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Maseke Game Reserve is a destination waiting to be explored. The reserve offers its visitors an exclusive safari experience in a landscape that can best be described as safari Nirvana. A variety of habitats and geological wonders means an array of wildlife dwell in harmony in this pristine reserve.

Tel : 021 712 5284/85 | Email :




TURNING A TRIP INTO AN ADVENTURE The desert extends in its unending expanse and before your very eyes you can see a small herd of animals passing by in the distance. These are oryx antelopes that are now slowly moving on in the evening sun after resting all day long in the shade of the acacia trees. The CL Companion binoculars from SWAROVSKI OPTIK, always ready to hand, let you take in every amazing detail of these graceful animals, from the markings on their fur to their striking horns. Their excellent optics and compact design make these binoculars the perfect companion for observing such unique, unforgettable sights. With SWAROVSKI OPTIK the world belongs to those who can see beauty.


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DEPARTMENTS 6 What’s online now 8 Editor’s letter 10 Contributors 168 Parting shot

INDABA Meet your fellow readers 13 First impression 14 Perspective 17 Favourite place 18 Characters 20 Numbers game 23 Graham Boynton 24 Letter from Africa 26 Art 28 Food & drink 31 Technology 32 Journal 36 Book Club

CONSERVATION Looking after nature 129 Tusk Conservation Awards winners 130 AWF projects 132 Wildfile: whales and dolphins 136 The rhino horn trade

SAFARI How to plan your trip 151 Peace of Africa 152 Accommodation news 154 Travel news 156 Ask the trade 158 Essential guide to Kenya’s lakes 164 Health and safety 168 Parting shot

HOUSEKEEPING 110 Subscribe 166 Safari Planner advertiser index: your quick way to find reliable companies to travel with


EYE ON YOU: Enigmatic and obscure, the shoebill occurs in only a handful of remote, difficult to reach places, such as the Bangweulu Wetlands in Zambia


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa










Caught on camera From bats to dabchicks, here is our pick of the most captivating winning shots from Nature’s Best Photography Africa Awards 2017

Why you should visit Zimbabwe now Our publisher urges readers to visit his homeland sooner rather than later in the wake of the political changes there



Keeping track of cheetah Nick Dall sets out on foot in Mountain Zebra National Park to search for the world’s fastest feline, and learn about its behaviour and interaction with its distant cousin, the lion

Walking the Zambezi Chaz Powell’s ambition was to walk the length of the Zambezi in a single trip. He tells Olivia Rook all about it


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ON THE APP Read Travel Africa on your iPad, iPhone, Android, Kindle Fire or other mobile device, and you can carry your back issues with you on safari. The Travel Africa app is free to download from your App Store or, with in-app purchases for single copies or subscriptions available. We regret we are currently unable to link the print and app subscriptions, so a separate purchase is required.

Travelling on a budget On the hunt for a more affordable option in this notoriously expensive wildlife destination, Sarah Gilbert joins a group mobile camping safari

70 NAMIBIA 48 hours in Windhoek Resident Annabelle Venter gets under the skin of the Namibian capital, exploring its architecture, gardens, museums, restaurants, cafés, bars and shops

111 ACCOMMODATION Unusual places to stay Lodges have their own appeal — but they’re not the only option. Here is our list of some of Africa’s most unconventional boltholes

124 UNEXPLORED AFRICA Sweet Sierra Leone Given its history, this West African country might not be on everybody’s bucket list. But when Sue Watt travels there, she discovers potential and optimism


10 top spots for birders For a small country, Malawi harbours some impressive avian riches. Dominic Couzens reveals the best places to go

Back to Ikland Mark Eveleigh treks into the highland home of the mysterious Ik tribe and discovers the truth about the community that was once portrayed as the world’s nastiest people



A wildlife lover’s guide From bat swarms and birding bonanzas to leopard encounters and little-known migrations, William Gray presents Zambia’s most spine-tingling experiences

Exploding the myth Trevor Jenner reveals why we should reconsider our misconceptions about this land of astonishing natural beauty, ethnic diversity and cultural riches


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Travel Africa | January-March 2018


EXPLORE THE URBAN JUNGLE We are constantly inundated with amazing stories that we simply can’t fit into a quarterly print magazine. So last year we launched Travel Africa Extra, a monthly online minimagazine packed with exciting articles, image galleries, interviews, blogs and opinion columns. Subscribe to our mailing list on to receive Travel Africa Extra in your inbox at the end of every month.

HIDDEN ISLANDS Africa is full of undiscovered treasures. For seven months, Tracy Grant lived in the majestic Cape Verde, an archipelago with a rich history, to dig up its salty secrets.

Mike Brogden explains how to make the most of the ‘urban’ aspect of the tourism market, encouraging visitors to spend time meeting the local people and understanding their culture, as well as going on safari.

THE GATES ARE OPEN After the resignation of Robert Mugabe, there is no better time to visit Zimbabwe. E-magazine Travel Zimbabwe has comprehensive coverage of the country, with plenty of ideas and advice for your trip. Visit

STEREOTYPE SMASHING We list 10 facts about hyenas that prove they are more complex than cackling sidekicks and are deft problem solvers, finding solutions to life in the wild or when coming face-to-face with humans.

THE SOUNDS OF AFRICA A first-time journey to Africa can cause sensory overload. We discuss how to listen to the wilderness by allowing the sounds of the animal calls and the rain wash over you. Visit


To share stories and gain access to unseen images, updates and fun facts, join Travel Africa‘s online community by following us on Facebook (, Twitter ( @TravelAfricamag) or Instagram ( @travelafricamagazine).


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa




Taking responsibility “It is one world. And it’s in our care. For the first time in the history of humanity, for the first time in 500 million years, one species has the future in the palm of its hands. I just hope he realises that that is the case.” These are the cautionary words of my icon, Sir David Attenborough, whose spectacular and thought-provoking documentary, Blue Planet II, had many of us transfixed on Sunday evenings towards the end of 2017. The series intrigued me because most conservation discussions seem to focus on the big terranean mammals, such as lion, leopard, rhino and elephant; yet the oceans are crucial to our very existence and survival. It made me ponder the mysterious underwater universe, the impact we humans are having on it and the importance of protecting it. Just looking around the supermarket makes you realise the ludicrous amount of plastic and polystyrene we use in our everyday lives. And despite our efforts to recycle efficiently, a shocking amount ultimately ends up polluting our seas. And, as Attenborough says, “[This] has catastrophic effects.” One distressing example of the tragedies we are continually causing came in the final episode, when viewers were shown the contents of a baby albatross’s stomach — a poignant heap of rubbish. More than eight million tonnes of plastic, reportedly, reach the deep blue every year; and it is lethal to birds, fish and mammals who gobble it up believing it to be edible. It is choking our oceans and we urgently need to change our ways before it’s too late. With this in mind, in this edition we have included a story on marine life: gain an insight into the behaviour and adaptations of whales and dolphins on page 132. And of course, there’s plenty more to pique your interest — from a wildlife lover’s guide to Zambia (page 84) to tracking cheetah in South Africa (page 52). Moreover, following the leadership change in Zimbabwe, we consider why you should visit in 2018. It’s a new year and time for a fresh start. So read on and then book your next trip to this amazing continent — a brilliant way to play your part in the protection of our precious planet. As Attenborough said, “Every single one of us has a responsibility for our [Earth].” Happy New Year! LAURA GRIFFITH-JONES EDITOR BUDGET BOTSWANA | THE IK FACTOR | WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT ZIMBABWE NOW

ON THE COVER A cheetah cub, photographed by Michael Poliza TRACKING


PLUS Wildlife lover’s guide to Zambia | Secret Sierra Leone | Unusual places to stay Kenya’s great lakes | Birding in Malawi | 48 hours in Windhoek


FOOTNOTE Recognising the vulnerability of the cheetah and the importance of protecting it, a cheetah’s footprint appears at the end of every feature.

January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

Travel Africa is published quarterly by: Gecko Publishing Ltd 13 Kelly’s Road, Wheatley, Oxford OX33 1NT, United Kingdom (ISSN 2046-133X) @Travelafricamag travelafricamagazine Publisher Managing director Editor Designers Customer services Accounts

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CONTRIBUTORS Henry Bevan, Graham Boynton, Philip Briggs, Stuart Butler, Dominic Couzens, Jack Andrew Cribb, Nick Dall, Mark Eveleigh, Will Gray, Sarah Gilbert, Brian Jackman, Trevor Jenner, Olivia Rook, Richard Trillo, Mike Unwin, Annabelle Venter, Sue Watt, Ben West CONTACT US Tel +44 (0)1844 278883 Editorial Advertising Subscriptions

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Mark Eveleigh

Uganda, page 138 “I first fell in love with beautiful Kidepo Valley National Park during a month-long safari, mapping Uganda’s national parks as a volunteer. The 13-hour drive to the northern frontier reminded me that travel here is always an adventure; this wild reserve is worth every minute of the trip.” Mark has written 700 travel features for titles that include BBC Wildlife, BBC Earth, Geographical and National Geographic Traveller. 4


Sarah Gilbert

Botswana, page 62 “Part of the beauty of a mobile camping safari is being at one with the bush and — quite literally — on the same level as the wildlife. Watching a pack of hunting wild dogs racing through the campsite at breakfast, lunching with elephant and dining with lion were all unforgettable experiences.” Sarah contributes to a variety of publications, including Wanderlust, Geographical, BBC Wildlife and Travel Africa.

Nick Dall

South Africa, page 52 “Mountain Zebra Park is in the heart of Schreiner country. Once, I was treated to a moonrise torn straight from the pages of The Story of an African Farm. ‘The dry, sandy earth, with its coating of stunted karoo bushes...the milkbushes with their long finger-like leaves, all were touched by a weird and an almost oppressive beauty as they lay in the white light.’” Nick is a writer based in Cape Town. His work has been published all over the world. 5

William Gray

Zambia, page 84 “Sometimes you don’t even have to leave your tent for an intimate encounter with Zambia’s wildlife. I’ll never forget the time in Lower Zambezi National Park when an elephant dangled its trunk into my open-air en suite to drink from the toilet. Thankfully, I wasn’t using it at the time…” Will is the author of Footprint’s Wildlife Travel and the Globetrotter Guide to Zambia, and has written for numerous publications.


Annabelle Venter

Namibia, page 70 “Always searching for beautiful images and stories, I once drove 420km south, on good advice, to photograph the annual lily spectacle near Maltahöhe. I arrived at sunset to find 800 hectares of crisp, drying lilies. Timing is everything and flower photography in Namibia is not for sissies!” Annabelle celebrates the beauty of southern Africa in words, photographs and ceramics. She‘s a regular contributor to Travel News Namibia. 6

Dominic Couzens

Malawi, page 78 “I was hoping for a good night’s sleep on my last evening in Malawi. Not a chance — that night at Liwonde, there was a huge thunderstorm. Once that had finished, an elephant decided to thrash about in the bush beside my cabin. Next, the hippo started a dispute on the nearby Shire River. And then the dawn chorus began...” Dominic is a writer and tour leader. He has penned books on birding and articles in Birdwatching and BBC Wildlife.

CONTRIBUTE TO TRAVEL AFRICA We welcome contributions from new writers and photographers. We have even created specific sections to enable readers to share their advice, and offer opportunities to run additional content on our website and through our app. Please email us at


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa




The ideal

Botswana safari circuit Established in 1982, the Desert & Delta Safaris portfolio of iconic safari lodges offers the perfect circuit through world famous national parks, renowned wildlife-rich private concessions and historic community areas, ensuring a fully-immersive luxury Botswana safari. Here are the highlights of an all-encompassing safari with Desert & Delta Safaris





On the western edge of the Makgadikgadi Pans NP, the Boteti River provides a lifeline for thousands of zebra and wildebeest which migrate here in the dry months. Along with the annual migration and exceptional wildlife encounters, a visit to Leroo La Tau offers the chance to engage with Botswana culture on a visit to the nearby Khumaga Village.






The Chobe National Park is home to the largest concentration of elephants in Africa and is one of the continent’s leading wildlife destinations. The famous Chobe River, forming the park’s northern boundary, provides a permanent source of water for the region’s wildlife. Experience the diversity of the Chobe River from a boat or go in search of wildlife on a guided vehicle safari. Cultural visits to the nearby communities offer a taste of life in Botswana.

Established in 1963, the Moremi Game Reserve was the first sanctuary in Southern Africa to be set aside by a local community. Today it is recognised as one of Africa’s finest reserves. Its location within the Okavango Delta wetland results in a rich diversity of natural landscapes and exceptional wildlife encounters.




A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Okavango Delta is one of the largest and most important inland wetlands of the world, supporting a rich diversity of fauna and flora. Immerse yourself in the wonders of the Delta on traditional mokoro safaris, motorised boat excursions and guided bush walks on the many islands within the wetland.



Owing to the unpredictable nature of the Savute Channel and the high concentrations of wildlife which inhabit the area, the Savute Region 3 of the Chobe National Park is arguably one of Botswana’s most sought-after safari destinations. Known as the ‘Savage Kingdom’, Savute is renowned for its exceptional predator interactions due to the large prides of lion which have dominated the region for decades.

Desert & Delta Safaris operate eight premier lodges in the Okavango Delta, Moremi Game Reserve, Chobe National Park and Makgadikgadi Pans National Park — the best safari circuit in Botswana Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @desertdelta or visit 12

January-March 2018 | Travel Africa


10 marathons around Africa to add on to your safari Page 20 CHRIS PARKES

After dark


At night, under a sky seething with stars, game drives take on a different dimension. The air is cooler, enhancing the scent of wild herbs crushed under the wheels, and the stable-yard whiff of elephant dung. Even the soundtrack changes as the night-watch take over, the eerie voices of spotted hyenas adding a sinister counterpoint to the nocturnal chorus of owls and crickets. It’s time for the guide to switch on the spotlight, sweeping a world of fathomless darkness in search of eyes that shine like jewels. Night game driving is a lucky dip in which you never know what you might find: genets, bush babies, aardvarks, porcupines. Or perhaps the prince of darkness himself: a male leopard on the prowl. BRIAN JACKMAN

Travel Africa | January-March 2018





New World Heritage Sites Earth is incredibly diverse, both in terms of cultural and environmental marvels. There are hundreds of different, complex and beautiful places that contribute to the rich tapestry of natural and human history — and Africa is no different. Indeed, the continent has no fewer than 135 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with others whose status is currently pending. Here are some of the most recent and most interesting additions to this important list. JACK ANDREW CRIBB


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa





ABOVE: The River Bou Regreg seafront and Kasbah des Oudaias in Rabat, the Moroccan capital. BELOW RIGHT: A lesser flamingo, common in Kenya’s Lake System



A WARM WELCOME TO BOTSWANA & ZIMBABWE Machaba Safaris presents four luxury safari camps, bringing you the best the Okavango Delta and Zimbabwe has to offer. Machaba and Little Machaba Camps are situated in the Khwai Concession on the Khwai river, bordering the Moremi Game Reserve. Gomoti Plains Camp is located further south into the Okavango Delta, on the edges of the Gomoti ood-plain system. Our newest addition to the portfolio, Verney’s Camp, is situated in Hwange National Park, a beautiful piece of unspoilt wilderness. A safari combining these areas provides one with a complete safari experience.

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Visit the

Gerewol Festival The Gerewol Festival is a beauty pageant with a refreshing twist: the men do the impressing and the women pick the winners. Earning the approval of a woman offers an array of rewards, whether it is a lover, wife or a single night of passion. It is possibly Africa’s most spectacular tribal festival.


symmetry. Black kohl is a favourite hue, as it helps emphasise the eyes and teeth. Each year, at the end of the rainy season in Depending on the clan, the men drape September, thousands of Wodaabe — a subthemselves in traditional and ceremonial group of the nomadic Fulani people — gather to dress, consisting of bejewelled tunics, braids participate in the Gerewol Festival at a location of cowrie shells, white armlets made from that is only revealed days before. This is the goats’ beards, soft leather wraps or skirts and most important date in the Wodaabe calendar, sparkling crowns. Towering ostrich plumes where clans and families congregate for a and woollen tassels may be placed onto of week-long get-together of socialising, dancing, their headdress to accentuate their height. courtship, horse races, trade... and courtship. At its heart is the male beauty pageant. The Wodaabe are unashamedly vain. Tall, MUSIC & DANCE slim, white teeth, white eyes, long and an There are many dances which occur aquiline nose are considered desirable traits in circular formations that spring up by Wodaabe women. Young men are up at spontaneously, but the Yaake is the dance that daybreak, armed with pocket mirrors, with every man wants to excel in; he who is chosen family members helping to ensure they are as the most attractive in the Yaake will not fall perfectly groomed. short of female admirers. This involves a lengthy process of shaving To achieve this, the men must dance and hairlines, plaiting hair, coating their faces with sing in a long line, arms interlinked, swaying red ochre, crushed chalk, clay and moving to the rhythm, eyes wide open in and burned bones, and daubing on lines and HOW TO white dots in floral ATTEND formations to For a rare and extraordinary cultural experience, visit the accentuate facial

mock surprise while chattering “va va va va va” continuously at lightning speed, baring their sparkling white teeth. To master the Yaake, the dancers must strive to emulate the grace, elegance and movements of the longlegged white cattle egret. Lasting hours under the hot sun, this can be brutal, although some of the men have an ancient trick up their sleeve: some will drink a fermented bark concoction which has been rumoured to have a hallucinogenic effect and enable them to dance for hours on end.

THE JUDGES The Yaake is performed in front of thousands of Woodabe clan members, but the most important are the young marriageable women, who huddle in graceful poises in the crowd, keeping a discerning and enthusiastic eye on their subjects. Three of the most beautiful women are chosen to select the most attractive males. Each chooses her champion by walking slowly along the line of dancers and swiftly pointing to them. Winning the Yaake will enhance the man’s sexual and social status, respect and a pick of all the women.Some of the women may already have a husband. Every Wodaabe girl has an arranged marriage, but there is always the possibility of a second one. A married woman can choose to be ‘stolen’, leaving her husband behind. There is no stigma attached to setting one’s marriage aside at the Gerewol Festival, temporarily or permanently.

Gerewol Festival in Chad in September 2018 with Origins Safaris. For more info and to watch a video, follow the link at

Origins Safaris – Authentic African experiences since 1963 16

January-March 2018 | Travel Africa



The Busanga Plains, Kafue National Park, Zambia “As I grew up in Zambia, the Kafue will always have a special place in my heart. The sense of wilderness here is remarkable: it is wonderfully hard to get to, the vistas are endless, the wildlife unique. In the northern Busanga Plains, the elephant are very wild, the black-maned lion magnificent, and the occasional cheetah so special to see. My memories are of the vast starlight skies, cold mornings and the smell of potato bush, but most of all the vision of countless lechwe appearing from the mist at sunrise. The Busanga is truly untamed and a photographer’s dream.” GILES TROTTER IS AN EXPERIENCED TOUR OPERATOR AND A FOUNDING PARTNER OF TIMBUKTU TRAVEL.

To read more about Zambia’s wildlife highlights, including the Busanga Plains, turn to page 84.

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



Meeting the challenge head on


hile Kenya is still the secondbiggest destination in sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa, tourism here has been a roller-coaster over the past decade. Bad PR — from drought and grazing incursions in Laikipia to polling chaos at the elections — continues to batter its reputation, and there are currently no charter flights from the UK. Dr Betty Radier, however, is relentlessly upbeat. Name-checked as one of only three movers and shakers in Kenya who truly ‘gets’ tourism, she happily accepts the compliment and ascribes it to her long background in advertising: “Tourism in Kenya is about marketing the destination. I’m not a government person, I break all the protocols. I need to build the equity of our brand.” After university, Radier worked at Ogilvy & Mather and a series of other big ad agencies. She moved on to Microsoft and then Samsung to work in operations around Africa, where she began to appreciate the potential of what Kenya had to offer. She moved back into advertising before the government came calling. Pressed on her own favourite places in Kenya, and on where Kenya’s tourism potential truly lies, she says: “Unfortunately, I like comfort!” She is a big fan of the conservancies, mentioning Lewa, and the remote luxury lodge on Rusinga Island in Lake Victoria. I ask her where she is going next. Laikipia and western Kenya for starters. Ruma National Park, near Lake Victoria, is under-visited, she says, and there’s great birding in the area, but a paucity of hotels so far.


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

Despite her corporate marketing background, you sense Radier won’t be happy to sell Kenya in the traditional way: “Please don’t give me a dead cat to swing at a client,” she jokes. “Just give me a good product and I’ll do my job. I can see the potential, and I can see the challenges. This industry has not yet reinvented itself. Consumers have changed. They want options; they want flexibility. They want to book an adventure today and change it tomorrow. They will discover the route you didn’t take them. And we’re trying to capture that.” She cites a new zip-line experience north-west of Nairobi and a population of white crocodiles in the Rift Valley. These ideas are being promoted on social media by the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) as #TembeaKenya, a campaign aimed at encouraging Kenyans to explore (‘tembea’ in Swahili) their own backyard. To address the international market, the KTB has a major thematic marketing campaign planned, using “incredible locations, set up with the proper light, with an incredible director”. In parallel, it’ll run a digital campaign driven by the offbeat nature of #TembeaKenya. “That one’s about you and me and the experiences we have, with photos and videos on social media.” Of the two programmes, she claims, “we’re finding the less stage-managed, more adventurous route is preferred.” Radier, whose parents came from Kisumu, grew up in Nairobi, going to the elite Kianda School for girls, and the University of Nairobi where she


Kenya is one of Africa’s foremost destinations, yet it faces big challenges. Richard Trillo talks to Dr Betty Radier, the new Chief Executive of Kenya Tourism, to find out more

Consumers have changed. They want options; they want flexibility. They want to book an adventure today and change it tomorrow. They will discover the route you didn’t take them. And we are trying to capture that

completed a Master’s Degree before doing her PhD at the Graduate School of Business in Cape Town, publishing a thesis on Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development. I ask her how she would differentiate Kenya from other countries for the potential visitor. She talks about its “unstaged safaris” and the cultural contrast between the Swahili people of Lamu and the pastoralists of the Masai Mara. She is a great champion for Nairobi: “Nairobi National Park really does feel like the Mara.” The capital’s burgeoning artistic and culinary culture, ranging from craft centres to an increasingly good nightlife, are also big draws. How does she plan to lure the charter flight operators back to Mombasa, the hub for the coast and its hundreds of under-occupied hotels? “That’s a difficult one,” she says. “It has been hit the most in terms of quality and value. We think we might have to build a new city.” In the current climate, a massive infrastructure project like that seems extremely ambitious. But there is a plan that might help: “We would love to work with Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania to allow charter operators to have several destinations, and to boost the attraction of the region as a whole.” Working with Tanzania would be a game changer. Potential visitors to East Africa are befuddled by the difficulty of combining the two countries. But Radier has plenty on her plate at home in Kenya. Abolishing visa fees (currently US$59) would be a good start, as would bringing the country’s neglected Masai Mara and Samburu national reserves under the responsible management of conservation trusts. Tourism in Kenya will surely survive the political fallout from the controversial re-run of its presidential elections in 2017. With Betty Radier as eloquent champion of its enduring rewards, visitors have plenty to look forward to.

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RUNNING WILD Athletes and amateurs alike are helping to save the environment and support local communities by taking part in marathons around the continent. Henry Bevan gives us the lowdown on 10 physical contests to tackle on your next African adventure 1 MALAWI IMPACT MARATHON 21-27 May 2018, Lake Malawi, Malawi Based on the shores of the serene Lake of Stars, this marathon is a great example of the positive impact that these events can have on the environment and the community. Participants are able to witness where their fundraising goes and spend a week living with the locals, volunteering at projects and relaxing at night. This is not about winning; it’s about forming bonds with the fellow racers and the people of Malawi. Distances Full marathon (42km); halfmarathon (21km); and 10km.

2 KILIMANJARO MARATHON 4 March 2018, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania Unlike the other races on this list, the Kilimanjaro Marathon is about having a party. Local bands play alongside the starting line and crowds of locals cheer the runners on. Many of Africa’s best athletes take part, and under the shadow of the famous mountain, participants can counteract their carbon footprint by donating money to Carbon Tanzania. Once across the finish line, most celebrate by cracking open a cold one. Distances Full marathon (42km); half-marathon (21km); 10km wheelchair and hand cycle; and a fun run (approximately 5km).


3 VICTORIA FALLS MARATHON 1 July 2018, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe The spectacular Victoria Falls is the setting for this marathon. Runners race between Zimbabwe and Zambia, crossing the border on the famous Victoria Falls Bridge. There is no time for a passport stamp as the course charges into the Zambezi National Park before finishing on Kazungula Road. Runners are asked to donate books, pens and anything else the local schools need. Distances Full marathon (42km); half-marathon (21km); and 7.5km.

4 UGANDA INTERNATIONAL MARATHON 3 June 2018, Masaka, Uganda The Uganda International Marathon is not kind to personal bests. A hilly course with the terrain alternating between dirt roads and sand, runners are tested and rewarded with Uganda’s best views. The money raised supports the local Masaka region, promoting the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, such as gender equality and ending poverty. Distances Full marathon (42km); halfmarathon (21km); and 10km. ARK IMAGES



9 COMRADES MARATHON 10 June 2018, KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa The oldest ultra-marathon in the world demands respect. Starting in Pietermaritzburg and finishing in Durban by way of an 89km detour, Comrades creates blisters, although this year’s contestants should consider themselves lucky — they will be running the race downhill. Through the pain, a rare camaraderie forms between those crazy enough to attempt this. Distance 89km.

22-23 September 2018, Cape Town, South Africa Taking place annually on South Africa’s Heritage Day, the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon is Africa’s only Gold Star marathon. The route also gives competitors an enviable city tour — they start and finish on the V&A Waterfront, passing monuments reflecting the mother city’s good and bad history. Distances Full marathon (42.2km); half-marathon (22km); 12km; 10km; and a fun run (4.2km).


10 SAFARICOM MARATHON TBC, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya People often run marathons for charity, but Safaricom puts its conservation and community aims front and centre. Set in the shadow of Mount Kenya, participants race across open plains past wildlife, but don’t expect it to be a jog in the park — at an altitude of 1670m, runners have to earn their funds. Distances Full marathon (42km); and halfmarathon (21km).

12 January 2018, Luxor, Egypt Legend states that until Oedipus answered a riddle correctly Luxor’s ancient cousin, Thebes, was blighted by a sphinx. Today, ancient stone sphinxes overlook the contenders in Egypt’s mothership marathon. It is a run through history as the route winds along the Valley of the Kings, past Tutankhamun’s tomb and back into Luxor’s modern metropolis. Distances Half-marathon (22.2km); 12.3km; and a fun run (5km).


7 TWO OCEANS MARATHON 30 and 31 March 2018, Cape Town, South Africa Two Oceans is one of the world’s most beautiful ultra-marathons. Set in the Cape Peninsula, the 56km circular route encapsulates both the Atlantic and Indian oceans as well as some stunning woodland scenery. For the less fit, a half-marathon and international friendship run are also available. Distances Ultra-marathon (56km); half-marathon (21km); trail run (24km and 12km); and fun runs (2.1km and 5.6km).

8 STREET CHILD SIERRA LEONE MARATHON 27 May 2018, Sierra Leone Nicknamed ‘the world’s craziest but most worthwhile marathon’, this route weaves along a dirt-road course through dense jungle. It’s tough — but supporters from the local villages spur you on with high fives and cheers. In the three days prior to the race, participants spend time helping with community projects and playing football with the locals. Tears of joy never felt so good. Distances Full marathon (42km); half-marathon (21km); 10km; and 5km.

Travel Africa | January-March 2018 2017



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Taking it to the next level Graham Boynton reports on the rise of experiential travel


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here was a time when the word ‘holiday’ meant we travelled to a foreign place, usually somewhere hot and sunny, and did not do very much at all. The accent was on reclining, eating and drinking and, if you were in Africa, staring at processions of wild animals from the comfort of a Land Rover. But that world seems to have passed into folklore. These days, we want much more out of our travel experiences — we want to be engaged and active and to take something emotionally and intellectually substantial home with us. The buzzword is ‘experiential’. This is confirmed by Chris McIntyre, founder and managing director of Expert Africa. “A decade or two ago,” he says, “our travellers were content to visit Africa and passively see what was there. Now they’re much more demanding about the experiences that we can offer them in Africa — the holy grail is ‘real’ experiences, interacting with interesting or knowledgeable locals, which aren’t scripted or rehearsed in any way.” Not surprisingly, this is being driven by a new generation of international travellers emerging from a decade of being slaves of social media, a world of instant responses, shallow shared encounters, Pinterest-inspired bucket lists and endless Instagram

boasts … all the antithesis of profound life experiences. As a result what they want now is blood and thunder and real life; learning experiences in foreign lands that enhance their understanding of real people; adventure that gets the heart racing. Naturally, the travel industry is responding to these changing needs, marketing its experiential offerings with gusto. Industry gatherings such as Pure in Morocco and We Are Africa in Cape Town are now bursting with experiential products, lectures and seminars. We Are Africa’s managing director Ryan Wallace says that in his view Africa has always been the leader in experiential and adventure travel. “But what we are seeing now is an acceleration on the demand side, so that even city hotels are increasingly expected to be an access point to a neighbourhood and facilitate more meaningful interactions with their surrounding community and elements.” As Wallace says, the lodges and safari operators have been

JOIN THE DISCUSSION Please tell us your thoughts on this subject at or email editor@

While the main draw to Africa remains the wilderness and wild animals, experiential travellers now want to learn about the extraordinary biological cauldron that is the bushveld

providing powerful experiences for a long time, “but demand is shifting towards more active experiences that enrich and transform and to journeys infused with greater purpose such as boosting conservation”. So, while the main draw to Africa remains the wilderness and wild animals, experiential travellers now want to learn about the extraordinary biological cauldron that is the bushveld, to understand the threats posed by population growth and international criminal gangs, and to engage with the longoverlooked rural communities that live with the wild animals. It is not widely known that in many African countries, more than 70 per cent of wildlife lives outside the national parks and is thus in constant conflict with rural communities. At last, more adventurous international travellers are coming to recognise this, and through this recognition, the travel industry may yet become a major contributor to the salvation of Africa’s wildlife. About time.

GRAHAM BOYNTON has written for numerous newspapers and magazines, including Vanity Fair, Esquire and Condé Nast Traveller, and was the travel editor of The Daily and Sunday Telegraph between 1998 and 2012. The views expressed in this column are his own.

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



Africa’s answer to Pompeii Stuart Butler reflects on his journey in Algeria to visit some of the finest but least-known Roman sites in existence I’m sure that many of you will know what I’m talking about when I say that I can still recall the wonder I felt as a child when first hearing about the Roman town of Pompeii and how it was famously buried under volcanic ash clouds. Even back then, it was a place that I longed to visit one day. In my case it took many years until that chance came, but finally, early last autumn, as the first wisps of winter wrapped around southern Italy, I found myself in Pompeii. And yet, after all those years of waiting, Pompeii left me cold. It was just too sterile and, despite the murky winter weather, the thousands of other tourists I shared the site with gave me no chance for quiet contemplation. That evening, as I sat in a café feeling a little cheated, I started talking to another Pompeii tourist who turned out to be something of an expert on Roman sites. When I told him of my slight disappointment with Pompeii, he smiled knowingly and said simply, “Algeria. Go to northern Algeria.” And so I did. Prior to that moment, my knowledge of Algeria was next to none. Probably like you, I knew that there had been a horrific civil war there in the not-so-distant past, but I couldn’t be quite sure if this was over or not, and if the country was safe to visit. (The answers to those questions turned out to be: yes, the war is over — it finished way back

in 2002 — and yes, much of the north of the country is safe, but there are still no-go areas on most borders and one very small mountain region of the north.) One thing I certainly hadn’t known until my fellow café diner told me was that northern Algeria is home to some of the finest Roman sites in existence. A few weeks after this Pompeii tableside conversation, I found myself standing on the uppermost platform of a nearcomplete Roman amphitheatre. Streaks of snow-blanketed distant hilltops and the brooding, dark clouds carried the promise of further flurries. All around me, as far as I could see, lay broken pillars, twisted paving slabs and proud arches and columns still standing after two millennia. But what was even more remarkable about this scene was that there wasn’t a single other person here. I had the entire Roman garrison city of Timgad totally to myself. With a smile, I wondered how many people might be jostling in the rain around Pompeii at that very moment. It turned out that Timgad wasn’t even the only mesmerising Roman city in northern Algeria. Down on the coast, where a windlashed, wintery Mediterranean kicked up the waves, was Hippo Regius. Smaller than Timgad, and somehow more welcoming, here the vestiges of Rome lay

All around me, as far as I could see, lay broken pillars, twisted paving slabs and proud arches and columns still standing after two millennia. But what was even more remarkable about this scene was that there wasn’t a single other person here

scattered among meadows of yellow buttercup-like flowers, while up on the hill behind the site was a large, modern, domineering basilica dedicated to St Augustine, who had supposedly made Hippo Regius his home. But if I’d been impressed with Timgad and Hippo Regius, then my third and final stop in Algeria left me dumbfounded. Djémila, which sits in a bowl between mountain peaks, was established in the first century as a military outpost. Yet even today it was clear to see that this had been no glum and functional army camp. The word Djémila translates as ‘beautiful’. It’s a simple name, but it’s undeniably appropriate. Yes, there are grander Roman sites in Algeria, but Djémila has a grace and a mountain-meadow setting that speak of poetry. Like in Timgad and Hippo Regius, here in Djémila I walked alone with the spirits of the Roman past. Here I could sit on the stone slabs where market women once laid out vegetables and, in a silence broken only by distant birdsong and the occasional bray of a donkey, I could almost make out an echo of Latin voices and hear the stamp of legionaries marching past. Perhaps one day, when the world has come to realise that Algeria is no longer a country at war with itself, the tour buses will arrive and the ghosts of Djémila will have to move on to some quieter place, but for now take my word for it, and if a man in a Pompeii café tells you to go to Algeria, listen to him — for he speaks wise words.

HOW TO BOOK The author travelled with Expert Algeria, which can organise tours of the historic sites in the north, epic adventures in the Sahara and combinations of the two.


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa



CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: The Roman city of Djémila overlooks blue-grey mountains; a cobbled road leading to the Djémila market place; the ruins of Hippo Regius lie among meadows of wildflowers; from the amphitheatre, the Roman ruins of Timgad stretch away almost as far as you can see; a man in a café at the foot of the forgotten city

Travel Africa | January-March 2018


AFRICA AT HOME The Africa House offers many stylish products, such as this hand-painted and unique Elephant Cushion Cover created by Tribal Textiles in Zambia., £17.20


Nature’s eye DAVID FILER

The stark contrast between the graphite pencil and the white background is attention grabbing, but it is the eyes that make wildlife artist David Filer’s artwork linger. “So much of animals, or humans for that matter, so much of their personality, life, soul and being is in their eyes – that’s where the spark lies,” says Filer. His style came from many “happy accidents” and he fell in love with carving “the subject out of paper”. A variety of animals are featured in his artwork, and as he says, animals “are so much easier to deal with than people”.

Meet the designer Maria Airey spoke to Lilian K Danieli about her fashion-forward clothing line, NASHONA, which is soaked in African culture How would you describe NASHONA? NASHONA (‘I sew’ in Swahili) specialises in combining traditional African prints with modern patterns to achieve a unique style. As the slogan reads, its products are ‘made with love’.

What is the goal of the company? Our greatest aim is to get the brand into the big stores. Getting into larger shops will allow us to produce more clothing and more jobs will be created. We strive to help our communities.

Are you involved with any charitable organisations? NASHONA donates a portion of all the sales to sponsor children’s education at the Shalom Orphanage in Karatu, Tanzania.

Some of Africa’s best contemporary artworks can be found all over Cape Town between 16 and 18 February as the continent’s most revered and newest artists have their work shown in the Cape Town Art Fair.


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa



UGanDA & RwANda As a traveller you will surely need a partner. Not just any partner, but one to save you the stress of planning and organising your safari, to give you confidence for a remarkable safari, give you maximum flexibility every inch of your safari and, above all, offer you the most effective communication all the way. You need someone to give you an expert insight! At Home to Africa, those are exactly the reasons why we exist. We look upon each traveller’s request as an opportunity to prove ourselves and to show you how special we can make your safari in this region we know by heart. We pride ourselves in creating the most exquisite custom-tailored safaris. Whether you are an individual, couple, group of friends or family, we will craft an adventure to meet your expectations. No one takes more pride than we do in creating your trip of a lifetime.

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Before booking I contacted few travel agencies, I found Home to Africa were the quickest to reply and answer all queries we had. From start Mr Elias was very efficient and helpful in organising our tour. MOHAMMADB, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES TRIPADVISOR , , , , ,

We had fun every day, the safaris were diverse and so we could enjoy something new each day. In a nutshell: a good and fast-responding organisation; good, experienced tour guides; a great personal touch. FRANK, THE NETHERLANDS TRIPADVISOR






Cape Town is world-famous for its culinary scene, and the upmarket southern suburb of the Constantia Valley is no different. Laura Griffith-Jones reveals her pick of the best places to eat and drink to suit every palate and pocket



t’s easy to see why the Constantia Valley, nestled beneath Table Mountain National Park, is renowned for its food and drink. This idyllic suburb is the oldest wine-producing region in the Southern Hemisphere, home to eight award-winning wine estates: Groot Constantia, Steenberg Vineyards, Constantia Uitsig, Klein Constantia, Buitenverwachting, Eagles Nest, Constantia Glen and Silvermist Vineyards. And where there’s good wine, first-class cuisine usually follows. Whether you’re looking for fine dining or a touch of Cape Malay, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

TABLE WITH A VIEW CHEFS WAREHOUSE AT BEAU CONSTANTIA Set high on a hill on the Beau Constantia boutique wine farm, this top-notch establishment serves phenomenal food with a picturesque vista of vineyards stretching out to the city beyond. This is the sister restaurant of the popular Chefs Warehouse & Canteen on Bree Street, and chef Ivor Jones — formerly of The Test Kitchen — conjures up platefuls that are equally inspired, fresh and, most importantly, mouthwatering. Q STANDOUT DISH Coal-fired blesbok rump, with chicken liver parfait, hazelnut and red cabbage dressing. QPRICE POINT $$$


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

ASIAN TAPAS BISTRO SIXTEEN82, STEENBERG WINE ESTATE The Bistro is modern and chic, with leather seating and wine bottle walls, overlooking a pretty garden with a lush lawn, elegant water features and sculptures. It’s a good spot for lunch if you’re doing a Steenberg wine tour and tasting or for an early supper (it closes at 8pm) of innovative Asian tapas such as beef tataki. Inspired by her travels in Thailand, executive chef Kerry Kilpin’s (right) aim is to create food that is “seasonal, flavourful and which bursts with freshness”. Q STANDOUT DISH Sesame and ginger sirloin salad with tender greens, red cabbage, sprouts, chilli and soy ginger vinaigrette and aioli. QPRICE POINT $$





HIP HAUNT THE BRASSERIE, FOREST GLADE HOUSE This trendy spot, with low lighting, exposed brick walls and quirky, mismatched décor, serves simple but scrummy dishes in a laidback atmosphere. Legendary for its wood-fired pizzas, it also dishes up other good comfort food such as smoked paprika potato skins and Atlantic mussels, as well as classic puddings such as crème brûlée with a real vanilla pod. This is a good option for families as it has a designated Kiddies’ menu. Q STANDOUT DISH Grilled venison with curried carrot, pickled apricot, asparagus and jus. QPRICE POINT $$

CAPE MALAY FLAVOUR JONKERSHUIS CONSTANTIA, GROOT CONSTANTIA WINE ESTATE Located at South Africa’s oldest winery, Jonkershuis feels steeped in history. It’s a great lunch spot, particularly after a morning cellar tour or wine-and-chocolate tasting, and you can enjoy a long lunch under ancient oak trees, overlooking the acres of vines. The menu includes understated plates such as fish and chips, ravioli and

LA COLOMBE, SILVERMIST WINE ESTATE Treat your taste buds to sublime dishes at one of South Africa’s most iconic fine dining restaurants. Located on the Silvermist organic wine estate, La Colombe has spectacular views of the Constantia Valley, False Bay and Hout Bay. The man behind the ever-changing menu is chef-proprietor Scot Kirton, whose philosophy fuses clean Asian and French flavours and whose goal is to achieve perfection on every plate. Book far in advance. Q STANDOUT DISH Wagyu bone marrow, truffle, pickled fish, herbs and char siu wagyu, langoustine, corn, bisque, bok choi and kimchi. PRICE POINT $$$

roast chicken, but the focus is on the city’s Cape Malay heritage, with tasty traditional dishes such as Karoo lamb or chicken curry with local spices, fragrant basmati rice, fresh coriander, poppadums and roti. Q STANDOUT DISH Oven-baked bobotie: spiced minced beef, egg custard, sultana and almond turmeric rice and cinnamon butternut. QPRICE POINT $$

COCKTAILS & NIBBLES PEDDLARS, SPAANSCHEMAT RIVER ROAD Constantia’s landmark pub since 1993, Peddlars is a much-loved spot for a low-key dinner or drinks and light bites. The relaxed ambience makes it suitable for families, and live music is played in a fairy-lit garden, creating a fun backdrop for a plate of fried calamari or similar. There are some decadent puddings,

too, perfect washed down with a cocktail. Q STANDOUT DISH Chocolate nemesis: flourless chocolate cake, mascarpone and berries. QPRICE POINT $

MARKET DAY EARTHFAIR FOOD MARKET, TOKAI A feast for the eyes, this buzzing bazaar opens every Wednesday and Saturday in an old warehouse in Tokai. Local artisanal producers include Dr Juice, The Ice Cream Guys, Origin Coffee, Earth Tribe, Charlie’s Pickles, By Nature, Bee-licious Honey and Funky Fungi. With plenty of tasters on offer, this is a fun foodie experience.


WHERE TO STAY A great place to base yourself for your foodie tour of Constantia is the charming Glen Avon Lodge, a family-run boutique hotel with 21 very comfortable en-suite rooms, a swimming pool and pretty, rose-filled gardens. On a sun-drenched terrace, it serves a delicious breakfast of cereals, cheese and pastries, fresh fruit, yoghurt, homemade brown toast and ‘eggs however you like them’.


CREATIVE CUISINE FOXCROFT, HIGH CONSTANTIA CENTRE This new(ish) eatery is part of La Colombe trio, which immediately bodes well. In a contemporary yet cosy environment, the waiters bring out a string of beautifully presented, sensational tapas dishes such as tuna tartare with tempura avocado, miso, daikon, apple and baby gem. Coowners La Colombe’s Scot Kirton and Glen Foxcroft Williams put seasonality, quality, flavour and attention to detail at the forefront — and it shows. QSTANDOUT DISH Slow-cooked lamb with kale, nettles, whiskey mustard and mint. QPRICE POINT $$$

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



#UGNGEVEQNNGEVKQPQHVJGƂPGUV holiday homes on the Kenya coast

Boutique hotel in Constantia, Cape Town

BUCKET LIST TRIPS IN AFRICA Mountain Gorillas Kilimanjaro Wildebeest migration Mobile safaris Mountain biking Marathons and more…



January-March 2018 | Travel Africa


Scoping out the options Binoculars and telescopes can hugely enhance your safari experience as they make focusing on faraway animals easier. But which one is more useful? With the help of Swarovski Optik, Henry Bevan outlines the differences between the two, before explaining the mysterious practice of digiscoping


Telescope More serious nature watchers will find telescopes offer richer images with less portability. Telescopes cost between £250 and £3000 plus. Their objective lenses vary in size, ranging from 50mm to 95mm. Compared with binoculars, they have more variable and higher magnifications, but the quality of the telescope dictates the quality of the image. If you would like to see a lion’s eyelashes, the Swarovski STS80 (pictured right) is a good choice.

These come in all shapes and sizes, with prices ranging from £50 to £2000. They all do the same job, but are not equally effective. The top-range items are more likely to have crystal-clear images, HD glass and 100 per cent field of view for spectacle wearers. The Swarovski EL 32 (pictured left) offers a comfortable viewing experience and excellent image quality. However, for the casual observer who enjoys trekking or just sitting in their garden, a pocket binocular is ideal. For health and safety reasons, using binoculars with a magnification of more than 10x for a prolonged amount of time is not recommended.

Digiscoping This is the process of converting a telescope into a telephoto lens, which, depending on the telescope’s focal length, can be around 1400/1500mm.

How does it work? It is as simple as attaching, pointing and shooting. Photographers connect a camera or smartphone to a telescope or binoculars using a T-Ring and a special adaptor. DSLRs should use the shortest shutter time and the automatic settings on a smartphone to take the best pictures.

Isn’t it impractical? It doesn’t have to be. You can save space and take amazing photos by ditching the DSLR and telescope (pictured below) for a smartphone and binoculars (left).

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



Wilderness untamed Safari addict and conservationist Kenneth Coe has a wild time at Chad’s Zakouma National Park



pick up my satellite phone and ring my family. Our daily calls normally go off without a hitch, but now it was hard to hear them over the collective honking of more than 500 black crowned cranes. Once I had returned to Camp Nomade, I telephoned back. “What on earth was that noise?” my wife said. I have travelled to Africa more than 30 times and visited some of the best parks, but Zakouma is different. At one point, I was standing under countless redbilled queleas roosting in the forest for the night, the noise and temperature escalating past breaking point. The animals assaulted the senses as different species mingled. A herd of more than a thousand tiang (right) grazed a stone’s throw from a flock of 300 spur-winged geese, as the sunlight highlighted the birds’ deep burgundy and seagreen hues.


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

There is an astronomical amount of life at Zakouma, but once you become accustomed to being surrounded by so much wildlife you can start telling the difference between the Central and East or southern African animals. Here, the male lions lack luxuriant manes, the roan antelope is larger, with a darker face and chest, and the black crowned crane is a Central and West African bird special, alongside Beaudouin’s snake eagle and the vinaceous dove. Away from the animals, Camp Nomade is a throwback to days gone by. Eschewing trendy lodges, the airy tents afford maximum visibility to the outside, giving the illusion of being on a sleep-out. The mess tent should win design awards with its ornate, local carpets-cumflooring. Jamie, the host and chef, will introduce you to both subtle and bold flavours you

CONTRIBUTE TO TRAVEL AFRICA: We love hearing from our readers and are always looking for exciting tales from the bush. So please email your stories and photographs to editor@travelafrica

have never experienced before. None of this would be possible without the hard conservation work by African Parks, the reserve’s principal administrator, and its success would be nowhere near the current level without the support of the Chadian government, which has largely supported conservation and eco-tourism efforts. Zakouma, once an elephant killing field, is quickly becoming Chad’s pièce de résistance. During my seven-night stay, I felt the palpable momentum the dry season brings. Every day, there is less and less water available and the concentration of bird species grows. The numbers will continue to build until the first rains disperse the wildlife. It is difficult to imagine that, in the coming weeks, there could be more cranes honking in front of camp, or that there are enough fish in the dwindling pans to sustain the pelicans, or how the already bending tree branches can take any more roosting birds. These explosions of life are normal for Africa, but genuine glimpses are now restricted to pockets such as this, where the human footprint is minimal. On our last morning, the queleas (above left) put on a show. They had been drinking in front of camp every day, and at 5.51am, the last and largest flock arrived. It acted as one giant organism, swooping down suddenly and sucking up the moisture for a few seconds. Then they forcefully departed with a loud whoosh, blackening the sky and twirling like a lasso. With their departure, it was as if nothing had ever happened. The floodplain cleared and fell silent, waiting for the cranes to swarm in from their nightly roost to fill the void.



Elephant graduation The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust rescues Kenya’s orphaned elephants and raises them before they are returned to the wild. Many visitors have seen the orphans being given milk and heard the circumstances of their arrival at the Nairobi-based orphanage on the edge of the national park, but only a few get to see their next step towards their reintegration to the wild. Elephant calves graduate from the orphanage to one of three sites around Kenya. Ithumba in the vast Tsavo East National Park is the biggest of these ‘secondary schools’. Within seconds of arriving at our accommodation, a cold beer was opened as we watched some elephants bathing. During the three days, hours were spent taking pictures

and watching the antics of the teenage ellies. We learnt that they are curious creatures — anything left lying around will be picked up for examination, as proved to be the case with an empty coffee cup, which was swiftly rescued by one of the staff. Tsavo is hot and we needed to find shade in the midday sun, so we enjoyed some leisurely lunches followed by a bit of quiet time during the early afternoon. This also meant that we were somewhat refreshed for elephant bedtime at 5pm when the sun was beginning to set. Like the dawn gathering, this allowed enthralling and fascinating interaction with the orphans, the Sheldrick graduates and the visiting wild elephants too. SIMON MARSH

In the Masai Mara, the stars seemed brighter than ever before and the sounds were amplified. We were on a night drive arranged by Il Ngwesi, and were on the lookout for owls. This took until the end of the evening but there were a few other compensations. We spotted a pack of roughly 15 wild dogs playing with sticks. Then a honey badger appeared, followed by both striped and spotted hyena. It was all very exciting and just one of the amazing experiences arranged by the lovely people here. Another is sleeping on a star bed (top). Il Ngwesi is a Maasai community venture. More than 20 years ago, the local elders decided to set aside a large part of their grazing land for wildlife and built a lodge consisting of six

thatched rooms. Most of the staff and rangers are from the villages. All the profits help fund the community’s education, healthcare and infrastructure. This is their land and their pride shines through when talking to anyone involved. Visitors are asked if they want to go to local homes or buy some of the lovely beadwork. The conservancy contains the traditional animals: zebra, giraffe and elephant. Our first attempt to find the two heavily protected white rhinos was thwarted by two squabbling elephant bulls. The birdlife is prolific, and there is always something to spot. There are also a few lion, leopard and cheetah prowling around as well. Il Ngwesi stole our hearts. We will go back. ANDREW BUCKLEY

BARREN BRUKKAROS I climbed Brukkaros, the extinct volcano in IlKaras Region, Namibia, in 2011. The starting point is easily missed. It is low-key and ‘off the tourist map’, even if it lies close to some major tourist routes. Without a 4WD, a tent and sturdy walking shoes, accessing the remnants of a solar observation post or the canyon rim is difficult. Following the path back down, we unsuccessfully scanned the crater floor for signs of game. The hunters must have cleaned the canyon out. The silence was unnerving. DR MARTIN BRIGGS

Travel Africa | January-March 2018


EDITOR’S PICK This Pangolin Armour Ring, from the new Pangolin Scales range by Patrick Mavros, combines conservation with style. Ten per cent of sales are donated to the Tikki Hywood Trust. £250,




Someone in Africa Loves You By Alexander Nderitu

SLEEPING LIONS Reader Kevin Isakow discovers the wonders of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park My heart is beating so hard and fast it is difficult for me to hold my camera steady. We spent an entire afternoon watching the five lazy lions, hoping they would reveal themselves from behind their shady tree. With minutes to spare before we had to head back to Polentswa Tented Camp, a beautiful female lion and her single cub sauntered out onto the road. The cub immediately stole my heart with its innocent and curious eyes as it rubbed against its mother affectionately. This is what I live for. This is the culmination of a year’s planning. This was by no means my first lion encounter. I have visited the famous Kruger National Park more than 30 times, but there was something intangible about seeing lion at Kgalagadi. The park has a quick and efficient check-in. Your safety is prioritised: you must alert reception every time you enter and exit camp, and tell them where you are driving. That way, they know where to look if you go missing. After a few


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

days, my wife and I got the hang of it, enjoying the early morning chats with people from all over the world — genuine, down-to-earth, passionate and knowledgeable people. It’s refreshing to find a place where everyone gets a good spot to view the animals. This courtesy is often lacking at other parks in Africa. We rarely had more than two other vehicles at predator sightings, and often we were the only ones. Due to the open terrain, sightings here are second to none. Lion had been spotted at Houmoed earlier in the day and, sure enough, we found a mating pair there. In addition, we found the first of many gemsbok. Even though they are common, we never tired of seeing these majestic animals and thoroughly enjoyed photographing them on the ridges. The Kgalagadi terrain makes for beautiful photographic opportunities and we soon tested our landscape and telephoto lenses. I’m planning my next trip to Kgalagadi already, perhaps next time in summer — when apparently the park becomes alive with colour. The only word of caution is to stay somewhere with air-conditioning!

The tall blonde girl didn’t come to East Africa on safari, She was an Oxford student majoring in History And wanted to see the sites involved in slavery And the relics of Arab-Portuguese rivalry. I first spied her walking alone by the swaying sea And something about her just jumped up and bit me. I asked her her name and she said, “Suzanne...with an ‘e’.” From thence, there was no distance between us; I took her to see the Gedi Ruins and Fort Jesus And at night we marvelled at a sky as brilliant as a mirror And cheered fire-eaters and limbo dancers With ebony skins that glistened in the moonlight like razors. Suzanne changed into tropical gear and I braided her hair And then we danced to the music of Bob Marley & The Wailers. Wherever he was, Cupid must have been very happy — I danced all night with Miss “Suzanne with an ‘e’”. Suzanne lay on the beach for hours and got a suntan; I taught her Swahili, she taught me cockney slang. Wise men say that time and tide wait for no man And all too soon it was time for Suzanne to return. Without her, life in the tropics just isn’t the same, I’m so irritable my fellow beach boys say I’m going insane. I sent Suzanne an e-mail saying, “Someone in Africa loves you.” And she replied saying, “I miss Africa and I miss you.” It was signed: “Suzanne with an ‘e’”. Alexander Nderitu represented Kenyan literature in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, with his poem ‘Someone in Africa Loves You’.


SAFARI PLANNER QGetting there There are daily flights to

Essential Destinations

RUAHA NP WHY VISIT? Remote and wild, Ruaha National Park is packed with game and an abundance of birdlife. Diverse vegetation meets a dramatic topographical backdrop: endless rolling hills, vast open plains, secret groves of ancient baobabs and the Great Ruaha River. The park — the largest in Tanzania at around 20,000 sq km — supports one of Africa’s largest elephant populations. It offers superb, crowd-free wildlife viewing and is particularly good for spotting predators, including lion and the endangered wild dog.

WHAT TO SEE? Scenery The main feature of the park is the Great Ruaha River, on its southern border, which attracts hordes of animals in the dry season. Wildlife As well as an estimated 15,000 elephant, there are plentiful large prides of lion and Ruaha is one of the very few places lions prey on giraffes relatively frequently. Leopard sightings are frequent and the park is also a

birdwatcher’s delight (more than 570 species have been recorded). Other species commonly sighted include buffalo, zebra, giraffe, impala, eland, kudu and crocodile. Flora The park supports an impressive 1650 plant species. This compares favourably to 830 in Selous and a mere 410 in northeast Serengeti.

WHERE TO STAY? Despite the vastness of the park, there are only a handful of camps, which has helped to foster Ruaha’s reputation as Tanzania’s best-kept game-viewing secret. Essential Destinations’ Mdonya Old River Camp, set on a 1000m-high plateau, houses 12 traditional safari tents spaciously located along the curving banks of the Mdonya sand-river. Each comes with a large verandah that is ideal for relaxing on between activities, or simply for enjoying the wildlife as it passes by. Game drives are flexible and afford guests the opportunity to experience the mosaic of ecosystems to be found in the park, from the river pools to the acacia grasslands and forests.

Msembe airstrip in Ruaha National park with Coastal Aviation, from Dar es Salaam/ Zanzibar and Arusha/Serengeti. QWhen to visit The best time for game viewing is generally May to November, although the bush is greener and prettier from January to June; birding peaks from December to April. QHow long do you need? Allow 3-5 nights. Ideal in combination with a similar length stay in Selous Game Reserve. QAccommodation The 12-tent Mdonya Old River Camp, open June through March; children age 6 and upwards welcome. QPark fees US$30 per person per day. Serengeti NP

Arusha KENYA Tarangire NP

TANZANIA Dar es Salaam Ruaha NP

Selous Game Reserve

For more information, contact | |

Travel Africa | January-March 2018


READER RECOMMENDATION A Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of the Maasai Mara by Stephen Spawls comprises natural history notes about the 64 known reptile and amphibian species found in the Mara, and 24 species that might occur there. The book is sponsored by Gamewatchers Safaris and profits go to the charities the company supports. EDWARD HILL, UK





In this extract from her new book, A Cheetah’s Tale, Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent discusses how she learned to ‘read’ the calls of Tess, an orphaned cheetah cub


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa



n the wild, cheetah cubs can depend on their mother to hunt for them and to teach them to hunt from about six months old. But since Tess had no mother to teach her I was very surprised when, at 10 months old, she began chirruping to be let out at dawn. For the last two months she had shown signs of wanting to chase prey — mostly quite unsuitably large — but at least it showed she was keen to provide for herself. I began to record her vocalisations to play to Eduardo [the local vet] or Benedita in the hope they could explain them to me.

They told me a great deal, and I have gleaned more over the years. Although I had learned to ‘read’ Tess’s calls, I was unaware of the rest. I knew that cheetahs did not make sounds like the lion, leopard or tiger. They have unique calls for communicating with their mother, their siblings and their own cubs. Since they do not live in social groups, they do not need as large a vocabulary as lions, but they have a very distinct language nonetheless. The first sound I heard from Tess is known as yipping — a

short, high-pitched yelp when she wanted to know where I was or where to find her nanny, Ridgeback Daisy. Had she had siblings, they would have yipped or ayipped to call each other. This is the sound I have described as imitating bird calls and is also referred to as chirping or chirruping. I have heard small cubs use this when faced with an unfamiliar adult cheetah through the wire netting of their separate ‘nurseries’ at the Kapama Centre in South Africa. Adult cheetahs also yip, and very loudly if afraid. Then there is the churr, a sort of stuttering bark cheetahs make when they meet socially. It is a rather cosy sound which mothers make to call their cubs to suckle. At Kapama, I was once filming the first cub of a litter to leave its birthing hut and it approached the wire netting dividing its nursery from that of a very pregnant cheetah on the other side. On seeing the little cub, the pregnant cheetah churred to show interest and repeated the sound even more loudly when the cub’s mother came out to join them. I have not heard males churr, but am told they do it when meeting females, and the ladies tend to churr when anxious about males nearby. More serious is the yowl, which indicates a threat, a long drawn-out moan to warn of danger, especially when a predator approaches a cheetah’s cubs. Cheetahs also hiss, spit, growl and, of course, purr.




Mike Brogden of Botswana Cultural Holidays recommends some great reads about this southern African country


THE SHELL TOURIST TRAVEL AND FIELD GUIDE OF BOTSWANA VERONICA ROODT This is the best guide to Botswana and includes a separate, detailed map. It is packed with useful information for visitors, whether planning safaris in the Okavango Delta, looking for wildlife in the Kalahari or studying the people and their history in Gaborone or Serowe. There are also good photographic checklists of birds and animals.


COLOUR BAR: THE TRIUMPH OF SERETSE KHAMA AND HIS NATION SUSAN WILLIAMS The story of Seretse Khama, the man who became Botswana’s first president after independence in 1966. The book examines the racist treatment he received from the UK government while studying law in 1950s England, all because he married a white woman, Ruth

Williams. However, he rose above all this to become a muchrespected leader of his people.


CULTURE SMART! A QUICK GUIDE TO CUSTOMS & ETIQUETTE: BOTSWANA MIKE MAIN Excellent reading for background information on the Batswana: greetings, respect (much valued!), fairness, punctuality (not valued!), traditions, the importance of cattle and goats, and much more. Note, a bride is still worth about six cows.


GUIDE TO GREATER GABORONE ALEC CAMPBELL AND MIKE MAIN A very useful guide to the region around the capital city, Gaborone, with sections on the geology, the people and their history as well as local places of interest. It’s now a little out-of-date but still available and helpful for those who wish to explore the culture of this region.


THE NO. 1 LADIES’ DETECTIVE AGENCY ALEXANDER MCCALL SMITH This series of novels accurately portrays the gentle character of the country’s people. Mma Precious Ramotswe solves problems and crimes in typical Batswana fashion by talking them through. The kindness displayed in these books is entirely true to life.


SEROWE: VILLAGE OF THE RAIN WIND BESSIE HEAD The writer was a white refugee from South Africa, having broken the law against white women having relationships with black men. She settled in Botswana’s second town, Serowe, in her twenties. In this book, published in 1981, she chronicles the words of nearly a hundred villagers, revealing a telling picture of life here.

On the coffee table BEST OF EYES OVER AFRICA MICHAEL POLIZA From deserts to cities to grasslands, let your imagination be captured by some of the world’s most stunning landscapes seen from the air. This new hardback edition is both compact and affordable, featuring Poliza’s famous photographs in a more accessible format.

ALEXIS OKEOWO The debut book by this New Yorker journalist is both sensitive and powerful. Drawing on stories from Boko Haram opponents, basketball players and others, she skilfully illuminates lives often overlooked by the rest of the world.

THE NEXT FACTORY OF THE WORLD: HOW CHINESE INVESTMENT IS RESHAPING AFRICA IRENE YUAN SUN China is now the largest trade partner and source of foreign direct investment for Africa. What effect will this have? Weaving together stories of entrepreneurs, workers and government officials in Africa, alongside insightful economic analysis, the writer attempts to answer this (literal) million-dollar question.

POSTCOLONIAL AUTOMOBILITY: CAR CULTURE IN WEST AFRICA LINDSEY B. GREEN-SIMMS A combination of history, sociology and anthropology, this book examines West Africa through the lens of the automobile. A unique and accessible take on contemporary issues, it promises to be a fascinating read.

WAKE ME WHEN I’M GONE ODAFE ATOGUN The second novel by an up-andcoming Nigerian author, this poignant work tells the story of Ese, a young widow. It examines the complex relationship between tradition and motherhood, and the challenges faced by Nigerian women today.

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



Experiences in THE NORTHERN CAPE Ranging over 360,000 sq km from the world-renowned Kalahari Desert to the arid plains of the Karoo, along with its lifeblood, the 2000km-long Orange River, South Africa’s Northern Cape offers visitors unique adventure experiences. Here’s just a taste…



Whether on a whitewater rafting thrill ride, a more gentle paddle or just lazily sipping sundowners on a boat cruise, there are many ways to enjoy the wonders of the Orange River. Rafting and canoe safaris offer one-to four-day expeditions, with all tastes covered — from mild to wild. You can even step into the depths for a spot of flyfishing on the lower Vaal and Riet rivers at Kimberley, which are renowned for yielding world-class catches of yellowfish in pristine surrounds.

The Northern Cape offers myriad hiking trails, with soul-tugging scenery across vast expanses of open desert plains or through mazes of rocky strata in mountains and ravines. For those who prefer to keep their feet off the ground, why not try a motorbike, quad bike or mountain bike adventure, or even a horse riding safari. For those with a need for speed, you can get a real feel for the desert by sandboarding down some dunes, hiking back up and doing it all over again.




For more information:

Northerncape @NorthernCapeSA northerncapetourism


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa


Soar above the rugged landscape of the Northern Cape in a hot air balloon, taking in the magnificent Orange River and the Augrabies Falls — or wherever the wind may take you. Other air-bound activities include bridge swinging, abseiling, paragliding, microlighting and helicopter trips.


The Northern Cape boasts several national parks as well as a host of nature and private reserves. Highlights include Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, which is home to famed black-maned Kalahari lions, as well as leopard, cheetah, mongoose, porcupine and honey badger. One of the world’s last truly unspoilt ecosystems, the park, at 38,000 sq km, is one of the largest conservation areas in the world. Mokala National Park , which is the most easily accessible park in the province, boasts black and white rhino, giraffe, buffalo, tsessebe, roan antelope, reedbuck, gemsbok, eland, zebra, red hartebeest, blue and black wildebeest, kudu, ostrich, steenbok, duiker and springbok, to name but a few.

Hiding out at... Hyena Pan! HYENA PAN – KHWAI PRIVATE RESERVE, OKAVANGO DELTA HOME TO A NEW UNDERGROUND HIDE, WITH EYE TO EYE GAME VIEWING. | | +27 (0)21 001 1574 or +27 (0)11 326 4407

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



Caught on camera From bats to dabchicks, here is our pick of the most captivating winning shots from Nature’s Best Photography Africa Awards 2017

Octopus RAINER SCHIMPF, SOUTH AFRICA “Deep in the underwater recesses of the Tsitsikamma Marine Protected Area, one finds an exquisite catalogue of hidden and secret marine life. This environment and its inhabitants deserve the ultimate protection by South Africa’s conservation institutions. The entire ecology of the area is fragile and the elements living within it are frequently the target of poachers and marine strippers who have little regard or conscience for the permanent damage they do to nature’s strategies of survival and procreation.” Canon EOS 5D MkII, 8-15mm f/4 @ 15mm, ISO 400, aperture f/6.3, shutter speed 1/250s, EV -0.3


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa


Travel Africa | January-March 2018



Angry bat HENDRIK LOUW, SOUTH AFRICA “One afternoon, I was scanning through the bushes of Richards Bay to look for some macro subjects. To my amazement, I found a little banana bat. To photograph it was going to be extremely difficult as the space is so limited and you cannot get light into the leaf and onto your subject. From previous experience, I knew how to set up from the start: use strong flashes giving light through the leaves, while hanging onto a ladder. To complicate matters, this little one was not too eager and showed it right away. I managed to get one shot, but that was enough!” Nikon D200, 105mm f/2.8 @ 105mm, ISO 200, aperture f/10, shutter speed 1/100s, EV -0.3


Cut to the chase PAUL GOLDSTEIN, UK “We were in the Olare Conservancy, which borders the Mara Reserve. The quarry was in fairly dense bushes and unlikely to offer us an open view of any action that might occur. So I concentrated my focus on a small gap of about 30m in the foliage, hoping that the gazelle would choose this direction as its path of flight. That is precisely what it did do when the cheetah launched its attack, but the two speedsters covered the distance so rapidly that I managed to trigger only three images with a panning action as pursuer and pursued flashed by.” Canon EOS 1D-X, 500mm f/4 @ 500mm, ISO 200, aperture f/7.1, shutter speed 1/50s, EV 0.0


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

Dabchick with fish PIERRE JORDAAN, SOUTH AFRICA “The bird hides at Zibulo Colliery in Mpumalanga are ideally situated for photography. I noticed the dabchick swimming closer to the hide. Normally they stay submerged for short periods while searching for food. To my surprise, this one surfaced in front of the hide with a fish. I managed to capture a couple of images before it eventually swallowed it. Of the selection, this image, with a glint in the eye of the bird and the frozen droplets behind its head, was my favourite.” Canon EOS 5D MkIII, 500mm f/4 + 1.4x Converter @ 700mm, ISO 800, aperture f/8, shutter speed 1/3200s, EV -0.7



Travel Africa | January-March 2018


Portfolio Reflections HANNES LOCHNER, SOUTH AFRICA “It is normally the big bulls that choose the best spots for accessing the cleanest and freshest water. On this particular evening, I tried to capture the reflections of the big bulls at the waterhole with camera exposures lasting for periods of 30 seconds. I did this by using a bounce flash to fill in the foreground, while concomitantly capturing the Milky Way by using the long exposure. Images like this are there to be recorded, provided one is prepared to look beyond the immediate presence that meets the eye and then think innovatively ‘out of the box’.” Nikon D800E, 14-24mm f/2.8 @ 14mm, ISO 3200, aperture f/2.8, shutter speed 1/30s, EV -0.3


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa


Travel Africa | January-March 2018



Mara monster SUSANNE SCHEUFLER, GERMANY “The brave mother did her best to protect her young by lashing at the crocodile with her hooves, but to no avail. The reptile was of monster proportions and its rough skin as resistant as the armour plating on a tank. Tragic as the moment was, this image of the zebra foal disappearing down the throat of the crocodile effectively records the harsh realities of life and death in nature that live on in the memories of photographers who are lucky enough to witness a crossing in the Masai Mara.� Nikon D810, 500mm f/4 + 1.4x Converter @ 700mm, ISO 800, aperture f/10, shutter speed 1/6400s, EV -1.3


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa


Travel Africa | January-March 2018


Portfolio Flamingo colours


MICHAEL VILJOEN, SOUTH AFRICA “In this image, taken from the air in northern Kenya’s Rift Valley, the flamingos’ pink colour contrasted beautifully with the blue and yellow hues emerging through the waters from the bed of the lake where the birds were searching for food in the shallows. After being buffeted through scenic flights like this in 40° heat, one’s immediate world and memories seem to blend together in a confusing blur. It is only when one downloads the images that some fine and exquisite details emerge which went unnoticed during the fast-moving flight over the enchanting landscapes.” Canon EOS 5D MkIII, 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 160mm, ISO 800, aperture f/4.5, shutter speed 1/6400s, EV -1.0


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

The photographs in this portfolio were all taken from Nature’s Best Photography Africa 2017 contest. If you are interested in taking part in the 2018 competition, entries open on 1 April and close on 31 May, with the awards being presented in November. Please visit for further details.

Travel Africa | January-March 2018


The Premier Annual African Nature focused Photographic Competition in the World In Association With

Iziko Museums of South Africa and Nature’s Best Photography (Global)

Callout to all Photographers Competition Opens Monday 02 April 2018 & Closes Thursday 31 May 2018 13 Exciting Categories ‡ Exceptional Catalogue ‡ Easy Online Entry Expert Judging Platform ‡ Exciting African Safari Prizes to be Won!!

Only Photographs taken in Africa Proudly Sponsored By

A Novus Holdings company

Enter Online at For more information contact or 060 SAFARIS (723 2747)



The image was shot with a Nikon D500 with a Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 with 1.4x Converter/f13 @ 1/2500sec / ISO 800 / EV-1.3


The power of five In the thick of the action, the decisions you make affect your final shot, says Lou Coetzer.




For most of September the greatest concentration of wildebeest was in the central and southern part of the Greater Mara. We had heard of an unsual coalition of five male cheetahs operating together, knowing they would need to kill every day and would need to focus on larger prey than usual, such as wildebeest or topi calves. Even with the help of the Cheetah Research Group, we searched for them in vain on a few occasions. Then our luck turned. The five crossed the Talek River, going north. Now they were closer to our base and I planned the best route to get to them early in the morning, before they killed. Within five minutes of finding them, the hunt started. Three were laying flat behind a termite mount and the other two were out of sight when the trap was set. A large group of very nervous wildebeest slowly moved closer to the three that I could see — and then all hell broke loose. Wildebeest started running in all directions and I noticed that one of the cheetahs behind the termite mount had gone and the remaining two were anxiously looking in the direction of a chaotic bowl of dust.

It was time to go. As we rushed over the short grass plains I kept telling my guide to keep us on the side of a glorious early sunrise. With the dust settling in the background, four cheetah struggling to bring the wildebeest calf down and the four CNP photographers with me firing flat out, I made a crucial decision to move the vehicle. Although our vehicle was well placed, we were shooting too much to the shadow side of the drama unfolding in front of us. It was time to go again. We were now the only vehicle positioned with the early sun behind us and ready to record any detail available in the eyes of the cheetah or the wildebeest calf. The fifth cheetah now joined the hunt and, to

my surprise, they were really struggling to bring the wildebeest calf down. Three of the cheetahs had a powerful grip on the neck and back of the calf and eventually forced it to its knees. Finally, as pictured above, the brave calf succumbed and four of the five cheetahs could finally relax their grip, while the fifth kept his grip on the calf’s throat. Many photographers may have stuck with their original location, anxious not to lose any time. But, by deciding to move to a position where the sun was more directly behind us, we were able to capture so much more detail in the cats, particularly in their eyes — and the photographs were greatly improved as a result.

Acclaimed wildlife photographer Lou Coetzer is the founder of CNP Safaris, which operates photographic safaris to Africa’s premier wildlife locations. Lou’s pioneering design of 360º revolving chairs and dedicated boats and vehicles, technical expertise and provision of equipment means CNP’s safaris are suited for anyone interested in taking better photographs, regardless of existing skills. CNP Safaris also operates a mentorship programme to support your photography at home. For information on trips, the mentorship programme, blogs and galleries visit, or say hello on or phone +27 82 770 9403

Travel Africa | January-March 2018


South Africa


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

Nick Dall sets out in South Africa’s Mountain Zebra National Park to search for the world’s fastest feline, and learn about its behaviour and interaction with its cousin the lion


Travel Africa | January-March 2018


South Africa


’m breathless and starting to sweat, despite the Karoo morning chill. Two Austrian tourists and I have spent the last hour clambering up and down the steep, scrabbly slopes of Saltpeterskop in South Africa’s Mountain Zebra National Park (MZNP) in search of a collared cheetah. Up ahead — rifle in one hand, antenna in the other — field guide Dan van de Vyver is trying his damnedest to find her, but the topography is wreaking havoc with his radio signal. Every time the beeps seem to be getting stronger, they fade away just as quickly. Just when I’m starting to wonder whether we’ll ever find her, one of the Austrians spots her round ears poking out from behind some grass. We marvel at her from a distance of no more than 10m. At first she just lies there, but after a while she rolls over, stands up and arches her back before walking off into the rocks, never to be seen again. “They like to rest somewhere high, where they can see the lay of the land,” whispers Dan. “She’s probably going down to the plains to hunt now.” Traditionally, radio-tracking big cats has been reserved for bearded PhD students and celebrities such as David Attenborough and Bear Grylls. But now tourists, too, can experience the thrill of searching for a wild cheetah on foot. By the time you report at reception, your guide will already have downloaded the cheetah’s approximate GPS

coordinates from a satellite, which helps to assist the quest. You’ll be driven towards the cheetah in an open Land Rover until the road runs out (often accessing parts of the park that are off limits to other visitors), before continuing the search on foot. The excursion gives ordinary people a chance to experience what cheetah are really like and how they behave. “You’re following the world’s fastest animal in its natural environment, so nothing is guaranteed,” says Dan. If the cheetah you track happens to be hunting or nursing cubs, you might only glimpse it from afar or you may even draw a complete blank. That’s just how nature works. That said, there’s no such thing as a bad day when you’re hiking in the African wilderness with an extremely knowledgeable ranger. At one point, we stopped to admire a majestic martial eagle; at another, we were given an impromptu lesson on the family structure of the Cape ground squirrel. Dan even threw in a bit of Anglo-Boer War history. Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to spend plenty of time doing amazing things in game reserves all over Africa, but I’ve never had an experience quite like this. There are quite a few places in South Africa where you can walk with a semi-wild cheetah or even pet a completely tame one. This is not one of those places. MZNP’s cheetah are totally wild and their survival depends on two things: killing enough

SPEED OF LIGHT: The cheetah’s anatomy has evolved to a point where it can accelerate from zero to 100km per hour in less than three seconds. OPPOSITE: Radio collars play a vital role in the conservation of cheetah at Mountain Zebra National Park, allowing rangers and scientists to track them, monitor them and keep them safe


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

Least concern

Near threatened




Extinct in wild



Cheetah threats

Consult the map The cheetah has been driven out of 91 per cent of its historic range in Africa and Asia.

Habitat loss and fragmentation

Persecution and retaliatory killing by livestock owners

Loss of prey due to over-hunting by people

OHistoric Range OCurrent Range


Fewer than 50 critically endangered Asiatic cheetah have survived, all in Iran.

200 The Saharan cheetah is critically endangered, with fewer than 200 individuals remaining.



More than half of the world’s cheetah live in one population stretching across six countries.

of all cheetah populations contain 100 or fewer individuals.

Illegal trade in cheetah as exotic pets, particularly cubs

Illegal poaching and trafficking of cheetah skins and body parts

Deaths by vehicles on roads

Radio collars have been fitted on four of the Mount Zebra National Park’s cheetah and two of the park’s lions. The batteries on the cheetahs’ collars last about 18 months (lions have bigger collars with longer-lasting batteries) and the collars cost about £3000 to replace ERIC REISINGER

South Africa

BLUE HILLS: Research at Mountain Zebra National Park has shown that the cheetah can thrive in an enclosed, high-altitude environment. BELOW: Field guide Dan van de Vyver searches for signal. OPPOSITE: Female cheetah raise their young alone. The gestation period lasts about 93 days and litters comprise betwen two and eight cubs


prey to support themselves and avoiding the park’s male lions successfully. No one knows more about this than Dan who, while working as a field guide, also completed his Master’s thesis on the interaction between the park’s two biggest cat species and has since been transferred to Kruger. We quizzed him to find out more about this interesting subject. “Two male and two female cheetah were introduced in 2007 to see how they would fare,” he explains. “Many people thought that cheetah wouldn’t react well to the high-altitude, mountainous habitat… but how wrong they’ve proved us all.” Dan’s co-supervisor at Rhodes University, Dr Charlene Bissett, monitored the cheetah in those early years. She soon realised that the cheetah, in addition to being really fast on the flat, goes up and down rocks and slopes easily and is an extremely efficient and adaptable predator. “They did really well here,” summarises Dan. “So well that we’ve had to relocate quite a few to other parks.” At first, the cheetah used about 85 per cent of the park’s 284sq-km territory and preyed on a variety of species. They targeted kudu calves, springbok, mountain reedbuck and vaal rhebok and enjoyed remarkable success rates. “Cheetah,” explains Dan, “are very meticulous hunters. Running at such high speeds burns a lot of energy, so they can’t afford to make many mistakes.”

Dan came to the park in 2013, the same year that lion were introduced, to monitor the cheetahs’ reaction to this massive change in their habitat. “It’s very rare for cheetah to be introduced to a park before lion, and it’s never happened in a high-altitude environment such as this one,” says Dan. His thesis asked two core questions: firstly, would the cheetah change their land use because of the lion? And secondly, would their diet change now that they were no longer apex predators? “The size of their ranges didn’t change when lion were introduced, but the position of the ranges did. Before this, they used more open, sparsely vegetated areas. Once the lion had arrived, they still preferred to hunt in open areas but used areas of thicker vegetation to rest and recuperate.” The total number of species killed by the cheetah has increased slightly, from 13 before the lions’ arrival to 15 afterwards. Medium-sized prey (30-65kg) are still prominent, but the cheetah are also killing increasing numbers of smaller animals. “Put bluntly, they have to catch things they can eat quickly before the lion arrive.” When the two lions and one lioness were introduced, park staff hoped that they would form a pride. But lion play by their own rules and, after a few days, the lioness separated from the males. “My data NICK DALL


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa


“Cheetah,” explains Dan, “are very meticulous hunters. Running at such high speeds burns a lot of energy, so they can’t afford to make many mistakes”

South Africa

ON TRACK: Dan van de Vyver leads the way up Saltpeterskop, a 514m-high koppie, in search of cheetah

showed clearly that whatever vegetation type the male lion were choosing, the lionesses were avoiding. And whatever the lionesses were selecting, the cheetah were avoiding. This is a classic example of what ecologists call top-down regulation.” The study has also given Dan fi rst-hand experience of lions’ opportunism: “In one five-day period the pair of male lion killed two buffalo calves, a mountain zebra stallion and an eland bull!” He’s also been amazed by the lioness’s hunting prowess: “Over the year, she has killed three eland bulls, a phenomenal achievement for a lone lioness.” Since 2013 only two — or perhaps three — cheetah have been killed by the lion. Being introduced before lion seems to have dramatically improved cheetah survival rates, observes Dan, who would expect to see similar results in other closed systems … provided conditions are favourable for cheetah and — very importantly — that lion numbers are not allowed to get out of control. “More lion means a higher encounter rate,” explains Dan, “and would ultimately result in cheetah being killed.” Dan’s fi ndings prove that lion and cheetah can coexist in small parks — especially if cheetah are introduced before lion and the lion population is managed effectively. Having lion there has changed the way that all species in the park interact. Although there was some “prey naïveté” in the beginning, “all of the animals are now much more in tune with their natural survival instincts,” says Dan, “which makes for a much more authentic tourist experience.” NICK DALL

There’s no such thing as a bad day when you’re hiking in the African wilderness with an extremely knowledgeable ranger

SAFARI PLANNER QGetting there Mountain Zebra National

between the ages of 12 and 65. Over-65s must submit a doctor’s certificate stating Park (MZNP) is a three-and-a-half-hour they’re fit enough to hike on rugged terrain. drive from Port Elizabeth, which is served Numbers are limited to between two and by several daily flights from Cape Town, eight people so booking in advance is Johannesburg and Durban. It’s a great selfessential. Call the park reception on +27 drive destination and combines well with (0)48 881 2427. Addo Elephant National Park, Camdeboo National Park and even Golden Gate Highlands National Park. BOTSWANA QWhere to stay The pleasant main rest camp has a campsite and various NAMIBIA one- and two-bedroom self-catering Johannesburg accommodation, including the new Rock Chalets. The restored Doornhoek Guest House sleeps six and is separate from the main camp. For a rustic experience, book one of the two mountain cottages, SOUTH AFRICA which are accessible only by 4WD. QTrack a cheetah The experience Mountain Zebra starts just after sunrise and takes National Park between three and four hours, SOUTH Cape Town ATLANTIC depending on how amenable the OCEAN cheetah are feeling. It’s open to anyone


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

QOther highlights MZNP boasts magnificent

mountain landscapes and a chance to see lion, buffalo, rhino and endangered mountain zebra. Outside school holidays, it’s also blessedly devoid of tourists. QWhen to go This high-altitude, low rainfall region is a year-round destination. It can get hot in summer and chilly in winter (snow is a distinct possibility). The rainy season falls between October and April but isn’t very severe. QHealth There’s no malaria in the Eastern Cape but be sure to ask your local travel clinic whether they recommend any vaccinations or precautions. QFurther reading Olive Schreiner’s ground-breaking 1883 novel The Story of an African Farm is set on a fictional farm very near the park. Also worth reading is Eve Palmer’s The Plains of Camdeboo — purportedly a family history, it’s a broad work encompassing history, anthropology, archaeology and more.


Bush dinner

Visit Ta Shebube’s two unique desert camps, Rooiputs and Polentswa in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Botswana, and you are guaranteed amazing sightings of the renowned and imposing black-maned lions.

Idube Game Reserve Sabi Sand, Mpumulanga, South Africa

Each lodge promotes tranquility, comfort, horizonless landscape, amazing sunsets and thrilling wildlife; large enough to cater for family and friends, yet small enough to ensure that each guest will experience the spirit of the Kgalagadi. +267 3161696 | |

Sometimes, it’s the little things that count… Visiting Johannesburg? Dunkeld Manor offers the discerning traveller luxurious accommodation and attentive hospitality in the heart of the Northern Suburbs; close to shopping centres, tourist attractions and the Gautrain station, making it easily accessible from OR Tambo airport.

Recently upgraded, Xanatseni Private Camp is a thatched, full-board camp that provides absolute comfort while retaining the charm and ambiance of a bygone VDIDULHUD,WERDVWVÀYHOX[XULRXVURRPVZLWKPHVPHULVLQJYLHZVRI the bush, which itself is home to an abundance of wildlife. Xanatseni Private Camp Klaserie Private Nature Reserve, Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa +27 (0)15 817 1825 | |

Travel Africa | January-March 2018


Seychelles meets Zambezi at Chundu I sl a n d Chundu Island is a private oasis where nothing else seems to exist but the beauty of Zimbabwe’s natural habitat. Eight spacious palm thatched en-suite rooms, each with their own private deck and perfect view RIWKH=DPEH]LDUHQHVWOHGEHQHDWKPDJQLĹFHQW riverine trees. Perhaps Chundu’s strongest attribute is its location, superbly positioned on the Zambezi 5LYHURQO\NPXSVWUHDPIURPWKHPDJQLĹFHQW Victoria Falls and accessible by boat. Guests are able to experience Africa in its purest state, peaceful, serene and beautiful, yet exciting and adventurous at the same time. 7KHUDQJHRIDFWLYLWLHVRijHUHGUHIJHFWVWKHSULPH location and the dedicated, knowledgeable VWDij RQ KDQG IURP JDPH GULYHV DQG ZDONV LQ WKH=DPEH]L1DWLRQDO3DUNWRLVODQGZDONVIURP VXQGRZQHU FUXLVHV WR IXQ ĹVKLQJ DQG FDQRHLQJ

RQWKHPLJKW\=DPEH]LDQGGD\WRXUVWRRQHRI the 7 wonders of the world, Victoria Falls. Chundu provides the perfect foil to the bustling town’s excitement. A mere 7km from the town of Victoria Falls lies our preferred partner, Masuwe Lodge. “There is something very special about Masuwe – a positive energy made up of the breeze in the trees, views of the bush, the huge open sky and wildlife all around.â€? Masuwe Lodge combines the best of both worlds – ‘life on safari’ with easy access to Victoria Falls! Situated on 1000 hectares of natural bushland Masuwe is home to bush buck, kudu, sable, leopard, warthogs, impala and much more. Enjoy the best of both worlds at Chundu Island and Masuwe Lodge and experience all that =LPEDEZHKDVRQRÄłHU |

Cape St Francis Resort

Love life

Isn’t it time you pressed the pause button?

T: +27 (0)42 298 0054 E:

Lukimbi Safari Lodge 33,000-acre concession Kruger NP, South Africa

Rates & Packages available at +27 (0) 36 940 0129 +27 (0) 73 628 7307

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



Botswana on a budget In search of a more affordable option in this notoriously expensive wildlife destination, Sarah Gilbert joins a group mobile camping safari


ook, behind you!” Still clutching my coffee, I swung around just in time to see an impala flash past. Swiftly followed by a blur of five African wild dogs, lithe bodies outstretched in hot pursuit — and less than a couple of metres from where I was standing. We jumped into the Land Cruiser and sped off in a dramatic swirl of dust. A few minutes later, we came across the wild dog celebration, yelping as they rubbed bloodstained muzzles, a head and spine all that remained of the luckless impala. Botswana is known for its wealth of wildlife. With a population of just over two million in an area the size of France, vast swathes of pristine wilderness have been given over to fence-free national parks and private game reserves, allowing wildlife to roam as it pleases. It’s also known for its policy of high-end, low-volume tourism and eye-wateringly expensive lodges, some of which command almost US$3000 per person per night in high season. But I was forgoing the five-star treatment — butlers to draw a bath, tasting menus to rival Michelin-star restaurants and well-stocked wine cellars — travelling on a budget and going back to basics on a mobile safari, sleeping in a tent, eating under the stars and leaving no footprint. For ten action-packed days, I travelled through some of Botswana’s most stunning landscapes, from the riverine forest of Chobe National Park, south through the arid Savuti Channel to the abundant wildlife of the Khwai


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa


Travel Africa | January-March 2018


Tanzania Botswana

Concession and Moremi Game Reserve on the edge of the Okavango Delta’s watery wilderness. Our eclectic group of seven ranged from safari addicts like me to a British family of first-time safarigoers and two intrepid pensioners from the Australian outback. There was no Internet, no TV, and we all got on famously, sharing campfire tales and convivial meals. And there was Moosa who could rustle up a feast from a portable stove, KP and KB who ran the camp like a welloiled machine, and Gee, our knowledgeable and entertaining guide, whose rules had to be obeyed. Camping in the bush meant no barriers or an end to game viewing. Humans may have been given designated areas to sleep but they weren’t always respected by the resident wildlife, and the wild dogs that interrupted our breakfast weren’t our only visitors. At lunchtime, elephant often wandered into camp in search of the tastiest tamarind, a magnificent male lion even loped by while we were having dinner — luckily we weren’t on his menu. Wildlife spotting began on a morning boat trip along the Chobe River. A matriarchal herd of elephant were already drinking, along with a bachelor herd of buffalo; enormous Nile crocodiles basked on the banks and pods of harrumphing hippo wallowed in the shallows. Distances are huge in Botswana, and it took five hours over bone-jangling dirt roads across boundless stretches of sun-scorched grass to reach our first camp at Savuti, but it gave me a feel for the sheer scale of the country and every journey became a game drive. On the first night, as the campfire flickered and died and I retired to my tent — spacious, with its own en-suite longdrop toilet and bucket shower — I lay for a while, wide-eyed in the pitch darkness, acutely aware that there was just a thin wall of canvas separating me from Botswana’s greatest predators. As my ears adapted to the nocturnal noises, I suddenly heard the unmistakable sound of a male lion


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa


PREVIOUS PAGES: Starstruck. A Letaka Safaris mobile tented camp at night in the Khwai Concession of Botswana’s Okavango Delta. CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE LEFT: Wild dogs charge across a river in the Delta in pursuit of prey; a male saddle-billed stork; a typical African bucket shower is an authentic, back-to-basics experience that can be enjoyed hot or cold on a mobile safari. OPPOSITE: Every day in the bush ends with sundowners

Who needs gourmet food or a pillow menu? After nine nights immersed in the bush, showering under the Southern Cross and being woken by an elephant’s breath reverberating against my tent, I’d realised that this undiluted connection to the wild was priceless

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



patrolling his territory. I knew that he was far away, but his sonorous call still made my heart skip a beat. By day, we were entranced by a journey of giraffe, their long tongues delicately plucking tender acacia leaves from between razor-sharp thorns. Ostrich sprinted in strict formation across the plain and, for an instant, a stately roan antelope posed for our cameras before disappearing back into the bush. If carnivores had been elusive at Savuti, it was a different story at Khwai. We headed straight for a wild dog den just in time to see them waking up and greeting each other, before the month-old pups began tumbling out, blinking in the sunlight. It was a lesson in wild dog parenting techniques, as I watched the pups play rough and tumble and receive a nip if they tried to follow the adults. The days settled into a typical safari rhythm and we all became attuned to looking and listening, but it was Gee who spotted the leopard prints in the sand. And we soon found him, lolling on a termite mound eyeing up a zebra foal. But the zebra had him in their sights and when he made a move, six of them formed a barricade and chased him away. In Moremi, one of the best ways to see the Delta up close is from a mokoro, or traditional canoe. With a long wooden pole, my Botswanan gondolier steered me along the narrow channels.

Skimming across the water was utterly tranquil; the only sounds the splash of the pole and the gentle swish of reeds as we passed. Metallic-blue malachite kingfishers darted among the vegetation, dainty jacanas hopped between lily pads, while majestic fish eagles circled overhead. Later, as we stopped to let elephant cross our path, a baby — still young enough to have a fuzz of reddish hair across its back — turned and trumpeted sweetly in our direction. But behind was a far more fearsome adult. Enormous ears flapping, trunk waving, she started towards us until we were close enough to see her long eyelashes. Then she abruptly pulled up, gave a loud snort and lumbered off to join the rest of the herd. There were smaller creatures, too. Perhaps a pair of wiry black-backed jackals, outsized ears poking out of the grass, a splendid tawny eagle surveying its terrain from a high branch of a dead tree, or red lechwe leaping through the water. We saw all this and more. Who needs gourmet food or a pillow menu? After nine nights immersed in the bush, learning from a fi rst-rate guide, showering under the Southern Cross and being woken by an elephant’s breath reverberating against my tent, I’d realised that it was this undiluted connection to the wild that was priceless.

Humans may have been given designated areas to sleep but these weren’t always respected by the resident wildlife, and the wild dogs that interrupted our breakfast weren’t our only visitors LETAKA SAFARIS


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa



OPPOSITE FROM LEFT: Al fresco breakfast on the floodplains of the Okavango Delta; coming across a sleepy lion on a walking safari in the Khwai region. ABOVE: The break of dawn. Photographing sunrise over the Okavango Swamps from the camp. BELOW: A red-billed francolin in Moremi Game Reserve


SAFARI PLANNER QGetting there South African Airways,

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic fly direct to Johannesburg, from where you can fly to Kasane in Botswana with South African Airways. The writer was hosted by Yellow Zebra Safaris ( on Letaka Safaris’ Northern Highlights mobile safari. It is all-inclusive with the exception of international and domestic flights. QWhen to go The Northern Highlights trip (Kasane to Maun, taking in Chobe

National Park, the Khwai Concession, Moremi Game Reserve and the Okavango Delta) runs on fixed departure dates from April to November. The best time to visit is in the cool, dry season between May and October. Days are warm but nights can be cold in June, July and August, with the hottest daytime temperatures in October. Rains start in November and continue to April, with the heaviest rainfall from December to March. QHealth Consult your GP about recommended vaccinations and antimalarials.

We asked Grant Reed of Letaka Safaris to advise us on how to make travel in Botswana more affordable 1 Participation mobile safari If you’re happy being hands-on, pitching your tent, sharing the toilet and bucket shower, doing the washing up and helping to dismantle and set up camp, this is the cheapest option. 2 Self-drive If you’re confident driving a 4WD, going off the beaten track and having close wildlife encounters, you can your hire your own vehicle and use public campsites. The main costs will be fuel and food. 3 Go in the green season Safari lodges often cut their rates by as much as a third between December and March. But the rain can make some roads impassable and wildlife is harder to spot.

Travel Africa | January-March 2018


Mobile safaris across Botswana: getting you up close and personal


James Gifford Photography Specialist photographic safari workshops

Dinaka - the ultimate Kalahari experience

Come on safari, improve your photography and capture images of a lifetime.

Guiding matters

Brent and Grant Reed were born in the foothills of the Magaliesberg Mountains and came to Botswana in the mid-90s as young conservationists and guides. Letaka, in the local Setswana language, means “reed” and with both Reeds being tall and slender, the “Letaka Brothers” was an inevitable nickname. So when they decided to start their own mobile tented safari operation in 2000, Letaka Safaris was born. Their vision was to create a safari experience that focused on the standard of guiding and the wilderness aspect, rather than excessive luxuries that are an inevitable barrier between you and the wilderness. The brothers soon became aware of the absence of safari guide training schools in Botswana. There simply was nowhere for an aspiring guide to learn the trade. So, in 2004 they opened Okavango Guiding School, and since then have trained hundreds of guides in Botswana and sponsored many local students who could not afford training. People from all over the world come to join these courses, not to become a guide but for the privilege to train alongside guides and learn this amazing skill-set. Learn more:


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

Chobe’s Hidden Gem We came out of Africa to take you back

For over 20 years, Muchenje Safari Lodge has enjoyed a unique position to the west of Botswana’s famed Chobe National Park. 7KH RZQHUĥPDQDJHG ORGJH sits on an escarpment with glorious views of the Chobe River, its seasonal ÀRRGSODLQV DQG 1DPLELD¶V Caprivi Strip beyond. Here, guests can enjoy extensive game drives in D UDUHO\ĥYLVLWHG VHFWLRQ RI Chobe, as well as game walks and night drives, which add immeasurably to the wildlife experience. |

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



HOURS IN WINDHOEK Resident Annabelle Venter gets under the skin of the Namibian capital, exploring its architecture, gardens, museums, restaurants, cafés, bars and shops


Explore your environment It’s a good idea to rise early in Africa, not least of all to catch the birds as they are most active in the mornings. Serious twitchers can contact the Namibia Bird Club to join a Sunday outing. Our gorgeous, near-endemic rosy-faced lovebirds can be seen roosting under the eaves at both Mediclinic Private Hospital and the National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) on Orban Street. Listen for the European bee-eaters hunting overhead in the summer months, too. Take a walk in the NBRI gardens between 8am and 5pm to view what is flowering. My favourite spot is the lily walk after the fi rst rains, where you might see the Crinums blooming if your timing

is right. There’s also a guided walk from 8am until 10am every second Saturday of the month, hosted by the Botanical Society of Namibia. If you have the time and a vehicle, visit the Daan Viljoen Nature Reserve on the western outskirts of the city, just 20 minutes away. Again you’ll see birds, antelope and interesting vegetation on the circular drive. Top it off with a meal or coffee at the restaurant or take a picnic and sit beside the dam. This was a favourite escape from the city for me when I fi rst arrived in 1988. If you would like to support a less-publicised conservation initiative, then visit the Namibia Animal Rehabilitation Research and Education Centre in Brakwater, just north of the city, where Liz Komen and her team rehabilitate primarily raptors caught in human-wildlife confl ict. Coffee break After connecting with nature, it’s time for coffee and cake, which we do so well in Windhoek. The Stellenbosch Market is my favourite and is situated in the Bougain Villas on Sam Nujoma Drive, which leads out to the airport. If you visit in winter, be sure to grab one of the chairs by the fi replace and order a cappuccino. If you arrive here after 5pm, have a glass of chilled dry pinotage rosé in the courtyard outside and watch the Windhoekers fi nish their working day. Another excellent spot is Cramer’s on Independence Avenue, opposite the AVANI Windhoek Hotel & Casino. Owners Ina and her husband Ernst-Ludwig are famous in Namibia for their handcrafted organic ice creams using milk from their organic-certified farm. A waffle with ice cream is a must to go with your cuppa. However, if you are just looking for a caffeine fi x, try Slowtown Coffee Roasters next door for a superior experience. Understanding the city and its people The most important advice I would give is to book a city tour for your fi rst day here, as it will put the historic and cultural experience properly into perspective when you explore the country on your own afterwards. One can live long in a place and still not know everything, so I decided to go


LEFT: Augusta Itembu serves the best cappucinos in town at The Stellenbosch Market. OPPOSITE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Verona Nangombe has lived through 92 years of Namibian history; an aerial view of Windhoek; flowers in the NBRI gardens; visiting the Independence Memorial Museum with a guide can enhance the experience; Slowtown Coffee Roasters; drinks at Joe’s Beerhouse


arlier this year, I found myself in an African capital with time to spare and a dearth of information on what to do there. I wanted to experience the feel of the place, see where the locals hung out, and visit more than just curio shops. It prompted me to reflect on how I could enjoy a taste of local culture if I had a few free days in my own capital city. As I write this, I’m about to celebrate 30 years of living in Namibia. Windhoek has changed dramatically and in a positive way during that time. Infrastructure is good, the economy is pushing ahead with extensive housing and commercial development, the city is clean and there are numerous options for visitors to do and see. Here are a few of my favourites:

Travel Africa | January-March 2016


Ethiopia Namibia

Organic veggie farms sell their produce [at the Bio-Markt], and French husband-and-wife baking team Nahenda and Lucien Jean-Baptiste wow the locals with their French pâtisserie seed-pods from her family, trading in mealie meal, coffee and sugar in return. Her family carried the supplies home in rags to roast the green coffee beans at home. In 1959, she moved to her present house in Katutura after the uprising at the Old Location. She shows me her old photos before posing with her favourite grandson as our special meeting comes to an end. Asser says although his beloved ouma loves to receive visitors, she is 92, after all, so he is expanding his repertoire of elderly inhabitants to visit, with whom you can experience a remarkable window into living history.

Retail therapy The Namibia Craft Centre (NCC) is a great place to shop for Namibian-made handwork and gifts. Omba Arts Trust creates employment for marginalised communities such as the Bushmen in Namibia, and the fabric, basketry, ostrich-eggshell jewellery and Himba-made PVCpiping bracelets are a must on your shopping list. The Ekipa Jewellery range of earrings is stunning, and if local sustainable leather goods are up your alley, try Fimbi Leather Art. Pop into the Omba Gallery on the mezzanine level to see the current exhibition. For the best quality arts and craft market, nothing beats The Shed Market, with hand-picked stalls supporting local artists and organic food producers. You’ll need to call Fabienne on +264 81 324 7974 to fi nd out when the next one is, as it is held only four times a year. The young at heart might also enjoy the Village City Market on Liliencron Street.

ABOVE: A pot at the Namibia Craft Centre (NCC), which creates employment for marginalised communities. OPPOSITE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Pastor Christine Voigts and members of the Christian Community Youth Group man the stand at the Bio-Markt; guide Asser Ndeutapo Manya enjoys the meat stalls at the Windhoek Single Quarters; rosy-faced lovebirds can be spotted around the city; woven bowls at the NCC; local produce at The Shed Market; the café at the StART @ The Wolfshack


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa


Time for lunch My personal favourite spot is the outside courtyard of the Stellenbosch Tasting Room, at the Bougain Villas, offering the best pizzas and kabeljou (‘cod’) fish in town. Of course, the famous Joe’s Beerhouse in Eros could be excused as part of your cultural tour, studying the local varieties of beer and traditional Namibian meat dishes on offer. Another favourite for fishy takeaways is SeaSource on Sam Nujoma Drive, also famous for its delicious gravlax and sushi. After lunch, visit the National Earth Sciences Museum, housed at the Ministry of Mines & Energy next to the Safari Court Hotel. Here you will fi nd the country’s gemstone history among other treasures. NAMIBIA CRAFT CENTRE

on a Heritage Tour with Asser Ndeutapo Manya of Asmara Tours, a charming young man with a gentle manner. A very knowledgeable and qualified guide, Asser specialised in heritage tourism and conservation management at the University of Namibia, then did a two-year internship with WWF and spent a year working for Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation. We arrange to meet at the Old Location in Pioneers Park. A barren and forlorn place today, it was once green and lively. In December 1959, the indigenous inhabitants there were forcibly removed to Katutura (meaning ‘the place we don’t want to live’), as the colonial town of Windhoek expanded. From here, we visit the Independence Memorial Museum on Robert Mugabe Avenue, a new multi-storey building that houses the history of German and South African occupation, war and, fi nally, the independence of Namibia in 1990. From the top of this imposing structure we can see the Alte Feste (‘old fortress’) next door, which is infamous for its concentration camp, set up 40 years before Auschwitz and so ‘successful’ that it was used as a role model by Hitler. Our next stop is the Single Quarters in Katutura and after buying two monkey oranges we head over to Asser’s favourite stall to introduce me to Namibian street food. Here, beef is cooked over open flames, sliced and wrapped in newspaper, spiced and eaten on the trot. It’s where the locals all have lunch. Asser has a fi nal surprise in store for me, before we end the trip at the popular women’s initiative, Penduka. We’re off to visit his grandmother, Verona Nangombe. Sitting on the verandah, resplendent in a vermillion dress and sunglasses, Ouma (‘grandmother’) Verona does not expect us but welcomes us warmly and invites me to sit by her side as she begins to talk. She is 92 years old and explains that she comes “from the fi rst house in Windhoek. There were just two Damara houses behind the municipality, at the hot springs, and one belonged to my grandmother.” She proudly explains that, although she never knew him, her maternal grandfather was Curt von François, captain of the German colonial troops, who built the Alte Feste in 1890 and founded Swakopmund two years later. There’s a twinkle in her eye as she regales me with stories of her upbringing and life in then-South West Africa. She relates how the late mega-businessman Harold Pupkewitz started small, coming to buy skins, bones and

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



If you are a book lover, stop by Foto Namibia, at the NCC, which has an excellent selection of local literature from novels to history, reference books, field guides and coffee table books. Outside the NCC, in the parking area, is second-hand bookshop Orumbonde Books owned by the entertaining Wolfram Hartmann accompanied by his ridgeback dogs. Round the corner is Uncle Spike’s Book Exchange if you need to exchange a novel for your trip, or try the comprehensive new-book store Book Den on Puccini Street. Arty stops The National Art Gallery of Namibia on Robert Mugabe Avenue has several galleries to browse through. Pashuka (meaning to be ‘enlightened’) is a quiet reference library situated downstairs and has essential reading for learning more about Namibia’s art history. The brand-new contemporary art gallery StArt @ The Wolfshack is situated on Macadam Street and open from 4pm until 7pm on weekdays. The two young Namibian-born owners are Helen Harris and Gina Figueira, both fine art (sculpture) graduates who will welcome you and explain the current exhibition. If you visit on a Tuesday, pop in to the Organic Box next door to stock up on locally produced foods. It operates on pre-order but there is always surplus produce to buy off the shelf, but is only open on Tuesdays. The Franco Namibian Cultural Centre is well known for art exhibitions but lesser known are the art movies on offer in the evenings. Food & drink Before you depart for your trip around the rest of Namibia, stock up on supplies at Maerua Superspar, which boasts a decent health-food section, German delicatessen, and

generally good, clean fare. If you are in Windhoek on a Saturday, visit the Bio-Markt at the Stephanus Church in Kenneth Kaunda Street. Organic veggie farms in Okahandja sell their produce here, and French husband-and-wife baking team Nahenda and Lucien Jean-Baptiste wow the locals with their French pâtisserie. The Wine Bar is a favourite, and here you’ll find the cosmopolitan Windhoek crowd catching up on the day’s events. After all, it’s true to say that if the locals are there it must be good. Chilled music and great vino by the glass, at tables under indigenous thorn and olive trees, is a great way to watch the sunset. Hotel Thule in Klein Windhoek rests on top of a hill overlooking the valley and was once a family home. Book table number 1 at the Terrace restaurant, especially at full moon so you can watch the moon rise over the bush while you hold a cold Hansa draught in your hand. If you feel like some post-dinner music, the National Theatre of Namibia hosts classical music concerts with visiting soloists on some evenings. Alternatively, check out the latest exciting musicals presented by the College of the Arts.

INSIDER TOP TIP MARGO BISHOP, ATI HOLIDAYS QYou can enjoy some of the best tipples in

Windhoek — the Tafel and Windhoek lager — by joining a brewery tour. To discover more of Margo’s secrets about Windhoek, visit

SAFARI PLANNER QGetting there Air Namibia flies daily

between Frankfurt and Windhoek. There are also daily flights between Windhoek and Cape Town and Johannesburg. Ethiopian Airlines also regularly flies to Windhoek from Heathrow via Addis Ababa. From the airport, you can either hire a car or take an airport shuttle into town. Alternatively, your guesthouse could arrange a transfer. QBook a tour The writer arranged a fourto five-hour city jaunt with Asser Ndeutapo Manya of Asmara Tours for roughly US$27, which includes a hat, street food and insurance. He also runs night tours for those wanting to know the rhythms of the city after dark. He can be contacted on +264 81 332 7516. QWhere to stay Windhoek has hotels suitable for every budget. The Olive Exclusive All-Suite Hotel is a great high-


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

end option. The Utopia Boutique in Klein Windhoek, owned by the N/a’an ku sê Foundation, is another lovely place to stay, with a popular coffee shop next door. If you’re looking for self-catering, Arebbusch Travel Lodge on the southern side of town is excellent. Or if camping appeals, stay at Urban Camp, which may not sound glam but is perfectly acceptable. If you’d prefer to stay slightly out of town, River Crossing is a great lodge on the outskirts, overlooking the bush, but still close to everything. QWhen to go Any time. The summer rainfall begins from January until April, so it is lovely and green in April and May. However, winter (May to October) is a good time as it is a pleasant temperature during the day (not too relentlessly hot) and cool at

Etosha NP Skeleton Coast Windhoek


Namib-Naukluft NP


night. Be warned, it can be very hot and humid in December. QFurther reading The Bradt Guide to Namibia (5th edition) by Chris McIntyre; Katutura: A Place Where We Stay by Wade C Pendleton; Lords of the Last Frontier by Lawrence G Green.

N A M I B I A tel: +264 (0)61 256580






v el sh o p

fax: +264 (0)61 256581

4x4 Double cabs (with or without camping equipment)

AT THE HEART OF WINDHOEK That’s what matters to me.

4x4 and 4x2 SUVs • Compact sedans 8, 14 & 23 seater buses (with or without a driver)

Centrally located, close to the city’s key attractions and restaurants, AVANI Windhoek is the ideal place to start your Namibian odyssey. Stay a few days to get to know our friendly people and explore Windhoek’s museums, restaurants, shops and other attractions. 129 Independence Avenue, Windhoek, Namibia +264 61 280 0000 | Tel: +264 61 249239 / Mobile: +264 81 122 2500

Travel Africa | January-March 2018


Tailor-made, guided self-drive and mobile safaris across Namibia

Looking for fresh ideas? With around 30 years travel experience in and around Namibia and southern Africa, our consultants have a wealth of knowledge and experience to ensure that your travel aspirations are exceeded. Whether you are after a tailor-made safari, self-drive or fancy something a bit different, such as a y-in safari, horse riding, volunteering or hiking, we can assist you in ďŹ nding the best destinations to meet your desires. Or try one of our scheduled safaris. Put us to the test: tell us your interests and see what you make of our suggestions.


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa





faris in ‌ a s e v i r -d f e sel ia and beyond d a -m r o l i Ta a, Namib Botswan


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Our wealth of experience and in-depth knowledge of the incredibly diverse parts of Namibia and its neighbouring countries enables us to offer tailor-made guided fly-in safaris, special interest group or self-drive tours. Tel: +264 61 253992/7

Travel Africa | January-March 2018




top spots for

For a relatively small country, Malawi harbours some impressive avian riches. Dominic Couzens reveals the best places to go


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa



alawi is a small country that punches well above its weight as a birdwatching destination. Part of the reason is the sheer, delightful practicality: distances are manageable, there is some excellent accommodation, the people are famously friendly, it is very safe and, above all, it has eclectic birdlife. The country is like a supermarket. While many of the species are well-known brands, throughout the store are a range of very rare and localised specials that are as easily available as the more routine fare. The specials are found in all the main habitats, but particularly the evergreen forest in the far north and south. With more than 650 species found in a country half the size of the UK, the possibilities for birding are many. However, here are the best sites:

OUT FISHING: Malawi is rich in waterbirds. A greenbacked heron feeds along the shore of Lake Malawi


Senga Bay Lake Malawi is about 580km long from north to south, so it seems only appropriate to include at least one spot on its shores. The best for birds is probably Senga Bay, just to the east of Lilongwe and easily reached. The scarce Böhm’s bee-eater is arguably the highlight, but in a nearby marshland the uncommon rufous-bellied heron occurs, along with occasional ducks such as the white-backed duck and African pygmy goose (below, yes, it’s a duck). Otherwise, there is a decent range of typical species and, of course, you can enjoy seeing the lake’s truly incredible variety of fish while snorkelling.



Liwonde National Park This hot, lowland reserve, with its elephant, hippo and crocodiles, feels like a typical African safari destination, but in true Malawi style, holds a rich range of special birds that are difficult to see elsewhere. The park is astride the Shire River that drains Lake Malawi to the south, attracting some thrilling

TOP: An African fish eagle swoops for a fish in Nkhata Bay, Lake Malawi. RIGHT: The scarce African pygmy goose, the smallest of Africa’s wildfowl JOHN WATKINS / FLPA


species such as the African skimmer, Pel’s fishing owl and white-backed night heron, which you may search for on boat safaris. Add in a dazzling array of localised birds such as the Lilian’s lovebird, Böhm’s bee-eater (opposite, bottom left) and brown-headed barbet, as well as large numbers of commoner African waterbirds (ducks, herons, storks and ever-present fish eagles), and you have a superb all-round site.


INSIDER VIEW ON BIRDING IN MALAWI Avian specialist guide Abasi Jana, of Central African Wilderness Safaris, tells Henry Bevan his tips on how to become a better birder TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF I have been working for Central African Wilderness Safaris for nine years now, but I was born and brought up in Harare, Zimbabwe. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MALAWIAN BIRD? The wattled crane (opposite, far right). ANY TIPS FOR BEGINNERS? Have a field guide and binoculars with you, learn about the habitat each species prefers and record your sightings. HOW CAN ONE IDENTIFY THE BIRDS ONE SEES? Look at the habitat, the size and shape of the bird, the colour pattern and the behaviour. These keys will quickly get you to the right group of species so you know exactly which field marks to look for. WHY IS MALAWI SPECIAL? The country boasts more than 600 species. There are many spectacular or fascinating birds that are more readily found here than in any other part of Africa. WHAT IS THE BIGGEST THREAT TO BIRDS HERE? Without doubt, human-caused habitat loss. HOW CAN OUR READERS AID THE CONSERVATION EFFORT? They can help conservation programmes by sharing their skills and educating others about the dangers facing birds and other wildlife. ALEX WALKER’S SERIAN


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

Mount Mulanje After visiting Thyolo and Zomba, Mount Mulanje will come as a pleasant surprise, particularly if you enter by Ruo Gorge. The imposing hillside cloaked with large chunks of dense forest will cheer your heart and make you want to skip to the 3001m summit of this impressive inselberg. The path is adventurous, there is a rushing river and, of course, it teems with birds. They are harder to see than in the smaller woodland patches, but the thought of good populations of Thyolo alethe, silvery-cheeked hornbill, yellow-throated apalis and many others should bring you here. Scarce and black swifts swoop over the crags.


Thyolo Mountain There is hardly any forest left here, and while that is a tragedy, it does mean that, for a birdwatcher, some very rare montane species can be found easily, including the eponymous Thyolo alethe (related to the European robin.) While this is a skulker, the green-headed oriole — a rarity to bring shivers down every African birder’s spine — haunts the treetops. Other good birds include the African broadbill and bar-tailed trogon, and they are all quite easily seen on a single visit.


Viphya Plateau This upland area, also known as the Viphya Mountains, lies just south-west of the large town of Mzuzu, in central-northern Malawi. It isn’t as good as Nyika, but does hold some Afro-montane forest, miombo, scrub and grassland within endless pine plantations. It plays host to some captivating birds, although many are, perhaps, beloved mainly by real enthusiasts. Among these are the singing cisticola, southern citril, white-eyed slaty-flycatcher and Bertrand’s weaver.


Lilongwe Nature Sanctuary It is a small reserve — at just 150 hectares — a little scruffy and surrounded by the urban sprawl of Malawi’s capital, but anywhere that allows you to catch up with the African broadbill, so tricky in many places, is sacred ground to birders. Several other excellent species are easy to see here, including African black duck, occasional African finfoot and the gorgeous red-throated twinspot, and there are many glittering beauties such as the scarlet-chested sunbird (left) and Schalow’s turaco to keep the casual visitor interested.


SAFARI PLANNER QGetting there Kenya Airways, South African Airways and


Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve The irresistibly named white-winged babbling starling is the ornithological poster-boy for this park to the south-west of Nyika, along the Zambian border. The starling occurs in the tall miombo woodland, mainly on slopes, and moves around in flocks in the treetops making — you guessed it — babbling sounds. There are plenty of other good species here, including the localised racket-tailed roller (above right). Visitors will also enjoy the plentiful game and lots of commoner birds such as eagles and parrots.

Dzalanyama Forest Reserve You don’t watch birds in Africa for long before you learn to appreciate the value of miombo woodland (well-spaced Brachystegia trees on poor soils) for a range of specialised birds. This area, only an hour west of the capital, is Miombo Central, one of the finest areas of its kind in the world. There is a veritable host of unusual species here, which have the exciting habit of appearing in large, fast-moving mixed flocks. Periods of quiet are broken by birding pandemonium. The many specials here include the pale-billed hornbill, Souza’s shrike, Stierling’s woodpecker and miombo tit and you never know which cluster will include which species. There are also wet areas with a completely different range of delights. Even with no other species present, Dzalanyama would be worth a visit just to see the Anchieta’s sunbird, one of Africa’s most strikingly beautiful birds, which feeds on the proteas.



Ethiopian Airlines all fly to Malawi (Lilongwe or Blantyre), with routes involving an aircraft change at their respective national hubs (Nairobi, Johannesburg and Addis Ababa). Most people will need a visa to enter, but these can be obtained easily enough on arrival. QWhere to stay The writer travelled courtesy of Malawi Tourism and Central Africa Wilderness Safaris. Some recommended accommodation includes: Heuglin’s Lodge in Lilongwe (comfortable, friendly, good pool and a birdfilled garden); Huntingdon House in Thyolo (in a gorgeous laid-back location with a wonderful garden); and Mvuu Lodge in Liwonde National Park (right on the river, with wildlife on the doorstep, quite literally). Nyika NP QWhen to go Any Vwaza Marsh time of year can be Wildlife Reserve excellent. The rainy season lasts from Lake November to April, Malawi which is when most birds are breeding and (until March) MALAWI migrants from Europe Lilongwe are around. Senga Bay Lilongwe NP QHealth Check Dzalanyama Forest with your GP or local Reserve travel clinic which vaccinations you need; Liwonde NP malaria occurs here Zomba Plateau and beware of bilharzia Mount Mulanje in certain areas of Lake Malawi. QFurther reading The Birder’s Guide to Africa by Michael Mills; Southern African Birdfinder by Callan Cohen, Claire Spottiswoode and Jonathan Rossouw. ARIADNE VAN ZANDBERGEN


Zomba Plateau This highland region, rearing to 1800m above Zomba town and the surrounding plain, is a popular tourist area, with hiking, rock-climbing, fishing and horse riding. Amid the lakes and waterfalls, there are also a few remnant patches of forest that play host to some highly sought-after birds, with the showy white-winged apalis (found in very few places worldwide) and yellowthroated apalis (only found in Malawi) as the stars. Other interesting evergreen forest birds include the white-starred robin, Malawi batis, white-eared barbet and green twinspot, and there are a host of bulbuls and warblers to entertain the enthusiast.


Nyika National Park The largest and most famous wild site in Malawi, this is a mixture of montane forest and rolling grassland situated on a high-altitude (2000m) plateau in the north-west. The air is fresh, the scenery stunning and the diversity of birds — 400 species — is the highest in the country. And you have big herds of game thrown in. The grassland birds include the gorgeous blue swallow, various spurfowls, Denham’s bustard and wattled crane (far right), while in the forests you can find endless bulbuls, sunbirds, warblers and flycatchers. Most sites in this large area are easy to reach by road, quite a bonus in Africa

OPPOSITE, FROM TOP: A pair of yellow-breasted apalis in Liwonde; a scarlet-chested sunbird. THIS PAGE, FROM LEFT: A Böhm’s beeeater; a wattled crane. TOP: The uncommon and localised racket-tailed roller, found in Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve Travel Africa | January-March 2018


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January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

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Travel Africa | January-March 2018



A wildlife lover’s

Zambia From bat swarms and birding bonanzas to leopard encounters and little-known migrations, William Gray presents a guide to Zambia’s definitive, spine-tingling experiences


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

BAT ATTACK: Between October and December each year, about 10 million straw-coloured fruit bats descend into a tiny patch of evergreen swamp forest inside Kasanka National Park KATE SIEDEL

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



EYES ON YOU: A leopard peers through lush grass in South Luangwa National Park. RIGHT: Shoebills occur in only a few specific areas in central and eastern Africa, all of which are remote and difficult to access. This individual, in the Bangweulu Wetlands, was rescued from captivity and reintroduced to the wild


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

Some of South Luangwa’s leopards are bold enough to hunt by day — stealing through the thick cover of the park’s riverine forest, pausing to fix you with a nonchalant stare that instantly sears your memory


hirty years have past since my first visit to Zambia. Bouncing around the country in the back of a bright yellow overland truck, it fuelled my love of African wildlife. Three decades later, I still have sketchy memories of a fat python stretched out on the floodplains of Lochinvar, freshly gorged on a lechwe fawn; a leopard slinking along a dry river gully in the Luangwa Valley; and herds of elephant, easily spooked, drifting like grey smoke through the mopane forest of Kafue National Park. Back then, Zambia felt raw, untrammelled. And it still does. Every time I set foot in one of its vast wildernesses and smell the pepper-sweet tang of the savannah, or hear hippo chuntering away in the river, I can’t help feeling that I’ve returned to the wild heart of Africa.

Valley of the leopard Your gaze is never still during a game drive in South Luangwa National Park. Eyes dart from one ebony tree to the next, flitting through the twists and turns of old river channels and probing every shadowy bushwillow thicket. There are leopard out there — probably in higher densities than anywhere in Africa — but they are masters of camouflage. You wonder how many have watched you pass, lying unseen, draped like spotted sashes in the sun-dappled canopies of Natal mahoganies. It makes the encounter, when it comes, all the sweeter. Some of South Luangwa’s leopards are bold enough to hunt by day — stealing through the thick cover of the park’s riverine forest, pausing to fix you with a nonchalant stare that instantly sears your memory. They’re far more interested in the bushbuck, impala, puku and other smallto medium-sized antelope that form the bulk of their diet. South Luangwa’s combination of dense cover and abundant prey is ideal for an ambush specialist. Add darkness and the stage is set for nocturnal drama that will literally have you on the edge of your seat during one of the region’s legendary night drives.


Walking in an African Eden The leopard might steal the limelight in South Luangwa, but it’s the small wonders gleaned on a walking safari that are often the most rewarding. Norman Carr pioneered walking trails here in the ’50s and they are now available at several lodges — either as short morning or afternoon strolls, or multi-day jaunts between remote bush camps. Walking single-file, like hominids from a distant past, a footloose

foray into South Luangwa’s 9050sq-km mosaic of woodland, grassland and wetland will hone your senses to every crackle of leaf and whiff of dung. Your guide will translate the graffiti of animal tracks around a shrinking lagoon, or share nuggets of bush lore rooted in birdsong and medicinal plants. With luck, you might glimpse distant game: a herd of Luangwa’s endemic Thornicroft’s giraffe, spindly legs quivering in the heat haze, or a herd of Cookson’s wildebeest — another of the valley’s specialities. But they’re usually very wary. They’ve seen you coming. Far better to quietly stake out a riverbank and spy on hippo, all twitchy ears and flatulence, in the water below. Time your visit right and you could be surrounded by migratory carmine bee-eaters, swirling over their riverbank nesting burrows like pink sparks, or be treated to a quelea fly-past — tens of thousands of the weavers pulsing across the river in a frenzied murmuration. Statelier are the fishing parties of herons, yellow-billed storks, marabou storks and great white pelicans that gather in shrinking pools towards the end of South Luangwa’s dry season. Scan nearby trees and you may well see a pair of African fish eagles — their plaintive, gull-like cries carrying high above the valley’s backing track of churring doves and double-bass ground hornbills.

Fireflies and blazing paddles The cry of the fish eagle is also quintessential Zambezi — and ideally experienced while paddling a Canadian canoe through the backwaters of Lower Zambezi National Park. Fringing the northern bank of the Zambezi, this beautiful reserve merges riverside curtains of fig, ebony and sausage tree with an open woodland of winterthorn acacia, rucked up against a 1200m-high escarpment. It’s one of the best places in Zambia to see elephant, sometimes in herds 100-strong as they wade across shallow river channels in search of fresh forage or seek shade under the winterthorns. Buffalo are also a common sight, grazing on islands while cattle egrets flap around them like loose laundry. Just as walking safaris add a certain frisson to exploring South Luangwa, canoeing in Lower Zambezi tingles with the prospect of a hippo encounter. It’s polite to tap on the side of your canoe when approaching hippo territory — they’ll usually surface and watch while you paddle in a wide arc around them. Getting on the same eye-level as a semi-submerged hippo or punting past a family of elephants drinking at the water’s edge are perhaps the iconic moments of a Lower Zambezi canoe trip. It pays, however, to stow your paddles occasionally and go with MIKE DEXTER

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



Kasanka plays host to the planet’s largest mammal migration. By day, the bats festoon every branch in a seething, chattering mass, but when dusk falls they take flight, filling the sky with a pepper-storm of beating wings with herons, hammerkops, storks and pelicans — but it belongs to none of these groups. It is a loner, both in habit and taxonomy. Imagine a dodo on stilts. Then add some serious attitude. That enormous clog-shaped bill is no party piece — it’s a lethal weapon more than capable of wrenching lungfish from their burrows or striking out at snakes, turtles, young crocodiles and even lechwe fawns.

the flow, drifting past a colourful procession of avian beauties, from white-fronted bee-eaters and malachite kingfishers to the sought-after Narina trogon and Meyer’s parrot. Linger into dusk and you might even be treated to a mesmerising display of fireflies sparking through the riverside forest.

Where the bats hang out Fancy birds and fireflies are not the only weird and wonderful things to be found in Zambia’s forests. Each year, for about 90 days from late October to mid-December, a small patch of swamp forest in Kasanka National Park plays host to the planet’s largest mammal migration. Around 10 million strawcoloured fruit bats choose this spot as a seasonal roost. By day, they festoon every branch in a seething, chattering mass, but when dusk falls the bats take flight, filling the sky with a pepper-storm of beating wings. After a night’s feasting, the horde returns, creating an equally spellbinding pre-dawn spectacle — best appreciated from Fibwe Hide, perched 18m off the ground in a mahogany tree.

A mini Serengeti The shoebill is Bangweulu’s unexpected menace. Venture to the Busanga Plains in the far north of Kafue National Park, however, and you’ll find more ‘traditional’ African predators. Lion, cheetah and wild dog roam this 750sq-km swathe of seasonally flooded grassland where termite mounds and ‘tree islands’ of sycamore figs prick an otherwise uncluttered horizon. Watch the sun rise through early morning mist strung in thick webs over Busanga’s floodplains and you will immediately fall under the spell of pure wilderness — herds of puku, red lechwe, wildebeest and zebra drifting like spirits through the golden haze, while the guttural roars of a lion mingle with the distant whooping of hyena. Large herds of buffalo pour onto the plains when receding floods reveal fresh fodder. The open grasslands are also the perfect stage for kori bustards — the world’s heaviest flying bird — to strut their stuff. Hippo thrive in year-round pools and swamps, while the wooded fringes along the southern edge of the plains offer varied habitat for no fewer than 16 species of antelope, including roan, sable, kudu and eland.

Weird wetland wonders


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

Busanga is not the only place in Zambia offering a ‘Serengeti-style’ gathering of large mammals. In the west, Liuwa Plains National Park hosts its very own migration — some 45,000 blue wildebeest arriving from Angola at the onset of the rains in late October or early November. They join a smaller throng of zebra, red lechwe and tsessebe. Wildlife numbers haven’t always been so prolific in Liuwa — the wildebeest population, for example, has more than doubled in the past 15 years, while wild dogs have only returned to the national park in the last decade. Poaching and illegal hunting in the wake of the Angolan civil war decimated the lion population, leaving a single lioness known as Lady Liuwa. After several unsuccessful attempts to introduce male lions to breed with her, Lady Liuwa died last August. The future of Liuwa’s lions now lies with Sepo (meaning ‘hope’), a lioness introduced from Kafue. Join a mobile safari to this remote, little-visited and wonderfully wild grassland and you might be lucky enough to glimpse one of her cubs — perhaps the most poignant and memorable encounter any lover of Zambian wildlife could dream of.


Zambia’s Great Migration


As if bats on a Biblical scale weren’t enough, Kasanka National Park has another wildlife ace up its sleeve. What makes it all the more remarkable is that it can be witnessed from the very same hide used for bat vigils. This time, however, it’s eyes down, scouring the undergrowth for a glimpse of an enchanting, yet secretive antelope. The sitatunga is amphibious — splayed hooves and water-repellent fur allow it not only to run across spongy areas of marsh, but also to dive underwater and hide with just its nose above the surface when threatened. Kasanka lies on the soggy fringes of Bangweulu, ‘where the water meets the sky’. Seasonal floods cause these extraordinary wetlands to expand and contract, pulsing like a living creature. At its greatest extent, Bangweulu can cover nearly 10,000sq km. When the grassy floodplains are a foot deep in water, huge herds of black lechwe — an aquatic antelope endemic to the wetlands and numbering around 50,000 — can be seen leaping through the shallows. For birders, a boat trip or walking safari can tick off many of Bangweulu’s 433 species. As well as ducks and geese galore, the wetlands are home to Montagu’s and pallid harriers, wattled cranes and Denham’s bustard. Serious twitchers will withstand rising damp for a glimpse of the swamp flycatcher or rosy-breasted longclaw, but it’s a sighting of the rare shoebill that fills most visitors’ bucket list. Largely silent and solitary, like a steely-blue statue snagged in dense stands of papyrus, the shoebill shares similarities

ZAMBIA’S EMERALD SEASON Between December and April, the wet season in Zambia brings heavy downpours; unsealed roads become impassable and many lodges and camps close. However, there’s also a positive spin-off: with the rain comes lush new growth, a time of verdancy that stimulates herbivores to give birth and birds to start breeding. National parks are far less busy with tourists, while lodges that are open generally charge far less than at other times of the year. The so-called green or emerald season is not only ideal for birdwatchers, it’s also a boon for photographers who revel in the clear, rain-flushed atmosphere. Lodges that are accessible during this time, such as Mfuwe Lodge in South Luangwa, offer special interest safaris such as boat trips. CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Boating through the ebony forest during the emerald season in South Luangwa; Thornicroft’s giraffe in dry season; vast herds of buffalo on the Busanga Plains, during the rains. OPPOSITE: A fruit bat in Kasanka



Travel Africa | January-March 2018




March-April This is one of the best times to visit the Bangweulu Wetlands to see the flooded plains liberally sprinkled with black lechwe.

April As floods recede on the Busanga Plains in the northern part of Kafue National Park, large herds of grazing animals arrive in search of fresh grass.

May Wild dog puppies start to venture into the open from their breeding dens.



June Although it varies depending on local conditions, this is generally the time when walking safaris (left) can start.

July Eastern white pelicans and wattled cranes congregate in large numbers on the Busanga Plains.

July-November Huge herds of red lechwe, puku, zebra (left) and other game gather on the Busanga Plains, eagerly watched by lion, cheetah and other carnivores. Access can sometimes be difficult until the end of August.

AugustSeptember Migrant carmine bee-eaters (below) arrive to nest in South Luangwa National Park, forming large, noisy colonies on the riverbanks. Blue-cheeked bee-eaters tend to arrive in the Lower Zambezi a few weeks later.

August-October Fishing parties of herons, storks, pelicans and other waterbirds gather in pools in South Luangwa, becoming increasingly concentrated as the dry season progresses.

As temperatures continue to build during the dry season and the land feels increasingly desiccated, game tends to concentrate around rivers and pools. Buffalo and elephant can often be seen in large herds.

October-November This is a good time to witness mass flocks of red-billed queleas swarming over dry grasses or pulsing over rivers.

November Thunderstorms herald the wet season and provide dramatic photo opportunities — and uncomfortable humidity.

November-December The annual migration of blue wildebeest arrives in Liuwa Plains National Park. Millions of straw-coloured fruit bats congregate in a patch of swamp forest in Kasanka National Park.

December-January Mango trees fruit, attracting everything from elephant (below) and baboons to parrots and pigeons.


When the rains abate, migratory birds depart and the land starts to dry, allowing access to lodges that were forced to close during the wet season. This is also the ideal time for spotting shoebills in the Bangweulu Wetlands.

May-November The dry season is generally the best time for spotting leopard in South Luangwa — there’s less vegetation to obscure views.


January-April Travel by boat along the Luangwa River during the emerald season when herons and weavers are all-of-a-flutter around their nesting colonies, many mammals give birth and flowering trees bloom.




January-March 2018 | Travel Africa


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Travel Africa | January-March 2018


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January-March 2018 | Travel Africa




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Why you should visit ZIMBABWE NOW

Our publisher, Craig Rix, urges readers to visit his homeland sooner rather than later, to capture the atmosphere and help boost the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s development

High spirits. Traversing the new SkyWalk, comprising two walkways suspended over Mutarazi Falls in the Eastern Highlands. Alongside is the SkyLine, a 400m-long, 500m-high zipline, possibly the most picturesque in the world CHRISTOPHER CRAGG / FAR AND WIDE ZIMBABWE


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa


itting in a cold Oxfordshire office, it was thrilling to watch the scenes from Harare and Bulawayo as the recent ‘transition’ of power in Zimbabwe unfolded. It was a deeply emotional time; Zimbabwe is where my soul and roots lie. Above all, I was struck by a feeling that, for the first time in so long, we were witnessing Zimbabweans expressing themselves freely, with abandon and sincerity. The open-armed embrace across cultural, racial and religious divides gave testimony to the reality that Zimbabweans are good people, honourable, dignified, respectful and very welcoming. There is a reason why visitors consistently talk about the friendliness and warmth of her people. It was wonderful to see this released so freely for the world to see. I sincerely hope that travellers will now embrace Zimbabwe with enthusiasm. We started Travel Africa 20 years ago, in part, because on our international travels we had been surprised to hear a perception of Zimbabwe that didn’t reflect the nation we knew. Yet over the years it was clear that many people were hesitant to visit because of their concerns about the political environment. The journey to a reliable democracy in Zimbabwe can now begin, and a spirit of optimism and hope that has lain within her people has been released. In itself, that is good reason to get on a plane as soon as you can: to capture the mood of excitement and show your support as they try to sustain momentum moving forward. One of the great social benefits of tourism is the exchange of ideas, the conversation that happens when people from different societies meet. This exposure is particularly important right now to Zimbabweans and the freedom of expression they seek, and it will help visitors to better understand the local environment. More importantly, tourism is a cheap creator of employment; and perhaps the one thing Zimbabweans want more than anything is a job. On average, every employed Zimbabwean currently supports between 7 to 11 other family members, taking into account the extended family culture. Companies who have reduced staffing levels in recent years will swiftly take on new people as more guests arrive. But that is only the beginning of the story. As the economy crumbled, most operators became deeply embedded in development projects and conservation programmes. Tourism is now funding education and healthcare in rural areas, and by recognising the value of tourism, villagers

are invested in the protection of wildlife and the environment. It is truly remarkable to think that your visit to a small lodge will have such a dramatic, and immediate, impact on whole communities. And the great thing is, Zimbabwe is ready. Of course, it is well known that the country has a wonderful range of attractions for such a (relatively) compact country, most of which are highlighted on pages 104-105. Each is serviced by accommodation options for all budgets, and Zimbabwe’s respected guide-training programme continues to ensure that safaris are safe and stimulating. Despite the economic challenges, the infrastructure is remarkably well maintained — it is in better nick than most countries in Africa. It is a very easy country to drive around, especially now that the numerous roadblocks that have been in place in recent years have all but disappeared. This opens up the Eastern Highlands, Great Zimbabwe, Lake Kariba and Matobo Hills. One can comfortably drive from one destination to another in just two-to-four hours on good quality roads. Since the new Victoria Falls International Airport was opened a year ago, more than 127,000 additional aircraft seats have been added on the route to Victoria Falls, which sits at the fulcrum of a most extraordinary wildlife region. More longhaul carriers are expected to launch services in this year. Internal transport is already boosted by, among others, the recent launch of flights servicing Gonarezhou in the south, and the revival of the 22-hour ferry service across Lake Kariba, an old favourite for self-drive visitors. One of the first deals announced by the new government was a plan to expand the airport at Harare. There’s been a surprising amount of investment in recent years. Not only have many lodges and camps been refurbished in anticipation of a surge in tourism, but new shopping malls, bars and restaurants have emerged. When I was in Harare last March, I was struck by how busy restaurants were every day mid-week. There is a buoyant middle-class, who have somehow found a way to endure and who will be central to the ongoing transition and emerging economy. One senses there is an excitement in the air, an optimism that needs and deserves to be sustained. Your visit, sooner rather than later, will certainly help. And, importantly, you will have a glorious time. When you do go, give Zimbabwe my love.

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



Beks Ndlovu, African Bush Camps

PERSPECTIVES So how do Zimbabweans feel about the changes in their country, and why do they feel it is important you make a trip there top of your agenda this year? We asked a selection of people associated with tourism for their opinion.

“Zimbabwe has long been the safari darling of the tourism world, but the perceived political and economic crisis over the last decade or so kept people away. Now that there has been a change, people will be excited and start returning. The way in which the transition happened — how peaceful it was — is some of the best PR any country could wish for. It demonstrated the beautiful nature and resilience of our people. “I believe that tourists should visit Zimbabwe now, before the floodgates open. Be the pioneers of rediscovery! Zimbabweans are eager to share their passion and knowledge, and our prices are very competitive compared to many other countries. I believe that Zimbabwe offers one of the wildest, most remote, and truly authentic safari experiences. But it is far more multi-dimensional than just a standard safari offering. “Because the operators that have hung in here over the last 15 years have demonstrated an acute dedication to conservation, guests can clearly see how tourism paves the way for wildlife conservation to be a conduit for prosperity and development in local communities. This serves to affirm our shared humanity, challenge perceptions and enrich curious, energetic safari travellers who are open to discovery.” BEKS NDLOVU, GUIDE AND CEO OF AFRICAN BUSH CAMPS


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

“I believe that tourists should visit Zimbabwe now, before the floodgates open. Be the pioneers of rediscovery!” “Tourism is constantly evolving, and demands by travellers force service providers to constantly improve their skill set”

Evans Mabiza

Ours has been a journey of dark shadows turning into sorrows, hunger and shattered hope. A once-great nation brought low, a mighty people reduced to poverty in a rich country. But recent events have hinted at a new dawn, and I have never felt so excited and energised. Witnessing Zimbabweans re-introduce themselves to the world through one voice, regardless of colour, race or creed, made me realise that we are the most peace-loving people under the sun. “Despite its political challenges, Zimbabwe remains a welcoming, safe destination. This is very evident here in Bulawayo, ‘the City of Kings’, where visitors will receive a royal welcome. “Revenue from tourism contributes to funding conservation initiatives, many of which boost development and education. In areas like Matobo, tourism is necessary to help protect our rhinos and the wider environment. “Tourism is constantly evolving, and demands by travellers force service providers to constantly improve their skill set. Some tour operators give scholarships, while others have built schools. Your visit will make an immediate difference.” EVANS MABIZA, ROWALLAN PARK, CHILDREN & NATURE CONSERVATION TRUST

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



Ross Kennedy

“The new political dispensation is showing a clear ‘open arms welcome’ policy to the world, and we are working closely with the appropriate ministries to enhance the ease of doing business with Tourism Zimbabwe”

“Tourism creates jobs for the locals, development in the area and improves the lifestyles of the local community” “Tourism provides employment to most of the people of Zimbabwe. It is the main industry in the resort town of Victoria Falls. It creates jobs for the locals, development in the area and improves the lifestyles of the local community. Without tourist arrivals, there would be no activity here. Tourists should visit Zimbabwe because it has a vast number of attractions, diversity in culture, abundance of wildlife and people are very hospitable.” LISTER NYATHI HOSTS MEALS FOR TOURISTS IN HER HOME IN THE CHINOTIMBA HIGHDENSITY SUBURB OF VICTORIA FALLS. THE TOURS, ARRANGED BY WILD HORIZONS, PROVIDE A CULTURAL EXCHANGE AND VALUABLE INCOME FOR LOCAL PROVIDERS.


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

“Zimbabwe was, is and shall be once more, a jewel in African tourism! With the Victoria Falls at its hub, four other World Heritage Sites and a diversity of destinations, experiences and accommodation across a spectacular landscape, we have so much to offer. “Why visit Zimbabwe in 2018? Zimbabwe is a proven, high-quality destination. Over the last three years there has been significant investment in tourism, most notably the opening of the new Victoria Falls International Airport, which helped generate a 25 per cent increase in international arrivals in 2017, attracting new long-haul carriers. More are expected to start direct flights this year. There’s been a knock-on effect, with improved internal travel options, and the private sector is investing in hotels, lodges and restaurants. New shopping malls have been built, attracting international brands, and there’s renewed creativity in the arts. With this energy and ambition comes a natural lifting of standards and service delivery. “The new political dispensation is showing a clear ‘open arms welcome’ policy to the world, and we are working closely with the appropriate ministries to enhance the ease of doing business with Tourism Zimbabwe. We all recognise the two key upsides of tourism are the creation of employment and the generation of foreign currency earnings, both of which Zimbabwe needs in big measure!” ROSS KENNEDY, CEO OF AFRICA ALBIDA TOURISM

Lister Nyathi

Tendai Mdluli

“For quite a long time Zimbabwe was subjected to political unrest and virtual economic collapse, and the number of tourists declined. However, following the recent changes, the time to visit Zimbabwe is now. “When it comes to tourism in Zimbabwe, the average person like myself gets to benefit the most. For example, I support at least 10 members of my extended family, and this is the trend with most of our employees. Wilderness Safaris employs more than 100 local community members in our camps, and on average each supports seven dependents, which shows how important tourism is to the local economy. “Tourism also helps to support community programmes such as Children in the Wilderness, which runs educational Eco-Clubs, nutritional programmes for learners and school rehabilitation projects in the villages adjacent to Hwange National Park. “In Hwange, we also support anti-poaching operations, and as a result all large mammal species in our areas have increased over the past 16 years, with fewer snares being removed each year. I am proud to say if you really want some quality time in the wilderness, Zimbabwe is your destination.” TENDAI MDLULI, PROFESSIONAL GUIDE, WILDERNESS SAFARIS

“In Hwange we also support anti-poaching operations, and as a result all large mammal species in our areas have increased over the past 16 years”

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Travel Africa | January-March 2018



“Set up in 2006, the African Bush Camps Foundation is an example of how tourism has an enduring impact on the wider community. It is wholly funded by a US$10pppn contribution from the safari operations of African Bush Camps and donations from guests. “An increase in tourists through the camps will result in additional funding for our programmes, which focus on education, conservation, community infrastructure and empowerment. The idea is that by linking these benefits to tourism, communities learn to positively value wildlife and nature as resources for improving their wellbeing. Currently, about 1400 people benefit from our projects directly, and about 3000 indirectly. “It is important that tourists come to Zimbabwe to witness these achievements. Tourist revenues will be essential for the rebuiding of our economy.” OBERT MANYEZA, TRUST MANAGER, AFRICAN BUSH CAMPS FOUNDATION Obert Manyeza

“An increase in tourists through the camps will result in additional funding for our programmes, which focus on education, conservation, community infrastructure and empowerment.”


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

THE OVERSEAS VIEW “An anecdote I often share from my fifth visit to Zimbabwe, back in 2013, sums up the wide gap in perception that exists about a country that, even during the ravages of the past decades, always remained safe and welcoming to travellers. I’d been staying at the wonderful Victoria Falls Hotel when a duty manager at the time told me Robert Mugabe had visited a while back. As his entourage entered the lobby, the disgraced leader stopped to chat with a woman and compliment her baby. She told him she was a British holidaymaker and he allegedly replied that she was most welcome as the British were his special friends. “I watched the fall of Mugabe recently with great satisfaction, although this was somewhat tempered by Mnangagwa’s accession. Can a leopard really change its spots? We shall see. But what hasn’t changed is Zimbabwe’s preparedness to once again be the force it had become in African tourism by around 1990. “I can tell you with certainty that Zimbabwe is a place to visit now because it has never really closed. National parks such as Mana Pools and Hwange remain wild and exciting; the lodges and hotels that support the livelihoods of so many beleaguered workers retain an undiminished style and service; and the Zimbabwean people extend a welcome that is as impressive for its warmth as it has been for their enduring stoicism. I will certainly be returning as soon as possible.” MARK STRATTON, TRAVEL WRITER

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No fences, pure nature... welcome wildlife enthusiasts, hikers, birders and fishermen to Lake Kariba

The best source of online information for travel to the Zambezi’s wild areas. Listings, blogs, advice and more...

Experience Zimbabwe with the Amalinda Collection: four luxury and intimate safari camps and lodges set in the remote wilderness areas of Hwange National Park and the Matobo Hills National Park.

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



ZIMBABWE HIGHLIGHTS Fans of Zimbabwe are quick to point out that the country packs a diverse range of attractions into a relatively small country (by African standards). Here’s a selection of the more popular places worth including on an itinerary.

Matobo Hills

1Lake Kariba

One of Africa’s most underestimated attractions. When the Zambezi River was dammed to construct a hydro-electric power station, an immense inland sea was created, 270km in length. A remarkable and dramatic rescue ordeal (Operation Noah) was undertaken to save wildlife from the rising waters. Take a houseboat to explore the wildlife-laden shores or angle for bream or tigerfish. Petrified forests add mystery to some of the most intense sunsets you will see anywhere. Want a place to chill out? You can’t go wrong with Kariba.

2Matusadona National Park

An enchanting landscape of flat plains and rugged mountains, this national park sits on the southern shore of Lake Kariba. Wildlife populations remain strong; the park is popular for walking safaris. Used as a sanctuary for black rhino, a strong conservation effort persists.

Mana Pools

3Mana Pools National Park Victoria Falls

3 Mana Pools 4 Mavuradonha

Lake Kariba 1 Victoria Falls

5 6 7 Kazuma Pan NP 8 Hwange



12 Harare


13 Naletale Ruins

Bulawayo 10 Matobo NP 9


Eastern Highlands

14 Great Zimbabwe

Gonarezhou 15

Gonarezhou National Park

Sunset on Lake Kariba


A stunningly beautiful wilderness sitting between the Zambezi escarpment and the river, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a favourite park for wildlife lovers, famous for both canoeing and walking safaris. Close-up encounters with its abundant wildlife are commonplace, and its forested floodplains, sandy riverbanks and the four main pools that give the park its name (Mana means ‘four’ in the Shona language) make this a particularly dramatic park.

4Mavuradonha Wilderness Area

Mavuradonha — meaning ‘Land of falling water’ — forms the eastern part of the Zambezi escarpment in Zimbabwe, its steep mountainous landscape giving rise to numerous waterfalls and providing sanctuary to a healthy wildlife population, including elephant, various antelope, leopard and 290 species of bird. A hidden gem.

5Chizarira National Park

About 50km inland from Lake Kariba, Chizarira is a remote land of sweetwater springs and seeps, hidden valleys and



January-March 2018 | Travel Africa


Further reading: A selection of articles on Zimbabwe are available online at We’ve also published two issues of Travel Zimbabwe, which can be found in digital format at

pockets of lush vegetation. Very little tourism has reached here in recent years, but efforts are being made to reinstate an infrastructure. Hardy self-drive adventurers will be well rewarded.

6Victoria Falls

One of the great natural attractions. Stretching over a width of 1700m and standing 108m tall, Victoria Falls is the world’s largest waterfall, always impressive but utterly breathtaking at its ground-shaking fullest. The numerous exciting activities offered around the falls — from whitewater rafting to ziplining, bungee jumping and others — have made it Africa’s adrenaline capital. Take time to linger in the rainforest. There are plenty of wildlife experiences nearby, including in the Zambezi National Park, just 5km upstream.


Kazuma Pan National Park

Another secret gem with oodles of potential to develop. It is dominated by swaying savannah grass plains, encircled by more familiar mopane woodland. Seasonal flooding inundates the pans, which draws in thousands of migratory birds. Elephant, big cats and antelope are seen here.


Hwange National Park

Known for its thriving population of elephant, at 14,651sq km, Hwange is Zimbabwe’s largest protected area and most-visited park, just two-to-three hours from Victoria Falls. With 108 species of mammal and over 400 species of bird recorded, Hwange actually has one of the highest animal diversities of any park on the planet. No wonder it has attracted researchers, which has ensured, among others, a healthy wild dog population. Several lodges and camps make all areas of the park visitable.


Matobo National Park

Many who explore Matobo talk of its almost spiritual ambience. It is unlike anywhere else in Africa. Its rambling landscape of whaleback dwalas, precariously balanced boulders and granite kopjes is

inspiring. The ancient San people believed the area to be sacred, and more than 3000 of their rock art sites are found here, earning it its UNESCO World Heritage status. The park has a high concentration of black eagles, leopard and ground hornbills, and also protects healthy populations of white and black rhino, which attract the tourism that helps further protect them.

10 Bulawayo

Zimbabwe’s second city is certainly worth spending a few days in. It’s charm lies in its colonial buildings, wide avenues, delightful museums (Natural History and railway), Hillside Dams and nearby World Heritage-listed Khami Ruins, which provide an intriguing look into the ancient Kingdom of Butua.

11Naletale Ruins

The remains here are of a city dating back to the Rozwi Empire in the 17th century. The Rozwi defeated the Portuguese in 1693 when they tried to make inroads into the plateau that now forms much of modern-day Zimbabwe.


Despite a rapidly growing population and economic challenges, Harare is surprisingly well-maintained and is arguably one of Africa’s most picturesque and organised capital cities. Its central business district bustles, the tree-lined suburbs are serviced with modern shopping centres and the restaurants and pubs are perpetually busy. It is home to the National Archives, National Gallery and National Botanic Gardens, and on its outskirts is Lake Chivero and Domboshawa, both popular weekend excursions.

13Eastern Highlands

The northern ranges of Nyanga and Vumba are just three hours drive from Harare, and will transport you to Scotland-like highlands. Mountain roads wend their way through pine forests, hiding coffee shops, inns, tinkling streams and picturesque fishing lakes. Vestiges of Iron

Age settlements and other archaeological sites pepper the park, and there are numerous trails and plenty of birdlife. The famed botanic garden is well worth a visit. The latest attraction is the world’s highest zipline and an accompanying walkway that traverse a 500m-high chasm enabling visitors to look at the Mutarazi Falls face on. To the south, the Chimanimani National Park is a trekker’s dream. Accessible only by foot, the park’s bulbous mountain peaks, jagged pinnacles, waterfalls, crystal-clear river, savannah valleys, stone forests and numerous caves, provide a stunning destination for those looking to escape to nature.

14Great Zimbabwe

The namesake of the nation, these ruins date from the 11th century, making them the oldest structures in southern Africa. Built entirely of stone, the city is believed to have once housed up to 25,000 people. Artefacts suggest the civilisation here was part of a trading network stretching as far as China. There are two clear focal points — the Acropolis (Hill Complex) and the Great Enclosure, some 500m away on the plain below. Both are equally dramatic, with their elegant curving walls, consuming nearly a million individually shaped pieces of stone. Its 15,000 tonnes of material make it the largest ancient structure in Africa south of the Sahara.

15Gonarezhou National Park

In the far south-east corner, the 5000sq km Gonarezhou is the second biggest and most remote of Zimbabwe’s parks, which is a shame because it is spectacular. A trip here will take you through a continuum of ever-changing ecosystems, ranging from floodplain thickets, sandveld forests and wetland. Three rivers form natural shelters for more than 400 species of bird and abundant wildlife, including the legendary tuskers that give the park its name (gonarezhou translates as ‘the wilderness of elephants’). A new charter service will make it easier to visit, and visit you should.

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



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January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

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Travel Africa | January-March 2018





Chaz Powellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ambition was to walk the length of the Zambezi in a single trip. He tells Olivia Rook why he chose this great river and relays some of the challenges he encountered en route TIM ROBERTS (2)

WHY DID YOU CHANGE YOUR ORIGINAL START DATE? Sub-Saharan Africa in November is the beginning of the wet season and I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t take that into consideration. I planned to just head off and start walking but I soon realised the


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

WHAT WAS YOUR ROUTE AND HOW FAR DID YOU TRAVEL? My route followed the Zambezi from its source to the Indian Ocean. I stayed on the Zambian side of the river and stuck to it as closely as possible all the way. I used the paths nearest to the river, which took me

OOD (2)

journey required more preparation. Changing the start date to 10 August allowed me to walk through the floodplains and other tricky sections when the river is at its lowest and these places become accessible.


WHAT MADE YOU BECOME AN EXPLORER? From a young age I loved camping and walking around the Welsh mountains. As I grew older, I became more interested in exploring remoter parts of the world.

through many remote fishing villages. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THE ZAMBEZI RIVER? I wanted to take a wild journey to places that are relatively unknown and undiscovered,

than that, I kept taking small rest stops to escape the sun and to top up my energy levels. You have to keep your wits about you at all times, as there is a lot that can kill you.

GO ONLINE: You can read Chaz Powell’s blog about his expedition along the Zambezi River at

choice because of its pioneering conservation efforts and antipoaching programmes. WHAT WAS THE HIGHLIGHT? The highlight of my trip was the good folk I met along the way. I was often helped by humble people who have nothing, yet the happiness they had from just being alive was inspiring. OUR READERS ARE FAMILIAR WITH MOST OF THE POPULAR SITES ALONG THE ZAMBEZI, BUT HAVE YOU MADE ANY DISCOVERIES? The Ngonye Falls near Sioma are just as impressive as the Victoria Falls in their own special way. I was the only person there when I visited; and the fact that they are not as accessible makes them little known.

as well as to challenge myself in the harshest of environments. HOW DID YOU PREPARE? I practised with smaller treks and expeditions but walking 1600 miles is a tricky one to prepare for. It’s as much about the mental preparation as the physical demands. TELL US ABOUT YOUR DECISION TO FUNDRAISE FOR THE DAVID SHEPHERD WILDLIFE FOUNDATION The Foundation is a wonderful charity. I thought it was the perfect

I wanted to take a wild journey to places that are relatively unknown and undiscovered, as well as to challenge myself in the harshest of environments

WAS IT DIFFICULT COPING ON FOOD RATIONS IN REMOTE AREAS? Luckily, the villagers fed me. There were days when I didn’t eat much, but also days when I managed to eat a lot. I lost weight and, at times, my energy levels suffered. It was always going to be one of the challenges. WHO WAS THE MOST INSPIRATIONAL PERSON YOU MET? The missionaries out in the wild places are an inspiration for the local people; the work they have done and continue to do out there is incredible. CAN YOU TELL US SOME OF YOUR BEST SURVIVAL TIPS? My Water-To-Go bottle, which has a built-in filter, has kept me alive so far. I drank straight from the river and didn’t have any problems. Other

YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE? There were many mentally taxing times. As well as the happy greetings, I also received negative hostility from some people. I was accused of being a witch, a devil, a ghost and many other strange things. On one occasion, I was told I was too high a risk to be let out among the villagers, so was locked up in a dirty and dark room overnight before I could make my escape the following morning. THE ZAMBEZI IS NOTORIOUS FOR ITS CROCODILE AND HIPPO POPULATIONS. WERE YOU NERVOUS ABOUT MEETING WITH THEM? I encountered quite a few! One day, a hippo popped out of the water a few metres from me. It gave me a look but then lowered itself into the water again. I had to respect that this was their home and I was just a visitor, so I tried not to invade their space. WHAT KIND OF WILDLIFE DID YOU COME ACROSS? Plenty of hippo, but luckily, hardly any crocodiles. I was invited to go fishing and we ended up watching a herd of elephant bathing just metres away; they didn’t seem at all fazed by our presence. Apart from that I heard lion calling at night, but luckily didn’t encounter any on the path. HOW DID THE EXPLORER BEARD COME ALONG IN THE END? It looked pretty good, but I had to trim down the wilder parts from time to time! DO YOU HAVE ANY FUTURE AFRICAN EXPEDITIONS PLANNED? PERHAPS YOU’LL FOLLOW IN LEVISON WOOD’S FOOTSTEPS AND TACKLE THE NILE? I’ll leave the Nile as Lev’s legacy: it’s a walk that took him years of planning. I have loads of ideas running through my head; it’s prioritising which one to do next that is the problem!

Travel Africa | January-March 2018







January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

Sleep on a Land Rover Northern Serengeti, Tanzania Height changes everything. Stand up straight and everything looks, well, exactly as we expect it to, but try lying down in the grass and your view of the world is that of a tiny mouse. Everything looks big, scary and daunting. But what if you viewed the world from on high? Sitting on the balcony of my Bush Rover Suite, looking down across corn-tinged savannah and the swirling Mara River of Tanzania’s northern Serengeti, I was starting to get a completely new angle, a giraffe’s-eye view, on these grasslands that I thought I knew so well. The Bush Rover concept is essentially a normal, deep-green Land Rover, which, with a few clever twists and turns, morphs into a luxury, raised tent — equipped with a double bed, wardrobe, sofa, balcony and, down below in what would normally be the back seats of the vehicle, a wood-panelled bathtub and sidemounted shower. And where the passenger seat should be — well, that’s the toilet. Complete with magazine reading material.

Of course, a ‘tent’ like this is designed to be nomadic and the Bush Rovers never spend long in one place, and what’s quite amazing about the whole thing is that it all quickly and easily folds back in on itself and can be driven to a new destination. They follow the migrating wildebeest in a great circle through the Serengeti. Whereas many companies offer mobile safari camps, these tend to move only twice in a year, whereas the Bush Rovers move four times in a year and this means that guests always have a front row seat to the migration drama. Back in the northern Serengeti, the sun was going down and from my lofty balcony perch I looked down on a large group of wildebeest streaming past below me. A giraffe, busy pruning the leaves of a nearby tree, also paused to watch the gnus rattle by. As he turned back to his leaves he caught sight of me. For a moment, he just stared before shaking his tail and settling back to eating. It was an action I liked to think meant he approved of humans with a giraffe’s perspective. STUART BUTLER

Sleep by a lighthouse

Sitting on the balcony, looking down across corn-tinged savannah and the swirling Mara River, I had a completely new angle, a giraffe’seye view, on these grasslands that I thought I knew so well


Pelican Point Lodge, Walvis Bay, Namibia Set on the sands of Walvis Bay, under the shadow of an old lighthouse, this hideaway has unrivalled views of the Atlantic Ocean. From a private deck, you can watch seals play in the surf or a flock of flamingos feeding in the nearby lagoon. The open-plan penthouse offers 360° views of the needle-thin strip of sand that parts the ocean and stretches out for 9km beyond the horizon. The remoteness is the special element here, as the crashing waves banish the hustle and bustle of city life.

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



Sleep underwater The Manta Resort, Pemba Island, Zanzibar Archipelago, Tanzania The Underwater Room at Manta provides a unique night’s sleep. There is nothing quite like peering out of your bedroom window into the deep-blue sea and watching fish swim past. The floating island is made up of three levels: the bedroom, the landing deck with toilet facilities and a roof furnished with a soft sun bed designed for sunbathing during the day and charting the stars at night. If you’re tired of gazing at the constellations, the underwater spotlights attract the shyer marine life such as squid, and octopus occasionally stick themselves to the glass panes. Underwater rooms are appearing all over the world in such places as Sweden, the Maldives and Dubai, but this is the only one in a blue hole whose edges are lined with coral and cool sealife. It is just the perfect place to sit and watch the world swim by.


The Blue Train, South Africa Imagine yourself on board a luxury long-distance train in 1920s Africa. What visions spring to mind? Immaculate, marquetry-panelled sleeping compartments attended by butlers in crisp livery, perhaps? The Blue Train is the direct descendant of the Union Limited and Union Express, the opulent and unashamedly louche trains that were the preserve of southern Africa’s wealthy elite during the glory days of the Witwatersrand gold and diamond rush. Evoking the grandeur of the past, it still has starched linen and panelled en-suite compartments. The fug of cigar smoke is gone but if your trip back in time wouldn’t be complete without a whiff of exotic tobacco, you can meander down the corridor to the Club Car. Every voyage aboard the Blue Train includes an excursion with a historical theme. Alighting with your fellow passengers, you grab a whistle-stop glimpse of Kimberley or Matjiesfontein, rounded off with a glass of sherry. Come nightfall, your butler unfolds the armchairs in your compartment into beds so that you can rock gently to sleep. And when morning comes, you’re greeted by that ever-changing African view once more. EMMA GREGG


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa


Sleep on a train

Sleep beside camels Karisia Walking Safaris, northern Laikipia, Kenya


Travel Africa | January-March 2018



Sleep in a tree tent Chongwe River Camp, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia At Time + Tide’s Chongwe River Camp, you can spend the night high on a ridge of the Zambezi Escarpment. It’s a matchless and nerve-tingling experience to snuggle down on a comfortable mattress suspended a metre above the ground, with nothing but a mosquito net between you and the vast, bejewelled universe overhead. The contraption, known as a Tentsile Tree Tent, takes the ‘sleepout’ experience one step further, giving the sensation of slumbering in a hammock in the wilderness. After dark, a carpet of stars emerges before you. The sounds of the night ring loud in your ears as you try to fall asleep: lions call, hyenas laugh and the soporific humming orchestra of nightjars, cicadas and tree frogs reverberate in the night. Wild dogs sometimes stray into the area, I learnt, but I was



January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

lucky and there was no sign of them… That would have been a little too close for comfort. Out on the escarpment, the rosy glow of dawn gently wakes you, as the golden orb rises above the rugged horizon and the African bush begins to stir, with white-browed robin chats, tropical boubous and other birds beginning their morning chorus in the nearby miombo woodland, dotted with amarula, tamarind and rain trees. The spectacular view of the valley below slowly unravels — stark, brown and parched at this time of year, since October is the hottest month, but breathtakingly beautiful nonetheless. On a clear day after the rains, you may see herds of elephant, buffalo, zebra and antelope in the lush valley below, with the Zambezi River and Zimbabwe beyond. LAURA GRIFFITH-JONES

Sleep in a tower Dodo’s Folly, Lake Naivasha, Kenya The extraordinary Dodo’s Folly is an eight-storey tower that often finds hippo and zebra grazing on the front lawn. The stately interior complements the grand exterior, and the tower is still the second family home to the man who built it: Dodo Cunningham-Reid. It feels homely, and the views from the verandah offer birding enthusiasts access to the egrets, herons and stalks that visit the shores of Lake Naivasha. Dodo’s Folly is overwhelmingly romantic, particularly at dusk and dawn.


Sleep on a film set Hôtel Sidi Driss, Matmâta, Tunisia The location of Luke Skywalker’s childhood home in the original Star Wars and its later prequels, this Matmâta village is adorned with the original set dressing, bringing to mind Lightsaber flashes. Experiencing another galaxy on Earth has never been easier.

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



Sleep in a cave

Behind each window pane is an exquisitely furnished room carved out of rock and perfectly integrated into the environment


Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve, Cederberg Mountains, South Africa From a distance, the boulders seem to shimmer. Step closer and youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll notice that glass disturbs the rockface. Behind each window pane is an exquisitely furnished room perfectly integrated into the environment. Staying at Kagga Kamma is like time travelling to the Stone Age but with an en suite, a double bed and a teaand-coffee station. Each cave has a sliding door that opens onto a small terrace so guests can enjoy the astonishing vista of the fynbos plains and the mountains beyond. Like any hotel, the Cave Suites are separated into different price points. The Premium Cave Suite is situated at the furthest end of Kagga Kamma, giving guests unrivalled views; and for those seeking more privacy, the Honeymoon Cave Suite is tucked away out of sight, blocked by a giant piece of sandstone.

Sleep on a dhow Inshallah, Ibo Island Lodge (pictured), Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique, and Tusitiri Dhow, Kenya and Tanzania Safaris can be more than driving jeeps on dirt roads to spot animals on the plains. They can involve sailing boats on the clean water of the wide-open ocean. The deck of a dhow, a traditional sailing vessel, is the stage for a sweepingly romantic experience. Daytime is spent island hopping, snorkelling or birdwatching, and as the red sky signals dayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s end, bedrolls are laid out, lanterns are lit and the sea soundtracks a good nightâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sleep. The dhow safaris operated by Ibo Island Lodge explore some of the last uninhabited islands in Africa and can be tailored to suit any adventurous urge. The crew cooks traditional cuisine and fresh seafood over an open fire. In Lamu, the emphasis is on having a different kind of beach break. The Tusitiri Dhow has been impeccably restored to its full traditional beauty. The open-air shower makes missing the awesome views difficult.




Sleep on a bus The Brandy Bus (pictured), Nairobi, Kenya, and the Grand Daddy Airstream Trailer Rooftop Park, South Africa This converted double-decker is an affordable boutique delight. A decent distance from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, this is a cosy end-of-safari stay perfect for the whole family. Relax by the outside fireplace and give the children something cool to brag about when they return to school. A similar experience can be found in South Africa by staying in the Grand Daddy Airstream Trailer Rooftop Park.

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



Sleep on a houseboat Umbozha, Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe The cabins of Zambezi Cruise Safaris’ houseboat, Umbozha (‘The Classy One’), offer every comfort, with air-conditioning, bright decor and an en-suite bathroom. Every night, you sleep blissfully after a delicious meal, with all the panoramic windows open to catch the gentle breeze. Alternatively, you can sleep out on deck under a mosquito net on a day bed, an enjoyable experience. The swimming pool on the front deck is a popular place to spend the afternoon, but there is also a tender boat bobbing along in the wake — the vessel used for safari activities. With its shallow draught and small size, it is capable of entering tiny bays and river estuaries in search of wildlife, birds, good fishing spots and the spectacular landscapes of the Matusadona mountain range.


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

Excursions include sundowners, when guests can experience one of Lake Kariba’s famously colourful sunsets and meet the iconic African fish eagle. An early morning excursion might provide you with tasty snacks, such as Zambezi bream caught amid much fun and laughter. Guests can also visit a fishing village, where fishermen show you the other species of fish caught in the lake and how they are conserved by drying them in the sun. The charming residents give you a fascinating insight into their lives. When we left the village, during my stay on Umbozha, a couple of bull elephants wandered across a little island and stopped close by our boat in the lake, pulling up plants from underwater with their trunks, shaking off the sand before eating them and completely ignoring our presence. SABINE GEBELE


Every night, you sleep blissfully after a delicious meal, with all the panoramic windows open to catch the gentle breeze. Or you sleep out on deck under a mosquito net on a day bed


Sleep in a Berber’s house

Sleep in a star bed


Loisaba Star Beds, Laikipia, Kenya The first star beds to appear in Africa capitalise on the continent’s magnificent night sky. A double bed on a deck has to be one of the best ways to experience the animal kingdom at night and to see the stars shine bright. Other star beds now exist, but nothing beats the original.

Ghougoult, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco Perched on a cliff edge, the tighremt (or ‘fortified house’) stands upright, like a sentinel, commanding the gate of the Assif n’Waqqa n’Ddaghour Gorge, the deep defile that nature has hacked through the rocky High Atlas Mountains from the remote, windswept Tizi n’Ghougoult (2860m), far above. After a day of unrelenting blue skies, the sun disappears and the first chill of evening brushes our bare arms. Hemmed in on all sides by unforgiving crags, we settle here for the night. In awe and wonder, we kneel on an earthen floor, almost in prayer, and gaze through the ornate iron grille of our otherwise plain room. The icy waters of the Assif n’Tazit River tumble distantly beneath us. A rough, earth track provides our only link with the outside world, yet we feel secure in our physical isolation. After all, the hospitality of our genial host is beyond comparison. Soon, delicious, sizzling lamb tagine, served with crude wheels of rustic bread, freshly fired by the women of the household in the clay oven concealed somewhere within the dark recesses of the house, is laid out before us across bright, hand-knotted rugs. This is followed by thick, creamy yoghurt, made from the milk of mountain goats, whose plaintive bleats we hear still rising from a nearby azib (a summer shelter for shepherds and their animals), along with golden Atlas honey from beehives scattered across the darkening valley. Early next morning, we wake peacefully to the sound of cockerels crowing. We sigh contentedly, quickly growing excited. We skip and tumble down a dusty track to the river below, throwing ourselves headlong, almost euphorically now, to enjoy the freshest of morning ablutions. We feel reborn. ALAN PALMER, TREK IN MOROCCO

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



Sleep in a tree The Dove’s Nest, The Hide, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe (pictured), and Tarangire Treetops, Tarangire National Park, Tanzania Elewana’s Tarangire Treetops and the Dove’s Nest, at The Hide in Hwange, make every child’s dream of sleeping in a treehouse a reality. This is a way of keeping the safari going after you leave the Land Rover, as the wildlife roam freely around, and sometimes under, the rooms. The views are staggering from the top of a tree, with wildlife as far as the eye can see, since the grasslands are a hive of activity. As the sun dips below the horizon, the honeydew light creates a haze that puts guests into a daze. At night, the atmosphere can be overwhelming as the stars blanket the sky, and animals call to each other. There is nothing as elevating as a stay in a place like this.



January-March 2018 | Travel Africa


Sleep in a boma Olpopongi Maasai Cultural Village, Tanzania The Maasai man jumps high in the air as the rest of the tribe chant. The campfire flickers, illuminating their delighted faces before the women join in with a chorus of beautiful Maasai song. The filling BBQ-buffet takes advantage of the traditional cuisine and the delicious cup of chai rounds the day off well. The Olpopongi Maasai Cultural Village is an immersive experience, banishing the exploitation caused by many travel companies that visit local tribes. Guests stay in the sparsely furnished boma, living like a Maasai tribesperson for a night. The village doubles as a museum, educating guests on how Maasai life has changed over time. A special emphasis is placed on the complex social issues facing women and how to empower them.


Image courtesy Andrea Porro +44 756 4061517

Lodges, Camps & Boutique Beach Hotels In Harmony With Africa

Discover the wild side of Park: Zambiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kafue National lodge on KONKAMOYA, the only the Itezhi Tezhi Lake Konkamoya Lodge ~ Southern Kafue National Park, Zambia

Travel Africa | January-March 2018


Unexplored Africa

BLOOD-ORANGE SKY: A glorious sunset on Tokeh Beach, Sierra Leone


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

Sweet Salone Given its history, Sierra Leone might not be on everybody’s bucket list. But when Sue Watt travels there, she discovers potential and optimism in this West African country. Photographs by Will Whitford e’re tiptoeing quietly through the forest, desperately trying not to break the silence. It’s not easy. Twigs snap underfoot, seeming to reverberate through the trees; dried leaves crackle and crunch, echoing in the stillness. “Sshh,” our guide Mohammed pleads, pointing up to the canopy. In a barely audible whisper, he reveals the reason for our self-imposed hush: “Diana monkeys — the rarest and most beautiful on the island…” With shards of sunlight streaming down on them like nature’s very own spotlight, five gorgeous monkeys, all black and white with occasional streaks of chestnut, are playing and preening above us. We’re completely entranced, watching these shy primates swinging through the trees for a few precious minutes. They spot us and vanish in a flash. Mohammed is beaming with pride: he rarely gets to show off the beauty and the beasts of Tiwai Island. Few visitors come to this tiny wildlife sanctuary in Sierra Leone. Indeed, few visitors come to Sierra Leone, full stop. But that’s about to change… This West African nation is infamous for its devastating decade-long civil war, which ended in 2002, fuelled by the diamond trade. In a cruel double-whammy, in 2014, just as Sierra Leone was enjoying a remarkable recovery, Ebola struck. The country went into lockdown as nearly 4000 people lost their lives. Sweet Salone, as locals call it, is now Ebola-free and back in business. Unusually, it’s the Sierra Leone Marathon that’s blazing the trail for returning tourists. In 2017, it won the

accolade of Best International Event in the Running Awards and was described by Running magazine as “the world’s craziest and most worthwhile marathon”. “Since we started in 2012, we’ve brought 600-700 runners here and they’re now all advocates for the country and its beauty,” Tom Dannatt explains. He’s the founder of UK charity Street Child, which organises the event, raising funds for children and providing much-needed support for Ebola’s 12,000 orphans. The run takes place around the large, lively market town of Makeni in the north, with around 160 international visitors and some 500 locals participating in distances of 5km, 10km, a half-marathon or the full 42km challenge. Before we pound the pavements on the big day, we visit some Street Child projects in a five-day package organised by the charity. We chat to village elders, parents, teachers and social workers. We play with kids in remote schools, kicking footballs around or making paper aeroplanes, and meet men and women in frenetic markets, caring for orphans with the help of Street Child. But most importantly, we see the joy in the smiles of Sierra Leoneans and the warmth in their eyes: that’s what makes this marathon so worthwhile. At 7.20am, in a sweltering 30°C, my 10km run kicks off. Spectators cheer us on outside their mud-brick homes, shouting “Oporto!” (‘White person’ in local Krio). Cheeky children highfive us as we pass and several people shout out, “Thank you!” The humidity is stifling and energy sapping but after one hour and one minute, I cross the finishing line to deafening cheers, exhausted yet utterly exhilarated.

Travel Africa | January-March 2018


Unexplored Africa

Mohammed is beaming with pride: he rarely gets to show off the beauty and the beasts of Tiwai Island. Few visitors come to this tiny wildlife sanctuary in Sierra Leone. Indeed, few visitors come to Sierra Leone, full stop. But that’s about to change

But there’s more to this beguiling country than the run. men, women and children left these shores in shackles for the New tour operator Africa Marathons — part of Tailormade New World; many died en route. Africa — now offers add-on trips after the event. Its co-founder We see their grim cells, the rooms where they were branded with burning hot irons once sold, and the graves Rob Morley knows and loves Sweet Salone. “The marathon and cannons that lie neglected in the grounds. Haunting is changing people’s perceptions — travellers are gradually regaining confidence in Sierra Leone as a safe destination,” and heavy with melancholy, it’s an important destination for he tells me. “There are so many positives here: their religious slave descendants who travel here from the southern states of tolerance and peaceful elections deserve credit, especially in America to understand their ancestors’ past. Thankfully, plans today’s climate. It’s early days and Sierra Leone’s still a work in are afoot to preserve Bunce’s heritage for future generations progress but it has huge potential and enthusiasm for tourism.” and to halt its creeping decline. We see that potential and enthusiasm on Tiwai Island. The abandoned buildings of the Africana Resort on Tokeh Sierra Leone’s first eco-tourism venture, this reserve on the Beach, ransacked during the war, tell their own story — one of River Moa benefits the eight communities living around it. good times in a country that once drew thousands of visitors to its Measuring just 12sq km, it has one of the world’s highest azure seas and palm-fringed beaches. I’m stunned by the beauty densities of primates, home to 11 different species and to of Western Area Peninsula’s coast: no wonder it became the rare — and elusive — pygmy hippos. Although the hippos playground for French celebrities and famous parliamentarians. evade us, we see nature’s beauty as we walk through forests Jungle-clad mountains fringe the horizon as we walk for with centuries’ old trees and squeals of chimpanzees. Otters miles on sand as soft as white pepper to reach River Number leave their prints on honey-coloured beaches and bats swarm Two beach, the setting for the iconic Bounty adverts of the out of ancient, sacred caves in nearby Niahun village, which 1970s. We wander past traders plying their wares of colourful is steeped in traditional culture: even the president made a fabrics, paintings and carvings on the shore; youths sell deliciously fresh juice in coconut shells; fishermen set off in sacrifice to the spirits here hoping to win the election. He did. From natural heritage to slave trade heritage, we head to dhows with white sails billowing in the breeze. Bunce Island, an hour by motorboat from the capital Freetown. And as the sun sets on our last day here, bathing the beach in Strangler figs and vines crawl around the crumbling remnants a glorious golden hue, I’m hoping it will rise on a brighter future of this once formidable fortress, as if they’re trying to smother for this resilient, brave and beautiful country. its tragic past. Our guide Abdulai Sankoh brings the OPPOSITE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Spice and rice stalls in bustling Lunsar Market; a little girl on Tiwai Island, a tiny wildlife island’s story to life. Between sanctuary that’s home to 11 species of primate and the rare pygmy hippo; cannons overgrown with strangler figs and 1668 and 1807, about 50,000 weeds on the ramparts of Bunce Island, Sierra Leone’s biggest slave trade port; a local lady walks along Tokeh Beach

Sierra Leone Essentials QGetting there KLM and Brussels Air fly to Lungi Airport, Freetown, via Amsterdam and Brussels respectively. The writer travelled with Street Child Sierra Leone Marathon and tour operator Africa Marathons, part of Tailormade Africa. Street Child offers five-day packages that include project visits, a workshop and the race, with all transport, meals and accommodation. Africa Marathons arrange flights, accommodation and tailor-made trips to Sierra Leone. It suggests a six-day add-on that takes in Tokeh Beach, Tiwai Island and Freetown. This includes a driver and guide in a 4WD vehicle, a Freetown city tour, boat trip and guided tour of Bunce Island, two activities a day at Tiwai Island and a Sea Coach airport transfer to Lungi Airport. QWhere to stay The writer stayed at MJ Motel in Makeni, a simple but comfortable motel near the town centre. In Tokeh Beach, she stayed at The Place, a very relaxing and luxurious 54-chalet hotel on the beach. Accommodation at Tiwai Island camp is in basic dome tents under shelter, with communal ablution blocks. It’s the only place to stay on the island. There are plenty of hotels in Freetown — Sue stayed at Hotel Barmoi, in the Aberdeen area of the city, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. QWhen to visit The next Sierra Leone Marathon takes place on 27 May. The wet season spans from May to October, with the heaviest rains falling in July and August, when rural roads can become impassable. QFurther information Visit the websites of the Sierra Leone Marathon (, Street Child ( and Sierra Leone Tourism Board (


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa



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The rhino horn trade Page 136

Understanding and protecting our natural heritage

Conservation heroes


Rian Labuschagne, Brighton Kumchedwa, Solomon Chidunuka and Lucky Ndlovu (pictured) were awarded the top prizes at the fifth annual Tusk Conservation Awards held in Cape Town last year. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu presented Labuschagne with the Prince William Award for Conservation, while South Africa’s former First Lady Graça Machel awarded Kumchedwa with the Land Rover-sponsored Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa. Chidunuka and Ndlovu were joint winners of the Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award. Archbishop Tutu said: “Here we realise just how much we are linked with all of nature. We wish to congratulate you most warmly for making it clear Africa can be beautiful.” HENRY BEVAN

Travel Africa | January-March 2018





AWF supports black rhino protection at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya

What lies ahead for the rhino? A future for rhino: this iconic species has been poached for years. Now is the time to save it from extinction


here are about 25,000 rhino in all of Africa today. This number becomes more meaningful – and painful – when you consider the rhino’s former strength on the continent: black rhino once numbered in the hundreds of thousands, perhaps up to 850,000, while southern white rhino were widespread in their range south of the Zambezi river until being almost driven to extinction in the late 1800s.


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

Thankfully, in recent decades conservation efforts have reversed the trend toward extinction. But in 2008, demand for rhino horn, especially in China, Vietnam and other Asian countries, led to a dramatic poaching increase. While in 2007 poachers killed a total of 13 rhinos in South Africa – which is where most of Africa’s rhinos live today (more than 80 per cent) – by the peak of the poaching crisis in 2014, that number was 1215. What fuels the demand? Many people who buy rhino horn use it in alternative medicine, even though rhino horn is made of keratin – the same materials that’s in our fingernails and toenails – and has zero medicinal value. Buyers also ‘use’ rhino horns to display as trophies. AWF and other conservation organisations responded to the rhino poaching crisis with a variety of conservation measures designed to stop the killing, permanently disrupt the trade, ensure that black-marketeers are prosecuted in accordance with the law, and curb demand. These measures have had encouraging results. Between 2014 and 2016, after seven years of dramatic rises in poaching rates, the number of killings in South Africa dropped slightly, to 1054. The tenuousness of this victory made a recent ruling in South Africa all the more distressing. This constitutional court decision in April 2017 overturned a 2009 moratorium


STOP THE KILLING, END DEMAND AWF strives to stop the slaughter of endangered species such as rhino, elephant and lion, while also stifling the dynamic markets of illegal wildlife products. Building the anti-poaching capacity of wildlife authorities is the first step, which includes providing technology for monitoring species’ numbers and threat levels. This information can then inform the development of conservation strategies. Our specific rhino work includes supporting the Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary in Kenya, a stronghold for the remaining black rhino population, where rhino share a 90 sq km fenced-in area with other wildlife. AWF has provided Kenya Wildlife Service with much-needed financial and equipment support for Ngulia and the surrounding wildlife zone. We’ve equipped the sanctuary with fences, ranger uniforms, camera traps and other equipment. We’ve also helped Ngulia make infrastructure improvements such as restoring and strengthening a pump system that feeds reservoirs on the sanctuary. Likewise, AWF has facilitated equipment procurement and skills training for rangers at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, a stronghold for black rhino in Kenya. AWF’s training of rangers in poaching law enforcement helps ensure that poachers find no loopholes to evade prosecution for their crimes once they’re caught. AWF also deploys trained sniffer dogs at transportation hubs in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to ferret out contraband. The dog-andhandler teams have increased the detection of illegal wildlife products trafficked through these ports, making more than 120 finds of rhino horn and ivory to date. Meanwhile, AWF’s awareness campaigns continue to educate global audiences about the real cost of wildlife products, highlighting how many iconic species are already under threat from habitat fragmentation and human-wildlife conflict before they even cross paths with poachers and hunters. In Vietnam and China, awareness campaigns have increased public understanding about poaching, the vulnerability of rhinos as a species and the fact that rhino horn is not a valid medicine.

LESSON ALREADY LEARNED? LOOKING BACK TO SHED LIGHT ON LEGALISATION QUESTION A 2016 study showed an “abrupt, significant, permanent, robust” increase in poaching after an international wildlife body decided to allow a limited trade in ivory South Africa’s 2017 decision not to maintain a ban on the sale or purchase of rhino horn could have devastating consequences for rhinos, which are being poached at alarming rates. The rhino breeders pushing for legalisation argue that a legal trade will undercut the value of black-market rhino horn and therefore reduce poaching. However, a 2016 study of a similar event – the limited sale of legal ivory – tells a different story. Solomon Hsiang of the University of California, Berkeley and Nitin Sekar of Princeton University looked at elephant mortality data to see if CITES’ 2008 decision to allow an experimental sale of legal ivory (collected from elephants that have died naturally) had slowed poaching. Their analysis of data collected by a global network of field researchers showed a 66 per cent increase in poaching rates. “We find that a singular legal ivory sale corresponds with an abrupt, significant, permanent, robust and geographically widespread increase in the production of illegal ivory through elephant poaching, with a corresponding 2009 increase in seizures of raw ivory contraband leaving African countries,” they wrote. Why the increase? Hsiang and Sekar believe re-legalising ivory purchases drew new consumers to the market and gave cover to poachers who mixed illegal product in with legitimate ivory. The findings are generalisable to other markets for products from species with slow reproduction rates, like rhinos, the scientists said. Below, you can see the trend upward in the discovery of poached elephant carcasses after CITES’ 2008 decision.


on domestic rhino horn trade. AWF unequivocally denounced this ruling, arguing that a legal trade could reverse important gains, much like the one-time ‘experimental’ sales of ivory did beginning in 2008 (see box, right). We also argue that legalising rhino horn trade can provide a lawful cover for traffickers. (In fact, the South African Department of Environmental Affairs admits it does not have the means to regulate and monitor legal rhino horn online trade.) Furthermore, legalisation sends a message that the market is thriving and could reignite fading old beliefs that rhino horn possesses medicinal properties.


Making a splash Say ‘African mammal’ and most people will immediately envisage elephants, lions and other celebrated beasts on terra firma. But the oceanic waters that wash the continent’s shores are also home to many marine species, including an impressive selection of whales and dolphins, many of which are easier to see than you might think. Mike Unwin reports



magine: you’re cruising the placid waters off Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago when, without warning, 35 tonnes of humpback whale (pictured) launches skyward beside your boat, crashing back down in an explosion of spray. Or, 5000km to the north, you’re finning with mask and snorkel through the warm Red Sea waters off Marsa Alam, Egypt, when a chorus of clicks announces a pod of spinner dolphins. The animals sweep past, twisting on lithe bodies to peer at your intrusion before vanishing into the blue. With a coastline stretching for more than 30,500km, it’s small wonder that Africa’s offshore


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

waters harbour a wealth of cetaceans (whales and dolphins). Indeed, at least 50 species have been recorded around the continent, from the colossal 30m blue whale, the largest animal ever known, to the diminutive 1.5m Heaviside’s dolphin (top right), endemic to the south-west coast. Location and season determine which species occur. Some, such as the Red Sea’s dolphins or the sperm whales off Mauritius, are permanent residents, finding what they need to sustain them yearround. Others arrive at particular times: the southern right whales that visit the Cape and the humpback whales that move


Today, a few bleached bones on the sands at Saldanha Bay and other abandoned whaling stations are all that remain of the slaughter. And numbers of many species have since recovered — so much so that a thriving whale-watching industry flourishes around much of Africa’s coast. South Africa has a designated ‘Whale Route’ walking trail stretching around the Cape, while the Indian Ocean coast is lined with hotspots, from Mozambique’s Ponta do Ouro to Kenya’s Watamu. Many islands — including Cape Verde and São Tomé in the Atlantic, and Zanzibar, Mauritius and Madagascar in the Indian Ocean — also offer excellent opportunities to watch these leviathans from a dedicated boat trip. In short, whales are everywhere, even where you may not expect them. Regular migratory movements of fin whales, sperm whales and orcas pass through the Straits of Gibraltar, for example, and some 28 cetacean species have been recorded in the Gulf of Guinea. Scientists are constantly surprised: rarities, such as Cuvier’s beaked whales, wash up on beaches where they have never before been seen; while in March 2017 aerial reconnaissance spotted an unprecedented gathering of more than 200 humpback whales off the coast of South Africa. So, don’t take your eye from the horizon. You never know when that telltale fin, fluke or spout might appear.

HAVING A WHALE OF A TIME: A humpback whale breaches, crashing from the ocean surface

SIX OF THE BEST WHALE-WATCHING HOTSPOTS The following are six prime locations in Africa for whale watching. There are many others. THE OVERBERG, Western Cape, South Africa Excellent shore-based whale watching, notably of southern right whales, which visit the warm, inshore bays from July to November; humpback and Bryde’s whales, common dolphins, orcas and others are also seen. De Hoop Nature Reserve, Plettenberg Bay and Hermanus are top spots. WATAMU MARINE NATIONAL PARK, Kenya Around 100km north of Mombasa, this protected coast is a haven for humpback whales from July to October. Transient species seen offshore at other times include sperm whales, Bryde’s whales and orcas. WALVIS BAY, Namibia Boat tours offer close encounters with Heaviside’s dolphins (pictured top), a locally endemic species, along with resident bottlenose dolphins. Southern right and humpback whales are also seen during migration. MARSA ALAM, Egypt Halfway down the Red Sea coast this popular resort is known for the resident spinner dolphins that frequent nearby Samadai Reef. Other dolphins seen year-round in the Red Sea include Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin, pantropical spotted dolphin, long-beaked common dolphin and Risso’s dolphin. BOA VISTA, Cape Verde Arguably the best whale-watching destination off West Africa, this Atlantic archipelago is an important breeding ground for humpback whales — not the Southern Hemisphere population that visits East Africa from the Antarctic but a Northern Hemisphere population that comes down from Iceland. TANGIERS, Morocco The Straits of Gibraltar, between Morocco and Spain, are rich in cetaceans. Resident species include striped and common dolphins and pilot whales (right). Orcas sometimes follow the tuna fishing boats, and both sperm whales and fin whales pass though the Straits en route to breeding grounds in the Mediterranean. Whale-watching cruises are organised from Tarifa, on the Spanish side.

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



up the Mozambique Channel, for instance, are both migrants, arriving during the Southern Hemisphere winter, having spent their summer feeding in the colder waters of the Southern Ocean and Antarctica. Key ocean events also draw cetaceans. For instance, the ‘Sardine Run’ — a mass migration of countless millions of these tiny fish, which heads eastwards each June and July around South Africa’s Wild Coast — draws gatherings of common dolphins thousands strong, along with Bryde’s whales, dusky dolphins and numerous other marine predators, from sharks to sea lions. It is easy to forget, however, that only relatively recently have whales and dolphins made the tourism agenda. Until just a few decades ago, these sophisticated, air-breathing sea mammals were more valued dead than alive, hunted ruthlessly around the world for their oil and blubber. Africa was no exception: the continent’s first whaling stations were established on the Cape and KwaZulu-Natal coasts during the mid-late 19th century, with six whaling companies operating out of Durban by 1912. By the mid-1960s, stocks of sperm, fin and other large whales captured off the South African coast were so depleted that the whalers had turned to smaller species, such as minke whales.


Fit for purpose Whales evolved about 49 million years ago from land-living ungulates, with their closest relative today being the hippopotamus. Like all mammals, they suckle their young on milk and must breathe air regularly. Their bodies exhibit a unique set of adaptations for their entirely aquatic lifestyle. This humpback whale illustrates many of them:

BLOWHOLE Modified nostrils through which a whale breathes air at the surface, located on top of the head, for ease of respiration. Toothed whales have a single opening; baleen whales have two. The form of a whale’s blowhole determines the shape of its spout, enabling many species to be identified at a distance.

BLUBBER A thick layer of blubber beneath the skin provides buoyancy, insulation, protection from predators and energy during migration (when the whale is fasting). In some polar species, it may be 25cm thick and account for half the animal’s body weight.

EYES Whales have small eyes but reasonable eyesight. The eyes are placed on either side of the head and thus produce two separate fields of vision.

INTERNAL ORGANS The lungs of a humpback whale can hold up to 5000 litres of air. The heart of a blue whale weighs 180-200kg — about 640 times greater than that of a human being.

THROAT The ‘pleats’ beneath the throat of baleen whales allow them to expand their mouth to take in huge volumes of water, which they then expel with the tongue.

BODY SHAPE A whale’s long, streamlined body is an adaptation for efficient movement through water; fixed neck vertebrae produce greater stability while moving at speed but mean it cannot turn its head.

EARS Whales have no outer ear. Instead, sound waves pass through the throat and along a fat-filled cavity to the inner ear.


HEAD The head of a baleen whale may account for up to 40 per cent of its mass, this great size maximising the amount of water it can take in one gulp while filter-feeding.



This fringe-like structure of keratin suspended inside the mouth of a baleen whale serves to sieve food such as krill or small fish taken in large gulps from the water. Known, misleadingly, as ‘whalebone’, it was once used as a support for corsets. Toothed whales do not have baleen but capture prey using their conical teeth.

These are modified front limbs, used for steering while swimming. Each contains the bones of four digits, a legacy from landliving ancestors. The flippers of humpback whales are especially large and also serve in communication and sexual display.

January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

SIZE Many whales have evolved to sizes far greater than any land mammal — a large blue whale weighs as much as 30 African elephants — by virtue of having their body supported in water. A whale’s anatomy cannot support this weight on land, hence the severe internal damage suffered during stranding.


Africa’s REALLY Big Five The following are the five largest whale species that you are most likely to encounter around the African coast. 1 BRYDE’S WHALE (ABOVE) (BALAENOPTERA BRYDEI) Resembles a small fin whale — long and slim, with grey body, pale underside and pronounced dorsal fin; around 13m; occasionally raises head or breaches but never waves tail before diving; occurs mostly around southern and eastern coast, often in warmer waters; gathers with smaller cetaceans during ‘Sardine Run’ off South Africa’s Eastern Cape; named after Johan Bryde (18581925), Norwegian consul who started commercial whaling in South Africa. 2 HUMPBACK WHALE (MEGAPTERA NOVAEANGLIAE) The best-known and most

abundant baleen whale worldwide, measuring up to 16m and 36 tonnes; a showstopper, with its tail waving, flipper slapping and spectacular breaches; identified by long pectoral fins, blunt dorsal fin on a humped back and white markings on underside; common around south, west and east coasts of Africa, arriving in winter (June-September) from polar feeding grounds. 3 SOUTHERN RIGHT WHALE (EUBALAENA AUSTRALIS) A large, heavy whale (up to 70 tonnes) confined to the Southern Hemisphere; migrates during winter (June-November) to breed around southern Africa coast, coming close inshore around the

Cape; identified by its huge head, covered in callosities (thickened lumps of skin) and lack of dorsal fin on back; like humpback, quite playful — sometimes breaching and often upending for long periods with tail waving above the surface (‘tail sailing’). 4 SPERM WHALE (PHYSETER MACROCEPHALUS) Largest toothed whale — as big as a humpback; found in deep oceans worldwide; identified by huge square head and dorsal ridge, rather than fin; blow projects sideways from blowhole positioned on top left of head; groups float at surface for long periods (logging); may stay down more than one hour during

dives, descending up to 1500m to capture squid; non-migratory — resident populations usually occur in deep-water areas, such as the west coast of Mauritius, but may turn up anywhere. 5 FIN WHALE (BALAENOPTERA PHYSALUS) Second largest whale after blue whale, measuring up to 25m; long and slim, with pronounced, shark-like dorsal fin; grey/brown upper parts and pale underside; generally undemonstrative, moves fast, blows high and — unlike humpback — never lifts tail flukes before diving; uncommon off African coast but sometimes seen in north Atlantic and, especially, western Mediterranean.


TAIL Whales’ hind limbs disappeared during evolution; tail flukes evolved in their place, allowing a whale to propel itself forward using vertical strokes.

Cetaceans fall into two very distinct groups, which split from one another around 34 million years ago. The toothed whales (Odontoceti) comprise dolphins, porpoises and their allies, such as pilot whales, beaked whales, orcas and the mighty sperm whale (pictured left, sleeping) — the largest toothed predator on earth. All have conical teeth with which they catch their prey, typically fish or squid. They also use echolocation to navigate and hunt underwater. Some 73 species are known. The baleen whales (Mysticeti) are named for the plates of keratin-like baleen that hang from their upper jaw and with which they sieve small marine organisms, such as krill, from the water in vast quantities. This group comprises 15 species, most of which are very large — including the blue whale, the biggest animal ever known. Baleen whales tend to feed near the surface whereas many toothed whales dive to great depths.

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



Under the hammer There has been much controversy surrounding the legalisation of the rhino horn trade in South Africa. Adam Cruise discusses the reasons for and against this seemingly reckless move


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

medicine purposes and, increasingly, as carved objects in the form of jewellery, trinkets and figurines. Hume, however, believes that selling rhino horn from his commercially bred stock will, in fact, save the species in the wild.


arlier this year, the world’s largest rhino breeder, John Hume, held a three-day auction for his stockpiled rhino horn. Hume, who owns more than 1500 rhinos, was granted a permit after the South African Constitutional Court lifted a 2009 moratorium on the domestic rhino horn trade. But, with over a thousand rhino being poached for their horns in South Africa annually, it may seem disingenuous for Hume to further expedite the freeflowing demand from Asia. Rhino horn is sought after in Vietnam and China for traditional

The case for selling rhino horn

TOP: Rhino horn currently costs about US$60,000 per kilogram. OPPOSITE: These heaps of poached animal skins and rhino horns poignantly demonstrate the enormity of the issue

Hume’s case for selling off rhino horn is grounded in a basic economic claim: harvest horn from farmed rhino since they are easy to breed. It can be removed without any harm to the animal and will eventually grow back to be harvested again (a rhino is said to grow its horn back at a rate of 1kg per year or 60kg in its lifetime). Private breeders and the South African government have, over the years, collected more than 20 tons of rhino horn. Hume himself has a stockpile of more than six tons. He hopes his auctions will drive down black-market prices, which are currently pegged at about US$60,000 per kilogram, essentially more than their weight in gold. In a nutshell, Hume’s idea is to increase supply and thereby suppress prices. This removes the incentive to poach rhino. Problem solved. However, the obvious snag for Hume and other rhino breeders is that horns purchased in South Africa cannot be exported. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) bans this. Without lifting the prohibition or changing the regulations — which


is unlikely to happen — CITES members such as South Africa, China and Vietnam cannot trade any horn. Vietnamese or Chinese buyers can buy it in South Africa but cannot take it out of the country — at least, not legally.

The second obvious snag is the charge that rhino breeders banking on an international trade have failed to understand the market that demands rhino horn. Ross Harvey, an economist at the South African Institute of International Affairs and of the Governance of Africa’s Resources programme, says: “The idea that commercially bred rhino horn will flood the market, depress prices and prevent further poaching is without basis in fact.” He argues that the illegal trade and consumer demand issue is a complex one. Pro-traders, says Harvey, are working on a simplistic economic model when they should rather be referring to a far more sophisticated one. Harvey points out that because very little is known about the levels of consumer demand, illegal trade routes and the effects of legal trade on these, the risk of unintended consequences becomes unacceptably high. That risk includes a caveat that a legal trade could lead to laundering of illegal rhino horn into the legal domestic trade, and that it will find its way into the illegal international market, increase consumer demand, thus leading to an upsurge in rhino poaching to satisfy a demand that cannot be met. Pelham Jones, the Chairman of the Private Rhino Owners Association (PROA), says that poaching statistics on private


The case against selling rhino horn

We should go back into history to determine what policies have worked to stop rhino poaching, as opposed to relying on untested, poorly researched speculative trade theories that could put the lives of rhino in the wild at further risk

rhino ranches have decreased. He reasons this is because rhino and their horns now have significant commercial value, so the incentive to protect them is greater. This may be so, but there just happens to be a parallel increase in poaching of rhino in the country’s more expansive provincial and national parks as well as a marked spike in poaching in other countries such as Namibia and Zimbabwe. This is because wildroaming individuals are an easier target. Therefore, commercial breeders, by protecting their quasi-domestic rhino, may be inadvertently increasing the levels of poaching on wild animals. This is precisely what happened a number of years ago when, in an effort to curb poaching of wild tigers for their bones, a legal trade from captive-bred tigers was allowed. The trade directly increased the demand from consumers, which the captivebred trade could never meet. This led to industrial-scale levels of poaching of wild animals. The farming of tigers for their bones in effect drove all species of tiger

to the brink of extinction. The same catastrophe occurred with African elephants and the ivory market. The total African elephant population crashed by a third — or 130,000 elephants — in just seven years directly after a legal sale of more than 100 tons of national ivory stockpiles to Japan and China from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe was granted in 2008. Harvey believes the “least complicated way to save rhino” would be to promote unambiguous demand-reduction campaigns. But he warns that mixed-messaging is likely to counteract any effects of such campaigns. “Sending ambiguous signals to potential markets, as South Africa is currently doing,” he says, “will likely result in undermining demandreduction efficacy.” Colin Bell, a safari veteran of 40 years who began rhino relocation programmes into the wild in Botswana in 2001, says: “We should go back into history to determine what policies have worked to stop rhino poaching, as opposed to relying on untested, poorly researched speculative trade theories that could put the lives of rhino in the wild at further risk.” Bell points out that rampant rhino poaching, which was at its worst in the 1970s and 1980s, came to a halt in 1993 after concerted international policies were implemented to stop demand for horn. This was done largely through pressurising consumer countries to ban all rhino horn trade in their home countries. “The 1990s was the rhino’s golden decade,” says Bell, “because for the first time in 100 years, populations of both black and white rhino right around Africa started to flourish again.”

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



Back to Ikland Mount Morungole is an island in the sky, hovering far above the plains and valleys of northern Ugandaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kidepo Valley National Park. Mark Eveleigh treks into the highland home of the mysterious Ik tribe and discovers the truth about the community that was once portrayed as the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nastiest people


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa


COMMUNITY SPIRIT: Children play outside the protective kraal at their village, Nalemoru — aptly meaning ‘village on a high point’ — on the slopes of Morungole Mountain, northern Uganda

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



sounded like a frustrated lion hunt, and shortly after first light we really have no idea how old I am,” Mzee Mateus Yeya were already climbing Morungole’s lower slopes towards the Ik Acok tells me through a snaggletooth smile, “but I think I villages. Although Philip knew the trail well, a very fit 60-yearmight even be 2000 years old.” Mateus is sitting, with his old Ik by the name of Mzee Hillary had joined us and taken the stork-thin legs tucked under him, outside his village high responsibility of guiding us all the way up to Nakaale, the highest on the slopes of Morungole. His tribe, the Ik (numbering Ik village near Morungole’s 2759m peak. I’d learned my first about 10,000 people), are known as one of the remotest and most word of Ik and, as energy flagged from time to time, I’d yelled culturally intact tribes in East Africa. Their recent history has been out “Ora!” (‘Let’s go!’) to be echoed by the children around me. a dramatic and heart-rending cycle of famine and slaughter at the hands of more powerful tribes. It’s not surprising that old Mateus It was a far cry from the moody silence that seemed to dog every feels like he might have lived through two millennia. trek that Turnbull ever made with the Ik. Philip Akorongimoe has been a guide with the Uganda Wildlife We stopped frequently. At first, this was simply to catch Authority (UWA) for 17 years and, although a Dodoth tribesman, my breath, but before long I realised that Mzee Hillary’s open he’s become a friend of the Ik — iciebam in the Ik language — smile was like a shop window, revealing a tantalising display of fascinating wilderness knowledge. He showed me the sacred fig through the course of countless visits to the highland villages that tree where, long ago, his forefathers had harvested bark to make have become their last stronghold. Philip and I confer momentarily cloth to keep them warm and where, to this day, complex animal and calculate that Mateus must be around 85-90 years old since sacrifices are still carried he was already a respected out to bring rain. When we village leader when a selfstopped in another patch of proclaimed iciebam by the shade I pointed at random name of Colin Turnbull to three plants around me, visited the region. and Hillary reeled off a Few visits to the Ik string of medicinal qualities homelands can have been that could be used to treat more miserable than those earache, constipation and of Colin Turnbull, the even an instant cure for anthropologist who spent scorpion stings. the best part of two years The cheerful here in the mid-1960s. I’d explanations continued read his book, about the long after Morungole’s tribe, The Mountain People, steep slope had temporarily twice and had visited silenced my questions. Kidepo — the park that On arrival at the village, I’d come to think of as however, it took old Mzee perhaps the most beautiful Mateus just a minute to in Africa — on a couple of revive my waning energy occasions. Now, 50 years with his tales of ‘2000 after Turnbull’s visit, I’m years as an Ik’. back again… and unable The origin of the Ik tribe to equate the peaceful, THE SIMPLE LIFE: Accompanied by UWA guide Philip Akorongimoe and other Ik children and adults from Nakaale village, a boy treads on bean pods to open them. OPPOSITE: is one of Africa’s unsolved smiling, fun-loving people Mzee Mateus Yeya Acok has no idea how old he is — perhaps 2000, he suggests mysteries. Linguist Terrill around me with the sadistic B Schrock (who published sub-humans described in his English-Ik dictionary in The Mountain People. 2017) claims to have found Turnbull dedicated his evidence linking the Ik to cultures in southern Egypt. According to 1972 best-seller to “the Ik, whom I learned not to hate”, yet its Mzee Mateus, the Ik have lived around the foothills of Morungole pages are almost a catalogue of unimaginable abominations of since the beginning of time and he explained that an ancestor humanity: grandparents watch gleefully as a toddler crawls into called Ngole had commanded that they must never leave their a fire; a mother smiles in gratitude when her baby is snatched by sacred mountain. a predator, thus relinquishing her of a duty to care for it; children A few years ago, Philip visited with members of the National deliberately knock starving old people to the floor in a particularly Forestry Authority who wanted to see about the possibility of vicious Ik version of skittles… convincing the Ik to come down, to bring them closer to schools Despite being an experienced Oxford University-trained and medicine: “Not until your medicine can make our ancestor anthropologist, Turnbull struggled through most of his stay even to come back from the dead and command us personally,” they’d said. convince the Ik to talk to him. He eventually concluded that they had “Only then will we go down.” lost their traditional culture to the extent that their god — Didigwari Colin Turnbull, however, believed that the Ik must be forced — no longer existed for them and that their rituals and understanding to move, whether they liked it or not. He advised the Ugandan of traditional medicine had become almost entirely extinct. government that the Ik should be rounded up in a swift militaryPhilip and I had driven away from Kidepo’s Apoka Safari style operation “before they could flee” and that they should be Lodge long before dawn, amid the bellowing roar of what



January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



SAFARI PLANNER QGetting there Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines fly to Entebbe,

from where you can fly to the remote Kidepo Valley National Park with Fly Uganda or Aerolink. The easiest way to arrange your trip is to book through a reliable tour operator. The writer was hosted by Natural World Safaris, which offers year-round bespoke trips to Kidepo, including everything except visas, international flights and gorilla tracking permits. QWhere to stay Apoka Safari Lodge, the only lodge in Kidepo National Park, is a great base to explore the reserve on foot or in a 4WD as well as the wider Karamoja region. QWhen to go As Uganda sits on the equator, there are insignificant temperature variations and the tropical climate is enjoyable all year round. However, the heavy rains from March to May and in October and November close certain parts of the park to visitors. December to February is the ideal time Mount Morungole SOUTH SUDAN to go birdwatching. QHealth Visit your local GP Kidepo Valley NP or travel clinic well in advance of your trip to check what immunisations you need and UGANDA the best antimalarials to take. QFurther reading Bradt’s Guide to Uganda (8th edition) by Philip Briggs; The Ik Kampala Language by Terrill B Schrock; KENYA Entebbe also visit for further information about Kidepo. OPPOSITE: A married woman displays the glass beads that are precious heirlooms among the Ik. ABOVE: Mzee Hillary and another Ik friend stand on the high slopes of Morungole, with the vast Kidepo Valley spread below them

DID YOU KNOW? Q The Ik people are an endangered tribe of just 10,000 or so

in number. redistributed in random non-family groups of not more than 10 men, women and children through widely separated parts of the country. “If kept in larger units,” he explained, “they might well be able to band together to work their magic around them… perhaps corrupting still others.” Fortunately, Turnbull’s advice was ignored. As Mateus and his friends tell us their story, a group of about 50 villagers squat around us listening respectfully to the recollections of their elders. They’re clearly very poor, with barely enough ragged clothing to insulate them against the growing chill of a highland afternoon. As I look around, welcoming smiles spread on the faces of everyone from the smallest children to the most wizened old women. These days, the Ik rarely descend from their highland hamlets, unless it is to visit the clinic or to trade the wild honey that is so precious that it even forms part of a bride price here. Women, in particular, are said to be almost addicted to Morungole’s syrupy honey and to the chewing tobacco that they carry in small pouches around their waist. “Which is the most delicious?” I ask one old lady. “Tobacco or honey?” “Honey!” she replies, without hesitation, breaking into a toothless grin. “I think it is the honey that makes Ik people so sweet.”

Q Their traditional hunting and gathering areas were turned

into Kidepo Valley National Park in the 1960s, so they were forced to migrate into the lower slopes of Mount Morungole. In later years, famine and raiding pressure from the Turkana tribe drove them higher. QThey moved into their present villages in the early ’80s. Q They used to be hunter-gatherers but now live by subsistence farming, raising goats and wild honey gathering. Q The Ik people live in small villages arranged in clusters, which make up a ‘community’. Outer walls surround each village, which have a gateway called an odok. QWithin each village, there are different partitioned family compounds, entered through a doorway called an asak. Q Until the age of 14 years old, children sleep in the family home and then they move to the boys’ or girls’ bandas. Q There is very little formal education other than learning to fend for yourself and the basics of survival. Q The day after the marriage ceremony, the girl goes to the boy’s house. As she stoops to go through the gate they throw a bucket of water over her. Water is a symbol of happiness and joy and it will ensure a peaceful stay.

Travel Africa | January-March 2018


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the myth ow can a land with great rivers, huge lakes and more moorland than any other African country be a land of perpetual drought? Well, it isn’t! The perception of Ethiopia as drought-ridden was mainly created by the media attention that highlighted the dreadful famine over 30 years ago. Famines on a massive scale occur when there is a fatal combination of drought and extraordinary events, such as war and rinderpest. The media was right to bring it to the notice of the world but it has left an inaccurate image of Ethiopia. Some of the arid parts are susceptible to drought if the annual rains fail, as has happened over the past two years in the remote south-east of Ethiopia and other East African countries. But can this be applied to all of the country? Certainly not, as never has all of Ethiopia been affected. In fact, about 50 per cent of the country consists of highlands and a part of the western rainforest has rainfall almost daily. Most of the droughts occur in the arid regions. Ethiopia is still an essentially poor country but significant strides have been made in greatly improving infrastructure and food security, and it now has one of the



fastest developing economies in the world. Two decades ago when I first flew into Addis Ababa I looked down upon a vast collection of tin roofs but now I see a city of tall buildings, complex modern roads and even a rapid transit rail system. Addis has changed and is the capital of a country now in good shape to combat drought, with a solid economic basis to support its growing tourism industry. Attractions for visitors are many: from historical monuments to volcanic wonders, from unique animals to astounding landscapes, from a most captivating people to the most exotic of tribes. All of which adds up to the most diverse country in Africa, offering something to satisfy every visitor’s interest. Ethiopia is often described as ‘the water tower of Africa’. This is due to the highlands that dominate the country, far above its arid lowlands. The high mountain plateaus spawn many rivers and yield exciting animals found nowhere else. The Blue Nile emanates from Lake Tana, the highest large body of freshwater in Africa, which gives life to Sudan and Egypt through its waters and fertile silt. Ethiopia is part of the Horn of Africa, a corner of the continent where many animals exist that are difficult or impossible to see elsewhere. The beautiful Soemmerring’s gazelle, statuesque beisa oryx, lionmaned gelada, huge horned Walia ibex, elegant Ethiopian wolf and imposing mountain nyala are just some of the gems that can be seen. Not to mention the colourful and fantastic butterflies, birds and flowers, many of which are unique to Ethiopia. Combine these with rarities such as Grevy’s zebra and Swayne’s hartebeest together with gorgeous scenery and you have a safari like no other. The landscape is dramatic. From 4000m in height great escarpments drop from the highland plateaus in mighty precipices and in a seemingly endless procession of mountains. Ethiopia has 20 national parks. While many are very remote, two particularly special ones are easily accessible and contain amazing endemic animals. North of Addis Ababa the Simien Mountains National Park has mountain scenery on a grand scale with great buttresses and chasms that take your breath away; they culminate in Ras Dashen at 4550m, Ethiopia’s highest peak. The most easily seen mammal is the spectacular gelada feeding in large groups LEFT: The Simien Mountains are green and lush after the rains in October, and covered in wildflowers such as meskel daisies. RIGHT: The Blue Nile Falls, also called Tis Abay in Amharic (meaning ‘great smoke’), near Bahir Dar


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa


Ethiopia expert Trevor Jenner reveals why we should reconsider our misconceptions about this land of astonishing natural beauty, ethnic diversity and cultural riches

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



on the escarpment edges. To the south of Addis the Bale Mountains National Park is outstanding. Among its charms it houses the continent’s largest Afro-alpine plateau. Full of tarns, everlasting flowers and towering giant lobelias it is a magical place, 4000m above sea level, where the endemic Ethiopian wolf roams. The park contains the only cloud forest in the nation and holds more endemic species of plant and animal than Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania. It is said that if the Bale Mountains ecosystem should disappear more mammal species would become extinct than any area of comparable size in the world. The Rift Valley separates the two mountain massifs that contain the parks; it comprises savannah and a string of large lakes and volcanoes, including the famous Erta Ale with its caldera of molten lava. The savannah lands are more typical of East Africa and hold the oldest national park in Ethiopia, Awash National Park. The park and nearby Alledeghi Plains are home to a fascinating collection of Horn of Africa animals including Grevy’s zebra, Soemmerring’s gazelle, hamadryas baboon and interesting birds such as the Arabian bustard, which is hard to find elsewhere. A safari to the high plateau moorlands combined with the Rift Valley national parks provides the basis for a unique holiday. Apart from its natural wonders Ethiopia is steeped in history and myths; legend has it that the Queen of Sheba ruled from Axum and that the Ark of the Covenant resides there. The historical interest of myths, monuments and prehistoric sites is unlike any found elsewhere in the world. Remnants of the virtually unknown ancient and powerful Axumite Kingdom, which traded with Rome and China, include giant carved stelae, one of which is the largest single piece of granite ever carved. Among the nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites is Lalibela’s remarkable complex of 11 churches. Hewn from the solid rock, they are wholly carved inside and out with incredible designs including window frames, doorways, arches, columns and effigies of saints. So many wonderful places, so little space to tell; the colourful ancient walled city of Harar, a collection of medieval castles in Gondar, old monastery islands of Lake Tana and more. In the far north region of Tigre there are some 120 rock-hewn churches, many of which hold priceless ancient treasures. But it is the paintings and frescoes that many come to see, which vary in style and colour. From the bright yellows and blues in the church of Abune Gebre Mikael to the muted hues of dusky browns in Abune Yemata. Not far from the town of Hawzien, the walk and climb to either of these churches in fabulous scenery provides a day’s outing that is satisfying both physically and mentally. A few days will allow you to explore a sample of these remote churches and they can be combined with Lalibela and Axum in any tour. Ethiopia is famous for its prehistory, including Lucy, its 3.2-million-year-old hominid, which can be seen in the capital’s National Museum. But there are many FROM TOP: Ethiopia is full of diverse and wonderful attractions, such as the endemic gelada (or ‘bleeding heart baboon’) in the Simien Mountains; and St George’s at Lalibela, one of 11 rock-hewn churches at the UNESCO World Heritage Site


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

The lion-maned gelada, statuesque beisa oryx, huge horned Walia ibex and elegant Ethiopian wolf are just some of the gems that can be seen


prehistoric sites of immense interest. A few hours south of Addis is Tiya, a World Heritage Site of 32 carved stelae, the burial site of an unknown people. The stelae exhibit carvings of swords and indecipherable symbols that provide the visitor with plenty to muse on as to their interpretation. But further south more ancient stelae, literally thousands, believed to be from 2000 to 4000 years old, leave little to the imagination when it comes to deciphering their symbolism. They are all phallic and of huge proportions, some up to 7.5m tall. They are found in a series of burial sites located close to the highland town of Dila, most on a mountaintop with beautiful

views in stunning wooded countryside. No one knows who the people were who created these stelae; they are a mystery waiting to be unravelled. Ethiopians are both welcoming and captivating. These fine-featured people await the traveller with charming rituals like the coffee ceremony, during which local coffee is hand ground and prepared for you, with its in-built blessing. The first cup, abo, is the strongest, the second is huletegna and the third is bereka; acceptance and drinking of the third cup is considered a blessing whereupon friendship is sealed. It is believed that coffee originated in the Ethiopian region of Kaffa. It grows wild and is even cultivated in local gardens. Fine arabica coffee is Ethiopia’s largest export, and some coffees, like Yerga Cheffe, are widely available in the West, while the delicious Quira variety produced by the Quira people can only be obtained locally. There are 83 different languages and peoples but none as exotic as the tribes of the Lower Omo Valley. They are one of the most remote collections of ethnic peoples in the world and these diverse tribes exist shoulder to shoulder within completely different language groups and cultures, still living as they have for eons. A visit to these peoples can be combined with a safari at such national parks as Omo, Mago, Nechsar and Bale Mountains. The mists of poor perception are clearing to reveal a vibrant destination not simply for safari or historical or cultural interest but a mix found nowhere else. The visitor who sees beyond the misconception of a drought-ridden land will enjoy an experience that cannot be gained elsewhere. The Ethiopian travel industry has been gearing up; new lodges are continually opening, almost all incorporating traditional forms of local architecture. New roads, new bus routes, new tour companies and new ideas mean Ethiopia is indeed open for tourism for curious travellers to discover its riches for themselves. Further reading Ethiopia Travellers’ Handbook by Trevor Jenner is essential reading.


FIVE MAMMALS AND BIRDS TO SEEK OUT IN ETHIOPIA Q Grevy’s zebra (below) This zebra can be found in only two places in Ethiopia and just over the border in the north of Kenya. The animal has reduced in number by 90 per cent since the 1970s, making it one of the species in steepest decline in Africa. It can be seen on the Alledeghi Plains just east of Awash National Park.

Q Ethiopian wolf

A must-see species that usually comes first on a visitor’s animal wishlist. Endemic to Ethiopia it is the world’s rarest canid. This elegant and beautiful animal is most easily seen in the Bale Mountains.

Q Gelada Only found in Ethiopia, the gelada is the sole survivor in a genus of monkeys that graze. Huge bands can be seen in the Simien Mountains. It is often called the ‘bleeding heart baboon’ because of the patch of red skin on the chest.

Q Arabian

bustard (left) A graceful large bustard of the plains and savannah that is much sought after by birders. In many other countries, it has been much reduced in numbers due to falconry and shooting, but it still flourishes in Ethiopia on the Alledeghi Plains.

Q White-cheeked turaco (below) Crimson wing flashes in flight are the defining feature of the turaco family. This spectacular member of the family is almost impossible to find outside of the Horn of Africa but is quite common in the highlands and woodlands of Ethiopia. TREVOR JENNER (3)

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The inside track on Kenyaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Rift Valley Lakes Page 158

Northern Serengeti, Tanzania


There is a time at the end of a day on safari when the air stills, the sun drops over the horizon and the last light of day lingers. A calmness descends, and the sensory allure of Africa permeates the soul. It is these moments that have inspired people across the continent to establish camps in its great wilderness areas. Like Naseeb Mfinanga, who, with his family, created the Nasikia Camps portfolio in northern Tanzania. Taken tragically, far too soon, along with other safari-lovers and operators, Naseebâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s legacy is that others will continue to experience his peace of Africa for years to come. CRAIG RIX

Travel Africa | January-March 2018




Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge has been voted the Best Resort Hotel by the Association of Zimbabwe Travel Agents for 21 years in a row. Staff smiled when collecting the gong as the winning streak continued. The hotel beat tough competition from the Victoria Falls Hotel and Elephant Hills Resort.



Chundu Island Lodge, Chundu Island The wildlife put on a show as the highly anticipated Chundu Island private island lodge opened its doors to casual guests and intrepid explorers. The new property consists of six ordinary and two family suites, each with private decks overlooking the majestic upper Zambezi River. The island offers 1.4km of natural beauty with a sandy beach on the westernmost tip. Operated by the trusted Seolo Africa, there are options for a 4WD safari in Zambezi National Park, a sunset cruise along the river or a day trip to Victoria Falls, which is 20km away.

Tongole Wilderness Lodge, Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve The property won three awards at the 2018 Safari Awards at the World Travel Market: Best Ecologically Responsible, Best Community Focus and Best Value Safari Property. At the same ceremony, South Africa-based Africa on Foot won Best Walking Safari, while the Ecca Lodge, in South Africaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, was named Africaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Best Safari Experience.



Royal Livingstone Victoria Falls Zambia Hotel by Anantara This famous hotel now offers guests an extra-special spa experience. After a long day out on safari, guests can visit one of the three new riverside gazebos to have a relaxing facial on the banks of the picturesque Zambezi River.

Four Seasons Resort Seychelles, Desroches Island After extensive renovations, the hotel will be opening its doors again in March. With direct access to unspoiled beaches and the glass-like waters of the Indian Ocean, the Four Seasons is perfect for divers, fishermen or those looking for a tranquil getaway.

Karkloof Safari Villas, KwaZulu-Natal Karkloof Safari Villas are to refine their services since going under new ownership and management. Alongside renting individual villas, guests can have exclusive use of the property. The villas will also open up their world-class spa to day packages to let guests enjoy a home away from home.

TANZANIA Sanctuary Kichakani Serengeti Camp, Serengeti National Park This recently opened property combines the classic and the contemporary. Ten large safari tents have wooden decks and en suites equipped with authentic bucket showers. There is also a central community canopy with a fire-pit, grand lounges and dining areas. The main draw to these new tents is their unrivalled views of the Great Migration, and with three set locations across the Serengeti, it will be hard to miss.



The Pangolin Khwai Camp, Okavango Delta Opening in March, the new Pangolin Khwai Camp is designed for photographers. The seven Merustyle, en-suite tents host 12 people and the communal areas contain post-production facilities. The


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa




KENYA Hemingways Watamu, Watamu Marine National Park This stunning coastal escape reopens this month with a new look that retains its original spirit while adding some African flare. The 13 new deluxe ocean-view rooms are painted in pastel colours replicating the sand and sea. Guests can go snorkelling, humpback whale watching or deep-sea fishing.

2000sq-km private concession can be explored by converted 4WDs that are equipped with beanbag mounts and offer great opportunities to photograph the thriving wildlife. The lodge is a joint venture between Pangolin Photo Safaris and Natural Selection. Kwapa Training Camp, Okavango Delta 2018 will see the Okavango Guiding School introduce new tents, doubling the current occupancy. The tents will have LED lighting, comfortable beds and a wonderful open-air bathroom. The school’s presence has encouraged predators to return to the area with 18 leopards being spotted last year. Dinaka, Central Kalahari Game Reserve This lodge will be included in the Ker & Downey Botswana collection from 1 March. The year-round waterholes, phenomenal game drives and bush walks provide guests with spectacular photo opportunities and the semi-

Bushlink Beachlink Business link

desert environment makes an interesting contrast to the swampy Okavango Delta.

RWANDA One&Only Gorilla’s Nest, Virunga Mountains Rwanda’s accommodation options catch up with the country’s thriving luxury tourism industry when this stunning retreat opens later this year. Based in the foothills of the Virungas, one of the last locations to see the mountain gorilla in the wild, the lodge is also ideal for bird lovers as the region is home to 170 species of avifauna.

SOUTH AFRICA Selati Camp, Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve This classic bush hideaway now has a vintage style and is effortlessly elegant after a recent renovation. The remodelling makes it an inviting retreat as guests can bathe under the stars. The new billowing drapes, comfy beds and original antiques sourced from across the country evoke the ‘yesterday’ of Africa.

Flying you to 17 holiday & business destinations across Kenya & Tanzania from Wilson Airport, Nairobi +254 (0)20 669 0000


Travel Africa | January-March 2018





Far and Wide Zimbabwe is opening one of the longest zip-lines and skywalks in the world. Located in the country’s picturesque Eastern Highlands, the Mutarazi Falls Skywalk & Zipline will offer amazing views and an adrenaline rush to adventurous souls.

Robert Mugabe’s resignation sparked celebrations all over Zimbabwe as his 37-year rule came to an end. The voluntary submission comes a week after he was placed under military house arrest for sacking former vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa. Zimbabwe’s economy has plummeted under Mugabe and every election over the past 15 years has been met with suppressive violence. Fergal Keane, BBC Africa editor, said Zimbabweans who had “endured white minority” power and watched their “independence become tyranny” were now free.

Chef is a flaming success Chef Luke Dale-Roberts’ restaurants in South Africa dominated at the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards. The Test Kitchen finished first for an unprecedented sixth year in a row, while The Shortmarket Club, The Pot Luck Club and Luke Dale-Roberts X The Saxon finished in positions eight, 10 and 19, respectively.



ARMCHAIR SAFARIS For the first time, all 19 of South Africa’s national parks are available to explore from anywhere in the world on Google Street View. More than 200 volunteers consisting of park rangers, nature enthusiasts and tech fans travelled 50,000km to map out 360° views of South Africa’s favourite destinations, including Kruger National Park, Table Mountain and six UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Andre Van Kets, who approached Google with the idea, said: “Travellers and nature enthusiasts can explore some of the most beautiful areas in South Africa as though they are there themselves, all from the comfort of their armchair.”

KIDS’ CLUB Yellow Zebra Safaris has launched a dedicated kids’ section. ‘Club Zeb’ educates children on national parks and the animals that live there. The colourful characters Zebadiah Zebra and Oki Oxpecker guide guests around Africa with colouring sheets and word searches. THE TEST KITCHEN


The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF) has translocated 30 pink pigeons and 73 echo parakeets to the Bambou Mountains in Mauritius. Both birds are endangered, and MWF’s efforts mean the birds have bred in the area for the first time in over a century. JACQUES DE SPÉVILLE



YOGA AND LIONS It is now possible to go on a yoga safari in Botswana's Tuli Game Reserve. Exotic Yoga Retreats' new trip for health-conscious travellers will take place between 7 and 17 April.


SAVE THE DONKEY British charity The Donkey Sanctuary has persuaded countries to ban the export and slaughter of donkeys by publishing its Under the Skin report, which details how the animals are being slaughtered for beauty products. Donkey gelatin is a common ingredient in ejiao, a popular Chinese traditional medicine. Forecasts claim between four to 10 million skins are needed annually to meet the demand and there are 44 million donkeys alive today. The poorest communities are the most affected as poachers take the donkeys they rely on for their living.


Travel Africa | January-March 2018



Ask the experts


Your questions answered by those who really know

Where should I go, and why, on my first ever visit to Africa? BRETT THOMSON SUN DESTINATIONS I'd recommend the private reserves of South Africa’s Greater Kruger Park. As a first-timer, the logistics of getting there are very easy. In addition, there are a variety of accommodation options to suit all budgets. The quality of game viewing is excellent year-round and the concessions offer very good guides and trackers. Plus, you can see the Big Five.



What opportunities are there for me to support local projects and meet Zambian people in South Luangwa National Park? JOHN COPPINGER REMOTE AFRICA As with many other camps in the area, if one stays at Tafika, visits to the nearby village are available. The people here are subsistence farmers living in a remote location. The Tafika fund has worked with and supported this community for two decades via the local school, further education and a very well-received football league. Support of this fund is always gratefully received and well spent. This is just one of many programmes contributing to Zambia’s heart-warming communities, and most other lodges in the region have similar projects. You should also take the time to stop off at Tribal Textiles on your way to the airport, which provides employment for local men and women.




Where can I walk unaccompanied in wildlife reserves? JENNY BOWEN SENSE AFRICA Of course, we would never recommend walking unaccompanied in big game reserves. However, there are a host of smaller, more intimate reserves, where you can walk among zebra, wildebeest and giraffe to your heart’s content. All you need are your trainers or walking boots and a sense of adventure. The Kingdom of Swaziland is an ideal destination for this. You can get off the beaten track and explore the bush at your very own pace. Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, Malolotja Game Reserve, Mbuluzi Game Reserve and Mlawula Nature Reserve are wonderfully diverse, have well marked trails, are rich in flora and fauna and have stunning scenery. Get out on foot and on your own terms.

I’m organising my honeymoon in East Africa. Where should I go, and why? GORDIE OWLES ASILIA AFRICA I would recommend starting your honeymoon on a beach — weddings are exhausting so take a few days to relax and lie in before your safari. This way, you will be ready for the early morning wake-up calls when you arrive in the bush. Zanzibar is a great start to an East African honeymoon — a blend of white sand beaches and interesting culture and history — and from there, head to southern Tanzania, specifically Ruaha and Selous. These huge wilderness areas only have a handful of safari camps, so you are getting that very personal and private experience that a honeymoon should be.



ABOVE LEFT: Mlilwane Wildlife Nature Reserve, Swaziland, is a great place for walking. TOP: A room at Tafika Camp in Zambia's South Luangwa National Park. BELOW: White sand and turquoise sea in Zanzibar

IF YOU HAVE A QUESTION that you would like answered by one of our experts in the field, please email us at editor@ or contact us through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. We very much look forward to hearing from you.


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa


Kids in the bush Anita Powell, of Small World Marketing, reassures parents that a South African safari is a good choice for their children The grandparents tutted when I declared I was taking my seven-, five- and three-year-olds on safari. “Is it safe?” “What about malaria?” “Can’t you go to Longleat?” I was warned that my kids would be too young to appreciate the experience, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. I struggled to find somewhere in South Africa that would accept children as young as ours, as most lodges have policies of only accepting kids over six. I discovered Hopewell Private Game Reserve after much research and liked the fact that it was a small, exclusive-use lodge and, therefore, had no stipulations on age restrictions. As we were the sole guests, we had no concerns about upsetting any neighbouring safari-goers or affecting their game experience. I have experienced many safaris, but seeing the bush through the eyes of my children added a new dimension. There is nothing like the amazement on a child’s face when giraffe and zebra are close enough to smell. The guides are friendly and fantastic with kids, winning mine over within minutes by teaching them how to identify an animal poo. Apparently, you stick your finger in and lick it. That one was new to me, but the boys found it hilarious. On the drive, their facts mesmerised our five-year-old who regurgitated them over dinner. Our three-year-old loved bouncing around in the back of the jeep on her daddy’s lap. Out of all of them, our seven-year-old fidgeted the most, proving it isn’t so much about the child’s age than their ability to sit still. The children emerged as brave pioneers, poo identifiers and conservationists. The animal-infested brilliance of the African bush has infected the children and we are already planning our next trip.

Nigel Vere Nicholl is the Chairman of Atta, which serves travel companies in 37 African countries. For more information, visit


he economist Peter Bauer once described aid as a transfer from a poor person in a rich country to a rich person in a poor country. This is certainly true of Africa. In Europe, the public are becoming increasingly sceptical about development aid, and rightly so, especially in times of austerity. Many believe that aid undermines good government and corrupts rather than contributes to the recipient’s economy. Of greater concern is that recently Africa has fallen hostage to Chinese aid. Once again, the continent will pay heavily for the quick financial handout, accepting the Chinese readiness to offer aid, investment and loans, for everything from bridges, buses to roads, airports and hydro schemes. But there’s no such thing as a free meal and bit by bit, in return for aid, it is being stripped of its natural resources and wallows in ever-increasing debt to the donor. Africa’s age-old story, the only benefactor in the long-term being the so-called ‘democratically elected’ tyrants, their wealth accumulated through aid and corruption at the expense of the ordinary African. ‘Emergency aid’ helps reestablish infrastructure that had previously been working well before being destroyed by war or acts of God, and usually reaches its goal, providing urgent supplies and materials for restoration. Rwanda is a good example. That country, ravaged by war and famine, through international aid has seen remarkable recovery in rebuilding its economy. But even Rwanda’s UK aid was temporarily halted by suspicions that funding was being diverted into politicians’ pockets.

‘Development aid’, unlike emergency aid, is donated to establish, rather than re-establish, an infrastructure that has never been there before. It’s easy money and in Africa it breeds complacency from government, and as usual, much of it ends up in the wrong pockets. Most Western countries rely on taxation, and are in turn accountable to their electorate who provide the tax revenues through hard work. Most African countries rely on development aid, so their citizens cannot hold their governments accountable for their nations’ finances. So perhaps this huge continent should stand alone and say “no” to development aid. Sub-Saharan Africa is still rich. Does it really need over US$160 billion in aid, loans and foreign investment, which in turn results in a massive US$203 billion being taken out of the continent by international corporations in tax, including debt repayments of US$20 billion and tax evasion? It does not make sense. More is going out than coming in, a net deficit. So surely this asset stripping in return for aid should be checked so that ordinary Africans can benefit from their countries’ inbuilt wealth, which could be utilised to provide healthcare, housing and education. International donors should have a re-think about their relationship with Africa. Aid is not going to solve Africa’s economy in the long run, especially when there is a hole in the bucket. Africa should say “no more” to those who would give with one hand but take away with the other. If it is to embrace true democracy it needs to raise money from taxation, forcing its governments to become accountable to the electorate.

Travel Africa | January-March 2018





t may be less celebrated than the wildlife-rich plains of the Masai Mara and the idyllic beaches of the tropical coastline, but Kenya’s majestic Rift Valley surpasses both as the country’s most rewarding all-round destination for active travellers. Hemmed in by 1000m-high basaltic cliffs, the Rift Valley supports a classic East African landscape of open savannah punctuated by a string of seven absolutely gorgeous lakes of various shapes and sizes. Walking and game-viewing opportunities abound, but the region also offers scintillating birdwatching,


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

some thrillingly tortured volcanic landscapes, and a scattering of paleontological sites littered with stones and bones documenting the hunter-gatherer lifestyles of our earliest hominin ancestors. Each of Kenya’s Rift Valley lakes is different in character. The welcoming freshwater expanses of Naivasha and Baringo rank among East Africa’s finest general birdwatching sites, with the former also offering a rare opportunity to hike unguided amid plentiful large mammals. By contrast, shimmering Nakuru and Bogoria — hyper-saline, algae-

saturated sumps fed by mineralrich springs and lacking surface outlets — regularly host millionstrong flocks of flamingos to form a breathtaking avian counterpart to the Serengeti-Mara wildebeest migration. Altogether more extreme are the vast salty flats of Lake Magadi, which lies on the southern border with Tanzania, and the austere majesty of windswept Turkana — the world’s largest desert lake — as it nudges north across the border into Ethiopia. These lovely lakes punctuate a landscape of unique geological interest. Stretching some 6000km from Lebanon and the Red Sea south to the Zambezi Valley, the Rift Valley is the product of the same brutal tectonic process that wrenched Madagascar, India and Arabia from the African mainland around 140 million years ago. The present-day Rift formed some 30 million years ago, when the Nubian and Somali tectonic plates first started to separate. One day, it will almost

certainly emulate its predecessor, flooding completely to split Africa as we know it into two discrete landmasses. Yet paradoxically, while this immense tectonic scar was the only earthly terrestrial feature discernible to the first lunar astronauts, its scale can be difficult to appreciate fully at a closer distance. On the whole, it’s probably fortunate that the cataclysmic geological processes that moulded the Rift Valley don’t flaunt themselves to the inexpert eye. Indeed, it would be a dangerous place if they did! Still, if you look closely, the valley floor — formed by molten magma that rose from below the earth to fill the gap between the separating tectonic plates — is studded with plentiful evidence of its tempestuous geological past. From the hot springs that erupt in sulphurous anger alongside Bogoria to distinctive volcanic outlines of Mounts Longonot and Suswa, it is a fabulously primal setting.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Lesser flamingos gather on the edge of Lake Bogoria; a pair of great white pelicans; a black-andwhite colobus monkey in Lake Nakuru National Park; Lake Langano in the Ethiopian Rift Valley; a blackheaded heron with chicks near Lake Baringo

Tinged pink with cacophonous flocks of these beautiful birds, Bogoria is a truly mesmerising sight ETHIOPIA’S RIFT VALLEY LAKES Studding the southern Ethiopian Rift Valley floor north of Turkana is a string of seven lakes every bit as gorgeous as their Kenyan counterparts. Coming from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, the first of these is Lake Ziway, site of an island monastery legendarily founded in the 9th century to shelter no less significant an artefact than the Biblical Ark of the Covenant. To its south, bilharzia-free Lake Langano has been developed as the closest thing in Ethiopia to a beach resort, while close-by Abijatta-Shala National Park protects its two namesake lakes and associated flocks of flamingos and pelicans. Lake Hawassa, despite being flanked by southern Ethiopia’s largest and most cosmopolitan town, is an unqualified delight for birdwatchers, with everything from the African fish eagle and pygmy goose to the endemic yellow-fronted parrot and banded barbet — not to mention black-and-white colobus and grivet monkeys — likely to be seen on a morning walk through the fringing Ficus woodland. Finally, and most spectacular of all, the twin lakes Chamo and Abaya, set below a lush western escarpment that rises close to 4000m, are protected within Nech Sar National Park and overlooked by the scenic town of Arba Minch.

Travel Africa | January-March 2018


ESSENTIAL GUIDE HIGHLIGHTS: SOUTH TO NORTH Lake Magadi The closest Rift Valley lake to Nairobi, Magadi isn’t so much a lake as a sludge-bed of blindingly white soda deposits, set at the terminus of a 110km asphalt cul-de-sac running south towards the Tanzanian border. Few tourists visit the only lakeshore settlement, the staff village of the Magadi Soda Company, which celebrated its centenary in 2011. As with the other Rift Valley lakes, Magadi holds much of interest to birders, and the austere scenery more than justifies the short drive from the capital. A compelling stop along the road between Nairobi and Magadi is Olorgesailie Prehistoric Site, which stands in a harshly beautiful part of the Rift Valley inhabited by traditional Maasai pastoralists. Overlooking what was once a huge shallow lake frequented by roving bands of Homo erectus, Olorgesailie displays a wealth of Stone Age tools and fossils excavated by the Leakey family in the 1940s, and it also attracts a varied selection of colourful dry-country birds. Lake Naivasha Ideally located both for a weekend break from Nairobi or as a stopover en route to the Masai Mara, this picturesque freshwater lake, fringed by fevertree forests and low mountains, is difficult to beat as a primer to the region’s rich birdlife. Take a boat trip to Crescent Island to look for giraffe, antelope and hippo, or drop into Elsamere, the former home of Joy Adamson (of Born Free fame) to see black-and-white colobus monkeys crashing through the lakeshore trees. For hikers, the steep ascent of volcanic Mount Longonot offers fine views into its perfect crater (which last erupted in the 1860s) as well as to Naivasha itself.


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

Better still, the flattish road through Hell’s Gate National Park — named after twin basaltic cliffs at its northern entrance — offers walkers and cyclists the opportunity to encounter buffalo, giraffe, zebra and various antelope in a dramatic landscape of ancient lava plugs, sulphuric water vents and glossy black obsidian outcrops. Lake Elmentaita Set within the private Delamere Estate, Elmentaita lies below the striking volcanic plug known as Elngirigata Ol Morani (Sleeping Warrior) to the Maasai. Distant glimpses are offered from the main NaivashaNakuru road, and there’s also a fantastic viewpoint at the 1929 hilltop cairn erected in memory of the Earl of Enniskillen, close to his former homestead (now the Lake Elmentaita Lodge). Lake Nakuru Renowned for the millions of flamingos that flocked in its shallows until a recent rise in water level encouraged them to migrate elsewhere, Lake Nakuru nevertheless remains the finest game-viewing destination in the Kenyan Rift Valley. It is protected within an eponymous national park, now fenced in its entirety, that forms a stronghold for several endangered species, most notably conspicuous populations of both rhino species. The placid grasseating white rhino is easily seen on the grassy lake floodplain, while the more secretive scrubbrowsing black rhino is most likely to be encountered on the compact road network to its south. Lion and leopard are also quite frequently seen, as is the endangered Rothschild’s giraffe. And even

FROM TOP: A Kenyan fisherman paddles a traditional boat on Lake Baringo; a white rhinoceros grazes with her young in Lake Nakuru National Park

without the flamingos, the birdlife — large flocks of pelicans, storks and other waders — is as varied as it is captivating. Lake Bogoria Protected within a national reserve at the base of the sheer Laikipia Escarpment, this small and underpublicised lake happens to be where the millionodd flamingos once associated with Nakuru have been hanging out for most of the past five years. Tinged pink with cacophonous flocks of these beautiful birds, Bogoria is a truly mesmerising sight, especially when viewed from the low cliffs to the west. A scenic highlight of the reserve is the trio of primeval

SAFARI PLANNER QWhen to visit There’s no bad time, though keen walkers

geysers that erupt in a searing sulphuric haze to feed a network of multihued channels on the western shore. Game viewing is erratic, but walking is permitted, and it’s one of the few parts of Kenya where the greater kudu is common. Lake Baringo This beautiful but unprotected freshwater lake supports varied aquatic fauna, with outsized crocodiles, monitor lizards and hippos all readily seen. Despite a rather arid setting, Baringo is one of the top ornithological destinations in Kenya, its checklist of 500-plus species combining a wide range of waterbirds along with localised dry-country and cliff dwellers such as whitecrested turaco and Hemprich’s and Jackson’s hornbills. It was while visiting the cliffs around Baringo in 1892 that the Scottish geologist John Gregory first coined the term Rift Valley, and described the process that had led to its formation. A community tourist project arranges boat trips in search of hippo and birds, including the African fish eagle.

Lake Turkana Extending over 6405sq km and measuring almost 300km from north to south, the so-called Jade Sea is a goal better suited to an expedition than a conventional tour. Dazzling green in colour, soapy to the touch, foul of taste, and home to the world’s largest crocodile population, this beautiful lake is hemmed in by an apocalyptic moonscape of dormant volcanoes, naked lava flows and viciously spiky grass swept by a relentlessly hot, fierce wind. One of Kenya’s six UNESCO World Heritage Sites comprises the three national parks associated with Turkana — namely, South Island, Central Island and Sibiloi, the former two known for their immense bird colonies, the latter having yielded a wealth of hominid fossils pivotal to our understanding of hominid evolution over the past four million years. The lake hinterland is also home to some of East Africa’s most uncompromising traditional cultures, among them the nomadic Turkana herdsmen and the El Molo fisherfolk, the latter officially listed as the world’s least numerous tribe.

might prefer to avoid the main rainy season (late February to early June, peaking in April). For Kenya generally, a key seasonal factor is the presence of the wildebeest migration in the Masai Mara between late July or August and early October. For birdwatchers, more than 100 species of Palaearctic migrant are present during the northern winter (October to May). QGetting there Nairobi’s busy Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is serviced by flights from all around the world. Once in Nairobi, the Rift Valley between Naivasha and Baringo is easily explored by road, whether in a rented vehicle, on organised safari or using public Lake Turkana transport. Reaching Turkana is more of an expedition. QHow long do you need? Two nights would be sufficient KENYA for each of the smaller lakes. The number of activities on offer around Naivasha justifies a longer stay. Allow at Lake Baringo least one week for Lake Bogoria the return trip from Nairobi to Turkana. QWhere to stay Lake Nakuru Accommodation Lake Elmenteita to suit all tastes and budgets is Lake Naivasha dotted around Lake Naivasha and to a lesser extent Baringo. Lakes Bogoria and Nakuru Lake Magadi are both protected in reserves and Lake Natron serviced by at least one lodge. There is also plenty of budget accommodation in Nakuru town, a useful base for exploring the eponymous lake. Accommodation options around the other lakes are more limited.

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

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Travel Africa | January-March 2018


EDITOR’S PICK The Aquapure Traveller water bottle takes away the fuss of purifying water as the bottle’s intricate filtration system removes anything unsavoury. Pure Hydration has refined the bottle after more than 22 years of experience. Just fill and drink., £39.99


SHOULD I BOTHER WITH ANTIMALARIALS? Ben West takes a look at how important these drugs are, and the best ones to take It’s important to take malaria prevention seriously if you’re going to areas where the disease is prevalent: take your tablets, cover up after sunset, use insect repellent and a mosquito net. Malaria is dangerous — there are 212 million new cases annually and 429,000 deaths — but there’s no need to panic if you play by the rules. Seek advice from your local GP or travel clinic and ask a local tour operator too. If you do need to take antimalarials, there are four main drug regimes available: Doxycycline (also known as Vibramycin-D) Relatively cheap but possible side effects include light sensitivity, heartburn and thrush. It can reduce the effectiveness of contraceptive pills or patches. Mefloquine (also known as Lariam) Not recommended if you have depression or other mental health problems as it can cause sleep disturbances, anxiety, depression, panic attacks and hallucinations. Disclose any previous mental health problems to your doctor, including mild depression. Chloroquine (also known as Nivaquine or Avloclor) and Proguanil (also known as Paludrine) Rarely recommended nowadays for Africa

because they are largely ineffective against the most common and dangerous malaria strain, Plasmodium falciparum. Atovaquone combined with Proguanil (also known as Malarone) Generally the most expensive option and, therefore, probably best for shorter trips. Popular because there aren’t issues such as possible skin reactions when using Doxycycline in a sunny climate, or possible mental health issues connected with Larium. Drug regimes differ in different regions, and also the length of prophylaxis: the start or end date for taking the drugs may just be a few days or may be weeks, depending upon what you’re taking. Get up-to-date medical advice about your options, which alter as certain drugs become less effective. Some are not suitable for certain groups, such as pregnant or breastfeeding women, epileptics or those with liver/kidney problems. Seek medical advice if you have possible symptoms while in a malarial area or up to approximately a year after returning from one. These are initially flu-like: fever, headache, sweats, chills and vomiting. With some types of malaria, fevers occur in 48-hour cycles alternating from cold and shivering to fever, sweating and fatigue.

IS TUNISIA SAFE? Henry Bevan explores the current security situation A country where the desert stretches into the sea, Tunisia is one of North Africa’s most culturally vibrant locations. After the Arab Spring in 2011, the country’s future feels somewhat brighter, even if it has been in a state of emergency since the terrorist attack in June 2015. Tourism has naturally declined, but there is no reason that experiencing Tunisia’s many delights isn’t safe if travellers are sensible. The FCO advises avoiding the Chaambi Mountain National Park and staying away from the Libyan border, but the ancient city of Carthage as well as the beach resorts in the north are now safe.


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

WHAT TO PACK FOR the jungle Q STAY CLEAN Eco travelling can be difficult, particularly in the jungle. Fortunately, Lifeventure’s AllPurpose Soap and Dry Wash are biodegradable, with a pH-balanced formula that makes them an environmentally friendly way to wash your hair, body or the dishes., from £3.99 Q KEEP THE BUGS AT BAY The jungle’s humid atmosphere is a haven for insects. However, Jungle Formula’s Maximum Aerosol will protect you. Made of 50 per cent DEET, it meets the World Health Organisation’s requirements and is tested against both the Aedes and Anopheles mosquitoes, scientifically proven to prevent those itchy bites., £9.99

Safari Planner The following is a list of all the advertisers in this issue. They are there to help you plan your next safari, so please contact them for more information â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and let them know you saw them in Travel Africa magazine. More information on these companies is also available on our online Safari Planner, at or

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January-March 2018 | Travel Africa


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Chameleon Holidays

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South African Airways


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Travel Africa | January-March 2018



Ever since attending a wedding in South Africa, 54-year-old German photographer Dieter Mendzigall has been fascinated by Africa’s abundant wildlife and breathtaking landscapes. In April 2017, he spent four weeks in Namibia with two friends, both interested in photography. “If you have the chance to meet an animal at its eye level, the result is always more captivating,” he explains. This image was taken at a camp near Mariental, in southcentral Namibia, where Mendzigall and his companions patiently photographed meerkats for hours. THIS PHOTOGRAPH WON THE ‘AFRICA THROUGH MY LENS’ CATEGORY OF THE AFRICA’S PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR 2017 COMPETITION. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT AFRICASPHOTOGRAPHEROFTHEYEAR.COM.


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa


Standing sentinel





CHEETAHS PLUS Saving the rhinoceros from extinction | Stopping the demand for rhino horn Meet AWF’s man on Capitol Hill | Nature’s Best photography competition winners



Kenya: Ngong Rd, Karen P O Box 310, 00502, Nairobi USA: 1100 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Suite 900 Washington, DC 20003 President Kaddu Sebunya Senior Vice President Craig R. Sholley Vice President for Development and Marketing Lindsay Hance Kosnik Director of Marketing and Creative David Oñate Writer and Editorial Manger Jacqueline Conciatore Contributors Megan Berman, Jessica Lindenfelser, Harleen Sehmi

TRAVEL AFRICA is published by Gecko Publishing This edition, January-March 2018, published 29 December 2017. ISSN 2046-133X ON THE COVER Cheetah cub by Michael Poliza Gecko Publishing Ltd, 13 Kelly’s Road, Wheatley, Oxford, OX33 1NT, United Kingdom Tel: +44 (0)1844 278883 TA.magazines @TravelAfricamag travelafricamagazine • • • •

Subscriptions Travel Africa can be delivered directly to you in your most convenient format: • as a traditional printed magazine posted to your door. Order from • as a digital flipbook for your PC, Mac or tablet, from • as a digital flipbook and text format, with additional content, for all mobile platforms via the ‘Travel Africa Magazine’ app on iTunes, Google Play, Kindle Fire and from * Note, the print and app editions of Travel Africa are not currently linked. Please choose your preferred option. Copyright 2017 Gecko Publishing Ltd. No part of this magazine may be reproduced in any form or stored on a retrieval system without the prior permission of the publisher. While every effort is made to ensure that the contents of Travel Africa are accurate at the time of going to press, the publisher cannot accept responsibility for any errors that may appear, or for any consequence of using the information contained herein.



AfricanWildlifeFoundation @AWF_Official @africanwildlifefoundation

Dear friends of African wildlife, Heri ya mwaka mpya! Happy New Year! I am writing to you as the recently elected board chair of the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF). The board met in October in Cape Town, and on the 26th I became the new chair. Being asked to lead the board caused me to reflect on why AWF is so important to both me and my family. One of the most compelling things about AWF is that we are the only conservation organization focused solely on Africa. We do not do snakes in the Amazon or polar bears in the Arctic. Our commitment is to Africa, and because of this, I think we are among the most trusted institutions pan-Africa. We make a difference. For example, our species protection programs have tracked a decrease in rhino and elephant poaching in the landscapes in which we work. Ethiopia’s Simien National Park, where we help develop alternative livelihoods for surrounding communities, was earlier this year removed from the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger — a considerable success! We now have 22 Canines for Conservation “sniffer dogs” that work in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Our next ventures with these remarkable detection dogs will be in Botswana and Mozambique, and we plan to grow this program in the future. In addition to wildlife and land conservation, AWF cares deeply about the people of Africa. With our investments in local eco-lodges and our schools program, Classroom Africa, we have a significant impact on life in the communities. As we teach children about conservation and the importance of their natural heritage (while teaching the regular curriculum), we make a big difference for the future. And, finally, AWF is an excellent steward of your generosity. We have a passionate

We do not do snakes in the Amazon or polar bears in the Arctic. Our commitment is to Africa. and committed staff that works exceedingly hard in sometimes challenging places. They husband our resources, use ingenuity when resources are scarce and do this with a cheerful outlook. I cannot say enough good things about our staff. Africa is a complicated place with 54 countries that are all very different and special. Working with such varied geographies and cultures requires diverse conservation strategies that must be flexible, focused and specific to their contexts. We cannot afford to settle for the status quo. AWF works with African leaders, organizations and communities to help ensure a future for wildlife and wild lands in modern Africa. If we fail, our grandchildren will not live to see elephants and rhinos in the wild. This is the ultimate challenge for all of us, and I ask you to join me in continuing to support this remarkable organization as we look to the future. We are grateful for all your many gifts, your encouragement and your willingness to be ambassadors for African wildlife. Many thanks.

Best wishes,


WHAT’S INSIDE How your assistance is helping to drive conservation across Africa

YO SUPPUR REAL ORT LY Pleas HELPS e vis awf.o it rg/ta -dona te




Rwanda gorilla naming, fighting for cheetahs, AWF response to Trump’s trophy ban decision, protecting Tanzania’s big cats, and much more from across the continent.



What lies ahead for the rhino? How AWF is striving to prevent this iconic species from being poached into extinction and why legalizing the rhino horn trade is not the answer.



02 News roundup

08 Awareness

09 Legacy

partnered with WildAid in China and Vietnam to explain the brutal effects of the rhino horn trade.

Kate Johnson talks about her love for Africa and why she is a keen supporter of AWF.

Joining together to “stop the demand” AWF has

“The dust of Africa never leaves your shoes”

10 Interview

Q&A with Jimmiel Mandima Meet conservation scientist Jimmiel Mandima, who is responsible for the foundation’s work with the public sector.

12 Photography

African wildlife photo winners Enjoy the winning entries in the African Wildlife category of the Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards Competition 2017.

connection 16 Digital AMY SHUTT

What’s happening online Talking rhinos prove popular on social media, plus how to start your own “herdfunding” campaign.

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



Analyzing the conservation impact of eco-lodges, see page 5.


The latest conservation and project updates from across Africa


IT’S A … GORILLA! Volcanoes National Park hosts ‘Kwita Izina’ — baby gorilla naming ceremony With fewer than 1,000 mountain gorillas left in the world, the naming ceremony known as “Kwita Izina” has become one of the biggest conservation celebrations in Africa. In September, the 13th-ever Kwita Izina occurred at Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, and AWF board member and supermodel Veronica Varekova was among those invited to take part. Varekova noted that mountain gorillas are travelers — “global citizens” — who live in three countries: Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo. “It’s partly that freedom to move that has posed both a risk, but also ensured they have survived," Varekova said. Nineteen gorilla babies received names at the


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

celebration, which stems from a traditional childnaming ceremony in Rwanda. In 2008, former AWF CEO Patrick Bergin had the honor of naming a gorilla. He called her “Sacola,” after the community trust that owns Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge. AWF had facilitated a partnership between the community trust and a private-sector operator to construct the lodge, which opened in 2007. The lodge is based on gorilla tourism and promotes wildlife protection by linking conservation to jobs and other benefits to community members. In all, about 240 mountain gorillas have received names over the course of the Kwita Izina ceremonies.

Much like humans can be identified by fingerprints, gorillas can be identified by their nose prints — unique wrinkles on their noses. Researchers use this data to monitor the health of individuals in gorilla populations. AWF, through work with partners, has trained rangers throughout the Virunga mountains, which comprise about 50% of gorilla mountain range, to record births, deaths and other information about gorillas using their unique nose prints.



Researchers use unique nose prints to identify individual gorillas

United Arab Emirates (UAE) set harsh penalties for owning or trading cheetahs and other big cats -- fines of up to $136,000 and jail time up to six months. However, other Gulf states have yet to follow the UAE’s example. Late last year, CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) approved new recommendations designed to curb the cheetah pet trade, including working with social media platforms to raise awareness of the problem. (Many cheetah owners post pictures on Instagram and The “tear tracks” that other platforms.) run from the corner of How AWF works to cheetahs' eyes to their protect cheetahs: mouths provide antiQWith our support, glare protection Kenya’s Mara Cheetah for daytime Project and Mara Lion hunting. Project monitor lion and cheetah populations in the Maasai Mara — a significant stronghold for these cats — while also working to limit habitat loss and mitigate human-wildlife conflict. With its graceful beauty and astonishing QWe also help restore and maintain speed, the magnificent cheetah has become critical wildlife corridors used by the a status symbol, especially among young, wide-ranging cheetah. AWF protects an wealthy people — often men in Gulf states. integral corridor that spans from Amboseli Smugglers traffic cheetah cubs to the Middle National Park to Chyulu Hills and Tsavo East most commonly from the Horn of Africa, West National Park. Through an innovative especially Ethiopia. The journey is dangerous land-lease program, AWF partners with local for the cubs and, sadly, many die en route to landowners to protect critical habitat and their buyers. corridor land for cornerstone species like The good news is that in January 2017, the the cheetah.



Fighting for cheetahs amidst an illegal pet trade IN 1900, THERE were perhaps 100,000 cheetahs thriving across Africa, through the Middle East and into Asia. Today, that picture is vastly different. Cheetahs occupy a thin slice of their former habitat and number only about 7,000. Worse, much of their remaining habitat falls outside of protected areas. The reasons for the crisis include human-wildlife conflict, habitat loss and fragmentation, loss of prey, and a lesserknown threat: the underground pet trade.

AWF responds to Trump trophy ban decisions To better understand the decision-making process relating to these issues, AWF has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Department of Interior. “The recent tweets by President Trump are a positive sign, but we must keep the pressure high,” said Jeff Chrisfield, AWF’s chief operating officer. “Elephant and lion numbers are rapidly declining in Africa, and we need the entire conservation community to be on the record regarding this issue.” AWF acknowledges that well-managed hunting can play a role in financing conservation. However, we are currently opposed to the hunting of elephants, lions and rhino due to the current poaching crisis and critical population numbers. Rather than emphasizing elephant

and lion trophy hunting as a primary solution, AWF urges the government to directly support anti-poaching efforts and related community livelihoods improvement.


In a tweet on Nov. 17, President Donald Trump appeared to have bowed to pressure from AWF and the global conservation community, stating: “Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke.” The process by which the Administration reached decisions on the importation of lion and elephant hunting trophies is alarming. The notice published in the Federal Register by the U.S. Department of Interior Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on Nov. 17 concerned only elephant trophies from Zimbabwe. However, USFWS is also allowing importation of lion trophies from Zimbabwe, as well as elephant and lion trophies from Zambia.

Travel Africa | January-March 2018


AFRICA’S LARGEST CAT may be king of the savanna, but that status doesn’t protect lions from the threats of poaching, habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict and climate change effects. Lion populations have plummeted 43 percent in just the past two decades, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. To help ensure the continued existence of this majestic species, AWF scientists track these elusive predators using collars equipped with radio transmitters. The collars let scientists track the cat's movements and monitor disease, home range, productivity, behavior, habitat use, survival and predator-prey interaction. Scientists can even use collars to help them estimate populations. The collar’s radio transmitter emits a frequency allowing scientists to closely track lions up to 5 km away. Collaring the big cats is done only under strict veterinary supervision, to ensure the health and safety of the lion. AWF-trained conservationists have

90% 4

January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

GROWING THREAT Tigers have long been killed for socalled medicinal products including “tiger bone wine,” a traditional Chinese product sold as a cure for arthritis or as an aphrodisiac. With tiger populations dwindling, the trade has turned to Africa and its lions. This threat does not affect lions on the same scale as illicit hunting, climate change or habitat loss, but it is alarming, and it is a trend AWF will continue to monitor.

outfitted lions in Manyara Ranch and Tarangire National Park in Tanzania with radio collars. Data from the collars has revealed the extent of retaliation killings by pastoralists outside Tarangire; but in many other landscapes, collaring reduces humanwildlife conflict by alerting guards to warn pastoralists of the presence of lions and keep lions away from cattle and people.




AWF’s Canines for Conservation program has been hard at work busting ivory smugglers at African airports, seaports and border crossings. At Uganda’s Entebbe Airport in August, the canine unit found over 50 pounds of rhino horn hidden in a suitcase. The trafficker was arrested, fined and forced to leave Uganda. While our highly trained sniffer dogs continue to make impressive contraband busts, the arrests mean little if the illegal activities aren’t prosecuted in accordance with the law. AWF, in partnership with the nonprofit organization Space for Giants, has developed a guide for prosecutors to use in court that lays out procedures for submitting evidence, as well as how to successfully use canine-handler testimony. AWF also conducts prosecutor trainings and workshops that analyze wildlife laws in different countries and discuss how to prepare a successful prosecution from start to finish. We have trained more than 600 individuals in prosecutorial workshops.



AFTER THE BUST: Taking the poaching fight to the courts

A MARCH AGAINST POACHING: On October 7, 2017, thousands marched in Nairobi to condemn wildlife poaching and express their love for wildlife. The 4th Annual Global March for Elephants, Rhinos and Lions was sponsored by AWF, Wildlife Direct and others, and featured a celebratory procession along Nairobi's famous Uhuru Highway, ending at the Kenya Wildlife Society.


Gaging conservation impact from a sky view A new AWF study provides evidence that eco-lodges are an effective conservation incentive for communities. The study, led by AWF ecologist David Williams, also describes a convenient way to measure conservation results over time, using open-access imaging resources. The researchers used satellite (Quickbird) imagery available via Google Earth to analyze two topographical features in conservation areas in Kenya: newconstruction density (huts, livestock pens, etc.) and land modification for farming, housing or livestock.

AWF has implemented community-based conservation (CBC) programs on four group ranches: Kijabe, Koija and Tiamamut in the heart of Kenya’s Laikipia-Samburu ecosystem, and Elerai near Amboseli National Park. All CBC programs included eco-lodges except Tiamamut, which established a conservation zone in return for help restoring pasture and with livestock management. Overlaying older satellite images with current imagery, the researchers found no development in Kijabe and Elerai's conservation zones, significant development in Tiamamut's and mixed results in Koija’s. The

most heartening finding was that Kijabe’s Ol Lentille sanctuary expanded its conservation area more than seven-fold through agreements with neighboring communities. AWF’s eco-lodge approach rests on the belief that local communities are best positioned to manage their land and deliver conservation results. Lodges generate jobs and benefits — direct, sustainable conservation incentives. The study, published in Environmental Conservation, offers conservationists an inexpensive and accessible approach to measuring conservation results.

Unveiling new wildlife tourism opportunities in Uganda donations to fund the country’s parks. Partnerships with investors in commercial tourism can yield increased revenue for surrounding communities while achieving a sustainable funding solution. AWF President Kaddu Sebunya said, “This investment forum offers an opportunity to start planning appropriately. We have an opportunity to attract the best global operators if the design and incentives are structured correctly and ensure that a percentage of revenue changes the lives of Ugandans.”


An October investment forum coorganized by AWF and hosted by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni showcased new wildlife tourism investment opportunities. The Giants Club Conservation & Tourism Investment Forum held in Kampala attracted more than 150 tourism operators, investors and government officials for the unveiling of a suite of investment-ready sites in protected areas. Each year, the Ugandan government spends upwards of $30 million in grants and

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



AWF supports black rhino protection at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. OPPOSITE PAGE: Ngulia sanctuary harbors black rhino.

What lies ahead for the rhino? A future for rhino: This iconic species has been poached for years. Now is the time to save it from extinction


here are about 25,000 rhinos in all of Africa today. This number becomes more meaningful — and painful — when you consider rhinos’ former strength on the continent: Black rhinos once numbered in the hundreds of thousands, perhaps up to 850,000, while southern white rhinos were widespread in their range south of the Zambezi river until being almost driven to extinction in the late 1800s. Thankfully, in recent decades conservation efforts have reversed the trend toward extinction. But in 2008, demand for rhino horn, especially in China, Vietnam and other Asian countries, led to a dramatic poaching increase. 6

January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

While in 2007 poachers killed a total of 13 rhinos in South Africa — which is where most of Africa’s rhinos live today (more than 80 percent) — by the peak of the poaching crisis in 2014, that number was 1,215. What fuels the demand? Many people who buy rhino horn use it in alternative medicine, even though rhino horn is made of keratin — the same materials that’s in our fingernails and toenails — and has zero medicinal value. Buyers also “use” rhino horns to display as trophies. AWF and other conservation organizations responded to the rhino poaching crisis with a variety of conservation measures designed to stop the killing, permanently disrupt the trade, ensure that black-marketeers are prosecuted in accordance with the law, and curb demand. These measures have had encouraging results. Between 2014 and 2016, after seven years of dramatic rises in poaching rates, the number of killings in South Africa dropped slightly, to 1,054. The tenuousness of this victory made a recent ruling in South Africa all the more distressing. This constitutional court decision in April 2017 overturned a 2009 moratorium on domestic rhino horn trade. AWF unequivocally denounced this ruling, arguing that a legal trade could reverse important gains, much like the one-time “experimental” sales of ivory did beginning in 2008. (See “Lesson Already Learned?” opposite.) We also argue that legalizing rhino horn trade can provide a lawful cover for traffickers. (In fact, the South African

Department of Environmental Affairs admits it does not have the means to regulate and monitor legal rhino horn online trade.) Furthermore, legalization sends a message that the market is thriving and could reignite fading old beliefs that rhino horn possesses medicinal properties.


A 2016 study showed an “abrupt, significant, permanent, robust” increase in poaching after an international wildlife body decided to allow a limited trade in ivory South Africa’s 2017 decision not to maintain a ban on the sale or purchase of rhino horn could have devastating consequences for rhinos, which are being poached at alarming rates. The rhino breeders pushing for legalization argue that a legal trade will undercut the value of black-market rhino horn and therefore reduce poaching. However, a 2016 study of a similar event — the limited sale of legal ivory — tells a different story. Solomon Hsiang of the University of California, Berkeley and Nitin Sekar of Princeton University looked at elephant mortality data to see if CITES’ 2008 decision to allow an experimental sale of legal ivory (collected from elephants that have died naturally) had slowed poaching. Their analysis of data collected by a global network of field researchers showed a 66 percent increase in poaching rates. “We find that a singular legal ivory sale corresponds with an abrupt, significant, permanent, robust, and geographically widespread increase in the production of illegal ivory through elephant poaching, with a corresponding 2009 increase in seizures of raw ivory contraband leaving African countries,” they wrote. Why the increase? Hsiang and Sekar believe re-legalizing ivory purchases drew new consumers to the market and gave cover to poachers who mixed illegal product in with legitimate ivory. The findings are generalizable to other markets for products from species with slow reproduction rates, like rhinos, the scientists said. Below, you can see the trend upward in the discovery of poached elephant carcasses after CITES’ 2008 decision.



AWF strives to stop the slaughter of endangered species like rhinos, elephants and lions, while also stifling the dynamic markets of illegal wildlife products. Building the anti-poaching capacity of wildlife authorities is the first step, which includes providing technology for monitoring species’ numbers and threat levels. This information can then inform the development of conservation strategies. Our specific rhino work includes supporting the Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary in Kenya, a stronghold for the remaining black rhino population, where rhinos share a 90-sq.-km fencedin area with other wildlife. AWF has provided Kenya Wildlife Service with much-needed financial and equipment support for Ngulia and the surrounding wildlife zone. We’ve equipped the sanctuary with fences, ranger uniforms, camera traps and other equipment. We’ve also helped Ngulia make infrastructure improvements such as restoring and strengthening a pump system that feeds reservoirs on the sanctuary. Likewise, AWF has facilitated equipment procurement and skills training for rangers at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, a stronghold for black rhino in Kenya. AWF’s training of rangers in poaching law enforcement helps ensure that poachers find no loopholes to evade prosecution for their crimes once they’re caught. AWF also deploys trained sniffer dogs at transportation hubs in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to ferret out contraband. The dog-andhandler teams have increased the detection of illegal wildlife products trafficked through these ports, making more than 120 finds of rhino horn and ivory to date. Meanwhile, AWF’s awareness campaigns continue to educate global audiences about the real cost of wildlife products, highlighting how many iconic species are already under threat from habitat fragmentation and human-wildlife conflict before they even cross paths with poachers and hunters. In Vietnam and China, awareness campaigns have increased public understanding about poaching, the vulnerability of rhinos as a species and the fact that rhino horn is not a valid medicine. (See story, page 8.)


Travel Africa | January-March 2018


72% of respondents have shown a stronger intent not to buy rhino horn.




horn. Weidu is a premier antique collector, author and appraiser in China. In 1997, he opened China’s first private museum and has pledged to no longer purchase ivory or rhino horn items. The informational PSAs were released on World Rhino Day and showed Weidu explaining the brutal truth about where horn comes from, and advocating that antique collectibles should be about culture, not destruction. These ads were launched in China and appeared on television, online media and in airports. As of November 2017, the social media content garnered nearly 20 million views.



THE KILLING CAN TOO Talking rhino ads show the brutal effects of poaching and are viewed by millions


hen the buying stops, the killing can too. That’s the slogan of the successful “Stop the Demand” campaign aimed at ending the rhino horn trade. AWF and WildAid partnered with local Vietnamese nonprofit organization CHANGE to raise awareness and conduct surveys about beliefs and attitudes in Vietnam regarding the realities facing rhinos in Africa. Rhino populations have plummeted 95% in the last 40 years, primarily from poaching as result of the demand for rhino horns. Rhino horns are made of keratin, the same material as human fingernails, and have no medicinal or healing properties. However, horns


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

are coveted as a status symbol, used in traditional medicine and carved into trinkets.

BRUTAL TRUTH According to the 2017 AWF/WildAid survey of residents in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, only 9.4% of Vietnamese citizens believed rhino horn could cure cancer, an improvement from the 34.5% that thought so in 2014. The same survey showed a 74% increase in respondents that knew that rhinos were killed for their horn, up from the 31% in 2014. AWF recently teamed up with WildAid and Chinese collector Ma Weidu to launch a series of video ads aimed at reducing demand for rhino

TOP: Ma Weidu billboard. It says: “Collectibles rooted in killing are valueless. Be a conveyor of culture, not a transmitter of death. Rhinos are facing extinction. Please say no to rhino horn products.” ABOVE LEFT: After a workshop organized by AWF with partners WildAid and CHANGE, doctors and other caregivers in Vietnam signed a promise not to use rhino horn to treat cancer. ABOVE RIGHT: AWF works to end the demand for rhino horn, which is used in alternative medicine and for trophies.

The collaboration between AWF and WildAid has increased awareness about the devastating effects of rhino poaching since the partnership began in 2012. Most notably, between 2014 and 2016, there has been a 258% increase in the understanding that rhino horn is composed of substances found in hair and fingernails. As a result, 72% of the 2016 survey respondents have shown a stronger intent not to buy rhino horn in the future. Weidu noted, “In the course of collecting cultural items, I’ve realized that though these items are historical, they can have a significant impact on the world today. I have not only pledged to no longer purchase any ivory or rhino horn items, I’m also persistently conveying the message that if we must choose between protecting wildlife or cultural collectibles, wildlife is far more important.” AWF will continue to collaborate with WildAid on awareness-building campaigns to protect the African rhino and stop the poaching demand that decimates their population. —Megan Berman

The dust of Africa never leaves your shoes

The beauty of the natural world needs to be preserved for future generations, says AWF supporter Kate Johnson




ate Johnson of Minneapolis, Minn., draws her life’s inspiration from two passions: the arts and nature. Perhaps, she muses, this is because both realms exemplify beauty. Kate has a master’s degree in art history and worked for 27 years at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. She also taught college-level art programs for seven years. A true renaissance woman, she loves gardening, birding, Cuban and African dance and music, visiting art museums and travel — especially to Africa! Kate’s interest in Africa developed in the 1990s. At first Africa had seemed too big, and travel too difficult to arrange. But then a forest-ranger friend from Ireland planned a “crazily inexpensive” tour for a small group, and she decided to take the plunge. She now considers travel to Africa “a piece of cake” and would “gladly hop on a plane back there tomorrow!”

LIFE CHANGING Following her first two trips with a friend, Kate’s husband, Scott — an architect whom she met on a friend’s hobby farm — decided it was finally time to see Africa and discover his wife’s passion for Africa himself. He joined her on her third trip, to Namibia, and it changed his life. He particularly loved the landscapes. Kate enthuses, “You fly into the capital and it looks like a giant has tipped all of these mountain ranges on their sides at 45 degrees. The geology is astonishing. The desert is the oldest on the earth and constantly changing because of the wind that comes from Antarctica, slowly moving the dunes.”

TOP: The wildlife such as these giraffe in Namibia, as well as the people she’s met, have made AWF supporter Kate Johnson a frequent visitor to the continent. ABOVE: A meerkat has found a prime viewing spot, and Kate obliges.

While the wildlife viewing was spectacular, it was the people that made the biggest impression, particularly the Himba from Namibia, who live traditionally, as they did hundreds of years ago. “It really is true that you go to Africa for the animals, but remember the people,” she says. Once you’ve visited Africa and its people, “it’s very hard to stay away,” she adds. “The dust of Africa never leaves your shoes.”

AFRICAN VOICE Kate has been a member of AWF for 30 years, and she and Scott have made AWF a beneficiary of their wills. She is impressed with AWF’s emphasis on being an African voice for conservation and providing Africans with the education, empowerment and the tools needed to do the job. When asked why she has included a gift for AWF in her estate, Kate replies

thoughtfully, “It seems critical that the beauty of the natural world be preserved for future generations. “Just think of all the things we are still learning from plants and animals. Everyone knows that you feel better after walking in the woods. We have only begun to scratch the surface of what we can learn from the natural world, and we must not rob the future of this knowledge. “Scott and I have been wage earners all our lives. We don’t own a business, nor are we wealthy. This is our second marriage, and we do not have any children, but even if we did, we would still want to make an impact on organizations and missions that made a difference in our lives. “Our family and friends are all aware of and applaud our plans. They too are thinking about which organizations made them who they are today, and are planning to give back.”

Travel Africa | January-March 2018




Jimmiel Mandima Meet the conservation scientist who represents AWF on Capitol Hill Dr. Jimmiel Mandima is responsible for AWF’s work with the public sector, which means developing and managing relationships with the agencies that in 2017 funded approximately 29 percent of our work. As director of program design and partner relations, Mandima also advocates for African wildlife conservation on Capitol Hill and to the White House and government agencies. An aquatic ecologist from Zimbabwe, Mandima began his AWF career in his home country, as Zambezi Heartland Director. Before that, he was a research fellow at the University of Zimbabwe Lake Kariba Research Station, where he focused on sustainable use of fisheries. He recently earned his Ph.D. in biological sciences from the University of Eastern Finland. Here, he discusses his work at AWF, what gives him hope for conservation and some differences between conservation work in the states versus in Africa.

TOP: “My role is to manage our U.S. government portfolio, to speak about what we do in Africa, and hopefully that influences or informs strategic thinking.” ABOVE RIGHT: Mandima was a project officer before joining the U.S. team in Washington, D.C.


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

HOW DID YOU COME TO JOIN AWF? Back in 1999, I represented the university research station — where I was working in Kariba — in scoping and planning meetings with AWF. It was clear they were very keen to work with partners. Fast forward a few months — I was invited to another meeting. I got there, and they said, “Do you know why you are here?” I said, “Well yeah, to discuss how we can partner.” And they said, “We want to offer you a position.” That was in late 2001, and in 2002 I joined. Also, at that time I volunteered for a local NGO called the Wildlife Society of Zimbabwe (now Wildlife Environment Zimbabwe). I championed what became a nationwide primary school-based environmental education program. We set up an educational museum for schools and a campsite in Kuburi Wilderness area of Kariba, where kids could experience hands-on the basics of ecosystem functions. So, for AWF that piece was probably more critical

than my science and research background. I was already doing wildlife conservation.

YOU JOINED AWF AS A PROJECTS OFFICER FOR THE FIRST TWO YEARS. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE VALUE OF FIELD EXPERIENCE? I believe that that’s where the rubber meets the road. Being able to be in the field in our kind of jobs — in terms of partner relations and engaging U.S. government partners and communicating about our programs — allows me to intimately articulate the reality of what’s happening now. Secondly it gives me a one-onone with technical colleagues who are implementing projects every day, so I learn a lot; and likewise, I also get to throw in my own knowledge. It’s a two-way enrichment.

AND THEN CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR ROLE HERE AT AWF? First and foremost, my role is to manage our U.S. government portfolio, to speak about what we do in Africa, and hopefully that influences or informs strategic thinking. It requires talking across the entire portfolio. The key agencies are USAID, the Department of the Interior, with a focus on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and now, more and more, the Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. Overall, I particularly engage the key players leading the government’s interagency efforts to combat wildlife trafficking.

WHAT DO YOU GLEAN FROM BETWEEN THE LINES OR EVEN WHAT PEOPLE TELL YOU DIRECTLY IS AWF’S REPUTATION AS A CONSERVATION ORGANIZATION AND HOW EFFECTIVE IT IS? AWF is highly regarded, in fact, it is seen as the only credible voice — I can arguably say that — to articulate the African context. Because we also do actually more multi-year, field-based work, we have clout. Most government agencies co-design strategies on a regular basis to inform U.S. government support to conservation in Africa, and they are keen to listen to the authentic African voice that AWF offers.

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE DIFFERENCES YOU OBSERVE IN WORKING ON CONSERVATION IN THE U.S. VERSUS IN AFRICA? The value of conservation in Africa transcends into livelihoods. It’s about putting food on the table. A key question asked by an ordinary villager is “What does it mean for me?” And often when we think communities don’t get it and they keep doing so-called “illegal things” — it’s because they’ve got to put food on the table. In contrast, on this side, people are very passionate. But, they don’t put that same passion into engaging with local communities to appreciate the context — why certain things happen the way they do — to the point of assuming that the people are backward or don’t get it. I say to people, “Remember, people there have always co-existed intimately with nature. They get medicines there. They get firewood there. Why would they want to finish their forest and end up with no firewood? But what options are there?” When agencies go into communities and say, “You should do this.” “Don’t do this.” Of course, that doesn’t work. “Who are you to tell me what not to do? When you don’t even ask me why I’m doing what I’m doing?”

But I must say however that I’ve seen a lot of shift from this age-old approach. Things have changed, which is why I’m hopeful.

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT TOP GOALS AND CHALLENGES FOR YOUR PROGRAM? My first goal is very basic: to get the current administration to maintain the U.S. government leadership on issues to do with biodiversity conservation. The second is to see how much we can mobilize the corporate world to recognize that the sustenance of their businesses is reliant on functional ecosystems, which means wildlife and wild lands. I think the corporate world should invest commensurate with what they get out of the continent. The challenges are, the current administration seems to be towing a line of trivializing a lot of the U.S. biodiversity issues on the global scale, starting with climate change and pushing to shrink the conservation budget.

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT AWF THAT THEY MAY NOT KNOW? I think AWF genuinely looks at how wildlife and wild lands should be tangible contributors to human well-being in Africa. It’s about conservation actually contributing to the quality of life, to the development and economic growth of Africa. The other is African ownership — that Africans should take leadership. I think that’s unique. The AWF team is more than 85 percent African. That we established headquarters in Kenya is a very clear statement of AWF’s priorities and vision, one that I believe is unique to us.

ISN’T AFRICAN OWNERSHIP THE ONLY PRAGMATIC SOLUTION? WHAT ELSE WILL WORK? Nothing. The thing is, we have to prioritize community engagement. You can put money into putting fences up. If you don’t engage, they look at you, they say, “Your money will get finished. We’ll cut the fences anyway if we want to.” And they’ll do it. They get arrested, they probably have no money to pay the fine anyway, or they get free food in the jail. So, it’s about that — that’s what distinguishes AWF. We look at African ownership at all levels. Staff, community engagement and partnerships on the ground.

WHAT GIVES YOU HOPE? I’m really optimistic firstly because of the difference I see AWF making. We’ve tested our landscape-level conservation approach and we know it works — we know success requires cross-jurisdictional collaboration and coordination of entities such as wildlife authorities. We’re now scaling up, and our approaches are being used by other organizations. We are pragmatic and adaptive to reality — look at our Classroom Africa program, which is an education program but with considerable, measurable impacts in conservation. Secondly, over the last few years I’ve seen wildlife and conservation champions emerging on the African continent, in national governments, regional economic orgs and all the way to the African Union. With that kind of policy, governance-level buyin, we then have a platform to say, ‘Based on your aspirations, we are now doing this.’ So that gives me tremendous hope. Finally, combatting wildlife trafficking is now a global movement. It never used to be. Now we are all united — there is a critical mass.

Travel Africa | January-March 2018


African wildlife photo winners “Gorgeous,” “evocative,” “intense” are just some of the words we use to describe the photos featured here, from the 2017 Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards competition


African Lionesses Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya By Lakshitha Karunarathna “It was early morning in the Great Rift Valley as we were searching for a famous pride of lionesses with many subadults. Not even half an hour into the park, we spotted the pride next to the road. Since it was very cold, the females were piled on top of each other, forming three groups and staying close. This particular set grabbed my attention because they were staring glassy-eyed in different directions. I wanted to capture all possible details in the frame with a tight crop to make a striking black and white conversion.”


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

AFRICAN WILDLIFE WINNER VReticulated Giraffes Samburu National Reserve, Kenya By Piper Mackay “While driving across the stunning African landscape, we came upon five pairs of young male giraffes ‘necking,’ sparring for dominance. Necks were swinging in high arcs, delivering thundering blows to their opponents and sending echoes across the plain. The picturesque scene was spectacular, yet I wanted to capture an image that revealed the power and emotion of this behavior.”


AFRICAN WILDLIFE HIGHLY HONORED Crowned Cranes Ndutu Area, Serengeti, Tanzania By Russ Burden “We were cruising the Ndutu Lake bed area when I saw two crowned cranes foraging and looking quite regal. For a brief moment, their paths crossed; they paused and I waited until the moving ripples created by the walking of one of the birds calmed to mirror quality. I got three shots while they struck an interesting pose that lasted less than ten seconds.”

Travel Africa | January-March 2018


AFRICAN WILDLIFE HIGHLY HONORED VLeopard Cub Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Londolozi, South Africa By Anthony Goldman


“While I was on safari in South Africa, this was a wonderful sighting. A female leopard and her 11-month-old cub were together at an impala kill and the mom had hoisted the cub up a tree. Although the kill initially was stolen by a hyena, the adult leopard managed to retrieve the kill and put it in the tree for safe keeping. This photo shows the young cub relaxing on a branch.”

Mountain Gorilla Volcanoes National Park, Virunga Mountains, Rwanda By Brian Burnett “On a recent expedition, I had planned well and was fortunate to encounter the mountain gorilla. There are conflicting population census counts, but firsthand information from our guide and ranger, who works closely with the ‘Gorilla Doctors,’ estimates there were about 1,150 individuals in the Virunga mountains of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the time. There is nowhere else in the world to see these magnificent animals.”


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

AFRICAN WILDLIFE HIGHLY HONORED VAfrican Wild Dogs Mkuze, South Africa By Bence Máté


“While adult wild dogs are merciless killers, their puppies are extremely cute as they play all day with each other or whatever they find. These three pups were dragging the leg of an impala in three different directions. I was lucky to shoot this scene of a rare and endangered species in such a clean environment with good light at the moment they were running toward me.”

Cheetah Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya By David Lloyd

“This tree was the perfect lookout point for the cheetah mother. She had not eaten for a while and was searching for a meal to feed herself and her two cubs. I opted not to get too close, instead staying back to include the shape of the tree, which proved to be the perfect prop for a photo. Overexposing on the overcast sky provided the high key look.”

EXPLORE THE PHOTOS UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL AWF is proud to sponsor the “African Wildlife” category in the prestigious Nature’s Best

nature’s Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards competition. Each year, AWF



publishes the award-winning photos in donor publications such as this one. You can also view these spectacular photos in person at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. through September 2018.

Travel Africa | January-March 2018



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Gather your herd Elephants, rhinos, giraffes, great apes and so many more wild lives need our protection. If you want to help them or even just want to try your hand at fundraising, then by all means,

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Awareness building is critical to ending the demand for rhino horn. That’s where our latest video ad — the "Talking Rhino” — comes in. In September, in partnership with WildAid, we released a moving public service ad — starring a talking rhinoceros — to drive home the horrors of poaching from a rhino’s perspective. The video reached more than 4 million people in just one week. Please help use spread the message and share the video!


January-March 2018 | Travel Africa

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