What do Wild Lions Do All Day?

take dad on safari for fathers day

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

how-to-find-my-perfect-african-safari-for-christmas

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

2016-11-01_africa_0238

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 

 

Last Male Northern White Rhino Takes to Tinder to Find a Date

photographic-safari-packages-south-africa-masai-mara-kenya-botswana-tanzania-namibia-rhino

There are only three northern white rhinos left, and just one male. As one of the last of his subspecies, Sudan the 44 year-old rhino did what any sensible person would do: create a Tinder profile and start looking for dates.

Sudan’s Tinder profile can now be found alongside others in 190 countries and 40 different languages. “I don’t mean to be too forward, but the fate of the species literally depends on me,” his profile quips, adding that he does “perform well under pressure.”

Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the caretakers of Sudan and his two female companions, started the campaign as an effort to raise money and awareness for the plight of the northern white rhino, also called the square-lipped rhino. The Conservancy also offers Kenya safari tours and lodging on their 90,000 acre facility.

So far, traffic for the Conservancy’s site has spiked, causing it to crash numerous times. No word yet on whether visitors are concerned conservationists, Sudan’s new adoring fans, or someone actually looking to get a date.

 

Sudan: Possibly the Last of His Subspecies

Sudan was born in 1973 — ironically the same year Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” was a #1 single. He was captured in the wild in Sudan when he was only three years old and transported to the Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech republic. Sudan became the zoo’s rarest exhibited animal, drawing millions of interested visitors, photographers, zoologists and conservationists across the world every year.

The zoo successfully bred Sudan with a female northern white rhino named Nasima, giving birth to a male named Nabire in 1983 and a female named Najin in 1989. Nabire tragically died in his enclosure in 2015, but Najin went on to sire a female named Fatu in 2000.

Fatu, her mother and her grandfather Sudan were all transported to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya in 2009 to give the rhinos a more natural habitat and hopefully encourage breeding with other partners. Their horns had grown in an abnormal shape because they had been rubbing them on the bars of their enclosures, so to encourage them to grow back normally — and to discourage poachers — all three rhinos had their horns safely sawn off once they reached their new home.

These rare specimens are protected around-the-clock from poachers by a team of vigilant and highly trained armed guards.

Looking for Love on Tinder

Unfortunately, neither of Sudan’s kin can breed any longer, and Suni, one of the last viable white rhino males they could breed with, perished in 2014. That means Sudan is the only one of his subspecies left who can produce viable, pure northern white rhino offspring.

His only options, then, are to cross-breed with other subspecies of square-lipped rhino, such as the southern white rhino. Or, perhaps he can dig up a saucy date with an elusive bachelorette northern white throughTinder? Although the chances of that actually happening are slim to none — no northern whites have been spotted in the wild since the early 2000s — Sudan’s profile will help raise awareness and money for other conservation efforts that benefit Ol Pejeta, Kenya, and the African wildlife community at large.

See White Rhinos on a Kenya Safari Tour

You can see white rhinos at Ol Pejeta Conservancy or at other amazing destinations when you book a rhino safari tour package to visit these majestic beasts in their home environment. Book your tour now, and start packing today!

Who knows, you just may be able to blow Sudan a kiss.

Jill Liphart for www.rohoyachui.com 

 

Travel Gear to Keep Your Valuables Safe

where-can-I-find-information-on-african-photographic-safaris

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

 

Beautiful Bats of Africa

what-makes-your-african-safari-perfect

Bats are incredible, unique and underappreciated mammals that supply important roles in the ecosystem. Many suburbanites fail to recognize just how common bats are in their lives; bats’ high-pitched squeals tend to blend into other twilight sounds, and the fluttering black figure in the night sky could just as easily be a swallow or a nighthawk as it is a bat.

Yet, when you come to a continent like Africa where nature is often so much more visible, bats begin to reveal their piece in the puzzle of the great natural order. Africa has around 321 species of bats — around 25% of known global bat species — which help pollinate and plant some of the continent’s most characteristic flora while others manage insect populations to the delight of its fauna.

You can read on to learn about the different types of bats you can encounter during a twilight safari in Africa and hopefully come to a deeper understanding and appreciation of just how amazing and essential the bats of Africa bats can be.

All About the Bats of Africa

Bats are members of the order Chiroptera, which means “hand-wing” in Greek. They are the only mammals capable of sustaining true flight, whereas other animals like “flying” squirrels can only glide for short distances. Bats fly by using their hands, which have been modified over millions of years of evolution to have long, thin bones connected by leathery wings or “patagium.”

You can find bats in Africa all throughout the continent except in the arid, non-forested regions around the Sahara and Kalahari deserts. They tend to roost in large colonies at the tops of tall trees, although some live in caves like their New World counterparts.

There are over 1,200 species of bats worldwide, making them the second-most diverse mammalian order following rodents. Because bats require small, light, delicate bones to enable their flight, our fossil record of bats is spotty at best. The earliest records recovered date back 52.5 million years ago, when bats had already developed the capability to fly but lacked the echolocation abilities seen in modern microbats.

This discovery makes sense given that bats show several distinct differences at the genus level. Breaking these differences down into broad terms, we have the fruit-eating megabats with their more fox-like heads; and microbats, which have smaller heads, large ears and wrinkled noses — all of which make it easier for them to use high-pitched sound waves to locate insect prey.

Africa has these two types of bats as well as examples of more specific families of bats, which you can learn more about below.

Types of Bats in Africa

  • Fruit bats have fox-like heads and typically feed on nectar from flowers and fruits. The most widespread fruit bat species in Africa is the straw-coloured fruit bat, which lives in colonies of over 100,000.
  • Horseshoe bats use their radar-dish-like noses to emit high-pitched squeaks, helping them find their insect prey.
  • Old World leaf-nosed bats have specialized nose shapes like horseshoe bats that tend to be more textured, similar in appearance to a dead leaf.
  • False vampire bats are relatively large insect-eating bats with very prominent ears and a large, pointy nose. Africa has only one species: the yellow-winged false vampire bat.
  • Sheath-tailed bats are tiny bats with pointed faces and small tails covered in a sheath. The Egyptian tomb bat is one famous example, and its habitat range follows the Nile down to Ethiopia, although it appears in other areas of Africa and India.
  • Slit-faced bats have a split nose and tall ears. The Egyptian slit-faced bat is spread throughout Africa and the Middle East.
  • Free-tailed bats are small, agile flyers that have some of the fastest flying speeds of any bats. They are also noted for their dog-like faces that resemble mastiff breeds.
  • Long-fingered bats have bonier-looking arms and more noticeable digits at the tops of their wings. They tend to live in more arid regions than Africa’s other bats.
  • Vesper or “common” bats include the largest and most diverse range of bat species.

Meet Africa’s Bats

You can go see bats on safari in the early morning or at dusk as they venture out to find their food. You can also learn about how fruit bats help pollinate and spread seeds for some of the most important plant species we have.

Take a look at our safari vacation packages today to book your trip and meet your new flying, furry, squinty, squeaky friends.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

 

Zimbabwe’s Elusive and Critical Endangered Pangolin

pangolin-getty-images

The shy and reclusive pangolin tries to keep a low profile while going about its business of eating ants and termites, but despite this unassuming demeanor — the pangolin is the biggest victim of poaching on earth. Tens of thousands of pangolins are illegally trafficked every year, leading to major seizures like one in China that contained over 3 tons of pangolin scales.

As the eight pangolin species are poached near extinction, advocates of the species are all that stands between them and being wiped off the face of the planet. Their champions include Zimbabwe’s Tikki Hywood Trust, which fosters orphaned and rescued pangolins, spreads awareness of their plight, fights for policies that protect threatened species, and engages in breeding programs to help restore their numbers.

Visitors on a Zimbabwe safari vacation who love animals should therefore make sure visit the Tikki Hywood Trust web page first to learn about how locals are fighting to protect the unique species that help make our planet beautiful.

Pangolins: Nature’s Insectivorous Knights in Scaled Armor

Pangolins are the sole remnants of the family Manidae, which are the only mammals to have hard scales made of keratin. While pangolin look like a cross between anteaters and armadillos, they are actually not closely related to either.

The pangolin’s natural diet consists of ants, termites and various insect larvae. They have a highly particular diet designed to give them optimal nutrition. Because of this picky eating, pangolins have to forage widely to find the species they prefer, making habitat loss another devastating contributor to their dwindling numbers.

Pangolins are also solitary and shy, foraging only and night and avoiding contact with others in their species outside of mating periods. Since they are somewhat short, blend in with the forest floor and can be quite fast, they are elusive to researchers, sometimes preventing accurate counts of their numbers in the wild.

When threatened, the pangolin curls up into tight balls as a defense mechanism. Its scales are so tough that even lions have trouble getting through them. Unfortunately, these beautiful and unique scales also make the pangolin a target of poachers. The scales are prized as fashion accessories or components of ancient Chinese medicine — although modern medical research indicates no benefits whatsoever. Pangolin meat is also considered an exotic delicacy, although personal accounts suggest that the animal is not particularly tasty by any means.

So, because of unfortunate misconceptions and the tragic desire for status symbols, the pangolin is being hunted to death based on myths and misunderstandings.

Protecting Pangolins on Your Zimbabwe Safari Tour

If your aim is to help lift the chances of pangolin survival, make sure you engage in the following activities:

  • Familiarize yourself with wildlife protection laws and policy so that you can educate yourself and others on what it takes for governments and people to take action
  • Seek vendors who partner with organizations like the Tikki Hywood Trust when going on a Zimbabwe safari tour
  • Recognize the beauty of pangolins and the bravery and compassion of those who try to protect them
  • Report any pangolin scale artifacts or serving of pangolin “bush meat” to the Zimbabwe authorities; refuse to give money to vendors who engage in these practices

You can begin to explore the world of the gorgeous and enchanting pangolin on a Zimbabwe safari tour with your family.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

image: Getty Images