What do you pack for an adventure tour deep into the heart of Africa? When one day you’ll be traversing majestic wildlife sanctuaries and the next you could be quad-biking, skydiving, coming face-to-face with Africa’s big 5, or scampering up legendary desert dunes and sand-boarding off? The answer is: Not much
With Africa4us, you’re travelling in Africa’s most comfortable premium overland safari vehicle, and you’re either staying with trusted accommodation providers, or enjoying blissful camping – serviced and catered by us – so there’s really not much to worry about. What you pack depends more on your comfort level than pure necessities.
Here are our recommendations on what to bring on your African Overland Adventure Tour.
For Accommodated and Serviced Camping Tours
Your premium overland safari vehicle is equipped with your own lockable storage space next to your seat, a personal safe, dual USB charging station, dedicated air-conditioning nozzle – and of course your spacious, reclining seat. For the duration of your travels, you will be comfortable and looked after. When you step outside your comfort zone, into Africa, you might need some essentials.
What you need to pack:
– Sun protection – Don’t underestimate the African sun. Pack your wide-brim hat and sunscreen.
– Mosquito repellent – They might not be dangerous, but they’re annoying
– Cash – We invite you to support the local restaurants and businesses where you can.
See all our Accommodated tours here.
For Serviced Camping Tours
We’re very excited to introduce our all-new Serviced Camping in 2019. Serviced Camping means that you get to enjoy all the benefits of an African camping adventure, with none of the work! Your adventure crew takes care of all of the duties (setting up camp, cooking, cleaning, etc.) and you just enjoy the adventure (read more here). All you have to do is kit out your spacious dome-style tent with all the comforts you need to turn your camping into glamping!
What you need to pack:
– A sleeping bag and bedding
– Your favourite pillow – we provide the comfy mattress
– Mosquito repellent (your tent has mosquito netting on the door and windows but one can never be too careful)
Read more about our Serviced Camping Tours here.
For Ultimate Self Drive Adventure Tours
Although your all-terrain Polaris UTV (Utility Terrain Vehicle) is fitted with a windscreen, roof and other necessities, things might still get a little dirty and dusty. Your adventure crew will provide you with dust goggles and covers to wear around your face but things like wet wipes and towels will also come in handy.
What you need to pack:
– An adventurous spirit!
Read more about our Ultimate Self-Drive Adventure Tours here.
We hope to see you – with your wide-brimmed hat – on one of our tours soon! If you have any trouble deciding on a tour, our blog on this topic might help and please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.
Style – A particular procedure by which something is done in a manner or way.
When we’re talking camping styles there are several to be mentioned:
– Fly Camping
– Adventure or Overland Camping (Participation Camping)
– Classic Mobile Camping
– Serviced Camping
Even though Africa4us have been featured in the 2018 National Geographic Traveller Collection for our Adventure based Camping Tours, we have decided to embark on a new journey for 2019 and will be offering Serviced Camping to all the adventurous souls out there!
Participation Camping has been the industry standard for many years (who wants to work or have duties to do while on holiday?) and travellers were expected to assist with cooking, cleaning, setting up and taking down their own tents and other camp chores.
Serviced Camping, on the other hand, provides the traveller with a value-added service – you enjoy the experience and budget only a camping style tour can provide – but we take care of all the camp chores, so you can sit back, relax and enjoy the sunset after a long day travelling. Africa4us have added a third crew member to your team that will assist the Driver and Tour Leader with all chores covered by the crew – cooking, cleaning, pitching & packing of tents
The idea is that you will have more time to relax and enjoy the many experiences Africa has on offer, instead of having to waste time with camp chores.
When you travel with Africa4us on one of our camping tours, you can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the adventure. You do however need to bring your own sleeping bag, pillow and towel. Tents are spacious canvas dome style tents with mosquito netting on the windows and doors. We also provide you with our own uniquely designed dual density mattress for the ultimate nights rest under the African stars.
On all serviced camping tours, we make use of our Adventure Overland Safari Vehicles fitted with 20 luxury reclining seats, air-condition, fridges and 24/7 charging ability to name but a few key features. For more information about our vehicles, please visit our “Fleet” page on our website.
Come and relax while enjoying your hard earned, well deserved holiday with Africa4us!
Make one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World your playground
Bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge is one of top five adrenalin experiences on the planet and for good reason. Adrenaline junkies go crazy for that four-second free fall through a roaring, misty gorge followed by glorious minutes of swinging in the presence of one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World.
Of course, plunging into the abyss is not the only way to enjoy this spectacular world heritage site. There are many (less adrenaline-inducing) ways to experience the majestic Victoria Falls, like taking a scenic helicopter flight, white water rafting, bridge swinging, and just breathing in the spectacular view from as many angles as possible. Read more about the Victoria Falls here.
See the Okavango from an African gondola
Our guests love exploring the Okavango by means of a Mokoro – a traditional Delta dugout canoe. Sit back and relax as your African gondolier takes you into the flourishing Okavango with only the sounds of the kingfishers, frogs, and the teeming reeds around you. Not a bad way to relax after a day of African adventures. Read more here.
Take the adventure into your own hands
Africa4Us is the first company to introduce custom-built Polaris Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs) to the African continent. What does this mean for you? It means that you no longer have to be the idle passenger of your African adventure. You get to drive your own all-terrain 4×4 vehicle through the rivers, dust, rocky terrains and mountains of Namibia. Does this sound like your kind of Ultimate Adventure Tour? Then you should read our blog to find out more.
Have real, authentic African cultural experiences
Authentic interactions with the local people is a big priority for our guests. The good news is that you’ll be able to enjoy this highlight in various forms on all of our tours. Whether it be dancing with the San (Bushmen), getting your travel aches and pains relieved by a Sangoma (an African traditional healer) or just making the rounds at the local curio shops, you’ll be sure to take something special home from the heart of Mother Africa. And if you want to know more about any location, its history or any particular culture, feel free to strike up a conversation with your Africa4Us crew. All of our crew members are highly knowledgeable and extremely passionate about Africa.
A laid-back approach to wildlife viewing
There is no doubt that you’ll be seeing plenty of animals on your African Overland Adventure Tour but there is something very special about seeing these animals from the water. A slow boat cruise down the Chobe river not only makes for a very relaxed wildlife viewing opportunity, but it also offers a unique perspective.
Wild animals come to the river to drink, bathe, play and sometimes even to pray on others. You’ll see creatures and behaviours that you don’t often see on land or even at watering holes – and the best part is, you don’t have to endure a bumpy ride to experience it. You can just sip your favourite cocktail as the boat cruises into the sunset. Now isn’t that the way to end off a day in Africa?
We hope that this list of highlights will help you decide which path to choose for your African Overland Tour. Herewith another 5 best-hidden gems to visit while you visit in Africa. And if you’re still unsure, just remember that with Africa4Us, all paths lead to adventure. Give us a call (+27 21 200 5766) and we’ll help you choose the right adventure for you.
- Adventure Tours, Africa, Bucket List, Namibia
- Adventure Tour, Namib Desert, Namibia, Polaris UTV, Self Drive Tours, UAT Tours, Ultimate Adventure Tours, Wildlife Tours
Nothing screams adventure more than the Polaris Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs) that Africa4us has introduced on their “Ultimate Adventure Tours”. As the name suggests – virtually no terrain is off limits to these new 4×4 beasts – and with their power and agility, exploring the landscapes of Namibia has never been more exhilarating.
Once you strap yourself into the seats of these all-terrain vehicles water and mud become your friends. Go off the beaten track to scale the peaks of mountains looking for wildlife, or plunge into muddy valleys and shallow rivers to get a fresh perspective on the environment surrounding you. The variety of terrains found in this daring landscape, combined with the fact that Africa4Us is the first tour company to introduce these UTVs to this special spot in Africa, means that you’re in for the ride of a lifetime, and the best part is: you’re in control – we’re merely here to guide you.
Whether you want to do game viewing, a sunset drive for a couple of hours or you want to do an overnight trip to have the full experience of what the UTVs can do, our team of professional guides will be right there to show you the way and to make sure that you’re as comfortable as you can be while still preserving the adventurous feeling one has on a 4×4 Ultimate Adventure Tour. This means all safety gear, drinks, snacks and a comfy spot to sleep if you’re doing an overnight trip.
Your professional local guide will lead the way, but all of our tours are self-drive, so you have all the control in your hands and you’re free to rip up the soil however you want, leaving your stresses and worries behind in the dust.
We have tours to suit every party. Whether you’re a group of friends, a family or you’re flying solo and looking for an interesting way to meet other bold-hearted adventure seekers – we’ve got a tour for you.
If you’re looking for a beautiful sunset tour with stunning scenery and bushmen paintings on the way, our 2-hour Brandberg Sunset Drive is for you (link). If you prefer something a bit more extensive, you will enjoy our 4 hour White Lady Drive (link). You’ll still be able to see the bushman paintings but this route takes you over various terrains so you can put your wheels to the test.
Alternatively, if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous and you’re ready to get wet, why not try the Ugab River Nature Drive (link)? Make your way through swamps and river beds to get to the open savannah landscape where Springbok, Zebra, Steenbok, Oryx, Ostrich, Cheetah and even Elephants roam.
And finally, for those who want to take their Ultimate Adventure Tour to the next level, there’s the Overnight Trip (link). Be amongst the first people ever to do this trip in Africa. You’ll have two days to explore the Brandberg area with all its natural splendour and its truly wild game. Set up camp next to the river and enjoy a night under the stars in a spot where no ordinary tour vehicles can go.
The only thing left to ask is: Are you ready to get down and dirty with Africa? If you are, get in touch at email@example.com or book your tour through our website here www.Africa4us.com.
South African Cuisine has many influences from Europe and Asia dating back to its colonialism times. You will most likely find that their meat is some of the best you have possibly ever tasted, as well, as finding some very different meats such as Ostrich and Kudu. Something to definitely try on your trip is Biltong, simply put Dried meat. Which has been marinated for a lengthy period of time, then spiced and hung up to dry, you may actually think this sounds horrible, but believe me it is extremely tasty! On your travels we also suggest trying not only some of the best restaurants in Johannesburg and Cape Town, but also some street food and local delacacies.
The 20 days South Africa Explored tour as well as our 13 Days Best of South Africa, has been specifically designed by our tour guides/experts to include the most spectacular locations in the country. You will travel around three different countries, South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho, stopping at the most magnificent spots along the way. Sit back and relax, let us take you on a magical adventure through these three beautiful countries, and on the track less travelled!
We have included some of the best activities to do while on your South African exploration, from Safari’s to Penguins, we have covered them all. Please also note that some activities are optional, and are not included in the tour price as per Itinerary. Some of our favourites to mention are:
- Boulders Beach
- Boat cruise in St.Lucia
- Game Drives in Addo Elephant National Park
- Diaz Museum
- Wine tasting
- Cape of Good hope
Take the leap and book your South African Adventure with Africa4us, and let us make your adventure become a reality!
Matopos National Park also known by the locals as Matobo National Park is located in the South of Zimbabwe and was established in 1953. The Park spans an area of 44 500 hectares and over the years become an intensive protection zone for endangered black and white rhino’s and In 2003 the park was awarded World Heritage Status.
The park is located a mere 34 km’s from the charming town of Bulawayo, which will be your home for two nights. In 2019, Matopos National Park will be one of the stops on a variety of Adventure tours with Africa4Us, and we couldn’t think of a better way to explore the fantastic Zimbabwe gem, that is Matobo National Park than with a full day Matopos Safari!
You will be collected from your hotel in the early morning, ready to set out on your day of safari, so have your camera fully charged and the sunscreen packed! The main road to Maleme dam is tarred while other park roads are gravel (mostly in good condition), along the way you will notice the most unique rock formations ever seen. The Park is famous for one formation specifically, which is known as the “Mother and Child”.
Your experienced guide is extremely knowledgeable on the local fauna, birds and of course, the wildlife, soak up and take in all that you can! You may have the opportunity to Walk with Rhinos, a very popular activity not only with International tourists but locals too! Speaking of which, I was lucky enough to experience this first hand, and what an unforgettable moment!
The park is home to a variety of animals such as Hippo, Rhino, Antelope, Zebra, Leopard and one of the highest concentrations of a black eagle in the world. View the final resting place of Cecil John Rhodes, and experience the 360-degree views while “on-top” of Worlds’ view! With so much to offer our guests, we definitely had to include this Majestic National Park on our trips!
Take in the rural beauty and the Swazi culture with a trip to Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, located in Swaziland. The Ezulwini Valley also known as Valley of Heaven is where you will find the gem that is Mlilwane, Swaziland’s oldest protected area.
The Sanctuary was originally a 450-hectare family farm which was turned into a sanctuary after witnessing the decline of the area’s wildlife by Ted and Liz Reilly. The Reilly’s planted indigenous trees created a wetland and restocked the area with wildlife. Mlilwane Sanctuary is now under a non-profit Trust after being donated by the Reilly family and has seen significant growth in its original size due to the endless support by International travellers and donations.
Mlilwane Beehive Village is within the nature reserve and offers traditional Swazi experiences. Stay in a grass dome-shaped hut that has been built with traditional Swazi reed fencing. Bear in mind, this accommodation style is not luxurious, but definitely comfortable with en-suite bathrooms!
Spanning over 4,500 hectares there is an array of activities for you to participate in, and here are a few of our favourites:
- Mountain Biking – you can hire by the hour, and are welcome to either do your own self-guided or guided tours. Whether you are an avid cyclist or looking to explore the sanctuary on the bike, there are a variety of trails to suit your activity level.
- Horse Riding – the Chubeka Trails (northern section) is the main area you will explore while on horseback. The sanctuary has a variety of horse to suit your skill set (riding skills).
- Self-Guided Walking Trails – with 9 interlocked trails covering over 20 km, and vary in length and difficulty.
- Adventure Tours, Africa, Namibia, Overland Tour
- Adventure Tour, Namib Desert, Namibia, Safari, Wildlife Tours
Namibia is situated in the southwest of Africa and is known for the Namib Desert cascading along its Atlantic Ocean Coast. Namibia as its neighbours is home to diverse wildlife including its cheetah population. Our 10 Days Namibia Explored tour starts and ends in Namibia’s capital – Windhoek, which has high German colonial-era buildings and architecture such as Christ Church, which was built in 1907. You will have the opportunity to explore this unique city, on Day 1 of your tour (we suggest a pre and post night), walk along the streets, meet the locals and even try some local cuisine. Walk around the markets and purchase some unique Namibian artwork or gifts.
Namibia however, hosts a variety of different ethnic groups; and therefore one particular dish cannot be singled out.
Here are a few, which you may also find in other countries around Africa:
- Potjie Kos – basically this dish is prepared and cooked in a large, black three-legged cast iron pot which has been placed over an open fire.
- Braaivleis – also known as a ‘barbeque’.
- Boerewors – South African influence, and is also known as a beef sausage.
- Biltong – Dried meat, that has been marinated for days and then spiced.
- Mopane worms – Caterpillars which are fried to get a crispy coating.
- Kapana – this is more of a local street snack and sold in Namibia’s townships.
- Tripe – also known as offal (Stomachs).
Etosha National Park is one of our favourite locations in Namibia, with their salt pan drawing game including rhinos and giraffes, you are bound to get some great photos! If you are an avid photographer, and looking for your next National Geographic photo, then Namibia is one of the places to visit!
Visit the famous White Lady Bushmen Painting in Brandberg. You will have the option of a self-drive guided tour, in one of our Polaris Utility Terrain Vehicles. Soak in the scenery along the riverbed with multicoloured rocks that take on a variety of shades of flaming orange in the late afternoon. Once you have arrived at your destination, the chance of you seeing the famous desert elephant are high, as they can often be seen wandering on the premises.
Namibia has so much to offer, and what a fabulous way to experience this country, and getting to know a variety of people from different backgrounds!
We look forward to seeing you on your next African Adventure!
Written by: Daina Walters
Situated in the north-west of Botswana the delta comprises of marshlands and seasonally flooded plains, this is one of the major wetlands that is almost intact. The delta is home to some of the world’s most endangered species of large mammal such as:
- White & Black Rhino
- African Wild dog
At the centre of the delta is Chief’s Island, the largest island in the delta, once reserved as a hunting area for the chief it is home to a vast number of wildlife. Experience how the locals travel around the delta in a Mokoro, also known as canoe. The Mokoro is a common type of canoe traditionally made from the dug out trunks of trees. Sit back and enjoy the tranquillity while the oarsman will be situated behind you pushing it with only a pole, similar those in venice.
As sustainable tourism is on the increase, the Mokoro’s are now made out of Fibreglass, and have kept the same shape as they would have had, had they been made out of trees. The Mokoro is designed to fit two people and is the perfect option to get deeper into the delta where Game drive vehicles can not explore. You may find you will feel closer at nature while on your excursion, as you will see varies reptiles, and water life.
As you glide along the delta, you may come across Elephant herds, buck and other wildlife that have decided to have a drink from the delta. Don’t forget to spot for the Hippos and crocodiles, need worry though, your experienced guide knows exactly how to operate your Mokoro and the distance to keep from these majestic mammals. You safety is their highest concern while on this breath-takingly beautiful experience.
How do I experience this you ask?
You can view our Okavango Delta and Zimbabwe tour here: Accommodated – 8 Days Okavango Delta and Victoria Falls. Camping – 8 Days Okavango Delta and Victoria Falls Serviced Camping
See you soon!
Written by: Daina Walters
Africa4us has been featured in the National Geographic Traveller – Africa Collection for 2018, the collection offers a variety of Accommodation, Tour Operators and Spas who can provide you with a great African experience.
Our tour Packages are multi-country. Travel from Cape Town to Victoria Falls, with stops in Namibia and Botswana, along the way you will have many opportunities to experience their culture, vast landscapes, local cuisine and activities. If you are more of the chill back and relax type, you can sip on a cocktail and watch the sunsets if that pleases you!
Africa4us has handpicked some of the best locations in the Southern hemisphere, from the Hustle and bustle of the City in Cape Town, the incredible Mokoro rides in the Okavango Delta, the Namib desert and their vast Landscapes to one of the seven wonders of the world the mighty Victoria Falls.
If you are an avid foodie and interested in learning about the different delicacies in Africa, then we recommend joining us for a trip of a lifetime. Explore the markets in Cape Town, Namibia and Victoria Falls, chat to the locals and try their local cuisine, from Tripe and Mopane worms to Pluck (Heart, lungs etc). You will find every destination has their own way of preparing these variety of weird snacks, we do recommend trying at least one if not all while on your trip with us.
Are you also an adrenaline junkie? Along the way, you will find some great activities to participate in such as our own offering of Adventure Vehicles (applicable to certain tours only).
How the wild African environment taught us how to build the the continent’s first-ever luxury safari vehicles
Here’s something most people don’t think about on their daily commute: cars in different countries have subtle differences to cater for different environments. Here’s an example – in much of the northern continental United States, you can buy a car with a heated steering wheel. We think that’s very cool, but if you’re in South Africa, we wish you luck trying to find a car equipped with one of those. It’s just one of the ways that local environment informs design, and the harsher the environment, the more design elements you have to think of to compensate for it.
Enter Africa – our wonderful, beautiful home, but also a place that’s prone to extreme heat and patchy infrastructure. Since starting our tour business 19 years ago, Africa has taught us many things, including how to design the first Premium Overland Safari Vehicle on the continent. Here, we’re going to share with you some of the most important ways that the African landscape and climate has shaped our safari vehicles’ design.
#1: Africa is hot. Like, really hot.
Driving through Kalahari Desert in the middle of summer is an interesting experience. It’s so hot and so dry that you can feel your mouth become dry just holding a conversation. So you can imagine that air conditioning was a top priority, but it wouldn’t be a premium safari if it was just air conditioning. Our vehicles come equipped with individual adjustable airflow nozzles for each seat, so you can control the air conditioning, and all the vehicles have its own built-in fridges so your favourite frosty beverage is always cold. It being Africa, the air conditioning can struggle a little at times, and our vehicles come prepared with a fresh air blower in case the A/C breaks down (not that it does, but it doesn’t hurt to be safe).
#2: The most reliable source of power is the sun.
Let’s face it, African countries are not known for their reliable electrical grids. This poses a problem for the modern traveller who lives off their mobile devices. Luckily, we do have one power source that’s pretty ubiquitous – the sun! Each of our luxury safari vehicles comes equipped with solar panels on the roof to help power the individual USB charging station built into each USS (Ultimate Safari Seat). After all, it wouldn’t be a premium tour if you didn’t have Instagram ready to go when you needed it (which on Africa4Us tours is a lot).
#3: Some of the roads haven’t been repaired in a little while…
Unfortunately in many parts of Africa maintaining roads and other infrastructure is not at the top of local government to-do lists, so, when we say we’re taking you off the beaten path, we mean it. Depending on the country, many of the roads we travel down are peppered with potholes, or are rocky dirt roads, or sometimes even a combination of both. It’s one of the reasons why our safari vehicles are custom-built and have surpassed all the rigorous safety tests we’ve put them through. All our vehicles have passed the stringent SABS ‘roll-over’ and ‘break-over’ tests. They also undergo roadworthy tests every 6 months and get fully serviced every 10,000 km. The result is a safe, comfortable ride through some of the wildest places in the world.
We appreciate all the lessons we’ve learned, and all the lessons we keep learning exploring Africa with you, but the lesson that we’re proudest of is the humility in the face of nature that the African continent has taught us – and that if you take nothing for granted, you can also plan for it.
We hope you’ll be joining us for a premium adventure soon!
When Africa4us uses the word ‘Premium’ they mean it, in every sense of the word, whether you choose an accommodated overland tour or a camping overland adventure, the emphasis is on sheer comfort and style!
Travellers have a selection of full package tours that can last up to 39 days, taking you from Southern Africa right up into East Africa with unforgettable experiences every step of the way, or, the option combining tours (Combo Tours) to add a few more destinations to your original package!
One example of this is that should travelers select a 14 day tour of South Africa for instance, there is the option of combining this tour, which would take you either from Cape Town to Windhoek, Namibia, or from Windhoek to Cape Town, and add a 21 day adventure tour that will add an exciting journey from Windhoek (or the other way around from Cape Town, depending on your starting point) to Victoria Falls and Zambia!
An overland adventure like this with Africa4us will take you from the vibrancy of Cape Town, to the shifting red sands of the Namibian desert, across to the Okavango Delta, rich with teeming wildlife, and from there, across to the breath-taking world of thundering falls and rain forests of the Victoria Falls!
An Africa4us East African Northbound Overland Adventure will take you on experiences like game drives in South Luangwa, meeting the locals at villages in Malawi, taking the ferry to Zanzibar to take a legendary Spice Tour in vibrant surroundings filled with the colours and sounds of spice traders who have passed their knowledge of spices down through generations!
An East African overland adventure like this, laid on by the passionate team from Africa4us will also include game drives in 4×4 Safari Vehicles in the Serengeti and down into the Ngorongoro Crater – to miss the magic of the wildlife and beauty that comes with every Africa4us overland tour package is an experience that everyone should be entitled to at least once in a lifetime!
The Africa4us crew that takes you on any package tour across this continent they love are truly the best kind of guides anyone could hope for; they know exactly where to find the best of everything, whether it is the perfect view of wildlife (it is worth noting here that no crew can beat the Africa4us team where it comes to spotting wildlife hidden to ‘ordinary’ human eyes!), to the most spectacular views and very best accommodation or camping sites – even the places they choose along the way to set up lunch in the middle of nowhere always carry a sense of the magical!
Once you decided on your Africa4us overland tour package you can rely on this organised, friendly and passionate team to ensure that you know exactly what you need to pack, how to organise the money you need to bring along for the extra’s you are definitely going to be adding to the luggage you take back home and so much more; they really leave nothing to chance!
If being packed like sardines into a tour bus that rushes you from one destination to another as fast as possible sends shivers down your spine, then any Africa4us African adventure tour package that sends your imagination wild will be right up your alley for an adventure that is incomparable and unrivalled by any other African tour company you could possibly choose!
The only decision left to make is which of the tour packages will echo your dream of an overland African adventure, and then to prepare to head out for an other-worldly experience with Africa4us!
There is no doubt about it, Namibia, full of stark contrasts, endless blue skies, dramatic scenery and sand dunes that go on forever, is still one of the most breathtakingly beautiful countries in Africa, and one of the biggest!
If you have never been to this land of contrasts and heat, you can be forgiven for thinking that none of the largest mammals and carnivores could possibly have found their own ways of adapting to this unforgiving environment, but they have!
The majestically beautiful Oryx is one example of an animal that is highly adapted to this harsh terrain, surviving in an environment where most other antelope would quickly perish. They have learned to retain enough water from their diet to survive, conserving enough water to withstand the extreme heat as well as a body temperature that can climb to 40 degrees, in order to cool the blood that flows to its brain! Sheer natural genius!
Oryx will rest in the shade of a tree during the hottest part of the day, or, if no tree is available, will turn their bodies so that most of their body surface faces away from the sun, in addition to this, their very clever colouring acts as a natural heat deflector.
Desert Rhino’s are lone rangers, with a horn that is slightly longer and thinner than the regular Namibian black rhino, which helps them to forage in this barren environment. They are also mostly nocturnal in order to avoid the excessively high daytime temperatures. These Rhino’s are experts at crossing this massive desert area, and generally have home ranges of about 500 square km’s!
As loners, the only time you will find a desert Rhino that is not alone will be during the two and a half years a mother rhino will stay with her calf in order to teach her baby how to survive in these tough conditions!
If you are lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a desert black rhino against the rich red backdrops of the desert sands, it is an image you will carry for the rest of your life of sheer majesty! Although becoming near extinct by the 1980’s, the hard work of organisations such as Save the Rhino Trust and others have helped to increase the population of these national treasures five times over!
The differences between the African Elephant and the Namibian Desert Elephant are obvious in the size of their feet, which are larger to make it easier for them to move with ease across the soft desert sand, after all, having to travel up to 200km’s to find water would be very difficult with dainty feet carrying such immense weight in soft sand!
Namibian desert elephants are also leaner and taller than the African Elephant due to their diet, with slightly longer trunks which allow them to dig down into the sand to find underground water. While the elephants in Etosha drink up to 200 litres of water a day, the Namibian desert elephants in the north only drink water every three to four days, and because there are fewer plant species that could be a source of nourishment, the tusks of the Namibian desert elephant are more brittle.
Although genetically the same as the lions in Kenya, Namibian desert lions have adapted to survive conditions their African cousins never would! They need very little water, absorbing most of it from the prey they consume, an incredible adaptation for the king of all animals!
Namibian desert lions live on a diet of Oryx, Wildebeest, Zebras, Giraffes and Ostriches, and when food is really scarce; they have been known to attack elephants. Desert lions will travel great distances in search of prey, and surprisingly for a hot climate, have thicker coats than their cousins in order to deal with the cold night temperatures.
Namibia has gained international recognition for its conservation efforts in every species once considered endangered, especially in this country’s arid areas. When an intensive research project on desert lions in Namibia was started in 1998, there were just twenty desert lions in the entire area, today, that number is closer to 150!
These beautifully adapted lions, elephants, rhinos and Oryx are the more visible aspects of the wildlife that makes a Namibian adventure truly spectacular, but under all this harsh, barren land that stretches as far as the eye can see, there is another world of small animals and insects who are equal masters of adaptation, as above, so below the desert sands of Namibia!
Take a 21st century overland tour for a face to face encounter with these ancient magicians of the Namibian desert in luxury and comfort with Africa4us, and experience it all with passionate local guides who have lived these experiences for over seventeen years and can spot a desert lion through eyes that are as good as those of an eagle!
The name ‘Big Five’ originated from a sad time in Africa’s history, so called due to the difficulty of tracking down lions, elephant, leopards, rhino’s and African buffaloes, which made them rich pickings for trophy hunters! Today, thankfully, these masters of wildlife in Africa are now protected, and the only time any lens draws a bead on them, it is to capture their awesome beauty through a camera lens!
The Okavango Delta is home to all five, a natural habitat rich enough to support the Big Five in style at the end of the Okavango River, born a thousand miles away in Angola. The Okavango River originates in Angola as the Cubango River, the fourth longest river on the African continent, wends its way through Namibia, and on its desperate journey to reach the ocean gets caught up in the grasslands and swamps of the Okavango Delta, creating heaven on earth for thousands of mammals, birds and fish!
The lives of the Big Five in Botswana:
The African Buffalo
Don’t even think about trying to corner this very dangerous and unpredictable monster that can weigh in at a massive 700kg, there will be very little left of you! Leave them alone and you will not fall prey to their sometimes sneaky attempts at ambushing man, keeping clear is the best way to enjoy the general placidness of this awesome mammal! Lion’s unfortunately love Buffalo meat, but, they also run the risk of being killed by a Buffalo in revenge for stealing one of their own!
Having been hunted to near extinction, the Rhino Trust and many other organisations involved in saving these primitive-looking mammals, have brought the population of just a few thousand in the early 1990’s to double its population since then as a result of very strategic interventions. It is a profound experience to view one of these historic mammals thriving in areas such as the Okavango Delta, and one not to be missed!
Their hearing and sense of smell is exceptional, even if their vision is poor enough to lead them into attacking the odd tree or rock by mistake! If you haven’t brought enough sun block with you, you can always try the Rhino way – soak in mud for a couple of hours and the sun beating down on you along with little flying monsters will find it difficult to get through!
Powerful enough to carry even a young giraffe high into the tree tops, seeing a leopard lounging around on trees completely at ease with the world around them is a way of life for these graceful, sleek creatures. This way they also get to protect their prey from greedy hyenas or lions that show a keen interest in their meal, and being the strongest climber among the big cat species, this ensures that a leopard never has to share his meal!
Spotting a leopard can be tough, they are solitary nocturnal creatures who tend to avoid the heat of the day, which makes them the hardest of the Big Five to spot, but when you do, it is an unforgettable experience! Believe it or not, Leopards are the only member of the cat family that can lay claim to being a superb swimmer!
With a muscular trunk that serves as a hand, nose, extra foot, tool for gathering food and a signalling device, the African elephant is by far the largest living land mammal, and at around 6 tons in weight, the biggest can easily reach up to over 3 metres in height! African elephants are able to communicate across vast distances of up to 5 miles, at a frequency so low that human ears are unable to pick up a sound. The African elephant is another of the Big Five facing dwindling numbers due to poaching and trophy killing – once you have seen one up close, imagine facing a world where within ten years you will not be able to show your small children or grandchildren what a ‘real’ elephant looks like? A hard thought to bear when you look into those intelligent eyes!
Living together in prides, African lions are the most social of all the big cats in Africa, and these prides can number up to 15 lions living in organised social groups. Part of this organised society means that when there has been a kill, the male lions get to eat first, although it is the females who do the hunting, it is their reward for protecting the territory of the pride while the females are out hunting! Generally, the darker a lion’s mane is, the older he is, and there is nowhere else in the world that you will find a lion, Africa is the home continent to all lions in our world!
Anyone coming to Africa or living in Africa owes everything they can do to make sure that theirs is more than just a footnote in history, leave a mark on your African adventure by getting involved, no matter how small a contribution it may be, in saving our beautiful African Big Five for future generations to enjoy in spectacular natural surroundings!
Legends are made to be explored, and if anyone is able to show you how to explore some of the oldest legends in Africa then it is the Africa4us crew. It really is quite an experience to spend time with this crew and share their deep and abiding love for all that is Africa, from the rich forests and endless savannahs of Eastern Africa to the red and gold of the Namibian Desert!
The Namibia Explorer, Delta, Falls and Kruger Premium Accommodated Adventure Tour with Africa4 us will bring you to the Brandberg Mountains on your way from coastal Swakopmund to Xhorixas, a mountain range which is home to over 50, 000 pieces of rock art, among which is the most famous of all, the White Lady, which is believed to be 2 000 years old.
When the crew of Africa4us tell you to take lots of water, believe them, because after the cool ocean breeze, the heat in the ‘Burning Mountain’ or Brandberg, so called for the glowing colours reflected during sunsets, is intense. Just the hour long hike to the White Lady is worthwhile in itself; the dung of desert elephants recently passed, depending on the time of day or perhaps a leopard footprint, in the silence between the blue sky and red earth leaves you in no doubt that you are definitely in Africa.
The White Lady was discovered in 1917 by a German topographer, but whether it is a lady or not has been a debatable point, depending on whom you talk to. The White Lady sits in the centre of rock paintings of animals which were used in shamanic rituals, which is why it is generally believed that ‘she’ is a ‘he’, in addition to the fact that there is evidence of phallus decorations along with a bow and arrows. Another give away to the belief that the White Lady was in actual fact a shaman is the antelope-tail fly whisks, knee and arm straps along with dancing rattles used during ritual dances.
The site which White Lady calls home in the Brandberg at this highest point above sea level in Namibia is believed to have been used for rituals, which is evident in the specific animals depicted as having supernatural powers. The Africa4us crew will drop you at the start of the hike to White Lady where your local Damara guide will take over, this is also a treat you can look forward to, these guides know this area like the back of their hand, and while you huff and puff away under the Namibian sun, he or she will be walking and talking as if it was a walk in the park!
One thing you can be sure of, at the end of this adventure into the legend of the White Lady, you will be ready to strip off and dive into the pool once you get to your accommodation!
There are many reasons that millions of tourists make Kenya one of their top African destinations, among which is that Kenya is a melting pot of activities, destinations and culture which invites all visitors to throw all cares to the wind and join in the fun and adventure around every corner in this beautiful country.
From wildlife safaris which are proof positive that Kenya is home to some of the most accessible game viewing in the world, and yes, home to the entire Big Five family, elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard and rhino. The many game reserves and national parks spread throughout Kenya are also home to other wildlife which is unique to this area alone!
From wildlife safaris to hot air ballooning and scuba diving, you will never be short of exciting adventures as you explore this culturally diverse country. The wildebeest migration in Maasai Mara is considered one of the natural wonders of the world, but this is not the only interesting and exciting place of interest to visit in Kenya.
Mount Kenya is another of the natural wonders in Kenya, second highest only to Mount Kilimanjaro, but whether you choose to laze or swim in the warm tropical waters of the magnificent sandy beaches along the coast or explore the wide open spaces of the savannahs, undisturbed forests and deserts further inland, you will be surrounded by untouched beauty no matter where you go in Kenya.
Being on the equator you can be sure that there will be no extreme seasonal changes in the wonderful tropical climate Kenya offers, which means that all the activities, from wildlife safaris to beaches are available all year round.
Kenya’s beer is legendary, to the extent that Kenyan breweries are planning to export this national drink to the rest of the world, and if you want a truly great coffee, you will find it in Kenya! Because of the wide diversity of tribes in Kenya, the ethnic cuisine off the beaten track in Kenya is far more interesting if you are a true adventurer than the standard up market restaurants in Kenya.
Despite the diverse culture and heritage for which Kenya is renowned, there is a great sense of peace, acceptance and closeness among the thirteen major ethic groups and the twenty-seven minor groups, which makes the Kenyan people amongst the warmest, friendliest and most hospitable in Africa. Spending time with the unique Maasai is also a must if you are visiting Kenya!
What defines the approach of the Kenyans towards life is the Harambee culture, which means ‘to pull together’ which is Bantu in origin, meaning that the various cultures believe in and practice a sense of mutual responsibility, effort and assistance, no one is left out for being of a different culture in Kenya!
If you are really determined to make the most of everything that makes Kenya such a melting pot of cultures, then you have got to try the ‘real’ Kenyan food, which ranges from Ugali, which is a cake made from millet or maze flour, with meat or vegetables as accompaniments, or the Nayama Choma, which is one of the most popular dishes in Kenya, prepared by roasting beef or mutton over fire and served with veggies or Ugali, perfect food made by those who know how to do it best!
Exotic names like Sukima Wiki, a stew prepared from leafy green veggies and served with a variety of other dishes such as Kachumbari, Ugali and Nayama Choma are all just the tip of the iceberg where it comes to the incredible, mouth-watering dishes Kenyans have been passing down from generation to generation! Be prepared to set aside any ideas about knives and forks, digging in with hands and fingers is generally the very best way of enjoying traditional Kenyan cuisine!
If anyone knows about the finger licking pleasure of Kenyan food, then it is the Africa4us crew, who have made good friends with the locals who will treat you like family and feed you like royalty!
If you decide to do the epic Africa4us East meets South Premium Accommodated Adventure Tour your itinerary will definitely include Kenya, along with Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana and South Africa, so book your seat for the overland safari of a lifetime!
Join Africa4us on this first edition about the cultures and traditions that form the core of Africa.
The myriad of African cultures and traditions are as vast as the continent itself, from Cape Town to Zanzibar, but there is a common denominator found nowhere else in the world, and that is the hospitality of every culture you will come across as you tour Africa overland. There is no better way to come into such close contact with this variety of cultures and traditions than to do it overland with a crew like Africa4us who are themselves passionate Africans wanting to share this hospitality with the world. In this edition the focus will be on Namibia and Zanzibar, as different as the moon is to the sun!
Out of the original seven Owambo clans in Nambia only three still exist and still recognise their kings, and are ruled by chiefs-in-council. The rest of the clans have a system in which senior headmen form a council and administer their tribes by joint action, most important of which is the system of land ownership. Owambo houses are traditionally of the rondavel type, surrounded by ingenious fences found nowhere else, with cattle and goat kraals normally forming part of the complex.
Trading definitely runs in the Owambo’s blood, proof of which is that after generations of having extracted the oil from the Marula tree to use as a taste enhancer for chicken and other traditional dishes, and as a moisturiser for their skins, the result is that Marula oil is now being processed and exported as a high-value ingredient for international cosmetics! Owambo women are well known for their elaborate hairstyles, differing from tribe to tribe, which is achieved by rubbing a mixture of fat and olukula (crushed root of wild teak) and lengthening it with strands of sinew and leaf fibres, with Cowrie shells attached to the ends of these strands.
Pots, quilts and beautiful beadwork all form part of the trading instinct and talent of the Owambo’s of Namibia, who are still the largest ethnic group in Namibia.
Moving right across Africa to the island of Zanzibar in Kenya, we find a melting pot like few others where it comes to culture and traditions, with influences which range from a predominance of the Bantu tribes from the mainland and the Arab influence on Zanzibar which is evident in the melting pot of people.
The cultures of the people in Zanzibar are a mix of Shirazia, from Persia, Arabs, and Comorians from the Comoros islands and the predominant Bantus. Asians and Europeans are in the minority especially in the towns and cities, most of whom are either descendents or expatriates. In terms of how the locals are identified and situated on the island of Zanzibar is based on their island of origin, so that the Hadimu and Tumbatu tribes as indigenous people of Zanzibar have chosen either the north or the south as their home in order to keep their individual traditions in place.
Almost 97% of the population in Zanzibar practices the Islamic faith, which means that any tourist is required to observe and respect this island’s culture. If you are not on the beach avoid wearing clothing that would expose your knees or shoulders and wearing tight or see-through clothes.
The fragrance of spices that make your mouth water will definitely remind you that you are on the ‘Spice Island’, bringing the aromas of cocoa beans, coconuts, cinnamon and cloves right through you to make your stomach rumble! Indulging in the staple foods of Zanzibar is an experience in itself. What is considered staple food in Zanzibar includes everything from Ugali, chapatti, bread, rice, beef, chicken, goat and more, along with freshwater fish that is unforgettable, cooked and presented in ways seen nowhere else in the world!
This is the true essence of Africa, from one end of the spectrum to the other, no matter where you go, and if you are going to chose to experience the best of Africa in all its glory then do it in luxury with Africa4us!
Keep your eyes peeled on the Africa4us website for follow up blogs which will focus on the cultures and traditions of South Africa and Zimbabwe! Alternatively, just book that trip of a lifetime and never regret that you didn’t make that African adventure!
Of the many adventures that Africa4us will take you on in Africa, I am going to focus on the children, beauty, adventure and the different cultures you will come into close contact with on their Namibia Explorer, Delta, Falls and Kruger Premium Accommodated Adventure for this blog, which will take you from Windhoek, Namibia to Johannesburg, South Africa.
The reason that Namibia has been chosen is simply because any African adventure, and all the reasons that make Africa a dream destination for you are simply too diverse to go into in one blog. From Cape Town to Kenya, the children, beauty, adventure and incredible diversity of cultures is such that it would take a year or more to delve into each facet of the destinations along the Africa4us routes, which have taken the crews to the most stunning parts of Africa for sixteen years now, leaving thousands of travellers awestruck at the enormity of this continent in every sense.
Getting back to the point, we’ll start with the children of Namibia, although children throughout Africa are the essence of pure joy and are not in the least shy to share their sunshine with anyone crossing their path. I vividly recall an experience that involved our tour group, stopping at Opuwu to get as many basic supplies for the people in terms of food and school items for the children at a school which seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, between Opuwo and the traditional Himba village we would visit later in the day.
Children of every age played the simplest of games with screams of laughter at a school with no shelter from the sun and dust for a playground, yet their spirits were in no way dampened by the fact that they had little in the way of material possessions, had to walk very long distances to get to and from school, yet seemed to be doing well with the help of dedicated teachers and a headmaster who was a truly exceptional human being. There was a sense of joy among these children that simply does not exist in schools in any main centre.
The cultural mix in Namibia is vast, with the largest ethnic group being the Owambo, with the Kavango, Herero, Damara and Caprivian people also having significant populations, where children are taught the stories of their ancestors, some of which will go to school and some who will remain as part of cultures determined to maintain their rights to their ancestral lands and cultural ancestry. These are cultures who tell the time of day by the stars and the way the sun moves across the sky, who live with an order as natural as the land they inhabit.
Some of the smaller groups like the Himba in the north and the San (Bushmen) in the east remain committed to their age-old nomadic and semi-nomadic lifestyles. It is not surprising to see Himba, Damara, Owambo and other cultures walking down the main street of some Namibian towns, with the odd pig or goat thrown into the mix!
The beauty of Namibia is indisputable, every bit as much as that of East Africa is, but for entirely different reasons, which is why Africa is an explorer and adventure seeker’s paradise! Namibia is a land of contrasts and vast spaces that stretch as far as the eye can see and is considered the largest country on the African continent. There is an abundant of life beneath the surface of Namibia as well as an abundance of wildlife, which includes the Big 4 (no buffalo in Namibia!), all of whom have adapted to the arid conditions in which they live.
Any visit to Africa is an adventure, whether you choose to travel from the south to the east or north to west, and if any team of adventurers can show you the best of it all in sheer comfort, opening the culture, the wildlife and the treasures that encompass the beauty that is Africa, it is the Africa4us team. Visit their user friendly website which is visually stunning and choose the cultures, wildlife, children and beauty you would like to have an up close and personal experience with no matter where they take you in Africa! This is one decision you will never regret!
Africa is very close to the top of millions of bucket lists, and if you are ready to tick the box then Africa4us is ready to take you on the safari of a lifetime with their small group guided tours, taking you into the heart of Africa and introducing you to teeming African wildlife in their natural environment.
Africa4us has put together a list of their best places for safaris in Africa to make it a little easier for you to make your choice, whether it is a camping or accommodated adventure safari, Africa4us has made sure that there is a safari for all!
Best places for safaris in Africa:
- South Africa
Africa4us has had over 17 years worth of experience to put together the perfect list for the best places for safaris in Africa, and after millions of miles on the road across the length and breadth of Africa, you can be absolutely certain that with any African adventure safari you embark on with the passionate crews from Africa4us, you will be in for the safari of a lifetime!
Africa4us has adventure overland safaris put together in tour packages that give you a choice of safaris that last from close on a month to those that last for a week, all of which are designed to suit every budget, with accommodated and camping tours to choose from. Finding the best place for a safari in Africa is as easy as visiting the Africa4us website, picking your African adventure and making your booking with this really great team who are passionate about showing you the Africa they love!
There are an abundance of overland travel companies in Africa but choosing the right one is not always easy. You need to take into account how many years an overland company has been operating successfully, the size of the operation, experience and background of the tour guides as well as the level of comfort and safety that is offered on each tour or safari in Africa.
Africa4us has a proud record that has stood the test of time over 16 years as a successful, well organised overland travel company, offering a wide selection of overland tours and safaris that will take you to many parts of Africa that you may only have dreamed of visiting until now.
Our safety record is outstanding and our customers trust us to show them the depth of beauty and culture of Africa in the safest, most enriching environment and with our tour guides who focus on bringing their extensive knowledge and experience of the various regions, we are able to create unforgettable experiences for our customers.
All of our team at Africa4us are proud ambassadors for Africa who want nothing more than to encourage all our customers to come back for more of this magical country, and, as born and bred Africans you can be assured that you will have a ground-level experience that will bring your up close to the real rhythm, energy and beauty that is Africa, as well as offering you the opportunity to engage the locals through their cultural experiences.
Based on our experience, we know what it is like to spend several hours a day in a vehicle, which is precisely why we make our vehicles roomy and comfortable with access to windows so that you do not miss a thing on the journey.
We have had travellers who have left our shores with unforgettable memories that enrich their lives and inspire others to take the same journey with Africa4us for many years, knowing that they will experience the same high quality experience that should be the accepted norm for any overland travel company. Word of mouth is our most effective advertising tool, which means that we are able to include more activities and superior equipment on our tours instead of spending that money on expensive advertising campaigns, and this word of mouth advertising speaks volumes for our reputation formed over 16 years, making us an easy choice for your African adventure.
An Africa4us traveller’s experience – Opuwo to Etosha National Park and Windhoek.
Leaving Opuwo at the crack of dawn was well worth the adventure that lay ahead with an early arrival at Etosha National Park planned. As usual, the Africa4us kept everything running smoothly and on schedule, and just entering the gates of Etosha was exciting itself!
The first leg in Etosha would be heading for Olifantsrus Camp Site for our second night of camping, but it would be a very slow drive, making it our first game drive in Etosha. Between our driver, who seemed to have eyes that could spot an ant at a thousand feet, our very special guide and the rest of us, it was not long before we caught site of our first elephant in the distance, a few dik diks, Eland, Giraffes and Springbok, all of which had us acting like excited kids.
Our two lady crew knew where to look for all the places the different animals would choose for shelter from the heat of the day, but getting to the first watering hole was truly an unforgettable experience! This was the first time we had been able to get this close to the animals, and the variety of species sharing the waterhole was incredible. Zebras, Wildebeest, Springbok, Kudu’s, Oryx, Dik Diks, Giraffes and even a few Ostriches, all cavorting in and around the waterhole, but the cherry on top was the sight of a large herd of Elephants a bit of a distance away.
Everyone in that truck were begging those elephants to come to watering hole, holding our breath collectively, until finally the matriarch finally made the first move, in our direction! Naturally we had to keep dead quiet, using only the softest of whispers to communicate, but it was hard not to dance and shout for joy.
We sat there for a long time watching the two babies of the herd cavorting around the waterhole under the very watchful eyes of the matriarch and the rest of the herd. We finally had to tear ourselves away in order to make our camp site at Olifantsrus, but it was done with great difficulty.
Even after a long drive in the morning and the hours we spent on our game drive, the crew had our tents up in no time, with tables and chairs set out under the awning that pulls out from the top of the truck. Once everything was set up, our unflagging team set out on yet another late afternoon game drive that brought more of the same thrills as our first one had, and this time we hit pay dirt with a pride of lions that were busy feasting on their latest kill.
Fully satiated for the day, or so we thought, we headed back to camp, where supper was prepared in no time, as usual, but there was more in store for us! Olifantsrus has a small watering hole that has a viewing tower reached by a ramp that provides a reddish light for night game viewing, and with bellies full we headed for the tower after sunset.
What we got was more than any of us had ever expected! To stand 5 metres away from an elephant at a waterhole, undisturbed in its natural surroundings is an experience that must be had at least once in your lifetime, so whatever you do, make an African experience a priority on your bucket list.
Our 12th day and second one in Etosha took us on yet another adventure-filled game drive to our next rest stop at Okaukeujo Rooms, and this second day was just as exciting as our previous day, with too many special moments and sights to be able to convey in words, with a crew who opened our eyes to so much information about the habits of the wildlife we came across that we were overwhelmed by the treasures that unfolded around us.
Our final night in Etosha was spent in the same comfort that we had experienced throughout our trip, and although there was once again much laughter and fun around the fire at dinner, it was a bittersweet evening for us, knowing that the next leg of our journey would take us to Windhoek and finally to the airport to go our separate ways.
It was a long journey to Windhoek from Etosha, leaving us just enough time to freshen up at our hotel and head out to our final evening together. Joe’s Beerhouse is one of the best known and well loved restaurants in Windhoek, and this is where we had our final feast, reminiscing over the highlights of our trip, the gallons of water we had consumed and the funny moments shared along the way.
We checked out of our Windhoek hotel early to get to the airport, and by the time we had all our baggage off our beloved Lepelle, with goodbyes said, many of us watched our two ‘lady’ crew pull away with a real sadness in our hearts.
This is an adventure none of us will ever forget, and from the stories our Africa4us team told us about their adventures further into the heart of Africa, many will be coming back to explore this beautiful continent again.
This was an overland tour done in style and luxury, and time after time when we crossed paths with other tour companies, we knew we had made the best choice of all to take the trip with the passionate team from Africa4us!
‘Exquisite Cape Tour’ day 7 to 10 – An Africa4us traveller’s experience – Swakopmund to ‘The White Lady’ Bushmen painting and on to a Himba settlement experience in Opuwo.
Arriving in Swakopmund was literally a breath of very welcome fresh air after the desert heat! Travelling along the coast road to Swakopmund we had the desert on one side, and the ocean on the other, which must be the only place in the world where people live between the desert and the ocean!
Swakopmund itself is a bustling town caught between modern times and the architectural legacy of the German settlers that is still very clearly in evidence wherever you go. We were all looking forward to exploring all that Swakopmund has to offer for two whole days, from skydiving to kayaking, 4×4 dune rides or the slower pace of a visit to the Aquarium. The luxury of our hotel was well beyond our expectations, and we certainly made the most of those two days, resting, exploring little German coffee shops and eating like kings on local specialities.
At this point I would like to say that our tour guide and driver really proved how much they love what they do and their knowledge of the history, flora, fauna and wildlife everywhere in Namibia is phenomenal. There was never a moment when they were too tired to give us the best of themselves, their knowledge and endless energy. They did everything in their power to keep us entertained across hundreds of kilometres with titbits of information about the areas we travelled through, sharing their deep and abiding love for the beauty of Namibia and its people.
After two days of relaxation, we were ready for the excitement of visiting the site of the bushman painting known as ‘The White Lady’, situated in the Brandburg Mountains, which has the highest concentration of Bushmen paintings in Namibia. Because we had arrived in midday heat, our Africa4us crew gave us the option to go or not, due to the high temperature, but, a few of us decided we were going to give it a good shot anyway.
Armed with tons of sunscreen, water and a hat, off we went with a fantastic local guide, feeling pretty brave at the start of it. The presence of Elephants was evident everywhere, from their dung to trees they had damaged, and our guide pointed out the footprints of a leopard along the way as well as informing us that wild horses also made the area their home. I have to confess that I was the first to give up just before the halfway mark, find a large shady rock, and wait for the others. Not even the thought of a passing elephant or leopard could have made me move a step further; however, there were quite a few groups who also found the intense heat a bit hard to bear, so I didn’t feel too bad.
As we sat under the shade of the rock, our guide Monica, who grew up in the area told us so much about the history of the area and the legend of ‘The White Lady’ that it was as if we had seen it ourselves, which went a long way towards making it a really fun experience despite the challenge.
After lunch prepared by our fantastic crew, we left Brandburg for a stopover at Khorixas Rooms, all of us getting more excited about the fact that every kilometre from there would be taking us to Etosha Wildlife Game Park. As usual, our tireless Africa4us crew set out our dinner and went over the plans for the next day, which would take us to Opuwo Country Lodge and the experience of spending time in a traditional Himba settlement, as well as visiting another Africa4us Kids Project, where we would be delivering school supplies and lots of staple food to the community.
Arriving in Opuwo, the first thing we did was hit the local general dealer to stock up on stationary and food to take with us to the local school. Our welcome at the school was very touching and the smiles and laughter of the children as they chased a football around in the heat was amazing considering the lack of shade. After handing over all our goodies, the school principal and others bundled us into 4×4 vehicles to take us over some really rough terrain to reach the Himba settlement we would be visiting.
Learning about the customs and traditions of the Himbas, who still live as they have for hundreds of years in their mud huts with thatched roofs was fascinating. We met with the chief of the particular settlement we visited, just one of many dotted around the area, and with the help of the school principal, we were able to learn more about how they go about their daily lives. They are a very proud people who live entirely off the land and the goats they tend, telling time by the movement of the sun and the stars.
By the time we got to Opuwo Country Lodge at dusk, we were all ready for a quick shower, after which we sat looking out over the infinity pool as the sun finally set in a spectacular display of natural art. While we were enjoying a bit of relaxation, our tireless crew were preparing our dinner.
Eating great food in good company under the stars is an experience not to be missed, there is just something so special about sitting around a fire surrounding by nothing but the sights and sounds of Mother Nature!
We would be making another early start the next day to get to Etosha, so once the washing up of dishes was done, the chairs and tables packed away, we all headed for bed, ready to face the excitement of the game drives to come!
Watch this space for the next instalment of our Africa4us Exquisite Cape Tour.
An Africa4us traveller’s experience – Sesreim Rest Camp to Dune 45, Sossusvlei and Gobabeb.
Taking leave from Canyon Roadhouse Rooms at sunrise on our fourth day, we made our way to Sesriem Rest Camp, a journey we had been warned would be a long one, we made enough stops along the way in order to stretch our legs, stock up on munchies and cool drinks, which we stored in our fridge on the truck. This was where there was much hilarity when we were introduced to the phrase ‘bushy bushy’, which in short, was the term we were to use if we needed a loo stop in the middle of nowhere, since there were going to be long stretches in some areas with no ablution facilities!
Protecting the environment was at the top of the list of priorities for our crew, and every one of us on the tour was happy to share their enthusiasm for the protection of the delicate balance of the ecology in the areas we visited.
For hundreds of kilometres on the way to Seisreim Rest Camp there was no visible life, but with the encyclopaedic knowledge of our guide, we began to understand just how well inhabited these vast stretches of arid land are by small creatures who have adapted to the conditions, both above and below the surface. When we stopped for lunch, again literally in the middle of nowhere, we sat in the shade of a tree that gave us our first introduction to the sociable weaver bird, a fascinating society of tiny birds who build giant communal and intricate nests, with a security system of thorns pointing outwards from the openings to protect the weavers from predators.
Before reaching Sesreim Rest Camp, we stopped off for a tour through the smaller but no less beautiful Sesreim Canyon, where our guide explained the clearly defined layers of rock and sand that had formed over the centuries by forces of nature and water, although the river bed is completely dry and has been for many years now.
The impressive organisational skills of our guide made yet another arrival at a new destination a breeze, bringing us into Sesreim Rest Camp early enough for us to sit around shooting the breeze and swapping stories amid gales of laughter. I don’t think any of us were prepared for the speed with which our crew of two set up camp, it took an amazing five minutes to set up each tent, and before we knew it, dinner was on the go!
Namibia is in the middle of one of the worst droughts to hit the country, and everywhere we went there were pleas to conserve water, so we got accustomed to super quick showers just to wash the dust off and cool down to do our part for water conservation. A word of warning: stock up on water at every stop or you will be in danger of dehydration very quickly! The rain we left behind in Cape Town was by now an exceptionally distant memory!
After a quick shower and divine supper, we sat around the fire shooting the breeze, before retiring to our tents, well zipped up against any small intruders like scorpions and their ilk. We slept in sheer comfort on our specially designed dual density camping mattresses and Africa4us complimentary memory foam travel pillow! One of us met a beautiful silver backed fox when nature called, while another had a larger encounter with an Oryx making its way through the camp site, but it was definitely more adventurous and exciting than it was frightening.
We were up before dawn to beat anyone else wanting to get to the top of Dune 45 for a sunrise in a million, and we did a good job of it too! There were definite moments of hilarity as some of us crawled and fell our way up the ledge of this world renowned dune, but we were all determined to reach the top, come hell or high water! The magic of sunrise from the top of this dune was more than worth the effort, with a view of the first rays moving across dunes as far as the eye could see. Once the sun was up completely, we made a fun and easy descent, to find yet another first class breakfast ready and waiting for us, and that first cup of coffee was like manna from heaven.
By the time we were sitting down to breakfast, many more tour buses had arrived with visitors from all around the world, and there we sat like visiting royalty, with the best breakfast layout and definitely the most beautiful truck in the parking area. Her name was Lepelle, and everywhere we went, other tourists took pictures of her and other drivers wanted to have a look see. To us, all the other tour buses and trucks looked cramped and uncomfortable in comparison, so I guess we did become a little possessive about her.
From sunrise on Dune 45 we took the short trip to Sossusvlei, where we transferred to special open air 4×4 trucks able to negotiate treacherously soft sand leading to the vlei. This is pristine desert at its best, with plants here and there that have adapted to desert conditions and even produce fruit that is used by various tribes for its nourishing and healing properties.
After an easy walk across the soft sand dotted with areas that are small islands of salt pans, the pure white sands of Deadvlei in the midst of the red sands of Sossusvlei is stunning, and with trees that are 900 years old and a few hundred years towards becoming fully petrified, it is a photographer’s paradise in contrasts.
After Sossusvlei we struck out for the Gobabeb Research Station, and after reaching our destination in the late afternoon, we all had time to freshen up and relax before heading off to a dinner laid out for us by the locals. Everyone had their UV lights ready for a night scorpion hunt, although not all of us were as keen as others to join in, but those that did were well satisfied with the success, which also turned up a few really beautiful lizards.
After breakfast on our 6th day, we were off on a tour of the research facility at Gobabeb, which measures everything from desert weather patterns to beetles and lizards. It was an awesome experience to visit the library containing handwritten notes dating back to the sixties of the many scientists who had done research in Gobabeb, which actually started when one man set his caravan in the middle of nowhere to become the first researcher to make Gobabeb his home.
Leaving Gobabeb we were all looking forward to a short two hour drive that would bring us to the land between the desert and the ocean for two days in Swakopmund.
Watch this space for the next instalment of our Africa4us Exquisite Cape Tour.
That’s me for now; watch this space for the next three days of our adventure from Cape Town to Namibia with the exceptional team from Africa4us.
An Africa4us traveller’s experience – Cape Town to Kamieskroon in Namaqualand and on to the Fish River Canyon.
The Africa4us team welcomed us warmly to the night before the start of our 14 day trek through Namibia, with an introduction to everything we could expect on our journey through Namibia. After a great meal and good night’s rest at a top Cape Town V&A Waterfront hotel, we all bundled into the luxurious truck that would take us thousands of kilometres to Windhoek.
Despite the fact that it rained the whole day as we left Cape Town, our spirits were high and comfort levels even higher with all the personal space we each had to ourselves. With a window seat on either side of the aisle and a box next to us containing a safe for our valuables, as well as USB charging points to keep mobile phones, cameras and laptops powered up, we knew we were in for a truly luxurious overland tour of note.
Our first overnight stay after a delicious lunch served up by our tour guide, who was a magician at creating food that was simply divine at our road stop, was in the small Namaqualand community of Kamieskroon. Before going to our hotel, we stopped off at the local school to donate books brought by the team of Africa4us to the library of the local home for underprivileged boys and girls who come from many communities in Namaqualand.
We then went on to the Kamieskroon Hotel, and despite the continued rain, our exceptional tour guide and driver treated us to a braai (BBQ for those not from sunny South Africa) and side dishes that had us rolling to our beds with full belly’s. After a good night’s rest we were treated to the real thing as far as a true South African breakfast is concerned, right down to homemade marmalade and ‘moer koffie’.
From there it was a half day journey to the Namibian border, where our crossing was made easy by our guide, not to mention our fantastic driver who knew exactly how to deal with border police in the politest of terms, having made the crossing thousands of times. By then the sun had come out, and by the time we got to the Felix Unite Rooms on the Namibian side of the Orange River, which is call the Gariep River, we had divested ourselves of our warm layers.
While we were shown to our rooms situated beautifully right above the river, the seemingly inexhaustible team of guide and driver got lunch ready, including starting the preparation for dinner. The views across the river, the birdsong and call of the fish eagle were the perfect background music as we set about exploring the riverbanks. A five star dinner was served as usual, complete with flowers and candles on the table, with much laughter and a ton of fun had listening to the stories our well travelled guide and driver shared with us about their many journeys throughout Africa.
Day three started early as we had a long trip ahead to reach the Fish River Canyon by late afternoon. Our lunch stop was at the Ai-Ais Hot Springs resort, where we all stripped off for a well earned dive into the healing warmth of the natural spring water that feeds the main swimming pool. None of us got too close to the closed off section of one of the springs festooned with warning signs about the extreme heat of the water, it was easy to see from the steam rising up that even to dip a toe into that water would mean losing it! After another five star lunch prepared magically out of an incredibly well equipped and organised kitchen on the lower level of the truck, it was off on our final leg to Fish River Canyon.
We were all incredibly grateful for the luxury reclining seats with their ergonomically oversized backrests designed by Africa4us on this leg of the journey, what with the very gravelly trip to the first viewing point at Fish River Canyon.
What an experience, looking out across a vast expanse of canyon carved out by thousands of years by the Fish River, everyone quiet and in awe of the shades of colour created by shifting shadows and the beautiful sounds of silence created by the wild empty spaces. Then it was a trip to the topmost viewing point for yet another perspective of this beautiful canyon, enjoying a light lunch cheese and biscuits. We had a more than a few beautiful little birds joining us for lunch, however, our crew, ever conscious of the delicate ecological issues that are thrown out of balance when humans feed wild life, gently explained why it would be best not to feed these winged little beauties for their own sake.
Leaving breathtaking Fish River Canyon behind, we headed off for the last leg of day three, aiming to reach Canyon Roadhouse Rooms by late afternoon, leaving us enough time to freshen up after the long hot day before dinner.
The Canyon Roadhouse Rooms was an experience in itself, with rusted trucks, cars and spare parts from bygone areas sprouting trees and succulents wherever we looked, as well as a windmill that looked as if it had come from another century. We sat down to dinner in a restaurant surrounded by front ends of old cars and ambulances, and walls plastered with very old number plates and signs from bygone times and from everywhere in the world, making it the most unique restaurant and stop over any of us had ever experienced, slap bang in the middle of nowhere.
Every evening our guide would sit with us to plan the next step along the way, the historic sites, communities and rampant wildlife that lives just beneath the surface of this arid region, and it was great to know what to expect of each day.
After an early breakfast at the Canyon Roadhouse Rooms it was off on the next leg of our journey, which would take us to the Sesriem Rest Camp for our first night of camping virtually in the middle of the desert and 45 kilometres away from Dune 45.
We knew that our fourth day on the road was going to be a long one, but the shifting sands of the Namib Desert were calling us, but at least we got to do it in comfort and style, with air conditioning making each day that got hotter a lot more bearable!
Watch this space for the next instalment of our Africa4us Exquisite Cape Tour.
After months of hard work and miles of travels to lay the groundwork, Africa4us bids you welcome to their newly launched website, designed to give you a virtual window into everything on offer for the best overland safaris in Africa!
This new website is so user friendly that it is effortless to find the perfect tour to make your dreams of an African adventure come true. Each tour that is listed on the Africa4us website is clearly marked as either a camping or accommodated adventure in order to suit your idea of the perfect overland safari.
Itineraries for each tour is set out in a way that makes planning your adventure fun and exciting, with glimpses into each of the destinations and stops along the way that make for interesting reading. Every Africa4us overland vehicle is designed for maximum comfort, whether you choose an accommodated safari in their premium 12 seat vehicle or a camping adventure in the larger, but equally comfortable 20 seat vehicle.
Perhaps the best place to start, before you even get to looking at the fantastic tours on the Africa4us website, is to check out the video that takes you inside and out of these awesome vehicles, no doubt the only problem you will have after that is to decide which adventure tour you will be booking! Looking into the background of Africa4us on their website will give you insight into just what it is that has driven this team to reach exceptional heights of success after sixteen years and millions of miles across the African continent, which is evident in how carefully they have put together the best overland safaris in Africa.
The new Africa4us website lists everything you you can look forward to on each tour, from optional activities to everything that is included in your tour package as well as a map marking each leg of the journey and a gallery of stunning photographs that reflect the very best of each country and its highlights.
On the new Africa4us website you will be able to view the initiative of this team to give back to this land they love by creating partnerships with local schools, orphanages and communities, which invites travellers to join hands with them in adding as many books as possible to these libraries throughout Africa, as well as bringing along a few small toys to light up the lives of some of the younger children in these communities.
The prices of tour packages are included on the Africa4us website along with a list of tours that are aimed at a specific budget, with regular ‘early bird’ specials listed on the website which are well worth keeping an eye on.
A tour through the new Africa4us website will definitely move your African adventure to the top of your bucket list; all you have to do is choose your adventure and book it on the site, the team at Africa4us will make sure that you have everything you need to be fully prepared for an overland safari in style.