2016 Is The Year To Travel On The Good.

At this time of year, you often see the major travel magazines or newspaper travel writers bring out their must see places of the year – like this one from the Telegraph in the UK.

Here at Travel On The Good, we fully support traveling in 2016 and we hope that all your travel dreams come true but we’d like to add one more consideration to where you go and that’s whether or not your travel dollars are really doing as much good as they should.

Now, we are not a fan of boring vacations – we want you to go to the absolute best places. Our top list starts with Kenya, then Cape Town, and we’re huge fans of Northern Laos, Burma, and Costa Rica but when you go, just make sure you and everyone in the place you’re visiting get the most for your money.

We learned a valuable lesson a few years back in Zambia, in South Luangwa to be precise where the most remarkable Flatdogs Camp is (another of our favorites and to be honest the single best safari camp in Africa for kids.)

Many of the camps in the area were working with and supporting and help Project Luangwa. But I was most surprised and shocked to discover that not all of them were. Some of the camps even refused to give as little as $5 a night to the project (and remember, we’re talking rates of $500 – $700 per night.) What I realized then is that the same quality of safari was available from a great camp that truly supported the local community (and helped with conservation and anti-poaching and a few other minor details) as it was from a camp that didn’t.

Our resolution for 2016 is to help keep shifting some of the everyone’s travel budget from the companies, lodges and camps that actually do good from the ones that only talk the talk. (Watch out for our special TravelTurfing series where well, we’ll slam people who don’t live up to their green hype.)

Travel and seeing the world is an amazing blessing – we’re all about the journey. We just hope you’ll join us in traveling with the right people because as you know, that makes all the difference.

 

 

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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. 

Should You Safari With Kids? A Thousand Times Yes.

I first took my kids to Africa when my son was eleven and my daughter was seven. We visited Cape Town and then had the experience of a lifetime going up to Flatdogs Camp in South Luangwa region of Zambia (still to this day one of my favorite camps in Africa.)

It was a trip that changed their lives, and mine. I watched as their eyes opened in wonder at seeing their first elephant. I saw them appreciate nature in a way that they never had at home. They got wonderfully used to waking up before dawn, going to bed under the stars and understanding when the electricity went out or if their first choice wasn’t available at dinner.

We brought school supplies for a local school and wandered through the towns near the national camp. There wasn’t a piece of technology in sight and it was an incredible trip.

When we returned, it got even better.

Both of my children kept asking about Africa, about the camp and about the guide who had taken us around. They soon started asking about when we were going back and my son wrote down a list of the animals that he still wanted to see – with a cheetah at the top. We were fortunate enough to be able to return to Zambia last summer and on that trip, a cheetah ran right by us on our last drive.

Once upon a time, safari camps didn’t really cater so much to kids and some still exclude them. More and more, however, camps are not only welcoming children but also there are increased activities for them. I can’t imagine a better family vacation. I am still partial to Flatdogs I confess, but there are camps where you, and your family, will have an amazing experience in virtually every locale at this point.

So grab the kids, and paper and pencils, and head to Africa. I promise you that you will never regret it. I am happy to directly answer any questions about traveling there with kids, just email me at james@travelonthegood.com