded. Never miss the early morning drive and be ready to any surprise every minute, even at the very last minute. We met the leopards twice after check out from two different lodges (once in Umkumbe 5 min before carrying suitcases to our car and second time 15 min after leaving Black Leopard camp). Luxury lodges are agreeable to stay at, though there you will be deprived of many basic and fascinating things the wild nature offers. (Small Umkumbe lodge at Sabi Sands excels big and luxury Shiduli lodge in many aspects). Getting suntanned is South Africa is quite risky, better be fully covered all the time.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

At the Black Leopard Camp we were able to live the very basic life in luxury tents and in the beautiful nature - with solar power supply and ecology friendly water treatment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Splendid! The most unforgettable so far. Ignited the ardent desire to visit Botswana and Namibia next time. Would recommend to anyone willing to be plunged into the world of beauty and harmony unspoiled by man.

review 9 Nov 2011

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Difficult to say as we enjoyed every minute of it. This is the first time we used this safari company, but it won't be the last. This trip felt less like a holiday through an organised tour operator and more like visiting old friends. From the moment we arrived, we felt like part of the team and nothing was too much trouble. Black Leopard camp with its stunning, tranquil location and beautifully appointed tents was very special and here we were looked after by Emma and the Ingwe Leopard Research team. We were able to join the research team tracking leopards and other animals, setting up camera traps and taking casts of animal prints - this was both educational and a lot of fun. From then on we were looked after by our fabulous guide Anton who took us on a very memorable safari. Anton's knowledge and affinity with the wildlife combined with his infectious enthusiasm and good company made our trip all the more enjoyable. Anton was able to call birds and other wildlife in, so that at some points we were just feet away and his ability to identify and interpret animal sounds added a different dimension to the safari. Whilst this was our third African safari and we have been lucky enough to see the big 5 on each of our trips, this was certainly our most intense game viewing experience. On one occasion we followed a male leopard for over 3 hours into the night. Watching him stalk his prey, make a kill only then to lose it to a hyena really gave us an insight into the natural world in all its glory and no wildlife documentary can begin to come close to this experience. Anton made sure we were in the right place at the right time. Another highlight was visiting the local school. To see what a great job the teachers do with such limited resources and to see first hand the benefits the school have received through their association with the safari company was rewarding. Since our return we have been fund raising to help support the school projects and we strongly recommend you build this visit into any trip. We also thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Moholoholo Rehab Centre where once again Anton was able to sneak us in for a behind the scenes tour, which enabled us to get up very close and personal with a number of big cats, a baby rhino and many more besides. We could talk about this trip all day - best you get yourselves out there quick!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Go with the flow, drink up the experience and all that Africa has to offer. Don't miss out on a trip to the local school. Try to build in a stay at Black Leopard Camp.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, most definitely. Black Leopard Camp is totally eco-friendly and blends in perfectly with the landscape. The staff working at the camp were all very friendly and nothing was too much trouble. The other camps we stayed at were also staffed by local people, they were all more about the experience and less about the 'glitz'. The support the safari company provides to local schools and conservation projects means that as a guest you are also able to contribute.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Unforgettable! We loved every minute of it and cannot recommend it enough. Now just have to save our pennies for the next trip......

review 29 Oct 2011

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

This has to be the most amazing wildlife viewing.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Trust the operator with your itinerary - it was perfect.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Absolutely.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

review 27 Oct 2011

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Black Leopard Camp is so different and a good quality experience. Seeing the big 5 on one morning on safari was a very good extra with a good guide Anton . Nothing is too much trouble. The school visit was very good.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

What you see is what you get. No need to dress up for this holiday. Take some pens for the school.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

We have been to South Africa 5 times. This was the best as we got close to the people and the country side.

review 22 Jan 2011

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The whole black leopard camp experience accommodation food and hosting were all top class, seeing rhino in the wild in Sabi was wonderful, the guide Anton a pleasure to spend time with, seeing two leopards on our last day at both Sabi and black leopard camps, the fantastic birdlife throughout the trip.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Don’t go expecting masses of big 5 game at black leopard but with patience and allowing the guide to do his job there’s plenty to see. Just relax and let the various people look after you you’ll have a great time.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes. Get out at the towns and markets along the way its perfectly safe go in the local shops.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Wonderful saw some great sights, first class accom at black leopard, great company along the way.

