Vote for your favourite image

We’ve had lions in trees, presidents selling curios and a band of mongooses. Our safari guides have done their work capturing a small slice of Africa for us, and now it’s over to you!

All through 2014, our Guides in East Africa have been snapping away in between collecting guests. Each month we have selected a winning image, awarding a small bonus of $50 USD to the winner, and now the time has come to select the best picture of the 12. The guide capturing the winning image will be awarded a bonus of $250 USD. It has been brilliant to see the range of images captured by our guides. Some months it has been really tricky to select a winner but we have tried to go for some unusual images…

 

To vote, just ‘like’ the post on Facebook and add your comment stating the month you are voting for. We will collate the results, including votes from the staff and announce the winner next month. To see the images individually, check out our Pinterest page here.

1.January -Sammy, Lion, Nakuru
2.February -Henry, Leopard, Samburu
3.March-Samwel, Serval, Serengeti
4.April – George Masai, Baby Elephant in the Mara
5.May – Marco, B&W Elephant , Tarangire
6.June – Charles, Obama Market Stall
7.July – Hashim, vibrant market scene
8.August – Francis, resting cheetahs
9.September – Abdalla, Pride Rock
10. October – Godfrey, Grumpy Buffalos
11.November – Marco, Mighty Mongooses
12.December – Marco, Snoozy Leopard in tree
Please cast your vote by 31 March 2015. 
Thanks to all the guides who took part and congratulations to the monthly winners.
You can get to know the Guides a little better by visiting the About page on our website or clicking here.

 

Our Top Ten Island Getaways in Africa and the Indian Ocean (Part 1)

Are you sitting at work dreaming of escaping to a tropical island in the sun? Forget the Caribbean, Africa has some truly gorgeous island getaways just right for escaping the cold winter or a wet summer. Some are tiny with just a handful of rustic hideaways whilst others are much larger and more established with lots of luxury hotels, fantastic water-sports and world class restaurants.  All of them have sublime scenery; some have dramatic rocky coves whilst others have dreamy beaches with white sand and turquoise waters. Here are the first 5 in our top 10 as voted by the Real Africa team.

Mfangano Island, Lake Victoria, Tanzania

Mfangano Island is found at the eastern end of Lake Victoria and it is one of the team’s favourite islands. The island is a great combination of beautiful scenery, laid back African atmosphere and great wildlife. You can while away many hours just relaxing on the island watching the incredible birdlife or going fishing for your supper. It is also home to one of our favourite camps run by the team behind Governors Camps.  Mfangano Island Camp is a luxury, island hideaway lodge lapped by the waters of Lake Victoria, shaded by giant fig trees, and a secluded atmosphere. There are beautiful lush gardens set on a private bay with enormous boulders which sit at the water’s edge providing a perch for cormorants or giant monitor lizards to sun themselves. You will feel a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life on Mfangano.

Ibo Island, Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique

Our intrepid explorer Lily nominated Ibo Island as one of her favourites having travelled to Mozambique last year. Ibo Island is part of the famous Quirimbas Archipelago which nestles in the Indian Ocean just off the coast of northern Mozambique. Once Mozambique’s mighty trading centre, Ibo Island has remained all but forgotten to the outside world for almost a century. Wander around this colonial little island town and hear tales of pirates and prisoners, turtle shells and silver. Explore old forts and ancient romantic buildings where you can almost feel the history come to life. Ibo is home to some wonderfully majestic historical architecture, some beautifully restored and some left as atmospheric ruins. Add to this almost dazzlingly white sandy beaches and warm turquoise waters, mangrove swamps and quaint fishing villages, giant sand dunes and lush greenery and you have a real paradise. Mozambique and the waters off Ibo Island are also famous for their pristine coral reefs and incredible marine wildlife including manta rays, rare dugongs, a variety of dolphins and all sorts of species of whales. We offer holidays to Ibo Island Lodge which is an award winning beach hotel with a fantastic location and stylish luxury accommodation.

Pemba, Tanzania

Pemba is a small island off the coast of its larger and more famous neighbour Zanzibar. Its remote location and small size has meant that it remained an untouched and pristine island of great beauty and history. The lush mosaic of forests, swamps, mangroves, and gently undulating hills combined with stunning hidden beaches and quiet lagoons makes for a serene and beautiful island getaway. The history of the island is told in the scattered ruins of mosques and tombs hidden away in the forest, some of which date back to Arab colonisation in the 17th century.

Likoma Island, Lake Malawi, Malawi

Likoma Island is another very popular destination amongst the team.  It is unusual in that it actually sits in Mozambican waters but is still part of Malawi. Likoma has a gentle, pretty landscape made up of rolling grassland dotted with trees, secluded coves and beaches and stunning views over to the mainland. There are a handful of hotels on the island but very little traffic as there are no paved roads and people travel by boat.  The waters here are crystal clear and warm making it perfect for snorkelling, diving, kayaking, fishing and sailing. The waters of the lake are also home to wonderful birdlife and the whole atmosphere is very peaceful indeed. We offer stays at the wonderful Kaya Mawa which is a 5 star luxury lodge with incredible views, secluded beaches and gorgeous rooms. It was voted by Conde Nast as one of the top ten most romantic places in the world.

Mafia Island, Tanzania

Another small island off the East African coast and part of the Zanzibar archipelago, Mafia Island is a proper Robinson Crusoe desert island. It is a place to get away and soak up nature in all its finest. Mafia Island’s coral reefs are renowned as an excellent, world-class diving destination. Scientists have confirmed that Mafia has some of the richest reefs in the world, with an unparalleled variety of hard and soft corals and diversity of tropical fish. If you are not one for diving you can explore the island’s nature trails and discover the hidden ruins of lost buildings reclaimed by the jungle. However it is really the gloriously pristine white sandy beaches lapped by gentle warm waters which you tend to have all to yourself that attract most people to Mafia Island. It is wonderfully peaceful and calming and a perfect place to relaxing. We offer a fantastic little rustic retreat called Chole Mjini if Mafia Island sounds the place for you.

If you fancy turning your daydreams into reality then give us a call and we can fix you up!

Posted by Ruth Bolton

 

 

 

 

Real Africa’s little helpers are at it again…

With Christmas tunes blaring out, a box of chocolates on the go and Santa hats in situ, the children of some of the staff gathered round the nearest kitchen table to yet again address and fill envelopes with our Christmas letter to clients and friends of Real Africa. They did a sterling job hopefully matching up the right names with the right envelopes and itineraries!

The letters are now winging their way via Royal Mail in the hope of arriving with everyone between Christmas and New Year. You’ll find lots of news and exciting travel ideas and an invitation to see us in January at Destinations, the UKs biggest travel show. To request your complimentary tickets please click here.

Happy Christmas everyone – we hope you have a wonderful time.

 

Marco’s Mighty Mongooses

Whether you favour mongooses, or (rather controversially) mongeese, I think most would agree that this picture of the aforementioned taken by Marco,  one of our guides in Tanzania, in the Serengeti, is a worthy winner of the Guides’ Monthly Image competition. Congratulations Marco – we love it and were  particularly taken by the way you captured them all huddled together looking so alert. 

Mongoose are a common sight across Africa but can also be found in Europe and Asia with some 33 species.  They live in burrows, usually ones that have been abandoned, preferring a rocky landscape but are highly adaptable and feed on small birds, insects, worms and reptiles. Some species of mongoose are known for their ability to take on venomous snakes – this was famously described by Rudyard Kipling in the Jungle Book with fictional character Rikki Tikki Tavi.They have very sharp claws which are non-retractable, are fast and agile, and have some degree of protection from some snake venoms due to the shape of acetylcholine receptors (neurotransmitters in the nervous system).

Mongooses live for around 4 years in the wild. The female has one litter a year of around 4 babies, who are born blind. Most have brown or grey fur but the banded Mongoose has black stripes on its lower back and is easy to spot. They are ingenious little creatures and interesting to observe, breaking open eggs by throwing them against a rock or bashing them with a stone. They are always highly alert, as pictured, setting off ‘an alarm’ if spotting a threat approaching.

In some countries, such as Hawaii, they are considered a pest. Initially introduced to control vermin,  the mongooses ended up decimating the native bird population. Most species of mongoose are now banned from being imported into the States and also to Australia.

Thanks again Marco – it is easy to be distracted by the Big Five and all the other wonderful large mammals in Africa, and as a result many of the smaller ones get overlooked. It is good to know that our guides are on the look out for all the birds and smaller creatures that make up Africa’s supporting cast as well as keeping their eyes peeled for those in leading roles.

Find out more about Marco here.

 

 

 

Pride Rock – Abdala wins September photo competition

Congratulations to Abdala, one of our guides based in Arusha,  who snapped this fantastic image of a pride of lions in the Serengeti this month and with it wins the Guides’ hotly contested monthly image competition.