Sabbatical safaris to reset and rejuvenate
We’ve put together several, bucket list-amazing, sabbatical holidays and thought we should share how brilliantly a jaunt to Africa can activate the re-set button. From two weeks to two months (or more), these trips can be planned as part of a worldwide holiday or stand alone, and for couples, families or single travellers.
The getting away from it all sabbatical
Expect: Limited WiFi, near-empty national parks (human that is, not wildlife), walking safaris and beach lodges that buck the trend.
Our suggestions: Start upstream of the Victoria Falls where you can slot into the pace of African life at somewhere like Sindabezi Island, an idyllic five-chalet isle on the Zambezi River. Then head to Tusk and Mane for a real back to nature wilderness adventure in the Lower Zambezi National Park. Split your stay between two remote camps and you can enjoy day and night game drives, walking safaris, boat cruises, canoeing and fishing amid superb wildlife.
Next up is Kafue and the Busanga plains – one of Zambia’s least explored yet most rewarding wildlife destinations, famous for lion and prolific plains wildlife. Intriguing Chisa Busanga Camp, where treetop pods designed to mimic birds’ nests overlook the shallow wetlands and flood plains, is the perfect base here. Now well into the swing of things it’s time to explore on foot. Split six days between Time + Tide’s Luwi, Kakuli and Mchenja camps in the South Luangwa National Park, walking from one to the next and you’ll get to experience the Luangwa Valley at it’s very best. Leaving the wildlife behind we’d suggest your final stop should be the incredible Kaya Mawa, in the middle of Lake Malawi, for a week of utter spoiling.
The splurge sabbatical
Expect: Luxurious lodges, conservation and sustainability ethos, iconic wildlife, sensational beach
Our suggestions: If you are really up for doing Africa once, at its very best, then this would be fabulous. Start with two days gorilla tracking in Rwanda, based at the extremely elegant Singita Kwitonda or adjacent villa, Kataza House. Hop across the border to Tanzania and the Serengeti where the luxury Singita experience continues. First at Singita Sasakwa Lodge, set on a hill with glorious views over the grasslands where the big wildlife roams freely, and then with Singita Explore, a sole-use mobile camp for up to 12 guests.
It’s hard to beat the Serengeti but the Ngorongoro Crater comes very close and in Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, perched on the crater rim, you’ll find ornate architecture jostling with some of the world’s best wildlife viewing. For once, jaw-dropping is entirely appropriate. While some layovers can seem like dead nights you could never say that of Giraffe Manor, an extraordinary spot where giraffe wander through the gardens poking their heads through windows searching for treats. A night or two here and you connect onwards to the Seychelles and Denis Island.
This tiny spec in the middle of the Indian Ocean is a paradise of waving palms, powder-white beaches, charming cottages and glorious cuisine.
The conservation sabbatical
Expect: Interesting characters, behind-the-scenes access, active involvement
Our suggestions: To get stuck into a conservation safari you need to spend a decent amount of time in each place, so our first suggestion would be to spend a week at least on every stop. Northern Kenya is the start point on this trip, where Michael Dyer and Borana Lodge are at the heart of one of East Africa’s most successful rhino sanctuaries.
With activities such as tracking black and white rhino on foot you’ll get an exclusive glimpse of life behind the scenes of a trailblazing conservation area while experiencing the pristine wilderness on horseback, foot, bicycle and open top Land Rovers. Swapping rhino for elephant, we’ll arrange for you to stay at Elephant Watch Camp in the Samburu Reserve where Iain Douglas-Hamilton set up Save the Elephants more than 20 years ago. The camp is home to Iain’s daughter Saba Douglas-Hamilton who is both a wonderful guide and passionate conservationist – quite simply the ‘best of the best’ when it comes to African elephant conservation.
It’s not only Kenya’s wildlife that’s under threat; communities too are under the spotlight. Plan some time at Bandas in the Wild, part of the House in the Wild collection, in the Masai Mara and you have the opportunity to experience real life Africa while working on innovative ways to improve livelihoods and conserve wildlife. Whether you stay one week or three months you will make a meaningful contribution to conservation and community projects.
Another great option are the two newly opened Marataba Conservation Camps in South Africa, where activities are focused on balancing tourism with nature, with active participation in conservation projects a key focus. Tracking and monitoring come high on the list, with census logging also among the activities. Time your stay with the annual rhino conservation week and you can take part in rhino monitoring, DNA collection and notching. Founders’ Camp is exclusive-use, Explorer’s Camp is taken on a semi-exclusive basis. Private guides at each ensure utmost flexibility.
The best bits of Africa sabbatical
Expect: City, wilderness, wildlife, culture
Our suggestions: Choosing the best bits of Africa is a tough ask and there are myriad options for this one. Here’s just an idea of what we might select. Start in Cape Town to enjoy good food, culture and activities. Then nip across to the Kruger and the private Sabi Sands reserve for superb wildlife and luxurious accommodation at Tengile River Lodge. Botswana would have to be on the list, so a combination of Duba Plains in the Okavango Delta and Selinda Camp in the Linyanti area to get the best of everything here.
Victoria Falls is easy to access from Botswana’s wilderness so The River Club would make a good stop for a few nights’ R&R. You can’t do the ‘best’ without stopping off in the Masai Mara and Offbeat Ndoto would be the choice here. In the private Mara North Conservancy it’s a four-tent gem, perfectly positioned to make the most of the superb wildlife. Gorillas would certainly be on the ‘to do’ list and three nights in Rwanda at Bisate Lodge would sort that.
The beach would need to feature too and if diving is on the list then somewhere like Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives, would be the perfect spot.
Any questions on sabbatical safari holidays?
If you’ve got this far and not found an answer to a question you have that we should have included, please ask in the comments section below, or pop us an email. We’ll be sure to reply and may amend the article to include our answer.
We would be delighted to help you plan a holiday, or answer any questions if you’re at an earlier stage. Our team of experts have travelled widely throughout Africa. They can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris. If you would like to talk to someone who has been there and done it, please just send us an email or give us a call.