review 10 Aug 2010

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The entire safari experience; seeing four of the big five in Krueger National Park; following a young mail leopard off-road for one hour in Sabi Sands; trailing a pack of Hyenas through the night; seeing young bull elephants testing their fighting skills; gentle daily bush-walks to watch birds and track wildlife; staring in wonder at the millions of stars in the night sky; getting to know the staff at On Track Safaris

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Bring the best possible camera you can. Don't forget binoculars. Bring a torch with spare batteries (it gets very dark at night). Don't expect a lie-in; to get the most out of this holiday you need to be up early for the morning game drives and go to bed late after the night game-drives

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Paperbark Retreat offers an eco-friendly stay. Electricity is from solar panels and is available in the main-lodge during daylight hours. Water is direct from the local river. On Track Safaris is the home of the Ingwe Leopard Project and is a strong advocate of animal conservation activities. In addition to their excellent conservancy work they also support the education and development of local school children.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

An excellent safari experience

review 14 Oct 2010

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

I would highly recommend this safari. The organizers, Carol and Will, are genial and helpful, and Anton is a wonderful guide (as is Harry - I’m not sure how to spell his name). (Anton is also quite an artist!) Anton was able to call various birds and other wildlife, and even get them to approach us. In addition, he could interpret the various calls we were hearing. His own genuine enthusiasm for both the flora and fauna were quite inspiring, too. I’m sure that contributed to me seeing all the creatures I was interested in (though, apparently, it is also partly a question of luck- you can never count on seeing particular animals). I saw a leopard (which we tracked for about 45 minutes -what an impressive creature!), elephants (including a three year old elephant that we were only about five feet away from, that we watched for at least half an hour), lions in a pride (then later, a lone female), and countless giraffes, antelope, zebras, baboons, other monkeys, an ostrich, wildebeest, etc., etc., as well as various beautiful, brightly coloured birds. (The beecatchers, kingfishers and lilac-crested rollers were particularly memorable.) We had a fascinating visit to a local (black, rural) school, connected to the tour operator, where we had a long chat with the headmistress, and visited a number of classrooms. The kids were so lively and adorable- it was terrible to think of all the opportunities such children would not have (coming mostly from families of poor, illiterate farm workers). I also met a lot of very interesting people from England and Hong Kong, etc. And it was lovely to round out the day sitting by the fire with a glass of wine in good company.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

I was there in the South African winter. For that time of year, I would suggest you bring warm clothes - especially for the evening safari drives in an open vehicle, and be prepared for the fact that, even inside, rooms can be quite chilly. The vegetation is rather scarce at that time of year but there is still a rather stark beauty to it. It’s also probably easier to spot the wildlife than in the summer when the vegetation is thicker.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

The holiday was very environmentally friendly. I would have enjoyed more contact with local people but we WERE in the bush and rather isolated (which was also part of what made it special).

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

I felt this safari was really an eye-opening experience, which is, after all, what travel should be all about. Again (with the proviso that it might not be for everyone- in particular, young children or those lacking the patience to sit still watching a particular animal for 45 minutes…), I would strongly recommend such a holiday!

review 11 Oct 2010

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Dozing alongside a snoring lion in the open under a starry sky; having a cast of the paw-print of a leopard that had just walked past us, during the "safari" part of the holiday; walking with cheetahs; seeing 5 white rhino at night. Learning about various aspects of wildlife and conservation was far more in-depth than other safari trips we've done.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be aware that the camp was not built as a commercial camp but is a private holiday home. There was no electricity at all after dark when we were there, so only paraffin lamps for reading though this may not be the norm. It is extremely peaceful, and does not have a lot of large game close by but is excellent for birds and antelope etc. Black Leopard Camp is very stylish and comfortable, and has more game (but be aware it does not have "Big 5" animals).

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes - we were able to visit a village school and took some stationery, pens, and books for "achievers" prizes which were warmly welcomed.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Most enjoyable and educational!

review 1 Dec 2009

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The whole safari experience was truly memorable, particularly given the expert guidance provided throughout by the very experienced and knowledgeable Gerrie Comacho. Two particular highlights had to be the sighting of a pack of Wild Dogs with a fresh kill only a few yards from our vehicle and then two mating leopards encountered later that same day - again only yards from us. The two night stay at UmKumbe lodge was for us a terrific experience. The owners describe it as 'rustic'; do not expect the luxury of most game lodges, but do expect to feel very close to the bush and the surrounding wildlife. Other highlights were the opportunity to visit a local school sponsored by the project and to take part in the release of a pair of Honey Badgers after their relocation from where they had been causing problems to farmers. You would not experience either of these things on an ordinary holiday.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be prepared for anything - as our highlights indicate we saw and did things that were totally unexpected. Paperbark is a wonderful retreat and is very remote. The accommodation is very comfortable - but note there is no electricity to speak of - bring a good torch! If you have an interest in flora and fauna of all sorts this holiday will suit you perfectly. We were as captivated by insights into birds, insect life and plants as much as we were by the excitement of the traditional big five on safari

