Zika in Africa: Should you worry?

misconceptions about african safaris

The Zika virus has been all over the news in recent months. If you are an avid traveler who is planning an African safari tour, you might be nervous about traveling while this illness is an epidemic. Though the brunt of the reports has been focusing on countries in South America, the Zika virus actually originated in Africa (Uganda, specifically). Before you panic and cancel your big trip, you need to know one important fact—there is no documentation of birth defects that are related to Zika in Africa. This is good news for you, but it naturally raises some questions in the scientific and medical communities. Why has there been no surge in microcephaly due to Zika in Africa?

What Is All the Fuss About?

Let us backtrack a moment—why is everyone so worried about the Zika virus, anyway? It has been around nearly 50 years, and has never seemed to be a crisis until recently. Little is known about Zika and how it affects an individual. The symptoms are very similar to a cold or flu and, for most who are unlucky enough to contract it, the illness resolves itself in a matter of days. However, there is one group who are at the mercy of the Zika virus—the unborn. Women who could become pregnant or are already pregnant have been advised that Zika is linked to the major birth defect, microcephaly. This defect is characterized by the baby having a very small head. If you are not pregnant or could become pregnant, there is little reason for concern that the medical community is aware of.

What Is Different About Africa?

Zika in Africa is different because there has been no association made between the virus itself and the birth defect, microcephaly. Scientists are not sure if the virus changed on its journey from Africa to South America, or if the virus has no links to microcephaly after all. They are truly puzzled—how can the same virus behave so differently on separate continents?  

By the Numbers

One major difference in the Zika outbreaks in Africa and South America are the populations that are impacted. In Africa, the mosquitoes that carry the virus live in sparsely populated areas. As a result, the largest Zika outbreak on the continent was just 20,000. This pales in comparison to what is playing out in South America, where 1.5 million individuals have been infected by the Zika virus. These numbers could be a reason why there have been no recorded cases of birth defects linked to Zika in Africa—the population is simply too low to detect any associated complications.

Should You Worry?

Whenever you are traveling to another country, you should always speak with your doctor about potential illnesses that you might contract and how you can prevent them once you arrive. You should also make sure that your health is good enough to travel. Since Zika is not prevalent in Africa, you should not be too concerned with contracting it while you are on your African safari tour. For more information on booking your trip, visit our safari tours page or contact a representative with Roho Ya Chui today.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

The 3 Biggest African Animals

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Africa is a continent full of beautiful scenery, rich culture and exotic wildlife. One of the world’s biggest tourists’ destinations for good reason, Africa is much more than its deluded depictions on TV. Tourists are able to take in some of the best that Africa’s lush jungles and vast deserts have to offer through excursions and safaris. Here are three of the biggest animals in Africa that can be seen on an African safari tour.

The African Bush Elephant

The African bush elephant is not only the biggest animal in Africa, but it is also the heaviest and largest living land animal in the world. Adult male elephants can reach up to an astounding 24.6 feet in length, 10.8 feet in height at the shoulder, and over six tons or 13,000 pounds. Adult female African bush elephants are a bit smaller, but still very impressive. These female elephants can reach 22.6 feet in length, 8.9 feet in height at the shoulder, and over three tons or 6,600 pounds. Because of their enormous size in adult life, these elephants generally have no natural predators.

The elephant is believed to have been named after the Greek word for ivory because of their exceptionally long tusks. African bush elephants live mainly in central and southern Africa. A very sociable animal, these elephants live in herds and family groups that can grow to over 1,000 elephants at a time. These nomadic animals are herbivorous, meaning they only consume plants and plant matter. Most of their diet consists of leaves and branches.

The Giraffe

 The tallest living animal in Africa and (unsurprisingly) the world as well, the giraffe is an African even-toed ungulate mammal. An adult giraffe can grow to an overwhelming 20 feet tall. That’s approximately the same height as a two-story building. Male giraffes average a maximum weight of 3,500 pounds, and females average around 1,800 pounds. The giraffe’s neck makes up almost half of their height. Their necks can grow up to 6’7” in length. For a point of reference, NBA superstar basketball player LeBron James is 6’ 8” tall.

Newborn giraffes are even taller than most humans, and can stand and run usually within half an hour to 10 hours after birth. Giraffes usually sleep only for about 10 minutes to two hours a day standing up. This is the shortest sleep time requirement for any mammal. Giraffes are also very unique in that no two giraffes have the same spot pattern.

The Ostrich

The ostrich is the largest bird in the world and can be found in the plains of Africa. Large male ostriches grow to 9.2 feet in height and can weigh up to 345 pounds. Ostriches are so large that their eggs even break records. Ostrich laid eggs can weigh up to three pounds and are the largest eggs in the world. The ostrich’s amazing size is made even more intimidating by its incredible speed. These large, flightless birds can run over 60 miles an hour, making them the fastest bird on land and the fastest two-legged animal in the world.

