Experience the adventure of a lifetime, and the essence of Africa, on this unique, bespoke, responsible adventure that has a focus on the preservation of this wild and beautiful land and the wildlife that roam there. This is the ultimate African experience, travelling in a small women-only group, and we can guarantee by the time you leave, the burning red sunsets and the incredible hospitality of the locals will have hooked you, and it won't be long until you're itching to get back.
This once-in-a-lifetime experience is not your regular safari. It’s a unique andpersonalised adventure, searching for wildlife and exploring the beautiful landscape in the magnificent Hoedspruit area in South Africa.
You’ll be working with the teams of experienced wildlife veterinary surgeons and conservational professionals on one of their vital projects, such as Elephant collaring, trekking, tracking and collaring wild dogs, or lions or dehorning rhino. You work with the wildlife experts responding to their needs according to the urgency on the ground that week.
It’s on the ground, genuine, and vital conservation work and a unique privilege to work with those most involved with preserving and protecting African wildlife species.
You’ll also discover rushing rivers, the awe-inspiring slopes of the Drakensberg, all manner of wildlife in the world-renowned Kruger National Park, relax under the stars in a remote lodge that lies deep in the wilderness, enjoy beautifully made bush dinners by crackling campfires…
Spot white lions, rhinos, elephants, giraffes, wild dogs, aardvarks, hippos, crocodiles… the list goes on. But you won’t simply be going out to spot these incredible animals, you’ll be helping to preserve this incredible, yet delicate ecosystem on with a variety of conservation groups, NGOs, and not for profits, the details of which can be found in the day by day itinerary below.
Fall in love with the beat of Africa, as you cruise the landscape with a cold beer in one hand and the sun setting over the horizon, and enjoy the experience of a lifetime.
9 days / 8 nights in Gorgeous, friendly, wildlife-filled South Africa at top notch resorts and lodges
Experience an authentic wilderness trip incorporating conservation project(s) such as collaring to protect elephants and other wildlife
Game Drive through the Iconic Kruger National Park in search of the Big Five in their untouched magnificent habitat
Drink in jaw-dropping mountain views, as well as the spectacular Blyde River Canyon, one the world's largest green canyons
Experience an early morning hot air balloon ride with superb photo opportunities of the amazing landscapes and wildlife
Join the ranks of the Global few who have powerfully impacted the Elephants Alive Project or The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) with the funds raised on this expedition, and for this we thank you!
Connect and create lifelong friendships with people from around the world who are just as passionate about making a difference as you
Your Local Host:
An inveterate traveler, I’ve been to nearly 70 countries (and counting). I come alive when I travel, when I’m exploring, and when I’m seeing, tasting and feeling something new. I love to help other women experience this sensation as I truly feel it helps us see a larger world of possibilities within ourselves. The experiences I offer are an invitation to travel with me to explore another part of the world while we explore another part of ourselves.
On arrival at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, you’ll be welcomed by your guides and driver. Assistance will be on hand at the airport for Currency Exchange, SIM card purchases etc. You’ll then start our journey to Hoedspruit, which should take approximately 5-6 hours travel time. Should you want to arrive a day in advance we can help you sort out a hotel and pick you up there.
Hoedspruit is located between the world-renowned Blyde River Canyon and Kruger National Park. Blyde River Canyon is one of the largest canyons on earth extending 26km’s in length and around 800m deep at its deepest point.
Your accommodation for the next five nights will be the 4-star Unembeza Boutique Lodge & Spa, situated on the greenbelt of the Hoedspruit Wildlife Estate. Your closest neighbours are free-roaming general game species such as Giraffes, Zebra, Kudu and Warthogs, but guests should also keep an eye out for the shy resident leopards that are seen on a regular basis.
The absence of lion, elephant, buffalo and rhino gives you an opportunity to explore nature and discover your inner game ranger on foot, mountain bikes or horseback. Unembeza offers a carefully curated selection of custom safaris, tours and activities and is genuinely a one-stop destination where you can enjoy everything the Lowveld has to offer.
On arrival at the lodge, you will have time to relax and get accustomed to your surroundings before getting ready for a lovely dinner and a special Lodge welcome.
