Wednesday, 26 December 2012

On Track Safaris - Experience the difference

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Ladies on Safari

If you're a single lady traveller and looking for a safari, then why not join one of our ladies safari.

Discounts available for early bookings.
Check out our website and Email Carol for more information

Friday, 14 December 2012

Following in Livingstone's footsteps

I hadn't realised that 2013 is the bicentenary of the birth of the explorer David Livingstone. His expeditions enlightened the world about Africa and started what (over a century after his death), is still a worldwide fascination with this wonderful continent.
During a recent visit to the Royal Geographical Society, Carol and I spent sometime in the members library enjoying a quick cup of tea and I had a chance to explore the African section. I came across some words from a journal written in May 1913 by the then president of the RGS, Earl Curzon.
In recounting Livingstone's explorations he said:
Livingstone demonstrated boldness of conception, by fertility and courage in execution and by noble endurance. He wrested triumph from failure and in the darkness never failed to see the dawn.
Livingstone took a stand against big game hunting and in that helped to change general opinion towards wildlife.
On Track Safaris was conceived to not only provide a unique and exciting wildlife experience  but also to help to raise funds for our work in conservation. Of-course a modern day safari doesn't require 'noble endurance', quite the opposite. But we all follow in Livingstones footsteps by coming on safari, in more ways than one.

Written by Will Fox

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Tracking leopards on safari

Want to understand more about tracking the movements of big cats (and many other animals, if it comes to that), when on safari?
Its all part of our ethos, to do more that just view animals but to be involved.

Written by Will Fox

Friday, 7 December 2012

Conservation Family

One of the key points of our safaris is that we very much want all our safari guests to become part of our conservation family, to help us to spread the word of African wildlife conservation. A great example of this was when several of our 2012  safarists arranged a series of speaking engagements at UK colleges for me. Timed to fit in with my latest trip to the UK.
It was great to see everyone again (even if the weather was somewhat chillier then when we were on safari in Africa). A big thank you to OTS safarists Andrew & Fiona and David & Sally for looking after us so well and for your generous hospitality.
It was an absolute pleasure to not only have an opportunity to speak to some engaging young minds, but also meet some of the students who are the next generation conservationists.
Written by Will Fox

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Be involved

Our Safari guests are always welcome to do more than just view animals when on safari, but also to be involved with all the elements of our wildlife conservation programs. Whether that be setting camera traps in response to a leopards movements as in the picture above. Or taking a short break during a game drive to join me checking where a leopard has been passing under a fence as  below.
Whatever the case, we want our guests to not only view animals, but be involved.

Written by Will Fox

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Nothing but a family thing

We've been following the progress of a young male Lion for the last year or so, watching him grow and  develop. He's staying with the pride and his father right now, but he is getting more and more confident and making typical adolescent aggressive displays.
He's a handsome beast but he does like to show off especially when his father is around as seen below.
Written by Will Fox

Sunday, 18 November 2012

We're getting there.

This year we have managed to make some great steps forward in improving things at Sizo Primary School. Many thanks to all of our safari guests who have helped us to support Sizo.
Pictured above during a visit by On Track Safaris you can see some of the computers that have been donated. We've now created a small IT centre where the children are learning basic IT skills, under Tara's guidance.
Our main priority continues to be the kitchen upgrade. Our kitchen building fund is nearly there and we very much hope we can appoint a builder to start work before the children return to school after their summer holiday.
The one comment that all our guests make when they visit Sizo is how well behaved and enthusiastic to learn the pupils are. It's absolutely the case, and to be very honest, inspires us to do better for them.

Written by Will Fox

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Speicial Kenya Safari 'one off' for 2013

Our friend Dairen Simpson has been working with us catching and collaring leopards for our research project, all the while being filmed for a TV series.
Will and Dairen have worked together with big cats for many years, not only becoming great friends but sharing a wicked sense of humour.
Pictured above are Dairen and Will waiting to film a sequence for the TV film and below Will, Dairen and the film crew, getting ready for a leopard capture. The film will be on your screens sometime in 2013, meanwhile Dairen has sadly returned to his home in the USA, but Will has plans to work with him next year in kenya. We will be offering a very special 'one off' Safari to join Will and Dairen helping a Lion research project to catch and collar Leopards in Northern Kenya.
Written by Carol Fox

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Great Pictures from Conraad

As all of our guests who have met our Lowveld guide Conraad Loubser will know, he is not only an excellent big five guide but also a accomplished photographer.
Over the couple of months I will regularly post examples of Conraads work on our facebook page for everyone to enjoy, but in the meantime I thought I would give you a taster of his pictures.

If you would like to meet Conraad and enjoy a 2013 On Track Safari then please get in touch with Carol and let us know your preferred travel dates.
Written by Will Fox

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Breakfast at home with a leopard - how cool is that

“Lynsey is coming to the house.”
Carols excited words came as she checked the GPS collar updates from Lynsey one evening after supper.
Not, I hasten to add that we have collared our friend Lynsey (who runs Black Leopard Camp), but rather the leopard that we named after her.
We caught Lynsey on the Thaba Tholo Wilderness Reserve in August, as part of our leopard research program. She was then fitted with a GPS tracking collar that allows us to monitor her behaviour and movements without any further intrusion. She was up and around none the worse for wear very soon after and is providing some great data for the program. It’s vital work that is needed to protect the species. However on this occasion it gave us an exciting times as well, knowing that a Leopard was hunting in the area around our house.

It was too dark to be able to see much that evening, but Carol was back in the office at dawn checking the collar data on Google Earth. Which told us she had settled in the grounds around our home.
Carol was excitedly shouting from the office, ‘she’s here, she’s right here!”
I already knew.
As I opened the blind in our bedroom Lynsey was sat under a tree about twenty meters away, looking quizzically at me.
We are usually up and about very early, but on this particular morning we enjoyed breakfast on our bedroom stoop with a Leopard checking us out.
How cool is that!

Written by Will Fox

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Carol was beaming. "We have to add this option to our safaris"

"Okay Fabian, so where are the Whales?"
We had just arrived at our beach front accommodation in Hermanus and our host Fabian sat chatting with us on our balcony.
Fabian, looked at me curiously (okay if I'm being honest it was more a look which said this fella must be blind!).
"There" he said, looking towards the sea. "There are three of them in front of the lodge"
I searched the horizon, desperately trying to spot a fin or water spout and not appear to be the total idiot I obviously was. But nothing.
"There" he said again, this time pointing down at the sea. Not out to sea, where I had been looking.
An expletive slipped out, followed by a disapproving look from Carol.

Right in front of us, there were three Whales playing in the surf!
Carol was beaming. "We have to add this option to our safaris"

So......If you would like to mix big game viewing with whale watching, then read on.
Our new - Big Game and Whales safari is available from August to November next year. Those are the months when the Southern Right Whales whales return to Walker bay to breed.  
The package starts with our ten day wildlife safari, followed by a short flight down to Cape Town and a three night stay on the beach front in Hermanus. 
Hermanus is the Mecca for Whale watching in South Africa and is the worlds premier place for land based Whale watching.
Not only will you be able to view the magnificent bay from your private balcony, but also take a boat trip out into the bay to experience being on the water with these wonderful creatures.
Note: Reassuringly the boat operates under a strict code that ensures they don't affect the Whales behaviour, or interfere with them in any way.
During our stay we also wandered out through the gate at the bottom of the garden and onto the magnificent wild beach to sit on the sand. With a glass of fizz in one had and binoculars in the other, we watched young calfs with their mothers working the edge of the surf. It doesn' get much better than that.
Click here to contact Carol and she will let you have more details

Written by Will Fox
On Track safaris

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Single ladies safaris

Wendy on game drive with us in Thornybush
Safari guest Wendy (pictured above), sent us some of her pictures of Thaba Tholo Wilderness Reserve leopards (see below).
Wendy was traveling alone and it was a chance remark about her feeling safe by being met in Joberg and fully escorted throughout that led us to thinking about offering special single ladies safaris in 2013.
So if you are a single lady looking to join other ladies for a Safari in 2013 then please send me an email and I'll be able to let you know more.
Thaba Tholo Leopard

Written by Carol Fox
On Track Safaris

Monday, 22 October 2012

Making a real difference.

A pupil whose proud parents were there to see her receive her award
We were proud to attend and contribute to the end of year open day at Sizo school. Everyone enjoyed a wonderful, happy day celebrating the achievements of not only the learners but teachers as well.
As many of you who have visited Sizo school when on Safari with us this year will know, we still face challenges in terms of improving resources and addressing a crumbling infrastructure. However we are making some real progress.
The children may come from a poor rural area, but that doesn't dampen the happy spirit at the school, that is encouraging and captivating. From teachers through to the learners the feeling is one of wanting to improve and develop, and of-course have some time for fun as well.
Thank you very much to everyone who has helped and supported us with our schools program this year. Next, we aim to help to rebuild the kitchen and improve the sewage system. We  have also had some great news with the offer of sponsorship for the school football team from a UK professional club. More on that soon.
For now, well done to everyone at Sizo.
It was very touching at the end of the day when the principle, teachers and parents collectively thanked us and all of our safari guests who have made donations to the school. We are making a real difference to the lives of these children. Thank you all and long may it continue.
INGWE head researcher Tara Pirie assisted with the prize giving. Volunteers from our wildlife campus  provide support to the teachers at the school by taking classes in IT, English and Sports during regular visits.
Head boy and girl with prizes donated by Safari guests Tina and Tony
The award wining choir performing for their parents
Written by Carol Fox
On Track Safaris

