Tips for Long-Haul Flights

Photo by  Nathaniel C. Used through a Creative Commons license.
Photo by Nathaniel C. Used through a Creative Commons license.

As I plan for an upcoming trip to South Africa, I’m paying attention not just to the itinerary, but what I’ll be doing on the flight. It’s a long one: flying from Washington, D.C., to Johannesburg takes 16 to 17 hours, and since I don’t live anywhere near D.C., I’ll have connecting flights, too.

I have some experience with long flights thanks to previous travels to Kenya and Tanzania, but thought I’d peruse the web for more ideas on making the flight fun and comfortable. I found helpful articles in National Geographic Traveler and The New York Times that gave me additional pointers. Some of the things I’m planning to do:

  • Wear comfortable clothes.
  • Bring an ergonomic seat cushion and inflatable back support. These are essential for me since I have back problems, but can increase comfort even for those who don’t.
  • Walk the aisles often to give my legs a stretch.
  • Bring an e-reader loaded with genre books that make fun reading even when I’m half-asleep. (And don’t forget the portable charger, just in case the plane isn’t equipped with USB charging stations.)
  • Watch all the blockbusters I didn’t catch when they were in the theaters.
  • Drink plenty of water.

I am one of those people who have a terrible time falling asleep while sitting up. Some people swear by having a glass of wine, while others prefer melatonin or Benadryl to make them sleepy. (Always check with a doctor before trying a new medicine.) After trial and error, I’ve found a trick that rarely fails to put me to sleep when flying: download the audio narration of a challenging book, like Virgil’s Aeneid or Dante’s Inferno, and listen to it via noise-cancelling earphones when I start to get drowsy. I end up concentrating so hard on trying to understand the narrative that I forget I’m sitting in an airplane, and before I know it, I’m asleep.

For additional tips, check out these articles:

And wherever you’re headed, have a great flight!

This post was written by Kathryn, Ujuzi’s communications assistant.


Good news about rhinos

Rhino cow and baby, Madikwe Game Lodge, North West province. Photo courtesy of South African Tourism
Rhino cow and baby, Madikwe Game Lodge, North West province. Photo courtesy of South African Tourism.

Good news for southern Africa’s rhino population! After almost a decade in which poaching has skyrocketed, South Africa and northwest Namibia saw a decrease in the killing of these animals.

Since 2007, poaching of rhinos has risen drastically in response to an international demand for their horns. Some people mistakenly believe the horns have medicinal value.

Edna Molewa, South Africa’s Environmental Affairs Minister, told the BBC the drop in her country was due to better anti-poaching technology and tighter border controls. In 2015, the country arrested 317 poachers, versus 258 in 2014.

Save the Rhino Trust attributes the drop in northwest Namibia  to increased patrolling of the rhino’s range, made possible by fly camps funded by Conservation Travel Foundation (formerly Tou Trust) and TOSCO (Tourism Supporting Conservation), groups supported by Ujuzi’s partners in Namibia.

Interested in getting involved? Guests at Desert Rhino Camp in Damaraland, Namibia, can participate in conservation in action by tracking desert-adapted rhino with Save the Rhino Trust.

Contact Ujuzi to learn more about visiting South Africa or Namibia.

Taking Kids on Safari

Surveying the savanna. Photo taken by Susan Thurston on an Ujuzi safari to Tanzania.
Surveying the savanna. Photo taken by Susan Thurston on an Ujuzi safari to Tanzania.

In 2016 and 2017, Kenya is waiving visa fees for children. What a great time to introduce your kids or grandkids to the joys of exploration! The country offers a range of fun safari activities for kids of all ages, a few of which include:

  • Feeding endangered Rothschild giraffes by hand at the Giraffe Centre in Karen
  • Petting baby elephants at the Daphne Sheldrick Animal Orphanage and David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
  • Visiting  chimpanzees at the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Ol Pejeta Conservancy.  This sanctuary offers a safe haven for abused and orphaned chimpanzees from West  and Central Africa. (Chimpanzees are not native to Kenya.) After being nursed back to health, chimpanzees spend their days exploring, climbing, socializing, and learning to be chimpanzees all over again. This is an amazing project supported by the Jane Goodall Institute.

Read moreTaking Kids on Safari

South African Airways has great legroom

Row of pink, green and yellow town houses
Bo-Kaap neighborhood in Cape Town, South Africa. Photo by Barry Haynes. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Flights to Africa can be long, but they don’t have to be uncomfortable. Condé Nast Traveller reports that South African Airways provides the second most legroom in the world at an average of 33.5 inches.

South African Airways flies not only to its namesake but also to Namibia and Zimbabwe. It’s a great choice when you’re planning a safari to southern Africa.

Cape Town is among South African Airways’ most popular destinations, and for good reason. On the coast, it’s a great place to start a land-and-sea safari, introducing you to penguins, seals, and other creatures you wouldn’t see inland. Spending a day or two there can also help you adjust to the time difference before you embark to the wilds, and also introduce you to the country’s diverse and vibrant cultures.

Read moreSouth African Airways has great legroom

Explore humanity’s roots in South Africa

Maropeng Visitor Centre. Image (c) Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site
Maropeng Visitor Centre. Image (c) Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site

In the world of archaeology, one of the most exciting spots on the planet is the Cradle of Humankind. Less than an hour’s drive outside Johannesburg, South Africa, this 180-square-mile complex of limestone caves that is one of the most prolific sources of human fossils in the world. Archaeologists have found the remains of numerous hominins, early humans who are close relatives of modern humans, with some fossils dating back as far as 3.5 million years.

Read moreExplore humanity’s roots in South Africa

12 Great Sources for Learning More about South Africa

&Beyond Ngala Tented Camp, Ngala Private Game Reserve on the western edge of Kruger National Park, South Africa
An elephant grazes at Ngala Private Game Reserve in South Africa. Photo courtesy of &Beyond Ngala Tented Camp.

Ujuzi has several trips planned for South Africa. If you’re looking to learn more about the country, its people and wildlife, here are some good places to start.

Read more12 Great Sources for Learning More about South Africa

Meet South African safari guide Graham Johansson

Graham JohanssonUjuzi is excited to be working with longtime safari guide Graham Johansson in South Africa. Graham is an avid wildlife photographer and loves to help others capture the best visual records of their safari experience. He’ll be guiding the Cape Town segment of Ujuzi’s South Africa safari in March 2015.

Read moreMeet South African safari guide Graham Johansson

Join Ujuzi in South Africa!


Ujuzi African Travel and Dickerson Park Zoo invite you on an Ocean & Land Adventure to South Africa from March 1-13, 2016, with an optional extension to Victoria Falls! 

South Africa is a land of amazing diversity – in wildlife, culture, and geography. In just 24 hours, you can swim among African penguins, track uncommonly beautiful mountain zebras, and enjoy tastings at some of the world’s most acclaimed wineries.

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Join us this March for a magnificent journey in this land of discovery. You’ll start out in historic Cape Town, taking in a spectacular view of rocky peaks and blue ocean from the top of Table Mountain. Home to some of the richest biodiversity in the world, the Table Mountain range has more plant species than the entire United Kingdom. Other activities in the Cape include:

Read moreJoin Ujuzi in South Africa!

Travel Tip: Traveling with Kids to South Africa

Update as of 9/2/2015: A Child Visa Checklist has been created by a South African tourism consortium and is now available online to make the process of gathering documentation easier. Once you answer a series of questions, the site will tell you what documents you need for your child. Access the checklist here


Starting June 1, a new South African law will affect children entering the country. Any parent or guardian traveling with a minor under age 18 must present the minor’s unabridged birth certificate to immigration authorities. In addition:

  1. If only one of the parents listed on the certificate is traveling with the child, additional documents must be provided showing that the parent has the right to travel internationally with the child.
  2.  When children are traveling with guardians, guardians must have affidavits of consent to travel from the child’s parents.

Recognizing that the required documentation can be difficult for parents to obtain, South Africa’s tourism ministry is in talks with legislators to change the regulations. In the meantime, children who do not have the required documents may not be allowed  to board flights to South Africa or may be turned away upon arrival in the country.

The full South African immigration regulations concerning traveling with children are:

Read moreTravel Tip: Traveling with Kids to South Africa

Celebrate Endangered Species Day

Endangered Species Day is this Friday, May 15. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to many endangered species that are beloved the world over. It is a privilege to be able to introduce people to this amazing creatures through Ujuzi Travel. I hope these safari photos of endangered animals inspire you to protect them for future generations!

(A list of organization dedicated to protecting vulnerable animals is included below.)

Ellen Wilson took this amazing photo of a young gorilla while traveling with Ujuzi in Rwanda.
Ellen Wilson took this amazing photo of a young gorilla while traveling with Ujuzi in Rwanda.
Elephant family. Photo by Petra Kilian-Gehring.
African elephant family. Photo taken by Petra Kilian-Gehring on an Ujuzi safari to Uganda.
Beautiful grey crowned cranes.
Beautiful crowned cranes spotted on an Ujuzi safari to Tanzania.

Read moreCelebrate Endangered Species Day