Happy New Year from a frost-spangled UK!
2022 is shaping up to be a great year for African safaris. Around the world, confidence in travel is returning and our travellers are keen to get back to the bush. In Africa, despite the immense challenges faced by the tourism industry over the last two years, all our favourite lodges and camps will be open this year. Conservation teams have stepped up, businesses have adapted where they could, and everyone, somehow, has managed to get through. It is truly remarkable.
Going into this year with busy booking sheets, camp owners, guides and staff are understandably delighted and our travellers – many of whom have had to postpone their trips – are finally allowing themselves to get excited. To feel we are all on a more positive trajectory is wonderful.
With high hopes for a year of adventures, we look forward to talking safaris with you soon.
A Rhino’s not just for Christmas…
Many gifts were exchanged over the festive season, and so it was between the governments of Kenya and Tanzania. Black rhinos for roan antelopes to be precise.
In a bid to boost the populations of both species, Tanzania transported 20 roan antelopes from Rungwa Game Reserve to boost the last dozen currently living in Kenya’s Ruma National Park. In return, Kenya relocated an undisclosed number of female black rhinos to two parks in northern Tanzania, Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area, where it is hoped they will breed with the resident male black rhinos.
For both species, the translocations are important steps, coupled with other conservation measures, to ensure their future in these conservation areas.
For detailed guides on the best places across to Africa to see black rhinos, roan antelopes or any of our travellers’ other favourite mammals, check out our citizen science wildlife maps. Expert Africa travellers have been recording wildlife sightings across the countries we work in for the last four years, making this an outstanding resource for wildlife enthusiasts.
Zimbabwe’s Legacy Landscape
Reliable, long-term funding is critical to conservation. While one-off donations, large and small, can have a significant impact, ongoing funding commitments ensure the stability that allows conservation teams to properly plan, develop and fully embed their core initiatives.
Across the globe, there are some impressive philanthropic ventures and charitable foundations working alongside governments to ensure such long-term ventures can flourish. One of the most recent of these organisations is the Legacy Landscapes Fund (LLF), an international public-private partnership created to protect areas of outstanding natural beauty and importance in developing countries.
The fund’s aim is to establish a portfolio of 30 protected areas by 2030 and support them with reliable, long-term funding for sustainable conservation, biodiversity preservation, climate protection and the creation of secure livelihoods for local people.
Backed by some of the world’s most generous conservation donors, including the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation and the Wyss Foundation, LLF is wasting no time in selecting and supporting its chosen biodiversity hotspots. In the fund’s first year, it has approved four sites, including North Luangwa National Park in Zambia, and now, by unanimous vote, Gonarezhou National Park in neighbouring Zimbabwe.
Adjoining Mozambique’s vast Limpopo National Park and South Africa’s Kruger National Park, Gonarezhou is a quiet park spanning 5,000km² of tall grassy pans, dense woodlands and winding river gorges. Wonderfully raw and rugged, famed for its elephants, sandstone cliffs, laid-back safari lodges and, most recently, its commitment to the reintroduction of rhino, Gonarezhou is a deserving recipient of this financial commitment. Managed for years by the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust, a committed team from ZimParks and the local community working alongside experienced conservationists from the Frankfurt Zoological Society, the park is a true wilderness, offering sanctuary to numerous species of mammals and birds, plus safari aficionados. We are thrilled for the team on the ground and excited to see the potential of Gonarezhou realised over years to come.
A visit to Gonarezhou is usually part of a longer Zimbabwe safari, perhaps in combination with the equally remote Mana Pools National Park. Both are revered for their walking opportunities and excellent, old-school guiding – see our Bat Hawk Safari for a superbly unspoilt, immersive experience.
Tell Me A Story…
Sitting around a crackling campfire, nightcap in hand, reminiscing about the day’s wildlife highlights is something of a safari ritual. Between laid-back stargazing and listening to distant animal calls, there’s often a tale of daring or comedic animal antics told by an animated guide. Through listening to these stories, all of us at Expert Africa have often learned more about the places we’re staying, the quirks of the local wildlife or the cultural heritage of our hosts. The simple joy of listening to a seasoned storyteller is good for the soul – and Africa is full of wonderful stories and storytellers.
So we are excited to hear that storytelling is about to receive an even wider audience. In celebration of the tradition, Netflix and UNESCO have recently teamed up to showcase the finest in African folklore. In an open competition, emerging filmmakers from across sub-Saharan Africa have been invited to submit the ‘bravest, wittiest and most surprising retellings of some of Africa’s most-loved folktales’ for a new series.
Each of the six winning filmmakers will receive a US$25,000 prize and a production grant of US$75,000 to develop, shoot and produce their folktale films under the guidance of a team of illustrious mentors from across the African film industry. The resulting films will be streamed on Netflix later in 2022 under the series title African Folktales, Reimagined. We cannot wait to see the results, and hope you enjoy them from wherever you are in the world.
Meanwhile, if you’d like to pull up a director’s chair by the fire, do get in touch with Expert Africa, and we’ll guide you to our favourite campfire spots across Africa, not to mention our favourite storytelling guides.