Archive for the ‘Botswana’ Category

The ‘Profoundly Striking’ Makgadikgadi Pans

Posted October 27th, 2014 by Molly Demmer

Kota Tabuchi

Written by Kota Tabuchi, Travel Beyond’s Managing Director of Africa.

This August, I led a group of 40 travelers on safari in Africa, almost all whom had never been to Africa before. As they enjoyed their time in the Okavango Delta, I slipped away from the group to revisit an old favorite: the place that made me fall in love with Africa back in October 2001.

The Makgadikgadi Pans is an ancient lake bed roughly 45 minutes by light aircraft southeast of Maun, Botswana. During the dry season, the lake bed is a dry salt pan, roughly the size of Switzerland. Back in 2001, I was a college student in Lugano, Switzerland at Franklin University and ended up on the Botswana “Academic Travel” program (a 2 week faculty led journey that takes students across the world). When we visited the Makgadikgadi, we contacted a guide from Jack’s Camp; a man by the name of Super. He took us on quad bikes to the middle of the pans for a sleep out under the African stars. In 2001, I was a fairly irresponsible college student and placed academics on the backburner. However, on a warm October night in the middle of the pans, I had a pivotal life moment – something about this place was profoundly striking. In short, this single night was the catalyst to my stewardship towards conservation and drove me to pursue a career in my current field.

Fast forward to August 2014, when I revisited Jack’s Camp and to my surprise, Super met me in the dining hall and introduced himself. I recalled the story that I just mentioned – he remembered my group and got very emotional about how his connection with me and the place in which he guides led me to where I am today. We quad biked into the pans for a sundowner, and Super took me on a game drive. We inspected their sister properties (San Camp and Camp Kalahari), visited the habituated meerkats of the Kalahari and walked with the San Bushmen. Like 14 years ago, I found immense beauty and spirituality in this enormous emptiness. No wind, no noise, no light pollution, and stars packed from horizon to horizon. I relived that special day 14 years ago – it was magical.

The Makgadikgadi remains a very unfrequented area of Botswana – perhaps because it isn’t as wildlife dense as the Okavango or perhaps because people haven’t heard about it. But I can assure you that it is a stunning destination and one with considering if you ever choose to (re)visit to Botswana. San Camp was my favorite of the Uncharted Africa’s portfolio in the Makgadikgadi – a simple and tastefully decorated tented camp on the fringes of the pans overlooking the vast nothingness. I yearn to return with my family to San Camp someday to share the emotional journey that this place delivers.

Interested in learning more about Botwsana or the Makgadikgadi Pans? Contact us.

Posted in Africa, Botswana, Consultant Blogs | 1 Comment »

Craig Beal Named to 2014 Travel+Leisure A-List

Posted October 27th, 2014 by Mel Reger


For the fourth straight year, Travel Beyond owner Craig Beal was named to the prestigious Travel+Leisure magazine Agent A-List for his expert knowledge of Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia. The annual A-List is comprised of destination all-stars in the travel industry who have the knowledge and connections to make a dream trip a reality.

Craig Beal’s Travel+Leisure A-List Profile:

“Beal’s South African–born mother founded Travel Beyond, taking him on his first safari at age four. He’s been traveling to Botswana and Zimbabwe for more than 30 years, and when he isn’t in Africa—staying at new lodges and meeting top guides—he’s talking about it at conferences as a cofounder of Safari Professionals of America or in online forums such as TripAdvisor and FlyerTalk.

Discovery: The seven-year-old Lion Camp, located in a remote corner of Zambia’s Luangwa National Park, known for its walking safaris and views. Thatch-and-canvas chalets overlook an oxbow lagoon and open plain, ideal for wildlife spotting.

Read the full Travel + Leisure article >>

Posted in Africa, Botswana, Consultant Blogs, Southern Africa, Travel Planning, Zambia, Zimbabwe | 1 Comment »

Top 14 Places to Visit in 2014

Posted January 29th, 2014 by Molly Demmer

Rapa Nui Sunset by Marguerite Smit

Rapa Nui Sunset by Marguerite Smit

With the rush of the holidays behind us and the chill of winter winds keeping us inside, it’s the perfect time to start planning this year’s trip. We asked our travel consultants for ideas on places to visit in 2014—some that are “off the beaten path” and some of our trusted favorites.

Marguerite-Smit1. Rapa Nui
At the southernmost point of the Polynesian Triangle in the southeast Pacific Ocean, Rapa Nui is a treasure not to be missed! The island, also known as Easter Island, is famous for its 887 moai statues created by the early Rapa Nui people. A World Heritage Site, the island is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world and filled with majestic history, rich in controversy. One of the top reasons to visit is to experience firsthand the history of a fascinating culture that has endured famines, epidemics, civil war, colonialism, deforestation and population decline. Activities cater to those who enjoy the outdoors: mountain biking, hiking, horse-riding, snorkeling or diving, to fishing and days filled with epic folk law tales inspired by the moai statues scattered across the island. Marguerite’s island recommendation offers a tropical rainforest climate making it a great year round destination easily combined with Chile or Peru.

Ann-Coleman2. Southwest France
When most people travel to the south of France, they visit the southeast—Provence and the Cote d’Azure. Yet southwest France has quaint towns and villages nestled in the Pyrenees, tastebud tickling foie gras, gorgeous scenery ripe for photography, world-renown Bordeaux wine and so much more for travelers to discover. Think of southwest France as having the laid back atmosphere of southwest America, and you’ll start to understand why Ann thinks it’s a destination worth adding to your next European trip.


