Any safari viewing experience be it by vehicle, on foot, by boat Canoe or Makoro or in a Balloon is a wonderful way to view and experience wildlife, but there can be few experiences to match the natural and secretive experience that one has when sitting in a specialised hide, near a waterhole or overlooking one. The close proximity to whatever turns up at the waterhole is extraordinary and for the majority of cases it is quite some feeling knowing that the animals do not know that you are there. Ultimately that is how we want to interact with Africas wildlife. To be there without affecting their normal behaviour. It is simply an extraordinary experience!
Surprisingly there are not that many places that do these specialist hides. Zimbabwe and Zambia have the most number of them and have done this kind of safari for a very long time and are specialists at combining hide safaris with walking or vehicle safaris. Botswana has a few camps that have hides, as do Tanzania and Kenya, but you can count them on one hand. For the ultimate combination of walking vehicle and hide based experiences it is a Zimbabwe safari or a Zambia safari that you should be looking at for your trip.
It goes without saying that a hide safari delivers high quality photographic opportunities, being so close to the species of animal and bird that visit one can get a quite incredible shots. Bean bags, tripods and monopods can all be used in the hide and help to capture crystal clear images of course. A hide safari experience possibly isn't for everyone given the close proximity to Big and dangerous game species such as elephant and Lion especially if it is a log pile hide where you literally only have large tree trunks and branches surrounding you and being a barrier between yourself and whatever is around you. You are safe for sure but your heart may beat somewhat faster and you will feel incredibly small and insignificant.
It is vital that we understand who you are, your previous safari Africa experience or general adventure travel experience whilst planning the trip with you so a phone call or face to face meet should occur at some point so that we can just be sure you'll fully enjoy it and have your expectation managed. Please do get in touch!
A Botswana Safari is considered by many to be Africa's finest offering on the continent in terms of raw, unadulterated wilderness and most exhilarating experiences.
Clyde is your Botswana safari expert having spent many years working as a professional guide and also more recently countless visits to keep up to date with what is offered at the various lodges and camps across the country. If you would like honest advice contact Clyde or call him on +44 780972 6266 or email him on [email protected].
Whilst most of the country is swallowed up by the massive Kalahari Desert, the northern parts are crisscrossed by a rich network of beautiful waterways which makes for fantastic contrasts of different and varied safari adventures. The region is most famous for three things. First, its massive private concessions within safari areas where you will share your safari with very few other people. Secondly, a great variety of activities including, day and night game drives, walking safaris, boating and Makoro safaris. Finally the incredible concentration and diversity of wildlife.
There are six main areas of interest in Botswana where safari of the highest order takes place. The Okavango Delta is the primary focus of every Botswana Safari with its unique myriad of habitats, wildlife and birdlife. The Linyanti Reserve just a little north of the Okavango Delta, partly connected by the Selinda Spillway, where the larger herds of Elephant and Buffalo can be found along with extraordinary numbers of predator species and sightings. To the east of these Botswana Safari areas are the much-lauded Chobe National Park and Savute famous for insane numbers of Elephant and excellent dry season general game viewing both on land and along the Chobe River. Further south we have the Makgadikgadi which is made up of large expansive grassland plains and seasonal migrating herds of Zebra and Wildebeest.
Epic Landscapes complimented by very cool activities such as San Bushmen cultural experiences, Quad Biking over the baron salt pans and spending time with wild "too cool for school" Meerkats. Finally, we have the Central Kalahari. A region that is virtually the polar opposite of normal Botswana Safari Landscapes, being incredibly dry with little natural permanent water present. This sensational national Park provides the ultimate contrast and foil to the rich waterways of the Okavango Delta, Linyanti and Chobe National Park and affords the chance to see some unique wildlife and birdlife in a completely immersive ecosystem. Black Maned Lion, Brown Hyena, Caracal, African wildcat Bat Eared Fox, Pangolin and Honeybadgers, whilst not exactly commonplace, are much more readily spotted and available to you here.