Africa’s incredible wildlife is truly a sight to be seen and enjoyed by everyone. Find out how Roho Ya Chui can get you a little closer to the beautiful African wild with the perfect African safari trip for you.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

10 Fun Sloth Facts

A three-toed tree sloth hangs from the trunk of a tree in the jungle on the bank of the Panama Canal

The sloth is not exactly the most exciting animal out there. Named for the laziest of the seven sins, the sloth is popularly known as a sluggish creature that lounges around all day, and is a few limbs away from being a second cousin to the common snail. At the very least, the sloth is not the animal you’re looking for when you head out on an Roho Ya Chui African safari tour. You want to see lions and gazelles and lions eating gazelles and maybe even a gazelle eating a lion. Anything but a boring sloth.

That’s where you’re wrong. The sloth is not nearly as dull as its reputation suggests. In fact, it can be outright adorable if you look at it the right way. The following ten facts about the African sloth should hopefully go a long way in convincing you that there’s more to these seemingly lazy little creatures than meets the eye.

  1. Most varieties of sloths are actually nocturnal, so when you catch them lounging around during the day, it’s most likely because they were up all night.
  1. While we’re on the topic, sloths only average a little under ten hours of sleep a day. Sure, that’s still a lot more than the average human being, but sloths don’t have bills to pay or a roof to keep over their heads.
  1. In fact, sloths are arboreal animals, meaning they live most of their lives in trees. Helped along by their four-inch claws, sloths live off the leaves of their host tree, which explains why they have very little energy. Their diet isn’t exactly nutritious.
  1. Because of this unhealthy diet, it’s perhaps of little surprise that sloths only urinate and defecate about once a week. It’s almost always in the exact same spot too, so even if they’re in poor shape, at least they’re civilized.
  1. That doesn’t make them clean, however. Algae will often grow directly in the fur of a sloth, turning their coats green.
  1. This green fur, while a little icky, actually benefits the sloth a great deal. Their natural predators are jaguars, eagles and very large snakes, so having that little extra bit of camouflage isn’t so bad after all.
  1. Sloths can also turn their head a full 360 degrees, giving them even more protection against their much larger, much faster foes.
  1. If worse comes to worst, the sloth could also just hop in some water. Even though they’re slow and sluggish on land, sloths surprisingly make for very good swimmers.
  1. A sloth can live up to forty years old. The kicker is that their claws are so strong that if they die, you might never know it. They can stay stuck to a branch long after their physical death.
  1. Finally, sloths are pretty solitary animals. They tend to live on their own and only gather together during mating season. When pregnant, a female sloth will carry for about seven to ten months before giving birth to a single baby.

With any luck, these facts have started to open your eyes to the surprisingly colorful life of the common sloth—so when you’re on your next African safari tour, don’t forget to look out for these fascinating creatures. At least remember to grab a quick picture. They make great still models, after all.

Schedule your next Roho Ya Chui African safari tour today and get ready to see sloths and a whole lot more!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Image: The Guardian

5 Best Proposal Spots in Africa

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Have you found “the one,” the love of your life, the person that you want to make your future spouse? If you have, now it is time to find the perfect place to propose. If the two of you love romance and adventure, you will love going on an African safari tour. Africa is the most diverse continent in the world, and has many stunning spots that are just perfect for a dream proposal. This will be an unforgettable trip of a lifetime in so many different ways.

The only things missing are you, your special someone and a sparkling ring. Here are some of the best proposal spots in Africa.

  1. Table Mountain, South Africa

When most people think of Africa, fabulous resorts, dining and spa settings are not the images that come to mind—but that is what you will find in South Africa. This is one of the best tour destinations in the world. You can enjoy a thriving city life while also being able to escape on one of the many excellent safari tours. Table Mountain is the area that makes Cape Town, which is one of the best beach cities on the planet. Overlooking the area are several stunning plateaus. A proposal beneath the Cape Town skyline would be breathtaking!

  1. Victoria Falls, Zambia and Zimbabwe

As the largest falling body of water in the world, Victoria Falls is a true wonder. This magnificent spectacle is nicknamed “the cloud that thunders.” Once you are standing near, you will understand why. The sheer force and power than can be seen, heard and felt is inspiring. There are few places that can even compare, and it makes for a wonderful proposal spot.

  1. Sahara Dunes, Morocco

A desert might not seem like the most romantic place, but the Sahara is actually a beautiful marvel. Its dunes are rolling peaks that reach as far as the eye can see. They are perfect formations that cannot be mimicked. A proposal at sunrise or sunset would yield a stunning backdrop in this unique location.

  1. Egypt

Ancient Egypt produced some of the most fantastic manmade marvels. To this day, people migrate from all corners of the world to see them in their splendor—some of the most famous are the Great Pyramids and the Sphynx. There are innumerable statues and buildings that present architecture and design that is simply amazing. Seeing Egypt is a once in a lifetime adventure for most people. The love of your life would appreciate a proposal in this ancient city!

  1. Mount Mulanje, Malawi

This is the largest mountain in central Africa. It is surrounded by enchanting habitats that house many marvelous animals. Great bison and gullies surround the base, and while the trek up is no walk in the park, there are several stunning viewpoints that make the perfect proposal spots.

Booking Your African Safari Tour

Are you ready to propose on a unique trip that will provide you with some of the most beautiful proposal spots on the planet? Book your African safari tour today! If you would like more information, visit our safari tours page or contact a representative with Rohoyachui today.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Four Ways to Keep Mosquitos at Bay

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In a new and unfamiliar place, your health and safety should be your top priority. Taking an African safari is an amazing opportunity, but it will definitely come with its own health risks. One of the best ways you can stay healthy during your safari is by protecting yourself from mosquito bites, which are often the cause of sickness and disease, including malaria. If you’re visiting an area where malaria is common, there are certain precautions you can take in order to ensure your safety and make your trip as enjoyable as possible.

Insect Repellent

Let’s start with the basics: be sure to bring insect repellent! Your safari will be much more enjoyable if you carry a bottle of bug spray along. For the best quality, look for repellent with large amounts of DEET. The higher concentration of DEET, the longer the spray will last. It might be tempting to buy the cheapest repellent you can, but lower quality products will ultimately prove ineffective. Shop online to find the best deals (and the highest quality) before you leave.

Long Sleeves and Pants

Long sleeves and pants can provide protection from the blazing sun, but it will also shield you from those pesky bugs! When protecting yourself from mosquito bites, make sure your clothing fits well and that the fabric is thick enough to guard your skin. If the weather doesn’t allow for warmer clothing during the day, long sleeves can always be worn in the evenings as an extra precaution.

Avoid Bright Colors

Neutral colors, like beige and dark green, tend to be the best option for safaris because they won’t get dirty or alarm any animals. Neutrals are also great because they won’t attract as many mosquitos (or tsetse flies, another pest you might encounter). While you may see locals wearing bright colors, it is best to be cautious and try to blend in with your surroundings. Hopefully, the mosquitos won’t even notice you.

Mosquito Nets

Another basic item that has proven to be incredibly effective is the mosquito net. While sprays and clothing can offer protection while you are out during the day, mosquito nets are your best bet when you are trying to sleep. Few things are as irritating as bugs buzzing away while you are trying to get some shut-eye—so do yourself a favor by looking at the different nets available. You can also spray your tent with bug spray for extra protection.

While many of these items can be found once you arrive, it is best to do all your shopping before your trip. In the long run, this will save you time and stress; you won’t want to spend your entire trip shopping! By taking extra precautions, your chances of getting sick are significantly lowered, and you’ll have peace of mind about your health. Remember to talk to your healthcare provider about any concerns you may have before your trip.

To learn more about our safaris, visit our website and read our travel blog. We’re excited to help plan your adventure!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

 

Watch Your Step! Seven Deadly Snakes in Africa

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For many travelers, an African safari is the adventure of a lifetime. To see such beautiful places and awe-inspiring wildlife up close is a dream come true—especially if you’ve only seen them in pictures or at a zoo. Unfortunately, some animals you will see aren’t so friendly. Africa is home to some of the most dangerous snakes in the world. For your safety, it’s important to stay educated and know what may cross your path. Keep reading to learn about the deadly snakes in Africa, which you should avoid while traveling through these gorgeous lands.

Black Mamba

 Black mambas are known as one of the fastest and deadliest snakes in the world. Typically, black mambas can be found in Southern and Eastern areas of Africa, and like to make their homes in hollow tree trunks or rocky hills, although they can adapt to a variety of habitats. Although they have a reputation for being highly aggressive (in South Africa, their bite is known as “the kiss of death”), mambas are also known for being shy and will at first try to hide instead of attack. Still, be sure to keep your distance; mambas are highly venomous and their bites can be fatal if not treated properly.

Puff Adder

As one of the largest and most widespread deadly snakes in Africa, puff adders have a reputation for causing the most human deaths out of any other African snakes. Their coloration makes them extremely hard to see, so be wary if you are on a walking safari or out on your own. Before attacking, the puff adder will warn its enemies by making a low hissing sound; its body will also inflate (hence the name “puff” adder) in order to look more intimidating. Like most snakes, the puff adder will attack if it feels it cannot flee to safety.

Boomslang

Boomslang snakes are native to Sub-Saharan Africa and prefer wooded grasslands (in Afrikaans, their name means “tree snake”). While human deaths are rare, boomslangs are still considered highly dangerous due to their hemotoxic venom, which causes blood to stop clotting. This can cause internal and external bleeding that may be fatal, but it can also cause hemorrhages into other tissues. However, boomslang venom is slow-acting; it may be hours before you show symptoms from a bite.

Egyptian Cobra

Most people are familiar with Egyptian cobras from movies or images of snake charmers, but they aren’t snakes you’ll want to see up close. As one of the largest cobra species in Africa, Egyptian cobras can be found in North Africa and throughout West Africa. Usually, these cobras will try to escape when they sense danger—but when severely threatened, they will strike. Their venom contains neurotoxins that affect the nervous system and can cause paralysis and respiratory failure. Many have suggested that Cleopatra committed suicide from an Egyptian cobra bite.

Cape Cobra

Cape cobras are found in Southern Africa and can survive in a variety of ecosystems. As cobras, they share many similarities to the Egyptian cobra. For instance, cape cobra venom is also neurotoxic and will cause respiratory failure. They are also similar in temperament, known to strike only if they feel threatened and cannot escape. Still, be sure to remain cautious around a cape cobra; their bites contain high levels of venom that can be deadly if there is no antidote available.

Gaboon Viper

Despite the gaboon viper’s huge size (they can grow up to 7 feet long and weigh up to 18 pounds!), they can be easy to miss because of their amazing camouflage. Gaboon vipers also move very slowly and usually try to keep still while they wait for their prey. Because of their reclusive nature, attacks from a gaboon viper are rare; however, bites from a gaboon viper should be treated as soon as possible. Viper bites inject a large amount of cytotoxic venom into the body and can be slow to heal.

Mozambican Spitting Cobra

Mozambican spitting cobras are appropriately named for their ability to “spit” venom onto their enemies from up to eight feet away. Commonly found in tropical and sub-tropical Africa, they are considered one of Africa’s most dangerous snakes because of the possible damage their venom can cause to various tissues. These cobras try to aim for the eyes; if venom gets in your eyes, it can cause permanent blindness. While actual bites from the spitting cobra are rare, be sure to treat any contact with venom as you would a snake bite.

Before you go on your adventure, know where the nearest medical facility can be found and so you can find proper treatment in an emergency. Remember, snakes are acting on instinct; you are visiting their home, and chances are they are just as afraid as we are. Fortunately, snake bites are rare during African safaris—but be sure to exercise caution and remain aware of your surroundings at all times.

To learn more safety tips, visit our website and read more of our blog. If you’re ready to book your safari, we have countless options available, so feel free to contact us at any time.

 

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

The Benefits of Animal Viewing in the Wild

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What makes Africa such a unique and exceptional travel destination is its wildlife. Africa is well-known for its exotic wild animals and beautiful natural scenery, making it a great place for excursions and sightseeing. A popular way to sightsee and view the wildlife in Africa is to go on a safari, so here are some of the benefits of animal viewing in the wild while on an African safari tour.

Living the Wild Life

One of the best parts about going on a safari is being able to see the wild animals in their natural habitats. Unlike zoos, the animals in safaris are not caged or enclosed in man-made habitats. They are in their own natural homes and are able to roam and live freely. On a safari, a tourist is able to see an animal at its most natural state without being hindered by or dependent upon man. Whereas animals in zoos are treated as pets or are sometimes even abused or mistreated, safari animals are free and content. You may even be able to see wildlife hunt or feed on a safari, and you definitely would not get that same experience at a zoo.

Behold the Variety

Even more, you will be able to see a greater variety of animals on a safari than you would in a zoo. Although there are many zoos that are large and extensive, it is still impossible to incorporate every animal and every aspect of wildlife into each exhibit. The unpredictability of wildlife is also an added bonus while on a safari. You never know what you might get to witness or experience while observing the wild, from animal chases to rare animal sightings—things you would not be able to see at a zoo.

Saving the Wild

By going on a safari, you could also be saving the animals themselves. A major reason why many endangered African animals have not gone extinct yet by the hands of poachers is because of the high demand for the animals to be seen by tourists. The more lucrative the tourism business is, the better chance the animals have at surviving, as they will be better protected. Not only will you have a life changing experience to witness these rare creatures, but you will also be saving their very lives.

You and Your African Safari Tour

If a trip to Africa is on your bucket list, be sure to go on a safari during your visit. This amazing, natural experience is truly one of a kind and shouldn’t be passed up. Find out how Roho Ya Chui can get you on the most exciting African safari tour.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa