Tag Archives: African Safari Tours

6 Tips for Navigating Through the African Savannah without a Compass

Scenario: You’ve been lost for two days in the African savannah with nothing but the clothes on your back. You know survival skills but you’re not sure how to find civilization. The key is to stay optimistic and continue to implement your survival skills (view our post on survival skills in the African savannah here). It could take days, weeks, or even months to be found, so don’t get discouraged.

Although there’s no definite way to find your way back to civilization, there are strategies you can implement to increase your chances of finding people.   

6 tips to finding your way back to civilization without a compass or a map:

  1. Be confident: Have the confidence that you will find your way back. Don’t give up and don’t think negatively. When you think this way you become discouraged and less likely to be motivated to continue on. Keep going and don’t give up.
  2. Choose your direction and stick to that route: You don’t want to end up going in circles. When choosing the direction you want to go in, look for higher ground. This is where you’ll want to head.
  3. Climb to the highest ground: Implement your survival skills when traveling to the top and your chances of survival will be very strong.
  4. Observe from the top: Once you reach the top, make sure you have a panoramic view of the lower ground. Look for huts, smoke, villages, and streams.
  5. 5. Follow the streams: If you do not see any signs of civilization from the highest ground than look for streams—these are the best places to find civilization. Also, streams are interconnected and lead to larger streams, which will be more likely to be a large water source for villages.
  6. Use the sun and your watch: Point the hour hand of your watch directly at the sun. Look for the halfway point between the hour hand and twelve o’clock. This is north (if you’re in the northern hemisphere this would be south but since you are in southern Africa, you are in the southern hemisphere). Also, during midday in the southern hemisphere, the sun will be in the north.

You don’t want to have to use these navigation or survival skills, so always remember to stay with your vehicle and guide. Many African safari tours are comprised of a small group of tourists and a highly knowledgeable and certified safari guide, so the likelihood of getting lost is nearly impossible—unless you are intentionally trying to get lost!



The Elephant Sanctuary: The Ultimate Place to Connect With Nature

elephantImagine standing in the bush as you watch a 12,000 lb. mammal approach you without the restraint of a fence or cage. It would be exhilarating to say the least.

At the Elephant Sanctuary in Garden Route, South Africa, this situation is a reality. At the Elephant Sanctuary, you’ll not only be able to witness these creatures up-close, you will also have the opportunity to pet, feed, and walk with them trunk-in-hand. There is also the option to ride these magnificent creatures, which is a favorite among children and adults alike.

The staff members at the Elephant Sanctuary are completely dedicated to the safety, happiness, and well-being of the elephants and are equally committed to the enjoyment and learning experience guests have with the elephants. Because of their passion for guest and elephant happiness alike, staff at the Elephant Sanctuary takes great pride in their ability to foster relationships between elephants and humans.

elephant logoThe Elephant Sanctuary has three different locations including Plettenberg Bay, Hartbeespoort Dam, and Hazyview. All three locations provide excellent care for young African elephants that need a temporary home. Once the elephants become more independent, The Elephant Sanctuary will release the elephant into the wild.

During your visit to the Elephant Sanctuary, you have your pick of several different activities . . .

One-hour-trunk-in-hand elephant education program: This program is designed for all ages and is an excellent way to learn about elephant behavior and personalities from expert guides. You will also have the opportunity to pet, feed, and walk trunk-in-hand with these delightful animals.

Elephant-back ride: This includes the one-hour-trunk-in-hand elephant education program with the addition of a 15 minute elephant-back ride. Because there is no saddle between you and the elephant, you are able to have direct contact with the elephant and feel its natural movements beneath you.

elephant and boysEarly morning elephant brush downs: During this program, you have the rare opportunity to interact with the elephants as they are groomed and brushed down as well as view their daily training and stimulation program. In addition to these wonderful activities, the early morning elephant brush down program also includes the one-hour-trunk-in-hand elephant education program.

Afternoon sundowner elephant experience: This program is the ultimate experience for visitors to the Elephant Sanctuary. The program includes all three of the above programs: the one-hour-trunk-in-hand elephant education program, the elephant-back ride, and the elephant brush down.

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Client Testimonial from South Africa Family Vacation

My clients, the Sirois family, just returned from their African safari vacation to South Africa, where they traveled to Cape Town, the Garden Route and went on safari.  Here’s what they had to say:

The Sirois family having a Cape Malay cooking lesson

The Sirois family having a Cape Malay cooking lesson

Thanks to Hills of Africa we had a very unique and personalized experience on our visit to South Africa. We would never have been able to find all the wonderful places we visited without their invaluable advice. We even learned to cook a traditional Cape Malay meal in a home in the Bo Kaap District of Cape Town! Tour books don’t come close to what they did.
We had a fairly rigid time line and lots of things we wanted to do. They put together a fabulous itinerary that not only allowed us to fit in all the things we wanted (touring, shopping, wineries, safari, etc…) but also gave us some flexibility to add things along the way. They booked us with hotels, game reserves and tour guides that they KNEW would be top notch. Hills of Africa met all our expectations and more. We can’t wait to go back.

