Nyika National Park

People often talk about all the big famous parks in Africa, but easily forget about the smaller, less known parks. If you are looking for something different, much more relaxed and enjoy being pleasantly surprised, then Nyika National Park in Malawi is just the one for you!

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Nyika is Malawi’s oldest and largest park with an area of 1250 sq miles (3200 km2). Nyika means “where the water comes from” and it is, indeed, one of Malawi’s most important catchment areas. The park covers practically the whole of the Nyika Plateau in northern Malawi, and almost all of the park lies at over 2,000 metres (6,600 feet) above sea level. The rolling scenery is at its best in the rainy season when over 200 types of orchid are in flower. The grasslands of Nyika are rich in wildflowers in other seasons as well.

Nyika is wonderful for hiking and mountain biking, as well as more conventional 4×4 safari excursions. The higher elevations are open, undulating grasslands with incised valleys, creating panoramic views, slopes of wild flowers, rolling green hills, rocky outcrops, and small, tropical forests. The park is home to large numbers of antelope, from the diminutive Common Duiker to Common Eland and Roan Antelope and the Crawshay’s subspecies of Plains Zebra. The park also boasts one of the highest densities of Leopard in central Africa, although they are rarely seen. African Elephants usually keep to the lower ground on the northern edge of the park.

For the birdwatcher, the park has a lot to offer: over 400 species have been recorded! The rare Denham’s Bustard and the Wattled Crane are among those to be seen, as is the Hildebrandt’s Francolin, White-chested Alethe, African Hill Babbler, Miombo Pied Barbet, Black-backed Barbet, Green-backed Honeyguide, Red-faced Crimsonwing, Sharpe’s Akalat, Olive-flanked Robin, Orange Thrush, Bar-tailed Trogon, Moustached Green Tinkerbird, Brown Parisoma and Black-lored Cisticola, among many others.

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Come and join us in Nyika in Malawi on an amazing trip; our Malawi & Zambia wildlife safari also visits:
•  Liwonde National Park in the south of Malawi, famous for the successful private-public partnership conservation project on the go at the moment, and for incredible riverside scenery and diverse fauna and flora.
•  South Luangwa National Park in bordering Zambia, one of the great parks of Africa, and boasting huge African Elephant, African Buffalo and Leopard populations, and also the home of the African walking safari.

For more information on this small group, expert-guided trip, enquire at info@naturetravelafrica.com or browse to our Malawi & Zambia Wildlife Safari.

 

Matobo National Park

Idyllically located in the spectacular Matobo Hills in southwestern Zimbabwe, and only an hour from Bulawayo, the renowned Matobo National Park is known for its rich human history, its remarkably diverse flora and fauna and its magnificent and breathtaking rugged terrain.

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This unspoiled natural wilderness features a range of massive red-tinged, granite boulders interspersed with gorgeous wooded valleys making it a dream destination for hikers, climbers and nature lovers alike. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the unsung highlights in Zimbabwe, and rightly considered the spiritual heartbeat of the country.

The name of the area, Matobo (or sometimes Matopos), was given to it in the 1840s by Mzilikazi, founder of the Ndebele nation. The park was officially established in 1926 as the Rhodes Matopos National Park and received its World Heritage Site status in 2003.

The reserve is compact (424 km2/164 sq mi), easily accessible and is home to an impressive range of African wildlife. Adjoining the main part of the national park is a small, intensively protected park containing Zimbabwe’s highest concentration of White and Black Rhinoceros. Matobo offers the best chance of seeing these endangered species in the country. Other animals in the park include Plains Zebra, Common Wildebeest, Greater Kudu, Common Eland, Sable Antelope, Giraffe, Cheetah, Hippopotamus, Common Warthog, Rock Hyrax and Nile Crocodile as well as Africa’s largest concentration of Leopard.

From a birding perspective, the park boasts the world’s largest concentration of Verreaux’s Eagles, along with African Hawk-Eagle, Wahlberg, Crowned, Martial and African Fish Eagle, Bateleur, Augur Buzzard, Lanner and Peregrine Falcon, Gabar Goshawk, Secretarybird, Cape Eagle-Owl, Boulder Chat, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Southern Hyliota, Mottled Swift, Freckled Nightjar, African Pygmy Goose, Purple-crested Turaco and many more. A total of about 300 avian species have been recorded in the park.

The Matobo Hills is an area of high botanic diversity, with over 200 species of tree recorded in the national park, including the Mountain Acacia, South African Wild Pear and the Paperbark Thorn. There are also many aloes, wild herbs and over 100 grass species. Many types of rare endemic plants have been recorded in the park and surrounds.

Matobo also contains many historical sites, including the burial sites of Cecil John Rhodes, Leander Starr Jameson and Sir Charles Coghlan. There are also 3,000 vitally important San rock art painting sites, along with various archaeological finds dating back as far as the Pre-Middle Stone Age.

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Matobo is home to some memorable accommodation options, some of which are designed around the boulders themselves. There are also some lovely lodges and campgrounds inside the park. There are numerous activities to be had in Matobo, including game viewing, hiking and running, horse riding, fishing and boating.

For a chance to visit this stunning gem of a park, join us on safari in Zimbabwe. For more information visit https://naturetravelafrica.com/experience-zimbabwe/ or enquire at info@naturetravelafrica.com

 

 

 

Wildlife of Uganda

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“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.

The country is located on the east African plateau with a rim of mountains around it, and averages about 1,100 metres (3,609 ft) above sea level. Although landlocked, Uganda contains many large lakes, including one that influences much of the country’s south, Lake Victoria, the largest tropical lake on Earth. Uganda has a wide variety of different habitats, including mountains, hills, tropical rainforest, woodland, freshwater lakes, swamps and savannah. The country has a huge amount of biodiverse flora and fauna reflecting this range of habitats. Some 345 species of mammal and 1060 bird species have been recorded in the country, along with 4,500 species of plants, 142 species of reptile, 86 amphibian species, 501 species of fish and 1,242 butterfly species. A treasure trove of fauna and flora indeed!

Some of Uganda’s key mammal species are Eastern Gorilla (Mountain subspecies), Chimpanzee, Angola Colobus, Ugandan Grey-cheeked Mangabey, Eastern Red Colobus, L’Hoest’s Monkey, Guereza, Blue Monkey, Lion, Leopard, African Golden Cat, Serval, African Buffalo, African Elephant, Kob (Uganda subspecies), Sitatunga, Beisa Oryx, Giraffe (Rothschild’s subspecies), Forest Hog and Hippopotamus. There are also several near threatened bat, shrew and rat species, along with Jackson’s Mongoose, Spotted-necked and African Clawless Otter.

Top avian species include the iconic Shoebill, Grey Parrot, African and Green-breasted Pitta, Nahan’s Francolin, Papyrus Gonolek, Many-coloured, Luhder’s and Bocage’s Bushshrike, Dusky and Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Blue Malkoha, Black Bee-eater, Blue-throated Roller, Afep Pigeon, Great Blue Turaco and many others.

Uganda boasts 60 protected areas and 10 national parks. Some of them are considered among Africa’s premier safari and wildlife destinations, including

•  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

We offer some fantastic trips to Uganda, including our

For your chance to join us on an amazing adventure in the “Pearl of Africa” in August 2020 get in touch with us at info@naturetravelafrica.com.

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!

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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.

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