African Safari Consultants Wed, 22 Feb 2017 09:27:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A weekend in the New York of Africa – Johannesburg Wed, 22 Feb 2017 09:16:00 +0000 Read More]]> I recently spent a long weekend in Johannesburg which describes itself as ‘The New York of Africa’. Having been born and raised in Johannesburg and then spending six years in New York I was intrigued by the description.

Like New York, Johannesburg is big – in fact it is the 5th largest city in Africa with an estimated population of 5 million. Johannesburg sprung up as a result of the discovery of gold in 1886 and is the largest city in the world not located on a river, lake or next to the ocean.

Where to stay

The Four Seasons Westcliff Hotel is a must-visit on the Westcliff Ridge for its gorgeous spa and spectacular vistas. I enjoyed a wonderful cappuccino overlooking the old Johannesburg Zoo established in 1904. Growing up as a child in Westcliff I used to listen to the lions roaring at night – a tamed version of Africa from their zoo enclosures.The WestcliffeThe Four Season’s Westcliff has great views over leafy suburbs

The Saxon Hotel is another fabulous hotel to stay at. It is here where Nelson Mandela wrote his autobiography ‘Long walk to Freedom’.  


The Saxon Boutique Hotel is a luxurious retreat with award winning restaurants and a spa


The Gautrain is a shining example of the modernity of this African city and I was impressed by its efficiency cleanliness and easy accessibility from the airport. I almost got a R700 fine for taking a sip of my bottles water as no drinking or eating is allowed on the gleaming station platform!

Because time was limited I decided to re-discover my home town and go sightseeing on the Hop on Hop Off bus.


The Sightseeing Hop on Hop Off bus is a great way to get an overview of the city and to then decide where you want to stop off and spend more time.

I did the Red City Day Tour which included 11 stops. The highlights were :

The Origins Centre at Wits University Centre  which tells the story of the origin and evolution of human beings in southern Africa and houses a huge array of artefacts and rock art.

The Carlton Centre  which is still the highest building in Africa towering 50 stories above the Highveld.

The City Centre in Braamfontein  with its Street Art and the Maboneng Precinct.

Constitution Hill is a conglomeration of historic buildings telling the story of South Africa’s transition from Apartheid to Democracy including the Constitutional Court and prison where both Nelson Mandela and Ghandi were imprisoned.

Gold Reef City  is perfect for children as it is an amusement park built around the gold mining history of Johannesburg.

The Apartheid Museum has recently been voted the best museum in Africa and the building was designed to resemble the prison-like conditions of Robben Island. Visitors can expect a two hour emotional journey exploring the rise and demise of Apartheid so be sure to build enough time into your itinerary. Tours are not recommended for under 12’s.

For those wishing to visit the famous township of Soweto and see where Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Tutu lived, there is an extension tour departing from certain stops on the hour.


The museum documents the history of Apartheid in South Africa


Johannesburg is known for its gorgeous gardens which are much in evidence. It also has over 7 million planted trees. There are plenty of fabulous malls as well as neighbourhood hubs in Johannesburg’s wealthy Northern suburbs.

Sandton City and Hyde Park have world-class shopping featuring all the top brand names and at the Rosebank Mall in between a shopping break one can pop into the first Starbucks in Africa for a caffeine boost

Greenside has a great restaurant strip with food from all over the world. We enjoyed very good Thai noodles.

Parkview is located near the Zoo Lake which is a great place to go for an afternoon stroll. Parkview has a sweet village atmosphere where not much has changed over the past fifty years.  We popped in for excellent coffee at one of the many coffee shops and restaurants lining this tree covered avenue strip.

One of the similarities between Johannesburg and New York is that the inhabitants are very proud of their city. Both are vibrant, creative hubs and a few day in Johannesburg is a great introduction to the powerhouse of Africa before going on safari or down to the more tranquil beauty of the Cape.johannesburg shopping

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Tanzania & Zanzibar Honeymoons: Why You Should Go Fri, 03 Feb 2017 10:22:44 +0000 Read More]]> As honeymoon fantasies go, an authentic safari resplendent with gorgeous African sunsets, is very definitely near the top of the wish list for many soon-to-be-married couples.

Another hope high on the honeymoon hit list quite often tends toward tropical beaches, with tepid azure waters lapping onto powdery white shores.

The solution, a combined bush and beach safari, taking in both the extraordinary wilderness of Tanzania, along with the intoxicating charms of the nearby ‘Spice Islands’ of carefree Zanzibar.

Tanzania plays host to no less than seven of the world’s heritage sites, most notably, Ngorongoro Crater, the Serengeti, and the Selous Game Reserve, all of which offer utterly incomparable safari prospects for honeymooners, including entirely enchanting camps and lodges to suit every imaginable romantic taste and desire.


Combine the extraordinary wilderness of Tanzania with…


the ‘Spice Islands’ of carefree Zanzibar.

For the safari part, choose from : 

The Ngorongoro Crater

Set in the highlands of Northern Tanzania, the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera, the Ngorongoro Crater, is home to the highest density of big game in Africa, amongst which, Africa’s legendary Big Five of elephant, rhino, lion, leopard, and buffalo.

One of the most fertile and richest grazing grounds in Africa, the lush Ngorongoro Crater, is also one of the most beautiful natural wildlife safari sites on earth, a veritable auditorium of animal life and drama.

Perched high on the rim of this vast crater, the opulent French baroque style andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is a downright decadent lodge offering 30 private stilted suites in three luxuriously furnished camps … all camps boasting fine silks, plush brocades, ornate antiques, gilded mirrors, elaborate crystal chandeliers, and exquisitely stylish wall panels

Private balconies proffer jaw-dropping views over the crater, claw-foot bath tubs sprinkled with rose petals entice you to take a long soak, and butlers at each camp ensure your personal wellbeing.

Sip champagne, enjoy fine dining, savour sundowners overlooking the crater, both day and night.

Ngorongoro-Crater-Lodge-romantic dinner

andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is a feast for the senses, a perfect choice for a honeymoon.


Positioned right on the edge of the crater, go wild, treat yourselves at Ngorongoro Crater Lodge

The Serengeti

The vast open plains of the Serengeti are in turn one of the most famous destinations for a safari in Africa, and just plain perfect for a honeymoon. The immense, open grasslands epitomise for many, what Africa is all about, and deliver a breathtaking backdrop to the annual wildebeest (and zebra) migration, punted by many as ‘the Greatest Wildlife Show on Earth’.

For a taste of a bygone era of African safari, andBeyond Serengeti Under Canvas, offers extravagant camping in luxury Bedouin style tents, the very quintessential of Meryl Streep’s quixotic ‘Out of Africa’.

A mere nine tents make up two individual mobile ‘under canvas’ camps, all tents with large beds, lavish linens and flush loos. The camp itself is dazzles with Indian rugs, polished brass chandeliers, silver- and crystal-ware, and evokes safari romance from every angle. A private butler service perfects this honeymoon picture.

For a more current option, a contemporary and organic interpretation of a classic safari lodge, the stunning riverine Singita Faru Faru Lodge has intimacy, luxury and excellent game viewing in abundance. Singita Faru Faru has nine modern and incredibly spacious suites, the front of which are completely glass, which if desired, at the touch of a button, can easily slide open.

Unexpected, sumptuous, unreservedly enchanting and whole-heartedly romantic, Singita Faru Faru truly is a honeymoon dream.

Singita faru Faru horseriding

The epitome of an adventurous safari honeymoon is game viewing on horseback in Singita’s Grumeti Reserve

singita faru faru

Views forever across the Serengeti plains at Singita Faru Faru

The Selous

One of the largest faunal reserves of the world, the mighty Selous Game Reserve is densely populated with a spectacular myriad of wildlife. Unique for the diversity and numbers of animals to be sighted, elephants, hippopotami, African wild dogs, Cape buffalos, as well as crocodiles, are all relatively easy to locate in the reserve, as well as to capture on film.

Once again, outstanding honeymoon accommodation is to be found here, in the form of the Azura Selous Tented Camp

For intrepid travellers who like to travel to remote corners of the planet but desire style and luxury.  There are 12 air conditioned tented villas with opulent stone bathrooms and private plunge pools. Each villa is gorgeously furnished, with luxurious soft linens and decks with unsurpassed views of the reserve. For honeymoon romance and relaxation, retreat to your deck or the edge of the infinity pool, sip a cocktail, and soak up the fantasy wilderness vistas.

Float ethereally in a hot air balloon over the vast plains of Africa at dawn, relish an intimate dinner beneath star-studded velvet skies, take in unrivaled views whilst delighting in a romantic picnic on the savannas of the Serengeti, discover the beautiful people of the Masai tribe … or time your honeymoon to coincide with the great wildebeest migration … Tanzania really does offer newlyweds the ultimate in both thrilling wildlife encounters and  ‘Out of Africa’  romance.

Azura Selous Luxury Tented Camp

Safari chic style at Azura Selous Luxury Tented Camp


After a day on safari, enjoy a candlelit dinner serenaded by the sounds of the African bush

For the beach part, choose Zanzibar! 

After a somewhat dusty, often rigorous, but always remarkable wildlife encounter in the game reserves of Tanzania, what could possibly be more magical than time spent lolling on languid silvery beaches next to the balmy ocean, relishing freshest seafood landed by local fisherman, enjoying guided tours in forests of spice trees … or snorkeling crystal clear water alongside brilliantly coloured fish. Intriguing Zanzibar is the Tropical utopia that has this all.

For honeymoon accommodation, couples are spoilt for choice in Zanzibar; from larger resorts and lodges, to secreted hideaways down palm-lined lanes, and the pure mystic of boutique hotels in exotic Stone Town.

A short boat ride from the northern tip of Zanzibar’s main island, andBeyond Mnemba Island Lodge is one such treasure; away from it all, with just ten open-sided guest ‘bandas’ on the entire islet, it really is a private paradise.

Soaring thatched roofs shelter beautifully simple spaces, big bedrooms open to wide verandahs with intimate dining table, armchairs and cushioned day beds, en suites offer glass beaded showers opening onto the leafy forest. Your personal butler will attend to your every whim; morning coffee and breakfast at your suite, picnic lunches on the beach, romantic seafood dinners served by candlelight right on the seashore.

Exclusive, romantic, unpretentious, andBeyond Mnemba Island Lodge is sheer island and honeymoon bliss.

The wedding was perfect, everything you dreamed it would be, now pack your bags and head to Tanzania and Zanzibar for your bush and beach honeymoon, which promises to fulfill any and all of your honeymoon dreams.


Chill on the beach or enjoy a myriad of water activities at andBeyond Mnemba Island


Love in the air. Sea breeze in your hair. Dhow sailing andBeyond style off  the coast of Zanzibar

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Africa Travel Trends for 2017 Fri, 27 Jan 2017 13:11:44 +0000 Read More]]> As we steam boisterously towards a whole new year of possibilities, amongst other global inclinations, the principal travel trends for 2017 have also emerged.

In today’s fast-paced world, as we vainly endeavour to juggle excessively demanding schedules, days crammed to capacity with work and home activities, it is no surprise that the travel industry is seeing a continued move towards more focussed holidays.

Whilst ‘normal’ vacations will never be out of vogue, it would appear there are those who hanker after more than just ‘standard’ fun in the sun, and a number of key holiday elements have been tagged for 2017.

Experiential Travel

As the name suggests, experiential or immersion travel, allows travellers to focus wholly on experiencing a country, a city, or a particular place, on a deeper level … by connecting to it’s history, it’s people, and it’s culture.

Much more than a trendy axiom, experiential travel is about participation, about steeping oneself intensely in a country at the level of felt experience, rather than merely as a bystander or as an onlooker.

Experiential travel is unhurried, it is culturally authentic, it is emotional, and it is personal.

And what better place or space to immerse yourself in cultural realism than the captivating and culturally rich regions of Southern and East Africa respectively.


Experiential Travel is….Seeing turtles come ashore to lay their precious eggs

Visit inspiring community development projects, enroll in a local cooking courses, partake in a guided wine tour, dine in a township, participate in a rhino tracking and micro-chipping operation … count endangered turtle eggs on a remote shoreline … appease an array of sensory cravings, all whilst engaging deeply with warm-hearted people, in an authentic and beautiful landscape.

Multi Generational Travel

Multi-generational tourism is a continued travel trend for 2017.

Where previously this type of travel tended to incidental and occasional family gatherings, nowadays it’s no secret that families are spending more time (and more money), travelling together.

The ideal of spending more quality time as an extended family, is very real, which is why more and more parents and grandparents, are beginning to appreciate the benefits of the African wilderness, and family bush safaris particularly, as a high-value family holiday option.

Southern Africa is fast becoming a destination of choice for families wanting their children to experience the enchantment of a meaningful vacation, where days are spent immersed in the great outdoors, witnessing the bush environment first-hand and at its absolute authentic best.

Choose from a sole-use lodge, especially suited to several generations, or a game lodge offering personalised packages expressly for children; either choice will entertain, educate, and ignite an interest in ecology, wildlife, the wilderness, and the cycle of life.

family safaris kids with elephant

Multi- Generational Travel is…Visiting a place where grandparents and children have equally thrilling encounters.

There is absolutely no need for electronic devices here, it’s hands-on, it’s enlightening, it’s healthy stimulation, it’s relaxed bonding time … for adults and youngsters alike.

Eco Tourism – Green Travel

With a rising consumer and industry interest in sustainable-and eco-tourism, hotels, lodges, camps, and tour operators are striving to incorporate responsible eco practices into their operations.

In line with this, the trend is for travellers to plan low-impact vacations and getaways, and to visit eco conscious destinations where conservation is top of mind.

Parts of Southern African, and in particular, South Africa, are high rankers in responsible tourism, and offer many superb eco destinations and sustainable tourism products, where relevant hotels, camps and lodges have a minimum effect on the environment, where staff are treated fairly and employed ethically … whilst still providing levels of luxury every bit as sumptuous as their counterparts.


Green Travel is…Staying at Elsa’s Kopje which has a Gold Eco-Rating as well as an International Silver-Level Certification with Sustainable Travel International.

By choosing to visit these properties and those destinations where conservation is a priority and where Fair Trade is practiced, not only is the precious environment being safeguarded, but income generated by tourism also finds its way back into local communities.

Mindfulness and Wellness Travel

It is not surprising that in today’s somewhat jaded and weary world, there is also a large global trend in mindful and wellness travel for 2017,

Mindful and wellness travel is the principle of unplugging from the rat-race, of linking travel, with for instance, meditation and yoga, of nourishing the senses and attuning to nature, and with taking care of the self.

An aspiration for many travellers whilst on vacation is to gain life-enhancing skills through mindful and spiritual activities that can then be applied to everyday life.

The principle extends to mindfulness and awareness of loved ones, and the environment, and quality time spent with both.

And this is all very apropos in Southern Africa, where the term ‘wellness in the wilderness’, has become commonplace, with travelers seeking unique and authentic experiences, resulting in a demand for what may be termed more spiritual travel.

