Why southern Africa makes for ideal safaris
You've always wanted to go on safari and spend time in the bush, amidst nature and wildlife? But, you don’t know what to expect or which destination to choose because there are too many tempting offers? Let us resolve some of your uncertainties of what to expect when departing into the wilderness. Destination-wise, southern Africa makes for excellent safaris! Zimbabwe and Botswana assure you remote wilderness and safaris off-the-beaten-track. Unlike some other countries in Africa, you do not have to stand in a queue of safari vehicles to get a glimpse at wildlife. Both, Zimbabwe and Botswana have incredible safari accommodation for all price ranges. The service in the camps is professional and personal and the atmosphere is cozy and familiar – providing a home away from home.
Getting to the South African bush
The best way to get to the remote places and authentic bush camps is by a small charter plane. Many of the safari accommodations are accessible by car as well. However, as most of the roads are dirt or even sand roads, it is not advisable for safari beginners to self-drive in the bush. Leaving aside the fact that on these roads, even short distances take time and effort to cover, you wouldn’t want to spend half of your safari holiday trying to get to your accommodation (we assume). Rather, go by one of the charter bush planes and enjoy the aerial view across the stunning landscapes of southern Africa. You might even spot your first wildlife as you fly into the wilderness. Don’t forget to take pictures on this incredible opportunity.
As you approach your destination, you will see the tiny airstrip and a safari vehicle – the latter being your guide from the camp already waiting for you and the other guests. No matter how impossible it seems, your pilot will safely land on this almost invisible runway. If there is wildlife feeding or having its siesta on the landing strip, you will have to do an extra loop, until the guide has cleared the airstrip.
After landing, your pilot hands you over to your safari guide from the camp. He safely stores your luggage in the vehicle and takes you to your hideaway.Watch out for wildlife on your way to the camp. Enjoy your first game drive: you might spot elephant, giraffe, zebra and antelope. Depending on the time of the day and the area, you may even spot some big cats. Your guide certainly gives you a first insight into the life in the bush.
As you reach your camp, you are warmly welcomed by the staff. While your luggage is taken to your room, you are lead to the main tent. The camp manager gives you a brief safety talk, which is very important. Be aware that you are most likey in a non-fenced wildlife area and animals can roam freely. Even if there are fences around the camp of your choice, they are rather meant to keep the guests inside than to keep the wildlife outside.
Having a fence should be no cause for concern. Wildlife usually stays out of the camps as long as there are people around. During day you can move to and fro as you like – as long as you stick to the pathways. Before dawn and after dark your guide will accompany you for safety reasons.
Make yourself at home in your private little hideaway! Your tent is equipped with comfortable beds and – depending on the accommodation you chose – with en-suite bathroom, bucket shower or indoor and outdoor shower, bathtub and maybe even your private plunge pool. Either way, the vistas of the remote accommodation are ever-fascinating!
The main tent provides a dining area, where your breakfast, lunch, high tea and dinner are served. The lounge invites you to relax, enjoy a cool drink, read a safari book, or to simply lose yourself gazing at the magnificent landscape: be it plains, savannahs, a lagoon, a river or bush. The viewing platform is an even better option to watch the happenings of the surrounding areas. Some camps also provide a pool – go for a swim and cool down on a hot African summer day.
Activities on safari
More exciting than the truly amazing safari camps are the activities offered. Explore the bush and its wildlife by car, by boat, by mokoro (a traditional dug-out canoe) or even on foot. Our tip: do as many activities as offered to gain insight into the African wilderness from as many perspectives and angles as possible!
Go on a game drive
In an open 4x4 vehicle, make your way through national parks and private concessions while watching out for animals. Go at a slow pace to increase the chance of spotting wildlife. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy genuine Africa. Your guide stops whenever there is anything exciting to see or if you ask him to. Take pictures, ask questions – he will happily share his immense knowledge with you.
Discover the waterways
In a motor or a pontoon boat, cruise along mystical channels and river slopes. Spot game coming to the riverside for a drink, see hippos sunbathing on the sand banks or grunting and snorting while enjoying a bath. Even watch elephants swim rivers.
Do it the traditional way
Mokoro excursions are a unique, traditional way to dig even deeper into pure nature. In the dug-out canoe silently float downstream, your paddler steering to keep track. You are on an eye-to-eye level with fauna and flora without disturbing it – an incredible way to observe the ins and outs of daily bush life.
Gor for a walk
Like the explorers of old days: a walking safari is probably the oldest and most exciting way for foreigners to discover the wilderness. Put on your safari gear (including a hat and sun blocker to protect you from the African sun!) and off you go. Wait, no. You have to follow your guide! There is one guide taking the lead, with a riffle in hand for security reasons. Then all guests follow in single file. Another guide comes in last. This way you march across plains and savannahs into the wind. This is important so that the wild animals do not pick up your scent and see you before you spot them. You surely want to watch them rather than scaring them off! However, don’t worry if you do not spot big animals – your guide teaches you fascinating details about fauna and flora while you wander through the bush.
On a cultural village tour, learn about the villagers and their lives in the African bush. On bird-viewing tours, tree and nature walks as well as stargazing trips get an introduction on birds, trees and/or stars.
Unwind at the end of the day
Enjoy your sundowner and recall your wonderful sightings and happenings of the day.
Whichever way you choose to encounter the bush, amazing impressions will be countless and memories unforgettable!!