5 Misconceptions about African safaris

misconceptions about african safaris

African safaris are often referred to as “the holiday of a lifetime” and no other holiday can top a safari experience, yet there are still misconceptions when it comes to very practical questions. And these are not only safari travellers from outside Africa, no; even safari guests from within Africa can have wrong ideas about Africa travel.

Here some of the main misconceptions about African safaris, as they can occur when planning a safari:

  1. The food at safari lodges is not suitable for guests used to western food.

The safari lodges and camps at all top-rated safari destinations offer international food, from lasagna and spaghetti to top French cuisine.

  1. Mosquitos will be all over me.

Mosquitos are only active from late afternoon and during the night and the number of mosquitos depends on the time of the year. Mosquitos do not like cold and wind. They love hot and humid conditions and not an air-conditioned room or fan, which are present in most of the safari accommodations. A repellent with deed will make sure they also don’t get to you when enjoying a boma dinner under the stars.

  1. I will not have access to phone and email during African safaris.

Many of the safari lodges and camps at all safari destinations in Eastern and Southern Africa offer free WiFi internet access.

  1. I will need to bring fancy clothes when going to 5 star safari lodges.

The dress code at all safari lodges and camps is casual outdoor wear, also at 5 star accommodations.

  1. Transportation at the safari destinations will be chaotic and unreliable.

African safari travel is an extremely well organised operation with connecting light aircraft and road transfers to the most remote wildlife areas.

Most African safari travellers are surprised by the standard of hospitality and logistic they find during their safari holiday. In the middle of nowhere, in the heart of the African bush, guests can expect high-end cuisine, personalised service and excellent transportation.

Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

 

Top 5 Reasons to visit Mana Pools

top-5-reasons-to-visit-mana-pools

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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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

Why should you visit top rated safari destination South Luangwa?

why-you-should-visit-top-rated-safari-destination-south-luangwa

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

What should you African safari travel insurance cover?

7-essential-informations-needed-with-your-african-safari-booking

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.
  1. Medical and hospitalization expenses including emergency assistance, accidental death and disability, personal injury.
  1. Repatriation expenses.
  1. Cancellation or curtailment of your travel.
  1. Damage/theft/loss of personal baggage/goods/money/any personal effects of whatsoever nature and value.
  1. 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.

 

Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

What you should know about famous Moremi Game Reserve

what-you-should-know-about-famous-moremi-game-reserve

Moremi Game Reserve is part of the Okavango Delta and number one on every Botswana safari wish list. The game reserve is renown for its abundance of wildlife and the great variety of safari activities, on land and water. The reserve is unfenced and its boundaries are defined by natural water systems. The vegetation is varied, with dry land complemented by permanent and seasonal swamplands, resulting in an excellent diversity of both wildlife and birdlife. There is a great network of game drive routes through the reserve. Boating can be enjoyed in Xakanaxa and Mboma where the channels are connected to permanent delta waterways.

Moremi is excellent for viewing the endangered African wild dog. Xakanaxa is home to a resident herd of several hundred buffalo whose range covers the territories of at least four prides of lion who hunt them. Breeding herds of elephant move between browsing areas in the mopane forests and the fresh waters of the Okavango. Red lechwe are one of the more unusual antelope species commonly found here.

Game viewing in the Moremi Game Reserve is excellent year-round and varies between the seasons. During the dry season (Apr – Oct) the game is usually concentrated around permanent water sources as seasonal pans dry up. From September to November migrant birds such as herons and storks return to the area guaranteeing prolific bird watching which remains excellent throughout the summer months. In the rainy season (Nov – Apr) Moremi captivates its visitors with wild flowers, dramatic thundershowers and spectacular sunsets. Most of the animals give birth during this period and newborn antelope attract a variety of predators.

The main areas of this top-rated African safari destiantion are the Khwai River, Xakanaxa Lagoon, Third Bridge and Chief’s Island. The Khwai River traverses a picturesque region characterized by tall evergreen trees lining a wide floodplain. It is situated on the north-eastern tip of Moremi Game Reserve and provides remarkable sightings of predators and prey. The elusive leopard is spotted regularly and birdlife is abundant with saddle-billed storks, wattled cranes, and many species of kingfishers and bee-eaters present.

The Xakanaxa Lagoon lies at the tip of the Mopane Tongue, where substantial mopane forests and a system of deep waterways and shallow flooded areas come together. It is where the desert meets the delta. The striking landscape is packed with game and leopards are seen frequently even though they are well-camouflaged, solitary and shy. The lagoon is also a good place to find the African wild dog and the sheer density of antelope is staggering. Exceptional and varied birdlife is the order of the day at Xakanaxa Lagoon, renowned for the breeding colonies of birds that congregate on its tree covered islands. Seasonal sightings include innumerable herons, egrets, storks and other waders, to the many species of sparrow hawks, buzzards and kites. There are three camps in this area situated along the shore of the lagoon, Camp Moremi, Camp Okuti and Xakanaxa Camp.

A short drive from Xakanaxa Lagoon, lying in the heart of the Moremi Game Reserve is Third Bridge. The area is positioned on an island with substantial amounts of tree thickets, in addition to a number of large, open plains. Campsites are available for mobile safaris, and the combination of unfenced campsites and wandering wildlife make for some close encounters between man and beast. Third Bridge’s boundary of land and water is an ideal destination to combine vehicle and boat trips, or for the more adventurous, an ‘island sleep over!’

Many areas of the Okavango Delta are largely dry including Chief’s Island, arguably the Okavango’s most famous isle. Once the royal hunting ground of Chief Moremi, the traditional leader of the local tribes donated it as an extension to the Moremi Game Reserve, which it was incorporated into in 1976. Chief’s Island is now one of the region’s best locations for spectacular wildlife viewing and hosts three luxury safari camps. Chief’s Island is the first part of dry land that the flood waters reach in the greater Okavango region. Most of the nutrients carried by the water are deposited here and this results in vegetation for rich grazing and browsing for wildlife. These nutritious grass plains support herbivores in large numbers and associated high population of predators. Chief’s Island is also called “predator capital”, the perfect place to see the big cats.

As Moremi is not fenced in, it can be a good choice to stay at one of the neighboring private concessions. A number of lodges can be found in the private concessions bordering Moremi Game Reserve, offering the wildlife viewing of Moremi without the crowds. As there are no fences between the reserve and these private concessions, animals are free to roam. Since these areas can only be explored by guests staying there, the game viewing experience is an exclusive one as well as a great one. As these areas aren’t governed by National Park rules, night drives and walking are also possible. In addition to land-based activities, some of these camps also offer the water-based activities and the scenic landscapes of the delta.

Make sure you will experience a perfect African safari in Moremi or at one of the private concessions by making an informed decision on the camp you choose. Keep the seasons in mind and the floods to enjoy all safari activities possible.

 

Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

sources: safari destinations, image: chiefs camp

Why you should know about flood levels in the Okavango Delta

why-you-should-know-about-the-flood-in-the-okavango-delta

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

 

5 Top Reasons to visit Zambia

5-top-reasons-to-visit-zambia

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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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