Best African Elephant Safari Destinations!

The African elephant Loxodonta Africana is one of the most popular safari bucket list animals all visitors to Africa want to see and photograph. Travelers are spoilt for choice when it comes to these mammals, so we have put together a list of top five destinations to see them in Africa.

 

African Wildlife Safaris

 

Wilderness Safaris aim is to protect both the creatures and the wild areas in which they live. Nearly every region where we have developed a low-density tourism operation is an area of extremely high species diversity, and a key wilderness area. We are proud that our projects have helped to protect these areas and have often increased the amount of land under conservation protection.

Weighing up to 6 000 kg (6.6 tons) and measuring up to 3.3 m (10 ft.) at the shoulder, the African elephant is the world’s largest land mammal. It is characterised by a highly dexterous trunk, long curved tusks, and massive ears.

The African elephant is intelligent, social and always very entertaining to watch – from the Linyanti’s swimming elephants at DumaTau to the desert-adapted elephants of Damaraland and the mega-herds at Linkwasha in Hwange. Make sure at least one of these camps is on your itinerary on your next safari to Africa …

 

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DumaTau – Conservation Corridor

 
DumaTau is located close to the source of the Savuti Channel, with access to the Linyanti Swamps, floodplains and mopane woodlands, thus offering an excellent combination of habitats. The Linyanti Wildlife Reserve is well-known for its elephant concentrations as they congregate along the waterways and lagoons during the dry winter months.

 

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DumaTau is set on Osprey Lagoon on the Linyanti River, between two “elephant highways” affording unparalleled viewing of these iconic mammals, along with other wildlife

Dense mopane woodland offers an excellent combination of habitats for a plethora of wildlife, though elephants are the area’s biggest attractions. Book your trip to DumaTau here.

Abu – Explore Elephant Conservation

 
Time spent at Abu gives you a deeper understanding of elephant conservation – the premise on which Abu is based. The Abu Herd is comprised of elephants that have been rescued from exploitative situations and are being assessed for reintroduction to their natural habitat. Since the inception of Abu, several elephants have been successfully released into the Abu Private Reserve, and the Herd members continue to be eloquent ambassadors for elephant conservation.

 

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Abu’s guest experience is centered around respect and appreciation for Africa’s iconic savannah elephants and the abundant wildlife and habitat of the Okavango Delta, a World Heritage Site

 

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Abu is set in a pristine riverine forest and blends in seamlessly with the magnificent surrounding hardwood trees. Looking out over a large lagoon, an imaginative use of canvas has created a unique and luxurious style of tent. Discover this elephant wonderland here.

Linkwasha – Mega Herds of Hwange

 

One of the most amazing things I love to do during Hwange’s dry season is sit at a waterhole watching elephants. You can easily see over 1 000 march through in one afternoon

– Graham Simmonds, Wilderness Safaris Zimbabwe Sales Manager

 

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Even though they are thirsty and have walked tremendous distances to get there, the respect among their species is immense. Once a herd has had a chance to drink, they know they need to do so quickly and efficiently and move along, because the next herd is already on the horizon, making its way towards the water, with many more not far behind them. “The trails to the water look like a drunk spider made a web”.

 

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Sometimes the herd arriving to drink only numbers five or six and they can find space at the edge of the waterhole to drink , but often it could be 20 or 30, and so when it’s their turn to drink, they do so with intent and then move on; they know tomorrow when they arrive, they might be third or fourth in line… and so the conveyor belt of thirst-quenchers works like a well-oiled machine. Sharing is caring – especially in such heat.

Book your life-changing journey to Linkwasha here.

Chikwenya – Where Elephants Stand on Two Legs

 
What an extraordinary experience it is to see a large elephant raise itself up on to its hind legs to reach for food. Most of the trees around Chikwenya have pods, and the elephants tend to shake the trees to get at the pods.

 

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The first time I was treated to this wonderful experience, the elephant lifted up his trunk to sniff, and then positioned himself under the branches and raised himself up, until he stood on his hind legs.” – Barlington Nemhara, Wilderness Safaris Chikwenya Kitchen Porter

It’s not every day that you witness this in the wilderness, but at Chikwenya you could very well be privy to this amazing sight – all you need to do is book your adventure here.

Damaraland – Desert-Adapted Wonders

 
Damaraland Camp in Namibia exists within one of the driest, most desolate regions in all of Africa. In this arid environment, the ceaseless procession of life revolves around harnessing near non-existent water resources in the most economical way possible. Obviously, this scrub landscape cannot support vast, concentrated herds of wildlife, but it nevertheless boasts a varied and breathtaking assortment of species, including magnificent desert-adapted elephant.

 

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Morning and afternoon game drives reveal the dramatic scenery and fascinating wildlife of the region. Desert-adapted elephant are a highlight, although the natural cycle of rainfall dictates the seasonal movements of wildlife in the area.

While these elephants are the same species as the African elephant, they can appear leaner and taller due to their diet, and have bigger feet than other African elephants. The larger size of their feet allows them to walk with more ease across the very soft desert sand, an adaptation that is useful when you consider that fact that these animals have been known to travel up to 200 km (124 miles) in search of water.

 

Desert adapted African elephants

 

Damaraland Camp is situated in the Huab River Valley, in one of the best wilderness areas in Namibia, offering endless vistas across starkly beautiful plains, ancient valleys and a stunning ochre-purple mountain backdrop. Book your journey to discover these unforgettable elephants here.

 

 


The Modern Warriors

A chance invitation to a rare occasion. Granted special permission, Adam from Kenya’s Angama Safari Lodge documents an ancient Maasai rite of passage in the context of modern life.

 

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A few days ago I received an invitation to attend a tremendously special event – a Maasai warrior graduation ceremony. Taking place roughly every 5 years, this was to be held about an hour’s drive west of Angama Mara, in the direction of Lake Victoria. With absolutely no idea of what to expect, I quickly packed all my cameras into a car and sped off in hopes of capturing this rare event.

 

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I arrived mid-morning to find red ochre-painted young men, fully kitted out in their traditional Maasai shukas, in the midst of slaughtering five cows. It was like an outdoor abattoir. Plumes of smoke could be seen rising from the pockets of forest fragments, chunks of meat, lanced onto branches, roasting on the flames. To one side a large but temporary manyatta (small village) had been erected with a number of small huts. We met the community elder who walked us through the manyatta and introduced us to a number of people. He gave us a very brief explanation of what we may see during the course of the day and why it was all happening.

 

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He also, very kindly, allowed me to take photographs of certain parts of the ceremony. It was clear from the outset that nothing was staged. This was completely authentic and for the next few hours a handful of us ‘outsiders’ were offered a front row seat into a custom as old as the Maasai themselves.

 

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What struck me immediately was that although the majority of what was unfolding before us was ancient in its traditions, there was definitely a modern spin and influence. First, there were the numbers of cell phones being used to record the ceremony, followed by the bottles of spring water being drunk, the sports shoes, the long cartoon-printed socks, and the photo booth being erected to the side – with a backdrop that had Lamborghinis, Porsches, fancy houses, hot air-balloons, helicopters and airplanes. This was a Maasai party for the modern day!

 

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The catchment area around Angama Mara falls under a subset of the Maasai known as ‘The Siria Maasai’. The Siria Maasai consist of 5 sub-clans: Irkunono, Olorien, Ilaisier, Iltorobo and Irkaputie. During this phase the warriors of each sub-clan build their own camps where they live – honing their skills while learning age-old traditions.

 

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The way I understood it, the focus of this day was for the warriors from one of the sub-clans to come together and present themselves, and their cows, to the elders of all the five sub-clans. Each sub-clan had to send a cow as an offering. The other four sub-clans will meet in the upcoming days in similar events. Once all five of the sub-clans have met the Siria Maasai elders, the warrior-group will be given a name, and a date will be set for the massive graduation ceremony for this ‘age group’ of warriors to become junior elders within the community.

 

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There was much jumping, singing, dancing, blessing, and celebrating. It was a privilege to have been allowed to witness this special day. The highlight for me was undoubtedly the moment when the young warriors huddled up close together into a circle and started chanting – a sound so guttural, so unifying, so moving, that it hits you right in the chest. It left me in absolute awe. Fortunately, I had my camera. Because I was speechless.

 

By Adam Bannister of Angama


World Water Day!

March 22 marks the annual celebration of water across the world. The purpose of such a day is so simple, yet vital, to raise awareness about the global water crisis and to hopefully get more people to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of water and sanitation by 2030.We celebrate this resource for all the different things it means to people all over the world.

Kapama Private Game Reserve is in Limpopo province of South Africa, integrated into the region known as the Lowveld, known for its dry winters. We celebrate water not only for what it means to us but for what it means to our environment and the extraordinary biodiversity it holds.

 

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African Safari Co.

 

From April to September, we experience our winter. Deciduous trees lose their leaves to survive this period, some reptiles go into a state of torpor, certain birds migrate to lush, warmer areas and the bush becomes a dull, brown and dire region. Herbivores search long and hard for sufficient nutrients.

Kapama has numerous watering holes, however many dry up and remains barren in the dry season. Those watering holes that still contain water become the lifeline for many of the animals in the area. There is deliberate ‘mini migration’ towards the beautiful perennial Klaserie river, another vital water source during winter, attracting wildlife and providing relief. However, as the fauna and flora struggle through the dry season, their biological instinct tells them that it will not be forever and that relief would come.

 

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Mid-November is a magical time, bringing about change, diversity, health and life. The first rains come down during November in the form of pleasant showers or roaring thunderstorms. The transformation from being dreary and dry to becoming lush, green and full of life is a quick one, happening right before your eyes, becoming greener and lusher every day after. Rain is connected to the fauna and flora.

 

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Impala’s, vervet monkeys, warthogs and many more herbivorous animals are biologically programmed to give birth to their young during this period. Colour spreads across the reserve as the fruits pop up and flowers bloom. Migratory birds of all shapes and sizes, from the European roller to the Wahlbergs eagle, travel from all over the world to indulge in the bounty that comes around during the rainy summer months. Snakes and other reptiles become active. Insects and arachnids come out to play. Frogs and toads sing all through the night.

 

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It is quite an easy conclusion, water sustains ALL life, from the smallest insect to the largest of the Big Five. That is why we should protect this valuable resource not only for us but for everything that relies on it.

 

 

 

Story by: River Lodge Ranger Tasha van Den Aardweg


Making Guide History in Rwanda!

Local Rwandan Junior Safari Guides Innocent Tuyisenge and Alphonse Ntabana are on track to becoming the first qualified FGASA guides in Rwanda. Training at our beautiful Magashi Camp in the abundant Akagera National Park, Innocent and Alphonse have had the incredible opportunity of learning from some of the best in the business, combining knowledge from Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa and, of course, our senior guides at Magashi.

 

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So we decided to catch up with these two young leaders and find out more about them.

