Testimonials From Happy Travelers:
More Happy Travelers:
People tell you Africa changes you. It is impossible to put it into words. It is an experience everyone should have in their lifetime. In Africa you feel grounded in an indescribable way because by choice I had no connection to the outside world or technology. It forces you to be in the moment because you don’t know what the next minute will bring. There is a constant sense of awe and surprise. In April, I was supposed to move to NYC after my trip to Africa in March. I could not move to a city where there is so much energy and so few places to reconnect to nature.
My chiropractor recommended Sandy. The minute you speak to Sandy you can hear her passion and love for Africa. I traveled alone, yet I never felt unsafe or lonely. Sandy and her staff went above and beyond with cards and small treasures at each destination. They are absolutely an amazing team. Beyond brilliant!
Well our trip was wonderful! The handoff went great at the airport with the person that greeted us and the other person that took us to the hotel. The tipping guide that Amy sent us was very helpful. Our wedding was stress-free and everything went smoothly! They second day we were there they showed us three options they were thinking of having our wedding spot at. We choose a spot overlooking these beautiful mountains. We worked with one of the managers Carmen regarding wedding things and also our Ranger Rico. Carmen was very thoughtful and detailed in every aspect. Of course the day of the wedding the weather was beautiful. It had been a little drizzly off and on the days up to. The cake was made by their chef and delicious. The flowers were beautiful. I was very pleased with my hair and makeup stylist and we both liked the photographer. She is going to make sure we have photos in time to share at our reception on June 18th. Her husband was there as well and he took some photos on my i-phone so I had some photos to share right away with my family after the wedding. After the wedding, we went on a game drive and came back to a romantic dinner at our room. Rose petals and candles were everywhere and we had our very own 4-course menu printed with our name and wedding date including our wedding cake for a second desert! The food was delicious there. After every game drive, a staff member with a hot towel greeted us! During game drives in the morning, it was a bit chilly so our ranger Rico had hot water bottles to slip our hands onto and blankets. I think one of my favorite mornings would have to be our coffee break and snacks while hanging out near the rhinos. The game drives were never disappointing. We have so many good pictures. He made it his mission to get the Big 5, some in one day. The lodge is at a really Our son gave us a Photo Safari gift which Hills of Africa developed private tours around the safari good location. They upgraded us to the honeymoon suite the when we got there. It was the furthest one away and we were able to see elephants and monkey’s and hear so many beautiful sounds of South Africa. The staff waited on us hand and foot the entire time. Carmen, Rico and Sophia gave us a photo from our wedding with a frame one of the staff made as a wedding gift. Everyone there was so thoughtful and it was such an amazing experience.
We were inspired to visit Africa to experience animals in the wild and the culture. The biggest impact on us was the respect that locals and everyone has for the animals. Loved the outdoor shower at Sand River Masai Mara (no fence!), it was cool! We had an intimate dinner under the stars at Lewa Safari Lodge – that was really great!
We loved the guides at both camps that were so informative and made the experience incredible. My favorite moment was having a Sundowner in the middle of a wildebeest herd. For my wife, it was the 45 minutes of watching a lion pride.
Our biggest surprise was the group Sundowner at Sand River with a fire – it was fantastic. Sampson, our guide, joined us and was wonderful and we felt so special to be able to spend time with this special young man.
Sand River also had animals right outside, since there was no fence. After discussing, we had private safaris at both camps and that really gave us autonomy and never felt at anyone else schedule. AND we still met a lot of people at the campsite each night at Sand River. That really allowed everyone to meet each night over drinks and make friends and made that group Sundowner a better experience.
Sacha, Tamlyn and Tobin at Sand River were really fun. They spent time with us and we bonded with them, every night. Sacha was really so COOL and he spent time showing my wife how to do special effects with her camera. He went to great lengths to make it memorable (and we noticed he did this with all of the people there). Maybe he was just himself!
October 2019 Trip to Kenya
VIP Clients of Ursula Pearson, Travelex International
What I am missing most is eating by the light of either campfires or lantern. Coming back from the evening game drive to the twinkly, romantic atmosphere at Tinswalo was so special. I can see why both sets of couples that were in our land cruiser were honeymooners.
A surprise was how intense the game drives were. No frolicking cubs for us, in three days we saw three kills including a pride of 6 lions that took down a cape buffalo. Truly the “circle of life.”
The trip was a perfect mix for us of excitement, relaxation and mental stimulation. All the accommodations were first rate, the staffs and guides could not have been more genuine or helpful. Hats off to you and your crew. It was also very nice of you to have the welcoming cards at each venue and we enjoyed the lunch in Franschhoek very much.
(We were) always fascinated by South Africa and wanted to visit for a long time. Hills of Africa was exceptionally helpful in preparing our itinerary and everything went very smoothly throughout the trip. We feel more fulfilled and recognize that we had a very special and unique experience.
All in all our trip was really good! We liked the private transfers between camps being able to see everyday life as we drove along. We would have missed that on charter flights, passing by overhead. As a matter of fact, one of our drives gave us our biggest surprise – coming upon market day in a Maasai Village. The Maasai/villagers were all gathering together to trade goats, sell items, making moonshine. We stopped and spent time enjoying this very authentic aspect of Tanzanian life. Not like a ‘show’ or something ‘put on’. We enjoyed seeing this as it’s so very different from life at home. And I have to say we really enjoyed Tarangire and Swala Camp! We’ve read this park is so often skipped. There were so many animals coming close to camp that on our 2nd day we skipped the game drive and stayed at camp to enjoy.
Huge thank you for organising the best holiday we have been on for many years. It was amazing, the girls loved it, so did I. It couldn’t have been better, and so well organised. I am hooked on going back to Africa, absoultly blown away with it! The animals are so incredible – loved everything.
For our honeymoon, we wanted to travel to somewhere we’d never been. We also wanted to visit a place that would be memorable and exciting. Africa fulfilled all of our desires for an exciting and new place that we would always remember.
Everywhere we visited felt like a unique experience and we valued every second of our trip. Pam, our guide, was beyond fantastic. Everything we did felt like it was tailored just for us—it really felt like a trip made solely for our honeymoon.
Londolozi was by far the highlight of our trip. They made a real effort to make the place seem like a very personal experience. We always had the same guides during our outings and two hosts were always around, making friendly, personalized conversation. We felt like we were in a home away from home. The locals at Londolozi were simply amazing and inspiring. We (Matthew and his wife, Meredith) felt like we made friends there in both the staff and the locals that we’ll keep in touch with for years to come.
On top of that, the food was amazing and we got to see so many wild animals! Thank you for all of the planning and thoughtfulness. We literally couldn’t have been happier.
Click here to view our interview with Matthew & Meredith on our blog.
My trip to South Africa was a life changing experience. From visiting Kruger National Park and getting close to a baby rhino and his mother, to visiting Robben Island in Cape Town, I will never forget it. I can’t wait to go back! It’s such an amazing place.
A lifelong dream is realized when you do a customized itinerary with Hills of Africa. We received the royal treatment at every camp from the wonderful staff and the great food. You realize that the world isn’t as big as we think when you meet people from all over the world at each safari camp, adding a special dimension to the overall trip. The utter amazement of seeing wild animals in their ecosystem — seeing elephants and hippos walk next to your tent at night and hear the lions roar in the distance. One of the funniest moments is when a hippo rose out of the water right next to our boat at Great Plains. We can’t say enough great things about Tintswalo Safari Lodge — it was our best room, best food, best wildlife experience and best luxury overall. Next trip? Gorillas in East Africa!
We traveled to Zambia for a rather quick trip of only 7 days. While we only spent 7 days on the ground we returned with a months worth of memories. The staff at Hills of Africa went out of their way to arrange a trip that was magical from the first day to the last. We were lucky enough to see amazing sites, get close (verrrrrry close in some cases) to some of the most magnificent wildlife in the world, and bivouac in camps that were plush without removing you from the essence of Africa. We went to Africa with very high expectations. The people at Hills of Africa promised a lot. They delivered more.
I can’t THANK YOU Enough!!! We loved it. Carolyn and I had a River Rafting ride of a life time. Changed my life and how I look at things as much as any part of the trip. I am sending your name and co. out to all my friends and family. YOU and your entire staff in all areas have really won the day with me.
Sandy, Amy and all Hills of Africa Travel, we had the absolute BEST time on this trip. It is, without a doubt, the most perfect experience we have had on any of our international travels. All the planning and attention to detail more than paid off for the headaches in doing so. As we repeatedly said to each other the entire trip “There is nothing we could have changed or done differently”. Pamela was such a knowledgeable guide for Cape Town and the Winelands. I took copious notes so as not to forget the information she was delivering. We were grateful for all our guides through airports, security, customs, and VISA acquisition. It’s the only way to travel stress free, and we thank you and Amy for the excellent job you did supplying us with dependable contacts. Often our contacts were helping those whose contacts never showed up. We never felt abandoned or concerned with our environment. Hills of Africa gave us the trip of a lifetime. Our experiences in South Africa have set the bar on quality time spent in a far off country.
