Looking Back/Looking Forward (2)

BY Lisa Lindblad

December 17, 2009

I spent three weeks in South Africa recently and returned with these gems – three world-class, small museums, inspiring contemporary craft, two hotels, one new and one well loved, and the art of storytelling.  Craft is everywhere in South Africa (see my September writeup on my blog and can be accessed in shops likeAfrica Nova in Cape Town or in project-specific locations like Light in,

The three superior museums are the Gold of Africa Museum in Cape Town, Durban’s Phansi Museum with its staggering collection of African beadwork and Kalk BayModern that houses the best of craft from all over South Africa.  It is worth having a look at all of their websites and visiting them when in country.
My other great experience in South Africa was the two days I spent at Nikki Rattray’s lodge, Fugitive’s Drift, learning about the Anglo-Zulu battles of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift.  I had forgotten what an essential pleasure it is to be captivated by a story spun by a master storyteller.
For anyone interested in the great wine estates of South Africa, a visit to Delaire Graff Estate in Stellenbosch is a must. With a hotel and spa forthcoming, the beauty of the cellar and restaurant design, coupled with the lovely view, is worth the visit.
I wish everyone could go to South Africa’s Cape Town simply to bed down at Ellerman House, one of my favorite hotels in the world.  Run like a happy home to which you hold the keys, the service is perfection, the mood warm, the location and view unsurpassed – oh,my, it is just a corner of heaven!
Southern, Central & East Africa
I recently attended a conference on luxury travel and came across three companies that offer experiences I long to have. Abu Camp, located in Botswana, is in the process of being revamped. I cannot wait for the launch. To spend time with African elephants has to be one of the great experiences.
The second adventure I would love to have is to ride horseback in Bostwana’s Okavango Delta. If you are a seasoned horseman I cannot imagine a bush experience of more beauty and freedom than this, riding across plains,pools and rivers and through herds of elephant and gazelle.
The final journey is to the Great Apes of Africa.  I think this meeting of Ape and Man is a must. Praveen Moman, a spiritual and deeply committed individual, has created a network of lodges and some of the best safari itineraries in Uganda andRwanda.
Tanzania’s fabulous Lupita Island is owned by Tom Lithgow, son of a renowned Tanzanian safari family. Located in Lake Burundi, the island lodge is incredibly glam for the East African bush, but it has not lost its bush edge.  You are really “out there” when you are on Lake Burundi but,these days, you must be that far removed to see and feel the Africa of old.  Local activities are water-based – snorkeling, diving, boating – but it is the other excursions that really make this a sexy place.  Tom has the only commercially registered helicopter in TZ, and he uses it to max advantage, flying over Africa’s second highest waterfalls, tracing the rift valley, landing at his other two camps, one on a huge tract of plains and the other at Mahale Mountain to visit the chimps. My goodness, the freedom of being able to move at will into places that NO ONE has seen before is enthralling.
Finally,it is with the Northern Rangeland Trust that I finish my Africa offering.  NRT is the brainchild of a remarkable man, Ian Craig, whose name some of you may recognize from Kenya’s Lewa Downs and Lewa Conservancy. NRT is a hugely ambitious project that has nothing less as its goal than to protect the entire northern sector of Kenya from all manner of degradation. The vision is ambitious, the dedication is fierce and, as a step child of Kenya, I can only say that we are blessed: at the most critical juncture of this country’s development, we have a man who has stepped up to the plate with the confidence and the brilliance that will be required to protect what is left.


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John Derian Goes West