Innocent’s story

Innocent Tuyisenge started out with Wilderness Safaris as a waiter at Bisate in 2017, and then moved to Magashi when it opened in 2019, to continue his good work. His love for all things natural, and a dream to become a guide saw him expand his daily vocation to include the great outdoors.

 

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Born in Uganda, Innocent grew up playing football and helping his father herding cattle and keeping them safe out in the bush. Originally from Rwanda, the family moved back to their homeland in the early 2000s, and Innocent completed his high school years. With a clear interest in tourism, Innocent completed a number of studies in Travel and Tourism Management, as well as training with Umubano Tours and Rwanda Safaris Guides Association.

 

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Innocent believes that “Wilderness has provided me with expert training opportunities both in theory and in the field, so that I am able to achieve the best results possible. I feel that whoever I come into contact with in a learning environment offers me something different in terms of skills and training. I really look forward to growing as a guide and gaining more experience, and in the future, being able to pass on my knowledge to other Rwandans”.

 

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Innocent’s ethos is clearly aligned with that of Wilderness Safaris. Not only is he passionate about conservation, but he cares deeply for the welfare of his community, and this is noted in his previous work with Fair Children Youth Foundation and Chance for Childhood.

 

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“I love working for Wilderness Safaris because it’s a passion of mine to make other people feel special. Also being an ambassador for nature and conservation is very important to me. ‘Our journeys change lives’ is more than just a saying – through all the training and support, Wilderness Safaris has changed my life”.

Alphonse’s Story

Previously a freelance community guide for African Parks, Alphonse Ntabana started working at Magashi in March 2019. Like Innocent, he is a Rwandan citizen born in Uganda. During his secondary school years, the family made their way back to their country and Alphonse grew up rearing cows and looking after the family cattle in between his studies.

 

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As a revered profession, Alphonse grew up believing he would one day become a doctor. However after he completed his Bachelor’s degree in Uganda (Kabale University), he came home and worked in another valuable field, this one in conservation and amongst nature in Akagera National Park. His current training is going well: “Our senior guides display passion and a willingness to share their knowledge. They have really helped us understand each aspect of FGASA manuals, and it’s always exciting to be on game drives with them, learn from them and seeing how they interact with guests. Should we continue learning like this on a daily basis we could be FGASA Level 1 guides by June 2021.

 

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“Guiding is like travelling the world – you get to know different cultures and practices from all nations around the world. And that is the challenge as well. Adapting to these. You need to accept and acknowledge some things that you might not be used to.”

 

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“Having spent a lot of my life in Uganda, I am so thankful for His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, and how he has brought peace and growth to the people of Rwanda. One of these areas of growth is tourism, and I am thankful that Wilderness Safaris is here. It’s a great company – very concerned about their employees. They provide us with training and also provide great opportunities where possible”.

 

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As with Innocent, the motto ‘Our journeys change Lives’ rings true to Alphonse. “By working for Wilderness Safaris as one big family, I see my future as a bright one”.


A Soaring Serengeti Safari

On a recent trip to Africa’s famous Serengeti, Adam captured some incredible photographs by helicopter. From a new perspective, he reflects on his new-found appreciation for this corner of the world!

 

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Helicopters are awe-inspiring – there is simply no other way to put it. For me, the more time up in the skies, flying amongst the birds, the better. It gives a perspective and a view of the world that is otherwise impossible, along with an incredible sense of place. Join me on a visual feast of some of my favorite aerial shots taken along this flight path…

 

Southern African Safasris

 

Staying at the beautiful Mwiba Lodge, near to the Maswa Game Reserve, we used this location as a literal launchpad to explore one of the most iconic parts of Tanzania.

 

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Flight path starting and ending at Mwiba River Lodge

 

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This area has such rich and diverse geography; from its location along the Great Rift Valley to the volcanoes and craters, the salt lakes, the open plains, the deep erosion gullies, the impressive protruding koppies, and the vast tracts of untouched, and inaccessible, wilderness. Looking north along the escarpment, we flew over waterfalls, gorges, and thick forested ravines. This area is vast, largely unoccupied, super remote and breathtakingly gorgeous.

 

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Looking out towards the salt-rich Lake Eyasi you can see the area locals are using to dry salt. The brilliant array of colours is created through different salt concentrations and temperatures. Once this water dries off, it leaves salt which the local people collect and sell. Look closely and you can see a flock of Flamingoes flying over.

 

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A lone fisherman on the banks of Lake Eyasi caught my eye. Leaving the lake we headed north up the escarpment and then cut west. Huge erosion gullies can be seen scattered across, forming the most gorgeous of patterns when viewed from above.

 

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The Ngorongoro Conservation Area

 

We arrived at the endless open plains of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. There can be few massive, open grasslands, such as this left in Africa.

 

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We managed to catch up with the wildebeest migration. Long lines of wildebeest slowly, but steadily, moving northwards. Almost all females, with a baby in tow.

 

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A ‘Manyatta’ – a traditional Maasai homestead

 

Traditional Maasai ‘Manyattas.’ A method of traditional housing in which the livestock is secured overnight in the centre of all the huts – reducing predation of the livestock by lions, leopards, hyenas and jackals.

 

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The world famous Olduvai Gorge

 

The Olduvai Gorge is without a doubt one of the most important paleoanthropological sites in the world. It was here that Mary and Louis Leakey made numerous crucial discoveries, pivotal in understanding the development and social complexities of the earliest humans, or hominins.

 

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Gaining altitude fast we passed by the famous Ngorongoro Crater, seeing a few sparsely distributed communities.

