It’s 3:30am, -8°C / 18°F and all I want to do is lie down and go to sleep. The only reason I'm keeping my feet moving is my guide, Milton's, unceasing encouragement.
Few destinations rival South Africa when it comes to offering a wide range of attractions combined with an easy and convenient regional travel. Home to the Big 5 and breathtaking natural beauty, South Africa is an ideal safari destination for families, honeymooners and adventure seekers of all ages. The teeming game reserves are home to lion, elephant, buffalo and rhino in addition to rare cheetah and all the plains game favourites, like zebra, giraffe and gazelle. South Africa's Kruger area is widely considered the best place in Africa to see leopard, the most elusive big cat.
Contrary to popular belief, bucket lists aren’t only for retired folk who are keen to SKI (‘spend the kids’ inheritance’). 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.
April is when Africa’s great summer starts winding down and the year catches its breath before winter. Down in the sun-baked Western Cape, the city of Cape Town welcomes its first autumnal showers. Further north, safari destinations like the Kruger, Botswana and Zimbabwe emerge after months of heavy rain. Cloaked in green, they offer lovely scenery and birding but big game is often hard to find.
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.
The Serengeti, Victoria 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.
It is the question safari guides across Africa dread the most: 'Will we see a leopard?' The answer is tricky because although Panthera pardus is found from the lush Cape Winelands in the south to the rolling hills of northern Kenya, the leopard's mastery of camouflage and stealth makes it extremely elusive.
There are the well-known and beloved classics of Africa: the golden plains of the Serengeti, the thundering hooves of the Wildebeest Migration, the splendour of Victoria Falls. And then there are the secret gems – the attractions that may not make it onto postcards but which are incredible natural phenomena that belong on every traveller's must-see list. It may take longer to reach them but, as if often the case, the reward is all the sweeter for the extra effort…
If you're planning a paradise island holiday then you've probably got palm-fringed beaches and warm turquoise water in mind. You'll want beachfront accommodation, delicious seafood and opportunities to both relax and explore.