Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Maasai Culture and Wildlife Tour

Have I ever let you down? Well, yes there was that time a while ago when I went off to Botswana and left you blog-less for three weeks. Apart from that have I ever let you down? The week before last I promised you more detail on a unique tour of Tanzania. Well, here it is.

Maasai Culture and Wildlife Tour of Northern Tanzania.
$4289 per person twin share. 14 days Arusha to Arusha land only. Departs 7 March 2011.

Guided by a Sianga Kuyan – a Maasai warrior now married to an Aussie and based in Brisbane.

Sianga will take you to his remote village – one not visited by hoards of tourists. You will spend two nights with his people learning about their culture and traditions.

You will also visit the Serengeti, Ngorogoro Crater and Lake Manyara where you will take part in game drives with professional driver guides. This is a unique opportunity to experience genuine Maasai culture and to enjoy the wonderful scenery and landscape that this region has to offer.

Transport is in 4x4 vehicles driven by professional driver guides.

Accommodation is mostly luxury camping at private with walk-in tents and hot showers. Some nights will be spent in hotels and lodges. A safari cook will prepare 3 meals a day and a camp attendant will erect the tents. There are camp beds with mattresses and all linen is provided.

All you have to do is enjoy the experience.
Part proceeds to The Future Warrior Project.

To register interest in this amazing tour please call me - Peter Emery on
0449 689 447, email me at peter.emery@ucango.com.au or call the Ucango Travel & Cruise Centre in Maroochydore on 07 5451 8600.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What a Hoot!

Here's an important date for you. May 15th 2011. Write in capital letters in your diary, underline it, highlight it, tear out the page, frame it and stick it on your fridge. Whatever it takes - just don't forget that date. Why? Because it is the start of a very special, very exclusive, fully excorted small group tour which I have named "South African Predators."

Commencing in Cape Town we will spend four nights at The Southern Sun Waterfront Hotel exploring the delights of Cape Town, sampling wine, admiring the view from Table Mountain etc before we meet the first of our predatory friends. We will have a full day's cage diving with great white sharks at Gansbaai - real adrenaline rush if ever there was one. Naturally safety is our prime concern and cage dives are professionally guided and supervised. No special diving experience is necessary.

From Cape Town we move on to Thornybush Game Reserve - a luxury private reserve adjacent to Kruger National Park. Here we will pursue two more of our favourite predators - the lion and the elusive leopard. Thornybush is a "Big 5" reserve so will can also expect to see rhino, elephant and cape buffalo. We will spend three nights here enjoying the comfort that this luxury lodge has to offer and taking two game drives per day.

After one night at the Peermont Metcourt Hotel near Johannesburg Airport and a fascinating half day trip to Soweto we will drive to Madikwe Game Reserve in the remote North West Province, tucked away on the border with Botswana. Here we will spend 3 nights at Tau Lodge, suffering more luxury and looking for another predator -the critically endangered African wild dog - also known as painted wolves. These special animals are Africa's most successful hunters and Madikwe Game Reserve offers a good chance to see them in their natural habitat. This is also a "Big 5" reserve so there are many more treats in store for the serious wildlife watcher.

So come on, join me. It'll be a hoot. We'll drink some great wine, eat some fabulous food and most important of all - we'll see some wonderful animals close up, and I mean close.

South African Predators.

$4559 per person twin share. 12 days Cape Town to Johannesburg land only. Departs 15May 2011. A fully escorted luxury tour featuring 4 of Africa’s most fearsome predators. Great White Sharks, Lions, Leopards and Wild Dogs.

This will be an adrenaline charged experience with a little bit of luxury at the end of each day. All meals are included at the game lodges as well as two game drives per day.

Please note that two additional flights must be purchased. Cape Town to Nelspruit and Nelspruit to Johannesburg. Prices on application.

For more information phone me - Peter Emery on 0449 689 447
or email peter.emery@ucango.com.au

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Maasai Warriors & Mobile Phones

In March the lovely people at Ucango Travel (The loveliest of them all being yours truly.) will be operating a rather special 13 night group tour of northern Tanzania. As well as visiting all the amazing scenic and wildlife hotspots such as Lake Manyara, the Serengeti and Ngorogoro Crater the tour will visit a (non-touristy) Maasai village. We will be spending two nights there. It really is a unique opportunity to learn more about this fascinating tribe who are determined to keep alive their culture and way of life.

The tour leader is Sianga – a Maasai warrior now living in Brisbane and married to a member of the Aussie tribe – another group of people who are determined to maintain their way of life, especially the time honoured traditions of long boozy lunches and something mysterious called “Chucking a Sicky.”

There will be no discomfort on this tour. Most nights will be spent in the “walk-in” luxury tents of a mobile camp with real beds and linen and an ensuite toilets and hot water bucket showers. Tents will be erected by a camp attendant and meals are cooked by the camp chef. There will also be some nights in comfortable hotels and lodges. Private camp sites will be utilised to ensure a peaceful wilderness experience,

The Maasai are famous worldwide for their incredibly colourful costumes and their leaping dance. Their initiation process is also famed for the young males of the clan having to kill a lion to graduate as a warrior. This no longer happens to any great extent but it is interesting to know that lions still give the warriors a wide berth when they see them approaching in their bright red shukas (robes). It is an almost mystical sight to see these tall, elegant, scarlet clad figures striding across the shimmering plain, often alone and miles from anywhere. They have legendary powers of telepathic communication, but today you are quite likely to see a warrior whip a mobile phone out from under his shuka. Ah well, that’s progress.

Finally at the end of the tour there will be the chance to meet with a group of Maasai warriors who are doing more than anyone else to preserve the Maasai culture. They go under the name of Future Warriors. This will be a rare and intriguing insight into the Maasai way of life.

More details will appear in a later blog, but meanwhile, to express an interest in this very special tour please call me - Peter Emery on 0449 689 447
or email peter.emery@ucango.com.au

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Kicking & Screaming

Like most men, I’m not a good shopper. Ask my wife. On the extremely rare occasions that she does manage to drag me kicking and screaming to the shops I can be found sitting on a bench with the other bullied men glancing at our watches every ten seconds, muttering darkly to ourselves and then pretending to be interested in our partner’s purchase when she finally emerges triumphantly from the shop several long hours after she disappeared into its sinister depths. I admit I have a liking for window shopping though, but only when the shops are closed and there’s no chance of me accidentally falling into a shop and injuring my wallet.

I do make one exception however – African artifact stalls. I find them endlessly fascinating with their skilfully carved stone and wooden animals, tribal masks, ornate drums and baskets, some so tightly weaved that they can actually hold water. The Zimbabwean artisans are particularly brilliant and one can obtain some beautiful souvenirs from the shops and stalls of Victoria Falls, usually at ridiculously low prices.

I also enjoy looking out for the unusual shops and business names that one can see when travelling Africa’s dusty roads. In Kenya I saw “Riungu Veterinary Surgeon and Butcher.” Don’t take your pet lamb there would be my advice. In South Africa there was “Happy’s Barber and Bicycle Repairs” and in Zambia “Uncle Toby’s Bottle Shop and Undertaker.” Quite handy if you want to drink yourself to death.

Mind you, Africa is not the only place you can see some interestingly named businesses.
Malaysia has the “Kent Turkey Fried Chicken CafĂ©” (Kota Bahru). “Soon Phat Restaurant” (Cameron Highlands), and my personal favourite “Phook Yew Communications” (Kuantan). They’re probably a subsidiary of Telstra.

Anyway my fellow shop-aphobics, take heart. You need not fear African shops and markets. Even you will find them interesting and stacked full of irresistible goodies that will grace your lounge room for years to come.

Cheetah Safari
6 Days from $2195 per person
Nairobi to Nairobi
This safari combines game viewing in the Amboseli National Park at the foot of Mt Kilimanjaro with big game viewing in the world famous Masai Mara. A stop at Lake Nakuru en route provides an opportunity to see the flamingos.

For more information call me - Peter Emery on 0449 689 447
or email peter.emery@ucango.com.au

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Been There, Done That.

Okay, so you’ve been to Africa two or three times. You’ve got the bug. You’ve seen Cape Town, been to the top of Table Mountain, sampled the wine at the many wineries in the region – maybe even had one too many glasses at lunch time and had a snoring, drooly sleep on the way back to the hotel in the tour bus, when even the rattle of that half dozen bottles of chardonnay you purchased at the last stop couldn’t keep you awake. .

You’ve stayed at a luxury lodge at Sabi Sands, maybe Londolozi or Sabi Sabi. You’ve enjoyed their amazing cuisine and seen the “Big Five.” You’ve even tried some of the bush meat that they serve from time to time – warthog, eland, impala and my personal favourite – kudu kebabs, served with a creamy mustard sauce.

You’ve done a camping trip through Botswana, paddled a mokoro through the papyrus lined channels of the Okavango Delta. You’ve been within a trunk length of an old bull elephant, looked into his eyes and seen his ancient, gentle wisdom. You’ve lain in your tent at night listening to lions roaring, hyena cackling and jackals yapping.

You’ve gazed in awe at the Victoria Falls. You’ve heard it’s thunder and been drenched by the spray. You may have even been silly enough to dive off the Falls bridge with an elastic band attached to your ankle. You’ll certainly have floated gently down the Zambezi on one of the many sunset cruise boats. You might have even canoed there, carefully avoiding yawning hippos and cruising crocs.

Perhaps you’ve been to the Serengeti and witnessed the moving sight of two million wildebeests and zebras following the seasonal rain. You might even have struggled up Mount Kilimanjaro and stood breathlessly on the roof of Africa.

In short, you are a seasoned Africa visitor and you’re looking for something a little different. What about a spot of “Eco Training”? There are course of between one day and one year in duration that will give you a taste of what it is like to be an African game ranger. You can learn tracking, 4 wheel-drive vehicle and rifle handling as well as gaining an intimate knowledge of Africa’s incredible wildlife. How good is that? You may even be able to forge a new career as many of the courses offer formal qualifications. Go on, try it on your next trip.

EcoTraining Offers!
Professional Field Guide Course - 1 Year ~ With lodge experience ~ Gap Year
Field Guide Level 1 Course - 28 days ~ FGASA or EcoTraining Exams
Trails Guide Course - 28 days ~ FGASA or EcoTraining Exams
Conservation Game Ranger - 14 days ~ Ex-Kruger Ranger and Ecologist Ralf Kalwa
EcoQuest Course - 14 days ~ Experience and learn the life of a Field Guide
Snake Course - 1 day ~ Expert and Specialist Mike Perry
Tracks and Tracking - 7 days ~ Specialist Adriaan Louw
Wildlife Photography - 5 days ~ Specialist and well-known photographer Lex Hes
Birding Course - 7 days ~ Specialist Bruce Lawson (Basic and Advanced)
Educational Walking Trails - 7 days ~ Specialist guide Johna Turner
Safari Guide Level 1 Course - 28 days ~ Kenya
Guide Certificate 111 - 28 days ~ Australia RTO Status
School and Corporate Courses - Australia (only)

We aim to put the bush back into Africa for all those that are searching for the most authentic wildlife training and safari experiences.

For more information call me – Peter Emery on 0449 689 447
or email peter.emery@ucango.com.au