Agent Diary: I didn’t know safari river cruises existed, but I would not have changed a single thing

Ponders Travel’s Clare Dudley looks back at an ‘adventure of a lifetime’ in five countries in southern Africa

I recently discovered a true hidden gem that I have to share with you all. In December, I was fortunate enough to take a river cruise with CroisiEurope, which ended up being the trip of a lifetime.

I could be wrong, but I don’t imagine everyone reading this knew you could combine a safari with a river cruise. I certainly didn’t know it was possible before this trip. I had no idea I would ever have the opportunity to see so many of southern Africa’s treasures up close and personal in such a tranquil way.

I could be wrong, but I don’t imagine everyone reading this knew you could combine a safari with a river cruise

The trip allowed me to visit five countries in one holiday, spread over just nine days: South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Travelling along the Chobe River, and then on Lake Kariba, we saw so many animals.

We saw hippos, elephants, antelopes, impalas, kudus, baboons, buffalos, crocodiles, warthogs and so many wonderful species of bird.

We stayed in the most peaceful and luxurious lodges; we enjoyed sailing on our own little boat with just eight cabins; and we travelled on the smallest of light aircraft that had space for only two passengers.

At one with nature

In the national parks, where we were led by guides, and on the water, it felt as if we were the only people on the planet. The guides worked so hard to ensure we saw as much wildlife as possible and got as close as we could.

On the trip I was joined by a lot of other agents from around the world, all of whom had travelled to Africa many times and enjoyed many different safaris. They all said that this experience was their favourite, and agreed that the very intimate way in which it was run allowed them to feel more at one with nature. This left us all feeling very special.

When we were in the national parks exploring the vast landscapes in our off-road vehicle, we didn’t see another soul

Most of the travelling we did was on the water, which was idyllic – I didn’t miss cars and traffic one bit! However, I have to say it was a little inconvenient having to wait for some hippos to cross in front of us on several occasions (I jest, of course). When we were in the national parks exploring the vast landscapes in our off-road vehicle, we didn’t see another soul, which added to the intimate feel of the trip.

Better and better

As I woke each day and imagined what it might have in store, I tried to manage my expectations by saying to myself, ‘There’s no way today will be as good as yesterday as it was so amazing’. But to my delight, each day just got better and better.

In all my travels I don’t think I have ever come back from a trip where I genuinely could not find one single thing I would have changed

To finish the safari and this adventure of a lifetime, we took a trip to Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River – the icing on the cake. In all my travels I don’t think I have ever come back from a trip where I genuinely could not find one single thing I would have changed, until this one. It was incredible.

Sailings on the Chobe River are offered by CroisiEurope and AmaWaterways, as well as many of the African specialists such as African Pride. The itinerary I did was Croisi’s nine-day sailing from South Africa to Zimbabwe, which I will be recommending to my customers at every opportunity from now on.


Perks, praise and partners

I’ve been reminded lately of how great the perks of being a travel agent are. This peaks, the booking incentives and competitions have been fabulous. I’ve had reps ringing up to thank us for bookings and sending gifts, plus we have won incredible prizes and been rewarded with vouchers for our loyalty. The team feel very valued and are so grateful for everything that is offered.

We have also had some great visits from lovely tour reps. To receive regular reminders about the products on offer and know that these reps are on hand if needed is so helpful. So, I would like to say a big thank you to our trade partners for making us feel so special!

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