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Hello, hujambo and sawubona! It’s great to have you here. If you're as wild about African travel as we are, you’ve come to the right place. Our writers travel all over this captivating continent to bring back the best travel stories, advice and guides. So settle in and enjoy the journey.

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Latest Posts


  • The 10 most fascinating birds in Southern Africa

    By Matthew Sterne |

    If it's your first time in the African bush you'll most likely be too mesmerised by the Big 5 and other animals to take too much notice of the birds. But that would be a fowl up that you might egret. For birds are not just... for the birds. They are just as fascinating and beautiful and intriguing as mammals. And if you do develop an interest in African birds, every game drive and bush walk takes on an extra dimension and becomes even more exciting. To give you an idea of what the bird kingdom holds, here are 10 of Southern Africa's most fascinating birds. 10. Wandering AlbatrossThe wandering albatross is immense. It's one of the largest birds in the world and has the largest wingspan of any living bird, typically ranging from 2.5 to 3.5 metres. As a result of its wingspan, it’s capable of remaining in the air without flapping its wings for several hours at a time and travels 22 metres for every metre it drops. It’s also one of the most far-ranging birds. Some wandering albatrosses have been known to circumnavigate the Southern Ocean three times in one year, covering more than 120,000 km, which is about 75,000 miles. 9. African Bearded VultureBearded vultures, or lammergeiers, are pretty intense birds. They’ve developed a unique and clever method of eating carcass bone marrow. The vultures pick up bones from a carcass as heavy as themselves, fly off and drop them from a tremendous height to shatter the bones into bite-sized pieces and get access to the marrow. This bone breaking technique can take seven years to perfect! Bearded vultures even have favourite breaking spots that are called ossuaries. Not only that but they also rub soil into their feathers to look more intimidating. They apply the dirt with their claws and then preen for about an hour to ensure a bright orange glow. Told you they were intense. 8. African SkimmerThe African skimmer has a unique bill structure; the lower mandible is much longer than the upper mandible, and is flattened sideways like scissor blades. This is to help them feed. As the name implies, the African Skimmer flies just above water level, with its lower mandible just breaking the surface. When the mandible touches a fish, the skimmer snaps its mouth shut. Its food is small fish, mostly 2-5 cm long. They feed mostly at dawn and dusk. Click here to watch a video of their unique feeding technique. 7. Black Heron The Black Heron stands out for its ingenious hunting method. The crafty bird wades in water and creates shade with its wings like an umbrella. The fish go to the shade to cool down and as the fish move into this shady location, the black heron scoops down and gulps up the nice, tasty meal. It’s simple yet effective and is a fascinating sight, as you can see in the video below. While some herons prefer to hunt on their own, on average they will hunt in groups of 50 individuals. And the largest flock of Black Herons on record is 200. 6. Pennant-winged Nightjar This gorgeous bird must be on most birder’s bucket lists. The pennants of the pennant-winged nightjar refer to the spectacular long white wing streamers, like white handkerchiefs trailing from the tips of their wings, that males develop during breeding season. These pennants grow to greater lengths in successive years, up to twice the body length. They are dropped or broken off quickly upon completion of breeding. You can see a video of this striking bird in flight below. 5. Kori BustardWeighing in at a fairly hefty average of 18 kilograms, the kori bustards is said to be the heaviest flying bird in the world. The Kori Bustard is like the fat kid in gym class who was too embarrassed and too lazy to get involved with the climbing net. When alarmed, they’d rather puff themselves up to appear even larger than they are, bark like dogs or run from danger than bother flying. Sometimes kori bustards are found with  bee-eaters riding on their backs as they stride through the grass. The bee-eaters pick the insects from the bustard's back that irritate the bustard, a classic interspecies win-win. 4. SandgrouseThere are few desert birds more finely attuned to living in arid zones than sandgrouse. Their diet consists of dry seeds so they desperately need regular access to fresh water and their chicks are particularly vulnerable. They developed an ingenious solution - carrying water in their belly feathers to take back to their young and will fly up to 60 kilometres to get it. Weight for weight, they hold more water than a kitchen sponge. Once they get back to the nest, the chicks drink their fill from the wet feathers, a little like kittens nursing from their mother. If that wasn’t impressive enough, they also baffle scientists by being able to predict which days are going to be especially hot and adjust their schedules. 3. Sociable Weaver Sociable weavers construct the world’s largest nests and perhaps the most spectacular structure built by any bird. As many as 300 to 400 hundred birds will live in a single megastructure. The nests are cooler in the day and warmer in the night to help the birds with the extreme temperatures of the African bush. Their nests are instantly recognisable, massive and resemble huge apartment blocks. The nest structures can reach heights of up to 4 m. From a distance, the nest may typically look like a haystack stuck up on a large tree or telephone pole. Photographic evidence has proven that some of these nest structures are over 100 years old. The nests are also commonly used by several other bird species, most commonly the pygmy falcon. 2. African Shoebill This prehistoric-looking bird is a very large stork-like bird and derives its name from its massive shoe-shaped bill. To go with its enormous beak, the shoebill has big feet and is very, very tall for a bird. Despite weighing as much as 6 kg, the birds can often be found perched on floating vegetation, from where they do their fishing. Shoebills are found in marshy areas in countries like Sudan, Zambia, Rwanda and Uganda. 1. Greater Honeyguide This has to be one of the world's most intriguing and innovative birds. Greater honeyguides are so named because they show people where to find bees’ nests, which the people harvest for their honey. The birds then feed on the wax combs left behind. There are multiple tribes across Africa that have developed their own calls and whistles to communicate with their local honeyguides. As the narrator describes in the video below, “It’s the most developed, co-evolved, mutually helpful relationship between any mammal and any bird.”

  • Celebrating World Rhino Day - Rhino Africa Style

    By Matthew Sterne |

    Rhino Africa has always marched to the beat of our own drum, a wonderfully rhythmic African drum. So when it came to celebrating World Rhino Day this year we thought we'd do something a little bit different, that would involve everyone at Rhino Africa and was fun while also creating awareness about the day itself.We decided to pool our creative talent and paint a team mural, a 9 metre x 6 metre work of art of a rhino with her baby. With each rhino responsible for their own square, we gathered after work over the course of a week, poured some wine, pumped some music and let the magic flow, or not. Some of them an 8-year-old would have scorned, but generally they came out surprisingly well.The next step was to bring it all together. We snuck out over lunch one day, the entire office marching en masse to the nearby Company's Garden to assemble what we were now calling, 'The Biggest Rhino Painting in All the World'. The pieces all looked fairly similar to one another so for the important process of assembling we called on a select group of Rhinos to lead the way. They dressed as rhinos. A rhino in a rhino. Rhinoception. I think it came together better than we could ever have imagined. I'll leave it up to the video to show you exactly how it all played out... As David says in the video, 'Every piece of our puzzle is important to build something truly great. This little project is a perfect example that when we work together we can do amazing things and that not even the sky is the limit.' And check out our exciting first 360 degree video here. Drag your mouse to move around the camera! Happy World Rhino Day 2016! 

  • SUPing in Simon’s Town – The ocean like you’ve never seen it before

    By Ali Findlay |

    As we round the corner a penguin hops off the pavement and toddles on to the tar road. He catches sight of the car and waddle-runs up on to the parallel pavement. I park the car and jog along after him to check he isn’t lost. I creep forward slowly and find him sitting with a penguin friend in a gap in a hedge, staring up at me expectantly. I’m in Simon’s Town and I’m about to go Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUPing) for the first time. It’s the end of autumn, heading into spring and the conditions are perfect; no wind, no rain, not too warm and not too cold. The ocean is flat, lulling slightly. The sun’s rays are filtering through the mist that’s lifting and there’s a white haze joining the ocean and sky where they meet at the horizon. We’re heading down to Water’s Edge beach, one of the most secluded (and most beautiful) beaches in Cape Town. We pass dozens of the Boulders penguins as we stroll along the board walk down to the beach. The fuzzy youngsters and greyed out teenagers are a sure sign spring is here. They honk their penguin songs and tilt their heads, posing as I take portraits of them. We arrive at the virtually empty beach and get the SUP ready to take out on to the water. I wince in advance, expecting the ocean to be ankle-aching cold. As my toes enter the Atlantic I let out a pre-emptive squeal, but it’s surprisingly warm. I clamber on to the front of the board and sit with my knees crossed. My friend hops on the back. She’s going to paddle us around the bay a few times so that I can get a feel of the board. She stands up and paddles around effortlessly, the board hardly wobbling. Now it’s my turn. I’m feeling out of my comfort zone, so I convince my friend to sit on the front, for moral support and encouragement. I kneel on the board and as soon as I stand up I begin to wobble uncontrollably from side to side. My friend laughs loudly as she jiggles quickly from left to right. It looks as though she’s on a vibrating plate. As I try to control my uncooperative legs, I remember that balance comes from the core. I tense my stomach and root my legs; the wobbling stops completely. Now I understand why people say that SUPing is a workout. I paddle us around the shallow part of the bay, but I’m not very good. My strokes aren’t smooth, I’m going extraordinarily slowly and I realise 5 minutes in that I’ve been holding the paddle the wrong way around. Not the best start. After readjusting the paddle, I slowly circle around the bay. I seem to be getting the hang of it. Time to drop the moral support back at the beach and go it alone. I push the board through the shallow waves and clamber on, on to all fours. When I feel as though I’ve reached the calmest part of the bay I stand up. This time, I don’t wobble. I’m silently rather proud of myself as I paddle around the shallows. I would let out a whoop, but somehow it doesn’t seem appropriate. Instead, I slow my breathing and look out at the landscape in front of me. To my right, a group of penguins are gathered on a rock in a mass of black and white cuteness. The white haze has melted to reveal the horizon — the sea and the sky are now separate entities. I can see mountains tinged with purple and buildings scattered along the coast, but the vast open ocean is what dominates my view. This is the ocean like I’ve never experienced it before — calm, unthreatening, still and peaceful. Sometimes it takes a new experience for you to open your eyes to the pure, natural beauty that surrounds you. Today a bulky SUP was the thing that enabled me to wake up and smell the ocean. For those interested in SUPing lessons and rentals are available from:

    There are also plenty of surf shops dotted all over Cape Town, many of which have qualified SUPing instructors that can introduce you to the wonderful world of SUPing. *All images by Luke Maximo Bell.

  • A Message in a Bottle from Zanzibar

    By Melanie Du Toit |

    Frenzied shouts of laughter and the low but steady thrum of activity emanate from every corner of Zanzibar's Darajani Market. From the very start, a journey here is a pleasant assault on the senses. Against the backdrop of this chaotic cacophony of sounds and a heady collection of scents, I discovered a delightfully confusing array of wares can be bought and bartered for in this part of Stone Town. Unguja's capital seems to comprise an infinite maze of alleyways and narrow side streets. That is until you reach the open square and main hall where all manner of items are on display; from spices and seafood to clothing and souvenirs. It's a bazaar, and not much has changed here since its inception over a hundred years ago. The original building in which the market once stood still stands, but today its merchants spill out onto the surrounding side streets, alleyways, and makeshift paths. Just this morning, the sweet nectar coming from the sugarcane juice being sold was still firmly rooted in the soil while my new friend, the sea monger's, 'catch of the day' was still cruising through cerulean ocean waters.  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner here is warmed up right in front of you on open coals. I struggle to pick from the selection of sosaties and corn-on-the-cob and the option of picking my lunch from one of the tables lined with freshly-caught-and-waiting-to-be-cooked seafood. I may be partaking in the island life, but I can't go for too long without a caffeine fix. Thankfully, coffee is available in abundance here thanks to mainland Tanzania being renowned for its brew. I've spent many mornings getting repeatedly lost in Stone Town's maze in search of my necessary kickstart, and today is no different. I'm trusting my nose to take me to the fragrant porcelain cups of freshly-brewed coffee that I've bought from a merchant who heats his iron cast kettle over hot coals. I always find him in the same spot: in a piece of welcome shade offered by one of the many overhanging balconies that line these streets. It’s not all fresh food and fun in the sun, though—not if I don’t want it to be. I've even wandered through one of Unguja’s most defining pieces of architecture: its House of Wonders. Flanked by the Old Fort and Palace Museum, and overlooking the verdantly landscaped Forodhani Gardens, I was able to drink in the island’s varied history and the vibrant tapestries that have been woven together and stitched by the passage of time. Yesterday, I spent the day on the beach. When I closed my eyes I could hear the Indian Ocean’s tropical waters gently lapping against dhows that had been left beached on the sand. I can vividly recall the warmth of the sun and the shadows it painted across my eyelids as it bore down through the fronds of a waving palm tree above. The water here is so inviting, so warm, and has a translucent cerulean quality—the perfect aqua-tinted glasses through which to marvel at the darting fish and colourful coral reefs that I’ve been able to spot while snorkelling. But, for now, I'm simply looking forward to my evening cruise, gliding on warm waters in pursuit of the horizon and the setting sun - whichever one comes first.

    Wish you were here.

    Do you want to be here? Get in touch and we'll make it happen.

  • 30 Stunning Instagram Photos of South Africa's Wildflower Season

    By Matthew Sterne |

    Every year after the winter rains, the wildflowers of Namaqualand start blooming that herald the start of spring. A kaleidoscopic range of colour erupts along South Africa's West Coast. The flowers carpet the fields like tie-dyed snows and attract visitors from all over the country in search of this beautiful sight akin to the tulips of Netherlands and the cherry blossoms of Japan. If you time it right, it’s truly breathtaking. Here are 33 Instagram photos of this seasonal botanical extravaganza... 1.

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    2/3 A photo posted by Sarah Schumann (@sarahlschumann) on
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    So many flowers! A photo posted by Claire Godby (@clairegodby) on
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    Definition of Orange #westcoastnationalpark #daisies #latergram #nofilter A photo posted by Jess Allen (@jaybirdrises) on
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    #flowers #bug #bugslife #weskusbeskus #westcoastnationalpark #makrophotography #instagramsa A photo posted by Cindy Caldwell (@cindy.caldwell68) on
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      Something a little different. Our #westcoastnationalpark flowers are in full bloom 🌸. I found this little guy also admiring the scenery 🐢 #mandischoltzphotography   A photo posted by Mandi Scholtz-Photographer (@mandi_scholtz_photography) on
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    #westcoastnationalpark #southafricanwildlife #lagoonplants A photo posted by Jenny Maxwell (@jamjam_sa) on
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      It's a#bugslife . Enjoy the #variety of all the #wildflowers in the #westcoastnationalpark   A photo posted by Terri-Ann (@terriann43) on
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    #flower season #westcoastnationalpark #overnighthike #sleepingrough #logfire #bignightsky A photo posted by Tamplyn Newdigate (@frankie_the_chemist) on
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      #flower season #westcoast #capetown #weekend #westcoastnationalpark   A photo posted by Michael Jonker (@micjonker) on
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      Spring Time! #Dimorphotheca sinuata #namakwalanddaisies #spring #flowers #nature   A photo posted by Eloise (@eloise8109) on
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    Just passing by ☺️ #hiking #zebra #flowerseason #postberg #westcoast #southafrica A photo posted by Lisanne van Leeuwen (@lisannevanl) on
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    vygies in Darling #flowerstagram #wildfowers #wildflowerseason #flowerseason #veldblommetjies #lente #Darling #familytime ♡♡ A photo posted by Anita King Marais (@anitakingmarais) on
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  • An Inside Look at Malawi - The Warm Heart of Africa

    By Matthew Sterne |

    Let's assume you're not familiar with the beauty and allure of the small country of Malawi, known as 'The Warm Heart of Africa'. You probably don't know that the country got its name from its incredible sunsets. That the name Malawi comes from Chichewa for flames of fire - because of the incredible sunrises and sunsets that can be seen over Lake Malawi. You also probably don't know that Lake Malawi contains the largest number of fish species of any lake in the world. Or that the Zomba plateau, close to the tea-growing region, is one of the most impressive plateaus in Africa. To shine a little light on this 'flame of fire', one of our consultants, Toast Seagers, recently explored the country and came back with some great stories, epic photos and a glint in his eye. 1. Hey Toast, so where did you go in Malawi?  It was a whirlwind trip to try and see as much of the country as I could during the brief two weeks that I had. Despite being so dense in experiences and landscapes, Malawi is a relatively small country and I was able to head as far North as the stunningly vast Nyika Plateau (from where you can see all the way to Tanzania) and as far South as the great tea-growing area of Thyolo and the Michiru Mountains. 2. What were the highlights of your trip? Because it was a new destination for me, every village, reserve, and beach that we visited was a treat on its own. If I had to pick two highlights, both places I would return to in a heartbeat, I’d choose Mumbo Island and Mvuu Camp in the Liwonde National Park. Mumbo is the quintessential island paradise complete with white beaches, dense forests, and tropical fish of every colour you can think of. Liwonde is arguably the most established of Malawi’s National Parks and cruising down the Shire River provided some of my favourite scenes of the whole trip with herds of elephants, pods of hippos, and humongous crocodiles, all framed by iconic palm trees. As with a lot of places in Africa the staff and people at Mvuu also added greatly to the whole experience.3. What surprised you most about Malawi?  I think the most surprising thing for me was that outside of the National Parks and the Islands, there are people everywhere. We spent quite a few days on the road driving and I cannot recall a single scene in which there were no people. Being a small country means the population is quite concentrated. Another surprising place for me was the Nyika Plateau in the North. The diversity of habitats and wildlife here was remarkable and it is home to a number of endemic plants, butterflies, chameleons and frogs, and the bird life is astounding. You can go on a 30-minute walk and pass from open grasslands reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands into completely contrasting dense forests and on to granite koppies.4.The lake is Malawi's main attraction, why is that? What activities can visitors get up to on the lake? I think the Lake is the main attraction purely because it is so unique to the area but Malawi has a lot going for it besides just the lake. The reserves in the country are a naturalist’s dream and are relatively unvisited and not well explored by tourists. Of course, no visit to Malawi would be complete without some time on the lake where you can snorkel amongst schools of colourful fish or cruise between the local fisherman in their canoes. At night, particularly when it’s a new moon, the lake is solidly speckled with the strong gas lights attached to each canoe to attract the fish. This gives the lake its romantic name The Lake of Stars, and in some ways looks like a city in the distance. There are some areas where you are able to go and feed fish eagles which makes for some first-rate photographic opportunities. Outside of the National Park areas of the lake you are also able to take part in traditional water sports like water skiing and jet skis, and of course fishing.4. Other than Lake Malawi, what can visitors do and where should they visit in Malawi? If hiking is your thing then the mountain trails in Mulanje are brilliant. I’m a safari junkie and appreciate more than just cramming in as many big 5 sightings as you can and so I really enjoyed the game reserves. They are not as developed as other areas in Southern Africa but African Parks has been appointed as custodian of many of the big parks and they are in the middle of an ambitious process to restock the reserves that were heavily affected by poaching, particularly during the war in neighbouring Mozambique. Having said that, if you appreciate the smaller things then the wildlife areas of Malawi are a real treat and at the very least you should visit Liwonde. If you really want to get into it then there are 9 wildlife reserves and protected game areas to choose from and each one is unique in its own way.5. What is the standard of accommodation like? Tourism is taking off very quickly in Malawi and some companies, like Central African Wilderness, have been championing the country for years have done some excellent work in attracting visitors by building lodges and hotels that can stand on their own amongst the best in the world, such as Kaya Mawa on Likoma Island which was voted as one of the top 10 “Most Romantic Places in the World” by Condé Nast Traveller. As with a lot of destinations, there are lodges and hotels to suit all levels of budget and luxury but if you want to really get down and explore the country properly then you need to be prepared to stay in a few “cheap and cheerful” lodges along the way. Having said that, though, it is all relative, and it’s hard to compare somewhere like Mumbo Island that uses bucket showers but has an endless view over the pristine lake, with a more conventional 5-star lodge where you have all the modern conveniences but very little personality and warmth. 6. What are the Malawian people like? The clichéd subtitle on all the country’s marketing material is “The Warm Heart of Africa” and they certainly live up to it. In classic African style the people are friendly and welcoming towards visitors and always do their best to make sure that you feel at home.7. What would be your advice for those considering a trip to Malawi? Don’t rush it, and spend some quality time on the lake. Lake Malawi and some of the lodges there tick all the boxes when it comes to a bit of beach time and the classic white beaches deserve more than a few lazy afternoons and Malawi gin & tonics (yes, they make their own gin). Secondly, speak to an expert. There is such a lot to see and do and it can be overwhelming if you try and plan your trip just based on online reviews and websites. There is something there for everyone and so you will get the most out of it if you plan your trip with someone who understands the logistics especially well. I would also suggest that you look at combining your time in Malawi with a quality safari in the South Luangwa area of Zambia. The two countries work very well together.