Category Archives: Inspiration

Discover the secrets of the mighty Victoria Falls

One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World – Victoria Falls is the world’s largest curtain of falling water.   The 1,700 metre wide cascade of water plummets 110 metres down to the lower Zambezi River.  This awe inspiring sight also forms the spectacular border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Evolution theorists believe that the falls were formed around 100,000 years ago, when the Upper Zambezi River flowed across the plateau, finding and forming cracks in the softer rock, eventually creating a series of gorges.

Victoria Falls’ local name is “Mosi-oa-Tunya” which translates to “The Smoke That Thunders” – which is spot on.  This name was given to the falls by the Kololo tribe that lived in the area in the 1800s.

Dr David Livingstone was the first European to see the falls in 1855. The Scottish missionary and explorer had heard many tales of the thundering, smoke like waters on the Zambezi and he finally arrived before them on November 16, 1855.  Livingston stood on a small outcrop on the edge of the waterfall (which was subsequently christened Livingstone Island) and named the Victoria Falls in honour of Queen Victoria.

The magic of the Victoria Falls puts it firmly on the must see list but what other extraordinary secrets does it hold?

The Zimbabwean side of the falls will offer you the best view of the famous curtain of water.  Here you will also find the Victoria Falls Rainforest, which is home to a breathtaking range of unique plants and animal life.  Listen out for the strange calls of the resident birdlife including the child-like cries of the Trumpeter Hornbills echoing through the rainforest.  There’s also the cute Schalow’s Turaco.

This beautiful bird is mainly green but with a blaze of red feathers which show from under its wing when in flight.  It also has a funny little Mohawk making it easily recognisable with its red eyes and beak. You may also spot the small fast flying sunbirds among the many colourful and varied species found in the region.

It has its very own rainbow!  As the sun shines through the mist created by the falls it forms an almost ever present rainbow.  Even at night, the reflection of moonlight on the water creates what is referred to as a ‘Moonbow’ or ‘Lunar Rainbow’.  When the moon is full, this can last from sunset to sunrise.

If you visit between the months of September to December, you can enjoy a dip in the world’s most exciting infinity pool!  During this time water levels drop and as a result, you can swim to the very edge of Victoria Falls in this naturally formed pool, the Devils Pool, and look down into the gorge below. Other activities around the falls are bungee jumping off the bridge, gorge swings and the world famous white water rafting.

 

Victoria Falls facts:

  • While it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, it is classified as the largest, based on sheer volume of water.
  • During the wet season an estimated 5,000,000m³ of water pours over the falls every minute.
  • The water depth at the base of the falls is 70 meters (229 feet).
  • Fish live in the river above and below the falls. The river is home to 39 species of fish below the falls and 89 species above it.
  • The Victoria Falls Bridge was the vision of Cecil John Rhodes but he died before its completion.

 

 

The Okavango Delta

One of the world’s unique natural wonders, the Okavango Delta in Botswana is the world’s largest inland delta.  With 15,000 square kilometres of lush wetland, game–rich safari, flourishing eco-system and amazing birdlife – it really is a must-see destination for wildlife lovers seeking an adventure.

Sourced by southern Africa’s third largest river, the Okavango, the Delta contains over 150,000 islands. Many of these islands are just a few metres wide while some of the larger islands can be up to 10 km. The largest is Chief’s Island, at around 70km long and 14km wide.

The annual flood that feeds the area typically comes between March and June, originating from the Angola Mountains, 1.600 km further west, the Okavango River flows into Botswana but never makes it to the ocean, instead the water fills the delta before sinking in to the Kalahari Desert.

The Moremi National Park protects around 40% of the Okavango Delta area. Surrounding the National Park there are a number of conservancies with small, private safari camps to protect the rest of the area and its delicate balance. These low–impact lodges and camps leave only a small footprint ensuring the area is preserved in the most natural and unspoiled way possible for future generations  of both wildlife and visitors to enjoy.

The Okavango Delta is home to a wealth of game from the ‘big five’ to a great many animals you may never have heard of.  It’s also home to over 500 species of bird with numbers boosted by the migratory birds that join the locals around November each year – a must for all bird watchers. Other bird species found in the area include the Pel’s fishing owl, African fish eagle, the lilac-breasted roller and the hamerkop.

November to March is breeding time with lots of the Delta’s animals giving birth to their young.  As a result, there are also lots of predators around at this time, attracted by the venerable new residents of the Delta – giving visitors even more opportunity to witness the magic of Okavango Delta.

5 Facts about the Okavango Delta

  1. In 2014, the Okavango Delta became the 1,000th place to be enlisted as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  2. The Seven Natural Wonders of Africa were announced in 2013 and named the Okavango Delta alongside the River Nile, the Ngorongoro Crater, the great Serengeti migration, the Sahara Desert, Mount Kilimanjaro and the Red Sea coral reef.
  3. Mokoro (dug-out) canoes are still used in the area. These traditional boats were once made from a carved out tree trunk, however, now many are made out of more environmentally-friendly fibreglass but still offer a great way to get around and enjoy a water-based safari.
  4. There are strong numbers of Lechwe (antelopes found in wetlands of south central Africa) with around 60,000 living in the delta.
  5. Five tribes still use the area for fishing, growing crops and hunting.

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Our pick of the best ‘Sleep-outs’ in Africa

There aren’t many more spectacular sights than the African sky at night with its millions of stars where the lack of light pollution only makes it even more enchanting. When leaving the frills of camp life behind, sleeping out under the stars allows you to really see what’s special and what’s going on around you. A night sleeping under these skies will be an experience not to forget and waking up to the dawn chorus at sunrise will make a wonderful addition to your safari.

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The Nanyuki Mambas triumph on the slopes of Mount Kenya

One of the best-kept secrets on Africa’s adventure tourism calendar is the 10 to 4 Mt Kenya mountain Bike Challenge which raises money for the Mount Kenya Trust. Held annually since 2002, it is the major fundraiser for the Mount Kenya Trust conservation NGO which has since raised over $500,000 and has thus contributed to planting more than half a million trees, building and maintaining a 14km elephant corridor through farmland, returning over 450 hectares of bare land to indigenous forest and helped 50,000 Kenyans with health care.

Last year, under the radar, Vicky took part in what only can be described as the ultimate bike safari. Not only did she take part but she also won her race, the first female to finish the classic race  – quite an achievement!

This year we sponsored four local boys and girls from Nanyuki – the ‘NANYUKI Mambas’.

And more success came – this years ‘Queen of the Mountain’ was Joyce who was the overall female winner over the 2 day race and David and Joseph finished 8th and 9th in the mens race and Asmin 4th in the Rush – a brilliant achievement all round!

Our Top 5 Photographic Hides in Africa

Photographic hides are becoming an increasingly popular way to observe wildlife whilst on safari and more and more hides are appearing in reserves across Africa. Man-made hides are structures built with the purpose of concealing and protecting views from the animals and birds giving you the best opportunities for capturing a wildlife moment that you won’t get anywhere else.  They can be built from the simplest den made of logs but some of the best are made from large steel containers buried underground. They are usually positioned alongside a feature which attracts wildlife, such as a waterhole or riverbank.

Here is our pick of the Top 5 hides in Africa

1. Carmine Bee-Eater Hide, Shenton Safaris Mwamba Bushcamp, South Luangwa, Zambia

The movable carmine bee-eater hide is put in place in September once the carmines have established their nesting areas. They build their nests in huge colonies into the river bank so the hide is built in the middle of the river in order to get the best viewing angle and distance. Shoes are shed and knees get wet as you wade through The Luangwa River to access the hide which is anchored onto a boat in front of the colony. The carmines are very used to the hide’s presence and carry on about their business as though it wasn’t there. This hide provides fantastic photo opportunities of this spectacular bird species and is a must for serious birders and novices alike.

2. Jozibanini Look up Hide, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

Imvelo Safaris at Jozibanini Camp have created a cool and secure place to watch wildlife coming to drink at the waterhole. The hide was made by modifying a standard steel shipping container, including fitting it with a flush loo, and sinking it deep into the Hwange sands. Guests can also spend the evening in the hide watching the wildlife come down to drink with a backdrop of stars in a crystal sky, and if you’re really enjoying yourself why not stay the night! This is particularly spectacular during a full-moon when the bright light illuminates the nocturnal animals who come to visit.

3. The Bush House, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa.

Situated within the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve, the underground hide is positioned on the edge of the lodge waterhole. The roof which is just above ground-level is strong enough to hold the weight of an elephant and the low angles created by the sunken hide provide some of the best photographic opportunities. You access the hide from a path within the gardens of the Bush House, or from the swimming pool, along a safe walkway and through a tunnel, without being seen by the animals. The pathways, tunnel and hide are all lit at night so are available for use by guests 24 hours a day. You can even enjoy your evening meal in there complete with candle light!

4. Mashatu Tented Camp, Botswana.

Mashatu Tented Camp is well known for its photographic opportunities both on game drives and from the custom built Matebole and Elephant Valley photographic hides. Both hides are located in areas where there are many animals and predators are also abundant. They are ground level offering a unique perspective on the wildlife and birdlife that come to visit the waterholes. The best time of year for viewing from the hides around Mashatu Tented Camp is June to November when the elephants generally visit the waterhole every day.

5. Little Makalolo Camp, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

Little Makalolo offers privacy for guests who enjoy small camps and a sense of remoteness. The area is ecologically diverse, ensuring great numbers of animals year-round. Photographically, in addition to being able to get out on foot and venture out on night drives, there is a log pile hide which is beautifully placed at the camp’s productive waterhole and provides the most exhilarating opportunity for viewing the animals which come to drink at the waterhole. The Elephants are often the star attraction at the hide but be careful not to get sprayed by water from their nearby trunks!

Get in touch with us for more information on the hides and lodges. All our holidays are tailor-made so we can help plan a trip that is unique and memorable for you.

The 10 to 4 Mountain Bike Challenge

One of the best-kept secrets on Africa’s adventure tourism calendar is the 10 to 4 Mt Kenya mountain Bike Challenge which raises money for the Mount Kenya Trust. Held annually since 2002, when a small group of enthusiastic mountain bikers cycled from 10,000ft above sea level down to 4,000ft, it is the major fundraiser for the Mount Kenya Trust conservation NGO.

Since the 10 to 4 was established, over $500,000 has been raised to support the MKT in their work. This includes planting more than half a million trees, building and maintaining a 14km elephant corridor through farmland, two elephant underpasses, returning over 450 hectares of bare land to indigenous forest, tree nurseries nurturing hundreds of thousands of seedlings, and helped 50,000 Kenyans with health care and thousands of children understand conservation better.

    

Last year, under the radar, our Farside Africa Director Vicky Stirling took part in what only can be described as the ultimate bike safari. Not only did she take part but she also won her category and was the first female to finish the classic race completing 62km in around 4 hours – quite an achievement! Whilst out there she met some boys from Nanyuki who couldn’t afford to enter the race. It was too late for her to help them last year. So this year, along with a Kenyan friend, we are sponsoring two girls and two boys to compete in the race on the 9th & 10th February. The boys will compete in the Extreme race held over two days whilst the girls will take part in the Classic race held on the second day.

On day 1 they will cover about 90km facing an elevation climb of 2000m at high altitude with fast technical sections & single track. This is then followed by the Roller Coaster Classic on day 2. Starting at nearly 3000 meters, (10,000 feet), on the northern slopes of Mount Kenya, riders will descend some 70km over demanding terrain, through indigenous forest and wide open plains, abundant with wildlife, down to the Ngare Ndare Forest at 1940 meters, (6400 feet).

  

Our ‘NANYUKI Mambas’ team consists of David, Joseph, Joyce and Asmin who live in and around Nanyuki and we wish them the best of luck!

Please GET IN TOUCH if you would like to sponsor Farside Africa’s ‘NANYUKI Mambas’ team. Farside Africa has paid directly for the entry fees and team shirts so any extra funds raised will go directly to the Mount Kenya Trust.