Safari with Calvin Cottar and John Stevens – Are You Kidding Me!

Literally two of Africa’s best guides – and I am not kidding as they have been voted Africa’s best guide at various times, these two are safari legends – are hosting a 13 day flying safari in September 2020!


The trip take 16 guests in total (you will fly aboard two Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft with 8 guests, 1 guide, and 1 pilot per aircraft).


The trip starts in Zimbabwe on September 23, 2020 and visits Mana Pools (such a sublime wilderness area – I could live there forever), Likoma Island in Malawi (one of my secret getaway spots – love the people on this remote island and all the water activities), chimp trekking in Tanzania’s Mahale Mountains (are you kidding me? Chimp trekking with John and Calvin in one of Africa’s most beautiful and remote spots), and ends at Calvin’s property in the Masai Mara (Big 5 game… break out the aspirin as there might be some late nights!)


This is the COOLEST private safari I have seen offered in over 20 years and anyone who is able should jump on it ASAP! Speaking from personal experience these two guides are nothing less than incredible. 


Price Per Person Sharing: US $29,500
Price Per Person Single: US $31,400


Here is the detailed itinerary:


Scenic Air Safaris, John’s Camp, and Cottar’s 1920s Camp have come together to provide a completely unique Scenic flying safari starting in Mana Pools in Zimbabwe and flying north across some of Africa’s most beautiful terrain to end in Maasai Mara. Privately hosted by two of Africa’s most respected safari guides, John Stevens and Calvin Cottar, this trip ensures the very best guiding and hosting experience available. John’s home turf is Mana Pools and Calvin’s is in the Maasai Mara, and between them they have stories that will keep you enthralled throughout the trip. Experience adventure, exhilaration and fascination on board Scenic Air Safari’s luxurious executive Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft as you fly over Africa’s most unique, beautiful and in places, untouched landscapes. With large windows and headsets and intercom system installed to each seat, the Scenic flying experience offers a completely unique dimension to this safari.


This exclusive journey through the heart of Africa opens up a world of discovery. Explore the alluring magnificence of Zimbabwe, the romance of Lake Malawi, the majesty of the Mahale Mountains in Tanzania and the wildlife migration in Kenya… the trip promises to give a wide variety of experiences. These extraordinary locations offer some of the very best wildlife areas that Africa has to offer. You will also get to embrace local cultures and their traditions, whilst staying in elegant lodges and safari camps. Whether exploring on game drives, appreciating the unique landscapes, enjoying activities at the stylish lodges or just relaxing and enjoying stories around the campfire, this unique journey will create unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime.
Flying over some of Africa’s most unique and beautiful locations and viewing them from your Executive-configured Cessna Grand Caravan with executive seating and headsets for your professional guide to talk you through the experience.


Privately hosted by some of Africa’s best known and most respected safari guides
Scenic “Flight of Angels” over Victoria Falls, the world’s largest sheet of falling water, before flying along the Zambezi River and Lake Kariba en route to Mana Pools
Four nights in Mana Pools National Park, UNESCO World Heritage Site, with 4 of the big 5 to be seen and very good chance of seeing wild dog
Walking safari with John Stevens, learning bush craft and tracking lion in the wild
Game drives in open vehicles in one of the last remaining true wilderness areas, Mana Pools
Sleeping out under the stars on the romantic John’s Camp star deck, set on the edge of the flood plain looking out across the mighty Zambezi River
Eating gourmet food al fresco at John’s Camp, while buffalo and other plains game congregate in front of you
Relaxing on the shores of Lake Malawi at one of the top 10 most romantic places in the world in Kaya Mawa
Scenic flight along the shores of Lake Malawi heading north into Tanzania
Scenic flight along the shores of lake Lake Tanganika on the way to Mahale Mountains
Experience the majestic Mahale Mountains and trekking to see Chimpanzee in their natural environment
Scenic flight along the shores of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest fresh water lake
Scenic flight over the Maasai Mara game reserve
At Cottar’s 1920s Camp indulge in a unique canvas bush bath; a traditional style safari canvas bath set in the open air outside your tent. Enjoy your bubble-filled bath sipping cold champagne
Enjoy a candle-lit bush dinner by the fire while watching the Maasai Warriors dance at Cottar’s 1920’s Camp
Be inspired by the Maasai culture through Cottar’s 1920s Camp Maasai Warrior School; build a fire, shoot a bow and arrow and learn about the Maasai ways
Scenic flight over Lake Natron and Lake Magadi, Kenya’s most spectacular Soda lakes in the heart of the rift valley


Calvin has been guiding in the African bush since he was fifteen years old and is the 4th generation of East Africa’s oldest continuing family run safari business. He has been voted on several separate occasions as the Best Guide in Africa and has been interviewed by countless international reporters, travel writers, published authors, and conservationist enthusiasts. He has worked in Tanzania for many years, owned a wildlife management company in Kenya and worked for the Kenya Wildlife Service in the Community Department, where he initiated five district wildlife associations. Today, he provides private guiding, is a shareholder of Cottar’s 1920’s Camp, works with the local Maasai community on the Cottar’s Wildlife Conservation Trust, and develops and explores new safari destinations. Through a lifetime of accumulated knowledge and experience, the highest KPPGA qualification (Gold) and his unparalleled passion for wildlife makes any experience with him a memorable one, filled with knowledge, excitement, and deep enjoyment.


From an early age John accompanied his father on many expeditions into the bush that surrounded the home where he was born in Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands. His future career took a natural path with the then Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management and included time as Warden of two of Zimbabwe’s most significant wildlife reserves: Matusadona National Park on the banks of Lake Kariba and Mana Pools National Park, in the spectacular Lower Zambezi Valley. As a guide, John prefers to encourage his guests to walk whenever possible. The intimate wildlife encounter gained from being on foot is like no other, making for an experience of memorable intensity, and one which his clients are fully able to enjoy, thanks to their complete confidence in John’s incomparable bush craft. In 2015, John and Nicci, together with a group of like minded individuals formed the Zambezi Elephant Fund, an anti-poaching/conservation initiative that seeks to protect the magnificent elephants, other wildlife species and habitats that make the Zambezi Valley the special place it is and John’s most favorite safari location. John, like many of his ilk, has a boyish enthusiasm for adventuring, a decided preference for walking safaris, an innate and brilliant knowledge of the bush, amazing tracking skills and the ability to be close to wildlife without confrontation but always with respect. In short, John is one of few who can make all the difference on a safari, giving you an intimate, sometimes dramatic, experience of wild Africa.


Day 1: John’s Camp, Mana Pools, Zimbabwe
Depart Victoria Falls International Airport for a short “Flight of Angels” over Victoria Falls before turning north east for your flight to Mana Pools. This 219,600-hectare wildlife conservation area and national park located on the lower Zambezi, is regarded as Zimbabwe’s best park and one of the finest wilderness areas in Africa. Situated at the northernmost point of Zimbabwe straddling the Zambian border, Mana Pools is remarkably beautiful: a riverine wilderness on the Zambezi River – of pools, floodplains, baobab trees and forests – that feels totally remote and never gets crowded. The park is well known for its elephants and good sightings of lion, as well as Africa’s endangered wild dogs.


Flight time Vic Falls Int airport to Mana Pools
Approx 2 Hours + 10 Minutes additional Scenic flying
Overnights John’s Camp (BLD)


Day 2, 3 & 4: John’s Camp, Mana Pools, Zimbabwe
Mana Pools National Park is situated on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River where you will find John’s Camp in the eastern corner, a small, contemporary bush camp, comfortable but authentically simple, and set amongst Trichelia and Mahogany trees in a truly natural wilderness. Across the vast floodplain you can walk with John and the giants – our amazing African bull elephants, some of whom have developed a unique bi-pedal feeding technique… or track lions, look for the “Little 5”, dine al fresco in front of herds of buffalo, gaze upon a veritable Garden of Eden from your tent veranda, enjoy sundowners with hippos on the banks of the Zambezi River and tick off your bird list from over 400 species of birds. Take game drives in open vehicles through remote areas of the park, learn bush craft skills, go fishing, relax and doze with your book by day – or sleep out at night on the Star Deck, a wonderfully romantic and secluded spot, which overlooks the floodplain and is very often surrounded by animals such as impala, baboons or elephant.
Overnights John’s Camp (BLD)


Day 5: Mana Pools, Zimbabwe to Likoma Island, Malawi
Early morning start before flying west to Kariba International airport. Land and clear customs out of Kariba before flying north east to enter Malawi at Lilongwe International airport. Clear customs into Malawi before you fly north into Likoma Island. Arrive in time for lunch at Kaya Mawa. Likoma Island is found towards the northeastern part of Lake Malawi, within the territorial waters of Mozambique but part of Malawi and linked to the rest of the country by a steamer service. The island is quite hilly in places, mostly dry and sandy since it lies in the rain shadow of the Mozambique shore. Baobabs are a common feature of the landscape but big trees are generally scarce. The population is over five thousand people, scattered in little villages throughout the island.


Kaya Mawa is set on a rocky promontory on the southern tip of the Island. The name means ‘maybe tomorrow’ and is the perfect phrase for this wonderful retreat. It is has been sensitively refurbished and a new central lounge and dining area has been built with lighter colours and contemporary styling. It is a perfect location for beach dinners or a relaxing lunch, with comfortable sofas with huge cushions, so you can listen to the water lap the shore whilst having a G&T. Each room is individually designed and built in sympathy with the rocks on the island and often built around the boulders themselves.


Flight time Mana Pools to Kariba Int airport Approx 38 Mins
Flight time Kariba Int airport to Lilongwe int airport Approx 2 hours 20 mins
Flight time Lilongwe Int airport to Likoma Island Approx 50 Mins
Overnight Kaya Mawa (BLD)


Day 6: Likoma Island, Malawi
Voted in the top ten “Most Romantic Places in the World” by Conde Nast and in the Tatler “top 101 Hotels in the World” and most recently voted the 3rd Best Beach Property in Africa in the Good Safari Awards. From the construction and the staff to the integration within the local community, there is literally nowhere else like it. Each room is individually designed in partnership with Katundu Textiles, a workshop set up on the island to empower single mothers. The entire workforce comes from the surrounding areas. The result is a uniquely stunning lodge with a feeling of contemporary rustic whilst being ultimately chic. Private dinner set on the beach in front of the camp set the scene for the perfect evening dining experience.


Activities offered by Kaya Mawa include snorkeling, sailing, Kayaking, mountain biking and walks on the island. At extra cost you can do windsurfing, water skiing, wake boarding, fishing, scuba diving and quad biking. A visit to Kaya Mawa would not be complete without a walk to explore the island and visit the local cathedral, the market, the textile workshop and several of the community projects on the Island.
Overnight Kaya Mawa (BLD)


Day 7: Likoma Island, Malawi – Mahale Mountains, Tanzania
Early departure and fly to Mzuzu to clear customs out of Malawi. Enjoy beautiful flight along the western coastline of Lake Malawi before landing at Songwe in Southern Tanzania. After clearing customs enjoy flight heading north west along the shores of Lake Tanganika and into Mahale Mountains. Mbali Mbali Mahale Lodge sits on a stretch of secluded golden beach, deep in the heart of the African interior. With a dramatic mountain range rising up from behind and crystal clear waters of Lake Tanganyika in front of the lodge, this romantic getaway is the perfect blend of comfort and luxury.


The beautiful safari rooms furnished in imitation of the surrounding lakeside Villages, have been strategically placed at the edge of the cooling forest canopy of the Mahale Mountains National park. All rooms are under thatch on raised platforms and have a private deck providing views of Lake Tanganyika and the beach. The main deck is shaped like a dhow boat and contains the central dining and lounge facilities. All guest rooms are within easy walking distance along the beach to the main lounge and dining areas. Evening sundowner on the rocks of the headland, where drinks are served around the lamp-lit bar.


Flight time Likoma Island to Mzuzu int airport Approx 25 Mins
Flight time Mzuzu Int airport to Songwe Int Airport Approx 1 Hour 10 Mins
Flight time Songwe Int airport to Mahale Approx 2 Hours 10 Mins
Overnight Mbali Mbali Mahale Lodge (BLD)


Day 8: Mahale Mountains, Tanzania
Today’s the day to enjoy an exhilarating Chimpanzee Trek in the Mahale Mountains. After tracking them, for perhaps an hour or two, maybe more, only aware of the sounds they are making ahead, suddenly they are everywhere. Sit quietly on the forest floor and take a deep breath, this is what it’s all about. For the next hour it’s as if you scarcely breathe, so engrossed and privileged are you to be watching them go about their daily life. You become aware of the subtleties of different relationships, through gesture, sound and expression.
Overnight Mbali Mbali Mahale Lodge (BLD)


Day 9: Mahale Mountains, Tanzania – Maasai Mara, Kenya
Early start as you transfer to airstrip for flight to Mwanza on the shores of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake with a surface area of 68,800 square kms. Lake Victoria is also the source of the longest branch of the Nile River, the White Nile. Clear customs out of Mwanza and fly along the shores of lake Victoria, into Kisumu international airport in Kenya. After clearing customs enjoy short flight into Maasai Mara. Descend as you approach Masai Mara for a low level Scenic flight over the Mara Eco system, before landing at Cottar’s 1920s Camp airstrip. Arrive and transfer to camp in time for lunch. Enjoy an afternoon game drive followed by a bush sundowner looking out onto the plains of the Mara.


Flight time Mahale to Mwanza airport Approx 2 Hours
Flight time Mwanza Int airport to Kisumu Int airport Approx 1 Hour 15 Mins
Flight time Kisumu Int airport to Cottar’s Approx 45 Mins + 10 minutes additional Scenic flying
Overnight Cottar’s 1920’s Safari Camp (BLD)


Day 10, 11 and 12: Maasai Mara, Kenya
The award-winning Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp has its own 7608-acre private conservancy and is situated one kilometer from the famous ‘seventh’ natural wonder of the world, the Maasai Mara in Kenya and the Tanzania Serengeti game reserve. Owned and managed by the oldest established and continuing safari family in Africa it extends an era of luxury and quality and returns to the original spirit and essence of ‘safari’. Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp provides the romance of safari under cream canvas tents, the style of the bygone era of the twenties, while at the same time
supplying the amenities required by today’s modern world traveller’s and professional guides whose qualifications are the highest in Africa. Offering an abundance of wildlife, a guarantee of privacy, and the highest standards of professional guiding in a luxurious and authentic camping environment. During your stay at Cottars 1920’s Safari camp enjoy a host of amazing activities including day and night game drives, guided bush walks, bush meals, sundowners, cultural visits or just relax in camp enjoying the swimming pool or safari spa treatments.
Overnight Cottar’s 1920’s Safari Camp (BLD)


Day 13: Maasai Mara, Kenya – JKIA Nairobi Airport
After breakfast, fly to Lake Natron and Lake Magadi located in the heart of the Great Rift Valley. These two spectacular Soda lakes are home to large flocks of Flamingo’s. The minerals on these lakes combine to give the most amazing shapes and colors, making this one of Kenya’s most spectacular aerial Scenic flights available. Continue on to land at JKIA or Wilson Airport.


Flight time Cottars Airstrip – JKIA Nairobi
Approx 40 Minutes + 20 Minutes additional Scenic flying


Trip includes:
Safari in two Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft with total 8 Passengers, 1 guide and 1 pilot per aircraft.
All transfers throughout tour
Accommodation on fullboard at John’s Camp, Kaya Mawa, Mbali Mbali Mahale and Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp
All Park Entrance fees and Conservation fees throughout trip
House wines, beer and soft drinks at selected spirits at all properties
Activities available include 4×4 day and night game drives, guided bush walks and fishing
Activities available include snorkeling, walks, mountain bike rides, kayaks and sailing at Kaya Mawa Lodge
Activities available included 1 x chimp trek per full day, snorkeling, forest walks and boat trips at Mbali Mbali Mahale Lodge
Activities available include 4×4 day and night game drives, bush walks/runs, bush meals and sundowners, Cottars Warrior school at Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp
All Laundry (except underwear) throughout
All Tips to staff throughout tour
Airport Departure taxes when exiting various countries


Trip Excludes:
All international flights and visa fees where required
Premium brand drinks and champagne throughout trip
Cultural village entry fees at Cottars 1920’s Safari camp (US$ 20 per person per visit)
Scuba diving, wind surfing, skiing, wakeboarding, fishing and quad bike outings at Kaya Mawa
Night game drives at John’s Camp
Massage and Spa treatments at all properties
Scheduled flight into Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and scheduled flights back home from Nairobi airport at end
of the trip.


Ian Proctor
Ultimate Africa President
“I first visited Africa in the late 1980s. I came face to face with a wild elephant, and fell in love with being on safari! I made it my goal to create an African travel company that was all about authentic wildlife experiences. Many years later we are one of the top African travel companies in the Americas – known for arranging custom safaris to East and Southern Africa; personal trips, no cookie cutter stuff.”


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