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Safari Travel / Africa Travel / Off-Season Travel / Southern Africa / Safaris / In Search of Perfect Weather / → All Tags
A female lion lounges on an overcast afternoon in Kenya's Masai Mara
The calendar is ready to turn over to April, which means that safari season will officially kick off in many parts of Africa as the wet, rainy summer season ends and we enter the dry, winter months (Africa seasons are the opposite of North America).
Things have been up and running for a couple months now in Eastern Africa, including Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, where two rainy seasons break up the safari season. But since rain falls from November to December and between April and June, the best times to go are January through March and then again June through October.
But as Eastern Africa prepares for a quick break in the action, Southern Africa (South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi) is just getting started. In most parts of this region, the rainy season runs from November to March, with the dry season lasting the entire summer, beginning at the start of April.
Taj Safaris, known for their luxurious Indian jungle lodges in Bandhavgarh National Park, Pench National Park, Kanha National Park, and Panna National Park, are now giving their guests a chance to give back.
Through a new voluntourism program, Taj is working to teach children in neighboring villages the importance of conservation in the national parks. Many kids live near the parks but have never been inside because they can’t afford the cost of a safari drive. Now, Taj Safaris is takes these kids inside and teaching them how each element of the jungle contributes and affects the well-being of the eco-system. They are also hoping to improve the lives of surrounding communities by enhancing basic heath care, education, and incomes.
Kim Kardashian and her fiance Kris Humphries are busy making plans for a lavish wedding worthy of her $2 million engagement ring, but their honeymoon may be a bit less luxurious.
If you’ve ever visited the zoo, and wished that you could get a little more up close and personal with the critters you’re in luck. Disney is planning to offer a more personalized experience at their Animal Kingdom theme park, so maybe this will stop crazy people from jumping into the animal enclosures.
The details are sketchy at this point, but the people behind the Mickey-magic are figuring out how to work in private safaris into the theme park. There will be guided hikes through some of the areas seen during the Kilimanjaro Safaris Expedition, and we’ll assume that involves staying a safe distance from the lions.
Adventure Travel / Safaris / Discovery Channel / Luxury Travel / Africa Travel / Peru Travel / Mexico Travel / Historical Travel / Tour Packages / → All Tags
Is this the recession or what? Guess not: Discovery Communications is teaming up with travel provider G.A.P Adventures to launch dozens of luxury trips based on Discovery Channel programming. With prices starting at $2,000 per person for trips ranging from 3 to 24 days, these are not for the faint of wallet.
Locations range from common tourist destinations like the USA and Mexico to places like Botswana, where you'll probably always need a guide. All of the packages come with their share of intriguingly esoteric Discovery Channel twists; one of the USA tours revolves around historic parks in the Southwest. What travelers will see on the 12 day tour, though, ranges from rock formations to deserts to dwellings abandoned thousands of years ago.
The other USA destination is even more nature-oriented, taking travelers all the way up north to Alaska. Adventurers spend 10 days observing wildlife in their habitat, which can be both mindblowingly fascinating and straightforward deadly.
Safari lovers take note: the Northern Territory in Australia might be your next big destination. The local government has approved a proposal to allow safari hunters to kill some of the biggest salt-water crocs around Darwin.
The growing population of crocs have made a huge mistake by snacking more often on people, so there's not too much opposition to the plan. Plus the revenue raised by the safari fees is meant to benefit local Aboriginal groups, so it's got some feel-good value too.
But don't book your trip just yet. First, the plan is open for comment and must then be approved at a national level too. Second, the suggestion is for just 25 crocs to be killed on safari over the next five years. That's not a low of beady eyes to go round.
On those days when we figure we've spent much too long with the Tivo, it's time to dream us up a bit of adventure travel. The crew of Bailey Robinson have a motto of "travel without compromise" which seems to fit our mood, too, and our eye's been caught by a trip through currently-not-too-dangerous Kenya.
We should mention that this gang is obviously obsessed with horses, and riding features in a lot of their trips; this one in the Maasai Mara is no exception.
The Chicago Sun-Times sent a writer to Southern Africa where he spotted a lioness, impalas, hippos and African fish eagles, all while staying in tents in the gorgeous Okavango Delta. The company that showed him these wonders? Wilderness Safaris, an ecotourist outfitter practicing minimal-impact camping on their trips through Botswana and other southern African countries.
We couldn't find a current rate for Wilderness Safaris' "Safari for all Seasons," but the company is offering a seventh night free if you pay for 6 nights. Not very recessionary, but if you're going to go on safari, best to do it in a way that when the economy improves, it'll still be there for the rest of us.
· Delta force: Searching for lions on African safari [Chicago Sun-Times]
· Rhino Travel: Kenya is Back in Black [Jaunted]
· Amazing Race 7 Hotel Report: Botswana Safari Lodge [HC]
Safaris / Rhinos / Africa Travel / Animal Travel / Animals / → All Tags
As big and bad as they seem, Africa's famed black rhinoceroses are in trouble, having been pushed to the brink of extinction by a century of poaching, trophy hunting, and habitat loss. So it's heartening to hear that wildlife organizations in Kenya and the U.K. have begun releasing captive-bred black rhinos into the Kenyan wilds. As BBC News points out in a brief story and nifty video, the groups recently released a group of young rhinos into an area that only 30 years ago supported 20,000 animals, but now has fewer than 500 left. If managed well, a successful rhino recovery could provide a substantial boost to the country's tourism industry, bringing in hordes of camera-wielding visitors desperate for a snap of the most powerful-looking of the big four. And anyway, the black rhino is a pretty cool beast: they hang out alone and wallow until it's time to mate, they're vegetarians, and they only lash out when the feel threatened, unlike their jerky cousins, the hippos.
[Photo: BBC News]
Grab a coffee and start your weekend off with a few minutes of wild animal safari and ambient techno. This groovy new clip from Boing Boing tv was shot in the northwest corner of Benin, near the border with Burkino Faso, and it takes you out into the wilds of the Pendjari Biosphere, one of a dwindling number of places in Western Africa where indigenous wildlife still thrives. Kick back as a big female elephant takes serious offense at the correspondent's proximity to her youngsters, and try not to chuckle as a frisky baboon touches a colleague most inappropriately at a watering hole. Yuks aside, it's a nicely produced video that will make you want to take off to the savannas of Africa yourself.
You would not believe the number of emails we are getting asking about plastic surgery travel, so to help you out, we've uncovered another hot, faraway place to both explore exotic lands and get one's neck fat sucked out: South Africa.
SA and India are often more popular in the States and Britain for medical tourism than their Latin American and Southeast Asian counterparts because English is the doctors' first language, according to Lorraine Melvill, founder of Surgeon and Safari. The travel agency arranges exactly what it sounds like -- a quick nip/tuck before sending you off to recuperate where only the rhinos and giraffes witness your puffy, bruised face slowly deflate. Some (smartasses) call these trips "beauty and the beast" tours.
Travelers/patients stay at luxury-but-remote spas and safari lodges, like Montello (pictured above). If you'd like to stay out of the bush, another agency, Mediscapes, coordinates travel to medical facilities in Cape Town, and includes a list of recommended top-tier hotels nearby.
Forget your standard Busch Gardens Animal theme parks and get yourself to see the real thing, in South Africa. One of the best places to see "the big five"? Pilanesberg National Park, in the country's North-West province. Covering a space occupied 1200 years ago by a volcanic crater, the park itself is conveniently round (making getting lost difficult) and holds a small lake at its center (an ideal spot for watching the animals get a drink).
Opened in 1979, the majority of its residents (elephants, rhinos, giraffes, impalas, zebras) were relocated from other areas in Africa for protection and preservation purposes. Options for exploration are pretty endless - you can stay and camp, take a ranger-led ride, or even a hot air balloon ride above the park. Just beware when picnicking-- the animals are used to humans, and its not uncommon for a baboon to come swipe a sandwich or two.