Africa’s Greatest Water Attractions

Africa, sometimes referred to as the mother continent, has an abundance of beautiful water bodies. Whether you’re interested in canoeing, swimming, fishing, cruising on a boat or simply capturing extraordinary photographs – there’s a river, lake or ocean waiting for you! Our water attractions are home to over 500 fish species; contributes to fertile land that sustains croplands; and witnesses wildlife spectacles such as the Great Migration and survival of the fittest. Here are our top 9 African water attractions, from freshwater and man-made lakes to African Great Lakes to majestic cascades:

The Mara River, found in the Mara Region in Kenya and Tanzania, cuts across the migration path of big game in the Masai Mara/Serengeti Game Reserve. The river sees the cycle of life and death and has become one of Africa’s most perilous sites during the Great Migration. One of Earth’s most spectacular wildlife events culminates at this very river.

Victoria Falls is a cascade of water in Southern Africa. This world-renowned waterfall lies on the Zambezi River at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. First known as Mosi-oa-Tunya which means “The Smoke that Thunders”, the falls is 1 708 meters wide, and is the largest in the world.

Lake Kariba is the world’s largest fresh water, man-made lake and reservoir. It lies 1,300 kilometres upstream from the Indian Ocean, along the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Lake Kariba spread over the Zambezi River valley and is a special place of incredible beauty for all nature and photography lovers.

The Okavango Delta is an expansive inland river delta in northern Botswana. One of Africa’s last remaining great wildlife habitats that provide refuge to huge concentrations of game, this water body is a maze of sparkling lagoons and meandering channels. Explore the Okavango Deltaby mokoro, on foot or on game drive; or navigate past hippos, elephants and crocodiles in a dugout canoe.

The Zambezi is the fourth-longest river and the longest east-flowing river in Africa and the largest flowing into the Indian Ocean from Africa. Known as Southern Africa’s “River of Life”, it drains seven countries and supports millions of people who make use of its fisheries, forests, water, and rich floodplain soils.

Lake Victoria is one of the African Great Lakes, named after Queen Victoria. It’s so large it extends significantly into Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. Among the freshwater lakes of the world, it is only exceeded by Lake Superior in North America.

Lake Turkana is situated in the Kenyan Rift Valley, in northern Kenya. It is the world’s largest permanent desert and alkaline lake.

The Olifants Riveris one of Southern Africa’s most important catchments – its water irrigates farming in western Mpumalanga and is a source of electrical power.

The Sabie River in South Africa forms part of the Komati River System and is one of the most biologically diverse rivers in South Africa.

 

Magical Mana Pools

Here are a few of our favourite videos from our team’s recent visit to the wonder that is Mana Pools.

Mana Pools National Park is in the far north of Zimbabwe. It includes the south bank and islands of the Zambezi River, which forms the border with Zambia. The park is known for it’s incredible wildlife… and the exquisite river and vast flood plains. It is on every safari-lovers bucket-list as it is remote, it’s teeming with animals, the scenery is exquisite, sunsets breath-taking… need we say more – it really is Africa at it’s best. Have a look at some of the videos below and let us know what you think?

Cheers to the end of another week… Until tomorrow’s sunset

Reaching for a mid afternoon snack

Another tough day in Africa…

Check out these mischievous eles

What a place for an afternoon nap

Munch munch munch… grabbing a bite for lunch!

SAVE 40% on our Black Friday Family Safari Special

BREAKING NEWS: More prices slashed!

SAVE 40% with our Black Friday Family Safari Special and experience an once-in-a-lifetime luxury Africa family vacation with this unforgettable 9 day tour including Cape Town and Madikwe Game Reserve.

For FULL ITINERARY and PRICE click HERE.

Valid for booking only from 08h00 on Friday 23 November through to 23h00 on Monday 26 November.

ENQUIRE NOW or call us: United States +1 888 345 3443 or South Africa: +27 82 411 5776

Availability is limited so contact us as soon as possible so we can make your African safari dream come true.

Black Friday Family Safari Special

4 Nights – More Quarters Hotel, Cape Town

Spend your first 4 nights at thenestled in the shadows of spectacular Lion’s Head mountain. This beautiful home-away-from-home is ideal for families and couples seeking privacy and the romance of the Cape.

