8 Packing Essentials for your Safari

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Packing for your grand safari adventure is different from packing for a trip to Disney Land or a weekend in Las Vegas. While you are dreaming of excitement and vistas that take your breath away, keep in mind that you are going to spend the majority of your time out of doors, and you do not want to get dirty or be schlepping four bags in your wake.

Packing Light

The name of the game is pack light. In fact, if you are planning on doing any plane hops between sites, you could be limited to less than 25 lbs. Your best bet is not to bring things you do not need, and, if possible, to bring a small duffel bag of absolute essentials to take on your safari, while you leave your larger roller bag and less needed items in your arrival/departure city. Check with your tour operator to find out any luggage restrictions they may have, as well as to get details about lockers or other long-term storage options for while you are “on safari.”

The Wearables: Clothing and Accessories

Temperatures can fluctuate wildly from day to night, so packing in layers is important. Bringing specialty travel wear, or anything that dries quickly, can save you space as you can wash them in the sink and air dry overnight. You want to avoid any brightly colored items, including white, to ensure you do not stand out and distract the animals.

Loosely fitting clothing will help prevent over-heating in the day time, and a fleece or sweatshirt will keep you cool in the chilly morning or evening. A thin roll-up raincoat can be packed in an outside pocket or bottom of the bag and will be needed during the rainy season. Long pants and sleeves will protect you from the elements as well as mosquitoes.

For a typical safari of a week to ten days, the following items should be sufficient, but again, check with your tour operator.

  1. Tops: 3-4 T-shirts, 2 long sleeved shirts
  2. Bottoms: 1 pair comfortable, loose shorts, two pairs of long cotton pants (avoid jeans)
  3. Outerwear: 1 sweatshirt or fleece, 1 thin raincoat
  4. Undergarments: 2-3 pairs of socks, 4 pair underwear, 2-3 sports bras (if needed) all in a material that can be washed in sink
  5. Shoes: 1 pair water shoes/ flip flops for shower, 1 pair waterproof, comfortable, lightweight shoes for everyday
  6. Pajamas: 1 pair warm pajama pants can be paired with your t-shirts or sweatshirt to keep you warm during the chilly nights
  7. Accessories: Sunglasses and a hat with strap to protect you not only from the sun but also the dust
  8. Your swimsuit

Extra Gadgets
You are going on a safari to see the scenery and wildlife around you, so you do not need to pack a lot of “extra” entertainment. You are, however, going to want to capture your trip, so a camera is a must. With the camera make sure you consider extra batteries and/or charger, as well as additional SD/memory cards. You should also consider bringing binoculars to spot birds and hiding wildlife. Other items to include are a flashlight for walking around at night and a cell phone with an international plan (and the charger!)

Toiletries and Medicines

You do not need to go overboard with medicine and first aid, as the tour company will have first aid kits, but it is always a good idea to have a small stash on hand. When packing for your safari, consider packing Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, pain relievers, antihistamine (pills or creams), bug spray/repellent, sun block and antacids/antidiarrheals. You can also pack hand sanitizer for when hand washing water is unavailable. You will also need to pack any feminine hygiene products (if needed) and you should consider panty liners—toilet paper is nowhere to be found nor is there any place to dispose of it while on a game drive.

You are Ready To Go

Keep in mind when packing for your safari that you are limited in the space you can bring. You will be spending the majority of your time outside in the dust and sun; you do not need to bring a fashion runway’s worth of clothes. Pack light and with layerable items for fluctuating temperatures. Moreover, don’t forget your camera! Bon Voyage!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Fun Ostrich facts for the curios safari traveler

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When most people think of African Safari animals, they think hippopotamus, lions, and all manner of monkeys. But one of the most amazing animals you will find on the Savannah is the ostrich. Many people know that the ostrich is the largest bird on the planet, but did you know its eye is almost five cm across? Many people know that this bird has long, powerful legs to propel it across the plains, but do you know how powerful those legs are? How fast this bird really is?

A Body That Works

While somewhat strange looking, the body of an ostrich is perfectly suited for life on the Savannah. The large eye allows the ostrich to spot predators at a distance, while the long legs take strides of over 15 feet. The ostrich can run over 40 miles an hour to evade those same predators. And if the ostrich cannot run away, it can use the legs as weapons. An ostrich kick could kill a lion or a human with the force behind the blow. The ostrich also uses its head in territorial disputes, slamming its head into and through an opponent’s chest, killing the weaker male.

While they have no teeth, ostriches have evolved a way to break down their food to aid in digestion. They eat pebbles and small rocks, which, in their stomachs (yes, there is more than one –three in fact) grind against each other and break down the ingested food. In fact, at any given time, an adult ostrich has more than two pounds of pebbles in its stomach.

Ostriches love water, and take frequent baths when there is water available. But, Africa having a lengthy dry season means that there is often not the water that ostriches would prefer. Given that, the ostrich has evolved to be able to survive for several days without ingesting any water. They get the water they need from the moisture in the roots and insects they eat and use up metabolic water as needed. Interestingly, ostriches are the only birds that urinate and defecate as two separate bodily functions.

Family Life

Ostriches can be loners, but more often than not, live in pairs or groups. During the winter, the groups are smaller, with ostriches ranging alone or in pairs. During the breeding season, however, ostriches will group into wandering herd of up to fifty birds. This group will be led by a “top hen” and will often travel with other pack animals to graze, typically antelope or zebra.

When the ostrich’s breed, all the hens of the tribe will lay their eggs in the top hen’s nest. This nest is almost ten feet across, and each hen knows which eggs are hers. The eggs that ostriches lay are the largest of any bird, coming in at a whopping five inches in diameter, and weighing as much as two-dozen chicken eggs.

Like seahorses and penguins, male ostriches play an active role in the incubation and care of their eggs. The hens incubate and care for the eggs during the day, using their dun colored plumage to blend in with their surroundings. The males, however, take over the job at night, with their black coloring making them almost indistinguishable from the inky black of night.

Ostriches and People

Mankind has long been inspired and awed by the ostrich. The fascination dates back over 5,000 years to Egypt and ancient Mesopotamia. One common misconception people have about ostriches, however, is the belief that they bury their heads in the sand when threatened. This is not at all true. Ostriches will lay their necks along the ground to camouflage their bodies when threatened, and this can appear that the head is buried in the sand, but that is only because the plumage of the body blends in with the sandy soil and tall grasses.

Ostriches have been sought after for a variety of reasons. They are farmed for their feathers and meat, and even their skin is used for leather shoes, bags and other products. There are some countries in Africa where ostriches are fitted with special saddles and reins are people race on ostrich-back. The intrigue abounds, even as the ostrich population dwindles. The last 200 years have seen the ostrich population diminish drastically, and most ostriches are now found in sanctuaries or on farms.

When you depart on your African safari, make sure to add the majestic ostrich to your “must-see” list, alongside the lions, elephants, and giraffes. These truly are incredible animals and are worth your time. Bon Voyage!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Must Try African Dishes

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It’s no secret that indulging in delectable new foods is one of the greatest parts of exploring a place you’ve never been before, and your journey to Africa will be no exception. Crispy barbecued meats, spicy sauces and rich flavors are just a few aspects of the cuisine you can start looking forward to. These delicious African dishes will undoubtedly get your palate just as excited for the big trip as the rest of you.

Briouat

Briouats are a must-try. The baked or fried Moroccan pastries boast a variety of stuffings: beef, lamb, chicken, cheese, lemon, vegetables and spices like coriander and paprika. Get them as an appetizer, or try every flavor and make them your whole meal.

Pap en vleis/Shisa nyama

A South African favorite, pap en vleis means “maize porridge and meat.” You can try steak, kebabs, chicken, sausage or chops. The meat is barbecued and served with gravy or chakalaka, a spicy vegetable relish with a fiery flavor. Eat it with a local South African beer and you’re in for an unforgettable experience.

Kachumbari

This flavorful dish is especially popular in East Africa.  It consists of raw chopped onions, tomatoes, salt and chili peppers for flavor and heat. Some enjoy it with pilau rice, a dish cooked with cumin, cardamom, cloves, turmeric and cinnamon. Even better? In Kenya, Kachumbari is eaten with roasted goat or beef.

Piri piri Chicken

A dish most commonly found in Mozambique, just reading about Piri piri chicken will likely get your mouth watering. Cooked with lime, garlic, pepper, coconut milk and cilantro, this meat and its marinade make for an amazing dish. We promise that the crisp, spicy roast chicken and its succulent center is delicious beyond belief.

Muamba de Galinha

Originally from Angola, Muamba de Galinha is a chicken cuisine made with palm oil or butter, garlic, okra and chilis. It’s often served with white rice and cassava leaves in the Congo River region, or macadamia or palm nuts in Gabon. If you’re looking for rich and spicy, Muamba de Galinha is the right choice.

