There are few experiences in the world that can prepare you for a proper walking safari in Africa with a professional guide. It is a life highlight, let alone the highlight of your safari holiday adventure and something that will live you for some time. It is exhilarating, slightly unnerving, heart pounding and quite wonderful to walk through the African bush, with Giraffe, Zebra, Elephant and various other animals as your nearby companions. Whilst you are able to walk in most African countries in one safari area or another there are only a few places in reality that offer up a true walking safari. This being a big game walking safari with a licensed professional and armed safari guide, tracking finding and approach the big game species of Elephant, Buffalo, Lion, Rhino, Leopard and Wild Dog. The importance of the skill of your guide here can't be understated and few countries have the examination processes in place to be able to offer these extraordinary experiences.
There is something still so carnal about having the Africa soil beneath your feet, tracking the spoor of an Elephant, using the wind direction to disguise the scent of the planet's apex predator ( us), and knowing that any minute you can happen upon whatever it is you are tracking. Approaching an Elephant and standing within 10-15 metres of these majestic giants is something else. Humbling to say the least to feel so small and insignificant. Tracking fresh Lion footprints will have your heart racing at 100 miles an hour. Should you be lucky enough to successfully catch up to them and see them for however long, that natural high that comes with it is incredible. It literally feels like you are floating around the bush afterwards. Once you do a walking safari at this level it is highly addictive and you'll want to do more and more.
Zimbabwe and Zambia are the two best walking safari countries in Africa and are so because of their guiding standards and examinations. There are a few camps and lodges in both Tanzania and Kenya where one might also be able to take these real walking safari's, Namely Kichaka Expeditions in Ruaha National Park, Tanzania along with Jabali Ridge and Kwihala Camps. In the Serengeti, Alex Walkers sets of camps that follow the Wildebeest migration also have great walking safaris. In Kenya, there are a few more options, to be honest, as they have a pretty decent licensing setup. Botswana has some walking guides but generally speaking, it is not something that is often taken up. South Africa is a little hit and miss, but the majority of the big names of camps, the higher end ones, do have some great guides.
It has to be said too that not all walking safaris end in an exciting experience, and this is where the quality of your guide also kicks in. Having the knowledge to be able to bring to life everything that you will miss when in a vehicle. Insects, Snakes, trees, grasses, tracks, poop, birds etc make up the majority of your learning on all walks always with the hope of "bumping" into something exciting. Most of the time a walking safari is not an exertive exercise and done as an activity from a camp for a few hours is the most common form of walking safaris. However, there are specialist walking camps that focus predominantly on the activity or even walk between camps for the ultimate experience. In Zimbabwe, the most notable of a very long list of great walking safari camps would be all the camps in Mana Pools, with Chitake Springs being the most visceral and raw experience. In Hwange National Park, you have Kazuma Trails, Hwange Bushcamp for the most heavily focussed walking safari's but to be frank all the camps have extraordinary guides to make walking safari's from anywhere in Hwange great.
If you are fit and able to walk for a few hours as a safari activity then we at Tailormade Africa wholeheartedly recommend you do at least one walking safari. Which camps you should go to really does depend a lot on your holiday personality and previous travel experience either in Africa or the rest of the world so please do get in touch for a conversation and a getting to know you chat.
• A beautiful location in the western Okavango Delta
• 150,000 acres of private traversing and off-roading rights
• Game drives, night drives, walking and boating safaris as well as makoros and fishing
• Offering the quintessential Okavango Delta wetland experience
• Huge populations of hippos, crocodiles and red lechwe
If there is one area which particularly captures and embodies what the Okavango Delta is all about, then it must surely be the Jao Concession. The Jao Flats in the east are a wetland paradise, consisting of shallow swamps and extensive floodplains teeming with herds of red lechwe and other herbivores, followed by their predators, lion and leopard. Good numbers of hippo and crocodile make the deeper channels their home. During the floods there is water as far as the eye can see and makoros or boats become the main mode of transport.
Further to the west, a large sand tongue culminates in the form of Hunda Island. Having access to more dry land means that the game viewing here is more reliable throughout the year. Larger herds of zebra, wildebeest and impala are to be found here and this means that hyena and leopard viewing is particularly impressive.
The concession is home to six different camps, but as they are small and spread out over such a large area, the density of other guests is still very low. The full suite of safari activities is offered here and you will have a choice between game drives, night drives, walking safaris, makoros, boating and even fishing. The water levels very enormously depending on the season and this will have a large bearing on your mode of exploration.
The Moremi Central National Park is a vast landmass at around 198,000 hectares running through the centre of the Okavango Delta that is home to some of the most amazing wildlife sightings and experiences in Africa. The park has 2 distinct regions. The Mopane Tongue which is generally a very busy sector of visitors given its ease of access and Chiefs Island, far from the reaches of the general public accessible only by light aircraft.
For this giant area there are just 4 camps, all of which are quite special and offer very different experiences. The extremely famous Mombo and Little Mombo which are the 2 flagship camps of this area, the all luxury pampering Chiefs Camp and the more understated but beautiful Xigera.
It is the wildlife viewing that commands such respect and fervor to clamber over one another to stay at these camps, mostly true with the Mombo camps. Lion and Leopard and just about common place with good herds of Elephant and buffalo and a dizzying array of woodland and pains game to back up this wonderful card of wildlife. Cheifs camp and Xigera are the only two camps that offer wet and dry safari, with the Mombo camps only offering vehicle safaris.
Another great allure of this region is how few people there are here. In fact other than the few other visitors from camp you will not see another soul whilst out on safari.
This massive region lies just north of the Okavango Delta and consists of 3 enormous private concessions – the Kwando, Selinda and Linyanti concession itself. The area is famous for the massive herds of elephants and buffalo which roam through here on their path between Botswana and Namibia. The concentration of predators is also exceptionally high and interactions between lions, leopards and hyenas are fairly commonplace. Perhaps the most special sighting to be had here though is that of the African Wild Dog. As this is Africa’s second most endangered carnivore, many people come here in search of this species alone.
We truly believe that this area competes with the Okavango Delta in terms of game viewing and at some times of the year even surpasses it! It is a place which has really captured our hearts. Few of the camps here are affordable but the high price tag will reward you with one of Africa’s most exciting and exclusive safaris. The one downside to the Linyanti is that it is dominated by mopane woodlands. In the wet season, these low bushes flush with fresh green leaves and this can make visibility a little more challenging from January to April.
The first concession to mention is Kwando, which is the largest in the area, measuring an impressive 550,000 acres. Only two camps share this enormous tract of land – Lagoon and Lebala, both operated by Kwando Safaris. These camps are certainly very comfortable but this company focusses on the safari experience itself above luxury. There is very little in it but we slightly prefer the style of Lebala, whilst Lagoon offers more varied activities.
Next is the Selinda concession, coming in at 320,000 acres. It is home to three main camps owned and operated by Derek and Beverly Joubert – world renowned National Geographic filmmakers. Under the Great Plains Conservation banner you will find Selinda Explorers (one of the most authentic camps around), Selinda Camp (a more classic style of safari) and Zarafa (which easily competes for the best camp in Botswana). Much further south Motswiri offers a great value for this area, where horse riders and more adventurous guests will feel right at home.
The Linyanti concession itself is operated by Wilderness Safaris, who have built a great reputation for themselves as one of Botswana’s leading safari companies. Kings Pool sits at the throne as the most luxurious premier camp, whilst Duma Tau and Savute camp are set at a more classic level. We love DumaTau in particular for its modern and dynamic design. There is just a very special atmosphere to be experienced here.
It is also worth mentioning an area which is actually part of the Chobe Forest Reserve but lies on the Linyanti River and has been partitioned off for the exclusive use of African Bush Camps. The Linyanti Bush and Ebony Camps here can also offer fantastic game viewing in the dry season and come in at a much lower price than the other camps in this area.
The mere mention of the name Kalahari conjures up images of romance and adventure. It is derived from the word “Kgalagadi” which means “The Great Thirst” or “Waterless Place”. The Central Kalahari Reserve itself lies right in the middle of the country and is Botswana’s largest national park. The desert habitats here and the species which they attract are very different to the rest of the country’s main safari areas so it can make for a wonderful contrast on longer trips.
There is no surface water here besides a few pans which fill up for a few days during the wet season. At this time (December – April) this desolate place suddenly flushes with green growth and gives rise to a temporary abundance of life. The fossil riverbeds, remnants of those which flowed through here thousands of years ago, attract large numbers of desert antelope and their predators.
During the rest of the year (May – November) this is a stark and barren place, where the local inhabitants eke out a harsh existence. At this time the game viewing can be challenging, especially considering the absence of elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo. Experienced safari aficionados, however, will appreciate the sheer desolation, the stark landscapes and the lack of other people.
This vast wilderness, with only two permanent camps, offers one of the lower visitor densities anywhere. Tau Pan and Kalahari Plains are of a very similar standard and which one you choose will depend largely on the other camps in your itinerary. The safari here is focused mainly on game drives during the day with the odd Bushman walk. No night drives, off-road driving or walking safaris are allowed so your safari activities are fairly restricted. There are a handful of other properties just outside the national park which offer more flexibility and they will also make forays into the park itself. These are generally of a lower standard but the stand out is definitely Deception Valley Lodge.
Many years ago when safari was a true pioneering venture of either the brave or the misguided, adventurers would explore Africa’s wilderness areas in mobile safari camps that moved every 3 or 4 days taking in as much as possible and being as close to nature as one could possibly get. Whilst things have moved on a bit since those glorious days to large luxury camps and permanent lodges, it is still possible to venture back in time and experience that quintessential truly authentic and adventurous safari with some of Africa’s top professional safari guides.
One of our directors is himself an ex-professional guide who feels very passionately about challenging guests to do safari by this medium and we enormously proud to support many of the remaining high quality mobile safari operators.
The magic of these mobile safaris is difficult to put into words. But, being in a small camp environment with its right in the heart of the bush feel, all the sights, sounds and smells are a hugely pleasant assault on your senses and take you back to a time when man and nature were at peace with each other and we belonged out in the wild. We believe, as we are all descendants from our African Mother all those centuries ago, that these mobile safaris more than any other form of Africa travel make most visitors feel as though they have returned home.
The safari days themselves run similarly to a more modern take on safari with a long morning activity followed by siesta and an afternoon/evening activity, however it is the flexibility that the guides who run these mobile safaris bring to the table that means anything is possible. That is the freedom mobile safaris offer.
In Botswana we feel that there are 4 or 5 top class operations that we would happily promote and proactively recommend to would-be adventurers. They all have their own variations of set departure and totally tailor made private trips which you can read about under each one’s portfolio below.
Mobile safaris of this nature are not for everyone and it is important that you have open and honest discussions with Tailormade Africa so that we may get to know you and help you ascertain whether or not you have the safari personality and sense of adventure to fully appreciate and enjoy this remarkable form of Africa safari.
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.
Volcanoes National Park lies along the Virunga Mountains, with 8 ancient volcanoes, which are shared by Rwanda , Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Just a short two-hour drive from Rwanda's capital of Kigali, the park is a central location for exploring one of most amazing and in some cases life-changing experiences you can ever have - Mountain Gorilla trekking . At 160 kms² the Volcanoes National Park is part of a 433km² trans-frontier conservation unit that also includes the Virunga National Park and Mgahinga National Park, which protect the DRC and Ugandan sectors of the Virungas respectively.
Ranging in altitude from 2,400m to 4,507m, the Volcanoes National Park is best known to the outside world as the place for almost 20 years, where American primatologist Dian Fossey undertook her pioneering studies of Mountain Gorilla behaviour. After her tragic death, the film 'Gorillas in the Mist' drew worldwide attention to the plight of the Mountain Gorilla and Gorilla Tourism as a whole.
Gorilla Trekking remains the most popular activity in the country and is a sensational and moving experience to get up close to these amazing creatures, of which there are only around 880 on the planet. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event that should be on everyone’s ‘bucket list’. There are at present 10 habituated gorilla groups for visitors to see and one set aside for research from which the Kwita Izina baby gorilla naming ceremony is selected. This means a number of 80 gorilla permits are available each day for tourists going watch gorillas on a single day. Gorilla Permits are priced at US$1500 per person and we recommend booking 3 to 6 months in advance, especially during Rwanda's high season of June - September.
The park itself has some fantastic accommodation on offer to add to your Rwanda safari. Most are mid-high end including Virunga Lodge , Sabyinyo Lodge and the new Bisate Lodge , but there are also several mid-range options too, including Mountain Gorilla View Lodge . Most people will spend 2-3 nights in the area and include one or two Gorilla treks, along on with seeing the Golden Monkeys and various other activities on offer in the area, before moving on to another national park like Akagera or Nyungwe to continue your Rwanda safari, or head to simply relax around Lake Kivu .
Near the park, the bustling and vibrant markets of Musanze are a place to immerse yourself in everyday Rwandan culture or visit just inside the park Iby'Iwacu Cultural Village. Here you can expect to be greeted by thunderous drumming, joyful dancing, and the kind of hospitality that has permeated Rwandan society for centuries. You can also go deep into the earth with Musanze's caves - one of the area's newest attractions, offering easy hiking and brilliant views of cascading lights from the surface, a colony of bats and unique rock formations. Also, visit Buhanga EcoPark - a small and serene forest packs in a great deal of biological and cultural significance. Various trails cross through towering trees home to a variety of bird and butterfly species, and the location is built on an ancient sacred site that was used for coronation rituals of Rwandan kings. Fascinating experiences all adding to your Rwanda safari .
To reach Volcanoes National Park it is around a 2.5 - 3 hours drive from the capital Kigali , which is a distance of just over 100kms.
Mountain Gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) which inhabit the slopes of the Virunga volcanoes are a subspecies of the Eastern Gorilla, the largest living primate on earth. They are massive - with a short and thick trunk, broad chest and shoulders, longer arms than the stubby legs, their eyes and ears dwarfed by the large head, a flat nose and large nostrils and a shiny black muzzle. Their fur is mainly black, but adult males have a silvery "saddle" on their back thus the name Silverbacks. The face, hands, feet and breast are bald. A fully grown male can be twice as large as a female and weigh up to 220 kg. The tallest silverback recorded was 1.94m and the heaviest, a 1.83m silverback, weighed about 266 kg.
Numbering only about 780 individuals worldwide, this amazingly large hominid is now listed on the IUCN Red List of critically endangered species due to habitat loss, poaching, disease and war. Mountain Gorillas not only share 95% of their genes with but are possessed of an uncanny physical and social resemblance to, humans. For this and other similarities, these gentle giants invoke a deep mystery, wonder and curiosity in humans – coming face to face with a Gorilla family in the wild is therefore emotional, mind-boggling and often extremely confusing. It makes us think deeply about ourselves. Trackers to one of the habituated families will be delighted to know their visit contributes to the preservation of these very special creatures.
After an early breakfast, drive to the Volcanoes National Park to be allocated a gorilla tracking group. At 0700 hrs there will be a briefing by your trackers then drive to the trailhead for the start of an amazing adventure.
The exhilarating trek, in the footsteps of the rare and critically endangered Mountain Gorillas, the largest living primate on earth, starts in the cultivated foothills of the Virungas with stirring views in all directions. Upon entering the national park, her paths littered with fresh spoor of the mountains’ elusive buffalo and elephant, trekkers will be immersed in the mysterious intimacy of the rainforest, alive with colourful bird calls, butterflies, etc. Through gaps in the canopy, the magnificent Virunga peaks, among the highest in Africa yet easily accessible, are glimpsed, beckoning an ascent. Weaving through overhanging vines, moss-covered hagenia and giant lobelias that thrive in the tropical climate, our experienced trackers, they spent their entire lives in or close to this forest, bring you up close with the family. Upon sighting the gorillas, you will stay with them for a magical hour as they go about their daily life, feeding, playing, resting; raising their young. Coming face to face with a giant silverback must truly be one of the greatest wildlife experiences on earth!
After an early breakfast, drive to the Volcanoes National Park HQs where you will be allocated a Golden Monkeys tracking group. At 0700 hrs the briefing by your trackers will begin and then drive to the trailhead for the tracking.
The very beautiful Golden Monkey has a golden body, cheeks and tail with contrasting black limbs, crown, and tail-end. Not much is known about their behaviour; other than they live in social groups of up to 30 individuals and their diet consists mainly of leaves and fruit and its thought that they eat insects too. Restricted to the highland forest of the Virungas especially near bamboo, they share this habitat with their Big Brother the Mountain Gorilla, inhabiting a small area that overlaps the territory of one of the Gorilla families. Together, they face the same threats; snares, human encroachment etc. and are listed on the IUCN Red List of critically endangered species.
Tracking usually takes from 2 to 4 hrs. Once you come to the habituated families, you will spend the allowed one hour with them as they go about their daily life; adult monkeys frolic in plain view, feeding on bamboo leaves and leaping from perch to perch while females carry their young, completely oblivious of on-lookers. Afterwards, trek back to base and drive to the lodge for a deserved shower then lunch.
As an afternoon activity, enjoy sightseeing around the Twin Lakes - Burera and Ruhondo, two shimmering volcanic crater lakes located high in the Virungas and separated by a narrow stretch of earth – their deep blue waters ringed by steep hills and tall waterfalls in a most spectacular backdrop, the Virunga Volcanoes. Optionally walk with your guide in the hills bordering on the lakes in search of birds, descend and walk along the lakes and through the local village and its small marketplace or stop for afternoon coffee at the adjacent Virunga Lodge .
Return to lodge early evening for dinner and overnight.
After an early breakfast, transfer to the Park HQs where you will be allocated a trekking guide. At 0700 hrs you'll receive your briefing, then drive to the trailhead for the start of 5 to 6 hrs hike (depending on individual fitness) culminating at Dian Fossey’s grave lying, between Bisoke and Karisimbi volcanoes, next to the graves of the gorillas she loved and studied for a lifetime.
Dian Fossey was a famous American primatologist who undertook an extensive, daily study of Africa’s Mountain Gorillas in the forests of Rwanda over a period of 18 years! Initially encouraged by Louis Leakey, Dian devoted her life to the study and protection of mountain gorillas.
Regrettably murdered on December 26 1985, in the Virunga Mountains, her legacy lives on through The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International , a non-profit dedicated to the conservation and protection of gorillas and their habitat.
On a thrilling hike on the edge of the Virungas, visitors can pay their respects to this incredible ‘lone woman of the forest’, as she was popularly referred to by her staff, at Karisoke where she was interred.