4 Nights – Madikwe Safari Lodge, Madikwe Game Reserve

You’ll then be chartered and transferred to Madikwe Game Reserve for 4 nights. This extravagant lodge is spread between two picturesque and boulder strewn hills.

Includes:

Meet and greet at Cape Town Airport and transfer to More Quarters Hotel.

4 night’s accommodation at More Quarters Hotel in a 2 Bedroom Apartment on a bed and breakfast basis.

Road transfer from More Quarters Hotel to Cape Town Airport.

Scheduled flight from Cape Town Airport to O.R. Tambo Airport.

Scheduled flight from O.R. Tambo Airport to Madikwe Game Reserve.

Return 4×4 game drive vehicle transfers between Madikwe Airstrip and Madikwe Safari Lodge.

4 night’s accommodation at Madikwe Safari Lodge in a Family Suite on a fully inclusive basis.

Scheduled flight from Madikwe Game Reserve to O.R. Tambo Airport, Johannesburg.

Excludes:

International flights (into Cape Town and out of Johannesburg).

Travel insurance.

Items of a personal nature.

Gratuities.

Terms & Conditions

Valid for bookings made from 08h00 – 23 November through to23h00 – 26 November SA time.

After hours contacts from 17h00 until 23h00 on Friday and Monday.

Valid for travel between 04 January and 30 April 2019. Further discounts apply for travel between 01 and 31 May 2019.

This deal is subject to currency fluctuations and seat and accommodation availability at time of booking. Tour length can be reduced if required, subject to T&C’s.  For other Black Friday tours, look here.

Hurry and book now!

 

 

8 Best Travel Apps

Good bye to handwritten planning and paper maps! With the latest technology and apps, you can research, plan and save all your travel ideas, to-do lists, bookings and directions all in one place – on your mobile phone! And while we encourage travellers embarking on an African safari to have a technology-free vacation… planning and travelling has never been this hassle-free. Travellers can now explore the world virtually at the press of a button to look for flights, accommodation and now even to identify spoor, animals and flora.


We have compiled a list of our favourite apps for iOS and Android that help you find all your travel-related solutions such as what to pack and compiling a travel schedule. Scroll down and say goodbye to all the stress and challenges this African safari:

1. Pack Point
Tell the app where and when you are travelling and it will help you to pack! Pack Point will compile a list of things you will most likely need. You will never forget something behind again.

BARAZA Zanzibar Beach Safari
2. Duolingo
Duolingo is a language app that’s available for free. This app will help you to learn language basics or polish your grammar and vocabulary in a fun way. Available for both Android and iOS.


3. TripIt
This free travel itinerary app helps you see your entire trip in one place. Simply forward all your booking confirmation emails to the app which then collects all the details. The information about your trip will be available offline. Say goodbye to paper itineraries and lost bookings.

tanzania zanzibar beach safari
4. Africa: Live
Africa: Live is the winner of the best travel app in Africa competition. Share your real-time wildlife sightings on live maps and find animals, as you can see what wildlife sightings have been recorded in the past 24 hours by other safari goers and professional wildlife guides. Available for both Android and iOS.


5. ParkSpotter Africa
If you’re planning on visiting the Kruger National Park, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Addo National Park, Table Mountain National Park in South Africa and Etosha National Park in Namibia, ParkSpotter Africa is a useful app guide. It has all the park contact details, gate opening times, accommodation options, lists of waterholes and points of interest and hiking routes. There’s also detailed information and an identifying tool on all the flora and fauna you can find in the parks. track your trip, save it and share your wildlife sightings on social media. Available for iOS.


6. iTrack Southern Africa
This brand-new app has track information for 50 southern African mammals so you can work out who made those pawprints. Available for iOS.


7. Sasol eBirds of Southern Africa
This app helps you identify tweets, birds and where they can be found. With images, descriptions and recorded bird calls of nearly a thousand birds and maps of where they’re found in Southern Africa, this bird guide will help even the beginner bird watcher. Available for Android and iOS.


8. Star Walk
Have you ever looked, amazed at the scattered diamonds across the black velvet sky but not know what you’re actually looking at? All you need to do is point your phone up at the sky and the app will map out constellations and point out stars, planets and satellites. Available for Android and iOS.
These simple-to-download and easy-to-use apps have become extremely valuable. Technology has changed the way we travel, making these apps a great addition to your safari experience.

If there’s anything at all we can do to help you with planning and prepping for your African adventure please do let us know. 

Perfecting your Johannesburg Layover

There’s nothing worse than getting off a 15 hour flight and having to spend another 12 hours at Africa’s busiest airport. Because O.R Tambo International Airport is not as close to the city centre as we would like it to be – and with peak time traffic setting people back by a couple of hours, staying at the airport can sometimes be your best bet. But even with the many duty-free shops, restaurants and lounges, it can be cumbersome when you need to occupy yourself for half a day. But long layovers make managing your time easier and allow you to explore a city you wouldn’t have otherwise.

Walking Safaris Iconic Africa Zebras

Make sure you consider the time it will take to get through passport control, collect your luggage and check in again; and set aside at least an hour travel time from and to the airport. Before planning your layover itinerary, look at what time you land. Consider the time and distance as certain activities will be closed and tours will not operate after dark. Whether you’re in the City of Gold for the day or staying over at one of the airport hotels, here are our top suggestions to do on a layover in Johannesburg:

The airport is situated approximately 25 kilometres from the city centre. Don’t get too excited… Johannesburg is known for its congested traffic and these 25 kilometers can sometimes take up to 2 hours by car. The quickest way to get to the CBD is with the Gautrain – getting you to Sandton within 20 minutes. The travel card is available for purchase and can be topped up at the airport and stations.

difference between national park and game reserve sunset

Emperor’s Palace

A stone’s throw away from the airport is Emperor’s Palace Casino and Entertainment Resort – home to the “Codesa Walk”.  Whether you’re travelling solo and need some pampering or with small children, Emperor’s Palace has something for everyone. Relax and have a sit-down meal, play some Russian roulette or try not to have more fun than the kids in the entertainment area. This wonderland has some retail therapy options for the ladies, a live theatre and a cinema.

Sandton

Take the Gautrain to Sandton – one of the most upmarket areas in Johannesburg with some of the most exquisite hotels. Enjoy a meal at Mandela Square and stroll around the Sandton City Mall.

The Carlton Centre
Gather panoramic views of Johannesburg from the fiftieth floor in Africa’s tallest building – The Carlton Centre at an astounding 202 meters high. The Centre also has a hotel, cinemas and Johannesburg’s biggest shopping centre.

Soweto Tour

If you have the day at leisure, book a tour through Soweto, the South Arica’s most popular township. Soweto is home to more than one million people, which once included Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. You will get to see the Hector Pietersen Memorial and the Kliptown Open Air Museum.

Lion Park

There’s no better time than layover time to get up close and personal with some big cats. Visit the Lion Park about 45 minutes away by car. You can pet the cubs also see ostriches, zebras and giraffes.

Constitution Hill

Catch the Gautrain to Park Station in Braamfontein from where you can walk to Constitution Hill. Here rests the South African Constitutional Court, an old military fort Women’s Jail and the prison where Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and many others were held.

Gold Reef City

Depending on the time of day, you can take a 40 minute drive east and visit Gold Reef City. This is the ultimate fun town suitable for both adults and children. Right next door is the Apartheid Museum which is also worth a visit!

Regardless of all O.R Tambo has to offer, why hang around an airport when you can see the beauty of Johannesburg!

 

A Love Like No Other

“The eye never forgets what the heart has seen.” – Bantu Proverb

Travelling has a way of magnifying all human emotions, especially when you have an innate love towards a particular place! Our very own Terri Abadi shares her love for Africa with us here:

“The phrase, “follow your passion” is often thought to be nothing more than a cliché, one often repeated but seldom embraced. I feel blessed that over the last four years we have fostered a company which really is an embodiment of my one true passion!
My recent trip to Africa to further explore Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa reminded me why I love the continent of Africa so; what makes it so special and why it is deeply embedded in my soul.

Growing up in South Africa, I was enthralled by its breath-taking landscapes from a young age, and in particular the life that pulses through the bush. What makes the African wilderness so captivating to me can only be described as a feeling; one of being in complete and utter awe.
When I am there, inner peace permeates every fibre of my being, from the first sight of the amber rays spreading across the bushveld at dawn, all the way through to the last red glow after the suddenness of the sunset, with the soft chirp of a Scops owl calling from an acacia tree nearby or the muted roar of a male lion in the still night air.

Africa grips you in its wonder and you are left inextricably bound to it. Ever since I first visited the Kruger National Park and Botswana, it has pulsated in my veins like a river rushing in my blood.
The escape that the bush offers from the daily grind is unlike any other. Sitting in the middle of a herd of a thousand buffalo, or having a bull elephant stroll past within metres of your vehicle are the type of experiences to get pulses racing, to offer the type of thrill that exists nowhere else; the most addictive cocktail of anticipation, incredulity, freedom, wonder and awe.

Truly, there is nothing like the call of the fish eagle beckoning you to discover the secrets and wonders of the bush. If you visit, I promise that you too will fall in love Africa’s her hypnotic beauty.

She will completely transform the landscape of your dreams for a lifetime, in a way you never thought possible.

It will do for you what it has done for me: embed itself in your soul… And there will be no going back…

We can’t wait to share our love for Africa with you.”

by Terri Abadi

Introducing RockFig Safari Lodge

We would like to extend a warm welcome to the stunning Rockfig Lodge, the latest addition to our collection.

Nestled under the weeping boer-bean, leadwood, tamboti and jackalberry trees, rests a slice of South African paradise. Located in the world renowned Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, this is the ideal destination for families and group vacations. Sharing an unfenced border with Kruger National Park, this charming hideaway offers spectacular game viewing making sighting one of the Big Five is a usual experience and tracking wild dogs and white lions an added bonus!

A grandiose setting

A beautiful dining area enclosed with glass doors stacks up to integrate indoor living spaces and the great outdoors. Enjoy your meals overlooking the riverine landscape without having to leave your home away from home.  This wonderful lodge boasts architectural acuity that creates a spontaneous flow between communal and private spaces, and indoor and outdoor areas. The interior of RockFig Safari Lodge takes inspiration from Timbavati’s locale and luxurious bush setting evident in the colours and rustic furnishings. The designer has created a relaxed mood with an authentic outback feel emanating at all moments. This property is the perfect destination for guests of all ages with activities to enhance everyone’s experience and appreciation of this piece of heaven.

Game viewing

30 000 acres of African bush adjoins the superlative Kruger National Park. Without any fences bordering the two parks, the natural migration of wildlife is encouraged. This thriving, unspoiled wilderness area is home to a wide variety of wildlife: the Big Five are among the plethora of mammals you will see. RockFig Safari Lodge offers morning and afternoon game drives with professional guides and trackers who will guarantee you an incredible safari experience as the quiet corners of South Africa come to life. Taking the diverse age group of guests that visit, activities can be tailored specifically to you. If game drives aren’t intimate enough for you, RockFig can arrange a guided walking safaris where you will be able to stop and marvel at the abundance of beautiful birdlife, interesting insects, reptiles and amphibians. This is especially fascinating for those interested in the flora of the Timbavati.

Activities

You will have the chance to learn the different grasses and trees of the bush on your morning and afternoon/evening drives, and bush walks.  Not forgetting the wonderful photographic opportunities for when you are left without words trying to retell your experiences! Your guide and tracker will show you how to read the signs of the bush to foresee the movements and behaviour of birds and animals. Enjoy the company of other guests over sundowners as you recap on the days adventures, or if you prefer, a romantic bush dining experience or sunset picnic. Families with young children will enjoy time spent around the open boma giving guests time enjoy the experience of a traditional camp fire under a brightly lit sky. Nothing bonds families like a good meal; RockFig Safari Lodge is excited to introduce guests to a traditional South African potjie and braai, setting your table in the outdoors.

Safari romance

RockFig Safari Lodge is a family orientated property but conserves that safari romance one can only expect out in Africa’s open plains. With only eight guests at a time, you are assured privacy. The perfect destination for some R&R, you will be woken by that first ray of morning light atop pure cotton linen. Stretch out on to the deck before taking an outdoor shower or rest those shoulders in a wonderful bath using the exclusive Terra Firma Range. Head out for a couples massage or spend the day exploring the vast plains from the sky in a helicopter or hot-air balloon.  If you’re feeling more romantic than usual, book a horse ride nearby and gallop in to the distance.

Private and exclusive

RockFig Safari Lodge is positioned near the banks of the dry Nhlaralumi River amongst high arching riverine trees. Poetically secluded, this rustic colonial-African style camp rests on guests enjoying simple comforts in five star settings. Taken straight from a novel, each bedroom has screens on the windows and doors, an overhead fan for those warm summer days and a grand net over the bed. In your free time you can relax at the rock pool, with thirsty elephants, buffalo and giraffes in sight who frequent the nearby waterhole.The private lodge offers the ultimate safari retreat: with its breath-taking surroundings, own vehicle and professional game ranger, as well as a fully kitted kitchen. This lodge is the crescendo in time-out destinations!

Getting there

RockFig is just over a five-hour drive from Johannesburg airport. However, Iconic Africa recommends an easy flight to Hoedspruit Airport, a short 45 minute drive to RockFig, connecting you easily from both Johannesburg and Cape Town. RockFig also has its own private airstrip for guests who wish to fly directly to the camp via a scheduled charter by Federal Air landing 5 minutes away from the lodge.

Africa is our playground, contact Iconic Africa now and let us tailor make your bespoke African adventure for you!

 

Property of the Month – Tswalu Kalahari

Nestled at the base of the Korannaberg lies this month’s property of the month – Tswalu Kalahari. This beautiful – and South Africa’s largest – private game reserve envelopes 240 000 acres of pristine wilderness. Owned by Nikki and Strilli Oppenheimer, the sheer magnitude of the reserve bares testament to the family’s commitment to authentic conservation and opulent luxury.

Don’t let its position sway you! Tswalu makes up the south-east tip of the Kalahari, and just south of the Botswana border, this reserve offers a flourishing habitat for both humans and animals alike.  Out in the wild, the game viewing is breath-taking be it from the back of a 4 X 4 safari vehicle, the saddle of an impeccably behaved horse or on foot. Tswalu is the ultimate luxury safari destination in the heart of the magical Kalahari.

Motse Lodge boasts extraordinary views of the Kalahari plains stretching out endlessly to the west. The expansive decking, sumptuous lounge and well-stocked mezzanine library offer spaces for quiet contemplation and reading after a day out in the wild. The large infinity pool is an excellent place to sip a gin and tonic in the midday sun while the drama of the Kalahari unfolds all around.

The lodge sleeps just 24 guests in ultimate comfort. Each secluded stone and thatch bungalow is a testament to taste and elegance with antique furniture and rare African artefacts. The suites have huge bedrooms with fireplaces for chilly desert nights; vast bathrooms with indoor and outdoor showers; elegant dressing rooms and spacious study areas. The warm hues reflect the beautiful shades of the wilderness outside encouraging you to feel totally relaxed and at one with the environment. The private sundeck with views of the camp waterhole are magnificent spaces to soak up the peace of the Kalahari.

Situated some distance from Motse Lodge, in a valley of its own between two mountain ranges, is Tswalu Tarkuni. This ultimate secluded luxury offers a stunning thatch and stone villa with 5 suites. The private suites accommodate up to 10 guests, while the main house comes with its own cavalry; a chef, guide, house manager and a private game drive vehicle.

The style mirrors both Motse Lodge and the Kalahari Desert. Playing with colours, the interiors have red clay finishing and enormous pivot fire places. There’s a guarantee that you will feel coupled with the outdoors under seismic hollow ceilings and next to raw stone walls creating a distinctive aesthetic beautifully suited to the Kalahari’s flair and grace.

Tarkuni’s en-suite bedrooms are big enough to lose your thoughts in it. The open-plan area has fantastic views of the Kalahari and the desert-chic style continues from the bedroom to the bathroom. From the colour scheme to the furniture and decor, it is as though the fixtures have been choreographed into place.

Most of the staff at Motse have been there for over 15 years and so know just how to make your experience just that much more special. Whether it’s by making a glorious fire for you in your room, treating you to an unforgettable massage or to the exclusive “Mocha-choca-rula” on your early morning game drive.

Make sure you go on at least one day’s horse safari, ask for a “Dune Dinner” (a special culinary treat in the middle of the bushveld) or for a night’s stay at the Malori Star-Bed the exclusive, private suite that lets you sleep under the stars! For more on this once-in-a-lifetime destination click here. 

Why Celebs Love South Africa

Africa invites millions of tourists from all over the world each year. Voted a haven for relaxation, romance and adventure, she has drawn in celebrities who have undoubtedly fallen in love with our beautiful continent! South Africa in particular has offered breath-taking sights and landmarks, remarkable influential leaders, delectable local cuisines and not forgetting indigenous wildlife and flora. Needless to say, with such a beautiful country, and all it has to offer and surprise us with, it would be impossible for our favourite personalities to ever forget how it has made them feel… With some help we have put together a list of our top seven singers and actors who have visited or were born in South Africa and see what they had to say:

Waka Waka, eh eh. Nobody will forget Shakira’s world-class performance with Freshly Ground in Soweto during the 2010 soccer World Cup. Likewise, Shakira will never forget South Africa:

“I’ve learnt to see Africa with new eyes, from the perspective of a continent that has given the world so much, that has nourished it like a mother nourishes her child. A continent full of colours, feelings, smiles, and kids with enormous talent that are just waiting for the chance to shine…”

Speaking of musicians, Jared Leto has taken inspiration from South Africa:

“We have been very lucky in that we have toured South Africa twice, and plan on coming back. We’ve been inspired to write songs there, and recording there was an experience to be remembered.”

Chitwa Chitwa GAme Lodge SAbi Sands Iconic Africa

Born in Johannesburg, musician Dave Mathews has an organic love for this beautiful country:

“You find these cultural collisions that result in art and music and it’s pretty amazing.”

After visiting exquisite countries such as Zimbabwe and Egypt, Will Smith claimed that:

“It’s really beautiful. It feels like God visits everywhere else but lives in Africa.”

Having visited Africa enough times to count on both hands, Leonardo DiCaprio is no stranger, especially in South Africa. During his time spent filming Blood Diamond, he said:

“I saw a pack of 35 lions eat a wildebeest carcass and swam with giant manta rays. That was unbelievable. Africa’s natural beauty is unmatched.”

Dulini Lodge Lion

Actress, singer and author, Taraji P Henson has found South Africa’s food extraordinary:

“I love South African food because it’s flavourful, your taste buds dance, you just never know what combinations… very spicy. I love food that you can taste”.

Last but not least, Tom Hiddleston is well travelled but South Africa holds a special place in his heart. He described his time spent here as:

“I feel as though a cardboard box of my own reality has been flattened and blown open. Now I can see the edge of the world”.

With this much love for South Africa, we cannot wait to see them return and welcome others to our shores soon!

A Collection of Leopards in Trees – Limited Edition

There’s nothing quite like the utter excitement, pure adrenalin and overwhelming joy that is felt when getting up-close-and-personal to a leopard – especially when in a tree. James Tyrrell, friend, safari guide and expert photographer knows this feeling all too well and has captured it expertly here:

For more of James Tyrrell’s incredible photographs follow him on Instagram @jamotyrrell.

Top Videos of the Month

Whether it’s an adorable baby elephant rolling around, an aerial exploration of Zimbabwe, a road block of lion cubs or a journey through the captivating Cape… we’ve selected some of this month’s top videos for you here.

  1. This video will make you want to go to the Mother City in no time! Thanks for sharing Must Do Travels

I want to go to Cape Town! 🇿🇦

I want to go to Cape Town! 🇿🇦

Posted by Must Do Travels on Saturday, 11 August 2018

2. This is the kind of road block we don’t mind… Thanks for sharing Barcroft Animals

Cute Lion Cubs Cause A Roadblock In South Africa

In honour of #WorldLionDay, here are some adorable lion cubs causing a road block with their games.

