African Safaris Consultants Blog » Africa Tue, 15 Apr 2014 07:32:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Zebra Migration Fri, 11 Apr 2014 07:38:53 +0000 It is well known in traveller circles that Botswana offers amazing safari experiences and untouched, raw natural beauty, but have you heard of the zebra migration in the Makgadigadi? Although not as famous as the Great Wildebeest Migration up in East Africa, the zebra migration is still a spectacular sight and is unique to this corner of Botswana. This particular migration, Africa’s second largest after the Serengeti migration, takes place after the December/January rains which, by February/ March, have transformed the arid expanse of the massive Makgadikgadi salt pans into a paradise of shallow streams, large pool-like puddles and vibrant green vistas.

The Okavango Delta and ancient Lake Makgadikgadi sit in the middle of the arid Botswana hinterland but, fed by the Okavango River (which in turn is fed by the rains in the Angolan highlands), the Delta swells each rainy season and creates a vast wetland teeming with life. A few hundred kilometers south is a dry lake that once would have also been an oasis, but nowadays is a salt pan created by endless seasons of evaporating water that never finds its way to the sea. The migration of some 30 000 strong zebra is a traditional journey between the two, in search of mineral-rich grasses, safe breeding grounds and, of course, water.


The unspoilt wonder of the Makgadigadi Pans.

The sight of herds of zebras on the move across the Kalahari Desert on their 680 km migration as they spread out into the remote, briefly verdant salt pans of the Delta, is a breathtaking and unforgettable sight. It’s a little-known wonder (and thus attracts fewer crowds) and is best seen from one of the luxury safari camps in the Makgadikgadi and Nxai National Parks or the Kalahari Desert, all teeming with wildlife and lush greenery during the rainy season. Studies have revealed that these Zebra in the Makgadikgadi can survive for up to a week without water.

Undiscovered Migration

The migration itself, ongoing since time immemorial, was undiscovered until recently when a research team noted zebras fitted with GPS collars had travelled from the southern Okavango to the distant Makgadikgadi grasslands and back, crossing over the region’s two national parks.

If it’s off-the-beaten-track and in search of something unique that you want, then timing your Botswana safari to coincide with the migration season (February and March) is a nice (and definitely different) idea! Here are our accommodation picks:

We suggest visiting Le Roo La Tau Safari Camp which lies nestled on the Makgadikgadi Pan National Park’s western border, just above the Boteti River’s life-giving waters. The lodge features a raised hide which is perfect for viewing the migratory herds clustering to drink and graze the sweet grasslands. Other animals also gather here, as do a wide variety of birds, many of which are in their colourful breeding plumage at this time of the year.

Zebra migration in full flight.

Zebra migration in full flight.

A more luxurious and certainly more remote choice would be Jack’s Camp, also situated in the Makgadikgadi Pans. Jack’s is unlike any other safari camp in the whole of Africa! Guests stay in luxury tents set against a dramatic desert landscape of massive silences and savage beauty. Inspired by the original 1940’s safari camp that old man Jack established, it is steeped in pioneer day history but has all luxury amenities.

Here you’ll see the herds grazing on the move whilst keeping a watchful eye for predators that follow the migration. Vultures and other birds of prey wheel and shriek in the air above the herds, waiting in competition with the local brown hyena packs for the chance to finish off a kill. Both camps offer full-day excursion drives across the vast plains, as well as quad-biking trips and walks led by experienced San Bushman guides.

Jack's Camp

Jack’s Camp

Makgadikgadi Pan

The Makgadikgadi Pan isn’t only one of the most magical of Africa’s remote wildlife regions but also one of the most fascinating for its plethora of species. The great migrations are a focus, not just for zebras, but also for impala, kudu and other plains game, including the endangered white rhino. The beauty of staying at one of the above camps isn’t just the amazing sights, it’s the night sounds of Africa, heard whilst enjoying a delicious meal with fine wine under a myriad stars.

For the thrill of a lifetime and an up-close and personal experience why not see the Botswana zebra migration on horseback? Spend up-to six dream days exploring the mysterious, millennia-old lake bed and its seasonal waterholes on horseback, accompanied by experienced guides. David Foot and his team are the best outfitters in the region and operate in collaboration with Unchartered Africa. Guests stay at Camp Kalahari which is located on the path of the migration and surrounded by the region’s desert-adapted wildlife including meerkat clans, aardvarks and porcupines.