Jennifer-Head3. Colombia
The reasons to visit Colombia are almost endless, but here are the ones that top Jennifer’s list : an exciting combination of Caribbean and Latin American cultures; beautiful, clean cities like Bogota, Cartagena and Medellin; colorful architecture and history; lovely beaches; a wide variety of natural history and ecosystems from marine to mountain, jungle and river; active adventures; the “coffee triangle;” great music; happy people.  According to Jennifer, Colombia is definitely the next big destination in South America!


Bob Gaston4. Berlin, Germany
It’s nearly impossible to suggest Berlin as a travel destination without focusing first on the city’s World War II devastation and division. Berlin today acknowledges the past through memorials, parks and historic preservation and continues to build toward a better future. As Bob discovered on his most recent trip, Berlin is a city that is best explored on foot—whether on a private walking tour of WWII history with a knowledgeable guide, wandering through Museum Island’s numerous exhibits or discovering the delicious cafes and restaurants dotting her streets.

Torres del Paine in Chile by Jennifer Gillmore Bravo

Torres del Paine in Chile by Jennifer Gillmore (Bravo)

Jennifer-Head5. Chile
We let our newest consultant Jennifer give an extra recommendation since South America has so much to offer. Also on her list: Chile, which she described as “very hot right now.”  With such a wide expanse from north to south and far out into the Pacific, the Chilean possibilities are varied and exciting.  Atacama, the driest desert on Earth, is an otherworldly destination where wide-open valleys are surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, and the red rock provides changing scenery with the movement of the sun and passing clouds. There are hot springs and geysers and flamingoes, as well as dunes, lakes and volcanoes for hiking, biking and exploring. Patagonia in the south offers pristine wilderness and stunning scenery, with jagged mountains shooting into the sky juxtaposed with crystal blue lakes and magnificent glaciers.

Ken-Head6. Kauai
Kauai’s allure lies in its scenery—the stunning Napali coastline, picturesque Waimea Canyon, lush jungles and crashing waves—but, according to Ken, the views are only one piece of the island’s puzzle. An incredible number of activities—zip-lining, nighttime snorkeling, horseback riding, helicopter tours, hiking, kayaking and more—give Kauai a special island experience.



Pam Buttner7. Malawi
Pam previously lived and managed a safari lodge in Malawi, so the country called “The Warm Heart of Africa” holds special warmth for us too. Recently referred to as “Africa’s next go-to destination” by CNN, Malawi offers many cultural immersion opportunities, spectacular freshwater activities on or in Lake Malawi, which is home to more species of fish than any other fresh body of water in the world, and a taste of rural Africa that will stay with you long after your return.


Craig Beal8. Arctic – Polar Bears
Perhaps it’s surprising that one of our two Travel+Leisure A-List Agents for Africa is recommending a destination that is almost the polar opposite of Africa. Yet, for Craig a trip to the Arctic is definitely worth it. That because a trip to the Arctic offers a rare opportunity to see polar bears—a population that is rapidly declining. In addition to polar bear encounters, guests can photograph and explore stunning Arctic landscapes, often including the Northern Lights!


Kota Tabuchi9. Kenya
Anyone who follows our blog knows that Kota is passionate about Kenya. The East African country offers abundant wildlife for incredible safari game drives, stunning landscapes with wide open spaces, unrivaled cultural interaction and sustainable community-based tourism. As Kota explains, his most enthusiastic safari clients are those whom he has sent to Kenya!

Kangaroo Island by Jenny Mikkelson

Jenny Mikkelson10. Kangaroo Island, Australia 
Sure, Australia’s third largest island has kangaroos like its name suggests, but it’s home to koala bears, sea lions, pelicans and wallabies too. The island also hosts the last genetically pure population of the Ligurian honey bee, adding a sweet touch to any trip. In addition to wildlife viewing, Jenny recommends checking out local artwork, gorgeous beaches, adventure activities and the island’s beautiful gardens.



Jeanie-Head11. South Africa
With an extremely favorable exchange rate, South Africa offers excellent value for money. Cape Town is a mecca for foodies and those wishing to experience natural beauty, history and culture, not to mention the adorable African penguins. South Africa is also a fantastic family safari destination, where even the top luxury safari lodges and camps take children of all ages, as Jeanie experienced firsthand in December when she traveled there with her daughter Daniela. Embrace history and follow Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom by visiting Robben Island from Cape Town and Soweto and the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. South Africa truly is the Rainbow Nation and a great destination for all types of travelers.

Rose Loggi12. Tanzania
Tanzania’s diversity of landscapes leads to a variety of trip ideas in just one country. Follow Rose’s suggestion and enjoy a classic safari in the vast, game-rich plains of the Serengeti and private remote reserves, followed by relaxation on the spice island of Zanzibar, rich in cultural history, white sand beaches and world class snorkeling and diving. Learn about the Maasai culture at a traditional village or connect with your roots at Olduvai Gorge, the Cradle of Mankind. Feeling more adventurous? Trek for chimpanzee in the Mahale Mountains or climb the iconic Mount Kilimanjaro.

Phil Gain13. Bermuda
As our resident airline specialist, it’s no wonder that Phil’s first reason for visiting Bermuda was a two-hour flight from Boston, making it a great destination for a quick getaway. Other reasons include the gorgeous pink sand beaches and diving and snorkeling opportunities ranging from beginner to expert.



Marsha Carroll14. Botswana
The landscapes of the Okavango Delta may change drastically between seasons, but animal viewing is consistently dramatic. Whether photographing newborn calves in the lush green season or crowded waterholes in the dry season, travelers will find each visit to Botswana offers an unforgettable safari experience. If you’ve been to Botswana before, follow Marsha’s suggestions and visit at a different time of year for a fresh experience.




Posted in Africa, Arctic, Botswana, Chile, Consultant Blogs, Easter Island, Europe, Hawaii, Kenya, Latin America, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Travel Planning | Comments Off