Do note while she was here, Dian Fossey lived and worked at Karisoke Research Centre which was then located between Karisimbi and Bisoke Volcanoes at 3000m. After her death, she was buried at the same location, as were, subsequently, some of her favourite Gorillas. The Research Center was later moved from the site and is now located in Musanze town (former Ruhengeri) 30 minutes from the Park's HQ. They are just ordinary offices occupied by researchers. There is now almost nothing left to see at the original site except Dian Fossey’s grave and those of the famous Gorillas as well as some arrows showing different places. People do still visit, but please note it is a difficult hike and there is not much to see; but there is a thrill can in hiking the volcano.
The best time to visit Volcanoes National Park is:
The Virungas, a branch of the Albertine Rift, is a chain of mostly dormant volcanoes, (except Nyiragongo & Nyamuragira) lying along Rwanda’s northern border with DR Congo and Uganda. The range consists of 8 major volcanoes. Their lower slopes are covered by a Montagne Forest which elevates to Neoboutonia (2400 to 2500m), Bamboo Forest (2500 to 3200m) and Hagenia-Hypericum on the more humid slopes from 2600 to 3600m in the south and west. From 3500 to 4200m, the vegetation is characterised by Lobelia wollastonii, L. lanurensis, and Senecio erici-rosenii while grassland occurs from 4300 to 4500m.
Bordering Virunga National Park in DR Congo and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park (130 km²) encompasses 5 of the 8 Virunga volcanoes i.e. Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo - with Karisimbi, 4,507m the highest and Sabyinyo, 3,634m the oldest.
They are home to the rare and critically endangered Mountain Gorilla. Other mammals present include the Golden Monkeys, black-fronted duiker, buffalo, spotted Hyena and bushbuck. Over 170 species of birds recorded include at least 13 species and 16 subspecies endemic to the Virungas and Rwenzori. Situated in the far northwest of Rwanda, Parc National des Volcans protects the steep slopes of this magnificent mountain range and the rich mosaic of montane ecosystems, embracing evergreen, bamboo, open grassland, swamp & heath.
The climate in the Volcanoes National Park is typically damp, with daytime temperatures averaging 50°F (10°C).
The park itself has some fantastic accommodation on offer to add to your Rwanda safari. Most are mid-high end including the well-established Virunga Lodge and Sabyinyo Lodge . Bisate Lodge opened its doors in 2017 and is a super high-end addition to the park. One & Only Gorilla's Nest will be open in July 2019, followed by Singita's Kwitonda Lodge in August 2019. For those who cannot afford the high-end lodges, decent mid-range options include Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel and Mountain Gorilla View Lodge.
Nyungwe National Park may not be as well-known as its sister park, Volcanoes, but if there is one place that will encourage you to extend your stay in Rwanda then this is it. In fact, really as a trio of parks with Akagera, it makes the perfect Rwanda safari experience! Nyungwe is surely one of the world’s most beautiful and pristine mountain rainforests and is also one of the oldest on the entire continent. Nyungwe is a remarkably rich centre of biodiversity and protects one of the largest areas of mountain rainforest anywhere in East or Central Africa at nearly 1000 square kilometres. To add to this the park is also the most important catchment area in Rwanda, providing water to 70% of the country, and its central ridges form the watershed between the mighty Nile and Congo drainage systems, within this Mount Bigugu, claimed to be the most remote source of the Nile.
The main attraction in the park is Chimpanzee trekking . Nyungwe is home to habituated chimpanzees and 12 other primates species (including a 400-strong troop of habituated Ruwenzori Black & White Colobus), it’s also a birder’s paradise with over 300 species, including 16 endemics, and is home to 75 different species of mammal. Nyungwe is also home to one of East Africa's last intact populations and boasts two wild chimp communities. Thus, with around 500 Chimpanzees it's not surprising that chimpanzee tracking is a popular activity in Nyungwe, especially when the park's trees are in full bloom during the summer, as well-trained guides lead visitors through the park's forests. Trekking the chimps is quite an experience through this majestic forest, and although very different and not as intimate as the Gorilla trekking, it is a must! We would recommend reading more about the differences between Chimpanzee and Gorilla trekking here.
This stunning rainforest is filled with other nature and wildlife experiences too. Hiking the Congo-Nile divide for the most adventurous or even biking the beautiful terrain, and experiencing the canopy walk are all on offer here. Hanging 60 meters above the forest floor between giant trees and towers, this is East Africa's only Canopy Walkway and is an exhilarating way to experience the forest! We recommend Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel to stay at if spending time at Nyungwe. At present this is really the only accommodation option in the park whilst the high-end Nyungwe House undergoes a refurbishment in 2018, with it's planned re-opening in October.
Exploring through the forest, you will witness a landscape that won’t be soon forgotten, this is an area that really is magnificent, and again that off-the-beaten-track experience we love!!
To reach Nyungwe National Park is around a 4-5 hour drive from the capital Kigali, which is a distance of around 200kms. Most people will normally make a stop in the town of Butare to break up the journey and visit the National Museum of Rwanda, which is well worth a visit to learn more on the cultural history of the country and the region.
You will normally arise at dawn around 0430 hrs for your transfer to the Forest for the Chimpanzee trekking experience.
This is in very hilly terrain (high ridges and deep valleys) and the Chimps themselves are only semi-habituated and tending to move far and wide over a large area. This does make the tracking hard and unpredictable and sighting the chimps hard to guarantee, but if you do it is well worth it with the Chimpanzees normally very active and loud as they frolic in the treetops.
For other options, we recommend Colobus Monkeys trekking, the thrilling adventure of the Canopy Walk, guided Forest Hikes including the breathtaking waterfalls, birding trail and many more exciting possibilities. One also has a chance of seeing some of the other primates who call Nyungwe home including Black and White Colobus, Grey-cheeked Mangabeys, Blue Monkeys, L'Hoest's Monkeys and many more.
After breakfast, transfer to the park HQ for a half day forest trek in search of the Angola Colobus Monkeys which can be found here in troops of several hundred; the largest can be up to 450 individuals. This fair to moderate trek can be adapted to guests’ fitness and lasts up 6 hours. It's an absolutely amazing experience, to see so many Colobus monkeys at the same time; often 50-60 at a given time. Besides their incredible numbers, Angola Colobus differ from the more common Eastern colobus by the extent of white hair and leaner frame.
