As Africa Safari Experts, we’ve had the privilege of meeting some of Africa’s most iconic people – the fiercely distinctive Maasai and Sambura in Kenya, the red-hued Himba of Namibia, and those consummate survivors, the San of the Kalahari.
As African Safari Experts , we spend every day doing what we love: helping our clients live out their dream African vacations in magical destinations. But it’s not all fun and games – to reach expert level we have to pass serious written examinations (just like college) and personally visit every destination we recommend. In fact, we’re can't advise our clients on a destination until we’ve passed the exams and actually been there. After mastering South Africa – which really is ‘a world in one country’ with every sort of attraction from whales and wine to the Big 5 and resorts like Sun City – we started working on our next destination, Botswana.
African Safari Expert, Anza Snyman, wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Zambia. Her previous safaris in Botswana and the Kruger National Park had set the bar high – how would Zambia compare? After all, it is a country that has only recently returned to the international safari scene and many people would struggle to find it on a map, let alone name its national parks and reserves.
The scene that greeted us as we drove out of Cape Town made it hard to believe we were in Africa. Lit up by the soft light of a September morning, the city’s surrounding mountains were dusted with snow and the vineyards that lie below them glowed with good health. My daughter and I were stunned into silence by the beauty of it all, but we didn’t dilly-dally: we had a rendezvous with sea monsters.
South Africa’s Western Cape welcomes spring in a colourful riot of blooming wild flowers. At the height of flower season, between August and September, the west coast abandons its normally somber semi-arid attire and dresses up for the homecoming queen’s welcome parade.
Guides say that if you see 1% of what sees you in the African wilderness, you are very, very observant. This is mostly because every living creature makes use of camouflage, whether to hide from predators or sneak up on prey. It is also because guides know that our over-stimulated and under-utilized city senses are pretty much good for nothing in the jungle.
Taking a road trip through Kenya is a great way to explore this iconic destination. My safari begins in the lush rainforest of Mount Kenya National Park where I discover that a good guide can turn an uneventful stroll into a magical experience. What more could you ask for: the haunting skull of a forest buffalo, monkeys whooshing through the canopy, and mid-morning tea served in a woodland clearing?
If I close my eyes and think about my past trips to Namibia, my mind floods with memories so vivid I can smell the dry fragrance of the desert and feel gritty sand crunching under my shoes. I remember when I stood on a camel thorn, stifling a gasp less I threaten the silence of the game-packed Okaukeujo waterhole, and when we climbed a Spitzkoppe peak at dawn, my rubber shoes gripping the granite, as the sun bathed the campsite below us in a soft pink light...
Before I travelled to Zanzibar, it had never occurred to me that Stone Town would be a highlight of the trip. I had done some research on what activities to do on the island and of course Stone Town - a World Heritage Site - came up but I didn't pay it much attention. It was my first visit to Zanzibar and I was focused on experiencing as many ocean and beach-based activities as possible. I tentatively added Stone Town to my to-do list but thought a quick afternoon visit - if at all - would be more than enough.
It began with a question: are there any African wildlife destinations left where you won’t be surrounded by a pack of 4X4s at every sighting and be confronted by manicured luxury lodges around each corner? I must admit I had my doubts before I gritted my teeth and went on a winter camping safari to a remote slice of the Kalahari. I wanted the wilderness but I also wanted to be comfortable.