Whether you’re young or old, have a family or are travelling alone, i’m sure a safari is up there on your ‘trips of a lifetime’ list. Who doesn’t want to see lions, giraffes, elephants and rhino’s in their natural habitat, right? It’s so much more rewarding seeing them there than in your local zoo. The idea of planning a safari trip can be daunting, how do you go about organising it? Where can I do it? Here I have compiled a handy list of different places you can go on safari depending on your priorities of what you want to see. I really hope it helps!
Best for riding
Ant’s Hill, the Waterberg, South Africa
With more than 90 horses ranging from thoroughbreds to kids’ ponies, Ant’s Hill offers safaris in the saddle for all levels, whether you’re a first-timer or keen to canter across the plains. On a private reserve in the Waterberg region, it has no lions or elephants but plenty of plains game, giraffes and even rhino. Being on horseback means you can get surprisingly close to the wildlife. Ant’s Hill’s (waterberg.net) cottages are individually designed with African touches and the family-friendly thatched lodge has fabulous views across the gorge.
Ol Pejeta Bush Camp, Laikipia, Kenya
Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a rare find: it truly embraces children, teaching them about cool conservation in an immersive and inspiring way. In east Africa’s largest black rhino sanctuary, youngsters over the age of six can track collared lions with researchers, watch chimpanzees during their noisy feeding frenzy, play hide-and-seek with anti-poaching sniffer dogs and even feed Sudan, the world’s last male Northern White rhino. The laid-back, family-friendly Ol Pejeta Bush Camp (asiliaafrica.com) has no age limit for children. Its six simply furnished but comfortable en suite tents have private gardens overlooking the Ewaso Nyiro river. Maasai staff will teach children to throw spears and shoot with bows and arrows.
Details US$400-$550pp per night, children under 3 are free, those aged 3-4 pay 30 per cent of the adult rate, with 5-18 at half the adult rate, travelling with Yellow Zebra Safaris (yellowzebrasafaris.com). Conservancy activities cost $40 per adult, $20 per child over 6, and include lion tracking, visits to the endangered species enclosure, anti-poaching dog demonstrations, and a trip to the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary.
Best for gorillas
Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Uganda
Observing rare mountain gorillas in the rainforest is the ultimate wildlife encounter. You’re normally permitted just one hour with these enigmatic apes. But at Bwindi you can now spend an entire morning helping to habituate gorillas as they become familiar with seeing different people. You’ll need to be fit — these two groups are more active than those that see tourists daily and might well run you ragged on the hillsides. Recover in Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge (wildplacesafrica.com), Uganda’s highest lodge at 2,100m, with personal butlers, a masseuse and a great feel-good factor through its community involvement. The seven beautiful cottages feature artwork from some of Uganda’s most renowned artists.
Best off the beaten track
Meno a Kwena, Botswana
Meno a Kwena lies near the remote Makgadikgadi Pans National Park between the Okavango Delta and the arid expanse of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Rarely visited, the region is incredibly rewarding for those who venture here, with a little-known migration of about 20,000 zebra, mesmerising landscapes of endless salt pans, fascinating walks with bushmen revealing their life in the wilderness, and desert wildlife that includes cute meerkats. Meno (menoakwena.com) is a quirky camp with nine colourful en suite tents, a swimming pool, a floating hide and bags of character. Overlooking the Boteti River, it’s a fabulous spot for stargazing, for sunsets and for watching wildlife as the animals gather in the dry season.
Best for guiding
Serian Mara, Mara North Conservancy, Kenya
Nothing contributes more to a successful safari than a knowledgeable, personable guide who can effortlessly reveal the secrets of the African bush. Serian allows guests to join its award-winning guides as they brush up on their skills during their annual Pyramids of Life courses, which cover everything from fauna and flora to ancient bushlore and astronomy. One of just 11 camps in the 320sq km Mara North Conservancy bordering the Maasai Mara Reserve, Serian (serian.com) is a beautiful, unpretentious camp with five spacious and elegant tents that each have hardwood flooring, thatched roofs and views across the valley.
Have you been to any of these places? Would you like to share your safari experiences with the Chile Contact community? I would love to hear from you! Gracias!