PANDEMIC TRAVEL Back from Botswana!
Julian and his team, especially Lisa, planned & coordinated our WOW experience that began with one full day in Johannesburg, South Africa followed by eight nights at three separate five-star camps in Botswana at the beginning of November.
We had a few interview calls with Julian to identify what we would like to see and do since this was our first safari and we did not really know what to focus on in planning such a unique trip. Julian made it easy and conversational and we were not disappointed. He exceeded our expectations in terms of the quality of the camps, the flight connections between the camps and vast array of large and small animals that we experienced during each game drive, twice a day.
There was no short cut to the very long flight times from Miami to London to Johannesburg to Botswana & back and the many COVID protocols required along the way that required great attention to detail, however once we were on our safari we felt very safe the entire time and everyone was mindful of COVID health precautions.
The camps were all far below capacity for guests, guests arrived and departed daily and ranged from 4 guests including us to 18 guests and most of the time we were alone with the guide on our game drives.
I would recommend packing as light as you can based on the time of year but do take advantage of the available free laundry service right from your room in order to have added space in your luggage to bring back gifts. Julian selected a camp near an authentic village made up of mud huts, straw thatched roofs, no electricity or running water, where the villagers make hand crafts which was on our list of something to see. We were quite impressed this was an authentic experience rather than a tourist stop.
Early November is the first week of rainy season in Botswana but we had no rain and above normal hot days so no limitations for our game drives to see in excess of twenty five different animals during our visit that we saw from the Toyota Landcruisers, by boat, helicopter and bush planes. If you are travelling during a hot time of year, selecting a camp with room air conditioners is a must as the temperature soared to 107 degrees in mid day and even the dry heat similar to Arizona is uncomfortable.
In summary, if you are looking for something entirely different to experience on your next vacation and can find a way to schedule a safari with Julian, you will walk away with an extraordinary WOW experience with memories and pictures for a lifetime.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL What a wonderful trip! Julian utilizes some amazing people and companies for his Kenya bookings!
We (family of four with two children, ages 11 & 13) have extensive international travel experience pre-covid and wanted to travel mid-covid as well. We had never used a travel specialist before and had some hesitations. We were hesitant to lose our control over our daily plans and freedom to roam. Our main reason for using a travel specialist was because travel can be unpredictable in today’s travel climate. Julian eased our minds with his grounded approach during the very first phone conversation we had with him. Let the planning process begin! In a very short amount of time, Julian had put together a robust and adventurous itinerary for us.
Julian created a travel product that is unmatched (adventure, culture immersion, conservation, a human approach). If you are looking for an unforgettable and meaningful Kenyan experience, Julian is your guy.
Everything was seamless from the airport transfers, hotels/lodges, guides/drivers, domestic flights, Covid testing, meals, freedom to create our day’s plans to our liking, etc. Julian will listen to what his travelers want, their comfort levels, budget limitations, etc and create a magical African experience. Our children’s eyes were wide open from the moment we landed in Nairobi until the moment we left. We made a lifetime of memories in Kenya.
Perhaps the test of any travel specialist is when things go sideways. During our time in Kenya, the government altered their Covid regulations and locked down the counties surrounding Nairobi. Julian stepped in and handled the whole situation. In the end we had to make some changes to our plans but the end goal remained the same (our goal of an amazing trip that was safe). If we would have had to handle all the changes, within a very dynamic situation, on our own it would have ruined a full day of our trip and would have caused massive stress. Julian handled it all and we were able to continue enjoying the Masai Mara knowing that it was being handled with our safety and interests in mind. We, as a family, said to one another on numerous occasions that it was wonderful that we used Julian and had someone taking care of the tough yet important tasks to sort out these issues that were out of our control.
Our trip may be over but we have memory cards full of pictures, endless stories to relive around the table, mental images of endless African beauty, new perspectives that will guide us through our lives, and new contacts in our phones of friends we met in Kenya.
If Africa is on your list of places to experience, call Julian!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We were in Kenya from January 13 until February 2nd. It was our first trip to Kenya and it was one of my favorite trips to date. Kenya was remarkably safe and very Covid aware (better than the US) and we could not have felt more comfortable. Because Julian picked really incredible lodges with a small amount of rooms, we had two of the lodges all to ourselves. Since it was our first trip there, I don’t have any comparison to non Covid times but I do know it was remarkable to be on the Masai Mara and see no other cars all day. It was like our own private Kenya in lots of ways.
We started in Nairobi at Hemingways for 2 nights to get over jet lag. We then flew bush planes to the other lodges and we usually flew alone but 2 of the flights we had a few others. We relied completely on Julian for our lodges, our itinerary and his experience. We had to have a test before we got on the plane home and Julian had a doctor fly to us in the bush and give us our tests while we had breakfast. Because Kenya put a new form in place while we were there, Julian’s point person in Nairobi spent all day tracking down the specifics and got us the needed TT Code a few hours before our flight so it was seamless for us.
Our lodges were incredible. We had amazing food and wine, the best guides, the most exclusive lodges and such a high level of service– we were completely spoiled. We really put ourselves in Julian’s hands and let him do all the work and we could not be happier with our trip. I was really excited but I had no idea how amazing it would be and how much we loved Kenya. Julian organized all our flights, all our transportation and all our requests had been pre-sent so we just had to show up and have this incredible trip.
We flew Emirates to Dubai and then to Nairobi and they could not have been safer or more careful. When we arrived back in Dubai on the way home, they whisked us through another PCR test because we had to stay overnight due to weather in Boston and it was all handled for us. It’s my favorite airline already but to see how they are handling the pandemic and testing with such efficiency is amazing. We never felt nervous for a second — on the flight or the trip.
I would recommend going to Kenya and having Julian plan it for you ASAP because it is truly remarkable to have all the animals, land and incredible Kenyans show off their country right now.
Places stayed: Ol Donyo Lodge, Sasaab, Salas Camp, Mara Nyika, Hemingways.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL As an avid traveler, I knew that planning an African Safari was beyond my own abilities. After reading Wendy’s article about WOW Lister Julian Harrison’s recent trip to Kenya with his son, Dispatch from Kenya: What a Safari Looks Like Now by Billie Cohen, I knew that Julian could plan the right trip for me.
I first made contact with Julian on October 19, 2020. Julian was patient, informative, and knowledgeable. Julian’s patience and planning were immediately tested when everyone in my travel group backed-out of this trip as soon as Julian had it completely planned and ready to go. Instead of complaining about these travelers backing-out, Julian sensed how much I wanted to take this tour to Africa, and he planned a solo trip just for me. As an added bonus, Julian was going to accompany me on this trip. As Wendy would say, WOW!
By November 12, 2020, Julian had modified a multi-person itinerary to a solo itinerary just for me. From December 4-14, in less than four weeks, I would be traveling to Kenya and the Maasai Mara.
I only had a few requests for Julian regarding this trip: 1. I wanted the best opportunity to see as much game and birds as possible (no checklist, just opportunity); 2. I wanted as much of the trip to be inclusive as possible, so that I did not have to incur additional costs during the trip; 3. I wanted private game drives so that my time searching for game would not be determined by others; and 4. I wanted to “go with the flow once in the Mara”–get up early, go to bed at a reasonable time, but see what the day and conditions dictated, rather than having a set time-table and schedule of things to do.
Julian not only delivered on each of these requirements, but he exceeded them. For most of this trip, I felt and believed I was the only person in the Mara. From his selection of camps, Instinct of the Mara and Entim Camp, to knowing what to look for and ask for, Julian’s knowledge was invaluable. Notable, unexpected highlights included:
1. Traditional fire-roasted lamb prepared by Maasai men, accompanied by sundowners high on a hill in the Mara;
2. Persuading Richard and staff at Instinct of the Mara to prepare and serve an impromptu three-course-meal on a sandbar in the middle of the Sand River;
3. Assisting me with adding over 70 new bird species to my bird knowledge and inventory;
4. Innumerable animal encounters; and
5. An unexpected, secluded waterfall and resulting pool in the Mara.
Covid-19 protocols were evident at every step of the trip planning process and the trip itself. Admission to Kenya required a negative PCR test and answers to a Kenyan Government internet health questionnaire, which resulted in a QR code to be submitted upon arrival in Nairobi. The most stressful part of this trip was awaiting the results of my PCR test, which required that the test results be no older than 96 hours upon arrival in Kenya. I received my results at 10:30 PM, the night before my departure flight. (That was too close for comfort for me—outside the “cancel for any reason” window. In hindsight, when I plan another trip of this magnitude and expense, I am going to have a second, “back-up” Covid-19 test conducted through the mail.) Julian pointed out all of the Covid-19 testing requirements early in the planning process, and he continually followed-up with me to ensure that I had what I needed for arrival in Kenya, including satisfactory trip insurance.
During the trip, every person in Kenya with whom I made contact was wearing a mask. Before entering any Camp or establishment, each time I was required to wash my hands, and hand sanitizer was present at all locations. In addition, all camps conducted temperature screenings prior to entering, and all eating establishments practiced social distancing by keeping patrons and guests separated. I felt each Camp did everything it could to ensure the most safety for its guests.
Even though a negative Covid-19 test was not required for my return trip to Georgia, Julian assisted me and was able to schedule a Covid-19 test prior to leaving Kenya so that I could have a high degree of assurance that I was not infected prior to returning home.
The most people I encountered at one time during my Kenyan Safari was at the major international airports—Atlanta, Amsterdam, and Nairobi. Everyone wore masks, and I kept my distance, finding a seat away from groups. I had never seen Atlanta’s international terminal so empty, but Amsterdam and Nairobi were busy but not crowded. The international airports were the only places where my thoughts returned to Covid.
I look forward to another experience just like this one, and I will ask Julian for his assistance and planning when I do.
Asante sana, Julian.
The whole trip was very well planned and catered around our goals, desires, and budget. He included things we didn’t even know we wanted and made great recommendations! Botswana and the Belmond camps were the best vacation I ever took! And those accommodations were a direct recommendation from Julian and his team. We will definitely go back to Africa. The only, very small, criticism was our guide during our time in South Africa. While he was good, he was a bit older than us and didn’t match our energy level and interests, plus he was a bit of a low talker and hard for us to understand. But, overall, everything about the trip was wonderful and we will use the WOW service again.
Julian Harrison and Lisa Cara were very attentive and prompt with our questions and insights on things to see and do and not do because of time constraints. They also provided an extensive list of restaurants and reading material. The restaurant arraignments made by Kensington Place in Cape Town were excellent! In the country area around Rorkes Drift area, I had bunny chow and some other local dishes that were not available anywhere else and they were delicious too! This was a trip of many different facets and it has taken a bit of time to absorb all the people we met, places visited, animals and environments experienced and encountered. The countries visited: Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, each different, interesting and beautiful.
Africa Rock Hotel: nice room; very good food and helpful staff
Tambo Airport: confusing terminal arrangements and please warn people upfront about the “Touts” that hijack your bags, and your wallet basically! (Yes, we got burnt and only later found an app called FLIO that had warnings about them re: Tambo Airport.)
Ilala Lodge: Very comfortable room; fine food and staff; easy walk into towns shops.
– Transfer staff very good, efficient.
– Ra-Ikane breakfast cruise good, early morning best time for this, before too many others on the river.
– Bushtracks Canape train good, sellers on bridge pushy (to be expected). Great view.
