Kristina's African Safaris
Earth – One World - One Family
Kristina Safari blog
Francis, Kristina and Tom
An expedition involving wildlife observation and tracking
Travel as a life experience
A journey of discovery
in Kiswahili, the language of East Africa, simply means a journey.
Today it is synonymous in English with a wildlife viewing adventure in Africa
is the only place in the world where you can still experience the joy
of viewing vast herds of wildlife in their natural setting.
The best way to see the wonders of Africa is by going on a safari.
Masai Mara, Kenya
Travel to Africa is both intriguing and humbling, created by the beautiful balance between the wildlife, the landscapes and cultures. Africa has a way of getting inside you and touching your soul … When I went to Africa I discovered that I had never really lived. I thought maybe I had died and this was my reward for being “good” on earth! Now I keep going back because I need another dose of the magic that is Africa.
If you too find the courage to follow your heart, you will find yourself where you need to be – in Africa.
An Africa safari touches something deep within all of us; it is an experience that will never be forgotten.
What's my favorite country in Africa?
That's a question I’m asked a lot. I just LOVE Africa, so how can I choose? ... Botswana, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, The Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zanzibar, Zimbabwe. I like them all. First off, I need to tell you, Africa is a big continent ... and although I've experienced a lot of African Safaris in many different countries, I love them all for what they are and for what they offer. You really can't compare one to another. I'm always coming away thinking that the last place I visited was my favorite. So, you tell me!
What Types Of Safaris Are There?
There are many different types of Safaris ... Bird Watching Safaris, Bush Safaris, Camel Safaris, Canoe Safaris, Chimpanzee Trekking, Elephant Safaris, Family Safaris, Flying Safaris, Gorilla Trekking Safaris, Hiking Safaris, Horseback Safaris, Lodge Safaris, Luxury Safaris, Mobile Tented Camp Safaris, Train Safaris, Walking Safaris, and my favorite Wildlife Safaris. Many safaris have components of more than one type of safari. Safaris vary from rustic participation camping where the guides and all the equipment is supplied, but the traveler is required to assist with camp chores and putting up his or her own tent, to absolute luxury fly-in safaris to magnificent permanent camps and lodges with private jets. Safaris can have set departures where a group of people depart on a specific date and travel together for a period of time. Alternatively, customized safaris allow people the freedom to have a say in the design of their itinerary, and to determine the date on which they would like to start their travels. Special interest safaris are also available in the form of Camel Safaris, Elephant Back Safaris, Canoeing Safaris and Bird Watching Safaris etc.
Which one was my favorite of all my African Safaris?
After years of exploration and going on safaris, it is where I am now or where I’ve just returned from that is my favorite for the moment. I simply have to return again and again. All my safaris were wonderful. Maybe one day I will be able to tell you when I know. Everyone deserves to experience Africa at least once in a life time. But be aware! "Everything in Africa bites, but the safari bug is worst of all" from Close Encounters of the Rare and Violent Kind, Oct 15 1983 by Brian Jackman, a British Travel writer. I'm simply in love with the Okavango Delta and it's beauty, the gorgeous sand dunes of Namibia, Victoria Falls. WOW! However, you simply can't beat northern Tanzania for wildlife concentrations. Northern Tanzania is the Africa one dreams of visiting. Most people have heard of the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater and the wide array of wildlife dwelling on the crater floor. Most have heard of the vast Serengeti savanna, which hosts the annual Migration of Wildebeest and the predators that follow in its wake. This is the setting for the world's greatest wildlife spectacle - the 1.5 million animal ungulate (gazelees, zebra, wildebeest or gnu) migrations. Then they forge the Grumeti and the Mara Rivers on their migration to and from the Masai Mara in Kenya.
Wildebeest - The Great Migration
I am asked many questions about African safari travel?
What is the best way to travel? What are the game viewing vehicles like? Does my guide simply drive me around? Are my accommodations going to be comfortable? Will I stay in tents or lodges? Can I take my children on safari? What clothes should I bring on safari? What's the food like on safari? Is it OK to drink the water? Are there a lot of bugs? What shots should I get? Will I have a chance to interact with the local people? How far in advance should I book my safari? What if I want a custom safari? What’s the weather going to be like? Isn’t it too hot in Africa? Is it safe to travel in Africa? The most often asked question is: When the best time is to go on safari? I can answer all these questions for you.
What is the Migration?