For an unforgettable experience in one of Africa’s most remote locations why not follow the zebra migration across the Makgadikgadi salt pans? You may just be completely enthralled.

Zebra migration on horseback.

Zebra migration on horseback.

If you’d like to get more information on Botswana and the fascinating zebra migration, Contact Us and our expert consultants will be glad to answer any questions you might have.

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Five Things You Really Shouldn’t Miss on an African Safari Fri, 28 Mar 2014 10:28:17 +0000 The Big Five

Nothing compares to the thrill of seeing these endangered animals in the African wild: Elephant, Buffalo, Rhino, Leopard and Lion. The last three are particularly elusive animals and sadly their numbers are dwindling in the wild. Capturing them on camera or tracking them on foot surely counts as one of the most exhilarating experiences. You will have your friends asking to see your photographs and hear your stories for years to come!


The Best Ranger

An unforgettable safari game drive or walk ultimately comes down to the quality of the ranger. Expert safari guides know exactly how to thrill and fascinate you and make you feel as if you are a part of a riveting National Geographic documentary. They also have the skills to find the animal migration, entertain you with fascinating wildlife facts, keep you safe and get you award-winning photography opportunities.

Intuitive Staff

The best safari lodges are those with understated style that offer luxury and comfort, whilst blending into the natural surroundings. From the moment you step off your light aircraft staff will be on hand to anticipate your every move and deliver impeccable service with the warmest of smiles. They will gently ease you into the rhythm of the African bush by waking you for early morning sunrise trips (the best time to see animal migrations), preparing delicious afternoon teas and taking you on thrilling nocturnal animal spotting drives.

lodge staff1

African Sundowners

For many guests, this will be one of the highlights of their stay plus the glowing light makes for a great photo opportunity moment. Nothing beats a cold beer or gin & tonic in the bush as you watch the red African sun set over the plains. Later, be serenaded by the sounds of the bush at night and then gather around the crackling campfire to listen to some incredible tales of African tribes and the wild.


Dining in the Wilderness

After a long day exploring the wilderness or soaking up the glorious African sun at the pool, nothing beats feasting on gourmet bush cuisine and superlative wines served under the faint glow of a lantern lit canopy of an ancient ebony tree under an African starry sky. Possible even in the remotest wilderness places, this is an unexpected reason to go on a luxury safari.


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The Rhino Poaching Crisis: Colin Bell talks Statistics and Solutions Fri, 14 Mar 2014 15:23:44 +0000 Over the course of the last two or three years, the plight of African rhinos has become an issue of international concern. With Eastern demand for rhino horn products seemingly ever increasing, the numbers of rhinos poached annually is skyrocketing to potentially fatal levels –but what is actually being done about it? The Southern African Tourism Services Association (SATSA) – of which we are a member – recently hosted an informative presentation by renowned wildlife activist Colin Bell about just that. What follows is a synopsis of Mr. Bell’s extremely enlightening presentation.

Colin Bell is a longtime proponent of sustainable ecotourism and has several decades of experience under his belt in his various capacities at Wilderness Safaris and Great Plains Conservation. Now a fulltime conservation activist, Colin has used his extensive network and skillset to highlight African issues such as community development, poaching and habitat loss. His real passion though is the preservation of the African White and Black rhino – an animal for which he has a deep affinity.

The figures are truly staggering. In 2014, there is an estimated maximum of 25 000 rhinos left in the wild and this number could be inflated by as much as 5000. At present, we are losing over a thousand rhinos per year and climbing. Just a month or so ago, Mozambique lost their very last wild rhino to poaching. There are no more wild rhinos in Mozambique. That sentence is one we do not want to ever repeat for other African countries, and it could apply to South Africa in as little as five years time…


Colin Bell presents on the decline of rhinos due to poaching.

At this stage you are probably wondering why are more people buying rhino horns? What has changed in the last three years? The answers to these questions are multifaceted and encompass both social and cultural considerations. Firstly, there has been an incredible growth of the Asian middleclass. This has lead to greater demand for substances that were previously the preserve of the elite – such as rhino horn, which is believed to have aphrodisiac properties. Secondly, there was an unsubstantiated claim made in Vietnam that rhino horn has cancer-fighting abilities. These two factors have sent demand sky high. In fact a recent WWF survey determined that while 5% of the population in Vietnam’s biggest cities Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are currently using rhino horn products, a whopping 16% still aspire to. Scary stuff indeed!

The trade of illicit rhino horn is big business. The estimated street value of the horns from poached rhinos in 2013 exceeds three billion Rand. That money is being used to finance militias, to buy arms and to fund terrorism. The recent terror attacks in Kenya were committed by an organization that derives almost all its funding from rhino horn trade. This is a global issue, not just an African one.

All throughout Africa, some of the poorest communities live on the fringes of pristine wilderness and national parks. They have become increasingly marginalized and do not see enough benefit from tourism and conservation to actively pursue it. Little wonder then that they turn to poaching as a means to support their family. In South Africa, 60-80% of the illegal rhino horn passes through Mozambique right through these very same ‘fringe’ communities.


We need to preserve these beautiful animals while we still can.

Having played his part in several successful rhino reintroductions in Botswana and Namibia, Colin has now shifted focus to South Africa – a country where 80% of all African rhinos are located.  He envisions a scenario such as that in Damaraland, Namibia, where reintroduced rhino now freely roam across thousands of kilometers without being poached. The reason for this is that the local communities are stakeholders in the project and it is in their interests to ensure the rhinos conservation. It is this sort of ‘holistic’ approach that we need to implement in South Africa.

Colin proposes a number of solutions that, when implemented together, have a real chance of combatting not just rhino horn trade, but illegal wildlife trade generally. These are:

  • Integrate communities: The communities around national parks need to be consulted and considered. Their lives need to improve in order for any real change to be lasting and effective,
  • Make use of technical advancements: The United States military has developed an incredibly advanced mobile field unit that is capable of observing areas as large as 50 hectares. This technology is capable of identifying animals, humans and even weapons from incredible distances. Costing $1million each, they’re not cheap, but they are obtainable.
  • International lobbying and diplomacy: With enough pressure, changes will be made. Chinese demand for shark fin almost halved recently when the Chinese government took shark fin soup off all official menus due to international pressure.
  • Establish a National Capital Tourism Fund: Colin proposes that an extra 1% be added to all tourism related fees and that that money goes towards National conservation endeavors.

Although the situation is dire, it is not yet critical. There are positive developments being made – this talk to key stakeholders in the South African tourism industry being just one example. Colin and his team are mobilizing and a movement is building. We’ll be sure to keep you in the loop as we join forces to keep our wildlife around for many generations to come.

White Rhino & Calf

White Rhino & Calf

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African Safari Consultants Present: Victoria Falls [video] Fri, 21 Feb 2014 11:10:28 +0000 Nicknamed ‘The Smoke That Thunders’, the Victoria Falls are without question the jewels in the crown of both Zimbabwe and Zambia. One of the largest, most impressive waterfalls in the world, the mist from the falls alone has created a thriving rain forest on it’s periphery, while the valley below teems with Africa’s Big Five and more.

Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie seeking adventure in the form of a bungee jump, white water rafting or a helicopter flight, or a honeymooning couple seeking the romantic grandeur of Africa, the Victoria Falls are the ideal destination. Sir David Livingstone, the first Western explorer to lay eyes on the falls, remarked that it was one of the most beautiful sights he had ever seen. He was right!

Watch the Victoria Falls video below to learn a bit more about a true African wonder, then Contact Us to plan your trip to Victoria Falls.

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Press Release: Great Plains Conservation and &Beyond join forces to translocate 100 rhino. Wed, 29 Jan 2014 11:32:02 +0000 With rhino poaching at an all-time high in South Africa, two of Africa’s leading conservation companies, Great Plains Conservation and andBeyond, have joined forces to safely translocate up to 100 rhino from South Africa to the safe haven of Botswana.

“There is a battle for Africa’s wildlife raging as we speak. Rhinos are being poached at a rate of one every nine hours and the official number is 1 004 dead in 2013 alone. The unofficial number, because we simply do not find them all, is well over 1 000. Like everyone, I’ve been watching this desperate situation worsen, which is why Great Plains Conservation and &Beyond have decided to take action. This is not a Great Plains Conservation project or an &Beyond one, it is a global one that we can all play a role in, small and large. I don’t believe in branded conservation — it needs to be something we all get behind to save a species,” says Dereck Joubert, Great Plains CEO.

White Rhino & Calf

White Rhino & Calf

“Botswana has an excellent security system in place to protect these endangered animals and will be a safe haven for the relocated rhino. Translocations are fundamental to secure the ongoing survival of endangered species and this groundbreaking project aims to protect the species for future generations to enjoy. A project this size requires a strong partnership and a huge resource pool to pull it off. We are therefore very pleased to be joining forces with Great Plains Conservation for this mass translocation. We share the same mission and operating ethos and together we believe we can make this happen,” says Joss Kent, &Beyond CEO.

Having successfully translocated six rhino from South Africa to Botswana last year, &Beyond’s conservation team will lend its expertise to the project. Up to 100 rhino will be captured and safely transported from South Africa and released in Botswana’s remote wilderness. Each rhino will be tagged and microchipped for research and monitoring purposes. A dedicated anti-poaching team will then work in conjunction with the Botswana government agencies to monitor the animals using the latest technology.

A rhino relocation in progress.

A rhino relocation in progress.

This operation will cost USD8 million and both Great Plains Conservation and &Beyond will announce specific fundraising initiatives to enable tourism stakeholders, travel partners, tour operators and guests to help save this iconic species and ensure Africa’s Big Five remains for future generations to enjoy.

The battle to save the rhino from extinction won’t be won tomorrow; however, with joint initiatives such as this, the battle won’t be lost tomorrow either.


Hilton Walker

T. +27 (13) 7502005 | M. +27 (82) 5799055

Twitter @ZerosForRhinos


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GoPro: Lions – The New Endangered Species? Fri, 24 Jan 2014 10:30:55 +0000 Kevin Richardson – aka The Lion Whisperer – is a South African ‘self-taught’ zoologist with a particular affinity for big predators like lions and hyenas. Beginning his career as a 22 year old assistant on a lion reserve outside Johannesburg, South Africa, Kevin quickly realised his passion and unique ability to connect with the animals in a way that few others can. Ever since those days in his formative early 20s, Kevin has worked tirelessly to highlight the plight of wild predators in Africa and campaign for their conservation. He is world-renowned on the internet for a series of clips showing him seemingly disregarding personal safety concerns, and embracing wild lions who rush to greet him as if common house cats.

Kevin teamed up with GoPro for the video below and we think you’ll agree that the result is pretty special indeed. Enjoy!

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The Great Migration – New Twists in the Tails Thu, 09 Jan 2014 11:24:35 +0000 The Great Migration – otherwise known as the greatest spectacle on Earth – is an annual phenomenon whereby between one and two million wildebeest and zebra migrate from the northern Serengeti to the southern Serengeti in order to follow the life-giving rains and abundance of food. The migration is a massive drawcard for Tanzania and Kenya and lays claim to being the largest mammal migration on the planet.

This year the migration is a bit out of kilter as there are still big herds in the north which is unusual for this time of year as, by now, most herds are already in the south. Some animals actually turned around and went back north after beginning the migration south too early!  We’ve received word though from camps in the area that those stragglers have now started to head south again. This means that we’re witnessing a lot more river ‘crossings’ at this stage of the year than any in recent history.

Our guests in the north who were not expecting to see the migration have hit a spot of good fortune whilst, conversely, our guests who headed south specifically may be a bit disappointed – but thankfully not for too long it seems.

Blue Wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus)

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Elephant’s Trunk Bitten by Crocodile while Drinking Fri, 20 Dec 2013 07:10:23 +0000 Africa is a hot place, with temperatures in summer often reaching in excess of 100 ºF in the shade.  Cooling off and keeping hydrated is therefore essential for the animals survival. Sometimes that means taking a drink in conditions that are not always ideal – as was the case with this elephant bull in the South Luangwa National Park, one of the great animal sanctuaries of Zambia.

Photographed by Mfuwe Lodge manager Ian Salisbury, the bull got quite a surprise when he went for a drink at his local water hole. He was just a few short sips in to his refreshing drink when an opportunistic Nile crocodile rather cheekily took hold of his trunk. The elephant bull was shaken, but luckily in command enough of his senses to give his trunk a good trumpet, which dislodged the hungry reptile. Although all is well that ends well, you can be sure that this elephant bull will double check when next he decides to quench his thirst…

Enjoy the photographs and Contact Us to put together a Zambia adventure of your own!









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Baby Elephant Rescued from Muddy Pond Fri, 13 Dec 2013 12:09:47 +0000 Here’s a touching video from last year in which a five day old elephant was rescued from drowning in a very muddy pond in the Amboseli National Park in Kenya. The little one had misjudged the depth of the mud and soon found itself stuck. Luckily it was spotted by park wardens who quickly stepped in to rescue the calf and then reunited it with it’s mother moments later.

We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

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Botswana: 8 Reasons You Should Go Fri, 15 Nov 2013 13:51:43 +0000 The Southern African country of Botswana is currently enjoying a golden period of tourism and is probably the African safari destination of the moment. With a friendly population, good infrastructure, unbelievable wildlife and a wide range of accommodation options, it has become the darling of the African continent. But just what makes Botswana so special? We look at 12 reasons that Botswana is on everyone’s lips below.

1. The Okavango Delta

The gem in Botswana’s crown, the Okavango Delta is undoubtedly the country’s most popular destination. With a rich variety of plant, animal and bird life, the game viewing here is truly exceptional. Take a traditional makoro ride through the channels and explore this beautiful oasis the traditional way with an experienced guide – it will make you feel like the first explorer in Africa!

2. An Authentic Safari Experience

Botswana is an incredibly vast country, with the majority of it being completely natural undeveloped. This makes for an authentic safari experience as you explore the beauty of untouched Africa. Gaze upon a sky filled with stars and hear the sounds of the animals as you lie in bed at night, just as nature intended. Botswana prides itself on its model of sustainable tourism so most of the lodges are built with locally sourced, sustainable materials and have minimum environmental impact. The remoteness of the camps also means that you’ll enjoy an unrivalled sense of privacy and solitude with no other tourists for miles (and miles) around.


The Okavango Delta

3. Three Vastly Different Ecosystems 

From the wetlands of the Okavango Delta, to the sparse, dry environment of Makgadigadi Salt Pants and The Kalahari Desert, to the grasslands of the Savuti, Botswana is blessed with an enviable ecological diversity. A trip to the country should ideally encompass all three, as each ecosystem brings with it a uniquely beautiful set of characteristics. The Kalahari Desert is famous for the phenomenal zebra migration, where thousands and thousands of Burchell’s zebras traverse the harsh environment in search of greener pastures in what is truly an unforgettable safari experience; while Chobe National Park and Savuti are internationally renowned for having some of the highest concentrations of elephant on the continent.

4. Variety of Safari Activities

Botswana offers visitors the chance to experience the magnificent fauna and flora in a variety of ways. The country has some incredible fishing spots (with all fish being protected by the compulsory catch and release system) suitable for both novices and professionals alike. With a trained fisherman guide at your side – and waters rich in tilapia, catfish and African pike – you’re almost guaranteed a big catch, made all the more enjoyable by the pristine natural surroundings you’ll find yourself in. As mentioned above, the mokoro makes for an exciting, authentic way to view game in the Okavango Delta for those with a taste for adrenaline, as do the expertly guided bush walks. Botswana has some of the best rangers and guides in Africa, so a game drive in the country is always richly rewarding and informative.


Game drives in Botswana are successful more often than not.

5. Cultural Interactions with the San People

Botswana is one of the last remaining strongholds of the ancient San people – thought to be among the very first inhabitants of the continent. With an understanding and love for the land and its creatures that is second to none, a cultural visit to a San village is a must. Extremely welcoming, the San love sharing their culture with visitors and offer fascinating insight into the lives of one of the world’s last remaining hunter-gatherer tribes.

6. A wide range of Accommodation Options

Botswana has camps and lodges to suit all tastes and budgets. From the rustic and minimalistic to the opulent and luxurious, there is an accommodation option for everyone. All the camps are expertly managed, with highly trained staff and incredible food. Our expert safari consultants have visited them all and will offer fantastic advice as to which would best complement your Botswana experience.

7. Good Infrastructure

Botswana is a stable and (relatively) wealthy democratic country with little to no political upheaval. Access is easy with regular flights between Sir Seretse Khama International Airport in Gaborone (Botswana’s capital) and Johannesburg. Most of the camps have airstrips, so getting around is a breeze. The majority of camps in Botswana accept international credit cards, as well as US Dollars, so one needn’t worry about paying for that beautiful stone carving you just cannot resist.


8. Climate

The climate in Botswana is semi-arid which means that the country has a short rainy season and enjoys warm weather for most of the year. Temperatures in summer can be very high, so it’s best to consult with the ASC experts to find a travel time that’s most comfortable for you.

Contact Us about putting together your Botswana trip of a lifetime!


Botswana has some incredible accommodation options.

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