Game Drive Tips for Your African Safari Trip

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Those looking for ways to make the most of their African safari trip should consider going on a few game drives, one of the best activities for maximizing your time.

If you want to get the best photos during your game drives and increase your chances of seeing Africa’s most famous animals, you can follow these tips that can ensure you have a good time while respecting wildlife and respecting others.

Follow the Most Important Rules: Stay Inside the Vehicle, Keep Quiet and Don’t Feed the Animals

Game drives disrupt the typical experience of wildlife in the bush, but guides and safari tour companies do their best to compromise with nature. By sticking mostly to set paths, taking steps to not stress the animals and keeping interactions to snapping photos, the natural experience can be preserved as much as possible. Most animals even get used to the site and sound of 4x4s.

Uphold your end of the bargain by staying quiet during drives. Do not call out to animals to get their attention, and try to talk softly the entire drive. Definitely do not feed animals, since this can get them sick and encourage them to associate humans with food — not a good connection!

Also, most importantly, keep within the confines of the vehicle at all times. Leaning out or, heaven forbid, exiting the vehicle can stress animals and place you in a very dangerous situation.

Dress in Layers, Wear Sunscreen and Bring Repellant

Game drives can be chilly in the morning and hot in the afternoon sun. Dress in layers so that you can prepare for these temperature changes. Also, wear a brimmed hat and cover yourself in sunscreen to prevent getting burned.

Biting insects are common in many parks, especially during open air drives, so bring along plenty of repellant to reapply during your drive.

Take Along a Guidebook

During your drive, you will probably see a ton of animals you do not recognize but that look interesting. Take along an informative guidebook with photo identification of bush animals so you can know as much as possible about the world around you.

For younger safari-goers, you can print off a checklist of animals so that they can stay engaged and focus on seeing the most interesting species.

Bring Binoculars

Binoculars help you spot far away animals and set up your photos more quickly. Being forced to share binoculars can mean watching a speck by a drinking pool while everyone else sees a lion, so bring a pair for each person to ensure no one misses out.

Wait for the Vehicle to Stop Before Taking Close-Up Photos

The powerful engines in 4x4s tend to vibrate, which leads to blurry pictures if you have your lens zoomed in. Feel free to snap wide angle shots as you drive, but for the best photos wait until the engine is cut off.

Look for More Than Just the Big Five

Everyone wants to see lions, elephants and other famous “big five” animals on their trip, but you should recognize that there are plenty of beautiful species on the African continent, both big and small. Use a guidebook to help you spot birds, tell the difference between antelope-like species and appreciate sights others might miss.

Talk With Your Ranger

Your ranger has gone on hundreds of drives and has likely spent much of their life living in the bush. Feel free to ask them questions or to get them to describe their experiences, especially if you want to know more about a specific animal.

Let Nature and Your Spotter Be Your Eyes

With the tallest necks in the bush, giraffes tend to be amazing lookouts, helping you identify big cats crouched in the grass where you cannot see. Other animals like antelope tend to focus sharply when they see possible dangers. Your spotter guide will also help keep everyone focused either by staring at their target, quietly pointing or informing your ranger.

Tip Your Guides!

Game drive guides earn some wages, but they get much of their income from tips. They also tend to get motivated to do more for groups that tip generously, so if you are particularly keen on seeing something elusive like a leopard, then be a little more giving.

Tip amounts are at your discretion, but R30 to R50 or $8 a person is considered fair. No matter how much you give, be sure to thank your guide since they are providing you a service few others are capable of rendering!

Go on Several Drives to Get a Diverse Experience During Your African Safari Trip

Morning drives are usually the most productive times of day, but afternoon and nighttime drives offer differing experiences. Regardless of when you go, recognize that each drive is a dice roll in that you never know what you will see — or if you will see anything. If you have a disappointing drive one day, do not think that means you will not see more than the average group on your next drive.

You can ensure that you go on as many different drives as possible while enjoying other amazing activities like bush walks and boat rides when you book an African safari tour package and start planning your trip today!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

 

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