Archives for February 9, 2012

The Gambia, on the West African coast, just a 6 hours flight away and with no time change makes a perfect destination to escape the cold of winter.

Though tourists in search of winter sunshine have been visiting this small country for a good 30 years, it is still relatively un-spoilt in terms of large tourist hotels and developments: so far there are no true resort style hotels, more the hotels are built near small villages which are gradually developing into resorts encompassing craft markets, local bars and restaurants.

Whilst many of the hotels are fairly simple in what they offer, there are a surprising number of small boutique style hotels with quirky rooms, excellent spas and fabulous restaurants. Eating out in the Gambia is now quite an experience, with a wonderful choice of cuisine, from local spicy chicken yassa, Lebanese food, Chinese, Indian and European – the much welcomed French influence from neighbouring Senegal has seen an enormous change over the last 20 years.

For many people a visit to one of the local schools or charities is a humbling experience but the schools are well supported by the UK visitors who make yearly visits and organise fund raising in the UK: you will find a host of smiling faces and young ones all too eager to show off their classrooms, and of course, have their photo taken!

If you tire of the beach there are opportunities to go deep sea fishing, enjoy a day cruising on the River Gambia or have a dusty adventure in a 4×4 visiting the Gambian countryside: or what about a day’s home cooking course first visiting the market and then preparing a local dish in a local home.

The Gambia is also a birdwatchers paradise with some 540 species and with everything in relatively close proximity (forest savannah environments, drier woodland, marine systems and estuary mudflats with its intricate mangrove tributaries) you don’t have to travel far – just standing on your bedroom terrace you can see over 10 varieties!

To find out more about the gambia, please call Howard on 01428 658 777.

Terry made a long-awaited first visit to South Africa, not only visiting Sabi Sands where private game reserves offer you every opportunity to see the Big Five at close range, but he was also able to experience the magnificent surrounding countryside.

The first night in South Africa was spent at the Michelangelo Hotel in Johannesburg. With unsurpassed luxury, the hotel is situated at the heart of Africa’s most exclusive shopping centre, and some rooms over look Nelson Mandela Square where you can find a good selection of restaurants and shops.

Travelling east they stayed at Lion Sands Private Game Reserve, which is exclusively used by guests, giving you a personalised safari experience. The resort has three lodges, including the award winning Ivory Lodge, ideal for groups of family and friends. Terry stayed in the 1933 Lodge, nestled on the banks of the Sabie River, where comfort and relaxation are the order of the day.There are four spacious suites, each with their own private views of the River.

Nearby Nottens Bush Camp is a delightful private lodge. The family-run camp has eight individually styled chalets, each with balconies overlooking the bush. There is no electricity in the rooms, with hurricane lamps and candles providing a rustic, but romantic atmosphere. There are experienced rangers on hand to provide you with early morning and late afternoon game drives, as well as daily walks. In the past this hotel has proved a great favourite with our clients and it’s easy to see why.

World-famous and award-winning Mala Mala, spanning 33,000 acres, boasts some of the best unfenced game viewing in South Africa, offering one of your greatest chances to see the Big Five. Accommodation in the Main Camp provides a variety of rooms and suites, while the adjacent Sable Camp offers a more intimate atmosphere. There is also the opportunity to stay at Rattray’s, a ten-minute drive from Main Camp. This is a very exclusive and quiet camp, and no children under 16 are allowed. Mala Mala has its own airstrip, allowing quick connections from Johannesburg or Nelspruit.

Rissington Inn, close to the bustling ng village of Hazyview, west of the Kruger, is a stylish and informal, privately owned inn, providing an excellent base for those wishing to take part in adventure activities such as horse-riding, micro-lighting, canopy trails and hot air ballooning. But don’t discount the Inn if you prefer a more relaxed holiday, as it is also a perfect place to unwind and enjoy the peace and views over the surrounding countryside.

Cybele Forest Lodge & Spa, an oasis set in 300 acres of paradise, is a great option for families wanting to combine activity with relaxation. The accommodation is private and luxurious; all suites have a walled garden and some their own pool. The resort has its own helipad, and helicopter adventures and hot air balloon safaris are available. Horse-riding can also be arranged locally. From Cybele and Rissington guests can spend the day touring the spectacular Panama Route, visiting the historic village of Pilgrim’s Rest, God’s Window and Blyde River Canyon.

For those that are interested in bird-life, South Africa offers a tremendous variety with around 500 species of bird.

The flight to South Africa may be long, but with overnight flights available to Johannesburg daily and no danger of jet-lag, you can reach the camp and be out on safari the next day. Perfect for a easy getaway from the British winter. For more information call us on 01428 658 777.

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