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

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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

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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

Game Drive Tips for Your African Safari Trip

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Those looking for ways to make the most of their African safari trip should consider going on a few game drives, one of the best activities for maximizing your time.

If you want to get the best photos during your game drives and increase your chances of seeing Africa’s most famous animals, you can follow these tips that can ensure you have a good time while respecting wildlife and respecting others.

Follow the Most Important Rules: Stay Inside the Vehicle, Keep Quiet and Don’t Feed the Animals

Game drives disrupt the typical experience of wildlife in the bush, but guides and safari tour companies do their best to compromise with nature. By sticking mostly to set paths, taking steps to not stress the animals and keeping interactions to snapping photos, the natural experience can be preserved as much as possible. Most animals even get used to the site and sound of 4x4s.

Uphold your end of the bargain by staying quiet during drives. Do not call out to animals to get their attention, and try to talk softly the entire drive. Definitely do not feed animals, since this can get them sick and encourage them to associate humans with food — not a good connection!

Also, most importantly, keep within the confines of the vehicle at all times. Leaning out or, heaven forbid, exiting the vehicle can stress animals and place you in a very dangerous situation.

Dress in Layers, Wear Sunscreen and Bring Repellant

Game drives can be chilly in the morning and hot in the afternoon sun. Dress in layers so that you can prepare for these temperature changes. Also, wear a brimmed hat and cover yourself in sunscreen to prevent getting burned.

Biting insects are common in many parks, especially during open air drives, so bring along plenty of repellant to reapply during your drive.

Take Along a Guidebook

During your drive, you will probably see a ton of animals you do not recognize but that look interesting. Take along an informative guidebook with photo identification of bush animals so you can know as much as possible about the world around you.

For younger safari-goers, you can print off a checklist of animals so that they can stay engaged and focus on seeing the most interesting species.

Bring Binoculars

Binoculars help you spot far away animals and set up your photos more quickly. Being forced to share binoculars can mean watching a speck by a drinking pool while everyone else sees a lion, so bring a pair for each person to ensure no one misses out.

Wait for the Vehicle to Stop Before Taking Close-Up Photos

The powerful engines in 4x4s tend to vibrate, which leads to blurry pictures if you have your lens zoomed in. Feel free to snap wide angle shots as you drive, but for the best photos wait until the engine is cut off.

Look for More Than Just the Big Five

Everyone wants to see lions, elephants and other famous “big five” animals on their trip, but you should recognize that there are plenty of beautiful species on the African continent, both big and small. Use a guidebook to help you spot birds, tell the difference between antelope-like species and appreciate sights others might miss.

Talk With Your Ranger

Your ranger has gone on hundreds of drives and has likely spent much of their life living in the bush. Feel free to ask them questions or to get them to describe their experiences, especially if you want to know more about a specific animal.

Let Nature and Your Spotter Be Your Eyes

With the tallest necks in the bush, giraffes tend to be amazing lookouts, helping you identify big cats crouched in the grass where you cannot see. Other animals like antelope tend to focus sharply when they see possible dangers. Your spotter guide will also help keep everyone focused either by staring at their target, quietly pointing or informing your ranger.

Tip Your Guides!

Game drive guides earn some wages, but they get much of their income from tips. They also tend to get motivated to do more for groups that tip generously, so if you are particularly keen on seeing something elusive like a leopard, then be a little more giving.

Tip amounts are at your discretion, but R30 to R50 or $8 a person is considered fair. No matter how much you give, be sure to thank your guide since they are providing you a service few others are capable of rendering!

Go on Several Drives to Get a Diverse Experience During Your African Safari Trip

Morning drives are usually the most productive times of day, but afternoon and nighttime drives offer differing experiences. Regardless of when you go, recognize that each drive is a dice roll in that you never know what you will see — or if you will see anything. If you have a disappointing drive one day, do not think that means you will not see more than the average group on your next drive.

You can ensure that you go on as many different drives as possible while enjoying other amazing activities like bush walks and boat rides when you book an African safari tour package and start planning your trip today!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

 

What do Wild Lions Do All Day?

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With their lithe, muscular bodies, flowing manes and breathtaking eyes that seem to pierce with their gaze, lions are no doubt one of the single-most beautiful creatures on the planet. But just what the heck do they do all day when they live out in the wild?

If you have ever been on a trip with an African safari tour operator, you would see that a lions’ typical agenda appears quite similar to the average housecat. They sleep most of the day, play and interact with one another, and spend large amounts of time stalking and hunting prey. Of course, when the lion tends to do it, it looks a lot more majestic!

You can learn the specifics of the average lion’s routine as well as some interesting facts about lions by reading on.

Sleeping and Resting — 16-20 Hours a Day

Lions are fairly massive creatures, with the average female weigh nearly 300 pounds and the average male around 420 pounds. They also tend to spend a slim but important part of their day in vigorous physical activity, hunting, meaning they use up a lot of energy all at once.

To help build up these energy levels and maintain all that mass on a somewhat scarce diet, the typical lion will lounge around during most of the daylight hours. They will alternate between sunny and shaded areas, usually relegating themselves to a chosen section of their overall territory for a number of days.

If the females happen to have cubs, they will establish a temporary den and play area for the entire pride to get their rest around while protecting the young brood.

Grooming, Socializing, Playing and Exploring — 1-2 Hours a Day

Most of the awake time lions spend actively is divided between eating and what one might call social or leisure activities. At dusk, lions are the most active, grooming one another, interacting and finding places to go defecate. Lions may also play or interact with one another in bursts of activity leading up to the nightly hunt.

Walking, Searching for Prey — 2 Hours a Day

The most time-consuming activity on a lion’s agenda besides sleeping is walking. Lions spend around two hours a day on average patrolling their territory, looking for both prey and competitors. They may also be exploring looking for new sources of shelter, water or places to establish a temporary den for cubs. Lionesses will relocate cubs to a new den once every few weeks to ensure that the vulnerable cubs do not build up a scent for predators to notice.

Lions may shift to new parts of their territory as they patrol it, or they may return to their lounging site once they are done hunting and eating for the day.

Hunting — Less Than 10 Minutes a Day

Not counting the time lions spend locating and stalking prey, they dedicate very little time doing actual hunting. Lions are large and often noticeable, so their strategy is to flank their prey and encroach slowly. They must get very close before performing a short, powerful strike, usually at the end of a burst of speed.

Lionesses typically spend their time hunting in the early hours of dawn while males watch after the cubs.

Eating — Around 50 Minutes a Day

To preserve their body mass and get the need nutrition, adult male lions must consume around 15 lbs of meat a day and adult lionesses 11 lbs. Small prey is usually consumed quickly on site by the lion who earned the kill, while larger prey is shared in groups. Eating and protecting kills also spends up a large portion of the their energy, so they will often go home with full bellies and no stamina left, leading to another daily session of legendary naps.

Come See Lions With a Safari Tour Operator

Lions can be readily seen in many of Africa’s most popular parks, including Kruger National Park in South Africa. Their trademark naps can be observed on game drives as sleepy lions sprawl out near paved roads in the early morning. Nighttime hunts can be rarely spotted, but going on a nighttime walking safari can help you see lions when they are more active.

Come take an up-close look at wild lions by booking a safari tour package today!

Jill Liphart for www.rohoyachui.com

Top 5 African Street Foods to Try

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Part of the joy of encountering new countries and cultures is trying the delicious food they make hot and fresh for a quick meal or mid-day treat. Compared to typical dishes a family might cook at home, these street foods are simple and indulgent. They are also usually quite easy to eat, making them perfect for a pick-me-up or a meal on-the-go.

Note that eating at street stalls can be risky for your health compared to an established restaurant, but there are strategies you can use to reduce your risks.

For those on an African safari vacation who have the stomach to give them a try, the following street foods will have them smacking their lips and dreaming about their next trip:

Bobotie

Bobotie is a South African dish with roots that go back to Ancient Rome. The dish is prepared with sweet and spicy mincemeat, usually containing finely minced beef and lamb mixed with chopped almonds and dried fruit. This mixture is heavily spiced with curry powder as well as ginger, marjoram and lemon rind, giving it a complex aroma and a delicious contrast of flavors.

This mincemeat preparation is cooked for hours and then topped with a mixture of scrambled eggs and milk-soaked bread, creating a gooey topping that soaks up all the lovely juices from the mincemeat.

Street vendors serve up bobotie in big slabs held within paper trays, but the dish is also served in restaurants with a side of yellow rice and veggies.

Kelewele

Simple and satisfying, this Ghanaian snack takes fried plantains and covers it in a dusting of powdered cayenne, ginger and salt. The result is savory, golden-brown crispy outsides and a soft, semi-sweet interior.

People usually eat kelewele as a side dish with meats or stews, but it can also be eaten on its own as a snack.

Mofo Gasy

If you love sweet breakfast treats, then you just may be dreaming about mofo gasy after your first experience. This specialty bread is made in Madagascar and has since spread to parts of the eastern mainland. It is made with rice flour, sweetened condensed milk, yeast and vanilla and then slowly grilled over charcoals. The resulting pastries are sweet, fluffy and crispy on the outside, and they go great with fresh-cut fruit and a mug of strong coffee!

The Boerie Roll

South Africa’s German influences come alive in this spice-laden beef sausage stuffed with allspice, clove, nutmeg and coriander. These sausages are grilled until crispy and served on a crunchy baguette loaf for the ultimate hearty mid-day meal.

Suya

Possibly Nigeria’s favorite dish, suya is a barbequed preparation of marinated strips of fish, beef, chicken or offal. The meats are steeped in a mixture of paprika, ginger, onion powder and ground peanuts for several hours before getting charred over hot flames. The crispy results are sweet, spicy and easy to put down, making eating just a few difficult!

Try These Delicious Foods and More on an African Safari Vacation

See some of the world’s most magical animals and eat some of its best foods when you book an African safari vacation package today.

Jill Liphart for www.rohoyachui.com

 

 

The Best Family Friendly African Safari Lodges and Camps

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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 

 

Travel Gear to Keep Your Valuables Safe

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Travel gear companies know the struggles modern globetrotters face. When you stick out as a non-local with the means to travel, you can paint a big target on your back for enterprising thieves. In response, travel gear companies provide a wide range of creatively designed gear to secure your valuables, hide them, or help you avoid other common risks.

So, if you are planning on hitting some big cities during your African safari travels but want to worry less about whether your valuables will make the trip back, you can invest in some of the best anti-theft travel gear, like the following:

Body Wallet

Body wallets are long, sturdy pouches designed to be worn as close to the body as possible, deterring pickpockets while helping to conceal the presence of valuables on your body. There are many different styles, including body wallets that act like an undershirt fanny pack, ones that hang under your armpit like a gun holster and even ones that wrap around your ankle under your sock.

Just remember that these wallets should not be used for everyday shopping and spending because reaching under your shirt or into your sock draws even more attention than a casual wallet grab. Instead, travel wallets are best for things like extended bus trips, first trips to the hotel and your flight out.

Locking Backpacks, Suitcases and Bags

Plenty of gear makers have offer bags specifically designed for travel. You can recognize them by their tough webbing, lockable zippers and hidden compartments. None of these things will prevent a thief from snatching the bag wholesale, but they do keep people from quickly rummaging around in your backpack while you are distracted.

Slashproof Bags and Purses

One common tactic thieves use is to simply slash the underside of your bag or purse so that all the contents spill out. You can prevent this by purchasing slashproof travel bags made with tough, reinforced webbing and straps that don’t break easily.

Padlocks, Wire Locks and Wire Mesh

Bringing along a wire or wire mesh you can use to secure your belongings can provide versatile security in a variety of situations. If you are on a long bus trip or want to take a nap in the airport terminal, for instance, you can rest easier knowing your belongings are attached to something sturdy.

Travel Door Locks

We feel secure behind locked doors in our own homes, but we may not be able to trust the door locks in our hotels or hostels when we travel abroad. Travel door locks work in any jamb, if you’ll forgive the pun, stopping anyone from forcing the door open as long as the hinges remain secure.

You can see an example here. They also make drawer locks!

Adventure Underwear

We’ll be the first to admit that we’re not too sure about this one. They have a small pocket that is perfect for hiding credit cards and some folded bills when you don’t need to access them immediately, but they may be a bit uncomfortable to wear while sitting or walking for long periods of time. Our advice is to try them before you leave!

Get More Tips on the Best Anti-Theft Travel Gear

If you have specific questions about staying safe based on the African safari tour you will be taking, you can always ask one of our travel experts for advice, ideas and explanations. Remember, it’s easy to travel safe in Africa as long as you travel smart!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa