African Safaris Consultants Blog Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:28:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Lioness Fosters Baby Baboon Wed, 16 Apr 2014 12:41:30 +0000 There are some incredible things happening at any given moment around the world that we will never know about. This extraordinary sequence of events in Botswana being a perfect example…

Photographer Evan Schiller and Lisa Holzwarth were on a game drive in the northern Botswana‘s Selinda area when they came across a big troop of baboons charging through the bush.

“30-40 baboons were heading in our general direction making a lot of noise,” Lisa recalls.

The baboons were obviously frightened by something and they all scampered up trees, shouting, alarming, and making a big scene. It quickly became clear what the problem was: two large lionesses came out of the tall grass and rushed the baboons into the trees, soon joined by two more lionesses.

“Between the baboons shrieking and the lionesses communicating with deep guttural roars, it was a mad scene,” Lisa says.

Then the real chaos began! One brave baboon descended the dead tree and tried to make a run for it but got snapped up in the jaws of a lioness.


The lioness grabbed a female baboon on the run. But there was something else there. As the baboon lay dying in the jaws of the lioness, a little baby (less than a month old) slowly disengaged from its mother’s body (photograph by Evan Schiller).


Instinct took over and the baby tried to make a go for a tree, but did not have the strength to climb. At this point the lioness noticed the “little guy” and went over to investigate.


Instead of snapping the baby up in a deadly movement, she started to play with the baboon.


The lioness was inquisitive and gentle at the same time.


After a while she picked up the baboon softly in her mouth and walked away, then settled down with the baby between her paws.


In a strange behavioural twist, the baboon started to try and suckle the lioness.



The lioness got distracted-this time by two male lions who arrived on the scene. Their advances, however, were met with aggression by the lioness. Was she defending the baby baboon? Or just uninterested in their mating advances?

Here’s where it gets interesting: waiting in a nearby tree is a big male baboon, who is obviously intent on saving the baby. The male lions were causing such a ruckus that it presented a short window of opportunity for the brave hero to descend the tree, grab the baby and head back to safety.

The father baboon had to make a move. Holding the baby, in all sorts of contorted positions, he tried numerous times to climb down the tree. He tested the lionesses’ interest with each descent.


The heroic male baboon, having just saved the baby from the lions, cradled him in his arms.


“I was touched by how gently the father baboon held this little baby who was in tough shape after its ordeal” – said Lisa after witnessing the incredible sequence of events unfold. Isn’t nature just amazing?

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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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Top 5 Places To Take Kids On An African Safari Fri, 04 Apr 2014 06:51:38 +0000 When you think back to your best childhood memories, inevitably one of your most treasured memories will stem from a family holiday. But can you really take your young ones on safari in Africa? The answer is an emphatic yes! It does require some planning but can turn into an enriching family experience which your youngsters will remember for the rest of their lives. You never know, they might even grow up to become conservationists or vets.

We asked our travel consultants (6 out of 7 happen to be mothers) to recommend their best picks of child-friendly safari lodges and hotels which are safe, and have plenty of activities to keep your youngsters entertained whilst teaching them about the African bush, predators and indigenous herbs and plants.

What better way than to take some time out and relax, whilst your little monkeys are in the capable hands of professional rangers who will teach them how to identify and track animal spoor, gain an understanding of the laws of nature and help with conservation programs.

1.     Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge

One of our top recommendations for a family-friendly safari is Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge, located in the environs of the Kruger National Park. This flagship lodge has been set up especially with families in mind and boasts the Elefun Centre, a facility to nurture children’s understanding and appreciation of nature. The experienced staff run junior tracker programs for wannabe mowglis and junior ranger programs for pre-teens, perfect to keep your kids entertained whilst you relax with a pampering spa treatment. Skilled rangers take your kids on tailor-made bush walks and game drives to explore the incredible variety of bugs, birds and wildlife that live in the Sabi Sabi Game Reserve. Activities range from arts and crafts afternoons, scavenger hunts and blindfold adventures.


Gaining an appreciation for nature in the heart of the African bush.

2.     Lalibela Mark’s Camp

We love Lalibela Mark’s Camp for young families because of its location in the malaria free Eastern Cape. What’s more, it’s easily accessible from the Garden Route and Cape Town. The camp is set up accordingly with its big family-sized chalets, safari vehicles that have been adapted for children, a fenced-in camp with two pools, as well as services such as baby-sitting, a full program of activities, arts and crafts for children and a kiddie menu.

3.     Shamwari Game Reserve

Shamwari Game Reserve is one of our favourite family safari destinations for a number of reasons. Also located in the malaria free area of the Eastern Cape, it offers six lodges with options to suit all budgets. We recommend booking the colonial-style Riverdene Lodge with inter-leading luxury rooms, a supervised playroom and rim flow pool, as well as a jungle gym and rolling green lawns perfect for the little ones to run around on. There’s a child co-ordinator to talk you through activity options for your man-cubs, excursions to the Born Free Centre, Shamwari Wildlife Hospital and Big Cat Rescue Centre. The reserve is also home to the Shamwari Film Studio, which screens ‘Shamwari – A Wild Life’, a series that recently aired on Discovery Channel’s Animal Planet. Other activities to keep your youngsters entertained include African bead making, face painting, clay making, star-gazing and African story-telling. The reserve itself is 24 years old and well stocked with big predators and an abundance of wildlife.

4.     Londolozi

Londolozi is legendary! It is one of the most well established and best loved game reserves in the Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve. If budget is not too much of a concern, it is the perfect setting for families to bond and share once in a lifetime wildlife experiences. We recommend staying at either the Founders or Varty Camp, where you will find the Cub Den which features Land Rovers to ‘drive’, a fish pond to splash around in, various campout tents and an educational centre. Book your older children into bushveld excursions which are run by expert rangers and include fun activities such as catching insects, bird watching, spoor identification, African dance, candle making and drumming. Parents, meanwhile, can go on game drives to get extraordinarily close to the Big Five or relax in the beautiful surroundings.

The spectacular Londolozi.

The spectacular Londolozi.

5.     Mala Mala Main Camp

We love Mala Mala Main Camp as they welcome all ages, including teddy bears and pet dinosaurs! Children between the ages of 4 and 12 receive a Mala Mala backpack on arrival which includes items such as a compass, thermometer, interactive animal check-list and colouring books. The experienced rangers teach youngsters an appreciation of the African bush as well as basic bush survival skills, advice on how to spot the warning signs of dangerous animals, how to track animals and identify their droppings. The camp itself is the perfect blend of bush lodge and luxurious accommodation, complete with pool, sizeable rooms, babysitters and a menu to cater for all tastes. Best of all, you’re right in the heart of some of South Africa’s best game spotting territory!

A note on malaria

Whilst many of Africa’s game parks are situated in areas that are not malaria free, South Africa’s Eastern Cape, Madikwe and Waterberg regions are malaria-free game reserves that include the Big Five. Fortunately malaria is less prevalent during the cooler months (May to September) when the Kruger National Park and Northern KwaZulu Natal become lower risk. Prophylactics (tablets taken as part of a course during and after your stay) are an effective deterrent, along with anti-mosquito bite precautions (deet-free sprays and repellents) and nets. Children under the age of 5 cannot take malaria prophylactics, and so we advise that you only travel to the malaria free reserves in the Eastern Cape, Madikwe and Waterberg areas.

For a memorable wildlife experience, special bonding time and photo opportunities for you and your children to cherish forever, come and discover the magic and mystery of Africa together, as a family.


Kids love the thrill and excitement of a guided Safari walk.

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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 Presents: Gorilla Trekking Fri, 28 Feb 2014 07:20:49 +0000 At the pinnacle of many African safari wishlists is a trek to visit the majestic mountain gorilla – an endangered species, with less than 800 remaining in the world. Tracking these gentle giants in Rwanda is a fantastic experience – hiking deep into the rain forest on steep mountainsides, a fair level of fitness and health is required to venture into such jungles. Rwanda gorilla tours are deeply moving and offer fascinating insight into our primate cousins that are sure to leave a lasting impression.  This is an exclusive experience that is carefully monitored, with only a few permits issued per day!

Watch the video below, and if you’d like gorilla trekking to be the highlight of your next African Safari then contact us to make it happen!

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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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Born Wild: The First Days of a Lion Cubs Life Wed, 22 Jan 2014 09:26:13 +0000 The popular PBS Series Born Wild: The First Days of Life looks at how the first few hours and days of a wild animals life are often their most taxing and developmental. From harsh elements and the threat of predators to (sometimes) lethal sibling rivalry and starvation, it’s not easy out there for the cute and cuddly.

In this episode the crew documents the first few days of a group of lions cubs and their introduction to the pride after their initial isolated nursing period with their mother. During this introduction, male lions often kills cubs they do not recognise as being from their bloodline whilst older siblings give them a torrid initiation. No wonder lions are so tough…

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