The Sirois family having lunch in Kalk Bay, Cape Town

The Sirois family having lunch in Kalk Bay, Cape Town

I love Africa, I love planning vacations to Africa, and I think it really shows.

Have you been to Africa?  What were your lasting impressions of your trip to Africa?


Top 5 Reasons Why a Botswana Safari Trip in the Okavango Delta Is a Must

Driving through the Jao ConcessionInternationally celebrated for its crystal blue lagoons, abundant wildlife, captivating scenery, and unspoiled terrain, it’s no wonder Okavango Delta is rated as one of the world’s top most luxurious destinations for an African safari vacation. Boasting some of the most brilliant wildlife in the world, this stunning oasis is arguably the greatest place in all of Africa to enjoy a wide variety of authentic African safari tours. Characterized by its intimate safaris, rich with exotic wildlife, Okavango Delta in Botswana celebrates exceptional accommodations, breath-taking adventure, and absolutely stunning scenery.

The waterholes outside of Okavango Delta’s world-renowned accommodations are a haven for exotic birds, spectacular game-viewing, and vivaciously colored fish. But those aren’t the only characteristics that make Okavango Delta the seasonal travelers’ hot-topic. Bursting with authentic African spirit and deeply-rooted cultural heritage, the Okavango Delta is the gateway to an incredible world of rich history and thrilling adventures.

Visitors to the Okavango Delta are able to explore the vast cracked, red-mud plains and glistening lagoons hidden between the solid trunks of the baobabs, while on an African safari vacation. The Okavango Delta’s ideal terrain makes it possible to enjoy a wide variety of both relaxing and adventurous activities.

Jao_bedroomFor honeymooners on a Botswana honeymoon safari, the Okavango Delta provides an indescribable, romantic backdrop, unfitting for words. Also perfect for those on an African family safari, this prized Botswana gem boasts a harmonious blend of family oriented activities and incredible learning experiences for all.

Top 5 reasons why a Botswana safari trip in Okavango Delta is the greatest vacation to enjoy with your loved ones:

  1. Luxurious Accommodations: Okavango Delta’s luxurious accommodations incorporate a 19th-century luxury-safari style camping and lodging experience, which truly reflects the lifestyle of past African explorers.Camps and lodges with outdoor showers and screened in porches allow the bush to come to life all around you and are the perfect places to retreat to after a long day on an enchanting Botswana safari trip. Private, sprawling decks offer a great opportunity to observe a family of hippopotamus playing in the majestic lagoon at close proximity. Okavango Delta’s camps and lodges all boast a casual, yet luxurious atmosphere that allows for a comfortable and playful stay.
  2. Exhilarating Game Drives: Celebrating some of the greatest game drives in all of Africa, Okavango Delta is a must-visit destination if you’re looking to experience a truly authentic African safari trip. It’s a rewarding and unforgettable experience to have the opportunity to witness Africa’s legendary creatures in the wild, such as zebras, elephants, exotic birds, buffalo, pangolin, sitatunga, red lechwe, wattled crane, lions, hippos, giraffes, and more.
  3. Relaxing Activities: Incorporate calm activities into an adventurous African safari vacation including walking safaris, bird watching, picnics, and fishing. Observe exotic birds while on an African safari nature walk through the whistling reeds and papyrus patches of the Okavango Delta plains. No longer is a safari vehicle the boundary between you and nature. Feel the texture of the ground beneath your feet as your heart races to the site of a leopard hiding in the bush.Relax with a picnic on a nearby island as you discover exotic plant life and unspoiled wilderness, or go fishing in the sprawling floodplains.
  4. Exciting Glass-Bottom Mokoro Safaris: Take a unique look into the mystery of the surrounding waters on an authentic canoe safari through the winding waterways of the Okavango Delta. Drift by a crocodile as it basks in the hot sun, watch as hippos splash through the water, and observe some of the world’s most astounding birds.
  5. Witness nature together: Bring your Botswana honeymoon safari or African family safari to life as you travel through the Okavango Delta’s various ecosystems to explore budding plants, animals giving birth, vibrant colors in all directions, magnificent scenery, galloping antelope, viscous game, and so much more. Become one with nature on a walking safari and follow elephant herds as they travel to the Linyanti concession, or follow a zebra migration to Savuti. The possibilities are endless . . .

Adventure through the sprawling floodplains and mud plains of Okavango Delta on an authentic African family safari or Botswana honeymoon safari, and experience a world of majestic beauty and splendor. Let Hills of Africa Travel take care of all your travel details and create a tailored itinerary around your every preference. Contact us today at (877) 845-4802. We’re looking forward to making your dreams come true . . .


Animal Spotlight: The Red Lechwe

lechwePopular in the southern regions of Africa, the red lechwe is one of the most fascinating creatures to observe in nature. Watch as it sprints through chest-deep water to avoid a cheetah or lion. Simply observing its sudden and quick movements sends a jolt of adrenaline through your spine with the speculation that there may be a kill.

Vulnerable to crocodiles, snakes, leopards, lion, and hyenas, the red lechwe must be on the look-out at all times. Frequently using the water as a refuge from predators, the red lechwe is almost always seen wading in swamps, floodplains, and water holes.

The red lechwe is characterized by a dark, reddish-brown coat, and long, thin horns, that are frequently used by the male lechwes as a way to express dominance. The males who are the most dominant obtain the best territory and can pick from a large number of females.

What makes the red lechwe so fascinating?

• The red lechwe is a semiaquatic antelope that practically lives in shallow water. With hooves designed to stand strong in soft and muddy ground, the red lechwe is extremely fast when running through water, but awkward and slow when attempting to run on land.

• When threatened, the red lechwe sprints to deeper water, leaping with its powerful hindquarters.

• Since the water acts as a safe haven for red lechwe, they migrate with the flood waters.

• The red lechwe sleeps on termite mounds during the day in order to raise itself high enough to see the surrounding territory and prevent being surprised by unwanted predators. To prevent dangerous animals from spotting them, the red lechwe lays low to the ground while it sleeps.

• Most red lechwe herds consist of 20 – 30 members, but can reach into the hundreds.

• Red lechwe feed on grass and aquatic vegetation during the night and can be observed searching for food shoulder deep in the water. Many times the red lechwe will travel a number of miles to find food.

• The Okavango Delta is the most populated area with red lechwe, with an estimated 30,000 inhabiting the area.

Explore the vast region of the Okavango Delta in Botswana on a Botswana honeymoon safari or family safari. Famous for its profound game population, the Okavango Delta is one of Africa’s best places to enjoy African safari tours. Let Hills of Africa Travel create a personalized itinerary for you, tailored around your every preference. Contact us today at (877) 845-4802. We’re looking forward to making your dreams come true . . .


Witness Endangered Species in Their Natural Habitat on an African Safari Tour

cheetah yawningRwandaGorillas_ARivest12

Did you know nearly 20% of mammal species currently are endangered or threatened? Several factors have contributed to the decreasing populations of certain mammal species, including poaching and environmental factors.

With a rapid increase in endangered species in Africa, Hills of Africa Travel is dedicated to the conservation of these decreasing populations. We work closely with African reserves, parks, lodges, hotels, camps, and eco-tourism companies committed to the conservation of wildlife in Africa.

One of our most respected eco-tourism companies is Wilderness Safaris. Devoted to saving the environment, as well as the community, Wilderness Safaris created the Wilderness Safaris Wildlife Trust, which was established 20 years ago. According to the Wilderness Wildlife Trust website, the Trust “has supported a wide variety of wildlife management, research and education projects in southern Africa. These projects address the needs of existing wildlife populations, seek solutions to save endangered species, and provide education and training for local people and their communities.”

Some of the Wilderness Safaris’ ongoing and upcoming projects include: the Hwange Anti-Poaching Project, Botswana Rhino Ecology Project, Makuleke Large Mammal Reintroduction Project, and many other projects with similar causes.

Observing the endangered species of Africa in their natural environment on African safari tours is one of the most rewarding and rare experiences one could have because years from now, these creatures may be vanished from the earth forever.

Some endangered species in Africa include:

• The African Wild Ass: These gorgeous creatures are critically endangered largely because of habitat loss and hunting. They greatly resemble their relatives, the zebra and the horse.

• The African Wild Dog: The African wild dog population has dramatically decreased, primarily because they are shot by farmers. African wild dogs are killed because they are known to frequently feed on livestock. It is now illegal to kill an African wild dog.

• The Black Rhinoceros: Killed primarily by poachers for their horns, the black rhinoceros is critically endangered. Horns are frequently sold in the black market for more than $20,000 each!

• The Bonobo (Pygmy Chimpanzee): The bonobo is slightly smaller than the chimpanzee and can be found in the tropical and subtropical Central African forests. The main threats to their existence include habitat loss and hunting.

• The Cheetah: This creature, found in Sub-Saharan Africa, is the world’s fastest land animal and can run more than 60 mph. High infant mortality, decreased food sources, and habitat loss are large factors that have caused this species to be endangered.

• The Gorilla: Famous for being the largest primate, the gorilla is often killed for bush meat trade and trophy poaching. The gorilla’s habitat is also steadily decreasing from forest clearing. These stunning creatures can be seen on an African family safari or honeymoon safari in the hills of Uganda and Rwanda.

• The Mountain Zebra: Threatened by hunting and habitat loss, the mountain zebra is one of South Africa’s most endangered species. The few mountain zebras left can be found on mountainous slopes and plateaus, feeding on grass, bark, fruit, and leaves.

• Pygmy Hippopotamus: Found in the marshlands and forests of West Africa, the pygmy hippo is smaller than other species of hippo and lives mostly on land—unlike their hippo relatives who spend much of their time in the water. They are endangered due to hunting and habitat loss.

It’s a rare treat to witness these endangered species, as well as other endangered species on an African family safari or honeymoon safari. Their fate appears unfortunate, but with the support of eco-tourism companies, you can lend a hand to wildlife conservation in Africa. Let Hills of Africa Travel create for you a customized itinerary around your every preference, and experience the sheer magic of Africa. Contact us today at (877) 845-4802.  We’re looking forward to making your dreams come true . . .