So you have booked your holiday and coming on a South African safari and stopping at Entabeni for a few nights.
Months of planning has gone into your travel plans. You are almost on route to Limpopo in South Africa, where you will encounter the Big Five in a 22,000-hectare Game Reserve.
But before getting on the plane and arriving in South Africa, there are a few things you will need to pack before embarking on a wildlife adventure.
NOTE: Keep it simple. Keep it light and don’t overthink it.
The right clothes and toiletries
Packing the right clothes are essential when going on a safari. If you are travelling by small aircraft then a weight restriction will be compulsory, so best keep to 20kgs max, unless told otherwise by your trusted travel advisor. Be sure to check.
For most travellers, safari usually looks like a warm sunny holiday, but the evenings and early mornings can be rather chilly, so it is essential to have the correct attire. Keep away from bright colours and note that most safari lodges included same-day laundry service.
Layering is essential when dressing for safari. We recommend you dress for cold, chilly mornings, and as the sun rises over the African Sky, you can start delayering as the temperature rises. Same goes for evenings. Comfortable clothes are most practical with a good set of sneakers/hiking boots, shorts and shirts. Popular quick-drying fabrics with ventilation and pants that convert to shorts are great clothing item. Be sure to bring a hat and swimming costume for those sunny afternoons.
Admittedly 2020 was a challenging year for the world, and it was quite a shock when everything came to a global standstill. But with that in the past and with the knowledge that has been gained, we can put that behind and look forward to a new year with hopefully many travels to look forward to.
First and foremost, you can Discover Africa the best by doing an authentic safari, and Africa is the place to be. A safari will take the top spot for being the safest post corona holiday.
Our traveller safety is our top priority, and we would like to ensure your peace of mind before you decide to lock down your trip.
Intrigued, but cautious?
If you have been thinking about an African safari or started planning, but put your plans on hold due to the pandemic, we understand that. However, to note that this too shall pass. With hopeful predictions of a vaccine being made available soon.
Planning a safari is an already daunting task, but it is worth mentioning the best trips are planned well ahead of time. Currently, safari deals are going at incredible deals with great benefits such as the exchange rate favouring most international travellers. Thus, there has not been a better time to book.
Further relaxed term and conditions have been made available to ensure you are covered in postponing your trip if travel is halted due to a covid related incident. Secondly, some lodges have to cut capacity with social distancing regulations, leading to an even more private, secluded safari experience. Another added benefit!
The cherry on top is that your input and safari travel option will directly impact the local communities and wildlife. There is a tremendous effort to protect wildlife, conservation habits and providing work, whilst educating children across the vast African continent.
Are people currently on safari?
Oh yes! Very much indeed – there are already a significant number of travellers on safari, planning to be here soon and in the future.
Africa’s current stance is that most destinations are open for all travel, except for specific internal restrictions. At the forefront of it all, tourists have been travelling to Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Botswana and South Africa since the last few months of 2020.
There has also been positive feedback regarding excellent service, comfort and assurance that health and safety protocols are being adhered to. There has also been an influx in bookings of safaris. So, space is already limited. Best get setting a date to contact your local tour operator before missing out.
Is it safe?
Yes! An African Safari is not just the best choice but also the safest.
Many African lodges and accommodation have implemented new travel regulations since the start of 2020 and the pandemic’s arrival. We all want to be healthy and have peace of mind that our loved ones aren’t at risk of contracting the disease.
Without saying – safari camps, lodges, hotels, public spaces have implemented safety protocols. Stringent regulations have been put in place. It is well known that safari’s do take place in wide-open grasslands, with limited travellers. Social distancing will not be an issue.
Flights and Covid-19
This is very important, particularly with the pandemic. This will also add to peace of mind when getting on your plane coming to Africa.
Many other safety protocols have been implemented with a high concentration on airport and travel.
Most international airlines request travellers to produce a PCR certificate. A COVID-19 PCR certificate indicates that a test was done to confirm that you are COVID – negative. This must be conducted 72 hours before departure.
The same might be required when arriving at a transit airport or back in your own country. Luckily most travel partners can arrange in-lodge Covid tests, alternatively, they will transfer you to an authorised testing facility.
With a new way of travelling, we believe that the luxury of wide-open spaces and the chance to explore vast wilderness areas in private make a safari the best and safe travel option in 2021 and 2022.
If you are still concerned about travel plans and booking your safari, then reach out to a tour operator who works closely with all travel partners and can help you make informed decisions.
A TED Talk by Dr Lucy King discusses how a small yet powerful insect, the bee, may hold the key to protecting both elephants and humans.
Elephants are the largest land mammals on earth. These complex social creatures are vital to ecology and amongst other things play a key role in the semination of plants across Africa. They are also however, a nuisance, and even an enemy to many people throughout Africa who live side-by-side with these amazing animals.
Due to steadily decreasing natural territory and the increasing spread of humans, elephant habitats and thus their food sources are under threat. As any animal would do, elephants will take food from wherever they can find it, irrelevant of humans.
Dr Lucy King, Zoologist, has turned her life’s fascination with elephants into her life’s mission: to protect these animals from humans. Dr King talks about her youth spent with her family throughout the game reserves in Southern Africa, and how seeing tall electrified fences blocking off the game reserves disturbed her. After spending many years studying elephants in the wild, Dr King observed that elephant-human conflict is very much an issue, especially in the more rural and under-developed areas, where humans and elephants fight for the same thing: space and food.
Elephants migrate in order to find food and that means that they sometimes get stuck inside human areas which leads to alarming and undesirable behaviour like breaking into homes and shops to grab food and crashing through water tanks and walls and also trampling crops. In these situations, elephants threaten the livelihood of many and are therefore unwelcome and won’t be tolerated.
So far electrified fences are no real match for elephants, yet humans continue to erect these. Dr King explains that we need to understand the behaviour of elephants in order to harness the best possible way to keep them out of certain areas. In Northern Kenya, rural pastoralists told Dr King about how elephants who broke the branches of trees that had beehives in them were exposed to thousands of beestings. Elephants have phenomenal memories and much of their memory informs their behaviour and how they protect their young. In a nutshell the elephants did not like the pain of a thousand beestings and would remember that particular tree was dangerous and would therefore stay away from it. Dr King wanted to know more about how African elephants and African bees interact which lead her to play the sound of the African bee to elephants through wireless speakers under trees. The reaction was dramatic. The elephants immediately displayed behaviours peculiar to avoiding bees and their stings- flapping ears, shaking heads, and even a hasty retreat into the savannah.
This led Dr King to design a ‘beehive fence’. This fence has a simple design where 12 real hives and 12 dummy hives are used to protect a 1-acre plot. The dummy hive looks exactly like the real hives and is just a visual trick and trigger, but which also brings the cost of the fences down massively. The hives are spaced 10 metres apart. The beehives are held up by posts with a shade roof and they are all connected with a piece of wire. The wire is a nifty trick- the elephants are smart enough to avoid the hives but may try to crash through the fence between the hives. This will cause the wire to swing, in turn making all the hives swing and disturb the bees. The hope is that the elephants will flee in order to avoid being stung and they’ll remember not to come back to the area.
The guidelines for interactions with caged wildlife have been changed for the better in order to protect the well-being of these animals.
There are many places within and around South Africa where people can have close interactions with caged wildlife. Most of the time, when we visit these places, we don’t think of the cost to the wellbeing of the animals themselves and are led to believe that they’re treated humanely and well cared for. A huge part of our tourism industry is built around having the opportunity to touch an exotic animal whether that be riding an elephant or holding a lion cub. No matter how well these animals are treated, we cannot be sure that these human interactions are beneficial to them.
In a bold move towards the end of last year, the South African Tourism Services (SATSA) declared that interactions with wildlife including infant wildlife, walking with predators and elephants; interactions with predators and riding of wild animals is no longer acceptable. It is strange that the tourism industry would step into the arena especially when much of the local industry rides on this.
The association’s Animal Interactions board committee announced last year that it will no longer recommend facilities which offer these activities to international tour operators or international visitors. The National Department of Tourism has welcomed this decision which is committed to protecting our wildlife and natural resources. Although it may seem like a death knell for sectors of the tourism industry, it is in line with a more global view of conservation and ecology which aims to preserve and protect by observing and admiring ethically and without disturbance. If we are to preserve our natural heritage in SA, we can no longer exploit our resources as we have done before.
Previously there were no clear guidelines on the nature of wildlife interactions, however the new guidelines outline some strict criteria, which if not adhered to will result in immediate disqualification. These include animals used for performances, any tactile interactions with infant wildlife, predators and aquatic wildlife, walking with predators and large mammals like elephants and the riding of animals including ostriches and elephants.
In order to protect the inbound tourism industry, it is incumbent on tour operators to push this agenda and uphold the values by educating and informing their guests of why this decision has been made and what it entails.
The consumption of exotic animal meat is translating into super viruses which are posing a real threat to humanity. In order to control the spread of these viruses, we need to get a handle of the illegal trading of these threatened animals.
With the recent outbreak of the Wuhan Virus in china, medical scientists and researchers are scrambling to find the link which may be responsible for passing the virus on to humans. Although pangolins don’t normally pose any threat to humans, the consumption of pangolin meat comes with a host of risks. Researchers at the South China Agricultural University have said that pangolins are a potential immediate host and the consumption of pangolin meat could be responsible for the outbreak of the Wuhan Virus. China has a huge live animal trade, and many exotic animals are bought and sold live under horrible conditions, with pangolins only one example on a long list of others.
Out of the 8 known pangolin species, 4 are found in Africa, and one brave African is dedicating his life to helping this species. Charles Emogor of Nigeria is extremely passionate about pangolins, especially the white-bellied pangolin. The white-bellied pangolin has now been reclassified from vulnerable to endangered. Emogor laments that he has never seen a pangolin in the wild even during his 2-year field research in the forest in Nigeria. He says has only ever seen them strung up for sale in local markets, part of the reason he has embarked on the first ever pangolin research in the Cross-River Rainforest in Nigeria.
Emogor says that pangolins are extremely important to ecology. They are insect-feeders and therefore keep the termite and ant populations in check. Due to their scaly armour and instinct to roll up into a tight ball when under threat, pangolins don’t really have any natural predators. The only threat they face comes from humans.
As most people now understand, the complete decimation of any species has massive ramifications for all living beings on this planet. As much as we may not realise the value of the pangolin, they have their place in our ecosystem and are not for human consumption. Several African countries are beginning to wake up to this fact, and both Cameroon and South Africa have established conservation groups primarily focused on saving the pangolin.
Pangolin’s are an intriguing and elusive species, and not only is their territory is under increasing pressure due to human activity, they are also the world’s most trafficked animal.
Pangolins have come under the spotlight in recent times, and not for happy reasons- in fact, it is because they are now the endangered species list and it’s due to humans. These strange looking creatures are pretty harmless, if you’ve not seen one (which is likely the case) they are somewhere between an ant-eater and an armadillo; a long snout for forage feeding, and long telescopic-type tail and a body literally covered by scales which look like a blend of tortoise shell and knight’s armour. If anything, their appearance is certainly intriguing. But it’s not their appearance which makes them hot property, but rather that they’re a valuable commodity to many Asian countries.
Pangolins are literally being eaten into extinction. It is estimated, that more than a million pangolins have been taken from the wild in the last 10 years; that’s one hundred thousand pangolins every year. If that number doesn’t make you uncomfortable then read on. First of all, it is illegal to trade in pangolins, even in Asia, yet this is the very region where the black market for exotic animals is thriving. Pangolin meat is considered a delicacy and is highly sought-after despite the ban on illegal trading. Pangolins are not only desired for their meat however, pangolin scales are used to treat a variety of ailments in Chinese medicine.
Much like rhino horn, the practice of trading pangolins is not only cruel but also unsustainable. Also, like rhino horn, there is no evidence that pangolin scales are beneficial for treating medical issues. Asian pangolin species have been decimated by Asia’s voracious appetite for this mammal, and now illegal traders are crossing over into Africa to feed the growing need. China and Vietnam are the two countries responsible for much of the trading, and due to this, eight of the known pangolin species are listed as nearing extinction.
“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.” – John Lubbock
The overarching vision for Entabeni is to introduce an inclusive school life and multi-cultural learning environment for residents and their children. The education provided will be as vast as the land it is set on, as it will focus on more than just providing the basic school curriculum; those who school at Entabeni will learn skills that are far-reaching into life, with focus on sport, artisan trade, agriculture, hospitality and culture.
Education essentials and eco-system
With development already underway, the Entabeni Campus plans to open its first phase of enrolment in 2020, for 120 learners ranging from Grade 8 and 9. This is just the first phase of the greater vision for Entabeni Campus and will even provide 60 boarding rooms for all the successfully enrolled pupils, as well as a number of rooms for teachers. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served at the local Clubhouse and Boma. For the school section, currently there are 4 break-away rooms and 4 high-tech classrooms, an outdoor amphitheatre and a conference venue. This foundation stage is set to be operational within 2021 and run by one of the country’s leading educational institutions.
Phase 2 will follow in 2022 to 2023, where the Entabeni Campus will be able to accommodate 1000 students from primary school through to secondary school. Thereafter, Phase 3 will introduce tertiary education and create a learning eco-system that will set individuals up with practical skills and extensive knowledge to prepare them for the working world.
Beyond classroom walls
On top of the basic education programme provided, grounded in a basic school curriculum, learners will have exposure to first-hand, practical experiences that will take their learning far beyond the classroom. The Entabeni Campus will allow learners to live in amongst nature, as well as have the opportunity to be schooled ‘under the stars’.
Within the first Phase of the development of the Entabeni Campus, children will be exposed to cultural activities such as ballet, art, hospitality, conservation and agriculture, along with a state-of-the-art sports centre that will offer golf, soccer, rugby, tennis, as well as hiking and cross country.
The Entabeni Campus will provide specialised college-level qualifications and education in hospitality, agriculture and artisan trades.
Live and learn
Entabeni offers the unique opportunity to reside within nature and experience it in all its glory. Going beyond providing an authentic big 5 lifestyle, Entabeni is building a community of like-minded individuals through a dynamic and uniquely shaped educational eco-system.
Backed by global leaders
The masterplan behind Entabeni is brought to you by Legend IFA Development, with renowned IFA Hotels & Resorts being at the forefront of this entity. IFA is regarded as global leaders in development of premier integrated mixed-use hotel and residential resort projects, as well as leisure services. Their development footprint expands across the world from the Middle East, Europe, Africa, the Indian Ocean, to Asia and North America. Their premium developments have resulted in gained investor and homeowner trust, as well as strategic acquisitions and partnerships with heavyweights in the property, travel and tourism industry.
This is Entabeni
Popularly known as the ‘place of the mountains’, Entabeni is an integrated lifestyle node situated in Limpopo, 90 minutes from Polokwane and 2 hours from Pretoria. Set within a tranquil, natural setting boasting changing vistas, diverse eco-systems and a breath-taking mountainous backdrop. This area is home to vast bushveld, exquisite nature, beautiful birdlife and an array of Africa’s treasured wildlife.
Authentic Big 5 experience
Entabeni offers you the opportunity to own a piece of African paradise. Entabeni is the integration of a 22,000 hectare Big 5 Game Reserve, a resort, luxurious lodges, championship golf course and a complete residential offering. The residential and lifestyle brands within Entabeni Reserve, Garingani Estate and Mountain’s Mark, will encompass Big 5, wildlife, equestrian, aviation and golf living combined with education and retail.
Embrace afternoons watching the sunset across the mountains and enjoy encountering wildlife in their natural element. The vast land will become your back garden to explore nature’s best. Entabeni offers residents a balance of tranquillity, with a touch of modern conveniences and a host of exclusive facilities on their doorstep.
It is not well known that Africa’s wild dogs are under threat. In fact, they are so threatened that there is only one free roaming wild pack left in South Africa. What this means is that these dogs were not reintroduced into the wild after rehabilitation, they were not bread in captivity and they did not escape from an enclosure. They are Wild Dog which are born and raised in the wild.
Wild Dogs have come under threat because they are carnivorous hunters who like to roam and hunt. This has resulted in a lot of conflict between farmers of large herbivorous and bovine animals and the African Wild Dog and it is understandable that a farmer may resort to drastic action to curb his livestock losses caused by the Wild Dog. Sadly though, the steps taken by farmers to protect their livestock have in many cases, been sinister and violent acts. There are reports of Wild Dogs being poisoned and even deliberately, run over by vehicles.
The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) established the Carnivore Conservation Program which has the sole aim of preserving the last free-roaming pack of Wild Dogs in South Africa. Through the efforts of the EWT and the Carnivore Conservation Program (CCP), two of the Wild Dogs have now been collared and can be remotely monitored. By monitoring the pack, the EWT are able to learn more about the pack, where they roam. Being able to track the pack means funds can be generated through eco-tourism, and part of these funds are paid to landowners who prioritise the protection of Wild Dog on their property. Outside of this the CCP is able to inform landowners when the pack is on their land thereby allowing the landowner to be prepared for their arrival and not have to resort to violent methods in order to protect his livestock.
This particular pack is made up of 11 animals and is truly genetically unique from all other Wild Dogs throughout the country. It is no surprise that real efforts are being made to protect them and that the conservation of this last free-roaming pack is a top priority.
It was Hollywood which really popularised the life and work of The Elephant Whisperer, Mr. Lawrence Anthony. His book of the same name was met with critical acclaim and then went on the become a feature film which turned the spotlight on the nature of elephants in the wild. A friend of the animal kingdom, Anthony’s genuine and deep spiritual love for these great African beasts has helped him cement his place as one of South Africa’s conservation heroes.
Anthony grew up in the wild bush and earned his stripes by rehabilitating unruly and rogue elephants. One of the most famous and early stories involves Anthony trying to calm a mother elephant as her calf and the rest of the herd stood close by. As with any large mammal in the wild, mothers are fiercely protective of their calves, and elephants especially so. In his own words Anthony describes standing in front of an irate and unreasonable mother elephant who was moments away from crashing through an electric fence and potentially killing him and then herself, facing the wrath of humans. He describes how he found a way to speak calmly and to plead with Nana, the elephant in question, not to do what she was about to do because the outcome would be bad. He laughs at the absurdity of what was happening and how here he was, a small insignificant human with bones like dust in front of a large, angry and powerful elephant. Anthony describes that at one moment as he and Nana looked into each other’s eyes, that something changed. What began as a staring match now became an exchange of feeling, an understanding if you will. No words were needed as he and Nana were now communicating heart to heart. Fortunately, Nana backed down, made and about turn and disappeared into the thick of the bush with her herd in tow. The story of Nana above is just a short bit of the whole tale; a tale which happened almost by chance and was led by Anthony’s courage and unwavering love for the wild. After being contacted to help control a herd of elephants who had gone ‘rogue’, Anthony witnessed firsthand the sheer power and iron will of these animals. After a stand off lasting days and a herd that kept swelling in numbers, desperate to break through an electric fence, the herd very cleverly discovered and destroyed the electric box which powered the fence. The herd was now free and headed northwards, Anthony had the dubious honour of getting these animals to not go any further. After a restless night he describes the eureka moment which set the tone for his future.
“Then, in a flash, came the answer. I would live with the herd. To save their lives, I would stay with them, feed them, talk to them. But, most importantly, be with them day and night. We all had to get to know each other.”
Here was where Anthony’s amazing life story as The Elephant Whisperer began- his life was dedicated to the protection and conservation of these complicated beings. Anthony died in March of this year at his rural residence in the Zululand, South Africa. The news of his death spread worldwide and condolences and messages from all over poured in, but the most poignant of them all did not come from a human, it came from the animal kingdom. After his death a herd of rehabilitated elephants appeared. They loitered outside his house for 2 days after what must have been a 12-hour journey through the wild bush. Many of the elephants present were the same rogue elephants Anthony had encountered in the past and who he had successfully rehabilitated. These once violent and unreasonable creatures were now here to pay their last respects to the man who had saved
their lives. According to Anthony’s son, Dylan, not one but two previously violent herds arrived. They had not come near the house for about a year-and-a-half yet here they were.
How did they know Anthony had passed away? Anthony knew how to get to the heart of these animals, he was respectful and mindful, he took risks and he took time to get to know the herds. As they say, ‘an elephant never forgets’ and these elephants certainly did not forget him. How could they?