Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category



Family Safaris: “Can we take the kids?”

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
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Kids of all ages enjoy the African wilderness

Can we take the kids? Our answer, based on our personal experience is, “Yes! We highly recommend it!” Our experience is first-hand and in the most in-depth ways. Julia spent her summer holidays on her family’s farm in Zimbabwe exploring the bush with her cousins and friends. We’ve traveled with kids high and low in Africa and send countless multi-generational families to explore Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. Kids love the bush; they love being out in the wild and exploring. The surprising news is that Africa is welcoming and safe for children, especially when a safari is designed with kids in mind. Family safaris in Africa and multi-generational safaris are more popular than ever!

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Our Botswana guides engage children of all ages

Let’s discuss some common questions we receive from our families traveling to Africa:

1) How old should our kids be before we take them to Africa? This answer varies significantly as some destinations are child-friendly at a young age and others have age minimums. We find South Africa incredibly comfortable for families with young kids and recommend our South Africa Family Adventure. Many hotels and lodges do not have minimum ages, provide child minding services and even have activities and junior ranger programs for young ones. Most game drives are restricted to children above 6 years for safety reasons, but some lodges do offer “kiddie bumbles” after breakfast, or short game drives close to the lodge to let the children explore the bush in the big 4×4 vehicle a bit. Namibia (and many other destinations) features private bush villas and family-friendly activities such as sand dunes, kayaking, hiking, biking and more. For family safaris in Kenya and Tanzania, we recommend children from the ages of 8-10 years explore with their families based from private bush villas or private mobile camps set up just for your family. In Botswana, Paul Moleseng is our specialist guide who focuses on families. Our Elephant Family Safari takes children from seven-years-old, and Paul designs our safaris to cater to the interests of both the children and the parents. In family safaris in Uganda or Rwanda, teens above 15-years-old are welcome to chimp and gorilla trek. Can you imagine a more exciting high school graduation present than tracking mountain gorillas in the wild?!

2) How much time should we plan on safari? We recommend mixing things up a bit as traditional vehicle-based game drives can become long and tedious for young children – we include walking or hiking, boating trips and biking where possible. Three or four nights at a game lodge with a swimming pool and a variety of activities pairs well with several nights at the beach (we recommend the Tanzania Wildlife, Culture & Beach Safari) or in a family-friendly city like Cape Town or Swakopmund. We also keep driving distances and internal flying times to a minimum as too many lodge-hops can be tiring for families. Generally families travel to Africa during school holidays with an average length trip of 8-10 days.

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Paul Moleseng is our specialist family guide and an expert in leading family safaris

3) What about health and safety on my safari?  We provide information on CDC travel health recommendations and requirements as well as details on what questions to ask your travel doctor. If you are concerned about malaria and other diseases, we can make recommendations that include malaria-free areas such as Cape Town, Kwandwe and Madikwe or areas of Namibia. We also always recommend your insure your safari with trip insurance and medical evacuation coverage. Our family safaris are privately guided and you are met at the airport and escorted throughout your trip. With a local guide attending to your needs and concerns, you will feel safe and welcome. We know the destinations we work in intimately and can make recommendations on activities and touring for your free time. Our safari vehicles include safety belts for each seat and we require that you use them. Additionally, should you require car seats for young children, we can provide those in many destinations if they are requested in advance.

4) Will our kids meet local children? Yes! In most cases your children will have opportunities to interact with local children at schools we visit, in camps as many camps have managers with children, and also with other children traveling. We find that a highlight for children on safaris is meeting and interacting with local kids. If you are interested in doing a special activity with your children, such as visiting a school and bringing school supplies, please let us know in advance so we can make arrangements accordingly. We also work with Pack for a Purpose and indicate which hotels and lodges you are visiting during your safari participate in their programs. This is a great way to have your children consider the well-being of locals where they are traveling.

Email us today to start planning your family safari in Africa. We recommend planning a year or more in advance for travel over peak holiday dates (December holidays, Easter and Spring break) and at least six months in advance during other times. Many of the lodges that accept children are small and fill quickly. Bush homes and villas are one-of-a-kind and are reserved with a deposit, first-come, first-served.

A flower safari? With sharks? Where are we?

Monday, July 13th, 2015
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View of the fynbos and Walker Bay beyond. Photo courtesy Grootbos Private Nature Reserve.

Not far from Cape Town, along South Africa’s scenic coastline, is one of the country’s most unique nature reserves. South Africa conjures images of big game safaris, Zulu dancers, Table Mountain, maybe the wine country…but a flower safari? We admit, it’s not the first thing that comes to mind, which is why African Safari Company wanted to visit Grootbos Private Nature Reserve to experience this unique area first-hand. The area of Gaansbai and Walker Bay is more renown for shark diving (Vogue just voted Grootbos one of the top places to swim with the sharks), whale watching and rocky coastline dotted with hidden sandy beaches, but Grootbos has carved out a niche offering 4×4 flower safaris through the Cape Floral Kingdom, or the fynbos. The 2,500 hectacre reserve boasts over 750 species of flowers – many were discovered on the reserve itself! The fynbos is one of the world’s six floral kingdoms running along the coastline of South Africa’s Western Cape, and the smallest and most rich/bio-diverse per area. We explored the fynbos in a cushy, open-roof 4×4 Land Rover all while soaking up the surrounding sea and mountain views. From giant proteas to the rare milkwood forests, the fynbos came alive with our local guides’ narration and explanation. The birding wasn’t bad, either! While hummingbirds are endemic to the Americas, Africa is home to the equally beautiful sunbird. The area around Grootbos Lodge is teaming with birds and insects and the guides are trained to help you spot them all.
Luxury Suite at Grootbos Forest Lodge, photo courtesy Grootbos.

Luxury Suite at Grootbos Forest Lodge, photo courtesy Grootbos.

At the end of our “flower safari,” we returned to the luxury of the Forest Lodge and our private suite with fireplace, canopied bed, spa-worthy bathroom and private deck overlooking the forest and sea. Grootbos’ food and wine is noteworthy, as well. With so many incredible wineries at their doorstep, it’s hard to chose a pairing for an exquisite seafood dinner just pulled from Walker Bay…

Fine dining at Grootbos Forest Lodge. Photo courtesy Grootbos.

Fine dining at Grootbos Forest Lodge. Photo courtesy Grootbos.

You don’t have to be a botanist or even an amateur gardening enthusiast to appreciate Grootbos; honeymooners love the intimacy and exclusivity of Forest Lodge, while families relish the endless activities and comfort at Garden Lodge. Our South Africa Family Adventure Safari is ideal for families with young children looking for both comfort and adventure. We love it for the location, the cuisine and the service – all top-notch! So whether you plan to go on a serene flower safari or a not-so-serene shark cage dive, ask African Safari Company to include Grootbos Private Nature Reserve in your South African safari vacation. It pairs well with Cape Town, the winelands and a safari in Kwandwe (malaria-free and very family-friendly) or in the famous Sabi Sands / Kruger National Park.

Getting A Lift

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014
There aren’t many people who get to witness a rhino lift. I had no idea what I was in for Em Gatland, an African based photographer, was in for an amazing experience, though, when given the opportunity to join the game capture team at Lmfolozi Game Reserve in South Africa and document how it all happens. rhinocopter The annual air lift done at Lmfolozi involves the capture and relocation of rhino to other parks to reduce the chance of inbreeding, thus resulting in stronger bloodlines, which is ultimately beneficial for the future of the species. This year there were 30 rhino being darted and airlifted. rhinocopter1 Megan Lategan from Wildlife Act describes the operation in more detail. “Game capture and relocation is done for the benefit of the species and to ensure the strength of future bloodlines. It is a complex procedure and is only done when absolutely necessary. Thankfully the techniques used for rhino capture and relocation have significantly improved in recent years, gone are the days of large drug doses and corralling a dazed animal into a convenient location. As strange as it may seem airlifts are the best way to move these massive creatures, it allows them to be captured from any location; the rhino spends less time under anesthetic and ultimately endures less stress from the procedure. The significant improvement in this area has led to a marked increase in the success of relocating white rhino.” rhinocopter3 The rhino lift procedure is gentle on the darted rhino as it shortens the time the animal is kept drugged and respiration is not compromised and it avoids the need to travel over bumpy roads in a crate, which is how a rhino was transported in the past. rhinocopter4 The rhinos are airlifted using an old Vietnam Huey, which in itself is an adventure. They are lifted roughly 500 – 1000 meters into the air, suspended by their ankles. There is a crew of 3 vets, 3 pilots, roughly 5 ground staff and a game capture manager. What stood out the most to me is how precise this operation is; every single man has an invaluable role to play. rhinocopter5 Wildlife Act says, “This technique was first used on other species such as large antelope and buffalo, and proved to to be a very successful way to transport larger animals, not only by air but from the ground into a transport crate using a crane device. Since then it has been trialed and tested extensively with rhino, which included very thorough testing during the the entire process, such as monitoring blood pressure, oxygen levels, heart rate, and of course strain placed on limbs and joints. rhinocopter6 All four legs (and with white rhino the head) are used during the lift, this helps spread the weight evenly. From all the tests no negative impact, strains or injury has been recorded. The result is an incredibly safe and effective technique for the successful relocation. rhinocopter7 Story & Photos Courtesy Of Em Gatland via Africa Geographic.
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