Posted by Barcroft Animals on Wednesday, 10 August 2016

3. Zimbabwe looks incredible because it is incredible. Thanks for sharing UNILAD Adventure

Zimbabwe Looks Incredible

Tag someone who would love to explore Zimbabwe! 🐘😍

Posted by UNILAD Adventure on Wednesday, 8 November 2017

4. Adorable baby elephant rolling around and having the best time! Bound to make you smile… Thanks for sharing @Scary Mommy.

Sharing A Bed With A Toddler

Don't ask me why I look tired.

Posted by Scary Mommy Time Out on Wednesday, 18 July 2018

 

The Wonder of Wild Dogs

If you had to ask any traveller heading to Africa on safari which animal they desire most to see – I bet you African wild dogs wouldn’t be in the top three. Lions are usually right number one on the list, even though they are spectacularly lazy animals.

Selinda Camp Botswana Wild Dogs

But ask any game ranger, safari guide or conservationists – the African wild dog should be on everyone’s ‘must-see’ list and is probably their favourite animal to observe in the bush. The African wild dog, also known as the painted wolf, has immeasurable amounts of energy and are extremely social animals. Both adults and pups enjoy playing and even their relaxation time is exciting to watch and involves some sort of frolicking. They cover great expanses every day and are the most frequent hunters.

African wild dogs may not be as well-known as the regal lion or the majestic elephant among tourists and may even be misunderstood. But they are certainly appreciated and adored for their unique characteristics and nature. Sighting aLycaon pictus is rare outside of certain areas and should be considered a highlight for every visitor. Here’s why:

Firstly, there are approximately only 5 000 African wild dogs left making them critically endangered. This is despite the fact that they are Africa’s most successful hunters attaining 50% more preys than lions.

These amazing statistics can be directly attributed to their individual and pack coordination. They are some of the best communicators and constantly let one another know their location and that of the prey, allowing them to quickly adapt while hunting.

They are rarely sighted because they are most active in the early morning and evening or when the moon is at its brightest.

African wild dogs are constant wonderers and their home or territories can range up to 1,500 km2. 

On your next game drive, if you are lucky enough to spot an African wild dog, impress your fellow travellers with some of the reasons why we love the painted wolf:

Their mottled fur is like their very own finger print. No two dogs have the same coat and the unique pattern makes it easy to spot individual dogs.

African wild dogs have large ears that resemble rounded satellite dishes. The ears have numerous muscles that allow the dogs to swivel them to pick up the faintest sounds.

Their long legs, slender build and rapid muscle recovery ensures their successful hunt rate.

But it’s not only their physical build that ensures they are formidable hunters.

The act of hunting is the most spectacular activity of the wild dog. Here you will not only see their sociable nature but the importance of the pack. Pups that can eat solid food will be given priority to hunt, even over the alphas. But before they can hunt, the pups have a playful ceremony that bonds them and initiates the hunt. They circle the pack, vocalise and touch until the excitement overcomes them.

Wild dogs are not only emotionally competent and intelligent, they are extremely cooperative. While some dogs run ahead and keep close proximity to the prey, others will follow behind and tag team when the lead dogs are exhausted. Once securing the prey, it is shared among the pack, even with those who never helped hunt.

They say it takes a village to raise a kid, and it does – even in the animal kingdom. Pups take preference over even the Alphas and all pack members take responsibility for and help raise the pups.

We are all equals, and this extends to the wild dogs pack. Below the alpha male and female, there is no significant hierarchy.

Unlike other social mammals, the females move from one pack to another when they reach sexual maturity at around 14 – 30 months of age. They will leave the male dogs behind to look after the rest of the pack and form the core of the social group.

Another way African wild dogs communicate besides vocalisation is through body movements. If their tail is tucked between the legs it signals fear and submissiveness. But if the dog has an upright posture with its tail curled over its back it means it is sociable and friendly. Hardly an aggressive animal, this can be gestured by a rigidly upright posture.

If we’ve managed to persuade you that seeing wild dogs should be on your bucket-list – let us know and we will help you make this dream come true!