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Must see locations, events and places to travel and enjoy in Africa.
Must see locations, events and places to travel and enjoy in Africa.
Early in South African history the site of the Free State National Botanical Garden was inhabited by Iron Age Basotho dwellers. Remains of their pottery have been found and are on display in the Education Centre. The Free State National Botanical Garden dates back to 1965, and is one of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)’s ten national botanical gardens in South Africa. SANBI is a statutory body whose mandated focus is on South Africa’s national biodiversity heritage.
The garden spans a valley between dolerite koppies (small hills) capped with rocky outcrops – typical of the area.
The natural vegetation is composed of grassland, woodland and fascinating Karoo plants. Succulents and bulbous plants form a natural garden amongst the rocks on the koppies and can be seen along the scenic nature trails.
The garden has an abundance of wildlife, including over 140 bird species, 54 reptile species and about 32 mammal species, with over 300 plant species in the developed area.
Lapa: The lapa can be used for social functions such as birth-day parties, weddings, year-end functions, etc. it is equipped with chairs and tables, a stove with oven, and a fridge.
Marquee area: A picturesque marquee lawn is available for big functions. The lawn is 35 m wide and 70 m long. This area is suitable for functions such as weddings, concerts, meetings, birthday parties, etc.
Walking trails: We encourage all visitors to walk the beautiful Motshetshe and Garden View trails. These will showcase the beauty and diversity of our Free State plants.
Nursery: We encourage the use of indigenous plants in home gardens by making them available at competitive prices. This service is available daily. A special plant sale is held annually, usually late September, with the full support of the Botanical Society of South Africa.
Braai area: A braai area is available for visitors who want to dine alfresco.
Environmental education: To further the vision of environmental education for sustainable living, our programmes offer learners hands-on experience in the garden environment Guided tours: Guided tours for schools and other interest groups require prior arrangements with the administration office, during working hours. Restaurant: The restaurant operates privately. Visitors can bring the whole family and enjoy good service from the restaurant with a stunning view of the garden. The kids can play on the lawns in front of the restaurant while you relax with a sundowner.
The water-wise demonstration garden illustrates the use of indigenous Free State plants to conserve water in domestic gardens. A self-guided tree route introduces visitors to 43 of South Africa’s beautiful indigenous trees along our two walking trails.
Shimmy Beach Club is South Africa’s premier lifestyle destination venue. Guests dine in a spectacular beachfront setting, idling away the hours in exclusive lounges, decks, VIP areas and a restaurant, with Table Mountain as a backdrop. Voted one of the world’s top ten beach venues, Shimmy is the perfect place for everything from a simple family get-together, to exclusive conferences and elaborate events, owing to its clever layout and versatile decks, breakaway rooms and lounges. During Shimmy’s summer campaign, “Summer Calling” weekends are filled with top DJ’s creating the best parties in Cape Town. Download the Shimmy App on Google Play & Apple App Store or scan the QR codes below.
CHRISTMAS LUNCH AT SHIMMY – Shimmy Beach Club will be hosting an extravagant, plush Christmas lunch buffet. Guests can book a fable in the 220-seafer restaurant where live entertainment from Ricky Botsis will set the ambiance for the evening. Cost: R895 pp overl3 years, R175 pp for children 3-12 years.
ONS ROCK! Come and have a great time with family and friends while listening to your favourite Afrikaans singers at the Afrikaans Rock event hosted at Shimmy Beach Club. Afrikaans Rock, in partnership with Klipdrift Brandy, bring together for the first lime, South African music’s biggest names. With a line-up that exceeds any Afrikaans music lovers dream, this is a show that is not to be missed. 3 December 2016 will see I Die Heuwefe Fanfasfies and Fokofpolisiekir returning to the Shimmy Stage and Karen Zoid I will make sure we are all reminded as to why ‘afrikaners is plesierig’. Also keeping crowds I entertained are Soulh African favourites Jack Parrow and Francois van Coke.
AWARD WINNING INTERNATIONAL DJ, BLACK COFFEE, SIGNS HIS FIRST SOUTH AFRICAN RESIDENCY FOR SUMMER 2016
Shimmy Beach Club is thrilled to announce a new resident DJ for Friday nights throughout the 2016 summer season. Multi-award winning DJ and Producer, Black Coffee, will be hitting the decks live at Shimmy Beach Club, starting on Friday, 09 December 2016. Arguably the most prominent house music producer in Africa, Durban born Nkosinathi Maphumulo, known as Black Coffee, has released five albums under his record label, Soulistic Music. He was awarded a BET award for Best International Act In Africa this year. In 20017 he became a household name in the SA DJ scene, firing up floors with his tribally infectious, vocal-laced beats.
Additionally, he recently won 4 awards at the South African Music Awards (SAMA) including Album of the Year, Best Dance Album, Best Engineered Album and the International Achievement Award. In 2015 he was also awarded ‘Breakthrough DJ of the Year” in Ibiza and has been nominated again this year in the ‘Deep House” category for the 2016 DJ Awards. Black Coffee’s penchant for true Afropolitan house: home-brewed but fresh and future-focused. The global superstar believes that the use of live instruments in a song is very important, as it brings the track to life.
SUBMERGED SUNDAYS will once again be headlined by GOLDFISH, who will be supported by a host of internationally acclaimed artists from around the world.
Book now for Goldfish on the following dates: December 2016:4, 11, 26, 28; January 2017: 1,8
ARMADA NIGHTS sees acts from:
De Hofnar on 17 December 2016
Pretty Pink on 27 December 2016
The closest parking lot to Shimmy Beach Club is The Clock Tower parking, V&A Waterfront, with Shimmy shuttles running frequently between the venue and the parking. It is however recommended that parlygoers make use of a reliable taxi service. Voted as Cape Town’s hottest Club by Zomato, Shimmy Beach Club is headed by Group CEO Nicky van der Walt. This premier party venue balances the style of international party life and the laid-back atmosphere of Cape Town, making it a stylish venue to rival Ibiza’s beach club scenes.
Yes, yes, very waxing of the lyric but that is how one feels when on a paddle cruiser (yes, you heard right), sailing past the magnificent cliffs on either side in the last light of an autumn day, sipping champagne and eating oysters. The quaint town of Knysna always reminds me more of a movie set than a place where people live every-day, banal lives, concerned with the trite trivia and idle gossips of a small town community. The boat is a two-storey affair with soft lighting and the excited sounds of kids aged between very new and teenage fill the chilly sea air as we slowly drift across the olive coloured sea. The mist blurs the surrounding majestic cliffs and sky together.
This is the only paddle driven boat in South Africa by the way so don’t expect an adrenaline heart-stopping type thing at a top speed of 3.8 knots per hour…The cruise goes to the famous Knysna Heads and back and lasts for about an hour and a half. One of the best reasons for living in my opinion is one of the things Knysna is world famous for – oysters. God created oysters to make up for nasty things like that Black Plague incident, Hitler and boy bands. I’m staying at the smart and sophisticated four star Rex Hotel just this side of the Waterfront and located very centrally I have a delicious steak dinner at the restaurant DISH with my charming host Jeannine Orzechowski from Knysna Tourism.
The following morning I wake up regretting the copious amounts of Van Loveren Brut the previous night. Accompanied by my friend Meinie who lives in the area, we make our way along the coast to the world-famous primate sanctuary Monkeyland, just past Plettenberg Bay. Monkeyland is an astonishing place. It opened its doors to the public in 1998. According to their website, this unique primate sanctuary is currently the top eco-tourism attraction on the Garden Route and for very sound and sunny reasons. Monkeyland has captured the hearts of visitors in its efforts to rehabilitate and free previously caged primates. They are free to move about the forest and this they do most harmoniously.
Adjacent to the monkeys are the birds…of course. Birds of Eden is a bird sanctuary which is housed in a unique two hectare dome (the world’s largest) and spans over a gorge of indigenous forest. The sanctuary has its own mysterious ruin, which incorporates a walk-behind waterfall. Another feature is its amphitheatre, which has the ability to seat over 200 visitors. It boasts its own canopy walk and, while shorter than the 128m bridge at Monkeyland, it hangs above the clouds on this cold and rainy day. The sanctuary even enables bird owners to apply to release their own pet birds into the sanctuary. Next it’s off down the road to the Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre. Guests here are taken on a guided tour to meet captive-bred furry felines, living in a semi-natural environment. Not everyday you can say “I stroked a leopard…”
During the one hour guided tours you are guaranteed to see the charismatic cheetah, ZweLakhe the Leopard and enjoy a cat and mouse game with South Africa’s seldomly seen lesser indigenous cats, such as the African Wild Cat, servals, caracal and the rare Black-Footed Cat. For the more adventurous, the Centre offers a walk with the Tenikwa cheetahs. That night, after a glorious dinner at 34 Tapas, I crawl into my warm bed, lulled to sleep by the soft rain and the cool sea air. The next day, a terribly hedonistic massage and delectable lunch at the five star Simola Hotel await me. Located high up in the hills above Knysna, Simola Golf & Country Estate is a world apart.
Fairways merge seamlessly with lush indigenous vegetation and forests, creating an evocative vista of undulating green hills and dales descending gently down to the Knysna River. From its vantage point, the 325-hectare Estate looks out on a spectacular panorama encompassing the full expanse of the Knysna Lagoon, all the way to the Heads and beyond to the sea. I wish to stay but before I know it, the time has dragged me away from this special hide-away on our beautiful coast, one of the most beautiful towns in a lithe world…
Battlefields are inherently eerie. Often remote and protected from development, there’s an almost unnatural stillness about them – the breeze seems muted, the shush of the grass quieter than elsewhere, and the cairns, graves and memorials somehow unchanged despite the passage of time. But visit with a knowledgeable guide who can narrate the story of the battle, and it’s easy to completely immerse yourself in the story, and almost, just almost, hear the batt le cries, rifle shot and the moans of the wounded, smell the smoke and the fear, and see the epic clash of soldiers gripped in combat. KwaZulu-Natal is home to some of South Africa’s most important battlefields from the Voortrekker-Zulu Wars, the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, the Transvaal War of Independence and the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902.
Each of these conflicts, not to mention others too numerous to mention here, played an integral part in shaping the history of our fledgling nation – both for the good and the bad.
Sadly, the battlefields tend to be visited mostly by foreigners whose forebearers fought and died on KZN’s plains. If you went to school in KZN,
chances are you visited Isandlwana or one of the other battlefields as part of a school tour, and as good an experience as it is for young people, the geopolitics, nuances and repercussions of these great events can be somewhat lost on kids. The batt lefields are reasonably easy to reach, there are guides on hand and they’re generally surrounded by excellent places to stay and other attractions – so why not veer off the well-beaten track, and see them for yourself?
ISANDLWANA – The Battles of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift are two of the most famous battles in South Africa’s history, let alone the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, with one serving as possibly the Zulu nation’s greatest battlefield victory, and the other serving as one of Great Britain’s greatest defensive actions. The Battle of Isandlwana was the first major encounter between the British and King Cetshwayo’s Zulu kingdom. The centre column of the British forces under the command of Lord Chelmsford, camped on the eastern slope of the Isandlwana Mountain – notable for its resemblance to the Sphinx.
Underestimating the Zulu capabilities, the British did not laager their wagons or entrench, and Chelmsford took the majority of his force to search for the main Zulu army, leaving behind some 1400 men to defend the camp. The 20,000-strong Zulu army thoroughly outmanoeuvred Chelmsford, and on 22 January 1879 attacked the camp. In the ensuing battle, more than 1300 British and Colonial soldiers died, and it was Britain’s worst defeat against an indigenous foe in its history. Although there was no casualty count of the Zulu losses, it’s estimated that 1000-2000 Zulu soldiers lost their lives.
RORKE’S DRIFT – But the drama didn’t end as the last soldier fell at the foot of Isandlwana. in the aftermath of the battle, an impi of some 4000 Zulu warriors crossed the Buffalo River and attacked the British Commissariat and Hospital at the Mission station at Rorke’s Drift. A small British garrison of 140 men repelled the Zulu attack for 11 hours through the night, losing only 17 men and leaving 600 Zulu warriors dead. It’s a remarkable battle which saw 11 Victoria Crosses (the most ever received for a single action by one regiment) and 4 Distinguished Conduct Medals awarded to the brave men manning the garrison. The buildings used in the defence have been turned into a museum and interpretation centre, which tell the story in vivid detail, but it’s hard to imagine the stilt, pretty grounds playing host to a night of such carnage.
BLOOD RIVER – The Battle of Blood River was one of the most iconic encounters of the Great Trek, which saw 470 Voortrekkers led by Andries Pretorius defeat a force of an estimated 15,000-20,000 Zulu warriors on the banks of the Ncome (Blood) River on 16 December 1838. Whilst the victory itself is remarkable, what’s even more so is that no Voortrekkers were killed (only three were lightly wounded), whilst there were some 3000 Zulu casualties.
The Voortrekker wagons were laagered, and Pretorius made excellent use of the natural features of the landscape as part of his defences. The battle lasted about three hours, with the Zulus withdrawing in defeat across the river, which ran red with the blood of the dead and wounded, giving rise to the name of the river and battle. Today, two complexes mark the battle site: the Ncome Monument and Museum Complex east of the Ncome River, and the Blood River Monument and Museum Complex to the west, including 64 full size replica bronze wagons set in the format of the original laager.
MAJUBA HILL – Arguably the most decisive battle in the Transvaal War of Independence (also known as the First Boer War), the Battle of Majuba Hill resulted in another humiliating defeat for the British. Fought on Sunday, 27 February 1881, a British force of some 400 men held the top of Majuba Hill, which dominated the Boer positions blocking the Laing’s Nek Pass and the road into the Transvaal When the Boers realised this they stormed the mountain, and killed or captured 256 British soldiers, including the British General, and lost only five men wounded or killed in the process. Although small in scale, the battle led to the signing of a peace treaty and later the Pretoria Convention, between the British and the reinstated South African Republic, ending the First Boer War. The battlefield has a number of graves and monuments to the fallen, and a phenomenal view of the surrounding area.
SPIONKOP – The Battle of Spionkop was one of a number of battles that took place due to efforts by the British to relieve the besieged British Forces in Ladysmith during the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902 (also known as the Second Boer War). Fought on 24 January 1900, the battle was bloody and technically ended in a Boer victory, though for both sides the battle was in many senses a futile one. The battle is also notable in that both Winston Churchill and Mohandas Gandhi were present as a courier to and from Spionkop and British headquarters, and a warrant officer of the Indian Ambulance Corps respectively.
During the night of 23 January 1900, the British occupied the kop, but as dawn broke they discovered they only held the smaller and lower part of the hilltop. The Boers held the higher ground on three sides of the British defensive position, and to compound this the British had been unable to dig suitable trenches, with the hard rock of the kop only yielding trenches 40cm deep. The Boers counter (attacked as the mist rose in the morning, combining artillery fire with a massed attack which resulted in vicious, close quarters combat. The fighting lasted throughout the day, and both sides withdrew once darkness fell, with the Boers occupying the kop the following day.
“Turtle” says Claude our boatman, cutting the engines. There in the shallows, nonchalantly munching on sea grass is a big green turtle. One of five types of turtle found off Nosy Be and Sakatia Island he tells us. Minutes later we’re walking over golden sands to the steps of Sakatia Lodge, where owner Jose Vieira welcomes us. There’s something wonderful about arriving at a destination by boat, a curious freedom and romance. Rinsing the sand off our feet we wander through the leafy garden to the lounge where snacks and welcome drinks await. Along with Frederick, a resident green gecko, who’s shimmied down a post on the bar counter to check us out. Haifa dozen of the passengers off Airlink’s flight from OR Tarribo to Nosy Be have joined us at the lodge and after a quick tour we’re shown to our rooms. Ours is a villa on the beach while others have chosen gorgeous bungalows in the verdant gardens.
I feel a sense of homecoming. This is my third trip to Madagascar, but I’d forgotten how beguiling it is. On my first visit, over a decade ago, I spent a month backpacking around the main island, revelling in its diversity. I soon understood why everyone back home was envious of my visit. Madagascar’s isolation has resulted in an extraordinary biodiversity and level of endemism. Ninety percent of its flora and fauna are found nowhere else in the world. It’s a special place. But the poverty and limited tourist infrastructure of the mainland Madagascar made travelling hard, so for my second visit I chose a luxurious, fully crewed, yacht-based holiday out of Nosy Be. That was a very different escape on which, between trips to islands, we fished, snorkelled and dined in style.
It was divine, and I concluded that Nosy Be offered the perfect balance of tourist facilities, authenticity, wildlife and adventure. Now that I was back I planned to stay put and chill and I couldn’t have picked a better place. Family run by Jose, an Angolan who grew up in South Africa, his Italian wife Isabella “the Minister of Decor”, and Jose’s son Jacques and his Dutch wife Sandra (who also run the dive centre), Sakatia Lodge is new since my last visit. With only eleven accommodation units it’s homely, yet chic. Dinner is a typical Malagasy buffet, a beautifully presented spread of fresh fish, skewers of local zebu cattle, at chars, vegetables and salads. As we wander down the beach looking at the star-studded sky I feel the stresses of city life slipping away.
A few minutes into the boat ride in the morning, Jacques tells us to grab our fins and snorkels. He’s seen a whale shark. Watching the telltale signs of diving birds and jumping fish, we zone in. As soon as I hit the water I see three whale sharks cruising right underneath me, their white spots sparkling like stars. We clamber back onto the boat and the skipper drops us several times more above the gentle giants before he spies a humpback whale and its calf cruising past the bow. In the afternoon we take a tour of the island. Six kilometres long and two wide it has no roads, only a few footpaths linking the villages. Black (Macaco) lemurs (the males black, the females actually brown with pretty white tuffs on their ears) stare down at us from a big mango tree and a chameleon poses obligingly on a branch.
Our guide points out the evil-smelling fruits of the noni plant. Utilised by healers for thousands of years it has now gained international renown for its cell rejuvenation qualities and is used, particularly in South America, in the treatment of cancers. He crushes the yellow flowers of the ylang ylang for us to smell, identifies vines of vanilla and takes us to a hilltop from where we enjoy magnificent views over Sakatia and Nosy Be. Youngsters peek out from behind their shacks as we pass through the clean, orderly village. There’s no asking for money or pens; the villagers are happy to pose for photos, proudly showing off their fighting cocks and their arts and crafts. It’s refreshingly genuine. The next few days pass in similar fashion. We walk and kayak around the coast line, snorkel with turtles and dolphins, dive on wrecks and pristine, coral reefs and checkout spawning corals, tiny shrimps and big lobsters on night dives.
By day four we’re ready to explore Nosy Be, the “Big Island”, so board the boat for the short hop to Chanty Beach where a taxi is waiting to take us to Nosy Be’s sacred tree, an enormous Banyan Fig. Cheeky Macaco lemurs eye us from a low branch as we’re helped into the traditional dress, a circular wrap called a salovagna with a kisaly draped over the shoulder. Leaving our shoes at the entrance and following the fady of entering and exiting with our right foot first, we step into this hallowed place. The towering fig is over 200 years old and its maze of roots spreads over an area of 5000 square metres. Red and white cloths, gifts from worshippers, and the skulls of sacrificial zebu decorate the trunks along the winding path that we follow. The awe that I feel is similar to that I’ve experienced in magnificent cathedrals. Whatever your faith, it would be hard not to be moved by a visit.
On our penultimate day we board a wooden pirogue and paddle to the village of Lokobe. A walk in the forest here rewards visitors with sightings of some Madagascar specials in their natural habitat. Although low key the village is geared up for tourism. We’re shown to a water tap where we can rinse our feet and cool off after the fairly strenuous paddle, then instructed to put on lots of insect repellent before setting out. The eagle-eyed guides locate a couple of black lemurs and various geckos, a male, techno-coloured panther chameleon, a boa constrictor and a cute little nocturnal gray-backed sportive lemur asleep in its nest, then excitedly point to the base of a narrow tree trunk. I study it carefully but see nothing. Frustrated I get down on my haunches. Still nothing. It’s only when our guide Jean-Pierre traces the outline of the sleeping creature’s head that I distinguish the well-disguised leafed-tailed gecko from the bark.
The treasure hunt continues with the spotters ruffling in the leaves of the forest floor and emerging with a tiny, leaf chameleon. One of the smallest reptiles in the world, it’s both endemic and endangered. It’s a caution to stay on the path; goodness knows what else lies hidden in the undergrowth. A magnificent lunch of fish, prawns and with freshly caught crab is waiting for us at the village before the finale, a visit to Flelle-Ville. We spend our last Ariary on spices and bottles of hot chilli sauce at the market before wandering down to the cannons overlooking the port. With its quaint wooden colonial buildings and leafy park this section of town has a decaying grandeur and romance. I long for more time to explore. The week has passed too quickly, but Nosy Be’s charms will draw me back. There’s just no-where else like it: one to put on your bucket list.
When travellers ask where to go in Grand Baie to savour some Mauritian home cooking, locals invariably say Domaine. Prices are low and the best dishes are the local specialities, such as ourite au safran (octopus cooked in ginger, garlic and turmeric) and chilli lamb.
Palais de Barbizon
In the tiny hamlet of Chamarel, Barbizon may not look much but it’s a fabulous place. Marie-Ange helms the kitchen, whipping up traditional flavours from her family’s cookbook while Rico L’lntelligent entertains at the tables. There’s no menu; instead, Rico offers a feast of rum punch, rice, veggies, and fish or chicken for just £10. It’s the best money you’ll spend.
Port Louis’ rightly famous Central Market is a good place to get a feel for Mauritian life. Most authentic are the fruit and vegetable sections. Grab a breakfast of French pastries or spicy dhal puri, which you can eat standing alongside locals who’ve paused for a bite on their way to work, before exploring the ornate Victorian halls.
Hiking the Black River Gorges
A wild expanse of hills, trees and waterfalls, this national park is the last stand for Mauritian forests and many native species, such as the Mauritius kestrel, the echo parakeet and the pink pigeon -which are all endangered.
The ruggedly charming seaside town has fortified walls, crumbling ramparts and a unique quality of light that has long attracted artists. Its labyrinthine medina is home to souqs, art galleries and wood-carving workshops.
Why Le Jardin Des Douars?
Set just inland from the wind-battered coast, amid hills of gnarly argan trees (the oil from the nuts is prized), Le Jardin des Douars is a true retreat. The villas’ sun-baked domes peek out above palms and bougainvillea alive with butterflies. There are two outdoor pools and a resident peacock who struts about the grounds.
Essaouira enjoys year-round sunshine but is at its loveliest in the autumn when the heat is less intense. The annual Atlantic Andalucía festival, a celebration of the fusion of cultures in Morocco, with live music and dance performances, and exhibitions of Judeo-Moroccan art, runs from 27-30 October.
What Can I Expect?
To relax. With no televisions, telephones or mini bars in the rooms, you’ll spend days reading on your terrace or by the pool (books can be borrowed from the library), wandering the botanical gardens and being pummelled in the onsite spa and hammam. Cocktails are served on the terrace at sunset.
What’s My Room Like?
What Am I Eating?
The seasonal menu is a mix of traditional Moroccan dishes, such as tajines and couscous, and French cuisine, all which you can see being prepared in the open kitchen. A weekly highlight is the Sunday barbecue, where fish, lamb chops and ribs of beef are grilled, and platters of salads and rice are brought to the tables.
Good to Know
Le Jardin des Douars is a 20-minute drive from Essaouira, so you have to book a taxi into town or the hotel’s shuttle bus service.
Beyond the Front Door
Head to Essaouira to walk the ramparts and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the souqs, before heading down to browse the jewellery, art and woodwork for sale, and to watch the fishermen haul in the day’s catch. The hotel also offers guided hikes i n the countryside.
As home to more than half the world’s population of endangered mountain gorillas, Uganda often tops the bucket lists of travel enthusiasts seeking to come face to face with a majestic silverback in the wild. Beyond the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of gorilla trekking, Uganda offers a diverse range of nature, wildlife, and immersive cultural activities that will open travelers’ eyes, minds, and hearts to the endless beauty of an African experience. Now planning a trip to Uganda is easier than ever with a new online visa application program, and the Uganda Tourism Board invites travelers to plan their trip to experience gorilla trekking, a “Big Five” safari, and so much more.
Big Game And The Mighty Nile – The dramatic landscape of Murchison Falls National Park provides a breathtaking backdrop for Uganda’s most robust wildlife viewing. Located at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley, an hour northwest of the capital city Kampala by air, Murchison Falls boasts 76 species of mammals and 451 species of birds. Big game in Murchison includes elephants, lions, leopards, and buffalo, along with giraffes, waterbucks, warthogs, and more. The park is bisected by the Victoria Nile, where resident crocodiles and hippos and other visiting wildlife can be found. The river plunges nearly 150 feet over the remnant rift valley wall to create the dramatic falls – the centerpiece of the park – and the mighty cascade drains the last of the river’s energy, transforming it into a broad, placid stream that flows quietly across the rift valley floor into Lake Albert.
Chimpanzee Trekking In Budongo – Primate lovers come to Uganda for the gorillas and stay for the chimpanzees. (Just ask famed researcher Jane Goodall, whose institute founded and operates Budongo Eco Lodge here.) Budongo Forest Reserve, located within Murchison Falls National Park, is home to nearly 700 of these playful primates including six groups habituated to humans. Knowledgeable guides follow the chimps’ daily movements and lead trekking groups of up to six people into their habitat. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a full day to locate a group of chimps, giving ample time for participants to learn about the forest’s ecology before spending an hour watching a chimp family play, swing from trees and interact.
Conservation in Action At Ziwa Rhino And Wildlife Ranch – Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch is the only place in Uganda where visitors can see rhinoceros in the wild. The ranch, a collaborative effort between the Uganda Wildlife Authority and Rhino Fund Uganda, serves as a sanctuary for 1 5 southern white rhinos, allowing the animals to live and breed in a protected environment. In addition to the rhinos, more than 40 species of mammals, reptiles, and birds call Ziwa home. Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch is located halfway between Kampala and Murchison Falls and is a fun and educational way for those traveling by road to break up the five-hour trip.
Birding In Queen Elizabeth National Park – Classified as an Important Birding Area by Birding International, Queen Elizabeth National Park in southwestern Uganda is home to more than 600 species of birds -more than any other national park in East Africa. Its diverse landscape comprised of savanna, forest, and crater lakes allows visitors to spot species from eastern and central Africa such as the Martial Eagle, Black-Rumped Buttonquail, African Skimmer, Pinkbacked Pelican, African Broadbill, and Shoebill.
Immersive Cultural Experiences – The culture of Uganda is defined by its colorful communities and more than 50 distinct tribes. Each area of the country offers opportunities for visitors to interact with the locals and learn about their lives, customs, and livelihoods. Activities like The Batwa Experience offer a glimpse into the living history of this pygmy tribe that once called Uganda’s forests home. Communities across Uganda that focus on sustainable economic projects such as basket weaving and beekeeping teach visitors about their craft and give them a chance to test their skills first-hand. Many lodges support nearby villages by providing a portion of their nightly rates to help fund community development projects. Because of this close relationship, community organizations often visit lodges to interact with visitors and put on cultural performances featuring dance, music and song.
While the roads in Africa have improved over time, the comfort of the vehicles hasn’t – until now. Leading small-group adventure travel company G Adventures announces the launch of a new overland adventure vehicle (OAV), purpose-built for today’s modern traveller, and designed to maximize safety and comfort. The fleet of 10 “Landos” are being introduced on most G Adventures overland trips in eastern and southern Africa with the rollout being completed by summer 2016. Each truck features full body seatbelts, reclining seats with side-seat movement for extra shoulder room, a 250-litre water tank to
reduce the use of plastic bottles, onboard Wi-Fi, USB chargers at every seat, large front windows for better views of wildlife, and windows designed specifically for photography.
Jeff Russill, VP of product at G Adventures, says his team has completely re-invented and improved the OAV with the needs of travellers in mind, using traveller feedback and the inside knowledge of the G Africa team.
“Our travellers have become more sophisticated and their needs have changed. We no longer accept that the old vehicles suit modern-day travelers, and in our bid to lead with service have come up with a solution to bring overland travel into a new age,” says Russill.
‘Lando’ is a play on the word ‘overland’ and it’s no coincidence the OAV bears a likeness to cavaliering Star Wars character, Lando Calrissian, whose sense of adventure is similar to that of G Adventures’ travelers. The Lando will operate on 22 G Adventures Yolo itineraries (adventures for 18 to 39 year olds) covering Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Tanzania, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
G Adventures Yolo trips in Africa are primarily camping trips (with some hotel accommodation) that are fast-paced, cover a lot of distance, and provide younger travellers with the opportunity to see as much as possible at a more affordable price. Sample itineraries featuring the new Lando: Botswana and Falls Adventure – An immersive African experience in a compact eight-day package. Soak up the wildlife and vibrant colours and scenery of Zambia, Botswana, and South Africa with game walks and plenty of game drives. Camp under the stars of the Okavango Delta and marvel at the immense Victoria Falls. Kenya and Uganda Gorilla Adventure -Meet mountain gorillas and other amazing wildlife on this two-week overland adventure.
Spot chimpanzees in Kalinzu Forest, and join experienced trackers while traveling deep into the Ugandan forests to spot endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Victoria Falls and Serengeti Adventure -Inhale the scent of Zanzibar’s spice plantations, hunt for the perfect snapshot of the ever-elusive Big Five and feel the thunder of Victoria Falls. Uncover the spectacular highlights of four African countries on this stellar 20-day adventure.
For all the high drama of the African savannah – from roaring lions to thundering wildebeest migrations – there is no African destination with weirder, more consistently wondrous wildlife than Madagascar.
The island detached from the mainland some 160 million years ago and ever since has set about perfecting some of the planet’s most distinct and sublime natural spectacles, from strangely bulbous baobab trees to chameleons the size of your fingernail.
The headline attraction, however, is of course the lemurs. For an easy introduction to this extraordinary family of primates, make for Andasibe-Mantadia National Park: two swathes of rainforest 60 miles east of the capital Antananarivo.
Keep your eyes peeled to spot sifakas — lemurs that skip sideways along the forest floor – while simultaneously keeping your ears tuned to catch the call of the indri, a lemur close to extinction, whose song sounds like a police siren.