Africa

  • A Look Into Our Africa Office

    We sat down with Deidre, the operations manager for our inbound Africa office, to ask a few questions about our Africa office. Deidre has worked in the travel industry for some time now and has gained invaluable knowledge and experience customizing itineraries for clients visiting Southern Africa. Deidre has traveled around South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe while experiencing amazing wildlife, culture and food. We’ve asked Deidre a few questions so you can get to know our Africa team better.

    What is your background?

    “I was born in Cape Town, South Africa, where I currently reside. I have been in the travel industry for 13 years. I’ve worked with Swain Destinations for 2.5 years.”

    Cape Town, South Africa | Photo Credit: The Silo

    Cape Town, South Africa | Photo Credit: The Silo

    What is your most memorable time meeting with clients?

    “My most memorable time meeting with a client was when I met her on arrival at Cape Town International Airport with roses. This trip was to celebrate her milestone birthday and it happened to be her birthday when she arrived in Cape Town. I wanted to do something special for her. The client was pleasantly surprised by the gesture and appreciated it greatly.”

    What is your favorite restaurant in Cape Town?

    “First, most clients would like to dine at The Test Kitchen, although my favorite would have to be Kloof Street House. Something I have done recently with my family was an informal “farm-to-picnic basket” lunch at Boschendal Wine Estate. We got to relax with picnic baskets, hammocks and beanbags with spectacular views of the mountain range.”

    Kloof Street House | Photo Credit: Cape Cadogan Boutique Hotel

    Kloof Street House | Photo Credit: Cape Cadogan Boutique Hotel

    Mountain Picnic | Photo Credit: Savanna Private Game Reserve

    Mountain Picnic | Photo Credit: Savanna Private Game Reserve

    What are some insider tips when traveling to South Africa?

    “Explore Cape Town by Sidecars – this is a phenomenal way to see the beautiful city and breathtaking views as you meander on Chapmans Peak Drive towards Simontown. Enjoy some local fish and chips for lunch, then make your way back to the city. On the way back, be sure to stop at the Constantia Wine Estate and enjoy a wine tasting before returning to your hotel.”

    Constantia Wine Estate | Photo Credit: Groot Constantia

    Constantia Wine Estate | Photo Credit: Groot Constantia

    Vineyard | Photo Credit: Groot Constantia

    Vineyard | Photo Credit: Groot Constantia

    Constantia Grounds | Photo Credit: Groot Constantia

    Constantia Grounds | Photo Credit: Groot Constantia

    What is your favorite thing about working for Swain Destinations?

    “I thoroughly enjoy working for Swain Destinations, as they have a purpose – a mission – that everyone understands. With that, every employee can tell you the role that he or she plays in achieving that purpose. That purpose is to tailor once-in-a-lifetime trips for clients and make the journey as memorable as possible.”

    Segway Tour | Photo Credit: Swain Destinations

    Segway Tour | Photo Credit: Swain Destinations

     

    October 16, 2017 • Africa, Articles, Destinations, Interviews • Views: 1656

  • Kenya Changes You

    “Africa changes you…”

    You’ll hear it over and over. After my recent trip to Kenya, I’ll be the first to add the phrase to my discussions when I’m talking about any future bucket list. Put Africa on your list, pack up and go! I’m in the travel business and I even had my doubts. There’s vaccinations, the distance, my family asking if it was safe, etc. However, you step off the plane to elephants staring at you. Then the village folk in the most beautiful flowing outfits greet you. Finally, you experience your first sunset with a Baobab tree in the distance and all the worry washes away. The effort will seem insignificant compared to what awaits.

    Plane | Photo Credit: Cory Payton

    Plane | Photo Credit: Cory Payton

    Stepping Off the Plane

    My plane landed along a dirt runway in the middle of Kenya bordering the Samburu region and national park. My first safari experience was spent at Sasaab Lodge. This accommodation was amazing. There was nothing but open air, a small plunge pool to cool off after a day of exploring, and an ice chest with plenty of beverages. These beautiful villas had no electricity so it was just you and nature – with a view of the river where elephants would drop by at sunset for their evening drink just as you were pouring yours. It was a toast to Kenya.

    Exterior | Photo Credit: Sasaab Camp

    Exterior | Photo Credit: Sasaab Camp

    Elephants | Photo Credit: Cory Payton

    Elephants | Photo Credit: Cory Payton

    Discovering Kenya

    When you think Africa, you imagine sweeping vistas with a lion perched on a rock overlooking his lands or maybe you picture elephants and giraffes in the distance. We had all of these experiences and it gave me chills as I turned each corner in the safari vehicle. Although the wildlife is stunning, what really affects you are the unexpected, special moments that happen while traveling through this beautiful country. It feels as though you’ve been given a gift, an experience to cherish. You develop a newfound appreciation for the simplicity that life can have and the wonder of nature.

    Giraffes | Photo Credit: Cory Payton

    Giraffes | Photo Credit: Cory Payton

    One of my favorite moments was visiting a local village near the lodge. A close friend suggested I take one of the retro-Polaroid cameras. The ones where you press the shutter and a little whirring sound happens before spitting out a photo beginning to develop. After giving it a few shakes, you have your picture! Imagine humbly sharing the technology with locals in a third world village. It was amazing.

    Photo of Locals | Photo Credit: Cory Payton

    Photo of Locals | Photo Credit: Cory Payton

    I wanted to share this with the beautiful, happy people of this small village. After gathering them around for a group picture, I handed them the actual photo so they could keep it. Tears welled up in their eyes as they saw themselves in full color for the first time. Another photo was taken of a mother holding her small child and the reaction was so beautiful. This is where I knew the saying was true, “Africa changes you.”

    Locals Witnessing a Photo | Photo Credit: Cory Payton

    Locals Witnessing a Photo | Photo Credit: Cory Payton

    Mother and Son | Photo Credit: Cory Payton

    Mother and Son | Photo Credit: Cory Payton

    Visit to a Local School

    We visited a local school next. It was a bit out of the way because they don’t like too many travelers passing through, but we didn’t mind the journey. We visited a local third grade class and their principal had them ask us questions. It’s not every day strangers come to visit.

    Third Grade Class | Photo Credit: Cory Payton

    Third Grade Class | Photo Credit: Cory Payton

    Their questions ranged from our favorite soccer players and different foods to what children like to do in our country. Then, one little girl raised her hand and quietly asked, “Can we sing for you?” Sure enough, the entire class started belting out the African version of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” in unison! It was a humbling experience and one I still fondly carry with me.

    Final Words

    This was just a taste of my time in Africa. We then ventured to the Maasai Mara region where you’ll find indigenous tribes and plenty of animals. But that story is for another time. The people and places are magical. The wildlife is magnificent and everywhere! From the majestic elephants pushing through huge bushes to the cats that are either laying around or on the prowl for their next dinner.  So, I must repeat, “Africa truly does change you.”

    Leopard | Photo Credit: Cory Payton

    Leopard | Photo Credit: Cory Payton

    Sunset | Photo Credit: Kenya Tourism Board

    Sunset | Photo Credit: Kenya Tourism Board

    I grew up on a farm in the Central Valley of California which is fondly known as the raisin capital of the world, yes my dad harvested for Sun Maid. Finishing college I spent leisure time working at a ski resort and soon leading tours with Contiki Holidays where the travel bug really hit. Moving into sales of my favorite countries like Australia, New Zealand and Africa, Swain Destinations was a perfect fit and I’ve enjoyed being a part of this family owned company for 12 years. As I always say, ‘the journey is the reward’.

    September 18, 2017 • Africa, Cory Payton, Travels • Views: 2219

  • Experience Southern Africa

    Here at Swain Destinations we have expert consultants who not only sell our destinations, but have visited and, in some cases, hail from those exact regions. One of these expert consultants is Smruti Smith. Smruti was born in Livingstone, Zambia and has been in the travel industry for over 18 years. She is one of Swain Destinations’ Africa specialists who is passionate about travel, meeting new people and learning about different countries and cultures. We’ve asked Smruti a few questions below to not only give knowledge on Africa itself, but also an insight into Smruti’s experience.

    Okavango Delta, Botswana | Photo Credit: Smruti Smith

    Okavango Delta, Botswana | Photo Credit: Smruti Smith

    What has been your favorite destination to visit?

    “Southern Africa captured my fascination and I must say that it is my favorite destination to visit. To narrow it down, because Southern African has many countries, I enjoyed South Africa, Botswana and Zambia the most.

    South Africa is truly a magical and diverse destination that is perfect for the visitor looking to explore wildlife safaris and get to know the local culture. Just north of South Africa is Botswana, an area that is one of the richest wildlife regions in all of Africa. Finally, Zambia is the land of the legendary African walking safari, the wild Zambezi River, breathtaking lakes and wetlands, a profusion of birds, abundant wildlife, and raw, pulsating wilderness, all in one friendly country.

    Southern Africa is my favorite destination because the people are just incredible. They are full of smiles and great hospitality. You feel welcomed from the minute you land. The culture, food, wine, sightseeing, and the amazing wildlife are what make these destinations unique.”

    Cape Town, South Africa | Photo Credit: South African Tourism

    Cape Town, South Africa | Photo Credit: South African Tourism

    Botswana | Photo Credit: Nile and Yangtze Sanctuary Retreats

    Botswana | Photo Credit: Nile and Yangtze Sanctuary Retreats

    Victoria Falls, Zambia | Photo Credit: Livingstone Adventures

    Victoria Falls, Zambia | Photo Credit: Livingstone Adventures

    Where did you stay?

    “I have stayed at many hotels in Cape Town, South Africa – Cape Grace, Twelve Apostles, One&Only and Table Bay. I highly recommend staying in the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront area as a first timer in Cape Town, as you easily have access to shops and restaurants. In Botswana, I stayed at all the Wilderness Premier camps. Then in Zambia, I stayed at the Toka Leya and the Royal Livingstone. All of my accommodations exceeded my expectations!”

    Exterior | Photo Credit: Cape Grace

    Exterior | Photo Credit: Cape Grace

    Twelve Apostles | Photo Credit: Leading Hotels of the World

    Twelve Apostles | Photo Credit: Leading Hotels of the World

    Lounge | Photo Credit: Toka Leya Camp

    Lounge | Photo Credit: Toka Leya Camp

    The Royal Livingstone | Photo Credit: Sun International

    The Royal Livingstone | Photo Credit: Sun International

    How was the food?

    “The food in Southern Africa is very fresh and nothing is processed. I love their seafood dishes! Any visitor must try Cape Malay food in Cape Town, along with typical South African Braai (which is known as BBQ in the United States). If you are a wine and spirit lover, I highly recommend Pinotage and Inverroche Gin. The cuisine found in Southern Africa did not disappoint!”

    Chocolate Lava Cake | Photo Credit: Cape Grace

    Chocolate Lava Cake | Photo Credit: Cape Grace

    Grilled Fillet of Beef | Photo Credit: Cape Grace

    Grilled Fillet of Beef | Photo Credit: Cape Grace

    Royal Livingstone High Tea | Photo Credit: Sun International

    Royal Livingstone High Tea | Photo Credit: Sun International

    Favorite Experience?

    “Being on safari has been the best experience by far. Staying in camps where you have no access to wi-fi is definitely an adjustment! I never thought I could survive without the internet or being in constant contact with my friends and family, but I highly recommend anyone who visits to disconnect. You want to embrace it all, and really become one with nature. It’s a truly reviving feeling. Although it’s hard, one can really appreciate the wildlife, people in the lodges, and your life slowing down for a moment in time.”

    Vumbura Plains, Botswana | Photo Credit: Smruti Smith

    Vumbura Plains, Botswana | Photo Credit: Smruti Smith

    Finally, what advice would you give?

    “If you are traveling to Africa for the first time, I recommend visiting Southern Africa. Making this your first stop gives you a little taste of everything Africa has to offer. To get the best experience, I would do 10 to 12 days, making stops to Cape Town, Safari and Victoria Falls. It’s hard to choose just a few places to visit, but these destinations are a must!”

    I was born in Livingstone, Zambia and have lived in the USA for over 30 years. I have been in the airline/travel industry for 18 years. I previously worked in the Airline industry, and for another Africa specialist company. I have always been passionate about travel, meeting new people and learning about different countries and cultures. When I am not working, I enjoy travelling with my husband, spending time with family/friends, and working out.

    August 28, 2017 • Africa, Interviews, Travels • Views: 2085

  • Elephants outside your room at Savute Elephant Camp, Bostwana

    Savute Elephant Camp offers guests the chance to view some of Africa’s greatest treasures right from their room. Continue Reading

    May 23, 2014 • Africa • Views: 9495

  • The Dunes of Namib

    The Namib sand dunes are a dramatic landscape of shifting sands. Some of the sand dunes are as high as 980 feet high and 20 miles wide. The dunes are part of the world’s oldest desert, some 43 million years old, which stretches 1,200 miles along the Atlantic coastline of Angola, Namibia and South Africa. Continue Reading

    April 18, 2014 • Africa • Views: 4695

  • Look out over the Kruger National Park at the Singita Lebombo Lodge

    Singita Lebombo Lodge looks out over the N’wanetsi River in the Kruger National Park in South Africa.

    This area of the Kruger National Park boasts more leopards than anywhere else on the planet and a subspecies of lion that is particularly large. Continue Reading

    February 28, 2014 • Africa • Views: 4375