Tag Archives: Namibia

tourist woman on safari in South Africa sitting in jeep with elephant in distance

Here’s Why I Felt Covid-Safe on Safari

As the floodgates of travel reopen and we all learn to negotiate staying safe while away from home—and as European sidewalks and museums are once again crowded with visitors—I want to tell you about the low-risk travel formula I’ve hit upon: an African safari. I’ve spent time in southern Africa twice in the past year (in Botswana and Zimbabwe in 2021, and in Namibia and South Africa in 2022), and on both trips I felt safe and returned home Covid-free. Here’s why:


Our safari vehicle at Sabi Sabi: no sides or top, with our ranger at the wheel and our tracker up front. South Africa
Our safari vehicle at Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve: no sides or top, with our ranger at the wheel and our tracker up front.
Our enclosed vehicle at Little Kulala in Namibia.
The salad buffet and open-air dining room at Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge, South Africa.
The salad buffet and open-air dining room at Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge.
The open-air “lobby” at Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge, South Africa.
The open-air “lobby” at Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge.
The dining room at Earth Lodge, South Africa.
The dining room at Earth Lodge.
A special outdoor table for my family at Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, Namibia.
A special outdoor table for my family at Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, Namibia.

Just about everything happens outdoors.

On a safari, the bulk of your day is spent on game drives—and at most camps, that means being in a vehicle with no sides (and often no top), and plenty of fresh breeze immediately diluting any exhaled virus particles. Vehicle set-up does vary by camp and by destination; this is something worth discussing with an in-the-know travel planner before your trip. The camps I visited in Namibia’s desert, for example, use enclosed vehicles to keep the sand out. I could open the windows and pop up the roof when I wanted fresh air, and I felt comfortable riding inside with my guides after confirming that they’d been vaccinated (more on that below).

Long before Covid, most safari camps and lodges were already designed for outdoor dining. A year ago, every single meal I ate on safari was served al fresco. On my recent trip, camp staff opted to set up indoors on a couple of chilly mornings and rainy evenings. In the few instances where I didn’t feel comfortable enough sitting near a window, they happily moved my family outside—and brought us blankets to stay warm, and even luminaries for ambiance.


Our tracker in Sabi Sabi, Lesley, teaches my son how to grind coffee in the bush.  South African safari
Our tracker in Sabi Sabi, Lesley, teaches my son how to grind coffee in the bush.
inside a charter flight with pilot and tourist woman South African safari
Charter flights make for close quarters; every one of our pilots was vaccinated.
tourist woman and guide on safari in South Africa
Namibian guide Joas arranged for treatment at a private hospital when his parents got Covid; he’s vaccinated.

Most people in the travel industry are vaccinated.

At the time of my most recent trip, just 30% of South Africa’s population and 15% of Namibia’s population was fully vaccinated. But I asked every person I was in close contact with if they were vaccinated, and the answer was always yes. Some of those in Namibia felt that their job was at risk if they didn’t get vaccinated; at the camps I visited in South Africa, a local clinic had vaccinated the entire staff. Even when a country’s overall vaccination rate is relatively low, uptake among people who work in travel is often much higher.


The sitting area in my suite at Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge safari
The sitting area in my suite at Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge
The bedroom in my suite at Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge South Africa
The bedroom
The indoor/outdoor bathroom in my suite at Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge in South Africa
The indoor/outdoor bathroom

You’re not interacting with lots of people, even when camps are full.

I visited a range of camps and lodges this year, from remote spots with just eight tents to one with 25 stand-alone villas. While each one was busier than the places I visited last year, nowhere ever felt crowded. I could chat with fellow travelers over the breakfast buffet or at the airstrip waiting for a charter flight, but I never found myself in close quarters with strangers. What’s more, there’s a bit less mixing at safari camps these days: Before Covid, the Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve where I stayed, on the edge of South Africa’s Kruger National Park, grouped the same guests together for both game drives and meals. Today, those who don’t pay for a private vehicle will likely share one with others, but each group dines separately.

A savvy fixer can speed you through the only place you’ll find crowds: the airports.

Johannesburg Airport was a ghost town a year ago, but things have picked up significantly since then. Luckily, each time I arrived at an airport on my most recent trip, Trusted Travel Expert Cherri Briggs had someone there to meet me. Sure, I’m capable of navigating check-in counters and customs procedures on my own—but having a minder accompany me meant that I got to skip to the front of lines and use security checks reserved for crew and other VIPs. So even though the airports were busy, the time I had to spend in them shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers was minimal.


Photographing Soweto with our photojournalist/guide.
An impromptu drum lesson in Soweto.
Witnessing the devastation of recent flooding on Soweto’s streets.
Visiting a preschool in Soweto. Photo: Ilan Ossendryver
A spontaneous embrace from a food vendor at a Soweto market. Photo: Ilan Ossendryver

I saved my riskiest interactions for the end of the trip.

While the safari was the main purpose for my trip this year, I wanted my ten-year-old son to see a bit of urban Africa as well. We were flying through Johannesburg, so Cherri helped me plan a day-and-a-half in the city. Since city activities were the part of the trip when our exposure to Covid was likely to be highest, we built this into the end of my trip rather than the beginning. On our last day in Africa, a photojournalist-turned-tour-guide took my family to the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Satyagraha House (where Gandhi once lived), and the Kliptown neighborhood of Soweto. Cultural exchanges can be tricky, and in Soweto I planned to follow my hosts’ lead in terms of Covid protocols, without disrupting the flow by asking about vaccination status; in practice, that meant going indoors unmasked to visit a preschool, to hear a group of local musicians perform, and to buy some knit hats from a trio of enterprising grannies. Everywhere I went, the welcome seemed warm and genuine, and I’m glad I didn’t have a mask hiding my smile for those brief interactions. (I tested five days after returning home, per CDC guidance, and was negative.)

So that’s why I felt safe on safari—but here’s why I’d go back in a heartbeat:

Rhinos in Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve South Africa
Rhinos in Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve
Lions drinking after a kill South African safari
Lions drinking after a kill.
Playful lions south africa safari
Playful lions.
cheetah seen on safari in South Africa
The enormous lungs beneath a cheetah’s prominent chest aid its sprinting abilities.
an elephant seen on safari in South Africa
A thorny breakfast for an elephant.

The wildlife experience is unchanged since Covid.

Few corners of the globe remain unaffected by Covid; the African veld seems to be one such spot (excepting, perhaps, the hand sanitizer that appears beside your sundowners on evening game drives). This was my fifth time on safari, and I saw more animals at Sabi Sabi than I’d seen on any other trip: playful packs of lion cubs running laps around their mothers; elephants munching on shrubbery, seemingly unconcerned by the plant’s inch-long thorns; a barrel-chested cheetah and her offspring that came close enough we could hear them purring; a leopard and the impala kill it had dragged impressively high into a tree; two sturdy rhinos, unaware that their horns would soon be removed to discourage poaching. The wildlife that brings so many to Southern Africa is still there in abundance.


Transparency disclosure: So that I could experience South Africa, WOW Lister Cherri Briggs arranged for a reduced rate at Bush Lodge and Earth Lodge in the Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve. Everything I did on my trip is accessible to every traveler who contacts Cherri via Wendy’s WOW questionnaire. Thanks to Wendy’s WOW system, you’ll get marked as a VIP traveler.


Namib Desert, Namibia

WOW Moment: A Private Champagne Lunch on the Namibian Coast

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Robin Louis
Photo: Robin Louis
Photo: Robin Louis
Photo: Robin Louis
Photo: Robin Louis
Photo: Robin Louis
Sossusvlei Dunes, Namibia
Photo: Explore


Linda and Robin Louis are frequent travelers. They’d even been to Africa twice before. So when they decided they wanted to return to the continent and experience something new, they looked to Wendy’s WOW List and found Cherri Briggs. There were two challenges they brought to the table: First, they wanted to leave in three weeks’ time; and second, since this was their third trip using a WOW List Trusted Travel Expert, they had earned a WOW Moment that would have to be arranged for this vacation.

WOW Moments—complimentary insider experiences, custom-designed by Wendy in collaboration with a Trusted Travel Expert—are meant to be a surprise, so Cherri and Wendy had to do some quick thinking and planning in order to deliver something truly special.

We recently spoke to Linda Louis, at her home in Vancouver, to find out how that WOW Moment went down and to learn more about the rest of their memorable trip to Namibia and South Africa.

Q: Who went on the trip and where did you travel?

A: My husband and I had decided we wanted to go somewhere in Africa, maybe Madagascar. We’ve used Wendy’s list before, so my husband, Robin, looked up Africa and we found Cherri and [her colleague] Katie. Katie said it wasn’t a good time to go to Madagascar because it was the rainy season, and recommended Namibia and South Africa instead.

We flew to Johannesburg and spent time in Tswalu in the Kalahari, and then we went to Cape Town and the wine district, then to Namibia and stayed in three separate camps, then back to Joburg and up to Singita, in Kruger National Park.

Q: This wasn’t your first time in Africa. Why did Namibia appeal to you?

A: We’d been to Kenya and Tanzania before, but we’d never been to the south. Namibia is very different than anywhere else. It’s all desert. It’s staggering that there’s anything living there at all. It’s very beautiful but very different than South Africa, so it was a good mix.

Q: Did you have any clue what was going to happen for your WOW Moment?

A: Not really. We moved in little planes for a lot of the trip. So when the flight from Sossusvlei to Mowani Mountain Camp required a stop “for refueling,” we kind of looked at the map and thought, Hmmm, it doesn’t look so far that we would need to refuel. Then, when we landed and got picked up for lunch, we knew something was up, but we thought we’d be going to a restaurant. Instead, after a tour through the small town of Swokopmund, we ended up in a beautiful tent on the beach.

Q: What was served for lunch?

A: Oh, we started with champagne. Then there was smoked salmon wrapped around asparagus and fresh oysters—the best oysters I’ve ever had. They farm oysters in Namibia, so they were very fresh. And then we had crayfish, mussels, and calamari, and salads and vegetables. All with wine.

Q: It sounds like the food and location were very special. Anything else?

A: The plane ride itself was really a highlight of the trip because we flew over to the coast and then up the coast. We flew really low, so we could see the shipwrecks and seals and birds. It was only a four-passenger plane—two pilots and us. Robin had walked up Big Daddy, one of the dunes, a couple of days before, so they flew us over and around it, so Robin could get a look. So the flight itself was amazing, not just the lunch.

Q: What were some other highlights from this trip?

A: Namibia is spectacularly scenic, especially in the evening because the color of the sands and the shadows on the sands changes. And we saw lots of animals—including lions, really up close and beautiful—and because it’s so sandy, they’re quite easy to track: Their footprints are just right there. We also visited the Himba, which is a tribe that lives like they’ve always lived, all by themselves.

Q: And in South Africa?

A: When we were in Cape Town, we had two very fun days with women. One was a wine day, and one was a food day. For the food day, our guide picked us up in the morning and we went to the Biscuit Mill area; it was Saturday morning, so the Biscuit Mill was full of food stands, and we had rosti and smoked salmon cooked by the chef of the Test Kitchen. Then we just moved around the city eating and going to markets. We had lunch in the shipping containers on the roof of the train station, and we just kind of ate our way around the city. It was an interesting way to visit different areas of the city rather than just driving around and looking at architecture. We went to the Cape Malay area and the Muslim area and to a little spice shop—and our local guide talked to everyone, which made it easy for us to talk to everyone. Local guides make it so that you’re not an outsider looking in.

Q: Aside from the WOW Moment, in what ways did it help to have a Trusted Travel Expert plan this trip?

A: They know the people on the ground. We’ve had some amazing guides—people who take us around—and that’s always really nice when you can meet the local people. Also, we have a bad habit of not planning too far in advance, which perhaps is another reason I like to use an expert. Every once in a while Robin just says, “The weather is bad here, we need to go somewhere!”


Wendy Wants To Amp Up Your Trip!

On every third qualifying trip, Wendy will add to your itinerary a surprise WOW Moment. A WOW Moment is an exclusive insider experience that helps make a trip extraordinary. Each WOW Moment is totally different. They vary depending on a huge range of factors, including the country you’re headed to, the timing of your trip, logistics, availability, and more. You can read a sampling of the more over-the-top WOW Moments (those most conducive to editorial coverage) here. Learn which trips qualify, and how the process works, here: Wendy Wants To Amp Up Your Trip!

Sorris Sorris Lodge, Namibia

These Four New Lodges Offer a Rare Glimpse of Northern Namibia

Sorris Sorris Lodge, Namibia
Sorris Sorris Lodge, Namibia. Photo: Tino De Njis/Namibia Exclusive
Sorris Sorris Lodge, Namibia
Sorris Sorris Lodge, Namibia. Photo: Tino De Njis/Namibia Exclusive
Sorris Sorris Lodge, Namibia
Sorris Sorris Lodge, Namibia. Photo: Tino De Njis/Namibia Exclusive
Omatendeka safari lodge, Namibia
Omatendeka safari lodge, Namibia. Photo: Greg Wright Architects/Namibia Exclusive
Omatendeka safari lodge, Namibia
Omatendeka safari lodge, Namibia. Photo: Greg Wright Architects/Namibia Exclusive
Elephants at Namibia's Xaudum Lodge
Elephants at Namibia's Xaudum Lodge. Photo: Namibia Exclusive
Namibia's Xaudum safari Lodge
Namibia's Xaudum Lodge. Photo: Greg Wright Architects/Namibia Exclusive
Namibia safair. Photo: Olwen Evans/Namibia Exclusive
Sheya Shuushona safari camp, Namibia
Sheya Shuushona safari camp, Namibia. Photo: Piers L'Estrange/Namibia Exclusive
Sheya Shuushona safari camp, Namibia
Sheya Shuushona, Namibia. Photo: Piers L'Estrange/Namibia Exclusive


A newcomer to the safari scene is making some of Namibia’s wildest country accessible with the opening of four small luxury lodges in remote northern regions. The lodges, designed by architect Greg Scott and constructed of native materials, are surrounded by spectacular scenery—boulder-strewn desert, red sand dunes, soda lakes. Far from conventional tourist routes, they provide rare access to such treasures as a river valley that is home to the endangered black rhino and a national park populated by some 3,000 elephants.

Namibia Exclusive Safaris is the brainchild of Vitor Azevedo, a native Angolan who came to Namibia as a refugee at age 12. Its mission extends beyond wildlife conservation and includes helping pastoralists and small farmers live sustainably on their ancestral lands. The company has developed equitable partnerships with local constituents organized into conservancies, and its programs give visitors a unique glimpse into the lives of people such as the Damaras, pastoralists who speak a click language. The first lodge, Sorris Sorris, opened in August 2015.

Perched atop granite boulders in a rocky desert landscape, Sorris Sorris has only nine guest rooms (like all the lodges), an outdoor pool, and panoramic views of the Ugab River and Brandberg Mountain, Namibia’s tallest peak and the site of hundreds of rock paintings. The river’s ecosystem provides habitat for the black rhino, the desert elephant, and the desert-adapted lion. In addition to nature drives, sightseeing here is done by hot-air balloon.

Omatendeka, at the headwaters of the Hoanib River, boasts a 360-degree view of plains and tabletop mountains. Natural springs attract lions, elephants, and the endangered black rhino, as well as zebra, oryx, springbok, giraffe, and eland. Activities include guided nature walks, game drives, and watching the animals at the waterhole outside your bungalow door.

Located inside Khaudum National Park, Xaudum is surrounded by Kalahari sand dunes covered in an acacia forest, habitat for an estimated 3,000 elephants, as well as antelope and the rare wild dog. The nine guest rooms are connected to public areas by raised wooden walkways.

Sheya Shuushona, on the edge of Etosha National Park, overlooks a vast saltpan that changes color with the season, from snow white to pink to turquoise. The pan becomes a lake in the rainy season, attracting flamingos, storks and cranes. The nine guest rooms can accommodate 18 guests at a time.

For more information or help planning a trip, contact Cherri Briggs of Explore, one of Wendy’s Trusted Travel Experts.


Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

Namibia's desert-adapted lions Photo by Susan Portnoy

5 Ways Namibia’s Desert-Adapted Lions Will Awe You

One of many reasons to visit Namibia is its otherworldly Skeleton Coast, where, if you’re lucky, you’ll see the elusive desert-adapted lions that are unique to this part of the world. I knew little about the cats when I arrived at Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp on a recent safari, but I left fascinated by their story. Here are five reasons why these unusual lions should be on everyone’s must-see list.

Desert adaptation is the key to their survival
It’s hard to imagine anything surviving on the Skeleton Coast, the world’s oldest desert, spanning thousands of miles along the western border of Namibia. Between the lack of food and water, sand storms, blinding fog, and drastic changes in temperature from bitter cold to blazing hot, often within the same day, it’s one of the most inhospitable environments on the planet—and the last place I expected to see a pride of lions.

Indigenous to the region, desert-adapted lions are the same species as their counterparts elsewhere in Africa, but over countless generations have evolved to endure what the others cannot. To withstand the arid wasteland, the lions can go without water, deriving what they need from the blood of their prey. Their coats are slightly heavier to protect them from the cold, and they can travel long-distances in search of food.

Namibia's desert-adapted lions Photo by Susan Portnoy

Photo: Susan Portnoy, The Insatiable Traveler.

They were thought to be extinct
The number-one threat to the survival of desert lions is human-lion conflict—namely, villagers who shoot or kill the big cats to protect their livestock. In the early ‘80s, multiple adult lions were shot, and for some time they were thought to be extinct. But the lions prevailed and were later discovered in the mountains to the east. Over the years the population grew, and today there are approximately 150 lions in the region. With such a small number, however, the gene pool can be easily compromised. The loss of only a few breeding adults could potentially tip the scales toward disaster.

nambia desert lions Flip Stander Photo by Susan Portnoy

Dr. Philip “Flip” Stander spends four months at a time alone in the desert in his research vehicle, studying Namibia’s desert lions. Photo: Susan Portnoy, The Insatiable Traveler.

They have a champion
Spending up to four months at a time alone in the desert in his research vehicle slash home-away-from-home, Dr. Philip “Flip” Stander is the foremost expert on desert-adapted lions and, for 18 years, their proverbal knight in shining armor. The epitome of the stereotypical misanthropic field researcher, Stander sports a rugged beard, deeply tanned skin, and writes his notes on his arms with a Sharpie. He’s devoted his life to studying the cats and to developing tactics that will help the lions and villagers to co-exist. In 1998, he founded Desert Lion Conservation Project, to “collect sound ecological data, address human-lion conflicts, and to develop a conservation strategy.”

Stander believes tourism plays a crucial role in the lions’ future. The cats are a big draw for Namibia and, the more dollars associated with them, the more reason everyone has to keep them alive. The problem is that many of the people in the villages who are forced to live with the lions aren’t seeing the benefits of bearing the burden. Stander hopes that by educating travelers and working with the government and villagers on the ground, he can help bridge the gap.

Five cubs hold the key to the future
Two years ago tragedy struck: One of the few remaining adult male lions was shot. The fate of the population, once again, seemed doomed. But Mother Nature stepped in. At about the same time, three females from the Floodplain pride—a mother and her two daughters—gave birth to five male cubs, an almost unheard-of scenario in the wild. In one fell swoop, a brighter future seemed possible, as long as the lions could stay alive and breed.

Coined the Five Musketeers, they’re a lucky bunch. In the wild, 80% of cubs die before the age of two, and yet all of them have successfully reached that milestone. Soon they will permanently separate from their mothers in search of females with whom they can mate.

The Musketeers are collared and monitored very closely by Stander. The information he receives via satellite helps him to track their movements and study their behaviors. He also uses the collars to provide Hoanib with their location so that guests can see them if they’re in range. In return, the camp’s parent company, Wilderness Safaris, helps Stander with funding and logistics. Without Standers’ intel, the lions’ territory is so vast and the terrain so difficult, they would be almost impossible to find.

Namibia's desert-adapted lions Photo by Susan Portnoy

Namibia’s desert-adapted lions; the young ones are collared and monitored by the Desert Lion Conservation Project. Photo: Susan Portnoy, The Insatiable Traveler.

Lions don’t like stand-up comedy
When trying to navigate the delicate balance between humans and lions, it pays to be creative. Take a recent incident where the big cats were detected in the vicinity of a large herd of cattle along the Hoanib Riverbed. Stander knew that tempers would flare and lions could be killed if he didn’t do something to intervene. Physically moving the cats is a last resort, so he used his vehicle’s sound system to broadcast loud music and human voices in hopes of driving the lions out. According to Stander, he blasted, “stand-up comedy shows with female or high-pitched male voices. The latter proved to be particularly annoying to the lions and they moved away from the danger area. (Thanks goes to Bill Connolly & Ben Elton).”

The Five Musketeers will air on the small screen
The Five Musketeers are stars in Namibia; soon they will be celebs around the world. Will and Leanne Steenkamp of Into Nature Productions spent two years battling the desert and working with Stander to film the lions from young cubs to current day. The film, called The Vanishing Kings: Lions of the Namib, looks at their herculean efforts to survive the Skeleton Coast and the lives of their matriarch (of sorts), the majestic Queen. The documentary will air on the Smithsonian channel later this summer.

Disclosure: Susan was a guest of Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp during her visit. While discussion of her journey was expected on her own blog, The Insatiable Traveler, how and what she chose to write was completely at her discretion.


Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.


Read more about Susan Portnoy’s trip to Namibia at her own site, The Insatiable Traveler, and follow her at facebook.com/Insatiabletraveler and @susanportnoy.

Private Villa, Transcoso, Brazil

Five Expensive Destinations That Will Be Cheaper in 2015

The dollar is once again king: Since the Great Recession, the Unites States’ economy has recovered better than any other major country’s: At the start of 2015, our currency was at an eleven-year high compared to those of other major countries, while the euro was at a nine-year low. Local currencies are down at least 10% against the January 2014 dollar in many popular travel destinations, including Mexico, Argentina, the euro zone, Sweden, Norway, and much of Africa. Parts of the world that not long ago were unaffordable for many are now within closer reach. Here are five places where the strong dollar will carry you surprisingly far in 2015:


Temple monks in Wakayama, Japan

Temple monks in Wakayama, Japan. Courtesy Paco

Since 2012, the yen has decreased in value by a whopping 43%. Hotels have raised their rates a bit, says Duff Trimble, our Trusted Travel Expert for Japan, but not nearly enough to keep up. This makes the country a bargain compared to what it cost to travel there a few years ago. You’ll find the best deals outside the peak periods for cherry blossoms (early April) and fall foliage (late November). Game for a last-minute getaway? Why not try skiing in Japan this winter.

To get the best possible trip, Ask Wendy.


Sossusvlei Dunes, Namibia

Sossusvlei Dunes, Namibia. Courtesy Cherri Briggs

South Africa & Namibia
A weakening rand and strong U.S. dollar mean that these two African nations are a steal for American travelers right now (the Namibian dollar is tied to the South African rand). Two years ago, $1 bought you about 8 rand; today, the rate is above 11.50. Over the course of a five-night safari, that difference could save a couple more than $3,500 at Royal Malewane, a luxury lodge situated on a private game reserve adjacent to Kruger National Park.

Read Insider’s Guides from some of our Trusted Travel Experts for Africa: Nina Wennersten and Dan Saperstein’s Insider’s Guide to South Africa Safaris, and Cherri Briggs’s Insider’s Guide to Namibia

To get the best possible trip, use Wendy’s trip-request forms to contact Nina and Dan, or Cherri.


Evening View, London, England

The view from Victoria Tower of the Houses of Parliament, the River Thames, Westminster and Westminster Bridge, towards the East as dusk is falling. Courtesy Visit Britain

Yes, the dollar buys more British pounds than it has in over a year. But that’s not the only reason that there’s value to be found in this perennially expensive city, says our Trusted Travel Expert for the United Kingdom, Jonathan Epstein. Several new five-star hotels have opened recently, and the competition has driven prices down: At the Milestone Hotel overlooking Kensington Palace, for instance, your fourth night is free (in a suite, the third night comes at no charge); at the Athenaeum Hotel in Mayfair, Epstein’s clients get 50% off a second room during certain times of year.

Read Jonathan’s Insider advice for London Heathrow overnight layovers.

To get the best possible trip, use Wendy’s trip-request form to contact Jonathan.


Gardens of Peter, St. Petersburg, Russia

Gardens of Peter, St. Petersburg, Russia. Courtesy Greg Tepper

With “diminished crowds and dramatically lower prices,” reports our Trusted Travel Expert for Russia, Greg Tepper, “now is the best time to visit Russia in many, many years.” Despite the current political climate, urban Russians are generally pro-Western, and personal safety is no more a concern than in Rome or Paris. If you want the best value, advises Tepper, start booking now: Hotels are at a huge discount, but many have already warned Tepper that they may soon start quoting rates in dollars or euros. Dance lovers would be wise to plan a trip during the Mariinsky International Ballet Festival in mid-March, when acclaimed dancers from around the world perform together in St. Petersburg. Tepper’s three-night programs to Moscow and St. Petersburg are the perfect introductions to these legendary cities; for WendyPerrin.com readers, the packages (including luxury hotel accommodations with breakfast, airport transfers, and one day’s private guided touring) start at $1,675 per person in Moscow and $1,200 per person in St. Petersburg—about 25% off what the same would have cost last year.

Read Greg’s Insider’s Guides to Moscow and to St. Petersburg.

To get the best possible trip, use Wendy’s trip-request form to contact Greg.


Even in the quiet year shoehorned between hosting duties for the World Cup and the Olympics, Brazil is a hot destination—but also a more affordable one for Americans, thanks to the most favorable exchange rate in almost a decade. From the megalopolis of Rio de Janeiro to the jungles of the Amazon, prices are about 20% lower than even last year, and the Brazilian real isn’t predicted to strengthen until 2016.

Read our Trusted Travel Expert Paul Irvine’s Insider’s Guides to Rio de Janeiro and to Trancoso, Brazil.

To get the best possible trip, use Wendy’s trip-request form to contact Paul.


Where are you headed this year?