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Dear Vacations To Go Customer,
Alan Fox is on safari in South Africa with SITA World Tours
his final report, from Singita Lebombo Lodge
, is below.
Please scroll down to see this week's tour deals.
Two hundred yards short of touchdown, the pilot of our 12-passenger
Caravan suddenly revved the engine back to full power, pulled the nose
up and aborted the landing. We climbed and banked to the right, making a
circle to line up for a second approach.
Once on the ground, the pilot told me that a wildebeest had wandered
onto the landing strip on our first approach, darting back into the
thicket when we buzzed by overhead.
In Africa, one can expect the unexpected. It is good to be back.
I am writing today from the last stop on my safari, the spectacular
Singita Lebombo Lodge
in Kruger National Park. I arrived two days
ago on a short flight from my last lodge.
The land here is beautiful, isolated and rugged. There are interesting
rock formations, meandering rivers, sheer cliffs and great vantage
points from which to watch the sun set. I've loved the unpredictability
of each and every day.
We've had a close encounter with four sleepy lions as they snuggled up
together like big kittens. We've trailed small but fearless honey
badgers as they chased some unseen prey.
We've watched as hulking, nebulous blobs in dense fog turned into
elephants and zebras, and just missed stepping on a deadly boomslang
(venomous, green snake) sunning itself on a path.
We counted a dozen motionless crocodiles hiding in the weeds on the
banks of the Sweni River, like traps waiting to be sprung. We visited
with a herd of skittish Cape buffalo being stalked by a pride of lions.
On our first night at Lebombo Lodge, we dined poolside under Orion and
the Southern Cross. Last night, we danced to local music with the Tsonga
tribe in a torchlit boma.
Kruger is South Africa's largest game reserve, by far, stretching 220
miles from north to south and 40 miles from east to west. Most of the
park is open to the public but nine large tracts of land have been set
aside as privately operated "concessions" that hold long-term leases.
Lebombo Lodge shares one of these huge, private concessions with sister
property Sweni Lodge. The concession is leased by Singita and located in
the southeastern region of the park, on the border with Mozambique.
The biggest advantages of the private concessions are the high quality
of the accommodations and food and service, the low number of guests and
vehicles allowed inside the concessions and the fact that the private
owners allow their guides to leave the roads to get closer to the
animals. Visitors to the public areas of the park are not allowed to
stray from the roads.
Lebombo Lodge features 13 spacious bungalows and a villa that can be
configured as two two-bedroom units or one four-bedroom dwelling. The
bungalows look down on the life-giving N'Wanetsi River.
The walls of the bungalows are made of glass, with wooden screens for
shade and privacy. The interiors are beautifully decorated, open and
contemporary, and filled with natural light.
Elevated back decks are perfect for game viewing or lounging on a sleepy
afternoon. There's a king bed inside and a smaller bed on the deck,
covered with mosquito net, for anyone who'd like to sample sleeping outside.
I had to try this and can recommend it to anyone who doesn't mind an
occasional unexplained screech from the great, black beyond.
Service is the name of the game at Lebombo Lodge, with a friendly staff
that anticipates every need.
There is an outdoor restaurant (poolside) and a boma, for cookouts by
the fire. A bar, lounge, self-serve deli, fitness center, library, wine
studio, boutique and gallery round out the amenities.
Gazing out the window from my bungalow, it's hard to imagine that South
Africa suffered through the worst drought in recorded history in 2015
and 2016. Today, Kruger Park is lush and green for as far as the eye can
see, but last year there was not a single blade of green grass to be
Plants withered and disappeared, and meadows changed to deserts. All but
the deepest waterholes turned to sludge and then to cracked, sun-baked
Animals that depend on grazing, such as elephants and buffalo, were the
worst affected, along with hippos, which spend most of their day
submerged in water. As these enormous animals grew weak from hunger and
thirst, they became easy prey.
There's a thin line between "eating" and "eaten" out here.
While drought is a disaster for some species, it is a bonanza for
others. With food so readily available, the number of predators and
scavengers--such as lions, hyenas and vultures--actually increased.
Finally, in January of this year, the rains returned to Kruger. Now that
the water holes are filled and the rivers are flowing again, the
decimated populations of elephants and hippos and buffalo are bouncing
back, but it will take years to reach their former size.
In the meantime, with so many young mouths to feed and fewer animals to
hunt, it is the large lion prides that are under pressure.
A safari is a sensory overload and it takes a while to digest what
you've seen. There is nobility in the animals and their timeless
rituals, a rhythm to the rain and drought. But the entire system is at
risk in the age of exploding human populations.
