All posts by admin

The Big Five and friends: Farside Africa’s guide to the best and least known safari animals.

The Big 5 – When people talk about safaris they often talk about the ‘Big 5’ but what animals are they and why are they considered the most highly prized viewing out of the great many wonderful animals that you can see on safari?

The Big 5 are the Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino and Cape buffalo.

So why (you may ask) is the hippo, giraffe or even zebra not included? The Big 5 has nothing to do with size, rarity or opportunity to see. The term actually dates back to the days of the ‘big-game’ hunters and the list was created based on how ferocious the animals could be. Fortunately that is in the past and the term is now used by tour operators and guides to introduce visitors these wonderful animals living in their natural habitat in the safety of the wildlife reserves and national parks.  Seeing the Big 5 is always a highlight for visitors to Africa on safari, however your guide will introduce you to a wealth of other amazing animals, insects and birds that are just as exciting and awe inspiring.

The Little 5

The Little 5 was created by guides and conservationists who wanted to showcase the smaller and more elusive species in the African wilderness.

The Antlion is found in sandy areas and as a larve, it burrows in the sand lying in wait for a passing ant to fall into its sandy pit. It’s then seized by the sickle-like jaws of the antlion and the contents sucked from its victim.

Once it has fed enough to sustain it, the antlion forms a cocoon and transforms in to what is commonly known as a doodlebug which in turn lays its eggs in the sand and the circle starts again.

The Leopard tortoise is only tortoise not to have a nuchal shield (the protective scute above the neck). This means the leopard tortoise is the only tortoise that can raise its head, and as a result, is able to swim.

The leopard tortoise stores water during the dry winter months in a “bursa sac”. This reserve is used for hydration and also to moisten the baked ground, to make it easier for the female to dig a nest for her eggs.

The elephant shrew is an insect eating mammal with a long nose (hence the name).

Found in Africa, they’re known as sengis and aren’t in fact related to shrews at all, but are a species on their own. Often found in rocky areas quite shy and not often seen as they’re well camouflaged and very fast!

Rhino beetles are part of the largest species of beetles in the world reaching 6cm in length. They are part of the scarab family and aptly named because it has horns on its head much like a rhino.

The buffalo weaver is a common bird which is often seen in acacia trees and dry savannahs of eastern and southern Africa.

 

 

To see these amazing animals in their natural habitat contact us on 0131 315 2464.

 

How your dream holiday helps fulfil the dreams of Zambian children and their familes

For over 20 years the charity Project Luangwa has been raising funds through the generosity of the local lodges, and tourists that visit the area to build a brighter future for the children and the communities of the remote Nsefu area of South Luangwa, Zambia.

When you visit Luangwa you get to see the wealth of wildlife and the beauty of the landscape.  Your journey from Mfuwe airport out to the lodges gives you a first-hand picture of the colourful daily life of the people of Luangwa Valley, as they walk or ride bikes along the side of the road, chat and greet friends and neighbours, and the small children as they run by and play games.  The exotic smells and buzz of the open air fruit and vegetable markets, and small shops, selling everything from cotton shirts to car tires gives you a real flavour of life in the area.

Project Luangwa started out as a way to coordinate the community work that was already being done by safari lodges in the Luangwa Valley. The 5 local safari operators teamed up to manage all the projects they’d set up to support the community – using the charity to plough the funds raised through tourism back to the people in the most efficient way possible.  Today Kafunta Safaris, Lion Camp, Flatdogs Camp, Robin Pope Safaris, Croc Valley Camp and Shenton Safaris all work together raising the vital funds to enable Project Luangwa to go into the local communities and help some of its most vulnerable people through the projects and initiatives set up by the lodges.

The charity now helps over 150 secondary students with school fees and provides funding to help train local teachers. The women’s workshop teaches sewing skills and employs local women enabling them to become self-sufficient and care for their families.  In addition, the girls’ and boys’ clubs give local kids a place to develop self-esteem and life skills. None of this would be possible without generous funding from the lodges, and the kindness of the guests who stay there – giving local people a chance to fulfil their potential and thrive.

If you are planning a visit to the Luangwa Valley, please ask your lodge about Project Luangwa or visit www.projectluangwa.org.  Through your support, many Zambians have had their lives transformed.  You can also follow the charity on Facebook www.facebook.com/projectluangwa/ for up to the minute news and stories about what’s happening at Project Luangwa.

The South African Springboks

The Springbok is a type of antelope that inhabits open plains, grasslands, scrublands, deserts and semi-arid areas of South Africa.  They’re very fast – reaching speeds of up to 60 miles per hour!

As herbivores, they live on grass, leaves, flowers, roots and tubers.  Their natural enemies in the wild are cheetahs, leopards, hyenas and lions but uncontrolled hunting (because of their meat and skin) and the construction of the fences (which prevent seasonal migrations) have led to a drastic reduction in the number of springboks in the wild. Fortunately the number of springboks is now stable and they are not listed as endangered.

Springbok facts:

  1. South Africa played its first rugby international in 1891, but it was not until they toured Britain in 1906 that they became known as the Springboks. Nelson Mandela intervened to save the Springbok emblem after the ANC came to power in the country’s first democratic elections in 1994.
  2. The male is noted for its “pronking” – leaping 6.5 to 9 feet from the ground into the air so that all four feet are off the ground.
  3. Springbok has pocket-like, flap of skin on the rump which conceals white crest. The white crest can be seen whenever springbok detects predators and sends message to other members of the group.
  4. Springboks form different types of herds: mixed herds (one dominant male with numerous females and their offspring), nursery herds (females and infants) and bachelor herds (young males).
  5. Springboks can mate all year round. Most babies are born during the rainy season, when food is abundant. Pregnancy in females lasts 5 to 6 months and ends with one baby which remains hidden in the bush or tall grass during the first few days of its life. At the age of 3 to 4 weeks, young springbok joins nursery herd with its mother.

Great all-inclusive family deals to Mauritius!

Book your family a holiday to remember at the beautiful Victoria Beachcomber Resort & Spa in Mauritius. Flying on 22nd June 2020, stay 12 nights in a deluxe room on an ALL INCLUSIVE basis. 2 adults & 2 children (under 12yrs) with choice of FREE land & watersports. Airport transfers in Mauritius included. Prices start from £4,910 per family depending on departure airport. Subject to availability.

For more information on our special offers contact Vicky on 0131 315 2464.

Zambia 2020 – FREE INTERNAL FLIGHTS offer!

Zambia 2020 – FREE INTERNAL FLIGHTS offer! Stay 4+ nights at the luxury Sausage Tree Camp or enjoying the seclusion and adventure of the Potato Bush Camp in Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park and receive free internal flights to/from Jeki, Livingstone, Kafue, Mfuwe & Lusaka.  T&C’s apply. Minimum of 2 people travelling. Valid on all new bookings for 2020 season  (1 April – 30 November 2020).

For more information contact Vicky on 0131 3152464.

Mashatu launches its new Euphorbia villas at world-class Botswanan eco-camp.

Experience Mashatu and immerse yourself in the beauty of Botswanan wilderness.

Mashatu have announced the launch of their spacious new luxury eco villas. The 8 new private villas are set high on a cliff overlooking the ravine below with spectacular views of the Majale River.  The villas team luxury with sustainability – hosting a maximum of 16 guests.  Dine in a boma of up-lit euphorbias and enjoy the beauty of the Mashatu Game Reserve with expert guides on hand to show you the incredible wildlife.

Safari at Mashatu offers far more than the traditional vehicle game drives.  Here you can enjoy horse-back safaris, cycling, and walks in the wild.  The waterside photographic hide also give guests the opportunity to get a thrilling close up view and is a must whether you are a keen photographer or simply love wildlife.

Hidden gem – The Mashatu Game Reserve is 29,000 hectares (72000 acres) of privately owned land in the conserved wilderness area known as the Northern Tuli Game Reserve. Tucked away in the Eastern most corner of Botswana, the open plains, grassland, riverine forests, rocky hills, marshland and majestic sandstone ridges are a feast for the eyes and a haven for wildlife.

Mashatu shares unfenced borders with both the South African and Zimbabwean national parks to the south and north, which forms part of a cross boundary wildlife conservation area protecting the region’s rich game and incredible biodiversity of fauna and flora.

The perfect blend of comfort and luxury, Mashatu offers an authentic wildlife experience with a choice of accommodation from their family friendly lodge, the intimate bush experience of the tented camp or the privacy of the new Euphorbia villas, and whatever your preference, your stay at Mashatu will be unforgettable.   The new Euphorbia villas begin welcoming guests from June 2020, with bookings now being taken.   For more information contact Vicky on 0131 315 2464.

Amazing Zambian ‘carnivore’ safari special offer and FREE FLIGHTS!

Amazing Zambian ‘carnivore’ safari special offer and FREE FLIGHTS (Lusaka/Mfuwe/Lusaka) for ANY 3+ night stay in South Luangwa valid for the rest of 2019 with Robin Pope Safaris! The flight offer is offered on ‘Carnivore Week’ – save US$912pp  on the 7 night special interest safari (starting 21st November 2019) tracking large carnivores with the Zambian Carnivore Programme (ZCP).  This is a fascinating week with the researchers and an insight into the conservation efforts to save these magnificent cats, it includes game drives and walking safaris.

Don’t miss out on this great safari offer. For details of this and other great special offers contact Vicky on 0131 3152464.

FREE FLIGHTS!

Book 4 nights at Campi ya Kanzi and get your flight free to/ from Nairobi, Kenya – saving £650! This great offer is valid for new safari bookings from October 1 – December 15 2019 and from January 10 – March 31 2020. Don’t miss out on this great safari offer at this luxury tented camp.

For details and other great special offers contact Vicky on 0131 3152464.