– River ride exhilarating, Elephant Cafe and Reserve very good.
– Devils pool…..well, awesome! Capetown.
Kensington Place: Excellent room and staff!
– Our guide Janene was excellent. City tour very good, esp. Castle of Good Hope museum(s).
– Although we never made it to Table Mountain (flooded with school kids out on Holiday both days we tried it) , the Wow Moment Helicopter Ride more than compensated!
– Cape of Good Hope, Simons town and penguins, and Kirstenbosch Gardens all very good.
Country House and Villas:
– We wish we could have stayed in this “apartment” more days, frankly, it was that good, as was food and staff!
– Again, Janene was excellent on our wine tour of surrounding area, and transfers from/to Capetown.
KwaZulu Natal Battlefields.
Rorkes Drift Hotel:
– Fascinating place way out in the country, nice rooms.
– Guide Colin very knowledgable on the area, history, and showed us how the locals live. Its a rough country in many ways. Sobering history.
Peermont Doreale Grande Hotel:
– Okay for most part. AC problem in first room quickly rectified with new room once we had a talk with front desk. Very good restaurant.
– Tambo airport again – this time we were ready for the Touts!
Note: doing this trip again, if possible we would avoid Johannesburg and fly into Capetown now that more flights are coming in there.
MalaMala Main Camp:
– Clearly, this is the highlight of our trip. Marvelous experience!
– Excellent room, food, staff and location.
– Up front and personal with LOTS of wildlife, even in camp!
– Including a bull elephant that came right up to our porch twice at precisely 1:30 PM local time and announced his presence LOUDLY! ( He has since been referred to as “Craigs Elephant”).
– Our guide/driver/tracker, Lucky, was beyond excellent!
Note: we recommend this place to anyone interested in experiencing and learning about the wildlife of South Africa!
As you can see from the itinerary it was quite a diverse and multi-facted trip. Again, Julian Harrison and Lisa Cara provided an excellent and most enjoyable trip.
Eugene Armer, from Julian’s team, planned a terrific Southern Africa trip for us. He accommodated every goal I had going into the process: a variety of safaris, Victoria Falls, time in Johannesburg and Cape Town. He suggested adding Franschhoek which was very nice. Every guide, every transfer, everyone charged with moving us around, was excellent. We packed a lot in and it all went off without a hitch.
Julian set up the most amazing trip for us! He listened to what I wanted and the amount I wanted to pay and set everything up perfectly. He even gave me the best advice as to when to go. March was perfect!
Botswana, especially, was the place of my dreams. The camps (Tau Pan, Splash, and Lagoon) exceeded all my expectations and there were no hiccups along the way. Everything was perfect.
At Tau Pan, Dimbo (guide) and P.K. (tracker) were unbelievable! We even saw a leopard and a very rare wild cat! We also loved the walking tour the last day where P.K. showed us a small hut and how they built fires at home.
At Splash, Dave (guide) and K.B. (scout) were more than amazing! They followed lion tracks forever and we got to see 10 lions in one day – two males and then two lionesses with six cubs. Also lots of wild dogs!
I can’t even begin to describe how much we learned about the country, the animals. The “tents” and the meals (6 a day!) were fabulous. Best trip EVER!
If I’m ever lucky enough to go back to Botswana, I’d call Julian in a heartbeat. Thank you for giving me the trip of a lifetime!
We recently returned from a three week trip to Africa planned by Julian Harrison and we could not have been happier with the entire process. We told Julian up front that we wanted to go on safari, learn about South African wines and understand the history and culture of South Africa. The safari portion of our trip was an incredible experience made perfect by Julian’s recommendation of Wilderness Safaris. This company was first class in every regard and I don’t think we would have found them without Julian. Our time in Cape Town and the local wine regions also were all first class and made better by the guides that Julian set us up with. I would highly suggest Julian and his team to anyone considering traveling to Africa, without question we would use him again.
I just returned from a fabulous trip to South Africa and Botswana arranged by Julian Harrison with support from Lisa Cara. In planning the trip, I told Julian what I was looking for and what my concerns were and he seemed to understand perfectly. Instead of spending days in wine country in South Africa, which seems to be the norm, Julian suggested we visit Grootbos on the Whale Coast of S. Africa which I had never heard about. It was an extraordinary place in a beautiful location with great staff, food, and interesting activities. The room was among the largest and most beautiful I’ve ever stayed in. He also arranged for a 1/2 day tour of the wine country on the way back to Cape Town which was enough for us. I had been looking for a game lodge in South Africa but was concerned about the possibility of very uncomfortable weather in February. Julian suggested Botswana as an alternative, which was great. Julian’s choice of hotels in Johannesburg and Cape Town were perfect and our stay in 3 Belmond game lodges in Botswana was excellent. All of the guides were great and the transfers seamless. All in all, I couldn’t have arranged as good a trip myself.
We just returned from a trip to Cape Town and Botswana, May 19–31, planned for us by Julian Harrison. It was truly one of the great and most fulfilling experiences of our lives! We had several in-depth phone conversations with Julian in the initial planning stages, and he gave us expert advice on all aspects of a trip for which we had many expectations but extremely little knowledge. We received excellent advice for our specific needs (i.e. my husband has a problematic back and photography was a priority – so locations and camp choices were tailored with this in mind, as well as the critical advice of hiring private game drive vehicles). Our budget was also well-respected throughout the process. We are not sure, but we suspect that having Julian as our travel planner had something to do with the absolutely top-notch guides and accommodation locations we received throughout the trip. We were well taken care of from the moment we landed in Cape Town through our final flight out of Botswana by representatives arranged by Julian, He also took care of arranging all of the inter-country flights to and from Johannesburg, Cape Town and 3 different camp locations within Botswana. It was a very complex trip, and yet everything unfolded quite seamlessly and easily throughout. Also, our trip included a WOW experience from Wendy Perrin: an exciting helicopter ride over Cape Town!! We would not hesitate to contact Julian for any future travel to Africa.
Julian Harrison and his staff planned a flawless trip to Botswana (2 safari camps) and Cape Town and the Winelands of South Africa. Our safari camps, in the Okavango Delta, each gave us totally unique experiences. Julian was also extremely patient with us as we also added a private trip to Zimbabwe to visit friends. Though he wasn’t booking accommodations or activities for us there, he did do our airfare and then had to adjust the remainder of our dates. It all worked beautifully. Would definitely work with Julian again.
Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa
Julian and Lisa have planned two trips for me to Africa, one with kids and one without. Each time they came up with unique aspects that made the respective trip very memorable. On this trip, staying in a tented camp and going on safari walks and safari mountain biking were unique memorable experiences.
Julian did a wonderful job of putting together this trip and booked some wonderful experiences. When I contacted him, I didn’t give him much to go on. I wanted to go to southern Africa and wanted a safari, wanted to go in July (I contacted him in April) but didn’t know much beyond that. He asked questions about the comfort level of various lodging and activities and put together an itinerary that sounded wonderful. When I wanted to shorten the time and change the dates from July to August, he adjusted and we discussed which items to cut from the original itinerary.
In the end, I had a 4 week trip planned by Julian that was well paced and provided great experiences and accommodations. I was traveling solo but always had someone to pick me up at each stop and bring me to the next destination. I originally did not consider South Africa for this trip but was glad it was included and it was a nice break from safari camps. The parks and camps selected in Zimbabwe and Botswana provided the experiences I hoped for. I especially enjoyed Hwange Bush Camp in Zimbabwe and Machaba Camp in Botswana.
The communications prior to the trip were timely and through, which prepared me for the actual trip itself. The details were clear and as a result, the travel was very smooth and I had nothing to worry about while I was traveling. I recommend Julian and his team for planning a trip of a lifetime!
Julian did an excellent job of listening to our input and designing a trip that met our expectations. The game viewing at Gomoti Plains was stellar.
The second week at the Oberoi in Mauritius was a wonderful way to wind down from our busy lives. Our only concern was the hotel chosen in Johannesburg when we flew back from Botswana. It was substituted for the African Rock which we were to have been placed in had the booking been made when we booked with Julian a year ago. The room was small and adjacent to the service area and the prearranged private transfer did not appear on time in the am so we took the hotel shuttle to the airport. The hotel was not up to the standard of our initial accommodation at The Residence hotel in Johannesburg when we arrived from Toronto.
I had asked Julian to ask Oberoi for an upgrade in Mauritius based on our previous stays with Oberoi which he did and this was provided and much appreciated.
South Africa in September, 2017
Julian’s knowledge of South Africa lead to the selection of hotels, lodges and tour operators that were ideal for us but the greatest value came when our international flight was delayed (twice!) requiring a fast and nimble approach to rebooking on a 24/7 schedule. We were literally changing bookings via internet as the flight progressed. Julian and his team came through for us (twice!) and salvaged our vacation. Many thanks! We had a memorable trip thanks to them and in spite of Delta Airlines.
Julian Harrison is definitely the one to go to for an incredible trip to southern Africa. Our August 2017 trip to South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe was our trip of a lifetime. We saw so many animals that we can’t list them all, but the close-up encounters with the leopards, lions, and elephants were astounding. Our trip went perfectly and this involved several light plane trips to five different camps. We could not have asked for more.
—Howard and Judy Hughes
Extremely pleased with the services of Julian Harrison and his staff.
We have just returned from a trip to Cape Town and Private Game Reserve in South Africa.
Arrangements could not have been any smoother. Everything was handled so efficiently and professional.
The guidance from Julian and his staff was outstanding. We were especially impressed with the knowledge of the guides that Julian arranged and all of the airport transfers. The drivers were exactly on time…even a few minutes early. The guide in Cape Town was EXCEPTIONAL.
But MOST impressive was the Safari experience. We could not have asked for better arrangements. The Safari Lodge in the private game reserve was just incredible. The people were all amazing. It was a lot of fun.
I am so glad I decided to use Julian’s services. Everything was just about perfect. The safari experience was beyond our expectations.
We traveled in May/June 2017 to Cape Town, South Africa, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, and then a safari in Sabi Sands and Manyeti reserves. Fabulous mix of adventure and sightseeing, beauty and culture. Julian and Steve on his team were very flexible, extremely responsive, no question too big or small. Worked with us on the specific trip and budget that was right for us. We have done a lot of traveling and this trip was in our top two!
Julian and his team actively ask us to explain what we wanted to achieve from the vacation and then they crafted the trip to match our desired result. It was fabulous — we saw the Big 5 multiple times. The inclusion of a water camp was a highlight for us because we live in S. FL and love being on the water. I wasn’t thrilled about seeing birds they told me I would be and were they right. They found us camps that achieved the animal sighting and had bits of luxury. I would highly recommend using them if you want a worry free experience in Africa.
We traveled in April and May 2017 – Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe
My wife and I used Julian Harrison to plan our honeymoon to South Africa in November – December 2016. We went away for 2 full weeks and Julian provided thoughtful recommendations that met all our needs (from city exploration to adventure to relaxation).
Our trip started in Cape Town where we stayed at the gorgeous Cape Grace, then we headed to Kruger National Park where we stayed 4 nights in the safari at Arathusa and Tintswalo – beautiful game reserves with excellent service and incredible sights. Then we stayed 1 night in Johannesburg at the African Rock Hotel, a gorgeous boutique hotel. Finally, we finished in Mauritius on the most beautiful beach at the One & Only hotel.
From start to finish every single detail was accounted for, and all our transfers were seamless. We didn’t have to worry about a thing. We’d recommend Julian’s services to anyone traveling to South Africa.
Julian Harrison planned an excellent three week trip to Botswana, Victoria Falls and Rwanda for my husband and me in March 2017. He was extremely responsive during the planning process, with a long phone call to discuss our trip objectives and budget, followed up with an extensive proposed itinerary, which he easily revised as we made decisions about the trip. Because of his depth of knowledge of Botswana and Rwanda, he was able to create an itinerary for us that showed us the diversity of areas in each country.
In Botswana he recommended the Wilderness Safari classic camps which were wonderful – we loved the intimate nature of the camps, the warm and friendly staff, excellent guides, fabulous tents, and meeting fellow travelers from all over the world. Without Julian’s expertise, we would not have known which areas of Botswana to visit – he had us start out in the Kalahari Desert (Kalahari Plains Camp), then two different camps in the Okavango Delta (Chitable Lediba and Little Vumbura), and finally in the Linyanti (Duma Tau). Each tented camp exposed to a different part of Botswana; the game drives were spectacular, and the guides incredibly knowledgeable about the wildlife.
In Victoria Falls we chose to stay at the Victoria Falls Hotel since we love old-fashioned hotels – it definitely is that and Julian warned us – but we loved our couple of nights there.
Rwanda was a fabulous experience – Julian worked with Primate Safaris Ltd to set up five days there and it was the experience of a lifetime, with the gorilla trekking and seeing the country.
We worked with Julian’s staff on booking the internal flights and they were excellent with all the flight changes that kept on happening over the months. Julian has an excellent sense of the type of accommodations that you want – our first night in Joburg after the long flight from the US he booked us into The Residence which is a luxurious boutique hotel, with a private hot tub and deck to decompress with.
This is our third experience using one of Wendys recommended agents and every trip has been done extremely well. I can highly recommend Julian Harrison – in fact, I’ve already given his name to several people who are planning trips – you won’t be disappointed in the trip he plans for you.
Julian Harrison and his staff arranged a fantastic trip to South Africa for our family of 12 (ages 6 t0 70). We worked together for almost a year planning activities in and around Cape Town as well as visits to two different safari camps in Kruger National Park all in a 10-day school vacation period. The logistics were smoothly handled both here and on the ground in Africa. Julian made terrific suggestions and was responsive when we suggested changes to his proposals. Unfortunately, part of our family was delayed in New York due to bad weather and airline equipment repositioning issues. Julian and his staff pitched in and coordinated the new arrangements on the fly. All in all, we had an even better time than we possibly could have imagined! It was truly a trip of a lifetime. Everywhere we went, our grandchildren were welcomed and attended to with pleasure. The level of accommodations both in Cape Town and on Safari was top class. Virtually everything was included. All the details were nailed down tight which allowed us to sit back, relax and share our African experiences as a family. Julian has literally written the book on African safaris (Fodor) and will help you plan a spectacular experience!
We just returned from a two week trip to Africa planned by Julian Harrison. All I knew going into it is that I was leaning towards Botswana from what I had read, wanted to hit up Vic Falls, and Cape Town. We had limited time (2 weeks off work) and budget.
Julian put together a great itinerary given this and was even flexible to allow us to book our own hotel in Cape Town and our own international flights, as we wanted to use our (free!) points – which I’ve found some other agents not flexible to do. He listened to our wants and turned around a great pace and plan. I was a little suspicious about one camp going into it, and Julian assured me it was a good choice, and of course, that ended up being our favorite in the end!
We did Cape Town, Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls, and two camps in Botswana all within our budget. His quote was much better than another I’d gotten before turning to Wendys WOW list and I feel the itinerary was much more in line with our wants.
The trip went off without any issues – which would be a logistical nightmare to even consider doing on your own if one even can! And, the camps were all a great fit for us. We had great luck seeing a variety of animals and have amazing pictures we’ve brought home.
If I did have to offer any criticism it would be two minor things:
One, we did not hear from Julian (or anyone from Premier Tours) during (or post trip, yet). That would have been nice to know they were monitoring us. This said we didn’t have any issues – and we took 17 flights in 15 days without issues – so there was also no need to be in touch. Of course, we had their contact info but didn’t use it.
Two, we did stay at Victoria Falls Hotel and had what seemed to be one of the worst rooms they booked us in, facing the parking area on the ground floor. Had they offered or told us there were other rooming options, we’d have paid to stay in a different one but weren’t advised or offered otherwise. So be sure to ask this stuff rather than assume, as we did, that it will fit your wants and needs.
Overall, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Julian in the future and will likely use him for our next trip to Africa which we already want to plan again! Wishing we were on safari right now…
We (two senior couples) travelled to South Africa and Victoria Falls in November 2016. I loved the fact that Julian took the time to understand what we wanted to see, what our budget was and what our travelling style was. He made suggestions about our itinerary that made sense and provided options for us to consider. More importantly, we had an amazing trip with knowledgeable guides, perfect accommodations and amazing safaris. Safari camps come in all shapes, sizes and prices so it was good to have a conversation about expectations. For us, it was good to have the nice mix of safari, wine country and cities as South Africa is a very large and diverse country. One experience would not be enough to define the country.
Julian was phenomenal! I was visiting South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and the Seychelles with my husband AND my parents. My parents had not travelled to Africa previously and were a bit nervous, but they loved every minute. Julian set up an amazing itinerary, with just enough privacy, and just enough adventure to make it a great multi-generational trip! We especially loved Mala Mala and Sindabezi Lodge. Highly recommended. My parents are still talking about this trip 18 months later. Meanwhile, I am planning my next safari!
Great trip. We enjoyed every moment. Travel specialist was active in planning and all surprises were pleasant.
Julian Harrison and his team made our African dreams come true in September 2016. In fact, the trip was more than we had hoped for — our first visit to this ancient, majestic and thrilling land. At Julian’s recommendation, we traveled to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana; the advance logistics worked perfectly, eliminating fatigue and stress. Our first lodging, the Welgelen Guest House in Cape Town was a heavenly way to begin. The city tours, including Table Mountain, Cape of Good Hope, wine and chocolate tastings in the Stellenbosch area were all of the highest quality. My husband and I have slightly differing interests as he is an artist and I’m a nature fanatic but Julian understood this so well! He made sure our trip was pefectly balanced between city experiences and wildlife adventures par excellence. After Cape Town we went to the luxurious Tintswalo Lodge in the Manyeleti Game Reserve bordering Kruger National Park. Our guide and tracker were fabulous, funny guys who showed us everything one could hope to see in the African bush and more. Our travels worked flawlessly as we moved on to Johannesburg for the painful and moving history of SA. Again, our city stay at the Peech Hotel was a welcome respite with the additional bonus of a good restaurant. Then on to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe for unforgettable adventures including a sunset cruise and an elephant-backed safari plus the outstanding Safari Lodge with excellent food, a dinner chorus and waterhole viewing. Finally, we went to two tented camps in Botswana where every birder needs to go: the Okavango Delta. Both camps, Kazidora and Machaba, were beautifully sited with amazing staff and delicious food. The game drives were immensely satisfying. Mokoro trips on the Delta waterways brought up feelings of ancient connections to the people and the past. We took Bush Walks and boat rides as basically were as happy as two people could be. For all of this, we have Julian Harrison to thank for giving us the magic of Africa and we hope to return for another trip with him.
I was thinking of what I would say here about Julian and Premier tours. At first I thought of using words like life altering, incredibly structured, first class all the way but no, even though they are all true. My wife claims that this trip was on my bucket list. She was going along for the “ride.” It turned out to be the MOST incredible, amazing trip she ever experienced. We are seasoned international travelers but have never experienced something so phenomenal; something that makes you appreciate life.
Julian provided what he promised without a hitch. The trip that he designed perfectly captured what we wanted to do. Oftentimes we need to request changes from our travel planner but when this trip was designed by Julian we only made two slight changes.
Susie Siskin, September 2016, South Africa (Cape Town, Franschhoek, Mosaic Lodge in Stanford, Kynsna, Tintswalo Safari lodge, Johannesburg), Botswana (Ngoma Safari Lodge), Zimbabwe (Victoria Falls). Set forth below is some of the feedback provided to travel planner.
We had a very nice time on our Africa trip. It met all of our expectations. Thank you for your help and suggestions. All of the arrangements that you made worked out well. Guides and airport transfers were all on time and enjoyable. The vehicles were clean and water was always available. We felt that we got a good first view of various parts of South Africa.
We enjoyed both camps and we thought that they were a good contrast….the wide open spaces of Chobe at Ngoma Safari Lodge vs. the smaller reserve of Myanletti at Tintswalo Safari Lodge. As between the two camps (Tintswalo and Ngoma), we thought the facilities and staff at Tintswalo were excellent (we had a temporary fill in ranger at Tintswalo since our scheduled ranger was called away, but we had a very experienced and excellent tracker and the ranger was good) and the food and ranger at Ngoma were very good. I might mention that at Tintswalo the staff stated that it was appropriate to tip our butler (this was not mentioned on your tip sheet). Our butler was great she provided excellent service, always called us by name and remembered our drink orders after the first day.
Most of the accommodations that you booked for us were great, particularly the Leeu House and The Residences. In fact, our only disappointment in accommodations was at Victoria Falls at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge. The Safari Club on the same property is so much nicer and we wish that we had been offered that option and we could have considered if we wanted to pay the upcharge.
Again it was a wonderful trip and we thank you for your help.
My wife and I travel to South Africa usually every three years to visit with family and to experience and explore a beautiful country. On our last trip in August/September 2016, we traveled for part of this time with four family members including two children (10 years old). Because we travel there so frequently, we generally do not require detailed travel advice. However, on some trips, we do need help and we immediately contact Julian Harrison of Premier Tours. On this trip, he recommended Tintswalo Manor House just outside Kruger Park. His recommendation was outstanding especially for the children. The accommodations, food, service, activities were beyond expectation. The game drives especially for the children were phenomenal! We would have never had such a tremendous experience without Julian’s help. The same can be said of previous trips that Premier Tours has helped us with.
It has been almost a year since our African journey using Julian Harrison. I can easily say that we had a once-in-a-lifetime experience, like none other we have ever experienced. Obviously words cannot express the many sights, sounds, and events that we experienced along the journey, but all were enhanced by your impeccable planning of the trip. The destinations Julian chose for us were perfectly suited to our tastes and the service we received was second to none. In traveling to such a faraway place, every plane was met with a greeter, every camp expected our arrival, and our every request was honored. We cannot thank you enough for your instrumental role in this incredible lifetime event.
Julian worked with us to customize our trip throughout the process. He was incredibly helpful and proactive when hotels announced renovations, flights changed, etc., and we were very happy with the outcomes in every case. Julian assured us that as a same sex couple traveling throughout Southern Africa, that his accommodations, tour providers, etc., would welcome us the same as any other travelers; we were never disappointed. We would love to return to Southern Africa and we will be working with Julian on that future trip!
We traveled during July 2016 and visited South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mauritius.
My family and I just returned from a trip in South Africa that included a few days in Cape Town and then two different safari lodges. We had such a wonderful time! The schedule, pace, and accommodation selection were perfect – there is nothing we would have changed about the trip. Julian Harrioson was able to incorporate our budget and the requests from our family into an itinerary that far exceeded our expectations. Although it was the trip of a lifetime, we are already thinking about when we can go back!
Amazing! We recently returned from an amazing safari put together for us by Julian Harrison and Premier Tours. Due to vacation schedules for our daughters and son-in-law, we wanted the highlights of Southern Africa in a limited amount of time. Julian knew exactly where we should go and he was absolutely correct!
We had perfect accommodations for a quick overnight in Johannesburg upon our arrival in South Africa and then we were off to Victoria Falls. We enjoyed the Safari Club in VF – including a great, wet tour of the Falls and an elephant ride we won’t soon forget.
Our flight from VF to Mombo provided fabulous views of the Delta and we were all in love with the idea of traveling throughout Africa on small planes! And then there is Mombo Camp – the staff members were all warm and friendly and we left after 2 nights wishing we could have stayed much, much longer. I’m sure our daughters are already dreaming of their return visit.
From Mombo we had a very short flight to Tubu Tree where we had another incredible experience. Great accommodations, and a warm, friendly staff.
At both Mombo and Tubu, the wildlife was the real attraction and we certainly saw everything we set out to see – and more. Of course, Julian didn’t arrange the rhino sighting or the mama leopard and her month old cub, but I’m sure if he could have, he would have!
Our children flew home after Tubu Tree and my husband and I enjoyed four lovely days in Cape Town. Guided tour of the City, Cape of Good Hope and wine country were perfect.
We hope to visit Africa again and will definitely call on Julian and Premier Tours to make all of the arrangements.
Julian Harrison from Premier Tours and his staff were excellent and provided us with an experience we will never forget. My wife and I just returned (trip was last week in April and first week in May, 2016). It started in Cape Town (including Peninsula and Wine Region), then Safari in Sabi Sands Private Reserve, and ended at Victoria Falls. From the moment we left the plane in Cape Town until the time we were dropped off at Victoria Falls airport, we were in good hands. Even in the down times that we were not with guides or on a property, we were given proper advice on where to venture (and where not to). Most importantly, during the planning process, they were active listeners to the type of travel experience we like and activities, etc. and came up with an itinerary that was perfect for us. They patiently answered all our questions during the process, and clearly were extremely knowledgeable about Africa. Lisa (who we dealt with on many of the details, once the overall itinerary was shaped) made us feel extremely comfortable that our best interests were being put first – and was extremely valuable in shaping up some of the specific restaurants and activities that we end up choosing. Overall, I would have no qualms whatsoever about recommending Premier Tours for anyone’s trip to Africa and/or Safari.
I traveled with my husband and 3 children (11,13,17) to South Africa and Botswana in March/2016. It was our first trip to Africa. Julian Harrison coordinated all details of the trip. He was phenomenal. All aspects of the trip exceeded our expectations, from game drives to accommodations to tour guides. We always had a point of contact. I received a phone call on a Friday morning that our last destination (Sunday arrival) became flooded due to torrential rains in the area. I emailed and called Julian, within hours he has us re-routed to Mashatu in Botswana, which I can’t recommend highly enough. The changes all went smoothly and he even arranged for malaria meds to be delivered to our hotel in Joburg prior to our morning departure for Matshatu. Amazing in every way and we hope to be back to Africa again very soon!
My wife and I just returned on February 1, 2016 from a month long trip in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Julian was referred by a South African friend who assured us he was the best consultant in the business.
We called and discussed our varied interests, the timeline and our budget. My wife loves animals and was excited about the safaris and I love history and was very interested in the DNA of the country and its people. We also told Julian that we are strictly independent travelers.
His itinerary and arrangements far exceeded our expectations. The B and B’s and safari camps were gorgeous and staffed by some of the most gracious and knowledgeable people we have ever met in our travels. The private tour guides and drivers became friends after many days spent together. The highlights and points of interest in each country hit the mark every time and the food and wine was every bit as good as one would expect traveling in France.
Thank you Julian for this extraordinary experience.
My family of 4 just got back from a charmed trip to South Africa planned by Julian Harrison. We had the most amazing time from Capetown to safari’s in Botswana to Victoria Falls ending in Johannesburg. Our accommodations were amazing, our logistics were handled perfectly. We would never plan a trip to Africa without Julian. He is a master.
We returned Sept. 2015 from a trip that included the Seychelles islands, Cape Town, Western Cape, safaris in South Africa and Botswana and then Victoria Falls. Like his other clients say, it was all amazing.
It seems that everyone knows someone who has been to Africa, and has a favorite safari camp. Julian patiently listened to our suggestions, then outlined the reasoning behind his suggestions. We saw some of the other places, and he was always right. The ones he selected were far superior.
When traveling so far from home some people find comfort in using A&K or other group tours, so that a tour director is aways with them. We were met by courteous and professional agents at every transfer, and our driver guides even took us through the airport check-in process. It was great! Three major benefits: 1) We were not paying for an agent to travel with us; 2) No queues when we checked into our various locations, and 3) Most of Julian’s favorite lodges are boutique and too small to accommodate groups, which becomes part of the charm and the chance to meet different people.
Julian really knows his stuff, and either he or his team visit the locations they recommend annually to make sure they continue to meet their standards. The places they choose know that the Premier team are regular customers, which means special treatment in many different ways. For example, we had a private guide and vehicles just for the two of us in Botswana, for all three days. And by the way, groups cannot do that because they have to treat everyone equally.
Without Julian, Botswana would never have been on our list—yet it was so different and so fabulous that we cannot imagine missing it. Our stay in Hermanus at the Grootbos Nature Preserve was a great intro before the traditional safaris, and Stellenbosch was big fun with the price of wine so reasonable right now.
Our bottom line—Julian and his team really know their stuff, and make every facet a delight. Choose them and you will have no regrets.
We just returned, in early September 2015, from an amazing trip, organized by Julian Harrison, that included South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
Julian and his team did an outstanding job for us. Julian listened carefully to our interests and desires, then used his extensive contacts and knowledge to create a trip we will always remember. Our tours (ranging from city and cultural sites to river excursions to safaris) and our lodgings (ranging from marvelous boutique hotels to the incredible Rattray’s on MalaMala) were exceptional.
On a scale of 1 to 10, our trip to Africa was an 11, thanks to Julian’s planning, expertise and experience. We give him and Premier Tours our highest recommendation.
We are reasonably well travelled, but our safari to Zambia in August of 2015 has proven to be the most thrilling vacation trip we have ever taken. In every aspect—scenic beauty, wildlife viewing, lodging, guides, cuisine—this journey was brilliant. The trip centered around Zambia’s pristine national parks. It featured visits to four superior camps running from north to south, culminating in a wonderful remote camp beside the Zambezi River.
In all camps, wildlife was abundant; as we observed our spirits soared. We realized that vacation trips of this quality are no accident and do not create themselves. Instead, they are the result of the hard and invaluable expertise of Julian. In his hands, every last detail of the trip was planned and executed flawlessly. Additionally, Julian is ALWAYS available to answer any questions or discuss any issue one may have.
I would strongly urge anyone interested in this part of the world to consult with Julian; it will be the single most crucial decision you will make to insure an unforgettable safari.
Thanks to Julian, our trip to South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe was a dream come true.
After getting quotes from two other reputable travel companies, Julian was able to comprise a detailed itinerary within three days of contact. Meeting our budget was critical. Not only did Julian beat other travel quotes, he was able to place us in accommodations that far surpassed previous safari camps and hotels chosen by the other groups.
Celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary with our family in Africa was THE trip of a lifetime! We owe it all to Julian and his professional staff who were extremely helpful answering questions prior to the trip. Top notch guides were provided throughout the two week period with transfers that were carried through without a hitch.
After thoroughly reading all the reviews of various companies, my husband and I placed total trust in Premier Travel and it did not disappoint us!
We plan on returning in a few years and will entrust Julian once again to take us to this beautiful, life changing destination!
We had a wonderful Southern African safari this past July. Julian listened to our bucket list items for a safari adventure and crafted an unforgettable itinerary for us. We would work with Julian again in a heartbeat!
My husband, two daughters (ages 27 and 24) and I traveled to South Africa and Botswana in late August 2014. This was the trip that my husband had been dreaming of since he was a four-year-old viewer of the old Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. He began working with Julian over a year in advance to make sure that the trip met every expectation.
Julian did more than that. This trip exceeded every expectation. It was unforgettable. We flew into Cape Town, where Julian had arranged a local guide and vehicle. After three days, where we stayed at the stunning Cape Grace Hotel, eating at superb restaurants and visiting everything from the Botanical Garden to the penguin colony to the wine country, we flew to Maun, Botswana and then on to Mombo Camp. We spent three unforgettable days at Mombo, then off to Vumbura Plains, and then finally flew back to South Africa for three days at Singita Boulders. Julian secured us private vehicles, guides and trackers in each location and even, through unflagging charm and persistence, got us the best two suites in Singita (#11 and #12—both of which look out over a private watering hole where warthogs, nyala, impala, etc. come to drink). This itinerary could not have been better, and it was Julian who urged us to visit the camps in this order. He also arranged private aircraft charters and seamless transportation from place to place. Julian was responsive to every email, thoughtful in replying to every question and quick to follow up. We recommend him without reservation!
My wife and I recently returned from a vacation planned entirely by Julian Harrison and Premier Tours. It was our first trip to Africa. We traveled to South Africa, Botswana and Zambia. Bottom line: Best holiday we have ever been on and in large part due to the expertise and planning of Premier Tours. Julian custom planned our trip based on our interests and needs. He has a vast degree of knowledge and has personally visited the camps and lodges and has intimate knowledge of where to stay and when to go and the best way to accomplish everything. Dealing with a high-end tour company like Premier gave us the personal touch we needed to plan such a special adventure. Julian has extensive contacts in Africa and was able to plan special details such as an elephant-back safari. He also was able to specially arrange a visit to see white rhinos in a private sanctuary. We would recommend Premier Tours and Julian Harrison without hesitation, and we would not even consider anyone else in planning our next African adventure.
My wife and I, along with one other couple, just returned on September 25, 2014 from a trip of a lifetime to Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa put together by Julian Harrison with Premier Tours. The trip could not have been more perfect. The safari camps were all great, and the wildlife viewing and photography were terrific. The quality of the guides and the food at all three camps we went to were all top-notch for being located out in the wild. The city hotels we stayed at following our safari camps were also excellent choices, particularly the one in the wine country. We were especially impressed with how timely everyone was when meeting us on our various stops in Africa—whether it was meeting us at the airports upon arrivals, walking us through the various airport departure requirements in different countries, meeting us and returning us to the various safari camps, all the small-plane departures, or the city tours that we took. Everything worked like clockwork in a part of the world where we would not have necessarily expected it to. Premier Tours did an outstanding job and we would recommend them very highly. We have always appreciated Wendy Perrin’s recommendations for travel agents and have used her list previously with excellent vacation experiences.
We recently returned from Botswana and S.Africa and can say that Julian Harrison planned a flawless trip. We have been to East Africa and there is no comparison in the two trips regarding camps, timing, communication and execution. People have asked us about our trip in recent days and we continue to say we credit our travel agent for helping us toast the day each night at dinner with, “To another perfect day.” Thanks Julian, this trip was so memorable.