Clients often ask where the best place in Southern Africa is for a safari experience, the answer is anything but straight forward. The reason for this is because there are so many different and uniquely exceptional experiences available.
The Sabi Sands takes some beating and is widely regarded as the pinnacle safari experience in the region. It is impossible to argue against this and I would not even begin to try.
Shamwari in the Eastern Cape is so incredibly special with numerous achievements in conservation and the successful reintroducton of the Big Five into the region. The Shamwari Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is unique and the TV documentary based on this has achieved global acclaim.
Chobe in Botswana is an incredible wilderness and the river is something quite mystical. The large elephant herds, hippo pods and lion prides leave you truly breathless.
The Okavango Delta definitely deserves a mention and is one of those real bucket list experiences for many people. There are many exquisite high end boutique stlyled lodges to choose from.
Along with the above heavyweights some of my other personal favourites are:
The reserves of Northern KZN particularly Phinda and Thanda with their sublime hospitality offering and amazing wildlife are both highly recommended. As a KZN boy, I suppose I have a degree of bias but the experiences I have seen many of our guests and groups enjoy over the years has given me some of the most incredible life memories, which I will treasure forever.
The Pilanesberg with the wide range of lodges and probably the best value for money is as good a natural environment as any of the very best mentioned above. The game somehow seems to have a unique wildness, you get a sense of the harsh competitiveness of the bush where survival really is a daily achievement.
In conclusion there are a plethora of options and each is unique and has it’s own individual nuances and features. The one thing that is certain is you will have one of the most incredible, authentic and memorable experiences of your life. As a motivator it is still incredibly successful as an incentive choice, achieving phenomenal success across group profiles everytime.
Sabi Sands Game Reserve and Sun City
We have just successfully operated an exceptional inbound incentive programme for a leading Global Financial Services and Lifestyle Company.
The first leg of the programme comprised of privatising all four of the Sabi Sabi Lodges as well as & Beyonds Kirkmans Camp, in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve.
The sublime experience enjoyed at this world renowned game reserve was incredible. Game viewing was the highlight with most guests seeing all of the big five, including an incredible interaction between a leopard and a hyena with the hyena successfully stealing the kill of the leopard. The hospitality, cuisine and special evening events with vibrant entertainment rounded off the experience and will leave each participant with special lifelong memories.
Then onto Sun City for the group Gala Dinner Awards evening, The Palace hotel was the base. Three venues were used including pre dinner drinks in the Elephant Courtyard with a harpist for entertainment.
Then onto a formal served dinner at the Palace Pool Deck, which ended with a massive fireworks display. This signalled the move to the after party in the Lost City Crocodile Lounge where a DJ and casino awaited the group to entertain them late into the night.
The logistics included fourteen charter flights and in total across the programme seven of The Inside Edge team were on the ground to make sure every micro detail was meticulously delivered.
New York is indeed a fascinating fast paced city. An eclectic blend of diverse cultures and a rich history of “rags to riches success stories” have created a buzz and vibe that truly sets it apart.
A recent site inspection to this magnificent city spoiled us with visits to historical landmarks. A city where “if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere” can only be the platform for a spectacular incentive trip and with its vast variety of beautiful venues, leaving us in a difficult position of which venues “not to select” from the spectacular options on offer.
From an old banking hall with a superhero undertone in its name “Gotham Hall”, to restaurants overlooking the bustle of Grand Central Station, to “Top of the Rock” rooftop venues on the Rockefeller Centre, planning has commenced and the programme is shaping up for what we are sure will be a well received and fantastic reward for many of the already well travelled top achievers. “Lady Liberty” we are on our way!
We have just returned from a trip to Mauritius and stayed on the West coast of the island which meant that every day ended with a breathtaking sunset over the ocean. Although Mauritius is undoubtedly a tropical paradise, the island has much more to offer than just beautiful beaches.
The cuisine in Mauritius is heaven for the seafood lover. The dishes where influenced by Indian, French, European and Chinese cuisine but many of the dishes are unique to the island.
The capital of Mauritius, Port Louis which is the country’s political, cultural and economical centre was great for local cuisine and bargain shopping with hundreds of stalls selling Mauritian souvenirs, local delicacies and of course, Mauritian rum!
Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens is one of the main attractions of the island. We were taken on an informative guided tour through the gardens which not only boasts rare and magnificent plant species like the giant water lily, but also showcased several fascinating bird species.
The lavish estate, Château de Labourdonnais sits amongst the magnificent orchards in Mapou and offers intriguing excursions as well as an impressive venue for events. The lush gardens with hundred-year old trees, endemic plants and orchards with tropical fruits is absolutely spectacular. The tour ended with a tasting of the estates own locally crafted rum.
A firm favourite with every one of our small group and the highlight of the trip was swimming with the dolphins. Swimming with pods of wild spinner dolphins was a massively rewarding and therapeutic experience which will never be forgotten. This was followed by a boat trip to the stunning island of L’ile aux Benitiers where we had a barbeque lunch and some leisure time to explore the lagoons and coral reefs around the island.
From beginning to end, the Mauritian people showed sincere warmth and hospitality.
Having just returned from an amazing trip to Munich and the surrounding area, the incentive product surpassed our expectations and by a distance too.
The history, cuisine and culture of the Bavarian people, amazing technology on show at BMW, top quality hotels and the magnificent scenery. Not to forget the Olympic Tower at 198 m high as well as the tranquil Tegernsee lake with the Alps as a backdrop all combine to create a full and exceptional programme.
The sunny warm weather was perfect and the late sunsets a treat, especially when enjoyed in one of the many Beer Gardens in the city.
Our DMC Conference and Touring were brilliant, they display the efficiency Germany is renowned for but do it in such a personable and fun way.
It is easy to twin Munich with Austria and the Central European location allows for easy extension trips to a host of major European cities. My own personal favourite (which I am saving for doing on my next group) is one of the good value for money River Cruises Conference and Touring are famous for.
Incentive Event for Investment Company with all staff from London, New York and Hong Kong offices attending
150 attendees in single accommodation
Three Centre Programme which started in Cape Town before flying on Charter Flights to the Pilanesberg Airport, for a night in a luxury tented camp with 150 tents split into two villages in the Pilanesberg Game Reserve. After which the group went on to spend the last two nights at the Palace Hotel at Sun City before flying home.
Spectacular events featuring top quality entertainment on each of the six nights in South Africa. Action packed activities during the day with many flexible options to choose from. Viewing Lion, Elephant and Rhino as well as a wide range of general game in their natural habitat, on both the game drives and bush walks.
Best Programme ever how can we possibly beat this in the future?
– 85 pax
– Traveled 2016 (3 nights / 4 days)
Some activities included self-drive cabriolet vintage cars from Positano to Sorrento along the world-famous Amalfi Coastline, guided visits to the 2000 year old “buried cities” of Pompeii & Herculaneum, a day ferry trip to Capri Island and using the local 6 seater cabriolet “Capri taxis”, dinner at an interactive pizza and mozzarella cheese making farm/restaurant, walking tours & Limoncello tasting through the narrow romantic streets of Sorrento.
Making Pizza dough in Naples, Italy
A trip to any destination is never quite complete without taking in some of the historical, architectural and cultural highlights of the region. Sorrento and the Amalfi coastline are absolutely saturated with these boasting some of the most scenic (and hair-raising) drives along a jagged-edge coastline known to man. Celebrities like Sophia Loren and dating as far back as the Ancient Roman empire were only some of the eyes that have gazed upon this beauty and influenced the lifestyle and history of the area. Looking over the bay at Mt Vesuvius, it still lies high and dominant, a strong reminder of the power of nature having once buried two cities (Pompeii & Herculaneum) alive in its eruptive volcanic wake.
From the main shores of the coastline a day ferry trip to Capri Island will accentuate the romance and resilient Roman Catholic nature of this elegant European society. Well known for influencing modern day culinary trends, some of Italy’s more well-known dishes come from this region. Fresh produce lives in rich color with the infamous Limoncello being produced from lemons literally the size of small soccer balls, and tomato’s in deep red flavor (the Caprese salad having been born here).
Pilanesberg South Africa’s most underrated Game Reserve
When most people think of The Pilanesberg Game Reserve the first thought that comes to mind is Sun City, understandably so in some respects as the two are in close proximity and both benefit heavily from having the other as a neighbor and programmes at the resort almost always have a visit to the Pilanesberg included at one or more points.
There is though so much more to this incredible reserve, which is home to the Big 5 and it is situated in a Malaria free area.
Ivory Tree Game Lodge with 60 suites and conferencing facilities.
The very exclusive and boutique Lodge up on a hill with panoramic views named Tshuduku.
Of course there is also the family friendly Bakubung and KwaMaritane Lodges. These lodges offer exceptional value for money to both local and international visitors.
For the more adventurous we can build luxury mobile tented camps like we did in May this year (150 en suite luxury tents).
Enough about the accommodation offerings though it is the game experience that makes this park exceptional. Sightings are almost always out of this world we have had a group see the big 5 plus cheetah in two drives. Most drives see at least three, on my last visit in early November, we saw elephant, rhino and lion as well as abundant giraffe, zebra, kudu, impala, springbok, warthog, hippo and crocodiles.
With my family a year ago we saw two young leopards playing on the side of the road for about twenty minutes and later a female leopard out hunting as the sun started to set, yes on the same drive. On the other drives we did (from Ivory Tree Lodge) we saw so many breeding herds of elephant, white and black rhino as well as lion on a kill (one lion and three lionesses). Amazing stuff, our ranger was rightfully hugely pleased with his performance as we said goodbye to him after delivering an outstanding and special experience for us all. Not quite so for everyone though as my young son then 8 year old son said goodbye he said “thank you so much, I had a great time, just so you know though we didn’t see any buffalo”! He was in fact correct but incredibly misguided all the same.
Having recently visited Babylonstoren for a family wedding in the Cape Winelands, I have to say I was absolutely blown away.
The setting was incredible but the truly unique proposition is the incredible solace and being at one with nature that all of the elements of the farm have successfully come together to achieve.
The leisurely walks with the kids collecting fruit and vegetables from the extensive gardens and trails are a standout memory. On returning to your suite having completed your foraging the items are skillfully sculpted into a unique salad with your very own stamp and unlike any other before or after.
Or of course just feeding carrots to the farm animals which was another big hit and there was a lot of fun and laughter breaking the tranquil silences of nature.
All in all this is an ideal setting for a breakaway from the rat race, small leisure groups or families enjoying quality time in some of the best surroundings the Wine Region has to offer or of course a phenomenal place to create and share those special family occasions, that will remain etched in your memory for life.