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WE KNOW AFRICA

Welcome to the African Travel safari blog. In this space, we share inspirational stories and ideas on adventures in Africa, plus our latest social posts! 

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Connecting Our African Roots: How Travel Bridges the Past, Present and Future

August 26th, 2020, by Chelsea Todaro

The human connection is the heart of our existence and travel is what creates a bridge for people to learn about their culture’s past and come together to secure a future for generations.

As we focus on the past, present and future this month with The Travel Corporation (TTC), we reflect on how our humble beginnings 100 years ago in Africa ties us to helping the people, planet and wildlife for the future—by making travel matter. While we continue to focus on travelers’ well-being in the present, making travel matter is a role we can all play in helping communities around the world recover and rebuild from the impact of this pandemic.

Africa defines the beginning of humanity, and at African Travel, Inc. we strive to authentically connect travelers to the heart of the continent by bringing Africa to life in a meaningful way. Our African roots and unmatched expertise for over 40 years allow guests to leave a lasting footprint at the destinations they visit, as well as having an incredible safari experience.

In partnership with the TreadRight Foundation, African Travel supports various projects across Africa that preserves surrounding wildlife and cultures that travelers encounter on safari. By living in the present moment, our guests will learn about the destination’s past and what they can do to help its future.

 


Connecting with Wildlife and Their Surroundings

On safari our guests are introduced to the importance of wildlife conservation and how we work with local communities to ensure that African wildlife is protected. On our Captivating Kenya safari, guests explore Kenya’s oldest national park in search of endangered black and white rhino and spend time at the Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy with a behind the scenes experience at the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary. This sanctuary is Kenya’s first community owned and managed elephant orphanage.

 


On South Africa’s Natural Wonders, travelers explore the wildlife abundant Shamwari Game Reserve, one of the largest private conservation initiatives in Southern Africa, and home to the coveted Big Five. Dedicated to nature conservation, Shamwari strives to educate and promote wildlife awareness. In between safari drives, guests can visit the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and the Born Free Big Cat Sanctuaries. They’ll also connect with rhino, elephant, lion, buffalo and leopards at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, which is committed to transforming communities and conserving the environment through the creation of sustainable livelihoods.

 


Living and Learning with Ancient Cultures

While wildlife is a big part of a safari, there’s also ancient cultures to explore. Africa has the most diverse cultures in the world that we strive to maintain and preserve. This first starts with teaching travelers about them first-hand.  Connecting with local communities is what makes our safaris authentic and life changing. In Kenya, guests can experience the singing wells tradition of the Samburu tribe during the dry season when their warriors chant while collecting water for their livestock, and while in Tanzania on our Discover the Wonders of Tanzania safari, they’ll experience a visit to the Maasai of Ololosokwan to interact with this unique tribe, who are always enthusiastic to share their cultural beliefs.

 

 

As guests venture to North Africa, we offer an empowering journey to Jordan where they can learn about the country’s ancient and modern traditions with locals. They’ll follow in the footsteps of influential storytellers by meeting the women of the Iraq Al Amir Women’s Cooperative which aims to help local women as they preserve local heritage. Guests will learn how these women make a variety of heritage products to sustain a living—such as creating soap from Olive Oil and greeting cards from recycled paper. After gaining more insight into their culture, guests will join for a meal specially prepared by these local women.

 

 

As part of TTC, we work closely with our Red Carnation Hotel properties in South Africa, which have made a grass-roots effort to source employees from local African communities. The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa in Cape Town, The Oyster Box in Durban and Bushman’s Kloof Wildness Reserve in the Cederberg all support the local communities and strive to bring the heart and soul of these cultures into their properties through using artwork décor from local artists and employing and teaching locals the field of hospitality. Bushman’s Kloof works aimlessly to preserve more than 130 cave sites painted by the indigenous San people to ensure that these expressive murals will tell the story of the land’s original inhabitants for generations to come. Their preservation efforts have helped the Rock Art earn distinction as a Grade 1 South African National Heritage Site.

Guests can visit Red Carnation’s exceptional, award-winning properties on our South African Tapestry safari, where they’ll explore a rich tapestry of landscapes in South Africa-- from rugged seascapes, centuries old vineyards, 10,000 year old rock art sites to pristine wildlife reserve.

Preserving the Planet with Eco-Friendly Lodging

An important part of our future is to tread lightly on the environment to save our previous ecosystems, and sustainable lodging plays a big role in this.

Travelers help support planet conservation through our carefully curated and luxurious accommodations. Set to open in October 2020, guests can experience Xigera lodge on our new Platinum Botswana safari. Xigera is set in the heart of the Okovango Delta where guests can experience the bush in ultra-luxury and exclusive, unrivaled flexibility with no set times and no itineraries. One of Red Carnation’s most innovative properties, Xigera is dedicated to guarding the precious ecosystem that belongs to Botswana and to empower local communities, alongside environmentally conscious hospitality. With 105 exceptional staff attending to 24 guests, the lodge is 100% solar powered, with villas designed to camouflage among nature.

 

At the end of the day, the way people travel and choose to connect to cultures may differ but coming together to create a sustainable future remains a constant in our daily lives. Our past story defines our future, and while the present moment is very much in limbo, our past is strong, and our future is exciting.

10 Inspiring Africa Movies to Watch

April 8th, 2020, by Claudia Santino

We’re a waterhole is half full kind of crowd here at African Travel, Inc. which means we’re always looking for the silver lining during rough times.  Just because we’re not traveling doesn’t mean we can’t learn and connect to the places we love and one way for us to do this is through movies.  We’ve put together a list of what we’re watching now.  Some are old favorites, some are documentaries, some will spur you into action.  Some will make you cry, and some will make you laugh.  Many will make you want to go to Africa as soon as possible.  Until then, get the popcorn ready.

 

Born Free
When most people think of visiting Africa, they think of wildlife.  For a certain generation, Born Free was the film that sparked a desire to see Africa and a movement towards animal rights.  This classic, released in 1966 and based on the nonfiction book, it tells the story of Elsa, an orphaned lion cub in Kenya and of George and Joy Adamson, the couple who forged an emotional bond with her.  You can’t help but for fall for Elsa, whose story ignited a movement around the way we perceive relationships between humans and animals and whose tale pushed the door open wide towards animal conservation.

 

Out of Africa
Another classic that fired people up to explore Kenya, Out of Africa is the story of Danish author Karen Blixen and her passionate love affair with a big game hunter.  Set during colonial time in colonial British East Africa, it doesn’t always show Blixen at her best, but the cinematography will satisfy the desire to escape into the wilds of a place most people only dream about.  

 

Queen of Katwe
If you like a defying all odds kind of story, you’ll love Queen of Katwe. It’s the inspirational real-life story of Phiona Mutesi, a girl growing up in the slums of Uganda who helps her mother sell food in the market and care for her baby brother.  When she meets Robert Katende, a coach who teaches children to play chess, Phiona goes on to become one of the country’s best female chess champions.  The hardship she and her family face offer hefty dose of reality, but her success will win you over.

 

Searching for Sugarman
The power of oral storytelling is revealed in the following the singer Rodriguez generated amongst fans who passed his music along by word of mouth.  Searching for Sugarman is the surprise hit documentary about South Africa’s greatest ‘70s rock icon who never was.  An American folk singer whose bootleg recording made it to a nation struggling through a dark period, Rodriguez’s song “I Wonder” became an anti-apartheid anthem.  The documentary follows two South Africans who came of age listening to him and their journey to find the singer whose sound captured a nation and who became a mythical legend because, despite his popularity, no one had ever seen him perform.  Chase the myth with them, by end you just might become a fan, too.

 

Virunga
This Academy Award Oscar nominated film is the true story of the rangers risking their lives to save Africa's most precious national park and its endangered gorillas from war and damaging oil exploration activity within the UNESCO World Heritage site.  Virunga spotlights the brave people who have dedicated their lives to build a better future for themselves and the animals they protect in Virunga National Park, one of the most bio-diverse places on Earth.  If you’ve ever seen a mountain gorilla, or have a desire to see one, this film is a must.  It will restore your faith in humanity, it will break your heart, but it may also spur you to action.

 

BBC Planet Earth:  Africa
We’ll be honest, we’d be happy to watch a continuous loop of BBC’s Planet Earth Africa on Netflix.  So, sit back and relax as the amazing cinematography and narration carries you away on a journey through five regions of this stunning and diverse continent.  From extraordinary wildlife to unexplored rainforests and mountain ranges, the wow factor doesn’t get much better than this armchair adventure!

 

The First Grader
Another film based on a true story, The First Grader is about a Kenyan farmer and former Mau Mau tribesman Kimani Maruge who enrolled in elementary school at the age of 84 when the country introduced universal education in 2003.  Despite opposition to admitting him into a classroom of six-year-olds, his determination finds him an ally in one teacher.  It’s the story about the power of education, perseverance and the will to learn no matter one’s age.  We hope this hero’s journey inspires you.

 

The Ivory Game
Another Netflix original series, The Ivory Game is about the team of front-line rangers and undercover operatives who embark on dangerous missions to expose and disrupt the dark world of ivory trafficking.  From fighting poachers in Africa to exposing illegal ivory shops in China, the team risks their lives to save our elephants from those in pursuit of “white gold.”  If you support wildlife conservation, it will inspire you into action.

 

Our Planet
It would be wrong of us to tell you to focus on just one episode of Our Planet, but we are partial to the ones that shine a light on Africa and features the wild dogs of the Serengeti.  The wonderous beauty of our planet is revealed in breathtaking cinematography and guided by Sir David Attenborough who explains how we can take charge of our future from the climate change that impacts all living creatures.  

 

Black Panther
We couldn’t help ourselves with this one!  Whether you’re seeing it for the first time or enjoying it the second, third for fourth time around, Black Panther is just what we need right now.  This Marvel classic tells the story of T’Challa, who returns to his family’s kingdom home of fictional Wakanda, an African nation under threat from a rival warlord. In our hero’s battle against evil and his fight to reclaim his throne, this action movie challenges us to think about class structure, racism and our humanity and it also highlights African culture and traditions.  By the end of the film you’ll swear Wakanda is a real place and that’s a good thing.  Wakanda Forever!

 

 

Get Lost in the Pages of Africa

April 8th, 2020, by Claudia Santino

Since the dawn of time, stories have offered the perfect escape. If you’ve been meaning to catch up on your reading, here are ten books set in Africa that will transport you into the lives of some incredible fictional and real people and animals. Some are suitable for children and young adults, all will teach something about the great continent we’d love you to know more about.

 

We may not be able to take you on a real African safari right now, so we’re bringing a bit of the wild kingdom into your hands with this magical recommendation. Safari: A Photicular Book is a stunning work of art created with something called Motion Viewer design that brings the images on the page to life. This eye-catching book is a great educational tool for children or a great escape for anyone who loves animals. It might even inspire you on to make the dream of Africa a reality and how cool would that be?

 

Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood, a New York Times Bestseller, is Alexandra Fuller’s candid memoir about growing up in Rhodesia in the 1970s. Her unflinching look back on her family’s life as they tried to stubbornly make their way against African independence is unsentimental and captivating. The continent is a central character, another is her mother, a headstrong woman who nurtured the young Fuller and her sister by teaching them self-reliance and resilience, instead of doting on them.  Fuller’s writing crackles and she doesn’t skimp on details or her love and passion for Africa. She’ll make you feel like you’re walking on rich red dirt road right alongside her, which is perfect in these days of self-isolation.

 

If you’re looking for an adventure, you’ll get one in West With the Night, Beryl Markham’s memoir about growing up in East Africa. Born in England, she and her father moved to Kenya when she was a young girl. Raised around wild things, she had a love and respect for Africa’s lands and creatures and her best friend was a Nandi tribes boy who taught her to hunt. Her father raised horses and she became an expert horsewoman and racehorse trainer. Mostly, she was a woman who was unafraid to try new things, leading her to become a great adventurer and aviatrix and bush pilot, which ultimately led her to becoming the first person to fly nonstop from Europe to America. We’d follow her star any day!

 

One of the greatest memoirs of all time, Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela might just be the one book we need to get through these hard times. He endured 10,000 days of imprisonment and when he was released at the age of 71, the freedom fighter showed the world that his spirit hadn’t been broken, going on to become the president of South Africa. Mandela wasn’t just the greatest leader the country ever had but he was an international hero and one of the greatest moral and political leaders of all time. His lifelong dedication to fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and his life continues to serve as a guiding light for oppressed people around the world and anyone going through struggles and setbacks.

 

If you’ve got time on your hands (and who doesn’t these days?) then step back in time to an Egypt that once was with The Alexandria Quartet. This masterpiece by Lawrence Durrell made up of four small novels is a lush and seductive tale of friends and lovers in Alexandria before WWI. Its central theme is love conveyed across the different viewpoints and experiences of the characters that make up these stories and whose common ground is the city.

 

It seems like most stories that take place in Africa are epic and Cutting for Stone proves it.  The story of twin brothers, Marion and Shiva Stone born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon unfolds across five decades in India, Ethiopia, and America. Orphaned by their mother’s death and their father’s disappearance, their coming of age story is one of love and betrayal, compassion and redemption.

 

If you’re an animal lover, you’ll fall in love with this book.  If you’re not, prepare to become one if you read it.  The Elephant Whisperer is the heartwarming story of conservationist Lawrence Anthony who relents to accepting a herd of rogue elephants on his Thula Thula game reserve in South Africa, deep in the heart of Zulu country.  The alternative to him not accepting them is that they would be killed because of their dangerous behavior.  No sooner does he take them on when these delinquents start planning their escape and Anthony has to work fast to build a bond with them in order to rehabilitate and save them.  In the process, the naughty herd teaches him about life, too.

 

The Power of One is a suspenseful novel that takes you on the epic journey of Peekay, a boy born during the birth of apartheid in 1939 South Africa. This coming-of-age story deals with his abandonment, experiences with racism and what it takes to survive in an unforgiving environment.  Ultimately, it is about the power of hope and resilience we can all have as individuals.  

 

To date, there are 21 novels in Alexander McCall’s No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. If you’re new to this highly acclaimed series, then you’ve got some catching up to do on Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s best (and only) female detective. Known for her wisdom and street smarts, this good-hearted detective is an example of girl power in action.  These short novels offer a perfect escape right now and are great reading (or audio) material for young and older adults looking for lighthearted but uplifting stories.

 

“The Kabara groups taught me much regarding gorilla behavior. From them I learned to accept the animals on their own terms and never to push them beyond the varying levels of tolerance they were willing to give. Any observer is an intruder in the domain of a wild animal and must remember that the rights of that animal supersede human interests.” – Dian Fossey was a young woman and an occupational therapist when she traveled to Africa in 1963.  Visiting Uganda, she came into contact with Virunga’s mountain gorillas and it changed her life.  Gorillas in the Mist is her riveting account of the research she conducted in the remote rain forests in Rwanda studying the great apes. Her great understanding, bond and unlimited love for these misunderstand creatures destroyed the myths that had been built around them and changed the way we view gorillas. Her research studying their group behavior provided her with a life of adventure and friendship, but it also entailed hardship and heartbreak.  It’s Fossey’s passion, dedication and determination that we have to thank for the protections the endangered gorillas in the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda have today.  A must-read for anyone who’s ever had a desire to see these incredible creatures who we share 98% of our DNA.

 

 

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