From the vast Serengeti plains to the champagne colored hills of Kenya's Masai Mara over 1.5 million wildebeest, 250,000 zebra, 18,000 eland and 300,000 Thompson’s Gazelle, relentlessly tracked by Africa's great predators, migrate in a clockwise fashion over 1,800 miles each year in search of rain ripened grass. You must see this once in a life-time!
Every year, over one million wildebeest move through the Serengeti plains in search of food and water. The phenomenon of these animals moving en masse through the African savanna is known as the Migration. Their movement is driven by the seasonal rains that water their grazing pastures. It is impossible to predict in advance exactly how or when this progression will take place, but there is a pattern.
(See the pattern?)
Zebra - The Great Migration
Generally from mid-December through May the herds are feeding in the southern Serengeti. During February thousands of calves appear on the plains. Between June and July, the wildebeest begin their annual migration north reaching the Mara River that marks the Kenyan border sometime between the end of July and beginning of August.
After the first short rains, usually in the beginning of November, the herds move back into Tanzania's Serengeti and make their way to the southern pastures where they rest and feed through the rains until their search for better grazing leads them to begin their annual migration once again.
Even when the "migration" moves into Kenya for the summer months, there are many resident herds in the Serengeti and there is always an incredible array of wildlife to experience there. In the summer months, which is the height of the dry season thousands of elephant congregate around the Tarangire River. This park is at its prime during these months and I adjust your itinerary to take advantage of the prime wildlife viewing there.
Each time of year offers the visitor to Tanzania a special opportunity for wildlife viewing!
Tanzania is home to over 35 species of large mammals and has over 1,000 species of birds listed. On a typical safari in northern Tanzania you can expect to see elephant, buffalo, giraffe, hippo, baboon, monkeys, ostrich and a variety of plains game such as wildebeest, hartebeest, zebra, eland, impala and gazelle.
Most people see lion and hyena, jackal and sometimes cheetah and leopard.
In the Ngorongoro Crater you may see one of the few remaining black rhino to be found in Tanzania. You'll undoubtedly see several different species of mongoose and some hyrax and other small mammals. If you're lucky you'll see one or more of the smaller cats, foxes, wild dog or the more reticent antelope like lesser kudu, bushbuck, oryx and eland. This is only the beginning of the natural phenomena awaiting your discovery on a safari to Tanzania.
What's the weather like in Tanzania?
Located at an altitude of 5,000 to 7,600 feet, northern Tanzania's dry sunny climate is nothing like the steamy African jungle of Tarzan movies. The weather is spring-like year round, with daytime temperatures in the 70s and 80s, evenings in the 60s. From June until August, temperatures are slightly cooler, ranging from the 50s to the mid-70s. The coastal and lowland areas tend to be more tropical in temperature.
Tell me more about East Africa?
East Africa's Spectacular Migration: When it comes to the annual migration in Kenya and Tanzania, superlatives are easy to come by - once-in-a-lifetime, extraordinary and life-affirming, easily comes to mind. People consider East Africa one of the most exciting and memorable trips they've ever taken. It stirs something deep and primordial in you. East Africa reminds you of how far from nature man has removed himself. You will come away with a different perspective on life than when you arrived in Africa. This is the same story we hear repeated time and again by our clients.
More than a million animals – wildebeest and zebra – cross vast, open plains; forge crocodile-infested rivers; fend off predators such as lion and leopard during their remarkable annual journey. Visitors describe the scene as deeply moving and compare it to a spiritual experience.
Though the migration reaches its height over summer, fall is in many ways an even better time to visit. Camps and lodges are less crowded and animals are still plentiful.
The Wildebeest Migration is a dramatic story. It takes place within Kenya and Tanzania and is the greatest wildlife show on earth. Between the open plains of the Serengeti and the Masai Mara, thousands of wildebeest and zebras migrate to greener pastures as the seasons change and the circle of life and death continues. Predators follow the Wildebeest Migration closely, waiting for an opportunity to strike weak prey as they make their way into different territories. The precise timing of the Wildebeest Migration changes annually and it is a very unpredictable and spontaneous natural event. The calving season takes place in the Serengeti between the months of January and mid-March before the Wildebeest Migration begins heading towards the western Serengeti in June. The best time to see the migration is usually between June and August when the wildebeest congregate and prepare to cross the famous Grumeti River. There are a few excellent camps in this area where you can stay to witness this natural phenomenon. If you are in the Masai Mara you can expect the wildebeest to make their arrival as early as July, but they generally arrive between August and September and remain in the Mara between October and November. Between December and January the wildebeest gradually begin their migration back towards the Serengeti. I believe that going on safari to witness the Wildebeest migration is one of the ultimate safari experiences that Africa has to offer.
