Africa is home to the safari and seeing the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo) in their natural habitat is a truly special experience. If you have not yet been lucky enough to experience a Safari to Africa it should be top of your ‘Must Do Before You Die’ list. Although once experienced, it will be hard to avoid its addictive streak that gets beneath the skin and will drag you back again and again!
Here are our current top ten unforgettable African safaris…
1. Elephant Back riding in Botswana
Game viewing by elephant-back offers a very different perspective on the surrounding flora and fauna and a unique way to enjoy some of the Okavango Delta’s finest scenery and wildlife. As a guest at the small and exclusive Abu Camp on the banks of a pretty lagoon, you spend your days riding and walking with the elephants and get a fascinating glimpse of their world and learn about their lives. Becoming part of an African elephant herd is an extraordinary experience and a rare privilege and one that ensures an unforgettable safari.
2. Camel Safari in Kenya
The original home of the safari, Kenya is a place of legend and what better way to absorb it than a walking safari with camels in the remote Ndoto Mountains. Days are spent soaking up the vast horizons and wandering through unspoilt wilderness to the distant tune of the Samburu watering their cattle. No vehicles, no crowds – these unique safaris offer the chance to witness a very different world of incredible scenery, wonderful wildlife, nomadic peoples and heavenly food around the campfire beneath a sky full of stars.
3. Gorilla tracking in Rwanda
The rainforests of the Virunga Volcanoes are one of the last outposts of the endangered mountain gorilla and these lush volcanic slopes provide an appropriately dramatic setting for what is one of the most poignant and thrilling wildlife experiences. Immortalised in the film ‘Gorillas in the Mist’, the famous primatologist Dian Fossey lived and worked here and it is in part due to her pioneering research that the mountain gorillas still survive here. To follow in her footsteps and track through the forest and spend time with these magnificent animals is one of Africa’s hidden gems.
4. Private safari houses in South Africa
Going on safari is not always about how much wildlife you can see, but sometimes about how you see it and, more importantly, who with. For people seeking exclusivity and privacy, then the private houses in the Waterberg Mountains to the north west of Johannesburg, offer a wonderfully intimate experience. Set on private concession areas and taking just one booking at any one time makes the likes of Jembisa ideally suited for families or private parties. With no big cats or predators and also malaria-free, this is a fantastic way for young families to explore the African bush.
5. Flying safari in Namibia
Soaring over the beautifully rugged and extreme moonscapes of Namibia’s remote Skeleton Coast takes you on a journey into one of Africa’s most inaccessible and captivating places. Vast sand dunes, ancient shipwrecks, Bushman engravings, boating on the Kunene River, desert adapted wildlife as well as the opportunity to interact with the proud nomadic Himba people – this is Namibia at its most spectacular!
6. Tracking chimpanzees in Tanzania
For those seeking sanctuary well off the beaten track, then why not head into the forest draped peaks and fairy-tale valleys of the beautiful Mahale mountains in search of chimpanzees. Tracking the chimps takes patience and a certain level of fitness, but to sit in their presence is a very special experience. Combined with some swimming in the crystal waters of Lake Tanganyika and the sublime style of Greystoke Camp as your base, this is a safari you will never forget.
7. Walking safari in Zambia
Serene, reflective and wonderfully exciting, a walking safari through the pristine bush of Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park is the best way to escape the traditional safari vehicles and head out on foot in search of not only the big game, but also some of the smaller and more unusual animals and plants. Walking with a world class guide from bush camp to bush camp over several days allows you to appreciate this incredible habitat from a very different perspective and is the best way to get the heart beating and the senses tingling!
8. Horse riding in Botswana
Galloping through sparkling flood plains and across dry, open savannah astride a beautifully schooled thoroughbred in search of some of Botswana’s incredible wildlife is one of life’s great joys. For the experienced rider, the freedom to canter stride for stride with a herd of giraffe or sit and watch buffalo wallowing in a mud bath is pure magic. Integral to the experience is to relax around the camp fire at night and relive the day’s exciting encounters.
9. Adventure in Mozambique
Gorongosa is the new frontier for experienced and intrepid safari enthusiasts keen to explore one of Africa’s most remote and spectacular parks. This is old style safariing with the emphasis on great guiding, stunning scenery and fascinating gameviewing and if a little luxury is required afterwards, then why not combine the safari with a few days relaxing on one of the little islands such as Vamizi or Quilalea set along Mozambique’s stunning coastline.
10. Canoeing safari in Zimbabwe
Gliding along the Zambezi River in a canoe past elephants quenching their thirst and hippos splashing in the shallows is one of the most exciting ways to experience the beauty of the African bush. The Zambezi is one of Africa’s greatest rivers yet its wide, gentle meanderings beside Mana Pools National Park offer the adventurous a truly thrilling wildlife experience.