Five Things You Need To Know About Naboisho. Happy #AfricaFactFriday

Just north of the Masai Mara National Reserve is a remarkable place – The Mara Naboisho Conservancy. This special partnership between the Maasai who own the land, six safari camps that share it and people like you that can come visit it is one of Kenya’s success stories. From top camps to being able to walk through the bush, Nabiosho is emerging as one of the top safari destinations not only in Kenya, but actually in all of Africa.

So here’s what you need to know – and especially as you plan your safari, you need to remember these things.

The Maasai Own Their Land And Always Will.

In many places, tragically, the tribe or people who owned the land historically have lost the land when either it was turned into a national park or sold to an investor – not here. In Naboisho, over 500 Maasai families have leased their land to the conservancy and will therefore, always keep it. One interesting thing to note is that through the conservancy which is funded by tourist operators – each and every Maasai landowner gets a rent check each and every month. Just through the creation of the conservancy, more than 3,000 Maasai were lifted from below the U.N. poverty line to above it through the creation of this lease program.

There Are Only Six Camps Spread Out Over More Than 55,000 Acres.

Some reserves of the same size have literally thirty or forty camps. Here there are just five which mean you rarely see anyone else. There is a strict three vehicle rule at any sighting and usually you either will be the only car watching or there might be one more. Even in the more famous private reserves, there can be five or ten vehicles. In fact….

The Number Of People Visiting At Any One Time Is Limited To 124.

That’s if every camp is totally full. With only 124 people spread over 55,000 acres, you’re not going to see or hear a lot of people. In fact, on a recent walk through the conservancy, over the course of five hours, we didn’t see any people at all (we did see lots of animals including a cheetah walking by.) Plus don’t forget —

In Nearby Talek, Over 8,000 People Drive Through The Gate To The National Reserve On Peak Days.

That’s a big difference. Remember, should you actually want to go through the gate with 8,000 of your closest friends, any of the camps at Naboisho will be happy to take you for an extended day trip. Don’t worry though, while everyone has the right to visit the Reserve, the conservancy can only be used by the six camps.

Here, You Can Walk The Walk.

Have you always wanted to walk through the plains? Climb down a hill and see giraffes wandering by? In Naboisho, you can – it’s one of the amazing things about the conservancy. So if you want to go to see the best of Africa, there’s only one place to go – Naboisho.

And there’s one more very important thing – African Impact has one amazing volunteer project right in the middle of Naboisho. Check it out here (but only if you love adventure and lions and leopards and…..)

 

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A Great African Success Story – Naboisho

Right now I am sitting in Lamu on the Kenyan coast and have just put up a piece on Medium.com about Naboisho and the amazing success story there.If you want to visit this amazing place, just email us and we’ll get you an amazing deal – especially at Encounter Mara. 

Here’s the link to the story.

 

Naboisho : Oct 2014 growling lion

This Bites. #AfricaFactFriday.

#africafactfriday (shark) banner

What does you ask? Well the simple fact that for every human killed by a shark, humans kill over 2,000,000 sharks. The demonization and often complete lack of understanding of sharks makes it easy to dismiss the way they are treated – which is a tragedy on many levels, for sharks are some of the most amazing creatures on earth.

For example, sharks were swimming in the earth’s oceans for 200 million years before the dinosaurs even came along – and in all those years, they really haven’t evolved much at all. That does mean, though, that they have some pretty incredible traits – such as, some species of sharks have seven rows of teeth and one row just falls in place when the shark loses a row of teeth. Sharks can go through 30,000 teeth in their lifetime.

Now, one of the best places in the world to see sharks is in the cold clear waters off of South Africa. Diving with great whites is an an amazing, albeit, cold experience (don’t worry there are plenty of wet suits available) and the chance to see these incredible animals up close is a thrill. One of the leading experts in great white sharks will actually take you out to see them – it’s just a short drive down from Cape Town and next thing you know you’ll be on the high seas with Chris Fallows.

Chris knows a lot more about sharks than we do – so he already knows that sharks don’t have a single bone in their bodies – it’s all cartilage. He also knows that of the more than 500 species of sharks, only four are considered dangerous to humans and, again, they are far less dangerous to us than we are to them.

If you go out with Chris, you might ask him about this recently discovered fact that we find interesting – despite the fact that an equal number of men and women swim in the ocean, over 90% of shark attack victims are men.

Visiting South Africa and seeing all the amazing sights that the country has to offer is a wonderful thing. Traveling there with Travel On The Good is even better – why? Book any trip to South Africa and let us know that sharks are your thing, and we’ll donate 10% of the total cost of your trip to a shark conservation project we support in Gansbaii, South Africa.

Does that mean the trip costs you more? No not at all. We have a fully-staffed top-notch travel agency in Cape Town that will get you the best possible deals (just email us where you want to go and we”ll send you some ideas and some great prices.) It’s what happens next that makes us different – and we think better. Your typical travel agent will receive a 20-30% commission for booking your trip. And keep it. We take the same commission and donate a large portion of it to a non-profit in the part of Africa where you’re visiting.

You pay the same – or less.

The hotel, resort or safari camp where you are staying receives the same amount they usually would.

We operate a little leaner, but not meaner, and we donate 10% of the trip or 1/3rd of the commission because we think a bit more of your hard-earned travel dollars should stay on the ground in Africa and not go in travel agent’s pockets.

Now, if you’re into sharks, like really into sharks and an hour in the cage just won’t do it. Here’s some great news.

Our friends at African Impact have an amazing volunteer project that you can go on in Gansbaii – and work with the same group that we donate to.

There are more details here  African Impact is the best volunteer company in Africa and if you love sharks, this is the trip for you.

You might even get the chance to see two sharks courting. The male shark will bite the female shark to get her attention. No wonder they go through 30,000 teeth!

Lions And Lions And Lions, Oh My. Happy #AfricaFactFriday

Just to be clear, as we don’t want any disappointed readers, there aren’t any tigers in Africa. Not a single one. Well, not a single one in the wild at least. There could be one or two in zoos we suppose but frankly, who wants to travel to Africa and go to a zoo? Not us.

It’s not that the tigers are all gone, there never were any tigers here. There aren’t really bears either – there might be a sub-species of a bear around somewhere but with all due respect to “The Wizard Of Oz” if you’re headed to Africa, it’s really all about the king of the plains, the pride of Africa – lions.

Lions are the second largest cat – right after the tiger which we just mentioned. Until as recently as 10,000 years ago, lions were the second most popular mammal on earth right after humans. Now, there are, of course, a lot more humans than lions but if you want to really see lions, we highly recommend The Naboisho Conservancy in Kenya. This incredible conservancy is not only over 55,000 acres but is home to the largest pride of lions in the Mara ecosystem. Some days, the pride can be seen in its entirety with over 100 lions gathered to hunt and sleep – really just to sleep – as lions sleep for over 20 hours every single day.

Within Naboisho, there are a number of wonderful camps but we’re partial to Encounter Mara – this amazing tented camp was recently voted the “Best Tented Safari Camp In Kenya.” If you have ever been to Kenya, or even just dreamed of Kenya, well then you know that there are a lot of amazing tented safari camps so to be voted the best there, well, that’s saying something. Encounter Mara has some great specials going right now by the way – they are here. 

There’s one other thing you can do with lions – actually there are a lot of other things you can do with lions. Our good friends at African Impact have a number of amazing volunteer opportunities for you to come work, play and walk with the lions.

The highlights?

Walking with the lions in Zimbabwe and getting them ready to be re-introduced to the wild

Tracking lions, and other big predators, in South Africa.

More lions. Different country – Zambia

So if you like lions, there’s a country and a project just for you – just as lions are the kings of Africa, African Impact is king of the lion projects. While you’re there, you’ll learn more about lions than anyone will know, like they are the only cat with a tasseled tail, or that out on the plains, the roar of a lion can be heard from five miles away.

For some people, that’s close enough. For others, they want to get closer. A lot closer. 

 

 

This Is Going To Be A Little Spicy. We’re Heading To Zanzibar For #AfricaFactFriday

Pack your bags ladies and gentlemen, because we’re heading to Zanzibar.

Of course, even though it is Africa Fact Friday, we would never recommend you spend just a single day in this amazing destination – after all, what other island off the coast of Tanzania has been fought over and ruled by, among others, the Portuguese, the British, the Sultan of Oman and a few other random pirate leaders?

And has amazing beaches? And its very own species of monkey?

Only one.

A lot of that has to do with the amazing spices that are found on the island. Because, once upon a time, for example, when the Portuguese were in charge of this African paradise some six centuries ago, it wasn’t so much that whoever had the gold made the rules, it was whoever had the spices that was in charge. This is just one of the reasons that the island of Zanzibar has been a prized destination for over 2,000 years. From the Arab traders who first settled in Stone Town, to the Portuguese who indeed ruled much of the 15th and 16th centuries, not to mention the British or the Sultan of Oman who also conquered the island at one point. the history of Zanzibar is a remarkable one.

It all starts with the main town on the island: Stone Town Stone Town can best be described as ‘living history’ as you can wander the alleys and back streets of this amazing city. From the famous Stone Town wooden doors to the Palace of Wonder, the combination of Asian, Persian, Indian, European and, of course, African influences make Stone Town an architect’s dream. The name, Stone Town, comes from the use of the coral stone that was used to construct most of the famous buildings in the town.

Zanzibar is, of course, more than just Stone Town. And you can do more than just visit the national parks or go on a Spice Tour and learn how Zanzibar dominated the world trade in spices for centuries. There are dozens of possible ways to help you spend a week or two on Zanzibar, and at Travel On The Good, we’d be happy to help you figure out the best way to do visit (and since we are Travel On The Good, a far higher percentage of the cost of your vacation will stay on the island.)

But if you really want to experience what it’s like to live and work or, say, volunteer on Zanzibar, then let us introduce you to two great opportunities from our friends at African Impact.

Zanzibar is famous for its dolphins – not to mention the fact the Menai Bay Conservation Area is the largest in Zanzibar and one of the largest in all of the east coast of Africa. Dolphins are great communicators – which is not completely surprising because Zanzibar is part of Tanzania and in this single African country, they speak over 120 different languages.

They will squeak, whistle and even use body language to get their point across. Sometimes, they jump as high as 20 feet out of the water or slap their tails on the water to get their point across. You’ll experience all these things first hand when you volunteer with African Impact. You can stay from two weeks to eight weeks. We’re told at the end of eight weeks, while we can’t guarantee it, most people are fluent in dolphin.

African Impact also has a wonderful community volunteer project in Zanzibar. It doesn’t involve any flapping of your tail on the water, but it’s equally rewarding. There’s more information here.

So while entire books have been written about what to do in Zanzibar, we think it comes down to two things. Visit with Travel On The Good and we’ll make a donation of at least 10% of the total cost of your trip to Happy Africa Foundation – they do amazing work on the island.

Or you can volunteer on the island with African Impact.

Either way, you’ll have the chance to wander the alleys of Stone Town, see the amazing beaches of the eastern coast of the island and, of course, add as much spice to your trip as you wish.

This Is Going To Be Big. Happy #AfricaFactFriday

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the hippo – a massive animal that loves water which is where their name comes from – the ancient Greeks named them “river horses.” You might already know that a large male hippo can weigh well over three tons – but that’s just the start of some interesting things we’ve uncovered about hippos for today’s very special Africa Fact Friday.

Think you can outrun a 6,000 pound animal with tiny legs? Think again. Hippos, over short distances, can easily outrun a human and have been clocked at 20 miles an hour. This, and the fact that it is surprising that a hippo can run so fast, make the hippo one of the deadliest animals in Africa. Far more people die each year in hippo attacks than they do in elephant or lion attacks.

Hippo facts start early with the amazing. A baby hippo is born underwater and must swim to get its first breath. The average baby hippo is over four feet in length and weighs approximately one hundred pounds. They get big fast because hippos eat – a lot. They’ll often eat over one hundred pounds of vegetation during the day as they float around, let’s call that their lunch. For dinner, overnight, they will climb out of the water when it’s dark and eat another hundred and fifty pounds of grass.

Hippos are native to approximately 30 countries in Africa and our friends at African Impact run a lot of volunteer projects that you might want to check out if you are interested in seeing these really amazing creatures. But again, if you run into a hippo, don’t try and run away from the same hippo – see above.

Last week, we talked about how close chimpanzees are to humans so we are sure by now you are wondering – well what’s the hippo’s closest living relative? The answer is the whale.

If you were to run into a hippo and if you wanted to break the ice and have a chat, you could start by asking a hippo how they produce a natural sunscreen which is a very useful trait in Africa, and then when the conversation got going a bit, you could ask the question that we really want to know the answer to –

Mother hippos produce pink milk.

How the heck does that happen? Let us know what you find out.

Don’t forget – Travel On The Good can give you lots of great chances to see hippos – Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa – they all have a lot of hippos. We’re especially big on the hippos in Zambia just so you know.

98% Of The People Who Read This Are Chimpanzee. Happy #AfricaFactFriday

You grew up thinking that your cousins from Jersey were your closest living relatives , but actually you were wrong. For you, me, all humans in fact, chimpanzees are our closest living relatives – we share approximately 98% of our DNA with chimps making us 98% chimp and making chimps 98% human.

Which not only explains the behavior of some of your cousins from Jersey perhaps, but also is why, among many other human behaviors, chimpanzees laugh when they play and groom each other when relaxing. Grooming not only helps a chimp look better when learning sign language which they can do when in captivity, but also relax and calm down after a tense day.

What would chimps have to be tense about? Well, unfortunately like most animals in Africa, the only place in the world where chimps live, their natural habitat has been greatly reduced. Once, chimps roamed over 25 countries in Africa, more countries than 98% of people visit in their lifetimes we suppose, but now they are endangered in five of those countries, gone from five more and need our help in the remaining fifteen.

Africa is, by the way, the only place in the world you will find chimpanzees in the wild, meaning that first things first – you should visit Africa with Travel On The Good and see the chimpanzees. When you do so, not only will you experience what few people get to do, but you’ll also be supporting organizations in Africa that are working to save the chimpanzees, the lions, the elephants and every other species that needs our help.

So what if you are up for more than a visit? What if you want to settle down and really experience how your closest living relatives live? Well there’s an amazing program where you get to do that in Northern Zambia.

The Chimpanzee and Wildlife Orphanage Care Project which is located on the banks of the Kafue River – yes it’s as amazing as it sounds – is the largest chimpanzee sanctuary in the world and has over one hundred chimpanzees that you can interact with, play with and groom each other should you so choose.

In 2013, Goabroad.com named this remarkable new project a winner with its “Innovative New Project Volunteer” Award – so you know you will have an amazing experience – you can visit the project for as little as two weeks or as long as twelve weeks which just might be enough time for you to learn all there is to learn about these amazing creatures. One of your new friends might even teach you how to walk on your knuckles which, we are told, is not nearly as painful as it sounds.

Happy #AfricaFactFriday everyone! And here’s to visiting and helping the chimps.

 

Africa Geography 101

Hats off to the folks at The Safari Company for a great post on Ebola – which is surprisingly impacting tourist travel to Africa. Why surprisingly you say? Well, because where the Ebola breakout is happening, and it is a terrible disease that is having a major impact on that region, is far closer to say, Europe, than it is to the key tourist routes in Africa – primarily East Africa and Southern Africa.

London, Paris, Madrid and even, and this one actually did surprise us a bit as well, key cities in Brazil are all closer to the Ebola outbreak than say the Serengeti, Botswana or Cape Town.

Cape Town is just under 5,800 kilometers away from the outbreak while Madrid is a relatively cosy 3,600 kilometers. For all the Americans reading this, look at it this way. Cape Town is farther away from the Ebola outbreak than New York is from Los Angeles.

There are, of course, lots of flights in and out of the impacted areas but the issue with those flights won’t be internal Africa flights, it will be the hundreds of daily flights in and out of Africa from Western Europe and the United States.

There’s another part of Africa that is currently being impacted by the same relative lack of knowledge about distances – and that’s Kenya. The troubles in Kenya along the coast, which have quieted down substantially in the last two to three months, are hundreds and in some cases, thousands of miles away from many of the key safari destinations such as Naboisho. 

It’s a great time to head to Africa. Really. And it’s especially a great time to head to Africa with Travel On The Good – in case you want more information on why that’s true, read more here. 

We’ll Make This Quick – Cheetahs For #AfricaFactFriday

Ladies and gentlemen, don’t start your engines but instead fulfill your need for speed by considering this. A cheetah can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles an hour in 3 seconds. One. Two. Three and a cheetah is going full speed. When you visit Kenya, for example, we promise you that your safari vehicle even the best of them will be able accelerate from 0 to maybe 10 miles an hour in the same amount of time.

Where are the best places to see cheetahs now? There are four regions of Africa where your chances are pretty good. We say pretty good because any time you’re tracking an animal that can run as fast as a cheetah in a vehicle that only dreams of moving that fast, like is true with all wildlife, there are no guarantees.

However, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Eastern Africa (Kenya and Tanzania) all have fairly healthy populations. In Kenya, the range of the cheetah population has shrunk considerably over the years, but they still occupy 23% of their original territory. When one considers that cheetahs have been around for an estimated 4 million years, that’s actually not too bad.

Another quick note.

When cheetahs run, they use their tails like a skipper uses the rudder on a boat – making turning possible and quick. Cheetahs actually don’t run after their prey for great distances but slowly sneak up on them and will attack, typically, when they are less than twenty yards away.

You do the math. A slow antelope versus a cheetah that can go from 0 to 60 in three seconds over a space of twenty yards. Well, at least it will be all over quickly one hopes.

Two more fun cheetah facts – and we welcome you to share yours via Twitter and #africafactfriday. The Naboisho Conservancy in Kenya has a very healthy population of cheetahs and we recommend you consider visiting there – if you do, a portion of your trip’s costs will go directly to the conservancy and to their efforts to preserve the population there. We’re certain they’ll be quick to thank you.

Last one – cheetahs can run twice as fast as an elite thoroughbred horse. Now, we’ve never seen a cheetah chase down a horse at the Kentucky Derby but it’s interesting to think that if there were cheetahs in Kentucky, the cheetah could.

This isn’t a cheetah fact but it’s a very interesting opportunity for anyone who loves cheetahs and might be interested in a volunteer project working with these amazing animals. Our friends at African Impact have a great program in South Africa with lots of different options and some great pricing as well – here are more details.

Roar. Or What’s Your Favorite Lion Fact For #africafactfriday?

We love lions. We love watching lions hunt and we love watching lions sleep which is a good thing because the average lion sleeps 20 hours a day and then does a little walking around and maybe some hunting before they go back to sleep for another 20 hours. Like they say, it’s good to be the King.

In honor of #africafactfriday, we brought out a few of our favorite facts about lion (like the fact that they sleep twenty hours a day) and we thought we’d share them with you.

One reason that everyone loves lions more now than they used to is the Broadway musical, “The Lion King” which made Simba a household name. Simba, by the way, means lion in Swahili and that’s the primary language in Kenya which is where we highly recommend you go see lions.

Now there are a lot of lions in Kenya, but the single greatest concentration of lions in Kenya that we are aware of is the 100 member pride that lives in the Naboisho Conservancy in the Mara region. This huge pride is dominated by a very large male and we highly recommend that you visit Naboisho and see for yourself.

Now, one of the reasons that we know so much about that pride is due to the amazing work of the not-surprisingly-named Mara Naboisho Lion Project. While 54 million people have seen “The Lion King” as it has toured the world, a much smaller number of people have been fortunate enough to visit, volunteer and help out on this amazing project in Kenya. If you are looking for a place to volunteer and see lions, a lot of lions, we highly recommend contacting them.

If you are just interested in visiting Naboisho and staying at, for example, Encounter Mara, a five star camp which was named Kenya’s Best Tented Camp, we have a special way for you to do it that the lions would shake their tails in appreciation (lions by the way are the only member of the cat family with a tasseled tail.) When you stay at Encounter Mara, Travel On The Good will make a large (i.e at least 10%) donation of the cost of your trip the the Mara Naboisho Lion Project. 

You win. The lions win. Everyone wins. And then you can see a group of lions like the one in the photo above, they’ll be most impressed that you know that their back teeth are called carnassals and actually work like scissors when eating raw meat. You won’t want to saw chewing in front of the pride because everyone knows that lions don’t chew their meat actually, they swallow whole chunks of it. Which could also explain the sleeping.

If you book with us, please let us know that you want to support the Mara Naboisho Lion Project.  Email Avery for more information, avery@travelonthegood.com