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Last year I had a fruitful and busy year, spending time in Europe, North America, Australia, India, North Africa. Easily the most enjoyable trip I took was leading a group of British tourists on an African safari. The reason was simple: this team of worldly, well-travelled Brits were utterly blown away by the African bushveld, the wild animals and the sheer adventure of being on the fringes of the modern world. To be able to share my passion for wild Africa was a rare opportunity indeed and I do not doubt, that they will return soon.
So what is it about the bush that makes it such a compelling place to visit? Well, firstly, there is nowhere else on Earth where such a variety of animals and birds exist in real wilderness. Anyone who has gone looking for tigers in India’s Ranthambore Park will know exactly what I mean. In Africa, you can still find remoteness without having to share it with hordes of shouting fellow tourists.
My guiding journey happened to be in Zimbabwe — in Hwange and Gonarezhou national parks — but it could have been in any of the subcontinent’s reserves. Members of my group have already asked me where they should venture off to next and I was able to recommend both Botswana’s Okavango Delta and Kenya’s Masai Mara for their sheer profusion of game. Wilderness Safaris’ Serra Cafema camp in far northern Namibia for remoteness and Singita’s two Kruger lodges, Boulders and Ebony, for the indulgence of fine wines, butler service, high-thread-count cotton sheets and wild animals.
The African wilderness has something for all tastes, and once bitten, people invariably want to come back. Although there seem to be new bush camps opening all the time — Wilderness Safaris’ Linkwasha in Hwange and Steve and Nicky Fitzgerald’s Angama Mara in the Masai Mara to name two — some of my personal favourites have been around for years. And with regular updates refurbishments, these are always worth consideration whatever the current fashion.
Duba Plains located in Botswana continues to offer breathtaking lion-buffalo interactions; Ruckomechi Camp on the banks of the Zambezi River is still the perfect riverine habitat, and Little Governors Camp in the Mara provides excellent access to those famous Big Cat Diary lion prides.
Hopefully, the future will be free from harmful publicity that has blighted African tourism over the past few years, and wealthy foreigners will be putting some much-needed revenue back into the wilderness.
Thank you to Graham Boynton for this insightful piece.