If you are like me, you will leave your safari certain that this all
must be protected for future generations. That's why Vacations To Go has
been a corporate sponsor of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund since I trekked
to visit a gorilla family in Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park in
Vacations To Go supports the wonderful people who protect the last 900
mountain gorillas from extinction. We are a very, very small part of an
incredibly large conservation effort that must succeed throughout this
continent and the others.
As one of the leading operators of concessions, reserves and
accommodations in Africa, Singita is at the forefront of the
conservation effort. The company owns 12 amazing lodges and camps in
South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe and is the guardian of 1 million
acres of pristine land.
People who go on safari ultimately fund much of this conservation and
are an indispensable part of the solution.
In an hour, I'll climb into a bush plane to start my journey out of
South Africa. My safari is over far too quickly but I'm not headed home
I'll check in next week from the Earth's oldest desert.
To view photos or a slideshow from this leg of my journey, please
Alan Fox is traveling for the second time with the deluxe safari
operator SITA World Tours
. The company has more than 80 years of
experience and specializes in guided travel to exotic destinations.
SITA offers upscale safaris throughout Africa on scheduled departures
for small groups but will also customize a safari for as few as two
people. They work with the best lodges and guides in each destination
and take care of every detail.
The safari experts at Vacations To Go can help you find the perfect SITA
safari. To see SITA safari itineraries in Africa,
To see all SITA tours worldwide,
Here are this week's Top 15 Tours
. All prices are per person,
based on double occupancy, and subject to availability.
14 days with CostSaver by Trafalgar. Begins in London and ends in
Paris. Save $50 per couple.
Starting at $2,195. Departures from
September 10 through December 24, 2017.
The Exceptional Region of Bordeaux
5 days with CroisiEurope. Begins and ends in Bordeaux. Save 15%.
Starting at $1,512. Departures from April 14 through October 25, 2018.
Highlights of Taiwan
8 days with SITA World Tours. Begins and ends in Taipei. Starting at
$1,565. Departures from September 5 through December 12, 2017.
Tropical Costa Rica
9 days with Collette. Begins and ends in San Jose. Save $200 per
Starting at $1,799. Departures from October 7, 2017 through
April 6, 2019.
9 days with CIE Tours. Begins and ends in Dublin. Save 5%.
Starting at $1,800. Departures from April 14 through October 13, 2018.
8 days with American Queen Steamboat Company. Travels between New
Orleans and Memphis. Save $400 to $1,000 per couple, plus enjoy free
shore excursions and more.
Starting at $1,999. Departures from
January 8 through November 12, 2018.
Great Italian Cities
10 days with Trafalgar. Begins in Rome and ends in Venice. Save up to
Starting at $2,030. Departures from November 10, 2017 through
April 6, 2018.
10 days with Globus. Begins and ends in Munich. Save 10%.
Starting at $2,149. Departures from April 3 through December 2, 2018.
Sensations of Southern France
8 days with Emerald Waterways. Travels between Nice and Lyon. Fly for
free from select gateways.
Starting at $2,995. Departures from April
21 through October 13, 2018.
In the Footsteps of the Incas
10 days with Trafalgar. Begins and ends in Lima. Save up to 10%.
Starting at $3,481. Departures from February 13 through December 4, 2018.
Natural Wonders of Iceland
10 days with Insight. Begins and ends in Reykjavik. Save up to
Starting at $3,735. Departures from May 12 through September 8,
8 Day Delightful Douro
8 days with Scenic Cruises. Begins and ends in Porto. Fly from $495
Starting at $3,895. Departures from October 29 through
December 13, 2018.
The Complete South Pacific
27 days with Collette. Begins in Cairns and ends in Auckland. Save
$500 to $1,000 per couple.
Starting at $6,999. Departures from
October 14, 2017 through April 25, 2019.
Introduction to Spitsbergen
9 days with Quark Expeditions. Begins and ends in Longyearbyen. Save
$3,000 to $5,000 per couple.
Starting at $7,295. Departs June 4 &
Adventure to the Chilean Fjords and Antarctica
15 days with Hurtigruten. Begins and ends in Santiago. Save $4,000
Starting at $9,055. Departs November 7 & 20, 2017.
Customers in the US and Canada can call us toll-free at 800-680-2858.
For a list of our other toll-free numbers worldwide, click
For savings of up to 82% on ocean cruises, click
For river cruises up to 50% off, click
For discounts of up to 50% at hotels and all-inclusive resorts, click
For the lowest rates on Africa safaris from budget to luxury in quality,
Please email me your comments, suggestions and questions at
and I will respond the same day.
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Chairman & CEO
Vacations To Go