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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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.

 

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

Happy Africa Foundation. Happy #africafactfriday

This week, we were happy to announce our partnership with an amazing group, The Happy Africa Foundation. HAF does really critical important work all across Africa and, in their honor, we’re highlighting some of the amazing things that they do (we’re more than impressed and are sure you will be as well.) We’re also tossing in a few more facts about the countries and places where Happy Africa operates. So let the fun facts, and the fun retweets begin!

Here are a few fun things about Happy Africa Foundation and where they operate that we’ll be tweeting out today.

In Livingstone, Zambia, Happy Africa Foundation is working to renovate and improve the Zambezi Sawmills School. In Zambia, there are a lot of schools that need a lot of help so good thing Happy Africa Foundation is stepping up. (By the way, you can donate directly to Happy Africa Foundation here if you so desire.)

If you visit that part of Zambia though, bring your umbrella because the rainforest at the base of Victoria Falls is the only place on earth that receives rain 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Further north and east, in Zanzibar, Happy Africa Foundation is helping with Nursery and Nutrition programs for children.

And, right there in Tanzania, Happy Africa Foundation is working with the Jambiani Educational English Center to facilitate English lessons and community services.

Tanzania is also home to the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, Mount Kilimanjaro. Almost every kind of ecological system is found on the mountain: cultivated land, rain forest, heath, moorland, alpine desert and an arctic summit.

In the Western Cape, South Africa, Happy Africa Foundation works Sporting Chance Street Cricket. This program brings everyone together to learn this remarkable game.

Based in South Africa, and with a lot of interesting people working there, maybe Happy Africa Foundation helps give SA the third highest biodiversity in the world?Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 9.46.29 AM

The Happy Africa Foundation planted 14 food gardens in KwaZulu-Natal in one year.

Speaking of plantings, Table Mountain in Cape Town has over 1,500 species of plants. That’s more than the entire United Kingdom.

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 9.44.57 AM

Now reading about all these places is one thing but if you are interested in going to Victoria Falls and seeing the Moonbows that happen during full moons, or if you want to visit the amazing back alleys of Stone Town in Zanzibar, travel with Travel On The Good and a portion of your trip will benefit Happy Africa Foundation.

Happy Africa Fact Friday everyone. Check out our current deals and please, email Avery at avery@travelonthegood.com with questions.

 

 

What Do Elephants Talk About At The Watering Hole?

elephant encounter maraElephants are remarkable creatures.

They’re highly intelligent, communicative, and have a sense of smell that is even better than a bloodhound’s.

Elephants have feelings, too. There have been numerous observations of empathetic and caring behavior exemplified by elephants, such as using their trunks to touch and give support to other elephants or to help their friends feel better by trumpeting sympathetic noises.

An elephant can also detect the vocalizations of their companions seismically, with their feet. When an elephant makes a noise, an exact replica of this signal is sent separately through the ground. With their sensitive feet, elephants can detect earth tremors, thunderstorms and the hoof beats of distant animals. They know which human voices represents threats and can warn each other.

Speaking of human threats, people are a huge threat to elephants in the wildlife. Due to poaching for the trade of ivory, the population of elephants is dropping rapidly. Individuals from local communities have turned to poaching due to increasing poverty and high rates of return from the ivory trade.

Can safari tourism be more valuable to local communities than poaching? Many think so. Tourism is the second largest income generator after coffee exports in Kenya. If you want to do your part to save elephants, we suggest visiting the Mara.

Book with Travel On The Good and stay at the Encounter Mara. Proceeds from your trip will benefit the Naboisho Conservancy, which supports the local community and is working tirelessly on anti-poaching efforts.

If a trip to Kenya to visit the Mara is not on your immediate to do list (although we think it is the to do list), you can still support this cause through amazing organizations such as ElephantVoices. ElephantVoices uses knowledge acquired over decades to act as a voice for elephants:

Through research, education, conservation and advocacy we promote the protection and kinder treatment of elephants whereever they may be. As acknowledged experts on the natural behavior of elephants we offer insight to protect them and the authority to speak on their behalf.

Check out elephantvoices.org to support and read more about these complex and wonderful animals.

If you are interested in visiting the Mara and doing your part to help save elephants and save on a great deal, then be sure to check out our new offer. Right now, by booking with Travel On The Good, a couple can stay at Encounter Mara for 4 nights for only $3685. For 5 nights the price is $4310. Your trip will directly benefit the Naboisho Conservancy in the Mara and their anti-poaching efforts.

If you have any questions, please contact our own elephant fanatic, Avery at avery@travelonthegood.com.

 

TGIF – It’s Time For The Very First Africa Fact Friday. #africafactfriday

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Africa is a wonderful, amazing and mind-boggling place. That’s why we think it’s the best place in the world to visit and not only should it be on your bucket list, well, we think it IS the bucket list.

And at the top of the bucket list that is Africa, you have to go on a walking safari – there’s nothing in the world like being on the ground, walking around a tree and seeing elephants on the other side. And, at the top of the African walking safari bucket list is a walking safari in Botswana at Tuli Wilderness Camp.

But first, the facts of the day. You see, every Friday here at Travel On The Good, we’re going to share three facts about Africa and then we’re going to share one amazing deal as well. Here are today’s facts and if you have a fact that you would like to share, just tweet it out using the hashtag #africafactfriday.

Did you know that there are more people with Internet access in New York City alone than there are are in the whole of the continent of Africa? And when you consider that Africa is the second largest continent, that means there’s a lot of places in Africa where it’s pretty easy to go off line.

Speaking of the grid, every single day, 25% of the earth’s sunlight falls on Africa. It’s not just the size of the continent that makes this happen, it’s also where the continent is positioned on the globe.

Finally, the Nile stretches over 6,000 kilometers from start to finish. To give this some American perspective, imagine a river starting in Boston and then going to Los Angeles and then flowing up to Seattle and over to Idaho. No wonder people call the Nile the greatest river in the world.

So what’s the deal with Tuli Wilderness Camp in Botswana? Pretty amazing.

Today, the Tuli Wilderness Camp is offering a special Botswana Walking Safari package for two people for five nights anytime between now and November 15, 2014 for only $2,000.

Email us by end of day Monday July 28 for more information on this deal. james@travelonthegood.com will answer your questions quickly. And get ready to lace up your hiking boots.

Now, since we are Travel On The Good, and we put together these amazing deals so you can have the experience of the lifetime but also so that your hard-earned travel dollars really help in the communities that you are visiting, a portion of your trip’s price will be donated to Happy Africa Foundation.  Happy Africa Foundation is a remarkable group that works in communities all across Africa, focusing on issues such as health and nutrition, education and empowering families.

For this trip, a minimum of $100 per person will be donated to Happy Africa Foundation by Travel On The Good.

If you have a great Africa fact, please post it via #africafactfriday and we’ll retweet.

If you have any questions about Travel On The Good, again, please email James at james@travelonthegood.com. If, for example, you love Tuli but really want to go to Uganda, we can help with that as well – and your trip will help save the gorillas.

If you’re ready to go to Tuli and hit the ground walking, now you know why we say that Travel On The Good is the only way to save.