 

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The Empakai Crater, a caved-in volcanic caldera

 

One of the highlights, of a trip already packed with highlights, was Empakai Crater, a caved-in volcanic caldera. I simply could not believe the colours–the verdant greens and the brilliant blues.

 

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The view from the ‘jump seat’

 

With the doors open up here, it is cold. But you simply can’t beat that feeling.

 

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Ol Doinyo Lengai, ‘Mountain of God’

 

 

Ol Doinyo Lengai (Mountain of God) literally took my breath away. I had heard about this active volcano in books and had in the past seen it from afar. But never did I imagine that I would be able to circle around it and perch on top. Everyone who has seen these photos can not believe how green it was. Apparently, it is normally barren, rocky, sandy, and brown.

 

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Dropping down towards Lake Natron the temperatures started soaring. Down on the ground it can easily reach mid 40s. Life here is harsh. At this stage, we needed to turn around and start heading back south-west towards Mwiba.

 

We passed back into slightly more lush environs. Goats and sheep play such a crucial role to the local people here, both in terms of diet and finances.

 

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This stream nourishes the landscape, for now

 

A small stream meanders its way through the conservation area – in weeks to come this will dry out and the landscape will transform.

 

 

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The protected lands of Maswa and Mwiba

 

Back in Maswa and Mwiba we explored some of their magnificent protected lands. Ancient, huge baobabs stand proud amidst a sea of greenery.

 

 

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Large herds of wild, unhabituated buffalo seek cover in the thickets, while zebra dazzle against the lush green clearings.

 

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A lone vehicle navigates the vast wilderness area

 

A single game-drive road winds its way through a forest of flat-topped Acacia tortilis trees. This is without a doubt one of the most spectacular wilderness areas I have ever seen.

 

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A “Black Ear” Wonder!

We departed Southern Camp on a beautiful afternoon around 4h30 for our Safari Game drive to find all the amazing things that nature has to offer. Within the first 30 minutes, we spotted a breeding herd of Impala, five male giraffes, spread out feeding on the trees in the area and a leopard tortoise, which makes up of the small five, crossing the road.

As we continued down one of the reserve roads, we came across an open clearing. To our right was a couple of scrubs beside tall grass and to our left was a water puddle, with loads of activity buzzing around it. Birds were drinking and singing and others taking a bath. As we reached the end of the open clearing, my assistant guide Joseph, raised his hand, leaping forward with excitement, pointing, and struggling to find his words. Finally, he said, “Caracal!”.

 

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I almost lost my mind when I saw the Caracal lying, with his head held down, his black-tipped ears sticking out and patches of his back exposed through the grass. By this time, my guests began asking questions, and I was trying to regain my composure to guide them through this experience. They asked, “What is that?” “Is that a lion?” “Is it a lion cub?”

I told them that it was a Caracal and that they are a rare sight, and that this is the first one that I have seen in the wild. Did you know:

  • It gets his name from the Turkish word ‘garah gulak’ which means ‘black ear’
  • A Caracal is the largest of the smaller cats
  • It is tawny to rust-brown, with a white chest and underside
  • It is powerfully built, has large paws and quite a short tail
  • The ears are pointed and tipped with tufts of black hair
  • It has prominent black and white marks on the face
  • Caracals are Carnivores, which means they eat meat
  • They mainly feed on small animals – rodents, birds, mongoose, and in some cases baby impala
  • It has long back legs which allow it to leap (up to 4 m) into the air to catch birds in flight

 

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We waited for a couple more minute, watching the Caracal as it was looking around. As I turned to my guests, they were all smiling and appeared extremely happy, taking photos of this remarkable animal. Suddenly it got up and moved further into the thickets allowing guests to see it in its full glory.

This was an extra-ordinary sighting! It most definitely made my afternoon safari so much more exciting and the guests were pleased to have shared this magnificent moment with Joseph and me.

 

 

Story by: Southern Camp Ranger Titus Ndlovu


Botswana After The Floods

AS THE FLOODWATERS RECEDE, THE DRY SEASON IN THE OKAVANGO DELTA IS A WONDERFUL TIME TO EXPLORE…

 

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Some safari travelers are on a permanent mission to tick off as many new destinations as they can in one lifetime, while others form deep connections with certain places and will happily return to a favorite spot, time and time again, to maintain that soulful bond.

Returning to the same country, and even the same region, can be an entirely different journey at different times of the year. Seasons change, and with them so too do the landscapes and the feelings they evoke. Crisp winter mornings energize and invigorate, while lazy summer days call for guilt-free rest and relaxation. In spring, new life and colorful blossoms abound, and the warm colors of autumn gently signal yet another changing of the season. Mother Nature certainly puts on a constant spectacle for those who take the time to appreciate it.

 

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A reason to return

I love exploring new destinations and experiencing different cultures, but I’m all for returning to those countries and cities that hold a special place in my heart, to restore that emotional connection and to see the same place through new eyes. Back in March, I had the wonderful opportunity to revisit the picture perfect Okavango Delta in Botswana. This was my third time setting foot in beautiful Botswana and hopefully not my last.

I fell in love with the Okavango Delta for its expansive, unspoiled and unfenced landscapes; the rich variety of wildlife and the pleasure of viewing it in the absence of other vehicles; the overly dramatic sunrises and sunsets; the remoteness and tranquility of our lodges; and the sheer wide open spaces that you seemingly have all to yourself. It is the perfect place to disconnect, get back to nature and settle down to that much-needed slower pace.

