Cats You’ll Find at Kruger National Park

take dad on safari for fathers day

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.

Big Five of the Sea

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If you’ve ever done any research about going on an African safari, then you’ve likely learned about the Big Five, which are five of the most famous animals you could see on your vacation. However, what few people know is that the sea possesses its own Big Five, and if you prefer spending time on the water to being on solid ground, you need to be sure your safari includes these interesting marine creatures.

Here’s some information about the Big Five of the sea and advice for seeing these interesting creatures the next time you take an African safari.

Spend Time with the Cape Fur Seal

The most playful member of the marine Big Five is the Cape Fur Seal. These fun-loving mammals can be found up and down the west coast of South Africa, but are especially numerous in the Cape Town area.

Unlike some other animals on this list, you can actually interact with the Cape Fur seal up close and in personal, both on land and while snorkeling.

See the African Penguin

If you prefer your animals to be cute and cuddly, then you’re going to love the African Penguin, the smallest member of the Big Five of the sea. These small birds can be found in a variety of South Africa locations, including gorgeous Boulders Beach

When you visit Boulders Beach, you’ll be able to swim with these adorable creatures, which is an experience you’ll always remember fondly.

Do Some Whale Watching

Whales are some of the most majestic animals in the world, and if you’ve always wanted to go on a whale watching adventure, your African safari will provide the perfect opportunity.

Between the months of June and December, you can see Southern Right Whales off the coast of South Africa. Because these whales are endangered, there are several nurseries in the area where you can get a great view while the whales swim and play. Be sure to bring your camera, because you’ll definitely want to commemorate seeing this member of the Big Five of the sea.

Swim with the Dolphins

If you’re like many people with a fondness for the ocean, you probably dream of seeing dolphins while you’re out on the water. Fortunately, the waters off the coast of South Africa are home to multiple dolphin species, including the well-known bottlenose dolphin

During the period between May and July, the sardine population in near Africa explodes, drawing dolphins to the area. If you want to see dolphins on your trip, make sure your safari takes place during this time of year.

Beware of Great White Sharks

Just like the normal Big Five, the Big Five of the sea features a deadly predator: The great white shark. One of the deadliest creatures on the planet, seeing a great white shark swimming in the African ocean is a unique thrill that shouldn’t be missed. While you’ll definitely want to keep your distance, you’ll always remember seeing a great white shark in the wild.

If you love seeing marine animals in their natural habitat, then you should be sure to watch out for the Big Five of the sea on your next African safari.

Advice for Tipping on Your African Safari

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If you’re planning on going on an African safari for the very first time, it’s likely that you have a lot of questions that you want answered. In addition to wanting to know about what to pack and how to have the best time on your trip, you may also wonder what’s the best way to handle tipping.

While you’ll spend most of your safari exploring nature, there will be occasions where you might need to tip someone, which can be intimidating if you don’t know the process. Here’s a little advice for tipping on an African safari that will make sure you’re able to show gratitude to those who’ve made your trip special.

Make Sure to Have Physical Money

One of the biggest obstacles that people encounter when it comes time to leave a tip on safari is not having any physical currency. Because everything on your safari is booked well in advance, including meals, it’s very easy to pack only your debit or credit card and forget to bring any cash along.

If you want to be certain that you can tip on your safari, you should be sure to make sure you have at least a little bit of cash. Make sure you have enough US currency with you that you can exchange some for the local equivalent in every country that you visit. When you exchange your currency, make sure to visit a reputable location instead of using exchanging currency on the street.

How You Should Tip

Although it won’t be common, there are a few circumstances where you’ll want to tip while on safari, which is why you need to make sure that your tipping the right way.

In some places that you visit on your trip, there will be a communal tip jar where you can leave your tip. However, if you want to tip someone directly, place it in an envelope and then give it to them personally. This will ensure that the person you wish to tip will be the one that receives the money.

If you choose an overlanding tour, there will usually be a group fund to which you can contribute. This fund will be used to tip all the guides that you encounter on your overland tour. Remember, however, that if you eat at a restaurant, you will need to leave an individual tip.

Gifts Instead of Tips

Some travelers want to express gratitude to their guide by giving them a gift instead of a tip. If you want to give a gift instead of tipping on an African safari, there are a few suggestions you could choose. While you could choose an item that will be personalized to your tour guide, which will be a great way to show them that you’ve enjoyed your trip and that you appreciate their service.

Unlike some other places you could visit, tipping is as important in Africa as it is in the United States. Fortunately, by following this advice, tipping on an African safari should be easy and stress-free.  Make sure to include tipping in your budget when you plan your African safari so that you can express your gratitude on your trip.

Types of Accommodations in African Safaris

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When you embark on an African Safari, you need a place to stay. Since the safari industry has grown over the past several decades, you have more options than you might think for your lodgings. Take a look at this list of options for your accommodations when you book an exciting African safari.

Full Size Lodges

For a luxurious safari experience, book yourself a full size African safari lodge. These safari lodges all the comforts of home and then some while situating you in the gorgeous savannah of Africa. There are many different sizes you can choose from including facilities that mimic western hotels to full size resorts. These lodges are permanent locations, so you can expect a brilliant design that mixes flawlessly with the natural landscape.

If you want delicious cuisine in between your safari outings, lodges are the choice for you. The service is typically excellent, allowing you to be pampered when you’re not out exploring. Don’t worry about the hotel being too separated from the landscape, as you can still enjoy gorgeous views of the African countryside from virtually every room in the lodge.

Tented Lodges

While windows and balconies go a long way to offer scenic views of the African landscape, tented lodges take it a step further. These are still permanent structures, but the walls are canvas tent sides which allow the smells and sounds of nature to pour through. You get to enjoy the intimate and secluded atmosphere of a tent, but you still have access to the services of a typical lodge.

In fact, tented lodges tend to be the more expensive option when it comes to accommodations. You get the best of both worlds. With the canvas sides, you get to feel like you’re roughing it in the wilderness while still enjoying all the luxuries of a premium hotel. Some tented lodges even include air conditioning and fast internet access.

Mobile Tents

If you’re trying to really enjoy the African landscape, mobile tents and seasonal camps are the way to go. These aren’t permanent structures, so you have a limited time to book one. These tents are put up for three to six months in strategic locations after major wildlife movements to expose you to as much wildlife as possible. When you stay at a mobile tent or seasonal camp, it’s almost a certainty that you’ll see more wildlife than guests at a lodge.

You won’t have to rough it in the desert either as you can still enjoy some useful amenities. There’s running water and flushing toilets, so you don’t have to worry about your hygiene going bad. There’s also a separate dining tent, and often a lounge area as well. These seasonal camps are set up away from popular tourist areas, so you don’t have to worry about crowds.

Fly Camping

For the truly adventurous seeking an outdoors adventure, you can set up camp in the savanna at the place of your choosing. If you like the idea of hippos and leopards being within feet of you with only a thin mosquito net and canvas tent in between, there’s no better choice. If the thought of nearby dangerous animals doesn’t keep you up at night, the noises might. The wildlife gets quite loud after sunset and can be too much for some to sleep through.

When you’ve determined which accommodation type is right for you, it’s time to book your African safari. Prepare yourself to embark on an adventure like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.

 

Safari Vehicles: Open vs Closed

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What kind of vehicle do you picture when you think of an African safari? Some of you might picture an open-air 4X4 while others might think of a minibus type vehicle. It turns out both are options when it comes to African safaris. However, determining which one is right for you can be a bit tricky.

While open safari vehicles and closed safari vehicles both have unique advantages, they offer considerably different experiences. Learn more about the pros and cons of each and discover which safari vehicle you want to take on your African safari adventure.

Open Safari Vehicles

If your safari takes you to countries like Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe and other places in southern Africa, you’ll likely be venturing in an open safari vehicle. These 4X4s lack a roof altogether and perform incredibly well in the African brush and savanna. The openness of the vehicles leaves nothing in between you and the African countryside. You can more easily hear and see the gorgeous wildlife as you travel through the brush. The vehicle will be moving, and animals certainly aren’t going to stop for you. Thus, simply being able to turn your head without anything blocking your sight makes it much easier to keep track of the wildlife.

The downside of an open safari vehicle is that you’re left exposed. You don’t have to worry about the animals as your vehicle can easily outrun anything you might encounter though the chances that animals will come after you in the first place is incredibly low. What you really have to worry about is the rain. If your African safari is during the wet season, an open safari vehicle leaves you completely exposed. Some vehicles are equipped with sunshades that can help keep the rain at bay. The sun will also be bearing down on you the entire time, so make sure you pack sunscreen and insect repellant.

Closed Safari Vehicles

When your African safari takes you to eastern Africa into countries like Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, you’ll be more likely to encounter closed safari vehicles like minibuses. This is in large part due to the extensive system of roadways in eastern Africa not being as prevalent in southern Africa. It’s common in eastern Africa for the same vehicle to pick you up from the airport and take you on the safari tour.

While these vehicles are better equipped for traveling on the road, they offer limited visibility when you’re trying to see wildlife. You need the walls and roof to protect from the wind when going at highway speeds, but those same walls and roof leave small openings for you to take pictures or even catch a glimpse of the animals. Most vehicles have a roof that can be propped up in the middle to allow a viewing space of sorts for rear passengers. To make use of this, however, you have to stand up and poke your head through which can be uncomfortable and still offers limited viewing capabilities.

No matter which vehicle you travel in during your African safari, you’re in for an experience like no other. Book your African safari today for an exciting adventure you’ll never forget.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

Places to Visit on Your Kenya Safari

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When you’re planning your African safari, one of the best places to take your trip is the nation of Kenya. Known as the gateway to Eastern Africa, Kenya is a brilliant country with plenty of diversity in its landscapes and wildlife. A safari adventure here will be a trip that you’ll never forget.

If you want to see the best Kenya has to offer, you need to make sure your safari takes you to the right locations. Whether you love wildlife, thrilling adventure or beautiful natural landscapes, Kenya has plenty to offer. Take a look at the best places to visit in Kenya and discover the adventure this great country can offer.

Mount Kilimanjaro

If you’re looking for snow in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the few places you’ll find it. Mount Kilimanjaro is a massive mountain that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area. If hiking isn’t your thing, you can still enjoy night drives and safaris around the base where you can find massive bull elephants in their natural habitat. If you’re looking for a place to rest in between your safari outings, Mount Kilimanjaro is home to quite a few camps and lodges that offer scenic views of the mountain.

Mount Kenya

The other mountain on our list is Mount Kenya in Laikipia. A national park here was created just a few years ago where you can find a remarkably well-preserved countryside that a huge number of species call home including zebras, monkeys and even ostriches. There are also numerous private ranches around that allow free reign, so you can enjoy a safari without the limitations imposed by national parks.

Samburu

Most of the land around Samburu is a dried field of lava, but the Ewaso Nyiro River has created a beautiful oasis in the center. If the idea of a beautiful oasis is drawing you in, you’re not the only one. Numerous species of wildlife flock to this oasis all the time, and others have decided to settle there permanently. If you’re looking to catch a glimpse of the fast and elusive leopard, Samburu is the best place to go. The draw of the oasis plus the skills of a trained Maasai tracker will greatly increase your chances of spotting the smallest of the big cats.

Masai Mara

One of the most popular spots in a Kenya safari tour is Masai Mara. Here, you’ll find beautiful grassland with dense trees in several spots alongside the Mara River. Numerous species of wildlife roam this area including hippos, giraffes, zebras and more. The most interesting feature of this area is the available method of transportation. You can enjoy your Kenya safari tour via hot air balloon rather than in a ground vehicle. This allows safe low-level views of the wildlife while traveling at a speed that makes it easy to snap pictures and keep track of everything.

Nairobi

If you want to move on from Kenya during your African safari, Nairobi is where you need to go. This is the gateway to East Africa allowing you to explore other countries like Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. You can find rainforests here with elephants and gorillas.

If you’re ready for adventure, book your Kenya safari tour today. You’ll be in for a thrilling trip that you’ll never forget.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

Common Myths About African Safaris

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You may be hesitant to embark on an African safari due to several negative rumors you may have heard online or from friends. Is Africa really that dangerous? Do you need to make a camp in the wilderness to truly experience Africa? Are safaris that expensive? You’ve probably heard the wrong answers to these questions countless times.

Fortunately, African safaris aren’t as bad as some of the rumors make them out to be. In fact, a lot of what you experience is largely up to you, and there are multiple ways to enjoy the trip. Learn more about common myths about African safaris and discover whether or not a safari trip is right for you.

Africa is too Dangerous

Whether you’re worried about wild animals or political unrest, there are always horror stories about Africa populating most news feeds. The truth is, however, that you’re safer in Africa than in America if you travel during the cooler months. Most safaris are on open flatland while things like snakes and spiders tend to flock towards jungles. The lions and leopards are dangerous, of course, but most accidents happen when people don’t follow the park rules.

Some people may be worried about political strife. When less informed people think of Africa, they picture tyrannical dictators and brutal mercenaries. The reality is that Africa is a big place and every country has a different political climate. Nations in southern Africa tend to be quite peaceful and safe and host millions of tourists every year from all over the world.

Comfort Ruins the Experience

A lot of people are obsessed with authenticity and claim that high-class safari escapes don’t really present the African savanna as it is. While you have the option to make camp by yourself in the middle of the African wilderness, the accommodations are generally the better option. You still get to see the wildlife and don’t have to worry about going thirsty or not having a shower.

Keep in mind that these accommodations aren’t raised high above the savanna or surrounded by tall walls. Generally, the surrounding wall is mostly decorative and is short enough for you to walk over. These unfenced accommodations come equipped with modern kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms for you to enjoy.

Safaris are so Expensive

The truth is that only some safaris are expensive. Others are surprisingly affordable. It’s entirely possible that your plane ticket will cost more than the rest of the trip. Large resorts will be costly, but if you book a small fenceless encampment, prices might run cheaper than a relatively nice hotel in the states.

For even more savings, there are communal accommodations available that still offer the same views you’d find in a luxury resort without the flash and hefty price tag. Suffice to say, you can enjoy an African safari on just about any budget and see just as many incredible animals as the people staying in high-class resorts.

Now that you know the facts, you can book your African safari. Embark on this exciting adventure today!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui