Game Reserves and National Parks: What’s the Difference?


When you’re planning to go on African safari, it’s likely that your main goal is to spend time in nature and see some of the most beautiful plant and animal life in the world. However, many people going on safari for the first time aren’t quite sure how to best accomplish this goal.

For instance, while researching your safari, you’ll probably see references to national parks, wilderness areas, game reserves, and conservancy, making it hard to know which you should visit for the most enjoyable safari experience possible. Here is some information to help you learn the difference between game reserves and national parks so you can easily plan an African safari.

Enjoy a National Park

If you want to enjoy nature in Africa in a more controlled environment, then your best bet is to visit a national park. As you might expect from their name, national parks are owned and operated by the government of the country where they are located, and are a great way for safari goers to safely experience wildlife in Africa.

Generally, national parks will offer a variety of activities such as guided tours and 4×4 trails, and the roads will be well-formed and easy to navigate. While there are a variety of small national parks throughout Africa, most travelers want to visit the larger, popular parks such as the Kruger National Park.

Game Reserves and Nature Reserves

Some people going on safari choose to skip the national parks and instead visit a game or nature reserve. These areas are a great place to view animals and plants in their natural environment, giving you a more authentic safari experience. However, there are some differences between the two types of reserves.

A nature reserve is designed specifically for the benefit of the animals and plants that it homes. They are intended for conservation purposes and will attempt to limit the impact that human activities have on the wildlife in the reserve. The Kogelberg Nature Reserve, which is located outside of Cape Town, is one of the most well-known nature reserves in Africa.

Game reserves, on the other hand, are focused on the preservation of animal life. In a game reserve, which is also called a game park, animals native to Africa such as giraffes and rhinoceros will be protected. Also, game parks generally allow for activities like hiking through the reserve and viewing the animals. If a game reserve specifically forbids hunting, it usually also qualifies as a nature reserve.

What About Wilderness Areas?

A wilderness area is an area that has not been tampered with by humans. In these areas, there are no roads or infrastructure of any kind, and the plants and animals are allowed to evolve without human involvement. While it is possible to visit a wilderness area while on safari, many travelers find these areas too extreme. However, if you want to experience African wildlife in its natural state, a wilderness area is the place to do so.

Now that you know the difference between national parks, game preserves, and wilderness areas, you can plan an African safari that you’ll be sure to enjoy.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui


Best Beaches to Visit in Cape Town

Cape-Grace copy

When you go on an African safari, there are a variety of ways that you could have fun, including spending some time in the gorgeous Cape Town. Visiting Cape Town is a great choice, as the city offers several opportunities for fun and excitement. However, if you’re main goal is enjoying the beautiful weather in Cape Town, then you need to learn about the gorgeous beaches featured in this city.

Here are a few of the best beaches you should visit in Cape Town, and tips for having the best time possible on your next African safari.


While virtually every beach in Cape Town is worth your time, the most popular choice is visiting one of the four beaches in the Clifton area. The sand at these beaches are pristine and the water is one of the most striking shades of blue that you’ve ever seen. In addition, these beaches experience very little wind, making for one of the best days on the beach in your entire life.

These beaches are packed during the busy holiday seasons, so visiting a Clifton beach during the less popular times of the year is a good idea.

Llandudno Beach

If you want to experience Cape Town the way that the locals do, then it’s a good idea to visit a beach that’s a favorite with residents, which is a great reason to plan an outing at Llandudno Beach. Attractive granite boulders surround this beach, making it feel like a secluded getaway.

Also, because this beach has Blue Flag status, you’ll be able to enjoy a variety of exciting beach activities. Some of the most popular choice for recreation at Llandudno beach include picnics on the beach, sandcastle building, and surfing. While you can certainly go for a swim at the beach, the water is usually pretty cool unless it’s an especially warm day.

Boulders Beach

Another beach in Cape Town that’s known for rocky formations is Boulders Beach. The inlets between the granite boulders on this beach provide easy access to the Indian Ocean that is perfect for snorkeling and swimming. Boulders Beach is also one of the only places in the entire world where you can see the African Penguin up close and personal.

If you don’t feel like sitting in the sand, there are several boardwalks around this beach where you can go for a leisurely stroll and enjoy the scenery. Visiting Boulders Beach is a great choice for families.

Grotto Beach

If you’re interested in visiting a Cape Town area beach that is not too crowded and provides some of the most beautiful views in this part of Africa, then you should take a drive to Grotto Beach. Because this beach isn’t usually crowded, you should be able to soak up the sun or go for a swim without having to worry about other people. This beach also stretches over a mile, providing a fantastic view of both the ocean and the nearby mountains. During September and November, whales can often be seen swimming off the coast.

When you’re booking your next African safari, make sure your trip includes a stop at one of these Cape Town beaches.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

A First-Timer’s Safari Medical Guide


Going on a safari for the first time can be one of the most exhilarating experiences of your life. However, before you leave on your trip, there are several preparations that you need to make, many of which involve your health. The environment in Africa is very different from what many people are used to, containing several medical hazards that you need to be ready to encounter.

Learning about a few of the medical issues related to going on a safari will help you prepare for your trip so that you can have a safe, enjoyable vacation. Here is a first-timer’s safari medical guide that you can use to get ready for your trip, and learn how you can enjoy the most exciting safari possible.

Buying Insurance

Buying medical insurance is one of the most important things you can do if you want to protect your long-term health. Securing an insurance policy is always a good idea, but it is particularly important when you’re planning to go on an African safari.

While on a safari, there will be times when you will be far away from a medical facility. This means that you may need to travel a great distance to receive medical attention if an accident occurs during your trip. Having a reliable insurance policy means you will be able to receive treatment as soon as you arrive at the hospital. Make sure your insurance plan is up to date and provides good coverage before your safari to ensure peace of mind on your trip.

Get Your Vaccinations

Experienced travelers know that getting vaccinated is a must before going on an African safari. There are a number of serious diseases that you can potentially contract while on a safari, but getting your vaccinations will make sure that you remain healthy for a safe and enjoyable trip.

However, you need to make sure you don’t wait too long to schedule and receive your vaccines. Many vaccines needed to travel to Africa, such as the yellow fever vaccine, take ten days to work. If you wait too long, you will not be able to receive your vaccine certificate and will likely be denied entrance into your destination country.

Clean Water

Making sure that you’re drinking clean water is one of the best ways to protect your health while on safari in Africa. Consuming contaminated water is unfortunately easy to do while on a safari, potentially resulting in conditions like traveler’s diarrhea or more serious diseases.

Before drinking the water at your lodge, make sure that it is being properly sterilized. When away from your lodge, you should only drink commercial bottled water or water that you know has been sterilized. Also, if you eat local fruit or vegetables, either peel the fruit and throw away the peels or thoroughly wash the produce with sterile water before eating.

Get a Physical

Traveling long distances can take an extreme mental and physical toll, even for the most fit vacationers. Going on a trip has the potential to exacerbate underlying conditions that you may not even know you have. It is for this reason that you need to be sure that you schedule a physical with your doctor before you go on safari. Undergoing a physical will ensure that you’re healthy enough for your trip and will help you to have a great time.

Follow this medical guide and you’ll be able to stay happy and healthy during your African safari.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

Best Big Five Safari Parks in Africa for Seeing All Five Majestic Animals


For over a century, big game hunters romanticized the adventure of trekking through the African savanna and locating the “Big Five” game. Now, people are more apt to shoot the Big Five with their DSLR camera than a rifle, but the allure of these gorgeous, large, powerful and often elusive creatures remains.

Those looking to see all Big Five animals during their African safari trip will need a hefty dose of luck. But they can increase their odds by visiting the best Big Five safari parks in Africa, where they are most likely to see all Five in one trip.

Start planning your African safari vacation to see the Big Five by taking a look at our recommended Big Five parks below.


Kruger National Park, Madikwe Reserve — South Africa

Kruger is one of the largest game reserves in the world and home to millions of visitors every year. The size and popularity of the park make it one of the best destinations for safari game viewing, especially for first­timers. Roads are well­paved, the park features plenty of amenities and game trackers are well­versed in locating the best viewing experiences as the animals go about their routines.

Finding all Big Five safari animals is also most­easily accomplished with a visit to Kruger. The park is home to over 2,000 lions, equalling a density of 5 to 8 lions per every 100km2. There are also over 13,000 elephants, 37,000 Cape buffalo, around 2,000 white rhino and an estimated 1,000 leopards. Black rhinos, which are critically endangered, are a rare sight at just an estimated 300 across the whole park, but they are still numerous in Kruger relative to other areas.

For a more­intimate experience, you can visit the Madikwe Game Reserve, which is the fifth­largest reserve in the world and only a few hours’ drive northwest of Pretoria. Madikwe has ample populations of elephant, lion and buffalo — although, leopards and rhinos happen to be rarer. Madikwe is also famous for its population of rare endangered wild dogs.


Masai Mara — Kenya

The Masai Mara National Reserve sits along the path of the great wildebeest migration from the Serengeti. In late summer, millions of wildebeest and other ruminants make the long trek to find grass and water as the dry season sets in.

These wildebeest naturally attract predators, including lions, spotted hyena and enormous crocodiles. As a result, the Masai Mara is teeming with dramatic displays of wildlife throughout the year, including 35,000 elephants and 825 lions. Rhinos and leopards are more­scarce, but Cape buffalo populations remain healthy.

Witnessing the great migration from the Masai Mara is an unforgettable experience, especially in a hot air balloon ride overlooking the massive herds.


Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater — Tanzania

For those looking to adventure late or early in the year, November through March provides an amazing opportunity to view wildlife along the Serengeti in Tanzania. During this time, wildebeest and other ruminants return to sire their young and nurse them to be strong and survive the coming years.

Vast herds of 2 million wildebeest, 300,000 zebra, 900,000 gazelle and 70,000 buffalo call the plains home. Since these prey are numerous, the Serengeti also plays home to 4,000 lions and 1,000 leopards. Elephant and rhino populations are smaller, but elephants are still a common sight.

For a more­concentrated experience, the beautiful backdrop of the Ngorongoro Crater is packed with wildlife populations, including all Big Five. You can also see jackals, foxes, flamingos, cheetah, gazelle, hyena and other gorgeous animals here while on safari.


Book Your Incredible Experience at the Best Big Five Safari Parks in Africa

If you are interested in paying a visit to one of these breathtaking locations, you are in for quite a treat. Not only will you see most (or all) of the Big Five, you will enjoy the unique settings, sights and sounds of Mother Africa.

Start planning your trip now by taking a look at our sample Big Five safari tour packages, or book a custom safari trip made especially for you when you contact us today!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

Saving the Magnificent African Elephant


Once upon a time, elephants ruled the continent of Africa. Their historical habitat range literally stretched all the way from the Cape of Good Hope to Tangier. An estimated 27 million individuals lived in family groups throughout most of Africa, foraging in both the bush and forest.

Now, fewer than 300,000 remain. Like a cloth burnt down to mere scraps, African elephants’ habitat range now clings to sparse protected areas dotting the continent. The most aggressive estimates project that the African elephant could be extinct by as early as 2020 unless something is done to save them.

You can do your part by seeing these gorgeous, almost-magical animals in person and bringing back inspiring tales and photos to others. When your African elephant safari is booked through companies that support conservancies, your trip provides the funds needed to combat poaching. Book a safari now to promote the cause for keeping these wonderful beasts alive so that yet another generation can say “I have seen an elephant.”

The Resurgence of Poaching

In 1989, the conservation community breathed a collective sigh of relief. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) passed a global ban on the sale and trade of ivory. Before the ban was passed, over 50 percent of the African elephant population had been slaughtered.

Afterwards, the elephant populations slowly began to bounce back. Poaching plummeted as trade restrictions and anti-poaching efforts made their mark.

But the resurgence could not last forever. Black market ivory supplies dwindled across the globe, effectively raising the price of ivory dramatically as demand from plutocrats — who cared little for laws and even less for elephants’ well-being — held strong. Poachers could now invest in their operations and still turn a profit, especially when backed by international criminal organizations that also controlled illegal trade. Conservationists and rangers suddenly began to face a foe better equipped than they were, and elephants were dying once more.

Between 2007 and 2014, 30 percent of the savannah elephant population was brought down by poachers. An estimated 100,000 elephants were killed from 2010 to 2012. Things have gotten so bad that rangers find themselves not only outwitted but outgunned. Well-funded poaching operations have begun to use the same technologies empowering special-ops military groups: drones, infrared sensors, tracking devices and even booby traps.

Elephant populations are falling once more — around 8 percent every year. Governments and people must step up their efforts to push back against this resurgence and fight with every breath to ensure that elephants can continue to survive on our planet.

Help Support Conservation With an African Elephant Safari

With things more desperate than ever, every penny counts when it comes to saving Africa’s elephants. People can support conservation and anti-poaching groups by choosing African safari tour operators that donate money and labor. Your journey to meet these animals in person in their own habitat could very well save a few of their lives in the process.

So, please, come to Africa and deliberately seek out tour groups that can make a genuine difference. You can take a look at your options for African safari tour companies that help save the elephants and book your journey today.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Meerkat Fun on a Kalahari Safari


Meerkats: they may not have quite as much personality as Nathan Lane imbued Timon with in The Lion King, but they certainly come close. Their expressive faces and social tendencies endear them to humans for being similar to us but also ridiculously cute.

But make no mistake: meerkats may be cute, but they are ruthlessly efficient when it comes to working as a team while foraging, burrowing or even waging war over territory with other meerkat clans. Catching a glimpse of them in the wild can be fascinating, so keep these fun meerkat facts in mind during your Kalahari safari trip.

Meerkats Are Only Found in the Kalahari and Namib Deserts

Meerkats are a unique species. While they belong in the Herpestidae family with mongooses, they are the only species in the genus Suricata.

They exhibit highly unique traits compared to other mongooses, as well, including an evolved social structure and a tendency to live in burrows. They also mostly live in one place on the planet: the Kalahari desert. They can also be found in parts of the Namib desert along the coast of Namibia.

Therefore, if you want to see meerkats, the best places to visit would be Botswana, Namibia or South Africa.

Meerkats Live in Advanced Societies

Meerkats live in family “clans” dominated by a matriarch and her male mate. Labor is divided among the adult meerkats when it comes to digging burrows, foraging for food, standing watch for predators, and even nursing the matriarch’s pups.

One of the most notable of these duties is how several meerkats will act as sentries during the day while other members forage, play, or relax. These sentries will rotate, like people keeping watch. When a sentry spots a threat like a tawny eagle wheeling in the sky, they will bark out a specific warning call and send everyone scurrying back into the burrow. The drongo bird will even take advantage of this behavior by sounding a false alert when it can get a free meal.

Meerkats Have Highly Adapted Bodies

Adaptive traits of the meerkat include:

  • Large eyes set at slight angles for great sweeping visibility as well as an acute sense of depth
  • Dark circles around their eyes to reduce glare
  • Large ears for excellent hearing and also to radiate heat
  • Transparent third eyelids and an ability to shut their ears tight, both of which protect them during digging
  • Long, slender bodies adapted for tunneling but also advantageous for keeping watch; strong hind legs and a stiff tail also help them stand upright
  • Shovel-like claws for digging and snatching insects
  • An immunity to scorpion poison at adulthood
  • Thin-skinned bellies perfect for sunbathing when the meerkat wants to warm up

Meerkats Are Family-Oriented

Meerkat matriarchs only give birth to about four pups in a breeding season, so the entire clan looks after these pups to ensure their future survival. Some females will even help the matriarch nurse her pups by acting as wet nurses.

When meerkats sense danger, they will ensure that the pups are the first to flee. If they must confront threats, meerkat clans will place themselves in between pups and the danger to act as a shield.

One of the most surprising traits of meerkats, though, is how they can recognize individual’s voices like we would recognize our siblings’.

Come See Meerkats on Your Kalahari Safari

You can book a trip for a Kalahari safari tour in Botswana or South Africa to get a wild and personal look at meerkats in their home habitat.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Experience the Sheer Diversity of South African Plant Life


South Africa has a boggling amount of diversity in its plant life, including over 9,000 different species on its Cape Floristic Region. While many may think solely of the savanna when they think of South Africa, the country has seven other completely different ecological life zones, or biomes. Each biome has a unique mixture of native flora, including thousands of endemic species and many native flowering plants that should be familiar to gardening enthusiasts.

Explore each of these biomes with us as we highlight their rich diversity and unique traits, but remember that you can only truly experience them with your own eyes on an African safari vacation.

Plant Biomes Found in South Africa

  • Savanna
  • Desert
  • Grassland
  • Thicket
  • Forest
  • Succulent karoo
  • Nama karoo
  • Fynbos

Cape Floristic Kingdom

Plant “kingdoms” are biogeological groupings that attempt to group together as many endemic species as possible by similarities in traits, heredity, and more. Most of these kingdoms stretch across the globe; the Holarctic, or Boreal, Kingdom for instance spans most of North America and all of Europe as well as parts of North Africa.

South Africa’s Cape Peninsula boast a floral kingdom that occupies a relatively tiny area — the smallest of all the six plant kingdoms found on the globe. This cluster exists because 69 percent of the species here are endemic, which is to say they can be found nowhere else.

20 percent of all the African continent’s plant species can be found here. The Cape Peninsula also has more overall plant species within it than all of the isle of Great Britain.


Fynbos or “fine bush” is an arid, Mediterranean-like biome characterized by scrub grasses and brightly colored flowering plants. Many familiar garden species hail from here, including irises, geraniums (pelargoniums), white arum lilies, Barberton daisies and more.

Make of the Cape Floral Kingdom is composed of fynbos.


While the Cape Floral Kingdom is impressive, the Namaqualand region astounds the mind with raw beauty and emotion. Throughout most of the year, this region is arid, rocky and very desert-like. But every spring, it erupts in fields of shockingly intense color.

Images of this period can stir the soul, but they do not do the actual sight of the orange, yellow, and violet fields justice. If you want to time your trip to South Africa just right, make sure it happens when you can catch a glimpse of the Namaqualand in full bloom.

Forests, Savanna, Grassland and More

In addition to these natural gardens, South Africa has the familiar acacia trees, iconic baobab trees, ancient cycads and more. Many of these plants provide more than just beauty; medical researchers are now prizing them for their potent medicinal effects.

Sadly, many of these gorgeous and beneficial plants are threatened, including 1,435 species in the Cape Floristic Kingdom. Support their biodiversity by raising awareness and embarking on South African safari tours that contribute money to the preservation of South Africa’s wild, unique and wonderful landscapes.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa