Friday, July 31, 2009

"Real Wanderers On The Continent”: Every Friday…real tours and real people who are really addicted to Africa!


Alex Tosti


Washington, USA

What tour are you on?

Truck/tour leader?

Dar es Salaam to Jo’burg

With Sammy & Julius on Pangani truck

Travelling with…?

My friend sarah

Most memorable moment on tour?

Snorkelling in beautiful Zanzibar & relaxing at Kande beach in Malawi (the people in Malawi are amazing)

What would you say to someone thinking of coming on tour?

It’s worth all the time and money – one of the best experiences of my life.

Where’s the next adventure?...

Going back home to make more money for more travels….

Our next Africa addict is Hannah Cooke from Leeds in the UK. Her travel motto is “cool bananas” – although I think that’s open to interpretation J Join Hannah and watch out for her highlights on Friday 07 August.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Given up: my unhealthy lifestyle for a kick about…

Dear “Addicted to Africa Diary”....After I kicked the cigarettes, my next step was to start on my revitalized keep fit regime. Perhaps it’s living in my new shared-digs that’s given me the motivation, but when my house mate was offered the chance to do a weekly five aside, it seemed like an opportunity too good to miss. Mount Kili is calling and as Acacia is running a 25% offer on their treks if you book an overland tour of two weeks or more, I feel I could be in better shape. Well, you only need to be reasonably fit to attempt the climb – but I’ve been turning into a couch potato lately and glued to the Discovery Channel. Not wanting to miss my chance – I’ve also posted a big note on the fridge door to remind myself about Acacia’s Big Five Flash Sale (Friday the 14th of August 12-5pm BST) - underlined several times in red! Africa, bring it on…

Amelia Smith...

Saving up for your next Africa trip...any great ideas on how to generate more cash for Amelia's travel kitty? From the weird to the wonderful we're all ears...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Live & Direct the 43-day Kenya to Cape Town Tour...

Dan “Acacia’s Man in Africa” will be giving you the low down while actually out on tour. The 43-day Kenya to Cape Town appearing on Twitter from 09 August. You can catch up with Dan at but before that date – check out his notes on visas for Africa on Wednesday 05 August

Tips on Clothing & Equipment for Your Kilimanjaro Climb - from Michael Theys, Editor of

Heard of Mount Kilimanjaro, I presume, no? Culminating at 5895 m (19341 feet), it is by far Africa’s highest and most majestic mountain! Here’s some advice on what to bring on your trekking odyssey!

Walking sticks

Whether you call them walking sticks, staffs, or trekking poles, they’re just indispensable for a comfortable walking journey!

Walking sticks will assist you during your climb, and support your knees on descents. Especially if you already have fragile knee joints!

For best support (and even better comfort), consider buying two sticks!


I’m sure you’re familiar with the song “These Boots are Made for Walking”, right? And no, I’m not talking about Jessica Simpson’s version (although I do admit her clip is rather “special”)! I’m referring to the original version, first recorded by Nancy Sinatra! The song’s title is quite representative of what you need during your Kilimanjaro ascension. Your walking boots have to be solid and soft at the same time, the type that will resist the most extreme weather conditions out there!

Indeed, boots are perhaps the most important item you will purchase! Both in terms of your health and well-being. Make sure they fit you properly! Moreover, try them on before buying them: they just have to be the right size!

Do this: put your foot in the shoe without tying the shoelace, and slide your foot forward until it hits the front of the boot. If you have one finger’s thickness of space at your heel, then the boot is made for you . If not, then it is either too big (don’t recommend “clowny” shoes ), or too small (less than one finger space)!

Some key features to look for in boots are:

- Vibram, or comparable high rubber-content soles with deep lugs to provide better traction.

- Sturdy, high tops with padding to protect ankles while providing good ankle support. Boots with a stiff heel counter is also a big bonus, as it relieves your foot and ankle.

- Uppers made of leather or a leather/Cordura combination.

- Removable insoles for extra comfort and cushioning.

- Lacing system with D-rings and speed hooks to easily put and remove your boots.

- Sewn-in, gusseted tongues.

- Waterproof coating to ensure your feet stay dry at all times.


Pay special attention to the material of your socks. They can be made of:

- Cotton: Not a great idea while hiking. Cotton absorbs moisture and retains it.

- Ragg Wool: Way more comfortable, but you don’t have to be allergic to it.

- Acrylic: Not as resistant and much warmer than wool socks, although they do wick moisture away from the feet. Notice that some acrylic socks have extra cushioning, which can be interesting!

- Polypropylene: Primarily used in liners – thin socks worn beneath thicker main socks. Will wick moisture away from foot, and can also reduce friction between your foot and the shoe.

- Silk: Same purpose as polypropylene.

Sleeping Bags

Should be chosen wisely! Large variety of options, from “Down Sleeping Bags” (very resistant to water and cold), to “Hollowfibre” (synthetic fibre, dries rapidly), and “Thinsulate” (state-of-the-art synthetic fibre, economic, very light) types!

Important things to consider in a sleeping bag:

- Needs to fit your body (in width and length).

- Two-way zipper (for better ventilation).

- Insulated hood.


Preferably big, but not too big either! A 25-40 litre rucksack tends to fit most people needs.


I’d go for head torches, which leaves your hands free. Petzl Zoom Headlamps and Petzl Tikka are definitely worth it, although not the cheapest I agree.


Two pairs highly recommended: a pair of wool or fleece gloves as a next to skin layer, and a second pair of waterproof gloves that go over the first pair!

A very good pair of gloves should not be underestimated if you want to keep your fingers healthy and intact!


Good-looking hats are important for sure, but as you know looks are not everything! Most importantly, a good hat is one that protects you from the sun, and also that fits easily into your backpack (or comfortably fastens to your belt, backpack, etc…). Furthermore, make sure it can provide good shade to your face, and that it “breathes”.

I just love some of those Rogue hats, don’t you?!

Thermal Beanie/Balaclava

Protects you from the wind and hinders frostbite. Not to be neglected!

Duffel Bags

A lightweight classic! Easy to stuff with your clothing and rolled socks.

Things to consider: a strong seam, good quality zippers (that can be padlocked), and short handles to pull your bag quickly if required.

Water Bottles

Drink, drink, and drink some more! Water is vital to appropriate acclimatisation, and so are water bottles! You should be able to carry 2-3 litres of water at any time!

Any water bottle is good really, although I must admit I really enjoy the Swiss Sigg types. Eco-Friendly, and reusable! Unless you’d rather go for hydration systems, with a tube from a bladder in your pack to your mouth; practical and very popular! The only disadvantage of such systems is they can freeze easily! Either way, be sure it won’t leak nor freeze.


Very useful little pieces of materials that keep mud, rocks and to a certain extent water out of your boots! May even be utilized to keep ticks away!

Can be sweaty nevertheless.

A Jacket & Trousers

Two words: comfort and waterproofing! They need to be waterproof, breathable and windproof.

ATTENTION PLEASE: No jeans! They absorb water, cling to the skin and make walking very difficult. Believe it or not, but wearing jeans can lead to hypothermia.

About the Author:

Michael Theys is Editor of In a nutshell, Africafreak is The Ultimate African Safari Experience Revealed To You. The website provides Guidelines, Tips and General Information on Safari Destinations and African Wildlife!

Dig It Twip: Dan “Acacia's Man in Africa” will be giving us the low down on visas – hook up with us on Wednesday 05 August

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Getting Responsible In The Recession: Angela Waring goes back to basics and opts for an eco-camp in Zambia”

Staring out of my thatched hut I could not only hear the rippling current of the Zambezi, I could even see the large expanse of water drifting by before me. Mine was one of many wooden and reed huts strung out across the water’s edge on Bova Island - its proximity to nature bringing the barefoot paradise to life. With nothing between us and the neighbouring wildlife apart from a dangling mosquito net this was quintessential “wild camping”: monkeys, birds and the occasional hippo dropping by to share our island haven.

The lure of a five star resort can be less appealing in the midst of a recession, and with my finances somewhat stretched I’d decided to opt for a more basic camping itinerary in Africa. Seeing the wildlife is still the main draw for travellers, however, this was not simply an opportunity to get closer to natural world, as my journey would start with a voluntour experience – the new buzzword for responsible travellers.

Eco by name and by nature – the campsite has strong links to the community. Each of the thatched fisherman huts is built and maintained by the villagers so there’s an immediate sense that you are contributing to the welfare of the local population.

We spent the following two days assisting the community on a much more practical level by helping to construct a school. Currently, the closest option lies at least 4kms from the village – an arduous trek that the native children make on a daily basis. As we made the same journey we were buckling under the sweltering heat, the temperature pushing 40 degrees; however, the beaming smiles from the kids at the Nandavu Community School were worth all our efforts.

Over 60 children congregate for their morning lessons in the mud-thatch church building and it’s not hard to see why the assistance of volunteers is a top priority. Desks are nowhere to be seen, storage space for books and stationery is limited, and there are few resources available apart from chalk and a blackboard. Put simply, funding is at a premium.

In Zambia, community schools are financed and run by the local residents - all the costs from construction to educational materials, borne by the villagers themselves. Knowing that the Government only intervenes when a community school is established gave a heightened sense of importance to our presence there.

The Nandavu Community School project began in 2008, headmen and local people from a group of neighbouring villages in Zambia's Southern Province, working together with a local NGO to recruit volunteers from overseas.

A case of all hands on deck, being involved in the project is really about making yourself useful. Working side by side with members of the local community, you might find yourself out collecting materials, making bricks or even painting and plastering. Unlike other more self-indulgent holidays, there’s a real sense of achievement when the work is complete – a moroko sunset cruise and optional adrenaline activities in Livingstone available at the end of the volunteer experience.

6-day Community Schools Voluntour £655pp + local payment from £40pp (two sharing) including all highlights, transport, services of a driver/guide and qualified project staff, accommodation, airport transfers, some meals. Excludes visas, travel insurance, flights, departure taxes, tips, drinks, optional activities and items of a personal nature. Maximum Group size 8. Accommodation: thatched twin share hut with shared facilities (three-nights), twin share en-suite rooms in chalets. Departures: March to October, Sundays. Contact Acacia Adventure Holidays; 020 7706 4700;; ATOL No. 6499 and ABTA No. W4093 PROTECTED.

Next week hit the sands in Namibia with Zhan Su. He’ll be giving you the low down on overlanding Tuesday 04 August

This week’s patter comes live and direct from the Benguerra Islands, Mozambique…

After all that trekking I thought it was time to take it easy for a while, so I’ve joined up with the guys, on the “21-day Surf, Safari and Malawi” adventure. The Benguerra Islands are the Caribbean of Africa – more white sands and sun than you can shake a stick at. Anyhow, today we’ll be travelling round the islands in a dhow, sampling a few more of the wonderful beaches and plenty of fresh seafood. Can’t wait!

There’s a lot of talk about mermaids in these parts, but my top tip this week is to catch up with the dolphins and flamingos and then chill on deck as the sun sets over the ocean. Bliss!...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Madagascar Tweet up (Friday 21 August): everything you need to know about the eighth continent

Get ready for our Madagascar “tweet up on Friday 21st August. The Acacia team will be ready to answer any of your questions from 10-12pm BST. Of course you can always send your questions to us in advance and we’ll tweet back on the day. With visas waived for any adventurers staying less than 30-days and travelling up to the 31 December – now is the ideal time to book. Catch us on Twitter live.

Also don’t forget our Big Five Flash Sale which will last for five hours only between 12 and 5pm on 14 August. We'll be discounting all our overland departures before May 2010, by 25%.

Terms and conditions: Big Five Flash Sale: Friday 14 August. Discounts available: 12-5pm (BST), subject to availability. Discount cannot be combined with any other promotion currently being offered by Acacia Adventure Holidays. Normal local payment(s) apply, subject to normal booking conditions. Promotional Code Big5@25_Aug09

Friday, July 24, 2009

The BIG interview: “Andy the great outdoorsman from the Veldt," interviews Enock Ngwenya from the VFAPU

“Andy the great outdoorsman from the Veldt,” Acacia Adventure Holidays alter-go, interviews Enock Ngwenya from the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit

Andy: OK, so we’re here with one of the VFAPU team, "Enock Ngwenya" - for the newbies out there, that’s the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit

Andy: So you’ve been here since 1999 guys?

Enock: That’s right, working with the National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and the Zimbabwe Republic Police

Andy: So where does the environmental poaching come in Enock?

Enock: The economic situation has increased poaching whether it's stone for construction, trees for firewood or plants for food - the list goes on...

Andy: So we’re not just talking about the wildlife?

Enock: No, but the bush meat market still poses one of the greatest threats to Africa’s wildlife populations

Andy: How so mate?...

Enock: 1.9 and 3.5 million tons of bush meat is consumed in Central and Southern Africa on an annual basis

Andy: Wow, hey look, I guess most of us are just coming here to game drive – but that’s a seriously BIG figure! I’m in…

Enock: The poachers target a variety of species such as buffalo, kudu, eland, impala and set life threatening snares

Enock: These wire death traps cause tremendous suffering, sometimes the victim takes several days to die after being caught

Andy: So we travellers play a really important part – in a sense, when we find a snare, we've saved (bagged) an elephant!

Enock: Yes, very true Andy, and after our safety briefing that’s our first task today

Andy: And, I suppose there’s also commercial poaching – ivory, skins and what not? (see my "twitpic" of the leopard skin at

Enock: Yes, but in particular, the escalation of both black and white rhino poaching is of great concern to us

Andy: And how do we go about changing all of this - really?

Enock: there are 16 of us VFAPU scouts sweeping the park 7 days a week - but you tourists make a real difference

Enock: We remove snares, apprehend poachers & we educate local communities using drama, song and dance on conservation

Andy: Hey I’m up for a boogie Enock, but seriously I’m sure tourists must be pretty stoked when they're rescuing animals?

Enock: Yes, there's certainly a feel good factor when we make it out there in time and it's a powerful shared experience

Andy: So how can we help out there on the ground?

Enock: We dart & treat injured mammals. Donor funding provides the much needed drugs, such as M99, and the tourists help us to clean wounds & track poachers

Andy: well – that’s the briefing over guys, Ndatenda (thanks) Enock – now we’re off to join the scouts for a snare sweep

5-day Anti-poaching voluntour in Zimbabwe: £450pp + local payment from £37pp including all tour highlights, transport, accommodation, airport transfers, camping equipment in Zambezi National Park, some meals, services of a driver/guide and qualified anti-poaching staff. Excludes, visas, travel insurance, flights, departure taxes, tips, drinks, optional activities and items of a personal nature

Contact Acacia Adventure Holidays on 020 7706 4700, email or visit for further information. ATOL No. 6499 and ABTA No. W4093 PROTECTED.

Editors’ notes: Acacia Adventure Holidays offers over 100 intriguing itineraries including overland trips, small group safaris, adventures, diving, city breaks, short stays, comfort class safaris and voluntours. Additional online tours are available. Acacia Africa Blog Facebook Twitter Flickr