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Posted on July 28th, 2015 by Morgan in .

 


Mike Test Drives Namibia

Posted on March 4th, 2015 by Stephanie Hunt in Blog.
Climbing the dunes at Sossusvlei

Climbing the dunes at Sossusvlei

There’s a buzz developing around Namibia. Magazines and travel programs feature Namibia more often and I’m getting far more enquiries about trips to this once overlooked part of Africa.

In November I set out to rediscover Namibia: to explore the landscape, wildlife and accommodation so I could better advise my clients. And so Adventurlogers…here is my advice: Continue reading …


Okahirongo River Camp – Solitude and Crocodiles

Posted on March 4th, 2015 by Stephanie Hunt in Safaris: Namibia (camps).

View of River Camp and Kunene RiverThe Okahirongo River Camp is set in the far northwestern reaches of Namibia, near the Angolan border. Rough roads and lack of facilities have kept travelers away from the remote wilderness of the Marienfluxx region, so those who venture here discover a solitude and privacy lost to the rest of the world.

A tent with a viewThe camp offers surprising luxury considering the remote location. Set on a sweeping ridge, the camp offers breathtaking views of the Kunene River. Wooden cottages are cleverly built into the rocky terrain, each housing a luxury tent with private bathroom, king size bed, indoor-outdoor open-air shower, and private deck.

Local Himba villageScenic drives and walks exploring the rocky mountains and golden sand dunes can be combined with fishing in the Kunene River, or cruising to explore the region’s rich birdlife and spot the river’s many crocodiles. The turquoise waters of the swimming pool and shade of the comfortable lounge and library areas offer respite from the desert heart.

The area is the traditional home to the Himba people, one of the last semi-nomadic, desert-dwelling peoples. The Himba village near the camp remains unspoiled by tourism, thanks to the remoteness of the region, and a visit here is a unique opportunity to witness an ancient culture.

 

Okahirongo’s River Camp can be combined with its sister Elephant Camp in the Purros Conservancy, 200km south of the Kunene River.

 


Little Kulala: Elegance amongst the red sands

Posted on August 28th, 2014 by Stephanie Hunt in Safaris: Namibia (camps).

Little KulalaTucked away on a 37,000 hectare private Kulala Wilderness Reserve, Little Kulala shows off the haunting beauty of the Namib desert. Inspired by its environment, the neutral colours, rich textures and natural light of the camp blend perfectly into the sprawling desert.   You will truly experience the vastness of seemingly endless landscapes and vast starlit skies.

Little Kulala VillaKulala means “to sleep” and the camp is made up of 11 thatch roofed villas, or kulalas, each with climate control, ensuite with indoor/outdoor shower, a private deck and plunge pool. Each kulala has a rooftop skybed where you can lie back and drink in the African night skies.

The spectacular red dunes of Sossusvlei are what bring people to this area and Little Kulala is the only camp with direct access. Climb Big Daddy with its red sands reaching over 300m above the valley floor. Head out in the early morning and capture the deep reds and rich shadows of the sunrise over Sossusvlei.   Or take a hot air balloon safari, floating across the dramatic dunes and returning for a champagne breakfast.

Little Kulala SkybedBut there is more to explore than the dunes. Take a quad bike tour of the beautiful Kulala Wilderness Reserve. Wander the hills and dunes on one of the guided walking trails. Walk or drive in search of the smaller desert animals like the bat-eared fox, or take a night walk to look for the dancing lady spider.

Then return to camp to shop at the craft boutique, lounge in the library or enjoy a sundowner overlooking the magic desert landscape. Just drink in the serenity.

The Red Dunes of Sossusvlei


Shipwrecks, Dunes and Desert Wildlife

Posted on August 28th, 2014 by Stephanie Hunt in Safaris: Namibia.

Namibia is a unique African experience, with its battered coastline, dramatic red sand dunes, moonscape deserts and wildlife that has adapted to the arid terrain. This rough planning guide explores Namibia’s major highlights. The distances are significant, so we usually arrange for transport by light aircraft between destinations.

We suggest you allow at least 8-10 days for this journey.

Sossusvlei

The Red Dunes of SossusvleiStarting in Windhoek, fly first to Namibia’s most spectacular attraction. The large, white salt and clay pan of Sossuvlei is best know for the dramatic red dunes that surround it. These are some of the highest dunes in the world, reaching almost 400 meters. A photographers dream, the rich reds and dark shadows of Sossusvlei in the early morning are guaranteed to deliver dramatic images.

