Hartley's Swirl Icon

LATEST NEWS

  • Birding on Rubondo Island National Park, Tanzania
    0 14819 Like 0 people like this
    Birding on Rubondo Island National Park, Tanzania

    Lying in the southwestern corner of Lake Victoria, the whole of Rubondo Island is given over to conservation. It is Africa’s largest island national park (26 kilometres long and varying from 3 to 10 kilometres wide). Over three-quarters of its 25 000 hectares are blanketed in untouched equatorial forest – an unusual protected habitat for Africa’s wildlife.


    It’s a rare privilege to set foot on Rubondo. Bar a handful of park wardens, wildlife researchers and camp staff, the island is uninhabited by humans and has been set aside as a refuge for threatened chimpanzees, families of elephant and the shy sitatunga antelope. The surrounding waters of Lake Victoria are a crucial breeding ground for tilapia and the enormous Nile perch. This unique corner of Africa is a sanctuary to be enjoyed by only a handful of fortunate – and intrepid – travellers.


    The camp – the only lodgings on this verdant island – immerses you in this lush and unspoilt ecosystem. From its lakefront location to the eco-friendly design of the eight fabulous cottages, the camp offers unrivalled access to this one-of-a-kind destination, where elephant roams wild, colourful birds and butterflies flit through the pristine indigenous rainforest and the waters teem with hippo, crocodile and the iconic Nile perch.


    Birding Itinerary


    East Africa’s birdlife is quite simply stunning and very plentiful. This itinerary will take you through vibrant swamps and mighty rivers to discover the water birds before moving to the higher altitude of the Upper Rift Valley and then to the rolling grasslands of the Serengeti. Explore the lakeshore of Rubondo Island, an ornithologist’s dream, before ending in Ruaha to view both northern and southern species in the same area.

    Itinerary offers:



    • View the pelicans and pink-hued flamingo of Lake Manyara

    • From November to March spot the rare Eleonora’s falcon in Ruaha

    • Tick off both water and forest dwelling species at Rubondo Island


    Days 1 & 2: Rivertrees Country Inn, Arusha

    Once an old coffee estate, Rivertrees is now a charming country inn nestled in abundant foliage with the Usa River flowing by. Set in the foothills of Mt Meru, conveniently close to Kilimanjaro International Airport and a short drive to Arusha, its location proffers a wealth of natural wonders to explore. 

    Activities: Game drives; Canoeing; Mountain biking; Cultural & community visits.












    Days 3 & 4: Oliver’s Camp, Tarangire National Park

    Discover Tarangire, a park with over 500 recorded species of birdlife. With varied habitats ranging from vibrant swamps to rolling grasslands and acacia woodlands there is a bird diversity to match, and ashy starlings and yellow-collared lovebirds, endemic to Tanzania, can both be found here.

    Activities: Game drives; walking safaris; Fly camping


    Day 5: Serena Manyara, Lake Manyara National Park

    Stop off at Lake Manyara, a water-birdlover’s paradise that’s home to herons, egrets, storks and spoonbills. And of course the elegant pink flamingo that congregate around the shores of the shallow, alkaline lake of the same name, alongside huge populations of pelicans.

    Activities: Game drives; Boating; Cultural & community visits


    Day 6: Plantation Lodge, Ngorongoro Conservation Area

    With easy access to the world-famous Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Plantation Lodge is a wonderful base from which to discover the birds of the Upper Rift Valley. The tropical gardens around the lodge also attract colourful birds and butterflies for some viewing closer to home.

    Activities: Game drives; Cultural & community visits


    Days 7 – 8: Dunia Camp, Central Serengeti

    Explore the heart of the Serengeti from Dunia, a tranquil tented camp with expansive views of the pristine wilderness. With a varied habitat of grasslands dotted with acacia groves and the vast granite protrusions, the Moru Kopjes, the resident birdlife is superb and sightings spectacular.

    Activities: Game drives; Balloon safaris; The Great Migration (May/June and November/December)


    Days 9 – 11: Rubondo Island Camp, Rubondo Island, Lake Victoria

    Explore Africa’s largest island National Park, Rubondo, and the phenomenal birdlife hiding in the equatorial forest and lakeshore papyrus. Over 400 endemic and migratory species have been recorded on its shores, and darters, cormorants, egrets and pied kingfisher are common.

    Activities: Game drives; Forest walks & hikes; Canoeing & boating; Fishing


    Day 12: Onsea House, Arusha

    Just outside Arusha on the drive from Kilimanjaro Airport is Onsea House. Owner-managed and run, the house has an intimate and friendly feel. Add to this the superb staff and a reputation for culinary excellence and Onsea House is a wonderful place to spend your first night in Tanzania.


    Days 13 – 14: Kwihala Camp, Ruaha National Park

    The last stop is the iconic Ruaha, a park with 580 species of recorded birds and an interesting mix of northern and southern species. Of note are the substantial populations of black-collared lovebirds and ashy starlings as well as a number of water birds on the banks of the great Ruaha River.

    Activities: Game drives; walking safaris


    Cost: From US$ 11 042.00per person sharing


    Please click here to contact one of our consultants to assist you

    with a comprehensive itinerary including flights and transfers

  • A unique coastal birding hotspot, South Africa
    0 14772 Like 0 people like this
    A unique coastal birding hotspot, South Africa

    One of Hartley’s favourite destinations is a luxury eco-reserve close to the Southern tip of Africa tucked between mountains, forest and sea.  With 118 different bird species, Grootbos is uniquely positioned to offer both avid birders and curious novices a rich and varied birding experience. Glimpse the vivid orange of a Sunbird’s breast, see a Cape Sugarbird sipping on nectar or spot a rare Black Harrier.


    Cool Afromontane forests, the rocky coastline and serene estuaries provide a magnificent backdrop to our birding outings. Our experienced guides will share fascinating facts while helping you spot rare and endemic birds feeding and breeding in these different ecosystems.






    What’s on offer?



    • A dedicated birding tour, walk a short trail or simply spot birds from your suite.

    • Look out for the Black Harrier, Knysna Woodpecker, Southern Tchagra and Cape Rock Thrush.

    • Upated bird lists and bird books are available.


    Standard 3 nights Package

    Day 1 - Overview

    After a celebratory drink on arrival, enjoy a delicious lunch either in our restaurant or on the deck outside. After lunch, check in to your suite and make yourself comfortable before taking a trip to the pristine nearby Walker Bay beach, where dramatic rock formations and a vivid blue ocean provide the perfect backdrop to your historical cave tour. Back at Grootbos, enjoy the most decadent six-course dinner paired with award-winning local wines.


    Day 2 - Overview

    Enjoy breakfast in our restaurant or on the outside deck, before gearing yourself up for a morning of adventure. Experience the adrenalin rush of a personal encounter with a great white shark during a once-in-a-lifetime shark cage diving excursion. Alternatively, experience the Marine Big 5 first hand on a boat based trip when you spot whales, sharks, penguins, dolphins and seals. In the afternoon, embark on a horseback adventure through the reserve before ending your day with another sumptuous six-course dinner.


    Day 3 - Overview

    Explore the unique Cape Floral Kingdom on a revitalising 4x4 tour through the reserve as you soak up the fresh air and natural beauty that surrounds you. During the trip, our specialised guides will tell you facts about this rare flora in ways that will amaze and fascinate you. After lunch, learn more about our Green Futures and Growing the Future Colleges which help with the upliftment of local communities. After a busy morning, relax with a full body massage in our Forest Spa, surrounded by ancient Milkwood trees. End the day off with another six-course dinner and retire to your suite sun-kissed and sated.


    Day 4 - Overview

    On your last morning at Grootbos, join one of our guides on an early morning walk through the magical Milkwood forest as the dappled light and gnarled ancient branches create a mysterious setting. After a final breakfast in our restaurant, depart Grootbos with a host of memories you won’t soon forget.


    Cost: From R 9100.00 per night per 2 adults sharing in a luxury suite

    These rates include luxury 5 star accommodation ; full English breakfasts,3 course lunches and 6 course dinners; guided walks and hikes;  nature, marine & coastal drives; horse-riding; and a variety of land-based guided adventures.



    Please click here to contact one of our consultants to assist you

    with a comprehensive itinerary including flights and transfers

  • Green season Birding Safari in Zambia
    0 13839 Like 0 people like this
    Green season Birding Safari in Zambia

    The green season months are the most exciting for birding in Zambia. The migrants are present and many local birds are in full breeding plumage and are singing. Over 400 species of birds have been recorded in South Luangwa National Park and some of the highlights include Western Banded Snake Eagle, Lilian's Lovebird, Collared Palm Thrush and the stunning Fire-crowned Bishop in its summer finery.


    In addition to the regular game drives birding guests will also venture out on foot specifically listening for bird calls. There will be an emphasis on exploring the wide variety of different habitats to be found in the Luangwa Valley.


    As well as mixed riverine woodland with its lagoons and backwaters you will visit mopane forests home to species like the Arnot's Chat and Racket-Tailed Roller which will not be seen elsewhere. One day will be spent driving across the Park to the Mchinga Escarpment (weather and roads allowing!). You will drive through brachystegia and other woodlands until you reach the escarpment to look for Pale-Billed Hornbills and other very rare Luangwa sightings.


    The birding guides offer an unequalled knowledge of Luangwa's birdlife and there is always an opportunity for guests not only to see many new species but also to learn a lot about the physiology, behaviour and distribution of birds.


    Choose from either a family Lodge or the luxury of Chinzombo for this adventure.


    Day 1

    Meet your designated representative in Lusaka Airport where you will be escorted to your connecting flight to Mfuwe, your gateway to the South Luangwa National Park. This flight takes just over an hour. On arrival at Mfuwe Airport, you will be transported to Chinzombo, where you can settle into your chalet. This afternoon after an excellent afternoon tea, you will participate in your first game viewing activity, exploring the surrounding area on the back of a 4X4 vehicle with an expert birding guide.


    Days 2 -7

    Over the course of the week there is the opportunity to go on an all-day drive, allowing you the chance to explore deeply into the Park. Taking a picnic lunch with you, lunch can be set up in the shade of a gorgeous old tree, with the sounds of the bush and the birds a symphony in the background. On other days, you will set off early to catch the morning light and enjoy afternoon/evening drives where you’ll get to see magnificent skyscapes and sunsets, a wealth of migratory birds, lions and leopards on the hunt and occasional dramatic tropical downpours.


    Day 8

    This morning you will enjoy one final hearty breakfast at your camp, and then make your way to Mfuwe Airport for your domestic flight back to Lusaka.


    Best for: Those interested in seeing migrant bird species and breeding plumage; the budget conscious traveller who want great value and stunning photography opportunities

    Included: This safari is sold on a fully inclusive basis with: accommodation, all meals, standard bar drinks, laundry, Mfuwe Airport transfers to/from our camps, inter-camp transfers and two guided safaris per day.


    Please click here to contact one of our consultants to assist you with a comprehensive itinerary

  • The baobabs of Tarangire
    0 5607 Like 0 people like this
    The baobabs of Tarangire
    Tarangire National Park in Tanzania is home to some of the oldest trees in the world; baobabs. Sometimes called the “upside-down tree” because of their unusual root-like branch formations, baobabs are extremely long-lived. They are thought by local tribes to contain mysterious powers because they can be hacked, burnt, have their bark removed and people can even move into the trunk and they keep growing. A great example is Sanctuary Swala Tented Camp whose tent number 5 is built around an old tree which, hundreds of years ago, had a love seat carved into it!

    In Tarangire at the turn of the 20th Century a group of 6 poachers lived in the trunk of a baobab for many months. They outfoxed the rangers chasing them and were only caught when they had an argument one day and a passing patrol happened to hear them!

    www.hartleys-safaris.co.uk/Tanzania-Tarangire-Sanctuary-Swala-Camp
  • Serengeti Highway
    0 4636 Like 0 people like this
    Serengeti Highway
    A project to build a road through Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park could put pay to one of the planet’s greatest natural spectacles – the annual great wildebeest migration.

    The 480-kilometre road will link Musoma on the banks of Lake Victoria to Arusha, and according to the Tanzanian government bring essential economic development to the region. Conservationists warn the road will disfigure the park and kill the migration.

