Find Out How to Pack for a Purpose When Visiting Africa
Oct18

Find Out How to Pack for a Purpose When Visiting Africa

Pack for a Purpose is a charity initiative encouraging people to pack specific supplies for struggling communities in the countries that they are visiting. The Pack for a Purpose website provides a list of supplies needed in each region, making it quite easy to source country-specific items.  Numerous hotels, camps and lodges within various countries across the globe have joined this highly successful and much needed initiative. You simply check the website to see if your hotel/lodge is part of the program, click on the link to see the projects that they’re involved in, and then build up a package containing their list of items needed. Pack for a Purpose bridges the gap between people wanting to donate material items to communities, and what is actually needed by those communities. If you follow the guidelines laid out by the charity, there won’t be a surplus of unnecessary items – and communities in dire straits will receive exactly what they need to survive and thrive within the educational, conservation and medical sectors.  Africa is a large continent with contrasting countries, unique cultures and mixed economies. This is vibrant continent and melting pot so rich in resources and natural beauty, but poor in monetary wealth. It’s not uncommon for pockets of rural communities to live without water, electricity and food. Communities urgently need donations from first world countries, but their list of items often differs from what we think they might need. The on-the-ground teams in each country keep inventory of what surrounding communities need, and constantly update the Pack for a Purpose website. Pack for a Purpose guides visitors towards the information needed to contribute effectively to communities – and don’t forget, a small contribution can have a massive impact. Below are a few of the items needed in popular safari destinations, with a handful of the lodges that Sun Safaris books on a regular basis. Each of the listed lodges has specific projects that they are involved in, which you can read about when you click on specific links. Pack for a Purpose in Botswana  Botswana is focussed on improving education and providing basic classroom supplies to the underprivileged. You are encouraged to donate school supplies, writing utensils, knitting utensils and notebooks.  3 lodges in Botswana involved in Pack for a Purpose. Click on the links to read the list of what is needed at each camp’s delivery point, and what projects are currently underway. Jao Camp in the heart of the Okavango Delta Duba Plains Camp is part of Great Plains Conservation and is located in the Okavango Delta. Vumbura Plains on the edge of the floodplains in...

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South Africa joins Brazil and Indonesia as world’s most biodiverse nations
Oct10

South Africa joins Brazil and Indonesia as world’s most biodiverse nations

South Africans, indulge in a moment of national pride: ZA is ranked as the third most biodiverse country in the world! It comes in after Indonesia in second place, and Brazil, which takes the gold medal in the category. The land of biltong, Ouma rusks, the Vuvuzela, and Walkie-Talkies (not the two-way radio kind) is also one of the planet’s megadiverse countries, meaning it has at least 5000 species of endemic plants and borders marine ecosystems. Not only is South Africa considered megadiverse, it is ranked third in the world. Our biologically diverse country is surrounded by two oceans – Atlantic and Indian – and occupies only about 2% of the world’s land area, while it hosts an impressive 10% of the world’s plants, 7% of the reptiles, birds and mammals, and 15% of coastal marine species. While we’re talking numbers, wrap your head around 850 species of birds, and 300 species of mammals occurring across our landscape. We can also boast about our nine different biomes, three of which have been declared global biodiversity hotspots: the Cape Floristic Region, Succulent Karoo, and parts of the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany. The Eastern Cape of South Africa is one of the world’s top 10 coral reef hotspots, while the Cape Fold Belt is an important freshwater ecoregion. What animals are endemic to South Africa? A few famous examples of animals endemic to South Africa include the Cape grysbok, bontebok, and riverine rabbit in the mammals category; the Cape sugarbird, Cape parrot and Cape rockjumper for birds; the geometric tortoise and Knysna dwarf chameleon as endemic reptiles; and the Table Mountain ghost frog as one of our endemic amphibians. The list goes on with plenty of insects, invertebrates, fish, and of course endemic plants. Take a look at a more in depth list of unique species and genera in South Africa here. Urgency to protect this unique biodiversity This climb in the ranking to third place comes after the declaration of 20 new Marine Protected Areas in South Africa, which will now protect 90% of the country’s marine habitat species. This, of course, is good news as it is an indication of the steps being taken by government to keep these sensitive and globally significant ecosystems safe from unsustainable overfishing, unethical recreation, and poaching among other things. The Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy said: “In terms of government priorities, these ocean parks will not only protect our rich marine biodiversity but will also contribute to the sustainability of our fisheries and our fishing industry – a perfect example of sustainable development, evidence-based policy-making, and a valuable outcome of the Operation Phakisa: Oceans...

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4 Good Reasons to Spend Christmas & New Year on Safari
Oct06

4 Good Reasons to Spend Christmas & New Year on Safari

It’s the time of year when half the population turns to Pinterest for their Christmas decor inspiration and menu planning, while the other half makes a quick U-turn out of the tinsel-strewn shopping mall and scans the web for any last minute flight specials to somewhere remote! We aren’t all cut from the same cloth, and while the bustling shops and festive music might give some people the warm and fuzzies, others start to dream of wide open spaces and silence instead. Sure, family time is the best time, but so are midday gin and tonics by the pool with absolutely nothing being asked of you for at least four hours. We get it; you’re torn between spending a week in near-pyjamas tripping over Christmas lights, and absorbing the African warmth under a big sun hat and a view of elephants parading across the savanna. Here are four good reasons to spend Christmas and New Year on safari. You’re welcome.     All the feasting without the cooking or cleaning Safaris are synonymous with overeating, in the best possible way. There is so much good food going around at every time of year and over the festive season, safari chefs really start churning out the special treatment. From early morning homemade rusks and shortbread, to fluffy frittatas, fresh fruit and mince pies, charcuterie platters and big, hearty flavours across the board, you’re definitely not going hungry. Food is so much a part of feeling nurtured and satisfied, and when you’re on safari – over Christmas time or not – you’re eating home-cooked meals that not only deliver in terms of comfort and flavour, you’re 100% on the receiving end and 0% on the prep! A safari Christmas means you have no kitchen duties assigned to you whatsoever, so forget the devilled eggs and the stewed fruit pudding you’re responsible for this year, and put those feet up! Where? Chinzombo Camp A rather appealing absence of (human) crowds We generally love our own humans, and the festive season allows absent aunts, uncles, and cousins to spend quality time together and lighten the load on parents of tots! But with long overdue family catch ups comes the exponential growth in general human traffic. A quick run for an emergency litre of milk on Boxing Day morning could turn into an hour-long affair with a few thousand people in the same predicament. Long queues of people in dire need of coffee with overtired kids in tow isn’t our idea of morning fun, but what we DO kind of like the sound of is birds. The deep, resonating drum of the ground hornbill enters...

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3 Epic Hiking Trails in Southern Africa
Oct01

3 Epic Hiking Trails in Southern Africa

Southern Africa has some world-class hiking trails ranging in terrain, difficulty, and duration. There are coastal climbs, forest treks, and mountain excursions and canyons that take the keen outdoorsman through some of the region’s most magnificent natural scenery. These are adventures that make you breathe hard, sweat more, and marvel in a state of awe the most. A physical challenge is as good as a holiday, ridding your mind, body and soul of anything that is no longer serving you and realigning your life. Many people treat the outdoors as medicine, fuel, nutrition for the mind, and we couldn’t agree more. Get lost and found in nature on one of these three hikes plotted out in different countries in Southern Africa! Fish River Canyon, Namibia Carry-all (including drinking water), marvel at the stars, and leave no trace. Distance: It is 90km or less if you take the official demarcated short cuts along the way. Taking all shortcuts will reduce the distance to about 75km, but while shorter routes may cut the kilometres the routes are sometimes more challenging than the flat hike along the canyon floor. Duration: 5 Days on average, while some challenge themselves to do it in 4 days and others plan to take it easier and complete the mileage in 6 days. Difficulty: This 5-day hike is a challenge in terms of heat and some days covering rather demanding terrain, like soft river sand and boulders. The first two days are slow-going with some boulder and rock jumping, and then things flatten out for a bit and you’ll cover more ground, and come day four, there is a bit of varying terrain which keeps you guessing and keeps you challenged. A steep descent into the canyon on the first day is tough for some people, while more experienced hikers won’t find it a problem. Overall, a moderate level of fitness is required to complete this hike, and you are likely to be nursing blisters in a euphoric state of “I did it!” at the end. Season: The hike is closed during the summer rainfall season between October and March because conditions are too harsh.  Winter is the time to hike the Fish River Canyon (between May to mid-September) and while temperatures during the day are mild in comparison to summer, they can reach 30 degrees or more at midday, so prepare to get hot. Night time can be on the opposite end of the spectrum and get very cold in the middle of winter, so come prepared, but you might get lucky and have rather balmy weather. Try and check out the water levels of the...

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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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National Geographic’s Unique (Safari) Lodges of the World
Sep11

National Geographic’s Unique (Safari) Lodges of the World

National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World is a handpicked selection of lodges across the globe offering extraordinary accommodation in treasured corners of the world. This carefully curated selection of awe-inspiring places offers guests an opportunity to stay in places that conserve and protect nature, cultural heritage and use sustainable practices for the day-to-day running of their lodge. Coupled with this, National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World also offer an elite sense of luxury with a personalised and intimate atmosphere. There are currently 17 lodges in Africa that have earned their position on this list of sought-after lodges, but today we’re just going to highlight 5 safari lodges within Nat Geo’s list. These are the lodges to stay at if you’d like to travel with purpose in Africa, and seek a more enriching experience than just the standard safari. They set the standard for luxury and responsible travel experiences, in our favourite safari regions. Click here to read the comprehensive list of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World in Africa. Duba Plains in Duba Plains Reserve, Botswana Dashing Duba Plains is located in a game-rich stretch of bushveld north of the Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta region. The lodge is community owned. As a matter of fact, it is the only place within this concession, which means private wildlife viewing.Wooded islands and vast floodplains cocoon Duba Plains, providing the perfect habitat for a diverse array of predators. The waterways are permanent, which means ample sightings of wading birds and amphibian hunting raptors. The entire camp sits under a canopy of fig trees, and the main area has a splash pool, central lounge and bar area and ample indoor/outdoor relaxation spots. In terms of accommodation, there are only 5 luxury tents, which ensures an intimate and personalised service. Each tent has its own private verandah on a viewing deck. Considered the Okavango Delta’s most remote camp, we’re not surprised that Duba made it onto the Nat Geo’s premier list of destinations. This is the place that the owners, and National Geographic filmmakers, conservationists and explorers, Dereck and Beverly Joubert, chose for their home base. andBeyond Ngorongoro Crate Lodge, Tanzania andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is perfectly perched on the rim of a caldera, a geographical phenomenon which is caused by the collapse of a volcano into itself. This naturally depressed area is filled with dense greenery and is home high concentrations of wildlife, almost forming a protected pocket of paradise for animals. The lodge overlooks endless landscapes, and is an architectural delight that offers unique decor reflecting that of its surrounds.  There are 30 elegant stilted suites...

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Top 4 Luxury Hotels in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sep03

Top 4 Luxury Hotels in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro is famous for its vibrant culture, sought after beaches and iconic landmarks. The Rio carnival brings in hoards of visitors during the sunny February months, and is considered to be the largest carnival in the world. The city pulsates with activity and there’s an overall atmosphere of absolute happiness washing over Rio! There’s a lot more to Rio than carnivals and parties. The city is home to the endless white beaches of Copacabana flanked by the famous towering Sugar Loaf mountain. Another popular beach region in Rio is the Ipanema beach and coastline, a place that draws in a hippie surfer crowd. The contrasting hilly region of Santa Teresa, a remote village defined by cobbled streets and magnificent views. These are our top 4 uxury hotels in the most popular regions in Rio de Janeiro. Belmond Copacabana Palace This classic landmark of a hotel is steeped in history, and lords over it surrounds. Resting on the shores of Copacabana Beach, the Belmond Copacabana Palace is most certainly a timeless hotel. The 239 roomed hotel opened its doors in 1923 and has certainly aged gracefully. It’s a glamorous destination once frequented by the Hollywood elite of the 1950s. It’s still home to an elite crowd in Brazil and is the perfect place to kick back and enjoy a caipirinha or two. This art deco masterpiece is home to a Michelin-starred restaurant and a massive swimming pool – two perfect places to unwind ! Hotel Fasano Rio de Janeiro Fasano is vastly different to Copacabana Palace in that it’s a modern, designer hotel with designer brands and stylish finishings everywhere you turn. Ideally located on the exquisite Ipanema Beach, Hotel Fasana is nothing short of exceptional. Ipanema Beach sees scores of surfers, sun worshippers and beach-goers lapping up the pristine beach lifestyle. This 89 roomed hotel is Philippe Starck’s first hotel in Brazil and is designed to reflect the 1950s and 60s era, where  bossa nova was in its heyday. Not only is Hotel Fasano located in one of Rio’s most coveted addresses, but it’s also an absolute design masterpiece created with flair. Each room has a balcony with sweeping views of Ipanema and when guests aren’t taking in the vistas of Brazil, they can enjoy indulgent spa treatments. Marina All Suites This is a luxury boutique designer hotel located in the Leblon area of Rio. Rumoured to be a favourite of supermodel Gisele Bundchen, the Marina All Suites is certainly aesthetically pleasing so we’re not surprised that it attracts a wealth of interest. The restaurant is the place to be and the be seen, and you’ll be...

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