Archive for the ‘Touring – Freewalker Tours’ 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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If you thought 2014 couldn’t get any better, then don’t feel alone, I was sitting on the banks of the Zambezi River a mere three weeks ago counting my blessings and wondering how the remainder of the season would pan out? I’ll be honest, at that moment I was sipping a cold locally brewed Mozambican 2M with my good friend Jeff Edland, savoring the success of the days hunt. At our feet lay a known man-eater, at 14 foot in length and more than a meter at the belly, one could understand the fear the locals had for this Crocodile.

It had not been an easy hunt, the wind wasn’t perfect and the day had been long. Numerous Crocs had been seen, two of them meeting the requirements we were after, but nothing had come from endless patience. We had given up, called it a day, and then no more than a mile from our landing site there he was. Jeff made another telling shot – this time at 70 yards off sticks – and if you’re thinking what’s the big fuss at 70 yards? Go try hitting the centre out of an Oreo cookie at 70 yards without a dead rest. It’s tough!

It had not been an easy hunt, the wind wasn’t perfect and the day had been long. Numerous Crocs had been seen, two of them meeting the requirements we were after, but nothing had come from endless patience. We had given up, called it a day, and then no more than a mile from our landing site there he was. Jeff made another telling shot – this time at 70 yards off sticks – and if you’re thinking what’s the big fuss at 70 yards? Go try hitting the centre out of a Oreo cookie at 70 yards without a dead rest. It’s tough!

Jeff not only enjoyed success on a huge Crocodile, but a first night Leopard over hounds had set our safari off on the right foot. Our hounds man Coenraad had expressed his concern over rain that was expected later that week, and he wanted to give it a go on that very first night. We trusted our man on the ground and within hours had a big tom treed.

To say that it was a relief would have been an understatement! Forget the success rate ratios - As described to me by a friend of mine, the famous Zimbabwean Leopard hunter, Lou Halimore, " It's a 50/50 - Either get one or you don't!" We had ours! And at that a beauty!

To say that it was a relief would have been an understatement! Forget the success rate ratios – As described to me by a friend of mine, the famous Zimbabwean Leopard hunter, Lou Hallamore, ” It’s a 50/50 – Either you get one or you don’t.” We had ours – And at that a beauty!

And that’s the way our Mozambican hunt went… The trophies speak for themselves and the adventure enjoyed with our old friends and hosts, Poen and Zandre, was a treat and as good as ever. Poen, together with our local trackers, Gotchi and Albieno, have become an extension of John X Safaris in Mozambique. Seldom does a day pass without unexpected adventure, with the quality of the hunting a given…

Back south in South Africa, we welcomed Steve and Charlene Galas, as well as the father/son duo of Dan and Jake Tomcheck. For both parties it was to be their first hunt with John X Safaris, enjoying both our coastal and northern Karoo areas.

Steve and Charlene teamed up with Professional Hunter, Ross Hoole, hunting a variety of plains game. An outstanding Gemsbuck and Kudu hunt was some of Steve’s favorites, but a certain highlight for us was Steve’s Waterbuck. From time to time one stumbles upon an interesting trophy, one that sees one becoming addicted in its pursuit.

For Steve and Ross it turned out to be a superb Waterbuck, the only catch, this bull had broken its right horns’ tip during the course of their hunt. It was now more than “just” the hunt, there was a story… In the end they did get him, and while many would wonder about their quest in turning down so many good bulls to hunt this particular bull, I and others who knew what they were after could appreciate their dedication. He may have had a broken tip, but the broken horn still tipped off at 27”, while the other 32”. A trophy of a lifetime in my eyes, and story to go with it.

For Dan and Jake Tomcheck, joining Professional Hunter, Greg Hayes, it was to be a truly special safari. Since the start of our father/son hunts we’ve been overwhelmed by the response of so many of you. But the added bonus that was not expected has been the reward of seeing fathers and sons spending quality time together, and ultimately rekindling relationships and family bonds without external distractions.

The hunting proved to be a treat under the guidance of Greg and tracker, Bless. From the coastal forests, to the plains of the Karoo, and finally up onto the mountains in the north…

With early July rolling on it was time to welcome our extended family from Reno, Nevada. Over the years we at John X Safaris have been privileged to host many hunters from around the world, some come on that once in a lifetime safari, others a couple more times, then there are those who form part of the family, coming every other year. They bring their kids, their friends, and families – ultimately bringing them home to Africa as often as they can.

One such family is the Robinson family. Steve had first joined us on safari with our good friend, Rich Adams, many years ago and since has shared a number of memorable safaris with us. Since that first hunt, Steve has introduced his wife, Linda, as well as kids, Ashley, Hunter, and Kaley, to African safaris. Our families have grown together, enjoying many trips throughout southern Africa.

This year proved to be one of our most enjoyable safaris to date. Together with the Robinson’s, we welcomed the Pitts and Tripp families. The plan was for the entire group to spend four days at Lalibela, and then the girls would head down to Cape Town with Trish, while the boys headed to the Karoo for some more hunting. From there we would all meet for the last two days of our safari down in Knysna on the Garden Route.

An action packed safari it proved to be with a number of record-breaking trophies hitting the salt. A 55 3/8’’ East Cape Kudu for Bo Tripp was the trophy of a lifetime, not to mention an awesome Klipspringer and Waterbuck with the family. Arnie and Hunter Pitts made for quality entertainment with some trick shooting, with humor like no other. My team of Steve and Hunter were as solid as ever, with Steve hunting a magnificent Kalahari Springbuck of 17’’, while Hunter stole the limelight with an epic old Bushpig we’d been after for quite some time.


While the “seasoned” hunters may have dominated the hunting in numbers, it was the junior hunters whom most impressed us. Two very special young ladies reminded us what it was all about and why we enjoy our passion for hunting. To Kaley Robinson and Abie Tripp – Congratulations on some exceptional shooting and a great bunch of trophies!

Meanwhile down in Cape Town the girls were warming up to their new-found slogan of “Living on the Edge”…. Yes folks adventure sport junkies to say the least! From the V&A Waterfront to the Nelson Mandela Apartheid Museum, Cape Point to Table Mountain and Paragliding off Lions Head, to Great White Shark cage diving. That and so much more…

All in all it proved to be a mammoth safari to say the least. The combination of hunting, Big 5 photographic safaris, and the Garden Route to Cape Town sight-seeing tour, provided for first class vacationing. The fun and games never stopped from the minute the group arrived to the day they left.

As mid July rolled along we welcomed our partners from Blaser, Marc Hillerman, and hunter, Jan Bredensen. They joined Professional Hunter, Ross Hoole, for a week of mountain hunting. Over the course of the week the guys hunted hard, enjoying long hikes with hours of glassing, hoping to find what they were after.

During their quest they hunted a variety of species including a Caracal with hounds, Blesbuck and Common Duiker, but their mountain species is what they had come for, and wow were they impressive…

A 9 3/8’’ Vaal Rhebuck...

A 9 3/8’’ Vaal Rhebuck…

A 7 4/8’’ Mountain Reedbuck...

A 7 4/8’’ Mountain Reedbuck…

And 4’’ Klipspringer.

And 4’’ Klipspringer.

Eat your hearts out all you mountain dwellers! These three would be the pride of any mountain hunters’ trophy room.

I’m still in awe at a number of trophies from the past three weeks. As I said before, who would have thought it could get any better, considering the season we’ve had to date, but our areas keep producing the goods and the teams on the ground keep providing world-class experiences.

As I sign off this month’s report, we find ourselves spread across the Eastern Cape. In the north we have our old friend Mike Grier, together with Tom Lincoln and Tyler Geer, back on his third hunt with John X Safaris, while Jose, Trish, and I, are giving back to the industry with our annual PHASA donated hunt. We’re looking forward to a busy period running into early August before we set sail to Mozambique once again.

Until next month – Enjoy the outdoors and do so responsibly.

Until next month – Enjoy the outdoors and do so responsibly.

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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After an early start to the season, with hunts during January and February, March saw the traditional start of our season in the East Cape. The bar had been set high during those first two months of the year, with record-breaking trophies dominating a number of fabulous experiences.


As March rolled by we were caught in the grips of a heat wave to be followed by a couple of wet weeks as the last summer rains affected a number of our hunts. Our hunters were however not complaining as daily showers gave some rest bite from the hot summer days.

As is the norm during the early season when the days are longer and hotter, and the nights shorter, one has to wake much earlier each day, as to reach the desired areas to make the most of the cool early mornings and late afternoons. By 9am each morning most of your bush-dwellers would disappear until late afternoon, with only plains dwelling game being an option during the hot hours of the day.

It may have been the heat, combined with timely showers of cool rain that saw our hunters excel out in the field, or simply the fact that most of the areas had not been hunted since September/October last year, but whatever the variants, the results speak for themselves.


Not only were exceptional trophies hunted, but more so was the pleasing sight of smiles around the bar in the evening with the story of the hunt far outweighing any trophy taken on a particular day. It has been our goal at John X Safaris over the course of the past five years to maintain an above average trophy quality, but as importantly to create the experience that sees our hunters relaying stories of their adventures for many years to come. It is after all in the experience where memories are made.

