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


Why You Should Go on a Safari in Winter


Contrary to what you might think, winter is one of the best times of the year to go on vacation. By taking a trip during the cooler months, you can break up the dreary winter season with a fun and exciting getaway, particularly if you make your next trip a winter safari.

Going on a safari is an exciting experience, regardless of the time of the year, but it is particularly memorable when your safari is also a winter vacation. Find out why a winter safari is your best choice for a vacation, and learn how you can easily plan your trip with help from a trusted company.

Cooler Temperatures

Although summer can be a great time to go on a safari, you will also have to deal with extremely high temperatures that can become dangerous if you’re not adequately prepared. For instance, summer temperatures in Africa are typically between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit, if not higher.

Conversely, when you visit Africa in winter, you will experience much more comfortable temperatures, typically in the mid- to high-70s. With these temperatures, you can stay out in nature much longer and will have a more enjoyable experience. However, you should be sure to pack warm clothing, as the nighttime temperatures can get downright chilly.

Stay Dry

Many people plan safaris during the summer months to see as many exotic animals as possible. While this makes sense, popular tourist regions of Africa, such as Kruger, experience their rainy season during the summer. This means your safari adventures have a high probability of being washed out if you visit during the summer.

By booking your safari for the winter season, you will be able to avoid the wettest months of the year. Additionally, if you time your vacation correctly, you should still be able to see the breathtaking animal life for which Africa is known. Staying dry and having a great time is much easier when you go on a safari during the winter months.

Increased Safety

There are several hazards that you need to avoid on your African safari, including serious diseases like malaria. During the summer months in Africa, the mosquito population explodes, bringing an increased risk of malaria and other diseases transmitted by these insects.

Once the weather turns drier and cooler in certain regions of Africa, the number of mosquitoes drops substantially, meaning your trip will be much more enjoyable and with a lower risk of contracting malaria. If you want to make sure that your African safari is as safe as possible, consider booking a trip during the winter.

Beat the Crowds

One of the most frustrating aspects of vacationing in a popular destination is having to fight the crowds. A great reason to plan your African safari during winter is that the peak travel season will be over, meaning you’ll be able to enjoy the scenery and wildlife without having to navigate around large groups of tourists. Traveling during the winter season means having a much more relaxed vacation because you won’t have to deal with other vacationers.

Book your African safari during the winter if you want a cold weather getaway packed with thrills.

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


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