Diverse, and bursting with raw beauty, Southern Africa is brim-full of opportunities for enriching the mindful traveler –

Stargazing in the Namibian desert is one wellness experience, including the body, mind and soul, that can truly bring a sense of calm and reflection to a person.

sossusvlei-desert-lodge star gazing

Wellness Travel is…Stargazing at Sossusvlei desert Lodge in Namibia. Food for the soul

Or travelers can reconnect with themselves, as well as with nature, as they dive amongst hundreds of species of tropical fish and extraordinary coral reefs on any of Mozambique’s tropical islands. To expand the experience, in some instances, spa treatments may take place in direct sight of the beach.

Resorts such as Kenya-based Campi ya Kanzi offer a luxury eco-lodge including yoga classes and meditation in the middle of the savannah at sunset. Whilst a truly unique experience is the Africa yoga walking safari, where travelers walk, practice yoga and meditate in Africa’s most remote and untouched wilderness areas, such as the Luangwa Valley in Zambia.

Luxurious, yet eco-conscience and mindful, there are a myriad of authentic African encounters and holistic destinations to spiritually enrich and sustain the soul.

Active or Adventure Travel

A consumer shift away from material possessions, towards an interest in actual experiences, has seen an ever-rising trend in adventure travel for 2017.

The trend is however away from ‘hard’ adventure, or traditional adventuring, and in the direction of ‘soft adventure’ and ‘microadventure’, either stand-alone, or added on to a holiday.

Soft adventure refers to low risk activities that are usually achievable with minimum previous experience, and microadventure is the term coined by British explorer Alastair Humphreys, for an outdoor adventure, small and achievable for normal people with real lives.

Both types of adventure tends to be minimalist in terms of gear, both types of adventure suited for people aspiring to cope with their fast-paced lives, both types of adventure ties in with an increasing drive for healthier lifestyles.

Southern and East Africa embodies all of the above qualities, making it an irresistible destination for international travellers no matter the demographic.

Whether a luxury desert camp on the edge of the Kalahari, or trekking the forests of East Africa in search of mountain gorilla, whether sleeping out on a platform under the African stars, or a walking safari in the South Luangwa Valley of Zambia, travelers are embracing undiscovered environments and experiences in an entirely more adventurous manner.

gorillas nest2

Adventure Travel is…Trekking through the rainforests in East Africa in search of the mountain gorillas

Special Interest Tours – Birding, Photography, Shopping, Art et al

In line with the fact that most individuals nowadays have very little spare time to practice specific interests, and also in line with the move towards actual experiences, there is a travel trend towards special interest tours.

Special interest tours may take the form of a cooking holiday, a birding vacation, learning how to scuba dive, seeking the perfect wildlife photo, pursuing the passion to shop (whether for ceramic collectibles, or items as personal as authentic and original jewelry )… or for those interested in art, a special interest art tour to Southern Africa may involve exploring a number of art routes or visiting an array of outstanding art galleries.

Southern African, and South Africa, simply and really, does have it all.


Southern Africa’s birdlife is perfect for special interest birders and photographers

Most Welcome Travel Trend 2017

Laudable mention must be made of one additional and most welcome 2017 travel trend, the move away from animal interactions of any sort.

Where elephant-back riding, ‘swimming with dolphins’, ‘walking with lions’ (and the like), used to be acceptable, these activities, and correctly so, have been spurned, for the cruel and exploitive undertakings they are

Not only does East Africa and Southern African respectively, and South Africa in particular, top all of the lists as burgeoning international destinations, but also as top-notch on trend travel destinations for 2017 as well.


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My Botswana Safari with Ker & Downey Tops Trump Thu, 22 Dec 2016 09:24:25 +0000 Read More]]> That an elephant was blocking our approach to the small airstrip was almost definitely a coincidence, but I love a bit of portent. You see, it was US election time and the improbable ascendency of the Republican elephant to the White House was happening whilst I and some travel biz colleagues were doing a spot of languishing and scoping out of new destinations in the African bush.


My view from Kanana Camp

And what languishing it was! I was lucky enough to go on a ‘Fam’ trip with Ker & Downey to see their camps in Botswana. They are not the lovely couple who live opposite the Post Office, but are a luxury safari tour operator who have been around for many years and five of us were given the onerous task of giving some of their camps our  agent’s ‘stamp of approval’ so to speak.  And so it was that in the second week of November we headed off to Botswana.


Sundowners at Shinde Camp

The first bit of luxury for us was the direct flight between Cape Town and Maun, an airport that serves the Okavango Delta and the Moremi Game Reserve as well as other camps in the area, This is a giant leap for mankind in terms of the ease of access to Botswana. The time saved in terms of eliminating flights via Johannesburg or wherever… is considerable enough to make mention of. The quicker you can get to your destination the sooner you can unwind and enjoy the African experience. From Maun we took short  ‘hop’ flights between the camps within Botswana, the landing of one which was delayed by the lethargic elephant on one of the runways!

Our blissful ignorance of the events of the time -Clinton being Trumped – was helped by the fact that there was no wifi connection at any of the camps we visited, although there was computer availability if one was that desperate. None of us were!


We came across this beautiful young leopard on a morning game drive in the Moremi Game Reserve

We visited four camps, the first of which had some of the best and most dedicated staff I have come across in my travels. Okuti Camp is in the Moremi Game Reserve, nestled alongside the Maunachira River which flows through the Xakanaxa Lagoon. Aside from the utterly delightful staff whose impressive singing voices regaled us with African songs, Okuti is known for its excellent predator sightings and we were lucky enough to see a pack of wild dogs kill a reedbuck, which I very much suspect didn’t appreciate our touristy gawking as it breathed its last.


Sunset cruise along the Okavango Delta waterways at Ker & Downey’s Okuti Camp

From Okuti we toddled over, in the aviation sense, to Kanana Camp, which is one of my favourites due to its bush view and lovely setting. It is from here that you can visit the largest heronary (breeding ground for herons) in Bostwana on a mokoro canoe ending with champagne in the bush as the sun sets over the Delta. It really is a magnificent way to spend a day. Kanana has a wide variation of activities on offer, so besides punting around on the canoe, one can also do game drives, bush walks and boats trips in this most special corner of the world. For me, the highlight was sleeping out on the deck in the middle of the bush. With the trumpeting snoring of my fellow travellers keeping the monsters at bay.


Mokoro excursion from Kanana Camp


Me, catching (and releasing) my first fish!


My guide teaching me to drive the landrover

At the other two camps we visited, Shinde Camp and Footsteps, I suspended my adult languishing and decided to have some fun. At Shinde I caught a fish, my first fish, albeit microscopic in size, but the fight was on and I prevailed! Another first at Shinde was spotting a wild cat, in amongst the teeming game that included a whole bunch of antelope, elephant, jackal and even leopards. Footsteps, which is fairly basic in its infrastructure had many kid’s activities which I gamely took on: actually driving the game vehicle, target practice with a pellet gun (Cue: applause. I hit one can!) short walks in the wild and learning to pole a mokoro.  Contact me, Lise Kargaard for your next African Safari.

Meanwhile in America….

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Kenya Beach Holidays: Where To Go Mon, 12 Dec 2016 11:17:28 +0000 Read More]]> Imagine Kenya as a travel destination and you are probably conjuring up images of expansive savannahs teeming with herds of wildlife with the iconic image of an Acacia tree starkly silhouetted against a crimson sky. Kenya, after all, is renowned for one of the greatest natural spectacles on earth – the Great Migration of millions of wildebeest and zebras, as well as arguably the world’s most iconic African safari destination. But did you know that this country has one of Africa’s most historic and fascinating coastlines (European colonialists, Arab traders, and African empires have all left their mark) with endless picture-postcard-perfect beaches?

diani beac

Kenya’s Diani Beach is one of the most idyllic beach locations in the world

From Kenya’s famous Diani Beach, through to lively Mombasa and tranquil Malindi, and further afield to the idyllic islands of the Lamu Archipelago, the beauty of Kenya is that you can easily combine a thrilling safari in the Masai Mara one day with a relaxing beach holiday the next, making it the perfect ‘Bush and Beach’ destination! It’s also considered an all-year-round destination (for both safaris and beach vacations); its coastal temperatures are consistently hot and humid with the occasional shower to cool things off. The best time to visit Kenya (especially its Indian Ocean coastline) is from June to early March when temperatures and rainfall are at their lowest. Kenya’s coast is well known for its natural beauty and is filled with all sorts of diverse wildlife: from coral reefs teeming with tropical fish, to marine parks, bird-filled coastal forests, to game reserves where you can marvel at the Big Five just a hop and a skip away.

Mombasa: Kenya’s Coastal Heartbeat

Kenya’s Mombasa region is perhaps its most famous coastline, known for its diving and deep sea fishing, as well as its lively atmosphere favoured by those seeking a more festive vacation. It offers a number of larger resorts, has a great selection of restaurants, night clubs, and shops, and the proximity to Mombasa’s airport means it’s the perfect safari and beach destination. We recommend staying at Voyager Beach Resort located in the Nyali area, just north of Mombasa. Perfect for both couples or families, the resort offers the visitor fantastic value for money, well maintained tropical gardens, three large swimming pools, and a flawless white sandy beach sheltered by a coral reef with activities to suit all ages.

Voyager Beach Resort

Set right at the beach, Voyager Beach Resort is the perfect resort for both families and honeymooning couples

Diani Beach: Kenya’s Southern Jewel

Your second port of call should be Kenya’s southern coast: expect palm-fringed white sandy beaches with crystal blue waters and some of Africa’s finest dive spots. Diani Beach (where most of our recommended accommodation options are located) is world-famous for its pristine white beaches and safe, shallow, tropical waters – the classic beach destination perfect for either families or those seeking a romantic honeymoon destination. Kenya’s warm tropical water (in particular around the Diani area) is well-known for its migrating whale sharks known as the gentle giants of the deep (and measuring longer even than a school bus!).

whale shark diani beach

The Kenyan coast has many superb diving spots and Diani Beach is well-known for its whale shark encounters

There are a number of luxury hotels and resorts dotted along Diani Beach, but we love Kinondo Kwetu Hotel and the Almanara Luxury Resort. For the perfect post-safari-beach-bliss book yourself into Kinondo Kwetu. This Swedish family-owned resort located south of Diani Beach offers utter relaxation in a laid-back, yet luxurious setting: relax on your own private stretch of beach or cool off in one of two swimming pools, revitalize body and soul at the cliff top yoga studio, go horse-riding along the pristine beach, set off snorkeling along the magnificent coral reef or dive with whale sharks, or simply enjoy a candlelit dinner on the beach with your loved one. For a bespoke luxury experience, the Almanara Luxury Resort offers you the choice of either staying in an exclusive private boutique hotel or a private villa complete with butler service and your own personal chef. Feast on freshly caught seafood right at the water’s edge at the Sails Beach Bar, go kite or wind surfing, scuba dive around world-class dive sites and experience the underwater wonderland and the shimmering coral reefs such as the Kisite National Marine Reserve, go deep sea fishing to the famous Pemba Channel teeming with Sailfish, Black Marlin and Yellow Fin Tuna, or simply hop aboard Almanara’s ‘Ngalawa’ (their locally crafted sailboat) to go snorkeling around the sand islands. The list of water-based activities is endless.


At Kinondo Kwetu you can take a boat excursion to go snorkeling at Galu Beach


Almanara is a luxury resort that comes with its own stretch of private beach

Malindi: Kenya’s Tranquil Coast

The Malindi region (popular with European holidaymakers and ex-pats) and nearby Watamu are also well worth a visit with spectacular beaches abounding and superb diving at Malindi Marine National Park perfect for honeymooners or families seeking a quieter Kenya beach destination. Tsavo National Park (known for its incredible variety of big game) is a mere hundred kilometers inland, making a safari-beach holiday an easy option.

malindi beach kenya

Spectacular beaches framed by palm trees abound at Malindi Beach

KENYA, Watamu: In a photograph taken by Make It Kenya 11 Decmeber 2015, a Green turtle makes it's way back to the ocean from a deserted stretch of coastline after being released by a team from the Local Ocean Trust (LOT). The LOT and Watamu Turtle Watch work to protect both the future of sea turtles and the wider fragile marine environment along Kenya's Watamu stretch of coastline through nest-monitoring and protection of turtle nesting sites, practising a catch and release programme working closely with local fisherman who inadvertently catch sea turtles in the nets, and conservation education and awareness outreach with local communities. MAKE IT KENYA PHOTO / STUART PRICE.

A Green turtle returns to the sea along Watamu’s stretch of coastline (Picture Credit and Copyright: Make It Kenya, Stuart Price)

Lamu Archipelago: Kenya’s Idyllic North

For the ultimate private island vacation and barefoot luxury with a lovely laid-back charm, the islands of the Lamu Archipelago offer the idyllic romantic honeymoon destination. There is a range of incredible lodges and private villas on offer, but you will need to take a boat to navigate between the islands. For the ultimate Kenyan honeymoon destination, we recommend staying at Manda Island.


The spectacular Manda Bay located in the Lamu Archipelago (Picture Credit and Copyright: Dirk Collins)

With its dazzling and secluded tropical beaches, intense turquoise Indian Ocean waters, extravagant sunsets, Swahili hospitality, and activities to suit both honeymooning couples and families, it’s time to start planning your beach holiday to Kenya.

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Safe Places to Visit in Africa: Our Travel Tips Mon, 28 Nov 2016 09:42:07 +0000 Read More]]> We are often asked about safe places to travel in Africa. Safety, now more than ever before, is on most traveler’s minds in the difficult times that we live in. We believe that by informing our travelers to the best of our ability, the safer, better prepared, and happier your vacation will be.

When travelling to any exotic destination – such as Africa – there are of course a number of other considerations to take into account when going on safari such as the presence of large, wild animals like lion and elephant (many of the safari lodges are unfenced within the reserve and national parks where wildlife roam freely). Malaria, as well as transport and cultural issues are also considerations.

Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania, South Africa and Zambia tick all of the safety boxes, but by following these safety tips, travelling anywhere throughout Southern and East Africa can be a safe and richly rewarding experience.

Health Safety

  • Water: Tap water is safe to drink in South Africa’s urban areas however we recommend drinking bottled water in urban areas in other African countries. The lodges and safari camps that we book will offer purified water, whilst lodges located in remote areas will always ensure that guests have access to bottled or purified water.
  • Dehydration: Dehydration is one of the most common ailments, and Africa has one of the world’s hottest climates. Not drinking enough fluids, overheating, or doing continuous exercise for a long period without drinking fluids all lead to dehydration. We advise our guests to pack electrolyte replacement sachets (to be added to bottled water) into their safari first aid kit, in case of dehydration.
  • Food: The food at our recommended luxury hotels and safari lodges is always superb and of a high standard. Even the wholesome and creative ‘bush cuisine’ prepared by safari camp chefs in the middle of nowhere is worthy of the numerous accolades received. Recently one of our safari clients shared that her hyper-allergic-fussy-eater son loved the chef’s cooking and really thrived whilst being on safari. In the major cities and wine regions, you are in for a treat as Cape Town alone boasts two entries on the World’s Best Restaurants list!
  • Hat And Sunblock: Wherever you are travelling to in Africa, summer or winter, make sure that you always apply a sunblock and wear a hat during the day as the African sun is known to be unforgiving.
  • Inoculations And Vaccines: The best person to speak to for advice on country-specific vaccines and inoculations is your local doctor. Vaccinations (or childhood vaccine boosters) for cholera, polio, tetanus, meningitis, typhoid, and hepatitis A and B are strongly recommended as a precautionary measure as medical services and facilities may be limited in Africa. If you are planning on travelling into East Africa (particularly Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda) you will be asked to show your yellow fever inoculation certificate, even if you are just in transit via Nairobi. Yellow fever vaccinations are valid for ten years and need to be administered at least ten days prior to departure. We suggest having your vaccines done before travelling, as some vaccines may make you feel unwell for a few days. Note that you have to travel with your yellow fever certificate card.
  • Be Malaria Savvy: Speak to your local doctor about which anti-malarial prophylactics will be best suited to the country you are planning to visit. Some malaria prophylactics may have side effects. Small children and pregnant women should avoid malaria areas completely. There is now a children’s equivalent of the Malarone based malaria prophylactic. It is important to complete the course of anti-malaria pills you are administered. The best defense against mosquito bites is to use the mosquito nets and ceiling fans provided in your room and to apply insect repellant to exposed skin in the early morning and late afternoon (before game drives) and again before dinner in the evening. If you seek a completely risk-free destination there are plenty of malaria-free regions in Southern Africa to choose from such as the Eastern Cape and the Madikwe Game Reserve, as well as Namibia and the Indian Ocean islands.


    Mosquito netting is provided at all the camps and lodges

Personal Safety

  • Use Common Sense: As in many other destinations around the world, you will need to use a fair dose of common sense when travelling in Southern and East Africa. Don’t walk around deserted areas after dark, secure your personal possessions, never leave your baggage unattended, keep your car doors locked, make use of your hotel safe, don’t flash your expensive camera equipment, jewelry or cash around unnecessarily, and know where you are going before you head out. We recommend that you keep a copy of your passport number, airline tickets, and credit card numbers in a separate place other than your handbag. Taking photographs of border crossings or government buildings is not advisable. Be sure to consult your guide or hotel concierge as these will have insider knowledge of the country that you are visiting.
  • Be Respectful: Take care to treat the destinations, their cultures, and religions with the respect that they deserve such as the Masai homelands and Zanzibar. Ensure that you dress appropriately in these sensitive regions (clothing that covers the body up to the collarbone, up to the knees and elbows) and don’t take intrusive photographs unless you have asked permission beforehand. In most parts of Africa, it is deemed offensive not to ask before taking a photograph of another person – especially in this Instagram and Facebook influenced world where we feel compelled to photograph and share everything!


    It is expected to ask permission and in many cases pay the Masai before photographing them

Travel Safety

  • Contact An Expert: It’s always best to speak to a safari expert well ahead of time to pre-arrange all of your personal logistics such as airport transfers. We have on-the-ground knowledge of the best service providers and will be able to help you plan an effortless, stress-free vacation.
    Make Use Of Private Transport: We don’t recommend that you use public transport in most African countries (such as minibus taxis, local buses, and trains) as these can’t be guaranteed to be safe. Rather book a reputable taxi service through your hotel desk or make use of scheduled tours or enlist the services of a private guide.
  • Know Where To Go: It is always a good idea to familiarize yourself on how to get from A to B to ensure there are no nasty surprises. Africa is a vast country with remote areas that may be difficult to access. To visit Kenya’s legendary wildlife reserves (for example) you will land at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi and will then have to transfer across Nairobi to Wilson Airport (about an hour and a half’s drive away).
  • Self-Drive Vacations: Both South Africa and Namibia are ideal countries for self-driving with their wide open spaces, well sign-posted roads, great infrastructure, and excellent accommodation options. We recommend that you plan your self-drive journey carefully to allow enough time to arrive before it gets dark. If you are planning on driving through Namibia (one of the safest countries in Africa) you will need at least two spare tires as blowouts are common on the long, stony roads typical of Namibia.
namibia self drive

Namibia is one of the best self-drive destinations with wide open spaces, excellent roads and infrastructure

The great beauty of being on safari in this continent is that you can experience the wilderness in its natural state. Travelling safely through the incredible landscapes of Africa with her multitude of wildlife, vast open spaces, and friendly people relies on sensible preparation and precautions that in general you would apply when visiting any other adventure destination. At African Safaris we believe that by being well informed about your destination and seeking advice from your health professional prior to your departure, coupled with our extensive safari expertise we can tailor your trip to ensure that you have an incredible and safe trip to Africa.

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Kenya: What You Need To Know Before You Go Wed, 09 Nov 2016 09:37:51 +0000 Read More]]> One of the most magical and achingly beautiful countries in the world, Kenya is an incredible travel destination known for its diverse landscapes, dazzling light, spectacular variety of animals and friendly people. The safari regions in Kenya are considered safe destinations but nevertheless this detailed guide will answer all your pre-trip questions especially if you are visiting Kenya for the first time.

elephant in amboseli national park in kenya

An elephant quietly crossing a road less traveled in the Amboseli National Park. Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance.

What You Need To Know: Visas

You will need a visa when visiting Kenya if you are a citizen of the USA, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada or any other EU country. If you hold citizenship for any other country please consult the below link to determine if you require a visa: Kenya Visa Requirements

As with most travel destinations, your passport needs to be valid for at least six months beyond your departure date out of Kenya, with at least two consecutive (unstamped) blank visa pages in your passport.

The visa costs around £30 or $50 and can be bought on arrival in Nairobi (just ensure that you have the exact US dollars with you and that your US$ bills were issued after 2006) or in advance from the relevant Kenyan High Commission.

wildebeest migration in masai mara

The wildebeest migration – one of the world’s most incredible natural spectacles – is one of the many reasons why you should visit Kenya

What You Need To Know: Medical

There are a number of mandatory medications and vaccinations for Kenya, so here is our complete list:

Whilst Nairobi and some other highland areas are relatively low-risk malaria zones, malaria in Kenya (as well as many areas of East Africa) is endemic so we strongly recommend that you obtain anti-malaria medication before you depart from your medical doctor or other health authority. The most commonly prescribed malaria tablet is currently Malarone.

Malaria tablets unfortunately often come with some side-effects (fortunately the most common ones aren’t too serious) and for the most part, manifest with a light-sensitivity and slight upset tummies. We thus recommend that you regularly apply a high SFP sunscreen (even for olive skin).

If you are traveling around Africa you will need to be vaccinated against Yellow Fever and you may even be required to show your Yellow Fever certificate on entry in Kenya, so be sure to get one before you depart on your travels! The Yellow Fever jab lasts 10 years (so even though it’s relatively pricey around £80, it’s money well spent) and must be administered at least 10 days before departure. This vaccine is recommended for children 9 months and older.

yellow fever certificate

You will need to be vaccinated against Yellow Fever if you plan on travelling to Kenya

We advise you to drink bottled water at all times in Kenya, especially if you have traveled from abroad. All our recommended safari camps and lodges supply their guests with fresh, clean (filtered or bottled) water. For things like brushing your teeth, we suggest checking with your camp manager to find out if the tap water is safe to use.

It’s always a good idea to pack your own small medical kit to have on hand for any minor travel-related ailments such as headaches or hay fever. If you need to take prescription medication please ensure that you pack enough supplies to last your entire holiday, as it may be difficult to get hold of specialized medication in remote areas.

What You Need To Know: In General in Kenya

Kenya is a multilingual country with Swahili and English being spoken as the two official languages. Here are a couple of Swahili words to get you started:

  • ”Jambo” – common greeting meaning “Hello, how are you?”
  • “Asante” or “Asante Sana” – meaning “thank you” and “thank you very much”
  • “Pole Pole” – which means “slowly slowly” referring to the slower African pace!
Masai warriors with visitor

Kenyans are one of the friendliest people in Africa and meeting the Masai warriors in their colourful traditional dress is a experience that will stay with you forever

Kenya is 3 hours ahead (all year round) of the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)

Kenya is situated close to the equator so does not experience a real winter or summer season. The country has a pleasant tropical climate but can vary greatly depending on several factors, particularly altitude. Daytime temperatures on average reach between 20°C/68°F and 28°C/82°F, with hotter and more humid temperatures on the coast often rising above 30°C/86°F. The coastal areas are humid and hot all year round but tempered by the monsoon winds. Temperatures inland are relatively temperate, with a hotter and drier climate in Kenya’s northern parts.

The hottest time of the year is from mid-December through to March, with the coolest period from late June until October. The long rains fall from late April throughout May to early June, with the short rains falling from November until mid-December.

Kenyan coast

The Kenyan coastline remains hot and humid all year round and is pure barefoot paradise bliss!

Currency And Credit Cards
Kenya’s currency is the Kenyan Shilling (KSh) which comprises of a 100 Cents. Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted, whilst American Express and Diners Club cards are usually not. Make sure to check with your bank that your Visa or MasterCard has no foreign transaction fees.

Power And Connectivity
Since most Kenyan camps and lodges are located in remote areas, electricity is generated by solar power or via a diesel generator. Most lodges or camps will have a central charging station (in your room or common area) which may be used to charge your electrical equipment. Most camps provide their guests with plug adapters, but if you would prefer to have your own you will need to buy a ‘G’ socket type which uses the universal plug adapter WA-7.

Connectivity (as in most remote destinations) is less accessible the further away they are from urban areas. Mobile services are usually available in the southern part of Kenya around Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, the entire coastal region, popular safari parks, as well as on the long road between Nairobi and Mombasa. The northern part of Kenya, however, has no network access. Some remote game lodges and hotels offer Wi-Fi but can be quite expensive.

conversion socket adapter for Kenya

Most game lodges will provide conversion socket adapters for their overseas guests

Tipping guides, drivers or support staff as a way of showing your appreciation for great service is customary in Kenya, and is done in US$ or Kenyan Shillings (KSh).

  • General Tipping Guidelines
  • Ranger or Guide – $20 per couple per day
  • Tracker – $15 per couple per day
  • Butler – $15 per couple per day
  • Camp Staff – $15 per couple per day
  • Transfer Drivers – $5 per transfer
  • Porters – $1 per bag
  • Restaurants – 10% of the bill
Game drive in Kenya

Game drives led by local guides are de rigeur on a Kenyan safari. Tipping your guide is customary. if you

What You Need To Know: What To Pack

We regularly get asked by our clients what to pack on safari and requests for an essentials packing list, so we thought we would take the stress out of packing and have compiled our list of essential items below. The key thing to remember whilst packing for Kenya is to pack comfortable clothes with neutral colours that will blend into the African bush. You don’t’ have to run out and buy expensive safari gear; jeans, a neutral t-shirt, and a baseball cap are completely acceptable!

Kenya, Governors camps, Masai Mara © David Rogers

Kenya, Governors camps, Masai Mara. (Photo Credit and Copyright: David Rogers)

The Essentials

  • A wide-brimmed, sturdy sun hat to keep your face out of the harsh African sun
  • A bandana to tie around your face for the dry, dusty regions
  • Comfortable sneakers, tennis or boat shoes (you don’t require specialized hiking boots to go on a bush walk)
  • Sandals or flip-flops for around the camp
  • T-shirts or golf shirts in khaki, beige, green and neutral colours
  • Long-sleeved cotton shirts to protect you from the sun and mosquito bites at dusk
  • Shorts (please note we don’t recommend short skirts as these are completely impractical when climbing in a 4×4 vehicle)
  • Jeans or safari trousers for cooler days and evenings
  • Light sweater or jumper
  • A sports bra for game drives as the roads may be bumpy
  • A lightweight waterproof zippered jacket for the rainy summer months
  • A swimming costume (nothing too revealing)
  • Warm, wind-proof jacket or fleece, anorak, scarf, gloves and beanie for the winter months, early morning and evening game drives or higher altitudes
  • Socks and underwear
  • Personal toiletries
  • High SPF sun block, moisturizer, after-sun gel, and lip balm
  • Strong insect repellent
  • Sunglasses
  • Binoculars and camera equipment (we suggest packing a dustproof bag to keep your camera equipment safe)
  • A copy of your passport
  • A money belt to carry your valuables (money and passport) under your clothes when traveling

What You Need To Know: Luggage Restrictions

For light aircraft travel within Kenya, there are strict luggage restrictions in place that vary depending on your destination. Travelers to East Africa may only be allowed to take a total luggage weight of 15kg (33lbs) which includes the carry-on hand luggage. Your bags must also be soft-sided with no wheels or rigid frames so that these may easily fit into the hold of a small aircraft. Should you need additional luggage you will have the option of buying an extra seat which will allow for an additional 70kg (154lbs).Please check that your total luggage weight complies with the restrictions for all your Kenyan destinations prior to your departure.

Light aircraft in Kenya

There are strict luggage restrictions in place for lightaircraft travel within Kenya

What You Need To Know: Photography

Visitors to Kenya should be aware that they are not allowed to take photographs or film the President of Kenya nor his residence, airports, railway stations, the military or the police and their barracks, any government buildings or the Kenyan flag. If you want to take a picture of a Masai warrior you will need to ask his consent, as he may only be willing to do so for a fee.


You will need to get consent first before taking pictures of the Masai (Photo Credit and Copyright: Marius Coetzee Photography)

If there’s a burning question that we haven’t covered, please get in touch with one of our friendly experts. Now all that’s left to do is to choose your dates and book your trip to one of the most beautiful countries in Africa for a vacation of a lifetime!

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Plan Your Great Migration Safari: Where to Stay in Kenya Thu, 29 Sep 2016 14:12:13 +0000 Read More]]> The magic of seeing The Great Migration unfold in Kenya is an experience that never ceases to amaze. This is one of mother earth’s once-in-a-lifetime natural spectacles that will live with you forever. Known for its dazzling light, never-ending horizons and animals as far as the eye can see, the Masai Mara is not only known as one of the world’s most famous national parks but also for the millions of wildebeest and zebras that migrate through it every year in a race for life and water.

Governors’ Camp

Nestled in the forest along the winding Mara River, Governors’ Camp in Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve, is one of the finest locales to experience the Migration.

The entire camp is under canvas, with all 37 classic safari-style tents enjoying either uninterrupted views of the river, or sweeping views of the vast plains; all tents are spacious and en suite (with showers), all with private verandahs. Created in 1972, and refined and improved over the years, emphasis is placed on comfort and service, complimented by excellent food.

Governors’ Camp Masai Mara is not the most luxurious in the Governors’ Camps portfolio, but due to it’s ideal situation just north of several crossing points on the Mara River, and adjacent to the well-known Paradise Plains, the Camp presents an unmatched migration experience and remains a firm favourite.

Governors-Camp masai mara

Located on the river and adjacent to the famous Paradise Plains, Governor’s Camp is perfectly placed to observe one of the greatest wildlife spectacles in the world

Mara Serena Safari Lodge

Set high atop a bushy hill, with extended views across the plains to the Mara River, Mara Serena Safari Lodge, is located at the very heart of the Mara Triangle, in the Masai Mara National Reserve.

A slightly larger lodge, boasting 74 rooms, including five Family Rooms and one Suite, the lodge blends international sophistication with raw African beauty. With uninterrupted vistas, each room is accommodated in it’s own stand-alone unit, and includes a spacious seating area and private balcony.

Amenities at the lodge include central bar and dining areas, swimming pool and sundeck, spa and gym, gift shop and business centre. Newly graded as a 5-star lodge, ideally positioned with a bird’s eye view of it’s surroundings, Mara Serena Safari Lodge stands centre-stage to one of the greatest wildlife shows on earth.


In the heart of the Mara Triangle with sweeping views across the plains as far as the eye can see, Mara Serena Safari Lodge is a good family friendly base for the Great Migration

Sanctuary Olonana

Positioned on a private stretch of the Mara River in Kenya’s Masai Mara National Park, this small boutique luxury camp, was built along sustainable lines, earning it a Gold Award from Ecotourism Kenya.

Featuring 14 tastefully appointed tented pavilions, all are spacious and boast two four-poster beds each, as well as en suite bathroom; all tents have a private verandah from which to enjoy rapturous views of the adjacent river and the resident hippos.

A mere 45-minute flight from Nairobi, Sanctuary Olonana is ideally positioned for abundant year-round game-viewing, however at the time of the Great Migration, the lodge comes into it’s own, offering especially outstanding opportunities for observation of the throngs of wildebeest.

sanctuary olonana

One of the top ecotourism destinations in Kenya, Sanctuary Olonana looks out over the plains across which thousands of wildebeest migrate each year

Porini Lion Camp

Bordering the Masai Mara Game Reserve is the exclusive and expansive 13 355 hectare Olare Motorogi Conservancy; it is here you will find Porini Lion Camp.

Sitting along the banks of the seasonal Ntiakatiak River, Porini Lion Camp consists of ten spaciously indulgent guest tents, accommodating a total of just 20 guests. The tents are all en suite with flushing loos and hot showers, each tent with private verandah for secluded rest and relaxation. Meals prepared by the camp chef is excellent.

Porini Lion Camp offers a luxury-yet-authentic, bush experience, from which to view not only the Big Cats for which the Mara and this particular camp is famous but also for excellent viewing of the Great Wildebeest Migration. At the time of the Migration, the big predators are particularly active, and sightings particularly spectacular.

For those interested in seeing some of the more significant Mara River crossing points of the wildebeest, these are easily accessible from here.

walking tour at porini lion camp

Porini Lion Camp is known for its open plains which is good for walking safaris

Porini Mara Camp

Porini Mara Camp sits in the community-owned wildlife conservancy of Ol Kinyei in the Serengeti-Mara eco-system, and also directly in the migration course of the wildebeest from the Loita plains to the Mara Reserve.

The camp is small and accommodates a maximum of just twelve guests at any one time in six tents. Room densities in Ol Kinyei are purposefully restricted, making the reserve particularly exclusive.

Tents, resting in the shade of Yellow-barked Acacia trees, are spacious, each with flush loo and safari shower, and give guests a feeling of real camping, but with all the home comforts required of discerning travellers. Home-baked breads, fresh salads and high-quality meals prepared in-camp are the order of the day.

Porini Mara Camp lies 250kms from Nairobi, which is a four-hour journey by road, or can be accessed via the Siana Airstrip just 16kms away from the lodge, or via it’s own private airstrip.

porini mara camp

Small and intimate, with just six tents, Porini Mara Camp lies directly in the path of the migration

Mara Intrepids

An easy drive from the Mara River, where the wildebeest annually make their hazardous crossing, lies Mara Intrepids.

Ideally located in the middle of the four main game viewing areas of the Maasai Mara Reserve, Mara Intrepids offers world-class wildlife viewing all year round, not only of the Migration. Spread over a large riverside location, all 30 luxury tents enjoy en-suite bathrooms with flushing toilets and hot showers, secluded verandahs, and other modern amenities. Tents are furnished in a classic style with large four-poster beds, décor personifies authentic African safaris.

Lying 298kms from Nairobi, the lodge can be reached by 6-hour road trip from the capital, or by utilising one of the frequent daily flights landing at the Ol Kiombo airstrip close by.

Mara Intrepids may not be quite as sumptuous as a number of other lodges in the area, but is very comfortable and enjoys great positioning.

Mara Intrepids

Mara Intrepids offers incredible riverside frontage and is ideally located to be close to the action as it lies in the centre of the four main game viewing sites in the Masai Mara Reserve

Sala’s Camp

Sala’s Camp has the distinctive privilege of being the first camp to receive the migrating wildebeest when they arrive from the Serengeti to the Mara. In addition to the Migration, Sala’s Camp also enjoys wonderful year-round sightings of Africa’s renowned Big Five.

The camp combines tradition with comfort, in understated intimate luxury. Up to 16 guests can be accommodated in seven lavish tents, each tent elegant and comfortable, enjoying en-suite bathrooms with hot showers and flush toilets. One of the tents is a honeymoon tent.

The Great Wildebeest Migration epitomises wild Africa, for many visitors witnessing the cyclic drama of life unfolding on the Savannahs of the Serengeti and the Maasai Mara, it is the ultimate dream safari vacation. Browse through our migration safari options or speak to one of our consultants about a tour tailored just for you.

salas camp

The ultimate dream safari location, Sala’s Camp has the advantage of being the first camp to receive the migrating wildebeests as they move across from the Serengeti into the Mara

Heading to Kenya on safari? Make sure you read our helpful pre-departure article which will give you all the information you need to know before you go.

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African Pangolin Facts And Why They’re So Hard To Spot Thu, 22 Sep 2016 10:03:49 +0000 Read More]]> You would be forgiven (if like me) you had never heard of an pangolin before. These prehistoric looking creatures with their armored shell and strange walk look like scaly anteaters and were first thought to be related to these, armadillos and sloths, but are in fact most closely related to Carnivores which include hyenas and wolves. They are also one of the most threatened species on earth, and may even go extinct before most of us register their existence.

So why have we not heard of them, and what makes these animals so unique? We’ve put together a list of truly fascinating facts to bring you up to speed with this species and why it’s one of the most trafficked animals in the world.

pangolin photo credit and copyright gary parker

The pangolin is a secretive and fascinating creature that is sadly on the brink of extinction (Photo Credit and Copyright: Gary Parker)

1. There Are Eight Species Of Pangolin

Found in tropical regions of Africa and Asia, there are eight species of pangolin still found in the world today: four Asian species (Chinese, Indian, Malayan and Palawan) and four African pangolin species: the Cape pangolin, Tree pangolin, Long-tailed pangolin and Giant ground pangolin.

Over its 80 million year evolution, there have been several other species of pangolin which have all become extinct.

2. Pangolin Means ‘Something That Rolls Up’

The pangolin takes its name from the Malay word ‘pengguling’, meaning ‘rolling up’, which is a direct reference to the animal rolling into a defensive, near impossible-to-penetrate ball to protect its face and soft underbelly. Sadly this defense mechanism also makes it an easy target for smugglers to simply pick them up and take them away.

cape pangolin curled up picture credit and copyright african pangolin working group

A Cape pangolin curled up into a tight ball (Photo Credit and Copyright: African Pangolin Working Group)

3. They Are The Only Mammal Covered In Scales

Pangolins are the only mammals in the world whose bodies are covered in large scales. Made of keratin (the same substance that our nails, hair, bird claws and rhino horns are made of) these hard, overlapping scales account for 20% of a pangolin’s weight. The scales (that continue to grow throughout the animal’s lifetime) are extremely hard and act as a protection against predators.

In traditional Chinese medicine, these scales are dried and roasted to treat palsy, drain pus and stimulate lactation. Pangolin scales are prized in the East for their supposed healing properties and can easily fetch a staggering $3,000 a kilogram on the black market.

4. A Pangolin’s Tongue Is Longer Than Its Body

Pangolins feed on insects (up to 70 million per year!) and use their sticky, strong tongues (they don’t have any teeth) to collect these. When extended, a pangolin’s tongue stretches longer than its head and body put together and can measure over 40cm long. This long tongue is stored deep in their chest cavity, and the insects are ground down by stones and keratinous spines found in their stomachs.

tree pangolin photo credit and copyright ubuntunewsrus flickr

A Tree pangolin using its sticky tongue to catch insects (Photo Credit and Copyright: Ubuntunewsru’s flickr)

5. They Can Outwit Even The Big Cats

Pangolin’s main predators (aside from humans) are the big cats which include lions, leopards, cheetahs, and tigers. These scaly mammals can often outsmart the big cats simply by rolling into a tight ball and using their scales as armor, which is even too hard for a lion to bite through. The cats also don’t quite know what to make of the rolled up mammal and will often lose interest and walk away.

A group of lions trying to pry open a pangolin in Kenyas Masai Mara Pic and copyright by Holly Cheese

A group of lions in Kenya’s Masai Mara trying to pry open a pangolin (Photo Credit and Copyright: Holly Cheese)

6. Like Skunks They Emit A Noxious Acid

When feeling threatened, pangolins (similar to skunks, although they are unable to spray the liquid) are able to emit a noxious-smelling acid from glands which are situated near their anus to ward off predators.

7. Nobody Knows Exactly How Long Pangolins live

The oldest recorded pangolin lived in captivity for 19 years, and so its lifespan is presumed to be around twenty years if left in the wild, but no one knows for sure how long they live as these shy creatures have not been extensively studied. Pangolins are also rarely found in zoos as these mainly solitary animals don’t do well in captivity which leads to the animal becoming depressed and malnourished.

8. Pangolins Have Really Poor Eyesight

Most pangolins are nocturnal, with only the long-tailed pangolin (found in west and central Africa) being active during the day. They possess very small eyes in relation to their body size and thus have really poor eyesight, relying mainly on their hearing and a strong sense of smell to locate the ant hills and termite mounds on which they feed.

baby pangolin photo credit and copyright tikki hywood trust

A baby pangolin with its tiny eyes and developing scales (Photo Credit and Copyright: Tikki Hywood Trust)

9. Courtship Is Tricky

The male and female pangolins differ vastly in weight (they are thus classed as sexually dimorphic), with the male weighing up to 50 percent more than the female and the Indian species even reaching 90 percent! As pangolins prefer to lead a solitary life (aside from the mating season) and they don’t have a defined mating season, finding a suitable mate can be difficult. To attract the opposite sex the males mark their territory with urine and then wait for the female to find their scent.

10. Millions Have been Sold And Killed In The Last Decade

Man is the pangolin’s greatest threat, with an estimated 100,000 of these innocent creatures being captured annually from across Africa and Asia to be shipped to countries such as Vietnam and China where their scales and meat are sold. All eight species of pangolin are now so threatened with extinction that they feature on the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and are under international protection.

pangolins captured with bushmeat

Two pangolins hang amoungst a plunder of freshly killed animals for bushmeat (Photo Credit and Copyright: Africa Geographic Magazine)

With its kind eyes and gentle demeanor, the pangolin easily wins over hearts, and it is heartbreaking to know that this beautiful creature is on the brink of extinction. A lot needs to be done to protect this fragile animal (which shockingly accounts for up to 20% of the entire wildlife black market) if it is going to survive.

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Hiking Namibia’s Fish River Canyon Tue, 23 Aug 2016 14:59:51 +0000 Read More]]> The idea of traipsing around the Fish River canyon in the heat and the dust did not seem appealing to our good friend Simon. But now, upon reflection, he looks back and smacks himself for even thinking of passing up the opportunity to see one of the great wonders of the African continent.

Fish River Canyon

The Fish River Canyon is a place of stark beauty with spectacular Namibian scenery

He writes: ” My initial reluctance was purely down to ignorance. My idea of Namibia was that of dusty flatness and German accents. And whilst it is true that there are large parts of the country that are flat and dusty and some of the inhabitants do speak in an accent befitting its colonial past, Namibia is a very special place; it’s rugged, yet simply beauty hypnotic and enduring.

Canyon Roadhouse

The Canyon Roadhouse is a must when it comes to unusual destinations, complete with rusty old Fords from a bygone era

My introduction to accommodation in Namibia must be one of the world’s quirkiest destinations – the Canyon Roadhouse. A rusty old (and I mean OLD) abandoned car and a quiver tree on the side of a dusty road direct you to a restaurant and hotel like no other I had ever been to. Modelled on the desert motels in a bygone era of western America, one could be excused for expecting to find a John Ford movie character behind the counter or Thelma and Louise filling up their getaway vehicle at the gas pump.

I just loved it. Cleverly created by director Mannfred Goldbeck, the Canyon Road House is littered with half covered wrecks of vintage cars, broken windmills and abandoned broken down tractors. I found it so much fun it made me miss my childhood.

Quiver Tree in the Fish River Canyon

A quiver tree etched against one of Namibia’s famous sunsets

The surrounding desert is desolate and stark, punctuated by quiver trees and ‘koppies’. We were in the Gondwana Canyon Park is in the south of Namibia not far from the border with South Africa. The Road House is about 15 kilometres from the Fish River Canyon and a great place to rest a weary head after the long drive up from Cape Town.

We were there for a four day hike into the canyon, along with some guides and a geologists. Before we set off though, Mannfred took us to the edge so that we could shoot some photographs. Wow.

Fish River Canyon

On the edge!  Overlooking the spectacular Fish River Canyon

I was simply astounded as I stood on the precipice of this natural phenomenon that is so expansive, so vast and so oddly stirring. It is also rather strange to me that this remains a largely unheralded attraction, but this may be a good thing. The chance of bumping into another soul anywhere in or on the canyon are as remote as the canyon itself.

Fish River Canyon

The Fish River is a welcome respite after the heat of the day

Our three day amble into the canyon began with a gentle decent through a deep chasm just after sunset, although by then it was already sticky and hot. We gently toddled along a seasonal tributary of the Fish River, gratefully splashing in and out at various intervals before making our way to the Leeuwen Camp, our spot for the night. our first night camp. Tents had been pitched on a grassy bank up against the sheer vertical wall of a sandstone ziggurat. The black night sky in the stillness of the canyon was so romantic it was almost cheesy, as if painted by some set decorator called Ralph.

The next day we dawdled on in the relentless heat before eventually making our way to the top of the canyon to our camp, perched very high on the rim of a bend in the canyon. Our night’s camp was a slightly more structured with a dining room and a shower with a view that is surely unmatched in the world.

Fish River Canyon

The vast and rocky landscape of the largest canyon in the Southern Hemisphere is a sight to behold

Echo Camp further along was set up on two broad ledges of ancient golden sandstone. On the upper shelf, a table was laid for our evenings feast whilst our outdoor camp below on the river side. After three days in the canyon this was blissfully relaxing.

It was our final evening in the canyon and the fire side chat was all about returning to this wonderful place. Unanimously, we all wanted to return.

Read more about some of Namibia’s highlights or contact our friendly team to make your dream of an African safari a reality.

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