Safari is not all about game drives! As amazing as they can be, there are some incredible ways to experience the bush that will add to your safari experience. If you have been on safari before, you will know how addictive it is – so here are nine other ways to build on your safari to make it extraordinary!
1. Horse riding
A horse riding safari is an incredible opportunity to experience nature and a very unique way of exploring Africa's stunning landscape and wildlife! From some lodges in Africa, you can ride in the wild even if you are a complete novice. The more seasoned rider can choose from further options, including a longer ride, lasting anything from 6 hours, and even a week’s riding safari! There is nothing quite as special as riding alongside an elegant giraffe or, for experienced riders, carefully walking with an elephant.
Far away from any light pollution, the stargazing in Africa is phenomenal! While you lie back and just focus on absorbing all the sounds and calls of the animals and birds, your guide will take you on an astrological journey through the universe. Watch out for shooting stars… and don’t forget to make a wish! Fly camping takes stargazing to a whole new level - offering a superb opportunity to sleep under the Milky Way.
3. Camel safari
A camel safari is almost like being on horseback, but you have a slightly more elevated view and the ride is a bit quieter thanks to the extra padding in camels’ feet. Namibia, Tanzania and Kenya all offer camel safaris, as an additional activity or solely as your mode of transport on a mobile safari. Kenya is by far the best place to do this! There is obviously no experience necessary, as the guides will teach you everything you need to know. For a specialist walking safari with camels, the Karisia Walking Safaris is definitely the way to go - the accommodation ranges from AirBnC (Air Bed and Camel) to classic-style tents and focuses on the wildlife-rich Laikipia region in Kenya.
Canoeing can be done as a single activity or as part of a trail where you canoe between campsites for 3–7 days. Among the more popular canoe trails are the 4-day Selinda Canoe Trail in Botswana and the 3-day Mana Canoe Trail. The Lower Zambezi is one of the best places if you just want to do canoeing as an afternoon activity, as it boasts beautiful channels that will take you 2–3 hours. You can expect to see an array of birdlife, as well as larger animals like hippos and elephants.
5. Balloon Safari
Kenya, Tanzania and Namibia are the best countries to do a balloon safari. The views are spectacular and the chance of seeing wildlife from the air makes for a very different and exciting experience!
Zimbabwe has some of the best hides in Africa and the large elephant population that is reliant on the pumped waterholes makes this an incredible experience. There is nothing quite like being at arm’s length from a herd of elephants simply going about their routine, drinking and splashing in the waterhole. I could spend hours with a book, just waiting to see what comes down to the hide to drink! There are also some hides in Botswana and Zambia – so if this is on your list of things to do, check with your safari specialist whether the lodges you are going to stay at offer this activity.
The South Luangwa in Zambia, Mana Pools and Hwange in Zimbabwe, and Ruaha in Southern Tanzania are the best locations to do walking in Africa. Seeing wildlife on foot gives you a completely different game-viewing experience! You may not get as close to the animals as you would in a vehicle, but you have a much more personal experience with them. Botswana and South Africa offer shorter bush walks, focusing on all the smaller things that you tend to miss when you are on a game-drive vehicle – these usually last an hour or so, whereas the areas I mentioned first will do long walks of 3–6 hours. You can even do a walking trails safari, which consists of walking between camps.
Africa plays host to some of the most fearsome freshwater fish species in the world! Probably the most sought after of these is the tigerfish – a type of giant African piranha with brilliant silver scales, black stripes and fiery orange fins. These monsters can easily reach in excess of 20lb and can be targeted with fly, lure or bait. The waterways of Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana offer your best chance of coming face to face with this formidable quarry. The coasts of Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique also offer some of the most productive saltwater fishing in the world! Commonly targeted species include marlin, sailfish, giant trevally and dolphinfish.
This unique activity is not something openly offered as part of the standard safari programme, so you may have to try to convince your guide to take you on a late-night foray. All you will need is a couple of head torches, a sizeable bucket – and no qualms about getting slimy hands! Summer is the best time to head out, as this is when the frogs are most active. Find a suitable small pan, make sure there are no crocodiles or hippos around – and jump in! At the end of the night, you head back to your bucket and see how many different species you can identify, before releasing the amphibians back into the water.
If you’d like more information on planning a safari, feel free to call us on +44 (0)20 8547 2305 or send us an email at [email protected].