Cats You’ll Find at Kruger National Park

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When you go on safari, there are a variety of sights and sounds that you should be sure to experience. However, if you’re like most people, your main safari goal is seeing big cats that you can only find in Africa, and if seeing these exotic creatures is your top reason for traveling to Africa, you should be sure that your safari includes a stop in Kruger National Park.

One of Africa’s most famous wildlife areas, Kruger is home to several interesting cat species and is the top spot to visit if you want to see gorgeous animal life on your trip. Here are some of the cats that you can see at Kruger National Park that will guarantee you’ll have an exciting African safari vacation.

Experience Lions

Although there are several cats you can see while visiting Kruger, lions are the most possible. Both graceful and deadly, lions are a sight to behold in any scenario but are particularly breathtaking when viewed in person.

The great thing about visiting Kruger is that you’ll be able to see a whole pride of lions, including lion cubs, allowing you to get your fill of these majestic creatures. In Kruger, as in other parts of Africa, lions will usually be found near where they hunt, meaning you should also be able to see game herds while viewing lions.

See Leopards in Person

While they may not be as popular as lions, you should be sure that your trip to Kruger includes some time watching leopards. Despite being the second largest cat you can see in Africa, leopards are very shy, meaning they can be easy to miss if you don’t know where to look.

Unlike lions, which travel in groups, leopards prefer to be on their own, and can usually be found slinking through the bush. If you want to see leopards while you’re trekking through Kruger, you should look near rocky outcrops or wooded areas near rivers.

Look Quick for Cheetahs

Another cat that you can see while you’re visiting Kruger National Park is the Cheetah. World-famous for their speed, cheetahs are lithe creatures that save most of their energy for hunting. The rest of the time, they can usually be found around water. In Kruger, you should be easily able to see cheetahs by taking a trip to the crocodile river.

While you’re on your African safari vacation, you may see a cheetah without even realizing. Because they’re both spotted, it can be extremely easy to confuse leopards and cheetahs. However, once you know a few differences between these cats, it should be easy to tell which is which.

The primary difference between cheetahs and leopards is that leopards are much large, with defined muscles. Cheetahs are much skinner, built for speed and not power. You can also tell which cat you’re seeing by where they’re located. Where leopards prefer to stay hidden, you will usually find cheetahs out in the open. So, if you see a spotted cat lying about without regard to who sees it, you’re dealing with a cheetah.

Make sure that your African safari vacation includes a stop at Kruger National Park and you can see some of the world’s most interesting big cats.

The Most Effective Safari Safety Tips

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As most experienced travelers will tell you, there is no more exciting vacation than going on African safari. On a safari, you’ll be able to meet new friends, sample delicious cuisine, and experience some of the most exotic sights and sounds in the entire world.

While a safari is a once in a lifetime experience, it is also a much different vacation than any trip on which you’ve ever been, which is why it’s a good idea to get a few tips so that you can have the safest, most enjoyable holiday possible. Here are a few easy safari safety tips that you can use on your next holiday to make sure that you have an exciting trip free from harm.

Getting Ready Before Your Trip

If you want to make sure that you enjoy the safest African safari possible, then you need to start preparing before you even book your flight. With a little preparation, you can avoid many of the risks of safari before your trip even begins, giving you total peace of mind.

As many people know, malaria is a risk in many locations in Africa, so it’s important that you take malaria pills on your trip. While you’re on safari, you should be sure to sleep under mosquito nets to reduce your risk any further.

You will also need to make sure you are up to date on your vaccinations before you leave on your trip. In particular, you need to make sure you’re vaccinated for hepatitis and Yellow Fever, both of which are a threat on safari.

Finally, it’s a good idea to purchase medical travel insurance prior to your trip. Extra coverage will help you more quickly receive medical treatment if you’re injured on your vacation.

Safely Viewing Game

For most people, the biggest benefit of going on African safari is being able to see wild animals in their natural habitat. Because most people are accustomed to seeing these animals in a zoo, it’s common to forget that these creatures can be threatened by humans, sometimes resulting in attacks that can put your health in serious jeopardy. By following a few simple rules, you can safely enjoy exotic animal life while on Safari.

When you’re on a game drive, you should remain as quiet as possible, as human activity is likely to agitate the animals. You should also keep your arms and legs inside of your safari vehicle at all times. Although the animals are sometimes used to vehicles, they are not as accustomed to the presence of humans. Try to avoid eating on your game drive, and always make sure you’re properly attired. Bring along warm clothing, sunscreen, and hats so that you’re prepared for every weather situation.

If you plan on taking a walking safari, you should never go without a guide, as they are trained how to safely navigate the bush. Walk in single file, never run, and be sure to wear subdued clothing, as animals will be attracted to bright colors.

Follow these safari safety tips while you’re on your next African safari tour, and you’ll have a safe trip that you’ll remember for a lifetime.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

Why You Should Go on a Safari in Winter

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Contrary to what you might think, winter is one of the best times of the year to go on vacation. By taking a trip during the cooler months, you can break up the dreary winter season with a fun and exciting getaway, particularly if you make your next trip a winter safari.

Going on a safari is an exciting experience, regardless of the time of the year, but it is particularly memorable when your safari is also a winter vacation. Find out why a winter safari is your best choice for a vacation, and learn how you can easily plan your trip with help from a trusted company.

Cooler Temperatures

Although summer can be a great time to go on a safari, you will also have to deal with extremely high temperatures that can become dangerous if you’re not adequately prepared. For instance, summer temperatures in Africa are typically between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit, if not higher.

Conversely, when you visit Africa in winter, you will experience much more comfortable temperatures, typically in the mid- to high-70s. With these temperatures, you can stay out in nature much longer and will have a more enjoyable experience. However, you should be sure to pack warm clothing, as the nighttime temperatures can get downright chilly.

Stay Dry

Many people plan safaris during the summer months to see as many exotic animals as possible. While this makes sense, popular tourist regions of Africa, such as Kruger, experience their rainy season during the summer. This means your safari adventures have a high probability of being washed out if you visit during the summer.

By booking your safari for the winter season, you will be able to avoid the wettest months of the year. Additionally, if you time your vacation correctly, you should still be able to see the breathtaking animal life for which Africa is known. Staying dry and having a great time is much easier when you go on a safari during the winter months.

Increased Safety

There are several hazards that you need to avoid on your African safari, including serious diseases like malaria. During the summer months in Africa, the mosquito population explodes, bringing an increased risk of malaria and other diseases transmitted by these insects.

Once the weather turns drier and cooler in certain regions of Africa, the number of mosquitoes drops substantially, meaning your trip will be much more enjoyable and with a lower risk of contracting malaria. If you want to make sure that your African safari is as safe as possible, consider booking a trip during the winter.

Beat the Crowds

One of the most frustrating aspects of vacationing in a popular destination is having to fight the crowds. A great reason to plan your African safari during winter is that the peak travel season will be over, meaning you’ll be able to enjoy the scenery and wildlife without having to navigate around large groups of tourists. Traveling during the winter season means having a much more relaxed vacation because you won’t have to deal with other vacationers.

Book your African safari during the winter if you want a cold weather getaway packed with thrills.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

How to Take Gorgeous Safari Pictures

take dad on safari for fathers day

A key part of going on vacation is taking enough pictures so that you can remember your trip for years to come. While photography is an crucial part of any trip, it is particularly important when  you’re visiting a breathtakingly gorgeous location like Africa.

While on your African safari, you want to be sure that you take pictures that both look great and are an accurate reflection of your trip. Luckily, with the right tips at your disposal, photographing your African safari can be fun and easy. Here is some quick advice to help you take great safari pictures, and tips for planning the African safari that’s right for you and your family.

Lighting Tips

As any photographer knows, the key to taking a great picture is getting the right lighting. However, this can be especially difficult in Africa, where the light is much harsher and brighter than many people are used to. Instead of trying to adjust to this severe light, you should plan your picture taking for the times of day where the light is gentler. Taking pictures at dusk and dawn, for example, will result in beautiful pictures you’ll cherish for the rest of your life.

Planning your photographs for sunrise and sunset provides several benefits. First, as mentioned, the light is much more conducive to successful photography. Secondly, animals are much more active at these times of day, increasing your chances of a memorable shot.

Choose Your Shots

People going on safari for the first time often want to take as many pictures as possible, filling digital memory cards or rolls of film with thousands of pictures. While it’s understandable that you may want to take a photo of everything you see on safari, constantly taking photos can actually cause you to miss important sights, and may result in blurry, unattractive pictures.

When you’re taking safari pictures, you should be discerning about where and when you photograph. For example, if you see an animal in the shade, either wait for it to move into the light or give your camera time to adjust so that you can take a clear, attractive picture. Limiting the amount of pictures you take will help you stay present on your safari and will increase your chances of a fantastic photo.

Picking Your Equipment

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when they’re photographing Africa is choosing the wrong equipment. For instance, if you bring multiple lenses on your safari, then you may spend more time adjusting your camera than enjoying your trip. When it comes to taking pictures on your safari, less is always more.

Choose one lens for your camera so that you aren’t constantly tweaking your equipment. Also, instead of breaking the bank for an expensive camera, invest most of your money in a safari package that will let you experience the sites up close and personal. Not only will this ensure better pictures, but it will give you a more exciting safari.

Photographing Adventures

Another factor you should consider is whether you want to spend your entire safari looking through the viewfinder of your camera. An African safari is a once in a lifetime experience, and getting that perfect picture may not be worth what you missed. Consider reserving one day of your safari for picture taking, and then spend the rest of your trip immersing yourself in the natural beauty you’ll only find in Africa.

By sticking to these simple picture taking tips and making sure you have the right equipment, you can easily photograph your next African safari.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

Why You Should Go on a Christmas Safari Holiday This Year

take dad on safari for fathers day

Christmas is a magical time of year for millions of people throughout the world, and it also happens to be the perfect time to go on an African safari tour with your family or closest friends.

In Africa, some describe December as the “rainy season,” but don’t expect torrential downpours and mud everywhere you go. In fact, many locals call this time of year the “green season” instead as frequent rains mean more vegetation. Animals get to dine voraciously, and most use the opportunity to sire a new generation. Tourism is also down, so prices tend to be deeply discounted to attract more people. These are just some of the reasons why Christmas safari holidays are an amazing experience and an alternative worth considering.

If you have always wanted to trade in a white Christmas for a green one filled with stunning wildlife and peaceful beaches, consider the following 5 reasons why you should go on a Christmas African safari holiday this year.

Less Crowds

In Southern and Eastern Africa, most safari game lodges and private reserves shut down to the public around mid to late January. This time of year coincides with the heaviest rains, which make roads muddy and difficult to traverse, even in the best of 4x4s.

In December, however, rains are frequent but light. Lodges, parks and reserves are all still accessible, yet bookings have already started to slack off. What this means is that you are far more likely to book a room at your favorite lodge during this time of year! You can also enjoy having fewer people on game drives as well as at airports and elsewhere near typical safari destinations.

You and your family can enjoy privacy and a more intimate experience at your lodge thanks to the thinned crowds and the eager staff ready to please their smaller pool of guests.

Cheaper Rates

As demand slows, prices go down in order to spur more business. Luxury game lodges near famous safari parks like Kruger, Mana Pools and the Serengeti tend to offer discounted rates, especially for big families. You can also receive special add-ons, like complimentary sundowners or a no-charge-added Christmas feast filled with African and European delights.

If you have always wanted to experience an African safari trip but were worried about your budget, Christmas time is the perfect period to visit most places at an affordable rate.

Tons of Adorable Newborn Animals

As greenery becomes plentiful, many animals in the bush take the opportunity to breed. Parks teem with adorable baby animals, like elephant calfs, lion cubs, wild dog pups, warthog piglets and more. Spotting these animals in the thicker, green grasses can be difficult, but many guides and trackers make it their specialty to locate young animals during the low season.

Incredible Greenery and Migratory Birds Galore

The rains and extra greenery create spectacular landscapes that truly show how Africa’s savannas and wetlands come alive. Migratory birds especially love this time of year in central to southern Africa, so bird lovers will get their fill of unique, exotic and spectacular birds at places like the Okavango Delta.

Milder Weather

Weather cools down during the rainy season quite a bit. In fact, many of the top non-safari destinations like Cape Town’s beaches and Lake Victoria resorts tend to have some of their best weather. The occasional thunderstorm is often followed by periods of blue skies, light breezes and plenty of sun.

Special Events and Celebrations

Game lodges know how special Christmas is to visitors, so they usually pull out all of the stops to prepare special holiday feasts or activities. Cities also often hold special events, like Johannesburg’s Christmas markets for gifts, crafts and seasonal treats. Events like these happen at no other time of the year, making Christmas a special and unique time to visit Africa on safari.

Book Your Christmas Safari Holiday in Africa Now!

Now is the perfect time to plan your trip to Africa for a special Christmas holiday adventure. Contact us today to book a custom Christmas safari vacation package, or look at our many available pre-planned African safari tour packages to get your season started off right.

Also, stay posted for a list of the absolute best things to do and places to visit on safari in Africa during Christmastime!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

Going on Your First African Safari Trip? Here’s 8 Helpful Travel Tips

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Africa has all sorts of wonderful experiences in store for first-time visitors, and with a few bits of advice from seasoned travellers, you can make the most of every moment. Learn what to do — and sometimes what not to do — when visiting the continent on your first African safari tour by reading on.

 

Research the History, Language and Culture of the Region You Are Going to Visit

Africa is the second-largest continent on the planet, big enough to fit the U.S., all of China, India, Japan and most of Europe within its borders. Just think for a moment about how different the culture is within regions of your own state, and you can begin to understand how diverse Africa is.

We say this so that you are able to appreciate the more unique aspects of the region you are visiting. Many first-time visitors make the mistake of thinking that “all Africa is alike” when regional differences can be quite stark.

To achieve the right frame of mind and prepare for deeper learning during your travels, take a second to look up the history of the country or major city you are visiting. For instance, you may learn that Kenya used to be under British rule until 1963, which can help you understand more about the country’s unique political beliefs. If you have more time, take a moment to look up the major languages spoken so that you can catch more subtext within the signage and snippets of conversation you hear.

 

Bring an Old Cell Phone, Outlet Adapter, and a Spare Power Bank

Your normal cell phone service likely won’t work abroad, but you can always purchase a cheap SIM card and prepaid service in the country where you arrive. Buy an unlocked phone off eBay or Craigslist, and make sure it is fully charged and loaded with important contacts before your trip begins. Taking this phone with you reduces the risk that your personal phone could get lost or stolen.

Also, be sure to have an outlet adapter for the shape of the outlet of the country you will be entering as well as spare power bank chargers.

 

Spread Your Money and Cards Around

When travelling, don’t keep all of your money and cards in a single place. Keep some in a body wallet worn close to you, and spread the rest around in secure, easy-to-find locations. That way, you are less likely to misplace or lose all of your funds, and you still have access to money even in a worst-case scenario.

 

Will Your Way Through Jet Lag

Jet lag is mostly a state of mind, so fighting your body’s internal clock can help you adjust more quickly. No matter what time you are used to doing things, force yourself to eat and sleep on a normal schedule during your stay. The more you can warm up to the new time zone, the better-able you will be able to enjoy things like early morning bush walks.

As an added trick: set your wristwatch to the new time zone you will be visiting a week before your trip to start gearing up mentally.

 

Write Down the Name and Number of a Good Driver

Ask your hotel front desk or game lodge manager if they know of a reliable transit service, or, better yet, the name and number of a trustworthy driver.

Finding a good cab driver in a major city like Johannesburg is like knowing your own personal superhero. You can give them a call to catch a reliable ride anywhere you need to go, and they will often drop what they are doing to pick up an out-of-town customer since they can earn more from them.

 

Learn More Advice, and Book Your African Safari Tour Now!

You can learn more tips for travelling, enjoying your safari and making the most of your African experience when you contact us today for personalized advice on how you can craft the perfect safari holiday experience. Take a look at some of our sample African safari vacation packages to see what could be in store for you.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

All About the Hyrax, the Elephant’s Cousin That Looks Like a Rodent

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In a continent full of unique and unusual animals, the plucky hyrax still manages to stand out. These medium-sized mammals are survivors of a primitive group of species that later split off to evolve into elephants, manatees and dugongs. They have some interesting characteristics, including complex barking “songs” and elephant-like rubbery footpads adapted for climbing.

You can find the four different species of hyrax all throughout Africa during an African safari tour. Observing them in the wild is a rare treat that makes them every bit as worth seeking out as any of the Big Five.

The Four Species of Hyrax

There are four different species of hyrax — also called “dassies” by those who speak Afrikaans — and they all have their own distinct habits and habitat ranges.

  • Rock Hyrax — Also called the “rock badger,” these hyraxes are highly social and adept climbers thanks to their thick rubber-like pads. They spend 95% of their time sleeping or resting in the sun.
    • Distribution: Cape Hyraxes are found along the coasts of South Africa and Namibia as well as across Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Yellow-Spotted Hyrax — Also called the “bush hyrax” or the “yellow-spotted rock hyrax” this species lives in clusters of boulders and rocky natural outcroppings found on the plains called kopjes. They are smaller and less-round than the rock hyrax.
    • Distribution: Found along the eastern coast of Africa and also within limited areas of Angola.
  • Western Tree Hyrax — Unlike the social rock hyraxes, this hyrax tends to live alone within tree clusters. They have coarser fur and unique white markings that resemble eyebrows or beards.
    • Distribution: Found in a limited range in western subtropical Africa, including the D.R. Congo and southern Cameroon.
  • Southern Tree Hyrax — The most elusive and smallest of the hyrax species, the southern tree hyrax lives alone or in pairs. They prefer humid regions of forests and savannas as well as rocky areas.
    • Distribution: A limited range in east-central Africa, including most of Tanzania and parts of the D.R. Congo.

Hyrax Size and Appearance

Hyraxes appear similar to rodents or guinea pigs, with the rock hyrax looking rather rotund and the other species looking more-lean. They can grow up to 28 inches in length and 11 pounds.

Hyraxes have interesting teeth structures, with front incisors that grow out into tusk-like formations, similar to their elephant cousins. They also have hoof-like blunt nails that resemble elephant feet.

Hyrax Group Behaviors

The two rock hyrax species are highly social, living in groups of up to 30. As a result of their social organization, they show signs of high intelligence, including the ability to communicate through 20 different vocal noises. In captivity, they tend to be extremely “talkative,” responding actively to caregivers when they approach. They also make chomping/chewing movements as a form of communication.

Unique Adaptations

All hyrax species have unique foot pad structures and sweat glands in between their toes to help them grip rocks and tree trunks. The foot muscles all curve inward to create a suction-cup-like grip.

Another interesting adaptation is the hyrax’s highly efficient kidneys, which can filter waste with minimal use of water. In fact, their concentrated urine creates mineral deposits over time called hyraceum, and the musky scent is highly prized as an ingredient in perfumes.

One thing the hyraxes are not well-adapted for is maintaining their internal heat. Rock hyraxes in particular must huddle together, rest frequently and bask in the sun to maintain their internal body temperature.

See Rock Hyraxes and Other Incredible Species During Your African Safari Tour

You can encounter hyraxes and other charming, unique creatures during your African safari trip when you book one of our safari tour packages.

Take a look at our sample safari tours to book your trip today, and contact us if you want to create a custom safari vacation where you can meet hyraxes in person.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui