Archive for the ‘John X Safaris Conservation Initiative’ Category


For six weeks long we have spent numerous days and countless hours trying to share the wonder and beauty of Africa. Trying to relay the feeling that stirs within when the dark continent creeps under your skin and into your soul. The onslaught on ones senses is like nowhere else on earth.

Even after all these years it seems the traveling abroad only gets longer and the longing for Africa greater. This year, like the many before, saw us once again embarked on our journey to secure the future and prosperity of Africa and her wildlife. The commitment from the American hunter is something that is spoken about often, but needs mentioning again. Without you and your support our wildlife would not enjoy the growth and security it has become accustomed to today. For that we are forever grateful. Thank you.

Record numbers were reached on the booking front this year. From Dallas to Las Vegas and the many stops in between – So many people to thank. So many to welcome on board as they look to embark on their first safari to Africa with John X Safaris. And of course, so many to be indebted to as they once again chose John X Safaris as their choice destination for 2017/18/19. The support, referrals, and recommendations from our returning hunters has left us astounded once again. It only drives us on to keep doing what we’ve been doing – ensuring our safaris are so much more than a hunt, but the complete African experience.


The acceptance and excitement around Woodlands Game Reserve, our new base and home, combined with our renowned Karoo concessions, has seen us return home even more invigorated than before. The experience of 34 years in the safari industry and knowing the commitment it takes to ensure you as individual will enjoy a world-class safari, is not merely a given, but our word. The success and enjoyment derived from being a part of your safari is something we as a team gain much enjoyment from. It’s something we’re proud of and something that goes far further than the hunt.



Our traditional season in South Africa will kick off in mid-April, at the completion of our new Colonial Safari Manor at Woodlands. This year will see hunters enjoy safari camps like no other, with our northern Karoo camp having enjoyed an upgrade too. While it had been dry for the most part of 2016, late summer rains have fallen across the majority of our areas, with the promise of more on the horizon each evening. The retention of our renowned coastal and Karoo plains game concessions, combined with Woodlands and the Big 5 dynamic that has added, will ensure our hunters enjoy arguably the finest hunting Southern Africa has to offer.

Between now and April we will be gearing up for the season ahead with scouting, building and planning being the focus in and around John X Safaris. There’s a lot to be done, but so much to look forward to.

Here’s hoping my team at home can get it done – As for me, I’m off to Cameroon to get our season off to a big start, and at the same time tick another adventure from my “half full” bucket list. It doesn’t get much bigger than a Lord Derby Eland for a hunter or for that matter, his Professional Hunter.


In closing I’d like to thank you once again for your American hospitality, your continued support, and your unrelenting trust in John X Safaris is something we’re extremely proud of as a team. Our appreciation is something that goes beyond words.

Thank you!

Catch you in Africa – Carl & Team

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook, subscribe to our YouTube Channel and visit our Website!

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Over the years I have been blessed to meet and hunt with some of the greatest outdoor enthusiasts of our day. May it have been a specialized safari in the mountains of the north for Vaal Rhebuck or a Blue Duiker in the forests of our coastal belt, or even a first timer safari with their children. I’ve enjoyed my fair share of sharing many a day out in the field with men and women who have represented our hunting ways and industry for numerous decades.


Some have joined on one hunt, while there have been others who came back a second time – Then there was Craig Boddington.

When Craig and I first met we were no more than strangers at a cocktail party in Dallas. A couple of months passed and soon we were exchanging emails and a couple of phone calls. Before we knew it Craig and his family were on safari with me and we found ourselves crouching down below a pile of rocks while glassing for a particular Kudu bull I’d scouted some weeks before.

There was a great bull feeding no more than 180 yards below our position, oblivious to our presence, but it was not the bull I was after. Craig gave me some time and when he saw I was ready to move on to continue my search for “the” bull he shuffled over to where I was positioned with my spotting scope. “Look Carl I know you’d like to get us this particular monster you’ve been seeing, but why don’t you keep it for one of your future clients, this bull right here is plenty good for us – lets take him.” And that’s where I realized there’s more to Craig Boddington than just a great writer, adventurer, hunter and explorer.

Since then we have shared many a camp fire in Africa and now for the first time, Craig and I would like to invite you to join us around our campfire this June. Craig will be hosting a group at John X Safaris in the East Cape, South Africa, from 16-24 June 2017.

Hunters interested in joining this group will enjoy both our coastal base, Woodlands Game reserve, as well as our northern areas in the Great Karoo. By combining the two areas, you as the hunter, will ultimately get to hunt three safaris in one, covering the forests and valley bushveld of the coastal belt, the plains of the Great Karoo, and the mountains of the north. In doing so you will enjoy the opportunity to hunt more than thirty species in their natural environment where they are naturally of better quality. The two areas camps are 3 hours apart, an easy transition on any particular hunting day, ensuring no hunting days are lost.

The all-inclusive 1×1 base cost, covering all day, service and trophy handling fees + taxes, for this hunt will be $3600.00. Over and above this fee only pay for trophies harvested/wounded. Feel free to hunt 2×1 or invite observers along. Why not make the most of our John X Safaris getting the youth hunting initiative – You buy the flight and we’ll comp the Jr hunters day fee, only pay for trophies harvested/wounded. Start them young and get them hunting!

If you would like to join Craig and myself in the East Cape between 16 – 24 June 2017 – Then drop us a line on hunting@johnxsafaris.co.za . We have 4-5 spots remaining. For further details on John X Safaris feel free to visit our website on www.johnxsafaris.co.za


We look forward to sharing a camp fire with you in Africa.

Yours in hunting,

Carl van Zyl & Craig Boddington

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook, subscribe to our YouTube Channel and visit our Website.

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As I started my final forward from Lalibela during late September, I found myself gazing out over the game rich plains deep in thought… the moment had finally come for us to say goodbye and close a chapter on twenty memorable years. I would be lying if I were to try to convince you that at that moment I was not feeling overly sentimental or emotional. Twenty years of dreaming, sacrifice, hard work, and achievement. It had been a journey like few.

If we were to rewind the clock by twenty years, to be more precise, October 1996, and I were to tell you about that first sunny afternoon on Hillside Farm, Sidbury, East Cape, South Africa, you would have been excused for being a pessimist like the many others. Rick and Sue van Zyl had just acquired the first property in what would become today’s world-renowned Lalibela Game Reserve, and the home of John X Safaris.

At first it was a meager colonial homestead turned into a “rustic camp” for the few loyal hunters, who unbeknownst to them were playing a major role in getting the dream of a wildlife reserve off to a slow, but gradual start. Soon the first lodge, Lentaba, was completed, giving our hunters a taste of what was to come. With the acquisition of more land and the re-introduction of 22 game species and the first White Rhino, things started coming together nicely.

With 20 000 acres, a lodge, one of the Big 5, over 3000 head of game, and an eager team we set off to launch Lalibela to tourists in the summer of 2002. The concept was a brilliant one; our hunters would occupy and utilize the winter hunting months, while the tourists would take up the summer months, when hunters preferred to stay home for their traditional northern hemisphere hunting season.

By 2003 a second lodge, Mark’s Camp, was completed, the very year both Elephant and Cape Buffalo, joined the White Rhino as members of the Big 5, once again roaming free where they had not set foot for over a hundred years. A masterstroke in developments it turned out to be, with the reserve taking an even bigger step with the introduction of free roaming Lion, Leopard, and Cheetah in the early part of 2004. With the addition of a further 10 000 acres and completion of our flagship lodge, Treetops Luxurious Tented Camp, a first of its kind, during September that same year, Lalibela had established itself and was now a successful brand in both the hunting and tourist industries respectively.

Throughout the years and the numerous developments we have been privileged to have grown as a family, calling a place such as Lalibela, home. It is something that we have not taken lightly in our responsibility to the land, wildlife, our people, hospitality, and business. Your support and safari contributions have allowed us to build and live an extraordinary life – one we could not have been a part of without each and every one of you – after all, Lalibela only became a reality because of you and your commitment to conservation through hunting. It has been a journey we are immensely proud of and an achievement of a goal reached through untold sacrifice and hard work.

With that said we had reached for the stars and fallen amongst them, but something was lacking, it was time to move on… time to let go of the familiarity. It was time to go back to the beginning, to our people, to John X Safaris and the most enjoyable years of our lives.

New Beginnings – Woodlands Game Reserve

“And suddenly you just know… it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings…”

Woodlands Game Reserve – 30 000 Acres, big 5, plains game, over 2500 head of game, 20 + species, rifle, archery, wing shooting, and a brand new colonial safari lodge opening in March 2017 + the very same trusted team – Dedicated to hunters and hunting only. 

We will still be offering our multi-area option safaris in both the coastal and northern Karoo regions, like we’ve been doing for the past 33 years, with Woodlands becoming our coastal base. Those hunters who have booked safaris can rest assured that Woodlands will be everything and more of what Lalibela could have ever offered as a destination.

We have found our new home. It’s a hidden gem like no other, and you’re invited to join us on your next safari as we turn the industry on its head and launch the greatest hunting destination the East Cape has ever seen.

Until your next safari – We thank you for being a part of the Safari World of John X Safaris during the past year and the many before. It has been a privilege hosting and having you on safari. Your support and friendship means the world to us. A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Carl & Family

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook, subscribe to our YouTube Channel and visit our Website!

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Most of you will recall the stories and daily diary entries of Paul Brisso and Professional Hunter, Carl van Zyl, on their recent hunt to Mozambique during  September this year. A hunt like no other and an adventure that one could only dream about. From close calls with Buffalo in the swamps to Chobe Bushbuck on the pans, countless Red Duiker and Livingstone Suni in the forest, to hundreds of Reedbuck on the floodplain. That was our adventure.

But like most things in life, even in paradise things are not always as rosy as they seem…

“Day 9 – September 18 – A sad day….”

“Yes, today was a sad day. We had hunted so hard for a good Sable. Our efforts had come up short on numerous occasions, but we continued on knowing our luck would turn sooner rather than later. It had to come.

When it came, it came with anger, disappointment, and a sense of loss. It sucked every emotion out of the entire team. Hollowness engulfed us as we watched the magnificence of such a majestic animal ……so helpless.

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He didn’t deserve this. To be caught in a poachers gin trap.  He had given so much more to the world he lived in, his mere existence was more than we could have asked for. Hunters had ensured the sustainability of him and his kind, poachers had robbed both us and him of a fair contest.”

At the time of the hunt serious discussions and planning was taking place from the depths of the Zambezi Delta to the furthermost corners of the world, and by the time we publishing the above story, we had made a commitment to Mark Haldane and his anti-poaching team fighting the daily battle in Coutada 11, Mozambique.

Since then we’ve been extremely busy. An eager team led by Mark Haldane, and the support of many around him, have succeeded in launching arguable the greatest private anti-poaching drive in the history of Mozambique. This fundraiser promises to be something worth following – history is in the making.

Auction items include rifles by Blaser and Craig Boddington’s Ruger Number One .450/.400-3″, taxidermy, shipping, and video donations. Hunts ranging from a 10 Day Buffalo Hunt in the Zambezi Delta, an Australian Javan Rusa Deer hunt, a White Tail hunt guided by Craig Boddington in Kansas, and of course as promised, John X Safaris has come on board, donating a specialized East Cape plains game hunt. Then there’s also a fishing trip to Costa Rica, and of course a couple of fun dinner date donations too.

We urge you to come onboard and join the cause. Stand up as hunters and be counted!

For those who have never experienced the Zambezi Delta, and those that want to be a part of this amazing initiative, watch the below message from Mark…..

And hit the link to support the drive http://antipoaching.zambezedeltasafaris.com/

It’s a cause well worth supporting and one we hold close to the heart.

For more information on our hunts and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook and visit our website!

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Serval 1

There’s a hive of activity this morning, excitement fills the air with the familiar sound of our teams rushing around putting final preparations in place before the BIG arrival.

The big arrival of WHAT or WHOM you may ask?

Today marks the arrival of a BIG idea that started off as a brief conversation more than 2 years ago. A dream has come together through endless effort, perseverance, and the generous support of our hunters – yes, without the following people we would not have reached this point. A special mention and word of thanks goes out to:

  • Eric, Kristie, Hunter & Kasey Arnette
  • Bertil Friman
  • Benny Fredrickson
  • Uno Kristianson
  • Thomas Nyden
  • Bjorn Hagman
  • Martin Osthulm
  • Brett Nelson
  • Jeff Edland
  • Chad Badger
  • Dennis & Nan Robberg
  • Brian Nelson
  • Joe Kapaun
  • Brian Gebeke

Never did I imagine that a simple passing comment to our head ranger, Kelly Pote, would see the realization of a project of this magnitude.

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Kelly is no ordinary individual. Passionate best describes Kelly when it comes to her love for Lalibela, and her day-to-day running of the wildlife on the reserve. For those who’ve had the privilege of meeting her will vouch for her passion and what she’s about – more importantly, they’ll tell you how persistent and dedicated she can be when she sets her heart on something as important as wildlife.

It was with this in mind and the funding of John X Safaris hunters that we’re proud to announce the BIG arrival of our first breeding pair of Serval and the launch of “The Small Cats Conservation Project.”

The original idea of the program was to breed small cats in captivity, keeping them in an as wild a state as possible, and then releasing their off spring back onto the reserve. With their off spring we’re hoping to boost and fast track the current free roaming populations that were eradicated in the days of small stock farming, and to diversify the current blood lines on the reserve and conserve the species for future generations.

Over the past few months our teams have had their hands full preparing for the arrival of our first Serval. After a great deal of planning and sourcing of Serval, we managed to locate two breeding pairs to kick off the project. We then took the necessary steps and built adequate enclosures where the cats will be housed whilst breeding.

Each enclosure has a feeding point through which live prey will be released in order for the Serval to hunt and kill naturally.  As an additional food source we have constructed a small pond in each enclosure that will be stocked with small fish, one of the Servals’ favorite food sources. These ponds, as well as built-in bird feeders will attract a variety of bird species which make up a large portion of a Servals diet.   The enclosure will furthermore be home to a natural food source such as rodents, small reptiles, and arthropods.

What a day it turned out to be!

The immediate goal of our project is to see our Serval breeding successfully, and then when the young have been weaned, to see them released onto the reserve, to further reproduce in their natural habitat. At that point we would consider collaring a number of young female Serval in order to track and observe their movements and monitor their success and survival rate, as they will have to endure competition in the midst of other predators. Collars would additionally give us insight to their birth rate, as well as enable us to learn more about their social structure and general habits in their natural environment.

serval 1

Anyone interested in getting on board and funding the first collar/s or being involved in the next step of the project with the introduction of the first Black Footed and African Wild Cat to our Small Cats Conservation Project,  feel free to contact us on hunting@johnxsafaris.co.za Any funding will be greatly appreciated, with donors being recognized on a formal “Honoury Donors” board at the small cats enclosures. Companies feel free to contact us regards corporate sponsorship.

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook and visit our Website!

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