Answering your questions about what can be found in Uganda… and what can’t!
Apr19

Answering your questions about what can be found in Uganda… and what can’t!

Uganda is the perfect in-between and therefore the most popular country for gorilla trekking. It isn’t the elite, exclusive, and expensive primate safari that is offered in Rwanda (but if that’s what you’re after, this comes highly recommended), and it isn’t the most affordable, wilder, and somewhat risky experience offered in the Congo. Uganda’s gorilla trekking safaris take place in the mystical forest of Bwindi and the strictly controlled experience means your encounter will be of the highest quality. You can find out all you need to know about this specialised and, yes, life-altering activity in our detailed blog post here. What we want to do in this article is answer some other frequently asked animal related questions about this country they call The Pearl of Africa. What is the national animal of Uganda? This prestigious title goes to the Uganda kob, a subspecies of the kob antelope. Kobus Kob thomasi has reddish-brown fur with prominent white markings around each eye and a patch on the throat. The males are adorned with lyre-shaped horns, ringed just about all the way up. They are quite similar to the puku and the red lechwe, which are two of southern Africa’s wetland loving antelope, also related to the waterbuck. The Uganda kob shares that classic heart-shaped nose like others in the Kobus genus. They like open grassland habitats close to permanent water and they hang around in herds of up to about 40. In Uganda, one of the best places to see these handsome animals that appear on the country’s coat of arms is in Murchison Falls National Park. Perfectly rolling hills of green and plenty of water in the form of the Nile River that bisects it. Definitely a special sight to see! Are there tigers in Uganda? Negative! Tigers might be part of the Felidae family, which includes African specials like lion, cheetah, and leopard, but they don’t roam the savannah like their cat cousins. Tigers migrated to Asia all those thousands of years ago, and they thrive in the jungles of India, but that is not to say they are abundant. Sadly, tigers are some of the most threatened big cats in the world and there are only an estimated 3000 that remain in the wild. India, China, Russia, Nepal, Indonesia and among the tiger’s native countries, and historically these cats could live in a broad variety of habitats, including the savannah, but over 90% of this cat’s habitat has been lost to human activity, and they are still at risk of poaching. You won’t find a tiger in Uganda, but you can travel to India’s Ranthambore and Kanha National...

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Kruger Birding Safari : The Elegant Eagles
Apr04

Kruger Birding Safari : The Elegant Eagles

There are over 500 species of feathered friends fluttering about the Greater Kruger, just waiting to be observed and photographed. Seasonal migrants, endangered species, waders, raptors and passerines all form part of the plethora of birdlife found in the iconic Kruger region. Birders flock (pun intended) to the Kruger to find those lifers and rare birds; ticking off species when they return to camp from game drive. Spotting big game is, undoubtedly, an exciting and enthralling experience, but there really is nothing better than birdwatching. If you’re going on a Kruger birding safari, you probably have a few birds on your personal list that you’d identify and a few calls you’re dying to hear live and not from your tinny sounding app. Birder, twitcher or budding ornithologist, there’s plenty to keep your bird brain (joke) occupied! One of our favourite family of bird is the eagle, of which there are many species. Here are 3 of our favourite eagles worth seeking out in the wild :  Martial Eagles The Martial eagle is Africa’s largest eagle and boasts a wingspan of a whopping 2.6 m from tip-to-tip. This majestic raptor is the shy silent type, but its power should not be underestimated. The Martial exudes strength and agility, and feeds mainly on medium sized prey such as reptiles, other birds and small mammals. This raptor spends most of its day sourcing prey – it sits silently in trees earmarking its next target, or takes to the skies to identify terrestrial prey. Once targeted, the eagle uses the element of surprise to attack. The Martial eagle swoops down at such speed, and ambushes its prey. It uses its massive wingspan to angle its body in the direction it needs to go. The bare leadwood trees appear to be a favourite place for these birds to roost, and they build nests some 60 feet off the ground. The next time you see a hefty nest straddling a leadwood, or on the steep cliff faces, look out for a Martial eagle. You’ll identify the bird of prey by its markings of a white underbelly and brownish upper parts. You may even hear its call, which sounds like an excited whistle. The Martial eagle is a large, looming and rather regal raptor – a definite awe-inspiring birding sighting in the Kruger. Tawny Eagle The tawny eagle is another large, solitary eagle commonly spotted in the Kruger. Interestingly enough, this eagle is more of a scavenger than predator and is often spotted feasting on succulent meaty scraps and carrion. The tawny eagle has a lot in common with our vultures, but wins hands down in...