We love Botswana for its all-out dedication to conserving and protecting its natural resources. Nowhere else in Africa will you see wildlife on top of the agenda as it is here. The original driving force behind their economy – diamonds - is set to dry up around 2026. In light of this, the government has taken the decision to truly focus on tourism as one of their main income spinners.
Although Botswana can be quite pricey in comparison to the rest of safari Africa you will be rewarded with access to massive wilderness areas that you will share with very few other people. There are ways of getting around these exceptionally high prices and many of our clients will choose to travel in the “shoulder season” in April-June and again in November.
The concentrations of wildlife are simply staggering in the dry season but the viewing remains fantastic throughout the year, so don’t write it off in the wet season! The habitats here are some of the most pristine anywhere on the planet. You simply have to experience places like this whilst they are still around for us to enjoy.
Located in the remote far eastern corner of Botswana where the Limpopo and Shashe rivers meet, Mashatu Game Reserve lies in a vast landscape of open plains, grassland, riverine forests, rocky hills, marshland and majestic sandstone ridges. The reserve comprises 29,000 hectares (72,000 acres) of privately owned land in the conserved wilderness area known as the Northern Tuli Game Reserve and is where Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa meet.
Mashatu, translated as "Land of Giants”, takes its name from the locally-sacrosanct Mashatu or Nyala berry tree (Xanthrocercis Zambesiaca). These magnificent dark green trees, which are found along the rivers in the reserve, provide refuge, shade and food to a vast array of wildlife. Mashatu, which is one of the largest privately owned game reserves in southern Africa, is home to one of the largest herds of elephant on the continent and provides excellent sitings of Africa's big seven giants including the giraffe, eland, ostrich, the kori bustard, the iconic baobab tree and the king of beasts: the lion.
The Mashatu Game Reserve enjoys ecological biodiversity uncommon in other game reserves due to the diversity of the landscapes. Three members of the Big Five : leopard, lion and elephant are complimented by some lesser well-known, species, including the aardwolf (or “earth wolf”), the bat-eared fox, the African wildcat, the honey badger, the spotted hyena and the black-backed jackal. Mashatu is also home to more than 350 bird species, ensuring it is an alluring spot for those interested in bird life and bird photography.
Zimbabwe, in our humble opinion, is Africa's finest safari country. It boasts extraordinary and diverse habitats, ecosystems, wildlife and birdlife along with the continents best professional safari guides. The country also has an approach to safari tourism that others try to emulate and fall short more often than not.
Zimbabwe is back to her best and we are all very excited to share her with you!
Widely regarded for many years prior to 2000 as the ultimate safari destination, Zimbabwe’s tourism recovery over the past 7 or so years has been incredible. The tourism industry as a whole and the countries national parks and wilderness areas remain one of the most well organised and managed in all of Africa is a testament to the passion and commitment shown by all operators and stakeholders who stuck out the hard times.
The Iconic Victoria Falls and the nearby behemoth of a safari park, Hwange National Park , attract most of the tourists to the country and have done so for many years due to their safe proximity to multiple border points. For the initiated among safari travellers, there is so much more to Zimbabwe and some gems that will blow you away.
Mana Pools National Park in the north and Gonarezhou National Park in the south-east are perhaps two of the wildest and most untouched safari areas on the continent. Mana Pools is undoubtedly our favourite and the contender for Africa's best national park.
Enjoy the breathtaking beauty of Lake Kariba and Matusadona National Park , on an exquisite and exciting houseboat safari option atop this watery wilderness. Matobo Hills in the south completes the set and is home to a number of the majestic yet endangered Black and White Rhino.
The cost of a safari here is incredibly low considering the experiences on offer. In fact, many travellers are converted to Zimbabwe’s charms when they compare it to the higher cost of safari in Botswana. The two countries are in essence able to offer a very similar experience.
Whilst the camps are not necessarily the most luxurious you will find, they are generally of a very high quality and retain a real air of authenticity and sense of safari identity. The spectacular Victoria Falls adds an extra dimension and makes a fitting beginning or end to any safari in the country.
