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What happens when lions come to tea?

Everyone knows the children’s story of the Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr, but now there is a new version, as recounted by the staff of Robin Pope’s Tena Tena Camp in Zambia’s South Luangwa.

Thanks to Robin Pope for sharing. This is a great story!

“Mabvuto, one of the waiters at Tena Tena Camp recently had a dramatic start to the day. The 4.30am routine was all going according to plan – the fire was laid, the water was in the kettle and the plates were out. That was on Mabvuto  first trip to the camp fire. Then on his second trip he discovered that he had been joined by a pride of 16 lions!! Umm what to do? He hung back and watched as the cubs decided to tip over the plates and play with them, then one of them fancied a nice cup of warm water,  so Mabvuto watched as the cub took the kettle off the fire (let me say the fire wasn’t yet lit) and not realising its own strength pierced the kettle! The lions then appeared to get bored of this game and sauntered off – or so Mabvuto thought. Armed with his broom he went to sort out the mess but soon found himself being curiously approached by one of the cubs so the broom was abandoned and knowing not to run for fear of the curiosity turning into a game, Mabvuto nonchalantly wandered into the bar. Sadly for Mabvuto the curiosity continued and his only route out of trouble was to climb the central pole of the bar and sit up at the very top whilst waiting for the lions to get bored and move off! Needless to say he was somewhat flustered when Christabel arrived at breakfast having no idea of what had just occurred!”

If you would like to experience the Zambian wilderness, check out our sample itineraries and destination guides:

Discover Zambia 

Tena Tena Camp

Zambia Sample Safari Itineraries

Zambia in the Green Season


The 10 best safari videos

Most people who go on safari bring a camera to photograph the animals. Many also bring video camera or use their mobile phones to record some of the amazing things they witness. Its a great way of  letting others back home share the excitement. Real Africa has its own popular You Tube channel – Real Africa’s Video Channel , with nearly half a million views.

Here are some of our favourite clips.

1. The Battle of Kruger.

Perhaps the most famous clip of them all, viewed over 75 million times. In it, a baby buffalo is caught by lions who then have to fight a crocodile off before the buffalo herd regroups and returns. Don’t worry, there’s a happy ending for the buffalo…

2. Impala finds novel way to escape a cheetah.

When a cheetah gets this close, its normally bad news for the impala. Not this time as the impala finds a clever place to hide. Watch out for the bit at the end when they let it out.

3. Baboon gets into a car.

I love this one. The people are so confident, banging on the windows and trying to get the baboons attention. Shame they hadn’t locked the doors.

4. Meerkats climb on cameraman.

I know, hardly cutting edge photography but admit it, those meerkats are cute.

5. Leopard drops in on a kill.

On safari everybody wants to see a kill. This is the only one I’ve ever seen where the chase is vertical. The gazelle didn’t know what hit it.

6. The Predators don’t always win.

This leopard thought it would have a baby warthog for breakfast but the warthog dad had different ideas.

7. Catching it doesn’t mean you’ve won.

This leopard has caught an impala but is chased away by baboons. (Baboons and leopards really don’t like each other). Amazingly, the seemingly dead impala recovers and escapes.

8. Elephant pedicure.

Animal behaviour can be strange. This elephant has just finished grazing in the marshes of Amboseli in Kenya, wading up to its knees in muddy water. It then wanted to get the silt out from between its toes and used a clever way to do so.

9. Learn new things.

Do you know what noise a cheetah makes? You’ll be surprised..

10. Any camera, anybody.

You don’t need to be a BBC Wildlife cameraman armed with a state-of-the-art camera to film something amazing. This clip was filmed by an 8 year old on her mobile phone. What a sight.

Keep an eye on our channel for more amazing videos, as well as guides to safari, the countries, National Parks and animals of Africa.

Winner of Geographical Magazine competition announced

As a Corporate Member of the Royal Geographical Society, and with a Fellow of the RGS within our ranks,  it was with great pleasure that Real Africa teamed up with Geographical, the magazine of the RGS this autumn to offer their readers and supporters the chance to win a fly-in safari to the wonderful Masai Mara in Kenya.

Many of you read Robert’s article on private conservation in the Mara, Nature in the Balance, which appeared in the September edition of Geographical and in turn, many  of you entered the competition to win a safari which closed on 30 November. The prize,  a 3 night fly-in safari to Karen Blixen Tented Camp in Mara North Conservancy, the conservancy discussed in Rob’s editorial piece, gives the winner the opportunity to witness private conservation first-hand, and also to gain further insight into the running of the conservancy when meeting with Justin Heath over sundowner drinks, manager of Mara North.

All you had to do to be in with a shot at winning this wonderful prize was to name the animal lurking in the long grass…

Did you get it right? It was of course a lion, or as many of you pointed out, a lioness. We did get a few tigers and leopards (mainly from those entering late at night) but on the whole the animal was identified correctly.

We can now announce that the winner of the Geographical/Real Africa competition is Mr C.Wilson from London. Many congratulations!

When the team spoke to him to tell him the news his response was, “This is an absolute shock and a lovely Christmas present. I’ve always wanted to go to the Masai Mara and getting to see such a new part of it looks amazing.”

We hope you have a fantastic trip Mr Wilson, see lots of lions and we can’t wait for you to report back on your experience. Enjoy!





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.




Beaches, battlefields and bateleurs – KwaZulu Natal is small but mighty

The Western Cape’s Garden Route is rightly a well-trodden path for international visitors to South Africa, while Kruger is known worldwide as an iconic safari destination. But for those wishing to escape ‘well trodden’ and to really get under the skin of South Africa, then we recommend looking east to the tiny province of KwaZulu Natal.

KwaZulu Natal may be South Africa’s third smallest province but this doesn’t stop it packing a punch as far as experiences are concerned with two World Heritage sites, fabulous beaches, the Big Five, historic battlefields and a colourful Zulu culture.

Our new KwaZulu Natal in Luxury itinerary, brings together the very best of KwaZulu Natal to showcase what can be done in a two week holiday.

KwaZulu Natal in Luxury, 15 days from £3,770 per person including international flights, accommodation and car hire.

Here are five reasons why KwaZulu Natal should be on your wish list:


This historic Zulu kingdom is steeped in history and culture, from ancient San Bushmen rock art sites in the UNESCO World Heritage uKhahlamba-Drakensberg mountain range, South Africa’s highest mountain range, to a living museum in Hluhluwe where traditional Zulu dancing and craftwork are demonstrated. The remnants of the British colonial era blend with Zulu, Indian and Afrikaans traditions to give this province a rich cultural diversity.


Beautiful beaches stretch every which way from the gateway city of Durban and being on the Indian Ocean coast, the added benefit is that the water is actually warm while shark nets and lifeguards ensure that time in the water surfing and swimming is spent safely. Alluring cafes and sophisticated restaurants line the stylish Umhlanga Rocks area near Durban, perfect for downtime after a long international flight.


Abundant wildlife can be experienced along the Elephant Coast to the north of Durban. Within iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a 328,000 hectare UNESCO World Heritage Site benefiting from beautiful beach and reef habitats of the Indian Ocean on one side and steamy tropical lake, forest and wetland habitats on the other, visitors can canoe, trek, fish and wander along stunning beaches in search of leatherback turtles, dolphins and whales. Inland at Phinda, a private game reserve, you can stay in luxurious safari camps and see all the Big Five as well as a host of other wildlife including wild dogs. This area is known for its thriving black and white rhino population, following concerted conservation efforts.


Take the Midlands Meander, a food and wine trail where farm stalls like Piggly Wiggly, cafes and restaurants beckon. Viticulture is in its first decade of development but there are already notable labels including Abingdon and Lion’s River to sample along the way. Finish the Meander with a stay at Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse, a gourmet retreat set in a remote valley on a lake where seven course dinners, mountain walks and roaring log fires are the order of the day.


No trip to KwaZulu Natal would be complete without a stay in the Battlefields. An area made famous by the Anglo-Boer Wars. The quiet hills now ring with the voices of expert guides who tell visitors of South Africa’s bloodiest chapter in history, of the struggle at Isandlwana where the British were defeated by the Zulu in 1879 and then just days later how the British defended Rorke’s Drift so gallantly.

To find out more about the lodges we offer in KwaZulu Natal, like historic Fugitives’ Drift, or to receive a tailor-made itinerary for South Africa then please do get in touch with us on 01603 283 517.

By Sara White