What to Expect on an African Riverboat Safari

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An African riverboat safari is a less-often considered adventure option that provides many unique benefits. When staying aboard the riverboat, you have the opportunity to let wildlife quite literally come to you. You can also depart on smaller flat-bottomed boats throughout the day to enjoy a leisurely alternative to the game drives or walking safaris.

Those who want to see elephants, hippos, Cape buffalo, exotic birds and many of the most remarkable African species can enjoy doing so on a riverboat cruise while also partaking in delicious meals throughout the day. Here is just a sample of what you can expect:

Up Close Encounters

Many animals you see on game drives are used to the sounds of cars, but others will be elusive. They have few reasons to stray towards the paved roads and well-trod dirt paths in parks except for to get from point A to B. On walking safaris, you often have a better chance at seeing more elusive creatures like wild dogs but must earn the privilege through some quite literal leg work.

By contrast, a boating safari means that the animals often surround you or come close to you despite the presence of a large riverboat or small craft. Animals like elephants and giraffe come to the river to bathe and drink, while others like Cape buffalo make their crossing.

Then, there are semi-aquatic species like crocodiles and hippopotami, which spend most of their day in the water. While gliding past, you are likely to see plenty of eyeballs poking above the river surface.

This distinction is not to say that you should not book walking safaris and game drive tours at all. They can offer access to important regions of parks to enjoy sights and animals you would not otherwise see. But, on the whole, riverboat safaris are an underappreciated way to enjoy wildlife from a different perspective.

A Relaxed Pace

Staying at a game lodge and going on drives means a small amount of scheduling and going from place to place. You still have an itinerary on riverboat safaris, but you will most often be walking out onto the deck to take part in them. Scheduled activities like lunch can take place on these decks while some of Africa’s most majestic creatures glide by.

Five Star Treatment

Many riverboat safari tours roll out the red carpet for their guests with amenities and gourmet foods that would not feel out of place at a luxury resort. The Zambezi Queen, a popular riverboat lodge, serves up gourmet twists on local favorites, including Namibian beef, fresh fish or even the occasional game food like impala filet.

Book Your African Riverboat Safari Vacation Now

Every safari is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but an African riverboat safari is even more special. You can take a look at our African safari tour packages to find the riverfront experience you desire or contact us directly to book a specialty tour today.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

 

Updated Information for African Immunizations

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Part of the appeal of travelling to a foreign country lies in exposing yourself to new experiences. Unfortunately a necessary consequence of this goal is that, in addition to experiencing new sights, sounds and sensations, you will also experience new disease risks that your body is not used to.

Fear of outbreaks among countries also drives them to mandate that foreigners get certain vaccines to protect against the spread of infectious diseases. To help protect yourself and the people you are going to visit from the possible dangers of serious diseases, you should get most or all of the following African immunizations before you travel.

Hepatitis A&B

The risk of contracting hepatitis A is high in most African countries because of inconsistent food preparation and hygiene practices. No matter which country you visit, the CDC highly recommends that you receive a series of hepatitis A immunizations, which come in a series of two shots taken six months apart.

Hepatitis B infections are much less common, but still possible, especially if you are engaging in extended contact with poorer, rural populations in Africa, such as on mission work.

Even with the vaccines, take care when eating and drinking abroad. Contaminated food and water is a common source of hep A and B. Eat only at established restaurants, hotels and other such permanent places that serve food, as opposed to food carts or unregulated businesses that utilize an open kitchen. Try to drink only bottled water, and avoid using ice in your drinks or eating frozen treats like shaved ice.

Yellow Fever

Yellow fever is a mosquito-transmitted disease that can cause severe liver failure. Sub-saharan African countries like D.R. Congo, Uganda and western regions of Kenya are the only areas that carry a risk of yellow fever, as this CDC map shows. You will be required to have proof of immunization if you enter these countries or if you enter other countries after having travelled to affected areas.

In addition to vaccination, you should take steps to prevent mosquito bites during your travels, such as applying repellent, wearing long clothing and sleeping under a net.

Meningitis

Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial infection that attacks the brain as well as the central nervous system. Countries in Africa’s “meningitis belt” of Sub-Saharan Africa, including South Sudan and western areas of Ethiopia, carry the highest risk of infection.