Read more on Steve & Jeannie’s experience on their African Safari Vacation click here
Uganda stole our hearts. The people were just amazing and always smiling. One of our favorite guides on this trip was Eric in Uganda. He was a former guide and ranger to the gorillas, so very knowledgeable and was able to help us decide which trek was the best fit for us. He also was in contact with our trek guide on the trails and checking on how we were doing. The gorilla trek in the Bwindi Impenetrable forest of Uganda was one of the most memorable experiences we have ever had. If you can work this into your visit to Africa, then it is a must do experience.
Everything was just perfect and Sandy and Amy could not have been more helpful and attentive to our needs. They were able to take out all the stress of planning such an extensive trip and made it the most memorable trip of our lifetime. We would change nothing! Hills of Africa Travel made our trip a seamless experience. We were met by someone who helped us out at each airport, escorted us through immigration/customs point and handed us off to our guide who took over from there. Thank you for that!
Traveling to Africa was on our bucket list and it did not disappoint as we traveled to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana. The greatest impact on us was the people, their stories, water conservation and the plight of the rhinos.
There were so many animals that we got to see at The Hide in the Hwange National Park and we got to see a cheetah with her cubs at Mapula Lodge. We loved the location and luxury at Notten’s Bush Camp and what a nice surprise was the candlelit dinner for our anniversary at The Hide. Thank you!
– September 2019
An African adventure had been for years on our bucket list and the opportunity to experience this continent with both old and new friends, particularly also being with a seasoned, proactive and confident travel expert was reason enough to jump at this opportunity. Additionally, we were keenly attracted to the fact it would be a trip with only eight people, one genuinely focused on authenticity, affording us the real true feel of Africa.
Conversing and corresponding with Sandy and Amy at Hills of Africa was never a hassle, negative, or unpleasant. THE MANNER IN WHICH WE WERE TREATED FROM START TO FINISH WAS JUST EL PERFECTO and we so appreciate it.
We were pleasantly pleased with the 100% proactive, positive and productive manner in which we were treated and advised by Pamela, Sandy, and Amy. All bases were covered well in advance, no detail seemed to be overlooked, communication and updates steadily flowed with us from them, and Lydia joins me in sincerely expressing our genuine heartfelt gratitude to our three new best friends for their tireless efforts and travel expertise aplenty yielded substantial dividends for us in Africa.
South Africa was absolutely amazing! I fell in love with the country. In fact, I want to move there. (I’m actually pretty serious.) I loved Kruger. The accommodations were beautiful. It was such a wonderful experience. Thank you for everything you did to make it so special.
We are so sad that today is our last Safari day. Saw a massive elephant crossing yesterday …there were at least 100 elephants and babies…. and our boat was right where they landed in the mud hole. So beautiful to see them so happy and thriving. We have so enjoyed Africa and all of its people, animals and culture. So sad to leave however we will be back. Thank you again for all the fantastic planning and all the wonderful treats along the way. I have saved all of your notes, photographs and will put them in a book along with some very special pictures. We are grateful for all of you and your attentiveness and efforts to make our trip so special and memorable, and as we’ve always said , it was a trip of a lifetime!
I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to many truly amazing places thus far in my lifetime, but it’s taken me until now to set foot on the African continent. Finally, everything fell into place to make it happen this past month. I had the time (always the hardest part about getting away!) and an enthusiastic travel companion, and the trip fit in perfectly with my personal agenda of doing some reading up on International Wildlife Law during summer break. What better way to follow up reading about wildlife than by hanging out with the elephants and leopards themselves? After landing in South Africa and spending our sixth wedding anniversary at African Rock Hotel in Johannesburg, my husband Seth and I headed to Zimbabwe. The chance to be with the animals in their own environment is an experience that I wish each person could have at some point during his or her lifetime. We encountered all kinds of animals — animals I didn’t even know existed before this trip. And we did so quietly and respectfully, mindful not to intrude upon them or disrupt nature in progress. We were there simply to bear witness. I remain in awe of the power and peace one finds co-existing in the wilderness.
To read more of Sharon’s experience in Africa, click here.
It is the trip of a life time and we want to go back in a few years, as we fell in love with the countries we visited and the people – from our guides (Pam, Liese, safari guides) to the people in the village near the River Club and in Soweto. Seeing the animals in their natural habitats never stopped thrilling us. Every minute was perfect and went off without a hitch, and we cannot thank you enough for that. Thank you so very much for planning this trip for us. If you are ever in my area, please let me know as I’d love to meet you.
I am headed home to Charlotte tomorrow. Just wanted you to know your entire Hills of Africa team has been unbelievable. Your choice of bed and breakfasts boutiques in South Africa have been first class. The owners give 100% to please especially the Three boutique B&B in Cape Town. Mike, the tour guide for our Table mountain hike was wonderful today as was Natasha in Joburg and yesterday’s Cape Tour guide. Your team here in Africa has been quick to handle any last minute problems we have encountered. What a wonderful team of folks you have put together. I have had a lovely time.
The trip was wonderful, especially the safari! I miss the animals already! All went well; it was just too short (not surprising, I’m sure). The people of South Africa were absolutely wonderful – welcoming, hospitable and very kind. Thanks again
You put together a fantastic journey for us that we’ll never forget. We tried to figure out something to complain about but absolutely nothing came up! It was just great…
Watch the video to for more of Paul’s comments on his trip to Africa!
On a recent trip to Africa with the Give Movement Journey, I was inspired to work with the women at the market in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and to see the big game animals on safari. The element that had the greatest impact on me was seeing the animals up close and personal – brought out gratitude in me for all that we have. I even had an up close and personal conversation with an elephant at the safari camp one afternoon. From the safari tents to the camp chefs, it was all the best. The tour guides exceeded my expectations – very personable, engaging and conversational. They knew A LOT! I’d love to go back to Johannesburg to explore some of the archeology and take another safari to see the animals I didn’t get to see!
Working with Sandy and Amy from the Hills of Africa team was a highlight.
Wow…what an amazing trip I had! I loved every minute of it! I can see how people get addicted to Africa!!! I think you will be hearing from me again really soon!!! Thanks so much for all of your help!!!
Our trip to Africa was an incredible experience. From reading and hearing the stories of South Africa to seeing Victoria Falls, going on game drives to shark cage diving, and tasting the food and wine to interacting with the local people, it was a trip I’ll treasure forever. Every single person we encountered was just wonderful.
Special thanks to all our tour guides as they really took care of us.
We were also very impressed with the hospitality in each of the places we stayed. Our experience at Sabi Sabi was beyond incredible. At Four Rosemead Guest House we appreciated all the help and suggestions we had from all the girls there. They were just wonderful.
I hope to have the opportunity to see more of Africa in the very near future. I definitely want to go back during the summertime.
The reason I booked with Hills of Africa was because I found them online and after my first contact with them I was impressed by their customer service and knowledge. You all were comprehensive in your planning and prepared us for everything. Your customer service was beyond anything I have ever worked with. You were truly excited and concerned about our trip and did not treat us as just another customer.
We had guides meet us in places we were not expecting, just to be there if we needed anything! The guides were always polite and professional, on time , and very helpful with all questions. I would use your agency in a heartbeat again and I recommend you to everyone who looks at my pictures. Hopefully some of them will use your services. Thanks.
To read more about Susan’s 18-day African safari vacation, and to view her complete, customized itinerary, click here.
Thank you for arranging an amazing trip. We don’t really have a standard of comparison for this kind of travel. This trip was a step (or two or three) more luxurious than we are used to taking. We are not accustomed to private tours and airport pickups. Those have been rare, specific treats. On this trip we became accustomed to having someone looking out for us at every step of the way. Everyone we dealt with was first rate and our experiences wonderful because of them. The hotels and lodges were extraordinary. Again, thank you for an amazing trip.
WOW! You girls put together an AMAZING itinerary for our trip to South Africa! My husband told me that it was the most fantastic trip we had ever taken. Considering that we’ve been travelling together for 21 of our 41 years—that’s HUGE! I cannot thank you enough for the arrangements you made. The itinerary gave us such a wonderful perspective of the different landscapes, cultures, cuisine, wine and people of South Africa. Your choice of lodging was impeccable. Each one outdid the previous one. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. Thanks to you, we truly had a trip of a lifetime!
Hills of Africa (HOA) provided the most amazing service, from the moment we began considering destinations until the day we departed Zimbabwe for home! They asked the right questions, and gave us just the right amount of information to make informed choices about our family safaris in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Once those decisions were made, HOA took care of everything and gave us regular updates and necessary information along the way. They let us know exactly what we needed to do to make our trip go smoothly, then ensured that it did. Not only was every detail attended to, but every promise was kept and every guide and driver provided was simply superb- friendly, well-informed and professional. Plus, everywhere we went, we were greeted by warm, personal notes from Sandy and her staff (and more than a few wonderful gifts as well!)
Every one of our accommodations was different in its own special way, but each was simply superb. I cannot say enough wonderful things about HOA. On top of all this, HOA managed somehow to arrange for us to see the most amazing array of animals you can imagine, including the “magnificent seven” on more than one occasion.
I will certainly be using them again on my next trip to Africa (which, I hope, will be soon!).
