African Safaris Consultants Blog » private safari Tue, 15 Apr 2014 07:32:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Red Hartebeest collides with mountain biker Mon, 17 Oct 2011 13:11:23 +0000 A jaw dropping YouTube clip was recently circulated like wild fire on all the major news networks and social media platforms. You must have seen it by now – the guy on a mountain bike who gets slammed into by a flying antelope.

Click to view clip :  Red Hartebeest collides with biker

If we sold mountain bikes, helmets, or insurance we’d be focussing on the guy. But this is an African Safari’s blog and so here is a bit more about the antelope (which was unharmed in the accident by the way).

It was a Red Hartebeest, a common species which occurs throughout the grasslands of Southern and East Africa. It is the second fastest antelope in Africa reaching speeds of up to 65 km/h. (The fastest antelope is the Tssesebe) A Red Haartebeest is about 1.5m (5ft) tall and weighs between 120-200kg (265-440lb) The word hartebeest originally comes from the Dutch spreaking Boer settlers who thought it looked like a deer. Hert in Dutch means ‘deer’ and beest is ‘beast’.

Being a common widespread species, and supposedly not threatened, it is a firm favourite in the hunting fraternity. We do not condone hunting AT ALL! Instead we urge you to invest in a good camera and come on a photographic safari. However, if the thrill of mountain biking in the bush appeals to you, it can be arranged. Selected non-Big Five game reserves allow controlled mountain biking trails. For more information contact one of our African Safari Consultants

]]> 0
Birders vs non-birders on safari Fri, 07 Oct 2011 09:07:16 +0000 Non-birders on safari

Now here is a dilemma. We recently had a couple who all in all had a fantastic safari in Botswana and Kruger except for one recurring problem….They proclaimed to not be very interested in birds, but just as luck would have it, they found themselves on game drives with keen birders, or twitchers or bird fundis or whatever other
name you give to people who want to stop, reach for their binoculars, and identify and observe our little feathered friends! Our clients found this boring and frustrating, and would have preferred to have spent the time
tracking the Big Five as opposed to sitting in hushed bird-watching mode.

Now this is a tricky potentially explosive situation! And as a safari operator, I have given a solution some thought.

Firstly, serious birders would let us know that they are looking for a specialist birding trip and we would arrange a birding guide and exclusive use of the safari vehicle accordingly. Fanatical birders can be quite weird and potentially intimidating! They are known to travel vast distances in extreme conditions to tick off a sought-after rare species. Dinner table conversation will be exclusively about birds and brag stories about which SBB (small brown bird) was spotted where. They are a mixed bag of humans, coming from all walks of life but will definately have a pair of super-binoculars hanging around their neck at all times.

In this particular case, the other guests on the game vehicle were most likely just keen birders who love seeing the animals, but who have seen their share of lazy lions lying in the shade. These folk have probably been on safari a few times and want to learn more about the birds and the trees. It is generally first-time safari goers who aren’t particularly interested in birds and the ‘Little Five’, and who still have a lot to learn about the African bush. For them (and our recent past clients), being on safari with keen birders can be dull and seemingly time wasting. I am tempted to say to these folks ‘sit back, relax and enjoy the sounds and smells of the bush…you never know what might walk out from under a tree off to the left while everyone else has binoculars glued to their faces looking right!!!‘ But in all seriousness, the solution lies in the hands of the safari lodges. Lodge staff and rangers should chat to their guests and get an idea of their interests and then, if possible, assign them to separate safari vehicles so that…birds of a feather can flock together!

African Jacana - his long toes allow him to 'walk on water'

]]> 0
Pic of the week : Hippo by Stephen Raffay Wed, 05 Oct 2011 12:27:05 +0000 Hippopotamus amphibius  – “river horse”

This great shot of a hippo showing off his incisors was taken by Stephen Raffay, a professional photographer who is currently on safari in the Kruger National Park area care of   Contrary to popular belief, this old guy is not yawning or opening up wide for the dentist…! This is a typical display of aggression towards younger bull hippos.

Stephen visited Mala Mala Game Reserve and Tinga Safari Lodge.  If you would like to see more of Stephen’s wildlife photography or order prints, here is his website raffayphoto

Old Big-Mouth in the foreground. Rhino mother and calf are reflected in the water in the background



]]> 0
We’ve been nominated for Travel & Leisure magazine’s A-List Travel Agent awards! Mon, 03 Oct 2011 08:50:42 +0000 “As long time T&L (Travel & Leisure Magazine) readers and subscribers, we want to tell you about our recent trip to South Africa, Botswana, Zambia & Namibia, and to nominate our Tour Operator, African Safari Consultants, for your 2012 A-List. We were celebrating our 20th anniversary, and wanted to plan a “trip of a lifetime.”  We knew we wanted to go to Africa, but had no idea where to start or how to narrow down our choices.  Enter African Safari Consultants.  With over fifteen years of experience, and a wonderful, informative website, ASC’s head honchos Jeff Ward in NY and Liesl Matthews in Cape Town worked tirelessly with us to figure out which countries, habitats, and lodges would best suit our needs.  They were wonderful at planning a trip that fit our budget, and the varied needs of two old fogies, as well as our teenage children.  They were endlessly patient as we went back and forth about cost, level of luxury, and types of lodges, giving advice that was helpful, accurate, and based on a thorough first-hand knowledge of the locations we were considering. They even considered when we would need unscheduled down time (after our two day journey from IAH-LHR-CPT), and when we would be happy to go-go-go.

We were particularly cognizant of the value of having someone in NY and in Cape Town looking out for us when, in the middle of our trip, a Chilean volcano eruption caused the cancellation of one of our flights.  Liesl quickly got us rebooked and all of our downline transfers re-organized so that we were able to rejoin our intended itinerary as soon as the skies cleared.  This had the potential to be a nightmare, but ended up being a small blip on our radar screens thanks to the excellent in-country support of ASC.

Our expectations were high, but our trip far surpassed them.  Every part of the trip was just as advertised by the folks at ASC.  There were no unpleasant surprises, and we would HIGHLY recommend them to anyone planning a trip to Africa.

We would be happy to answer any questions you might have about our experience with ASC.”

Jill & John Pollock, Houston, TX





]]> 0
Wildlife pic of the week: The African Buffalo Wed, 28 Sep 2011 10:57:42 +0000 The African Buffalo is a respected member of the Big Five even though he might look like a mellow bovine. His cousins in the East, the Asian Water Buffalo, can be domesticated. Not this guy!  He is extremely dangerous, and is capable of killing a lion. He is on the trophy wish list of big game hunters and I am pleased to report that he has gored and maimed many a hunter! You have heard the expression – ‘like a wounded buffalo’ to describe someone who is so mad with rage and attacks relentlessly again and again…Those geeky looking horns actually act as a ‘shield’ and the thick bone is capable of stopping a rifle bullet. We do NOT condone big game hunting! But we do encourage you to join an African Safaris photographic safari to the Kruger National Park, the Sabi Sands, the South Luangwa National Park, the Lower Zambezi National Park, the Masai Mara and the Serengeti.

It is thrilling to be in a safari vehicle amongst a herd of buffalo. You are quite safe if you stay in the vehicle, but you definitely get a sense of their power and potential danger.

]]> 0
The great migration – the gory aftermath Mon, 26 Sep 2011 09:58:18 +0000 Being in East Africa’s Masai Mara and Serengeti national parks during the annual migration is high up on every animal lover’s wish list. The awesomeness is in the sheer numbers and the opportunity to witness one of
nature’s most incredible spectacles.  Not everybody is lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time to see the famous River Crossings – when thousands of wildebeest, on auto-pilot, launch themselves as one into crocodile infested rivers with a seemingly blind faith in ‘safety in numbers’.

As nature has it, there are casualties and this is good news for the predators – the crocodiles, hyena, jackal, other small mammals and ultimately squabbling parties of vulture and ugly marabou storks.

jackal & vulture 'tidying up' in the Serengeti

But be prepared. The aftermath of the migration is not for the faint hearted. You will need a strong stomach.  The river banks and immediate surrounds are literally littered with carcasses being chewed and pecked.  Grim as it may be, this is all part of nature’s big plan as hundreds of creatures, birds and insects ultimately benefit from the gory slaughter.

Vultures and a 'picked clean' carcass

If you would like to visit East Africa and see the migration it is best to start planning and booking your trip now. It is tricky choosing which safari camps to book as it all depends on the time of year and whether you travel to Tanzania or Kenya or both. Talk to one of our African Safari Consultants for more advice and info.

]]> 2
World Rhino Day – 22 September 2011 Wed, 21 Sep 2011 13:22:21 +0000 One of the Big 5 – Rhinos on Safari

I have done a blog post before on Rhino poaching when it was all looking like it was getting out of control a couple of months ago.  There was a huge outcry and then things looked like they calmed down a bit and some progress was being made……but suddenly it has all gone way out of control again and I read that a Rhino is being killed every 22 hours!!  There is a big protest that is going to happen tomorrow in Cape Town, South Africa, outside our parliament buildings, calling on our government to do more to help save these endangered animals that are being so ruthlessly killed for their horns.

Let’s hope that progress is made world-wide in recognizing the plight of one of Africa’s most famous animals.

Family of White Rhinos

I found a few interesting bits of information about the Rhino that I thought I would share in honor of their day tomorrow:

-  The collective noun for a group of Rhinos is a crash or herd
-  The main difference between the Black Rhino and White Rhino is the shape of their mouths
-  The White Rhino have broad flat lips for grazing
-  The Black Rhino has long pointed lips for eating foliage
-  Rhino horns consist of Keratin only – the same type of protein that makes up hair and fingernails
-  There are 5 species of Rhino of which 3 are classified as critically endangered
-  2 species native to Africa and 3 species native to southern Asia
-  The biggest predator of Rhinos are humans

If you are in South Africa you can help and donate to many organizations.  You can also buy a bag from Supermarket Chain Woolworths and proceeds go automatically to help Rhinos.  Have a look at this quick video I found:

Save the Rhinos from Extinction

And just a reminder for how wonderful these animals are – some really cute footage of a Mom and baby posted by Londolozi earlier this week:

Mom and Baby

Please all do something!

]]> 0
A story about the Cheetah – a Safari highlight Wed, 17 Aug 2011 12:38:08 +0000 The beautiful Cheetah

A newsletter popped into my inbox yesterday from a lodge in the KwaZulu Natal province of South Africa.  At the bottom they added some really interesting facts about Cheetahs which I didn’t know.  So I thought I would do a little research and see what else I could learn for myself.

Here are the facts in the newsletter from Nambiti Hills:

-  A cheetah’s body temperature at rest is around 39ºC (102.2F).  When the cheetah hunts, her body temperature gets up to 242.5ºC (468.5F)!
-  A cheetah can eat 14 kg of meat in a sitting. That’s close to one third of her body weight
-  A cheetah’s heart, liver and lungs are nearly three times the size of those of a lioness. That’s because they need to get as much oxygen into their system as they can

Using a few resources I found a few other things about the Cheetah that I don’t think are common known facts:

-  A cheetah can go from 0 to 60 miles (96 kilometers) an hour in only three seconds
-  The cheetah hunts by vision rather than by scent. Prey is stalked to within 10–30 m (33–98 ft), then chased. This is usually over in less than a minute, and if the cheetah fails to make a catch quickly, it will give up. The cheetah has an average hunting success rate of around 50%
-  When cheetahs run fast they use their tales to steer.  Their tails work like a rudder of a boat to help them turn the direction they want to go
-  Cheetahs do not roar like lions, but purr just like a domestic cat. They also chirp like a bird, hiss, whine, growl in anger or fright and moan in distress
-  The cheetah has a small head with high-set eyes. Black “tear marks”, which run from the corner of its eyes down the sides of the nose to its mouth, keep the sun out of its eyes and make it one of the most deadly hunters
-  It is the only felid with non-retractable claws and pads that, by their scope, disallow gripping (therefore cheetah cannot climb vertical trees, although they are generally capable of reaching easily accessible branches).

Most wild cheetahs are found in Eastern and South Western Africa. Perhaps only 7,000 to 10,000 of them remain, and those are under pressure as the wide-open grasslands they favor are disappearing at the hands of human settlers.  The average life cycle for a Cheetah is up to 12 years in the wild, but most survive around 8 years and in captivity they can live up to 20 years.

If you looking to see these animals in action then chat to us about a vacation to Phinda, the Eastern Cape, Namibia or Tanzania and we can tailor make the perfect itinerary for you!  I have only seen these beautiful mammals a couple of times in my life and always hold my breath.  I find them magic!

And in case you have missed it – don’t forget to go and see The Last of the Lions, a National Geographic movie!

]]> 0
We love our client feedback! Thu, 07 Jul 2011 13:28:38 +0000 We have stressed this before but it is super when we get feedback from our clients.  It really helps us to know that the trips we put together have been properly tailored to their best interests.  Have a read below for some feedback on our services and also some great feedback on particular camps too.


Thanks for checking on us.  Now that we’ve semi-recovered from the 35-hour trip home, we’re starting to feel normal again.  We loved the trip!  Every camp was different, and we were so happy that they came in the order you chose:

Ilkeliani was the best for seeing animals up close.  We had a wonderful guide, who really knew what he was doing.  And since nearly everyone there was a Masa warrior, we felt like we were really in the real Africa.  They taught us so much about their culture, and lives.  And everyone was SO friendly.

The Ngorongoro Camp was a slight bit higher quality — with wood floors, really good food, etc.  But if we were doing it again, this is the camp we’d probably leave out.  It took so long to get there and the guides weren’t allowed to get off the roads in Tanzania so we didn’t really see all that many animals.  And we froze to death!  I’d taken a sweatshirt and warm jacket, and ended up wearing them from morning to night.  Thank goodness for their heaters in the room, and the wonderful hot water bottles in the bed!

So we were looking forward to the warmer climate in the Serengeti.  And what a present you gave us by moving us to the Migration Camp!  It was absolutely gorgeous… almost impossible to believe we were actually in tents.  And the hosts were SO gracious, making us feel welcome.  Every night the resident hippos would serenade us as we slept.  And the last morning after breakfast, I nearly ran into a giraffe who was grazing right beside the path!

And speaking of Giraffes — Giraffe Manor was a wonderful experience!  Every single person who works there made us feel like we were the most important people they’d ever had there (making us wonder if it’s the Kenyans who are friendlier than the Tanzanians??).  And it was obvious how much they love working there.  The hotel and food were absolutely top of the line.  And the giraffe experience was simply indescribable.  I can’t tell you how much we loved it.

From Montana's Album

In the whole trip, there were only 2 things that were less-than-perfect.

You’d told us we were responsible for the park fees at the Masai Mara, but we hadn’t prepared for them being $240.  So we were a little shocked, and then concerned that we wouldn’t have enough cash with us.  (Travelers checks were not accepted anywhere on the trip, so you might want to let people know that.)  As it turned out, we were lucky enough to find some hot air balloonists at Ilkeliani who were willing to buy some of our travelers checks.

We missed the migration crossing the rivers.  We weren’t sure if you interpreted what we wanted as the GATHERING of the animals — which we saw a lot of! — instead of the actual crossing, or if the timing was just off.  We know the animals travel according to their own calendar, and not ours, and it had been wetter so the grasses in the Serengeti were still green.  So even though Tommy was disappointed at missing that, everything else made up for it.

So, thank you, thank you for a trip of a lifetime.  We will never forget it.  And, although we likely won’t make another trip to Africa, you can be sure we’ll recommend you to anyone who thinks about a safari.  You’ve been absolutely wonderful.    Montana

You can also read Montana’s feedback which she posted on TripAdvisor here

Montana & Tom on their African Safari

]]> 0
Photo of the Week: Lion Cubs Fri, 01 Jul 2011 13:35:25 +0000

Lion Cubs Drinking

There has been a fair focus on Lions this week with the release of “The Last Lions” movie trailor featuring Ma di Tau.

They are also one of the huge reasons people travel to Africa, to see these amazing creatures in their wild, natural habitat.  Part of the Big 5 (Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo & Rhino) group of animals that has made South Africa and the Kruger National Park famous, you can also see plenty of Lion in the South Luangwa National Park in Zambia, Etosha National Park in Namibia as well as in Botswana and of course lets not forget Tanzania and Kenya!

The interesting thing that I learnt this week about Lion Cubs – is that only about 20% of them survive to reach adulthood! I was quite stunned by that figure…..

]]> 0