Even if you are not travelling to these specific countries, a meningitis vaccine is recommended to people of all ages throughout their life to avoid a serious, life-threatening infection.

Typhoid Fever

Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection most often caused by eating contaminated food or drink. Vaccination against typhoid fever is recommended for all travellers regardless of their destination.

Additional Recommended African Immunizations

These vaccines are generally recommended to be up-to-date for all people whether they are travelling or staying home:

  • MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)
  • Polio
  • Rabies

Additionally, you should take precautions against biting insects in order to avoid diseases like malaria, dengue fever, chikungunya, sleeping sickness and others.

You can learn more about the recommended vaccines and disease prevention methods based on your destination country by consulting the CDC’s travel immunization portal and also by contacting us for our expert advice.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

 

The famousZambia

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Zambia is home to some of the most spectacular aquatic sites in the world, including its lengthy list of majestic and stunningly unique waterfalls. Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall in the world in terms of sheer size, counts among these.

You will also find all manner of spectacular waterfalls and cascades all throughout the country. Here are our top five we recommend:

Victoria Falls

One of the most iconic natural landmarks in Africa and one of the officially designated “Seven Wonders of the World,” Victoria Falls sits in a league all unto its own. Locals know it as “Mosi-oa-Tunya” or “the smoke that thunders” because its spray and thunderous roar can be seen and heard from miles away.

In total, Victoria Falls measures 5,604 ft in width and 354 ft in height, creating the world’s largest single curtain of falling water. During the height of the rainy season, over five hundred million cubic meters of water cascade over its edge. Cutting through zigzagging gorges, the pools that result from the falls draw rare wildlife from all around the region, including Grant’s zebra, Katanga lions, water buffalo, giraffe, elephants, vervet monkeys, baboons and many more.

Kalambo Falls

Located on the border between Zambia and Tanzania, Kalambo Falls is among the tallest waterfalls in Africa. Here, you will not only find rare sights like marabou stork nests but also fascinating anthropological sites. These extensively excavated sites were once home to prehistoric cultures dating back tens of thousands of years.

Ngonye Falls

Next to Victoria Falls, the Ngonye Falls make up some of the most majestic and incredible waterfalls in Zambia. They surround a wide, horseshoe-shaped basin at the transition point between the Zambezi River’s wide Kalahari flatland region and its more tumultuous and narrower path through basalt rock.

On either end of the falls, you can stand on rocks while the water gushes underneath. Below in the gorge, you will frequently find herds of elephants bathing, drinking or taking a rest.

The Kundalila Falls

The Kundalila Falls are not quite as noteworthy for their water flows as they are for the unique ecological habitat they create. Thin veils of water cascade over a wide swathe of rock, carving out deep pools on the bottom while sending sprays throughout the area. These sprays sustain a striking array of wild flowers as well as a richly diverse community of wildlife.

Lumangwe Falls

These falls are like a thunderous version of Victoria Falls writ small. They are found at a sudden drop in the Kalungwishi River in the Northern Province, providing a remote and frequently secluded camping spot for visitors. New lodges and visitor facilities have also been recently built nearby, making this area the perfect getaway spot for those on safari.

Come See Victoria Falls and the Other Famous Waterfalls of Zambia on a Safari Tour

You can book a trip to Victoria Falls, one of Africa’s most famous locations, as well as to any and all of these other gorgeous waterfalls when you enjoy one of our Zambia safari tour packages. Find your perfect safari vacation itinerary, and then book your trip today!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Safari in the city: Johannesburg

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Going on a safari in South Africa to most people means seeing big cats, rhinos, elephants and other notable species in Kruger Park. While this is certainly a great way to spend your time, you should make certain that you do not miss out on the other aspects of the region’s beauty.

More specifically, you should take a look at cities like Johannesburg to see the unique sights, sounds and experiences they can offer. While a relatively young city by most standards, “Joburg” as it is known by many locals is still steeped in history and rich culture. Anyone interested in getting the full experience of a South African vacation should therefore spend a few days in Johannesburg in order to catch the following attractions:

Johannesburg Botanical Garden

The Johannesburg Botanical Garden can be found in the Emmarentia suburbs to the north of downtown. Far removed from the densely packed bustle of the inner city, this massive 308 acre complex was founded in 1964 as a large rose garden upon a former farm estate.

The Rose Garden, with over 10,000 roses and dozens of world species, still remains a primary draw for visitors, but the park has also expanded to encompass many other areas and themes. Visitors can find a succulent garden, a prehistoric cycad garden, a preserved bird island, and a rare surviving example of a Shakespeare garden.

Johannesburg’s Botanical Garden lands also includes the adjacent Emmarentia Dam, which creates gorgeous, tranquil reservoirs surrounded by trees, walking trails, braai barbeque pits and more, making the park a perfect way to spend the afternoon.

Constitution Hill

Once an example of the oppression that minorities and political dissidents endured in South Africa, Constitution Hill has been transformed into a simultaneous ray of hope for local democracy in addition to a reminder of the mistakes of our past.

This “living museum” was once the site of a political prison as well as the Old Fort first built to protect the Boers from British invaders. These facilities have been transformed into monuments and educational museums, but South Africa’s Constitutional Court also actively operates here, interpreting law and making decisions that it feels are in the general interest of all South African citizens.

Visiting Constitution Hill is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will leave a lasting impression for years to come.

Johannesburg Zoo

You don’t have to go to Kruger or out in the bush to see wildlife in Johannesburg. Our city zoo has a huge variety of exotic species not just from Africa, but all over the world. It contains the only two polar bears in the entire continent, for instance, as well as one of the few breeding centers for white lions in the world.

African Craft Market of Rosebank

This open market is one of the most colorful and unique of any in the world. You will find all sorts of handmade goods, clothing and crafts here, making it the perfect spot to pick up a souvenir for yourself or someone you care about.

Visiting the market also puts you in the neighborhood of Rosebank, one of the more cosmopolitan and tourist-friendly sections of the city. You can tour famous landmarks, see local architecture and observe our city’s beautiful man-made forest while taking a walking along the city streets.

So Much More to See and Do in Johannesburg During Your South African Safari

These attractions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to enjoying yourself during your South African safari vacation. Take a look at our South Africa safari tour packages to get a taste of Kruger as well as tours of Johannesburg and nearby Cape Town during your trip.

Book your African safari vacation today!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya  Chui, Travel Africa

Most Unique African Safari Animals: African Elephant

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The African elephant is a staple of safari iconography, identified just as easily in silhouette as they are in person. Their tall profile, broad backs, sweeping trunks and prominent tusks all make them a unique combination of features unlike anything else on the planet. Many people travel thousands of miles to African countries just to get a glimpse of these huge, majestic beasts.

You can join their ranks and have a camera roll filled with snaps of wild elephant herds when you go an African safari tour and tell your guide that seeing elephants is your priority. Here are some interesting facts to help your search while also helping you understand just how amazing and special the elephant is.

Physical Traits of the African Elephant

African bush elephants are the largest land animal on the planet. Males typically grow to between 10 and 13 feet tall at their shoulder and weigh anywhere from 5,000 to 14,000 lbs. The largest recorded individual was 13.1 ft tall at its shoulders and weighed nearly 22,000 lbs!

Their prehensile trunks can grow seven feet long and weigh up to 400 lbs. These appendages are truly remarkable, acting like a fifth limb used for everything from picking off foliage to moving tree trunks to even acting like a snorkel or a straw.

Zoologists estimate that the trunk has over 100,000 muscles and tendons inside of it, which give it both an incredible amount of strength and substantial dexterity. African elephants have two finger-like “tip” projections on the end of their trunk, which is used to grasp objects as well as feel about with its sense of touch.

Of course, this schnozzola can be used to smell just like ours can. An elephant will raise their trunk into the air and wave it around to gather scent particles like a radar array gathers data. Small scent particles are trapped in the hairs inside the trunk and brought to a highly refined scent gland known as Jacobson’s organ on the roof of the mouth. They can use this organ to detect sexually active females up to 12 miles away. Some trainers are experimenting by using the African elephant’s highly sensitive scent glands to detect explosives or poachers, turning the tables on the people who wish to hunt them into extinction.

These poachers want to hunt them for their valuable ivory tusks. Tusks are incisor teeth modified through generations of evolution to form tools for the elephant. They will use them to dig in the ground, scrape bark off trees, lift objects and other tasks. Males also use them when charging, but bull elephants are more likely to intimidate with their large tusks than risk injury in a full-on charge.

Subspecies of African Elephant

  • Savannah or Bush Elephant — These elephants are the largest subspecies and can be found across the grassy savannah plains throughout southern and central Africa.
  • Forest Elephant — These African elephants are actually considered a separate species by some taxonomists because of their divergent DNA and evolutionary heritage. They are smaller, have darker skin and spend less time foraging compared to their larger bush counterparts.
  • Desert Elephants — These African elephants are not a true subspecies but rather a sub-community that has become partially adapted to dry conditions. They are mostly found in Namibia, but their populations have become extremely threatened by poaching.

Where to Find Elephants on an African Safari Tour

Although their territories have been interrupted by deforestation, poaching and other risks, African elephant populations are still fortunately widespread across the continent. You can find herds roaming Kruger Park in South Africa, the Okavango Delta or Chobe National Park in Botswana, the Amboseli National Park in Kenya and many other locations.

Book your elephant safari today by looking at our comprehensive African safari tour packages.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Most Unique African Safari Animals: Rhinoceros

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There are white and black rhinoceros, yet the black rhino is not only one of the most beautifully unique species on the planet, it is also one that may not be seen for much longer given the current course.

This gorgeous animal grows to 12.3 ft long and five to six feet tall on average, and adults usually weigh 1,800 to 3,100 lbs. Some males even get up to 6,385 lbs — more than an armored humvee!

Its most notable feature, its two striking horns, can grow as long as 55 inches, although they are more often in the 20 inch range. Unfortunately, this world-famous appendage is also the bane of the black rhino’s existence. Poachers slaughter thousands of rhinos every year when they harvest their horns, devastating the already thin numbers. As of now, there are predicted to be less than a few hundred black rhinos located outside of controlled preserves.

Those who go on an African safari have a rare chance at seeing this exquisite species in its own habitat while supporting the cause to protect them from becoming extinct forever.

Difference Between Black and White Rhinos

The black rhino has recently been dubbed the more-accurate common species name of “hook-lipped rhinoceros.” This is because, firstly, the black rhinoceros is not really black but most commonly a range between brown and grey.

Secondly, the most obvious distinguishing trait between the “black” rhino and the white rhino is the shape of their upper lips. Hook-lipped rhinoceros have their characteristic hooked upper lip drooping at an angle atop their lower jaw. This lip is highly flexible, and it can be used to manipulate and strip vegetation branches to obtain the leaves that comprise its diet. The trait marks the hook-lipped rhino as a “browsing” species that eats foliage as opposed to grasses.

By contrast, the white rhino or “square-lipped rhino” grazes upon tall grasses, making a straight, wide upper lip more advantageous when pulling in vegetation. An additional difference between the species is that the white rhino is generally larger in height, length and weight.

Where to See the Black Rhino on African Safari

As a critically endangered species, black rhino populations are isolated to a few scattered wildlife preserves as well as a handful of unprotected areas.

One of the best places to observe black rhinos is at the Laikipia District in Kenya. There, the Ol Pejeta Wildlife Reserve qualifies as the world’s largest black rhino sanctuary, and the Lew Wildlife Conservancy nearby has had great success deterring poachers while growing their local black rhino population.

The Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania is home to quite a few black rhinos. You will also find elephants, wild dogs and a huge diversity of bird species there.

Those who want to spot the rare free-ranging black rhino can find examples of desert-adapted subspecies along the Damaraland and Palmwag regions of western Namibia.

Finally, South Africa has a few scattered populations of black rhino near the Southern Kalahari region at the Tswalu Kalahari Private Reserve as well as the Madikwe Game Reserve, which is just four hours northwest of Johannesburg.

You can pick any of these destinations along with many others when you book one of our many African safari tour packages today.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa