An African safari remains one of the greatest gifts we can award ourselves.
What a romantic setting it reveals with lions roaring by night, the call of a jackal at dawn, treks into the wilderness and stays in luxury lodges and remote mobile camps. Wide-open plains and abundant game invite discovery, 4×4 vehicles traverse untouched landscapes, the thrill of the unknown and the opportunity to reconnect with nature, be humbled by the big skies and offered insight into the ways of the wild.
Yet this African dream may feel out of reach for many.
Well your luck may be about to change as safari and destination specialists Safari365 are marking 10 years of creating unforgettable travel memories and in celebration giving away an incredible 10-day safari valued at more than $10 000. Partnering with British Airways, Wild Horizons, Simbavati, More Quarters and Le Franschhoek, Safari365 has put together this trip of a lifetime.
- 3 nights at the luxurious More Quarters Hotel in Cape Town
- A 15 minute helicopter flip over Cape Town (love!)
- 1 night in the spectacular Cape Winelands
- 3 nights on safari in search of the Big 5 at Simbavati River Lodge in Kruger National Park
- 2 nights at Victoria Falls at Ilala Lodge, including a sunset river cruise and tour of the falls)
- All internal flights and 4 days of car hire in Cape Town
All you need to do to enter is share your African travel dreams in three easy steps and you’ll stand a chance to win! Read more about the competition here.
I wish I could enter myself, but instead I’d like to inspire your choices and in keeping with the theme of tens, share my Top 10 African Experiences, which can all be booked through Safari365.
Africa is about game viewing and I’ve had extraordinary moments across Southern and East Africa where 4×4 vehicles guided by passionate guides and trackers have brought me moments that I’ll always carry with me. Whether it was in a great big game reserve or an intimately managed private park, where the game management and commitment to the animals is the focus, you will be richly rewarded.
A couple of years ago I realised a life-long dream and travelled to Uganda to join a small group for gorilla trekking in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. There are only about 800 gorillas are left in the wild, with 11 habituated families in Bwindi, which is home to about 400 of them. Only three groups of 8 are allowed on the mountain at any given time and permits are issued for this privilege.
On the big day we ventured into the forest, taking an established path for the first hour before turning into dense vegetation, which is cut back by machete as we go. After three hours of heavy walking through muddied undergrowth, ferns and fungi, under a canopy of tall trees, I caught my first glimpse of a gorilla and all was good with the world. The time with the gorillas is limited to an hour and we stayed with them as they moved towards a clearing in the trees. From a few metres away, I watch the sweet interaction between a baby and a silverback gorilla, their relaxed existence and said an extra prayer for their safety.
Every year over a million wildebeest and half a million zebra and antelope migrate north from the Serengeti to the adjoining Masai Mara in search of food and water. This natural phenomenon, as old as the land itself is triggered by seasonal rains as the herds move forward in search of the sweet, new grasses that wildebeest love.
Arriving in the Serengeti just as they did, I will never forget the sound of their grunting, the dust on the air and frenzied movement that quickly stills as they settle to eat and rest. As far as the eye can see, wildebeest interspersed with zebra, and opportunistic predators on the ready.
The word Mara literally means ‘spotted’, which refers to both the landscape patched with groves of acacia and thorn bushes, as well as the colour red of the earth that pushes through the grass. Sun bleached bones litter the land here as wildebeest and zebra graze nearby oblivious to the pack of lions that lie fully sated under a tree, legs in the air occasionally swatting at lazy flies, all the while looking deceptively domesticated.
Yet more than the abundant populations of game, the stately Masai tribe are resident here in tiny villages scattered across the land. I was invited to visit one of them, taking lessons in fire-making, sitting in one of the huts chatting about tradition and the need to protect theirs. There were conversations about values and truth, conservation and the challenge of coexistence with nature.
Did you know that the Masai wear red to stand out in the bush as a precaution against wild animals. Same with their decorative jewellery which is part celebratory yet also makes a warning noise to scare off wild animals.
Known as the Smoke that Thunders and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls cascades with full force into a deep crevice, shooting spray 400 metres into the sky, that is visible from up to 40 km away.
You know this, yet nothing quite prepares you for the sheer exhilaration of actually being there. Walking along the pathway that hugs the crevice, taking in the full force of the spray, soaked and excited as you gaze into the deep cascading waters below and count the rainbows catching the sun. In season, Livingstone Island adds an extra dimension to the visit.
Known as ‘the jewel of the Kalahari’, the Okavango Delta is on every safari enthusiast’s wish list and when you get there, you know exactly why. A unique oasis regarded as one of Africa’s best safari destinations, this important inland wetlands records 2500 species of plants, 65 of fish, 20 herbivores and their predators and more than 450 species of birds. This is a place of concentrated magic.
My highlights here was having my guide manoeuvre me through the reed-lined waterways in the traditional Mokoro or dugout canoe. It’s the quiet that struck me most and I could just sit and absorb the setting and the moment and how close we could get to the animals in this unobtrusive way. There are also drives from some camps and bush walks too.
I’ll never forget the first time I visited and climbed the red sand dunes of Sossusvlei in the southern part of the Namib Desert, in Namibia. Characterised by their vivid pink-to-orange colour, which indicates a high concentration of iron in the sand, the oldest dunes are those with a more intense reddish colour.
Said to be among the highest in the world; many of them are above 200 metres with Big Daddy, at about 380 metres high. The highest and more stable dunes are partially covered with a relatively rich vegetation, which is mainly watered by a number of underground rivers that seasonally flood the pans, creating marshes or vleis. Prepare to get sand in your shoes.
There’s something very humbling about being in an area that belongs to the wild. It’s more than just insight into how things were, even more than how they are meant to be. It’s actually, where nature happens. I spent five days in Pafuri, in the private 24,000 ha Makuleke Concession in the very remote and Northern part of the Kruger National Park where South Africa meets Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
Each day we walked for about 4 to 5 hours, a distance of about 10 kilometres, with water breaks and plenty of stops to look at tracks in the sand and find the birds calling out to us as we passed. We saw an abundance of wild animals, had a close encounter with an elephant and counted 35 crocodiles in the river we rested next to. In the evenings we returned to a basic mobile camp to reflect on our day and the fact that luxury lives in life’s experiences.
An area that speaks in the language of luxury beach cliches, the Quirimbas Archipelago off the northern coast of Mozambique, is where I spend some time soaking up the atmosphere from the Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort. Found on a private strip of land that juts out of allure blue waters, here you find an exclusive paradise escape that is the perfect place for water sports, from snorkelling the underwater world to water skiing and kayaking.
On the one day we even walked around the island at low tide, a distance of just on 5,3km. My highlight was sailing on a handcrafted dhow, with just the stirring of the sails and local fishermen for company. The water is so clear you can see all the way the way to the bottom.
Madagascar is truly a naturalist’s promised land with its thrilling diversity, intensely wonderful creatures and endless allure. The Andasibe National Park offers walks through montane forests with rare orchids, waterfalls, birds and a variety of lemur. Given its close proximity to the capital Antananarivo, this is one of the country’s most popular parks to visit for a night or two, or even as a day trip. It is also where you come to hear the call of the very special Indri Indri.
On my visit we trekked along shaded pathways, listening out for a cracking branch, movement above, or any indication of where the lemurs were. I was lucky enough to see the Eastern Lesser Bamboo Lemur, Common Brown Lemur, Black and White Ruffed Lemur, Woolly lemur, Sifaka and the much admired Indri – all ini their natural environment.
Hopefully some of these experiences have guided your Safari choice. Now all you have to do is connect right here and follow these three steps to stand a chance to win:
1. Select your dream African destinations.
2. Select your ideal experiences.
3. Enter your details.
Winners will be announced on 21 November 2016 so get entering right away!
The competition is open to all countries. Do note that only domestic flights are included, entrants from outside South Africa will need to get themselves here to take advantage of the prize. The prize is not transferable, you will need a valid Passport with necessary visas and do have the option of adding on to maximise on your time here.
Now get dreaming about your safari and let Safari365 welcome you to Africa!