Mana Pools in Zimbabwe is possibly the most magical African safari destination. The majestic Zambezi River within a stunning landscape and cathedral like forests creates a dream safari destination.
There many good reasons to visit this top rated safari destination and some of the main reasons are listed below:
1. Mana Pools National Park is synonymous with the Zambezi River, elephants, lions, remoteness and safari wilderness. This unique park is a WORLD HERITAGE SITE, based on its wildness and beauty, together with the wide range of large mammals, over 350 bird species and aquatic wildlife. Mana Pools is one of Zimbabwe's most popular safari parks.
2. Mana Pools is the only game park in Zimbabwe to be granted World Heritage Status and encompasses some of Africa’s largest areas of Acacia and Mahogany woodland, combined with spectacular, full-canopy Mopane forest. Mana Pools is part of a 300 million year old rift valley supporting a large variety of mammals and over 400 bird species.
3. Mana Pools is 2,196 square kilometres in extent, runs along 80km of the Zambezi River, but is part of the 10,500 square kilometre Parks and Wildlife Estate that runs from the Kariba Dam in the west to the Mozambique border in the east.
4. This large protected wildlife area is without physical boundaries and the wildlife is free to move throughout the area - even northwards across the Zambezi River into Zambia, where there are also large wilderness areas set aside for wildlife conservation.
5. This national park has been set aside to be kept as wild as possible with only non-invasive, zero-impact tourism allowed. There are no safari lodges, generators, electric fences or other structures associated with safari camps as these are banned by law. All mobile camps must be taken down the day our clients depart to ensure minimal damage to the ecosystem.
The four large pools, the Zambezi River carved out thousands of years ago, gave the area the name “Mana Pools”, meaning 4 pools, a simple name standing symbol for magnificent African safari experiences.
Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa Source: safari destinations, image: wilderness safaris
South Luangwa National Park in the eastern part of Zambia, is one of the best African safari destinations and renowned for its abundance of wildlife and excellent light for wildlife photography.
The Luangwa river is the most intact major river system in Africa and is the life blood of the parks 9 050 square kilometers. The park hosts a wide variety of wildlife, birds and vegetation. The now famous “walking safari” originated in this park and is still one of the finest ways to experience this pristine wilderness first hand.
There are 60 different animal species and 400 different bird species. One special being the Thornycroft Giraffe, found only in the Luangwa Valley. Some magnificent trees grow in the Valley among the more common are the mopane, leadwood, winterthorn, baobab, large ebony forests, vegetable ivory palm, marula and the tamarind tree.
The changing seasons add to the parks richness ranging from dry, bare bushveld in the winter to a lush green wonderland in the summer months. The dry season begins in April and intensifies through October, the hottest month when game concentrations are at its height. Warm sunny days and chilly nights typify the dry winter months May to August. The wet season’s begin is November, as the leaves turn green and the dry terrain becomes a lush jungle. The rainy season last up until the end of March when the migrant birds arrive in there droves. The lodges in South Luangwa stay open as long as access is possible depending on their location. The lodges and camps in the valley all offer game drives and walking safaris.
South Luangwa is very attractive during the winter months and the summer months, allowing at both times excellent safari experiences, yet in very different ways. For photography enthusiasts it might be the hardest decision to make, as both times are great for wildlife photography on African safari, yet the rich green of the summer months might make the better background. Visiting winter and summer might be the best solution to experience it all.
Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa Source: safari destinations, image: kapani lodge
Booking an African safari holiday comes with excitement about the safari destination, the Big Five, one wish to spot, the choice of the game reserve and the time of the year for the right weather and best wildlife sightings. During this process questions will be asked about the number of persons travelling, the available budget and more of this kind. When finally the booking is made, some more information is requested and for a good reason.
Travelling comes always with some risk and travelling to the African bush adds the adventures of the wild. Although professional rangers/guides and lodge staff will look you after, nature can have its surprises. Extreme rainfall can cause floods or in the dry season a bush fire can occur. As said, the professionals will look after you, but there is always a rest risk of the unforeseen.
Besides nature’s moods, you could fall ill during a safari or do a misstep and twist your foot. These things can also happen while you are at home, but there medical aid is in general right at hand. When being at a private camp on a high ranked safari destination like the Okavango Delta, medical aid is not in direct reach. A light aircraft transport will be necessary to get you to a hospital. This is also quick, but costs a bit.
In order to assist you best in case of an emergency, some essential information is needed:
1. Your passport details for registration with medical/evacuation services. 2. Your travel insurance name and number to cover the costs of medical aid and possible evacuation/repatriation. 3. Your health insurance name and number. 4. Information on possible medical conditions the operator should be aware of. 5. Information on possible allergies and dietary requirements. 6. The name and phone number of a person to be contacted in case of an emergency. 7. Your cell number for operational emergencies like changed transfer/flight times or similar.
By providing this information, safari ground handlers and lodge staff can efficiently and quick help and organize whatever might be necessary to make sure you are safe. Your African safari should be worry free, also when the unforeseen happens or nature turns wild.
Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa image: Mike Myers
When you go on an African safari holiday you don’t want to worry about anything except, if you will see the illusive leopard or not or will you be able to see a rhino at all. You should be free to enjoy the safari you were looking forward to for so long.
In order to achieve that, you should have a travel insurance. Pretty much all insurance companies offer travel insurance and it can be challenging to go through all the plans to make a decision.
Your safari travel insurance should in essence cover:
1. Emergency evacuation expenses.
2. Medical and hospitalization expenses including emergency assistance, accidental death and disability, personal injury.
3. Repatriation expenses.
4. Cancellation or curtailment of your travel.
5. Damage/theft/loss of personal baggage/goods/money/any personal effects of whatsoever nature and value.
6. Costs incurred as a result of changes to arrangements such as the cost of a private charter should you miss your (connecting) flight for any reason whatsoever.
The cover for cancellation of your safari holiday varies per insurance plan. Study carefully the terms and conditions of the plan to know in which cases cancellation is covered. Some cover for medical reasons only, others include cancellation for work reasons and the most comprehensive cover includes cancellation for any reason. These variations come with different price tags and in general cancellation for medical reasons is sufficient, but it the cover for work reasons can be very useful.
Once the travel insurance is sorted, you can focus in the joys of an African safari and get worried about which zoom lens you should bring with you or what to wear.
The Okavango Delta in Botswana is one of the Seven Natural Wonders in Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It attracts thousands of visitors every year and is a top-rated African safari destination. Despite being very popular under safari travelers, the Okavango Delta offers remote tranquility, intimate wildlife sightings and a great variety of safari activities, both land and waterborne. A visit to the Okavango Delta is an enchanting African safari experience.
The delta is produced by seasonal floods of the Okavango River, draining the summer rainfall from the Angola highlands into the Kalahari. The surge flows about 1,200 kilometers in approximately one month and spreads over an area of about 250 by 150 kilometers in size. The water never reaches the ocean. It rapidly evaporates due to the high temperatures in the delta. The flood peaks between June and August and the delta grows to three times of its permanent size. As this happens during the dry winter months, the water attracts wildlife from kilometers away and creates one of the greatest concentrations of wildlife in Africa.
When planning your safari to the Okavango Delta, you should keep the flood levels at the different times of the year in mind. They have influence on the activities you can engage with at the different safari lodges. Low flood level can mean, that waterborne safari activities are not possible or in the case of high flood level, game drives in certain areas are not possible. Check the location of your lodge or camp in the delta to make sure you can experience all safari activities you would like to join during your tour.
The Okavango Delta is a highly enchanting safari destination year round, yet mind the flood for the safari experience you are coming for.
Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa Image: Great Plains Conservation
Most Southern Africa safari itineraries include Zambia with a visit of the Victoria Falls and that is as far as a safari guest gets to know the country. This is a pity, as Zambia is a top-rated African safari destination, one should definitely include in a southern Africa safari tour. Here some good reasons for visiting this amazing country:
1. The varied habitats of Kafue: Kafue, Lufupa and Lunga rivers with adjoining peaceful stretches of riverine vegetation, dambos and wetlands, extensive miombo woodland with seasonal floodplains and swampland create a diversity of habitats, that attract an abundance of wildlife.
2. The Luangwa river is the most intact major river system in Africa and is the life blood of the South Luangwa National Park’s 9 050 square kilometres. The park hosts a wide variety of wildlife, birds and vegetation. The now famous “walking safari” originated in this park. There are 60 different animal species and 400 different bird species. One special being Thornycroft Giraffe found only in the Luangwa Valley. Some magnificent trees grow in the Valley among the more common are the mopane, leadwood, winterthorn, baobab, large ebony forests, vegetable ivory palm, marula and the tamarind tree. The changing seasons add to the parks richness ranging from dry, bare bushveld in the winter to a lush green wonderland in the summer months.
3. The Lower Zambezi National Park is still relatively undeveloped, but its beauty lies in its absolute wilderness state. The diversity of animals is not as wide as the other big parks, but the opportunities to get close to game wandering in and out of the Zambezi channels are spectacular. The park lies opposite the famous Mana Pools Reserve in Zimbabwe, so the whole area on both sides of the river is a massive wildlife sanctuary.
4. The Victoria Falls are known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya (the smoke that thunders), due to its towering plume of spray that is visible at a distance. Within this area of the mighty Zambezi River one can engage in wildlife viewing or one of the many adrenalin activities on offer. The 108 m long (354 ft) and 1 708 m (5 600 ft) wide Vic Falls are the largest sheet of falling water in the world.
5. Due to the riverine wildlife areas the light is sublime for wildlife photography. Colors are crisp and clear, warm and rich. The landscapes of waterways with their distinctive vegetation are stunning backdrops for wildlife photography. The opportunity of photographing big mammals like elephants in and around the water allows amazing wildlife photography. It is simply heaven for wildlife photography enthusiasts.
The wildlife areas in Zambia are best accessible by light aircraft transfer to avoid long drives. A great variety of land and waterborne safari activities are available for a diverse and exceptional safari experience. The best time to visit is from April to November, however, the so called “emerald season” is worth a visit too.
Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa sources: safari destinations, wilderness safaris, image: Dana Allen
An African safari is heaven for all photography enthusiasts and those in the making. It happens frequently, that people go on safari with their point and shoot camera and end up getting geared up with photographic equipment when they come back home, already planning their next safari tour to get the real good photographs of the Big Five.
Point and shoot cameras work well to a certain extend, but fail when it comes to speed and image quality. In order to get wildlife photography wise the best out of your African safari, a higher end photo gear is needed. Good zoom, speed, ISO and image quality are essentials a camera should provide. Consult your nearest outfitter or online experts like B&H Photo Video in New York before you just buy gear. There is so much going on, that it is hard to keep track. Once equipped with the right gear, you can focus entirely on other skills of wildlife photography and on spotting the Big Five at top-rated safari destinations.
The advanced skills of wildlife photography are not as easy to acquire as a photo gear. They need professional advice and lots of practicing. Photographing wild animals on safaris on open 4x4 safari vehicles exposed to the elements on rough roads and off road if needed, require some training, patience and lots of doing. In preparation of your African safari you can make use of books and Internet tutorials on the subject. One of our own publications “Wildlife Photography on African Safaris” is a good point to start. It describes situations on game drives and how to deal with them to be successful with your wildlife photography. They approach photography on safaris from an angle one does not learn from a safari guide or ranger, but are crucial for success. And the most important, keep practicing and having fun with your photography on safaris.
Zambia and Zimbabwe are top African safari destinations, sharing one very important sight, the Victoria Falls. The Victoria Falls are known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya (the smoke that thunders), due to its towering plume of spray that is visible at a distance. The 108 m long (354 ft) and 1 708 m (5 600 ft) wide Victoria Falls are the largest sheet of falling water in the world.
Until now visitors would need two visas, if they would like to see the Victoria Falls on both sides, the Zambian and the Zimbabwean side. That is not only costly with USD 50 for each visa, but also inconvenient with the border formalities when just crossing to see the same sight from a different angle. At certain times of the year it is better to see the falls on the Zimbabwean side and it was a real hassle when doing an African safari circuit including Botswana, South Africa and the falls, but logistically practical on the Zambian side.
But that is over. From 28 November 2014 the uni-visa for at the moment USD 50 per person is effective. That will make safari travel and Victoria Falls sight seeing much easier and cheaper. Border crossing in other areas like Lake Kariba and Mana Pools will also be easier and stimulate more cross-border safari itineraries including the best of both countries. Hassle free access to top safari destinations is essential for an amazing African safari experience. Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa
Green season in Botswana is not high season for African safaris, yet it is an amazing time of the year to visit this top safari destination in Southern Africa. It is summer in the southern hemisphere. All is lush and green and the wildlife is enjoying an abundance of water and food. It is also rainy season, but that does not mean, that it is raining every day and all day.
The desert turns green as well and the second largest zebra migration of the world takes place. Thousands of zebras flood into the Makgadikgadi grasslands of the Kalahari, which offers spectacular sightings and is heaven for wildlife photography enthusiasts. The pans turn into abundant grass plains and attract the animals from the arid areas further south.
And all that can be enjoyed for low season rates, which can be hundreds of dollars less than the rates from June to October. For a colorful safari adventure away from the crowds with spectacular sightings, warmth and sometimes a shower, you should try this amazing safari season. It is a great northern hemisphere winter escape and a real treat for African safari lovers.
Although our operations are in Southern and East Africa and thousands of kilometers away from the Ebola affected areas of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia the appeal for financial protection in the unlikely event of Ebola at any of our safari destinations can now be met.
About 90 % of the outfitters we use for our African safari tours are offering a revised cancellation policy in the event of Ebola, which enables us to refund our guests within the policy of our suppliers. The revised policy will apply to existing and new bookings. A refund will be made based on the outfitters terms, conditions and definitions in the revised cancellation policy. The exact conditions of each outfitters policy differ, however; in general the amended cancellation policies will be enacted if:
A. The World Health Organization declares an Ebola outbreak in the safari country and for the period a client would visit.
B. The US, or one of the larger European countries, issues a level 3 travel warning against all but essential travel.
Cancellation fees are waived if the amended policy is enacted. Some offer a full refund and others the option to postpone a trip at no extra cost. Others offer both. They all strongly advise an adequate travel and cancellation insurance cover, some require it. In the unlikely event of an outbreak, clients are required to issue a claim with their insurance company first. Most outfitters will refund the difference between the refund received from the insurance company and the amount paid. In the event the insurance company does not cover the costs, some will refund the full payment and some will offer a credit to be used for travel in the future.
Roho Ya Chui will offer the same Ebola related cancellation terms as our outfitters. We strive to be able to issue full refunds and are negotiating with all our suppliers to adopt the revised cancellation policy of the outfitters that have taken this step already. Guests are welcome to ask any questions and advise on the subject. Information on the detailed cancellation policy per supplier within a tour is available. Refunds to our guests will be processed as soon as the refund from the outfitter has been received.
We strongly advise, that guests obtain comprehensive travel insurance with the optional upgrade in place, allowing cancellation of travel for any reason.
The revised cancellation policy per outfitter is available to view and download here.
Most of the African safari holidays are a combination of safari and beach time to experience both, the adventurous wildlife part and the laid-back beach resort part. The Tanzania itinerary Bush & Coast is an unusual example of such a combination of safari and beach. It combines the Serengeti and Saadani, which is by itself a safari destination with a beach.
Guests will stay for the first 4 days at Kusini in the Serengeti. This will give time to spot the Big Five and to enjoy extended game drives on the Great Plains of this amazing national park in Tanzania. The camp is at a remote and private location within the Serengeti, offering exceptional and essentially private game viewing.
A light aircraft transfer will bring the guests to their next safari destination right at the beach in Saadani National Park. Saadani National Park is one of the only remaining protected coastal areas in Africa. The park covers 1100 square kilometers and is the only wildlife sanctuary in Tanzania bordering the ocean and the only place in East Africa that offers safari and beach in one location.
For those who would like to extend with a few more days on the beach, Zanzibar is only a very short flight away with many beach resorts to choose from. This 8-day African safari itinerary is an ideal getaway for a short break and with a Zanzibar extension ideal for those with more time on their hands.
An African safari holiday is the best opportunity to fall in love with wildlife photography, even when photography wasn’t really a hobby beforehand. Many guests arrive with a small point and shoot camera or even with an iPad and go home keen to get the real gear for better pictures.
No matter with which camera you start off your African safari adventure, there are some essentials to keep in mind.
Make sure your camera has a good zoom, either a built in zoom or at least a 400mm zoom lens (for full frame SLRs).
Bring something to stabilize your camera while photographing wildlife. That can be a beanbag, a tripod or a monopod. Beanbags are the most flexible tool.
Bring backup batteries and memory cards with you on safari.
Bring a small cleaning kit with a microfiber cloth and some cleaning fluid.
A rain cover is very helpful when being on open game drive vehicles. There is still something to photograph, even when it rains.
Dress, that you feel comfortable with any weather. Discomfort will disturb your wildlife photography or you might not photograph at all while feeling cold or wet.
Bring a laptop to upload your images after every game drive. That will make sure you have always memory card space no matter what amazing unexpected sightings you will encounter.
Geared up like that for your African safari tour will make sure you are ready for any great Big Five sighting without any stress about your camera equipment. Don’t come with loads of gear; keep it simple and essential. That will make sure, you have an incredible wildlife experience and come home with amazing pictures.
Zimbabwe is a gem under the African safari countries. It is an off the beaten track safari destination with magnificent national parks, landscape and wildlife wise. It is mostly visited by experienced safari guests and not really the first time Africa visitor’s destination, yet it could be.
Zimbabwe is a must see safari destinations for at least 5 good reasons:
You will be away from the safari crowds, enjoying a more private African bush experience. You can combine it with the “Out of Africa” feeling of the famous Rovos Rail to experience a safari of the old times. Zimbabwe’s national parks are rich in wildlife and stunning landscapes. It is said, that the Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwean side are more beautiful than on the Zambian side. There is only one magical Mana Pools UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is in Zimbabwe, created by the mighty Zambezi River.
Safari tours can be organized as self-drive safaris, drive-in and fly-in safaris. African safari accommodations of all price ranges are available, from budget to high end and tours can be tailored to match individual expectations. More and more people discover the beauty of Zimbabwe and it might be a good idea to visit soon, before it isn’t anymore an off the beaten track destination.
This African safari tour is a compact 4-day safari package, combining South Africa’s top safari destination with stunning landscapes. The Panorama Route, the outstanding safari destination Sabi Sands and the world famous Kruger Park are what the guests of this tour will visit.
For an excellent value for money safari package, the accommodation is just outside the park; close enough to enjoy full-days on game drives with plenty of opportunities to spot the Big Five. The game drives are in open 4x4 safari vehicles with a maximum of 8 guests per vehicle. That makes sure the guests have a good safari experience and have space for their wildlife photography gear as well.
The highlight of the African safari tour is the game drive on the private game reserve in the Sabi Sands including a boma dinner in the bush. A stay at a private game reserve in the Sabi Sands is more costly than a safari in the public part of Kruger Park. By joining a game drive on a private game reserve guests have the opportunity to take part in this very special experience without the costs of an overnight at the reserve. The dinner under the stars is an absolute delight and maybe even a lion will roar in the distance.
An African camping safari provides the ultimate bush experience, yet it is not for the fainthearted. You are right in the bush with no fences, no night guards, no set meal times, no set game drive times, but with lots of freedom to enjoy the African bush. Being exposed to nature and wildlife can come with surprises.
On a camping safari in Samburu National Reserve we had our first disaster right at the gate. While stopping to pay the park fees we noticed, that one diesel tank had come of and we were about to loose it. Some robes and with the help of the park rangers the tank was tied to the vehicle again and we carried on. It had rained a lot and the roads were slippery. In front of us was a truck with supplies struggling with the muddy road. But not only they had a problem. In no time we got stuck and fortunately with the joined efforts of the truck guys and us (driver/guide, cook and myself) we got the vehicle out. The further journey to our campsite was without trouble and we pitched tents to have an early night.
The campsite was at the banks of Samburu’s Ewaso Ngiro River. Suddenly I woke up from voices and some kind of a noise. I jumped up and got out of the tent. The river had risen since we had arrived and was now only about 2 meters away from the tent. The voices I had heard were from the park rangers that had come to check the site. In no time I woke up the others and together we moved the tent to higher ground. The river was still rising and the waves of the flash flood sounded like waves of an ocean.
This was a close call and a learning moment. No matter how exhausted and tired you are, always be alert and read the signs of nature. Although Samburu is somehow a tough bush, as it is hot, humid and wild, it is my favorite bush. Samburu is incredibly beautiful with the mind-blowing landscapes, the magical Samburu culture and amazing wildlife. It should be on every African safari bucket list.
Questions about Ebola keep coming with regards to safari travel in east and southern Africa. The decease is on the front pages of the media and new cases in the US and Spain increase worries and fear. While safari companies try to explain, that the affected region in West Africa is further away from the safari destinations in east and southern Africa than Europe, the decease indeed made the move out of Africa into the western world, without any safari guest being involved.
However, it was not the geographical location of Spain, which caused the infection of a nurse, but mistakes in the procedures when treating an Ebola patient. The Ebola patient in Spain was brought from West Africa to Spain for treatment, but the staff on the ground in the affected region might have been more qualified to do that, than the hospital in Spain. None of the cases had any connection with southern and east Africa, where the safari destinations are. Top safari destinations like Botswana took already weeks ago strict precautionary measures by denying entry to travellers coming from the Ebola affected countries in West Africa.
Another angle to put Ebola into perspective are numbers. So far about 4,500 people died of Ebola. In Africa die every year about 500,000 people of malaria and about 1,000,000 people of Aids. The New Yorker has explored an interesting comparison in the article “Ebola vs. Flu” from 13 October 2014. More people die from flu every year in the US, than so far from Ebola in West Africa, but we seem to think about the flu as something normal.
It is expected, that the outbreak will be under control within three months. Specialized professionals do great work on the ground in the affected region and international aid is coming in.
This is not about construction sites at the lodges your tour operator is not telling you about or that the food is actually really bad at the camp, that you booked. This misinformation might happen occasionally, but most of the tour operators are good and do their best to help you with an awesome safari holiday.
This is about the incredible work that’s done in the background to make sure you have the best African safari experience ever. Safari lodges and camps are at remote places, which come with logistical challenges while being at the same time exposed to moods of the elements.
Imagine only the delicious food at the camps. Being for example at a camp in the Okavango Delta, surrounded by water with only small aircrafts able to land, demands excellent planning and logistics. The guys at the camp need fine tuned order systems to make sure it is always the needed variety of ingredients available and not to forget one. You cannot go quickly to the next supermarket and get the strawberries. They got to be flown in at the right time for the planned menu, not too early and not too late. It can get expensive when the logistics are not right and food would be wasted or meals wouldn’t be of the expected quality.