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

By taking a holiday at Paperbark you will be making a contribution to valuable conservation work on Leopards, which remain badly persecuted, as well as other species.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

A marvellous, educational experience. We now want to plan how we can return.

review 16 Aug 2009

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

This was our third holiday in South Africa and our fifth safari experience in Africa, but it was the differences from the normal safari experiences that made it so memorable. Paperbark was a most beautiful and peaceful place to stay and yet there was still lots happening to become involved in. Will and Carol were great hosts who made us feel more like friends than visitors. Vinolia with her lovely smiling face was a delight. Anton was a great guide - very knowledgeable and great fun, and riding on the tracker seat was a first! Our 6 days spent with Gerrie Camacho were amazing and a real privilege. We have never met anyone with so much knowledge; not just about wildlife, but geology, soil, flora etc. He was willing to provide exactly the experience we wanted and we will never forget sitting on the safari vehicle at one o'clock in the morning under a full moon just listening to the sounds of the bush. ("People make noise, nature makes sounds," was one of the things he said to us. How true.) We spent 3 days at Umkumbe bush camp where the hosts Herman and Celeste once again made us feel part of the family. It was totally relaxing and real fun. In fact laughter was a thread running through the whole holiday. Probably the single most memorable part of the holiday must be when were back at Paperbark and went with Will, Anton and Gerrie to move a leopard caught in a cage trap to Moholoholo rehabilitation centre. That gave us a real insight into the work of the Ingwe Leopard Project.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Book it! But don't expect a normal safari experience. Whilst at Paperbark you just go with the flow depending on what work is being done at the time. It's also much colder at night there than when you go into Kruger. This holiday is more about observing and gaining an insight into animal behaviour than 'ticking off' the Big Five. In other words it's real!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Definitely. Will and Carol are creating opportunities for local people to take on increasing responsibilities in the running of Paperbark. The project supports a local school. The conservation and research work is fundamental to the whole experience. Paperbark strives to be as eco-friendly as possible through solar power, local produce etc

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Fantastic! So many new experiences even for seasoned safari-goers.

review 1 Mar 2009

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Impossible to select one experience – hospitality and expertise from hosts and guides who became friends and enhanced all other aspects of the holiday. We saw, heard and learnt about an enormous variety of insects, birds, herbivores and carnivores including the ‘big five’, as well as vultures and eagles, spiders and butterflies. We tried our hand at ‘camera-trapping, went on game drives and bush walks with guides who shared their enthusiasm and knowledge with us. They identified, explained and interpreted what we saw.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Lots of flexibility in the trip, choices offered to guests, all opportunities to see/hear wildlife should be taken. The trip is excellent for those who want to understand the interdependence of environment and wildlife - from geology to climate, from insects to large predators. Be prepared for early starts and late nights to get the best from the safari – the bush is most alive before the heat of the day and at night.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes – local people employed and good relationships established with them; Paperbark Bush Retreat is nearly carbon neutral, food sourced locally. Ticked all the ‘responsible traveller’ boxes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Fantastic – great people, landscapes, wildlife and learnt so much about the places we visited and the history of this part of South Africa.

review 14 Feb 2009

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Impossible to pick one single memory, but tracking a Leopard for 2 hours at night, watching dwarf mongoose playing for an hour, seeing two male giraffe fighting for the rights to a female, walking in such a pristine environment (Paperbark bush retreat area) where butterfly, dragonfly and all kinds of birdlife seem to fill the air, watching wild dogs (an endangered species) were a few. Overall the one thing that made the holiday so special however, was the dedication and extraordinary knowledge of the people leading the trip.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

If you want the wildlife experience of a lifetime go on this trip!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Most definitely, local people were employed in all aspects of the trip (guides, service aspects, accommodation etc.). The minimisation of the impact on the environment was integral to the trip.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Absolutely unbeatable. Please note, this review is from a person who does not give praise lightly and was slightly wary about the trip initially when booking it.

review 11 Feb 2009

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Seeing the animals in their environment. I don't think I'll ever be able to go to a zoo again!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Nothing out of the ordinary... you'll be outside a lot so bring appropriate clothing, a hat, and sunscreen. Binoculars are a must!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, for the most part. You can't get around the fact that you're driving around and therefore using petrol and emitting carbon fumes. But other than that, I think it was eco-friendly and locals benefited at the lodges, shops and where we went to get souvenirs.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

It was excellent... exactly what I wanted and hoped it would be! It was perhaps the best holiday I've ever had - the accommodation was lovely, food delicious, company interesting and like-minded, landscape beautiful, and animals amazing. If I never go on another safari I won't feel as though I've missed out on anything.

review 16 Dec 2009

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Our game drives at Umkumbe lodge in Sabi Sands. Tracking and finding leopards (twice!) with Gerrie our guide was incredibly exciting and rewarding.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Summer rains (Nov/Dec) mean that there's plenty of water which make the bush lovely to look at but be prepared to drive a bit more to find the animals since they'll be spread out. Go on all the drives even if you're a bit tired, you never know what you'll encounter. Especially the late evening/night drives can be very exciting, the starts come out and the air is lovely and cool. Bring a book or two to just sit and relax in the afternoons and listen to the birds.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, we had two lovely local ladies making our meals and two Afrikaans guides which was a bonus for them and us since we're Afrikaans as well. All the (drinkable) water and (solar) energy at Paperbark came from renewable sources. We visited Moholoholo wildlife rehabilitation center and at all times our safari drives respected the wildlife and our talks focused on conservation.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

We had a fantastic time with all the people we stayed with. Paperbark was a true retreat where we felt pampered and relaxed. We were fortunate that there weren't other guests at the time, so we had the afternoons on the veranda all to ourselves. The safari felt authentic in every way and more than met our expectations.

review 5 Nov 2009

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Learning some bushcraft, hearing a baby rhino squeak, seeing a leopard and white-tailed mongoose bump into one another at 11 pm at night. In fact everyday brought something new and we were awestruck by Gerrie Camacho's knowledge of every aspect of our safari. An unforgettable experience which coupled with Paperbark gave us a whole extra dimension to a standard safari package.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Probably not the best if you are a first timer on safari and want to see the maximum number of animals but once you've satisfied this urge then this holiday offers a lot more: lovely accommodation at Paperbark, walks, tranquility, learning to track. Still be prepared for early starts (and very late finishes during the safari element of the trip!). Anyone with a desire to learn more of animal conservation will thoroughly enjoy this trip.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Definitely, our trip to the local school with Will was a real eye opener and we were very impressed by all we saw. Will is making a real effort to help the pupils succeed. Paperbark is as green as it can be, only solar power used, locally sourced food and employment for local people.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

a truly unforgettable holiday during which we never felt like clients, just friends. Wonderfully relaxed atmosphere in which we learnt a lot with highly committed team of conservationists. Thanks to Will, Carol, Anton and Gerrie. We're going back next year!

review 25 Aug 2009

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

It is extremely difficult to pinpoint one most memorable event on this holiday. Everything was wonderful, especially the serval and bushpig sightings and, of course, the leopard that we transported to Maholoholo. Ian and Ro, two others I joined on this holiday, have written a review on this site with which I am in complete agreement, so I will simply emphasize the beauty of the setting and the uniqueness of the holiday. Carol and Will Fox were the ultimate hosts, not overlooking anything. In addition, it was a treat for me to be served tea and biscuits in the morning and to not have to lock my door and to eat by candlelight every night, seemingly small things, but contributing to the overall experience.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be prepared to learn a lot, ask a lot of questions, and contribute in whatever way you can. This will be an experience that you will never forget!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, in many ways, such as the support of the local school (Will Fox has even given money out of his own pocket for petrol for the school bus, in addition to many other things), using wood from non-native tree species for firewood, limiting the use of electricity, etc.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

I had an absolutely wonderful time. There is not a single thing that I can find fault with. I would repeat this holiday again in the future, if circumstances permit it!

review 13 Nov 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

There were so many memorable and exciting parts to the holiday - far too many to list - probably the most memorable was our first sighting of a leopard - we saw 2 leopard cubs during a game drive. We spent ages watching them as they ate an antelope which their mother had killed. It was fantastic and we got the opportunity to take many special photographs. Our next sighting of a leopard was also fantastic - on another game drive we spent over an hour following the movements of a female leopard. It was amazing - there was just us 2, a guide and driver and we felt so privileged to spend so long observing such a beautiful creature. It was a proper wild experience - not like some of the other game drives/safaris we observed where you queue up amongst many other vehicles for a quick glimpse. Instead we were able to spend so long and had real quality time observing the wildlife. Our holiday was so special that we even got engaged whilst we were there!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Definitely book this holiday!! We couldn't recommend it enough as we had such a great safari experience. The whole trip was organised very well - it was tailormade to fit our timescale and interests. Everyone was so friendly and professional and treated us so well throughout the holiday. The knowledge of the guide and ranger was brilliant - we learnt so much about wildlife, flora, fauna and conservation and they were great company throughout the holiday. The Paperbark Lodge is beautiful - set in a lovely valley and the mountainous scenery was great. The lodge had lots of wildlife and it was extremely relaxing. The owners were great - again good company, offered great hospitality and fantastic home cooked meals - we really couldn't fault anything about the holiday - we loved it. If anyone has any specific interests they should mention this as everyone was only too happy to focus on the wildlife and interests which we wanted to focus on.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Definitely - there is a heavy focus on conservation and the Ingwe Leopard project - we learnt a lot about conservation so not only did it benefit the community, it was also educational for guests. The Paperbark lodge is keen to minimise its impact on the environment - all electricity came from solar panels, all shampoo, soap, shower gel etc is environmentally friendly and we were asked to minimise water where possible. The lodge was beneficial to its workers - the owners were keen to look after them and ensure they have good living conditions etc. Whilst we were there, the owners had discussed that they were even going to help build a garden for their waitress/cleaner so she could grow her own fresh vegetables and salad - they seemed to treat their staff with respect and had care for their welfare, far beyond just paying them a wage.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

We would give it a huge 5 stars - it was a great holiday and we could not recommend it enough. If you want a true safari experience, spending quality time with the wildlife, spending time with very knowledgeable and friendly guides and enjoying hospitality at its best then this is the holiday for you!

review 14 Sep 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The flora and fauna were tremendous. Nature TV shows capture a relatively small portion of great diversity in plants and animals (beside the big five, cheetah, wild dog, we saw for example 5 species of mongoose and 5 species antelope). And we weren't prepared for the variety and colourfulness of the bird life, especially at the Paperbark Bush Retreat. However, it could not have been as great as it was without the special talents of the people who run the safari. Will and Carol were great people and great hosts, adjusting our safari to suit our needs and interests. For example, we were able to attend an entertaining musical revue put on by Lydenburg high school students and visit a rural primary school. Anton, the ranger at Paperbark, is a wonderfully attentive and knowledgeable naturalist. He took us on bush walks and with Will got us involved in some of the ongoing conservation/research activities at Paperbark (e.g., setting out camera traps and trying to GPS collar mammals such a leopards), Gerrie Camacho, one of South Africa's, if not Africa's most experienced and knowledgeable rangers and zoologists, who was our safari guide. What a privilege to spend a week with him. We couldn't have imagined a more fascinating and personable guide. He was committed to assuring that our safari experience me and exceeded our expectations. This was a highlight of a lifetime, not just this trip.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

This was our first trip to Africa. It took us almost a year to find a "package" that appeared to meet our general desires (not too much travel, hiking/walking as well as in vehicle game viewing, involvement in conservation, some exposure to local cultures, and not too expensive). It was worth the wait. Let Will and Carol know your interests since they take pride in putting together a unique safari.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, very much so. Profits from the safari are used to support conservation activities such as the Ingwe Leopard project. Paperbark Bush Retreat, the base for the safari, is carbon neutral (e.g., electricity is generated by solar power). The delicious food served is locally sourced and organic. Part of the tour operators's social program is to provide assistance to a local farm school, which lacks funding and materials. We visited this school and brought pens and sweets for the children. They sang and recited poems for us. We met with principal who outlined ways in which we could get involved in helping the school and its students in the future. The staff work with local farmers to manage/relocate rather than kill predators such a leopard and brown hyena that on occasion take livestock. Furniture is procured locally from fair trade employers. Local arts and crafts are displayed throughout.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Up there with the best of our holidays. Very enjoyable. And educational.

review 30 Jul 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Being walked in on by a female leopard.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take warm clothes at this time of year for the nights.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Absolutely.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

11/10

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