Testimonials From Happy Travelers
Kathy and Phil Costanza
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)
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!
Stacey & Dave, OH
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.
Kim Anderson, CA
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
Paul & Beth Jaszewski, Huntersville, NC
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!
Debbie and Jordan Klingsberg, FL
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.
Judy & Les Hathaway, Ambassador Events Travel, February 2018
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……
The Bournes from Houston, Texas – March 2019
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!
Marti Gillen and Ed Knutt, New York
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!
Robin Stroud and her daughters from Birmingham, Alabama
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.”
Jim Cumiskey, Cumberland, MD
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!
Tina Quirk and Family, New York, NY
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!
Harlan and Lisa from Atlanta, GA – VIP Clients of Amy Metzger, Travel Edge
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
Gary Harwyn and Michelle Salater, Zimbabwe safari May 2010
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!
Jen Miff, Dallas, Texas
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
Jim and Amber from Crystal Lake, IL
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
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.
Jerry and Catherine Wolff, Florida, February 2018
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.
Genevieve & Tedd Winter – March 2019
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!
Suzanne and Melonie – www.helpmorepeople.com
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.
Kim Baumbach, Hoboken, NJ
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!!!
Sheara Braun, NY, NY
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.
Jamie and Sheldon from Baltimore
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!
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.