Featured Lodge: Sarova Shaba, Kenya

Shaba reserve

Sarova Shaba Lodge is set deep in Shaba National Reserve on the banks of the Ewaso N’giro (Nyiro) River. It is the only lodge on the reserve, with 85 rooms in raised bungalows. The lodge’s expansive pool is the perfect place to relax at the end of a long day of viewing wildlife.

Room exteriors

Guest rooms look out on the river and the lodge’s many fish ponds. Modern bathrooms include both tub and shower; beds are equipped with mosquito nets that are lowered as part of turn-down surface each evening. Rooms are a true retreat, free of the distractions of television and radio. A hot water kettle means you can make tea to enjoy as you sit on your porch to watch the river go by, or enjoy a brisk coffee before breakfast.

Lodge by the Ewaso Nyiro river

Amenities include an outdoor dining boma, bar, spa services (massage, pedicure, manicure, and skin treatments), and a well-appointed giftshop. Wildlife is plentiful in and around the camp, with plenty of vervet monkeys to provide entertainment and crocodiles that sunbathe on the banks of the river. (Steep banks and an electric fence keep the reptiles at a comfortable distance.) Cultural activities include traditional Samburu dancing at dinnertime.

Samburu girls

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.

White giraffe “spotted” in Tanzania

Leucistic giraffe is mostly white with light spots and red mane.
A white giraffe in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania. Photo by Wild Nature Institute.

Tarangire Park in Tanzania is home to a young giraffe with an almost-white coat, according to the Wild Nature Institute, a wildlife organization doing scientific work in Tanzania.

“This giraffe [is] not albino, but leucistic. Leucism is when some or all pigment cells (that make color) fail to develop during differentiation, so part or all of the body surface lacks cells capable of making pigment,” the institute explained in a blog post last April a few months after its scientists first “spotted” her.

Scientists from the institute saw her again in January of this year.

The 15-month-old female giraffe is known by area guides as “Omo” after a local brand of detergent. While much of her hair is white or very pale, she has an orange mane, and coloring below her knees makes it look like she’s wearing orange-dotted knee socks.

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In other giraffe news, have you ever wondered how they get water up their long throats when they bend down to slurp water from a pool or river? Scientists may have figured the physics of it out.