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African Safari And Beach Holiday News.

The Travel Butlers Blog

Photographing People

TraceyCampbell - August 2, 2013

When somebody goes on holiday to Africa, no doubt they will come home with a thousand and one pictures of the wildlife they were fortunate enough to see on their safari adventure (take a look at our recent photo competition entries to see some of the latest pictures we have been sent by happy guests). Thank goodness for digital cameras – I remember the first time we went on safari, armed with our trusty Canon SLR and about 30 rolls of film.  It cost us a small fortune to process the pictures when we got home, and I would say at least 80% of the shots were not great – out of focus and blurred, or a lovely shot of the grass, or just showing the tail of the animal as we were just not quick enough with clicking the camera button to capture the moment.  At least now, even on the game vehicle, you can review the shot you have just taken, and if it is not good enough, as long as the ‘subject’ is still posing for you, you can try again!  ~And oh the joy of being able to delete those embarrassing pictures (especially the ones where you get all excited because you think you have spotted an elephant, only to realise you have actually just taken a picture of a solid lump of grey rock in the distance).

But a trip to Africa is not just about the wildlife, it is also about the places and people.

Taking photos of people, however, can be a sensitive issue.  If you are at an ‘organised’ event, such as an evening of Masai dancing, or a visit to a Masai village, then by all means take as many photos as you can and want to – it is all part of the ‘deal’  that you as the visiting tourist have already paid for in the tour/entrance fee.  However, if you are wandering by yourself through a busy street market in Lamu, for example, where normal folk are going about their normal everyday business and shopping for their weekly food, we would always urge people to respect their privacy.  After all, would you be happy if a Japanese tourist followed you around Tesco’s when you are there doing your weekly shop, and blatently takes a photo of you at the check out counter?

Whilst it is of course possible to sneakily take a few covert shots of a street scene (without making it too blatently obvious that is what you are doing), if you do want to take a specific photo of someone close up, please do ask their permission first.  Some people also believe that if you take their photo, you are ‘taking away their soul’ – so snapping someones photo and subsequent soul could cause a bit  of a problem!  If they say no, then you will just have to respect their wishes and walk away.  Be prepared also that if they say yes, however, you may be asked to offer a bit of money to your photographic subject – children in particular are not shy to ask for this!

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Tips for Booking Botswana

TraceyCampbell - July 31, 2013

Botswana will surpass your wildest dreams of an authentic African wildlife experience. Rated as one of the best wildlife destinations in the world, Botswana covers an area of almost 600,000 square kilometres – virtually the same size as France or Texas.

If you are planning a holiday to Botswana, although deemed to be an all-year-round safari destination, when you go can affect your safari.  For example, the safari activities in the Okavango Delta are completely affected by the rainfall in Angola – so if your safari dream is to glide through the waterways in a mokoro, make sure you travel to the Delta when the floodplains do have water in them – so between end April and August are the best months.   Also make sure you choose a camp that does offer water-based activities – as some camps, given their location, only offer land-based game drives as they are not near a permanent water supply.

If you are on a budget, there are ways to make your money go further.  Travelling to Botswana during what is known as the Green Season (November to March) means you can take advantage of some of the fantastic low rates that many camps offer.  It is called the Green Season purely because everything is green – the bush is lush and thick, which whilst making a beautiful backdrop to any safari photographs, it does mean spotting the wildlife amongst the foliage is trickier.  Check

Remember that most camps in Botswana are only accessible by light aircraft.  If you believe in packing a different outfit for every day, you may need to rethink your wardrobe needs. as the luggage allowance on most of the flights is strictly 15 kg per person.  Your bag also needs to be soft and pliable as it needs to be squeezed into the small aircraft luggage hold.  So you will definately have to leave the Samsonite case at home for this trip.

If ou are looking for a real adventure, check out some of the mobile safari camps.  If camping in the bush in a 2-man dome tent (albeit it with a private bathroom still!), then take a look at the Botswana Explorer package – a 9 night exciting camping trip which ends at Victoria Falls.  Or if you want a little more space and luxury, there are AndBeyond’s Chobe Under Canvas and Savute Under Canvas.  The camps move to a different site every 5-6 days, ensuring that game drives constantly explore fresh areas.

Lastly, if you are a passport holder from the United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, France, Germany,  Spain or South Africa you do not need a Visa to enter Botswana, so one less thing to worry about or remember to do before you fly!   You will, however, need to take malaria precautions, so do contact your doctor or clinic around 4-8 weeks before your trip to get their advice.

Did you know? A is for Aardvark

TraceyCampbell - July 29, 2013

The aardvark – possibly one of the more elusive animals that you are likely to see on your African safari. If you want to see your ranger/guide grimace or have a look of fear cross his face, make sure you specifically say that seeing an aardvark would really make your safari dreams come true!

Here are 10 interesting facts that you may (or may not) already know about this burrowing, nocturnal animal that is native to Africa.  You never know, one of the facts may even come up in your local pub quiz one night.  Then how clever will you look!

1.  It is the only living species of the order Tubulidentata (a species uniquely identified by their teeth).

2.The name ‘aardvark’ comes from the Afrikaans for ‘earth pig’ or ‘ground pig’, because of its burrowing habits and its vague resemblance to – guess what – a pig.

3. It is also known as the African Antbear.

4. An aardvark’s tongue is up to 30 cm in length.

5. A hungry aardvark can catch as many as 50,000 insects in one night with it’s long, sticky tongue.

6. They live in burrows, and can dig a hole up to 2 feet in 15 seconds.

7. They can live up to 24 years.

8. When threatened by predators, they either dig a defensive burrow very fast fast or they run in a zigzag fashion. to try to elude their hunter.  Failing that, they will roll onto their back and attack with their claws, tails and shoulders.

9. The Egyptian God Set is said (by some) to have the head of an aardvark.

10. Aardvark is the second word in your English dictionary.



Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Closed for Maintenance

PaulCampbell - July 26, 2013

The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway is now closed for maintenance until 25 August 2013…so if you want to get to the top of the mountain in the next four weeks you’ll have to walk!

The extended annual maintenance closure is essential to ensure the continued safe and effective use of the iconic attraction. The cableway will reopen on Monday, 26 August 2013, weather permitting.

Thank You to Kenya for Chris Froome!

TraceyCampbell - July 24, 2013

As a Brit, I was certainly proud to see at the weekend that GB have yet again proudly romped home to win the Tour de France. First Sir Bradley Wiggins, now Chris Froome.

Kenyan-born Chris actually started his cycling career on the outskirts of Nairobi, in a tiny village where he spent his childhood.  Indeed, he actually rode for Kenya in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

In his words about his childhood in Kenya:

“As a child, it’s got to be one of the best places to ever grow up,You’ve got so much freedom. I had my little bike and I would go out and see my friends. I just lived an outdoor lifestyle. We were about 30 minutes from the city, out in a residential area. On weekends, my mother would take me down to the Great Rift Valley road, which is very bush. A very rural area.”

As a teenager, Chris met the captain of the Kenyan cycling team, David Kinjah, and he references him as being his inspiration to embrace competitive cycling.  Today, Kinjah remembers those early days with Chris clearly, and is very proud of his protege.

So thank you Kenya, for inspiring someone that we also are very proud of!

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