What to Expect on an African Riverboat Safari

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An African riverboat safari is a less-often considered adventure option that provides many unique benefits. When staying aboard the riverboat, you have the opportunity to let wildlife quite literally come to you. You can also depart on smaller flat-bottomed boats throughout the day to enjoy a leisurely alternative to the game drives or walking safaris.

Those who want to see elephants, hippos, Cape buffalo, exotic birds and many of the most remarkable African species can enjoy doing so on a riverboat cruise while also partaking in delicious meals throughout the day. Here is just a sample of what you can expect:

Up Close Encounters

Many animals you see on game drives are used to the sounds of cars, but others will be elusive. They have few reasons to stray towards the paved roads and well-trod dirt paths in parks except for to get from point A to B. On walking safaris, you often have a better chance at seeing more elusive creatures like wild dogs but must earn the privilege through some quite literal leg work.

By contrast, a boating safari means that the animals often surround you or come close to you despite the presence of a large riverboat or small craft. Animals like elephants and giraffe come to the river to bathe and drink, while others like Cape buffalo make their crossing.

Then, there are semi-aquatic species like crocodiles and hippopotami, which spend most of their day in the water. While gliding past, you are likely to see plenty of eyeballs poking above the river surface.

This distinction is not to say that you should not book walking safaris and game drive tours at all. They can offer access to important regions of parks to enjoy sights and animals you would not otherwise see. But, on the whole, riverboat safaris are an underappreciated way to enjoy wildlife from a different perspective.

A Relaxed Pace

Staying at a game lodge and going on drives means a small amount of scheduling and going from place to place. You still have an itinerary on riverboat safaris, but you will most often be walking out onto the deck to take part in them. Scheduled activities like lunch can take place on these decks while some of Africa’s most majestic creatures glide by.

Five Star Treatment

Many riverboat safari tours roll out the red carpet for their guests with amenities and gourmet foods that would not feel out of place at a luxury resort. The Zambezi Queen, a popular riverboat lodge, serves up gourmet twists on local favorites, including Namibian beef, fresh fish or even the occasional game food like impala filet.

Book Your African Riverboat Safari Vacation Now

Every safari is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but an African riverboat safari is even more special. You can take a look at our African safari tour packages to find the riverfront experience you desire or contact us directly to book a specialty tour today.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

 

The famousZambia

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Zambia is home to some of the most spectacular aquatic sites in the world, including its lengthy list of majestic and stunningly unique waterfalls. Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall in the world in terms of sheer size, counts among these.

You will also find all manner of spectacular waterfalls and cascades all throughout the country. Here are our top five we recommend:

Victoria Falls

One of the most iconic natural landmarks in Africa and one of the officially designated “Seven Wonders of the World,” Victoria Falls sits in a league all unto its own. Locals know it as “Mosi-oa-Tunya” or “the smoke that thunders” because its spray and thunderous roar can be seen and heard from miles away.

In total, Victoria Falls measures 5,604 ft in width and 354 ft in height, creating the world’s largest single curtain of falling water. During the height of the rainy season, over five hundred million cubic meters of water cascade over its edge. Cutting through zigzagging gorges, the pools that result from the falls draw rare wildlife from all around the region, including Grant’s zebra, Katanga lions, water buffalo, giraffe, elephants, vervet monkeys, baboons and many more.

Kalambo Falls

Located on the border between Zambia and Tanzania, Kalambo Falls is among the tallest waterfalls in Africa. Here, you will not only find rare sights like marabou stork nests but also fascinating anthropological sites. These extensively excavated sites were once home to prehistoric cultures dating back tens of thousands of years.

Ngonye Falls

Next to Victoria Falls, the Ngonye Falls make up some of the most majestic and incredible waterfalls in Zambia. They surround a wide, horseshoe-shaped basin at the transition point between the Zambezi River’s wide Kalahari flatland region and its more tumultuous and narrower path through basalt rock.

