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. 

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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.

Africa Travel Trends – What’s Up?

Travel Pulse just posted an interesting article on the 6 hot new travel trends for Africa. We agree with them but want to add two more.

With the Baby Boomers having a safari at the top of their bucket list, and they should right? We believe that you’re also going to see people come back to Africa more in the past. Why? Well, for a large number of tourists, especially Americans, they don’t fully understand the African travel experience until they’ve been there at least once.

For example, travelers to the Mara in Kenya will have seen amazing pictures of safari goers out on foot in the bush – it’s not till they’ve been there do they realize that these pictures were taken inside private conservancies like the Naboisho Conservancy where the guides from camps like Encounter Mara will take you out for long walks on the private land.

Nor do first time visitors realize what a difference it makes to go to Uganda and see the gorillas or how far away and how amazing a place like Namibia is from say, the Mara in Kenya.

What other Africa travel trends are out there? Well, you tell us in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.

 

UPDATE:

There are some last minute specials now available from Travel On The Good to go to the Mara this year for the amazing migration of animals (August and September travel.) Please email james@travelonthegood.com if you are interested.