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!

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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.

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.

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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.