Get Active: Take a journey in Africa
Too often these days travelling is seen as a necessity for going on holiday rather than an experience in and of itself. Sometimes it’s easy to forget the pleasure that can be taken when we make the journey an integral part of the trip.
This year, why not take a more active approach to your travels? Embrace the romance of African exploration with a luxury trip by rail, or choose to journey into the wilderness with just a guide and camp crew, spending a few nights in different remote areas. Even just slowing down to explore on foot can be an incredible way to sharpen your senses and see (and smell) your surroundings in a new light.
Here are our top suggestions for epic African journeys:
Great train adventures
Trying to do and see the multitude of South Africa’s highlights in one holiday can be a daunting prospect. Taking the train is one of the best and most relaxing ways to tackle this vast country, providing ample opportunity to enjoy the spellbinding scenery. A journey across the continent by train is up there amongst the top luxury African experiences.
There are a couple of ways to do it in style. Rovos Rail lays claim to being one of the most luxurious trains in the world. Guests can expect first-rate cuisine, deluxe suites and big picture windows in the lounge and observation cars. Journeys last from three nights to two weeks, with options including Pretoria to Cape Town or vice versa as well as longer trips to see Victoria Falls or the deserts of Namibia. For the ultimate land voyage, go coast to coast from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean. Stopping for wildlife drives, and visits to Victoria Falls and copper mines en route.
The famous Blue Train also serves the Cape Town to Pretoria route. Or tick Kruger National Park off the bucket list with a rail safari combination. For wider adventures throughout Southern Africa, the Shongololo Express operates out of Pretoria (part of the Rovos Rail luxury collection), offering trips into Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
Amazing mobile safaris
Led by a professional guide together with camp staff and everything required for a self-contained journey, mobile safaris are perfectly suited to the active traveller. With a focus on outstanding wildlife encounters – some mobile safaris are designed to follow wildlife as it congregates in specific areas – and amazing landscapes far from other people and lodges, this harks back to the original form of African adventure. It’s the definitive private safari, small groups staying in exclusive campsites, enjoying access to some of Africa’s most respected guides as they reveal the magic of the African bush.
Activities on a mobile safari can vary, there are dedicated walking safaris, others might involve canoeing, while others use vehicles or light aircraft to explore.
The trips last between four and twelve nights, camp travelling with you as you spend a few nights in each area. Staff will erect and dismantle the tents and prepare exquisite meals, leaving no trace when you set off for the next spot. Accommodation ranges from the simplicity of just a bed roll and a mosquito net to all-out luxury with tents complete with beds and fine linen. Remote locations on an African mobile safari needn’t mean compromising on comfort. Expect bucket showers and a camp crew dedicated to your every need.
Botswana is one of our favourite destinations to go on a mobile safari, its mighty swathe of pristine wilderness the ideal territory. The Botswana Explorer is a great example of a mobile safari, operating between Maun and Victoria Falls, visiting the Okavango Delta, Moremi Wildlife Reserve and Chobe National Park. Accommodation is provided in two-man dome tents with an adjoining bathroom, and with only six participants, everyone is guaranteed a window seat in the 4X4 for prime wildlife viewing.
Or head to Namibia for an unparalleled mobile safari experience, a flying safari along the Skeleton Coast. Operated by the Schoeman family, this trip affords access to some of the most remote landscapes on the continent as well as breath-taking sight-seeing from the air.
Authentic walking safaris
Walking is arguably the purest form of safari around. Zambia’s open spaces, beautiful scenery and excellent guides make it a world-class walking safari destination. Robin Pope Walking Safaris have garnered a reputation as the definitive wilderness experience of the wildlife-rich South Luangwa National Park. Over five days guests follow the Mupamadzi River on foot through remote and wild terrain, mobile camping as they go.
In Tanzania, a trek across the Serengeti National Park opens up exclusive wilderness zones that are off-limits to other visitors. Wayo Walking Safaris operate trips from two to seven nights, the camp moving every other night to allow guests to explore each location in depth. Given the flexibility of such trips, there’s the opportunity to coincide a walking safari with catching the wildebeest migration, a once in a lifetime experience.
We would be delighted to help you plan a safari encompassing any of the destinations mentioned here (or any of the many others from our little black books that we’ve built up since 1999). Our team of experts has travelled widely throughout Africa and can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris.
Do get in touch – chatting to people by phone or email is what we do best. We listen, we explain, we answer all sorts of questions even those you didn’t know to ask, and finally we make suggestions. If this is your first time to Africa or your twenty first, we have a team standing by to help make the planning easy and the journey the best ever. Please get in touch whatever stage you’re at.