6 Facts about Lake Malawi Will Make You Go Get Your Snorkel Gear

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Lake Malawi is an incredibly gorgeous place unlike anywhere else on Earth. The stunning lake is home to hundreds of cichlid species, picturesque still waters and a community of friendly locals eager to warmly greet new visitors.

Explaining all that makes Lake Malawi unique and worth visiting on a Malawi safari tour could take a lifetime, so here is a smattering of the six most interesting facts about the lake to encourage to come visit and explore.

1. It’s One of the Biggest Lakes in the World

Lake Malawi is officially the ninth-biggest lake in the world and the third-biggest lake in Africa. At 11,400 square feet of surface, Lake Malawi is large enough to fit the state of Massachusetts within its shores!

The lake can also plunge surprisingly deep, with its deepest point reaching 2,316 feet, or nearly a half mile.

2.  It Has the Highest Number of Fish Species of Any Lake in the World, Including Over 700 Cichlids

Lake Malawi’s biggest celebrities are the colorful cichlid fish that teem near its shores. Biologists estimate that there could be over 700 different cichlid species, and we have only begun to scratch the surface of recording and categorizing all of them.

There are also many other interesting species, including the spotted Mochokidae catfish and the neon-tinged African tetra.

3. It Was Formed Around 2 Million Years Ago From a Rift in the Earth

Lake Malawi sits on the bottom of a massive geological formation known as the East African Rift. This rift was formed when tectonic plate underneath the African continent shifted, changing the flow of rivers and causing many bodies of water to form, including Lake Victoria and the tributaries of the Nile.

4. Its Waters Stay in Stratified Layers That Never Mix

Most lakes have warm and cool waters that churn over the course of the seasons, mixing up oxygen and sediments while causing dynamic changes throughout the year. Instead, Lake Malawi forms layers of water that never change, making it what geologists call a “meromictic lake.”

These distinct and unchanging water layers make Lake Malawi incredibly clear and blue, and they may have also helped drive speciation within the diverse cichlid populations.

5. Explorer Dr. Livingstone Called It the “Lake of Stars”

Lake Malawi was first discovered by Europeans in 1846 when Portuguese traders stumbled upon it. The famous explorer David Livingstone later charted the Lake’s shores and gave it the nickname of “the Lake of Stars” because of the lanterns upon fishing canoes that twinkled like stars in the night.

The Lake of Stars is now the name of a popular music festival occurring on the shores of Lake Malawi.

6. It Was the Site of the First Naval “Battle” of World War I

Legend has it that a British gunboat patrolling Lake Malawi, the SS Gwendolen, scored the U.K.’s first naval victory of World War I when it captured the German vessel Hermann von Wissmann. In truth, the Gwendolen’s Captain Rhoades made no attempt to sink the Wissman and instead snuck up on the vessel and fired one warning shot.

The crews of both ships were drinking buddies who would frequently partake in parties involving copious amounts of Malawi’s famous local gin. Allegedly, the captain of the Wissmann responded to the warning shot by shouting: “God d***, Rhoades, are you drunk?”

While the Wissmann was never scuttled, scuba divers can still find many shipwrecks within the deep, clear waters of Lake Malawi where cichlids and other fish claim new homes.

Come Explore Lake Malawi on a Malawi Safari Tour!

Boating, canoeing, water-skiing, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving or just relaxing on the beach with a locally made gin and tonic can all be possible when you visit Lake Malawi as part of your African safari tour package. The lake is also home to African fish eagles, crocodiles, elephants, hippopotamus, monkeys and many other captivating species.

Come see everything the incredible lake and the national park on its southern shores can offer when you book your safari adventure today!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

image: Chintheche Inn

Essential for Planning a Successful Tour

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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

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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

How to Handle a Close Animal Encounter

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If you ask most tourists why they decided to go on an African safari vacation, the first explanation is normally pretty simple—the unique animals. There is no place in the world where you can see lions, leopards, rhinos, zebras, giraffes, elephants and many more diverse creatures outside of tiny zoo enclosures.

Traveling to Africa gives you the opportunity to admire these wild animals in their native habitats, behaving just as nature intended. It can be both exciting and scary to see these animals up close and personal. It is important to prepare yourself by learning the do’s and don’ts of ethical animal encounters while on safari. Expect to see large, intimidating animals, expect to be amazed and follow these tips for handling yourself properly in the event of a close animal encounter in Africa.

When Snakes Slither Too Close

There are a lot of snakes in Africa, and you will more than likely stumble upon at least one while on your Safari vacation. While there are several poisonous species, most encounters with these creatures that end in a bad way almost certainly involve someone acting improperly around the snake. Unless you are a true snake expert, treat all snakes as if they were venomous, do not try to handle the snake and slowly walk away.

Getting Personal with Elephants

Elephants are fairly easy going, but they do have their moments and can be very dangerous. Mother and bull elephants are particularly temperamental, and will not hesitate to injure a human. You can avoid being hurt by an elephant by staying in your vehicle throughout the duration of your safari trip.

Meeting the King of the Jungle

A lot of people travel to Africa specifically to see a lion up close and personal. For obvious reasons, lions are very dangerous and can easily harm a person. If you happen to find yourself too close to a lion and in a vulnerable position, make as much noise as you can and flap your arms like you are just as wild as they are.

The Rare Rhino

You will be lucky to get to see a rhino in the wild, but there are still a few that call Africa home. If you happen to come across one and you are outside of a vehicle, remain well aware of your surroundings and always have a tree to use as an escape.

The Temperamental Hippo

Hippos are responsible for more human deaths in Africa each year than all of the big cats combined. They are incredibly dangerous, and you should always keep your distance while admiring them. Never stand between them and their water source. If you do find yourself facing a hippo, do not panic. Remain still, standing your ground, as a hippo can easily outrun any human.

Planning Your African Safari Vacation

Those who come to Africa to see the incredible animals do not leave disappointed. If you are interested in planning your African safari vacation, visit our safari tours page or contact a representative with Roho Ya Chui today.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Wild Animals that are Native to Cape Town

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Cape Town is one of South Africa’s largest cities and a very popular tourist destination for people throughout the world. The area is a hotspot for dream vacations and represents the best that Africa has to offer. This coastal city is well known for getting adventure seekers up close and personal with creatures like the inspiring southern right and humpback whales. Another popular encounter includes the mystifying Great White Shark—for those who dare. While Cape Town is not the best location to see the Big Five of Africa’s most famous animals up close and personal, you do not have to travel far from the city to get your safari vacation fix. Cape Town is the best of all worlds—urban luxury, timeless culture and stunning wildlife. Here are some of the wild animals that are native to Cape Town.

The African Penguin

When most people picture penguins in their mind, they visualize the aquatic birds surrounded by snow and ice. The African Penguin is a species that is well adapted to the warm climate of coastal South Africa. Many of these birds call the islands and beaches that surround Cape Town Home. They are short, standing just two feet tall on average, and colored beautifully in a black and white pattern. African penguins are graceful swimmers who dive to catch their food. If you are visiting the area, be sure to check them out.

The Cape Fur Seal

The Cape fur seal is an adorable creature that is native to Cape Town and the surrounding beaches. They thrive in the waters and also attract one of the area’s most popular sea animals, the Great White Shark. Plan to see these native animals on your trip to South Africa.

The Cape Gannet

Bird watching is another popular attraction that brings people to Cape Town. While the area is home to numerous species, the Cape Gannet is one that is truly treasured. This is just one of six locations in the entire world where the Cape Gannet breeds.

The Big 5

Most people plan an African safari vacation to see the iconic animals in their natural habitat. Though Cape Town is a populous area and you will not see these creatures roaming the streets, you can easily visit a reserve not too far away to have your personal encounter. The Big 5 include the lion, leopard, elephant rhinoceros and buffalo. Most who travel to Africa hope to get a good look at each one.

Plan Your Cape Town Visit

Cape Town is the perfect honeymoon destination, annual vacation, once in a lifetime trip or surprise adventure getaway. You will have the option of luxury accommodations, as well as experiencing traditional Africa. The history of this area is as rich as the thriving ocean waters and habitats that surround it. Most importantly, traveling on an African safari from Cape Town and seeing many of the iconic animals from the area can be the highlight of your visit. Land and sea meet in this perfect city. If you would like more information on planning your visit to Cape Town, visit our African safari tours page or contact a representative with Roho Ya Chui today.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Choosing the right Safari Adventure for You

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You want to go on an African safari adventure, but there are so many to choose from. Of course, you would like to see as many of the iconic and amazing creatures of the land that you can, as well as the beautiful, diverse landscape. There are also many other aspects of South Africa and the surrounding areas that some tourists do not consider or even know exist. For instance, did you know that there are luxury camping options available to guests? You will also be able to taste some of Africa’s most amazing flavors and dishes. Of course, your trip itinerary and experiences are dependent on the safari adventure that you choose. Here are some tips to help you to pick the right one.

Your African Safari Goals

It is important to realize that you will not be able to see all of Africa’s most beloved animals in a single location. Some animals are exclusive to certain areas—the Mountain Gorilla, for example, is critically endangered and can only be seen in four national parks. Be sure to list the animals that you would like to see most, and choose to visit an area where you will most likely be able to see them. Of course, if the main event for you would be to see Victoria Falls up close and personal, you would want to plan your trip around that.

Your Safari Style

There are many ways to experience Africa. You could rough it along the way and stay in popular camps while making life-long friends with other members of your group, or you could partake in a more luxurious adventure. Consider your limits when planning—you do not want to go on an adventure that you do not enjoy.

Location, Location, Location

Africa has many amazing national parks that attract tourists from around the world, but no two are the same. Thanks to the extremely diverse landscape, you will have the opportunity to visit different worlds within a single continent. Research the parks that you find most attractive, and be sure that they include everything that you want to get out of your safari vacation.

Mode of Transportation

Of course, if one area does not quite cut it as far as fulfilling your safari dreams, you should travel to another to make up the slack. Many people argue that the best way to see Africa is in the air, though that is not an option for everyone. You can also travel on a guided vehicle tour, self-driven vehicle or even on the back of a horse. How would you like to see Africa?

Plan Your African Safari Vacation

We can help you to plan your perfect African Safari vacation. Seeing everything that Africa has to offer is a dream for many people, and it can become reality when you choose the right adventure package. If you would like more information, visit our safari tours page or contact a representative with Rohoyachui today.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa