The Africa Adventure Company: Luxury African Safaris.
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In Part #2, we will be comparing the cultural, game viewing and recreational experiences of Tanzania and Botswana. For more insight on each country’s wildlife, scenery and/or the game driving experience, you should click on the following link:
The Maasai of Tanzania & Kenya are one of Africa’s most well-known tribes
Split about evenly between Kenya and Tanzania, the Maasai are perhaps the most famous tribesmen in Africa. These tall an dignified pastoralists are renowned for their red and black checkered cloth and diverse beadworks. You’ll also find that several of the camps & lodges are bedecked with Maasai textiles and architecturally influenced from Maasai bomas.
Visiting a Maasai boma (village) is a worthwhile experience. It’s an insightful look into how human-animal conflict can be resolved: don’t be surprised to see cattle and sheep grazing alongside Thompson’s Gazelle and zebra! The quality of the experience, however, varies from place to place.
You will find many bomas in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area; however, they tend to be rather commercialized. For a more immerisve, authentic experience, bomas at off-the-beaten-path destinations like Sinya Private Reserve (north of Arusha National Park) and Lake Natron (north of Ngorongoro Conservation Area) are a good choice.
When you visit the Hadza of Lake Eyasi, you join them on a real, unscripted hunt
But for a truly edifying experience, Tanzania offers arguably one of the best tribal visit in all of Africa: the Hadza bushmen. The Hadza are one of the last remaining true hunter-gatherers in the world. They are concentrated along the shores of Lake Eyasi – halfway between Lake Manyara National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
As this is an off-the-beaten path destination, a visit with the Hadza is by no means “touristy.” With the Hadza, all you know is that you will track and hunt a small antelope (or perhaps a bird or rodent) in the morning, gather fruits roots and tubers with the women later on. Such a lifestyle is undeniably challenging, never mind that our modernizing world is making it even more so.
View of Oldupai Gorge from the eponymous museum
For those who do not have the time for such a diversion, another option is a visit to Oldupai Gorge. This is the site of some of the most significant discoveries in the field of paleoanthropology, made famous by a 1.75 million year old hominid fossil discovered by Dr. Mary Leakey. The museum and the gorge it overlooks is a great place to stop for lunch en route from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area to the Serengeti. If you’re really interested in seeing the Leakey fossils themselves, consider visiting the Tanzania National Museum and House of Culture in Dar es Salaam.
Another excellent cultural destination is Zanzibar: a small, Indian Ocean island only a 25-minute flight from the Tanzanian capital of Dar es Salaam. Read more about it by scrolling down to our Beach Retreat section.
The Bushmen demonstrate how they start a fire – a necessary skill in the harsh, arid Kalahari
Like the Hadza, the San bushmen of Botswana are also hunter-gatherers. The insight gleaned from spending a half-day with them is similarly rewarding. The main difference, however, is that a visit here is more like a “simulation.” Nevertheless, it’s a cool experience: they demonstrate how they make a fire to chase a porcupine out of its den, how they build a trap to catch duikers (small antelope), how they identify the right roots to drink water from, among other things.
Though an arduous, multi-day ascent, the view from Kilimanjaro’s top is worth it
Tanzania is home to Mount Kilimanjaro: Africa’s tallest mountain (19,340 ft) and one of the world’s “seven summits.” And the view is simply stunning: as the world’s tallest “stand-alone” mountain (16,000 ft above the surrounding plains), a clear sky will provide jaw-dropping views of plains stretching hundreds of miles in each direction.
Just so you know, you can hire a porter to carry your stuff up!
Fortunately, Kilimanjaro is arguably the easiest of the “seven summits.” However, a hike to the summit will take at least 5 days and you will need a baseline level of fitness. However, we advise taking a longer route. This is because climbers will contract altitude sickness if they attempt to summit too quickly – the #1 reason a climber will fail to reach the top.
The best time of year to climb Kilimanjaro is from mid-December to February and September through October. This is when it is sunniest and warmest. November through mid-December and April are the wettest months, so they should be avoided.
AAC’s Mark Nolting hiking within Empakaai Crater in 2016
For those who only want to stretch their legs for a couple of hours, visitors can hike at the nearby Olmoti and Empakaai Craters. While hiking, you’ll also be able to see Ol Doinyo Lengai (a holy mountain for the Maasai), Lake Natron, and on a clear day, Mount Kilimanjaro.
Botswana is not much of a hiker’s destination. That said, the more active/adventurous sort can find several opportunities for walking during a walking safari!
Approaching wildlife on foot adds even more thrill to the safari experience! Ruaha National Park, Tanzania
For some, a walking safari might seem too rife with danger to consider. But here’s why you should reconsider:
Your guide will be armed for your security;
Your guide is well-trained, meaning he knows when and how to approach certain animals by foot;
It really is that exciting and enhances a trip that would otherwise be limited to a vehicle!
In our opinion, you can’t go wrong with walking safaris in either country. But if walking safaris are your priority, you should instead consider visiting either Zimbabwe or Zambia. These itineraries are particularly good for the ambulatory-minded:
There are two types of walking safaris, each calibrated to your preference for authenticity, mobility and safety.
Traditional Walking Safari
First, you have the traditional walking safari. Your guide will track spoor, droppings, animal calls, etc., and will approach animals within a safe distance. As mentioned before, professional guides are accredited and therefore able to assess whether or not to approach an animal a certain way or at all. Because the route trekked will be different every time, visitors should maintain a good level of fitness.
Your guide will know these spoors like the back of their hoof – I mean hand!
Second, you have the nature walk. This is typically predetermined course where the guide will point out the “little things” that often go unmentioned over the course of a game drive, like insects and plants. Wildlife encounters are generally avoided, and the walks are not physically strenuous.
Even walking safaris are family-friendly! Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania
Traditional walking safaris can be arranged at Mweba and Grumeti Private Reserves (adjacent to Serengeti National Park) and the southern national parks of Ruaha and Selous.