Other primates likely to be seen during the trek include L'Hoest's Monkey and the Grey-cheeked Mangabey. The birds too are spectacular, though as in most tropical forests, one has to look hard for good sightings. Giant hornbills, great blue turacos and red-breasted sparrowhawks are amongst the specials, 24 of them endemic to this section of the Rift Valley.
Head back to the hotel for lunch then in the afternoon, tour a nearby tea plantation; an excellent way of interacting with the local farmers, know them, hear their stories and challenges, and make friends.
In the morning or afternoon, a thrilling adventure awaits you on the Nyungwe Canopy Walk. From the park information centre, descend the 40º slant via a zig-zag footpath to the first tower deep in the forest valley for the 1½ hr walk on the Canopy Walk’s suspension bridge. Besides being so high in such a picturesque location, the walk allows access to the upper parts of the forest, where one can see some unique ‘canopy’ species; apes, birds, butterflies, plants and insects, flowers, leaves and other animals that live in the roof of the forest which are otherwise invisible but can now be seen at eye level, or even from above. It is an unforgettable experience.
What is the Canopy Walk?
The canopy walk starts at the Nyungwe Interpretive Centre at Uwinka. The new Tourist Information Centre (TIC) has been completed via a USAID grant.
Taking the route that zigzags down a 40º slant to the Canopy Walk you will reach the walkway in about an hour just halfway down the valley. Barely 5 min after leaving the TIC, it is a totally different world as you truly get immersed in the intimacy of the forest. Down at the canopy walk start point, there is a massive aluminium tower where you start the walk. 4 towers form a square that runs parallel then right across the valley and back on the other side. A stairway leads walkers up 20ft to the first tower where you walk in single file on a 1ft wide aluminium suspension bridge over the forest canopy, then right across the valley for about 100m (at almost 150m above the ground) exiting at the other end. The walk is around 45min to 1hr on the bridge with the entire tour from TIC and back will be 2.5 to 3 hrs long.
The best time to visit Nyungwe National Park is:
The Nyungwe rainforest is probably the best preserved montane rainforest in Central Africa. It is located in the watershed between the basin of the river Congo to the west and the basin of the river Nile to the east. The east side of the Nyungwe forest is home to one of the branches of the Nile sources. A true nature lovers’ paradise, Nyungwe Forest National Park’s glorious sense of expansiveness is among its most striking features.
The 970 km² of rainforest, bamboo, grassland, swamps and bogs in the majestic hills of southeast Rwanda is the largest remaining ‘island’ of montagne forest in East and Central Africa. It is also home to a rich variety of flora and fauna; 200 types of trees, hundreds of flowering plants, over 100 species of orchids and sensational lobelias and 13 recorded species of primates, 25% of the African primate checklist, including the acrobatic Angola colobus that move in troops of several hundred and an estimated 500 chimpanzee (often seen from the forest trails during the rainy season) as well as L’Hoest’s monkey, olive baboon, grey-cheeked mangabey and red-tailed monkey. Bird enthusiasts will not be disappointed with over 300 species including 24 Albertine Rift endemics e.g. the spectacular Ruwenzori turaco and several iridescent birds.
The stand out accommodation in Nyungwe National Park is Nyungwe House owned by the One & Only group. With 23 luxury rooms and suites situated in five stunning wooden villa clusters in the heart of the rainforest, it is by far the best option. For those who cannot stretch to the price tag of Nyungwe House then Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel is a simple, but also a comfortable option.
The Northern Parks of Tanzania truly are iconic. Such an amazingly diverse set of areas and parks in this region meaning not only top game viewing for you, but a wide range of experiences and stunning scenic variation.
The Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park are must see areas. We would always recommend the greatest emphasis on the Serengeti, then, depending on the time of year, including the Tarangire National Park and Lake Manyara National into your Tanzania safari.
We not only like to get clients to experience the key areas in the Northern Parks, but also to include additional experiences here. Including - visiting local Maasai communities, potentially hiking at the Olmoti Volcano and its ancient Maasai trails, visiting the Empakaai Crater and its thousands of Flamingos, and maybe spending time in the the eastern park of the Serengeti - an area home to large amounts of Big Cats and only recently made accessible to tourists, and also of course hopefully seeing the famous wildebeest migration!
In terms of length of time in this area, anything from 3-10 nights could be considered and there are various routings whether that be by road or flying between parks by light aircraft. We can discuss this with you depending on your preferences, budget and travel personality.
The Tarangire National Park at the right time of year is a must visit on any Tanzania safari. One of the four parks in the Northern Circuit, the park has a much more dense vegetation than others in the area, with its large acacia woodlands and signature large baobab trees.
Tarangire is often either missed out of many people's safari or just visited for one night, taking in the northern part of the park, which is dominated by the Tarangire River. If you are able to visit for 2 or 3 nights then heading to the south of the park is recommended. The southern area gets far less visitors, and is home to large and vast 'swamps' & plains in dry season, and allows you to get out walking with your guide.
The Tarangire is part of a much larger ecosystem and from November to May the majority of wildlife does leave the park to head north, however during the dry season of June to October the park is in its prime and a must visit. Large herds of Elephant roam the park, along with zebra, wildebeest and big cats including lion, leopard and often cheetah in the south of the park.
We highly recommend the experience and top guiding at Olivers Camp and it's smaller sister camp Little Olivers Camp in the southern part of the Tarangire. Swala Camp and Kuro Camp also offer top quality accommodation in the south of the park, with Ndovu Camp and Tarangire river Camp great choices for those with less of a budget towards the northern part of the park.
The Serengeti National Park is home to truly incredible scenery and magnificent wildlife including the largest lion population in Africa. Famed for it's annual migration of over 1.5 million wildebeest and 250,000 zebra the Serengeti covers around 5,700 square miles consisting of vast grassland plains, savanna, woodland and riverine forest. The park borders the Maasai Mara National Reserve and together with several other smaller reserves and conservation areas they form the larger Serengeti ecosystem. This really is one of the most spectacular and iconic African safari locations!
Some of the game in the Serengeti resides permanently in certain areas, however many more migrate and with this is mind careful planning is needed when visiting the Serengeti to avoid busier areas and make the most of your experience. We have therefore to help with this planning split the Serengeti into three areas - the Central 'belt' including the Western Corridor and Eastern area, and then the Southern and Northern sections.
This part of the Serengeti lies north of the Seronera area and stretches for around 60 miles up to the border with Kenya and the Maasai Mara National Reserve. As it is so far North this area receives relatively few visitors, with it being a very long drive from the central area, and thus flying into this region being the preferred method of arrival. Of course this adds expense, but for those willing to head to the North the reward is well worth it - prime migration viewing between July and October with, if you are lucky, the spectacular and famous river crossings over the Mara River. Outside of migration time this is still a fantastic area to get away from the crowds in the Seronera area and the nearby Maasai Mara, with some of the best camps around in the Serengeti.
In the North we recommend Sayari Mara Camp, which is located here year round and it's sister mobile camps Olakira and Ubuntu. We also like the Lemala Kuria Hills and Lemala Mara Camps, along with the Serian Camps and for those on a lower budget - Kaskaz and Nasikia Mobile Migration Camp. So many great camps in this area! We will happily find the right one to suit your tastes.
Ruaha National Park is one of the finest safari and wilderness areas in the whole of Africa and arguably the finest in Tanzania. Its low visitor numbers, sense of true remote wilderness and some of the best safari camps and guides in the country make it a real safari lovers paradise. Including Ruaha in any Tanzania safari as either part of a longer trip combining with the Selous Game reserve to the east or Katavi National Park to the west is highly recommended. In fact, Ruaha can easily be combined with the Northern parks of Tanzania by combining with Tarangire National park before making your way to the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti.
At Tailormade Africa we have a deep and impassioned love for Ruaha and urge all safari visitors to consider visiting. There are only a handful of camps too here and 90% of them we feel are just fantastic. Well run, authentic in the bush camps at varying degrees of luxury. The management and staff of all the camps we endorse have created ambient and warm welcoming atmospheres. That home away from home feeling. Our favourites would be Kichaka camp, probably the best walking safari experience in Southern Tanzania with professional guide Andrew (Moli) Molinaro. Kwihala, Jongomero, and Mdonya all very different from each other but all excellent in their own right. Kigelia Camp makes up the last of the camps we have a strong feelings for. A quick mention of a camp being built as we speak and sister camp to Kwihala, the exciting addition of Jabali Ridge Camp due to open in September of 2017
The wildlife viewing in Ruaha is sensational. The variant ecosystem and biodiversity here plays host to a whole range of animal species set against truly epic scenic backdrops. Interestingly this park sort of sits in a buffer zone between East and Southern Africa terrain which gives you an interesting and ultimately magical mix of the Plains of the Serengeti/Massai Mara in equal measure to the mixed (Miombo) woodland, Acacia scrub and woodland and Baobab terrain of Southern Africa. All that along with a seasonal river, the Ruaha River, helps create this remarkable park.
The walking safaris here deserves special mention as they are few places in East Africa that has “real” big game walking safari. Tracking down and spending time with Elephant, Lion and buffalo on foot is an extraordinary experience. Currently there are only a handful of guides that have the required skill and numbers of years of experience behind them to offer this twist on a safari safely. The best guides of East Africa all work in Ruaha at some point in their career as is very much a safari aficionado’s paradise, remote and away from the dense visitor numbers of most of the other parks and game reserves in Tanzania.
Katavi is untamed, wild and remote. Located in the far in the west of Tanzania, south of the Mahale mountains and close to Lake Tanganyika, this is one of the best safari experiences anywhere in Africa. With one of the highest concentrations of game on the continent and some of the lowest visitor numbers, Katavi is a safari aficionados dream!
With vast grasslands to explore the park is simply superb in dry season, from July to October, with thousands of buffalo grazing the plains, hundreds of hippo gathered together in vast pools, and huge lion prides. From November-March the park boasts amazing bird watching and even fewer visitors, making Katavi's massive wilderness of 4,500 square kilometres one of the only places where you can still have a have truly top wildlife viewing almost to yourself.
Katavi is expensive to get to and thus we do recommend spending at least 3-4 nights in the park, taking in the game drives, walking safaris and fly camping. Really if you are coming this far you should combine Katavi with a similar amount of time in the Mahale Mountains. In fact, as a week long experience the combination of stunning safari in Katavi and Chimpanzee trekking and relaxing at Mahale, makes for one of the very best weeks you could have anywhere on the continent!
There are just two accommodation options in Katavi one on each of the parks massive plains - the lodge of Katuma overlooking the Katisunga plains and the smaller, bush camp experience of Chada, overlooking the plains it shares its name with.
Mahale Mountains National Park, set on the shores of Lake Tanganyika is truly breathtaking! One of only two protected areas in country for Chimpanzees, the park is home to over 1,000 individuals, and due to the parks size and remoteness the Chimpanzees flourish here in Mahale. This really is one of the very best places in the world to see these amazing creatures.
Mahale has no roads and little infrastructure, so the only way to access the park is by air and then by boat across the lake. The lakeshore here is fringed with fine, white-powder sand and the mountains, full of streams and lush vegetation, make for an imposing and stunning backdrop.
The highlight of any trip to this 1,600 square kilometre park is trekking the Chimpanzees at close quarters. August to October is the best time to do this with the Chimps normally being close to the shore and the paths at their driest. Additionally here fish, kayak, butterfly and bird watch, or simply relax on the beautiful beach. Put simply Mahale is truly a stunning place to visit!
Much like Katavi, Mahale being remote is not cheap to get to and thus we recommend 3-4 nights in the park, taking in Chimpanzees and various other experiences. Really if you are coming this far you should combine Mahale with a similar amount of time in the Katavi. In fact, as a week long experience the combination of stunning safari in Katavi and Chimpanzee trekking and relaxing at Mahale, makes for one of the very best weeks you could have anywhere on the continent!
With only a couple of hundred visitors between the two parks each year, these are experiences not many people ever have the privilege of boasting about! Mahale, like Katavi, also has two beach lodge accommodations, the unique Greystoke, and the beautiful setting at Kungwe.
This is Zimbabwe’s best-known and largest National park and is a real heavyweight in the contender for Africa’s finest. Certainly, in terms of the diversity of wildlife, birdlife and ecosystems we think it is pretty hard to beat from late June through to Mid- November. The best time of year to visit this park is from Mid- July through to late September as the bush dries up, opens up and the herds start congregating. Green season, however, is also pretty amazing especially for scenic backdrops, birdlife and baby animals being born!
Elephants are particularly numerous here and offer some of the largest herds at the permanent waterholes. Four of the big five occur here in Hwange in great numbers but the fifth, Rhino, are becoming an ever decreasing sighting. Lion prides are strong, as are Cheetah sightings and Wild Dog. Sable and Roan Antelope are commonplace here whilst rare in most of the rest of Africa and the old favourites of Zebra and Giraffe grace the plains in large numbers.
A safari to Hwange National Park should always include a camp in the East at a minimum of 3 nights but we like to ideally have 5 or 6 nights between this sensational game viewing area and the area to the western side. Both are very different ecosystems and give you the full Hwange spectrum.
The quality of the guides themselves is astonishing and Zimbabwe is still home to Africa’s most professional and knowledgeable guides. Big game walking safaris highlight this fact more than any other activity and we would highly recommend that all guests, who are able to, do this particular activity as often as possible.
In combination with Mana Pools National Park in the extreme north of the country, a tailormade Zimbabwe safari designed by ourselves can be counted amongst the very best safari trips in the whole of Africa. Helped by one of our Directors having spent many years as a Professional guide and Safari Camp manager having his own walking safari operation in Mana Pools over a 14-year safari guide career. We really do believe that Tailormade Africa can offer trips over and above the normal offerings of Zimbabwe itineraries of virtually every other “safari specialist company”.
Mana Pools National Park is a World Heritage site and Africa’s most sensational safari area! A bold claim we realise however the combination of some of the best game viewing alongside the most experienced professional guides, breathtaking scenery, the stunning lower Zambezi river and the most incredible walking safaris really do make this national park stand out.
The river frontage which sits just in front of large areas of open, winter acacia woodland with their cathedral-like statures is like no other safari habitat. The feeling you get when you are there for yourself is not something we can accurately describe for you: it is something incredibly special.
It is the walking safaris here that set it apart. Several of Africa’s absolute top guides are found here. Having lived in Mana Pools for decades in some instances, these guides know individual bull elephants and lion very well indeed. So much so that remarkable close experiences on foot with both species, and wild dog too, are a regular occurrence but not for a person of nervous disposition.
There are several "mobile camps" namely Chitake Springs mobile camp and Ruwesi Canoe trail that take the raw wilderness experience of Mana Pools to a whole new level that we believe is absolutely unique to Mana Pools. Being 5 metres from big bull elephants, huge herds of buffalo or even predator kills on your own two feet will have your heart racing at a thousand miles an hour.
This is all only possible because of the extraordinary skill of guides that have worked this park with these animals for years and years. Vehicle safaris, boat and canoe safaris make up the rest of the activities with 2 camps being able to offer night drives as well.
The camps themselves either sit in the riverine area of the Zambezi River or are set back in the bush along one of Mana’s four natural and large permanent “pools”. These pools help make the area so prolific for game viewing.
There is no average or poor camp here nor any low-cost options. Deciding between them is usually determined by budget or your safari personality and you can be sure of a great experience regardless of where you choose to stay.
Mana Pools is not open year-round as the soil type when wet becomes a sticky bog. Ideally, the best time to visit this park is a little after dry season begins, around the end of June/middle of July, to give the bush a chance to dry up inland and nudge the game toward the permanent pools and the river.
Equally mid-October to November, whilst sensational for game viewing, is extraordinarily hot. Hot enough to have a very serious conversation with us here at Tailormade Africa about your heat tolerances. Only a handful of camps have swimming pools and permanent plumbing for endless cooling showers.
Mana Pools is better suited to clients that have been on safari before or at the very least for those with a strong sense of adventure. It really is a wild frontier only fully felt whilst you are there. Mana Pools is so good that we recommend you plan your entire Zimbabwe safari around it. The rewards for doing so are potentially life-changing.
Gonarezhou is Epic! A truly last frontier kind of wildlife area that is fast becoming harder and harder to find. It is second in size only to Hwange National Park when taken on its own but now that it has joined up with Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park and South Africa’s Kruger National Park to become The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, it is of a size that is quite hard to comprehend. This was done to allow the old migratory routes of animals that once circumnavigated this region to flow again, tearing down the fences and borders set up by the 3 countries. It is a wonderful project and is thriving.
The biggest distinguishing feature of Gonarezhou is the red sandstone Chilojo cliffs that tower above the park. In the right sunlight, it is simply an astonishing sight. The wildlife here is very good indeed with all members of the Big Five accounted for, especially Elephant, along with a supporting cast of almost all other species that Zimbabwe has. Even the elusive Nyala antelope can be seen on occasion. There are 3 river systems. The Runde, Save and Mwanezi help to attract all this game and importantly keep it all. Leopard & Wild Dog are in good numbers and along with Zebra and Giraffe, Hippo and Crocs.
What sets this region apart however as earlier mentioned, is the sheer unspoilt wilderness. There are only 2 camps and both of them are on the edges of the park rather than in it and in their own private reserves. You will not see another vehicles or people at all whilst out on safari other than that from your camp. The two camps are Singita Pamushana in its private Malilangwe Trust reserve and then right on the other side of Gonarezhou, you have Chilo Gorge Lodge. Both are fantastic. Singita the high-end option and Chilo the not so high end but still rather lovely! Gonarezhou is easiest to access from Johannesburg with several flights a week into both camps.
Walking safaris here are a must, as is sleeping out one night in a fly camp that both lodges offer. It should be said the standard of guiding in Gonarezhou is extremely high even by Zimbabwe standards!
• Zimbabwe’s oldest and least visited national park
• Unesco world heritage site
• A black and White Rhino sanctuary at its core
• Great traditional game viewing
• Hikers paradise with breath-taking scenery
• Balancing rock formations litter the park with their beauty
• Resting place of Cecil Rhodes and the Matabele King, Mzilikazi
• Extensive network of Bushman rock paintings, 3000 known sites
• Only 2 private camps, Camp Amalinda and Big Cave Camp
• Large array of activities
Until you see huge Granite rocks balancing on top of one another in impossible ways it is quite hard to imagine why they would capture the imagination….. But they do and Matobo Hills National Park has a ridiculous number of them all over the park that give it such unique characteristics. It is beautiful here and whilst not on everyone’s radar as a safari destination, we would argue that it makes for a perfect start and introduction to safari and culture of Zimbabwe and should be included in all itineraries. There are two main accommodation choices here. Camp Amalinda and Big Cave Camp. The park is a world heritage site with huge historical and archaeological importance, to say nothing of the role it plays in Black and White Rhinoceros protection and conservation.
The traditional game viewing here is very good, surprisingly and has most animal species with the exception of Elephant and Lion. Given how many you will see in Hwange, Vic Falls, Mana Pools and Matusadona, this should not be a perceived negative and actually a bonus to be able to walk freely alone around this wonderful park. The cultural activities here are very good and the historical walks to the caves and rock art sites of the San Bushmen who lived here as far back as 2000 years ago is a real treat, though you won’t get round all 3000 of them!
The resting sites of Cecil John Rhodes and King Mzilikazi are to be found within the Granite rock balancing act and are steeped in history that the guides are very knowledgeable on.
All in all Matobo Hills National Park is wonderful and should have more visitors to it. For now however it remains a little secret and one worth getting to know!
Odzala represents one of the last truly pristine and remote ecosystems in Africa. In the 80 years since it was established, it has gained a near-mythical status due to the fact that very few people have ever been there, and the incredible stories that those few intrepid explorers brought back.
Few other protected areas can compare to Odzala when it comes to habitat and wildlife diversity. From the air, what appears at first to be an unbroken forest canopy stretching to the horizon, is revealed on closer inspection to be an incredible patchwork of forest blocks, moist savannah, sinuous rivers and glittering bais.
The bais – marshy clearings rich in mineral salts – are key to understanding and experiencing Odzala. It’s here that the greatest concentrations of bird and animal life are found, from swirling flocks of grey parrots and green pigeons, to small herds of forest elephant – the legendary ghosts of the forest.
Vehicles and boats permit access to the park’s different ecosystems, but it is on foot that you will gain the greatest appreciation of Odzala – following flooded elephant paths to penetrate forest blocks in search of shy antelope, or tracking western lowland gorillas through dense marantaceae vegetation.
Pottery fragments hint at the human history of this region, but in more recent times, our primate cousins have had free rein in Odzala. Like much of the Congo Basin, however, Odzala is increasingly threatened by loggers and ivory poachers.
Far-sighted conservation and tourism policies offer a viable, sustainable alternative. By visiting Odzala you’ll not only be discovering a unique place, but you’ll be helping the people of northern Congo find a better way to live in harmony with the forests that have traditionally provided them with food, shelter and medicine.
Spending time in Odzala also gives you the opportunity to visit local communities and learn more about their sustainable forest lifestyles.
Visitors to Bwindi soon realise why the word “impenetrable” is included in the title. A dense swath of alpine rainforest blankets a steep mountainous terrain. At certain times of day, clouds can literally be seen forming from the top of the forest canopy.
This is home to our gigantic but gentle relatives, some of the last Mountain Gorillas remaining on the planet. A trek through dense jungle is rewarded with a once-in-a-lifetime experience; to be in the presence of these awe-inspiring creatures in their natural habitat.
Trekking can be done from various points around the forest, from the easily accessible northern side, right at the edge of the forest, to the scenic, mountainous southern side that looks out over the Virunga Volcanoes.
Most would agree that Kibale one of the world’s top spots for primates with 13 different primate species (14 if you count yourself!). This is one of the top spots in the world to track or even habituate wild Chimpanzees. Should you find them you’ll marvel at the ways our closest relatives interact with each-other, and learn from your guide the secrets of this remarkable forest.
Visitors staying in nearby Fort Portal will be pleasantly surprised by the vistas of tranquil crater lakes and lush, green tea plantations. Those with a taste for adventure can undertake a mountaineering expedition in the nearby Rwenzori Mountains, a unique journey and the experience of snow on the equator!
At its most narrow point on its nearly 7,000 km journey; the mighty River Nile squeezes itself through a mere 6-metre gap to create the powerful, unrelenting explosion of water that is Murchison Falls.
Murchison is one of Africa’s unique parks with a wide variety of river life including gigantic crocodiles, hippos, riverbank game and a plethora of birdlife, all of which can be admired up close on a boat safari. Traditional game drives can be had at dawn and dusk have a chance to spot predatory cats on the prowl for dinner.
In the southern part of the park, Chimpanzees can be tracked in Budongo Forest, while near the park gates is Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary – re-introducing these magnificent giants back into Uganda.
In the far, remote North of Uganda bordering South Sudan, Kidepo is one of Uganda’s least visited parks. A good 2 days drive from Entebbe most visitors choose the option to fly up to this unspoilt and rarely visited piece of Africa. The rugged, arid terrain and the silence of the open plains gives it a feeling of true wilderness.
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.
This country has become something of an institution over the years and is where the lavish and luxurious hunting safari was pioneered and perfected. It is no surprise then that when tastes shifted toward the photographic safari in the 1950’s and 1960’s, Kenya was again at the forefront. Being spread out over a fairly large landmass means it offers a diversity of different habitats to explore, from endless savannas to snow-capped mountains, from harsh deserts to tropical coastlines.
The crown jewel is without doubt the world-famous Masai Mara reserve. It plays host to the most spectacular portion of the Great Migration, where up to two million wildebeest, zebra and antelope follow the rains in constant search of good grazing. The herds only move through the Mara between July – Nov but their time here is action-packed and chaotic river crossings are the norm. During the rest of the year, however, you will still be rewarded with healthy populations of resident game and much lower visitor numbers. Other safari areas which deserve serious consideration when planning a trip are Meru, Laikipia, Samburu and the Chyulu Hills.
Another drawcard that few safari countries are still able to offer is truly authentic cultural interaction with local tribespeople. Kenya will afford you the unique opportunity to visit Maasai, Kikuyu or Pokot villages.
After a rigorous safari schedule, there is no better way to round off your trip than with a week on the tropical beaches that line the coast. Only Kenya and Tanzania offer such an effortless combination of safari and beach. Unfortunately, Malindi has fallen victim to the large resort syndrome but the areas around Lamu still offer that laid-back barefoot atmosphere that most of our clients are hoping for. Even the spectacular Seychelles is easily connected via the main hub of Nairobi.