• Ultimate Itinerary from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth

     

    Via Cape Route 62 and the Garden Route 

    Planning a trip to Cape Town in 2020? In this South Africa travel blog I will share my 17-day itinerary from Cape Town that will take you along some of the best places to visit in South Africa, including our day-to-day self-drive route from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, which is one of the most popular South Africa itineraries for first timers. I will also share the best places to stay, get you some useful travel tips and things to do in Cape Town, the best stops along the Garden Route and the Karoo, tips about car hire in South Africa, the best Game Reserves for an unforgettable Big Five Safari in Port Elizabeth and more.

  • 10 Reasons to stay at Athenian Residences in Athens

     

    Greece is one of the major travel destinations in Europe. Most people travel to the Greek Islands but the historic city of Athens is also one of the best places to visit in Greece. During COVID-19 I took my chance to visit Athens for four nights to admire Athens ancient treasures and explore Europe's oldest capital city!

  • 10 Reasons to Stay in Hotel Klein Zwitserland

    Located in Slenaken in the beautiful Dutch Hills of Southern Limburg, you will find the 4-star Spa & Wellness Hotel ‘Klein Zwitserland’ (Little Switzerland). With 36 luxury rooms, wellness facilities, a renowned high-quality restaurant and a beautiful environment with stunning views, this amazing hotel is a perfect and responsible place to stay when you plan a holiday in South Limburg, and more specific the Dutch Hills (Heuvelland).

  • 11 Reasons To Book Remezzo Santorini in Imerovigli

     

    The famous volcanic island of Santorini is known for its whitewashed villages, incredible sunsets and unique landscape. It’s a very popular honeymoon destination and definitely a place you need to visit, at least once in your life.

  • 11 Reasons to stay at Theatro Hotel Odysseon in Meteora, Kalabaka

    Ever visited Meteora in Greece? This place was on my photography bucket list for quite some time. After exploring Athens and its historical sights, I hired a car and drove in 4,5 hours from Athens to the stunning rock formations and monasteries of Meteora. If you haven’t been there, I would definitely recommend to add Meteora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to your travel bucket list.

  • 15 Things To Know About The Avenue of Baobabs in Morondava, Madagascar

     

    When you think of traveling to Madagascar, you will probably think of lemurs (King Julian in Madagascar the movie) or about the iconic Madagascar Baobabs at sunset! Am I right? Visiting the ‘Avenue of the Baobabs’ is therefore the number one reason to travel to Morondava in West Madagascar. In this Madagascar travel blog you can read everything about one of the most famous tourist attractions in Madagascar: the Baobab trees of Madagascar. In summer 2019 travel photographer Kim Paffen traveled to Morondava and took absolutely epic pictures and decided to share all her Madagascar Baobab tips with you in this article.

  • 33 Things To Know Before You Travel To Uganda

     

    Traveling in Uganda is one big off the beaten path adventure. It won’t be anything like your standard trip in Europe or the States and although it simply requires a little more planning, traveling to Uganda is a lifetime experience. While many travelers visit Uganda for the mountain gorilla trekking, the country has so much more to offer. Some people are still in the understanding that Uganda is unsafe, but don't worry. In this Uganda travel blog you can read everything you should know before traveling to Uganda.

  • 5 Best Things To Do In Nosy Be Madagascar

     

    Nosy Be is an Island 8km off the northwest coast of Madagascar in the Mozambique Channel; several smaller islands are located nearby, including Nosy Komba, Nosy Sakatia and Nosy Tanikely. Together they form the beautiful archipelago of Nosy Be. The island of Nosy Be, which means ‘Big Island’ in Malagasy language, is a volcanic island with eleven volcanic crater lakes. It’s known for having one of the smallest frogs and chameleons in the world and it’s home to the panther chameleon and different species of lemurs. It’s without a doubt a must-visit when you travel to Madagascar.

  • 6 Reasons To Stay In Hotel Modez Arnhem

    Looking for a hotel in Arnhem, the fashion capital of the Netherlands? In this blog I will mention 6 reasons why Hotel Modez Arnhem is your perfect choice! Recently I’ve visited Arnhem for a photography workshop and exploring the city of Arnhem for a bit. As a travel photographer, I always want to improve my photography skills for the best results and this time I focused on editing in black and white. Curious about my travel photos? Check out my Instagram account @ourplanetinmylens.

  • 7 Reasons to stay at Bilderberg Europa Hotel Scheveningen

     

    Recently I traveled to Scheveningen to attend a seminar in AFAS Circus Theater and I decided to stay in Bilderberg Europa Hotel to spend the rest of my weekend in Scheveningen, a historic fishing village that now is one of the best places to visit in the Netherlands. Looking back it wasn’t the best weekend to stay in Scheveningen since it was uncomfortably cold and Scheveningen is known as a famous coastal town to relax at the beach, soaking up some sun and enjoying a sundowner at one of the beach bars along the boardwalk.

    Off course there are plenty other things to do in and around this popular destination that make it worth visiting Scheveningen all year round. In this blog I will explain 7 reasons why Bilderberg Europa Hotel is the perfect hotel to enjoy Scheveningen or The Hague for a few days.

  • 7 Things To Do In Morondava, Madagascar | Gate to Avenue of the Baobabs

     

    If you decide to travel to Madagascar, you should add Morondava to your Madagascar itinerary. Morondava is a sunny laid-back town on the coast of West Madagascar with a beautiful beach, waving palm trees, cosy wooden clapboard houses, small shops and restaurants and lots of bike rickshaws to take you around and experience all the things to do in Morondava, but most important it is the gateway to the famous Madagascar Baobab Avenue.

  • Gorilla Trekking Guide for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Uganda

     

    Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable forests in Uganda is a once in a lifetime experience that will exceed all of your expectations. This adventure should be on every travelers bucket list when visiting the country and has to be a part of your Uganda itinerary! In this article I will share as much information and as many tips so you can plan your Uganda Gorilla Safari accordingly. Prepare yourself for an incredible trekking to see one of worlds rarest wildlife.

  • House in the Wild Kenya | Home Away From Home in the Maasai Mara

     

    Located in the Enonkishu Conservancy, I had the privilege of staying at a private family - owned boutique lodge named ‘House in the Wild’; a beautiful remote location in the Greater Mara ecosystem with an incredible wildlife experience and a mix of luxury, comfort, warm hospitality, good food and stunning nature. It felt like a home away from home where I didn’t want to leave after a 4-night stay.

    House in the Wild Eco Lodge Kenya

    Kenya is without a doubt one of the most incredible wildlife and safari destinations in the entire world. Staying in safari-style (luxury) eco-lodges in the conservancies around the Maasai Mara National Reserve is in my opinion one of the best options to experience a safari of a lifetime.

    13 Reasons to stay at House in the Wild

    In this article, I will share 13 reasons why you should add House in the Wild to your Kenya safari-itinerary.

    1. Perfectly located on the Enonkishu Conservancy in the Maasai Mara with an abundance of wildlife

    Eco Lodge Masai Mara River Naretoi

    House in the Wild is located on the banks of the Mara River in Naretoi, a private estate in the Enonkishu Conservancy situated at the northern boundary of the Maasai Mara.

    Mara River view House in the Wild

    The accommodation is easily accessible by a 30-minute charter flight from Nairobi to the Ngerende airstrip, a private airstrip located 25 minutes from House in the Wild. Another option is a 4.5-hour self drive or transfer from Nairobi to Naretoi. Flights are faster and maybe more convenient, but I love the scenic road trip with stunning views of the Rift Valley and buying mais or fruits along the road. The famous Maasai Mara can be reached in about 2.5 hours by car.

    Elephants Enonkishu Conservancy Kenya 

    The Enonkishu Conservancy is part of the Greater Mara Ecosystem and covers an area of 5.928 acres where you can find amazing flora and fauna with over 50 species of mammals and 350+ bird species.

    Big Five Enonkishu Conservancy

    The Enonkishu area is home to the ‘Big five’ game animals that includes lion, leopard, white rhino (at the Rhino Sanctuary), elephant, and buffalo.

    Cheetah with Cubs Enonkishu Conservancy Kenya

    Apart from that, you will find many more animals like Thomson and Grant’s gazelle, cheetah, eland, impala, wild dog (rare), hippo, hyena, giraffe, and zebra.

    Vervet Monkey House in the wild

    From your private terrace, you’ll have great views over the Mara River bank where you can watch hippo’s, crocodiles, birds and even monkeys, like Sykes’ monkeys. Vervet monkeys are also regular visitors of House in the Wild.

    2. Private safari game drives by experienced Maasai guides

    Private Game Drive Maasai Guide House in the Wild

    House in the Wild offers marvelous game-driving opportunities through the Enonkishu, Lemek, and Ol Chorro Conservancies. Together with a knowledgeable Masai guide, you will go on daily private game drives to explore these beautiful areas full of wildlife.

    Private Safari Masaai Guide House in the Wild

    Depending on your wishes, the guide explains all kinds of aspects of wildlife, nature, and the ecosystem. Our guide, Joseph, knew the area very well and has many years of experience. He made us feel comfortable from the moment we arrived and made sure we had a wonderful time. We had four lovely days with him and learned a lot more about the Maasai tribe and about the surrounding trees, mammals, and birds.

    African Sunset Masaai Mara Plains Kenya

    Because we love game drives, we tried to spend as much time as possible ‘in the bush’. We started our day with an early morning game drive, sometimes even before sunrise, to watch the sun come up. Watching the sunrise is an amazing start of the day. If you have trouble waking up early the staff is more than happy to give you a wake-up call!

    Packed Breakfast Morning Game Drive Enonkishu 

    Normally you will be back for breakfast around 10.00, but It’s also possible to take a packed breakfast on your drive to stay out in the bush longer. I personally love doing that, as you will be enjoying a breakfast somewhere on the Maasai plains; for example, under an iconic Desert Date tree.

    Sunset Masai Mara Conservancies

    During midday, we had lunch with views over the Mara River at House in the Wild and afterwards, we went for another evening game drive including a sundowner. Enjoying the sunset on the plains of the Maasai Mara is the perfect ending of a day exploring Africa’s nature.

    Fire Place House in the Wild

    On arrival back in the camp, you can enjoy an indoor or outdoor fire, waiting for dinner to be served by the lovely staff of House in the Wild.

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    3. A home away from home, surrounded by nature

    Hippos Mara River House in the Wild

    You don’t have to go outside of the property to enjoy the peaceful and natural environment of the Mara ecosystem. From the main area, you can admire various animals like colorful bee-eaters nesting in the river bank, crocodiles and hippos resting in the river, or a troop of African Blue Monkeys foraging for food in the surrounding trees.

    House in the Wild Lounge area

    House in the Wild offers a lovely ambiance, including comfort and privacy. There is a relaxing lounge area in the main building.

    Cocktailbar House in the Wild Naretoi

    The main building and cottages are surrounded by a well-maintained garden, a swimming pool, and a (cocktail) bar.

    House in the Wild Lounge area Table Tennis

    In the evening you can enjoy an outdoor campfire or the indoor fireplace. If you like games, you will absolutely like the badminton court and table tennis.

    House in the Wild Best Views Mara River Kenya

    If you don’t feel like going on a game drive twice a day, there’s no need to be bored. Staying at House in the Wild feels like your home away from home and it’s also nice to take some time to relax around the house, have a walk through the garden or exhale at your private verandah.

    4. Enjoy a plunge in the pool while watching the hippos in the Mara River

    House in the Wild Pool

    Because of the location, just south of the Equator, the climate in this area is pleasantly warm, with cool nights, all year round. Depending on the season, temperatures and rainfall varies a bit but most days you can enjoy the lovely, well-maintained pool during your stay at House in the Wild.

    House in the Wild Crocodile Riverbank

    After a long day of exploring Enonkishu’s wildlife, it’s a delight to have a dip in the pool while still enjoying the sights of hippos or crocodiles in the Mara River.

    Swimming Pool House in the wild

    After cooling off in the pool, there are some sun loungers waiting for you to have a little rest before your next game drive.

    5. Visit the Rhino Sanctuary, Maasai Village and other activities around House in the Wild

     Rhino Sanctuary Enonkishu Conservancy

    Aside from game drives, there are a number of other activities to do at an additional price like visiting the Rhino Sanctuary, or the local Maasai village and their school.

    Great Migration Masai Mara Reserve

    There’s also the opportunity to go for a bush walk, night drive, farm visit, or book a relaxing massage or an adventurous balloon safari. Apart from exploring the three conservancies: Enonkishu, Lemek and Ol Chorro, you can also opt for a game drive to the Maasai Mara National Reserve.

    Especially during the Great Migration it’s a must do to catch a glimpse of herds of Wildebeests and Zebras crossing the Mara River.

    Maasai Village

    Masai village Enonkishu Conservancy

    We visited the Maasai village after a morning game drive. Seeing their homes and talking to these lovely people is a great way of learning more about the Maasai culture and their way of life, especially when it’s your first African experience.

    Although it’s a bit touristy, you should know that by visiting the semi-nomadic Maasai, you support their local economy and their living. The money they collect is invested in for example education for the younger generation.

    Mara Training Center

    Field guide training Enonkishu Conservancy EcoTraining

    You also have the chance of visiting the Mara Training Center, part of the Enonkishu Wild Hub, to learn more about the conservancy work in this area. Conservationists regularly visit the training center to talk about their projects, for example cheetah project or lion monitoring projects.

    Apart from that, the Mara Training Center is also the base for Field Guide courses to train future nature guides. Read more about my 35-day guiding course experience with EcoTraining at the Mara Training Center.

    6. Stunningly decorated cottages with an authentic African feel

    Mara River view eco cottages House in the Wild

    With 4 cottages, two en-suite doubles, and two family lodges, House is the Wild offers various options to stay.

    For example, the original cottage has a large verandah with two double rooms, both with ensuite bathrooms including a bath and outdoor shower and the ‘Hippo cottage’ has its own huge verandah and bath overlooking the river.

    Warburgia Cottage Bed House in the Wild

    All rooms are artfully decorated and spacious. The mattresses are comfortable, and they make use of high-quality linens.

    House in the Wild Warburgia Cottage

    We were offered the ‘Warburgia cottage’ for 4 nights, which is situated under the shade of a huge Warburgia tree.

    Loft Warburgia Cottage House in the Wild

    This double ensuite cottage has an amazing view over the river, a spacious bathroom with outdoor shower, and an upstairs loft lounge area.

    Lounge area Warburgia Cottage 

    Apart from that there was also a lounge area on the first floor with two comfortable chairs and a coffee table (with a jar of chocolates or nuts). In case it rains you can still enjoy the amazing river views.

    House in the Wild Private Verandah

    There were no mosquito nets around the beds, but this cottage has a zippered screen door, so we didn’t have any problems with insects. We really loved the space and privacy of this cottage.

    7. Private Verandah with Mara River Views

    bird watching private verandah Warburgia cottage

    The private verandah overlooking the Mara River is definitely one of the reasons to stay in the eco-friendly House in the Wild.

    The Warburgia cottage has a spacious verandah with sun loungers and a garden set. You can easily spend a day relaxing at the verandah: soaking up some African sun, reading a book on one of the sun loungers, spotting birds through your binoculars or just peering over the Mara River, listening to the sounds of the African bush.

    Warburgia Cottage Private Verandah

    Something that made me very happy was slowly waking up with a cup of coffee - sitting on the verandah while watching the sunrise over the Mara River before heading out on our morning drive.

    8. Bathroom with a view and outdoor shower for that extra ‘bush feel’

    House in the Wild Ensuite Bathroom Warburgia Cottage

    The ensuite bathroom is very light and spacious. The bathroom is equipped with everything you need, from eco-friendly shampoo, handwash, lotion and hand sanitizer to fresh water and cosy dressing gowns.

    Warburgia Cottage House in the Wild Bath River View

    In between the private safaris, take your time to create the perfect bath with their bath salts. Open the windows of the bathroom to enjoy stunning views of the Mara River right from your bathtub.

    Outdoor Shower Warburgia Cottage House in the Wild

    What I also love about the bathroom, is the outdoor rainshower to experience that extra connection with the African Bush.

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    9. Delicious food straight from the local ‘shamba’

    Food House in the Wild

    Food can be an issue in Africa, but not at House in the wild. The chef, who always wears a big smile, served excellent and beautifully presented meals prepared with love. They use homegrown ingredients from their local garden, called the ‘shamba’, which is part of their ‘wild food philosophy’.

    Fresh Vegetables Shamba House in the Wild

    I absolutely loved the daily fresh and healthy salads. The chef does not only serve local meals but also global dishes like Vietnamese summer rolls, quiches, pizza, and steak.

    Fresh Fruits Local Shamba House in the Wild

    Before departure for the game drives, there were always homemade cookies available and hot water for coffee and thee. There were no set times for the meals. The staff was very flexible, they adjusted the times of the meals to our wishes. Also, in case of any dietary requirements, they will take care of it.

    10. Private dining with a view

    Lunch with a view House in the wild

    Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were served in different places throughout the property of House in the Wild, always with a nice view and far enough from other guests to create an exclusive experience.

    Private dinner House in the Wild

    We enjoyed lunch at the bank of the river and one day we enjoyed dinner on our private verandah under the stars.

    11. Enjoy a highly personalized experience because of the amazing staff

    Joseph Maasai Guide House in the Wild

    Service and hospitality make or break your stay. House in the Wild shows a perfect example of excellent service. Upon arrival, we were welcomed by all the staff members, and they made us immediately feel at home.

    The chef, our guide, housemaid, and all other staff members welcomed us personally. Communication was on point and they like to give you the best possible experience, always with a smile!

    Cocktailbar House in the Wild

    Without a doubt, the hospitality of House in the Wild is of the highest caliber. Even kids are more than welcome, House in the Wild is a child-friendly boutique safari lodge.

    12. Ecological quality House in the Wild

    Main building House in the Wild Naretoi

    The owners of House in the Wild attach value to sustainable tourism and conservancy. In different ways they make sure that luxury is sustainable.

    Dinner House in the Wild

    95% of the energy is run on solar, they recycle water through constructed wetlands, source firewood from their own sustainable plantation and grow vegetables in their wild shamba to serve their guests fresh vegetables on a daily basis.

    Maasai Tribe Enonkishu Conservancy

    All of their building material is sourced from sustainable suppliers, and they give back to the Maasai community as much as they can. Their staff are local Maasai and all guests pay a conservation fee per person per day.

    Enonkishu Rainbow Zebra

    This fee allows guests to explore the Enonkishu, Lemek and Ol Chorro conservancies and in return, they get rewarded with some spectacular landscapes and wildlife.

    The owners of House in the Wild also created a program ‘Futures in the Wild’ which allows guests to contribute and get involved in community and conservation initiatives before, during, or after their stay.

    They are also a proud member of the Long run, one of the world’s largest sustainable development initiatives led by nature-based businesses.

    13. Enonkishu’s unique approach to conservation and livestock management

    Enonkishu Kenya Masai Cattle

    The charm of conservancies is not only their exclusivity but also the value of good conservation management. Income generated through tourism goes directly to the landowners, in the case of private conservancies.

    Enonkishu managed to transform an overgrazed and barren area of marginal land into a vigorous conservancy. They use research, technology, and monitoring to take important livestock management and conservation decisions.

    Giraffe Enonkishu Conservancy Kenya

    One of their major projects is a rigorous grazing plan to maximize available forages for livestock and wildlife. Mobile bomas, additional artificial water points, efforts to control erosion, and cattle have been used as tools to rehabilitate degraded grassland.

    House in the Wild Naretoi Kenya 

    The beautiful result of these efforts is the improved condition of this conservancy where humans, wildlife, and livestock can coexist. And that is exactly how it needs to be: working with the local communities and nature instead of against it. 

    Book your stay at House in the Wild, on the award-winning Enonkishu Conservancy and tell them you came through Traveltomtom! Click here to visit the House in the Wild website.

    Check out the latest prices for House in the Wild here. In case you have any questions about House in the Wild or traveling to Kenya, feel free to contact me through my Instagram @ourplanetinmylens.

    This article is written by travel and wildlife photographer Kim Paffen, part of the Traveltomtom team. She also wrote amazing Africa articles about Uganda, Madagascar and South Africa.

  • Northern Madagascar Travel Tips + Itinerary

    The Republic of Madagascar is a beautiful large Island country in the Indian Ocean off the coast of East Africa. Most people only know from the Madagascar Film and the TV series of the penguins of Madagascar. Unfortunately they don’t know that Madagascar is a Treasure Island with impressive landscapes and outstanding nature from rainforests to dry desert and from stunning beaches to mountains and stone forests. In this Northern Madagascar travel blog I create an itinerary that shows you the best places to visit in Northern Madagascar.

  • Renoma Hotel Tel Aviv Review | 11 Reasons To Stay

     

    Tel Aviv is one of the most vibrant cities in the world located on the Mediterranean coast in central-west Israel. Getting yourself a little piece of heaven away from the hustle and bustle is a real treat, so therefore I checked in to the Renoma Hotel Tel Aviv and this is my review.

  • Spotting Wildlife in Alberta in Winter

    Did you know there are plenty opportunities to spot wildlife in Alberta in winter? Although all bears are obviously having their winter sleep and there are less birds in winter, you are still able to spot lots of animals in Alberta, like elk, deer, moose, goats, bighorn sheep, coyotes, wolves, owls, birds, bison and the elusive lynx and cougar or mountain lion. Therefore, I would recommend spotting wildlife as one of the best things to do in Alberta in winter.

  • The 5 Best Tel Aviv Food Tours 

     

    Ever wondered why Israel has become such a good culinary destination? When I mention Israeli food, you might only think of hummus, pita and falafel but that’s a real understatement. The Israeli cuisine has a lot more to offer! Ever heard of Shakshuka, Sambusak or Sabich? Discover it all on one of the below Tel Aviv food tours.

  • The Charm of ‘Le Mas De Cink’ Luberon | 10 Reasons to Stay

    The main reason I traveled to the Provence was to photograph the lavender fields in Luberon and Valensole. However, there’s a lot more to see and do in the Luberon Region which makes it worth spending at least a week in this stunning area in central Provence.

  • The Ultimate 3 Week Uganda Itinerary

     

    Uganda is home to more than half of the world’s remaining mountain gorilla’s, over 5000 chimpanzees and the largest number of monkeys and baboons. Uganda has mind-blowing landscapes from gushing waterfalls and crater lakes to rainforests, mountains and the vast African savannahs. It’s where you can find the source of the Nile and 10 national parks to spot lots of birds and big game. Over the last couple years the Traveltomtom team has extensively traveled around the country and as a result they came up with this ultimate Uganda Itinerary that covers all the best places to visit and cool things to do in Uganda. 

  • The Ultimate Madagascar Itinerary for 2 weeks

     

    When you think of Madagascar you will probably picture idyllic beaches, massive baobabs and funny dancing lemurs, but on top of that you will cross high mountains, country sides, amazing canyons, beautiful rainforests, limestone rock formations and a lot more. When you travel to Madagascar you will see it is an island of passion with surprisingly diverse landscapes, cultures and traditions and very rich and endemic flora and fauna, a Treasure Island waiting for you to be discovered!

  • Visit Gaza Border Israel | The Reality Tour

     

    Done with all the touristy things to do in Israel and ready for an off the beaten path adventure to learn more about the Gaza-Israel conflict and people’s daily life in the shade of the wall? In this blog about my trip to the Gaza border I will show you what it is really like.

  • White Side Suites, Oia Santorini | Every Traveler's Dream

    Santorini is one of those immense popular travel destinations in Greece. This picturesque island, famous for its stunning sunsets, the whitewashed houses and the blue-domed churches normally relies for 90% of its income on tourism. The impact of the COVID-19 lockdown has been dramatic for Santorini, but for me as a traveler, I enjoyed a more quiet, peaceful and laid-back Santorini.