Irene V, Larksville, Pa. - June 2015
Michelle Addison of Drive and Dive Safaris was absolutely wonderful. She
helped us plan every detail for our African Safari. She made great
suggestions and I was pleasantly surprised to see her suggestions were even
better than I anticipated. This was our third trip to Africa and I must
say I would highly recommend her to everyone considering traveling to
Africa. Every detail of our trip was planned perfectly with no surprises. We
stayed at two different lodges in different countries. She booked our
flights and hotels as well as transportation from place to place. Someone
was waiting to pick us up as soon as we landed. Michele even called us to
make sure everything was going well.
I was a little hesitant wiring money
to a foreign company but I can tell you the entire process was seamless.
we return for a 4th time, I will be reaching out to Michele!!!!
The Munari Family, Italy. June 2008
I return to your mail of some days ago, with request for comments.
Here are some pictures of the leopards: they explain already some of our achievements.
More generally, let me tell you that we have been very happy and satisfied by the holiday and by your excellent activity.
The game reserves were fabulous and all persons involved at any level have acted very professionally: both Phinda and LH are magnificent places to stay and enjoy your nature and hospitality.
To place some ranking, the game reserves have been better than St. Lucia: not so much for the hotel (clearly not comparable to the lodges, but this was fully taken into account), but for the trip to the estuary: compared to what we could see at the game reserves, if we were to do the trip once again we would probably skip it, because animals were seen too much in the distance, and the boats were too crowded (and in fact maybe too large to come closer to the animals).
Clearly, this is not a criticism, but only what I understand was your request for comments: good that it was our starting, and not the final part of the trip.
On the other hand, whale watching was very exciting and very well done and organised, although the sea conditions did not allow us to fully exploit the opportunity. Yet, while we would no longer make the trip to the estuary, for sure another whale watching, if ever possible, would be tried again.
The statue we bought in Durban has also arrived, so that no single part of the trip went different that optimal.
Needless to stay, the largest merit of this is yours, and I am really happy to acknowledge it again and to represent our gratefulness to you for your superb work.
Because Africa is one place where we always wish to return, I am quite sure we shall be in touch again in the future.
Kisses from the whole family
Melissa Haynes, Canada. January 2008
Michelle Addison of Drive and Dive Safaris provided us with exemplary service. I would highly recommend her to everyone considering traveling to Africa. She planned our trip perfectly and as each day passed and we moved on to a new lodge, the experience just got better and better. We booked our holiday last minute and she was able to get us in to all the best places, arrange our air travel and was awaiting us at the airport.
She was always early to pick us up and ensured we were always safe and secure. We have nothing but positive memories on what was the journey of a lifetime!
Do not hesitate to book with Michelle, you will not be disappointed.
Although I have traveled extensively, this was the first time I used a travel agent to help me arrange a trip. I enjoy doing the research and scheduling vacations. As I'm sure you could tell, I have very strong feelings about where I want to stay and where I want to visit. You handled that part of the process exactly how I hoped you would and I know that wasn't easy. I was even more difficult when it came to pricing the trip and once again, you were able to resolve any issues I raised in a very professional and amicable manner.
You suggested the Drakensburg/Midlands part of the trip and I'm thankful you did because there was no way I could have envisioned the sights, sounds, smells and shopping we were able to enjoy. Even though Sara was scared silly and the weather didn't cooperate, the memory of the trip up the Sani Pass will be with us for many years. In a similar manner, the memories of the Midlands Meander, Howick Falls and The St. Lucia Estuary will remain vivid. Who could ever forget the Hartford House and the World Cup? Sara and I still chuckle whenever we tell the story about entering our room and laughing out loud about its spectacular size and gorgeous furnishings. You absolutely "aced" that selection.
There were times when you needed to keep us on schedule and you did. All the transfers and transportation components were perfect, except for the internal flight tickets, which we managed to overcome quite easily. In a few weeks, the name question will be moot!!
On a personal note, Sara and I enjoyed the time you spent with us and the unique perspective that you provided. It was a definite enhancement of our experiences and are thankful that you took the time to be with us. Your personal commitment to our trip was greatly appreciated. Hope to be able to use your services again and, most importantly, hope to be able to refer you to our friends who want an Absolutely African experience!!!
Stan and Sara
The Kwa-Zulu part of the Bidborough CC 2007 tour to South Africa was was of the many highlights of this tour to South Africa.
From my first dealing with you the efficient and helpful service I received regarding the planning and developing the perfect tour of St Lucia and HluHluwe to contacts for coaches and attractions in and around Durban was brilliant. (Unfortunately the sea conditions put paid to any sea trips)
Once we arrived at Durban Airport the coach was ready and waiting and stocked with all the requirements to refresh a slight jaded travel weary group.
The accommodation and tours provided in and around St Lucia were perfect for the needs of the tour as they provided good quality accommodation with the mix of African wildlife that insured the group felt they really experienced "Africa at it Roots".
There were only compliments received about the service and amenities provided by you through Real Africa Safari's and the best form of the compliment can be evidenced by the fact that at least half the tour group has booked again for the 2009 tour that I haven't even started organising yet. In fact the reports were so good I have 10 additional people offering a deposit for the next tour as they are so desperate not to miss out.
Thanks again for the great experience and the perfect start to our SA tour.
We have developed a tour photo DVD which I will send back with my mother when she visits over Xmas.
Bidborough Cricket Club, UK
South Africa is a wonderful country, and all the people we met from SA were really pleasant and helpful. As for your leg of the journey, it was fantastic.
All three of us were very pleased with the accomodations and the service. Sabi Sabi was a great way to start that leg of the journey. Of course, we had the presidential suite and it was fantastic. The game viewing was phenomenal--we did have one character on a couple of our game drives that was a little annoying, not only to us but to the ranger and tracker. We were sorry to leave, and because the staff there were so attentive, we felt a sense of loss in leaving them.
Mala Mala was the less plush of the three lodges we stayed at, but still was very nice, with good service. It actually had the best game viewing in terms of numbers and seeing all the big 5. Service was excellent, too, although not as personal. Then, off to Jabulani. The accomodations really give you the feel of being in the old colonial luxurious bush. Separate, very private accomodations. The game viewing was excellent, here, too, and the service was more personal than Mala Mala. The bottle of champagne (thank you) was a nice touch on our last evening game drive. I will tell you that you should have no problem recommending any of these places to your clients. This was a tremendous way to end our SA journey. We all want to thank you for putting it together for us. All of these lodges do a great job of providing quality service, accomodations, and food.
Once again, thanks for putting together a wonderful ending to our trip. I hope you can figure out why this e-mail doesn't work, because if (I should say when) we return to your beautiful country, we will want to contact you. And we certainly would recommend to our friends that they contact you as well. I hope the great changes that are taking place there do not cause too much strife because the future looks incredibly bright.
With sincere thanks,
Steve & Cathy Kay and Kathy Schneider
Yes, we're back in the snow and the cold, wishing we were still in the heat of Africa! We're still getting up at 4 in the morning - found from the last time that it takes about a week for that to stop, but it's a great time to get organized for Christmas while everyone is still sleeping!
We had an incredible time in Namibia and really appreciated the itinerary you made for us. Everything went smoothly and we loved the charter flights, especially the one over the dunes. Most clients appear to stay for 2 nights only, but we appreciated the extra trip to the dunes that the 3 nights allowed us. Kulala Desert Lodge is a little "rough around the edges" (no anticipation of client needs, such as a packed lunch for our flight - the pilot said he should have got one too), but we liked the 5 am wake-up call rather than the 4 am wake-up call that we would have had at Sossussvlei - I get the feeling that the latter lodge is preferable if your clients want a little luxury, such as air conditioning.
Ongava was a superior lodge, with excellent meals and more organization, but it is not for those with any disabilities - it is on a rocky outcrop and the paths are all straight up and down, with lots of steps and minimal lighting. We arrived after they had had a lot of rain, so the game viewing was excellent, with lots of babies!
We would definitely recommend a trip to Namibia - others on a 6 day safari had 2 nights at Sossussvlei, 2 at Damaraland and 2 at Etosha, and apparently if clients are flying there is a special deal where the pilots stay with you all the time and essentially act as your guide the whole visit (great if you get on with them, but not so if not - one of the people we met had a grumpy one! Also you get guides at the camps anyway, so you don't really need the third party.) Needless to say, we would love to come back - two of Andrew's cameras acted up while we were there so we have to return to get those pictures!
I hope all goes well in New York - it sounds exciting. You needn't worry about the cold - people have to live there, so they make all kinds of allowances such as underground tunnels and enclosed walkways and you often don't even have to go outside. It will be a new experience for you!
With many thanks for organizing such a superb holiday - and also for the wine which we really enjoyed. It has ensured we shall be drinking South African wines this season!
We all hope you have a wonderful time at Christmas, with lots of love and laughter!
Thanks again - it truly was a memorable holiday,
Stephanie and Andre
In terms of feedback from myself it is all extremely positive. Your assistance, particularly with all the to-ing and fro-ing that resulted from changes to our guest list and the cancellations that we received so late in the day was awesome. I also appreciate very much the fact that you were willing to assist us recoup costs/losses, wherever you could, that would otherwise have resulted from the late changes and cancellations.
Thank you for facilitating the arrangements and payments for packages and the flights, as well as my rekki. It was also incredibly reassuring to have you present at the event for that extra bit of support and backup. Things all ran very smoothly and I think that is in no small measure due to your assistance and involvement. As you may have seen from my mail to Johan and Brian, my only real area of concern/criticism over the whole trip was in regard to the standard of the food being below expectation.
Below are some of the email responses and thank yous we have received which help to illustrate how well received the trip was. On behalf of the SABC TV team thank you for all your help in making this such a successful and memorable trip.
|Timothy and Phyllis Alexander - Washington DC, USA
Michelle: Your award is wonderful news. Based on our super experience with you and Absolutely African Tours, you have earned every bit of your peer's recognition. We have told everyone who asks that you helped us make our visit to SA just perfect. We'll add this award to your resume. Bye the way, we are considering a trip to Central and Northern Australia that might combine the up-market places with a guide service. Do you know anyone special we might contact? And, if you come this way, Michelle (and family), we insist that you stay at our place right outside Washington, DC.
|Kenneth Swift - New Zealand
Thanks for taking care to organize a great itinerary over 10 days for our 1st visit to SA.
Where else in the world could one experience in one day all within a matter of a few hours being close-by the largest sea mammal, the largest land mammal, the tallest land mammal and then the fastest land mammal. Humpback whales leaping completely out of the water, bull elephants, giraffe and then cheetah all on one day!!
The standard of accommodation service and food at Sodwana Bay Lodge, Phinda and Le Mays B+B for our trips out to Aliwai Shoal was excellent.
|Timothy Alexander - Washington DC, USA
We have been fortunate enough to travel the world, both on business and holiday. Our recent trip to South Africa stacks up overall as the best we have experienced, anywhere! That includes Argentina, Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, Japan, Malaysia, and a host of other wonderful places, so this is high praise indeed. We are still dazzled by South Africa's people and its hopes for the future, its amazing land and sea scapes, the animals (!), the plants, the food, and my wife tells me, the wine. Even the very early Spring weather--which ranged from frost to gorgeous--cooperated and not a bug bite was had the whole trip.
Fortunately for us, the two Washington, DC South African "expert" firms responded to my initial inquiries with a yawn. So I went back to the Internet and found Absolutely African Tours (and a couple of other sites) and sent an inquiry listing our preliminary thoughts. In a nutshell, our Internet and literature research convinced me to try a "luxury combined with adventure" trip, centered in Kwa-Zulu Natal, but also including Capetown and, it turned out, Bushman's Kloof. Michele Addison responded almost immediately with a "can do" message. Other tour respondents followed later offering a range of packaged tours. Michele actually listened to my hopes to see and experience a lot of SA in less than three weeks. I decided to go with Absolutely African Tours & Safaris primarily as a result of her personal touch. We now feel as if Michele is our South African sister and that her professional efforts resulted in a completely seamless set of arrangements. The fact that every one of our complex air reservations, transfers, lodges, hotels, and events worked without a hitch is testimony to Michele's attention to detail, and her personal interest in our comfort, safety and enjoyment. We recommend without reservation Absolutely African Tours & Safaris--Drive and Dive Safaris.
A fun part of trips for us is the planning stage and the Internet proves to be an amazing way to "surf" even the most distant places. I started looking at South Africa a couple of years ago then again in May of this year. We also read a couple of the American popular guidebooks and some excellent fiction. So, we wanted to be an integral part of the tour planning, but did not want to make, confirm, and follow-up arrangements, etc. We also had some specifics that may or may not be unusual: my wife will only fly on jet aircraft; I wanted to try my hand at fly fishing both Indian Ocean and maybe fresh water; we both enjoy great food and botanical gardens; we wanted to stay in some of the best places in South Africa. With Michele's invaluable help, all of our quirks and interests were met. Here are some of the other reasons why others should book with her organisation:
- If you are willing to put in some effort to really define what you'd like to experience, Michele will give you her thoughts and then make it happen.
- The financial transactions, including bank transfers, went like clockwork and saved 5%; there were no surprises along the way. At Phinda Reserve we had zero balance on our bill; I think that's a first.
- Michele was our driver, guide and storyteller for two long rides; she told me lots about Natal/Southern Africa, and her mom accompanied us on a boat tour at St. Lucia that otherwise was conducted in Polish; Michele knows where the good shops are too. She and her partners are accomplished outdoors people and "have been there" for most of the places visitors would want to see, and thus would be ideal planners for the younger, athletic types.
- At the one place where we were less than pleased with our welcome and a couple of service glitches, Michele fixed them right away.
- Michele helped us decide on the Cape Grace Hotel in Capetown and it turned out to be superb! I might otherwise have chosen the Lord Nelson and we were very happy we did not.
- Michele called ahead everywhere which, I'm sure, helped smooth our arrivals at each turn.
As for South Africa the place, this geographer and his "hot house flower" wife simply had an indescribeably wonderful time, both of us together. Thanks to everyone who made our trip such a success!
|Phyllis Alexander - Washington DC, USA
You did a fantastic job for us and the adventures continue to resonate. I enjoyed luxury camping much more than I ever thought in part because of your enthusiasm for and knowledge of your amazing country. At every point when we thought it couldn't be better, it was!
|Frank Bergren - Oman
The bottom line is that was one of the best vacations we’ve ever taken.
The Sardine Run was fun and very professionally organized. I am a stickler for proper safety procedures and this is one of the few boat / sea tourist trips I have taken that met my high standards. I understand that we are pretty much tied to a plan once we plan it, but I think that perhaps we could have gotten into the water for diving and snorkeling if we had gone north. When we went up in the microlights, we saw very clear water and some baitballs. It would have been nice to see those from the boat. The Sardine Run accommodation was very nice.
AmaKhosi was nice, but I think the game density wasn’t as high as it was in Phinda. Very nice accommodation and food. Nice private feel to the place. Top notch service.
Phinda was outstanding. Very good game viewing and accommodation at both Mountain and Forest was very nice. Phinda was a bit more crowded than AnaKhosi, but they had the animals and that’s what we came for! Service was very good and our guide was really knowledgable.
The Alawali Shoal was a very good dive. Good dive outfit.
The microlights were a real blast for everyone. That was a very nice day. The accommodation for the last two days was okay, but we probably could have gone down scale just a bit. I know the selection available there isn’t large, so it was understandable that we stayed there.
What would I change? I can’t think of anything except perhaps adding some flexibility to switch locations during the Sardine Run if the water is not cooperating.
All in all, it was an amazing vacation. Thanks for organizing it for us.
|Chris & Nicole McCarthy - New York, USA
The personal service and attention to detail that we received from Absolutely African Tours & Safariswas fabulous. Traveling in foreign countries so far away from home can sometimes make you feel nervous or unsafe, but that was never the case during the three weeks we spent in South Africa, with Michele as our guide/operator. Thanda Private Game Reserve is a must see, it is the most relaxing place that I have ever been to, the views are amazing and the wildlife is superb.
"A once in a lifetime trip to Africa. We are now planning our third trip thanks to Michele and Absolutely African Tours & Safaris. We've found our new favorite place and favorite tour operator".
|Pat & Allan Bruckshaw - Shropshire, UK
Kruger Park/Swaziland Tour - 2003
A wonderful trip with a host of happy memories. The arrangements from start to finish were excellent with the choices of hotels/guest houses superb. the Buhala Country Lodge was spectacular and the Leopart Mountain Game Lodge put the final icing on the cake. We could not have wished for better company on the trip and were given plenty of valuable information as we went along by Michele.
It has truly been a memorable experience and we wish you, Michele, every success in the future as you build up your business. We can, hopefully, now look forward to a further tour in 2004 - Any ideas are welcome.
I am proud to announce that on Wednesday the 15 March, at the KwaZulu-Natal Serivce Excellence Awards held in Ballito, Absolutely African Tours & Safaris, won the 2006 Service Excellence Award for KZN Tour Operator in business under 5 years.
I am both honoured and thrilled that I won and will continue to keep up the same high standard of service.
All the long days and hard work has, eventually, paid off - many thanks to all those who believed in me.
|Ali - UK|
Congratulations on behalf of all us, we're so pleased for you... its good
see hard work rewarded.
All the best
|Lynette Byrnes - JHB |
Heartiest congratulations on your outstanding achievement
at the Mbotyi River Lodge!
|Chris Johnston - Discovery Initiatives
Well done, sounds like you've worked hard to get it.
Being a smaller operator ourselves, we know how much these things mean so well done.
Looking forward to working with you in the future.
|Garry - Explore S.A. Tours
Very , very well done to you Michelle !!!!
This is something for you to be extremely proud of, and I wish you all of the best going forward !! Congratulations!
|Nicole and Chris McCarthy - New York, USA
You must be so excited. I hope your award leads to a lot more clients!!!
| Matthew Siegfried - New York, USA
That's great news. Angelique & I would like to congratulate you on your award. That is very impressive. We are really excited now and can't wait for our trip.
| Frank & Sharon Bergren
am thrilled for you. I am really happy for you.
We leave for Phuket for a dive trip tomorrow evening, and as always, tonight is hectic with making sure we have packed all the dive, snorkeling and other gear to make our stay enjoyable.
We had a great experience in South Africa and I am sure will return there sometime in the future.
Thanks again for putting together a great vacation and for your recent efforts to pull together another memorable trip to your lovely country.
All the best.
from best beach controller to best tour operator