Unembeza Boutique Lodge & Spa
The Magic Begins
Today you have an EARLY start. Weather permitting, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in the magic of a Lighter-than-Air Hot Air Balloon experience near the foot of the Drakensberg Escarpment.
Your one-hour long flightwill take us over the scenic, Lowveld section of the Blyde River, 15 km West of Hoedspruit. The terrain is a mixture of farmland, private nature reserves and wildlife estates. The mountains to the South and West provide shelter from the prevailing winds, providing good flying weather on most days.
Meet before sunrise for a quick coffee, while you watch the magnificent balloon being inflated and prepared for flight. After a safety briefing you should be airborne in time to witness the sunrise.
The height above ground will vary between skimming the tree-tops to as high as 2,000 feet as the pilot changes altitude in search of favourable wind directions and speeds.
As the sun rises, the landscape, the vegetation and, if you’re lucky, some wildlife will provide superb photo opportunities. Game spotting cannot be guaranteed, but on most flights, you see plains game like giraffe and wildebeest.
The landing is an exciting event because the basket meets the earth at whatever speed the surface wind is at the time. Light air allows the softest of landings while fresh breezes necessitate a “positive” landing so that the basket can serve as an anchor to slow the envelope down.
If not already at the landing site, the ground crew will soon arrive to deflate and pack the balloon while you enjoy a glass of champagne or fruit juice.
The afternoon will allow you to get closer to nature inside a Private Game Reserve 20 minutes from the lodge. You’ll enjoy our own private safari with an experienced guide where we’ll get to witness a much bigger variety of wildlife.
Unembeza Boutique Lodge & Spa
A Day of Conservation
Today is a WOW day!! You’ll be working side by side with the professional wildlife vets and the team from Elephants Alive or similar, collaring an elephant (or another animal). Today you’ll want to bring out your inner Jane Goodall or Dian Fossey.
There are several critical reasons why we need to raise funds to collar elephants in this area:
Scientific research: As in everything in life, the best decisions are knowledge-based. Similarly, safeguarding and preserving Africa’s elephant population is heavily dependent on quality data. Experts must be able to monitor the animals’ movements and migration routes.
The elephants you’ll be working with are known to travel great distances over a short period of time, across man-made borders to other protected areas within the Great Limpopo Trans Frontier Conservation Area.
How does this impact on water and food access?How do the elephants’ journeys affect communities living in and around these protected areas?And how best do we protect the animals and humans under these circumstances? The answers are based on scientific research i.e. crucial data that the collars will provide.
Collars help save elephant lives: Human-wildlife conflict is an age-old dilemma. The collars provide experts with critical data and helps them make life-saving decisions so that people and elephants can co-exist in harmony.
Fully understanding jumbo behaviour and movement will fuel significant, impactful decision-making and intervention measures.
The collars provide real-time data so rangers, for example, can move in if necessary, with rapid response teams and herd the animals away if they wander too close to communities, or they can close in on poachers decimating Africa’s elephant populations.
If an animal is poached the transmitter will show researchers that the animal has not moved, and they can immediately send in the response team to see what’s happening.
There is much riding on this elephant-collaring mission. You are invited to help save lives (elephants and people) within thisprecious area of exquisite natural beauty.
The Specialist Team from Elephants Alive
Elephants Alive represents a South African based NGO consisting of a small but impactful team who have consistently developed research-based information to help managers best protect elephants throughout Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and beyond.
They have extensive experience collaring elephants and networking with other NGOs to achieve what is best for elephants. They’re an experienced team, having deployed close to 200 collars throughout Southern Africa since 1998. Elephants Alive have collared many elephants with Blue Sky Society Trust.
The elephants that you have collared are functioning as trailblazers, showing us how, where and when you should be connecting Protected Areas across the landscape. This is an exceptional experience and something many people will never get to experience.
**SAFETY: Both the animals’ and vets’ safety is ALWAYS their #1 priority so you’ll work under their guidance.The vets’ and pilot’s urgency is to get the animals down in a safe area, collared, checked for any ailments, and then up and back into the bush as safely and fast as possible. They will do everything in their power to include you as much as possible, where and when possible. PLEASE note: we run all our conservation expeditions under strict ethical rules.
After your once-in-a-lifetime adventure with the wild elephants, you’ll head back to your lodge for rest and relaxation before drinks and dinner when you can re-live your exciting stories from today’s exploits.
Unembeza Boutique Lodge & Spa
Explore the Kruger
Today is all about exploring the Kruger National Park. You’ll have the pleasure of taking a truly authentic safari that will give you an unbelievable overview of this iconic wildlife destination.
The entire day will be spent in your comfortable open vehicles with expert guides, taking lunch on the run as you explore inside the world-famous Kruger National Park.
Kruger National Park is over 2 million hectares, nearly 5 million acres in size, with approximately 145 mammal species, over 500 bird species and over 1,986 plant species. If you’ve never been on safari it’s nearly impossible to describe the thrill as you see each new variety of animal or bird. It’s an experience you will never ever forget.
As the sun lowers, you’ll return to our lodge for a delicious meal in the evening.
It has been said that even an hour in paradise is a rewarding experience… a whole day is a life-changing experience.
Unembeza Boutique Lodge & Spa
The Panorama Tour – nowhere else will you see so much natural wonder in such close proximity.
Today you’ll journey to some of the most captivating sights located within South Africa’s Mpumalanga province. The scenic route includes dramatic landscapes, the world’s third-largest canyon, the incredible Tufa waterfalls, and God’s Window – one of the most breathtaking views you’ll ever encounter.
You’ll also see Bourke’s Luck Potholes, a natural water feature marking the beginning of the Blyde River Canyon. The Potholesare swirling whirlpools caused by waterborne sand and rocks grinding huge, cylindrical holes into the river rocks, often described as a Giant’s Kettle.
Dinner will be relaxed back at the lodge with time before reserved for enjoying the spa.
Unembeza Boutique Lodge & Spa
Migrate to Kambaku
Today we’ll be moving to our new accommodation in the Timbervati area.
Kambaku is the Tsonga word for “great tusker.” It is the name of one of Africa’s Magnificent Seven – the largest elephant bulls once found in the Kruger National Park, each with tusks weighing 50kg and more.
Kambaku represents a part of African heritage that is worth protecting.Lodge owners Bryce and Nicola were determined to raise their two children in an environment where our wildlife could be conserved, treasured and admired by the world.
Today, their vision has been actualised in three travel destinations – each one distinct in character and its innate sense of reverence for the natural realm.This 4-star experience is designed to bring people together, to open a window to a new way of thinking about safari travel.
After your arrival, savor a sumptuous high tea before you head out for an afternoon game drive with sundowners in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, a vast expanse of 60,000 hectares of pristine African bushveld.
This is a conservation area that borders the ubiquitous Kruger National Park. In 1993, the fences between these two areas were removed to encourage the natural migration of each park’s species.
You’ll be guided by an expert team of game rangers who will welcome you into the world of Africa’s wildlife. Encounter wildlife basking in the golden glow of the afternoon sun and then you’ll raise a glass to the setting sun as you enjoy a personalised selection of drinks and snacks, surrounded by the living silhouettes of the majestic African bushveld.
Drive back to camp as night falls while your tracker illuminates the world around you, identifying nocturnal wildlife. Your arrival will be met with a delectable dining experience indoors or under a starlit sky, weather depending.
Kambaku Safari Lodge
The Big Five
Today is BIG FIVE Day!
The morning game drives depart just before sunrise. Wake up to a cheerful morning call and start your day with a freshly brewed cup of tea or coffee.
After some time, stop for a bush breakfast, something to be treasured. Expect sightings of some of the region’s rarest wildlife – White Lions, African wild dogs, and bashful Aardvarks.
Upon your return, you’ll be met with a delicious brunch served by your accommodating and approachable culinary team.
After you’re full and satisfied you’ll have time to relax, read or nap before our afternoon game drive.
This afternoon you’ll head out back into the Timbavati Private Nature reserve, searching for the world-renowned Big Five: Lion, Leopard, Rhino, Elephant and Buffalo, that roam freely in an untouched habitat.
