Water Crisis in Cape Town

Thanks to its famous coastline and peninsular setting, tourists in Cape Town expect that they will be surrounded water — and lots of it. But as visitors have descended this month for the peak summer tourist season, they have been greeted at the airport with signs beseeching them to “Slow the flow: Save H20” and “Don’t waste a drop!” among others.

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Cape Town is in the throes of a severe drought because unseasonably dry winters have led to dangerously low dam levels. As of mid-December, the city’s dams were at about 33 percent capacity, according to the mayor’s office, and what officials have dubbed “Day Zero” is looming: that’s the date the dams will drop below 13.5 percent, taps will be turned off, and residents will have to line up at 200 checkpoints across the city to collect daily water allotments, with police and military deployed to monitor the situation. As of Dec. 18, based on current consumption and expected rainfall, Day Zero is projected to be April 29, 2018.

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“The city of Cape Town could conceivably become the first major city in the world to run out of water, and that could happen in the next four months,” said Dr. Anthony Turton, a professor at the Centre for Environmental Management at the University of the Free State. “It’s not an impending crisis — we’re deep, deep, deep in crisis.”

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As the city races to implement alternatives through recycling, boreholes and desalination by February, residents are restricted to 87 liters (23 gallons) of water per person per day. “We are all in this together and we can only save water while there is still water to be saved,” Zara Nicholson, the spokeswoman for Executive Mayor Patricia de Lille, said in an email. Residents are asked to meet that number by limiting showers to two minutes, turning off taps while brushing teeth, avoiding flushing toilets regularly (“If it’s yellow, let it mellow,” as one sign puts it) and using recycled water when they do, not watering gardens or topping off swimming pools, and using hand sanitizer instead of soap and water. But as the city struggles to hit a household consumption target of less than 500 million liters per day, anxiety continues to build.

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“I think it’s kind of like, you know when you have a health scare, so you just ignore it till you’re dying on the ground?” said Natalie Roos, a Cape Town-based blogger. “I think that’s pretty much where we’re at.”

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Despite the gravity of the situation, officials say that visitors are welcome. “The City of Cape Town certainly welcomes and encourages all tourists to Cape Town to visit our beautiful iconic city,” Ms. Nicholson wrote. “Tourism is a major job creator and one our most important sectors.”

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About 150,000 people, or 10 percent of the city’s 1.5 million annual foreign visitors, visit Cape Town in December, but many tourists are unaware of the severity of the situation until they hear pilots making announcements just before landing at Cape Town International Airport. Experts say there’s no reason for travelers to stay away, but raising awareness and water consciousness is essential.

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“Tourists traveling to a destination, in terms of being a responsible traveler, should always be aware of context of a destination to which they’re traveling, whether it’s cultural sensitivity or religious sensitivity,” said Lisa Scriven, the director of Levelle Perspectives, which works to implement sustainable tourism practices. “This is water sensitivity.”

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Ms. Scriven pointed out that the surge in tourists does not correlate to a surge in water consumption — many Capetonians leave the city for the holidays and the construction industry shuts down; tourists only represent a 1 to 3 percent increase in population during the season. But the travel industry is encouraging sustainable practices for all, locals and visitors alike: hotels send notices upon booking and add signage asking guests to be conscientious during stays, while also removing bath plugs, installing new shower heads that reduce water flow, adding timers to help guests keep showers under two minutes, and refraining from daily linen changes.

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The eco-friendly Hotel Verde has placed stickers in bathrooms educating guests on how many glasses of water are used in one bath while also incentivizing guests for good water practices — giving discounts for using their own glasses and not requesting ice, for instance. The Taj Cape Town is closing down steam rooms and hot tubs in its spa and has stopped offering a standard honeymoon amenity of a rose-petal laden bath. The city’s “Save Like a Local” campaign asks all visitors, whether they’re staying in hotels or holiday rentals, to pitch in — by using a bucket in the shower to recycle water, not requesting fresh towels and linens daily, and adapting the practices that are becoming the norm for Capetonians.

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“Now do you see this beautiful bath? It’s now a sculpture,” the Airbnb host Alison von During said she tells her guests as she shows them around, before briefing them on the water restrictions.

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Although things may change if Day Zero becomes a reality, for now travelers are encouraged to be respectful of the crisis while still enjoying a visit to one of the world’s most beautiful cities — the income generated by tourism is not something South Africa can afford to lose, as tourism accounts for 9.4 percent of the country’s GDP.

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“The tourist dollar is lifeblood of economy, and we obviously don’t want send out a symbol that the city is going to collapse,” Dr. Turton said. “I think it’s important that all tourists become hyperaware that there is a serious water crisis, but I don’t think we want them to have a bad experience as a result of that. We want to appeal to the tourists’ conscience, to enjoy the city but do the right thing by the local community.”

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The Chameleon

Chameleons are one of my favorite animals to see while out on a game drive. As we finished our refreshments at the sundowner stop mid-way through our evening game drive from Buffalo Camp, we watched as the sun slowly moved behind the Drankensburg mountains. While heading back to Camp for a tasty dinner around the fire, Sonny Boy my tracker, armed himself with a spotlight to see what we might find lurking in the African bushveld waiting to be discovered.

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The mysterious Chameleon is always the one I keep my eye out for.

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Just before we reached our Camp, Sonny Boy, who I call eagle-eye, spotted something up in a small tree.

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I had a slight suspicion of what it might be, so got out of the vehicle to retrieve the mysterious little creature. Gently picking it up, with a gaping mouth and puffed up body, I presented our great find, the Chameleon, to my guests.

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This particular Chameleon is called the Flap-necked Chameleon, whose common name is derived from the large, movable flaps that protrude from either side of the upper surface of its neck. They are one of the most common ones you will find from the 15 species that call South Africa home.

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My guests were absolutely amazed at how Sonny Boy managed to spot this Chameleon up in a tree. I explained to them, they are reasonably easy to spot, if you know what to look for. As the spotlight shines on them, they become almost luminous white in color compared to their surrounding vegetation. Luckily this one was very relaxed. The Chameleon just grabbed a hold of my hand, did not even move, and allowed us to take photos.

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It wrapped its tail around my finger and clung on with a strong grip.  The tail is prehensile, which allows them to hold on to small branches to keep their grip and stabilize themselves in the perfect position to catch insects. I was still surprised at how relaxed it was. Normally the Chameleon would try and get away, thinking it’s going to become dinner, running up your arm, looking for an escape at the highest point.

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While we were enjoying the view I explained a bit about why it is such a unique lizard, especially with the ability to change color.

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As many believe the sole purpose of a Chamaeleon changing color is to conceal itself.  Although a change in color is very good for camouflage, in fact, the ability to change color has a deeper purpose. The color changing is to reflect their moods and send signals to other Chameleons. For example, darker colors tend to mean a Chameleon is angry, and lighter colors are used to attract mates.

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Then there are some Chameleons who change color to help adjust to changes in temperature. A light color would help with cooling the body and darker colors would warm the body up. They certainly are complex creatures.

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I can explain this unique method of the Chameleon in another way. They have special cells (called iridophores) under their skin. These special cells contain a pigment that reflects light. By contracting and expanding the skin, they cause these special cells to move and change the structure. These cells act like prisms, reflecting different wavelengths of light to create the variety of tones we see.

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As everyone finished taken photos, I placed the Chameleon back where we found him, deep in the small tree. As they are prey to most owls, I wanted to ensure he was not spotted.

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The whole experience probably lasted 5 to 10 minutes. Seeing a Chameleon is always a treat and special experience for me. I know it is exciting to track and search for the Big 5, but it is easy to forget that all around us, behind each bush or up in a tree, something small and unique is hiding, waiting to be discovered if you just know what to look for.

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I normally have a bet with Sonny Boy, who can spot the most Chameleons. It seems like I am always on the losing end though to Mr. eagle eyes. So who would dare to come and challenge me and Sonny Boy in a friendly bet of Chameleon spotting while we take on the wild bush of Kapama Private Game Reserve?

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Story and photos by: Ben Scheepers, Buffalo Camp


Kicheche’s Spot of the Week

 Someone (name with-held) complained to me this week, with very little December spirit, that she had done half a dozen African safaris yet never really had a decent leopard sighting …. she obviously had never been to a Kicheche Mara Conservancy.

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Last week’s Figumentary was good even by her and her co-star’s heady standards. Firstly some super simulated spats (wonderfully captured, thanks Karen and Andy Richardson) and then something a little more fishy.
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First time we’ve seen her feasting on a catfish, anyone out there ever seen this in Kenya? Thanks Stephanie – 3rd time visit we understand.

