Visas are often viewed as difficult or confusing since there are many different requirements, methods of application and types of visa to choose between, before even applying for one. Some countries may require you to pay for a visa and then sometimes in US Dollars, sometimes in their own currency. Some countries require proof vaccination against yellow fever and some do not. Please don’t be deterred from a trip of a lifetime by seemingly complicated visa arrangements.
This blog has been created from researching the latest and most up to date information for visa requirements throughout Southern Africa, to make travel as simple and stress free as possible. We will be publishing another blog on visa requirements for East Africa soon.
The following information is correct at time of publication, however it is always best to contact the respective representatives in your country for full up to date advice prior to travel.
South Africa is Africa’s most visited country and the home of Beat About The Bush. There have been a few alterations to South Africa’s travel requirements in the past few years, so even if you have visited the Republic many times it is always worth ensuring you are up to date with the latest information.
Upon arrival in South Africa passport holders of certain countries will be granted a visitors permit for travel in the Republic of up to 90 days. Here is a list of passport holders who will receive this visa.
The requirements for entry to South Africa are as follows:
Usually tourist entry to South Africa is granted for a full 90 days but it is advisable to check your stamp before leaving the immigration desk that you have been granted enough time for your full trip.
Here is the link to the South African Home Affairs website: http://www.home-affairs.gov.za/index.php/countries-exempt-from-sa-visas
SOUTH AFRICAN IMMIGRATION LAWS REGARDING CHILDREN ARE APPLICABLE ALSO IF ONLY PASSING THROUGH THE COUNTRY TO A DIFFERENT DESTINATION.
Sanctuary Retreat's Chief's Camp, Okavango Delta
All citizens of countries that are part of the Commonwealth (except those from; Bangladesh, Cameroon, Ghana, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) can enter Botswana without a visa. On arrival you are granted a permit allowing you to stay up to 30 days in the country.
Here is the full list of countries exempt from needing a visa for Botswana.
The requirements for entry to Botswana are as follows:
Here is the link to the Botswana Home Affairs website: http://www.gov.bw/en/Visitors/Topics/Before-You-Go/Before-You-Go1/
Usually entry to Botswana is granted for the full 30 days but it is advisable to check your stamp before leaving the immigration desk that you have been granted enough time for your full trip.
Here is a list of the countries whose citizens will need a visa either granted online, on arrival or beforehand at a mission in their country. The Zambian tourist visa lasts up to 90 days. A single entry visa to Zambia costs US$50.00 per person and must be paid in cash. Bank notes that are older than 2006 will not be accepted and it is advisable to have small notes as this value can change and change will not be given.
Zambia is one of the countries paving the way forward for visa services by making it possible to apply for your visa online prior to arrival. Once granted approval you must enter the country within 90 days of your approval letter, otherwise you must make another application. Apply online here: https://evisa.zambiaimmigration.gov.zm/#/
You will enter your basic passport information and details of your itinerary including addresses of your lodge and hotels whilst in Zambia.
Please note that the KAZA UNIVISA is not available online.
Processing time can take a few days to a working week and you will be emailed an approval letter. This is what you will present to the immigration officer upon arrival in Zambia to grant you a visa and this is when you do your payment. Commencing on 9th March 2018 it is now possible to pay for your e-visa securely online with most credit or debit cards.
Usually entry to Zambia can be granted for 90 days but it is advisable to check your stamp before leaving the immigration desk that you have been granted enough time for your full trip.
Here is a list of countries that will be granted entry to Zimbabwe upon arrival and payment of visa fees. A single entry visa to Zimbabwe may cost up to US$50.00 per person. Bank notes that are older than 2006 will not be accepted and it is advisable to have small notes as this value can change and change will not be given.
Zimbabwe also offers visa applications online prior to arrival, although please note that the border officials have the right to deny entry to any persons regardless of their possession of an e-visa. Once again you’ll complete the application online and you will only pay for your visa when you have arrived in Zimbabwe. The average time to wait for an e-visa is two days. The e-visa is valid for 3 months from the date of issue. Apply for your e-visa here.
Please note that the KAZA UNIVISA is not available online through Zimbabwe’s e-visa scheme.
Usually entry to Zimbabwe is granted for 30 days but it is advisable to check your stamp before leaving the immigration desk that you have been granted enough time for your full trip.
Zambia & Zimbabwe
The KAZA UNIVISA was first introduced in December 2016. It is one visa which allows entry to both Zambia & Zimbabwe and available on arrival to citizens of eligible countries at these certain ports of entry . It costs $50.00 per person and allows for multiple entries for up to 30 days providing the holder remains in Zimbabwe or Zambia. It also covers Day Trips to Botswana via the Kazangula Border, only.
The KAZA UNIVISA is not available online. Here is a list of the countries whose citizens are eligible for the KAZA UNIVISA.
Here is a list of countries that are exempt from visa requirements to Namibia, for these visas.
Usually entry to Namibia is granted for 90 days but it is worth checking your stamp before leaving the immigration desk that you have been granted enough time for your full trip.
London has overshot its air pollution allowance for the year, for the eighth year in a row, before the start of February. This has taken more time than the previous year when it took less than a week to break the allowance. This is just one of the news items that appear in headlines that spur the safari industry to become more sustainable and to protect the untouched beauty of the habitats and the wildlife within them that guests come to see.
