Posts Tagged ‘Camp’

Canoe trip at Algonquin Park

Canoe trip at Algonquin Park

Canada offers a wide variety of National Parks. In the summer of 2012 I visited Algonquin. Its size (almost 8,000 square kilometres), combined with its proximity to Toronto and Otawa (5 hour drive from both locations) makes Algonquin one of the most popular parks in the entire country.

The essence of Algonquin is in its more than 2,400 lakes, its unique mixture of forest types and the wide variety of environments, that allows it to support an uncommon diversity of plant and animal species.

Algonquin is an amazing place for doing canoe trips. Its large variety of camping sites and lakes allow you to have the feeling of being alone in the wild.

Our trip lasted for 3 nights and we had the best guides: our friends Sarah and Gonzalo that live in Toronto and visit the park each time they can. We rented the equipment at the Portage Store in the Canoe Lake.

At a Canoe trip you have the chance of getting close to the wildlife (we saw Deers, Bears, …), swimming in beautiful lakes just for yourself, hiking and walking well marked trails, enjoying the sunset while preparing dinner and singing songs and eating marshmallows around the camp fire ­čśë

If you prefer it, you can stay at a resort as Algonquin Park is the only park of Ontario to allow industrial logging. You will find very few of them though.

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To learn more about Algonquin, visit:
http://www.algonquinpark.on.ca/
http://www.ontarioparks.com/learntocamp/online_resources.html
http://www.algonquinmap.com/online.html

Photos by Pedro Sag├╝├ęs

Londolozi: My best Safari experience

Leopard at Londolozi. Photo by Pedro Sag├╝├ęs

Londolozi: My best Safari experience

I have already written about the places I liked the most for going on a Safari in Africa (Namibia, Tanzania and Botswana) and I posted a quick guide to choose the best Safari in Africa. I want to end my series of posts about Safaris in Africa with the one that I liked the most: Londolozi.

Londolozi is a Private Game Reserve situated in South Africa, in the heart of the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, which is part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a huge area that also includes the famous Kruger National Park. The main reasons why I consider Londolozi my best Safari experience in Africa are the following:

  • Variety of animals: In my previous experiences in Africa, it has never been so easy to spot such quantity and quality of game.┬áIn Londolozi, the “Big Five” are almost guaranteed: Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo and Rhino (consider in such way for the difficulty in hunting them and the degree of danger involved).
  • Leopards: Londolozi is probably the best place in Africa to spot wild Leopards. There is a great story behind the relationship between the Varty family (owners of Londolozi) and the leopards, to the point that they are considered part of the family.
  • Driving experience:┬áThe game drives are guided by a trained ranger, who works closely with a local tracker to find the animals you want to see. The electrical 4WD cars are adapted to enjoy the wildlife without disturbing them. Off road and night drives are permitted.
  • Ecotourism: Everything in Londolozi is oriented to protect and enjoy the wildlife. In fact, the root of the word┬áLondolozi is the Zulu word for protect and means┬áÔÇťprotector of all living thingsÔÇŁ.
  • Accommodation and service: you can stay at any of the Londolozi’s five lodges, that vary from the family oriented to the more romantic ones. Founded in 1926, Londolozi has been managed by the same family for generations. The service is, like in many lodges in Africa, excellent.

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To know more about Londolozi, check out their blog, twitter and website
Also check out this amazing video that Londolozi has just released:

Living with Elephants in the Okavango Delta

Living with Elephants. Okavango Delta. Photo by Pedro Sag├╝├ęs

Living with Elephants in the Okavango Delta

Botswana is one of Africa’s top safari destinations. In fact, its national parks and game reserves protect almost half of its territory: a fenceless wilderness that allow animals to roam freely.

Botswana host different fascinating places. The best known are:

  • Chobe National Park, probably the most affordable and crowded park, known for the hundreds of hippopotamuses and crocodiles that live together on the Chobe river and its animal migrations and moving safaris. I visited it in 1998 in my way to Victoria Falls. In my oppinion it was just OK allthough many people like it.
  • Kalahari Salt Pans, absolutely magical, stunning and unforgettable huge isolated area full of treasures that I was lucky to visit in 2009 and which I have written an article in this blog. A photographers dream!
  • Okavango Delta: a unique patchwork of environments: waterways, lagoons, forest and savannah grasslands that flows in the middle of the Kalahari Desert, the largest continuous stretch of sand in the world. A fascinating source of life in a country that is 80% arid.

Okavango Delta

In this article I want to focus in the Okavango Delta that, together with Moremi Game Reserve, placed in its heart, host wonderful game and safari camps. However, most of the Okavango’s small camps lie outside Moremi, in their own private wildlife reserves. In my latest visit to this delta I stayed at Stanley’s Camp, a tiny and intimate lodge that borders the southern section of Moremi and is located in seasonal delta so the area around the camp changes with the seasons from lush green to dry savannah. The flood waters arrive in June, though there is often navigable water all year round.

The area around camp is rich with excitement: on game walks, day and nighttime drives, and mokoro excursions gliding soundlessly through the waterways allowing you to get close to the wildlife. This is one of the best places in the world for seeing buffalo in large numbers. In fact, our car was attacked by one of them. It usually never happens, but the buffalo was still scared by a previous lion attack.

Living with elephants

Finally, close to the camp you can enjoy the unique and unforgettable “Living with Elephants” experience. A learning adventure were you accompany a semi-habituated trio of elephants on daily foraging treks. An excursion that transform your understanding of elephants to a deeper and more personal level.

Other useful articles:
The best places in Namibia
The best places in Tanzania
The best Safaris in Africa
Jack’s Camp in Botswana
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Photo credits: Pedro Sag├╝├ęs.

Best Safaris in Africa

Lion at Selous National Park. Photo: Pedro Sag├╝├ęs

Best Safaris in Africa

As you already may know, I love photography, animals and Africa. For the last 25 years I have had the chance to visit many National Parks and Private Game Reserves. My friends often ask me to help them choose the safari in Africa that better suits their needs. That is the reason why I have decided to write this article: to try to bring some light on your decision making process.

The decision of going to Africa is often inspired by the passion and spirit of movies like “Out of Africa” or the excitement and wilderness of the National Geographic documentaries. Experiencing this depends on the following aspects:

Which country do I visit?

Almost all of the countries in the southern half of Africa offer the chance of enjoying wonderful safari experiences. This aspect is important in terms of:

  • Vaccinations against diseases such as Malaria or Yellow Fever. Vaccines can cause side effects. Therefore, some people decide not to get vaccinated and take precautions against mosquito bites. For further info, visit Center for Control of Diseases and Prevention.
  • Landscapes: Africa offers different amazing landscapes, from the savannah grasslands of Kenya, to the gorilla forests of Central Africa, the untamed woodlands of Zambia, the waterways of the Okavango Delta and the dunes of the Namib Desert.

Public National Parks or Private Reserves?

  • Usually, the wider and larger variety of animals, the more popular and crowded a Public National Park will be. In places like Serengeti (Tanzania) you can enjoy three different prides of lions in one day… but together with ten more cars full of tourists. The popularity of a park usually brings more limitations to the game drive (you may not be allowed to go off road, drive at night, have breakfast in the savannah…).
  • Private reserves are more expensive, exclusive and offer you a higher game drive experience. You usually drive with a professional ranger and a local tracker, so the chances of spotting animals increase. Private reserves have a limited number of cars allowed at the same time, so you rarely see other tourists.

For further information, visit http://www.game-reserve.com/, a website with useful information about the different parks and reserves in Africa

What kind of Safari?

There are multiple ways of experiencing wildlife. All of them are very safe (otherwise, very few people would go on a safari). These are some of the most common:

  • Game drive: You usually do two game drives a day. A 5h30m drive in the morning (from 6am to 11:30am) and a 3h30min in the afternoon (from 3pm to 6:30pm). This is the most common and easy way to spot animals. You can move fast and get close. The car makes a huge difference. The worst scenario is driving in a regular van with windows and roof. The best would be 4WD with no roof or windows and completely adapted for enjoying the game drive.
  • Night game drive: Predators get more active at dawn so the night game drives can get more exciting. Animals are not that difficult to spot because the light of the rangers’ torch reflects into their eyes. Few parks offer these drives, especially those in Zambia and South Africa. Night game drives are more uncomfortable (it gets cold and you get more mosquitoes) but are more exciting (the sense of hearing sharpens, allowing you to enjoy the sound of the African night).
  • Walking safari: This is definitely an exciting experience. Although animals are very difficult to spot (they usually avoid humans), you are accompanied by an armed ranger just for safety reasons. Walking safaris are the perfect way to discover the wildlife: learn about animal tracks and sounds, spot birds, learn the secrets of the bush…
  • Canoe excursions: It gives you access to places unreachable by other modes of transport: quiet backwaters, floodplains and shallow sandy channels. The silence of the mokoro (canoe) allows you to get close to wildlife. The Okavango Delta (Botswana) is the place to go although you can enjoy great canoe excursions in Zambia, south Tanzania, … .

What kind of acommodation?

You can choose among various options:

  • Hotel: you will find them in the most popular National Parks. It is similar to placing a Sheraton in the middle of Africa. Not too romantic but very comfortable.
  • Camps: for people who demand exclusivity and privacy. It is an all included service so prices are per person, starting at 125$ and reaching 1.500$ per night. You usually sleep in a luxurious tent on raised teak platforms, in the middle of the bush. Although it is safe, at night you are not allowed to walk alone. They usually have a dining area overlooking the savannah, a swimming pool, a cocktail bar, a wildlife reference library and a campfire, where guests and rangers share stories about Africa. Even if it’s not as comfortable as a hotel, this would be your choice if you have enough of a budget and are looking for a luxurious and exclusive African experience.
  • Overland: the perfect option for people with a low budget willing to experience an adventure in Africa. It is a way of travelling through Africa via road, with a group of like-minded travelers. Overland vehicles are custom built and designed to deal with travel conditions in Africa. Most overlanding is based on camping adventures. For more info, visit Overlanding Africa or Kananga (if you’re in Spain).

Which time of the year should I go?

It depends on which part of Africa you go, but basically, you can differentiate two seasons.

  • Dry season: From April to October are the cooler winter months which have lovely warm days but cold nights. Traditionally, the best season for game viewing as the vegetation becomes sparse and water is restricted to rivers and artificial waterholes. In my opinion, the best time to visit Africa is from June to November.
  • Wet season: it starts in November and ends in March. The dry bushland comes to life after the rains, as well as the insects, with an abundance of wild flowers. The game becomes harder to see as numerous waterholes fill up and the foliage becomes thicker.

My recommendations

I hope you found this article useful. During the next weeks I will be posting my recommendations of the best parks, reserves and camps in Africa. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact me should you have any question. I will be very glad to help you.
-Update- Check out my article about the best places in Namibia
-Update- Check out my article about the best places in Tanzania
-Update- Check out my article about the best places in Botswana
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Photo credits:┬áPedro Sag├╝├ęs
Most of my trips to Africa are organized by “Patricia Gallo – Tailor Made Tours