Namibia’s alluring diamond-mining ghost town, Kolmanskop
Sep15

Namibia’s alluring diamond-mining ghost town, Kolmanskop

Namibia has a wealth of cultural and natural history and it’s one of the most alluring countries to travel. With its “frozen in time” German colonial towns, uniquely adapted desert wildlife, rich mix of cultures, and its dramatic landscapes, it is nothing like other countries in Africa and offers something entirely unique. There is a lot of evidence of the past in Namibia, from old shipwrecks that have stood stranded where they met their end on the Skeleton Coast; there is ancient rock art left behind by the Bushmen thousands of years ago; and then there are the ghost towns that lie abandoned in the desert sand, decades after the diamond rush was over. All along the southern coast of Namibia, diamond mining settlements started to spring up during the turn of the 20th Century. Back then, the country was colonised by Germany and unfortunately the crimes related to the Scramble for Africa in the early 1900s were not absent from the diamond rush, which was spurred on by the discovery of a diamond in the desert in 1908. Zacharias Lewala, who was working for a German supervisor on a railway near Lüderitz, discovered something glinting in the sand and handed it over for inspection. Upon the confirmation that this “glass” stone was indeed a diamond,  Namibia’s booming diamond industry kicked off. While this industry would go on to sustain the country’s economy for generations, the many mining settlements that cropped up through the desert and along the coast would eventually fizzle out and become “ghost towns”. The most famous mining settlement, which expanded into an eccentric town complete with an ice factory, bowling alley, and a swimming pool and playground for children, thrived for only a short few decades before the diamond rush collapsed. Kolmanskop, today, is a tourist attraction and somewhat of an interactive museum, welcoming Namibian travellers to this tiny, disappearing town in the desert. In 1912, a few years after the first diamonds were found in the area around Lüderitz, Kolmanskop produced a million carats, which was the equivalent of almost 12% of the world’s supply at the time! It was no wonder that with the seemingly endless supply of wealth in the area, miners and prospectors began to settle and the town of Kolmanskop developed. There was so much wealth that rather than existing in the desert on the bare essentials, Kolmanskop grew into a town that serviced the elite and eventually it housed a hospital that was considered to be world class. It was an oasis in the desert! Fresh water was brought in, a butchery and a bakery went up quickly, an ice...

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The 5 BEST things about a SUMMER safari
Aug08

The 5 BEST things about a SUMMER safari

Sure, African summers are notoriously harsh in terms of heat with temperatures that escalate well into the 40s (C), but the relief of big, heavy cumulonimbus clouds gathering in a rumble of humidity and electricity in the afternoons is one of the best sights, sounds, and smells in the world. Any African will tell you that. The fat droplets of rain that eventually burst from the weighty heavens simmer on the hot earth and refill waterholes and river beds with the liquid of life. Summer is by far the more beautiful of the safari seasons, but winter is the most popular time to travel. From July to October, water is scarce and animals migrate to find food sources. In national parks and reserves across Africa, tourism explodes as the game viewing becomes the best yet. Without thick, leafy trees blocking the view and with resources reduced to a minimum, the competition is high and predators have a field day. Winter certainly does have its perks, but summer should not be overlooked because it packs and incredible experience, if you can handle the heat and the bugs! We’ll tell you why… Birds, obviously We’re passionate about birding, and we know we’re not alone. Summer is the exciting time of year when we start to hear those familiar bird calls that have been absent for the rest of the year. Some of the crowd favourites in Southern Africa include the cuckoos, like the red-chested cuckoo’s “piet my vrou” chant, and the woodland kingfisher, whose high-pitched cascading song is one of the most recognisable in the summer bush. Beautiful, iridescent jewel tones of the emerald and Diederik cuckoos are almost unbelievable to see, and suddenly those abundant lilac-breasted rollers are joined by their cousins, the European rollers. Yellow-billed kites arrive early in the season and then are abundantly present. Amur falcons make the incredible journey all the way from north-eastern China and back again and are celebrated for their mammoth trans-equatorial flight. Quite amazingly, over 100 bird species migrate to South Africa every summer, some travelling over 10 000 kilometres in a matter of days. The warm African season is abundant with food and water for birds and it is the perfect breeding ground. If you’re into birds, you have to safari in summer. Better priced accommodation The “green season” prices for lodge accommodation (around January to March) are much lower than the peak season prices (June to October), giving you a lot more room in your budget. When the safari season calms down at the start of summer (November) and rooms begin to empty, the cost of your stay at a...

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Reopening of Selinda Camp is all about Earth, Fire, Air, and Water in the Delta
Aug07

Reopening of Selinda Camp is all about Earth, Fire, Air, and Water in the Delta

For the most exclusive getaway in Mother Nature’s pristine playground, look no further than Selinda Camp in northern Botswana. It is known and celebrated as both a barefoot luxury safari retreat and the location of wildlife documentary filmmaking by renowned conservationists, Dereck and Beverly Joubert. Now, Selinda Camp has unveiled a new look after closing for a touch-up, and the result is even more breathtaking than before. It retains that openness we’ve always loved, and the high A-frame thatched roofs that resemble the traditional look of the Sangwali village in the Caprivi Strip. The refurbishments have emphasised Robinson Crusoe-style design, and are grounded by the four elements: Earth, Fire, Air, and Water. Located in the 130 000-hectare Selinda Reserve, on the banks of the Selinda Spillway where it joins the Linyanti River, this is a place of pristine wilderness. Northern Botswana’s Okavango Delta wetland and associated channels and lagoons are rich in biodiversity and flourishing with wildlife. The presence of water being the source of all life here. Selinda Camp’s design pays homage to this essential natural element in the splashes of blue hues, pieces of drift wood, and inviting plunge pools outside each guest room. The element of air is evident in the architectural design, which has left so much open space and freedom for breezes to move through living areas. The thatched roofs rise high above the wooden floors of the main guest area and the lack of walls and doors lets all the fresh air in Selinda flow right on through. Rustic textures and raw wood bring everything down to earth, making inhabitants at Selinda Camp feel connected to the earth element of the natural world. Flickering lanterns, burning amber sunsets, and bare copper light fittings hint at the presence of fire – the fourth element – tying the camp’s new look together in a warm embrace. The ivory-coloured canvas walls and draped canvas ceilings in the bedrooms and parts of the dining and lounge area is classic nostalgia reminiscent of the old days of David Livingstone’s African explorations. Worn floor rugs blanket the wooden floors, large carved doors with brass knockers are items you’d expect to find in old Arabic cities, but that fit in just perfectly with Selinda’s inter-cultural atmosphere. African spears meet aged brass and shiny copper, bringing the Afro-European luxury to the walls and table tops decorated throughout the camp. Leather sofas and re-purposed wooden tables meet modern textiles and patterned materials to create a fusion of the old and the new. Nothing looks like it belongs, yet nothing looks out of place. A perfectly even victory of design. There are just...

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The Electric Safari Vehicle Revolution
Aug04

The Electric Safari Vehicle Revolution

It’s safe to say that Electric Safari Vehicles have the ability to change the game in the world of safari experiences. Not only are these state-of-the-art conversions much more environmentally friendly than normally aspirated vehicles, like the typical Land Rover Defenders or 4.2-litre diesel Toyota Land Cruisers, but they virtually are silent while running. This vehicle is revolutionary for game drives, and we’ll tell you why. It handles rocks and river sand just the same, if not better, than fuel-powered engines Field guides who expertly navigate the bushy terrain with their guests on the back of their six or nine-seater 4x4s have reported on how seamlessly the converted vehicles perform over the same rocky obstacles, through the thick riverbed sand, and across water crossings. The electric safari vehicle has the same capabilities as a Diesel engine and does not hinder access in typical safari landscapes. Precision control, torque, and 4×4 capabilities are impressive to say the least, so that’s point number one! It’s completely silent when running The electric conversions make an ordinary engine completely soundless. There is no loud turn-over of the engine as the key turns in the ignition and no roar of the engine coming to life before settling at a steady, rather loud, rumble. Cruising through the wilderness, listening for the sounds of animals and birds has never been easier. Many seasoned safari guests and field guides can’t believe the difference in what they can hear without the usual “chugga-chugga” of the Land Cruiser. Guides express being able to hear alarm calls in the bush, birds calling, and grass rustling all while driving. No more switching off of the engine to listen out for that telltale kudu bark! Plus, guests on the back of the vehicle can communicate easily with their guide in the driver’s seat without the sound of the engine. It emits no fossil fuels and charges on solar power Perhaps the most important aspect of the new electric safari vehicle is its eco-friendliness. By converting ordinary fuel-powered engines to electrically charged engines eliminates those harmful emissions from the atmosphere in environmentally sensitive areas. One of the most powerful ways in which we can change our impact on the environment is to reduce fossil fuels, and so for every engine converted, the greater the safari industry becomes for the planet. What’s more? It charges on solar power, taking it even further off the grid and utilising the sun’s abundant energy. It perfectly matches eco-friendly lodges that have already switched over to solar, completing the package and sealing the deal. It’s perfect for photography and videography The electric vehicles are so smooth and still and have...

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Malawi’s cheetah population grows with reintroduction to Majete Reserve
Aug01

Malawi’s cheetah population grows with reintroduction to Majete Reserve

Yesterday was World Ranger Day; a day to honour the field rangers whose brave duty it is to protect vulnerable wildlife from the illicit wildlife trade and poaching that ravages protected areas as a result. Without the men and women who train to be these defenders of wildlife – an incredibly dangerous and trying job – we would never see stories such as this one in the news. Four cheetahs have been translocated from South Africa to Malawi’s Majete Wildlife Reserve, forming a nucleus population that will grow and flourish under the expert management of African Parks and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW). These are the first cheetahs to exist in Majete for decades. More than twenty years ago cheetahs vanished from Malawi altogether as a result of habitat loss and anthropogenic factors, which have pushed cheetahs out of 90% of their historic range in Africa. These endangered cats now once again roam Malawi’s protected areas thanks to the first reintroduction in 2017 when Liwonde National Park received the first nucleus group of four. Since then, they have successfully bred a number of times, and the first litters have survived the first crucial stages of life under the protection of their mothers and are now 18 months old. Liwonde also recently reported that five cubs born in April are thriving, so the population continues to grow. On the 25th of July it was Majete’s turn, and four cheetahs successfully made the journey from South Africa in the care of the Endangered Wildlife Trust team. Donated by a few different reserves in South Africa – Welgevonden, Samara and Dinokeng, and Rietvlei – the cheetahs are starting life in optimal condition and in a wildlife reserve that has been nurtured, rehabilitated, and restored to its former glory. The addition of the cheetahs contributes to the predator population of the reserve and Malawi as a whole, balancing out the ecosystem as nature intended. Without the cooperation and partnership between Malawi’s DNPW and African Parks in managing the restoration of these national parks and reserves, Majete, Liwonde, and Nkhotakhota would not be the thriving, progressive examples of successful conservation they are today. Training field rangers to defend the borders of these parks is one of the first crucial steps in securing a safe place for cheetahs, lions, elephants, and other threatened species that now find their homes in Malawi. For now, Majete’s four cheetahs are in their holding bomas where they are acclimating to their new environment for the coming month. After that, they will roam free in an ecosystem that is in peak condition to receive them. We hope...

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