Eric, Kristie, Hunter, and Kasey Arnette, were the first arrivals of March. They joined Professional Hunters, Carl van Zyl and Greg Hayes, as they returned on their third trip back at John X Safaris. Eric had hunted a number of species in the East Cape on previous hunts, but had started a new-found addiction for the Tiny 10.

For Hunter, as per usual with this remarkable young man, the choices are never straight forward when it comes to his specie selections, and the strangest game always interests him. For Kristie it was to be a special trip, she had for long expressed an interest in hunting an old Giraffe bull, and for the most we were focused on achieving just that. Kasey came along for the adventure, always proving to be a bundle of fun with a smile never far below the surface.

As is the case with many of our returning hunters, the safari deviated from the beaten track and followed an interesting course of its own into new and unchartered territory along the Wild Coast. Greg had headed up the scouting in the off-season, to be joined by Carl and Trish a couple of days prior to the hunt.

The area proved to be breath-taking, the game we hunted and spotted was of exceptional quality, but more than anything – the characters we met have been etched into our memories forever! Thanks Cecil for all the great laughs each day!

From the Wild Coast we once again returned to the Karoo – a family favorite from past safaris. It was here that Hunter got the opportunity on his long-awaited Kudu, and Eric impressed with some impressive mountain scrambling for his Klipspringer. It’s not often that one attempts a Klipspringer after five in the afternoon – if ever someone could do it, it would be Eric. A great ram and even better hunt!

Leaving the Karoo with what we came for we headed back south to Lalibela. The remainder of our trip would be split in two with a couple of days hunting, combined with a final weekend down on the beach at Kenton-on-Sea. Hunter finally got his number one priority – an Ostrich, while Eric continued on his quest for the Tiny 10 with a super Blue Duiker.



While the boys might have been dominating in numbers, it was Kristie who came in with quantity. A Giraffe had been our priority – and what a beauty it turned out to be!

Our last few days with the Arnette’s was spent at the beach enjoying a relaxing end to our hunt. It had once again been a great adventure with close friends enjoying the privilege of having our kids spend time together on vacation.

Mid-March saw the Arnette’s heading back to Texas, and the rest of us starting off on safari down in the Cape with the arrival of the Skelly’s, Matson’s, and Kruvant’s. The group arrived in Cape Town, where they were met by Freewalker Luxury Tours, guided by owner/operator, Murray Luscombe.

From the slopes of Table Mountain, to the heart of the wine country, and along the Garden Route to Port Elizabeth – All this and more made for one fun tour. No stone was left unturned or pit-stop missed as the group meandered along down the coast. The food was superb, the scenery a treat and the wine plentiful – what more could one ask for on vacation?


With a week of touring and R&R behind them the group settled into the next leg of their safari – hunting started in earnest, and the photographers made the best of some great photographic opportunities.

For Paul and Melissa Matson, and Professional Hunter, Greg Hayes, the safari that had started out so well only kept getting better. A number of great trophies, including Blesbuck, Impala, Springbuck, Bushbuck, and Gemsbuck, were taken, but nothing could prepare them for their spiral festival. The quality of both their East Cape Kudu, and Nyala, was some of the best to date this season – with our personal favorite being Paul’s massive Kudu.


Paul’s magnificent Nyala hunted in pristine habitat along the coast.


The Kudu that had heads turning - what a beauty!

The Kudu that had heads turning – what a beauty!

Robert Kruvant, together with Professional Hunter, Ross “Stix” Hoole, had set their sights on an East Cape Kudu, with anything extra being an unexpected bonus. They worked hard for their bull, coming up close on two prior occasions, finally getting the right opportunity to make a telling shot. An Impala too crossed their path before the end of their hunt, but not before Robert’s wife, Melinda, had joined the men for a day out in the field – the scenery proved to be spectacular.

For Tom and Dianne Skelly, their safari turned out to be harder than most. Having arrived in Cape Town and enjoyed two days of touring, they received the sad news of the passing of Tom’s mother. They dully returned to the US to be with family and friends, only to return the following week to join the rest of their friends in Africa. They were lucky enough to reschedule their flights and make it back prior to the entire group completing their safari, thereby spending time together on their long-awaited African hunt.

Our condolences once again goes out to the entire Skelly family – To Tom and Dianne, we hope we turned a period of mourning into a comfortable one through the experiences created at John X Safaris. We enjoyed having you and hope you enjoyed your hunt – from what we could gather you sure did enjoy your stay.

To Robert, Tom, and Paul – Congratulations on a fine selection of trophies. You all worked hard and deserved every inch of success you achieved. Melissa, Melinda, and Dianne, the adventurous traveling spirits – It’s not often that three ladies take on Cape Town, Lalibela, and Victoria Falls on the same safari. We bet you had a blast! It was great having you, we can’t wait for 2016!