Friday, 19 October 2012

More camera trap pics taken by OTS guests

Following on form my last blog. Here are some more camera trap pictures taken by On Track safari guests:

Caracal not far from Black Leopard Camp

Serval, we're seeing quite a few on the reserve

Always a favourite the Slender Mongoose

The new boy

The new boy again

Written by Will Fox
OTS Manager

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Guest Reviews

We have been very fortunate to meet some great folks during our safaris. I always say to our guests that we want them to feel at home and part of the family, not just during their safari but to stay in touch when they get home. The old saying 'start as a guest and leave as a friend' is never more true than with our safaris.
We have some great times and lots of laughs along the way, which is reflected in the reviews we get from Responsible Travel guests. CLICK HERE to check out our latest guest reviews. And if you would like to speak to some of our previous guests, then many are happy to take a call or answer an email, just let us know and we'll introduce you.

Written by Will Fox

Monday, 15 October 2012

Camera Trapping On Safari

All of our Safari guests are able to be involved with our work with leopards during their safari. For example camera trapping is a key research tool, but more than that it is great fun and helps you to understand leopard behaviour that much more.
From the very first game drive you're encouraged to think about leopards. Where they walk, why they would be in a certain area, that sort of thing.
Then on day two or three you put a camera trap out on the reserve at a place where you think leopards will pass. The choice is yours, but we are on hand to advise if required. From our prospective its great to see how our safari guests quickly get a feel for leopard movement.
As all of you who have kindly joined Taras camera trap club will know, camera traps are simply motion activated cameras, that we place at certain points on the reserve to monitor our leopards.
On the final day of safari, we haul in the camera traps and take them to our research base (known by all on the reserve as the Conservation Village), where we can review your pictures and see what you photographed. But of-course it isn't just about leopards, we often get some wonderful pics of other animals, and even some rare examples, such as the Mellers Mongoose below.
As well as being a fun activity (and the winning picture does get a prize), the pictures are entered into the INGWE - research data base and contribute towards our leopard research. The very close up picture below, with Diamond sniffing the camera, if a little blurred still gives us the data we need i.e. we can identify which cat it was.
We also hope that camera trapping will have added to your awareness of the bush and leopard behaviour, which is after all, one of the elements that makes an On Track safari unique.

Written by Will Fox
OTS Manager

Monday, 8 October 2012

It's not just the camera

We are very fortunate to be able to take lots of wildlife photographs when we are on Safari. Thank heavens for digital cameras that's all I can say. If we were still in the days of film, it would cost us a fortune.
Many of our safari guests are keen photographers and more often than not take some wonderful pictures. But I have to say there was a cheeky glint in the eye of one guest recently who brought a simple point and shoot camera and still managed to challenge for best Safari picture.
Written by Will Fox
OTS Manager

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Bush Walks

Guided bush walks are very popular with our safari guests. Whether we are at Thaba Tholo Wilderness Reserve of Thorny Bush, we will always offer bush walks to our guests as they are a great way to experience the bush.
Okay it would be fair to say that you are unlikely to see as many animals (at least close up), when on foot as compared to a vehicle. Wildlife becomes tolerant of game drive vehicles, but many animals consider folks on foot to be a threat. However during a bush walk we have the opportunity to take our time and consider the smaller creatures, flora and fauna, tracks etc etc.
Of-course good field craft is essential if you wish to get the most out of a bush walk. Our guides not only lead the way and keep guests right, but for those who have an interest in learning more about field craft then we'll take time out to show them more.
It's all common sense stuff and not only of use in Africa but also when guests are back at home, enjoying countryside walks.
There is one other good point about bush walks. We love to be on foot in the bush with our guests, its a brilliant way to show you more about nature.

Written by Will Fox
OTS Manager

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Safari luck and squeezing in filming

We’re having great fun squeezing in filming for the Trapper TV series, between safaris. With Dairen Simpson around there are always laughs, especially when he’s off camera and lets say……. whimsically barracking from the side lines (as above).

Just after these shots were taken I headed off to the airport to pick up some new safari guests. 
Gary and Julie are on their second safari with us and I was pleased to say that they brought their usual luck with them. On their first evening drive in Thaba Tholo we came across a beautiful male leopard, just 200m from Black Leopard Camp. We sat with him for around 20mins, before heading back to camp to quickly view Gary's photographs over a drink before dinner.
They have headed off to the Kruger National Park today escorted by our guide Conrad. I know that they were torn between the excitement of the next stage of their safari and hoping not to miss out on a leopard capture while they are away from Thaba Tholo.
We’ll see what happens, over the next weeks trapping. If their luck holds out then they will have the experience of a life time when they come back from the low veld. Because (as ever) our guests have a chance to ‘BE INVOLVED’.

Written by Will Fox
OTS Manager