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The Road Less Travelled: Africa's Most Unique Safaris

The SerengetiVictoria Falls, the Kruger Park ... Africa's most iconic destinations have long delighted their visitors but if you're the kind of person who likes to do things a little differently and prefer your wildlife encounters without the crowds, then maybe it's time to take the road less travelled in Africa.

Suitable for second-time around safari travellers or first-timers with an adventurous spirit, there are plenty of virtually unvisited destinations that not only deliver game viewing as good (if not better) than more familiar places but are home to unique wildlife experiences, several of which are barely known outside the safari world.

And you won't need to rough it either. There's amazing accommodation available in many of Africa's most remote regions and you can choose from safari lodges and tented camps that range from family-friendly to honeymoon-perfect.

Tanzania: Go Wild and Remote

Everyone knows the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater and rightly so: the game viewing is excellent - especially in peak migration season - but you'll have to share your sightings with many other visitors. So if you're looking for a more remote or unique safari experience we suggest you head for Tanzania's wild south central region. Here you'll also see huge numbers of animals in national parks such as Ruaha and Katavi not to mention Africa's greatest populations of elephant, buffalo, lion and hippo in the great Selous Game Reserve. But chances are you'll be the only people around.

The Road Less Travelled - Tanzani
The Selous offers a wild and authentic Tanzania safari experience.

And did you know that you can go chimpanzee trekking in Tanzania's Mahale Mountains National Park? It's a destination reached only by air and boat but lying on the deserted shores of Lake Tanganyika and offering access to a pristine, cathedral-like rainforest, it's somewhere where the rewards outweigh the effort.

How to do it: browse our selection of safaris in the south central region of Tanzania for great travel inspiration.

Botswana: Unique Water-Based Experiences

Instead of jostling for position at the ever-popular Chobe River in a bevy of 4X4s, spend the day drifting down the scenic Selinda Spillway in a canoe, surrounded only by bird song. This waterway connects northern Botswana's Linyanti Wetlands with the Okavango Delta but was dust-dry for decades before it unexpectedly began flowing again a couple of years ago.

The Road Less Travelled - paddling along the Selinda Canoe Trail in northern Botswana
Drift down the extraordinary Selinda Spillway on a peaceful canoe safari

Consequently, the now hippo-and-crocodile-filled Selinda has become a vital lifeline for thirsty animals in the dry season, turning a hit-and-miss region of the Chobe National Park into a simply-can't-miss destination. This type of adventure is ideal for those travellers looking for an action-packed trip in one of Southern Africa's wildest regions.

How to do it: our recommended Botswana adventures combine the best of the country's safari destinations with some truly special once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Gorilla Trekking, Lakipia & Gorongosa: Wild & Authentic

Gorilla trekking in Central African rainforests, Samburu cultural encounters on Kenya's Laikipia Plateau and game viewing in Mozambique's super-remote Gorongosa National Park... These experiences and destinations were unthinkable fifteen, ten or even five years ago but thanks to improved infrastructure and regional stability can now easily be included in fly-in or fly/drive itineraries.

Fly to Uganda and Rwanda for the unique and, on occasion, life-changing opportunity to sit for an hour with a mountain gorilla family. It's tough hiking country but these are the only two places in Africa that you can visit these critically endangered animals safely, and you can easily combine a Uganda gorilla trek with chimpanzee tracking and game viewing in the country's other reserves.

The Road Less Travelled - chimp trekking in the Mahale Mountains
Discover the rare privilege of tracking chimpanzees in the Mahale Mountains

Wildlife encounters of a different kind are on offer on a Laikipia Plateau safari. You'll need to fly in to this famously scenic region of the Rift Valley but classic Big 5 game viewing lies in wait as do adventure activities such as mountain biking and camel safaris. And with local Samburu villages to visit, you'll enjoy a rewarding cultural element to your experience too.

Flying is also the only way into Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique's newest travel hotspot and far removed from its popular Indian Ocean islands. It's a place of wild waterfalls, rainforests and big game and where visitor numbers are measured in double rather than triple figures. Try a Gorongosa safari and be on of the pioneers to this extraordinary destination, dubbed 'Africa's Lost Eden' by National Geographic.

 How to do it: discover more unique experiences with our selection of gorilla trekking safaris and northern Kenya expeditions.

The Road Less Travelled - Gorongosa
Gorongosa is Mozambique's flagship national park, known for its incredible natural beauty.

If you're looking for a more unique accommodation experience, then go fly-camping your way around a Big 5 reserve or watch the constellations move around the night sky from the comfort of your star bed. Many camps and lodges also contribute to the upliftment of the local community, from which most of the staff and guides are drawn, and you'll gain cultural insights through your interactions with them.

If you feel that your African adventure should be one that takes the road less travelled, click through to our holiday finder for more inspiration.

Written by Dominic Chadbon. Connect with him on Google+.

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