Currently we’re on the back-end of a number of safaris, enjoying a memorable “Reunion Hunt” with some old friends from 2001, as well as having the Stark’s and Penney’s out on their first hunt with John X Safaris. Later in the week sees the arrival of the Nelsen brother’s and Schneider’s, as they too join us for their first African experience.

Until next time – Keep hunting, and we’ll keep doing what we do best…

Creating world-class experiences with a lot of fun along the way!

Creating world-class experiences with a lot of fun along the way!

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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2011 saw Mike and Sylvia Verlander join John X Safaris in the East Cape, South Africa, once again. The Verlander’s together with family and friends first embarked on a hunt to Mozambique with Zambeze Delta Safaris before heading down south.

Mike could be considered a local in Mozambique with the amount of time he spends hunting in the Zambezi Delta each year. Another great Sable to add to his growing collection.

Having completed the first leg of their African trip, Mike and Sylvia said their farewells to all at Johannesburg International, and then headed for Port Elizabeth.

Professional Hunter, Carl van Zijl, would be guiding the Verlander’s on their hunt for a variety of Springbuck and a few outstanding species in Mike’s Tiny 10 collection.

Sylvia joined us that first morning on the hunt for Caracal. Mike’s luck had provided a beast of a tom during 2010, 2011 produced a good female, giving Mike the opportunity to display both male and female cats in his trophy room.

For the remainder of the afternoon the hunters prepared for their night hunt. Mike enjoyed predator calling and we decided to invite two friends of ours who shared the same passion. Piere and Shane tried with all their might, calling to the early hours of the following morning, without any luck. The evening was a windy one and the only real comeback was a group of Spotted Hyena who let us know that their reply was a lot louder than ours. The weary Black Back Jackal never showed themselves.

The evening was finally topped off by a monster Common Duiker, a just reward for a hard-earned night hunt.

Early the following morning we headed out on the hunt for Klipspringer.

We spotted a good male early on in the day. The terrain was difficult, but we took our time and finally got into position at about 10 am. The shot was a long one, 280 yards, and the target a small one. Mike steadied himself onto the sticks and squeezed off his round. At the crack of the shot we could clearly see the familiar tuft of hair fly from the Klipspringer. He dropped out of sight over a small ledge, he was hit.

For the remainder of the day we searched high and low, finding the occasional drop of blood. The Jack Russel terriers gave it all they had, but the setting sun finally forced us away from the valley, the loss of Mike’s Klipspringer was a reality. To say the least, we felt gutted.

Day 3 saw us rise bright and early; we were heading into the interior for White and Copper Springbuck.

A beautiful White Springbuck was exactly what we needed to get the hunt back on track.

We dropped off Boy to skin Mike’s White Springbuck and headed out once again. The Copper Springbuck is without a doubt the rarest of the four available color variations in the Springbuck slam. This Springbuck came about naturally when Black and Common Springbuck started interbreeding in the same area. Today numbers are growing slowly, with John X Safaris enjoying sole rights to some of the best herds in South Africa. Those who’ve hunted Black Springbuck before will know that they are the most skittish of the lot. Always on the watch for danger with a certain ability to keep the distance between you and them at more than 500 yards. The Copper Springbuck it seems has inherited the same trait.

Mike worked hard and finally got his ram late that afternoon, pulling off one of the best shots of the season.

With relief we made our way back towards the skinning shed, Mike had hunted all he was after, and the following day would see Sylvia in charge. They were heading down the Garden Route to Cape Town with Freewalker Tours. As we were leaving the area we noticed a red spot in the distance. A closer inspection revealed a Steenbuck, I grabbed Mike and made a dash for it. As we neared the feeding ram I suddenly realized I hadn’t even checked if Mike had hunted a Steenbuck before. Either way, it was too late now, this was a big ram and Mike would never live it down if he passed up such a golden opportunity.

Thank goodness he never even questioned me! A magnificent Steenbuck it turned out to be.

That evening we enjoyed our last dinner together, sharing the many stories of days gone by. Sylvia had seen so much on game drive and Mike and I had enjoyed another fantastic hunt together.  

Day four saw the Verlander’s touring the Garden Route with Sylvia most DEFINITLY in charge…..

Enjoying the Oyster & Champagne sundowner cruise in Knysna.

Cruising through the forest canopy in Tsikama…

And Mike earned a T-Shirt too!

Then it was off to the Cape, Cape Point, the southernmost tip of Africa, before heading back home.

Mike and Sylvia, it was pleasure having you once again. The early mornings on the road listening to Mike share his vast knowledge and experience, coupled with Sylvia’s fun-filled personality was a certain highlight of our safari.

Who knows where our next adventure will lead us? Hopefully our good friend Mark Haldane will join us on another memorable trip.

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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