Wildlife numbers and the concentration of animals can be truly staggering between the dry season months of May – November. Elephant, in particular, can number in the hundreds at any one time and are some of the most impressive we have seen anywhere. It is also worth mentioning that Hwange National Park supports the largest diversity of mammals in Africa.
In the rainy season months of December - April the herds tend to scatter somewhat but game viewing can still be very rewarding and the cost of safari drops even further.
It is the high quality of safari experience, authentic in its best form, and the highest possible standard of safari guiding that is most likely to strike you here though. Zimbabwean guides undergo a very thorough and extensive apprenticeship in order to obtain their professional licences. This process often takes between 4-6 years to complete and results in some of the best guiding skills you will find anywhere. They truly set the gold standard against which all others are measured.
One of our founders, Clyde , is himself a Zimbabwean professional guide and we can speak first-hand for his complete dedication to the task of keeping others happy and enthralled on safari!
Zambia is often referred to as the connoisseur’s safari destination. It is one of few places where you can still experience the Africa of old and much of it has remained pleasantly undeveloped. Due to the very adventurous and immersive nature of safari here, the country is generally suited to more outdoorsy travellers who may have been on a few safaris already. Having said this, the healthy dose of big game and flagship species will satisfy even those on their first safari.
Zambia has become synonymous with walking safaris, especially in South and North Luangwa National Parks. Here the good visibility and concentrations of animals near the river mean that close encounters with lion, elephant, hippo and crocodile are almost guaranteed. Night drives in South Luangwa in search of the smaller nocturnal creatures are particularly successful and the density of leopards here is higher than anywhere else in the world.
Many will combine their time here with a few days in the spectacular Lower Zambezi. The boating and canoeing safaris here add a refreshing aquatic contrast to the dry activities. You could even try your hand at catching the ferocious tigerfish. Ask many safari experts around the world where they would choose to go on safari tomorrow and most of them would choose this park without a doubt.
Few travellers find their way to the North Luangwa or the remote Kafue region to the west, though for us at Tailormade Africa we would consider them to be absolute hidden gems. Many more will begin or end their journey at the alluring Victoria Falls. This massive sheet of falling water is the largest on the planet and is one the the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Many areas become inaccessible during the rains, so game viewing is at its best in the dry season between May – November. The latter months are known for their very high temperatures so many will aim to avoid them. In the wet season the bush becomes wonderfully lush and alive with baby animals and colourful migratory birds so it can be a worthwhile time to visit considering the lower cost of safari.
Due to its arid nature, Namibia is one of the most sparsely populated countries on earth. The feelings of sheer space and freedom that can be felt here are unlike anything else you may have experienced before. This comes with an understanding that a safari to Namibia is mostly about spectacular desert scenery and wide open landscapes. The exception being in the spectacular Etosha Pan National Park where the wildlife sightings can be relatively few and far between but they are made that much more special by their infrequency and the backdrops which they are seen against. We therefore do not usually recommend Namibia for a first time safari, unless it is combined with Botswana or South Africa.
Self-driving safaris or guided vehicle safaris are very popular as the road network is in good condition and this form of travel can be one of the most affordable ways to experience safari in Africa. Unfortunately, this involves long distances on the road and will only afford you the chance to experience the more accessible parts of the country. Having said this, the massive and majestic dunes of Sossusvlei are not to be ignored and neither is Etosha Pan. Although some may question the authenticity of safari here, it will certainly provide a heavy dose of large animal sightings with relative ease. The Atlantic Ocean provides a welcome relief from the desert at Swakopmund and Walvis Bay, where the marine wildlife is especially rich.
In order to reach the most remote and truly special parts of Namibia though, you will need to fly. The distances involved are again immense and this can amount to three times the cost of a driving safari. It is well worth it in our opinion though, as these flights are the most spectacular you are likely to experience anywhere. You will be rewarded with almost unshared access to the untouched Skeleton Coast and Kunene regions. This wilderness is also home to the fascinating Himba and Herero tribes who still maintain their traditional way of life.