And food is only one part of the operations. Staff planning, maintenance and everything else is just as complex and well thought about long in advance. A small mistake costs a substantial amount of money and time. Big hotels are already impressing when seeing the big operations in the background, yet doing all that in the African bush is even more impressive. Outside temperatures can rise well above 40 degree Celsius, yet the kitchen has to work perfectly with no air-conditioning at hand. Heavy rains and floods can occur and still the safety of the guests must be guaranteed. Buffalos can decide to eat the thatched roofs or elephants find a new route straight through camp, yet the operations must go on with no effects on the guests safari experience.
The people in the camps are doing great work to make sure all is perfect, no matter how the circumstances are and silently in the background.
Botswana’s most famous safari destination is the Okavango Delta. Within the delta are different concessions with different safari activities and different quality of game viewing. Some areas have more waterborne game activities and others more land activities. One of the land activity areas with game drive safaris is Chief’s Island. Chief’s Island has only two camps and one of them is Mombo, one of the most expensive camps in Botswana and one of the very best. In the case of Mombo, most expensive means very best and immense popular and there are good reasons for.
Chief’s Island has the best game viewing in Botswana. One can sit on one’s private veranda at Mombo and watch the Big Five walking past. The Mombo concession is also called the little Great Plains, as so much wildlife is around.
There are no crowds, well, except the crowds of animals. As Chief’s Island has only two camps, only these guests are around and nobody else. Mombo has only 9 tented rooms.
If you decide to leave your veranda and go on game drive, you will be guided by excellent rangers. They are well trained and very knowledgeable.
You can walk over the heads of buffalos! Yes, literally the walkways of the camp go over the heads of buffalos or the other way around, the buffalos like to spend the night underneath the walkways of the camp.
Mombo is a splendid and luxurious camp in the middle of overwhelmingly beautiful nature in the Okavango Delta.
Mombo is a place of plenty in many ways and one of the best African safari destinations. This comes with a price, but it’s worth watching out for specials, that can save hundreds of dollars per night.
Kenya has been a top African safari destination for decades and is traditionally the safari country one must see. Not only the Great Migration is a reason to visit Kenya, but the great variety of regions and national parks with an abundance of wildlife.
Signature Kenya brings you to the safari highlights of the country. After a day of acclimatizing in Nairobi, you will visit Amboseli National Park on the foot of famous Mt. Kilimajaro, followed by the beautiful rolling hills of Laikipia on the foot of Mt. Kenya, Samburu National Reserve with its fascinating landscape and wildlife and last but definitely not least the Great Plains of the Masai Mara before heading back to Nairobi for your flight home.
This itinerary is a fly-in safari to make the best use of your time and bring you right to the camps and lodges where you are staying. The light aircraft transfers will also allow a bird-view impression of this magnificent country with its impressive landscape.
Signature Kenya is a fully inclusive private safari including 5-star camps and lodges with excellent game viewing and guiding. This African safari can be extended with visits to the Kenyan cost to enjoy some time on the beach or with a safari extension into the neighboring country Tanzania.
An African safari holiday will bring you to remote places of nature, the prime safari destinations of Africa. To get there, often light aircraft transfers are the mode of transport. For these flights strict luggage allowances of 15 or 20 kg including hang luggage are the standard, which can cause panic when packing for the trip. But there is no reason for panicking. You don’t need much.
You don’t need smart clothes and high heel shoes. Safaris are a casual and informal affair in the middle of nature, although meals and wine are served like in a gourmet restaurant.
You don’t need 10 pairs of shoes; two are enough, 1 pair of closed sport shoes or hiking shoes and one pair of flip-flops.
You don’t need a hairdryer. The higher end safari camps and lodges will provide one and the more rustic camps will not require perfectly styled hair.
You don’t need a TV. Well, that has nothing to with luggage, but should be mentioned here. There is so much happening on safari and the view from your safari tent or room will offer the most awesome nature, that you will forget, that there is something like a TV.
You don’t need to bring your entire photographic equipment. A camera body with a good zoom lens for the wildlife and one wide angle lens for the landscape will be perfect.
You don’t need to bring shampoo, shower gel and similar products. Most of the safari lodges and camps provide that.
You don’t need to bring worries. They can weigh more than a big suitcase and spoil the experience. An African safari allows you to leave all worries at the entrance gate and enjoy being guided through an amazing experience of nature and African wildlife. And don’t worry about the Big Five and what animals you will see. You will be surprised what the bush has to offer you.
Travel light on safari and you will have the greatest time. Laundry at the lodges and camps will help to make it easy and the wildlife won’t be interested in fancy clothes and perfect hair. Surrender to nature and enjoy your African safari holiday.
Botswana is one of the top African safari destinations and not only in Southern Africa, but in entire Africa. One might not think that, when considering, that the country consists mostly of desert. But exactly that Kalahari Desert creates the most beautiful safari area, the Okavango Delta, which leads directly to reason no.1.
- The Okavango Delta is the dream African safari destination with the Big Five roaming in an amazing habitat of water and land. - The Okavango Delta allows waterborne safari activities deep into the channels of this amazing maze of papyrus and water where elephants and hippos stroll, swim and graze. - The Kalahari with its own special beauty, desert adapted animals and stunning landscapes. A perfect contrast to the delta. - The Makgadikgadi Pan, a salt pan for perfect star gazing and home to one of Africa’s greatest migrations of zebras. And not to forget the home of very cute meerkats. - Chobe and Linyanti with spectacular swamps and the Chobe River, home to huge elephant populations and many more amazing wildlife including the Big Five. Botswana is one the best destinations for outstanding wildlife sightings in combination with exceptional light, which is important for wildlife photography enthusiasts. An African safari in Botswana is a true wildlife adventure in truly remote bush with excellent guides and very beautiful and comfortable camps. The combination of water, land and desert safaris makes it really special.
Two places are a must for a top South Africa safari tour, Kruger National Park and Cape Town. Yet there is so much more and for the travellers with a bit more time this safari itinerary might be just the right choice. 24 days might sound like a lot, but there will still be areas of South Africa you will have not seen. The tour goes from Johannesburg to Kruger, Swaziland (best way to go south), the Indian Ocean coast of Kwazulu Natal, the Garden Route and Cape Town. This is an itinerary packed with the highlights of this beautiful country.
Getting around is a combination of light aircraft transfers and self-drive. At the safari lodges in Kruger Park where you will not need a rental car, the transfers will be by light aircraft. After the safari part you will collect your rental car at Nelspruit Kruger Airport and start your self-drive adventure through South Africa. The roads are good, the routing is easy and the landscapes are stunning.
After Kruger Park and the eastern and southern coast, is Cape Town the last but not least destination of this African safari tour. This lively city offers the magical Table Mountain, buzzing city life, beaches, stunning surroundings with the Winelands and the Cape of Good Hope and worth mentioning, delicious food and wine at the V&A Waterfront and many more places in town.
View the tour and download the itinerary right here.
The myth of the Big Five lives in every safari booking and they are on top of every bucket list of safari guests. The Big Five are the leopard, the elephant, the buffalo, the lion and the rhino (actually the black rhino, but the white rhino is also accepted). They are the most difficult and with the most danger involved animals to hunt on foot.
The term comes originally from big game hunters, but has been adopted and brought to mystic heights through African safari tourism. Who does not want to see the elusive leopard, hard to find and quickly gone when he/she doesn’t want to be seen? The elephants are often seen as the cuddly giants, but an unhappy elephant is rather dangerous than cute. Buffalos don’t give a warning, they just chase suddenly and some game drive vehicles have experienced that, fortunately with little danger for the guests. The big male lion is the wildlife photographers dream, hopefully with the great light of the golden hour and with majestic posture. And then the rhino, threatened by poachers for their horns, they are impressive animals from pre-historic times, difficult to get good pictures from, that capture their beauty and personality.
One animal, that is often mixed up with the Big Five is the cheetah. The cheetah is not part of the Big Five, as they are not difficult to hunt, although who would like to hunt anyway any of these amazing animals. Fortunately times have changed and is the hunt prohibited in some African countries. Yet there is still lots of work to do, to ensure the Big Five will be around for safaris also for future generations. Hunting with the camera is luckily easier and provides joy for everyone, the photographer and the animal.
The best African safari lodge is something very personal. What makes you feel comfortable? Do you need a real room or do you like staying in a tent? Would you prefer a hotel like feeling or rather a small intimate safari camp/lodge? It is not easy to answer these questions when you have never been to the African bush, but trust your feeling about accommodation in general and what makes you feel good at your own home.
The safari budget is another parameter when choosing your lodge or camp. The smaller and intimate the safari camp the higher the rate, mostly, unless it is very basic and rather camping than a proper permanent or semi-permanent camp or lodge. In general a small camp provides the better safari experience and any kind of tent is very close to the ultimate bush experience when you can hear the hippo grazing at night or maybe even a leopard calling next to your tent. Tents are safe, yet allow to be as close as possible to nature.
The location of the camp/lodge is one of the most important criteria when choosing your safari accommodation. Staying inside or outside the park or game reserve makes a big difference in the costs, but you should not be too far away to avoid long drives to get into the park. Choose your African safari destination carefully. There are big differences in the quality of wildlife sightings and you want to see the Big Five when you go on safari, unless you have seen them already very often.
And last but mot least the quality of the beds, bathrooms, decoration, food and service will influence your decision. Look at the images of the lodge or camp and trust your feeling about it. Your intuition is usually always right.
There are many packing lists for African Safaris and there are essentials, which make sure you feel comfortable and happy. They also ensure you pack weight wise with regards to your light aircraft transfers. And for emergencies the safari camps offer laundry service, mostly ready on the same day.
Bring one pair of closed shoes you are very comfortable with, light and easy drying. Sneakers are fine or light walking shoes. You don’t need mountain boots on safari.
Bring a light rain jacket. This is comfortable of course when it rains, but also for wind. It can get chilly on open game drive vehicles and it helps a lot when you have a light jacket to break the wind.
Bring a fleece jersey. They are very light, dry very quickly and are cozy and comfortable when you feel a bit cold or very cold. Even in summer it gets chilly after rain and in winter they are just great.
Bring outdoor trousers rather than jeans. In the hot and humid summer the jeans will be much too warm and uncomfortable on the game drives. Outdoor trousers are the best and work well in winter with warm underwear.
Bring one fast camera and lens you can use for everything. Changing lenses or having several cameras with you can become stressful on game drives. Don’t end up being too busy with your photo gear and missing wildlife and nature around you.
These essentials might sound obvious, but one can get lost when packing for an African safari.Keep it simple, light and practical. Have items, that combined are suitable for all situations you might encounter on safari. Don’t worry about fashion, hairdryer or makeup. That will cause only stress and will not make any difference to the bush and the Big Five.
This African safari package offers the best of Botswana with excellent camps and all inter-camp flights for free. The safari takes you to the Okavango Delta and Chobe, both famous for their beauty and abundance of wildlife. Guests can choose from a selection of luxury camps at great safari destinations with outstanding service. The camps are beautiful and provide a great safari experience with comfortable accommodation to rewind and relax.
The Okavango Delta is where the river Okavango disappears in the Kalahari Desert. The Okavango never reaches the ocean and creates the most magical environment for the wildlife including the Big Five. Waterborne and land safari activities are available and allow guests to experience all aspects of the delta. Its incredible birdlife, special species of wildlife adapted to water and a colorful landscape are heaven for photography enthusiasts.
Chobe with its big herds of elephants offers some more memorable safari experiences. Also there waterborne and land safari activities are available. However, Chobe is different from the Okavango Delta and makes a good combination. Last but not least Chobe is very close to the Victoria Falls and an extension to visit the falls is available to round up the exclusive safari experience.
African safaris are also photographic safaris with more or less photographic gear from smart phone to point and shoot camera and professional SLRs. Being in the bush and close to the Big Five is an incredible experience for all photography lovers. Safari guests who thought they would only sit and watch start photographing as well to capture these memorable moments of being close to elephants and lions.
This can also be the moment to realize, that the point and shoot camera is not sufficient for wildlife photography and plans are made to come back with better camera gear and better prepared. It is not only the camera, that makes good images, it is more to photographing wildlife on safari and one realizes that quickly when being on game drives. Anticipating animal behavior, knowledge about the light, the right location to photograph a sunset in the African bush, the right clothes, tips and tricks of wildlife photography and choosing the right safari destination make a successful photo safari.
Ideally one would like to have all essentials in one place and the Photo Safari Essentials e-Guide provides just that. Including a little field guide to identify the wildlife, information about the game drive routine on safaris, tips what to pack and bring on safari, photo gear and wildlife photography advice and health info make this little e-guide a handy tool when preparing the safari and while being on safari. View and download the photo safari e-guide here.
5 Top Reasons to visit Kenya Kenya has been the top African safari destination for decades for at least 5 good reasons. During the times of “Out of Africa” the people came for the big game hunt, but fortunately that has changed. Compassionate people like the Adamsons, known from the lioness Elsa (Born free) did enormous efforts to preserve nature and wildlife, that future generations will be able to see lions and elephants still in the wild. Safaris in Kenya are heaven for wildlife photography and nature lovers.
Top reasons to visit safari country Kenya are:
The Great Migration in the Masai Mara with the spectacular Mara River crossings.
The country is still wild with unspoiled national parks and national reserves for authentic African safari experiences.
The sheer size and number of national parks and national reserves with a great diversity in landscape, vegetation and wildlife.
The incredible tribal culture of the Masai and Samburu.
The very beautiful coast with places like Lamu, Watamu and Diani Beach as the perfect safari extensions.
Kenya is great year round and not only during the Great Migration. There is always plenty of wildlife in the Masai Mara and the other national parks and reserves. Kenya offers enough to see and do for many more than one African safari. It is a safari destination to visit again and again without ever getting enough.
The classic top 2 must see South Africa sights are Kruger National Park and Cape Town. The vibrant mother city with Table Mountain, beaches and the famous V&A Waterfront is perfect to enjoy great hospitality, delicious food, shopping and sight seeing. Kruger National Park offers outstanding Big Five sightings and the safari of a lifetime.
The chosen safari lodge is a private game reserve in the Sabi Sands, an area renown for exceptional leopard sightings. A maximum of 6 guests on the game drive vehicles and professional ranges and trackers allow great wildlife sightings. Not to speak of great service and food. The stay at the lodge is fully inclusive.
This African safari tour is very convenient with direct flights from Johannesburg to the safari lodge and from the safari lodge to Cape Town (the itinerary can also be reversed). Your time will be used for holiday only and not for layovers at airports or waiting in queues. This 8-day tour is a great getaway with only highlights on the list.
An African safari filled with little and big disasters will stick in your memory and often this is the safari you learned and saw the most. In other words a safari with disasters can end up being the best safari ever. They are an intense experience and adventure and will be a fond memory when everything ends well.
For me the best safari ever was a three weeks trip to the major parks in Kenya with a 4x4 safari vehicle, a driver/guide and a cook, staying at public campsites only. Some hassle was caused by the campsites sanitary facilities. They ranged from hostile to excellent and just a bucket with warm water was often the better option than the offered shower facilities. However, the best shower experience was in Amboseli National Park where the water came directly from Mt. Kilimanjaro and that beats all.
A leaking tent and a safari vehicle that fell apart caused a more nerve-wracking disaster. The first 9 days of the three weeks safari were discussions and fights with the safari operator to get the leaking tent and the dysfunctional vehicle replaced. The summit of the first nine days was a flash flood that almost took me in the middle of the night down the river in Samburu National Reserve. The escape margin was only 2 meters and I had a good fright.
After two days of resetting the safari tour with a new tent and safari vehicle only small things like a sand storm in Amboseli, hundreds of bats in the bathroom in Tsavo East and a flat tire occurred. The new waterproof tent of the size 2.10x1.50x0.75 meters of course never saw a raindrop and the replaced vehicle had never to cope with muddy roads. But it was good to have them, as I’m sure the rains would have continued, if the equipment hadn’t be replaced.
This must all sound like a pretty horrible safari, but it was not. It was an amazing African safari with fantastic sightings where I learned so much about the bush. This safari felt like the ultimate bush experience I would not have wanted to miss.
Going off road on African safari game drives is essential for the safari experience. It makes a big difference seeing the lion a hundred meters away or 3 meters away. Not only for wildlife photography lovers, but also for all safari guests, seeing the Big Five through the binocular is not the same than having them sitting next to you.
Be aware, that in general national parks do not allow off road driving. Also night game drives are prohibited, except for some parks exclusively for their own operations with limited numbers of guests. Safari National Parks are open to the public and it would do severe damage to the bush and animals, if off road game drives would be allowed. To make people listen high fines are in place and guides can loose their license.
The situation is different on private game reserves. Game drives are regulated and rules for the number of vehicles on sightings are in place. Off road driving is allowed for the Big Five, but not to see an impala close up. Also there the protection of the bush and wildlife is of concern, but due to the private character of the game reserve, the safari experience is so much better. It is an incredible experience to follow a leopard through the bush and being able to witness otherwise hidden wildlife interactions or even a hunt. Private game reserves or private concessions are in all major safari areas like Sabi Sand/Kruger South Africa, Okavango Botswana or Masai Mara Kenya.
There is a great variety of safari camps in the Masai Mara, yet Kichwa Tembo stands out for several reasons. The camp is situated in the remote western part of the Mara, right at the escarpment with stunning views over the Great Plains. Kichwa Tembo is a private concession right at the gate to the Masai Mara. Gate meaning, there is a gate where one pays the park fees, but there is no fence. Wildlife is roaming free.
But why should one visit Kichwa Tembo and not one of the other camps?
A visit to the Masai Mara with its year-round astounding concentration of wildlife and being the site of the Great Wildebeest Migration is always rewarding. There is no day and no game drive with no animals. Great wildlife sightings are pretty much guaranteed in the Mara and it is heaven for wildlife photography enthusiasts. The Masai Mara is year-round spectacular and going in low season allows more intimate wildlife sightings due to less vehicles being in the reserve. An African safari in the Masai Mara should be on top of the list for Africa holidays.
The luxury of small and intimate camps in the heart of the bush makes this itinerary a top Botswana African safari tour. Not more than six guests will be on the safari and there will be no more than six tents in the private camps. The camp staff will make sure, that drinks and delicious food are waiting when the guests arrive from their game drives. Meals are enjoyed under the stars of the African sky and a bonfire will create the real safari feeling.
Every guest has a window seat on the 4x4 safari vehicle throughout the tour, equipped for excellent wildlife viewing and photography. A professional guide will aim to track down the Big Five and more of the amazing wildlife Botswana has to offer.
The safari brings the guests to the best wildlife areas of Botswana, the Okavango Delta and Savute. Safari activities with the 4x4 vehicle, bush walks and waterborne activities with Mokoros are included. The closure of the tour are the magnificent Victoria Falls before the safari unfortunately ends.
The Botswana Explorer safari is the right tour for outdoor lovers with comfortable mobile camps, excellent service and outstanding wildlife sightings.
Since the Ebola outbreak in West Africa panic has spread faster than the virus and guests became insecure about going on South Africa safari. Ebola is not an airborne disease and South Africa is far away from West Africa. However, it is the little knowledge about the geography of Africa and the distances on the continent what creates the myth. South Africa is as far away from Liberia as Miami from Paraguay and Nairobi is as far away from Liberia as Hong Kong from Dubai. South African safaris are not affected by Ebola, just like a holiday in Spain.
The infographic by The Safari Company. below shows the distances of African safari destinations from West Africa in comparison to other countries and continents. Paris, London and Madrid are closer to Liberia than South Africa. It is only the poor understanding of the geography of the African continent, what makes one fear of Ebola when travelling to an African country, but not in France.
A very good article is available in the New York Times called “What you need to know about the Ebola outbreak”, showing what the risks are and taking away myths about the disease. Africa is a huge and diverse continent, yet widely unknown in detail. Safari countries like South Africa are in no way like a West African country. There is a reason, that there are no safaris in West Africa, but all safari holidays are happening in Southern and East Africa. South African safaris are excellent and can be safely enjoyed.
There are very good reasons to do a South African safari, especially when visiting Africa for the first time. Yes, it makes a difference which African safari destination one visits first when calling the western world home. Climate, nature, culture and the standard of accommodations can differ a lot and South Africa can provide a smooth introduction to Africa.
South Africa is pretty developed with regards to infrastructure and standard of accommodations and service. Facilities one is used to from home are provided including free WiFi in most of the safari lodges.
With the Sabi Sands South Africa have probably the best leopard sightings in the world.
Thorough conservation work for decades allows excellent Big Five sightings.
The safari guides are well trained and on private game reserves a team of a tracker and ranger make sure the wildlife gets found.
A maximum of 6 guests per open game drive vehicle on higher standard private game reserves provides an outstanding safari experience.
Besides that, allows a South African safari the combination with more incredible sights of the country. A classic combination is Kruger Park and Cape Town. For guests with more time at hand a round trip including Kruger Park, the Garden Route and Cape Town is a good option. And not to forget, that other great safari destinations like Botswana, Namibia and the Victoria Falls are at the doorstep.
One might wonder why South African safari tour Cheetah & Big Five and not just Big Five? Cheetahs are not part of the Big Five, which are lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant. These animals are the most dangerous to hunt on foot and therefore called the Big Five and cheetahs do not belong to this category. However they are incredibly beautiful and are part of the Big Cats and on many “want to see lists” of safari guests. Therefore an African safari with Cheetah & Big Five.
The South African safari tour takes guests to Phinda Private Game Reserve and Kruger National Park. Phinda is an excellent game reserve to see cheetah. It got plenty of open areas, which makes it an ideal hunting ground for cheetahs. Besides these incredible cats, the game reserve has the Big Five including the black rhino. In Kruger guests will stay in the Sabi Sands, the probably best wildlife area to see leopards, but rarely cheetahs. The predator competition is too big and the bushveld is not ideal for them either.
Combining these two major wildlife destinations in one African safari itinerary guarantees excellent sightings. The distance between the areas is big, but direct light aircraft transfer are available, ensuring time is not lost for travel, but saved for game drives. Wildlife photography enthusiasts will love both safari destinations, as they offer ideal conditions to come home with the most amazing pictures, National Geographic style.
More information is available in the detailed itinerary, available for download here.
When reading “dangerous situations on African safari” one might easily think of dangerous encounters with wild animals, but we are thinking more of the two legged animal, the human being. Reminding people to be alert when traveling in Africa is of most importance to the self-drive African safari traveler.