    The project has attracted enormous criticism from environmental groups which fear the effects on the ecosystem will be devastating. The road will bisect the path of the great migration, when each year millions of animals migrate between the Tanzanian Serengeti and Kenyan Masai Mara in search of fresh water sources.

    Environmentalists are also concerned about the consequences of increased road kill for threatened species such as cheetah, for which even a marginal increase in mortality rates could lead to disastrous population decline, as well as increased poaching, and the spread of disease and invasive plants.

    The world travel industry and supporters of sustainable tourism everywhere are rallying to the Serengeti’s defense.

    The website below will give you information on the irreversible destruction this highway will have, with links to studies showing why.

    www.savetheserengeti.org/issues/stop-the-serengeti-highway
  • Selous Game Reserve
    0 2118 Like 0 people like this
    Selous Game Reserve
    Far from the madding crowd and at the three times the size of the Kruger National Park and double the size of the Senegeti National Park, Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania maintains its title as Africa’s largest reserve. It is a fitting tribute then that it is also one of Tanzania’s three World Heritage Sites. The Game Reserve reached its present size and shape in the 1940′s, when the colonial government moved the remaining tribes out of the area to combat a sleeping sickness epidemic. It was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982.

    Selous is named in honour of the Englishman Frederick Courtney Selous. During 1871 Selous lived and hunted in the area for approximately four decades and during that time he gained a reputation as the most accomplished hunter of his age. He was also known for writing, most notably he was the author of “A Hunter’s Wanderings in Africa”. Selous assisted Cecil John Rhodes in his campaign to annes present-day Zimbabwe to the British Empire and he also achieved brief notoriety in 1899 for speaking out against England’s war on the Boer Republics of South Africa.

    As Captain of the Royal Fusiliers at the age of 60 and with detailed knowledge of the African bush, Selous led the chase after the German guerilla army that presided in Southern Tanzania. On New Year’s Day in 1917, Selous was shot dead by a sniper close to the banks of the Beho Beho River where he remains buried today, near Beho Neho Safari Camp. Five Years after his death, the British colonists incorporated a number of existing game reserves south of the river to extend the plains of the aptly named, Selous.

    Fauna and Flora:

    An area of 45,000km2 of unspoiled African wilderness, the Selous game reserve boasts a variety of biomes – grassy plains, open woodland, mountains and forests – all classified by their climate and dominant vegetation type, and representing large communities of plants and animals in distinct regions.

    The reserve is split into two different regions by Tanzania’s largest river, the Rufiji. The northern Selous covers only around 5% of the reserves total area. No hunting is allowed here; this area is dedicated exclusively to photographic safari’s and accommodation in exclusive camps and lodges. Hunting blocks of approximately 1,000km2 each make up the Souther section of the Selous reserve.

    Large numbers of sought after game, predators, crocodiles and hippos are resident within this massive reserve. Buffalo numbers are estimated at 120,000 – 150,000. with lion numbers estimated to be around 4000 individuals. Historically, Selous was also home to Tanzania’s largest elephant population, but sadly, due to increased poaching incidents over the years, the number of elephants have reduced dramatically.

    The birdlife here is prolific with more than 440 species of birds being recorded in the Selous. Pink-backed pelicans, African Skimmers and giant Kingfishers, carmine and white fronted bee-eater colonies just to name a few. In the Borassus Palms, pairs of Fish Eagle, Palm Nut Vulture, Ibises and Palm Swifts nest. A myriad of water birds are discovered in their thousand’s – various small waders, egrets and herons as well as the famous Pel’s Fishing Owl.

    Access to the Selous Game Reserve:

    Selous is a six to seven hour drive towards the Southern part of Tanzania, south of Dar es Salaam and is served by light aircraft from Dar es Salaam and Ruaha daily, both of these flights being under an hour in duration. Park fees and Conservation fees are normally included in the price of one’s safari and are estimated at around USD75 per person per day.

    One may chose to take a road trip from Dar es Salaam that involves taking a normal circuit route which would include a trip through the Mikumi National Park and entering the Matambwe Gate. It is such an exhilarating experience, even more so in the mornings, to take the road from Morogoro as it gives visitors the chance to enjoy the drive through the Morogoro town and the opportunity to view the town with the “Ulugulu Mountains” as the scenic backdrop. As one heads out of Morogoro town, you will have the chance to witness how the rural peopl live and work within the villages. Experience a traditional market day in rural Tanzania. Another option is to take the access road from Dar es Salaam past the Tanzanian countryside filled with scenes of tall palms and lush grassland in the hilly areas and enter into Selous that way.

    Activities:

    Tanzania offers numerous options for specialist safaris and activites, whether you wish to drive, walk, ride, fish, fly camp, ride in a hot-air balloon, dive, kite surf or go trekking after chimpanzees.

    Accomodation in the Selous:

    For nature enthusiast seeking an intimate environment and warm hospitality, the Selous offers a wide variety of accommodation types ranging from enchanting and intimate safari camps to tented camps and luxury lodges.

    Seasons in the Selous:

    Wildlife viewing in the Selous Game Reserve is best from late June to October. It is dry season and wildlife is easier to spot since animals gather at water resources and vegetation is thinner. Many lodges close from March through May.

    Quick facts:
    Best time to go: June to October
    High Season: June to Cotober (The tourists area around the Rufuji River gets quite crowded)
    Low Season: March, April and May (Many lodges are closed)
    Best Weather: June to October (Little to no rainfall)
    Worst Weather: March and April (Peak of wet Season)

    From June to October:

    Spotting animals is easier, as they congregate around waterholes and rivers and there is less vegetation. It rains very little and most days are sunny. There is less risk of contracting malaria, since there are not as many mosquitos. Humidity is lowered and the heat isn’t overpowering.

    October to May:

    Scenery is beautiful and green. Crowds are less in the low Season months (March, April, May). This period is peak bird watching time, since migratory birds are present. Roads however, become muddy and are hard to travel on.

    Malaria:

    Be aware that malaria is a health concern in Tanzania. You should protect yourself by wearing clothing with long sleeves in the dawn and evening hours. Also, wear a mosquito deterrent that contains at least 20% DEET and take anti-malaria medicine. Several vaccination are recommended as well. Please check with your local GP for precautions against Malaria.
  • Xonghile: The Place of Beauty
    0 2057 Like 0 people like this
    Xonghile: The Place of Beauty
    A couple of weeks ago found me bumping along a seemingly endless dirt road in an old Mitsubishi Colt; hungry and tired after a nearly fourteen hour drive from Johannesburg. We had just entered Mozambique through the Giriyondo Border Post and were desperate to reach our destination, Xonghile, before sunset… but the rough roads of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park had other plans and our hearts sank as we saw the Ford Ranger ahead towing the trailer with all our supplies, pull over and stop… We’d lost a bolt on the trailer’s leaf spring. After an hour of crying and traipsing up and down trying to find the missing bolt, then crying some more while fiddling with all possible bolt replacements, the scuba diver in me finally laid tear-soaked eyes on an Allen key and cable ties… we were saved!!! A crude solution but a solution none the less!

    We eventually made it to camp where we unpacked the essentials under the light of the full moon (including the torches and lamps that were packed at the very bottom) and then crawled to bed, too tired to care about double checking the rooms for an African Rock Python that we knew enjoyed making himself at home between the mattresses.

    The sound of trumpeting and long, deep rumbles got us out of bed faster than any smart phone’s fancy alarm app… a herd of elephants had come to the camp’s waterhole for an early morning drink and were playing happily with the water and mud – a true African fountain that would put any found in Italy to shame. The fact that the water had to be trucked in did not seem to bother them in the least. Nor any of us for that matter, and our group included one of the main shareholders who would have to foot the bill. In fact any care in the world was completely forgotten as we watched a tiny baby learning how to use his trunk – and found it particularly effective for slapping a slightly older sibling. When said sibling tried to retaliate, mom stepped in and put an end to the scuffle.

    The days began with our elephant family herd greeting us with every glorious sunrise and then stretched into exploring the land, stopping for impromptu picnics in the middle of the bush. As we made our way back to camp, the setting sun would paint the sky into a kaleidoscope of brilliant colour. And as we reviewed our day’s sightings around the campfire, a few lone elephant bulls, a civet and a duiker would join us for sundowners. Most nights we fell asleep to a haunting cacophony of lion roaring and hyena laughing as they competed for each other’s kills; broken only occasionally by the rasp of a nearby leopard who we never saw.

    One day we decided to break the idyllic timeless routine, and accompany the farm manager on a two hour drive back into the local village of Massingir. It was a random Tuesday morning but the people were in full swing – bottles of Johnny Walker Red were being passed around jovial groups of men, music blaring out of garish Chinese stereos, youngsters racing motorbikes up and down to impress pretty girls – it was magnificent madness!! We headed over to what looked like a restaurant to try and find something to eat for breakfast. A young man was quick to come and greet us but when we asked for a menu his friendly face became one of polite puzzlement and he ran off. Another young lady, who we later found out was his sister, came over with chilled glasses, water, Savannah Dry ciders, gin and Tonic, and Dragon energy drinks and indicated that we should take a seat. We obliged, albeit rather bemused as it was only nine in the morning. In the short time that it took for her to pour the array of drinks for us, the man reappeared dressed in a crisp white collared shirt and smart waist coat – but still no menus. After trying to ask what they offered in the way of food, we were told, slowly and carefully, “eggs, milk and restricted spirits.” How delicious. What about chicken? A hesitant nod… Great – chicken it is! Mozambique is the home of Peri-peri after all!! We decided to play a game of pool while we waited for our chicken and had soon made a group of friends who chatted away in a mixture of Portuguese and Shona. A short while later we went back to our little table – now beautifully laid with colourful woven mats, and more chilled glasses and drinks. Having been warned that the nearest decent medical facility was three hours away, food poisoning was a very real concern but we sat down and waited… the next moment platters of chicken, vegetables, thick chips and rice were carried out by our smiling host and hostess – and the chef!! It was all beautifully presented. And absolutely scrumptious!!! We tucked in happily and I am delighted to report that none of us were ill… Ironically, when I asked for peri-peri – they brought me a bottle of Nandos from South Africa.

    As I was sitting there, with my breakfast of chicken washed down with a Savannah Dry, I reflected that this was Africa: the unexpected adventure that takes you past your comfort zone and then flings you even further – and there you find that mysterious little thing called life. Whether it was creeping past lion on your way to shower in the dead of night, or lying dead still when you awaken from an afternoon snooze in a hammock only to find an elephant browsing off the tree that you are strung to, or just being pleasantly surprised by the hospitality of the people who share this beautiful land. Having been born and bred in Africa, I still find new things every day that make me fall in love all over again. Richard Mullin sums it up quite well: “The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa – for he has so much to look forward to.”
  • Additional activities in Tarangire National Park
    0 2013 Like 0 people like this
    Additional activities in Tarangire National Park
    Guests visiting Sanctuary Swala Camp in Tarangire, Tanzania, now have the rare privilege of enjoying exciting night game drives, walking safaris and balloon safaris in the National Park.

    Never before has permission been granted to experience the wonders of a safari at night within the park. As dusk falls, guests can relax in the comfort of their safari vehicle as they venture into the park (which appears completely transformed at night), and search for nocturnal animals rarely seen by visitors. At night, guests may encounter African wild cat and the elusive leopard, or feel the round eyes of a bushbaby peering down as the moon rises into the sky. With specialised lighting, the guide searches for lion and hyena and smaller creatures such as spotted genet, serval, bat eared foxes, owls and nightjars.

    Guests can also now put on their walking shoes and experience the beautiful Tarangire National Park from a different perspective on a walking safari. With a professional walking guide and armed ranger, guests explore the grassland around camp in one of the most secluded areas of the park. The qualified guide has a wealth of knowledge which he shares as he tracks game and explains how to understand animal behaviour. Tarangire is one of a few places in Tanzania’s northern Parks where walking is possible.

    There is no better way to truly experience the unique beauty of Tarangire than on a balloon safari. The balloon safaris offer an unusual opportunity to fly low over this amazing landscape which is dominated by majestic Baobab trees and has a mixture of acacia tortilis, riparian woodland, riverine and savannah grasslands. The pilot and guide sets an attractive flight path northwards following the Tarangire river, which attracts a large number of migrant animals to its banks year round.

    Activities are at additional cost – please contact one of our team for more detailed information.
  • Elusive Aldabra
    0 1954 Like 0 people like this
    Elusive Aldabra
    Aldabra has inspired ancient explorers, some of the world’s most famous scientists and now the modern travellers of today. The name itself is a mystery, believed to be a word of Arabic origin but with any number of theories about its actual meaning, which could be ‘green’ or ‘doorknocker’ or possibly the navigational star Aldebaran. Indeed, it seems there has always been a mythical aura attached to the name of the most far-flung and isolated of all the islands of the Seychelles archipelago.

    Aldabra, the world’s largest raised coral atoll, is the finest surviving tropical atoll ecosystem on earth. The giant tortoises on the island form by far the world’s largest population and the marine life is prolific. The last surviving flightless bird of the Indian Ocean, the Aldabra Rail, is found only here as are many other unique land birds and it is a vital breeding ground for turtles and seabirds.

    The atoll was known for centuries by Arab navigators and was first charted by the Portuguese in 1511. The French were the first recorded visitors when Captain Lazare Picault, sent to chart Seychelles in 1742, came upon Aldabra. In more recent times, Aldabra has been the centrepiece of numerous conservation initiatives on account of its unspoilt environment.

    The unique species that have evolved over time in complete isolation on the atoll have prompted some to call Aldabra the “Galapagos of the Indian Ocean”. In fact, Charles Darwin himself, whose work in the Galapagos is largely responsible for that archipelago’s esteemed status as naturalist’s paradise, recognised Aldabra’s unique natural properties, as well as being the only other place in the world aside from the Galapagos where giant tortoises could be found naturally, and recommended to British authorities that they ensure the atoll would be protected from exploitation or development. Soon after Seychelles’ independence, the government granted Aldabra protected status as a nature reserve, and in 1982 Aldabra became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today, only a small team of rangers and scientists inhabit the island, with the limited funding but wholehearted support of the Seychelles Islands Foundation, which manages the atoll for conservation and research purposes.Despite its status as one of the world’s most strictly protected natural wonders, travel to Aldabra is still – and will likely always be – incredibly difficult due to its extreme isolation.

    This is your opportunity to be one of those few who bear witness to it’s marvels. Let Hartley’s take you there; with the MV Maya’s Dugong , a 40-metre expeditionary vessel, specifically for live- aboard cruising in the Seychelles, a handful of visitors will be able to experience the atoll of Aldabra and it’s fascinating sights and treasures as part of an in-depth 7 or 11-nights eco-tourism and diving expedition. Aldabra expedition 1: 11 – 20 Dec 2015 9 Night itinerary with embarkation/disembarkation : Assumption The program includes visits to Assumption, Aldabra, Cosmoledo and Astove. Explorer Cabin : R133 000 + 3056 taxes per person sharing Commander Cabin : R136 900 + 3056 taxes per person sharing Aldabra expedition 2: 20 – 27 Dec’15 7 Night itinerary with embarkation/disembarkation : Assumption The program includes the visits to Assumption, Aldabra, Cosmoledo and Astove. Explorer Cabin : R117 000 + 3056 taxes per person sharing Commander Cabin : R120 500 + 3056 taxes per person sharing Included: Return economy class flights to Mahe and on to Assumption, return ransfers to Liveaboard, 7/9 nights cruise as per plan of itinerary, full board meals, Professional crew on board, Diving with PADI instructor part of crew (tanks, belts, weights), Snorkelling equipment., Govt taxes and VAT Excludes: Any nights required in Mahe due to internal flight connections, personal expenses, dive and travel insurance, gratuities.

    Contact us for further information : dani@hartleysgroup.com All prices have been costed according to current availabilities and rate of exchange and are subject to change accordingly at any time and without prior notice.
  • By Invitation: The Amur Falcons
    0 1868 Like 0 people like this
    By Invitation: The Amur Falcons
    Written by Mike Cadman

    One recent Sunday morning more than 100 small birds of prey hovered head-first into the wind as they hunted insects in the lush summer grasslands of the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve some 40 kilometres south of Johannesburg.

    The 30 cm long Amur falcons skilfully used the wind to maintain their positions about 20 metres above the ground, heads down as they searched the grass for prey. Some occasionally slipped into rapid dives as they plunged into the tall grass after prey, which is usually caught and eaten on the wing, while others banked away, darting downwind to begin searching another patch of the veld.

    Away to the west of the birds cyclists and day trippers in cars travelled along the Reserve’s tourist roads, some aware, many not, of the little birds of prey.

    Of those that noticed the birds few realized that they were witnessing birds that had only recently completed one of the most astonishing and longest migrations of any bird of prey. Every year, at the start of the northern winter the birds leave their breeding grounds in eastern Asia, fly across the southern face of the Himalayas, pass over northern India and then fly across three thousand kilometres of Indian Ocean to Somalia before heading south to the grasslands of Southern Africa. Here the birds spend several months feeding on prolific insect populations before starting the return journey in mid to late April.

    The Amur falcons, formerly known in South Africa as the Eastern red-footed kestrel, undertake the longest trans-ocean migration of any bird of prey. The birds, males average about 136 grams and females 148 grams, complete the trans-ocean journey in about three days, an astounding accomplishment.

    Their already arduous migration is made even more difficult by the fact that along some parts of the world they are eaten by people. This year the conservation world was shocked by the revelation by Conservation India that more than 120 000 – 140 000 of the birds had been caught and eaten in Nagaland, northern India. Conservation Indian estimated that “during the peak migration 12 000 – 14 000 birds are being hunted for consumption and commercial sale” a day.

    The migrating birds had stopped in Nagaland to rest, as they have many times before, but this time researcher learnt that hunters spread fishing nets 30-40 metres long and 10-12 metres high around the roosting sites in trees alongside a dam to capture the birds. This was the first time such large scale hunting of the falcons had been witnessed by conservationists and Conservation India has launched a programme aimed at preventing similar massacres.

    The birds roost communally and at one roost 20 000 birds have been counted. The high concentration of birds at roosts makes them easy targets.

    The falcons are traditionally hunted in Nagaland with guns or catapults and are also considered a delicacy in some parts of Africa.

    Until recently scientists had been unsure of the exact route the birds followed during their migration but the use of ultra-light satellite transmitters which weigh only five grams has allowed Dr Bernd-Ulrich Meyburg from Germany and his team to accurately track the birds for the first time.

    Dr Meyburg and his team fitted ten birds from a roost in Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal with the matchbox sized transmitters and then downloaded information from the satellite data to plot their journeys to and from southern Africa. Not only did the team manage to accurately plot the migration routes but they also recorded remarkable details of the feats achieved by individual birds.

    One bird, falcon 95 773, on its return trip to Asia flew non-stop from Somalia to Burma in only five days. Another bird, falcon 95 778, has successfully completed the journey between Newcastle and her Asian breeding grounds for the last two years, covering in the region of 60 000 kilometres on her travels.
    The falcons arrive in Southern Africa in late November and December. Some Amur falcons spend their southern summer in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi and Mozambique, in late November and December. Their Asian breeding grounds spread from south eastern Siberia, through northern China, Mongolia and North Korea. Insects such as flying termites and dragonflies are usually caught on the wing and other prey, such as grasshoppers are caught on the ground without the bird settling. They occasional eat small birds like swallows.

    Sources:
    Raptor Identification Guide for Southern Africa – Ulrich Oberprieler and Burger Cillie (Rollerbird Press).
    The Kestrel Migration Project – www.kestreling.com
    The World Working Group on Birds of Prey and Owls (WWGBP) www.raptors-international.org
SATSA No. 207
 

Hartley’s Safaris is registered with Southern Africa Tourism Association Registration number 207.

Legal

Hartley’s Safaris
South Africa (Pty) Ltd
Reg no: 2001/006019/07
United Kingdom
Copyright © 2016 Hartley's Safaris SA

Okavango Explorations (UK) Ltd
T/A Hartleys Safaris
Registered in England No. 2348880
Copyright © 2016 Hartley's Safaris UK

SATSA No. 207

The air holidays and flights shown are ATOL Protected by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Our ATOL number is ATOL 3958. Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website.

Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected.

Copyright 2019 by Hartley's Safaris | Terms Of Use | Privacy Statement | Powered by: WoW Interactive Login
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR MAILING LISTS