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Kruger March 2022

We left Rhode Island USA for Johannesburg South Africa. The trip was a long 29 hours at that point and we were exhausted.

We arrived at the gate to Kruger National Park where we met Neil and Roan. We were off now on one of the greatest adventures I’ve had the pleasure to be on. We were a group of five and that worked out very well.

Neil was fantastic so knowledgeable and made the trip go by so much faster, too fast. This is truly the only way to go on a safari. Not a lot of people, your own chef, and the beauty of that wonderful country.

It took us 39 hours to get home and I was pretty beat also pretty sure I wasn’t going back. However, upon reflection I don’t think I can stay away.

If you are seriously thinking about going on one of these journeys this is the man you need to travel with.!

Jeffrey Jaques, US

My safari with Bearded Heron, March 2022

I’ve been blessed to travel the world but my experience with Neil Heron in the Kruger ranks right up there as one of the greatest adventures of my life. The man is so knowledgeable about the animals, birds, flora and the geography of the bushveld that I felt I was renewing my relationship with nature again.

When we observe the glorious elephant up close and personal and he describes what might take place due his keen insight or he reads the stoop and recognizes the tracts of a leopard nearby the excitement rises because we know we will witness something extraordinary. Because of his skillful expertise in bird life I was drawn in and became an an amateur birder myself.

 

The twinkle in his eye lets you know there is humor to be had and he doesn’t disappoint. He immediately became a friend.

If you ever want the ultimate Kruger experience book a safari with Tina at Bearded Heron Safaris. Neil’s passion for that environment is unquestionable. His dedication to its conservation is boundless. And his erudition of that wonderful national park is extensive.

Jim Jaques, US

Safe (now & later), Educational, FUN, Memories for a Lifetime, September 2021

Cannot think of a safer trip one might take in COVID times, given everyone has to be vaccinated, test negative coming & going, and then only being with our group and outside the entire time. Given it is "WILD life", felt safe the ENTIRE time due to Neil's extraordinaire knowledge in animal behavior and simply respecting that we were the visitors in their backyard. Given that anything can happen - such as Momma Elephant protecting her baby, it was extremely thrilling to have a front row seat (literally) every day for whatever might unfold.

 

Tina's customer service and communication on the front end for planning was exceptional given the logistics and it being such a unique trip.

 

With Neil, instead of "Dinner & a Show", it was "Daily Game Drives & a Show". I've never met someone who enjoys puns more, impersonating MANY and quite accurately, and constantly interspersing humor with information. He is a WEALTH of knowledge from tracking animals, reading foot prints, knowing every bird name and call and explaining behaviors.

 

Roan wears about ten different hats and is the sweetest and best assistant one will ever find.

 

There is no way to assign a favorite memory as every day there was something special and unique but some highlights: Baby (2 week old) Hippo, Mom moving her cubs (6-8 weeks); numerous animals nursing, elephant stampede and "spa" day, baboons playing tag in the tree and so much more.

Elisabeth Mullen, US

Vacation of a Lifetime!

Bearded Heron Safaris came very highly recommended to me. I was excited to be able to join a small group on an 11-day safari in Northern Kruger National Park this past September 2021. As my first safari ever, the daily game drives and learning about wild animal behavior as it unfolds before your eyes are indescribable thrills. Neil Heron's knowledge of the Kruger and its wild inhabitants is truly astounding.

 

Neil and Tina Heron and their team personally coordinated every tiny detail from COVID protocols to transport to accommodations to wonderful meals and an exciting itinerary through the Kruger. Bearded Heron Safaris exceeded all my expectations in every way. I look forward to signing up with this amazing company on another safari in the near future. Please contact them soon to learn more about your trip of a lifetime!

Molly Shreeve, US

Amazing safari - and it's super safe!

I went on Safari this September (2021) for Bearded Heron's first safari since the COVID pandemic. Wow! It was super safe, and, of course, an amazing safari experience.

 

Safety: Bearded Heron ensured that all personnel involved at a minimum had a negative COVID test (shuttle drivers, lodging proprietor, safari guide and assistant). In fact, the overwhelming majority were vaccinated. Bearded Heron coordinated the COVID tests required for our return flights to the United States. That could not have been easier! The nurse came to our lodging (Golfers Lodge) and we had the results in less than 2 hours. Yes, we all tested negative! While on safari, Bearded Heron kept us in our "bubble", and made sure that we wore masks the few times that we went into Rest Camp shops or otherwise were near people outside of our "bubble". I was 100% comfortable with Bearded Heron's safety protocols.

 

Safari: Neil and Roan are dedicated to the enjoyment of their guests. Neil's knowledge of the Kruger and its inhabitants (animals and plants) is nothing short of encyclopedic! The Kruger is a magical space, which Neil brings to life for his guests at every turn. Roan's guest service is second to none! He takes amazing care of each guest, from coordinating our luggage and accommodations, to accommodating each guest's needs. And then there are the meals. Wow! So good! If you haven't tried bobotie or poike, you are in for a treat! Did I forget to mention the animals? We saw a lioness with cubs, a newborn hippo, and over 100 species of birds. Oh, and then there were the elephants playing in the mud and water. What a joy!

 

If you are looking for an amazing safari experience in the rustic accommodations of the Kruger, look no further. Bearded Heron offers small group safaris with exceptional guest service. I highly recommend them!

Mike Barsky, US

 

Fun and safe 2021 safari in Kruger Park

Just returned from a fantastic 2 week safari with Beard Heron in Kruger Park. We are repeat customers and continue to be impressed with this company. We were very well taken care of in terms of ensuring the trip met strict health safety protocols, with our group of 5 being able to stay in a "bubble" that only widened to include a few additional people.

 

With everyone on our international flight from the US to Johannesburg COVID tested, and those few people we spent a significant amount of time with also COVID tested and/or vaccinated we felt no anxiety about making the trip. All of our accommodations/meals/game drives were limited to only our small "bubble."

 

Bearded Heron company took great effort on all of this, including making arrangements to allow us to easily get the required pre-flight testing done at our accommodations prior to our return home. The game drives were eventful - with it being spring time in the park we saw many babies, including a baby hippo that was only days old. On top of seeing so many animals, the sunrises and landscapes were also spectacular. We learned a ton from our guide Neil about the animal behaviors/interactions, the plants, the soil, the history.... Just can't say enough good things about our experience!

Lisa Barsky, US

Simply the best!

I can't imagine going to the Kruger without Neil Heron. He understands the environment as well as animal behavior, and is a virtual encyclopedia on all aspects of the bush. Neil knows where to go in the park for the best opportunities to see the wildlife. He explains what is going on and why the animals are behaving a particular way. One of my favorite's was seeing a giraffe appear to be eating a bone. Neil explained that the giraffe was sucking calcium out of the bone.

 

I've been to the Kruger twice now, mostly in the southern parts, both times with Neil. I can't wait for Neil to guide me on an adventure in the northern part of the Kruger. Fingers crossed for a tour with Neil Heron of Bearded Heron Safaris in 2021!

Mike Barsky, US, 2019

Neil is the greatest safari guide!

Neil’s safari was the best experience of my life!! His knowledge and passion for wildlife in South Africa is infectious to say the least. Between serene bird-watching rides and riveting lion/cheetah/rhino/elephant sightings, I felt safe and blessed to have Neil guiding us. When COVID settles down and we’re able to travel again, I will run back to SA and do another safari with Neil.

Julia Nicole, US

Once in a lifetime incredible experience

Such a spectacular experience with Neil that I loved so much I had to do it again! I am a repeat customer for life. Bearded Heron will give you the most intimate experience of any guide out there. The knowledge and professionalism his team possesses is next to none. It was truly one of those unforgettable moments and Bearded Heron is there best in the business.

Ryan Weimar, US

Absolutely Amazing Experience with this Safari Company

Absolutely amazing experiences with the Bearded Heron company and safari guide. To be able to view the animals in their natural habitat and simultaneously hear quiet explanations and predictions about their behavior from someone who has spent many years studying them in their natural environment - and then see those predictions play out is incredible!

 

I thought I would go once and scratch if off my bucket list, but the combination of seeing the animals and getting the educational/historical information real-time from the guide is what makes it such an unforgettable experience. So I've been 3 times now instead of just once and eager to go yet again. Each time has been unique and it's simply that incredible of an experience with this company. Although Tripadvisor will only allow a 5-star rating I give this them 100 stars.

Lisa Barsky, US; 2019

We have been on many safaris of differing levels of price and comfort in Southern Africa over the past 35 years, and Bearded Heron has been our favourite company in very many respects. Neil has an amazing knowledge of the habitat and wildlife, and the way the trips are set up using National Park lodges and guest houses means that you are always in the Park, and you are not paying for (unnecessary) luxury.

 

You do however have amazing meals prepared by Neil and his chef, plenty of wine and beer, very comfortable accommodation and great company. We have been twice, once for 5 days and the other for 15: our time in the north of the park was exceptional and I know we will be back - Tina and Neil, you have been warned!

-Alison Wood, UK, 2018

For a unique small group (or family) safari experience no one does it better than Bearded Heron Safaris. Our 3-generation family of 8 had the opportunity to observe the Kruger wildlife through Neil’s eyes and it was special for all of us. Neil’s knowledge, enthusiasm and love of all things Kruger is very inspiring. We took home a shared experience we will never forget. 
Thank you, Neil for sharing and Tina for making the arrangements. It was an unforgettable safari for all of us.

 

-Janna Smits, US, 2018

 

I have gone on two safaris with Bearded Heron, 2016 & 2018 and I cannot say enough about the experiences! I have left each time wanting to return.
Tina Heron, who you book with, is a great communicator! She promptly answered all questions and sent timely emails with information for the trip. She also connected us with agents in Cape Town and Victoria Falls so that we could make plans in those areas.
Neil Heron, our safari guide, is extremely knowledgeable in all things Kruger. If he, by slim chance, doesn’t have an answer, he does research to give accurate answers. His passion for the Kruger is contagious!
Neil also has camera experience which he gladly gives to clients to help optimize the quality of photos taken during the trip.
Alistair, Neil’s assistant, holds down the fort at camp. He makes sure we are comfortable, cooks like crazy, and is always courteous and kind.
What a great team!

 

-Cheryl Hackett, US, 2018

 

Best ever trip of our lives happened in May 2014 when we went on a 5 day safari with Bearded Heron to celebrate some life milestones. It was such an amazing experience we went back again in September 2017 and brought friends. Can't say enough good things about this company - from the extremely responsive interactions when booking (and getting answers to questions) to the daily trips with Neil (a walking encyclopaedia of animal and plant knowledge) and the in-the-bush setting of the accommodations and meals. If I could give it a 100 star rating instead of a 5 star rating I would! The pictures being posted are what you see, and never predictable depending on what nature decides to reveal that day. The experience changes the way you look at nature in a way that words can't describe. We are already talking about going back again - it's that amazing!

 

-Lisa Barsky, US, June 2018

Professional, knowledgeable, accommodating, exciting, and absolutely life changing.
The amount of animal encounters, experiences, food, drink, and friendly conversations are 100,000% worth every penny. 
Would do this again in a heartbeat, and I'll be back in two years’ time. 
Thank you for everything. 🇿🇦

 

-Kayla Easton, US, 2018

 

Wow! What a wonderful trip. Our two sons (ages11 and 8 at the time) had a blast. Three years later we are still talking about our adventures and wondering when we can go back. Neil and his team organized everything and geared it specifically to our interests. I highly recommend putting this trip on your bucket list.

 

-Sandra Juengel Linn, US, 2018

September of 2018 was my third trek in Kruger National Park with Neil Heron and Bearded Heron Safaris. I am still just as intoxicated by the beauty of the Kruger bush as I was on my first journey. Our safari started in the far north at Punda Maria. We ambled southward over the next fifteen days, stopping at Shingwedzi, Shimuwini, Satara, and Pretoriuskop, toward our final destination at Biyamiti Bush Camp.

This itinerary allowed us to experience the various changes in terrain and observe wild life behaviour in each sector. We saw abundant animals throughout the park. There are no cats in the north turned out to be a myth. We spotted leopard and lion on our first drive toward Pafuri and Crooks Corner. Waterholes and rivers were teeming with prey and predators.

Traveling with Neil, a truly unique experience, enables safari members ample time to really watch and learn about the behaviours and interactions of many species. Sitting at a waterhole observing for an hour or more is the norm not the exception. His agenda is the Kruger biosphere not ticking off the big five.

Photo opportunities are abundant. Neil is a recognized wildlife photographer. His ability to position the vehicle for the very best shot is uncanny. As the lioness moves forward in the brush, from his years of experience, he anticipates where she will reappear and his guests are ready with their cameras.

Comfortable accommodations are in the Kruger Rest Camps and Bush Camps. This trip we had the good fortune to stay in the guest houses at Satara and Pretoriuskop. Catering is exceptional with lamb shanks in port and traditional bobotie being two of the highlights for me.

If South Africa was closer, we would visit for at least a few days each year with Bearded Heron Safaris and our friend, Neil!

 

-Patty Flynn Sadtler, US, 2018

 

My friend and I did a 7-day safari at Kruger National Park with Bearded Heron Safaris in February. Amazing, is the only word I have to describe this incredible experience. Neil and Tina Heron, owners of this small safari business, are a fabulous team. From the time I made my first inquiry about their 7 day safari Tina was there to help with dates, options, and recommendations. She was great to work with and took all the worry out of planning this trip.
Once we arrived at Kruger Neil took over and the next 7 days, we spent being education, amazed, and awed. I have been on Safaris before but this one truly left me wanting more. Neil is so knowledgeable and passionate about the animals and their surroundings that it became infectious. I learned so much about these animals, their habits and survival, it a most gratifying education.
This all-inclusive safari used the National Park self-catering accommodation which were great, we had the best locations in the compound and our chef Alistair was fabulous. Our meals were spectacular, recipes were Neil’s, definitely need to get some of those recipes. Dinner was always a highlight as we spend the evening with our new friends who regaled us with stories and laughter. We would discuss our amazing day and ponder what tomorrow would bring.
Everyone should be lucky enough to get the opportunity to be humbled by this experience. I cannot provide a high enough rating for Bearded Heron, thank you Tina, Neil and Alistair for making this a trip of a lifetime. I hope to be back soon.

In a lifetime of purchases of everything from groceries to houses to vacations, my wife and I have never been received with greater value, nor found greater pleasure, than we did from signing up with Neil. In a lifetime of dealing with sophisticated professionals of every sort, we've never met a professional more knowledgeable -- or more caring and committed -- than Neil.

 

-Sheila Engel, US, May 2018

 

Neil Heron is an iconic figure in the Kruger world he so loves -- and is known and admired as such by its other guides and officials. But when crowds of Rovers are at a site Neil goes in the opposite direction, rightly confident of his ability to find sightings on his own which his deliberately small number of uncrowded and companionable guests can enjoy with privacy and in quiet awe. His knowledge of the "Big 5 species" is comprehensive, but so is knowledge of and ability to find and describe the Krueger's less appreciated species. Add to this is Neil's knowledge and love of the Krueger's birds -- enough to make his safaris memorable were he not to sight a single mammal or reptile. Years of guiding, of teaching guides and of spectacularly photographing the Kreuger's wildlife has taught Neil to get inside the heads of the living things he sights and of understanding and to amazingly predict what their next steps will be.

And, in the "back office" Tina is ever present and able to smooth the ways of Bearded Heron guests.

We are grateful and lucky that Bearded Heron Safaris provided us with the experience of a lifetime.

 

-Michael Horowitz, US, March/April 2019

 

I never imagined that my 5-star rating and writeup from October 2016 could ever be exceeded HOWEVER we returned to South Africa in September 2019 and travelled with Bearded Heron Safaris for a second time and I now must give them a 10 star rating (in truth it would be 100 stars!
Again, we worked with Tina during the planning stage, got perfect recommendations on the timing and logistics of flights. We arrived and met Neil and his assistant, Roan and off we went to explore the Kruger again. If you read through all the other comments, I cannot add any more superlatives to what has been said and what I wrote in 2016 regarding Neil’s knowledge, insight and love of The Kruger, the animals, the birds, the plants and trees.

I will add a few less frequently mentioned items. The team of Tina, Neil and Roan worked to create menus that were absolutely perfect and totally thoughtful for our diets.

We are pescatarians (eat fish, do not eat any meat or poultry) and using this knowledge as a base, they created unique, delicious, region specific meals. He has also provided custom meals for vegetarians, vegans and a wide variety of other dietary requests.

One night I looked up at the night sky and asked, “is that Orion?” and Neil launched into a very detailed lecture about the South African night sky and how it differs from the sky I would see on the east coast of the U.S.

Neil is also proactive in the areas of the environment, ecology and conservation and is willing to share his knowledge and actions he has personally taken in these areas to protect this wonderful area.

Neil is also a skilled photographer and can help you capture the perfect shot and memories of this trip of a lifetime.

Our accommodations were not luxurious but they were extremely comfortable and roomy with all the modern conveniences of home (in some cases better than home – my home and doesn’t have air conditioning but some of the units on safari did!) and they were all inside the park.

If you want to immerse yourself in the Kruger, understand how the animals think, absorb the issues and capture memories, Bearded Heron Safaris are the Kruger Park specialists that can make it happen.

 

-Fran Libasci, US, September 2019

 

Bearded Heron Safaris - Kruger Park Specialists - 10 Star Rating

This was our 2nd trip in 3 years with Bearded Heron Safaris. In 2016 we gave them a 5 star rating and feel it only appropriate to double that to a 10 star rating for our latest trip. Yes, they are that good!
We worked with Tina during the planning stage and received perfect recommendations on the timing and logistics of flights. We arrived and met Neil and his assistant, Roan and off we went to explore the Kruger again. Together the team did everything they could to make our dreams come true. Roan and Neil filled our stomachs with the most amazing bush meals and Neil filled our brains and senses with his knowledge, love and passion for the Kruger.
It's one thing to have a game drive where the driver and tracker tell you about what you are seeing. It's another thing to be on a game drive where your guide helps you think like the animals, to analyse the situation (what happened here, what’s going to happen here, what are our surroundings telling us?), to appreciate what the shake of a lion's mane means, and to immerse yourself in the real time environmental, ecological and conservation issues. Neil’s knowledge of the bush extends beyond the mammals to the birds, plants, grasses and trees.
The team of Tina, Neil and Roan worked to create menus that were absolutely perfect and totally thoughtful for our diets. We are pescatarians (eat fish, do not eat any meat or poultry) and using this knowledge as a base, they created unique, delicious, region specific meals. He has also provided custom meals for vegetarians, vegans and a wide variety of other dietary requests.
One night I looked up at the night sky and asked “is that Orion?” and Neil launched into a very detailed lecture about the South African night sky and how it differs from the sky I would see on the east coast of the US.
Neil is also proactive in the areas of the environment, ecology and conservation and is willing to share his knowledge and actions he has personally taken in these areas to protect the endangered animals in this wonderful area.
Neil is also a skilled photographer and can help you capture the perfect shot and memories of this trip of a lifetime.
Our accommodations were not luxurious but they always exceeded our expectations and were extremely comfortable and roomy with all the modern conveniences of home (in some cases better than home – my home and doesn’t have air conditioning but some of the units on safari did!) and they were all inside the park.
If you want to immerse yourself in the Kruger, understand how the animals think, absorb the issues and capture memories, Bearded Heron Safaris are the Kruger Park specialists that can make it happen.

 

-Tom, September 2019

Extaordinary trip with Bearded Heron Safaris

Just returned from a 10-day trip in Kruger National Park with Bearded Heron Safaris. It is no exaggeration to say that this was the most amazing and enjoyable experience of my life. Every day, Neil Heron gave me and my sisters and brother-in-law new adventures. From day 1, we saw the most amazing animals up close and personal. There's no guarantee as to what you will see, but we were fortunate to see so many beautiful creatures and birds. At night, we sat around the dining table exchanging experiences and listening to Neil reveal details of the things we'd seen each day. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience and his enthusiasm is so infectious. And speaking of dinner, we enjoyed wonderful meals prepared by Neil and his assistant Roan. The whole experience was wonderful and I highly recommend Bearded Heron Safaris.

-Deborah Milton, Canada, October 2019

 

Great experience with Bearded Heron Safaris

Second time using Bearded Heron, and Neil did not disappoint. Not only did we see a ton of animals, we got insights into animal behaviour, the way that various animals interact with each other, and how they migrate, hunt, play, survive and thrive in this particular ecosystem. If you want to just simply view animals, don’t use Neil; you can probably do this on your own. But if you want to really learn more in-depth about wildlife behaviour and why certain creatures are where they are and what they are doing and when, and how they depend upon or are threatened by other species (and by our own sometimes irresponsible human behaviour!), I highly recommend Bearded Heron. Great early morning drives, followed by hearty breakfasts, then another late morning drive; early afternoons off (in the heat of the day), and then more viewing in the late afternoon before relaxing evening dinners outside. Superb!

 

-Tom Witt, US, October 2019

 

Wonder and amazement - beautiful land, creatures, people

Sit back and be amazed. Viewing the land of Kruger National Park, its creatures, patterns, weather, behaviour is best done with Neil Heron of Bearded Heron Safaris. He knows not only where to go to find animals, birds, and creatures of all sorts, but he has extensive knowledge about everything in the Kruger environment. If you are able - go!

 

-Mary Preus, US, October 2019

 

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