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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Mountain cottages in South Africa for the eternal city escapee
Jul08

Mountain cottages in South Africa for the eternal city escapee

Take me to the mountains! The mountains where forests and flowers, blankets of mist and waterfalls culminate to create something we can only describe as mystical, dream-like, and deeply restorative. South Africans flock to the mountains to bird-watch (see what we did there), to hike or bike the trails, to clamber over sun-bleached rocks and marvel at ancient artwork left behind in the caves. There are so many reasons to want to escape the big cities and run for the hills where noise pollution falls away, neighbours are nonexistent, and days start with the sunrise and not an alarm clock. South Africa is self-drive country, and many adventurous tourists take to the roads to see more of the unique and diverse landscape. Here, we’ve listed three (from many) different mountainous regions across the country and picked our favourite mountain cottages and cabins for restoration and relaxation. Hogsback This little town is located in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, about an hour and a half’s drive inland from the coast and at about 1300 metres above sea level. It has some of the country’s last remaining Afromontane forest, it is a hiker’s and biker’s paradise, and you’ll certainly find yourself among artists and craft brews, and even fairies if you let your imagination run wild. Bird watchers will delight in the presence of the rare Cape parrot, and wonderful sightings of the bright green, crested Knysna turaco among many others. It can snow in winter, turning the magnificent gardens white and the waterfalls to ice. This is a retreat for fresh air, adventure, imagination, and creativity. The Edge Mountain Retreat is located high up on the Hogsback mountain ridge, at eye level with the top of the cliffs and overlooking a gorge. Aptly named, The Edge, offers a variety of self-catering accommodations in the form of garden cottages and thatched Rondavel-shaped chalets with immense views. Some even have outdoor bath tubs and showers that bring a whole new element to the act of bathing! The gardens are a fantastic mixture of wild, untamed, wilderness, and beautifully nurtured rose beds. The cottages are furnished with simple, comfortable items that provide everything you need and nothing you don’t. They are warm and inviting in the winter with feather down duvets and fire places, and all have either gorgeous garden surroundings or breath-taking views off the mountain. Choose to spend all day on “the edge” and explore the incredible Labyrinth, which at 91 metres in circumference, is one of the largest in the world. Or, amble down to Hogsback village to eat, drink, and be merry! Drakensberg The grand and magnificent mountain...

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The best of South America: top traveller attractions, by region
Jun28

The best of South America: top traveller attractions, by region

South America is a continent simultaneously erupting with ancient history and vibrant, modern culture. It flows from the frosty peaks of the Andes Mountains, to desert landscapes that look like the surface of the moon. It has a vast tropical jungle basin, Caribbean shores, wine country, bohemian port towns, and exotic wildlife. With so much to offer, the biggest question of all is where to begin? It is easiest to break South America down into its four portions, each offering something iconic and different. There’s SO much to choose from and we recommend getting in touch with Liselle, our South America expert, to ask questions about the continent and what will best suit you. Below are some of our top traveller attractions, by region. The North Coast On the Caribbean coastline is the North Coast and the northernmost reaches of the rainforest, where you’ll find Colombia and Venezuela, palm-fringed beaches, the hard evidence of European colonisation and residual African settlements that stem back to the days of slavery. Lifestyles seem lackadaisical, colours are vibrant, history is everywhere, and nature is close by.   Museo del Oro, Bogotá, Colombia: The home of Colombia’s gold heritage. The museum is a testament to the country’s metalwork expertise of the old days when gold was extracted from the earth, reworked into figurines and jewellery and then buried as a gift to the Earth. While much of the south was plundered for gold treasure, Colombia was overlooked for many years and managed to retain its treasures for longer. Today, what remains – some 36 000 pieces – is on display in Museo del Oro where it is guarded by the bank. A truly exquisite exhibition. The Caribbean Coast, Santa Marta, Colombia: This city is the gateway to the northern attractions, including the tropical, sensual coast and El Rodadero beach. Stroll the popular promenade, sit at pavement restaurants and watch the comings and goings of locals and tourists alike. Salsa dancing is present everywhere you look – a part of the culture. Visit the Cathedral Basilicá, which is built on the ground where the oldest Catholic cathedral in Colombia used to stand after it was founded in 1951. Tairona National Park is easily accessed from Santa Marta and is popular because of its sparsely populated, white, sandy beaches and tropical jungle, which spans out below the jagged Sierra Nevada mountains. The Southern Cone The Southern Cone is the name given to the part of South America that has the most European influence and is most frequently travelled. This is where you’ll find Patagonia and its mountainous hiking routes and windswept shores. Chile – wedged between the Pacific Ocean...

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Light and luxurious new look for affordable Zambia safari lodge
Jun19

Light and luxurious new look for affordable Zambia safari lodge

Kafunta River Lodge, one of our most loved South Luangwa safari accommodations, recently received a fresh lick of paint and opened up its living spaces to invite even more of the view right in. The new image is all we look for in a comfortable, soothing safari environment, and given its prime position overlooking the open floodplains, you won’t miss a thing in terms of lodge-based wildlife viewing opportunities! Pick a place to relax, whether it be on your private deck or with friends around the pool, and absorb the wilderness around you. Location South Luangwa is Zambia’s flagship national park, famous for hippos basking on the banks of the Luangwa River, leopards stalking through the dappled shade of riverine trees, begrudgingly sharing their territory with lions – the true kings of the jungle –  while every member of the wild kingdom gives way to the elephants, which naturally dominate the landscape. The park draws visitors from far and wide, and offers up-close encounters with wildlife in the form of game drives and walking safaris, and during the peak season, it can get very busy. Kafunta River Lodge enjoys its own piece of heavenly shade on the floodplain of the Luangwa River away from the bustling Mfuwe area of the park, and has a private pontoon which offers unrivalled access across the river and into national park territory where game drives are conducted. Rooms It is intimate with only 10 rooms – 8 standard safari chalets and 2 luxury suites – all with sublime positioning along the floodplain and enjoying private viewing decks, comfort, and quiet solitude. The chalets have king or twin beds, an ensuite bathroom, private verandah, minibar fridge, and a ceiling fan. They have new floors and new furnishings, and the bathrooms were upgraded as part of the soft make-over. The two suites can be made up to accommodate four people by converting the upstairs alcove (which would ordinarily serve as an exclusive lounge with a view for suite occupants) into a loft bedroom for two additional beds. The thatched suites enjoy added privacy as they are set further away from the main lodge area; plus, they each have a stand-alone bath tub and both an upstairs and ground-level viewing deck. Lodge The spacious main guest area is sprawled out under the dappled shade and a large deck area accommodates space for various lounges, both out in the open and under thatch. There is an extended deck that perches out over the floodplain, which makes for the perfect starlit dining experiences; there is a circular sunken lounge that surrounds a convivial fire place; and there is...

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