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Africa Adventure Consultants 2023 Staff Travel Highlights

December 5, 2023  By: Gretchen

We love travel! Whether planning it for others or when we have the chance to get out and explore for ourselves, it’s our daily driver and our life’s passion. Every year, we explore the destinations we specialize in – both to ensure our expertise is up to date and to kindle the fire for our everyday work. This year was no exception, and the Africa Adventure Consultants team roamed myriad locales in Africa and beyond.

We love hearing about our travelers’ special experiences on their vacations, so we thought we would share some of our own. Here is a roundup of some of our top wildlife sightings of 2023!

Kelly with silverback gorilla

When AAC President Kent Redding visited Uganda and Rwanda, his top sightings were while his family was trekking to see mountain gorillas.

“Trekking for mountain gorillas is one of my all-time favorite safari activities and returning to trek again in Rwanda and Uganda in June reaffirmed my opinion. My family especially enjoyed visiting Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda for the babies and juveniles and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda for silverback sightings – we got VERY up close and personal with three silverbacks there.” – Kent

lioness up close

Kent wasn’t the only visitor to Rwanda this year. AAC Journey Specialist Angie visited Magashi Camp in the lesser-known Akagera National Park. During her visit, she was the only guest and had the concession to herself! She loved the solitude (with 14,826 acres all to herself!) and came home with a special memory.

“Akagera is a conservation success story. The park started with only 7 lions from Phinda in South Africa and now has a population of more than 60. One of the lions in the pride of 4 we spotted was one of the original 7. He died of old age only a couple of weeks after my visit. After 8 years, ‘King Ntwari’s’ reign sadly came to an end. It is not only the beautiful sightings that I find captivating on safari, but also the rawness, fragility and realities of the bush and the circle of life (and our role in protecting it!)” – Angie

wild dogs

AAC Journey Specialist Hilary had the chance to visit Makanyi Private Game Lodge in South Africa’s Timbavati Private Nature Reserve in the Greater Kruger ecosystem. She experienced a plethora of wildlife riches while on safari!

“I had the most incredible safari. Not only did we see all the Big Five animals on our first game drive in the reserve, but we also saw a mother cheetah with her male cub and, to round out the Magnificent Seven on the same day, we watched hyena try to steal a kill from a pack of wild dogs. Wild dog are my favorites! We were the only vehicle around and spent over an hour following these busy hunters as they rushed along the roads, played in the bushes with one another and even took a pause for a quick 5-minute nap in the warm morning sun. Wild dog are always on the move, so a long sighting like this is rare indeed!” – Hilary

Nell looking at lion

AAC Safari Concierge Nell also visited South Africa this year, staying at Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge, among other properties. She, like Hilary, had an incredible array of sightings in a short period of time!

“Within minutes of being picked up from the Sabi Sabi Airstrip, I was rubbing my eyes to see if what was in front of me was real. A family of elephants (little baby and all) were showing off as they were drinking from a watering hole right beside the road. Next, we took off for an evening safari and within less than an hour came across two male lions enjoying the dirt while digesting their lunch. We got so close, we could hear their breath. That same night we spotted leopard, and again the following morning! It was incredible to see these large cats up close and personal going about their days. Within just 3 days of being at Sabi Sabi, I witnessed all of the Big 5 and more.” – Nell

Diana with tortoises

AAC Journey Specialist Diana visited Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands this year. It’s one of our Out of Africa destinations and is much beloved by wildlife enthusiasts.

“I absolutely loved seeing the giant tortoises on Santa Cruz Island, learning their history and about the work being done to rehabilitate their population numbers. Seeing them in person was absolutely fantastic! I also really enjoyed the cactus trees and iguanas on Santa Fe island.” – Diana


AAC Journey Specialist Sara enjoyed a safari in Namibia this year and reveled in its incredible desert environment.

“Searching for and finding desert-adapted wildlife in landscapes that sometimes appear as though they couldn’t support life is incredible! You work a bit harder for your sightings, making the rewards even richer. One day, we searched for desert-adapted elephants in the Huab riverbed. After following tracks (and finding some beautiful Angolan giraffe), we came upon the elephants – it was magic. It was a hot day and some of the babies were laying on the ground napping under the trees. It was really unique!” – Sara


cheetah brothers

AAC Marketing Director Beth visited Tanzania this fall and had high hopes of spotting cheetah in Serengeti National Park, as she hadn’t been in cheetah-rich areas on previous safaris.

“My last morning in the Serengeti was what safari dreams are made of! Our group set out at sunrise on a ‘cheetah mission.’ Every few minutes, our guide would stop the vehicle, scan the horizon with his binoculars and then continue driving. I’d secretly started to give up hope that we’d find them when our guide excitedly said he spotted cheetah ears in the distance. Off we went! He expertly positioned the vehicle so we could see the cheetah brothers walk towards us. The cheetahs walked right where he predicted and our group spent a long time watching them walk, scan the horizon for signs of danger, groom themselves, take a rest and then finally continue their morning stroll. It was the perfect way to end my safari.” – Beth


lion pride

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Photos courtesy AAC President Kent Redding; AAC Journey Specialists Angie Voigt, Hilary Walters, Diana Garcia Hernandez and Sara Stark; AAC Safari Concierge Nell Pollak and AAC Marketing Director Beth McCabe