We Answer 5 Unusual FAQs About Travelling to South Africa
May31

We Answer 5 Unusual FAQs About Travelling to South Africa

In previous blog posts we set out to answer common FAQs from travellers to South Africa. In this blog post, we’ve tackled a few of the more unusual questions that we’ve stumbled across from guests prior to their arrival in this country. It’s always important to have a vague understanding of local customs, rules and what to expect upon arrival. But it’s equally important to relax, roll with the punches and not stress too much about you upcoming holiday to South Africa, a world-in-one.  What is the public bathroom/toilet situation like in South Africa? You’re in a new country sampling strange foods and your body clock is out of whack, which is why this is a perfectly valid question. In short, there aren’t many public bathrooms in South Africa. The public toilet situation is generally clean and safe in coastal areas where facilities tend to spill out from the beach area. Restaurants will quite happily let you use their facilities, and malls have very good bathroom facilities. Even small shopping centres will have facilities, and most gas stations will have secure bathrooms for public use. Public toilets are normally free and sometimes have a security guard outside. Toilets are clean, and they’re flush, raised toilets one would expect in most western countries. If you do use public toilet that seems remote, please approach with caution and remember – “safety in numbers”! We’ve heard about the high crime rate in South Africa. Do we need to be vigilant while at our private safari lodge? Not really, no. It’s always important to exercise common sense, and that goes without saying for any travel destination. Keep your valuables in your suitcase, or lock them in a safe. Lodges are slightly more relaxed than city hotels, which makes sense given that they’re generally upmarket establishments located in exclusive reserves. When entering these private reserves, there is a warden and tight security – only guests staying at lodges are allowed into reserves. At lodges you can’t walk around – you are surrounded by untamed bushveld and hectares of wild terrain, which means no opportunistic thieves wandering about. The only thing you should worry about? Having fun! Is public transport reliable? No. And it’s not particularly safe for tourists. The train lines in Cape Town are okay, and the main route from Cape Town to Simon’s Town is incredibly scenic. If you do decide to do this journey, travel at peak hours and don’t board an empty carriage. For a hair raising experience you could catch a short journey on a local taxi, or grab a bus. Do these methods of transport come recommended for first-time...

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Why is a Safari Holiday Expensive? We Answer 7 Kruger FAQs.
Apr15

Why is a Safari Holiday Expensive? We Answer 7 Kruger FAQs.

If you’re a first time safari-goer it’s understandable that you might have a number of questions pertaining to finance, etiquette, meals and game viewing before you depart for your safari holiday. Given that you are travelling miles to a foreign country and have no idea what to expect, it’s understandable that you’d have a few questions in mind. Here we answer 7 commonly asked safari FAQs. Hopefully our answers will clarify a few things before you begin your intrepid journey into the Kruger bushveld. Why is a safari holiday so expensive? When you book a safari holiday in a private Kruger reserve you aren’t just paying for the price of the accommodation. Many people, when booking at a lodge, might balk at the price – whether it’s 3 star or a premier lodge. The price of a safari includes meals, accommodation and activities. Because you are in a wild, remote and private reserve; you cannot drive to the shops or use your own vehicle. There are also no restaurants nearby. All you have is the lodge and its facilities. A standard rate would include bush walks, morning and evening game drives, high tea, tea and coffee all day, game drive snacks and accommodation. There are rates at certain lodges that include all drinks in the cost. What is the difference between a Kruger private reserve and the Kruger National Park? Both the Kruger National Park and the private reserves form part of the Greater Kruger. The national park is owned by the parks board, and the private reserves are merely sections of the Kruger that are privately owned. These privately owned parts of the Kruger cannot be accessed by the general public unless they have a booking in a lodge within the reserve. There are normally gates and entrance/conservation fees before entering the private reserve. While day trippers can’t visit the private reserves, wildlife can wander across. Many of the private reserves share unfenced borders with the national park – this means that wildlife can roam across. Private reserves and concessions are also uncrowded and game drives are guided by a tracker and ranger. The rangers can normally go off road to get up close to sightings, which isn’t possible in the national park. Is it customary to leave a tip? You don’t have to leave a tip, but you really should. Your guide looks after you for the duration of your stay so it’s customary to tip your guide. Coupled with their tip you are also welcome to tip the housekeeping. Certain lodges might have a tip box in the main section, but most lodges will supply you...

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3 Reasons Why Vultures and Hyenas Are Vital to a Reserve
Dec17

3 Reasons Why Vultures and Hyenas Are Vital to a Reserve

When a kill has been conducted by expert predators like lions and leopards, the hoards of scavengers are quick to descend upon the periphery of a kill site. The two culprits include a variety of species of vulture and the cackling hyenas. Both parties, the avid members of the reserve’s clean-up crew, will wait in the wings for the perfect opportunity to approach the area. However, hyenas are not above attempting to displace lions or leopards from their kill. Hyenas are actually successful hunters, but also proficient scavengers. They have a series of calls that ranger from whoops to cackles and high pitched sounds. Each call means something different. The laughter is heard most often, and this is the sound that indicates anxiety and serves to beckon the rest of the clan to the site of a carcass. With vultures you will hear an almighty swoosh of wings as they approach an abandoned carcass. They won’t move into the scene until the carcass has been abandoned by the predator, after which they will wait for the lappet-faced vulture to approach first. This species has a massively strong beak that can rip open closed skin and hide. The white-backed vultures are the most comical, loudest and there are always plenty of them. Each species performs a different role at the carcass. Overall, these are the 3 reasons is the useful role that both vultures and hyenas play in the health of a reserve : 1. Clean up Debris : Hyena aren’t just cunning killers, but they’re also useful scavengers. The bone crushers will clean the site of a kill and rid it of discarded bones and debris. Predators will only eat the fleshy bits from their kill. If it weren’t for hyena in a reserve we’d have plenty of bone and bone fragments littering the reserve. 2. Prevent the Spread of Disease : Vultures and hyena provide a vital role in the ecosystem and keeping it clean. Vultures actually have a highly acidic system in their stomachs that can break down diseases in rotting carrion that might well poison other animals. 3. Population Control : Hyenas aren’t only successful scavengers but also proficient hunters. They help to keep the populations levels balanced by hunting and preying...

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SafariLive : A Virtual Safari in Masai Mara and Kruger
Nov12

SafariLive : A Virtual Safari in Masai Mara and Kruger

safariLIVE gives viewers from around the world an opportunity to go on safari and ask questions – from the comfort of their living room or from behind their computer screen. Let’s unwrap that sentence and explain ourselves. safariLIVE broadcasts live from the Greater Kruger in the pristine Sabi Sand Reserve and from the Masai Mara’s great migration. Footage is live, unedited and thus provides both an exciting and authentic safari experience. safariLIVE is the brainchild of WildEarth who have really provided viewers with reality TV. Script? No script – it’s the African wild and nothing can be predicted. The sightings provide the fodder for the ad lib scripts. Then, there’s also the opportunity to interact LIVE, while rangers are out on drive and in a sighting. Instead of sitting on the back of an open-topped game viewer, asking questions, you can tweet #SafariLive and they will interact live with their virtual guests! The live feed happens twice a day for 10 minutes (typically game drives happen at dawn and dusk) during the morning game drive and evening game drive. There are two game vehicles, drones and a guide on foot all seeking the same thing – wildlife ! Every day, over 53 million viewers across multiple National Geographic Facebook accounts are transported to South Africa daily for interactive, guided Facebook Live safaris. Join a virtual drive in the Maasai Mara National Reserve in south-western Kenya or in the Sabi Sand in the Greater Kruger. If you can’t join the live safari drive, then be sure to observe the footage from the live feed at the Djuma waterhole in the Sabi Sand. If you sit and watch the footage, you never know what you might see! If you’d like to stay at the lodges involved in this interactive safari experience, then we can always arrange a stay at two of our favourite lodges, Chitwa Chitwa and Arathusa Safari Lodge in the heart of the Sabi Sand...

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The Big 7 Animals of South Africa
Oct08

The Big 7 Animals of South Africa

The big five are the most sought after species of wildlife to spot while on safari. The term “big five” was coined many years ago by big game hunters who found that lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo were the most dangerous to hunt while on foot. Years later, avid marketers and journalists continued to use the term to group together five of Africa’s elusive and majestic species. The big five can be found in the Kruger region, and scattered throughout other parts of South Africa within reserves. However, these big five animals are terrestrial and a large portion of South Africa is coastal. In the depths of the waters there is plenty of marine life. From southern right whales to dolphins, orcas and various species of shark; South Africa is a world of ocean splendour. The rugged coastlines of the Cape provide plenty of vantage points for shark spotting and whale watching. The southern right whale and the great white shark are the two most sought after ocean species to spot while cruising South Africa’s coastline. And thus, the these two marine creatures have been added to the big five to make up South Africa’s “big 7”! Here are the big 7 animals of South Africa : Rhino  Rhino are one of the most critically endangered species in Africa, and their numbers are rapidly declining. There are two species found in South Africa, the black and white rhino. The black rhino has a long horn and is far more aggressive in nature than the white rhino, and they’re considered browsers. White rhino are grazers –  their wide-lips allow for them to graze and mow through the short bushveld grasses. Black rhino have a narrower lip structure which allows them to pluck off nutritious leaves while browsing. Rhino have a keen sense of smell and hearing, but have incredibly poor eyesight. These prehistoric creatures are found throughout the majority of reserves in the Kruger and the Eastern Cape. Leopard The graceful and elusive leopard is a solitary wanderer, and when spotted it’s normally in the dead of night. The males tend to cover a huge traverse and will seek out areas rich with prey and availability of females. Females tend to confine themselves to a smaller traverse heaving with prey and potential den sites. You’ll find an abundance of leopard in reserves with caves, rocky outcrops, tall trees and drainage lines. After a kill is made, a leopard will drag the prey into a tree and stash it there for safekeeping, which is why you should always look up while on game drive! Leopards are found throughout may reserves, but the Sabi Sand Game...

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5 Unusual Ways in Which Nature Guides Us
Sep25

5 Unusual Ways in Which Nature Guides Us

For many years poets, artists and those filled with a sense of wanderlust have flocked to Africa to uncover her many hidden secrets. There are plenty of high tourist areas, rocky coastal regions and cities waiting to be explored; but the main reason why people visit this complex continent? It’s because of the bushveld – its sunsets and sunrises, wildlife, rich vegetation and vast spaces. It’s the unexplored and the rawness that sees us flocking to the bushveld time and time again. Even within reserves, concessions and parks scattered with lodges, the surrounds are still wild and unpredictable. The natural world offers us the opportunity to tap into our roots and that primitive back-to-basics part of our personality that gets lost in the humdrum of everyday living. No wonder people fall in love with our Africa – she is masterful, powerful, enigmatic, complicated, exquisite and unforgiving. The wild of Africa holds so many secrets, but in actual fact it also holds all the answers while gently guiding us towards being better, and living better. The bushveld will offer you the answers in ways you never thought possible – answers that resonate with your everyday living. Here are 5 unusual ways in which nature guides us :  1. Offers Ideas for Colour Palettes for Interior Decorating and Fashion We need to turn to nature and observe her many changing colours to gain ideas about how we can bring her natural palette into our modern way of living. Stop, observe and watch the myriad of patterns and colours on birds, trees, flowers and shrubbery. If you’re wondering about pairing colours, try to think of a particular plant or species of wildlife that naturally “wears” that combination. The lilac-breasted roller shows us that lilac, pale blue, cobalt blue and pale green work well together.  The crested barbet displays its burnt orange, yellows, whites and blacks with pride. The woodland kingfisher dons an electric blue and bright red colour combo. Our advice? look to the birds for fashion tips! 2. It Heals Heartache and Makes us Fall in Love When we are confronted with heartache, we tend to keep busy and box away the emotions. As humans, we don’t deal – we become frenetic with activity instead of taking time out to process and let go. Nature has a natural healing effect – after all, we are just highly developed animals. For those that come on safari, they are forced to be in the moment without any distractions. On the other hand, nature is also an aphrodisiac, and she doesn’t need to do much to draw us into her loving web. There are often sparks...

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A Parliament of Wise Owls
Sep05

A Parliament of Wise Owls

A parliament of owls will monitor the landscape below, observing the movements of terrestrial species going about their daily rituals. Generally solitary birds of prey, they have long been known to carry with them a certain disposition of wisdom. When together, we refer to them as a parliament – possibly due to their serious and statuesque demeanour. A sighting of a parliament is rare because owls will only really enjoy the company of other owls during mating season or in the nocturnal hours. There they sit, observing and guarding mother earth. Greek goddess of wisdom and warfare, Athena, is said to take on the attribute of an owl – referred to as the Athenian owl. Even if delving into the depths of Greek mythology is not up your historical alley, there’s something to be said about owls and their similarity to Athena’s attributes.Owls are birds of prey and will use their wisdom and unique adaptions to target unsuspecting quarry. There is often warfare abound when swooping down on their choice of meal. African folklore differs somewhat in that many are superstitious of these nocturnal raptors, believing them to bring with them a sense of foreboding darkness and being agents for witches. In the Kruger bushveld, we have a few commonly spotted owls, each with plenty of commonality and varying degrees of skills. Here are the owls to spot while on safari : Pearl-spotted owlet You’ll more than likely hear the call of this owl before you spot it. It is a small, diurnal owl that hunts during the cooler hours of the day and at night when there is an opportunity. Because it’s active during the day, it’s a spectacular bird to photograph.  This small bird has a round shaped head without the standard ear tufts commonly seen on other owls. Their plumage is a wonderful mixture of warm chestnut colours, browns and whites; with distinct white dots scattered across the shoulder area. They also have a set of fake eyes on the back of their head that fools predators. Giant Eagle Owl (Verreaux’s Eagle Owl) This is probably the most stereotypical owl often portrayed in novels and storybooks. It is the largest owl in Africa, and is recognisable by is milky-white eyelids. Although often spotted perched on elevated areas amid the treetops, this is merely to make use of the vantage point in identifying potential prey. This owl will identify its prey with a keen sense of hearing and swoop down in a swift motion, killing the prey with its razor-sharp talons. They will devour the prey on the ground, and ensure that their meal is caught away from...

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