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

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.

 

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…..)

 

Africa Geography 101

Hats off to the folks at The Safari Company for a great post on Ebola – which is surprisingly impacting tourist travel to Africa. Why surprisingly you say? Well, because where the Ebola breakout is happening, and it is a terrible disease that is having a major impact on that region, is far closer to say, Europe, than it is to the key tourist routes in Africa – primarily East Africa and Southern Africa.

London, Paris, Madrid and even, and this one actually did surprise us a bit as well, key cities in Brazil are all closer to the Ebola outbreak than say the Serengeti, Botswana or Cape Town.

Cape Town is just under 5,800 kilometers away from the outbreak while Madrid is a relatively cosy 3,600 kilometers. For all the Americans reading this, look at it this way. Cape Town is farther away from the Ebola outbreak than New York is from Los Angeles.

There are, of course, lots of flights in and out of the impacted areas but the issue with those flights won’t be internal Africa flights, it will be the hundreds of daily flights in and out of Africa from Western Europe and the United States.

There’s another part of Africa that is currently being impacted by the same relative lack of knowledge about distances – and that’s Kenya. The troubles in Kenya along the coast, which have quieted down substantially in the last two to three months, are hundreds and in some cases, thousands of miles away from many of the key safari destinations such as Naboisho. 

It’s a great time to head to Africa. Really. And it’s especially a great time to head to Africa with Travel On The Good – in case you want more information on why that’s true, read more here. 

We’ll Make This Quick – Cheetahs For #AfricaFactFriday

Ladies and gentlemen, don’t start your engines but instead fulfill your need for speed by considering this. A cheetah can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles an hour in 3 seconds. One. Two. Three and a cheetah is going full speed. When you visit Kenya, for example, we promise you that your safari vehicle even the best of them will be able accelerate from 0 to maybe 10 miles an hour in the same amount of time.

Where are the best places to see cheetahs now? There are four regions of Africa where your chances are pretty good. We say pretty good because any time you’re tracking an animal that can run as fast as a cheetah in a vehicle that only dreams of moving that fast, like is true with all wildlife, there are no guarantees.

However, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Eastern Africa (Kenya and Tanzania) all have fairly healthy populations. In Kenya, the range of the cheetah population has shrunk considerably over the years, but they still occupy 23% of their original territory. When one considers that cheetahs have been around for an estimated 4 million years, that’s actually not too bad.

Another quick note.

When cheetahs run, they use their tails like a skipper uses the rudder on a boat – making turning possible and quick. Cheetahs actually don’t run after their prey for great distances but slowly sneak up on them and will attack, typically, when they are less than twenty yards away.

You do the math. A slow antelope versus a cheetah that can go from 0 to 60 in three seconds over a space of twenty yards. Well, at least it will be all over quickly one hopes.

Two more fun cheetah facts – and we welcome you to share yours via Twitter and #africafactfriday. The Naboisho Conservancy in Kenya has a very healthy population of cheetahs and we recommend you consider visiting there – if you do, a portion of your trip’s costs will go directly to the conservancy and to their efforts to preserve the population there. We’re certain they’ll be quick to thank you.

Last one – cheetahs can run twice as fast as an elite thoroughbred horse. Now, we’ve never seen a cheetah chase down a horse at the Kentucky Derby but it’s interesting to think that if there were cheetahs in Kentucky, the cheetah could.

This isn’t a cheetah fact but it’s a very interesting opportunity for anyone who loves cheetahs and might be interested in a volunteer project working with these amazing animals. Our friends at African Impact have a great program in South Africa with lots of different options and some great pricing as well – here are more details.

Roar. Or What’s Your Favorite Lion Fact For #africafactfriday?

We love lions. We love watching lions hunt and we love watching lions sleep which is a good thing because the average lion sleeps 20 hours a day and then does a little walking around and maybe some hunting before they go back to sleep for another 20 hours. Like they say, it’s good to be the King.

In honor of #africafactfriday, we brought out a few of our favorite facts about lion (like the fact that they sleep twenty hours a day) and we thought we’d share them with you.

One reason that everyone loves lions more now than they used to is the Broadway musical, “The Lion King” which made Simba a household name. Simba, by the way, means lion in Swahili and that’s the primary language in Kenya which is where we highly recommend you go see lions.

Now there are a lot of lions in Kenya, but the single greatest concentration of lions in Kenya that we are aware of is the 100 member pride that lives in the Naboisho Conservancy in the Mara region. This huge pride is dominated by a very large male and we highly recommend that you visit Naboisho and see for yourself.

Now, one of the reasons that we know so much about that pride is due to the amazing work of the not-surprisingly-named Mara Naboisho Lion Project. While 54 million people have seen “The Lion King” as it has toured the world, a much smaller number of people have been fortunate enough to visit, volunteer and help out on this amazing project in Kenya. If you are looking for a place to volunteer and see lions, a lot of lions, we highly recommend contacting them.

If you are just interested in visiting Naboisho and staying at, for example, Encounter Mara, a five star camp which was named Kenya’s Best Tented Camp, we have a special way for you to do it that the lions would shake their tails in appreciation (lions by the way are the only member of the cat family with a tasseled tail.) When you stay at Encounter Mara, Travel On The Good will make a large (i.e at least 10%) donation of the cost of your trip the the Mara Naboisho Lion Project. 

You win. The lions win. Everyone wins. And then you can see a group of lions like the one in the photo above, they’ll be most impressed that you know that their back teeth are called carnassals and actually work like scissors when eating raw meat. You won’t want to saw chewing in front of the pride because everyone knows that lions don’t chew their meat actually, they swallow whole chunks of it. Which could also explain the sleeping.

If you book with us, please let us know that you want to support the Mara Naboisho Lion Project.  Email Avery for more information, avery@travelonthegood.com

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.

 

Africa Travel Trends – What’s Up?

Travel Pulse just posted an interesting article on the 6 hot new travel trends for Africa. We agree with them but want to add two more.

With the Baby Boomers having a safari at the top of their bucket list, and they should right? We believe that you’re also going to see people come back to Africa more in the past. Why? Well, for a large number of tourists, especially Americans, they don’t fully understand the African travel experience until they’ve been there at least once.

For example, travelers to the Mara in Kenya will have seen amazing pictures of safari goers out on foot in the bush – it’s not till they’ve been there do they realize that these pictures were taken inside private conservancies like the Naboisho Conservancy where the guides from camps like Encounter Mara will take you out for long walks on the private land.

Nor do first time visitors realize what a difference it makes to go to Uganda and see the gorillas or how far away and how amazing a place like Namibia is from say, the Mara in Kenya.

What other Africa travel trends are out there? Well, you tell us in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.

 

UPDATE:

There are some last minute specials now available from Travel On The Good to go to the Mara this year for the amazing migration of animals (August and September travel.) Please email james@travelonthegood.com if you are interested.