These wildlife areas also offer nature walks. In addition, one can go on a nature walks in Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and Serengeti National Park. Check with your safari consultant as not every lodge/camp offers walking safaris.
Notably, guests cannot go on any type of walking safari in Lake Manyara National Park.
For your safety, an armed guide will always accompany you. Okavango Delta, Botswana
There are 3 places you can go on walking safaris in Botswana: the private concessions within and near the Okavango Delta, the Linyanti region, and Mashatu Game Reserve.
Like Tanzania, each lodge/camp has a different policy when it comes to walking safaris. Some will offer both traditional and nature walks (Kwando Reserve, for example), most will offer only nature walks, while some will not offer any type of walking safari at all. It’s important to discuss your options with a safari consultant.
An essential part of any trip to Botswana’s Okavango delta is a mokoro ride
Your best (and only) bet for water activities in Tanzania is river cruises along Selous Game Reserve’s Rufiji River. Unfortunately, it is not possible to view game by boat in the Northern Circuit wildlife areas of the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, and Tarangire.
But don’t discount the Selous; though less well known and visited than the parks in the Northern Circuit, this is as close to untamed wilderness as you are going to get in Tanzania.
Approaching wildlife by boat offers a chance to see behavior not exhibited on land. Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania
While cruising along the Rufiji River, you will be able to approach wildlife as close on motorboat as you do within your game drive vehicle. Especially numerous are hippos and crocodiles, but no need to worry: if you listen to your guide’s instructions, you will be safe!
Additional activities available to guests at Selous Game Reserve include fishing, bird-watching, and celebratory sun-downers.
Close wildlife encounters are trademarks of both Hwange & Mana Pools National Parks
Follow the AAC Blog as Mark & Miles’ trip transpires. They’ll be sure to post spectacular photographs and incredible stories during their time in Johannesburg, Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park, Mana Pools National Park & Kafue National Park.
July 8th, 2019 – Pre-Departure
Itinerary Destinations: Johannesburg, Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park, Mana Pools National Park & Kafue National Park
Mark & Miles are doing what many of you have done right before embarking on your trip: making sure they’ve packed everything, confirming their land & air arrangements, and just as importantly, getting excited!
It’s not too often a guest gets this kind of an opportunity for such an immersive walking & canoeing safari experience. Zimbabwe & Zambia were chosen because they are prime destinations for these kinds of safaris. This ultimate reason for this is the quality of the countries’ guides. It will be an immeasurable pleasure for Mark, Miles & company to experience the trip’s two featured guides’ world-class guiding first-hand!
Nic Polenakis (left) will be guiding in Hwange, while Nick Murray (right) will in Mana Pools
Nic Polenakis is the featured specialist guide while the group is in Hwange National Park. Nic was featured in National Geographic Traveler Magazine as one of the World’s Top 10 Tour Guides; quite the accolade! From the comfort of his own camp, Somalisa Acacia, Mark, Miles & company will surely be transfixed by his expansive knowledge, but also his contagious passion.
When the group proceeds to Mana Pools National Park, the specialist guide Nick Murray will take the reins. Nick Murray owns & operates Vundu & Little Vundu Camps in Mana Pools National Park. These two camps are ideally situated for what Nick does best: walking & canoeing safaris. Mark, Miles & company should expect to see some Elephants, Wild Dogs, and who knows what else!
Here is Mark & Miles’ finalized itinerary:
Notice that Mark & Miles will stay at least 4 nights at each of the 3 national parks they’ll visit!
At the start, Miles and Mark will be split up: Miles will stay a night in Johannesburg before meeting up with Mark in Victoria Falls.
Check back onto the AAC Blog for their report from Johannesburg & Victoria Falls this Friday!
Both countries are excellent birding destinations!
You don’t have to be an avian expert in order to enjoy birding in Africa. It’s a daunting task, even for a seasoned birder: about 2100 species have been recorded in sub-Saharan Africa, 1400 of which reside nowhere else in the world! Even more unbelievable: some reserves and parks have recorded more than 500 bird species.
Now if you are an avian expert, there’s a good chance you already knew all of this! Rest assured, there are plenty of high-quality, specialist birding guides that we can book a tour with on your behalf.
So though you may not be an expert before or by the end of your safari, you should come away with a deeper appreciation for birdwatching by the end of your trip.
“I found myself noticing more of the little details of my surroundings and, when I paid attention, I saw the most glorious things. No longer was I solely focused on the grass looking for the telltale spots of big cats… I found life everywhere, ready to be photographed and appreciated.”
Sidra Monreal. “How I Accidentally Became a Birder.” Conde Nast Traveler
Here’s a clickable Table of Contents to help you navigate this Blog Post:
Birdwatching, admittedly, can be overwhelming at first. So instead of purchasing an absolute tome of bird book at the start, might we suggest our African Safari Field Guide. This field guide provides descriptions and drawings of some of the more common varieties of birds you will see on safari. It’s also a good way to learn the lingo.
Your guide will be essential when it comes to identifying birds and expanding both your knowledge and appreciation of them. Most guides have great knowledge about numerous species’ appearances and calls. In fact, a big reason why they know certain calls is because they often indicate that a predator is nearby!
Smartphones can’t snap the same photograph of this Malachite Kingfisher as a proper camera
But no matter how good your guide is, you won’t be able to truly appreciate bridwatching if you don’t have a good pair of binoculars. Binoculars give you the ability to see details, like plumage and flight patterns. They also help you to spot the bird in the first place; birds are often in thick brush or blend seamlessly with their background.
And if you want to keep a photo of a bird for posterity, your smartphone will almost never suffice. It’s important that you conduct research on both optimal binoculars and cameras for your trip. Talk to one of our safari consultants to get their opinion.
Though the best time of year to birdwatch does not generally align with best time of year to see wildlife, most parks in Africa have good birdwatching year-round. So unless you want to primarily visit Africa to birdwatch, you should be more than content with the resident bird life.
Purple-crested Turacos inhabit riverine forests and broadleaf woodlands throughout Tanzania (Credit: Bernard Dupont)
These endemic African birds typically inhabit riverine forests and broadleaf woodlands. Thus, they can be seen while you are in Tanzania (particularly Arusha National Park), but not in Botswana. They are recognizable by their long tails, beautiful green or violet plumage, nimble bounding in tree canopies and their shrill “barks.” Notable species include the Purple-Crested Turaco, Hartlaub’s Turaco and Schalow’s Turaco.
Rollers & Bee-Eaters
The technicolor brilliance of Lilac Breasted Rollers are a captivating and frequent sight in Botswana and Tanzania
Rollers are fairly small, dimorphic, colorful birds that inhabit either woodland or savanna in both Tanzania and Botswana. They are quite noticeable and photo-friendly while on safari, not only because of their brightly colored plumage, but that they also tend to sit on prominent perches. They get their name from their rolling, aerial courtship. Notable species include the Lilac-Breasted Roller and the Borad-Billed Roller.
Southern Carmine Bee-Eaters are a frequent sight in Botswana, especially along riverbanks
Bee-eaters are slender, dimorphic, brilliantly colored birds. They are distinguishable from Rollers by their thin, down-curved beaks. Their habitats vary from woodland to open savanna. Most breeding colonies nest in burrows along river banks; the Southern Carmines are a must-see if you plan on taking a boat ride in Botswana! Their diet includes bees and other insects. Notable species include the Southern Carmine Bee-Eater and the Little Bee-Eater (seen in both Botswana and Tanzania).
Violet-backed Starlings are dimorphic: males (shown above) and females have different plumage (Credit: Jan F. Van Duinen)
Starlings are medium-large passerines, meaning their talons are designed for perching. These passerines tend to have either bright yellow or red eyes and congregate in large flocks when not breeding.They can be tough to distinguish, as their glossy plumage can vary based on the angle of sunlight. Many species tend to adapt quickly to human activities, as they are often seen gathering food and flotsam at picnic and camp sites. Notable species include Burchell’s Starling (Botswana), Greater Blue-Eared Starling (Tanzania, excluding the Serengeti region; Northern Botswana), and the Violet-Backed Starling (Botswana, excluding the south; Tanzania).
Weavers are discernible by both their plumage and nests; pictured here is a Village Weaver (Credit: Charles J. Sharp)
Hamerkops and weavers are the two bird species most-recognized for their nests. Most weaver species are small and have bright yellow plumage, though there are noticeable exceptions (Sociable Weaver, White-Headed Buffalo-Weaver). Most weavers feed on seeds, although they are occasional insectivores, returning caught insects for their nestlings. Each weaver has its own style of nest, some of which are quite sophisticated and/or contain lengthy entrances.
Notable species include Spectacled Weaver (Tanzania, excluding central; far north in Botswana), Red-Headed Weaver (northern and eastern Botswana; Tanzania, excluding east) and Village Weaver (Tanzania; Mashatu N.P. in Botswana).
Malachite Kingfishers are arguably one of Africa’s most photogenic birds
Kingfishers are divided into three subsets: Cerylid, Alcedo, and Halcyon. Cerylid Kingfishers are large and relatively uncolorful; notable species include the Giant and Pied Kingfisher. Alcedo Kingfishers are, in comparison, much smaller, tend to have blue-and-orange plumage, and are most easily told apart by their beak pigment. Lastly, Halcyon Kingfishers are medium-sized and tend to have powder-blue feathers. Generally, you are likely to find Kingfishers wherever freshwater (especially rivers) meets forest.
Woodland Kingfishers are part of the Halcyon genus, which all have powder-blue feathers (Credit: Bernard Dupont)
Notable species include Malachite (Tanzania; northern & eastern Botswana), Pied (Tanzania; northern Botswana), and Woodland (Tanzania; northern & eastern Botswana).
Flamingos are common inhabitants of Tanzania’s Rift Valley Lakes and northern Botswana, especially Makgadikgadi Pans
Flamingos are divided into two species: Greater and Lesser. Both reside in similar habitats (salt lakes and lagoons) and are intra-African migrants. Lesser Flamingos are smaller, more intensely pink, and eat more algae than Greater Flamingos.
Herons, Egrets, Storks & Cranes
The most widespread of the larger herons, Grey Herons use vantage points when hunting for small fish & amphibians
Herons & Egrets are large, long-legged wading birds with dagger-like bills. You are likely to see them foraging on lakeshores, pools and floodplains. Herons tend to be both larger than and more colorful than egrets. Notable species include the Goliath Heron (Tanzania; northern Botswana), Grey Heron (Tanzania; northern Botswana), Cattle Egret (Tanzania; Botswana), and Great White Egret (Tanzania; northern & eastern Botswana).
Gray Crowned Cranes are the national bird of Uganda, but they also inhabit both Tanzania & Botswana
Storks, like herons and egrets, are large, long-legged wading birds. However, you can tell them apart while they’re in flight: unlike herons and egrets, storks fully extend their necks.Notable species include the Saddle-Billed Stork (Tanzania; northern Botswana) and the scavenging Marabou Stork (Tanzania; Botswana).
Cranes are similar to storks, but are recognizable by their smaller beaks and more erect postures. Additionally, they are renowned for their graceful, elaborate courtship “dances.” Notable species include the Wattled Crane (northern Botswana) and the Gray Crowned Crane (Tanzania; northern Botswana)..
Ostriches, Kori Bustards & Secretary Birds
Ostriches are the world’s largest bird; they compensate for their inability to fly with impressive sprinting
Wild ostriches are found exclusively in Africa. They are unmistakable, not only as the world’s largest bird (many are over 7 ft tall), but that they are also completely flightless. You are likely to see the Common Ostrich in any arid savanna or semi-desert plains in either Tanzania or Botswana.
Secretary Birds (Left) & Kori Bustards (Right) are, like ostriches, large and cursorial (physically adapated to run)
Like ostriches, Secretary Birds are African endemics. These raptors are incredibly unique, not only because of their long legs, but that they rarely leave the ground. You can find Secretary Birds in open savanna and grassland in both Tanzania and Botswana.
Kori Bustards are similarly large and cursorial (adapted to run), although less slender than Secretary Birds. Additionally, though mainly flightless, Kori Bustards have the distinction as the world’s heaviest flying bird. Kori Bustards can be found in semi-arid savanna and grassland throughout Botswana and northern Tanzania.
Life-changing experiences await at either of these two countries: allow AAC to help pick the right one for you
At the Africa Adventure Company, our first-time clients will most often visit either Tanzania or Botswana. This is a result from several factors, including:
Domestic Transport Infrastructure
Multiple ways to see (walking, boating, game-drive) world-class quality wildlife year-round
Excellent Luxury and Mid-Range Accommodations, including many family-friendly options
Cultural Experiences, especially Tanzania
But of course, this is no way implying that your options are limited to these two countries. AAC prides itself on both the quality and diversity of experiences we offer our clients: take a look at some of our many itineraries here. Or if you’re looking for even more customization, give one of our safari consultants a call.
Wilds Dogs & Zebra at the Okvango Delta in Botswana
We will discuss the comparable factors between Tanzania and Botswana in three separate blog posts:
To facilitate your navigation, click this drop-down Table of Contents:
Tanzania is home to one of the world’s most iconic natural wonders: Mount Kilimanjaro
The main draw for the camera-wielding tourists visiting these two countries is the wildlife. But a great photo can become a spectacular photo – given the right lighting, composition and background. Both Botswana and Tanzania provide scenic landscapes to capture iconic wildlife photos.
Much of Tanzania is what visitors imagine to be “quintessential Africa,” especially the acacia-covered savanna of Serengeti National Park. Only the wide open plains of the Serengeti could play host to the year-round spectacle known as the Great Migration: where thousands upon thousands of wildebeest and zebras gallop across the savanna..
Intrepid wildebeest crossing the Grumeti River (Serengeti National Park, Tanzania)
The seemingly endless plains of the Serengeti are not the country’s only scenic landmark. To the east lies Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest intact caldera and a World Heritage Site. To see the crater from atop its rim is worth a trip to Tanzania in and of itself – not to mention that it possesses one of the largest permanent wildlife concentrations in Africa!
Walk along the crater rim for incredible views (Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania)
And when you arrive in Kilimanjaro International Airport, you can’t help but see Mt. Kilimanjaro. Though not nearly as tall as Mt. Everest, Kilimanjaro is no less impressive, for the 19,400 ft peak juts an awesome 16,000 ft above the surrounding plains.
A sunset at the incredible wetlands environment of the Okavango Delta
As photogenically scenic as Tanzania is, don’t discount Botswana. In a country the size of Texas that has merely around 2 million people and nearly 40% of the country’s land is dedicated to wildlife conservation, you can be assured of unspoiled views.
Sure, it doesn’t have a single landmark comparable to Mount Kilimanjaro. But it does have those “quintessential” open expanses, especially if you venture out to the Central Kalahari, Nxai Pan or Makgadikgadi Pans, and the Okavango Delta.
A helicopter ride will give you a spectacular view like this (Okavango Delta, Botswana)
But what distinguishes Botswana from Tanzania is the abundance of riverine and wetlands landscapes. To have such scenes in the background of your photos truly enhances the wonder!
Vehicles on Safari
An open vehicle, typical for Botswana and the private reserves of Tanzania
Vehicles are divided into two categories: open and roof-hatched.
When driving within and between parks while in Tanzania, you will be in a roof-hatched vehicle. The good thing is that once you are in a wildlife area your guide will open the roof hatch or “pop-top” to allow for viewings – especially for felines in trees!
The typical roof-hatched vehicle in Tanzania
Furthermore, the windows are very large and open to allow photographers to snap photos lower to the ground. Additionally, many of these vehicles have air-conditioners that help you cool down in the mid-day heat.
Unobstructed views are the main appeal of open vehicles
In Botswana, open vehicles are the norm, as most of the wildlife areas are private concessions or reserves. These vehicles have 2-3 rows of elevated seats without side windows or a permanent roof. Thus, these vehicles typically provide the least obstructed views, and therefore a more immersive experience.
Another added bonus of an open vehicle is that these same areas also permit night drives. You’ll find some of the most interesting animal sighting you will be before dawn and after dusk.
Though both countries are superb wildlife destinations, it’s important to consider where certain animal species are more likely to be seen. Furthermore, there are also differences between the national parks and game reserves within the countries themselves.
Hell hath no fury like an ill-tempered buffalo
Fortunately, buffalo are widespread throughout both Tanzania’s and Botswana wildlife areas. As a member of the Big 5, it’s an excellent species to tally on your checklist. Herd size varies from a handful of elderly bulls to well over 100.
A highlight to any safari would be witnessing lions attempt to hunt a buffalo. Though wounded, old or newborn buffaloes are most commonly hunted by lions, it’s not uncommon for lions to target a full-grown bull!
Elephants will often greet each other by embracing one another with their trunks (Nxai Pan National Park, Botswana)
Elephants are nature’s largest terrestrial animals. They’re also one of its most social and intelligent. some of nature’s most intelligent and sociable creatures. It’s also arguable that baby elephants are the most adorable juvenile animals in Africa!
Like buffalo, most wildlife areas in both Tanzania & Botswana will feature sizeable elephant populations. But Botswana has the edge, for two reasons:
Botswana reportedly has 40% of all elephants in Africa.
Botswana has the Chobe River and the wetlands of the Linyanti region and Okavango Delta.
Not only can you witness the elephants swim across rivers (see the video in Animal Migrations Section), you are also able to view the elephants from a boat – or even a canoe! Selous Game Reserve is the one place in Tanzania where you can do the same.
Leopards are typically solitary and prefer to both rest and eat in trees
Leopards are strikingly beautiful felines. But because they prefer forested areas and are solitary, they can be more challenging to spot. Thus, there is no guarantee that you will see a leopard in either Botswana or Tanzania.
The single best area to spot a leopard in either country is the Mashatu Game Reserve, an off-the-beaten-path wildlife area in Botswana. But for first timers, there are better options. The Okavango Delta and Linyanti region in Botswana, the northern and western portions of the Serengeti in Tanzania, and Tarangire National Park in Tanzania are all good leopard areas.
Lions are most active at night, dusk and dawn
Arguably Africa’s most iconic animal, a safari without a lion seen would truly be a disappointment! Fortunately, both Botswana and Tanzania possess multiple wildlife areas with lion populations.
But Tanzania has the edge, for one specific reason: tree-climbing. Unlike leopards, lions are generally not arboreal. For reasons that are still debated, there are three wildlife areas in Tanzania with such lions: Lake Manyara National Park, Tarangire National Park, and Serengeti National Park
For the more active travelers or those who want to feel connected to the African soil underneath their feet, nothing compares to a walking safari or hiking adventure. With trained guides leading the way, you’ll experience sightings of wildlife, scenery and historical sites in a whole new way!
So, in honor of World Giraffe Day, we invite you take a look at our 7 hand-picked itineraries, some of which you can see giraffe!
Wilderness Safaris has been committed to rhino conservation in Botswana and further afield for over two decades
June 2019 – In a collaboration led by Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP), the Wilderness Wildlife Trust, with generous support from its donors, and Wilderness Safaris have contributed to the funding of the most recent rhino conservation operation in the country, bringing together ecotourism companies, NGOs and government to continue the vital work of monitoring and conserving Botswana’s precious rhino population.
“Wilderness Safaris’ aim has always been to restore and conserve thriving populations of both black and white rhino in Botswana. With funding from the Wilderness Wildlife Trust and on the ground support that we provide, and the unique collaboration of private and governmental enterprise, this vision continues to be sustainable”, said Kim Nixon, Wilderness Safaris Botswana MD.
This latest operation involves darting rhino for the purpose of ear notching, DNA collection and transmitter fitting, so that the animals can be tracked and kept safe. The core team on the ground comprises veterinarians, capture personnel and pilots from DWNP, Rhino Conservation Botswana (RCB), Rhinos Without Borders (RWB) and the Botswana Defence Force. The Wilderness Wildlife Trust was able to contribute all the required flight time and veterinary drugs, as well as logistical support from Wilderness Safaris camps and dedicated rhino monitoring teams.
The operation takes place with speed and precision. Once a rhino is located by a fixed-wing aircraft, it is darted from a helicopter, and the ground team and veterinarians move in quickly to notch the ear, collect a DNA sample and fit a tracking device. The veterinarians are helicopter based, whilst the ground teams are equipped with all the necessary ropes, water, drills and drill bits, acrylic and other items required to fit transmitters. This group is assisted by government officials and nearby lodges, as well as by local Wilderness Safaris, RWB and RCB teams.
“Wilderness Safaris continues to focus on the long-term vision for rhino conservation in Botswana that we initiated with the Botswana government almost two decades ago. Inspiring positive action forms a vital part of our core purpose, and it has been a pleasure seeing everyone come together with one goal in mind: to conserve rhino. It is thanks to the spirit of collaboration that such projects are possible”, noted Kim.
Our thanks go to the following teams and organisations who partnered to continue creating a secure future for these iconic species.
Wilderness Wildlife Trust
Rhino Conservation Botswana
Rhinos Without Borders
Sanctuary Retreats (A & K Philanthropy)
Department of Wildlife and National Parks Botswana
Soak in some bubbles while soaking in a book you brought along for your trip! Sasakwa Lodge Grumeti Reserve, TZ
When we travel, we all read for different reasons. Going on a safari or any trip to Africa should be no different.
Maybe we want to pass the time during a flight, or perhaps have something to read while lounging in-between game drives. Often times, we read in order to obtain a better understanding of the countries we are about to explore.
Fortunately for you, we have a curated selection of books comprising a wide array of countries, genres and age groups. And as a friendly reminder, the Africa Adventure Company has their own Field Guide: an indispensable introduction to all things wildlife in Africa!
If you decide to bring along one of these books, we hope you’ll like them. Or perhaps they can be an inspiration for a future trip…
Books for the Continent of Africa
Dark Star Safari – Paul Theroux
For those of you curious about what travelling through Africa was like before the advent of luxury camps and lodges. But more importantly, it’s also an invaluable insight into tourists- and the people whose country they are visiting.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind – William Kamkwamba
Many Africans still live without access to either water or electricity. For those in most destitute countries, it was a luxury that no entrepreneur or government official was willing to provision. But Kamkwamba wasn’t deterred to construct a windmill to provide both – even as his fellow villagers mocked him. For those curious about the daily lives of many Africans or are curious as to how they can help, this success story is a great introduction. There’s a also a picture book version for kids!
The State of Africa: A History of the Continent since Independence – Martin Meredith
Many of your guides are gregarious individuals who love to talk about all things wildlife and nature. A good many of them are also keen to discuss to discuss the history and politics of their own country. This book is divided into country-based chapters and organized in a generally chronological way. Yes, much of African history is tragic; but it’s also a fascinating introduction to a topic many people are not familiar with.
Books for South Africa
The Elephant Whisperer & The Elephant Whisperer (Young Readers Adaptation): My Life with the Herd in the African Wild – Lawrence Anthony
Set in South Africa’s Thula Thula Game Reserve, this is a memoir both tragic and heartwarming. Anthony takes in a family of “rogue elephants” prone to escape. Anthony knew he had to establish an emotional bond quickly; otherwise, they’d escape yet again, and liable to be poached. This book is especially appealing to wildlife lovers.
The Power of One – Bryce Courtenay
This semi-autobiographical novel captures the big-dreams and tribulations of growing up, but with a twist: it’s set during South Africa’s apartheid era. Nevertheless, the protagonist endeavors to cross boundaries in his world of prejudice and superstition, but also beauty.
Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela
This autobiography of one of history’s larger-than-life figures is a must-read to understand the improbable story of South Africa’s transformation from apartheid state to multi-racial democracy. But it’s also a personal insight into the adolescence and family-life of one of history’s most “saintly” and admired individuals.
The Covenant – James Michener
For those curious about South Africa before multi-racial democracy and apartheid, Michener’s novel is a great option. Chronicling several generations of two separate branches of a Dutch family in South Africa and their interactions with the Zulu they displaced. Just a heads up: it’s a very long book!
Books for Zimbabwe & Botswana
Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood – Alexandra Fuller
For those who like to find the comedy in tragedy, this memoir is for you. Fuller recounts her often unruly, and occasionally dangerous childhood spent in Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe) with candor, sensitivity, and great humor.
When a Crocodile Eats the Sun: A Memoir of Africa – Peter Godwin
The previous memoir’s setting was colonial Zimbabwe; Godwin’s memoir takes place in post-colonial Zimbabwe. He could only observe Zimbabwe’s downward spiral, too preoccupied with taking care of his elderly parents. yet even as the situation verged on collapse, his parents desired to remain in their adoptive country they came to love.
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith
For most people, reading this novel was the first time they really learned about the country of Botswana. This book is especially suited for mystery fans. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s charmingly witty and funny.
Books for Kenya & Tanzania
West with the Night – Beryl Markham
Beryl’s memoir is truly fascinating and insightful piece from a bygone era. This is the story of a women living in colonial Kenya’s high society of the 20’s & 30’s, but also of a women extraordinaire: beauty, racehorse trainer and aviator.
Out of Africa – Karen Blixen
Blixen was a contemporary of Markham’s, and like her, she too lived an extraordinary life. Residing on a coffee plantation near the still-sleepy town of Nairobi, this is a memoir of the people she met, European and African alike. This is especially a must-read if you plan on visiting the Karen Blixen Museum while in Nairobi.
Born Free: A Lioness of Two Worlds – Joy Adamson
For those more drawn to stories of wildlife, this would be an excellent choice. This heartwarming memoir recounts the author’s years of raising a lion cub in captivity in preparation to be released to the Kenyan wilderness.
Love, Life and Elephants: An African Love Story – Daphne Sheldrick
Yet another fascinating women in Kenyan history. Sheldrick and her husband were major figures in Kenya’s conservation as wardens for Kenya’s Tsavo National Park during the 50’s to 70’s. But this also an account of their amorous relationship, and how his premature death inspired her to found the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the world-famous Orphans’ Nursery in Nairobi National Park for elephants.
Books for Uganda & Rwanda
A Bend in the River – V.S. Naipaul
No other book better captures the aftermath of Uganda’ independence. This novel explores the kleptocratic and dangerous politics Idi Amin era through the eyes of an Indian merchant.
The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Came After
There are numerous books that discuss the events that unfolded within and without Rwanda during 1994. But this memoir is different: it follows Rwanda native Wamariya and her family as they fled Rwanda just before the Genocide broke out. Like many Rwandans today, they left family and friends, not knowing if they were alive. And similar to many other Rwandans, they returned to a country having to rebuild their individual and collective identities after one of history’s most inhumane periods.
Gorillas in the Mist – Diane Fossey
Very lighthearted in comparison to the previous two books, this memoir is a captivating account of Fossey’s years of gorilla field studies at Volcanoes and Virunga National Parks. But its her passion and dedication to the conservation of these incredible primates that is most endearing about this book.
Books for Egypt, Ethiopia & Morocco
Palace Walk – Naguib Mahfouz
For those interested in Egypt post-pharaonic history, this piece of historical fiction is a great gateway. This novel is a great microcosm of a conservative, Islamic Egypt contending with the encroaching elements of modernity through family drama.
The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt – Toby Wilkinson
For those who want to be able to intellectually spar with their guides while touring Egypt’s ancient monuments, Wilkinson’s in-depth history is for you. It’s also invaluable if you simply want to keep up with all the names, historical events and gods!
Cutting for Stone – Abraham Verghese
This novel captures a seminal time period in Ethiopia’s history: when the Derg overthrow the centuries-old Solomonid dynasty and erected a Marxist state in its place. But Verghese also pens a tragically human story of brothers abandoned by their father, going to work at a hospital in America, and one brother betraying the other.
The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca – Tahir Shah
Shah, and acclaimed travel writer from England, recalls the year that he and his family moved to live in Casablanca: a place he idolized since his childhood family vacations. Shah writes a memoir that’s both comedic and trenchant: a truly great way to better understand the fascinating, multifaceted country of Morocco.
Dear friends of Governors’, High season is right around the corner and we have been working tirelessly over the last few months to pull off an exciting array of new projects, upgrades and latest additions including a Cessna Grand Caravan, 5 Landcruisers (straight out of the showroom), 3 Landrovers that have been expertly modified into photographic safari vehicles, 8 brand new tents at Private Camp, 8 brand new family units at Governors’ Camp, 1 new balloon basket and 3 new balloon envelopes. Let’s not forget our northern Kenya property, Mugie House, which is coming along beautifully and will open its doors to our first guests by the end of the year!
Rome was certainly not built in a day, but we do feel as though we have achieved something pretty miraculous here. We have a wonderful ‘cast of characters’ at Governors’, which includes an incredibly dedicated team that has made it all happen. Its been a race against time – lots of pressure, lots of fun and most of all – a huge sense of pride that we have managed to meet all the deadlines and ultimately, we can continue to offer a diverse set of experiences, designed to excite and inspire our valued guests.
In keeping with all the new additions, we have welcomed back Will Fortescue as our resident photographer for the next four months over high season. He has just returned from a two week stay at our community-owned lodge in Rwanda, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, with the most stunning collection of images including the gorillas (as used in this newsletter), Golden Monkeys and our supported community and cultural projects. Please follow our social media pages (links are at the bottom of this newsletter) to see more of Will’s photography.
Wishing you all the best,
Governors’ Camp Collection
WHAT’S NEW AT GOVERNORS’ CAMP COLLECTION
Governors’ Aviation: In May we welcomed the latest addition to our fleet: a (new to us) Cessna Grand Caravan that made a five day journey all the way from Ohio, across the Atlantic and over to the Azores and then Egypt, before touching down on Kenyan soil at Wilson Airport. All paperwork and maintenance checks aside, we expect her to be up in the air in time for high season, over which we will be operating a total of four aircraft – all Cessna Grand Caravans – the best in the business!
Governors’ Camp Collection:
Photographic safari vehicles: all our Mara camps are set in the heart of the best wildlife viewing areas, amongst some of East Africa’s most spectacular scenery. It’s therefore no surprise, that we attract film crews from landmark series such as BBC Earth’s Dynasties and Animal Planet’s Big Cat Tales, as well as both professional and amateur photographers from all corners of the world. Attention like this from the world of film and photography enthusiasts can only mean one thing …. bring on the photographic safari vehicles! Specially modified to include same level seating throughout, cut out side panels in the middle row (can be closed over with canvas sheeting), high roofs and fully folding windscreens – features that were specifically recommended to us by our professional photographic safari guides. We have converted 3 refurbished Landrovers into a photographer’s dream!
Private Camp: the camp offering an exclusive taste of the Governors’ experience. We have really gone all out here and replaced the original eight dark green canvas tents with completely new beige tents which are higher, wider and have huge floor-to-roof windows, offering more space and air flow. Pretty touches include brass lamps in the bedroom units and in the bathrooms, as well as the addition of Kitengela’s recycled glassware which replaces plastic bottled water (this completes our whole collection of camps in being plastic water bottle free – hurrah!) We have kept the original wooden decking of each tent’s private verandah – the perfect place to sit back and enjoy the activities of the Mara River below you.
Governors’ Camp: we have replaced the previous 6 family units with 8 brand new family tents which have been beautifully crafted out of beige ripstop. They are one meter longer, and slightly wider and higher than the previous units. The windows are much bigger than before, allowing in more light. The bathrooms now feature double sinks, stone tile floors and ‘Lamu finish’ grey coloured walls, all in keeping with the natural and muted colours of the camp’s surroundings.
Governors’ Balloon Safaris: as pioneers of the Classic African Safari, it was only fitting that we should add hot air balloon flights to the collection, more than FORTY YEARS ago! Offering the most scenic flight path in the Masai Mara, we continue to be the top choice for this bucket-list experience, and so we receive a new basket and 3 new ‘envelopes’ (or ‘balloons’) in just a few days time!
In other exciting news, our Mara guides are currently receiving further training, specifically in Ornithology, by bird expert Dave Richards. Not only has Dave been providing relief management across our camps and lodges since the early days, but he is also a professional safari guide, author and photographer, who has written a number of published books on travel and wildlife in Kenya and East Africa.
UPDATE ON GOVERNOR’S MUGIE HOUSE
For those of you who don’t know, Mugie House is our latest addition to Governors’ Camp Collection – a luxury camp up north which will combine perfectly with the rest of our property portfolio. We expect to be open towards the end of the year!
Meanwhile, hard work continues up in Laikipia as the property comes together beautifully. Aside from the actual rebuild and renovations, there are many other ongoing developments such as ‘bush cookery’ training by Antonia Stogdale, Safari Chef and Founder of ‘Antonia’s Kitchen’. We have two chefs taking the course, David and Mungai, and as you can see there are all sorts of delicious and colourful preparations underway, as well as a home-grown vegetable garden which will allow us to supply only the freshest of ingredients!
GOVERNORS’ CAMP COLLECTION BLOGS – MASAI MARA GAME REPORT
Pastel sunrises have opened the days for the month of May, while rainfall has been quite scattered. There has been plenty of mating between the Marsh Pride lionesses, specifically Yaya and her adult daughters, Pamoja and Nusu Mkia, with some of the Marsh males; we are hoping for tiny cubs by about mid August which will clearly delight our high season guests. Serval cat sightings have been frequent as well as leopard and cheetah.
Loldia House: May 2019
Hot weather and little rain in May encouraged wildlife right into the Loldia House surrounds for the green grass and complimentary hay and molasses mixture we have been leaving out in the evenings. Night game drives are becoming more exciting than ever with the use of red filters on our car’s spotlights; May sightings included an aardvark! Thank you to two special guests who got involved in our community & conservation project.
Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge: May 2019
May was a mixed month of heavy rain and just a few sunny days. The lodge was full almost nightly and many friendships were made over gorilla talk by the fire in our cosy sitting room – it was truly heartwarming! The highlight of the month was the arrival of photographer Will Fortescue. We had the pleasure of his company for two weeks while he captured all aspects of the lodge including the community & cultural activities.
This installment features insights from Ian Flores, Kollin Buchholz, Kyle Witten, Szilvia Hegyi, Rhoda Barnett, Mark Nolting, and Alison Nolting about their favorite accommodations in Cape Town and its vicinity.
“When I’m on safari, I’m eager to do as many active experiences as possible, whether it’s trekking, walking safaris, canoes, or even climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. So if my trip ends in Cape Town, I want to go somewhere I can relax and sleep-in after many early mornings in the bush! That way, I’m also refreshed and recharged when I return home.”
Kollin Buchholz: Cape Grace Hotel
“The reason I like the Cape Grace Hotel so much is that it gives you the option to either relax or to actively explore the city of Cape Town; the waterfront and its numerous restaurants, bars, galleries and attractions are within walking distance.”
View of Cape Grace Hotel & Table Mountain
“However, if you’re more inclined to relax, you can enjoy stunning views of Table Mountain or the bay from the comfort of your hotel, and perhaps even your room! Put simply, you will have incredible service, meals, and spa treatments at your disposal at this ‘quintessentially African’ luxury hotel.”
Kyle with a view of the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
Kyle Witten: Ellerman House
“I have two favorite accommodations, one in the city and the other in the Cape Winelands.”
“In Cape Town proper, I love the Ellerman House. If you love ocean views from the comfort and privacy of your own suite and world-class dining (they’ve just announced a new culinary director!), Ellerman is unbeatable. As an added bonus, they have the best gin selection ever: I call it the gin trolley to end all gin trolleys!
Gin with a breathtaking view, courtesy of Ellerman House!
Kyle Witten: Babylonstoren
“My second favorite spot is Babylonstoren, which is a quick drive out from the city into the Cape Winelands.”
“Unassuming from the exterior, this small boutique hotel is truly a hidden gem, especially if you’re a foodie. Visitors essentially step into a full-fledged wine estate and farm.”
“A visit here is simply incomplete with a visit to Babylonstoren’s bakery and fresh market. This is where you can buy all the picnic essentials, like baguettes, cheese, charcuterie and wine, before heading out on a bicycle for an afternoon picnic. It will most likely be one of your most memorable gastronomic experiences!”
Szilvia Hegyi & Rhoda Barnett
Szilvia & Rhoda at Cape Point
“My favorite hotel in Cape Town is the Welgelegen Guest House. If I want to be in the heart of Cape Town close to restaurants, museums, galleries and other attractions, Welgelegen is hard to beat!
Entrance of Welgelegen Boutique Hotel
“Since there are only 13 rooms, staying here feels more like you’re a house guest! It’s also perfect for a half-day at leisure: a block away is Kloof Street, a gateway to contemporary, chic Capetonian and pan-African culture.”
Rhoda Barnett: Tintswalo Atlantic
“But if you would like some extraordinary ocean views and some respite from Cape Town’s hustle & bustle, you’re going to like Tintswalo Atlantic a lot.”
Outdoor area at the Tintswalo Atlantic
“After a fire left the property partially destroyed, the lodge will be rebuilt later this year and Tintswalo Atlantic will be open for new bookings once again.”
“Aside from Tintswalo’s stellar ocean views, guests are able to easily access numerous hiking trails and other attractions dotting the Cape Peninsula, like Chapman’s Peak. To top it off, the food is exquisite!”
Mark & Alison with their sons Miles & Nicholas atop Table Mountain
Mark Nolting: Cape Grace Hotel
“After multiple visits to Cape Town over more than three decades, Alison and I both agree that the Cape Grace is our favorite hotel in Cape Town. It’s just one of those timeless classics where it feels like you’re visiting for the first time every time. Our last visit was in May 2018, but wish it was much more recent!”
View of VA Waterfront & Table Mountain
“Alison and I also really want to emphasize the quality of the Cape Grace’s staff. There are several stellar hotels with both a prized location on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and a magnificent view of Table Mountain. Yet all fall short of the attention to detail and warmness of the this hotel’s staff. This wonderful service is on full display during the hotel’s immaculate breakfasts and pre-dinner drinks at the cozy, warm bar.”
Alison Nolting: Mosaic Private Sanctuary
“But I have one more suggestion, especially if you’re keen to explore South Africa’s Garden Route and stay outside of Cape Town: Mosaic Private Sanctuary.”
View from Mosaic’s Pool
“This is the perfect place to ‘get away from it all.’ An added bonus is that the owner is very hands-on, not only with day-to-operations, but guest activities beyond the lodge, too. Whether its visiting Walker Bay for whale-watching, going to Stony Point to spot penguins, or a myriad of other activities, you are in great hands!”
AAC’s Sylvia Feil, with her son and their guide Jonathan Moko; Tortilis Camp, Amboseli National Park; Maasai tribesman, with Mt. Kilimanjaro in the background
The Africa Adventure Company’s very own Sylvia Feil and her son departed to Kenya for a week-long trip this weekend to celebrate his recent graduation from college!
Upon their arrival in Nairobi, they were met and escorted to their hotel by Jonathan Moko, AAC’s special (and exclusive) local guide for Nairobi.
Ellies drinking at waterhole
The following morning, they were transferred to their scheduled charter flight to Amboseli National Park. Sylvia was very excited to visit here, and for good reasons:
Mt. Kilimanjaro’s snow-capped peak looms over the gently undulating landscape, providing one of Africa’s most iconic settings
The springs and swamps fed by underground runoff moisture from Kilimanjaro provides year-round surface water in an otherwise arid region (Amboseli is derived from the Maasai “salty dust”); this makes Amboseli a great year-round destination!
This permanent fresh water provides a viable habitat for numerous “big game,” especially elephants; on a clear morning, photographers can snap breathtaking shots of them in front of Mt. Kilimanjaro in the distance
Another of Amboseli’s many elephants; zebras standing within one of the park’s pans
Sylvia’s game-drives have so far been very eventful: along with elephants and zebras, she and her son have also seen hippo, hyena, bat ear fox, mongoose, serval, warthog, flamingos, ostriches, baboons, vervet monkeys, giraffe, impala and dikdik.
Some sunbathing lion cubs
A highlight was spotting two lion cubs off the side of the road. Unfortunately, it appeared that they have been separated from mom for some time now. Thankfully, Silvia and her guide were able to get in touch with the Kenya Wildlife Service: help is on the way!
Maasai Village & School Visit
Another highlight was there visit to a Maasai village and school. Sylvia thought it was a truly rewarding experience.