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Africa’s Wildlife : 4 Facts About Hefty Hippos
Mar31

Africa’s Wildlife : 4 Facts About Hefty Hippos

By now you know all about the big five – we’ve certainly given these animals ample air time over the past few months. But there is SO much more to spot while on safari, and the list is endless when it comes to the variety of species to observe in their expansive habitats. From small critters to large beasts, they’re all equally fascinating. All wildlife co-exists perfectly in the wild. Whether they’re in the predator or easy prey category, everything has its role. And if even the smallest of creatures were to be eradicated, it would certainly affect the bushveld’s delicate biome. One of the colossal beasts that provides plenty of entertaining and amusing sightings in the wild is the hippo, found in abundance in reserves that have waterholes, lakes, pans and placid rivers. Let’s look at 4 facts about hefty hippos and find out about their role in the wild. Role of the hippo in the wild  Hippos are important to the health of lakes, waterholes and river systems. They digest bulk quantities of vegetation – in excess of 40kg – and release it into their watery domain. Their faeces actually contain plenty of nutrients and acts as a natural fertiliser. Hippos come out of the water at night to graze of tropical and riverine vegetation, acting as a natural lawnmower. Not only are they natural vegetation trimmers, but they also successfully fertilize surrounding lands. Interestingly enough, some aquatic animals feast on the dung and certain fish feast on the bugs in the dung. Hippos don’t swim, they walk in water The word hippopotamus actually means “water horse” or “river horse” in Greek. Hippos are similar to horses in that they sort of “gallop” across the bottom of their watery domain. Yes, that’s right. Hippos don’t actually swim! They tend to float and wade and do this by leveraging their own buoyancy. The semi-aquatic beasts have the ability to control their own breathing and their body position. If they sink to the bottom, they use the floor to propel themselves forward in more of a gallop fashion than a swim session. They’re vicious and aggressive Hippos are excessively territorial and go to great lengths to guard their domain. Despite their size, they can charge when under duress. Hippos actually kill more people in Africa than any other animal, second to the mosquito (Malaria). This is partly because the waterways and rivers are utilized by many locals and their traditional transportation methods. Humans and hippos live within close proximity, and hippos – unlike other animals – don’t retreat with ease. Word of warning – do not approach a hippo or...

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Small but Ruthless. 3 Ridiculously Psychopathic Insects to Spot on Safari. 
Mar28

Small but Ruthless. 3 Ridiculously Psychopathic Insects to Spot on Safari. 

In the wild, we focus on finding the apex predators and rejoice when we spot the almighty carnivores executing well-planned kills. Their gory feasts and kill tactics are nothing short of callous, and observing these top-of-the-food-chain predators shredding crimson flesh is always a rather primitive experience. But, these large carnivores have nothing on the heartless kill tactics employed by those bugs and critters at ground level, where the fight for existence is tough and brutal. The ground dwellers are generally harmless to humans, but there are insects that have far crueller ways of devouring prey than our big cats. These are the insects and arachnids that liquefy their prey’s flesh, turn internal organs into mushy juice and paralyse victims. Their murderous modus operandi.  If there’s a jostle for the most psychopathic insects to spot on safari, these 3 would surely win.  The Spider Hunting Wasp The spider-hunting wasp is not just any wasp. This guy behaves like a serial killer and puts Jeffrey Dahmer to shame when it comes to feeding and laying its eggs. To us humans, these low-flying long-legged wasps are non-aggressive and harmless; but the spiders they’re the feared enemy. Easily identifiable by their black bodies and occasional aposematic markings, these wasps are fascinating to observe – especially when they find their chosen spider.  Here’s why they’re fascinating, cruel and ingenious all at the same time. These wasps are solitary and hide out in burrows, which are also their nesting areas – and dungeons. Spider hunting wasps seek out their arachnid victims and then promptly inject a potent venom than physically paralyses them – but in a cruel twist, the spider is actually still alive. It’s tricky to fight off a spider-hunting wasp because of its ability to manoeuvre so quickly. These wasps are like mini-helicopters, hovering above their spider, just waiting for the perfect time to strike. The wasp subsequently drags its full compos mentis but immobilised prey to its burrow where it lays a single into the abdomen. The wasp ensures the burrow is closed, and its victim cannot escape. It gets worse. After 10 days or so, the larva inside the spider’s abdomen begins to hatch and begins feeding on the inside of the spider. At this stage, the spider is still alive! The youngin’ basically eats its way out of the spider, then spins a cocoon and emerges from the burrow as a fully-fledged adult, ready to make a kill of its own. Steven King would have a field day creating a script based on the antics of the ever-fascinating spider-hunting wasp. Do not fear this wasp, but do not bring a pet spider any circumstances. ...

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Learn About Lions Before Going on Safari
Mar14

Learn About Lions Before Going on Safari

Kings of the jungle, protectors of the bushveld and guardians of the night. Lions are our regal and powerful cats that dominate their kingdoms with power and vigour. They’re one of the big five, and have certainly earned their rank as being the top predator in the wild. As a species, they’re pride orientated and command respect from their onlookers. A perfect enigmatic mix of gruesome, ruthless and loving. Lion pride dynamics are constantly shifting, and today we’re going to discuss why, and we’ll let our safari-goers in on a few secrets about these deep-chested cats! Lion Lifestyle: Females and sub-adults remain in prides, males leave to form coalitions Like most male species in the animal kingdom, male lions are the wandering bachelors. Females stay within their natal prides and rarely leave their sisterhood. If it’s a mega-pride, you might find a few breakaway females forming a sub or mini pride. When young males come of age, they are filled with a wild eagerness to procreate, and they also have a dangerous level of aggressive testosterone, which the females and their youngsters can’t cope with. As a result, these coming-of-age youngsters are kicked out of the pride at age 2 – 3. The brazen youngsters are expected to establish their own territories, and ultimately find a pride to call their own – how they go about doing this can be quite tumultuous and cruel, with many duels ending in death. The end goal with male lions is to increase their bloodline by finding available females with which to mate, and eliminating competition by any means possible. Youngsters that have been ousted – often brothers – form a tight-knit coalition. They spend their days patrolling, pushing boundaries, and confronting or fleeing from already established male lions. You will often see 2 males strutting together in the wild, or patrolling in the dead of the night seemingly with no pride or connection. They don’t spend much time with their prides because they have land to protect. Prides normally comprise related females and their young (male and female); and a dominant male or two that might also reign over other prides. Lion pride dynamics are constantly changing. New males come in and chase off reigning kings, young males grow up and create new prides, and the dynamics become complex. Lion Hunting Skills: The take-down is well-formulated Lions hunt in prides and their skills in the wild are admirable. The have well-formulated plan before they head in for the attack. Each lion has a role to play before the charge takes place, and positions are quite similar to that of a football team. Individuals...

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Going on Safari in Botswana? We Answer Your FAQs.
Mar14

Going on Safari in Botswana? We Answer Your FAQs.

Famed for its abundant big game, scores of predators and rare species of bird, Botswana most certainly offers its visitors the opportunity to observe a spectacle of wildlife in a pristine location. The country is home to a diverse eco-system and unique biome, brimming with water wonderlands such as the Chobe River and Okavango Delta and authentic desert location such as the semi-arid Kalahari desert. Botswana is hemmed in by 4 countries, which means it enjoys contrasting scenes and a range of remarkable habitats. Lest we not forget the forests, salt pans and national parks dotted across the flat country! Sparse, lush, mysterious and exciting – Botswana is a world in one! Armed with the knowledge that this is an exceptional destination, you’ve now set your sights on going on safari in Botswana. And we’re pretty sure you have plenty of questions. We’ve extracted the most commonly asked FAQs, and answered them as best we can. When can you visit Okavango Delta? The Okavango Delta is a permanent body of water and is a year-round safari destination. During the drier months (May-Sep) the tributaries have less water and the vegetation is thinner. This does make it easier to spot game on the banks of the Delta, and it’s also the time of year when the temperatures are more moderate. June – August provide the best opportunities for boating and canoe safaris  – this is when the water level is higher. Do I need shots to go to Botswana? The most common vaccinations that travellers get prior to travelling to Botswana is Typhoid and Hepatitis A.  Typhoid injections are recommended, but not a necessity. Just make sure you’re up to date with all of your standard shots. You could also invest in getting a tetanus booster prior to travelling. Malaria is prevalent in most safari regions in Africa, so we recommend you take precautions. Chat to your local GP about the various preventative measures on offer. Do I need a yellow fever certificate for Botswana? Botswana does not require a yellow fever certificate. However – if you are travelling from a country that has a high risk of yellow fever (Uganda for example), then you will need to produce your certificate upon arrival. If you arrive from international destinations such as the UK and US, you most certainly won’t need a certificate. Do I need a visa for Botswana from the UK? It’s always best to consult with your embassy to confirm what entry visa you will need when travelling to another country. The current entry regulations state that British nationals do not need a visa to enter Botswana for stays of up to 90 days....

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Forget the Big 5 ! Look Out for These Endangered Animals to Spot on Safari
Mar10

Forget the Big 5 ! Look Out for These Endangered Animals to Spot on Safari

IUCN list assigns a conservation status to species whose numbers are facing a decline in the wild. The assigned category is dependent on a number of criteria, but it mainly has to do with the rate of the declining numbers. Our reserves and concessions within southern Africa provide the perfect natural habitat for a number of vulnerable and endangered species to thrive; and even increase their population if human encroachment, disease and wildlife crime are kept at a minimum. These elusive species are often to tricky find in the wild (for obvious reason), but when spotted our guides and guests are always encouraged to revel in the moment and exercise gratitude when in the company of such rare animals. Our endangered animals to spot on safari include ground hornbills, African wild dogs, pangolins and black rhino.  Let’s find out why these species are on the decline, and also why it’s so hard to find them in the wild. African Wild Dogs Status: Endangered  The African wild dog is a nomadic species that covers a wide range and is only really sedentary during the denning period. Not only are they endangered, but they also have a huge home range, which makes it near impossible to guarantee sightings. The denning period sees the highest recorded number of sightings in the wild, and it’s during this period of time that sightings can be consistent. Wild dogs have a number of complex reasons as to why their numbers are declining, most of which are due to natural fluctuation in their population numbers. Inbreeding in wild dogs has also contributed the fluctuation in numbers, with a current life expectancy of only 6 years. Wild dogs experience conflict with cattle farmers, human activities (getting caught in snares) and succumb to infectious disease when they come into contact with domestic animals. These factors all play a massive part in the decline in numbers of these gregarious animals. Ground Pangolin Status: Vulnerable  The pangolin (scaly anteater) is one of the most critically endangered species in the world. According to IUCN, the ground pangolin found in southern Africa is considered vulnerable, and this status is largely due to illegal wildlife trafficking. The pangolin is hunted for its meat and scales, and used in all sorts of make-believe medicine. Ultimately, we humans are responsible for the plummeting numbers in this prehistoric looking creature. It’s near impossible for the pangolin to breed prolifically and catch up to the rate at which they’re being poached. Pangolins are shy, solitary animals that have a slow breeding rate. They only breed once a year and give birth to one pangopup at a time. It is believed that...

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