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Needless to say the leopard-less lady is now booked for March. Fig … not just for Christmas.

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10 reasons to visit ol Donyo in Kenya


Lundi

The Jabulani herd is famous in  South Africa and affords travelers the utmost honor of visiting, learning about, touching and feeding these amazing giants. The herd is comprised of rescue elephants, with Jabulani being the original rescues and also,not to brag for him,  the beautiful face on the bottles of Amarula Cream liqueur.

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Each elephant in the Jabulani herd has their unique place and role: Tokwe is our regal matriarch, Sebakwe the mighty father, Fishan the enforcer to name just a few. Mambo is our most well-known baby, notorious for his tomfoolery and teenage boy antics. What mother could possibly have the strength and patience to deal with such a spirited young boy as well as help protect the rest of the herd? Lucky for us, we have Lundi!

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Long before Camp Jabulani was created, the herds’ originators lived on a farm in Zimbabwe. There, their handlers were happy farming cattle during the day and the elephants could relax in the evenings. It was tough work for the elephants: long hours under the hot African sun, but at least they were a family. One day, everything changed.

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The farm was taken away from the owner and the elephants were chased down in a massive culling operation. Elephants were shot in front of their young and as the families ran, the young ones were separated from their parents. In the mad dash somehow, young Lundi found young Tokwe hiding in a bush. Tokwe welcomed the comfort of a friend with an open trunk and let Lundi hide with her. From that day on, Tokwe and Lundi have been inseparable best friends and Lundi would do anything for her saviour Tokwe.

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Many years have since passed. The elephants have all adjusted better to their home here at  Jabulani – much better than we could have hoped. Lundi and Tokwe, have managed to stay as close as sisters through everything. Each of them happy enough in their new home to have babies of their own. Out in the bush, when Tokwe takes the lead of the herd, Lundi is not far behind her faithful companion. She mimics Tokwe’s every move and makes sure the rest of the herd follows in line. Lundi acts as second in command to Tokwe and we like to think of her as the herds’ teacher.

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One day while out in the bush, Lundi caught wind of some lions roaming in the area. She slowly snuck to the back of the line as the rest of her family members pressed on following Tokwe’s lead. Lundi then separated herself from the herd and began to chase down the lion clan. Soon enough, she found them: 3 lionesses dozing under an Acacia tree, not too far from the herds destined feeding spot for the morning. She let out a mighty trumpet and charged the lionesses repeatedly until they scattered up a hill. As Lundi walked off triumphantly, she suddenly realized she had strayed too far from the herd and had no idea where they could be. She began to run, calling for her family over and over again. Finally, after a half hours’ worth of running, she found them at the watering hole. The whole herd began to rumble in relief, welcoming their protector and teacher back home. As Lundi ran through the family, checking each one over with her trunk, she made sure to come to Tokwe last. As she stood in front of her best friend, you could see the emotions pouring out from each of them. They embraced trunks and began to rumble to one another, vowing to never lose each other again.


A Small Surprise on a Big Buffalo

We left the Kapama Buffalo Camp around 6:00am in the morning. As we approach summer time our program changes so we leave slightly earlier in the mornings so we can catch the best sunrises and animal activity. You could already feel the crisp early morning bite was slowly subsiding into a pleasant freshness that only the change in season can bring.

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We were only about a week away from summer and the Impala lambs were already dropping. As I was sipping away on some cold water, I knew this is exactly what the herbivores must be doing now. When you see many animals passing by the waterholes early in the morning, one must be prepared for a very warm day here in the South African bushveld.

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It was the final half hour of our morning game drive. I decided to go past three dams, each slightly north from the other, almost in a straight line. These dams are surrounded by deep drainage lines covered by Tamboti and Jackalberry trees, as well as the odd Guarri Bush. We had been blessed in the past here by numerous Big 5 sightings, including regular leopard sightings of a resident female and her cub that has since been seen enjoying her own company as she looks for new territory for herself.

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On this particular morning the first two dams were only accompanied by an impala bachelor herd, a warthog or two and a small herd of kudus. As we approached the third and I turned off the engine, the silence was broken by soft grunts of buffalo and the high pitches of the red-billed oxpeckers. We all sat for a moment to take in our scenery and appreciate the privilege of being surrounded by such beauty and wonder.

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We watched in awe as around 150 Cape buffalo appeared out of the tree line and made their way down to the water’s edge. The group became louder as they pushed their way through to find an open place to drink. Many oxpeckers flew down to drink as well. After quenching their thirst the buffalo waded through the shallow section up towards us.

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While scanning the area with my binoculars I noticed one oxpecker looked quite different from the rest, even the call wasn’t what I was used to. I immediately smiled as I realized that what I was looking at was a yellow-billed oxpecker!

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This is a bird found in the area but far more rare than the regularly sighted red-billed oxpecker which is native to the Savanna of sub-Saharan Africa, and can be found just about anywhere that there are roaming grazing herds, from the Central African Republic to Sudan as well as all of South Africa.

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I was so excited I started snapping away with my camera while explaining to my guests that this was my first sighting on Kapama of this oxpecker. The eye of the Yellow-billed oxpecker is bright red and lacks the large yellow orbital ring of the Red-billed oxpecker. The final give away is as the name suggest, it has a yellow bill with red on the tip.

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Some times it’s the small things that many will overlook, that are the real special sightings; you just need to know where to look.

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Story and photos by: Monika Malewski – Buffalo Camp


15 Reasons To Visit Sossusvlei: Part 4

10. Just be

Quite simply, just be. Be present in a place that hasn’t changed for millions upon millions of years. Relax and savor the blissful silence. Apart from birdsong, you won’t hear anything else and it’s wonderfully refreshing. Surrounded by nature and solitude, it is the perfect place for yoga, meditation or simple quiet reflection. Just breathe…

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11. Traverse the dunes on a quadbike

Just like running down the side of a sand dune, I have to admit that exploring the dunes on an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. With the warm sun casting its afternoon glow, we set out – with unflattering helmets and all – and let the adrenaline kick in.

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The vehicles are automatic and you can go at your own pace. Either stick to the straight, but scenic, path below or take the winding path and venture up into the heart of the undulating dunes. You’ll pass oryx in the distance and you’ll witness the extraordinary desert sunset. You can’t help but smile like a kid on Christmas Day, it’s so much fun. I’ll never forget the words of 17-year-old guest Addy, who lived out her dreams that day. As we all dusted ourselves off and toasted the sunset, she exclaimed that it had been the best day of her life, that nothing could possibly top it, not even her wedding day or birth of her first child. Addy, you made me smile.

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12. Dust off your camera and capture the beauty of the desert

Take photos of, well, everything! The Namib Desert is a photographer’s dream. There is so much indescribable beauty to capture, from the landscape and wildlife by day, to the impossibly starry sky by night. I’m still of the belief that no photos can really do this place justice, but bring your camera and give it a go.

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15 Reasons To Visit Sossusvlei: Part 3

7. Ponder the unsolved mystery of the fairy circles

A largely unexplained phenomenon, the Namib Desert is populated by mysterious, grass-ringed patches called fairy circles. Puzzlingly scattered across the stark desertscape, these curious circles not only appear to be evenly spaced, but they also never overlap. There are countless, some even laughable, theories, from underground fire-breathing dragons and dust-bathing ostriches, to armies of ants and termites, underground gases and plants simply competing for water. Fairy circles remain an unsolved mystery, and perhaps what we love about them the most, is that they are the perfect size and setting for romantic, lantern-lit dinners-for-two under the stars.

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8. Wander aimlessly amidst 900-year-old tree skeletons

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At the foot of Big Daddy is the hauntingly beautiful Deadvlei, or ‘dead marsh’. Thousands of years ago, the Tsauchab River flooded, creating temporary shallow pools of water that encouraged the growth of these camel thorn trees. Centuries later, an unforgiving drought killed the trees and the relentless hot sun scorched them black. It is a picture perfect, yet haunting, graveyard of eerie tree skeletons that poke out from the most picturesque, cracked white clay. A forest frozen in time, you simply have to see Deadvlei in person.

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9. Celebrate every magnificent sunset

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Enjoy unforgettable sundowner stop on the dunes, be sure to stop and watch as the colors constantly change and the sun casts its golden amber glow on the russet dunes.

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15 Reasons To Visit Sossusvlei: Part 2

4. Float over the dunes at sunrise

If you want to ponder how insignificant we really are, then hop into a hot air balloon and quietly absorb the unparalleled 360° view of eternal beauty that is the Namib Desert. Awake just before dawn and venture out to the launch site before sunrise, then float up peacefully into the sky as the sun peeks over the horizon. Get a bird’s eye view of the jagged mountain tops that emerge from shifting dunes and soar over a landscape that remains unchanged for millions of years.

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After a gentle landing amidst the amber dunes, as is customary with any balloon flight, you’ll enjoy a champagne toast, followed by a hearty breakfast. We’re talking fresh bread, buttery croissants, pancakes, fruit skewers, smoked salmon, a selection of cheeses and of course some piping hot coffee to get your day started. Though I must admit, not much can really top a morning like that – it was one of the most incredible, soul-enriching and humbling experiences and I cannot recommend it enough.

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5. Conquer some of the world’s highest dunes

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The Namib Desert boasts some of the world’s highest sand dunes, some of them reaching nearly 400 metres in height. Surrounded by countless dunes of differing heights, you really can take your pick, however most people flock to the world-famous Big Daddy and Dune 45. Whether you’re six years old or sixty, you can choose to climb the highest peak, or hike partway and slide down the side, or simply wander around the vlei below admiring the cascading dunes in all their glory.

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Sliding down the side of these towering dunes takes you right back to your childhood. You’ll hear the contagious giggles of delight as people bounce down the dunes with reckless, childlike abandon. I dare you not to smile as your feet disappear deep into the dunes, your shoes fill with sand and you glide down to the vlei as if you’re walking on a cloud. It’s so much fun!

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6. Gaze up at a gazillion stars

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The NamibRand Nature Reserve was officially declared Africa’s first International Dark Sky Reserve (IDSR) in 2013. It also became the world’s first IDSR to be awarded Gold Tier status, declaring it an environment with exceptionally little to no impact from artificial light. With the nearest town situated 90 miles away, the reserve is not only free of light pollution, but also boasts one of the darkest skies ever measured.

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Situated within this IDSR, &Beyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge boasts a high-tech observatory that is equipped with a Meade LX200R 12-inch telescope (one of the largest in the southern hemisphere) using Autostar II technology. Under the guidance of an expert resident astronomer, guests can get a closer look at the planets and constellations of the enchanting Namibian sky.

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15 Reasons To Visit Sossusvlei: Part 1

1. Marvel at the scenery that has to be seen to believed

This is mother nature’s masterpiece. A true gem of Africa. Like a real-life Renoir painting unfolding right before your eyes, the desertscape is breathtaking.  The seemingly desolate and rocky, open terrain, which is cradled by rugged mountains and dotted by curious rock formations, stretches far out into the distance where it eventually meets those towering, world-famous terracotta dunes. The landscape is blissfully remote, almost moon or Mars-like, and the stark contrasts blend together harmoniously creating what can only be described as an uninterrupted impressionist painting.

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Like looking through a revolving kaleidoscope, the colours are forever changing as the sun casts light and shadow on the earth below, so be sure to watch the horizon at different times of the day to appreciate its enduring beauty. The dusty, golden brown terrain is interspersed with slate-coloured rocks and stark green and white tufts of dune grasses. At dusk, the rusty, ochre coloured dunes fade from a rich toffee or caramel hue to a deeper brown and the mountains slowly turn dusty rose and purple as the sun gently sets and the moon (and countless stars) start to emerge.

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2. Stand in one of the oldest landscapes on the planet

Just setting foot on what is hailed the world’s oldest living desert is a bucket list item in itself. Formed a mind-boggling 55 million years ago, the mighty Namib Desert is in fact the oldest desert on the planet. Its wild, rugged splendour remains unchanged after all this time. It is the land that time forgot … a place where time stands still and timeless, captivating beauty surrounds you at all times.

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3. Discover life (and plenty of it) in the desert

One would expect the oldest desert on earth to be completely barren and devoid of life, but the exquisite Namib Desert is alive and full of life. It all comes down to the life-giving winds: the easterly wind carries dust and debris that feeds the insects and reptiles; while the westerly wind brings much-needed moisture to the land.

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Everywhere you look, this desert is bursting with activity. Just look around you and you’ll see it is teeming with curious creatures and desert-adapted plants. From the photogenic quiver trees in bright yellow bloom and the fascinatingly bizarre Welwitschia plant that lives up to 1,500 years or the extremely poisonous false ink cap mushrooms, the miraculous desert flora (and fauna) has cleverly adapted in order to thrive in the harsh conditions.

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Watch each day as the striking oryx make their way to the watering hole in front of the lodge to slake their thirst. Pick up your binos at any given time to do some birdwatching, and if you’re lucky, you’ll spot the endemic dune lark. You’ll see springbok, ostrich, jackal and giraffe … we even saw an aardwolf, which had been on my wildlife bucket list forever! But it’s the small wonders of Sossusvlei that are the scene-stealers. I went on a very informative dune adventure with Boniface, the friendliest, most enthusiastic, charming and knowledgeable ranger and he quietly introduced me to some of the unexpected creatures that inhabit the dunes.

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guide pointing out track marks in the sossusvlei dessert

Did you know that there are seven endemic species in the Sossusvlei area? The dune lark, FitzSimons’ burrowing skink, Grant’s golden mole, dancing white lady spider, southern harvester termite, barking gecko and Peringuey’s (or sidewinding) adder all call this part of the desert home, and so do chameleons, 200 (!) different types of beetles and our very own &Beyond namesake, a tiny and rare little gecko called the Pachydactylus etultra (‘et’ meaning ‘and’; ‘ultra’ meaning ‘beyond’). This handsome little fella was discovered at the lodge back in 2006 by (then) resident astronomer Miles Paul. Renowned reptile taxonomist and Curator of Herpetology at Bayworld in Nelson Mandela Bay, Professor Bill Branch, was called in for his expertise and five years later our little &Beyond gecko was officially published in the Harvard Journal (images courtesy of Miles Paul and Bill Branch).

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Saving Africa’s Rarest Antelope

From the largest, fastest and scaliest mammals on the African continent, right down to some of its tiniest amphibians, flightless birds and smallest antelopes, more and more African species are sadly joining the endangered list. A forever growing list that no one wants to be on.

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For more than 25 years, the core company ethos at &Beyond has remained resolute: Care of the Land, Care of the Wildlife, Care of the People. As a global leading conservation company, we now positively impact more than 9 million acres of wildlife land and 2 000 kilometres of coastline, with the prime goal of helping to conserve this land (and water), as well as its inhabitants, for future generations.

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With countless conservation victories under their belt, they continue to look for ways to make a meaningful difference to our planet, from helping to reverse a 15-year local extinction of lion in Rwanda and moving 100 rhino from the poaching hotspots of South Africa, to providing a safe haven for endangered green sea turtles and taking a proven conservation model all the way to Argentina for the reintroduction of jaguar to the Iberá Wetlands.

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Lion translocation image © African Parks.

One of our most recent conservation success stories is our Aders’ duiker breeding programme on &Beyond Mnemba Island, an exclusive private island and barefoot beach paradise situated just off the shores of Zanzibar.

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Known as Africa’s rarest antelope, it is estimated that there are only between 300 and 600 Aders’ duiker left in the wild. Back in 2005, we successfully introduced five of these tiny (approximately 8 to 12 kg) antelopes onto the island, where they now thrive with a population of 35.

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With no natural predators and a constant and plentiful food supply, the duikers have thrived and bred extremely well in their island paradise. Can you blame them?! As a direct result of this success and at the request of the Minister of Natural Resources and Fisheries in Zanzibar, four Aders’ duiker were recently translocated from &Beyond Mnemba Island to a brand new breeding site on the island of Zanzibar where they can now form a new breeding population.

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A team of wildlife and conservation experts was assembled on Mnemba Island for the translocation, including representatives from Zanzibar’s Department of Natural Resources, as well as famed Dr Dave Cooper, Head Veterinarian for the Provincial Conservations Department in South Africa, and Les Carlisle, &Beyond Group Conservation Manager. The carefully planned translocation techniques used were influenced by prior research carried out by University of South Africa researcher Lorraine Braby, who had collared a number of the small antelopes to collect information on their diet and behaviour in an effort to help further improve the outcome of the breeding programme.

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Darting the duiker was proven to be most stress-free method of capture and was therefore chosen for the translocation. The required equipment and drugs were provided by &Beyond and, given just how critical the actual tranquiliser dart location on the small animal is, the expert skills of Dr Dave Cooper were called upon to safely and precisely dart the four duikers.

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Upon being darted, of course the miniature and characteristically skittish antelopes scattered off into Mnemba’s dense forest foliage, so the team had to act fast to quickly track and blindfold each duiker and gently carry them back to the loading area. The darts were then safely removed, the small dart wounds treated and a sedative administered to calm the duiker before the antidote to the immobilisation drug was administered. Once all four of the Aders’ duiker were successfully crated, the crates were taken by boat from Mnemba to the main island of Zanzibar. The last leg of the duiker’s trip to their new home was by vehicle.

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This historic translocation process, which marks the first time that Aders’ duiker have been moved from Mnemba Island, will help bolster a brand new population of the endangered antelope on Zanzibar, while also ensuring that the number of animals on Mnemba does not exceed the resources available on the island. It is estimated that roughly 30 duiker remain on the island and, should the animals continue to breed at their current rate, we will aim to translocate 10 to 12 of these little antelope every year. A great win for conservation.

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Maasai Women Leading Change

 

Today’s story of empowerment and upliftment takes us to the world-famous and game-rich plains of Kenya’s Masai Mara, where a small group of strong, fearless Maasai women are breaking down cultural boundaries and inspiring a new generation of never-before-seen gender equality among their traditionally male-dominated communities.

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There’s no denying that the women of Africa are resourceful, industrious and unrelentingly resilient. In the Maasai culture specifically, it is the women that are responsible for the daily household chores and cooking, the physical construction and ongoing maintenance of the homes, the child-rearing, as well as the time-consuming and burdensome task of collecting firewood and clean water each and every day.

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Despite so much responsibility resting solely on their shoulders, a woman’s ‘place’ in traditional African society is often a precarious one. Historically, Maasai women have been forbidden from owning their own property and from accumulating their own worldly goods, cash included, but thankfully these long-held customs are slowly changing.

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In the Enkereri community, which is situated close to &Beyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp, a pioneering group of enterprising women are turning tradition on its head and are not only earning a steady income for themselves (which in turn supports their families), but are also ensuring an education (and brighter future) for their children.

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Ramato Nooretet Kipas is the chairwoman of the 20 Women Group from Enkereri. Supported and empowered by Africa Foundation (our social development partner), these entrepreneurs have successfully established their own beekeeping project, which supplies our &Beyond lodges in Kenya with delicious, fresh Maasai honey. The beehives were supplied by Africa Foundation, however it is the determination and unwavering entrepreneurial spirit of these resolute women that keeps the business thriving. The 20 Women Group depends on this income for their livelihood and that of their families.

____________________________________________________________________________________________Ramato Nooretet Kipas________________________________________________________________________________________

In Kenya’s Saparingo community, which is also situated close to &Beyond Kichwa Tembo, a strong-willed woman by the name of Naisenya Seyio drives a number of projects focused on education. A single mother of six that never had the opportunity to attend school herself, this outspoken activist is an advocate for education and has put two of her sons through university. The only way Naisenya was able to manage this extraordinary feat is by tending to their family livestock on her own, on a daily basis, instead of adhering to the long-held tradition of relying on the children to carry out this traditional task.

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Naisenya’s son George, who was the well-deserving beneficiary of a CLEF (Community Leaders Education Fund) bursary through Africa Foundation and &Beyond, studied actuarial science while his brother Emmanuel excelled in statistics.

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A regular volunteer at Saparingo Primary School, Naisenya mobilized her fellow women to pay it forward in the construction of the school. Under her inspiring leadership, each woman in the community collected sand from the nearby river to donate as construction material, a task that continued until the first classroom was complete. And more recently, when the school needed fencing, Naisenya outdid everyone else by donating five times the required materials for the work to be completed.

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In the nearby Olorien community, Natasha Emily Nailenya was one of our very first CLEF bursary recipients in Kenya. Rebelling against village customs, Natasha fled her home at the young age of 13 in order to escape the confines of an early arranged marriage and instead lived with her aunt while she attended school. Determined to succeed, she qualified for a bursary to study agriculture at the University of Nairobi and became the first woman in her community to graduate. Moving on to even greater success, Natasha has now received government sponsorship to study for an MA in environmental governance.

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Each of these extraordinary and strong-willed women is an inspiration to others in their community. Leading by example, these women are dedicating their lives to changing social norms and improving not only their own lives, but also those of others. We are proud to have played a role, however small, in their lives and they inspire us to carry on telling their exceptional stories to the world. “Here’s to strong women. May we know them; may we be them; may we raise them.”

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