African safari travel in general, like all travel, gets safer when being conscious of danger and being alert, if possible always. The game drives are the least dangerous part of the safari when professionally guided. The professional safari guide knows the wildlife and is trained in animal behavior and response to critical situations, which could be an elephant charging a vehicle. Many people think, that cats like lion, leopard and cheetah are the ones to be afraid of, but they are not. Elephants, buffalo and hippo are more dangerous and more accidents happen with them. However, there is little to worry about when travelling with a professional safari guide. The self-drive safari guests should at least read about the African bush before travelling and stick to the rules they receive when entering national parks.
But what about dangerous situations on African safari caused by humans? This part is very similar to any other travel in the world and mainly of importance for self-drive safari travellers. Be alert of tricks to distract you and steal something from your car, preferably at gas stations, junctions or other places where you will have to stop the car. Know where you are going and avoid driving at night. Don’t be a soft target. People with bad intensions sense that immediately and will take advantage. At least pretend to know what you are doing and don’t show off with expensive gadgets and jewelry. This might all sound familiar, as it could also be advice for travelling to Barcelona or any other tourist hot spot. Just keep in mind, that there is a whole industry specialized in tricking tourists, also in Africa. But most of all enjoy awesome safaris and wildlife sightings on incredible game reserves or national parks of this amazing continent.
Lake Manyara is a small national park in Tanzania in close proximity to Tarangire National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater. The park is very pretty with good wildlife sightings and known for its tree-climbing lion. There are a few camps and lodges in the park, but Lake Manyara Tree Lodge is probably the prettiest of them all. African safari itineraries plan usually one night for Lake Manyara, which is enough to see the park, but not enough to enjoy this lovely lodge.
Lake Mayara Tree Lodge comprises of 10 houses, yes houses. Every little house is beautifully open to the mahogany forest it is nestled in, with lots of light and space. It is very tempting to have such a house at home and not only on safari, so comfortable and pretty they are.
The lodge was designed to exert minimal impact on the environment and is situated in the park’s south-western region. Guests are offered an exclusive interpretive safari in a remote, game-rich wilderness. The stilted treehouse suites are “crafted from local timber and makuti palm fronds, boast a sophisticated blend of intimacy and romance, offering privacy and exclusivity in cool, leafy surroundings. Each treehouse suite features generous decks suspended above the forest floor and large windows invite the lush forest inside. The classically elegant bedrooms are fitted with contemporary furnishing in neutral colours and textures, overhead fans and billowing mosquito nets. The bathrooms have freestanding baths with a forest view and an outdoor shower. Overlooking a forest boma, or outdoor dining area, lined with traditional dugout canoes, guest areas are characterised by soaring spaces that house local artworks and tactile fabrics. An interactive kitchen allows guests to observe the preparation of delicious dishes that are enjoyed in the theatrical boma or on the open dining decks, with spectacular forest views.” (andbeyond)
Expect a very special stay at Lake Manyara Tree Lodge and be prepared, that you don’t want to leave and spend more time there. However, the park does not offer that much variety to spend more days with game drives there, which is a pity, because the lodge invites you to spend your entire safari there.
Zimbabwe is often not the first safari country to visit for first time African safari guests. South Africa with Kruger Park and Tanzania in East Africa are usually on top of the list and probably more known than Zimbabwe. Guests often turn to safari destinations like Zambia and Zimbabwe when they have been to Africa before and fell in love with safaris and wildlife. Then they venture into seeing more.
Zimbabwe is an outstanding safari destination and it is less busy than Kruger or the Serengeti. It offers beautiful landscapes and great wildlife together with excellent regions like Mana Pools at the Zambezi River with its magical trees as a great backdrop for wildlife photography.
The featured African safari itinerary takes guests to Hwange National Park, Lake Kariba and Mana Pools, all highlights of Zimbabwe and must see safari destinations. The 8-day safari tour is compact and uses light aircraft transfers to get around to the different safari lodges and camps, which saves time and makes this amazing tour within just about one week possible. All camps are very good with great service and excellent guides. The quality of the game drives is essential for the safari experience and the chosen camps provide just that.
Inspired to explore the safari destination Zimababwe? View and download the itinerary here.
Now? The Great Migration is a year round event in the Serengeti with the big herds of wildebeest and zebra moving through the different parts of this amazing national park, following the rains for best grass. There is actually no best time to see the migration, well all times outside the short and big rains. One only needs to keep in mind when planning the safari where the herds are at what time of the year.
Nonetheless August seems to be high season or the best time to see the Great Migration, but why? From the middle of July until the beginning of September the Great Migration is in the northern part of the Serengeti, the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. In the Masai Mara the big herds cross the Mara River and these spectacular river crossings are what every visitor wants to see. Hundreds and thousands of animals dramatically cross the river where strong currents make it hard for them to swim and crocodiles wait for the feast of the year not to speak of the steep river banks they have to go down and up. It is perhaps the most impressive sight one can have on African safariand the most spectacular event for all wildlife photography enthusiasts.
However it is also the time of the year with the most safari vehicles and people and one needs to be prepared to share a Mara River crossing with 40 other vehicles. This is the downside of it, but the event makes it all worthwhile. Words can hardly explain how it feels to be out in the Mara for the whole day, spending often long hours waiting at the crossing for the herds to decide to go and then when finally hundreds or thousands of wildebeest make the move and the drama unfolds, all the waiting is forgotten and the most impressive safari sighting is offered to the patient visitor. African wildlife rewards patience and safari sightings require often a lot, but are so worth it.
Choose your own best time to see the Great Migration. Maybe it will not be the Mara River crossing, but the calving of the wildebeest in February or the big herds in Grumeti. Or go at times when only few people go and have the wildlife for yourself.
South Africa is a big country with numerous sights one might want to see during one holiday. In order to do that, plan at least a three weeks trip and still you will not be able to see all the country has to offer.
Essential destinations in South Africa are the Kruger National Park, the Garden Route and Cape Town. Ideally to get around quickly are flight transfers and there are reasonably priced flights available to connect Cape Town with Kruger and further to Port Elizabeth for the Garden Route. Using all flights it is possible to see even more regions of the country. However, many people love to do self-drive to explore South Africa their own way. Three weeks will be sufficient to drive from Johannesburg to Kruger for the African safari experience, then down through Swaziland to the Indian Ocean coast of Kwazulu Natal for beach, watersports and safaris and with a short flight from Durban to Port Elizabeth to carry on either in the Eastern Cape with more safaris or to continue directly to the Garden Route and further to Cape Town, maybe with a short visit to the Karoo in between. That sounds a lot? Yes, it is, but it is possible and all places are wonderful.
It makes sense to plan a round trip through South Africa in a flow. It is not working to plan driving Kruger, then Kwazulu Natal and then Transfrontier Park. The distances are huge and there are not everywhere good roads for fast driving. Driving at night is not an option and driving times need to be planned carefully. In some areas like Kruger Park the GPS will do funny things. Have a map and get directions to lodges, rather than relying on electronic devises. For the main roads GPS is fine or even Google maps, but the dirt roads in the bush will not work with that.
Plan rather longer stays of a minimum of 3 days than being constantly on the move. The driving is tiring and it is just nice to be able to really unpack and rest for a while. Rather choose a home base in a region from where you explore what you want to see. And also here, be aware of the distances and that they are measured in hours, not in kilometers in Africa. Planning your South Africa round trip carefully will make sure you have a wonderful holiday with amazing wildlife sightings and fantastic landscapes.
Botswana is one of the best safari destinations in Africa. Famous regions like the Okavango Delta provide outstanding wildlife sightings and incredible safari experiences, waterborne and land game drives. Wildlife photography enthusiasts will love it, as it provides the best light together with the awesome wildlife. It is one of the best African safari experiences to travel by 4x4 safari vehicle through the bush and spend the nights in luxury mobile camps with en-suite bathrooms, excellent service and delicious food. This ultimate bush experience is offered with the Botswana Explorer, a small group safari and private mobile camps on the best concessions in Botswana. Not more than 6 guests will be on the tour and everyone will have a window seat on the bush proofed 4x4 vehicle. A professional guide will make sure the guests won’t miss anything and have the safari of a lifetime.
This 10-Day African safari is a fantastic way to see Botswana. It is very nice for families, friends and also for single travellers, who want to join a group. View and download the safari itinerary here.
It might sound like the ideal safari, driving yourself through the African bush, just you and the wildlife and no crowds, only nature and beautiful animals. This is for sure the ultimate safari feeling, but it has also a “down side”. Driving yourself around in the bush comes also with hassles like black cotton soil, sand, water, no road signs, rocky terrain, rivers and more. Are you ready for that? Do you know how to behave when an elephant is coming towards you? Do you know how to drive in sand and water or on wet black cotton soil? How are your navigation skills? When you are an inexperienced African safari traveller, consider doing that safari adventure with a guide or joining a group with more vehicles. It is just so much easier when more hands help digging your car out of the sand.
For some first hand impressions of a self-drive safari in Chobe, Botswana, read Mark Unwin’s article about his self-drive adventure and learn for your own. Read what he experienced right here.
The hippos! What hippos? Grumeti Tented Camp is located on the by-water of the Grumeti river with a resident hippo population. This creates the exceptional opportunity to enjoy your lunch on the water edge with the hippos just meters away. At night they leave the water and roam between the tents and you will hear them grazing.
But the camp has more to offer. It is set in the remote western reaches of the park, where every year, in June and July, Africa’s renowned Great Migration passes through the Grumeti region and hundreds upon thousands of wildebeest, zebra and other herbivores cross the Grumeti River, risking the jaws of some of Africa’s largest crocodiles.
Besides the amazing nature experience Grumeti offers, it is a very pretty camp with comfortable and spacious tents and not to forget a pool. Grumeti is ideally included in African safari tours during June in July, but is all year round great to visit. The western corridor of the Serengeti is very beautiful and the right place for the “Out of Africa” feeling. Happy memorable safari travelling!
Kruger National Park and the Victoria Falls are famous African safari destinations and part of pretty much every southern Africa itinerary. They are relatively close and make an ideal routing for an 8-day safari holiday. The combination of excellent Big Five sightings with the activity rich Victoria Falls offers something for everyone. Direct flights from Kruger Airport to Livingstone are available. That allows guests to enjoy their morning game drive and be at the falls for lunch.
Pafuri is the northern tip of Kruger National Park, where Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa meet, also called “crooks corner”. This part of the park offers beautiful landscapes and magical forests along the river, part of it fever tree forests. Significant are the baobabs, perfect photographic subjects for sunrise and sunset.
The region is in general not as wildlife rich as the southern part of Kruger Park and got on top of that hit by first a drought and then a flood in January 2013, which many animals did not survive. Nonetheless it is worth visiting Pafuri. It is very beautiful and walking trails as part of an African safari tour can add a special experience. Don’t expect cat sightings like in the Sabi Sand, rather modest sightings and lots of great scenery. The Africa traveller who has seen already lots of cats and Big Five will appreciate the special atmosphere Pafuri offers.
Vast sand dunes, vast coasts, vast horizons – Namibia is a land of horizons, wide views and endless landscapes. A signature African safari tour Namibia captures the essence of this beautiful country and takes the guests to the best places to be and see. Go on a journey from Sossusvlei over Damaraland, the Skeletoon Coast, Kunene and Etosha and experience the magic. The fly-in safari will offer stunning vistas during light aircraft transfers and during safari activities on the ground. For those who cannot get enough of these exceptional views, a hot air balloon ride might be just it. View and download the itinerary here.
It can be experienced as overwhelming when trying to find out where to go for the best African photographic safari. There are so many destinations to choose from and each of them has its qualities. First ask yourself what animals you really want to see, as if this would be your only chance to get to Africa. Then investigate which areas are the best to see them, ideally all of them to avoid a travel heavy itinerary, resulting in high transfer costs. But that is not all you should think about. The light is a very important factor. Perhaps the Okavango Delta in Botswana has the best light resulting in crisp, clear and rich colors. The Masai Mara has excellent warm and rich light during the golden hour, but challenging light during the rest of the day, what can lead to flat washed out colors. These two safari destinations have probably the most distinctive light for wildlife photography.
Keep the photographic aspects in mind when choosing the destination and plan your game drive activities accordingly. The ideal situation of clear sky and sun in the early morning or late afternoon makes great golden hours everywhere, but there are some places, that add a bit extra.
Serengeti, the mother of all savannahs is a magical place and a must see for African safari lovers. The endless planes open stunning vistas, wildlife movements can be seen already from far and a picnic becomes quickly a serene experience.
Within the Serengeti, Klein’s Camp is a private concession in its northern part, which allows responsible off road driving with the opportunity to get closer to the wildlife, than in the national park itself, night drives and bush walks.
“Overlooking the wooded hillside, rolling grasslands, lush marshes and forested river banks of the Serengeti and with Kenya’s renowned Masai Mara directly to the north, Klein’s Camp is one of the most strategically positioned wildlife sanctuaries in the world. Set on the edge of the Kuka Hills, it commands breath-taking views of the valley below, through which huge herds of wildebeest and zebra migrate each year. While the Great Migration is an annual highlight, guests can experience excellent year-round lion, leopard and cheetah sightings. Huge herds of buffalo and breeding herds of elephant are all resident and birdwatching in the seasonal marshlands is exceptionally rewarding. Several species of raptor breed on the cliffs above Klein’s Camp and numerous birds of prey, including vultures and eagles, are frequently spotted soaring on the updrafts.” (Klein’s)
But not only when the migration is in the north, Klein’s Camp is a great safari destination. The concession allows excellent wildlife sightings with lion hunting, lion being pushed around by buffalos and elephant, exceptional opportunities to see a lion kill and much, much more. And it is also a comfortable and beautiful camp.
It is an exceptional place for wildlife photography enthusiasts.
South Africa is a big country with pretty much everything one could wish for, from endless beaches to the Big Five, awesome Cape town, semi desert, mountains and all in between. Even three weeks of African safari holiday wouldn’t be enough to see it all. One got to make a choice and come back for the other beautiful places a couple more times. To start with a first visit to South Africa it should include history with the Apartheid Museum and Soweto, of course Cape Town with the Table Mountain, Cape Point and Winelands and last, but definitely not least the African safari.
The featured itinerary covers them all in only 11 days, visiting the best places in the bush, in Johannesburg and Cape Town. It is suitable as a once in a lifetime experience and it creates desire to come back and see more.
Travellers with only a week to get away and enjoy a safari will benefit the most from this 7-Day African safari tour. When arriving in the early morning in Johannesburg a light Aircraft transfer will bring the guests directly to the first lodge and lunch will be enjoyed already in the bush. The same convenient flight connection is on the way back to Johannesburg to connect with an evening flight back home.
Both lodges are on private game reserves with excellent Big Five sightings and there are no more than 6 guests on the game drive vehicle. These are the conditions to have an outstanding safari not to speak of the pretty lodges and great food. The private game reserves are different in landscape, although there are not far apart and there is the chance to see besides leopards, rhinos, buffalos, lion and elephant also cheetah, this elegant beautiful big cat.
The tour is a perfect getaway for one week and great to be integrated in bigger itineraries. The details can be viewed and downloaded here.
Blessed with an astounding year-round concentration of animals and site of the Great Wildebeest Migration, Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve provides an unsurpassed wildlife experience. Covering an area of 1 510 km. (583 square miles), the Masai Mara is a land of breath-taking vistas, abundant wildlife and endless landscapes.
With abundant elephant, buffalo, giraffe, lion and cheetah alongside the migratory wildebeest and zebra, the reserve is a photographer’s and naturalist’s paradise. Leopard are frequently encountered, endangered black rhino find shelter in dense thickets and rafts of hippo and enormous crocodiles are found in the Mara River. The reserve is also home to over 450 bird species.
Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp and Bateleur Camp are situated in the Kichwa Tembo private concession, which neighbours the Masai Mara. Meaning ‘head of the elephant’ in KiSwahili, Kichwa Tembo consists of private land leased from Maasai landlords and is situated in the remote western Mara. In addition to its the excellent year-round concentration of wildlife, Kichwa Tembo lies directly in the path of Africa’s spectacular Great Migration.
Well, this is the official explanation of the lodge itself, but what exactly makes it much loved by African safari guests? In the first place it is all true what they say. What they don’t mention is the incredible view from the camp’s pool area over the Great Plains. You can swim in the pool, watching herds of zebra and elephants passing by. And not to forget the resident warthog family. They roam in the camp and can be found sleeping in the main area expecting everyone to respect their space, what everyone does. It looks so cute. Another feature is the escarpment right behind the camp, that can be explored during bush walks. Also a great experience are bush walks to the river or a hot air balloon flight over the Masai Mara with the launch site right next door.
It is the mixture of untamed nature, great location, excellent wildlife sightings, comfort and adventure what makes Kichwa Tembo so lovable. It is definitely worth visiting, especially now with the Great Migration getting into full swing in the Masai Mara.
When you hear Migration Routes you probably think immediately of the Great Migration in the Masai Mara. But there are more migrating animals and a pretty big migration, however less know, is the migration in Botswana.
To partake in a Migration Route is to experience a nostalgic African safari through private nature areas off the beaten path that recreates a sense of wildlife viewing adventure reminiscent of the times of the early African explorers. This exciting routetakes the time to explore the changing areas, stunning beauty and continually moving game of northern Botswana: from walking on islands in the jewel of the Kalahari, the Okavango Delta, to the diverse, wildlife-filled Linyanti concession, with its seasonal elephant herds. The camps are located in a range of different habitats to maximize the best possible game viewing through all times of the year.
Elephants are on top of the list of many visitors to Africa and one of the most popular animals of the Big Five. It is enchanting to watch baby elephants making their first steps and how gentle their big moms are looking after them.
Unfortunately also little and big dramas happen in the bush and baby elephants can get lost or loose their mom. For many of these orphans, a wonderful organization in Nairobi, called David Scheldrick Wildlife Trust, is a safe home. They are lovingly raised to be released into the wild again when they are grown ups.
If you got a day or two in Nairobi during your African safari, visit the foundation and witness the feeding of the baby elephants. It is a great photographic opportunity and a memorable experience.
Read more about the wonderful work of the foundation in Lizzie Willians post right here.
The northern safari circuit is one of the most popular safari destinations in Africa and included in pretty much every African safari tour in Tanzania. The cornerstones of the northern circuit are Tarangire/Lake Manyara, the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti The Ngorongoro Crater is perhaps the most impressive part with its incredible landscape and wildlife.
The Ngorongoro Crater and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area are without a doubt some of the most beautiful parts of Tanzania, steeped in history and teeming with wildlife. This protected area is located in the Great Rift Valley and also known as the eighth wonder of the world. The Crater actually is a gigantic fracture of the earth's crust. The magnificent landscape consists of volcanoes, mountains, plains, lakes, forests and archaeological sites. At 1600 meters altitude the bottom of the Crater (265 km square),dotted with watering holes, offers shelter to almost 30.000 animals in an area naturally enclosed by the slopes of the volcano. The Crater elephants are strangely, mainly bulls. There is a small number of black rhino. The bird life is largely seasonal and is also affected by the ratio of soda and fresh water on the Crater floor. You will also explore the wildlife: lions, elephants, zebra, hippo, buffalos, and rhino are just a few to be mentioned.
There are only three lodges right at the rim of the crater overlooking the vast crater floor, offering stunning views. One of them is the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge and its probably the most beautiful of them with its great design and comfort.
The lodge is perched on the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater. The sumptuous safari suites offer breath-taking views. Inspired in design by the Maasai mud and stick manyatta, or homestead, it is one of the most spectacular lodges in Africa. Three separate and intimate camps totalling just 30 suites are reminiscent of a bygone era. Steeped in romance, each stilted, handcrafted mud and thatch suite is adorned with graceful antiques, grand chandeliers and elegant African treasures. The bedroom, sitting room and ensuite bathroom boast floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlooking the magnificent Crater below.
Guests can enjoy besides the grant design and views, zebras and elephants roaming in the lodge’s proximity. Not to speak of delicious food and personalized service, creating surprises like a hot bath with rose petals and crater view to welcome you back from a game drive in the crater.
It is an exceptional experience to stay at the Crater Lodge and if in any way possible, include it in your itinerary.
The highest level of luxury one can experience on African safari are intimate camps, intimate wildlife sightings, personal service and delicious food. The featured safari itinerary offers high-end standard with the best safari lodges and camps of southern Africa on the best safari destinations with private vehicle game drives, butler service and outstanding cuisine. The wildlife areas are the Sabi Sand in South Africa and Chief’s Island in Moremi, Botswana, both with excellent Big Five sightings. And at the Victoria Falls guests stay at Sindabezi, on an island in the Zambezi River.
Seeing the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat is the dream of many and one should be prepared to make sure, the gorilla trek becomes really a pleasure.
The gorillas live on high altitude in mountainous terrain. They are wild animals, roaming free in the forests and it is not possible to say in advance where exactly they will be when you start with your trek. That means the trek can take hours, meaning hours of walking in the mountains on high altitude with high humidity. In other words, you should be physically fit when doing that and mentally prepared for long hours of trekking, all the way to find them and then all the way back.
Do some cardio before you go on your trip, if you are not doing it anyway, and don’t do the trek when you have a jet lag. You might be quickly exhausted. If you are visiting other safari lodges before the gorilla trek, mind the food. The food in safari lodges is usually very good and one can easily gain a few kilos within a week, which need to be carried during trekking. Don’t carry too much with you on the trek. An extensive camera equipment gets heavy uphill. If you feel you cannot do it when actually arriving there and seeing where the trek goes, don’t do it then to avoid health problems.
There are always stories where the gorillas come into camp and maybe you are lucky to be there when that happens, but don’t expect that. Rather be well prepared and enjoy the trek even more when it turns out to be easier than you thought. Gorilla treks are a bit the opposite of the usual African safari activity sitting on game drive vehicles, although even that can be exhausting.
Enjoy the magic of a gorilla trek!
Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa Image: Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge
Serengeti Under Canvas is a semi-mobile camp in the magnificent mother of all savannas, the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. The camp moves with the Great Migration of the wildebeest for excellent game viewing right there where it all happens. Game drives are conducted in 4x4 vehicles with not more than 6 guests per vehicle, providing space also for the wildlife photography lover with a bit more equipment. The accommodation itself provides all what one could need of nowadays comfort with good food and service, but nothing more, well except an intimate bush experience on prime location.
The camps are easily accessible by light aircraft transfers or road transfers. Nearly all dietary requirements can be met and the sundowners can be enjoyed with premium brands. Some might be hesitant to stay in tents in the middle of the African bush, but it provides the ultimate African safari experience through the touch of traditional safari with the comfort of today.
We use Serengeti Under Canvas for our Wildlife Photography Experience Serengeti and include it often in safaris of the northern circuit in combination with lodes in other regions. Please ask, if you would like to receive more information.
It is always tempting to put as much as possible into an African safari itinerary, but if you only have one week, don’t hop too much around. Staying in one place for longer provides the better experience and it increases the chances of seeing the best of the area. A too travel heavy safari might sound easy to do when planning it, but it is mostly exhausting and feels rushed.
A well balanced tour is the featured safari tour, including two completely different areas of the same Kalahari, the desert and the Okavango Delta.
Yes, might be the immediate answer, but close is relative. You want to be close enough to the wildlife to get great photographs, but you shouldn’t be too close and get the animal agitated. Most African safaris offer bush walks as part of lodge activities and they are a great opportunity to experience the bush from the same level as the animals. However, listen to the instructions and stay close to your guide. Also with game drive vehicles you can get too close to for example elephants and you don’t want to make an elephant angry. Respect the animals, don’t get in their path and watch out for possible signs of their discomfort.
For more advice for the right behavior around animals read Alan Murphy’s post right here.
A quick answer could be, that depends on what you want, and that is good. You can plan a mobile African safari suitable for your own pace and interests. A mobile safari is very flexible and camp is moving with you. You can choose to walk, go by boat or by 4x4 vehicle. Depending on the budget you can either carry your “camp” on the roof of your vehicle and that will be called roof top tents or a private mobile camp will be pitched for you while you are doing your safari activities, that you can arrive in the late afternoon and the cool drinks are already waiting for you. A mobile safari has a more active character than a lodge safari and that comes partially through the character of the camp. It will at least feel already more active, because of the tents in the middle of nowhere and the more intense experience of the bush. One is more conscious of where one is, than in a sheltered lodge environment and more exposed to the elements and movements of nature. It is also more inviting to be active and do walks, canoe rides, boat rides, fishing and more. However, it is always what you want and what is suitable for your physical condition. Don’t push yourself; rather move slowly than being exhausted and not enjoying the great environment you are in. Mobile safaris offer the ultimate bush experience.
The Victoria Falls are heaven for all active and sport loving African safari travellers. The list of available activities goes from tours of the falls on foot, to boat tours, sundowner cruises, river safaris, swims, elephant rides, bungee jumps, cheetah encounters and much more. The only problem is time. Be careful when planning your Vic Falls activities, that it does not become a tight and stressful program and you need to look at the pictures afterwards to see what you’ve actually done, because you were only racing from one to another.
Stick to the essentials. Ask yourself what you would love to see and experience and then make a choice from the options to see exactly that. If you want to have the best view of the falls to photograph, do a helicopter flight, then explore them on foot and maybe, if possible a swim in Devil’s Pool. As you will have anyway a sundowner, book yourself on a sundowner cruise and the 2-night/3-day stay will already be over, but still with time to enjoy the hotel or resort where you are staying.
And if this not enough, you can always stay for longer.
If you do not have much time to go deeper into Zimbabwe, but you would love to see some of this beautiful safari country this tour might be just the right thing to do. This 7-day African safari tour visits the Victoria Falls on Zimbabwean side and Hwange National Park. Of course you can also bring a quick visit to the Zambian side of the falls, as it is only a short drive away. However, the main focus is on the bush and you will have 4 nights to see lots of amazing wildlife.
Uganda is often more an African safari destination for experienced travellers and not so often of new Africa travellers. The reason might be, that Uganda is off the beaten track and mostly known for its primates with great opportunities to see chimpanzees and gorillas. But the country has to offer so much more. Uganda is a lush, green and simply beautiful place with the magnificent Lake Victoria, who feels like an ocean. And within this amazing safari country is the Kidepo Valley, a magical place in its northern part, off the beaten track in an off the beaten track country. This must sound really promising and it is.
Read everything about the beauty of the Kidepo Valley in Tim Bewer’s post right here. Happy safari traveling!
When you are on a game drive vehicle, you are not part of the wildlife’s world. This is very different when you are walking in the bush. You become part of the animals world, part of their hierarchy with a completely different feeling and experience. Imagine you are on African safari and on a game drive in the morning. You see a leopard and follow him for a while. Later after breakfast you go on a guided bush walk and you are back where you saw the leopard in the morning. Can you imagine how that feels? Now you are walking where the leopard was and you will without no doubt have mixed feelings, as the leopard could still be around. The leopard would respond different than when you were in a vehicle and most likely you wouldn’t see him, as he would try to avoid people.
Very special experiences are complete walking safaris where you walk from camp to camp or stay in an area and explore it on foot. By moving slowly you will see very different things and explore the bush in a different way. Consider at least one walk while on safari to get a glimpse of this amazing experience.
If you want to explore Southern Africa, Zimbabwe is a must see and this itinerary show casts the countries most significant sights, the two UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Victoria Falls and Mana Pools. This itinerary is an indulgence for African safari lovers and visits the gems of this outstanding safari destination, fantastic wildlife and nature in combination with outstanding camps.
Probably the most fascinating and dreamed of activities on African safaris are the balloon, plane and helicopter rides.
All major safari destinations offer hot air balloon rides with stunning vistas of Kruger Park, Sossusvlei, the Masai Mara and the Serengeti. The balloon flight over Sossusvlei/Namib Desert is probably the best for landscape photography lovers. The arid landscape with spectacular colors is a photographer’s heaven. The other destinations offer the opportunity of “game drives” from bird view and new perspectives of photographing the Big Five. Especially elephants and giraffes make good photographic subjects, as they are big and give the images dynamic.
Plane and helicopter rides are very popular and fascinating at the Victoria Falls. They allow the best and most complete views of the falls. Small plane flights over the Masai Mara are absolutely fantastic during the Great Migration. They allow more individual flight routing than the balloon, but in order to get good photographs one should take out a door and not photographing through the window. However, helicopters are the best for photography as they can stand still, maneuver easily and are less bumpy than a plane. But the most silent and magical experience is the hot air balloon.
One of the most suitable areas for waterborne game drive activities during African safaris is the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Depending on the water level one goes right into the heart of the Okavango and observes the wildlife from a very different perspective. The Mokoro (dugout canoe) excursions are the least intrusive way of exploring the channels of the delta, moving silently with the slender canoe through the water. Another option are the motorboat excursions, offering more space and comfort when going on water game drive with photographic equipment. For the fishing lovers, fishing excursions on catch-and-release basis are available. And even short walks are possible around islands while being on Mokoro or boat excursion.
Waterborne game drives offer access to places and sightings one would otherwise not be able to see. And for wildlife photography lovers they offer a whole spectrum of new photographic opportunities. They make the Okavango Delta an even more spectacular safari destination.
Happy Okavango safari experiences!
Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa image: Xigera
Hand picked significant features of Africa are fused into this amazing African safari tour. Imagine the mountain gorillas in Rwanda, the leopards in Kruger and the incredible waterworld of the Linyanti in Botswana and you are following the track of this bespoke safari.
Extensions with additional safari destinations or beach destinations are available.
People tend to think sitting on a game drive vehicle and driving around is doing nothing and very inactive. This is not completely true. While sitting on the vehicle one is exposed to the elements and the rough terrain the vehicle is driving on and this can be pretty exhausting. But for those who want to do more on African safari, there are more active alternatives.
For example Kenya offers the most magnificent horseback safaris in the Masai Mara, explorations of the northern territories on foot and camel, climbing Mount Kenya, fishing, hiking and boat rides. And if this is not active enough the beach extensions offer plenty of waterborne activities like diving, snorkeling, sailing and so on. And for the more cultural interested people there are volunteer projects that can be joint to work with schools, communities and wildlife conservation. There is something for each interest in this amazing safari country Kenya.
Happy active safari travel.
Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa Image: cheli & peacock
Lizzi Williams might have the answer with her hitchhiking Ngorongoro and Serengeti crossing for adventure seeking African safari travellers. If this is just a step too far, stick to the classic jeep safari or the light aircraft transfers. They often promise enough adventure for a safari holiday.
Zambia is one of the top rated safari destinations in Southern Africa with as highlights Mana Pools, Kafue and the Victoria Falls. Explore their magic with the African safari tour Zambezi and Kafue and immerse in stunning landscapes, amazing wildlife sightings, great waterborne activities and the greatness of nature. Mana Pools and Victoria Falls are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and on top of many bucket lists of top places to visit in Africa. Enjoy them both with this incredible safari.
Tablets have become our best friends, the tool to access information any time anywhere on the go and at home. Books don’t need to be heavy and bulky anymore, they just go on the iPad and with you wherever you go. Travel guides, flight information, booking documents, all can be on your mobile device and if you struggle with a photographic challenge on game drive on African safari, yes, just open your iPad and get the answers.
Access safari travel information and wildlife photography best practices and advice through Roho Ya Chui’s Travel & Safari Information, Wildlife Photography on African Safari and Questions & Answers on African Safari, available to view online, as PDF downloads and as free iBooks for iPad in preparation of your Africa holiday or while being on safari. Get the best out of your Pad and be prepared for any question that might come up during your safari adventures. Make the iPad your field guide and access knowledge about wildlife and nature wherever you are.
Ideal for those who want to pick the best of South Africa for an 11 day African safari holiday is the well-balanced Cape Town and Kruger Park itinerary. The start in Cape Town allows laid back time to recover from a long haul flight before embarking on an amazing Big Five safari on excellent private game reserves.
Of course there is the Internet with its almost endless source of information on whatever one might need to know and yes, there is also lots of information on African safari countries. Wikipedia will know about Kenya and Tanzania and there will be links to additional websites to get more specific information, but it is just so nice and handy to have it all in one location. Especially specific travel information on visa requirements, vaccinations, climate and more, are what one would like to know before departing on African safari. One example for having it all in one place to view online, to download as PDF and to download as free iBook for iPad is right here.
Also travel guides like Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide are a good source for practical travel information. For visas, always check government websites. They have the up to date information, at least they should.
Many travellers have only 8 to 10 days for their African safari holiday. This is just enough to see Kruger and Cape Town. If you got a bit more time and if you enjoy self-drive, explore the beautiful Karoo. This can be easily combined with a visit to the Garden Route or en-route from Johannesburg to Cape Town.
The Karoo is a semi-desert with stunning landscapes, mountains, open plains and surprisingly lots of things to do and see. Enjoy Brian Jackman’s post on the “secret Serengeti” in the Karoo and be inspired to visit this magical place on your next South Africa holiday.
Packed with wildlife adventure and stunning landscapes is this Kruger to Durban African safari tour. Enjoy outstanding private game reserves with excellent Big Five sightings and combine convenient light aircraft transfers with self-drive through Swaziland and eventually to Durban. Two weeks of safari adventure with room for explorations during the self-drive part will provide amazing wildlife sightings, comfort, time to relax and great photographic opportunities.
Is there something like a leisure safari read? Maybe “The White Massai” could fall into that category, still a true story, but not really on the subject of safaris. Perhaps that is anyway the moment when an African safari holiday becomes just like other holidays with time to rest and relax at the pool with a good book. And then any novel, detective or historical book you would take with you also on other holidays, will be what you will love to read. Whatever you experience as leisure reading will be in your bag or on your Pad. … Maybe another good read is “A Lion in the Bedroom” by Pat Cavendish O’Neill, true story and true romance.
Probably the best selling books on Africa over the years are the classics, books like The End of the Game by photographer Peter Beard, Born Free by Joy Adamson (the story about the lioness Elsa) and Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen). Beard wrote his book in the 1960is and Taschen only recently republished it with great success. Out of Africa became the cult movie for African safari lovers and the lioness Elsa seems to be seen in every lion one sees on game drives. These books have been on the top of reading lists for decades. They let the reader embark on an African adventure and all what comes with it, from heartbreaking moments to great joy and wonder. These books have inspired generations and will mostly likely be on the reading list of future generations as well. They are the reason for many safaris to the Masai Mara in Kenya, to see where it all happened, to find out it still does.
Happy safari reading!
All books are available on www.amazon.com Image above: Peter Beard
This itinerary might sound like something one would not think of first when planning an African safari tour, but it is actually easier than maybe expected. There is a direct flight from Windhoek, Namibia, to Lusaka in Zambia and therefore the opportunity to combine two completely different safari experiences in one trip. Sossusvlei, Damaraland and Etosha in Namibia with South Luangwa in Zambia. Contrasts can hardly be bigger and more interesting.
There are an overwhelming number of books on African safaris, from travel guides to field guides and novels. But what is really helpful when going on safari in need of some insight to understand better what you can expect to see and when you see something what it is?
Great are the Sasol field guides on birds and even skywatching. It gets easily addictive to check the birds you saw, as there are so many beautiful ones and you want to be able to shine with their names when telling your friends at home about them. There are also small books with the essential mammals. It will help you with all the different types of antelopes and not Big Five animals to remember their names.
The travel guides from Lonely Planet, the Rough Guides and Capitool are very good. And if you would like to read some heartbreaking novel while enjoying your private bush veranda, “Born free” from Joy Adamson, “Out of Africa” from Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) and “The white Massai” from Nina Hoss are the classics.
For more practical travel advise you can also search the net and find safari essentials like “Photo Safari Essentials e-Guide”. And of course, if you don’t want to carry kilos of books with you, just download them on your Pad.
Where is the lion? How did you manage to see that? Where? I cannot see it!
These phrases will sound very familiar to people who have been on African safari. One sits on the game drive vehicle and realizes that it is quite a skill to spot the wildlife. By trying very hard one starts also seeing things that aren’t there or tree trunks turn into all sorts of Big Five variations.
Read Alan Murphy’s post and learn how to do better next time.
Kruger Park and Victoria Falls are a perfect combination for a short getaway. You will experience a Big Five African safari and the stunning Victoria Falls within 8 days. And there are lots of things to do at the falls from bungee jumping to elephant riding, sunset cruises and river safaris and much more.
When you live in New York, you will be a good person to talk to for visitors intending to visit the city, as you are a local. And so is an Africa based tour operator a good choice to talk to when planning an African safari tour. A holiday destination is not only information in a travel guide, but also a feel and touch, that one only has when living there. The best is finding an organization with empathy and experience, that is based in Africa and that has also experience in other parts of the world to understand the needs of worldwide clients.
Find these people by browsing the Internet and reading the reviews of their clients and press. To be sure you found the right person, you can also request a phone call and find out by chatting, if you made the right choice. And of course there is word of mouth. When your friends were happy with the safari operator, you most likely will be happy too.
Whatever your way of planning your holiday is, your gut feeling will play a main role. Trust it.
Desert and delta are the features of this amazing African safari tour in Botswana. Without the Kalahari there would not be the Okavango Delta and without the Okavango the Kalahari would just be an arid place. Experience the magic of both and embark on a memorable safari with outstanding wildlife sightings and fantastic landscapes.
It is very tempting to go for the cheapest offer when buying a car, a TV, a computer or a holiday. And it is all right for the car, the TV and the computer. If it is the same product, it is easy to compare prices. But for a holiday it is different. What is the location of the hotel, how far is it to the beach, what is included and what are the facilities of the hotel? It gets even more complicated when it is a round trip to really compare apples with apples when it comes to the price. And that is not different for African safaris. It is crucial to know what to compare. How many people will be on the game drive vehicle, are beverages included, are bush walks included, where is the lodge and how are the Big Five sightings? The luxury of a safari is determined by the location, the privacy during game drives and the quality of the guides. Ask before opting too quickly for the cheapest offer. Rather shorten your trip, but have good quality.
What did we do in a café, on a train or while waiting in a queue 10 years ago when we didn’t have smart phones and Pads? Now we quickly check emails and browse the Internet. We want information quickly and the moment a question comes to our mind and the Internet has the answers. The same happens with travel. Browsing for a holiday online and booking flights has become completely normal. More complex tours are a bit different, but at least one can gather information and pre-select tours and suppliers. This all works also for African safari tours.
Browse online to find information about safari destinations, the best time to travel and tour operators who can deliver what you are looking for. For safaris it will always be a combination of online search and pre-selection and the direct contact with your safari operator. These kind of holidays are complex and professional advice is needed, but you can get pretty close to your goal online. Only for the last steps to finalize your booking personal contact is recommended. Booking a safari is just a bit more than booking a flight ticket. Keep that in mind and enjoy your holiday travel.
South Africa is ideal to do a self-drive African safari tours and this itinerary makes even a good combination of fly-in and drive-in. The safari part on private game reserves where you will not use your car is the fly-in part and after that you continue your holiday with your rental car. This allows a good cost balance and a good mixture of guided safari and self-drive exploring.
Elephants are the biggest of the Big Five and sought after on every African safari tour. We experience them often as the gentle giants of the African wildlife, but of course an elephant can get angry too and you don’t want to be near them when they are.
However, there are other interesting facts about elephants one should know when going on safari and Mike Unwin discloses some of them right here.
The Great Migration with the spectacular Mara River crossing in the Masai Mara in Kenya is one of the most impressive wildlife events on the planet. It is definitely heaven for all wildlife photography enthusiasts on African safari and it is a memorable sighting for all safari guests. The magic of being amidst thousands of animals on the Great Plains of East Africa is an exceptional safari experience.
How do you know you are working with a good African safari tour operator? There are a few ways to find out.
Read the reviews and feedback on the tour operator’s website. Now you might think they can be fake, but one has usually a good feeling in sensing what is real and what not. The experience of the tour operator will be another indication. You will know from the emails and the way your questions are answered. The age of a company is not necessarily essential for the quality of their work.
You can also ask to talk to guests that have travelled with the company to hear their feedback. But probably the most important is your good sense and intuition, your gut feeling. When it feels right, it usually is right. That might sound not very rational, but you might have experiences where exactly that worked very well in other situations. Why shouldn’t it work here.
Kruger Park is the best safari destination in South Africa and a must when visiting the country. The African safari tour Best of Kruger fly-in offers a carefree 7 day safari with outstanding Big Five sightings on private game reserves. All transfers are with light aircrafts and bring the guests directly to the lodges with no time lost on long drives.
Booking your hotel or flight online has become a normal thing to do. There are plenty of online platforms to make your bookings and there are just as many platforms to compare prices and reviews. However, booking a safari online is a bit different from booking a hotel or flight.
Of course it is possible to book a lodge online, that is just as easy as booking a hotel, but one needs to get there and needs to know about the distances and possible transportation. Knowledge is needed and when different safari areas should be combined, it gets even more complex. The best solution for online bookings are pre-designed African safari tours and still it makes sense to get in touch with the specialized safari tour operator to understand the details of the tour or to make adjustments.
Safaris mean being in the bush, where other rules apply than on a trip to Paris. Keep that in mind and rather ask for advise than ending up in unsafe situations. Your safari should be a great experience with amazing Big Five sightings and accommodation and transfers that suit you best.
Cape Town is not the hub to the southern Africa safari destinations, but it’s location in close proximity to Botswana, Namibia and Kruger Park makes it an ideal African safari extension for these regions. Besides that, Cape Town offers so much. Table Mountain, the Waterfront, a buzzing city with shops and restaurants, the Winelands just one hour away and the dramatic coastline with the Cape Point and not to forget the penguins. And the weather, at least in summer, is stunning, inviting for a day on the beach or waterborne activities.
Cape Town is so completely different to the safari part of your African holiday, yet the perfect closure to reflect on the wildlife adventures in the African bush.
Enjoy Cape Town! Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa Image: Cape Grace Hotel
The classic Tanzania safari holiday is the northern circuit in combination with Zanzibar. This bush and safari itinerary is different. It combines the Serengeti and Saadani National Park, a safari destination with a beach.
One could think an African safari is only sitting on a game drive vehicle doing nothing, but this is not quite the case. However, it can feel good to do some leg stretching in combination with the safari.
A beach safari extension is on first sight just lying in the sun, but of course there are many watersports that can be done. For the sportier Africa visitor a combination of safari and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro or Mt. Kenya can be ideal. Both are surrounded by the best safari destinations in Tanzania and Kenya with excellent Big Five sightings. It is also an option to explore the savannah on horseback. That is active and with the traditional safari feeling from the early settlers.
All can be combined to crate the ideal safari and activity experience and every safari destination offers opportunities to do that.
Enjoy active Africa adventures! Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa
The name David Livingstone might ring a bell for many people, but who was he again and what was he doing?
The mighty Victoria Falls on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe were discovered and named by him. He was an extraordinary explorer of unknown territory in Africa. Visitors to the Victoria Falls will see his name everywhere, starting with the arrival at Livingstone Airport. He is connected to many African safari holidays and it is worth learning more about him.
Read Melissa Shales’ article here and be inspired for your next adventure.
South Africa is an excellent African safari destination with the famous Kruger Park and many more game reserves in other parts of the country. It would be possible to drive around the country and do safaris in every part and just as easy have great safari extensions in everywhere as well.
For beach and water sport lovers the long coastlines of the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean offer all possible waterborne activities, whale sightings and the famous sardine run. Besides that, the coasts have beautiful landscapes, nice places to visit and invite to amazing golf courses and many more land activities.
But also the Karoo, Cape Town and the Winelands spoil the visitors with beauty, good food and good wine.
There are safari extensions for everyone and for all interests and tastes. One holiday will not be enough to explore them all.
For those with lots of time to explore South Africa by light aircraft and self-drive, this itinerary is perfect. It starts with a fly-in African safari in Kruger Park and continues with a self-drive tour through Swaziland. Then down to the beaches of the Indian Ocean, the rolling hills of Kwazulu Natal and after a short flight from Durban to Port Elizabeth the Garden Route, again by road and all along the coast to Cape Town. You will visit South Africa’s most beautiful places with a balance of flights and self-drive.
Kenya is well known for its outstanding safari destinations and especially for the Great Migration of the wildebeest in the Masai Mara. But Kenya has also a very beautiful coast line with amazing beach destinations.
For those who want to combine an African safari tour with culture and beach, Lamu is perfect. The island and town Lamu are just off the north-east coast of Kenya. Lamu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Kenya’s oldest continually inhabited town and one of the original Swahili Settlements. Besides the culture it offers beautiful beaches on the island itself or on the close by Manda Island.
Lamu is the ideal destination for ancient colorful culture, beach, all sorts of waterborne activities and beautiful beaches to relax in the sun. It is a perfect closure of an African safari holiday.
Go big and visit outstanding safari destinations across Africa. This African safari tour starts in Rwanda with the incredible gorillas, goes south to the Sabi Sands in Kruger with excellent Big Five sightings and further to the magical Linyanti in Botswana.
The lodges are outstanding and the safari experiences exceptional. View and download the itinerary here.
For many guests a visit to Africa is either an escape from winter in the northern hemisphere or they use their long summer holiday to have time for extensive travel. For both kinds of travel some time on a lovely beach, to reflect on the bush adventure, is much appreciated.
There is a great choice of beaches to visit during an African safari holiday. Zanzibar might come to mind for many people and the island is ideal to be combined with a safari in Tanzania next to the other lovely islands off the coast of Tanzania like Pemba and Mafia. For visits to Kenya also an entire beautiful coast is awaiting the beach and water activity lover. From Diani Beach over Watamu and Lamu, there are beautiful resorts and cultural sights more than worth visiting.
For safaris in Southern Africa the beaches of Mozambique are an excellent choice. White sand, few people and great nature invite for an amazing beach time with activities like horse back riding and all sorts of water sports. Besides Mozambique also South Africa offers a great choice of beaches along the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean with breathtakingly beautiful landscapes and a great variety of accommodations and activities.
It is not an easy choice with so much on offer. Keep it simple and look what is closest to your safari destination to avoid loosing time with travel.
Happy Africa travel!
Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa image: Indigo Bay, Bazaruto Island, Mozambique
Africa is in the first place known as a safari destination and people visit to see the Big Five. But there is more than the African bush. Endless uninhabited beaches, spectacular mountains, beautiful coastal landscapes, exceptional sights like the Victoria Falls and lively cities are the overwhelming choice of African safari extensions.
There are two ways in planning your Africa holiday with the safari extension that will suit you best. It either starts with the activities you would love to do or with the geographic location of your safari. If you want to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, it makes sense to plan you safari for Tanzania or Kenya. Or if you want to do your safari in South Africa, you might like to see the Victoria Falls.
If beaches are your preferred safari extension, you will be able to do that in East and Southern Africa, but you should mind the climate. When travelling in the southern hemisphere winter, you should not plan a beach extension for South Africa. It will be too cold, but there would be other attractions like the whales.
Essentially it boils down to what your interests are besides the safari. Take it from there and avoid too far distances between your safari destination and the chosen extension, as you will loose probably days with travel. Rather come back another time to see other parts of the continent.
The ideal wildlife areas for excellent Big Five sightings and cheetah sightings are Kruger Park and Phinda Private Game Reserve in South Africa. Phinda is “cheetah land” and more with its ancient sand forest, mountains and close proximity to the Indian Ocean. These two outstanding African safari destinations are combined in this safari tour and offer an exceptional experience.
The detailed itinerary can be viewed and downloaded here. Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa
Cheetahs are not part of the Big Five, but they are beautiful animals and great photographic subjects. If you specifically want to see and photograph cheetah during your African safari, you should carefully plan where to go to be sure to see them.
Open savanna and bushveld are the preferred areas for cheetah. They provide the best conditions for their hunt as high-speed predators. Prime wildlife destinations like the Masai Mara in Kenya, the Serengeti in Tanzania and other areas with open plains are ideal to watch and photograph these amazing animals. Otherwise excellent areas like the Sabi Sand in Kruger, South Africa, offer only in their northern part the possibility to see cheetahs. Plan carefully where to stay in these areas to not be disappointed. Often camp and lodge websites provide information on the wildlife that can be seen. Some have a blog on the wildlife sightings, which give a good idea what to expect. Also ask specialized tour operators for advice.
An excellent option to see and photograph cheetah in South Africa is Phinda Private Game Reserve. It might feel a bit out of the way as it is not in Kruger, but it offers great sightings.
When safari travellers hear Uganda, most likely the mountain gorillas and chimpanzees come first to mind. The country offers plenty of opportunities to photograph these magical animals while trekking through the rain forest.
But Uganda is more than that. African photographic safaris in Uganda mean also breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, the Big Fife in not crowded national parks, lush vegetation with great birdlife, stunning views and volcanoes. The colors are rich and a flight over the Queen Elizabeth National Park at sunset is an utterly amazing photographic moment.
Uganda has a lot to offer and it is not as busy as a Masai Mara. This leaves room for the individual discoverer feeling and great wildlife and nature photography. It is a great place to visit for all photography enthusiasts.
The Okavango Delta in Botswana is probably the best African photographic safari destination. Not only the Big Five sightings are outstanding, but especially the crisp and clear light makes it easy to get fantastic pictures. The combination of water with mineral rich soil and the African sun creates a perfect environment for wildlife photography enthusiasts.
There are several ways to plan a photographic safari in Botswana. Keep in mind that you want to do photography and that too many fellow travellers on the game drive vehicle will make this difficult. Choose either a self-drive option (or 4x4 with driver/guide) to have your own private vehicle or choose lodges and camps that allow not more than 6 guests on the vehicle. If finance is no obstacle book a private vehicle at the best camps in the best areas. Otherwise self-drive or drive with driver/guide can be combined with camping as the jeeps can be booked with rooftop tents. That lowers the costs substantially.
However, plan with the best light in mind and the best wildlife areas to avoid disappointment. Inquire about practical things like what to bring camera wise and what to wear to have all you need with you, but not too much.
Talking only about the Okavango Delta does not mean the other regions of Botswana are not beautiful and great for photography. Only the delta offers the best light for crisp and clear wildlife photos, one wishes to take home.
Southern Africa has great Big Five wildlife destinations like the Kruger Park, Chobe and the Okavango Delta. They are easily to combine in one African safari tour and make for a great safari experience even just for an 11-Day trip. Find inspiration for your safari in the Best of Kruger and Botswana tour featuring great lodges and game reserves.
Explore the best wildlife areas of Botswana with a mobile safari and experience the ultimate African safari. The luxury of this safari are the private camps, the private vehicle, the unbeaten tracks and the basic but comfortably equipped tents with your very own staff to make your stay as pleasant as possible.
View and download the Botswana Explorer itinerary here.
As photography has become a passion for more and more people, an African photographic safari is probably the ultimate holiday for photography enthusiasts. Being the whole day out in the bush with photographic opportunities in abundance, this is the way to enjoy photography at its best.
On of the top African safari countries is Kenya and the top event for wildlife photographers is the Great Migration. Millions of animals move into the Masai Mara with dramatic Mara River crossings. It is probably the most exciting a wildlife photographer can observe and photograph. Besides that the Mara boasts of Big Cats and wildlife interaction, which provide great wildlife photography opportunities as well. And if this is not enough, the landscape with the dotted trees and spectacular sunrises and sunsets melts every photographer’s heart.
But Kenya has more to offer for the enthusiast wildlife and landscape photographer. Amboseli with Mt. Kilimanjaro and the big elephant herds, Samburu with its fascinating landscape and different animal species or Lake Nakuru with the pink ribbon of flamingoes are only a few more destinations of a photographic safari in Kenya, a photographer should not miss.
Got inspired? Visit this beautiful country and come home with great pictures.
Walking safaris provide a completely different experience and perspective on the African bush. They can be experienced entirely as walking instead of driving or as additional experience to an African safari with the normal game drives in safari jeeps.
Read more about that in Alan Murphy’s column right here.
The South Africa Explorer tour is a pre-designed itinerary, flexible in travel date and choice of accommodation. It is ideal to see Johannesburg, Sun City, Lost City, Pilanesberg National Park and Kruger Park with a good chance to see the Big Five and good value for money accommodation. It is not a private safari, but it is possible that one has the game drive vehicle for him/herself or shares it with a maximum of 10 guests.
View and download the South Africa Explorer itinerary here.
The rhino is a wonderful animal, roaming the earth already for a very long time, but the numbers are dropping due to poaching and the huge amounts paid for it’s horn. They are endangered and without help they would be gone soon.
If you want to help protecting the rhino you can do that due to several projects and Caroline Rees’ project is one of them.
Read more about how to help protect the rhinos here.
There are many highlights on African safaris, but there is one all safari guests seem to agree on that it is one of the best, the sundowner. This moment after a day in the bush when the sun settles for the night and the sounds of the bush become more mysterious, all seems to slow down and reflect on the events of the day and the safari guests do the same, with a drink in their hand, watching the sun gently leaving the bush for the night.
The have the best sundowner experience choose a spot where you look out over the landscape or a clearing in the bush where you can see the sun set behind a tree. There needs to be something the sun can shine on like a tree or clouds to have the best photographic sunset. And be quick. The African sunset does not last long; it is over in a moment.
Visit Tanzania’s best safari destinations Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti with a comfortable fly-in safari that takes the guests to outstanding lodges and camps and all that with the inter-camp flights for free.
View and download the Best of Tanzania Safari fly-in itinerary here.
There is no better place for waterborne safari activities than the Okavango Delta in Botswana. The magnificent delta is already a fantastic destination and probably light wise the best African safari destination for photography lovers, but it adds to that the water activities on the crystal clear channels that offer plenty of new perspective into wildlife and landscapes.
Experience a mokoro (dugout canoe) ride or explore the waterways by electro motorboat and discover a colorful world with the lechwe antelopes, adapted to the water rich region, elephants wading through the channels or hippos in their favorite environment.
Enjoy the very different view these activities offer and get the most amazing photographs.
The Kruger Explorer itinerary is a pre-designed itinerary, flexible in travel date, duration and choice of accommodation. It is ideal for short visits to Kruger Park in South Africa with a good chance to see the Big Five and good value for money accommodation. It is not a private safari, but it is possible that one has the game drive vehicle for him/herself or shares it with a maximum of 10 guests.
View and download the Kruger Explorer itinerary here.
The African elephant is a magnificent animal and the favorite of many African safari guests. However it is not as easy to tame as the Asian elephant and a walk or ride on the elephant is a very special experience.
There are several elephant sanctuaries in South Africa where visitors can learn during the daily scheduled shows about the animals and can experience activities with them.
Even better are the elephant walks and rides in the bush in Botswana and along the Zambezi in Zambia. Baines’ Camp and Abu Camp in the Okavango Delta in Botswana offer these kind of elephant activities and being with the animals in their natural environment is an incredible experience. The elephant ride along and through the Zambezi River in Zambia can be booked with the accommodations at the Victoria Falls. The mighty elephant and the mighty Zambezi are a good combination.
The Masai Mara is always a great safari destination and Kenya itself is a top-rated safari country. But the most special experience offers the Great Migration with millions of animals filling the Great Plains and yet, it is silent with a Garden of Eden feeling over it.
And now picture yourself on an open 4x4 jeep exploring the open plains with your camera ready for spectacular photos. Searching the Mara River for potential crossings going on or about to happen. And eventually there is the big herd of about a thousand wildebeest crossing the river and you are there with your camera. The brave animals cross a river with strong currents and filled with crocodiles to reach the green grass on the other side to feed their little ones. It is drama and happiness in a nutshell. Be prepared for big emotions and magical wildlife photography.
When you plan your perfect African photographic safari tour you want it to be a selection of highlights, to come home with wonderful memories and great pictures. Kruger Park in South Africa is definitely a safari highlight and should not be missed when visiting Southern Africa. Already its vastness is impressive and the Big Five sightings are great.
Only be careful how you visit Kruger, self-drive in the public park or on private concession and private game reserve. The latter will give you much better results, picture wise and safari experience wise. Doing self-drive can mean seeing little and being in traffic jams at when you get into great sightings. On private concessions and private game reserves you can be sure your photographic safari will be a highlight as you will be able to photograph at outstanding sightings pretty much undisturbed.
When you are on safari you will mostly be on a game drive vehicle when exploring the bush. Being on a vehicle makes it possible to see the Big Five up close and have even a leopard walking passed you just a meter away. The vehicle’s passengers are not part of the wildlife’s “world”, they are part of the vehicle and therefore guests can get very close to otherwise dangerous animals. How fragile this balance of being not of interest for the wildlife is can be experienced when seeing the reaction of for example cats to sudden noise or movement. But it gets altogether different when leaving the vehicle and walking instead.
The animal behavior changes immediately and one feels also completely different. Suddenly you walk the ground where you saw a lion only hours ago. Now you are part of their world and you will see the bush from a completely different perspective. A bush walk is definitely a highlight of an African safari tour and should not be missed.
For photography enthusiasts a bush walk offers plenty of opportunities to capture also the small things and send time where you want.
The leopard is often called the elusive cat and that is for a reason. Leopards are everywhere in Africa, but mostly you don’t see them. It is the same situation on many game reserves and in many national parks where you can call yourself lucky to see one. But there are some areas where you can almost be certain to see a leopard during your African safari tour.
One of the wildlife areas with good leopard sightings is the Masai Mara in Kenya. The Mara is in general good for cat sightings and you stand a good chance to see a leopard during at a least a three nights stay. Another good option for leopard sightings is the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Besides that it offers fantastic crisp light for wildlife photography and is a must be for photography enthusiasts.
But the best area to see leopards is the Sabi Sand, Kruger Park, in South Africa. Due to the fact that the area consists of private game reserves only with great efforts to protect the wildlife and strict rules for game drives, the leopards trust the vehicles and just do their thing which provides great sightings. Lodges and camps from mid to high end are available. If you want to be sure to see your elusive cat, go there.
When you book your African safari holiday check your itinerary proposal, if an emergency evacuation insurance is included. In most of the proposals this will be the case. This insurance will cover emergency evacuations due to floods or fires, but also in case of an accident or illness. It does not cover the actual medical treatment, only the transportation to the next hospital. You will need a separate insurance that covers medical treatment and possibly further transport back home.
Your health insurance will most likely provide such a medical insurance with world cover and also travel insurances offer this option. Check what exactly the coverage is to have the best cover for the best price. However get a general travel insurance as well with curtailment, cancellation, theft, damage and loss.
If you travel with expensive photo gear, insure the gear separately. The insurance will be called “all risk specified” and every single item of your equipment will be listed with its value. This is a must have for photo safaris.
Taking this precaution will give you peace of mind and safety in case of an emergency.
In general plan your safari routing in one flow like a circle, clockwise or counter clockwise. It feels natural and provides the best holiday experience. Avoid going back and forward and in zigzag. This feels uncomfortable and confusing. Let your African safari tour for example start in Johannesburg, move north east to Kruger, then further north to the Victoria Falls and from there to Cape Town. Depending on your international flight you might go back to Johannesburg or fly out directly from Cape Town. If for some reason you wish to start with Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula, maybe to recover from a long flight and to acclimatize, move then on to Kruger and further to the Victoria Falls and maybe also into Chobe and the Okavango Delta. Keep a close eye on flight connections to avoid “lost days” somewhere in the middle of your safari as they might take precious time you would rather like to spend in the bush.
An African safari circuit feels the best and will offer the best experience of a natural flow.
On your game drives you will share a safari vehicle with other guests and a driver/guide (on many private game reserves in South Africa will also be a tracker) unless you have a private vehicle, but there will still be a guide.
It is crucial for your African safari tour that you have a good guide. A good guide finds the wildlife for you, knows the area and knows how to position the vehicle for the best photo. A great guide makes sure you get your perfect African photographic safari. But how to make sure you will have a great guide?
Most of the guides in the different safari countries are trained by an official institution and qualified through an exam. This is one criterion that makes sure there is a certain quality standard. Another important factor is experience and not to forget the personalities should match when you are on bush adventure trip.
You can ask people who were on safari to recommend a game reserve or even guide they were very happy with. In general private game reserves have well-trained and experienced guides, but still it can be a wrong match and you suffer during every game drive. Don’t let it get that far. When you feel this is not going well, talk to your guide first and try to improve the situation. If this is not working talk to the head ranger or manager to either get a different guide or join others on a different vehicle.
Try to work together with your guide and learn from him/her about the bush and let them know what your expectations are. This is a good foundation for a successful safari and great wildlife photography.
This might be a question you have not thought about yet, if you haven’t been on an African safari before, but if you have, you will understand immediately its importance.
Most safari vehicles have seats for 10 guests plus driver. Many lodges and camps use all seats and put 10 guests on the vehicles during the game drives. This is quite a lot and can be an unpleasant experience. There are three rows of three seats each, which means one person will have the middle seat like on a plane. There is one lucky person sitting in the front next to the driver, but for the rest the vehicle is really full and if you want to do photography, it is not working at all.
The higher end lodges put only a maximum of 6 guests on a vehicle, which is much better. No one on the middle seat, space to do photography and a more intimate safari experience.
The best is of course the private vehicle, especially for wildlife photography enthusiasts, but that comes at extra costs.
However, check with your safari tour operator the number of people on the game drive vehicle to make sure you get what you are looking for on your Africa holiday.
When you go on holiday you don’t want hassle, you want a smooth flow from one destination to the other with great experiences. In order to achieve that you can better book with a specialized African safari tour operator.
No funny flight connections and lost days between destinations, as you want to use everyday of your holidays as good as possible. Certain routings just don’t work. They don’t allow a flow and others work perfectly, using the available time efficiently. Jumping between safari countries also doesn’t help with a smooth flow as distances in Africa a huge and flight connections can be complicated and time consuming.
Keep it simple in the first place and go with the best routing. That will make sure you will see as much as possible during the available time.
You will most likely have an idea what your holiday may cost as you looked on the Internet for offered African safari tours and got an idea what the costs are or you have set a certain amount apart that you want to spend. Either way tell the safari operator what that budget is. That will safe you time and energy in finding the safari you like.
Often people think that mentioning the budget will make that a cheaper tour is made more expensive, because the budget is higher and the other party wants the money. Maybe that happens some times, but decent safari operators will use that information to create the safari that suits you best. It makes communication so much easier and avoids irritation and frustration on both sides. Make clear what you want, what budget is available and if this is realistic you will get it. Otherwise you will get explained what is realistic with that budget and why. Safe your nerves and time. Rather use your energy for an adventurous fantastic safari, made to suit you best. Happy wildlife safari traveling!
Lets imagine you want to visit South Africa with a part of your holiday in Cape Town and the other part with a safari in Kruger. To get a reasonably good idea of anAfrican safari touryou should stay at least for 3 nights. That would make a 4-day/3-nights safari preferably with a professional guide for the game drives. Lets say you do self-drive to Kruger and choose accommodation at a lodge just outside the park on half board basis, the rate would be about ZAR 6,800 per person sharing. The game drives are of course in the park.
The Cape Town part of that holiday works completely different. You can just book a hotel online, rent a car at the airport and drive yourself around. Accommodations for any budget are available and so are scheduled tours, hop on hop off busses and more sight seeing activities like in any other city in the world.
Yes, you can also do self-drive in Kruger, but if you really want to have great sightings invest in a professional guide and vehicle for the game drives. Its worth it.
Happy photo safari holiday travelling!
Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui “soul of leopard”, Travel Africa
Meanwhile we have all learned that airfares are mostly taxes and it is not pleasant to see how much of the ticket price is actually not for flying, but for all sorts of taxes and surcharges. Unfortunately this is the same with safari flights.
Yes, even a dusty airstrip in the bush has departure taxes and fuel surcharges apply to light aircraft flights. These costs can be surprising when it comes to the actual costs for an African safari tour. The good news is that the amounts are much lower than for commercial flights and the biggest part of the ticket costs is really for flying, but still. It adds on.
And then there are the tourist and bed levies. They are also small amounts, but added per night and at the end they are costs as well. The levies are usually already included when you get the quotation for your safari, but like with the airfares they are there and add on.
This is just a reminder when moaning about expensive flights and accommodation that there is more to it than just the bed.
Happy adventurous safari travelling!
Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui “soul of leopard”, Travel Africa
Namibia is the ideal country for self-drive safaris. The roads are good, although many are dirt roads, but still good to do for self-drive. It is a country of great landscapes, panoramic vistas, a dramatic coastline, ancient deserts and last but not least amazing wildlife.
Due to the well to do self-drive tours Namibia is a best price African safari option. Just rent a car and go. Book your accommodations on the standard you prefer, half board to have your breakfast and dinner at your accommodation and during the day you do your explorations in the area yourself, independently from the lodge or camp. That way you make the best use of your rental car. Only don’t try to save too much when choosing the car. Take one with higher ground clearance to feel comfortable in any terrain. And get information on the distances you cover to drive during daylight. Off you go.
Happy safari exploration in Namibia!
Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui “soul of leopard”, Travel Africa
It is a common habit to compare holiday offers, but you should know what to look at to compare them well.
Have a close look at the specification of your best price African safari tour. Does the price include beverages and refreshments during game drives? How many people are on the game drive vehicle, 6 or 10? Are the transfers in minibus or with 4x4 jeep? And what kind of vehicle is the game drive vehicle, minibus or 4x4? Are park fees included? When doing flight transfers are the departure taxes and surcharges included? What about the transfers from/to airstrips and airports? Is the meal plan full board or half board? What safari activities are included?
When the offers are checked that way and are identical the difference will lie in the accommodation. From now on just follow your heart and choose the accommodation you love the most.
Happy photo safari holiday traveling!
Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui “soul of leopard”, Travel Africa
Safaris are generally known for being expensive, but when you take a closer look it is not so bad considering what is included.
Many safari camps and lodges are on remote locations with demanding and complex logistics to provide good and safe accommodation with good food and game activities. When you can get your supplies only by air or boat, it gets expensive to run a camp. Also maintenance needs to be spot on, otherwise the timber deck will not be safe and good anymore. All this work reflects in the lodge and camp rates and the smaller the camp the more per person, but also the better the safari experience.
To get to your camp, the next one and back to civilization you need transport. Road transfer is an option and when you are a group of people the costs per person are low. But sometimes air transfer is the only option or the best option and that comes at a different cost.
When you are in the bush you cannot go out in the evening and find yourself a restaurant for dinner. It needs to be at least full board, fully inclusive is even better with local wines and spirits included.
When you put all that together an African safari holiday price includes accommodation (the smaller and remote the camp the more luxurious), food, drinks, transfers, taxes, surcharges, levies, park fees and safari activities. The only thing extra is the international airfare, well and possible shopping in the curio shop.
A safari is the most transparent and predictable holiday cost wise. The tour is planned and you go for it with no other sights or tours you could fall for in between, which could double the price of your vacation, well with the curio shop temptation.
Happy photo safari travelling!
Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui “soul of leopard”, Travel Africa
There is nothing worse than finally going on the long waited for holiday and stumbling from one problem into the other, just by not having the right documents, visas or insurance with you. So get it sorted before you go for a worry free holiday trip.
To experience a perfect African safari tour, make sure you have your vaccination book with you (see blog post from last Friday). Entry into a country might be rejected, if you don’t. The same can happen when you don’t have enough empty pages in your passport for immigration to place their visas and stamps. Depending on how many countries you visit have at least four empty pages or more. Enquire for visas beforehand. In most of the African safari countries you can buy a visa at the port of entry, but not all. Make sure you know what your countries require.
The same importance has a travel insurance. Check with your credit card provider, if you have already one with your credit card. It should cover cancellation/curtailment, medical expenses, default and baggage loss.
Bring also your vouchers and other travel documents you got from your tour operator, just in case you are unsure about inclusions. And of course flight tickets and if you do self-drive bring your drivers license.
All set? Now its time for a happy safari!
Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui “soul of leopard”, Travel Africa
Imagine you are at home somewhere in the northern hemisphere, planning your safari holiday while sitting next to the blazing heating on a Sunday afternoon in January. What will come to your mind, you definitely will need to have a perfect African safari tour?
Sun and warmth might be the first that come up. Keep in mind that travel during European summer means travel during southern hemisphere winter, with temperatures possibly falling at night down to 0. But there is lots of sun and temperature during the day can rise to really nice warm “summer days”.
Then the Big Five. You want to see lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo plus all the other wonderful animals. Make sure you visit wildlife areas and national parks where you can find them. Have rather a professional guide than doing self-drive in the parks. They know where to look and you will have the better sightings.
Photography! You will most likely want to come home with great pictures. Make sure you have at least a 400mm zoom. Point and shoot cameras are often too slow for shooting wildlife, but have often a good zoom and as long as the animals stand still you are fine.
And last but not least you will want a comfortable accommodation for a good rate. Enquire for specials. Some outfitters offer long stay discounts and have circuits you can book at really good rates including different lodges/camps and wildlife area.
Make a list of all that what is important to you for a safari and then go and get it. You will have your perfect African safari.
Happy holiday travel snapping!
P.S. A bundle with many practical questions and answers on safari travel is now available as free download in the iBookstore. Just search for the author Roho Ya Chui. The book is called “On African Safari”.
Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui “soul of leopard”, Travel Africa
Kenya has been the safari country one should definitely visit for decades. It is still wild, when comparing it with South Africa for example. There are few fences; wildlife is roaming free and the traditional tribes like the Masai are herding their cattle in the middle of lion and other predators with the same confidence as always.
Kenya is safari. It got a great variety of national parks and national reserves and it is almost impossible to visit all of them within one safari holiday, unless you want to hop from one to the other by plane and stay for only one night, but that would be a shame. You should take time when going on African safari tour in Kenya. Stay at least for 3 nights at one place to have the best experience and to have great wildlife sightings. Take travel times into consideration when planning your trip. Don’t plan too tight.
It works best to combine the Masai Mara with Lake Nakuru, Laikipia and Samburu. Tsavo East, Tsavo West and Amboseli are another great circuit. To do it all together, you better have three weeks for your tour. And if this is not yet enough, there is the entire coastline with the most beautiful beach resorts of Watamu, Diani and Lamu.
Kenya got it all. It is a beautiful country, still wild, adventurous and with lots of amazing wildlife. It is a great choice to visit.
Happy wildlife photo safari travel!
Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui “soul of leopard”, Travel Africa
To achieve that, it might be a good first step to define what is the best price. Is the cheapest safari the best-priced safari? Think of the plumber who was the cheapest and made you need a full renovation after installing only a new toilet. The cheapest can end up being the most expensive. Keep that in mind when choosing your best-priced African safari holiday. Compare the included services. Get an idea what luxury accommodation means in the bush. The intimate small camps are luxury, because you have the bush pretty much for yourself. Not all of them are expensive, but would fall in the category of best-priced safari camps.
Choose your mode of transport with care. When you are travelling by yourself or as a couple, a 4x4 vehicle with driver can be expensive, when you are a group of 6 it is well priced. Light aircraft transfers are not necessarily expensive. Compare them with alternative modes on transport. Don’t be too brave with self-drive and remember that you will not see as much on game drives as with a professional guide.
Compare camps within their quality standard group to have realistic results. And maybe it is nice to be naughty and have just one extra special camp as the cherry on the cake at the end.
Happy wildlife photo safari planning!
Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui “soul of leopard”, Travel Africa
This question might sound like an open door, asked by somebody who is organizing safari tours for people and of course pleading for booking safaris with an agent. But it is not that simple. It is the experience clients share, what makes discussing that question relevant.
The first reasons are the logistics. Google map might say it is a 2 hours drive, but in reality its 3.5 hours, as Google doesn’t know about the cattle on the road, people walking, even on freeways, and potholes. It is also important to know the game drive times in order to book the right flights and transfers. When your flight arrives too late you might not even get into the park anymore.
Next is the different culture, also when it comes to booking offices and especially within big organizations or chains. The online rates at the Victoria Falls hotel might be a bit lower, but you also might never get a response from them. Or transfers. It is easy in big cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town where you just take a cab, but at the bush destinations it is a different story.
And there are more things that work different than on other holiday destinations around the globe and where it is good to have a helping hand. Therefore the idea of booking your African safari holiday with an agent is not such a bad idea.
Happy wildlife snapping holiday planning!
Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui “soul of leopard”, Travel Africa
The smoke that thunders, is how the Victoria Falls are called by the local tribes and although one could think a waterfall is something you look at and that’s it, the Vic Falls are different. You can spend days there and being busy each day all day.
Depending on the season the spray of the falls varies greatly. During high waters the “smoke” (spray) can be so much that you don’t see the rocks underneath it and some activities like swimming in Devil’s Pool are not possible. With low waters swimming on the rim of the falls is possible and really great.
But that is not all. How about riding an elephant along the Zambezi, or having tea at the famous Victoria Falls Hotel on the Zimbabwean side or while anyway using the bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe do a bungee jump from it or watching others doing it from a helicopter soaring above the falls? You will run out of time when trying to do all the falls have to offer to see all angles of this magnificent sight.
Visiting the Victoria Falls during a safari can be done on really good rates, as a large range of accommodations is available. Keep in mind that the best price African safari holiday operator is not necessarily the one with the best offers. Compare the details of the itineraries to make sure you are comparing the same qualities and inclusions. Sometimes it is worth to pay a few dollars more for excellent service before, during and after your holiday tour. If you are interested in photography, it’s good to have an operator that can advice and schedule the activities to get the best light for your indented great photos.
However, the falls are year round beautiful and just a fantastic sight in combination with the mighty Zambezi River.
Happy landscape and more photography travel!
Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui “soul of leopard”, Travel Africa
When you see a rhino you see ancient time, an animal that seems to come from a million years ago with its heavy body the for horn use shaped head and of course the famous rhino horn itself. The ancient spirit of a rhino is its beauty and unfortunately there are people thinking when they use the rhino’s horn they become just the same beautiful spirit as the rhino and they would not believe that this would never happen. No matter how much rhino horn they consume, they will never be as strong and impressive as a rhino. But unfortunately they put that in their minds and that kills hundreds of rhinos every year with the count rising. Seeing a rhino has become a different experience, conscious of the threat they are under, seeing a rhino has become even more special than it always was.
If you want to be sure to see rhino on your African safari holiday go to well established Big Five game reserves. You will not only be pretty sure to see them, you will also support with your stay the good work they do in protecting these amazing animals. The national parks and private game reserves do great efforts with anti poaching and rhino horn treatment to make the horn hunt stop.
Appreciate any rhino you see. Take great pictures and enjoy the challenge of getting great rhino photos, as this is not that easy.
Enjoy fantastic wildlife sightings on amazing safaris.
Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui “soul of leopard”, Travel Africa
When you plan to visit South Africa in 2014 you will have to choose from a great variety of fantastic African safari destinations and numerous options for safari extensions. Yes, it sounds like work and it really is hard to make a choice.
South Africa is a big country and offers such a variety that it matches pretty much any holiday interest from safaris to marine life and fine wineries and all in between. It is great to do self-drive and explore the different regions and sight yourself, but mind the distances and travel times. It is easily misjudged.
Just as an inspiration here some ideas for top-rated African safari holidays in South Africa. What about safari in Kruger Park followed by hiking in the Drakensberg, diving in the Indian Ocean, horse riding in the bush or on the beach, relax time in a beach resort before continuing to the magnificent Garden Route and ending up in beautiful Cape Town with a closure at a wine yard estate. Yes, you might be exhausted, but you will have seen the best and you will take home priceless memories.
Happy African safari travel 2014!
Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui “soul of leopard”, Travel Africa
If you don’t have the time to do lots of research on the Internet to put your African safari itinerary together, find yourself a trusted specialized African safari tour operator and choose one of their tours.
Pre-designed African safari tours are ready to book and usually cover the highlights of top-rated safari countries and regions. You would often end up choosing the same sights and game reserves, but in the safari packages you have it all ready and if the tours are group tours and you would like to do that, it will save you money.
There are also tours with a certain theme or interest, like walking tours, horseback safaris or visiting a specific event like the calving of the wildebeest in the Serengeti. Group tours have also a tour guide and different languages for certain tours are offered.
They are some kind of a carefree solution when you don’t have the time for the process of designing your African safari together with your agent, although it is really nice to do that.
It is good to search the Internet first. Get an idea what you can see in Botswana and what appeals to you. Look up maps to get an impression of locations and distances between the parks you are interested in.
While doing that, you will come across many names of lodges and camps. When you visit their websites you will notice that many of them do not publish their rates. This is the moment to get help with your African safari booking. One option is to contact the lodges separately and try to put your safari itinerary together yourself. That is not easy, as you need transfers and knowledge about travel times and schedules. The better way is to find a specialized tour operator to help you from there.
Now you know what you want and together you can create the safari tour you have in mind. It will save you a lot of time, nerves and money; you can spend more pleasantly in curio shops or for nice activities.
Botswana is a fantastic photographic safari destination, but offers so much for all interests and first of all beautiful nature and wildlife.
Happy photo safari travelling!
Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui “soul of leopard”, Travel Africa
You can spend days with seeing the Victoria Falls, from the Zambian side, the Zimbabwean side, from above and from below. If you plan to stay for only 2 nights at this top-rated African safari destination, use your time wisely to get to see all angles of this magnificent sight.
There are opening hours of the falls, transfer times and scheduled departures for the activities and excursions to consider. Also mind you are crossing a border when moving from Zambia to Zimbabwe and back. Don’t plan too tight and the day you fly out should not be filled with excursions until the last minute.
But it is possible to do a tour of the falls on the Zambian and Zimbabwean side, have a helicopter flight to see them from above and go on a boat tour under the spray of the falls. If you also want to get in the falls, a swim in Devil’s Pool can provide that, available depending on the water level.
Still not enough? Maybe a lunar tour makes it complete, seeing the falls shining in the light of the full moon.
Happy photography sight seeing travel!
Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui “soul of leopard”, Travel Africa
The top safari country in East Africa was traditionally Kenya, but during the last years Tanzania became the favorite African safari destination for a growing number of guests and that is not a surprise.
Tanzania’s most famous part is the north with the Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro, the Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Park. The active guests can climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and do a safari afterwards and otherwise the northern safari circuit is just fabulous to do even within a one-week holiday. Three different highlights from the migration in the Serengeti over the impressive Ngorongoro Crater to the small, but beautiful Lake Manyara National Park or/and Tarangire are pretty easy to combine either as drive-in or fly-in safari.
But that is not all Tanzania has to offer. The south is just as beautiful, yet very different and great for those who like to explore off the beaten track. And if this is not enough, Zanzibar and the beaches are the perfect safari extension to rest, relax, explore culture and history or continue wildlife watching, but then under water with diving or snorkelling.
Bring time, if you want to see all within one holiday and recon that Tanzania is a bit more costly than Kenya. But it’s worth it!
Happy amazing safari travelling!
Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui “soul of leopard”, Travel Africa
Namibia offers safaris of a completely different kind. This vast country is fantastic for lovers of dramatic landscapes and stargazing. The Namib Desert with its many faces from the sand dunes of Sossusvlei to the famous Skeleton Coast is fabulous for landscape and aerial photography. The desert adapted wildlife like Oryx, elephant and rhino make wonderful photographic subjects with the most spectacular backdrops of astonishing landscapes.
Namibia offers something for all budgets. The self-drive safaris are easy to do and help to experience this beautiful country even with small travel funds. Etosha is the country’s famous wildlife area with spectacular animal interactions around the waterholes.
Only be prepared for long distance drives or choose to fly, which comes with a price tag. When driving make sure you measure distances in hours and not in kilometers and keep in mind to be at your destination before night fall.
Be prepared to have a lot to choose from when planning an African safari in Kenya. Kenya is a fantastic safari country where wild feels wild and a Masai Mara National Reserve has entrance gates, but no fences and the Masai people still live in their traditional villages and herd their cattle.
If you want to see lots of different national parks and wildlife areas, bring time. Only the north offers already Samburu, Shaba, Meru, Laikipia, Mount Kenya and the less frequently visited Marsabit and Lake Turkana. On the way south are Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha and Aberdare with a turn to the west to see the Masai Mara and then further to Amboseli with Mt. Kilimanjaro and to Tsavo. Yes, this is what you can choose from and the coast not even mentioned.
Have a good look at a map when planning the safari and ask for the transfer times by air and by road. Don’t get carried away and put too much in one itinerary. You will have to make choices. And if you can’t, your budget will do it for you. Visiting remote places in the wild comes with a price tag due to complex and costly logistics and your own transfers to all these places. Self-drive is not recommended when you don’t have Africa experience and in parks like the Masai Mara you will need a guide to find the animals and not to get lost.
It is already an adventure planning your African safari tour to Kenya with this amazing choice of fantastic destinations. Enjoy it!
Happy wildlife safari travelling!
Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui “soul of leopard”, Travel Africa
The Eastern Cape province of South Africa and especially a small village called Qunu are the news of the day with the state funeral for Nelson Mandela taking place today.
The remote location of the village does not help making it part of an African safari holiday to visit his grave. But there are safari options in the Eastern Cape that are worth bringing the visitor down there in the first place.
Several private game reserves and Addo Elephant National Park are situated in the Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown area. The big advantage of the area is, that it allows Big 5 malaria free safaris. The vegetation is very different from Kruger Park and it has a completely different look and feel.
From the Eastern Cape the holiday can be continued along the famous Garden Route and further to Cape Town. Only bring enough time, if you want to do the tour self-drive, otherwise use the domestic flights that are available for very good rates.
Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and almost every African safari holiday itinerary includes at least a few days in this lively place.
The best time to visit Cape Town is in summer (northern hemisphere winter). The cape looks like an enlarged Cote d’Azur with its blue sky, the rough coastline, the blue sea and the beautiful coastal vegetation. A sight you cannot miss in Cape Town is the Table Mountain. It dominates the area and is the one you see on every post card. You can visit the top of Table Mountain by foot or the more comfortable way with the cable car. The vistas are stunning. Only be early in the morning at the cable car station to avoid the huge queues later in the day.
Another landmark is Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for many years. It is one of the must-see sights and offers also a different vantage point on Cape Town.
Right at the waterfront is the Victoria & Albert Waterfront, the place to be for shopping and restaurants. Many hotels are located at the Waterfront and it is wise to stay in one of them as you can walk everything when you want to go out for dinner or shopping.
You can also use the hop-on hop-off busses to explore the city or use one of the scheduled city tours. Plan at least two full days in Cape Town to get a chance to see something of it and to enjoy its busy life.
And if that is not enough, the Winelands and the Cape Point are just an excursion away.
All Johannesburg city tours somehow catch places where Mandela lived, worked or where his work and life had influence on. Most likely a new standard in the tours will be a drive by and maybe a short stop at Mandela’s house in Houghton. Houghton is a beautiful green residential suburb with in front of his house right now a sea of flowers. He spent the last years of his life there.
The house is not far away from Rivonia. The suburb gave its name to the Rivonia Trial where Mandela was sentenced for life in 1964. He and others were arrested on a farm in Rivonia where they hid from the apartheid government. Nowadays Rivonia is a residential suburb in Sandton, the business heart of Johannesburg with its well known Sandton City shopping mall.
Other sights like the Apartheid Museum are further on the southern outskirts of Johannesburg. But it actually does not need really sights to see and feel his spirit in the developing and growing city. All that is a result of what he stands for.
It is worth it to stay in Johannesburg at least for a day to explore the city. It is a very green place and offers lots of nice cafes and restaurants and of course also shops. Pretty much all African safari itineraries for Southern Africa bring the visitor to Johannesburg and one got the chance to get a glimpse of this dynamic place.
Pretoria is not the first that comes to mind when planning an African safari. Johannesburg is the hub to African safari holidays in Southern Africa. But there is a very special way to travel in South Africa and that involves Pretoria.
The Blue Train starts (or ends) in Pretoria. It offers a wonderful way of traveling and the journey from Pretoria to Cape Town takes about 27 hours with a bit of stopover sight seeing along the way. It could be an option to have a day or two in Pretoria with sight seeing of the traditional buildings, the purple blooming jacaranda trees in October and November and to make the experience complete stay at the Herbert Baker Hotel, named after the famous architect.
This version of a safari holiday is for the ones that have time. Photography lovers will not only be able to comfortably sit, view and shoot, but the train itself is a wonderful photographic subject as well.
When you travel you want to know that you are safe even on adventurous holidays like African safaris.
The safari lodges and camps have safety rules that are explained to you at arrival. They can include not walking by yourself at night in an unfenced camp, not leaving the walkway, not standing up in the open game vehicle at sightings and how to act in case of an emergency. Follow the rules; they are there for a reason.
The guides/rangers at the lodges and camps are usually well trained and professional, definitely at the higher end game reserves. Bush walks are conducted by armed guides/rangers and will aim to avoid confrontations with dangerous animals by providing at the same time a great experience.
In cases of force majeure like for example a flood after extremely heavy rains or a fire, emergency procedures are in place for the safe evacuation of the guests.
Has a guest an accident or falls ill, medical assistance is available and guests can be flown out to the hospital for appropriate medical care.
In general all is done to secure the guests safety and if something unforeseen happens the staff is well trained and prepared to deal with the situation. The guest can help to be safe by following the rules and being conscious that he/she is in the bush with free roaming wild animals.
What a question! As if there could be any doubt about what an African safari offers for photographers, lion, leopard, elephant and more amazing wildlife and nature. But there is more.
Think about the landscapes of the Great Plains in Kenya and Tanzania, the vast savannas. The landscapes of the desert in Namibia and Botswana with possible aerial photography. Birdlife! Photographing birds from a Mokoro in the Okavango Delta or in the bush in Kruger Park. Incredible sunsets and sunrises, preferably with a marula tree or umbrella tree in front of the setting or rising sun ideally with a leopard in it. What about snow capped mountains and lakes with flamingos. And not to forget the colorful people of the Masai and Samburu. If this is not enough go under water and photograph the fish, whales, turtles and corals.
A safari is heaven for photography lovers. It makes one to want more and more and more.
Planning a safari leads always to the questions of costs and available funds. Often desires and reality do not match and compromises need to be made. That is not a bad thing as you are in a process of discovery and learning along the way what is really important to you to see and experience and your perfect African safari will fall into place eventually.
Be a savvy traveller and benefit from specials. They come with terms and conditions as one special is not to be combined with another, but optimizing the routing according to the specials saves you a lot of money you can spend on other activities or in the curio shop.
There are long stay discounts up to 30%, specials like Stay 4 Pay 3, free transfers and honeymoon specials with the bride paying 50% of the regular rate. You will find the better specials in low season. In peak season many special will not be valid. However ask, there is always something, but be aware that the periods of the best specials fill up availability quickly.
Imagine your usual holidays go to the sea and you enjoy watersports, especially diving. Now you decided to go on African safari, but you cannot let go your passion for diving. You don’t have to. Africa has the most amazing dive spots and fantastic coasts on the Indian and Atlantic Ocean. But it can be a tough question how to divide the available time and funds between safaris and diving. Not to mention the luggage. What to pack? There are tight luggage allowances for the safari flights and you need completely different things for diving than in the bush.
The luggage question can be solved easily. Your not-bush luggage can be stored at the ground handlers office where you collect it after your safari part is finished (or they bring it to you).
You should reserve a bigger part of the available funds for the safari. That will be necessary as the bush part costs more due to the remote location, included game drives, 4x4 transportation and possibly light aircraft flights. Hotel accommodation costs always less.
Time wise the diving should be seen as a beach extension for the safari, matching the allocation ratio of the funds. The beach follows the stay in the bush and is perfect to let the safari impressions settle. Doing it the other way around would somehow feel awkward.
If you decide to combine safari and diving try to avoid travelling with diving equipment. Rather rent it at the resorts. You will regret it having the diving equipment with you while travelling on safari is travelling light.
Happy wildlife safari travel above and under water!
The picture we usually have of a safari is people sitting on a 4x4 safari vehicle looking at animals. It looks like pretty inactive being driven around in a game reserve. It is more active as it looks, as the roads are bumpy and you are exposed to the elements, which is also tiring, but there are more active options one can choose to do during an African safari. Especially families will appreciate that as children get quickly bored with game drives.
Kenya is a great example for a great variety of activities that family will really enjoy. Climb on Mt. Kenya, do bush walks in the forests of Mt. Kenya, walk the Aberdare, do camel rides in the northern part of the country, do bush walks with the Samburu and Masai people, do horse riding, canoeing, boat rides, fishing, balloon rides. Visit communities, schools and plant a tree as part of a community project. And these are only activities in the bush regions of the country. The beaches offer just as much water born fun.
Still think a safari is sitting still on a vehicle?
Happy active African safaris! … and photography was not even mentioned!
Traveling in Africa requires some extra thoughts when it comes to getting around in a country and between countries. Distances are big, the infrastructure is mostly less developed or not available at all and driving at night is not recommended for several reasons.
When you plan an African safari in South Africa or Namibia self-drive is a good option, but do your homework with regards to rules of the road and the bush. In Botswana self-drive is an option, but be prepared for water and sand.
To be on the safe side, getting around by plane or arranged road transfer might be the better options. Light aircraft flights have their price, but there are areas like the Okavango Delta where they are essential to get to the best spots. You will also be faster and the bird view position provides stunning vistas and photography opportunities. Road transfer takes longer, but costs less, especially when travelling as a family.
Don’t try to be brave and too adventurous. Rather choose the safe option. Getting in around in Africa is different and is often misjudged.
We all know rainbows and the same principle applies to a moonbow, but it is rarely seen as it requires quite a combination of conditions. But there are several places in the world where moonbows are produced by spray of a waterfall and the Victoria Falls in Zambia/Zimbabwe are one of those places where you can see a moonbow. Only make sure you plan your African safari holiday between January and July as it needs high water levels to produce sufficient spray for the moonbow to appear.
Wikipedia: “A moonbow (also known as a lunar rainbow, black rainbow, white rainbow, lunar bow, or space rainbow) is a rainbow produced by light reflected off the surface of the moon (rather than from direct sunlight) refracting off of moisture in the air. Moonbows are relatively faint, due to the smaller amount of light reflected from the surface of the moon. They are always in the opposite part of the sky from the moon. Because the light is usually too faint to excite the cone color receptors in human eyes, it is difficult for the human eye to discern colors in a moonbow. As a result, they often appear to be white. However, the colors in a moonbow do appear in long exposure photographs. Few places in the world frequently feature spray moonbows. Such sites in the United States include several waterfalls in Yosemite National Park, California and Cumberland Falls, near Corbin, Kentucky. Victoria Falls, in Africa on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, is also widely known for spray moonbows.”
It is definitely a fantastic event for a photographic safari and challenging to get the picture right. It is one of the great sights and activities the Victoria Falls have to offer, a must see place when visiting Southern Africa.
