The History of Kruger National Park

photographic-safari-packages-south-africa-masai-mara-kenya-botswana-tanzania-namibia-self-drive-transfer

Kruger National Park is South Africa’s first national park and one of the largest game reserves in the world. Every year, it hosts millions of visitors from all over the world anxious to go on an African Big Five safari tour and see the continent’s most celebrated, majestic wildlife. The efforts the South African government and local private reserve operators put in also make Kruger one of the most convenient, comfortable and easy-to-reach destinations for Big Five safari tours.

The current success and popularity of Kruger would never have happened without the hard efforts of past South African government officials and passionate conservationists. Learn more about the park’s history and how it came be one of the most popular wildlife preservations in the world by reading on.

Small Beginnings: The Sabi Game Reserve

The Sabi Game reserve was established in 1898 by the former South African Republic. Early park commissioners established a general area equivalent to just over 4,000 square miles. Soon after the game reserve lands were declared, the Second Boer War broke out. A resulting British victory caused all of the formerly Dutch-held Transvaal lands to be transferred to British rule.

The British appointed several wardens to the reserve, and the third one, James Stevenson-Hamilton, became successful at expanding the role of park management. He appointed his own game rangers, assigning them territories to protect within Sabi and surrounding areas. By 1903, a new reserve was established nearby, the Shingwedzi Game Reserve. In 1906, the first hunting ban was enacted between the Olifants and Letaba Rivers.

Around 1916, some within the commission in charge of operating the reserves began to request that the boundaries be shrunk to make way for industry, hunting and exploitation of resources. A report was conducted to study the effects, but when it was released in 1918, it firmly established that not only would the reserves remain intact, but that they would be developed for visitation and easier access to game wardens.

As the report wrote: “The provincial administration should be directed toward the creation of the area ultimately as a great national park where the natural and prehistoric conditions of our country can be preserved for all time.”

The Formation of Kruger National Park

Tourists first began to visit the Sabi reserve in 1923 as part of South African Railways’ renowned “Round in Nine” tours. At the time, park visits consisted of a short bush walk while escorted by armed rangers. These walks proved so popular that the efforts to expand them hastened the establishment of the reserve area as a true national park.

The park was officially proclaimed in 1926, and it was named after the former South African Republic president Paul Kruger, who governed from 1825 to 1904. The first game three tourist vehicles wound their way through Kruger in 1927. Visitors then had to establish their own camps in the bush since the park was devoid of any amenities.

Road construction began that same year, and by 1929 over 383 miles of road were created. In 1948, the park hit a new record of 58,739 visitors. However, the first sealed tarmac roads were not created until 1965. The park was seeing around 300,000 annual visitors by that time.

Visiting Kruger and Big Five Safari Tours Now

Today, Kruger remains one of the most popular natural destinations in the world. Over 1.6 million visitors came to the park in the 2014/2015 season, with 382,396 guests staying overnight.

Big five safari tours and game drives remain one of the most popular attractions in the park, with dozens of comfortable safari lodging options to accommodate a wide variety of budgets and preferences.

If you are interested in visiting Kruger on a safari tour of your own, we offer many different South African safari tour packages to choose from. You can select from a range of amazing and transformative experiences, or you can create your own custom safari tour package when you contact us today!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

 

Safari in the City: Windhoek

windhoek

Namibia safari tours offer wild adventures in desert landscapes, the awe-inspiring Fish River Canyon and among the savannas of Etosha Park. But, the country of Namibia also offers plenty of cosmopolitan comforts in its capital city, Windhoek.

Windhoek is a historic city that shows off the region’s unique mixings of cultures and lifestyles. The city as it is now was formally established by the Imperial German Army in 1890, taking over from Dutch Afrikaans settlers after the original settlement had fallen into neglect. Now, Windhoek stands at over 330,000 strong and growing. Afrikaans, German, Oshiwambo, Khoekhoe, Kwangali, Herero and multiple Bantu languages are all languages that can be heard and seen in the city.

Cultural experiences Windhoek offers include gourmet dining at an authentic castle, world class museums, incredible shopping, gorgeous historical sites and more. Read on to discover the most incredible sights you can see during your trip to Namibia as part of an African safari holiday.

Christuskirche

“Christ Church” is a Lutheran Church established in 1910 by German colonialists. The church features Carrara marble imported from Italy, and its peaked steeple and clock were shipped directly from Germany. Emperor Wilhelm II gifted the church’s massive stained glass windows for its chapel.

Visiting the humble yet magnificent church offers both a trip to the past and a treat for those who appreciate gorgeous architecture. The church is also located near the Tintenpalast, Namibia’s seat of parliament, so visiting it allows you to also see the nearby Parliament Gardens and gorgeous government buildings.

Namibia Crafts Centre

Finding beautiful handmade crafts in traditional African markets can be a bit like panning for gold — the good stuff is there, you just have to know where to look. From that standpoint, Namibia Crafts Centre is a mine filled wall-to-wall with pure gold.

The outlet sells incredible finished handmade Namibian crafts, including woven baskets, pottery, leatherwork, needlepoint, paintings, embroidery, jewelry, hand-sewn garments and more. All displayed pieces reveal the origin of the piece and its respective artist. Prices are very reasonable, so you are almost guaranteed to find the perfect sentimental gift to take back home to someone you care about.

Delicious Food

Whether you love local African favorites like Kapana or want to sample new twists on gourmet dishes from Germany and Britain, Windhoek has lots in store for your gastro-enjoyment.

Leo’s at the Castle is a must-visit for anyone interested in atmospheric fine dining. The restaurant is located inside the Hotel Heinitzburg, which itself is housed in an authentic European castle constructed by architect Wilhelm Sander. The patio overlooks Namibia’s skyline, making for a breathtaking and unforgettable experience.

Other great places to dine at include:

  • The Stellenbosch Wine Bar and Bistro
  • The Social
  • Craft Cafe
  • Sardinia Blue Olive
  • O Portuga
  • Old Continental Cafe & Take Away

Lively Nightlife

Windhoek is alive with tourists and locals alike seeking good times well into the night. Joe’s Beer House has a wide selection of both Namibian and German beers, making it worth lingering at for hours if you are a beer lover. The Boiler Room @ The Warehouse Theatre spins live music and has dancing until the morning hours.

Museums and Attractions

There are far too many amazing attractions to mention when visiting Windhoek, but some of the most popular include:

  • National Botanic Garden of Namibia
  • National Museum of Namibia
  • Trans-Namib Railroad Museum
  • Owela Museum
  • Mary’s Catholic Cathedral
  • Daan Viljoen Nature Reserve

Book a Namibia Safari Tour Now to Experience Windhoek’s Wonder and Glamour

If you are interested in seeing Windhoek during your African safari tour, take a look at our sample Namibia safari tour packages, and then contact us to create your own custom Namibian safari experience today!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

Secrets of Namibia: Explore the Skeleton Coast

2016-11-02_africa_0331

You can find the Skeleton Coast in the northern part of South Africa’s Namibia coast. It stretches alongside the Atlantic Ocean, south of Angola from the Kunene River. Over time, it has been referred to as “the gates of hell.” But the Skeleton Coast isn’t just a destination for horror fanatics. In fact, despite the storied history of crashed vessels and shipwrecks, the Skeleton Coast is popular today as an excellent place for surfing.

Curious about the history of the Skeleton Coast? Eager to hit the waves? Explore the Skeleton Coast of Namibia on your African safari journey and take home a story to remember!

About The Skeleton Coast

The Skeleton Coast gets its name from a myriad of sources. For one, when the whaling industry was at its peak, whale and seal bones littered the shore, leaving literal skeletons behind as the rest of the animals were harvested. Today, a different type of carcass can also be stumbled upon: rusting ships and boat debris from the numerous accidents and tragedies that have befallen sailors who took on the seas while unprepared, battling intense winds and shifting currents as well as a cold, dense fog.

One of these vessels, the MV Dunedin Star, ran aground in 1942. A complicated but successful mission saved all of its passengers and crew, and the historical rescue was documented in a novel by John Henry Marsh, published in 1944. The book’s title? Skeleton Coast. The name has stuck to maps and with locals ever since.

Exclusive Shores

The Skeleton Coast National Park contains the most inaccessible shores, seized by a combination of harsh weather conditions, loose sands and massive shipwrecks. To best navigate the coast, the park is divided into two sections, north and south. The southern section can be traversed by 4-wheel drive vehicles, and you can drive as far up as the Ugab River Gate before the terrain becomes too dangerous. The northern section can only be explored by plane.

Salt Pans, Clay Castles and Seal Colonies

But it’s not just a bleak history tour. In the northern half of the park, you can visit the Agate Mountain salt pans and the clay castles of the Hoarusib River for some breathtaking views or ideal photography opportunities. For an extra delight, you can also go to Cape Fria and see a huge seal colony, with almost 50,000 seals taking advantage of the fish and plankton that fill the waters.

Epic Surfing Spots

Then, in the southern region, grab a surfboard and join the many thrill seekers in the ocean. Swells consistently hit along the Skeleton Coast and, with enough training and tact, you can find some epic spots to surf. The water produces waves in fast and thick bursts, with strong tidal rips crashing in. Follow the line of surfers from May to September and keep an eye out for sharks — for surfer enthusiasts, the experience will be well worth it!

Namibia Safari Tours: See More of Africa

It sounds brutal, but despite its perilous reputation, the Skeleton Coast is a beautiful spot to discover — and certainly unique as a tourist destination. Some tours can be costly, particularly to the northern region of the park, where extra travel precautions must be taken. However, a trip to the Skeleton Coast will more than make up for it with the exclusivity of experiencing one of the best kept secrets of Namibia.

So what are you waiting for? Namibia safari tour packages are available right now and can be customized however you choose. Earn your bragging rights by braving the Skeleton Coast. Or, at the very least, make friends with some seals. Book your trip today!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

Where to Visit Africa in August

how-is-christmas-on-african-safari

Africa’s predictable seasons make planning your African safari tour easy. Different parts of the continent have peak visiting times throughout the year for various attractions, helping you pick the most astonishing and memorable activities to take part in during your trip depending on the time you choose.

If you aim to visit Africa in August, for instance, it is the perfect time for both viewing wild game and experiencing some of the most incredible cities on the continent. To help you plan your trip, take a look at the following exciting places to see and activities you can do there.

Botswana

August means that the long, dry winter season in southern Africa is finally winding to a close. During the course of the winter, a lack of rain causes much of the vegetation to die and the temporary water holes to deplete.

This may not sound like the most scenic time to visit, but less vegetation means it will be easier to spot animals that are unable to hide in the tall summer grasses. A lack of water also means that many animals like elephants, lions, gazelle and antelope will all gather near the remaining rivers and permanent water holes, creating spectacular interactions and perfect photo ops.

To get the best viewing in Botswana during your August safari, make sure to visit Chobe National Park and the Moremi Game Reserve.

Namibia

Winter in Africa can bring some surprisingly chilly winds and frigid nights. In August, these temperatures finally begin to inch their way back up, creating the perfect in-between weather for a light jacket and mild days.

There may be no better time on the calendar to visit the deserts of Namibia. You can take sunrise pictures of the towering dunes to capture magnificent photos worthy of a National Geographic spread.

Cape Town, South Africa

Mild weather makes Cape Town a veritable paradise in August. The incredible wildflowers of Table Mountain first begin to bloom around this time, and many wineries are just beginning to roll out the red carpet for Spring’s slew of guests.

Whale watching is also incredible during this time of year. Many pods of southern right whales converge upon South Africa’s coast to calve during this time, offering one of the best opportunities of the year to see them breaching with their mates and newborn calves.

Zambia

Travelling to Zambia in August offers a fair mix of weather and small crowds as the area’s bush camps begin to prepare for their busy season. Mana Pools National Park is a great place to visit during this time as there are few mosquitos, the days are often clear and wildlife viewing is optimal thanks to the thinned vegetation.

You could also travel to South Luangwa National Park for a unique canoeing safari trip where you can get up close and personal with some of the continent’s most iconic animals.

Lake Malawi

The start of spring also happens to be amazing beach weather, giving you a wonderful excuse to explore the crystal clear blue waters of Lake Malawi on a sailboat or kayak.

Book Your August African Safari Tour Now to Save

Booking your African safari tour for August right now can give you the perfect opportunity to save on lodging and game viewing rates. As the peak tourism season approaches, many game lodges and camps still struggle with vacancies and sometimes offer incentives to fill their books.

Take a look at our sample African safari tour itineraries to get an idea of the amazing time you could be having on your luxurious African vacation in August.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

What to Expect on a Game Drive During Your African Safari Tour

what-kind-of-african-safari-activities-are-available-around-kruger-park

When people think of an “African safari tour,” they are typically thinking of game drives. Parks like Kruger and the Maasai Mara are enormous, so riding in a vehicle is one of the best ways to cover a lot of ground without getting exhausted. You can also make sure to see some of the best viewing experiences all in short time.

You are definitely encouraged to try other sorts of activities during your stay, such as a “bush walk” walking safari or a canoeing safari upon a river, but game drives will likely comprise a large portion of your wildlife viewings and give you a chance to become more familiar with a park.

So what can first-timers expect on a game drive? Even though every experience is unique and every lodge will do drives differently, there are plenty of common threads. You can learn about a typical game drive by reading on.

Open Air Vehicles

Most game drive vehicles have an open top for maximum viewing. There are three rows of seats that can accommodate 2-3 people each. These are raised like theatre seats so that each row is taller than the one in front, with the rear row as the tallest. One person may have the option to sit next to the ranger in the front, which will be the lowest seat but one with unobstructed front views.

Usually Two Guides: A Ranger and a Spotter

You will be most likely accompanied by two people on your drive. A ranger drives the vehicle and is responsible for serving as your direct guide, telling you stories and information while answering questions. The second person is a “spotter,” who stays focused on helping you locate wildlife while keeping an eye out for possible threats.

Interacting with your ranger is highly encouraged, but try not to distract the spotter.

Game Lodges Working as a Team

Game drive operators understand that the best way for everyone to enjoy their trip and see as many animals as possible is to work together. They will usually communicate over radio when a significant find is spotted, like a family of elephants, an elusive leopard with a kill or lions sunbathing near the road.

No one wants ten cars crowded around a single lion, though, so guides refer to an implied set of etiquette rules, giving the reporting vehicle the best position while other vehicles try to hang slightly back until the first vehicle departs. You may even find yourself in a sort of “queue” as each vehicle pauses to give everyone a satisfactory photo op.

Stay patient and be respectful of other groups since this system provides the best benefits for everyone!

A Rigid Schedule

Wildlife have certain patterns throughout the day, and one of the times they are most active is in the very early morning. That means for morning drives you will be waking up anywhere from 4:30 to 6:00 a.m.

Even if you are not a morning person, it is still important to drag yourself into the 4×4 to ensure that everyone gets to leave on time and can get the most out of their drive. You can choose to sleep in at your camp instead, but you will likely feel envious if everyone comes back with stories to tell!

Evening drives are also common, usually departing around 4:00 p.m. or so. These drives usually see less action at first because the animals are still shrugging off the heat of the afternoon sun, but nocturnal animals begin to stir and get active as the sun goes down. Some lodges offer special night drives, which can come at an added cost but often see active predators and sometimes even a kill.

Plenty of Time for Snacks and Natural Business

Just because you are getting up early does not mean you will have an empty stomach! Game lodges usually provide a light “morning tea” before your drive and a heavy breakfast when you return. You can then enjoy lunch and sleep off the afternoon heat. Evening drives also have “high tea” or “sundowner meals,” which are enjoyed right in the bush.

Drivers also understand that nature calls to us all, so they will take breaks for everyone to relieve themselves in the “bush loo.” Bring your own toilet paper and a sealable, disposable bag so that you can take everything back with you. You may not want it, but the bush definitely doesn’t, either!

Book Your Perfect Lodge for Thrilling Game Drives on Your African Safari Tour

Each lodge and park offers its own set of activities and style of game drives. You can take a look at what options you may have by exploring our available safari vacation packages and then booking your exciting trip today!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

Money Saving Tips for a Cheap African Safari Tour

photographic-safaris-south-africa-kruger-park-soothing-soul

Many people do not realize just how affordable an African safari vacation can be when you use the right money-saving techniques. With some smarts, know-how and plenty of research, you can significantly reduce the cost of your trip to make it a cheap African safari tour, especially on a per-day basis.

If you are interested in spending less during your trip or finding a way to plan an affordable African safari, you can use the following money-saving tips to reduce the overall cost of your vacation.

Come During the Low Season

In places like South Africa’s Kruger Park, slow times of the year mean not only better accessibility throughout the park but also cheaper prices. Local vendors and businesses change their prices to match the season. Periods of higher demand allow them to charge higher prices, but lulls in the calendar are often accompanied by discounts to lure in more customers.

Take advantage of these times! Winter is a low season in southern and eastern African parks and reserves, for instance. Everything from lodging and airfare to tours, services, goods, food and drink can all receive hefty discounts when you visit from April to October. You can also negotiate cheaper group rates for game drives, lodge stays and other services when these business owners are more motivated to earn a sale.

Keep an Eye Out for Flight Specials, But Watch Out for Remote Airports

Flight prices change nearly every hour, so the time you buy your flight to Africa can make a huge difference in terms of the final price. Set up price alerts on services like Kayak, and look up travel blogs to see if any specials or promotions are coming up soon.

With all that said, pay attention to the hidden costs of your flight, as well. Flying into a more remote town can appear to save you money, but then you must hire a taxi or bus to reach your intended destination, tacking on extra costs. Always try to calculate the final costs of your travel when buying tickets.

Another tip: Johannesburg and Cape Town often have cheap flights to other destinations throughout Africa, so consider buying separate tickets and comparing the price to other connecting flight options.

Shop Around With Lodging and Safari Tours

Many tourists come into African countries not realizing how much cheaper goods and services typically are. They then make the mistake of booking a hotel or game lodge stay at a far higher price than would be normally reasonable.

For that reason, try to find accommodation with a good reputation for quality and safety but also rates closer to what locals would expect to pay. Unless you demand the absolute best luxury, the difference in price will not affect the enjoyment you get out of your trip.

Buy From Locals, and Realize You Can Haggle

Haggling, bartering and negotiation are all common activities at local markets in many African countries. Your best bet on a great price on artisan goods is therefore to buy directly from the artists at markets and to negotiate.

Do not be too shrewd since people are trying to earn a living through their goods, but also recognize that many quoted prices may be trying to take advantage if you are clearly a foreigner.

Use a Safari Company for Cheap Safari Tour Packages

Experienced safari companies know the best places for tours, lodging and dining that provide amazing quality service at an affordable rate. When you book a vacation package through a company like Roho Ya Chui, you can get the best deals on everything, and you are also better-equipped to estimate the whole cost of your trip.

Take a look at the pre-planned safari vacation packages we offer to get an idea of just how affordable your trip can be, or contact us for a custom safari tour package based on your budget and preferred plans.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

The Best Family Friendly African Safari Lodges and Camps

2016-11-01_africa_0238

As we just mentioned in an earlier post, taking your children with you on a safari can be a truly rewarding and eye-opening experience for them that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. One of the biggest keys to giving them an enjoyable experience is finding services and lodging that can accommodate your family with privacy, flexibility and a variety of available activities.

Those searching for the perfect family friendly African safari lodge that can provide all of these qualities and more should consider the following options:

Mara Bush Houses, Kenya

Located within the Maasai Mara conservancies area, the Mara Bush Houses gives you freedom beyond what most other game lodges could ever hope to offer. Families get run of one of three private homes with three spacious bedrooms. Laundry service and several meals are included, and the facilities even have a swimming pool!

Your family will likely not be spending too much time at the house during the day, though, thanks to all the activities offered. You and your children can enjoy private game drives, night drivers, cultural visits and even lessons in how to act like a real guide and tracker at the Mara Naboisho Conservancy.

Simbavati River Lodge, South Africa

Located near Kruger, this lodge provides an incredible, tranquil experience with lots of included activities and plenty of areas for children to play. Parents can enjoy privacy in their own room along with a balcony overlooking the Olifants River. The lodge also has a large, open lounge area, a kids’ room and an outdoor play area, offering the perfect chance for children to get all their energies out.

Two daily game drives are included, and a swimming pool is available. Best of all, the Simbavati River Lodge is affordable relative to the many other options in the area.

Laikipia Wilderness Camp, Kenya

For the family that truly wants to get away from it all and has outdoor-loving kids, the Laikipia WIlderness Camp in northern Kenya offers the perfect combination of remoteness and lush, inviting surroundings. Bush walks in the area are legendary, and families can enjoy rafting, fishing and swimming in the rivers nearby.

A large number of conservancies and parks are a short distance away, too, creating the opportunity for many diverse game drives.

HillsNek Safari Camp, South Africa

Located on the Eastern Cape within the Amakhala Game Reserve, HillsNek has one of the best malaria-free safari experiences on the continent and has viewing opportunities for all of the Big Five. The area is also along the Garden Route, allowing nature lovers to appreciate the rich bounty of blooms. Families can stay in luxury “tents” that sleep up to four, and since there are only three such lodgings available, they can expect lots of privacy.

Gibb’s Farm, Tanzania

Situated next to coffee plantations and gorgeous gardens, Gibb’s Farm offers a taste of the relaxing country life in Africa. The lodge is also located exactly in between Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara, allowing families to embark on expeditions to some of the most naturally and historically rich areas on the planet.

Find Even More Family Friendly African Safari Lodges

These are just some of the most notable family friendly lodging choices available in Africa. You can discover more options by looking at family safari vacation packages that cover the areas you want to see and the activities you want to do, or you can contact us to get our personal recommendations today.

Jill Liphart for www.rohoyachui.com