Tonight’s meal will be back at the Lodge. As John Hemingway once said; “If I have ever seen magic, it has been in Africa.”
Kambaku Safari Lodge
A Dinner Under the Stars
Today you continue to explore and look for wildlife. You could spend 100 days in the wild and still not see everything it offers.
Tonight, we have a treat instore for you! A Bush Dinner. You’ll spend your last night in the magnificent Timbervati eating delicious food while listening to the nightlife around you.
This experience will leave an imprint on your hearts – the sounds of the wild while a million stars dance above your head and a campfire crackles in the dark.
Kambaku Safari Lodge
Farewell to Africa
Sadly your time in the Timbervati area has come to an end, but you will know that your life has been enriched forever.
You will be collected by our road transfer company and driven to Hoedspruit East Airport, where a chartered airplane will fly you to OT airport in Johannesburg in time to catch your afternoon flight.
As you get ready for your flight home, you can take the time to reflect and remember an incredible adventure. You’ll arrive in JHB by 12h00, so any connecting flights must be booked for the late afternoon or evening.
“Africa changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there you will never be the same.” Brian Jackman
Your guides and driver will meet you at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, where you will be taken on the 5-6 hour drive to the beginning of your African adventure.
Should you want a day to acclimatise and rest before the start of the itinerary, we can recommend a hotel for you to stay in and pick you up from there on the first itinerary day. The reason we drive you to Hoedspruit is that we can’t be certain there will be a local flight available when you arrive. Should this change, we can arrange a local flight at an extra cost.
You will be staying in Hoedspruit, located between the jaw-dropping Blyde River Canyon and the world-renowned Kruger National Park, in the Unembeza Boutique Lodge and Spa, for the first 5 nights of your stay. It’s a stunning location, with more info at the bottom of the page.
Expedition leader, native South African – Carla Geyser
Guide/Hostess – Doni Belau
All accommodation (**Single occupancy, you can save if you want to share)
All meals & water as shown in itinerary
National Park fees & taxes where applicable
Allocated Wine and/or local beer at dinner to the value of $30pp per day
$1,000pp fundraising for our chosen beneficiary: Elephants Alive Charity(This is INCLUDED in your rate)
Road Transfer from JHB OT Airport to Hoedspruit (Day 1)
Local Charter Flight from Hoedspruit (HDS) to JHB (Day 9)
All activities detailed in the itinerary
Transportation to and from Hoedspruit airport and in between lodges
Any International Flights & any necessary transfers to get to the start/finish of the expedition
Gratuities (*We recommend US$ 5 to 10 per guide or activity)
Any visas & border costs
Additional alcoholic drinks & snacks
Any personal expenses or souvenirs
Comprehensive travel insurance (*Compulsory*)
Any extra nights’ accommodation desired (pre/post expedition)
Any extra activities not mentioned in itinerary
The actual cost of this once-in-a-lifetime safari expedition is $6,995, but in order to have unique wildlife experiences created just for us, we have agreed to make a $1,000 donation per client towards the Wildlife preservation organization, Elephants Alive
In addition, please note that all of our trips are organized and priced based on single occupancy at all the places we stay. If you’re traveling with a friend/relative or would prefer to save some money by sharing a room, we can usually organize double occupancy and a reduction in cost.
The Hot Air Balloon is weather dependent - they will let us know the afternoon before.
We have a Bush breakfast and Bush Dinner in store for you, but these are also weather dependent.
We’ll have exclusivity at the lodge so if we need to change our itinerary slightly, we have a bit of wriggle room.
This expedition is about helping and learning about wildlife conservation but also about your own enjoyment and discovery.
Our partner on the ground in South Africa and the trip leader is Carla Geyser, founder of the Blue Sky Society Trust (BSST) and Blue Sky Expeditions who has led many successful Safaris all over Africa.
If you are an enthusiastic adventurer who is passionate about conservation and takes life as it comes, then this incredible experience is tailor-made for you! Her organization brings together like-minded people from around the world on trips that focus on exploring while raising funds for wildlife initiatives along the route.
This is an exclusive female-only trip.
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Give us a call or email to request your preferred dates and we’ll get in touch with our host to see what’s available.