 

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Seasons change

Officially declared UNESCO’s 1 000th World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, the Okavango Delta is undeniably Botswana’s crown jewel. World famous for its narrow, winding waterways, glassy lagoons and remote islands teeming with wildlife, it’s no surprise that most of the nature lovers that flock to the Delta do so during its flood season (typically May to September) when the floodwaters are in full swing. Pastel-colored lilies float upon verdant lily pads, butterflies captivate with their iridescent wings and tiny painted frogs cling to the reeds as you take to the tranquil waterways in a traditional mokoro (dugout canoe).

The Delta’s dry season (typically October to April) is just as remarkable, but in an entirely different way. The famous floodwaters recede and the channels, swamps and lagoons dry up completely leaving sand, dust and shells in their wake. The once watery wonderland is then miraculously converted into a vast, open grassland allowing for some incredible wildlife sightings. This was my first time exploring the Delta during its dry season, and it definitely didn’t disappoint.

 

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Unlimited access

The low levels of water during the dry season allow far more flexibility and increased accessibility to really get out there and truly explore the thousands upon thousands of islands that often become completely inaccessible during the flood season. During the floods, you may spot a herd of elephants splashing in the distance or a leopard sleeping in a tree, but with the floodwaters in full spate, you may not always be able to get a close-up view. The glory of the dry season is that previously inaccessible traversing areas open up and you can seemingly go anywhere, anytime, without the fear of your safari vehicle getting stuck in the mud.

Another added bonus that everyone should experience in Botswana is a walking safari. Once the swamps and channels have dried up, a whole new world opens up that can be fully explored on foot.

We stood on termite mounds to admire the uninterrupted view. We quietly walked past curious herds of zebra and a lone giraffe (my favorite) in the distance. We identified several tracks, from mighty elephants down to tiny ant lions. We even observed how the predatory ant lion stalks its prey from behind a trap door at the bottom of its cleverly constructed, cone-shaped death trap.

 

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A wildlife spectacle

Of course the improved land access applies to the wildlife as well, and species that are not frequently seen during the flood season can be located far more easily once the channels evaporate. This higher density of wildlife makes for some truly memorable game drives.

Big prides of lion move into the area during the drier months and in addition to the relaxed prides that we observed for ages, we were also fortunate to witness a large and highly active pack of endangered African wild dogs on the hunt, not once, but twice. We also located two different and equally magnificent male leopards — on the same day, might I add — which was a definite highlight and something I’d never experienced in the Delta before.

 

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Ever the drama queen

The tides may change (or more accurately the floodwaters in this case), but one thing remains absolutely constant. No matter what the season, the Delta will always captivate with its overly dramatic, “stop and look at me” sunrises and sunsets that are well worth waking up (and staying up) for. The reflections in the flood season will have you seeing double and the eerie mist and cloud formations of the dry season will have you falling in love with Botswana all over again.

 

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I shall return

The freedom to explore otherwise restricted areas, by vehicle and by foot, made this Delta safari a very different one compared to my prior visits. The landscape takes on such a vastly different perspective and the experience was so different on so many levels, from the greener than green vistas, the enchanting sunsets (and sunrises) that took everyone’s breath away, and the unsurpassed game viewing that was never interrupted by other vehicles.

One of Africa’s last remaining untouched wilderness areas, the Okavango Delta, no matter the season, is a true haven for biodiversity. If you have the means and the time, try and experience it during the flood season and the dry season. Its beauty will captivate you, its wildlife will entertain you, its landscapes will ground you and its people will touch your heart.

 

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15 Travel Myths Debunked (11-15)

Africa is a soul continent. One can’t quite put a finger on exactly what it is, but somehow Africa’s intoxicating kaleidoscope of dream worthy landscapes, iconic wildlife, intriguing cultures, soulful music and starry nights grab hold of one’s soul. Once you’ve experienced the heart of this ancient land, chances are, you’re incurably hooked.

Yet many who have not yet ventured to this captivating continent still hold the ‘mythconception’ that ‘deep, dark Africa’ is dangerous, dirty and backwards, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The Mother Continent may be mysterious, but she is widely misunderstood. It’s time to set the record straight and bust these 15 myths about travel to Africa.

 

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Myth 11: don’t drink the water

 

Although most travelers will avoid drinking tap water in any foreign land, it is actually safe to drink from the tap in South Africa’s urban areas. Of course this is not advisable in the more rural and remote areas; however, lodges across Africa have on-site, state-of-the-art water purification and bottling plants.

Recyclable glass bottles of safe-to-drink water, both tame (natural) and wild (sparkling), are provided in every guest suite, throughout the lodge, at every meal, as well as on every game drive enabling guests to stay hydrated without any worry.

Image © Lucas Raven.

 

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Myth 12: there’s no wifi in Africa

 

When we travel, the aim should be to disconnect from technology, deadlines, meetings and to-do lists and to reconnect with the natural world, each other and indeed ourselves. The goal should be to wander where the wifi is weak; however, with remote work and digital nomadism now rapidly becoming our norm, many travelers simply need to stay connected.

Due to the remote location of many of Africa’s lodges and camps, internet connectivity can and will be intermittent at times. This is to be expected. That said, many private transfer vehicles are wifi-enabled for those long drives and most properties do have wifi connection. It may not be as reliable, or as fast, as the one you have at home, nor will 100% connectivity be guaranteed at all times, but you will be able to keep in touch with work and home while you’re exploring Africa.

There are plenty of reliable options for travelers looking to work from holiday (an increasingly popular trend to emerge from the pandemic). The caveat here is to connect to technology only when absolutely necessary. Zoom into a meeting here and there, find a beautiful table with a view while you answer emails, update your social media (but don’t obsess over it) and text your loved ones, but be present in your surroundings and try not to miss out on any of the fun.

Every traveler to Africa will agree that if you allow yourself to truly disconnect from the insatiable, demanding clutches of technology and connect with nature and your surroundings, you’ll find a much deeper, more meaningful connection. Every time.

 

Custom African Safari Experiences

 

Myth 13: Africa is always hot and sunny

 

Given the sheer size of Africa (see myth 1), it’s not surprising that each country’s climates, temperatures and precipitation differ. There are rainy seasons, droughts, rare desert rains and some places even get the occasional dusting of snow. Although African summers can be scorchers and the winters are far milder than their northern counterparts, it is not always hot.

Yes, on a winter safari, chances are you’ll be lazing around the pool come the afternoon, but be warned, the mornings and evenings will be chilly. Layers are your best friend. You’ll be reaching for the gloves, beanie, blankets and hot water bottle on those morning game drives, but by the afternoon, you could be in a swimsuit next to the pool. Pack for all seasons and bring lots of high SPF sunscreen. Even in wintertime, Africa’s sun is surprisingly intense.

 

African Safari Co. - Travel Experts

 

Myth 14: African food is boring

 

Food is an integral—and enjoyable—part of travel. Meals are meant to be lingered over and slowly devoured and going back for seconds (thirds, fourths … who’s counting?!) is always encouraged. Often some of the most memorable travel moments come in the form of a delicious impromptu snack shared en route, a celebratory drink served at sunset or a dessert savored under the stars.

The chefs at our lodges and preferred partner properties are world-class and every meal is an invitation to try something new and fall in love with the flavors of Africa. Savor every meal and step outside of your comfort zone. If you can’t get enough of a particular dish that you’d like to recreate at home, just ask our chefs for the recipe—they’re happy to share their culinary secrets.

Remember, calories don’t count when you’re on holiday and diets don’t feature on any of our suggested packing lists. Leave them at home where they belong.

 

African Luxury Safari Travel Designers

 

Myth 15: there’s no such thing as khaki fever

 

Ladies (and gentlemen), be warned, the dreaded khaki fever is a real thing, for which there is no cure. It’s the age-old story: rugged leader in (khaki) uniform; protector, educator, lover of nature and gifted charmer and storyteller. Those afflicted by this fervent fever become hopelessly attracted to their safari suitors.

Africa’s undeniably charismatic ‘khakis’ provide a sense of safety and security to safari goers while they explore the wilderness. Not only do they protect, educate and entertain their guests, they also encourage them to experience nature’s beauty through their eyes.

Not everyone falls prey to the captivatingly charming khaki brigade. Some claim immunity, while others will openly confess. Although this myth remains hotly contested, deep down we know which side of the debate holds the truth.

Image © Andrew van den Broeck.

 

African Safari Co. Blog

 

Africa is enchanting, spellbinding and truly unforgettable. It is a playground for all ages. The sun can be intense and the wildlife sightings unpredictable, but the adventure itself is deeply meaningful.

The animals don’t want to eat you—but the bugs might. Arm yourself with some sunscreen and a good insect repellent, but be warned that the most voracious bug of all is the Africa bug. Once bitten, forever addicted. You’ll fall in love with Africa’s charm and you will want to return. Often.

Image © Sean Fandam.


15 Africa Travel Myths Debunked (6-10)

Africa is a soul continent. One can’t quite put a finger on exactly what it is, but somehow Africa’s intoxicating kaleidoscope of dream worthy landscapes, iconic wildlife, intriguing cultures, soulful music and starry nights grab hold of one’s soul. Once you’ve experienced the heart of this ancient land, chances are, you’re incurably hooked.

Yet many who have not yet ventured to this captivating continent still hold the ‘mythconception’ that ‘deep, dark Africa’ is dangerous, dirty and backwards, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The Mother Continent may be mysterious, but she is widely misunderstood. It’s time to set the record straight and bust these 15 myths about travel to Africa.

 

African Safari Travel Facts

 

Myth 6: wild animals roam the streets

 

Surprising that people actually envision this as the norm in Africa, but no, for the most part, the wild animals much prefer their natural habitat to congested urban areas. Of course, wildlife will roam where it pleases and there are always exceptions to the norm.

Outer suburbs and smallholdings can and do see the occasional genet, mongoose and otter, while sightings of small antelope aren’t uncommon in coastal towns. Twitchers and bird-nerds will be pleased to know that Africa’s urban greenbelts boast a profusion of birdlife.

In places like Botswana and Zimbabwe, where many wilderness areas remain unfenced, the occasional hippo or elephant can be spotted in town (for example, elephants do sometimes venture into Victoria Falls to feed on vegetation when the town is quiet).

Although some smaller species have adapted to survival in the city, their numbers are by no means prolific. Sadly, Africa’s wild animals, both big and small, have been severely threatened by human encroachment and loss of natural habitat, therefore Africa’s protected wilderness areas are crucial for the ongoing protection and conservation of wildlife.

While you’re likely to see monkeys, baboons and other opportunistic creatures taking their chances in populated areas (please remember to never feed wild animals, no matter how tame they may seem), if you’re keen to spot the Big FiveLittle FiveElusive Eleven or anything in between, then you’ll need to head out on safari.

 

Family Safaris to Africa

 

Myth 7: Africa is not for children

 

Africa is an enchanting playground for children, not to mention the greatest classroom. A journey to the African continent, to witness its wildlife and engage first-hand with its cultures, is infinitely more educational than any textbook at school.

There are countless award-winning, family-friendly safari lodges, island properties and city escapes for parents to choose from. And when it comes to safari, there are strict safety measures (and childminding services) in place to ensure family safety and enjoyment at all times.

There are age restrictions on safari (typically age 6 and above); however, families can opt for a private vehicle (at an additional cost) to ensure the whole family can go for short ‘bumbles’ together to learn about the habitat and view safe wildlife close to the lodge.

Safaris are not ‘boring’ for children. In most cases, the ranger soon takes on hero status in the children’s eyes and every game drive becomes an invitation to learn and explore.

 

Africa Desert Safaris

 

Myth 8: safaris are the only drawcard

 

Going on safari should be on every wildlife lover’s bucket list. Fact. And there really is no such thing as “too many safaris”. However, the African continent boasts such an incredible diversity of landscapes, that travelers are truly spoiled for choice beyond the safari.

Think tropical islands, glorious beaches, world-class diving, vibrant cities, award-winning wineries, picturesque mountains, dense jungles, thunderous waterfalls, ethereal deserts, and fascinating cultural and historical sites … the list goes on. Africa has ceaseless beauty and adventure for those willing to explore it.

 

Africa Custom Wildlife Safari Experts

 

Myth 9: the animals want to eat you

 

This is perhaps one of the most commonly asked questions from first-time safari goers. No, the animals do not want to eat you. It will soon become apparent on the initial game drive that the wildlife is largely uninterested and unperturbed by the safari vehicle and its two-legged occupants.

Yes, there are insects that bite, snakes that are venomous and predators on the prowl. Africa’s wilderness areas are home to some very dangerous creatures; however, they typically keep their distance so long as humans keep theirs.

Listen to your guide at all times. Expert rangers and trackers are trained intensively to observe and understand animal behavior and to practice sensitive wildlife viewing at all times. The vehicle will be positioned unobtrusively to allow a respectful distance, ensuring guest safety and respect for wildlife at all times.

 

African Adventure Safari Travel Experts

 

Myth 10: women shouldn’t travel alone to Africa

 

Refer back to myth 2 (as well as myth 4 from these common travel myths)—Africa is safer than you think and solo female travel is widely accepted, encouraged and enjoyed across the continent. The key to comfort, security and peace of mind here lies in selecting an established, trusted local operator that will ensure your safety and enjoyment at all times throughout the journey.

Private transfers can be arranged, personal guides can be booked (providing both a social and highly informative element to city escapes, historical sites and cultural community visits) and meals can be shared or enjoyed privately.

Safaris, by nature, are quite social, with up to eight hours a day spent on a safari vehicle with other guests who often become lifelong friends. Small group journeys also offer the perfect mix of socializing and security, along with that soulful and necessary privacy and quiet time.

 


15 Africa Travel Myths Debunked (1-5)

Africa is a soul continent. One can’t quite put a finger on exactly what it is, but somehow Africa’s intoxicating kaleidoscope of dream worthy landscapes, iconic wildlife, intriguing cultures, soulful music and starry nights grab hold of one’s soul. Once you’ve experienced the heart of this ancient land, chances are, you’re incurably hooked.

Yet many who have not yet ventured to this captivating continent still hold the ‘mythconception’ that ‘deep, dark Africa’ is dangerous, dirty and backwards, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The Mother Continent may be mysterious, but she is widely misunderstood. It’s time to set the record straight and bust these 15 myths about travel to Africa.

 

Safari travel to Africa

 

Myth 1: Africa is a country

First, some geography. Africa is not a country, it is a continent. In fact, it is the world’s second largest and second most populated continent and—this may come as a surprise—it is larger than China, India, the (contiguous) United States and most of Europe combined.

At roughly three times the size of the United States, the vast African continent is home to 54 countries, 9 of which are renowned for their world-class safaris. From the timeless, sand-swept dunes of Namibia’s Namib Desert and the tree-dotted plains of Kenya’s mighty Masai Mara, to the lofty peak of Mount Kilimanjaro and the meandering waterways of Botswana’s Okavango Delta, each African country boasts its own unique charms and wildlife encounters.

 

The African Safari Company

 

Myth 2: Africa is dangerous

Deep, dark Africa is a lot safer than you think. Like any destination, travelers should always have their wits about them and be vigilant, as they would anywhere else. That’s just common (travel) sense.

Whether you’re an apprehensive, first-time traveler to Africa or a seasoned Africa addict, planning your itinerary with an experienced travel specialist and travelling with a respected and well-established local operator offers peace of mind, not to mention convenience, security and seamless logistics.

With the right operator, your entire journey from arrival to departure can be organized so that you don’t have to think (or worry) about a thing. You can be warmly welcomed as you step off the plane and escorted through the arrival procedures. You’ll be assisted with your luggage and whisked off to your private transfer. Every last detail will be looked after en route so that you can relax and simply enjoy the ride.

Do remember though, that “this is Africa”. Flights and transfers may operate on “Africa time”, there may be queues and there may be bumps in the road (literally). Arm yourself with a good book, some headphones and a positive attitude. This is Africa and you’ll look back on every part of the adventure fondly.

Africa Wildlife Safari Experts

 

Myth 3: there is a ‘best’ time to go on safari

Contrary to popular belief, there is no ‘best’ time to go on safari. Mother Nature plays by her own rules, and no matter the season, there is always an element of beauty (and surprise).

Bear in mind that no two seasons, no two days and in fact no two game drives are ever the same in terms of the sights, smells, landscapes and wildlife interactions. There are pros and cons to every season, from weather and watering hole frequency, to vegetation and views.

The beauty of going on safari is that Mother Nature is, and always will be, utterly unpredictable. Each season, each day, and indeed each drive have their own unique appeal. Expect the unexpected and don’t let the dates nor the seasons hinder your desire to go on safari.

 

Luxury African Safaris

 

Myth 4: the flood season is the only time to visit the Okavango Delta

There’s no denying the captivating beauty of the maze-like waterways of Botswana’s Okavango Delta. The combination of land and water-based game viewing is what makes this destination so incredibly unique; however, there is more to the Delta than just the floodwaters and last year’s severe drought proved this tenfold.

The Delta’s dry season (typically October to April) is just as spectacular, but in an entirely different way. The iconic floodwaters recede and the channels, swamps and lagoons dry up completely leaving sand, dust and shells in their wake. The once watery wonderland is miraculously converted into a vast, open grassland allowing for some extraordinary wildlife sightings that would otherwise be inaccessible with the waterways intact.

Image © Sean Fandam.

 

Great Migration Safaris

 

Myth 5: the Great Migration can only be seen in July & August

There’s so much more to the Great Migration than just the widely documented Mara/Grumeti River crossings that typically take place from July to September. While these on-the-edge-of-your-seat sightings are as unforgettable as they are nerve-wracking, what many travelers fail to understand is that this migratory trek of hungry herbivores is a year-round occurrence.

The Great Migration never stops. It is a journey as old as time, and each season comes with its own special highlights.


Toka Leya, Victoria Falls Wildlife Safari!

As we come to the end of our Spotlight on Toka Leya campaign, we wanted to share some of the WOW safari wildlife sightings our guides have witnessed during their time at Toka Leya.

 

Victory Falls African Safari Experience

Donald Lisama is the quintessential river guide and the perfect boat captain on your sunset cruise.

 

The Zambezi River has provided a world of excitement and adventure for me for the past 25 years-plus as a river guide. During this time I have seen all manner of both wildlife and people benefit from this mighty source of life. It is a special river that, despite the occasional drought, always rises, to bring you the wonders of a major watercourse. Its rise and fall remains one of the phenomena that leave you breathless in high water season. From spectacular sunsets, beautiful birdlife and wow wildlife, it’s a wonder in its own right.

 

Luxury African Safari Experts

 

I have had many exciting experiences with guests while exploring it, especially while fishing. One time, I remember vividly like it was yesterday, one of my guests caught a tiger fish. The fish kept cutting the line so the guest decided to change out and use a stronger line. As he caught another one, and was reeling it in, the fish managed to break loose from the hook. As the guest pulled the line the hook caught on to a crocodile! We had to cut that line quick, and lose the hook.

 

Honeymoon safaris to Africa

 

Another time a guest caught a large red bellied bream, and as the guests reeled it in a big crocodile snapped onto the fish, cutting it in half and sharing the catch with the guests. A sad yet memorable incident I witnessed was when a huge crocodile caught and disappeared with a baby hippo while we were out on a sunset river cruise. The commotion that followed was something else. Many other hippos suffered from the enraged mother who kept pushing and flailing as she looked for her calf.

 

African Safari Company

 

The crocodile is truly a stealth hunter. One day while cruising leisurely and having sundowners towards the end of our outing, the sun was setting and the river was calm and cool. We had just seen a kudu enter the river quietly without a splash or any noise and start to swim from one island towards another, as they often do. Without warning a huge crocodile appeared next to us and swam as fast as a torpedo and in seconds caught up with the kudu. One bite and down they went like nothing had happened, the beautiful flow of the Zambezi hiding everything that had just happened. For me that’s how this mysterious river runs, day after day.

 

Africa Wildlife Safari Travel Experts

Toka Leya guide Godfrey Mungala shares some of his most exciting experiences while on game drives with guests in Mosi-oa- Tunya National Park.

 

We always see good game in the national park, stopping for drinks at the end of the day, and watching the sun go down over the Zambezi River.

 

Family and kid friendly African safari experiences

 

On one particular day, we parked to enjoy our sundowners and were about to leave when a big herd of about 100 elephants came through and walked past us while we sat in the vehicle. Two big bulls stared at us in the vehicle while the rest of the herd walked by browsing; one even touched the side of the vehicle, a thrilling and humbling moment.

 

ZAmbia Safari Adventure experts

 

Other exciting experiences with my guests include witnessing a python catch and suffocate an impala on a morning drive, as well as seeing a porcupine by the Old Drift in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park.

 

Luxury Safari Packages

Mailos Mbewe started guiding in Zambia’s oldest and largest national park, Kafue, but can now be found exploring the shores of the Zambezi River and the productive Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park outside Livingstone, where Wilderness Safaris Toka Leya Camp is situated.

 

One of the most eye-catching experiences and activities for our guests in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park is the rhino walk. One of the world’s endangered species, rhino conservation and protection in the park has had its challenges, but is otherwise a success. I was fortunate on one of these walks to witness two rhino mating, an amazing experience, especially for my guests.

 

African Safari Curators

 

That same day, the morning had started with a very special sighting of a huge bull elephant swimming across the mighty Zambezi River. We had been on a sunrise boat cruise, so ending the day with rhinos mating seemed a blessing from the gods of nature.

 

African Safari Travel and Tour Specialists

 

Despite the excitement of witnessing these rare and special scenes, I have also witnessed rather sad but natural experiences, which are vital for the balance of nature, and also important for a balanced ecosystem. I witnessed an impala give birth and only moments later a troop of baboons come and snatched and ate the new born lamb. Sad as it was, it is simply the cycle of life in the wilderness.

 

Wilderness Blogger