Peter’s African Safari Travel Diary

As usual we started our game drive early in the morning after having a restful night at the Rufiji River Camp. Our goal today was to drive up besides the Rufiji river bed and see what animals we would be able to photograph and film. Pretty soon we could see several groups of giraffes in the morning sunlight grazing down at the river.

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We all were immediately busy to catch these wonderful moments with our cameras and soon forgot about time, this is something very usual when you are on safari and have a sighting on a beautiful place.

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While driving further down to the river we came through pretty dense forests and there were again elephants looking for fresh green. Especially one young male gave a nice performance for us, not only eating but already trying to impress us with some attacking games.

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We soon reached the river where lot of palm trees and very juicy grassland gave home to a number of animals, especially a blue heron was hunting in the wet grounds and showing us some nice poses.

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A breakfast is always welcome after these exciting sightings and Nelson our guide had prepared a delicious table for us. I love drinking my coffee out in the wild!

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Quick forward to some other parts of the game park we were lucky to see giraffes again as well as many zebras and even a leopard but she was too far away to get a decent picture from her.

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Before returning to the lodge we found a group of lions resting in the shade, yes it already had become pretty hot around 10:00am.

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At noon we had to leave this beautiful place and head to Arusha via Dar Es Salam. The flight to Dar Es Salam was pretty much packed this time and we arrived after a short flight.

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This airport is an interesting place to watch natives and we got the chance to do that over the next 2 hours or so because our connection flight to Arusha would not leave before 4:30pm. The native people are all very nice and friendly and in general good looking.

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After we were up in the air again the sun went down pretty fast and we arrived at Arusha airport after 6:00pm in almost darkness.

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A driver was already waiting for us and brought us to the nearby Coffee Lodge, which is indeed right in a coffee plantation. What a beautiful place and what kind welcome we received there! We immediately went to our rooms and got ready for dinner, where we would meet this evening with local ground handlers of Roho Ya Chui safari tours to enjoy the deilicous food of the lodge’s restaurant.

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After a nice dinner that was served in the perfect setting of this lodge and a lot of exciting conversations we went back to our rooms to prepare for the next day adventures. Being well prepared needs to become a no brainer when you have to be ready for shooting the next morning – all batteries charged, all equipment cleaned and hopefully all photos and videos taken during the day stored and backed up – well at least one tries the best.

Peter Tomsu for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Peter’s African Safari Travel Diary

We had a great night in the Ruaha River Lodge and this morning went out on our game drive already before 6:00am in order to be able to get hold of a potentially beautiful sunrise. And what a sunrise that was, we were not disappointed at all!

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This is one of the routines when you are photographing on safari to get out as early as possible in order to be able to see the sunrise, enjoy the stunning colours during this first hours of the day and of course also to see potentially as many animals and if lucky predators still eating their kill from last night. The highlight we got this morning was no predators, but instead a beautiful giant eagle owl sitting high up in a tree.

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After we had done some driving we went down to the Ruaha river in order to have breakfast. There is nothing like having breakfast in the bush, where the sun is already a bit higher and already starts warming up the air, which is a nice welcome after the usually cool nights and morning hours. Alex our guide was nicely preparing the whole breakfast setup and we started enjoying our coffee or tea, while eating the deliciously prepared breakfast.

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We had at the same time the possibility to watch the animals in the dried river bed like elephants, antelopes and even some hippos. It quickly got warmer and we had to move on to come back to the lodge in order to pack and prepare for our next hop to Selous.

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We were brought to Selous by a small airplane from Fox airlines. We were heading to the beautiful Rufiji River Camp, where we arrived at 3:00pm.

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Our tent was built underneath a high roof made from wood and we were again surprised about how beautiful and comfortable the interior looked like in this place, far away from standard civilization. Meanwhile Joel and I were already used to sharing one room or tent and as they tended to be so spacious there was absolutely no problem with that.

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At 4:00pm we started our boat cruise on the Rufiji river where we would have the opportunity to see all the animals from a totally different view as compared to the usual view out of a vehicle. We started with huge groups of pelicans who were absolutely not shy when the boat got closer.

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Next were hippos who were hiding everywhere in the water and the one group we had approached now was obviously surprised and upset because they hurried to get away from us as quickly as possible.

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Around the river you can see a multitude of birds but as you already know I am not a birder. Nevertheless one cannot help keep shooting these beautiful animals and I even got the chance to shoot a goliath heron this evening – yes I am very proud I managed to identify this beautiful bird.

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One of the highlights was to be able to get very close to crocodiles and we saw quite a few magnificent ones. They were dozing lazy on the sandbanks in the grass enjoying the evening sun before sliding slowly back into the water as soon as our boat came closer.

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Another beautiful sunset closed the day when our boat arrived at the lodge to let us enjoy our dinner and well-deserved sleep after this day of breath taking views and adventures.

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Peter Tomsu for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

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Peter’s African Safari Travel Diary

We were starting this adventure through National Parks in Tanzania and Kenia from Zanzibar, where we had the privilege to stay in a stunning place called Next Paradise that turned out to be a real secret marvel at the Indian Ocean. This hotel is lead by Stuart and his wife. Stuart is an interesting, friendly and very much caring guy actually from Italy and living here in Zanzibar for many years now.

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We, these were my friends Ute Sonnenberg from Roho Ya Chui (http://www.rohoyachui.com) South Africa and Joel Lipton from LA and me from Austria. We all had arrived the evening before and now had far too soon to leave already for our African Safari sight inspection tour over the next few days, but at least  we got to see a wonderful sunrise when first looking out of our rooms this morning.

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Our destination for this day was the wonderful Ruaha National Park in Tanzania that we could access by small airplanes typically of the type Cessna Caravan via Dar Es Salam. On our second flight the captain was Peter Fox himself, one of the directors of the local airline as well as the lodge where we would stay. We arrived at noon at the local air strip in Ruaha, where our guide Alex was already waiting for us. Our goal was to stay as long as possible in the bush and arrive at the Ruaha River Lodge as late as possible, in order to give us maximum time for doing our photography and cinematography. Now it was a big advantage to travel in a small group where all members had essentially the same interests. We started to shoot ourselves warm with some nice baobab trees that can be found especially in these areas of Africa.

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While driving deeper into the bush towards the Ruaha river, there was no shortage of all different kind of animals, giraffes, elephants, antelopes, zebras, and of course birds, well you could ask which birds, but as I am no bird specialist yet I’d rather like not to specify them the wrong way. We made a stop near by the river for lunch and  from there it was nice to watch the animals grazing in the dried parts of the riverbed.

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Our first lion of this trip was a lioness obviously enjoying the shadow nearby the river. We did not expect the lioness lying around almost unprotected and easily watchable and she was not scared at all that we took pictures and videos of her as we got close to almost 10 meters, well an experienced guide can make this possible!

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A herd of elephants was scanning the riverbed for greens and it is always amazing to watch these animals walking together and doing their thing as a group. They usually keep their babies in the middle of the group for protection, but there in the wide and quiet riverbed they all felt so safe that they obviously loosened this rule a lot. We followed this group when they came out of the riverbed to find food somewhere else while moving in the beautiful Ruaha sunset. It was time for us to drive to the lodge, where we had dinner and went to bed tired but happy after that first day of our adventure. Tomorrow would be another interesting day starting early.

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Peter Tomsu for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

10 Interesting Facts about Johannesburg

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Johannesburg is a huge, beautiful, thriving metropolitan area in South Africa that embodies the very best that the nation has to offer. A far cry from the deserts and jungles that most tourists imagine when they mentally picture Africa, Johannesburg offers a modern break from your African safari vacation that includes world class cuisine and retail shopping opportunities. The culture in the city is unique, and draws travelers from across the world throughout the year. Located between the sea and unforgiving mountains that team with wildlife, South Africa’s largest city is the perfect place to stay if you are hoping to get a full experience of Africa. If you are planning a safari tour, this city is definitely worth considering putting on your list. Here are 10 interesting facts about Johannesburg.

  1. A Golden City

Johannesburg was founded during a major gold rush in South Africa over 120 years ago. This golden city has thrived since, and contains the wealthiest province in all of the country. Though Johannesburg was founded multiple generations ago, it is still considered a very new city by standards through the world.

  1. A Big City

Johannesburg is the second largest city in all of the country of Africa. It is second only to Cairo, Egypt. For the entire population, there is only one hospital that serves 3.5 million residents. Incredibly, this is the largest acute hospital in the world.

  1. A Green City

Johannesburg is a city that loves the environment and trees, having planted a magnificent, made made and urban forest that is the largest of its kind.

  1. A Dry-Port City

Johannesburg is known as the “dry-port” city because it is not built directly on a coastline. If is the largest city not to be built on any water.

  1. An Ancient City

Roughly 40% of the world’s ancient human fossils have been discovered just outside of the main city, on a major archeological site.

  1. A City with a Beautiful Skyline

The tallest structure in Johannesburg is the Hillbrow Tower, standing at 269 meters high. This tower stands out among the rest on the city’s stunning skyline.

  1. A City with a Zoo

Johannesburg is proud to have one of the very best zoos in Africa. The park is over 100 years old, and provides a home to many incredible creatures. This includes the only set of polar bears in all of Africa.

  1. A Great Police Force

As a large city, there is a good amount of crime and tourists are cautioned to stay on the safe side. That being said, Johannesburg is proud that the average response time for police is as little as 60 seconds.

  1. A City in the Clouds

Since Johannesburg is set 2000 meters above sea level and the air is not as dense as the neighboring cities, it takes longer to boil an egg.

  1. A City of Music

Johannesburg is home of  a distinct African style that is known as Kwaito. This interesting genre is both fun and catchy.

Plan Your African Safari Vacation

If you would like to learn more about cities in South Africa and planning your African safari vacation, visit our safari tours page or contact a representative with Roho Ya Chui today.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

 

How to Avoid Getting Scammed While on Vacation

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Imagine the feeling of joy when you finally land in Africa to begin your safari tour after all of your hard work planning, only to have the excitement stolen from you when you find that you have become the victim of a scam. Unfortunately, this is all too common, as shady individuals love to take advantage of the fresh flow of tourists that stream in and out of Africa throughout the year. Most travelers are under the impression that they are too smart to fall for a scam, or that they will be able to spot trouble from a mile away. The truth is that even the most aware people become victims of professional scammers. It is almost impossible to know when or how someone might scam you, so it is important to arm yourself with as much insight as possible. Here are some tips for avoiding getting scammed on vacation.

The Overpriced Taxi

One of the most common scams that tourists fall into is the overpriced taxi. The good news is that this is relatively easy to spot once you know that it happens. Taxi drivers will claim that their meter is broken, charging you upwards of hundreds of dollars as a consequence. If you enter a taxi and something feels off, find another mode of transportation or settle on a rate with your driver before you take off.

Closed Hotel Scam

As if being tricked into paying hundreds for a taxi ride was not bad enough, this next scam goes right in line with the last one. Shady taxi drivers make arrangements with certain hotels and receive a commission for dropping off patrons at the door. Drivers will often tell their passengers that the hotel they want is completely booked or no longer open, suggesting an alternate hotel instead. The price to stay in this hotel, much like the price of the taxi, has been grossly exaggerated to pay off the taxi cab driver.

Nothing is Free

This scam mostly impacts female travelers, but men and women alike should be aware. Venders love to put a bracelet on a person’s arm or give them a bit of rosemary. This gesture might make the goods appear to have been a free gift, you the vender will almost immediately demand money.

Help from a Pick-Pocket

Be weary of helpful people. Though some have good intentions, others are simply trying to create an opportunity for their friend to take what you have in your pockets. If you are stopped to be helped, or stopped to answer questions from a stranger, have a friend look out for those who are up to no good.

Learn More about Safari Tours

While you are on your African safari vacation, stay vigilant. Remain aware that scams happen, and try to avoid it happening. If you do find yourself the victim of a scam, do not panic. Contact your insurance agency or travel advisor. If you would like more information on planning your safari tour, visit our safari page or contact a representative with Roho Ya Chui today.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui. Travel Africa

 

Meerkat Mania

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Since the release of Disney’s beloved classic, The Lion King, in 1994, the meerkat has become one of the most recognizable creatures from Africa. This adorable species is common, yet still one of the animals that tourists hope to see the most on their African safari vacation. The meerkat is a rugged creature, despite its delicate appearance, and is as clever in real life as the witty character, Timon. Seeing these tiny animals in their natural habitat is a real treat. If you are planning your trip to Africa, be sure to keep your eye out for a group of meerkats. In the meantime, let’s celebrate with a few fun facts on this incredible creature.