Bobotie

South Africa’s national food, Bobotie is a combination of spicy ground meat, chutney, curry powder, raisins and apricot jam generally topped with baked eggs and milk. It tastes as incredible as it sounds.

Fufu

Fufu is a paste created from starchy root vegetables like plantains, cassava, or yams. Originally a West African dish, the vegetables are pounded into a doughy substance and then rolled into tiny balls that are served with a variety of sauces or aside the main course. The starch perfectly complements spicy gravies or stews.

Cholent

Also a Jewish tradition, Cholent is frequently eaten in Northern Africa. It typically consists of potatoes, pinto or kidney beans, onions, barley and meat. Beef is usually the meat of choice, but chicken or sausage can be substituted. Garlic, paprika, pepper and cayenne create the dish’s irresistible flavor.

So many spectacular dishes are just another sign that Africa could be your best vacation yet. Find out how Roho Ya Chui can help you make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

 

 

 

How to travel safe on African safari

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When going on an African safari you are embarking on the trip of a lifetime. This is sure to be a trip you will remember, looking back fondly, for years to come. But it is important to know that this is not a trip to the grocery store. There are dangers involved in visiting the wilds of Africa, but the risks can be minimized with proper planning and respect for Mother Nature.

Game Drive Safety

When on the actual game drive the most important thing you can do is LISTEN TO YOUR GUIDE. Your guide is a trained, experienced professional. Following their directions immediately and completely will be the number one thing you can do to ensure your safety on safari.

In addition to listening to your guide, it is important that you stay in the vehicle when stopped, not disembarking until, and unless, you are told you can do so. Other important safety tips when dealing with the animals is to keep your distance, never feed or pet any wild animals, don’t make any sudden movements and try not to make any loud or startling noises — this includes the noises your electronics can make, so please do silence your cell phone.

When people conjure up images of animals to fear while on safari, roaring lions, crocodiles lying in wait and rampaging hippos come to mind, but the biggest threat to humans while on safari is smaller… a lot smaller. When you go on safari it is imperative that you protect yourself from mosquitos and the malaria virus that they can carry.

Malaria is a disease that can be fatal, so it should not be taken lightly. Talk with your primary care physician before you leave on your journey to determine what preventative medicines you should take, but know that none of the known medications are 100% effective and preventing the disease, so as a secondary measure, preventing bites is a must. You can do this by always wearing long sleeves and pants in light weight fabrics and using chemical repellents, both on your body and clothes. Many people have reservations about using repellents with DEET in them, but at this time, it is known to be the most effective repellant for mosquitos. You may not choose to use it every day at home, but it is well advised during your time in Africa.

General Travel Safety

As with travel to any location, keeping copies of your passport and travel documents handy is always recommended. It is also a great idea to make sure someone back home has access to copies as well, in case yours are lost or stolen. Make sure someone back home has a reliable way to get in touch with you, or your itinerary with hotel and other contact information at the least.

When traveling, always keep your luggage with you in your line of sight, and don’t openly display valuables. Try keeping important documents, money or travelers checks, and other valuables spread out across several bags, that way if one bag is stolen or lost, all is not lost. On that note, you should avoid carrying large sums of cash.

Again, as with travelling to any location, do your homework: look up local news to see if there is anything you need to be made aware of. There may be weather patterns threatening flooding or civil conflicts indicating cities to avoid. You should also make sure you know of any local customs or dress code concerns to keep you from standing out as a potential target.

Your best bet to maximize your enjoyment on your safari and to ensure your safety is to schedule your trip with a reputable guide or tour company. These are professionals who not only know the area, they are trained to keep you as safe as possible, and know what to do in the event that something goes wrong. Let Roho Ya Chui take you on the journey of a lifetime. Contact Roho Ya Chui to book today. Bon Voyage!

Jill LIphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Planning Your Safari Adventure

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When planning your dream African safari adventure there are two major considerations: Where, and, less intuitively, when. Sure, when picking a time of year to go on a vacation, school holidays, work schedules, and family appointments are all important concerns, but you must also contemplate what you hope to accomplish on your grand Safari. Do you want to see the “Big 5” game animals? Or are you an avid bird-watcher? Are you sensitive to extreme temperature swings? Do you detest excessive rain fall? These are all things that should be considered when planning your trip to Africa.

Creating the Perfect Experience for You

For most explorers on Safari, the wildlife is the main draw. For best animal viewing, you’ll want to go in the dry season. Lack of grasses and foliage mean that the animals migrate to known watering holes. This increases your guide’s chances of finding animals for you to view. While wildlife can be hard to spot in the tall grasses of the wet season, if birding is your goal, the wet season can provide better opportunity, as migrant birds are in the region. This is due to the nesting and/or breeding patterns of the birds.

Africa is largely equatorial; of the 54 countries in Africa, the equator passes through twelve of them, and it does so almost in the smack middle of the continent. That means depending on where you are choosing to journey, chances are you will be going south of the equator. And in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are opposite from the United States.

Temperature fluctuations do occur, and depending on region and elevation can be rather extreme. The daily temperature ranges in the eastern part of Africa typically are more affected by altitude changes. Southern Africa, including the subtropical region, is more affected by winter and summer (and, again, seasons are opposite of what you would expect in the northern hemisphere.)

The Dry Season

The common dry season in the eastern part of Africa on, and south of, the equator (think Kenya, Rwanda, and parts of Tanzania) is Winter, and because this region is in the southern hemisphere, winter means from June to October. A second, smaller “dry-season” also occurs typically during December to the middle of March.

Southern and Western Tanzania elevations border the sub-tropic region, and have a blend of both equatorial east Africa, and Subtropical Africa climatic temperaments. The subtropical region (Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana and parts of South Africa) has its dry season from April to October.

The Wet Season

Mother Nature rarely adheres to a schedule, so yes, it can rain at any time. But rainfall is most typical during the rainy months. Rain is crucial for the wildlife, as it allows for the grasses and other flora in the region to flourish, and these plants are necessary for the survival of the animals in the region. This is especially important for the equatorial eastern portion of the continent, which, in addition to the countries listed above, encompasses most of the Serengeti. The Serengeti is one of the seven natural wonders of Africa and this rainfall is life-giving for the many animals that migrate and live there. In this region rainfall should be expected in April and May, with a potential for a rainy November.

The subtropical region of Africa has a much more predictable (if one can call weather predictable) rainy season than the eastern portion of the continent. November to March is considered the rainy season, although when the precise start of the season, and how much rain will come does vary from year to year.

Planning Your African Safari

No matter the time of year you choose to go, you are sure to be awed an amazed and the landscape and animals around you. A little planning and forethought are all you need to frame your expectations and have the experience of a lifetime. Contact us at Roho Ya Chui today to learn more about planning the perfect African safari.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Test for Compatibility: Go on an Adventure Together

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The first blush of love—everything is exciting, everything is romantic. You are lost in your own little world. There is no better way to take your coupledom to the next level than expanding your horizons and exploring the world around you…together.

Traveling together for the first time can be scary, which is why many look at it like a make-or-break experience. It can bring you together, cementing your bond with memories made and experiencing firsts together, or it can cause a rift—suddenly the way he can’t keep track of his cell phone is annoying…her hour long showers and over-packing are not endearing.

Even with the risk of becoming intimate with your partner’s idiosyncrasies, the bonding experience of a grand adventure is a great way to make memories to look back on forever. And the shared experience of getting out of your element and facing the world together will bring you together in a way nothing else can.

A Grand African Safari Adventure

What greater adventure could you go on than a great African Safari? The word Safari is defined in most dictionaries as “an expedition to observe or hunt animals in their natural habitat, especially in East Africa,” but a better way to think of a Safari is the original definition. Safari comes from the Swahili word for journey, and an African safari is a journey for both you and your relationship.

An African Safari is no longer the rather antiquated big game hunting trip. Instead you will be hunting for photo opportunities. A reputable Safari company will provide a tour with itineraries including big game viewing from off-roading, bush walks, and even water tour options when possible.

Together, you will experience the breath-taking vistas of the African wilderness. Wide open skies, horizons that won’t quit. Bounding over the plains in all-terrain jeeps, and sporting pith helmets and olive toned jungle fatigues. You’ll set up camp and eat over the fire, looking up at the endless sky, all while hand-in-hand.

Planning Your Couples Safari Adventure

Getting ready for a Safari adventure can take a lot of time, and because of the significant planning and coordination needed, the cost of an African Safari can add up, and the last thing you want to do is argue about planning or money.

Using a tour company will help! The company will provide one price that is usually almost entirely all-inclusive. When you know up front what to expect, you can plan accordingly. Additionally, the tour company lets you pay in installments, far in advance, spreading out the payments. Doing so will make planning for the trip a part of the enjoyable experience, instead of letting frustration build as you anticipate for your first big trip together.

When you’re ready to take your new love on an adventure like no other, contact Roho Ya Chui to take care of planning your couples adventure. Grab your camera and pith helmet and embark on an African Safari with your love today.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa