Why You Should Go on a Christmas Safari Holiday This Year

take dad on safari for fathers day

Christmas is a magical time of year for millions of people throughout the world, and it also happens to be the perfect time to go on an African safari tour with your family or closest friends.

In Africa, some describe December as the “rainy season,” but don’t expect torrential downpours and mud everywhere you go. In fact, many locals call this time of year the “green season” instead as frequent rains mean more vegetation. Animals get to dine voraciously, and most use the opportunity to sire a new generation. Tourism is also down, so prices tend to be deeply discounted to attract more people. These are just some of the reasons why Christmas safari holidays are an amazing experience and an alternative worth considering.

If you have always wanted to trade in a white Christmas for a green one filled with stunning wildlife and peaceful beaches, consider the following 5 reasons why you should go on a Christmas African safari holiday this year.

Less Crowds

In Southern and Eastern Africa, most safari game lodges and private reserves shut down to the public around mid to late January. This time of year coincides with the heaviest rains, which make roads muddy and difficult to traverse, even in the best of 4x4s.

In December, however, rains are frequent but light. Lodges, parks and reserves are all still accessible, yet bookings have already started to slack off. What this means is that you are far more likely to book a room at your favorite lodge during this time of year! You can also enjoy having fewer people on game drives as well as at airports and elsewhere near typical safari destinations.

You and your family can enjoy privacy and a more intimate experience at your lodge thanks to the thinned crowds and the eager staff ready to please their smaller pool of guests.

Cheaper Rates

As demand slows, prices go down in order to spur more business. Luxury game lodges near famous safari parks like Kruger, Mana Pools and the Serengeti tend to offer discounted rates, especially for big families. You can also receive special add-ons, like complimentary sundowners or a no-charge-added Christmas feast filled with African and European delights.

If you have always wanted to experience an African safari trip but were worried about your budget, Christmas time is the perfect period to visit most places at an affordable rate.

Tons of Adorable Newborn Animals

As greenery becomes plentiful, many animals in the bush take the opportunity to breed. Parks teem with adorable baby animals, like elephant calfs, lion cubs, wild dog pups, warthog piglets and more. Spotting these animals in the thicker, green grasses can be difficult, but many guides and trackers make it their specialty to locate young animals during the low season.

Incredible Greenery and Migratory Birds Galore

The rains and extra greenery create spectacular landscapes that truly show how Africa’s savannas and wetlands come alive. Migratory birds especially love this time of year in central to southern Africa, so bird lovers will get their fill of unique, exotic and spectacular birds at places like the Okavango Delta.

Milder Weather

Weather cools down during the rainy season quite a bit. In fact, many of the top non-safari destinations like Cape Town’s beaches and Lake Victoria resorts tend to have some of their best weather. The occasional thunderstorm is often followed by periods of blue skies, light breezes and plenty of sun.

Special Events and Celebrations

Game lodges know how special Christmas is to visitors, so they usually pull out all of the stops to prepare special holiday feasts or activities. Cities also often hold special events, like Johannesburg’s Christmas markets for gifts, crafts and seasonal treats. Events like these happen at no other time of the year, making Christmas a special and unique time to visit Africa on safari.

Book Your Christmas Safari Holiday in Africa Now!

Now is the perfect time to plan your trip to Africa for a special Christmas holiday adventure. Contact us today to book a custom Christmas safari vacation package, or look at our many available pre-planned African safari tour packages to get your season started off right.

Also, stay posted for a list of the absolute best things to do and places to visit on safari in Africa during Christmastime!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

Going on Your First African Safari Trip? Here’s 8 Helpful Travel Tips


Africa has all sorts of wonderful experiences in store for first-time visitors, and with a few bits of advice from seasoned travellers, you can make the most of every moment. Learn what to do — and sometimes what not to do — when visiting the continent on your first African safari tour by reading on.


Research the History, Language and Culture of the Region You Are Going to Visit

Africa is the second-largest continent on the planet, big enough to fit the U.S., all of China, India, Japan and most of Europe within its borders. Just think for a moment about how different the culture is within regions of your own state, and you can begin to understand how diverse Africa is.

We say this so that you are able to appreciate the more unique aspects of the region you are visiting. Many first-time visitors make the mistake of thinking that “all Africa is alike” when regional differences can be quite stark.

To achieve the right frame of mind and prepare for deeper learning during your travels, take a second to look up the history of the country or major city you are visiting. For instance, you may learn that Kenya used to be under British rule until 1963, which can help you understand more about the country’s unique political beliefs. If you have more time, take a moment to look up the major languages spoken so that you can catch more subtext within the signage and snippets of conversation you hear.


Bring an Old Cell Phone, Outlet Adapter, and a Spare Power Bank

Your normal cell phone service likely won’t work abroad, but you can always purchase a cheap SIM card and prepaid service in the country where you arrive. Buy an unlocked phone off eBay or Craigslist, and make sure it is fully charged and loaded with important contacts before your trip begins. Taking this phone with you reduces the risk that your personal phone could get lost or stolen.

Also, be sure to have an outlet adapter for the shape of the outlet of the country you will be entering as well as spare power bank chargers.


Spread Your Money and Cards Around

When travelling, don’t keep all of your money and cards in a single place. Keep some in a body wallet worn close to you, and spread the rest around in secure, easy-to-find locations. That way, you are less likely to misplace or lose all of your funds, and you still have access to money even in a worst-case scenario.


Will Your Way Through Jet Lag

Jet lag is mostly a state of mind, so fighting your body’s internal clock can help you adjust more quickly. No matter what time you are used to doing things, force yourself to eat and sleep on a normal schedule during your stay. The more you can warm up to the new time zone, the better-able you will be able to enjoy things like early morning bush walks.

As an added trick: set your wristwatch to the new time zone you will be visiting a week before your trip to start gearing up mentally.


Write Down the Name and Number of a Good Driver

Ask your hotel front desk or game lodge manager if they know of a reliable transit service, or, better yet, the name and number of a trustworthy driver.

Finding a good cab driver in a major city like Johannesburg is like knowing your own personal superhero. You can give them a call to catch a reliable ride anywhere you need to go, and they will often drop what they are doing to pick up an out-of-town customer since they can earn more from them.


Learn More Advice, and Book Your African Safari Tour Now!

You can learn more tips for travelling, enjoying your safari and making the most of your African experience when you contact us today for personalized advice on how you can craft the perfect safari holiday experience. Take a look at some of our sample African safari vacation packages to see what could be in store for you.

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

All About the Hyrax, the Elephant’s Cousin That Looks Like a Rodent


In a continent full of unique and unusual animals, the plucky hyrax still manages to stand out. These medium-sized mammals are survivors of a primitive group of species that later split off to evolve into elephants, manatees and dugongs. They have some interesting characteristics, including complex barking “songs” and elephant-like rubbery footpads adapted for climbing.

You can find the four different species of hyrax all throughout Africa during an African safari tour. Observing them in the wild is a rare treat that makes them every bit as worth seeking out as any of the Big Five.

The Four Species of Hyrax

There are four different species of hyrax — also called “dassies” by those who speak Afrikaans — and they all have their own distinct habits and habitat ranges.

  • Rock Hyrax — Also called the “rock badger,” these hyraxes are highly social and adept climbers thanks to their thick rubber-like pads. They spend 95% of their time sleeping or resting in the sun.
    • Distribution: Cape Hyraxes are found along the coasts of South Africa and Namibia as well as across Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Yellow-Spotted Hyrax — Also called the “bush hyrax” or the “yellow-spotted rock hyrax” this species lives in clusters of boulders and rocky natural outcroppings found on the plains called kopjes. They are smaller and less-round than the rock hyrax.
    • Distribution: Found along the eastern coast of Africa and also within limited areas of Angola.
  • Western Tree Hyrax — Unlike the social rock hyraxes, this hyrax tends to live alone within tree clusters. They have coarser fur and unique white markings that resemble eyebrows or beards.
    • Distribution: Found in a limited range in western subtropical Africa, including the D.R. Congo and southern Cameroon.
  • Southern Tree Hyrax — The most elusive and smallest of the hyrax species, the southern tree hyrax lives alone or in pairs. They prefer humid regions of forests and savannas as well as rocky areas.
    • Distribution: A limited range in east-central Africa, including most of Tanzania and parts of the D.R. Congo.

Hyrax Size and Appearance

Hyraxes appear similar to rodents or guinea pigs, with the rock hyrax looking rather rotund and the other species looking more-lean. They can grow up to 28 inches in length and 11 pounds.

Hyraxes have interesting teeth structures, with front incisors that grow out into tusk-like formations, similar to their elephant cousins. They also have hoof-like blunt nails that resemble elephant feet.

Hyrax Group Behaviors

The two rock hyrax species are highly social, living in groups of up to 30. As a result of their social organization, they show signs of high intelligence, including the ability to communicate through 20 different vocal noises. In captivity, they tend to be extremely “talkative,” responding actively to caregivers when they approach. They also make chomping/chewing movements as a form of communication.

Unique Adaptations

All hyrax species have unique foot pad structures and sweat glands in between their toes to help them grip rocks and tree trunks. The foot muscles all curve inward to create a suction-cup-like grip.

Another interesting adaptation is the hyrax’s highly efficient kidneys, which can filter waste with minimal use of water. In fact, their concentrated urine creates mineral deposits over time called hyraceum, and the musky scent is highly prized as an ingredient in perfumes.

One thing the hyraxes are not well-adapted for is maintaining their internal heat. Rock hyraxes in particular must huddle together, rest frequently and bask in the sun to maintain their internal body temperature.

See Rock Hyraxes and Other Incredible Species During Your African Safari Tour

You can encounter hyraxes and other charming, unique creatures during your African safari trip when you book one of our safari tour packages.

Take a look at our sample safari tours to book your trip today, and contact us if you want to create a custom safari vacation where you can meet hyraxes in person.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui


Meet Africa’s Plucky “Small Five” During Your Safari Adventure


Much attention is given to Africa’s “Big Five” game animals — and deservedly so — but those who come to Africa to look at just five species will miss out on incredible opportunities to see other beautiful wildlife.

Tackling this problem, conservationists decided to band together and make a push to recognize the not­so­big and not­quite­so­iconic animals you can find throughout the continent. The result was the “Small Five.”

None of these creatures are particularly rare, but they do feature names from each of the Big Five as a clever nod. The real purpose in highlighting these animals is to help people headed to top­rated African safari destinations focus on all the small details that make Africa great, not just Five of them.

Get to know the Little Five and what makes them so endearing by reading their species profiles below.


1.   Red­Billed Buffalo Weaver

The buffalo weaver lives in large colonies on savannas south of the Sahara all throughout Africa. Each colony is made up of breeding groups of 3­4 females and one male. The groups make huge nests in baobab trees and other plains trees on the savanna. Each nest contains multiple compartments for individual females to lay eggs and nest upon them.

Even though males often compete for female mates, and females do not tolerate other females in their chamber, red­billed buffalo weavers do cooperate when it comes to building their large nests. Males will even cooperate with one another to build nests, gather food for females and defend the colony territory from invaders.


2.   Elephant Shrew

The elephant shrew is a fascinating creature known for their long snouts and rapid speeds. Even though the animals typically measure less than a foot in length, they can sprint at speeds of nearly 18 miles an hour for short distances.

Some species even modify their environment by clearing “lanes” or paths through the underbrush to make finding insects easier. They can also use the cleared lanes to rapidly scurry to safety when a threat comes near.

3.   Leopard Tortoise

Named for the vibrant leopard­like patterns sometimes seen on their hard domed shells, leopard tortoises are desert­loving reptiles found from Sudan all the way to the southern Cape. They eat grasses but prefer desert succulents and spiny thistles, making quick work of them with their leathery tongues.

Leopard tortoises are the fourth­largest species of tortoise in the world, growing up to 16 inches in overall length and 29 pounds in weight. Some tortoises along the Cape have gotten even bigger, growing to 28 inches and weighing more than 88 pounds!

4.   Rhinoceros Beetle

Africa has over a dozen species of rhinoceros beetle throughout its lands, including the huge Archon centaurus at nearly three inches long and Oryctes boas, which has a single horn large enough to make even a real rhino jealous!

Both male and female rhino beetles have horns, but only the males use them to battle for mates. They also use the horn as real rhinos do: to dig, lift objects and help navigate their environment. When threatened, some rhino beetle species “squeak” by rubbing their abdomens against their thin inner wings.

5.   Ant Lion

The most­common of the Little Five but nonetheless fascinating, the ant lion species can be found all throughout Africa and the world. These voracious insect predators are actually the larva of lacewing insects. They burrow into the ground and make trademark “funnel traps” in the sand to capture unsuspecting insect prey. Antlions’ powerful jaws can seize prey many times their size, and their large abdomens and forward­facing bristles help keep them anchored during the struggle.

Africa is home to some of the largest antlion species, including one species of Palpares that grows to 6.3 inches as an adult!

Come Meet the Small Five at Top­Rated African Safari Destinations

When you book a safari destination vacation package, feel free to get excited about lion, leopard and elephant sightings, but don’t forget to take a closer look at the world around you. You just may see an ant lion funnel, or catch the call of a buffalo weaver as they exit their large nests.

Take a second to appreciate all of Africa in this way, and you will get much more out of your trip to come home feeling like you truly experienced as much splendor as possible.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui


What is Ecotourism, and How is it Transforming African Safari Tours?


Chances are good that if you have looked into booking an African safari vacation, you have encountered the word “ecotourism.” This term can be confusing since it is used in many different ways by different organizations.

At its heart, ecotourism refers to a method of travel that minimizes your negative impacts on the environment and local communities. Many also include education as a necessary component of ecotourism; they believe that visitors to a region should learn about the local ecosystem and the lives of the people that live within it. Whereas normal tourism may seek to change the appearance of a destination to make it more of a pleasure-focused experience, ecotourism intends to transform the perspective of travellers by introducing them to new ways of thinking, living and acting.

Abiding 100 percent to the principles of ecotourism is tough in our consumer-focused economy, especially given the impact of our growing populations around the world. Yet, many ecotourism safari tours split the difference by minimizing their impact on the environment, promoting conservation causes and enlightening travellers while still providing a comfortable experience.

Ecotourism Definition and The Importance of Education

The concept of ecotourism has been defined in many different ways by different organizations. These organizations themselves even shift the definition over time to reflect the goals and realities of ecotourism.

Perhaps the best definition comes from The International Ecotourism Society (TIES)

Ecotourism is now defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education” (TIES, 2015).  Education is meant to be inclusive of both staff and guests.

TIES only recently solidified education’s role within their definition, but they have a good reason for it.

People who adhere to ecotourism principles believe that anyone who visits a destination should not just enjoy the exact same comforts they find back home, nor should they be presented with the same simplified “cartoon” version of the locale they might see on TV. Instead, the goal is to momentarily share the life of others there, including both the local people and animals.

By understanding more about how the Maasai people in Tanzania maintain their nomadic traditions, for instance, you can see how the lives they lead are a conscious choice that brings them satisfaction. You can also learn about their history of strict conservatism and dedication to the rights of living beings, including their refusal to eat game and birds.

Similarly, learning about the unique beauty and characteristics of the white rhino can help you understand why it is so important to prevent their extinction.

Conservation Ecotourism

Most public parks and private organizations in Africa now have a dedicated conservation component to their operations. Instead of trading off the sanctity of their ecosystems and preferred lifestyles for the sake of tourism income, they adapt their visitor programs to have a minimal impact and include significant educational components. Additionally, many of the proceeds from visitors are now donated to wildlife programs or used to directly fund operations like animal rescues.

For instance, the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya uses funds generated by visitors to support innovations and advancements in wildlife protection. These funds help them do things like pioneer the use of aerial drones and image-recognition AIs, which track wildlife movements and detect poachers before they can make their move.

Learn Some of the Three Best Ecotourism Safari Tours to Try

Africa is rich with organizations and programs offering transformative ecotourism experiences. We will cover three of the most interesting examples in our next post for you to take a look at.

You can also find many other ecotourism-related experiences within our curated African safari tour packages. Start planning your trip today with our helpful suggestions, and contact us if you are interested in custom ecotourism safari tours to match your interests.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

The History of Kruger National Park


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

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

Small Beginnings: The Sabi Game Reserve

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

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

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

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

The Formation of Kruger National Park

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

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

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

Visiting Kruger and Big Five Safari Tours Now

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

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

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

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui