Why Walking Tours Exclude the Big Five

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Going on an African safari is an outstanding choice for your next vacation, especially if you love seeing exotic animals in the wild. While it’s common to expect to see Africa’s Big Five on your safari, you may end up disappointed if you choose a walking safari.

The Big Five will always be excluded from a walking safari for some very good reasons, and examining these reasons is the best way to decide if a walking safari is the right choice for you. Here are a few of the reasons that you won’t see the Big Five on your walking safari and advice for booking a safari where you can see these animals.

More Scared of You

If you’re like most people, then you’ve likely heard the old adage that wild animals are more scared of you than you are of them, and this is the main reason that you usually won’t see the Big Five while on your walking safari.

Despite their size, the Big Give are intimidated by humans, and will almost always prefer running away to encountering you face to face. Most of the creatures in the Big Five have highly attuned senses, meaning they can detect people approaching from a good distance away. As soon as these animals catch your scent or hear you walking, they will flee. Although this might be disappointing for travelers dreaming of a close encounter with the Big Five on their safari, it’s actually for the best, as these animals can be dangerous when cornered.

Big Five on a Game Drive

If you’re desperate to see the Big Five on your African safari, then your best bet is booking a game drive. While this does mean you’ll be in the confines of a vehicle, it will also make it more likely that you’ll be able to see every member of the Big Five.

While on a game drive, you’ll be accompanied by a safari guide that will know when and where to find the Big Five. By approaching from a distance in the game vehicle, you’ll be able to see these animals without scaring them off. To get a good view, make sure to pack a pair of quality binoculars or a camera with a long-distance lens.

Staying Safe on a Walking Tour

Even if you may not be able to see the Big Five, going on a walking safari is still a great choice, particularly if you follow a few easy safety tips.

The first and most important tips for staying safe on a walking safari is to never venture out without a guide. Your guide will be able to steer you away from dangerous areas so that you have an enjoyable trip free from harm. Always walk in single file, and if you do encounter a wild animal, remain calm and never run. Make sure that your clothes aren’t brightly colored so that you can blend into your surroundings. Finally, refrain from eating, drinking or smoking while on your walking safari.

If you want to experience the beautiful natural beauty of Africa, a walking safari is an excellent choice, even if it means you may not see the Big Five.

The Most Effective Safari Safety Tips

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As most experienced travelers will tell you, there is no more exciting vacation than going on African safari. On a safari, you’ll be able to meet new friends, sample delicious cuisine, and experience some of the most exotic sights and sounds in the entire world.

While a safari is a once in a lifetime experience, it is also a much different vacation than any trip on which you’ve ever been, which is why it’s a good idea to get a few tips so that you can have the safest, most enjoyable holiday possible. Here are a few easy safari safety tips that you can use on your next holiday to make sure that you have an exciting trip free from harm.

Getting Ready Before Your Trip

If you want to make sure that you enjoy the safest African safari possible, then you need to start preparing before you even book your flight. With a little preparation, you can avoid many of the risks of safari before your trip even begins, giving you total peace of mind.

As many people know, malaria is a risk in many locations in Africa, so it’s important that you take malaria pills on your trip. While you’re on safari, you should be sure to sleep under mosquito nets to reduce your risk any further.

You will also need to make sure you are up to date on your vaccinations before you leave on your trip. In particular, you need to make sure you’re vaccinated for hepatitis and Yellow Fever, both of which are a threat on safari.

Finally, it’s a good idea to purchase medical travel insurance prior to your trip. Extra coverage will help you more quickly receive medical treatment if you’re injured on your vacation.

Safely Viewing Game

For most people, the biggest benefit of going on African safari is being able to see wild animals in their natural habitat. Because most people are accustomed to seeing these animals in a zoo, it’s common to forget that these creatures can be threatened by humans, sometimes resulting in attacks that can put your health in serious jeopardy. By following a few simple rules, you can safely enjoy exotic animal life while on Safari.

When you’re on a game drive, you should remain as quiet as possible, as human activity is likely to agitate the animals. You should also keep your arms and legs inside of your safari vehicle at all times. Although the animals are sometimes used to vehicles, they are not as accustomed to the presence of humans. Try to avoid eating on your game drive, and always make sure you’re properly attired. Bring along warm clothing, sunscreen, and hats so that you’re prepared for every weather situation.

If you plan on taking a walking safari, you should never go without a guide, as they are trained how to safely navigate the bush. Walk in single file, never run, and be sure to wear subdued clothing, as animals will be attracted to bright colors.

Follow these safari safety tips while you’re on your next African safari tour, and you’ll have a safe trip that you’ll remember for a lifetime.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

Activities to Avoid on Your Next Safari

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Any traveler looking for the most exciting vacation possible should consider going on an African safari. If you’ve never been on a safari, then you’ve been missing out on one of the most magical vacations in the world. Whether you want to see wild animals in person or are interested in learning about a new culture, an African safari is your best possible choice.

For first time safari goers, it’s important to learn about a few activities that should be skipped on these trips. While these activities may seem fun, they’re often more trouble than they’re worth. Avoid choosing these activities when you’re booking your African safari so that you can have a safe vacation that’s filled with unforgettable memories.

Interacting with Lions

As previously mentioned, being able to see exotic animals is one of the top reasons to go on safari. One of the most popular animals to see on safari is the African lion, one of the most majestic creatures in the world.

While you should definitely be sure to view lions on your safari, you should refrain from booking any activity that promises direct interaction with these creatures. Allowing travelers to cuddle lion cubs is a huge industry in Africa, but it also puts these animals at risk. If a lion cub frequently interacts with humans, it will have zero chance of surviving in the wild.

Adventures with Baboons

Another safari activity that should be avoided is feeding wild baboons. While it can be tempting to feed baboons, particularly as they are frequently found near picnic areas, you may be putting both yourself and the animal in harm’s way.

When baboons are fed by humans, it encourages them to interact with humans on a more frequent basis, fostering dependency and reducing the baboon’s ability to find food on their own. Additionally, baboons can be very aggressive, especially when they aren’t given what they want. This means that baboons that have learned to accept food from humans may attack if a traveler denies them a treat.

If you travel through an area where there are baboons, make sure that all your food is locked up. If possible, stay in your vehicle until the animal has departed. Should a baboon approach you, do not attempt to pet the animal. Despite their appearance, baboons are still wild animals that may attack when they feel threatened.

Taking an Elephant Ride

If your only experience with African safari is films and television shows, then elephant riding is an activity that you may associate with this type of vacation. While riding on an elephant may seem fun, it is actually an extremely risky activity, and is something you should avoid.

Although they are large creatures, the spine of an elephant is not designed to support weight, meaning riding on an elephant can harm the animal. In addition, elephants that respond to human commands have often undergone cruel training, and taking part in elephant rides supports this practice. Instead of going on an elephant ride, view these creatures humanely in a game park or conservation area.

Choosing the right activities, and avoiding the wrong ones, will ensure you have an exciting African safari.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya CHui

What You Can’t Miss on a Great African Safari

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Going on an African safari is a fantastic choice if you’re thinking about taking a vacation. A safari is a one-of-a-kind experience, allowing you to see exotic animals and plantlife in one of the most interesting locations in the world. However, as with most vacations, getting the most out of your safari depends on planning your trip with the right activities.

Learn about what you can’t miss on a great African safari trip, and how you can book a trip that is tailored just for you and your family.

Safari Guide

The key to a rewarding, exciting safari is being able to see a wide range of sights that will allow you to immerse yourself in African culture. However, if you’re not familiar with Africa, then you might not know which locations you should visit and which should be skipped. It is for this reason that hiring an experienced, knowledgeable guide or ranger is something you can’t skip on if you want a great African safari.

The right safari guide will be both entertaining and informative, and will be able to take you on a tour of game reserves and national parks so that you can see the gorgeous scenery and exotic animals that are the hallmark of an African safari. Choosing the right guide means having a memorable safari.

The Big Five

Even if you’re not an experienced with going on safari, you may have heard of the Big Five, which are animals that a person typically sees when they’re on safari. These animals are the rhinoceros, the Cape buffalo, the African lion, the African leopard, and the African elephant. While there are several sights that you can see while on safari, the Big Five is definitely something you can’t miss.

Ensure that you make time to see these animals on your trip if you want the full safari experience. In fact, make seeing the Big Five the first item on your safari itinerary so that you don’t miss out.

Wilderness Dining

Africa is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in the entire world. While Africa is gorgeous every time of day, the best views come at sundown, when the light gets low and you can see breathtaking colors on the horizon. During your safari vacation, an activity that you need to make sure to participate in is wilderness dining, or enjoying a meal while immersed in the bush.

Many safari lodges offer sunset meals that are the perfect opportunity to relax after a long day of adventuring.  While enjoying a refreshing drink and eating a delicious meal, you can take in the sites and reflect on your vacation.

Be Adventurous

If you’re a traveler that can’t fully enjoy your vacation until you get your blood pumping, then you need to be certain that your African safari includes a little bit of adventure. For example, you may want to plan an excursion to Victoria Falls, where you can enjoy thrilling activities like bungee jumping and helicopter rides. A memorable, fun safari is one that lets you go on an adventure you wouldn’t experience in your normal life.

Include these can’t miss activities in your African safari so that you can have the time of your life.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

How to Take Gorgeous Safari Pictures

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A key part of going on vacation is taking enough pictures so that you can remember your trip for years to come. While photography is an crucial part of any trip, it is particularly important when  you’re visiting a breathtakingly gorgeous location like Africa.

While on your African safari, you want to be sure that you take pictures that both look great and are an accurate reflection of your trip. Luckily, with the right tips at your disposal, photographing your African safari can be fun and easy. Here is some quick advice to help you take great safari pictures, and tips for planning the African safari that’s right for you and your family.

Lighting Tips

As any photographer knows, the key to taking a great picture is getting the right lighting. However, this can be especially difficult in Africa, where the light is much harsher and brighter than many people are used to. Instead of trying to adjust to this severe light, you should plan your picture taking for the times of day where the light is gentler. Taking pictures at dusk and dawn, for example, will result in beautiful pictures you’ll cherish for the rest of your life.

Planning your photographs for sunrise and sunset provides several benefits. First, as mentioned, the light is much more conducive to successful photography. Secondly, animals are much more active at these times of day, increasing your chances of a memorable shot.

Choose Your Shots

People going on safari for the first time often want to take as many pictures as possible, filling digital memory cards or rolls of film with thousands of pictures. While it’s understandable that you may want to take a photo of everything you see on safari, constantly taking photos can actually cause you to miss important sights, and may result in blurry, unattractive pictures.

When you’re taking safari pictures, you should be discerning about where and when you photograph. For example, if you see an animal in the shade, either wait for it to move into the light or give your camera time to adjust so that you can take a clear, attractive picture. Limiting the amount of pictures you take will help you stay present on your safari and will increase your chances of a fantastic photo.

Picking Your Equipment

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when they’re photographing Africa is choosing the wrong equipment. For instance, if you bring multiple lenses on your safari, then you may spend more time adjusting your camera than enjoying your trip. When it comes to taking pictures on your safari, less is always more.

Choose one lens for your camera so that you aren’t constantly tweaking your equipment. Also, instead of breaking the bank for an expensive camera, invest most of your money in a safari package that will let you experience the sites up close and personal. Not only will this ensure better pictures, but it will give you a more exciting safari.

Photographing Adventures

Another factor you should consider is whether you want to spend your entire safari looking through the viewfinder of your camera. An African safari is a once in a lifetime experience, and getting that perfect picture may not be worth what you missed. Consider reserving one day of your safari for picture taking, and then spend the rest of your trip immersing yourself in the natural beauty you’ll only find in Africa.

By sticking to these simple picture taking tips and making sure you have the right equipment, you can easily photograph your next African safari.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

All About the Hyrax, the Elephant’s Cousin That Looks Like a Rodent

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In a continent full of unique and unusual animals, the plucky hyrax still manages to stand out. These medium-sized mammals are survivors of a primitive group of species that later split off to evolve into elephants, manatees and dugongs. They have some interesting characteristics, including complex barking “songs” and elephant-like rubbery footpads adapted for climbing.

You can find the four different species of hyrax all throughout Africa during an African safari tour. Observing them in the wild is a rare treat that makes them every bit as worth seeking out as any of the Big Five.

The Four Species of Hyrax

There are four different species of hyrax — also called “dassies” by those who speak Afrikaans — and they all have their own distinct habits and habitat ranges.

  • Rock Hyrax — Also called the “rock badger,” these hyraxes are highly social and adept climbers thanks to their thick rubber-like pads. They spend 95% of their time sleeping or resting in the sun.
    • Distribution: Cape Hyraxes are found along the coasts of South Africa and Namibia as well as across Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Yellow-Spotted Hyrax — Also called the “bush hyrax” or the “yellow-spotted rock hyrax” this species lives in clusters of boulders and rocky natural outcroppings found on the plains called kopjes. They are smaller and less-round than the rock hyrax.
    • Distribution: Found along the eastern coast of Africa and also within limited areas of Angola.
  • Western Tree Hyrax — Unlike the social rock hyraxes, this hyrax tends to live alone within tree clusters. They have coarser fur and unique white markings that resemble eyebrows or beards.
    • Distribution: Found in a limited range in western subtropical Africa, including the D.R. Congo and southern Cameroon.
  • Southern Tree Hyrax — The most elusive and smallest of the hyrax species, the southern tree hyrax lives alone or in pairs. They prefer humid regions of forests and savannas as well as rocky areas.
    • Distribution: A limited range in east-central Africa, including most of Tanzania and parts of the D.R. Congo.

Hyrax Size and Appearance

Hyraxes appear similar to rodents or guinea pigs, with the rock hyrax looking rather rotund and the other species looking more-lean. They can grow up to 28 inches in length and 11 pounds.

Hyraxes have interesting teeth structures, with front incisors that grow out into tusk-like formations, similar to their elephant cousins. They also have hoof-like blunt nails that resemble elephant feet.

Hyrax Group Behaviors

The two rock hyrax species are highly social, living in groups of up to 30. As a result of their social organization, they show signs of high intelligence, including the ability to communicate through 20 different vocal noises. In captivity, they tend to be extremely “talkative,” responding actively to caregivers when they approach. They also make chomping/chewing movements as a form of communication.

Unique Adaptations

All hyrax species have unique foot pad structures and sweat glands in between their toes to help them grip rocks and tree trunks. The foot muscles all curve inward to create a suction-cup-like grip.

Another interesting adaptation is the hyrax’s highly efficient kidneys, which can filter waste with minimal use of water. In fact, their concentrated urine creates mineral deposits over time called hyraceum, and the musky scent is highly prized as an ingredient in perfumes.

One thing the hyraxes are not well-adapted for is maintaining their internal heat. Rock hyraxes in particular must huddle together, rest frequently and bask in the sun to maintain their internal body temperature.

See Rock Hyraxes and Other Incredible Species During Your African Safari Tour

You can encounter hyraxes and other charming, unique creatures during your African safari trip when you book one of our safari tour packages.

Take a look at our sample safari tours to book your trip today, and contact us if you want to create a custom safari vacation where you can meet hyraxes in person.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

 

Meet Africa’s Plucky “Small Five” During Your Safari Adventure

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Much attention is given to Africa’s “Big Five” game animals — and deservedly so — but those who come to Africa to look at just five species will miss out on incredible opportunities to see other beautiful wildlife.

Tackling this problem, conservationists decided to band together and make a push to recognize the not­so­big and not­quite­so­iconic animals you can find throughout the continent. The result was the “Small Five.”

None of these creatures are particularly rare, but they do feature names from each of the Big Five as a clever nod. The real purpose in highlighting these animals is to help people headed to top­rated African safari destinations focus on all the small details that make Africa great, not just Five of them.

Get to know the Little Five and what makes them so endearing by reading their species profiles below.

 

1.   Red­Billed Buffalo Weaver

The buffalo weaver lives in large colonies on savannas south of the Sahara all throughout Africa. Each colony is made up of breeding groups of 3­4 females and one male. The groups make huge nests in baobab trees and other plains trees on the savanna. Each nest contains multiple compartments for individual females to lay eggs and nest upon them.

Even though males often compete for female mates, and females do not tolerate other females in their chamber, red­billed buffalo weavers do cooperate when it comes to building their large nests. Males will even cooperate with one another to build nests, gather food for females and defend the colony territory from invaders.

 

2.   Elephant Shrew

The elephant shrew is a fascinating creature known for their long snouts and rapid speeds. Even though the animals typically measure less than a foot in length, they can sprint at speeds of nearly 18 miles an hour for short distances.

Some species even modify their environment by clearing “lanes” or paths through the underbrush to make finding insects easier. They can also use the cleared lanes to rapidly scurry to safety when a threat comes near.

3.   Leopard Tortoise

Named for the vibrant leopard­like patterns sometimes seen on their hard domed shells, leopard tortoises are desert­loving reptiles found from Sudan all the way to the southern Cape. They eat grasses but prefer desert succulents and spiny thistles, making quick work of them with their leathery tongues.

Leopard tortoises are the fourth­largest species of tortoise in the world, growing up to 16 inches in overall length and 29 pounds in weight. Some tortoises along the Cape have gotten even bigger, growing to 28 inches and weighing more than 88 pounds!

4.   Rhinoceros Beetle

Africa has over a dozen species of rhinoceros beetle throughout its lands, including the huge Archon centaurus at nearly three inches long and Oryctes boas, which has a single horn large enough to make even a real rhino jealous!

Both male and female rhino beetles have horns, but only the males use them to battle for mates. They also use the horn as real rhinos do: to dig, lift objects and help navigate their environment. When threatened, some rhino beetle species “squeak” by rubbing their abdomens against their thin inner wings.

5.   Ant Lion

The most­common of the Little Five but nonetheless fascinating, the ant lion species can be found all throughout Africa and the world. These voracious insect predators are actually the larva of lacewing insects. They burrow into the ground and make trademark “funnel traps” in the sand to capture unsuspecting insect prey. Antlions’ powerful jaws can seize prey many times their size, and their large abdomens and forward­facing bristles help keep them anchored during the struggle.

Africa is home to some of the largest antlion species, including one species of Palpares that grows to 6.3 inches as an adult!

Come Meet the Small Five at Top­Rated African Safari Destinations

When you book a safari destination vacation package, feel free to get excited about lion, leopard and elephant sightings, but don’t forget to take a closer look at the world around you. You just may see an ant lion funnel, or catch the call of a buffalo weaver as they exit their large nests.

Take a second to appreciate all of Africa in this way, and you will get much more out of your trip to come home feeling like you truly experienced as much splendor as possible.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui