Wildlife of Zambia

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The beautiful landlocked south-central African country of Zambia is a true success story when it comes to wildlife preservation and conservation, with more than 6% of the country being protected as national parks and reserves.

The country has a tropical climate and consists mostly of high plateaus (average altitude of 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) above sea level) with a few mountains and hills, dissected by impressive river valleys. There are 14 ecosystems in Zambia, leading to a high number (over 12,000) of fauna and flora species being present in the country, including:

•  over 3,500 species of wild flowering plants occur in the country;

•  a total of 242 mammalian species exist, with most endemic ones occupying the woodland and grassland ecosystems. The Thornicroft Giraffe and Kafue Lechwe are some of the well-known subspecies that are endemic to Zambia;

•  almost 800 bird species have been recorded, of which 600 are either resident or Afrotropic migrants. Chaplin’s Barbet, White-chested Tinkerbird, Black-cheeked Lovebird and Shelley’s Sunbird are just some of the special species of Zambia;

•  roughly 490 known fish species, belonging to 24 fish families have been reported in Zambia, with Lake Tanganyika having the highest diversity and most endemic species.

Zambia has some of Africa’s best wildlife and game reserves, affording the country with abundant tourism potential. Because the country is relatively undervisited compared to east Africa and South Africa, you can still have spectacular wildlife sightings all to yourself – a very special experience! Zambia’s fantastic reputation is helped along by friendly and English-speaking local people with a positivity not easily seen elsewhere in south-central Africa.  Zambia is a very safe country to travel around in with a very low risk of terrorism.

The Victoria Falls in the southern part of the country is obviously a major tourist attraction, being a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Apart from that must-be-seen highlight, some of the best known parks are:

•  Kafue National Park, one of the biggest parks in Africa (the size of Wales) and blessed with incredible wildlife diversity and special antelope species. Mammals in the park include African Elephant, Cheetah, African Wild Dog, Lion, Red Lechwe, Puku, Defassa Waterbuck, Common Eland, Oribi, Sable Antelope, Roan Antelope and Southern Reedbuck.

•  South Luangwa National Park, the original home of the walking safari and regarded as one of the great parks of Africa. It is also known as the “Leopard capital of the world” with a very high success rate of seeing these elusive big cats. Other game present in big numbers include Lion, African Wild Dog, African Elephant, African Buffalo, Hippopotamus, Thornicroft Giraffe, Plains Zebra, Common Wildebeest and Impala. The birdlife in this park is also prolific with over 400 recorded species in the park.

Other smaller parks include Nsumbu National Park (with 80 km of lakeshore of Lake Tanganyika) in the north of the country, Nyika National Park in the northeast (mostly in Malawi, and blessed with high altitude grassland habitat), Kasanka National Park (with its spectacular annual bat migration), Victoria Falls National Park (with its patch of rainforest growing in the spray of the falls), North Luangwa National Park (north of South Luangwa with much the same fauna, but underdeveloped) and Lower Zambezi National Park (one of the last true remote wilderness areas in southern Africa).

We here at Nature Travel Africa offer several fantastic safaris to Zambia. They include

We can also include Zambia as part of your itinerary to neighbouring countries, like Zimbabwe, Namibia or Botswana. Enquire at info@naturetravelafrica.com or visit www.naturetravelafrica.com for more information.

Mana Pools National Park

Located in far northern Zimbabwe, the life-giving power of the mighty Zambezi River makes Mana Pools National Park one of Zimbabwe’s most lush, unspoilt and flourishing regions.

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The park takes its name, Mana, from the Shona word meaning ‘four’ and refers to the four large watering holes or pools that are formed by the meandering Zambezi River flowing through the park. These are complemented by a 50km (30mi) long stretch of sandbanks and riverbanks flanked with lush forests with huge trees.

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, the 220 000 hectare (900 square miles) park is known for its striking natural beauty and as one of the continent’s premier game-viewing areas. It is, however, one of the least developed national parks in the entire subregion, and is situated far from all major towns and settlements, giving an incredibly rare feeling of utter remoteness.

Mana is actually part of the 10 500 km2 Parks Wildlife Estate that runs from the Kariba dam to the Mozambique border in the east. This large area has no fences and wildlife is free to roam, even to Zambia to the north, where there are also large wildlife conservation areas set aside.

Mana is home to the biggest concentration of Hippopotamus and Nile Crocodile in the whole of Zimbabwe. Visitors entering the reserve during the dry season can also look forward to excellent sightings of large herds of African Elephant and African Buffalo. Common Eland, Plains Zebra, Chacma Baboons and Waterbuck are also regularly seen in the area. The park is also home to threatened species including the Lion, Cheetah, African Wild Dog and the Brown Hyaena.

Mana Pools was designated a Ramsar wetland of international importance in 2013, and over 380 species of birds have been recorded. Special species include Pel’s Fishing Owl, African Skimmer, Livingstone’s Flycatcher, Lilian’s Lovebird, Eastern Nicator, Shelley’s Sunbird, Red-necked Falcon and Western Banded Snake Eagle, along with many others.

Visitors can look forward to an array of activities such as canoe trips, which provide a unique and memorable way for visitors to experience the area’s striking scenic beauty and diverse fauna, while the park’s famous guided walks are a great way to take in the park’s pristine riverine forests. Other popular activities apart from walking include game drives, river cruises, catch-and-release fishing, and searching for dinosaur tracks.

To get more info on this or one of our other African safaris browse to www.naturetravelafrica.com or email us on info@naturetravelafrica.com

Wildlife of Zimbabwe

Despite its many political problems, Zimbabwe is still a top destination for wildlife enthusiasts from all over the globe. It is a country that offers so much! It is still a safe country to travel to, with a good infrastructure in terms of accommodation, roads and modern amenities. Zimbabwe was included in Conde Nast Traveller’s Top 20 Best places to travel in 2017, as well as being voted 3 of “Top 10 Countries to Visit in 2019” by Lonely Planet. It was also recently listed 9 on “The Coolest places to visit in 2019” in National Geographic Travel. Renowned for being one of Africa’s most beautiful destinations with a superb year-round climate, the country’s tourism is bouncing back in a big way!

This incredibly scenic southern African country is mostly savannah, although the moist and mountainous eastern highlands support areas of tropical evergreen and hardwood forests. In the low-lying parts of the country fever trees, mopane, combretum and baobabs abound. Much of the country is covered by miombo woodland, dominated by Brachystegia species and others.

There are around 200 species of mammals that can be found in Zimbabwe, including Africa’s famed Big Five (Lion, Leopard, African Elephant, African Buffalo and rhino), Cheetah, African Wild Dog, Brown Hyaena, Giraffe, Hippopotamus and many species of antelope and smaller mammals.

The country also boasts many reptile species, almost 700 bird species (including 10 globally threatened species as well as African Pitta, Dickinson’s Kestrel, Roberts’s Warbler, Chirinda Apalis, Blue Swallow, Swynnerton’s Robin, Boulder Chat, Southern Hyolita and Miombo Rock Thrush), 131 fish species (including the highly prized tigerfish) and many other fascinating species of fauna and flora.

The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority has the task of overseeing the activities related to 10 national parks, nine recreational parks, four botanical gardens, four safari areas and three wildlife sanctuaries. These areas are collectively called the Wildlife Estate which covers an area about 47,000 km2 (18,000 sq mi), which is equivalent to an astonishing 12.5% of the total land area of the country.

Zimbabwe’s national parks and private reserves offer some of Africa’s best wildlife viewing. In addition, the country boasts some of the best guides in Africa, many who are seasoned leaders of walking safaris that offer remarkably intimate encounters with the natural environment. Day and night game drives and canoe safaris on the Zambezi are also thrilling ways to see Zimbabwe’s tremendous diversity of wildlife.

Some of Zimbabwe’s top nature and wildlife destinations include the natural world wonder that is the thundering Victoria Falls (a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-see on any Zimbabwe itinerary), the huge Hwange National Park (famous for its big Lion and African Wild Dog populations, and locally called “Wankie”), Gonarezhou National Park (with its massive African Elephant population), Mana Pools National Park (a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site), the Matobo National Park (protecting a large rhino population, and another UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the stunning Nyanga National Park in the Eastern Highlands.

We here at Nature Travel Africa offer several safaris to the wonderful wildlife destination that is Zimbabwe. These include

For more information on these safaris or any other Zimbabwe question you may have, please contact us at info@naturetravelafrica.com or browse to Nature Travel Africa‘s webpage for more.

 

Chobe National Park

If you like elephants, you will LOVE Chobe!

Chobe NP, Botswana (17)

Chobe National Park in northern Botswana is home to some of Africa’s highest concentrations of game, with the region boasting the largest continuous African Elephant population on the continent, about 80,000 individuals at the last count.

The 12,000 km² Chobe park, taking its name from the river of the same name, covers an incredible diversity of ecosystems, ranging from arid plains and dry channels to fertile grasslands, dense woodland and watery swamps. Its diverse habitats support a high density and rich variety of animals and birds (over 500 species). It was Botswana’s first national park, established in 1967.

Apart from the large number of pachyderms, Chobe is also known for its excellent game viewing boat cruises along the Chobe River, which attracts plenty of animals and birds, and offers guests some of the best sunset views anywhere in Africa. In the southwestern area of Chobe lies the Savuti Marsh, hosting some of Africa’s highest year-round concentrations of wildlife, especially predators. Chobe’s Lions are world renowned for having learnt how to prey on African Elephants, occasionally even adults!

Winter (April to September) is the best time to go game viewing in Chobe Park as herds of Plains Zebra, African Buffalo, Giraffe and other antelope species gather at the water sources. It is also the best time to take some truly memorable wildlife photographs, another thing Chobe is famous for.

Chobe is conveniently located just outside of the small town of Kasane in northern Botswana and under two hours from Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, making it one of Africa’s most accessible top national parks, either by road or air.

The huge inland Okavango Delta, also located in northern Botswana, is a top safari destination in Africa, although not a national park. This pristine delta offers a unique safari adventure and is often visited in combination with Chobe.

Join us on one of our superb Namibia & Botswana safaris that include Chobe and many other parks and places – you will love it! For more information, browse to our Luxury Botswana Safari or enquire directly at info@naturetravelafrica.com

Wildlife of Botswana

Experience the stunning beauty, the unimaginable vastness, the isolation, the incredible contrasts, the rich culture, and the prolific wildlife of the best kept secret in Africa – Botswana.

With almost half of the country’s surface dedicated to national parks and game reserves, it is clear why Botswana is one of Africa’s top safari destinations. It is a country that includes iconic safari destinations like:

•  Chobe National Park, with its huge numbers of African Elephants (80,000 at last count)

•  Savuti, with its big carnivore populations, especially Lion and Spotted Hyaena

•  the rugged and unspoilt Mashatu Game Reserve, offering horse-back safaris, cycling safaris and walks in the wild

•  the famous one-of-a-kind Okavango Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

 •  the diverse and bird-rich Moremi Game Reserve, also a hotspot for African Wild Dog

But Botswana also has the alien landscape of the Makgadikgadi saltpans and the semi-desert red dunes and grasslands of the Kalahari. All in one country!

Whether your thing is old school open vehicle safaris, mokoro(dug-out canoe) rides, birdwatching, wildlife photography, camping (or even glamping), quad biking, fishing, or 4×4 off-road adventures you are sure to enjoy yourself in Botswana. It truly has something for everyone.

Botswana’s fauna include 164 mammal, 589 bird and 150 reptile species. The country also boasts 2500 species of plants and 650 species of trees. Truly remarkable diversity!

Just 2 hours away by air from Cape Town or Johannesburg, Botswana is an easy African safari  choice for both the discerning traveller and the hard-core adventurer. Furthermore, it is the safest country in Africa to visit according to the worldwide Travel Risk Index.

Have a look at our different Botswana safari options by going to www.naturetravelafrica.com, or enquire directly at info@naturetravelafrica.com and we can create the perfect personalised Botswana safari for you.

Uganda Wildlife Safari

“Oh Uganda, land of beauty” is the opening line of this east-central African country’s national anthem, and it is certainly true! But apart from beautiful green landscapes, pleasant tropical climate and richly diverse fauna and flora species, Uganda also offers friendly people, a safe travel environment and good tourism infrastructure.

Our 12-day, small-group, expert-guided Uganda Wildlife Safari features the famous African Big 5, as well as Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees and other primates, along with superb birdwatching, incredible scenery and much more!

The trip starts and ends in Entebbe and features some of Uganda’s premier safari and wildlife destinations, covering

• Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary – proud home of the only wild rhinos in Uganda and a successful private-government conservation cooperation project

• Murchison Falls National Park – named for the stunning waterfall where the Nile river crashes through a narrow gorge, but also home to fantastic birds and mammals

• Kabwoya Wildlife Reserve – one of the hidden gems of the Albertine rift valley, blessed with incredible views of Lake Albert and the Blue Mountains

• Kibale National Park – home to an incredible 13 species of primates, and the best place on earth to see our closest relative, the Chimpanzee

• Queen Elizabeth National Park – famous for its 95 mammal species, 500 bird species and dramatic volcanic features

• Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and most notable for its population of about 400 Mountain Gorillas

• Lake Mburo National Park – the smallest of Uganda’s savannah national parks and home to 350 bird species and stunning wetland scenery

For your chance to join us on this amazing adventure in the “Pearl of Africa” in August 2020, enquire directly at info@naturetravelafrica.com and we’ll get back to you right away. Also, check out the details of the Uganda itinerary for more information.

World Rhino Day

World Rhino Day is today, September 22, and it celebrates all five species of rhinoceros: Black, White, Indian, Sumatran and Javan rhinos.

Black Rhinoceros

In 2010 it was apparent that the plight of the rhinoceros wasn’t known to people around the world, and most people didn’t know just how close we were coming to total extinction of this majestic species. So it was that the WWF-South Africa announced World Rhino Day in an effort to save the world’s remaining rhinos, an effort that grew to be an unprecedented success. World Rhino Day has since grown to become a global phenomenon, uniting NGOs, zoos, cause-related organisations, businesses, and concerned individuals from nearly every corner of the world!

World Rhino Day celebrates Rhinoceroses and generates awareness of issues regarding their well-being. In recent years, rhinos have been threatened by poaching, urbanisation and pollution, which have left certain rhino species on the brink of extinction while leaving other species severely endangered.

Visit Matobo

World Rhino Day activities vary from one participant to the next. Donors and partners are able to contribute to the organisations and initiatives of their choosing. Peaceful demonstrations, classroom projects, fundraising dinners, social media awareness (#WorldRhinoDay and #RhinoDay), auctions and poster displays are just a few examples of what we all can do. There is even a World Rhino music playlist on Spotify!

We here at the Nature Travel group have a special love for the Black Rhinoceros.

Let’s all stand together and save these magnificent beasts for generations to come! For more information browse to Nature Travel Conservation or visit https://www.worldrhinoday.org/  for more information on World Rhino Day.

 

Wildlife of South Africa

The “rainbow nation” of South Africa is world famous for its multi-ethnic society, encompassing a wide variety of cultures, languages, and religions. It has one of the best constitutions in the world and is a beacon of hope at the southernmost tip of the mother continent of Africa.

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Some of the tourist highlights of this amazing country include:
• Picturesque natural landscapes;
• 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites;
• Excellent infrastructure in terms of transport and accommodation options;
• a Generally temperate climate;
• Diverse cultural heritage and rich history;
• The Mother City of Cape Town with her myriad of attractions;
• Highly regarded wines, olive oils, whiskey, brandy(cognac) and “Rooibos” tea;
• Some of the best game reserves (over 100 at last count) and national parks (20 in total) on the continent, the most famous being the Kruger National Park.

South Africa is without a doubt one of the top nature and wildlife destinations, not just in Africa, but the entire planet. The country boasts an incredible array of diverse habitats, including:
• a 2,500 km (1,553 mi) long coastline along two oceans (the South Atlantic and the Indian) with an array of habitat found in this long stretch
• an almost flat inland plateau with an altitude of between 1,000 m (3,300 ft) and 2,100 m (6,900 ft) surrounded by the Great Escarpment that includes the spectacular Drakensberg mountain range
• the arid Karoo in the western parts of the country
• the almost Mediterranean-like Cape Peninsula area in the southwest corner
• the Kalahari desert with its red sand dunes in the far northwest
• the bushveld savannah in the north
• the Lowveld area to the far northeast of the country

This diversity of habitat has led to an incredible amount of fauna and flora having been recorded in South Africa. In fact, the country is ranked 6th out of the world’s megadiverse countries.

Some of the species include:
•   22,000 Different higher plant species (9% of all the known species on Earth), including 130 different Protea species and the species of the endemic Fynbos biome.
•   297 Species of mammals occur, including the famous Big Five (Lion, Leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino), African Wild Dog, Cheetah, several endangered golden mole species, the critically endangered Riverine Rabbit and numerous species of whale and dolphin.• a bird count of 858, including almost 40 endemic species; special species include Blue Korhaan, Knysna Turaco, Ground Woodpecker, Southern Bald Ibis, Cape and Drakensberg Rockjumper, Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird and many more.
•   447 Species of reptile have been listed, including Angulated Tortoise, Qudeni Dwarf Chameleon, Augrabies Flat Lizard, Yellow-bellied House Snake and many others
•   Amphibian diversity is also high (132 species) with highlights being Western Leopard Toad, Spotted Shovelnose Frog and the critically endangered Table Mountain Ghost Frog.
Many of these fantastic species can be seen in South Africa’s parks and wildlife reserves. Some of the most famous and often visited of these are
•   The huge Kruger National Park, one of the true great parks of Africa. Kruger has more mammals than any other park anywhere in the world, along with incredible landscapes, 500 bird species, a wide variety of accommodation options and a rich history.
•   The innovative Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park straddling the border between South African and Botswana. It has red sand dunes and sparse vegetation, but abundant and varied wildlife.
•   The diverse Addo Elephant National Park close to Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape province that contains five of South Africa’s seven major biomes (vegetation zones). It is the only park in the world to have the “Big Seven” (Big Five plus whales and Great White Shark) in their natural habitat.
•   The province of Kwazulu-Natal’s Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, famous for its hilly topography, lots of rhinos, the Big Five, several rare species of fauna and flora (Nyala, Suni, Pink-throated Longclaw, Shelley’s Francolin) and for being the oldest proclaimed reserve in Africa (1895).

We would love to take you on safari in South Africa. Our current set-itinerary trips include several Kruger National Park safaris, but we can customise your trip to include any of the country’s parks, reserves and tourist attractions, depending on your preference. Get in touch with us at info@naturetravelafrica.com and we will work out the perfect South Africa safari for you.

Kasanka Bat Migration, Zambia

One of Africa’s best kept wildlife secrets occurs annually between October and December, when about 10 million African Straw-coloured Fruit-bats (Eidolon helvum) descend into the tiny patch of evergreen Mushitu forest inside Kasanka National Park in northern Zambia.

The huge bats arrive from throughout the moist, tropical forests of the Congo basin with the first rains in Kasanka, which prompts the ripening of the fruit upon which they feed.

While the Great Migration of hundreds of thousands of wildebeest in east Africa is one of the best known wildlife phenomenons in Africa, this Zambian bat migration is actually the largest migration of mammals on earth, and is unique to Kasanka. The sheer numbers of bats darken the skies and it is an audiovisual spectacle that every wildlife and nature lover should add to their bucket list.

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At dusk each night, the bats begin to fly and the sky becomes thick with big flocks as they prepare to spend the night indulging on a feast of fruit. The bats are large, with wingspans of a metre, and each bat can eat up to twice its own body weight. During their time in Kasanka, they can consume a mind boggling 5,000 collective tons of fruit each evening!

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Apart from the astonishing bat migration, Kasanka is also famous for fantastic other mammal sightings (including Sitatunga, Blue Monkey, Puku, African Elephant and many more), as well as excellent birdwatching (more than 400 species have been recorded in the park), combined with incredible scenic surrounds and dramatic African landscapes.

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Join us later in 2020 for this incredible, never-to-be-forgotten wildlife phenomenon on our Zambia Bat Migration Safari or enquire at info@naturetravelafrica.com

 

Madagascar Wildlife Tour

Madagascar, off Africa’s eastern coast in the Indian Ocean, is the world’s fourth-largest island and sits at the top of many nature lovers’ bucket list of places to visit on the planet. The combination of unique wildlife, stunning reefs and pristine beaches, fascinating culture, over 100 endemic bird species, delicious local cuisine, amazing scenic diversity, 750 species of endemic orchids, some of the best chocolate in the world and of course, the famous lemurs, makes Madagascar an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Visit Madagascar with Nature Travel Africa

Following the breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana, Madagascar split from the Indian peninsula around 88 million years ago, allowing the fauna and flora to evolve in relative isolation. Consequently, Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot; over 90% of its wildlife is found nowhere else on earth! The island boasts a remarkable array of endemic flora, reptiles, frogs, birds and mammals, the famous lemurs and two-thirds of the world’s chameleons. This is the reason Madagascar has often been called an “alternate world” or “a world apart”, or even the “Eighth Continent”.

The diversity of Madagascar’s peoples, its incomparable natural beauty, its unbelievable fauna and flora and other major attractions will undeniably leave an indelible mark on each and every visitor for the rest of their lives.

Visit www.naturetravelafrica.com for more information on our magical Madagascar wildlife tour, or enquire directly at info@naturetravelafrica.com