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  • Gentle Giants of Cenderawasih Bay
    Gentle Giants of Cenderawasih Bay
    In Indonesia’s Papua and West Papua regions lies Cenderawasih Bay, a diving location that is becoming increasingly famous throughout the world. Declared a marine national park in 2002, Cenderawasih Bay offers unrivalled whale shark encounters, beautiful reefs, diverse marine life and fascinating wrecks.

    Cenderawasih Bay is famous for its whale shark encounters. The fishermen use nets, filled with small fish, to attract the bigger fish for catching. However, the whale sharks have learnt how to suck the fish out of the nets, resulting in congregations of these gentle giants around the fishing platforms. As many as six or seven can gather round each platform at a time. Whale shark encounters are always special; however, they are brief and often only involve one of these magnificent creatures. Cenderawasih, on the other hand, sets itself apart as a location where you can see many whale sharks at a time, at a very close range for extended periods of times.

    Whale shark sightings are what attract most divers to this remote, idyllic location; however, an array of other diving opportunities makes Cenderawasih Bay truly special. When exploring other areas of the bay you will find beautiful coral reefs, home to a variety of endemic marine life, dolphins, sharks, dugongs and four different species of turtle. This abundance in fascinating aquatic life, along with the high percentage of endemic species, is why Cenderawasih Bay is known by some as the ‘Galapagos of the East’. Cenderawasih Bay is also home to many WWII shipwrecks and sunken planes, the most fascinating being Shinwa Maru. Lying at depths from 16 to 34 metres, the Shinwa Maru is a 120m Japanese cargo ship that was sunk in 1944 by US forces. Scattered with many fascinating artefacts and displaying its two large blast holes from its deadly demise, this sunken history is incredible for those who love wreck diving.

    A visit to Cenderawasih Bay is almost guaranteed to give you the best whale shark experience of your life and what makes this location extremely unique is that the gentle giants are present all year round.
  • The Frenzy of the Sardine Run
    The Frenzy of the Sardine Run
    The Sardine Run has arrived and we are all very excited for this phenomenal event! Every year, from May through to July millions of sardines saturate the dark blue waters a shiny metallic silver as they migrate up the east coast of South Africa, travelling from the cooler waters of the Cape into the warmer sub-tropical waters of KwaZulu-Natal. Their sheer numbers attract animals from land, sea and sky, creating a feeding extravaganza and a frenzy of excitement amongst all who come into contact with this spectacular marine event!

    Following the shoals, above and below water is an unprecedented concentration of marine predators including birds, sharks, dolphins, whales, seals and fish, all eager to get their fair share. Schools of sharks including the bronze whaler, dusky, black tip, zambezi, hammerhead and copper can be seen in their hundreds as they survey the surroundings, waiting for the opportune moment to strike.

    Bottle nose and common dolphins also join in the feeding frenzy and employ a hunting strategy to push the shoals into tightly packed balls, known as ‘bait balls’. Working together underwater the dolphins drive the bait balls to the surface, herding them like a sheepdog would sheep, leaving the sardines trapped with nowhere run or hide. After the dolphins have done all the hard work the other predators are eager to reap the rewards. As the shoal moves closer to the surface the aerial assault on the sardines begins as hundreds of cape gannets, cormorants and gulls plummet out of the sky to gorge themselves on the shimmering ball of silver fish.

    Diving the Sardine Run is not for the faint hearted. Dodge the beaks of cape gannets and cormorants as they slice through the water catching their prey, or be bumped out of the way by a hungry shark, this is what you can look forward to if you decide to brave these action packed waters! In areas where the sardines swim close to the shore fishermen and local sardine lovers make sure to secure their share too!

    Little is known about this phenomenon and the Sardine Run is still poorly understood from biological and environmental point of view. One theory is that the sardines shoal closely together when they are threatened in an instinctually defensive behaviour, since individual sardines are more vulnerable than in large groups. It is also hypothesised that the water temperature has to drop below 21°C in order for the migration to take place and the Sardine Run could also be the result of a seasonal reproductive migration.

    Despite little being understood about this natural phenomenon it is definitely a once in a life time opportunity for witnessing one of natures unexplained mysteries. This spectacular marine event is sure to be enjoyed by all, be it bird watchers, marine life enthusiasts, divers and snorkelers.
  • Elusive Aldabra
    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.
  • A Rhino’s Adventures in Africa by Rita Shaw
    A Rhino’s Adventures in Africa by Rita Shaw
    As part of my first trip to Africa, I organised a week with a small group through Kenya. About six weeks before I was due to leave, I was advised that the trip had been cancelled as I was the only person booked on them – I wouldn’t have objected to being the sole guest, but I guess commerce is commerce! Because of the change, instead of doing the full week in Kenya, I flew in a small plane to just the Masai Mara for a few days. This was a wonderful introduction to the bush and, as an extra bonus, I didn’t have to be driven for many hours on a major highway which was in reality a gravel road held together by potholes.

    For my first afternoon game drive in the Mara, it was pouring with rain. I was with a couple of young English guys, also on their novice drive and, for some reason, our guide stopped the vehicle close to a strange sort of stripy orange rock. I couldn’t figure out why he was interested in this rock until it suddenly stood up, leisurely stretched, and then shook itself all over, spraying water everywhere! This magnificent male lion was obviously feeling extremely miserable about the seemingly endless deluge of water falling from the sky. It’s really tough when you don’t have any means of protection from the weather! I must say that I became extremely excited with this sighting as I had managed to video the lion vigorously shaking the water from his mane and spraying it everywhere. The guys were so busy chatting to each other that they didn’t manage to capture the moment at all.

    The usual reason for people to go to the Mara is to see the annual wildebeest migration, however, by the time I arrived at the beginning of August, it was finished for 2008. Timing for the migration all depends on when the rains come – sometimes early, sometimes late, and sometimes there can be a double migration in one season. One day, I might decide to go back for a full-on migration experience … especially now that I know quite a few people who organise small group trips specifically designed to maximise the excitement of seeing the masses of wildebeest and zebra crossing the Mara River. I think, these days, that I am also more prepared for the enormity of this experience. Many visitors to Africa, as I did, visit the Mara on their first trip, without any real comprehension of the magnitude of the annual migration. Although I have watched thousands of hours of television footage of the migration, watching it in person, breathing in the dust and trying to absorb the thousands of wildebeest and zebra just doing what they do naturally, must be absolutely spectacular!

    Strangely, there were some African animals that, before that trip, I had never even thought about seeing. In the Mara, we saw a female ostrich walking near the road. Using the logic of, if there is a female walking, there is a male behind her somewhere, sitting on their eggs, my intrepid guide found him sitting on a clutch of 13 gigantic eggs. He was perfectly fine with us driving up close to him, but literally threw a hissy fit when a second vehicle came up behind us. It was amazing to watch him stand up, flap his very large wings, hiss at us, and prance around to try to scare us away – it didn’t work! My guide did panic a little though, as he thought the ostrich might try to peck me through the opening under the pop-top roof. This was a really cool sighting but, because he was so upset, we decided to leave him in peace to protect his unhatched babies.
  • “Hamba Kahle Tata” (1918 – 2013)
    “Hamba Kahle Tata” (1918 – 2013)
    "No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite" – Nelson Mandela.

    Woolies and Soweto Gospel Choir: Madiba Tribute: http://youtu.be/MHHjP7XrBq0
  • The First Zero Emissions Safari Vehicle
    The First Zero Emissions Safari Vehicle
    Londolozi has introduced the first zero emissions, electric safari game drive vehicle. The vehicle moves guests silently through Londolozi’s 16,000-hectare traversing area in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, with a significantly lower carbon footprint than a conventional 4×4.

    Using rechargeable batteries, Londolozi has moved a step closer to more efficient use of propulsion energy. They will continue to work closely with the prototype developers to use increased battery efficiency and solar power to achieve a zero emissions status for this new technology.

    Londolozi is justly famous for its ground-breaking conservation work, and for establishing that the welfare of the land, the wildlife and the people are intertwined. Londolozi’s Dave Varty was among the first to question and measure the energy costs of a safari, and is proud to have the opportunity to help with the development of the silent, zero-emissions vehicle. The aim is to increase battery efficiency and harness solar power to achieve zero emissions and enable guests to experience the bush and its sounds.
  • Singita Grumeti Introduces African Tasting Menu
    Singita Grumeti Introduces African Tasting Menu
    Singita Grumeti Reserves has introduced an interesting new culinary option that integrates international cuisine with the authentic traditional foods of East Africa. Chief among the epicurean influences is Swahili cuisine, featured on the new African Tasting Menu that is served at the 1920’s-styled Singita Sabora Tented Camp.

    Guests may savour tastings of local dishes that reflect a diverse range of flavours, including mtori,athick, traditional soup from the Kilimanjaro region made from onions, green bananas and a little meat. A choice of mezze style platters is served in the traditional Swahili fashion, comprising dishes such as dagaa mchuzi, a delicious serving of dried fish cooked in peanut tomato sauce; mchicha, a wild spinach grown locally – either blanched or sautéd with sunflower oil, tomato and onion; and kitandu cha nyama, a meat stew cooked with bitter local greens, which have a unique sour flavour with fragrant undertones of lemon.

    On the menu too are tasty staple foods that are ubiquitous to Africa such as ugali (known as pap to South Africans), but best described as a white ‘polenta’ made from finely ground dried corn caked into a stiff porridge; and popular pilau and wali (rice cooked in coconut milk served with meat and stew). Also featured is the ‘African red devil’ piri piri (Swahili for ‘pepper’) and nyama choma – a form of barbecued meat, traditionally the entree of choice in East Africa.

    Offering guests a tantalizing taste of local fare at its best, typical Swahili spices and local honey are also used extensively in the cuisine at each of Singita’s four lodges in the Grumeti Reserves. Manned by a team of expert chefs, each lodge boasts its own unique setting and quintessential charm, to combine the ultimate in savannah luxury with world-class service in a spectacular setting overlooking the plains along East Africa’s world-famous wildebeest migratory route. In addition to Singita Sabora Tented Camp, the Singita portfolio includes spectacular flagship Singita Sasakwa Lodge (a Relais & Châteaux property), unique and eco-friendly Singita Faru Faru Lodge, and the latest Singita product – Singita Explore, offering the ultimate mobile safari experience.

    Tilapia, a local fresh water fish is another popular item on Singita’s menus, as is chapatis, a type of roti, served with curries and coconut, and organic home grown vegetables sourced from surrounding villages as part of various community support projects run by the Singita Grumeti Fund. Rounding off the taste of indigenous culinary culture is a selection of local Tanzanian beers, among which Kilimanjaro, Tusker and Serengeti. Local Chai tea and Kilimanjaro filter coffee feature among non-alcoholic beverages, as does the famous East African vodka, lime and honey cocktail, called a dawa.
  • Horn of Africa drought
    Horn of Africa drought
    With all the recent reports in the local and international press & TV media about the severe drought situation in the Horn of Africa, we are aware that this must be causing some concern to travellers intending to travel to East Africa, and throwing some doubt on whether or not this will affect their safari.

    We wish to clarify that the drought ravaging parts of the country is very much localised and there are several regions within East Africa that have received adequate rainfall and expect a normal harvest.

    We wish to re assure guests intending to embark on a safari during this time, that neither themselves nor their safari will be affected or compromised by the drought. The key areas where most tourism activity takes place have not been affected by the drought and there is fantastic game viewing in the Parks, Reserves and Conservancies. For instance there has been a phenomenal migration this year.

    There are a large number of East Africans who depend on tourism, directly and or indirectly, as a means of livelihood. This includes communities living around Parks and Reserves and those who operate community owned conservancies as an alternative to pastoralism and it is therefore important for us to continue as usual.

    H.E. Mwai Kibaki the Kenyan President declared the drought a National disaster. Efforts have been stepped up to provide relief supplies to those affected by the drought, and reports are coming in now that aid is finally reaching the ravaged areas.
  • Kenya Visa Fees
    Kenya Visa Fees
    The Kenya Immigration Office has advised that with effect from 1st July 2011, the Kenya Visa fees have increased to US$ 50.00 per passport holder – includes all adults and children.

    British passport holders can obtain additional information regarding the Kenya visa prices and requirements from the Kenyan High Commission website where they can also download a visa application form.

  • Mark Todd Safari Special
    Mark Todd Safari Special
    African Horseback Safaris have announced that double Olympic Gold medallist eventer Mark Todd, CBE, will take a brief break from preparations for London 2012 Olympics and will be escorting rides from Macatoo Camp between 2nd and 7th December.

    Named as Rider of the 20th Century by the International Equestrian Federation, Mark took gold at Los Angeles (1984) and Seoul (1988) Olympics, won the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials on three occasions and the Burghley three-day event five times.

    As a member of New Zealand’s Eventing team he won gold medals at the World Championships in 1990 and 1998, the European Championships in 1997, plus 20 or more other international events, and numerous other international individual and team titles.

    Eight years after retiring from evening following the Sydney Olympics in 2000, Mark announced his return to the sport he has dominated for most of his career.

    Limited space is available on this escorted safari at Macatoo Camp between 2nd and 7th December 2011 (5 nights) so book now to avoid disappointment.

    Price: £ 2,280.00 per person sharing, fully inclusive of all accommodation, activities, meals and return flights from Maun to Macatoo.
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