Experience the Sheer Diversity of South African Plant Life

what-makes-your-african-safari-perfect

South Africa has a boggling amount of diversity in its plant life, including over 9,000 different species on its Cape Floristic Region. While many may think solely of the savanna when they think of South Africa, the country has seven other completely different ecological life zones, or biomes. Each biome has a unique mixture of native flora, including thousands of endemic species and many native flowering plants that should be familiar to gardening enthusiasts.

Explore each of these biomes with us as we highlight their rich diversity and unique traits, but remember that you can only truly experience them with your own eyes on an African safari vacation.

Plant Biomes Found in South Africa

  • Savanna
  • Desert
  • Grassland
  • Thicket
  • Forest
  • Succulent karoo
  • Nama karoo
  • Fynbos

Cape Floristic Kingdom

Plant “kingdoms” are biogeological groupings that attempt to group together as many endemic species as possible by similarities in traits, heredity, and more. Most of these kingdoms stretch across the globe; the Holarctic, or Boreal, Kingdom for instance spans most of North America and all of Europe as well as parts of North Africa.

South Africa’s Cape Peninsula boast a floral kingdom that occupies a relatively tiny area — the smallest of all the six plant kingdoms found on the globe. This cluster exists because 69 percent of the species here are endemic, which is to say they can be found nowhere else.

20 percent of all the African continent’s plant species can be found here. The Cape Peninsula also has more overall plant species within it than all of the isle of Great Britain.

Fynbos

Fynbos or “fine bush” is an arid, Mediterranean-like biome characterized by scrub grasses and brightly colored flowering plants. Many familiar garden species hail from here, including irises, geraniums (pelargoniums), white arum lilies, Barberton daisies and more.

Make of the Cape Floral Kingdom is composed of fynbos.

Namaqualand

While the Cape Floral Kingdom is impressive, the Namaqualand region astounds the mind with raw beauty and emotion. Throughout most of the year, this region is arid, rocky and very desert-like. But every spring, it erupts in fields of shockingly intense color.

Images of this period can stir the soul, but they do not do the actual sight of the orange, yellow, and violet fields justice. If you want to time your trip to South Africa just right, make sure it happens when you can catch a glimpse of the Namaqualand in full bloom.

Forests, Savanna, Grassland and More

In addition to these natural gardens, South Africa has the familiar acacia trees, iconic baobab trees, ancient cycads and more. Many of these plants provide more than just beauty; medical researchers are now prizing them for their potent medicinal effects.

Sadly, many of these gorgeous and beneficial plants are threatened, including 1,435 species in the Cape Floristic Kingdom. Support their biodiversity by raising awareness and embarking on South African safari tours that contribute money to the preservation of South Africa’s wild, unique and wonderful landscapes.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

How to Determine the Amount of Time to Spend on Your Safari

take dad on safari for fathers day

Africa is the perfect continent to visit when you are on holiday. Many people spend years planning the perfect safari vacation. There are multiple countries in Africa that offer tourists wonderful safari experiences. Of course, it is impossible to experience all of the diverse landscapes and biomes within Africa in a short trip — but holidays do not last long. It is important to pinpoint exactly what you want to see and do for your African safari vacation so that you can determine how much time you will need to commit to meeting those goals. Here are some questions to help you determine the amount of time to spend on your safari.

  1. Are You an Experienced Wildlife Fanatic?

While everyone is encouraged to take a trip to Africa so that they can truly appreciate everything that the wonderful nations within have to offer, a long safari is not recommended for all. The most common methods for traveling through the safari parks and countries is via a four wheel drive vehicle, walking, horseback or on foot. As you can imagine, a few days of traveling in this manner is exhausting for even the most avid outdoorsman. Of course, for some a week is not nearly enough time to embrace the African wildlife. If you are not an experienced with the outdoors, consider limiting your safari to a week or less.

  1. What is Your Method of Travel?

Some methods of travel allow you to see a lot of the landscape very quickly. One of the most popular is an air safari via plane. This is a very unique experience that requires little work on your part — except to keep your eyes open for any incredible animals. There are also water safaris that can be more relaxing than other traditional routes. If you are traveling using one of these methods, you will be able to complete your trip quicker, in just a few days. If you would like to stay in Africa longer, be our guest.

  1. What are Your Prefered Accommodations?

Most eco-friendly safari camps are quite primitive. You can expect bucket showers and a true camping experience. However, luxury safari camps offer a finer side for safari tourists. After a week in an eco-friendly camp, you will probably be ready for a nice hot shower and a warm bed. If you are in a luxury camp, you may be able to stick it out a bit longer.

  1. What Would You Like to See?

There is so much to do and see in Africa, it is simply impossible to cover it all in a week or even two. Narrow down your top priorities and calculate how much time it will take to travel between them. If you would like to go through multiple countries, you may want to consider extending your trip.

Plan Your African Safari Vacation

Are you ready to plan your African safari vacation? We can help. To learn more, visit our safari tours page or contact us to speak to a representative at Roho Ya Chui.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

 

Essential for Planning a Successful Tour

how-is-safety-on-african-safari

An African safari vacation is a bucket list vacation that requires careful planning and attention to detail to perfect. The continent is so diverse — you can experience most of the world’s biomes by traveling through a few distinct locations. There are thousands of animals and bird species, as well as an abundance of thriving plant life. You want your trip to Africa to be a dream, and it absolutely can be if you have the essentials prepared. Take your time, talk to the experts and read through these tips for planning a successful tour.

  1. Involve the Whole Group With Planning

Most people do not travel to Africa alone, which means that you will have multiple wants and opinions for what to see and do while you are there. This is how it should be, as Africa offers something for everyone. Take everyone’s wishes into account and talk about how you can smoothly make those dreams a reality. Some travel experts recommend different times of the year for different regions, so your group will need to take that into account. You might need to travel through multiple countries — which is both normal for tourists and encouraged. Be sure to commit plenty of time to this trip, one to two weeks is highly recommended.

  1. Decide Where to Stay and Travel

Safari experts recommend that tourists who want an intimate, experience in Africa stay in smaller camps. These campsites are normally very luxurious, offering friendly staff, good meals and daily safari tours. Larger lodges may be the way to go if you are on a tighter budget, but these often accommodate upwards of 100 people at a time. As you can imagine, these groups can make safari trips a bit less magical. If you do stay in a lodge, consider investing in a traveling method that will be smaller and more personal. With that being said, take some time to consider a total budget plan with your family or friends who will also be going on the trip. Decide where to stay and travel based off your budget.

  1. Learn About the Cultures

The cultures in Africa are just as diverse as the continent itself. There are a multitude of different groups, tribes and peoples who are very welcoming to tourists. It is important that you learn about the cultures and customs of the locals in the areas that you will be traveling through. Nobody wants to be that tourist who unintentionally offends a nice tour guide.

Use a Professional Travel Agency

Planning a trip to Africa is a real art. It is highly recommended that you invest in the expertise of a travel agent who specializes in safari vacations. Are you ready to start planning your trip to Africa? To learn more information, visit our safari tours page and contact us to start planning your African safari vacation with Roho Ya Chui, today.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Visiting the different regions of Africa

traditional-maize-meals-of-africa

Roho Ya Chui offers safaris all across Africa so that you can travel the locations you’re most drawn to. Each part of the continent offers unique experiences from scenery to wildlife to cuisine. Explore our site and guides for more details, but consider these brief descriptions of some of our favorite regions of Africa to start narrowing down your trip choices. Remember not to stress over your decision—all the safaris are incredible, and you can always come back for another!

Botswana & Namibia

Surround yourself with wildlife during your trip to Chobe National Park in Botswana. The park is home to one of the largest concentrations of elephants on the entire African continent. As the game roam freely in the large natural space, you’ll also be likely to spot buffalo, antelope, rafts of hippo, lions, crocodiles, zebras, and hyenas. Sound like your ideal trip? Think about the 9-day Signature Botswana safari or check out what our Namibia trips have to offer.

Southern Africa

The country of South Africa is a great place to visit if you’re interested in exploring Southern Africa. Cape Town offers incredible views of the ocean and mountains. Visit the Jackass penguins on Boulders Beach and watch the gorgeous sunset over Table Mountain. Kruger Park offers highly skilled and qualified professional rangers and trackers who will land you intimate wildlife encounters with leopards, elephants, buffalo, rhino, and lions. There are plenty of safaris to think about taking throughout the nations of Southern Africa, but a few to consider in South Africa are the 7-day Signature Kruger, the 10-day Cape Town, Kruger & Victoria Falls, and the 6-day Blyde River, Kruger, and Panorama Route fly-in tour.

Victoria Falls, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, & Madagascar

Trips to Victoria Falls offer the opportunity for activities like white water rafting and bungee jumping. If you’re seeking something a little less extreme, there are also the more low-key options of elephant back safaris and sunset cruises. The largest sheet of falling water on earth, The Victoria Falls are one of the natural Seven Wonders of the World. In this region, expect to see warthogs and sample interesting dishes like crocodile risotto and kudu steaks. Consider the 11-day Best of Zimbabwe, Signature Zambia tours, and many more throughout these various nations.

Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, & Uganda

A Tanzanian tour will guarantee spotting an abundance of wildlife. With more than 550 species of birds, the swamps surrounding the Tarangire River support the largest number of breeding bird species found anywhere in the world. You might also come across elephants, pythons, herds of oryx, and tree climbing lions. Additionally, you’ll view impressive rock paintings that were created by men tens of thousands of years ago. Visit the Serengeti to experience an ongoing source of inspiration for filmmakers, photographers, and writers around the world. Try the 18-day Grand Tour Tanzania, or look into our trips to Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

8 Packing Essentials for your Safari

7-essential-informations-needed-with-your-african-safari-booking

Packing for your grand safari adventure is different from packing for a trip to Disney Land or a weekend in Las Vegas. While you are dreaming of excitement and vistas that take your breath away, keep in mind that you are going to spend the majority of your time out of doors, and you do not want to get dirty or be schlepping four bags in your wake.

Packing Light

The name of the game is pack light. In fact, if you are planning on doing any plane hops between sites, you could be limited to less than 25 lbs. Your best bet is not to bring things you do not need, and, if possible, to bring a small duffel bag of absolute essentials to take on your safari, while you leave your larger roller bag and less needed items in your arrival/departure city. Check with your tour operator to find out any luggage restrictions they may have, as well as to get details about lockers or other long-term storage options for while you are “on safari.”

The Wearables: Clothing and Accessories

Temperatures can fluctuate wildly from day to night, so packing in layers is important. Bringing specialty travel wear, or anything that dries quickly, can save you space as you can wash them in the sink and air dry overnight. You want to avoid any brightly colored items, including white, to ensure you do not stand out and distract the animals.

Loosely fitting clothing will help prevent over-heating in the day time, and a fleece or sweatshirt will keep you cool in the chilly morning or evening. A thin roll-up raincoat can be packed in an outside pocket or bottom of the bag and will be needed during the rainy season. Long pants and sleeves will protect you from the elements as well as mosquitoes.

For a typical safari of a week to ten days, the following items should be sufficient, but again, check with your tour operator.

  1. Tops: 3-4 T-shirts, 2 long sleeved shirts
  2. Bottoms: 1 pair comfortable, loose shorts, two pairs of long cotton pants (avoid jeans)
  3. Outerwear: 1 sweatshirt or fleece, 1 thin raincoat
  4. Undergarments: 2-3 pairs of socks, 4 pair underwear, 2-3 sports bras (if needed) all in a material that can be washed in sink
  5. Shoes: 1 pair water shoes/ flip flops for shower, 1 pair waterproof, comfortable, lightweight shoes for everyday
  6. Pajamas: 1 pair warm pajama pants can be paired with your t-shirts or sweatshirt to keep you warm during the chilly nights
  7. Accessories: Sunglasses and a hat with strap to protect you not only from the sun but also the dust
  8. Your swimsuit

Extra Gadgets
You are going on a safari to see the scenery and wildlife around you, so you do not need to pack a lot of “extra” entertainment. You are, however, going to want to capture your trip, so a camera is a must. With the camera make sure you consider extra batteries and/or charger, as well as additional SD/memory cards. You should also consider bringing binoculars to spot birds and hiding wildlife. Other items to include are a flashlight for walking around at night and a cell phone with an international plan (and the charger!)

Toiletries and Medicines

You do not need to go overboard with medicine and first aid, as the tour company will have first aid kits, but it is always a good idea to have a small stash on hand. When packing for your safari, consider packing Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, pain relievers, antihistamine (pills or creams), bug spray/repellent, sun block and antacids/antidiarrheals. You can also pack hand sanitizer for when hand washing water is unavailable. You will also need to pack any feminine hygiene products (if needed) and you should consider panty liners—toilet paper is nowhere to be found nor is there any place to dispose of it while on a game drive.

You are Ready To Go

Keep in mind when packing for your safari that you are limited in the space you can bring. You will be spending the majority of your time outside in the dust and sun; you do not need to bring a fashion runway’s worth of clothes. Pack light and with layerable items for fluctuating temperatures. Moreover, don’t forget your camera! Bon Voyage!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Must Try African Dishes

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

It’s no secret that indulging in delectable new foods is one of the greatest parts of exploring a place you’ve never been before, and your journey to Africa will be no exception. Crispy barbecued meats, spicy sauces and rich flavors are just a few aspects of the cuisine you can start looking forward to. These delicious African dishes will undoubtedly get your palate just as excited for the big trip as the rest of you.

Briouat

Briouats are a must-try. The baked or fried Moroccan pastries boast a variety of stuffings: beef, lamb, chicken, cheese, lemon, vegetables and spices like coriander and paprika. Get them as an appetizer, or try every flavor and make them your whole meal.

Pap en vleis/Shisa nyama

A South African favorite, pap en vleis means “maize porridge and meat.” You can try steak, kebabs, chicken, sausage or chops. The meat is barbecued and served with gravy or chakalaka, a spicy vegetable relish with a fiery flavor. Eat it with a local South African beer and you’re in for an unforgettable experience.

Kachumbari

This flavorful dish is especially popular in East Africa.  It consists of raw chopped onions, tomatoes, salt and chili peppers for flavor and heat. Some enjoy it with pilau rice, a dish cooked with cumin, cardamom, cloves, turmeric and cinnamon. Even better? In Kenya, Kachumbari is eaten with roasted goat or beef.

Piri piri Chicken

A dish most commonly found in Mozambique, just reading about Piri piri chicken will likely get your mouth watering. Cooked with lime, garlic, pepper, coconut milk and cilantro, this meat and its marinade make for an amazing dish. We promise that the crisp, spicy roast chicken and its succulent center is delicious beyond belief.

Muamba de Galinha

Originally from Angola, Muamba de Galinha is a chicken cuisine made with palm oil or butter, garlic, okra and chilis. It’s often served with white rice and cassava leaves in the Congo River region, or macadamia or palm nuts in Gabon. If you’re looking for rich and spicy, Muamba de Galinha is the right choice.

Bobotie

South Africa’s national food, Bobotie is a combination of spicy ground meat, chutney, curry powder, raisins and apricot jam generally topped with baked eggs and milk. It tastes as incredible as it sounds.

Fufu

Fufu is a paste created from starchy root vegetables like plantains, cassava, or yams. Originally a West African dish, the vegetables are pounded into a doughy substance and then rolled into tiny balls that are served with a variety of sauces or aside the main course. The starch perfectly complements spicy gravies or stews.

Cholent

Also a Jewish tradition, Cholent is frequently eaten in Northern Africa. It typically consists of potatoes, pinto or kidney beans, onions, barley and meat. Beef is usually the meat of choice, but chicken or sausage can be substituted. Garlic, paprika, pepper and cayenne create the dish’s irresistible flavor.

So many spectacular dishes are just another sign that Africa could be your best vacation yet. Find out how Roho Ya Chui can help you make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

 

 

 

Planning Your Safari Adventure

hippo on african safari

When planning your dream African safari adventure there are two major considerations: Where, and, less intuitively, when. Sure, when picking a time of year to go on a vacation, school holidays, work schedules, and family appointments are all important concerns, but you must also contemplate what you hope to accomplish on your grand Safari. Do you want to see the “Big 5” game animals? Or are you an avid bird-watcher? Are you sensitive to extreme temperature swings? Do you detest excessive rain fall? These are all things that should be considered when planning your trip to Africa.

Creating the Perfect Experience for You

For most explorers on Safari, the wildlife is the main draw. For best animal viewing, you’ll want to go in the dry season. Lack of grasses and foliage mean that the animals migrate to known watering holes. This increases your guide’s chances of finding animals for you to view. While wildlife can be hard to spot in the tall grasses of the wet season, if birding is your goal, the wet season can provide better opportunity, as migrant birds are in the region. This is due to the nesting and/or breeding patterns of the birds.

Africa is largely equatorial; of the 54 countries in Africa, the equator passes through twelve of them, and it does so almost in the smack middle of the continent. That means depending on where you are choosing to journey, chances are you will be going south of the equator. And in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are opposite from the United States.

Temperature fluctuations do occur, and depending on region and elevation can be rather extreme. The daily temperature ranges in the eastern part of Africa typically are more affected by altitude changes. Southern Africa, including the subtropical region, is more affected by winter and summer (and, again, seasons are opposite of what you would expect in the northern hemisphere.)

The Dry Season

The common dry season in the eastern part of Africa on, and south of, the equator (think Kenya, Rwanda, and parts of Tanzania) is Winter, and because this region is in the southern hemisphere, winter means from June to October. A second, smaller “dry-season” also occurs typically during December to the middle of March.

Southern and Western Tanzania elevations border the sub-tropic region, and have a blend of both equatorial east Africa, and Subtropical Africa climatic temperaments. The subtropical region (Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana and parts of South Africa) has its dry season from April to October.

The Wet Season

Mother Nature rarely adheres to a schedule, so yes, it can rain at any time. But rainfall is most typical during the rainy months. Rain is crucial for the wildlife, as it allows for the grasses and other flora in the region to flourish, and these plants are necessary for the survival of the animals in the region. This is especially important for the equatorial eastern portion of the continent, which, in addition to the countries listed above, encompasses most of the Serengeti. The Serengeti is one of the seven natural wonders of Africa and this rainfall is life-giving for the many animals that migrate and live there. In this region rainfall should be expected in April and May, with a potential for a rainy November.

The subtropical region of Africa has a much more predictable (if one can call weather predictable) rainy season than the eastern portion of the continent. November to March is considered the rainy season, although when the precise start of the season, and how much rain will come does vary from year to year.

Planning Your African Safari

No matter the time of year you choose to go, you are sure to be awed an amazed and the landscape and animals around you. A little planning and forethought are all you need to frame your expectations and have the experience of a lifetime. Contact us at Roho Ya Chui today to learn more about planning the perfect African safari.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa