Packing for a Safari : Clothes, Gear and Gadgets
May17

Packing for a Safari : Clothes, Gear and Gadgets

We’ve seen plenty of first-time khaki clad travellers disembarking from vehicles wearing pith helmets, hiking boots and heavy-duty clothing to protect them from Africa’s harshest elements. Many travellers come from the bustling lights of the city with a notion that they must be protected from the wild – and being fully outfitted in khaki will surely do the trick.  We do understand that going on safari is an excuse to adorn your wardrobe with a splattering of camo, khaki and green. But there does need to a balance – the idea is not to dress like a Marula tree. Although this is the wild, you are not deserted in the midst of deep, dark and wild Africa. Even the low-budget safari lodges will have slow wifi connections in the midst of the Okavango Delta. Expect rustic Africa with slivers of unexpected extreme luxury and hints of the city life. There is nothing more beautiful and strange than being surrounded by the waterways of the Delta in an untouched paradise, while simultaneously connecting to Instagram. Lodges and camps are well-equipped and will provide and tend to most of your needs, but here’s some advice. Here’s our expert advice on packing for a safari. Digital Gear and Gadgets 1. Pack your best DSLR and a zoom lens. There will be times when the vehicle cannot get close enough to a sighting and your finest zoom will come handy. Most of the time you’re in the game viewer, so it’s the perfect time to bring your heavy camera equipment that is normally a pain to lug around. 2. Tripods are cumbersome and you will be on the vehicle, mekoro or boat while searching for wildlife. To keep your camera steady, think of packing one of those nifty “Gorillagrips” which is a bendable grip that can clip onto one of the bars on a game viewer. It’s also very light and easy to take in your luggage. 3. Your Fitbit is not needed – you will be eating, enjoying sundowners, relaxing at the pool and out on game drive most of the time. Your results will embarrassing. 4. Bring your tablet, camera WiFi connector and laptop if you need it. Most camps have WiFi and you will have plenty of down time during the day to download your photos, edit them and connect to social media. However, we do urge you to step away from the digital world and absorb the world around you. 5. Lodges and camps will have plug-points, but may not supply the correct adaptor and type of plug suited to your country. 6. Bring a headlamp or torch. There may be times when you are...

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The Lowdown of the Serengeti Migration
Feb15

The Lowdown of the Serengeti Migration

The Serengeti migration is one of the world’s most spectacular mass movements of wildlife. The migration comprises thousands of wildebeest moving in a circular pattern on an annual basis. The wildebeest are accompanied by herds of zebra, Thompson’s gazelle, eland, impala and other smaller groups of plains game. Wide open plains are literally littered with wildebeest, and waiting in the wings during the breeding season, are a splattering of powerful predators. The timing of the migration is dependent on rainfall patterns, but annually, wildlife movements and timings are semi-predictable. So why do wildebeest and other game migrate? We speculate it is because plains game seek fresh grazing grounds and access to pristine water. The migration takes place over Tanzania’s Serengeti plains in the south and the Maasai Mara up north in Kenya. While there are hundreds of thousands of wildlife on the move, there are periods of time when they are sedentary, which means a variety of sightings in different regions. The most photographed and iconic images of the migration happen when the herds attempt to cross the Mara River, which sees huge beasts struggling on the banks and jostling to get across the flowing waters. There are times of the year when the herds give birth and times when the herds splinter. If you’re planning a safari to the Serengeti for the migration, you might want to make use of the below timeline and do plenty of other research before you travel to ensure you’re in the right place at the right time. Here is a rough timeline of the Serengeti Migration:  Nov – Dec: This is the beginning and end of the migration route. November sees the start of the rains and the herds are all in the northern part of the Serengeti region. December is when the herds become twitchy. There is still rain but less of it, so herds begin to migrate southwards towards the open plains. Jan – March : This is the time when the herds are sedentary and have settled somewhat in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and spill into the Serengeti National Park. This time of year, the grass and grazing conditions are ideal and there’s an abundance of water. It’s not only wildebeest dotted across the open plains, but also dazzles of zebra and other game. Because herds are sedentary and there’s a wealth of food resources, it’s the ideal time for the females to give birth. Birthing normally happens during February, which means there are plenty of predators about. As heartbreaking as it is, this is the perfect time to see predator action. Accommodation options in this area : Positioned on the lower slopes...

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Exploring Malaria Free Safari Options in South Africa
Oct30

Exploring Malaria Free Safari Options in South Africa

Malaria is the dreaded safari disease, prevalent in many areas throughout Africa and is transmitted through the bite from the Anopheles mosquito. It’s a life-threatening blood disease that destroys red blood cells and is easily preventable by use of prophylactics and being aware. Malaria is a huge concern for visitors to South Africa and while most areas in South Africa are low risk, there’s still a need for visitors to be cautious. Malaria is of particular concern to the elderly and families travelling with small children. Rather to be safe than sorry, we’re going to explore the completely Malaria free safari options in South Africa.  Shamwari Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape The Eastern Cape is the perfect option for visitors who are spending time in Cape Town and don’t wish to travel to further afield. The Cape coastline is rugged with cascading cliffs and beaches. Inland, there are reserves and plenty of open spaces, making this part of the country an exciting adventure capital and picturesque. While there are plenty of Malaria free safari lodges in the Eastern Cape, we hand selected the Shamwari Game Reserve for your Eastern Cape safari. The reserve stretches over five of South Africa’s seven biomes in the Eastern Cape.  It is actually one of the world’s leading wildlife conservation and safari destinations. At Shamwari, there are six luxury lodges, all of which are five star and cater for a range of guests. Eagle’s Crag Lodge is tucked between mountain cliffs and has a romantic ambience. Villa Lobengula is an exclusive villa in the heart of the bushveld, ideal for guests seeking exclusivity and a tailor-made safari experience. For a more laid-back experience, try the Bayethe Tented Lodge – designer canvas safari tents surrounded by lush vegetation. Long Lee Manor overlooks the plains teeming with wildlife and is quite an elegant lodge. The two lodges catering for large families, groups and friends is the Riverdene Family Lodge (complete with a ‘Kids on Safari’ programme) and the Sarili Family Lodge; which overlooks the Bushman’s River. Rhulani Safari Lodge in Madikwe Game Reserve in the North-West Province Rhulani Safari Lodge is located in one of South Africa’s largest reserve, Madikwe in the North-West province. A mere 3 hour drive from Johannesburg, this reserve is ideal for visitors seeking a safari experience up north.  Boasting an abundance of wildlife enjoying the perennial Marico River and roaming the open plains in conjunction with rugged landscapes, Madikwe is the ideal option for game viewing.  Rhulani is located in a peaceful and tranquil setting in the middle of the Madikwe Game Reserve. The private chalets have plunge pools and spacious areas for relaxing. There are seven chalets and...

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Mobile Safari, Luxury Safari or Walking Safari in Africa?
Sep06

Mobile Safari, Luxury Safari or Walking Safari in Africa?

Safari is Swahili for journey. A journey in to the heart of Africa’s safari countries, where high concentrations of game congregate and untouched raw Africa awaits your presence. A sojourn to Africa is a fantastic idea, but everybody’s journey to Africa is different, as it is in life. After narrowing down the country/countries to visit, the next step is work out the type of safari you’d like to go on. Will it be a mobile safari, luxury safari or walking safari in Africa? You might not know what’s involved in each type of safari, but we’re here to help. Here’s the lowdown. Mobile Safari in Africa Mobile safaris are for the adventurous. It’s a great way of exploring a variety of different areas, which are normally inaccessible to those who aren’t camping. You pay a once off rate and select one of the set routes/itinerary. There are levels of mobile safaris – some are more luxurious than others, but there’s a similar thread running through all of them. What to Expect: You spend a specific amount of time in one area before relocating to another pristine sect of land. For the duration of your trip you stay in a combination of fully-equipped tents and, on occasion, lodge accommodation. For the camping section of your safari, tents are set-up prior to your arrival. One can expect a lounge, bar and relaxation area. Expect walking safaris, daily activities and an adventurous experience in a range of pristine areas. Meals are prepared for you while you’re waited on hand and foot by the rest of the team! The best place to do a mobile safari in Africa is Botswana because of its rough terrain, untouched areas and diverse landscape. A mobile safari? Well, that’s just glamping at its finest.  Try Afrika Ecco Mobile Safaris for an authentic, affordable glamping experience that really takes you back to wild living at its finest. Luxury Safari in Africa Private charters, gourmet food, gyms, spa treatments and superb game viewing in the middle of Africa’s bushveld. That pretty much sums up an elite, luxury safari experience. There are a plethora of luxury lodges peppered throughout southern Africa, all offering something unique and their own twist on decor. Lodges require you to remain in a confined area where daily game drives and walks form part of a set daily schedule. When you enjoy a luxury safari in a private reserve, the only thing you’re required to do is relax. Everything else is done for you! What to Expect: Daily game drives, bush walks and sundowners are the standard activities for lodges in private reserves. The more luxurious lodges may have added value activities such as boat...

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Suzelle DIY Visits Mabula Game Lodge
Jul19

Suzelle DIY Visits Mabula Game Lodge

South African YouTube sensation, Suzelle DIY, has brought her hilarious catch phrases, unique outfits, and of course, her best friend, Marianne, to the bush. Suzelle launched her video – What to do on Safari – and had her audience in stitches with her reference to having a pair of ‘goodbye noculars’, a pink ‘bush survival kit’, and introducing us to Ryno of the Bush. All this hilarity took place in South Africa’s pristine Waterberg region in the Mabula Private Game Reserve where Suzelle and Marianne experienced their first safari at Mabula Game Lodge. “Dress like the predator, not the prey” might have explained Suzelle’s glamourous choices in safari outfits, but she proved rather a proficient tracker, and took to the bush on a quad bike, which really blew her hair back… Well, almost. Suzelle asked all the right questions, like ‘where do the animals go to sleep at night’, and made sure she was part of every safari moment, including Marianne and Ryno’s alone time at sunset. You might have noticed the rolling grasslands, leafy thickets, and the magnificent mountain backdrop (nevermind the handsome man in khaki)? This is Mabula Private Game Reserve, where Suzelle and Marianne spent their time on safari. Quad biking, horse riding, interactive bush walks, and Big 5 game drives take place in this unspoilt African wilderness, which is only a couple of hours’ drive from Johannesburg. A conveniently located safari destination that takes you from the hustle and bustle of the city to the tranquil retreat of the Waterberg in one short car journey. Mabula Game Lodge is family friendly, while it also offers the ideal getaway for couples like Marianne and Ryno. It’s designed for adventure – picture taking a 4-wheeler out into the reserve; leisure – imagine walking silently through the wild spotting tracks in the sand and birds overhead; and relaxation – think of aromatic oils and warm towels comforting your muscles and sending you into a peaceful doze. Mabula staff offers baby sitting services, so that care and entertainment can be provided for the youngsters while Mom and Dad take some time out. Mabula celebrates Africa. There are hints of tradition in the safari-chic décor that finishes the thatched buildings and the natural tones that dress the bedrooms. In true African style, meal times are monumental occasions, and Mabula has perfected a combination of colour, dance, flavour, and fun at the dinner table. Out in the open under the wild fig tree, or around a lively boma fire, perhaps in the atmospheric restaurant, or out on the Mvubu Deck overlooking the water – Mabula offers numerous locations for feast and...

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Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Hyenas
Jun26

Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Hyenas

The spotted hyena is a notorious scavenger with a reputation for stealing kills from big cats. They’ll stop at nothing to whisk away a meal from under the noses of predators. However, while being successful scavengers they are also proficient hunters. Hyenas serve a vital role in the ecology of a reserve and help prevent the spread of diseases such as anthrax.  We refer to hyenas as the “clean-up crew” of the safari world. They devour every last morsel of a carrion from a carcass and strip it of meat and bones. Cleaning up meaty morsels which could become disease ridden is always beneficial to the success of a reserve. Here’s why hyenas are amazing creatures: 1. They boast over 14 different vocalisations, each of which form a vital part of their communication strategy. The hilarious high-pitched staccato cackle we’ve come to know and love is actually a sign of anxiety. Even though hyenas are socially cohesive and form clans, when it comes to eating it’s “each man for himself”. When they grab a rib cage from a recent kill, it’s their own food and they’ll giggle nervously to show ownership of their meal. The cackling also indicates they’re being chased or under threat. The famous looping whoop sound is heard in the dead of night and this second most common call heard from hyenas. This is a recruiting call to gather the rest of the clan to together. 2. Hyenas are more closely related to cats than dogs, but they fall under their own family name, Hyaenidae. Their young are referred to as cubs and not pups, despite this species looking quite dog-like in appearance. 3. Hyenas exist in clans and are highly social individuals. Clans are led by testosterone fuelled females who are aggressive in nature. Males rank lower than females and females even have something called a pseudo-penis, which is actually an external birth canal. Females hyenas are often mistaken for males because of their “appendage” and large...

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Top 5 Safari Dos-and-Don’ts
Jun02

Top 5 Safari Dos-and-Don’ts

We could wax lyrical about the many do’s and don’ts of going on safari but today we’ll just stick to five points. The most important thing to remember while you’re traversing wild Africa is to relax and have fun. This is your time to forget the daily stresses of life and to immerse yourself in the sheer beauty of a continent boasting many splendours. You might be anxious about a few things before jetting off on the safari of a lifetime. So, with that in mind, we’ve constructed a short list of the top 5 safari dos-and-don’ts. 1. DO ask questions.  You’ve come on safari to indulge in the spoils of Africa. Whether it’s the stark beauty of the landscape, the spa at your luxurious lodge or the incredible game viewing; it’s all yours. Ask as many questions as you can  – you’re here to learn. When you’re bumbling around in an open-topped game viewer your ranger will often tell you about the medicinal uses of plants, how nature works in harmony with us and how various animals survive in the wild. There is no such thing as a stupid question.  You’ll be amazed at how much you learn on safari! A good time to ask questions is when you’re sitting around the campfire in the evening with your ranger. They love to chat about the day’s sightings. Also, if you’re driving along be sure to point out something your ranger hasn’t spotted. It’s about teamwork out there and a ready exchange of information. 2. DON’T be an armchair conservationist. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and living in a media focussed society means we have access to plenty of false information, misinformed opinions and sensationalist articles about wildlife. Unless you have insight into the ecology and biology of an area, or you have an in-depth knowledge of the reserve you’re in; rather ask questions and “why” if something doesn’t sit well with you. For example, if a lion cub is injured during a buffalo kill and you see it struggling in the wild, don’t scream and shout that the lion cub should be saved. It’s a heartbreaking thing to see and never easy. But consider this for a second – many reserves have a zero interference policy, which means they let nature take its course. If an animal is injured via a man-made issue (i.e poaching) there would be intervention. Also, each species has internal pride/herd dynamics. If you removed a lion cub to “fix it”, it would negatively affect the rest of the pride and have disastrous effects on the dynamics of a cohesive pride. Get the facts from those on the ground...

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