You’re woken by a gentle knock and softly spoken “Good morning to you!” as the aroma of freshly-brewed Zambian coffee wafts into your tent. It’s really early and your sleep-fuzzy brain reminds you that you lay awake until late into the night – safely cocooned under canvas in the snug comfort of your four-poster bed, listening to the whoops of hyenas and pensive hoot of an owl.
Driven by the expansionist turbines of Queen Victoria’s British Empire, the 19th century saw more progress in mapping and surveying Africa’s mysterious interior than the previous three centuries combined. The interior was extremely dangerous for Europeans, who succumbed to malaria, dysentery and sleeping sickness, or died violently at the hands of indigenous people.
Like a cardsharp with an ace up both sleeves, a safari villa is hard to beat. Not only are they tucked away in beautiful private reserves, but they are the best way to enjoy a completely individualized safari. And for the larger-than-usual group, they are exactly what's needed.
Four o’clock in the afternoon in Botswana’s Okavango Delta and a drum is tapping out a heartbeat. But this is no call to war: the drum’s beat is soon replaced by the sound of clinking china. It’s time for high tea.
Deciding to take a trip to Africa for a safari adventure is an enormous proposition, involving considerable research into which country you would like to visit, where you want go, which season to visit, and what exactly you want to gain from the experience. And that is before you have looked into booking flight tickets! With such a welter of options as to where, what and how, booking a safari can be rather overwhelming: even if you have decided on a particular country, you can choose between the cosseted pampering and luxury of a top-end lodge, with magnificent accomodation and an accompanying pricetag, all the way down to an overland adventure tour where you are required to participate.
Maybe it’s the way the world works these days; perhaps it’s also about old-fashioned Kenyan resilience. Whatever the reason, the fact is that Kenya is going about its daily business as it deals with the aftermath of the Nairobi shopping mall attack.
Special occasion holidays – honeymoons, family vacations, anniversaries and important milestones – deserve an unforgettable setting. They also need to be as foolproof as possible: you may be travelling with several generations of your family, which means different individuals with different interests. The challenge is to tailor-make your itinerary to balance everyone's appetite for relaxation and action. You need exceptional service throughout your stay, a rich variety of activities, and a daily routine that is as flexible as possible.
This morning, we woke very early to take a walk through the reserve, but there were too many signs of lion and a large herd of buffalo near camp, making it unsafe to go on foot.
My first evening on Botswana’s Chobe River was the stuff of dreams. I sat on the roof of a game drive vehicle and watched in open-mouthed wonder as herd after herd of elephants poured out of the surrounding forest and down to the river to drink. Many younger ones broke into a run, their trunks and ears flapping in excitement; the older ones usually managed to keep to a dignified pace – at least until the last few yards. The countless trampling feet sent dust billowing into the air, turning the setting sun into a huge, hanging orb of fire.
In the early days of African safaris, the “Big 5” referred to the five most dangerous and challenging animals that a trophy hunter could hunt. In modern African travel, photographic safaris have transformed the way people encounter wildlife. Today, we use our digital cameras to "shoot" elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard, taking nothing but their images for our trophies.