Family Matters

Unlike in the movie, the meerkat is not a creature that you will find flourishing alone or without its own kind. The meerkat thrives in a family gang with 20 to 50 extended members. The group is led by an alpha pair, yet the female is normally the most dominant out of the two. For the most part, the entire family group is made up of siblings or children of the pair. Just two to four new pups are born from the lead pair every year, who are watched over and even nursed by the entire family gang. They are well aware that their continued survival is dependant on the care of their offspring. They have even been known to risk their own lives to protect these youngsters.

The Watch Guard

One way in which the meerkat shows its intelligence is by the establishment of the family watch guard. Meerkats take turns keeping watch over the brood, scanning the horizon for predators while the rest of the family frolics in the sun in peace. If one of the common predators of the meerkat is spotted, the family member who is standing watch will warn the others with a very distinct bark.

Thriving in the Desert

Meerkats are perfect for life in the desert. The markings around their eyes help to reduce the glare of the sun, while the shape of their eyes allow them to see things in a wide angle view. They are master burrowers, living in an expensive network of tunnels that they dig safely below the ground.

Meerkats are Omnivores

One surprising fact about meerkats is that they are omnivores. They eat both plants and animals, and enjoy delicacies that include bugs. Meerkats are known to eat other small rodents, lizards, scorpions, birds, eggs and fruit. They are wonderful hunters, capable of disarming a scorpion from its poisonous stinger in an instant. Since the meerkat does not store body fat well, they forage for food on a daily basis.

Plan Your African Safari Vacation

Would you like to see the magnificent meerkat up close and personal in its natural habitat? Then keep an eye out on your African safari vacation for one of the cleverest families in the land. To start planning your trip, visit our safari tours page or contact a representative with Roho Ya Chui today.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Why You Should Be Camera Ready

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A trip to Africa is a once in a lifetime vacation opportunity for many people. Going through a safari will allow you to see many of the continent’s native creatures in their natural habitats. You will have a new appreciation for conserving these beautiful animals and the landscapes in which they live. There is culture to explore, sights to see and landmarks to visit. You will want to remember this trip and the amazing experiences for the rest of your life — which is where your camera is essential. While on your safari vacation, you should not miss out on documenting your favorite moments or surprises. Here are some examples of why you should be camera ready.

  1. The Sun Rises and Sets Over Beautiful Scenery

You can look the whole world over and it would be very difficult to find a more beautiful sunset than that of the one you will see over the African savannah. The sunrise over the magnificent Victoria Falls is also incredible. Not only will you want to remember these images for the rest of you life, but you will want to share them with your friends.

  1. You Can See Africa From the Air

Did you know that one of the most beautiful ways to see Africa is by an airplane? Not only does this allow you to see a good bit of area in a short amount of time, but a tour by air is also the perfect opportunity to take many stunning pictures.

  1. The Animals are Unpredictable

Safari tourists know that they will have the opportunity to see Africa’s incredible creatures, but it might not sink in that you are in their wild, natural habitat until you witness a wild hunt or mega sized migration. When you are out looking for the animals, always expect the unexpected and have your camera ready.

  1. A Bird Watching Paradise

Africa is home to thousands of bird species that range in size from the enormous ostrich to tiny hummingbird species. Some are quite unique, while others are grand and regal. You never know when one of these incredible birds will fly your way. Africa is certainly a bird watching paradise.

  1. The People are Interesting

Africa would not be the same without the unique people who call it home. The locals have a true respect for the land and life within it, and are also very welcoming towards tourists. You will certainly make a few friends, and you may even witness some cultural experiences that are worth your while to document.

Plan Your African Safari Vacation

An African safari vacation is an incredible journey that will broaden your horizons and give you a new respect for the world that you are living in. On your trip to Africa, be sure to have your camera ready. You will not want to miss a thing. If you would like more information, visit our safari tours page or contact a representative with Roho Ya Chui, today.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa