There are many wonderful places to photograph birds in Africa. The Chobe River in Botswana offers out-of-this-world birding from the vantage of a customised photographic boat, creating minimal disturbance and putting you in prime position to capture fantastic images. Close by, the Okavango Delta has several birding highlights throughout the year. Falling water levels in October expose sandbanks that attract nesting African Skimmers, huge noisy heronries rise and fall, and the summer rains bring exotic migrant species into the area. Further south, the bird list at South Africa's Phinda Reserve is so large that some say it offers the best birding in Africa!
Family holidays in Africa began at an early age for me but each has remained indelibly imprinted on my mind. I was a young child on our Lake Kariba fishing adventure and barely into my teens when we canoed down the Zambezi and explored the Okavango, but we still talk about these trips decades later. Although, as adults, we now lead separate and far-flung lives, subsequent family holidays to Zanzibar, Mozambique or Botswana have served to bring us together, reinforcing family ties and sharing wonderful experiences.
Of all the chapters in the story that is East Africa's Great Wildebeest Migration, none is more dramatic than the river crossings. Arriving in wide-eyed anticipation, the herds pile up like an enormous traffic jam at the Grumeti and Mara Rivers, desperate to complete their journey through the Serengeti and back into the Masai Mara. But crossing the murky brown rivers is no easy task. Giant crocodiles have been waiting all year for the herds and things aren't much better for the survivors - big cats lie in ambush on the other side.
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.
Famous for its Kalahari setting, Botswana is generally a place of empty blue skies and dazzling sunshine. It does have a rainy season however - often disarmingly called the Green Season - but don't worry too much about that word 'rainy'. The absolute wettest part of the country records as much precipitation in a year as London or Melbourne do, while the rest of the country gets about enough to fill a coffee cup. You're not going to need to pack an umbrella. And besides, nearly all the rain falls between December and April with soggy February accounting for the bulk of it.
"Thank you again and again Emma and Go2Africa for helping me make this dream come true. Although it was not the first time for me to be travelling alone, I was even more at ease this time because of the meticulous planning that went into this trip! I have recommended Go2Africa to anyone who has asked me about my vacation - I eagerly wait for the next opportunity so that I can get in touch with Go2Africa again to plan my next adventure!"
In safari-speak, the Green Season is defined as the 'quieter' time when Africa's summer rains fall, turning the dry savannah plains green and lush. Once seen as a time for travellers to stay away, the Green Season is actually one of the best times to be on safari.
Among the many things that regularly caught my eye during my visit to Zanzibar, the dhows always stood out. These traditional boats are still used for fishing and transport but have also been adopted by the locals to provide visitors with authentic sunset cruises and ocean safaris.