5 reasons why you should visit Africa

We asked Kylan, our Custom Travel Advisor and Africa Specialist, 5 reasons why you should visit Africa:

  1. The wildlife – from the great wildebeest migration in Kenya/Tanzania, the Gorillas in Uganda/ Rwanda to the wild and diverse areas of Southern Africa. We see the animals on TV, in magazines and zoos but nothing is like seeing them in the wild and observing how they interact. Truly magical!
  • The people – diverse cultures throughout the continent – from the Masai Warriors, the Kalahari Bushman, to the tribes of Ethiopia. The guides, the camp staff, the locals you meet in the markets, are friends you will make, perhaps even for life if you decide to give your email. Guests returning from their safari often say, “you go to Africa to see the animals, but leave remembering the people” and I could not agree more.
  • UNESCO Heritage Sites – some of highlights you will find in Africa include Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe/Zambia, Okavango Delta in Botswana, Pyramids in Egypt, Rock-Hewn Churches in Ethiopia, plus many more. The continent is massive with an abundance of highlights to include in an itinerary.
  • The beaches – beautiful sandy beaches set on the Indian Ocean make for an excellent way to end a safari. Zanzibar & Mozambique are the most popular places but if you are looking for the ultimate luxury, the Seychelles should be considered with their stunning islands covered in white sand. If you are more of City folk, Cape Town & the Garden route are also nice beach/coastal getaways. 
  • The weather – the weather is fantastic throughout the continent. I would advise avoiding the rainy season not due to being cold but because it becomes harder to get around, especially on a safari.

If Africa is on your bucket list, let us help you create your dream holidays!

Civilized Adventures – Building forests in Madagascar

They are a group of 41 women, belonging to a cooperative called Tontolo Maitso in a small, Madagascar community in Ankarafantsika National Park, in the NW of the country. The group of women have been hard at work, cultivating the seedlings. Every day, members of the group tend to the plants. They water them, and check to ensure there is sufficient light, and enough space to grow. The seedlings look green and lush now—healthy—and it’s no wonder: the women in the cooperative are experts, having worked on this project for the past year. Soon, the women know, these plants will be ready for transport.

This is not your ordinary gardening project. These seedlings consist of trees, many that are native to Madagascar, which will provide habitat to the unique wildlife in the country, the endangered lemurs and birds only found in Madagascar and nowhere else on Earth. The women are working as part of a forest regeneration project run by Planet Madagascar, a Canadian non-profit organization. Thanks to generous support from Civilized Adventures, Planet Madagascar and the women’s cooperative have grown 10,000 new seedlings this past year. Once transported and replanted, 6,000 of the trees will become part of a self-sustaining 75-hectare corridor of forest.

The corridor connects two forest fragments where lemurs and other endangered species are known to range. By connecting the fragments, the amount of habitat that is available for the wildlife to range will increase.

Madagascar is a global conservation priority because it has lost a great deal of forest cover—approximately 44% between 1953 and 2014—and, as a result, the wildlife that relies on these forests are highly endangered. Researchers estimate that 95% of lemurs are threatened with extinction, making them the most endangered group of animals on the planet. It is crucial to address habitat loss and fragmentation. But the problem is complex. People in Madagascar are some of the poorest in the world, living on less than two dollars a day in many places. Habitat loss in the country is related to small-scale farming, charcoal production, and cattle grazing. It is therefore critical to consider the needs of the people and ensure that local members of the community feel ownership over the project. That’s why when Civilized Adventures donated the 10,000 trees, they made sure that while 6,000 seedlings would be planted in the corridor, the remaining 4,000 trees would be planted around the community to the benefit of the people.

“This is a long-term project, but we are making exciting progress toward our goal,” says Travis Steffens, Executive Director of Planet Madagascar. “The 10,000 trees donated by Civilized Adventures will make a huge impact, not just for the lemurs but also for the people living in this region.”

 

Canoeing down the Zambezi

After spending time on the river boat seeing the many hippos and crocs, we were ready to canoe down the Zambezi. The lead up is nerve-wracking as the intensive safety briefing goes over the things that can go very wrong. Hippo flipping a canoe, crocs getting you, hitting a hidden tree stump…Anyways lots of things to get your adrenaline up.

Once we got in the canoes though I felt fairly relieved as our guide leading the trip had canoed the river over 2500 times over the past 20 years. We would not encounter any hippos but we knew they were around. After 6km of paddling, we would stop to watch the stunning sunset while sipping on a cold gin and tonic with a hippo family nearby. A very enjoyable experience.

Heading to Sapi Springs

Today we headed inland where we had the opportunity to experience a different area. Located away from the river looking on a spring, the camp is small and intimate with only 3 rooms. The beds are on the roof, only covered by a net, making for a very unique stay and a very neat experience as you look up at the stars while falling asleep, listening to the hyenas calling.

Meals at the camp were cooked over the bush fire, including margarita pizza which was fantastic! The eggs benedict was a treat as well.

Walking the Sapi River we stopped to play sausage throw, which you win by getting the sausage from the sausage tree closest to the target. Several rounds later, it came down to Alex and I in the championship playoffs.

Chikwenya

After a quick 15min flight I would land in a place called Chikwenya…a legendary safari area that has been revitalized after a 15-year hiatus. The area is known for its exceptional wildlife thanks to a natural floodplain and its location on the river. On a private concession, the area is exclusive to the camp giving you your own private safari.

After some time at Chikwenya, I would meet 5 other agents from around the world to experience the newly opened Great Plains camps Sapi Explores and Sapi Springs Camps. Our guide for the trip was Humphrey Gumbo… a legend in the Zimbabwe guiding industry as he is one of the youngest to get his guiding licence and is known as one of the top guides in Zimbabwe.

The journey would start with a history lesson on the area including some of the Baobab trees (my favorite) which are estimated to be over 1500 years old. Some say the gods planted the tree upside down as the branches look like a bunch of roots. One of the trees we saw had pots said to hold the remains of Chief Chikweyna (who was a lady). After passing by the baobabs, we headed for the river where we enjoyed a cold gin and tonic taking in the classic African sunset. We drove back to camp using a spotlight to try and spot animals. The light gives a reflection (similar to red eye in photos) of the animal’s eyes. We would see a small serval cat and an unidentified snake slither across the road. On arrival to camp, it was magical with oil lamps lighting up the paths and the staff singing a welcome song. The sky was stunning with millions of stars and the only thing lighting up the camp was lanterns. For dinner, the chef was preparing a beautiful meal using only traditional cooking methods – fire! We would have full chickens cooked in the ground. A fine meal paired with fine South African wines followed by a delicious desert.

Arriving in Zimbabwe

After 36 hours, 21 hours which were flying (4 different flights) I would land in Mana Pools. I spent 1 night at the beautiful Ruckomechi Camp located on the Zambezi River. Almost immediately, on our way from the airstrip to camp, I was rewarded with my first lion sighting of the trip. A female lion was resting, as lions do, with a full belly. The guides figured she’d just feasted on an impala. Even with my little to no sleep I was excited to be back in the bush! Once at camp, I would enjoy an ice-cold beer taking in the sunset.

Kylan’s Off to Zimbabwe!

Mana Pools is located in the northern part of Zimbabwe on the Zambezi River, it has been highly talked about as one of the best wildlife areas in the world in terms of both numbers and how WILD it truly is. Due to intense training programs and the diversity of activities offered in Zimbabwe – game drives, true walking safaris, canoeing and river boating – many of the best guides in Africa are from this incredible country. The area of Mana Pools I will be exploring is so wildlife rich in fact that Mugabe (past President) had reserved the area for himself. It is special due to its remoteness and plains as well as a natural spring that attracts wildlife. The area has recently welcomed 4 new camps that I will be inspecting.

After Mana Pools I’ll head to Victoria Falls for a couple of days, before spending 5 days in the beautiful Cape Town where I’ll meet with our local partners and lodge owners/operators from all over Africa.

Ol Pejeta Conservancy

Ol Pejeta Conservancy – 90,000 acre private wildlife conservancy in Kenya’s Laikipia district with Mount Kenya in the background.  We were fortunate to be able to do a chimpanzee “behind the scenes” at their Chimp Sanctuary set up by Jane Goodall as a method of saving several Chimps that had been in captivity, as well as a special Rhino Encounter with the endangered white rhinos.

The Chimp sanctuary was established between Kenya Wildlife Service and the Jane Goodall Institute to provide refuge to orphaned and abused chimpanzees from West and Central Africa.  They now have 39 chimps that have been nursed back to health in 2 different family groups, each with very large territories of natural enclosures separated by the Ewaso Nyiro River.

After the Rhino Encounter we joined Zachary, one of their long time caregivers, for an educational visit to the rhino burial site for a somber look at where about 13 sites are marked for rhinos that either died of natural causes (such as Sudan) and sadly many others who died from poachers.  However, Ol Pejeta is doing a fantastic job with their anti-poaching and conservation efforts. They have grown their rhino population significantly and have kept their ecosystem intact with a wide variety of game.

Kenyan Arrival & Eating Stone Orphanage

Once I arrived in Nairobi, I met our partners Liz, Tenai, Geoff, and Albert.  We went out for a visit to the orphanage we help support, Eating Stone.  The kids are well fed, clothed, and are going to school – they are doing great work there.  We were impressed to hear the children’s little stories of what they would like to be when they grow up – we had some aspiring to be Doctors, Engineers, Pilots – the sky is the limit!  Next project will be to help them get access to a soccer field and some game type activities to keep them active and engaged.

Leaving Tanzania, off to Kenya!

Travelling through Tanzania with Lemala Safaris was the very best way to experience this wonderful and diverse country!  The Serengeti is aptly named, as it means “endless plains” which we certainly felt.  Miles and miles of vast tracks of land. I was able to experience top camps in wildlife rich areas and also get some excellent cultural experiences.  It was everything and more that I could hope for.  From Tarangire to Ngorongoro to Northern Serengeti – I got just a small taste of what Tanzania has to offer.