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  • The Whale Trail The Whale Trail The Whale Trail is not a new trail, having been around since about 2002, but it has become extremely popular. It is truly a unique experience, perhaps comparable with ...
  • 10 Pamper-Perfect Spas in South Africa 10 Pamper-Perfect Spas in South Africa Combine your trip to South Africa with a relaxing, revitalising visit to a health spa and experience Africa at it's finest. Our favourite 10 Pamper-Perfect Spas in South Africa are ...
  • Locals share their favourite getaways Locals share their favourite getaways We ask 30 local South Africans to share their favourite holiday destinations and getaways with us. From the more popular destinations like Knysna and the Kruger Park to ...
  • The Oude Skip hike The Oude Skip hike The Oude Skip walk shares portions of its hike with the larger Karbonkelberg Traverse, which is roughly seven hours of hard walk from Hout Bay harbour to Llandudno ...
  • 10 Amazing Game Lodges 10 Amazing Game Lodges South Africa is world renowned for her game reserves and wildlife. The lodges which allow us to experience these in luxury are no less awe inspiring. Our favourites are ...
  • 101 Things to Do with Kids in Cape Town 101 Things to Do with Kids in Cape Town As much as your kids will tell you they can’t wait for the school holidays, the words "I’m bored" inevitably cross their lips. Our "101 things to do with kids in Cape Town" will ...
  • "World's most beautiful Cities" "World's most beautiful Cities" Open space makes Cape Town special. Renowned English sea navigator Sir Francis Drake once referred to Cape Town as the fairest cape in the world. The city houses the ...

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Game and Wildlife Encounters

This category includes posts and reviews about game lodges and South Africa’s fabulous national parks, nature and game reserves. South Africa boasts a huge collection of wildlife regions encompassing every possible landscape from deserts to forests … Visit SA-Venues.com for more information about South Africa Game Reserves.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

The Lesser Flamingo – Where To See Them In South Africa

A flamingo is a flamingo, is a flamingo. Plenty of these birds around. Flamingo shmingo, I hear you say?

But would you be quite so dismissive if you knew that the graceful lesser flamingo is a Near Threatened bird?

You find these light pink birds mostly in Africa, where they are said to congregate in huge numbers at Lake Natron (northern Tanzania), the Etosha Pan (Namibia), Sua Pan (Makgadikgadi Pan in Botswana) and the Kamfers Dam, just north of Kimberley, in South Africa.

Lesser flamingos spend their lives cruising between the saline lakes of Africa in search of spirulina algae, which must have as much of a positive effect as it claims to have on humans as the average five pound bird lives more than 50 years in the wild… Continued

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Five Places To See The Cape Mountain Zebra

The zebra is an African equid found on the grassy plains of Africa’s game reserves. It’s a common herbivore found in great numbers, which means it rarely gets much attention. Particularly if there is the chance of spotting any of the Big Five.

A zebra is a zebra, is a zebra…But is it?

There are three species of zebra – Burchell’s (Equus burchelli), Grevy’s (Equus grevyi) and Mountain zebras (Equus zebra) – all of them characterised by wide horizontal black and white stripes.

The function of these stripes is still open to debate. Some people think it’s camouflage, whilst others site a socialisation function by which zebras are drawn to one another, to the exclusion of any non-striped equids (horses, asses).

The Cape mountain zebra is different from the other two species, however…. Continued

Monday, 19 October 2015

The Endangered Cape Griffon Vulture – Where To See It In South Africa

The Cape Griffon Vulture (more commonly known as the Cape vulture) is a large bird; the largest of its kind in Africa.

Its size is clearly no measure of its ability to survive for the IUCN Red List lists it as Vulnerable and it is also the most endangered of the vultures; its already small population, distributed over various colonies, likely to continue declining unless conservation increases its efforts.

Called ‘Cape’ vulture because of the bird’s original commonplace sighting throughout the former Cape province of South Africa, it is today confined to a small part of south and southwest Africa.

Its population has significantly declined over the last few decades. Today there are colonies in Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique and South Africa. In Swaziland they are extinct, and only non-breeding populations survive in Zimbabwe and Namibia.

In South Africa 39% of the colonies recorded between 1987 and 1992 are now inactive.

In 2006 an estimation of the total population of Cape vultures brought the overall figures to between 8 000 and 10 000 individuals. The species is thought to have declined by as much as 70% between 1992 and 2007 in eastern South Africa. Continued

Monday, 14 September 2015

Where To See The Cape Parrot – Africa’s Most Endangered Parrot

Cape parrots are disappearing at a rapid rate.

Endemic to South Africa, the Cape parrot, or Poicephalus robustus, lives in the Afromontane yellowwood forests found mainly in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal.

Over the last 50-100 years the population has decreased dramatically. They are considered critically endangered. Only 1600 remain in the wild.

In other words, you have more chance of sighting a white rhino, in South Africa, than you do a Cape parrot.

The Cape parrot is a large bird, roughly 34 cm in height, with an average weight of 260-330g. Their head and neck colours are bright gold mixed with dark brown, their backs and wings are dark green, their rumps and underparts bright green, sometimes with a hint of blue. The females sport an orange-red blaze across the crowns of their heads… Continued

Monday, 23 February 2015

Amazing Facts About South Africa’s Wildlife

South Africa is a land abundant in the weird and wonderful, beautiful and a little strange at times. There are around 300 mammalian species in South Africa alone, as well as hundreds of amphibians, insects, reptiles, and bird species. With this variety and scope, it is no wonder that some of the animals found in South Africa have some peculiar characteristics… Continued

Monday, 8 December 2014

10 best places to see wild dogs in South Africa

Probably the most distinctive feature of the African wild dog is its big, round ears. They’re nothing like a domestic dog’s.

They’re nothing like a wolf’s either, yet this beautiful Cape hunting dog, or painted dog as it’s also known, is given the Latin name Lycaon pictus, meaning ‘painted wolf-like animal’, because it is closest in nature to a wolf.

Their hide is different from a dog’s too – covered with irregular patches of black, brown, red, white and yellow fur. Wild dogs have a black, furrow-like vertical line on the forehead between the eyes that is rather endearing. And they have only four toes per foot, unlike the five toes of domestic dogs.

Catching a glimpse of one is difficult. The wild dog is southern Africa’s most endangered large carnivore, and has all but disappeared from most of its original range… Continued

Friday, 24 October 2014

South Africa’s elusive aardvark – 7 places to see it

The aardvark. The only surviving member of the prehistoric species Tubulidentata.  It looks like a rabbit crossed with a piglet and a kangaroo, and is sometimes called an African antbear, or a Cape anteater.  Actually, its name comes from the Afrikaans meaning ‘earth pig’ or ‘ground pig’, due in no small part to its habit of burrowing under the ground to avoid the heat of the day (they only come out at night).

Despite its name, the aardvark is not even vaguely related to the pig, nor the South American anteater, despite looking fairly similar (only smaller). In fact, its closest living relatives are elephant shrews, dassies, elephants and tenrecs (a Madagascan animal that resembles a hedgehog, shrew or mouse).

So, if you’ve managed to spot an aardvark in your life time, I’m impressed… Continued

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

South Africa’s peace parks – top 5 parks that transcend borders

Peace parks, also known as Transboundary Protected Areas (TBPA), allow animals to migrate freely between neighbouring countries in a return to their natural migration patterns. They promote tourism and goodwill between neighbouring countries.

It is also a potential tool to save a deteriorating ecology. Once parties or countries involved realise the importance of biological diversity, they are more likely to co-operate.  Environmental cooperation, in turn, can help resolve political and territorial conflicts. Sharing physical space and management responsibilities sustains peace among countries.

Real-life examples of such successes include the Seslous-Niassa Wildlife Corridor, and the Emerald Triangle conservation zone in Indochina.

But the bonus for visitors is the increased access to a greater variety of game, and far greater variety of wildlife habitats.

South Africa has eight peace parks, and one in the making. All are worthy of a visit. Here is more on 5 of them: Continued

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

South Africa’s four small wild cats – where to see them

The big cats in South Africa receive a lot of attention. In fairness lions, leopards and cheetah deserve the focus; most of these top predators are in danger – we live in their space, we hunt them illegally and kill them when they prey on livestock.

But South Africa is also home to four smaller cats – the African wild cat, the black-footed cat (now known as the small spotted cat), the caracal, and the serval. To this list I wanted to add the civet and genet but they are not, in fact, cats at all. Instead they belong to a family known as Viverrids, related to the mongoose and meerkatContinued

Monday, 2 June 2014

South Africa’s rare Riverine rabbit – 7 places to see it

One of the most endangered mammals on Earth, the riverine rabbit is found only in the Karoo.

There are thought to be less than 250 of these rare creatures left. And few people can claim the privilege of having seen one. Found mostly in dry riverbeds in the arid, central Karoo in an area that has been almost completely converted to agriculture, the riverine rabbit is under pressure to survive.

None of its traditional habitat has, up until now, been protected within a national or provincial nature reserve. The rabbits are found only on private farmland, private reserves or in isolated pockets of no more than 50 rabbits in a number of areas in the Western Cape… Continued

Monday, 26 May 2014

10 top places to see leopard in South Africa

The leopard: a solitary creature that because of its preference for living in dense bush, and its nocturnal habits, remains well hidden and seldom, if ever, seen earning it the labels: secretive and elusive.

They are strong, comfortable in trees, and adept climbers who think nothing of hauling their kill up into branches. Closely related to lions, tigers and jaguars they are listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. Outside of Africa, many of them are endangered.

There is a long history in South Africa of conflict between farmers with live stock and leopards. There is also little information about leopard populations or their conservation status.

Tourists who come to South Africa expecting leopard interaction are disappointed.  Whilst numerous places offer up close and personal moments with elephant, lions and cheetah, leopards very seldom put in an appearance for photo moments.

On the whole, a bit of sleuth work might pay off if you intend spotting a leopard.

But you are more likely to see leopard in South Africa at one of these 10 places: Continued

Monday, 12 May 2014

Where to see the Big Cats in South Africa

South Africa’s big cats – the lion, leopard and cheetah – are the reason so many people visit South Africa. However spotting them is not always as simple as visiting a game reserve, particularly if you want to see the leopard, who is by nature elusive.

Game reserves are for those for whom the excitement of seeing the cats in their own territory, whether you spot them or not, is all important. Whilst for those who want to see cats up close and personal, the sanctuaries and rehabilitation centres are a good idea. Continued

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Five Safari Breaks Near To You

All my life I had read Wilbur Smith novels, watched programmes like 50/50 and National Geographic (filmed right in my backyard) and craved the experience of the “bush.” I was a city boy though. So though I craved the experienced I never made the effort to get out there – thinking I could just satisfy my thirst with another chapter / episode or magazine. The truth of the matter is that the real wonder of a South African safari can hardly be done justice through pictures or the written word. It has to be experienced first hand,

Last year I gave in and headed out to the Kruger National Park, the largest game reserve in the country, and came back a different spirit. To be right alongside these majestic creatures, to smell the, to witness them feeding – be it on leaves or a fresh kill (equally exhilarating), playing with their young and going about their daily lives was incredibly special. I remember my wife and wishing that all South Africans would get the opportunity to witness what we had. And the truth is, we all can. Continued

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Top 5 wildlife parks in South Africa (other than Kruger)

South Africa has 700 publically owned reserves. The list includes 19 national parks. Over and above that are at least another 200 private reserves.

Making a choice as to which ones to visit can be rather difficult. As a consequence most visitors simply head to the Kruger National Park – it’s an obvious choice.

South Africa is hugely diverse. It’s habitats range from the intense heat and red sand dunes of the Kalahari to the subtropical wetlands of the Elephant Coast. It has great swathes of mountain belts like the Drakensberg and the Cape Fold Mountains, densely forested kloofs, heaving waterfalls, and savanna grasslands that extend to meet the horizon.

Within this medley are a myriad protected areas that house game.

We list the five wildlife parks in South Africa we consider worthy of a visit, and why… Continued

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The elusive Knysna elephants – do they exist?

It is a bit like tracking down the Yeti, or Big Foot – trying to find out about the Knysna elephants. Information about them is inadequate, tends to lapse into lengthy descriptions about their history, or is shrouded in mystery.

There are those who say they are so elusive that, if indeed they are there, they have yet to make their presence known.

Very little is conclusive about them. As a result, they have become figures of myth and legend; a mystery. Some people believe they do not exist at all… Continued