The incredible landscape can be viewed on game drives or horseback, from a hot air balloon or a quad bike. It looks empty, but on closer inspection you will discover teaming life on the ground and in the air. Snakes, geckos, ostrich, springbok, aardwolf and raptors are just a few of the creatures that have adapted to survive in this desert landscape.

Little Kulala offers a luxury desert experience. Set amongst ancient camelthorn trees on the Auab River, it’s well positioned for exploring Sossusvlei.

Skeleton Coast

Shipwreck on the Skeleton CoastThe Bushmen called this region “The Land God Made in Anger”. The Portuguese sailors called it “The Gates of Hell”. Whether viewed from the land or the sea, this stretch of Atlantic Ocean coastline has a sense of foreboding danger. But the mist enshrouded beaches, rusted shipwrecks and bleached whalebones also have a melancholy beauty.

The vast rolling sand dunes and uninhabited desert plains are home to the greatest concentrations of desert adapted elephant and lion, as well as the endangered black rhino. The dunes meet a desolate coastline, and a scenic flight affords incredible views of the stark shoreline and lonely shipwrecks.

Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp is an exciting new camp that opened in August 2014. The Camp has magnificent views and glorious isolation, with only eight tented rooms, and offers great opportunities to explore the coastline and the infinite plains.

Etosha National Park

Rhinos on Ongava Private Game ReserveEtosha is one of Africa’s largest game parks, with its main feature being a saltpan so large it can be seen from space. Wildlife is abundant here. Elephants roam in the thicker vegetation, lions are camouflaged in the golden grasslands, giraffe rise majestically above the desert landscape and the endangered black rhino wanders the plains. Over 340 species of bird can be found here, and after the rains a cloud of flamingo fills the skies as water fills the saltpan.

We recommend staying in the Ongava Private Game Reserve that borders Etosha. The luxurious Little Ongava has 3 spacious private units, each with its own plunge pool and magnificent views over the plains. The Ongava Tented Camp is in a different section of the reserve, with eight comfortable tented rooms. Both are ideal places from which to explore Etosha and the many private hides and walks of Ongava.

From here you can return to Windhoek, or consider adding Serra Cafema on the northern border.

This is just a rough guide. Let us create a personalized itinerary that is perfect just for you.

Ostrich family near Hoanib Skeleton Coast


Discover Zimbabwe’s History, Grandeur and Wildlife

Posted on May 29th, 2014 by Stephanie Hunt in Safaris: Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe is becoming a hot safari destination again.  Its praise is deserved because “Zim” is home to some of Africa’s best guides, most amazing landscapes and some surprising history.  This rough planning guide explores the breadth of Zimbabwe’s historical and native wonders.

Victoria Falls
Start your trip at Victoria Falls: the Smoke that Thunders.

You will marvel at the immensity of the Falls themselves: from the ground, the air or the mighty Zambezi River.

This is also the playground of Zimbabwe.  Thrill seekers will love the bungee jumping, hydro-speeding and a host of other adventures.  How long you stay will depend entirely on the length of your bucket list.

Victoria Falls

Hwange National Park

The largest game park in Zimbabwe, Hwange stretches south of Victoria Falls to Bulawayo and west to the Kalahari Desert.  It is home to a stunning array of wildlife and famous for its massive herds of buffalo and elephant.

We suggest you try out a couple of the intimate tented camps scattered through the park.

Somalisa and Little Makalolo are both exclusive tented camps, situated in the middle eastern section of the park.  Somalisa offers breathtaking views of savannah grasslands, while Little Makalolo overlooks a vibrant waterhole.  Both offer guided walks, game drives and birdwatching.

Camp Hwange is further west set on a rise in a private concession, overlooking the Shumba Pans.

Lion spotted near Little Makalolo

Matobo National Park

The oldest national park in Zimbabwe, Matobo is as much about history as it is about wildlife.

Discover a rich heritage of ancient rock paintings amongst the granite kopjes of this ancient landscape.  Created over 2,000 years ago by the San (bushmen) there are beautiful friezes of giraffes, elephants and kudus.

These hills were also the scene of the famous indaba between white settlers and Ndebele leaders in 1896.

We recommend either Big Cave Camp or Camp Amalinda which both offer comfortable accommodation and sweeping views of the Matopos Hills.

Rock Art at Matobo

Great Zimbabwe

Prepare to be surprised!  Great Zimbabwe is a ruined, walled city in the southeastern hills of Zimbabwe.  Once the royal palace for the Zimbabwean monarch, much of the grandeur of the place remains despite the crumbling walls.

While visiting Great Zimbabwe you can stay at Norma Jeans Lakeview Resort, quaint B&B style accommodation that makes a homey change from safari camps..

Great Zimbabwe Ruins

More Wildlife?

If you’re up for a little more wildlife than consider heading to Gonarezhou National Park on the Mozambique border.  Stay at the luxurious Chilo Gorge, with its spectacular views and first class guiding, or Singita Pamushana.

This is just a rough guide.  Let us create a personalized itinerary that is perfect just for you.


Finding The Apes

Posted on January 21st, 2014 by Stephanie Hunt in Resources.

Perhaps the most fascinating, irresistible and charming creatures in Africa are the Apes.  Hidden in the dense jungle and rainforest areas, Africa’s gorillas and chimpanzees require time and effort to visit.  But the rare opportunity to share time with our distant cousins will be one of the highlights of your safari.

Mountain Gorilla

Gorilla gorilla beringei  Mountain gorilla

Quick Facts

  • The largest living primate, an adult male gorilla can be 1.8 meters tall and weigh 180kg.
  • Gorillas live in family groups, called troops, with up to 30 members.
  • Highly sociable, gorillas form strong attachments to members of their troop.
  • One mature male, known as the Silverback, normally acts as leader and chief protector.
  • Gorillas inhabit dense forest and rainforest, wandering over a 15-25km home range.
  • Feeding and resting through the day, gorillas build nests from bent branches or grasses each evening.
  • Gorillas are shy and retiring and will seek no trouble unless harassed.  But they will fiercely defend their family group when threatened.
  • Twenty-five distinct vocalizations are recognised and used for group communication in the dense vegetation.
  • There are only 880 mountain gorillas left in the world.

Where to See the Gorillas

  • Approximately 480 gorillas inhabit the Virunga Ranges.  This extinct volcanic region runs along the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • The remaining gorillas inhabit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in southwestern Uganda.

 About Visiting the Gorillas

  • Getting to see the gorillas is not easy and there are no guarantees.
  • At least a moderate level of fitness is required as you will have to trek through thick vegetation and up steep slopes in search of the gorillas.  The trek can last for several hours.
  • Local guides keep track of the animals, but they move daily and are not easy to track.  Visitors have been disappointed.
  • Your time with the gorillas is limited to 1 hour and facemasks may be required to prevent transmission of disease.
  • You may not use a flash, so choose your lens accordingly.
  • You will require an official permit to see the gorillas.

 

Western Lowland Gorilla

western lowland gorilla

Quick Facts

  • The smallest subspecies of gorilla, the average male still stands 1.6m tall and weighs 168 kg.
  • Compared to mountain gorillas there is a greater gender size difference, with females being half the size of males.
  • Endangered but far more common and widespread than the mountain gorillas.
  • Females don’t start reproducing until around 9 years old, and they generally have one offspring every 5 years.
  • When males reach maturity they go through a “bachelor stage” that can last several years.  Whereas females are never found alone.
  • This breed has the smallest family groups of all gorillas, averaging 4-8 members.
  • Highly sociable, gorillas form strong attachments to family members.
  • One mature male, known as the Silverback, normally acts as leader and chief protector.
  • The western lowland gorilla inhabits dense rainforest throughout central Africa.
  • Western gorillas frequently stand upright, but walk in a hunched, quadruped fashion.
  • Feeding and resting through the day, gorillas build nests from bent branches or grasses each evening.
  • All gorillas are shy and retiring and will seek no trouble unless harassed.  But they will fiercely defend their family group when threatened.

Where to See the Gorillas

  • The forests of the Congo (Brazzaville) harbour the largest population of western lowland gorillas.
  • Odzalla-Kokoua National Park has the densest population and new lodges are beginning to open, making this area more accessible.

About Visiting the Gorillas

  • Getting to see the gorillas is not easy and there are no guarantees.
  • At least a moderate level of fitness is required as you will have to trek on foot through thick vegetation, often for several hours.
  • Local guides keep track of the animals, but they move daily and are not easy to track.  Visitors have been disappointed.
  • Your time with the gorillas is limited to 1 hour and facemasks may be required to prevent transmission of disease.
  • You may not use a flash, so choose your lens accordingly.

 

Chimpanzee

chimpanzee

Quick Facts

  • Chimpanzees are humans’ closest relatives, sharing 98% of our genes.
  • Highly sociable, chimps move in flexible groups of 15-80, called troops.
  • Agile climbers, chimps build nests high up in the trees to rest during the day and sleep at night.
  • During the day chimps move largely on the ground, either bipedally or knuckle-walking.
  • Bigger than you might think, the adult male weighs up to 70kg and reaches heights of 1.7 meters.
  • Largely vegetarian, chimps do supplement their diets with meat.  Males hunt in groups for small antelope, monkeys and baboons.
  • Extremely noisy creatures, chimps communicate through screams, pant hoots, squeaks and barks.

Where to See the Chimpanzees

  • Chimps are present throughout a number of African countries, but the best place to see them is in Tanzania or Uganda.
  • The Mahale Mountains National Park, in western Tanzania, has an estimated 1,000 chimps in residence.
  • Gombe Stream National Park, also in western Tanzania, is where Jane Goodall studied chimps and remains home to several groups of habituated chimps.
  • Kibale National Park in Uganda is home to 1,500 chimps.
  • Chimps can also be seen at Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Kyamburu Gorge in Uganda.

About Visiting the Chimpanzees

  • You will have to trek to find the chimpanzees and the length of the walk can vary from a wander to the back of the camp to a 10-hour trek.
  • Local guides stay in touch with the chimps day to day movements.  As long as you’re up to walking, it’s unusual for people not to see the chimps in a 3-day stay.
  • When you find the chimps you are often able to get in close proximity as they are habituated.
  • Your time with the chimps is limited to 1 hour and facemasks may be required to prevent transmission of disease.
  • You may not use a flash, so choose your lens accordingly.
  • Tracking chimps is easier in the wet season when they don’t roam so far, but the dry season (July – October) is better for photos as the foliage is less dense.

Finding The Big Five

Posted on January 21st, 2014 by Stephanie Hunt in Resources.

The term “big five” was coined by game hunters to refer to their most prized kills.  These five animals are considered the most ferocious when cornered, and so the most difficult to “bag”.

The mystique of the “big five” continues today, although tourists are more likely to shoot with their camera than a rifle.   Many of our clients head out on safari with these animals at the top of their “must see” list.   So here are some quick facts to consider.

 

African Lion

Lions in Kalahari

Quick Facts

  • Social animals, lions live in prides of several females, their young and a couple of males.
  • Female lions tend to hunt more than the males.
  • Lions ambush their prey rather than tracking and chasing.
  • Female lions synchronize the birth of their cubs and cooperate in raising them.
  • Females tend to stay with the pride for life.  Males will leave between 2 and 4 years of age.
  • The size and colour of a male lion’s mane shows other males how old he is.  The darker and larger the mane, the older the lion.

Did You Know?

  • You are most likely to catch a lion napping – they rest approximately 20 hours a day.
  • Lions can climb trees.  In certain areas lions will rest in trees to avoid buffalo and tsetse flies.

Best Places for an Encounter

Botswana: Okavango Delta & Linyanti River region.

South Africa:  Greater Kruger Area

Zambia: South Luangwa National Park & Kafue National Park.

Kenya: Masai Mara, Tsavo and Amboseli National Parks

Tanzania: Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area & Katavi National Park.

 

African Elephants

Elephant Linyanti

Quick Facts

  • The African Elephant is the largest mammal in the word and can be 3 meters tall and weigh up to 6,000 kilos.
  • Elephants are vegetarian and consume 170 kilos of vegetation daily and drink 120 – 190 liters of waters.
  • Elephants live in woodlands, forest, deserts and savanna.  They are spread across 37 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Peaceful if left alone, elephants can be dangerous when they feel threatened.
  • Elephants are extremely social animals, living in family groups of up to 100 members, headed by a matriarch.
  • Elephants communicate using a variety of low frequency grumbles, which can be picked up as much as 10 kilometers away.

Did You Know?

  • You are most likely to catch an elephant snacking – they spend 16-18 hours a day eating.
  • Elephants prefer one tusk over another, just as humans are right or left-handed.

Best Places for an Encounter

Botswana: Linyanti River region, Mashatu and Okavango Delta

South Africa: Greater Kruger Area

Namibia: Etosha National Park

Zimbabwe: Hwange National Park & Mana Pools National Park

Kenya: Masai Mara, Tsavo, Meru and Amboseli National Parks

Tanzania: Serengeti National Park, Tarangire National Park, The Selous

Zambia: South Luangwa National Park & Lower Zambezi National Park

 

African Leopard

Leopard

Quick Facts

  • Leopards are shy, nocturnal animals that prefer not to be seen.  Their spots act as camouflage.
  • Leopards mark their territory with urine and faeces and by leaving claw marks on the bark of trees.
  • Leopards can climb, swim and live in a wider range of habitats than most other cats.  They prefer thick bush and riverine forests.
  • Smaller than a lion, the leopard is still a big cat!  And adult male can weigh up to 90 kilos.
  • Extremely fast and agile, a leopard can run at speeds over 55 kilometers per hour and jump as high as 3 meters straight up.
  • A leopard will stalk and pounce its prey rather than chase over long distances.

Did You Know?

  • You are most likely to spot a leopard in a tree – they use trees as observation platforms and to protect their kill from scavengers.  Don’t forget to look up!
  • The leopard’s spots are circular in East Africa and square in southern Africa.

Best Places for an Encounter

Botswana: Okavango Delta & Linyanti River region

South Africa: Greater Kruger Area

Zimbabwe: Hwange & Mana Pools National Parks

Kenya: Masai Mara and Samburu

Tanzania: Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Zambia: South Luangwa, Kafue & Lower Zambezi National Parks

 

African Rhino

Rhino

Quick Facts

  • There are two species of rhinoceros in Africa: the black rhino and the white rhino.
  • All rhinos are in fact grey.
  • What differentiates white and black rhino is the lips.  Black rhino have a prehensile lip to strip leaves from bushes and white rhino have a long, flat lip for grazing.
  • There are only 4,000 black rhino left in the wild.  They are usually solitary and live in savanna, shrub and tropical bush areas.
  • White rhinos are more numerous, with over 17,000 remaining.  They are more social and are heavily concentrated in southern Africa.
  • A charging rhino can reach speeds of up to 55 kilometers per hour.
  • An adult rhino can weigh up over 2,500 kilos.
  • Rhino horn is highly prized in traditional Asian medicine.  Increasing poaching to cash in on this demand has brought rhinos close to extinction.

Did You Know?

  • You are most likely to see a rhino in South Africa – over 80% of the African rhino population is concentrated in South Africa.
  • White rhinos derive their name from the Dutch word “weit”, meaning wide.  This reference is to the white rhino’s wide, square jaw.

Best Places for an Encounter

South Africa: Great Kruger Area

Namibia: Etosha National Park

Kenya: Lake Nakuru, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

Tanzania: Ngorongoro Crater

 

The Cape Buffalo

Buffalo herd from hot air balloon, Kafue, Zambia

Quick Facts

  • The buffalo is considered one of Africa’s most dangerous animals and is said to have killed more game hunters than any other animal.
  • Hunters have an adage that says the buffalo never forgets.  They are known to ambush hunters that have injured them in the past.
  • Left alone and unthreatened, buffalo tend to be quite placid.
  • Buffalo are exclusively grazers.
  • On open grasslands they appear in large herds of up to 1,000.
  • The number of buffalo is shrinking due to hunting and domestic cattle diseases.  There are thought to be 1 million left in Africa.
  • When chased by predators the herd sticks close together, marshaling the young into the centre for protection.

Did You Know?

  • You are most likely to see a buffalo with a bird on its back – the Oxpecker bird keeps the buffalo clean by eating all the parasites that live in its thick hide.
  • Buffalo will engage in mobbing behaviour to fight off predators, especially if a calf cries for help.  They have been known to kill a lion.

Best Place for an Encounter

Botswana: Okavango Delta & Linyanti River region.

South Africa: Greater Kruger Area

Zimbabwe: Hwange & Mana Pools National Park

Kenya: Masai Mara & Amboseli National Park

Tanzania: Serengeti National Park & Katavi National park

Zambia: South Luangwa & Lower Zambezi National Park

 


Travel the Classic Northern Route

Posted on September 3rd, 2013 by Mike Haines in Safaris: Tanzania.

9 Days in Manyara, Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater and the vast Serengeti

The classic northern circuit of Tanzania, that includes Manyara, Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti. Experience these prime wildlife viewing areas with a private guide and safari vehicle. The guides we use are some of the best in Tanzania, and know each area intimately. Accommodation is in fabulous luxury tented camps, plus the stunning Lemai Serengeti Lodge to end. With the wildebeest migration being so dynamic, we can adapt the schedule to suit the season. Continue reading …



“Rough It” in Style in the Okavango

Posted on July 17th, 2013 by Mike Haines in Family Safaris, Safaris: Botswana.

8 Days in Small Tented Camps in the Okavango and Linyanti Region

Explore the Okavango Delta from small tented safari camps tucked away on large wildlife rich islands. Flying across the Delta is part of the experience as you spot wildlife below. Activities include boating, game drives, traditional dug out canoes and walking safaris.  This is a more affordable Botswana safari option. Continue reading …