Lake Bogoria in Kenya is Pink Because of its Flamingo Population
Jun02

Lake Bogoria in Kenya is Pink Because of its Flamingo Population

A rippling lake sparkles with hues of blues, reflections of green and deep graphite colours. These are the spectrum of colours you would associate with the colour of a lake. Whether it’s Lake Tanganyika, Lake Malawi or even Lake Victoria; their common denominator is that they all fall within the same colour spectrum at first glance. One of the Great African Lakes that falls out of the normal-colour-of-lakes category is Lake Bogoria in the northern Kenyan Rift Valley that forms part of the Lake Bogoria National Reserve. Between August – October Lake Bogoria turns a shade of pink, and upon first seeing the lake you will notice an expansive sea of pink. Upon closer inspection you will notice those dots of pink candy-floss are actually a flamboyance of lesser flamingoes. Lake Bogoria is a fascinating geographical marvel. The lake is dotted with hot springs and geysers on the western shore, which is caused by geothermal activity. The water source of Lake Bogoria is derived from the heavy rains during the green season and from the numerous hot springs feeding into the lake. The lake does not flow into the sea or follow any river course. The water simply dissipates during the dry season from the excessive heat, and leaves behind a massive area with a high salinity level. When the water levels begin to drop, that’s when the flamingoes flock to the shores. August – October is the time to visit this area if you’d like to witness this wildlife spectacle. However – Lake Bogoria is worth a visit, given that it is has the highest number of natural geysers in Africa. Another recommended time of year to visit is during the drier season, which is peak safari season in Africa. The rainy season disappears which means so does the availability of reliable water sources. Wildlife will flock to the shores of the many lakes and waterholes in their surrounding habitat as it’s their only source of water. With the fluctuating rains and volatile climatic conditions, the chemistry of the lake can change which always sees an influx of unique wildlife – or none at all when the salt levels are too high. We recommend staying at the Lake Bogoria Hotel which has a variety of accommodation options. Lake Bogoria is dramatic, fascinating and most certainly worth a visit.    ...

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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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Know Before You Go : 4 Facts About a Giraffe’s Eating Habits
May28

Know Before You Go : 4 Facts About a Giraffe’s Eating Habits

The giraffe is the world’s tallest terrestrial animal and thrives on a diet of fresh greens. These curious creatures tower above the bushveld and, despite their  gangly appearance and awkward gait, they move with ease through their environment. They survive in arid landscapes, savanna and open plains; and vary in size and colour depending on their region. The next time you’re in a game viewer and come across a giraffe devouring greenery, take a moment to observe their eating habits. Here are 4 facts about a giraffe’s eating habits that will ensure you have a deeper understanding of their dietary habits. 1. Giraffe don’t need to compete for food. Giraffe are browsers that feed off fresh shoots and leaves, and their height advantage means they have access to plenty of foliage that other herbivores cannot reach. There’s not much competition for food sources with these delightfully curious terrestrial animals. The only other animal that can reach into the giraffe feeding zone is the elephant. The pachyderms stretch upwards and reach branches with their trunks, also allowing them to grapple lush greens outside of the zone of other browsers. Male giraffe are always in an enviable position given that are almost always taller than their female counterparts! 2. Giraffe eat old bones. When herbivores animals eat bones, it is commonly referred to as osteophagia.  The reason for digesting such unpalatable items is purely to supplement their diet with calcium and phosphorus. If their diet lacks in nutrients giraffe will bend down to the ground to scrounge for old bones. They will then chew/twirl the bones in their mouth to extract as many minerals as possible. 3. Giraffe’s favourite food is acacia. But acacia trees talk.  The bushveld is dotted with African acacia trees which have juicy leaves and a thorny spine. Giraffe use their prehensile tongue to grip the leaves and extract the greenery without disturbing the thorny bits. Because this is their favourite meal, it means that our tall creatures tend to journey towards belts of acacia. Acacia will release an excess of tannins when under threat from overfeeding, and this compound leaves the greenery tasting incredibly bitter. The other trees will recognise the tannin release as an alarm system and follow suit. Giraffe activate the natural alarm system in acacia trees – a truly fascinating fact! 4. When a giraffe drinks water, it’s quite a process.  Giraffe only drink every few days and gain most of their moisture from their herbivorous diet. When they do drink they approach their water source with caution. They scan their environment for potential threats, hesitate, stand for a while and then make a decision...

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Celebrating the Powerful Females of the Bushveld
Apr22

Celebrating the Powerful Females of the Bushveld

Males in the animal kingdom are celebrated for their warrior status and their ability to protect their domain and females. Filled with testosterone and eager to engage in ruthless showdowns and battles of epic proportions, there’s no stopping our males. They are the guardians and soldiers of the landscape constantly seeking a king like status. Asserting dominance from an early age can be seen with young elephant bulls play fighting, young waterbuck engaging in pushing, and sub-adult lions being ousted and encouraged to find their own way in the wild. In the wild there dwells the equally powerful female species, not quite as aggressive and dominant in their pursuit of land and prey, but equally as remarkable as their male counterparts. And some of these female species completely rule their clans, herds and are even the driving force of species success in the bushveld. Here are 3 of our most powerful females of the ‘veld. Some are dominant in their herds, while others take on the all important matriarchal role. Elephants Elephants are raised in a matriarchal herds, which means the young are raised by related females within the herd. The sub-adults teach the newborns how to navigate obstacles in the wild, and tend take on a “nannying” role. The bond in elephant herds is strong and they’re led by the oldest and often largest female in the herd. Young elephants enjoy protection from all the females within the herd, from cousins to aunts and more. As the young bulls get older they will spend time attempting to assert their dominance by engaging in sparring matches. These matches will take place in water as it cushions the blow and makes for a great soft landing. When the bulls reach sexual maturity they will leave the herd at 12 – 15 years where they will seek out a solitary lifestyle or get together with other bachelors to form loose associations for periods of time. It’s the females that stay within the herd. Spotted Hyena The female of the species is larger and more aggressive than her male counterpart. She even has a “pseudo penis” which makes it hard to distinguish between a male and female species when out on game drive. This appendage is actually an external clitoris through which they give birth. Hyenas operate in clans and the females, with their high levels of testosterone, lead the clans with their power and aggression. They have a matrilineal social system, which means the lineage is traced through the female and not male. The bone crushing ones to fear? The females – not the males. Lionesses Our rather robust lionesses aren’t necessarily...

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The Buffalo is the Most Dangerous of the Big Five. Here’s Why.
Apr08

The Buffalo is the Most Dangerous of the Big Five. Here’s Why.

You’d be forgiven that buffalo are merely large bovids resembling cows with irregular battle-scarred helmets. These giant herbivores give the appearance of being unassuming, placid and rather sedentary cow like creatures. They certainly don’t have the big cat carnivorous menacing streak that alerts us to danger. Buffalo bulk graze their way through the bushveld with ease, with their designated pathfinder leading them to pristine waters for lengthy drinking sessions. They’re just herd herbivores casually hoofing it through the ‘veld.  Hardly looking like warriors and fearless fighters, buffaloes are often overlooked in favour of finding dangerous predators. Do not be fooled by the above. And do not think that the buffalo is placid. They play a dangerous game, one that ensured their place in Africa’s big five, a term coined years ago to categorise the most dangerous game to hunt on foot. Nowadays the big five is is simply a marketing descriptor for the big game and elusive cats that safari-goers eagerly seek to find.  Buffalo Never Forgive. They will Find you.  Just like Liam Neeson’s favourite line from “Wanted”, buffalo “Will find you and will kill you”. Okay, that’s possibly a bit extreme, but you get the drift. Back in the bygone era when hunting the big five was a “thing” it was said that the buffalo killed more hunters in Africa than any other animal. When wounded, they become aggressive and angry. They would seek revenge on the hunter and even remember the encounter  the following day. If wounded they would circle around their enemy and counter-attack, instead of fleeing. Do not anger a buffalo if you cross their path, they will charge instead of fleeing ! A mother protecting her calf can be dangerous, a wounded buffalo can be lethal and an old bull past its prime is nothing short of insecure and grumpy.   Buffalo Give No Indication of Emotion. Prior to a lion charging they might give a warning roar and will stalk their prey. The pride might begin to circle prior to ambush. An elephant mock charges, flays its ears and makes a noise. Even rhino will give an indication of charging, with black rhino being particularly territorial and aggressive. With buffalo, they remain statue like before suddenly charging and trampling everything in its wake. There is simply no indication or behavioural changes before a buffalo charges. Buffalo are Bulky and Charge at Speeds of Up to 50 km. The Cape buffalo charges at an average 50 km per hour. They will target you and charge immediately once they’ve locked their eyes upon you. At the last minute he will drop his head, and by then it’s too...

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The Endurance Athletes (Dogs) Vs The Sprinters (Cats)
Mar13

The Endurance Athletes (Dogs) Vs The Sprinters (Cats)

Both our canine and feline species are supreme running athletes, but differ vastly in their natural discipline. Our dogs are the marathon runners and our cats are the sprinters; and both have the physical characteristics and adaptations that allow them to be Olympic gold medallists in their field. This crucial part of their body that allows for the difference in running style between species is primarily in the structure of their spine, and of course a ligament that is similar to the nuchal ligament. Cat’s have a flexible spine which allows them to enjoy all sorts of positions and indulge in agile play, and they lack the proverbial nuchal ligament. The role of this ligament is to stabilise the head and spine, which is needed when exerting your body over marathon distances, something which cats don’t do. Wild dogs, for example, hunt via a method called coursing which basically means they chase their prey until the point of exhaustion, and then disembowel them. Cats have a more refined style of hunting – they observe their target, stalk, sprint for a short distance and then pounce. Our marathon runners prefer to run in a group. Basically dogs are pack animals and generally quite gregarious. Wild dogs in particular thrive in a pack and are actually cooperative breeders, which means the entire pack helps to raise the young pups; while the alpha pair are in charge. The alphas are also the only ones that breed. Cats vary between pride life and solitary life, with lions being pride orientated cats. But even in lion prides, the sub-adult males are ousted from their family pride. This is so that they can learn the techniques and skills required to be a potential king. Lion brothers and other sub-adults that have been ousted will often form coalitions. The marathon runners and sprinters, different in their physical structure are also different in their lifestyle and execution of kills.        ...

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Meet the Olympic Athletes of the Safari World
Jan12

Meet the Olympic Athletes of the Safari World

The athletes of the safari world are the undisputed champions of speed, agility and strength. Being a top class athlete means being proficient in the art of physical activity, having a competitive streak and genetics that ensure you’re pre-disposed to specific sports. We have plenty of athletes in the animal kingdom, and it’s impossible to list each species’ specific skill-set, but there are those that stand out from the crowd – and these are the animals that we tend to spot on a regular basis while on safari. These are the animals that we consider the Olympic athletes of the safari world, the ones that have mastered the art of speed and are our natural born Usain Bolts. Of course, special mention needs to go to the animals that reach unexpected speeds while on the move. The cumbersome hippo can give chase, despite its size. The endangered wild dogs are endurance runners that keep a steady fast pace while giving chase to their unfortunate quarry. The top 5 awards for the category of speed and sprints goes to : Ostrich The ostrich is the largest flightless bird native to Africa and is commonly spotted throughout most of South Africa. Seen in bushveld regions and nature reserves in coastal regions, the ostrich is quite an adaptable bird. The ostrich can reach average maximum speeds of up to 70 km per hour and maintain this top speed for up to 2 km. Spotted : Throughout southern Africa Peregrine Falcon Although not a land animal, we had to make special mention of this graceful yet ruthless raptor that is the fastest bird in the world. These birds breed in cliffs and ravines, and are most likely spotted in areas where rocky landscapes are prevalent. The peregrine falcon can reach speeds of up to 410 km ! Its diving speed is well over 240 km and it attacks its prey while in the air. Their intended victim doesn’t see what’s coming and the Peregrine is often referred to as the “bird-killer” of the birding world. Quite a reputation ! Spotted : Throughout southern Africa Cheetah It’s common knowledge that the cheetah is the world’s fastest sprinter, and would no doubt bring home the gold in any Olympics. They can reach speeds of up to 120 km per hour and need an open area relatively obstacle free before taking chase. Their long tail acts as a rudder and also provides the much needed balance when high speeds are reached. Cheetah need to take a breather shortly after conducting a kill because they have no energy left to eat. Strength and fight they don’t possess,...

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