2016 Is The Year To Travel On The Good.

At this time of year, you often see the major travel magazines or newspaper travel writers bring out their must see places of the year – like this one from the Telegraph in the UK.

Here at Travel On The Good, we fully support traveling in 2016 and we hope that all your travel dreams come true but we’d like to add one more consideration to where you go and that’s whether or not your travel dollars are really doing as much good as they should.

Now, we are not a fan of boring vacations – we want you to go to the absolute best places. Our top list starts with Kenya, then Cape Town, and we’re huge fans of Northern Laos, Burma, and Costa Rica but when you go, just make sure you and everyone in the place you’re visiting get the most for your money.

We learned a valuable lesson a few years back in Zambia, in South Luangwa to be precise where the most remarkable Flatdogs Camp is (another of our favorites and to be honest the single best safari camp in Africa for kids.)

Many of the camps in the area were working with and supporting and help Project Luangwa. But I was most surprised and shocked to discover that not all of them were. Some of the camps even refused to give as little as $5 a night to the project (and remember, we’re talking rates of $500 – $700 per night.) What I realized then is that the same quality of safari was available from a great camp that truly supported the local community (and helped with conservation and anti-poaching and a few other minor details) as it was from a camp that didn’t.

Our resolution for 2016 is to help keep shifting some of the everyone’s travel budget from the companies, lodges and camps that actually do good from the ones that only talk the talk. (Watch out for our special TravelTurfing series where well, we’ll slam people who don’t live up to their green hype.)

Travel and seeing the world is an amazing blessing – we’re all about the journey. We just hope you’ll join us in traveling with the right people because as you know, that makes all the difference.

 

 

Advertisements

So, What Are We All About?

Well, we just wrote this to explain it a bit better and we most certainly have been thinking a lot about this concept and how best to not only describe it but to launch it. And we have decided in the end, we’re about two things.

Getting you a great deal on an amazing vacation.

Look – nothing is better than going on a great trip. And seeing lions in Africa. Or diving with sharks in the Bahamas or zip-lining through the rain forest in Costa Rica – but you have to get a great deal on it and our deals (because of how we operate and how folks operate with us) are simply the best.

So once you are on a great trip – then we add something good. Our deals come with the lucky strike extra that a little bit of money, or sometimes a lot of money, goes towards a group that is doing good in the area where you are visiting. So a bit of your travel budget is helping out as you have the time of your life.

You don’t pay more. You just do more good.

Three Great Ways To Go Away For Good In Kenya

Kenya is our favorite destination in East Africa. Maybe it’s from being huge fans of “Out Of Africa” and our constantly telling ourselves, very slowly mind you, “I had a farm..in Africa.”

Like everywhere in Africa, you want to be careful about where your travel dollars are going. As a friend of mine said, $100 can do a tremendous amount of good in Africa, and a tremendous amount of harm.” So we were just in Kenya and these are our top five ways to have a great trip and make sure your hard-earned travel dollars go for good.

1. Naboisho

Naboisho is amazing for so many reasons. Let’s start with the fact that this amazing piece of land was in serious danger of being lost forever to development just a few short years ago. Thanks to an incredible number of dedicated people not only was the land saved, but it was saved in an amazing co-operative arrangement with the local Maasai.

But this is far from just a feel good travel adventure – this is the best game viewing we have ever experienced in Africa.

And people are seeing that too. The #1 camp on TripAdvisor in the entire Mara region? It’s in Naboisho.

The #4 camp in all of the Mara. Yep.

The Maasai own the land (and many work there.) The ecotour operators do far more than anyone else in the region.

Go.

2. Kizingo

So if you want to combine your time in the Mara with an amazing place on the beach, you have a lot of choices. We have two great picks for you.

First, head to Kizingo. What’s more amazing? The incredible sunset views? Swimming with the dolphins? Watching the turtles lay their eggs in the dunes?

