For the truly adventurous, static game drives, bird viewing decks and yet another round of drinks at the fireside do not a happy wildlife safari experience make. For those wanting to really explore Africa, we rounded up some of the most exciting bush destinations for out-of- the-ordinary travel.
View from the top
The Nay Palad Bird Nest offers an awesome escape in the heart of Laikipia, one of Kenya’s most beautiful safari locations.
Expect to nest (and sleep) like a bird with a panoramic view of the striking wild landscapes below. The entire nest is built and designed from raw materials: think farmed wood and actual tree branches (woven into a nest by the local community), while the interior suite boasts all the trimmings such as a fully equipped bathroom with running water (solar heated) and a flushing toilet. Feast on a picnic-style dinner on the top deck and fall asleep under the stars. The following morning, a surprise picnic breakfast will appear on your doorstep. Tuck in while watching elephant, giraffe and other wildlife at the river.
If you’re comfortable horse riding, a horseback safari through the Okavango Delta is the best way to get up close – although we don’t suggest too personal – with the wildlife in this beautiful region of Botswana. African Horseback Safaris were early pioneers of horse-riding safaris on the continent and, more than two decades later, they’re still taking guests via trusty steeds for thrilling gallops alongside giraffe, zebra and buck, or quietly stalking bigger game such as elephant. Ditch the notion that zero prep work is required for a bush experience in the saddle; you need to be riding fit and comfortable at all paces. However, if your partner is desperate to join in but has never ridden a horse, there are non-riding options for plus ones and children too. The duration of your trip is up to you; there are no fixed arrival or departure dates and only a minimum of three nights is required.
The idea that ultra-luxury safari experiences are all about being kept in first-world seclusion is unfortunate. Even the most opulent of lodges are encouraging guests to climb out of the infinity pool in favour of a connection they’ll probably never make back home. At Virgin’s Mahali Mzuri in Kenya, the Maasai community tours make for an adventure of a different kind; one of learning about the local people of the land.
And it’s certainly not a touristy ‘tour-bus’ adventure. The aim is for guests to really get a feeling for the daily life of the local tribe whose traditional pastoralist customs are still very much in practise. Go first thing in the morning when you can help milk the cattle or in the evening when the animals are being herded to bed.
A 45-minute drive from Port Elizabeth International Airport, Shamwari is one of the largest private conservation initiatives in SA. Not only is it home to the Big Five and five of SA’s seven biomes, it’s also a safe haven for once-abused animals.
Staying at Shamwari’s Explorer Camp offers guests older than 16 the best way to experience the bush – via guided walks. Being immersed in this type of environment comes with certain dangers and the age limit is for good reason. If you’re of prey size, you’re an easy target. The camp comprises four two-man tests for guests, one open-air shower and a flushing toilet. Food is cooked on an open fire.
Gift of stars
Tintswalo Safari Lodge and Tintswalo Manor House are located in the private Manyeleti Game Reserve, which shares an unfenced boundary with the Kruger National Park. Tintswalo, meaning ‘gift’, and Manyeleti, meaning ‘place of stars’, live up to their names by offering guests incredible game-viewing experiences in an African wilderness that boasts one of the lowest vehicle densities in the Greater Kruger National Park. The luxurious Tintswalo Manor House, which is a fully catered home-style villa with four double or twin rooms, with an adjoining room suitable for two children, is ideal for families or groups of up to 10 people keen on an unforgettable safari getaway.
SAFARI WITH PURPOSE
The Singita Grumeti Fund and nonprofit organisation BRAVE will host their third annual wildlife safari with a difference. It incorporates a 63km run through the Serengeti grasslands in Tanzania over three consecutive days. The event forms part of Singita’s Safaris with a Purpose offering and is designed to fund opportunities for study, training and internships for girls keen on becoming future leaders in conservation. find out more here
Entries are now open for this incredible experience taking place from 27 October to 1 November 2020. The entire experience spans five days and this all-women run will support the empowerment of girls in adjacent rural areas.
Guests will also be able to engage with the local community, who will benefit from this venture, enjoy guided evening game drives, and meet the anti-poaching teams and canine unit at the Singita Grumeti Fund’s law enforcement headquarters.
Email KatherineC@grumetifund.org for more information.
[ Wildlife Safari Written by Helen Clemson and Debbie Hathway]