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


What You Can’t Miss on a Great African Safari

how-to-get-close-to elephants

Going on an African safari is a fantastic choice if you’re thinking about taking a vacation. A safari is a one-of-a-kind experience, allowing you to see exotic animals and plantlife in one of the most interesting locations in the world. However, as with most vacations, getting the most out of your safari depends on planning your trip with the right activities.

Learn about what you can’t miss on a great African safari trip, and how you can book a trip that is tailored just for you and your family.

Safari Guide

The key to a rewarding, exciting safari is being able to see a wide range of sights that will allow you to immerse yourself in African culture. However, if you’re not familiar with Africa, then you might not know which locations you should visit and which should be skipped. It is for this reason that hiring an experienced, knowledgeable guide or ranger is something you can’t skip on if you want a great African safari.

The right safari guide will be both entertaining and informative, and will be able to take you on a tour of game reserves and national parks so that you can see the gorgeous scenery and exotic animals that are the hallmark of an African safari. Choosing the right guide means having a memorable safari.

The Big Five

Even if you’re not an experienced with going on safari, you may have heard of the Big Five, which are animals that a person typically sees when they’re on safari. These animals are the rhinoceros, the Cape buffalo, the African lion, the African leopard, and the African elephant. While there are several sights that you can see while on safari, the Big Five is definitely something you can’t miss.

Ensure that you make time to see these animals on your trip if you want the full safari experience. In fact, make seeing the Big Five the first item on your safari itinerary so that you don’t miss out.

Wilderness Dining

Africa is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in the entire world. While Africa is gorgeous every time of day, the best views come at sundown, when the light gets low and you can see breathtaking colors on the horizon. During your safari vacation, an activity that you need to make sure to participate in is wilderness dining, or enjoying a meal while immersed in the bush.

Many safari lodges offer sunset meals that are the perfect opportunity to relax after a long day of adventuring.  While enjoying a refreshing drink and eating a delicious meal, you can take in the sites and reflect on your vacation.

Be Adventurous

If you’re a traveler that can’t fully enjoy your vacation until you get your blood pumping, then you need to be certain that your African safari includes a little bit of adventure. For example, you may want to plan an excursion to Victoria Falls, where you can enjoy thrilling activities like bungee jumping and helicopter rides. A memorable, fun safari is one that lets you go on an adventure you wouldn’t experience in your normal life.

Include these can’t miss activities in your African safari so that you can have the time of your life.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

2018 Safari Travel Trends

hippo on african safari

If you’re interested in a one of a kind vacation that will provide lifelong memories, there’s almost no better choice than going on an African safari. Going on a safari means being able to experience exotic wildlife in one of the most beautiful locations in the entire world. However, if you’re like most travelers, you want to be certain that your trip is as fun-filled as possible, which means you need to learn about a few of the hottest safari trends.

Here are a few African safari trends for 2018 that you need to know about so that you and your family can plan the most exciting holiday possible.

Immersion Travel

While on vacation, many travelers want a touristy experience where they can enjoy staying in a lush hotel and see all of the most popular sites. However, if you want your trip to be as memorable as possible, then the best safari trend for you is immersion travel.

Immersion travel, as you might expect from its name, is a type of vacation where you immerse yourself in a culture, learning about longheld traditions and connecting with the local people. Unlike typical vacations, immersion travel allows you to have a rich and rewarding trip that you’re sure to remember for the rest of your life.

Whole Family Safaris

A vacation is the perfect opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life so you can finally spend time with your family. If you’ve been thinking about taking an African safari as a family vacation, you should consider going on a multigenerational safari, one of the hottest trends for this year.

On a multi-generational safari, grandparents, parents and children/grandchildren can enjoy a unique vacationing experience. You can even choose a safari that is tailored to the exact needs of your family, whether you want an experience focused on your children or a trip that has something for all ages.

Adventure Safaris

If you’re like many people interested in going on a safari, then you want to be certain that your trip is as thrilling as possible. If so, then the ideal safari trend for you is going on an adventure safari. With an adventure safari, your trip will be filled with pulse pounding excitement, providing the getaway that you need and deserve.

When planning an adventure safari, you can match your activities to your skill level, ensuring that you have a great time while staying safe. Whether you choose a walking safari tour or a forest hike, an adventure safari is a great choice for thrill seekers everywhere.

Personalized Safaris

If you’re the type of traveler that marches to the beat of their own drum, then the top safari trend for you is going on a personalized safari. With a personalized safari, you’ll be able to pick the activities that interest you the most, ensuring a trip that you’ll remember fondly for the rest of your life. If you want a vacation that is tailor made for you, then a personalized safari is a great choice.

Think about the trends that best match your tastes, and you’ll be able to go on a thrilling African safari that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

Meta: Here are a few African safari trends for 2017 that you need to know about so that you and your family can plan the most exciting holiday possible.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui


Best Things to Do on a Christmas Safari Holiday in Africa … start planning now!


Put simply: it is an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience blessed by smaller crowds, cheaper prices, adorable animal babies, lush greenery and unique occurrences. To give you a clearer idea of what you can get up to during your stay, here are some of the more momentous things to do in Africa on a Christmas safari holiday.


Visit Tanzania and Kenya During the Green Season Low Point

In December, the wildebeest return to the Serengeti and elephant herds return to the Masai Mara. Game moves constantly throughout this period as they prepare for the rainy season, its lush vegetation and their yearly breeding period. The once-brown grasslands are now covered in a carpet of green as small wildflowers pop open and dot the landscape.

This time of year is perfect not just for its scenic beauty, but also for its special rates. Many game lodges and camps lower their prices in order to attract safari-goers during the low season. Places like the Masai Mara Sopa Lodge and the Samburu Simba Lodge tend to offer steep discounts for families along with special rates on activities.


Witness the World’s Most Spectacular Bird Watching in the Okavango Delta

Botswana’s Okavango Delta typically floods around October to November, and as the waters subside, millions of birds flock to its shores.

Catch a glimpse of rare species, like the Malachite Kingfisher, Pel’s Fishing Owl, hammerkops, wattled cranes and crested ibis. Push silently through the reeds in a mokoro boat as you snap breathtaking photos of some of the most gorgeous and unique animals on earth. At the same time, you can see young elephants, gazelle and other animals as they grow quickly and develop from the nutritious milk produced by parents grazing on tall grasses.


Relax on a Beach near Cape Town or the Indian Ocean

Visiting the beach in December is a dream come true for snowbird Christmas vacationers on safari. Relax on a beach in Cape Town, watching the Cape fur seals as they frolic in the harbor, catching fish for their newborn pups. You can then enjoy a breezy afternoon session of sipping wines or dancing the night away at famous clubs like the Shimmy Beach Club.

For an even more peaceful experience, you can sample life along the Indian Ocean at places like Mauritius Island off the coast of Madagascar. Enjoy hot, balmy days and cool nights as you sip beverages and stare at the clear blue ocean.


Rent a Private House for the Family to Enjoy a Christmas Safari Holiday

If you’re going to have an adventure, why not bring a group? You can always rent out an entire private house, where the staff will pamper you and your friends with white tablecloth dinners set overlooking the majestic wilderness.

Stay in places like the Acacia House or Cottar’s Private Homestead in the Masai Mara, and embark on daily excursions. Enjoy lodging, game drives and safaris for the whole family at Kwandwe Melton Manor in Eastern Cape, South Africa. Other stellar private-stay options include Vamizi Private Villas along the Indian Ocean in Mozambique or Laragai House in Laikipia, Kenya.

Basically, anywhere you want to enjoy a safari and a home-like place to celebrate Christmas, Africa has it waiting for you!


Book a custom Christmas safari vacation package for you and your entire group when you contact us today, or take a look at our current safari tour packages to get an idea of the activities you can all enjoy together.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

Packing Tips for Your Safari in Uganda

male lion

Uganda is a beautiful country located in eastern Africa between the DR Congo and Kenya. Although Uganda is landlocked, it has Lake Victoria and Lake Albert upon its border, and it also has the sizeable Lake Kyoga within its land mass. Additionally, Uganda’s location within the tropics means that it receives as much as 11 inches of rainfall in a single month during April, the height of the wet season.

All of these factors mean that you should be prepared to stay dry during your safari in Uganda. You should also pack clothing that provides full leg and arm coverage to reduce the risk of mosquito bites.

Learn how these factors and more should translate into your packing list as we reveal some packing trips for your Ugandan safari tour.

Wear Clothing That Dries Fast

Rains can happen in the midst of the rainforest at any time, and puddles are often hidden in Uganda.

Prepare for these wet conditions during your safari adventure by packing synthetic clothing layers that can dry quickly. Sports wear, like articles made of Lycra, nylon, polyester and rayon, are often lightweight, breathable and provides ample coverage. On the other hand, polyester socks often do a poor job of wicking moisture and evaporating sweat, so stick to cotton or wool socks and synthetic outerwear.

Dressing in layers is ideal since mornings and evenings can get cool while days are typically hot. You will also want to be able to shed wet clothes and replace them with dry clothes in certain instances.

Sturdy Boots or Shoes With a Supportive Ankle

The most important quality of a shoe intended for safari-going is that it has a stiff ankle structure. Other pluses include waterproofing (can be spray-treated), a tall sole that can keep your foot out of the mud, and a breathable fabric like Gore Tex. Avoid winter boots since they tend to cause sweat and then absorb it.

Once again, wear tall, moisture-wicking socks, and also look for pairs that can provide extra support. Insoles may be recommended for certain shoes.

A Light Jacket That Blocks Out Wind and Rain

A lightweight jacket will be your lifesaver when showers or a stiff breeze threaten your comfort. Since the jacket is portable, you can also stuff it in a bag or tie it around your waist when not in use.

Long Sleeves, Long Pants, and Lots of Bug Spray

Much of Uganda lies in a malaria zone thanks to the ample swamps near lake shores and rivers. While you should feel relieved that the country was recently recognized for effectively treating and controlling malaria, you should still avoid insect bites at all costs. So wear long-sleeved, light-colored shirts and pants, and consider treating them with repellant chemicals. You should also bring along several cans of repellant spray for use on your skin.

Extra Camera Batteries and Memory Cards

The last thing you want to do is run out of camera batteries or memory when that perfect photo op hits. Preserve the moment by taking along lots of charged extra batteries and some blank memory cards. You can also bring an external hard drive and/or upload photos to the cloud every night to prevent disaster.

Get Packing Tips Based on Travel Plans for Your Safari in Uganda

What you end up packing should be determined by your planned itinerary, so take a look at our Uganda safari vacation packages to get an idea of what you will be doing, and then contact us if you need any advice for packing!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa


More Than Gorillas: Primates of East Africa


Primates intrigue us for many reasons, not the least of which is their similarity to our own mannerisms and physical makeup. Africa is the only place in the world to see most of the highly developed primate species as well as unique specimens like the bush baby and vervet monkey.

And, yes, gorillas number among these species, but since gorillas get much of the focus when talking about African primates, we decided to highlight some other interesting species worth taking a look at when on an east African safari.

Bush Baby

Bush babies are one of the smallest primates and one species group that people often forget are included in the order. They are noted for their enormous eyes, nocturnal nature and characteristic “crying” mating call that actually does sound quite like a baby.

Bush babies exhibit fewer human-like characteristics than other primates, but they can still engage in social bonding activities like play and grooming. And they can actually be quite sweet when they bond with humans. Just don’t get any ideas; they are illegal to own as pets and cannot thrive outside of the wild.

Vervet Monkey

Vervet monkeys are easily recognizable for their small shape, sandy-colored fur and tufts of wispy white hairs. They are not afraid of humans — quite the opposite, in fact! Having a group of vervet monkeys jump on your car roof as you enter a park is not an uncommon occurrence.

They usually expect to be given food in these situations, but feeding them is illegal since it disrupts their natural diet and encourages them to be even worse pests. Plus, they may be cute but can still bite!

Colobus Monkeys

Colobus monkeys are much more elusive primates despite their body size (up to 50 lbs) and the easily spotted wispy white hair growths on their arms and tail. These black-and-white coats were once prized as ceremonial attire until hunting of Colobus furs was made illegal.

Since they flee from the sight of humans and rarely leave their treetops for the ground, you are more likely to hear colobus monkeys than see them.


While they are more different than us compared to apes, baboons are actually the second-most successful primate species on the planet. They can adapt to a variety of environmental conditions and tend to live near cliffs, forests, savannas and even near highways! In fact, baboons have been so successful at living outside of protected areas that many farmers consider them crop-stealing pests.


Chimpanzees are the most similar living primates to us humans on the planet. They share 98 percent of our genetic makeup, and they even have the same number of teeth as us.

Observations of chimpanzees by researchers, including Dame Jane Goodall, have revealed their complex and quite human-like social structures. They use tools, exhibit a range of sympathetic emotions and can even engage in warfare between chimp groups.

Unfortunately, while chimpanzees have success breeding both within and without captivity, habitat loss, disease, poaching and illegal trading of chimpanzees as pets has led to significant loss in chimp populations.

See All of These Magical Monkeys and Amazing Apes on an East African Safari

Countries like Kenya and Uganda offer the best chance at seeing most or all of these wonderful, intriguing species. Make sure to book your east African safari tour with primates in mind since many tour guides and companies can help take you to the perfect spot to catch a look at your favorite monkey or ape species.

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