On either end of the falls, you can stand on rocks while the water gushes underneath. Below in the gorge, you will frequently find herds of elephants bathing, drinking or taking a rest.

The Kundalila Falls

The Kundalila Falls are not quite as noteworthy for their water flows as they are for the unique ecological habitat they create. Thin veils of water cascade over a wide swathe of rock, carving out deep pools on the bottom while sending sprays throughout the area. These sprays sustain a striking array of wild flowers as well as a richly diverse community of wildlife.

Lumangwe Falls

These falls are like a thunderous version of Victoria Falls writ small. They are found at a sudden drop in the Kalungwishi River in the Northern Province, providing a remote and frequently secluded camping spot for visitors. New lodges and visitor facilities have also been recently built nearby, making this area the perfect getaway spot for those on safari.

Come See Victoria Falls and the Other Famous Waterfalls of Zambia on a Safari Tour

You can book a trip to Victoria Falls, one of Africa’s most famous locations, as well as to any and all of these other gorgeous waterfalls when you enjoy one of our Zambia safari tour packages. Find your perfect safari vacation itinerary, and then book your trip today!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Safari in the city: Johannesburg

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Going on a safari in South Africa to most people means seeing big cats, rhinos, elephants and other notable species in Kruger Park. While this is certainly a great way to spend your time, you should make certain that you do not miss out on the other aspects of the region’s beauty.

More specifically, you should take a look at cities like Johannesburg to see the unique sights, sounds and experiences they can offer. While a relatively young city by most standards, “Joburg” as it is known by many locals is still steeped in history and rich culture. Anyone interested in getting the full experience of a South African vacation should therefore spend a few days in Johannesburg in order to catch the following attractions:

Johannesburg Botanical Garden

The Johannesburg Botanical Garden can be found in the Emmarentia suburbs to the north of downtown. Far removed from the densely packed bustle of the inner city, this massive 308 acre complex was founded in 1964 as a large rose garden upon a former farm estate.

The Rose Garden, with over 10,000 roses and dozens of world species, still remains a primary draw for visitors, but the park has also expanded to encompass many other areas and themes. Visitors can find a succulent garden, a prehistoric cycad garden, a preserved bird island, and a rare surviving example of a Shakespeare garden.

Johannesburg’s Botanical Garden lands also includes the adjacent Emmarentia Dam, which creates gorgeous, tranquil reservoirs surrounded by trees, walking trails, braai barbeque pits and more, making the park a perfect way to spend the afternoon.

Constitution Hill

Once an example of the oppression that minorities and political dissidents endured in South Africa, Constitution Hill has been transformed into a simultaneous ray of hope for local democracy in addition to a reminder of the mistakes of our past.

This “living museum” was once the site of a political prison as well as the Old Fort first built to protect the Boers from British invaders. These facilities have been transformed into monuments and educational museums, but South Africa’s Constitutional Court also actively operates here, interpreting law and making decisions that it feels are in the general interest of all South African citizens.

Visiting Constitution Hill is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will leave a lasting impression for years to come.

Johannesburg Zoo

You don’t have to go to Kruger or out in the bush to see wildlife in Johannesburg. Our city zoo has a huge variety of exotic species not just from Africa, but all over the world. It contains the only two polar bears in the entire continent, for instance, as well as one of the few breeding centers for white lions in the world.

African Craft Market of Rosebank

This open market is one of the most colorful and unique of any in the world. You will find all sorts of handmade goods, clothing and crafts here, making it the perfect spot to pick up a souvenir for yourself or someone you care about.

Visiting the market also puts you in the neighborhood of Rosebank, one of the more cosmopolitan and tourist-friendly sections of the city. You can tour famous landmarks, see local architecture and observe our city’s beautiful man-made forest while taking a walking along the city streets.

So Much More to See and Do in Johannesburg During Your South African Safari

These attractions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to enjoying yourself during your South African safari vacation. Take a look at our South Africa safari tour packages to get a taste of Kruger as well as tours of Johannesburg and nearby Cape Town during your trip.

Book your African safari vacation today!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya  Chui, Travel Africa

Wildlife Photography Camera Tips – Part 3

In Camera Tips – Part 1 and 2 we discussed the move from analogue to digital photography, basics of camera functions and different formats aka sensor sizes, advantages and disadvantages of modern camera systems and cameras with mirrors versus mirrorless cameras. In Part 3 we will concentrate on video and the importance of image stabilization.

 

Video with Modern Digital Camera Systems

It was around 2008 when the first serious video capabilities were introduced in modern digital cameras. The first to offer full high definition (Full HD) video was the Canon 5Dmark2 introduced in late 2008. This camera should change video and cinematography completely as it allowed not only to shoot high quality video footage but also offered the usage of the complete lens arsenal of Canon EF lenses without any restrictions. That offered many benefits as instant availability of focal length for extreme wide angle to extreme telephoto and allowed to record either camera internal or to an external recorder. You could view the image on the rear LCD and if you wanted to have better than that either use the LCD of the external recorder or even connect an external EVF.

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This started a new trend and today there is no modern digital camera lacking the function of video. But there is one big caveat and this is in a DSLR like the 5D2 you have to lock the mirror up in order to allow the light rays coming through the lens to reach the sensor permanently that is required for video shooting. Soon camera vendors came to a solution with mirrorless cameras, we discussed the differences been mirror based and mirrorless cameras in Part 2 of this series.

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In a mirrorless system light rays coming through the lens can always reach the sensor and on top of that there is the built in EVF that can be used for exact viewing of the scene without the need to connect an external EVF. Everyone who already has worked with external components for a camera like recorders and EVFs that are either directly connected to the camera or all the components are maybe mounted to a rig knows how big and relatively cumbersome this whole setup can easily become. For professional filmmakers that is usually not a problem, but for us who want to take some great footage during safaris or in our leisure time it can definitely be much simpler and convenient to work with a mirrorless system.

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Almost all of the modern digital cameras today support not only full HD video, but also 4K video with different frame rates that delivers 4 times the resolution of full HD but in most cases only uses a part of the image sensor for recording that results in some crop factor of the final footage. That means the focal length of a lens needs to be multiplied with that crop factor that can usually range from 1.1 to 1.7. This leads on one side to more telephoto reach with a certain lens that is in general something welcome for wildlife and telephoto work, but on the downside also each wide-angle lens becomes longer limiting the range on the wide side for what it was designed for.

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If you are really looking to work with 4K you should also consider that you end up with much more data even if there are compression mechanisms and also computing all of these data takes a lot of processing power during recording in camera and during editing. The first is the reason why there are often limitations for the duration of video footage in order to limit overheating and the second means you probably need a faster computer for editing 4K footage.

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Image Stabilization

We so far did not discuss that a video usually looks only good if it is not shaky. There are systems out on the market that are called gimbals and help significantly minimize camera shake resulting in stable footage. Of course you also can use a tripod, but that is rather complicated to handle and not the easiest solution for Safari, especially if you consider taking your videos out of a small and shaky safari vehicle.

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Another solution is to rely on the optical image stabilisation (OIS) that is available today in many lenses, especially telephoto lenses. But be careful because OIS only helps to a certain degree to compensate for camera shake and if camera movement becomes too much you again will finally see camera shake.

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In the recent years there was also the development of in body image stabilisation (IBIS) that in some cases even works together with OIS. IBIS moves the sensor in the camera usually in a magnetic field in order to compensate for any camera movement. There are some DSLRs as well as CSCs available offering this systems and I myself have only the best experiences with IBIS. Another advantage of IBIS is the fact that also un-stabilized lenses can be stabilized, opening this enhancement for many old lenses.

The conclusion is that with most of the available modern camera systems shooting video became a pretty simple thing and one can nicely improve the experience of recording memories by adding video footage to still images.

Learn more about cameras and wildlife photography with our Specialist Safaris.

Peter Tomsu for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa