Category Archives: Wildlife

5 Things to Say WOW about Natural South Africa

  • South Africa has one of the oldest meteor scars in the world. The  meteor plummeted to Earth nearly two billion years ago, predating the heady days of oxygen and multi-celled life. The Vredefort Dome was recently declared a World Heritage Site.
  • South Africa is the world’s leader in mining and minerals. It has nearly 90% of the platinum metals on Earth, 80% of the manganese, 73% of the chrome, 45% of the vanadium and 41% of the gold.
  • The world is divided into six floral kingdoms. One of these is located entirely within South Africa. The Cape Floral Kingdom has 9600 plant species, 70% of which are not found anywhere else in the world.
  • South Africa is home to the largest land mammal (Elephant),   smallest mammal (Least Dwarf Shrew), fastest mammal (Cheetah), largest bird (Ostrich) and the largest fish (Whale Shark).
  • The African Black-Footed Penguin, the largest colony of which is found on Dyer Island off the Western Cape, can swim up to 40 kilometres per hour which is faster than the Atlantic Bottlenose dolphin.

Advertisements

5 Things to Say WOW about the Big Five

  • The roar of a male lion can be heard up to a distance of 8 kilometres.
  • Elephants drink about 190 litres of water a day. This is equal to the average daily consumption and usage of an Indian household.
  • Leopards have a special ability of being able to hang upside down from trees.
  • Rhinoceroses have roamed the Earth since the last 50 million years.  That is approximately 50 times older than man.
  • The African Buffalo is considered to be the most dangerous of the Big Five because it is so unpredictable. It gets nervous when not in a herd and attacks at the slightest provocation. And once injured or attacked it never forgives. Some buffaloes have been known to follow hunters who attacked them till the very end.

Once Upon a Time in Knysna…

When you want to savour exotic delicacies, see stunning metropolitan views, or delve into the history of South Africa, you visit Cape Town.

When you want to say “hi” to a lion which is a stone’s throw away from you, you drive to the Kruger National Park.

But when you’ve seen it all, and want to let go and blissfully do nothing as you are surrounded by heavenly natural beauty, you forget the world at Knysna…

Here’s a picture taken in this enchanting town.

knysna

Isn’t that enchanting?

Let’s see what is so beautiful about Knysna…

* The Knysna Lagoon Cruise

As you sit in your boat and stare into the serene peaceful waters, you feel strangely calm and joyful…You spot two stunning sandstone cliffs in the background standing resolute and still and admire them. Then, as you move further on, you see an oyester farm on the coast. And as you stare – you realize that this farm produces some of the best oyesters in the world. As the city of Knysna cruises past you – slowly, you see an orange ball in the distance..the sun, sinking gently into the stillness of the waters…

This is it.

knysna-picture

* The Beaches

Swim, canoe, sail, build sand castles at the Bollard Bay beach. Without the bustle of popular city beaches. Or clamber upon rocks, cool off in little pools and walk along the heavenly coastline at Brenton beach. It is difficult to find a beach where you can go beyond the frenzy of a popular attraction and actually experience the beauty of nature.

You can do that here.

knysna beach

* Knysna Elephant Park

The Knysna elephants are special: they are the southernmost elephants in the world and are part of a touching mission to conserve the elephant population of the Knysna forest.

You can walk through the Knysna forest along with the elephants. Or you can ride them. Or touch them. Or feed them. Photograph them. Connect with them.

Elephants can be warm…

knysna elephants

Why not include such a beautiful place in your itinerary?

Come, visit. Knysna’s calling.

This, might help.

Do you KNOW the Big Five?

Talk of South Africa and you have to mention the Big Five: the Lion, the Elephant, the Leopard, the Rhino and the Wild Buffalo.

These 5 animals rule the game reserves of South Africa. And yes, no game drive is complete without seeing all of them.

Here’s an interesting video about the Big Five.

Wouldn’t it be a thrilling experience to cruise past them in your jeep, stopping when you wanted?

Let’s look at each of these fascinating animals in detail.

_______________________________________________

THE LION

Weight: About 170 kg. (About twice the average man’s weight).

Diet: Carnivorous diet. Lions are opportunists. They  can eat the remains of an animal someone else has killed. They can also hunt and eat animals ranging from the a small hare to a huge African buffalo.

Life Span: Around 16 years in the wild.

What’s so interesting about lions?

A lot! For example,

* The roar of a male lion can be heard up to a distance of 8 km! If you live in Mumbai, that means a lion roaring at Mumbai CST can be heard at Mumbai Central!

* Interestingly, lionesses do most of the hunting and bring the prey home. Lions mostly chill out! And guess what, the lionesses wait for the lions to finish eating the food they bring and then consume only the left overs! Add to all this, it is they who have to bring up the lion cubs….. A case for lioness empowerment, eh? :)

Here’s a lion…

lion africa

______________________________________________

THE ELEPHANT

Weight: 4 to 6 tons. ( Half the weight of an 84 passenger school bus!).

Diet: They graze and also uproot trees and and shrubs. And how much do they eat? 300 Kgs a day. That is about 130 times the food an average man eats in a day!

Life Span: 60 to 70 years.

What’s so interesting about elephants?

* An elephant herd comprises almost entirely of female elephants and their young ones! The male elephants leave the herd when they are 12 years old and then never come back. Many male elephants roam alone after mating…

* Elephants drink about 190 litres of water a day. That’s equal to the amount of water I use everyday to bathe, wash clothes and dishes, clean my house, shave, and do everything I can! Wow.

African Elephant

_____________________________________________

THE LEOPARD

Weight: 70 Kg. (I am amazed by the VAST difference in weights amongst the Big Five. The leopard weighs as much as you and me while the Elephant weighs 60 times your weight!)

Diet: Carnivorous. It eats small animals and medium sized antelopes.

Life Span: 20 years.

What’s so interesting about leopards?

* Leopards are staunch advocates of living alone. So much so, that they actually fight any other leopard they accidentally encounter! However, they do sometimes hunt with their mate.

* Leopards have a special ability: they can hang upside down from trees! It is interesting to watch a full grown leopard do that though. ;)

Here’s a leopard posing for Namaste South Africa by the way.


leopard

______________________________________________

THE RHINO

Weight: 1 to 2 tons. ( The weight of an average car.)

Diet: Leaves, buds and shoots of plants is what a species of Rhino called the Black Rhino eats. The White Rhino eats grass. But yes, all rhinos are veggies.

Life Span: 35 to 40 years.

What’s so interesting about rhinos ?

* Well, we all know that the elephant is the largest land animal on earth right? We’ve learn that since childhood. :) Ever wondered which is the second largest land animal? Our good old white rhino.

* Rhinos have lived on this earth since the last 50 million years. That’s way more than other animals like lions. And of course about 50 times older than man, who’s been there since about a million years. :)

rhino africa

_____________________________________________

THE AFRICAN BUFFALO

Weight: 900 Kg.

Diet: Grass, grass and still more grass! And some leaves at times. ;)

Life Span: 16 Years.

What’s so interesting about buffaloes?

Yeah, that’s what you might be wondering. Buffaloes? What’s amazing about buffaloes? But, you see, these are not our good old Indian buffaloes. They are African buffaloes –  different creatures altogether.

* The African buffalo is considered to be the most dangerous of the Big Five. Why? Because it is so unpredictable! It gets nervous when not in a herd and attacks at the slightest provocation. And yes, once injured or attacked it NEVER forgives. Some buffaloes have been known to follow hunters who attacked them till the very end…

* Buffaloes have 4 times the strength of an Ox. And if you didn’t notice the statistics, they weigh four times a lion!

What’s this one thinking?

african buffalo picture

_____________________________________________

So well, when are you coming to South Africa? You might like looking at this fascinating page that tells you about some wild tours!

Here’s dedicating this entry to the Big Five!

The Namaste South Africa ‘African Animals Quiz’!

Do you really know Africa’s animals well? And if you don’t know them – what’s Google for! Do what you will, but if you answer the following fascinating questions about Africa’s animals correctly, we’ll send you a free copy of “Opportunities Today” – an interesting travel magazine.

Here’s the quiz:

gerenuk1

1 This animal looks like a standing deer, right? The animal stands so tall when up on its 2 feet, that it’s name stems from the Somali word for “giraffe-necked”.  An interesting phenomenon about this animal is that its young ones leave the parents’ home when they are one year old and form a bachelor’s herd with their other one year old “friends.”

It is mainly found in Kenya.

Well, can you tell us which animal this is?

cheetah

2 Both of these animals look almost the same, don’t they. And both are found in the jungles and nature reserves of South and East Africa.  One of them climb trees and one of them can’t. And one of them is the fastest land animal on earth reaching speeds of 75 mph at times. Well, which is what?

wildebeest migration

3 The Wildebeest is found in large numbers in Kenya and Tanzania.  Over 1.5 million wildebeest live in this area. Wildebeest are one of the fastest land animals on earth clocking speeds of 80 kmh.

But in the picture, you see so many of these creatures gathered together. What’s the big event for which all of them have congregated? The event is one of the 10 natural travel wonders of the world.

asian and african elephant

4 You know what these animals are. They are elephants of course! But one of them is the Asian elephant and the other is the African elephant. Can you tell which is which?

5 This interesting animal, found in Masai Mara national park weighs 15 times a full grown lion! It’s average lifespan is 35 years, about 3 times that of a male lion. This mammoth animal has a dangerous fact associated with it: it causes more human deaths in a year than buffaloes, elephants or rhinos.

What are we talking about? :) Here’s a picture of this animal.

Hippopotamus(2)

Done?

If you know the answers to any of these questions, mail them to namastesouthafrica@gmail.com . If you get even 4 out of these 5 correct, we’ll send you our special travel magazine FREE of cost!

And yes, are you on Facebook? Do visit Namaste South Africa there!

You can also access the visual, exciting Facebook version of this quiz here..

See you soon!

In the Lap of the Wild: Kruger National Park

kruger lion

What do you associate most with South Africa?

There are no second guesses. It has to be wildlife.

And where wildlife is concerned there is no place in South Africa second to Kruger National Park.

Just for the numbers, Kruger has 114 species of reptiles, 147 species of mammals, 517 species of birds, and 1982 species of plants! We’re not talking about the number of animals or birds or plants here. We are talking about the number of species. No wonder then that the Kruger Park has more species of mammals than any other Park in Africa. In fact, it had such a huge population of elephants in 1995, that elephants were given contraceptives to reduce their birth rate!

Have a look at this video showing you what to expect at Kruger National Park.

Isn’t life in the wild beautiful?

Here are some interesting titbits about Kruger Park.

* * *

* We know the Kruger National Park is huge. How huge? Its area is approximately the same as the Indian state of Mizoram which is the same as Israel’s land area. It is literally a “wild country!”

* How old is Kruger? It was established 112 years ago by Paul Kruger. Yes, it is South Africa’s oldest National Park.

* How many Lions do you think the Kruger National Park has? The latest Census reports that there are 1500 lions, 5000 giraffes, 900 leopards, 3000 hippos and 7500 elephants at Kruger!

* Kruger has more than 13000 kilometers of roads running all through it.  The total length of roads in Israel, which has an equivalent area  is about 6500 km. The total length of roads in Mumbai is  about 1900 km. Well?

* The world’s longest ongoing research on wildlife is being conducted at Kruger Park.

* * *

In a world where we keep hearing “animal extinct” news every other day, Kruger seems like a breather.  When are you visiting? :)

By the way, you might like these reading through these  interesting “Kruger” travel itineraries. Do tell us what you think about them!

kruger lion

What do you associate most with South Africa?

There are no second guesses. It has to be wildlife.

And where wildlife is concerned there is no place in South Africa second to Kruger National Park.

Just for the numbers, Kruger has 114 species of reptiles, 147 species of mammals, 517 species of birds, and 1982 species of plants! We’re not talking about the number of animals or birds or plants here. We are talking about the number of species. No wonder then that the Kruger Park has more species of mammals than any other Park in Africa. In fact, it had such a huge population of elephants in 1995, that elephants were given contraceptives to reduce their birth rate!

Have a look at this video showing you what to expect at Kruger National Park.

Isn’t life in the wild beautiful?

Here are some interesting titbits about Kruger Park.

* * *

* We know the Kruger National Park is huge. How huge? Its area is approximately the same as the Indian state of Mizoram which is the same as Israel’s land area. It is literally a “wild country!”

* How old is Kruger? It was established 112 years ago by Paul Kruger. Yes, it is South Africa’s oldest National Park.

* How many Lions do you think the Kruger National Park has? The latest Census reports that there are 1500 lions, 5000 giraffes, 900 leopards, 3000 hippos and 7500 elephants at Kruger!

* Kruger has more than 13000 kilometers of roads running all through it.  The total length of roads in Israel, which has an equivalent area  is about 6500 km. The total length of roads in Mumbai is  about 1900 km. Well?

* The world’s longest ongoing research on wildlife is being conducted at Kruger Park.

* * *

In a world where we keep hearing “animal extinct” news every other day, Kruger seems like a breather.  When are you visiting? :)

By the way, you might like these reading through these  interesting “Kruger” travel itineraries. Do tell us what you think about them!


FIFA World Cup 2010. For The First Time in History…

March 31, 2010

africa(Image by by Martin23230, Wikipedia)

This World Cup has many firsts – and pretty interesting firsts they are. Shall we take a peek at what’s happening for the first time in history this summer?

* THE FIRST WORLD CUP IN AFRICA

The FIFA World Cup 2010, is the first ever World Cup to be held on African Soil. Africa was chosen as the host for the 2010 World Cup as part of a new policy to rotate the event among football confederations. South Africa competed with Morocco and Egypt and won hands down in the bid to host the Cup.

Here’s the magnificent Johannesburg stadium:

johannesburg stadium

* THE FIRST ‘MAN OF THE MATCH’ CHOSEN BY FANS

For the first time in the history of the World Cup FIFA won’t choose the man of the match for any World Cup game. You and I will. Fans all over the world will text their choices or submit them online during the game. And the man who has the highest votes from “us – the people” wins! Interesting? You bet.

* THE FIRST FAN SURVEY

There have been surveys before but none of this kind. CapeInfo.com has launched an online survey to better understand football fans all over the world. Why aren’t they coming for the World Cup? And if they are coming, what will be their travel itinerary? What are their concerns about the World Cup? How aware are they about South Africa? And the questions go on and on.

The results will be available online for everyone to see.

I don’t really understand the point of the survey but maybe it will help the organizers understand the point of view of audiences the world over. This might help in better organization of future events.

* THE FIRST ‘$ 400 MILLION PLUS’ PRIZE MONEY EVER

How much is the total prize money for this year’s World Cup? Take a guess… :)

A million?  10 Million? A 100 million perhaps?

Its $ 420 million. The highest ever prize money to be awarded in the history of sports. It is also an increase of 60 percent over the last World Cup’s prize money.

Everybody who participates wins a prize. In fact, each team exiting at the group stage receives $ 8 million!

dollar

* THE FIRST COMPLETE VIDEO GAME SIMULATION

The same players with the exact same faces. The same stadiums. The same crowd. The same sounds. It’s so real – you’re stumped.

For the first time since football was first played, a game that simulates the World Cup down to the smallest detail has been launched. EA sports has launched the 2010 FIFA World Cup Video Game.

The 199 teams that took part in the 2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers will be in the game.

Players can play against other players through online gaming services like Playstation Network or XBox Live or they can play against the computer.

Here’s a video about this game:

* THE FIRST WORLD CUP IN 3D

Movies in 3D are amazing. The effects seem so real! What if the World Cup action was brought to you LIVE in 3 D? How may “Wows” would you shout out?

This time 25 of the World Cup games are going to be filled using 3D cameras.  The Sony Corporation has arranged for these special cameras.

Whatever else we may be unsure of, what we cannot deny is this is going to be a fascinating World Cup in South Africa. What say you?


For Those Who Think Soccer Fans are Crazy

March 29, 2010

In a world where Soccer is the dominant religion, there exists a small minority of “nerds”, “geeks” and simply “I don’t want soccer” weirdos who aren’t exactly awaiting the World Cup in South Africa. I am one of them. :)

This year, however, for people like us, there IS something to look forward to in South Africa. It’s the Knysna Oyster Festival.

This festival, which will be held from July 2 to 11, 2010 (yes, despite the World Cup!) promises interesting events like the Navigation Drift Dive Challenge ( a scuba diving adventure), The Night of a 1000 Pictures ( a fascinating photography exhibition), the Wade Bales Wine Festival , the Geo Oyster Geocaching Competition (a fun adventure involving navigating around the Knysna basin), a Forest Marathon and hoards of other food, wine, adventure and sports events!

And guess what, Knysna Tourism has been working with its members to ensure that there will be accommodation available at reasonable rates over the period of the Oyster Festival! This means that despite the sky rocketing prices because of the World Cup – you will still be able to find reasonably priced hotels if you make it to the event. Cool.

Here’s a video of the Mountain Biking event in the festival. Enjoy. :)

If you love to experience new cuisines and fine wine, you might also love reading through this food and wine write-up!

Ah, there is still hope for the world. ;)


75 More Days: The Stadiums are DONE.

March 27, 2010

A Reuters report on March 26, said South Africa has declared all 10 World Cup Venues to be ready for the FIFA 2010 event. A FIFA inspection tour was held and all is well with the stadiums that will host the biggest event ever held in Africa.

Here’s a video that tells you about each stadium!

I found three very interesting facts about the stadiums.

* The Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg is the largest stadium in Africa. (That’s something.) It has the capacity to seat 94000 spectators. Interestingly, this is where Nelson Mandela gave his first speech after being released from prison.

* The Mbombela Stadium near Nelspruit is unique – it has 18 giraffe shaped roof supports! That is not all: the spectator stands have also been painted in zebra colours! And where is the stadium located? Very near the world famous Kruger National Park. No wonder it is wild. :) Here’s a picture by Chris Onderstall:

south africa wild stadium

* The Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg is unique too – the outside of the stadium has been designed to look like an African pot! The cladding and colours are such that there seems to be fire under the African pot. Cool. :) Another fascinating feature of this stadium’s design is that no spectator in the stadium will be more than 100 metres away from the action.

It’s 75 days more to go…:) And then the action will begin.

Click here to learn a bit more about the country that’s hosting it all.


Taj, Cape Town is Now Open!

March 25, 2010

There’s now another Indian Connection to South Africa (apart from Namaste South Africa ;) ) – Taj, Cape Town. On March 20, 2010, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces announced the opening of Taj, Cape Town. Yes, the famous ‘Taj hospitality’ can now be enjoyed by Capetonians and visitors to South Africa!

Lets look at some interesting facts about this new hotel:

* On the very day of its opening, all its 177 rooms have been booked. That says something about the credibility of the “Taj” brand.

* The five star hotel has been built at a cost of R500-million with contributions from Taj, Tata Africa and Eurocape.

* The hotel is located near the city centre and  has been built around two historic buildings. It took 2 years of construction and renovation of the historic buildings to build the hotel.

* The hotel offers 11 different types of rooms – all unique in their own way. There are Heritage rooms in the newly restored buildings and Tower rooms that provide an exquisite view of the Table Mountain. There is even a Presidential Suite which has 2 bedrooms, a massage and steam room, a fully equipped kitchen, office, gym and a top floor deck!

* As part of its introductory offer, The Taj, Cape Town is offering a special R 3500 (USD 474) room for two people including breakfast.

Here’s a video about the hotel.

I would love to stay in the Taj, Cape Town. :) What about you?


5 Things About South Africa That’ll Make You Say, “Wow.”

March 24, 2010

We’ve always known South Africa is amazing. That’s not the question. But did you know…

1 That South Africa has penguins?

Boulders Beach in the Cape Peninsula, South Africa has about 3000 penguins which can be observed from close quarters!

The first pair of penguins was brought here in 1982 and after that there has definitely been no looking back.

Here’s a picture of one these intriguing creatures.

2 That you can pet Cheetahs in South Africa?

Now we’ve always known South Africa is a treasure trove of wildlife. That’s no secret. But petting ?

Near Cape Town, there is a place where you can pet and caress a cheetah for a small fee! Here’s a picture of Namaste South Africa founder Subhash with a cheetah.

pet a cheetah

3 That South Africa’s premier city Cape Town has been rated the “World’s best city” by Telegraph?

Yes, Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It has a table mountain right next to its stunning waterfront.

But who would have expected it to beat Sydney and San Fransisco in the race for the “World’s Best City”? But that’s that! Acclaimed  London Newspaper Telegraph says its the best.

Here’s a picture of Cape Town’s Table Mountain.

south africa table mountain

4 That South Africa has the world’s best hotel?

The Singita game reserve, near Kruger National Park, was voted the best hotel in the world by the readers of a leading travel magazine (Conde Nast Traveler). Cool!

5 That South Africa has a bar constructed right inside a tree?

The Northern Province of South Africa is famous for baobab trees. And Tzaneen in this province has an entire bar located inside the tree. How does it feel inside this bar? I haven’t really been to that bar, but it must be fun!

Here’s a baobab tree by the way.

baobab south africa

South Africa is enticing.

Until next time, Good Bye from Namaste South Africa. :)