Magic Masai Mara, Kenya

The Maasai Mara in the south-west of Kenya is contiguous plain with the Serengeti in Tanzania and is part of the greater Mara ecosystem.  The Maasai Mara National Reserve (MMNR) is a small fraction of this ecosystem, but fraction is kind of relative as the MMNR still measures 1500 square kilometres. The landscape is dominated by open grasslands with numerous seasonal creeks and the famous acacia trees in some areas.

If you can remember the 1980’s movie “Out of Africa” with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford that plays in the Masai Mara for the most part, this is exactly the landscape you will find when visiting today. And yes, it is even much more impressive when you are there in person as compared to the film.

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The Mara is mainly at an altitude of 1600 meters where you have the rain season from November till May and the dry season from June till November. This climate change is also responsible for what is known as the great migration, where over 1.5 million wildebeest arrive in July and leave again in November, one of the most impressive spectacles repeating itself on earth annually and the perfect background for stunning wildlife photography and cinematography.

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This makes the Mara to one of the finest wildlife destinations where you almost have the guarantee to see the big five but also cheetah, hyena, jackal, hippo, crocodile and for sure vulture whenever there was a kill.

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Vultures are one of the easiest and safest ways to find kills with sometimes even some lions around still eating, as the birds are waiting in the trees till the lions or other predators have finished their meal and leave the rest of the kill for them.

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If you are lucky you can even see some rhinos that are slowly coming back to this part of Africa.

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There are many lodges and camps to be found and you have a rich choice from very luxurious places to ones where you stay as close as possible to the animals and the nature, the tented camps, that do actually not lack too much luxury as well. We were staying in the Sand River Camp as well as the Elephant Pepper Camp and I can recommend both as being extremely friendly, authentic and as close to nature as possible, while offering all you need to feel perfect and rest between the numerous game drives.

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There is nothing like the Mara morning sky before sunrise, these are colours that cannot be described, you have to see and feel them yourself.

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This scenery evolves during the early morning hours, when you can find all kind of animals out on the grasslands like these zebras that enjoyed the green and did not seem to be scared about predators.

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But this can fool you as predators are always around, like this young male lion we found nearby sleeping in the morning sun. This male was approximately 4 to 5 years old and you can see this by the colour of the nose that is still pink but starts already getting black around the corners.

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He will be grown up with 5 to 6 years, but he is already a perfect killing machine at this age. He was roaring during the previous night in our camp close to our tent and I can tell you this sound goes through and through – you will never forget that!

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But now he sometimes is still playful at least if he is no longer hungry as he showed when welcoming his brother a few minutes later.

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You want to have adventures like this in magnificent landscape and stunning places? You want to photograph all this or take videos and want to get guidance for how to do this best and in an optimal way? Well then join me on one of the many safaris organized by Roho Ya Chui and you will have the adventure of your lifetime that you will never forget!

Peter Tomsu for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

 

 

Peter’s African Safari Travel Diary

Some who have read my previous travel diary blog posts may ask why this continues with the 7th day of our adventure trip to Tanzania and Kenia and one day is missing. Well easy answer I unfortunately got sick on day 6 and was pretty much out of order and definitely not up to photograph, but the good news is that on our 7th day I had already recovered and so this post is from our last, but also one of the most beautiful days.

We meanwhile had arrived at the Sand River Mara camp that takes its name from the Sand River Masai Mara. This camp replicates very nicely the heydays of exclusive permanent tented camps that were so popular in the 1920s.

On our morning game drive we immediately found a group of vultures, that is always a sign of some kill around and then very likely to still see some lions there. This time we were not so lucky, as the lions were already gone, but this could not minimize our enthusiasm to find some great sights.

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Soon we were lucky to see a rhino that was grazing in the morning sun and started to move away as it recognized our approach. Nevertheless we got some stunning shots.

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On that same location we found a group of zebras peacefully taking their breakfast from the juicy greens of the Masai Mara.

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But then we were lucky as our guide spotted a young male lion resting in the upcoming sun and obviously cleaning his claws from his last kill. We had heard this lion roaring close at the camp last night and this sound will be unforgettable to me as it was pretty intense, just like he would stand besides me.

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Our guide gave us some brief update on how to read the age of lions and this one he estimated to be around 4 years as he still had a pink nose but already starting to get black. Male lions are fully grown up with 5 to 6 years and then they in most cases start looking for their own territory. But this one was still playful and after a while he started walking in order to find his brother that was away only a few hundred meters.  The two immediately started rubbing their heads together, that means a very warm welcome.

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These are just touching scenes, especially if you are lucky to be as close as we were. The lions were completely quiet and did feel save in our presence. Driving on we found another group of vultures around a left over kill from last night.

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A herd of wildebeest was crossing our road and this was already kind of a little migration. What I learned that there is not just one migration, but migration is an on-going thing as the animals try to follow the greens and water all the year in the Serengeti and the Masai Mara (the northern part of the Serengeti).

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We headed to our last camp later this afternoon, the Elephant Pepper Camp located in the Mara North Conservancy. The speciality about this camp is that it is designed in a way that it can be completely removed to leave a virgin site once this is desired. We had a very restful night and next morning was our day of departure via Nairobi that is a 50min flight away from this camp.

A last sunrise, well I think you can tell I love to photograph sunrises and the light is always very special in Africa!

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And a farewell photo of our small group Peter, Ute and Joel from left to right. We have had a stunning and beautiful week and were all looking forward to another experience like this as soon as possible.

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If you would like more information on planning your African safari vacation, visit our safari tours page or contact a representative with Roho Ya Chui today.

Peter Tomsu for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Seven Natural Wonders of Africa: Mount Kilimanjaro

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Mount Kilimanjaro, also known as The Mountain of Greatness or The Mountain of Light, is the mighty overseer of the continent. The snowy peak serves as the summit of Africa, standing tall at 19,336 feet, or around 5,895 metres. Not only is this the tallest mountain in Africa, but it is also the largest freestanding mountain in the entire world. Beholding the mighty Kilimanjaro is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many tourists who come to Africa to complete a safari vacation. Mount Kilimanjaro is rightfully one of the seven wonders of Africa.

If you are planning an African safari vacation, be sure to research Africa’s incredible seven wonders. Mount Kilimanjaro is a wonderful highlight of any visit to Africa. If you would like more information on planning your trip, a representative with Roho Ya Chui would be happy to help. Here is some additional information on Mount Kilimanjaro.

A Tour of Ecosystems

A trek through Mount Kilimanjaro brings tourists through a tour of African climate systems. There is lush forest landscapes which house amazing animals such as elephants and leopards, all the way to arctic climates as the peak reaches through the clouds and is covered by a year around snowy cap. Lying between the two is the moorland zone, which is an enchanted layer of thick moss and twisted trees. These regions are home to many endangered species of plants and animals that can only be found in Africa. Because the ecosystems are so diverse, this gives travelers the chance to see many different representations of Africa all on a single hike.

Activities on Kilimanjaro

Nearly everyone who comes to visit Mount Kilimanjaro wants to see or climb the mountain, but there is more to do than hike to the summit. If you would like to climb the mountain, there are multiple trails of varying degrees of difficulty to take on. Most visitors can get to the summit with just a walking stick and the proper attire, though their are difficult trails for adventurous mountaineers.

As previously noted, the regions on and around Mount Kilimanjaro make it a perfect location for wildlife and bird watching. This is a thriving environment that has a wide range of Africa’s animals represented — including many of the most iconic and rare.

Visiting Lake Chala is another activity that you can do when you take a trip to Mount Kilimanjaro. This lake has formed in the massive volcanic crater that is on the side of the mountain. The waters, spanning 1.6 acres, are stunning shades of blue and green. Images captured at this location are some of the mountain’s most famous. There is a safari camp located in the area which serves as a resting place and rendezvous for safari goers.

Plan Your African Safari Vacation

Are you ready to plan your dream African safari vacation that includes a trip to Mount Kilimanjaro? For more information, visit our safari tours page or contact a representative with Roho Ya Chui today.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Seven Natural Wonders of Africa: Serengeti Migration

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Each year, the eyes of the world turn to Africa to witness an incredible occurrence take place. Over one million native wildebeest, antelope and zebras begin a long, clockwise trek across multiple countries. They face grave dangers, harsh conditions and hunters─both animal and human─yet still find the time to give birth to the next generation, find a new mate and conceive again along the route. This amazing journey is known as the Serengeti Migration. Many people travel from all over the world to take on an African safari vacation and witness this migration. If you are a traveler that would like to see these animals along their route, keep in mind, timing is everything. Here is an overview of the great Serengeti Migration.

January

The year begins with the birth of many new youngsters. These calves are born ready to make the migration, though many will die along the way. The herd begins in Tanzania and start their journey south, traveling to the lower Serengeti.

March

By the spring, all of the good grasslands of the lower Serengeti have been devoured, and the last new calves have been dropped. The herd prepares to continue their journey.

April

The massive wildebeest herd has now left the lower Serengeti and is making their presence known in the central and western regions of the land. They will continue north from here.

May

The herd is officially in motion, and huge groups stretch up to 40km as they continue to travel north. If you are planning to visit the wildebeest during their journey, it is important to remember that their natural predators also have an important role in play. These wildebeest provide a vital source of food for many of the other iconic animals of Africa. By June, the herd is visibly agitated as trouble becomes more and more apparent.

July

As summer arrives, the wildebeest reach one of their greatest obstacles. The far western Serengeti and the popular Grumeti reserve are marked by teeming brown waters of rushing rivers. It is not just the water that makes the wildebeest anxious, but the giant crocodiles that call them home.

August

Those who survive the rivers make their way to the northern Serengeti and yet another reserve, the Masai Mara. They begin to split into smaller herds as fall approaches. This is a great area and time to come see the migration.

November

As winter approaches, the grasses of the Northernmost parts of the Serengeti have been completely depleted by what remains of the massive wildebeest herd. As the winter rains begin to arrive, the herd starts its way back south. By this time, their original spots on the Serengeti have been replenished.

December

Back at square one, the wildebeest begin the cycle of calving, moving and surviving yet again. This is a true representation of “the circle of life.” These animals have traveled across the plains for hundreds of generations, and will hopefully continue to do so well into the future.

If you would like to book your African safari vacation, visit our safari page or contact a representative with Rohoyachui today.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Fruits and Foods Native to Africa

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When most people picture Africa in their minds, they see grassy plains, desert landscapes and fierce animals. Far from a place where fruit and other foods grow in abundance—but, Africa is a surprising land of plenty in many, many ways. Much of African culture revolves around the delicious food that is produced by the diverse peoples that make up the continent. South Africa, in particular, is abundant in plant food sources. This is most evident when tourists taste the world class cuisine that chefs put together using local sources. Once you experience an African safari vacation, you will never think of this place in the same way again. Here are some of the native fruits and foods native to Africa.

  1. Amaranth

The lowlands of Africa are associated with the stunning gorillas that many tourists travel around the world to see. The countries that comprise this area are hot, humid and full of thriving plant life. This plant diversity includes the edible greenery, Amaranth. Amaranth thrives and grows quickly in the humid environment and is used by the locals, as well as others around the world, for a variety of uses. As an excellent source of protein, essential minerals, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and other vitamins, this plant plays an important role in the diets of people who call the African lowlands home.

  1. Cowpea

Thousands of years ago, the hearty people who called Africa home grew a major crop that is still a staple in the land today. Cowpea is a legume that could not be more perfect for life on the diverse continent. Not only is it efficient in drought, but it can also be grown successfully in poor soil conditions.

  1. The Spider Plant

The Spider Plant is to Africa what lettuce and other leafy greens are to many areas of the world. This plant is grown throughout the continent and plays a significant role in the diet of the people who live here.

  1. African Eggplant

Like many other plants that are grown in Africa, the African Eggplant can thrive in poor soil and drought conditions. It is also very easy to store and is long lasting. Most importantly, second to being a very nutritious vegetable, this plant is the fiscal lifeline for many African families. While tourism plays a giant role in the economies of many African nations, agriculture is also a driving force. This plant, in particular, is a multi-beneficial staple in many areas.

Book Your African Safari Vacation

Are you ready to try some of these native fruits and vegetables for yourself? You can get your questions answered and begin booking your African safari vacation by visiting our safari page or contacting a representative with Rohoyachui today.

Jill LIphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Visiting the different regions of Africa

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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

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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