Is it just coincidence that August is the month when many people go on holiday and Africa becomes the perfect place to visit? In fact, there’s so much happening across the continent that travellers really are spoilt for choice: safari destinations feature the best game-viewing conditions, while the beaches and tropical islands bask beneath warm, dry skies.
Planning your safari is very exciting – there are so many bucket-list experiences to choose from and natural wonders to see, every kind of accommodation you can imagine and as many different settings, from mountains to beaches, rainforests to deserts.
When you think of a safari, you probably think of a big 4x4 Jeep, hunkered down on a dusty African road, with a host of excited passengers peering out of the windows, all eagerly trying to spot the next animal. While this is probably the most common style of safari and has its own perks and benefits, there are others that are definitely worth exploring such as:
Walking along the banks of Zambia’s Luangwa River, watching the antics of kingfishers and African fish eagles over the water, all while following a guide tracking giraffe prints… this is what a really wild African safari entails. Sometimes, your own two feet are the best way to experience the wild wonders of the African bush.
Contrary to popular belief, bucket lists aren’t only for retired folk. Today, youngsters are more switched on than ever before and after spending hours watching BBC or Lost Planet documentaries, many can’t wait to come to Africa and experience the thrill of seeing a leopard in the wild or elephant family at play for themselves.
East Africa is where the concept of safari travel was born in the 1850s, and the region's flagship destinations are still Kenya and Tanzania. In these countries you'll find those classic safari images that resonate with travellers around the world today: elephants set against the backdrop of snow-capped Kilimanjaro; herds of wildebeest plunging across crocodile-infested rivers; red-robed Maasai warriors watching their livestock; and tented camps overlooking the rolling golden savannah.
It is rated as one of the world's most spectacular natural events - every year over a million wildebeest, zebra and antelope migrate clockwise around the Serengeti/Masai Mara ecosystem, taking in two different countries and making time for birthing, courting and mating on the way.
There is something thrilling about staying in a tent on safari. Instead of being shut away behind brick and glass, enjoy the glow of lantern light on canvas walls and drift off to sleep to the sounds of the African night. And if your idea of staying in a tent means having to rough it; you're in for a wonderful surprise: Africa's top tented camps offer a softer kind of adventure with all the comfort and the trimmings you'd expect from a luxury safari lodge.
Floating down a papyrus-lined channel with only a mokoro canoe between me and the water lilies, I’m awestruck by this wild place. Bird song follows us, punctuating the soft rhythm of the pole as it dips in and out the clear water, its cool freshness enveloping my fingers as they trail in the wake. I am in the heart of the magical Okavango Delta, undoubtedly one of Africa’s most inspirational destinations.
Everybody wants to snap one of those National Geographic-style images when they go on a photographic safari, an iconic picture that captures the moment and its subject perfectly. Apart from the fact that National Geographic photographers spend months in the field and you have a few days at most to attempt to lock down your perfect image, it is possible with some preparation and a good dose of luck, of course.