Summer in southern Africa is December, January and February with high rising temperatures. It is hot during the day and warm during the night. It is wonderful to escape winter in the northern hemisphere and spend some warming up time in Africa for Christmas or New Year. African safaris at that time of the year have their own magic. It is green, lush and abundant in many ways. It is calving time for many animals with baby animals running around as wonderful picture perfect photography subjects. The warm temperatures allow relax time at the pool and the sundowner is especially refreshing after a game drive on a hot day.
Summer is also the time of rains, not constantly and not every day, but it can happen that you experience rain during a game drive. On an open game drive vehicle this is the moment the ponchos come out (they are available on the vehicles) and the game drive continues with yourself tucked warm and dry in your poncho while seeing the bush changing in the soft light the rainy air provides. For wildlife photography enthusiasts this is the moment of the best light for black and white photography.
On your safari in Kruger Park your main activities will be game drives in the park, trying to spot the Big 5. However there are lots of different things that you can do to enrich your African safari tour.
It is nice to have bush walks. That will give you a completely different perspective on wildlife and the bush. You will be part of their hierarchy and some will run from you and others won’t.
In the vicinity of Kruger are two possibilities to have interaction with elephants. One is Elephant Whisperer and the other one Elephant Sanctuary. Both have educational value and both offer elephant rides. It is a nice way to get up close with these amazing animals.
Another way to learn about wildlife and conservation is the Endangered Species Centre in Hoedspruit. Their focus is helping rare and endangered wildlife. Cheetah conservation is one of their core disciplines.
For the cultural insights it is worth visiting the Shangana Cultural Village, hosting a show performed by the Shangaan people. The Shangaan are the local people of the region and you can find them usual as trackers on the private game reserves. They are outstanding trackers and often find you the leopard you were so desperate to see.
Still think a safari is boring with sitting on the game drive vehicle all day? Only think of all the wonderful photography opportunities!
Whenever you plan a trip you intuitively wish to create a flow, a noiselessly experience of awe and joy. Sometimes you get it right first time and sometimes you need a second attempt for the same region to get the feeling right. Especially when the destination is in a different part of the world with a completely new environment, you have no experience with, it can be hard to create the flow. A very good example is an African safari in South Africa with the extension Victoria Falls and Cape Town.
It turns out that the best routing for the noiselessness flow is the Kruger Park – Victoria Falls –Cape Town itinerary. Why? This is hard to say. First of all it is always good to start with the safari and move forward to cities or beaches. It just feels right, like one needs some kind of less intense time after the safari experience to let all the deep impressions settle. Second, the logistics make more sense and support the flow.
But all that only works when the lodge/camp and plane seat availabilities allow that. If they make the ideal routing impossible consider alternative dates and accommodations or do a complete change of mind and reset your expectations to avoid disappointment and frustration.
Experience taught that when an itinerary falls into place effortless, it is exactly what you need for the best experience. Don’t fight it and think you need to push through the impossible. The flow starts already while planning. Surrender and your intuition will choose the right itinerary although you haven’t been there before.
When you want to contribute to wildlife conservation while being on African safari holiday, you can consider several options.
An indirect affect on wildlife will have the choice of your lodge or camp. The more eco-friendly your safari accommodation is the better for the wildlife. Small camps and lodges have also less impact on the animals, as less people will invade their natural habitat.
You can also visit endangered species centers and the entrance fee you pay will contribute to the good work these centers are doing. They look after injured wild animals, release them when they are better and do research to help endangered species like cheetahs.
In Kenya are African safaris available that focus on saving the elephant. In cooperation with the Scheldrick Wildlife Trust the safari guests visit the elephant orphanage in Nairobi privately and follow the path of the young rescued elephants during their safari until the release camps in Tsavo East. For each safari guest an elephant will be adopted. The contribution helps the trust saving small elephant babies that have lost their mother through poaching or other tragedies.
A pretty spectacular way in taking part in conservation are the so called “African vet safaris”. You will stay at a private game reserve and take part in animal immobilizations for treatments. You will not do the darting, but you will give a hand in handling the animal during treatment. It is an incredible experience and your safari booking pays for the expensive procedure.
There are also volunteer programs you can join to make a difference. There is lots to do, there are lots of opportunities to come up close with wildlife and to help them to survive.
One of the most spectacular sights on African safari in Southern Africa are the Victoria Falls and with it the Zambezi River. Visiting the falls is not only going there, seeing a waterfall, taking a photo and that’s it, there are lots of activities available at and around the falls.
There are guided Victoria Falls tours to start with. You will walk the falls on a path and see them from different angles. Depending on the amount of water the falls are carrying, you will see more or less from the rocks they are falling from.
Another opportunity to see the falls is from a helicopter. There are flights available from 12 minutes, which is enough to get a good view of them. Photographers might prefer a flight in a cesna with the door removed for clear pictures.
The brave ones might enjoy the bungee jumping from the so often photographed bridge at the falls. And with low water levels you can also swim in Devil’s Pool, right at the top of the falls, really only accessible with low water, otherwise you get swept over the rim and down the falls.
More water born activities are fishing, sundowner cruises, rafting and canoeing. The Zambezi is a majestic river and very beautiful.
Activities on land are a visit to a village, to a market, to town and also game drives in the surrounding game reserves. There is no room for boredom at the Victoria Falls and there is something for everybody. And the most beautiful activity is actually sitting at the Zambezi and looking over the river into the setting sun.
Savvy travelers will know that it is of importance to have a travel insurance that covers medical aid around the world and you definitely should have that insurance when going on African safari. You will be in very remote areas right in the African bush and you should also check, if your safari tour offer includes emergency evacuation. The emergency evacuation will not cover the actual medical costs, but it will cover the costs to bring you to a hospital for proper medical aid. Most of the tour operators offer that as a standard, but just check, if it is part of the included services.
Provide your African safari tour operator with an emergency contact in case something happens to you. You might be unconscious and not able to let the people know whom to call to bring you home or to take care of your personal belongings. Make a little card that is in your wallet and a note in your phone whom to contact in case you are travelling self-drive without a guide, just in case you get found and people want to help, but don’t know how.
If you are taking medication, make sure your have a sufficient supply of your medication with you while travelling. You might not be able to get the specific medication at the remote places you are going to. Have information on you about your medical condition that paramedics are able to help properly.
One of the smaller emergency situations can be lost luggage. Keep some clothes with you in your hand luggage to help you through the first days, in case that situation occurs.
And in general don’t try to be brave or thrill seeking in the bush. That will keep you out of problems and ensures a great safari adventure.
When you hear that somebody goes on African safari you imagine immediately lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant and rhino and people in 4x4 safari vehicles snapping away with their cameras. But what about the desert?
Botswana and Namibia are home to amazing deserts, the Namib and the Kalahari. Wildlife sightings in the desert are slightly different from game drives in the bush. First of all you start looking different. There are lots of desert adapted animals, but they are often small and very well camouflaged. The bigger mammals are mostly not in great numbers, unless you go to the Makgadikgadi Pan in Botswana during green season. You got to look for them, but when you see an Oryx walking the sand dunes of Sossusvlei you cannot find a better photographic subject than that. Its magical.
But the desert offers more. As mentioned in an earlier post, stargazing is one of the activities. There is no distraction from the light from settlements, the air is clear and just by lying down on your back on the desert floor you can watch the whole universe. Another great activity is quad biking. It is great fun to explore the desert that way and you can cover big distances without getting too exhausted. Guided walks are also a very nice thing to do. Walk the desert with a guide from the local tribe and you will be surprised what the desert has to offer. You would have never saw it yourself. And on top of all that comes the balloon ride with a champagne breakfast at the landing spot. Go with the wind in the best early morning light and capture the breathtakingly beautiful landscape with your camera. It is an utterly amazing experience.
Ready to visit the desert? Happy desert photo snapping!
Sleeping under the stars, nicely tucked in a warm and cozy duvet, fresh air to breath, and nothing but the stars above you, that is a night in a starbed.
Several African safari destinations offer starbeds, mainly at places where the stars are breathtakingly beautiful to see and no lion or leopards around to eat you while sleeping. Great locations are Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert in Namibia and the Mkgadikgadi Pan in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana. There are no disturbing lights of settlements, no pollution, the skies are clear and all that together lets the stars shine, that one would like to look at them for the entire night.
There is another location with starbeds on the Laikipia Plateau in Kenya called Loisaba and a few bush lodges in Botswana offer that as well. But in the bush it is only possible with guarding and in areas where is no Big Five wildlife.
It is a magical experience, an unforgettable night under the stars.
Howard Hillman is a New York based travel writer. He wrote thousands of pages of travel reviews and now he made the efforts to summarize the top 10 African safari mistakes.
It is quite a read, but can be helpful for your own African safari holiday planning. Some reflections might also make you smile.
From the blog:
1. Group tours If you book a group tour on less than a luxury or high-quality one, you risk suffering vehicle mates who incessantly talk, argue, tell bad jokes, irritatingly laugh, whatever. Crowding - Your vehicle may be crammed. Not only will this be uncomfortable, it will obstruct your panoramic view while seated.
Lower-quality guides - Group tour driver-guides are generally less friendly, accommodating, articulate and knowledgeable than private tour safari guides. They are more likely to recite dull memorized spiels instead of spontaneously tailored commentary.
Undesirable vehicle mates - You risk suffering travellers who, for example, incessantly talk, argue, tell bad jokes, or irritatingly laugh.
2. Cost Spending too little is a common safari mistake. Your adventure is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so you could later regret it if you skimp. When planning your adventure, make the most of it. Skimping - A safari is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so you could later regret it if you skimp. When planning your safari, make the most of it. While we’ve found that some travelers go beyond their doable budget, most do the opposite.
Rate range - Some travellers have only a hazy idea of safari rates. To give you a rough idea of them, I list below current safari-tour prices. They are the typical per-person-per-day rates based on double occupancy for the high season (and will vary by locale). Low-season prices are about 25% lower.
For packaged bare basic camping safaris, plan on US$150 to US$200. For packaged mid-range lodge or camping safaris, count on US$250 to US$400. For packaged luxury lodges and camps, expect a US$450 to US$650 charge. For a private tour safari for two people, increase the packaged tour prices by 25 to 33% – and for a foursome, by 10 to 20%.
What’s included - Learn ahead of time exactly what’s included before you book. Normally, these are covered by the rate: - Accommodations - Meals - Game drives - Park fees - Lodge/camp transfers
And these normally are not: - Tips - Laundry - Alcohol - Phone calls - International airfare
Different safari operators have different inclusion and exclusion policies. Always check first.
3. Timing During the middle of the day, many mammals take shelter in the bushes and tall grasses. Early morning and late afternoon are the best game-viewing times. Best & worst - Early morning and late afternoon are the best game-viewing times. During the middle of the day, many mammals are hard to spot because they take shelter in the bushes and tall grasses.
Late sleepers & pool lovers – Safari-goers who sleep late and head off late on their morning game drives literally miss a lot of what they paid a lot to see. The same is true for those who return early from their afternoon game drives to take a dip in the lodge’s swimming pool.
Animal behavior – Although a full moon is romantic, its brightness can alter both the predator’s and prey’s normal behavior. This makes it more difficult to spot wildlife on night drives.
Going on an ill-paced safari tour -Too much, too little - Some tours cram in too much (or offer too little) game viewing in a given number of days. Analyze the itinerary.
Not going on a safari if you have only several days to spare - Better to see than not at all – A long safari is obviously better than a short one. But it is also true that a short one is better than no safari. If you are on a business trip in, for instance, Dar es Salaam and have several days to spare for a safari, go for it. You may never have the opportunity again.
4. Vehicle type A tour in a minivan may make you feel like a sardine in a can – and your ride will be bumpy and your view, obscured.
Going on a safari in a minivan instead of in a four-wheel-drive safari vehicle: Minivan tours – One will save you money. However, you’ll feel like a sardine in a can – and your field of vision will be noticeably obscured.
Jarring ride – Moreover, a safari normally requires many several-hour-long rides down bumpy, rutted dirt roads. This will prove quite uncomfortable to passengers because while the suspension systems of Land Rovers and Land Cruisers are built to handle the jolting bounces, those of minivans are not.
Incongruous experience - Being on safari in a minivan does not create an “Out of Africa” feeling.
Driving your own vehicle on a safari or renting one: Penny wise, pound foolish – What you save in money usually does not compensate for the downsides:
Your lack of expertise – A knowledgeable guide or guide-driver is essential for getting the most out of your trip. He knows from years of experience where to find the rare animals. He teaches you insider insights. Without him, you would likely see, learn and experience comparatively little.
Misplaced focus - Your attention will be focused mainly on driving, not on looking for wildlife or catching up on your safari guidebook.
Wrong turns – You could get lost.
Emergency repairs – You could have a mechanical breakdown in the middle of nowhere.
Vehicle damage – Car damage caused by terribly bumpy, rutted roads could be costly.
5. Guides and drivers People who drive their own vehicles miss out. Much of their attention is focused on driving, not on looking for wildlife.
Automatically blaming your guide for not spotting all the major animals - Some wildlife is not easy to spot – Wildlife doesn’t appear on cue. If the trained and sharp eyes of a nearby predator are unable to spot a camouflaged animal or bird, then how can we expect the less endowed eyes of your guide (even with binoculars) to do so?
Animal count - Don’t judge your guide just on how many different animals and birds he spotted. Wildlife is not confined in a zoo (on safari you are the one in the cage – the vehicle).
Under tipping your guide and driver
The need to tip app – Most safari guides and drivers receive meager wages. They depend on tips for their livelihood.
Tipping guidelines – Seasoned travellers tip their safari guides (or guide-drivers) approximately $7 to $20 per day per person, depending on their guides’ overall performances and the size of their parties. Tip the driver about $5 to $10 per day. If you are on a packaged tour, ask the tour operator for its recommendation.
Not considering the possibility of having a guide-driver instead of a guide and driver: Benefits either way – There are strong benefits in paying extra to have a separate guide and driver instead of a single guide-driver.
However, if there will be only 2 to 4 people in your vehicle, be at least aware of the several benefits in using a solo guide-driver:
Use of front passenger seat – The guide occupies the seat next to the driver. This is a choice place for viewing as you drive through the game reserves. If you have a combined driver-guide, you can alternate the use of that front seat with your vehicle mates.
Knowledge level – True, a guide specialist is usually (but not always) more apt to be more knowledgeable than a driver-guide. However, the difference in his knowledge may be valuable to only someone interested in learning academic details.
Cost – You will save money, sometimes a substantial amount.
6. Health and safety Some visitors forget to pack eye drops. Carry them, particularly if you wear contact lenses. Air carries fine-particle dust.
Worrying that lions will jump into your vehicle
It’s extremely unlikely - You are more likely to be in an automobile accident back home than being attacked by a lion. Unless a lion’s traditional food (game) is scarce, it will seldom seek human meat, for various reasons, including the following:
Odor - We humans smell awful to lions – so do the gas fumes of your safari vehicle.
We’re not a menu priority - The flesh of safari animals like eland, wildebeests and wart hogs is considerably meatier and more abundant than that of humans in safari parks. It’s also tastier.
Provocation - In rare cases when a lion does attack humans in a game reserve, it is almost always because the beast was provoked or cornered.
Exception to the rule – Over the last few decades in Tanzania, lions have ended the lives of over 500 villagers, herders and farmers outside the animal-rich safari reserves. The primary reason is that the population of the animals such as eland and zebras that lions traditionally eat is quite low (due to hunting by the natives) in those human-inhabited areas. Hungry, the lions attack humans and their cattle.
Be escorted at night – If you are instructed to call the main lodge for an employee to escort you between your cottage or tent and main lodge building at night, do it. Sometimes unescorted guests are knocked down, trampled, or at least severely frightened by elephants and other wild animals that pass through the grounds in the dark.
Stay in your vehicle - Don’t get out of your private vehicle if the reserve forbids it. You don’t know what might be lurking in the bushes.
Not bringing sunglasses, sunscreen, eyedrops and mosquito repellent: Sunglasses and sunscreen – You will be out on game drives for hours at a time – and the bare safari earth intensely reflects the sun’s rays. Protect your eyes (by wearing sunglasses that effectively block ultraviolet rays) and sunscreen (SPF rating of 15 or higher).
Eye drops – Pack them, particularly if you wear contact lenses. The safari air carries fine-particle dust.
Malaria medication – Take it. Normally, for it to be effective, you need to start the preventive medication a week or two before your arrival.
Mosquito repellant - Mosquitoes are the chief source of malaria (and dengue fever), so use a good repellent, one containing the ingredient DEET. For further protection, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts from after 3 p.m. and before 10 a.m.
Bush dinner germs
Sanitizer gel - In bush dinners and sundowners, you are in a wild setting, usually far from your lodge or camp. There will be no faucets for washing your hands – and not every event sets up a small table with soap, bowl and hot-water pitcher. So always carry a small bottle of hand-sanitizer gel.
7. Tents Some travelers book a budget tent campsite out of a romantic notion that it would be adventuresome. If you don’t sleep well, you will doze during game drives.
Confusing the “tented camp ” with the “campsite” category
Different definitions - “Campsite” accommodations are spartan while “Tented camps” have at least a moderate level of comfort – and some are luxurious.
Staying in a basic campsite for the wrong reason
Undesirable featuress – A typical basic campsite has many drawbacks: Small, cramped tents (some with little or no standing room). Uncomfortable cots and chairs. Cold showers. Foul outhouses.
The only option for some – Such sacrifices make sense to those who truly cannot afford to spend a little more for better accommodations – it’s better to go on a basic campsite safari than none at all.
Nonsensical for others – Sadly, some people who can afford more choose a basic campsite tour out of a misguided romantic notion. They think it would be fun to “rough it”. They end up being heavy-eyed and tired during their long daily game drives, which are the underlying reason they flew thousands of miles to go on a safari.
Not realizing that tented camps can be luxurious
Mid-market tented camps – They are a world apart from a basic campsite. They are clean and comfortable – and the staff does all the chores (seldom so in basic tent camps).
Luxury tented camps - The tents are designer furnished, the service polished and professional, and the food well above par.
Being unfamiliar with walking safari camps
A memorable happening - A walking safari is one of my favorite safari experiences – and you will probably relish one, too. Consider:
You’re in the wild - As the name suggests, you hike in the wilderness populated with lions, elephants, and more. However, these outings are safer than they might seem.
Quality camping - Although you sleep in a traditional safari-style tent, they are large – and the bed is big and comfortable. Service and guide quality are luxury level.
Nightly encounter with nature - You smell the wilderness and hear the wildlife sounds at night in your tent. And sometimes passing four-legged visitors brush against your tent, magnifying the safari experience.
8. Booking Many visitors select safari booking websites carelessly. While most websites are reliable and trustworthy, some go in and out of business, leaving customers in the lurch.
Booking without first vetting
Don’t take a risk - Never book with a budget-safari category operator or agent without first thoroughly checking it out. Incompetent and unscrupulous operators outnumber the reputable ones in that category. Book with the wrong one and you could possibly:
- Face departure delays, sometimes measured in days - Have an inept or uncaring guide - Ride in a crowded, run-down safari vehicle that breaks down in the middle of nowhere - Camp out under conditions worse than promised - Pay for extras that are normally part of a safari tour price - Lose your investment
In contrast, virtually all high-end operators are reliable and trustworthy. The same is true for most (but not all) mid-range operators.
Best bets – It’s generally safest to book your safari tour through your local travel agent or directly with the safari operator via its website.
Safari-booking websites – Hundreds of safari-booking websites exist. Be aware that while most are reliable and trustworthy, some go in and out of business, leaving customers in the lurch. Select with care.
Deal with the best – The best safari operators are usually the most successful. Because they have healthy revenues, they can afford new vehicles, good maintenance and competent guides. Financially struggling firms are more apt to use old, ill-maintained vehicles and hire rookie guides who learn their trade literally at your expense.
Booking after you arrive
The cost of waiting – I recommend you book your safari before arriving in a safari country – and if you are going on a high-season safari, do it months ahead of time. If you don’t pre-book and the vehicles and driver-guides of all the reliable operators are fully booked (it happens), you may have to hang around town (no fun) for several days or more waiting for a tour opening. Or, in desperation, you end up booking with a disreputable outfit.
9. Clothing Some people nowadays wear the cliche big-game-hunter safari outfit. Those who do get deserved smirks from the rest.
Wearing white, dark, blue, striking, or camouflage clothing
Fine-dust air - The safari plains are dusty. White or dark clothing quickly shows the accumulated fine dust in the air that settles on your clothes. Khaki is the best color because it is dust hued.
Avoid blue - Blue attracts the tsetse fly. Its bite is painful and could inflict dengue fever, a form of sleeping sickness.
Don’t alarm the animals - Large, asymmetrical patterned clothes can distress animals.
Shun camouflage clothes – You could be arrested in some countries for donning camouflage clothing if you are not a member of the military.
Dressing up “Hollywood safari” style
What not to wear – If you already bought a “safari wardrobe”, you might not like what I’m going to say. Nowadays, very few safari-goers wear the cliched big-game-hunter safari outfit. Those who do get deserved smirks from the rest.
What to wear – Today’s safari dress code is comfortable, everyday clothing – the kind you would wear to a casual country-club barbecue.
Not dressing for the climate
Seasons are reversed – Unlike in the northern hemisphere, June, July and August are the coldest months in the southern hemisphere.
Climate difference – The climates of Kenya and Tanzania are significantly different than South Africa’s because of geography. Kenya and Tanzania are on or near the equator while South Africa is on the southern tip of Africa.
Kenya and Tanzania – The Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Masai Mara game reserves can be chilly at night. The land rises as high as 2200 meters (over a mile) above sea level. Pack a light sweater and jacket as part of your safari clothing wardrobe.
South Africa – It will be even chillier at night in the cold months in the Kruger National Park. Dress in layers. You may need gloves and a hat in addition to a thick sweater, especially for the late evening and early morning
10. Cameras Many visitors shoot photos when their vehicle is idling. Unless their camera or lens has a quality image stabilizer, their photos won’t be sharp. It’s best to wait until the driver turns off the engine.
Blowing safari photo ops by being unaware of these fundamentals
Best hours - Safari shots taken in the early morning and late afternoon hours usually produce the best photos of the animals and landscapes. Mid-day photos often lack vivid colors and needed contrast.
Avoid camera shake – For sharp photos, don’t shoot when your vehicle is moving on a rough road or terrain. And unless you have a good image stabilizer, don’t expect crisp photos even when the vehicle is starting or idling.
Avoid telephoto shake – You can also prevent fuzzy photos by not using a telephoto lens in greater magnification than your practiced skill in holding the camera steadily.
Camera cleanliness – Keep your camera and lens sealed when not in use – and bring a lens cleaning kit. Fine dust is normal on a safari and could cause your camera’s circuitry or mechanics to malfunction.
Know your camera – Pre-test a new camera and master its basic features before the trip. It’s too late for this education on a safari.
Memory – Take enough digital memory. My rule of thumb for safaris: Estimate how many shots you think you will take. Then, double that number – likely you’ll need it. Locally bought memory for your camera is costly and sometimes unavailable or defective.
Batteries – Bring backup batteries for your camera. And bring a battery charger and adapter that is compatible with the local current and electrical outlets.
African safari holidays are active holidays and can be exhausting. People with spine and neck problems should be careful as the game drives are on rough and bumpy roads. That might not be a good thing to do with such a condition. In any case, for people who are on a medical treatment it is strongly recommended to consult the physician.
In general elderly and disabled people can go on African safari, as long as their physician does not advice otherwise. There are steps that make the getting in and out of the game vehicle easier and many lodges have wheelchairs to make the getting around in the lodge easier as well. There is always help as one is not alone and if necessary, staff can be booked for help.
But check in advance what help is available at the lodges and camps you want to book. Rather book flight transfers than road transfers. You will also be sure that the lodge has an airstrip in case of an emergency.
Luckily the amazing safari adventures are available also for people with health limitations and it gives them access to a strong healing source, the African bush with its amazing wildlife.
This is not a silly question. The sanitary facilities on African safari holidays can be a major concern. It is essential to feel comfortable and the picture one might have from Africa can be worrying. But there is no reason to worry.
The standards of the bathrooms of African safari accommodations are similar to western world standards and they vary depending on the accommodation class, just like anywhere else. The 5 star safari lodge has usually huge bathrooms with bathtubs, shower, outdoor shower, basins, flush toilets and lots of space. With a lower star rating the bathrooms get smaller and more essential, but they still have a shower and flush toilets.
Campsites will also be all right, but get some more information beforehand when you want to stay on public campsites. Their standards can vary quite a lot. It also matters in which African country your are and where in that country. But that affects rather the camping quality than the lodges and hotels. If you have doubts ask people who have been there or check on Tripadvisor.
There are also bathrooms that are always and everywhere the same, the big ones, the bush. They might be used while being on a game drive and going back to the lodge is not an option.
However you feel about the topic, don’t be shy and ask if you have questions. There is nothing silly about it.
Finding your perfect African safari depends on many questions and one of them is the way of getting around. You can choose between fly-in safaris, road transfers and self-drive safaris. The latter is most likely the most adventurous and should be considered carefully.
South Africa and Namibia are the easiest countries for a self-drive African safari. They have a good road infrastructure and self-drive in the parks is also well to do even for first time Africa visitors.
Botswana is already a bit different. While you can drive with a normal car in South Africa and Namibia, in Botswana you will need a 4x4 vehicle. Be prepared to get stuck at least once, as you drive through water and sand. Listen well to the instructions when you pickup the vehicle and take a GPS with you. Do not go alone when you are inexperienced, go rather as a group.
Self-drive in East Africa should only be done by experienced African safari travellers. The road infrastructure is not that developed as in Southern Africa, you will encounter road blocks and other obstacles while going to the nature reserves. In the reserves like for example the Masai Mara, navigation can be very difficult. A GPS will not help, because the Masai Mara has so many roads and they are not mapped on the system. Also for security reasons self-drive in Eastern Africa is not recommended for inexperienced travellers. Don’t get too brave.
If you are insecure about what you should do, talk to people with experience and they will help you making a decision that will allow you having a wonderful African safari holiday.
This might sound like a silly question, but it is far from that. The luggage allowances on light aircraft flight transfers to your African safari camps and lodges are pretty tight. And imagine you are traveling for 2 or even three weeks and you got 15 kg for all, inclusive hand luggage. Then the laundry service at the camps and lodes becomes essential.
The laundry service is usually very good. They collect your laundry in the morning and aim to have it back in your room the same evening. A delay can only occur when the weather is wet and it takes longer to dry, but usually they are really quick to serve also the guests that are staying only for 2 nights. Also the quality is good. You get back your t-shirts and shorts nice and clean and ironed. After your safari you wish to have the service at home.
Travelling with the iPad has its advantages. The screen is bigger to search the map or the Internet or to check emails. It has also some practical benefits when being on African safari.
For photography enthusiasts it is a nice tool to upload images quickly to share them with fellow travellers, to reflect on the day and to empty your camera’s memory card. But be careful, there are only adapters for SD cards for iPad. Bigger memory cards would need more power and that does not work with the iPad.
Check before you go on your safari what exactly you can use your iPad for and rather bring a laptop when you want to work seriously with images.
Another great benefit of having the device with you is the possibility to look up information on the wildlife you are seeing and the area you are in. It can increase the educational value of your safari.
Make the best of the possibilities of modern technology and have more benefits from your travel experiences.
In the past this question would have had a simple answer, there is no Internet, but that has changed. Nowadays many safari lodges and camps have even Wi-Fi, but there are still camps that want to deliver the ultimate African safari experience without cell phone signal and without Internet.
Internet in safari camps and lodges is satellite based Internet and bandwidth is usually not very good. Recon that it is pretty slow when you try to use it at times when everybody is back from the game drive and wants to check the emails.
Some camps also charge for the Wi-Fi, often in packages of e.g. 30 minutes. They can be quickly gone when you have the bad luck of Internet rush hour and it is very slow. All he 5 star accommodations usually do not charge and offer Wi-Fi even in the room. Tented camps have the wireless usually in their main area.
Often cell phone signal is weak or instable. You can switch on your phone while you are on game drive (but set it on silent!) and while driving around there will be areas with good signal to fetch your messages and you can read them back in the camp.
Ask when you book your safari, if the lodge or camp has Internet, if you rely on it. Just to make sure you make the right choice.
The first that comes to mind when hearing the word African safari are the images of 4x4 jeeps driving into the setting sun with guests having their photo cameras ready to photograph the incredible landscape or the Big Cat that hopefully turns up right in front of the sunset for the best of the year image.
That is one version of a safari, but there are more. Walking on African safari is a very special way of exploring the bush and wildlife. One is not on game drives, but walks a bush trail and pitches tent every evening where the trail brought you. The luxury version of walking safaris is with a team pitching camp while you are still on your trail exploring the bush and making sure all is done with the shower ready when you arrive.
Walking in the bush means being part of the bush and wildlife will look at you as part of their hierarchy. That can lead to interesting encounters and is highly educational.
A walking safari for wildlife photography is not ideal as it is very tough to carry the heavy equipment through the bush, but a bush walk can also be done as part of a regular safari, just to get the feeling.
Going on African safari means in the first place that you will be on game drives to see the wildlife in the African bush and if you are a photography enthusiast, to photograph the Big 5. You will be on the game drive vehicle, a 4x4 jeep, and the animals are roaming free in the wild and they are wild. If you would step out of the vehicle they would either run off or attack when they feel threatened. That is not the animal interaction this post is about.
As a part of your African safari you can visit wildlife sanctuaries where you can learn about conservation and experience animal interactions. That can vary from an elephant ride to being with cheetah or endangered birds. The choice of the sanctuary should be made carefully as there are different levels in the commercialization of the experiences. Look out for the more conservation serious places where they mainly take care of injured animals and work with the endangered species.
It is of great educational value to learn about the wildlife, the efforts to protect it and the help you might be able to provide, and if its only by spreading the word through your images. And of course, it is fantastic to touch an elephant or even ride on one.
Christmas in the northern hemisphere means winter, in many countries snow and cold, short days, candlelight, lots of food and time with the family. Celebrating Christmas on African safari means in many ways the same, being with the family, lots of food, candlelight, but very different weather and surroundings.
The bush lodges and camps do great efforts to make Christmas in the bush special. They often organize surprises like cultural dances, choirs and special menus. Candles are lit and the places are nicely decorated. It might sound like Christmas at home, but it is not the same. Celebrating Christmas in the middle of the African savanna, surrounded by the Big 5, with the sound of the bush while having your Christmas dinner is very different. For some it is the ultimate place to be for Christmas and others suddenly miss home, the snow and the cold. It is a deeply emotional experience and even the most skeptical admit that there is nothing to top a leopard calling in the surrounding bush while you enjoy your Christmas dinner.
Happy merry safari Christmas! Imagine the pictures!
Planning your perfect African safari comes with practical questions. They go from what kind of safari accommodation works for me, what mode of transport is convenient, what health precautions do I need to take, what photo camera equipment to I need to bring to eventually what to wear on safari.
The choice of clothes for your African safari is not the least concern. The choice is crucial to feel comfortable in all possible situations. Get information on the weather at your time of travel. In general it is good to work in layers, from t-shirt over fleece to light rain jacket or even warm jacket for winter in southern Africa. Mind the colors. Choose natural colors like khaki and beige. Flashy colors attract insects and scare off wildlife. Bring a sunhat and closed shoes for on the game drives and flip flops for in the camp. Choose the micro fiber fabrics for really hot areas and rainy times. They are light, very pleasant when its hot and dry very quickly when they get wet.
Don’t worry about evening clothes. On safari the safari outfit is good for everything. You only might like to change into something different once a day, just to feel different. And yes, bring your swimming costume. Most of the camps have a pool! You can always go to a good safari outfitter. Their staff is usually very knowledgeable and they have the right clothes to feel comfortable on African safari holidays.
People who have been on African safari say, that there is something special about it and that they want to come back again and again. What is it that makes people feel like that, what is it that gets under your skin and doesn’t let you go anymore?
Maybe it is that untamed nature, the free roaming wildlife, that driving a road and suddenly comes an elephant or looks a giraffe at you. That feeling of being part of all that, connected as we probably were thousands of years ago. Animals everywhere and not concrete and traffic, silence and real darkness, exposed to the elements and a fascinating way of living in comfortable safari camp in the middle of nowhere. Maybe the way we live when being on African safari is the way we would naturally live, if there weren’t the demands of nowadays times. Maybe we feel like being back to our source and cannot get enough from drinking from it as it makes us strong and energetic. However, there is a magic when standing on the same ground as the leopard 60 meters away from you, who decided to walk through your bush dinner arrangements, ignoring everyone just like cats do. It makes you feel real and it is almost touching that nature just accepts you as part of it and doesn’t mind that you usually sit indoors behind a computer.
Maybe that is also a reason people love to photograph a lot during safaris, to capture just that feeling and moment. As a guest said only recently, every time I see the pictures from my safari they make me smile.
When you want to go on African safari to the Kruger National Park you will picture yourself in a lodge or safari camp inside the park. That is the desired accommodation as one is already in the bush, ready to depart on game drives. It is also very exciting to stay in an unfenced camp with the Big 5 around. Wildlife photography lovers will walk with their camera always ready to shoot and there is nothing nicer than watching elephants bathing in front of your veranda. But there can be a good reason to choose the accommodation outside the park. Budget.
The safari accommodations outside the park cost significant less than inside the park. In the example of Kruger Park there are plenty of guesthouses and hotels just a short drive away from park entrance gates. The downside to it is, that the drives go over tar roads and that there are no elephants bathing in the pool, but it saves money and the game drives are conducted inside the park with open 4x4 vehicles.
So, yes, you can stay in accommodation outside the park on African safaris and it is still be a lovely safari holiday. By doing that you might give yourself a couple of extra days and maybe even a beach extension or a visit to Cape Town.
For photography enthusiasts the extra available budget might go into extra photography gear, to come home with even more beautiful wildlife images.
It is less than two months to Christmas and if you start now planning your African safari for the festive season, you might have a problem.
Planning your perfect African safari means that you have clear ideas what you want to experience, how you want your camp to look like and which safari destination you want to visit. You put lots of time and efforts into research and now your vision should become real. There is only one problem; you are late. Christmas is peak season and availabilities are tight. If you want your safari to be away from the crowds in the authentic setting of a small luxury tented camp you will have to adjust your expectations. The small camps and lodges are fully booked. You might find here and there a private mobile camping safari available, but that will come at a cost. Otherwise getting space at a bigger lodge is already luck.
So, what to do now? Which parts of your safari planning are flexible and less important? What do you really need to be happy on your African safari? If you are a photography lover you might find it important to have space and privacy on game drives and you can cope with accommodation at a bigger lodge. That opens the option for travelling with a private vehicle, using it also for the game drives and staying at a bigger lodge or camp, where you can easier find availabilities.
If you want to see certain sights like for example the Ngorongoro Crater, but the three lodges at its rim are fully booked, consider taking accommodation outside the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area and drive into the park every day. That can be done easily, as there are accommodations available just a short drive away. The same method can be applied when the accommodations available inside the park are too pricy with their peak season rates.
Stick to the core of what is really important to you, the part that makes your safari perfect and try to be flexible with the rest. If the adjustments work, go for it and have a magical Christmas in the bush. If not, postpone your trip, but probably not as long as to Christmas next year.
The times that an African safari was only a dream for many people have passed. Transport has become easy and airfares have become affordable. The African countries have developed and even self-drive is possible on a couple of top-rated safari destinations. The African safari dream can come true!
That does not mean all is easy now. While dreaming, so many dreams have evolved and so many destinations are desired, that panic can hit when the actual moment has come to go. How to put all the dreams into 2 weeks safari? When the available budget is high enough one could see all great wildlife areas in Southern and East Africa within the two weeks, just by flying everywhere, but it would not honor the great places at all. There needs to be time at every destination to really tune in and enjoy it. Choices need to be made. Go for the most recurring safari dream and start researching about the destination and the available options. Read, talk to people, search the Internet and often coincidents help to make the decision. The lodge that is just not available at your travel date or the flight connection that is fully booked. You might get help that way in your decision process and the choices that fall easy into place are most likely the ones that work best for your dream African safari. Don’t try to fight them, embrace them. Use images from destinations, lodges and camps to reassure yourself in your decision. You look with your heart at the images, the same source as your dreams, so you will feel what the right choice is.
From there it is really easy. Book, go and enjoy. Live your African safari dream and get the pictures you always wanted.
Kenya is mostly known for the Masai Mara and the Great Migration of the wildebeest. The Masai Mara is definitely a top-rated African safari destination and not only for Kenya, but for entire safari Africa. The Great Plains of the Masai Mara are the northern tip of the Serengeti and host to the probably most spectacular event on the African safari calendar, the Mara River crossing of the big herds.
A wonderful African photographic safari destination is also Amboseli National Park. Amboseli lies on the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro and is home to a big elephant population. The arid moon like landscape with its swamps and as backdrop Mt. Kilimanjaro is fantastic for photography.
From Amboseli it is only a short drive to Tsavo West National Park, a volcano landscape with stunning views on Mt. Kilimanjaro, intense colors of the soil, wide open views and awesome wildlife. The volcano ground and mountains create the special character of Tsavo West and it can be very hot, making one feel like being in an oven.
Divided only by the road Nairobi – Mombasa, Tsavo East is even bigger and a great home for the wildlife. Tsavo East does not have many roads and the wildlife has therefore plenty of undisturbed space. That does not mean that the sightings are not good, they are, as the park is wildlife rich and the roads that are there are just enough. Tsavo East is also the location where the elephant orphans from the Scheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi are released into the wild.
Another top-rated safari destination in Kenya is Samburu, far away from Tsavo in the northern part of Kenya. Samburu is also host to a big elephant population and a breathtakingly beautiful landscape. Due to its location north of the equator, it has several species of wildlife that are not found south of the equator. Samburu is fascinating and intensely beautiful, however it can also be an intense and tough safari experience.
All mentioned safari destinations are ideal for wildlife photography, offering great sightings and stunning landscapes. At least one of them should be part of every Kenyan safari itinerary.
Food can be of a concern for safari travellers as it could cause a health problem. But in general the food at safari lodges and camps is very good and of international standard, sometimes with an African theme. Many lodges offer buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner with a great variety of choices. Often per day changing specialties like pancake for dessert or a dinner with on demand-grilled meat, fish and vegetables are offered. Efforts are done to provide balanced meals and a variety of food. Most camps and lodges also accommodate pretty much all dietary requirements, except kosher meals. They can only be provided when the camp or lodge is not too far away from a city with the necessary facilities.
Many guests don’t dare to eat raw salad to avoid stomach problems or others take a zip of whisky in the morning to avoid the same problem. Eating raw food can be anywhere a risk, but on African safaris the water can be the cause of the problem. Do not drink tap water unless otherwise advised, also don’t use it to brush your teeth.
In general be prepared that the food is great and that you are in real danger of gaining weight, because of sitting on the game vehicle all the time, getting appetite by being outdoors and therefore eating a lot.
That might sound like a silly question in times of Internet, but it might not. How do you know what makes an African safari destination top-rated?
There is Trip Advisor as a source of information where people post their feedback on accommodations, overall travel experiences and tourist attractions. The feedback you find there can give you an idea about the quality of the accommodation, but also about the overall experience on the game drives. People often share what animals they saw and when you see that most of the guests had great wildlife sightings, it should be a good safari destination.
Another valuable source of information are books and travel guides. Professional travel writers write them with lots of experience in all parts of Africa and make them a reliable recourse for your travel planning.
You can also search blogs for information on African safari destinations and you will find professional and hobby travel writers with useful information and loads of images.
Last but not least talk to people. Find people that have been to Africa and also talk to your tour operator. Safari tour operators have the insider knowledge and experience to be good advisors. Have also a look at their websites for guest feedback. It will give you an idea what safaris were favored and loved by the guests.
When you taped into all these different resources and all talk in praise about the same destinations, then you know what the top-rated African safari destinations are and you can be assured of a great photographic safari.
African safari accommodations in general have electricity, but not necessarily in the tent. Usually the rooms in lodges have power sockets in the rooms, but not all tents in tented camps have. Some tented camps, even luxury-tented camps, have power sockets in the lounge area where the guests can recharge their electrical devices. Mostly there are enough sockets to have always access to electricity, but it demands a bit of planning. When you for example want to charge the battery of your camera for the next morning game drive, bring the charger with you for dinner and let it there for the night. It is very interesting how used we are to the power coming out of the wall, everywhere and any time, but when you are in the bush, you realize power needs to be generated and in many camps this still happens with their own generator or solar power.
Check also before you go what adapters you need to recharge your devices. Some lodges and camps provide adapters, but not all.
When you go on African photographic safaris you should be prepared for all this. When you go on mobile safaris it is even useful to have an inverter to recharge while driving.
How you do you African safari bookings depends on how you found your perfect safari holiday. It is one way to go via the Internet and find your safari tour operator there or the traditional way via the travel agent close to home. Lets focus on the online safari booking as it is what we do nowadays from our computer and in the future probably from our smart watch.
When you found your African safari, talk to the tour operator how the procedure is and how you can pay. Use also the Internet to google a bit about the operator to see what else is on the net about them. When you intent to pay with credit card, ask for the transaction fees. They can be quite high depending on the payment facility provider. Rather go for wire transfer as it is safe and has only small transaction fees. Be kind and don’t let the other side pay your bank fees. They will have to pay their own to.
When the financial part is settled check your insurance. Do you have travel insurance and what does it cover? A medical cover is absolutely recommended and so is the cancellation cover. Many people have their travel insurance covered with their credit card. Check what conditions come with it and if you need to make at least a part of the safari payment with the card to have coverage.
Travelling to Africa requires vaccinations and precautions e.g. for malaria. Talk to your general practitioner for advice. Get yourself repellent to be protected when the bugs come out in the evening and make sure you have protection form the sun.
When all that is set and you have your voucher in your hand, it is time to focus on the more important things like what to wear on safari, what photo equipment to bring, what and how to pack and more of these essential questions. Now enjoy the fun of safari travel!
Going on African safari is a different venture than visiting the Costa Del Sol or Paris. You will travel to wildlife areas where the Big Five roam free, the camps have no fences and different rules of survival apply than in the western world. This kind of travel requires an operator that understands what you are looking for and has also a feeling which mode of travel will suit you best. When you haven’t been to Africa you will not know how you will feel in the bush, with the climate, the animals and the accommodations. To avoid that you feel uncomfortable and unhappy during your African safari holiday, you should do efforts to find the perfect operator for your needs.
A starting point is Google search. About a million safari tour operators will roll out. Now have a look at their websites, also the ones on page 2 and 3. You will feel immediately if the website appeals to you or not. Dismiss the ones that don’t appeal to you and stick to the ones that do. Now read a bit on the websites what kind of tours they offer and where. If this is a match, send an email with the questions and ideas you have. Now wait for the reply. If that takes too long (more than 2 days), it might not be a good sign. When the response arrives look at it the same way as with the websites. You will feel rather than reason how the operator is a match for you. Trust your gut! Just like you do with people you meet in person. Ask to be called. Chat on the phone and ask your question. By doing that you will know even better how to decide.
You might end up booking your safari with the one that did not have the cheapest tour, but it feels right. And it usually proofs to be right.
And don’t forget your special interests like wildlife photography. Not all tour operators that say on their website they are great in photographic safaris, also are. Some only follow the fashion and demand of the market although they do not have the specific knowledge or experience to be the right partner.
However, no worries, trust your intuition and you will do great.
When you go on African safaris you should talk to your physician for advice with regards to malaria protection and necessary vaccinations. Pregnant women can go on safari even without vaccinations and malaria protection as long as they visit non yellow fever and malaria free areas.
Malaria protection is always a discussion issue as there is no guaranteed protection and the tablets available can have unpleasant side effects. Choosing the right travel time and using repellents can be just as good. It is a personal question and it is your personal decision what to do.
In most of the lodges and camps the water from the tap is no drinking water. You will be advised by he lodge. Use the bottled water provided by the lodges to avoid stomach problems that can spoil your safari. If you want to be absolutely sure you do not get in touch with the water, do eat only cooked vegetable.
Some guests take a sip of whisky in the morning for the stomach, but I’m not sure, if this is the only reason for having a drink.
However, being on safari is great and you should thoroughly enjoy it. The food is usually very good and plenty.
Besides the necessary funds to go on photographic safari, some photo equipment and the post-production equipment, there are other meaningful resources for a successful wildlife photography safari.
Make sure you do the right planning. Is the routing all right to avoid time loss? Do I visit the right safari parks to see what I want to see? Am I trying to do too much within the time I have? Read about it in books and on the Internet. Talk to people with experience and most of all don’t push yourself too far in terms of what you can all do on one safari day. Relax. A day on safari is not like a day rushing around in a city. You can rush, but it will not get you anywhere. Time is different in the bush.
Read some books on photography to learn about wildlife photography and the special conditions in the African savanna. Don’t get carried away with things you think you will absolutely need on safari. Less is more. Just bring the right things and often you have them already.
If you can, take a day rest before going into the bush. That will make you enjoying your photo safari from the very first moment.