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Safari Newsletter Dated February 17, 2015

Dear Vacations To Go Customer,

In this newsletter, I'll tell you about Africa's best safari reserves for observing wildlife. There are several distinct regions that offer varying landscapes and specific game-viewing opportunities, as well as unique experiences that aren't related to the animals. Click any link to see a list of itineraries that visit that destination.

Follow the Great Migration. Tanzania and Kenya offer unparalleled wildlife viewing during the Great Migration, the annual movement of nearly 2 million animals (mostly wildebeest and zebras) between Serengeti National Park and the Masai Mara National Reserve. Many safaris visit both of these countries.

The 5,700-square-mile Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is perhaps the world's most famous game reserve. It's one of the best places on the continent to view prides of lions. Look for leopards in acacia trees and cheetahs and spotted hyenas on the plains. For a unique perspective, we can set you up on an unforgettable hot air balloon flight over the Serengeti as the sun rises.

Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve offers some of the best opportunities to see the "Big Five" -- lions, leopards, buffalo, elephants and rhinos. Other creatures to seek include hippos, Grant's gazelles and topis (a type of antelope).

See Africa's "Garden of Eden." This is the name given to the amazing Ngorongoro Crater, a caldera in Tanzania formed by the collapse of an ancient volcano. It is home to a dense wildlife population. More than 25,000 large animals live within its 100 square miles of desert, grasslands, forests, lakes and streams, and safari guests descend nearly 2,000 feet into the crater to see them.

Go where the flamingos flock. In Kenya, thousands of these long-legged pink birds gather at the shores of Lake Nakuru, where they feed on algae. This also is an ideal spot for spotting cormorants and hornbills, and it has a small population of black rhinos.

Explore South Africa's first national park. Established in northeastern South Africa in 1898, Kruger National Park is one of the largest wildlife reserves in Africa, with a rich abundance of animals, plant life and natural scenery, as well as archaeological findings. Sabi Sabi, a smaller preserve bordering Kruger, also hosts the Big Five and many smaller mammals such as hyenas, jackals and cheetahs.

Don't forget the marine wildlife. In the bustling South African city of Cape Town, two oceans meet at Cape Point Peninsula. The mingling warm and cool waters support a diverse cast of marine life including whales and fur seals. Many South Africa itineraries include a stop at the penguin colony of Boulders Beach.

View brilliant birds. Rose-hued carmine bee eaters, green-fronted Meyer's parrots and black-and-white trumpeter hornbills are among the species to watch for in Lower Zambezi National Park, a top preserve in Zambia that's known for its rich birdlife. To the north is another favorite park that's often featured on Zambia itineraries, South Luangwa National Park, home to baboons, vervet monkeys and crocodiles.

Marvel at "the smoke that thunders." Victoria Falls at the Zambia border often is incorporated into southern Africa safaris. It's the world's largest waterfall, based on height and width of the water sheet during the rainy period. During the peak of flooding, the spray from the falls rises high above the gorge and is visible from about 30 miles away, hence the original name, Mosi-oa-Tunya, or "the smoke that thunders." Near the falls, visitors can spot a variety of wildlife or take an elephant-back safari. The best game viewing is during the dry season from June to October.

Visit remote preserves. Botswana is nearly the size of Texas but has only about 2.15 million residents. Its game preserves are so vast and isolated that one must fly bush planes to and between them. The Moremi Game Reserve boasts an incredible predator population of lions, hyenas, leopards, cheetahs and wild dogs. Chobe National Park houses an enormous elephant herd. Meanwhile, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is the second-largest preserve in the world, where you can spot elands, giraffes and ostriches.

Track black rhinos. In Namibia, safari itineraries visit Etosha National Park, which is home to endangered black rhinos that gather at watering holes. Etosha also is a popular spot for nocturnal wildlife viewing. Namibia safaris may also travel to the southern end of the country to explore Fish River Canyon, bested in size only by the Grand Canyon. Hot springs on the canyon's floor form pools that attract waterbirds like Egyptian geese, olive thrushes and black storks. Mountain zebras, jackals and leopards also reside here.

Meet mountain gorillas. In Rwanda, see the rare mountain gorillas studied by zoologist Dian Fossey. Most Rwanda safaris center on Volcanoes National Park, where visitors follow trackers through the thick forests to locate families of these magnificent creatures, and then spend an hour observing them.

You also can come face-to-face with gorillas in Uganda, in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Chimpanzees and other primate species thrive in the evergreen forests of Kibale National Park. Uganda's most-visited preserve is Queen Elizabeth National Park, with nearly 100 mammal species and more than 600 bird species. Safari travelers often board a boat for a cruise along the Kazinga Channel to spot Nile crocodiles, hippos and elephants.

Top 10 Africa vacations

1) Namibia Getaway, 15 days with Intrepid Travel. Begins and ends in Windhoek with visits to Luderitz, Sossusvlei and Etosha National Park. Starting at $2,762. Departures from May 2, 2015 through December 17, 2016.

2) South Africa Escapade Safari Vacation, 8 days with African Travel. Begins in Cape Town and ends in Johannesburg with visits to Pilanesburg National Park. Starting at $1,899. Daily departures from April 25 through October 5, 2015.

3) Masai Footsteps, 7 days with SITA Tours. Begins and ends in Nairobi with visits to Masai Mara National Reserve, Lake Nakuru National Park and Amboseli National Park. Save $200 to $300 per couple. Starting at $2,350. Departures from March 5 through October 24, 2015.

4) Kenya Private Safari, 10 days with Monograms. Begins and ends in Nairobi with visits to Samburu National Reserve, Lake Nakuru National Park and Masai Mara National Reserve. Save $300 per couple. Starting at $4,049. Departures from March 7 through December 26, 2015.

5) Tanzania Lodge Safari, 8 days with Intrepid Travel. Begins and ends in Arusha with visits to Lake Manyara National Park, Serengeti National Park and Tarangire National Park. Starting at $4,355. Departures from June 21, 2015 through December 11, 2016.

6) Rwanda and Uganda Gorilla & Chimp Adventure, 9 days with G Adventures. Begins in Kigali and ends in Entebbe with visits to Volcanoes National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park. Starting at $4,949. Departures from July 4 through December 19, 2015.

7) East Africa: In Search of the Big Five, 12 days with Globus. Begins in Arusha and ends in Nairobi with visits to Serengeti National Park, Amboseli National Park and Masai Mara National Reserve. Receive $500 per couple in air credit. Starting at $5,319. Departures from June 15 through November 2, 2015.

8) South Africa: An Elegant Adventure (BBC Earth Journey), 12 days with Tauck. Begins in Cape Town and ends in Johannesburg with visits to Kruger National Park, Sabi Sands Game Reserve and Zambezi National Park. Starting at $7,090. Departures from March 27 through December 18, 2015.

9) Signature Uganda, 9 days with Abercrombie & Kent. Begins and ends in Entebbe with visits to Kibale National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Save $1,000 per person when you book four or more people. Starting at $7,195. Departures from March 18 through October 23, 2015.

10) Stars of South Africa, 16 days with AmaWaterways. Begins in Cape Town and ends in Johannesburg with visits to Chobe National Park, Victoria Falls and Greater Kruger National Park. Starting at $11,295. Departures from March 13 through November 6, 2015.

Customers in the US and Canada can call us toll-free at 800-291-3346. For a list of our other toll-free numbers worldwide, click here.

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Please e-mail me your comments, suggestions and questions at alanfox@africasafari.com and I will respond the same day.

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Alan Fox
Chairman & CEO
Vacations To Go

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