In this, the second of our sustainability blogs, we will focus on East Africa. Properties in the spotlight are Little Governors’ Camp in Kenya’s Maasai Mara and Singita in the Grumeti & Northern Serengeti of Tanzania.
Governors’ camp switches to solar
Little Governors’ Camp is smaller than its larger sister, Governors’ Camp. Built in 1976, it comprises 17 tents near the Mara River in the north-eastern part of the Maasai Mara Reserve in Kenya. It is only accessible by a boat trip across the river, with vehicles left behind on the bank, exhibiting the value Governors’ place on peace and tranquillity for their guests.
The tents surround an active watering hole that is visited regularly by elephants and the camp’s resident warthog family, that are known to walk between the tables at mealtimes!
In 2017, the camp was converted to run completely on solar energy. By installing solar panels on the roofs of the staff accommodation, the camp’s back-of-house operations and all guest needs are met by the power of the blazing African sun. Each guest tent also has a solar water heater discretely placed behind the tent.
The camp has a “carbon counter” at reception that records how much is saved by turning to solar energy.
Earlier in the year Governors’ had also made big moves to reduce their plastic use, following a ban on the use of plastic bags in the country. If a person is caught with a plastic bag the penalties can be harsh.
Governors’ also invested in reverse osmosis water filtration systems providing guests with clean drinking water that does not need to arrive at camp in plastic bottles.
As is the trend with many African camps now, each guest is given a refillable metal water bottle on arrival. There are water refills around the camps and each tent has glasses with their own filtration system too. This also allows the camps to use fine hand-blown glass jugs to fill guests water glasses at meals instead of plastic bottles. Little Governors’ have also changed their bathroom amenities packaging. The rooms have all the locally made organic luxuries expected and they are now in metal dispensers rather than plastic.
Singita Wildlife fees introduction
At the end of 2017 Singita changed their policy regarding Tanzanian Government wildlife and conservation charges. They had been paying these amounts on behalf of all guests from their accommodation charges, but with their conservation programs in the region becoming more successful and more opportunities emerging that require extensive funding, this policy has changed. As with other wildlife areas in the region, these government charges will now therefore be charged to visitors – applicable only to new bookings.
Wildlife fees are paid for every person and vehicle that enters a designated Wildlife Management Area in Tanzania. The fee is paid to the Community Wildlife Management Areas-Consortium. Recognised by the government in 1998, the consortium ensure that the rich wildlife and natural areas of the country are protected, managed and are of benefit to the local communities surrounding them.
Some of the things the organisation has achieved to date include; uniting communities in the Wildlife Areas, giving them a stronger voice to bring to discussions with government; attracting tourism investment of over 4.3 million USD to 12 different Wildlife Management Areas and bolstering the anti-poaching efforts by training local scouts and providing them with the power to make lawful arrests.
In 2003 Singita was granted custodianship of the 350,000 acres of the unique Grumeti reserve in the western Serengeti National Park. The animal numbers in the area had been severely depleted by poaching, wildfires and invasion by alien species. In the years since the area has nearly returned to it’s natural state.
The full works of the Singita Grumeti Fund are worthy of a whole blog post of their own and so we will keep it concise here.
The Singita Grumeti Fund has five main areas of focus; Conservation, Anti-Poaching & Law Enforcement, Community Outreach, Research & Monitoring and Relationships and the occasional special project also.
They have achieved the following “highlights”:
By far the majority of the inhabitants of traditional safari areas are Christians who celebrate Christmas as the biggest holiday of the year! However, this time of year in Africa (as with the rest of the southern hemisphere) is quite different to the typical and traditional roaring fires, snow-clad landscapes with snowmen, decorated trees and heavy meals of countries in the northern hemisphere that celebrate the holiday. Another big difference is that in Africa it is still primarily a holiday where the commercial aspect has not overshadowed the religious significance.
For rural folk, there are no ‘traditional’ carols or festivities and the decorating of trees and exchanging of gifts is not the norm. In urban environments, commercialisation of the holiday has however taken hold and in the weeks leading up to Christmas you will find widespread use of decorations, lights, trees and carols in shopping precincts with everybody marketing ‘gifts’ for Christmas.
What therefore makes Christmas ’special’ for us at Beat About The Bush? Here is a list of some of our favourites!
1. In common with most other countries, this is the year’s most important family occasion and we enjoy getting together with all our family members – immediate and extended – and friends for get-togethers where we can catch up and have no pressing work issues……taking a break from the constant connectivity and communications of the rest of the year.
2. Being the height of the local summer, this is a best time to spend long lazy days on the beach or at the pool, braaing (BBQ) almost every day and not to forget the obligatory ‘sundowners’ with excellent local gins. We then keep the fires going into the evenings where the odd roasted marshmallow and Amarula goes down a treat!
3. The rains have started (generally) and after a long, dry winter it is wonderful to celebrate the regeneration and rebirth of the land as grasses and leaves sprout, migrant birds return central and north Africa, Europe and Asia. The days are filled with vibrant birdsong and colourful flowers, and babies of every kind are born. The air is filled with energy and all life flourishes as the land is more bountiful.
4. The spectacular rain clouds and storms create a vibrant electricity that is exciting to witness. Wonderful sunsets, the smell of rain in the air and sparkling landscapes after a downpour make for magical memories. Few people from the northern hemisphere can understand how exciting the rain in Africa is. Not only does it bring new life, but it is desperately needed for agriculture and filling dams on a water-parched continent. Those who have experienced a true African thunderstorm will understand. Often only lasting half an hour, 100mm (4 inches) can fall accompanied by deafening thunder and blinding lightning.
5. Food, food everywhere! Christmas food is not the normal affair here in Africa. Turkey, for example, is the exception rather then the rule and given that it is likely to be 100-110F, a hot meal is just not appealing. A poolside braai (chicken, lamb chops and local boerewors sausage), cold cuts or some delicious local fish with salads is more likely while for dessert we have hot fruit cake with custard and ice-cream and trifle (layers of jello, custard, cream and chocolate & nut flakes on a bed of sherry soaked finger cookies). Small pastries with spicy fruit ‘mince’ - called Christmas Mince Pies – are also an institution here!
6. Celebrations at the lodges. The staff at the lodges will always make an effort to make Christmas in Africa memorable for visitors. Decorations are generally subdued but there will be ‘African’ trees with decorations and certainly the atmosphere and Christmas day are different in terms of the menus and ‘occasions / events’ on offer. You will certainly be made to feel like part of the family if on safari at this time.
7. This is the season of giving and it is wonderful to see how people open their hearts (and wallets) in order to support a good cause or those in greater need than themselves. There are many truly deserving charities to donate to over the Christmas season here in Africa. Giving is a big part of what this season is about and an enormous difference can be made in Africa. For example, sending Christmas presents through a reputable charity or donating to an aid organisation that protects rhinos are some of the many options.
8. An atmosphere of excitement and enthusiasm. We love this time of year as most people are off work and a laid-back holiday atmosphere prevails where there is no rush, people are polite, jovial, accommodating and cooperative. It is a time of outdoor activity, picnics, games and sports and a lust for all things fun! But perhaps above all the children are so excited with their countdown to Christmas day and the arrival of Santa (Father Christmas here) and the gifts they may get – depending on how good they have been…..if only we had this as a disciplinary tool throughout the year!!
We hope you will have a wonderful Christmas / Holiday period wherever you are and however you celebrate this time of year
In recent news President Donald Trump has denounced, via his twitter page, his own political party for their plans to remove the ban prohibiting imports of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe.
This highly contentious topic is so multi-faceted it is hard to make sense of, so here we will try to give a simplified view of both sides of the discussion. The ban has been halted to both Zimbabwe and Zambia but we’ll mainly focus on Zimbabwe. To keep matters simple we will not mention lion trophies in this article, we’ve spoken about the illegal trade of this species in a previous blog post.
To start it is important to know an elephant trophy is not a specified item. It can be the head or any other part of the body, for instance the tail or a foot of the animal. Many people in the US are not aware that the import of ivory into the US is lawful providing the correct documentation proving it is a sport-hunted trophy is provided. Sport-hunting of many animal species in Africa – including elephant – is legal. However, onward sale of the trophy once in the US is not allowed.
In 2014 the Obama administration banned the import of elephant trophies from both Zimbabwe and Zambia. This was due to their poor records of elephant data and numbers and regulation of the hunting industry. A survey of the African continent’s elephant numbers published in 2016 showed the declines in population numbers in both countries. Zambia had a decrease in population numbers of 11% in the decade from 2005-2015, with one National Park’s numbers declining from 900 in 2004 to just 48 in 2015. While Zimbabwe had the second highest population number on the continent in the recent census, the decline was 10%. These percentage declines are greater than the replacement number of breeding elephants (about 6%), and so the total population in each country is declining. The African continent’s total elephant population numbers dropped nearly 30% from 2007 to 2014 – with the total now standing at an alarming 352 000. Causes are thought to be mainly poaching for the illegal wildlife trade and in some cases, habitat destruction.
The reason the import ban into the US is so important is because it is the largest importer of trophy hunted animals in the world today. Within that industry from 2005 to 2010 2,963 violations were documented for the import of sport hunted trophies to the country. Just over half were relating to endangered species with only 14 people serving jail time and 546 having to pay fines from $25 to $390,700. With these figures of prosecution there is reasonable chance that a trophy that violates import law will not result in more than a minor fine and so may propagate the illegal wildlife trade.
The country with the biggest illegal ivory trade in the world is China. In recent years this country was the largest importer of trophy hunted ivory from Zimbabwe. Many are sceptical that this is not a part of the illegal wildlife trade for which China is infamous.
Both Zambia and Zimbabwe have proposed to the US Fish & Wildlife Services (USFWS) that they now have the numbers, the correct means and plans to monitor and maintain their elephant population numbers. This is what led to the Obama-era ban being lifted and the USFWS starting to sell permits for elephant trophy imports from these countries.
President Trump has paused the removal of the ban, and thus stopped trophy permit sales, for both countries and many wonder why his administration had gone so far in the plans with him seemingly unaware of the facts.
Trophy hunters have been unhappy about the ban the Obama administration introduced. Conservation force, wrote an open letter in June 2017 to the Director of the USFWS to request that the importing of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe should become lawful. The letter was written to appeal the import two specific trophies and they argue that the original ban was “based on erroneous information and misinterpretation of fact and has been from the very beginning”. They have said that the lack of data from Zimbabwe at the time of the decision was due to the US not asking for it and say it was provided after the fact with no reaction.
This letter also lays out the basis of the “hunters as conservationists” argument. The hunters provide money to the areas in which they hunt and so to the communities, they provide employment in the industry. A trophy hunt to kill an African elephant can be up to $60,000, in a country where the average monthly earnings is around $350.00. This amount is more than a photographic tourist would pay to visit the area, meaning the number of tourists and the impact on the environment is less.
The money is said to not only serve the local communities but also allows large swathes of the continent to be protected natural areas for the animals, areas that are not part of the national parks.
Not every animal in a herd will be shot, in fact for trophy hunting they will choose an animal at the end of it’s life, partly for the most impressive trophy, but also as this will have the least impact on the ecosystem.
However removing the strongest and biggest animals from the population is contrary to evolution and hunting, with poaching has impacted the gene pools of the populations. The best elephant trophy is the largest with the biggest tusks. This individual will most likely be the most dominant in an area and likely to mate with the most females and pass on superior genetic material. If this male is killed before he has fulfilled his mating potential then there will be less of his genetic information in the gene pool and more of smaller, weaker individuals. This happens repeatedly until there is very little of the ‘large’ genes left and the effects can be seen within the elephant populations now after the big game hunting days of the 1900s.
The other important aspect of killing the mature bulls is the impact on the younger bulls. These trophy bulls will be in their late 40s, 50s and even 60’s. They have decades of experience from which younger bulls learn. The social experience is highly important in the same way it is for young humans to learn to behave, learning manners, when to get upset and when not to. There is also ecological knowledge they pass on, for instance where the water is found in a drought and how to get there. Removing that knowledge affects the next generation; it will be damaging to the whole population and eventually will have a drip down effect for years to come.
Responsible hunting farms will be sure to manage their populations correctly and ensure the surrounding communities benefit from the business, but the problem comes in with corruption. Africa is rife with corruption and when companies from America try to apply the systems and principles that apply in the US it often falls flat of achieving the desired effects. The systems in Zimbabwe, which are in place to ensure the communities receive money from the legal hunts are in fact managed, whether deliberately or not, so poorly that the local people only occasionally benefit from the hunts. With the local people being so poor and gaining nothing from the elephants but trouble with crop damage, there is little wonder that so many turn to poaching to feed their families.
This is a debate that will no doubt continue into 2018 and we will keep you updated on developments and the repercussions thereof.
In November the latest global carbon emissions report for 2017 was released. For the first time in 3 years the global carbon output increased. China is the largest contributor to the increase. The drought in the region is thought to be the cause, due to reduced energy contribution from hydroelectric power. But China is not the only country to have affected the level of these emissions; the USA and the EU both have seen lower than predicted decreases in emissions.
Whilst these figures are mostly related to large-scale industry, we can all do our best to decrease where we can. As such we have been inspired to show you how the safari industry is ensuring that their operations and visitors have the smallest carbon footprint possible, thus mitigating the negative impacts on the environment, wildlife and local people. It is important to state from the outset that there is a big difference between CONSERVATION and PRESERVATION – two terms that are often confused and this creates problems when environmental and wildlife issues are debated.
Preservation is quite simply a ‘hands-off’ approach where there is no input, management or ‘use’ of a resource (be it fossil fuels, water, wildlife or a habitat or environment in general. In other words, for a wildlife area there would be no infrastructure, tourism activities, interventions or management of any kind.
Conservation, on the other hand, is the ‘sustainable utilisation of a natural resource’. Safari tourists staying at safari lodges and wanting park rangers to help sick or injured animals are therefore intrinsically part of a conservation system and cannot then as an example, argue against culling of wildlife.
This provides food for thought and as such, this will be an on-going series as we receive news from different operators about their evolving systems and methods as new technology plays a role in new and upgraded lodges, hotels and camps and revamped legislation for ’greener and carbon-neutral scores’ is brought to bear on the industry.
In this post we will look at two camps in the Okavango Delta region of Botswana, a country renowned for its pioneering sustainability and conservation methods.
Botswana has long been concerned with the protection of its spectacular wilderness areas.
A leader in the field of conservation, their method is simply to have a small high-end tourism industry. Keeping the effects on the pristine landscape to a minimum while generating high income allows for local communities to support themselves via employment with operators. This also helps to prevent poaching as the community members’ livelihoods are now directly linked to the animals’ survival. In 2014 hunting was controversially banned nationwide, demonstrating President Ian Khama’s dedication to protecting endangered species, their habitats and one of the most unspoiled regions in the world.
This high-end tourism is one of the three pillars of the economy, contributing heavily to the country’s prosperity. Beat About The Bush Tourism has always been committed to only sending our guests to operations in the Delta with proven environmental and community-focused track records.
Here are two of our favourites:
Chief’s Camp – Sanctuary Retreats
Chief’s camp is located on Chief’s island, the largest island in the Okavango Delta named for historically the sacred hunting grounds of the Batawana Chiefs. When the floods come every year, the island is at a level above the water, many animals come here to escape the water; it is the Okavango Delta as you see in nature documentaries.
The camp has recently been renovated and adds the sustainability feather to its cap. Luxury has in no way been compromised, there is wi-fi, fan and air-conditioner available in each room along with a private plunge pool for the hot summer days. If you book the new Geoffrey Kent luxury suite you will enjoy a butler, private chef and an outside boma to sit undisturbed under the stars.
The key feature of the newly renovated camp is a solar farm – replacing the noisy, polluting diesel generators (now used as back-up). Built to handle the camp’s electricity requirements, the farm is large enough to support the majority of the camp’s energy needs. The solar batteries charge during the day to ensure there is electricity through the night.
The effect of the solar farm is not simply removing a generator and diesel usage. Now there are no delivery trucks coming through to bring oil and gas for the generators. Decreasing the number of vehicles driving through this wetland wonderland – thereby reducing environmental impact with less tyre ruts that disrupt the flooding patterns and make the area look unsightly for years to come.
Chief’s camp also has a new and very efficient, eco-friendly and self contained sewerage system to ensure that all water is cleaned before being used as ‘grey water’ or released through a wetland. It goes without saying that all detergents and cleaning products are eco-friendly and plastic water bottles have been replaced with refillable bottles from water dispensers.
Sanctuary Chief’s camp YouTube video
Vumbura Plains Camp – Wilderness Safaris
Wilderness Safaris is originally from Botswana and they are leaders in the field of conservation and sustainability. This will not be the last of their camps to make our list!
With 11 of their camps now operating on 100% solar energy they are dedicated to preserving the pristine and beautiful surroundings for generations to see. They operate with a policy they call the 4C’s; Commerce, Conservation, Community and Culture.
Vumbura Plains Camp is located in the northern Okavango Delta and is in fact separated into two camps, one more family friendly. Each room is luxurious and is raised off the ground with a plunge pool and your own deck to watch the stars at night or the world (and maybe even some animals) pass by during the day.
The camp is run fully on solar electricity, with batteries for the night and enough power for each room to have a hairdryer. This solar power also provides hot water for the entire camp.
Vumbura’s conversion to solar energy is particularly relevant as it was the second largest energy consumer in the Wilderness group.
The solar farm reduced the need for deliveries of oil and gas and as such the impact to the environment via soil compaction and disturbance to the environment is diminished.
They have an above ground sewage plant that ensures all water used, grey and sewage is cleaned completely before it is released back to the surrounding environment.
Vumbura also offer guests water bottles that are refilled from water dispensers in the camp reducing plastic waste.
South Africa is world renowned for its wine and for good reason. However, the Western Cape’s Wineland region is not just about the vineyards. The area is a rich tapestry of culinary delights, beautiful scenery and family fun. Less than an hour from Cape Town, the Winelands are easy to access and the perfect accompaniment to a Cape Town city break. There is plenty to do and we recommend taking several days to explore the region thoroughly and soak in its relaxing atmosphere if you can. There is no need to rush a good wine.
Beat About the Bush Tourism Services can organise a visit to the Winelands as part of your tailor made safari. Alternatively, we offer a food and wine safari that incorporates both the Winelands region and big game areas in South Africa and Zimbabwe, thus ensuring that guests can indulge in the best cuisine and the best wildlife sightings Southern Africa has to offer.
Here are our top 10 places to visit in the Winelands region:
1. Franschhoek Motor Museum, Franschhoek
The Franschhoek Motor Museum offers visitors a special opportunity to look back at more than 100 years of motoring history with its unique and exciting collections of vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles and memorabilia in the magnificent setting of L’Ormarins.
2. Delaire Graff Winery, Stellenbosch
The Delaire Graff Estate, nestled between majestic mountains and overlooking the vineyards of Stellenbosch, has outstanding restaurants, a state-of-the-art winery, exclusive lodges, exuberant landscaping, a destination spa and luxury boutiques. It is well worth a visit to the estate for its art displays, flower gardens, wine tasting and stunning views.
3. Muratie Winery, Stellenbosch
Tucked into the exquisite Knorhoek Valley north of Stellenbosch, Muratie Wine Estate protects a century’s old wine experience that is a magnet for wine lovers around the world. The farm itself dates back to 1685 when it was granted by Governor Simon van der Stel who was Governor of the Cape of Good Hope at the time. This makes Muratie one of the oldest estates in South Africa and along with that age comes many characters and truly fascinating stories. This winery’s history and old-world feel are kept alive at Muratie Wine Estate and shared with visitors.
4. Fairview Farm and Winery, Paarl
Fairview is a working farm, housing a collection of micro-businesses all sharing in a common goal – to create artisanal and sustainable produce, with a focus on fine wine and cheese. It is a great place for family fun. With a wonderful restaurant, a shop and deli, cheese tasting, beautiful gardens and a goat tower, there is something for everyone.
5. The Spice Route, Paarl
The Spice Route brings together artisans in a family friendly restaurant and shopping environment. From chocolate making, beer brewing and glass blowing to a selection of tastes from all corners of South Africa, the Spice Route is the perfect pace to learn about new crafts, sample foods or buy gifts. With a play area, picnic spot and demonstrations, it is also wonderful for children.
6. Babylonstoren, Paarl
Dating back to 1692, Babylonstoren is a historic Cape Dutch farm that boasts one of the best preserved farmyards in the Cape. Beloved for its magnificent garden that is laid out over 3,5 hectares (8 acres), the garden is divided into 15 sections that comprise fruit, vegetables, berries, bees for pollinating, indigenous plants, fragrant lawns, a prickly pear maze, ducks and chickens, and more. A secluded path runs along the stream where thousands of clivias flower in spring. The garden also boasts a plethora of trees of historical and botanical import. Every aspect of Babylonstoren – including the contemporary Farm Hotel & Spa, the Farm Shop and Bakery – are led by the ever-changing tapestry and botanical diversity of the garden.
7. Waterford Winery, Stellenbosch
Waterford Estate is situated in the picturesque Blaauwklippen Valley. Only half of the total 120 ha of land is used for planting of vines, in order to preserve and maintain the natural fauna and flora on the Estate. The winery offers a relaxing setting where guests can sit and enjoy various tasting options including the Wine Drive Safari and Porcupine Trail walk. The Wine and Chocolate Tasting is a unique flavor experience. Chocolatiers have created a series of dark and milk chocolates that, when paired with the winery’s Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Natural Sweet wine, results in a flavor sensation unlike any other.
8. Van Ryn’s Brandy Distillery, Stellenbosch
The Van Ryn’s Distillery, housed in a beautifully preserved historic complex on the banks of the Eerste River, is the only brandy distillery in Stellenbosch. It is also home to some of the world’s best brandy. Here visitors can learn about the origins of Van Ryn’s dating back to 1845. See the burnished copper potstills and watch skilled craftsmen at work at the on-site cooperage. Find out how we potstill our brandies, mature and blend them. Sample international award-winners and pair them with a carefully selected range of artisanal delicacies, from confection and estate coffee to cheeses and charcuterie. Taste three award-winning brandies paired with hand-made Belgian chocolate and Brazilian coffee for a luxurious indulgence.
9. La Motte Winery, Franschhoek
Situated in the beautiful Franschhoek Valley, La Motte is home to the finest wines, recognised internationally for exceptional quality. With its picturesque setting, traditional cuisine and historic charm, La Motte is an enchanting choice for those who appreciate the finer things in life. The estate boasts an art museum, a sculpture walk, a hiking trail, a farm shop, wine tasting and an exceptional restaurant. It is also a venue for classical music concerts.
10. Backsberg Estate Cellars, Paarl
Steeped in family history, the Backsberg Estate’s philosophy is to provide pleasure and enjoyment to a broad range of wine lovers by producing wines not only with structure and finesse, but also with a high level of “drinkability”. The estate embodies this welcoming ethos with stunning views of the Simonsberg Mountains, a tasting room, and a restaurant situated under the trees in the estate’s beautiful gardens. Children can enjoy the gardens while parents relax.
Animals captivate children. The opportunity to see wildlife up close on safari is not only an extremely rewarding experience but also an educational one. Global travel and viewing animals in the wild is an interdisciplinary learning experience; children learn about biology, conservation, morality, geography, cultural diversity, and develop important life skills like patience and cultural acceptance. A family safari is also an incredible opportunity for families to bond and reconnect away from computer screens and the hubbub of everyday life.
Despite these benefits, taking children on a long trip across the world may seem like a daunting prospect. But if you pick an appropriate destination and consider children’s needs and pace, a family safari can be a stress-free magical experience that creates lifelong memories.
Although safaris can be great for all ages, we recommend that they are most appropriate for children age six and older as it meets some lodge’s minimum age criteria and this is an age where kids will get the most out of the experience. With two safari-loving children of his own, Beat About the Bush founder and guide Trevor Carnaby, knows exactly how to engage with children on safari. We recommend hiring a private vehicle so your family can decide exactly how long you want to stay at each sighting, how long you are out in the bush for, and to get a more personalised experience.
Planning is the key to success. Not all safari destinations cater for children, making it difficult to figure out where to start. The Beat About the Bush staff have the knowledge and experience to tailor a trip that will fit your family’s needs. We can advise you on everything from health considerations to fun activities for kids in Cape Town. While we take care of the planning, all you need to do is watch the Lion King one more time and pack your bags.
Here are some of our favourite family friendly safari destinations in South Africa:
The Kruger National Park in northeastern South Africa is arguably the best-known of Africa’s great wildlife sanctuaries. A unique feature of the park is the inclusion (no physical barrier) along the western border of private conservation land into a mega-park called ‘Greater Kruger’.
Kwandwe Private Game Reserve
Kwandwe Reserve is situated in the malaria free wilderness to the northeast of Port Elizabeth in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province and is arguably the region’s finest big game viewing area. Families can take part in a range of Eco-nect activities which are aimed at involving both parents and children with nature. Families are even given the opportunity to plant Spekboom, a type of native vegetation, which makes a positive environmental impact on the area.
Madikwe Game Reserve
The malaria free 150 000 acre Madikwe Game Reserve is situated in the North West Province of South Africa. Madikwe offers the Big Five and is considered one of the best places on the continent to see African wild dog – the second most endangered carnivore in Africa.
Tswalu Kalahari Reserve
This is South Africa’s largest private game reserve, covering an area of over 220 000 acres and home to a plethora of rare species and stunning landscapes. Children visiting Tswalu can take part in the Tswalu Junior Ranger programme which is carefully designed to meet the enthusiasm of a broad age range. Activities are varied but include archery (beginning with making your own bow and arrows), spoor identification and casting, as well as tracking on foot.
Please feel free to get in touch if you have any queries about taking children on safari or if you would like to chat about planning your family’s safari adventure.
*Warning: this blog post contains images that some readers may find disturbing.
Lions represent an essential part of the African landscape. As an apex predator, they help maintain healthy ecosystems by keeping prey numbers in check and removing diseased or weak individuals from prey populations, thus improving the overall health of these species. Lions are also of vital economic importance. As a member of the Big Five and a must-see on most tourists’ wishlists, lions and other iconic species are fundamental to South Africa’s tourism success. The total contribution of travel and tourism to the gross domestic product (GDP) of South Africa was R 402bn (9.3% of GDP) in 2016. The travel and tourism sector accounted for 1.5 million jobs or 9.8% of total employment in 2016.
In June 2017, South Africa announced the legalised export of 800 skeletons (with or without skulls) from captive bred lions to Asia a year, sparking controversy from conservationists and safari operators who suggest that this decision may threaten lions and jeopardise the tourism industry.
Similar to rhino horn, the demand for lion bones is stimulated by traditional medicinal uses in Asian countries. Unlike many other species in traditional Asian medicine, the use of lion bones is a relatively new trend that only became public knowledge about a decade ago. Powdered tiger bones have been used as ingredients in wine for at least 1000 years. Tiger bone wine and cake is believed to have aphrodisiac qualities and cure malaria, arthritis, other bone ailments and rheumatic conditions. No scientific merit has been associated with these claims. Following a steep decline in wild tiger populations, the species received greater protection measures, including a ban on all trade and stricter law enforcement. This provoked the use of bones from other big cats as viable substitutes, including lions, leopards, snow leopards and clouded leopards, with lion bone being the most popular due to their physiological similarities to tigers and the relative ease in accessing bones from South Africa.
South Africa is the largest exporter of lion parts to China, Laos PDR and Viet Nam, with bones originating as by-products of the canned hunting industry. In South Africa, between 6000 and 8000 lions and 280 tigers are kept in captivity. Lions are primarily farmed for canned hunting (animals are bred and raised in captivity to be released into the ‘wild’ a short time before a hunt is planned). Paying hunters often keep the skins and sometimes the skulls as trophies. The bones, previously discarded, have now become a source of commercial income and are legal to trade internationally up to a certain quantity with the correct permits. It is probable that tiger bones and lion bones are passed off as one another depending on the sellers availability at that time.
Wild lion numbers have declined by 43% in past two decades to an estimated 20000 lions in Africa today. This decline is largely associated with habitat loss but conservationists and leading tourism operators fear that legalised trade in captive lion bones may stimulate further declines in wild populations and discredit South Africa’s reputation as a photo-safari destination. Limited trade in lion body parts bred in captivity is legal but trade in body parts from wild lions is not permitted. Permitting some trade in animal parts can fuel market demand which may lead to poaching of wild lions and tigers, especially since wild animals are preferred over captive felids in traditional medicine. Examples of illegal poaching for lion bone have already been recorded. In early July 2017 three lions were poisoned with Temic laced baits in Limpopo National Park, Mozambique for the lion bone trade.
For more information about the lion bone trade, we recommend the following reports:
Cape Town is affectionately called the ‘Mother City’ and we love our Mama! In 1580 on seeing the Cape for the first time, Sir Francis Drake wrote in his journal: “This cape is the most stately thing and the fairest cape we saw in the whole circumference of the earth.” We couldn't agree more.
There is so much to do and see in Cape Town that you could easily stay for an extended period. To give the city and its surrounding area justice, we recommend planning at least three nights here. Beat About the Bush organises superb accommodation and provides tailor made professional tours of Cape Town for our guests.
Here are our top ten things to see and do in and around the Mother City.
1. Take the revolving cable car to the top of Table Mountain.
The five-minute cable car ride carries you to the summit of Table Mountain, 1089 m above Cape Town, gently rotating 360 degrees for spectacular views along the way. At the top there are places to sit and soak in the incredible scenery as well as hiking trails to explore.
2. See the penguins at Boulder’s Beach.
Get up close with an African penguin colony at Boulder’s Beach near Simon’s Town. The penguins can be viewed throughout the year, however January is a great time to visit when the juvenile birds are moulting on the beach.
3. Take a walk or have a picnic in Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.
Part of a larger nature reserve and melding in with the natural environment, Kirstenbosch has a huge variety of flora to explore both outside and in greenhouses. There are over 7000 species in cultivation at Kirstenbosch, including many rare and threatened species.
4. Drive to the tip of the Cape Peninsula at Cape Point.
Cape Point is well worth a visit. This world heritage site and nature reserve within the Table Mountain National Park is at the tip of the Cape Peninsula 60 km southwest of Cape Town. A drive to Cape Point not only offers stunning views but also an abundance of flora and fauna. Cape Point teems with buck, baboons and Cape mountain zebra as well as over 250 species of bird.
5. Visit the Company’s Gardens.
The Company’s Gardens is the oldest garden in South Africa. It has its origins in Jan van Riebeeck’s vegetable garden, which he grew to feed the original colony. This large public park and botanical garden is right in the heart of Cape Town and it has a rose garden, Japanese garden, pond, aviary, and a permanent craft market. There is often local live music being preformed.
6. Sample the exquisite wines of the Cape Winelands.
About 40 kms east of Cape Town, the Cape Winelands are a collection of historic towns, little hamlets and Cape Dutch farmsteads that provide well-regarded South African wines to the world. With stunning scenery and culinary delights, a visit to the Winelands is a must.
7. Soak up the culture of Bo-Kaap.
Bo-Kaap is one of the most photographed areas within Cape Town due to its brightly painted architecture and cobbled streets. The area is one of the oldest residential areas in Cape Town and it has a rich multi-cultural history with roots in Malaysian, African, Indian and Sri Lankan cultures. You can delve further into Bo-Kaap’s vibrant history by taking part in walking tours, mosque visits and museum visits.
8. Get up close to the great white sharks of False Bay.
Cape Town is famous for its great white shark population. Get out on the water on a shark breaching trip. Shark breaching is one of the hunting techniques that great whites use to surprise and kill its prey. The shark propels right out of the water from the incredible force and energy exerted.
9. Go museuming!
Cape Town is filled with fantastic museums. We recommend the District Six Museum to learn about the history of forced removals in District Six and the Gold of Africa Museum to learn about South Africa’s history of gold mining and smithing. In September 2017, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) will open its doors (pictured above). Zeitz MOCAA will house Africa’s largest collection of contemporary African art.
10. Watch the noon day cannon fire.
Since 1806, a shot has been fired from a cannon on Signal Hill at noon as a time indicator. The tradition is still alive today and the shot is loaded by the South African Navy and heard by residents daily. The noon day gun is Cape Town’s oldest lasting tradition and visitors and invited to watch the process of shooting the gun while they gaze out at beautiful views of the city.
Today marks the end of South Africa’s first online rhino horn auction. The three-day auction opened on August 23rd amidst an onslaught of publicity and controversy.
The auction follows the legalisation of domestic trade in rhino horn within South Africa earlier this year. International trade in rhino horn was banned in 1977 by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) and remains prohibited today. However, domestic trade of rhino horns remained legal in South Africa until 2009 when the South African government imposed a moratorium on domestic trade in response to a rise in rhino poaching. This remained uncontested until private rhino breeders filed a lawsuit to overturn the domestic moratorium and on April 5, 2017, they succeeded by winning a court case against the South African government, thus legalising the domestic trade of rhino horn within South Africa once again.
John Hume, the world’s largest rhino breeder who owns more than 1500 rhinos on his private farm, led the court appeal with safari operator, Johan Kruger. Hume also launched South Africa’s first online rhino horn auction, which is coming to a close today. Hume regularly de-horns his rhinos through a painless procedure. De-horning is done to deter poachers and has resulted in Hume stockpiling approximately five tonnes of rhino horn. This week’s auction aims to sell 264 rhino horns, totalling about 500 kg. Hume will also host a physical rhino horn auction on September 19, 2017. Rhino products can be sold to international buyers but the horns must remain within South Africa. All rhino horns are microchipped, DNA traced and entered into a national database to prevent illegal trafficking. Buyers and sellers of rhino horn are required to apply for government issued permits.
South Africa is home to the world’s largest population of rhinos but is in the midst of a severe poaching crisis. Rhino horn is illegally harvested and trafficked to mostly Asian markets for traditional medicinal use. See our blog post on rhino poaching for more information.
Hume argues that the auction will “raise money to further fund the breeding and protection of rhinos”. Money raised from the auction will contribute towards the spiralling security costs required to protect his rhino population. He believes that by farming rhinos as a ‘renewable resource’ (after dehorning, rhino horn grows back to its original length in two or three years), the market could be flooded (whenever international trade bans are lifted), thus reducing illegal poaching pressures.
Many conservationists are opposed to the domestic sale of rhino horn within South Africa and argue that because there is little use or demand for rhino horn nationally, purchases may ultimately end up being trafficked to international markets. Legalisation of rhino horn trade within South Africa may serve as a cover for black market sales internationally and further fuel rhino poaching by creating a surge in demand that cannot be met. There are concerns that the measures put in place to track the horns and keep them within South Africa may be counterfeited and in partnership with corrupt officials, horn will be illicitly traded internationally. Advertisements for the online auction and the auction’s website were translated into English, Mandarin and Vietnamese, further provoking suspicions. Some conservationists argue that rhinos should not be farmed, as the current population of privately owned individuals cannot meet the high product demand on a regular basis. Instead, efforts should be focussed on protecting rhinos in the wild. The opposition has been so severe that hackers closed down Hume’s auction website for several days prior to the auction’s launch.
As the auction comes to a close later today, the world waits to hear the outcome and its implications for international rhino conservation.