We had a wonderful trip to South Africa. You did a great job of selecting the hotels. We very much enjoyed each one we stayed at — each had its own special charm that set it apart from the others, and all were characterized by personable and pleasant service. The trip along the Garden Route was truly gorgeous. At Grootbos, in addition to enjoying our wonderful little cottage, we took a ride in a Land Rover through the “fynbos,” toured the interesting milkwood forest, rode horses, and saw whales and dolphins and sharks on a cruise out into the ocean. In Cape Town, we rode the cable car to the top of Table Mountain, hiked along the top of the mountain, visited the shops and new waterfront, and relaxed in the Hemingway House sipping Rooibos Tea and reading books. Thanks for all your help!
Thank you, thank you, thank you so much. We had an incredible time. It was perfect, so well orchestrated, no glitches at all. The kids loved it. My husband and I loved it. We all want to go back again and again. The people were wonderful. You’ll have to help us plan the next wonderful trip
What a surprise when my two daughters took me on a safari for my 80th birthday. It was the best trip ever! I saw so many great animals and had a fantastic time with my two grandchildren and my two daughters. Thanks to the people at Royal Madikwe, they really made us feel special and were wonderful to all of us. Thank you for an unforgettable, once-in- a-lifetime experience.
Our trip was AMAZING! We had the best time and it’s hard to pick favorite places or activities… BUT, Jamala probably takes the cake. It was incredible. Great accommodations, food, staff, amazing setting – the watering hole made animal sightings an all-day event—not just on game drives. We felt like a family there. We lucked out and were their only guests (except for our first night), and we had the place to ourselves. Niko, the general manager, in particular, made it the best. Birkenhead House, Babylonstoren, and Fancourt Manor House were all spectacular, and we’d HIGHLY recommend them, too. The staff at O On Kloof was great at helping us with reservations and information. The welcome goodies at every hotel were such sweet gestures.
We just got back from South Africa and our minds are blown. It was awesome and all the arrangements you helped us with were perfect. We would gladly recommend any of them. And we’ll be in touch for our return trip!
Thank you so much!
Every year my Dad and I go on an adventure somewhere in the world. We’ve scuba dived in Cozumel, Mexico, hiked the Swiss Alps, and rafted the Grand Canyon. We were desperate for our next adventure, and South Africa/Victoria Falls was perfect for us. We got our adrenaline kick with shark cage diving, bungee jumping, and watching a hyena walk through our camp as we were eating dinner. Our cultural fix came from the many talented guides who helped educate us as we explored. There was also copious amounts of delicious wine in Stellenbosch, steak and seafood in Cape Town, and a Native American themed burger joint in the bush near Kruger. For us it was a perfect mix of adventure, comfort, and the exciting newness of traveling to an exotic yet modern destination.
Dear Sandy, Replying to your email will be an absolute pleasure for me! Any chance to re-live some of the life altering experiences that my family and I had on our ” Hills of Africa” safari is most welcomed. Nothing can beat watching the African sunrise over the Okavango Delta with loved ones or feeling the exhilaration of a charging elephant testing the abilities of our dedicated guide as we back up quickly down the road! Nothing compares to the playful antics of leopard cubs wrestling in the tall savanna grass! When will we ever get another chance to view the majesty of a pride of lions against a backdrop of acacia and baobab trees or a family of cheetahs lounging on a termite mound before an evening of hunting impala.
The magic of Africa now runs through me as surely as if I were a child of the Kalahari leaving my footprints next to the spoor of the hyaena. This same magic that rekindled the passions of my daughters and wife for nature and the great outdoors. Everyone needs to share the experiences of a trip like this with their loved ones. It was unforgettable, spiritually uplifting, and truly just fodder for the soul. Throw in a couple of world cup soccer games and I believe one has found the formula for the perfect holiday!
Many thanks to the “Hills of Africa” people who made this trip a reality for my family. Thanks to the staff of the Chitabe, Tubi Tree and Duma Tau camps for the meals, the dancing and entertainment , and the camaraderie. Thanks to the extremely knowledgeable guides for teaching us the species and the environmental impact of everything we do. Lastly, thank you Sandy for helping us get through a very trying time when we thought all the preparation would be for naught after we missed our flight. I can’t wait to schedule our next trip to Cape Town or Kruger or to recommend your company to friends.
My friend wanted to go to Africa for her 50th birthday, I have always wanted to do a safari, so it was a win-win! The friendliness of the people in Kenya and Tanzania had the greatest impact on me while we were on our African safari.
We saw so many animals on our game drives (we loved seeing all the cats!) Solomon was the best game drive guide we could have hoped for. He knew (and spotted) every animal, bird, tree, etc. He included us in the experience by letting us try to spot animals and he took us to what he thought would be the best spots and he was correct. We dubbed him King Solomon!
One of the funniest moments was when my roommate and I heard a bush baby outside our tent, I wish we had been filming ourselves!
I can’t wait to return to Africa although I loved Tanzania!
Thank you for making our trip to South Africa and Botswana fantastic. The itinerary was carefully planned to include exactly what we wanted to see and do; and everything was carried out according to plan. We are so glad that you are already preparing our next trip to this incredible continent. Thank you again.
Sandy and her team at Hills of Africa Travel planned a perfect honeymoon for us. From our safari in Kruger National Park to the beautiful and pristine beaches of Mauritius, our honeymoon was the ideal combination of an exciting adventure and relaxing lazy days on the beach. The accommodations were top notch and our itinerary was well thought out. In addition, their knowledge of the region helped us prepare in advance and built up the excitement for what was a first class trip. When one of our flights was delayed their team on the ground in South Africa graciously picked us up at the airport for an impromptu and informative tour of the city instead of us having to wait hours at the busy airport for our flight.
Traveling to Africa has been a dream of mine for some time. The scenery, the people, the differences all attracted me. This journey certainly gave me a renewed appreciation of the freedoms and opportunities we have in the US. I booked with Hills of Africa Travel because Sandy rocks! I know and trust her. My trip was perfect…nothing more could have been done to make it any better!!
You guys set the standard. Your attention to detail and personal touch were amazing.
When people say Africa is unforgettable, it is an understatement! What a trip of a lifetime this was. From the beautiful stay at Abbey Manor to the amazing last stop at Kanga Bush, we were overwhelmed and amazed!
Every guide you arranged for us was so knowledgeable and personable. The way the trip was arranged was also just perfect.
To end our safari experience with Kanga camp was perfect! Our guide Bono, again, was amazing!
The most memorable experience at the Kanga camp was our last night with “KUTS”! (Kanga under the stars). To see all of the time and effort the staff went through for just us, brought tears to our eyes! The meal and setting was something unforgettable! All and all, except for the long jet rides over and back, it was the greatest experience of our lives.
Again thank you for all your time and effort and all the extras for this great trip!
Before we even left for our extraordinary vacation, we knew we would want to return to Africa – and, now, we can’t wait for that to happen! Hills of Africa did a superb job putting together our itinerary for Cape Town and the Winelands. In Cape Town we had a Food Tasting tour that most tourists would never experience. It is impossible to describe the wonderful history of food that is part of Cape Town’s heritage. And seeing the penguins (up close and personal) was a special treat! We stayed in Franschhoek in the Winelands – what a lovely, charming town. Very reminiscent of Napa Valley in California. The hotels we stayed in were 5 Star, but our favorite, by far, was Leeu House in Franschhoek. Truly 5 Star++++. We didn’t want to leave. The wineries in Cape Town are beautiful, and their wines are delicious…..wish we could have brought back more bottles with us! We even had a chocolate tasting at the first winery; learned – and tasted – so much. And our guides took extra-special care of us – can’t thank Ryan and Shelly enough. Our trip to South Africa exceeded our expectations. As a travel agents, we work with all the tour operators in the world – Hills of Africa is hands down, our first choice for any travel in Africa!! Thank you, most sincerely from our hearts, for creating this wonderful memory……
Our inspiration to visit Africa came from wanting to learn more about the people and the country — what impact Apartheid had on life, what has happened since 1994 and what the future may hold. Our view around political, social and economical aspects of the country have all changed since our trip. Loved all the little surprises – personal notes, gifts and treats in our room compliments of Hills of Africa. Seeing the animals in their natural habitat, whether it was on the Zambezi River or the land safaris as well as engaging with the guides and people we met were some of the best moments of our trip overall. We can’t wait to return to Cape Town and explore other areas of the country. Thank you Hills of Africa for all the information sent ahead of time, we were well prepared for this great trip!
We absolutely loved every minute and cannot wait to go back with Cailin. So many of our jeep mates were on their 6th or 7th trip to Africa and we met a tour operator from Melbourne who was on his 60th visit. You’ll have to give us some ideas for say 3 years from now, maybe sticking to the Malaria free areas, and bringing Cailin and my in laws along. Thank you again for all of your wonderful guidance and a flawless execution.
As for the details, the game viewing at both Mombo and Zarafa were unbelievable. On our first drive, we saw a cheetah, 2 male lions, and 4 lionesses with 7 cubs! The next morning we saw Pula with her cub with a fresh kill, which she proceeded to drag into the bush. We had the privilege of watching the two of them for three days…it was amazing. I think both places spoiled us forever in terms of wildlife!
On another note, we could not have been luckier with the weather. Not too cold at night on safari (45 to 50, but not freezing), and low 80’s during the day and sunny and 70 most of the time on the Cape. Only one day of rain the entire trip, and it was in wine country, so it just gave us an excuse to drink more wine 🙂
As for the rest, I stumbled across a “Best of” list we had done for our tour operator upon our return from Australia a few years ago. We had such fun reading through it, so we thought we’d repeat the activity for this trip and share it. Hope you enjoy it! There’s also a few constructive points at the end, but all were minor.
We cannot wait to go back!
Thanks again to you both and all of your staff.
BEST ROOM The Maharani Suite at La Residence TIED with the tent at Zarafa (except for the bed — see below)
BEST FOOD EXPERIENCE The foodie tour of cape town — especially the Samoosas and meeting Sandile; close second was the Spice Route charcuterie tasting and The Old Biscuit Mill market.
BEST DINING EXPERIENCE The Bush Dinner at Zarafa for the location/ambience and some of the best Duck Vindaloo I’ve ever had — including in London; Loved the atmosphere and food at Babel
BEST BREAKFAST EXPERIENCE Formal breakfasts on the decks at Mombo and Zarafa the last morning at each when we skipped game drives; Birkenhead house — how they get flaky croissants in all that humidity is amazing to me
BEST MEAL OVERALL Babel and Jordan were amazing; the Greenhouse was incredibly inventive but still tasted amazing too; but Pot Luck was the overall winner – unbelievable
BEST SINGLE FOOD ITEM Cannot pick one — that milk tart and duck vindaloo at Zarafa; the fish at Babel, the Samoosas on the foodie tour and EVERYTHING at Pot Luck Club
BEST LOCATION We just loved Mombo and the deck — maybe because it was the first camp. And also Birkenhead House and those views — room was small, but so thoughtfully designed and the view!
BEST LUXURY The five best at Birkenhead House was perhaps the best massage I’ve ever had
BIGGEST (GOOD) SURPRISES That Bush Dinner at Zarafa; the Boma dinner at Mombo; the GMs at Zarafa (Willem & ) and La Residence (Andrew)
BEST TOURING De Toren wine tasting was unbelievable, especially the viticulturalist; loved getting to do the vertical tasting; the chocolate and charcuterie tastings at Spice Route were a very pleasant surprise
COOLEST EXPERIENCE Besides seeing Pula and her cub, it was a tie between the herd of elephants surrounding us in full moonlight on the night drive, followed by spotting the two male lions that had eluded us all day (Zarafa) AND being surrounded by three herds of elephants at breakfast one morning while we were out of the jeep. Crazy!
BIGGEST FOOD DISAPPOINTMENT The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais was really not good. They just tried too hard. Beautiful plating and crazy creative, but didn’t really taste good. I’m sure we just hit an off night, so that was a bummer.
BIGGEST HOTEL DISAPPOINTMENT None — they were all amazing, but one small thing was that the pools were not very inviting at either camp. I cannot imagine how hard it is to keep them clean, but with a film of dirt over the bottom of all the pools, we didn’t really want to swim. Maybe a brown pebbled finish would help disguise it and make it more inviting?
CAN’T WAIT TO RETURN Zarafa Dhow Suite with our Daughter
BEST THING OVERALL All of our guides (Moss, Reuben, Pam) and the staff at all of the hotels — unbelievably great through and through; And Amy’s help preparing us in advance of the trip — I was blown away when she sent me pictures of the charging ports — it was perfect! I shared that story with a few folks and they were majorly impressed.
FUNNIEST MOMENT – Our second night at Mombo — “Steve…roll over; stop snoring.” He wakes up. I realize it’s not him! It’s apparently a very large animal snoring under our tent. It sounded like it was right next to me! When the guides came to wake us up, they said…don’t come out alone, there are two cape buffalo under your tent. So now we know Steve snores like two Cape Buffalo 🙂 Made for a great story (for everyone but Steve) on the rest of the trip!
THE FEW MINOR THINGS THAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER
- The beds are Zarafa were crazy uncomfortable — really hard and the pillows were really thin.
- The towels at Mombo seemed like they had fabric softener in the them and they wouldn’t absorb much water; and the towels at Zarafa were really worn out and a bit stained.
- The bush breakfast at Zarafa was disappointing — except for the passion fruits and yogurt, things were tough or cold by the time we ate it; coffee was good
- Our first dinner at Zarafa I had a steak that was so tough I could barely cut it; but the roasted vegetable tart and the milk tart with praline crust for dessert were amazing, as were all the other meals — especiallly the Bush Dinner — see above!
- The dining room chairs at Zarafa were more for lounging around a campfire and were very unsuited to be able to have a comfortable dinner. Fortunately, we only did lunch at that table, but it was really uncomfortable.
WHAT WE WISH WE HAD BEEN BETTER PREPARED FOR
- How bumpy the safari drives are. I didn’t realize just how jostled we would get. Not that it would be different, or I would change anything; but being mentally prepared would be good
- How long we’d sometimes stay out on game drives — they tell you you’ll be back for brunch, but one day at Zarafa we were out for 7 hours — a good problem to have from a game viewing perspective, but my hunger for something beyond the bush breakfast made me a little grouchy and overly jostled being out that long. Our last day at Zarafa we finally just skipped the last game drive in the afternoon and the next morning; sunset on the deck and a fabulous morning breakfast were the best possible way to spend our time; I wish we hadn’t been so overly gung ho to go on every drive and had just enjoyed more; it was surprisingly exhausting as most days we only ended up with maybe one hour after lunch to rest before going out again — at either camp
ONLY THINGS WE WISH WE’D DONE DIFFERENTLY
- Too much gourmet dining in wine country; Jordan and Babel ROCKED. We should have planned to skip dinners and just pick up meats and cheeses for a small dinner on our balcony or in our room. We were so full for Foliage, La Residence was only ok, and The Tasting Room was such a disappointment. And there were so many great artisinal markets…same on the day tour of the Cape.
- More interactions with wine makers/viticulturalists in wine country; too many were straight tastings
Sandy planned an amazing trip tailored to exactly what we wanted on our honeymoon – relaxation, adventure and romance.
Going to sleep in a tree house in Botswana to the sound of lions roaring and waking up to the image of a giraffe walking past was just one of the memories we will never forget.
We had the most amazing time and everything was so perfect — thank you so much. All of our travels went smoothly and everyone was so nice and interesting and engaging — we cried (at least I did) when we left Elephant Camp because we loved everyone so much! We were told by a lot of people that the food would be amazing — but wow! Every meal was spectacular. I could go on and on … Thank you! Thank you!
Sandy and Amy, thank you so much for an incredible trip. Steve and I have come to depend on you for expert, professionally executed excursions. After many overseas experiences, we both agree you are the best. Guides, drivers, excursions are perfection. Everyone shows up on time, we are never left hanging and having to scramble, accommodations are well thought out and meet, but often exceed, our expectations. There is nothing quite like walking into a hotel suite, exhausted, and finding pure luxury. You have managed to pull this off every single time. Thank you for an amazing trip. You are the perfect travel team, Steve and I are so lucky to have found you. We are anxious to start discussing our next trip!
This trip was absolutely amazing and I cannot thank everyone at Hills of Africa enough for planning it for us! If I had to choose my favorite part of the trip (and there were many) it would be the visit to Gotu Village and the Kachuru Primary School. It was so touching to see the people and especially the children. They were so excited to see us and let us put stickers on their hands (and some faces too)!
The school visit was quite overwhelming for me and I cried at seeing their school and what they have to deal with on a daily basis. The one thing I did take away is that they are a very happy people and very welcoming to strangers. The headmaster was grateful for all the school supplies that my kids’ classes had collected and was amazed at how much we had brought for them. We made a monetary donation as a group to the school and also to a recent widow in the village.
Another experience that was tops for me was what I call the Morning Animal Symphony at Joys Camp. Every morning at about 4:30 the birds and animals were waking up and the noises were unbelievable!!!!! I taped them and have listened to them quite often since I have gotten back. It really makes me smile.
Thank you for the trip of a lifetime! My husband and I plan on taking the kids there when they are older and although I did get to see the Big 5 I have to get back and see a cheetah!
I wanted to celebrate my 50th birthday with a special adventure! So many amazing wildlife experiences, it’s hard to pick just one. Lions “honeymooning” at Lewa, tracking leopard at Samburu … and then sheer numbers of animals and variety at Masai Mara. Our itinerary was well planned and thought out, starting at Lewa and ending with Mara was perfect. We were always in good hands with guides, staff and accommodations.
It was our honeymoon dream to visit Africa and our trip was wonderful! We only wish we could have stayed longer. Both the culture and wildlife had a big impact on us, and we loved getting to know the people. We can’t wait to return to safari in another part of Africa!
Thank you for planning the trip of a lifetime! My husband and I traveled to Tanzania and Kenya with Hills of Africa in January 2007. We were thrilled with the trip, particularly with the excellent and organized itinerary, the beautiful accommodations and most importantly, our fantastic guide Felix. Words cannot describe how comfortable and safe we felt in his hands (and the hands of Hills of Africa). We saw more animals than we thought possible, including giraffe, cheetah, elephants, lions, buffalo, hippos and even a leopard — all within just a few feet. We ate the most delicious food in the most beautiful settings, such as breakfast right in the middle of the Serengeti with zebra and wildebeest by our side. It is also worth mentioning that our entire trip went off without a glitch and we were able to relax and just enjoy it. To this day, we watch the DVD of our photos when we are feeling blue and it puts a smile on our face instantly. We would wholeheartedly recommend Hills of Africa to anyone interested in visiting the region! THANK YOU SANDY.
