Picking the Right Camera for Safari

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Because of the ubiquity of smartphones, virtually everyone is able to take a picture whenever the mood strikes. However, while the camera on your phone is probably good enough for your everyday photography needs, taking pictures on a safari is much different.

On safari, you will see sights that you can’t find anywhere else in the world, and if you want to remember your trip, it’s important that you always have a high-quality camera at the ready. If you’re interested in buying a camera for your safari, there are several factors to consider that will help you pick the device that meets your needs. Here are some tips for purchasing a camera for safari that will let you pick an option that will help you capture the best pictures possible.

Start with Price

When you’re investing in a piece of equipment such as a camera, there are several factors to consider. However, if you’re like the majority of travelers, your biggest concern is probably cost. The great thing about purchasing a camera for safari is that you can easily find a camera that meets your budget as long as you do your research and shop around.

Although you don’t want to spend too much money, you should also make sure that you’re getting a quality option. Look for a mid range camera that will allow you to take excellent pictures without ballooning your travel budget.

Easy to Carry

The main benefit of using your phone to take pictures is that these devices are meant to be ultra-portable, meaning you don’t need to think about how much space they’ll take up in your travel luggage. You should keep this same issue in mind when you’re picking a camera to take with you on your safari.

Packing light is of the utmost importance when going on safari, which means you want to make sure that your camera is portable and doesn’t require excess equipment. For instance, some high-end cameras may require a tripod to be used effectively, which can make it harder for you to pack. When you’re shopping for your camera, try to look for a lightweight option that won’t require you to bring along a large number of accessories.

Ease of Use

When you’re taking photographs on safari, almost nothing is more frustrating than missing the perfect shot because you’re fiddling with the settings of your camera. The ideal camera will allow you to take a high-quality photo at a moment’s notice, which is why you need to think about ease of use when buying your camera.

Although some people prefer to invest in a camera that includes a variety of settings, the much better idea for most is to pick a point in click camera that can be used whenever needed. With an easy to use camera, you’ll never have to worry about missing an animal, sunset, or anything else that you wish to photograph on your trip.

After you’ve done your research, purchasing a camera for safari should be quick and easy. Once you’ve invested in your camera, you should be sure to book a safari that will allow you to photograph some of the world’s most interesting sights.

 

Hippo Facts to Know Before an African Safari

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Seeing exotic animals in the wild is one of the best reasons to make your next vacation an African safari. While there are a variety of species that you may encounter while traveling through Africa, one of the most interesting is the hippopotamus.

Most people have seen these animals at some point in their life, whether at a zoo or on television. However, encountering a hippo in the wild is a much different experience than viewing these creatures behind glass, making it a smart idea to learn a little more about hippos before your trip. Here are a few interesting hippo facts that you should keep in mind if you plan to see these animals on your African safari.

Hippos Can Be Dangerous

If you’ve ever seen a hippo in a zoo, then you’ve likely only seen these animals floating lazily in the water, possibly leading you to believe that they are gentle creatures. While hippos would prefer not to interact with people, they can be extremely dangerous animals, particularly if they feel threatened.

Hippos are very large and powerful and have been known to attack without unprovoked. What makes hippos more dangerous than other creatures is that that can attack in both the land and the water, meaning you need to be careful if you find yourself near these creatures.

Hippos Are Fast

There are several surprising hippo facts that you should know before leaving on your African safari, but perhaps the most surprising is these large animals can move quickly. Because of their appearance, many travelers assume that hippos are slow, but this is simply not the case.

On land, hippos have been seen running at speeds close to twenty miles per hour, and it’s not unusual for hippos to travel multiple miles a day when searching for food. So, if you find yourself a good distance from a hippo, be prepared, as they may be able to make up the ground much quicker than you might imagine.

Hippos and Water

Hippos and water go hand in hand, making it a good idea to learn about some of the aquatic facts related to these African animals.

First, hippos, while they do venture on land from time to time, will spend the majority of the day in the water. Two-thirds of a hippo’s day—sixteen hours—is spent in the water, and this includes sleeping. While they are sleeping, the will automatically surface for air every five minutes or so and won’t wake up when doing so. Because hippos are pensive to sunlight, they must frequently return to the water to protect their skin.

Second, hippos are actually closely related to whales instead of other land mammals. Studies have shown that whales and hippos once shared a common ancestor, which is likely the reason that hippos are so drawn to water. At one time, it was thought that hippos were related to pigs, but DNA evidence corrected this misconception.

After learning these interesting hippo facts, you’re probably ready to see these animals in their natural habitat, which means you need to start booking your next African safari today.

Why You Should Go on a Safari in Winter

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Contrary to what you might think, winter is one of the best times of the year to go on vacation. By taking a trip during the cooler months, you can break up the dreary winter season with a fun and exciting getaway, particularly if you make your next trip a winter safari.

Going on a safari is an exciting experience, regardless of the time of the year, but it is particularly memorable when your safari is also a winter vacation. Find out why a winter safari is your best choice for a vacation, and learn how you can easily plan your trip with help from a trusted company.

Cooler Temperatures

Although summer can be a great time to go on a safari, you will also have to deal with extremely high temperatures that can become dangerous if you’re not adequately prepared. For instance, summer temperatures in Africa are typically between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit, if not higher.

Conversely, when you visit Africa in winter, you will experience much more comfortable temperatures, typically in the mid- to high-70s. With these temperatures, you can stay out in nature much longer and will have a more enjoyable experience. However, you should be sure to pack warm clothing, as the nighttime temperatures can get downright chilly.

Stay Dry

Many people plan safaris during the summer months to see as many exotic animals as possible. While this makes sense, popular tourist regions of Africa, such as Kruger, experience their rainy season during the summer. This means your safari adventures have a high probability of being washed out if you visit during the summer.

By booking your safari for the winter season, you will be able to avoid the wettest months of the year. Additionally, if you time your vacation correctly, you should still be able to see the breathtaking animal life for which Africa is known. Staying dry and having a great time is much easier when you go on a safari during the winter months.

Increased Safety

There are several hazards that you need to avoid on your African safari, including serious diseases like malaria. During the summer months in Africa, the mosquito population explodes, bringing an increased risk of malaria and other diseases transmitted by these insects.

Once the weather turns drier and cooler in certain regions of Africa, the number of mosquitoes drops substantially, meaning your trip will be much more enjoyable and with a lower risk of contracting malaria. If you want to make sure that your African safari is as safe as possible, consider booking a trip during the winter.

Beat the Crowds

One of the most frustrating aspects of vacationing in a popular destination is having to fight the crowds. A great reason to plan your African safari during winter is that the peak travel season will be over, meaning you’ll be able to enjoy the scenery and wildlife without having to navigate around large groups of tourists. Traveling during the winter season means having a much more relaxed vacation because you won’t have to deal with other vacationers.

Book your African safari during the winter if you want a cold weather getaway packed with thrills.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

Saving the Magnificent African Elephant

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Once upon a time, elephants ruled the continent of Africa. Their historical habitat range literally stretched all the way from the Cape of Good Hope to Tangier. An estimated 27 million individuals lived in family groups throughout most of Africa, foraging in both the bush and forest.

Now, fewer than 300,000 remain. Like a cloth burnt down to mere scraps, African elephants’ habitat range now clings to sparse protected areas dotting the continent. The most aggressive estimates project that the African elephant could be extinct by as early as 2020 unless something is done to save them.

You can do your part by seeing these gorgeous, almost-magical animals in person and bringing back inspiring tales and photos to others. When your African elephant safari is booked through companies that support conservancies, your trip provides the funds needed to combat poaching. Book a safari now to promote the cause for keeping these wonderful beasts alive so that yet another generation can say “I have seen an elephant.”

The Resurgence of Poaching

In 1989, the conservation community breathed a collective sigh of relief. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) passed a global ban on the sale and trade of ivory. Before the ban was passed, over 50 percent of the African elephant population had been slaughtered.

Afterwards, the elephant populations slowly began to bounce back. Poaching plummeted as trade restrictions and anti-poaching efforts made their mark.

But the resurgence could not last forever. Black market ivory supplies dwindled across the globe, effectively raising the price of ivory dramatically as demand from plutocrats — who cared little for laws and even less for elephants’ well-being — held strong. Poachers could now invest in their operations and still turn a profit, especially when backed by international criminal organizations that also controlled illegal trade. Conservationists and rangers suddenly began to face a foe better equipped than they were, and elephants were dying once more.

Between 2007 and 2014, 30 percent of the savannah elephant population was brought down by poachers. An estimated 100,000 elephants were killed from 2010 to 2012. Things have gotten so bad that rangers find themselves not only outwitted but outgunned. Well-funded poaching operations have begun to use the same technologies empowering special-ops military groups: drones, infrared sensors, tracking devices and even booby traps.

Elephant populations are falling once more — around 8 percent every year. Governments and people must step up their efforts to push back against this resurgence and fight with every breath to ensure that elephants can continue to survive on our planet.

Help Support Conservation With an African Elephant Safari

With things more desperate than ever, every penny counts when it comes to saving Africa’s elephants. People can support conservation and anti-poaching groups by choosing African safari tour operators that donate money and labor. Your journey to meet these animals in person in their own habitat could very well save a few of their lives in the process.

So, please, come to Africa and deliberately seek out tour groups that can make a genuine difference. You can take a look at your options for African safari tour companies that help save the elephants and book your journey today.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

The Adorable African Civet

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One of Africa’s cutest yet least understood animals are the African civets. That unfamiliarity is likely because these solitary, nocturnal creatures are difficult to spot. They spend most of the day sleeping in dense vegetation, venturing at night to snack on whatever prey they can find.

Despite their elusiveness, they are spread throughout most of central Africa. Their habitat ranges throughout the entire middle of the continent to the sub-Saharan region and all the way to the northern tip of South Africa.

Catching a glimpse of one of these common yet crafty critters on an African safari tour is difficult, but with a keen eye and some patience, you may be able to get a gander at one on its nighttime prowl.

African Civet Appearance and Behavior

At a glance, the African civet looks like a cross between a huge tortoiseshell cat and a raccoon. They have long, lithe bodies and a cat-like tail. Their front quarters look decidedly less like a cat as a result of the slouching shoulders and tiny dog-like head. Dark circles cover the eyes, and small but slightly pointed ears afford them excellent hearing.

Black markings may appear to make the civet stand out, but as they hunt through the underbrush at night, these quiet creatures are incredibly hard to spot. They are also shy, fleeing most potential confrontations quickly as a defense mechanism. Non-retractable claws give it amazing climbing abilities, and civets will spend much of their life foraging or sleeping in trees. Civets have 40 sharp teeth they use to quickly catch and bite into prey. They live around 15 years in the wild but can live over 20 years in captivity.

An Acquired Taste?

Because civets are quite hard to locate in the wild, biologists actually know little about their behavior compared to most other animals. What is known is that while civets are not usually physically aggressive, they are fiercely territorial. They have large scent glands that they use to spray and mark their territory.

This pungent musk actually caused the civet to be highly sought after by perfumers . They would hunt civets and capture them to regularly milk them for their scent glands. The scent was used as a fixative and base ingredient for many fine perfumes, but synthetic versions that can imitate the properties of civet musk have replaced the practice of milking civets.

When milked, a male civet only produces around three to four grams of pure musk a week, causing the substance to command extremely high prices on the global market — up to $500 for a kilogram.

Where to See Civets on an African Safari Tour

Civets have a wide habitat range and are most often found in non-arid locations near permanent bodies of water. You can most easily find them along river systems and lakes.

See if you can spot a civet during your African safari when you book one of our multi-country African vacation packages today.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

image by Kruger Park

 

Marvel at the Beautiful Man Pools National Park

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Mana Pools Park sits on the south bank of the Zambezi River within the northernmost section of Zimbabwe. In the rainy season, the Lower Zambezi Valley floods, opening up a colorful and rich ecosystem as vegetation flourishes and small insects, fish and other creatures’ populations explode. Birds, foragers and top-level predators grow fat on this fodder, enabling them to give birth to their next generation of kin.

When the rainy season ends, these flood pools gradually dry up. Water sources begin to become more and more concentrated, making animals have to travel further and gather in large groups to find something to drink.

During this time, from April to November, a Mana Pools safari can deliver some of the best wildlife viewing in the world. Elephants, wild dogs, lions, zebra, impala and dozens of other majestic species can be spotted bending into the last remnants of water for a drink. Walking safaris can help you get up close and personal with this wildlife as you sit and observe some of the most interesting scenes imaginable.

Why a Mana Pools Safari Is So Unique

Over the course of thousands of years, the mighty Zambezi River has shifted course. As it did, it left behind several oxbow bends cut off from the new main flow. These bends became oxbow lakes. The four biggest ones persist all year round, leading the park to be named “Mana” pools. “Mana” means “four” in the Shona language spoken by many Zimbabwean natives.

Every rainy season, the oxbow lakes and the whole region of Mana Pools Park floods, creating sweeping marshlands and thousands of tiny pools for birds, fish and other wildlife to gather. As the rainy season wanes, these pools dry up. The area’s animals are then left with just the four main lakes to drink from, leading to some pretty remarkable sights.

Nature in Its Purest Form

Another interesting aspect about Mana Pools is how undeveloped it is. The rainy season tends to make short work of roads and trails, meaning that much of the park is inaccessible throughout the year by vehicle. Even walking into the park is extremely difficult at the height of rainy season, when mud can often swallow you up to your hips.

In the dry season, vehicles are still a rare sight. Voyaging into the interior of Mana Pools is often done on foot. Canoeing safaris are also possible along the Zambezi. These walking and canoeing safaris allow visitors an intimate look at wildlife.

Hippos bathe in the water and mud while elephants gather water in their long trunks. You can also find elephants, gazelle, impala and other animals standing on their hind legs trying to reach the last remnants of leaves upon the mahogany and ebony trees to the north.

All of these incredible sights make Mana Pools a uniquely stunning way to observe the wildlife of southern Africa.

Book a Zimbabwe Safari to Visit Mana Pools Today

You can find safaris to Mana Pools Park in many of our most popular Zimbabwe safari tour packages. Take a look at our sample itineraries, and then book your trip today!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

 

Enjoy Canoeing Safari for a Change of Pace

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As you slide down the Okavango Delta, an egret dabs its beak into the shallow waters by the shore. It pays your canoe no mind as you slip past, your paddles gently splashing in the water. Ahead, the guide boat spots a hippo. You correct course. The hippo stares at you as you give it a respectfully wide berth. It snorts and blows some bubbles in reply.

Game drive safaris in an offroad vehicle are one of the most popular ways to experience wildlife during a trip to Africa, but canoeing safaris are a completely different breed. You can put yourself up close next to nature and feel truly a part of your surroundings. Your expert guides help you set up camp at night, and they cook simple but delicious homestyle meals over a campfire.

This method of traversing the wild African landscape has only grown in popularity over the past few years, but for now it still remains a relatively well-kept secret that only the most enthusiastic adventurers enquire about. You and your fellow travellers get to enjoy a wholly unique experience that will stick with you for a lifetime.

Immerse Yourself in Nature

As the imagined scenario above shows, canoe safari trips remove many of the barriers between you and the world you intend to observe. The water sits high upon the edge of your canoe, and you can see the lilies and reeds glide past, sometimes bumping softly into your boat as you navigate channels and marshlands.

Wildlife tend to be curious but largely indifferent to your presence. While roads and trails carve through their territory, putting yourself in the midst of the water means you are in theirs. Guides scout ahead to warn you of impending hippos and other concerns. If one is spotted, your guide will instruct you on how to avoid piercing their comfort zone. Sometimes, you must use punting poles to shove through marshlands to seek alternate passage. Other times, you wait. When animals do get too close, you and your guide slap paddles on top of the water, which ring out like gunshots and frighten them away.

At the end of a long day of paddling, your body feels weary but relaxed. You smell the juicy seared meats coming to the right level of doneness as they roast over a wood fire. Vegetables wrapped in foil quietly steam and simmer in butter and their own juices. Your guide regales you with stories of adventures past — a recap of their closest calls.

On some nights during your trip, you can slip into a plush lodge bed after sipping wine by a roaring fireplace, but tonight, your tent and watchful guards are all that separates you from the wilderness. These experiences make canoeing safaris utterly unforgettable and affect travellers in profound ways. After weeks of living life in the suburbs or city at a breakneck pace, safari-goers get to slow down and listen to what nature has to say all around them.

Book a Canoeing Safari in Africa Today

Whether you want to see the Okavango Delta, the Zambezi or other incredible waterfront locales in Africa, a canoeing safari is an incredible way to experience them from an intimate viewpoint. You can book your canoeing safari trip today along with other amazing activities when you contact us and create a custom itinerary for you and your fellow travellers.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa