Can you guess where this picture of John was taken? Notice the magnificent native bush, the breathtaking views, serene, low-key majesty
and just imagine the wonderful birdlife as you're breathing in the freshest air on the planet. There's not an elephant nor lion in sight, but there's lots to see and do in, yes, New Zealand!
The African off-season months of March to April found us in this beautiful part of the world. Nicci's home country has an impressive choice of fascinating attractions; in fact, it will soon become a favourite annual destination in our calendar. We are planning to take groups to an extra special part of the country during this period - Eastland - on the coast of North Island. And, of course, we are looking forward to sharing with you the wonderful warmth of the local people, many of whom you'll get to know personally on one of our itineraries. We have been spending a great deal of time familiarising ourselves with the many beautiful attractions in the area, and we took the opportunity, too, to spend some time with Nicci's mother, who is resident there.
If you've ever longed to visit New Zealand, now is the time to get in touch with us as we will be back in New Zealand in February and March 2011 and would love to have you join us.
Whilst we were away, southern Africa was enjoying a bountiful rainy season; presently, water levels in the Okavango Delta and the big African rivers, such as the Zambezi, are at their highest for many years.
John's first safari of the season started in Mana Pools, best walking country in the world and ended in Cape Town. He found Mana beautifully transformed by rain - the high river level, the pans and pools flushed out, the normally dry river beds thriving with lilies, insects, fish and birds
the animals were plump and healthy and the albida trees looking replenished and staggeringly resplendent with flowers (which indicates a good crop of rich pods for the animals during the dry season).
This picture was taken in front of Mucheni One campsite - those of you who have camped with John here will know that this is a flood plain, which hasn't been covered by water in many years, so a rare sight.
This picture, a lovely family shot, was taken at the same time, in Mana. However what is significant about this is that it was our daughter Sarah's, and fiancé Milo's, first camp of the season! Dad, John was justifiably proud.
Milo and Sarah, recently engaged to be married, have renovated and upgraded John's tented camp, which was moth-balled in the early 2000's; now, it enjoys a fresh and stylish focus, without compromising, of course, on the wonderfully authentic and personal experience upon which John built his reputation.
From Mana Pools, John flew into Namibia with his guests and enjoyed a week filled to the brim with all this spectacular country has to offer - including the northern Kunene River, Skeleton Coast and Sossusvlei.
The following fun picture is one of hundreds John took, each capturing a slightly different mood of light and desert form.
Before flying home, John made stops in Cape Town and Johannesburg; not a big fan of soccer, particularly, he was immediately caught up in the incredibly exciting World Cup spirit - a carnival atmosphere, as he described it. John was back in Zimbabwe just long enough to watch the final soccer matches before setting off on a very active few months on safari in Kenya, Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe (sadly, not Tanzania this year). But combine our lovely guests with the many parts of Africa that John loves and he looks forward to every minute!
This means that John will be busy right up until the time we leave for an extensive marketing trip to the US. Our schedule will take us through Washington, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Omaha and Nashville, to name a few. Here, John will take guests on a safari of a different kind - 'An African Safari in America', sharing his passion and love of the African bush, together with the highlights of many of John Stevens Guided Safaris' top destinations and experiences. In between talks, we are also looking forward to spending a special Thanksgiving in North Carolina with good friends. Although our time is limited, we would welcome any queries. If you are in or near any of these US cities in November, or know someone who is, and would like to come along, please email Nicci - firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll have dates, venues and more details on our website by the end of July.
Best wishes from John, Nicci, Sarah and Briar
Thinking of taking an African safari with John Stevens? Our safaris for the 2011 season are being taken up now, with a small number of openings still available. Please get hold of Nicci soon to make sure you get the safari you want next year.
Ex Africa - Semper aliquid nova.
Out of Africa - Always something new.