I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the trip to Tanzania. It was everything I was hoping it would be. Our guide Venent was amazing. He was informative, kind and patient. He took care of us like family. The only thing I would have changed about the trip was more time… I loved having the animals so close to camp. All of the staff at the Noana Moru camp were incredible. They went out of their way to make sure we were comfortable. And honestly–when we pulled into camp and took a look at the place- I was a little nervous– I am not much of a “rustic” kind of gal. When it was time to leave, I was in tears. They are such a warm, friendly and happy staff.
Wow! Warren and I were totally bowled over by absolutely everything connected with our recent trip to Africa: the accommodations, the amenities, the people, the food. You name it, and we loved it. Thank you so much for all the work that went into preparing such a mind-boggling vacation. The logistics alone would have put us into the nuthouse. Mr Mpisi, amongst many many others, changed our lives forever. Thank you for arranging for the visit to Monde Village at Victoria Falls – that was one of the highlights of our trip. I can’t thank Hills of Africa Travel enough!
Thanks again for all of the extras that you had arranged!! It made our trip extra special at every place we stayed.
Chuck and I are thinking of planning another trip in a couple of years—we are thinking the Serengeti this time (and everyone that we met loved Cape Town so maybe we can add that in somehow).
The &Beyond camp was great. We loved the personal attention we got and the wildlife in the Mara was incredible. We arrived about a week after the migration, so we didn’t get to see many of the wildebeest, but the rest of the animals more than made up for it! We were able to see the leopard on multiple days and found the cheetah! The walking safaris were a great addition to all the game drives. Especially after all the good food we ate there.
Zanzibar and The Hideaway were beautiful. Our room had a great view of the water and the gardens. The food was delicious and the dive shop was great. We ended up going on 4 dives while there- two dives off of Tumbatu and two off of Mnemba. The guys that ran the shop were great- very professional, good rental equipment, and reasonable prices. The reefs and fish were so colorful!!
Thank you so much for planning this trip for us! It was even more incredible than either of us could have imagined! We have so many great memories that will last a lifetime.
LOVE my zebra and giraffe. What wonderful memories of an amazing trip! Start to finish you gave us all we expected and more! Your thoughtful care and deep knowledge meant we could relax and soak in the wonders of Africa. Thank-you!
This was a once in a lifetime experience to see the gorillas of Uganda. While my trip was inspired as a mission trip to Tororo, Uganda to see what the Send 56 Missionary Training Team is accomplishing, I was able to see the great commission work being done there. I was then able to enjoy the excellent food, service and view over the lush valley at Mahogany Springs Safari Lodge, where I also had the best room in Bwindi!
The Batwa Pigmy Walk and Gorilla Trek had excellent guides, knowledgeable and caring and I thought the Gorilla Trek was the best wildlife experience and over all the best thing on my trip. I can’t want to return to Uganda!
Our son gave us a Photo Safari gift which Hills of Africa developed private tours around the safari.Our perception of Africa has changed dramatically! The countryside, the beautiful vistas, THE PEOPLE, the animals were all wonderful. We honestly have never enjoyed a journey as much as we did Africa. It was really a magical time and we hope to return again. We were very satisfied with all aspects of the trips, from the pre-planning through the entire trip. Hills of Africa was recommended by another agency who is planning our Wine Club river cruise to Bordeaux. I was told I would not be disappointed; I wasn’t! It was truly a partnership between Hills of Africa and us. Amy Green was superb. I don’t believe there was anything Hills of Africa could have done to improve our travel experience. Everything was wonderful and well organized. The personal welcome notes at each segment of our journey was a very thoughtful touch. Every segment of our trip was perfect!!!!!
I have always wanted to go to Africa…it had been a lifelong dream, but the planning and know how all seemed daunting. Every experience of working with Hills of Africa Travel, from top to bottom was effortless, delightful, and exciting. It made us very spoiled with trip planning… So much has changed since we returned from Africa; I re-connected to my business, my dreams, and the big why I do what I do in this world. It was a rich experience that would be cheapened trying to find words. We loved working with Hills of Africa and decided we had to work with them as they were very niched and I knew they were great at their specificity, along with having an African owner.
The trip was amazing. We’re so glad we did the elephant adoption at Sheldrick Orphanage. Being in a smaller group enabled us to see the whole facility and other animals, as well as our adopted eles. Of all the camps, our favorite was Lewa Camp. The staff checked on us morning, noon and night. Norman was the best guide of the trip, and worked very hard for us to see everything. And a ‘gold star’ to Chef Susan for her special attention to Sharlene…phenomenal job and much appreciated. – The Shermans
Lemala Kuria Hills was lovely, from the wonderful room with breathtaking views to the staff who were so very accommodating. Chef Masala was amazing. There was an abundance of wildlife here that left us stunned. However, I must say the location of the Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater camp was outstanding. Being on the rim of the crater made park access amazingly easy!
A sequence of events best described as synchronicity led to Dave and me joining Hills of Africa Travel on their Soul Safari 2009. Having much in common, we struck up an online conversation beforehand (via our respective blogs, twitter and facebook), which quickly developed into a warm friendship. The Soul Safari concept held instant and powerful appeal, due to my spiritual curiosity and dedication to personal development, particularly since it was planned for two favorite (and first class) destinations. Reading Ainslie MacLeod’s book further enhanced my fascination, so we were delighted to accept Sandy and Meredith’s invitation to join them as their official photographers, and to meet them in person! The trip was a true inspiration and absolute joy (as the videos attest to ), leading to many lasting connections, including the one we share with Hills of Africa. This has soundly expanded the reach of our company (Outdoor Video & Photographic) to North America, while blessing us with the opportunity to share our love of Africa, its wildlife and culture, with others around the world. Apart from pampering and privilege, 2010 Soul Safari Transformation offers more fun, exploration and insight, as well as another fabulous benefit: a long-anticipated visit to Zimbabwe and Vic’ Falls. We can hardly wait!
Just wanted to thank you again for putting our Tanzanian adventure together for us. We were so thrilled with the experience – from the accommodations to the ever changing sky – but the most wonderful sensation was the incredible sense of freedom and wonder we experienced, with our heads popping up through the Land Cruiser’s top – breathing, smelling, listening and viewing all that the magic had to give us. It was a sensational sense of freedom and joy. We feel this everyday still! Hats off for giving us such an enriching birthday gift.
From the first morning in Johannesburg when our server smiled and stated “My purpose is to spoil you” we realized that this would be a great adventure thanks to Hills of Africa. Our first evening was at the luxurious Athol Place Hotel with a private and touching tour with Andre in Johannesburg. Then off to Victoria Falls where “Hippo Happy Hour” was included on our sunset cruise on the Zambezi River. Our private guide, Laura in Victoria Falls made sure we paused at every heart-stopping viewpoint. Our stay at the Gomoti Plains Camp on the Okavango Delta included being charged by the matriarch of an elephant herd, a lioness with her 5 cubs, a leopard reclining in a tree and the elusive hippo. The wonderful chefs are locals and we enjoyed amazing brunches and dinners along with the international fellows at the camp. “You know you’ve been in the bush when you leave and, instead of friends and family to wave goodbye, you have baboons, some kudu and a few warthogs to see you off”. As our small plane lifts off from the Okavango Delta it must be said, it was the adventure of a lifetime.
Our trip to South Africa was incredible! Your planning was superb and we loved our time both at Londolozi Tree Camp and Cape Town. We were in such awe over Londolozi, the animals, the people we met and the beauty of the bush. Cape Town was such a hit with Lezelle as our tour guide. She took us to all the right spots. Test Kitchen was a neat experience. Each bite of food was full of flavor and richness we had never experienced. Nothing could top this 40th birthday trip. We are glad to be back home with the kids. I have these fond memories stamped in my mind forever. Thank you for making this trip so perfect for us. We hope to go back as a family one day when our kids are much older.
This is just a quick note to say thank you to you and the Hills of Africa team for all the preparation and planning that went into Stuart’s surprise trip to Zambia on the Hills of Africa trip. You pulled off an amazing feat for his 50th birthday present by reuniting him with 2 of his best friends whom he hasn’t seen in over 10 years in the most amazing location. It was so difficult to keep it as a surprise for so many months but so worth it – he had a truly fantastic time at the crocodile farm, on the river, and, finally, at the Lafupa safari camp. I really can’t thank you enough, Sandy, and would wholeheartedly recommend you and the Hills of Africa team to anyone wishing to travel to Africa, especially for a special occasion.
My husband and I recently returned from South Africa. Sandy and her team at Hills of Africa Travel put together a spectacular travel plan that included two beautiful and luxurious safari camps (Tintswalo and Londolozi) and several days in Cape Town.
The attention to detail was just wonderful. There were notes and special touches at each camp, including a birthday cake and South African dancers at our first camp to specifically celebrate my husband’s birthday. It was so special.
We had a private tour guide in Cape Town that works with Sandy. Our guide picked us up each morning with one day being a tour of the winelands and the other day we spent touring the Cape of Good Hope. Sandy arranged for us to have a private lunch at the home of one of the top 10 chefs in South Africa, Bruce Robertson. Hills of Africa was also able to procure reservations to the top restaurant in Cape Town, including The Test Kitchen. BOTH EXPERIENCES WERE UNBELIEVABLE AND THEY WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED WITHOUT SANDY’S CONTACTS!!
Sandy makes you feel like an insider, not a tourist. We felt so taken care of. There was no detail overlooked with her planning. She sent us emails almost weekly updating us prior to our trip with information on how to pack and other details that were just essential for the trip planning. My husband and I have traveled all over the world and by FAR the trip that Sandy put together was our favorite. She has put together trips for our friends and the response has been equally as enthusiastic. She has such passion for what she does.
My wife has loved knowing about Africa since she was a small girl, and the beauty of nature, the variety of animals and their habitat had a great impact on me. The entire trip was full of great moments such as the hippos honking in the river next to our tent in the Serbian Walter North, the many people who waited for us at new locations (to help us through customs and in to new countries) and standing in the water next to Livingstone Island above the falls. To see the Ngorongoro Crater with so many species in a small area was one of the best locations of the entire trip. We really enjoyed meeting lots of interesting travelers as well as one of the best tour guides – Theo – at The Hyde. We can’t wait to return especially to Victoria Falls Hotel!
I must write to tell you what an absolutely extraordinary trip we had! Everything was absolutely wonderful and your meticulous and thoughtful planning made for a stress-free trip. I think I speak for most of the family when I say that our safari camp stays were the highlight of the trip — my favorite was Makalolo but Khoka Moya was superb as well. For me, the location of Makalolo and the iconic African landscape we were able to look out at every morning — plus the superb service and welcome from Amon and his team — made it truly a trip of a lifetime.
Hills of Africa provided by far, the best travel experience I have ever had. The amount of planning that went into the trip was just incredible and no detail was left unattended. They knew exactly how to provide the perfect travel adventure. And they are fun and easy to work with which is a bonus! Hills of Africa also supported businesses that helped the communities we were in, which is important to me. And they have the exact knowledge and expertise necessary to plan such trips and I would recommend them to anyone traveling to Africa.
Dave and I want to take this opportunity to thank you for everything you did in order that our trip to Uganda/Rwanda was beyond outstanding. We are well aware of how much time and attention to detail it takes to plan a trip like this, and we sincerely appreciate your efforts.
My trip was incredible. I have been in many countries in the world, but I have always dreamed of coming to South Africa and I finally made it. I am an older man so it has been a long wait. It definitely was worth the wait. I had a private tour of Johannesburg with Natasha, who was fantastic, a wonderful lady and tremendously knowledgeable. I couldn’t have asked for a better guide. I fell in love with the South African people. They will forever be in my heart as will Natasha. From there I went on a seven day safari at Tydon Safari Camp in Kruger National Park and Sabi Sands Game Reserve. My guides Steven, JD, and Drikus were great. Drikus and I bonded especially well. He called me his good luck piece, because every time I went out with him we had a great encounter. In Kruger we saw a female elephant named Stumpy. She had a little one about a year old. Drikus had not seen this elephant since the baby was born and was afraid she had died. She had part of her trunk cut off by a snare, so she had a hard time feeding properly which is why she was so small. I had up close and personal encounters with all the big five plus wild dogs.
All in all my trip to Africa was incredible and I want to thank you and your staff for arranging it for me. I hope to be back again in the not too distant future.
Kim Anderson, CA – client of Nancy Bloch, Globe Family Travel
We saw the big five, the small five, lion kills, cheetahs, a malachite kingfisher, a honey badger, a huge amount more and stayed in some amazing places. You did an amazing job on the whole thing, and we’re both really pleased and had an outstanding time. I’m grateful that you managed to pull off such an awesome experience both for the wedding and the honeymoon without any effort from me! Thanks!
There is not a single thing that I would have wished for differently. I will never forget all the little details that led us to have the most wonderful day. You also brought my mother’s dream to life too…..the magic of Africa really helped her recovery. Thank you Sandy – you did an outstanding job.
The entire trip was life changing. Visiting the chimps in Mahale, seeing the crossing in the Serengeti…and there is a long list that goes on from there. This was our second trip [with Hills of Africa Travel] and the first one was so good there was no one else we would trust with a vacation like the one we just returned from.
As we tell everyone, the trip exceeded all of our expectations and we loved all of Hills of Africa’s extra added touches. We are recommending you to EVERYONE! Another highlight from our trip is that we now have a greater understanding of Apartheid and its implications on all the peoples of South Africa.
I just had to write and say “Datende”! What a magnificent itinerary you arranged for me and Jim. We were simply in awe of how EVERYTHING came off without a hitch. I’m tired right now as I just got home about 3 hours ago, but wanted to take a minute to say THANK YOU for everything you did to make this a trip of a life time. We’ve already recommended your services to others we met throughout our journey. Thanks so much!!!!!!
Our African safari in May 2019 was inspired by my daughter wanting to go so we made it a mother/daughter trip. Our trip took us to South Africa and Zimbabwe and while on a safari game drive, we watched lions finishing off a meal while the hyenas stood around “laughing”, waiting for the leftovers. We could not have asked for a better guide than Mbongani at Simbavati River Lodge, he was wonderful, knowledgeable and entertaining! Our funniest moment happened on safari, I dropped by glove out of the Land Rover and a hyena picked it up. Another hyena grabbed one end of it and they ended up in a tug of war over my glove until it ripped in half. Each ran off with a half!
While at the Simbavati River Lodge (best location and best luxury), we saw 4 elephants walk across the river and started playing in the water right by the deck on our room.
This quote from my daughter says it well: “Take me back to my new favorite place. Seriously can’t believe how beautiful God’s creation is. It was completely unfenced land. The animals roam freely. There are preserves you can visit that are fenced, but that is basically a zoo. It is truly amazing to see these animals do what they were created to do.”
We just wanted to send a big thank you to you and your team for helping make our honeymoon so special and go so smoothly! We had an amazing trip and were so sad to come back to reality!
Thank you for all the thoughtful notes and gifts in each destination, we really appreciate the sentiments and all the work you put in for us!
Hi Sandy, There is so much we could say about our trip, all good, but we thought this might sum it up (below). I’ve attached some pictures too. I couldn’t decide on the pictures so I included a bunch. At Blaauwbosch there is a sunset and our Sundowners (cocktails on safari), our Cape Malay lunch (my sister and Gamidah and then the tree of us with Gamidah), our lunch at Kalp Bay (with Pam), shopping at Plett Bay and my daughter Emily with Dave.
Thanks to Hills of Africa we had a very unique and personalized experience on our visit to South Africa. We would never have been able to find all the wonderful places we visited without their invaluable advice. We even learned to cook a traditional Cape Malay meal in a home in the Bo Kaap District of Cape Town! Tour books don’t come close to what they did. We had a fairly rigid time line and lots of things we wanted to do. They put together a fabulous itinerary that not only allowed us to fit in all the things we wanted (touring, shopping, wineries, safari, etc…) but also gave us some flexibility to add things along the way. They booked us with hotels, game reserves and tour guides that they KNEW would be top notch. Hills of Africa met all our expectations and more. We can’t wait to go back
Life-altering stuff happens on safari and that’s why more people need to experience it. For me personally, celebrating a milestone birthday, in the most amazing fashion, orchestrated by Hills of Africa, with love and attention to every detail, was beyond impressive and beyond belief! I cannot thank you enough!!! XOXOX That day will live in my heart forever 🙂
We are home, although we really didn’t want to be. We had the most AMAZING time on our honeymoon and we can’t thank you and your team enough for planning such an incredible trip. Everything went exactly as planned and it was truly a trip of a lifetime. We can totally see how people get addicted to safaris because we already had conversations about how we can get back and do it again! We have so many incredible pictures. Thanks again for everything!”
Wow! I really don’t know what to say. We’re on our way back to the US today and I cannot believe this trip is over. I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful and perfect it was. Every place we stayed at was incredible. Thank you so much for all the planning and work. We truly had the trip of a lifetime
We seriously don’t even know what to say. Today was an amazing day. We were the ONLY guests at Royal Malewane today / tonight. They made our evening absolutely amazing. We were treated like royalty today. We saw this cheetah today on our afternoon game drive and came back to a special dinner with a private chef preparing a 4-course meal under the full moon for us. I just can’t explain to you how amazing this experience has been. You better start booking our next trip!
We loved (loved) our trip and are already starting to save up for our next trip! Pam, our guide in Cape Town was delightful…a wealth of information. It has been my dream for years to experience Africa – to see all the amazing animals. Traveling opens my experiences and how I interact with people. I learned a lot about myself on this trip – that I really like meeting new people! You came highly recommended and I liked Sandy the first time I spoke with her! Now I get the chance to recommend you to others!
It was spectacular. On a 1 – 10 basis, it was an 11. Loved the surprises throughout, loved how smoothly everything went. The suites and upgrades were unexpected and amazing. It was phenomenal.
Well, we officially did it. April Fool’s Day was our official 35th anniversary. Having celebrated it with a fabulous trip to Africa, it will be one to remember always. Bear and I truly want to thank you for having helped make our trip so memorable and so much fun. We are having a blast looking at all (over 5,000) of our pictures and telling everyone how fantastic the trip was. We were (originally) not keen on going, and now we look forward to thinking about another trip sometime in a couple of years. YOU made it happen! Thank you for all the diligent planning, the champagne, the flowers, the upgrades, and everything. And, a big thank you for our anniversary dinner in Victoria Falls. What a surprise when the waiter said the meal had been taken care of. You are the best!
The trip was absolutely AMAZING. We could not have been happier with our accommodations and appreciate all the notes and surprises along the way. Giraffe Manor was gorgeous and what a fun way to start off our African adventure. Mara Plains was spectacular and the level of service, quality of food, and experience was above and beyond our expectations. Our guide ended up being the camp manager, who went above and beyond to make the experience so unique and memorable.
The migration was indescribable and we still can’t get the pictures or our videos to do it justice. Marlin Lodge was very nice and it was such a treat to have all the surprises (and we loved having the last hut on the short row). The staff was very friendly and helpful and the food was really good, as well. Weather wasn’t as great there (and the water was a bit colder than I would normally like), but what a great, relaxing way to end our trip and enjoy the beautiful beaches of Mozambique.
Thank you for all your wonderful recommendations and for making this honeymoon a once in a lifetime adventure for us!
Hi Alex and Sandy. Thank you is not enough to say to you for planning this trip of a lifetime! Your attention to detail is unbelievable! We enjoyed every minute of this trip (except for the long flights!) You listened to what we wanted and customized a trip that we will never forget. You made sure that there was someone to meet us at every leg of our journey. Every single guide that we had was awesome!! I would not change a single thing about this trip. All of your recommendations were remarkable! So glad we decided to go with your choice of Nottens!! What a wonderful safari camp! We met such terrific people. The staff was beyond terrific, and our safari guide was the BEST!!!!! We were also very spoiled and impressed by the food at Nottens! Unbelievable, 5 star meals!!! I hated to leave!
I just wanted to take a long overdue moment and thank you, Sandy, Amy, and Susan, for the most wonderful trip of a life time and, yes, dreams! It was just perfect! Even the weather was fantastic! I think of the trip, and you guys, just about every day!
The memories and experience will last a lifetime! Thank you. Words seem so inadequate to express our appreciation of the fantastic trip you planned for us.
It was so unexpected to have a bottle of Champagne at the Lokuthula Lodge, and then the anniversary song/drums with special cake at the other camps! Oh, my! We were truly amazed at each experience.
The white water rafting was a good choice, for us, as an activity! I am glad that we physically, made and survived the 800-meter climb down, and up! The rafting itself was a ton of fun, especially since we got dumped on one of the level 5 rapids! Of course we purchased the DVD!
The safari portion was perfect, as were our guides, accommodations, and wildlife river crossings (yes! we saw two of them – some folks did not see any while at our camp!)
Thank you SO MUCH, for all your hard work, recommendations, and thoughtfulness in planning this trip of a lifetime.
Every aspect of the trip ,the choice of hotels, the guides, the people who met us and eased our way through the airports and transferred us to our hotels, the special dinner and lunch reservations, and any of an amazing number of details that made our trip go so smoothly was fabulous. We loved South Africa! The safari camp experience was beyond our “wildest” imaginations. We just loved it — the animals, the sights, the sounds, the amazing sunsets. The camps were great and we met some really fun people. Thank you so much for all you did to make this such a spectacular trip for us.
We loved returning to Cape Town as we had been there on previous business trips, but we really enjoyed spending time with Marcus and Mike, our Cape Town guides on this trip. What has changed for us after this trip is our awareness of South Africa’s beauty outside of Cape Town.
We loved our time at the Kwandwe Great River Lodge. While at Kwandwe, all of the game drives were awesome! We would highly recommend Kwandwe – fabulous landscape, wildlife, staff and food. The coffee and cocktail stops during morning and evening game drives were luxurious and then we even got surprised by the birthday treats and songs from the staff! One of the funniest moments was a young lion completely failing at a warthog attack attempt!
Start to finish it was an incredible trip!
From day one, EVERY meal we had was extraordinary. The prices were extremely reasonable and the quality and quantity of the servings was fabulous.
We had not been aware of how many magnificent mountains existed across South Africa. We enjoyed climbing them and the panoramic views they offered.
Every place you found for us to stay was terrific. Each catered to, and exceeded our every need and expectations. It would be hard to pick a favorite, but we could have stayed for a week at La Petite Dauphine. It was magical and luxurious; thanks so much for the upgrade. Also, thanks for the many gifts waiting for us in our rooms along the way.
You found excellent guides for us everywhere. We especially enjoyed touring with your private guide in Cape Town; is there anyone or anything she doesn’t know in Cape Town? She introduced us to the man who established the District 6 Museum and he treated us like family.
We met so many interesting people at each stop, both locals and fellow travelers. They all had great stories and experiences to share. Everyone was friendly and helpful.
It was a pleasure planning our journey with you and you have 100% satisfied customers.
Alan and Debra Ladwig, May 2018 Safari Trip
(VIP client of Jeannine Bottorff, Classic Family Journeys)
We were inspired to visit South Africa as it’s been a goal to go to Africa for years, and we wanted to reconnect with our friends there. Since our return, what has changed for us is our understanding of how both climate change impacts and water/population issues for others. We spent 4 nights in Cape Town and our best food experience was The Stack. While in Simon’s Town we were kayaking with the penguins which was cool!
Our best room was a tie between Laird’s Lodge and the chalet at the Kwandwe Great River. While at Kwandwe, we experienced a lioness with her cubs, a cheetah with cubs and elephants sparring.
The entire 2 weeks was an adventure and fun filled – everything was the best – the people, the weather, the wine, the sights, the animals, all of it!
When I first decided that South Africa would be my time away from everyday life, the Hills of Africa team (Meredith and Sandy) became my surrogate family to help me realize my “adventure of a lifetime”. My adventure was everything I anticipated and more. Andre, my SA guide, was instrumental in the “more” part of the journey. His wealth of knowledge and planning every day made each day a mini-adventure. For the first time, I truly enjoyed a holiday without any stress and complete enjoyment. The bonus was the personal growth gained during my journey.
Going to Africa on safari was on my bucket list of things to do! What I learned was that going on safari is not a one-time event. I fell in love with the country, the people and foremost the peace and serenity of nature.
The funniest thing that happened is that I got “kissed” by an elephant as part of the Elephant Experience at Victoria Falls – which was the coolest surprise for us. The most magical moment was seeing the stars in the night sky – breathtaking!
Everything about being part of the Give Movement Journey and going on an African safari exceeded my expectations which are ridiculously high to begin with — from the food at the Somalisa Experience to my room at The Residence in Johannesburg! I can’t wait to go back!
Michelle and I had a wonderful time on our Zimbabwe safari. Actually, that’s an understatement. We were blow away by the beauty and diversity of the landscape, the friendliness of the people, and the diversity of wildlife.
While Michelle had been to Africa before, this was my first time. In fact, I’d never been outside the U.S. Before visiting Africa I thought that the people would be uncivilized and anti-west, and I must admit, I was concerned about disease and my safety.
What I discovered was that it was quite the opposite. At every camp we visited, we were treated like family. We had access to filtered water and amazing fresh food at the camps. The guides were so knowledgeable and went out of their way to track the animals we wanted to see. I trusted Wilderness Safaris’ camps 100% with everything, and never felt unsafe. They are truly the nicest people / staff on the entire planet and catered to any and all of our individual needs.
Sandy and Mark, thank you for creating a dream African vacation for us! You took the time to listen to my concerns before the trip and we knew that if we ever needed anything from you while we were away, that you would be there for us.
We cannot wait to return to Zimbabwe!
Bazaruto was fabulous. Best breakfast of all, great food, great room, and great snorkeling. We’ve snorkeled in a lot of places, but a reef off an essentially deserted island was very cool—much more pristine than a lot of places in the Caribbean. Again, the food there was absolutely top notch, and it was clear they were trying very hard to please us. The only problem is it’s 9,000+ miles away from Houston, so it’s not a place we’d generally go to except as part of an African trip.
We recently worked with Andrea Ryder, owner of Ryder Travel in Cary NC, to create an unforgettable journey to Africa for her clients, Barb & Larry. Here’s what they had to say about their trip to Africa:
“We made it back safe and sound…and are totally transformed! Africa is indeed magical! This was our best vacation EVER…and we’ve been on some swell vacays! We can’t thank you enough for arranging an absolutely perfect itinerary. Every place, guide, activity, and meal was wonderful; the sequence was ideal. We saw amazing sights…lions mating, a lion kill of a cape buffalo, soooo many animals, including all of the big 5, some with cubs and calves. We took over 4000 pics…will share as soon as we can!
Our passion is to travel and to visit exotic places. Our biggest obstacle was figuring out the logistics (What? Where? When? How?) and that is where Hills of Africa’s expertise really shined! Working with Hills of Africa was very easy, Mark and Sandy were quickly available by email or phone whenever we had an issue or question. While in Africa we had contact numbers to call for help but thankfully we didn’t need it. That was a great anxiety reducer to know that if we had trouble we were not completely on our own. Since returning from our travels, we have learned more about African culture and the jewel that this continent represents and the importance of preserving it for others to experience. I want to take my children there when they are a few years older. We decided to book with Hills of Africa Travel because of a high recommendation of a friend. No greater marketing tool than word of mouth!
Wow! We ran out of adjectives and superlatives after the first four or five days of our trip.
Phil and I cannot thank you enough for planning this absolutely perfect trip of a lifetime. We thought, as many people apparently do, that we would travel to Africa only once. However, we were figuring out when to make a second trip before we even got home!
As so many of your clients say: you do not miss a single detail in making this an easy and enjoyable experience at every level. We were met at every airport or border by nice and, more importantly, competent people who sped us through customs, immigration, registration, or any other ‘red tape’ that was required.
And the accommodations! Every hotel was perfection and conveniently located for the things we wanted to do. (I wanted to live at The Athol. The safari camps, both Ngoma and Londolozi were wonderful. We saw the Big Five within the first two days at Londolozi and had completed The Ugly Five by the time we left Ngoma. Our only complaint about The Victoria Falls hotel was that we only stayed two nights – not long enough!
But, honestly, the very best thing about our trip – in every location – was the people who made it all so magical. Both Londolozi (Helen, Victoria, Kevin, Raymond, Tocho) and Ngoma (Frances, Jarrod, MK) had amazing staffs and guides. And our Cape Town/Winelands guide, Ryan, and our Victoria Falls guide, Laura were just extraordinary.
Treating us to dinners and having champagne and a little welcome note in our hotel rooms was such a nice surprise and much appreciated! Thank you for all of that but most of all for your unerring attention to detail and your high level of expertise. I recommended you to three people at Starbucks this morning. We would not think of going to Africa without your guidance. Thank you, thank you , thank you.”
Most sincerely and with great appreciation,
(Referred by Leslie Sachs, Travel Agent with Travel Experts)
Sandy, Amy & Dana,
We are back! Thank you for putting together an amazing trip!! Everyone we had the pleasure of meeting in Africa was fantastic!!
We loved the Simbavati lodge and the game drives were great! The food at Simbavati was excellent and absolutely top notch service. Meridith and Paul at 528 Guest house were the best. The property is stunning and they were so helpful. Thanks to you and the team for our champagne. We had fun drinking it on the rooftop looking out at Zambia across the Zambezi River.
Everyone we encountered from the porters to the transfer agents were kind, professional and helpful. Thank you again, I am already trying to figure out how I can get back to Africa in the near future!!
While our initial inspiration to visit Africa was to see the big animals in the wild, we came back with a new appreciation for what we have. There were some tremendous moments throughout the trip from the surprise safari anniversary picnic meal to our son’s birthday celebrations. The best big animals were during our Mara excursion at Richard’s River Camp – they brought us right up to the first big cats. We weren’t expecting to get THAT close!! We saw leopards, lions and even a crocodile take down a zebra. Ourguides were nice gentleman as well as being great tour guides. Our favorite room was the tented room at Loisaba Tented Camp and there was a great chef at the Diani Beach Resort. On our next trip to Kenya, we will add a couple of days to explore Nairobi!
Meredith and Sandy, We would like to thank you for such a wonderful trip to South Africa. It was truly amazing and we appreciate everything you did for us. We know it took a huge amount of planning and effort and it certainly surpassed our expectations. You are both such awesome people and it was really a pleasure meeting you and getting to know you better. Thanks again for everything. We look forward to more adventures!! Much love and best wishes, Ainslie MacLeod and Kelli Nichols
Never having a clue I would ever wind up in Africa in my lifetime, the opportunity presented itself. Hills of Africa was suggested to us by another travel agent located in North Carolina (I live in Maryland). It was the best decision of our lives. Yes, the trip was more expensive than I would have wished, but the guides, the accommodations, the animals, the people, and everything in between were amazing. To anyone out there even remotely harboring the thought of a trip to Africa, Hills of Africa is the way to go. The attention to detail, the little surprises pulled on you by the staff when they tell you a little white lie about having to pick up some lanterns to return them to the campsite and then discover a table with champagne out on the plains with those same lanterns illuminating the event — stunning and memorable. Do yourself a favor and book a reservation with Hills of Africa now. You will never regret it, and you will never stop talking about your trip. Ours was in 2008 and it seems like only yesterday. Keep up the wonderful work you and your staff do, Sandy. Book it now!!!
We were inspired to go to Africa for the love of nature and we so enjoyed our previous visit. We have a greater appreciation of the beauty of the animals and seeing how they interact with the environment. We tracked a male leopard for 2 hours, saw a white rhino and we even saw a cheetah! We found the Simbavati Hilltop Lodge to have a spectacular room and we had a great birthday dinner there too. We found the guide at the Tydon Bush Camp kind, knowledgeable, passionate and patient with our questions. We will be returning to Africa to see other countries there as well!
Sandy, The trip was fabulous, better than expected even though we expected a lot! You did an outstanding job setting everything up. It was so nice to have someone waiting for us basically everywhere we went. We certainly will recommend your services to anyone traveling, especially if going to Africa!
First of all, our trip to Africa was incredible! From start to finish we had an incredible time. Thank you so much for organizing it and it was thoroughly clear through our safari itinerary that you were able to capture exactly the experience that we wanted.
Our guide was Aly Kea and he was AMAZING. As he told us, many people are booked with “Taxi Drivers,” who know the general main roads on safari and in Tanzania, but do not have the training, experience, or general interest in their jobs to make the experience special. Aly was incredibly knowledgeable and was able to quench our thirst for adventure. He is well trained and experienced and I would recommend him to anyone looking to travel on safari.
To read more about Zach & Lee’s adventures in Tanzania, and to view their complete, customized itinerary, click here.
We were inspired to visit Africa because my husband went 10 years ago and loved it. We loved everything and would have done it all over again. We were surprised by the number of animals we saw on our trip; we saw a lion, 3 lionesses, and their 11 cubs all out as a family, a herd of buffalo running from 3 lionesses, and had an infant elephant stare us down and try to intimidate us with his trunk (so cute and funny). Since our trip, we have more respect for the animals, the land, and the Earth. This was the greatest travel experience of all time!
My South African trip was inspired by the history, environment and culture of Africa as well as to photograph my journey — I fell in love with the people. My time at Toro Yaka Safari Lodge provided me with the best room and my best evening meals. During a game drive, I was able to see 7 lionesses and 10 cubs feasting on a recent kill – what a family meal!
The coolest part of my trip was the numerous opportunities for wonderful photography. My funniest moment was the 2 tiny bush baby monkeys that showed up every day at 6am, had a look at us me then they would start jumping around like a pinball!
I would have loved to stay longer and spent more time in the bushveld and in Cape Town — where I loved not only the wine but the scenery in the Cape Winelands as well as a great antique car museum.
Overall, good weather, excellent services, friendly people and the best photography!
Mana Pools is a magical setting. It is situated on the banks of the Zambezi River. Hippos are plentiful, as are crocodiles. We also saw lions, buffalo, elephants and many other species of wildlife. Canoeing on the Zambezi is an adventure in itself, especially when ended with sundowners on the banks of the river. We stayed in a mobile-style tented camp, courtesy of Natureways. This “authentic” type of camping is my favorite way to spend time in the bush. The staff was fabulous, especially the cook, who even managed to make a layer cake over an open fire!
It has been exactly a year since our trip to South Africa and the awe and glow still haven’t subsided!! Everything you arranged for us– travel, lodges, safari, hotels–was fantastic and well advised. Because of your meticulous planning, we were well cared for! Our experiences in mountains, villages, coast and cities were transforming. And the spirit of the bushveld animals–zebras, giraffes, elephants, lions– remain with us still! Thank you!
The vacation you planned for us was fantastic and there is no way we could have ever done it without your experience! Our trip was perfect for “first timers”, it gave us a taste of what South Africa has to offer. Our accommodations were wonderful and the people warm and friendly. We plan on returning, as there is more for us to experience and Hills of Africa will be planning that trip. Their experience, knowledge of the area and contacts are the best!
Our trip to Kenya and Tanzania was driven by us always wanted to visit and experience seeing the animals in their natural habitats and to learn more about the culture. We walked away from our trip with a much better understanding of how incredibly beautiful the landscapes are, how friendly the people are and how the animals interact and live.
Ngorongoro Crater was just so beautiful and Amboseli was incredible for the elephants and the Serengeti was just indescribable all around. Too hard to pick the best! Watching the elephants cross in front of us heading toward the water and back again (Amboseli – was the perfect place for us as we got to see so many elephants up close). Watching all of the cats up close in the Serengeti and seeing the animals interact with each other was amazing!
Some of our coolest experiences were being surrounded by what seemed like 100 elephants heading back from the water and crossing all around us; encountering elephants outside of the washroom in Amboseli and having to be “rescued”; waking up to a buffalo chewing outside our tent at 2 am in the Serengeti and watching about 9 lions under a tree with some really young cubs. We were there during baby season so we got to see a lot of babies and the interactions with their Moms.
Overall it was an amazing trip — the animals, hospitality and beautiful landscape and how well the trip was planned and arranged. It was absolutely the trip of a lifetime and we will carry this experience with us forever.
It was an amazing experience from start to finish. There were so many moving parts, (airport pick ups, private tours, private planes, etc.) and we were met at every turn with a smiling face. It was shocking that not a detail was missed. When my husband talks about the trip, he claims his favorite part was the logistics and how everything came together so easily.