South African Getaway with Ker & Downey
Ker & Downey is a tour operator that is new to the FROSCH preferred vendor program. They can help you build tailor made itineraries for trips all over the world, from Bhutan in Asia to Botswana in Africa. I was lucky enough to spend some quality time with Steve Ellis from Personal Africa (K&D’s South Africa destination management company) and Wazha Dube, FROSCH NY’s Regional Sales Manager from Ker & Downey during their visit to our New York office to talk about some of the things that make visiting South Africa such a life-changing experience. Click on the links to for more information on each destination.
What is the most unique vacation package you’ve put together?
You’re not going to find any two itineraries that are identical, so they’re all truly unique. There are a couple of interesting itineraries that we’ve put together recently that do come to mind. One was for a group of Shamans to the Kalahari Desert in Botswana for a 4-day tribal experience with the bushmen. Another great itinerary we put together was for two adventurous honeymooners who wanted a private shark diving experience. We really strive to marry the clients’ interests with the best of Africa, whether that be creating a trip highlighting South Africa’s award winning golf courses, culinary experiences, wine regions, whale watching, flora/fauna tours, or seeking out showings of upcoming artists, we can make it happen. Another example was a family group recently approached us about putting together a vacation solely based around cats so we created an itinerary that traveled the country to observe and interact with cheetahs, lions, leopards and more. The more unique, the more fun it is for us to put together.
What is the most memorable wildlife experience you’ve witnessed while on safari?
There are fascinating things that happen in the wild every day. Having the opportunity to experience different animals interacting and witnessing the circle of life occur before your eyes, is a hard thing to put into words. Everyone should experience that in their lifetime.
If there is one experience or feeling that you wish all of your clients could walk away with, what would that be?
I would like everyone to walk away saying that it was the best vacation of their life. Most of the people that come to Africa want to come back. It’s a shame that so many people think of Africa as only a dream vacation, as if it’s less attainable than other destinations in Europe, for example.
Why do you think people treat Africa as if it were such a distant goal?
I believe they are afraid of the unknown when traveling. They feel that in other, more westernized, countries, things like car transfers, meals, excursions, etc. are more attainable but that’s simply not the case, especially if you’re in the hands of K&D. Another factor is that the destination has become famous as a romantic getaway, they may wait until their kids get older; however, it is also extremely educational so I would strongly encourage families to visit. I also think people may be concerned about security since it is a more remote destination, however, being an expert in the region, I always tell people that the most dangerous part of coming to South Africa is that you’ll want to spend the money to come back.
There are quite a few of less traveled regions that I think people should visit but don’t always take in on most itineraries. With that said, if it’s someone’s first time in South Africa I would recommend the more traveled itineraries to Cape Town and Kruger National Park, for example. However, if I were building a trip for a client coming to Southern Africa for the second time, I would be sure to include Namibia or Zambia. Namibia is mostly desert land but there is such a stark beauty about it. There are elephants there that have adapted to living in a desert, when they typically survive on copious amounts of water– it’s fascinating. The Okavango Delta is another location in Botswana that would excite even the most well-traveled individual. There are really strict tourism volume limits on this area so it’s never overcrowded and wildlife is really protected. The delta is home to one of the world’s largest inland water systems so you also witness some amazing evolutionary miracles here. For example, lions and monkeys have adapted to swimming in this region. Another incredible site would be to see the Victoria Falls, one of the 7 natural wonders of the world! Shared by both Zambia and Zimbabwe it is credited with being the largest sheet of falling water in the world.