There aren’t many travel experiences to top travelling in Africa, which can transport you into a whole new world of beauty, nature and wildlife. We asked the Lightfoot Travel team to name some of their favourite destinations for African safaris.
The Maasai Mara and beach time
Duration: 10 days
Kenya is a world of majestic animals, sweeping grasslands, sandy beaches and breathtaking sunsets. Start in the Maasai Mara, famous for its exceptional population of lions, leopards and cheetahs. Embark on a walking safari in the Great Rift Valley, indulge in romantic picnic on the kopje where scenes from Out of Africa were filmed, or enjoy the views from a hot-air balloon. Then, head to Loisaba in Laikipia County; a 56,000-acre wildlife conserve and a haven for more than 260 species of birds and 50 species of mammal (including wild dogs, thought for many years to be extinct in the region). Complete your trip at the super-luxe Alfajiri Villas in Diana Beach, an hour south of Mombasa.
Lightfoot tip: Don’t miss the annual migration of zebra, Thomson’s gazelle and wildebeest every year between July and October.
Wildlife and the Serengeti in Tanzania
Duration: 9 days
Home to vast craters, impressive lakes and sandy white beaches, Tanzania provides the ultimate safari experience. Start your adventure at Tarangire National Park, known for its hilly landscapes dotted with baobab trees, dense bush and high grasses. Herds of up to 300 elephants congregate here, while migratory wildebeest, zebras, buffalos, impalas and elands can also be seen. Spend time at Lake Manyara National Park, known for its flamingos, before continuing to the Ngorongoro Crater, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most famous wildlife areas in the world. Lastly, venture into the Serengeti, home to the Great Migration of wildebeest and zebras. Make the charming Dunia Camp your base and go wildlife viewing or birdwatching, or sit back and relax at camp while watching the animals on the grassy plains before you.
Lightfoot tip: Extend your stay and track chimpanzees, or go on a walking safari in the Serengeti with one of East Africa’s top safari guides.
Sand dunes and vast open pans
Duration: 10 days
Your journey to the wild, remote and stirring desert land of Namibia begins at Sossusvlei, home to the tallest red sand dunes in the world, which can rise to a staggering 330 metres. Stay at the lovely Little Kulala Lodge and embark on daily nature drives – make sure you set your clock early to see the vibrant colours of the dunes as the sun rises. You’ll continue to the Skeleton Coast to see remnants of shipwrecks, wind-swept plains, seal colonies, huge canyons, rolling sand dunes and beautiful salt pans. Complete your trip at the Kunene River where you can go boating, spot crocodiles, head on quad bike excursions and visit a Himba settlement – home to one of the last true semi-nomadic tribes in Africa.
Lightfoot tip: From this summer, you can stay at the newly refurbished Serra Cafema, located on the banks of Kunene River, which promises to be outstanding.
Deserts and waterways
Duration: 10 days
Luxury with a light footprint and exclusivity defines the high-end Botswana safari experience. Start your journey at Jack’s Camp, on the edge of the Kalahari Desert, with accommodation in tented suites with ensuite bathrooms and opulent 1940s-style décor. Your days will include walking with San trackers while looking for meerkats, zebras and wildebeest. Continue to the Okavango Delta and travel through the waterways in a traditional-style dugout canoe, or discover the richness of the area from horseback or a hot-air balloon. Spend your last few days hiking and canoeing on the Selinda Adventure Trail while searching for cheetahs, lions, leopards and other animals.
Lightfoot tip: Add a few days to your trip and visit the magnificent Victoria Falls, one of Africa’s original showstoppers.
Gorilla tracking and nature drives
Duration: 7 days
Walk in the footsteps of the rare and critically endangered mountain gorillas on a safari that takes you deep into the rainforests of Rwanda. You’ll head to the cultivated foothills of the Virungas and become immersed by rainforest, alive with colourful birds and butterflies. After weaving through overhanging vines, you’ll spend your days monitoring the gorillas, watching as they go about their daily life, feeding, playing, resting and raising their young. Stay at Bisate Lodge, a magnificent six-room villa that offers daily treks and encourages guests to participate in biodiversity conservation efforts as well as engaging with the local community.
Lightfoot tip: Extend your holiday with a visit to Akagera National Park – central Africa’s largest protected wetland – where you can spot everything from elephants to waterbucks and roan antelopes, plus nearly 500 bird species.
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This article first appeared in the June/July 2018 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.