When is the best time to Travel to East Africa?
1. December to March - Weather: This is the summer season in East Africa. Temperatures are pleasant with an average high of 28C and an average low of 15C. The rains from early November to late March are usually scattered and localised and do not last for more than a few hours. However, there is a risk of heavier rain in late March.
Where is the Wildebeest Migration - December to March?
The life giving rains that generally begin in mid November and last through early May trigger the great wildebeest migration into the plains of the South Serengeti and the northern Ngorongoro Conservation Area. If they had a choice, the wildebeest would want to be in the short grass plains of the southern Serengeti all year round. This is where they give birth to their young when the plains are lush and green following the short rains. The calving season usually begins towards the end of January. Members of the vast wildebeest herd give birth more or less simultaneously. This is usually over a period of three weeks sometime between January and March when optimum grazing is available on the short grass plains. The peak of the calving usually takes place during the first two weeks in February or sometimes the second and third week of February.
Zebra with new born
The exact timing is heavily dependent upon rainfall. Within a relatively short space of time, several hundred thousand calves will be born and this is where you will see much of the dramatic predator action. You can expect to see thousands of wildebeest calves, from a few hours to a few days old.
Which other places are good at this time?
Kenya's birdlife flocks to the Rift Valley lakes in the greatest numbers in January and February. Flamingos assemble at Lake Nakuru in their millions and the pink mass they create is a natural spectacle.
Flamingoes at Lake Nakuru
The rains that begin in mid November are the signal for the great wildebeest migration into the plains of the South Serengeti and the northern Ngorongoro. The Eastern Plains of the Serengeti come to life and offer excellent game viewing for some species of animals. The GOL Kopjes boasts the highest concentrations of cheetahs in Africa during this time while the eastern plains are the main wet season range of the giant eland migration. You may also find large clans of hyenas there.
Trekking in Rwanda and Uganda
The best time to go Gorilla Trekking is late December to early March, as the weather at this time of year is generally dry in Uganda and Rwanda (although rain falls in Uganda throughout the year). The next best option is to go between June and August. It would be unwise to attempt a trek during and shortly after the rainy seasons, which are from March to May and in early September, although this is when the countryside is at its most scenic.
The coolest and driest time to visit Zanzibar is between late June and October, but this is also when the island is at is busiest and accommodation rates and air fares are at their peak. We recommend you try the island between late December and early March. Temperatures are a little bit higher, but there are fewer tourists.
2. April to June Weather: There is a chance of heavy rain during this period and showers can be expected for a few hours every day or every other day. Perhaps because of this, fewer people go on safari towards the end of March. During April and May the parks of Kenya and Tanzania are fairly empty and accommodation costs are often quite a bit lower. However, this time actually offers the finest game viewing opportunities of the year. Wildlife concentrations are at their highest in the Southern Serengeti, and the landscape is a lush green. With less crowding, lower prices and abundant wildlife, this can be the best time to go on safari.
Where is the Wildebeest Migration – April to June?
In April the wildebeest migration is usually spread out across the plains of the northern Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the southern Serengeti. There are thousands of young wildebeest calves on the plains - along with predators waiting for easy pickings.
In May, the rains stop, the land dries up and the wildebeest mow the grazing to stubble. The herds are forced to start moving. The great journey starts in a rather disorderly manner. A few of the 1.5 million individuals decide it's time to go and start off towards Lake Victoria and the Western Serengeti; the others eventually follow. Individuals and small groups gradually merge into vast herds on the march.
Given the fact that the exact timing of the wildebeests' departure from the plains is completely dependent upon when the rains end in May, it is a good idea to try several different locations if you are on safari at this time of year. The migration could reach the Western Serengeti anytime from early May to early June, depending on when the southern plains dry up.
Late May to early June is also when the wildebeest breed. The wildebeest rut depends on the availability of food and the animals' condition, but, whenever it happens, all the mature animals come into breeding condition at the same time. Breeding males bellow and grunt to advertise their presence, see off rivals and round up females to keep them from walking away, and the calves and females constantly call to each other so they don't get separated in all the confusion. The resulting cacophony is quite something!
By June, the migration should be in full swing as the herds make their way from the plains to their transitional range located in the Western Serengeti. The mass movements of the migration combined with the wildebeest rut at the beginning of June makes this an exciting time for a safari in the Serengeti.
Which other places are good at this time?
The eastern plains of the Serengeti are very seasonal. During the dry season, you are not likely to encounter more than a few gazelle. However, the eastern plains come to life in the wet season and offer incredible game viewing for certain species of animals. The cheetahs in the Serengeti are migratory and many of them go to the eastern plains during the wet season and head back to the central Serengeti for the dry season. Hyenas are also semi-nomadic and go 'holidaying' in the eastern plains during the wet season.
The rains trigger the great wildebeest migration into the plains of the South Serengeti and the northern Ngorongoro Conservation Area. April, May and June are the best months for game viewing in the Southern Serengeti. The southern plains encompass a massive area, so you should try to visit more than one lodge if time allows. Elephants can also be found in the Southern Serengeti now, in the patches of woodland that dot the plains.
The Ngorongoro Crater provides some of the very best game viewing Africa has to offer and is excellent at any time of year. The crater is not a self-contained ecosystem and some animals do migrate in and out but not in sufficient numbers to warrant tailoring your itinerary around this. The main factors for planning your trip here are weather and visitor numbers. >From April to June the crater will be lush and green and visitor numbers will be at their lowest.
3. July to November Weather: The weather during this time is usually dry and sunny, although October to December brings the short rains to Tanzania and the central regions of Kenya. The landscape is in stark contrast to the main rainy season. The grass dies back and, as the season progresses, more and more animals congregate around the permanent sources of water. Visitor numbers increase in July and peak in August as these months coincide with holidays in the Northern Hemisphere. July to September are also the coolest and most pleasant months in East Africa, especially along the coast. Even during this busy time our travel consultants can help you stay off the beaten track for an unspoilt safari experience.
is the Wildebeest Migration – July to November?
By July the wildebeest and their entourage have begun the journey from the Serengeti plains towards the green pastures of the Masai Mara. As the plains of the south and east dry out, there is a movement to the north and west, where there is more grass and more dependable water. In a dry year, the first wildebeest could be near the Mara River (the only decent permanent water in the ecosystem) in early July; in a wet year - mid August. If conditions are very good, and there is plenty of grass and water, the herds will be spread out all the way from Seronera to the Mara River.
The northward wildebeest migration is divided between two main population groups with different migration routes. The main group follows the Mbalageti and Seronera Rivers from the southern plains into the western corridor, crossing the Grumeti River. This watercourse is their first real obstacle and gigantic crocodiles are waiting for the hesitant wildebeest to stumble at the crossing. Here they remain until July when the land dries out completely. They must then head towards the Masai Mara and its greener pastures. From Grumeti, the herds move before crossing the Kenyan border into the Masai Mara. Here again, they must cross a river, this time the Mara with its masses of hungry crocodiles.
The second main group heads directly north from the plains through the Central Serengeti and directly into the Northern Serengeti and Masai Mara without entering the Western Serengeti.
Which other places are good at this time?
By mid August, the main herds of migratory wildebeest and zebra are located in the watershed area of the Masai Mara where they will remain until early October. Then they reverse course and come flooding back down the northern corridor to the Serengeti plains.
In the Masai Mara, the grassy landscape and nutrient wealth for the great herds are created by abundant rains. Up to one and a half million animals pour in from the dry plains of Tanzania. Being in the reserve between August and September when the wildebeest have arrived is a mindblowing experience. The sheer numbers are staggering. The variety of species is also unique. In one place you may be able to see ten or more species at a time - wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, buffalo, elephant, hyena, lions, eland and gazelle. And if you are lucky enough to witness a river crossing, you are sure to develop a new understanding and respect for the struggle for survival in the African wild.
Hippos in the Mara River
The mass of animals remain on the productive Mara grasslands until October or November. And then, as the storm clouds gather in the south, the vast herds return to their breeding grounds which, by the time they arrive, are once again green and lush.
The western corridor straddles the northward migration route of the wildebeest migration. At the end of the wet season, the herds depart the southern and eastern Serengeti plains and begin their journey in search of greener pastures. By July the migration should be in full swing as the herds make their way from the plains to their transitional range located in the Western Serengeti and further to the northern woodlands. Predators will also be highly visible.
As the dry season progresses in July, the great herds continue to shift northward towards the Northern Serengeti and the Masai Mara. Zebra tend to reach the Northern Serengeti sometime in early July while the wildebeest herds usually begin to appear in the northern Serengeti towards mid July.
November brings the Mombasa Carnival in Kenya with floats, parades and music from every culture, custom and religion. There are two main parades which converge onto Moi Avenue and feature incredible floats, spectacular costumes and fantastic music.
Tarangire National Park is smaller and less known than its famous neighbors to the north. However, Tarangire comes into its own from July to November, when enormous populations of elephants and other animals are drawn from the parched outlying areas to the Tarangire River and other sources of permanent water within the park. Elephant viewing is outstanding and you could see over 200 of them on a single game drive! You can also expect to see giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, buffalo and several species of antelope. With a little luck you will encounter leopard and some of the rarer antelope, including eland, kudu and oryx. This is also the favorite time of year for the lions of Tarangire as their main quarry, wildebeest and zebra, are in abundance. The concentration and variety of game, combined with the spectacular scenery, make Tarangire a must see on every safari from mid July to late November.
Kenya is a favorite for most visitors to East Africa
Kenya's incredible appeal comes from its combination of outstanding wildlife, breathtaking scenery, beautiful beaches, first rate accommodations, and most of all hospitable and happy people. The country's contrasting landscapes offer visitors plenty to do and see during their trip.
Great historical and romantic figures from Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Karen and Bror Blixen, Denys Finch-Hatton, Elspeth Huxley, Beryl Markham, Lord Delamere to The Prince of Wales (King Edward the VIII) and Ernest Hemingway immortalized this country. Out of Africa and other films have romanticized and perpetuated the safari mystique. Karen Bixen’s life was a perfect symbol of Africa's spell and hope in the days of early Kenya being settled by the Europeans.
Among the top safari countries, Kenya is one the most popular, attracting a large number of visitors. It has abundant wildlife and one of the most diversely majestic landscapes on the continent. Lodge safaris are generally less expensive here than in Tanzania, Botswana or Zimbabwe. Flying, mobile tented, camel, walking and horseback safaris also are available. You may view game in vehicles with roof hatches or pop-tops, and there is some walking outside the reserves.
Adventure safaris are becoming more popular also, including canoeing, mountain climbing and other “extreme” type of sports. Activities include hot-air ballooning, mountaineering, scuba diving, freshwater and deep-sea fishing, and beach resorts.
You can find a wide choice of accommodations, ranging from excellent bush camps and comfortable beach lodging to first class hotels in the large cities.
The dramatic escarpments of the Great Rift Valley and numerous picturesque lakes are mesmerizing. Kenya is also home to lush tropical rainforests, vast arid lands and a splendid coastline, boasting beautiful coral reefs and a wide variety of colorful fish waiting to be discovered.
Great Rift Valley
Over seventy tribal groups reside in Kenya from the Maasai and the Samburu pastoralists to the farming Kikuyus, giving visitors plenty of opportunities to experience tribal life, visit traditional villages, see ancestral dances, etc. Ancient artifacts and handicrafts are readily sold in tourist areas.
The numerous national parks and reserves occupy over eight percent of Kenya's surface, making wildlife easily accessible. The big five (elephants, rhinos, buffalos, leopards and lions), can be seen in Masai Mara and Amboseli National Parks, among others. In the remote area of Samburu, you'll come across animal species found nowhere else in Africa such as the Grevy Zebra.
Kenya's birdlife is just as spectacular and prolific. A great number of species can be found around the Rift Valley lakes of Naivasha, Nakuru and Baringo.
Masai Mara National Reserve: This, the finest reserve in Kenya, is host to most all of the big game. It is one of the best parks in Africa to see lion, leopard and cheetah. Elephant, buffalo and giraffe are also found. Between August and October (approx), a good portion of the great Serengeti migration of more than 1,000,000 wildebeest and 400,000 zebra migrates here.
Amboseli National Park: The spectacular backdrop of Mt. Kilimanjaro is the real attraction here. This may be the best park in Kenya to see elephant.
View of Kilimanjaro from Amboseli
Aberdare National Park: Here, in this luxuriant forest, guests of two of the famous tree hotels (Treetops and The Ark) view wildlife which congregates around the floodlit water holes. Nearby Sangare Ranch provides a more active option.
Meru National Park: This is the wild country in the Northern Frontier District where Joy and George Adamson released Elsa, the lioness of Born Free in the 1950's. It is the least visited of Kenya's largest parks and home to the absolute fantastic lodge at Elsa's Kopje.
Samburu National Reserve: This relatively small (40 square miles) northern reserve has a number of wildlife species not usually found in the southern game parks, including Beisa oryx, Gerenuk, Grevy Zebra, Reticulated giraffe, Somali ostrich and Vulturine guinea fowl.
Samburu women with wedding necklaces
Lewa Downs and Laikipia: Lewa Downs is a 40,000-acre private reserve that is home to a diverse array of wildlife and some of Kenya's most spectacular scenery. Laikipia is home to large ranches and communities with successful wildlife and conservation areas. Mount Kenya is to the south, and to the north are views of Samburu and the wilderness of Kipseng -- the traditional Samburu homelands. Camel safaris, walking, horseback riding and biking are offered in the area by cattle ranches and beautiful private homesteads turned into small intimate guest lodges.
Tsavo National Park: One of the largest parks in Africa, Tsavo is split into two sectors, East and West, covering a total area of over 8000 square miles. The eastern part is desert bush and scrub broken up by scraggly hills; the Taita Rukinga Wildlife Conservanay offers some of the best game walking safaris in East Africa. Nearby is Ol Donyo Waus, a private game reserve located near the. On a good day you may see Mt. Kilimanjaro from the lodge.
Kenya Coast: The Old Harbor of Mombasa is a haven for dhows carrying goods for trade between Arabia and the Indian subcontinent. Excellent beach hotels are found north and south of Mombasa. Farther up the coast, the Malindi-Watamu Marine National Reserve offers good diving and snorkeling.
Botswana is Africa’s best kept secret
Botswana's beautifully diverse and serene lands are located between Namibia and Zimbabwe. Abundant wildlife, colorful birds and stunning landscapes are only a part of what makes Botswana one of the continent's best hidden treasures. This country's vast stretches of land and numerous terrains are astounding. Of all its memorable landmarks, the Okavango Delta is the most renowned. Located in the northern part of the country, the delta is the size of Switzerland. It is a vast oasis of fauna and flora surrounded by the most peaceful panorama. Although Botswana is a landlocked country, water is to be found almost everywhere, except in the Kalahari Desert, which is also part of Botswana. Here the oldest and most primitive people on earth, the San or Bushmen still live like they did thousands of years ago.
Seventeen percent of Botswana's land is protected as national parks and reserves. The country's most acclaimed wildlife parks Chobe National Park and Moremi Game Reserve are fairly remote and therefore generally un-crowded. Here you'll observe herds of over 500 elephants, large prides of lions, and thousands of buffalos moving together towards the open bush. Given the remoteness of Botswana's tourism infrastructure, camps are usually reached by an efficient light aircraft charter service. The choice of lodge accommodations is of the highest standard everywhere in Botswana. However, in order to truly appreciate the country's rich landscapes and wildlife, you may want to stay in one of the well equipped tented camps or participate in a mobile camping safari. The tented camps are small and situated on private concessions in the Delta and Moremi, so you feel like you’re the only person around for many miles, which is probably true. Throughout your journey you will appreciate Botswana's immaculate skies, stretching farther than the eye can see. The most gorgeous sunsets I’ve ever seen were witnessed in the Okavango Delta from a mokoro canoe.
When Is The Best Time Of Year To Safari In Botswana?
The safari season in Botswana runs from March 1 through November 30.
June, July and August are the winter months, marked by cloudless days and mild temperatures. Lows average 45 degrees F (7 degrees C), and highs average 80 degrees (27 degrees C). The landscapes outside the Okavango Delta begin their drying process, gradually fading from lush green to dry khaki colors. In the delta, the flood waters from Angola start to fill the countless lagoons and streams.
September can be compared to spring in the Northern Hemisphere - a delightful time of year to visit Botswana. Highs average 90 degrees F (31 degrees C), and lows average 60 degrees F (15 degrees C). The occasional rain shower may be experienced towards the end of October. Game viewing is excellent due to the lack of thick vegetation and the waterholes are drying up.
Early December through to March are considered summer months, with highs averaging 98 degrees F (32 degrees C), and lows averaging 65 degrees F (16 degrees C). These months border the rainy season, when you may encounter brief, but heavy rain and thunder storms.
November and December still afford the visitor excellent game viewing. However, many camps are closed from December 1 until the end of February, as this is the rainy season and the wildlife is dispersed throughout the region.
April and May are both delightful months to visit Botswana - marked by moderate temperatures, with highs averaging 88 degrees F (31 degrees C), and lows averaging 60 degrees F (15 degrees C).
South Africa greets visitors with open arms
Since President Mandela's election to government, South Africa has blossomed under a peaceful democracy and emerged as one of the most exciting tourist destinations of the 2000s. There has never been a better time to explore this enchanting land.
South Africa holds countless attractions, such as extraordinary game parks and reserves, dramatic mountain ranges and savannas, a breathtaking coastline, rich wine country, and stunning vegetation.
Looking for a little luxury? How about a revitalizing retreat or a colonial style safari adventure? If you’re in the market for a top-end tourism experience, South Africa can compete with the best destinations worldwide and is among the few that offers true value for luxury holiday experiences! The striking contrasts of landscape and scenery make for a number of unique and exclusive experiences to be enjoyed amid truly dramatic settings. From the finest hotels with outstanding service, to individualized itineraries and expertly guided personal safaris conducted in the best bush settings, you’ll find yourself perfectly pampered in South Africa.
The country's diverse cultures will fascinate you. Here you'll discover African tribes of many ethnic backgrounds, as well as people of Asian, European and Indian descent. As you visit tribal villages, local markets and festivals, open-air museums and art galleries, you'll experience their cultures, lifestyles, and histories.
South Africa operates seventeen national parks. The best ways to explore them is with a hired guide. Some parks also offer organized game drives and hikes.
South Africa is home to some of the most luxurious lodges & trains in the world.
It was Robert Louis Stephenson who once said, "I travel not for travel's sake; the great affair is to move". Perhaps Stephenson was talking specifically about train journeys - because there is nothing more intoxicating than seeing the world from the window of a moving train.
Rovos Rail is renowned to be the most luxurious train in the world. These beautifully restored trains consist of up to nineteen coaches that can be drawn by Steam, Diesel or Electric locomotives operating at various stages of the journey. The sleepers, as well as the observation and dining cars have been splendidly refurbished in the style of the period but with an eye for modern comfort.
The Blue Train has always been South Africa's legendary luxury train. A favorite Blue Train route for visitors is Pretoria to Cape Town, followed by a week of exploring the winelands and the Atlantic seaboard. Great food and excellent service are simply part of the deal, and the Blue Train has been described as one of "the world's leading hotels". Although not inexpensive by any means - a journey on the Blue Train is the experience of a lifetime.
The Shongololo Express (named after a South African caterpillar) moves around Southern Africa and includes trips to Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
The Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe is one of the only authentic steam train routes in the country. Operating between George and Knynsa, the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe is something of a working museum, and the scenery is simply breathtaking as you make your way along the seaside towns and forests of the Garden Route.
World-class facilities, excellent service levels, beautiful surroundings, excellent food and reasonable pricing standards, South Africa is perfectly set up to offer you an all-out luxury vacation. Our resorts and hotels continue to win prestigious international accolades. In the Condé Nast Traveller (US) Readers’ Choice Poll Awards, for example, Cape Town was voted “Best City in Africa”. The luxury Singita Private Game Reserve bordering the Kruger National Park scored top honors for the third consecutive year when it was voted the “Leading African Game Reserve”. In the private game reserve category, half of the top 10 places were South African properties. South Africa also did well in the category “Top 10 Africa/Middle East Hotels”, with six South African establishments in the top 10. Luxury hotel and wine estate, Spier, won the international “Best Of’ in Wine Tourism” award last year, an award which compares wine regions around the world to see who offers the most magnetic tourism product. UK Conde Nast Traveller has included four South African hotels in it's Hot List for 2004. The list includes 50 hotels embodying a sense of style and representing Conde Nast's global pick of the best.
South Africa is truly a discoverer's dream destination! If your fascination lies with history, architecture, cultural formations, geography and topography, the evolution of mankind, fauna and flora or indigenous cultures, South Africa has enough attractions to keep you occupied for a lifetime. A very tiny taste of what might fill your itinerary includes a tour of the Battlefields in KwaZulu-Natal, where you will relive the epic battles between the Boers and the British imperial forces. You could spend days exploring the Namaqualand viewing the magnificent array of flowers that burst into colorful display every spring, wonder at the rock art of South Africa's earliest inhabitants, or visit the palaeontological (study of evolution) sites at Cradle of Humankind, believed to be home to the world's earliest inhabitants.
Nature's bounty is truly abundant in South Africa, and you might wish to view whales, dolphins and birds or track a whole range of game in one of our magnificent National parks or private reserves. Once you've had your dose of the wilds you can touch the heart of the country in a number of cultural villages, or taste our history on a tour to Soweto, Robben Island and other heritage sites. The discoverers will find plenty to engage him/her 'down South'. South Africa is unique in every way, with a number of attractions you won't find anywhere else in the world….
Table Mountain: No visit to Cape Town is complete without a trip up Table Mountain, from where you will see some of South Africa 's most breathtaking views. Take a guided walk on one of the many routes or simply ride the cable car to the top - it will be one of your lasting memories of South Africa.
Robben Island: A short cruise from Cape Town's V&A Waterfront by ferry, this legendary island is a standard must-see on any newcomer's itinerary. This is where Nelson Mandela and his comrades were imprisoned for decades during the Apartheid era. Former inmates take you on an insightful tour of the prison grounds. This historical island is now a world heritage site and also a proclaimed nature conservation area.
The Garden Route: From Cape Town along the coast to the Tsitsikamma Forest, this 600-kilometre stretch of small towns, wineries, farms and sea villages has been a traveler’s joy for more than a century. Take your time, soak in the scenery, stay over in a guest-house, enjoy the cuisine and let South African hospitality take over.
Beaches: From KwaZulu-Natal to the Wild Coast, from the Eastern Cape to the West Coast, South Africa boasts more than 3 000km of coastline. Pristine beaches, fishing communities, golf estates, luxury hotels and guest houses dot the landscape as you explore the marine side of South Africa.
Namaqualand Daisies: Every Spring (August to September), the Northern Cape comes alive with vast fields of daisies in a natural splash of vivid color. Fed by winter rains, the flower grounds of Namaqualand are a photographer's delight. When Summer takes hold, the land becomes a desert once again - as if the flower fantasia was just a brief dream…
The Gold: In the late 19th Century, gold was discovered at various places in the northern reaches of South Africa, leading to a gold rush from all points of the globe. A tussle for the goldfields was one of the contributing factors leading to the Anglo Boer War and the industry - which claims the deepest underground mines in the world - is still one of the pillars of the South African economy.
Cradle of Humankind: Declared a World Heritage Site, the Cradle of Humankind west of Johannesburg includes, among its numerous sites, the Sterkfontein Caves, where anthropologist Dr Robert Broom discovered the skull of Mrs Ples, a three-million year-old hominid, in 1936. At the time she was thought to be the closest evidence the "missing link" to be found.
Kruger National Park: About the size of Israel, the Kruger Park is the greatest of South Africa's many national parks which attract a great number of visitors intent on drinking in the wilderness. On guided walks, drives or self-drive, visitors have the best chance of spotting the Big Five (elephant, lion, leopard, rhino and buffalo) in this park.
The Drakensberg Mountains: A thousand kilometers of mountain majesty, the Drakensberg (Dragon Mountains) range is the adventure tourist's playground. It is also perfect for nature photography, easy walking and simple relaxation. Full of game sanctuaries, Bushman rock art sites, challenging peaks and cascading waterfalls, the views in the Drakensberg will compete with anything the rest of the world has to offer.
Soweto: Just south of Johannesburg lies Soweto - the largest of South Africa's 'townships' (designated residential areas for blacks during the Apartheid years). This vibrant city is home to some 2 million people and a number of historical sights. A typical visit to Soweto includes a stop at a traditional shebeen (drinking hall), where you can savor local beer, food and hospitality, as well as a visit to the homes where Nobel laureates Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu once lived.
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Why should I travel with Kristina's Safari?
Have you always wanted to go on an African safari? Now the time has finally come and you’re ready! Rather than pick a safari from a brochure you can have one designed just for you with your interests, your price range, and your dreams? This once-in-a-lifetime trip should be designed exactly as you have envisioned it. Kristina at Ultimate African Safaris uses her considerable leverage with tour operators, wholesalers & partner airlines to offer you very competitive rates on safaris & air travel to and from Africa. Prices for a private safari are not more (sometimes even less) than a brochure safari where you may be sharing your vehicle with strangers—for 10 days or more. Why not spend your time exactly as you wish.
Whatever you decide is the right safari for you, Kristina can help you plan your safari using her expertise and experience. A safari can be the most rewarding vacation you will ever have. From the people of Africa, who welcome you so graciously to their countries, to the game viewing beyond your wildest expectations, with the magnificent landscape that's ever changing and always surprising, every aspect of Africa takes your breath away. You must have lived before you die! Go on a safari and find out what living is really all about. It will change your life forever.
thank you to Wanda Patterson