Or the fact the family who owns the property has built over 15 schools in the area? Helped protect the turtles? Or supported all their employees and their families in the downturn that hit the coast?

You might love the amazing fish curries, or watching folks climb the rope in in the dining room (Not for amateurs) but we love the fact that this ecologically-pure resort has done so much for community around it.

3. Peponi

Peponi Hotel you say? The amazing small hotel in Shella? How is that a place to travel on the good? One word. Turtles. Through good times and bad, Carole K the remarkable owner of the hotel has protected the turtles.

Peponi is a true win. Amazing food and service and you’re helping the turtles as well.

What are our picks?

Have you been somewhere in Kenya that is going above and beyond in terms of both the experience and the community? Lt us know – we love going away for good.

 

The Best City In The World? Yes.

Before my very first visit to Cape Town, everyone I know who really has traveled told me that Cape Town is the best city in the world. Now, the world has a lot of great cities and I always questioned everyone’s certainty.

Don’t make the same mistake I did.

It is the best city in the world, bar none, and it’s not just my opinion.

This is a city that has only really been open to the world for the last two decades, and it still offers excellent value for money and a sense of new discovery. Small wonder then that Cape Town has – for the third year in a row – won our readers’ vote as the best city in the world to visit.

Rest of the story here. 

Have You Ever Wanted To Walk With A Lion In Africa?

Have you ever wanted to walk with lions?

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to just see one of these amazing creatures in it’s natural habitat?

If so, we have special offers to Antelope Park, a unique game reserve set in over 3000 acres of open savannah grasssland in Zimbabwe. Every trip benefits the African Lion and Environmental Research Trust (ALERT), a lion conservation and research group. ALERT is Africa’s first genuine program working to ethically re-introduce the offspring of captive-bred African lions back into the wild.

Set in over 3000 acres of open savannah grassland, Antelope Park is a unique game reserve and a haven of tranquillity set in the African bush, welcoming guests and volunteer eco-tourists alike to the charming and remarkable camp site. Walk with lions, ride through the wilderness on elephant or horseback, view the abundance of wildlife in the Park or canoe on the scenic lake. During the evening, Antelope Park’s exclusive Night Encounters offer a truly amazing, close up experience of lions hunting in their natural environment.

Our founder, James Cannon Boyce, just returned from a visit to Zimbabwe and had his own memorable experience walking with the lions.

The One Armed Gambler Who’s Betting On The African Lion

In 1986, I was a young American exchange student who had a chance to study at the University of Zimbabwe — it opened my eyes to the wonder of Africa. Right now, I am sitting in the middle of the country once again, staying at Antelope Park, near Gweru where my eyes have been opened once again by one’s man passion and persistence.

Andrew Conolly is a man who has stayed in his native Zimbabwe through good times and bad, and now has dedicated his life to try and help save the African lion — despite the fact that a lion took his left arm twenty years ago.

“Some people would give an arm and a leg to save the lion. I’m halfway there.”

There are two things I love in people I am fortunate enough to meet — passion and a complete lack of patience with people who just talk the talk and never get around to walking the walk.

Read more of this story on medium.com.

 

Five Things You Need To Know About Naboisho. Happy #AfricaFactFriday

Just north of the Masai Mara National Reserve is a remarkable place – The Mara Naboisho Conservancy. This special partnership between the Maasai who own the land, six safari camps that share it and people like you that can come visit it is one of Kenya’s success stories. From top camps to being able to walk through the bush, Nabiosho is emerging as one of the top safari destinations not only in Kenya, but actually in all of Africa.

So here’s what you need to know – and especially as you plan your safari, you need to remember these things.

The Maasai Own Their Land And Always Will.

In many places, tragically, the tribe or people who owned the land historically have lost the land when either it was turned into a national park or sold to an investor – not here. In Naboisho, over 500 Maasai families have leased their land to the conservancy and will therefore, always keep it. One interesting thing to note is that through the conservancy which is funded by tourist operators – each and every Maasai landowner gets a rent check each and every month. Just through the creation of the conservancy, more than 3,000 Maasai were lifted from below the U.N. poverty line to above it through the creation of this lease program.

There Are Only Six Camps Spread Out Over More Than 55,000 Acres.

Some reserves of the same size have literally thirty or forty camps. Here there are just five which mean you rarely see anyone else. There is a strict three vehicle rule at any sighting and usually you either will be the only car watching or there might be one more. Even in the more famous private reserves, there can be five or ten vehicles. In fact….

The Number Of People Visiting At Any One Time Is Limited To 124.

That’s if every camp is totally full. With only 124 people spread over 55,000 acres, you’re not going to see or hear a lot of people. In fact, on a recent walk through the conservancy, over the course of five hours, we didn’t see any people at all (we did see lots of animals including a cheetah walking by.) Plus don’t forget —

In Nearby Talek, Over 8,000 People Drive Through The Gate To The National Reserve On Peak Days.

That’s a big difference. Remember, should you actually want to go through the gate with 8,000 of your closest friends, any of the camps at Naboisho will be happy to take you for an extended day trip. Don’t worry though, while everyone has the right to visit the Reserve, the conservancy can only be used by the six camps.

Here, You Can Walk The Walk.

Have you always wanted to walk through the plains? Climb down a hill and see giraffes wandering by? In Naboisho, you can – it’s one of the amazing things about the conservancy. So if you want to go to see the best of Africa, there’s only one place to go – Naboisho.

And there’s one more very important thing – African Impact has one amazing volunteer project right in the middle of Naboisho. Check it out here (but only if you love adventure and lions and leopards and…..)

 

What Do Elephants Talk About At The Watering Hole?

elephant encounter maraElephants are remarkable creatures.

They’re highly intelligent, communicative, and have a sense of smell that is even better than a bloodhound’s.

Elephants have feelings, too. There have been numerous observations of empathetic and caring behavior exemplified by elephants, such as using their trunks to touch and give support to other elephants or to help their friends feel better by trumpeting sympathetic noises.

An elephant can also detect the vocalizations of their companions seismically, with their feet. When an elephant makes a noise, an exact replica of this signal is sent separately through the ground. With their sensitive feet, elephants can detect earth tremors, thunderstorms and the hoof beats of distant animals. They know which human voices represents threats and can warn each other.

Speaking of human threats, people are a huge threat to elephants in the wildlife. Due to poaching for the trade of ivory, the population of elephants is dropping rapidly. Individuals from local communities have turned to poaching due to increasing poverty and high rates of return from the ivory trade.

Can safari tourism be more valuable to local communities than poaching? Many think so. Tourism is the second largest income generator after coffee exports in Kenya. If you want to do your part to save elephants, we suggest visiting the Mara.

Book with Travel On The Good and stay at the Encounter Mara. Proceeds from your trip will benefit the Naboisho Conservancy, which supports the local community and is working tirelessly on anti-poaching efforts.

If a trip to Kenya to visit the Mara is not on your immediate to do list (although we think it is the to do list), you can still support this cause through amazing organizations such as ElephantVoices. ElephantVoices uses knowledge acquired over decades to act as a voice for elephants:

Through research, education, conservation and advocacy we promote the protection and kinder treatment of elephants whereever they may be. As acknowledged experts on the natural behavior of elephants we offer insight to protect them and the authority to speak on their behalf.

Check out elephantvoices.org to support and read more about these complex and wonderful animals.

If you are interested in visiting the Mara and doing your part to help save elephants and save on a great deal, then be sure to check out our new offer. Right now, by booking with Travel On The Good, a couple can stay at Encounter Mara for 4 nights for only $3685. For 5 nights the price is $4310. Your trip will directly benefit the Naboisho Conservancy in the Mara and their anti-poaching efforts.

If you have any questions, please contact our own elephant fanatic, Avery at avery@travelonthegood.com.

 

Featured Trip: Kenya On The Good

Kenya offers some of the best wildlife safari experiences in Africa. Travel to the Masai Mara, a 1,510 sq km (580 sq miles) National Reserve with over 95 species of mammals and 570 recorded species of birds, to discover lions, zebras, elephants, cheetahs, and the great migration of wildebeest. Meet the Masai people, witness wildlife conservation, and take part in community development just by booking your trip with Travel On The Good.

Our first featured Travel on the Good trips will take you to the amazing, and very private Naboisho Conservancy and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Both reserves are world-renowned for their beauty and wildlife. 

Travel On The Good Safari: Encounter Wildlife in Kenya and Gorillas in Uganda

Itinerary –

  • Stay: 7 nights ( 3 nights at the Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp followed by 4 nights at Encounter Mara)
  • Price: $8,708 per person sharing

Masai Mara National Park

The annual wildebeest migration through the Serengeti and the Masai Mara is the largest mass movement of land mammals on the planet – with more than a million animals following the rains. But that is not where the game viewing ends; large prides of lions, elephants and giraffes in grasslands, gazelles and eland to mention but a few. Aside from traditional vehicle safaris, hot-air ballooning over the Mara plains has become almost essential and you can even do a horseback safari.

Encounter Mara

Encounter Mara is a classic tented eco-camp set on the banks of the Olmorjoi river in the exclusive Mara Naboisho Conservancy, part of Kenya’s most famous Masai Mara, and home to the famous wildebeest and zebra migration. Tucked away in a stunning, private valley amidst the untouched wilderness of the conservancy, Encounter Mara is a unique, eco-friendly, classic safari camp that offers authentic wildlife and cultural encounters like none other. Read the wonderful things visitors have to say about Encounter Mara on TripAdvisor reviews.

Encounter Mara is a safari experience that is never rushed or superficial. The rhythm of each day should allow our guests to truly encounter the culture and wildlife of the Masai Mara in a unique and genuine way. Encounter Mara offers an authentic guest experience that embraces great respect for the Masaai people’s culture and a passion for the conservation of the incredible wildlife surrounding the camp.

Each tent includes a large veranda, outdoor lounge bed and hammocks. Enjoy delicious and healthy meals outside and relax with a cold drink on a hot afternoon in the lounge tent. Take part in day and night game-drives, guided bush walks, guided star-gazing, Masaai village visits, and visits to the Koyiaki Guiding School.

Awards and Accolades –

  • Tripadvisor: Certificate of Excellence, 2013
  • World Travel Awards Winner: Leading Safari Tented Camp in Kenya, 2012
  • World Travel Awards Winner:  Leading Safari Tented Camp in Kenya, 2013

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is where you have the best chance of spotting a mountain gorilla family going about their business. Once you have your permit you are led across the rugged terrain and through the awe inspiring jungle to where the gorillas were seen yesterday and then you track them down. Aside from the amazing gorilla interactions there are numerous forest walks and 346 species of birds to spot, many of which are amazingly colored.

Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp

Gorilla Forest Camp is a permanent luxury tented camp nestled in the mist-swathed rain forests of a mountainside in the heart of of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The exclusive location – the sole property within the park’s boundaries – afford Gorilla Forest Camp the status of being the ideal base for gorilla tracking, primate viewing and birding excursions in the park. Gorilla Forest Camp has been designed to blend seamlessly into this most atmospheric of environments, carefully appointed towards the misty valleys and looming, forest-clad mountains that protect this fragile eco-system.

Accommodation is is one of the 8 double tents, raised on wooden platforms, each with facilities, hot and cold running water, and a bathtub looking out onto the forest. Each tent as a spacious veranda where guests can relax, enjoy a private meal and absorb the exotic mystery of the surrounding rain forest.

The Camp offers a bar and dining cottage overlooking the rain forest as well as a raised natural platform for open air dining. At night, a traditional African campfire is lit where a lecture might be given by a visiting primatologist, the gorilla briefings are undertaken, or visitors simply relax and enjoy the brilliance of Bwindi’s crystal clear mountain sky.

Included –

  • Encounter Mara – flight from Wilson Airport to Naboisho, transfers to and from airstrip and drop off/pick up point, accommodation, meals, drinks (alcohol and non-alcohol), day/night game drives, bush walks, laundry service, all conservancy fees and one entry into the National Reserve in High Season only.
  • Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp – rates are inclusive of meals, laundry service, beverages, and community walk.

Excluded –

  • Encounter Mara – Champagne and imported beverages, optional activities (e.g. balloon safari), village visits, travel insurance, items of personal nature, gratuities, per person entrance fees to Masai Mara National Reserve for optional visits.
  • Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp – Flights from Kenya to Entebbe, Kampala, Guide, use of vehicle per day, gorilla trekking permits, park fees (these fees are only available at time of reservation).

By visiting Kenya and Uganda with Travel On The Good, your trip directly benefits the Naboisho Conservancy, a 50,000 acre private conservancy in Kenya. The conservancy is made up of land contributions from 500 Maasai landowners. Naboisho conservancy fees provide the Maasai community with a sustainable livelihood and ensure the conservation of the wildlife in this vital corridor of the Masai Mara eco-system.

Travel On The Good – Going. Going. Great.

It all started with a simple thought.

Traveling in Africa is expensive. Going on safari is really expensive. A medium-priced camp is $200 to $300 a day and expensive camps can easily charge $500 or $1,000. Per person. Per day.

Traveling at that level of expense adds up fast. Just imagine what it is for a family of four for a week or for two couples. It’s a lot of money.

There’s a reason for that, of course. It’s very expensive to operate even a small camp in say, the Busanga Plains in Zambia, where this picture was taken.

DSC_0568

 

The camp is more than a ten hour drive from the nearest outpost. It’s under water for a good part of the year and yet, the operators have to host tourists from around the world who are looking for a first-rate safari experience.

However, we also know something else about Africa. There are a lot of amazing groups doing amazing work on the ground there. People like Happy Africa Foundation who are doing everything from buying toothbrushes to protecting wildlife to building schools.

Or there is the group that created the Naboisho Conservancy – extending the reach of the Mara National Park in Kenya by a critical 55,000 acres by working with and allowing the Masai who have lived there for centuries to stay in their villages.

These groups are trying to raise even just a few thousand dollars for critical projects, like providing a basic school to young children or even supplies to people when natural disaster strikes. Surely there must be a way that some of that money that was arriving with the tourists could be channeled to the groups that are trying to help and preserve exactly what the tourists were paying all that money to see?

It took us a bit but we figured it out and there are three really important parts of it.

We know Africa and we can send you on the best possible trip – whether you want to spend a little or a lot. From basic trips to remarkable customized journeys, we will make sure that your experience is even better than you imagined.

How do we do this?

Well, our trips are planned and executed not by a travel agent here but by our team in Cape Town, South Africa who know the continent inside and out.

Second, you’re not going to pay a penny more by traveling with us.

In fact, you just might pay less. We negotiate more than competitive rates with the camps themselves. We are also willing to accept less commission than most travel companies, because –

Three, every single night you spend in Africa, part of the money that you are spending will end with groups working in the area you are visiting.

So if you want to go see the annual migration in the Mara National Park, you can stay at the wonderful Encounter Mara camp, and you’ll pay the same amount you would no matter who you booked it with, but a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Naboisho Conservancy and right now, their need to increase the number of rangers that are out on anti-poaching patrols.

If you’re thinking to yourself, wait, if it’s the same camps and the same prices and the same safaris, well, then why wouldn’t I travel on the good so that I know that more money is staying in Africa? That’s exactly our point.

We’ll be posting some travel specials starting next week. Right now we are also offering people the chance to plan their own trip, just email us at james@travelonthegood.com if you are interested in learning more.

Because if you’re going to go, why wouldn’t you go on the good?